SESSION 53q: DAY 23 – THE CAVES OF CHAOS
Looking up from the ground, Talmark grabs Felldrac and rises. "Thank you my friends. I was sure my death was imminent, I even had time to wonder if I had done enough to earn Asmodeus' reward for his faithful... I do not wish to ever be brought that low again, nor will I allow it for you."
They look down at the broken body of the bugbear chieftain and his queen and reflect. It seems like an age but they’ve only been in this cave not much more than an hour or two and in that time they’ve defeated the bugbear leadership, two of their guard posts and probably their main den.
Malandir looks quizzical, not believing his poor bow skill. He taps his bow on the ground a few times to check its soundness and draws it once or twice. It looks sound. Is it the bow, is it him? Only further contests in future battles will really answer that question.
They can feel the experience that they’ve gained and know that their knowledge and skills are growing. As soon as they reach civilization again Lucien, Kord, Talmark and Malandir will advance a level and whilst Per won’t advance a level yet it will not take him long to do so.
They cut the ears from and search the bugbear chief and his female. They find that the chief’s morning star is of exceptional quality, Lucien casts Detect Magic. A warm glow comes about the weapon as it confirms that it is in fact magic. The chief has a large coin pouch with gold and gems worth 300gp contained in it. is female was wielding a long sword and wearing two gold ear rings, which Malandir estimates are worth 100gp.
The furnishings in the room are battered and crude, but several pieces of silk are mixed up with the bedding. Looking them over, Malandir believes they’ll be worth 120gp all together and could probably be sold to Dearg at Valor Trading quite easily.
Per spots a gray chest stuck up on a ledge near the ceiling and pulls it down. Opening it carefully he sees that it contains another 146gp and a small ivory statue. Showing it to Malandir, he believes it’s worth a quick 200gp and they can probably take that to Dearg as well. He also sees two small vials in the chest with a warm blue liquid in them. He shows them to Kord who casts Detect Magic to confirm their magical properties. He shows the potions to Luicen. Using his talents as an Alchemist, Lucien confirms they are potions of Cure Light Wounds.
They pool their spoils and review what they have taken from the cave.
DM’s Note: With the exception of weapons, ears and magic items I’ve converted all the other various loot items such as ear rings to gold rather than have them separately listed in the summary.
Malandir raises his hand and motions the party to be quiet. The ever observant elf traces his index finger around an inconsistent section in the western all. He puts his ear to the wall. “It’s a secret door,” he whispers, “I cannot hear anything on the other side though.”
Per is pleased that he gained vengeance on Talmark's behalf. He cleans his glaive, wiping away the gore. "I think it will be wise to return to town or to our camp in order to properly heal up," he states. "What say you? I don’t think now is time to test that secret door nor to adventure further into this cave."
"Prudent and measured as always, Per, I am all for heading back to the burg,” confirms Lucien.
The wise cleric analyses the situation.
“Many of us gained in power, and it has opened up new potential, but if we take the time to go to the Burg and cash in and train and recover, there is a much higher probability Berowalt’s lady love meets her demise. Once we’ve trained, we will have access to casting Invisibility and Silence now. This dramatically opens up options for penetrating the hobgoblin lair and rescuing the damsel.
It is conceivable to cast one of these spells after our first rest. Cast on Malandir, he scouts out the cave (3min duration tops), returns and reports, then we develop a plan.
OR, we could go to the burg, hope the damsel survives until we are trained, healed and tooled up, and then go in. Berowalt will need some consoling in that case.
IF we decide to go in first, my vote is to concentrate on JUST rescue, not taking on the tribe yet. Try our best to just get in-and-out. Silence for hiding the initial assault on the hobgoblin guards and to buy more time before an alarm is raised, providing we can kill them in the 3 round spell duration. At the least, Talmark and Per need to be fully healed up before doing this and that will take a few Cure Light Wound spells.
As a party, do we play it safe, ensuring our own survival before taking on the hobgoblins, or chance a daring clandestine raid with few remaining resources? Despite the increased reputation and leverage that the quick rescue can provide? I think we need to play it safe. We have taken enough chances this outing my friends and we should go get her when we are best capable of doing so, not while we are so thin on healing and resources.”
Kord marvels at the wisdom of Lucien for his Wis of 13 is no match for that of his brother cleric at 19.
Per totally agrees with Lucien. "We play it safe and look after our own before risking our lives for a woman who means so little to us," he says. "We have suffered enough already and to carry on with a rescue mission would be pushing our luck too far. Plus, we don't even know if she's still alive."
Talmark glances down at the bloody and ruined surcoat covering his armor. "We are indeed in no shape to continue today. I like Berowalt, but I am sure he will understand that we need more preparation. We attempted diplomacy, next we must attempt force. The bugbears were unforeseen, but they too shall have their time to be finished off..."
Malandir says “I’m content to push on with the rescue...it would add someone at the burg in their debt. Before we leave, I could check the corridors so that we have some idea of how much bigger the bugbear complex is.”
“If you feel confident you can do so without undue risk, then I think it would be a good idea. Be wary though, as we are in no condition to mount a rescue,” replies Talmark.
They gather their loot and trudge back towards the main cave entrance. As they do, Malandir quietly re gathers the caltrops that he’d left in front of the eastern door.
“Wait here’” he says. I’ll quickly scout the rest of the cave.”
Malandir sneaks down the eastern passage. At the eastern bifurcation he turns south. Leaving the light of the parties’ torch and Kord’s Light spell, he feels more at home in the quiet, inky darkness of the cave. He creeps to the south, to the second guard post. Without someone to tend to it, the guards’ fire has died down. Stepping over the bodies he turns to the eastern corridor first. It turns and twists to the south and then to the east again before it ends in a door.
Controlling his breathing he puts his ear to the door.
Perception check roll of 4 + 7 skill – 5 listening through a door = 6. He cannot hear anything.
“Hmmmph, nothing obvious here,” he thinks to himself.
He turns and goes back to the guard room and into the western corridor. About 30 or so feet down the corridor there is a door on the southern wall whilst the corridor continues north and then west.
He puts his ear to the door.
Perception check roll of 16 + 7 skill – 5 listening through a door = 18. He hears something against a DC of 15.
Check if the monsters hear Malandir, roll = 8 – 5 listening through a door + ? skill = 3 + ?. Malandir’s stealth roll = 4 + 8 = 12. They don’t seem to hear Malandir.
He hears some murmuring on the other side of the door. Pushing his ear harder the noises sound a little more like whimpers and moans. There are some things behind the door to be sure. But he’s not sure what. Whatever they are they don’t sound like they are in good condition. Maybe they are wounded. The sounds are almost imperceivable, he’s not too sure how many of them there may be.
He creeps 20ft to the north and takes a peep around the corner. The corridor continues to the west and then ends. He doesn’t go any further to investigate.
He goes back to the party and tells them what he’s heard.