“By Hogarth’s beard, they’re alive”
Garrett mused as he gazed across the span that once held what the goblins of Thistletop called a bridge.
“Guess you win that bet then, dontcha boy?”
Whiskey sat on his haunches and panted in self-satisfaction, knowing what come next. Garrett reached into his pack and quickly produced a leathery, salted and cured goblin ear.
“Only a hand of these left, time for some more curin’”
Garrett had collected plenty after sifting through the aftermath among the thistles and briars before the coast. He tossed the preserved ear above Whiskey’s snout as the young mastiff jumped happily to meet it.
Even at this distance, Garrett’s keen eyes could detect the visible exhaustion on the party abroad. They were covered in dirt, blood and viscous ichor. He wasn’t quite sure if they won, but at least they were all accounted for.
“Somethin’s not right about that”
Garrett had a tendency to let his mind speak aloud. He looked back down to his furry companion who tugged and tore at the dried goblin’s ear.
“How do you suppose they’ll get back across”
He hadn’t quite finished the thought when the small one began his eldritch ritual to bring fourth his foul minion. It was as ridiculous a sight as any he’d seen, watching the dwarves be carried in the maw of some extraplanar winged beast.
“That lad looks to be about as uncomfortable as a one-legged dwarf in an ass-kicking contest.”
He watched in quiet amusement as they began to cross the gap.
“Well, I suppose I should go and put their stuff back in their packs”
The party spared little time with words and seemed a bit hurried to get underway. Keeping the camp hidden was easy enough, with the stench of rotting goblin all about. The thick briars and thistles keep the buzzards at bay and the sheer cliff along the coastline acted as a natural defense. Garrett had led the horses near the thistle’s hidden entrance, close enough for cover without causing too much discomfort.
Some time was spent cleaning and dressing the many wounds they gained two days since. The pious one went about calling his gods of wine and merriment to aid in this respect as well. Garrett could tell they were leaving something unfinished, but he thought he best let that matter be. He was happy enough to have live customers, which hopefully meant good coin. He could tell their load was heftier than before they set out.
They broke camp soon enough and saddled up for the ride back to Sandpoint. Almost as soon Thistletop sank below the horizon to the rear, the wee little one began to squeak and squawk like a bird. Garrett spoke to birds on occasion; their minds were simple enough to understand. They mostly spoke about food and other birds. However, Garrett was having a hard time keeping up with the stories of goblin chiefs, hell dogs and a rage-twisted she-demon. He thought he heard something about a land octopod and a crab wearing a giant helmet too. Garrett’s concentration was compounded each time the pious one broke in with some bawdy lyric between his almost constant drinking. May as well make religion fun Garrett supposed. The ugly one grumbled mostly with the occasional need to make some complaint.
Garrett wanted to ask what the initial plan was in infiltration and assault but he knew he’d just draw either puzzled looks or a cacophony of argument among the three. It was clear there was no plan. How they survived without one was a miracle indeed.
Sandpoint was a few hours away with plenty of daylight to spare. He’d bet sure enough Mayor Deverin and the Sheriff would breathe a sigh of relief at the notion of clearing Thistletop, which meant opening the town’s coffers. Zantus might be interested to hear the stories of the tombs below the fort as well.
Still, Garrett couldn’t shake the feeling this little adventure was merely a prelude to something worse.
Preparation never hurt. Sure, Garrett could be accused to over-stocking supplies for the inevitable cataclysm or apocalypse. He didn’t mind the teasing from his brother or the other dwarves. No matter, if he was wrong then so be it, he’ll have extra food, supplies and weapons for his kin. If he was right, well then, preparation never hurt.