above his head, secretly thanking what was left of the porch covering for shielding
him from this cursed weather.
For three days the rain had been unending. Bad weather in the harbor city
wasn't uncommon, especially for this time of year, but Trenton was quickly
growing tired of continuously being soaked, not to mention cold. Winter was
coming, which made the rain all the worse. The air had already grown crisp
with the final days of Autumn, and if the wind happened to be blowing in
from the harbor, it only punctuated the chill of the downpour.
This night, the wind was blowing.
A rustling noise to his left snapped Trenton's attention back to the situation
at hand, but a quick glance confirmed what he already knew. Friestel was getting
"Still yourself and be silent," barked Trenton in as quiet a whisper as his
anger would let him muster. Friestel quickly accommodated the burly fighter.
Friestel's appearance betrayed his age to even the least discerning eye.
A mop of disheveled red hair, freckles that could just as easily been painted
on that morning, and a lithe frame that only a boy his age could happen upon
from hours of studying books in a city where manual labor was readily available.
He wasn't much, but he would have to do. Trenton and his comrades had hired
the mage that morning to fill a void in their group. Their friend Corielen,
the group's spell slinger for the past four years, had fallen not far from
where Trenton and Friestel squatted now, and jaunts through this section of
the city were best done with a capable wizard.
Friestel would have to do.
Trenton squinted against the rain as he eased his head out from under the
porch and peered around the corner of what remained of the old house he and
Friestel huddled against. He searched the street and the rubble that lined it
for several minutes before he finally picked out the dark silhouette of Larvelon
making his way back up the street toward them. A cursory glance to his right
across the cobble-stoned thoroughfare and a quick nod from his last partner,
Brantonora, confirmed that the dwarven cleric had noticed their scout's return
So far, so good. Unfortunately the night was just getting started and a last,
longing look over his shoulder confirmed just how far into unfriendly streets
When the sky was illuminated by lightning, Trenton could just make out the
Temple of Bane's silhouette through the constant rain. He estimated that they'd
moved no more than three blocks beyond the wall that separated the more civilized
parts of the city from these remnants of Phlan's past. On one side of that wall,
the populace of Phlan went about their daily lives, sheltering themselves from
the week's bad weather. Trenton wished he was with them, drying his soaked boots
around the fire at the Laughing Goblin, enjoying a hearty mead with his friends.
Instead, he found himself on what was considered the wrong side of the wall.
While much of Phlan had been reclaimed and rebuilt from the last invasion, this
section of Kovel Quarter was still home to many of the monsters and denizens that
had been a part of the horde that last overran the city. It made life close to
the wall somewhat of a risk, as the Banites were finding out on a weekly, if not
daily basis, but it also provided a chance for men such as himself, and his
friends, potential reward and wealth.
"They're up there alright, and so is Corielen," whispered Larvelon. The slim
Dalesman had slipped between Trenton and Friestel without the fighter even noticing,
a trait of Larvelon's that Trenton was often appreciative over the six years the
pair had been together. "Thus far he's still in one piece, but I wouldn't bet
Brantonora's holy symbol that what's left of him will last through the night.
If we're to give our friend a proper burial, we best do it before the sun comes
Trenton nodded his agreement as the dwarven cleric made her way across the
darkened street to join them, her splashing along the cobblestones and a brief
glint of moonlight off her chainshirt making both the fighter and the scout wince.
Friestel's face was too wrought with a mix of fear and worry to notice.
"Get a count?" inquired the dwarf.
Gradush could enjoy the thought of the goblins and kobolds going to war after
that, but he knew all of Phlan would be caught up in such a battle. The Iron
Claws were ruled by an arrogant king who refused to enter Phlan until the entire
city acknowledged him as its rightful sovereign; he was powerful but no one
except the kobolds bowed to him in the ruins and the humans who'd reclaimed New
Phlan surely never would give in to the Kobold King's delusions. Yet Gradush
knew his Elders believed the Blues had already made an uneasy alliance with the
Kobold King, if the Yellows joined it things would go bad quickly.
"A dozen, including the ones we left injured yesterday. The shaman though, and
his pet, I did not see."
Trenton's brow furrowed under the weight of the bad news. With Corielen, he would
measure his odds against a dozen goblins as an easy victory. But as it was, he and
his friends were saddled with the only mage they could scrounge up at short notice
and were outnumbered three-to-one. Not to mention the question of where the group's
leader was, along with his ever present means of protection.
"No other way about it then I guess. You three ready?"
The dwarf and Dalesman gave a quick nod. Friestel starred over the fighter's
shoulder, his eyes fixed in the direction of the wall.
"Mage!" grunted the fighter, louder than he intended. "Do you have your wits
about you boy?"
Friestel nodded his agreement. "Yes, yes. I'm ready," he replied meekly.
"Good. Lar, you know what to do," instructed Trenton. "Brantonora, the mage,
and I will be along on the fifth thunder clap."
"Good enough," responded Larvelon, then as quietly as he arrived, the Dalesman
started back down the street in the direction he had scouted before, picking his
way amongst the rubble of abandoned homes and businesses before slipping out of
Brantonora followed suit, moving across the street as quickly and quietly as
her short, stout, dwarven frame allowed her. She crouched behind a pile of rubble
then glanced back toward Trenton unexpectedly. The burly fighter watched her go,
then turned toward Friestel.
"You're never more than a pole's length from me, understand?" Trenton said in
a tone that wasn't quite intended as a question. The young mage nodded quietly,
his eyes wide. Trenton sighed inwardly, hoping he wasn't going to be dragging two
bodies back to the wall this night.
Trenton turned back to Brantonora and gave the dwarf a quick nod. The three
of them waited. The rain was coming down in sheets now, the wind having picked up
since the group had crossed the wall two hours before. Despite being soaked and
cold, Trenton gave a silent thanks to Talos that perhaps the weather would give
the group some cover.
The sky streaked with lightning, reversing light and dark across the rough
cityscape in front of Trenton. The fighter and dwarf exchanged another knowing
glance and drew their weapons, the fighter pulling a hand axe with an antler handle
from a loop on his belt while the cleric gripped a worn flail and unslung a small
shield from behind her back. Both knelt, tense, waiting the coming thunder.
The ground shook, and pieces of rubble shifted with the thunderclap. Trenton and
Brantonora both instantly sprang into motion, moving down the street as quietly as
possible at a slow jog, sidestepping piles of brick and stone and fallen crossbeams.
Friestel followed close behind the groups leader.
The pint-sized monsters had cleared out a small courtyard of what once was a
modest mansion. However, war and years of occupation by creatures less concerned
about the finer things of human life had left the structure little more than a
skeleton with patches of mortar walls still standing or leaning against some old
piece of dilapidated furniture.
Trenton and his group
had been exploring the home the day before, hoping to find some small, yet-to-be
discovered chest or bauble from the former owners. Perhaps a sack of gold coins, or
maybe a diamond-studded amulet that would bring a fine price back in the market.
Skilled adventurers could often find a trinket or two amongst the ruins of Old Phlan,
or earn coin collecting some random bounty the city was offering at the time. The work
was risky, but worth it if you got lucky enough, and didn't make a habit of tarrying
too long after dark on the wrong side of the wall.
Unfortunately, Trenton's luck, and more specifically Corielen's, had run out the
day before. Now it was time for a measure of revenge.
The trio picked up their pace as they neared the courtyard, the light of the fire
the goblins had set now pouring into the street, warmly reflecting off the wet
cobblestones. A half block away, Trenton spotted Larvelon. If it weren't for another
bolt of lightning, he never would have seen the Dalesman crouched on the roof of an
old shanty across the street from the goblin's courtyard, bow drawn.
Trenton gave a quick word of thanks to Tymora as he and the dwarf entered the
courtyard, taking the goblins by surprise. Thankfully, they hadn't seen Larvelon,
nor heard the other three coming. The fighter came to a quick stop, nearly skidding
on the wet cobbles as an arrow of fire streaked over his head, catching one of the
green-skins across the courtyard in the shoulder and spinning him around. The Dalesman
was as good a shot as he was a sneak, and again, Trenton appreciated his friend's
The fighter quickly cut the number of his opponents to 10, hurling his hand axe at
one of the halfling-sized monsters crouched near the fire. The sharp steel of the axe
cleaved the surprised look on the goblins face perfectly in half as Trenton pulled his
battle axe out of his shoulder strap.
"Lar! Get Corielen, and let's be gone from this place!" shouted the fighter. Larvelon
nodded, taking a moment to drop another goblin with his bow before leaping to the ground
and sprinting into the courtyard toward his fallen comrade's body.
The heel of Trenton's soaked boot crushed the jaw of another of the monsters. He was
out of the fight, but he wasn't dead, and right now, that was good enough. He had his
hands full trying to protect Brantonora, who was busy uttering a prayer, from the
"Kid, now's the time to get in the fight," he bellowed at Friestel, who was dumbfounded
about his place in the melee. The other three were used to fighting with each other, and
could with fair accuracy judge where each other would be in the maelstrom of battle, but
the young mage was new to all this, and it was showing.
"Kid!" Trenton growled again as he ripped his battle axe from the chest of a fresh kill.
Friestel shook himself to attention, then quickly began casting a spell.
Trenton turned back to Brantonora, who was finishing her spell, and was momentarily filled
with dread. Three greenskins were bearing down on the unaware dwarf's back. Before the fighter
could shout a warning though, the goblins skidded and slid to the cobbles, the ground beneath
them suddenly coated in a thick, oily substance. As Brantonora turned in time to catch one
across the neck with her flail, Trenton glanced at Friestel just long enough to catch a small
grin creep across his face. Perhaps the boy would earn his pay afterall.
Brantonora's spell washed over Larvelon, giving him the strength he needed to hoist
Corielen's body over his shoulder and begin to move back through the courtyard toward the
exit. Trenton and the dwarf fought back to back as goblin after gobilin poured from the
rubble. Trenton couldn't help but think his scout grossly underestimated how many of the
half-sized green fiends inhabited this section of the ruins. Despite it all, he and his
group were still making out okay.
As Larvelon passed their position, Trenton tapped Brantonora on the shoulder, their agreed
upon signal to begin their withdrawl. The dwarf grunted an acknowledgment, then the pair began
to move together toward the exit, cutting down or crushing any goblin that carelessly drew to
near. For a moment, the grizzled adventurer thought they were in the clear.
Back in the street, Friestel and Larvelon waited with Corielen's body for the dwarf and
fighter to clear the courtyard gate. Once through, Friestel furiously began to work through
another spell, his fingers twisting a small piece of webbing through the intricate motions
needed. With a final word, webbing shot from the young mage's hands filling up the courtyard
gate and trapping the goblins inside.
"Well done lad," uttered Brantonora, giving the mage an approving pat on the rump. Friestel
jumped slightly at the touch, taken surprise by both the dwarf's forwardness and gesture of
friendship. "Now, let's be getting ba----"
The clerics words were cut short as she slumped to the ground unconcious. Trenton and the
others turned to see the goblin shaman that had caused them so much trouble the day before
standing in the middle of the street, just on the edge of the courtyard fire's glow, his
fingers already working through the motions of a second spell.
"Cursed luck!" Trenton snarled. "Lar, take Corielen and get back to the wall, we'll be
Larvelon nodded and hoisted Corielen's body again, the effects of Brantonora's spell
easing the load.
Trenton turned back toward the shaman and began to quickly close the gap between them.
"Guard the dwarf, and see if you can rouse her!" he yelled back at Friestel.
Before he could reach the goblin mage, a fiery arrow of magic burst from the goblin's
hands. Trenton ducked, but the flaming bolt easily missed him. The fighter thought himself
lucky for the goblins poor aim, even with magic, as he barrelled into small creature,
sending them both tumbling to the ground. Quickly pulling himself out of the muck, the
fighter gathered both his wits and his battle axe in preparation for what he hoped would
be the end of this fight.
The goblin-mage was stunned by the force of collision, and hadn't yet gotten to his feet.
Trenton stood over him, and if it hadn't been for the group of greenskins about to clear what
was left of Friestel's web, the fighter might have had a few choice words to utter on his
fallen friend's behalf before killing the shaman. As it were, a quick death would have to
Trenton was off the ground before he ever felt the sharp claws close around his neck from
behind. He strained to get at his unseen attacker but the long handle of his battle axe was
useless in this position. He quickly tossed it aside and whipped an antler-handled dagger from
his belt, reaching behind his head and slicing at what held him.
There was a roar of pain in Trenton's ear, then a sensation of flying the likes of which
he hadn't felt before. The subsequent crash into the stone wall across the street sent rivers
of pain through Trenton's body, and left him slumped on the cobbles in a puddle of rain water.
Seconds seemed like hours as Trenton struggled to clear the disorientation the collision had
left him with. Finally, he was able to lift his head and face his unseen assailant.
Lightning flashed, outlining the
form of the troll standing over him, and the smaller form of the shaman standing at the troll's
side. Trenton grasped at the stones around him, his hands splashing among the puddles of water
collected in the street, struggling to find a weapon that was not there. For three straight days
it had rained, and Trenton again silently cursed the chilling cold.
The fighter glanced down the street toward Friestel, who was helping a groggy Brantonora to
her feet. The four of them together might have a chance against the shaman and his guard, but
then again, he had thought that the case the day before when Corielen was felled.
Trenton stopped groping at the cobblestones. A calm washed over him, and he slumped against
the wall, accepting what was to come. With quiet resolve he glanced up again in time to see the
final bits of flesh close over the cut in the troll's wrist before the massive claw came sweeping
down across his face.
"Where's Trenton?" Larvelon asked worriedly from his perch on the wall as Friestel and
Brantonora approached, Corielen's body laying below him. He took quick note that the dwarf, her
eyes barely open, needed the aid of Friestel to walk upright. He also noticed the scorch mark
on Friestel's neck, and the wisps of smoke rising off the mage's robe