Return to Barsaive

Into the Mine

From the Journal of Sharak Langenbart, Weaponsmith:

?? Straasa 1508: So much has happened since I was able to find the time and energy to write, I am not even certain of the date. Looking back, when I last set pen to page we were about to set off for the mine and to confront the Brithan. Obviously, it was Parth we chose to travel on point and confront the beast. Nels, the troll and I hung back and watched as he faced down the great bear. The stared at each other for a few moments and then both lunged. It was too fast for me to follow, but the warrior struck a telling blow and danced aside from the bears massive claws. It screamed in shock and backed away from its cave, yielding to us as Titoo had thought it would. The mine was open to us at last. Past the lair of the Brithan, there was a fair sized loop of a corridor with several branches, all but one ending in a door which had been built somewhat recently. The last was covered in thorny brush which we cleared aside. I saw the most clearly of us so I entered first and was surprised to look up and find the ceilin seething with flying creatures with massive teeth, vaguely wormlike. By some dumb luck they did not seem to care about our presence, so we decided not to investigate the small opening on the other side more closely. It looked like it might be how the creatures entered and exited the cave since it did not appear that they came into the other parts of the cave system. We peered through each of the three doors and found a similar scene, a largish more or less empty cavern, cleared of debris and containing little but a large floor carving of a different color than the surounding stone. One of these carved stones was intact, one was badly cracked and the other was missing completely, revealing some kind of shaft. I was unable to make out the details from behind the flimsy door so Parth offered to break it down. This was not difficult but when the door gave way there was a mechanical sound and far behind us a massive crash of falling metal and chains. We hurried back toward the entrance, and sure enough a large portculus had fallen and trapped us inside. Who knows who heard or was alerted by that noise, or any acompanying magic we could not be aware of. Certainly some one was, but I digress. We traveled back to the shaft and investigated further. A ladder was neatly ancored beside the hole and piled in a small heap. Fortunately the toothy bat-worms were not disturbed by the noise and we took the time to investigate the carved stone which had blocked the opening of the shaft, for a shaft it was. It was carved with many runes and powerful magics, most of which were of the sort that guard the entrance to Caers! We had some hope that we could find our way into the caer and avoid whoever might come in response to our springing of the door trap. We deployed the ladder into the hole after a pause to drop an quickly enchanted rock to cast light into the opening. It was quite deep and big enough around it would be impossible for any of our party to shimmy down it. We used the ladder, which proved stout, and decended further into the depths.

After some brief exploration, we discovered what did indeed appear to be some kind of mine, though one riddled with deadly traps. The passage we descended into circled a large central chamber which contained a large glowing gem and an enormous skeleton which presumably belonged to some kind of horror. We investigated the inner corridor first and discovered a number of side passageways blocked by cave ins, as well as an outer corridor separated from the inner corridor by some stairwells which seemed specifically designed to catch the heavy, bad air that one finds sometimes in mines. There may have been other magical defences, but we mostly found the more mundane types of pressure plates and trip wires. The large crystal near the horror skeleton, which was thankfully inert, was filled with mesmerising shadows. Parth became lost in its depths at one point, but seemed to recover once we knocked him away from the thing. I speculate that it was a kind of honey-pot trap for horrors which we perhaps only saw a fraction of its influence. From investigation of the skeleton, which we were careful to avoid contact with, it appeared to have fallen from a standing position without any obvious wounds, possibly after having stood touching the crystal in fascination until it starved.

After fully investigating the inner corridor to the best of our somewhat limited abilities, we held our breath and travelled through the short pool of dead air to the other side and the outer corridor. It was somewhat like the inner corridor, but on the northern end (well, what I will call north for the lack of a better term) it stopped being as finished and opened into a more natural cave system. Not entirely natural as we discovered when we set off more traps, a particularly painful spike trap and some blades that sprang from the walls. There was a stream, which did not seem enchanted, in one room and a large fast moving underground river in the next which was lined on one side with decorative paving stones. We also disturbed a pair of flying creatures with poisonous tails which looked like flying manta rays. I had seen in the wild before and thought them particularly dangerous, so we avoided contact with them. Fortunately they did not seem interested in us as long as we avoided their nest. Instead we focused our investigations on the room with the river and decorative pavers. We made several attempts to get across the river, but we were not as prepared for this mining expedition as we would have liked and were unable to manage it. After some frustration, we looked at the pavers and discovered writing on the back which, in the language of the wizards, said something about speaking the password. The illusionist spoke the charm on the stones, but we did not know how to respond and so we were unable to proceed. Parth and Nels became agressive again and argued at some length about the amulet which we had presumably lost to the elves, with Parth feeling that it might have been helpful in breaching this ward. In any event we had no luck in resolving the situation, so we ultimately were forced to retreat back to the shaft from which we had entered. We had found the bases of the other shafts but they lacked ladders to climb so we had only one choice.

In fact we had no choices at all as it turns out, as the ladder had been pulled up from above when we returned and there was a light burning. We retreated briefly, but were unable to come to any better ideas than to call out to whoever it was above. IT was the elven guard from Ardanian, unsurprisingly, and after some fruitless negotiation we agreed to climb up one at a time if they lowered the ropes. We were disarmed and tied, then led back to town and put in the jail. We thought our adventures might be over then, though we did not give up hope.

We were bound and marched back to the city and thrown in a large common cell, larger than the one where Parth had spent the night. We asked about and were pleased to find Grenkar Eisengeser alive among the prisoners. None looked well enough assist in an escape attempt and Grenkar informed us that none would try. However, we confirmed the story told to us by Toungar which linked all these strange behaviours to the abandoned mine which we had been told about and had correctly concluded was a kaer. What we did not realise, however, is that the kaer was still closed and still occupied! Some of the prisoners said they were residents of the kaer and had been imprisoned when they discovered some of the Elves had a secret way out, or at least had caught wind of their conspiracy somehow. This leads us to even more questions about the elves here and doubles my suspicions that Horrors may be at work in their minds. This new information did us no good however, jailed as we were, so we began to plan our escape.

The only plan for escape we could come up with, however, was for us to try and bait the guards into coming in and roughing us up as they enjoyed doing according to the other prisoners. This didn’t seem especially likely to work, but as I began attempting to taunt one of the guards we had another surprise! An obsidiman, the one who I had spoken to about the ritual dagger at the Red Dragon, burst into the room along with Titoo and a T’skrang I also recognised from the bar. It was a pleasure to watch them artfully dispatch the guards and open the cell. Parth and I armed ourselves and took the guards armored cloaks to replace our missing equipment. The prisoners speculated that the secret entrance to the kaer was in the treasure room beyond the guard room so we began our search there using the keys we found on the guards. Titoo was very distracted by the heaps of coins and curios in the vault, even though the Obsidiman threatened to kill anyone who tried to remove it, so it took quite some time to find the secret but we did and here we are inside a little used part of a closed kaer! What my parents would do to be here with us, Passions bless their souls.

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