The entrance was shut tight. Oak planks held fast to the rock, skewered with iron spikes. Incomprehensible dwarven runes burned into the surface of the planks remained blackened and crusted with charcoal. A debate began over how to best to open the mine. It was cut short when Azrak’s patience evaporated. His axe smashed the planks to bits.
Beyond the planks was an iron bucket, large enough for a man, hung over a shaft by two iron chains. The chains looped over two wheels. Azrak explained the operation of the dwarven elevator, operated by a crank in the bucket. Another crank down below could also move the bucket, but the bucket could not be recalled from the surface if the bucket was already below. This was the dwarven design to prevent easy access to underground areas.
As a precaution, Aderian looped a roop over the axel holding the wheels used by the chains. One by one, they descended via the elevator. It stopped after 100′ on a raised platform in a small room. On arrival, Aderian caught a glimpse of a diminutive figure as it dashed into darkness: pale skin, oversized head and arms, white beard and hair.
Ferris carefully examined the door which remained partially open. Beyond was a nicely finished hallway, ten feet wide. Across it, the floor collapsed into a lower area. To the left, the hall extended some distance and narrowed from a pile of loose rubble. He crept to the end of the hallway and shone his glowing stone out into a large gallery, rough with natural features, including stalactites.
Ruined supply crates lay under dust and sizable rock. Across the chamber he spied double doors of iron, crossed with wooden planks. Another area of collapsed floor beckoned to the right, matching a larger passage to the left. In the center of the gallery stood a dark, gnarled tree. Roots bulged as they squeezed into cracks. Limbs rose upward in the darkness to touch the ceiling, forty feet above.
Ferris inched closer, Azrak a few steps behind. Suddenly the limbs swung down at Ferris, wrapping around him and lifting him up. Aderian and Ghevont rushed forward to assist. Tienarth let loose magic missiles which tore at the foliage, causing Ferris to drop to the ground. Moments later, the tree grabbed Ghevont. Longstream hurled a flaming flask of oil that landed wide. Azrak landed a heavy blow of his hammer and the tree fell over with a crash.
All during this time, they noted tapping that increased and decreased in frequency. From which direction did it come, they wondered. While listening, stone from above let go, bouncing off of Azrak’s shoulder. It seemed to be best heard from the larger passage to the left, choosing it as a next place for exploration.
A small chamber of natural cavern opened up, decorated by a pentagram drawn on the floor in charcoal. Ghevont smudged the circle with his boot and the lines flash with fire. In the middle of the pentagram growled a hellhound that immediately lunged at the cleric.
Ghevont said a prayer for strength versus fire as Azrak and Aderian rushed to swing at the giant dog. After a smarting blow of Azrak’s hammer, the hound snapped viciously. Over many tense moments, the hound never let loose with fiery breath and before too long it fell under too many blows.
They ordered themselves into a single file in order to move deeper into the caves, finding methodical mining tunnels, one of which sparkled with a gold vein. Two other major branches of mining tunnels were checked and found to contain little more than dust.
As they backed out, Longstream fell to the floor. Ghevont rushed to the halfling, noting he still breathed. Tienarth warned of foul gasses and they retreated back to the large gallery.
Near the iron doors, a narrow passage lead to stairs. Azrak climbed the stairs to find a room with smooth floor. He marched toward a ladder leaning against the far all. Beneath him a trap door opened. Down he plunged towards fearsome iron spikes. He tossed his shield down at the spikes, avoiding the worst consequences of falling 80 feet onto spikes.
After they hauled Azrak from the pit, they climbed the ladder to find a curving hallway. Moving to the right, they came to a small chamber, in the center of which a 3 foot hole was partially covered by a wooden plank. Somewhat of an expert, Azrak declared it a dwarven latrine.
Presently, Tienarth noticed a secret door back in the hallway. Finding no traps, Ferris pushed it open to reveal narrow stairs going down.
The backtracked to the door near where they climbed up the ladder. Beyond it was a room with an elaborate maze laid out in tile. Aderian tossed a handful of gravel into the room and they gasped as several darts shot across the room. Aderian felt brave, unreasonably so, and attempted to sort out a safe path through the tiles. Partway across, darts struck him. Meanwhile, Ghevont solved the riddle of the maze and joined Aderian at the far door. They opened it to find a large man affixed to the wall with iron spikes. An open bag lay at his feet.
Ferris chose a convenient nook and faded into the shadows while Teinarth, Longstream and Azrak waited in the hallway. Ghevont and Aderian examined the strange man pinned to the wall. Ghevont prayed to know of nearby evil and saw one, so he grabbed the bag. Aderian noted the giants eyes opening but could not induce conversation.
Meanwhile, those in the hallway noticed movement. Eight centipedes scrambled into view. Tienarth cast a spell of sleep and all but two fell silent. Longstream and Tienarth suffered bites. Longstream could not shrug off the effects of the poison (-1 CON), but he could kill one of the vermin with a crushing blow. Azrak killed the other centipede still moving, then crushed the sleeping enemies.
Presently, what they now recognized as a flesh golem went berserk and pulled itself from the wall. It swung at Aderian, dealing grave damage. Ghevont reached to cover the golem’s head with the bag and then began pounding at it with his mace. Soon the wild swings of the golem ceased under too many injuries and it returned in inanimate flesh.
Ghevont retrieved the bag and immediately produced a ring from inside. He put the ring on his left finger and its ruby glowed momentarily. Then Ghevont offered a blessing for Aderian who sagged under several wicked blows from the golem.
With both Aderian and Azrak weaked from battles, they agreed to retreat for some time to heal.
- Treasure: magical ring
- 8 Centipedes, 5 HP, 13 XP
- Demonic Tree, 28 HP, 500 XP
- Flesh Golem, 44 HP, 1,225 XP
- Hellhound, 46 HP, 800 XP
- Tienarth/Tre – noticed secret door, avoided combat, applied reason to situation
- Aderian/Jason – fought, lead
- Ferris/Henry – used thief skills
- Ghevont/Jeff – offered healing
- Virtues: none
- Vices: none