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hewholurksatthethreshold

Its all in the Mind

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Disclaimer...this is a 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons adventure using TSR's (owned by wizards of the Coast who is in turn owned by HASBRO) copyrighted materials and my own house rule modifications copyright of me...the adventure is entire of my own design and is also copyrighted to myself Grant Geisler.

 

Intro:

Blackness broken...a faint light in the distance...warmth...a scream of pain. You jump awake with a start…the sound of chains banging against stone…what is this place? Some kind of cave…the scream sounds again, followed by guttural laughter. Oh your head throbs. Where are you? What is going on? As your eyes adjust to the dim light you see grim covered hands, bits of straw still stuck to them…wait those are your hands, and they are in manacles with chains hooking them to the wall behind you…so hungry, no thirsty…the scream draws your attention away from your body. Barely fifteen feet away stand two large, orange-skinned, humanoid beasts hunched over a crude wooden table. Are those hobgoblins? What is a hobgoblin you think…what am I…not a hobgoblin...who am I? Beside you there is a low bark. You turn to see a mighty gnoll, now as shabby and dishevelled as you, chained to the wall as well. There are others…is that an orc? What are they? How do I remember what they are called…and there are humans, three humans…what is that little creature, a kobold?

You wince as the victim on the table continues to be tortured. Are you next? What are you going to do?

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Head still throbbing, trying to fight through the pain and get a moment of clarity the chained man pulls on the manacles. No good he thinks, they are lodged solid against the wall behind me. Maybe if I pull harder, the hunger pangs over take him and he dismisses the idea. Panic sets in, what if I am next to be tortured, I have to get out. Looking over at the Gnoll? Yes that is a Gnoll he thinks, it is much larger then me too, perhaps it can break the chains. Keeping his voice low he asks the Doglike humanoid.

 

“Can you break free of those manacles? Are we going to die?” The voice sounds cracked and broken, his mouth is dry. The words flow from him, was that Common? What is Common? The screams jerk him back to the situation, he looks in desperate haste at the Gnoll, perhaps it is big enough to break those bonds.

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The gnoll looks over at you and growls in low tones..."little elf speaks gnollish? Why does little elf learn gnollish? Better to kill my people with?" Then he shows you his manacles...they are much thicker than yours as is his chain, too much for even a gnoll to break through.

The orc is clearly interested in your conversation, but not willing to speak yet. He looks from you then over to the far wall. Is he looking at the two swords which dangle from belts or the keyring hanging from a wooden peg?

One thing is clear, the gnoll and the orc are the only prisioners who do not show any sign of fear.

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Looking at the thick manacles in despair the chained prisoner has his mind start to race again. It is so hard to think, the pain and hunger drive the thoughts from his mind. Gnollish, I spoke Gnollish? He tries to reach up to his ears, indeed they are pointed, I guess I am an Elf he thinks. A thought comes into his head like a wisp of smoke, he reaches out and tries to grab it, just as it is about to slip through his fingers he manages to focus long enough for it to form. Maybe where brute strength doesn’t work some finesse might be better. The Orc and the Gnoll are obvious threats to these Hobgoblins, but the Kobold, maybe he can slip out of his chains and get over to that key ring, the Orc looks ready for a fight and despite the obvious anger the Gnoll would probably fight as well.

 

“Can you slip out of those chains and get over to the key ring?” he asks the little creature.

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You manage to attract the kobold’s attention but he does not seem to understand gnollish…the orc, however, perks up with what you say and turns to the kobold speaking in another language you seem to understand clearly the orc says. “Ka’ree can you slip out of your bonds?”

 

The kobold seems terrified at the prospect, glancing over at the hobgoblins then back to the orc and the elf shaking his head vehemently. Another terrible scream resounds from the human victim upon the rack as the hobgoblins laugh.

 

The orc hurls a few soft insults at the kobold but is unable to get it to budge. Frustrated he reaches over to the kobolds chain. He means to yank the chain free from the wall…You realize if he is successful the resulting sound may well attract the hobgoblin torturers. What do you do?

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Eyes widening, the pain that is coming from every muscle in his body gets pushed to a back burner. Quickly he speaks to the Orc before he can start pulling on the chains.

 

“Stop, if you do that they will surely hear the sound of the chains coming loose from the wall. And if that’s the case we will still be chained when they turn around!” He tries to keep his voice calm and keep the urgency there at the same time. A thought forms in his head, if he can just think beyond the pain and all the screaming, the loud cries of pain that drown out his thoughts, it is there, a plan, he knows it is. The Elf realizes that the tortured soul cannot last much longer, even now the screams are getting weaker, that’s it! The screams. Turning again to the Orc he says “Wait, wait for the scream, when the scream is let out then you yank, hopefully the scream will cover the sound of the chain being pulled from the wall.”

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You Catch the orc in time, this time realizing you are speaking his language…He turns back to you thinks for a moment and then waits for the victim to let out another cry of pain and with all his strength yanks the chain from the wall.

One hobgoblin looks up for a moment and is about to turn around when the other slaps him on the back and laughs heartily…they both turn back to their victim and laugh.

“Now go get those keys,” the orc whispers to the kobold.

Ka’ree shakes his head no.

“The moment they turn around they will kill you for being free. Free us and I will see you safely back to your home, this I swear.”

The orc’s promise seems to fill the kobold with some sense of security. It takes up its chain gentle from the orc and slowly sneaks over to the wooden peg.

You are surprised by the stealth of the kobold. Those little creatures must, survive on stealth, you think to yourself. They would make excellent scouts…scouts? Yes you remember your military training now…you remember you were training to be a file commander…but for who? You can’t remember the faces of the 10 men, or elves, or whatevers, you commanded in the field.

It takes the face of the orc in front of you to bring you back to the present. He holds the keys firmly in his hand, the kobold lurking behind him. “We need each other to escape this place,” he whispers. “For that I shall free you. But know this, when were are out of this heck hole we are friends no longer.” With that he unclaspes your chains. But he is not nearly as silent as the kobold was in freeing him. The hard click causes one of the hobgoblins to turn. He shouts in a language you barely understand. “The orc is free!”

The orc makes a head long charge. The hobgoblins were clearly not excepting such a rash action and the first hobgoblin is sent careening into the second giving everyone a moment to act.

You are now free. What do you do?

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Surprised at the continuing hostility the Elf pushes past all the pain and grasps on to the survival instinct screaming in his head.

 

“Free the Gnoll!” he commands the Kobold taking the lead. He rushes over to the wall and grabs the two swords hanging there. Taking one in his hand he rushes to the aid of the Orc, now engaged in a mess of Hobgoblins. He tries to get into a position to hand or toss the Orc one of the two swords while positioning himself to attack the Hobgoblins.

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The Kobold pulls the keys from of your chains and rushes to the gnoll.

 

As you rip the first long sword from its scabbard you realize it feels uncomfortable in your hands. Ignoring your desire for a larger sword you rush into battle.

The first hobgoblin leaps to his feet and swings at the orc with the hot poker he had been using to flay the human’s flesh. The orc falls backwards just out of reach.

 

As you come around with your sword against the second hobgoblin, it smiles and reaches for a set of iron tongs lying on the rack. But his face turns pink. You see that the human victim has, with his last ounce of strength, has grabbed onto his tormenter's arm. The human spits out a last curse as your sword comes down upon the hobgoblin’s chest. It is a foul blow but and the beast falls to one knee but it is not dead. It wrenches the iron tongs from the now dead human’s hand and swings them wildly at you driving you backwards until you are beside the orc again.

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Handing the Orc the second weapon the Elf realizes that he doesn’t have enough strength for a prolonged battle with 3 enemies. If this doesn’t end quickly he may fall over from fatigue long before any other things can happen. Also he is sure that a prolonged fight will just draw more attention to the noise. Assuming one of these pigs does not fall back to get reinforcements. “We have to end this quick!” he says to the Orc. Rushing in he tries to finish off the Hobgoblin he has already hurt.

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The orc takes the sword with a smile then turns to the hobgoblin and growls like a caged leopard.

The hobgoblin facing you takes a swing but you are far too nimble for the wounded creature. Sadly the awkwardness with this sword allows the hobgoblin to avoid your blow as well.

The other hobgoblin rushes the orc with a yell. In one brilliant move the orc side steps the creature and brings his sword down upon its back. The hobgoblin screams and stumbles then turns to face you both again. The rage in his orange face is clear as this time he steadies himself for a solid attack.

But just as he readies to strike out at the orc two large furry arms wrap around his midsection. The hobgoblin shrieks as he is crushed under the weight of the gnoll’s bear hug. Its lifeless body falls to the ground.

The second hobgoblin seeing its allies end turns to run. You leap desperate to stop it for sounding an alarm. Your blade strikes true, cleaving the beast on the top of the head. It falls to the ground in a crumpled heap.

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The sword feeling extremely heavy in his hands the Elf turns from his kill to the Orc and Gnoll. “Where am I?” he asks as his head feels a bit dizzy from the lack of food. He takes a stumbling step before managing to catch himself. “We should free the others,” he says nodding towards the humans, “we’ll have a better chance to get out of here.” Picking up the heavy tongs he tries to see if they would make an effective weapon for the Gnoll.

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The gnoll growls and drops its head into a barrel of water on the other side of the rack. After it slacks it thirst it barks in gnollish, “I care not what you do. I go now.” He snatches a make shift club from the torture implements and rushes up a set of stairs on the other end of the chamber.

 

Letting the gnoll have first crack at the water the orc searches one of the hobgoblin’s. After the gnoll leaves he looks up. “Where are you? In a hobgoblin cave obviously,” he laughs. He finds a bit of smoked meat in the hobgoblins pouch and wolfs it down.

 

"Free us! Please, free us!" one of the humans says.

"I am a rich merchant and have many treasures your people crave," another says.

The third human says nothing.

 

After taking his turn at the water he looks to the three humans chained to the walls. “Let those ones rot in here. It is more than they deserve.” He spits at one of them. “Come, we better go before that gnoll sets the entire place to arms. Ka’ree here can sniff us a way out, wont you Ka’ree?”

The kobold looks a little fearful but nodes its head. He is waiting for you to drink before he does.

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Confused and still light headed from the hunger the Elf looks back at the humans on the wall but realizes that he won’t have enough time to free them all before the Gnoll alerts the whole place they are free. “You’re right, we have to move quick, but deserve it or not,” he says looking at the flayed human, “we can’t leave them there to die like this.” He takes the keys and gives it to one of the humans so they can free themselves then turns to the Orc. “Ok let’s get out of here, they will have to fare for themselves, but at least they will have a chance to defend themselves.” He grabs a quick drink of water then follows the Orc out.

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The kobold drinks then rushes to the orc’s side and begins to walk up the stairs. Both you and the orc follow close behind. As you reach the top the passageway splits into four. The kobold sniffs the air. “This way.” You travel down the left passageway until you can hear the sounds of battle start up ahead.

“That blasted gnoll has started it now.” The orc grips his sword tightly. “Is there any other way out?” he asks the kobold.

“Fresh air only coming from this way.”

“Fight our way out or try to sneak out some other way. Blasted Hobgoblins and gnolls! May the black handed one take them all.” The orc turns to you and asks sarcastically. “What do you think elf?”

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