"…well it's not that they're good, mostly they're indifferent unless there's an imbalance. But sacrificing children is an imbalance! So while they normally don't care, this time they're on your side!" — Ron
In which our heroes discover that the mob is fickle; Barbara makes some friends; the town of Caer prepares for battle; an epic duel is fought; a foe is slain and the goblinoid threat is dealt with.
Our heroes were met with a frosty reception when they arrived into Caer. Not only had the goblin attacks been renewed with greater vigour since the attack on the barrow, but one of the rescued "prisoners" was actually a hag, who caused great trouble in the town before disappearing, leaving the party in a rather unfavourable light. On top of this, another adventuring party had returned victorious from their quest and rescued Randall to boot, earning them high esteem in the now beleaguered citizens of Caer. The townsfolk themselves were making preparations to flee the village as soon as possible, for the most part: Ben Fogarty was the first, leaving after a brief discussion with the party about the fate of the village.
Without leadership and with the dark closing in fast, it was apparent that any attempt to leave before dawn would result in slaughter on the open road: despite this, many of the folk were still trying to leave. Our heroes set about rallying defenses: organising the evacuation, bolstering up the militia and attempting to recruit more, with mixed results. When Latro's reinforcements arrived that evening in the form of 24 heavily armed centaurs, it was time to plan the battle.
It was decided that the courtyard of the inn was the most defensible position large enough to house all those who couldn't or wouldn't fight. Barricades were erected to block up entranceways, including a mobile barricade on a cart. Fire teams were organised, archers were positioned on rooftops and towers and a field of torches was arrayed in front of the walls. As dark fell, a hush grew over the town as the battle loomed before them…
It didn't take long for their foe to make an appearance. A veritable horde of goblins, bugbears and hobgoblins, some 500 strong to Caer's bare 100 capable defenders and 250 refugees. At the head of the column marched a familiar figure… Grazz the Ravager. Grazz stood unusually tall and stocky for a goblin, with signs of Orcish ancestry. He was clothed in crude goblin rags and charms, and covered with warpaint. He approached the gate where Barbara was standing guard with his hobgoblin commanders and demanded a surrender of the town, with all inside being taken as slaves. Needless to say this wasn't taken well, and Barbara challenged him to a duel for the town.
An epic battle ensued, and while Barbara's tenacity and strength was brought to bear on the half-goblin, it was matched and exceeded by the sheer ferocity of Grazz's attacks and he struck her down as he had with so many others. However, all was not yet lost: when it became apparent that Barbara might lose the duel, Ron sent his familiar to signal the centaurs to charge, and Randall with them. They arrived just as Barbara was felled but before Grazz could strike a fatal blow, and Randall launched himself in a burst of flame at Grazz while Aliah attended to Barbara's wounds. In the brief fight that ensued Grazz found himself out numbered and outmatched… and his attendants did nothing as their leader was struck down, his head impaled on Barbara's sword.
The hobgoblins immediately retreated to their army, eager to be the first to fill the power vacuum left by Grazz's demise. in the hours that followed fighting broke out amongst the various factions of goblins within the horde before they broke up and routed entirely in the small hours of the morning, separated into small bands and tribes once more. Dawn came to a town miraculously unscathed, as not a single life was lost in the routing of the vast army. Yet the threat of a greater doom still lies a few days to the west in the forest, and Latro's summons grow more urgent by the hour…