SESSION 28: Guts & Goblins
After giving it some thought, Igan expressed his regret at having destroyed Kosef's court martial documentation. He explained his reasoning, and Lena spoke up saying that she could forge the paperwork from her perfect memory, but she didn't have the skill to make it look like official documentation or change her handwriting. Egg-spiker, having looked over the documentation briefly, told the group that he was confident in his ability to imitate the handwriting and signature of the originals. So with Lena's help of reciting the language of the forms, Egg-spiker worked diligently to recreate the paperwork. They continued on their journey.
The Pillarmen stopped at a nexus in their path. They could either find some way of traversing the river straight to Cardel, or they could veer eastward along the already-worn mountain path. Naturally, both presented various difficulties. The river had opened up and become a bit more unpredictable as it cut winding into a canyon through the mountain range, contained by steep cliffs on each side and no large riverbanks. The mountain pass, however, would likely prove to be difficult to navigate, take longer, and have more living creatures along the way (whether wildlife or travelers or whoever else). Clearly, the Pillarmen wanted to find some way of traveling by river because they spent all morning trying to concoct a method of creating a raft or otherwise bringing their newly acquired wagon with them.
Eventually, though, they gave up on the idea and decided to go through the mountains. Though the geology and topography was similar, they couldn't help but notice the change in ecology between these mountains and the mountains of the west, which seemed to have a greater diversity of mystical wildlife. They made their way through the pass with very little difficulty until they all got the sense of some ambush looming. They stopped and tried to speak in code about their predicament, but Igan failed to understand and inadvertently alerted the enemies to the party's knowledge of their presence. As a result, the ambush was triggered early.
Roughly two dozen goblinoids -- bugbears -- stepped out from behind crevices in the cliffs on each side of the path and hurled javelins at the Pillarmen, leaving a few injured and Kasj on the brink of death from being impaled. A few of the bugbears charged the group and many stayed back to hurl more javelins. A commander stepped forward and demanded surrender of the party. Instead, Igan enlisted military aid from angelic servants of Kaela, Sklooh went into a blood-frenzy, and, most effective of all, Lena unleashed the full force of her power in the form of firey explosions. As the bugbears were steadily hacked to bits or otherwise incinerated, the bugbear commander called forth a small battalion of goblins from the rocks to unleash a few volleys with their bows. The entire encounter left Lena completely spent of her arcanic energies, Sklooh slightly exhausted, and the rest of the party at least partially maimed or injured, but the goblinoids were successfully fended off.
Igan engaged in his post-battle practice of cannibalizing the vanquished foes, and preceded to set up a temporary camp with a border marked by pikes bearing the decapitated heads of the goblins. Eggsy treated various wounds, especially those of a badly injured Censer who had been fairly useless during the battle. Lena collapsed exhausted on the wagon, attempting to rest. The respite was short-lived, however, as a new horde of goblinoids approached. Many bugbears, but they were being led by more fearsome foes -- hobgoblins, the militarized and intelligent superiors of the goblin ranks. The hobgoblins seemed charmed by the carnage littering the Pillarmen's camp. They forcefully demanded that the party accompany them to speak with their warlord. They agreed. According to the words of a goblin underling, select members of the Pillarmen were issued the ornamental pikes to carry into the goblin war-camp. The group was led single-file into hidden tunnels within the mountain and into darkness, finally emerging into dimly lit caverns where at least part of the goblin legions were residing. They were brought into the presence of a particularly fierce looking hobgoblin.
This beast was introduced as their warlord and leader, and it was evident that he commanded a great deal of fear and respect. Those Pillarmen carrying pikes were ordered to embed the spits into the ground. All succeeded except for Egg-spiker, who lost respect among the martial chief. He expressed a certain interest in a group of six warriors who managed to defeat a little more than three-dozen of his soldiers, even if those soldiers were weaklings in his eyes. After learning of their magical abilities and fairly confident of their enmity with Varda, he had them brought to him. He asked of them many questions in order to reveal their motivations. Egg-spiker, however, spoke out of turn and received a warning to be quiet. Egg-spiker revealed his impetuousness by spitting on the warlord. The response was a swift, non-lethal cut to Eggsy's throat. The warlord dared Egg-spiker to show further disrespect. He did, and received another swipe to the throat. Sklooh, outraged at the assault on his friend, charged the warlord and threatened him by placing his ax-blade to the hobgoblin's throat. Igan and Lena tried to calm Sklooh down. The warlord gave Eggsy one more chance to correct his behavior. Eggsy scoffed at him. The enraged hobgoblin thrust his blade deep into Egg-spiker's neck, causing him to collapse and begin gasping and bleeding out on the cavern floor.
Sklooh attacked, but was slightly outmatched in strength. Lena and Igan rushed to pull the lizardfolk off of the warlord and also to the aid of the dying raven-kin. The warlord growled out an order to leave him on the ground and give him no medical attention -- if he dies, he dies; it is the price of disobedience. He continued the conversation without interruption. The hobgoblin warlord wanted to enlist the Pillarmen in an assault he is planning on Cardel. They have been encroaching on his territory, so he has been conducting a guerrilla war against them -- disrupting all travelers and supply-lines traveling north and west of the city. Trying to quickly end the conversation so that Egg-spiker could be attended to, Igan agreed on behalf of the Pillarmen. Unfortunately, Egg-spiker bled out and died as the dialog progressed. Sklooh simmered with rage, Lena wept, and Igan remained stone-faced in front of the hobgoblin forces. Censer stooped down and took Bismuth from Egg-spiker.
The warlord turned his attention to Sklooh and told him he would have his chance at revenge presently. First, the warlord wanted to assess the groups combat capabilities. He led them to a dark chamber and bade them enter and prepare for combat. Once they reached the floor of the chamber, a huge boulder began moving... and then it stood up. They found themselves engaged in a conflict with a starving stone-giant which had apparently been blinded. The combat was short, and Lena, Igan, and Sklooh made short work of the creature. Sklooh, still filled with a desire to avenge his fallen friend, issued a challenge to the warlord. Obliged to acquiesce, the he leaped down and told Sklooh to prepare himself for combat once more.
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