Session 42: A Fair Fight

After Opal's sermon, everyone, especially Philip and Vernim, complimented Opal.

"That was very impressive," Philip told her, "to be able to speak so well about such lore."

"Thank you, Philip," Opal replied. "I do it twice a week. It's no big deal. What were you saying, Vernim?"

"I was very impressed," Vernim added. "Hearing our gods are connected gave me a brand new perspective."

"They certainly are connected," Opal smiled.

They went back to the tavern and ate, where Vernim inquired about Cob again. Jess said he hadn't been seen, but mentioned that it wasn't uncommon for him to go out for days at a time.

They went back to their room and, after confirming their treasure was where they left it, went to sleep for the night.

In the morning, they left early for the caves.

As they approached the road, they saw a dozen robed humans ahead of them, walking slowly in the same direction toward the caves. As they got closer, they heard the travelers singing, and clapping. It sounded like a hymn.
"We're going, going to Quonzar. To Quonzar is where we're going to go...," they sang. "We're going, going to Quonzar. And Quonzar will be our home."

When the travelers noticed them, they stopped singing and parted to let the faster group through. "Well met, travelers," they greeted.

"Hail, and well met," Vernim replied.

"Where might you be headed?" One of the robed men asked. "We're headed to see Quonzar. Are you headed to see Quonzar?"

"We've never heard of Quonzar," Valeria replied.

"You've never heard of Quonzar?" the man asked, surprised. "Quonzar is great. You should come with us."

"How far away is Quonzar?" Lawrence asked.

"Oh," the man replied, "we have quite a few days of traveling ahead of us."

Vernim subtly asked Brother Martin if he knew anything of Quonzar.

"I think I've heard of Quonzar before," Brother Martin replied. "I think Quonzar is the head of some kind of cult. I think Qonzar is their god."

"Quonzar is not their god," Opal corrected. "Quonzar is a prophet. I've heard of him before. Brother Martin, have you actually heard of him before, or are you making this up?"

"No," Brother Martin insisted, "I've heard of him, but I must have been wrong."

"Well I have heard of them," Opal repeated. "And Quonzar is their high priest."

"That's right," one of the pilgrims said. "We are going to see our prophet. Where are you headed?"

"We're headed to some nearby caves." Vernim explained.

"We're adventurers," Prynhawn added.

"Caves!" the man replied. "That sounds exciting! How far away are these caves?"

"Not far," Vernim answered. "We are almost at our destination."

"Well," the man suggested, "We can travel with you as far as our journeys allow. I am Brother Arvind, and these are Sister Betik, Sister Shahira, Brother Mathias, Brother Taghrid, Brother Prasad, Sister Naresh, Sister Mirvat, Brother Talal, Brother Tariq, Sister Vyalia, and Brother Tuladin."

"In the meantime," Vernim asked, "can you tell us all about Quonzar?"

"Certainly," Brother Arvind agreed. "You see, Quonzar is the prophet of The Singing Fish. And The Singing Fish is the creator of everything; all the other gods and everything that is. The Singing Fish sang everything into existence. Now we are going to see Quonzar because Brother Taghrid insists that he had a divine vision. So we're going to share this with Quonzar to see if this vision is actually divine, and whether this vision should be heeded or if Brother Taghrid must be stoned."

After a little small talk, the group wish them good luck, and continued past them.

As they left the pilgrims behind them, they heard their singing resume.

Before long, they turned a corner and the pilgrims could no longer be seen or heard.

Not long after, they arrived at the caves.

Philip suggested they investigate the entrances to all the caves, before entering them.

Prynhawn was interested in exploring a new cave.

Valeria, said they could investigate new caves, but only those on the lower level.

Behind a tree, the only cave mouth they had yet to investigate gaped like a wide mouth with an idiot grin. As they approached, their senses were assaulted by a horrible, rotting stench. A trickle of water dribbled out to form the little stream that flowed down through the valley. From within came no sound except the occasional “plop!” of dripping water.

Valeria decided they should return to the goblin cave to kill the remaining goblins, without casting charm person. Everyone agreed, and they discussed how to get past the portcullis, using the secret door that Harkul had used.

They entered the familiar goblin cave and returned to the western guard chamber, which was still uninhabited.

Vernim cast silence as a ritual on the wall across from the hallway with the portcullis.

Philip moved stealthily past the portcullis to the end of the hall, where Harkul and his guards had previously appeared. Although he knew there must be a secret door here, after searching for a couple of minutes, he could not find any indication of one. Philip stealthily returned and told them he could not find the secret door.

Valeria slipped down the hallway and began searching the wall herself. She quickly found a latch in the wall, just above her height, within arm’s reach. She signaled for the group to join her.

As they joined her, Valeria pulled the latch and opened the hidden panel in the wall, revealing a corridor beyond.

As Lawrence passed the hallway with the portcullis, which was still lit, but empty, he spotted a single goblin laying low and peaking around the corner, into the hallway.

Once at the secret door, he let everyone know about the lone goblin.

Philip apologized for being too short to find the secret door himself.

Beyond the secret door, the corridor turned north. After twenty feet, it ended, branching off to the left, and opening up into a corridor on the right.

At the end of the corridor, they saw the left corridor ended in a door after twenty feet.

They turned to the right and entered the familiar goblin common area from the west. The thirty by forty foot chamber was still a cluttered mess, with heaps of bedding, tables, stools, and benches all around. The area was filled with about two dozen of the gray-skinned humanoids, who seemed to have just dropped their various domestic tasks, and were now waiting for the group, with spears ready. Three more tended to almost a dozen children. To their left, another corridor led north.

Valeria immediately shot an eldritch blast from her wand into the room, not hitting anyone. Vernim prepared to cast cure wounds. Brother Martin cast bless on Prynhawn, Philip, and Yanliz. The archer dropped a goblin with an arrow. Philip charged into the goblins, flailing with his staff and kicks, but did not hurt any goblins. Lawrence scorched four goblins with burning hands. Prynhawn dropped a goblin with a slash of his ochre blade. Ten goblins threw their spears at the group and disengaged, hiding behind a second set of goblins that moved up to replace them. Most of the spears were deflected, but Opal, Lawrence, Brother Martin, and Yanliz were all hit. Dubricus cast burning hands, leaving two goblins scorched to death, and two others badly burned. Seven relief goblins threw their spears, but none did any damage. Vernim cast cure wounds on Opal, as Opal cast cure wounds on Brother Martin. Aseneth put four goblins to sleep.
Valeria blasted the closest goblin with an eldritch blast. Yanliz dropped another goblin with an arrow. Vernim dropped a goblin with his warhammer. Philip kicked a goblin's legs into the air, and cracked another's neck with his staff as the first goblin's head cracked open on the ground. Lawrence cast burning hands again, searing one goblin and singing three others. Prynhawn dropped another with his sword. Dubricus seared three more goblins with another burning hands and scorched a fourth. Opal, Valeria, Philip, Yanliz, and Aseneth, were all hit with goblin spears. Valeria was hit twice. Aseneth was stuck through the gut with what looked like a fatal blow, but appeared unphased. Opal cast cure wounds on Aseneth. Aseneth put four more goblins to sleep. Two goblins began raising the portcullis.

Valeria put four more goblins to sleep. Vernim cast cure wounds on Yanliz, who dropped one of the goblins trying to raise the portcullis, with an arrow. Philip smacked a goblin with his staff. Lawrence cast green flame blade and struck a goblin down with his staff as green flames leaped to another goblin, dropping it as well. Prynhawn slashed another goblin with his sword. Vernim avoided a thrown spear, but Aseneth and Valeria were both hit. Again Aseneth looked to be suffering from a fatal wound, but ignored it as she began slashing the throats of the sleeping goblins. Opal cast cure wounds on Valeria.

The door at the end of the western corridor burst open and Harkul charged forward with his three bodyguards. Valeria shouted a warning to her companions.

Valeria cast faerie fire, outlining two of the bodyguards in violet light. Vernim cast healing word on Aseneth. Brother Martin cast cure wounds on Opal. Yanliz shot another arrow, dropping another goblin that had been trying to raise the portcullis. Harkul and two of his bodyguards swung their scimitars at Opal, but she blocked them all with her shield. The third bodyguard slashed its scimitar into Valeria. Philip dropped a goblin with a kick and rolled away from the fray, popping up in front of Opal and striking Harkul with his staff.

"It was nice working with you for the short time we did," Vernim shouted in goblin, and pointing towards Lawrence, "and I'm sorry you have to betray your friend here and the rest of us."

Lawrence hit Harkul with a fire bolt. Prynhawn dropped another goblin with his sword. Lawrence avoided a spear, but Opal and Philip were hit. While Aseneth was killing the sleeping goblins, a goblin struck her from behind with a spear, but she kept standing. Opal swung her morning star at the goblin that stabbed Aseneth, but it ducked and she hit Aseneth instead, dropping the wizard.

Valeria helped Aseneth with a healing word and cast cure wounds on herself. The wizard did not move. Vernim swung his warhammer at a bodyguard, but missed. Brother Martin revived Aseneth with cure wounds. Yanliz shot at another goblin who had been trying to raise the portcullis and dropped it. Philip dodged the scimitar of one of the bodyguards, but was hit by a slash from Harkul's. "Die, you traitorous bandits!" the goblin king cursed. The other two bodyguards turned their attention to Lawrence, each slashing into his scaled hide. Philip swept Harkul, knocking the king to the ground for good. Then the monk smashed his staff into a bodyguards face, dropping it. Lawrence burned the remaining bodyguards with burning hands. Prynhawn dropped another goblin with his sword. Yanliz was hit by a goblin spear. Opal smashed her morning star into the goblin that had stabbed Aseneth, finishing it. Aseneth continued killing sleeping goblins.

Six hobgoblins came running in from the north corridor.
Valeria cast healing word on Lawrence, avoiding one of the hobgoblin's swords. Vernim summoned radiance of the dawn, dropping the four remaining commoner goblins with the power's radiance, and searing the six hobgoblins. One of the hobgoblins cleaved his sword into Lawrence, dropping the sorcerer. Brother Martin cast spare the dying on Lawrence. Valeria avoided the swords of two hobgoblins. Yanliz turned and dropped a hobgoblin. Philip evaded a goblin bodyguard and rolled in between Lawrence and his hobgoblin attackers. He dropped one with a strike from his staff, and broke both of the other's knees with a kick. Prynhawn cast cure wounds on Lawrence, but the sorcerer was still down. Opal began raising the portcullis.

Valeria revived Lawrence with cure wounds. The hobgoblins and remaining bodyguard swung at Philip, but could not catch the halfling. However, they avoided the attacks from Vernim, Brother Martin, and Yanliz. Philip dropped one of the hobgoblins with his staff and disengaged, rolling away from his four attackers. Lawrence cast scorching ray, killing a hobgoblin and the last goblin bodyguard. Prynhawn swung at one of the hobgoblins, but could not penetrate its armor. Opal continued to raise the portcullis.

Valeria shot an eldritch blast at a hobgoblin, but missed. Vernim smashed his warhammer into a hobgoblin's shield. Finally, Brother Martin dropped the last hobgoblin with a swing from his mace.

Aseneth checked all the bodies, making sure they were dead, while Dubricus searched them for any treasure.

Valeria cast cure wounds on Opal.

They considered whether they should continue on, rest in the cave, or return to the cave.

"I have an idea!" Dubricus announced. "We should rest in the room where the king came from. At least, if this were my party, that's what we would do."

"That's definitely an interesting idea," Philip replied, "I mean we're all part of the party together. We work hard and figure things out, and its important that we all contribute our ideas..."

Valeria was confident that the rest of the cave was empty.

Brother Martin was reluctant to continue on while they were tired and wounded.

Aseneth agreed with Valeria, that they should explore the rest of the cave.

They opened the door at the end of the west corridor from where the king had come, and peered into a surprisingly snug room. A small, but rather nicely carved wooden bed at the far end was piled high with furs in place of a mattresses, topped with a magnificent wolfskin. Beside it was a padded bench with worn plush velvet and mahogany paneled sides. Their attention was immediately drawn to a faded tapestry that hung behind the bed, depicting an armor-clad warrior battling three large, furry humanoids. Her battleaxe and breastplate sparkled in the reflection of their light sources. Three sleeping pallets lay on the floor between them and the bed.

Five female goblins cowered under the furs on the bed.

"Do you really feel like we should attack them?" Vernim questioned. "They don't look like they're actively doing anything to us. I can speak with them."

"Why don't we give them a chance to surrender?" Brother Martin suggested.

Prynhawn agreed.

"I'm sure they would do the same for us." Aseneth quipped.

"If you think you're better than goblins," Lawrence challenged, "then why don't you prove it? I mean, what are they? They're just sex slaves for the king."

"And eventually they'll have goblin babies who will grow up to be goblin warriors," Valeria added.

"What makes you assume they're slaves?" Aseneth asked Lawrence.

"There's five of them in the goblin king's bed." Lawrence explained.

"Why wouldn't they want to be with the goblin king?" Aseneth challenged. "Wouldn't he be the most desirable mate of his tribe?"

"Is that how you mate?" Lawrence asked. "Purely by power?"

"I don't think that's necessarily all he had going for him," Aseneth replied, "but sure, he is the most successful..."

"Sure," Lawrence acknowledge, "I didn't mean to make an assumption there, but I don't think these five are dangerous."

"They're not." Vernim agreed.

"You don't know that." Valeria argued.

"We do not want to harm you." Vernim offered in goblin.

Suddenly the wolfskin flew off the bed and leaped onto Prynhawn. The large wolf pounced on the paladin and knocked him down, tearing into his chest. Prynhawn tried to swing his sword at the wolf, but could not land anything from the bottom.
While Yanliz tried to get a clean shot from behind everyone, Philip dived through everyone's legs and flipped onto the worg's back, stomping on it. He gripped it between his legs and swatted his staff on its head. Lawrence blasted it with three scorching rays and it collapsed on Prynhawn.

Just then, the five goblins pulled daggers from under the furs and appeared as if they were going to leap at the intruders, but they quickly hid their daggers and began to cower 'helplessly' once again.

"Now are we justified in killing them?" Valeria questioned? "Or do we still think they're helpless concubines?” After a pause, she added,"I'll take that silence as a yes."

Vernim and Prynhawn objected.

"Let's not make any rash decisions." Vernim suggested.

"If you think about it," Prynhawn offered, "if there's an intruder in your house, even if you're a slave, wouldn't it be rational to have a dagger in your hand?"

"By that logic," Dubricus offered, "we shouldn't be invading these caves at all. Why are we here? We came here to kill goblins."

"I'm just suggesting that maybe we should give them a chance." Prynhawn proposed.

"I kind of agree," Lawrence stated, "but we did already give them a chance."

"They still aren't attacking us." Vernim argued.

"That means that anyone who cowers in fear," Dubricus continued, "is then exempt from our attacks. All anyone needs to do to avoid being attacked by us is start cowering in fear."

"Can't we disarm them?" Vernim asked.

"There are weapons all around," Valeria challenged. "Are we going to kick them out of their home as well? How far are you willing to go? Is anyone going to object if we kill them?"

"Okay, let's kill them." Vernim agreed. "I've flipped a coin, and I have Tymora's blessing."

"Do you want to use burning hands?" Aseneth asked Vernim.

"I don't want to waste the spell." Vernim replied.

"How about Yanliz shoot them—" Valeria began.

Yanliz had been standing with his bow aimed at the bed and, before anyone could reply, he immediately let an arrow fly, hitting one of the goblins between the eyes.

"Had you not drawn your daggers," Vernim began in goblin, "we would have spared you, but you left us with no choice. I hope you will fight us honorably, and you will die honorably."

One by one, Yanliz finished them as they screamed.

"So much for a fair fight," Aseneth sneered.

Valeria recognized the scene on the tapestry as that of Lady Durnsay and the Bugbears. Vernim thought it looked valuable and carefully removed it from the wall and gently rolled it up.
After briefly considering resting here, they decided to explore the north corridor in the common chamber. The corridor only continued north for twenty feet before turning left. It continued west for fifty feet before branching off to the right, and continuing straight for twenty more feet before ending in a dead end.

They followed the corridor to the right, and it turned quickly left before opening into a chamber after thirty feet. The chamber was about thirty-foot by fifty-foot and contained the now-familiar heaps of cloth and skins that served as beds, as well as a number of barrels and crates that seemed to serve double duty, both as storage and as tables, benches, and the like for the humanoids that filled the place. Several boxes had been pushed together in the center of the room to form a crude table, atop which was—of all things—a sandbox.

Eight female hobgoblins stared at them through bloodshot yellow eyes, and snarled at them with yellow teeth. Their reddish-brown hides were unarmored, but they grabbed spears and rushed to attack.

No comments:

Post a Comment