The battle is all around them now, as goblins rush the pile of rocks from every side. Boars peel off, squealing, as their riders leap off. The goblin war leader advances deliberately, letting the underlings form the initial rush. The shaman hovers on a block of phantasmal earth, surveying the battle. The elite core of the war party reaches the boulders first, and the first few begin to climb. They are met by the staunch shield and deadly blade of Cuts, along with the killing cold of Kane’s aura. Nithauk hurls poisoned javelins, employing the weapons of the gnolls. All accompanied by the rousing battle songs Mikal sings for them. Ezio and hang back at first, ready to back up their allies if the goblins gain the rock. Alar is similarly patient, waiting as long as possible before revealing himself.
The battle rages fiercely, with two and three goblins falling to dead for each minor cut or blow suffered by our heroes. Time and again the savage goblinoid warriors tumble from the faces of the boulders, dislodged by harsh strikes and befuddling bardic magic. And amidst all this, the steady onslaught of Kane’s spells. Steadily, the war party is whittled down in number. And then the fatal blow to their seemingly unshakable morale. The shaman is struck down, its ritual dissipating and its last breath a fading curse in its own tongue. As ferociously as the goblins had given themself to the battle, they now gave themselves to flight. Some even risking broken bones to leap from the rocks. Hurling themselves into the saddle, they drive their squealing boars to a frenzy of speed, riding hard to the north.
The elite warrior of the goblin tribe fight on, but now they are hard pressed. Even with their massive war chieftain striking out to brutal effect, and their archer harrying our heroes, the goblins’ cause is lost. When the chieftain falls, and Alar’s arrows bring down the last of the elites, the archer surrenders. Badly bloodied, gasping for breath and feeling lucky to be alive, our heroes descend from their perch. The face of the rock pile is slick with blood, and goblin dead litter the ground. Even as they take stock of their own injuries, Mikal is composing the first stanza of a poem about the battle. Such a fearsome battle deserves a ballad as epic in proportion.
As they gather around the surrendered archer, they feel a curious thing. Standing within the aura of the black rock, the ache of their wounds abates, and their cuts cease to bleed with astonishing speed. It is as if the divine power lingering in the stone, this shard of a fallen god, enhances the healing energies of the body. They recover at twice the rate they normally would, and within minutes the worst of their injuries are made well. The goblin archer is similarly healed, and the stone’s power seems indiscriminate. Such magic explains the lush vegetation in this otherwise relatively sparse savanna, as well as the plentiful game. Ambient arcane energy, a splinter of the full power a deity possesses, has turned this rocky hillock into a verdant oasis. What this might have to do with a tribe of goblins bearing a crude insignia of the black rock is of some interest. With Mikal as translator, our heroes turn their attention to their prisoner.