By David Pontier
When Goblins Attack is the property of the author, David Pontier and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email David with any comments and feedback on When Goblins Attack and visit his website at: http://www.geocities.com/piqsid/stories.html.
Chapter 8: The Rescue
The four goblins that led John into Elliorn's cavern stopped short when they saw the two dead guards. They argued among themselves, but did not seem too concerned about it. One of them picked up the keys, and they led John over to Elliorn.
Unlike "Regis," Elliorn saw that John was conscious. Regis had been small enough to carry in, but John was not. Even though he was shackled, he still should have been able to handle four goblins. Elliorn looked closer and saw that John was beat. She was not sure how he had escaped the first attack a few days ago, but in order to get back to Garrilport and then here again in the time that had passed, she was guessing he did not get much sleep.
As the goblins approached, she formed a plan and spoke to them in their own language. "The other prisoner has escaped and killed those guards," she said harshly. "Kron will be very upset with you!"
The goblins looked at her in bewilderment. How did this simple woman know their language?
"I am not a prisoner," she replied to their puzzled faces. "I work for Kron. He has ordered me to watch over you. I will report that you have failed."
"No, no, no, we not fail," one of them squeaked. "The other one has not escaped. We have captured him aga-" the floor came alive and zapped the goblin where he stood.
"You lie!" Elliorn cried, making it look like she had brought forth the lightening. "You do not honor or respect Kron. Give your allegiance now!"
The other three goblins looked at their partner as he writhed in pain on the floor. They all fell to their knees. "We honor Kron. We respect Kron." With each litany of devotion, the ward on the floor lashed out at them. Kron's last sprinkling of activation powder had been a generous one and there was plenty of lightening to go around.
John just watched dumbfounded. "Do not just stand there," she cried at him, now in the common tongue. "Get the one with the keys."
John did as he was told, picking up the squirming creature as it called out for mercy. He pinned it against the wall with his shackled hands, the chain between his wrists strangling the goblin. It squirmed for a while, but John added pressure and the goblin went limp.
Behind him, one of the other goblins was dead, and the remaining two were terror stricken. The truth ward was spent, but it had done its purpose. "Leave!" Elliorn shouted, once again in the goblin tongue. "Leave and hope I do not report your unfaithfulness to our master."
The goblins bowed repeatedly and limped away, their muscles still spasming from the electric shocks. "What was that about?" John asked as he crouched to release Elliorn with the keys.
"Never mind that," she replied. "How are you feeling?"
"Never better," John grinned. "I do this kind of thing all the time."
"Your partner was here," Elliorn said casually, trying to catch John off guard.
"Yea," she replied. "The guy you brought from town."
"Oh, Art . . .thur," he said, catching himself at the last second.
"Yea," John agreed, happily she had apparently not noticed his slip up. She had. "Where is he?"
"He let himself out," she said, "though he did not invite me along."
"Just a few moments before you came in," Elliorn answered. "He is not too far ahead. If he runs into anymore goblins he might need help."
Elliorn and John moved slowly out of the room. Elliorn wanted to move quickly, but John was not able to. The first room they came to was the weapon room. Unlike Entreri, Elliorn walked up quickly behind the stationary goblin. She crossed the room in four long steps and grabbed the creature from behind, twisting its head in a quick motion to break its neck. It broke - clean off. Elliorn took a stunned step backwards holding the frozen head. She did not hold it long, dropping it to the floor. It broke into several pieces.
The frozen statue had thawed a bit since Entreri had pulled his sword free, so the head did not shatter. Elliorn walked around the still standing body, noticing the position of the hands. She gave it a little shove. It rocked backwards and broke apart on the floor.
Elliorn turned to look at John who eyed the frozen goblin curiously. "Have you ever seen anything like that?" she asked.
"No," John replied unconvincingly.
Elliorn wished she still had the truth ward at her disposal, but she would not press John right now. She had her hunches, and if she was right, she would find more evidence soon enough. Right now she turned to look at the weapons. She picked hers out and was happy to find her pack as well. She fished through her bag and pulled out two vials of blue liquid.
"John," she called to get his attention, "drink this." She set one of the vials on the table next to his sword.
John picked up the vial and undid the stopper. The liquid smelled sweet, and he drank it quickly. The effect was immediate. Strength returned to his limbs with as much force as Entreri's dagger had recharged him earlier. He could feel that this was permanent. He watched as Elliorn drank half of the second vial and then gave him the rest. He downed it as well and then picked up his sword. It had never felt lighter.
"Let's find some goblins," he said, the fire back in his eyes and voice. The pair continued down the next hall and did exactly that. Unfortunately for John, they were all already dead. John was stunned at the carnage. "Have you ever seen anything like this?" It was his turn to ask the question.
Elliorn chose not to lie. "Yes, once, and only once." She thought of the bodies she had examined in Karenstoch. She tried to keep her mind on the present task at hand, but as she looked at the wounds, she could not help but think of Entreri. Saber, dagger, saber, saber, dagger, dagger, saber. With each saber slash, the wound was seared shut with a telltale line of frost.
"Your friend Arthur is quite handy. Interesting sword too."
"You think he did this?" John asked.
"Who else? He had to have come this way. Who is he?"
"Like I said before we left town, I don't really know." And as John looked at the torn bodies of the goblins around him, he had to admit that he really did not.
Elliorn saw the bunkroom off to the side and was not surprised to find them all sleeping. There had probably been quiet a ruckus when Regis/Arthur had cleaned out this room, but Elliorn saw yet another ward by the entrance to the door that would have deadened the noise. They wanted their slaves well rested to work.
"We will leave them for now," Elliorn said. "We need to get the rest of the slaves out of here and to safety before Arthur stirs up too much trouble elsewhere."
John nodded and followed Elliorn out of the room. She went through the corridor that went down. She knew where the slaves were working. The heat rolling up from the smelting room was intense. Elliorn paused before going around the last turn that would bring them into the room. Quietly she laid out the floor plan as best she could and stressed certain strategies.
"It is a fairly long corridor down to where the rest of the slaves are digging and they will not likely hear anything that goes on up here. I will try to make sure none of the goblins escape down the corridor. You try to protect the women and kill as many goblins as you can. We can not let any escape through this entrance either or they might kill the slaves back in the bunkroom."
John nodded slowly after each point, letting Elliorn know he understood. "Let's go," he said anxiously when she was done. They both ran around the corner. Elliorn stopped short and pulled out her bow while John charged in with his sword. They definitely had the element of surprise on their side. Plus, the room was so full of melting pots and anvil stations, that each area was blocked from view from most of the others. This meant it was difficult for all the goblins to know what was going on.
The ones directing the women pushing carts were the first to go. There were four goblins with whips standing at the mouth of the corridor down to the mining area, but four quick snaps of Elliorn's bow ensured that none of them would ever crack a whip again. There were about four other goblins working to usher the carts through the receiving area where the contents were dumped into troughs and separated. Elliorn quickly put those goblins down as well, and then flung her bow into a vacant corner of the room before she exhausted her supply of arrows. She could collect them later.
She pulled her staff off her back and stepped past the flow of carts to meet two more goblins that had noticed her intrusion. She dispatched them quickly. She then turned to the frightened women. She picked the strongest one and told her to wait by the end of the corridor and instruct the rest of the women to go up the other tunnel and wait in the bunkroom. The ranger found a set of keys on one of the dead goblins and let the women release themselves. She then went hunting for more goblins.
John had taken a different route. He ran away from the other corridor and used the dumping area for cover as he followed the flow of heat to the main part of the room. There were five goblins working one of the fires, all with their backs turned to him. With one sweep of his sword, each of the goblins was now feeding the fire more directly. There were fifteen other goblins working the three remaining melting pits, and they all rushed him. Some held swords and others chose to wield red-hot pokers.
John braced himself for their attack, but they did not rush in like so many in the past had done. Instead, they slowly started to surround him. John tried to disrupt their efforts by leaping at them with his sword leading, but they were too composed and confident to fall for his wild antics. Instead they backed away and continued to surround him.
John did not let the trap close on him, and bolted between two of the fire pits. He saw this was a mistake when the goblins split into three groups to circle around the two pits and stay behind him. In a second he would be pinned against the far wall with goblins on every side. He looked above him and saw a low pulley system that was used to carry buckets of coal from one side of the cavern to the other.
John turned about suddenly, swinging his sword, not at the goblins, but at the two release levers on either side of the huge melting pots. As the cauldrons lost their stability and began to tip, John leaped up and grabbed a hold of one of the buckets on the pulley, praying it would support his weight. It did and he swung over the collected mass of goblins just as the molten metal poured down all around them.
The poor goblins could not even cry out before there were consumed, their bodies evaporating from the intense heat. John continued to swing past the remaining two melting pits and let go in the middle of four confused goblins. Their confusion only lasted as long as their lives, which did not last long either.
He saw another goblin running away from him, and he gave chase. The goblin rounded a blind corner, and then cried out. John slowed when he got to the corner, and met Elliorn coming around hard. She stopped when she saw John. "Clear from your end?"
John was panting heavily, his face flush from the heat. "Clear," he nodded.
"Good," she replied. "We need to go down below before they get curious as to why none of their carts are returning."
John followed her again as she led him down the second tunnel. Again she paused before the entered. "There will be two giants in this next room. If you keep the goblins off me, I will take care of the giants, or at least bring them down so you can handle them easily."
"How?" John asked.
Elliorn had retrieved her bow as well as most of her arrows. She hoisted her bow up in front of her. "They are the biggest targets I've ever seen."
"Right," John agreed, "let's do this."
There were not as many goblins in this cavern, but they had already grown suspicious as to the disappearances of their carts and had all huddled around the exit to the tunnel. John came through first, his two-handed sword swinging wildly in front of him. The goblins scattered backwards and Elliorn moved in behind John. The two stone giants saw what was going on and move to engage the two invaders.
Elliorn worked her bow calmly as John tore into the goblins around her. Her first shot took the lead giant in the eye. He cried out and her second and third arrows found the inside of his mouth. A stone giant's jugular was as big as a human leg, and the best access was through the inside of the throat. Both of her second and third arrows struck their intended veins on either side of the giant's mouth and the huge creature went down in pain, blood pouring out of its mouth.
The second giant watched in horror as his partner fell to the ground and as the ranger's deadly bow was turned on him. He futilely tried to cover himself up with his hands and arms, protecting most of his face. Elliorn thanked him by placing two well-aimed shots in his crotch. He doubled over quickly, his hands falling away from his face and giving Elliorn a more deadly target. Maybe not as fun, but more deadly. She had been clubbed by two of these giants, and since she did not know which they were, she would just have to take her anger out on all of them.
After she had put five arrows in the second giant's face, she put her bow aside and pulled her sword. John was too close for her to use her staff effectively. John had already cleared away most of the goblin fodder. They had the high ground and it was easily defended with a sword as long as most of the goblins were tall. Elliorn helped him put away the remaining goblins and then moved down to get rid of the giants.
When John and Elliorn got down to the giants, the huge creatures were barely recognizable. Unlike before when Elliorn had made her attacks, this time the men slaves decided to help. They had gone to work on the giants' heads with their pickaxes. All that was left when Elliorn and John got there was a bloody mess.
"It's about time you came for us," one of the men said to John. He was one of the guards that had survived.
John was happy to see that not all of his men had perished. "You're welcome," John said, embracing the man and several others he recognized. "We need to get you guys out of here." They took yet another set of keys off one of the goblins and hurried back up the two corridors to the bunkroom.
Everyone was awake by now and John took charge. He led them all to the weapon room, and his guards rearmed themselves. He was about to lead them all out of the caverns when he noticed Elliorn was not with them. He gave two of his most trusted men orders to lead the group of former slaves out of the caves and back to the town as quickly as possible. He would be along behind them.
John ran back down the tunnel to the cavern with the dead goblins just outside of the bunkroom. Elliorn was there standing in front of the tunnel they did not take. It was the tunnel that led up. "This is the way that Arthur, or whatever his name is, went," she said once she heard John enter. She turned to look at him. "Also there are at least two more giants in here somewhere and there has to be more goblins than what we came across."
John motioned toward the tunnel. "Lead on."
The two moved quickly down the tunnel and soon came upon the steps down. They moved more slowly now, seeing that the end of the steps led to another open cavern. Elliorn would not have seen the wards if it were not for the numerous scorch marks covering the walls at the bottom of the staircase. Carefully she and John worked their way around them. The fact that half of them had already been set off made it easier. That fact also let both of them know that Entreri had been through here as well. Not seeing a body on the steps, they had to assume he made it to face whatever waited for him in the next room.
John made it to the last step first and walked the short landing into the next room. He could not believe what he saw. Elliorn walked up behind him and froze as well. "Ehlonna have mercy," she breathed.
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