What happens when a group of people decide to go on adventure? Well, they hit the road...
Dylan Becks
Writer, Dungeon Master, Fond of cheese.

The eighteen-hour trip to Coven was the longest trip of Hidan’s life. Scorched Peak hadn’t been a bad place to get supplies late at night – the guild had a 24 hour shop for late night departures, so the endless barrage of questions from Nerfidelle had largely occurred while Hidan was either drunk, sobering up, or hung over. 

“What is your motivation for becoming an adventurer? Is it to impress one of the potential romantic interests in the party? Are you hoping to break the tension with your long – time friend, hoping desperately to become more? Are you trying to ingratiate yourself to the badass assassin girl? What’s your fighting style? Are you more a tank or a dodger? Offensive or defensive? Do you have a signature move? Please tell me it has a cool name that you shout out when you use it? OOH! OOH! Does it have an impractical yet dramatic charge time? Do you have an arch enemy?”

Hidan finally raised a hand, shutting the gnome up. “If I answer your questions will you shut up for an hour?”

The bardess beamed up at him. He could swear her eyes were actually sparkling as he tried his best not to notice her cleavage at that angle. Damn gnommish bards and their overt attractiveness. 

“Ok. I was bored. Maybe. Probably. Hells, no. Spear-Dancing. Dodger. Both. Yes. No. No. And Oh, my, yes,” he finished, staring at her pointedly. 

 

Nerfidelle counted on her fingers for a moment before drawing a sudden and deep breath that sounded for all the world like the bastard child of a gasp and a squeal. She opened her mouth to ask him about his arch – enemy (these made awesome plot hooks, giving bards something of an obsession with them) before she realised she had promised to remain silent. She made her way to Seraphim, completely oblivious to the fact that the Wild-elf was blushing profusely. 
“Barbarian, you heard that conversation, right?” More blushing. 
“Y-yes?”

“What do you know of this Arch-enemy? “
This elicited a huge sigh of relief from the woman who had beaten down an ogre mage for insulting her cooking. “Oh. He means you. ” The bard fell to the ground in shock. 
“That’s sooooo mean! It’s illegal to lie to a bard!” 
Hidan chimed from the distance, “I wasn’t!” This caused even more ruckus. The next seventeen hours were going to be noisy indeed.
 
Coven hadn’t changed at all since Hedge last saw it. A waystation town – it was the kind of place that existed purely as a location for things to happen. Indeed, the adventurers who thwarted Scared, the black-skulled subjugator had collected on their way to this tavern. Hedge swore places like this were commissioned by the bards. There was a tavern, three longhouses and a mine leading into the mountain. The mine was new, but Hedge had realised that drawing attention to this fact would probably lead to some crazy underdark adventure involving spiders and drow, and possibly even a goat. They just weren’t levelled for that. Instead, he lead the party straight to the tavern and went straight to bed.
Small town by a riverside
There's always a little village along the way... art by Sina Abbasnia

Seraphim, on the other hand, was having none of that. She was off to the bar part of the tavern for a drink and a few rolls of ‘gather information’. There she found Merla, Harkin, and Jarlisle. “How the hell did you guys get here ahead of us?” she shouted more than asked.

“Horseback.” was the centaur’s irritated response.
“Ok,” she pondered, “Why?”
Merla looked up. “Dungeon crawl. Apparently some undead appeared in the mines.” 
Seraphim nodded. “Any info on the Bandit king? “
Harkin finally spoke up. “He’s got a soft neck. You’ll cut right through it. ” Seraphim paled. 
At this point the lumbering mercenary burst into laughter. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Look. The Bandit makes camp to the south, in the mountains halfway towards rangers’ fall. If you’re going to hit them from above then for loots’  sake take out the guards up there. Finally, do NOT,  I repeat, NOT kill the cleric.” 
The elf looked at him quizzically. “Why not? “
Merla motioned her closer, whispering into her ear. “The priest hits up a resurrect spell so some other bunch will be doing the same bounty this time next year. “
At this point Nerfidelle appeared with a slurry of questions, which Seraphim took as her cue to retire.
 
The next morning greeted the adventurers with a bright sunrise and the strange mutterings of Hedge poring over his tome. He’d spent the night drinking dragon drops in lieu of actually sleeping – he’d be slightly disorientated, but as a wizard, he’d be at his best. Within a few minutes he had engaged in a conversation with Nerfidelle that even she was struggling to keep up with. Leaving most of their supplies behind, taking only what would be needed in combat, and made their way up the mountain path.
 
They’d travelled about four hours when Nerfidelle paused and asked a question that caused the others into an immediate panic. “I wonder why you haven’t encountered any random monsters yet?  Usually that happens by now.”
Sliver was the first to break the stunned silence. “Why? Why would you ask that!?”
The gnome plucked her lute innocently. “Why not?” 
Sliver’s response was to point in a random direction in the distance behind her, not even looking. Sure enough, a squad of goblin raiders, led by a tall, pasty-skinned hobgoblin were making their way straight for them.
 

Nerfidelle, bound and gagged, protested loudly as Seraphim shut her up. “If you’re not allowed to fight with us, we can’t have you giving away our position. Now stow it!”
Hidan grinned, peering over the rocks. “Looks like ten gobbos, and a tannie. Two minutes out. They know we’re here. ” 

He motioned to Sliver,  perched on a ledge a few meters above him. They’d picked a point where the rocks clustered and formed a miniature chasm as a place to attack from, and the assassin had immediately found a well-covered vantage point. She emerged from behind a rock, drawing and nocking an arrow. She took her time to aim, making a show of it as she loosed her arrow. In truth, from where she was, the goblin formation looked like one massive blob of target – there was no way she could miss. 

Sure enough, the arrow pierced a goblin’s jugular as it whizzed past it and hit a second one in the chest. Lucky, she thought. The first fell, howling, and bled out within seconds. The second was clearly no stranger to being shot – it carried on stoically until she hit him a second time. It was at this point she heard Seraphim and Hedge talking, or chanting, in Hedge’s case. Another arrow, putting down a third goblin and scattering their formation as they got close enough to return fire. She took cover behind her rock, taking careful glimpses around it for goblins who weren’t well-hidden. It wasn’t hard at that height. With a snap of her fingers, a light smoke cloud emerged around her and her ledge, allowing her to take her shots without her assailants seeing her leave cover.
 
As arrows flew about behind him, Hedge channelled his magic. It wasn’t the trickiest spell he knew, but he didn’t want to be wasteful of his energy – that meant precision. As his hands began to glow, a vague projection of the hills and rocks where the goblins stood between them, he moved them together, as if to wrap the light into a ball, and the glowing stopped.
 
Behind him, he heard the sounds of rocks cascading downhill. Sliver made her way down the ledge as Hidan looked out at the clearing where the goblins were still firing on the smoky rock above.
 
The landslide wasn’t enough to bury the goblins outright, save for the three that were already dead, but the rocks hurt nonetheless. The dirt was heavy and forced them to stumble as they dug themselves out, and the dust blinded and choked them, causing all but the leader to cover their eyes and mouth with one hand. Some had had the sense to draw their axes or clubs. Others still held their bows, and it was between two of those that the maroon-caped assassin appeared, each hand holding a blade through the back of an adjacent goblin. 

Seraphim was next to appear with a shrill roar, planting her massive axe into one goblin’s ribs, lifting him as she continued her charge and slammed her weapon into the second goblin, the first’s body tearing in two as the second fell to the ground, its body broken. The remaining four looked at her, each with one hand covering their face as the other held a weapon. This distraction was exactly what Hidan was waiting for. Planting the head of his glaive in a goblin’s skull, then into the ground, he vaulted upwards and swung the weapon in the air, flinging the goblin corpse into one of his allies as he brought the weapon down on the leader. The larger goblin raised a greatsword, a sinister-looking spiked blade as tall as the goblin wielding it. The retaliation came quickly – Hidan having to move out of the way despite parrying the blow. This one was certainly faster than Seraphim, his usual sparring partner, but he could still keep him busy until…
 
The blunt side of the wild elf’s axe lifted a goblin with a loud crunch, launching the goblin through the air. “Fore!” she yelled as the rag-dolled body impacted with the tan-skinned hobgoblin. As he stumbled, Hidan took the opening, running the blade of his glaive across his opponents’ throat. It was a satisfying moment as he fell to the ground. A moment of victory.
Earthbender moving rocks
I'm not saying I was watching avatar when I figured out how Hedge's magic worked

Untying Nerfidelle, Hidan grinned, weapon hung over his shoulder. “Enjoy the show?” 
The small woman beamed. “That was SO badass! Eleven on four and you guys are barely scratched! And you found a good spot to leave me too, good view, but safe! When did you learn to attack so aggressively? Did you know Seraphim would help you? Would you have been in trouble if you hadn’t? Is it wise to be fighting without a tank? How would you have handled bigger numbers?” 

Hidan sighed and raised his hand with a sigh. The bard readied her notes. “Thanks, I know, you’re welcome, as a kid – Seraphim taught me, yes – though I didn’t expect the projectile goblin, Ohh-h-h yes, we do have a tank, and pretty much with the same tactic with a more drawn out execution.”

Nerfidelle scrawled her notes with furious speed, pausing as she realised Hidan had mentioned a tank in the party. “Who…” Hidan grinned as he pointed a thumb behind him. Seraphim had been a formidable force of devastation during the Battle – not just killing but shattering four goblins in a matter of seconds, but she’d taken as much as she’d given. She barely noticed the cuts, gashes and holes visible only as red marks in light holes in her hide armour. The wounds seemed shallow, though, and she barely winced and she pulled an arrow out of her arm. Nerfidelle realised what her supposed Arch-enemy saw in the barbarian. She seemed sweet, looked relatively normal, but was as tough as a Hydra when the time came.
 
Sliver placed a hand on Seraphim’s wounded shoulder. With a faint red glow, the wound closed. Seraphim sighed. “Archer, spellcaster, healer, good in a brawl, you assassins have a lot of tricks. “
The cloaked woman grinned. “Technically, I’m a priest. And for all my diversity, my healing isn’t that strong. And I only know four spells.”
 
Hidan leaned against a boulder as Seraphim combed over the battlefield for loot. She always seemed to find more than anyone. He peered over Nerfidelle’s shoulder – she was magically drawing a depiction of the battle, and he had to admit they all looked quite heroic. “I’d like a copy of that, if you don’t mind, ” he said absently, prompting a covert grin from the bard. “Sure. But I thought you hated bards.”
“They’re just bad luck. But as long as I don’t see any goats, we’re good. “
 
Seraphim threw the others each a small pouch of gold. “Sorry guys, nothing interesting. Even that leader’s sword was a bust.”
Hedge pocketed his earnings, motioning for everyone to get up. “Let us proceed. Daylight wastes.” 
With that sentence, Sliver exchanged a glance with Hidan, who in turn exchanged a glance with Seraphim.
“What? ” the wizard asked, dark hair masking his furled brow.
“We hit them at night, ” Seraphim stated. Hedge gaped at them. “These are bandits. At night they’ll all be wide awake and getting ready for a raid!”
“And drinking,” Seraphim stated, unwavering.
“Besides, we took these gobs out because we saw them coming. Let’s not be seen coming by our quarry.” Sliver folded her arms, leaning against the boulder in her best attempt to look badass to have her words heard. Even for a death-deity worshiping assassin, she wasn’t terrible at looking badass.
 
“Very well,” Hedge sighed.

Dylan Beckbessinger

App developer by day, Chaotic Neutral dungeon master by night, Dylan has been a DM for 10 years, and an avid fan of all things geekdom for far, far longer than that. Favorite class is eldritch theurge, because raw power doesn't need any limits.

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