Wherein a Hero arrives Young to the WorldYoung Phin had not made much on himself in the short century of his life and his mother got tired of him hanging about shooting at acorns so she brought him to her presence and said, "Phineous it is time for you to make a journey to the mortal world. There is a lovely lady there who's son has gone missing and she has gone to with Wishing Well and asked for help. Be a good lad and go forth and help her. You will learn much. Find the son, and find me a present you think I might fancy as well. Be careful. Call on me only if you must."
So Phineous the Archer crossed into the mortal realm and offered his aid to Queen Numenia of Red Oak Keep. She sent him forthwith, accompanied by a footman, Jergen. They entered the forest, for the Princeling Parcel had been picnic-ing when he did not return to his party three days before. Coming to a stream, there was a hostile serpent in the water. As Phin and Jergen braced themselves against the blue reptile they were unknowingly stalked an even larger and more sinister foe, a reddish lizard the size of an ox. It was touch and go for a moment, but the companions were unexpectedly aided by the appearance of tall and sickly warrior, uncouth and savage, who called herself Mila the Merciless. She knew where the prince had gone, "Yonder hillock, where the dead oak broods."
Three strong, they ascended the hill and the sun set. Ill-mannered gremlins in the branches above cursed them and threw sticks, so they ran into a chamber formed by a bole in the trees large trunk. In the bowls of the oak a crack in the ground lead down through roots and earth to a subterranean chamber unexpected.
Phineous was shocked to discover a domecile of worship built by his mortal brethren generations previous. There were ancient constellations formed by a crystalline ceiling refracting the rising moon in the sky above. "Lovely." Now a voice came like a rumble out the earth's diaphram, a short creature made of earth and stone revealed itself as "Duhr" and craved crystals and diamonds so as not to continue consuming the crystal decorations of this holy place. They conversed a moment, before the shorter lived warriors urged Phin to hurry down a set of stairs. "We could be followed, or trapped by yonder gremlins, Phin, no time to waste," grunted the swordsman Jergen.
Descending a gracefully spiraling set of stairs, a large hall was revealed, though of stone, a forest of pine trees had been carved out of the pillars of rock. Small and disturbing folk accosted the three with offers of rat-on-a-stick, stopped clock-watches, grog, and more. These well ordered trees served as informal stalls for a Goblin Market.
Disgusted, Phin strode through while holding his nose. Stepping through a doorways carved to seem like the open mouth of a devils face, he was shocked again to behold three counterparts to his troupe, but these short scrawny, and less than beautiful, entertaining themselves with jokes and civilized clothing. Upon introductions, the suspicious curs reached for weapons and treacherously shot first, wounding Mila with a crossbow bolt. Now Jergen showed his class, and leaped forward, slicing and stabbing with two swords, cutting down both, then chasing a third through a further doorway and out onto a precarious rope bridge where the cowardly goblin slipped and Jergen showed no mercy, treading upon fingers and sending it howling into the darkness below.
Crossing the chasm (which opened above to the stars and a tree silhouetted), come upon a chamber full of ill-gotten goods, chests of cheeses, books, armor, and an army's banner depicting a One-Eyed Skull, but while sifting through these accoutrements an ambush was sprung, from a shaft in the un-examined ceiling fell a sophisticated net attached to a rope. The net swept up Jergen and Phin, while the quick footed Mila jumped clear. Jergen fell to cutting at the thick knotty ropes while Phin stumbled over the words to a spell and Mila furiously leapt at the rope and attempted to climb up it. She didn't get far as rocks rained down upon her, causing her to fall.
Hastily, the three freed themselves and scurried out of harms way as the jeers taunts and insults of the goblins in the ceiling rang in their ears.
Mila swayed. She was wounded and a little drunk. "We'll could go down the stairs," said Jergen. "But that leaves foes behind us and they might be guarding something worth finding." "What ho," said Phineous. "My keen eyes see a bit of elven stone-carving here. Carefully concealed writing it seems: 'Speak friend and enter.' Well then: Melloch."
A crack appeared, and the stone door swung silently inward.