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Max_Writer

Gary Gygax Tribute Game: Keep on the Borderlands - March 8, 2008

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On March 8, 2008, I ran a game to memorialize Gary Gygax. We played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons; I ran the Keep on the Borderlands. A chair was set aside for Gary at the head of the table. We toasted him with scotch after that game. The man has touched so many lives. I've only now gotten around to fixing it so it can be online.

A photo of the game table is here: http://maxwriter.deviantart.com/art/...ygax-194539194


Monday, March 10, 2008

(After playing 1st Edition AD&D in Bryan Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with Scott Allen, Adam, and Kim: The Keep on the Borderlands.)

The realm of mankind was narrow and constricted. Always the forces of chaos pressed upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasure. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounded them. Yet there were always certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals among its allies – dwarves, elves, and halflings – who rose above the common level and joined the battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land. Bold adventurers from the Realm set off for the Borderlands to seek their fortune. It was those adventurers who, provided they survived the challenge, carried the battle to the enemy. Such adventurers met the forces of Chaos in a testing ground where only the fittest would return to relate the tale. Here, those individuals would become skilled in their profession, be it fighter or magic-user, cleric or thief. They would be tried in the fire of combat – those who returned, hardened and more fit. True, some few who did survive the process would turn from Law and good to serve the masters of Chaos, but most would remain faithful and ready to fight chaos wherever it threatened to infect the Realm.

The three who came down the road that fateful day were indeed members of that exceptional class, adventures who had journeyed to the Keep on the Borderlands in search of fame and fortune. Of course, they were inexperienced, but they had their skills and hearts that cried out for adventure. They had it in them to become great, but they still had to gain experience and knowledge and greater skill. There was much to learn but they were willing and eager to be about it! Each of them had come with everything which they could possibly be given to help them. But now they had to fend for themselves; their fate was in their hands, for better or worse.

Ahead, up the winding road, atop a sheer-walled mount of stone, loomed the great Keep. There, at one of civilization’s strongholds between good lands and bad, they would base themselves and equip themselves for forays against the wicked monsters who lurked in the wilds. Somewhere nearby, amid the dark forests and tangled fens, were the Caves of Chaos, where fell creatures lay in wait. All this they knew, but before they dared adventure into such regions, they had become acquainted with each other, for each of their lives would depend upon the ability of the others to cooperate against the common foe.

They had introduced themselves when they found themselves together on the road some days before.

The largest of them was a tall man in chain mail who carried a shield with a lightning bolt upon it. He had close-trimmed red hair on his head but not his chin or lip and his eyes were a steely-blue. He was a man thick with muscles and not an ounce of fat upon him. On either hip was a throwing hammer and at his neck was a symbol of a hammer. Basch Zr’Phylus had introduced himself to the others as a cleric of Thor, the thunder god.

He had heard of the Caves of Chaos and it was rumored that the bugbears in the upper caves were afraid of dwarves. He had hoped to meet a dwarf on the road but luck had not been with him.

The other man in the small party was short and skinny with brown hair and green eyes. He wore leather armor and carried a round, wooden shield. A scimitar hung from his belt and mistletoe hung from his neck. He wore rough clothing, this druid, this child of the woods, this nature nurturer, who was called Nacian Horrormain.

He had also heard the Caves of Chaos but what he had learned was that a powerful magic-user would destroy any invaders of the caves.

Finally, a lithe and willowy half-elven woman also walked with the two men. She had short brown hair and bright green eyes. A long sword was upon her hip and a light crossbow over her back. A fighter, she knew how to use all of her weapons well. She also wore leather armor and carried a small, round, metal shield. She had told the others her name was Bailey Kneadadog.

She, too, had heard rumors of the Caves of Chaos. She had been told that an ogre sometimes helped the cave dwellers. She was ready to test her mettle against such a horrible creature.

The three had introduced themselves on the roadway and decided that they would adventure together. Fate seemed to have decreed that they were to become an adventurous band who would pass through many harrowing experiences together on the path that led to greatness.

They had traveled many days, leaving the Realm and entering into the wilder area of the Borderlands. Farms and towns had become less frequent and travelers few. The road had climbed higher as they entered the forested and mountainous country. When they had seen the keep, they had taken the side road that led to it.

They moved up a narrow, rocky track. A sheer wall of natural stone was on their left, the path falling away to a steep cliff on the right. There was a small widening ahead, where the main gate to the keep was. The blue-clad men-at-arms who guarded the entrance shouted at them to give their names and state their business. All along the wall, they saw curious faces peeing down at them – eager to welcome new champions of Law but ready with crossbow and pole arm to give another sort of welcome to enemies.

When all three of the travelers had given their names and told their professions, and Basch had called them the “Champions of Thunder,” the drawbridge was lowered and the portcullis raised. Two plate-mail clad men-at-arms carrying pole arms approached the three adventurers, telling them to put any weapons away and come with them. They led them through the gatehouse and into a courtyard beyond.

They stopped in the courtyard when another man in plate mail, this one carrying a shield and armed with a long sword, bid them to halt. Next to the man was another who wore robes and had a great book. Flanking the two were two more men-at-arms in plate mail. The corporal took their names and the scribe wrote them all down in his book. The armored man asked if they were merchants and when they claimed they weren’t, he waved them through, allowing them to finally enter the keep proper.

They walked south past stable and warehouse with parapets atop their roofs, then turned to follow the way westward. A taller smithy stood in the cobblestone street and they could hear the men working within. They passed by two low buildings with wooden placards over the doors. The first read “Provisioner” and the second “Trader.” They were well-provisioned and so walked past them and the houses that lined the other side of the street.

Some of the folks in the keep gave them strange looks but most simply ignored the adventurers.

They finally came to another courtyard, this one with a large, gushing fountain in the center of the square. Two more buildings opened into the Fountain Square. Over one door was a sign that proclaimed it to be the “Traveler’s Inn” while a simple sign over the other listed it as simply a “Tavern.”

Their throats were dusty and dry from the road so they opted to enter the tavern first. The smell of cooked meat, bread, and other good food greeted them as they entered the room and they found that in the early morning, they were alone except for a man in robes who sat at a far table, seemingly lost in deep thought. A man stood near several casks stacked up by the far wall and over him was a sign that listed the prices of food and drink in the place.

The prices were quite high.

A mug of ale or a glass of wine cost an electrum piece, according to the posting, though small beer or bark tea was only a silver coin. The honey mead was a gold piece for a mug. The tavern had a decent variety of food with bread being only a copper coin a slice and pudding, soup, or fruit only a silver coin for a bowl. Both the stew and the hot pie were an electrum piece while the roast fowl coast a gold coin and the roast joint cost two gold coins.

The three sat down and called for ale. The barkeep asked if they would be buying him a pint as well and after a moment, Basch smiled and said “Of course!” The man filled four mugs and brought them over, sitting down with them and drinking his ale. When they asked him what he had heard of the Caves of Chaos, he told them that an ogre sometimes helped the cave dwellers.

“I heard that too,” Bailey said.

“I heard the bugbears in the upper caves were afraid of dwarves,” Basch said.

“Well, I heard that a powerful magic-user would destroy any invaders of the caves,” Nacian replied.

“What is your name good sirrah?” Basch asked the barkeep.

“Bob,” the man replied, finishing his pint and licking his lips.

“Have you heard any other tales of the caves?” Nacian asked.

“Depends,” the barkeep replied. “I have a powerful thirst and prefer honey mead to ale.”

The three looked at each other and then ordered another round, asking Bob to get himself some honey mead as well and continue to drink with them. Over the course of the next few minutes, they learned from Bob that there were hordes of tiny dog-men in the lower caves and that tribes of different creatures lived in the different caves. They also learned that the caves lay somewhere to the east in the wilderness and that the lower caves held the lesser creatures while the higher caves were filled with all sorts of terrible beasts.

“Peter might know more,” Bob said, pointing to the man in robes at another table. “He’s a traveling priest who has been here a few weeks. You might want to ask him.”

He told them that the priest was a likable fellow though his acolytes had taken a vow of silence and never spoke. Those two were strange and unnerving, he said.

The man at the other table appeared to be deep in thought or perhaps prayer. An empty mug and a plate that had been cleaned of food sat before him. Basch thanked the barkeep and the three adventurers walked over to the priest. Basch apologized if he was interrupting the man’s prayer but asked if he could talk to him. The priest opened his eyes and smiled, telling the man he was just enjoying the feeling of the filling breakfast he’d just eaten. He bid them to sit down and join him.

They learned that he had come to the borderlands to fight evil. He said he had stopped over at the keep to talk theology with learned people and convert any who wished to know the gods. When Basch asked what god he worshipped, the man merely held out his hands and told them “All of the gods of Law.” Unfortunately, he didn’t know much of the Caves of Chaos that they hadn’t already heard.

They ended up having a meal with the man. Bailey ordered the stew and more ale while Basch had hot pie and soup. Nacian got the roast joint and found it quite delicious and filling.

They went to the inn next door and got rooms, each of them finding themselves in a small room with a bed with straw tick mattress, tiny table, and a candle. Each of their rooms had a narrow window that looked out onto other courtyards in the keep. They learned from the innkeeper that there was also a loan bank in the town, as well as a chapel.

Nacian told the others he wanted to go into the woods to commune with nature for an hour or so. He bid them good day and told them he would return but Basch turned to Bailey when he had left.

“We’d better go after him and see that he doesn’t get into trouble,” he told the girl.

She nodded and they followed behind, leaving the keep and lounging in the grass while the man tended to some trees at the edge of the forest. Nacian was used to such treatment. Basch had done the same thing on the road and the druid had decided it didn’t matter.

They returned to the keep and then went to the great inner gatehouse. They could see that it was like a small fort. The southern portion was only about 15 feet high and had a battlement running around the top. The rear portion was 30 feet tall with battlements. Arrow slits were in the southern section and along the walls of the 20-foot wide, 10-foot high passage that sloped upwards towards the inner courtyard. The open heavy gates appeared to be double-bound with iron and were spiked. There were two guards in the gateway.

Basch told the guards on duty there that they were noteworthy adventurers who wished to see the castellan. The guard asked their names but didn’t recognize any of them. He told them the castellan was a very busy man but he would pass on the word that they wanted to speak to him.

They had passed the large chapel on the way to the gatehouse and so entered that large building. The building had a peaked roof two stories tall and the interior was one large room. The altar was at the eastern end under a great stained-glass window that was some 20 feet high and eight feet wide. An offering box was secured atop a heavy pedestal in the southeast corner and steps went down in the northwest corner. Soon after they entered, a young man in robes came up the steps and approached them. They learned he was an acolyte and he fetched the Curate for them.

The man seemed somewhat dour but chatted with them.

“Beware of treachery from within the party,” he told them. “Often there are traitors amongst those who enter the Caves of Chaos.”

They talked to him for some time and he also told them he didn’t much care for the priest.

They left and ended up going to the smithy next. The building was connected to the warehouse near the main gatehouse but was a good 20 feet tall with a five-foot parapet above, pierced for defense. The main floor had a forge, bellows, and other smithing equipment. A large man and two younger men worked on various metal implements. There were two swords, a mace, a suit of chain mail, and a dozen or so spears on display in the shop. The smith also told them there were hordes of tiny dog-men in the lower caves.

They visited the provisioner next and found that the low shop had a great deal of goods for sale. He had no weapons other than daggers, spears, arrows, and bolts but told them that the trader next door carried weapons and armor and large amounts of goods. When they told him they were adventurers, he went pale.

“Beware of the mad hermit of the north lands,” he said.

He didn’t know anything else about the hermit save that the man was insane and dangerous.

They visited the trader next and found that the small shop dealt with all kinds of armor, weapons, and large-quantity goods such as salt, spices, cloth and rare woods. The trader told them he was interested in obtaining furs and would pay a good price for them if they were in good condition. He told them that piles of magic armor were hoarded in the southern caves of the Caves of Chaos.

They finally went to the loan bank and as they entered the building, they saw that, in addition to the banker and a scrawny old clerk was another man-at-arms who eyed them suspiciously. They learned from the banker that they could store their riches in the place for a month at no charge but if they took the goods or gold out before that, there was a cost. He also told them that he had heard that nobody had ever returned from an expedition to the Caves of Chaos.

“Well, we’ll be returning,” Basch said with a grin.

Displayed on a shelf for sale were several items, each marked with a price. They included:

• a carved ivory tusk priced at 50 gold coins.
• a silver cup priced at 20 gold coins.
• a crystal decanter priced at 45 gold coins.
• a jade ring priced at 250 gold coins.
• a dagger with jeweled scabbard priced at 600 gold coins.
• a fur-trimmed cap priced at 75 gold coins.
• three blank vellum books priced at 20 gold coins each.
• a gold and silver belt priced at 90 gold coins.
• a set of locksmith’s tools priced at 100 gold coins.
• an iron box with a secret lock priced at 50 gold coins.

They explored the keep only a little while longer before having dinner and retiring to their rooms with plans to search for the Caves of Chaos the next day.

* * *

The three adventurers left the keep early the next morning. The corporal at the gate asked if they were moving on or were just going to go out for an hour again. Basch told him they were going to explore the Caves of Chaos and he wished them luck.

“You’ll need it,” he said.

They traveled down to the main road and then headed east along it. Nacian had learned from the barkeep that the caves were in the woods somewhere along the road in a deep ravine.

At first the river came close to the road on the south side but it soon meandered away again as they passed a hill to the south. The woods likewise pulled away from the road as it started to turn in a more northerly direction. Nacian suggested they move into the woods and they turned northward and made their way through the undergrowth, coming out in a wide clearing probably a mile across that was empty of anything except rolling hills. They headed eastward again and came to the road once more before heading into the woods in a northwesterly direction.

The forest they had been passing through had been getting more dense, tangled, and gloomier than before. The thick, twisted tree trunks, unnaturally misshapen limbs, writhing roots, clutching and grasping thorns and briars all seemed to warn and ward them off, but they had forced and hacked their way through regardless.

“Don’t hurt the trees!” Nacian had told them.

The strange growth had suddenly ended. They stepped out of the thicket into a ravine-like area. The walls rose rather steeply to either side to a height of about 100 feet or so. Dark streaked rock mingled with the earth. Clumps of trees grew here and there, both on the floor of the ravine and up the sloping walls of the canyon. The opening they stood in was about 200 feet wide. The ravine ran at least 400 feet west to where the western end rose in a steep slope. Here and there, at varying heights on all sides of the ravine, they could see the black mouths of cave-like openings in the rock walls. The sunlight was dim, the air dank, there was an oppressive feeling there – as if something evil was watching and waiting to pounce upon them. There were bare, dead trees here and there, and upon one, a vulture perched and gazed hungrily at them. A flock of ravens rose croaking from the ground, the beat of their wings and their cries magnified by the terrain to sound loud and horrible. Amongst the litter of rubble, boulders, and dead wood scattered about on the ravine floor, they could see bits of gleaming ivory and white – closer inspection revealed that they were bones and skulls of men, animals, and other things ...

They knew that they had certainly discovered the Caves of Chaos.

There were numerous caves and some of the small thickets were too dense to see through. They guessed there might even be more caves amongst those copses and decided to try to explore the first cave on the south side, hoping that the creatures there were not too terribly powerful or organized.

They entered the cavern to find that the natural cave quickly turned into a worked stone tunnel. Basch lit a torch and only about 20 feet in from the entrance, the tunnels split into three other directions: west, south, and southeast. They opted to head west and as they came down the tunnel, they heard noises ahead.

“Bree-Yark!” the cry went up.

A half-dozen goblins were in the room. Nacian let fly with a bullet from his sling as soon as their torch light showed the creatures. The bullet flew straight and true and the goblin fell back and fled the chamber. The other five rushed them. The battle was fast and furious and Nacian fired sling bullets at the creatures while Bailey and Basch fought them hand to hand.

Basch was injured repeatedly by goblin spears until he finally swooned and fell to the floor, unconscious. Bailey and Nacian finished off the rest of the goblins and tended to their friend but just then they heard the sounds of footsteps coming from the far side of the room.

“Pick him up and run!” Nacian yelled as he snatched up Basch’s torch.

The half-elf woman did so and they fled from caves, running to the edge of the forest and hiding themselves in the underbrush. They saw another half-dozen goblins come out of the cave but the bright light obviously hurt their eyes and they stumbled about until they fled back into the cave.

Nacian and Bailey returned to the keep, annoying the corporal.

“I thought you said you were going to be gone for more than an hour!” the man said. “It isn’t easy raising and lowering this drawbridge you know!”

They returned to the inn.

* * *

Basch had recovered enough by the next day to cast healing spells on himself. Nacian suggested they invite the priest to join them and he found the man’s chambers that morning. Another man in robes answered the door and didn’t speak to Nacian but gestured into the air and pantomimed eating and drinking.

“He’s at the tavern?” Nacian asked.

The young man simply nodded. Nacian thanked him and headed for the tavern where he found the priest finishing his breakfast. He chatted with the man and then invited him to join them in an adventure into the Caves of Chaos. Peter was more than happy to help destroy evil and Nacian told him to meet them the next morning.

* * *

They left the next morning with the priest and again headed to the Caves of Chaos, sticking to the road and not venturing into the swampy land south of it. They found themselves again at the ravine and headed into the goblin cave.

This time they turned to the left, heading southeastward and soon finding themselves in another guard room. Another half-dozen goblins were in the room and Bailey rushed the creatures. One of them fled through another passage and up a flight of steps while the rest eagerly joined the fray. Bailey found she was facing four of the creatures while a lone goblin attacked Basch. Nacian cast a spell and two of the goblins started glowing purple.

Just then, Peter the priest smashed his mace into Nacian’s head.

“Fools!” he shouted as the druid stumbled back, injured. “You will not defeat the followers of chaos!”

He howled with laughter and Nacian remembered the words of the curate: “Beware of treachery from within the party.” He turned to the priest and yelled for help even as Basch killed the goblin he fought and turned to the man.

Bailey was having some trouble with the three creatures she faced. She fought with them for several minutes before cutting them down one at a time.

In the corridor, however, the battle was not going well. Nacian had managed to get off a spell that made Peter glow like the goblins before but even so, he and Basch were finding it almost impossible to harm the man. He had plate mail and a large shield and wielded a great mace. He injured both Basch and Nacian, focusing most of his energies on Basch and calling the man a cleric of a feeble god, before the two each managed to hurt the man. He had backed away from them carefully.

“This is not over yet!” he said with a grin before laughing again.

He backed away and suddenly the faerie fire on him went out, leaving him in darkness.

“Ah!” he yelled and ran away.

They quickly regrouped and found that they were all injured though not terribly so. This time they searched the bodies and found silver and copper coins on them. They headed out of the other end of the room and up two flights of stairs before finding the goblin who had run from the battle. He stood before a solid door and when he saw them, he started to bang on it with his spear.

Nacian let a bullet fly from his sling and killed the creature.

They discussed what to do but then opened the door to find larger creatures within, these in fine weapons and armor. They slammed the door and ran out of the complex again, guessing that the things had been hobgoblins and realizing they were in no shape to face them. They hid in the woods again and soon saw a small group of four hobgoblins march out of the goblin cave. The creatures surveyed the area and policed the ravine near the cave before they returned the way they’d come, marching back into the cavern.

They returned to the keep again, Basch using his magic to heal them as best he could. They warned the corporal of the treachery of the priest as well. He questioned them, wondering if they hadn’t killed the priest and taken his possessions. They stood up for themselves and the corporal finally backed down.

Nacian asked if Bailey could use better armor and the woman said she could. In the interest of protecting the party and himself, they went to the trader and he bought her a suit of banded mail with some money donated by Basch as well. The half-elf woman thanked the two men.

* * *

They used Basch’s magic to heal themselves the next day.

* * *

They left the keep again the next day and returned to the Caves of Chaos, exploring some of the copses of woods in the area. They found another cave in one copse not far from the goblin cave and as they entered it, saw what looked like a bear on the floor of the rough, natural cavern. There was a strong, sour odor in the place. They talked a moment about what to do until they heard noises and heavy breathing from a side chamber. Then they heard heavy footsteps.

They fled, again entering the goblin tunnels. They turned right again and found that there were more goblins in the guard room. One of the creatures fled the room yelling “Bree-Yark!” while another ran to a barrel in the corner and the last two rushed the party.

They made quick work of the two goblins that had charged them but the third had pulled a dripping sack out of the barrel and ran to the corner of the room. He pushed on the wall and it opened as he yelled “Bree-Yark!” and flung the bag within.

A moment later, an obscenely huge creature came through the door and the same strong, sour odor they’d smell in the cave in the copse filled the room. The thing stood at least eight feet tall and dragged a club behind it. It was horrible to behold and Bailey realized they had found the ogre she had heard tell about. She grinned as the creature lumbered across the room and swung its club at the girl.

She easily deflected the blow and the fight was on. The goblin rushed them as well and Basch quickly smashed its head in with his hammer.

The battle against the ogre was long and furious. As Basch and Bailey cut and bludgeoned the horror, Nacian cast spells upon it, causing it to glow and making it easier to see. The druid also fired bullet after bullet at the thing, sometimes hitting it. After several minutes, they cut the beast down without taking any injuries themselves! It had been so clumsy and slow that they had managed through sheer teamwork to best it.

They quickly searched the goblin bodies for coin, finding little, and the ogre, finding nothing but a rotten bear-skin armor. Nacian kicked over the water barrel but it was empty of anything but water.

Just then more goblins came running down the corridor. After another furious battle, they had decimated the half-dozen or so goblins and been only slightly injured in return.

They peeked into the secret door in the corner. A great leather bag sat in the cave with a smaller, wet bag beside it. They guessed that was the side cavern where they’d heard the breathing before.

They dragged the bags into the guard room and when Nacian looked into the wet bag, he was pleasantly surprised to find that it full of gold coins. Basch found more bags in the great leather bag and pulled them out, looking in each of them carefully. The first was full of silver coins while the second had a hard cheese. In the third were copper and electrum pieces while the fourth was full of gold pieces. A keg of brandy was in the fifth while the sixth held copper pieces and the seventh was also full of gold pieces.

They quickly looked in the cave again, not entering the adjoining chamber where they’d seen the sleeping bear. There was a heap of old bones piled in the south side of the chamber but they ignored them. They quickly went down the corridor where the other goblins had come from to look into another room where they could see firelight. Goblin females and children were in the room.

They left the caves again, returning to the keep. They found that the wet bag had 250 gold pieces in it while there was 287 silver pieces in the first bag. There were 182 copper pieces and 91 electrum pieces in the next bag and 289 gold pieces in the other gold-filled bag. The sixth bag had 303 copper pieces and the last bag had 241 gold pieces.

After some discussion, they went to the trader to buy plate mail and a larger shield for Bailey, figuring that Basch would then get her banded mail. While they were there, the man found that some of the coins were actually lead coins with a wash of gold and nearly worthless. They examined all of the coins and found that the sack with 241 gold coins had been actually filled with fakes.

They still got the plate mail for the girl.

* * *

They returned to the caves the next day, this time searching more of the copses in the ravine. They found another cave with natural caverns within it on the far side of the ravine and entered the place, bearing towards their right once they got within. The empty gallery stank and bones and rotting corpses were spread here and there amidst a litter of dead leaves and old branches.

The cave they found themselves in at the end of the tunnel was very wet and all of the walls and the floor had a sheen from the dampness. There was a large pool of shallow water and a few white, blind fish swam there. There was a jewel-encrusted goblet in the water.

“It’s too easy,” Basch said. He turned to Nacian. “Get it.”

Nacian drew out a torch and had Basch light it off his own. He tossed the torch into the water but it just hissed and went out and then floated. They watched the wood but it didn’t sizzle as if it were in acid so Nacian took out a piece of rope and tried to lasso the goblet.

His first toss missed and the rope sank to the bottom of the pool. As he started to pull it back, the rock bottom of the pool suddenly seemed to ripple and curve upwards, grasping the rope! Nacian drew his scimitar and cut the rope, then ran. The others followed him out of the cave as the three gray oozes rippled out of the water. They fled the copse of woods and ran back to the forest.

“Did you get the goblet?” Nacian asked them.

“What?” Basch said.

“I distracted them and you were supposed to get the goblet!” Nacian said.

“You distracted them right at us!” Basch replied.

They entered the goblin caves again, turning right and heading down to the guard room. They quickly dispatched the three goblins there and then moved on to the common room they’d seen the day before, first investigating several side passages that all ended in dead ends. They went through the room, ignoring the females and postering young. The corridor beyond went to the north and then cut to the west again. As they rounded the corner, several crossbow bolts flew out of the darkness of the tunnel ahead, bouncing off Basch’s and Bailey’s shields and armor. The cleric rushed down the corridor to find four goblins frantically reloading their crossbows.

The group made fast work of the goblins, killing them all in short order. There weren’t any major injuries so they took the tunnel to the right and followed it until it opened into a large room with many bales, boxes, crates, barrels, and sacks stacked and heaped all around. They found nothing alive in the room so started to search the booty. They found little of value. There was nothing but cloth, food, beer, and wine, none of any great worth.

As they were searching, part of the wall across from the entrance to the room pivoted aside and four hobgoblins marched out. The creatures had long swords in their hands and when they saw the adventurers, they rushed them.

Two of the creatures quickly fell to Bailey’s and Basch’s weapons. The other two fought fiercely, one of them making a fighting retreat back to the secret door and slamming it shut behind him as they killed the last of the creatures.

They fumbled at the hidden latch and finally managed to get the secret door opened. It revealed a tunnel that went due west away from the goblin storage room. They crept down it until they came to a T-intersection with steps leading up to their left. As they headed up the steps, crossbow bolts flew down from above and they rushed up the stairs and charged the two hobgoblins in the room beyond.

Bailey cut down one of the retreating hobgoblins but the other made it to one of the two doors of the room and banged on it.

“Chief!” the creature yelled in his own tongue. “Intruders! Intruders! We need your help!”

Only Bailey could understand the creature’s language and she yelled a warning to the rest. As they killed the creature, the door opened and a huge and ugly hobgoblin stood there and bellowed at them. Behind him were four females, all of them armed with long swords. The chief wore plate armor.

Nacian took one look at the creature and cast faerie fire. The hobgoblin chieftain began to glow purple, looked down at himself, and then bellowed at them all. Nacian ran down the stairs into the darkness followed by Basch. Bailey fought a fighting retreat down the stairs and then turned and fled after the hobgoblin chief cut her with his sword and badly injured her.

In the near-darkness, she ran down the corridor to the secret door and into the torch lit goblin storage room. Nacian was behind the secret door and slammed it shut behind her. Then Basch pushed several crates up against it.

They heard someone banging on the door and saw it start to open so they all fled.

They escaped that day and returned to the keep with quite a tale to tell.

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  1. Otakar's Avatar
    Max, I just want to thank you for all of your great writing. These reads are the best!
  2. Max_Writer's Avatar
    Thanks Otakar. Glad people are enjoying them.