The Rise of the Maleficarum
Rested and refreshed, we met up with Benjamin, leader of the caravan bound for Arabelle, and we set out along the High Way with three wagons loaded with foodstuff. We decided to spread out, so it was that Kalin and Raikonen rode in the first wagon, Cas in the second, and Quinn and I in the third. We journeyed mostly without incident, although at one point we noticed a lone rider watching us from afar. He did not approach, and we soon passed him by. We passed a small group of travelers bound for Eveningstar, and we exchanged pleasantries.
As we neared the Crossroad and the end of our journey, Quinn alerted me to another rider, again, watching us from afar. At this point, we had reached the Neck, or the point where the King’s Woods came almost up to the edge of the High Way. On the rider’s signal, a group of filthy kobolds assaulted our caravan! Quinn showed that she had powers beyond those of simple observation. She summoned a tangle of vines that engulfed half the kobold forces. I heard the twang of bowstrings and knew that my companions had joined the battle. Calling upon the All-Father’s strength, I struck down one of the dog-faced vermin. When I looked up, I found that we were surrounded by a stinking pack of goblins and hobgoblins!
I could hear the thud of goblin crossbow bolts hitting our caravan wagons. The farmers were hunkered down in the wagons, rightly opting to stay out of our way. A group of the sniveling creatures were approaching from the rear, so I leapt off the back of the wagon and moved to engage them. One of the hobgoblins fell to my hammer, although I was surrounded by the scum. Quinn again surprised me, drawing a strange curved sword and slaying the last of the kobold forces. She and I moved to finish off the goblins, Quinn yelling at them in their own guttural language the entire time. It seemed as though we would carry the day, when my senses were rocked by a loud explosion and a blast of heat. Not knowing what happened, I prayed for the safety of my comrades.
I was relieved to see Cas charging to flank my enemies, but my relief was short-lived. Cas cried out that Kalin was down at the front of the caravan. Thinking that Cas and Quinn had things well in hand, I moved out to go to Kalin’s aid. To my horror, Quinn was cut down and Cas was now facing two angry goblins on his own. I reached Kalin and healed him by the grace of Moradin, just as Raikonen broke the enemy rank. Fearing the worst, I raced back to Quinn. I couldn’t believe that she was still alive after the wound she had taken. I tended her injuries and again called on Moradin’s grace to heal her wounds.
The battle ended, we found that one of our wagons had been completely destroyed in the mysterious blast and several of the farmers had been slain. We pressed on for the Crossroads, and reached it without further incident. The next morning, Purple Dragons from Arabelle met us and continued on with the convoy. The captain leading their group suggested that we’d be well rewarded if we found the leader of these ambushes and brought a stop to the assaults.
After camping at the Crossroads, we opted to retrace our path to the ambush site and try to track the horseman we had seen just prior to the attack. Raikonen tracked the horseman’s path to a clearing where he said the enemy had mustered before splitting off to get into position for their assault. He and Quinn decided to scout ahead and try to trace the path back to the raiders’ lair. While Cas, Kalin and I waited for them to return, I asked for an account of what had caused the explosion that destroyed so much of the caravan. Cas explained to me that he had called upon the power of a magic necklace that he was given, despite the fact that he had no idea how it worked or what it was supposed to do. I’m amazed the lad has lived this long. After a good half-hour, there was no sign of Raikonen and Quinn. My companions and I were starting to grow concerned…