The company climbed the narrow ladder skillfully down to the rocky surface below. The cave started in a large dome, opening far above and wide beyond a narrow, dangerous, and foggy bridge. Ahead was only a lit door, but it was soon discovered that the door was being opened by goblins. Kraiven approached silently, quickly exterminating two of them with deft tosses of his stars. The fog concealed him and the others as they continued their approach toward the panicked, confused creatures.
The door was open enough and others poured out. Skullcleavers, Sharpshooters, and Cutters poured out onto the wide ledge. Their parcels, two more of their slave women shuffled behind them, nude and bound. Johann Van Der Pol got to work with a giant rolling ball of fire as Erik Alain and Fenix charged forward, ready for battle.
It was a massacre. They made quick death of each goblin. They were burned to death, split in half by Erik’s greataxe, smashed by Fenix’s hammer, sliced open by Kraiven’s dagger, or simply knocked off the edge. A goblin Helix couldn’t even compete.
The two ladies were not Jennifer Mae Watson or Linda Watson (the mother and younger sister of Marianne Watson, respectively) but young victims Marina and Beatrice. They were kidnapped from a village to the far west of Cenandira. Abducted in the night by goblins, they had been imprisoned for two days living blindly in filth while being handled by the creatures. The others girls, though never actually seen, had explained the situation. The goblins were harvesting women to be sold by a trafficking ring. Some were bought through auctions and others are transported to Argrim, a seedy city on the western end of the continent. They had heard but the nickname “ The Father of the Ocean” as well. Maybe it was just lost in translation.
They had to move forward past the door to find them. They came to another room. Surrounded by a northern, eastern, and western door, the cave’s central area revolved around a shallow stone pool, presumably for drinking water. It was green, still, and stagnant. Each wooden door had a torch to its left. Kraiven went for the eastern, but even his skill with the secure proved ineffective against the lock. Fenix took to the western.
He unfortunately was not as careful. Upon opening the door he heard a loud CLANG followed by a thump. The screams, though seemingly muffled by rags erupted in cries of agony. The door revealed a bucket of oil spilled and an accompanying torch. The resulting fire had taken a hold of the surrounding area of straw and filth. The heat pushed him back as the soft, curvy bodies of ten women began to writhe in flame. The cries were that of pure, inescapable pain.
Johann quickly summoned a bucket and the dirty water served to save six women. Though four of them remained burned beyond movement, two were only seriously wounded. Jenny and Linda. They endured terrible things, but couldn’t have been happier to see them. Their story matched the others’, but they would finally be saved. However…not before these other rooms were checked out.
The northern room was next. Erik Alain was tired of the pussyfooting and attempted to push past Kraiven’s careful inspection of the door. They smashed into the door with a loud thud and whatever was behind it erupted in a snort…and continued its labored breathing. Something slept on the other side. Something big.
They adopted the careful approach again and snuck inside. A hobgoblin Commander lay slumbering upon straw and dainty bones. A key hung on his waist. Kraiven was careful to get near him and snatch it away easily. Fenix did more than emulate the silent approach and managed to surpass the silence of any of the others, seeming like the wind. Erik stumbled behind, but did not wake the beast.
The company had what they wanted. It was time to secure their position. Fenix’s hammer floated above the Hobgoblin’s forehead. A breath in and out later it had found the face of the creature with more force than anticipated.
Its face collapsed and its final breath began a river of blood from each orifice. He was successfully killed in his sleep. Not a drop of sweat was shed at his expense. They took his money and a note describing a dropoff to be done the following evening to a man called The Father of the Ocean. It was written by Wilhelm Van Der Pol himself.
The last door was all that remained.
The western door could finally be opened. The key turned and the trapless entrance revealed two large wooden boxes. A little force caused one to open, revealing brown sacks not filled with coin…but with The Demon’s Dust. A highly sought for, illegal, and expensive drug. The operation not only dealt women, but narcotics. Fenix had to try for himself and the resulting energetic, collapsing, dark trip led him to fight his friends. It took time for him to come back. This was good stuff.
They took their bounty and saved the women. Back at the carriage above, everyone was safe albeit hurt. They began their ride back toward Cenandira.
“What the hell are we gonna do with all these drugs and bitches?” asked Kraiven.
The results of their decision could result in riches, fame….or catastrophe.