Monthly Archives: April 2010

Creature of Death! Halav Will Vanquish You!

Ludo gasped as he felt the Hobgoblins claws pierce his arm. A numbing sensation rapidly spread through his body and he collapsed to the floor ‘paralyzed’. A feeling of panic enveloped him, these were no ordinary Hobgoblins! What sort of dark magic was this, he wondered. He desperately willed his arms and legs to function to get back up and out of danger, but it was to no avail.

Hasan groaned at the crashing blow and thanked the smith who long ago in the Radlebb created the metal skin from this unearthly foe’s deathblow. Feldard’s fierce assault gave the elf time to recover his balance. With another all-for-nothing swing, the hobgoblin’s sword sliced through the air, but the elf’s light sword raced out to give it a ringing mid-arc greeting. The hobgoblin and elf’s weapons flexed, then slowly squealed down until the two humanoids and swords poised, guard to guard, in midair.

Feldard pulled his axe free, while the elf gained his focus once more and locked swords with the hobgoblin. Feldard took advantage of the elf’s offered distraction to carve into the hobgoblin again. His axe might be a slower weapon in melee when compared to the elf’s light and flimsy sword but there was no comparing the sheer bite his axe had! The dwarf grinned as weariness was forgotten and only the battle existed.

Stephan felt a chill run down his spine upon seeing Ludo collapse at the merest scratch from hobgoblin. But the will of Halav drove the fighter to attack before the sickly pale creature could deliver more damage to the immobilized Ludo.

“Creature of Death! Halav will vanquish you!” Stephan fought — despite great weariness — to maneuver the unholy being away from the fallen rogue. The hobgoblin moved with unnatural speed lunging at Stephan again with only its claws. The thought of getting cut by the claws brought to the Traladaran some fighting moves he did not know he had. Taking what could be a theatrical leap such as done by the circus troupes of the Savage Coast, Stephan found himself airborne and twisting — sword slicing through the damp air — to impact the hobgoblin’s arm. Happily, the attack both avoided contact with the claw and resulted in a severed arm. The creature barely noticed the removal of its limb and continued an vicious attack. To his horror, Stephan saw the limb twitch and begin to scrape its way across the rocky floor to its “home” at back on the hobgoblin’s body.

The distraction was his mistake. Lunging, the hobgoblin struck hard against Stephan’s shield knocking him to the floor. Losing no time, the hobgoblin body tackled the fighter, apparently seeking to bite and claw him to death.

Meanwhile, the arm figured out how to flip itself to make better progress. With a final hurl, it flung itself onto the back of the host monster. The last thing Stephan saw was the open clawed hand emerging over the shoulder of his attacker just inches from his face.

Maruc’s eyes showed it plainer than the blood-drenched insignia on his halbert: the cleric’s connection to his godhead was strong. As he saw the great hobgoblin slaver over the young fighter, Maruc strode forward with fury. “Away from the chosen of Halav, beast!”

The priest’s flail hummed through the air and crashed with great purpose into the great hobgoblin’s hip. The impact spun the creature off Stephan, and it careened into the wall.

Miklos saw the opportunity immediately. Reaching into the recesses of his cavernous robe, the mage drew forward a tiny web, purchased in Specularum but from spiders who spin their webs in the farthest reaches of Ylaruam’s Alasiyan desert. The mage called up energy from the ground itself and gently tossing the web toward the prone figure, saw it expand midair from a rivulet to flood of sticky white fibers. The web enveloped the hobgoblin.

Feldard, Hasan and eventually Stephen finished the last hobgoblin without incident or one further word spoken.

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A Strange Breed of Hobgoblin

As he crossed the tunnel, following the mage, Feldard kept glancing back towards the room they just left. Bah, he should have gone after those last few. He hated the feeling that the foul creatures might be creeping up from behind.

Behind the bulk of the priest, Miklos could do little to help the assault on the doorway. He stood to one side and glanced at the frustrated face of the dwarf. “We’ve drawn the rearguard straw again. Still there’s a fair bit less bleeding involved.” he waited restlessly for the others to make headway and give the rest of the party elbow room.

Ludo eyed the Hobgoblins, he tried to see if Vlaak was one of them—he would always remember his evil grin as he was tortured by him. It would seem not. A quick glance behind him confirmed that the group was near, filling him with courage.

He yelled to Hasan to fight the Hobgoblins as they approached the doorway, so as to take them on one at a time. He stood at the right hand side of the doorway to attack the first Hobgoblin as it came through the door.

Despite his fatigue and stinging wounds, Stephan, upon seeing the unholy, vacant stares of the hobgoblins, genuflected to Halav and somehow found strength to again assume a battle pose and charge the hobgoblin on the right.

At the mages’ comment, Feldard looked forward but could only see the backs of his companions as they seemed spurred forward suddenly out of the tunnel and into .. was that another room up ahead? “What is it? What’s happening?”

The dwarf grimaced as he glanced back down the log tunnel behind him.. to the trap door he’d just passed and urged the others forward bodily. Better a battle ahead, than those damned fish! “Move into the room already. I can’t help from back here.”

Hasan backed away from the combatants, inviting them into the space outside the doorway. The elf shot off one arrow, but in his hurry, his aim failed and the arrow careened harmlessly off the shoulderpiece of the heavy studded leathers the hobgoblins wore. Hasan raised his sword warily, uncomfortable with this fight, but not sure what else he could do. He blocked a fierce swipe, and thrust back at the slavering foe, but to little effect.

Upon the sight of further foes, Maruc was keen not to expose his friends to further combat, he had half a mind to save his magic for the yellow robed man. But the likelihood of him being still at the compound was fast waning. So he made up his mind and barked a word of command at the two hobgoblins he could see in the centre of the room ahead.

Spreading the spell between the two he could see would lessen its effect. But it was a powerful spell, and the party needed to question at least some of these warriors. They were probably within Vlaak’s inner circle and in possession of valuable knowledge. The duo were held fast, suddenly rendered frozen in mid-battle.

The other two creatures fought on, seemingly unconcerned that their numbers had been halved. One of them attacked Hasan with his sword, while the other attacked Ludo, but had dropped its sword and instead chose to engage with its claws. Unfortunately, Ludo had little experience with a foe such as this. A single scratch to his arm, and the young man dropped to the floor, unable to move. Stephan quickly stepped in to fill the breach.

Hasan’s dealt the creature a pair of light wounds. The engagement seemed to be going his way, until he noticed that the creature’s wounds seemed to be healing before his eyes. Distracted, he got stabbed in his side by the hobgoblin’s sword. Just then, the dwarf announced his arrival at the fray by lodging his axe deep into the creature’s torso with a resounding ‘CHUNK!’. Now, that was a wound that would take even this unnatural breed of hobgoblin some time to heal.

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Vlaak’s Room

The fountain of blood from the headless goblin, before it toppled, sprayed the battle-worn dwarf. There was just enough sense in him NOT to charge after the fleeing goblins. He wiped the spray from his face with his hand as best he could and turned to look over how the rest of the party fared.

“Did I hear Hasan call to us? Did they get the door open?” Feldard asked the mage.

Miklos stepped over the the head. The scattering goblins were not likely to return but it was pointless letting these few unconscious foe awake at their backs. In reply to the dwarf he said “Ludo has gained entry to the room beyond. You have fought bravely my friend thank you. Sadly my sleep incantation presents us yet again with an ugly choice. We have to slay these foul creatures lest they surprise us whilst our backs are turned. Yet a more unpleasant task is searching the body of the Goblin King for clues as to our onward journey and the mysterious Xitaqa.” The mage bent over the corpse with distaste. Best get this over as soon as possible.

He tried to cut out the sound of twisting gristle. Feldard was nothing if not efficient.

Maruc grinned. Goblin blood spatters trickled down the garb of his friends. It would be comical if it wasn’t so macabre. He swiftly scanned the injuries picked up during the fight, both Stephan and Feldard needed a rest but Ludo had already opened the last door of the goblin nest, so there was little opportunity for healing. It would take hours the beseech for further aid anyway. Time they could little afford to take here with goblin roamers abroad. He shrugged at the straps of his armour. Funny, he thought he never remembered taking it off last night to sleep.

He followed the others stealing himself for the next nasty surprise.

Feldard nodded at the reminder from the mage and set to work, finishing off the downed goblins. The mercenary in him had him quickly checking the bodies for anything useful. When that was complete, the weary dwarf padded and bounded those wounds he could get to. The voracious fish in the stream had done quite a number to him, leaving pained wounds in places that he wouldn’t have thought possible.

Seeing the others, already moving onward, Feldard motioned the mage forward, while he took up rearguard once more. He didn’t look happy about having to cross the log tunnel once again, in fact, if truth be told Feldard would rather face down a horde of goblins alone, than chance falling into the stream below again; but he strode on following the mage regardless of his… apprehension.

* * * * *

After checking the door for traps, Ludo had quietly gone about his business of gaining entry. Again the lock mechanism seemed quite ordinary and not sophisticated. This would not take long, his work only being hampered by the sounds of combat in the background. He paused when he heard Stephan’s voice yelling that the Goblin boss was dead. ‘Good’ he thought to himself, they should break now, he wondered if the boss was ‘Vlaak’. Most likely not, for he sensed that ‘Vlaak’ would not go down easy.

Setting back to work, he inserted his pick and set to work to align the tumblers, hearing them falling into place one by one. This was much easier to do without the distraction of a mob of Goblins breathing down his neck. He sighed with relief when he heard the click of the last tumbler falling into place.

Hasan’s lips and nose twisted to one side of his face, lost in thought as he watched Ludo practice his craft. He nodded as the thin young man pulled the door free. “They will follow,” the elf said. “Lead on.”

Stephan hurried down the tunnel to join the others filtering through the door. He quieted his steps and general din as he approached, realizing he was barreling noisily into a situation that demanded a greater degree of silence. The hushed, exploratory air established by Ludo and Hasan served to focus the fighter’s eyes and ears. He was on full alert as Ludo was about to open the door.

Ludo picked up his sword and indicated for Hasan to cover him while he pushed the door open as silently as he could using the wall to keep as much of his body covered as possible. Ludo looked around the edge of the wall and started to search for traps. He was wary, there had to be something more, this was almost too easy.

Pushing the door open, they saw a group of four tall humanoids silently blocked the way into the room. They looked like hobgoblins, but they were leaner and bonier and their skin a few hues paler. Their eyes held a vacant, blank stare. It took only a moment for them to break out of their trance-like state. They gnashed their especially sharp, yellow teeth as they drew their swords to attack those who dared to intrude into the room.

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The Wolfskulls Last Stand

Despite his resolve and the priest’s prayers, Feldard’s wounds were telling on the dwarf. He knew they needed to end this melee soon or his strength would fail him before long. With that in mind, the dwarf redoubled his efforts – going for the leader. With that one down, the others just might lose morale enough and flee rather than stand fight.

On the other side of the log bridge, Ludo advanced into the room sword ready. “I think we have the lair that Vlaak used,” he murmured to himself. He searched for traps and secret doors, if this room belonged to Vlaak or to the man in the yellow robes, he anticipated they would want to protect their secrets from prying eyes.

Satisfied the room held no immediate danger, he searched for anything that might lead to where the man in the yellow robes and his cohorts had gone. “Hasan, call the others and try and get them in here, this room will make a useful place to make a stand, the tunnel will make it difficult for the Gobbos to use their numerical advantage against us. I will check the other door to see what lies beyond.”

Hasan used his ventriloquism again to shout to his companions in the other room, in dwarvish and in elvish, “Fall back, fall back, we can end it in here!” He then drew his bow and waited, covering the thief all the while.

The dwarf had other plans. With a near berserk bellow, Feldard threw himself at the Wolfskull leader, axe swinging down in a beautiful arc aimed for the crook of the goblins neck where shoulder and neck met – normally well protected by armour, but oddly only covered by the marginal protection of a fur cloak on this goblin leader. Feldard planned to use the advantage.

Stephan checked his fighting retreat seeing that the clan was greatly reduced. While Feldard barreled into the goblin leader with his thirsty axe, Stephan took on the lesser rabble. They were still outnumbered but it was clear the goblin resolve was waning.

Maruc filled the gap between the woodsman and the dwarf as they sprang with renew’d vigor at the foe. They fought as if sensing some turn in the battle. The priest was not in tune with the ebb and flow but fought as he did as always, with faith. Red shot goblin eyes and crude steel flashed in front of him and a juddering blow splintered fine enamelwork from his shield. Maruc idly wondered who’d he get the fix it when this was over. his heart was beating fast and the swing of the chainflail was beginning to tell on his fatigued shoulders. He glanced left to see Feldard engaged in a vicious battle with the clan leader. He thought about suggesting that Feldard capture him for information, but with the press of the remaining goblins he would prove difficult to convince. If he was on his own however….

Maruc elbowed his way into the press and set about the place with purpose. Goblin blood sprayed from his flail.

Meanwhile, Miklos ducked back from the fray. He peered into the darkness beyond the bridge trap. Ludo had scouted ahead and seemed in no immediate danger. Both he and Hasan were keen to withdraw into the new chamber. But they didn’t know Feldard like Miklos knew him. The only time Miklos had seen fear cross those grizzled features were in the face of a terrible red dragon. The idea of even withdrawing from goblins would be alien to him.

“Let your arrows fly Prince Hasan, Master Feldard will never withdraw!”

Miklos edged his way around the press at the door. Unconscious goblins were complicating the footing but the sturdy dwarf hacked and slashed with his axe as assuredly as the StoneLord himself. Miklos jumped as something landed at his feet.

The decapitated head of the goblin king stared at him, its dead eyes glared in accusation. Nice, thought the mage.

Seeing the goblin leader fall, Stephan bellowed in goblinese, “Boss is dead! Run!”. Almost on cue, it seemed when he was able to catch a glance of the dwarf’s progress, the head of the goblin leader, by the action of a blindingly fast dwarf-wielded axe, was propelled through the dank air and deposited among the now headless leader’s ranks. In a collective wave of shock, the goblins inhaled in unison as the severed head made its final twitches. Stephan took advantage of the pause to finish off one of the nonplussed — which had just gave him a nasty cut — sending it falling, lifeless, next to the oozing head.

“Ayyyyyygh!” The goblins squealed in terror, falling over themselves to make a hasty exit.

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