Starvale Adventures: A Prelude to Darkness – Chapter 8

Not able to see properly through the chamber, Rowan whistles a short spell.  Colorful flickering lights illuminate the den and they spot a large wolf pelt door covering the entrance to the chamber beyond.  Rowan nods at her friends and backs against the wall near the wolf pelt door.

Taking advantage of the momentary illumination from Rowan’s spell, Sebastian gives the room a swift search.  The guardhouse is largely empty, only having an alarm bell and a few odds and ends, but there are some very clear markings showing that some heavy things have been dragged through the archway covered with wolf hide.

Rowan moves the lights over to the farthest corner of the room, so that they won’t shed much light through it.  She looks at Lanaver and waves him over, “You can see in the dark right?  Take a look behind here and scope it out for us.”

Lanaver creeps up to the pelt door, giving it a cursory inspection before attempting to peek through the side, moving the pelt with the tip of his dagger.

Hajima wrenches the bolt from the corpse of the Goblin he slew.  After a brief inspection for damage, he cocks the thick arms and loads the salvaged bolt back into the weapon.  He approaches near the wolf pelt, ready to rush in and cover Lanaver with crossbow fire if need be.

Past the wolf pelt into the earthen chamber, Lanaver sees three more Goblins. Two of them are cruelly beating a pair of wolves in separate cages.  The wolves seem to have noticed them and are sniffing the air, snarling and yelping but their dim witted Goblin handlers don’t seem to understand why they won’t quiet down.

The third, more observant Goblin is making his way toward the wolf pelt to investigate the commotion he heard in the entrance chamber. He calls out in Goblin as he walks toward the waiting party, drawing a cruel looking short sword.

Lanaver’s sharp eyes spot two more doors covered with wolf pelts at the far corners of the chamber containing the wolves. “Have a care, one’s coming and there are two more beyond.  They have a pair of wolves in cages that seem to have scented us also.”

Lanaver closes the gap between the approaching Goblin and himself in three swift strides. He pulls the rapier free of the scabbard with a steely rasp while his free hand finds a dagger from the leg sheath. Just before he gets close enough to strike, he cuts to the right to insure the wizard and sniper have a clear shot if needed. He stabs the Goblin with his rapier, finishing it off with a gutting strike from his off hand dagger.

One of the Goblin handlers unlocks the cages the wolves are in before turning to run into the next room, yelping in alarm.  As the wolves spring towards the approaching party, their ferocity distracts Hajima Jom.  He fires from the hip at the escaping Goblin, but the bolt misses, slamming into the wall and shattering on impact.

“Quick!” He exclaims and points to the fleeing Goblin, “Stop him!”

Sebastian hears Lanaver’s words and shifts, pointing his orb toward the fleeing Goblin. An arcane burst of frost shoots from the gleaming orb, freezing the Goblin solid where he stands.

The leading wolf sprints at Lanaver and sinks its teeth into his leg. Despite Lanaver’s best efforts, the savage attack pulls him from his feet to lay prone in front of the snarling, drooling beast.

The fleeing Goblin falls to the floor clutching at his swollen head, his eyes bulging in pain. Rowan is whistling a slightly discordant tune and staring at him, her eyes softly glowing with blue light.  He soon stops screaming and begins to convulse before eventually laying still, dead, from the power of her strange magic.

Tuskor strikes the wolf standing over his companion with a two handed blow of his tusk staff, attempting to render it insensible.  He knows the animals are innocent of the evil the Goblins have forced them to, and cannot bear to kill it outright.  Although he strikes true, the wolf has been lathered into a frenzy by the punishment of its Goblin trainers and it seems to shake off the strike.

The other wolf lunges at Tuskor from the other side in a classic wolf pack move, but the Dwarf’s feet are more solidly placed.  Although its teeth tear at his flesh and draw blood he manages to stay upright.

Seeing the wolves approaching, Vellk runs the aid of his friends, fearing that his delay in action may cost them their lives. The warrior leaps into battle, cutting off the head of the wolf threatening Tuskor with a single stroke of his mighty axe.

The wolf Tuskor wounded backs away slowly growling with his hackles up.  A thick line of dark blood runs down the side of his head, dripping onto the earthen floor.

Lanaver clutches the bite wound and grits his teeth, “Medic!” He calls out to his team.

Rowan approaches the injured wolf, her hand out as she croons softly to it.  “There there, we’re friends.  Friends, it’s OK, I’m going to get you out of here, to set you free.”  The wolf hesitates and sniffs her offered hand before biting into her bicep and shaking her like a rat.  The Halfling woman is thrown from her feet, only barely able to keep her grip on her weapons.

Lanaver retreats as Tuskor and Vellk leap forward to assist Rowan.  Before they get to the wolf, an expertly fired bolt from Hajima Jom’s crossbow pierces the animal through the neck.  The wolf stumbles to the ground, tries futilely to rise before breathing its last. As Hajima stealthily moves forward to join his friends, a voice calls from the other room in the Goblin tongue.

The voice is deep, louder than a Goblin and lower of pitch. It is harsh and the speech is garbled, as if the speaker has mouth full of flesh. “Marak kish nek, ekognish ba-ahuka asik!” the call echoes from the chamber beyond.

Rowan does not speak Goblin, but fiercely clutches her rapier, getting up from the floor.  She gasps in pain and limps toward where Sebastian is bandaging Lanaver’s leg.  A truly foul smell emanates from the room beyond, making the scent of Goblin and mangy wolf smell like fresh air.

Hajima steps forward in front of the others with another bolt loaded in his massive crossbow. “Fear not, friends! Stay behind me. Sebastian, do what you can to help the wounded. I’ll cover you!” He then crouches, bracing his weapon on one knee so as to be ready to fire upon the monster as soon as it enters the room.

“Thank you my friend.”  Rowan says, playing a short but bracing melody on her flute.  

Hajima feels the warmth of her magic infuse him with power, steeling him for the fight to come.  Small flickers of arcane power surround him in the shape of bars of music as the spell takes effect.  A sense of confidence and deadly purpose fills his entire being. He has never been as sure of victory in any of his years of combat as he is right now.

The fallen wolf resists Tuskor’s attempts to help it or calm it and snarls until its last breath. Infuriated that animals had been kept and tortured in such a way, Tuskor rises to his feet with a dark gleam in his eyes. He mumbles the ancient words that transform his staff into the spiked monstrosity and turns to face whatever comes into the chamber.

After several tense moments pass, they hear the sound of a wooden chair being upturned and a harsh order from the deep voice beyond before three Goblins emerge from the pelt doorway at the far left end of the chamber. They cry in alarm as they spot the party, a sound partially silenced as Hajima’s crossbow hurls a bolt into the first one’s eye, killing it instantly.

A second later, a brawny Bugbear with dark, shaggy hair and a greasy black and brown beard bursts through the door on the other side of the chamber. In one large, clawed hand he holds a cruel looking Morningstar. In his other hand a short, rusty iron chain which is collared to a monstrous, savage looking warg. Its slathered lips peel back revealing long, brutal fangs and it growls menacingly at the wounded adventurers.

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