(September 10th, 2016) – Today’s session begins with the players celebrating their recent adventuring success at the Wizard’s Rod, the inn and tavern in the village of Elmarch. The the inn is full of patrons, drinks are flowing, and laughter abounds. Above the noise and chatter Algiz picks up on a sound from the floor above. Was that a muffled scream? Followed by a thump? The second floor houses the inn…it could be anything or nothing at all. Curiosity peaked, Algiz strolls over to the staircase to listen.
Upon reaching the base of the staircase Algiz listens more closely, but whatever the noise was he doesn’t hear anything further. He decides to wander back over to his friends and order another round of drinks. Seagold hits on the barmaid but gets only a smile in return as she walks by. The players chatter is interrupted again, this time by a pounding sound, as if someone is driving nails into wood. Seagold and Florian don’t seem much to care, but Algiz rises from his chair and again walks over to the staircase. This time he begins to climb the stairs.
About halfway up, the stair beneath his foot lets out a loud creak. As an immediate result of the sound he hears a quick shuffle of feet and the closing of door from above. He continues the climb to the top of the stairs and steps into the hallway and then a few steps down. Algiz hears the sound of a sword being withdrawn from a scabbard from the closed door on his right. He steps past the door and waits quietly. After a brief time the door opens as if someone is peeking out, and then closes once again.
Algiz walks further down the hallway checking various doors along the floor but finds nearly all of them locked. He does find a door unlocked across from the room that someone peeked out of. Looking in he sees and open window with a grappling hook attached to the base of it. He returns to the door across the hall and knocks. Suddenly the door is kicked open! Algiz quickly jumps back and avoids getting hit by the door as it flies open. Out steps a solitary Goblin into the hallway.
Meanwhile on the first floor Seagold and Florian, oblivious to what is happening upstairs, continue to enjoy the evening. The sound of shattering grabs their attention as a lantern crashes through a front window spewing oil and flames on the floor. Laughter is replaced by startled screams. Florian walks over to the fire and dump the remainders of his pint onto what is obviously a growing and dangerous fire. The ale only causes the oil to spread the flames even further. Seagold runs upstairs to warn Algiz. Florian walks to the front door with the intention of looking outside, but realizes the door will not open.
Just as Seagold reaches the top of the steps and turns turns to look down the hallway, Algiz unleashes a Guiding Bolt on the Goblin causing it to explode leaving nothing but a smoldering set of ratty boots on the floor.
Downstairs another lantern crashes through a window and bursts into flames. Now the patrons are in full panic mode, running in different directions, and attempting to escape. Many run towards the front door unaware that it can’t be opened. Florian runs to his left, leasps into the air, and crashes through the nearest window. He lands in a forward roll and springs back to his feet. Looking around he sees no immediate threat, however in all directions he sees smoke. Elmarch is burning.
Upstairs Algiz quickly explains to Seagold what has transpired with the Goblin. Seagold warns him of the fire downstairs but Algiz is insistent on investigating further. Entering the room the Goblin had been in he sees the deceased body of a male Elf laying in reddened bath water. Outside the room Seagold hears the creak of a door to his right. Another Goblin emerges.
Seagold draws his short sword, takes the initiative, and strikes the Goblin with a glancing blow to the chest. The Goblin returns a stroke that Seagold parries to the side.
Outside Florian guides the people through the window and to safety. He draws his longbow and moves around the front of the burning inn cautiously.
Upstairs Algiz exits the room and heads in the direction of the combat. Seeing the Goblin he calls down the Sacred Flame. Seagold being in the way makes the spell target too difficult and the Goblin sidesteps the descending radiant light. Seagold takes another swipe at the Goblin but this time it’s the Goblin who parries aside the strike. The Goblin counters and lands a blow to the thigh of Seagold.
Algiz attempts another Sacred Flame, but the hallway is too tight and the angle too challenging. Again the Goblin sidesteps the radiant light. This time Seagold times the sidestep perfectly and slices through the Goblin’s arm and into his body, killing him.
Smoke pouring up from the fires below; Algiz and Seagold continue to search. Stepping into the room behind the fallen Goblin, the see another open window with a grappling hook. Not wanting to risk getting caught in the fire, Seagold and Algiz head out the window and climb the rope to the ground below.
Out in front of the burning inn, Florian spots two Goblin Wolf-riders diagonally across the street. One of the riders tosses a lantern onto the building to his right causing the roof catch fire from the burning oil. Florian fires his longbow at the Goblin who threw the torch striking him in the chest. The Goblin falls backwards off the saddle and tumbles to the ground but is not dead. The riderless Wolf continues running off. The second Goblin brings his Wolf around and begins moving in Florian’s direction while pulling his bow from around his back. Seagold and Algiz spot the Goblin heading towards Florian as they round the the front of the house. They loose an arrow and a crossbow bolt respectively but both miss their mark. The Goblin, having retrieved his bow, fires an arrow which cuts Florian along the side of his head.
Florian fires an arrow back in return. He’s rattled from the arrow that sliced through his scalp and misses high. The Goblin is now in full charge from the back of his Wolf. He throws his bow aside and draws his scimitar for a wide swipe. Florian ducks under the swing and the Goblin passes by. The other Goblin climbs to his feet and begins to move in Florian’s direction. Algiz fires a crossbow bolt at him but misses. Seagold fires an arrow striking the Goblin in the back and he goes down for good this time.
Florian draws his short sword lands a solid blow on the remaining Goblin Wolf-rider. The Goblin strikes back and lands a light hit. Seagold fires an arrow but again misses. Algiz calls down the Sacred Flame, but the Goblin is moving too fast.
Florian thrusts his short sword deep into the ribs of the Goblin, skewering him off the Wolf and ending the battle. The Wolf scampers off and out of sight.
The group hears the sounds of fighting in all directions. They move northeast and are immediately set upon by two additional Wolf-riders. Florian takes the initiative and uses his bow, nicknamed “Johnson”, to fire an arrow at the nearest of the two riders. Unfortunately he leads the Wolf too much and misses the rider barely. Algiz fires his crossbow at the same Wolf-rider, but his bolt lands dead center in the Goblin’s chest. The Goblins falls off the back of the Wolf and tumbles dead along the road. Seagold fires his bow at the remaining Goblin but the Goblin catches it on the shield. The Goblin Wolf-rider charges forward, drawing his bow, and firing on Algiz. The arrow avoids the armor and sinks deep into Algiz’s shoulder.
Florian draws his bow back for another shot, but the string gives way and snaps, rendering the bow useless. Algiz uses a bonus action to cast a Healing Word spell on himself and follows up with a crossbow bolt shot. The bolt buries itself into the calf of the Goblin rider who lets out a screech. Seagold fires an arrow and the distracted Goblin is unable to defend. His body goes limp and tumbles from the back of the Wolf to join his dead comrade on the ground.
Smoke is becoming thick and heavy in the village. The sounds of battle and struggle are everywhere. The group sensing the situation is dire begin to dash forward in order to cover more ground. They are nearing the northern bridge when they see a horse and rider coming across through the thickening haze. As it gets closer it is revealed as a Hobgoblin atop the mount. Florian, having picked up a short bow from a dead Goblin to replace his own broken bow, attempts to fire an arrow at the approaching rider. His unfamiliarity with the grip and weight causes him to fumble the bow and miss his opportunity to fire. The Hobgoblin continues to move forward and fires his bow from horseback. The arrow sails harmlessly past Florian, the intended target. Algiz fires his crossbow at the Hobgoblin, and the bolt slices through the air and buries itself into his eye socket. The Hobgoblin’s body stiffens in shock, then goes limp as it falls from the horse and onto the ground.
The players search the body of the Hobgoblin and find a few silver pieces but nothing else of value. As they once again survey the scene two more Goblins emerge from across the bridge. Florian fires his bow at one of the Goblins but misses. The Goblins return fire with their short bows. The first fires wide but the second find his mark. Florian crumples to the ground, an arrow having punctured his armor and pierced his chest. Seagold fires an arrow at one of the Goblins, but low it finds only the wood planks of the bridge. Algiz fires his crossbow hitting the closest Goblin in the belly. The Goblin drops to his knees and falls face first on the wooden planks of the bridge.
Florian gasps back to consciousness and pulls the arrow from his chest. The remaining Goblin, not liking the odds sprints off the bridge and to cover behind a building to his left.
Having lost site of the last Goblin, the players move north and east around the building in pursuit. As they round the building their quarry is not there but rather another Wolf-rider who is coming directly at them. Florian gulps a healing potion, tosses the vial aside and quickly fires an arrow. The arrow misses its mark. Seagold fires an arrow at the approaching Goblin striking him in throat. The Goblin releases the reigns as it grasps at its throat and falls to the ground dead. The Wolf continues charging forward at the players. Algiz calls down the Sacred Flame but the fast moving work avoids the spell.
Florian fires an arrow and the Wolf and connects, but the Wolf is still coming forward. Seagold looses an arrow but misses high. Lunging it bites down on Florian’s arm with crushing force. Algiz fires his crossbow catching the Wolf on the soft underbelly. The Wolf releases his grip on Florian’s arm, squeals, and falls onto its side.
The group has a chance to flee the town but runs further east and rounds a building to see a pitched battle taking place. A handful of Goblins are engaged with a group of townspeople. The group decides to join the melee with Seagold firing an arrow at the surprised Goblins, His shot is off the mark and sticks harmlessly into a nearby building. Algiz fires his crossbow and drops one of the Goblins. Florian rounds the building from the opposite side and attempts to fire an arrow, but fumbles the loading action and is unable to fire.
Algiz takes the initiative and quickly fires another crossbow bolt but this time the Goblins are ready for it. The targeted Goblin raises his shield and soaks up the shot. One of the Goblins fires an arrow at Seagold and finds his mark. Seagold is stuck grievously and collapses to the ground. The second Goblin targets a villager but has his swing parried. A third Goblin feints an overhead swing but shifts to a thrust, running the villager through and killing him. The remaining villager thrusts his spear forward and skewers his Goblin adversary. The Goblin falls to the ground dead. Seagold is bleeding out. Florian fires his bow and lands a good shot but the Goblin remains on his feet.
Algiz fires another crossbow bolt but fails to strike his target. The Goblin disengages and begins to retreat. The villager steps back and does not pursue. Seagold’s condition worsens. Florian fires another arrow at the disengaging Goblin and this time takes him down.
Another Goblin emerges from the shadows and joins the melee. Algiz takes the opportunity to stabilize the fading Seagold. Florian rushes closer to the group and looses an arrow on the new adversary killing him in his tracks.
The villager moves to Seagold, drops to a knee, and places a hand on his head. His hand is bathed in golden light. Seagold’s wounds heal significantly. The stranger yells to the players “Quickly! We have to move towards the hill, they are on the hill!“. The group moves in a fast pace towards the hill on the southwest side of the town. Algiz asks the stranger his name and he replies “Mozi“. As they move in the direction of the hill it gets noticeably darker outside and the smoke is even thicker. Pressing forward the smoke clears a bit and the players are able to see the hill. The hill is occupied by a large group of more than twenty. Two on horseback stand out above the others, a Bugbear with a reddish-brown hide and a Hobgoblin with a deep red skin tone. They stand in the midst of Goblins and Hobgoblins. The Hobgoblin on horse back raises his hand and the group around him lowers their weapons.
The players stand at the ready but neither point their weapons in the direction of the horde nor make any offensive moves. The Bugbear on horseback scowls at the players. The red Hobgoblin looks over to his right and nods his head. Two Hobgoblin emerge from the group dragging the body of a dead Bugbear. The players recognize this Bugbear as the one they encountered and killed in the Cave of Shade. The Hobgoblins unceremoniously drop the body to the ground. Florian yells to the leader “You’ve made your point! You’re surrounded, now get the heck out of here!“. The Hobgoblin chuckles and says “You don’t have the place surrounded, I have the the place surrounded.” Turning his head to the left side he nods again. Two more Hobgoblins emerge from the pack dragging another body. This one is still alive however, and the player’s hearts sink when the recognize Darcaryn. The Hobgoblin proclaims “You took one of mine, I take one of yours.” He nods his head one more time and one of the Hobgoblins cuts Darcaryn’s throat and tosses him to the ground.
The players are shocked but outnumbered and helpless. Mozi says quietly “Well lads, I think they have the advantage here. I think we should flee.” The players debate and decide to ask the Hobgoblin if they might retrieve the body of their mentor. He agrees and Algiz and Seagold, in spite of Mozi’s protestations, retrieve Darcaryn’s body. The Hobgoblin’s forces do not attack, instead they turn and head out from the village.
The players head back into the smoldering town to properly bury their old friend. The villagers vow to pick up the pieces and to rebuild their homes. Elmarch will rise again and continue the work of Darcaryn.
Homemade braised shredded-beef tacos in a corn shell with tequila-lime slaw. Heineken, Corona, and a few craft beers were the drinks of choice. Later in the evening Dude broke out The Macallan 12 year.
With Elmarch in ruins, what will be the players next step?