In their own home. An old couple, in the farm they'd toiled and tended for 30 years. Never done anyone any harm.
Perhaps the activity up at the old slave pits was connected.
So the unlikely pairing of dwarf and elf were tasked with a reconnaissance mission.
They edged up the ridge. Two females from far away, bound together by a passion for adventure and a thirst for gold. Up ahead, they could see a tree atop the hill. A russle in the leaves and the first sign of activity.
But an alarming one
Two arrows flashed past their heads.
“Woah, pull back” said the Elf in Hobgoblin speak.
“Pardon?” replied the dwarf, in the Goblin tongue
They had established a common platform for chat but it was patchy. They couldn't even pronounce each other's names.
Barely communicating, inexperienced, and ill-equipped- but they were brave. Fearless in fact.
The dwarf fighter pointed out the route she planned to take – down, around and up the flank.
The elf pointed straight ahead and in she strode.
She could see the movement in the tree, but the spring leaf-sprouts hid the enemy's numbers and their type.
Two more arrows flashed overhead.
Long range, thought the Elf and in she strode, purposefully, until she got within the range of her spell. Easy now, she thought, as she coaxed the magic into action. And within seconds two goblins fell from the tree, asleep.
She moved in. The dwarf moved up the hill to catch up, huffing and puffing in her plate armour.
They bound their erstwhile attackers and interrogated them. But the guards kept schtum.
“Alright, little goblin” said the dwarf, “you're coming with us”,
The tree had a narrow gap in it, but usurped emperors had sneaked through gaps a lot smaller than that to hide. Inside the trunk of the tree was a gap big enough to head a flight of stairs, hewn into the ground.