The Hunter

One day, as Chuffy is hiding among the autumn foliage of a tree in the marsh, perhaps licking his toad Fat Frog to enjoy the psychoactive effects of its toxic secretions, he sees emerging from the river three boggards. They seem to be out hunting but then stop and begin following tracks along the riverbanks. With horror, Chuffy realizes that they must be following the tracks left by Reta and other goblin hunters and that the boggards seem to be about to follow those tracks back to the new goblin village less than a mile away. Chuffy creeps past an area of dense foliage inhabited by a strange horse-like creature with burning eyes that he and the others have only caught glimpses of in the days following the building of their new village. He steels his nerves and hurries quickly past its layer hoping it will scare away the intruders. After that he leaps past some slippery rocks, swings through a thick curtain of vines, and then arrives at the final leg of the trail leading to the new village. Searching in the hollow of a rotted tree he finds the smudge pot he will need. Firing it up and releasing the smoke, Chuffy tries to slip past the narrow gap between some hedges guarded by a bees nest, but despite his efforts he is still stung by some of the annoyed bees. Still, he does get past and finally reaches the village.

Chuffy finds Drubbus in his hut making a chew toy for his new goblin puppy named Scabs. “Drubbusssss, boggardsss coming,” says Chuffy in a whispered hiss. “Me saw them from my tree spot. They be here soon. Where Reta? Where Poog? Where Mog? We need to gather and hide… Or hide then fight sneaky.”

“I dunno.” Drubbus whispers back, “But you’re right. We has to get everyone out a da village. Tell Slorb to round up da womenz and we’ll move off to a good spot. Have everyone grab some foods.”

Drubbus scratches his chin, “You check on Poog. There are sometings I just don’t wanna see, after that warn the womenz. I’ll get Mog & Slorb. Let’s get everyone together in da Village. I wanna hearz what Slorb’s wordz is. I’m thinking your right that wez has to fall back to da white tree and fight sneaky like. We ain’t gots ‘nough for tryin’ ta hold da village.”

Chuffy nods. “Okay, me warn Poog.”

Elsewhere, Reta and three goblin women are out hunting for food along the banks of the Soggy River when they hear a thrashing and crashing from the copse ahead of them. Reta motions for the others to stay where they are while she slowly sneaks up to get a better look.

To Reta’s horror, she sees that it is a troll digging up roots and putting them into a filthy sack. The troll stops, sniffs the air and then looks right at Reta’s hiding place. “Näen sinut, senkin hiipiä! Hei, tiedän!” shouts the troll as he drops his sack and charges Reta. Reta screeches and runs back in the direction of the other women intending to run through them so that maybe the troll will stop and eat them instead.

Reta’s plan seems to work. Reta zips past her comrades and makes her way through the drier patches of a muddy slog. One of the other goblin women is able to keep up, but the two others fall behind. The troll stops to swallow one of these and then chase the other.

Reta sees a bramble patch up ahead. She and the other hunters had no problem crossing it before, but now they’ll have to get through it double-time in order to completely shake the troll. Back in the muddy slog they hear another squeal of terror that is abruptly cut off, followed immediately by the crunching of bones and smacking of enormous lips. Reta and Grizella realize that they will soon be next if they can’t pick their way through the brambles fast enough. Time runs out for Grizella all too soon however, as the troll barrels through the thicket, pushing aside the thorny branches with a hardly a care as the troll’s power of regeneration quickly heals any scratch without so much as a scar or even scab. The troll’s enormous jaws reach out and pluck her off the ground, her legs kicking and thrashing out of the side of his mouth. In only a couple of bites the troll puts a stop to her thrashing and gulps her down. Then he reaches out and grabs Reta before she can scurry away.

Holding Reta out in front of his enormous and now bloody maw, the troll says to her in the Goblin tongue with a thick Giantish accent, “Eha! So you’re-a zee last of zee little-a squeekers. Yoo-a all not more-a then a mouthful und gamey besides. Maybe zere are more of yoo? Tell me now und I’ll eat y00 later. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp! Don’t tell me-a und I’ll eat yoo now!

Reta thinks for a second then screeches, “I know of better than two dirty goblins… human babies, lots of dem! And dey are with only a couple of stupid farmers. Dey chased me and my mate away but you are way stronger then us! Yooose can kill dem easy and eat all da babies yourself!”

The troll shakes Reta until she’s dizzy and fears that her head will snap off. The troll yells in her face, consequently almost causing Reta to pass out from the stench, “Yoo think I em stooped! Fermers hefe-a fire-a und fire-a arrows! If zey deedn’t ve trolls vould hefe-a oferun zeem years agoo! N,o take-a me-a to zee oozeer goblins. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Maybe-a I’ll even let yoo go. Maybe-a I’ll even joost eat a few of yoo und zee rest can live-a for as long as yoo can bring me-a food und loot!

“Okies, okies,” Reta resigns. I will take you too my mates. Der are quite a few of dem so please let me go when I get you der.”

Reta smiles evilly to herself as a thought crosses her mind. She begins to direct the troll to a known patch of quicksand in the marsh, approaching it from a side which will give him the least chance to recognize what it is before it is too late.

She tries to distract him at the appropriate time by asking him lots of questions in rapid succession. “So big troll, where do youse live? We like to live in huts on stilts above der water. Do you have problem wid water in the swamp? Is your home dry most of der time? How often do have to hunt for food… we hunt almost every day, except maybe when we had lots of luck hunting the day before, or before dat. I Killed a witch once… a really nasty one too. You ever kill a witch?…”

“Vat!? Ven did yoo ever kill a veetch?” asks the scandalized troll. Even as he asks the troll begins sinking into the mire that Reta led him into. It takes a few moments, but then the troll realizes what is happening and is now truly outraged. As he thrashes about he sinks in up to his chest. Fortunately for Reta the troll releases her as he begins trying to swim out of the muck. Unfortunately for Reta he throws her further over the quicksand path. Fortunately for Reta, as she sails through the air she is able to grab a vine hanging down from an overhanging branch. The vine swings as she catches it and she is able to let go and land on the other side of the quicksand patch to troll’s amazement, disgust, and utter fury. “Yoo little-a squeeker! I vill get yoo! Yoo better alvays be-a vatching behind yoo because-a someday I’ll be-a zere-a ven yoo are-a not looking! I’ll grind yoor bones! I’ll mince-a yoor flesh!”

Back in the goblin village, Chuffy approaches the ramshackle hut in which Poog has made his home. From within erupts a cacophony of caterwauling, crying, screaming, grunting, slapping, kicking, thrashing, and the crashing and smashing of various furnishings. This has been going on for several nights, ever since Poog shacked up with Geedra the Gruesome.

“Poog, play time is over,” says Chuffy. “Boggards coming. I barely have time to sneak back and warns you and the others. We needs to find Reta… or run.”

Poog storms out struggling to fasten his pants and shirt but you can clearly see deep scratch marks that are bleeding, “What the dog balls are you yelling about?”

Drubbus, in the meantime, finds Mogmurch and Rempty in their hut engorging themselves, with much gagging, gurgling, and slurping, upon baskets of slugs, worms, and a heady stew made of bitter roots and gourds. The pack of a half dozen goblin dogs troops in after Drubbus, for they sense that something is afoot, and they are also happy to slip into Mogmurch’s hut to beg for scraps as well.

“Pack up grubs for a day or two, we gots ta run.” Drubbus barks. “Chuffy seen Boggardz comin’ ‘n I donna tink dey forgot what weez did.”

Mogmurch doesn’t take time to give this much consideration. He looks to Rempty and says, “Quick! Grab all the food you can carry! We’re leavin’!”

Drubbus races over to Slorb’s hut to find the advisor sleeping the night away. “Slorb!” Drubbus barks, trying to jolt him from sleep. “Boggartz is comin’! Grab whatever you need for a day or two but be quick. We can’t hold da town.”

“Wot?!” cries the alarmed Slorb. “Boggards iz comin! Wait da second. If they’re followin our tracks to da village, thun they’ll just follow us whereva we go. We should set up an ambush an’ get rid hof dem.” Slorb throws on his shirt and pants and hurries out to what passes for the village square – a fire pit surrounded by rotting logs.

Poog screeches, “Lez arm dah femalez too. We can handlez dah boggards! Ambush demz.”

Mogmuch offers a counter proposal. “They won’t follow us if we run far enough. Let’s go someplace else! Far away. Where there’s food an’ not so much stuff that wants to kill us.”

“I say we stays and fights,” says Chuffy. “We can hides in the trees and make pin cushions of ‘em.”

“We’z c’n ambush ‘em.” Drubbus growls. “A half dozen of da womenz can raise a panic when da Boggartz get close. When dey rush in, we hits ‘em from behind.”

Slorb then speaks up. “Aiii, we should set up an ambush. I’ll hide up dere an’ direct da attak.” He points to a vine shrouded tree overlooking the village. Then he points to some of the goblin maidens. “Yous, yous, an’ yous, stay in da village pretendin to tend da stew ova da smokun flames pit. Run whun da boggards chek yous. Da rest hof yous hide dere, dere, dere, an’ dere an’ we’ll turn those boggards into pin cushions.” It looks like a good plan. If the goblins do chase the three goblin maidens they’ll end up in the middle of the village and from the trees and surrounding underbrush the goblins will be able to catch them in a cross fire.”

Poog hides up in a tree overlooking the village as do the others. He prepares to call upon the divine power of Zarongel so he can hurl firebolts down upon the intruders. From his hiding place he sees the three boggards cautiously approach the edge of the village in their boiled leather armor and armed with wicked looking clubs lined with alligator teeth. The toad-men are hiding behind trees and creeping behind bushes, coming in slowly to scout the village now that they have seen the huts. They see the three goblin maidens tending the fire and stew pot in the center of the village, but they also are looking up into the trees where Poog and the other goblins are hiding amidst the foliage and it is certain they can hear the growls of the goblins dogs behind the huts. It seems like they might be about to back away from the village, perhaps to go back and get reinforcements. Poog stifles a giggle and decides to wait and see if they come any closer before doing anything.

Before the boggards can make up their minds as to whether they should investigate further or go back for help, the goblin dogs rush out in a pack from behind the huts, their keen noses guiding them right towards the hidden boggards. The goblin dogs quickly surround the boggards and begin ripping into them with their sharp rat-like teeth. It is clear that within moments they will be torn apart unless they can get away from the vicious pack.

Poog chooses just that moment to hurl a firebolt down upon the closest of the boggards, singing its flesh with a sizzle and eliciting a croak of pain and fear from the frog-man.

“Yip yip! Rip rip!” Yells Mogmurch with a laugh as he watches the dogs tear up the boggards. Not wanting to waste a bomb, he tries a shot with a short bow. His arrow hits one of the boggards but does little more than scratch it.

Chuffy also looses an arrow but it only hits a tree.

The boggards all begin backing away, fending off the dogs. One after another lets loose a terrifying croaking. Within seconds Slorb, the goblin women, Poog, Mogmurch, and Drubbus are clambering out of their perches and fleeing through the underbrush. Chuffy and Drubbus are both shaken to the core.

Before Slorb can get down out of the tree he had been perched on, two arrows fly out from the shadows beyond the boggards and hit him in the throat. Slorb gurgles and then falls off the tree and through the roof of the hut below him.

Drubbus slings a stone at the boggards but it flies wide and disappears into the foliage.

Poog and Mogmurch make it to the ground and scurry away into the underbrush heading west.

Though shaken the goblin dogs continue to press their attack upon the boggards, but now the boggards are using the trees and covering each other to keep the beasts from flanking them and so none of them are bitten again.

Chuffy fires silently from his perch despite his fear of the boggards, this time wounding his target.

The boggards lay into the goblin dogs with their fanged clubs. One of them is put down with a broken leg, but the five others continue their attack.

Two more arrows, one after the other, streak out of the darkness and this time lodge themselves in Chuffy’s chest. He wheezes and then drops out of the tree and onto his head with a horrific crack as his neck breaks.

Seeing this, Drubbus decides its time to run as well. He quickly drops to the ground and uses the trunk of the tree to provide cover from the hidden sniper, and then scampers away after Poog, Mogmurch, and the others.

Elsewhere, Reta whistles a jaunty goblin tune as she heads back to the new goblin village with a sack full of troll loot taken from the troll’s cave that she bee-lined for after leaving the troll to die in the quicksand. Before she comes within sight of the village however, she hears the horrifying chorus of boggard croaking coming from that direction. With a sinking feeling she stops and listens. She can hear the snarling and yipping of goblin dogs and then pitiful howls of pain. Soon after that she hears the sound of many creatures (goblins, boggards, or something else?) heading her way through the underbrush. Reta hides in the underbrush, stashing the loot somewhere safe for her to reclaim later, and unsheathes her Gorge of Gluttons to await whatever is heading towards her. Soon enough she sees that it is Poog, Mogmurch, and Drubbus fleeing the village. They are not running together but more or less in the same direction past where Reta is hiding. In the distance she sees shadows that she assumes are the other goblins females also scurrying through the undergrowth like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Reta begins running as well, screeching to them all, “Group with me, we run together! What is chasing us?”

“No ideazz, and I dun wanna know neyether!,” Poog wheezes as he runs as fast as he can while towing his prize female by the hand.

As he runs past to get Rempty, Mogmurch answers, without stopping, “Maybe ghosts – with arrows!”

“Boggards.” Drubbus coughs out “There’s a group a dem raidin’ followed by a couple archers in hidin’ behind ‘em.”

When the goblins are all finally herded together, Reta takes them to a nearby shallow and rocky stream where she knows there are a nest of water moccasins. Reta leads the others across the stream by jumping from rock to rock. On the other side they hide among the rushes to await their pursuer with arrows drawn.

Reta is the first to see the human sized shadow moving along the other side of the stream. It is so careful and silent in its movements that Reta could almost believe it was a goblin stalker – but then she sees the ears. Worse than a longshanks it is a longears, an elf ranger come to hunt them! Even as she realizes this an arrow embeds itself in her arm and another hits the ground by her feet. Immediately, Reta slips deeper into the underbrush in an attempt to flee.

“Aaagh!” growls Mogmurch as he grabs Rempty and bolts, trying to put as many trees and as much distance between them and the elf as possible!

Poog shoots a firebolt at the elven hunter but the bolt only burns itself out in the tall reeds on the other side of the stream.

The elf hunter fires back at Poog, but both her arrows miss him as he quickly ducks beneath a nearby log. She calls out in the Goblin tongue, “Don’t think you can hide from me you rogues! Know that you have incurred the wrath of Shalelu Andosana! Yes, the famous ranger and goblin hunter! Your depredations are at an end! Say your final prayers and know that before this night is over I will track each and every one of you down and insure that you trouble the good people of Sandpoint no longer!”

Reta thinks, Pompous ruddy elven bitch, and continues to scurry away.

Still running, Mogmurch grunts, “Awww… it speaks normal! Dumb longears!”

Drubbus casts the entangle spell, but Shalelu easily slips past the reeds before they can wrap around her. She is forced to back away from the effected area. Drubbus doesn’t wait for her to return but runs off after Mogmurch and Reta.

Poog, seeing that he is the last on the stream banks also turns and flees.

The remaining goblin females, seeing that their leaders are fleeing and that the elf hunter is momentarily forced away from the stream take the opportunity to run after Reta and Mogmurch.

In his mutated bestial form, Mogmurch easily leaps across the slippery rocks leading down to one of the branches of the Soggy River. Rempty is unable to keep up with him as she takes more cautious hops from rock to rock down to the bank of the river. In fact, Mogmurch even overtakes Reta, but the latter is right on his tail. Poog and Drubbus soon catches up to her and together all make it to the banks of the Soggy River. Behind them they can hear the goblin women cursing and stumbling on the rocks.

The trouble now becomes finding a ford shallow enough for goblins to cross. In their typically uncoordinated way, the goblins scatter along the bank in their efforts to find a crossing. Reta and Drubbus find it first and get across the river to a steep rise beyond, atop of which is the cliff they will have to climb to get up to the Bleaklow Moor, avoided by the humans as it is said to be ghoul haunted. Mogmurch finds the ford just a moment later. Poog is startled to see the other three on the far bank of the river. Seeing where they must have crossed, he heads quickly for it. However, before he can cross he sees Rempty shot down by an elven arrow. Atop a large rock overlooking the river he sees the shadow of the elf hunter, who seems to be taking her time picking off one straggling goblin female after another. After shooting seven, the elf’s quiver is empty, so she draws her shortsword to kill the last two. As she is busy running those two down, Poog finally finds and crosses the shallows of the river. Looking back, he sees that the elf hunter has seen him, but is nevertheless taking her time recovering arrows in order to continue the hunt.

Up ahead, Reta, Drubbus, and Mogmurch hike up the rise and begin climbing up the cliff to reach the stony ground of Bleaklow Moor where hopefully even an elven hunter will not be able to track them. Drubbus feels especially safe since he has cast a spell to cover his tracks. He sniffs and sheds a tear or two for Scabs who he had to leave behind at the base of the cliff. Reta and Drubbus reach the top first and look down at Mogmurch who, a weakling after all, is unable to haul himself up the cliff.

Reta says nonchalantly to Drubbus, “Lets go,” and begins to lead them across the Bleaklow Moor.

Poog finally reaches and cliff and tries to help Mogmurch by casting guidance on him time after time, but Mogmurch sees that even with that help it will take too long for him to get up the cliff. Having no other options Mogmurch picks up Scabs, the goblin pup (thinking he might make a good snack later – if they live long enough) and hoofs it along the cliff, as fast as possible. He knows he needs to get someplace rocky so he can’t be tracked.  As he runs, he imagines meeting up with the others and how he’ll slit Rita’s throat as she sleeps – and maybe not just hers! He and Poog run along the base of the cliff, hoping to find the abandoned Old Fish Trail that leads up a less steep incline to the top of the cliff. Drubbus’ goblin puppy, Scabs, runs along beside them. Fortunately they find the overgrown trail and make their way to the top. Then it is just a matter of backtracking to where the Reta and Drubbus climbed up and letting Scabs sniff them out.

The Troll Cave

Fortunately for the goblins the boggards were not able to find them during the day, when they all lay sleeping with no guard set as Slorb had simply smoked himself into a stupor and then fallen asleep along with the others. It is frighteningly evident, however, that the boggards of Brinestump Marsh are on the warpath and calling to each other in their search for the goblins that raided their muddy homes. Like giant bullfrongs, the boggard’s croaking and trilling fills the marsh.

Gwa… Gwa… Gwa… Gwa…

Kero kero kero kero

Gwa… Gwa… Gwa…

Slorb whines to the others, “We cannot stay in da swamp! We must hide. We must chek da fresh turf where we can be safe. We should go to da caverns. Not da ones wiv da cursed warriors, but uva caverns. Or else we should leave da swamp an’ check some isolated animal shack. We could take hit ova an’ stay dere fe a time.”

Reta, who is fresh after not smoking any of the leaf and having a good night’s sleep, screeches, “Everyone up now! We move to the caverns and setup home there. We leave in 10 minutes, Lets go!”

Chuffy slowly sits up and rubs his eyes. “Night already?” He blows his nose into his sleeve then makes his way towards Reta.

Poog grabs two of the goblin women and skeedaddles.

Mogmurch gets up slowly and helps his mate up, then follows Reta (glaring at her back and wishing bad things upon her).

Before leaving for the caves along the southern cliff, Poog heals Reta, Drubbus, and Chuffy so they will all have a better chance of surviving whatever fights might await them. He even has to begrudgingly use up a charge from his wand of healing to do this, as Zarongel is stingy in passing on to his devotees the power to heal. Healing magic is for lesser gods, gods of longshanks (humans) and longears (elves).

By midnight they reach the cliffs and find a likely cave. It seems to be empty but a foul stench of rotting fish, pee, crap, and some other unnamable aroma emanates from it to the goblin’s delight. The entrance is fairly narrow, though a veritable grand hall to the goblins, but it seems to open up into a larger cavern.  Mogmurch and Drubbus take a few more sniffs, and then realize that the pungent stench is that of a troll, and one that may still be around.

“Well, dats dat.” Drubbus whispers “Time to get movin.”

Reta grins wide then leads them inside to look for the troll.

Drubbus makes the Druidic sign for blessing the dead and backs away.

Reta looks back sharply at Drubbus and motions for him to follow her.

“Yeah Drubby,” says Poog. “You am Retaz go first.”

Mogmurch watches them go in, but doesn’t walk away himself.  He stands where he was, waiting to hear the chomping sounds from within as Reta and Drubbus get eaten by the troll. As he pictures what’s about to happen, it occurs to him that maybe a big, strong troll could be a good ally. What doesn’t occur to him is how to make that happen without getting eaten.

“Ah… yeah. This is a troll cave,” says Mogmurch. “We ain’t even ready to scrub a troll. Let’s go.”

“Me don’t like this one bit,” whines Chuffy. “Why not look for empty cave?”

Reta stops, turns and gives them all a sharp look. “Any of youz not come with me will be my offering to our new friend. Slorb, wait outside wit da others. Chuffy, Mogmurch, Drubbus, youz come wit me. Now!”

Poog obsequiously says, “Retaz Ima cominz and havez yuz back!”

Chuffy shrugs and follows after Reta. “I wish I still had my ladder and bullhorn,” he mumbles.

“Okay, okay…” replies Mogmurch. “Whatever you yell, Reta. I’m comin’ cuz I don’t wanna be an offering.” And he does come – but he’s careful to let the others go in first.

Howz she gonna feed me ta da troll if shez ded? Drubbus wonders to himself. He follows, but he’s definitely going last and not very closely at that.

Mogmurch pushes the others in front of him. “You hear ‘er! Get going!”

As Slorb and the women slink back to the underbrush, Mogmurch, Drubbus, and Poog all scramble to be last into the cave, each eyeing the others and slowing their pace until at last they are deadlocked into a standstill at the cave entrance. Only Chuffy, dogslicer in hand, is right at Reta’s back as she explores the cave and is relieved to hear nothing and no one. Drubbus sees Chuffy readying his weapon and does likewise, shifting his scythe to a ready position. Wondering why he is being so stupid, he moves ahead of the others while trying to maintain stealth.

Reta continues forward, inspecting the cave carefully. She is calm, for a goblin, and looks around with eyes wide open. She sees that the bigger cave is 30’ by 40’ large. It could accommodate all the goblins, though it might be a little too cozy in the long term – esp. if they had to share it with a troll, assuming they could even convince the troll to let them stay. The troll’s nest is of course a filthy mass of weeds and rotting blankets (stolen of course). Strewn about the cavern are bones and skins of various animals and probably missing travelers. Among this mess can be seen coins of various types, a few potions, a light hammer, and to the goblin’s horror a number of scrolls containing the cursed writings of the longshanks.

To Reta, seeing that the cave is empty causes more fear than if it were filled by the troll. She pauses, thinking what to do next. One thing for certain though, the troll may return at any minute. “Chuffy, Mogmurch… Go guard the entrance. Yell in here if da Troll is coming.” She then begins collecting as much ‘treasure’ as she can quickly (potions, the hammer, coins…). “Da rest of you, help me do this quickly. New plan, we are getting out of here.”

As Chuffy and Mogmurch check outside, they hear the heavy stomping of a large creature as it crashes the underbrush off in the distance. The troll is already on its way! They both make a run for it along with Slorb and the women.

Poog is too scared to grab anything and wants to leave right away. “Weez needz to leavez now!!!” he squeals.

Drubbus takes the time to grab the two closest available potions and then zips out of the cave.

Reta lets them all get out before her, picking up the hammer and a potion on the way out.

All of the goblins make it into hiding among the rocks and underbrush surrounding the cave before the troll comes into sight. The half-ton mossy green monstrosity lurches out of the treeline and seems to be singing something in its deep gravelly voice in the language of the giants. It carries a mangled deer over its left shoulder.

Bland skuggor rider ett odjur.

Som ett svart träd.

Griper hård på en mäktig hammare.

Ut för svaga Iomeden blod.

TROLLHAMMAREN!

TROLLHAMMAREN!

Trollhammaren sveper igen!

Hugga ned, broder igen!

Hör det sista ropet -

Trollhammaren är här!

TROLLHAMMAREN!

Han är inte en människa.

Inte bräcklig och svag som dig.

Du ska vara maktlös.

Inga ögon ser din ätt.

TROLLHAMMAREN!

TROLLHAMMAREN!

Sedan mörkret övertog.

Räds den frostens kalla fingrar.

Som griper tag och får leva

Under kommande vinternatt.

TROLLHAMMAREN!

TROLLHAMMAREN!

TROLLHAMMAREN!

The troll stops at the entrance to his cave for a moment and stops singing. He sniffs the air, looks around, and then charges into his cave. After a few moments a horrendous roar issues from the cave and the troll charges out again howling, presumably, for the blood of the thieves whose scent lingers so strongly in his lair and who took off with his hammer and three of his potions. The goblins, meanwhile, have scrambled away into the darkness and slipped quietly across a nearby stream and so the troll is unable follow their scent. He smashes his fists into the ground in helpless rage and stomps up and down shaking the earth, but after awhile he lets forth a final wail of anguish and returns to his cave, shoulders slumped in defeat.

Once they are safely across the river Reta gathers them around. “Drubbus, yous check these trolly things. Whats they do? The rest of ya listens up. We gonna leave da swamp and find a nice fat hoomun farm wit da animals dens. We is gonna slip in at night all quiets like and kill da hoomuns. Den da farm and animals den is ours. And don’t yoose worry about da horses. I kills dem wit dis!”  She holds up the magical dogslicer, ‘Gorge of Gluttons’, and growls (though it sounds much more like an owl’s screech).

“Well,” Drubbus says, “Dat was stupid, but profitable.” He grins as he eyes his potions. He casts detect magic on them. He finds that the hammer, while very well made and of a size for longshanks and not goblins is not magical. Of the two potions he grabbed, one seems to have the power to heighten one’s senses for a time, while the other makes the imbiber invisible. The potion Reta grabbed enables the consumer to feel as though they were still enjoying a cool shade even while under a hot sun.

“Da hammer’s just a hammer. Nice job, smarty pants. Grabbed a hammer that’s too big for ya ta swing. Has a familiar ring, don’t it?” Drubbus whines. “Your potion is stupid too. If you drink it, it’ll feel like a cool shady day, even in da steamy heat. Whoop de doo. I got da good stuffs! Dis one’ll make me invisible and d’is one will make me all sharp eyed and stuff. Ha ha!”

Poog looks at the invisibility potion slyly and starts to move closer to Drubbus.

Rage boils in Reta’s eyes and she chucks the hammer at Drubbus, with intent to kill him.

Mogmurch, about to try to snatch away the invisibility potion, instead jumps back to stay clear of the flying hammer, letting out an “Eep!” in alarm.

Drubbus tries to pull Poog into the path of the hammer but he easily jumps away. The hammer sails over both their heads.

Reta growls, “Next time I kill you Drubbus. You will not speak to me that way, or you die. Now tell me exactly what you discovered, or you die!”

“I tole you what I found!” Drubbus screams. “I didn’t pull nuttin’. The potion you grabbed is just to keep cool ‘n comfy. Maybe you should drink it now!” Taking a breath he says, “My potions are great. I can turn invisible and I can gets da eyes ‘n ears of a fox! I dunno how long, doh.” He sounds a bit disappointed at that. Glancing over at the hammer, “And I think I said something about that stupid hammer being too big for goblinz.” He smirks.

Reta snarls then sheaths her wicked weapon. Forcing a lopsided smile that causes one eye to twitch she gestures with her finger for Drubbus to approach her. “Come here Drubbus, show me the juice which makes ya disappear.”

Drubbus takes a few steps forward. He takes the invisibility potion out and holds it up. He gives Reeta a hard look. “Here ya goes. Now whenz ya hold it, get a good grip. Really wrap your paw ’round it or it’ll slip away. Don’t bear down to hard though, or yull smash it all to pieces.”

Reta looks at Drubbus quizzically, not fully trusting him, but takes the potion as he suggests. She then carefully hands it to Chuffy saying, “Youz will use dis to gets inside da hooman house and unlocks da door fer us.”

A grin breaks across Chuffy’s face as he takes hold of the potion. He looks off in deep thought for just a moment, then back towards Reta and Drubbus with a nod.

Turning back to Drubbus, Reta hands him the potion she grabbed from the Troll’s treasure without a word and turns away.

Poog pouts a bit having wanted to taste the potion himself.  He obsequiously says, “Yeaz Reta dat is great ideaz!”

Drubbus turns to Chuffy and hands him the potion of perception. “Here, scoutin’s about seein’ n hearin’ too. Hold em til ya really need em. No clue howz long dey lasts.”

Reta asks Slorb, “Where is a farm, far away from da other hoomuns? Tell me!”

Poog giggles wildly, “Yez weez killz dem all!”

Mogmurch licks his lips, thinking of all the tasty animals he’ll eat, and maybe even a tender baby human, too!

“Dunno if I likes this.” Drubbus grumbles. “Soldiers can become farmers… maybe our farmer has a bright sword? Maybe if the farmer don’t show up in town, the guard comes out to checks on himz. This may work out, like burgl’in a troll cave… then agin… it mayn’t.” Drubbus uncurls from his customary slouch, rising to his full height and sets his overbite.

Reta slaps him hard and screeches, “Stops making trouble! We will creep in at night and kill da farmer and eats his children.”  Then looking at Slorb she says, “Show us where da farm is!”

“Yeah!  Hehehe!” laughs Mogmurch evilly.

Drubbus rubs at the slap. Hopes da stoopid hammer’s cursed, stoopid female.

Poog giggles and kicks Drubbus in the rear end. “Yeah Drubbie, shuts the hells up, ya big chicken.”

Drubbus says some ancient words and a 5-gallon glob of water appears over Poog’s head. In the next instant it drops down on him.

Poog splutters and rubs vigorously at his face he then shrieking dives onto Drubbus and starts wrestling with him.

“Get ‘im! Get ‘im!” Mogmurch cheers to neither in particular. He’s happy to watch the fight regardless of who wins.

As Poog and Drubbus roll around in the dirt, Slorb rubs his chin and thinks. “Da longshanks farms iz all ova on da uva side hof da road dat runs along da swamp. all we af do iz keep walkin dat way.” Slorb points east out of the swamp.

Finally Drubbus grabs Poog by the balls and gives them a ferocious twist. Poog grabs his genitals with a wail and rolls around on the ground screaming.  Then gets up and dusts himself off as if nothing happened. “Youz a dirty fighta Drubby but plenty funny!”

Don’t Boggard That Flayleaf My Friend

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.

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.

Jethrik

Jethrik in costume for his favorite role, the Prince of Cats

When is a performer “on” and when is his or her real personality shining through the performance? This perennial question has caused confusion and even distrust toward actors, singers, acrobats and all manner of people who make their living through the delight of others.

Jethrik rarely considers the question himself. Moreover, as a member of the gnome race, he is confounded by the human obsession with it. Illusion is a “natural” part of the gnome psyche, outlook and perhaps even physiology. Isn’t performance what a performer is? Isn’t imagination part of reality? Where are these divisions that humans insist exist?

If you ask, a slight shrug is all you are likely to get from Jethrik. He lacks any sort of formal education or religious instruction. In fact, his training in his given profession; comedian and oratory is rather spotty as well. His natural gifts of curiosity, insight, humor and powerful personality have served instead. His past is a collection of stories and jokes which may be about himself or things he picked up along the way. His indifference over accuracy and authorship is as pronounced as over his concern for the boundaries of reality.

Questions of his past, age and experiences are quickly answered. However, the responses are always one part truth, one part what he thinks the questioner wants and the rest a good story. The humans with whom he has travelled and lived have heard various answers ranging from his ouster from his royal past centuries ago to a hard scrabble past and a life no longer than that of a human’s. The more observant note that he appears to be a young adult and does not appear to have any professional skills. Further it’s noted that he rarely speaks, even to himself or when surprised, in gnomish. Some disapprove of his morality and lack of discipline (particularly with regard to money). However, none can criticize his manners or dress.

Physically, Jethrik appears to be a handsome, if unusual person. Standing just 4’6” tall and weighing just 42 pounds he is not physically imposing! Indeed, his expression and manner is one of delight and curiosity concerning all things around him, particularly people and animals. Hints of his being an adventurer break through in his bearing and show in his equipment, however he does his best to mitigate this. His chain shirt is worn under his adventurer’s outfit and a light rapier and dagger are worn casually when in town. On the road he will add his pack, bow, quiver and shield, but even these are adorned with scarves and colors.

Wide eyes are his prominent facial feature, one is brown and one blue. They peek up through tufts of blonde hair without malice or artifice. A small nose is perched above a mouth quick to break into an infectious grin.

Zeyala Nawari

Zeyala Nawari did not choose her path. At an early age she showed signs of a natural healer. When her eyesight began to fail at only 12 years, her family remarked how the warmth from her touch was both soothing and calming.

Although devout, Zeyala was not interested in a life spent in a convent. Her father felt it would be best, but it was her mother that realized Zeyala was able to heal without prayer or divine implement, it was an inherent ability. Zeyala regarded her ability as a curse. First it was her sight, then it was her freedom. It seemed as if her life had been taken away from her. While her friends were out playing, she was forced to stay at home where the sick and stricken would come for Zeyala to take away their pain. She would scream in frustration every time her ability was referred to as a gift.

Despite her worsening vision, Zeyala was determined to express her independence. Her family wanted to keep her in the home, away from the dangers of the world. Zeyala made other plans. She began exploring the world around her. With a combination of repeating her steps with what little sight she retained, she was able to memorize the layout of the town. Even when walking through the market, she quickly learned which vendors ran each of the various stalls. She began compensating with her other senses, which helps her to identify friend from foe, truth from falsehoods.

While in her early teens, Zeyala was accosted by a trio of drunken wharf rats. She tried her best to ignore the indecent propositions flung at her. However, when she could no longer stand it, she uttered a curse at one of them. Because of her poor vision, she was unable to see the attack coming. Zeyala was struck from behind and knocked to the ground, then kicked repeatedly. The trio fled when they heard the sounds of people approaching. It was Koya who saved Zeyala and cured her wounds. From then on, Koya become both hero and mentor to Zeyala. It was also at that moment that Zeyala saw her powers as the gift they truly are.

Zeyala is Varisian through and through. She has dark hair and olive skin, and stands at 5’4″. Her eye had been very dark, but have slowly begun to cloud over. However, they are still vibrant. Regardless of her particular outfit, she always accents her attire with a violet scarf, though lately, she has begun to favor an orange one as well, indicating her desire for adventure. Zeyala also has pale purple tattoos that are knife blades in appearance. She normally wears clothing that show off the ones on her shoulders, arms, midriff, and legs. Although not common in Varisia, Zeyala is devoted to Pharasma. Her powers as a healer have earned her a certain amount of respect within the land.

Now as a young woman of 24, Zeyala continues to fulfill the role of an apprentice healer in Sandpoint, though it is not uncommon to see her walking through the market or enjoying an ale and clay pipe at the Rusty Dragon. Lately though, she has become restless and longs to travel and discover more of the world around her.

The Heroic (?) Rescue

After their triumphant return from the shipwreck with the chest full of treasure and fireworks, Chief Gutwad is so pleased he even lets Poog, Reta, Mogmurch, Chuffy, and Drubbus keep the loaned items they won from the dares, as well as the unused fireworks they were given before to accomplish their task. There is much rejoicing over the death of Vorka, and much laughter and “We told him so-s” in regard to Scribbleface. The five goblins are all regarded as big damn heroes. His Mighty Girthness Chief Rendwattle Gutwad decides right then and there to wed his daughter – the fearsomely corpulent and ferociously lusty Gupy Wartbits – to Drubbus. The other four goblins are given prominent tribal positions: Mogmurch becomes Master of the Pig Pit, Poog becomes the Boss of Big Fire, Chuffy becomes the Head Village Watcher, Reta becomes the Overseer of Village Stabbings. The goblins then have yet another a drunken debauch.

The weeks that follow prove to be the most fun the Licktoad tribe has ever had. More fireworks are found and retrieved, and the goblins go on a rampage of terror throughout the farmlands and up and down the Lost Coast Road. They don’t actually get much loot, but many horses are scared witless or even killed, and many humans are chased away with goblin arrows in their behinds. New songs are made. One night, the goblins even manage to capture an elf! In great anticipation, the elf is stripped, hogtied, and carried back to the village on a pole. His book (horrors!) is given to Slorb for safekeeping until the next night when Poog, the Boss of Big Fire, will preside over the sacrifice of both book and elf to the flames for the glory of Zarongel, the sacred god of dog-killing, fire, and most holy mounted combat.

Unfortunately, something goes terribly wrong the evening before the sacrifice. There is much shouting and yelling and when it dies down, the five heroes (who managed to sleep through the whole thing) are called in to see Chief Gutwad. They are ushered in to see the chief by Gronky. Where could Slorb be they wonder?

Chief Gutwad whispers to Gronky for a long time, and then in his deep voice, Gronky relates to them their new mission. “Chief Gutwad says that a most terrible thing has happened. You must rectify it! The sacrifice has escaped, and took the book with him! You are probably wondering where Slorb is. Well, the sacrificial elf took him too! Chief Gutwad, in his infinite wisdom, has already tracked them out of the swamp, for Chief Gutwad can track a single flea through all of Brinestump if he wishes. The Chief saw that the longshanks took Slorb back to their village. You must get him back. Long ago our spies saw that there is a large fortress in the center of their town where they lock their own up. Maybe Slorb will be locked up there too. You must get him back before he tells the longshanks how to find us and they come and take away our fireworks. Go! Go to the longshank village and rescue our dear brother Slorb. And if you see the elf, stab him. Stab him many times and set fires wherever you can before you leave. Let that be our sacrifice to Zarongel. Goblin dogs have been prepared for you. They are by the village gate. Ride! Ride for the glory of the Licktoads! Make the longears pay, make the longshanks pay! Make them all pay! Ride!”

The ride on the goblin dogs doesn’t take too long. They reach the outskirts of Sandpoint, close enough to see the streetlamps and the lights in the taverns. They know they must beware of any dogs. Having come up the Lost Coast Road they see that the bridge over the Turandorok River is the closest way into town.

A short distance down the road from the first bridge Reta stops and screeches to the others, “We cross the bridge and ride by the docks, then around the outskirts to the back of the fortress. Nobody sees us coming that way!”

“Okay, we do that.” Drubbus agrees wondering how the fireworks and setting homes ablaze could be worked into the plan.

“Look at where the trees grow up around the wall. Stupid humans give us a place to sneak in! We would even be close to the big lock up fortress thing.” Drubbus is quiet after that. All that thinking is taxing on his goblin mind.

“Dummies!” curses Mogmurch in a whisper. “We just need to ride in fast. And we’ll need our doggies to get out fast again after the fires are set. Smash and grab. And burn. And… and stab the pointy-eared longshanks. Then leave while the smoke rises thick.”

Poog giggles, “Burn baby burn!”

“Maybe we split up,” says Chuffy. “Light off fireworks by one gate and let menfolk all go and run to see what’s happening. Then we come running in and catch them by surprise from behind.”

“Yeees, let’s draw them away from Slorb,” Mogmurch agrees, “but then let’s run around them to get Slorb. Then we light fires as we go out, eh?”

Reta lets out a quick heavy breath in exasperation, “No, we should stick together. We is mighty but we is small and better in numbers. We stick together. Chuffy, you go alone and light your fires for distraction. Just don’t get caught and don’t get dead!”

“Yez weza stickz togetha,” squeals Poog. “Splittin’ up getza all dead.”

“Me counts to 500 then me lights fireworks,” says Chuffy.  ”Sounds good?” He waits for a response from the others, and then asks, “Where me go after fireworks go bang?”

Without bothering to give Chuffy a response, Reta leads the rest of the goblins across the North Bridge sneakily.

Poog stays on his goblin dog. He is laughing wildly as he lights and casts firecrackers to each side along the way.

Reta slaps the fire parchment from Poog’s hands. “Quiet Dummy! Let them hear us on our way out after we have Slorb. We fires the place up on the way out! Otherwise we dies!”

Poog pouts at Reta’s discipline, but then shrugs, “Okay Reta, yooza right.”

Mogmurch stays on his goblin dog, riding quickly through town behind Reta.

Drubbus also keeps on his goblin dog following the others, but trying not to be last.

Reta leads them on their dogs up Undercliff Way then onto High Street to Tower Street to the front of the big fort thingy. On several streets lanterns have been hung from poles or the eaves of buildings, but there are many streets that are not lit and plenty of shadows for the goblin dogs and their riders to keep to. Unfortunately, Poog’s two expended paper candles seem to have woken up every guard animal in Sandpoint and the entire town soon resounds with the barking of dogs and the honking of geese. Then, as they come in sight of the Sandpoint Garrison, a series of explosions and lights, horses crying and shouting can be heard coming from down by the South Bridge.

Chuffy counts for as long as he can stand and then, after leaving his dog in among the trees near the South Bridge, he creeps across it. Seeing the sign of the trampled goblin outside the Goblin Squash Stables and hearing the horses within, it become obvious to him where to strike first. He looks to his Personal Very Useful Robe That Is Useful and takes off the ladder patch. He sets it against the building from the alley side and clambers up to the roof. There he takes a quick look around and finds an opening to the stables within, probably for loading grain. He throws a couple of paper candles into the stables and chortles gleefully as the horses start to panic, screaming in terror and kicking at their stalls. Across the city he hears the barking of dogs and the honking of geese adding to the din. Quickly he strikes one of his tindertwigs and rushes to the main street to see if any longshanks gather to investigate. As it happens, there is an inn right next door to the stables. As a mob of humans rush out into the street, Chuffy uses his tindertwig to light his skyrocket and aims it right at the longshanks, ignoring the burning of the sparks on his arm. The rocket works better than he had dreamed, exploding into the midst of them. Chuffy’s heart soars to hear the cries of panic and anguish from below.

Chuffy backs away from the edge of the roof and lights a Desnan candle. He then aims it at the roof of the inn next door. The first candle is launched at it when he hears noise on the ladder behind him. He turns, incidentally pointing the Desnan candle at the newcomer, to see a gnome poking his head up over the top of the ladder. Chuffy drops the candle and climbs down from the roof at the back end of the stables in order to make his way to the riverbank. Behind him the Desnan candle rolls down the roof and onto Market Street, spitting out sparks, smoke, and more fireballs on the way down. Chuffy clambers down the side of the stables like a spider thanks to his magic ring. In the alley at the bottom the darkness is thick and impenetrable, and he easily slips past the gnome and the human, and gets back to the riverbank. At the bridge things get a little tricky since a bucket brigade has started to put out the fires he started. Still, it is not a solid line of longshanks, and while they are distracted hauling buckets he gets by them as well and scampers across the bridge and back to his goblin dog among the trees on the other side.

In the shadows of the large stone building across the street from the garrison, the other four goblins hear an even louder explosion from the southern part of town, followed by cries of pain and dismay from humans. Chuffy must have used his skyrocket! Sorely disappointed to have missed whatever heinous deed Chuffy just perpetrated, the heroes of Brinestump nevertheless force themselves with a mighty effort to focus on the task at hand. Across the street the door to the garrison swings open and three longshank warriors rush out and head down the street. The door is then pulled shut. So there is at least one warrior left behind. The garrison is tall, but climbable, and they can see that there is a chimney on top and some kind of wooden structure on the roof. There are windows, but they are very narrow, too narrow even for goblins.

Reta smiles, dismounts, and gives the ‘follow me’ hand wave as she approaches this front door. She then knocks.

Poog follows Reta and stands out of the line of sight against the wall next to the door with both hands pressed firmly to his mouth trying to control his giggles, nothing comes out but a strange muffled breathy laugh, “Hethsch, hethsch, hethsch…”

Reta quietly says, “Shhhh!” but then starts to giggle herself.

Mogmurch had concocted a potion to make him cat-like again. Giving his toad Amphibier a quick lick for good luck, he tosses the potion down his throat. A quick dash into the shadows along the garrison wall, and he starts climbing, making for the wooden structure at the top.

“Hey sheriff, back so soon? What’d you forget… Aagh” says the member of the watch as he opens the door and Reta tries to stab him. Fortunately for him, the Gorge of Gluttons fails to cut through the sleeve of his chainmail shirt.

Mogmurch screeches at the watchman as he leaps upon him from the wall! “YAAAAaaagghhh!”

“Aaaahhhh!” The watchman screams again and skips back away from the door. Mogmurch falls stomach first and spread-eagle but then bounces into the watchman and drives him even further into the garrison hall. Before he can regain his bearing he has to fling his arms up to protect his face from one of Poog’s fire bolts. “Crap on a stick!” he yelps. Finally he rolls to a stop and starts trying to climb to his feet.

Drubbus grabs the door and make sure no other longshanks pull it shut.

“Die, you little roach, die!” shouts the watchman as he strikes Mogmurch with his sword.

Reta charges in over Mogmurch to get behind the longshanks and strike. The watchman’s sword goes right over Reta’s head as she runs past him. She can feel the whoosh of it against her bridal veil.

With the watchman distracted by Reta, Mogmurch is able to get to his feet and stumble out the door, trailing blood, desperate to get out of reach of the longshank’s sword. “Aiee Aiee Aiee! Help help help!”

Safely outside, Mogmurch drinks his healing extract, swallowing quickly so he can get back into the chaos. Giving forth a satisfied belch, he looks around and sees a street lantern he can use to light some fireworks, eagerly hoping to start setting things ablaze.

Poog casts fire bolt out of his right hand into the long shank’s face, “Eatz dis yooz big ugly!”

From the doorway, Drubbus fires two stones from his sling. Both stones hit the beleaguered watchman in the forehead. With a stunned look on his face he staggers over to a door to the left of the hall facing in yelling, “Help! Vachedi! Help! Invaders!”

Reta cackles and brutally silences the watchman with the Gorge of Gluttons.

At just that moment two things happen. From behind the door they hear someone yelling, “Eugini! What’s going on? Hang on! I’ll be right there!” And over by the entrance Mangy, Drubbus’ pet goblin dog (not the one he was riding) comes over and starts yipping at him.

Drubbus looks outside or wherever it is that Mangy is leading him. Mangy seems to be indicating that something is going on to the south of the garrison. Drubbus hears the yelping of the goblin dogs from that direction but they are receding further south. It would seem that the goblin dogs are either chasing something (or someone) or being chased. Though their yelps sound more like the ones they make when they are excited and have fresh prey in sight. Hopefully they will catch their meal and be back in time for the getaway. Otherwise, Drubbus and his companions will have to sneak out on their own.

Inside the garrison, the inner door bangs open and the goblins are confronted by a huge brutish Shoanti warrior in a breastplate and wielding a huge two-handed flail. “What the devils!?” He shouts. Then his eyes grow wide as he sees the watchman sprawled on the floor in the middle of a growing pool of blood. “By Gorum, I couldn’t save Eugini, but I will avenge him!” The Shoanti jailer’s face reddens, his nose flares, his lips curl back from his teeth, and he begins swinging the flail around his head as he steps into the room to engage the goblins.

Poog starts casting  fire bolts as fast as he can. The first hits the jailer but doesn’t seem to faze him in the least, though it clearly leaves a burn. He advances on Reta, who fortunately for her leaps out of the way. The heavy steel balls actually break the stone flagging of the floor and raise a small cloud of dust. The goblins realize that if the jailer hits them they will be pulverized.

Stupid Reta is in the way so Mogmurch can’t bomb or fire at the longshank! Instead of a vial of fire, he throws his tanglefoot bag at the big nasty, intending to gunk him up enough for everyone to swarm him. The bag is thrown too far, however, and explodes on the ground past both the longshanks and Reta. Then he gives a quick look around. Where could Slorb be? he wonders. If we can grab Slorb, we can run away, setting fires as we go!

Reta does her best to keep out of the way of the flail and retreats to the far side of the chamber.

Another of Poog’s fire bolts zips past the jailer’s head and sets fire to the tapestry on the wall behind him.

The jailer charges the door to strike Poog before he can fire any more of his fire bolts at him. With one swing of his flail he launches Poog into the street where he falls broken like a limp green rag doll.

Mogmurch backpedals away from the door and across the street, simultaneously lighting his skyrocket by casting a vial of alchemist fire onto the street and lighting the fuse from the resulting blaze.

Reta takes the chance to zip back across the chamber behind the jailer’s back and through the door that he came out of.

Drubbus sees the wild Shotani barbarian in the doorway about to come out after Mogmurch. He quickly casts entangle so that the weeds growing around the front of the garrison might at least delay him. The weeds do in fact stretch out and wrap themselves around the Shoanti, trapping him within the doorway. Fortunately, there are no weeds among the cobblestones in the street where Drubbus and Mogmurch are standing, and where Poog lays dying. The Shoanti strains against the weeds, but they are thick and resist his rage-enhanced efforts. He screams and curses at the goblins in an incoherent frenzy.

Mogmurch’s skyrocket, in the meantime had been shooting forth sparks and smoke. It launches itself at the doorway with a loud roar and a trail of thick smoke. It hits the raving Shoanti and blasts him back into the chamber where he falls howling in pain and fury as he rolls around trying to put out the fire on his chest and blinking his eyes trying to see again.

Reta meanwhile finds a stairwell receding down into the dungeons beneath the garrison. Before she can get far down them, however, a familiar high-pitched, nasal voice issues from below. “Reta, is that you? Well, then I have you to thank for giving me a chance to pick the lock.” Slorb rounds the corner (which he had been peeking around). He puts a lock-pick back into a hidden seam of his long black frilly glamrockin coat and says, “I thought that big doofus would never leave.” Reta and Slorb then hear the roar and explosion of the rocket from the chamber above. Bright multi-colored lights flare up at the top of the stairs and then slowly fade, accompanied by the howling of the barbarian. “I think we’d best not linger,” observes Slorb.

Outside, Drubbus rushes to Poog’s side and casts another spell to stabilize him.

Reta dumps a vial down Poog’s throat. Then realizing it was the human perfume, she quickly follows it with her healing potion.

Poog starts to stir and sputter, “Whah.. Whaz … Hhmmmm… Eew! Yuckie! Reta whatchaz give me? Itza dizguzting!”

“Let’s sneak away,” Drubbus suggests, “We can’t risk getting caught with Slorb.”

“Yeah! Sneak away, and let’s light things on fire as we go!” whispers Mogmurch, readying another firework.

Revived, Poog is still badly hurt with broken ribs, but he is able to follow them now into the covering darkness of the alleyways. When they are safely away from the now burning garrison, he takes his wand out and rubs it back and forth quickly then says, “Feelz good, healz good, wishah could dooz mysef goods.” Then he giggles as his breath smells funny, he leans into Reta and says with a great breathy exhalation, “Howz-ya doo-ingz Reta?”

Mogmurch laughs and waves his hand in front of his nose, as if warding off the “bad” smell of the perfume.

Liking the smell of the perfume, Reta leans in close to Poog, “Mmmmm, I like that… Wait, we needz ta get out-a-here!” She pushes him away and leads the group across the North Bridge and back down the Lost Coast road, secretly hoping to find Chuffy but outwardly showing no care.

Before crossing the bridge, Poog pauses to light his entire batch of fireworks and toss them onto as many buildings as he can before turning and fleeing as fast as his his little flappy goblin feet can run!

Mogmurch pauses long enough to light up both his Desnan candles. One in each hand, he fires them at the thatched roofs, trying to set them aflame and singing:

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.

Since no pursuit is evident when the candles are done, he follows them up with his bombs, expending his daily allotment to wreak more havoc and set more fires. Then he hustles to catch up with the others.

Reta, Poog, Mogmurch, Drubbus, and Slorb all make it back to the South Bridge and with the help of Mangy and Chuffy’s goblin dog they manage to sniff each other out and all meet up again in the woods. Then they have to walk back to the Brinestump Marsh and the Licktoad Village. So the story closes (for the present) on the five heroes of Brinestump.

Quest for Fireworks

We be Licktoads! We make raid!

Put the longshanks to the blade!

Burn them up from feet to head,

Make them hurt, make them dead!

Put the parents into ham,

Smush the babies into jam,

All the rest in pot get stewed,

We be Licktoads – you be food!

The goblins of the Licktoad tribe live deep in Brinestump Marsh, south of the hated man-town called Sandpoint. Once, the goblins of Thistletop (a small island north of the city) tried to burn Sandpoint down, and they would have been legends if they had succeeded. But they didn’t bring enough fire, and got themselves killed as a result.

Yesterday, the Licktoad goblins discovered that one of their own had been using forbidden arts and was engaged in one of the greatest of taboos – writing things down. In fact, rumor holds that what he was writing was a history of the Licktoad tribe! There’s no swifter way to bring about bad luck than stealing words out of a goblin’s mind by writing them down, and so the tribe had no choice. They branded the goblin’s face with letters to punish him, which is why everyone calls him Scribbleface now, and then ran him out of town, took all his stuff, and burned down his hut.

That’s where things got interesting, because before they burned down his hut, Chief Gutwad found a weird box within the building. Inside was a map and a lot of fireworks – fireworks that immediately came to use in burning the hut down. Then, this morning, Gutwad announced that tonight there would be a feast in order to drive out any lingering bad luck from Scribbleface’s poor decision. But perhaps even more exciting, four Licktoad heroes have been secretly invited to meet at Chief Gutwad’s Moot House. All four similarly wondered, ‘Why would the chief want to speak to me? It can only mean that he’s got an important mission for us… one that the other goblins of the tribe couldn’t pull off. This could mean my chance to go down in Licktoad history!’ 

Lying at the center of the village, the chief’s Moot House is a veritable museum of Licktoad heroics – crammed with trophies such as stolen weapons, shiny bits of treasure, and the brine-pickled bodies of dozens of brutally slaughtered small furry animals (mostly dogs). His Mighty Girthness Chief Rendwattle Gutwad rules Licktoad Village from atop the great Teeter Chair, which is 6 feet high and allows him to more properly look down on his subjects. By tradition, Chief Gutwad does not speak directly to his subjects. Instead, he employs an advisor and through him he whispers instructions, for the Licktoad goblins understand that the words that come out of the chief’s mouth are so mighty that they might frighten away all the words in the heads of the lesser goblins. Only his duly appointed advisor, the overdressed, pompous goblin named Slorb, can handle the might of the chief’s words without fainting from fear.

As the story begins, the four Licktoad heroes are all gathered before the entrance to the Moot House, awaiting invitation from Slorb to enter. (adapted from from Pathfinder Module: We Be Goblins, pp. 3-4)

Poog , a frightening little cleric of the goblin deity Zaronge,l is so excited and nervous at the thought of going inside the chief’s hut he pees his pants a little bit.

Drubbus, the nature shaman of the Licktoads, shifts around nervously. Consciously or not, he keeps trying to work himself into the middle of the group.

Reta Bigbad, a fearless goblin female warrior, sneaks up beside Drubbus and licks his ear then screeches, “Stop It Drubbus!” and slugs him in the gut. She then eyes Chuffy’s caged spider, wishing she could squish it just to see the color of its ick.

Drubbus gives a clicking growl over the licked ear and punch to the gut, but he’s got bigger things on his mind than a rumble. Since the others all know him well, they can practically hear the words in his head. ‘Bein’ pointed at for a small raid izz only lil lezz killy than being pointed at only! ‘N goblinz what pointed at izz usual tossed in stewpot on way or other ‘n quick!’

Mogmurch, the deranged Licktoad alchemist, laughs and says, “Hey Reta, forget about that tweak! Let’s go to my hut and you can lick my,” he pauses, to increase the suggestiveness, “… face… all you want.” As he finishes, he gives Drubbus an irreverent shove.

Chuffy Lickwound, the tribe’s most ardent arsonists and sneak,  smiles into his pet spider Stankrush’s cage. While waving a smoldering twig says, “Hey Stankrush, what kinda of fun can we have wif dis?”

After long interminable seconds of waiting, the high-pitched nasal voice of chief advisor Slorb calls out for them all to enter. Inside, the corpulent Chief Gutwad sits precariously atop the Teeter Chair.

“You may have the great honor of sitting in the dirt before Chief Gutwad.” Slorb gestures to the filthy area littered with bones below the Teeter Chair.

After they have all gathered around, with much pushing and shoving, and found a space amid the debris they are amazed and shocked to be addressed by Chief Gutwad.  They are also all relieved to find that their heads are not exploding after all as the chief speaks to them directly in a deep, booming voice. It must be because, as they always assumed, they are all the elitist of the elite among goblin-kind, and probably any other kind as well.

“You all be heroes. Each of you. You are best Licktoads but for me. And maybe but for Slorb. That you aren’t fleeing in terror from the mighty sound of my voice is all the proof that you should need. Yet soon, all Licktoad goblins will know your might, for I have picked you for a dangerous mission.

“You know about fireworks and map we found in Scribbleface’s hut. Fireworks were fun. But map is more fun. It shows a route to a place near the coast where Scribbleface found fireworks. And it says there are more fireworks there!

“I want then for Licktoads. You all go get them tomorrow. Tonight we have a big bonfire to burn bad luck away from you, and we play many games. Much fun. Tomorrow you fetch me fireworks. If you meet men, you make them dead. If you meet dogs, you make them dead. If you meet horses, you make them dead. If you meets Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many, you maybe should run. And if you not find fireworks, you not come back or we feed you to Squealy Nord!” (the above paragraphs in italics from Ibid, p. 4)

When the chief finishes his speech, he reaches behind him and digs around for a bit. Then he produces the map and flings it down at them all. “Take the map,” Chief Gutwad bellows. “Now get out! Slorb and I have a feast to plan!”

Chuffy slinks back a few steps. A wide grin breaks across his face, his large eyes squinting to yellow slits. He stands there rocking on his heels. Poog eyes the map greedily and sticks his foot out to trip Mogmurch after the latter jabs him in the side. Unfortunately for Poog, he only ends up losing his own balance as Mogmurch leaps over Poog’s foot and dives on top of the map. Drubbus joins in the general dive for the map, landing hard atop Mogmurch. Mogmurch gasps as Drubbus lands on him. Reta pushes aside Chuffy, almost nicking herself on the dogslicer he has drawn, and piles on trying to grab the map away from Mogmurch. Trying to throw off his competitors, Mogmurch bares his teeth and hisses viciously at Drubbus and Reta, trying to scare them off.

Chuffy steps back, watching eagerly, dogslicer at the ready, to see who emerges from the tussle with the map. Slorb waves at Chuffy to put away his dogslicer and starts kicking at the goblins on the ground, yelling at them to get up and be on their way. Chuffy continues to grin, but his eyes go wide. He turns the dogslicer over and scans the edge. As quickly as it was drawn, the sword is sheathed. Looking at Slorb, Chuffy shrugs with an upturned palm, and then whispers into the cage held in his other hand.

Poog is dismayed that his attempt to trip Mogmurch failed and he ended up on the floor himself. He tries to look as if nothing happened and is now on his hands and knees looking out the door of the chief’s hut. He sees the goblins gathering a great amount of wood for a fire! His eyes light up and he starts to sing.

Fire is sweet,

So nice and neat,

It burns bright in the dead of night

And makes things dead and right.

Poog picks himself up and as he is dusting himself off he notices his pants are wet from when he pissed himself earlier. He smells his fingers and smiles momentarily blissed out on the smell of his own pee. He casually wipes his hands on Chuffy’s back as he walks past him to where the other goblins are toiling to build a bonfire out of branches, sticks, and unburnt timbers taken from the ruins of Scribbleface’s hut.

Chuffy chases after Poog. When he gets to the bonfire, he rocks on his heels and from time to time whispers to his pet spider. Each time he smiles and gives a satisfied nod.

Stepping up to Mogmurch, hands behind her back and smiling seductively, Reta forces herself to speak low, “Hey ‘Murchy. Can I see that map puuhleese? I won’t try and steals it. Really!” As she speaks, her voice slowly raises to its normal loud screechy level so that the word ‘Really’ can be easily heard by anybody nearby.

Leering greedily, Mogmurch asks Reta, “Oh ReeeAALLY? Well, what’ll ya gimme for a look?”

Reta looks coyly out of her halfling wedding veil then produces a rather plump caterpillar from her pocket. Eyeing the morsel she half yells excitedly, “We can squish it together!”

Drubbus takes out his sack of salty beetles and noisily crunches one. “Mmmm! So salty and crunchy! Mog, if you want a few, I could hold your map.”

Tongue lolling in anticipation of salty goodness, Mogmurch shouts, “Gimme!” and snatches at the salted beetles, tossing the map toward Drubbus.

He tries to eat as many beetles as possible before Drubbus can stop him or anyone else tries to take them. In a flash he greedily devours all of them.

Reta peers over Drubbus’ shoulder at the map. The map is relatively simple, showing little more than the Licktoad village, the old shipwreck on the coast that supposedly contains the fireworks, and the creek that runs between the two locations. By following the creek they should be able to easily reach the old wreck. Unfortunately, the old wreck is also located in the part of the swamp that all Licktoads know to be the territory of Vorka the cannibal. (italicized portion from ibid, p. 5)

Reta screeches, “That’s where Vorka lives, look!” and points to the location of the shipwreck. This loud proclamation in Drubbus’ ear is also overheard by Mogmurch standing nearby noisily crunching on beetles, and also Chuffy and Poog over by the bonfire.

Several other goblins that were piling wood on the bonfire look over at Reta and then begin chuckling and sneering. “Hey Reta, youz afraid a Vorka? Har har!”

Reta rounds on the goblins and barks out, “You is stupid you don’t take her seriously. That why goblins like you only good as lunch for others!”

The goblin gulps, quickly ducks his head and gets back to work.

“Get away from me, Reta!” Drubus growls. “I got the map, so youz gots to do my sez so! And what the heck is a Vorka anywayz?”

Through his beetle-stuffed mouth Mogmurch says, “Hah!  Dummy, Drubbuth! Vorka’th that goblin eatth other goblinth — thpethially oneth with mapth hahaha!” Swallowing, he continues. “We’ll feed you to ‘er tomorrow. Then she’ll let us get to the ship and take the fireworks and all the shinies.”

Drubus grumbles something in the secret Druidic speech and says aloud, to Mogmurch, “Peas, carrots, taters and bit o’ garlic and you might be worth eating yourself.”

Turning back to the map, Reta puts her arm around Drubbus’ shoulders, “Pay no ‘tension to Mog. He be eaten himself with those others soon as old Vorka sets her pitch black eyes on ‘em,” she motions to Mogmurch and the other goblin hecklers.

As night falls, a group of four struggling goblins carry the Teeter Chair (with Chief Gutwad sitting atop it) out to the bonfire. With great ceremony the chief produces a foot long wooden tube with a fuse at the top. The chief sets this in the middle of the bonfire and lights it with a burning branch. The fuse quickly burns down and then the tube flares up full of sparks and begins firing out tiny fireballs up into the air. Some of these land and hit the goblins gathered around the fire burning hair or the arms and hands flung up to ward off the flames. Those who are not hit find this gut-achingly hilarious. Other fireballs actually land back and ignite the bonfire. This signals the start of an all-night party that features lots of good things to eat (snails, fish, and snakes) and also a barrel of fermenting cider apples that the chief has rolled out.

Poog had overheard the jibber jabbering about shipwrecks and vorka-thingies behind him, but didn’t have a clue what they are talking about, nor could he care less. The pretty flames now completely captivate him. His eyes light up and he starts to sing, “Fire is sweet, so nice and neat, it burns bright in the dead of night and makes things dead and right.”

Drubbus has two mugs of cider, but keeps a death grip on the map.

Poog cavorts, leaping and jumping around the bonfire while practicing making little fireballs with his fingers. He consumes three ciders relatively quickly.

Reta chugs back an entire mug of the stuff.

Chuffy takes a few sips of his first mug, and then throws the rest down in a single gulp. After his second mug, he’s feeling just about right.

Mogmurch has two drinks before the first of the dares begins.

As the drinking progresses the other goblins begins whispering and pointing to Poog, Reta, Drubbus, Mogmurch, and Chuffy. It is obvious that someone has spilled the beans about them being sent off on a mission. Finally, a scrawny wretch named Gawg says, “Hey I bet dese guys can’t even dance with Squealy Nord, how are they gonna get us some fireworks?”

“Yeeeaaah! We dare you to ride Squealy Nord and show us what youz can do” his equally scrawny brother Mogawg adds.

“Yes,” says Slorb after a whispered consultation with the chief. “Let the dares begin, and I will provide the prizes. If any of you win a dare, I’ll see that you have nice things to help you in your mission.”

A little goblin girl, fresh out of the baby cages hesitantly asks, “If it could help them get the fireworks, why not just give them what they’ll need?”

All the goblins fall silent at such audacious stupidity. Chief Gutwad glowers and even Slorb seems speechless. Finally a nearby goblin smacks the goblin girl hard on the back of the head, almost causing her to fall into the bonfire. “Don’t be stupid!” says the smacker. “That’s just not how things are done in the Licktoad tribe. You wanna prize, you gotta take a dare!”

At this all the goblins begin shouting, “Squaly Nord! Squealy Nord! Squealy Nord!” as they all, pushing and shoving one another, make their way to the muddy pit by the goblin baby cages. The pit itself is circular, nearly 20’ in diameter, and just over 10’ deep. In the center of the pit, snorting and rooting through the mud, is Squealy Nord – the fiercest boar in the whole of Brinestump Marsh and the mascot of the Licktoad tribe. A more cynical and irreverent human viewing the scene might point out that Squealy Nord is not quite a fierce boar and has more than a passing resemblance to a missing piglet named Wilbur from one of the nearby farms, but fortunately there are no longshanks about to say such a thing.

“So, who has the first dance?” asks Slorb looking at them all. “How about you Poog? I’ve heard you’re quite a rider.” This is greeted with hoots, chortles, and snickering from the surrounding mob. “All you have to do is stay on for a count of…” Slorb starts counting off the fingers of his hands and then realizes he doesn’t have enough. He looks at his toes for a moment and wiggles them a bit in the mud surrounding the pit. Finally he looks up and says, “Until I get tired of counting.”

Reta knows she is the biggest badass present. She walks to the pen and jumps on Squealy Nord.

Mogmurch scowls at Poog like he’s a real pansy. “You let her go first?!” and spits at the ground by Poog’s feet. He turns to watch Reta, eagerly waiting for his own turn.

Poog snarls back at Mogmurch, picks a booger and flicks it at the back of his head.

While Reta is riding, Drubbus tries to slip away from the crowd, map still clutched firmly in hand.

Poog, noticing Drubbus sneaking off under cover of all the excitement, yells out loud enough for all the Licktoad tribe to hear. “Where’s ya goin’ Drubbie-boy?”

Hurriedly attempting to hide the map behind his back Drubbus whines, “Youz don’t needz to know!”

As for Reta, she is thrown after half a minute but is unharmed – to the disappointment of the howling mob.

Mogmurch gulps down one of his vile concoctions and transforms into something that looks like a cross between a goblin and a feral cat. With a bound he mounts the poor piglet and manages to stay on for at least a minute before Squealy Nord collapses in the mud from terror and sheer exhaustion.

Poog curses and spits, “dirty little cheetah boyz.”  He goes and sulks by the fire until the piglet has recovered and it is his turn. He manages to stay on for half a minute before he leaps off.

Chuffy is thrown after a minute but manages to land on his feet. Chuffy jumps and cheers for himself until he realizes he didn’t stay on long enough to beat Mogmurch’s time.

As Drubbus walks over to the pig he calls out, “I don’t have no spelly drinks, so I’ll have to do this on my only!” He folds up the map first and hides it in his tunic before hopping on the piglet. It is not quite a minute before he too is thrown, and unfortunately he lands hard on his elbow.

Chief Gutwad whispers to Slorb and the latter announces that Mogmurch has been declared the winner, “Even though he cheated! But of course it’s not about how you play the game… it’s about winning! Ha ha hah!” Slorb then hands Mogmurch a vial that was taken from a band of travelers who made the mistake of sleeping on the side of the road without a guard dog or anyone on watch. Mogmurch almost weeps when it is handed to him – for it is the fabled Dragon Brew Gourd.

“What’s next?” Slorb asks the mob with an evil grin.

Gronky, a bloated goblin with a deep voice, calls out, “They might get hungry on their mission. Let’s feed ‘em!” With that, covered wicker baskets are brought out along with soggy leaves for napkins. “Who wants a little somethin’ to chow down on?”

Poog slyly looks at the basket Gronky is holding and tries to sniff it but it’s too far away to smell anything. He looks greedily over at the Dragoon Brew Gourd and wants one too. He marches over to Gronky and says, “Gimmee deez nasteez, Poog not fraid to eatz dem all.”

“Be my guest,” Gronky says. “There’s plenty for all, heh heh heh…”

Mogmurch shoves Gronky out of the way to get at the food. Drubbus, Poog, and Chuffy also grab a basket. When the five of them uncover them they see that within is a slimy squirmy bag of bull slugs. Once their leaf napkins are tucked into their tunics like a bib, Slorb announces that it is time to begin. They have a minute to choke down at least five of the bull slugs.

Eating the slugs is not a problem even though they wriggle, taste of rotten fish, and burst with a little squal when chewed. Eating a full bag is the hard part. and every goblin knows that when eating bull slugs it is prudent to spit out the slug’s mildly poisonous slime bladder though it takes longer than simply gulping them down.

Just to show he’s extra tough, Mogmurch chews each bite, making yummy noises and feigning delight.

Chuffy pokes at the food a bit, and then goes at it by the handful.

Reta gulps them down as fast as she can.

When Slorb calls the time (with a battered digital stopwatch looted from Numerian merchants) Poog, Mogmurch, and Chuffy were only able to consume three of the slugs each. Drubbus did a little better and was able to consume five. Reta, however, takes the prize having swallowed nine live bull slugs. She in fact looks even greener than goblins normally look. Before she can get away, Slorb grabs her and declares her the winner of the “eat a bag of slugs real quick dare” and therefore gets the prize. The chief hands her the famed Gorge of Gluttons, an enchanted dogslicer that is particularly good at killing horses.

“This is from Chief Gutwad’s horde,” says Slorb. “This is loan only. You bring it back or we take it back along with your head as interest.”

“Nice one Reta,” croaks Chuffy.

Reta tries to smile back at Chuffy, but only manages to burp loudly as slug drool runs down her cheek. She tucks the Gorge of Gluttons into her belt and attempts to not look sick.

Poog looks at Reta and giggles hysterically seeing her light green skin turn a bright chartreuse color. ”Reta you be lookin’ funny!”

Drubbus gives her a congratulatory punch in the stomach.

Drubbu’s gut punch causes Reta to vomit half-digested slugs (and their slime bladders) all over Drubbus. This causes Drubbus to begin retching and then vomiting as well. The other goblins of course find this hilarious.

Reta belches loudly for a third time and wipes her mouth on her sleeve. “Oh that feels better! Thanks, Drubby.”

The next dare that Slorb announces is the ever popular “Hide or Get Clubbed,” the goblin version of hide and seek. The dare-takers must rush into the marsh without any weapons and attempt to find a good hiding spot. The other goblins try to find him (or her), and if they do, the finder is allowed to whack the previously hidden goblin with a club. The goblin with the best hiding spot who remains undiscovered the longest will win the loan of the mystical Ring that Lets You Climb Real Good from the chief’s hoard.

Mogmurch, looks nervously around at the other competitors. He does not relish getting clubbed. He hesitates just a bit as the others start running into the marsh, then rushes after to find his own hiding place and hoping the others didn’t notice the delay.

Poog looks at Slorb and says, “I’m in!” and skips out into the marsh singing, “Can’t find me, no you won’t, I be hiding under some tree.”

Poog thinks craftily to himself, “I am very stealthy yes indeedy. I will use my speak to animals spell to ask them where to hide so no one will find me!”  He then casts his spell and seeks guidance from an old marsh rat about where to hide.

The swamp rat tells Poog, “There’s a rotten log over there by the crick. You should be able to fit in there,” and he then scampers off. Poog hears the band of goblins tromping through the woods behind him so it’s the log or nothing.

Poog races over and slips into the rotten log and pulls some moss over the opening to cover his tracks.  He is thrilled to find some nice crawly bugs to munch on while he hides. He happily watches the Licktoads searching through the moss while he eats bugs. He can barely contain his giggles. Unfortunately his giggling gives him away and he soon has a bump on his head for all his troubles.

Drubbus is found very soon after hiding behind a tree and also given a thump.

Reta, Mogmurch, and Chuffy hide so well that they have to be called in after enough time passes (a few minutes) that the other goblins start to get bored. Since fewer goblins came even close to Chuffy’s hiding place, Slorb hands the Ring that Lets You Climb Real Good to him with a warning that it is also a loaner from the chief.

Reta slaps Chuffy upside the head in congratulations and says pointing at the ring, “Nice one Chuff.”

The infamous Rusty Earbiter is a hollow coil of rusty wires, barrel hoops, bent swords, and thorny branches and vines that’s kept behind the Moot House when not in use. So named for the fact that it’s claimed a number of goblin ears in the past (at any one time up to three partially severed goblin ears can be found tangled in its sharp internal coils), the Rusty Earbiter is both an object of fascination and fear for the Licktoads. The half-insane tinkerer who invented the thing has long since died (carried off one night by a giant bird of some sort after his first and only test of a prototype bird-attracting hat), but his legacy lives on. The other goblins cheer and hoot when Drubbus, Reta, Poog, Chuffy, and Mogmurch are dared to crawl through the Rusty Earbiter, and a half-dozen eager goblins roll the 20 foot coil out from behind the Moot House with the typical number of slashed fingers and stabbed legs such a task normally brings. A goblin who agrees to this dare must climb into one end of the Rusty Earbiter and then wriggle through it, coming out the other side. There’s no time limit to get it done, but the faster the better! (italicized section from ibid, p. 6)

Reta pushes Drubbus forward, thus volunteering him to go first. “Show us how it’s done big guy!”

Drubbus grabs her and pushes her forward, “You do it, Vomit-head! I need my ears to listen to the ancient spirits, and tell them to haunt you if you do that again!”

To hide his own terror at the thought of being cut up inside that thing, Mogmurch helps Drubbus push Reta toward the device. “Reta goes! Reta Goes!” he shouts, cheering as he considers the mayhem about to happen to her.

Poog looks at the Rusty Earbiter and says, “No no no. I iz not gonna go in dat ting. I needz my earz to hear the words of Zarongel!” He is mad too that he has no bright shiny prizes to play with either. He is beginning to think the entire goblin dares games aren’t as fun as they used to be watching them.

Chuffy spends a few moments studying the Earbiter with slight trepidation. Then a grin cracks across his face, as he seems to have gained some sort of insight on the inner workings… or it could be the wind he broke. He starts his way through.

Reta stops pushing and fighting with the others and grins at Chuffy. Slowly and quietly she starts to chant, “Chuffy, Chuffy, Chuffy…” looking around at the other goblins and motioning for them to join in.

Drubbus joins in as well, but after a few moments he drops his voice and changes the chant to, “Not me! Not me!”

Poog can’t stop giggling, “Chuffy’s in de tube, he needz to sneeze some lube! If he getz stuckz hez so outta luck!” He is now giggling so hard he slobbers all over himself with spit and snot.  He then wipes it and running over to the tube throws it in!

Right as he goes in Chuffy gets an ear snagged, but after that he moves through swiftly and gets out after less than half a minute.

As the only one to take the dare, Slorb awards Chuffy with one of the tribe’s most coveted items: the chief’s Personal Very Useful Robe That Is Useful. He places it on Chuffy as the surrounding goblins cheer (or boo).

Slorb announces one more dare: Grab the Stone. Chief Gutwad hands Slorb a jagged egg-shaped stone that shines with a faint red glow. Slorb drops it inside a large rotten stump with several holes in it that had been set before him by a team of goblins.

“There are many holes in this log,” Slorb leers at them all as he states the obvious. “All you must do is reach in and grab the Stone of Fixing Broken Stuff. But first…” Slorb is handed a leather sack bound at the top with a rope. He thumps it about a bit and then unties the sack and dumps an angry water moccasin into the top of the stump. “Now I believe we have a snake bite cure somewhere. We’ll send someone to see if it can be found if we need to. But it would be better if you just grab the stone and not the snake. Heh heh.”

Poog sticks out his tongue and makes a raspberry noise, “No wayz.”

Reta watches and waits for any of the others to step up.

Chuffy is still massaging his wound from the Rusty Earbiter. “Nope, that’s one dare you can’t get me to take,” has says and steps back.

“Snake! Rake! Eat the cake! I’m not afraid of that little slithery worm!” Mogmurch steps up to reach in for the stone but comes up with nothing.

Drubbus steps up to the stump, he says some words in the secret Druid tongue and scatters some mistletoe leaves.

Mogmuch shouts “Frack!!” in disappointment, and reaches into another hole but comes up with more nothing.

Drubbus spits on Mogmurch for luck. Then he shoves his hand into a hole to find still more nothing.

Drubbus tries yet another hole – nothing.

“Mog, you really wanna get snake bit? You just as like to grab a snake as a stone, an’ I can’t helps you if’n ya do.”

“Slinky snake won’t get me! I’ll get the stone!” Mogmurch tries the tenth hole.

Drubbus reaches in again but again comes up with nothing. He turns to Mogmuch and says, “I can tell you what hole the snake is in, so’z ya don’t get bit. What’s that worth to ya?”

Reta belts out laughing at the increased agitation of both Drubbus and Mogmurch, very happy that she is not thrusting anything into those nasty holes.

“Which hole? Tell me!” screams Mogmurch as he thrusts his hand into another hole. Then his eyes go wide and he pulls it out again triumphantly, shrieking “I win! I win!”

All of them are expected to set off into Brinestump Marsh the next morning, lingering sickness from the previous night’s party or not. As it is, Poog recovers fully, Reta is no longer sick, but Chuffy and Drubbus are still feeling their cuts and bruises respectively. They are all brought before the chief again at dawn, whereupon he instructs them all to “Get fireworks and bring them here to me.” To help, he gives them the remaining fireworks from Scribbleface’s stash – two Desnan candles, four paper candles, and a skyrocket. The chief leaves it to them to decide how to divide these up.

“Ooo, me likes the big boomy one,” say Chuffy. He reaches into the stash and tries to grab one of the paper candles instead though. ”This looks just perfect for Chuffy,” he says with a grin.

Poog says, “Gimmee deh rocket onez!” He makes a grab for the skyrocket.

Drubbus attempts to be sly and avoid a fight over the skyrocket, he makes a grab for the paper candles trying to get one in each hand.

Two hands, two fireworks. Reta grabs a Desnan candle but sees that Poog has already grabbed the skyrocket so she grabs a paper candle that is closer to hand! Reta is too engrossed in her new toys to mind much about not getting the big one. She grins from ear to ear and waves the Desnen candle about, imagining it throwing forth fireballs of doom upon all her enemies.

Mogmurch gets what’s left as he found it too hard to decide what to grab for first. This turns out to be the other Desnan candle.

Next, they organize themselves into the semblance of a marching order.

Drubbus tries to move up in front of Chuffy, so he has someone behind him if something sneaks up on them.

Poog is too busy with his skyrocket to care where he is in the line singing to himself,  ”Across the sky shooting stars… fiery lights leaving scars, making fire is my delight, eating nasteez in the night.”

Reta tries to take command. “Poog, you be in front. I will stay way up ahead of you guys cuz I make less noise. If I see something I will come back and tell ya.”

“What?!” Poog screeches at Reta. Hopping from leg to leg and spinning around several times, Poog is clearly quite distressed. “Eyez not gonna walk in front, yooz do it.”

Reta sighs, “I will be in front… a lot in front. You just in front of da rest!”

Poog casts a sneaky sideways glance at Reta, and says, “Okee dokee Ugly Reeeta Marsh Maid.”

Reta squints her eyes in anger then turns away and moves up ahead, putting around 60 feet of distance between the group and herself.

Poog lets Reta get out ahead and then starts to follow her whispering to himself, “Oh yez, Poog is following right behind Reta with his big stick.” He makes several thrusting motions with his skyrocket towards Reta. He then begins to giggle so much he trips and falls on his face in the mud with a splat and mud flies everywhere.

The journey to the fireworks stash, as indicated on the map is relatively short – a slog not quite a mile-long through the swamp along a creek’s northern bank. The journey takes only one hour to make. The marsh itself is relatively difficult to navigate, with numerous stretches of deep water that must be skirted and thick tangles of stinging nettles, but they are all at home in these swamps and so are not worried about getting stuck or lost. Still they need to be wary of other larger predators. (italicized section from ibid, p. 6)

The point indicated on Scribbleface’s map isn’t quite on the coast, but it’s close enough to hear the faint susurrus of waves crashing on an unseen swampy shoreline. The site itself is obvious once it is approached. A two-masted ship lies mired in the mud in a clearing, its rigging thick with moss and decorated with lanterns and windchimes made from goblin skulls and bones. Strange writing is faintly visible along the ship’s prow, while the soggy, swampy “yard” that surrounds the wreck is encircled by a rickety wooden fence. A thin curl of smoke wafts up from a chimney that protrudes from an unusual box-like structure near the ship’s bow. (italicized section from ibid, p. 9)

As he’s bringing up the rear, Chuffy glances behind to make sure there is no one following. He casually squeezes one of the boils on his face.

Thinking very highly of herself, Reta says, “Somebody lives here, let me sneaks up and look. Stay here.” She waits a few seconds for anybody to contradict her, then starts heading towards the gate to get a better look.

Poog grasps Reta’s arm lightly, and whispers, “Wait Reta. Lemme check for magic trapz before yooz stepz in it.”

“Yes, good. Do that,” Reta says and waits to hear back what Poog discovers.

“Ya, Reta.” Drubbus whispers roughly “An, when hez done, I can give you a spelly to keep you safe from any guard dogs.”

“Good, Drubbus, do that too. When you are done I can sees what there is to see… Hey, wherez Poog going?”

While waiting for his dog hiding-ness spell from Drubbus, Reta watches Poog head towards the fence. She crouches down and waits, mumbling “Stupid Poog.”

Poog doesn’t sense any magic from the fence or the yard; however, all of the goblins hear the barking of dogs – seemingly from the ship and somewhere farther off the neighing of a horse. Poog creeps as close to the fence as he needs to scan the whole ship. He moves counterclockwise along the fence, for why would a goblin do anything else?

Mogmurch goes with him. Whispering to Poog, he says, “Hiss! Horse and dogs! What kind of creepies keep horses and dogs?”

When Poog and Mogmurch reach the north side of the fence they see that the main deck of the shipwreck is cluttered with objects both natural and artificial. Thick swaths of leafy vines grow over the deck, and shiny green patches of algae and moss grow where the vines do not. The central cabin’s roof has a wide edge, creating a canopied walkway along the ship’s sides. A flight of steps leads up to the roof of the ship’s main cabin, the entrance to which is blocked by a door decorated by a large number of rodent and bird skulls. A smoking stovepipe chimney extends up from the ship’s highest point above. Two rickety wooden platforms – crow’s nests – sit on the masts, ten feet above the ship’s decks below. Each is linked by a pair of thick ropes, and additional ropes hang down from the platform on the stern-most mast to the deck. (adapted from ibid, p. 8)

They can see clearly that there are not just one but two dogs on the ship (and hear what might be a third). One mangy hound with a blue eye and a brown eye is chained to the central mast on the upper deck, and the other is a scruffy mongrel with a crooked tail  chained to the aft mast below on the main deck. Both dogs are barking ceaselessly and straining at their chains as they smell the presence of the goblins. Even more horrifying than the dogs, however, is the filthy, dark grey stallion on the other side of the fence. At the sound of the dogs it neighs and runs off behind the wreck to the southern side of the yard, churning up mud with its hooves. Despite all this, Poog is able to maintain his concentration and he detects the presence of magic within the main cabin. There are two sources of magic within the cabin, both faint. Because he cannot see them, Poog is unable to discover anything more.

“Let’s go back an’ get the others to kill the dogs, ‘kay?” asks Mogmurch, but Poog is already heading back the way they came.

“Yes yes yess! I hatez dogz.”

Meanwhile, Reta and the others hear the dogs barking and the neighing of the horse as it rounds the wreck. Reta loses all sight of the mission in a blood lust for the horse, empowered by her new weapon. “Let’s get it boyz!” she screeches to Drubbus and Chuffy. Reta draws the magical dogslicer and sneaks up on the horse.

Reta slips stealthily over the fence and sneaks quietly up to the unsuspecting horse, obscured from its notice by Drubbus’ spell. Unfortunately for her, she lunges at it just as it steps away and she misses. Her aggressive intention causes the spell to fail and the horse immediately rears up and lashes out at her with its hooves. One hoof hits Reta in the shoulder. Nothing seems broken but Reta knows she will feel that in the morning. Enraged, Reta fells the horse with a single blow. The horse collapses in agony, badly injured and unable to get up.

“Hehehe! That’s how it should be! Kill a horse!” says Mogmurch as he and Poog get back and see what Reta has done.

Poog reports there are two minor sources of magic inside the ship but nothing too strong.

Reta stops hacking at the horse and says, “We can take those mutts with bows, just need to find a good spot.”

Drubbus looks up to the ship for any sign of movement.

Reta hacks at the horse’s head one more time then joins Drubbus in looking at the ship. Since there is none, she says, “C’mon boyz, lets board” and starts heading for it.

Reta grins and says, “You boyz go up to the front. I’ll take out the dogs. She drinks her spider climbing potion, climbs a nearby tree and starts firing on the dogs. Her first two shots miss, but her third shot hits the dog that is on the upper deck but only wounds it. The fourth shot isn’t really a miss but it careens off the side of the dog. Both dogs are now in a frothing fury and both actually manage to break the rusty chains tethering them to the masts. But since Reta is up in the tree all they can do is leap up to the railings howling and barking.

Meanwhile, Drubbus isn’t sure what to do… he hesitantly starts toward the gangplank as does Poog, Mogmurch, and Chuffy. They come to a vine-choked gangplank with mossy handrails that ascends sharply up to the ship’s bow from the muddy ground. One handrail seems to be encrusted with a large ball of dried mud.

Chuffy whispers, “Let me take a look at this thing.” He doesn’t see anything to be alarmed about though. Drubbus however, points out that the ball of mud is actually a wasp’s nest and when he looks further he sees it is connected to a vine on the gangplank. Drubbus feels very good about himself for spotting this!

Mogmurch had concocted a potion for boosting his agility. He doesn’t drink it yet though. Then he checks his bomb supplies, and (almost hyperventilating) mutters, “Boom and burn. Boom and burn! Boom and burn!” over and over to himself.

Drubbus feels the heightening anxiety of the group, “Easy fellas, there are fouler things than dogs on this ship.”

Chuffy does his best to safely dislodge the wasp nest trap, but only ends up causing it to fall and burst at the bottom of the gangplank. He is even stung by a few angry wasps for his troubles. Fortunately he is not stung enough to cause any severe swelling.

Poog can’t stop himself from stalking the dog, so compelled is he with killing it. “Dirty dizguzting nazty dogz.” He moves along the port side of the cabin closer to the dog aft of the cabin that is barking furiously at Reta in the tree and shoots his fire bolt at it. The dog yelps and collapses on the deck, whining piteously. Poog is momentarily speechless seeing his fire bolt strike fell the dog.

Mogmurch laughs as the dog’s last blood leaks out. “Ha har! Good job, Poog!” and gives him a hard congratulatory slap on the back.

That is when the cabin door crashes open and out steps a female goblin with a too wide, even by goblin standards, snaggletooth grin of mismatched file sharpened teeth that leaves little doubt as to her preference for tough, stringy meat (for instance, goblin meat). All but Poog and Drubbus recognize that she must be Vorka the cannibal. She wears rags and bits of stained cloth – trophies harvested from her hapless victims – over her equally patchwork leather armor. Atop her large, misshapen head is a floppy, pointy leather hat. She screeches, “What’re you doin’ to my doggies?!” A torch-like flame then flares up on her outstretched hand and she uses it to light a Desnan candle that she immediately fires at Reta (being the first goblin in sight). The first pyrotechnic candle fired hits Reta square in the chest and give her a nasty burn.

Then another monstrous thing leaps out of the cabin. It is a frog about the size of a human and probably weighing around 200 lbs. “Get them Lord Longtung!” screams Reta pointing down the walkway. With a few hops the giant frog blocks the walkway and its long tongue flashes out and almost catches Poog who ducks beneath it with a startled yelp.

The dog atop the cabin races over to the flight of steps down to the main deck to Vorka’s side, ready to mangle any intruder who comes within reach. “Good doggy, Tickletooth!” Vorka says, “Look what they did to poor Scabtongue!”

Reta scuttles down the tree to get cover from the branches and looses another arrow, this time at Vorka. She hits her in the left shoulder and though it causes her to curse all the more doesn’t seem to be enough to put her down for good.

While Vorka raves, Poog steps in closer to the frog, calls upon Zarongel, the god of fires, and lets loose with a burst of flames from his hands. Unfortunately, the giant frog is too quick and leaps back away from them.

Mogmurch drinks his potion to boost his throwing accuracy and stays behind the cabin out of the way of the mayhem along the port side.

Drubbus casts his entangle spell to keep Vorka and her tongue-flailing boyfriend away from the goblins. The vines all over half the ship, from the stern forward, all begin wrapping themselves around the dog Tickletooth and Longtung the frog, and also Poog who is halfway down the port walkway. Vorka, however, manages to slip free of them, at least for the moment.

Poog, failing to disentangle himself is cursing mightily and shrieks, “Drubbie yooz dumaz. Now what are we supposed to do!” Poog is good and thoroughly stuck, from where he is he tries a desperate throw of his javelin at the frog.

“Suits you right, Poog!” responds Drubbus.

Chuffy runs around to the starboard walkway, but has to stop as he finds the writhing vines blocking his way.

Vorka fires another candle at Reta but this time only hits a branch over Reta’s head. Vorka dances about cursing and manages to keep away from the encircling vines. “I’ll have your eyeballs pickled in sauce before this night’s over!”

The frog and the remaining dog try to break free of the vines but fail. Lord Longtung, however, tries again to grab Poog with its tongue to drag him closer. The tongue hits but Poog slips through it. Poog hurtles his javelin back at the frog but it gets knocked off the ship by one of the vines.

Reta looses another arrow at Vorka and hits her left thigh.

Poog is desperate now, seeing his last javelin casts fail and he is still entangled with the frog attacking him. He slaps his head and says, “Zilly Poog! Poog forgets he has skyrocketz!” As the frog once more tries, and fails, to get a grip on him with its tongue, he grabs the skyrocket slung by a string from his back and holds it up to his right hand just as he shoots another fire bolt at the frog – which hits it on the tip of its head and certainly hurts it but doesn’t kill it. The fire bolt lights the skyrocket that begins to shake and emit bright white sparks out of its tail. “Herez sum pretty colors for you, you ugly frog prinze!”

Drubbus advances down the port walkway until he’s just outside of the entangling vines and beside Poog. He holds a dart at the ready.

Vorka fires a third candle at Reta but once again it bursts against the covering branches. “I’ll roast you maggots and pick my teeth with your bones!” she howls. Finally the vines catch her and, like her pets, they wrap around her as well.

Again Lord Longtung hits Poog with his tongue but is unable to get a firm enough grip to pull the goblin priest of Zarongel towards it.

On the starboard side, Chuffy pockets his tindertwig and paper candle and draws his own dart, ready to throw it at the first enemy that comes around the corner.

Reta looses another arrow at Vorka, but this time the cover between she and the cannibal works against her and the arrow lodges itself in the gunwale of the wreck.

Poog’s skyrocket finally takes off with a roar, tearing itself out of Poog’s hand and hitting Lord Longtung in the belly whereupon it explodes into a cascade of multi-colored light. The frog is badly burned and lets out a piteous bellow. It blinks its eyes and shakes its head, blinded (at least temporarily) by the lights.

To add insult to injury, Drubbus hurls a dart at it that sticks into its head right between its eyes and dangles there for a few moments before the frog shakes it off.

Mogmurch comes up behind Drubbus, so he can get a good throw at Vorka with one of his bombs.

Vorka screeches, “Cuddles! Cuddles! Get out here, your momma’s in trouble!” From up above a third dog, sounding even larger and more ferocious than the other two, can be heard barking in rage and hurling itself at the door of the upper galley in an attempt to break it open. Vorka casts the Desnan candle overboard (it fires one last candle into the mud), ducks down behind the gunwale, takes out a potion from a pocket in her rags with her left hand (a magical fire is still burning in her right), bites off the cork, and quickly consumes it. She licks her lips and mutters, “That’s a little better.”

The dog Tickeltooth finally bites through the vines holding it and it bounds past Vorka and even Longtung to get at Poog.

The frog, Lord Longtung, keeps shaking its head and trying again and again to break free of the vines holding it in place but is unable to do it.

Reta moves up to the higher branches to get a better shot at the frog, but her arrow goes amiss and just sticks in the cabin by the frog’s head.

Poog screeches, “Drubbie, curse yooz! When I getta outta here eyz gonna trim yooz earz!”

With a mighty effort, Poog finally strains against and breaks the vines, Drubbus helping in the effort by grabbing him around the waist and hauling him out. Finally, Poog is free and with Drubbus they are both able to move towards the bow, leaving Mogmurch a clear path to hurl his bomb at the frog or Reta.

Mogmurch lofts the bomb at Vorka, watching its flight and chuckling softly as it lands on Vorka’s head and explodes, burning her hat into cinders and leaving her face covered in soot. The burst of flaming debris also lands on Scabtongue who lets out a final whimper and passes out.

Mogmurch screams, “Yes yes yes! Boom boom boom!” as the smoke clears, delighted with the effects.

Reta calls out, “Yeah! Good shot! Take that ya old witch!”

Vorka tries again to break free of the vines but with no luck. Nevertheless she raises her right hand and blows the flame in it towards Mogmurch, a new flame spring up in her upraised palm immediately after. Mogmurch yelps as he is badly burned on the arms he flings up to protect himself by the fist-sized ball of flame.

Tickeltooth managed to avoid getting caught again by the vines and hurls itself at Mogmurch snapping at him viciously.

Lord Longtung finally snaps the vines wrapped around its legs. It backs up and hops up onto the upper deck where it finds more vines waiting to embrace it, though it manages to evade them for the moment.

Cuddles, the dog in the galley up above can still be heard howling in rage and attempting to smash through the door barring its way.

Reta sings, “Doggie die, doggie die,” as she lets loose an arrow at Tickeltooth who yelps as it pierces him in the side.

Poog, unsheathing his dogslicer, slips away to the bow. “Go get ‘em Moggie Boy!” Poog clasps a dirty dog-leather pouch he has around his neck and utters strange guttural sounds that build to a crescendo of raw noise. He steps up and touches Drubbus bestowing upon him the divine guidance of Zarongel.

Mogmurch pushes back, away from the dog, his elation turning into scowling horror. He pops the cork on the Dragon Brew Gourd and tosses the strangely bubbly contents down his throat. He then burps up a gout of flame that engulfs Tickeltooth and leaves him smoking and still on the now defoliated and charred patch of deck.

With great fanfare, Drubbus takes a clump of mistletoe out of his pocket and cast resistance on Mogmurch.

Desperate and enraged beyond all reason, Vorka pulls free of the vines and blows another ball of flame at Mogmurch but her aim is thrown off by the vines and the ball hurtles harmlessly into the mossy trees.

Without warning Lord Longtung drops down from the upper deck behind Poog and opens its sharp-toothed maw to engulf him.

Up above the other dog is still trying to get out of the galley.

Reta looses another arrow at Vorka but it overshoots her and is lost to view on the other side of the wreck.

Mogmurch steps in a bit towards Vorka and then breathes forth another gout of flame that hits her from 25’ away. Vorka screams in agony and starts to run, evading the grasping vines around her.

Poog turns at the thud behind him and shrieks! “Itza rainin’ frogzz!” He slashes with his dogslicer at one of the frogs legs leaving a nasty cut. ”Itz frogs legs for dinner boyz and girlz!”

Drubbus slips around the corner from the walkway to the bow and brings down the scythe onto the frog, but it easily hops away from the swing.

Vorka runs to the steps leading to the upper deck. This gives Chuffy a chance to hurl his readied dart at her (there are no risers so he can try to throw it between the steps). In his excitement, however, he trips over a vine (an inert one but still hazardous) and slams into the deck, where he lies stunned. Vorka cackles when she sees this and keeps going right up to the main deck – too quickly for the vines to catch her again.

Lord Longtung finally succeeds in wrapping Poog up with its tongue and begins pulling the goblin into his mouth. Reta looses an arrow at the frog but it goes right over its head (and Poog’s as well).

Drubbus attempts to keep the frog from eating Poog. “Ancient spirits, guide me!” Unfrotunately, with not quite enough room to swing, his blow fails to cut through the Longtung’s rubbery hide.

Mogmurch, being momentarily left to his own devices, takes a moment to quaff one of his extracts. He is soon feeling almost as good as new.

Desperate, Poog calls upon Zarongel and a wave of life-killing energy radiates from him in all directions. It is still not enough to kill the frog however.

Vorka makes it to the upper deck and to the door of the galley. Reta scrambles into the upper branches of the tree to get another clear shot at her. The arrow whistles past her, causing Vorka no small amount of consternation that she is still being fired upon.

Longtung bites down on Poog and the evil goblin priest stops squirming at last. As Poog loses consciousness he mutters his death song:

And Poog lies bleeding on the deck

Killed from the bite of a former man

Zarongel’s cleric, lover of fire and hater of dogs

 The lick spitter tribe couldn’t protect Poog

Poog lies bleeding on the deck

As Longtung munches on Poog, Drubbus brings his scythe down once more and this time pierces the brain of the frog, putting an end to it.

Mogmurch takes a quick look around. He sees Vorka fleeing and desperately wants to burn her, but also see’s Poog and realizes they may need his help soon, if he can be saved. So Mogmurch changes direction and pulls Poog out of the frog’s jaws.

Vorka rushes into the galley and slams the door shut behind her.

As Mogmurch lays Poog on the deck, Drubbus takes out his potion of wound curing and pours it down the fallen goblin’s throat. With a cough and a splutter, Poog is revived. Poog looks good enough to Mogmurch’s practiced medical eye, so he leaves him as he is.

“Stop the tanglies! Stop the tanglies or we’ll never get to Vorka!” screams Mogmurch to no one in particular.

Poog opens his eyes and blinks a half dozen times, then he carefully runs his hands over his body while he whimpers. Once he realizes he not dead he is so happy and cries out, “Lord Zarongel is great!” He springs to his feet and says to Mogmurch and Drubbus, “Do yooz twoz needz zome healin’z beforez weez continue?”

“Not now.” Drubbus shakes his head “But prolly later!” He hands a firework to Poog “Give this to Vorka for me!”

“Tankz Drubbie,” replies Poog. Poog is animated in his childish delight with his new paper candle. He giggles with anticipation to light it off, “Com’erz Vorka! I has a present for yooz!” He then makes little thrusting motions and pantomimes turning his back and covering his ears.

“I wanna boomer too! Gimme one!” cries Mogmurch.

“I’m gonna keep the entanglement goin’ ’tilz we getz a looksee at dat dog I hearz.” Drubbus sayz as he hands over his last firework with a grimace. His greed for it overcome by the realization that he has no way of lighting it anyway.

Reta climbs from where she is onto the upper deck, slinging the bow and taking out her dogslicer. She finds a place to hide up there and wait for Vorka (and the dog) to come out.

The entangling vines finally stop their writhing and return to their usual inanimate condition. The goblins walk to the stern to go up the upper deck after Vorka.

While following the others, Drubbus whistles to his goblin dog and calls out, “Mangy! Get over here you disgusting, little beast!” Mangy then scrambles up the gangplank and joins them.

Poog walks over to the rigging and makes the grab for the rope but it is covered with moss and fungus and he slips and falls back to the main deck with a resounding boom!

“Need that other healy drink now, Dufus?” Drubbus laughs.

Poog laying there now seeing quite a few more stars in the sky lets out a weak squeak, “yez pa-weez.”

Chuffy gets up, glad that no one saw him take a fall, and pulls out his paper candle and tindertwig as he follow the others up the steps.

Drubbus motions for everyone to group up to one side of the door to the galley. “Don’t cross in front of that door, boyz! Da Vorka can maybe throw more fire at us!” He whispers.

Poog is tired of getting his as kicked and is fine leading from the back, “Good idea Drubbie, yooz go first!”

Above the galley, Reta sneaks across the roof and bends over the side to take a quick peek through. She sees that the room is a blood-spattered chamber of horror. Dead rodents, snakes, and birds have been variously nailed, tied, and hung around the walls. Between the two portholes, a large cauldron bubbles over an iron stove set against the bow wall, its stovepipe chimney extending up through the ceiling. A bloody burlap sack sits on the floor next to the stove. The center of the room contains a long, rickety table surrounded by chairs that contain several grisly decorations of a whole family of skeletal goblins, their bones bleached white and bound together by reeds and twine. Vorka is standing right by the door, and it looks as though she is about to undo the latch, swing open the door and cast another spell. Two discarded vials lie at her feet (yes, healing potions). At her side is a hulking, rheumy-eyed, lumbering cur of a dog bigger than most goblins. It is growling and tense and ready to spring through the door. (italicized section from ibid, p. 8)

Reta waves, silently, for everybody to move away from the door.

As the door opens, Chuffy quickly lights his paper candle with a tindertwig and throws it into the galley at Vorka who can be seen within casting a spell.

Drubbus runs past the doorway, and takes a swipe at Vorka with his scythe but doesn’t even come close to hitting her.

Mangy leaps for the doorway and snaps at Vorka as well, but comes no closer to hitting her than Drubbus.

Mogmurch gets a light from Chuffy for his smokestick, which he then tosses through the open door into the galley. The galley quickly fills with a thick puke green smoke.

Poog also lights his paper candle from Chuffy’s tindertwig and throws it into the galley but a little further in.

Vorka, alarmed by the first paper candle thrown at her feet and the smoke backs away from the doorway and continues casting her spell. The length of the casting is in fact beginning to worry Drubbus and Poog who realize that it must be some kind of summoning.

Then Cuddles lunges at Mangy, chomps down on his neck, worries him for a bit and then drops him, dying, to the deck.

Reta climbs down into the galley clinging to the ceiling, only to find that she cannot see because of the thick green smoke that fills it. She scuttles over to the far corner and emerges from the worst of it. She can just see the silhouette of Vorka within the smoke. Reta takes a swipe at Vorka’s head with her dogslicer but only cuts through smoke.

Chuffy, eager to kill Cuddles, attacks the dog with his dogslicer and succeeds in cutting it. At the same time the paper candle he threw explodes, momentarily blinding the dog.

Drubbus tries to hit Cuddles with his scythe but is unable to get a good angle of attack with the doorframe in the way.

Mogmurch, behind Chuffy and the others tries to get a clear shot at the dog in the doorway but in unable. He shouts, “Move move move!” to the others (as inarticulate as any goblin), hoping for a good shot at the dog Cuddles.

Poog unleashes a fire bolt at Cuddles, but it goes over the dog’s head and disappears into the smoky room. His paper candle goes off and Vorka is also blinded but is able to maintain her concentration and continues her spell.

Inside, Reta tries again to hit Vorka and this time draws blood and disrupts her spell casting.

Vorka screeches in frustration, leaps to the ceiling and scuttles away deeper into the smoke away from Reta. Under cover of the smoke she casts another, and shorter spell.

Cuddles bites Chuffy but the latter is protected by his leather armor, this time.

Chuffy takes another fruitless swing at Cuddles, before backing away until he is by Drubbus.

Drubbus finally hits the dog with his scythe, opening up a large gash in its side.

Mogmurch breathes his last gout of flame at Cuddles and finishes off the vicious monstrosity of a guard dog. Mogmurch eyes widen with glee! “Mogmurch toasts the puppy! Oh, isn’t fire wonderful?

Poog sees Cuddles go up in flames and with an evil gleeful grin says, “Nice work Moggyie-Boy!  Now itza Poog’s turn!  Poog dives through the open doorway over the flaming mutt, tucking into a ball he lands in a somersault, rolling up onto his knees sliding into the corner of the room looking up at the ceiling for Vorka, all the while humming a well known globlin battle song, “Dah dah Dah deh Dah dah… deh nah dah… deh nah dah, DAH DAH!” He spots her hanging from the ceiling amidst the smoke towards the back of the galley and unleashes a fireball at her that sets her hair on fire.

Then Reta comes running across the ceiling screaming “Reta kill! Reta kill!” Reta plunges her dogslicer into Vorka who falls, toasted and stabbed, into the stew pot with a loud splash.

The battle over at last, Drubbus bends down and casts stabilize on Mangy.

Reta fishes out then searches Vorka’s body, all the while cackling evilly. She also finds a goblin’s left arm and heart floating around in the stew.

Poog also cast detect magic to see if it can guide him to anything of value but there are no indications of anything magic on either Vorka’s body or in the room.

Mogmurch looks for any shiny things but finds nothing. Seeing through the smoke is difficult, so he opens the portholes wider to let the smoke dissipate. He throws the still smoking smokestick outside.

Reta turns to the bloody burlap bag and dumps its contents onto the deck. As she supposed, the rest of the goblin in the stewpot is now rolling around on the deck, including a uniquely branded face. All turn and consider how Scribbleface’s hideous fate should serve as yet further proof to all that writing words can, in the end, only bring bad luck – or worse!

“Me’s gonna look elsewhere” screeches Reta and she looks for the hold. Poog follows her. Mogmurch follows, eager to find the stash of fireworks (and other goodies). Chuffy follows along with the others, his dogslicer still drawn and ready.

Drubbus cries out in a pathetic wail, eyes wet with tears, “Can’t anyone help me with my poor little Mangy?”

Poog utters some guttural sounds while he clasps a small leather pouch made from the scrotum of a large bull mastiff and filled with his sacred goblin talisman of Zarongel then lays his hands on the poor goblin dog and says, “Healz yooz, arizez and be ready for battlez!”

The air in the main cabin is thick and close, stinking of swamp and sweat, with a thick glistening layer of mud on the floor and swaths of oily fungus clinging to the walls. Even more dangling decorations of goblin bone and animal-part fetishes hang from the ceiling on lengths of sinew here, and what appears to be a nest made of rags, sticks, mud, and cast-off bits of clothing lies against the westernmost wall But scattered amid the filth and clutter are several exotic-looking man-made objects – including a tantalizing red chest. (italicized section from ibid, p. 9)

Mogmurch says “Ooh!  Shinies!” and starts checking out the items in the room.

The majority of the man-made objects are filthy and broken, but 10 minutes of sorting and scavenging turns up some interesting finds. All of these items (broken and functional alike) are strangely decorative, depicting colorful serpentine dragons, towering cliffs, delicate humanoid figures, and strangely ornate towers with large eaves. They all seem to be made of bamboo, exotic wood, and in some cases paper, so they are all going to be a lot of fun to burn! Among the more obviously valuable pieces are 140 gold pieces that don’t look like they were minted in Korvosa, a bejeweled silver and jade lantern built to look like a coiled dragon, a dozen sharp flat metal stars, a long hairpin with a red pearl at one end, and an ivory and gold fan depicting a gecko walking amid cherry blossoms on one side and on the reverse side is a crude map of Brinestump probably drawn by Vorka. Two other items register as magic when Poog uses his spell: a wand and a crystal vial shaped like a heart with some liquid in it. (italicized section from ibid, p. 11)

Reta smiles with delighted greed and pounces on the chest. As Poog is saying, “Lemme scanz it first for magic trapz,” Reta opens it quickly to see what is inside! What she finds is exactly what they were all hoping to find: 14 Desnan candles, 20 paper candles, and seven skyrockets.

Reta gives out a loud screech and points into the chest, “Fires works!”

Toshio

Toshio Izawa is 3rd generation Minkai. He grew up listening to his Opa’s tales of the old country’s heroes, and this had a significant effect on his life, starting him on his current path. Although harder to come by, Toshio prefers the arms and armor of his ancestry, as it strengthens his sense of family identity.

The Izawa family were retainers to Ameiko’s grandfather, Rokuro Kaijitsu, who was one of the founders of Sandpoint about four decades before. Since that time the Izawas have become a kind of minor nobility in their own right, with an estate among the farms south of the town. Toshio’s family has instilled in him a strong sense of duty to the aristocracy and the greater good it serves.

Rokuro’s granddaughter, Ameiko, is a puzzle to him. She clearly doesn’t hold the sense of duty he has, even though she has a greater claim to nobility than he (and, as a result, a greater responsibility than he). He admires her spirit and even envies guiltily the freedom she chooses over the responsibilities of position.

 


Description: Of Tien-Min descent, Toshio has straight, black hair kept helmet-short. Knowing he isn’t a samurai, he doesn’t wear the topknot, as that would be inappropriate. He stands 5 ‘ 9″ tall, 150 lbs. Toned and a bit more muscular than average, his trim build doesn’t make him look like the typical burly fighting type. His skin tone is slightly darker than most Tien-Min, but few who aren’t from that region would notice the difference. His dark eyes might be the darkest blue eyes an observer has seen. However, a closer observer (or when seen in good sunlight) would notice that they are actually deeply violet (purple?). His features, from bone structure to almond-shaped eyes, are nicely symmetrical.

Keng

 


Race: Half Orc
Class: Barbarian
Archetype: Invulnerable Rager (Cold)
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Patron God: Gorum
Age: 17
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 258 lbs
Skin Color: greenish grey – like lichen
Eye Color: blue grey

 


17 years ago a battle oracle of the Shoanti Spire Clan was kidnapped during a raid by orcs of the Blood Trail tribe from the Hold of Belkzen to the west and forced to tell fortunes and be sex slave to the Orc Chieftain and his lieutenants. The rangers of Varisia, fearing that an orc horde was gathering against the Shoanti tribes investigated and were involved in helping to disperse the horde and negotiate a new truce with the help of half-orc negotiators from the “Shattered City” of Urglin. In the course of this, the Shoanti Battle Oracle whose name was Skies Run Red was able to escape her tormentors. She was found by Shalelu but died giving birth to Keng. Shalelu then found a family of half-orcs associated with the Spire Clan who agreed to raise him. Shalelu checked in on Keng over the years and became a mentor to him. Keng has spent his youth wandering with his nomadic clan throughout the Storval Plateau and the Hold of Belkzen. In this time he has participated in the raids and counter-raids frequently engaged in between the Shoanti tribes and the orcs and even between rival Shoanti tribes. During this time he learned to acknowledge (if not exactly worship) Gorum, the Lord in Iron, who is revered by both the Shoanti and the orcs of Belkzen (each of whom believed Gorum is of their race and on their side). Now Keng has decided to strike out for the richer lands of the southwest to visit Shalelu and see if he can make his fortune among the softer folk of the civilized regions of the world. This is what has brought him to the city of Sandpoint.

 

Sacred Tattoos and Trophies

  • Right Bicep: Great Sword stuck through an anvil. (Offensive Charm)
  • Left Bicep: Iron Shield with the Spire Clan crest on it (Defensive Charm)
  • Neck: Surrounding his entire neck like a necklace are Dragon Teeth (Courage of the Dragon Saint Fang Charm)
  • Wrists and Hands: around each wrist is a ring of fire, dripping down to each finger drops of blood. (Blood Hands Charm)
  • Across his entire back: Flames heating an iron kettle pouring molten iron (Fire Elemental Charm)
  • All up and down his arms are scars from training and self mutilation, for every win OR loss he marks it with a cut…
  • He wears the bones of his enemies he has killed in notable battle in his hair as trophies and talismans.