The plan was, that we head on out to visit the Goliaths camp. Meet the rest of the Stonebreaker Tribe, chat amicably, then head off to investigate the volcano. Simple plans are the best! So instead we popped back into the tower for a bit. Tia’Vari was concerned about leaving the Egg with Dirt and Izkin, thinking they’d pull off some mysterious scheme. I’d tried to persuade her to just let them complete their ritual which would leave them indebted to us, but she was being Tia’Vari.
Back in the Tower, Izkin and Dirt had both finished making their candles. Izkin’s looked well sculpted, resembling some of the better candles we’d used in the tavern back before I set out on this path. Dirt… Dirt clearly hadn’t done this before. His candle resembled something you might scrape off your shoe, but it had a wick, and his heart was in the right place.
We argued back and forth over the benefits of letting them carry out the ritual, and eventually Izkin uttered the winning statement… “But Tia’Vari, you’re the tribe chief here, why wouldn’t you want this for your followers?” It was almost like a light flicked on above her head, and suddenly the ritual was on.
I won’t bore you with the details. There was candles, chanting, and some pressing of lips to eggs. Both Dirt and Izkin started to shriek in pain. Dirt passed out, Izkin remained conscious. Both of the sprouted wings.
It was an amazing sight… a little like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Izkin tried a few experimental flaps, then jumped from the balcony to take flight.
I’ve not seen a lot of birds leaving the nest in the wild, but I’ve heard that not every first flight is successful. This one, this one was disastrous. Izkin screamed most of the way down to the ground. It was only my quick reflexed that managed to let him float the last few steps. He folded his wings in, and had the decency to look embarrassed.
It was clearly time for us to go with the Goliaths. They, however, had gotten bored waiting for us, and instead had left a note with directions.
We left the directions to Arn and Drax, because we thought heading into a Goliath camp might be best led by Goliaths. Even if one was an outcast, and the other tribe-less. Let’s just not tell them that bit eh?
We made it safely to the camp without any trouble. Brak Githson met us and introduced us to his father Gith, and his betroved, Onenu Firehart.
I’m going to pause here to repeat some information that Brak had told Arn earlier. I think its important, but it may not prove so in the long run.
Onenu Firehart is the daughter of the leader of the River Hunter tribe. The River hunter tribe were recently attacked by the Rock Tanner clan, working with a group of Dwarves.
Whilst we’ve had dealings with dwarves in the past (Father Oarath, for one.) Goliaths and Dwarves have spent the last few hundred years fighting over land. They will, on sight, kill each other.
Its why I’ve so much respect for Arn and Drax, in that they managed to hold this rage in whilst we travelled south of the divide.
Hearing that the Rock Tanners were working with Dwarves was like hearing that someone had successfully set ice on fire. Incredibly unlikely, but this is the story that the sole survivor was telling. This survivor was Onenu Firehard, now Brak’s betrothed.
With this in mind, I was curious as to what to expect.
In front of us stood a Goliath of unremarkable height, but of a strange coloured skin. Almost burnt, with flickers of an almost flame-like tint to it. Drax commented quietly to us that he’d never seen her like before, nor had he heard her name mentioned. As a cross-tribe priest, I guess he’d encounter a large number of people in his travels. Something felt off. In a Corsinar kind of way.
But, with no way to check this, we decided instead to follow the original plan, which was to visit the camp, see how we could help, and deal with the Rock Tanners threat.
We traded first with the tribe, purchasing a few items, and unloading a chunk of gold on them. It was then time to head out. Time to find out just what was happening here.
Brak led us back out of the camp, bringing two of his hunters with us. Within half an hour Arn had picked up the trail of a number of Dwarves and Goliaths, no more than half an hour ahead of us.
Knowing that this meant we’d be seeing a fight shortly, I decided to try something… I’d normally say something different, but this next trick is becoming all too familiar now.
I whispered to the hunting party ‘don’t shoot the pink dwarf’ and used my ring to alter my appearance to that of a dwarf dressed in pink. I then took point, singing my best impression of a dwarf song. Basically, every word was either gold or beer, but you get the idea!
Rounding a rather rocky bend in the track a voice called out to me “Stop right there! What do you think you’re doing?”
Here we go.
“Oh, hello there! I’m Goron Tasselbeard!”
Yeah, I know, I’m rubbish at making up names on the spot.
“But you don’t have any tassels in your beard!”
“Well, they got washed out while running away from some angry Goliaths! They’re not too far behind me! Do you mind if I head on up?”
He pondered this for a moment, before telling me to get a wiggle on. I hurried on, making sure my disguise looked as authentic as possible. I modelled myself on Father Oarath. Always best to have an element of truth in there!
As I walked, I sung as loudly as I could. Hopefully, this would cover up the noise the rest of the group made getting closer. As I walked though, it started to occur to me that these Dwarves weren’t overly evil. They weren’t covered in smoke or oil like every other evil thing we’ve fought, nor were they telling us their evil plans whilst trying to kill us.
Again, my Tak sense was tingling.
So I struck up conversation with them loudly as I walked towards them, asking what was ahead “Death and Doom”. Where were they going? “To our Doom” How come they had Goliaths with them “You ask too many questions…”
I’d made my mind up. These lot weren’t evil. Something was afoot, and it smelt worse than a Trolls loincloth.
I was about to drop some truths on the dwarves, hopefully talk them around to discussing things calmly. It would have been a wonderful end to this chapter, but one of the Goliaths travelling with Arn had got a line of sight on his targets, and before I could say “hold your fire!” one of the dwarves grew an arrow from his chest.
Why… why does this always happen to me.
Things went to pieces fast. I was surrounded by Dwarves, though they had no idea I was with their attackers. Around me they all drew their weapons, and I had a snap decision to make. Talk them out of a fight after they’d been attacked? Or try and knock them senseless and say sorry afterwards.
Thunder rolled off me, throwing dwarves to each side. I whispered “Sorry” and dropped to the ground. Dwarves and Goliaths went flying.
Around me, Arrows whizzed. Something else, small and white-hot also whizzed, it stopped whizzing inches above my head, where it bloomed into a massive fireball. One I’d recognise anywhere. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Tia’Vari was trying to blow me up!
Two dwarves turned into smudged shadows on the ground. The others frantically beat at their clothes to put out the flames. I’d managed to avoid the majority of the explosion. I’m going to hope that that was by design!
One by one, the ambush laid by my friends picked off the remaining Dwarves and Goliaths. Pretty soon, the noise of fighting died down, and it was time for me to drop my disguise. I quickly carried out the customary rummage of pockets, and came away with a small leather-bound book.
A quick scan of it confirmed my suspicions. The Dwarves had been attacked deep in the mountains by a fiery beast. They were fleeing, and the Goliath tribe offered to help. The Fiery beast was responsible for killing the River Hunter Tribe.
Why would Onenu lie about this? Well, we’re going to find out!