Session 53: Prisoners Lost, Prisoners Found

Caves of Chaos Session 53
With all their precautions in place, the group rested in shifts, while Norman still lay tied and bound in the carpet.

Valeria took the first shift. Norman begged to be freed, but Valeria was insistent that he would have to wait.

After two hours, Valeria woke Vernim and went to sleep.

Norman pleaded with Vernim about the inhumane treatment, claiming they were treating him worse than the bandits had.

"I'm sorry, Norman," Vernim replied, "but I'm not the leader of the party."

After two hours, Vernim woke Prynhawn and went to sleep.

Norman begged Prynhawn to let him go, insisting he had done nothing wrong and their treatment of him was unjust. Prynhawn refused to reply.

After two hours, Prynhawn woke Yanliz and went to sleep.

"Why are you treating me like a caged animal?" Norman pleaded, but Yanliz was silent.

After two hours, Yanliz woke Dubricus and went to sleep.

"Please let me go!" Norman begged, "I can reward you with riches, if you'll just set me free."

After two hours, Dubricus woke Prynhawn, who woke the rest of the group.

Rested, they discussed what to do next. Norman begged to be brought back to the keep.

Brother Martin cast zone of truth where Norman was bound and confirmed he was enchanted by it.

"Where are you from?" Valeria asked.

"I already told you I came from Waterdeep," Norman reiterated.

"What were you doing in the area when you were captured?" Brother Martin asked.

"I already told you I was traveling with a band of merchants when they took me prisoner," Norman replied.

"What did the band of merchants have?" Valeria asked.

"I already told you my family ships spices, tapestries, and rugs," Norman answered.

"What's your family name again?" Brother Martin asked.

"I already told you my family name is Worrell!" Norman insisted. "Come on guys, let me go?"

"I think we can probably let him go," Brother Martin suggested.

"Why weren't you in chains when we found you?" Lawrence asked.

"They didn't put me in chains," Norman replied. "I don't know how to answer that question."

"Couldn't you just have opened the door and left?" Valeria asked.

"I thought the door was locked," Norman answered.

"What did they want from you?" Brother Martin asked. "Did you ever find out?"

"I already told you they wanted to ransom me," Norman insisted.

"Valeria?" Philip whispered. "Do you think that when he says 'I already told you' that means he doesn't mean it?"

"That's a good thought," she realized.

"Where are you from again?" Valeria repeated.

"I already told you I came from Waterdeep," Norman repeated in turn.

"I know what you told us," Valeria asserted, "but where are you from?"

"I'm from...Luskan" Norman confessed.

"Why did you lie?" Brother Martin asked.

"I'm afraid if I told you the truth you would hold it against me," Norman explained. "Just like you're keeping me captive here. Why are you keeping me captive? Why won't you let me go?"

"Why are you here in the first place?" Valeria inquired. "Why were you in the area? Luskan is pretty far north."

"What do you mean?" Norman struggled. "There was nothing left for me in Luskan."

"What is your occupation?" Prynhawn asked.

"Are you a merchant?" Lawrence added.

"I like to think of myself as an aristocrat," Norman replied.

"So you were a leader of Luskan?" Valeria asked.

"No," Norman replied, "I never said I was a leader of Luskan.

"I know," Yanliz pressed, "but were you a leader of Luskan?"

"Answer yes or no to all of our questions," Dubricus instructed.

"No," Norman responded.

"What source of income allowed you to become an aristocrat?" Lawrence asked.

"Wait," Dubricus interrupted. "Did you answer no to the question that I asked?"

"No," Norman repeated.

"You don't have to say yes or no to all these questions," Brother Martin advised. "Ask again."

"You're confusing me!" Norman protested.

"What source of income allowed you to become an aristocrat, as you've described yourself?" Lawrence asked.

"Selling wears, like I told you before," Norman insisted.

"What kind of wears?" Lawrence asked, "and where did you acquire them?"

"Whatever we can," Norman replied. "Usually others acquire them for me and—"

"Do you know how those people acquire them?" Lawrence probed.

"I'm sure they acquire them in lots of different ways," Norman justified.

"Were any of those ways criminal?" Brother Martin asked.

"Criminal by whose laws?" Norman asked. "We're out in the wilderness."

"Did people get hurt by your business?" Brother Martin asked.

"I don't think anyone that I do business with wants to hurt anyone," Norman replied.

"That's a yes or no question," Yanliz demanded.

"Did they steal from people?" Valeria asked.

"Yes or no," Yanliz added.

"Wait, I thought I didn't have to answer yes or no!" Norman protested. "You know this would be a lot easier if you let me out of this carpet."

"What would you do if we let you out of this carpet?" Brother Martin asked.

"Stretch my legs for one," Norman answered. "I'm still at your mercy. I hope you'll take me back to the keep."

"This guy is clearly avoiding our questions!" Yanliz declared.

"Wait, one more time," Brother Martin suggested. "Why were you in the area?"

"To make money," Norman explained.

"Off of what?" Brother Martin asked.

"Selling goods," Norman elaborated.

"What goods?" Brother Martin pressed.

"Whatever goods I could sell," Norman explained.

"What goods were you selling?" Brother Martin clarified.

"Well," Norman replied, "even a carpet like this would be good to sell."

"Are you selling anything nefarious?" Brother Martin asked. "Anything that could bring harm?"

"Nefarious?" Norman questioned. "Like poison?"

"Like weapons or anything?" Brother Martin elaborated. "Were selling anything that could bring harm to people? Yes or no?"

"No..." Norman replied. "I was not selling anything that could harm anyone."

"Was anyone with you selling anything that could bring harm to anyone?" Brother Martin continued.

"Not that I recall," Norman answered. "I certainly hope not, because...I don't really care."

"Who were you selling it to?" Prynhawn asked.

"To whoever the highest bidder is," Norman explained.

"Where did you sell it?" Prynhawn asked.

"Different places," Norman replied. "We sell stuff to the keep if they'll buy anything."

"Why were you here?" Prynhawn asked.

"Here where?" Norman asked.

"In the middle of a cave," Valeria explained, "surrounded by caves full of monsters."

"I already told you that we were captured," Norman insisted.

"Were you?" Prynhawn asked.

"I thought you told us you were here to make money?" Lawrence asked. "Were you captured to make money?"

"I think I said I left Luskan to make money," Norman clarified.

"No," Lawrence pressed. "You said you came here to make money."

"Haven't I answered enough questions already?" Norman pleaded. "There's dozens of you! I can't... Why are you keeping me trapped in here?"

"Do you feel that?" Yanliz asked as he drew his sword and poked at the carpet.

"I hardly feel that," Norman grunted, "and I can feel my legs."

"Well that is my shortsword," Yanliz explained, "and we know you are avoiding our questions and if you don't answer our questions the way we want, there's nothing that will stop me from shoving this into the carpet."

"Look, you have no use to us if you don't answer our questions," Lawrence elaborated. "We know you have been lying to us."

"I will not hesitate..." Yanliz began.

"I have a question," Dubricus announced. "Do you like barbecue? Because, I happen to like barbecue."

"I do like barbecue," Norman answered hesitantly.

"What do you think about barbecued human?" Dubricus asked from ten feet away.

"I've never had barbecued human before," Norman answered. "Have you ever eaten barbecued human before?"

"No," Dubricus replied, "but I'm willing to try it."

"Please don't kill me!" Norman pleaded as Dubricus used prestidigitation to create the scent of barbecue.

"If you don't answer our questions correctly and quickly," Dubricus threatened, "you're going to smell like this."

"I'll tell you anything you want to hear!" Norman promised as the zone of truth spell elapsed.

The party was split as to what to do with Norman. Brother Martin offered the most leniency, suggesting they untie his ropes. Meanwhile Yanliz wanted to punish him for lying. Lawrence, Dubricus, and Valeria were convinced he was lying and was probably in cahoots with the bandits. Prynhawn suggested they just return him to the keep and let the keep deal with him. Vernim thought he may be a con artist, but still may have been captured by the bandits, and either way should be brought back to the keep.

Meanwhile, Norman pleaded, "I'm so hungry! You haven't fed me at all! You've treated me worse than the bandits did!"

"Shut up!" Yanliz commanded, thrusting his sword slightly harder into the carpet.

Vernim offered to give him some rations.

Everyone agreed that Norman was a liar, and eventually agreed to take him back to the keep, but were still unsure about when and how to transport him.

"You can keep my hands tied while you bring me back to the keep!" Norman insisted. "What are you so worried about? There's a dozen of you!"

"I don't see any point in talking to him any more," Prynhawn suggested. "Why don't we just leave him here and bring him back at the end of the day?"

"What if monsters come and kill me?" Norman whined. "Aren't you at least going to feed me? What if I have to relieve myself?"

"If we leave him here, we're risking losing him as well as the woman we've already lost," Yanliz warned.

"That's right!" Norman yelled." That's the first smart thing you've said.

"There's no way he's getting out of this," Valeria insisted. "He's wrapped in a rug. He's not going anywhere."

Vernim took out some rations and fed Norman within the carpet.

As they prepared to leave, Norman whined. "What if I have to relieve myself?"

"Pee in the rug!" he answered.

"I can't believe that you're treating me..." Norman cried. "What kind of adventurers are you? You're treating me worse than the bandits did, and the bandits—"

After they departed the room, Jess locked the door behind them, and soon Norman's cries faded.

They considered going back to the room with the bats, but eventually decided to explore the next cave on the northern shelf.

Just inside the cave mouth they saw a weather-bleached wooden sign with a message in large crude letters. Vernim and Yanliz recognized the writing as the goblinkin common tongue, and Vernim read it out loud: “Comrades! Join the cause! Repel the loathsome invaders who profane our ancestral caves with their sacrificial altars! All humanoids welcome!”
Comrades! Join the cause! Repel the loathsome invaders who profane our ancestral caves with their sacrificial altars! All humanoids welcome!
"Sounds like a gang," Yanliz suggested.

"It says ancestral grounds, and I think that must be the goblins' grounds," Valeria pondered, "because who else speaks goblin?"

"Hobgoblins," Lawrence offered.

"Aren't we the invaders?" Prynhawn asked.

"Maybe it's a trap,' Valeria proposed.

Vernim and Lawrence agreed. "That's what I assumed," the sorcerer replied, "because you're coming to get sacrificed."

"The part that confuses me," Philip considered, "is the sacrificial altars."

"Maybe it's the necromancers," Lawrence proposed. "Maybe it means that all living things are welcome here, because we're trying to fight the undead...or it's a trick."

With Prynhawn and Philip in the lead, they entered the cave and it quickly ended in an intersection with corridors going to the east and west. They turned right and headed east.

After thirty feet, the corridor split to the north and south. They took the southern corridor, which went down stairs for twenty feet before opening into a small twenty by thirty foot chamber.

Exits led out of the chamber's east and west walls, and next to each they saw a large humanoid standing guard with yellow-brown fur covering their yellowish skin. Great fangs and incisors protruded from their thick lips. Their eyes were greenish-white, with red pupils. Great wedge-shaped ears stood out on either side of their heads, rotating independently as the group approached.

They both turned towards the group, raising their morningstars and shouting, "Degralk! Akhan! Thrighok! Akhan!"
Bugbear instructions
As the group entered they realized that the two creatures were shouting to two others guarding the passage from the stairs.

Valeria used her wand of eldritch blast, but missed the hairy creature that slammed its morningstar into Prynhawn's shield. Philip, planning on rolling into the room, was startled by the flanking attack that came crashing down on him. At the last second, Prynhawn swung his shield from his attacker to deflect the blow coming down on Philip. Brother Martin missed with a guiding bolt. One of the hairy creatures rushed up and swung at Philip, but the halfling managed to duck under the swing. Dubricus hit three of them with scorching rays. Prynhawn cast searing smite, and slashed his attacker with his flaming sword. As Philip's second attacker came into view, Yanliz, who had recognized the shouting as a command to attack and held his hunter's mark, sunk an arrow deep into the creature's hairy yellow hide, but missed with a second arrow. Jess also sunk an arrow into it, as did Vernim, with his crossbow, and the creature fell. Lawrence hit two more with scorching rays. The last creature rushed up and swung at Prynhawn, who avoided the blow.

Valeria missed again with an eldritch blast. Yanliz transferred his hunter's mark, but missed. Prynhawn avoided his first attacker and slashed it again with his searing blade, this time catching its fur on fire. Philip swung his staff at his first attacker, but it batted the stick aside. He kicked at it, but was deflected by the creature's shield. A second kick on the other side landed with a thud on its hairy leg. The creature brought its morningstar down on Philip, but was again deflected by Prynhawn's shield. Brother Martin swung his mace feebly at Philip's attacker. Jess shot Prynhawn's second attacker with her bow. Vernim hit Prynhawn's second attacker with a crossbow. Lawrence missed it with a firebolt, but it missed Prynhawn. From the steps, Dubricus managed to catch Prynhawn's second attacker and Philip's attacker with burning hands over his companions' heads, though both creatures ducked quickly, avoiding much of the flames.

Valeria scratched Prynhawn's burning attacker with an eldritch blast, as the creature wildly smashed its morningstar into Prynhawn's helmet and avoided the paladin's counter. Philip capitalized on his ducking attacker and threw two flying knees at its face. The first missed, but propelled the second into its jaw. Its eyes rolled back into its head as Philip brought his staff down on its head, crushing its skull. His other attacker smashed his morning star into his side, avoiding Prynhawn's shield. Yanliz and Jess missed with their bows. Brother Martin missed with his mace. Dubricus and Lawrence missed with firebolts. Vernim cast cure wounds on Prynhawn.

Valeria missed with an eldritch blast. Yanliz missed with his bow. Philip swung his staff at his last attacker, but the blow was deflected. He spun with a kick and then another, sending the hairy creature bouncing off the far wall and onto the floor, motionless. From the lower steps, Brother Martin reached over Prynhawn and bonked his mace into the last attacker's skull, and it fell to the ground.

The battle was over and Valeria started examining the walls as Jess searched the bodies, collecting 13 gold coins, and 11 silvers.

Vernim noticed that in addition to their morningstars, one of the creatures had a double-bladed throwing ax on its belt. He showed it to the rest of the group. Dubricus put the ax in his pack, and Brother Martin decided to take one of the morningstars.

Valeria didn't find anything on the walls, but Vernim noticed a key ring with the two large keys hanging in a niche high up on the west wall.

Valeria retrieved the keys and they made their way down the east corridor.

After thirty feet, the corridor turned briefly south and continued east for twenty feet before ending in a heavily barred and locked door.

After Valeria confirmed she found no traps, Prynhawn used the key to unlock the door, and removed the bar.

Philip peered into the dark room and saw several humans lying on the floor. He counted six of them, scattered about the far side of the room. Some moaned and stirred, and he saw that many appeared battered and bruised, and all were barely clothed.

As the group entered, three shrunk away in fear. One was gagged and his hands were bound and his fingers appeared broken. None of them appeared armed.

"Who are you?" Brother Martin asked.

"We're... we're prisoners," one moaned. "Are you here to rescue us?"

"I would say so?" Valeria replied. "Are you okay?"

"Thank you!" one welcomed.

Valeria and Vernim searched the walls of the thirty foot square chamber, while Brother Martin used his channel divinity to heal them all with preserve life. Their heads lifted in relief, though they were still exhausted.

"Cob!" Vernim shouted, recognizing the huntsmen. "Cob! It is so good to see you."

"My friends," Cob sighed, "I found you. You found me! How long has it been? It's so good to see you."

"Please, tell us everything what happened," Vernim sought. "I am truly sorry we have not run into each other thus far."

"I went looking for you, but I didn't know which cave to look in," Cob recalled. "I poked my head into some of the caves and that's all I remember."

Vernim suggested giving them a moon pie, but Valeria thought it would be wasted if they split it between them.

Vernim cast cure wounds on Cob and the one with broken fingers and removed the latter's gag.

They gathered the six humans and brought them out of the cave as quietly as possible. Once out of the caves, they all made their way back to the bandit's cave. Though they tried to hurry, the freed prisoners moved slowly.

"By any chance did you meet an aristocrat while you were imprisoned?" Vernim asked Cob. "Or anyone called Ace?"

"No," Cob replied. "I didn't meet anyone, except those hairy monsters that had us locked up."

Once they were back at the bandit cave, Yanliz checked on Norman and discovered that the carpet was cut open and Norman was gone.

"I said this would happen!" Yanliz called out.

The group entered and saw that the room was empty.

"That Snake!" Vernim yelled. "Snake in the grass!"

Yanliz examined the carpet and noticed that the ropes that had bound Norman had been cut and lay inside the carpet, and that the carpet had been cut from the inside.

As the others brought the freed prisoners into the room and to the beds, Yanliz went to the cave exit with Valeria, Prynhawn, Jess, Vernim, and Dubricus.

Philip made some bean soup for the former prisoners and the group.

Yanliz examined the exit and noticed that dozens of human sized creatures had passed in and out. Examining closer to the east, he was able to discern that four human-like creatures probably left the cave within the last day, one of them within the last hour.

They returned to the room and ate with the rest of the group, while the former prisoners rested on the beds eating soup. Philip had given them all a sip of brandy, and held the keg open in his hand, occasionally sharing with Cob.

Valeria asked them if they wanted to rest or return the keep, and they were split, three and three.

While they ate, they discussed bringing the former prisoners to the keep, resting here, dealing with the bats, or returning to the cave they just left.

"One thing to keep in mind is that Lykos is still at the keep," Yanliz mentioned. "And we haven't fed him in days or gave him water. And I don't know about you, but I kinda feel bad for him."

"Isn't our first priority these prisoners?" Philip asked. "They're all beat up. Shouldn't we take them back to the keep?"

"They're walking so slow," Valeria pointed out. "It's going to take us twelve hours to get back."

"Why don't we let them rest in this room and lock the door," Yanliz suggested, "and then we can adventure and get them after they've rested."

"Yeah," Lawrence agreed, "like in the afternoon, when we normally leave."

Jess, Dubricus, and Prynhawn agreed, but Brother Martin and Philip wanted to leave right away so they could get everyone back to the keep before dark.

Eventually they agreed they would finish a short rest, and then return to the keep after another hour of exploring, without spending much time searching or investigating.

Valeria sang a song of rest to help revitalize everyone.

"I have a question," Philip asked. "Can somebody tell me what patronize means?"

"It's the way an adult talks to a child that doesn't know what's going on," Brother Martin explained. "Like what Vernim did."

"It's when you're sarcastically acknowledging someone's position," Valeria offered, "or respecting them sarcastically. Like if a kid wanted to stop at the shop to get a sweet tart, and their mom said, 'No we can't. We have to go,' and the kid said 'Oh right, because getting back right away is so important.'"

"Oh," Philip said. "Where I'm from, I would hear that the kid wanted to get a sweet tart, and they would go to the shop, and then they were patronizing the shop."

"That's a different type of patronizing," Dubricus explained. "Patronizing someone is not necessarily mean spirited. Patronizing someone can be meant in a nice way, but you're not respecting someone for being as intelligent as they are."

"That sounds really mean!" Philip replied.

"How much brandy have you had?" Jess asked.

"Uh, this much," Philip indicated, turning over the empty keg.

"Philip, there's really two different kinds of patronizing," Brother Martin explained. "There's the patronizing with the kid and the parent, where there's an imbalance of power and the other doesn't respect it and is sarcastic, and there's patronizing a tavern where we go and give them money and they give us food and a place to stay. That kind is not disrespectful."

"Oh," Philip said. "Thank you."

When they were done resting, they let the former prisoners continue recuperating on the beds, and left, locking the door behind them.

They reentered the cave, and went east and down the stairs, returning to where they had fought the hairy jailers.

This time they headed west, and after thirty feet they found a door on the south wall. The corridor turned briefly north and continued west thirty feet before ending in a dead end.

Valeria did not detect any traps on the heavily barred and locked door.

Prynhawn used one of the large keys they had found to unlock the door, and removed the bar. Peering inside he saw nothing but darkness, even with his darkvision.

"I don't have a light spell that will dispel the darkness," Brother Martin said.

"I could cast darkness," Dubricus announced. "Or I have a spell that creates fire five feet wide and thirty feet long."

"Why don't we go the other direction then?" Yanliz suggested, and Valeria agreed.

Prynhawn barred and locked the door and they went back up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, they continued north, and after twenty feet, the corridor began to slope up and curve gradually to the right.

After sixty more feet, the corridor ended in another locked door, though this one was not barred. After Valeria did not detect any obvious traps, Prynhawn opened it using one of the keys and peered inside.

The small room was filled with crates, barrels, kegs, casks, and boxes.

Valeria gave the room a quick glance and turned to leave.

"Do you think we should leave the kegs here," Philip asked, "or are we definitely going to come back, because I can—"

"We're definitely coming back," Valeria promised.

"Do you think I should—" Philip started.

"No, I don't," Valeria rebuffed.

They closed the door and returned down the sloped passage.

Before the stairs, they turned west and continued west, past the cave exit.

After thirty more feet, there were stairs leading up to the north, and to the west, the corridor opened into a thirty foot square room with a coal filled brazier, around which sat several large humanoids on three-legged stools, smoking meat on skewers. A huge gong hung just behind them. The humanoids' yellowish skin was largely covered by yellow-brown fur. Great fangs and incisors protruded from their thick lips, and their eyes were greenish-white with red pupils. Great wedge-shaped ears stood out on either side of their heads, rotating independently as they turned to the group.
Bugbear gathering
One of them carefully put down its skewer and slowly rose, standing a full seven feet high. Holding both empty palms facing out, it stepped forward carefully saying “Kakkatok? Kakkatok?” in an inquiring tone of voice.

Vernim and Yanliz recognized the goblin words for 'talk/discuss/bargain/negotiate.'

Brother Martin prepared to cast command if any of them reached for the gong.

"It wants to negotiate," Yanliz called. “Kakkatok? Kakkatok?”

The creature stepped forward and stopped about halfway across the room and drew a dagger as it knelt down. It drew something in the dust—a crude skull. Then it rose and shouted “Dur!” and stomped on the image, looking at the group.

Recognizing the goblin words for 'death/attack/destroy', Yanliz shouted "attack!"

Valeria cast faerie fire, illuminating two of the creatures in the rear in a violet glow.

The creature in the lead threw its dagger and the gong, and the sound resounded through the chamber.

Brother Martin cast inflict wounds at the creature, and it winced in pain. Vernim hit one of the glowing creatures with a crossbow bolt.

The three creatures in the rear knocked the meat off their skewers and advanced with what was now apparently longswords. The two glowing creatures swung at Prynhawn, who only managed to block one with his shield, and grimaced as the other swing sliced into him. The third stabbed it's 'skewer' over Philip's head, into Valeria. Lawrence cast scorching ray, hitting a glowing creature with one ray, and Valeria's attacker with the other two rays. Yanliz cast hunter's mark, but missed a glowing creature with two arrows. Jess hit a glowing creature with an arrow. Philip rammed his staff into Valeria's attacker's chin, and spinning kicked it in the groin. As it fell, the halfling landed another spinning kick in its face, and it flopped motionless to the ground. Dubricus cast scorching ray, dropping the glowing creature Jess shot with two rays, and hitting the other glowing creature with a third ray. Prynhawn cast searing smite, but missed with his glowing blade.

Vernim hit the last glowing creature with a crossbow bolt. The creature that threw the dagger retrieved one of its comrade's swords and tried in vain to reach Lawrence. The last glowing creature slammed its sword into Prynhawn's shield, just as Valeria blasted it in the face fatally with an eldritch blast. Brother Martin dinged Lawrence's attacker with his mace. Yanliz hit it with an arrow. Lawrence and Dubricus missed it with firebolts. Jess missed it with an arrow. Prynhawn missed it with his flaming sword.

Yanliz, Jess, and Dubricus heard loud movement coming from the stairs and saw the top of the stairs fill with large hairy feet.

As the group turned toward the clamor from the stairs, Valeria and Prynhawn spotted a small tapestry hanging on the north wall. On it was the face of one of these creatures, with unknown writing on the top and bottom.
Bugbear Cave Notice

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