Goblins and Jibes
Cragmaw Castle was a looming mass of gray stone surrounded by thick green trees. The large wooden front doors hung open off their hinges, giving the place a look of haunted abandon. The companions eyed the place warily, wondering if the Druid had been correct in leading them here.
There were very few sounds in the forest.
“I saw a flash of something!” Olara said quickly, pointing up at an arrow slit in one of the towers. “A weapon, no doubt.”
“So, it’s not abandoned,” Keyzana said, walking a short distance off and then returning. “There seems to be a stairway leading up to a side entrance over here.”
“Let’s take the front entrance,” Flavio suggested.
Falkrunn nodded in agreement. “The side entrance is probably still used by the goblins in that castle, but it looks as though this main entrance is virtually untouched. However,” she said, looking to Keyzana, “I don’t think we should just walk in there, weapons drawn.”
Keyzana nodded thoughtfully. “We should disguise ourselves, then.”
“Exactly,” the Dwarf smiled, and the two of them conjured an illusion over themselves. Falkrunn felt the strange sensation of magic sweeping over her, and within a minute, Falkrunn now appeared to be a short goblin, and Keyzana stood a tad shorter than her usual height with the thick arms and hairy torso of a Bugbear.
“Alright,” Falkrunn said, pulling out a couple pieces of frayed rope from her pack and handing them to Flavio and Lorskan, “you two are our prisoners. Olara, can you sneak in behind us and keep an eye out?” The Elf nodded her consent. “Great! Let’s go kill some goblins.”
“Just a moment,” Flavio raised a hand, “can I ask why we’re here again?”
“To save my Uncle Gundren,” Falkrunn answered, not quite sure if he was being serious.
The human nodded thoughtfully. “Oh, yes, that’s right. Okay, carry on.”
With a shake of their heads, Keyzana and Falkrunn took the ‘prisoners’ weapons, and began pushing them towards the front entrance.
The path was overgrown and rocky, and the stairs leading up to the entrance had been smashed in places, evidence of a battle fought long ago. Falkrunn gazed upward as they entered the castle, nervously eyeing the killing holes as they passed beneath them.
Flavio kicked a rock with his foot and it skittered across the floor noisily, echoing through hidden hallways. The place was dimly lit from the scattering of windows that sat high above them. To their right was a doorway next to a flight of wooden stairs leading to a second doorway. To their left was another set of doors.
“Which way should we go?” Keyzana whispered down to Falkrunn. “I wish that Druid had come with us.”
Falkrunn looked back and forth for a second, peering through the darkness. “Um, right?”
They pushed Lorskan and Flavio right, pushed being a generous word considering even the human towered above Falkrunn. Olara slipped through the darkness and out of sight behind them as they made for the stairs. The wooden planks creaked painfully as first Falkrunn and Flavio, followed by Lorskan and Keyzana, ascended the steps. The Dwarf hesitantly placed a hand on the door and pulled it open, revealing a small candlelit room inhabited by two goblins, hunched over in conversation. They straightened immediately and turned to the new arrivals.
“Gurtrac kavik soona-hak?” The first goblin demanded, eyeing the strangers with a hand on his belt.
None of them spoke the goblin language, Ghukliak, and Falkrunn felt a sudden surge of panic at their stupidity. She recovered quickly, however, and adopting a goblin-esk voice she leaned in and in a growly voice, said in the common language “this Bugbear commander is from far. He prefer to speak common. Is much better than Ghukliak when travel, he say. He practice and make us speak too.”
The two goblins looked at each other but nodded, seeming convinced. Falkrunn breathed a sigh of relief at their slow minds. “Who you? Where you from?” The first one asked, stepping toward her.
“Wave echo cave,” she told them in her grumbling voice, and turned to the second goblin with a gesture, “I think we cousins. Maybe have same mother?” The goblin looked confused but didn’t reply. Perhaps his common speech wasn’t great. “We come with prisoners. They have bounty.”
The first one’s eyes widened in excitement as he took a closer look at the huge black-scaled Dragonborn and the bored-looking human eyeing the room with disinterest.
“Step up, ninnywags,” Falkrunn shoved Flavio forward. “Let look at you.”
Lorskan stepped forward slowly, deliberately, his hands twisting behind his back in the ropes that were not tied. As the goblins were distracted by their newfound prisoners, Keyzana sidestepped. With a deep breath she drew her sword and slashed swiftly at the nearest goblin. It shrieked and jumped back as her blade cut across its chest in a scarlet arc. Falkrunn drew her own longsword and leaped towards the second goblin, but he was ready for the attack and rolled out of the way. The Dwarf (who still looked like a goblin), jumped back and pulled out her shawm instead, playing a few quick notes on it and directing her bardic magic towards Lorskan.
Lorskan’s chest seemed to swell with the power of the song, and he dropped his ropes and held out a clawed hand, his sword appearing into it in a shimmering instant and disappearing from where it hung on Keyzana’s back. Then he swung it down and severed the first goblins neck clean through. An instant after his head, the body hit the floor and quickly spilled out a growing pool of blood. A leg twitched, then went still.
“Stop!” Keyzana yelled, lowering her bloodied longsword. The remaining goblin screamed furiously and, with frightening speed, leaped up at her and stabbed her arm with a tiny dagger. The Elf who looked like a Bugbear tore at the creature, trying to release its grasp on her. Flavio, who was without any weapons, stepped up and punched the goblin in the side of the head as it clawed Keyzana’s face. The goblin fell off the Elf and landed on his feet, and Keyzana took her sword and drove it down through his collarbone and into the floor. The goblin squeaked pitifully and went limp.
With a grimace, Keyzana slid her blade from the goblin’s corpse and wiped it clean before replacing it in her scabbard. “So much for questioning it,” she sighed, taking back Lorskan’s weapon and handing him back his rope. She tied up her arm with a strip of cloth from her pack to staunch the small amount of bleeding.
Flavio reached down and grabbed his own rope from the ground cheerily, and after all hurriedly scanning the room and finding nothing of interest, the four of them made their way back through the doorway. Falkrunn just barely noticed Olara hanging back in the shadows, and the Elf nodded to her, seeing that they were unharmed.
The door at the bottom of the stairs suddenly burst open and a goblin ran out, evidently hearing the noises from up above. An arrow came whizzing out of the darkness and hit the creature in the forehead, pinning it to the open door. The scream of another goblin came from within the open room, and the disguised goblin and Bugbear, Falkrunn and Keyzana, scrambled down the stairs and ran straight into the room past the pinned goblin body.
“Quick! Grab your weapons!” Keyzana shouted, “the prisoners are attacking!”
There were two goblins in their room, one with a scimitar and the other holding a short bow. They ran past Falkrunn and Keyzana with war cries, believing them to be allies.
Lorskan emerged in the doorway and, his sword once again having appeared in his hand, hacked of the arm of one of the goblins. The goblin screamed in pain and fell back, holding his bleeding stump. The creature whimpered and pushed himself away on his heels.
The other goblin reached in for an attack against the Dragonborn and cut his leg with a dagger. Flavio entered at that moment with a heralding cry and Falkrunn tossed the warhammer to the human. He ran at the goblin who had left a large streak of blood across the stone floor and raised his warhammer with two hands, smashing it down onto the goblin’s head. Blood and brains exploded in all directions as the thing was eviscerated.
Keyzana grabbed the goblin attacking Lorskan from behind, holding him by the throat with her arm so his feet dangled helplessly. He scrambled for a moment and then gave up with a pathetic whimper, acknowledging his sudden defeat.
Keyzana dropped him, and with her sword pointed in his face said, “tell us what we need to know, and we won’t hurt you.”
The goblin frantically waved his arms in front of himself, tear-streaming eyes pleading, “no kill. No kill!”
“How many of you are there?” Keyzana demanded.
“Many, many!” He squeaked.
“Are there any Bugbears in this castle?”
He nodded his head fervently, casting fearful glances at everyone. Olara had emerged from the shadows and now stood next to Falkrunn, watching the interrogation with interest.
“What about a Dwarf?” Falkrunn chimed in. “Are there any captives?”
“Yes, yes, yes, a Dwarf!” the goblin answered.
“Do you know of anyone named the Black Spider?” Keyzana asked, her voice going quieter.
The goblin’s tiny body began to shake uncontrollably, and he shook his head no.
“What about Glasstaff?” Falkrunn added.
The goblin shook his head again. “Wizard left two days ago.”
“Two days,” Keyzana cursed, lowering her sword point.
“Who has the Dwarf?” Falkrunn demanded. “Where is he?”
“King Grol has. In his chamber.”
“Tell us how to get there,” the Dwarf stepped forward, hands clenched into fists. “Tell us exactly. Better yet, show us.”
The goblin muttered for a moment, then looked up at the Dwarf who appeared to be a goblin and nodded in resignation. “Yes. Okay. I tell.”
With silent footsteps the companions snuck along the hallways of Cragmaw castle, clinging to its shadowy edges. They came across a steep pile of rubble that had nearly buried the adjacent door. Through the opening at the top of the pile shone a faint light, and they could hear the clattering of dishes and the pattering of smaller footsteps.
“Stay quiet,” Keyzana warned to her goblin captive in a hushed voice, “or I won’t hesitate with this blade.” She lifted the tip of her longsword and pointed it at the goblin’s face to make her point.
The goblin nodded fiercely and pointed at the opening. “Must go through there!”
Lorskan gritted his teeth and moved up the pile to view the room within.
“So, about this Glasstaff fellow,” Flavio turned to the goblin, scratching his own chin, “he had this fantastic mahogany desk back in Phandalin. I don’t suppose you know where he got it?”
The goblin tilted his head for a moment and then pointed up at the opening. “Desk. Desk in there! See?” Flavio made for the pile of rubble with an ooh of excitement.
“Rotten food and broken tables, plus half a dozen goblins to kill,” Lorskan informed the group in his growling voice.
Falkrunn crawled up next to Lorskan to see for herself. Flavio clambered up with some difficulty beside her and made a disappointed tsk when he saw the rubbish-strewn tables and stacked dishware, no richly designed furniture in sight.
Huge piles of dishes were stacked precariously on the few still-standing tables. It was a mess hall, in every sense of the word. The floor and everything on it seemed to be covered thickly with grime. Small goblins stumbled around the room, heavy laden with various food items and emptied plates. They worked quietly considering their tasks.
An extremely large goblin emerged from a door on their left, his rotund belly guiding him into the room. He wore a floppy hat and a long apron that may have once been white, but was now thick with grease stains and something that looked suspiciously like vomit.
“There’s the cook,” Olara said, having come up on the pile behind them silently. Falkrunn jumped at the sudden voice, then nodded. She couldn’t believe how stealth that Elf could be at times.
“I’ll try to put as many as I can to sleep,” Falkrunn whispered to them, “but the rest of you will need to be ready for a fight.”
“I’m always ready,” Keyzana smiled, sheathing her longsword and climbing lightly to the opening.
Falkrunn gave one last look to her companions, and with a nod she cast the spell. Her vision focused as she breathed out the slow, song-like incantation. The magic floated along the floor in invisible tendrils and reached the three nearest goblins. Falkrunn was the only one who could see it crawling up their tiny legs and twisting into their ears and eyes. The three goblins wavered and collapsed slowly, their dishes clattering to the stone floor and breaking into a thousand tiny pieces. Falkrunn winced. Not too subtle, was it?
The fat goblin moved surprisingly fast as he went to the shoulders of the nearest collapsed goblin, trying to shake him awake. “Sleeping on the job!” he growled, then cursed in his own language. “Wake up, fools!”
With a sharp breath, Lorskan mounted the rubble behind where he hid and leaped into view. He released a thunderous burst of air and fire, which immediately consumed the three sleeping goblins, and left a fourth one screaming and burning, and then finally collapsing in agonized cries. The cook had managed to roll out of the way by shielding himself with one of the sleeping bodies, which was now completely burnt to a black crisp. He shouted and threw aside the burnt corpse, standing with his belly out and a grimace on his wide, ugly face. Falkrunn skidded down the pile of rubble and pulled out a throwing hammer, releasing it into the air towards the cook, missing by inches. She shook herself and stood up, rubbing her knee in pain where she had slammed it into the ground ungracefully. Flavio followed her down with a few inaudible mutters.
The fat goblin rushed at the Dragonborn with a large club and threw it, hitting Lorskan over the head. The Dragonborn stumbled back and reached for his sword. Keyzana had come through the room and was now running forward with her sword drawn. The smaller goblins had backed away, some scrambling for weapons and others staring in shock at the fiery display.
Olara was still crouched over the ridge and released an arrow into the huge belly of the cook. He grunted and pulled the arrow free, casting it aside as if it were a mere bug bite. Keyzana’s sword came down on the goblin but he caught it with his own hidden blade and pushed her back with a heave. He was a surprisingly good fighter, for a cook.
Finally, the other goblins seemed to have caught on, and one rushed forward to attack Lorskan, but tripped over a pile of dishes and dropped his makeshift weapon. A second goblin clambered onto a nearby table that was still standing and, bringing up a short bow, shot an arrow straight at Keyzana. The Elf managed to turn in time and deflect the projectile with a quickly cast shield spell. It shimmered and vibrated as it absorbed the goblin arrow, closely followed by a second arrow that was also stopped midair.
CRACK. A bolt flew through the air with incredible speed from Flavio’s open hands and struck Keyzana’s shield, shattering it instantly in a flash of light and burying itself into the back of her neck. She barely had time to gasp before she had hit the floor, unconscious and unmoving. “NO!” Olara cried, drawing another arrow.
“Oh,” Falkrunn heard Flavio breathe, looking down at his hands, unsure.
Lorskan bellowed in annoyance and summoned three identical missiles from his open palm, releasing them with a word. They simultaneously tore through the cook and the goblin who had been shooting at Keyzana, dropping them both.
Falkrunn raised a hand and cast her healing spell in Keyzana’s direction, feeling the spell hit the Bugbear illusion and dig out the bolt from her spine, knitting together the nerves, muscles and flesh. She barely had time to register if the Elf was alive before distractedly pulling out another throwing hammer and aiming it haphazardly at a nearby goblin who was charging. The goblin avoided the throw, diving behind a stack of plates.
Olara had strung two arrows to her bow, and as she slid down the rubble she released them both. One missed a goblin by a hairsbreadth, but the other buried itself in flesh. At the same moment, Keyzana raised a hand weakly and released her hawk, who flew in confusion for a few moments before diving at Flavio, pulling up at the last second and causing the human to shriek. Olara strode past him at the same moment and smacked him hard on the back of the head. “Idiot,” she spat, giving him a scathing look as she passed him. He rubbed his head and, looking up at Keyzana’s hawk muttered, “dumb owl.”
The goblin that was hiding behind a stack of plates came out for another attack and with the fastest reflexes Falkrunn had ever seen, Olara fitted another arrow into her bow and shot him straight through the left eye. The goblin dropped his weapon and grabbed at his face, screaming incoherently. Then, he ran.
“Don’t let him get away!” Falkrunn cried, looking desperately to the Bugbear illusion of Keyzana, who was now standing, if a bit unsteadily.
Algernon the familiar sprouted from Lorskan’s hand and flew up, chasing the screaming goblin down as it escaped through the door and turned left through a heavy curtain. That’s going to be noisy, Falkrunn thought frantically, looking around for any more enemies.
She turned when she heard Keyzana swearing loudly. The Elf-Bugbear had pushed against Flavio with her raised forearm and the human ducked under her swing. “If. You. Ever.” She growled, “hit me with your magic ever again, I swear I’ll rip your face off.”
Flavio yelped and backed up.
“We don’t have time for this,” Lorskan said with gritted teeth. “Algernon has him cornered. Let’s go.”
When they jogged up to where the goblin had run, they saw him fumbling at a door with one hand, the other covering his bloody, tattered face. It seemed Algernon had torn his face half to shreds, which made Falkrunn gulp and wonder if Keyzana would ever send her hawk to do the same to Flavio.
Algernon dove and struck again. The goblin held up a bloody knife in defense, but it slipped from his hands and clattered to the floor. “Put him out of his misery,” Falkrunn said, feeling suddenly sick.
Olara drew an arrow obligingly and it struck the goblin through his other eye, felling him on the spot. Algernon screeched and returned to his master, disappearing with bloody talons and all.
“Glad that’s done,” Olara said with a deep breath, replacing her bow behind her. Keyzana pulled a healing potion from her pack, which was disguised by her Bugbear illusion, and downed it in one gulp. Immediately the colour returned to her pale face and she tossed the empty bottle aside with another dark look at Flavio. The glass smashed on the ground amidst old dust and forsaken debris.
Their goblin captive had not gotten far. They found him crouched over the large body of the cook, sobbing uselessly. Falkrunn picked him up by his scruff and shook him, startling him out of his grief. “Where do we go next?” The goblin picked up a trembling finger and pointed it toward the far door. “Lead the way,” she said, thrusting him forward.
A huge Bugbear and a tiny-by-comparison goblin came striding into the barracks confidently, eyeing the messy beds made visible to normal eyes by the lit sconces in the wall. Two Hobgoblins jumped to attention, then, realizing who had just entered, returned to their conversation. “Hey, idiots!” Keyzana grumbled in the best Bugbear impression she could muster. “Two prisoners have escaped and are somewhere in the castle. Didn’t you hear the noise?” The Hobgoblins eyed her uncertainly for a second. “Well!” She barked, “go find them!” They hopped up, drawing their weapons somewhat reluctantly and making for the door. Falkrunn pulled out her sword but tripped as she was going to attack, her blade passing dangerously close to one of the Hobgoblins. He stopped and rounded on her, holding his sword point up threateningly. She held up her hands helplessly and said in her goblin voice, “sorry, sir. Tripped.”
The Hobgoblin said something she missed and turned back to the doorway with the other one. Phew, that was close, she thought. If I had touched him he would have seen through my illusion. Keyzana used the distraction to draw her own blade and stab at the Hobgoblin. She slashed his ribs and he fell back, stunned and bloodied. In the same moment, Olara appeared on the other side of the doorway with her bow, but her arrow flew over his head as the other one stumbled into her.
The Hobgoblin with the serious wound dealt by Keyzana pushed past Falkrunn and ran for a curtain-covered doorway, escaping before she could react or take him down. She didn’t know what else hid behind that curtain, so she turned to the immediate threat.
Lorskan grabbed at the other Hobgoblin and managed to knock it over. Flavio had conjured a spectral weapon, which floated, surrounded by mists in midair and kicked around ineffectively. Leaving his spell to its own devices, he drew out his warhammer and dropped it on the Hobgoblin’s foot. It howled and stumbled back just as Falkrunn tried to cut at its legs. An arrow from Keyzana whizzed past Falkrunn’s ear and clattered against the stone doorway and she cursed aloud, pulling another arrow free. Olara managed to reach through the chaos with a dagger and stabbed at the Hobgoblin, burying the blade hilt-deep into the Hobgoblin’s side between the chunks of leather armour. Realizing he was overwhelmed and seriously injured, the Hobgoblin turned to run where his companion had left only moments ago. Falkrunn anticipated this, and stuck out a stubby leg, causing him to trip and fall heavily to the floor. “Fell for that one,” she said with a humourless laugh and drove her longsword through his back, severing the spine.
There was a cry as their goblin captive turned and ran, arms flailing. Lorskan quickly drew his own bow and, when the arrow hit, the goblin’s cries fell short. He lay sprawled against the ground, lifeless, one arm reaching for the open archway leading outside, an arrow through his back. Falkrunn shaded her eyes against the light of the sun streaming in and turned back to the dim barracks. A low, moaning growl followed by a heavy thump came from another doorway inside the barracks.
“What in the name of—” but she didn’t need to ask, for the growl was followed shortly by a low, echoing hoot.
“Let me get this straight,” Falkrunn said, adjusting the sword at her back. “We have an owlbear in the barracks, a gigantic snake-like creature in the chapel according to our friend Algernon, the tiny flying dragon-hawk, our goblin guide is dead with an arrow in his back, and we still have no clue where my uncle or this King Grol fellow is.”
“Not to mention,” Keyzana added, “we haven’t seen any of the Bugbears the aforementioned goblin told us about.”
They had moved the body of the Hobgoblin out into the hallway and had picked through his belongings, but found nothing of use.
“Be thankful the wizard is not here,” Lorskan grunted. “And it is not just a big snake. It is on the ceiling, and I’m quite sure I heard suction sounds as it moved.”
Falkrunn threw her hands up in their air, pacing. “Scars,” she swore. “That’s even better!”
“Too loud!” Flavio squeaked as the owlbear on the other side of the door slammed and scraped against the wood, which bent a little too easily for Falkrunn’s comfort. She flinched, and they all collectively held their breath. They had lingered too long without making a decision. There was another low, growling hoot, and then, suddenly, the wood gave way, cracking beneath the weight of the giant owlbear. The companions jumped into action, hiding out of the way of the lumbering beast as it beat down the rest of the door and, with a snort, pushed its way into the barracks and started snuffling around. From her hiding place behind the doorway, Falkrunn could see that ribs showed through the fur of the creature. It had been starved for who knew how long, and now it was looking for a meal.
It seemed to catch the scent of blood from the escaped Hobgoblin and prodded its nose through the curtain doorway, disappearing behind it. A minute later they heard a thud, a shriek, and then the sounds of tearing flesh. “Sounds like we don’t need to worry about that one, anymore,” Olara whispered, though they had given up on stealth a long time ago.
They all quietly left their hiding places and moved to the door of the chapel wherein the monstrosity slithered, or, more accurately, clung. Lorskan pulled a torch from a bracket in the wall and in one swift move swung open the door, flung the torch in, and pulled the door hallway closed. Flavio waved a hand and muttered an incantation, and the flame of the torch burned a little brighter, illuminating the walls of the room. He peered in, scanning the ceiling, then turned to the rest of the group and shook his head. “Not there,” he said, peering up at Lorskan. “Wait!” he gasped in a hushed whisper. “There, on the walls. It looks like stone, ten feet long at least I’d wager.”
Enough of this waiting, Falkrunn thought impatiently, striding across the hallway and into a storage room that crossed paths with the barracks. She reached out her mind until she felt the presence of the owlbear, and the singular thought within its slow-moving mind. Hungry.
She nudged into its mind, not forcefully, but perhaps a bit less gently than she had hoped. Food here, she told the beast, come out, this way. I will show you.
It took a moment, but the response she got was a sort of growling purr. Appreciation. More food would be welcome. She pictured the owlbear stepping over the shredded body of its Hobgoblin meal, and she quickly backed up, signaling to the others to step out of the way as she pulled open wide the door to the chapel and ushered the owlbear in. Its steps grew more excited, and it spared a quick glance down at her with giant, black eyes, before stepping into the cold room with the nearly burnt-out torch upon the ground. Falkrunn flew forward as the owlbear disappeared through the doorway, trapping the beast inside with the monster. There was a loud flop as the giant snake dropped to the floor to meet its new prey.
A battle ensued.
Lorskan pulled the door open a crack as animalistic growls, hisses and hoots emerged from the chapel. After a quick breath, he hunched into the room and ran through darkness, skirting the fight entirely. Falkrunn followed him, pressing against the wall as much as she could and running for a doorway at the end of the room. The torch had all but gone out, but she had the darkvision of a Dwarf, and took an awe-filled moment to watch as monster and beast tore at each other, a surprisingly even battle. The owlbear was ferocious, fighting with a massive gash along his ribcage that had left a thick flap of skin, fur and feathers to hang from him. The giant snake-like creature had a giant maw that opened like a massive flower full of venom and teeth. It hissed and dug into the leg of the owlbear. “Move!” Flavio said frantically, pushing her out of the way. Falkrunn shook herself and ran the rest of the way to the door, only breathing once she was through to the other side. The two Elves came through a second after one another, though Keyzana still appeared to be a Bugbear. Falkrunn looked down at her own illusion and noted that it held securely. How long had they been in the damned castle for? It felt like ages, but when she drew into her magical reserves, she found that it had been less than an hour. Realms, she thought desperately, will I ever find Gundren? Will I ever be redeemed?
Three very shocked, very terrified goblins huddled behind a giant stone altar. The altar itself was overlaid with a white sheet gone red with blood. Along the altar were placed three golden items: a chalice, a knife and a ḉensure.
Flavio tore out his warhammer and with a battle cry ran for the first terrified goblin. He crushed its back and bones before it could even stand, much less defend itself. Falkrunn, shocked into reality again, drew out her longsword and cut another goblin down, feeling a wrench in her gut that could only have originated from—but no, now was not the time.
Fight. Kill. Die if you must. The words echoed in her as blood splattered the wall behind the goblin. She had split his torso in twain. The fight between owlbear and snake-creature echoed from the other room.
When Falkrunn looked up, quickly wiping wetness from her cheeks before anyone else saw, Lorskan had a hand up to the last goblin and his ears were bleeding. Could it be? Had he cast Toll of the Dead? That was a spell for necromancers. What could he be doing with such a power?
The goblin slumped against the walls, eyes glazing over. Then he shook his head, and with a quick burst of speed ran for his life through the door to the room of monsters. He drew his weapon, screaming, and actually jumped onto the body of the snake and began hacking at the owlbear. That, from a goblin? Falkrunn thought distantly, sheathing her sword unsteadily without wiping it clean and bracing herself on the doorframe, watching the goblin fight with an intense bravery she had rarely seen in such a lowly creature. It took a full minute of hacking and slashing before the goblin was tossed aside by the owlbear and his body skittered across the room, barely stirring.
Lorskan had drawn up his hand above Falkrunn in the doorway without her noticing and cast his magic missiles, shooting one at the dying goblin, which struck his shoulder, and two more at the giant snake. “Kill the Grick!” Flavio cried, sending a guided bolt through the room and at the snake—Grick—whatever slimy monster that was. It recoiled in pain as the bolt struck it in the roof of its sprawled-open mouth. Keyzana sent her own magic missile into the room, striking the Grick directly in the eye. The huge monster wavered for a moment, half its body raised into the air, and then collapsed with a heavy thump.
The arm of the goblin bent as if he were going to stand. Panicked, Falkrunn pulled one of her throwing hammers from inside her cloak and pitched it into the darkness. It cracked against the goblins skull, the blow to finally end the brave creature’s final bout.
The injured owlbear came stumbling out of the heaping mess of coiled snake, its breathing laboured, its thin body barely holding together.
Quietly, resignedly, Olara released a final arrow into the room. It struck home in the owlbears chest, and the great beast breathed its last and rolled over with a moan, finally dead. “Thank you, great beast,” the Elf whispered, replacing her bow. Falkrunn entered the room to retrieve her throwing hammer, and, when no one else was looking, she placed a hand on the shoulder of the fallen goblin and said quietly, “Thorok bae barak Grobbi,” she paused, unable to think of a prayer. “Tha yol vad Ka’az” Goodbye, brave Goblin… I’m sorry, Father.
“You won’t believe this,” Keyzana said in awe, and Falkrunn rushed back into the altar room. The others had gone through a side door and into a storeroom. Lorskan held up a long, gleaming blade in the firelight. It shone silver, but the hilt was black, inlaid with the distinctive carving of a wolf.
“It is Sildar’s sword,” Lorskan said in awe, turning the blade in his hand.
“But how? How did it get here?” Falkrunn asked slowly, watching the sword as it reflected her goblin illusion in the blade.
Everyone was silent in their own thoughts.
Glasstaff, she thought with a spike of fear, putting a hand to her dagger and gripping it tightly.