I’ve been sedentary for too long. My reactions are slow. My reflexes are rusty. The first couple of swings I take at the hobgoblin standing in front of me are short and wide. I wish I could blame the shortsword, but its balance is fine and the blade is honed. No, it’s me. I’ve been in town for too long. Away from my forest. Things are changing, and like the seasons I will change with them.
Just thinking this frees me and my next few attacks are on the mark, taking down the hobgoblin, then dealing with the others. One of the goblins fires his bow, and just like that I can sense the arrow coming towards me, follow the sound of the twanging of the bowstring and my outstretched hand catches an arrow and throws it to one side. I think that scared the poor little thing.
The others have arrived by this point. The dwarf is keeping the other hobgoblin occupied, William is apparently singing into their heads, and the city elf has disguised himself to look like Krakark.
He manages to convince one of the archers that he’s in charge, but the other doesn’t fall for it. I give chase. Gods but goblins are slow. I manage to run him down but a piece of illusionary land stands up in front of him and both he and I stop short, causing me to miss my attack.
I hear the city elf telling the other goblin to fire at me. He’s clearly seen what I can do and wants to abuse the privelege. I’m ok with that. I hear the twang, feel the arrow coming, and just like that I reach up and grab it, bringing it down onto the goblin who tried to flee and dispatch him. By the time I’ve done so my friends have dealt with the rest of the goblins, save City Elf’s enthralled little archer.
City Elf demands our surrender, which it occurs to me is actually a good ruse. I agree and move towards them. The elf asks the goblin where they should take us, and this causes the goblin to falter. It would have been nice but now it appears he’s seen through the illusion and he has to be killed as well.
Eh, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We debate our next move. Back to Treebor? This is what William wants. Actually he’s desperate to get to Lakeway, but promises we’ll send word back about the encampment.
The City Elf wants to go forward, into the keep, though it isn’t clear why. He has things to do in Treebor, mainly picking up the parcel he needs to deliver. The Dwarf is always up for a fight, so he wants to head into the fortress. I myself have wanted to kill Krakark since the first time we laid eyes on him. If there’s a chance he’s in there I’d like the opportunity. I can’t really explain why I want him dead so badly…oh, wait, yes I can. He tried to trap us in a cave to drown.
While we argue another band of goblins, this one smaller, arrives, and again we have to fight. And again one flees and I have to chase him down. So now we’re back to the same discussion. Go forward? Or go back?
The City Elf uses his magic on William, which I take to be bad form amongst wizards, but he doesn’t seem to care who he casts his spells on. The bard is momentarily enthralled and while he is we make our way up the hill towards the keep. We don’t make it all the way though as we’re stopped by the sounds of action. Marching boots, jangling chainmail and the smell of goblin sweat. There’s a twelve goblin patrol heading out of the keep that’s going to pass right by us. We press ourselves to the dirt and let them go past.
It appears to be Brakark, Krakark’s bigger, meaner brother. We’re not sure if they’re out to attack Treebor or to find out what happens to the patrols we keep killing. Either way the noise inside the keep lets us know there’s probably too many of them for us here. Instead we make our way back towards Treebor, stopping just on the other side of the bridge to wait for our prey.
The council meeting went about as well as we could have expected. They were dubious of us, but seemed somewhat more interested in what we were saying after we showed them the note. We left the meeting with some trepidation. I’m concerned that I’m going to wake up in the morning living in a city under siege by goblins.
We made our way back to the Inn/Tavern where William put on quite a show. He’s got talent, I’ll grant him that. After the show we were met by Kline, the slick dressed ambassador from Lakeway. Kline made us an offer. He informed us that the mayor of Treebor was going to ask for our help in the morning, sending us out to a place called Ghosthowl, where the Hobgoblins are known to congregate. He asked only that when we were sent to scout the area we return and, if need be, exaggerate the threat to Treebor. This will allow him to graciously extend the assistance of the Lakeway military, and thus get Treebor under the thumb of the Lakeway Lords. We agreed after he promised us some short swords and a shield (things very difficult to come by, these days).
In the morning the Mayor did indeed make the offer for us to act as his scouts and we pretended to be reluctant but accepted the job anyway. Myra is suspicious of us, but honestly I don’t really care what she thinks. We forced them to give us all backpacks, a bedroll and a week’s worth of provisions.
We made our way out of town and to a bridge near a waterfall. If the goblin army is going to march on Treebor they’ll either need boats (which we suspect they don’t have) or they’ll need to use this bridge, which appears to be made of calcified sulfur. The river is wide and rapid. We made our way across and up into the hills. Standing watch I heard the namesake of the Ghosthowl hills. When the wind blows at a certain angle it appears to blow through the rocks in such a way as to create a ghastly noise. I can see why superstitious folks like these Treeborians would be afraid of it, but I’m convinced it’s a natural phenomenon.
We found the old fort they claimed was the one used by the Hobgoblins, and it looks a lot like the fort on the shore we first arrived at. Definitely imperial built. There were a few campfires scattered about and we decided to get a closer look. I tried sneaking up to the closest campfire but these damn jungle trees seem to go out of their way to stymie me. I stepped on a branch and drew the attention of two hobgoblins and three goblins. I called out to the dwarf to attack, a prearranged plan in case something went wrong, and now they’re coming right at me…
Day Six (Apparently)
The Treeborians have a decidedly ass-holish demeanor, at least the ones that came to meet us outside did. we recognized the half-orc woman who William and the Dwarf scared away from our earlier meeting in the woods, but we weren’t quite sure she recognized us. After some badgering we told them about Karkark’s imminent attack, but they were skeptical. William wisely brought out the note Karkark gave us for his brother during our first meeting and that at least got them to agree to let us speak with the council.
The rest of the day was spent wandering around Treebor. The inn is run by a delightfully large half-orc named Bartolo, who overcharged us for rooms, and baths, but did throw in dinner and breakfast. I think William may perform for his room sometime tonight, which should be the highlight of these people’s lives.
The general store is run by two halflings (which is terrifying enough, but they appear to be twins) named Hockle and Jockle or some such. They’re a little shady and to further drive that point home one of them offered to pay us for smuggling in goods against an embargo from what seems to be every city in the West. We did buy some clothes, bags, a tinderbox and some various sundries.
The City Elf went off to get a spell book, though I’m not sure how well he did.
The rest of us went to the blacksmith’s where a dwarf told us basically he has no ore (again because of the embargo) and that we could purchase a short sword for five times its price (the only one he has to). We almost left empty handed, but I think William managed to get the dwarf to upgrade his harpoons.
Now it’s time for our council meeting…
We were headed to Treebor, at least that was the plan, though we were still exhausted, tired and barely able to comprehend our surroundings or what was happening around us. That must have been why we wandered into the ambush by the Jungle Cats. Two of them, six-legged, covered in fur, tentacles flailing from their backs. The city elf did something useful, distracting one of them with a light, but the cats were fast and their claws sharp, and when the fur stopped flying one of the cats had run off back to the jungle, the other was dead, but I was ragged and bloody, the city elf was unconscious, and William…well, he never stopped looking at his idol, as near as I can tell. The dwarf did manage to come out practically unscathed. I must remember not to underestimate his combat prowess.
More travel through the jungle led us to several paths we could take, and at one juncture we ended up going right when we should have gone left. We discovered an empty hunting cabin with some food, which after some debate we ended up taking. Then we came upon a path that seemed to end, but I sensed this was a distraction, and followed the path to where it actually led, into a ravine. With a very obvious tripwire at it’s entrance. After making our way past it we found a group of struggling survivors who were turned away from Treebor. Their half-orc leader, a woman named Simms, gave us much information about the island, including the names of several of the local tribes (The Firsts, The Rum Tum Slavers, etc) and cities (Rocks, Rex, Last Chance). Their group is still at war with Treebor, but to their credit when we informed them that a hobgoblin and his army were on their way to attack Treebor they insisted we go warn them. Treebor falling could lead to ruin for everyone on the island, and I was impressed with the woman’s moral conviction, helping an enemy to stop a greater tragedy.
They helped outfit us, including giving the dwarf a broadsword, the city elf a bow (plus an extra bow for the bard, if he ever comes out of his stupor) and supplying us with canteens and a few other sundries. We spent the night then made our way towards Treebor the next morning. Unfortunately we came across a large group of spiders who had spread their webs across the path we were traveling, and another short, violent battle ensued. The city elf was poisoned and knocked unconscious once more, and I was once again dragged to within an inch of my life, but we managed to survive, and now we continue on…
The thing is my leap was executed almost perfectly. Floating over the ice filled pit…wait, ice filled? That distracted me and my kick…well, it glanced off the slick, fishy face of the cult leader. Turns out it was the City Elf casting some kind of illusion. The fish priest was no pushover, it took all our combined strength to bring him down. I was almost dead, my spirit traveling towards Arvandor, the high forest of Olympus, my promised resting place, but before I found the Leaflord and his great Oak Tree I was brought back to the land of the living.
We finished off the cultists and made our way further into the cave. We discovered a real idol, the one those wooden idols were based on. William took control of it, though it still makes me uneasy that we didn’t destroy it. I fear it is a gateway to the world of this bizarre fish god.
A tunnel beneath the room lead to crashing waves, which briefly turned to ice before turning back to crashing waves. Eventually we agreed it was time to go. Unfortunately that’s when the charmed Hobgoblin reemerged. The bastard crashed the rocks and trapped us in the cave. We had to crawl through the hole and swim to safety, which was much more exhausting than anticipated. William briefly let me hold the fish god’s idol, and while it did make me feel better I still don’t like it.
City Elf found a map which leads somewhere farther into the jungle, a place possibly called Treebor, which we expect the hobgoblin to attack. We’ve decided to head there now to warn them…
The running jungle dwellers never returned, but we did take along their stew and the pot they cooked it in. We continued our journey to the so-called “Empty City”. I still don’t like the jungle. I also don’t like mountains, it turns out, but that’s where we ended up next. The city elf spotted a “sea cave” at the bottom of this mountain. I’m not sure how I missed it. I blame my confusion and lack of familiarity with this new environment. Everything is strange. I also don’t like the giant body of water that’s constantly to one side of me. I miss my forest.
On the other side of this mountain is the village, the “Empty City” we’ve been told about. Our exploration of the city shows that it’s been abandoned for what appears to be much longer than the hobgoblin informed us. The wood is pitted and rotting. There’s a copse of trees in the middle of town for what appears to be no reason, and a blue, octagonal dome just outside the city, at the end of a pier.
William wants to investigate the largest of the buildings and I agree that this is probably the most likely place to find any surviving villagers, or whatever passes for a villager on this gods-forsaken island. But that’s not what we find there. Instead there’s some kind of idol, a strange looking thing that makes me feel uneasy. The world seems to bend and bow around me, and for a moment I feel I’ve lost my grip on reality. I haven’t felt this way since I once ate a patch of oddly colored berries that I mistook for wild raspberry, but turned out to be something more sinister.
I feel desperate to leave the building, and I hope the copse of trees outside will make me feel a littler closer to reality. They’re not any better though, there’s something sickening about them and the way they feel. Or smell. The dwarf followed me outside and wants to examine the local blacksmith’s shop. There’s not anything there I could use but agree to go with him as I must get away from these trees.
After a brief search he finds some leather that he can use as armor, but not much else. He takes a handful of nails. We move further south, to the boatwright’s place, and there’s some discussion of a note or a diary. It’s drizzling here, raining, but everything feels off. We make our way to the blue octagon. It’s a temple to Umberlee, the god of the sea. I’ve always heard Umberlee was evil, but my companions convince me that the sea is merely chaos, and not actively evil. Inside is a dead priest, and his journal. Seems something sinister moved into this town following the death of a young boy. His brother has found a new deity to worship, but the priest didn’t like it. Eventually the town was taken over by this new being, and the priest was killed.
The only thing left to explore is that sea cave, which we now assume is where the followers of this odd cult have gone. Inside we find that this is the truth. Cultists attack us and finally I get some exercise. I let my energy flow, the aggression of fighting bringing me slightly back to reality. After defeating several cultists and finding some prisoners who appear to be too far gone to save we discover a secret door. Beyond is a ritual being performed, slaves being slaughtered by a cult leader and his followers.
I really feel the urge to leap over his home-made abattoir and put my foot right in his face…
Waking up in the forest to the sounds of birds, insects and other natural sounds is my preferred method for starting the day. Waking up with a mouth full of sand, covered in dried salt-water and baking in the sun is much lower on the list. But that’s how this day started.
I have no idea where I am or why I’m here. Fighting those soldiers had something to do with it, but I’m still not sure what exactly. They seemed rather angry when they returned. Then someone called a magistrate said some words that made no sense, invoked the “laws of the land” (which he was incredibly wrong about, I know the laws of the land quite well, having spent more than eighty years living amongst the forest creatures) and the next thing I knew I was shackled and taken to a small, caged room. This form of punishment is cruel, so I was happy when they took me out, shackled me onto a ship and at least let me smell the outside air again. But then I blacked out. I believe I was poisoned with something, and now here I am on a beach, looking at jungle, wondering where the hell ‘here’ is.
Jungle isn’t exactly forest but it’s better than beach, so that’s the direction I headed. The flora and fauna here are vastly different than what I’m used to, so if I’ll be here a while I better get used to it. I started off in the direction of a worn down keep. It was along the beach, but I prefer moving through the wooded area. My hope was that I could find someone in the keep who was reasonable and could offer me passage back to my home.
Before long I heard noises coming towards me. A half-elf, dressed in the same silly rags my captors gave me, came bursting through the brush with his hand over his mouth telling me to be quiet. I found this odd as I hadn’t realized I was making any noise, and he seemed louder than anything around us. He was fleeing from another pair of men on the beach, apparently, and then something about casting his last spell with all the fuzz or lint or something he had. He wasn’t making much sense, but he seemed friendly enough. Introduced himself as William and we agreed to move towards the ruined keep together. Safety in numbers. Any small creature in the wilds can tell you the advantage of that.
Approaching the keep we came across another pair wearing the same clothes. A dwarf and another elf. High elf from the looks of it. They were standing in front of the keep staring at the door, as though they might enter it using only their minds. We hailed them and for the second time in as many hours I was told the be quiet. Apparently they’d heard goblins inside and were….I’m not sure exactly what they were planning when we came across them. The elf came over to tell us all this, introducing himself as Gerty, and telling us the dwarf’s name was Ragnarok. Though when I hailed the dwarf as Ragnarok he became agitated and confused so either the other elf is confused or the dwarf doesn’t know his own name. I’ll reserve judgement for now.
Goblins are a nuisance. They’ll destroy parts of the forest for no reason other than to watch fire burn, and they kill for sport sometimes. They’re cruel little beasts, so I have no love for them. I agreed to assist these two in removing whatever threat the goblins posed, and so the four of us concocted a plan. While three of us hid near the door William agreed to cause a distraction, drawing them out. We made quick work of them. Inside the keep we discovered the bodies of two humans hanging from an overhead beam, and we cut them down.
Some large creature was flying overhead, circling, but I could never get a good look at it. Too big to be a hawk. Vultures maybe? Smelling the rotting flesh?
We decided to take the bodies of the goblins and the humans to the beach to let them wash away. Apparently this keep was to be our new home, though I couldn’t imagine living in it. Much better to live outdoors, with the stars overhead. But no reason to make waves. I saw a staircase through part of a destroyed tower, filled with water, probably from an underground stream, and decided to swim over to it. I was immediately swarmed by some kind of small, toothy fish, and the dwarf (whatever his name is) had to help pull me from the water.
We made our way into the manor house of the keep to find that it was disheveled and empty, though I could hear something moving around upstairs. We made our way up there to find more goblins. I leaped forward to smack one in the face and my new companions followed along when a hobgoblin burst forth, wielding a giant sword.
The elf used some kind of magic to charm the brute and convince him we were friends. The hobgoblin told us all about his plans to invade some empty city along the beach, as well as his brother, another hobgoblin, being in charge and not letting him do what he wanted. He also mentioned something about a tree dwelling group living in the jungle that he wanted to conquer. We convinced him to allow us to take a missive for him to his brother, and to check out this “empty city”. A clever ruse that allowed us to escape unharmed without having to fight. Always the wisest path. The elf informed us that his charm would wear off soon after we left so we moved quickly through the jungle towards this empty city.
We came across a pair of jungle dwellers along the way. At first they were frightened by our appearance but I assured them we meant no harm. Unfortunately while we tried to parlay with them William and the dwarf began arguing over something I didn’t understand. Something about the queen’s backside? And once again the jungle dwellers fled.