Knicks was sitting on the edge of camp. Watching one of the few men in the camp who she respected cross the horizon with a gnommish bard on his shoulder. She’d volunteered for early watch since she couldn’t sleep – she was still angry at the cat-calls she’d gotten in her armor from the newer members of the camp. Yes, she was in leather armor, but it wasn’t that demonshit “The less you see, the more it protects” armor you saw some of the elves wear at arena fights, it most certainly wasn’t that “+5 to exhibitionism” armor that drow women wore that didn’t even have enough material or coverage for cameltoe to be a concern, it was full body, full protection leather armor. It was the exact opposite of those other things and they’d still managed to perv on it just on the basis that it was skin-tight. That’s why it offered better stealth, dammit! Stupid fetishists. So she’d taken her drink to the watch post when she heard it. The pigs were squealing something fierce. Especially Miss Truffles – she sounded like she was… “Oh, Tiamat, end us!” she cursed as her stomach turned. She pulled out her knives as she retched, knowing she wouldn’t be able to hold it back.

A bandit's lookout
Let's face it - if you're reading this, you've seen a bandit camp before.

She had just enough time to call out the alarm before the creature locked eyes with her. That was the most chilling moment – there was nothing sinister in the beast’s eyes – no murder or hatred or bloodlust. The way it was chewing was just like any other goat that had just gotten it’s teeth around an apple. As if it all was so normal.

But added to that was the blood on its chin, the two pigs legs pinned under the goat’s, certainly dislocated as it kept the squirming pig under it as it casually ripped a vertebra out through the flesh and continued to chew casually. Knicks squeezed the tips of her blades, causing blue fire to envelop the ornate daggers, and threw them at the beast’s head – this was not a time for showboating – only for the goat to buck it’s head down, sharp horns deflecting the blazing blades into poor Miss Truffles, quickly igniting her. Knicks moved her hands to catch the daggers, and they responded by dragging themselves through the squealing pig’s flesh on their way back to their master’s hands. After a moment, the poor, poor creature finally stopped squirming, as knicks threw the blades again.

Fiery and Icy Dagger
Art by Emily Rolet

The beast carelessly flipped them overhead with its horns in a casual motion, hopping to the side as they whizzed back past it. Fear growing in her gut, Knicks started running back, throwing wildly as she saw it catch her scent. “GOAAAT!!!” she shrieked as she ran past several huts. People weren’t waking up quickly enough, she thought. She threw her blazing daggers into the roof of the chiefs hut. Sure enough, not three seconds later, Chief ran out, shouting “What the blazes-” his face going pale as he saw the girl running past with all of her might as a goat casually closed the distance between them, merrily hopping after his next victim. He took the second to brace himself, huff his chest and breathe deep before he mustered the full might and authority of his voice – the voice he was convinced that was the only reason Barna hadn’t usurped him as chief.

“Wake up, you dirty meat bags! Code ivory! The goat’s here!”

Several miles away, Barna stopped. Nerfidelle looked over his head, using his ears as handles. “What’s wrong?”

He shook his head. “I was sure I heard the chief… Well never mind.”

Nerfidelle grinned. “I never caught his name, by the way. Everyone just calls him chief.”

Barna rolled his eyes. “You’re not gonna believe this, but that’s actually his name. Anyway, let’s keep walking.”

By now, the whole camp had woken up, sixteen archers firing every arrow they could find at the beast, every shot inexplicably missing. Knicks, screaming, for the first time in her life like a member of her own gender, had started jumping onto things, going over and under every obstacle she could to slow the goat’s approach. Nothing worked. The things she went over, it hopped onto without effort. The things she dove through, it ploughed through without breaking pace. She was running out of places to run and the beast was almost on her. She knew she was dead. Suddenly, a panicking Galliwig crossed her path – she’d be hoping her flight would lead her close enough to him. She grabbed the tiny priest by his collar, pushing all of her momentum into throwing him to the blur on her right that she recognised as Cairne, shouting, “dump him in the keg!” As she fell to the ground. The half elf caught him, watching her flail and stab at the goat as her chilling shrieks filled the morning sky. The beast had bitten clear through the back of her knee and what she had asked for wasn’t help – he knew how important it was to trust her here. He ran to the keg, calling for Mor to join him. “open it!” He shouted, pointing to the keg. The huge orc looked sadly at Knicks, who was having her ribs ripped out through her flesh, one by one, her frantic screams and violent defence quickly fading to weak sobs and feeble twitches, and wiped a tear off his eye as he pulled the seal off the barrel.

A goat surrounded by dead bandits and missed arrows
The place probably looked like this... only worse.

“Wait,” said Galliwig, quietly. “I need to make sure I can breathe. I’ll… Need you to hold it off.” Mor had lifted his greataxe and was charging the beast before the gnome had even finished speaking. As he reached the beast, he brought his axe down, not even slightly surprised as the goat turned out of the way of his weapon. He kept swinging down – the axe embedded into Knicks skull, ending her suffering instantly.  it was at this moment he felt the goat’s horns pierce his chest. He grabbed its ears, pulling its head inward to his gut and holding tightly. “Now, Cairne!” the blond warrior had drawn two axes and was leaping at the goat. Before he knew it, the beast had twisted it’s head and thrown Mor into him, leaving them both badly hurt on the ground, though they both fought to regain their footing and attack again.

Official spell block for "Water Breathing" spell, 5e
Water breathing is a domain spell for Gally, though I haven't homebrewed the "travel" domain since this was originally a 3.5 thing
Galliwig watched in horror as he finished his spell. The air in his lungs felt so fresh he knew it would last for hours. A few of the men were running – he knew it was useless. Once the goat catches your scent there’s no running from it. That was the story told every time. So Knicks planned to hide his scent. Change it by soaking him in ale. He sighed, closing his eyes as he pulled the Barrel lid over his head. Knowing this was the start of a very long day.
“After Mor and Cairne went down the others didn’t last long… Chief went down third to last going by the screams.” Galliwig finished.

“Damn thing was toying with me. Every time I tried to get between it and someone else it just… Hopped right past me. It was like I wasn’t even there!”

Everyone quietly looked around. Having heard it retold, having heard how even the best of the camp were children fighting a dragon as far as that beast were concerned, anyone thinking of doubt or accusations realised now that it was just a natural disaster, and that between Knicks and the chief’s quick thinking they’d saved them from more permanent deaths.

“So, now what?” Barna asked the chief, more for show to make it look like the coming conversation was the chief’s idea than to actually ask. The chief thought for a second. “Gal, what do we need to get the rest of the team out of the ground?” Galliwig thought for a moment. “A diamond. Big one. I know of one but I’ll need a team. Five at the most.” The chief nodded. That’s the most we can spare anyway.” Barna spoke up. “I’m in. I suggest we take our best team, and leave Toys, Ash, Brannigan and Potshot to start cleanup. We should be gone, what, two days?” Galliwig nodded silently, prompting Cairne to raise an eyebrow. “You know about this diamond, Barns?” This, in turn, prompted the chief to laugh. “It’s a raid, Cairne. It’s almost always two days.”

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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