The autumnal leaves drifted down from the trees surrounding the ruins of Ravenscar, yellow, red and golden colours that created a pattern across the muddy, grassy slope that lead to the mud-filled moat that surrounded the ancient keep. Along the ruined walls nothing could be seen, and the only clue that there was anyone inside was the faint drift of smoke that floated on the breeze from inside the courtyard.
The party of adventurers moved into the cover under the trees, shielded from watchful eyes by the low-hanging branches, the rubble, and the sunlight coming from the West, blinding anyone (or anything) that might have looked their way. Alf thought he spotted something moving in the rubble midway along, where stones had fallen into the moat to create a ford across the deep mud. Alf and Willow made their way across the rubble that dammed the river, keeping low behind the boulders so that no one could see them. At the other end they peered across the moat, and saw a lone fir darrig standing guard, half-hidden in the rubble across the moat. Alf waved Ratkin over, and he scurried across unseen.
“See if you can get him to come over here,” whispered Alf, “and then we’ll jump him.”
Ratkin popped his head out, caught the eye of his former allies, and beckoned him over. The fir darrig, rather than simply abandon his post and scurry over, disappeared into the ruins. Ratkin ducked back behind the rocks, while Alf and Willow kept an eye out. They saw the rat-goblin return, together with a worg. The two of them crossed the ford and started towards the dam, the worg sniffing, both cautious. As soon as they were in range, before either could do more than look around suspiciously, Alf and Willow leapt out and attacked with spear and sword, while Ratkin popped up and let loose with his bow: the two enemy died swiftly, but not before they let out a howl and a call for help. Alf and Willow grabbed the bodies and pulled them out of sight, dumping the bodies into the marshy ground alongside the river bank. There they waited, as the others moved on the the dam, joining their companions.
Callum, using the invisibility cube, stood up and kept watch. At first he saw nothing, but then notice several fir darrig had scaled the old keep’s walls and were crouching atop the crumbled stone, bows ready to let loose arrows.
A few minutes later, another goblin and worg cautiously moved across the ford, carefully looking about. Everyone had moved onto the dam now, keeping behind the rocks until someone made a move. As the two foes moved closer, the worg growling that something was wrong, the heroes attacked!
Magnus rose from behind the rubble like some apparition, and let loose with a burst of magic missiles, taking out one of the goblins on the wall, blasting it into the air to crash inside the keep with a thud that echoed through the ruins. The other goblins retaliated, arrows finding their mark: both Ratkin and Magnus were grazed by sharp arrow heads that whistled past. Callum, using the Ring of Many Colours let loose with a bolt of lightning, but the wall was too far, and the ill-judged blast fell short. More arrows flew from the walls, striking Ratkin and Magnus again, and the mage blasted one back, knocking it off the wall and to its death on the grass below. Meanwhile, the others moved in to attack: Alf, Willow and Jacob leapt at the investigating fir darrig and worg, blows swooping too high or low, jabs dodged, and thrusts parried.
The sounds of battle sounded across the ruins and echoed down the valley.
Callum pulled out his bow and shot an arrow into a goblin. Magnus slew another with more magic missiles, and Ratkin, injured and bleeding, scurried down the rocks and out of sight. Willow scored the first hit in the five-way fight, his sword cutting a deep wound into the worg’s side. Magnus took another arrow, and blasted his attacker back with yet another magic missile, the goblin frazzled as it fell dead. Callum, fearing for his friend’s health, thrust the magic ring into his hands, then advanced towards the fight below the dam. Jacob, with a mighty swing, slew the worg and the other goblin tried to retreat, but was cut down. Alf and Willow headed towards the ford, spotting more worgs on the other side, who retreated into the courtyard.
While Magnus used the ring to heal himself, the others were moving on. As Callum stood on the far side of the moat, keeping an eye out, he saw several fir darrig popping up in the trees and rubble. He drew aim on one, and shot it straight out of the tree. Alf, Willow and Jacob scrambled across the moat and entered the ruins. Magnus and Ratkin (still keeping low) followed. The mage fired off a final spell, striking one of the retreating worg’s with a magic missile.
Alf and Willow moved alongside the wall inside the courtyard, the only one still standing. Alf saw a fir darrig at the top of the wall, and ducked as an arrow flew towards him. Willow stepped around the sloping rocks that led to the top and came face-to-face with another goblin. Now, others started to appear, rising out of the debris, bows in hand. A wagon stood near the ancient statue of the Raven King; from inside an elf rose, none other than Applepip. He let loose an arrow, which pinged off Jacob’s shield as the fighter moved into the courtyard, drawing fire from the goblins (all missing spectacularly).
Jacob stood his ground as a worg rushed him, and parried its charge, then cut it down with a strong swing that split the beast in twain. He took an arrow across his chest for his troubles, as did Willow: the goblin the veteran faced shot him at close range, and the watchman leapt over the sloping rocks, his sword swinging down with enough forced to shatter the goblin’s skull. The creature fell dead to the ground.
Alf charged at a worg, his spear leading: he skewered and slew the beast, skidding out of an arrow’s flight he did so, but straight into another. Crossing the moat, Magnus and Callum fired arrows at a goblin and together killed it, and Ratkin hurried across, ducking under cover, feeling worse for wear and clutching his bleeding side.
Another worg charged Alf, whose shield blocked its jaws. He and Jacob turned on it, spear and sword cutting into its flesh. It clawed Alf, growling and panting heavily. Across the courtyard Willow faced another goblin, slaying it, but taking a hit from an arrow as another goblin appeared from the rubble and shot him. Callum killed another goblin, shooting it off the rubble it foolishly stood on. Jacob cut deeply into the worg, and Willow charged in from behind, wounding it further.
Applepip shot Alf, the arrows cutting a deep line of red across his arm. Jacob felt an arrow lodge into his leg, and then a trio of arrows peppered Alf, nearly bringing him to his knees. He rallied and with a mighty thrust of his spear slew the last worg, then called out “Retreat!”
First though, Callum shot Applepip, wounding the elf and delaying him long enough for Willow to move in and cut him down. Then they too started to back away. Ratkin spotted another goblin in a tree and shot him out of it. Willow leapt into the wagon to take down a fir darrig that had moved in there, and spotted Blackberry in the doorway of the keep. The elf cried out as he saw his brother fall, and sent an arrow into Willow’s chest.
Alf managed to get to where Ratkin and Magnus waited, and ducked behind some rocks to take a quaff of healing potion that Ratkin took out. The bravery of Ratkin was received with an arrow for his trouble, but though wounded, he stayed standing and merely stepped back into cover. Callum gave covering fire for Willow and Jacob, both still in the midst of the right, and took out one of the archers; the goblin slumped dead over the rubble it was using as cover. Jacob took another arrow too, and Blackberry took careful aim, and sent an arrow ricocheting off the wall to graze Alf despite his cover.
Then, from the keep stepped two more figures, one that they recognised. That one was Scarlet, the other a spectral and hooded figure, carrying a ghostly spear that looked very much like the one that Alf wielded. A Spirit of the Raven King perhaps? Not wanting to find out, the heroes started to quickly retreat. Callum ran across the courtyard and took an arrow in his leg, but stumbled on to the moat as Ratkin, Magnus and Alf quickly crossed to the other side. Willow and Jacob followed, and to cover their retreat, Magnus used the ring to conjure a globe of darkness that allowed them to jump into the moat and scrambled out and into the surrounding trees, where they quickly fled into the dying sunlight…