So I was drinking with the Butchers of Helix when a couple of the new recruits stumbled in telling tales of some caves to the north full of treasure (and also goblins and kobolds). Sounded worth exploring so I grabbed Ahnjela and Ygnas (not literally) and we talked out our plan. They didn’t want to pay for any cannon fodder. I don’t get along with people so good. I did buy two war dogs, complete with their armor. Most money I have ever spent on anything. And we got someone to hold a torch. I thought Ygnas liked to hold torches, but a mace is more useful really.
Took a couple days to make it to the area they described, and the land was too civilized to really offer much food on the way, but I came prepared even though the dogs ate a lot. There were three caves close by on the lowest levels – goblins, kobolds, and “the big guy” according to the others. Supposedly orcs and hobgoblins around somewhere too, but not located yet.
We approached the kobolds first, but man, I knew they could talk and had lives and hopes and dreams and little eggs and stuff. I even tried to learn their language once after meeting a small group in the caverns of Archaya. I couldn’t bring myself to just go in and slaughter them all. The one I talked to even said he had a cousin in Archaya! I just couldn’t. So we left the kobolds alone and went to look into the goblin cave.
Supposedly there are two groups of goblins, east and west, and they don’t like each other. We went west. They had a guard room with at least six goblins pretty much right there, all with braced spears. I wasn’t going to charge into that, not even with dogs to back me up, so negotiations were called for. I threatened to kill them all and take their stuff. They threatened to call “the big one”. I asked how much money the big one had so I could kill him and take it too. This confused them, and we weren’t getting anywhere, so I took the dogs and wandered off southwards. I yelled that I was just going to go smash their stuff and kill their women and children down the south passage until the big one got here to stop me since they were obviously such horrible guards that they weren’t going to stop me themselves.
Unfortunately the south passage led to a dead end. They laughed. A lot. Have I mentioned that goblin laughter is really really annoying?
By the time we got all turned around again, the goblins has been joined by “the big one”. That’s an ogre named Brutus. He had a tree in one hand and a giant sack of coins in the other. I could tell by the way they clinked against each other, and the little round impressions on the surface of the bag. Thinking quickly, Ahnjela offered Brutus 10 gp for each goblin he killed.
Apparently goblins pay better than humans.
Brutus swung his club at me. Have I mentioned that he has a big fucking club? It’s like he’s compensating for something. I met his swing with my shield and the wooden slats just flew all to pieces. I felt my pappy’s rage building like a growl in the back of my throat, and snarled at the dogs to attack. They just looked at me like I was nuts. I want a damned refund. I swear their internal monologue was just more goblin laughter. It felt like the laughter of all the village girls when I was a kid trying to be all civilized and shit. That was it, I had had it, I was furious. Red rage poured like rivers of blood as I ripped my hand axe free from my belt and stared up at Brutus like he was a tree I was about to chop down.
I saw Ahnjela’s sword cut into his shoulder from the corner of my eye. I swung for the arm that held the club and gave it a painful slice, but the real strike came from my axe; right in the fucking knee. It staggered backwards, bleeding heavily, but still in the fight – until a sling stone from Ygnas hit it smack in the forehead, and Brutus didn’t take that any better than Goliath did. Down with the ogre.
Then the goblins swarmed us all at once. You would think they would run for their lives after seeing their big fucking ogre get his ass wiped by two chicks and a Bern without a single drop of blood spilled and in under a minute no less. But no. They wanted revenge, I guess. Or they are just stupid. There were at least six of them and I was on a fucking roll. Ducked two spears from the back row, took a niggling cut from the one on the left on my sword arm, killed him with that same sword in the face and then did for the one on the right with my axe.
Two more stepped up and I felt something go wrong with my sword arm. Muscle cramp, or maybe that scrape had some kind of poison. No matter. Leftie died with my axe in my brain and I apologized to Rightie for splattering his friends' brains all over his face. Rightie slid over to make room for his friend and died to the axe right quick. I managed a stop-cut with my sword and wounded the new one, but the missile fire from behind me had stopped and I risked a glance over my shoulder to see what was wrong. Ygnas was facing off with a group of two more goblins coming from behind us. The tactical situation was worsening fast.
Quickly we fell back down the south corridor. It was a dead end, but the narrow space would force them to come at us only two at a time, and the curve would prevent massed missile fire. The two from behind us stepped up and I took a few minutes to kill them both. Caught my breath for a second before I heard a dragging noise – they were stealing the ogre’s giant sack of gold!
I charged forward, determined to regain the bag of gold. Two of them were waiting in ambush while the third did the dragging. I killed them both, with some minor assistance from the second rank, but they each got a lucky hit in first while I was facing the wrong direction. I was alive, but badly bleeding. Ygnas had been hurt too, but her prayers to Zuul sealed off her wounds. (Alas she was not yet familiar enough with the spell to use it more than once each day). The third goblin got away with the gold, and neither Ahnjela nor Ygnas wanted to chase it without me. So we took a few minutes to try to bandage my wounds.
Since they were healthy, the two of them explored the area behind the secret door the ogre had come from. There were sacks of coin (silver and copper only, damnit) and another sack of hard cheese. Also, a sleeping bear. That ended all further exploration, and a horde of fully alarmed goblins showed up to eject us from their caves. I left, but vowed under my breath “I’ll be back” while flexing my muscles threateningly.
We camped out for three days in the wilderness nearby. Hunting in the area was good, I found two deer and a nice hog. The dogs were loving it even though they were damned useless shits in the actual fighting. I named them Left and Right until they earned something better. Their whining sounded like they were quite content to be called left and right while eating my deer and my boar. Meanwhile Ygnas lounged around the camp practicing the words to her spell over and over again without, it seemed, actually learning anything. Twice she accidentally healed scrapes I got from my hunting expedition, little things, rather than the huge gash in my side or the deep spear wound in my shoulder. Maybe because they were fresher? She damned well better get it right next time.
I went hunting for the third day, bagging a nice fat dear, and a twelve foot tall praying mantis followed me back to camp.
I was in the tavern having a drink with a couple Butchers I hadn’t met yet, Bern and Ahnjela. Me, in a tavern, and drinking! So many new experiences after being stuck in that tower all my life. A couple new Butchers came in, looking worse for wear, bragging about slaughtering kobolds in some caves up north. Caves of Chaos, they called it. They said they made a deal with goblins to kill kobolds, and there were also orcs and a hobgoblin in those caves. Bern decided to go check it out, and I tagged along, since wiping out monsters in caves was much better than being in town. Ahnjela came too. We decided to bring the new folks' torchbearer with us. I was loathe to give up having a fire in hand, but packs of monsters in something called the Caves of Chaos, it seemed better to actually use my shield for once. And the lad’s enthusiasm for carrying a flame was heartwarming. They seemed like good companions. Ahnjela was quiet, and I approved of Bern being a ranger and having that connection to the wild.
It took a few days to reach the cave. We inspected a couple cairns outside, but there was nothing on the bodies. We started first at the kobold cave. We’d been warned about a pit trap, so we approached cautiously. Ahnjela scaled the tree to a makeshift watchtower, but didn’t see anything of note. As she approached the cave entrance, she got in a conversation with what I presumed was a kobold guard within. She said it insisted they were many. They couldn’t be that many, if the new Butchers slaughtered as many as they bragged about. Bern tried to talk to it as well, but it didn’t seem like either of them got very far. Bern seemed loath to actually engage the kobolds. Apparently he’d made friends with one before, and this one said it was a cousin. Well, they’ll be there for the next group that isn’t so squeamish. So, we trooped down to the goblin cave instead.
We’d heard that there were two groups of guards in the goblin caves, and Bern hoped to pit one against the other so they would fight themselves. That plan would’ve worked much better if any of us spoke goblin. Attempts to intimidate or rile up the goblins to the west didn’t work. They set their spears instead and stood firm, saying they would call the “big one.” Bern shouted threats to their mates and children and valuables, and we walked south, trying to draw them out. Instead, we hit a dead end, much to the goblins' amusement. We headed back up quickly, before we could be trapped there. We met the “big one” as we approached again. An ogre. Bern wouldn’t stay in the back with his bow and let me take the lead, insisting he was better with his sword. I’m much quicker on my feet, but I let him go in front, because heaven forbid his male pride got wounded. Ahnjela hit the ogre, and Bern hit it with his sword. The ogre destroyed his shield into toothpicks with it’s club. Bern grabbed his hand ax. And guess what, he’s not as good with the sword after all. He was much better with the ax. He wounded the ogre more, and I finished it off with a rock from my sling. The two supposed war dogs that Bern bought before we left were absolutely useless. Didn’t fight anything, just made noise barking their fool heads off. I think he got conned.
We then engaged the goblins. Unfortunately, the tight quarters meant I was useless in the back. Couldn’t get a good shot off with my sling. Ahnjela and Bern took out three goblins. I heard noise from the east, and figured the battle had attracted the attention of the east set of guards. I turned to face them. Set on from both sides, we retreated back down the south passage, so they could only come at us two at a time. They didn’t follow us. Instead, we heard dragging noises, and Bern barrelled back up, swearing that they were making off with the ogre’s bag of gold. We engaged two goblins left in ambush. Herman, the torchbearer was killed, so I let Bern borrow my shield and took over as torchbearer. I was wounded, badly, and one light hit would kill me. Bern was wounded as well, and made comments about healing him, but I deemed his injuries less than my own. The goblins eventually fled or were killed, but we had the east set of goblins yet. For the first time ever, I tried a healing spell, and Zuul favored me by granting me full healing. My healing spell wreathes my hands in fire, and I love it so much. The east set of goblins fled. Bern rested, while Ahnjela and I poked our heads in the room beyond the secret door we noticed. We found sacks of copper and silver, which we grabbed. And a huge bear. We backed out hastily and shut that secret door. Then more goblins appeared from the west, and demanded we leave, because there were a lot of them. I’m pretty sure they were bluffing, but Bern was wounded, so we decided to go outside and camp, then come back and finish the job. And bring Herman’s body out so I can give him a proper funeral pyre.
I tried the healing spell a few more times as we camped, at Bern’s urging that I practice, and gave Bern light healing. He complained that I wasn’t as good as Oscar, and I wasn’t healing him enough. He’s a very whiny ranger. Almost as whiny as the dogs of his. Perhaps that’s why Zuul wasn’t gracing him with greater healing. Since he bitched and complained, maybe I won’t heal him anymore. I deserve appreciation for doing a thing I’ve never done before, not insults. On the third day of camping, Bern went out hunting and was followed back by a huge praying mantis.