Feldard cursed as the goblin made it through the north door – that way he knew led back towards the hoard that greeted them initially. Rather than run headlong into a dozen or more goblins on his own, Feldard closed the door and sought about for a means to bar it shut until the others were done with the old woman.
“Maruc, bar that southern door!” he yelled.
Feldard grumped as he piled some crude goblin furniture against the door, and then jammed his eating knife into the door to make opening the door even more of a trial.
“Be well, Bushka. We will return for you,” promised the elf. “But for now, stay safely here.” The elf handed the woman small tin whistle. “If the goblins return, sound this, and we will return as well.”
Hasan then left the cell and followed his comrades into the next room. It was clear there was little space left in the goblin hideout. Old Skinny Legs surely was near. The elf quickly prepared his ventriloquism. A little confusion in their enemy just might save his battered crew.
After the suddenness of the ambush, Ludo leaned against the wall, and took stock of his light wounds that had started to sting. He bandaged them up as best he could.
He was disappointed, “seems that Vlaak has flown the coop” he said no none in particular. He wasn’t sure where Xitaqa was, but hoped Stephen might. Looking about Ludo surmised that there could not be that many Goblins left within the compound considering that a large potion of the compound had been explored. Still he was worried, the party was small and could easily get overwhelmed. ‘Surprise’ and speed were their best weapons, the longer they hung around this warped place the more organized the Goblins would become. Still if Vlaak and his cronies were traveling with prisoners that would slow them up and may allow the party to catch up and spring their own ambush. With that happy thought on his mind, he sprang into action, bounded over to the door with the Goblin crude painting.
“Bushka, can you tell us where Xitaqa is? In what direction did they go?” asked the warrior. The Traladaran had made a home of the Dymrak for much of his life, and had never heard of the place.
“Somewhereabouts in the moors I gather,” she replied.
The moors. A wide swath of uncivilized hill lands inhabited by all manner of creatures. If they could not get any more specific information about the whereabouts of this Xitaqa, it could prove to be even harder to find than this Halav-forsaken petrified wood.
After speaking with Bushka, Stephan joined Ludo at the southern door. Maruc was barring it but Ludo sought to enter. Stephan stood ready for onslaught from either door. Feldard, thankfully, seemed to be securing the north door.
Stephan walked quietly over to the piles of ragged bedding. Using the tip of his sword, he poked around at the larger piles to be sure no goblins were hiding. He returned to the southern door, thinking the other goblins were probably routed out of the complex.
Maruc nodded curtly at the wise words of the dwarf and started to brace the door as best he could. He took advantage of the lull in the assault to tend to Ludo’s wounds.
Looking a the pitiful captive Miklos felt ashamed at his initial view of her. He considered how the woman’s words would fit into the actions of the goblins so far. On the face of it it felt like a series of raids within the confines of the Dymrak itself. The yellow robed man seems to have intelligence that the map he was seeking, or clues as to its whereabouts, were held by its human inhabitants. Hence the raids, a somewhat blunt instrument because bribery would have got his answer more as quickly and probably more cheaply than paying goblins raiders and bandits for their services. Miklos doubted it would take much to convince a goblin warband to raid human settlements – if they were advised of the advantages of co-ordination, most likely provided by him.
Still despite the little the woman knew it showed interesting insights to the foe they faced. The goblins and bandits appeared to be relatively expendable, the higher echelons of command were using hobgoblins as their veteran warriors, perhaps a heavy infantry with the reference to the iron collars? Or perhaps a tribal affectation?
One good aspect though was the lack of divination demonstrated by the foe. On or two well cast incantations would have had the map in their hands without any trouble. It was the only evidence so far the man was acting more like a noble rather than a mage. Another was that they appeared to be time constrained, hence the frustration of Vlaak, also the balance of power between them wasn’t clear. Miklos was convinced that the mind behind the intrigue was human, not hobgoblin, but he was being forced to use goblinoids to achieve his ends.
By his question to the old woman the woodsman clearly hadn’t heard of the map until now and ancient ruins peppered the land from Specularum to Threshold and beyond so the others were right the only recourse was to rid this compound of its evil and see what clues could be found.
Suddenly he felt strangely alone, snapped from his thoughts he looked up to see Maruc waving him to follow into the room beyond.
“This isn’t over yet Miklos.” grunted Maruc, “Lets help the other before they get themselves killed. Any bone guardians in there Feldard?” Maruc called ahead. Despite his souring humour, Maruc couldn’t help grinning as he followed the others into the next clearing.
“Can you hear anything through the door, Ludo?” A hush fell over the chamber as the rogue strained his ears. He heard nothing but still silence. Stepping to one side, Ludo slowly opened the door.
As Ludo began to make his entry, Stephan braced for battle. He stood a bit to the side in case any of the goblins burst through the north door but his main attention was on the southern door.
The door opened into a dark, damp 5-foot diameter tunnel running through what was a large hollow log. A closed door was at the end of the tunnel.