A2. A Mother’s Work…

Session Date: May 20, 2019 (continued)
Effective Character Level: 1

A Daring Decoy

Back at their Warrens, Glib’s plan for outmaneuvering the local bounty office was both bold and bizarre.

“A decoy cave! We’ll use Plox’s abilities to cover up the entrance to our Warrens here, and build a fake goblin cave some distance away. The map on that scroll isn’t that detailed; I bet we’d fool everyone!”

Ogsa stared quizzically at the wanted poster, with its crude drawing. She scratched her head with one hand; with the other, she continued to press rat milk cream into butter. (The churner was so often used, and the brood mother so strong, that iron rails had been nailed around the outside to reinforce it.)

“Well, you three do what you feel is best, then. I’ll hold down the fort here while you’re gone.”

Conferring quickly together, Glib and Flinger recalled where a section of the cliff had broken off and created a shallow recess, further up the slope. It didn’t lead further than 50 feet before it narrowed to nothing, which explained why it hadn’t been used. However, from the outside, it could pass as a very convincing goblin cave.

Using his ability to mold earth, Plox buried the entrance to their actual Warrens, disguising it as part of the hillside. Then, carrying Nak’s body on a sled fashioned from rotted rope and several wooden boards, they made for the crevice. The sun was already hanging low in the sky, and they wanted their decoy prepared for any nighttime visitors.

As luck would have it, someone (or something) had recently used the space between the mountain and the rockslide to toss some refuse.

Items acquired: Hemp bag + nails, whetstone, dead skunk.

As they surveyed the area, a somewhat more nuanced plan formed in Glib’s tiny mind. First, he placed Nak’s body inside the crevice and covered it with rocks. Then, he arranged what garbage they weren’t using among the rubble. Anyone happening upon the cave might interpret the mess as the remains of the real Goblin warrens–that they had been killed in the landslide itself. With a little bit of luck, the bounty on their home might be called off, without any more goblins being killed.

Plox and Flinger also helped to arrange fake defenses. First, they tore up the wooden planks from their sled and hammered the newly-acquired nails into them. Once placed just inside the cave’s entrance, the boards became makeshift caltrops.

Glib also suspended a log ram to the side of the entrance, strung up from the cliffside by ropes. To the glancing eye, it would seem to be a poorly-hidden ward against intruders.

Fighting Fire with Fire

As the sun set, a trampling sound moved up through the trees below them. It was a heavy crashing sound, as of two humanoids in full plate armor stumbling through the underbrush. An artificial glow emanated through the leaves, and the goblins realized they had maybe twenty minutes before their foe reached the decoy.

“Change of plans!” Glib declared. “We have a good place that we can fight from, and we have traps already laid. We’re going to kill them here!”

With the few minutes remaining, the three goblins scurried inside the recess. They greased the rock floor on the other side of the caltrops and smeared it down-slope, ending at the bottom of a ten-foot dirt platform Plox had made. Finally, they huddled together in the dark on the platform, pushed together by the sloping sides of the rock walls.

It wasn’t long before the flat glow could be seen outside the cave entrance. Two voices spoke.

“Look at that. A roped log, out in the open, where everyone can see it. Is that supposed to be some kind of trap?”

“Definitely goblin work. No subtlety at all. I’d be ashamed if I were the bumpkin that put that up.”

“This must be the place, then. Let’s go in and clear it out.”

Distracted by the “obvious trap,” the paladin of Pelor failed to notice the nails awaiting his feet. Hopping and cursing in sudden frustration, he slipped on the grease immediately afterwards and slid towards the three awaiting goblins.

Readied for this moment, Plox used their new tinderbox to light the oil still in his lantern. He dropped the fiery package onto the grease below him. The oil slick took fire instantly, and the paladin was engulfed in small but persistent flames.

Glib and Flinger responded in kind, sending javelins and darts into the prone figure from the relative safety of their perch.

The two intruders were quick to respond. Standing up, the paladin pointed his fingers at the miscreants, and the goblins felt their focus plummet.

The cleric of St. Cuthbert, still near the entrance, unleashed three bolts of fire from her outstretched hand. Each slammed into a separate goblin, knocking the wind from them and charring their skin.

Through his pain, Plox could see that their onslaught had made its mark. The paladin staggered, bloodied, preparing a spell to heal himself. Plox emboldened his wooden club, leaped down upon the holy defender, and beat the paladin’s skull in.

Nearby, the cleric’s resolution faltered.

“I may be righteous, but I’m not stupid,” she suddenly declared, turning to flee. However, in her haste to escape, she slipped on the grease nearest the cave entrance and fell face-first onto the nails, knocking her unconscious.

The three goblins quickly piled upon the body, ensuring the cleric never made another mistake again. Then they searched the bodies.

Fortune was with them.

Items acquired: Metal can of gunpowder, glass bottle of acid, pouch of ball bearings.

A Mother’s Work…

The three goblins returned triumphantly to their home, singing shrill goblin victory songs as they went. They’d left the bodies of the paladin and cleric at the goblin decoy cave, to make it appear they’d fallen in battle, clearing out the target. Now, they only needed to lay low until the bounty itself was awarded or recalled.

Or so was the intent.

Those plans fell to pieces when they’d returned to their true Warrens. The dirt that Plox had carefully laid over the entrance had been hewn out by some rough force.

Inside, there were no sounds of babes or toddlers. In fact, it was all quiet–too eerily quiet.

The three goblins rushed into their home to find a scene of chaos and murder. There were bodies of infants strewn everywhere–across the floors, against the walls, even in pieces.

Dashing in a panic from room to room, the three goblins managed to find one still alive–Ogsa, the brood mother herself. She stood tall with her butter-churner held like a weapon. Blood, guts, and brain matter dangled from its iron-riveted end.

“Oh great,” the brood mother mouthed, upon seeing the returning goblins, “you made it back alive.”

“Yeah, we fought a cleric and a paladin and we won! But what’s going on here? Are there enemies here?”

“Yeessss,” Ogsa said, her eyes narrowing perceptibly, “but I’m almost finished cleaning up. There’s only a few left now.”

“How many?”

Ogsa carefully counted the goblins before her. “Looks like three.”

“Really?” Glib’s eyes lit up in excitement. “Where are they?”

Ogsa glared evilly. “Right in front of me.”

Ogsa hefted her butter-churner-turned-warhammer and advanced towards the stunned, gaping Glib.

Then, snapping out of his surprise, the tiny goblin snatched the canister of gunpowder they’d looted from the paladin, lit the cloth on the outside with his tinderbox, and threw it as hard as he could.

The blast caught Ogsa square in the chest and staggered her backwards. Though he dodged most of the damage, Glib still felt his eardrums burst.

Ogsa merely shrugged off the damage. A fiery rage entered her eyes; and she swung her butter-churner, hitting Glib across the temple.

“My mother was a hobgoblin! I grew up with the army!” she roared in fury. “Yet here, I’ve been nothing more than a the colony’s mare! I was meant for more!”

Staying out of Ogsa’s mighty reach, the other two goblins too entered the fray. Flinger sank his metal darts into the brood mother’s flesh, and Plox entangled her with his magical roots. However, Ogsa merely flexed her gigantic muscles and burst from their grasp.

The goblins arranged themselves carefully around Ogsa, attempting to bring down their new foe, while still staying out of her reach.

“I could never leave these Warrens! As long as they still stand, King Blort will never let me go! He’d chase me down and bring me back in chains!”

A sudden thought forming in his pounding head, Glib called out into the rest of the Warrens. “Nob! Are you still out there? Please tell me you’re still alive!”

As pure luck would have it, Nob was still alive. When he’d heard the infanticide begin in the nursery above, he’d squeezed as far into the shadows of the mushroom farm as his tiny body could crawl. There, he’d shivered in terror, until Glib’s voice has broken fear’s hold upon him.

His courage renewed by the return of his friends, Nob grabbed both his sickles and leaped to the rope ladder, to join the fray.

“That’s why I had to take out that bounty on our Warrens! Don’t you see? That was the only way I could be free!”

The three goblins gasped in sudden, horrified epiphanies. (Goblins could be clever, but they weren’t always “smart.”) Ogsa’s confession neatly explained how the bounty office had obtained a clear, if imprecise, map leading directly to where they lived.

Ogsa and Glib, both held in the grips of their separate furies, swung their weapons at each other simultaneously.

Glib tossed the vial of acid they’d garnered directly in the face of the frenzied Ogsa.

In return, the brood mother brought her butter-churner directly down on top of the poor goblin, smashing him into an instant pulp.

Alas. Rest in pieces, poor Glib.

Horrified at the bloody ruins of the nursery around him, and aghast at the death of Glib before him, Nob hurled himself headlong into the fray. His two sickles stabbed upwards into Ogsa’s back, letting loose a gush of blood.

Surprised by this sudden addition, Ogsa staggered and spun. Her weapon caught Nob in the midriff, punching the air from his lungs and dashing him into a nearby wall.

Seizing the opportunity, Flinger and Plox both dove onto Ogsa, lancing her with their darts and wooden club. Already weak from the coordinated assault, the hulking brood mother finally succumbed to the blows. As she sank to her knees and the light faded from her eyes, Plox thought he could hear her last, pitiful words.

“Free…at last…”

When all was finished, at last, the three remaining goblins surveyed the sad wreckage that they had once called home.

“No one must know what happened here,” Flinger declared. “If King Blort finds out about this, he’ll kill us simply out of spite.”

“I feel like this is our calling to become adventurers!” Nob declared. “I’ll disguise myself as a halfling and become a merchant. Maybe I’ll even take this badger that Nak found, train it to urinate on command, and then sell it to the first passing kobold salesman I find.”

“That sounds oddly specific, but okay.”

“Disguise sounds like a good idea,” Flinger declared. “Maybe I can travel the circuit as a ‘halfling’ circus dart thrower.”

“And I’ll track down the druid that healed my father,” Plox decided. “He was, after all, the reason I became one myself.”

And so, the goblin party said their last goodbyes and parted, each going their separate ways. Some would seek their fortune among the humans and humanoids, while others would stick to the forested lifestyle they knew best.

Where they would finally end up, only the gods could say. But whatever their fates proved to be, they would be glorious in a way only a goblin could achieve.

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