In the Footsteps of the Damned; Chapter 5

In the aftermath of the battle, some of the group dynamics start to really become apparent – largely the “playful” animosity between Zani and Rake really starts to show and come to a head, and how that irks Abraxos to no end.

Chapter 5

The door from whence the voice was heard was suddenly slammed shut, and the sound of hasty barricading – tables, chairs etc all being piled against the door slowly tailed off. Maybe I will get the respite we sorely need.

I looked around, and began to feel a small spark of anger, stoked by the unknown threats we were facing, directed at the goblins for standing in our way, at the Jarl for sending us on this mission, at my Celestial benefactor for encouraging me on this task, and at myself for ending up in this situation; a slave to circumstances based on my need for redemption.

With something between a growl and a snarl to myself, I am determined to make this all worth my while. I trust the Jarl half as far as I can throw him, and will not give him the opportunity to belittle or disbelieve the lengths we have gone for him, for his son. Gathering the ears of the fallen goblins should at least prove the trials and tribulations that we have endured. While going about my gristly work, I also found some supplies about the room and distributed them, along with keeping a jade statue of an elven god for myself (Rake didn’t seem to want it). Zani and Bejard seemed to be transfixed by some odd glowing mushrooms, but I steered clear – I need a clear head to ensure I survive this mess.

Backtracking slightly to a campfire, we rested briefly while working out what to do next. Faced with three doors, I noticed that only one had evidence of footprints, albeit seeming to go in the wrong direction – but maybe if we know where they had come from it could influence and tell us where they were going?

Finding ourselves in another pantry / storage area, there were jars upon jars of something labelled “Elf Pudding”. Rake was very eager to take a look at this, and immediately looked queasy when the contents turned out to be a foul smelling slop. I have a feeling this is not Pudding for Elves, but rather Pudding made from Elves… Our good companion, Bejard, stowed a couple of jars in his backpack; I am sure they are not for him, but who knows what the bear-man eats? Maybe he is holding on to it as a negotiation piece for later?

A rat running amongst the jars made Zani jump, I don’t blame her given her experiences of rats on this trip so far. I think Rake must be struggling with his shapeshift ability though, as before our eyes he then shifted into a rat and ran towards the shaken Zani! It was as if the world slowed and seconds stretched to minutes – seeing this happen and the rising panic in Zani, Bejard stepped forward to grab the gnome as she started an instinctual gesticulation, but he was not fast enough.

A loud thunderclap and wave of force threw us all back, and dazed us as Zani got her spell off. I am pretty sure that Bejard has concussion now, if he didn’t before. My spark of anger from earlier exploded into a tirade against that hapless gnome – was she trying to kill us?! Surely everything in this place with ears has now heard us coming!! I stalked off into the next room to calm down before I did something regrettable as my words and temper were having no effect on the diminutive twat. 

Following the corridor, I peeked into another room but the vile stench was too much for me and so I backed off, shutting the door again. Fi had followed me and opened a different door having heard a voice on the other side – seems to have been a brig of sorts. There was evidence of fighting with some skeletons and dead Kobolds lying around and the words “The Great Kobold Betrayed Us” scrawled up the wall. At the end of the room, was a small halfling in a cage. Smoke tried to pick the lock to free him, but cursed as her lockpick snapped.

I grabbed the ears of these deceased Kobolds to add to my collection of “evidence” – sure they were dead when we arrived, but it seems that they could have been working against us had they been breathing. As I did so, Bejard took the cage with the Halfling out to Zani to see if there was anything magical that could be done to free him, before returning and crushing the skulls of the skeletons. Given our earlier misadventures with the risen dead, I don’t blame him. Nearly finished with my task, there came a colossal knocking thud from outside the room – I rushed out to find Zani looking sheepish… is she really trying to kill us?! Fucking gnome! I must try to focus though, if I kill her, sweet as it may be, I would undoubtedly lose the support of the others, and having seen what we have faced so far, I cannot succeed in the task set before me without them.

Interrogating the ex-prisoner, it turns out he is Erki – Eysteinn’s friend who was with the wagon that went missing. He is a cleric of Runa, from Vithrenin travelling to Egrit, selling religious and magical artefacts along the way when he was captured by the goblins. Whilst captive, he had seen the Jarls’ son before they had led him away “downstairs”. He also regaled us of stories of the goblins – he can understand their language but listened without letting on. He tells of “Borruta, the great kobold” who is actually a red dragonborn in disguise, and how they deceived the kobolds who were here into working with the goblins. Taking measure of this halfling, something seems a little off – he seems a bit too well kept for the length of his captivity, it doesn’t add up, is he playing us against his own ends? The rest of the group seem ok with him though, and outfitted him with some spare chainmail I had found. It makes some sense for him to come with us, as we can help get him out of here, but also, he is then close at hand should he double cross us. I asked which way they went when they took Arnfinn, and proceeded in that direction.

Following the corridor, we happened upon a trio of scared goblins – I guess they heard the noise that Zani had been making and had their courage buckle! Bejard had the idea that we could try to talk with them with Erki as translator, to find out more about this place, but they were scared beyond their wits, attacking Bejard and doing significant harm. Bejard was quick to retaliate though – remind myself to never get on his bad side! Erki may be trustworthy after all, as I watched him reach out and call upon his deity to heal Bejards’ wounds – that is probably why he looked so well and healthy in his cage.

Idle in my thoughts of Erki (after collecting these ears as well, of course), I wandered further down the corridor to quietly listen at the next set of doors, when the floor gave way! I landed awkwardly as I fell, but called upon the last dwindling bit of light in my soul to take the pain away. As the tallest of us, Bejard jumped into the pit to help me out but I wanted a closer look at the door this pit was protecting – a tentative push revealed that they were barred.

Climbing out on the opposite side to the doors, the same side I had fallen in from, I threw caution to the wind – Zani had already made enough noise, I couldn’t make it worse, surely? And threw an eldritch infused blast at the doors, forcing them open.

Suddenly a chill emanates from the gaping doorway, as something pale moves inside….

What if that pit was to help contain the occupant of the room, instead of trying to keep invaders out?

Maybe I have made it worse, after all?

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