Well, after we executed that traitor Edivard no one was really sure what to expect about the whole goblin mess. I think most of us expected them to keep coming, maybe even press on us a lot harder. There was another little skirmish in the tunnel – just a couple goblins spotted and scared off. That might have been the night before the execution… I don’t really recall, but it seemed like after Edivard‘s head rolled things got a little easier going in the village. Not right away of course, but over time.
Well, of course, Salisia Cotschild’s parents were still unaccounted for. So the watch got together and Thorburn organized a few of us to stay in the village during the day, while the others would make a search party and head out into the Faenwood looking for our missing neighbors. The searching took a couple days. We followed our best leads, trying to sweep through the woods to find sign of where they’d ended up. Toward the end of our first day searching we found a dead deer. It had been hunted down – probably by goblins – and opened up with some of its insides missing. It didn’t look eaten though. Real odd.
The second day we were out searching we picked up where the deer was and kept going. It didn’t take too long ‘fore we found a songbird. Seems it’d been knocked down, split open, and some of its insides taken away too. Renee Simon seemed to take an interest in finding what was taken, and he said it was somethin’ called filtrate organs or some such – liver and kidneys and what-not. No one seemed real sure on what some goblins might want with a couple of livers and a handful of kidneys, but we didn’t wonder too long before we found a rabbit that met the same fate. By this point we knew we had some sort of trail we could follow, so we stopped sweeping and started following. Found five animals in all, everyone one of them done in like this with their guts out. A deer, a songbird, a rabbit, a squirrel, and a vulture – all missing the same bits.
Wasn’t long after we found the vulture that Renee said he heard some sort of movement up ahead. Then voices – they sure weren’t trying to hide. The voices were pretty audible through the mist, and speaking Halatia. Seems they heard us coming, and were asking someone what to do. Didn’t seem the person they asked was giving them much response, so they decided to scram. Heard a whole bunch running off, seems a pretty good bet that was some goblins getting out of the way. After all there were almost 20 of us our in that search party.
We kept on and came to an area where the trees seemed like they’d been tended up. There was five of them in sort of a square shape with one in the center. And there tied up on the center tree were the bodies of both Cotschilds, but missing every bit of their skin. Around the base of that center tree was a little ring of animal entrails. And walkin’ around this scene was a Herald – but we didn’t know what that meant then. We just saw a naked woman covered in a bit of paint and wearing a big ol’ animal skull on her head, walking around and bending over to pick up twigs and acorns -
then tossin’ them out of her little tree square. Hard to say if the skull of a mist touched eagle or a mist touched ram, but seems to me it must have been one or the other. Hooked at the front like a beak, big horns at the back like a ram. And a few peacock feathers sticking out of it… for decoration I presume.
Thorburn tried to call out, but she just kept walking around picking things out of the grass and tossing them away. Finally Thorburn told her that if she didn’t stop we’d attack, then told us to get our weapons ready. About that time she turned and raised her hands like maybe she was ready to do some sort of magic. I think if we realized what we were facing we might not have gotten into this so quick and easy.
When the fighting started it was quick, and it was terrible. She summoned up a ring of fire, like a wall around her. Damionne managed to get in before the wall went up, and one other, but two were caught right in that wall when it went up – one of those was poor Bill Umbron – who only just barely lived. Sure as I ever could be that he wouldn’t have made it through if someone hadn’t dragged him back out of it, because he let out a real awful shriek and just collapsed in the fire. I remember Renee and Magnus throwing their magics, and Damionne swinging her sword. Most of the rest of us were just trying to get around all sides of that fire so that woman couldn’t try to run away.
Then she used even more magic – threw a little ball of fire at Magnus Thorburn that blew up real quick when it got to him, and burned hot it burned away the underbrush around him. The fire lit up the whole area around him like a lantern for a moment, but then it was gone about as fast as it came. I remember seeing him curl up right when she started throwing the little ball of fire, and I remember seeing him laying face down in the dirt when the flames cleared.
I can’t say I remember what did her in – the herald, I mean. Probably Damionne or Renee, but there were some of the watch doing their best with their slings too. Soon as she fell, though, everyone rushed to the wounded. It’s a real miracle we were able to save both Bill and Magnus, but somehow we did, then set about trying to decide what to do next. Well I’ll say it was a real shock when someone went and kicked that skull off of the herald and saw it was Martha Yates. She used to live in the village, you see. She and her family decided a few years back that the village wasn’t working out for the long term and decided to leave. No one’d heard form them since the day they left…
We finally decided a couple pyres were needed. After all the Cotschilds needed sending off, and the bodies all needed burning. Damionne and a few others stayed to make sure goblins didn’t undo our handiwork with the pyres, and the rest of us picked up the wounded and headed back to the village. It didn’t take past sun-down for Thorburn to wake up, so I hear. Bill wasn’t moving again until mid morning the next day though.
It was around this time… and in fact it may have been one of the mornings before we’d found the Cotschilds. I don’t think I could tell you for sure which day it was now. But there was a morning when word got round town real early that there was some kind of smoke coming out of the forest.
Now that I think, it must have been before we fought that Herald because I don’t know we’d have taken signs of fire so lightly afterward. But it didn’t look far from the village, and looked kind of small. Seemed to us it could be someone out on the road, in which case the watch really needed to go find them quick. So a group got together and went out down the road. They weren’t out long before they came back, looking mostly unscathed and carrying a couple bodies and some armor.
Turns out they’d found a couple of people set aflame on the road. Another person came out of the forest claiming to be companion of the other two, and pretending to limp. Seems Renee was once again the only one with a good enough eye to see what was going on there. He noticed it was a fake limp, and he tried to warn the group, but from what I hear he was still the only one really ready when it attacked. They say its human appearance slipped away in an instant and it grew to a towering height in a matter of moments – it was an Ogre.
From what I’m told Renee did most of the battling, even took a glancing blow from the creature’s long, clawed hand. He seemed fine when I saw him though, barely bloodied thanks to that armor I’d guess. But those two bodies were burned up real bad. Seems one was probably a wizard of some sort, and the other was pretty well armed and armored. Breastplate was even etched with the symbol of the light bringer. Good guess is they were knights, but we didn’t think they weren’t really using the breastplate anymore so Damionne fixed it up after a while and now she wears it around when she’s on watch duties. They gave me the poor knight’s sword. I can’t say I’m ungrateful, but it’s strange carrying around the weapon of a knight, you know?
Anyway, after we knew what became of the Cotschilds, the watch set about the task of trying to rid us of these goblins. We’d had a couple nights without incidents in the village, but we weren’t going to take a lull for a truce. We started taking the search party out each day looking for the goblins. We’d do our damnedest to track them down, but they had trails upon trails out there. We did find what looked like their camp, even found a little scouting party just outside it – maybe four in number. We were able to get all four of them with ease. Now that we had got more slings and more people with a proper knowledge of how to use them, catching up to the goblins wasn’t as hard as it used to be – if you catch my meaning.
The camp was real odd. They had these nests along the ground, like you might imagine a dog making if it couldn’t den – and they were decorated with little rocks and shells. And in the center of the camp was a pile of bones, picked clean of their meat and simply piled up over our heads – even mine. Seemed most of them were animal bones, but I’m sure I saw at least one or two human skulls in there. The camp was surrounded by trails going in and out in almost every direction, and when we’d approached – the area around the camp was just about filled with pit traps and hidden trip lines and things. All those traps were all hidden over with magic – all found real easy by Renee. I’ll tell you whatever sort of magic he has, it’s awful useful.
Over the next week or so we kept going out and trekking along more trails out from that camp – and all that time still no more incidents in the village. We finally figured either the goblins went up north – where there’s a lot more room between the village and the opposite side of the forest – or out east near the other end of the road to Hatchtown. After that we turned the search party into a sort of regular patrol instead, heading out into the Faenwood just a little ways to look for signs of goblins or other problems.
It was around this time that Thorburn called another village meeting, this time to talk about leadership. I have to say that seemed pretty big of him to me since he seemed to pretty well be in charge up to that point. But I think he knew the village needed some kind of formal leadership. He was even the one to suggest a council. So word went round for a couple days that anyone who wanted to be on the council could come out and give a speech to the village, and then we’d all vote on who should get on the council. The turnout was pretty good. I think I even spied Renee a little ways outside the crowd – and standing with Salisia Cotschild at that.
I’ll admit I went up and gave a little speech myself. I think at the time I had some delusion that maybe I have a level head and some bit or two of wisdom. Seems the village didn’t agree – and that’s probably for the best. After all I think I was the newest resident of the village at that time – aside from little Vitra Roulut, but she couldn’t even walk yet.
The end result was a pretty reasonable one. First, and almost unanimously, the Watch got a seat – to be filled by whoever its head representative is in the village at the time. At the time, of course, that meant Thorburn – or I suppose a surrogate when he goes to Hatchtown for supplies. The second elected was Englebard Tosio. Makes sense there too – he’s old, respected, and real practical from what I hear.
The next vote didn’t go by with as big a win, but Natia Casward got voted on. She appealed to the miners, I’d say, talking about how the mine is essential to this village and she thinks the council needs a representative of the mine on it. I can’t say she was wrong about that, but I think electing a Casward put a real sour taste in most peoples mouths. One way or another, she won, but she only made it on by a dozen votes or so.
I don’t remember the order of all the others, but Ossian Goema and Kelsa Wostren both made it onto the council as well. They’re both pretty well respected around here I suppose. I have my own opinions, but all in all I think the council turned out well.
Well after the council was elected and day or so went by for them to put their things in order, there was a trip to Hatchtown. At this point it was almost a fortnight since we’d seen a goblin anywhere near the village, but no telling if the roads would be so kind. Thorburn was going, of course – always needs to keep the general store’s stock up, besides which he makes a few extra coins on the side making trades on behalf of people like me and Damionne who sometimes need supplies but don’t have much time to go get them.
I was surprised to hear Salisia Cotschild was also going, but apparently she’d asked Magnus to teach her to do magic like he does, and she had some supplies she needed to get. Natia Casward was headed to talk to some of Edivard’s old business contacts – I guess she wanted to tell them about the new management in person. And they took along four more members of the watch. I can’t rightly say whether Magnus or Salisia was the one to convince Renee to tag along as one of their bodyguards, but some way or another he was heading along.
Turns out it was a more eventful trip than expected. Some goblins came and tried to strike a deal with them one night. The goblins were apparently ready to stop the fightin’ and Thorburn didn’t turn that down, but from what I hear he gave them a real hard line. They stay a half-nights travel outside the village, and if they come any closer the village can react how it likes. Way I hear it Goblins took that like a territory line, though, so it sounds like aside from the road’s, a half-night out from the village is about the deepest anyone should want to go into that forest from now on.
I also hear there were some knights in Hatchtown, apparently just about to go out looking for the two that got burnt up. Turns out those two were knights, and were themselves out looking for the wagon drivers who never came back. Well the way I hear it Thorburn sat down and told their commander all about the troubles we’d been having, and she swore she’d come back to investigate these woods after she reported to her superiors. She said spring, but I’m skeptical. Elimet Vimir was the name I think. You’d have to ask Thorburn to be sure though.
Well after the Hatchtown group returned we had a couple weeks of peace and quiet. The town calmed down a bit. The council got a group together to start building a town hall that sounds like its gunna be real good for everyone. A place for the council to meet, for the town to hold gatherings, and to store extra supplies for the village. I have to say I’m looking forward to it. Might lend a hand now and then to building it – who knows.
During all that the village got back to old habits too. Gossip kicked back up again, and the biggest topic of conversation was Salisia Cotschild and Renee Simon. Sometime when I was distracted with all that search party business, seems Salisia had moved back into her parent’s house, and even planted up some flowers around it like she was hoping to pretty the place up in their memory or some such. Still sweet as honey, that Salisia. Anyway, after they got back from Hatchtown, people started seeing Renee going over to her home in the evenings, and leaving the next mornings.
At first the rumor mill was pretty tame, talkin about how comforting it must be for her to get to spend time with someone who’s been through that sort of stuff before. But the day everyone saw the two of them carrying furniture from her house out to his the talk turned a little more… well lets say it turned a little less polite. I don’t think there’s anything to worry though. From what I’ve seen Renee’s a good guy, and Salisia’s no fool. I just figure they’d rather be lonely together.