The Dragon's Hoard
[Saturday, June 20, 1998]
Griflet's Report: Greed and gold and blood; all mixed as usual.
THE DRAGON-HOARD EXPEDITION - Lizard (8th), Seed Moon, Year of the Gorgon
CORINTH OF HOUSE PROTECTOR did not react favourably to your proposal that he visit the elves of Imric's Hold. They were fools to remain there. They knew of the dangers. House Protector serves the People. The People are here. Here we remain.
GORIANTHAS agrees: That's right Griflet, recovering the Dragon's Hoard is the most important thing. I want you and Corinth to organise an expedition to recover the Hoard. Take whatever supplies you need and leave as soon as you are ready.
When Gorianthas has left, you and Corinth stand in the hut eyeing each other thoughtfully. In spite of the chequered history you have with House Protector, you think that you can trust this dour elf.
It will be dangerous. says Corinth. We must prepare our warriors. With that, he walks out of the hut.
MOVING OUT - Twilight, Hornet (10th), Seed Moon, Year of the Gorgon
A train of wagons and pack horses moves slowly out of the Elven compound at dusk, guarded by a contingent of House Protector warriors. You are already far ahead down the woodland trail, with a group of silent, hand-picked scouts and warriors from House Protector. Corinth rides with the main body of the troops and the baggage train. Corinth has insisted on bringing quite a large contingent of troops - about seventy-five. He seems almost certain that there will be conflict with the Beastmen. You hope that he is wrong.
Your scouting skills and your growing knowledge of this wild area allow you to avoid most encounters with Beastmen. Nine days pass without incident. You almost can't believe your luck. Then, it starts to run out.
THE BATTLE OF WOSH FALLS - Dawn, Toad (20th), Seed Moon, Year of the Gorgon
Two days out from Bloodbane's cave, near the source of the river Wosh, you spot a very large contingent of Beastmen headed directly for your forces. They've spotted the wagons and they outnumber your forces three to one. Because of the river and the slow speed of the wagons, it is impossible to avoid them. Riding swiftly back to the baggage train, you inform Corinth and quickly work out a battle plan. Although you cannot avoid this engagement, your scouting skills have bought you some time to at least choose the battle-ground.
In dawn's grey light, the Beastmen hordes are upon you, scores of black forms lumbering out from the surrounding trees. The forest echoes with grunts, screams, the clinking of metal on metal, the clipped, precise chirps of House Protector battle-language, the thunk of arrow-shafts burying themselves in furry flesh.
When it is over, Beastman corpses lie scattered around in the morning sunlight. House Protector has acquitted itself well. Every Beastman in the attacking force was slaughtered, but thirteen Elven warriors also fell in battle: Berith, Ilthias, Calianthas, Jiril, Brion Oakbow, Polithios, Symra, Melitas, Cithor, Mathas the Mocker, Imhil, Tiriel and Kirath. These casualties will be mourned, but it could have been much worse.
On some of the fallen Beastmen were sacks of treasure which you suspect came from the cave. The leader Beastman wore a black iron helmet of Quarmallian design.
After the battle, the troops move out again. No time to waste says Corinth.
RETURN TO BLOODBANE'S CAVE - Swan (22nd), Seed Moon, Year of the Gorgon
You pass the burnt forest where Bloodbane and Mysteriones met their ends and enter the clearing with the great rock which housed the Dragon. Sure enough, the tracks of the Beastmen you fought lead straight into the mouth of the great cave. There are other Beastman tracks around, but no living thing to be seen. Peering into the cave, you spot the large pile of treasure, possibly a little smaller than last time you were here. You give the all clear and the troops move in and start loading the wagons with treasure.
Within a few hours, the job is done, and the wagons are ready to move out again. You have been keeping keen watch, but there has been no sign of any activity in the woods around. Now for the trip home.
A SKIRMISH IN THE WOODS - Shrew (24th), Seed Moon, Year of the Gorgon
On the way home, your force encounters a small number of Beastmen, apparently of the same tribe or group as the first. The savages throw themselves at your troops, but Corinth and his elves defeat them in a short, bloody skirmish.
THE BORDER-WATCH - Newt (4th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon
You catch sight of movement in the trees ahead. It has been a long night's march, and your hand flicks to your bow. Then you relax slightly; it's a group of Vardin's Rangers.
Hail Griflet, elves, say the humans. The elven scouts beside you stand silently, but you can sense their contempt. There is some tension still between the elves and humans. You'd heard about it, but this is the first time you've experienced it first-hand.
Lord Vardin would speak with you, Griflet. If you have time, that is, says one of the rangers.
You know that you are out of the danger-zone of the Wild Wold by now; you order your scouts to continue to the Elven compound, where you will join them later.
Two grey-cloaked Rangers escort you to Vardin's camouflaged dugout beneath the forest floor. Vardin is sitting by the fire, whose smoke is ingeniously vented so that it does not give away the hideout's position. Vardin rises as you enter and offers his hand.
Ah, Griflet. Thank you for coming. Some wine? I trust your expedition was successful? Take a seat, please. Leave us. The two rangers leave you alone. Griflet, I understand you have recovered a considerable treasure from the Dragon's lair. I commend you for your bravery. I wonder if you could spare a consideration for my rangers. I am not a greedy man. Here we live simply, as you see. But weapons and armour and food cost money, and the stipend I receive from Lorn Velpa is small and often grudgingly given. Even after the Battle of Twixwater Meadows, how little they appreciate the work we do! Accomodating your people has also put a considerable strain on my resources. So Griflet, in return can you spare some of your new fortune to help me and my Rangers?