We be goblins! We crunch birds!
Snip off legs and cut in thirds!
Catch the turkey! Snatch the rook!
Pluck the feathers—make them cook!
Roast them drumsticks, boil them eyes!
Mash guts gummy for bird pies!
Once it all is well and chewed,
We still hungry—YOU be food!
Part 1: Welcome to the Birdcrunchers
Snert, Cha-cha, and Grell returned to Brinestump Marsh after their adventures in Magnimar expecting feasting and entertainment for their escapades – at the very least, some Zarongel-damned slug slop. What they found were the husks of their homes, the corpses of their friends and family, and the smell of man stinking up the joint. Anything of value has been taken and everything else burned – they even pushed through the baby cages rattling with tiny charred skeletons and realized with horror – the bastards even took Squealy Nord!
While they were discussing what had happened, another Licktoad goblin popped out from a hiding place amid the wreckage; he was recognized as Punk, and he seemed to know a lot about how the village had burned. Like an awful lot. Almost like he’d had first-hand experience. Weird
Anyway, they vowed their revenge… but first, they were hungry. They decided to travel to the closest tribe of goblins they knew about – the Birdcrunchers. Maybe they’d have room – and grub – for some intrepid adventurers.
Once they arrived in Birdcruncher territory, they were told the Birdcrunchers were “between chiefs,” but Wise Mummy Sprattleharsh had the authority to declare a joining moot to see if the newcomers were worthy of joining the Birdcruncher tribe and eating their food. The moot consisted of three dares, and the participants were given points for their performance in each.
For the first dare, they were blindfolded and given a short bow with three arrows each. Three flocks of seagulls were released, each farther from the last, and the Lickoads were tasked with shooting down as many as they could – of course, the further the bird, the more points it was worth. Grell quickly took the lead after a poorly-aimed arrow hit Punk standing near him instead of a bird! The Birdcrunchers really appreciate a good sense of humor. However, Punk, despite missing both previous shots, got his own back after shooting an arrow that skewered three seagulls, which then landed gently in the hands of the cook in charge of the seagull stew! Miraculous!
The second dare brought them to an swampy area of nasty standing water. A failed attempt by the Birdcrunchers to build a bunch of huts on stilts left behind a haphazard arrangement of wobbly posts protruding from the boggy ground. The Birdcrunchers had laid wooden planks across them, creating narrow bridges. A single stirge on a five-foot-long tether is tied to each of the posts.
The Licktoads were all outfitted with wide clumsy longstalker boots which inhibited their dexterity and movement and told to kill as many stirges as possible through any means at hand – although stomping is the preferred method. Grell immediately jumped onto the bridges while the others preferred to use their ranged attacks to kill the stirges. Cha-cha took advantage of Grell by finishing off each stirge with her musket that Grell’s jaws failed to kill. Punk began setting alight the tethers tying the stirges to the poles, allowing them to fly free and attack the nearest targets – usually Grell. As Grell fought off the stirges, a shoving match began between the three other goblins as each tried to push the others into the swamp to disqualify them from the competition; none came even close to succeeding. The dare ended more with a whimper than a bang, as the Birdcrunchers had grown bored of watching the three weakling on shore impotently push at each other.
The third dare saw everyone returning to the Birdcruncher cave. As the goblins approached, the smell of rotten meat and spoiled milk grew. The source of the intoxicating smell was a pie had been created in a 10-foot-diameter bowl-shaped depression in the rock. It is 18 inches deep of not-quite-boiling-hot slurry of spoiled milk, swamp water, crushed grass, and dead birds. Several goblins standing near the pie startled as you approached and quickly pulled up their breeches. Probably nothing.
Sprattleharsh explained the rules – each Licktoad will be tied up and placed in the pie to cook. The first goblin to make it out would earn 10 points, the second 5, and the third 3. Any other contestants would earn only shame.
“Now here’s the twist!” she explained as the four participants are lined up around the edge of the pie with their wrists and ankles tied together. “There are four golden eagles in the pie, too! Killing an eagle earns you five points. Good luck!”
Inside the pie, Cha-cha, Snert, and Punk took fire damage as they struggled to escape their very tight bonds. Grell, however, used his oversized teeth to immediately bite into his bonds; he began killing every eagle he saw. Snert was the next to escape, but Cha-cha tripped him before he could emerge from the pie, and he fell face-first back into the boiling foulness. Cha-cha then broke her bonds and emerged first, followed by Punk, and finally Snert. Grell popped up last, feathers bristling in his teeth and triumphantly holding four dead eagles in his hands.
Mummy Sprattleharsh collected the point tallies from the participants. Shockingly, given his utterly forgettable lackluster performance at every dare, Snert was the winner! No one could remember giving him as many points as he claimed to have, but then it had been a very long day, maybe they’d forgotten Besides – that delicious eagle pie was gonna get cold! Snert was presented with the Crunchy Crown, a beautiful headpiece made of bird bones, feathers, and twigs, and given the title “the Crunchy.”
After he was crowned, Mummy Sprattleharsh waddled up and grasped each of your hands eagerly. “Welcome to the Birdcrunchers tribe,” she says, handing each of you a small bird in a box. “Thank Zarongel that you and your brave companions have come forth. Now we FINALLY have someone to kill that ogre druid and his fire-breathing armored boars that have been pestering us lately!” The Birdcrunchers all cheer.
Part 2: Munchmeat Farm
The newly-initiated Birdcrunchers were given a crudely-drawn map, showing that the ogre druid – Pa Munchmeat – lives about two-thirds of a mile from the Birdcruncher village. It wil take an hour on foot through the trackless tors. As you head off, Mummy Sprattleharsh waves and shouts, “Good luck! If you don’t get him, don’t bother coming back!”
The quartet make it about halfway to Munchmeat Farm before they see the first sign of the druid. Out of a huckleberry patch across the field comes roaring a huge hairy boar, foul-tempered and armored, with smoke and flame licking around its yellow tusks. It charges across to attack.
The boar made a couple good passes, goring goblins along the way, before it turned and let loose a foul-smelling belch – a fifteen-foot cone of fire came blazing out from its jaws, scorching everyone in its path. But then the tides turned and the boar was shot, beaten, and bitten to death.
A bit further on, the Birdcrunchers found Munchmeat Farm slumped in a soggy valley. A fence surrounded the estate with a house in the center balanced on numerous thick log stilts. There were a few filthy chicken coops, a shed, a few tired stretches of garden, and an upturned boat propped against the fence that looked as though it’d been built into a shelter. The Birdcrunchers immediately split up.
Cha-cha climbed a tree to look out while Punk explored the upturned boat. In its entrance, a fat sow snores loudly. However, peeking around her bulk, Punk sees someone familiar in the darkness of the boat – none other than the fearsome and savage fiend that once lived with you in the Licktoad village: Sqealy Nord!!
Cha-cha and Punk quickly exchanged some hand signals, after which Cha-cha took aim and blasted a massive hole in the sow’s skull. One more shot put her down for good, and Punk was able to lead Squealy Nord to freedom.
Meanwhile, Snert used a Monkeyfish spell to swim his way along the stream that cut through the farm. After following it to the house in the center, he peered in between the stilts that supported the house. Unfortunately for him, the druid was housing an owlbear in a nest underneath there. The owlbear roared at the trespasser and very nearly killed Snert. He was rescued by Grell, who was nearby, and Punk, who had been leading Squealy Nord over to his fellow Birdcrunchers. Digging through the owlbear’s nest, they discovered six owlbear eggs and promptly put them into their packs. Punk attempted to set the nest on fire, but found that the damp straw was stubborn about burning.
Cha-cha, meanwhile, had climbed on the roof of the house. She discovered a couple of territorial vultures nesting there, but after blowing one to feathers, the other remembered it had pressing business elsewhere. Scrabbling around, she noticed a trapdoor covered in droppings and opened it –
Only to be hit in the face with a swarm of bats! Cleverly, Cha-cha jumped through the trapdoor down into the room where the caster – Pa Munchmeat – must be. Pa Munchmeat was small for an ogre… although he still toweed over Cha-cha at nine feet tall. He wore hide armor made from distinctive firepelt cougar pelts, and his face was concealed by an elk skull converted into a mask and helm. In his hands, he held a medium-sized spear that flickered with flame.
The swarm followed her and took notice of the bigger target, attacking Munchmeat himself in the cramped space. In response, Munchmeat cast a flaming sphere and directed it at Cha-cha.
Hearing combat, the rest of the goblins clambered up the house. Pa Munchmeat held his own against the attacks, but a far deadlier foe was the structure itself. Despite the various handholds and slanted surfaces, both Grell and Punk fell to their deaths.
By this time, Pa Munchmeat had summoned his ogrekin daughter and her pet ferret, but the two surviving goblins, Cha-cha and Snert, were already turning tail. Guffy Munchmeat said something in Giant and pointed one muscular arm at Snert’s bulbous head as he ran. The last thing the two surviving Birdcrunchers heard was Squealy Nord’s almost human-like cry as his saviors left without him.