Caves of Woe

Rick’s Cabin – 6:00 AM

I woke up. Disturbed from the dead body in my dream. I’ve heard of other humanoids like orcs, goblins, and such, but I’ve never seen any in real life. It’s strangely quiet in the cabin. Normally Rick is up before me and I can hear him rummaging around. I can’t hear Rick’s annoying crow familiar cawing as it usually does.

Floyd’s Cabin (formerly this cabin belonged to Ranger Rick). Approximately 2 days east of The Twins, by foot.

I poked my head upstairs and I didn’t hear anything so I assumed that Rick is sleeping. I made breakfast and I brought it up to him but as I stepped into his room it was clear that the old fella wasn’t breathing. I feared this day would come but I didn’t think it would be so soon. Well, maybe I did. He was 83 after all. I put down the tray and sat down beside him on the bed. A long time passed. Then I was shocked out of my fog by the annoying crow who finally showed up and landed on a branch outside of the upstairs window, cawing frantically. It stared inside and squawked a shrill song then stared some more, then flew away.

I went outside and found a nice spot for Rick near the garden under his favorite tree and started digging. And crying. I buried him in the afternoon sunlight, while our ducks and geese wandered the property in their typical confused manner. I said a quick prayer to Helga and then sat on the ground for a long time wondering about life. I was only seventeen and didn’t really know what to do next.

I went back up to his room and looked for something of his I can remember him by. I found a simple leather necklace with a large bear canine and put it on. Then it hit me. This stuff, this room, this cabin is mine now. To distract myself from the sadness I started rummaging around. His locked chest was always a curiosity for me so I dug around the room for the key. I found it under some socks in the drawer.

The chest was full of all sorts of stuff. Notebooks, a sword, journals and manuals on herbs and gardens. Some rolled up maps and two chunky gold rings, one ruby and the other onyx. A sack of coins, both gold and silver. I started to read his journal about his various adventures when he was a young man. He had written a lot about his time at The Wolf Hill Academy where he learned about being a ranger. It sounded like a dull place to me and I was glad that Rick taught me himself instead. When I read how much fun Rick had and the interesting people he met I decided that I wanted to fill my journal with even greater tales.

One journal entry that really got my attention was him mentioning something called the Caves of Woe just a couple of days east of here. I remembered on several hunting trips we took together we wandered close to the cave trailhead but Rick kept telling me to not go in because it was too dangerous. But that was several years ago and I’m a lot stronger than that little boy who needed the warning. Inspired by Rick’s journal, I decided that from this moment on I will stride confidently into the adventurous unknown.

That’s it. I’m heading to the caves, first thing in the morning.

August 16, 1136, 5:30 AM

I wake up full of excitement. Then I get really sad because I remember that Rick is gone. Then, over breakfast I get excited again for the day and can’t pack up quick enough. I hoped I didn’t forget anything. Probably not. I never forget anything.

I pack up as best as I can, lock the front door, and say farewell to the geese and ducks. I’m off to the east on a beautiful August morning with Rick’s voice in my head egging me on. I walked through the forest for a couple of hours swinging my sword as I go along, getting a feel for the hilt. The hilt itself was a master piece, the handle was beautiful and had what seemed to be in the shape of an owls face. I ate lunch on the go, walking through the forest as it got denser and denser. Later in the evening started a fire and cooked the game I had shot earlier. I set up my tree sling in a old oak and thought about how this was my first time traveling on my own without Rick’s guidance, It was both sad and exciting but I wanted to prove to both myself, and Rick, that I am capable. I fell asleep shortly after. .

August 17, 1136, 7 AM

The first part of the day was just as dull as last. Then I came across three sets of human tracks that appeared to be looking for berries. One of them pair of tracks looks to be about my size, but 20 to 30 pounds heavier while the other two were significantly smaller and lighter. I decide to follow these tracks since there going the same direction I am, towards the trail head that leads north up to the caves. I managed to follow the tracks for about a mile before I lost them. I continued towards the trail head and found it quite easily because Rick and I had passed by it many times. He always pointed it out when we saw it.

As soon as I started heading up the trail, I find some my stinky human refuse. Someone wasn’t considerate enough to get off the trail to do their business. Assholes. A little bit further north I found the same tracks from earlier that day and they seem to be heading in the same direction I am. it is roughly 6 PM and as I’m getting closer to the mountain, the sunlight is obscured and I could see the forest opening up slightly into a bit of a meadow before the side of the mountain. I see large boulders littering the ground a head at the foot of the mountain, which is a sheer cliff descending from on high. I come closer to the boulders and search the area and I do find the same three sets of human tracks as well as an old campfire that doesn’t seem to have been used for several days at least and the cave opening itself is there ragged and covered in vines and other overgrowth. There is also a medium size boulder with a strange symbol scrolled on it in what looks to be blood and there’s also a bloody hand print on the boulder, presumably, from the creator of the symbol. Since it’s getting late and I’m not really sure what to expect I backtrack to the forest and find a well covered tree and set up my sleeping sling High off the ground where I’ll be safe but will be able to hear or see activity if it happens.

It was still pretty early, but the excitement of the adventure, and the fact that I was hiking all day made me pretty tired. I fell asleep in the hammock for what seemed like two or three hours, and woke up in the late evening to the sound of voices. Not just any voices, but goblin voices 30 feet below me. Luckily, I was so high up and the light was so dim the goblins so stupid that they never noticed me. They were speaking some harsh language I’ve never heard before and it sound like they were playfully bickering with one another as they headed south down, the pathway from Wednesday came earlier that day. As their voice is faded, I lay there listening to the sounds of the forest and the animals in the birds in the wind waiting. 20 minutes later, I heard them talking in the hammering off in the distance as they came back north along the path . They had passed the boulders passed the rock with the blood and then I couldn’t see them but I assume they entered the cave. I wasn’t sure what tomorrow would hold, but it definitely would not be boring. With that thought and many others I went to sleep.

August 18, 1136, 3 AM

I woke up in the early morning to the sound of a squirrel trying to invade my bag. I quickly shoe it away, and I watch him as he scurries off along the branches to different trees. As I lay in my sling, I started to think about Rick, what would Rick do? Would he stride confidently towards the entrance of the cave or scope it for many moons. I think it’ll probably be something in between, not too cautious, but not too confident. But for the time being am going back to bed, that squirrel woke me up quite early. I woke up two hours later around 6 AM. I decided I’m gonna save my provisions for the cave since I don’t know how long I’ll be down there, so I’m gonna go catch my breakfast. I decend the tree with a couple hiccups, but I make it down. I stopped and looked around at the beautiful scenery.

I went back south along the path to where the berries were because that seems to be where the two goblins managed to find their brace of coneys last night. I wonder for a bit and managed to find a deer with Fons nibbling on the berries, but I definitely don’t want to bring any of them down. 20 minutes later, I spot some rabbits, and turn one of them into a skewer. I go deep into the forest and light a small fire so I can cook it. I skin it just like Rick taught me split it down the middle check out all the guts and then basically turn it inside out pulling all the skin off in one swoop of a motion. as I’m cooking it, a curious badger wanders by my fire site and sniffs the air and makes it clear that he would like some. After I have my fill, I throw him a little piece as well as the rabbit innards, and he gladly eats them up and stares at me like he wants more. I share a little more and finish up the rest, put out the fire And get back to business. I have procrastinated long enough it’s time for adventure. I had back to the northern trail and back to the boulders in the bloody mark.

As I’m approaching the boulders, I realize that I don’t need half the stuff in my bag so I decide to bring what I need and I put the rest in a sack and I put it back up in the tree I Camped in. I make my way back to the boulders and approach the entrance And I take a deep breath and enter.

When I walk in the light from the outside illuminates the passage that I entered and I could see that it ended a few paces ahead in the darkness. I put a hand on my sword hilt, and start slowly drawing it out as I enter the passageway. The first thing I noticed, is that the craftsmanship of this cave once I get past the rubble at the entrance is immaculate. It’s roughly 5 feet wide, and 8 feet tall perfectly polished stone. This must be Jordan made based on what Rick had told me and many of his tales of underground adventuring. Dwarves have not been seen in these parts for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, according to all the tales I’ve heard, but the things they created look like they stand the test of time quite well. I proceed to head to the T intersection to see what lies beyond.

Is it take a few more steps north and reach the T intersection? I realize much to my surprise that it is quite dark when you go into a cave on the side of the mountain as compared to the morning August day outside. But I do notice something else very strange and interesting. As I took the last few steps, I automatically withdrew part of the sword out of it scabbard, and, as I took a few more steps into the darkness of the cave, I realized that there was a light source emanating from down below, from the expose portion of the blade of my sword.

What the hell? Seriously, what the hell is this? I pulled the sword fully out of the scabbard and realize that the whole thing is glowing faintly and has a round the first corner of the cave into further darkness. I realize that it’s glowing so much that I can easily see by it’s late, just like the light of a full moon And a dark night. I am such an idiot, I look again at the hilt and pommel of the sword and see that it is indeed an hour inscribed on it in great detail and artistry. This is what Rick must’ve been talking about in his journal when he mentioned the sword of the night owl. I get it now. He said never to go adventuring without it. That and a crowbar.

I am giddy with excitement, and I am super excited to find out what else the sword can do. I bet it’s got amazing, magical powers other than the light as well. This is going to be amazing. A short distance ahead. I see an old, heavy wooden door, leaning awkwardly in its rusty, giant steel hinges, I approach it and stick my head through the opening defined a small room beyond filled with dust and rubble and spiderwebs. I stepped into the room after prying the door open slightly, and nothing exciting other than the dirt and dust and webs can be found inside. Then I realize that the hallway I was just in is meticulously, spotless, devoid of any rubble, or dust or spiderwebs , or anything else for that matter. It looks like it was freshly cleaned and polished this morning. I leave the room and continue heading west down the Corridor, looking left as I passed the entrance to the tunnel and then seeing the revers north. I follow the path and see three openings on my left . The light of the sword shows me that all three openings have the same large wooden doors. I found in the first room although in much better shape. Again, this hallway is beautifully maintained, no dust, no rocks, no dirt no nothing. As I acclimatized to my surroundings, I realized how eerily quiet this cave system was. I mean definitely silent. I could hear my own breathing, and the gentle sound of my leather boots on the smooth polish floor, but nothing else. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t even hear the wind or the animals or the leaves from the outside which I could when I first entered these caves.

I open the door to the first room to find it empty and an interesting. The second room was strange. It was larger, and on the west wall was written the word wrong in blood, but the rest of the room was empty. The third room had the remnants of a fire pit. This looks to have been several weeks old and the ceiling above it was even chard. The interesting part was that everywhere around the fire pit. The floor and walls were again immaculately, clean, and devoid of any rubble or dust that would most likely have accumulated over the hundreds of years this cave has been abandoned.

Then I heard them. I heard screeching and laughing and cackling, echoing through the normally silent hallways. It was very distant, but I could hear it. It sounded like the goblins I saw yesterday. I am quite curious why there were only two of them because I did see three sets of tracks the other day, and the third set was much larger than the two smaller sets that were most likely made by the goblins I saw. I’m not really sure what to do. The sounds are very distant and the sounds echo in the quiet so I think I will continue, exploring these caves as quietly as possible and see if I get closer to those stupid goblins.

I follow the passage further north, and saw that it again split east and west. I headed west to find another door which I opened and saw this was yet another room that someone decided to use for a fire pit. This one had bones in the corner from it looked to be a cookout. I don’t understand. It seems like only morons would have fire pits in rooms like these when you could easily just have one outside of the cave entrance in the open air where you wouldn’t smoke yourself out. I left the room and headed east down the Corridor. A passageway leading north, but I ignored it and continue to the door ahead of me to the east, opening it. Again, this was another room that was used as a fire pit. There was an ex mark in blood in the corner of the room but nothing else around the X. Again there are bones , remnants of a cookout and urine in one of the corners. Filthy animals the stupid goblins.

I leave this room heading west, now follow the north passage, again seeing three doors to my right, checking each of them intern. Before I head into the first door, I hear the laughing in the cackling again, this time, slightly closer and louder. The sounds don’t seem to be getting any closer. I seem to be getting slowly closer to the sounds as a venture further into the caves.

I open the first door ever so slowly and quietly. This room is quite empty, except for some rusty old countertops in the corner, as well as some thumb sized pebbles lying in a pile. I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling these pebbles might come in handy later, so I pocket a handful of them.

I leave the room and head to the next one on my travels. I open the door slowly and quickly notice a disgusting rotting smell. I enter the room and I see that there is a dead human corpse propped up sitting in the corner. Nothing else, but the corpse is in this room. It looks to be a 50 year old human male Shoe-less and wearing nothing but some cotton under clothes. It looks like he’s been dead for a couple of weeks at least in the advanced state of decay is quite rancid. He doesn’t seem to have any possessions on them based on my quick inspection. I leave the room and close the door behind me breathing some still yet fresh hallway, air. Again nothing but silence.

As I had further north towards the final door, I see that the hallway ends in yet another T intersection ahead. I enter the door to my right to find a clean and empty room. Just this point, I hear, more cackling, echoing through the chambers, and then I hear a door slam in the distance. I instinctively head into the corner of the room For cover and then listen.

First there was nothing, but then I started hearing soft, distant footsteps of a running humanoid. This creature was clearly not trying to be quiet, but was jogging through the tunnels. I then realized that I am lighting up this room and part of the hallway outside with my sword so I quickly shave it, leaving me in complete darkness. My senses are heightened and I continue listening. The jogging sounds are getting closer. The pitter patter of the light leather feet are coming in my direction. Then I hear them pass by the door of the room that I am currently in and the sound starts receding. Perfect.

I keep listening, but after the receding footsteps vanished into the distance the silence came back. I unsheathed the sword, and exited the room very slowly, and continued heading north, from where the footsteps originated to the T intersection. The creature who ran by could’ve come from the east or the west. I chose to go west down along Corridor until I saw a rough opening to the north leading into something very unusual for these perfectly aligned and manicured hallways. It was a cave, a bumpy, misshapen scraggly rocked cave. There was nothing in it, but was very strange to find it here. I left the Cave and started heading west again and then north as the hallway continued in that direction, then I saw another unusual feature of these pristine hallways. It was a very rough blown out tunnel of misshapen boulders and pebbles. It looked like a giant borough at its way through. This ragged tunnel kept heading west getting narrower and narrower and would look to be a collapsed ceiling and rubble, and pebbles all over the floor. I kept heading north down the smooth Corridor’s until I reach the T intersection.

Then it hit me. What the hell am I doing. Rick didn’t raise no idiot. That one goblin who ran by was probably running off to go to the bathroom. Luckily not inside these rooms again. This is my chance to confront him one on one outside without the aid of his friends. I turn back south and walk as quickly and stealthily as I can back to the cave entrance, listening for anything unusual. Encounter nothing but silence as I approach the light of the outside.

9:00 AM

As I exit the cave, the first thing I do is look for tracks. Luckily, I find some heading back along the trail head south. I follow the tracks all the way along the trail, heading back to the main path in the direction of the berry bushes, I found yesterday. I approached the bushes, I hear rustling and the sound of slurping and smacking of lips. I approach the noises as quietly as possible and I see a goblin eating the berries. For some stupid reason I decided to try an old incantation Rick used to use when he was hunting and every time and cast it to make a perfect shot. I asked him how he did it and he told me Helga lent me her power. but every time I attempted this incantation, nothing remarkable happened but today I feel like somethings different. I muttered the the incantation under my breath. As I’m out of the incantation, I felt a chill run throughout my body. Did it work? I felt like I did. The goblin didn’t react in anyway, but that was the same for all the targets Rick place that spell on, so I assumed that he didn’t notice me. I quickly and quietly move behind a tree, and I take the bow off my shoulder and I knock and arrow. I let it fly to my horror it completely misses.

Goblin archer picking berries in the forest.

Hey you, I can see you back there. I ducked back behind the tree and wait. Yeah you I could see you why the hell are you shooting at me? you killed my parents! I’m trying to distract him by making something up. I didn’t kill no parents. Yes you did. You killed him two days ago and I tracked you here. Two days ago I was right here. I saw you killed him. I told you I didn’t kill no parents. But I saw you go and killed my parents and run away. we bickered a while more while I was trying to stall for time, and eventually I let my guard down. He shot an arrow at me and greys my left thigh. I quickly dash behind a tree and I feel foolish for letting my guard down as I load my bow. As I’m about to fire, my bow string breaks on now quickly duck back behind the tree. I take out my sword and the thought crossed my mind. Rick also used to use this one spell that made a bubble of fog that was so dense you can’t see through it. I had also tried to use the spell, but Nothing ever appeared. But today might be different the first boat. Why wouldn’t the second one work. I motor the incantation. Rick told me to my surprise. A giant bubble of fog surrounds the goblin. What the hell is this you runt. I’m dashing around the bubble still surprised that I pulled it off trying to figure out where to go and wasn’t cited. I decide to wait behind a tree until he stumbles out. As I wait, I start to think about how cool this spell is, and how I could use it in other scenarios, but as my mind wanders, I noticed that the fog starts to fade away, and seconds later it completely dissipates.  As the fog vanished, I saw the goblin leaning on a tree with his bow loaded and his back towards me. This is my chance. with my sword in hand, I stride quietly towards him and stab him right through the chest. He kills over and lays motionless. I took my blade out and wiped the blood off on his ragged clothes. I take one arrow out of his sheath and put it in mine to replace the one I shot into the woods. I also check if his bow string will fit my bow. Luckily enough it does, I quickly put the new string on my bow.  I dragged  the body and threw it in the berry bush he was eating from. I didn’t want his buddies to find the body and think somethings amiss. I looked around to see if I missed anything I hadn’t. I start to head back to my camp near The Caves Of Woe.

It’s now around noon.

The Caves Of Woe, four days east of The Twins, by foot.