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]
With two of the party down, the adventurers were in dire straits after the clash with the goblins, with little magic to help them fix up their wounds.
Remembering that the gnome seemed to be out of power, Burian shifted fluidly back to his dwarven body whilst Kalashnikov looked on it disgust, before heading over to the mound of bodies. The druid shifted the goblin “victor” off the gnome’s carved-up chest, and passed the gnome over to Drenk, who set to work stabilising him and patching up his wounds as best he could. The half-orc seemed to have some measure of success, as the gnome started breathing a little more regularly, but it may have just been the care of his god that kept him alive.
Burian cast cure wounds on Jester, and the rogue was pulled back from the brink by the druid’s last reserves of magical power. The javelin wounds sewed themselves back together, as well as a multitude of smaller cuts over his body, and finally Jester’s swam back into focus.
“W…where was I? I had this horrible dream! I was packaged up in a broken position on Logan’s back, like some pack of spare parts carried by a wookiee bear over its shoulders!”
The half-elf sat slowly up, supported by Burian, and was confronted with a vision from his hallucination. Kalashnikov had grabbed a hammock from the guard post, and Drenk was using it to create a makeshift pack for the gnome, so that Logan could carry the severely wounded acolyte securely.
“That! I looked like that! But…but…my legs didn’t fit and they were stuffed in the wrong way…well at least it’s not me in there now, I suppose.” he said, standing unsteadily.
Meanwhile, Kalashnikov had returned to his favourite activity, looting the corpses of the fallen. He didn’t find much of use, especially as he had dissolved the flesh of some of the goblins, but he pulled off the remnants of five chainmail shirts from the goblins.
“T’ small f’ me, but perfect for a gnome,” the warlock said, “although, we could definitely do something for Logan with all these…”
Burian and Knott inspected the guard room themselves, finding yet more of the putrid wine and rotten jerky that the goblins seemed to love. The imperious elf insisted that he could “do better than these idiot dwarves”, but even he struggled to find anything of worth.
As the party got themselves ready to leave, Kalashnikov Rowntree started giggling to himself before it grew into a full guffaw. The others were all confused, until Drenk relented and asked him what was so funny.
“I….haha…I’ve literally got a dead man on the back of a dead man!” he forced out, but the others didn’t quite see the funny side. Knott tutted, and lead the group through the northern doors, heading to the quiet door at the end.
Shushing them all with his finger on his lips, he asked the recently recovered rogue to inspect both doors. The southern door was definitely not trapped, well probably not trapped, judging on Jester’s track record, and nor was the door at the west end of the corridor.
Nodding between the group, Jester opened the west door slowly, and was met by the tip of three spears, held by three burly hobgoblins. Too far away and not fast enough to strike, Jester quickly pulled the door closed, turning to look worriedly at the rest of the group.
“So, ah, they know we’re here then.” he stammered out. The rest of the group looked on as Drenk walked to the door and knocked, shouting “Housekeeping!”, hoping it would confuse the denizens for a little longer.
“Now, ah know ah don’t usually take this approach, but ah reckon these hobgoblins might respect a bit of Kalashnikov’s intimidating attitude. Rather than a diplomatic approach, I mean.” Burian pondered, and when no one could come up with a better idea, he gestured for Drenk to open the door.
The wounded and definitely-low-strength party walked through the door, Kalashnikov leading the way with his puffed-up swagger. The tower room they entered was large and domed at the top, in much better shape than the tower they entered by. Across the centre of the room lay a huge well, stretching into darkness, with vines coating the interior walls.
These vines were shown to be sickly shades of white and grey by a dim violet light emanating from the well, as well as four big torches spaced around the room. About forty foot in diameter, there was plenty of space to manoeuvre around the well, and on the far side was a large stone throne, with a footstool in front of it.
Jester’s sharp half-elven eyes could make out a lock on the iron footstool, revealing it as a large chest. Besides the throne was a stone pot, seemingly containing a sapling, and the Roundtree brothers’ eyes went wide at the sight of this, and the possibilities it held.
Slowly getting out of the throne was a large figure, evidently chief of this tribe of goblins, and his bronzed skin marked him out as a powerful hobgoblin. Making pains to appear disturbed from a rest, the hobgoblin kept his beady eyes on the group of weary adventurers walking into his chamber.
“Who are you? Why have you come here and killed my goblins? But most importantly, what have you done to my new pet? That dragon was a worthy prize!” the boss called out, taking his time walking towards them, evidently confident in his own power.
Kalashnikov stepped up to the plate with impressive aplomb, puffing himself up even further and bellowing across the room at the hobgoblin, pushing the spear-holding hobgoblins back with the sound of his voice.
“Ah haven’t come all this fucking way for these fucking apples, for you lot to get in mah fucking way. Continue being in mah way and mah friend, the legendary Wolverine will fucking rip you apart,” the warlock threatened, and the hobgoblin boss was visibly taken aback, before marshalling himself and responding to this challenge in kind.
“This is my tribe. I will not be shouted at, and you certainly get out of here alive if you carry on like that. Did you kill my prized dragon?” responded the chieftain.
“No, no, that was the other guys!” Drenk tried to bluff, before scooping a blob of goblin gloop from his brow and changing tack, “actually, yeah, yeah we did. And you can leave now if you want.”
“Look, you get us those apples, and we don’t kill you. That seems like a fair deal t’ me.” Burian added, trying to add to the intimidation.
“You aren’t the first ones to come through here, killing your way to get the throne. How do you think I got it?” the hobgoblin said with a smirk.
“We’re not after the throne,” Drenk replied, but Burian’s slightly-addled mind was already formulating a dangerous plan…