Every story has a beginning.
Ours begins south of Neverwinter, on a little road known as the Triboar Trail. Our adventurers, a ragtag group of people you wouldn’t normally associate with one another, are resting by a oxen-driven wagon.
Needless to say, they did not end up here wholly by chance. They were hired by a dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker, who promsied they would be paid 10 gold pieces each if they were to bring this wagon, filled to the brim with mining supplies, to the rough-and-tumble settlement of Phandalin. Particularly, the adventurers were to deliver the goods to Barthen’s Provisions, a trading post in the settlement.
For reasons he wouldn’t say, Gundren left for Phandalin ahead of the adventurers, with a warrior escort named Sildar Hallwinter.
While so far they encountered no troubles, the adventurers were aware that the territory they were in was not what one would call safe. In fact, one would call this territory… dangerous.
The sun was high in the sky, so the party thought it would be good to take a little pause and have lunch. While doing so Maryth, an elven ranger, asked the other how they came to know Gundren.
The one called Paul Rigggaaal, a slimy looking gnome (who was carrying a bagpipe with him for some reason), responded first, explaining that he had played music at Gundren’s wedding. He seemed to be very proud of this fact.
Maryth and the others, Portnoy and Vaerion Ambrose, did not seem to impressed by this at all. “Well,” Maryth interjected. “I am a teacher at the University of Neverwinter, focusing mostly on cosmic beings and such.” He also added that he was on this little journey, since he was on a sabbatical.
The other elf in the group, Portnoy, was obviously a wizard, as one could tell from his immacculately knitted robes and wizard’s hat. Incidentally, that was how he got started practicing magic in the first place. It turns out, he used to work for this other wizard in Neverwinter and would knit these amazing robes for him. At one point he thought to himself, “Wait, I’d look AMAZING in these clothes. Maybe I should make some for myself.”
20 years of studying later, Portnoy was one of the most talented wizards in all of Neverwinter.
When Portnoy finished his tale, Maryth thought it appropriate to interject to say that sometimes he spoke his mind rather bluntly, which caused others to be somewhat annoyed at him. Having said that, he turned to Vaerion and asked, “So what are you?”
Vaerion was startled, but unsurprised. You see, Vaerion was an half-elf and he was used to being called various different names.
“Ok, so you’re a half-elf, but you’re also half-human right? Why don’t you go by that?” Maryth asked and was met with laughter by the others. If Vaerion was annoyed or offended by Maryth, he didn’t show.
All Vaerion did was to draw his greatsword and tell that he was of noblebirth, but that he didn’t want this to make anyone feel any different about him. For he was also a paladin who had dedicated his life to fighting for what is right and just.
Once they had all done eating their lunch, the party decided to move forth. Portnoy took the reins of the oxen and Paul joined him on the wagon, while Maryth and Vaerion walked by its side.
They walked and walked on the Triboar Trail, as a gentle breeze swept over them, bringing the smell of pine trees, mint, and berries from the forest and the thicket surrounding the path. It was very peaceful. Maybe too peaceful…
The Goblin Ambush
A couple of hours had passed when the party came around a bend and were met with a horrifying sight. They spotted two dead horses sprawled about fifty feet ahead of them, blocking the path. Each had several black-feathered arrows sticking out of it.
The woods pressed closed to the trail at hat point, with a steep embankment and dense thcikets on either side.
As a ranger, Maryth thought that he should be the one investigating the horses. So he left his position at the side of the wagon and approached the horses, noticing with a grim expression on his face that these horses belonged to Gundren and Sildar. Worse still, the saddlebags on the horses were looted. There was also an empty leather map case nearby.
Just as Maryth was about to turn back to the wagon, two goblins jumped out of the thicket, swords drawn. Two others were also visible now, nocking arrows to their bows.
Acting fast, Paul pulled himself and Portnoy off the wagon and hid behind it, where the goblins wouldn’t be able to get a clear line of sight.
Vaerion, who was the first in line of defence against the charging goblins was the first to attack. Screaming with anger, he slashed at one of the goblins. Luckily for it, the little creature managed to dodge the brunt of the strike, but only barely. For Vaerion’s greatsword still managed to meet its right arm, injuring it slightly.
Behind the wagon, Portnoy focused intently, trying to recall his studies of the arcane. Once he was certain that he had remembered the correct words, he recited them quickly and quietly, conjuring a shield around the wagon. The protective bubble was able to engulf everyone except for Maryth, who was still by the horses.
The two charging goblins slashed at Vaerion. But Vaerion was a skilled warrior, who managed to parry their attacks with ease. Another goblin shot an arrow at him, but missed and the arrow got lodged in one of the sacks on the wagon.
(Meanwhile, the oxen remained weirdly calm and collected, unfazed by the commotion of battle.)
The other goblin with the arrow decided to try its luck by attacking Maryth. Thanks to his elven reflexes and luck, however, Maryth managed to dodge the arrow. He then immediately nocked an arrow to his own bow and shot at the goblin without even looking.
Flying at an unnatural speed, the arrow passed straight through the poor goblin’s head and was lost in the distance.
Sensing that one of their comrades had fallen, the two charging goblins started to come at Vaerion with increased fervor. But even then, Vaerion was too skilled a warrior for them.
Paul, who was a bard, knew that open confrontation wasn’t his strongest suit. So he decided to sneak up on the goblins. Deciding that he was doing all right on his own, he left Portnoy’s side to flank the two goblins who were attacking Vaerion.
At this point, completely fed up with the two goblin’s shenanigans and utter incompetence, Vaerion raised his greatsword high and brought it down in a might slash. When he was done, one of the goblins was slashed clean in half. The two halves of the poor goblin flopped to the ground, sounding all sloshy and gross-like.
Then Portnoy decided to move towards the front of the wagon, so that he’d get a more clear view of what had now become a carnage. Seeing that there was still a goblin slashing away at Vaerion, Portnoy prepared his magic missiles and fired them at the goblin.
Three sizzling and crackling missiles hit the goblin in the head, which left it staggered. It wasn’t long before it got hit in the heart by one of Maryth’s arrows, who was slightly disappointed by this, because he had aimed for the creature’s head.
Seeing that three of its friends had been brutally slaughtered, the last remaining goblin decided to run for its life. Paul, who had been stealthed until now, started to run after it. He ran and he ran and got so close to the goblin that it could smell its soiled underpants. Alas, he got so excited that he stopped looking at where he was stepping. He tripped and fell and the goblin got away.
The Goblin Trail
Following the battle, the group realized that the direction towards which the goblin was running was a well-frequented trail. Seeing that this northwestward path was recently used by about a dozen goblins who were hauling two human-sized bodies, the party quickly came to the conclusion that the goblin’s hide-out must be at the path’s end.
They also realized that the goblins must have kidnapped Gundren and Sildar.
At this point, a long debate ensued. The party was divided whether they should search for Gundren or simply go to Phandalin, finish their job, and get paid. Paul strongly felt that they should not risk their lives for some unknown payoff. Vaerion argued that they had to save them, because it was the right thing to do.
Since Portnoy had basically dozed off after the battle, it was up to Maryth to break the tie. Being the cunning university teacher he is, Maryth argued that it was actually to even Paul’s benefit to go look for the goblins. After all, if they had been using this spot for ambushes for a long time, they had to have tons of loot.
Their plan was pretty straightforward. They’d leave Portnoy behind with the wagon and the oxen, while they investigated the path. As such, they set off, with Maryth leading the way.
Surrounded by the smell of pine trees, mint, and berries they walked towards the unknown. Soon after, Maryth brought the party to a halt, pointing at the ground in front of him, where there was a hidden snare.
This development startled the party, who realized that the whole path might be full of traps. Knowing that and increasingly becoming more paranoid, the party continued to follow the trail, practically kneeling to make sure they wouldn’t miss any more traps.
Surely enough, they came across another trap, this time in the form of a pit that was dug 10 feet deep and 6 feet wide. To show the trap, Maryth decided to spring it. As the camouflaged surface collapsed, it made a whole lot of commotion. Paul was certain that this would have alarmed the goblins at their lair.
But this also provided them with an opportunity to trap the trappers. The plan they came up with was very simple. Initially they thought it would be good to put Vaerion in the pit, but then decided that Paul would go down in the pit and play a tune on his flute.
Meanwhile, Vaerion and Maryth would hide behind the trees, waiting for the goblins to show up. When they did indeed show up, they would capture them and make it up as they went after that.
The Goblin Plan
They had to wait for quite a while before any goblins showed up. So much so that by the time they saw an orange light in the distance, the sun had already set. Slowly, it turned out that the source of the orange light was a torch carried by one of the two goblins approaching.
The goblin with the torch had its sword sheathed, while the other one was holding its. Listening to what the goblins might be saying, Maryth realized that they were talking about the horrible working conditions back at the cave. Turns out, the torchbearer’s boss had asked it to bring 5 fingers and was furious when it had been able to procure only four.
Suddenly, the two goblins started looking around suspiciously, as they had heard the weird flute tune coming from the pit. They approached the pit rather cautiously and looked down into it.
It was at this point that Vaerion and Maryth decided to spring the trap. They started to walk very slowly and very carefully towards the two goblins. Maryth planned to push one of the goblins down into the pit, but Vaerion simply wanted to grab hold of one of them.
One could imagine Maryth’s surprise when he stepped on a twig that cracked rather loudly. With no choice left, he rushed to push the goblin into the pit; but the small thing was able to resist him. Now they were locked in a grapple.
On the other hand, Vaerion was able to deftly maneouver himself around the the other goblin and grab hold of it and put a knife to its throat.
Seeing this, the goblin struggling with Maryth let go.
Answering Maryth’s questions, to goblin explained that its clan had indeed kidnapped Gundred under orders from someone named Black Spider and that he was indeed kept in their cave system. He also added that there were 20 goblins in that cave.
Constantly changing what he promised to the poor goblin, Maryth suddenly realized how they could use the two goblins to their own advantage.
It was all very clear really. The goblins had a sense of camaradery, exemplified by this goblin’s alarm when it saw its friend get captured by Vaerion. They also worked under harsh conditions, clearly unhappy by the hierarchical structure inherent in goblin workplaces that are led by bugbears.
“Two words,” Maryth said.