Chapter 13
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You are revived.

You suffer the effect of Weakened.


“Wakey, wakey, manthing! Many tongueflaps we need with you.”

Something rough slapped across Hal’s face and he slowly came back to his senses. When he saw where he was, he instinctively reached for his falchion but found nothing there.

Instead, he discovered that his hands were once more bound. This time with thick, itchy rope. A recurring theme he was getting more than a little sick of.

The first thing I need to do is learn how to escape the bonds people keep putting on me. Maybe there’s a spell I’ll be able to learn if I live that long. This is getting ridiculous.

Worse yet, his clothes had been stripped from him. All he had on between himself and the wild world around him was a pair of embarrassing Cat in the Hat boxers. Wherever he was, it was cold. He shivered fitfully and tried to take in his surroundings when a masked goblin reached one stubby hand forward and pulled Hal upright. He held a small crudely carved item his free hand.

Everything felt sluggish. His mind dripped disconnected thoughts that he couldn’t keep straight for longer than a few seconds. Even the appearance of his rather diminutive cellmate didn’t seem to register directly.

Hal took a moment to take in his surroundings. He was in a roughhewn cave, with torches set haphazardly along various ramshackle levels built with little more than twine and sticks.

The cave was fairly tall, he couldn’t see the roof through the gloom even with several torches spaced out among the ramshackle prison cells. Everything had a very kludged feel to it. Functional but only just.

The only thing that seemed decently constructed were the rows of cages that held countless shadowy forms. More prisoners. So, I’m not the only one.

Another slap brought him back to his cellmate. A little goblin with a crudely carved mask that fit over his face, not too unlike the shape of a bowling ball with large spaced apart holes. He had a single long pointed green ear that was practically drooping out of the left side of his mask.

“You listen to Buffrix!” His tiny hands were encased in what looked like leather mittens. “I save your livingforce, so you owe me manydebts uplander!”

Hal put his hands to his temples and rubbed slow, soothing circles. The goblin hopped back and took an aggressive stance. “I don’t know what you mean, livingforce? Do you mean you saved my life?”

“Is what I said, why you tongueflap useless words at Buffrix?” The goblin hopped about, agitated.

“Why would a goblin save my life?” Hal asked, lowering his hands and trying to piece together a plan on how he was going to get out.

“Goblin, uplander must be airsick! Tongueflap crazy things. I am Koblin, not Goblin. Different! Buffrix will mercygive such cruelness this once. But only this once!” He hopped around, plenty of room for him to do so, though the cage was barely tall enough to hold Hal standing up.

“Sorry, I’m new here.” Hal looked down at his chest, his skin was stained dark brown with old blood and the wounds that should have taken months to heal were instead angry pink flesh already on the mend.

Hal pointed to his chest. “You did this, Buffrix?”

The koblin nodded. “Manthing owes manydebts with Buffrix now!”

“All right,” Hal hedged, assuming the koblin was telling the truth. “And how do you want to be repaid?”

“Manthing will help Buffrix and his clan escape. We kaboom goblin stinkhome. Then manthing’s manydebts be gone.”

Hearing him talk was giving Hal a bigger headache than the one he woke up with. Then again, if this koblin did save his life he did owe him a debt of gratitude.


You have received a Quest!

Repay Buffrix

Having saved your life, Buffrix has requested that you repay him by breaking him and his clan out of confinement and destroying the goblin prison. 

  • Reward: 2,500 Experience Points, Koblin Reputation Up, [Goblinbane]
  • Difficulty: A

 “Got any bright ideas on how we might accomplish those lofty goals?” Hal walked the five steps to the bamboo bars and curled his hands around them trying to shake the cage loose. It was surprisingly sturdy. “I don’t precisely have any means of escaping, let alone a weapon to defend myself.” He looked down at his Cat in the Hat boxers. “Or clothes.”

“We need be finding Sparkspox and Jabkix,” Buffrix said. “Koblinclan help us get out.”


Quest Updated: Repay Buffrix!

Through speaking with Buffrix, you have learned that he needs the help of two of his clanmates to escape: Sparkspox and Jabkix.

Objectives

  • Rescue Sparkspox
  • Rescue Jabkix
  • Kaboom?

Rewards

  • 2,500 Experience Points
  • Koblin Reputation Up
  • [Goblinbane]

 That was the first quest Hal had ever gotten. Though it was hard to focus. The cave was damp and chill, he had to grit his teeth to stop them from chattering.

Hal looked at all the other cages to take his mind off the cold. They were stacked atop each other like Jenga towers ready to fall at the slightest breeze. The few faces he could see looked like people. A few cages held what he assumed were koblins with their crudely carved masks turned his way.

The one thing he didn’t see, was any kind of guard presence. Hal’s cage was about three stories up and set on a rocky shelf all on its own. But that also meant he and Buffrix were alone.

“What’re they going to do with us?” he asked.

Buffrix plopped down onto his butt. “Forcedo manythings. Maybe sell for jingleshine to humans. Many jingleshines for certain humans. Maybe they sell you. Better fate than koblin.”

The morose tone pulled Hal away from the bars. He sat down on the hard stone floor and looked at his companion. “Why?”

“Goblin hate koblin. If they no kill, they forcedo until dead.” He waved a stubby, mittened hand in the general vicinity of the other cages. “Cages built by koblin to house more koblin. Humans have saying, is vicious whirlygig, yes?”

I think I understood that, somehow.

“That sounds horrible.”

Buffrix shrugged. “Is truth.”

The koblin was quiet over the next few hours as Hal paced the confines of his cage and tested the bars for any weakness. He thought he found a frayed bit of rope near the far side that overlooked the lip and the precipitous drop to the cages below. But even if he was able to pry the bars loose enough, he’d never be able to climb down.

And the cold was beginning to get to him. Without any reprieve, Hal’s hands and feet were beginning to numb. It was all he could do to pace and try to keep busy but each step on the cold stone floor sapped more of his precious heat.

Hal had noticed that when he had first come back to consciousness his HP had been about a quarter of its max and was ever-so-slowly inching its way back up. As the cold settled in, that progress slowed until it all but stopped. He was sitting at a pitiful 31 HP and still had that Weakened status effect, which he was beginning to understand as the cause for his sluggishness.

The fact that after a few hours it hadn’t worn off was more than a little troubling. The lack of information was frustrating. This was nothing like the games he had played. Even the hardcore versions had a brief message about a status effect.

“Kobbiefriend bring tastynums!” called out a voice, jarring Hal back to the present issue at hand. The image of a koblin hurried up the sloping ramp on stubby legs, and oversized green feet. It sported a similar if somehow much cruder wooden mask over its features.

Something about the masks tickled Hal in the back of his mind. He knew it was an important detail but didn’t know why.

The koblin was shadowed by what Hal assumed was a goblin. They were identical in size and general shape but the goblin had on a suit of metal armor that covered it from head to toe, leaving only its long floppy green ears exposed. It held Hal’s falchion in its hand which looked far too big for it.

Every so often the goblin shoved the koblin forward. “Hurry emptyhead! Gobbies have busydeals to make!”

The koblin hurried as fast as his floppy feet would allow, carrying a wide wooden tray with two wooden bowls. Every time the goblin pushed him, the contents of the bowls slopped out a little.

Hal grimaced. He didn’t want to know what was in them.

“Here go, tastynums for Buffrix and…” The koblin looked up at Hal. “Oh, manthing is awake! Happy days!” The koblin let out a little joyous whoop, which the goblin immediately reprimanded him for by shoving him to the ground.

Hal barely got his arms through the bars in time to catch the tray before the small koblin crashed to the floor with a pathetic yelp. It was ridiculously hard to hold the tray at the angle the bars forced his tethered hands at.

“Upget and go back to cage!” the goblin hollered, pointing with Hal’s falchion. “Or we use koblin for target practice.”

The koblin bowed his head, looked Hal’s way and made some strange motion with the cloth mitten on his hand and then hurried away with the goblin glaring at Hal.

Before he could set the tray on the ground, the goblin was on him. He gripped Hal’s left wrist with alarming strength. He pulled it down far enough that Hal was forced to his knees. Buffrix stayed far behind, obviously terrified of the goblin.

The goblin looked at the bandage on his wrist just below the ropes that bound his hands together. In Hal’s haste to get his hands through the bars and catch the tray, it had come loose.

Golden light spilled out of the gap, catching the goblin’s eye. He ripped the bandage off and gazed greedily at the mark with a look of anxious recognition.

Hal glared at him and tried to pull free but couldn’t quite break the grip. “Yes.” The goblin practically purred. Though it was closer to a gurgle. “We know a manthing that will pay many, many, jingleshines for you.” The goblin let go and cackled.

As soon as the goblin turned to go, Buffrix was beside Hal taking the bowls from the tray with his stubby arms. Which let Hal bring in the tray unencumbered.

Buffrix sat down again, legs akimbo and held both bowls. He set one down and slid the other across the stone floor to Hal. Some white goop was inside with black flecks that looked a lot like flies. There were floating chunks that could have been potatoes. But Hal didn’t think it likely.

“No watching!” Buffrix squealed.

“Have it your way.” Hal grabbed his bowl, took a whiff and slid it back toward Buffrix. It smelled like spoiled milk and rotting citrus. He turned his back to Buffrix.

Loud slurping sounded from behind him and Hal found himself strangely tempted to look over his shoulder. If they all wear masks it must be pretty bad. Or maybe it’s some cultural thing. Why does it seem significant? Better leave it alone, the last thing I need is to make any more enemies. So, Hal kept his back turned and gazed out of the bars into the massive cave.

He could hear voices, dull and hushed from other cages. It seemed it was feeding time. Goblins followed crude-masked koblins around as they were forced to feed the prisoners.

“Are you done?” Hal asked.

“Yes, manythankings for extra food.”

Hal turned around in time to see Buffrix patting his rather gaunt belly. “You’re welcome.” He raised his bound hands. “Why aren’t you tied up like me?”

“Buffrix is no threat to goblin. You need hands separate?”

“I do if I’m going to be able to help repay my debt and get out of here before they sell me back to Fallwreath.” At least, that’s where he thought they were going to sell him to. Nowhere else cared much about him and he doubted Elora’s Rangers had the money.

If they survived, he thought morosely.

The koblin reached into a cunningly worked leather pouch Hal hadn’t seen before on the small koblin and pulled out a small knife. More of a shiv, really.

Am I about to get prison shanked by a koblin?

He hobbled over to Hal and motioned for him to bring his hands over. When he did, the little koblin sawed through the thick rope binding with the tiny crude blade.

Though it took more than a few minutes, Hal was eventually freed. “Thanks.”

“Here, you take.” Buffrix handed Hal the filed down piece of scrap. It barely extended from his palm when he gripped it.

Hal immediately went to work driving the point into the bamboo of nearest bar on his cage. It made an ugly scratch but not much damage. With Hal’s strength, it would take a while to make any real progress. Even on the few bamboo bars. He didn’t think it’d be much use gouging the rough planks of wood and they were so wrapped up in rope that he didn’t have the first idea where to make a cut.

“This is going to take a while to get through,” he muttered to himself.

“Yes, is good we have many clockticks before Goblins sell you.”

Shit. Hal redoubled his efforts. He had to get out. It didn’t seem likely that he’d be able to escape a proper prison twice.

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