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]
Circling each other, Burian and the hobgoblin chieftain measured each other up as the rest of the group settled again the back wall to watch the fight from out of harm’s way. Knott and Drenk were uneasy with the situation, though neither of them really felt up to fighting three hobgoblins, their giant of boss and the strange goblin who had just appeared from behind the throne.
Jester seemed to be enjoying the ongoing event, playing idly with his new dragon skull while watching the fight, but kept his eyes scanning for any sign of treachery from the goblinoids. Kalashnikov had a strange look in his eyes, somewhere between a lust for blood and a jealous hunger, as he warred within himself. One aspect of his personality just wanted his do-gooder brother dead, but the other wanted to personally take the final blow, so he contented himself with letting the combat play out.
In the ring, Burian was watching his opponent throw a few warm-up punches, as he limbered up and called forth his inner beast. Looking the hobgoblin dead in the eyes, he released the beast with a yell, which turned into a bestial roar as his snout lengthened and his body grew to three times the size.
The druid’s matted beard was soon lost in the rapidly emerging fur all over his body, and the pads of his hands grew into massive paws, claws emerging razor-sharp from the flesh. His body hardened up, his teeth growing into great fangs and he now towered over the hobgoblin. Pounding his chest, the Burian-bear spat blood from the change on the floor and prepared to strike.
“Well then,” the hobgoblin grabbed his greatsword, much to the chagrin of Burian-bear “He says fisticuffs, then changes into a bear!”
Bear-Burian tried to mime punches with his claws, but in the process left himself open to the first swing of the hobgoblin’s sword, and felt the weapon dragging through his tough flesh. Spinning in response, the bear snapped his jaws at the hobgoblin while flailing his claws. Neither attack landed, as Burian was still getting used to this form, leaving the hobgoblin undamaged.
Outside the makeshift arena, Jester fingered a piece of jerky from his and leant back against the wall, ready to enjoy the fight whichever way it went, while Kalashnikov started blowing a shrill tune on his magical whistle.
The hobgoblin spun round, bringing his greatsword up in a powerful arc, and plunged it down towards the bear, carving a ragged rent in the side of Burian’s new body. Bellowing in pain, the bear couldn’t catch the surprisingly-nimble hobgoblin with his jaws, but as the boss jumped backwards, Burian caught him between his claws.
The gigantic paws of the bear crashed into the chieftain’s armour, and he winced, the claws digging in around armour plates, drawing rivers of blood from fleshy areas. Where his armour was hit directly, bear-Burian could see sparks flying from the collision between claw and metal.
Recovering from his first blood, the hobgoblin brought his greatsword up underneath the bear, slicing into one of Burian’s legs, before placing his shoulder into the bear’s stomach as pushing his towards the shaft in the centre of the room. Glimpsing the drop behind him, Burian pushed back against his opponent and gestured wildly at his companions.
Seeing the bear motioning towards them, the group looked around uncertainly, as it clearly wasn’t going well for their compatriot. Kalashnikov was still in a world of his own, but Jester just shrugged, indicating that there wasn’t much he could, or indeed would, do.
Fighting even more furiously for his life now, Burian rallied at the pit edge and pressed back against the hobgoblin, unleashing a flurry of blows from his claws. Two swipes hit the chieftain along his leg and under his shoulder, winding him before Burian’s head flew in and he tore a gash along the hobgoblins’ arm with his maw.
Looking in bad state now, the hobgoblin staggered back a couple of steps, fixed his eyes upon bear-Burian’s and let loose an almighty scream. Raising his blade in a berserker charge, the hobgoblin warboss struck the bear with such force that Burian’s wild shape was destroyed, his bear form shifting back into his dwarven body even whilst the greatsword carved its way into his flesh.
A huge slice cut into his chest and stomach, Burian dropped to the floor, while the hobgoblin stood, breathing raggedly and wavering on his feet. He looked down at the fallen dwarf, spat on his back and turned to the group of shocked adventurers.
Drenk, Knott and the gnome looked on aghast as Burian fell, his bear-form having seemed so powerful, if lumbering, and even Jester was a little shaken to see his stout and sturdy ally defeated. A mixture of anger and delight covered Kalashnikov’s face, as even he was unsure how he was going to respond to the defeat and presumable death of his brother.
The hobgoblin raised his greatsword triumphantly but wearily, bringing it high over the dwarf’s neck, before calling out.
“I’ve bested him, the question is, do you let me kill him? Or, now that he is shut up, do we talk?”
“We talk.” Kalashnikov said, his anger seeping away, while Drenk responded similarly, “We talk, can we take his body and go?”
“Thank you for doin’ us this community service. Now let us speak like gentleman.” Kalashnikov continued, eying the body of his brother, broken but not quite dead.
At this, the weary hobgoblin lowered his weapon and walked back to his stone throne. But as he made to sit down on the throne, the goblin who had been tarrying around the rocky furniture grabbed her staff, and slammed it into the hobgoblin’s back.
Extremely weakened from the fight, the hobgoblin fell, hitting the floor with a sickening crack, and the goblin stood on his corpse.
“Alright! My kingdom is mine again. Now then, you wanted to talk. I will thank you for killing this one,” the shaman spoke, and the other hobgoblins knelt to the new goblin king, “Let’s talk.”