Conscientious Objectors

This is why I don't get my hands dirty

Goodness, the plant beast was quite the battle. But I decided that an internal attack was the best way to go, and it seems to have worked. None of my compatriots are dead and I’ve managed to put the bits of me I’ve lost back, for the most part.

Strangely, after the battle my “husband” and one of the other goblins have started behaving strangely—

Wait, I just re-read that.

Anyway, after marshalling our forces, we decide to press on, knowing that Akarundo has likely expended many of his more precious spells. If this plan works, we may yet engage him while he is weakened. As we press deeper into the cave, we discover a fancy breastplate and a corpse. As well as a corridor full of black mud.

Eeeevil, black mud.

New guy investigates, judges it safe, and we start in. One of the charauka scouts ahead. The ability to climb seems more and more useful. I should learn. However, the charauka soon returns. With the two mud creatures she managed to provoke into an ambush. Which then proceed to drop stinky, burning clouds of gas on us. Very quickly, Gritta takes off, badly wounded. Terod (the new guy) falls, gravely injured. So I do what any heroic bard would do.

I pick him up out of the mud in one hand, and proceed to stab one of the mud creatures to death with the other hand.

It works out well enough, though the creature I’ve just dispatched has sorely wounded me. Nevertheless, we manage to triumph over the remaining enemy. However, even using up the rest of our healing, we’re still in a bad way, and so we decide to turn back and rendezvous with Kyras back where we left him.

After a rather uneventful jaunt back, we rendezvous with Kyras, and set about questioning Ugimmo. He claims to have a ‘mission’ whereby he serves as Voice of the Swamp (otherwise known as Froghemeth or somesuch). We don’t know who or what this Voice is, but apparently he lives in one of the nearby lakes. Provided my murder of Akarundo is not on the menu for today, I expect maybe we’ll explore the lake and this beast.

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In Search of Khalid-Shah

The first order of business was the interrogation of Tarli, the young human woman who had been with Akarundo in the colosseum full of corpses. She explained that she was looking for her boyfriend, Jama, who had left the human district about a week previously, after he and Tarli had been fighting. He’d recently been seen moving toward the vegepygmy district, so Tarli had taken a boat and was paddling across the lake to find him when she’d seen him on the island. Naturally, she had joined him. They were canoodling in the arena when the group had burst in and Jama had suddenly attacked her and somehow cast a lot of spells. The group convinced her that Akarundo wasn’t Jama, and she set out on her boat to find her actual boyfriend.

The group then decided to go back to Pegasus and Unicorn. They hopped from island to island, and discovered that Ugimmo had returned and was rifling through their stuff. They quickly knocked him out (since Issilar was insistent that he could be a useful contact) and took all his possessions. He was locked in one room and all his gear was locked in another. The group explained that they didn’t have time to deal with him at the moment, so he’d have to remain a prisoner until a more convenient time.

At a loss for a better plan, the group decided to go with Issilar’s back-up idea, which was to contact Khalid-Shah (the mud genie) and request his help. His island was inconveniently placed, so the group began the process of sneaking cautiously around the perimeter of the main island. Things went fairly well until they reached one of the bridges to the mainland and discovered a squad of degenerate serpentfolk there on guard duty. The judicious use of major image made short work of that encounter, and soon the serpentfolk were dashing off in another direction.

It was at around this time that the group spotted Akarundo. He was atop the ziggurat near the centre of the island, and had dozens of degenerate serpentfolk surrounding him. They couldn’t tell what he was doing, but at least they’d figured out where he was. Being careful to avoid being spotted, they continued on their way.

As the day wore on it became increasingly hot. Many of the serpentfolk, including those in the party, just wanted to crawl into a shadow and have a siesta. Using this to their advantage, they managed to bluff their way past the remaining bridge to the mainland and make it the rest of the way to Khalid-Shah’s island.

It took some searching, but eventually they found a vine-filled shaft leading down to the island’s interior. Two of the goblins, the two charau-ka, and several serpentfolk made their way down. The shaft was treacherous, and at the bottom was a giant flytrap. Killing the plant proved somewhat difficult, particularly since people trapped inside one of its mouth-like leaves began taking damage from digestive acid. In the end though the heroes were victorious and the plant died. Strangely, however, the two goblins began acting very peculiarly.

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Issilar comes home

After wrangling Unicorn and Pegasus, our spider climbing mules, across the broken bridge we ventured deeper into Saventh-Yhi in the hopes freeing Issilar’s people. Our investigations were almost immediately brought up short when we came across a frog person leading a group of zombies. Issilar had some experience with this particular frog person, whose name was Ugimmo, so we were unsure if conflict would be necessary, but the situation quickly escalated when Dark Fire unleashed a burst of negative energy. Ugimmo sent the zombies after all the goblins and Dark Fire in particular was swarmed and killed. While I do not delight in the killing of any living creature, I find it difficult to work up too much sympathy for Dark Fire. She was a particularly unpleasant little goblin and caused much pain and suffering to the rest of the party. Nevertheless, even she did not deserve the indignity of Ugimmo raising her from the dead to fight as a zombie. Luckily, Brea was nearby and made sure that Dark Fire’s death was extremely permanent. With the zombies distracted by the goblins, the rest of us made short work of them and Kyras even captured one for his own use. Unfortunately, we were not able to interrogate Ugimmo about why he was so far from the frog people part of the city as he jumped into water and escaped as soon as his zombies were defeated.

As we were recovering from the battle, a man by the name of Gethedar arrived with Gravy in tow. We had thought that Gravy died trying to ride a flying monster but apparently he had just been knocked out. More surprises were in store for us as it seems that Gethedar is also a serpent folk and not on board with reuniting Ydersius with his head. We have decided to travel together and since some of our companions have been in torpor for a worryingly long time, the added reinforcements are much appreciated.

We travelled a little ways further down the island and were suddenly confronted with yet another serpent folk, this time it was an old friend/enemy of Varia’s name Zif-Tarrin. The two talked briefly and then he teleported away. We all got a very creepy vibe from him, but it is unclear if he is working for the serpent folk army or just working toward his own ends. If he was working for the army, they will soon know where we are, so it is imperative that we keep moving.

We made our way across a few small islands until we came to the main serpent folk part of Saventh-Yhi. Issilar had a few guesses as to where Akarundo, the one who had taken control of the rest of the serpent folk, might be hiding and it turns out we found him on the first try. We encountered Akarundo in a huge colosseum full of dead bodies and interrupted him in the the middle of a sacrificial ceremony. He was a very powerful opponent with a toughness and a resistance to magic we had not encountered since the ill-fated battle with the shadow monster. Unlike the shadow monster, though, he also had a habit of shooting very dangerous lighting bolts. Brea got a lucky hit on him and did some severe damage and just as we were settling in for a nasty fight, he teleported away. Very frustrating. We were able to heal the woman he was trying to sacrifice, though, so perhaps she can shed some light on what is going on and where he might have gone to.

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At last, some headway

So we’ve finally set out for Saventh-Yhi, clearing a trail for the caravan. At first, I’m excited to be on our way, but after seven days of uneventful travel (well, as uneventful as traveling with a handful of goblins can be… and they are a handful) I was excited for any action of any sort.

We finally arrive at the outskirts of the town, and come to a cliff. Rather than spend another week’s time making some sort of trail down, we simply climb down and send the mules down via Spider Climb. Though I’m personally not that big a fan of magic use, I will confess that on occasion, magic users can certainly be handy to have around.

We finally make our way to a bridge. Issilar’s warnings about the creatures that inhabit this area are heeded, but sometimes the best course of action is to spring the trap set for you and clear it that way. With myself and our ranger taking an upper bridge (her to shoot anything, me to protect her), and the rest of the group sending Marcello across the lower bridge as bait, we are set upon by a number of flying creatures and some crocodiles.

Meanwhile, Mine (one of the goblins) manages to wheedle a dagger and some armor from Rafan. I presume Rafan did so in order to gain Mine’s trust, because she then promptly tries to trip Mine. I can’t read goblin emotions that well, but I presume Mine was not happy. However, I am busy fighting off the flying creatures, and manage to drop one into the water below. It is promptly eaten by a crocodile. Gravy tries to ride one of the other lizards. For a while, it goes well.

Down below, a crocodile roughs up one of our charau-ka, which then promptly runs away. Always nice to know we can depend on them…

Gravy shouts to me that he’s named his lizard Brea. This makes me slightly uncomfortable. However, Gravy being Gravy, promptly falls off the flying creature and hits the ground. Hard.

I am quickly preoccupied with a second flying creature, as Issilar summons a dragon and Dark Fire… fires off two pulses of energy that hit more of us than them. I remind myself to kill Dark Fire at the earliest opportunity.

I finally dispose of the second flying creature to engage me, and take stock of the situation. Marcello is busy being attacked by everything, Varia has sent her pet hawk (where in the world did she find a hawk?) to harass the enemy, Dark Fire is more painfully annoying (to the point that I’m given to understand he kills my husband), and Mine is being a little creepy towards Rafan. We make quick work of the remaining crocodiles and push on into the city.

We presume the portion of the city we’ve entered is uninhabited, but I will confess it was the creepiest city I’ve been in in some time. Old buildings that look far too well maintained. An aura that is almost palpable. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I notice my desire to murder Dark Fire is somewhat lessened.

As dusk falls, we barricade ourselves in one of the buildings, and pass an uneventful night. Come daybreak, we look to make our way across one of the broken bridges to the center of the city. As we approach the bridge, I’m no longer feeling so charitable towards Dark Fire. In fact he seems to be acting more suspicious than usual. And I can’t quite put my finger on what I’ve noticed to feel that way. Aside from the fact that he’s a goblin.

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Sometimes it's worth it to pay the piper

I’ve had morning breath.

I’ve had bad morning breath.

This… this was something else. I ran my tongue around my mouth. This… this was wrong.

“Cuddles peed in your mouth while you were sleeping.” I don’t know which of my companions sent me the telepathic message, all I know is I was now awake. Fully. My dragon blood now pumping from the rage I felt.

But I bide my time.

The others are talking to a strange serpent folk, whose name turns out to be Issilar. Apparently he lived at Saventh-Yhi, uses an army of strange monkey beings (which we have, so far, had great luck in killing), and has a machine that he thinks will grant him great powers (but which should just point us in the direction of Saventh-Yhi).

But more importantly, there’s the little bastard Cuddles. Glaring at me. If only he had an idea. I make a show of reaching into my bag of holding. Deep in my bag of holding. I let frustration show on my face. The moron edges closer. I tell him of the six gold ingots in my bag that I can’t quite reach. Could he, with his smaller, more nimble hands reach them for me?

He’s suspicious. Of course, he’s suspicious. A suspicion born not of intelligence, but more animal instinct, I presume. I placatingly tell him they’re to pay him and his troupe. He edges closer.

Closer.

Close enough.

I grab him around the throat, stuff him into the bag of holding, and close it up. I figure he can breathe for eight, maybe ten minutes. I may let him out. I’m not sure yet. Regardless, I get up and introduce myself to the strange serpentfolk.

As we’re chatting, there is the sound of a very large explosion. It comes from… of course, it comes from my bag. Which is now wreathed in a pall of smoke. But I didn’t even have any explosives in there. Just the gold, my animal skins, and the 20 daggers—.

Oh.

I open the bag, hoping that the skins have survived. Maybe even the gold too. But, no. Apparently, even the most remarkably idiotic goblin is resourceful enough (or stupid enough) to try cutting his way out of an extra-planar pocket. At least my weapons and armour were on me at the time. But still… my skin collection. I had such a good one. And they weren’t even putrefying this time. But I did manage to get my revenge. So… there’s that.

The rest of the goblins seem relatively unaffected by my murdering one of their kind. They’re too busy preparing for my wedding to one of them. I know, I know. ‘But Het’Kiril, you’re so much more evolved than those things, why would you marry one?’ It’s my hope that my marrying one of them, my intimidating demeanor, and killing one on occasion will help make them a little more… well, controllable isn’t the right word… more receptive to pointing their destruction in the direction I tell them to. Besides, given their life expectancy, I imagine the issue will resolve itself sooner rather than later.

Anyway, the group makes its way to a room with a number of pillars and what appears to be a star chart. Issilar shows us 3 of the 4 focus stones for the pillars. We try to convince Issilar that it’s just a map (though the stars are wrong… perhaps, because it’s so old the stars have drifted since the map was made? Something I should ponder), to no avail.

What we do get out of Issilar, though, is some information about Saventh-Yhi. It’s broken into seven sections, six of which are inhabited by humans, vege-pygmies (your guess is as good as mine), stinky lizard people, charauka (From what I gather, these are the monkey beings), frog people, and serpentfolk. Oh, and the lake has lake monsters. Oh, and there’s a mud genie. Oh, and there’s a scary mind-controller who has taken over the serpentfolk area.

I find myself reconsidering our journey.

Anyway, we marshall our troops and Isselar does the same. We decide to rest the night so our magic users of all denominations will be fresh and ready. At around this point, we discover that one of the goblins has decided to appropriate the two remaining lizard eggs. Some of my more… vocal… companions decide to dissuade him. It isn’t long before he’s disabled, bleeding, and is stripped of all his possessions.

At this point, the goblin “king” is trying to gather people for the wedding. One of the goblins decides to light a fire (I presume as some sort of wedding bonfire, but… well… it’s a goblin). He picks one of the lakes of flammable tar.

In an effort to keep the rest of the goblins contained, I come up with a quest for them: fetch me a branch from the boab tree in one of the ziggurats. Naturally, they find a charauka spell caster. Who doesn’t seem too aware of the current cease-fire between our two forces. Or just doesn’t care.

So Gravy (my husband to be) tackles it. I can’t figure out if the goblin is trying to wrestle with or ride the charauka, and I can hardly fathom the barvery and stupidity behind the action, but I’m never one to pass up a fight, so I follow my fiance in. I choose to merely go through the wall, however. Turns out Gravy is a bit of a powerhouse at wrestling.

Assuming that this charauka has been dealing with Issilar, and that Issilar has been using telepathy to communicate, I tell the charauka to stand down via telepathy, hoping he will believe the order comes from Issilar. No such luck. In fact, he drops Gravy (who might be a powerhouse at wrestling, but he needs to put on some bulk to be better at it).

And then the charauka breathes fire at me. So, naturally, I do what any dragon kin would do. I return the favour. Unfortunately, his fire is a little more powerful than mine. So I just hit him with my sword. At this point, Issilar arrives and orders the charauka to stand down. The charauka defies him. So… I murder the charauka.

We are all a bit surprised to find that the charauka (whose name turns out to be Raogru) had in his possession the fourth focus stone. Issilar is a little more forgiving of our killing Raogru now in light of this evidence of betrayal.

Unfortunately, even with all four focus stones, we are unable to activate the pillar device. And so we leave for Saventh-Yhi with Issilar and his remaining few charauka. Unfortunately, this is as far as Zoo and Kadda decide to come, and they stay behind with Kalla’s body and Sharta-Meklesh’s long-comatose body to rendezvous with the caravan.

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From the Very Secret Diaries of Lena-Karik

And then through the OTHER door was a bunch of hanging vines and a killer plant monster.

And then through the OTHER door were apemen watching us.

Giant wasps, traps, glowing heads. There better be nice things around to steal or this isn’t worth it.

For some reason or another all the goblins were eager to go into the room with the attacking plant. One of them wanted to ride it, one wanted to fight it, and at least three just went in to watch. Goblins are small and small things are supposed to be cute, but these ones are a little weird and annoying and gross. Maybe if I make them wear funny caps and kept them on a leash they would be more desirable to me.

I watched from the hall as the plant released a cloud of spores, making the Goblin King and the one that ate my pet lizard egg start hallucinating something painful. I couldn’t pay too much attention because Zoo saw three apemen near the entrance and Marcello, Kyras, Rafan, and Kara had to deal with that fiasco.

With all this going on, it was lucky two goblins entertained themselves over by Brea’s body. She…kinda smells like pee now though.

I split my time between the two fights and it was clear one was more dangerous than the other. Five more apemen appeared, along with a four-armed Monkey King. Can we take a moment to discuss why every other being is a king? Perhaps the definition of monarchy needs to be revisited. Or I need to claim a throne before someone else does. I hereby declare myself the King of my group of friends and travellers. Wonder how long it will be before they realize it.

Anyway, one or two of the goblins, alas, did not make it. I’m not sure who.

After the monkeys were dead/ran away and the plant was defeated, we had the fun terrifying experience of meeting another serpentfolk. I was ready to scare him off but the group decided to try talking to him first, and he was surprisingly reasonable. We told him we were mercenaries hired by Shivane. He called himself Issilar and sounded to me like he was a sheltered serpentfolk who had been ruling over some of our not-so-bright brethren and minding his own business when someone named Akarundo stole his tribe from him. Issilar said he has been gathering an army of apemen and wants to hire us to go to a place that sounds suspiciously like Saventh-Yhi. Could it be that easy for us? Issilar wants us to go with him to find a mud genie that lives under his island and bribe the genie into helping get back his tribe. We don’t trust Issilar, but we don’t really trust anyone.

Just hope Issilar doesn’t find the bodies of his apemen army we have killed. Or that we are serpentfolk. Shh secrets.

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Excerpt 2 from Akara-Jetzii's Travelogue
Brief Excerpt 2

Well, wouldn’t you know, just when you think help couldn’t hit lower quality, it does. Sure, the first set was annoying, but at least they were somewhat useful. These little goblins are annoying and do nothing but drag trouble our way. This time it was giant wasps. Giant. Wasps. Granted, it could have been worse, but it would be better if they just told us about these things instead of bringing them to us with no warning.

We killed all the wasps. And burnt their nest, so hopefully that problem is solved. Though I think Yssith-Atil may have found something in the water on one side of the temple. Hopefully we can just stay out of the water (unlike one of the goblins). I think another might have been killed by the wasps. (I find it difficult to keep track of the little things, honestly). The fight was rather strange, as the wasps seemed interested mostly in picking the goblins up and taking them back to the nest. Which, really, would that have been so awful? I know, respect for all life forms, etc., but really? Goblins? Ugh.


Ugh no longer conveys the strength of my antipathy for the goblins! One of them ate one of the beautiful lizard eggs we were hatching!!!! I am horrified and very angry. Very angry. I vote for no more trying to save the horrid things from their own stupidity. Rotters! :(

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Het-Kiril, on the Problem with Goblins

Goblins are stupid. There, I said it.

The goblins returned from their scouting with some presents for us. In the form of several large, angry gorilla-esque beasts. I mean, yes, they’ll do well in my skin bag ( the gorillas, not the goblins), but bringing the enemy back to your allies is not typically the soundest of tactical decisions.

Naturally, two of the goblins are immediately downed, one of the more idiotic goblins decides to try taming the beasts, and the rest promptly panic. Varia does what Varia does and shoots one of the gorillas to death, at which point the other two grab goblins and start running away. Can’t have that, as I presume goblins are pretty easy to torture for information. And so, Varia and I kill the remaining two (gorillas, not goblins).

We fix the goblins (as in healing, not ‘fixing’), I skin the gorillas, and we question the goblins. Turns out, they stumbled upon a group of these gorilla things (possibly a hunting party)and decided to bring them to us. Wonderful.

With that bit of excitement behind us, we set off to the city and quickly enough, we find a break in the wall. The city smells very strongly of tar. We sent Mine and Sneak-Sneak (two of the goblins, but I couldn’t tell you which two, they all look alike to me) in to do reconnaissance.

What a stupid plan.

After we regroup and get inside, turns out Mine had managed to get himself stuck in a net trap (which he proudly pointed out was now disabled), and they had spent much of the time looking for things to steal.

Regardless, we do find a stone tower with a pit full of snakes in it. As we’re coming up with a plan of action, we’re set upon by yet more apes. Varia kills one, and I receive a blessing in disguise. One of the apes manages to get loose and sets into me. Somehow or other, it gets a lucky hit on my head, and I find I can no longer hear. At all.

Including those goblins. Finally, a bit of good luck!

Anyway, Rafan and I kill the last two apes, and we figure out a way across the snake pit using fire, tar from one of the tar lakes we find, and a rope bridge. Kara and I get across, only to find a 40ft deep shaft to some tunnels. The others appear to hear more apes, which presents us a logistical problem. While we could get everyone across the pit, the two mules would be stuck on the other side. While I have no problem leaving goblins to die, I do draw the line at leaving the poor animals (the mules, not the goblins) to die.

We exit the tower, and head for the forest to the next building which includes a series of three towers and a trap. We actually manage to find the trap, but we decide to skip on to the next building instead of exploring this one.

We get to the ziggurat, which we find infested with wasps. Giant wasps. Oh good.

Kara, Sneak-Sneak, and Mine go in to explore. Apparently they find little more than fungal spores and some doors. I wonder if I should have pointed out that Kara likely would not understand the goblins, but then I realize she’s likely the most competant of the scouts, and is the most likely to get away should things go badly, given that she has two distractions with her.

Naturally, when the scouts return, they do so quite quickly. With a couple of giant wasps in tow.

Sigh.

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From the Diary of Lena-Karik

I am not heightist. I have had some very nice human pets of tiny-to-average size. Kari-krex has proved to be a far better employee than any of her other taller and lifespan challenged co-workers. Well, except for earlier when she found new friends and attacked us. We did some investigating and she seems to be under the influence of some mind control and doesn’t think what she did was frowned upon. We managed to lift the mind control for a few minutes and offered Kari-krex a huge raise of one Gold a day to cooperate. We’re still trying to figure out how to cure her of it, but don’t know how it happened or what it’s doing to her. In the meantime, we’ll just keep her shackled to our newly acquired mule, Pegasus. Kari-krex sleeps a lot now and mutters to herself. I think it’s a sign of her shortness crazy showing.

A few days after we rescued Kari-krex, Zoo was on watch and woke us up because she heard a commotion. A large creature was approaching with many voices of excited chatter. My heart caught at the thought of more pets, but alas it was a giant scorpion with a bunch of yappy goblins tied to its back. Our group took down the scorpion. Turns out the most of the goblin tribe died trying to tame this cuddly new mode of transportation.

I’m not saying I don’t like them because they are small, but I don’t speak goblin and their small bodies make small vocal cords make loud squeaky sounds make me want to kick them into the Lake of No Return. Marcello Vicola did a spell to understand them for a bit but even he lost patience.

One spot of amusement the goblins did provide was that one proposed to Brea Solaan. Brea Solaan accepted on the terms she be named Goblin Queen. One goblin called Marcello Vicola boss and told him there was a placed called Giant Rock Town nearby which would be good for a destination wedding, so we decided might as well use the goblins to clear the path before we cleared the path for the caravan. Goblins have little little legs though and didn’t get very far in front of us.

Thankfully Giant Rock Town is actually Tazion, so we have arrived at our destination at last. Our one remaining mode of communication to the caravan is tied to us. I hope no one needs to tell the caravan anything important anytime soon.

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February 17

With that awkward encounter behind them, the heroes put a couple more hours between them and the river before camping for the night. They even had an entire uneventful day of travel toward Tazion.

They only had the one, though. Lamashan 11 saw a fight with a four-armed gorilla in the morning, and before evening they realized that there was a group following them. They assumed that this group was antagonistic, and set up their camp in order to trap them.

The other group was led by none other than Kari-krex, one of the people the heroes had hired to act as a runner between themselves and their caravan. She led five others into the camp and started looking around. The heroes had put a scarecrow in front of their fire to make it look like someone was standing watch. As they tried to encircle the camp in order to entrap their guests, one of them saw them and shouted a warning.

As the newcomers prepared to defend themselves, the heroes attacked. The fight was long, but eventually Kari-krex and one of the others fell, while the rest fled.

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