Readers warning: Some of the dialogue in the next scene has been liberally translated from the original Elven, Common, and Goblin, so as not to cause offence. These passages will be marked by bolding them.
“Come and get some of this, ye goblinoid villains who may well have engaged in intimate relations with thine own parents!” cried Elwanen as the door fell into splinters.
The hobgoblin archers waiting in the room beyond unleashed a volley that sent him reeling back into the ranks of his own party. Cass, a dainty lass who just happened to know how to swing a really big axe, led the charge forwards as 2 robed hobgoblin warcasters stepped into view at the far end of the chamber. Unleashing powerful blasts of energy from their fully charged staves they sent both the young warrior girl and the warlock beside her flying across the room. Comfy in his large oaken chair, the warchief laughed a loud belly laugh.
“You foolish interlopers who likewise may have doubts cast upon your familial relations! Who wants more of the same?”
Beneath a barrage of Theron’s magic missiles Aran came tumbling through his party who were sprawling this way and that. He ducked past 2 hobgoblins as they swung their rattling flails at him, and drop-kicked the soup cauldron in just such a way as to tip it onto it’s side with a resounding clang. Boiling hot broth splashed over the archers who had taken cover behind it and were now screaming in pain. Meanwhile the hobgoblin soldiers closed in on the nimble Halfling.
With a single huge stride Fangorn was into melee, batting a shield away with his maul and following up with a heavy blow that hit one of the soldiers square in the chest, sending him back pedalling. Elwanen was close behind, thrusting his sword into a pair of soldiers who were tightly locked in formation. The soldiers dealt out viscious slashing blows from their spiked flails in return.
“This is a really bad idea.” sighed Des, “I must see what’s going on!” He ran to the doorway and beheld the carnage beyond. Half of his party were picking themselves up off the floor, while the rest were surrounded by hobgoblin soldiers and fighting for their lives.
“Does anybody require healing at this point?” He called into the room.
“Nothing more than a flesh wound!” replied Elwanen, not seeking to be a drain on party resources, as he valiantly parried the hobgoblin’s attacks and seized an opportunity to gain another thrust that cut one of the soldiers across the abdomen with a grunt of pain.
“Don’t worry, it was just a bolt of deadly energy to the face.” muttered Fau morbidly, not wishing to lower party moral with apparent vulnerability, whilst staggering to his feet and blasting a hobgoblin soldier who had lined up a flanking strike on Fangorn.
“Oh well, may as well make myself useful!” Des rapidly thumbed through the pages of the heavy book he carried around with him. “Ah yes, this sounds appropriate!” He began to recite a verse.
Winter again, but below, The song of swords, Mine foe is afeared.
A wave of dread washed over the backline of the hobgoblin formation, the archers shivered, the soldiers quaked, even the warcasters gripped their staves so tightly their knuckles turned white. Despite their unease, the hobgoblins continued fighting, although their arrows did not fly so straight, nor were their arcane words pronounced with such confidence.
Cass got to her feet and commanded her great axe to burst into flame. Swinging great arcs of trailing fire, she waded into the ranks of hobgoblin soldiers, clashing axe against shield with a burst of flame. Aran tumbled around the battlefield, wielding Talon and Claw in deadly patterns around the knees and the hamstrings of the brutish goblinoids that towered over him, felling a foe from behind. Moving into his fallen allies position, the large figure of a heavily armoured hobgoblin swung his flail down suddenly and caught the Halfling as he dived away.
Meanwhile Elwanen carved a symphony of Eladrin steel into the soldiers that surrounded him, barely managing to fend off rattling blows from their deadly flails in return. Flanked, he was spun around by a blow that smashed into his shoulder. Fangorn, taking mighty strides from foe to foe, pounded and mashed upon the shields of the well-drilled formations around him. Theron’s magic missile barrage found targets in all corners of the room, delicate wraiths of dark energy leaping from his fingertips and soaring through the air with a brutal accuracy.
But as it seemed the battle was level, Aran tumbled past the 2 warcasters who unexpectedly lashed out with their staves in melee. Catching Aran a massive blow to the chest, one of them sent him flying across the room, where he lay motionless.
“Aran!” shouted Elwanen, disappearing as the shield wall closed in around him, and reappearing a second later beside the fallen Halfling. The paladin reached down and healed his comrade with but a touch.
“Right!” shouted the warchief, “It’s time you half-witted hairless apes received a final and resounding rebuke!” He leapt off his large oaken chair and, wielding a curved serated shortsword, charged into melee with Cass. Fending off the warchief and several soldiers, Cass was slashed, stabbed, and flailed, driven back into the passageway and barely managing to keep on her feet. Seeing this Theron leapt into the melee.
“This had better work, or i’m dead!” he quipped with a toss of the hair, “THUNDERWAVE!”
The sudden sonic shock wave sent the soldiers flying, their broad shields acting like sails in a storm, but the warchief yet stood his ground. Bruised and battered, Cass charged back in, heaving her flaming great axe in a mighty whoosh over the head of the ducking warchief.
Fau was seen walking calmly across the room, picking his way over bodies and debris, blood pouring from many cuts and gashes, stopping occasionally to blast a hobgoblin to smithereens. The last surviving archer picked him out from the far side of the chamber and loosed an arrow, which sent the warlock reeling.
“Would anyone like to be healed at this point?” shouted Des at the top of his voice once more.
Looking around to make sure his compatriots were not watching, Fau plucked the arrow from his shoulder and called upon his inner reserves to drive him onward. Satisfied he had not been seen healing himself, and thus maintaining a confident air of invulnerability, he re-emerged into the battle and looked for his next target.
“I think you might profer Cass your aid.” Elwanen advised Des, since noone else had taken up the offer, before leaping back into melee with a group of hobgoblin soldiers around the remains of the fire on which the soup cauldron had been boiling.
Des looked across the room to where Cass and Theron were battling the warchief and several soldiers. Cass was desperately fending off blows, already riven with many wounds. Turning the page in the thick book he carried around with him, Des offered some words of inspiration:
Let it be Never thee Enemy Better me
The hobgoblins facing Cass were suddenly captivated by a fleeting moment of despondency, while Cass found herself invigorated, her wounds disappearing before her very eyes.
Having battled his way to the far side of the guardroom Fangorn found himself beside a large fireplace in the corner, whereupon he set about the 2 lurking warcasters. Swinging his huge maul around his head with both gnarly hands several times in preparation he strode forward a single step and unleashed it in a great humming arc, sending one of the hobgoblin arcanists flying limp and lifeless before he hit the stone floor. The other stepped away just in time and pointed the tip of his staff at the savage tree-creature. Another blast of energy sent Fangorn staggering back, collapsing into the roaring fire. He swiftly emerged, his charred leaves floating off into the air about him as he shook off the flames.
From nowhere, Fau appeared next to the last arcanist.
“You.” he muttered, summoning a great grasping claw of smoke from the fireplace that grabbed the hobgoblin and dragged him, screaming, into the flames. A few moments later the burning figure of the unfortunate warcaster emerged from the fire, still screaming. Blackened to a crisp, it spent it’s dying moments running around the battlefield, still screaming, still on fire, before crashing to the floor and shattering into large chunks of charcoal.
A hobgoblin soldier, who had been bearing down on Fau before he vanished, looked around and found Des, who was quickly leafing through his book for something appropriate to say. Raising his shield he charged, his long flail swinging in viscious circles around him. Des looked up from his study, and quickly drew a mace to defend himself. The soldier swung his flail and missed, Des retaliated with a blow that clanged against the hobgoblin’s shield, knocking it aside for an instant.
As if a silent alarm had rung out warning all rogues of an opportunity, Aran suddenly appeared. Seeing but an inch of unshielded armpit, the Halfling leapt up at the hobgoblin and skewered him under his shoulder in such a way that the tip of his scimitar re-appeared from the poor creatures neck.
“Redeploy!” yelled the hobgoblin warchief seeing his soldiers falling around him. The few remaining warriors under his command suddenly shifted their positions with finely-drilled precision, despite the fact that the tide had turned against them.
Reaching a vantage point in a side passage, the archer that had dealt Fau a near-mortal wound scanned the melee. Seeing Elwanen drop the last soldier he faced with a graceful, 360 degree spinning scythe-like blow that separated the soldiers legs from his feet at the ankle, he took aim and fired. The Eladrin paladin was struck in the chest and fell back with a crash, sword and shield clattering to the stone floor but an instant later.
“Elwanen!” shouted Fangorn, still smoking, as he bounded across the corpses of the paladin’s fallen foes. Retrieving one of the potions the party had acquired in Winterhaven, he poured it down the throat of the dying Eladrin.
Having stepped back from melee, Theron looked across the room and espyed the smirking archer draw another arrow, the sinister figure of Sabbat Fau calmly bearing down on the bowman. Raising a hand, the warlock blasted the hobgoblin with a rolling ball of fire, but when the smoke had cleared the creature was still on it’s feet. With toss of the hair, Theron sent a dancing wraith of black mana soaring through the air, hitting the hobgoblin square on the forehead. The archer fell backwards, rigid, and hit the floor with a smoking hole where once his brain had been.
Both Fangorn and the newly risen Elwanen charged across the room and joined the melee where Cass and Aran were battling the warchief and the last of the soldiers. Axes and mauls clashed against shields, serated shortswords lashed out. The battle, though nearly won, was not over. The barbarian felled a hobgoblin from behind with a downwards swing of his maul, while Cass struck the warchief a serious blow from her flaming axe. An exchange of blows and parries left the hobgoblin Elwanen battled reeling.
Seeing that his force was depleted, the warchief grinned with the fearless intensity of a doomed warrior.
“It has been my honour to lead you!” he declared to the 2 hobgoblin soldiers who still stood by him, “At least i’ll take one of these rotten scoundrels with me!”
With that he barged through Cass and Des, lunging at the unarmoured wizard beyond. Following a swift feint he stabbed Theron with his shortsword, sending the wizard recoiling in pain.
With his hair all awry, Theron was enraged. The wizard picked himself up and threw himself upon the hulking warchief. At the exact same moment Splug, the faithful goblin minion appeared from out of the dark corner in which he had been bravely cowering, distracting the warchief for but a vital split second. With his attention split between the charge of a bewilderingly puny goblin and the kick up the backside from a frighteningly melee-keen wizard, the baffled hobgoblin suddenly found himself staring down the wrong end of a descending fiery great axe.
“Maglubiy – arrgh!” he screamed, just before Cass cleaved his skull in two. Having felled one of the 2 soldiers, the party surrounded last surviving hobgoblin.
“Surrender.” muttered the warlock.
“Or be torn apart in a lengthy and scientifically interesting fashion.” added Elwanen. With that the defeated soldier threw down his weapon and shield and surrendered to the adventurers.