Moonday 05 Rova, 4707 A.R.
The farewell dinner with Aldern had wound down, and out heroes were finishing their second after-dinner drinks, when an obviously upset woman with two children in tow burst into the barroom. She carried one of the children, who was perhaps not-quite two years old, and was leading a boy of about seven years by the arm. The boy’s other arm was loosely wrapped in a bandage and blood was seeping into it. After scanning the room, she quickly noticed the party and rushed over to their table. “Thank the gods I found you! I need your help! Quickly!”
Charrone and Halfred stood up. The woman continued, “Please— my husband… there’s a goblin in our house, and we need you help now! Please follow me!” Charrone replied, “Well, yes, of course!” and gathered her things. The rest of the party, save Aldern, did the same. “Um… why don’t I stay here and take care of the tab…” said Aldern.
The group followed the woman, who identified herself as Emily Barrett, across town to her house, the children still in tow. The trip took less than two minutes. On the way over, she explained:
“Ever since the goblins attacked the Festival, our son Aeric has been haunted by what he’d seen. He said that he saw a goblin grab our neighbor’s friendly tabby cat by the tail, pour oil over him, then light him on fire, laughing as the poor creature ran off while aflame. He said that the goblin then looked right at him, grinned, then came at him, but then our dog Petal ran to Aeric’s side and started barking at the goblin. The goblin then threw his torch at Petal, then ran away. Aeric just hasn’t been the same since.
“Every night since then, Aeric has cried at bedtime, saying that there was a goblin in his closet. Well, children imagine monsters all the time, so Henry, that’s my husband, would bring in a lamp and check under the bed and in the closet. We also let Petal start sleeping in his room, but Petal seemed to be spooked by the goblins too, and barked quite a lot more than usual. This went on for four more nights, and Henry was getting sick of it. He told Aeric to ‘be a man’ and to ‘stop imagining things,’ because he didn’t see any signs of a goblin. Oh, if only we’d listened to Aeric and to Petal!
“Tonight, Aeric made the same complaint, but Henry told him to quiet down and go to bed. Not five minutes later, we hear Aeric shouting, and Petal barking like mad… but then Petal started whimpering and Aeric screamed out in pain. Henry opened the door to find Petal with a knife stuck in her neck and a goblin on Aeric’s bed, trying to chew off his arm! Henry grabed a poker from the fireplace and chased the goblin back into the closet, and I gathered the children and tried to find a guardsman. When I couldn’t find a guard, I found you! And here we are.”
Halfred, Larissa, and Charrone entered the small cottage. A lamp still burned on the kitchen table, but the house was oddly silent. They crept down the short hallway and opened the first door, which Emily had mentioned was Aeric’s room. Inside, the room was in disarray. A small black-and-white dog, obviously Petal, lay motionless in a pool of blood at the foot of the bed. A man, obviously Henry Barrett, lay sprawled face-down on the floor, his arms and head in the closet. Charrone called out, but the man didn’t answer. Halfred examined the closet, and saw that one of the wide floorboards had been removed and that Barrett’s head was partly in the hole left by the missing floorboard. Charrone examine the body, and saw that he was dead, but still warm. Halfred pulled Barrett’s body out of the closet and rolled him over, and they were all shocked and appalled to see that the flesh of Barrett’s face had been removed— seemingly bitten off!
At that moment, a goblin jumped out of the hole in the closet floor, brandishing a kitchen knife. In the surprise of the attack, he managed to slash Halfred, but Halfred recovered and slew the goblin with one swing of his greataxe. Examining the hole beneath the closet revealed a dirt-floored crawlspace barely 18 inched deep, two feet wide, and about eight feet long— barely large enough to conceal a single goblin. Larissa surmised that the goblin must have been hiding there ever since the festival.
The group left the house with the goblin’s body, and told Mrs. Barrett and Aeric that this goblin isn’t going to trouble anyone else again. Mrs. Barrett then asked about her husband, and Charrone broke the news that the goblin had killed him. Mrs. Barrett then became completely distraught, wailing loudly, attracting the attention of both neighbors and guardsmen. Larissa pressed some gold into her hands to help her get along, and two of her neighbors came over to assist. Ted offered to hire somebody to clean up the mess in Aeric’s room, but the neighbors said that they would take care of it. “Really. You’ve done enough hero-ing for one day,” said a neighbor while taking the baby. “If only you could have been a bit quicker with it…”
The group then left the Barrett family to the care of their neighbors and returned to their lodgings. Charrone returned to the Dragon for a chat with Aldern, warning him not to travel by himself. Aldern seemed not terribly concerned for his own safety, but promised to hire a couple of sell-swords for his return trip to Magnimar.