Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Sticky Cloying Presence of Mage-Magic

Miklos could see that the party would swiftly be overwhelmed if they remained in the tight confines of the entrance. But he knew they were professional and had heard him. He started casting his spell in preparation for the withdrawal. He hoped they wouldn’t take too long as holding magic was not the easiest thing to do.

Miklos started to perspire.

Maruc felt the sticky cloying presence of mage-magic filling the air. At first he was alarmed, afraid that it might be the Man in Yellow Robes. He glanced around, and was relieved to find it was Miklos. He quickly realized that everyone needed to be out of the way. Fast. “Withdraw. Incoming!” he cried.

Hasan gave ground, stepping back into the wolfpen. He watched to see what would fail first: the fighters’ defenses or the mage’s grip on his attack. He tried to move so he could keep the hallway doors in sight.

Feeling refreshingly blessed in mind and body by the power of Halav wielded through his faithful servant, Maruc, Stephan heeded the calls to fall back. Nearly colliding with Hasan, who easily avoided a crash with elf alacrity, Stephan fumbled to ready his bow to fire from a receded position should he get a clear shot.

Feldard heard Maruc’s call, noted his companions withdrawing and with a grumble gave ground as well. The goblins swarmed after him out into the open and despite his best effort to get out of the way, Feldard was stuck in the forefront of the fray whether he liked it or not.

If Miklos had another lightning planned there was no way he, in his plate mail armour, could avoid being struck in such a tight fray. The notion of being killed in such a manner was not appealing. In a last desperate effort to put space between him and the goblins, Feldard turned and bolted to the side, calling out. “Now Miklos!”

Ludo, seeing that retreat was the best course of action and trusting that Miklos would have another bolt of lightning prepared, ducked back into the evening air, and to the side of the door. “Hot work in there,” he said to no one in particular. He prayed that the magic from Miklos would thin the Goblins out. He prepared himself to attack any Goblins that appeared at the doorway, to cover Miklos from any attack.

Thankfully the others had responded with professional alacrity and Miklos took his chance. As Feldard, ever the last to withdraw, ducked back into the fighting line swiftly assembled by the others around the entranceway he blasted the area with a shower of constricting mage-wrought web, choking the flow of attackers.

The two lead goblins got completely stuck, along with Feldard’s left arm. The rough voice of a goblin barked out fresh orders as the doorway was effectively blocked. Those in the group who understood the goblin tongue knew that the goblin leader had given the command for withdrawal. Further orders from the goblin were lost amid the sound of goblin armor and shouting.

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The Battle Continues

Maruc tried to squeeze into the press of combat to help Ludo. It was no use, there was little he could do.

“You’re going to have to bring them out here if you want help!” he cried over the bedlam. Maruc scanned the mayhem of combat within, through the failing light of the doorway he notice the Woodsman was looking too pale. “Stephan! To me now!” Swiftly he summoned the power of Halav and blessed him as he ducked briefly from the fray.

“Miklos, have you any magic to assist, if any more Gobbos come through, we will be hard pressed. Another one of your amazing bolts of lightning would do the trick I think”.

Feldard continued his assault on the defending Goblins. He axe blade once more was dripping with dark goblin blood. Over the din of fighting he shouted in Goblin, “Give us Vlaak!”

Upon hearing the deep bellow of the dwarf shouting the name Vlaak in gobspeak, Stephan, knowing a bit of the language, joined in, “Vlaak, bring out the coward!”

Hasan saw Ludo was hard pressed to hold the front line with Feldard and Stephan. But there was no space for the elf to step forward to support, so he drew his bow and looked for an opportunity. The slender thief winced away from a slashing ax and the elf had a clear view of a snarling goblin. From such short range, the elf couldn’t miss. The arrow slammed home, and the goblin collapsed, a third arm protruding its chest, goose-feathered fingers spreading skyward in requiem.

Maruc will cast a cure on Stephan if possible.

Stephan’s bellowing for Vlaak was cut short by a heavy pounding from a goblin mace. He spat blood, ears ringing, as he stumbled back. Hearing Maruc’s call, he somehow managed to make his way to the priest, who quickly restored his colour.

Inwardly Ludo was worried, if the Goblins managed to get around the sides of the group, then they would be doomed, no quarter would be given here he thought. Their only hope was to cause them to run which was likely to happen if enough Goblins were killed or wounded.

After suffering some cuts and slashes, Ludo decided to change his fighting style, he called out to the cleric. “Maruc, cover me while I try to thin them out at the rear!” Ludo took a step back, making room for Maruc to take his place in the fighting line. The rogue then unslung his bow and prepared to shoot his remaining arrows into the melee over the top of Feldard’s head.

In response to the rogue, Miklos echoed Maruc’s plea for space to help. “Yes! Bring them out and I shall enchant them!”

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Grappling With Greenskins

7:10pm, Soladain, the 17th of Thaumont, 1001AC
Heavy clouds, windy

Maruc envisaged the approaching goblins swinging open the door to surprise any beyond by rushing out. So far the usual goblin tactic. The important thing was that the Wolfskull were aware of an attack at the gate—hence the sound of armour, and no immediate armed response. What they were expecting was the return of their raid force. What they were going to get would depend on their caution.

He kept his voice low, questioning the warriors, “Charge in assuming the door will collapse, or wait and ambush?”

Miklos felt a little out of his depth and stood back and thought. The door would most likely to be barred as a more complex lock would be unlikely in this place. “If the door is secured, its probably barred,” he suggested quietly, “Wait for the sound of them lifting the bar then burst in.”

Ludo, paused at the sounds of the Goblins. He suspected that they would be coming out shortly, most likely having been alerted due to the earlier combat. He drew back form the door, guiding Hasan to stand to his right, whispering to the group “more are coming out, look to your front, we will ambush them as they come out, try and grab at least one prisoner”.

Hasan waited opposite the door from the thief. His ears also heard the goblins clink into place across the wall. The elf waited, gesturing all the while for silence form his companions.

The goblins burst through the door, ready for battle, but not so soon. The door had not been barred at all. Their lair was well hidden, and the goblins had not given much consideration to siege defenses.

As the first Goblin opens the door, Ludo instinctively lunged forward, stabbing his short sword across the neck of the Goblin. Hasan joined Ludo in preparing a quick goblin satay, finishing off the wounded humanoid. He didn’t expect any of his companions would later appreciate his culinary skills.

“Come on Feldard, you don’t want to miss out do you?”

Feldard grumped at the rogue’s comment but was quick to close the distance between him and the surprised goblins. Feldard slayed another as it charged into the room, severing its spine. The Goblin gurgled once and then collapsed, blocking the doorway, and prohibiting the door from being closed. Ludo swiftly moved into the room to the left. It was a hallway, about fifteen feet wide, and it was full of goblins who were pouring into it from the door at the far end, 30 feet away. The rogue brought up his second sword, as he prepared to defend himself against the attackers.

Stephan was a bit nonplussed at the thief’s brash entry into the goblin infested room. “Nevertheless, it is as Halav wills!” he thought as he too charged in after Ludo.

The light was dim and the cacophony of surprised goblin curses made it difficult to tell how many of the greenskins there were. Stephan quickly found himself confronted with a thankfully befuddled goblin still trying to work a buckle in its armor. With a slash and stab thick goblin blood splattered and oozed.

“Arrrugh,” Stephan involuntarily blurted at once again getting the vile taste of goblin blood on his tongue. “Die you filthy gob!” he bellowed with battle frenzy setting in.

There wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver so the dwarf was forced to use his weapon overhand on the armoured goblins. It was effective at cleaving a foe directly in front of him, but left the dwarf defenseless to the attacks of its neighbor.

The hallway was now choked with combatants. Ludo and Stephan had quickly sustained various light wounds, while the heavily armored dwarf fared better. For their efforts, four of the goblins were dead, but others quickly took their place, entering the room from the door at the opposite side. It was impossible to tell how many more goblins remained ready to join the fight. Thankfully, no goblins came through the other door in the hallway, which remained closed.

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On the Hunt For Vlaak

Feldard grimaced at the feeling of being so vulnerable during the last parts of the battle. He had been weaponless—his crossbow lay at the base of some tree up the hill and his axe was buried in the hide of a wolf. The dwarf wasted no time in moving up to the downed wolf and pulling free his axe. He’d have to remember to retrieve his crossbow later.

Ludo retrieved his sword from the carcass of the dead wolf, and patted Feldard on the shoulder as he trotted past. “Thanks Feldard, you are handy Dwarf to have around.”

The dwarf smirked at the newest party member, recalling the man’s plea for help. “You’re welcome.” The stout warrior then moved into the goblin encampment, heading for the wolf pen and the two sleeping goblins. Maybe they would have a crossbow he could use for the moment.

The remaining penned wolves snarled, and growled as he approached. He looked to the cage door to ensure it was shut tight and latched. What Feldard wouldn’t do right now for a lock or his crossbow and a full quiver of bolts to deal with these last two.

Seeing the dwarf’s consternation, Stephan stepped forward. “Allow me,” he said as he readied his bow.

The penned wolves snarled in rage at the attention Feldard and Stephan gave them. Stephen moved quickly but deliberately, wanting to quickly silence the beasts but not have to put more than one arrow in each. He breathed easy and waited at point blank range. One of the enraged monsters, overcome with hellhate, lunged at Stephan seemingly forgetting that a barrier separated the two. At that moment, Stephan’s arrow flew, sinking deep into the base of the wolf’s neck. The fiend fell dead against the cage, one paw sticking out a few inches.

Turning, Stephan quickly did a similar thing to the second wolf. This time, however, the beast seemed to have it in for Feldard. With putrid slather flying, it strained to get at the dwarf. Stephan used this to his advantage, easily sinking another arrow this time into the rib cage and hopefully through the heart. The wolf quickly fell silent.

“Well, I don’t expect to get those two arrows back. Well used, I expect.” Stephan’s head turned to a noise from within the goblin lair.

Maruc limped into the compound after the others. Scanning the area he saw the entrance amongst the twisted forest limbs. The fading whines of the wolves echoed in his ears. He took his helm off and ran his hands over the grey-oak door. A bizarre shape that filled the gap between to overarching boughs. The floor tracks told of much passage. It must be the main way in. He pressed closer and listened. Goblin squabble. It was impossible to tell if they were alarmed or whether it was normal banter, for them. Maruc lent next to the bough and held his shield up and waited for the others to gather.

Meanwhile, the mage loitered at the bridge. He pulled himself into the shadow of the great split trunk that formed the gatehouse and peered at forest. It brought to mind the image so long ago, of the room in Caldwell’s castle where the claws of deathless skeletons sprouted from the ground. This ghastly scene was oddly fitting. His gaze pierced the gloom hunting for movement. The forest stared back. Waiting.

A noise behind him caught his attention. He turned and saw the party gather around what appeared to be a way further in. Satisfied that they were not being followed, he ducked back into the compound and joined the others.

Ludo took a scouting position at the door on the south wall, and tried to determine any sounds that might give a clue as to what or who is the on the other side. Hasan nodded at Ludo. “Off you go. Let’s go find Vlaak.”. The elf drew his sword and waited to steal through the southern door.

The priest glanced around at his companions, assessing each for wounds. They’d do for now. “Is the door barred Ludo?” he inquired.

The rogue paused to catch his breath, and then gently tried the door handle to see if the door was unlocked. It was. As he took a deep breath and prepared to open it, he heard the sound of another door opening in the room on the other side. The sound of armored goblins speaking to each other in the guttural language of their kind got louder as they quickly approached..

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Inside the Lair of the Wolfskull

A cold shiver shot up Ludo’s spine and a lump of fear formed in his throat. The ferocious wolf charging at Ludo was a terrifying sight. Ludo quickly threw himself to one side, using the wall as cover. When the wolf came around the side of the wall, he stabbed his short sword into the wolf’s rib cage, the momentum of the fast moving wolf tore the sword from his grasp, but left the sword buried deep in the wolf’s body with blood steaming from the deep wound.

Ludo with his back braced against the compound wall, quickly drew his second short sword and used it to keep the snarling wounded animal at bay. “Feldard, help!” he yelled.

Feldard was halfway across the bridge when the rogue’s call came. He looked and saw the trapped predicament of the party’s newest member and scowled. The dwarf knew, from experience, his short dwarven legs alone would never cover the distance in time to save the man. Still, Feldard could not just stand there and watch.

Hasan continued to jog forward. Though he had dashed ahead to confront the wolf, he was leery of the party’s exposed position on the river banks and bridge. As he proceeded, he worried about the time the party could lose to these three goblins and their canine allies. Frustrated, the elf stopped, wheeled and cast his sleep spell at them.

It was fortunate timing, the three gobs all fell unconscious just as they were about to release another of the vicious, oversized wolves. Now, the two animals that remained were safely trapped in the pen.

Feldard charged into the entrance, drawing back his trusted weapon and with a mighty bellow, he threw his battle axe towards the dire wolf.

Stephan charged forward, but stopped short as he saw Feldard prepare to hurl his axe. The axe sailed past Stephan. The air screamed in fright as the blade sliced its way to the wolf.

As the others rushed to the newcomers aid, Maruc lagged behind, slowed by his leg. He watched as swift blades met the wolf-terror. He had not seen what Ludo had seen in the darkness but his expression did not fill Maruc with comfort. He smiled grimly and resolutely drew his chain-flail and shield together and marched to stand on the far side of the entrance.

More barking could be heard within and the harsh voices of goblins goading their wolves to attack. He turned and almost bumped into Miklos. “I’d stay back if I were you.”

Maruc didn’t grin.

Nervously, Miklos shadowed the priest as he made his way into the goblin nest. His white knuckles gripped his staff at the thought of battle. He was no warrior and he’d faced many terrible creatures, but even this knowledge didn’t take much of the tightness in his stomach away.

He collided with Maruc.

“Sorry.” he said absentmindedly. The priest’s expression did nothing for his fear.

He glanced into the dimly lit bough beyond Maruc. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. Enough time to see the last wolf hurtle out of the darkness. It was huge and ugly, more brutish than the others, an old scar across its face where it had lost an eye. Its remaining eye gleaming with rage-fire. Its terrible maw dripping with saliva.

Miklos cried out in alarm.

His trusted battle axe now out of his hands, the dwarf was now limited in his ability to contribute to the battle. Stephan quickly stepped in to fill the breach. In seconds, it was all over. The wolf lay impaled after Stephan had laid a killing blow. The warrior, not in his comfort zone, stood in a ready stance, casting eyes about for more danger.

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