About lunch time
We pick up our story in the cavern which was the site of the vanquishing of Quarg* and his pet wolf.
Our intrepid quintet begin by completely forgetting that there had been a human captive here, and don’t think therefore to question where they’d taken off to. Instead they happily prepare to wander off having seemingly also forgotten that there was a bunch of loot in here too. So a gentle reminder is needed in order to actually look for it.
There follows, naturally, a bout of polite conversation debating who gets what from the pile of spoils, during which the rogue steps up and pockets the jade frog statue with golden orb eyes. And without even so much as a thank you. The rest of the group collectively tuts and rolls their eyes. Rogues, eh? What are you going to do?
Eventually, after the copper and gold pieces and other “supplies” are distributed between them by the mystical power of the DM, they set off in search of a new challenge, and stroll cheerfully into yet another cavern. Occupied by four** goblins. And a human captive. Is that another one or the same one? They all look alike so it’s hard to know, but they don’t bother to ask.
What happens next is a bit of a blur. Not because it played out so quickly – there was much deliberation about what to do and to which goblin in particular – but because there was a lot of attempted activity but not much actual combat. The band knew there was a leader among the goblins but, for whatever reason, decided to attack whichever happened to be closest/in line of sight.
A couple of axe blows were landed, spells cast, and at least one arrow launched in the approximate direction of the leader, to no effect whatsoever. Fortunately the goblin retaliation wasn’t entirely efficient either, so there was an opportunity for the adventurers to have another go at the little trouble-makers.
The second round of engagement, now at close quarters due to both groups having charged at each other, turned into a comical bout of swinging, casting, and screaming and somehow ended with half of the goblins sleeping soundly from one particularly innocuous sounding spell, but also one of their own having been very nearly eliminated by friendly fire. The guilty party knows what happened but didn’t make much of an attempt to fess up. Rogues, eh? Sigh.
When the echos of screams had faded and the dust cleared, the goblin leader, now severely injured but obviously still very mobile, had grabbed the human captive, hauled them up onto a ledge-of-some-description and threatened to drop them if the amateurs didn’t agree to a truce.
There was mumbled debate about whether or not to acquiesce, based mostly upon trying to figure out if the drop was really high enough to kill the human in the event that the decision was made to ignore the leader’s demands. Eventually, being a generally-on-the-good-side kind of outfit (four fifths were anyway) it was agreed that the goblin’s terms should at least be heard.
It transpired that the goblin leader had the idea that they wanted to run the whole area, and that Quarg (remember, from the previous cavern) was the only obstacle to that happening. If the adventurers were to slay the beast and return with his head, the captive human would be freed unharmed.
Again they consulted, weighed options, and arrived at a decision. Then, wearing their best not-at-all-indicating-that-the-“beast”-had-already-been-dispatched poker faces, agreed to the trade. One of the humans wandered back into the darkness, alone, and whistling merrily, to retrieve the dead thing’s noggin.
From somewhere in the darkness, “screams”, “grunts” and “clashes of steel on steel” drifted into the cavern as the rest of the group waited, awkwardly picking lint from their armour and tracing lines in the dirt with their boots, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact, until eventually the fifth adventurer returned swinging the obviously hastily removed head.
Upon seeing that Quarg had been dispatched, the goblin leader upped the ante by demanding that, in addition to the head, 200 gold pieces should also be provided to secure the exchange.
This was just unsporting as far as the group was concerned, and while four of them huddled to discuss tactics, deceptions, or a plain old no-nonsense frontal assault – none of whom were much convinced would be successful – the rogue, maybe driven by guilt from nearly exterminating one of their own party, decided to invoke a sly and stunning double bluff on the leader, and as they handed over the bag of gold somehow switched it in plain sight with a very sharp and effective dagger. Fortunately their aim was true and the leader, already close to death from their initial exchanges of “aggression” succumbed quickly to the blade and fell heavily, for a goblin, to the floor and lay dead.
The remaining goblins, now all awake – except the dead one – and very much enraged by a deception perhaps even more dastardly than they themselves would have been capable, leapt once again into a fighting frame of mind. And once again weapons swung, frequently through the spaces where the goblins weren’t, until skill or luck (but mostly luck) eventually sided with the intrepid band and the goblins were slain, some even in more parts than they had originally been.
The adventurers surveyed the scene, seemingly pleased with a job well done, but most were obviously inwardly thanking their lucky stars that somehow they were all still sucking air and generally in the correct number of pieces. Except one who they were pretty sure was just thinking about their jade frog.
*This may not be the correct name. Time plays tricks with the mind.
**Honestly, my memory isn’t what it used to be. But then again, I supposed it shouldn’t be.