Some time ago, before the ogres overran and ruined the province of Land’s Edge
Nitram Tam, novice member of the Bordyr Guard
The patrol moved slowly through the thick brush, hampered by the vines and rocks that lay scattered among the tall trees. Gardain, leader of the three man patrol raised his hand silently, indicating a halt.
Gardain set his bow down within quick reach, and pulled aside some low lying brush. He raised his hand in signal for Mitram to come up beside him. Once Nitram reached his side, Gardain quietly whispered “Look here, the druids spoke truly, the goblin patrol our allies ambushed yesterday came this way”
Nitram looked where the older man pointed, and saw the body of a goblin, greenish yellow skin blending into the brush, shoved under some rocks as if it had been concealed by someone. Nitram was surprised. The southern border of Land’s Edge had been relatively clear of goblins for years, and certainly no organized patrols.
He thought for a moment…
“We should find out where they came from.” Niram whispered to Gardain. “And alert the others.”
Nitram began looking for the golbins tracks. “Where there are goblins, there’s bound to be an ogre” Nitram thought to himself.
Gardain retrieved his bow and stood up. He nodded approvingly at Nitram. Then Gardain signaled to Florist, the third member of the party. Once Florist had crept to the side of the other two, Gardain spoke “Florist, I want you to spend the day journey traveling back to the village of Beltane (their home village) to warn the elders. From the tracks I see here and over there, there may be around three goblins left. They appear to be heading back towards the border and Cragdor, but Nitram and I will follow them to be sure.”
Nitram pointed at an additional set of tracks to their left. Gardain set off to follow the trail, but stopped abruptly as Nitram pointed. He looked down at the new set of tracks. “Ogre, a small one, on a youngling vision quest perhaps, but ogre none the less.” He turned to Nitram and said “These have to be followed, but things just got a lot more dangerous, you don’t have to come with me.”
He waited, looking at Nitram with an upraised eyebrow.
“Do you want to split up so we can follow both sets of tracks or just focus on the ogre first? I think it is the most dangerous.” stated Nitram.
After a moments consideration, Gardain replied “I have every intention on following the ogre, the question is should you?”
“I’m going to follow that ogre. It must not be allowed to hurt anyone here. I’m sure we could catch it quickly.” stated Nitram, as he began to follow the ogre trail.
Gardain frowned at Nitram’s shortness. He walked up alongside Nitram and placed his hand on Nitram’s shoulder. “You may come along, but you will listen to my guidance”
After a couple dozen strides of travel, it became apparent that the goblins and the young ogre were indeed travelling together. Gardain and Nitram followed the tracks most of the afternoon. As the day grew cooler, Gardain signaled a halt.
“We need to proceed quietly, we have been catching up with them. Let’s get to the edge of that grove and look out across the rocks, agreed?”
Nitram looked around the grove to determine if their was a better vantage point to provide some ranged cover to Gardain.
“I think I should provide cover with my bow when we first find or engage these filthy beasts. How would you like to proceed? We might be more successful if you could flank them."
Nitram noticed a raised area of rocks and brush that would let him look out the other side of the grove, and across the lower rocky area. Gardain nodded approvingly, as he worked his way into the waist high brush along the edge of the grove, skillfully remaining out of the line of sight of the clearing, but remaining in eye contact with Nitram (to the right).
As Nitram moved through the brush towards his chosen spot, he used every bit of woodcraft he knew to remain silent. Upon reaching his chosen location, he looked out into the rocky clearing that lay past the grove of trees.
In the rocky clearing Nitram could see (about 80 feet from his position) a group of three goblins with yellowish brown skin building what looked like a firepit, and gathering water from a stream that ran down the middle of the clearing, from Nitram’s left to his right.
Suddenly, from the far side of the clearing (about 120 feet away) a large gray skinned creature with bulging muscles towering over eight feet tall emerged from the forest and brush. Nitram recognized this brute as an ogre, albeit a smaller one. The ogre carried a large spear, but was otherwise dressed in a loincloth and belt with pouches. With what appeared from the distance to be the skull of a snake hanging from a rope necklace around its neck. Tattoos that resembled large snake eyes were inked on either check.
The ogre appeared to frown at the goblins, and paused, sniffing the air.
As Nitram slowly drew an arrow from his quiver and readied his bow, he analyzed the wind to determine if the ogre might be smelling him or Gardain. Nitram looked to see if Gardain was ready and steadied himself for combat.
Nitram carefully checked which way the wind was blowing, and determined that wind was coming from his right and blowing across his field of view. Not directly from him into the clearing, but uncomfortably close to it.
Nitram noticed that Gardain was in position, and seemed to be observing the movements of the vile creatures. The sunlight and the shadows of the trees provide perfect cover for Nitram’s position.
The goblins focused on whatever scraps of food they were preparing, and edged closer to the stream. The ogre took a few steps towards the clearing and then stopped. The brute seemed unnaturally cautious for an ogre in Nitram’s opinion. The ogre bellowed out a command to the goblins who dropped their beginnings of dinner and picked up their short spears, looking around in all directions for whatever had alarmed the ogre.
Seeing the goblins react to the ogres shout of alarm, Nitram loosed his arrow at the nearest goblin. The arrow should have missed, but the unaware goblin failed to move in time, and Nitram’s first arrow caught it in the throat, killing it.
The other goblins squealed in rage and frustration as unseen death rained down upon them. The ogre bellowed again driving them towards the rocks where Gardain was hiding.
Nitram quickly loosed another arrow at the goblin standing in the open next to the stream. Nitram’s arrow flew towards the shambling goblin on his far left, but missed the foul creature by about a foot.
The young ogre stalked furiously across the gravel and grass at the edge of the clearing, moving farther to Nitram’s right, bellowing in anger and pointing in the general direction of Gardain’s hiding spot with his spear.
Gardain moved forward, hoping to slay one of the goblins before they could join forces with each other. He pulled out a vicious looking hand ax and swung at the goblin in front of him, taking a slice out of the goblin’s arm.
The goblin was taken aback by Gardain’s approach, and his slow stab with his spear went wild and missed Gardain completely. But the other goblin crouched low and ran quickly up to Gardain, and stuck his spear into Gardain’s unprotected left side.
Nitram, seeing the ogre moving toward his companion, took careful aim at the large creature. Taking a calming breath and focusing on his hated enemy, he loosed another arrow. It was obvious to Nitram that the calming breath helped his shot. The arrow flew straight and true into the left eye of the young ogre. It screamed in pain and anger, then slowly reached up and ripped the arrow out of its eye, trailing blood in an arc across the grass.
The ogre snarled in common “Huumann, I smell you human, you will pay for da wounding.” It sniffed and squinted in the direction of the grove’s edge. “But first your friend will DIE!” it screamed as it ran across the stream towards Gardain. The ogre whirled its spear around its head ending in a stabbing lunge towards Gardain. The spear head punctures into Gardain’s side, dealing a grievous wound. Gardain looked staggered by the blow, but whipped his ax back and then forward in a mighty blow upon the goblin he already wounded, killing it. The remaining goblin tried to stab Gardain again, but struck only a glancing blow, that Gardain easily parried.
Nitram thought Gardain needed more direct help as he was beginning to take a beating. Nitram began moving toward the melee as he drew another arrow from his quiver and readied himself to fire at the ogre. Nitram moved easily through the underbrush and rushed towards the fight. Reaching the edge of the grove he quickly kneeled and fired an arrow at the ogre. The arrow stabbed deeply into the ogres side, causing another bellow of pain.
The enraged ogre took his spear and jabbed it with a howl of rage that echoed across the grove at Gardain’s stomach. The spear ripped into Gardain’s side as he tried feebly to dodge, and emerged out the other side of his body in a spray of blood. The ogre contemptuously shook Gardain’s body off his spear, and turned to leer at Nitram, grunting a command as he did. The remaining goblin scampered wildly across the brush and rock and stabbed at Nitram with its spear, missing completely.
“Damn ogre”, Nitram thought to himself. “He’s not making this easy”. Nitram dropped his bow and smoothly pulled a wicked looking scimitar from a scabbard at his belt. He continued the motion blending it into an attack on the small, vile creature in front of him. Nitram’s effortless motion sliced the goblin across the chest, instantly killing it.
The ogre looked across the battlefield and at Nitram. “Only the worthy shall live to faight again!!!” the beast shouted as it shambled forward to engage Nitram. As soon as it approached Nitram it whirled its spear around its head ending in a stabbing lunge. The viscous blow staggered Nitram with its ferocity.
The deepening gloom of the day seemed to surround Nitram in a foreboding manner. His focus narrowed to his opponent, but he still could not get the image of Gardain’s fatal wound out of his head. Nitram pushed thoughts of ending like Gardain out of his head and deftly altered his stance, and gripped his bloodied scimitar with both hands. Taking a deep breath, he focused all his remaining strength into finishing the ogre with one final attack. Nitram swung his weapon with all his might, but the massive creature managed to pull back out of the way of the swing with a supreme effort.
The young ogre leaned back forward with a menacing chuckle that taunted Nitram. The creature pointed back towards Gardain without taking its gaze off Nitram, and then jabbed a finger at its current foe. It then stabbed forward with the already bloody head of its spear, an effort that Nitram easily parried with the back-swing of his scimitar.
The rocky clearing seemed eerily quiet, except for the pronounced heavy breathing on the part of the two foes.
With a quick prayer to Rillifane Rallathil, Nitram attacked the ogre once more. Nitram, while chanting lightly under his breath, reversed his parry and swung at the ogre again. Nitram could tell that his blow had nearly finished the ogre, but the creature, staggered and bleeding, raised its spear again for another blow. The creature’s final blow struck Nitram straight in the chest, and with a rushing sound in his ears, and slowly darkening vision, he fell limply to the ground. The last thing he could hear was the chuckling and bubbling laughter of the gravely wounded ogre.
Nitram woke with a pain in his side and the sound of the forest at night in his ears. He felt bruised and battered all over, and felt terribly weak and cold. From what Nitram could tell of his surroundings it must be nearly midnight in the same clearing where he fought the ogre. A glimmer of light from Gardain’s corpse attracted Nitram’s attention, hovering in the air above the corpse’s chest like a firefly, but larger. Nitram struggled to look around to make sure the ogre was gone. He was unable to move much at all, but was curious about the giant firefly and tried to determine was it was.
The ogre was nowhere to be seen, by the amount of blood within the clearing, it had likely crawled off to die. Nitram focused his somewhat blurred vision on the surrounding area. The firely hovered over the corpse of Gardain. Nitram managed to get to his feet, and head to the remains of his mentor. As he looked down on the body, he realized just how old Gardain had become, and how long ago he had been “transferred” to teaching the young men woodcraft.
The glimmering firefly returned, and Nitram saw the small ghostly figure of a girl with wings hovering near Gardain’s cheek (about the size of Nitram’s thumb). The nature spirit flew back and forth between Nitram and Gardain in a sadly flitting manner. It seemed to have the same color glow as the crystal pendant Gardain wore around his neck. A glow which was slowly fading, in both crystal and the translucent girl’s figure. The figure eventually flew up towards Nitram’s face, where it momentarily seemed to grow brighter.
Nitram checked over Gardain to see if there was anything he could do to help his mentor. Nitram attempted first aid upon Gardain’s limp body, hoping against hope that he still lived. After a few moments it was obvious, Gardain was dead.
As Nitram pondered the crystal and the spirit, several things came to mind. The color that infused the faintly glowing sprite was the same color as the ebb and flow of light within the crystal. “Faeries and nymphs can be tied to a location or a tree, perhaps this sprite is tied to the crystal” Nitram thought. “Or perhaps the crystal tied the sprite with Gardain, and now that he’s dead, shes dying!”
The sprite fluttered around Nitram, slowly fading and getting slower, eventually settling upon Gardain’s chest as if she was going to sleep. Nitram quickly removed the crystal pendant from Gardain’s corpse and carefully placed it around his own neck, hopeful that his life might keep the crystal, and therefore the sprite, glowing with life. After placing the crystal around his neck, Nitram felt a slight tingle where the mildly warm gem touched his chest. The sprite glowed with light and a fresh pine smell filled Nitram’s nostrils. The spirit flew around Gardain’s body, then landed one last time upon Gardain’s forehead, before disappearing into the amulet on Nitram’s chest.
Several minutes passed and nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Nitram decided to head back to the home village, Beltane, and pass on word of what had happened.
Nitram turned for a final look at Gardain, and discovered that the body had been buried in vines and roots, in a respectful, almost grave like manner. Wary of traveling in the dark, and still weak from the battle with the ogre, Nitram decided to begin the day’s long journey back to the village.
The next day at the village, all the elders, including Nitram’s father and mother, held a council on the danger of the encroaching goblinoids and what could be motivating them after all the years of quiet. Months and years passed, with more and more scuffles with goblinoids and ogres. But nothing that couldn’t be handled, or so they thought, until the day came that the entire province of Land’s Edge fell to the ogre kingdom.
In the days before and after the fall, Nitram looked and wondered whether the ogre he had fought had survived. There was never any solid answer, but he had heard rumors of a one-eyed ogre shaman rising to power…