The next morning, and following Walthus’ instructions, the group exited the swamp and followed the coast road round to the south, skirting the eastern edge of Brinestump Marsh. Crossing the bridge, and checking along the cliff, they eventually hit the Old Fisherman’s Path, and once more descended downwards into the murk. After three quarters of a mile the trail branched westwards and to the northeast.
Following westwards, Rasha, who was scouting ahead, spotted a filthy village-fort surrounded by a crude wooden palisade sitting atop a low hummock of solid ground . The wooden gate along the north wall of the palisade was lying in a shambles on the ground.
Nearby, a large, algae-filled pool on the northeastern side broke the palisade allowing a clearer view into the village’s interior,which consisted of a collection of ramshackle huts connected by wooden walkways, all built on thick wooden stilts. The place looked deserted.
As they gathered round the gate, they seen that it had apparently been hacked down with weapons-it was a fairly flimsy thing anyway. As they paused Ailukka cast a protective spell on Ragnar, Ungo and herself.
“One for me and one for best warriors. Last an hour.” she said. Dinald frowned,but said nothing: he surmised he needed to do something to boost his esteem in this group.
Ragnar and the twins clambered up onto the nearest walkway and checked the nearest buildings; Rasha climbed a ladder onto a roof and kept watch with his bow. The whole stockade was silent.
Several huts were checked, and all appeared to have been the scene of some furious fighting. Smashed utensils and simple furniture lay scattered about.
Just inside the gate was a shallow pit; Ailukka called the others over, and they saw that inside were half a dozen burned goblin skeletons. The mystery deepened.
In one room Ungo found a few fireworks, but these proved to be the only thing of interest.
“This is a fecking waste of time”, he complained. “They’ve all gone”.
“Only a few more buildings to check anyway” said Rasha. “We may as well be thorough.”
Ragnar opened the next door expecting not very much. WHat he saw were three goblins poised to attack-one of them pointing a very large fizzing firework at the door he had just walked through. There was a flash and an almighty bang, accompanied by the smell of burned pork and powder-two of the goblins fell lefeless to the floor, one of them burned horribly. The survivor staggered forward screaming shrilly, until Ragnar silenced him with a sharp blow which snapped his neck.
The twins rushed through and into the next building, and then out into a small open area enclosed by buildings and walkways. With a combined shriek of “Killee!!” a dozen or so goblins started to pout out of the surrounding huts, a number of them cornering Dinald and Reynald in the hut they had just run into, and trading them blow for blow. Ailukka,Gram and Rasha became involved with another group, while Ungo and Ragnar also joined the general melee.
The twins recieved a number of wounds, though Reynald managed to give as good as he got. Dinald managed a number of textbook fencing moves, which although impressive failed to connect with any of the goblins slicing holes in him: he was learning the hard way that a field of combat is not quite the same as a fencing masters piste.
With the protective spells cast on Ragnar and the others however it was no contest, and the few remaining goblins fled and started hammering on the door of the largest and most impressive (which was not saying very much) hut. The group followed and mercilessly hacked them down from behind.
The final survivor, hanging onto life by a thread, surrounded by four foes finally fell as Dinald lunged in from the edge of the combat, skeweering him. Dinald strutted like a peacock.
“Well what do you think of that eh Brother? A fantastic piece of swordsmanship don’t you think? Well we’re all heroes now!” he beamed. Reynald looked away, appearing slightly embarrased. DInald looked round, and saw to his annoyance that no-one was paying him the slightest bit of attention at all.
Ragnar and Ungo examined the door to the large hut. It was a ramshackle affair, and was comprised of many pieces of timber and driftwood lashed or nailed together-including what appeared to be an oaken rib section taken from a ship of some sort. Ungo started to hack away with his axe.
After three or four blows the door caved in. There was a high pitched shriek and a flash then another almighty crack, as something exploded in the middle of the doorway, wounding several of the group. They rushed forward to confront a particularly large looking goblin readying his spear, surrounded by three flunkies. The combat was short but fierce, seeing Reynald skewered by the goblin, and Dinald being very badly hurt, before Ungo’s axe lopped the goblin’s head from his shoulders. And then everything was quiet.
Ungo and Ragnar searched the hut while Gram saw to the wounded; once again their protective spells had seen them safely through the combat. They found a somewhat beautiful red and black lacquered chest, which in itself was probably quite valuable. Inside was some money and a variety of oddly styled but exquisite jewellry, including a rather ornate fan featuring a lizard of some sort amidst some blossoming trees. Ragnar stared hard as though he recognised the style of the pieces, but it eluded him: it was certainly not Varisian.
As he stared at the fan Ailukka exclaimed “There is drawing on back.” Ragnar turned it over. It was very crude- goblin maybe? The others gathered round.
“It’s a map” said Rasha. “A map of the swamp. There’s the village- and these two look like what- ships? And a cave?”
“Mak’s sense Laddie” said Gram. “Mebbe these here firewurrks came from a looted ship? Where else might they come from?”
One of the ship markings was quite close by, and the group determined to make camp in the village overnight, and then strike out in the morning after Gram had renewed some of his healing magicks. As they scavenged around for firewood Rasha came back frowning.
“I’ve found a trail” he said. “It leaves the village through that pond and then bears round the village to the wide creek to the south. And then it…er….wades into the creek and vanishes. I found about two dozen of these dropped along the way.” He tossed a large handful of silver coins on the table.
“More goblins?” asked Ungo.
“Er no. Human size. Skeletal in fact.” said Rasha, looking him straght in the eye. “Over half a dozen of them.”
“So let me see.” said Reynald. “These goblins stole something-fireworks and more valuable things. Then a bunch of walking skeletons appeared, hacked down the gates and killed a number of goblins before marching off with the loot? Have I got everything?”
“That certainly fits the facts” said Rasha. The guard was fitful, and the sleep restless that night.