1. Caravan Attack – 26th June 2015
So it was that the group, having successfully escaped the Thunderspire Mountains without further incident, headed towards Fallcrest with their dwarven companions; Ulthand, Hamlet, Mosko and Hanor, hoping to find more of their kin there in order to gather a force large enough to retake their home town from invaders.
It was on this journey that they came across a scene of battle in which a dwarf, an elf and a half-elf were fighting off a hoard of goblins along with a bugbear that appeared to have attacked the merchant caravan they were with. Two of the three wagons were on fire and there were corpses all around, from both sides, though the dwarf looked the worse for wear, whose group was certainly outnumbered for the merchants that were still alive were certainly no help in this fight.
The dwarf mercenaries seemed to recognize the dwarf, who was even now bleeding visibly and seemed determined to help him, and so they rushed into combat, the rest of the group following.
It seemed that their hasty addition to the battle came none-too soon, for the dwarf, Morrak, although grim and determined, was not in a good way, and had two goblin warriors bearing down on him. A lucky strike on the already exhausted dwarf seemed to be too much, for he collapsed to the ground, struggling with consciousness even as the battle renewed itself around him.
The goblins, many of whom had been looting the wagon, ran to get to higher ground to gain advantage with their arrows, though one of them is felled by Corvar before they could reach there. The fight seems to be in their favour, but then Heskan appeared to find one of the goblin warriors especially intimidating and wets himself, perhaps getting flashbacks of the Duregar Keep they had only so recently left.
While the fighting goes on, the half-elf paladin manages to heal the fallen Morrak, who gets up, still bloody, but more than happy to rejoin the fight. Meanwhile Ayanna manages to catch the bugbear with a noose, hauling the huge creature down off the incline. It was quite a sight to be seen, for such a small creature as she is to do such a feat. Likewise the elf of this merchant caravan group turned herself into a tiger and attacks the goblins with such claws of viciousness that it was a surprise that they to did not wet themselves as Heskan had earlier.
The battle continued, with the goblin archers trying to get up onto the higher ground, some of them failing, while the rest were getting picked off one by one by the two groups that were now working together. The merchants meanwhile were having struggles of their own trying to avoid the fighting. The old woman runs into the woods around them, getting lost before she fell into a nearby shrubbery, while the old man was desperately trying to save different goods and belongings from the fire-engulfed wagons.
The group still seemed to be plagued with some bad luck though, for not long after the heroic toppling of the bugbear off the incline, Hamlet, who was by all accounts in an excellent position against the bugbear, manages somehow to miss and hits Ayanna instead, making a tooth go flying. Ayanna was then grabbed by the bugbear strangler. Not long after that Corvar also lost his bow to a goblin who managed, in the middle of battle, to steal it from him.
Thankfully Corvar managed to regain his bow, though it took bluffing the goblin, after two attempts to steal it back failed. Ayanna managed to wiggle out of the bugbear’s grip, though it attempted to strangle Hamlet instead, but instead trips and falls before trying to surrender. It was at this point that Ulthand stepped forth and cast a spell upon the bugbear, revealing the depths of truth about himself. This seems to hurt the bugbear deeply, and he was heard to cry “I thought I was a more complex character!”
The cry seemed to distract a goblin archer who was trying to climb up the side of the cliff, to join the others on the higher ground, and he falls, and badly, breaking his neck. Sufjan capitalizes on this soon after by killing a goblin warrior, while Morrak charges as fast as he can after the other goblin archers and with a surety of someone used to dealing with cliff-faces, scrambles up the cliff to them. Seeing the tide of battle starting to turn against them, and an angry dwarf coming towards them, the goblins archers turn to flee, with one of them breaking their weapon on Morrak’s shin. It seemed to bother the dwarf not at all.
Ayanna, seeming to have remembered her earlier success in stealing from foes, attempts to rifle through the belongings of the bugbear nearby. Through the somewhat foul smelling fur, and little clothing, it became clear to her that the bugbear is carrying no weapons, but does pull off some manner of metal bracelet or potentially a metal cockring. She isn’t exactly too sure where it came from, since the fur is so thick. She makes a mental note to wash her hands.
Not too long after this, the bugbear seems to notice her again, and grabs her. Although both Hamlet and Corvar’s pet dire wolf attempt to attack the bugbear to free her, both of them miss. Poor Ayanna is getting strangled in transit, her gasping breaths heard to those nearby, most of whom try to get to her to help. Ulthand, the dwarven priest, zaps the bugbear, which seems to do a fair bit of damage to the bugbear, then heals Ayanna as much as he can, although he was not able to free her from its grip. Even from a distance it was easy to see the priest was distraught by his action of hurting something.
Amazingly, despite her predicament, Ayanna continued to rifle through the fur of the bugbear, hoping perhaps to find some advantage, but she only found a large, circular, immovable object and a few gold.
Across the road, Corvar aimed a shot, and it flew straight and deadly towards the bugbear. Out of the corner of its eye, the bugbear must have seen it coming, and knowing that perhaps death was imminent, hauled Ayanna around, and used her as a meat shield to block the shot. Poor Ayanna , half strangled and now pierced by an arrow struggles for survival even as Brannoch leaps upon the bugbear, knocking it down, allowing Ayanna to scramble away.
The bugbear, glancing quickly around the battlefield soon came to realize that the tide of battle had indeed turned against him. The goblins were being taken care of with relentless inevitability now, with Sufjan killing one while Morrak and Heskan dealt with others. It attempted to surrender, trying to make them believe it really was all just a misunderstanding, but considering its multiple strangling attempts, it became clear that the group were not falling for that. Seeing few options, it tried to run.
With the goblins being dealt with, the group focused its attacks on the retreating bugbear, seeming to be unwilling to allow it to escape after it’s multiple attacks on Ayanna. Sufjan managed to poison it, while L’arachel also managed some ranged support. Unfortunately Heskan’s bad luck seemed to persist, for he drops his bow, hurting his shin, stumbling. Mosko helps him up again and they fight on even as Brannoch bounds past them to snap at the bugbear.
The bugbear was not defeated yet however, for it grabbed the half-elf Elwen, who had been in spider form, and takes her with him. One might call it an adventure for her, but others, certainly, would call it a worrying predicament.
Ulthand, who had been so distraught about his earlier use of magic to harm others, seemed to see that the only way of saving the life of his travelling companion, was indeed to use his skills once more. A great bolt was cast from his hands to the bugbear before it could do too much damage to her, and it fell to the ground, dead, it’s fur still singed from the blast.
“It is done.”
How many people noticed the weight of his actions upon his soul was debatable. He had saved the half-elf’s life, but at the cost of killing one of the world’s creatures. It sat heavily with him, and he seemed almost in poor health because of it.
The rest of the goblins were killed with ease, and Heskan, perhaps overcome with a spate of insanity, or yet another dragonborn ritual that I don’t know about, decided to teabag the corpses. What a sight to be seen. Indeed, one might wish that one had not seen it at all as he crouched over them saying “Perceive my victory, slain!” Those that saw it decided that it was, sadly, only an average teabagging.
The dubious pleasure of watching Heskan aside, the group saw to helping the old woman out of the bush, and attempting to help the old man retrieve what belongings he could from the burning wreckage of the carts. Their companion, a man of no real visual note, made his reappearance after having disappeared utterly for the entire fight. I could see the group eyeing him warily, for none of their skills had spotted him once the fight began. Was this a man of superior cowardice, or a master assassin? No one could tell.
The group helped heave the only remaining unburned caravan up once more, and thankfully found it relatively undamaged, enough at least that it should survive the trip to Fallcrest. The old couple were overjoyed to have at least their lives and some of their livelihood intact, and gave the group what little they could manage in repayment in the form of three bolts of fine cloth.
It was while the group were still helping to pack the caravan that the half-elf L’arachel started flirting outrageously with most of the members of the ensemble, though steered clear of Morrak, whose steely gaze did not invite such things, the old couple, or of Corvar and Heskan who it seems were not deemed fit to be the recipient of such things. Sadly for her, it seemed not to gain any positive results.
So, after they had rested briefly and seen to the most critical wounds, the dwarves, along with Brannoch helped pull the merchant’s wagon to their mutual destination: Fallcrest.
Fallcrest was a far larger town than they had been used to seeing. It is set among the Moon Hills in the center of the Nentir Vale. It bisects the King’s road about 50 miles from Winterhaven and 60 miles from Harkenwold, and also joins to the dwarven trade road that leads to the Thunderspire mountains 30 miles away.
The city is well fortified, with strong walls on one side and the Nentir river and falls on the other. To the north there is a heavily fortified keep on a rocky hill, with the rest of the city to the south of that. The city is bisected by an extremely steep cliff that rises around 200 feet from the lower area to the upper. The city itself caters mostly to travelers and traders, due to its prominent position on the two major roads in the area. There are farms and small wooded areas out-with the main area of the town.
Successfully making it to the town with no further incident, the group parted ways with the merchants, and headed to the Blue Moon Ale House, for it was owned by dwarves and thus probably the best place to start looking for the people they were seeking.
Ayanna took the time to ask Morrak about crafting something out of the undead arm she had previously stolen and had been carrying around. Unfortunately he seemed unable, or perhaps unwilling to do anything with it.
“I don’t do random crafting of arms.”
Too late in the evening to start the search, they took rooms in the Inn, recovering from deeper wounds and exhaustion, hoping to start the next day fresh.