Chapter 2: The Baen

By: Patrick Madden and Matt Benzio

horizontal rule

Scar awoke to the blinding rays of the sun; an awful burning sensation ran over his body.  Fearing the worst, Scar leapt up to view his surroundings.  Relief came over him at realization that he was standing on the sandy floor of a rocky canyon.  Looking down, he also realized that he was completely naked, except for a loincloth.  Malix began to stretch, when a great burning feeling came over his back.  He felt his back, and realized that he had a fresh scar, with caked, dried blood, up the length of his spine.  Scar realized that this could only be another present from that bastard of a captain, Sove.

            Malix began to scratch his head and then he thought, ‘what kind of sick joke is this.’  He spent the next few hours wandering his surroundings.  Then he concluded that ‘I must be somewhere in the Sentinel Mountains, near the Baen Desert.’

            Malix spotted a trail heading in a northwest direction, and began to follow it.  He hoped it would lead out of the mountains and back to Khenshire.  After a two-day journey, he saw in the distance a large boulder blocking the way forward.  Malix looked around and found an outcropping of rocks to the east of him that he could climb up to and get a better vantage point.  When he got to the top of the outcropping, he looked forward and saw a small cave a bit beyond the boulder.  ‘I wonder what lives in there?’ thought Malix.  His question was answered several minutes later as a huge desert troll climbed out of the cave.  The troll began to sniff the air, obviously, he had caught a scent of Malix.  So, greatly disappointed, Malix crept down the outcropping and headed southeast, away from the troll.  He spent the next day putting distance between himself and the beast.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Scar was in dire straits.  He had been in the canyon’s mazes for over a week now.  The sun continued to bake his already parched skin, the previous day's sandstorm had left his eyes irritated, and abrasions all over his body.  The sand made Malix itch, but he feared the slightest scratch would cause layers of his skin to peel.  But these were the least of his worries.  Delirium, brought on by the relentless sun, was his enemy now.  The cactus berries he had eaten staved off death, but dehydration was still a threat.  He had crossed a lizard, and had stalked it, hoping to smash it with a rock.  But an emerging sentinel scorpion took his meal. 

Only one thing kept Scar's focus on his goal...  hatred.  He hated his former Captain, who undoubtedly was behind this cruel punishment, and the dwarf who had ruined his chance at finishing the Captain off.  Hatred drove Malix on through the night's chilling winds and into the next morning's sun.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Malix could scarcely believe his eyes as he rounded the bend; a stream ran up ahead in the valley!  Without thinking twice, Malix darted out to the water, dropping to his knees and dousing himself with cupped hands.  On a rocky outcropping above the stream, several hundred yards away, two goblins witnessed Scar's dash.  The sight was particularly unnerving to them, and they scurried to inform their superiors.   

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            "Boss, boss!” cried the two goblins as they entered the lair of their master.  "Human at the stream!” cried the first to enter. 

            “Huge...  no clothes!” gasped the second.  Their master took several seconds to ponder this information.  He was small, even for goblin standards, and his purple cloak contrasted his bright green skin and the drab colors worn by his fellows.  A Sorcerer by title, he retained innate magic abilities, the most powerful and feared of his clan. 

            “This human is a sign”, the goblin Sorcerer declared, looking to his left to see the approving nod of an acolyte shaman, “He brings victory, we have foreseen it!”  Whoops and cheers came from goblins in the cave; some fell onto their knees and began to pray. 

            “I want to see this human in combat”, The Sorcerer said to the acolyte, “Get five warriors and challenge him.”

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Malix had taken his fill of the stream's water, and had now jumped in to soothe his parched skin.  He also thought about what to do next.  He also began to wonder if others might call this stream home, and become angered by his presence.  No sooner had this thought came, than Scar spotted several small, armed figures moving down the western hillside at a fast pace.

            ‘Damn!’ he thought, ‘I can never get out of this water and to any defensible position in time.’  He rushed out of the stream and toward the hillside, trying to get as close to the rocks as possible.  Looking back over his shoulder, Scar identified the creatures as goblins from their appearance and stature.  He had never actually seen any of the rare creatures, but had heard of their wicked ways...  which intrigued him.  If Scar had been at full strength he could have easily made the rock on the eastern hillside, but as it was he turned and made his stand forty yards from it. 

            A single goblin came in at first, a rare occurrence, only because he faced an unarmed opponent.  The goblin made several strikes at Scar with his spear, sizing up his opponent, before coming up at his throat with the wicked blade.  Scar easily turned it aside with an open palm, pulling the goblin toward him for an unsuspecting right hook that knocked the creature flat on his back.  Scar, with serrated spear now in hand, skewered the screaming goblin...  stopping the next two in their tracks.  A spear flew at him next, which he easily dodged, but a second spear caught him in the thigh.  Yanking the weapon out, Scar held it menacing pointed down at the goblins, ignoring the blood and pain from the wound.  The goblins looked at each other, then back toward the rocky outcropping where their masters stood.  Gulping, they pulled out short swords and approached with their wooden shields forward.  The spear was not Scar's first weapon, and he rarely fought hand-to-hand with it, but he would have to manage.  Almost immediately he struck a goblin on the shoulder, but received a slash on the arm.  After several more minutes of melee he drew in the wounded goblin, thrusting his spear past the shield and driving it into the creature's neck.  Seeing this, the other goblin turned to flee.  A wide grin came over Scar's face as he hurled his spear into the back of the goblin, lifting it off the ground and into the stream. 

            Then, several arrows came whizzing by Malix's position, one catching him in the chest.  Diving to the ground, Malix pulled out the barbed arrow and spotted a black ichor in the wound.

            "Poison...,” thought Malix as he drifted off into unconsciousness...                   

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Malix awoke to find himself in a cave, his hands and feet bound.  The awful stench of the place was the first thing he noticed.  A goblin adorned in a purple cloak with black trim approached Malix, speaking in the common tongue. 

            "I goblin Sorcerer, Ut-gik-Mugga, this my tribe" he stated with an evil grin.

            "So what do you want with me, Sorcerer?" asked Scar sternly.  The other goblins looked amongst themselves at the prisoner's tone.  The Sorcerer grinned wickedly and began to mumble and make hand gestures.  Scar assumed he was spellcasting, but he had never actually had experience with magic before.  A wizard lived in his hometown of Calder, but he had no dealings with the man.  A sudden feeling crept into the mind of Scar, a feeling of ease in regard to the goblin Sorcerer...  a feeling of understanding.

            Two goblins came to Scar and unbound him.  His first thought was escape...  but for some reason this seemed unimportant.  Others brought him some food, undoubtedly spoiled, but he devoured it without a care.  After finishing, the purple-robed goblin asked him to follow him into another chamber.  Scar felt compelled to follow, now realizing that he was under the effects of some enchantment, but unable to resist. 

            "Arm yourself, we fight soon" stated The Sorcerer.  Then he left, placing guards on the room.  All about the room were scattered weapons and armor, mostly humanoid and of poor quality.  Malix managed to uncover a broadsword, although rusted, and a wooden shield.  He found a suit of studded leather, fit for an orc, which would have to do.  Scar was not about to go into battle without some sort of armor, but he elected to not wear a helmet on account of the stench they possessed.

            Scar spent the next few days regaining his strength and training with his new weapons and armor.  He was always guarded, The Sorcerer his only visitor, who would merely watch with a toothy grin.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            “Boss Garsnitch moves a small scouting force around to the south” a gobyln blurted out excitedly to the Sorcerer, “fifteen strong, master.”

            “Take ten and ambush them at the flat rock” replied The Sorcerer, “I will send the human with you.  Your time is over Garsnitch,” he thought to himself.

            About five years ago, the Sorcerer had tried to take control of the clan from Boss Garsnitch, with his control magics.  However, Garsnitch knew too well the Sorcerer’s tricks.  So, somehow, the Boss had gained a bracelet that would protect him from the Sorcerer’s enchantments.  When the time came the Sorcerer attempted to use his magic on the Boss, but it failed.  Then he used magic to detect what was stopping him and it turned out to be the bracelet he was wearing.  A fight broke out, but the Sorcerer and Garsnitch had gotten away.  A number of the clan followed the Sorcerer, and from that time on the Sorcerer and Garsnitch had been staunch enemies, each trying to eliminate the other.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            The Sorcerer entered Scar’s chamber with a wicked smile on his face.

            “We attack enemy goblins, you fight,” the Sorcerer ordered, “when they run, you return, no chase.”

            Scar wanted to resist, he fought only his own battles, but the enchantment compelled him.  He also wanted to know more about the coming fight, but escorts quickly ushered him outside the cave complex, where ten goblin soldiers awaited.  They set out at once, under the cover of darkness, to the south.  They stopped upon a large, flat rock, covered with vegetation, and took up position.  Luckily for Scar, the moon was nearly full this night, which afforded him some degree of vision. 

            After a long wait, the sound of goblin clatter from the south was heard.  A single scout was sent up the flat rock, and he was abruptly met with several spears in his skull.  The goblins erupted in wild screams as they hurled spears and sling stones at their oncoming foes.  Scar had positioned himself to the left-flank of the rock, recognizing it as the easiest approach, and he waited for his prey.  Scar heard the frantic rush of a goblin reaching his position, and he arose from the bushes with a slash that felled the first.  The next two goblins that approached were confused at the sight of the towering human, and Malix took full advantage by pressing his attack.  He hacked down one goblin, causing the other to flee, but remembered his orders not give chase.

            The battle ended quickly, with the rival tribe fleeing, leaving five of their number, Scar’s side taking no losses.  They returned victorious to their cave with bestial shouts.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            “Now I’ve got ‘dat fool right where I want ‘em” shouted Boss Garsnitch to his cohorts.  “He’s holed-up in a cave I know very well” Boss Garsnitch stated slyly, “there is a secret entrance!”  The eyes of each goblin in the room widened and hideous grins formed at the idea of catching their opponents by surprise.  “The main force will attack the cave, then fall back to draw ‘em out” instructed the overly fat humanoid, “the rest of ya will come with me through the secret entrance.  We’ll catch that purple skrell from behind, and I’ll wring ‘is neck myself!” bellowed the goblin chieftain. 

            “But what of this human?” asked one of the two tribal shamans to his right.  With an angry scowl the chieftain retorted “Foul magiks from ‘dat Sorcerer, but me and me alone rules this clan, not some usurper magician!”  With that, the rest of Garsnitch’s warriors applauded with shouts and curses on the Sorcerer.             

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Scar was awoken from his sleep to the infernal sound of gobyln clatter; the chamber already filled with goblins, scurrying to gather up weapons and armor.   The gobylns had no concept of privacy, and this irked Malix.  The Sorcerer appeared and beckoned him.

            “Come with me, we are attacked!” The Sorcerer said with excitement in his eyes.  Reaching the outer cave Scar viewed the conflict.  Several fires had already been set in the scrub brush below that allowed Scar to see on this cloudy night.  The defending gobylns were scattered along a perimeter using ranged weapons to pin down the attackers as they advanced up the hill.  A clear path existed toward the left flank, and nearly a dozen goblins had amassed under cover here.  The Sorcerer turned his attention to this spot and the area suddenly fell into the blackest of darkness.  To the extreme right, eight goblins moved along a treacherous ledge leading directly to the cave entrance.  The Sorcerer spotted this error in his defense.  From Scar’s view, a smoke-like cloud began to form over the advancing goblins.

            “Stop them from getting up here!” spat The Sorcerer to Scar, and he was compelled to obey.  Scar moved to the edge, cutting off the path.  The ledge was not scaleable for a human, and only one goblin at a time could confront him.  The goblins had now entered the mysterious cloud, and he watched many of the goblins fall from the ledge and onto the rocks below.  The first goblin emerged from the cloud slightly disoriented, and Scar came upon him.  A look of dread came across the greenskin’s face as Scar slashed into its chest, sending it off the ledge.  Two more goblins emerged from the cloud retching; grabbing their throats and stomachs.  Scar was impressed by the Sorcerer’s magic.  The first goblin stumbled toward the end of the ledge, trying to keep his footing, but was cut down easily by Scar.  The second kept its distance, so Scar hurled a spear at it, but it missed.  A second spear was on target, striking the goblin’s arm, putting it off-balance and over the edge.  Both the cloud and the rest of the goblins were now nowhere to be found.

            The attackers were now in full retreat from a group of ogre warriors, illusions created by the Sorcerer, and the defending tribe gave chase.  The Sorcerer kept back only Scar, the acolyte shaman, his lead warrior and an assistant, and three archers.  Those goblins that were on the ledge were too busy watching the chase to notice the group approaching from inside the cave.  One archer turned around just in time to be struck by an arrow and several sling stones.  His death screams alerted the rest to the presence of their former master, flanked by a dozen others.

            “Traitor!” barked Boss Garsnitch at the purple-cloaked goblin, “You die now!”  Outnumbered by the tribe’s best warriors, the four remaining fighters aligned with the Sorcerer dropped their weapons and fell to their knees begging mercy.  The shaman, looking frantically for an escape route, decided to follow suit and began groveling.

            “Hold them, so I can escape!” the Sorcerer cried at Scar, as he began inching away.  This was a fatal mistake.  At this moment Scar realized the full measure of the enchantment placed upon him, and this angered him.  It was not in the character of Malix Carthwright to hold back a dozen well-armed goblins so that another may escape.  He was no martyr.  Scar broke the charm spell and lashed out against the Sorcerer with his broadsword, sending him tumbling down the hillside.

            Shocked expressions filled the faces of all the other goblins, including Garsnitch, they looked amongst each other with confusion.  Seconds later, Scar ran down the hillside after the fallen Sorcerer, which further stunned the goblins.  He did this for several reasons, the foremost being that he wanted revenge for his enslavement.  He also wanted to stop any further castings from the Sorcerer, and to put some distance between him and the other goblins.

            Scar approached the goblin Sorcerer, who was already to his feet and gesturing a spell, but his concentration was broken by a heavy slash on the wrist.  The following fury of Scar’s broadsword resulted in the beheading of the goblin.  Then he lifted the head of Ut-gik-Mugga to the on-looking goblins above.  Boss Garsnitch held a wicked smile… 

          *            *          *          *          *          *          *

            “What shall we do with him?” a shaman asked of Boss Garsnitch.

            “And what of the traitor goblins?” asked the other shaman.

            “No goblins shall be executed!” decreed the Boss; “we need their numbers to position against the orcs!  Even with ‘em, our tribe’s barely fifty now; had nearly a hundred before this war!”  The Boss stopped to utter a silent curse against the Sorcerer, the cruelest of all curses against the goblin dead.  The Boss continued saying “the acolyte is yours.”

            “The traitor will be sacrificed!” the shamans cried with glee.

            “And the human?” asked one of the Boss’s stern faced bodyguards.

            Boss Garsnitch turned to the shamans and said, “we find ‘em out tomorrow.”

horizontal rule