This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
[Before reading, please be aware that there may be spoilers ahead for the D&D campaign books. Equally, our stories are fluid, so things may not follow the books too directly]
“Time to go to the boss. Get up.” one of the hobgoblins called out, at what must have been early morning, if only the companions could see outside. Woken from their uneasy slumber, they all felt significantly better than they did the night before, with wounds scabbed over and aches relieved.
They followed the hobgoblin bodyguards into the tower again, where the goblin shaman was reclining on her reclaimed throne. She was joined now by a lowly goblin advisor, a replacement for the position she had just outgrown.
“Our deal is now due! You owe me Belak’s head, but any proof of his death will suffice. Go get it!”
“Now, the previous incumbent mentioned that he killed one of his prisoners, but what of the others?” Jester asked, thinking of the gold ring he had stashed in his pocket.
“Durnn, the hobgoblin usurper, sent any humans he found down to Belak. I don’t care about any prisoner, take ’em.”
“Prisoner or prisoners?” Burian asked, picking up on the shaman’s neutral comment.
“I…don’t care…you humans all look the same.” She waved her hand dismissively as almost all the party bristled at being called human.
“Anyway, I found this while we were getting Durnn’s body ready for dinner,” she held up a flask full of healing potion, “I think you might need it. You there, you helped me move his body, you can have his meagre spoils.”
Jester came over at her call and hid the healing potion on his person, but he had a feeling this wasn’t everything she’d “procured” from the body.
“So you want us to kill Belak for you?”Levan started, “but we don’t have much information about him, what do you know of this outcast?”
“Well…he’s old….very old…and taller than me. He’s definitely not a goblin…not a knight…and not the other girl. Oh, and he’s the only one not wearing armour most of the time! Does that help?”
“Mmmm. That it does, thank ye for yer gracious council,” Kalashnikov buttered the goblin up, “we’ll be off now, got things to do, apples to find, humans to kill. What a good day it’s gonna be!”
The climb into the well was arduous, as the vines were more than a little unstable. While they were withered-looking, the cores were still strong, but they slipped along the stone walls as the crew descended.
Soon they were lit only by the violet light, and some quiet bets were made on what was actually causing this strange phenomenon. The dwarven warlock refused to take any chance though, and he summoned fiendish vigour to bolster himself as they got closer to the bottom.
The light was emanating from a wide variety of luminescent mushrooms, and as they reached the bottom of the well it opened into a large cavern. The wide space had obviously once been a grand room, but the upheaval of the citadel had ruined the space. Now a garden of fungi and strange saplings, the area was damp and chilly, with a smell of decay pervading the room.
Dropping lightly to the floor, the group attempted to take their bearings, but Kalashnikov and Burian wandered off quickly. The dwarves had seen possibility in the fungi, and both started gathering choice pieces of fungus to test for brew viability.
With the rest of the group despairing at their blundering onto danger, the dwarven brothers almost simultaneously touched something they weren’t expecting. Kalashnikov madly grabbed every purple mushroom in reach, until his fingers brushed along a large piece of cloth. He followed the trail of cloth upwards, dropping mushrooms as he stood up to see a robed figure, holding a shovel over his head.
“Can ah help yeh?”
Meanwhile, Burian was gathering less-violently coloured fungus on his shield, and his eyes occasionally flicked across to the sapling closest to him. Something seemed a little off, and every time he looked at it, it appeared to have changed minutely. Puzzled by it, he lowered his head, then immediately brought it back up. Suddenly the sapling was much closer to him, and he could see a vicious wooden face, a picture of spite, leering at him.