Weealday, 7 Rova, 4707 A.R.
The party met Shalelu at the south bridge at dawn as arranged. It was the third rainy day in a row, and the first chill of autum could be felt in the air. Larissa brought along Lorenzo, a trained guard dog she purchased the previous day, and Charrone rode her light riding horse.
Shalelu brought the party along the Tickwood Road, the same road that Aldern had led the party to the ill-fated boar hunt. At about 8 AM, the party passed the place where they had been ambushed a few days earlier. Shalelu took about half an hour scouting the place, and concluded that the goblins had come from the east—toward Mosswood. This meshed with what the goblin prisoner had told them.
The road led along the north bank of the Turandarok River, with Tickwood to the north. Tickwood Road is less a road and more a path, and the going got a bit slow—the rain from the past two days had made the road very muddy. After two miles, the road followed the river and took a sharp turn south for a bit less than a mile, then turned eastward again. The woods thinned out to reveal a jagged hilly terrain, and the vegetation became much more scrubby. By about noon, the land to the south opened up to farmland, and they could see another dense forest ahead: Mosswood.
The road forked, and Shalelu took the group south toward the river, crossing at Ulm’s Ford. The land was mostly barley fields here, and a quarter mile ahead lay the thorpe of Ulmsford. It wasn’t much of a settlement—just six farm houses fairly close together, with three larger outbuildings (a meetinghouse, a granary, and a large animal barn). The elf led the group to one of the farmhouses, and on the way she told the party that they would be meeting Jed Craditt, who was the one that alerted Shalelu to the goblin presence in this area.
Craditt explained that the goblins had been stealing both vegetables (mostly squash) and livestock—primarily chickens, but three of his dairy goats as well. These thefts indicated a serious financial hardship for the Craditt family. He showed the group where he had seen the goblins.
Shalelu and Halfred checked the area for tracks and determined that there were four riders—two on goblin dogs and two on large wolves. “Probably worgs,” said Shalelu, “I hate worgs.” The tracks came from the north and went away to the northeast. The group followed the tracks, which circled back toward Ulm’s Ford. Crossing the ford, Halfred picked up the trail on the north bank of the river, and saw that they led east along the riverbank. They followed.
The tracks led east about half a mile along a game path through the heavy brush along the riverbank. Shalelu noticed that the tracks then veered north along a different game path. The path led into the southern reaches of Mosswood, and they followed the path for about a quarter-mile. The light began to dim as they entered the forest, and the forest floor was dominated by massive tree trunks with a few smaller trees trying to make their way to the light. In the forest proper, there was little underbrush, and the goblin trail was relatively easy to follow. It turned eastward for about another mile, then sharply southward again.
As the party followed the southern track, two flasks were lobbed at them from the trees next to the path. The flasks broke open and burst into flames, catching Shalelu, Ted, and Halfred! Goblins could be seen in the trees, and from a short distance away, the sound of a signal horn blasted through the forest. Larissa and Shalelu shot the visible goblins out of the trees, and the party then hurried down the path.
About two hundred feet later, the path opened out into a large clearing. At the center of the clearing stood the ruins of a white marble open-air shrine or temple. The columns that had held up the triangular stone roof had long since collapsed, and the roof came down in more-or-less one piece, supported now by the broken remains of the columns. A 6-foot tall wooden rail fence surrounded the temple, forming a rough courtyard around the temple, and the smoke from several campfires rose into the drizzle. Two large tree trunks stood on end, each about eight feet tall, the tops of which were carved to form crude parapets. A goblin archer was visible in each of the parapets. A gate stood between these wooden towers, decorated with a human skull. Behind the fence, the party could see at least a dozen goblins.
“Damn,” said Shalelu, “they know we’re here. It looks like a frontal assault is our only option. We’re outnumbered, but I think we can take ‘em! Let’s go!” She took out her longbow.
A this, arrows from two trees within the clearing shot by party members, and Larissa spotted goblin archers. Ted cast enlarge person on Halfred, who grew to ten feet tall. Halfred then charged one of the archers, and cleaved the goblin’s head with his greataxe. More arrows whizzed by the party from the lair, and a few party members were hit. Larissa and Shalelu returned fire, and the party advanced toward the goblin stronghold.
Suddenly, an area of the knee-high grass and vines that surrounded our heroes animated and grasped at the feet and legs of anyone who was in it! McGreggor, Declan, and Shalelu found themselves greatly hampered by the effect, but everyone else was able to break free. Arrows pelted the party like rain, and the gate swung open. Two riders on goblin dogs rode out. Charrone attempted to charge them, but her horse would not cooperate. The goblin riders then charged her: the riders attacked her with their horsechoppers, and their mounts tore at her horse with their oversized incisors. Charrone fought back, striking one rider out of its saddle, but she and her horse were wounded. She unseated the other rider as well, as the goblin dogs took down her mount. McGreggor and Ted blasted two goblins with magic, and Shalelu continued to fire. A magical orb of fire appeared and rolled toward Shalelu, singeing her slightly. Then two more riders, these on worgs, charged the enlarged Halfred, and six goblin warriors on foot followed. Lorenzo the dog lunged at three of the warriors, but got slashed badly. Outnumbered, the party was pressed back toward the area of the entangle.
Then out strode a much taller goblin, which wore an iron helm and wielded a black metal scimitar that was sized for a human. He laughed, and said in broken Common, “Heh! You longshanks cowards! Me Kneecrusher! We beat you! You no fight, we let you live.” He barked some orders in Goblin, and the goblins stopped their attack, but kept their weapons pointed at the party. The party did the same. Larissa tried to call off Lorenzo, but the dog ignored her, and attacked another goblin, as the goblin dogs continued to fight Charrone. A moment later, Lorenzo was slashed and both goblin dogs were dead. Kneecrusher smiled more broadly, and said, “Give us all your gold, and we back off. You go, we no kill.”
Charrone, no longer under attack, said, “You want our gold? OK. Here’s some gold!” she emptied her coin purse into her hand, and threw a handful of gold and silver coins at a group of six goblins. The goblins dropped their weapons to gather up the coins. At this, Shalelu shouted, “That’s our chance! Go!” In a swift motion, she drew her Elven curveblade and slew one of the goblins distracted by the commotion. Most of the other goblins resumed the attack, and Kneecrusher growled in anger and charged Halfred. Halfred sidestepped the blow and brought his greataxe down on Kneecrusher’s head, splitting it open.
At the sight of their leader slain, the goblins lost courage and attempted to flee, but the party didn’t intended to let them go. In the end, two escaped, two were captured, and the rest of the Toadstool goblins were dead.
Charrone’s horse could not be revived, but Lorenzo the dog was still alive. Summoning the power of Sarenrae, Declan healed the party, including Lorenzo, who regained consciousness, and returned to Larissa’s side.
The group gathered the goblin bodies for burning, and also collected the meager treasure on them. Of most interest was Kneecrusher’s black metal scimitar, and three magical potions found on the shaman.