Just as Slorb said, it proves easy to follow the Soggy River out of the Brinestump Marsh and below a bridge over the Lost Coast Road and on into the farmlands.
Still a good distance from the farm and approaching it at night, Reta says to Chuffy, “Youz, scouts out da perimeter of da farm. I wanna know everyting der is ta know. And stay well clear of da animals… dey can smell you from a good distance. Don’t gets too close.”
She has Slorb and the women stay well enough away hiding in some bushes or trees while the rest of them wait for Chuffy to return.
“Okay Boss,” whispers Chuffy as he scampers towards the farm. After a few minutes, two dogs within the fenced in yard on the far side of the farmhouse begin barking. The humans inside are soon up and lighting lamps.
A minute or two after that, Chuffy’s disembodied voice whispers from the darkness. “Me saw a couple of mangy doggies and hear some men folk in the big house. No doors on this side. All facing away. We can take them before they can get ready,” says Chuffy.
“How many men?” Drubbus growls.
“Wat about da chimney? Can we use that? And we should wait till dey is sleepin again.”
“Where are you? And how many men?” asks Mogmurch. Drooling slightly, he adds “Any children, or (slurp)… babies?”
“No babies, only mens,” says Chuffy. ”Even though me can’t be seen, those dogs smells me. Maybe I try to move quickly and get to chimney and climb.”
“Well, you dummy,” Mogmurch says snidely, “kill the dogs when they sniff too close!”
“Well now,” Drubbus grumbles, “he’d have to get purdy close ta kill dem dogs, won’t he? ‘N deh’d a started barking well afore den, eh?” Drubbus squints his eyes. “Nah. Deyz gonna bark no matters what’n we duz. What we need ta do is make da longshanks tink da dogz is just barkin at da moon or sumptin. If we had some meat, we could toss it ta the critters and dey’d fight over it. Da longshanks’d tink any barkin’ was over da meat. Den maybe we’d be close enough ta do sump’n.”
“Yeah, that’s much better,” agrees Chuffy. ”Make them chase after meat. Then me can climb the chimney.”
“Let’s us go find someone easier to eat” chimes in Mogmurch.
Reta looks hard at Drubbus then shakes her head, giving up the idea of feeding him to the dogs. ‘Too much trouble,’ she thinks.
“We needs a diversion. Slorb will get close enough to make da dogs bark den run away. Da rest of us will climb up to da roof and down da chimney to surprise da hoomans as soon as dey come back inside der house.”
“Ha ha ha! Good idea, Reta! Good idea!” Mogmurch says enthusiastically. Mogmurch loves the idea of Slorb being chased by the dogs.
“Me likes that one too!” cackles Chuffy from the shadows.
“Wait!” says Slob. “I’m needed back in da house to watch ova da bitches. An’ besides, yous need me knowledge. I can also bone da human tongues. An’ if I can check da heavy hidin’ space I can help yous ruk betta just as I did fe da last chief. Let Chuffy get da dogs barkin’. He’s invisible an’ so da dogs iz gonna stench him but da humans won’t be able to check him evun if he’s standin outside da fence.”
Reta snorts disappointment as she really wanted to see Slorb running from the dogs, but he makes a good point. “Ok, Chuffy yer bait. Let da dogs sniff ya so deys starts ta barkin a lots. Den run aways and climbs somewhere safe if dey sets da beasts on ya. Join us soon as ya can. Da rest of us will climb da house and go down da chimney when da dogs are barking at Chuff’s. Got it?”
Mogmurch nods agreement.
“Is der a nudder way in?” Drubbus asks. “Might be good to have two ways in. If not, chimney it is.”
“Not good,” whispers Chuffy. ”Doors all on far side of buildings,” his voice trailing off as he heads towards the dogs. He heads through the fields to the south of the farmhouse sneaking up towards the shack that is southeast of the dog’s location. He clambers up on that as the dogs begin their ferocious howling once again. Through the shutters of the farmhouse he can see lamplight and the humans soon pour out into the dark yard with weapons and torches raised high. Chuffy crouches down on the far side of the roof of the outhouse, just as the invisibility granted by the potion wears off.
As Chuffy heads off, Reta leads the others to where they can climb up the chimney of the house. She times their arrival to soon after the dogs begin to bark again at Chuffy. Only Reta is able to climb up, while Drubbus, Poog, and Mogmurch are only able to scramble up a little way before slipping and falling on their butts.
Chuffy has his own problems on the other side of the house. From the roof, Reta sees that Chuffy has become visible and is hiding on top of the outhouse. Three human men with torches have come out into the yard and are shouting at the dogs and each other in their language. One of them is in hide armor and has a crossbow, another is in a breastplate and helmet and has an axe, and a third is in padded armor and has a pitchfork. Reta readies her bow in the darkened cover of the roof.
Drubbus continues to scratch the chimney with his fingernails, as does Poog, while Mogmurch finally manages to scramble up to the roof by Reta within the shadows cast by the chimney. Down below, the farmers are putting leashes on the dogs and getting ready to open the wooden gate. They seem to be speaking to people still inside the house, at least one other man.
Mogmurch looks down at the others. He almost taunts them with a laugh for their inability to climb, but then remembers that they need to be quiet for now. Instead, he says nothing but sticks his tongue out at them and grins mockingly.
Poog, disgusted with the entire affair, decides to creep to the front corner and cover the entrance with fire bolts. Drubbus follows.
The farmers open the gate, their respective weapons ready to attack anything that might leap out of the shadows at them.
Chuffy climbs down from the outhouse and runs south across the field, drawing his dog slicer as he goes.
Reta starts shooting at the farmers with her shorbow. Her small arrow embeds itself in the latch as the farmer with the pitchfork was opening it. He jumps back with a yelp but the latch is open and he kicks the gate open. Shouting and pointing, the other two farmers raise their lanterns and point to the roof.
Mogmurch lobs a bomb down on the farmer by the gate, hitting him square on the elbow as the farmer lifts his arm to shield himself. The explosion tears into that farmer and his two fellows as well as the dogs. None are mortally injured, but they the wounds are painful and now they are clearly yelling about goblins (as the goblins recognize the human word for themselves). Mogmurch laughs gleefully as the bomb explodes! The shouts of pain from the longshanks and whimpers from the dogs delight and encourage him as he readies the next bomb.
Poog rushes from the corner of the house to get within range of the farmers. He unleashes a fire bolt that hits the farmer by the gate, eliciting another shriek of pain from the unfortunate.
Drubbus follows after Poog and cast entanglement on the yard, causing all the grass and flowers in the yard to reach out and wrap themselves around the farmers and the dogs. Both dogs, and the farmer by the door, however, are able to keep themselves from getting caught.
The farmer in the pelts runs screaming back into the farmhouse. Though they have to struggle through the grasping grass and flowers, the other two are also able to make it back inside. From just within the door, a horn blares out into the night to alert the surrounding farms. The two dogs bound out of the gate and past the animated plant life and attempt to sink their fangs into Poog, who is the first goblin in reach. Poog is able to scuttle back and twist out of the way, but it is certain that unless stopped the two burned and enraged dogs will tear him into pieces.
Seeing that no dogs or humans are chasing him, Chuffy stops running and begins creeping back towards the farmhouse, ready to stab anyone or anything that comes near him.
Reta looses another arrow and wounds one of the dogs attacking Poog.
Mogmurch looks over roof, trying to decide what will burn best. Then he thinks about the animals and looks to the barn to the west of the farmhouse. “There’s just gotta be easier food ta get than dese guys!” he complains. Already the goblins can hear horns answering in the distance from other farmhouses.
Poog screams, “Da dam dawgs. Help!” Poog launches a firebolt at the closest dog while he tries to back away towards the rear of the house followed closely by Drubbus.
The dogs are right on Poog’s heels, nipping at him, though one gets a fang pulled out when it gets caught in Poog’s chain shirt.
“Letz kill da dawgs, or de’ll track us.” Drubbus suggests. “Den we hightail”
Chuffy heads back to the corner of the farmhouse, following after Poog, Drubbus, and the dogs.
Reta begins to climb down the chimney taking Mogmurch with her.
“Aaiiee!” shouts Mogmurch as he’s pulled down by Reta. He is surprised to be pulled down just before throwing a bomb. He makes sure the bomb won’t go off in his hand and does his best not to fall, but doesn’t try to resist. Getting into it he quips, “Hehe! All da girlies like to pull me down!”
Poog makes for the horse corral and slams the gate behind him. Poog cowers behind the fence whimpering in fear and wets himself. ”Dawgz, horrible dawgz.” He turns and looks through the slats at the snarling dogs.
“Bastard!” Drubbus mutters to himself (although that might not mean the same thing in goblin). He squares his stance and swings his scythe at the closest dog but with a swish the scythe passes over its head.
Chuffy shrieks and charges the dogs. He swings his slicer at the nearest one. The dog yelps in pain as a gash is opened in its side.
Reta, giggling, charges. She swings at the same dog wounding it again.
“Horns!” Mogmurch shouts, frightened by what the horns may bring. Ready to run, but not alone, he tugs on Rita. “Let’s go! We can circle around ‘em and steal food from the easier farms!”
“Dat’s what I was thinking too… but we has got to kill da dogs first. Dey will be able to sniff us out!” Reta shouts back.
Poog panting behind the gate, also hears the horns an knows it will bring many long shanks to kill them. He panics and runs across the corral, heading for the woods where the females were left hiding. He screams, “Follow me we are going back to the swamp!”
Reta screeches, “Poog you ingrate! Stay here and help or we will all hunt you down like these dogs!”
Mogmurch sticks with Rita. He saves his bombs and elixirs, but draws a weapon and tries to hit a dog with his club. His strike connects but only seems to anger the dog, which turns on him.
“Da udder farmers iz gonna has more dogz anywayz!” Drubbus gripes though he also charges the dogs but his scythe fails to hit.
The first dog snaps at Mogmurch who succeeds in leaping away from it. The second dog goes for Chuffy, who is also able to dodge away.
With Chuffy and Reta slashing away with their dogslicers and Mogmurch clubbing them, and Drubbus hacking at them with his scythe the goblins finally manage to put the dogs down.
Poog keeps running for the tree line. He gathers the women folks together and says, “Longshanks are coming. We wait here for the others but be prepared to run.”
“Time to flee,” hisses Chuffy as he heads towards to tree line. He looks solemnly towards the dog carcasses saying, “Such a waste of lovely meats.”
Mogmurch was about to suggest they raid the chicken coops before they go, but instead he cuts a hunk of meat off the nearest dog. “Okay. Let’s get outa here before more of these and the longshanks show up!”
Reta also hacks off a chunk of dead guard dog and runs for the tree line.
Drubbus quickly hacks off a leg and follows the others.
Slorb is aghast when they return. “That’s all yous got! Just some hunks hof dog meat!? An’ now da longshanks iz afta us.” The horns and baying of hounds can still be heard in the distance. “Oh woe! I iz afraid dat we iz gonna af to return to da clearin. We might…” He hesitates as waves of grief and trepidation threaten to overwhelm him. “I iz afraid we might af just go to wurk. Aiii, wurk! We iz gonna af rebuild an’ chek fe ourselves until da fresh opportunity arises fe us.”