Keep on the Shadowfell

Keep on the Shadowfell, the Beginning: Part 3

Carff glances up from the map that Lord Padraig had given them, matching a pile of stones ahead with the corresponding marker crudely drawn on the map by the Lord’s local scouts. The group had taken a turn off of the main King’s Road an hour earlier and now relied on minor landmarks to guide them towards the Kobold Lair. Thick copses of small, evergreen trees border the road a short distance behind the marker stones, accompanied by some of the large boulders that dot the landscape around Gardbury Downs.

“The sun nears its zenith,” the wizard Aeric muses aloud, “the warmth is much appreciated.” “Just keep yer eyes on the enemy when the metal starts to clang, Eladrin. I expect some support this time!” Likot replied indignantly, exhibiting some of the renowned dwarven stubbornness and wariness of elven-kind.

“Hmmm…” Carff raises a hand and gestures for the group to halt, sensing something off about the quiet of the trees lining the road up ahead. “I think we should proceed with caution here.”

The rest of the group place a hand on their weapons and silence idle conversation, eyes narrow and newly wary of the bend in the road ahead of them. All save Skitlezzz, whose eyes widen at the mention of danger. He grabs the enormous 6 foot greatsword from his back and holds it at the ready with both hands in front of his heavily muscled frame, moving forward with long but calculated strides.

“Kobold ambush!” Carff yells from the right edge of the road, looking down a narrow 5 foot wide corridor between the thick vegetation and a large boulder that two small, yellow-red reptilians hide clumsily behind, their scaly heads peeking just over the edge of the rock. They turn and emerge as Carff yells his warning, revealing crude spears and a small shields. Realizing their trap has been sprung, they rush towards the elf with a shrill battle cry! Carff spins to avoid a javelin thrown by the rear kobold, but comes about too late to fully dodge the lead kobold’s spear, catching it in a divot of his old leather armor. Slightly wounded by unfazed, he grabs the haft of the spear, dislodges the tip from his armor, and yanks it violently to his side, pulling the surprised kobold along with it. Carff quickly falls to a crouch and holds his dagger low, coming up just as the kobold stumbles into the exposed blade. The dagger stabs up into the kobold’s chest behind the sternum. Its painful scream turns to a bloody gurgle, and the kobold falls as Carff removes the bloodied weapon.

Three more kobolds emerge from the shelter of the trees on the opposite side of the road, near Skitlezzz and Artemis. Skitlezzz, already waiting for the kobolds to reveal themselves from their now predictable hiding spot, winds up and takes a massive swing at the first kobold, but underestimates their small stature, slicing nothing but air as the kobold runs unhindered beneath the seven pounds of edged steel. Artemis is caught off guard by the surprisingly intact creature running towards her, having expected the barbarian’s greatsword to have eliminated the threat. The green-blue orb of Eldritch energy she was preparing to send at the trailing kobolds fizzles and dies as her warlock’s rod is knocked aside by the charging kobold’s short sword. Sensing an opportunity to take down a weakened foe, the other two kobolds manage to dodge Skitlezzz’s cumbersome swings and slice at the isolated Artemis. She struggles to defend herself from the rain of blows, doing little damage before falling to the ground, helpless and heavily injured.

Now prepared and in full view of the enemy, Aeric and Likot enter the fray. They bound forward in a half-run, gauging the best angle of approach as they near the engaged kobolds. Aeric stops and pivots slightly to left to face the profile of a Kobold Dragonshield, the reptilian’s attention devoted to the wounded rogue Carff. Aeric raises his hands, almost as if begging, and chants an arcane keyword, his eyes intensely focused on the enemy in front of him. As he finishes the invocation his hands suddenly burst into red hot flames! He opens his hands, facing his palms toward the kobold, sending the fire careening towards the exposed creature. It turns its head in response to the sudden heat just in time to be painfully flash-burned by the jet of flame. It immediately drops its short sword and shield to the ground, covering its seared snout with its hands, and screams in pain. Aeric follows up with two quick steps forward and kicks the kobold to the ground as Likot brings his heavy warhammer over his head down onto the creature’s head with a sickening crunch.

Now outnumbered, the kobolds become panicked and try and cluster together in the center of the road, their backs together and weapons facing outwards in a crude circular defensive formation. “Now would be the time for an area attack ye durn Eladrin!” Likot yells to the wizard, but Skitlezzz is already charging the kobolds, greatsword held high. The remaining Kobold Dragonshield raises the large red dragon scale it uses as shield high above its head while the others recede behind it, hoping to use its cover in absence of their own protective shields. An enormous roar from the raging barbarian startles the lead kobold and weakens the creature’s grip on the scale, giving it a slight right tilt. The roar continues as the huge blade smashes down onto the shield, pushing it and its bearer into the ground. The sword’s momentum slides it off the right side of the shield, severing the pinned weapon arm of the downed kobold. With fire in his eyes, Skitlezzz lifts his sword to hip height and lunges forward, stabbing the second kobold cleanly through the abdomen. He swings the sword sharply left to dislodge the punctured foe, sending it sliding off the end of the blade and into the vegetation. Continuing his left turn, the bare chested barbarian spins around and swings the heavy sword like a bat, cutting up diagonally through the final kobold’s chest and out through its right shoulder, killing it instantly. All enemies felled, Skitlezzz sticks his sword into the ground and lets out a victorious battle cry with both fists in the air.

“Artemis has been heavily wounded, we should return to town and recover before we attempt the Kobold’s Lair” Likot says matter-of-factly. “I think that’s prudent. Perhaps we should seek a healer or paladin as well” Aeric replies. “Not before I have my pick of this loot.” Carff is already eagerly digging around the broken bodies, though he finds little more than a few scattered silver pieces and crude weapons and armor. “Ehh, not much here. Let’s head back to town.”

The five adventurers turn back towards the mountains and slowly but steadily make their way to the safety of Winterhaven, arriving just before nightfall.

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