Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Cragmaw Castle
Stories

The march from the Thundertree Ruins to Bairkhalt was more stern than Adup was accustom. Osric was oriented on getting to Bairkhalt; after all the delays in finding where his cousins were, nobody in the band was going to argue the point. The corruption of a nearby goblin horde showed in the landscape far before the top of the Bairkhalt towers crested the horizon. The Desert Elf had convinced the group that taking a discreet approach would give the cousins the best chances of being freed. While none of them were particularly ready to don the cloaks of the Redbrands it seemed the most sensible way of making an inconspicuous approach.

They rounded a final hill on their approach and Bairkhalt was revealed in its dilapidated state. The ruins looked like the desiccated corps of an old man crumbling in quiet crypt. Rubble was strewn about the base of the old dwarven walls and the higher stories looked as if a stiff wind would send them tumbling as well. Adup could not help but think this is why his people so loathed these filthy vermin; they move in and destroy history, tarnish beauty, befoul any remnant of civilization.

Ahftahb’s ruse required that they approach with nonchalance, but Adup was having trouble containing his anger, by his heavy breathing Osric seemed to be struggling to contain his distaste for the goblins as well. Ahftahb quietly said, “two archers above the entrance, one low and on the right.”

Bodies moved in the shadows within Bairkhalt as they reached the stairs that lead to the entrance, half blocked with the crumbling remains of what must have been a beautifully crafted stone door. Two bodies hid from what was left of the daylight as one of the filthy creature exited the hall. He stepped gingerly over the threshold and began greeting the group in unfriendly and heavily accented speech. Confusion touched his ugly brow as the group ascended the stair. It took his feeble mind a couple of moments to realized there were no dwarves in the Redbrands.

His eyes shot open, but before he had time to call out to his companions Osric surged forward to push the foul little creature back through the door way.

At the burst of motion from the armor clad dwarf the others set to work. The limbs of the stout bow creaked as Adup pulled up his bow and took aim at one of the archers; the arrow whistled briefly before it was buried deep in the goblin’s chest. Ahftahb moved forward, close on Osric’s heals seeming to shift in mid stride; what looked like a lunatic diving onto the stairs turned into a fearsome wolf in full stride. Altariel started slightly, as if he had been deeply pondering some difficult puzzle, which Adup did not doubt he had been, even at a time like this. It was of no concern to the dwarf as he knew the Altariel’s agile mind was truly formidable. His confidence was well placed. With bare an utterance and a flick of his fingers the two remaining archers sunk to the ground with the crumbling architecture visible through the holes that now gaped from their chests.

At the top of the stairs Osric’s shield collided with the face of the ugly little creature, his squeak of pain was muffled by the shield. As he pushed the goblin back the wolf noticed the tripwire that lay across the threshold and took the back of Osric’s tunic in his jaws, yanking the dwarf to a halt. The goblin continued hurtling though the entry and catching an arm on the bronze tripwire. The wire held fast nearly separating the dirty little arm from the goblin, but at the last moment the wire gave and the celling began to collapse. The one armed goblin and two of the skulking shadows were buried in the falling debris.

Off toward their right there was a clatter as an unseen goblin allowed his bow to fall to the ground as he beat a hasty retreat further into Bairkhalt. Aftahb lunged forward, putting an end to the retreat almost as fast as it had begun. Altariel and Adup met Osric at the top of the stairs. Osric pointed to the hall the little goblin had fled to and said, “I think the others are down this way. They may not know we are coming, but they sure know we’re here.” The three men and a wolf prowled down the passage, looking for the next goblin to get in their way.


“Bazz sir! Bazz sir! Boogzy saws attackers!” The scrawny godlin came running back from the hallway leading to the entry hall, arms waving above his head.

The largest of four hobgoblins gathered in the center of the banquet hall around one of the few tables able to stand; rose and turned toward the ugly little humanoid running towards the group.

“Boogzy thinks he saws attackers does he,” the large hobgoblin said with a sneer. “And what kind of attackers does little Boogzy the pants shitter thinks he saws?”

The small goblin came to a stop in front of the towering hob, a sudden rush of fear over riding his adrenalin as his place in the world came rushing back to him. “Aaahhhh Boogzy saws fighting sir….” the goblin sniveled as he hunched down trying to disappear into the hall floor.

With a loud laugh Bazz quickly bent over and caught the scrawny goblin by the neck before hoisting him into the air. “And what the hell would a worthless piece of trash like you know about fighting?”

“Grrrupppllleee….”

“I thought as much,” Bazz said with a laugh quickly echoed by the other hobs around the table. “Do something useful and tell that fat slob Yegg to hurry up with our food,” then with a casual swing that belied its violence the large hobgoblin threw Boogzy across the room towards the door to the kitchen and barracks area.

The projectile sometimes known as Boogzy impacted the partially rotten door with a solid thunk and fell in a heap to the ground. After a few moments the door was wrenched open and the swollen figure of an obese goblin stood in the crooked frame of the door.

“Wats you didz nows, Boogzy pantshitter?” The fat goblin ask smacking a large ladle into his greasy hand.

“Boogzy….saws…somfin…,”

“Saw somfin…” the rest of the fat goblin’s words were cut off as a loud cry and the clatter of an overturning table erupted from the center of the room.

Boogzy’s vision swam before him as he rolled over and looked at the commotion. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, one of the large hobgoblins started to topple back with an arrow protruding from his chest and his face covered in a layer of ice. At the same time what looked like a large wolf came bounding into the room making a beeline for the group of hobs around table. Just before the large wolf crashed into hobs a beam fire lanced out from hall streaking over the group; following the beam was what sounded like a string of curses disparaging the gods…

While the hobs were surprised Boogzy saw that they reacted quickly; Bazz lep over the table and swung his shield up into position, guarding him from the highway. At the same time the two remaining hobs stepped forward to confront the terrifying large wolf.

Boogzy could barely make out a deep voice grumbling, “to hell with you all then, I’ll do it myself,” just before a stout dwarf came charging out of the hallway. The dwarf had his shield braced against his shoulder as he rammed full force into Bazz’ readied form. The dwarf and the hob came together with a loud crash; the dwarfs legs kept churning as he pushed Bazz back. The hobs feet finally found purchase and he flexed his arm; pushed back against the dwarf and gaining enough space to draw the stunning longsword etched with various symbols honoring Jing.

“Yegg!” Bazz called as he faced off against the rugged dwarf, “get ur crew and ur fat ass out here!”

“You’ns heard ‘um boys,” the fat godlin bellowed shaking off his surprise, “charge!” With that Yegg lept forward out of the doorway towards the fray, swinging his ladle in a circle over his head. The fat goblins landing was accompanied by a sickening crack; a jolt of pain from his arm caused Boogzy to realise that the fat goblins leap had ended on his right arm.

Boogzy’s already blurred vision started to go red as pain from his newly broken arm started to overtake him. Fighting through the pain the small goblin managed to flop out of the way as the rest of the goblins came rushing out of the barracks to join the rapidly growing melee. Boogzy looked on in a daze as the small horde of charging goblins lead by Yegg ran towards the hall that the attackers had come from. As the group approached the dark hall two figures stepped out of the shadows to confront them; one tall and lean with swirling robes around him, his pointed ears marking him an elf, the other’s short stature and bristly blond beard showed him to be another of the hated dwarfs.

The dwarf readied a wicked looking axe, eyes focusing intently on Yegg as a half smile started to form on his lips, “I’ll take the Fat one.”

The tall elf looked over the oncoming gobins for just a moment before raising his hands and guiding his fingers through a set of strange gestures. As his hands moved gracefully they seemed to draw in light from the room and focusing it into a small glowing sphere between his palms. With a final flick of his wrist he sent three bright missiles shooting out from the small orb; each missile erupted in a bright flash of light against the chest of one of the charging goblins.

The sensory overload caused by the spell proved to be too much for Boogzy as his vision finally failed him, his consciousness vanished in flashes of light.


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