During Z’s watch a boar wandered into the stable yard. She thought she could take care of things on her own. She could not. Shojin and I were roused from our slumber by the sounds of the fighting. I made short work of the beast with a well placed arrow and that was that. The tavern keeper was also awakened by the ruckus and offered to cook the beast for us free of charge. We took him up on his offer and since we had had most of the night to rest decided to get an early start on our investigation.
Near enough to midday we came upon a strange scene. There were obvious tire tracks heading off of the path and into the high weeds. Further investigation found the charred remains of multiple wagons and as we looked around further found some very crudely constructed hunter’s perches in the trees on one side of the path. While we were debating who would climb up to investigate further an arrow whisked past us from deep in the brush behind the tree stands. Since it was clearly some sentient beings and not just some sort of beast we began preparations for the conflict to follow.
Shojin, and it bears a little explanation here, refused to kill. Maybe in the most dire of circumstances could he be persuaded to alter his moral compass on that, but in the time since we haven’t seen anything to sway him. Not that he wouldn’t allow the rest of us to do the deed. Only that he would not. The other peculiarity of my comrade would be discovered soon enough and it was more than a little disgusting. But for now, and as always, his answer was to mystify the opposition. Illusions and sounds, sleep and charm. That was his stock and trade. And he was awful at it most of the time. Like really bad.
His solution when it became clear we were dealing with some sort of humanoid was to make the biggest treasure chest you had ever set eyes on. Gold spilling out the top and littering the ground around it to the extent that his magics would allow him.
My solution was to pour oil on the ground directly underneath his illusion. If whatever it was did take the bait, I’d set their asses on fire. Z, just watched us prepare with a look of mild bemusement.
Out of the brush came four very angry goblins and I did the first thing that came to mind. I yell “treasure yours”. And very quickly our plan began to fall apart. Two of the four were taken with the illusion and two were not. One of the two that was not appeared to be the leader of the group and was gibbering something at the ones confounded by the illusion. What followed happened very quickly.
Z and I tried to deal with the two that were clear headed and Shojin went to his bag of tricks and tried to put them to sleep. He got three of the four. The one he didn’t was the leader who ran off into the brush. We dispatched the two that remained and woke the fourth for questioning. It turned out that Z spoke goblin from her time in the underground before she started her journey. The how and why of that was still unknown to me at the time.
To make the interrogation, something I did have a bit of experience with from my time in the organization, easier we built a fire and Shojin hand roasted one of the goblins over the fire while the fourth watched on helpless. He told us the runner was Jim, he was Tim, and the one Shojin was roasting was Tommy. When he refused to answer more questions Shojin started to eat his partially roasted comrade which sent him into hysterics. I calmly slapped him across the face to calm him down and continued my questioning. I asked Shojin to talk a walk while we finished up our questioning and he went off in pursuit of onions to stuff his meal with. It still turns my stomach to think of all the things that man was willing to eat.
After some additional smacks about the face the goblin let us know that Jim would have run back to camp. A camp overseen by “Billy”, who was the boss. Billy was apparently enamored of late with a “pretty lady” who had become his newest play thing. I have little patience for a damsel in distress personally, but that’s because I refused to allow myself to become one.
Timmy, I only ever think of him as that, and as our adventures went on I often think back to him and wonder if there was a way to have made what happened play out differently, said that Billy would be happy to trade the lady for him and so we set off as the sun began to set in the direction of his camp. Timmy restrained in straps from the burned out wagons and on a short leash leading the way.