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.
Tales of the Yawning Portal:
After informing their overly-pleased-with-himself compatriot of their task, the companions set off on the back of Mistress Millivant Moss’ cart, to search her farm for any clues to her missing family. Drenk, Jester and Enna spent the ride calming and reassuring Millivant, gathering titbits of information in preparation for the task ahead. Her farm lay an hour from Phlan, near an area of swampland, with some rocky hills past the swamps. Millivant recalled only a little more of the traumatic event, as the goblins were “too many to count”, so the rest of the trip was spent examining the terrain and watching for ambushes.
Meanwhile, Burian and Kalashnikov had been stuffed into a short bench at the back of the cart, and tensions between the bitter brothers grew throughout the journey. Sullen silence became barked bickering over the true methods for brewing good beer, and culminated in a short tussle. During this, Burian’s beard started tweeting in panic, and a tiny bird’s head popped out of the matted hair over his belly.
“Frederic, go back to sleep!” Burian urged, but Kalashnikov took this opportunity to grab the bird, Frederic, out of his brother’s beard, and lob him away from the cart.
“No! Frederic!” his master and home cried, stirring the carts other occupants, but to none of their surprise, the bird simply opened its wings and glided back into Burian’s beard.
“Hmmm. Not sure what I meant to accomplish there.” grunted Kalashnikov, “How’d you know it’s male anyway?”
A moment of shock flickered past Burian’s face, as he suddenly realised the bird was actually female, but promptly decided to run with it anyway.
“Don’t be stupid. Frederic’s female. See here? Frederic can be a female name.” Burian stubbornly refuted, and turned himself away for the remainder of the journey.
When the companions’ cart pulled up to the Moss’ farm, it was evident that the goblins had ransacked the entire property. Nowhere had escaped their savage hunt, with crop silos emptied, animal feathers and blood liberally spread and farm tools scattered where they had been dropped. Millivant gestured to the main path out from the farm, where the goblins have dragged their captives away, the trail uneven and muddled. Jester jumped down from the cart, investigating the trail with his keen eyes and keener insight, but he was unable to distinguish how many goblins had been in the party.
“Ah, there are a few…yes, a few tracks with footprints roughly the size of a human, walking unhindered, with the goblins.” he mused, frustrated by the cloying muck. As the rest of the group searched around the farm, Drenk and Enna came up to inspect the trail, and between them they managed to count 15 distinct goblin footprints, a medium-sized raiding party for a goblin nest.
“They’ve dragged them into the swamplands,” Drenk stated, as Millivant broke down a little again, “We should head after them while it’s still daylight, who knows what they want their captives for.”
After composing themselves, and separating the bickering brothers from their argument about residual magic, the companions set off into the swamp, attempting to track the goblins while maintaining a measure of stealth. Jester led the group, keeping a weather eye on the horizon, but still struggling with the grabbing bog, while Enna behind him was sticking carefully to his earlier guidance on the key tenets of stealth. She treated his words in this field as sacrosanct, and found herself surprising the rogue as he lent down to relieve his boot from the swamp water.
Kalashnikov and Burian separated during the hike, but in a silent contest of one-upmanship had taken to ever more ludicrous measures of ensuring their stealth. Most surprisingly, both brothers were excelling in the swampland, and seemed to the rest of the party to frequently become one with the landscape, until they revealed themselves for directions. Kalashnikov had taken to the tried and tested “reed straw underwater breathing” trick, and passed most of the journey within the bog. Burian caked himself in swamp water, clad himself in fallen bark, and appeared just as a moving tree, taking his family name to a new level.
Stealth had not come naturally to all the party though, as Drenk, his orcish frame supporting a jangling chainmail shirt, spent the journey swearing under his breath as he surreptitiously pressed clanking links to his chest. The companions travelled for 4 hours in all, not deviating from the goblin raiders’ trail, until they left the swamps and came upon a cave mouth.
“There! We caught dem, didn’t we? Sent out four raiding parties to those humies’ settlements, and one’s got back, innit?” echoed from just inside the cave, coming from a small goblin that all the companions could see with their darkvision. It appeared to be talking to to a human-like figure shrouded in darkness, and was clearly terrified of the shape. the companions stayed hidden as they listened to the conversation.
“Yes. You did. And you shall be rewarded if you keep to my orders,” his deep male voice sounded out, “Did you find any more?”
“No, no, no more snake coin people found.” the cowering goblin stammered out in poor Common. It was clear that this goblin was just the messenger to the figure and didn’t want to be there any longer than it had to be.
“Excellent. tell Gorenk I will give lots of gold for them.” and with that, he seemed to disappear into the very space he was standing in, his body folding in upon itself, gone in an instant. The goblin visibly relaxed, now that it’s master had returned from whence it came.
It didn’t relax for long.
Having spied into the cave and seeing no more goblins, Jester took a low route and sneaked up on the unfortunate goblin. Once practically upon it, he pounced, and grabbed at its gaunt little frame. Something seemed wrong though, and the goblin wormed its way out of his grapple, making to dive away. Jester did recover though, a swung his sword out and under the goblin’s neck. The threat acknowledged, the goblin backed up against a cave wall.
“Talk. Tell me where the prisoners are. Or better yet, what are these snake coin people you were talking about?” Jester demanded, with an additional flourish of his sword.
“I, I, I, I can’t tell yous, Gorenk will kill me! They’s only food now anyway!” it hysterically answered, clearly terrified mor eof the stranger and Gorenk than the half-elf waving his sword near its neck. At the point, the rest of the crew entered warily into the cave, Drenk leading the way.
“You aren’t running in there to warn your friends, and I guess you want to live,” Drenk said in the goblin tongue, “So you could take the third option, and run away into the night. IF you tell us what we want to know.”
The goblin’s eyes lit up, “I think I’ll take that option,” it said, and sprinted off back into the cave, “Thaaaan…”. Its cry was cut off, the goblin’s throat neatly pierced with one of Jester’s throwing knives. Burian looked up and down the cave entrance, tried to detect any residual magic from the teleportation spell he witnessed, and resigned himself to another day exploring a filthy Grobi cave.
“Well, I suppose we better head into this here cave.”