Dungeon Delving Part 5: Hitting The Town (Among Other Things…)

Elessana, Maghana, and Garrick return to the camp in a state of uproar. Whatever is going on, Eogred is not happy about it.

“…is NOT what we signed up for! That boy is going to get us all killed!” He seems to be saying, pointing a finger at Tomlain. Beleg squares off against the ranger.

“Imagine if we could teach him how to control it though! Think of the power he could wield! He wouldn’t need to be afraid any longer, none of us would!” He says, not trying to conceal his excitement. Tomlain seems to be standing off apart from the group, staring at the ground as if he’s attempting to sink into it. “Magnys, back me up!”

The druid shakes his head and laughs. “Oh hell no! I’m not going out caught up in some kid-explosion, we’ve got to get rid of him!”

Upon inquiring just what the hell is going on, Elessana learns of the events prior to her arrival; the revelation of Tomlain’s powers as one touched by Wild Magic, his inability to control said powers, the real reason for his expulsion from his father’s kingdom. “…so you see why we’ve got to get rid of him. No offense kid, but this job’s not worth my neck.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? Tomlain’s just a kid, he needs our help. We’re the only people he’s got right now!” Elessana says, planting her foot down. She draws a nod from Rhai, who takes a place next to her. Maghana however, retains a cool distance. She assesses her companions wordlessly, and anything could be going on behind the tiefling’s eyes.

The party spars back and forth over what they should make of the young prince’s fate, when finally Garrick speaks, a strange set in his jaw, his tone of exasperation beyond the range of his slowly recovering vitality.

“This. Is. Absurd! All of you! Elessana is right, this boy has nobody, he’s been banished from everything he knows, we must show some compassion! Leave him if you will, run off, I’m staying with him!” He bursts.

“People who say that seem to end up dead around him.” Eogred says darkly.

“Have you forgotten how we got into this mess godsdammit? We’re not on a job, we’re exiled, outlawed– Tomlain is the only thing keeping all of us from the gallows. If you decide to go your separate ways I can guarantee you someone will report back to the king and he will not be so lenient a second time! And I’m very much mistaken if Dryllm wouldn’t be interested in collecting the prince to run their own experiments on him. We need to stay together and keep each other safe or we are all dead, do you get it?”

The debate dies down, nobody able to satisfactorily rebut this point, though you can still see the mistrust behind Eogred’s eyes. Magnys keeps a careful distance from the boy, but ultimately there is no further talk of leaving.

Changing the subject, Elessana brings the group up to speed on the missing people in town as told by the innkeeper. She suggests the group look into it, leading with the reward money by way of incentive as she doesn’t think “because it’s the right thing to do” would fly with all of them. After some back and forth the gang eventually decides in favor of helping the town with their goblin problem for various moral and financial reasons.

Eogred and Maghana go scouting in search of the goblins’ camp to determine the strength of what they’re up against, leaving the rest behind at the camp with the express instruction of keeping Tomlain out of trouble. They report some time later that the camp is in a small rocky outcropping among the tall grasses, there’s cover in the form of sparsely growing trees and the odd fallen log, so a sneak attack would be problematic. As they put their heads together, they’re interrupted by a voice they haven’t heard all afternoon; Tomlain.

“I could cause a diversion.” He looks around at their faces with uncertainty. “If I were to let them take me, or something.”

“Don’t be stupid.” Eogred dismisses, returning to the group discussion.

“Hey, you were right! I am dangerous, you think I don’t know that? I’m not stupid, I know what I risk whenever I’m around someone, but I want to help. I think if aimed in the right direction, I could be just the right amount of dangerous. I want to prove to myself that I’m not just some… some monster. I want to help.” He speaks shakily, but there is conviction there, buried deep. The group decides that, as the goblins are slavers, Tomlain shouldn’t be in any great danger if he were to be taken, however there is some resistance to the idea still by the time the group decides to give it a try.

Eogred and Maghana wait till nightfall and approach from the south, finding hiding places with a sufficient vantage to make sure the plan goes smoothly. Eogred crawls into a hollow log, however as he does so, one of the goblin lookouts turns to face their direction as Maghana trips over the log. She has the good sense to stay down, pressing against the earth in the tall grass, however the goblin lookout remains vigilant.

The rest of the goblin camp however, tear their attention off their revels, enjoying the spoils of their latest haul, to the new arrival that  comes alone from the north. From a distance, Eogred watches as Tomlain tries to look convincingly lost and helpless as the goblins descend on him gleefully. He’s caught around the ankles by the first goblin and is knocked to the ground while another stands on his chest, holding his chest as another begins to bind his hands and feet, not believing their luck.

Here goes nothing, Eogred thinks to himself as he watches. Suddenly, there it is. From under the pile of goblins there is a flash of purplish light and he sees Tomlain’s form rise from the ground slightly, toppling the goblin that was perched on top of him. There was a release of energy, but nothing appeared to happen. The goblins howled and cackled at the pretty lights, forcing the prince to his feet as another grabbed a stick and begin to rap him sharply across the shins and back with it, trying to make the lights happen again. From cover, the party watches, thinking surely it was time for them to intervene. Tomlain looked harried, genuinely scared now, he shut his eyes tight thinking of when he’d tried to let go of his control at Beleg’s prompting. He reached for the power he always felt building that he fought so hard to keep down, felt the feeble balance keeping it in check, and did his best to rock it off its axis.

[Ok, narrative break here, because I have some commentary on what is about to fucking take place. As you read the next paragraph I’m sure a lot of experienced gamers are going to cry railroading. “Oh he clearly scripted that!” I can hear them saying, because I remember when it happened staring at my digital d100 when I rolled on the Wild Magic table and thinking “Oh son of a bitch this could not have worked more perfectly!” So yes, what happens next is 100% what the almighty dice decreed.]

Some of the party let out a soft, sharp gasp as they watch Tomlain open his eyes, the purplish light spilling from them outshining the goblins’ campfires, magic crackling around him as he floats almost gracefully into the air. Suddenly, as the energy begins to manifest into a spell around him, all they can see is, well…

fireballFire. Fire blooms out around him and there’s a wooshing sound as it expands, eating up the oxygen from the air and roaring into an almost perfect sphere around him, the cackling goblins surrounding him reduced now to crackling cinders. The flames subside almost as quickly as the explosion began, revealing a perfect circle of scorched and wasted earth. In the middle, they see Tomlain falling to his knees, then collapsing into ashen epicenter.

The group takes that as their cue to intervene. More than half of their forces currently well-done, the remaining lookouts consolidate their forces in the center of the camp. One runs to the two biggest tents and shouts something in goblin that could probably have been translated as “HOLY FUCK YOU HAVE TO GET OUT HERE,” but hey, I don’t speak goblin, I’m just god.

Some of the party make their way for the remaining goblins while Rhai makes a beeline for Tomlain, checking for signs of life. She finds him lying on the ground, unconscious but somehow, miraculously, alive. She notices a strangely metallic sheen to his skin, the magic rapidly dissolving without it’s caster’s conscious mind to fuel it, however she thinks whatever it was might just have saved his life.

Suddenly, from the two largest tents in the camp, two rather rough customers emerge

Goblin Boss

I named them Richard and Maxwell, just to keep track of their tokens.

from their interrupted slumbers.  The biggest and the ugliest, these two are clearly the bosses around the camp, and they are not happy to find more than half their squad disintegrated.

Taking advantage of their groggy state, Eogred quickly calls up a cloud of fog to surround them, allowing the party to properly surround them before they can navigate through it. Magnys takes up residence inside an abandoned cage for safety while Elessana adopts a dueling stance, her rapier held steady and brandishing her new whip in her off-hand.

While Elessana and Rhai begin to fight the first to emerge, Eogred and Maghana take the second. Beleg supports from afar while Magnys whips out throwing darts from the safety of his cage. Eogred lets loose an arrow, striking the huge goblin in the gut, while behind him Maghana lets loose an arrow from her short bow seconds later, actually splitting Eogred’s arrow and causing the fragments to splinter further into him while her own arrow deepens the wound of the first one. A quick eldritch burst of energy from Beleg and this goblin is hating life already just out the gate.  The other takes some furious swipes at Rhai and Elessana, and while Rhai’s monk training sees her safely through the attack, Elessana is nearly brought down by a scimitar slash. Just as he seems to be rounding on her to finish her off, she experiences a second wind, rising to her feet again and brandishing her weapons furiously, drawing blood with her whip she spits into the wound, and seeing the fire in her eyes, the goblin boss succumbs to her intimidation tactics, and turns to run.

Not one to miss an opportunity however, Rhai hefts her frying pan and, with a great spinning leap, like a helicopter, she strikes with her frying pan and freaking separates the goblin’s head from his shoulders with it. One down, the second is made short work of through Eogred and Maghana’s combined efforts, Maghana scoring the killing blow, striking as always from the last place her target expected.

After the bosses, the party made short work of the three or four other stragglers, returning to camp to tend to their wounds and regroup, ready to return to town and collect their well-earned reward.

As Beleg tries to convince Magnys it’s safe to come out of the cage, Eogred walks over to Tomlain’s unconscious form, Rhai looks on as she cleans the gore from her frying pan. He looks down at the boy, regarding him before clasping his shoulder and muttering a quick healing spell to get him back to his feet. Tomlain raises with a shudder, coughing the ash out of his lungs.

“Did it work?” He asked.

“It sure did.” Rhai snorts, helping him up. Eogred doesn’t respond, but as the boy turns and limps off, the corner of Eogred’s mouth twitches just once.

They return to camp to regale Garrick with the tale of their victory, and in the morning the whole party makes their way into town to each conduct their own business.

Magnys, a simple man on the lookout for simple pleasures, finds a nice swing in a park square, and sitting where the natural and civilized worlds intermingle, he pushes himself gently back and forth.

Eogred finds the shortest path to the inn for a drink and a good helping of information. He quickly strikes up a friendly game of dice with some off-duty guardsmen to hear the goings-on about town, making sure there’s no great concentration of Northspire troops to make their lives difficult. Through the course of his game he does learn of a security concern about town. Apparently two nights before, an eminent carpenter in the market district was found dead, locked inside his own workshop, the culprit seemingly vanishing without a trace.

Elessana turns in proof of a job well done to the tavern’s owner, while lamenting that they couldn’t have come in time to recover the captives before they were sold to who-knows-who. The innkeeper sighs, at least some of the weight off of him, and he hands Elessana a bottle of his finest mead as a special thank you to her for hearing him and acting. She promises to save it for a special occasion.

Beleg attempts to rifle through the market district for any magical trinkets not seized by the authorities, while Rhai follows along and discovers an exotic fruit from a far-away land; a “banana.” She looks forward to discovering just how she can unlock the culinary potential of this teasure.

Meanwhile, Maghana goes off on her separate way, following some hidden Thieves’ Cant symbols in the town square and, looking for some not-quite-legal equipment, meets another member of her fraternity of filches, a man in a sweeping black hooded cloak who she took to be this backwater town’s plunderer-in-chief.

“What can I interest you in, sister?” He asks with a wink.

“I need a disguise kit, you got one?” She says simply, barely a question in her inflection.
“Of course, but it’ll cost ya–” He begins to say, however before he can get the words out Maghana’s fist interrupts him as it collides with his mouth. Dazed and suddenly horizontal, Maghana takes the goods from his hand and turns to leave. She stops though, her eyes cool, detached, assessing the situation as always. She turns back around and gives the thief another good kick in the gut as she seizes two fistfuls of his cloak. She rolls it out from under him, depositing him face-down in the dirt, cloakless and groaning. The whole encounter only takes a few seconds. She leaves the man behind as she pulls the cloak on and pockets the kit.

10 Minutes Later, the party sits around a table at the inn, enter Maghana

BELEG: Oh hey! Cool cloak, where’d you get it?

MAGHANA: …..

***

So that’s all for this episode, though if you like to know this sort of thing for closure, the party leveled up after this victory. At level three they got to choose their characters’ subclasses, so I might go into that more next time. But for now, thanks for reading and happy delving!

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