Branwyn looked the trio up and down (mostly down for Steven) and said, “Well you lads seem to be of some mettle. We need more men and you seem to be a good set of lads to get us some. The McErdan Farmhold is to the east of here, about 5 leess, and is a gathering place for the land holders to far out to get to town quickly. If you three go out there and convince them to come to town, we might stand a chance. I haven’t seen a goblin uprising this big since before the founding of New Union…” He finished as he walked away to help some militia men shore up a barricade.
Brant turned around and looked at his compatriots. Steven seemed nonchalant, Peace seemed to get a slightly cocky smile and a vacant expression for a second before he snapped out of it and said, “Sorry. Was just thinking of casting fireball at a long line of goblins. It would be good experience.”
Brant shook his head and said, “Alright then let’s try to help this people as best we can. Before we go we should all decide on an adventuring name for each of us. The townspeople already know me as Rubs so I’ll just change the spelling to make it look more like a name. How about we just use Drewcifer for you, Peace?”
Peace thought for a second, then said, “How about I use a different form of Peace, like Pax? We could make it sound cooler if we spelled it more Roman.”
“So… Paxus?”, Steven said sounding uncertain.
“Yeah. Paxus the mage.” Peace said with a nearly starry eyed gaze.
“What about you Steve? Are you going with an Angelhair or Saltsman derivative?” Brant asked of his long held friend.
“I’m thinking a Saltsman one. How about Saul for the first name and Tzmæn for the last one?” Steven said smiling in a slightly impish manner.
Brant stared at him for a few beats before sighing and muttering, “It’s going to be a long campaign. I can already see it.”
The three moved to their horses and levered themselves onto them. Brant checked his saddle girth on Brea as Peace and Steven got well and set on their steeds. He moved up into his saddle smoothly and looked at each of his compatriots equivalently. Peace looked at Steven, then back at Brant before saying, “What are you looking at us for? You’re the one who has been here for a month. Surely you learned more than just town gossip in all that time.” Brant started, he had not expected to be taking the lead anywhere, but there it was.
“Ok, then let’s head out with me taking front, Steven, you take back; and the squishy can stay in the middle…”
“Hey, I’m not that bad!” Peace interjected.
Brant continued as if he had not heard “… I’m sure it’ll come naturally but yell if something attacks and ride on if it doesn’t. We need to move quickly through a lot of territory.” Brant said, met with silent (more or less) agreement from both.
They left town at a mile eating trot, slowing to a canter while going uphill and letting the horses take their lead on the downhill. They were saving full gallop for real emergency. For the first leess, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but after that, signs slowly became ever more prevalent of the goblin incursion. The three adventurers didn’t meet any trouble till they went around a bend in the road about 2 leess into their trip. The roadside was devoid of any underbrush or trees for about 50 feet to prevent ambushes, but the trees on the inside of the curve, obscured the three’s view from seeing the patrol of about a dozen goblins marching down the road. It was tough to decide who was more surprised, but it was Steven who recovered first as he aimed his bow and fired in one smooth motion, cleanly killing one of the goblins in the front rank. Brant knew that getting away from this engagement, while completely possible, would be difficult, and would just lead to more problems down the road; literally. He drew his bastard sword from its saddle sheathe and dismounted Brea at a run.
Now normally Brant’s style was to play a defensive game, drawing an opponent out, then taking advantage of a mistake, but with a rogue and a wizard, he was actually the least squishy amongst the group. This plus the time constraint led to Brant taking the more direct approach of continuing with the momentum from the dismount and charging into the front line. The goblins, having finally recovered from the shock, drew their weapons and charged the three travelers. The first goblin to get into Brant’s range ran full bore at Brant with a small battle axe raised above his head… only to take an arrow through the throat. Steven, it seemed, had taken a position off to the flank of the line of engagement and was picking goblins off as fast as he could reload. Brant adjusted accordingly and shifted to the other flank of the enemy, hoping to put the goblins in a pincer of attacks. The goblins on that end intercepted Brant’s attempts and thrust at his stomach with their short swords. Brant swept these aside, kept the momentum on his sword, and swung full on into their shields, knocking both of them prone. From out of nowhere a ball of flames blew through the enemy ranks, annihilating two whole columns. It seemed Peace had finally finished the somatic components to his fireball spell.
The remaining goblins decided that splitting their focus was the best way to progress, as two ran at Peace, three ran at Steven, and the two that had been knocked down plus one other, moved in on Brant. Brant swung a hard cut, cleaving right through one of the rising goblins and carrying on to land a blow on the other’s shield. While doing so, the third goblin slashed at Brant’s forward leg, scoring a nice little cut across Brant’s shin. Brant grimaced, but quickly replied with a full body thrust into the offending goblin, taking him in the chest. He recovered quickly from the lunge only to find that his sword was stuck in the goblin’s ribcage. The last goblin made several rapid fire attacks at Brant, which he only barely managed to parry due to the added weight. Putting his entire body into an upper cut swing, Brant finally managed to dislodge his sword and parry the goblins next attack. From here it was a quick beat, parry, riposte to dispatch the last goblin assailing him. He then looked about to see the status of his companions. Peace was busy warding a goblin off with only a dagger in hand. The other goblin that had been approaching Peace had a familiarly feathered arrow sticking out of his back.
Steven had put away his bow, and was now dual wielding a short and a long sword against two goblins of the three that had assaulted him. Deciding that Peace’s even odds put him at less risk than Steven’s uneven ones, Brant charged to his small ally’s location. By this time, Steven had started slowly giving ground until his was further into the wood. His agile movement and quick blades kept the goblins from surrounding him. Brant ran up behind of the goblins, yelling the whole way to attract attention. It worked. Both goblins allowed their focus to stray from Steven just long enough to allow Steven to capitalize on the distraction. He beat the goblin to his side’s sword, then stabbed the goblin in between him and Brant, in his exposed kidney. Brant adjusted his stance for this and then cleft the remaining goblin firmly through the neck. From here he turned to move towards aiding Peace, but Steven was already on the move. Steven whipped a knife out from his belt and threw it end over end, only to miss the goblin and graze Peace’s cloak. Peace, being slightly jumpy while fighting for his life, dove and rolled away from the goblin he was engaged with. Despite missing it, the goblin still hesitated for a moment before realizing he was the last of his entire patrol. He then began to run as fast as he could towards the wood line. Before either of the other two could change direction to give chase, a beam of liquid fire shot out in the intervening gap, melting a neat whole in the goblins torso. “You will not run away from me!” said a rather disgruntled sounding Peace.
“Uh, no. No, I suppose they won’t Peace. Are you guys okay?” Brant asked, chest heaving slightly as he caught his breath.
“Okay?” Peace said, sarcasm heavily added. “We each just got about six or seven hundred experience. We keep this up and I might just make some scrolls.”
“Huh?” Steven said as he looked up from the goblin corpse he was rolling for valuables. “Oh yeah, I’m fine. Only lost a couple of arrows. Little green bastards rolled as they fell and snapped the shafts off in their thrice-Vecna-cursed throats.”
Brant looked back and forth between his comrades in arms, and had to fight the urge to throw up his hands as he walked back to Brea saying, “Well as long as everyone is okay, let’s get moving.”
They continued another leess before hitting any other goblin resistance. This was only a group of seven or eight and the Fools were more alert this time. Steven downed two before the two groups even met in melee. Brant clove two from his horse and trampled a third. Peace was busy casting magic missile to clean up the rest. From there on, they met a group every half to quarter leess, till finally they were within a half leess from the McErdan farmstead and Peace ran out of spells as they finished a group of goblins moving on the farmstead itself it seemed. Brant had used all of his level 2 and 1 spells on heals and a Shout. The group conferred on its relative stores of spell power and decided that a hellride for the last half a leess would be for the best.
The ride, while made at a jarring gallop, was uneventful. They made it to a field, across which they saw a large farm house back dropped by an even larger barn and what had to be a curing shed. They made it halfway across the field before they were stopped by what appeared to be a sentry covered in mud. They hadn’t seen him for most of the ride, until he stood up that is. He recognized the lack of green skin and directed them to the farm house with a backwards gesture before he laid back down; crossbow in hand. The group continued and dismounted, tying their horses to a hitching post. Out of the farm house strode two men in their early 30’s or late 20’s. The older looking one was of medium height, with dirty blonde hair, and blue robes. The younger was slightly shorter, with black hair, and white robes. The younger spoke first, “Blessings of Ehlonna on you travelers. You must have crossed much goblin-infested territory to get here. I can only assume you were sent here from Parity. My name is Tywed McErdan, and this is my brother, Edir.”
“Good to meet you. It is always nice to see a disciple of Ehlonna out in the world.” Brant started. “My comrades and I have indeed rode from Parity and wish first for your neigh immediate aid to Parity, and second for a night to recuperate our resources and ourselves over all."
"As to a place of rest, you have found the best place for leess." Edir said in a very subdued and quiet voice. "The chances of my brother and I leaving our farm to the tender mercies of the goblins are substantially less. I am sorry."
"But, if you don't come into town, the militia will be overrun in next to no time. The number of goblins out there is horrendous." Steven said
The Fools kept making attempts to convince the brothers but eventually had to concede defeat. They went to bed, minds heavy with worries and thoughts. There were goblin attacks all night, but nothing to the point of actual worry. An hour after dawn, the goblins attacked the farmstead in force. The Fools reacted to the call to arms, and rushed out to meet the goblin hordes; working to defend the homestead of their hosts. The sheer numbers of goblins made it easier for Peace to cut huge swaths of fiery death, but harder for Brant and Steven to do much more than literally wade into battle and hold them back as they could. Edir, it turned out, was an abjurer of some substantial power, warded the dominant portion of the rear, allowing the vastly outnumbered defenders to focus on only one direction of threat. If Edir hadn't warded each of them, and Tywed hadn't healed them as necessary, the fight would have ended almost as soon as it started. The sun had only climbed slightly above the horizon before spells were starting to run out amongst the four casters.
Brant had slashed and struck his way back to where Tywed was under assault from 3 goblin warriors. Between bastard sword and mace, the three were dispatched without too much issue.
"Thank you Rhubs. Your assistance was of much use." Tywed said, wiping sweat with the back of his sleave.
"No matter, Tywed. I don't know how much longer we can stand up to this pressure. There are just to gods damn many of them." Brant said leaning only a little heavier on his point-planted sword than was intended.
"No, I know not how we shall survive this force, let alone survive through it." Tywed said with sadness heavy in his voice.
Suddenly from the East, a disturbance appeared among the goblin ranks near the forest. A shape taller than the goblins was swinging a giant battle axe through the unsuspecting back ranks as easy as Brant had chosen his dump stat (Constitution). Apparently one of the goblins finally landed a hit as the figure let out an inhuman yell and started whirling the axe at greater speeds around his body. It was then that a clarion call from a horn sounded and two figures clad in steel burst from the forest whipping their blades back and forth catching many goblins unaware and in the back of the head. It was only when Brant could discern the relative height of one of the riders that a smile broke out upon his face. "Well that works too." Brant said almost under his breath.
The goblins were thrown in complete disarray as the riders raked through their collumns of troops and the lone axe-wielder slogged towards the farm as an indomitable force. Between the surprise attack from their rear, and a morale boosted attack from the front, the goblins quickly realized that they had been routed and began to flee en masse. The wielder's axe fell in time to the arrows that Steven had begun to release into the retreating mass.
The three newcomers, fresh out of goblins on which to vent their spleens, rode/jogged over to where Tywed and Brant stood. Steven and Peace moved likewise, till all of the combatants were standing together laughing and saying their hellos. Brant walked over to the shorter rider and snapped a quick salute. "You are two days earlier than expected for such a heroic rescue sir. Your supposed to wait for the third day at dawn to come and join our little tea party." Brant said trying to keep a straight face but failing horribly after 'tea'.
"At ease, Master Harper." T-Rex said as he slid down from his warpony's saddle. " I decided to break with tradition, and save your sorry keesters.
The two moved forward to clasp forearms and quickly move into a full bodied hug.
"Good to see you guys. We've got other things to do right now though. Parity is going to quickly become besieged with goblins and is going to need our help. Its a pity Beard used his only rage for the day already."
"Oh, he has more than one now, but it was his last," Ryan said shaking his head.
"When did he use the first one?!" Brant asked incredulously. "Its only 7 or 8 in the morning."
"He was making breakfast for us and burnt the bacon. Renee had to wrestle the pan out of his hands before he started to trying biting through it. It only took a minute or two to beat it back into a useable shape." Ryan said almost too nonchalantly.