Stephan hustled back to get his shield and sword ready again after having hoisted Feldard up. He knew Feldard would be delayed having just been extracted from an unpleasant experience. He readied his lightstone to blind the first goblin that tried to enter.
The pile-blocked door shuddered at the impact from what seemed like 30 or more goblins given the cacophony of voices. He could make out some of the goblinese shouts.
“I smell the vile elf in there! Knock it down Bowlaak!” Another voice spat, “And I smell dwarf. Sick wet dwarf. I smash it! I break its skull! We’ll slide it its blood.”
“They might have reinforcements.” Stephan shouted to the group. He looked to Miklos, hoping the mage was preparing something for them. Just then the door burst open part way. Luckily, the piled debris required more pushing before the goblins could make a full entry. With his light stone in his shield hand, Stephan directed the light with his cupped hand directly into the eyes of the first goblin face he saw in the doorway. The goblin cringed at the light and violently turned, knocking back at least two of his mates.
“Baal al tu luuck ta!” Stephan shouted in goblin. “Prepare to die!” And then he added “Yulatuk vo!” which in goblinese referred to the arcane wizardry goblins so dread. Stephan hoped that the ploy would work — the that goblins would think some magic was being cast on them other than a bright light in the eyes. He was rewarded for his efforts. The goblins fell back a bit even before getting the door completely open. Stephan launched his shoulder against the portal, slamming a goblin arm at the wrist. The mace it was holding fell clattering to the stone floor.
Stephan turned to see the progress of the others. “Can we get past that trap door?” We’re gonna have a lot of company any second!”
Feldard, once hauled up through the trap door, rolled away from the opening and lay prone on the tunnel floor breathing heavily from the ordeal. Blood seeped freely from numerous piranha bites. Freeing himself from the coils of rope the priest swiftly blessed him with the remaining power that Halav had gifted him. Colour flushed the dwarf’s face and Maruc breathed a sigh of relief. “Welcome back. Again.” he said.
The shouted warnings from their companions urged Feldard to his feet. Pushing the priest aside he hurried his way back into the chamber to meet the new goblin threat. The surprised priest barked protestations at his back.
The dwarf emerged from the tunnel like a pit demon. Blood smeared and stained with river grime his gleaming axe blazing with ancient runes, the priest at his shoulder. His expert veteran eye swiftly assessed the situation. “Ludo.” he commanded. “We need you to check to see if the rest of the tunnel is safe. We may need to fall back to whatever is beyond that door if we get overwhelmed again.”
He met the goblins just as they poured out through the the forced door and into the woodsman. With a bellow he charged forward, his axe swinging – the rush of battle pushing the weariness of his muscles and the pain of his wounds from this mind.
Ludo was stunned at the number of goblins rushing into the room. Shaking his head to clear the tunnel vision descending upon him he plunged headlong into the hollow log. He focused his mind on the job at hand, quickly securing the trap door so it would not open again. He did not find any more traps in the tunnel so he proceeded to unlock the door at the far end.
Maruc knew Ludo would need more that a few moments the secure the trapdoor. He rushed in next the Stephan lending the weight of his charge to close the door. Fortunately being the the prison door it had been reinforced. Unfortunately for the goblin who’d trapped his arm there came a sickening crunch as Maruc made contact. The ruined half of its arm hung limply in its socket of flesh. Maruc lost is footing as a determined counter push bounced him away. The door flung open. The armless goblin had fainted and spralled into the room. Its battle fevered kin trading him into the dust in their attempt to enter. Too eager they were as Feldards mage-axe bit into their ranks. Maruc rammed the edge of his shield into the second but was slowly pushed back by the tide of the foe. “Miklos! Miklos! A little help please!”. Help came unexpectedly from Stephan’s sword. The priest nodded his thanks and swung his mace into the mass.
They were so thick pressed he couldn’t really miss.
Miklos eye’d the press calmly. He’d anticipated the rear assault and had stood to one side. The side where the blocked door faced him. He waited to see if Stephans ploys would delay them enough for Ludo the complete his task. He doubted it. He groaned inwardly as Feldard, obviously revived by Maruc by the colour of him sprang from the shadows and started hacking and slashing. No subtlety that one he thought.
Tactically speaking, it was impossible to calculate how many goblins lay beyond the door. But he could handle, say, half a dozen with the sleep incantation he had prepared. All he needed was a clear line of sight to as many of them as possible. But guess who was in the way. Oh well, never mind. He toyed with the idea of letting the dwarf enjoy himself. But taking in the haunted look that played around Maruc’s eyes he guessed the Halav’s favours for the day were done.
“Stand BACK I say!” he commanded his voice ringing clear and cutting through the battle din.
The combatants paused. It was strange. Miklos thrust his spell into the goblin ranks through the door, over the head of the bewildered dwarf.
There was a clatter of dropping weaponry.
At the sound of collapsing goblins wrought by Miklos’s magic, a sudden but short silence fell upon the chamber. The silence was broken by Ludo’s announcement of a clear tunnel.
Gathering his wits, Stephan started making his way for the tunnel, trailing Hasan who was already at the other end. “Time to leave, I think.” The sounds of more goblins was already growing stronger.
“By Halav! Die, gobs!”, Stephan bellowed while making a fighting retreat toward the tunnel. “We may need to get back in that river, Feldard!” He shouted but was pretty sure no one could hear.
“The tunnel is clear!” Ludo yelled to the others, with the din of battle prohibiting him from hearing anything that might lie beyond the door, he trusted to luck and with sword in hand opened the door and advanced into the room at the end.
Hasan was torn – stand and fight with his longtime companions – or follow and protect the impulsive thief. A half measure was all he could offer against the goblins from where he stood, and so, calling on his heretofore unused ventriloquism skills, he cast his voice to the opposing wall. In clear, elven Common, he laughed, “ha ha ha! The little goblins shall perish now. You didn’t look behind you…” The elf laughed again as some of the goblins momentarily broke off to try to find the illusory voice. He then turned and rapidly followed Ludo into the chamber beyond, trusting his companions would follow soon.
The chamber was empty. It seemed better appointed than the others they had encountered and the wooden furniture was larger. A door at the far side of the room was also larger than the other goblin-sized doorways.
Meanwhile, at the other side of the conflict, thanks to the mage’s spell and the mounting casualties inflicted upon the clan at the hands of the heroes, the goblins number no longer seemed as insurmountable. The ones that were left however, seemed to be the largest and most well equipped. The leader, wearing a fur cloak and gold belt, was desperately barking out orders as he knew the future of the Wolfskull was at stake.