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I’m in the town of Scary. Things could be going better.

I’ve been working on the problem of a goblin invasion. Generally people fall into two camps with regards to goblins:

1) AH! I saw a goblin! We are dooooooomed!
2) Bah. The goblins are a myth.

Somewhere between these two viewpoints, it would be nice to find someone who thought that walking out to the goblin camp and killing them all would be a good plan. I have brought back news of the goblin camp to one Wilcome Tunnelly, in hopes that he would mobilize his people to do exactly that. Instead, he’s sending me into the mines because they have a… spider problem? And in order to fix the spider problem, he wants me to recover a skull they uncovered at the bottom of the mine?

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Wilcome is warning me that I’ll need help on this job. Sadly, there’s no help to be had. I don’t really have any friends that go in for this adventuring type of business. And It’s been days since I saw another adventurer running around.

No, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it alone. In we go.

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This is a small-group quest, designed for 2-4 people. I’m sure there are hardcore players out there who solo this at the proscribed level, but if you’re one of those people then you don’t need my help.

While it’s a group quest, there’s really only one spot where you need a group. A little ways in is a Spider Queen. Once she sees you, a good half dozen more spiders will rush in and you’ll end up in a huge battle. Without numbers on your side, you’re probably screwed. Even a character several levels higher can be killed by those odds. The strategy that worked for me is this:

1) Buff yourself to the eyeballs.
2) Rush in and unload everything you have on the Queen. If you’ve got some special once-every-three-minutes kind of powers, this is the time to use them.
3) As soon as you squash her, run for the exit. The other spiders can’t follow you up the ladder.
4) Sit outside and suck your thumb until you stop crying and bleeding.
5) Go back in and do the dungeon normally. The spiders will have forgotten about you. Without the Queen, you should be able to fight the rest of them one or two at a time.

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Here we are again, killing waves of spiders at the behest of a crazy man. I must say, things haven’t changed much since my adventure first began.

I reach the final chamber, where I find a skull resting on a nearby rock.

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A chipped skull? Did I fire up Diablo II by mistake?

I swipe it and make for the exit.

As before, most of the dialog is verbatim from the game. I’ve changed a bit here and there to edit for length and such, but I’m not adding insanity to these characters.

“It certainly is a hideous thing, isn’t it?” Wilcome says worriedly when I show him the skull.

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“It’s a skull,” I point out, “Have you ever heard of a friendly-looking skull? Even kittens have creepy looking skulls.”

He looks closer, “I can’t tell if it’s a goblin skull or not, but it does seem to be missing a tooth. Missing a tooth! Oh dear! Pansy told me you found a goblin tooth inside a rabbit hole on the Greenfields!”

“No, actually, it was just a r-“

“This must be Golfimbul’s head, rolled all the way down to this quarry from the rabbit hole it landed in during the battle of Greenfields hundreds of years ago!”

“Waaaait a minute,” I say, rubbing my temples in anticipation of the coming mental stir-fry. “Did you say it ‘Rolled down into the mines?’ You just found this thing when digging a tunnel!”

Wilcome nods vigorously, thinking we’re on the same page.

I look back towards the hill between this town and the Greenfields, “So.. the skull popped up out of the rabbit hole where it had fallen, traveled across the rolling grasslands of the Greenfields, went uphill and over the wall into Scary, rolled through town, fell down into the quarry, and was then transported through a hundred feet of solid rock where it landed upright on a naturally occurring table of stone? And then a swarm of spiders came and hung around the skull and waited for someone to dig them out?”

He pushes the skull into my hands, “You’ve got to take this to Brombard Foxtail at the Mathom-house in Michel Delving. Bullroarer’s club in on display there, and I’d wager old Golfimbul hasn’t forgotten Bullroarer’s mighty club.”

“Are you seriously suggesting we scare a skull by taking it a museum so we can frighten it with a golf club?”

“He won’t try anything while that’s at hand!”

“No, he won’t try anything because his head is off and he’s been dead for 200 years!”

So, I make the trip to Michel Delving, which is…

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…the town furthest from where we are now.

Once I reach the museum, Brombard is quite excited to get the skull, “Oh? Golfimbul’s head? That’s quite a find!”

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“Yes. Enjoy. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

“But if you wanted to put it on display with the club, I’m afraid you’re too late. Bounder Primstone came by and borrowed it. Now, I don’t normally lend things out, but-“

Great. They guy who sent me on this quest is also the reason I can’t finish it. I don’t care if the skull and club are together, but I do want to know what’s going on.

Moreover, I want to get paid.

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“Hey, you forgot your skull!”

Once again I travel from one corner of the map to the other, and arrive back in Brockenborings.

At the watch office, bounder Primstone is just getting ready to leave.

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“Lulzy, you’ve caught me at a bad time, I’m afraid. I was just about to step out…”

“Thinking of going golfing, then?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh, all right. Yes, I borrowed Bullroarer’s club. But if Golfimbul really has come back to life-“

“He hasn’t!” I shout. “His skull is sitting in the museum!”

“Well, I’m going to that goblin camp and I’m going to get to the bottom of this, once and for all!”

On one hand, I can tell this is a fabulously terrible idea that will end in tears. On the other hand, I’ve been complaining for weeks about how these people never get off their butts and defend themselves. It would be pretty hypocritical for me to try and stop him now.

“No, I don’t want you coming along,” he says.

“Yeah. I didn’t really ask-“

“You can tell that hunter, Halros, that I’ll have taken care of the goblins soon. He deserves some thinks for finding those camps.”

Hello? I found those camps!

So, Primstone is off the the goblin camp and I’m off to see Halros again. I follow the familiar stench of long-dead goblins all the way back to Halros and his three friends.

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“Wow! Three more goblins! You’re quite the goblin slayer,” I greet him as I enter the camp.

“Oh. It’s you again,” he says glumly.

“What’s your total goblin count up to by now?”

“What can I do for you?” he asks testily.

I explain about Primstone and his plan to assault the goblin camp all alone using an antique golf club.

“Primstone is journeying to the goblin camp? That brave, little fool! Does he think old Bullroarer Took won the battle of Greenfields by himself?”

“I’m pretty sure ‘thinking’ wasn’t one of the ingredients of his plan.”

Halros makes an impressive offer: He’s going to round up a bunch of his kin – some other rangers – and meet me in the cave the goblins are using as their base. I’d question why he didn’t do this sooner, but really I’m just amazed at how everyone suddenly seems so willing to fight instead of just throwing me at the problem all by myself.

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Halros runs off to get help, and I hike across the Greenfields to arrive at the goblin camp. I hack my way to the cave entrance and manage to add another ten goblins to the dead list.

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I head inside and wade through more goblins. Thankfully they are sprinkled around the cave in groups of one or two instead of all being stationed at the front door or around the fire in the main chamber. This makes it a lot easier to kill a whole bunch of them without getting too much goblin blood on my shoes.

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Eventually I reach Primstone. He’s on his back in a corner, having been waylayed by Lubach, the goblin running this particular show. Primstone admits that Lubach took the club.

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“That’s about par for the course,” I tell him. I’m all ready to shame him with a series of terrible golf puns when he begins to stand up.

“My wounds look worse than they are. I’ll come with you.”

Not a bad escort sequence. Primstone manages to hold his own in a fight and doesn’t require you to fling yourself into the jaws of the enemy to protect him from harm. He still has the escort problem that he won’t stop walking when you want a rest, and he won’t speed up if you’re in a hurry, but sometimes we have to take joy in the little things.

We reach the final chamber and find Lubach on an upper platform, taunting us. He snarls and throws some henchgoblins at us, which are every bit as fearsome and dangerous as the twenty goblins laying face-down in the tunnel behind us.

“You cannot hope to stand against me!” he bellows.

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Eventually we do, in fact, stand against him. Lubach runs out of guys and is obliged to jump down and face us himself.

I don’t want to ruin the suspense for you or anything, but he doesn’t win.

As Lubach goes down, Halros strides in.

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“You are one boss fight late,” I tell him.

“My apologies for being late. I’d hoped to reach you before the battle was joined.”

“Well, no harm done,” I tell him. “Still, nice job getting in here and taking care of all the guards.”

He gives me an angry look, “They were already dead, actually.”

“Oooooh right, right. I guess killed those guys on my way in. Forgot about that. Well, you found the place, so that’s something to be proud of!”

Halros mutters something under his breath.

“What was that?” I ask.

“I said,” he screws up his face, “I didn’t find it. You scouted it for me yesterday.”

“So I did!” I smile innocently.

Halros offers to help Primstone out and suggests we meet up back at his camp.

It’s good to get out of the cave and into the open air again. Well, it would be a lot nicer if Halros didn’t decorate his camp with Dead Goblin® brand air fresheners.

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As the sun sets, we gather around the fire and discuss the battle.

Halros reveals that Lubach was invading the Shire under the direction of one Eogan, who has eluded Halros thus far. I consider telling him that I met Eogan a couple of weeks ago and kicked his ass, but he would probably just assume I was messing with him.

“Alas,” he says, “This has been a joyless victory.”

“Maybe for you,” I say as I pocket the silver and five coppers he’s handed me. “And while we’re settling up, weren’t you supposed to bring some help to that fight?”

“It is unsettling, but I was unable to find my kinsman. I would ask that you go to Bree and seek out the head of my order.”

Halros goes on to explain that he wants me to look into the missing ranger problem by talking to some ranger boss who is staying at the Prancing Pony Inn.

Great. A ranger hanging out in a tavern. I’m sure he’s a do-nothing dunderhead like the rest, but a job is a job. More to the point, I’m fresh out of towns where I can show my face. At this point it’s either leave the Shire or quit, because I’ve left a trail of outrage and shame in my wake.

Well, seeing Halros again has encouraged me to find out what inglorious, absurd, and (hopefully) hilarious manner of death Amdir finally met.

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So I’m heading east to find Amdir and talk to this Aragoof fellow.

Next time: Way out east!

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Shamus Young is the guy behind Reset Button, Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, and Stolen Pixels.

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