“Return to the Cave” – The Adventure Chronicles of Brightblade – Part 4 (A Dungeons and Dragons Solo Roleplay)

Happy Sif’s Day!

Lief and Elana traversed the winding path back to the cave entrance. As they approached Leif was filled with a little more confidence given that he had a couple days before had traded in his chain mail shirt and leather pants for a full set of chain mail armor including gauntlets and head covering. The money he had won the last time he was at the cave was now pretty much gone, but he felt the investment was an investment in survival. Besides, it made him feel a little more like a paladin squire.

Elana was dressed much as he had seen her friend Fredica dressed in leather armor and a shield over her back. Her mace was tied at her belt and in her hands was a light crossbow at the ready. She was walking behind him so she was ready to fire a shot while he engaged whatever they encountered,

Elana was much more nervous than her Squire counterpart. The last time she had been in the cave she had been naked and tied up until Lief had rescued her. She had not been involved in the fight at all. She had prepared all her spells and knew what she wanted to do if things went into combat. She just worried about whether or not she would actually do it.

They reached the cave entrance and, after each of them lit a torch, went inside the entrance chamber. Nothing had changed and they could even see their own tracks in the sand still from when they had left. Leif turned to the left-hand exit which was the one he had not followed the first time. He didn’t know where it led and so he assumed if they were going to find something it would be where they hadn’t looked yet.

The passage went about fifty feet until it widened into another open chamber that had the marks of being hewn out of the stone of the natural cave. It was roughly a fifty-foot by fifty-foot square. The ceiling was probably 15 feet overhead but each entrance was ten feet tall. The one they had entered through was in the south entrance Lief observed and there was an entrance in the exact center of each of the other walls.

The room’s most prominent feature though was the statue of a woman in armor in the center of the room. it looked like plate armor, she wasn’t wearing a helmet so the depiction of her hair flowed down her back and a sword was at her hip. Lief felt she was an elf as her ears were pointed. There was, however no inscription to tell who she was.

Lief and Elana agreed to listen and first look a little down each corridor. Lief thought he heard some squeaking noises like mice or rats to the east. The torches showed down each corridor a little but didn’t really tell them much. They decided to search the room and Elana discovered a note tucked into one of the small crevices in the walls. It was written in the common tongue. “Rat’s East, Goblin’s North, Beware the West.” Lief and Elana then made a decision to go east. Rats were not too dangerous and if it led to their prize then so much the better.

As they traveled east the squeaks got louder and they dropped their torches just outside where the corridor widened into a chamber. They readied their shields as the light from the torches flickered they could see some movement up ahead. Lief nodded and then charged into the chamber. Elana followed with her crossbow ready.

There were three giant rats in the chamber. Each was as large as a medium-sized dog. Lief skewered one on his spear and it convulsed in death as it bled from the wound in its side. Elana fired her crossbow and the bolt transfixed itself in the side of the rat and it fell and died also convulsing. That left only one rat left. It never got a chance to act as Leif freed his spear from the first rat and then skewered the second as well with a well-placed thrust. The battle was over and the rats had been slaughtered before they had even gotten a chance to react.

Lief and Elana retrieved their torches and made a search of the open chamber that was roughly thirty feet north to south and thirty feet east to west. The rats stared back at them with dead eyes.

“Disgusting”, was all Elana said.

“I am glad we surprised them. Giant rats can have some pretty nasty diseases they can give with their claws and teeth.”

Elana nodded, she knew this all too well and was glad she had killed her rat at distance.

They searched the area and in the nesting material of the rats found about 100 copper pieces and an equal amount of silver pieces. There was nothing else of value so they saw the corridor back to the west where they came and another open corridor heading north. Leif suggested they head north and Elana agreed.

The corridor went north thirty feet and then a side passage to the west opened up. The corridor continued another thirty feet north and then turned west as well. Leif and Elana reached the side passage and as they looked left to a see a strange-looking room.

“Well, what should we do?’, Elana asked.

“I think we should check out this room, we can always come back here and head further north later.”

Elana nodded and they headed down the ten-foot corridor to the strange room.

The room was 15 feet above their heads but the entrance was only ten feet tall. The room was empty and stretched north and south fifty feet and was 30 feet wide east to west with the entrance in the middle of the eastern wall. The only feature that was immediately visible was an eight-foot-long mouth on the far wall from the entrance. The mouth was orange and thin for its size. Other than that the room was completely empty.

Lief and Elana looked around further but found absolutely nothing in the room. They examined the mouth but it was simply on the wall and not in a sense like it was painted on, but it seemed to do nothing. They turned to leave and as they reached the doorway a voice boomed and they turned to see the mouth speaking to them.

“Surprise! You are here for double or nothing. Ready or not here we go. O-T-T-F-F-S. What’s the next line? If you solve this riddle your treasure will double. If you fail, it will disappear. What is your answer?”

Lief leaned over to Elana and whispered, “Let’s leave.”

They both backed toward the door slowly but when they reached the door they ran into a wall. Turning they could not see anything, but there was a force like a wall keeping them from leaving the cave.

“You must answer you know?”, bellowed the mouth.

Leif and Elana talked together for a minute. What the letters represented was the question for them. Then Elana looked into Lief’s eyes and smiled.

“It’s ‘E’. The letters represent the first letter of our numbers. One. Two. Three and so on. So the next one is “E’ for eight.”

They told the mouth and it smiled. Suddenly their packs felt heavier as the amount of each type of coin they were carrying doubled.

“Good guess. Come back again sometime and then the mouth went silent.”

They examined the mouth closely again but it seemed it would not speak and when they tried to leave the doorway was not blocked in any way.

“Well, that was a nice boon,” Elana remarked.

“It could have been a disaster for our pockets, had you not figured out the answer. I was stumped,” returned Lief.

Elana smiled at the compliment. They headed north and rounded the turn slowly as the corridor turned back to the west.

Ahead of them, they could see a pale light, and halfway down the corridor, they doused their torches. If their suspicions were correct this was north of the statue room and the note had said this room ahead might contain goblins. Peaking around the corner Lief could see two of them. Short creatures speaking in the goblin tongue that Lief recognized but could not understand.

Goblins are creatures of the fae although many think them related to orcs. They are not and tend to be mischievous creatures. Not necessarily evil but they could be difficult and they could see a corridor that went north that could connect to other parts of the cave, perhaps with more goblins or worse. Lief knew at this moment they had the advantage of surprise. A sneak attack would certainly be successful. If they tried to talk to them, that would be lost. He turned to Elan and whispered his thoughts.

“Goblins can’t be trusted and these are in this cave. Makes we wonder if they are probably bandits or thieves. I think we should attack them.”

Lief nodded, “Very well, you should bless us before we fight.”

Elana nodded and pulled up her holy symbol and prayed to Sensua to protect them.

“Now!”, Lief commanded.”

Lief ran around the corner and Elana followed him.

The two goblins were completely surprised as the two humans streaked into the chamber. But they didn’t have long to process it. Lief closed the distance with the closest goblin and drove his spear through the goblin’s unarmored chest. Green blood splattered across his arm. Elana moved to a position where they could get a shot off at the other goblin and the blot flew true and transfixed itself in the goblin’s neck. Both fell onto the floor dead.

Then they heard the sound of voices speaking goblin to the north of them. They turned to the corridor to the north only to see three goblins rushing toward them. They were angry and ready to kill. Lief drew his spear back and threw it. It struck one of the goblins in the chest and he went down. As the other two closed the gap, Elana dropped her crossbow and drew her mace, while Leif drew his sword. They locked their shield together.

Just in time as the goblin struck at both of them with their short swords. Pushing off with his shield, Leif countered with a sword blow of his own slicing off one of the goblins’ arms. it screamed and fell to the floor bleeding out. Elana then struck the last one with her mace and crushed its skull. The fight was over very quickly.

Lief turned to Elana and smiled only to find her bent over and throwing up. It was the first time she had killed a humanoid creature. Rats were one thing but these were children of the fae. Lief put his arm around her shoulders for some comfort. She stood there for a moment and then spoke.

“How do you deal with this so calmly. I hate killing.”

“So do I, but until the last time I was in this cave, I had killed anything either. The orc I killed was my first. I just never thought about it. You shouldn’t either. We need to search for them and keep moving. Time to process the philosophy of killing later. And our feelings. We have a mission to complete.”

Elana nodded and after searching goblins’ coin purses they found 50 crowns and 100 silver pieces. There was not much else of value as the sword they were carrying we rusted and worthless.

They decided to follow the corridor that went north and after only ten feet it turned to the west. They stopped briefly as Lief recovered his spear from the dead goblin and then rounded the corner. The corridor only continued for ten more feet and then opened up into a forty by forty room. The corridor was in the easter wall in the northwest corner. To the south and west was a stout-looking wooden door. More importantly, there were more goblins in this room as it looked like a place they lived. The goblins saw them enter and scurried out the door and slammed it behind them. Lief cursed them but Elana noticed one of them had dropped a small sack. In it, she found a few gold and silver coins and of all things – a key.

Lief readied his spear and shield and Elana got ready to use the key on the door. The problem arose when she tried the key on the door and it didn’t work. It didn’t seem to fit and Lief concluded the goblins had barred the door on the other side as well. After a few minutes, one of the goblins croaked in the common tongue “Go away, we don’t want any.”

Leif and Eland reluctantly withdrew from the room and went back to the chamber where they had the battle with the goblins. They followed the corridor in this room to the west and then south and found themselves coming out the north doorway of the statue chamber.

“We still haven’t found it, our only option lies to the west now,” Lief said.

“Yes, Let’s hope this key is to something. But you are right. The only place we haven’t gone is to the west from this room. The note said to beware of going that way. We need to be extra careful, Lief.”

“We will be alright as long as we stick together.”

With that, they marched into the western corridor.

Writer’s Notes:

If I have a major gripe against Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition it is that the system makes characters too powerful too fast. I loved lower-level play as both a player and a Dungeon Master. You get power up front pretty quickly and there is almost an unfairness to it. In this case, every combat was one-sided as my party of two did not miss and because neither of them is stupid or unwise, I had to roleplay that they were going to be smart as far as combat tactics and decisions.

I did randomize the encounter with the mouth, by doing the oracle for whether or not the character would know the answer. Lief failed gloriously and Elana succeeded so she was the smart one and technically based on intelligent stats – she is the smarter and wiser of the two of them. They hadn’t worked together before technically so there was a lot of that in this one. If you haven’t guessed Lief’s strength is very high. That’s why the damage he does when he hits is high as well.

I have concluded about half of the solo adventure in the 1983 Basic Set. The harder part is coming. Perhaps we will see my characters struggle with the challenge. I will be working on the third and final character I will be using for this series and then only Death will provide a replacement character. I think for solo play three characters will be quite enough.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


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