Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess
Part One - Chapter Three: Siege of the Farmstead
It was on Moonday, the 10th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 580, when the Company of the Green Dragon found the murderer of Callory Frickard to be Naldon Colwatt, a distant relative of Frickard’s. The band had Colwatt arrested and soon after many of Narwell’s residents arrived at the militia headquarters to learn what they could about the murderer and how he was apprehended. Many of the pro-Frickards expressed their anger at the murderer, but everyone it seemed, was glad to hear that he had been caught and that his motive had little to do with the pen that Frickard had invented. It did not take long before word got around that the capture of Colwatt was due almost entirely to the efforts of a band of adventurers known as the Company of the Green Dragon. It was also a great source of relief for the townsfolk to learn that Colwatt eventually confessed to the crime. Following Colwatt’s arrest, the band was questioned by Captain Nenshen, leader of the local militia and joint-administer of the town. But because of Colwatt’s confession, and the corroboration of Gadral and Mimfred, who were long-time residents of Narwell, Captain Nenshen did not feel the need to take up too much of the band’s time with unnecessary questions. No doubt, it also helped that the arrest of Colwatt did not interfere with any of Nenshen’s business dealings and that with Colwatt’s arrest, Nenshen could put the matter of Frickard’s murder to rest. So, before long, Captain Nenshen let the band return to the Two Castles Inn, but told them not to leave town just yet, in case something unexpected came up, or if Baron Janstin might wish to speak with them. That evening, many of the townsfolk visited the inn to congratulate the band on their efforts and to thank them for their aid. Many drinks were bought for the band, and several of the Guild Masters showed up to pay the band their promised reward. Later in the evening, as some had expected, a messenger arrived and presented to the band an invitation for an audience with Baron Janstin at nine o’clock the following morning. This, of course, was an invitation that the band dared not refuse. In addition to all of this, that evening, Corvyn picked up on a rumor about the City of Greyhawk paying bounties on hobgoblins that were said to be causing trouble in the eastern fringes of the Gnarley Forest, and which were thought to be refugees from the nearby and recently sacked Temple of Elemental Evil. One other item of minor note: a strange occurrence took place that evening in which several mugs of ale were seen to be lifted from a barmaid’s tray and spilled on to the floor. This was yet another example in a long line of mysterious and unexplained phenomena that had been occurring since the band’s formation, ranging from things being knocked over by unseen forces, to unusual noises that seemed to come from nowhere, to random gusts of wind that appeared to have no source or reason to exist. Though none of the band seemed to have a definite explanation for any of this, there were some who began to suspect that either the band was being followed by an unseen trickster, or that they were being haunted by malign spirits. The next morning, after buying a tent and some gear, the band arrived at the Baron’s Keep at nine o’clock and was soon ushered into an audience chamber where they were introduced to Baron Janstin. The baron, a shrewd and savvy politician, congratulated the band on solving the murder. But his real interests became apparent when he asked Zeke who had hired the band to come all the way from Greyhawk to look into the mystery. Obviously, the baron was more concerned about who might be undermining his authority than he was about catching a criminal. Not wishing to cause the Guild Masters any trouble, Zeke managed to make up a couple of false names that seemed to satisfy the baron’s curiosity. Baron Janstin then asked Zeke if he might count on the band to consider future opportunities of short-term employment for the baron. And on this point, Zeke hesitated before answering in the affirmative. Still, the baron did not appear to be greatly offended and soon allowed the band to be on their way. Following their visit with Baron Janstin, the band left Narwell and began their journey back to Greyhawk. Now equipped with a tent, the band was able to travel without the need to find shelter along the way, much to the displeasure of those in the band, such as Tadwin, who did not care for camping out in the wilderness. Despite any apprehensions, their first few days were uneventful and that night they made camp about 10 miles west of Zulern. At the end of their second day of travel, the band camped about 14 miles southwest of Phlandish and at the end of their third day, they stopped about 14 miles west of One Ford. On their fourth day of travel however, the band decided to leave the well-traveled trail and strike out northeast across the plains towards southeastern fringes of the Gnarley Forest. In the afternoon, the band came across a farmstead that lay along the trail which led into the forest. Here the band ended their travels early for the day, so they could ask around for any news or clues about any hobgoblins seen in the area. Following up on the rumor that Corvyn had heard in Narwell, the band had decided to see if they could track down any hobgoblins since they would be passing by the area on their way home. From what the people of the farmstead could tell them, the band agreed that if there were any hobgoblins nearby, they might be found along the trail leading into the forest. So it was in that direction that the band decided to travel next. On the following morning, Starday, the 15th day of Reaping, The band left the farmstead and headed north. By 11 o’clock, the band had entered the forest and by noon, they had followed a side path to another farmstead. At this farmstead, the band met a farmer by the name of Brannigan, who lived there with his wife and two daughters. The band asked them if they had heard any news of hobgoblins, and while they had not seen any hobgoblins, they did mention that a group of rangers, known as the Gnarley Rangers, were headed north towards the forest village of Five Oaks in search of hobgoblins. Initially, the band had thought to follow the rangers. But Kelgor pointed out it might make more sense to go where the rangers we not, since the rangers would probably be able to handle any hobgoblins they encountered. So the band decided instead to go in the direction of a more secluded farmstead which lay to the east and was situated along a stream. The forest in that direction proved to be more dense than anticipated however, and the band had to set up camp before reaching the farmstead. That night, while Brom was on watch, their camp was approached by a huge grizzly bear. Brom woke everyone up before the bear got too close and it was hoped that they could simply scare the bear off. Unfortunately, they only managed to anger the bear and soon afterwards, it attacked. They were therefore forced to battle the bear and, as the band discovered, it was not easy to kill. In fact, the bear very nearly killed Corvyn as it got him in a hug and strangled him until he lost consciousness. The bear died shortly afterwards though and Kelgor was able to heal Corvyn up. Later on that same night and very close to sunrise, the band’s campsite was approached again – this time by a small band of large humanoids. Zeke and Corvyn, who were on watch, had little time to wake everyone up before what turned out to be five hobgoblins suddenly charged at them. But despite the disadvantage, the band quickly turned the fight against the hobgoblins, due in large part to one of Tadwin’s color spray spells. One of the hobgoblins then turned and fled while the others were forced to battle on. The largest of the hobgoblins, and the band’s apparent leader, proved to be difficult to take down as he was only momentarily stunned by the color spray spell. He too tried to flee but was then delayed by a grease spell. The band then captured him alive and brought him back to the campsite tied and bound. There the band questioned the hobgoblin, who fortunately spoke Common, and learned that his name was Bergrat Gutfilcher of the Marrowsucker tribe. With the threat of violence against him, Bergrat was easily persuaded to talk and he claimed that he and the other hobgoblins were on their way to join up with a larger force of the same tribe, which was led by the supposedly world-famous Snagger Bonesnapper, though the band, of course, had never heard of him. Bergrat told the band that the tribe was in the process of pillaging the land for treasure, food and slaves and said that if they would agree to let him go, he would lead the band to their intended meeting place. The band agreed to this and the remainder of the night and early the following morning was spent getting the last bit of rest that they needed. Later that morning, once the band was ready, they gaged Bergrat and had him lead the band back through the forest in the direction from which the band had come. Upon returning to the forest trail leading to Five Oaks, which was where Bergrat had said the hobgoblins were supposed to meet, and not finding any other hobgoblins, Bergrat then told the band that Snagger and his group must have gone on to their next intended target – which just happened to be Brannigan’s farmstead. Realizing that Brannigan and his family were in serious danger, and that Bergrat may no longer be of any use to them, the band debated on what to do with him. In the end, despite their earlier agreement, they chose to execute the hobgoblin right then and there. The band then made their way back to Brannigan’s farmstead and as they drew near, they could hear the sound of hobgoblin voices shouting. Brom snuck closer to get a better understanding of the situation, and discovered that the farmstead was surrounded by seventeen hobgoblins, one of which was shouting at an unknown number of hobgoblins within the farmhouse. According to Bergrat, there may have been as many as thirty or forty. But from what Brom could piece together, the hobgoblin outside the farmhouse, whose name was Rumblegut Bonesnapper, was the younger brother of Snagger, who was inside the farmhouse. Rumblegut apparently had a force of his own and was now challenging the authority of his older sibling. Both sides however, were in a stand-off while the two brothers traded insults with one another. Brom returned to the rest of the band, reporting to them what he had seen and proposed a plan he had come up with. After some debate, the band agreed to the plan, and Brom returned to the farmstead. This time he made no effort to conceal himself and made a show of acting surprised when he came upon the hobgoblins. He then turned and fled and as hoped, some of the hobgoblins spotted him and began to chase after him. Unfortunately, only three of the seventeen hobgoblins were drawn away and those three were easily ambushed by the band and killed. The band knew that this trick would not work as well a second time, and they spent some time trying to devise another plan. But eventually, Brom, once again, scouted ahead to see what the hobgoblins were up to by this point. Brom was spotted however and was forced to retreat, though he made sure not to retreat too quickly, in the hopes that he could draw more hobgoblins away. But this time, Rumblegut divided the rest of his forces into two groups, one of which he sent around in a flanking maneuver, while he led the other half in a slow and deliberate path directly behind the retreating Brom. Seeing this, Brom realized he had to warn his companions and hurried back to meet up with them. The band then, not wanting to fight all the hobgoblins at once and certainly not from too different directions, quickly advanced towards Rumblegut’s force in the hopes that they could defeat it before having to take on the second force. This gave them no opportunity to ambush the initial force and when the two groups met in the woods, they met on equal terms. Despite the band’s use of magic, this first part of the battle was fairly tough. Still, Tadwin’s color spray spells proved effective as always. And much to everyone else’s delight, Zeke even cast a color spray spell or two, though his did not turn out to be as effective. Nevertheless, the band was quite surprised by Zeke’s actions as they had never seen him cast the spell before, nor had they even seen him take so much as one glance at a spellbook. It seemed as if Zeke was simply mimicking Tadwin’s favorite spell and was somehow able to manifest it by force of will alone. But, regardless of the added magic, the battle raged on for nearly a full minute, as the hobgoblins were heavily armored and Rumblegut proved to be a tough opponent with a magical scimitar. When the last of the hobgoblins in the first force were taken down, the band had only a few seconds to heal and prepare themselves before the second group of hobgoblins came at them. Here again, Zeke proved to be full of surprises when he seemingly mimicked one of Kelgor’s spells and began using magic to heal injuries, which was another thing that no one had ever seen him do before. Fortunately, this time the band was able to set up an ambush just before the second wave of hobgoblins attacked. Kelgor intentionally placed himself in the open on the far side of a clearing to draw the hobgoblins towards him. Then Brom and Corvyn sprung from concealment and used their skills with their chosen weapons to great effect, cutting down the second half of the hobgoblins in much quicker fashion than the first half. When the battle was over, the band healed up as much as they could, and gathered anything of value from the fallen hobgoblins, which included the severed right hand of every hobgoblin they had so far killed, to act as proof of the kill in order to collect on the bounty for them. The band then discussed options on what to do about the remaining hobgoblins at the farmstead. Everyone agreed that Brannigan and his family still needed to be rescued as soon as possible, assuming they were still alive – and there was every reason to believe so since the hobgoblins were capturing slaves. Unfortunately, the band was running very low on spells at this point. So they needed to come up with a plan that did not rely too heavily on magic. Their first idea was to try and draw some of the hobgoblins out by imitating a hobgoblin and shouting towards the farmhouse that Rumblegut was being attacked. But this idea proved to be ineffective. So, once again, Brom snuck in closer to some of the buildings to try and determine how many hobgoblins were in each. He found that only two hobgoblins were in a log shed. So the band quickly charged in and killed them. Then, in a nearby stable, they found three more hobgoblins. One of them was killed, but the other two were captured alive. Of these two, one of them was persuaded to talk when Corvyn executed the other with no hesitation. The remaining hobgoblin told the band that Brannigan and his family were still alive and that, including Snagger, there were only seven hobgoblins in the farmhouse. The farmstead’s barn appeared to have no hobgoblins in it, leaving only the farmhouse. The remaining hobgoblin was then also executed and the band turned their attention to the farmhouse. After devising a quick plan, Brom and Zeke snuck around to the front of the house, while Corvyn, Kelgor and Tadwin approached the door at the rear. Tadwin then opened the back door and Corvyn and Kelgar charged in. Most of the hobgoblins in the house were just beyond in the living room, and they drew their weapons as they turned to face the human and the dwarf. At that point, Brom opened the front door and came at them from behind. Tadwin, who was almost completely out of spells by then, stayed back and did what he could from a distance. Initially the battle seemed to be going fairly well for the band. Then the door to a bedroom flew open, and there stood Snagger with a long sword held at the throat of Brannigan’s wife. Snagger threatened to kill the woman unless the band surrendered. So the battle gradually came to a halt. But no one threw down their weapons and a momentary stand-off developed as both sides began making demands. But Zeke, who had yet to enter the building, heard what was happening and he quickly made his way around outside to the bedroom window where he hoped to get a better idea of the situation. When he saw that Snagger was standing with his back to the window and had a sword at the throat of Brannigan’s wife, he tapped on the window and cast a color spray spell, hoping that the window would not interfere with the spell. At the sound, Snagger turned and was struck with the bright flash of colorful light. It momentarily stunned and blinded Snagger, while it knocked Brannigan’s wife completely out and she fell from Snapper’s grasp. With this sudden turn of events, the battle quickly resumed as Corvyn and Brom continued to battle the hobgoblins in the living room. Kelgor realized however that Snagger was not going to be stunned and blinded for long, so he entered the bedroom to do what he could to keep Snagger away from Brannigan and his family, all of which were also in the bedroom. But Kelgor was seriously injured by this point and he stood little chance of lasting very long against a huge brute like Snagger. Realizing the situation, Tadwin also ran into the bedroom, though there was little he could do at this point but cast minor spells at Snagger and act as a diversion. Sure enough, Snagger regained his senses fairly quickly, and when he did, he held his sword up and uttered a word which caused his sword to be engulfed in flame. Now the battle against Snagger was becoming very dangerous. So Corvyn and Brom did what they could to dispatch the other hobgoblins as quickly as possible and come to the aid of Kelgor and Tadwin. Unfortunately, one of the hobgoblins slipped in behind Kelgor and struck him, causing him to fall unconscious. But soon after, Snagger was taking a beating from all around him, until finally, Brom managed to get a vicious sneak attack on him and took him down. The battle quickly came to an end afterwards as the last of the hobgoblins were killed. When the battle was over, Zeke healed Kelgor up enough for him to regain consciousness and the hobgoblin bodies were removed from the farmhouse. Brannigan and his family were, of course, very thankful to the band for their rescue, and offered to cook them a dinner and let them stay the night. As it was now getting late in the day and the sun was going down, the band gladly accepted the offer.