Fall of the Warlock Kings

Butcher Butchered

In which our heroes win their first fight

They are safe in the inn, perhaps, but the fight takes to the streets, where the locals, perhaps warned by the first crossbow bolt killing one of them, don’t participate. Instead, it’s a slugfest, with goblins and hobgoblins dropping like flies, but the dwarves standing firm, and the Butcher himself pretty fierce. There’s a lot of blood spilled, though not from Miri or Utgar, but in the end, only Grouse finds himself down for the count, Grouse and the enemy, that is. There’s not enough time to destroy the Butcher’s body, because Magistrate Pellin arrives with some of his guard to say that the town in under attack all over, and he would ask, in return for not having turned them in to the Great Army as deserters, that the six deserters carry a message about the Army stirring to Amara, or at least Dragon’s Howe. They agree, and set off across a countryside crawling with patrols and scouts, narrowly avoiding detection to reach the cave where their treasures are hidden. Inside, however, are stirges who have made a lair of it, and the fire beetles that feed off the blood-drained corpses left behind. Another fight, this one more handily won, in which Utgar takes the worst of it and has to run, and Haltar almost finds himself dropped from bloodloss. But the beasts are slain, and after their treasures are retrieved, they march on. On the next day, everyone pushes hard except for Grouse, possibly because he’s carrying a whole wheel of cheese, and falls so far behind that by the time they make the Draconic Road, he’s exhausted. The next day, after camping in an abandoned farmhouse, they see refugees fleeing the coming conflict, and over the horizon, the dust that can only be cast up by an army on the march. The Army of the Great King, having swallowed Yel Arai in only a week, is already moving on toward Amara. Will they be in time to warn the Duke, or at least one of his commanders?

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