Entering the seedy tavern known as the Horse Buckle (or the Nags Cog to people who don’t think Horse Buckle is steampunk enough) our adventurers look around, seeing a veritable who’s who of theives and brigands. The tavern is a hideaway for people who would rather not encounter the guards who rarely come down this low in Sharn.
Uljira, spotting some hooded men in the corner brazenly approached, leaving Vanguard and Farac behind to question the barman about any work.
As Uljira approached the table the hooded figures seemed unperturbed and instead continued conversing, it was only after he spoke that they noticed him.
“Hey, you guys got any work for some adventurers?”, Uljira was always direct, preferring not to waste time on politeness.
The hooded figure closest to him simply answered no and moved to pull his hood down to further obscure his face but a glint of red from his eye was enough of a clue as to whom these men were.
Uljira quickly thought of when he had last encountered a vampire, it hadn’t been since he ran from them in Northern Karnnath. The Emerald Claw was rumoured to have recruited some vampires into their ranks but as so few non-Karnnathians ever lived to tell the tale the rumour hadn’t spread far.
Uljira took this denial of conversation as reason enough to turn to rejoin the others. They had pressed the barkeep for information and were now questioning the crying woman in the corner.
Uljira didn’t like the look of her, perhaps it was the sound of her tears stirred a hatred in him or it was his misplaced anger at the hooded figures rejection of him but his hand moved to his mace as he approached. God, he just wanted the crying to stop.
Vanguard, being ever wary of Uljiras tendencies reacted quickly to his attempt to quiet the woman with his mace, blocking the blow before backhanding Uljira to return him to his senses.
“There’s no time for that, we have work”, said Vanguard, and with a stare commanding Uljira’s obedience.
Vanguard once more turned to the woman, urging Farac to tell her to continue.
“As I was saying, my husband is missing and the door was broken in, oh God, it was the cartel, I just know it”, she cried before breaking down into sobbing.
Farac turned to Vanguard and Uljira, rubbing his chin.
“This far down in Sharn? It’s likely the Goblins, they run this section from the sewers, basically like loan sharks. Keira’s husband here got a loan to pay off another goblin loan, idiot played a fixed game and lost. Still, the Goblins work out of the sewers and there’ll be gold a plenty from the prospectors and the Goblins themselves. I say we take it”, he leans in closer, “Even if we don’t find him, we should find money enough to make it worth the trip”.
Vanguard nodded his approval, turning to Uljira to make sure he agreed too and to stem any outburst he might have but it was not needed as Uljira rapidly agreed.
“We’ll do our best to find him, but there is the question of a reward…”, Farac explained.
“A reward? But I told you we couldn’t even pay our loans!”, she cried, looking vaguely taken aback that the prospect of a reward was all that motivated the company.
Farac stared at her before nodding slowly. He stood up and turning, walked out of the tavern, Vanguard and Uljira in tow.
“Wait, so we’re doing this for free now?”, Uljira complained,“Why couldn’t I kill her then? Her husband is probably dead anyway, it’s not like they take you down there as a gift!”
“Doing what for free? She can’t pay but the Goblins have money a plenty, we’ll get ours, Uljira, don’t worry”, Farac said, smiling as they made their way to the closest sewer opening.
“Cold as a warforged”, muttered Vanguard.
Farac would often take this as an offense, but seeing as Vanguard was himself a Warforged, he thought it best that he take it as a compliment.
Eventually they made their way to the sewer opening and upon prising the grate open were met with a hole, descending into darkness with no ladder. The group looked to one another wondering what to do. It was at this point that Farac picked up a brick and, muttering a few choice words, lit it with an eerily incandescent glow before chucking it into the hole.
The brick visibly rolled down what appeared to be a ten foot deep slanting pipe.
Upon seeing this Vanguard, not one for waiting about needlessly, positioned himself to slide down the pipe. It was at the last second however that he felt a weight upon his back, which spurred his body down the pipe. Farac was surfing Vanguard to the bottom, the screeching of metal grinding on metal was piercing and yet it only served as fuel to the rage that Vanguard felt within him at being mocked so.
Farac dismounted swiftly at the bottom, already furiously apologising but to little avail as Vanguard advanced on him, battleaxe unsheathed. Words flowed freely from Faracs lips, he knew he was in the wrong but he also knew that Vanguard wasn’t exactly the kind of person to simply let something go – apology or not.
Thankfully Uljira arrived, which is not a circumstance that someone is often thankful for, backing up Faracs story that he tripped and fell onto Vanguard and that it was not meant as a joke.
Wishing to at least see some money come to him before murdering his group Vanguard angrily grumbled, sheathed his axe and moved on. The two remained still for a second welcoming the boon of a second chance at living.
The tunnel they had fallen into was long, about 50 foot to the end and pure black. The stench of lower Sharn waste penetrated their noses, though as Farac was the only one who could smell anything Vanguard and Uljira appeared unfazed.
“Light my axe so that we may see, unless you or Char-face over there would like to lead” growled Vanguard still none too pleased.
Farac muttered a few words that Vanguard suspected weren’t entirely spells before his axe illuminated. He then turned and led the way along the path, keeping close to the right wall as he could see an opening 10 feet in front of him to the left. As they passed the opening Vanguard raised his axe high peering into the empty room and seeing the ragged cot within. He continued the trek towards the end of the tunnel. As they neared the end they came upon two large grate-like doors.
“Well, no time like the present”, Vanguard said as he raised his leg and booted open the doors. His foot crashing against the steel set the tunnel to ringing and the faintest muttering that Farac had been about to inform Vanguard of had stopped.
The silence didn’t come, the ringing of the doors was replaced by the sounds of swords being unsheathed and screeches from within the room they had opened. Suddenly torches danced to life among the walls, lighting the room so that Vanguard and co. could gaze upon whom they had disturbed. Five Goblins lined the wall, their short tusks cracked and their skins blackened by grime and filth, not that Goblins were renowned for their cleanliness. Behind the four Goblins what Vanguard knew to be a Hobgoblin stood up, he had slain enough in The Last War to recognise the danger they were in.
With few words the group went to work, they had been together only a short time but they knew each other was a competent ally in a fight. Vanguard rushed forward towards the pack of Goblins, axe raised and hungering for blood. This was his element, he was home.
As he ran arcane missiles streaked past him, burning the goblin on the last left severely enough to launch him back into the tunnel beyond – the long scream could be heard echoing up through the chasm.
Uljira was happy to fight, running forth he uttered a prayer to The Raven Queen to grant him strength, he felt that familiar feeling as the power washed over him, she had heard his prayer and responded favourably. Bringing his charred hands together he focused the divinity and let loose a pulse of holy light, blinding the Goblin on the far right and searing the eyes from his skull, as he flailed about unseeing Uljira brought his mace down in a forceful swing landing the Goblin into the pool of water from which he wouldn’t get up.
Farac couldn’t remember much but he remembered this, he knew this. It felt good to burn that Goblin, by the Sovereign Host it did. He had more plans for the Goblins who had since retreated back to the protection of the Hobgoblin. His hands started preparing the ritual and he began to mutter the incantation.
Vanguard circled with the Hobgoblin whilst deftly dodging out of the way of two Goblins who were thankfully unaccustomed to using what were clearly human sized crossbows. Their clumsy aim was sadly not clumsy enough to plug their leader with one by mistake. He decided he must bring the fight to the Hobgoblin itself and letting loose a terrible road he charged, his axe coming down on the shield of the Hobgoblin before being knocked away. Out of nowhere a clawed mace was brought down, denting in his shoulder. As Vanguard jumped back, checking the damage he could feel that he was perhaps foolish in his initial rush. The tables were about to be evened though as suddenly a blinding light erupted from the ground beneath the three Goblins in front of him. Fire rose and tore through their armour, seething through every crack, screams of agony twisted upon their faces and one fell writhing on the ground before the flames seceded and they were left quivering.
Vanguard looked back to Farac, sweat poring from his brow he weakly grinned back. Vanguard turned again to the Goblins, it would be easy now. He launched forward for a new assault on one of the weaker Goblins, hoping to pick them off to leave just him and the Hobgoblin but as he raised his axe the Goblin darted for one of the tunnels and leaped down into the depths. The Hobgoblin roared after him, but to Vanguards knowledge it didn’t sound like anger but rather a command, he knew they would have to finish this soon before more came.
Uljira, using the flames as cover, had snuck around behind the Goblin with the crossbow, as it was loosing yet another arrow aimed for Vanguard he brought his mace down in front of its neck before crushing it back towards his chest. The Goblin went limp and was down. Uljira vaguely hoped he wasn’t dead as they would need a guide if they were to navigate the sewers, people have gotten lost in smaller places.
He looked over to Vanguard, the fight was continuing but the Hobgoblin seemed too good a match for Vanguard, with only Faracs magic missiles making small dents in the Goblin armour. Uljira figured that they would have to gain an advantage and focus their efforts. He crept further around before running and launching himself into the back of the Hobgoblin toppling it into the pool of water beyond. The pool was shallow but deep enough to drown in and so landing on top of him Uljira immediately attempted to keep its face under the water. Sadly it was too strong and deftly shrugged Uljira off but it was too late for standing above it axe raised was Vanguard.
Vanguard brought the axe down and cut off the guttural scream which had begun to escape its mouth.
The battle was over, and they had won.
Weakly Uljira got up and limped over to the inert Goblin, as he leaned down to pick him up he heard footsteps from the closest tunnel.
The rest of the group heard it too and turning they saw three men emerge from the tunnel.
What did they want?
Uljira was overcome with vivid imaginings of impending rape, his loins quivering with excitement.
He turned to look down at his groin, “Easy boys, easy…”.