Matrim and Co.
Climbing down the far side of the hill you feel the cold wet of the tall grasses grasping at your sides and the sharp mists of your breaths clinging to your taunt windswept faces. Cold air seeps into your bones like water into a dry sponge stiffening your joins as you push forward. The musky comforting smell of several campfires mingles the air with the sickening stench of a funeral pyre as you wind your way closer to the commotion before that tall dead tree you passed earlier—strewn with bone and debris.
Now, just under five hundred feet from the goblin gathering, the deep cadent drum beat is accompanied by the frantic staccato of hundreds of other strident beats mingling into a frenzy of noise—hypnotic to the senses. Loud fierce screeches pierce the night air as wave upon wave of screaming creatures bellow at the moon and the rising fires. The ring of flame grows well beyond the several campfires that sprung up earlier gorging the clearing with torches and un-kept ground-fires fraternizing with the chaos of a forest fire.
Silently, Talton and Lornaal knowingly draw their weapons and stare soberly into the eyes of Terrence and Matrim. With nothing but a curt nod the woodsman and young thief crawl through the night to get a closer look at what they desperately don’t wish to observe.
Keeping watch at the peak of the hill, prone to the ground, Sebastian looks back at T’alen holding the reins of all of the animals just in case…just in case. The animals seem pensive but remain well behaved and under control with the stoic pragmatism of expertly trained mounts.
Getting close enough to recognise distinct features and objects, Terrence and Matrim must check their stomachs and guard their mouths as the strange mingling commotion slowly turns into focus: The woods team with frenzied movement…for the hundreds in the clearing there must be ten-fold more in the woods. All about the great snag, goblins, orcs and some other stranger creatures are enraptured in a gory orgy of lust and slaughter. Indeterminate from intercourse and murder the pulsating mass of creatures bellow and groan, scream and howl and kill and rape in a miasma of fetid skin and gore.
Some places seem more organized with a tall orc directing the slaughter: emptying cages of captive humans, gnomes, animals and other goblins to be brutally murdered and then raped…sometimes in that order…and sometimes not. While other places are like an ocean tide of bodies and corpses writhing under the harvest moon glistening in the cold night air.
A small group of little goblins in obsidian-black robes remain stationary amongst the horrible storm of slaughter. They remain devoutly bent before the snag, unmoving, seemingly in deep prayer. After only a few moments, wisps of darkness start whirling from the great dead tree and surrounding the kneeling black-robed goblins. The smoky darkness soon starts taking form and developing flesh and fur and voice as the mists turn into ghastly versions of wolves baying at the moon and joining in the slaughter…lovingly gorging at the feast of friend and foe. Not worgs or wolves they seem to be some other demonic creature that grows in size the more it feasts on slaughter.
While you are unable to guess any exact numbers you feel woefully outnumbered. You feel confident that you can sneak back to the others and break camp as this ritual seems to be…encompassing. Upon closer inspection, you do see the same symbol in prominent display as the one you saw in Tundrein.
Strangely, the more you pay attention to the ritual, the simpler it becomes, and the more sense it makes. In fact, you can almost see how this might be a great way to blow off some steam. You have always thought that death and life have been closely linked together…and now you can see it in its simplest form…like the animals would see it…the noble animals…