The Tracks in the Dark
After a woman's screams are heard from outside the town gates, the villagers rouse themselves into a panic and frantically search the everywhere for missing townsfolk or sailors. With everyone accounted for though the townsfolk refuse to search any more.
Olaf the dwarf however, pleads with them until they're eventually convinced to open the gates and let the outsiders search the woods for the origin of the scream. Reluctantly and with the greatest of hesitation, they open the gates and let the outsiders through. Almost immediately after they're through the gates the townsfolk close the gates and our intrepid explorers hear a great thud as the gate is barred from the inside.
Finally free of the confines of Covetown, Celdor lets out a sigh of relief. His senses are soothed by the familiar feeling of the forest as it washes over him. Finally, he thinks to himself. Almost immediately, he finds goblin tracks not far from the gate but there's no evidence of anyone else. Briefly, Celdor eyes the mischievous looking gnome and remembers the magic he'd seen other bards use while on the road. Quickly he pushes his concerns to one side and moves forward.
The Dwarf, Olaf seems a noble sort. Somewhat too quick to go looking for damsel in distress but perhaps Celdor's original assumptions of the dwarf were misguided. Olaf, asserts himself as a leader of sorts and casts a strange spell that turns his ornate hammer into a bright blue torch. With the Dragonborn, mouth full of food and muttering to a squirrel while carrying the gnome, right in front of the wizard who is closely followed by the quite paladin, Olaf uses his family heirloom to guide the rest of the party forward, following Celdor, who unhindered by the forest moves ahead. Following alongside the tracks, he keeps an eye out for more signs of the goblins.
As they delve deeper into the dark forest Olaf begins to second guess his quest to find the screaming lady and the strange history of his hammer. He longs for the warmth of his hearth, the fine stone work of his kin and the comforts of family life. He feels lost out in this living locale. Soon enough, he hears noises alien to him and feels something brush against his leg. Struggling to keep a hold of himself the light of his family's hammer begins to wane. This, of course sends him further into a state of panic as his light flashes on and off the shadow begin to mock him, dancing around maniacally.
Overcome with fear he watches as his hammer fades into blackness but as the warmth of the hammer dissipates a hand reaches out for his shoulder. At first, out of fear he turns to strike the space invader but instantly is disarmed by the kindly gaze and warm touch of the muttering Dragonborn. She comforts him, lights a torch from her own and passes it to the dwarf with the softest of smiles. Bolstered by this he quells his fears and urges them forward.
Celdor, not far ahead watches this unfold and decided then and there he would help this druid find her magical pot. Her compassion towards a stranger (and a dwarf no less) reminded him of what it was like to travel with companions, friends and maybe even family. Perhaps he'd been travelling alone for too long. Still though... a dwarf and a high elf?
Moving through the forest it becomes denser with undergrowth and difficult terrain. Celdor squints to find the tracks but just as he begins to question himself he hears a yelp of surprise from the wizard. He looks back to see the group huddled around a patch on the ground. He hesitantly turns around to investigate. As he suspected, a second set of goblin tracks. Fresh and moving with a swiftness that alarms Celdor but before he can voice his concerns they hear a chirp above their heads and the resourceful squirrel, Biscuit clambers down the tree and begins squeaking fervently at the Dragonborn.
Before the gnome can relay what the furball had to say, as if from no where an arrow flies through the trees and hits the gnome square in the back, knocking him from the comfort of the Dragonborn's shoulder. Face down in the dirt a dark red liquid pools around the body of the gnome but before anything can be done to help the little one the forest awakens with the whistling sound of arrows piercing the sky and then, the Dragonborn.
Both Celdor and the wizard spot the assailants at the same time. Three goblins with short bows are standing in a clearing up ahead. From the corner of his eye Celdor sees the wizard throw something old and tattered, perhaps a cloth or strip of leather high above their heads but as it falls it glimmers in the moonlight and before it hits the ground, disappears in a golden flash. Instinctively, Celdor fires an arrow at the closest goblin. It finds it's target, knocking him down but as he hits the ground he writhes and calls out in pain. For a moment, over the wretched wailing of the beast, Celdor hears ever so faintly, the rush of water.
Quickly, the rest of the party gather around the wounded forming a crude circle of defence. Then suddenly the gnome lifts himself to his knees and laughs at the 'circle' declaring it a square and the party fools as he casts a strange spell that illuminates the goblins. Amazed the little gnome could take such a shot and still jest, let alone cast spells the Drow sniggers at the hearty little bard.
The Dragonborn however, is huddled on the ground, bleeding heavily from the wound on her back but just as Celdor begins to worry, the stoic paladin, Arianna moves with the swiftness of an eagle and chants a prayer and waves her arms, somewhat ludicrously but as she does so her hands glow a sky blue as if her prayer is manifesting in her hands and she places them on the wounded druid. Miraculously she stands tall and proud but as she does so she sways slightly and burps, not unlike a tavern dweller whose had too much fire-whiskey and as she leans over, surely to vomit from the pain she looks powerful and focused. A dark sickly green liquid shoots from her mouth and clears the thirty feet between them and the enemy. Showering two of the goblins in a thick acid like liquid, killing one of them outright.
Olaf, no longer afraid, no longer out of place but stout and true, raises his heavy shield and yells an incantation in thick dwarfish that sounds not as if it comes from the dwarf but from the forest itself, it glows brightly and the light engulfs him. Celdor, tries to aim his bow at the second of the archer fiends but is overcome with the stench of burning flesh, his elf eyes glistening with water he shoots wide and misses. The wizard, again moving as quickly as Celdor calls forth in the elfish tongue and a hue of green envelops the wizard. For a split second, Celdor is reminded of the selfishness of high elves as this one seeks to defend himself once more.
Then, out of the shadows, three arrows fly past the party but this time from behind them. Another party of 3 goblins appear. Just as he begins to feel overwhelmed Celdor watches in amazement as the gnome, again moves quicker than his health should allow, shoots one of the acid covered goblins, knocking him down dead. Then as quickly as he shot, the gnome chuckles to himself and face plants the bloodied ground and begins to crawl forward, covering himself with the under bush as he goes.
As more arrows fly through the trees, the Dragonborn revitalised, moves with purpose and after speaking in a strange tongue, as if using a second voice she summons a cloud of smoke around the second group of attackers but in doing so she left herself open to another arrow which finds it's way to the Dragonborn but ready for it, the Arianna with her hands still glowing, again places them on the Dragonborn. Was that all from her prayer?
Ear to ear Celdor grins, sure of their victory but just as he's ready to cheer in elation there's another whistle and a sharp pain spreads from his shoulder across his chest. He looks down and watches the blood start pouring out. An arrow hit him hard in the shoulder, he can feel the blade tip scratching against his bone.
He begins to falter, his vision blurred and his consciousness drifting from his grasp he begins to slip into darkness but as he does so he hears, from another plane the booming laughter of the Orc Chief. Celdor drops to one knee as he pulls an arrow from his quiver, he stoops, low, shaking with pain as the blood drips down, his hazy eyes cheating him now he's seeing double but through the pain he holds, waiting for the opportune moment then almost as if the stars willed it, the trees sway and the moonlight dances on the point of the arrow and just as he sees the white of his enemy's eye, he releases the bowstring and like the glide of a great eagle, the arrow flies true and hits the goblin in the eye, killing it instantly.
The wizard, looking almost as if he remembered something very important, muttered something in clean elvish dialect and from his hands blast three great bright and burning projectiles that find their way into the fog, followed by the whelp of Goblins. Perhaps this wizard has more to him than he lets on.
Celdor spinning on the spot and stumbling from the pain his final shot caused him sees the once scared dwarf charge head first into the fog, bellowing a deep and powerful war cry. Two goblins dash forward out of the fog to meet the dwarf but as they do so fear sets on their wicked faces for the Dragonborn and Arianna also charge forward with the dwarf and withdraw their weapons. The Dragonborn's scimitar pierces the closest goblin. The last goblin, looked dead into Olaf's eye and with a cackle leaps forward arms outstretched but the dwarf digs in with one ankle and spins on the spot parrying the attack and swings his hammer in an upward arc and knocks the head clean off the goblin. It soars high up past the canopy of the forest before slamming back down and dropping straight into a rabbit hole in one smooth motion.
The fog clears and it seems the final goblin had run off in fear. The wounded party gather themselves and search the bodies of the dead. Celdor reaches over to search one of the dead goblins but looks up as the gnome starts laughing, it seems the wee bard had crawled on his belly over to the bodies and had already been through their pockets. He was fingering a small object of some kind with a strange language on it but Celdor took no notice of the trinket as he studied the crude but sturdy short bow of the Goblin he'd shot in the eye.
While the rest of the party were gathering their belongings and searching the dead, Olaf moves to heal the Dragonborn once more for somewhere in the battle she'd taken another hit but was set right thanks to the cleric's healing powers.
Celdor, trying to stifle the pain from his wound convinces his new friends to move back in formation so he can scout ahead and find somewhere to camp. As he slinks off into the darkness, he thinks back on all he'd seen his companions do and he swore to himself he wouldn't lead them into a trap again, from here on in he'd be a better scout for it's not just his own life in his hands now. Then the forest opened up to the river and he sees a spot perfect to make camp, he smiles, the night is over. He begins to search for firewood but as he looks up, he sees two Goblins, standing next to the mossy entrance of what is clearly a goblin dwelling.... fuck.