The next night, after using the spells granted him by his demonic patron Zarongel to heal Reta, Poog says to her, “Lez find soma place to hidez and rezt up.”
It isn’t only shelter that the goblins need however. As Reta ponders, the growling and gurgling of all their empty stomachs can be heard.
“Let’s eat Slorb,” mutters Drubbus, eying the (late?) Chief Gutwad’s now quite bedraggled advisor.
Reta ponders for a moment the day when she will lead her tribe. Then in response to Drubbus she says flatly, “No. But we do needz ta eat. Drubbus, you go forage for some foods and take Mogmurch. Stayz together. Be quick and bring back enough for all of us. After we eat then we go to where we can rest and gain our strength backs up. The rest of youz, keep your eyes open and don’t wander.”
Slorb slinks up to them and says, “Bah! Dere iz plenty hof peeps in dis marsh we can take grub from. Dere iz da bunch hof boggards not far from ‘ere an’ we might be able to pik dem off. Boggard legs iz quite tasty yous nah. Thun dere iz some scrags we could burn hout closa to da shore. I’d say we go afta some fishermun but few spitz down ‘ere anymore, an’ dey usually spitz in massiv numbers an’ iz well armed. Dere may be da marsh giant or two we could lift some tings from too. I fink dere may be some furtha south.”
Drubbus gives Slorb a long, angry look. “Maybe youz kin live another day.” Turning to Reta he says, “Sounds like boggard legz iz on da menu, but I don’t think you should send just two only. Letz get the whole raid… such as we iz.”
“Yez, dat sounds deliciouz. Mogmurch, youz stay and watch da wumun and Slorb. Da rest of us will gets some fud.”
Reta gathers Poog, Drubbus, Chuffy and Slorb to her and says, “Slorb, draws us a map in da dirt to where we find deez bogards.”
Slorb obliges and with a stick he sketches out the directions to the boggard’s lair in the mud. It turns out they are not too far away on the banks of one of the many branches of the Soggy River. “Da boggards live on da banks hof da riva in da mud. Dere iz just one knot hof dem, though dey as da breedin pond fe dare tadpoles nearby. Those iz heavy eatin too but certainly guarded. Yous must be tricky about dis. Dey iz tough warriors. Dey iz dig frogs an’ can stay underwata fe da long bells an’ move through da marsh wiv ease. Watch da waters carefully so dey don’t ambush yous. Beware dare sticky tongues, an’ do not be frightened off by dare terrifyin croakin. If yous can catch one hof dem on jays, dat iz gonna be heavy eatin fe us all. But if dey cat-sh yous, thun dey iz gonna be da ones to as da feast.”
“Eyez doan wanna go hunting no smelly frogs, lez stay here an rest,” whines Poog.
Reta nods then screeches, “We sneak up to dare turf an’ chek one on jays. Kill it quik an’ bak we spitz. Lez go, yous iz wiv me,” she points to Poog, Drubbus and Chuffy.
Drubbus scowls at Slorb “We eats legz one way or other. Better not be sendin’ us on some fooley or sumpin.”
Reta leads them to where the boggards live by the river, sneaking through the marsh. When close enough she begins looking for one who may be alone and far away from the rest. They stick together though as they are low in numbers right now. Though patience is almost unknown to Reta, she has them wait for a good opportunity for she knows that rebuilding her tribe is of paramount importance and getting food for travel is the first thing they must accomplish.
Reta’s patience pays off. They come across three boggards squatting outside a muddy mound on the bank of one of the many winding branches of the Soggy River. They are dressed only in loincloths though they do have their crocodile tooth studded clubs are within reach. They seem to be squabbling over a roll of flayleaf that they are passing around to smoke.
The goblins are practically invisible and silent as they creep through the brush except for the Chuffy (oddly) who brushes up against some of the reeds causing them to sway. The boggards stiffen a bit and look over towards the bed of reeds.
Drubbus sinks lower into the grass and holds still. Reta glares at Chuffy and stands perfectly still, watching the boggards. Chuffy grins and shrugs, but says nothing.
Poog also comes to a standstill. Then he feels an attack of the giggles coming on. The only way to stop them is to concentrate on creeping forward without making a sound. He slowly places one foot down carefully not breaking any leaves or sticks and moves towards the boggards.
After a moment the boggards shrug and go back to passing around the flayleaf. The goblins are able to creep through the abundant underbrush up to within 30’ of them. Poog looks at Reta and mimes crawling forward by walking his fingers across his palm and then shooting them with his burning hands by wiggling his fingers towards them. Then he raises an eyebrow quizzically at her as if asking her permission. Reta smiles wide and evilly as she nods agreement.
Poog pushes past the reeds and runs up to the boggards to catch all three in a fan of burning flames that erupt from his splayed fingertips. Two of them are singed and they yelp in shock and surprise. The third ducks just in time as the flames roar over his head and back. The boggards blink, shocked. They see that the last of their flayleaf was burned up as well! Shock quickly turns to outrage even as Chuffy’s dart and Drubbus’ slung stone hurtles past them. Drubbus grumbles a long string of explicatives as his sling stone sails pathetically wide of the mark. Reta sprints toward the nearest of the boggards but stumbles just as she reaches them and her attempt to slash him with the Gorge of Gluttons goes far astray, cutting off the tops of some nearby reeds that fall all around her and the boggard.
Poog looks at his smoking fingers and then shakes them like he is shaking off drops of water. He then shakes his head and giggles and starts shooting firebolts as he backs away from the enraged toad-men. The first one singes the nearest of the boggards who had ducked from his initial blast of fire. Chuffy’s second dart hits another boggard at about the same time. Cackling, Reta swipes again at the boggard in front of her and this time draws blood. Drubbus throws his sling down and kicks it in the mud. “Hey!” he says to himself, scooping up the oozing filth. He charges the boggard in the middle of the group and smears the vile mess into it’s huge, bulging eyes as it attempts to get up, thus thwarting its attempt to grab its weapon. With a frustrated croak it dives off the bank into the Soggy River. The other two boggards are able to take up their clubs as they get to their feet and the one injured by Reta takes a swipe at her. Reta jumps back and then lunges in again, slashing at him as he gets to his webbed feet, once more drawing blood. The boggard swings wildly at Reta but comes nowhere close to hitting. The remaining boggard on the bank has similar bad luck against Drubbus.
Poog’s second firebolt goes astray, but Chuffy’s dart hits the one now floating in the river off the riverbank. The dart sticks right above his nose, the boggard swipes it off and then dives beneath the water. Reta slashes her chosen victim a third time, once more drawing blood. Drubbus, swinging his scythe, also manages to scratch the other boggard still on the shore.
Reta says, “Killz this one, we only needz one!”
Drubbus yells, “Everyone help Reeta!”
The boggards finally begin to get in some blows of their own. Drubbus is hit but the blow is absorbed by his dirty hide armor. Reta, however, is hit hard in the gut. She realizes that another couple of blows like that one and she will be food for the boggards rather than the other way around. Then the boggard in the river lets forth a loud and horrifying croak. Chuffy visibly quakes in response to it.
Poog screams his outrage at their combined impotence and hunger! He shoots more firebolts at the wounded boggard. Chuffy hits the one in the water with another dart. Having had enough of Chuffy’s darts it dives beneath the surface and swims away. Drubbus hits his foe again with his scythe, inflicting another nasty gash in its rubbery hide, causing it to dive off the riverbank and disappear beneath the river as well. Reta also hits again and the last boggard staggers away from her croaking in fear and trying desperately to retreat to the riverbank so it can dive away.
Poog sends another firebolt careening after the last boggard but it zips past the creature’s head. Chuffy’s dart catches the boggard in the throat and it falls dying in the mud of the bank, its webbed hand reaching out only inches from the water as it gurgles and dies.
Grinning evilly, Reta looks around to be sure the other two boggards have indeed swum off. Licking her lips she says, “Letz gets this ‘ting back to camp so we’z all can eats it!”
“Do we need ta lug da whole ting back? Or jutz da legs?” Drubbus ponders, his lack of initiative toward anything not involving violence, food or sex asserting itself. “N’ what did dees dudes have over here any wayz?” He wonders poking around where the boggards were squatting.
Reta stops and looks at the dark hole. “Maybe we’z can bring some’ting else back with us too. Letz see what they have in der hole.” She then steps up and peers inside.
“Maybe dey gotz more boggardz in dere! Don’t poke the hornets nest ya eeget!” Drubbus hisses.
Reta sees that the interior of the round mud hut has three reed cots and lots of reed baskets and clay pots. Right by the cots are three suits of boggard sized leather armor and skins. The hut is about 30’ in diameter in the middle of which is a fire pit with a hole in the thatch roof directly above it. The muddy floor is covered over in places with reed carpets.
Seeing that there is no immediate threat Reta and the others search the hut and find that the baskets are full of salted fish and beetles, enough for the goblins to survive for days. In one basket they find what seems to be three ounces of flayleaf that the boggard’s had collected. They also find an escape tunnel under one of the carpets that undoubtedly opens on the other end beneath the Soggy River.
“Can weez livez herez?” asks Poog?
Reta lets out a “skreetch” of excitement. “Takes da food, quick. I gots da leaves.” With that they hurry out and return back to camp with their spoils. She passes out some fish to the others on their way back and munches on a dried beetle herself.
“But Retaz, whyz we can’t stay here?” Poog persists.
“Cuz da udder two boggards got away, an der be more somewherez, maybe.” Drubbus grumbles. “Best get away wid whot weez got.”
Reta responds, “We needs ta feed da females… and Slorb. And dis place is too small for all of us. Come on… lets go.”
Reta leads them back the way they came. Upon their return they find that Slorb has managed to get the goblin women and Mogmurch to put together some makeshift huts and a spiked fence.
“I sez dat Slorb keeps lookout for the daytime! We need some rest after all this hubbub!” Drubbus grumbles. “An’ I think weez done plenny for a night. Letz crash now an find some shelter tomorrow night!” He then picks up a handful of flayleaf and brings it over to some likely she-goblins. “Hey, lookie what I brought back for ya.”
Poog says, “Yez I jest wanna sleep.”
While contemplating his options, Chuffy unconsciously pops a boil on his face. After momentarily rubbing the pus, he sucks it off his fingers.
“Yessss,” Chuffy whispers. ”Rest now, find new home when dark comes again.”
Meanwhile the goblin women and Slorb have crowded around Drubbus to get their hands on some of the flayleaf.
Mogmurch eats all the food he can, and sneaks some into the shadows for later. After that, he grabs some of the leaf to smoke. It almost crosses his mind to wonder about their shelter, but the thought dances out of his head almost as soon as it entered. Besides, shouldn’t their new leader, Reta, be doing something about that? Mogmurch does spend some time thinking on that. He doesn’t like Reta being leader any more than he liked Slorb (and Slorb’s still making problems!) – but he’s pretty sure he couldn’t take her in a fight so he doesn’t challenge her.
Poog goes off to sleep as he needs his rest for tomorrow.
Reta also chooses not to partake of the flayleaf.
Chuffy is sad because he missed out on the flayleaf. He approaches Slorb with outstretched hands. “Me wants some if you’s can spare.” He eventually gets a roll of flayleaf for himself and pretty soon he and Drubbus, Mogmurch, Slorg and the goblin women are able to get quite stoned before they crawl into the makeshift huts to sleep through the day.