The foolish people of Malcolmsfort let go the sheep-stealing half-men. Novak shrugged at the town people’s reverence for the savages who’d come from the west to hunt domesticated animals. Anyway, he knew there were hobgoblins that needed to be exterminated. He had little time for the river community that refused to take his warning of coming attack.
He led the troop back into the forest, hoping to find more hobgoblins, and he was not disappointed. They spied a unit drilling in an open field. Fear was the farthest emotion from his heart and he pushed his team forward. The ugly monster men fought well at first, but then turned to flee. Cutting through brush, Novak managed to catch two at the end of the group.
Novak demanded information from the first hobgoblin who was defiant. Novak stuck that one in the face with his trident and turned to the second hobgoblin. They managed some new information from the prisoner, a confirmation of an impending attack on the fort and another exaggeration of fighting strength.
Shandor and Hacksaw taunted and then tortured the poor brute. Novak felt distaste for the immature act, but said nothing. The murderous hobgoblin likely deserved no less. The savagery of his companions, though, reflected poorly on their worthiness.
With wounds light, they aimed to catch the other hobgoblins if they could. As a precaution, Novak sent the ranger, Shandor, to scout ahead. Presently, Shandor noticed hobgoblins set for an ambush on either side of the trail but was unnoticed himself. He had to choose: sprint back to the others to warn them or keep moving. He chose the latter.
The ambush sprung on the team and began a whirlwind of blood. Hacksaw fell to hobgoblin blades, and their newest recruit, Irving. Novak’s hired man, Bolcox fell, too. Shandor turned when he heard the battle, rushed into the thick of it and was cut down himself. The cleric fell, and it was only Novak and Domastaet left standing, and they fought on.
The elf grabbed a healing berry. More hobgoblins were killed, until one remained and finally tried to flee. Novak hurled his trident, sticking the monster in the back.
Novak and the elf considered the situation. They gathered all healing method left: a few berries, some berry juice and Shandor’s mix of rations and berry goo. Novak and the elf restored themselves and then revived the cleric, whose healing juice they’d taken, and Bolcox, Novak’s faithful man at arms.
With three unconscious party members and the day fading, they aimed at reaching the old graveyard before dark, hoping not to come across any more hostile forces. Their luck did not hold, for partway across the clearing towards the graveyard, hobgoblins spotted them. With regret, the dropped their sleeping comrades and sprinted.
Still fearful of the ghouls who once lurked in the graveyard, the hobgoblins did not pursue. They did take the three people left in the brush, as we proven the next morning. Novak thought hard about next steps and despite the cruelty and stupidity of his captured teammates, he vowed to rescue them if he could.