Icewind Dale: Session 5

Erling lit a torch and we continued further into the gem mine.

We heard the sound of rushing water as we continued through the narrow tunnels, which soon opened into a small cavern, an underground river flowing through the far side, supported by a natural stone pillar near the water's edge. The river exited the cavern through a two and a half foot wide fissure in the south wall.

Since there were no other exits, we backed up and continued through the tunnels the only way we could.

We soon descended into another small cavern with benches and tables. Gravel and pebbles were strewn on the ground, and scattered across the floor were a few hammers, picks, and broken lanterns. A tunnel led out of the opposite end of the cavern.

Erling began expressing his desire to leave as soon as possible.

Searching the area, I found a small figurine of a dog carved out of rock, with two pebble-sized tourmalines for eyes. With no sign that it was magical, I showed it to my companions, and stowed it in my pouch. I told Brutus to grab a set of tools, in case we needed them later, reminding everyone that Oarus did way we could take what we found, within reason, as reward.

Continuing on through the opposing tunnel, we heard the sound of rushing water before it soon opened into a seemingly bottomless vertical shaft. A narrow waterfall cascaded louldly down the northeast wall. Wooden planks and struts formed a walkway along the south wall to another tunnel. Looking down, we could see more walkways attached to the northwest side of the shaft about thirty feet farther down.

Taking a rope from Brutus, Erling attempted to cross the walkway, clinging to the wall. Halfway across, he cursed as something stabbed him in the foot. 

“They’re down below!” he shouted. As Bran and Brutus yanked Erling back into the tunnel, two kobolds climbed up from beneath the planks and attacked the halfling.

Blaze quickly healed Erling and engaged the kobolds across the walkway. With some support from my firebolts, the two kobolds were soon dead at our feet.

After we had all carefully crossed the walkway, we entered a very small cavern dominated by a wooden pulley system constructed around a large chasm in the floor. A bucket, big enough to hold a humanoid, was held up by thick rope. Three alcoves next to the lift contained wooden boards and mining equipment.

Erling was irrationally opposed to us venturing down the hole, urging us to head back to Termalaine, but we eventually convinced him to continue on and complete our mission, especially since the shaft appeared to only descend fifteen feet to a cavern below.

Using our own ropes as backups, Bran descended first and confirmed it was safe. One by one we each descended down the creaky mechanism, until we were all crowded in a small cavern with two dusty tunnels leading in opposite directions.

Taking the tunnel north, where we could hear the sound of rushing water, we soon entered a chamber similar to one on the level above, with a five foot high rocky ridge separating the far side, and a slope on either side leading to the top of the ridge, where the walls gleamed with gem deposits. A hole in the west side of the chamber opened into the central shaft, where water fell from the level above.

Peering out of the hole, we could see the platform above, as well as two more platforms fifteen feet below.

Heading back, beyond the bucket lift landing, we soon encountered two kobolds standing on top of a table, poking a giant rat with their javelins. They screeched loudly as they noticed us.

“I think it’s dead,” I smirked. “Like you’re going to be soon.”

Erling dropped one with a sling stone, and the other was soon finished by Brutus’ warhammer and Blaze’s sacred flame.

We continued on through the tunnels, which occasionally branched off into small outlets of gem deposits, gradually descending to the lower level of the central shaft. 

The wooden walkway extended from the tunnel’s opening and ran westward to another tunnel in the rock. In front of us, a large bucket like the one we saw earlier dangled from a taut rope that stretched southward across the shaft and connected to another wooden platform fifteen feet away.

Looking down into the shaft, we saw nothing but darkness. Looking up, we could see the undersides of the walkway above.

Erling warned us that the shaft below leads to the underdark, and urged us not to venture any lower.

“How do you know this, Erling?” I asked.

“I was trapped down there for many years,” Erling revealed. “I was kidnapped from my village many years ago. I managed to escape with a group of adventurers, and we made our way out through sheer luck alone, escaping to these caverns. I don’t know how long we were down there...years maybe, but we just managed to make our way out. And that’s how I happened upon this village. But we don’t want to go down there. It leads to the underdark, and we’ll get lost down there.”

“Okay, but now we’re just thirty feet down from the top level,” I tried to assuage his fears, “so why don’t we just take it one level at a time.”

“That’s fine,” Erling replied. “It’s just that we keep going lower, and want you to know what you’re getting yourselves into.”

Brutus secured Bran to his rope, and the bard crossed the wooden walkway to the western tunnel.

“It looks like there’s a relatively long tunnel,” Bran called back to us. “Maybe thirty feet. There’s two side tunnels. Oh, great! I see some bad dudes!”

"We mean you no harm,” we heard a raspy voice call out. “Please don't hurt us."

When Bran questioned the kobold further, it explained, “I’m Trex. Please, we just wanted shelter from the elements. The everlasting winter has made the wilderness unsafe for my kind, and the preternatural cold dulls our wits. Please, we only want a place to stay so we can keep out of this horrible weather. We can work, and we won't cause trouble. Termalaine would be richer for having us.”

“Why did your brethren attack us then?” Bran charged.

“They were just afraid,” Trex offered. “These tunnels aren’t safe. We will not attack you. We will cease hostilities. So what do you say? Can we make a truce? We can go back to Termalaine and work for our food and shelter.”

With a rope securing me, I crossed the walkway to join Bram and saw three skittish kobolds lurking in the dusty tunnel. One of them carried a threadbare satchel and wore a fake pair of dragon wings made of thin wood and tattered white cloth.

We asked Trex about the miners, and he said they had all fled as soon as they arrived.

Bran offered to make the case to the speaker. Erling was convinced it was a trick, and I was inclined to agree, though I could find no evidence of deception or foul play, and Blaze seemed opposed to us initiating any hostility once they had surrendered.

While we were negotiating, Brutus, who had hung back to hold our ropes and was watching the tunnel across the chasm, when a floating brain with a giant beak grabbed Brutus from behind with its many dangling tentacles, grappling and paralyzing the large warrior.

“Brutus is under attack!” Blaze yelled.

I rushed back to Brutus and hit the grotesque creature with a firebolt. Erling, repeating, “I’m brave! I’m brave!” rushed nimbly past it and stabbed the creature’s tentacles.

The creature pecked at Brutus with its beak and tried to pull him down the tunnel, but struggled against the weight of Brutus with all his gear. Blaze cast cure wounds on Brutus. I blasted it with another firebolt. Erling stabbed it again. Brutus, still grappled, summoned all his energy and struck the aberration with his warhammer, avoiding its beak.

The tunnel was suddenly basked in sunlight as Blaze held up his holy symbol, causing the creature to shriek in the radiance. I caught it with another firebolt as it fell to Erling’s repeated stabbing, and oozed cranial fluids.

After Brutus smashed the brain matter to pulp, we returned our attention to Trex, who had been waiting as Bran stood guard over him and his companions.

Despite Erling’s insistence that Trex was lying, we eventually agreed to bring them back to town and offer their services to Oarus.

Before we left, I wanted to explore the tunnels across the chasm, which Trex had told us were uninhabited. Secured to Brutus’ rope, Erling climbed into the bucket and shuttled himself to the other side using the rope-and-pulley mechanism.

Erling quickly explored the two tunnels and returned to the walkway explaining that the caverns were empty besides a fossil skull and some geodes.

Intrigued, I shuttled myself across to join Erling.

In the western cavern I saw a fossilized skull partially jutting out of the east wall of this small cave, five feet off the ground. It had larger than normal eye sockets, a curious ridge between the eyes, nothing that would pass for a nose, and four small holes where teeth should have been.

Psi Crystal
As soon as I touched the skull, it crumbled to dust, revealing a glowing crystal shard embedded in the stone. I pried it out of the wall and placed it in my pouch.

The walls of the easterm cavern were filled with sparkling geodes that stuck out of the wall like glassy shards. Near the eastern wall, the floor rose, leaving a natural ridge with stone ramps leading upward on either end.

Erling and I shuttled back across the chasm, and we all made our way gradually back to the surface, with Trex and the other two kobolds.

When we were close to town, Erling and I entered town to fetch Oarus, leaving the others waiting outside town to watch over the kobolds.

As we entered the town hall, we caught a glimpse of Torg’s caravan in the market square, and the stylishly dressed Sephek Kaltro hanging around nearby.

We ducked into the town hall, and soon had an audience with Speaker Oarus. We brought the half-orc up to speed, apprising him of all our encounters and the perils we faced clearing the mine of all dangers, as well as the situation with Trex.

He agreed to meet with Trex, and explained that he would have to independently verify our success in the mines, and would be able to pay us tomorrow if all was as we said.

Agreeing to his conditions, we brought Oarus to meet with Trex. After a brief discussion, Oarus offered to allow them to work at The Blue Clam, sweeping the floors and keeping the place clean. Trex and his companions accepted the offer and we all headed back into town.

Entering the town proper, we saw the familiar boy wrapped in heavy winter clothes, shouting the news of the day, “Two more hunters from Lonelywood are killed by the white moose. Adventurers wanted. Report to Lonelywood.”

We spoke to the boy, who introduced himself as Darmo Mazlu, and I told him about how we had just eliminated the threats terrorizing the Termalaine’s gem mines. I told him we would take care of the white moose tomorrow morning, and he said he would announce it in tomorrow’s news and asked our party name. Erling winced as I told him we were The Winds of Dawn, but Blaze was pleased and added, “We’re going to bring light into this dark world!”

Citing how close to death we had come in the mines and reminding Oarus that we were about to take on additional dangers in Lonelywood, Bran and I talked a reluctant Oarus into putting us up at The Eastside for one more night. After instructing some guards to take the kobolds to The Blue Clam, he paid for our rooms and board and departed.

At The Eastside we spoke to Marta and made sure she was aware of our exploits and intentions. I showed her the crystal I had found, but she was unfamiliar with it.

We dropped our gear off in our rooms, and took a short rest, agreeing that Erling would room with Brutus and I, and Blaze would share an adjacent separate room with Bran.

During my rest, I attuned to the purple crystal shard.

Once we were rested, we decided to visit The Blue Clam for dinner. We could detect the scent of roasting meat as we approached the dockside tavern. Fishermen sat on benches near one of the building’s long hearths, warming their feet and filling their bellies with spiced chowder. Beautiful works of scrimshaw hung on the walls.

Coincidentally, the roasting meat was moose, recently brought by the hunters from Lonelywood. I didn’t want to stay long, feeling an ever increasing threat that powerful enemies, probably related to Sephek, were hunting me. I was sure that his agents were everywhere, probably watching me wherever I went.

I convinced everyone we should leave, and we headed back to The Eastside. But I could still sense that we were being followed. I suggested we grab our things and depart for Lonelywood right away, but Blaze, Erling, and Bran, all thought that sounded too extreme.

Reluctantly, we all turned in, hoping to depart early the next morning. Erling took the first watch.

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