Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Basic D&D: Solo Adventure, Cadman Cadsson, Chapter III

Cadman's charge put him on the goblin wearing Aleena's tabard in a seeming instant. The twenty feet closed with only the creak of Cadman's leather bindings and his feet. Cadman only hears his heartbeat. The goblin is on the ground, bleeding out from a vicious gash splitting its neck and shoulder. Cadman has already turned to the second goblin, standing slack jawed, but drawing its sword. Cadman thrusts at the goblin's belly and catches its thick leather armor's bindings. It grunts between teeth clenched in pain, but finishes drawing its weapon.

Whatever shock the goblin felt is gone. It returns Cadman's thrust with its own, catching Cadman in the shoulder. Mail links pop and Cadman feels the point seize in the mail, but push through the gambeson. Cadman pulls back and the goblin readies to parry Cadman's next attack.

Cadman plunges at the goblin, aiming for it's neck. A broken tooth grin spreads across the goblin's face and a taunt hisses through them as the goblin deftly parries the strike and uses Cadman's motion to return the point at Cadman's shoulder. Weakened by the first thrust, Cadman's mail seizes less of the point. The pain would have probably fell a less experienced veteran. Cadman uses the caught sword to turn the goblin's left side toward him to thrust his sword point under the goblin's arm.

It is a death blow that in only seconds drains what color the grey skinned goblin had from his face. Blood pours over Cadman's sword hand. He kicks the goblin away and stumbles back to the wall. Black blood pools around the dead goblins as Cadman inspects the wound on his shoulder. Blood is soaking the gambeson as he pulls away the broken links of mail.

It's a deep wound and it hurts. Cadman unbuckles his pack and pulls around to open it. He bites off the wax seal and cork of the Potion of Healing from the Ulaan priests. It smells of honey and cinnamon. Quaffing the whole thing, he waits for something to happen. The sweet honey and spice lingering on his palate. A warmth sweeps over him. The sharp pain at his shoulder disappears and the dull ache developing in his elbow fades. He gently pulls at the frays of the blood soaked gambeson and sees the wound has closed, fresh pink skin beneath the drying smears of blood.

Cadman has no time to offer a prayer or a praise to Ulaa, angry war shouts from the north in guttural goblin echo into the room. Three goblins charge down the short hall to the north. Cadman stands just in time to parry swings from all three, reversing their positions.

***

Cadman grabs the haft of his sword and punches a goblin square in the mouth. Blood and broken teeth come away. The attack opens Cadman to the others. Together Cadman's armor and weak attacks delivered out of care for hitting their own, the two goblins strike flesh. New cuts, rent links, and torn gambeson cause Cadman to retreat. 

Cadman is surrounded. The injured goblin spits blood and teeth from its mouth and charges. Cadman, ready, parries, moves into attack, misses the gut of a goblin and feels two strikes from the others glance off his armor. The positions reversed again, but the pressing the attack is Cadman's best option. With two hands, one on the hilt, the other low on the blade, Cadman swings hard at the goblin spitting blood. His sword severs the goblin's parrying arm from its shoulder. The attack pushes the goblin into his attacking partners completely disrupting any effectiveness and Cadman shoulders a blow that glances off harmlessly. The goblin drops, clutching the stump gushing blood, pushing away with ever weaker kicks and cries in goblin.

Cadman assesses the remaining two goblins. They turn to him and attack. Swords hitting swords echo in the room, punctuated by grunts and curses. Cadman sees a goblin glance at the still form of the goblin sans arm. Feinting an attack to his right, moves between the two goblins so quickly, they can't turn fast enough to parry Cadman's thrust. Cadman buries his sword in the small of one goblin's back and pulls his sword away in time to parry a response from the last goblin. The parry turns into a sweeping cut across a naked belly. The goblin's gut splits open and it doubles over to collapse on the spilling viscera. 

Silence. Again only his deep breathes and the thump of his heartbeat can be heard. Five goblins dead and three new scars. 

Cadman checks his new cuts. Nothing that won't heal. He walks to his pack. The potion bottle is broken and he guesses he threw it aside as the three others charged into the room. He begins a grisly task: looking for valuables. Goblins rarely have much. They are unwelcome in villages and towns so have little use for coin, but gems are tradable. He first cuts Aleena's tabard front off the goblin wearing it. The back is fouled from lying in the pool of blood surround the body. He folds its food stained fabric and stuffs in his pack. Cleaned it provide some sentimental value to the Ulaan temple, though he considers keeping it himself. Each goblin is carrying a pouch with a roughly round Tiger's Eye, each polished to various quality. Are these the Lost Eyes of the goblins? The goblins have about 100 silver pieces between them and the goblin sans arm has almost 50 gold pieces!

Cadman surveys the mess he's left. Bloody footprints trace the goblins and his fight and his searching. An arm, a loose pile of viscera spreading from the gutted goblin moved in the search, teeth; all surrounded in thickening, sickly smell of death. There unlikely will be anyone to bury these goblins, and goblins may, no will, come for revenge.

Cadman sees a room around the corner to the north from where the three goblins charged. Another long, unlit passage exits east. He can ill afford another fight like this one, but he can assess the size of the Lost Eye goblins. Possibly more are to the north.

He leaves his lantern shuttered as the passage to the north is lit by torches. He approaches the corner and quickly peeks around it. Four goblins are wide eyed and peering down the hall, straining to hear what may be approaching. They lock eyes with Cadman and turn, running into a large room and disappearing just around the edge of Cadman's line of sight. 

Cadman charges after them only to all four have ducked into a doorway and are pulling the door shut behind them. One looks back desperately reaching for something on the floor, but is kicked away to close the door. A heavy bar is slammed down, the thud dulled by the closed door. Cowards. Or just survivors. Cadman must look like a man coming off the shield wall of a close quarter battle. Cadman knows the image. It is terrifying.

The room looks to be quarters. A table, a dozen chairs and piles of furs mark beds on the stone floor. A small pouch has spilled out near the door. This must have been what the goblin was reaching for. 10 silver pieces, 5 gold, a Tiger Eye marble, and a key! Cadman inspects it, turning it over. Is this the key to the room with the bones? Maybe. Just maybe. Cadman kicks the bed furs around a bit, lifting them with his sword, moving items on the table with the same, then goes to the door. Pulling heartily on the loop, it doesn't move. Cadman hears several hisses on the other side of the door. The four goblins are near, but not opening the door for Cadman, possibly will wait hours before coming out. Cadman notes the numbers of beds and walks back to the room where he left his lantern and the dead goblins. 

Perhaps the living Lost Eyes will give them a burial. Or eat them. Cadman does not know. He looks at the dark passage toward the east and stretches the lantern into it. Darkness. Cadman readies his sword and walks a short distance to survey the eastern passage. It turns south in fifty feet. The southern passage seems to stretch as far and fades to pitch, but blue light spills from an archway at the limits of the lantern. Cadman softly walks to the opening.

***

The light spills from a large, empty room, painted in the deepest blue Cadman has seen. He cautiously enters the small passage. Magical light. He has heard of these incantations that emit light from swords, coins, and polished stones affixed to staffs. The strangest aspect of the room is the bright orange relief carved into the far wall. A mouth. Delicately carved. Cadman freezes instantly when the lips of the mouth smile. He turns and steps to leave and runs headlong into an invisible wall, his sword bouncing toward his breastplate with a loud ring immediately silenced by his full body impact into the "wall."

Then the echoing laughter. Cadman forces himself to turn and look at the mouth. Smiling and laughing, it is almost jovial and inviting Cadman back into the room.

"Surprise!," the disembodied mouth states in a deep voice. "You are here for double-or-nothing! Ready or not, here we go. O,T,T,F,F,S,S. What's next in line? If you solve this riddle, your treasure will double. If you fail, it will all disappear. What is your answer?!"

Cadman instinctively reaches for his pack, knowing the coin and gems he's tucked away is still there and he intends no one too take it without a fight. Cadman attempts to step backward. His foot stops on the magical force locking him in the room. Is the mouth going to eat his treasure? Is it going to force him to feed it to him? 

"You must answer, y'know!," bellows the mouth. It is so realistically depicted, even the pink flesh of its mouth and the pearl of the teeth. Cadman runs through the letters in his mind. Seven letters. Most in pairs. Is it a card hand? Cadman curses himself for never playing cards with the other soliders in camp. Seven letters. Eight letters. O,T,T,F,F,S,S... Eight! E! One, Two, Three, Four, Funf, Sechs, Sieben, Eight!

"E!," shouts Cadman. The mouth bellows with laughter.

"Come back again some time!"

Suddenly, Cadman's pack shifts. and having unconsciously leaned against the invisible barrier, he stumbles backward as the barrier disappears and he backpedals into the hall.

Cadman sheds his pack and opens it removing the sacks of coins he stuffed on the bottom. They are literally bulging and threaten to burst. Open one he pours out the silver and gold. Real. Magical riches! Cadman runs back into the room. The mouth only smiles slightly. "Speak! Another riddle Mouth! Double or nothing!" The mouth with only the barest of mood, if it is a mood, frowns and remains silent. Cadman turns to see if he's trapped. The magical wall is gone. He is able to come and go as he pleases and the mouth ignores him. Cadman considers this mouth as he lifts his pack and picks up his lantern. Is it permanent? Is it a device of Bargle's to grow his wealth? Could he return in a day or week or month and bet again? 

***

The south passage take a turn to the west and Cadman hears squeaks. He mentally traces his turns and path to realize he is on the other side of the east passage from the statue room. Rats!

With that curse, a huge rat leaps from the floor and bites his lantern hand. "Gods!," curses Cadman, dropping the lantern. Weighted from the oil, the lantern stands upright and the shutters spring open. Cadman has no time to consider if this a design of the lantern, has he stabs the rat that bit him.

Two more large rats leap at Cadman. He dodges both and swings wildly in attempt to cut one in two. The rats turn to leap and bite at his groin. The cod piece serves its purpose and Cadman cuts the foolish rat from head to tail in a crushing swing.

The last rat, ignorant or uncaring of the deaths of his kin, bites at Cadman's thigh and Cadman's swing knocks it aside with the flat of the blade. He quickly twists his wrist and turns the swing into a thrust that spears the last rat to the floor.

Cadman pulls the cork on his waterskin and pours water over the bloody wound on his hand. Rats are filthy and their bites can fester. This is the last Cadman decides. His sides ache from the hits by the gobbos and this bite is stinging. The mouth has made his haul much better. He gingerly grips the lantern's ring and as he does so the light catches coins scattered about the room. Knelling in the scat and tufts of rat hair, he finds another 100 copper pieces and as much silver! His is truly ready to leave. 

The west passage leads to the statue of Wee Jas. Cadman considers for a moment the key and the locked door. His hand stings from the grip of the lantern and he looks to the late day sun just beyond the opening on the side of the hill. He turns to leave than stops. Setting down his bag and fetches a handful of silver, enough for two gold and sets them in a carved offering bowl under the statue. Wee Jas is Law, though some consider her aspects more neutral. In any case, if her attendants find this silver, maybe they will offer a blessing to the giver from afar.

Fin.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:00 AM in d10

 

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