Manga slunk off to go follow Ruben. The two of them tried a new tunnel and found it blocked by nets strung with bells. Manga plucked out a bell and set all the bells ringing. When they returned to the party, there was much scolding and slapping to be had again.
Deciding to avoid the bells and take a side passage untried, the company found a passage blocked with rubble, a second passage guarded by a goblin sentry who spotted them and ran to warn others, and – avoiding chasing the sentry – they moved on and found down a third passage a room that was defended by eight adult goblins and five young ones from behind a wall of stakes on a ledge. Manga’s sleep spell put all but three adult goblins to sleep. Two of the goblins moved to block the openings to the ledge on either side of the stake wall. Ruben and Kevlamin stepped up first to oppose them, but Kevlamin stepped back after being seriously injured and Ruben was killed. Clair stepped up to take Ruben’s place and Thelonius advanced to take Kevlamin’s place. Meanwhile, the third goblin was waking others, but the Halfling slingers soon decimated them and the sleeping goblins. The two remaining goblins, both seriously injured, surrendered. Kevlamin told them to choose which would be spared and the goblins turned on each other and strangled each other to death. The treasure haul from this cave was 16 sp, 11 suits of goblin-sized leather armor, and 8 spears.
Returning to the entry cave, barricading them in with stakes, the company chose to stay here and rest while Thelonius prepared his healing ceremony and Manga re-studied his sleep spell. After an hour, Archippos and Nodwick arrived from outside, escorting a prisoner they had caught snooping around nearby. Kevlamin recognized the man as Flex, brother of Ruben. Flex was also a skilled fighter (and even better equipped than Ruben ever was) and was accepted into the company as Ruben’s replacement.
After eight more hours of rest, their stay was interrupted again – this time by an attack. Four goblins were trying to squeeze through the stockade wall one at a time while a bugbear gave them cover fire with a bow and arrow while crouching behind the wall. When Clair managed to hit the bugbear with a thrown spear, the bugbear announced a retreat. The bugbear and all but one goblin were cut down by the Halfling slingers as they fled. Kevlamin claimed the bugbear’s bow and arrows and brigandine armor, while Flex took two morning stars for his own. But it was decided even the entry cave was too dangerous and the company abandoned the caves altogether to go rest back in town. Nodwick complained about all the suits of leather armor he had to carry, though at least the hireling finally had work to do.
Despite Flex’s protests, the friends voted to dispose of Ruben’s body cheaply out in the forest.
In Garham, Kevlamin sold the leather armor to the militia and impressed the militiamen with his tale of bravery in the caves. His altercation with the men-at-arms at Garrison Keep two weeks earlier was forgiven and forgotten. Kevlamin wished to have the bugbear armor refitted to his size, but found it would cost 5 gp he did not have to spare to have a blacksmith and a leatherworker do the refitting together. Flex stopped grieving for Ruben long enough to sell all of his late brother’s equipment. With the money, he was able to carry out Ruben’s unlived dream of owning a pack mule someday. It was around this time that Manga revealed that this was only his magic name – that his true name was actually Rex.
On the 27th, with the friends all healed up and better equipped than ever, they returned again to the Roaring Wolf Caverns. Once again they found the entry cave abandoned – or so they thought. When Flex went to squeeze through the gap in the stockade wall blocking the tunnel to the deeper caves, a carrion crawler reared up, grabbed him with a tentacle, and Flex fell slack in its grip. When Kevlamin and Rex ran up to help out, they too fell victim to its tentacles. Although the insectoid monster had three living shields in front of it, Clair ordered the Halfling slingers to open fire and helped them by throwing more spears. Clair accidentally knocked Kevlamin unconscious with a spear, but the Halflings managed to kill the crawler. After 10 minutes, the paralytic secretions from the crawler’s tentacles wore off on Flex and Rex. But the entry cave no longer seemed like a safe place so they retired to the ravine and made camp under the cloudy, afternoon sky.
After a few hours, a large force of eight goblins on foot, eight more riding wolves and charging with lances, and four bugbears at the rear began to advance down into the ravine towards them. Rex insisted he had only memorized Magic Missile this time, but everyone else assured him he must have been mistaken. For the good of the company, it turned out that he was. His sleep spell and the Halfling slingers made the charge largely ineffectual and only three goblins on wolfback reached the company. Flex and Rex managed to dodge their attackers, but Thelonius was nearly skewered by a lance and only his armor and helmet saved his life. Clair convinced the Halflings to help her lift Kevlamin and Thelonius and take them to the safety of the caves. Flex and Rex would not listen and stayed to fight, even though the bugbears were even now kicking awake the sleeping bugbears on the slope of the ravine. Rex was skewered on a lance and killed. Only then did Flex flee into the caves to join the others in finding a safe haven, or a hidden exit, from the lair of their very would-be killers…
Clair – 792 xp
Kevlamin – 923 xp
Flex – 443 xp
Rex2, Setch, and a TBA PC for Joyce will all begin next time with 222 xp
Man Thing by Jim Cheung
19 hours ago