The six companions set off at dawn, on foot now that the wagon and horses had been stabled with Barthen. Cautiously they approached the site of the ambush, the air thick with flies and the smell of rotting flesh. Windsweeper quickly found the trail that the goblins had left in the brush. Heading north, it was clear that more than just the small group they had encountered had been this way. The trail continued through trees and brush, the soft gurgle of a stream nearby.
The first trap was easily avoided. A simple snare set along the path to capture either unwary food, or foe. Although with goblins, they tended to be one and the same thing. Windsweeper continued to lead the way, after quickly disarming the trap with his sword, following the trail as it began to merge with the stream, which had now widened into more of a river. His focus so intent on the tracks of their quarry, that when his foot landed on not so solid earth, he nearly fell with the camouflage into the deep, spiked pit beneath. Zinovia had reached out just in time, grabbing him by the belt, and instead of tumbling down into the hole, he instead fell flat on his backside as the earth gave way beneath him.
Getting up, dusting himself off and wiping the cold sweat from his forehead, he gave a simple nod to Zinovia before continuing on. As the river seemed to grow, the tracks disappeared, so too did the shadows up ahead. There was a clearing, a space where the sun shone down in full radiance, instead of the slight beams that penetrated through the trees. As they neared the space, the mouth of a cave was in sight, the source of the river, a great pool where it exited the mouth, before continuing on the way they had come.
Slowly the group made their way into the sunshine of the clearing, the river on their right, the forest continuing on beside it. The grass was verdant and showed no signs of trespass, but still the group moved carefully. As they skirted the edge of the riverbank, moving inexorably closer to the great, gaping mouth of the cavern, it became evident that on the opposite bank, near the entrance, was another small clearing. Hidden by a copse of trees, small tendrils of smoke climbed skyward.
Rowina and Freddie very slowly slid into the cold waters, careful to not make a sound as they made their way across for a closer inspection. The remainder of the party standing ready for any sign of trouble. The forest itself seemed to hold its breath, the only sound that of the river as it crashed from the cave and flowed onwards to freedom. Edging their way around the thick trees and bushes that blocked the view of the hidden space, they crouched low as they saw what was hiding there.
Two goblins, armed and possibly guards, where lazily turning a spit over the fire. Freddie began to rise, however the small, soft touch of Rowina's hand on his arm stopped him. Putting her finger to her lips, she carefully slid her spell book from its housing on her hip, flipping through pages until she found what she needed. Reaching into a small pouch at her waist, she withdrew some small, dried rose petals, and whispering under breath, she ground them between her fingers. with one final flourish of words and motion, she blew on the crushed petals, sending them floating towards the two creatures in the camp.
At first, it seemed that nothing had happened, and then, one goblin yawned, its mouth opening wide to show sharp, pointed teeth inside. And then, they both fell where they stood, the meal crashing into the embers of the fire as they slumped to the ground. Quizzically Freddie looked at the young wizard, "Dead?" he asked matter of factly.
"No, just sleeping. What now?"
"Signal the others to come over. There's a path from here leading into the cave. I'll start tying these two up."
And, heading over to the two sleeping, snoring figures, Freddie did just that.
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