Homeless

The longshanks of Sandpoint are too busy putting out fires to send out any patrols to look for the goblin murderers and arsonists. For that matter, they know better than to send anyone out into the night looking for goblins. So it is that Reta, Poog, Mogmurch, Drubbus, Chuffy, and Slorb (as well as Mangy and Chuffy’s goblin dog mount) make the long walk back to Brinestump Marsh. However, when they get within sight of Licktoad Village things there do not seem well at all. Down the path they see torchlights in front of the village gate, the silhouettes of armored warriors, and the shouts of goblins. As they watch the gate is broken through and the silent armored warriors pour into the village.

“Perhaps we should wait here,” suggests Slorb fearfully.

Poog let’s out a quiet hiss, “Yesssss.”

“My mate!” shouts Mogmurch as he runs to rescue her.

Chuffy remains silent.

Reta says, “Idiot” and lets Mogmurch run into the village.

Drubbus runs after him. “Fool! Don’t assume she’s dead! Do something rash, and she’ll have to find a new mate.”

Torn between choosing his mate and self-preservation, Mogmurch stops near the gate, trying to see just what’s going on and if Rempty still lives. It seems as if all the warriors have gone inside, so creeping up to the gate he looks within. The goblins inside are firing arrows from behind their huts and from the rooftops at the invaders but it doesn’t seem to be having any effect. The longshank warriors clamber up onto the walkways and route the defenders. Mogmurch sees that goblins are jumping over the walls and fleeing into the marsh. Perhaps Rempty is among them! Then he finally notices that the invaders are not actually carrying torches. The four “torches” are actually balls of softly glowing light floating just above them. As he looks what appear to be laughing goblin skulls appear within the lights. One of the skulls turns towards the gate and a moment later several of the warriors do as well. Then Mogmurch sees that these are no longshank warriors at all – or at least not living ones. They are undead – the animated bones of long dead human warriors in strange armor and bearing slightly curved swords like none usually seen in Varisia. At least half a dozen of the skeletons start back towards the gate, right at Mogmurch!

Mogmurch notes which way the goblins fled into the marsh as he turns and beats a hasty retreat himself away from the gate and the warriors. Drubbus and Mangy follow as they dive back into the underbrush. The skeletons and their eerie floating allies follow only as far as the gate but then turn back to continue their attack on the village itself.

Drubbus attempts to find the others, “Let’s try to gather up anyone that’s escaped from the village.”

Mogmurch was thinking the same thing. Careful not to make any noise that might attract their enemies, he slips into the bush with the rest of the party to find the escapees.

“Yes, lets,” hisses Reta. She then giggles from nervousness and leads the group off to gather what tribes members they can find.

Poog and the others follow.

Creeping through the marsh at night is no problem for the goblins and eventually they come to a clearing amid the moss shrouded cypress trees of the marsh. A dead stump lies in the center of the clearing and it has long been a place for the Licktoad tribe to regroup if by chance they should be forced to flee their village, as has just occurred. Unfortunately, it would seem that one of the great predators of Brinestump Marsh has lain in wait here. As they come to the clearing they can hear goblin screams and muffled cries of help coming from it. From behind the cover of the boles and knees of the cypress trees they see that it is the dreaded Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many, the giant spider that has long stalked the Licktoads. The spider is busily wrapping up at least a dozen goblins.

“We needs ta do summin!” says Drubbus, stating the obvious. “Anyone got anymorez fireworks or anythings?”

Chuffy pulls out his bullhorn and moves off in a perpendicular direction from the others shouting into his bullhorn trying to sound like a much larger and scarier monster. This startles Lotslegs who leaps for the trees, dodging a firebolt from Poog and one of Reta’s arrows.

Drubbus says, “Reta, got a spellie for ya!” and he casts hide from animals on her, so she can assassinate Lotslegs.

“Tanks Drubbs!” says Reta as she circles to the right assuming the spider will drop down in front of them.

Mogmurch lights his last remaining Desnan candle and fires it up into the trees overhead in a vain attempt to hit the spider before it can jump back down on them.

Chuffy continues moving in the same direction yelling into his bullhorn.

Lotslegs spews webbing from its spinnerets at Poog but the sticky mass comes nowhwere near to hitting him.

Poog keeps trying to hit with firebolts but misses again.

Reta climbs the tree to get at the spider.

Drubbus runs into the clearing to start cutting the captive goblins free of the webs.

Mogmurch, abandoning the Desnan candle, throws a bomb at the spider and hits, injuring it. Sparks rain down on Reta to her consternation.

Chuffy, not sure what else he can do, runs into the clearing to help Drubbus and Slorb free the web-wrapped goblins. It turns out that all of them are goblin women, a dozen in all, including Mogmurch’s mate Rempty and Drubbus’ wife Gupy Wartbits.

Lotslegs climbs up higher into the tree to get away from Reta (who apparently it can see just fine), firing its webbing at Mogmurch as it does. This time it hits, and Mogmurch finds himself engulfed in the sticky sheets of spider silk.

Poog’s next firebolt hits the spider square in the belly.

Reta climbs higher to get at the spider, but her swing at it misses.

Mogmurch finds that he is unable to extricate himself from the webbing.

Having had enough of the goblins with their fire and bombs, Lotslegs leaps for the next tree over and heads back to its lair.

Reta screeches, “C’mon lets follow and kill da thing for good!” and starts after the beast.

Drubbus shakes his head and helps another grateful female remove her… webs.

When Mogmurch is freed he follows the others to finish off the spider.

Chuffy follows after Reta. He draws his dogslicer as part of his move action.

“Don’t be stoopid Retazzz, wesah donwanna getz stuck in itz lairz!”

“Ah crapz,” says Poog and trots after the others.  ”Wesa gonna beez in trouble.”

Drubbus realizes he lost something, somehow and trots off after the others. Not knowing what else to do or where else to go, Slorb and the goblin women follow Drubbus.

Lotslegs keeps to the treetops but the goblins are able to follow it back to its lair. On one occasion it does briefly elude them, but Drubbus is able to track it by the ichor dripping from its wounds upon the soggy, mossy tree branches. They finally arrive at its lair, a deadfall of several old trees. Somewhere in the mass of fallen rotted trunks and branches the wounded spider lies in wait.

“Well, I ain’t goin’ first! Maybe we can burn it out.” Mogmurch inventories his bombs, acid, and fireworks, then selects the paper candle and readies it.

Reta does not charge in. She takes time to evaluate the deadfall. Climbing onto the top of some overlapping trunks she gets a line of sight on the spider down below among the fallen limbs and brush.

Chuffy draws his dog slicer while following Reta towards the lair.

Mogmurch follows Reta, looking for a good place to throw things (like acid).

Drubbus readies his biggest firework.

Poog moves up next to Reta to get into position to use his last firebolt

In the end it only takes a single shot from Reta’s bow to finish off the already gravely wounded Lotslegs. The spider folds up its legs, rolls over on its back, and lies quite still. When they are sure it is really dead, the goblins are able to move in and search the lair. Scattered among the trees are dozens of bodies, some of which are goblins, but a few of which are humans. Among the bodies they find 24 gold pieces, a small masterwork light crossbow with 11 bolts, a single pearl, 4 potions, and a wax-paper sealed package containing six pieces of taffy.

Slorb and the goblin women come up and look over the shoulders of Reta, Poog, Drubbus, Chuffy, and Mogmurch, with many oohs and aahs. Slorb declares, “Ha! This will become the beginning of our new Licktoad treasury! Now we only need to find a new place for our village, a more secure and secluded place. Hmm, I think I know of a place. The home of Old Megus the Swamp Witch. No one’s seen her for months. Maybe she’s dead or moved on. If so, we can take over her place.”

Drubbus pokes Slorb with the firework he was preparing for the Lotsalegs, “Pretty quick to write off the old chief, and start barking in his stead, eh? Let me confer with me collegues and see if they approve of your recommendation.”

Reta takes the taffy and a potion. Eating one of the pieces and passing the rest to Chuffy she says, “Agreed. And Reta Slayer of Lotsalegs will be chief!”

Mogmurch lets them argue. He spends his time loading up the loot, starting with the potions and the crossbow.

Poog grabs a goblin maiden and sneaks behind a bush for some gratuitous recompense for saving them. He finishes in less than 30 seconds with a squeak. The goblin maiden gives him a dirty look as he heads back to the group and asks,  ”Reta what should we dooz now?”

Mogmurch suggests, “We need a new village. Old Megus’ place might work. But maybe a farmhouse far from the longlegs’ would be better. And we could eat their food!”

Reta considers and then announces, “Yez, we will go to Old Megus’ place.” With that she leads her village to what may be their new home.

It takes a few hours to slog through the marsh to the Old Megus’ shack. Still, they arrive well before dawn as goblins are well suited to picking their way through the undergrowth in the pitch black of the marsh. What they see is a sagging one-story shack sitting in a clearing, its walls dingy with age and encrusted with delicious lichens and fungus. A partially collapsed shed sits just to the northeast, while small pouches, twisted knots of feathers, and dangling wind chimes made of bones hang from branches and roof edges alike.

Reta screeches, “Slorb you stay and watch the women,” clearly not counting herself among them, “we will check the shack first.”

She then draws her wicked blade and leads the small group towards the shack.

I could stay with the women! Drubbus thinks to himself as a scowl runs across his face. Then he falls in with the others.

Mogmurch gets his bombs ready and follows behind their new fearless leader, muttering “Hehehe. Burn and boom!”

The shack seems to have only two doors: the front door on the east side, and a back door on the southwest side. On the north side is a trail that might lead to the coast. The shed has mostly collapsed but there is still a door standing on the western side facing the house.

Reta says, “Chuffy, sneaks up and check the front door. Druubus, Mangy smell anything?” She then nocks an arrow to cover Chuffy.

Chuffy smiles and nods.  He slowly makes his way to the front door.

“I know he smells, but I have no idea if he smells…” Drubbus grumbles.

Mangy sniffs around and bristles. Something is inside the shack but the goblin dog is unable to pinpoint exactly where or say what it is.

“He’s onta sump’n. Best keep you goggs sharp!” Drubbus warns.

Chuffy hears nothing and finds no traps, but the front door is either locked or jammed.

Reta waves them all back to her then she says with a wicked smile, “Mogmurch burn da frackin house. Smoke whatever it is out to greets us.”

“Let’s just burn it down!” says Mogmurch with no attempt to stay quiet or stealthy.

Mogmurch starts looking around the shack for himself, trying to find the best spot to start a fire. He gets a vial of alchemists fire ready for use.  As he works, he sings his song in happy anticipation of the fire:

“Things go boom when Mogmurch throws

Much more fun than using bows

Sometimes when the boom boom blows

Is not my fault – that’s how it goes.”

Trying to look like a true fire-starting expert, he mutters to himself “Now, where’s the driest stuff to light up?” Once he’s found it, he lights it without the alchemists fire.

“Why don’t weez toss a couple o’ deez firebombs inta a winder?” Drubbus whines “Eazzier dan a fahr, ‘n dere will beez plenny o’ smoke ‘n sparks. Maybe da shack don’t burnz down needer.”

Mogmurch jolts to a stop and looks at him. “You got fire bombs?” he asks eagerly. “Well, throw ‘em, then! I’m keepin’ mine fer later.”

Drubbus takes his largest firework and readies it. “Whooz a gunna open a door or winder?”

“Let me gets outta the way first,” says Chuffy. “Me likes things burning, just not me.”

“I gots dis,” says Reta. She kicks down the door, which was not locked but simply swollen shut with moisture. The door slams into the floor in a cloud of dust and fungal spores. The entire shack shakes and rattles alarmingly. When things settle down, Reta sees that sheets of fungus grow along the walls and floor, and also on the numerous gourds, twigs, and bones hanging from the ceiling on sinew and string. There are doors to the north and south and across from the main door an entranceway into another room to the west.

While Reta kicks in the door, Mog finds a heavy stick and bashes in the shutters of the nearest window. “Whack! Take that, window! Whack!”

Mogmurch stops hitting the shutter and comes around to where the door crashed in. He pokes his head past Reta to see inside. “Okay. Get the fire ready. We’ll pull the door shut again after you throw it in, so all the smoke and fire’ll be inside. Unless you wanna crack that other door first.”

Reta puts up her hand and says, “Wait,” then looks further into the shack. “Nobodyz in der… Let’s checks it out.”

She then switches to her dog slicer and leads the group into the shack. To their alarm, they find that simply moving through the shack causes the walls and floorboards to creak and groan. She says quietly. “Watch those,” pointing to the doors to the north and south then walks to and looks thru the opening to the west. She sees what might have once been a longshank’s living room though now the sagging benches, broken table, and narrow cupboards are overgrown with more fungus and mold. An old brick stove sits against the west wall and there are two doors to the north and one to the south.

Reta points to Mogmurch and motions for him to open the door in front of him (to the south). She then backs out from the west doorway towards the south door. Reta also looks at Mangy to see where the dog is paying its attention.

Chuffy picks his nose, then his butt, and then he draws his dogslicer and heads inside.

Feeling pretty safe, ‘Nothing’s happened yet, right?‘ Mogmurch tries to open the door but finds it is also swollen shut and so has to kick it open. What he finds is the witch’s bedroom complete with a large bed, its sheets thick with mold and puddles of water from the leaky roof. To his horror, he sees that numerous ruined books lie stacked nearby, their contents, thankfully, destroyed by the damp.

Mangy growls and glares at the storage shed.

“I thinks we need ta check out that nasty ole shed. Mangy don’t like it none,” says Drubbus.

Reta says, “Storage Shed… now,” and moves outside. She motions for the rest to cover her and goes to kick in the door of the shed. Before she can reach it, three dire rats, rats the size of small dogs, hurtle at her from the sides of the shed, two to the north and one to the south.

Drubbus comes out of the shack, kicking Poog out of the way. He lights up his skyrocket and aims it at the two rats to the north. The rocket shakes and begins emitting a handful of sparks that causes the rats to stop their charge and draw back.

Reta attacks the dire rat on the south side of the shed. “Kill Dem!” She hits it with the Gorge of Gluttons, opening a wide gash in its side.

Mogmurch stays back, looking for a chance to throw a bomb at the rats.

Poog moves to flank Reta and casts his last firebolt, killing one of the rats to the north.

The wounded rat facing Reta and the remaining rat to the north turn tail, literally, and flee into the underbrush.

A few seconds later Drubbus skyrocket takes off, hitting the shed and exploding into a multi-hued shower of sparks and rotted debris that forces the goblins to duck for cover. “Well, we don’t haffta worry bout dat shack no more.”

Reta looks angrily at Drubbus then leads them all back in to investigate the rest of the shack.

Suddenly, Chuffy, who is still inside the shack, hears a scuffling from the other room, the one on the western side of the shack. From out of that room pours a roiling mass of crazed rats who go for him and also Mogmurch and Mangy who are just outside the door.

Mogmurch runs and hides behind Reta. Once there, he drinks one of his healing potions.

The rats continue swarming over and feasting upon Chuffy and Mangy.

Poog throws his hands in the hair and begins uttering guttural sounds, “uh huh ugh ump urn uh huh ugh urp grrr,” his hands glow with a dull sickly green light and he then throws his arms out in front and screams, “Zarongel!”  A blast of negative energy is cast forth and it kills many of the rats composing the swarm, but not enough to totally disperse it yet. It occurs to Poog that if he keeps using negative energy he can destroy the swarm, kill all the rival goblin heroes and then get all the women and become the new head of the tribe.

Reta moves away out of his range, draws her bow on him and says, “Stops dat! Now!”

Poog shrugs as he follows the others, “It beez okay Retaz. I jest helping az best az I could.”

Chuffy runs out the shack and flees from the ferocious rodents. Drubbus follows him.

Poog is struck by a sudden panic attack. He realizes that the rats are going to engulf him despite his efforts. Poog turns, and shrieking like a little child, flees as fast as he can go!

By the time the goblins are able to regroup, it is clear that they will not be able to find a new home by daybreak. Under the circumstances, they are forced to find meager shelter in the hollowed out trunks of dead trees or fallen trees. Being nocturnal the goblins sleep through most of the day, but when they awaken they are faced with the same dilemma. Where can they go where they will be safe from the other predators of Brinestump Marsh?

“Why is we hangin’ aht inna swamp anyhooz?” Drubbus complains. “I never liked no swamp! Let’s go see sumpin’ new.”

“But the swamp has food. Lots of food,” says Chuffy.

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