The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Nod's Big Score
Nod was happy to be out of the fortress again. He had never adjusted to the post-exile life in the Greenward. In his opinion, the Vexgit goblin clans should never have settled down. The elders had tried to channel his people’s tradition of sabotaging the works of creative fey into scavenging the remains of the ancient insect-folk who used to live in these woods.
Breaking apart the old structures was fine with Nod. But to leave the machines intact? To haul them home? To use them to turn a lair into a fortress? There was just something fundamentally un-Vexgit about it.
The only reason Nod stayed with the clan was the same reason the other conservative members stayed; you can’t argue with results. The hunters had found the fortress, and the scavenged defenses had blown them right out of the sky. After that, even some of the Smilers joined. Whether they would get along long-term with the allied Wampi clans, Nod didn’t know. Certainly the more violent clans that refused to join the Vexgit would rather eat them than work with them.
But that wasn’t Nod’s problem.
Nod was taking the sail-barge on a voyage of a month or more to scavenge the better materials he suspected were in the biggest old city. He had found a map that showed a capital city on the southeast coast of the lake. None of the goblins were comfortable on water, but he hadn’t managed to get close by land. Trolls popped out of every river, beasts that didn’t stay dead stalked the land, and the plants tried to eat you. So he was trying a new tack.
Not trusting anything in hostile territory, Nod stayed well off the coast until nightfall and brought the barge near the city’s docks in the dark and mist. As he led his crew through the ancient warehouses, he wondered at how intact most of the buildings were. The other settlements and cities had been smashed up before he got there, but this place had somehow escaped that destruction.
It was one thing to brave a cursed battlefield to collect the fallen warriors’ weapons, or to finish off a barely-functioning war-machine to scavenge for parts. The wealth of possible salvage made Nod click his mandibles together in anticipation. He was going to need a bigger boat.
For now, though, there was enough salvage to make him a hero in the village. By itself, the loading crane looming over the pier would stand as a monument to him once it was reconstructed at the fortress. Chuckling to himself at the irony of a positive reputation based on a RE-construction, Nod ordered his people to work.
Hours later, they had the crane broken down into transferable segments. They’d also broken apart some important looking machines that had been in fortified boxes at the end of jetties extending into the harbor. As they returned to the barge, the crew began fastening the loot down.
Something was bothering Nod, though. Something he couldn’t quite place until the wind gusted, parting the mist and showing a much larger vessel blocking exit out of the harbor. Nod turned back to call an alarm to the crew, but they were already shouting. Trolls were boarding the barge.
Nod grabbed his hammer, knowing that he probably wouldn’t survive this fight, but preferring a death in battle to being pulled underwater and drowned by the trolls he knew must still be in the water.
Before he could unhook the weapon from his belt, the side of the ship in the harbor lit up with a flash and a thunderous blast deafened everyone on board the barge. The startled goblins lost both their focus and their nerve, and in those moments the trolls began coming over the railing.
Nod heard a soft voice from the side. Two trolls were climbing the barge, but before reaching the top, they lifted a figure half their size onto the deck.
The figure stepped closer, and Nod was confused. It was a troll that smelled like fey.
“Come little goblin. Tell your friends to put down their weapons before we must take them away. You and I have to talk about exactly where you’re taking these things you’ve stolen from my city.”