For three days a band of archers from the village of Ashwood had been tracking a band Grayland Goblins who were raiding farms and hamlets near the base of the Shadow Mountains. It was rumored that this band of raiders had slipped past the garrison guarding the great gate in The Moonlight Valley. Others believe that they had come via ships around the southern end of the Shadow Mountains, possibly utilizing local help. Whatever the case may be, Ashwood’s finest archers had been sent out to track and destroyed the raiders.
The previous days had taken the archers along a path of destruction and death, guided by the black pillars of smoke that rose from the homes of the raider’s victims. As they came to each burned out farm and hamlet they were met by the same sight. Everything that could be set afire had been burned to the ground. Anything of value, including livestock, had been taken and those unlucky souls who were present were slaughtered and left for the carrion crows. The few survivors were in a state of shock as they tried in vain to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Some of these lucky peasants insisted on joining the band of archers, swearing to avenge the deaths of their families. It now seemed that these vengeful farmers would get their wish.
The company of archers and farmers began to close in on the raiders who were slowed by their greed, due to the livestock and plunder they carried with them. The goblin raiders, unaware of their pursuers, had finished their raiding and were now searching for a route to return them home.
As the sun dipped low in the western sky the goblin raiding party rounded a low bluff and was confronted by a narrow but deep and swift moving river. The goblin scouts, out ahead of the main body, reached the banks of the river expecting to find a bridge along the path they followed. However, upon their arrival all that was discovered were the broken remnants of a decayed wooden bridge that had been destroyed and washed away in the spring floods.
Unbeknownst to the goblins, the Ashwood Archers and the small group of armed farmers had finally caught up. One of the local farmers informed the company that the bridge ahead had been destroyed. Knowing the goblins would be pinned against the river and loathed to leave their loot behind, the men formulated a plan. The group of farmers would move up the road acting as bait while the archers would move behind the bluff. Half of the archers would climb the bluff and rain down arrows on the unsuspecting goblins while the other half would move around the far end of the bluff and through the woods coming out behind the goblin force.
The goblin scouts had quickly turned and raced back to their chief to report the wrecked bridge. Undeterred by the obstacle ahead the goblin chief ordered his men to stash their loot and pen their animals in the small burned out ruins that lay nearby. He sent some of his men to act as a rearguard while the rest of his men were split into two groups and sent into the woods to cut down trees with which they would bridge the river, in order to bring along their ill-gotten loot and livestock.
The farmers moved up the road and quickly encountered the goblin rearguard. The goblins let out a shout that they had been discovered and began to move to attack. The goblin chief, perched atop the raiding party’s spoils, quickly recalled his men from the woods and ordered them to attack the outnumbered farmers. Meanwhile the Ashwood Archers quickly moved around along the bluff hoping the farmers would hold long enough for them to move into position.
As the goblins closed in on the farmers, a shout went up from the top of the bluff. As the goblins looked skyward they saw a group of archers appear, silhouetted against the crimson sky.
Still filled with anger, over the loss of their loved ones, the farmers acquitted themselves well but were no match for the seasoned goblin raiders. As the line of farmers began to waver the men of Ashwood let loose a volley of deadly arrows. Enraged by the appearance of these new enemies, the goblins pressed their attack. Meanwhile the second group of archers struggled to quickly move around the goblins’ flank.
The farmers began to take casualties and those that remained started to lose their will to fight. The archers on the bluff continued rain down their deadly arrows, slowly picking away at the goblin force.
The second group of archers finally appeared out of the woods on the far side of the bluff forcing the goblin chief to flee his perch atop the loot and join his underlings in the fight against the farmers.
The line of farmers finally fell and the goblins pursed the lone peasant archer. The second group of archers began to secure the goblin’s loot and quickly move toward the road to assist their comrades.
With the last remaining farmer killed the goblins turned their attention to the archers on the bluff.
Under a constant hail of arrows the goblins searched for a way up the back of the bluff while the rest of the archers began to close from the rear.
Foolishly the remaining goblins charged up the back of the bluff to attack the archers. They were quickly cut down by arrows but not before killing one of the men from Ashwood.
Seeing his warriors lying dead around him the goblin chief turned and fled into the scrub land and the limited cover of the new growth pines.
The goblin chief’s attempted escape was quickly stopped by a hail of blue fletched arrows. As he fell a deathly silence and stillness overtook the battlefield. As the last rays of light slipped behind the horizon the famed Archers of Ashwood began to collect their dead hoping that this raiding party was not a sign of a coming conflict on a greater scale.