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Max_Writer

Pathfinder - The Sunless Citadel 4 - Goblin Talks and Dragon Priest

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

(After Jacob Marcus ran his Pathfinder game “The Sunless Citadel” with Justin Moser, Victoria Larson, Katelyn Hogan, and me Monday, October 30 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

Iago’s Memoirs

Our 8th day in the village of Oakhurst, I checked in on Gurgle’s room and found the goblin had curled up in one of the dresser drawers to sleep. When I went down to meet the others, Hercule and Dolf were down in the taproom. Dem ran up the stairs as we came down. Catarina was also there, buying the two dwarves ale. She was telling Hercule of her system for his being mute: slap the bar once for more ale and twice for no more ale.

“Greetings Catarina,” I said.

“Come, my friends!” she said. “We found Dolf. We found Hercule. We’re drinking much ale.”

There were several mugs on the bar in front of her. I ordered breakfast wine and food for Gurgle and I, and we sat down at our usual booth. I told Catarina that if we could find a way to get Dolf’s tongue back, we would bring it back and give it to the dwarf. She looked confused.

“For his tongue!” I said. “He’s missing a tongue.”

“No no,” Catarina said. “But we can get the tongue and bring it to him, but how to do we put it back?”

“Magic!” I said. “If we find something magical down there, we’ll use it to bring his tongue back.”

“If we do find his tongue, we will not want to retrieve it,” she said.

“I don’t think Dolf would be good with you keeping his tongue,” Brook said.

Argie and I discussed the possibility of using someone else’s tongue for Dolf, perhaps with a mending spell. Brook noted she’d rather have her own tongue back.

“Why are we having this conversation?” I asked.

“Because I have questions!” Catarina said.

I didn’t think a mending spell would work though I noted it would make an interesting experiment.

I also told Catarina we had a map of the Sunless Citadel that Gurgle had given it to us. I showed her the map and she pored over it a little, asking what the scribbles on it were. I noted they were the map key, which showed what various symbols were and which direction was north and a scale.

“North’s the cold one,” she said.

“Very good,” I said.

Catarina talked about wanting to punch things that would punch back. I suggested Brook could go on a reconnaissance mission into Goblin Town, noting I could turn her invisible if she wished. I had noticed she was very quiet. Catarina did not like the idea as they would not see her when she punched them and being seen was very important.

“Yes, I wasn’t going to cast it on you, dear,” I said.

I realized the spell wouldn’t last very long, however, certainly not long enough for Brook to explore far.

“It was just a thought,” I said.

We looked at the map and Brook noted there was a way into Goblin Town via the kobold throne room.

“Ah, there’s a back door!” I said.

We discussed taking the back door to Goblin Town with the hopes of rescuing the kobold’s dragon that way.

After we ate and discussed everything we sent Brook, to see if Argie’s armor was ready. We had only commissioned it the night before and when Brook asked the dwarf about it, he told Argie to come with him. Argie went. When she returned, she wore a suit of fortress plate, with plates over her tail as well.

Catarina elbowed Brook.

“What’s that?” she said, pointing at Gurgle.

“That’s our goblin friend we made down in the pits,” Brook said.

“Y’all are friends?” Catarina said.

“Yeah,” Argie said. “We got another one too. He’s my favorite. We’re going to meet him again.”

“Oh yeah, she’s got a kobold,” Brook said.

“Yeah.”

“Little runt kobold.”

“He’s adorable.”

“Y’all are friends?” Catarina asked again.

“Yeah,” Brook said.

“Shit happens down in the deep,” Argie said.

I took Gurgle to the general store and outfitted him with short sword, short bow, arrows, leather armor and a leather helmet, clothing, basic equipment, and some smoked glass goggles to protect his eyes from the sun, which he was more susceptible to then we were. I told him he could go with us or go anywhere he wanted. Gurgle stood very proudly with more composure than he had before. He looked down as he struggled to affix his sword but eventually got it to hang as he wanted. He put his hands on his hips proudly.

“Gurgle will go with you now,” he said.

“Good,” I said.

We headed for the ravine. En route, we told Catarina of some of the other things we found, including the room with the elf sarcophagi. That prompted a discussion on looting of the dead with Argie firmly on the side of respecting the dead and Catarina of the opinion that people who don’t use items should be relieved of them. Catarina asked about things that attacked or walked and Argie was fine with looting those.

Gurgle kept looking directly at the sun with his goggles. I told him not to do that, warning him he’d go blind.

We arrived at the ravine a few hours later. There was the smell of smoke in the air like hot metal.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “I guess we’d better go tell the villagers the goblins are pissed off and it’s all the mayor’s fault.”

“Basically,” Brook said.

“Yes,” Argie said.

“They’re mad about the rope,” I said.

“Smells like a good fight,” Catarina said.

We discussed scouting out the area invisibly first. We threw down the chain, making a good deal of noise. Then we waited a few moments to see if any goblin skirmishers showed up. None did. When nothing happened for about five minutes, we discussed a little more. We talked of Brook going down to scout around or Argie, who had darkvision. In the end, we decided to just enter the ravine as a group.

We climbed down to the top of the strange butte and then headed down in the darkness of the ravine. I put the enchanted candle into my belt pouch again, the lit end sticking out to give us light. Brook had her enchanted lantern. Catarina led the way down with Argie and Brook following her. Gurgle and I brought up the rear.

We went down to the very bottom of the stairs and could hear, off in the distance, the sound of war drums. It was the same drums that escorted us in our flight the day before. I pointed out if we didn’t want to fight, we could just pull up the chain and they’d be trapped there.

“But what if they go after the kobolds?” Argie asked.

“Oh, that’s right,” I said. “All right.”

“We gotta help the kobolds,” Brook said.

“We gotta help the kobolds,” I said. “Let’s go.”

Catarina pointed towards the first tower we’d entered, where the sounds of drums came from.

“I assume I’m supposed to punch that,” she said.

“Eventually,” I said. “Let’s go talk to the kobolds before we attack the goblins.”

We tried to remember how many goblins there were. We thought there were 30 goblins and we’d killed five and a hobgoblin and taken Gurgle. The goblin had pushed his goggles up onto the forehead of his helmet.

We went by the trap and through the broken tower, heading down the corridor beyond and looking into the two side rooms as we moved through. The room we’d found Meepo had the bench \ overturned and smashed. Argie got anxious when she saw it.

“I don’t understand why a bench is important,” Catarina said.

“It was Meepo’s bench,” I said.

“It’s not the bench, it’s the person,” Argie said.

“If you knew Meepo …” I said.

“Who’s Meepo?” Catarina said.

“He’s her son!” I said.

“My son!” Argie said.

“You’ll meet him soon enough,” I said.

We opened the door to the hallway that led to Koboldville. We came face to face with a spiked barricade and some very angry kobolds.

“Greetings, kobolds!” I said in draconic. “It is us.”

“What did you do!?!” one of them screeched in draconic.

“What did it say?” Catarina said. “Is it dying? I didn’t do it. But is it dying?”

“No, not yet,” I said to her.

Then I turned back to the kobolds.

“We rescued one of the villagers from the town on our way through to get the dragon,” I said in draconic.

“The elder wants to see you!” the kobold said.

“Don’t you raise your voice to me,” I said.

The kobolds opened up the barricade for us, glaring at Gurgle as we moved through.

“Meepo!” Argie called.

Meepo came running, leaping into the air to land in the wyvaran’s embrace.

“Y’all keep picking up tiny sidekicks,” Catarina said.

“Well …” Argie said. “It wasn’t intentional but it’s welcome.”

“It’s all that was here,” I said. “Next time we’ll try to get bigger ones for you.”

They led us to the throne room where we noticed signs of combat. I guessed the goblins had come through the back door. More barricades were set up there as well. It looked like they had sealed the door shut as best we could. The female kobold elder glared at us.

“Hello!” I said happily to her.

“Please tell me you’re with them,” the kobold elder said in common to Catarina.

Then she turned to me.

“I don’t know what you did,” she said to me. “But the war drums started to beat─”

“We rescued the dwarf from the village who was captured by the goblins,” I said.

“That must have been yesterday,” the elder said.

“Yes,” I said. “On our way to find your dragon.”

“Just past lunchtime yesterday, war drums began to beat and they have not stopped beating since,” she said.

“Then we shall go stop them beating,” I said.

“And they have begun to attack us on an almost hourly basis,” she said.

“Oh good!” Catarina said. “It’ll schedule when I get to crush things.”

Yusdrayl looked at Catarina.

“You are most welcome to punch as much as you want,” the elder said.

“Yes!” Catarina said.

“We also got this from the goblins,” I said, showing her the map. “I don’t know if you have any maps of this place or not, but …”

The elder hopped off of her chair and scurried over to me as I lifted up the map and looked at it carefully.

“She’s already pissed off at us, Iago,” Brook said. “Please give her the map.”

“I just want to see it,” she said. “Can I just see it?”

I handed her the map and she looked at it for quite some time. She handed it back to me.

“If you can find another one, I want it,” she said. “Or, if you’ll permit us to make copies, can we do that?”

I nodded and handed her the map. She handed it to another kobold who ran to a table with ink and a very large, crude skin for drawing on. He made a crude but functional replica of the map. In that time, I apologized for the inconvenience of the attacks and for not alerting her, but did point out we sent three of her kobolds, who had been prisoners, ahead. I told her we thought they would alert the entire tribe.

“Yes, they did warn us,” she said. “They did warn us and we had quite enough time. Not enough time to barricade the back door, but enough to adequately repel them.”

“Did you know about the back door?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Why was it not already barricaded?”

“It was. With a trap that we put there.”

“The pit trap. The goblins knew about it. It’s on the map.”

“Obviously.”

“We have found something else. There’s a room with a fountain that might spew death. We don’t know for sure.”

I told her about the two fountains, one which spewed blood. I mentioned we hadn’t tested the other for fear of what it might do. Catarina asked what the blood did and I told her it was just blood. She wanted to know what might have happened if we’d dipped something into the blood and we pointed out we didn’t try. It was just glowing blood. I told her it seemed more decorative than anything else and magic had revealed it was a simple spell. She was not impressed by that. When the elder asked about the death fountain, I noted it might be a massive trap or do nothing at all. I showed her where it was on the map.

“It is a shame that we haven’t been able to explore this place even as much as you strangers have,” she said.

“Oh, you will be soon,” I said.

“Is that so?” she said.

“If we get rid of the goblins.”

“Do you have plans to do that?”

“Yes, that’s why we came back. We’re going to get your dragon. We said we were going to.”

“Oh. I would have thought you’d gone back on that.”

“No,” Argie said.

“Why would even come back here if we weren’t going to help you?” I asked.

Catarina asked if the kobolds had hurt Dolf and we pointed out to her it had been the goblins.

“They all must die!” she said in response to that.

We questioned Gurgle about where many of the goblins lived. We already knew where the dragon was being kept. Then I asked the elder what she wanted first: the destruction of the goblins or the rescue of her dragon. Argie was of the opinion that we should save the dragon first. The elder, Yusdrayl felt the same way, wanting her dragon back first.

“There’s a dragon in here?” Catarina said.

“There’s a little, baby black dragon, yes,” I said.

“Probably bigger than any of us,” Argie said.

“The kobolds are …” I said. “Yeah. ‘Little’ is a relative term.”

Argie laughed at that.

“How big?” Catarina asked.

“Ten foot long,” I said. “They kept it in a cage that was much too small.”

“You cannot be any more clear of that, can you?” Argie said.

I merely frowned.

“The kobolds did or the goblins did?” Catarina asked.

“The kobolds did,” I said. “They were taking care of it. The goblins stole it. We’re trying to get it back from the goblins for the kobolds.”

“There’s a 10-foot-long baby black dragon,” Catarina said with a smile. “That sounds adorable!”

“I agree,” Argie said. “Let’s go save him!”

We discussed an assault on Goblin Town. Catarina was very excited as she got to find the adorable dragon and hurt those who had hurt Hercule’s son. We discussed if they might have moved or drugged the dragon. I asked if the elder was willing to use some of the kobolds to help us. Argie gave me a look and the elder rolled her eyes.

“Let me tell you what my idea is,” I said. “If your kobolds can create a distraction at the other end, down here, make it look like a major party is coming to attack from your people, like you’re trying to flank, then the five of us will go through the back door here, avoid the trap, try to get to where we think the dragon is being held, in the trophy room, at least that’s what Gurgle’s told us. Your kobolds don’t have to even endanger themselves, just make a lot of noise. Like a bunch of them are coming. Talk kobold talk, you know, draconic.”

“If they need to make a lot of noise, I find getting very drunk helps,” Catarina said.

Yusdrayl just rolled her eyes.

“Just ignore her,” I said to the elder in draconic. “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“I will send two kobolds with pots and pans,” she said.

“That’s a great idea. I would send three.”

“Why?”

“Because sometimes there are situation where one person, in groups of three … there are situations where two people could survive if something happens to one person. Whereas with groups of two, sometimes there are situations where one person can’t survive.”

“I would like to discuss strategy with you one day.”

“It’s just an idea.”

“But it is a good idea.”

I told her to send them up there and make a lot of noise. At the same time, we’d open the barricaded door and send Catarina in first. Yusdrayl called three strapping kobolds and had them fetch the pots and pans and then run off. She told us that we’d know immediately when they made their noise.

I took my companions aside and asked if we should tell the elder about the room with the sarcophagi. Argie was fine with it and so I told Yusdrayl about the room with the sarcophagi and the trap within. I also noticed the room butted up against another nearby room, which Yusdrayl told us was the kobold kitchen and living quarters. I pointed out a hole could be broken into that sarcophagi room from there.

Brook asked for the key and Yusdrayl told us it was our reward for returning the dragon.

As the other kobolds had already left, we readied ourselves by the back door. After what felt like a long time, even over the sound of the war drums, came a cacophony of noise. It sounded as if all the drunken chefs of the world had come to haunt this locale. From the other side of the door we were about to go through came a roar of goblin voices. Then it became quieter.

“Go Catarina, open the door!” I said.

She considered the door and I knew what she was thinking.

“Just open it,” I said. “It’s a kobold door and we might need to close it behind us. Open the ****ing door!”

She kicked the door to pieces, the idiot.

“Brook, you go open the next door,” I said.

Catarina stepped into the hallway.

“Hello targets!” she said.

“Oh great,” I muttered. “So much for surprise. Watch out for the pit trap!”

The pit trap was open but it wasn’t very wide so we could easily jump over it to the closed door on the other side. Gurgle followed us. Argie had Meepo on her back.

“Brook!” I said. “Go get that door.”

“You said there’d be things to punch here!” Catarina said.

“We’re working on it!” I said.

I turned to Argie.

“Don’t forget to check the dragon,” I said for her. “When we get to it, check it.”

I had told her before to see if it was evil. I hoped it wasn’t … but we had to know.

Beyond the second door was a hallway leading perhaps 20 feet before turning to the left. We sprinted down and could hear the sounds of goblins getting closer. We came to another door about 20 feet further down the corridor.

The stench of garbage, rotten carrion, and half-eaten legs of strange animals spoke of years of use by unsanitary tenants. Tattered hides from six unstable hammocks surround a much-used fire pit, battered cooking equipment lying mixed indiscriminately with the broken and worn arms and armor on the floor. A door stood on the right. Four goblins looked at us in various stages of arming themselves.

“Catarina!” I said. “Kill!”

Then I thought a moment.

“Oh!” I said, changing to the goblin tongue. “Goblins! Surrender or be destroyed!” I switched back to the common tongue. “Now kill them.”

The goblins yelled out at us, drawing or grabbing weapons.

Argie flicked a little burst of fire at one of the goblins, burning it. The creature staggered to his knees and looked at her with a combination of terror and anger. Gurgle, much to my surprise, leapt forward and brought his short sword down on the injured goblin, killing it. Catarina stepped forward, close to the unarmored one and the partially-armored one and swung away. She missed and looked at her fist, confused.

The naked goblin faced off with the woman, throwing a clawed punch at her but striking her armor instead. He looked even more angry.

I got out my crossbow and loaded it.

“Just a minute,” I said. “Hold on. Just a minute. Just a minute.”

Brook rushed the naked goblin and cut it down with her scimitar. Argie drew her own scimitar swung at another goblin, missing completely. Catarina struck another of the goblins, backhanding it in the face. There was an audible crunch as the goblin’s face collapsed under the blow. It gurgled and then crumpled to the floor, dead. Then she punched the last one in the face as well, knocking it back against the wall where it died.

Brook moved to the other door and listened at it. She told us she didn’t hear anything and I bid her to open it.

Several torches mounted on crude wall sconces burned fitfully in the chamber, filling the air with a haze that blurred sight. A double role of marble columns carved with entwining dragons marched the full length of the hall. There were numerous doors in the north wall and one on either end of the hallway. I pointed out the third door on the north wall to get to the trophy room. We made our way to it quickly and quietly.

I distracted Catalina while Brook listened at the door, which proved to be locked. She told us she heard movement of something large. I told Argie to have Meepo ready.

“Let me try something,” I said. “Let me cast a knock spell and see if we can open it quietly.”

Argie passed Meepo the magical dragon statuette.

“Meepo help,” Meepo said. “Meepo help. Meepo help now.”

I cast the knock spell and we heard the tumbles click in the door. I moved forward.

“Go!” I said.

Argie opened the door and we saw the backside of a small dragon. It was more than 10 feet long, had black scales, a long, serpentine tail, and a large, plump body. It was swimming through the pile of gold.

“Meepo, is that your pet?” Argie said.

Meepo flew from her back, through the air, landing in front of her, and then sprinted to the dragon.

“Gleep!” he cried out. “Gleep! I found you, Gleep!”

He proceeded to jump onto the black dragon’s back and hug its neck.

“Can we bring him back to kobold town?” Argie said.

The dragon looked around with glazed eyes and a perpetual look of stupidity on its face. Catarina ran forward to hug the dragon as well. The dragon looked at Meepo.

“Gleep,” it said.

Brook started grabbing gold and shoving it into her backpack. Argie called out we needed to go. Meepo held the magical dragon charm over his head and pointed to the door. Gleep waddled that way, its tail flapping wildly behind it. Its tiny, stunted wings fluttered as it moved. I called for Catalina to grab gold but she ignored me, clutching the dragon’s neck. I quickly cast a detect magic spell but there was none on the horde of treasure.

“That’s why they were selling the things in the beginning,” Argie guessed.

“Catalina, get those meaty hands to work!” Brook said.

“But he’s so cute!” Catalina said.

“Gold is cute!” Brook said.

I asked Argie to check the dragon for evil though I doubted it was. She cast the spell but then shook her head. The dragon wasn’t evil. It probably wasn’t even smart enough to be evil.

Meepo had the dragon head back through the hall while Gurgle and I brought up the rear, Brook near us. We went back through the hall of pillars, then through the guard room, and back into the corridor to kobold town. I closed doors behind us. I stopped in the guard room and sent Gurgle on ahead. I took out and blew the magic whistle in that room. Two of the goblin corpses twitched and then stood up, almost against their will. They looked at me, groaned, and waddled over to me to stand next to me.

“I want you to guard this room,” I said to them. “If any goblins come in here, I want you to kill them. Do you understand?”

They just groaned. I turned to walk away and they followed me.

“Stay here,” I said.

Then I said it in the goblin tongue.

“Wait over by that door,” I said in their own language. “If any other goblins come in, kill them.”

They grunted. I walked away and they stayed put.

“Kill goblins,” I said again.

Then I fled the room, closing the door behind me. I caught up with the others as the dragon got to the pit trap. It shook Catarina off, and then flopped into the air, flapping it’s tiny wings, and crashing to the floor just the other side of the pit trap. We all climbed over the trap and fled into the kobold territory.

Meepo dismounted as Gleep danced around the pillars in the throne room. Several of the kobolds bowed to it.

“This is their future leader,” Argie said.

“This is why they aren’t evil,” I said.

I found Yusdrayl. She was on her throne, happily watching her dragon. I told her what happened and of our destruction of the nearest door. She nodded and tasked her kobolds to attend to it. I also told her about the goblin zombies in the guardroom that were set to kill any goblins that came through. She nodded.

“So, key?” Brook asked her.

I asked Yusdrayl what kind of breath weapon the idiot dragon had. Gleep, as if understanding, scrunched up his face and sneezed. A tiny bit of flame came out of his nose.

Yusdrayl went over and petted the dragon, who nuzzled her. She went back to the throne.

“Key!” Brook said.

“Brook, shut up,” I said.

Yusdrayl brought us the key from the dragon statue and handed it to me. I pocketed it. The drums had stopped beating a few minutes after our raid.

We discussed what to do next, talking about attacking the goblins or sending them a message to leave. I pointed out we had the death fountain and the key to the area at the bottom of the map now as well. I suggested we could also just order the goblins out.

When I learned the kobolds from the distraction were back, I suggested we head to Goblin Town to talk to the goblins, noting the chain was still down and, if angry enough, the goblins might have gone to the village. I also got permission from Yusdrayl to return to Koboldville whenever they wanted. I told her I wanted, at some point, to talk to her about trade with the humans.

“They might be willing to trade you for supplies to help you fix this place,” I said.

“That is a brilliant idea,” she said.

“I know,” I said.

We left and headed back to the room where we’d first met Meepo where I asked Brook to look for recent tracks of goblins. She didn’t find any so we headed back towards the entry. When we reached the round room, we encountered three very angry goblins heading out the other door.

“Stop goblins!” I called to them in goblin. “Or you’ll be made into zombies for our pleasure!”

I looked at my companions.

“Try to take one of them prisoner!” I said.

I saw Catarina frown.

“If at all possible,” I said.

The goblins drew their weapons.

“Hold goblins!” I called. “We need to speak to your chief.”

Brook cast an entangle spell, catching all three goblins in growing bubbles of moss climbing up their legs and grasping them all.

“It’s magic!” one of them screamed. “No!”

“Was that actual words or just a noise?” Catarina said. “I can’t tell.”

“Yes!” I called to the goblins. “Throw down your weapons. My comrade does not know how long she can control her murder plants!”

The goblins dropped their weapons, which were grabbed by the moss.

“Are they all going to be our prisoners?” Brook asked. “Or do you just want one?”

“Yeah, they’re all going to be our prisoners!” I said. “We’re not going to kill them!”

She sighed.

“What do you want, spell-chucker?” one of the goblins called.

“You must take a message to your chief,” I said. “If you survive the plants. The goblins must leave this place. Now. Within the hour. Gather your women and children and … meager-est of possessions.”

“We tell chief, but Chief Durnn no leave.”

“Chief Durnn─”

“Chief Durnn strong!”

“─is weak! He is a tiny child. He is no more than the smallest minuscule … the tiniest atom … the most insignificant speck!”

“Me not know those words.”

“Because you’re stupid. We have many spellcasters and we are allies of the kobolds.”

“We tell Chief Durnn. You let go.”

“Any aggressive action on your part and I’ll set loose that on you.”

I gestured towards Catarina.

“You can drop the spell,” I told Brook.

When the moss let them go, they crossed the room towards us without retrieving their weapons. They looked at me hatefully, carefully moving towards us and the doorway.

“I would suggest you crawl on all fours,” I said.

One of them actually complied with it but the rest bowed their heads as they passed by us. Catarina wanted to punch one but I told her we couldn’t as we were at a truce at the moment.

“Goblins,” I said to them as they passed. “Have your chief send a message to the kobolds. One messenger, unarmed, with his reply. This could go very poorly for your tribe. We don’t want to kill you all … well, she does.”

“Quite badly,” Catarina said.

“But we will if we have to,” I said.

They didn’t reply but ran away.

Gurgle looked up at me with absolute admiration. I complimented Brook on the spell, asking her to make sure she never caught us in it.

We headed back to Koboldville. I told Yusdrayl what happened and that I was going to try to negotiate with the goblins to leave.

“You know they won’t answer peacefully,” she said.

“Well, then we’ll destroy them all,” I said. “But we’ve given them the option of answering peacefully.”

Gleep and Catarina danced around the room.

“Here here!” she screamed.

Yusdrayl and I discussed the kobold defenses and then we waited for a reply from the goblins.

During that time I told Catarina about the advisor to the goblin chief, someone called Belak who we thought was a spellcaster. Gleep had noticed Argie, who had lowered her hood, and looked over the wyvaran. When she petted the creature, he licked her hand. Then he coughed a tiny breath of flame.

“Adorable,” she said in draconic.

The dragon looked very happy at that.

It was three quarters of an hour before there was some ruckus at the main entrance to Koboldville. Several kobolds escorted a goblin in a loincloth into the throne room. Unarmed, it was pathetic-looking. The goblin looked around and then looked at Yusdrayl.

“Chief Durnn no leave,” the goblin said. “Chief Durnn fight. Chief Durnn tell you leave!”

I surreptitiously cast a charm person spell upon the goblin followed by a detect magic to see if it had taken affect. The goblin looked at me.

“Your job must be terrible!” I said. “How can your chief send you, alone, not even with pants! He’s a jerk, that’s what I think. That’s just my opinion.”

“Chief Durnn send me ‘cause Chief Durnn love his son,” the goblin said.

“Your Chief Durnn’s son?”

“Chief Durnn’s favorite son!”

“He doesn’t have any other sons?”

“Chief Durnn have daughters and son.”

“You’re the only son?”

“Yes!”

“Shouldn’t you be chief?”

“Me be chief when Durnn die.”

“That could be arranged.”

“What you mean?”

“Do you want to stay in this place? It’s dirty, nasty, and infested with kobolds! Wouldn’t you rather have someplace nicer like, I don’t know, a whole mountain or something?”

The goblin looked confused.

“Wouldn’t you rather have someplace without kobolds?” I said.

“Kobolds only temporary,” he said uncertainly.

“Well, probably not. Wait, you’re the son of the chief so you know Belak.”

“Belak only meet with chief.”

“But I thought you were important to your chief, to your father. But he won’t even let you in on important things.”

“Belak have very special rules.”

“What’s the deal with these apples?”

“Belak give apples. Apples make goblins rich.”

“Where are the apples from? What do you spend your money on?”

He looked puzzled.

“Spend?” he said.

“So you just keep the …” I said. “What do you do with the coins? The rich?”

“Shinies.”

“Yeah.”

“Shinies make strong.”

“How? Can you eat it? You throw it at your enemies? How have the shinies helped the goblin tribe? I think your chief is misinformed. You don’t use the coins for trade. They’re useless.”

“Do they melt it?” Argie whispered into my ear. “Armor?”

“Trade?” the goblin said.

“When you give something that you─” I started to say.

“Oh!” the goblin said. “Like when we give forge master food and he give us weapon.”

“Yeah, kind of like that. That’s barter but it’s kind of the same thing. So why …”

“Shinies for trade? Who wants shiny?”

“I … ugh … I don’t have time to explain the intricacies of the monetary unit. You know how you trade things and you’re not sure, you’re like ‘I’ll give you food if you work for me’ like you said? The forge master, right? So, how do you know you’re getting the right amount of work for that amount of food? When you use coins, you’ll say ‘I’ll give you this coin to work for me for a certain amount of time’ or ‘I will trade you this coin for an item that you have.’”

I gave a short discourse on the basics of how economics and the use of money worked better than barter. I got sidetracked in talking about the communal system and the implied contract between government and the people, whether they were a democratic society or ruled by the monarchy, but that’s neither here nor there.

The goblin finally came over and extended his hand to me to shake it. I shook his hand.

“You teach Grenl more,” he said.

“You’re Grenl,” I said.

I nodded and whispered to Argie to see if Grenl was evil. She cast the spell and said he was not.

“Yeah, I’ll teach you,” I said. “But you can’t stay here.”

“Then where will goblin go?” Grenl said.

“I don’t know. We’ll find some place for you to go and then some night, you can go there. Because up there - have you seen the sun? You wouldn’t like it.”

“Oh! Blinding light.”

“Bingo. But at night you don’t have to worry about it. But, the kobolds have prior claim to this place and all the dragons on the wall kind of say that is so. Because they’re draconic and this is a draconic place.”

“They dragon people?”

“Yes,” Argie said.

“Yes,” I said. “See, look at them.”

“Look more like lizard,” Grenl said.

“Potato potato,” I said, pronouncing the two differently.

“Tomato tomato,” Brook said, likewise using two different pronunciations.

“Lizard make good food,” Grenl said.

Argie bristled.

“We don’t want to have to hurt your people but obviously the goblins and the kobolds cannot both live here,” I said. “If we find you someplace to live, will you go there?”

“Will it be better place?” Grenl said.

“Probably.”

“Are there other place?”

“This place is a mess. The kobolds want to renovate it.”

“This nice place.”

“No, this is not a nice place. There are many nicer places.”

He looked at me in awe, his mind obviously opening to thoughts he’d never had before.

“So, your dad loves you, right?” I said. “He’s not going to hurt you?”

Grenl thought on it a while.

“Not sure?” I said.

“He trust,” Grenl said.

“Do you trust him?”

Again he thought on it a while.

“If you take these ideas back to him, is he going to think about them or is just going to start slapping you and not be able to stop?” I asked.

“That one,” Grenl said.

“That’s what I thought. See, you goblins need a more enlightened leader. Your father should retire. We could find him a nice─”

“What retire?”

“Oh. He just goes and he sleeps all day and … uh … enjoys women. Female goblins. And … uh … doesn’t have to work anymore.”

“Goblin only do that when dead.”

“See, that needs fixed too.”

“We can arrange that,” Argie whispered in my ear.

“Look, if we find you a better place to live …” I said. “Look do the goblins follow you too? Do they respect you and trust you? Can you get some of them on your side?”

“Me Durnn’s son!” Grenl said. “Course they do!”

“Do most of them?”

“Some.”

“All right, well … talk to the goblins that are your allies. Don’t tell your father yet. Tell them you might have a nicer place to live. And we’ll see if we can find some place for you.”

I turned to Brook.

“You’re a ranger, right?” I said. “You can find nice goblin-y places? Dark woods or caves in mountains or something like that.”

“Yeah,” she said.

“We can probably even ask,” Argie said.

“We can ask in the village,” I said.

I turned back to Grenl.

“The villagers have already been trading with you,” I said. “I’m sure they’ll continue the trade. Even if it’s not apples, there are things goblins can mine. You know how to mine, don’t you? Dig up shinies out of the ground?”

“Yes!” Grenl said.

“Those shinies can be worth a lot of the coins and then you take the coins and you can buy nice armor and weapons, you can buy chairs, and …”

“Benches,” Brook said.

“Yes,” I said.

I explained the concept of trade and the use of coins.

“Grenl want know more,” Grenl said. “Grenl not have time now. Grenl must go talk to friends.”

“Go talk to your friends,” I said. “Your friends who agree with you Grenl, and you too, find a certain color to wear. So if things get really bad, we can identify you and your friends and, if fighting breaks out, we don’t want to kill enlightened goblins.”

“Green is best! We wear green!”

“Green. None of the other goblins wear green, right? The other goblins don’t wear green?”

“Durnn likes red.”

“Good.”

“Red’s a good color,” Catarina said. “The blood blends in well.”

“Gather your friends and we’ll try to find a place for you and we’ll see what happens next,” I said.

“I just had a thought,” Argie said.

“So, go in peace,” I said. “Come here again to discuss this.”

Yusdrayl looked amazed. Grenl left.

I asked what Yusdrayl wanted from us, noting we could stay to help defend Koboldville or we could go look for a place for the goblins to live.

“We abandoned our old home,” she said to me. “To come and claim the citadel.”

“Is it nicer than this?” I asked. “Is it … ‘nicer?’ You think the goblins might consider it nice?”

“When we’re done it’s going to be much better.”

“But right now, with everything broken, is your home - was it in caves?”

“Yes.”

“Are they nice caves? Are they warm? Are they cozy? Are there mines down there where goblins could mine?”

“Some mines. Mostly for fairly common gemstones, but gemstones nonetheless.”

“How far? Where is it?”

I learned the kobolds had come under the land but through the crevice. Only rats were there when they left and it was probably a good place for the goblins.

“Can they have it?” I asked.

“This is our ancestral home,” she said. “That’s not. They can have it.”

I asked how far away it was and if there were any human towns nearby they could trade with. She noted it was 50 miles to the north and there were several towns nearby. It was very cold in the winter and not very warm in the summer but I noted that neither was the Sunless Citadel. She said they could have it. I said we could make the offer to Grenl next time he showed up.

Our work done with the goblins for the moment, I suggested we check out the southern tunnels, now that we had the key. Argie was hesitant, worrying about a goblin attack. I let slip there were a couple of zombies watching the back door.

“Two what?” she said.

“I turned two goblins in that room into zombies and told them to kill anymore goblins that came through,” I said.

She shrugged.

“Meh,” she said.

Apparently she didn’t mind necromancy, which was good to know.

We left Koboldville and crossed back through the first tower we had explored, then going out through the southwest door to the collapsed hall. On the way I told them of our arrangement with Grenl, of the goblins who would work with us being dressed in green as opposed to the regular red of Dornn’s goblins. I told them if they saw goblins in green, at least give them a chance not to be murdered. There was some confusion from Catarina but we eventually made her understand to leave the green-clad goblins alone.

I handed off the key to Brook, but then changed my mind, figuring I should go first. Brook wanted to open the door, however so I gave her the key. She was hoping for more treasure.

She inserted the key and turned it. The door slid back and then opened inward into a black room. Argie peeked in and I walked over with my candle. Brook had her lantern.

The dust of ages long undisturbed covered every surface in the large gallery. There were three alcoves on the north wall and one on the south wall. Each contained a dust-covered stone pedestal with a fist-sized crystallized globe upon it. Although the globes in the northern alcoves lay cracked and dark, the globe in the southern alcove glowed with a soft blue light. Soft, tinkling notes sprung forth from it. I could hear a very faint, droning, musical sound.

Catarina began to walk slowly towards the globe.

“Uh … Catarina,” I said. “Where are you going?”

I cast a detect magic spell. Catarina glowed with magic but I wasn’t sure what kind.

“Somebody sleep her,” Brook said.

“Let’s see what she does first,” I said.

Brook ran into the room and tackled her but the woman didn’t even fall over. She continued to walk across the room, dragging the other woman. Argie cast a hold person spell and the woman suddenly stopped.

“Drag her out,” I said.

Brook dragged the woman out of the room. Argie cast a spell to detect evil on the globe. Then Brook’s eyes went blank. I pulled the door closed and locked it again. Brook shook her head and looked around, confused. Argie’s spell continued to affect Catarina for a little while before she could move again.

I asked Argie if she had bandages but she didn’t, relying solely on her magic. She asked why I needed bandages and I told her we could use them to stuff our ears so we couldn’t hear that magical music. I asked if she had a silence spell and she said she did.

“Why couldn’t I move?” Catarina said.

“Oh,” I said. “Welcome back Catarina. You were ensorcelled by an evil crystal.”

“The shiny thing in that room? Were we in there? We were in there. What happened?”

“There was an enchanted crystal. We rescued you using magic and brute force. And here you are. Yes. And now we might try to get in there again. Do you have a club or a mace or any kind of weapon at all?”

“I don’t use mace. I punch things.”

“Grab one of these big rocks over here, won’t you?”

“Are we going to break it?” Argie asked.

“Yes, we’re going to smash it,” I said.

“It is evil,” she said.

“It is evil!” I said. “It’s evil?”

“It’s evil,” she said. “Remember that seed in your pocket?”

Catarina went to the rubble pile on the far wall and hefted a good-sized rock while we discussed what to do about the thing. Argie thought we should muffle the sound and keep it. I thought we should destroy it. We were unsure what might be able to muffle it. We also discussed silencing it until my magic could determine what it was. I suggested scraping some of the wax off my candles and making earplugs. Argie felt fine against it.

We decided to silence it with magic, I’d check it with magic, and then I would signal Catarina if she should destroy it.

We opened the door and Brook started to move across the room towards the crystal. I pointed at the pillar as Catarina tackled Brook. Argie cast her spell and the sound stopped. I concentrated on the crystal. The crystal had magic of the conjuration school and I gave Catarina the thumbs down. She dropped the rock, obviously haven forgotten my simple instructions. I yelled at her to smash the rock and she took the wax out of one of her ears.

“What?” she said.

I grabbed the rock, ran over, and smashed the crystal. Plumes of smoke in strange shapes wafted out and flew away.

“That was a soul,” Argie said.

“What?” I said. “A soul?”

“One of the plumes was evil,” she said. “I’m assuming it’s a soul.”

“Well, at least it’s done,” I said.

Looking at the map, I pointed out there was a trap on the other side of the other door to the room.

“I wonder what would have happened,” Argie said.

“Possession probably,” I muttered.

“Sweet. By the evil spirit.”

“That’s my guess.”

“Cool!”

“Now they’re out there possessing someone else.”

“Sweet!”

“No!”

“We couldn’t prevent it! It was either us or them. Maybe they just ascended.”

We did a quick search of the room. The broken gems were actually alexandrite and of some little value so we took them all. I knew alexandrite was particularly good at holding souls.

Brook listened at the next door, but it was also stone. She stumbled and fell on her face on the ground.

“Brook, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Uh …” she said.

“Is there something in the floor?” Argie said.

“It’s tactical,” Brook said. “The crack under the door. It’s better for the hearing.”

“That’s funny,” Catarina said. “You fell.”

“Of course,” I said, realizing Brook was lying. “Well, whenever you’re ready, you can listen again.”

She listened at the door again but heard nothing so opened it to reveal a short, narrow passage. The air was stale and Catarina chucked her rock in. Arrows shot directly down as it hit the ground in the center of the hallway.

“Throw another one,” I said.

She did so but no more arrows came down.

“Simple trap,” I said. “Let’s move on.”

“Wait!” Catarina said. “I should throw a third one, just in case.”

“Yeah, go ahead,” I said.

She ran to get another rock and flung it down the hallway as well. Again, nothing happened.

We went to the door at the end of the short corridor and Brook listened to it, hearing nothing. I noted there was a circle that might have marked another little column or plinth. Brook opened the door and we saw a hall that was some forty feet long and 20 feet wide. Dust filled the place like a layer of gray snow. In the rounded northern end of the chamber was a dragon carved from red-veined white marble.

Brook entered the room and the head of the dragon statue animated. It looked us over and then said.

“We come at night, without being fetched. We disappear by day without being stolen.”

“Stars,” Brook said.

“Stars,” Catarina said.

The dragon bowed its head and the secret door on the western wall that was marked on the map slid open. We peeked in at the dust-cloaked 20-foot wide hallway with three narrow alcoves on the north and the south wall. Each alcove held a humanoid figure of red-veined white marble except for the southwest alcove, which was empty. The figures resembled tall elves in plate mail. The far end of the hall opened via a stone arch into a wide room from which a greenish light trickled. A dark pit was situated before the western archway.

Catarina walked over to the nearest statue and poked it. Nothing happened. I suggested she poke each one, just to be sure.

There was a burned place on the map that connected to the room so I cast mending on it and repaired it. That revealed a secret door between the two alcoves on the south wall.

“Before we open that secret door, let’s peek in that pit,” I said.

Brook noticed that, in the snow-like dust on the floor were ancient tracks that had been filled in with more dust. They went from the empty alcove, wandered a bit, and to the pit and on the other side. The pit was an open trap, 10 feet deep, with spikes on the bottom. Disintegrated wood was scattered in the dust as if it had once had a cover.

We investigated the secret door. I stood on the other side of the room while they looked for a way to open it. I watched across the pit in case something was over there. Brook found a piece of stone that, when pressed, unlocked the door. It revealed a small chamber coated in dust which obscured the words inscribed on the southern wall.

“What do they say, Brook?” I asked.

She didn’t know. When Argie looked at it, she said it was in draconic.

“A dragon priest, entombed alive for transgressions of the law, still retains the honor of his position,” she read.

Argie read it out loud and I walked over to look at it. Brook backed away from the words, unnerved. She returned and found a small trapdoor in the floor. She pulled it open, revealing a three-foot by three-foot crawl space going down and to the west. I pointed out it was heading towards the room on the other side of the pit. Brook hopped into little hole and crawled along the low corridor, watching for traps along the way. I sent Catarina next. She sighed and muttered about large people in small places and tall, skinny magic bastards.

I’m sure she wasn’t talking about me.

I went to the pit to look into the room. A few moments later, Brook and Catarina popped up out of a secret door in the southwest corner.

Violent hued marble tiles covered the floor and walls though all were cracked or broken, revealing rough-hewn stone beneath them. Wall sconces were attached at the walls at each corner, but only one still bore a torch that burned with a greenish light. A massive marble sarcophagus easily nine feet long lay in the room’s center. The stone possessed heavy carvings with dragon imagery. The head of the sarcophagus resembled a dragon’s head, rusting metal clasps firmly locked down the lid.

“I got a bad idea,” Catarina said.

“What’s that, Catarina?” Brook said.

“Open the sarcophagus,” she said.

I waved at them from across the pit.

“C’mon, let’s do it!” Catarina said. “C’mon, let’s do it.”

Argie on looked more with curiosity than anger.

“Just don’t loot it!” she said. “Don’t. Loot. It.”

“Wait for us,” I said.

Argie and I went through the crawlspace, leaving Gurgle in the other room. We found Catarina standing there with a rock, eyeing the rusty metal clasps. I stayed by the wall near the trapdoor in the floor. The others stood around the marble sarcophagus.

“Do we have the cleric’s permission to try to get into it?” Brook said.

“Don’t loot it,” Argie said.

“Does smashing this clasp count as looting?” Catarina said.

“Just don’t take anything out of it,” I said.

“Yeah, we can open it up and look at it but we can’t take anything out of it,” Brook said.

“Cool!” Catarina said.

She started banging on the clasps with the rock. Within seconds there was only one left.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I said.

Brook and Catarina grasped the lid of the sarcophagus, sliding it off the top. Lying in the sarcophagus was a strange creature in a position of agony. Scratch marks covered the underside of the lid of the sarcophagus and as soon as the green light hit it, it twitched.

“Cover it!” Argie said. “Cover it! Cover it! Cover it!”

The thing sat up and leapt out of the sarcophagus. I realized it was created by magic and was a hybrid. Brook called out it was half troll.

“Burn it!” I said.

“This thing ain’t a dragon!” Argie said.

Brook drew her scimitar and slashed the horrible hybrid thing. It fell back and had to brace itself from the terrible wound. Catarina punched the thing in the head and it fell onto the ground.

“Back away,” I said.

I spread my hands out and cast burning hands on the thing. Then I stepped back once again. It writhed in pain.

“If it’s half-troll, it’s going to regenerate so we have to burn it!” I said.

I fled into the trapdoor and stood there, waiting. I was out of spells but wanted to stay if someone needed help.

“Y’all stay where you are,” Argie said.

She cast a burning hands spell as well, burning the horrible thing even more. Gurgle, on the other side of the pit, took out his bow. He shot the thing with an arrow. Then Brook cut the thing with her scimitar again. It shrieked, crumpled, and lay still.

“Burn it again!” I said.

“Just for good measure?” Brook said with a smile.

“Yes,” I said. “If it’s a troll it needs to burned until its …”

“Ashes,” Brook said.

“Yes,” I said. “Not necessarily ashes but it needs to be burned all over. The wound that has not been burned could potentially regenerate. Argie, burn it again.”

She did so, blasting away with more burning hands. The thing crumpled to ash.

“There we go!” I said.

We searched the ashes and found a masterwork dagger, a ring, two bracelets, and an amulet. Argie cast detect evil on the items but said they were not evil. She then cast a detect magic spell on the items and found none of them were magical. She did detect magic emanating from the bottom of the sarcophagus. There, we found 50 gold coins and four scrolls that Argie looked over and found to be divine. She said they had spells of command, cure light wounds, inflict light wounds, and magical stone. Argie, the only of us who could use such magic, kept them.

I took the dagger, tucking it away.

Brook put the ring and the bracelets into the sack with the other treasure we’d found. Argie kept the amulet for the time being.

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