The traps are readied. The fall back point is placed. Critter has found the furthest point in the woods that the hobgoblin patrols cover from the slaver camp. And it seems that the Lions Hammer do not patrol, just the hobgoblins themselves.
There is a patrol venturing up the trail when a dwarf stumbles into us speaking about something that did not matter now, if he was too loud our position would be sacrificed. Fortunately he passed out and the hobgoblins were not alerted, yet. As the small patrol of three came to the point in the trail where we could easily ambush them, Padric cast his spell, putting the first hobgoblin to sleep quickly.
I rushed the second hobgoblin in the patrol and slipped my magical dagger into its flesh. The weapon slipped into his flesh, but not very deep due to the armor that was worn. The look on the hobgoblin’s face was unlike anything I had seen before. Initially, he was offering me a smirk, believing that he had me in the perfect spot. Then I watched the agony fill his cheeks and he eyes begin to water as he was thrashed by pain. The agony gave way to a sad blankness in his eyes as his body slumped down after drawing its last breath. I let the hobgoblin fall to the ground; the dagger in my hand seemed warm as it had found one that it was meant to slay.
The third hobgoblin attempted to flee, but was overcome by Padric’s sleep spell. We finished off the two hobgoblins and cleaned up the trail. Three down and many more to go.
Now for the dwarf. Lorick healed him, as he looked heavily injured. When he was conscious again, he began to speak quickly and loudly in his native tongue. I attempted to translate what he was saying to the rest of the party, but dwarven is not a language that I normally use so it was a little rough. But he said something like—“Kkorigard has gone mad you have to save them. He is going to get us all killed. He caught me and he beat me. I pretended to be dead, he stuffed me down a shaft.”
After a brief conversation, we inferred that Kkorigard is the dwarf leader and he is selling the dwarven mines to the humans. We told him to return home and seek out Bjorn, who is in the mines at this very moment. As we finished and realizing it was time to quiet down and check on a potential patrol, Bjorn approached with three more dwarves.
The three dwarves that Bjorn brought with him were some kind of ambassador and his personal guards. They seemed to arrive to see if the stories of the hobgoblins was true. Their timing was close to when the next patrol was due to arrive.
Unfortunately, the ego of the dwarven ambassador outweighed the understanding of tactics and he rushed the hobgoblins, putting himself in danger. We were able to save the dwarf—Padric put one to sleep quickly, Critter placed two arrows into another, and I let my dagger feed on the other one. That brief battle was not enough to prove to the dwarf that that there is an issue.
This patrol was more prepared than the prior. We moved forward to our second location that we had prepared, the location prepared with a pit trap, spring traps, and blinds. From here we could see the hobgoblin camp. We could see a few Lions Hammer soldiers and a handful of goblinoids. Once the dwarf ambassador saw this area, Bjorn convinced him to return to the mines and warn the dwarven council.
Once the dwarves had left, we initiated combat—finally the hobgoblins would be punished for trying to sell us into slavery!
The rangers sent in the mystical lions and four of us prepared to drop the guard on one of the towers. As the lions attacked one of the Lions Hammer soldiers, the four of us let our arrows fly. The guard in the tower was dropped quickly with perfectly placed arrows. Blood was drawn and the enemy was rushing about.
It had been a long time since I had used a bow, probably since my childhood when I was hunting with my father. I nocked an arrow and waited until the next target was chosen by one of our more skilled archers. When I saw the next Lions Hammer soldier get hit by an arrow, I released mine. All seemed well but when I released the arrow my elbow was hit by a stabbing pain and my arrow went astray. I looked around quickly but no one was near. I readied another arrow even though my elbow hurt to pull the bow string.
I let the next arrow fly and my elbow completely gave out this time. The arrow went to the ground and I knew I would not be able to attack in this manner for a while. I crouched behind the tree near the spring trap so I could switch weapons and see where the enemy was. As I watched the battlefield, I could hear a horn bellow as a fog rolled in to cover the enemy.
The enemy had already called to us to stop the attack or the slaves would die. As the fog rolled in, I heard an orc call out in his native tongue, “Kill the slaves!” There was nothing I could do, at it appeared that I was the only one who knew what was said. I called out to everyone, “Fire into the fog, the slaves are already dead,” as bright lights and smoke rose from where the slaving pits were. Hopefully it was a ploy to get us to stop our assault.
I moved over to Critter’s side to refill his quiver with the arrows that I no longer needed when I heard a faint chime echoing across the land. Moments later I was filled with nausea and found myself unable to do anything else but focus on the sudden sickness. The enemy broke through the fog line, and their numbers had grown! It seems that someone knew we would be coming.
By the time that I was no longer ill, the enemy had breached our line. One side was breached by a female, possibly human who was very nimble and agile. If only we had met under different circumstances. The other side was breached by a few hobgoblins. The female was surrounded by the animals and a couple of party members, while the hobgoblins were closing in on Bjorn and Critter, both of which still seemed to be sick. I headed to the hobgoblins as that would be where I was most needed.
At that moment something happened that I did not understand. I rushed over and slayed a hobgoblin and suddenly the ground seemed to sink. At that moment, huge hands rushed out of the ground and pulled numerous people on the battlefield into the dirt itself. It was brief, dirt and dust floating in the air afterwards, and the battle completely changed.
Critter came my aid as he and I finished off a few hobgoblins and one of those Lions Hammer soldiers. When we finished, the nimble female was leaving the battle, not running but casually walking, while Lorick lay on the ground and appeared unconscious. Bjorn was rushing forward toward a cloaked figure, who unleashed a few spells and then Bjorn was lay unconscious. And the cloaked figure vanished! Hoping that Padric could aid Lorick, I rushed to Bjorn.
I attempted to read the scroll that Lorick had given me, but it might have been upside down for all it did was vanish from my hands in a small cloud of smoke and nothing seemed to happen. I will need him to show me what I did wrong. Good think Padric came to his aid also and was able to heal him.
The slaves were still alive. At least the orc was hoping we were just weak. The camp was cleared, with many hobgoblins running from it. We quickly went to the Commanders cabin.
After negotiating a trap—by kicking the door in—Bjorn and I get into the cabin. Inside Bjorn collected some manifests and other paperwork, proof that the Lions Hammer were against the dwarves I believe. I found a couple of spyglasses in the cabin and stepped outside to look at the ships. Lorick looked over at the five ships, at least two of them had a full crew aboard. More slaves and more hobgoblins.
At this point, I heard Bjorn calling for help in the cabin. He had been loading the treasure that we had found on to a wagon. I went into the cabin to see him and Lorick fighting a treasure chest! The chest had huge teeth and tentacles reaching from its mouth…or lid…or whatever you would call it. When it stopped fighting and let them go, we left; leaving that living treasure chest in the cabin. Unsure if it was truly defeated or not, it would be a nasty surprise for the next hobgoblin tenant.
We packed up our stuff. We had a wagon loaded with weapons, armor, and coin from the hobgoblin camp. We had 100 freed slaves to find a home. Next stop, the dwarven mines. Perhaps we can pay them for some space to house the people. Perhaps we can get supplies and artisans from the mines to help us begin building a small town. Either way, we need to get the former slaves away from the hobgoblins before some of them return.
And what of the nimble female and the mage that vanished? Perhaps they were members of the Lions Hammer. If so, we cannot return to Estilin announced. I am sure we have not seen the last of those two though. I have a feeling that they will find us.