The four strangers sat around a small round table. The busy state of the tavern had forced them into each others company, who might otherwise have chosen to sit alone. Before long however Okidoki and Gladys found a hint of common ground in the psionic disciplines that they each used and with this serving to break the ice quickly moved on to chatting about less consequential things. Chenia however was having less of an easy time of it. Despite being naturally gregarious and something of a ‘people person’ she was finding it quite an effort trying to strike up a conversation with the taciturn Shifter that shared her side of the table. She tried pointing out the rather interesting old flag that was hanging behind the simple bar.
“It is said that that flag is the very one that the Red Hand carried in to battle when they laid siege to Brindol one hundred years ago” she said, faltering slightly when Thomas stared at her like she had suddenly grown an extra head. “It’s also said that the Diamond League themselves captured it from the General of the Red Hand. Although how it ended up in this dingy place is something of a mystery.”
Suddenly the gentle hubbub of the evening in the Antler and Thistle was shattered by the crack of the front door flying off its hinges to land between two of the nearest tables, raising startled cries from the nearby patrons. Four hobgoblins rush in to the bar, swords swinging as they come and swiftly cutting down the two bar patrons unlucky enough to be near the door and thus within easy reach.
“For Sinruth!” they cry, their heavily accented common difficult to understand, “For the Hand!”
Instantly the tavern descended into chaos. The various patrons of the establishment leaped to their feet and either rushed towards the back of the bar or towards the intruders to aid their fellows.
Of the group of strangers, Okidoki was the first to react. Tumbling catlike off the back of his chair he rushed towards the monstrous humanoids. Unfortunately having to dodge around a couple of panicked bar patrons and their table prevented him from fully reaching his target, so he crouched behind the table, waiting for a chance to spring out on the hobgoblins.
Mere moments behind Okidoki, Thomas leaped from his seat almost relieved at the interruption to the conversation. Swiftly he followed the gnome towards the hobgoblins. Rather than rush in to join the gnome in the tangle of patrons and table however, Thomas stopped, thinking back to his lessons with his Eladrin trainer.
“Remember that nature is your ally. If you evoke her correctly she will aid you in your travails”
Thomas concentrated for a moment and felt the unfamiliar rush of his Warden power pulsing through him. His eyes flashed and just for a moment he, and only he could see the spectral shape of a snarling panthers head above several of his foes, marking them as his targets.
Eagerly rushing in to battle Gladys unleashed her psionic power and swung at a hobgoblin, unfortunately failing to connect.
The Hobgoblins themselves however were applying themselves to their work with a will and two more bar patrons were swiftly cut down where they stood as more of the villainous creatures poured in through the door.
Meanwhile at the back of the bar Chania was exhorting the patrons to escape through the rear door of the bar. Many of the patrons immediately took her advice and there was a considerable rush towards the rear. A couple of patrons, deep in their cups ignored her in favour of yahooing and yelling advice at the fight and the small table of poker players in the furthest corner may possibly not even have heard her, so embroiled were they in a high stakes game with several coppers riding on the fall of the cards.
There followed several rounds of concerted missing on the part of the party which I will skip for brevity’s sake. The Hobgoblin’s Phalanx Soldier ability pushed their AC up to 19 which some dismal dice rolling made seem well out of reach. In fact given that more monsters were supposed to pour into the inn every turn I was beginning to fear a disaster. But then …
With a strange, almost strangled cry, Okidoki focussed all his power internally and released it through his limbs in a ferocious burst. This was the most advanced technique his master had trained him in and he had struggle long before becoming comfortable with it’s use. The force of the power welling up within him made his eye glow an icy blue and his limbs moved at a blur. Dashing suddenly back and forth along the line of goblinoid foes, Okidoki’s spear stabbed out repeatedly and in an astonishingly short time three hobgoblins and the goblin who had thrown the torch that started the merry blaze now burning on a table, lay dead.
Almost as if Okidoki’s sudden success spurred them on the rest of the group suddenly found themselves enjoying greater success, and before long all of the remaining Hobgoblins lay dead on the tavern floor with one goblin escaping out the front door in to the street.
The sudden death of a bunch of the Hobgoblins in the middle of the line, thus breaking up their Phalanx Soldier ability certainly didn’t hurt either.
The sudden silence as the clash of steel died away was only broken by the sound of one patron throwing mug after mug of ale to douse the burning table.
A small smattering of applause broke out from the bar patrons for the sudden and unexpected heroes who had sprung up in their midst to save their very lives.
However before the newborn heroes have time to even really begin to appreciate their victory a small boy, grubby as only urchins seem able to be appears in the doorway and yells out a word of warning that cuts through everybody present.