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hewholurksatthethreshold

Its all in the Mind

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The night seems to pass without a hitch. When you begin to eat more rat for breakfast, the orc laughs as he relates what happened while you were asleep. “I heard those hobgoblins running around outside. When they came to the door I started to make scraping noises with some of those bones. Haha, you should have heard how quickly they ran away.”

The kobold is busy trying to spot out another rat.

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The Elf nods at the Orc standing by the door. “Good job, that should buy us some time, but sooner or later they are going to get a little braver, and the truth is we can’t hide here forever. I’m feeling a bit better today and it’s time we put some distance between us and those Hobgoblins. Let’s suit up with this stuff we picked and see what’s down further into this place. You up for that?”

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Quickly your ragtag group prepares and sets out once again. There are only two options, back into the hobgoblins or through the mysterious door. As the kobold approaches the door, “human scent…the stink of the prisoners...they must have made it out this way too and gone through the door.”

With that thought in mind you push through the doorway into a medium sized chamber covered in sand and bones. There are at least four sets of skeletons. The bones have been cracked for the marrow. Two of the skulls have been smashed. A passageway leads out of the chamber on the left.

Looking at the bones you are reminded of something, a connection between undead and what has happened to the bones. The term ghoul comes to mind.

“The humans went down the passage,” the kobold says tasting the sand and sniffing the air…”something else has been in this room last night as well, something dead. It followed them.” The kobold continues to sniff around the room until he reaches the opposite side of the chamber. “It seems to have come from behind this wall.”

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“Ghoul” says the Elf out loud as the thought occurs to him, something else there too, looking at his sword he thinks something else. What was it? Something about them touching you. The Elf thinks long and hard but that is all that comes to mind. “Perhaps we should switch to the spears. Something tells me we don’t want this thing to get in close to us. If it came from that wall then there must be a secret passage of some kind there. See if you can find one.” Says the Elf to the Kobold

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The kobold beings to search the wall, feeling and sniffing for signs of a concealed door. Then suddenly the rock face beings to shift with a gentle grinding. You hear a horrible hiss. The kobold dives to the side of the door as a white skinned fiend bursts forward. You barely have time to raise your spear as it leaps upon the orc. Luckily he is able to throw his shield in front of him. Both of the beasts claws sink into the wood as it attempts to wrestle the shield from him.

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Rushing forward the Elf tries to sink his spear into the flesh of the disgusting creature. Trying to draw its attention from the Orc and onto himself. He keeps his shield up in a defensive position just in case it does turn to attack him.

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The fiend manages to catch the orcs right arm put not enough to be of significant determent. Too close to use his spear the orc pulls out his longword in a broad upward stroke catching the creature from underneath as the elf sinks his spear into the beasts side. But the grevious wounds do not seem to deter the monster as it presses its attack.

Again the orc is able to stop its terrible blackened claws from striking him with his shield and again his sword blow lands solidly upon the beasts shoulder, nearly severing its left arm. But the creature does no cry out or seem to feel any kind of pain. It only hisses and spits a sinking bile. A solid blow from the elf upon its thigh seems to pin it for a moment then the kobold ventures a strike upon its spine, and finally the creature falls.

“We were lucky,” the orc says to the elf. “It moved right into my blade to avoid your first spear thrust. Once I struck it the beast has nowhere to move.” Then he looks at his mangled shield. “Thank the black handed one for hobgoblin craftsmanship.”

“That was no ghoul,” the kobold revealed. “They are not nearly as aggressive as that thing was.”

“I can already feel numbness in my arm where it struck me,” the orc begins to wash away some of the black residue left by the fiend’s claws in his wound. “We better get moving if we are to avoid more of them.”

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“We better check where it came from before we go further down. The last thing we need is one of these things sneaking up on us. I’ll go first, you look a bit roughed up.” The Elf prepares to venture into the hole in the wall with his shield prepared and spear ready. He is fully expecting another one of these things to jump out at him.

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You look into a crude chamber that was clearly designed by something other than hobgoblins. Thankful there are no occupants at this time. The ground is sandy with bones littering about and there is some broken furniture made from stone. You can clearly see another door on the left wall that is meant to be secret from the other side. You see one particular object that catches your eye. The end of a bow sticks out from the sand.

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Ignoring the bow sticking out of the ground, the Elf looks around the sand for any signs of other occupants. At first he is unaware of what he is looking at but as he concentrates he realizes that there are 3 distinct tracks. How is it I know that? Turning to the Orc he makes an indication of 3 opponents then points down at the corpse and adjusts the number to 2. His mind begins to race, did the other two of these things go after the humans that fled down this passage or are they waiting for him in ambush? He looks up at the ceiling and around the walls to see if there is any indication of more undead in the room. He also turns to the Kobold to see if he has an idea.

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There does not seem to be any occupants hiding about the room and you quickly discover that the sand is only a few inches deep, nearly impossible for anything the size of a ghoul to hide underneath. The kobold sniffs around and begins poking about the room. “No sign of anything,” he replies. “I think the other one left through this far secret door.”

“Shall we search the room?” the orc asks. “Who knows what treasures these beasts might have amassed? A better weapon or shield might see us through this cave complex.”

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“Ok let’s do a quick search, but we are faced with a bit of a problem here. One of those things went through this door, another is dead, and that leaves the last one to chase after the humans. If we go down that way we will at least face one. If we go through this secret door we will face one. The difference being that if we go through these secret door we are far less likely to be followed by the hobgoblins since they do not know of it’s existence. If we bring the dead corpse in that will give us some time as they will still believe the undead are here, having no proof to the contrary. So let’s do a quick search and see if we can turn up some better weapons then decide which route we take, either way we fight more of these things.” Finishes the Elf looking at the Orc.

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You and the orc haul the corpse back into the secret chamber while the kobold digs around in the sand. He comes up with a composite long bow that seems in fine condition despite having to have suffered time with ghouls. There is also a quiver of 12 arrows but they look to be in much worse shape…sifting through them you find a mere four that look like they wont break before firing.

The kobold also manages to turn up some clay pots with a few dozen pieces of shiny gold. While you continue to search the kobold’s ears pick up. “Something is coming! From the unopened secret door!”

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“Quickly to either side of the door, maybe we can ambush this thing and take it by a bit of a surprise. Not like we have a lot of options at this point!” says the Elf quickly to the Orc.

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Both the elf and the orc rush to the sides of the door while the kobold hides. Soon the gentle grind begins as the door opens. But instead of a ghoul the head of a female human slumped forward pokes forward. Taken aback a second later a familiar fiend steps into the room. Its hunt must have been successful, you think. The beasts senses must have been overwhelmed by the pungent odour of its victim for you have surprise and wasting no time you make the most of it. Sadly the unexpected nature of the seen has thrown off your attacks and both you and the orc miss.

The creature hurls the woman at the orc knocking him off his feet and turns to face you alone.

A quick stab into its chest does not deter its drooling lust for your living flesh. It hurls itself at you in a series of blinding fast strikes. You barely manage to avoid its claws but its teeth sink down into your right leg. The numbness spreads quickly. As you drop to one knee the creature grabs you around the neck ready to throttle the life from your quickly stiffening body. Then there is a flash from above and the beasts head flips off of its neck strikes the ceiling and falls to the ground flopping a few times. Instantly the grip of the creature relaxes and its body falls on top of you spill black bile from its neck onto your chest.

The orc pulls the corpse off of you. “Are you alright?” Elf?”

Your eyes are rolling up in their sockets from the poison coursing through your body.

“Those were no ghouls alright,” the kobold says. “I have never heard of an elf succumb to their poison like that.”

The last words you hear are, “Get some water into him quickly.”

 

You wake up from gods know how long a sleep. “He is recovering!” you hear the kobold shout.”

“So soon?”

“The bite was not deep and I got most of the poison out of it.”

You blink your eyes, your body still stiff. You are still in the secret chamber? “How long has it been?” you ask.

“Barely a few minutes,” the orc says. “You elves ARE resistant to their poison I see.”

As you sit up you see the uncared for human female lying limp right where she was thrown by the ghoul-thing.

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