Long story short: we killed the Duke of Roses! He didn’t say he was it, but dammit, I’m making that little shit royalty. Didn’t even get scratched, either… then again, I was asleep for half of it.
So I guess they let me sleep in. Woke up to see Neal’s hole fire having long since gone out. Justin was already climbing up a tree, holding a bag with his stuff. Everyone else did likewise, so that no animals would mess with anything. Once we were all set, we swam over to the big island, trying to stay quiet.
Came up on the east side of the island in a swampy/muddy area. Lots of brambles, but we eventually found a good spot to climb on at. Made our way inland, trying to be quiet. As usual, I was not successful (sigh).
Came across an open area in the center of the island with some small tiki huts, each about the size of our shed. In the distance, the grassy area sloped up to what I assume is the peak of the island. Off to the left, there was a beach or landing, presumedly how they get off the island. Couldn’t see any goblins.
Emily and Justin went around the right side to get a better view, hanging just out of sight of the tree-line. Still nothing, so they came back. We went down to the landing to see if there was any evidence of them being gone. Nothing there either.
Justin went up the slope to peak over the edge, and immediately got shot by some arrows, so he came running back. I was midway up the hill and started running forward. Swore I heard Neal saying “Grass of Aginoth!”, as a grass corn-maze type thing suddenly appeared in front of me. It was perfectly placed to give Justin a way back, arrow-free. I went up to meet the charge, but didn’t see anything.
Learned someting about illusions, by the way. Here, they’re no David Copperfield trick of the mind. I tried making my way through the grass but had a tough time. It was so real! Kept telling myself that it was one of Neal’s illusions … finally it worked.
Saw a glimpse of the goblin archers going down some zip-wires from the tree-tops they were in and ran back on some path leading out of the grassy area back there. We knew it was a trap, but this is what we came here for. However, we weren’t going to just waltz in … we’re not that stupid.
We snuck through the forest to the left of the path … however, there was one flaw in our plan – me. I still have no idea how they keep so quiet.
The path opened up to another grassy area, filled with black rose hedges. They were all neatly trimmed, manicured, and looked like something out of the Renaissance. We could see the two goblins hiding behind some of the bushes, one on either side. In the middle was a rose bush, which I think turned into the 3ft dark elf who was the Duke of Roses.
Next thing I kow, I’m on the ground with Neal screaming over me “Wake up!”. Looked over to see Justin asleep too, but more importantly, I see one of the goblins in front of me. I get up, quickly engaging, but the drowniness keeps me from getting many solid hits.
The Duke of Roses and Emily are battling it out in the center. She casts her fan of flames around the entire area, and the elf screams. Guess he has a weakness…
I wake up Justin, and tell him to help Emily, as Neal and I (eventually) take care of the goblin. Neal breaks away and yells “Apache Chief!”. His scorpion grows to become giant and charges out there. In response, black mist pours out of the elf, obscuring the entire area, along with Emily and Justin.
As we finish off the goblin, the Duke appears out the left side. I’m about to charge in, but he sees us and tries to negotiate. I laugh, but then Neal tells me “he’s not such a bad guy”, that “everything he did is understandable”, and “why don’t we just take the stuff and leave”. I tell him how insane that is, but he keeps trying to convince me. Eventually, I say ‘screw it’, and just charge in (with of course Neal yelling at me from his place at the forest edge “we could all be friends!”).
He tried to cast an illusion of goblin reinforcements, but I keep trying to tell myself it was an illusion. Luckily, I was right. We battled in melee for a bit, but then I got a lucky hit, practically gutting him with one my shockSaber program. By this time, the mist was down.
As the mist cleared, I swore I saw Justin concentrating on a rose bush, but I’m not sure. In that split second that I look away, he makes a break for it. I couldn’t get to him in time, so I do the next best thing – throw my shield. Miss him by a few inches, but I have to admit it was a decent throw. He falls. I didn’t see who did it (though I know it wasn’t Neal… who screams “Nooooooo” as he falls).
So there we were, having killed the Duke of Roses. Everyone looks pretty beat up… Emily got to have the healing potion. I think it’s safe to say that everyone had a sense of mortality during that fight… seemed to make this whole journey more real.
Emily started searching the area. Eventually we all came to the conclusion that she did … anyone who would have a pristine throneroom such as this would want to remain close to their valuables. Neal eventually dug under the rosebush, found a secret room underneath – the kings stash! We found everything from the cart! And some extra too – guessing it was stash taken from other carts.
Neal would hand stuff to Justin to take up. Justin would then bring it up using his teleport ability, then I would organize it into groups up top. Emily was off trying to figure out how we could get it outta here.
Once that was done, we spent much of the afternoon taking it to the dock so we could load it onto the goblins canoes. We had gone over quick to the other island to grab our stuff and the one canoe we had taken.
However, as we were starting to pack the canoes, we had a visitor. A little cat-sized black dragon (yes, I said a dragon!) hovered before us, though the head was more skull-like with sunken eyes. Said his name was “Ritaxis the Magnificent” (or whatever he called himself), and demanded payment for him sparing our lives.
Of the eight bags of gold we had gotten from the goblin’s treasure-trove, he only saw two. He would’ve seen only one, but Neal didn’t hide the one he was carrying the best.
After paying the damn dragon, we started off. Since we were now in boats in the lake, we decided to straight-shoot it to the river entrance. Was going to take us a little farther and longer, but it would save us a lot more time in the long run, especially if we had to haul these canoes up the river (which we were not looking forward to…).
The dragon had other plans though. Guess he figured out we had more gold… He attacked us in our wooden canoes. Guess I’m glad he didn’t breathe fire… We kept him at bay for a minute or so through a distraction that Neal and I prepared.
Then we learned dragons can swim (seems really odd to me still, thinking back on it). He came shooting out of the water and attacked Justin. As he was attacking him, I was able to slow down my canoe. As Justin teleported away, the dragon started to become off-balance with the removal of weight, and started falling into the water.
Just as I got there. Not sure if it was a lucky strike of not, but I shockSaber’d my sword, and hit him in just the right spot, electrocuting it and frying it’s insides.
Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we got to shore. I stayed up all night, wanting to get this story told. Hoping when we get back I’ll use it to write a book, as I think this story would sell.
We’ll see how tomorrow and the journey back goes…