The dice game that the goblins were playing seemed very similar to one that he knew from his youth, except this one required more strategic thinking, and involved more ‘imaginary’ combat, which was probably why the goblins enjoyed it so much.
As such, the Halfling warlord found himself to be very adept at this strategy-based variant and within a short space of time Ryam had won himself an impressive prize, the almost legendary Tankard of The Endless Pint.
The goblins were miffed at the newcomer’s success, and, by way of a ploy, struck up a conversation, seeking to distract Ryam’s attention away from the game.
“New stock you say?” began the first hobgoblin, rattling a fist full of dice, “We just sold a bunch of slaves to the Duergar a few days ago. Miserable bunch of humans we rounded up, I thought we’d never shift ‘em.” The hobgoblin spilled the dice onto the table and cursed.
“Maglubyet’s cock! Missed again!”
It was Ryam’s turn. He scooped up the dice and began to rattle them himself, both hands clasped around each other.
“Oh really.” he said, feigning disinterest. This was clearly a ploy to distract him, but he knew very well that slaves the hobgoblin was referring to may very well be the ones the party had been searching for. Maybe Cass’ brother, John, was among them. He decided to play their game and pry further.
“And where are the Duergar taking them?” he asked nonchalantly, as he rolled out the dice in his hand. The goblins at the table looked concerned. Each die had rolled it’s maximum value. For Ryam the result was a complete success and would spell the end of the game. Totting up the result in his head, Ryam took it upon himself to subtract a liberal amount from the total.
“Blast it!” he muttered in mock desperation, “15. Another miss!”
The hobgoblin quickly understood that Ryam had appeared to miscalculate, but he was not the type to pass up the opportunity to capitalise on an opponent’s error. He greedily grabbed at the dice.
“They’re off to a very nice little place, they’ll have a great time where they’re going!” he laughed. The other goblins around the table began to cackle, one after the other joining in. The hobgoblin rolled the dice.
“22. A hit!” he shouted. The dice clearly indicated a somewhat lower amount. The hobgoblin was cheating, and not very well. The goblin audience cackled once more. “I shift, and all enemies within 2 squares are ‘glum’, save ends.” added the gloating hobgoblin.
Ryam scooped up the dice once more, with a furrowed brow. Glum was not good. Surveying the tokens on the table he spotted a key strategic move that would destroy his opponent entirely. Ryam moved his token in the opposite direction, putting himself in a very vulnerable position. The goblins grinned at each other.
“What kind of a place is that then?” he asked as he rolled out the dice. Once again his roll was as good as it could possibly have been. The hobgoblin, seeing this, quickly began talking, making exaggerated gestures with his arms in an attempt to capture Ryam’s attention.
“The Horned Hold!” he declared with his hands twisted into claws to emphasise the nastiness of the place he was describing. “A Duergar citadel. A place where slaves work and die!”
Ryam tipped out the dice onto the table. The Halfling could not believe his luck. He had rolled the maximum possible once again.
“By all the gods!” spat the Halfling, with a look of disgust on his face, “Missed again! But I save versus glum, and all adjacent creatures are ‘discontent’ until the end of my next turn.” he added.
The hobgoblin sneered. He could handle discontent. He rolled the dice, and added a random number to the result.
“Ha! Critical!” The hobgoblin cried, to rapturous applause from his goblin minions. Ryam feigned reluctance as he removed several of his tokens from the table. “Your turn.” challenged the hobgoblin victoriously.
Ryam picked up the dice and rolled them quickly out onto the table. Straight away the hobgoblin started talking again.
“And… so, any news from where you’re from?”
Ryam had decided that enough was enough. These goblins probably didn’t have any more information for them, it was time to finish this. He nodded to Aran who, along with Fau and Waylander, had been watching the game. Aran took the hint and spoke up, leaving Ryam to concentrate on the game.
“Actually, we were telling Chief Krand, these this big nasty Eladrin Paladin of Pelor stomping around.” chirped the other Halfling merrily, “Says he’s after slavers and wants to kill every last one of ‘em!”
The goblins around the table looked at each other uncertainly.
“Pelor my arse!” mocked the second hobgoblin after a moment, “We piss on Pelor! Maglubiyet pisses on Pelor! If he shows up here we’ll show him what it means to go up against the Bloodreavers!”
“I just thought I’d mention it.” added Aran, “He teleports all around the place you see. You never know where he’s going to show up next.” This last statement was intended to be a cue, as such he said it with a slightly raised voice so that the other party members waiting on the other side of the door might hear.
“That 3 hits, 1 critical, and you are ‘self-depreciating’, save ends.” declared Ryam.
The goblins looked at each other once more, this time with more concern on their faces. Aran repeated the intended cue, this time a bit louder.
“I said, you just never know where he’s going to show up next!”
At that, the door swung open. In stepped Elwanen and Cass with their weapons drawn. They stood several steps from the table, looking around at the gathering. The goblins looked back at them: a tall young woman dressed in scale mail wielding a huge great axe standing next to a mean-looking Eladrin paladin dressed in battered full plate, carrying a chipped sword in one hand and a dented shield with a symbol of the sun on it in the other.
“Right then lads,” spoke the Eladrin paladin, “Have you found out where the hookers are yet?”
The goblins and the bandits sprang to their feet and reached for their swords. Ryam jumped out of his chair and drew his scourge. All around the room the goblin minions dropped what they were doing and desperately dived for their weapons.