‘We can take ‘em,’ Grub hissed.
Morgrim and Cerseia quickly shushed him and he fell silent. Eagerly, they all watched from their hiding place as the group of enemies came closer. As the kobolds rounded the bend and came opposite them, Morgrim had to grab Grub to stop him storming forward. He pressed his hand over the other dwarf’s mouth as Grub went to argue.
‘Come on! Move! We’ve not got all day!’ the bullywug spit and cracked his whip over the heads of the kobolds, whom shrink away then hurried forward.
Morgrim shook his head and Grub growled. The bullywug and troll passed them and the whole group walked up to the stone doorway. Loudly threating the kobolds still, the bullywug yanked the troll to a stop and instructed it to open the door.
As the company watched though, a kobold rushed at the bullywug and began beating its small hands all over him. The large frog easily picked up the dragon lizard and laughing in its face, turned to the troll.
‘Kill him,’ the bullywug command.
The troll looked at him dumbly, twirling the wooden club it held in his right hand around.
‘Did you hear me? Kill!’ the bullywug yelled and threw the kobold at the troll’s feet.
The troll looked down still confused, ‘crush?’ a slow booming voice formed one of the only words the troll’s brain know how to say.
‘Yes, Yes! Crush!’
The troll shook himself, lifted his left foot and brought it down on the kobold. The creature screamed, calling out for mercy then fall silent as splattering and crunching noises echoed into the night. The troll moved his foot again and kicked the flattered body into the nearest stagnate pool, which claimed the victim hungrily.
‘Well done! Good boy, Grunter,’ the bullywug praised and turned back to the other kobolds, ‘you want some of that then? Get back to work!’
They scuttled around the door and began clawing at the stones.
‘Go on,’ the bullywug urged the troll and with lumbering steps the creature stomped over and began pulling at the door alongside the kobolds.
Now, guessing they were out of ear shot and preoccupied, Morgrim turned to Cerseia.
‘Can you cast that void again?’ he asked.
She shook her head, ‘I used it up back at the warehouse. I can create a fireball though.’
‘Let’s just charge ‘em,’ Grub argued.
‘No. We need to element of surprise right now,’ Morgrim explained, ‘Konniana, if Cerseia and I cast fire at the kobolds can you shoot arrows at the bullywug?’
‘Yes,’ Konniana’s voice whispered back from the tree top.
‘What shall we do? We have nothing long range,’ Katliana pointed out about herself and Grub, feeling the urge to fight growing.
‘After we have distracted the others, charge the troll and try to take him down. We’ll come and help you once we’ve killed the others,’ Morgrim commanded.
‘Don’t worry. I can take it on myself,’ Grub declared, hefting his warhammer.
‘Are you ready?’ Cerseia chimed in.
Morgrim nodded and at once they both casted their own fire. For Cerseia it was a bright burning orange fireball and for Morgrim a lighter flame of divine power. Cerseia went first and threw her fire towards the kobolds, however the bullywug stepped in front of them and the fireball clipped his shoulder and dropped sizzling out onto the floor. The large frog humanoid turned eyes straight to where they were hiding.
Morgrim quickly followed up Cerseia’s attack, but the bullywug was on guard and easily ducked the scared flame. It sailed over his head and into what should have been a least one kobold, but they had already scattered due to the fireball.
‘We are under attack!’ screamed the bullywug and cracked his whip across the air.
‘Forget this!’ Grub yelled and charged out of the trees straight for the troll.
Katliana chased after him, pulling her great sword out as she did so. She easily over took the short dwarf and parried the troll’s club blow that had been aimed at Grub’s head. An arrow shoot from her sister’s bow whistled past her and straight into the stomach of the Bullywug.
The frog let out a croaking scream, but still turned to command the kobolds into action. Only four were brave enough to come forward though. The other three remind behind, trying desperately to press themselves into any shadows, which seemed to be slowly disappearing in the coming dawn’s light. As the four kobolds assembled and clutched un-sharpened daggers, a fireball crashed down in-between them.
The smell of burnt scaly skin filled the air and dying screams tumbled across the marshland. One luckily kobold had escaped pretty much unharmed and he darted back to his friends. Of the others, two were dead and the third was too badly wounded to get up. On seeing this, the bullywug charged at Katliana. With a roar, he flicked the whip at her and she dodged and dived around Grub, who had become locked in battle with the troll.
An arrow whizzed passed them and buried itself deep into the bullywug’s head. Blood dropped down the creature’s frog face and the whip went loose in the webbed hand. The bullywug choked and fell backwards, landing dead and sprawled out along the pathway.
Catching her breath, Katliana turned to thank her sister, but could no longer see her in the tree. However, on the pathway, she saw Morgrim’s shield light up and he, Cerseia and Konniana rushing over to help them. She turned back to the troll and saw that Grub was struggling against the creature which was easily five times taller than he was. However, that did seem to be putting the dwarf off, only making him more determined.
The troll had no idea that his master was gone and was solely focused on crushing the figures gathering around his feet. With a mighty swing of his weapon, he knocked the dwarf over and flung the club back again to catch the dragonborn. Though, she was faster and ducked under via a roll, which caused her to stop close to the dwarf.
Grub had landed on his back and was groaning in pain. Katliana caught him as he tried to get up and dragged him backwards out of the way as the club parted the air above their heads. She slipped on top of him, causing him to cry out and start struggling to sit up as they both detangled themselves from each other.
By this time the others had reached the troll. Distracted by new things to crush, he turned his attention away and took a swipe at Cerseia. She nimbly dodged the blow and sliced her sword into the troll’s knee, whilst Konniana shot an arrow into his shoulder. He howled in pain as Morgrim stepped forward, leaving his shield and warhammer on the ground as he charged up a spell between his hands.
Enraged, the troll took a strike at Cerseia and missed again as she darted behind him. Unexpectedly, he then threw his club the other way and clipped Konniana on the shoulder. With a roar, she dropped her crossbow, drew her long sword and rushing forward stuck the blade between the troll’s legs. His eyes rolled down at her in shock and his whole body started shaking.
Cerseia sliced the backs of the troll’s knees and hurriedly moved out of the way. She darted back to Morgrim’s side, ready to protect the cleric if the troll came at them again and he no time to fire off his spell. Konniana whipped out her sword and shuffled backwards, her eyes darted across to her sister and she saw Katliana pulling Grub to his feet and them hurrying to join in again.
The troll let out a loud groan and dropped backwards. The air swooshed around him and he hit the ground hard, crushing the bullywug and the barely-alive third kobold under him. The chest heaved a last breath, then fell still.
Konniana climbed on top of him and poked his face with the tip of her sword just be sure he was really dead.
‘Are you injured? Morgrim’s voice called from behind her and she twisted to see him talking to Grub. The other dwarf shook his head and Morgrim’s eyes went to everyone else in turn, ‘is anyone hurt?’
More head shakes answered his question.
‘What are we going to do with them?’ Katliana called and pointed her sword at the remaining kobolds who were still trying to hide in the shadows cast by the wall.
‘Kill them!’ Grub half-shouted and began to stomp his way over.
The others quickly followed and Morgrim fought his way to the front. The kobolds half-turned to them before gathering to chatter amongst themselves. Cerseia conjured a fireball, but Morgrim caught her hand as a single unarmed kobold crept over to them.
‘N-n-no kills-s,’ the kobold stuttered with a forked lizard tongue.
‘Why should we let you live?’ Morgrim called over.
‘You-s kills-s bull-y-wug. He enslaved us-s, we does-s bidding-s. We nots harms you-s.’
‘I do not trust him,’ Cerseia said in a low voice.
Morgrim glanced at the others, but they seemed just as intrigued by the kobold as he was.
‘What do you want?’ he asked.
‘Our-r lands-s backs,’ the kobold lisped, ‘Marsh-y ours-s!’
‘What did the bullywug want with the stolen treasure?’ Konniana asked harshly.
The kobold put his head to one side then half looked back at his three friends and the doorway. He seemed not have understood the question.
‘Where are you taking the crates to?’ Morgrim re-put the questions.
‘Oh! The s-shin-y s-shin-y-s!’ the kobold squealed, ‘to the castle! To the castle they goes!’
‘Castle?’ Cerseia repeated slowly.
‘Why?’ Morgrim pressed.
‘The dark-s wiz-ard,’ the kobold shivered, ‘he make-s us-s alls. Enslave whole tribe. Take-s our-s marsh-y!’
‘So, you were right,’ Katliana cut in disappointedly and casting her head down, ‘someone else was been behind all of this the whole time.’
‘Can you take us to the castle?’ Morgrim asked the kobold, ignoring her for the moment.
The kobold’s eyes considered the dwarf as the kobold’s head slipped to the side once more. He seemed in thought for a few moments and then asked, ‘you-s goings to kill dark-s wiz-ard? Deads?’
Morgrim nodded, ‘yes, we are going to kill him. If you help us, we will set your tribe free and give you your land back, including the castle.’
‘No castle-s doesn’t wants-s,’ the kobold spit, ‘marsh-y only. Lands-s!’
‘Deal,’ Morgrim called over and he walked over to the kobold with his hand out. He thought he heard the females gasping and Grub ready his warhammer.
The kobold touched his hand with its own scaly clawed fingers and rushed back to jabber with his friends. Morgrim watched them, satisfied that the kobold was relaying the exchange between them. He was aware of Cerseia coming to side, but before she could voice her questions, Morgrim called over to the kobolds, turned around and set off walking down the crudely made log pathway. The chattering kobolds swarmed after him, then passed him and began to lead the way. Morgrim’s companions fell into place behind him, eyeing the kobolds warily and whispering amongst themselves. Morgrim smiled and felt his old friend victory creeping into his head. Soon they would fulfill their quest.
To Be Continued…