Going in Blind
On a cold morning, five adventurers answered the call of the Antiacus militia, all in the hopes of being able to bring back some good food and perhaps even some coin to their respective burdens. The coming winter would be a harsh one leaving folk like these little to no choice but to take any job they might find, regardless of what kind of dangers the task may entail. And so, our adventurers, the cleric, the barbarian, the ranger, the monk and finally the rogue found themselves stuck together, tasked with delivering a carriage to and collecting taxes from a neighboring village while stopping by a small military outpost on the way to deliver some supplies. What might at first have seemed like a normal task quickly grew more peculiar. The carriage more resembled a giant armored lockbox than a vehicle and the adventurers were informed that they would need to sit in a second carriage chained behind the first, blindfolded for the first part of the journey. Removing the blindfold at any time during this period would result in all of them forfeiting their right to a promised mysterious bonus. Not having been given much choice, our adventurers huddled together in the posterior carriage, and having been deprived of their vision, decided to pass the time with some polite conversation.
Eventually the carriage train came to a stop and the time had come to remove the blindfolds. Our adventurers found themselves on a road in the forest and went about preparing to take the journey ahead of them. The carriage driver who had previously held the reins was now gone and it was up to them to deliver the carriage the rest of the way. Just before they set out once again, suddenly a loud roar could be heard from far above. However, whatever creature had caused the sound, did not seem terribly interested in them since it quickly receded. After briefly changing soiled small clothes, the train started moving along the path towards the outpost. The hours went by and soon they passed what appeared to be a deserted ghost town. Run down houses and empty streets was all that was left of this village, or so it seemed. A very unsettling feeling struck the adventurers. The feeling of being watched. As the train was moving past the village, frightening faces and shapes started appearing in every window and doorway. In their haste to get away from this place, the carriage train accidentally drove off the road into the forest and nearly flipped over. Fortunately, luck was on the side of the adventurers and they somehow managed to regain control over the panicking horses steering them back towards the road, all without anyone falling out of the carriage or crashing into any trees.
Leaving that terror behind them, the adventurers could not seem to shake the feeling of something watching them. They had little choice however but to press on towards the outpost, and so they did, casting several worried glances in every conceivable direction. At dusk they arrived at the outpost and found a camp suitable for a few dozen soldiers inhabited only by two men, a woman and a baby merely months old. It was clear that the outpost had faced several attacks and raids by the hobgoblins that roamed these parts. The seemingly hopeless situation of the few remaining militia, tasked with defending the fort and taking care of a small child out here in the wilderness elicited very different reactions from our adventurers. Some were struck with pity for the poor souls and offered some of their own rations and supplies. Others were not as empathetic and suggested that the baby should be killed to lighten the burden. Some heated arguments were had and eventually as night fell, everyone went to sleep while taking turns to keep watch.
The next morning they set off once more, this time towards the neighboring village to deliver this strange carriage and collect the taxes. So far everyone had been able to not let their curiosity get the better of them and had not made any attempts to open the armored carriage. Unbeknownst to the adventurers, merely hours after they left, the camp was struck by yet another raid of the hobgoblins, who had formed some type of uneasy alliance with orcs. Orcs? Where did these Orcs come from? The poor remaining militia did not stand a chance against the hordes of hobgoblins who came charging in. What ensued can best be described as a very violent match of rugby where all the hobgoblins were playing for their own team and the only goal in their minds being to grab that fleshy little baby. They stepped over, wrestled, punched, slashed and stabbed each other until one emerged victorious with the baby in hand.
As this was happening our adventurers were making their way along the path and after a while a bit of an argument broke out. Some wanted to open the lockbox and see what they were delivering, while others thought it would be foolish to risk the entire job and any potential reward just to satisfy their curiosity. Eventually the group decided that it would be too great of a risk and let the armored carriage be. Later they arrived at the small village of Trembria and went about trying to find the Burgomaster of this gnome village. When they eventually did find him, he was quite glad that they’d come to deliver the wagon but seemed very reluctant to deliver the taxes they owed to Antiacus. After trying and failing to negotiate, the rouge employed some very convincing acting skills combined with a masterful disguise to convince the villagers to give up their gold and prized possessions to the party. That rouge must have been blessed with the dark one’s own luck since this ploy miraculously worked and the adventurers were able to collect the coin that was owed.
Having delivered the supplies to the camp, the carriage to the town and finally collecting taxes, all that seemed to remain was simply to return to Antiacus. Our adventurers set off in good spirits thinking that all would be smooth sailing from here. But alas, this was not to be the case. When the party had made it almost all the way back to the outpost, terror suddenly struck them as they heard something very loud and very big closing in on them from behind. The adventurers prepared for the worst and raced forward, trying to outrun whatever was behind them. The barbarian even went so far as to tie herself to the carriage using a cord, so that she could lean out of the back while wielding a mighty warhammer in her hands, while the monk attempted to hold her steady. Whatever was behind them kept seeming to come closer and closer, so they raced forward as fast as the horses could manage through the icy weather.
In a cruel twist of fate, the adventurers found themselves in an impossible situation as suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge line of orcs and hobgoblins wielding spears appeared ahead of them further up the road. Caught between a rock and a hard place, they decided that they could not stop and however big the danger ahead, it surely could not match what was steadily closing in behind them. Thus they drove through the line of foes with all the speed and force they could muster. Unfortunately, the violent crash sent the barbarian and monk, who were still standing in the back, flying out of the carriage and into the masses of orcs and hobgoblins. The two adventurers quickly found their footing and chased after the carriage in hopes of jumping back in but quickly realized that the hole in the line of orcs that the carriage had created, had closed behind it and they were left surrounded by enemies on all sides. The barbarian hefted her hammer and roared fiercely and the monk swung her spear deftly as the two faced the insurmountable odds back to back. They fought bravely and slew a fair amount of their foes before inevitably both being defeated by the infinite number of orcs and goblins.
Disheartened by the loss of their comrades and the fact that two of the three bags of gold had flown out of the carriage with them, the three remaining adventurers raced back to Antiacus without ever stopping through the night. Once they neared the gates a terrible realization struck them. If they returned without all the coin that was owed, they might be accused of stealing and would not receive any reward for all their hard work, likely to be tossed in jail. And so it was with that the cleric, the ranger and the rouge decided to split the remaining coin amongst themselves, send the horses to the gates and flee, hoping the militia would assume they’d perished on the way back and not attempt to hunt them down. What became of them after that, is a story for another time.