Gertie & The Gang

12. Flaming, floating roofs, and fanged, flying bats

Last time on Gertie and the Good Time Brigade, the heroes buckled down to defend the village of Soonsea from an entire goblin army! The first wave of the attack pushed them to the brink and tested their limits. As they tended to their wounds and prepared for the final fight, a new and powerful ally joined their ranks…

In the brief moment of calm, Elvis and Rudolfo grabbed bottles of booze and doused the roof of a house (that lay atop a goblin in the middle of the road). Abit climbed onto a nearby building and prepared to telekinetically float the roof over to the battlefield so he could drop it on the next wave of goblin forces. Gertie climbed next to him to serve as a shield and protector so Abit could focus his concentration.

Helen ran to dig holes hoping they would slow down the goblin forces. As she did so, a strange cloaked figure emerged nearby—he was examining the charred buildings and the dead goblins from the first wave of the attack. This stranger, who was being followed by a tiny green pseudodragon, introduced himself as Sylvan. He and his familiar had been passing through town on his way to Styford and was drawn by the chaos and commotion. Uninterested in his backstory or motivation, Helen asked if he could fight (he could) and then told him to find a position and get ready (he did).

As the others climbed onto roofs and prepared their weapons, a dust cloud in the distance grew closer and closer signalling the approach of the goblin horde. The odd newcomer sent his pseudodragon familiar into the sky to scout the onrushing goblin ranks. They numbered well over 30 and had a chieftain in the back who was wearing a crown of bones and a human skull and holding a very fine, very magical-looking staff.

As soon as the goblins were in range, the heroes let loose arrows and eldritch blasts. The goblins raced forward firing volleys of arrows in return as they ran to the buildings and began climbing up toward the heroes. Abit raised the roof (hehe) and floated it toward Elvis who had a lit torch and was ready to set the roof ablaze. Sylvan used his magic to hypnotize and paralyze a dozen goblins out in the open—giving Abit a perfect clustered target. 

Gertie defended Abit, Pike cast healing spells, and Rudolfo fired his bow. A volley of arrows struck Nezzu, sending the gnome sliding off the roof of the house she stood atop. Nearly dead, she cursed the group and their foolishness and fled into the town (she had proposed raising an undead skeleton army to fight the goblins). Rudolfo and Gertie also faced a barrage of arrows and the dwarf rogue fell next to Elvis who hurled the torch setting the floating roof ablaze (and then tossed a few goblins into the fire for good measure). 

Then the goblin chief began using the strange and powerful staff to hurl volley after volley of magic missiles at the town's defenders. As he did so, an eerie cloud of mist floated behind him back and forth as if surveying the carnage or waiting for…. something.

Pike raced to save the dying Rudy. Elvis dropped his body off the roof and into the gnome cleric's arms just as magic missiles struck him and Helen and Sylvan. The young warlock and his pseudodragon began heading out into the fray and shouted for others to help him get the staff. 

Abit, always a fan of a hair-raising stunt, hurled the flaming roof at the cluster of stunned goblins killing nearly a dozen in one fell swoop. Immediately after, he hurled himself off the roof, caught up with Sylvan and cast dimension door, lurching the two of them forward a hundred feet right into the face of the goblin chieftain. 

Abit and Sylvan cut into the boss as the others began thinning the goblin ranks and maybe… just maybe… turning the tide. But then shit got crazy! (Yes, even more crazy!)

The cloud of mist apparated into a tall, pale humanoid figure in dark red and black robes standing right behind the goblin leader. With sharp, pointed claws he stabbed into the back of the goblin boss and plunged his entire arm right through the chieftain. Bloody fingers reached out at Sylvan and Abit from the goblin's chest. The figure smiled, revealing long, sharp fangs and with his other hand, he grabbed the staff. He pulled his first hand back and the goblin boss fell into a dead heap leaving a new foe holding the staff and standing before them with a cocky grimace.

The remaining half-dozen goblins, having seen their leader cut down, began scattering and fleeing. The vampire surveyed the stunned heroes and paused, locking eyes with Elvis. They seemed to recognize each other. Elvis' jaw hung slack and his blood went cold—this is who he had been hunting for years. With a wry, smarmy grin, the vampire transformed into a bat and began flying away to the southeast. 

Elvis immediately gave chase. Gertie hurled herself off the roof and followed, running as fast as her dwarven legs could go. Helen and the freshly-revived Rudy also gave chase. Abit, weary and weakened, promised the newcomer Sylvan help and aid and information if he would follow and protect the four heroes in Abit's stead. Sylvan, hungry for knowledge, saw the value in Abit's proposal and followed the four adventurers. 

They ran for miles. And then they kept running. Exhaustion took over and Rudy and Sylvan fell behind, their legs heavy, their lungs out of breath. They mindlessly raced after this new foe for miles and miles and miles. Eventually, they lost sight of the tiny flying bat just as they came to a small, dark forest. As the sun began setting, they split up and began searching. 

An hour or so later, Sylvan and Elvis spotted some moss- and ivy-covered ruins. Tucked away in a corner of an old stone structure was a massive sarcophagus. The carving atop had been altered and set into the middle was a perfect square and nine odd runic symbols. 

As they studied the strange carving, Rudolfo surveyed the ruins and found nine square stones with similar notches and words atop—a puzzle! The group raced to piece together the patterns knowing the vampire was getting further and further from their grasp with each passing minute. Eventually, they solved the strange puzzle and deciphered the pattern in which to activate the runes. 

They did so and the lid of the sarcophagus began to magically levitate. They all poked their heads down and looked into a small dark cavern. Chairs and tables were knocked over, coins spilled on the floor. It looked as if someone had very recently made a hasty escape. The vampire was gone. So was the staff.

There was no way they could remain in denial. Elvis' claims were true. Vampires were real and the group had just stumbled across one of the biggest and baddest and unfortunately let him get away…

But was is actually a vampire? Are they suuuure? And what's the deal with this new guy? Why's he asking so many questions? And how did he get an adorable pint-sized dragon pet? Who will replace the roof to that house? How did the goblin boss get the staff? Where did Nezzu run off to? Why are there so many questions?!??!? There's only one way to know: tune in next time for more hair-raising fun with Gertie and Goblin-Smashing Goon Squad!

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