Right, so here I am writing journal entries again. Far from home, in danger and wondering how I got here. I know exactly HOW I got here, I’m more wondering why this kind of thing happens in the first place. I know Dumora enjoyed my last series of journals so I shall keep this one in case she wants to read it. Hopefully this will be a short…mission, quest, jaunt? I don’t even know what to call this, so it is a pleasant journey. In the dead of winter. Chasing stinking, raiding Goblins across wild lands.
Did I mention I am not happy about this? Well here goes, about three days ago, I was happily snuggled up in my home. The wind was blowing, there was some snow on the ground and the sky was laden with the promise of much more. I was busily engaged in minor tasks such as nodding off, watching the children chase each other around the main room and giving Dumora’s bottom a surreptitious pinch when I thought I could escape her playful retribution.
Considering how chilly it was outside, the smell of wood smoke was ever present, but it seemed to be particularly thick today. The sounds of screaming and yelling however, were not normal. As soon as I heard it, I raced for my armor. Dumora was already shepherding the children into the back rooms and she had put on her chain shirt. I tossed her the small shield and sword she preferred and hefted my hammer before turning to head outside. Armor may protect you from much, but a bitter wind is not one of them, especially when you forget to put on the heavy padding underneath.
Being cold was the least of my worries it seemed. There were small parties of Goblins among the houses and buildings of Ravenhill. We haven’t quite built the fortress up to her old standard and many of the walls are still open. It seems that the Goblins among the houses were just there to pin us in place as their attacks were haphazard and mostly harassing. I could see behind this screening force, a mass of Goblins were either butchering or leading off most of our cattle. The idiots were also trying to burn the stone barns.
Most of the local lads and lasses of the fighting demeanor were coming out to join me having had time to gather their arms and armor. The goblin screening force did attempt to stop us. I stress the word attempt. From there, it was a running battle to catch and kill the rapidly scattering Goblin raiders. The brave were the first to die, then the stupid. After a brief discussion, many of us broke off into pursuit parties and chased the retreating Goblins. That’s where we started catching the greedy. Too caught up in trying to drive on the cattle as prizes, they were too slow to avoid us catching them. That left the smart ones.
We chased them as best we could but after nearly three days of near constant running, almost no rest and only the wounded Goblins to put out of their misery, a rest was in order. I had been running with my old friend Arafal when we both came to the conclusion this had become less of a chase and more of an exercise in tracking. I was pretty thankful we were near a rather new Inn when we came to that realization. The Stout Oak Tavern was only an hour or two away. Mind you, there seem to be no Oak trees within a days walk of this Tavern and the only other trees that are left around it are anything but stout. I guess it could be a Human planning for a generation or two in the future but who knows.
Arafal and I made good time for the Inn while I mulled over the recent events. Dumora had been thoughtful enough to throw me my travel pack when I ran back to tell her that we were setting off in pursuit. She realized as quickly as I had, that Goblins this far into civilized lands meant something was very wrong. The lands of Dale and the forces of King Bard should have stopped these runts long before they ever reached the Mountain so investigation was the order of the day. All of these things and more were running through my head when we finally entered the Stout Oak. My dear Dumora, you would be proud though. I distractedly remembered to dust off my cloak and kick most of the mud and snow off my boots before I entered the Tavern proper.
I was a little preoccupied so it came as a bit of a surprise to find a Hobbit, looking much like his father, hiding behind a bookshelf while spying on a party of two Humans, a Dwarf and another Hobbit who was telling a bawdy tale. It seemed that there was a lady bard watching Joller’s son, while he was watching the group and now that Arafal and I had entered the Tavern, they were all watching us. I quickly decided to worry about none of this as I spied a fire on the other side of the Tavern and quickly made my way over to it. When I glanced over my shoulder, I could see that most of them were still looking my way so I did what any self respecting, slowly thawing Dwarf would do. I let out a great fart and breathed a sigh of relief as the warmth of the fire loosened up my frozen limbs. I am sure I will get smacked for my poor manners when you read this my dear Dumora, but they were being nosy and I was in no mood for it.
I was in “good” company though as this spawned a few chuckles and a few attempts at competition. My front was finally warm enough so I turned around slowly feeling the cold drain from my body and a little bit of normalcy and relaxation settle in. Imagine my frustration when I saw Ferdinand, Joller’s son, pantomiming some long and convoluted story about how the party near me was bad people and had possibly stolen something. Also, I wasn’t sure but I think Ferdi needed to use the lavatory very badly, I may have misread his hand signals though. I did start listening into their conversation as something other than just background drone and quickly came to the conclusion that they were not the mercenaries they would have others believe, they sounded rather like bandits.
So it seemed this group had something of value to Ferdi and were no strangers to violence. It was a situation requiring tact, diplomacy and a deft touch. I could not have chosen a better person than angry Arafal, occasionally known by the epithet of “The Berserker.” Actually I didn’t choose him at all. After I whispered to him my suspicions, he walked over, sat down at their table and greeted them very cordially before punching one of the two humans in the face with his empty beer mug. I think my sigh was part exasperation and part readiness to get this over with.
As should probably be expected, pandemonium erupted. I had taken my helmet off so I bent down and set my mug of beer carefully down while I scooped up some ashes and embers from the hearth with my helmet. The Firebeard Dwarf was hastily pushing back from the table and preparing to join the fray when I tapped him on the shoulder. And yes, I’ve been thinking about this pun for quite some time but I “ashed” the Firebeard a question. He staggered back and fell, his beard smouldering and his face and eyes burning. I had just spotted Laera walking in through the door, with a look of surprise on her face when I was forced to duck a poorly aimed punch at my head and responded by swinging my helmet at the other Hobbit who was trying to race by to stab Arafal in the back. Who brings real weapons to a bar-fight?!
There was laughing, mostly from Arafal. There was crying, some from the Firebeard and some from the other Hobbit after Arafal literally threw one of his companions at him. There were many haymakers, southpaws, jabs and uppercuts thrown and I even managed to drop-kick the poor Firebeard senseless against a wall. The Innkeep was delightfully understanding and only asked that we help clean up which we did gladly. Arafal piled the knocked out and incapacitated in the corner near the fire “so they wouldn’t get cold” and I searched them for Ferdinand’s gem to no avail. I did, however, find a Goblin map on the bard lass whom Laera had knocked out. Apparently she was quite the vicious one. She had pulled two envenomed blades before Laera had disarmed her and Ferdi had picked them up and thrown them out of the Tavern.
So here I sit, days from home in a poorly named roadhouse, looking at a pile of bandits whom I will need information from when they wake up. I miss my family, I miss my home, I miss my chair and I strongly miss NOT chasing Goblins across wild country in the “about to get terrible” part of Winter. Thankfully enough, Arafal has just bought me another ale and there is stew on the way so I suppose it’s not all terrible.