We set out from WhiteRock with 15 silver pieces each in our pockets courtesy of the coffers of the good citizens. I guess that is what they consider our lives worth. I did take careful note of where my friends put their silver. Some of that was force of habit. The rest is me watching in case I have to take an “unapproved loan” at some point. What the party doesn’t know won’t hurt them.
We tried to convince the livery owner to loan us his two horses, but he was not interested in loaning them – only selling them. I could have stolen them – I am a Guild Thief by trade, but common sense comes into play. Guild Rule #12: You don’t rob your own roost.
We set out for the Gellesian Fields with two of us riding ponies and the others on foot. I’d been to the Fields in my youth, we all had. Fathers take their sons there as a rite of passage, to tell the tales of the glorious battles fought there. I wasn’t that impressed when I made the journey. I was not a fighter nor did I want to be one. I preferred to make my money the old-fashioned way, taking it from the rich.
Our second night on the road there were some noises off to the west. With the rolling hills they were hard to make out, so I woke the others to join me. Bor couldn’t see in the black of night so Althalus tried to summon an illusionary torch for him to carry. I like to think his heart is in the right place. It was, of course, pure folly, a classic Althalus stunt. There are times I wonder if that warlock does things like that just to make me laugh or is he serious?
We never did find out what the sounds were coming from. In the end we opted to depart. This suited me just fine – as I have said many times, I am not a fighter. I’m in this for the money (after the Guild takes its 20%). Guild Rule #1: The Guild always gets its cut – even from the dead.
Midday on the third day on the road north, we came across eight copper coins, two of which were stained with dried blood. They were on the road and off to the east. Copper coins, hardly worth picking them up from my perspective. We moved out and by evening found the remains of some human-like creatures, flayed, in a heap at the bottom of a small valley. The stink of decaying flesh made my eyes water. Flies swarmed around the remains in sickening gray
clouds. Whatever had happened to these wretched souls had happened days earlier. To me, it looked as if they had been flayed – not just murdered. I was all for checking the bodies, (Guild Rule #46 The dead have no use for gold,) but night was coming and the thought was that we would come back in the morning. No one was keen on being down with the dead when night came.
Our plan was changed on the fifth watch – my watch. It began with voices on the night breeze. I couldn’t make out what they said, but they were murmurs in the darkness, barely discernible as language. Then came the reflections of light coming from where the rotting carcass’s lay.
I woke up Theren and the others and he and I agreed to scout out the source of the sounds. We crept forward in the tall cool grass, wet with dew. I reached the crest of the hill and slowly lifted my head for a better view. I came up face-to-face with a goblin. “Ahh-reee!” it squealed, stabbing at my arm with its dagger. My armor deflected it, my bladder released a bit, and the battle was on.
I’ve never face goblins before. They were spry, nimble, angry little buggers. Arrows filled the air along with javelins, mostly aimed at Theren and me. I got hit twice – enough to convince me to start to fall back and to bleed profusely (I didn’t really have to be convinced of that part). As I thinned my blood supply, Theren turned and had a gob-javelin sticking out of his left shoulder, still in the fight. Poor Bor, he rushed to the crest, pulled out his throwing ax, let it fly – only to have it skid in the sod right at one of the goblin’s feet. Althalus conjured his accursed eldritch blast on two of the creatures, making one’s head explode in a sickening red-green mist. Arius’s enchanted blade lit with eerie holy fire and he set one of the creatures ablaze with his magic. Five of the creatures fell before the others fled into the night. We toyed with the idea of pursuit – but it seemed foolish. I don’t know much about goblins, but I feared they might be luring us back to a larger camp.
The next day we awoke to find one of our ponies, Pedro, was gone. The goblin footprints near his cut reins was as infuriating as the fact it happened on my watch. Mine! I am the expert in stealthy movements – and one of those creatures got the best of me. I hate to think about what they might do with that pony – or what they could have done to us. I found solace in the Guild Rules, #210 Revenge is a right that can be delivered at the most inconvenient time. That goblin would pay – just not that night.
Theren and Althalus checked out the dead both from our battle and those bodies left there. The only thing out of the ordinary was the goblins…they were a rough cloth tunic with the letter “L” on it, far too ornate for goblins. Was this a sign of their tribe or something else? Was I the only one that wondered what goblins were doing in this region? The road to the Fields was safe when I was a child. This was not safe – not at all. What were goblins doing this far south?