The Stories of Errath the Bard Chapter 5
The Missing Prequel
I was told this story by Arnost and Guido when we joined up with them.
Arnsot and Guido find themselves on the road between the town of Longreed and Thale Castle, during the month of the Wolf; acting as extra guards and customs inspector for a trade caravan, nobody expects any trouble on the five day journey through scattered farms and rocky hills but historically this has always been a risky route. Being as they were following the coast a lot the weather isn’t too bad for winter.
The first two days travel passes without note as we moved through the swamp lands. There isn’t much out in these lands. Early in the third day, while in the foothills again there is not much here but a few scattered elven ruins hint at a more prosperous age centuries past. We noticed that the weather was changing.
Strangely warm winds carried a subtle scent from the west. A hazy orange light suggests sunset is near, but it’s not even midday as dark clouds twist over the hills. Thiago, the Caravan Master, orders all the wagon drivers to push on in the hope that shelter isn’t too far ahead. A cheer goes up from the lead wagon, and word soon spreads through the caravan that a stead-hold has been spotted.
A small cluster of buildings comes into view in the valley ahead. As the caravan approaches you can pick out a large barn, several two story houses, and some out buildings. Simple plank walls connect the buildings to create a large protected courtyard.
The caravan pulls up to the large gates at the front of the compound and a helmeted head peeks over the walls. You can’t quite make out what Thiago is saying to the person but his dramatic gestures toward the coming storm are unmistakable. After a few minutes of discussion the caravan lurches forward into the courtyard. Wagon drivers quickly get horses loose from their traces and into the barns or any sort of shelter they can find. The homesteaders are in the middle of their own preparations but they take a few minutes to direct the caravaners to the houses. Arnost and Guido, along with Thiago and the higher ranking merchants are ushered toward the largest house.
Inside, the furnishings are simple but well built. The family members are in worn but clean clothes. The man who seems to be in charge of the stead-hold approaches Thiago “We don’t have much, it’ll be a while before the spring crops come in so we’ve just got what’s left of our winter supplies, but we’ll try to keep your folks comfortable while the weather passes.” He says apologetically.
The stead-hold is home to two principle families, the Mabbetts and the Treharne. Elias Mabbett, elderly grandparent, is the patriarch of the stead-hold and his extended family lives in the largest of the houses. The Treharnes live in the other large house and are cousins to the Mabbetts. There are about 20 people who live and work on the stead-hold. They mostly grow food crops for themselves. Surplus beans and ale are cash crops and provide the stead-hold with its limited income. Elias Mabbett is the primary contact between the caravan and the farmers. He is reserved and protective, but has very little to offer.
They overhear Elias directing the younger family members to help prepare for the meal and to gather things their guests might need. The main farm house is well stocked with mundane farm items; baskets, rakes, tools. There is a sword and a mace crossed above the mantle; souvenirs of an ancestor who joined the army. They are of average quality and old in style.
Arnost and Guido begin to smell the food being prepared and the work of securing the caravan for the storm is going well. Everyone has started to gather back at the farmhouses for dinner when Maja, Elias’s eleven year old granddaughter bursts into the main room in a panic.
“They took Peter! Some monsters came and they took Peter!”
Everyone gathers around as Elias tries to calm Maja down and find out what happened. He’s able to learn that Maja and Peter went outside of walls to pick herbs for the visitor’s dinner. They were near the bee hives when some huge monsters jumped out and took Peter. Maja was a short distance from Peter when she heard him scream in surprise, and was able to run away. Although she describes them as ‘huge’, she eventually describes them as big, but not as big as a grown up. Maja doesn’t know what they were, but remembers pointy teeth and weapons. If pushed she says they look like the sword on the mantle. Elias quickly starts shouting for the young men of the stead-hold to gather torches and weapons.
As farmers assemble Caravan Guard Captain Water, Arnost and Guido join them as Elias and a few of the braver farmers, Dale, Zac and Fred lead the party out to the hives where Peter was taken. A rising wind whips over the fields and there’s a damp smell in the air. A misty sleety rain is falling as they approach the hives, which sit at the far end of the fields. Further on are hills with snow on and we could see the tops of dark trees in the distance. The basket that Peter was carrying lies on the ground near the hives. Matted grass shows that a struggle took place, and footprints show that whatever took Peter headed toward the woods.
It doesn’t take us long to work out that the tracks belong to Goblins and maybe a Bugbear as well. The trail enters the Boar Woods and winds through the trees. The soft group makes tracking the goblins easy. It starts to get late and the woods get dark. As the storm gets more intense and snow starts to fall we started to have a hard time making progress and we heard branches or maybe boars crashing in the forest. We decide pushing on to save the boy is more important than resting.
Eventually the trail we’ve been following leads to the remnants of an old road that runs north to south. The tracks clearly head north along the road and soon lead out of the Boar Woods into open rocky hills. We spot a ruin on a hill not far off. The tracks veer off the road and toward the ruins.
The evening is dark and gloomy. The only structure left standing in the ruin we can see is a small stone built dome with an entrance. We notice two goblins about 50’ away walking around with crossbows in their tiny hands.
We discuss what to do, Arnost want to rage and charge the Captain isn’t sure about this and the archers would rather lose arrows at them.
Our load discussion comes to an end as a bolt wizzes past Arnost while the other one hits his left arm slicing across it. We charge.
Arnost reaches the first goblin but his frenzied charge means his hammer blow misses. He is followed by Guido and the Captain who also all miss as they charge into contact. The goblins have drawn and readied their fails by now but fail to contact the attackers.
Arnost smashes the goblin in front of him with his big hammer, while Guido shield bashes the goblin in front of him stunning it.
With a captured Goblin, Arnost shakes off his rage before he kills it and they take a 15 minute break to recover and interrogate the goblin. Fred spends the time trying to summon his sheep dogs it takes him a while but he gets there in the end, maybe they were too far away and took a while to get here, 3 sheep dogs turn up. Zac heals Arnost’s arm or at least bandages it. The goblin eventually tells them that the child is to be sacrifice in the tomb and that there are more than his hands and feet inside. Arnsot thinks he is lying about the numbers. We also ask about the nature of the sacrifice but all the goblin knows is that the priest needs it.
We move other to the domed building the heavy stone doors to the tomb have been broken and shoved aside. The stink of sweat and filth wafts up with the dry air from inside the tomb. We enter and go down the steps, darkness awaits down the stairs into the ruins. Faded carved script, in elvish, is barely visible in the stone above the entrance. From below we hear the occasional sound of goblins talking to each other. We go down 10 steps then forward 5’ before the passage turns right, were we can see a slight glow and the sound of talking is loader, then 5’ then right again. Arnost is in the lead with Guido behind him and the rest following.
From further inside the area you hear chanting or goblin song?
Inside this Offering Room are two large copper bowls. The goblins are using one as a brazier for their campfire and the other as a toilet by the smell. The walls of this room are made of finely crafted pale grey stone. One wall is covered with carvings depicting Elven knights of the Delian Order of Brith fighting chaotic creatures including goblins and their kin.
There are 5 Goblins around the fire cooking and playing bones.
Fred responds and sends the dogs to harass them; Arnost moves in and engages a goblin while Guido moves to the side as he enters. The goblins draw their fails and ready them.
The dogs attack a goblin trying to bring it down; Arnost attacks with his hammer turning it to a bloody paste on the floor; Guido moves up to engage another goblin. The goblins attack Guido missing with his flailing fail Guido parries and knocks the flail 10’ away.
Arnost spats another goblin.
The dogs continue to harass while Arnost move up to the next goblin as does Guido. A goblin manages to hit a dog while another one attacks Arnost missing and Arnost’s parry forces it’s surrender.
The dogs manage to get on top of the goblin pinning it down and Guido stabs it with his spear killing it. The last goblin attacks Arnost again misses and his parry kills it.
Arnost is winded from this fight; he really needs to up his endurance.
The sounds of chanting are clear now. They filter through the ruins of a heavy stone door leading deeper into the ruins. The most perceptive characters in the party can also make out the sounds of a sobbing child. It is clear that the door was broken through recently and that it’s heavy stone construction would have required more strength than a human has to break.
The group led by Guido move past the shattered door and moves into the corridor. Guido steps on a floor slab which moves a little under his weight, this causes a large curved blade to scythe out and hit him full in the chest. Lucky for him he has heavy armour there and although the cut gets through and he starts to bleed it is not too bad. I could do with better perception if I am going to lead he thinks, and where is a scout when you need one.
The passage quickly turns and opens into another room. The walls of this room are made of finely crafted pale grey stone with 6 pillars down the sides. Small niches line the walls. At the far end of the room stands a beautifully crafted statue of an elf paladin in full plate armour but with no sword.
At the foot of the statue is a crude iron cage, which holds the sobbing child Peter. Near the statue at the far end of the room are 3 goblins and one goblin priest. They have their backs to us and are chanting and singing with the priest by the statue.
Arnost, Guido and the Captain move into the room and within 5’ of the goblins Arnost then takes a throwing axe and chucks it at the priest. However his aim is off and he hits one of the goblins in the way killing it dead. The captain moves behind another goblin while Zac lets loose an arrow and drops another goblin. Fred sends his dogs after the priest as Guido throws his spear at the priest ripping his arm off and killing him. The bugbear they have not seen in the corner strikes at Arnost, but not before Dale lets loose an arrow at it which bounces off its helm. The bugbears mace hits Arnost in the back and stuns him with the shock.
Arnsot turns to face the bugbear, even though he can’t attack due to shock. The captain finishes the last goblin with his spear. Fred moves back into the corridor to keep out of the way. Guido moves to attack the bugbear while drawing his sabre as the bugbear attacks Arnost again who manages a parry.
Guido attacks the bugbear catching its right leg and nicking a blood vessel and causing a bleeding wound.
Guido swings his sabre but the bugbear parries with his shield and counters with its mace which Guido blocks with his shield.
Guido now gets two hits on the bugbear without it responding taking off its right leg and killing it.
At the end of this combat Arnost is tired, Guido winded and Fred and Zac winded as well. Dale rushes over to free Peter and calm him down and after a short rest the check the room out. They see that a line of elvish text is carved into the dais that the statue stands on. It reads in each person’s tongue “To keep this, you must first give it to me.”
It takes a few minutes but Guido eventually works out he has to give his ‘Word’. Thinking about the history he knows he decides to say, ‘I will fight for and champion Law and Justice’. As he does he feels a holy power gather around him, sinking through his skin and flesh and wraps itself around his bones. Guido feels a new obligation to champion Law and Justice in the world. [Passion to Law and Justice] As this happens a door behind the statue slides open and cool stale air spills out of a dark doorway.
Guido walks into the dark and enters a room light by a slight glow. A shining Longsword rests on a weapon stand in the centre of the room. Five stone sarcophagi are arranged around the room. The sarcophagi are ornately carved with scenes of the victories of the Delian Order. Guido recognizes this room as a holy place and understands that plundering the room is an act of desecration. He also understands that he is free to take the sword, but nothing else. Guido picks up the sword and feels it talk to him; he knows it is a Delian Edict Blade of Goblinoid Slaying. With this in his hand he leave the room and they all leave to escort Peter home.
As the party approaches the farm they see a large group gathered at the head of the path near the bee hives. Peter rushes ahead of the party into the arms of his family and a cheer goes up. The heroes are welcomed back with great fanfare and a feast is soon cooked up in their honour.