Once again I found myself standing outside a cave with a dead hobgoblin at my feet. I was thankful that at least this time it wasn’t due to an over-exuberance of dwarf-mead and poor life choices.
Our band of adventurers had discovered the cave thanks to a treasure map but were disappointed to find our hopes of an easy score dashed by a clan of hobgoblins who had made their home within.
Lunar, our resident footpad/murderous assassin volunteered to sneak into the cave and check for traps while I volunteered to stay outside and check the dead hobgoblin’s pockets for spare change. Shortly thereafter a sizable boom echoed from inside and dirty black smoke billowed from the cave entrance.
“Sounds like she found one,” I cheerily said, adding the pittance of coins I’d retrieved from the hobgoblin to my own money pouch.
Itiff and Lori pelted into the cave to see if she needed assistance. I tagged behind them, also concerned for Lunar’s wellbeing, and not at all because I wanted to laugh at a badly singed gnome.
I stifled my guffaw as Lunar hobbled to meet us, her clothes charred, her hair a smoldering mess.
Lori called upon the power of her god to heal the blistered burns that covered Lunar’s hands and face. I called upon the power of laughter to raise her battered spirits. Itiff suggested that pointing and chuckling wasn’t necessarily going to help matters. I had to disagree.
My mirth was cut short by the sound of running feet and the appearance of three burly hobgoblins. The narrow passage was the perfect opportunity to try a new spell I’d been experimenting with. Syllables of power tripping from my tongue, I called upon the weave and a crackling ball of fire blocked the passage. With a twist of my hand I bounced the flaming sphere into the nearest of my foes and was rewarded with a terrified scream. The hobgoblin’s accomplices were either braver or stupider than he because they elected to run through the fire and attack us.
I took a step backwards and allowed Itiff to join the fray. He is indeed an impressive sight wielding a sword in each hand, and occasionally proves that it’s not all show. This was to be one of those rare occasions and the hobgoblins were soon dispatched. Although I feel most of the credit was mine, the magical fire injuring and distracting our foe in equal proportions.
We carried on along the passage, and further into the cave, Itiff and Lori to the front, myself valiantly boosting Lunar’s moral with my presence at the rear.
A flight of roughhewn steps led down to a cavernous chamber where statues of long-dead heroes had been carved from the rock. At the far end of the cavern a campfire burned, the smoke disappearing into a chimney-like fissure overhead. From behind the fire charged four massive hobgoblins, their faces ugly with rage.
Itiff and Lori dashed to meet them while magic darts of the brightest blue sparked from my fingers and slammed into the largest of our attackers. He growled ferociously, his yellow eyes full of fury, but otherwise seemed untroubled by my assault and I must admit to feeling a tad concerned. As you may have gleaned from my previous tales my comrades are wont to rely on my magical prowess to rescue them from a sticky situation but this was the second significant battle of the day and I was somewhat drained.
A twang by my side announced Lunar’s entry to the fracas. She must have still been suffering from the effects of her toasting because her bolt flew well shy of its target. Unless of course that target was Lori’s buttocks. Thanks to her chainmail our dwarven paladin was spared any significant harm but the surprise poke to her rump caused her to miss-time the swing of her mighty warhammer.
Itiff was faring little better. His twin swords flashed and blood spurted from his wounded opponent. His devastating attack had however left him open and the other hobgoblin brooked no mercy. He drove forward with a javelin, puncturing Itiff’s armour. Itiff dived sideways, executing a maneuver which I’m sure seemed much better in his head than it appeared in reality. I would be the first to admit that I am no expert in the way of the warrior, but the roly-poly is not a technique I have seen used in battle before. The hobgoblins seemed as surprised as me by our half-elves’ display of school-yard gymnastics and I took the opportunity to level one of them with a mighty bolt of fire that burst forth from my fingers.
Itiff rolled to his feet and was met by a devastating slash of the hobgoblin’s sword. He collapsed, clutching his guts, near mortally wounded. The hobgoblin raised his javelin to deliver the killing blow.
Although I am indeed renowned for my bravery, it is indeed the kind of bravery that comes from staying well out of the aggro and slinging spells from afar. So I have to be honest, (and I am indeed nothing if not honest), that no-one was more surprised than me when I ran at the hobgoblin screaming an ancient elvish curse and waving my staff. My blow bounced harmlessly off the hobgoblin’s chestplate. I am after all not built for the rough and tumble of combat but I did at least distract the hobgoblin from finishing off Itiff.
To my left I saw a combination of Lori’s warhammer and Lunar’s crossbow drop another of our enemy and I offered a small prayer to any god that would listen that they would soon be able to help me. I was not accustomed to being this close to my enemy, normally preferring to have twenty yards and at least two of my comrades between me and potential attackers.
The hobgoblin swung his sword and I remember thinking how much bigger and indeed how much sharper it looked up close. I like to refer to what I did next as skillfully parrying the hobgoblin’s attack, and certainly not a lucky deflection with my staff while cowering, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
When I opened my eyes, Lori was alongside me, which would have been great had she not overenthusiastically swung her warhammer, missing her target and sending it whistling dangerously close to my ducked head.
Adrenalin fueling my body I blasted our last opponent with a gout of fire and sent him to a fiery death. Exhausted, I dropped to my knees, knowing that I, Tarquin the honest had bravely saved the day, and resolute in the knowledge that there was no bloody way I was ever doing that again.