Dear Mother Augite,
I start this letter, not at all sure that I will be able to deliver it to you. As we are about to face a dire situation, I have left it addressed and deep in my pocket, in the hope that, should we be slaughtered, when my remains are found the finder kindly ensures its final delivery. I sincerely hope, though, to be able to write the remainder later tonight.
Also, please pass my thanks to Sister Ochre for the lovely picture she drew of the place where we battled the goblins. Her skills with paint and brush far exceed anyone else that I know, and despite her never seeing this place, she has drawn it perfectly!
We rested in Callech, and Faye and Nura wanted to return to where the WaterElemental had arisen from the water, to converse with it and find out what tribute it desires to allow the boats to continue plying their trade up and down the river. Faye was apprehensive about her skill in Aquan, but Nura assured her that she (Nura) has studied the form and structure of languages, and between them they ought to be able to communicate with this strange being. We wish they had more time to compare their notes and for Faye to teach Nura the language, but this task must needs be completed before the next barge heads down river.
Faye also had the excellent idea of talking with the older elves, who have been through this time of magic in its earlier incarnation, to find out anything they can. And indeed, Mother Augite, any information you can glean from me on this would be greatly appreciated, for surely many of our own long-lived race would remember not just the last time the Orb lit up, but several of the times before that. Please send me those details as soon as you can, that I might pass this knowledge around our group.
There was quite a discussion before we left, because it seems that the elves would have preferred to remain at Callech. However, Nura and Faye reported that some of the humans around Callech are becoming uneasy at what our group seems to have induced. Such tiny minds on the short-lived races! They cannot see that whatever the power is that has reactivated the Orb has also brought these creatures, and we are but a byproduct of the power, not the cause of it. We managed to persuade Vall and Myrie to accompany us, for their own safety as much as to ensure our group had the maximum possible power.
So we have two horses and a barbarian…
… walk into a bar.
I’m not reading that fic.
We pooled our funds, and all contributed to hire a horse that Galath might come with us to the elemental, and then return in time for his next portal. Nura rode with me on Quicksilver, the others working out their own mounts. There was some disagreement between Vall and Myrie, culminating in the admission from Myrie that she does not trust Vall because Vall is an elf. We pointed out that Myrie is an elf, but the logic seemed to escape her. Then the discussion flowed to how to repair our reputation in the town, which some seemed to think required the elves to settle down and populate it with half-elves. I cannot see this resolving itself easily.
Much banter and bickering followed as we rode down the river, but we were easily able to find the rock we had marked earlier and the point in the river where the Elemental lived. Indeed, it would be easier if I transcribe what I could gather of the conversation between Faye and the Elemental:
Faye: “Nobody touch the water”.
(There was something stirring in the water.)
Faye: “Hello! We have returned!”
Faye: Many boats will travel this way. We recognise you as the traditional owner of this patch of water. What would you take as tribute?
Vall (aside): Body language? How do you read a body of water?
WE: “I want the kingdom of XXXX restored
I want the item of XXXX returned
I want the power of XXX given back to its rightful place.”
(We could not understand the words. Perhaps one day we should come back and find out what they were)
Nura suggested “Can you draw pictures?”
Chrysta: Perhaps shape the water?
Faye: Interpretive water dance?
(someone) River dance?
WE: You will know then when you come across them.
F: Where can we find them?
WE: This world is not what it was. I cannot tell you.
N: Mutters about war
N: Suggests that as this going to take a while, may the boats have safe passage?
WE: If you give tribute
F: What tribute would please you
WE: Something of value to us or them?
F: Copper coins
WE: Your demenour suggests these are not that valuable to you
F: Not to me, but to the peple of the village.
WE: In the old times I had tribute of gems and precious metals.
F: But these people don’t have access to gems. WE are poor. Copper, and a little silver.
There followed an argument about who should be talking to the Water Elemental.
Val: Elf-feminite (whatever that means. These elves are a strange lot)
F: What is valuable to me is stories and songs. Let me sing you a song of my people.
N: Your dignity isn’t valuable?
F: Starts singing
And she gave a performance of deep and sincere emotions, that stirred the hearts of all there, including (apparently) the Water Elemental.
Chr: How do you tell if a Water Elemental is crying?
WE: I will let them pass if they sing to me. I have no knowledge of this new world. That would be worth something to me.
Let this be a lesson to our people – that sometimes words are more valuable than gold and gems. Perhaps we could start a singing school at the new Temple?
We rode hard, and returned by sunset, in time for Galath to join his boat for the run down to Tremayne. The Temple does well, by the way, and will be ready in time for the Autumn Harvest festival. It will though be according to the pleasure of Pharasma whether I am to be a part of that.
The next day, we returned to the ruins where the goblins had given us so much trouble, only slightly misdirected by Faye. I hope she will improve at pathfinding in the future, for another time, the delay may be of greater importance.
In the daylight, we realised that the entire edifice is a great deal more engineered than we first thought. The place where the campsite is situated is built atop of a great stone platform that has altered the course of the river, so sturdy and huge is its construction. There were signs that the buildings behind the campsite might extend even further than we first thought.
The place where we had searched before is a cellar built under the stone platform, with two entrances; the larger one back from the river, and the small muddy hole we had discovered while on the barge.
Then Vall and Myrie picked up a smell.
As Myrie has a special hatred of goblins, we mused that perhaps goblins would be blamed for every ill that befell her people.
“Roof fell in – Goblins!”
“Autism – Goblins”
“Firefly got cancelled – GOBLINS!”
Myrie complained about the rest of us trampling all over the area as she searched for any signs of recent habitation, and then deduced that the myriad of footprints were not (as she had first thought) from our own clumsy feet, but from an entire troop.
Val: A stink of goblins?
Faye: A Miasma of goblins?
We decided to use the entrance with steps, not the hole in the riverbank.
Faye: Val? You know traps – you go first.
And Val found a trap straight away – if he hadn’t checked first, I would have been the only one who wasn’t tall enough to be hit by the swinging rocks. Val tries to disable it from a crouching position, and keeps making comments on the quality of the trap and the intelligence and ingenuity of the makers.
I was having trouble seeing past everyone – perhaps being the short one in the middle of the group was a bad idea. While concentrating on the floor, though, I did spot that it was sloping slightly.
Suddenly I realised that the others were all brandishing their weapons, and Nura hurled a quarter staff. Badly. She hit Faye on the ankle, hard, and Pharasma knows what else suffered that blow. Faye just managed to stop from tumbling down the stairs and knocking us all before her.
Then an arrow struck the wall just above my head.
Another goblin swung and missed, and Myrie and Vall ran forward to get around him, with the goblin swinging wildly at them. With that, Val hit hard with his rapier, and brought the Goblin close to death:
M: “Could I do a Coup de Gras?”
C: “Just hit him through the liver, and do a Coup de Fois Gras?”
V: “Hit him in the backside and do a Coup de Ass.”
One more shot at Faye, and this one hit. And another larger one ran up to Faye and stabbed her hard. This one was nastier, and uglier. Another ran to Myrie and went for her with a knife, but missed. I thought I had better start doing something.
Nura tried once more with her magic staff, and the heavy “thunk” matched the big guy dropping. Then another ran up to me, swinging his shortsword in my face and slashing a nasty cut in my side. Val ran up behind, and stabbed, with such precise accuracy and attitude that it was a wonder that his rapier did not explode with delight. Myrie now had a rather upset hobgoblin in her face, so she returned the favour with her longsword and rendered the threat impotent. So I swung at the little goblin in front of me, but didn’t manage much.
Faye jumped off the stairs, stumbling somewhat as she landed, and fell onto the dead hobgoblin. Then she ran off into the tunnel, as Nura beside me dazed the guy in front of me. Val ran off after Faye, then a second later both of them came back, Val dragging Faye by the shoulder with one hand over Faye’s mouth.
“There’s a lot of trouble in that room”
Myrie readied her bow and shot into the room with the ferocity of an elf with a deadly hatred of the race.
Realising the danger, and the opprtunity of the dazed goblin, I moved well away from him and cast a Bless on the lot. And Faye took advantage of the dazed condition of the goblin as well, and sliced and diced him, after which I took my knife and returned the foul creature to the arms of Pharasma.
And then we considered our situation.
“I’ve got 39 arrows and they all have the names of Goblins and their dogs on them.”
“How do you know their names?”
“Book of Baby Goblin Names 2016”
Mother, we are at the moment sharpening our blades, counting our arrows, and preparing to go into the room where there are many, many goblins. I trust to Pharasma, who alone knows whether I shall prove myself for her glory, or go to meet her. If I am able, I shall finish this tale.
If I am not, please comfort my parents and tell them I died well in the service of our people.
Until then, farewell.
Chrysta Bal-Trydimite, of Clan Felsic