“Mining the Depths”
Mid day of the 7th of Trisad, 1331 Avard.
The stench of decaying flesh, bear scat, horse fear, and dusty ruins thousands of years old assaulted their noses. The horses were ready to bolt, though they could not seem to decide whether it was worse to stay near an eighty-pound lynx and a hundreds pound bear, or go into the dark and unlit depths of the ancient mining complex.
Aelar and Telemon worked to get control of the horses, assisted by the wild elf Saebael. Once order was reestablished among the herd, they took control of the mess inside, dragging the bodies of the snowfell wolves outside, shovelling out the bear scat, and applying fresh snow to the bloody dust and dirt. In moving things about, they found that the floor beneath the dust and dirt was as smooth as polished marble.
The dwarf Kwartz Spurbreaker was a very changed dwarf. Where before his greed had demanded all the treasure of the mines, the dwarf had realized an older priority. The Spurbreakers were a subclan of the Bandylegs, so named because they were mounted warriors with deep bonds to their bears. The wilden Saebael and the Clan of Caerne had very nearly killed Kwartz's bear Angle'Ise – but they had spared her life, and bandaged her wounds, all without provoking the young brown bear. Aelar had even brought a tiny, healing rain storm upon the bear, washing away many of her wounds and restoring some of her strength.
Kwartz told them that no dwarf could have made the mines they were delving. The scree that formed Wirebeard's Ledge would have taken thousands of dwarves generations to create – and there were legends of such deeds by the dwarves – but no dwarves had made that flooring, or carved those walls in the caves. The entrance they had gone through was too small to be the mine entrance; the scree could not have come out of there. The way into the mines – for it had to be a mine, with all the scree of the ledge – had to be elsewhere. The way they were using was probably a side entrance, or perhaps an extra way out.
The five of them got the entryway cleaned out, though Kwartz and Angle'Ise would stay outside. The group decided to picket the horses in the entryway, and Liam took one of his pitons out and began to drive it into the smooth flooring. At the first strike of the hammer, they heard stirring within the mine. The group changed their minds about picketing the horses, and got them outside, quickly. Kwartz agreed to watch over them, while he watched over a still-healing Angle'Ise, as they explored the mines.
Aelar, Telemon, Liam, and Saebael, along with Saebael's lynx Rumus, reentered the mines, and took a moment to decide which direction to go. East would, according to the crude map Kwartz had drawn them, lead to a room, and some traps. North led into a larger room, connected off to the west to a somewhat smaller room that was still larger than the forty-foot entryway. West off of the entryway was an unknown. They decided to strike off in that direction – only to have that direction strike at them.
Elemental shardlings, each only hip-height to a man, began to march out of the entryway. They were made of earth and dust and sones and obsidian and quartz, and they were already preparing obsidian and quartz blades for throwing. The torchlight illuminated more and more of them, further back into the western tunnel.
Saebael reacted first, rushing to strike them and contain them before they could move out and surround the group. Telemon and Liam waded in, with Aelar keeping a healthy distance but doing his best as a shaman of the old ways to do damage against the elementals. Aelar's spirit companion, a falcon with a gentle glow to it, helped their torches illuminate the danger.
Rumus the lynx responded to Saebael's threat, as she became the target of many of the shardlings. The lynx's growl grew in power, amplified by the bond of the wilden, until it shattered the shardlings. Behind the shardlings, however, strode elementals the size of men, unphased by lesser powers that could destroy the shardlings. The man-sized elementals pounded on Liam and Saebael, until they were finally cut apart.
The party returned to the entryway to catch their breath, sip some water, and sharpen the nicks out of their blades. They smelled… smoke.
Outside, Kwartz had set about to using the horses. While his bear rested, the mounts drug trees and shrubs towards the entryway, making himself a good fuel supply. The dwarf had a small fire going, and the party quickly moved out of the entryway and around the fire to sharpen their blades. They also took the time to probe Kwartz's memory of the caves.
Boredmin Dunnigan, heir to the Lord of Lena and fire mage, had gone to Mount Basilisk in search of sellswords, along with his brother Aredis Dunnigan. He had hired the elf Ethelen, Kwartz, and the two kobolds Sebathik and Kebeturk. Boredmin tried to keep the map he had a secret, but they all knew of it. The map led them to the entryway, but apparently had little other information for Boredmin. Once inside, he had randomly decided to go down the eastern passage. That, Kwartz said, was when the trap went off. Lightning burned through them all, hurting the elf most of all, for he wore chainmail and the metal had arced and burned the elf badly.
They all looked to Liam, sitting near the fire in his metal scale mail, his shield resting nearby.
Kwartz said that Boredmin was forced to use one of his few healing potions on the elf, or risk his sellswords turning on him. From there, they went back to the entryway, and north, into what Kwartz described as a grand hall that no torches could illuminate because of its size. They had walked along the edge of the grand hall, finding its two exits, and took the second one, off to the west. The room was a great set of kitchens, Kwartz said, as it had once held hearths and storage and bins. It was all dust, now.
That was where they found the great diamond that Aredis picked up in his greed. The diamond was ultracold, and Aredis ran from them all, driven mad by something in the diamond. Outside, he was found frozen solid, the diamond in his hands – and that was when a massive elemental of ice twelve feet tall had formed around Aredis' body. There was little they could do, save follow the elemental – and the rest of the story, the party knew, as they had shattered the elemental.
The party thought briefly of just collapsing the mines, but the avalanche of snow precluded any real possibility of that. They thought of using the horses to block the mine entryway, but what their horses could block, another group of horses could unblock. They decided that the only way to deal with the elementals, was destroy them all. Only then could River Crown be safe.
While Saebael did not have a vested interest in River Crown, she did have an interest in cleaning out the danger represented by the mines. The elementals were trouble, as was the spirit of evil still out there, possibly linked to the mine, somehow. Saebael's people were an isolated, insulated people that trusted to their wardens to keep the outside world from intruding on them. The wilden way was fiercesome – to seek danger out and destroy it, or disappear into the mists and let danger find them the hard way, and regret it.
They chose to continue down the western corridor, and see if there were more shardlings, or more of the man-sized elementals. In the dirt and debris of the elementals, they found three perfectly cut tourmalines of varying colors. Aelar found that they had once housed the spirits of the elementals, but no longer. The larger gems carried considerable power, but the smaller gems apparently did not. Gems, used to control elementals… It sparked in them a tempered greed; each gem represented more wealth than all the people of River Crown.
Perhaps sixty paces down the western corridor, it branched into a warren of rooms and corridors. Their torches and the light of the spirit companion made the labyrinthine corridors seem dangerous indeed. Careful and cautious, they explored each room for clues and remains, digging through the inches-thick dust and grime to find what they could.
In one of the larger rooms, they found the remains of an elf, and a wolf. Both had sharpened bones run through them. Such sharpened bones reminded the party of the undead they had fought near Caerne's Totem, when it was first being erected. It sent a shiver through their spines – a shiver of anticipation and hatred of the undead. The elf's skeleton revealed an enchanted spear full of nature's power, as well as the totem of a bear carved from bone. An enchanted flint revealed the elf's name: Lavan Yellilishiritha.
Liam turned a corner, and found the corridor beyond filled with the undead. They had been standing there, perhaps for centuries, and suddenly they moved. There seemed no end to them, and sharpened bone began to fly. Liam's shield was barely up in time, and he had to kneel against the onslaught. As the battle was enjoined, Rumus once again raised his growl into a feral scream that rebounded within the underground complex. The skeletons shattered under the lynx's power, and the party could only stare at the lynx as it sat purring, using a licked paw to clean its whiskers.
They continued exploring the warren of rooms and caves. The larger rooms were twenty-five feet on a side, with ten foot ceilings. There were ten of them, clustered around the middle of the corridor that continued deeper into the west. Around the larger rooms were ten foot cubed rooms, each plenty large enough for a peasant family.
As they came out of one such set of rooms whose doors were long-since fallen into dust, they were struck with a maelstrom of dirt and debris. A whirling dirvish that stretched to the ceiling attacked them, hurling Saebael several yards down a corridor and slamming and buffetting them against the walls. They attacked, hacking and slashing at the wind itself – and then it collapsed into a dozen such winds, nearly surrounding them. They recognized the elementals by their size – smaller whirlwinds, and man-sized, all intent on blinding and beating the party to death. Though it was air, there was something forcible within it that they could strike at, and strike they did.
Two perfect tourmalines went flying as they last strokes finished off the larger beasts. Saebael alone had destroyed most of the smaller beasts. She moved, and at first they thought her to be some sort of earth elemental in her form. The powers of the wilden wardens were drawn from nature, and from the elements. The gem-crafted elementals, though, were the product of dark powers not seen in the world for many centuries.
They withdrew to one of the larger rooms, guarding the entryway, and rested for a bit, before moving onward. Down one of the smaller corridors, they discovered the toilets. Telemon felt the walls and they could almost hear the pressure. An underground river flowed nearby, providing water for the complex and flushing away their wastes. Like all the complex, the toilets had been carved from the mountain – all the complex was one single piece of stone.
After a brief consultation – and a few uses of the toilet, themselves – the group prepared to move on, towards the west. They were dirty, tired, bruised, and scratched badly, but they were determined to clean the complex out of its undead, and its elementals. The blue and purple and yellow and red and every color of the rainbow two-toned tourmalines they found were a fine incentive, as well.
Mid afternoon of the 7th of Trisad, 1331 Avard.
THU25MAR2010. I'd forgotten how much fun a dungeon delve could be! I made some mistakes, though. Need to remember to work the search checks a bit better, let the higher checks be the first to find things, and go through room by room. I was watching the clock, and shouldn't let that push things through – especially when it comes to party loot! Otherwise, we had a fine time. Dinner was a taco soup Sommer made. Her two kids were with us, and the youngest was easily distracted by games online. The eldest, though, made things eerie with his occasional exclamations of, “You're all gonna die!” right as the party would face off against the monsters.
Bill and Ross play on Tuesday nights, as well as Thursday nights, and they have more familiarity with the game than either Sommer or David. That familiarity shows when Sommer and David are having to look up powers or consider their next actions. I recommend they do some homework and glance at their powers once or twice during the week. ;) That would help them figure out how best to work their powers, and how to get the most out of their abilities. Of course, I'm not without my own fault, there; we had to take a break and look up 'low light vision' and figure out how it affected the players in the darkness of the tunnels. I have my own homework to do!
I have looked over my powers I have just never played a tank before. Specifically -so much of what I can do is reactive or triggered so until I get practice then staring at the pages will do me no good. I will get faster, though, just be patient with me, please.
I have also never played a dungeon before so I am interested to see how it goes. Good game/recap. I think there should be something about Aelar's growling necklace up there, though…:)
Good ol' dungeon romp.
I'm in no hurry, battles will eat up time, it's what they do. It's also part of the fun!
WTB a wizard…
Fun session. I know my powers - it's just that by the time my turn comes around what I was planning to do has to change because everyone else has gone already… I may take improved initiative for my next feat. lol
Btw, the taco soup was delicious.