The Battle of Brindol!
The days leading up to the harvest festival are a busy exciting time in Brindol. The River people show up on their barges filled with wondrous food and wares they have collected from throughout the land to barter with in the market square of Brindol. It is a time when family visits and new friends are met with their stories of the world beyond of the walls of Brindol and indeed beyond even the Elsir Vale!
This too is why Bairdyn Barleycorn has returned to Brindol, just last year he had promised to teach the boy, Jimmy and his Dwarven friend, Bhenedict, how to play Three-Dragon Ante. Jimmy was an Acolyte at the Shine of Bahamut and his friend Bhenedict, a sturdy looking Dwarf, was a chef’s apprentice at the Brindol Gentleman’s Club. Well, this past year they were both going to work hard to collect a hoard of 50 gold platters so they could be taught to play a gambit of true gamesmen rather than a peasant’s game of copper and Brairdyn worked especially hard saving every piece of gold so he would be ready; and he could hardy wait after the fiasco of last year.
I: Benedict ‘Rhymer’ Stormcastle
Filled with excitement Bairdyn carefully stacked and counted his gold while he waiting for his friends to arrive at the Antler and Thistle.
“One, two, three,” and then there they were, both wearing fancy scale mail and armed, the Dwarf, Rhymer, with a large, powerful looking hammer and the young acolyte, Jimmy, with a ceremonial halberd he must of borrowed from the shrine.
“Well met, friends, I feared you might have forgotten our plans; it has been a long eventful year and look at you Jimmy, twice as tall as I remember!”
Taking the table nearest to the door Bhenedict shouts, “Penny, hurry your arse lass, you’ve thirsty patrons here; and I’ve a parched throat that only your finest ale can cure.”
“If you kept your trap shut more often Rhymer, it would not be such a problem!”, shouted back, Ol’ Tsago, from behind the bar.
“Well, boys, ante up, let me take a look at your hoards; I can’t wait to get started; those men in the corner there have already tossed a full gambit while I’ve waited.”
In a miserly way, Bhenedict first glancing about in an exaggerated show of caution reaches in his pouch and pulls out a smallish bag carefully emptying its contents on the table, 20 gold platters. Following suit Jimmy reaches in to his pocket and retrieves 4 gold platters.
“What’s this? This cannot be your hoards! Do you not know the first thing about Three-Dragon Ante? We play until the first player loses his hoard … and that means you have to at least start with one.”
“One, I’ve got 20 gold; and feel the weight of it, this is Dwarven gold and easily worth twice as much as any of yours!”
Jimmy speaks up, “It’s been a tough year for us Bairdyn; donations have been few and far between. I am the only one caring for the Shrine of Bahamut, there are no permanent clergy and few offerings. This is all the gold I have gathered through odd jobs and then Benny lost his job.”
“It’s true lad, too true. I am near ruined, since a very young age I’ve been apprenticed to the Chef de Cuisine Hollandaise due to my superior sense of taste. I’d been working my way up through the kitchen, due to talent I was the youngest Commis Chef. After fours years of work I became sous-chef de cuisine. As Chef de Cuisine Hollandaise’s direct assistant I enjoyed his trust and his secrets and in the end my greatest joy was also my undoing."
"Between me and you, I found out that the Chef de Cuisine Hollandaise, besides being an excellent chef is a notorious womanizer. Call it an affair too far, but 6 months past a cuckolded husband claimed that Hollandaise had tried to poison him in an attempt to gain his wife and estate. This false accusation, coupled with the indisputable evidence of the indiscretion was enough to convict Hollandaise. The trial was quick and the execution of sentence even quicker. As his direct assistant his dishonor became my dishonor. Due to his shame, which was now mine, I was forced to leave the kitchen and now my plans are to make penance by finding my glory on the field of battle. I have purchased this scale-mail armor and a good Dwarven hammer to find my fortune as I have been forbidden to cook within these city walls. One way or another I will bring pride to the good name, Stormcastle, and I will find a way to leave my mark upon this world. Until then I will be known as Rhymer to my friends."
"Just like in the kitchen, I believe that we, Jimmy and I can work together to make something that is greater then our sums.”
“Why Rhymer?” asks Bairdyn.
Jimmy answers, “He is always reading and scribbling in a book of poems that he carries.”
II: Bar Fight
“It is simple to see that there will be no Three-Dragon Ante at this table, follow me boys and you will see a pro at work; mayhap I can jump in the game with the folks in the corner.”
In their path across the tavern, two groups of minstrels started throwing down in a challenge match sure to bring down the rafters- the Rogues (a renowned halfling trio) and The Wicked Tinkers, a group of strange looking newcomers, a group made up of a Dwarf, a Halfling, a Half-elf and a Human . The judge of this challenge, a sauced Dwarf named, Tordek, is soon joined by Bhenedict as Bairdyn and Jimmy continue working their way to the corner game even as the Wicked Tinker’s Dwarf pulls out a set of horns looking something like a pregnant bloated spider that squealing as if the beast was hungry.
“Fellas, do you have room for an amateur at your table?”
“You have a bit of a scurrilous nature about you boy, aren’t you that halfling involved with that trouble last year?”
“That’s right, but my granpa always say not to judge a story by the first chapter, and I assure you I was more the victim than villain if the truth be told.”
Jimmy speaks up, “Besides which, I will vouch for him.”
“Well”, says another at the table, “If he is good enough for Jimmy, he is good enough for me, if he has gold let him play, I say.”
As the minstrels play Bairdyn happily joins the game, “Ha, the brass dragon, 2 strength means you pay me 5 gold, unless you want to pass me a stronger good dragon and with the thief I’ve made back my ante plus 2!” The hubbub in the Antler and Thistle drowns in mugs of fine ale when the good cheer is shattered by the crack of the front doors of the tavern flying off their hinges and landing upon the very table where the friends had initially sat, as from the doorway four furious hobgoblins charge into the bar, swords outstretched to skewer whatever in their path, a pair slashing at Bhenedict while the third grabs Penny and the fourth harries the old bartender Tsago.
Harassed by the hobgoblins, Benny swings his mighty hammer narrowing missing while the hobgoblins strike back drawing blood from the brave Dwarf. Quickly Bairdyn collects his gold and move towards the fight while three more hobgoblins and a goblin join the fray at the entrance of the tavern. The goblin quickly eyeing the scene tosses a lit torch in the direction of Tsago and the high-proof spirits in the bottles at the bar. Jimmy raises his halberd high attacking the nearest hobgoblin only to be blocked by the second hobgoblin, but giving the Dwarf an opening to take a second swing in time to drop the two hobgoblins with a single blow as the bar burst into flames sending Old Tsago crawling out to safety.
The battle expands as fresh hobgoblins keep entering the bar. Rhymer frees Penny time and again as the goblinoids seem intent on taking prisoners. Bairdyn working his way under the tables makes his way behind the remaining foes and starts taking out the hobgoblins one-by-one from behind while Jimmy and Rhymer battle from the front even as the Wicked Tinkers play on inspiring the friends heroic efforts to save the patrons of the tavern from the hobgoblin raiders.
The battle is over in seconds that stretched as only they can when lives are on the line but in the end there lay ten dead hobgoblins and a pair of goblins. Penny was safe and only the fire remained to be dealt with. Only one of the patrons had fallen, and he had been brought down by the Halfling ‘Rogues’ as they apparently stole the gold off the corner table in the midst of the confusion! In the end, a bucket brigade is quickly organized to quell the flames as a clearly wounded city watch patrol arrives quickly making sense of what has happened.
III: The Ogre Bombardier
As they speak to the guards, shouts of fear and battle ring out a various points throughout the city as smoke rises. But now these shouts are suddenly a lot closer, and a throng of townsfolk come running around the street from the corner of the Antler and Thistle to the north.
They’re fleeing a curious sight–a full-grown ogre pulling a wagon by a yoke around its waist. The ogre holds a smoldering cask in one meaty fist and a massive club in the other. Riding atop the wagon are two hobgoblins with bows!
Standing 15 feet beyond the entrance of the tavern, Bhenedict, shocked at the spectacle, is frozen in his boots while the nimble Bairdyn grasps a sling bullet and casts at the ogre without a second thought, succeeding only in getting the ogres attention. The ogre turns heaving the cask at the Halfling but Bairdyn smiles realizing that the ogres aim is off until the cask smashes into Benny in an explosion of black smoke and fire! Hearing the commotion Jimmy rushes of the bar only to be targeted and injured by the hobgoblins, while Benny leaping from the fire charges the ogre only to be smashed by the ogre’s massive club. Again the hobgoblins pull their bows and again they find their mark this time hitting Bairdyn as he rails them with sling shots but surely getting the worst end of the bargain; even while fighting the hobgoblins Bairdyn cautiously crosses the road seeking to help his friend Benny while avoiding the ogre’s deadly club. Taking a defensive stance Bhenedict catches his breath cursing the stupidity of his attack while looking for any possible retreat when he feels the sudden healing magic of Jimmy’s prayers come upon him renewing his spirit as he hurls a mighty swing at the ogre scoring a telling blow.
“Aghaa!, I smassh you, crush your BONES dwarf!”, growles the ogre as he lands another thundering blow upon Bhenedict.
The battle rages Dwarf verses Ogre, priest verses hobgoblins each giving their all even while clearly the Dwarf and priest fighting a losing battle when suddenly Bairdyn slashes the ogre from beneath the wagon. Again and again the bloody halfling strikes, cutting at the ogre’s ankles, “My granpa always says you chop a tree from the ground up.” As the ogre turns to strike at his attacker he is trapped by the yoke which prevents him from spinning but the action trips the hobgoblin as the ogre struggles with the yoke and provides another opening for both Bhenedict and Jimmy. Benny wallops the ogre’s knee while Jimmy fire a brilliant ray of light searing the hobgoblins is a golden radiance leaving a sparking trail of light lingering about their foes encouraging his friend’s attacks. Turning once more upon the dwarf the ogre again exposes his back to the halfling and Bairdyn stabs knowing this may well be his last chance to save his friends, and he strikes true, a gushing font of blood erupts from the fresh wound and the ogre finally falls at the feet of the dwarf.
After the ogre falls, as one, the friends rise against the hobgoblins who even now keep firing at the scattered city guards dropping two more defender as they themselves fall to the attack of Bairdyn, Bhenedict and Jimmy.
“Success is OURS!”, they scream as they clasp hands atop the wagon. “Hahza!”
“It was never in doubt, my friends!” shouts Benny as a crowd gathers at the fallen ogre. Minutes later the city guard shows and asks the friends for their help defending the bridges at the gates of Dwarf-town but by the time they reach the bridge, Sinruth’s band of hobgoblins has already retreated across the bridges and with the other residents of Brindol, Benny and Bairdyn spend the rest of the night putting out the fires that the goblinoids have set throughout the city while Jimmy tends to the wounded and keeps a nervous watch from the ramparts of the city.
IV: The Summons
As the morning sun casts its glow upon the western horizon, the friends gather once again at the Antler and Thistle; it is there that the private guards of Councilmember Troyas find them.
“Council Troyas requests the pleasure of your company immediately, do you accept?”
“Bairdyn answers, we have not slept or more importantly eaten, will there be food at the Councilor’s chambers?”
“Yes, I’m sure that can be arranged but time is of the essence.”
“Then we accept, lead on good man.”
Arriving at the Councilor’s manor house the party is greeted at the door solemnly, by the Councilmember, as he carefully makes eye contact with each of them, Bairdyn, Jimmy and Bhenedict in turn.
“I am Eoffram Troyas, I have heard tale of your heroic exploits this night past and I am considering a daring plan, and I wished to speak to you about it in person – and in private.”
As all enter the manor, the Councilmember dismisses his personal guard and continues, “This assault is yet a new outrage, but I must be sure that I am talking to the right men for this endeavor. Courage, fortitude and daring are just the beginnings of what you will need to succeed.”
“Do you think maybe you could have the guards fetch us some breakfast, ‘you always think better when you’re not hungry;’ that’s what my Granpa always says.”
Snapping back a sharp glare, “The road is a hungry place friend and I would be certain of your motivations before we go on.”
“Speak clearly, we’ve had a difficult night and clearly we need work!” answers Benedict.
“Well, I don’t doubt your competence if even half I’ve heard is true about your fight with the ogre.”
Bairdyn replies, “Well, I hope it is not our character that is in question for I assure you I have never witnessed greater bravery than that shown by Benny and Jimmy in that battles of last night. And I assure you that both myself and from what I hear, Benny have both previously been falsely accused of wrongdoings. Besides which Jimmy whose character is unquestioned will certainly vouch for both of us, as is his habit.”
“Is this true?”
“It is sir,” says Jimmy.
“Know you all that I lost my family to the attacks of the Red Hand, ten years past and I fear this new group styles themselves after the atrocities of the past.”
“If not us who else are you going to find?” asks Bhenedict sternly.
“Fear not dwarf, there are others I could find, the Far-striders for one or the Fast-riders for another!”
Jimmy softly answers, “That won’t be necessary sir, we all lost people in that time, some people like me were only children then, I had seen less than six summers and I have only the vaguest memories of those I lost.”
“I am sorry Jimmy, I am sure that is true, you have grown-up a ward to the Temple of Bahamut have you not? I too feel this is right, and that is why I have invited you here. I wish to hire you to track down these villains, to track them to the hole they are hiding in. Their attacks last night were not random. They took prisoners and treasures which must be retrieved and quickly!”
“Is this a paying mission?” asks Bhenedict.
“Of course, I wouldn’t see you risk your lives for nothing, but I will have to speak to the council to determine the amount of any reward. In the meanwhile we did take a prisoner of our own last night, perhaps you would do well to question him.”
V: Interrogating Morrik
After a quick meal, at the insistence of Bairdyn the guards lead the friends to the city stocks where a lone hobgoblin is shackled. His wounds from last night’s battle have been bandaged, but a number of tomatoes on the ground near him and on the surface of the stocks indicate that his treatment hasn’t been completely kind.
He takes one look at the trio of adventurers and says, “I ain’t saying nothin’ unless you people let me go.”
Bhenedict shouts, “You don’t have to say nothing we can kill you right here and now!” Bring a quick rebuke from the guards – “We need him to be healthy and well treated for the trial”, one says. “And the last thing this town needs in mob violence right now.” The other guard adds, “Goblins are coward at heart, and if you start breaking fingers or whatever, they’ll say anything to make you stop. You’ll just get a bunch of lies”, he says.
Bairdyn speaks to the hobgoblin, “You know we might be able to let you go if you just speak up about what we need to know.”
A guard replies, “He isn’t going anywhere!”
“I am a HOBGOBLIN, and I am not afraid of soft-skinned dogs that smell of ASS and FIRE!”
Jimmy looking over the hobgoblin notices something is wrong, on the Goblin’s tunic is the image of the ‘Red Hand’ only in his case it is spun upside down, "Mister Goblin, may I get your name at least?”
“Morrik, did you know that the symbol on your chest is wrong? … It is upside down, that will not be very pleasing to your gods.”
“Sinruth made the marks, not Morrik.”
“Well maybe Sinruth has made more mistakes. You know we may not be able to free you right away but we can make you more comfortable. Why not tell us something so we can help you.”
Bhenedict, back turned on Morrik winks at the guard why still arguing, “You know I can rip the arms off this hobgoblin and shove them up his arse and the priest here can still heal him and I can do it all over again!”
“I won’t say anything, but I can give you a map. I hid it before I was captured.”
True to his work Morrik led the party to a hidden map:
And even better, he tell them that Sinruth, the leader of the Hobgoblins, is staying beneath the ruins of the Castle Rivenroar and that he means to sell the prisoners as bounty to the undead he has found lurking there.
Late that afternoon, they again meet once again with Councilmember Troyas.
“I have met with the council. I have convinced them to offer you 200 gold pieces for the safe return of the prisoners. We have identified seven:
- Jalissa – an acolyte of Ishtar, she is trained in arcane arts
- Sertanian – who is the Castellan of the Hall of Great Valor and he was a soldier during the great ‘Red Hand’ invasion
- Mirtala – who is a cook at the Craven Raven
- Zerriksa – a Witch who works for Red Magic and Sundries
- Adronsius – the famed Dwarven Alchemist
- Kartenix – the Guard’s Captain from the dwaven gate
- And tragically, Thurann – who is Kartenix’s eight-year old son
Further, we have identified several treasures stolen from the ‘Hall of Great Valor”.
- An ornate, gilded dragoncrest helm
- A ceremonial platinum longsword
- A set of three shields with the Red Hand insignia
- A set of iron gauntlets with extensive filigree
- A heraldic battle standard depicting two hands clasped in a handshake
Return these items and they will pay an additional 200 gold pieces.”
“I speak for us all accepting this mission, and I thank you for confidence you are showing in us,” says Bairdyn.
“Those goblins won’t even know what hit them!” throws in Bhenedict.
And under his breath Jimmy adds, “With this much gold I think I know a friend who might join us.”
545 Each for Bairdyn, Bhenedict and Jimmy
PLAYERS: Bairdyn, Bhenedict & Jimmy
CAMEO: Councilmember Eoffram Troyas Musicians: The Wicked Tinkers