Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (57)

    We are finally ready to move on in to the stronghold of Kadar Gravning.  I will be distracting the guards while everyone else clatters by.  I point out that if Hosei is to use a fireball to build a fogbank, then it must coordinate with my actions.  To my (humble) delight, Miyara likes the idea.  It would be obvious it would be a fireball, but I could pass it off as a trick long enough to disrupt the crossbow fire.  The signal for the fireball would be me throwing a light pebble into the river.
    It is time to go.  I march up the valley towards the entrances at the end, while the others make their way up the other side of the river.
    I keep marching until the guards notice something.  Unfortunately they do so as soon as I enter the valley, but they don't seem to be reacting as yet.  I keep going, bringing out a light pebble and tossing it from hand to hand.  It soon becomes obvious that they are intentionally ignoring the others.  I put the pebble in my mouth, shining from it, and do some acrobatics on the way up.
    About half way up, one of them goes inside.  I continue.  At about 40 yards the guard seems to go from nonchalant to ready.  He has his crossbow loaded and ready.
    I announce the show.  I carefully place one pebble on the ground.  The other guard has now returned, crossbow at the ready.  As I straighten up, I overbalance and fall over, and the Clown Fighting approach begins.  It is perfect physical humor in the barbarian style.  I hope that Clown Fighting works against crossbows.
    I am now about 15 yards out, and the crossbows come into firing position, aimed at me.  I stop advancing and go into a sequence of humorously incompetent martial poses.  One of them flicks his view briefly to the other side of the river, but both bows are aimed at me.  I advance a little as part of my act to keep their attention, but it's not really working.  I can see the light from the stone of air near the entrance to the tunnel.
    Elaborately I throw a pebble into the river, pointing out visually and verbally to the guards what I'm doing.  I hope Hosei will take his cue and launch his fireball.
    The fireball flies through the air to exactly the right point.  Steam pours from the water and fills the area, but not before a bolt flies towards me.  I take the bolt straight through the chest.  I run for the river, steam, and the tunnel beyond, noting that the other guard had fired his bolt at the others.  The two guards retreat into the gateway.
    I make it to the others.  We all move under cover.  Rabenna starts to treat me and I no longer feel like I might pass out.  I say we should go in pass the blockage.  Pireseri tells us where the two guards are, and that they are clearly on alert now, arranged in a position of ambush.  These are clearly not dwarves and thus by far the easier option. They are armed with makeshift clubs or rusty short swords.  They are the most emaciated putrid goblins Pireseri has ever seen -- Nurgle, he says, a mere scratch from their weapons might give us a deadly disease.  We need to get through and not show a light on the other side, so the dwarves may think we went somewhere else.
    The blockage is about ten feet into the tunnel and ten feet long at the base.  It apparently used to be complete but had been cleared enough to pass through at some point.  Miyara says I am to go among the last; I protest briefly but defer.  Miyara goes first, then Ashu, Goru, Barake, myself, Rabena, Carimera, Pireseri, and Hosei.
    We all pass through safely.  The goblins remain behind their blind corner ready to ambush us.  We have some time, and so Rabena works on treating my wound properly.  The goblins do nothing while she brings me almost to full health.

    It is time to fight.  We advance into the ambush that has been prepared for us.  I Clown Fight tumbling and tripping past the two goblins, and while they laugh the others will kill them, turning the ambush back on them.  They don't come out to fight and look surprised, so I check behind me to see what nastiness might be there, and as I do so they come out and attack.  Battle is joined, as the others run to come in behind the goblins.  I connect with a solid blow, and as the others arrive the goblins slip into their side passage.  There is only room for one person, and of course I pursue the fight.  It is very clear now that these are not goblins but ghouls -- they may once have been goblins, but if so I would have been centuries ago.  The first finally falls, and I engage the other.  It too eventually falls.

    I return to the rest of us in the main passage.  They have moved past the side passage by now, and we would seem to be well into the place by now.  Up ahead the passage curves around, meaning that we are clear to use light without the dwarves seeing it.  Pireseri tells us that there are around ten more ghouls waiting where the passage opens up.  Most of them are similar to (and armed like) the first two, but one is much larger, better armed and armored with plate and a warhammer.
    Suddenly a polite coughing noise comes back from the tunnel.  There's a well-dressed dwarf standing there.  He says "Greetings" in common, then asks for Lady Miyara.  She moves to the back, and I accompany her.  They greet each other politely.
    (He says he brings greetings from Lord Mendri (this is correct spelling!).
     -- my lord is nearby and seeks the pleasure of your company at some not too distant juncture when it is convenient for you.
    R: -- Where is Lord Mendri right now?
    -- I don't know that exactly.  I left him some time ago.
    -- so you've been following us how long?
    -- some time.
    -- how did you get past the guards out front?
    -- they have retreated into this place.  I see that I have concerned you, ma'am, how may I be of assistance?
    -- how long would it take us to see Lord Mendri?
    -- perhaps some days
    -- then we should finish what we are doing here.
    -- I expected that.  I shall follow you.  My name is Alex.)

    We continue with our plan.  Alex appears ready to take orders from Miyara.  He is dressed in leather, armed with a short sword.  Miyara explains the situation ahead to him.
    Hosei and Barake will guard the non-combatants, while Miyara, myself, Goru, Ashu, and Alex fight.  We will go in and fight as a line of five across the room.  We advance cautiously, Miyara, myself, Alex, Ashu, and Goru.

    We move into the doorway, and we can see them grouped ready to attack.  We move in quickly and take up a line formation as three until we can push the ghouls back and widen to five.  In response, the ghouls spread; one comes to meet each of us three in the front line, but the remainder all back away.  The big fighter -- backing away -- is apparently a dwarven ghoul in good plate, and seems to be the leader here.
    We engage, and give good account of ourselves.  Clown Fighting continues to work against these, it seems.  I am the first to take one down, with Miyara's following shortly thereafter.  None step up to take their place.  Pireseri destroys the fallen ones with the special dagger.  Alex continues to fight well enough that I do not feel that I should insult him by stepping in to help.  Alex looks a little embarrassed, and glances behind him at Ashu as if to imply that it would be ok if they traded places.  Ashu steps up to take over and quickly dispatches the third, while Pireseri destroys the body.
    The remaining ghouls have collected at the other end of the room by the exit.  I suggest we could try talking to them.  After all, they are not fighting us yet.  They do seem not scared but waiting.
    Miyara speaks to them, saying we only wish to pass by.  There is no reaction.
    We advance as five.  As we come out, they divide with half on the pile of garbage that occupies half of the room while the others move out of our way in the other direction.  As we form between them to allow the non-combatants to pass between the fighter lines, the seven ghouls attack.  Alex and Ashu are on the trash side, with Miyara and Goru on the either.  I run back and go for the non-trash side where the large ghoul is fighting.
    The ones on the trash side are trying to get by Alex and Ashu to the non-combatants.  Barake takes cover behind Ashu, but gets hit hard.  Barake fights back.  Pireseri too is attacked.
    Miyara and Goru take the fight to their ghouls, who are also trying to get around the front line.
    I have two: one who is trying to get around, while the other is happy to fight me, being the dwarven ghoul.  I try to kill the one who is trying to get past first.  The big ghoul steps up and swings the big hammer at me, but I dodge the blow.
    One of Miyara's falls.
    Alex and Ashu continue, Ashu clearly the better of the two.  Barake and his opponent miss each other.  Pireseri throws his opponent to the ground, stunning it.
    Miyara demonstrates her skill, easily mastering her opponent, but it stays up.
    I knock down the little ghoul, while I have to dodge a blow from the larger.
    Ashu's opponent falls.  Barake stays in a parry contest, while Pireseri's remains stunned.
    Miyara strikes her opponent with two mighty blows, but it continues to persist.
    Pireseri steps between Barake and his opponent to try to settle the stalemate.
    Ashu seeks another opponent, and chooses to come and fight the large ghoul with me, landing a heavy strike.
    Barake's opponent happily takes the short elf instead, and comes at him but is thrown by him.  Barake slides his knife into the previously stunned ghoul, dispatching it.
    Miyara chops hers yet again, but takes a hit in return.  Finally it falls to the ground.
    I hit the large ghoul, painful as it is, and dodge his return blow.
    Alex continues to fight his.
    Pireseri's lands heavily, but not stunned.
    I strike the large ghoul again, hurting from landing the blow.
    Miyara moves up and asks Alex if she can join him, and he gracefully allows.
    Pireseri's stands up, and Barake moves in to attack it.
    Miyara gives Alex a lesson in swordsmanship.
    I dodge and strike again, while Ashu also lands a blow.
    Miyara is hit hard, wincing with the pain, but returns the strike and takes it down.
    I dodge again and hit hard -- my hands are starting to hurt a lot now.  Ashu hits again.
    Barake is attacked, but Pireseri tries to step in and throws the ghoul.
    I dodge and lash out with a kick, but the large ghoul dodges.  It fails to dodge Ashu's strike.
    Pireseri's lands on the ground, not stunned.
    Miyara moves into position to fight the large ghoul.
    I dodge and kick back, while Ashu lands a heavy blow too.  The plate ghoul goes down.
    Eventually the thrown one is dispatched, and Pireseri takes the special dagger to them.

    Three minutes from now I will be retching violently.