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Isekai Life in D&D

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  • #76
    Chapter 71: Isekai Life & Stealth Misadventures

    At the top of the stairs, I tripped over a sleeping goblin.

    I was in a hurry to make sure my feet were out of the line of sight from the returning bugbears. I could already heard one of them saying, “It's probably just the masonry, this whole thing is going to keel over someday soon,” and wasn't paying attention to my immediate surroundings. I reached the top, turned the corner, and stepped on a goblin's outstretched hand from where he was sleeping, tucked in between the wall and the staircase. When the goblin shrieked in pain and yanked his hand back, I stumbled backwards and fell.

    In my own defense, I did my best. I sprang up and sank Calliope's dagger deep into the goblin's belly. It shriek and punched me in the face even as my nostrils filled with the nasty stench of fresh goblin blood, although the difference in our mass meant that he didn't do much more than give me a split lip. I was able to wrench the dagger free and stab again, killing him... and marvelling at my luck, having struck twice with that nasty -6 nonproficiency penalty.

    Then again, I was was trying to stab a prone, mostly naked goblin....

    But by the time the deed was done, it was already too late. Rough hands were hauling me up and back, twisting the dagger out of my hand to clatter on the floor and pushing me up against a wall.

    “Lookie here, I think we found the source of our little racket!”

    Three bugbears crowded around me, their leader speaking a crude, growly common. All three grinned nastily, and smelled like an eighteen year old brewery infested with rats.

    “Thought you could get away, did ya? Came on down for a little swimmy-swim through the basement an' out to sea, huh?” In spite of the language change, I could just barely recognize the voice of the lead bugbear, “Clever, brave boy we got here.”

    “Best be taking these,” one of the other bugbears growled as he pulled the darts out of the wrapper on my arm.

    “Come on, now, don't look so angry,” the leader said to me, bringing his great snub-nose face in close to mine and lowering his voice conspiratorially, “I ain't no gobbo, and this was more entertainment than I've seen in months. Let's get you back up with the others, there's a good lad.”

    He shoved me to the direction of the next set of stairs leading up. I noted with some annoyance that this level, for some reason, had internal walls as a few goblins were poking their heads through murder holes and doorways to peer at me with a cruelly cheerful curiosity. While it was tempting to lash out with my limited arcane powers and try to find a way out of this, there was no way to ready my spell components with them still wrapped up in my hemp rope “belt”, so I bit my tongue and choose to bide my time. After all, they seemed to think I was one of the slaves... and that meant they were taking me to where the other slaves were.

    “Come on, Filmor, you go ahead, I'll take up the rear so he doesn't try any funny business,” the leader ordered in the goblin tongue as he and his subordinate escorted me somewhat roughly up the tower, “The rest of you get back to watch, and stay alert for other escapees.” I couldn't dally, obviously, bracketed by the two smelly goblinoids, but I tried my best to memorize the layout of the tower as we went. The “third” and “fourth” floors, counting from the old entrance and not the entrance-hole, were strictly regimented corridors with rooms off of them, but I had no idea what might have been their original purpose. There we goblins all over the place on these two floors, sleeping without rhyme or reason in the corridors and doorways, leaning against the walls.

    The stairs all seemed to be fairly shallow and long, to accommodate a dwarvenly stride, each one running up the wall to a landing on the corner of the tower, then turning ninety degrees to continue along the next wall. The walls adjoining the stairs were marked by arrow slits on the exterior walls, and murder holes along the interior, so that the defenders of the tower could poke spears at oncoming enemies in case invaders broke through those big bronze doors I saw.

    The “fifth” floor was different. It was similarly laid out to the others in terms of corridors, but with fewer doors, implying larger rooms. There were no goblins in sight, either. Also, immediately to my right as I came off the staircase, was the empty doorway opening up onto the first battlement.

    “Come here, Filmor, I want to show this guy something, give him a little incentive about his plan,” ordered the bugbear leader in goblinese. The bugbear in front of my stopped and turned around, murmuring an assent as the two brute grabbed me by the arms and carried me out onto the battlements.

    By this time, it was mid afternoon, and I had to squint against the sun. We were facing west, and I could see well over the forest, the shining ribbons of rivers crisscrossing the land. I only had a brief moment to hope that my allies didn't do anything stupid upon seeing me captured, if they noticed us, and then the two bugbears marched me all the way around the tower to the side facing the open ocean. The tilt in the tower, which was somewhat subtle up until this point, suddenly caused a sickening tightening of my gut as I found myself uncomfortably angled towards the vast, sparkling ocean.

    “I want you to see this, human, so you can tell anyone else who's got any bright ideas upstairs,” the leader growled at me in Common, “See, we've been tossing our dead, our waste, and the slaves we execute out into the blue like this for awhile now, and you ought to know we've managed to gather a few friends.” He switched back to Goblin. “Hey, Filmor, take a look and see if you can spot the ghoulies.”

    Filmor released his iron grip on my arm, and bent over the battlement to look. Of course, for us properly medium-sized creatures, the dwarven battlements only came up to our waist at best, and the lower part was right around the knees... which provided the perfect fulcrum as the bugbear leader booted the unfortunate Filmor in the ass and sent him, screaming, down towards the water.

    The bugbear leader cackled with glee, pulled me disconcertingly towards the edge to see the splash as the unlucky Filmor struck water.

    “That'll teach you to go around talking back at me and slinking about conspiring, you little flyblown bastard,” the bugbear leader chortled in Goblin, before switching back once more to Common, “See his thrashing about? Well, all that blood and guts in the water has aroused quite a collection of those little sea-ghoulies. If you or any of your little buddies get any ideas about swimming out of here again, keep that in mind- the second your ass touches water you're ghoul-meat.”

    He took a moment to take in the sight of his onetime subordinate being feasted upon by the undead, and was distracted enough that I felt his hand relax around my arm. Suddenly, I realize the opportunity before me, took a half step back, danced my fingers through the mudra and cast a magic missile, sending twin blasts of enegry right into my captor's back.

    “Whatcha muttering there, Elven or somethin'?” were his last words. Other than “Aaah!”

    Too bad for him that he didn't die before the lacedons got hold of him. I was having a nice little moment, watching the sea foam, and being just a little proud of my handiwork. Two bugbears down, with a little help from their Chaotic Evil nature and the weakest spell I currently had in my repertoire.

    Then I frowned as I realized one of them might have had Calliope's dagger. Great.

    Being careful to keep quiet and move slowly, I inched my way back around the tower to the side facing west, stepped up to the (delightfully tilted toward me) battlements and started waving my arms towards the edge of the forest.

    Someone tall and armoured stepped out of the trees and waved back, probably Voss, before making a wide, dramatic shrugging motion.

    I took a moment to consider it. Down below there were only seven bugbear guards left on the second floor, which would be just about an even match for us if we tried a frontal assault. But, just above them were oodles of goblins, largely resting and sleeping, yes, but dozens, possibly hundreds of them... who I'd have to sneak by again.

    I crossed my arms in an 'X' over my head. I could see Voss shake his head, then raise a fist. I couldn't make out the thumb at this distance, but I did recognize the universal “thumbs up” gesture. They'd be content to wait just a little bit longer until I came up with a better plan.

    Still, a contingency couldn't hurt. I unwrapped the rope from around my waist, tied it to one of the battlements as tightly as I could manage without the Rope Use proficiency, and dangled it off the side of the tower. It didn't quite reach the bottom, but it should be close enough for them to grab if they needed to. And as I side bonus, I now had my spell components readily at hand.

    That done, I decided to locate the slaves. The best force multiplier available to me at the moment was simply multiplying my forces.

    I padded over to the doorway, and strained to listen. Again, the tower was mostly quiet. I could heard an indistinct rhythmic tapping sound, like someone tapping on a drum to keep a beat, but for the most part it was silent. The bugbears did not seem to be stirring to check on their compatriots splashing down- maybe they thought that was my own execution they were hearing, a chilling thought- and, well, the entire tower sounded as if everyone was letting a bunch of sleepy goblins sleep. Who knew that the forces of evil could be so considerate?

    First order of business was for me to check one of the murder holes. If the lower floors were used for housing goblins in such concentration that they were sleeping in the halls, I was curious as to what this floor was being used for.

    I took a peek through one of the murder holes on my way up the stairs to the next level, shaded my eyes with my hands, and had a peek. The wall was sufficiently thick that I couldn't get too much of a look, but what I saw was all I needed- rows of straw beds on the floor, in an organized if not exactly precise fashion. There were goblins sleeping on the cots, and I could see clubs, hatchets and shortswords leaned up against the far wall. It seemed to me that here were the “barracks”, and below was housed the general goblin population.

    When I finally started climbing the stairs, I did it with even more trepidation than before. If that goblin I barely managed to handle before was just some random craftsgoblin, I certainly didn't want to tangle with an armed guardsgoblin.

    As I climbed the stairs, the rhythmic tapping drew closer, and, I noticed, there were occasional pauses in the noise, and sometimes the sound of metal on metal. When I finally turned the corner and had the landing in sight, I could see there was a rusty old portcullis in place, preventing access to that floor.

    Getting closer, I could see that this level had a large central hallway going straight through the tower, with a large room on one side, and several smaller rooms on the other. As I stood there investigating, I could see several people- human people- moving through the large room on the left.

    As I was investigating, one of the people- an older girl with long, bushy orange hair, wearing only a dirty shift and carrying an iron pot, spotted me. I tried to raise a finger in a “shush” motion, but she goggled at me, totally distracted, until the iron pot fell from her fingers, clattering noisily on the stone floor.

    Silently cursing, I had to think fast. I knew there were the goblin warriors sleeping just below, who undoubtedly would come investigate. There were no battlements on this level, no windows large enough for me to climb out of and try lowering myself down a level, and nowhere else to hide until I spontaneously started phasing through walls... so I did the only thing I could and ran upstairs.

    The next level up had no portcullises, and was fairly simple- a series of medium size rooms much like the level below. I picked one close to the stairs and slipped inside... finding it full of sacks of turnips, in various stages of freshness and decomposition. I immediately through myself on the ground behind a pile of sacks and shut my eyes. There was no chance that my good luck with Filmor and his boss would repeat.

    Soon enough, I could hear the rattling of bars and loud cursing and threatening in the goblin tongue. Shortly thereafter, I heard someone come running down the stairs from the level above me, and the sounds of a fight breaking out, couple with more cursing and screaming. I quietly vowed to never disparage the noble player class of Thief again and tried to breath a little quieter despite the heartbeat thundering in my ears.

    It took what felt like an agonizingly long time, but eventually the screaming stopped, and a short while later I heard whoever it was stomping their way back up to the level above me. Only then did I relax, and come crawling out of my turnip-y hiding place. It didn't sound like a search was being conducted, so I decided that I must be in the clear,amd that girl must have held her tongue regarding me.

    Ever so carefully, I crept downstairs once more, and to my surprise, there was a small crowd waiting for me on the other side to of the bars. That girl with the bushy hair was with a stocky older human man with a weatherbeaten complexion and a retreating fringe of grey hair, as well as a blade-slender and tall mist elf man with the characteristic onyx-black hair, with a grim expression and hollow, haunted eyes. Both men were wearing nothing but loincloths, and both showed signs of hunger and abuse. When they spotted me, the old man whispered to the girl, “Aye, I see you weren't making excuses. Why don't you go on finish your scrubbing, and I'll see what this is all about.” The girl nodded wordless and vanished inside the large room.

    The three of us remaining regarded us for awhile.

    “Uh, hello, I'm Theodore,” I whispered in the Common tongue, “I'm here to rescue you all.”

    “Rescue?” the elf hissed incredulously, “Is this a joke? Cry pardon that I don't burst out in merriment.”

    “Uh, yeah, sorry for my appearance,” I said, “But I was sneaking in here to try and find a way for my party to get in. Most of us are adventurers, hired by Ricard and Mia Parett of Pendleton to look into the mass disappearances happening in the area.”

    “That crazy old man is finally good for something,” the old man muttered in wonderment, “How many of you are there? Good armed men?”

    “Well, at least one good armed man, and a couple good armed woman, and we have a gnome, too,” I explained, “I'm the only one of us who knew how to swim, so I was sent ahead to investigate the goblins' defenses.”

    “All-Father's balls,” the old man breathed, “You swam past those monsters? You have some stones, lad.”

    I looked the elf in the eye, ignoring the old man's comment, “I am also accompanied by Sir Haseth of the Ravenwatch.”

    The elf suddenly stepped forward, leaning in close to the bars. “Sir Haseth yet lives?” he said, so shocked he slipped back into elven, “Thank Cyona! Is he here?”

    “My allies are concealed in the woods just west of here, watching the tower,” I explained, bringing the conversation back to Common, “How many of you are there? Are you all healthy? How many are fighters?”

    “We've got some fifteen good lads, five women I suppose,” the old man said, “Most of us humans back here are children. None of us are fighters, really, but put a mattock in my hands and we'll see if I can't crush a gobbo's skull.”

    “There are six of us left from the Ravenwatch,” the elf replied quickly, “They feed us just enough to keep us relatively strong for labour, cooking their meals and carrying their plunder, but we're all losing weight.”

    I nodded. “Above us, is the whole floor given over to storage? Do you know if your weapons are up there, uh, Sir Elf?”

    “Nievan,” the elf said, relaxing a little, “And, yes. Goblins can't bear the touch of lunargentum, so unless they're tossed out things into the sea, they should be somewhere up there, under lock and key. But more importantly, one of my countrymen is being held elsewhere...”

    I didn't give him a chance to finish, though I noted that mithril in this universe was called
    lunargentum”, I guess. “Yes, I know about the princess,” I replied, “If she's held elsewhere, I'll get her, too.”

    “W-wait, what Princess?” I heard the old man hiss, but he was cut short. All three of us froze, and I felt a cold knife of fear slice into my gut.

    From the stairs down came the crash of steel on steel, and the characteristic sounds of battle.

    ---------------------------

    Character Name: Theodore Esche
    Race: Human
    Class: Transmuter
    Level (XP): 3 (6847/10000)
    Hit Points: 6

    Ability Scores
    Strength 11
    Dexterity 17
    Constitution 8
    Intelligence 17
    Wisdom 13
    Charisma 14

    Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
    Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

    Spells Per Day:
    1st Level- 3
    2nd Level- 2

    Spellbook:
    (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
    (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

    Spells Prepared:
    (1st Level): Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Sleep
    (2nd Level): Stinking Cloud, Stinking Cloud

    Equipment: Belt Pouch (Small, 1)

    Money: 320 gp, 791 sp, 7 cp

    Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Ryujin

    Companions: Voss (Level 3 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Moruca (Level 3 Ranger), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Yua (Level 3 Paladin)

    Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

    Sexual Partners: 5

    Backpack (with Voss): Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 3), Boots, Darts (30), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (3), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

    Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
    Currently Playing: Tokyo Mirage Session F# Encore
    Currently Working On: Being more productive
    Current Waifu: Naden, How A Realist Hero Saved the Kingdom

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