Burned and battered, they crawled out of the hole and assessed the damage. Judging the challenges ahead, they agreed extended rest and preparation were needed before returning to the mine, so they walked home to the Jonamor Estate. Azrak and Longstream spent weeks sparring, seeking new insights. By the the time the calendar turned to the month of the Bear, both were much hardier.
Meanwhile, Ghevont journeyed to consult with Lah on the topic of recharging his staff of healing. After a sizable donation, the staff held maximum charges, likely a useful tool for their return trip underground.
Tienarth and Ferris rode on to Slateholm, paying a visit to Benabil. A quiver of magical arrows was acquired but the rest of the goods were not suitable for their needs.
On the 1st of Bear, they walked back to Dacha’s mine, travelling down the dwarven elevator one at a time. Noting increased creaking, they made sure to tie a rope to an iron spike at the surface as a backup escape method.
Tienarth opened the door he’d previously locked with a spell and they moved back into cavernous gallery. The demonic tree still lay undisturbed. Up the stairs, around the pit and then up the ladder they went until they reached the secret door they’d previously let be. Ferris crept down the stairs there to listen at the backside of another secret door. With no sound, they went through to find an toppled barrel disgorging coal across the floor of a small room. Chunks of coal were crushed into power between this door and one on a far wall.
Through that door, they found a forge. All seem undisturbed for some time except for some infrequent movement. Through another door, they came to a long hallway with several doors, including double doors at each end. They pushed open the nearby doors to the east to reveal another long hallway, this one displaying vivid scenes of dwarven exploits.
Murals depicted dwarves working in forges, fighting goblins and mining, all defaced with splotches of blood and excrement. Gilded plaques beneath each scene provided titles in dwarvish.
A door to the left lead to a small library, its walls lined with iron shelves which still held a few books. They began examining each one in turn. They were as follows.
- Missing its cover and wrapped in string, the vandalism done to the first book, a copy of Juntor’s Cavern Combat, wass obvious, even before the many missing pages were counted.
- The second discovery was a map of underground tunnels in the kingdom of Baerhi. Dacha’s mine, their current location, did not appear on the map.
- Carved into the wooden front board of next book was the title Divination by Vein. Several pages were torn out, but enough remained to communicate a method for fortune telling by tracing ore veins. Frontmatter noted a third printing and a council of authors.
- Aderian snatched a scroll prepared by a dwarven holy man as a protection from evil.
- Ferris was glad to find loose papers bound by a leather strap, each page containing a alchemic recipe. However, the pages crumbled with handling.
- A nearly ruined book titled Demons Down Below was opened to reveal every page defaced by the word lies smeared in blood.
- Finally, rough tree bark enclosed a scroll whose subject was vegetative poisons, authored by the elf Gyffendel. It was part of a series on poison of various origins.
Just as this last scroll was unfurled, they were interrupted by rude taunts barked by semi-humanoid horrors, dogs standing on hind legs. A sulfurous stink accompanied what the party surmised were the dogboys Dacha warned them of. Finding battle difficult in tight quarters, the party shifted about but were unable to encourage the dogs to enter the library. Instead, the dogboys grabbed the halfling Longstream and pulled him into the hallway where they all snapped at him.
Azrak, Ghevont and Aderian rushed out to join the battle. Before long a dogboy let loose a stream of fire that lit up Longstream, already weakened by bites. But the dogboys could not withstand the steady blows from the fierce warriors in the group, and soon their bodies lay still. Ghevont offered magical healing to Longstream, though the magnitude was slight, perhaps owing to the halfling’s lack of faith in the Anointed One.
Moving down the hallway, Azrak brashly burst through another door where stirges flutter up from behind an altar. Tienarth waves his hands and magic sleep dropped most of the beast to the cold floor. The rest were easy to knock from the air.
Azrak was intent on searching and set about a thorough search of the chapel. Ferris and Tienarth returned to the library, but no sooner had they then more dogboys came through the doors in the hallway. Though he heard noise of battle, Tienarth chose to keep looking through books, not mentioning to Ferris who hadn’t even heard the sounds.
Meanwhile, the rest fought the second wave of dogboys. Perhaps by luck or by some incompetence by the foes, the fighters avoided more fire breaths and the dogboys were put down.
Assembled again, the entire party explored further to find a workshop and then a storage room, inside which were crates holding nothing but stale packing straw and a slip indicating a shipment of burial shrouds. Aderian picked up a discarded wrench.
Returning the hallway with murals, they chose another door which opened to a long hallway. Not far past the entrance, a door was open to a small bedroom. The torn canvas of a mattress disgorged straw, some of which stirred as they entered. Black ink stained a trail over a desk surface, narrowly missing a leather-bound book before descending partway down a leg. Shattered glass vials littered the floor beneath a patch of wall bearing a clean patch in a familiar shape.
Azrak realized the shape matched the holy symbol seen on the altar in the chapel. Tienarth opened the book and read a few pages. It was a diary that mentioned tommyknockers, an unfamiliar creature, more frequently heard in the mines followed by many mishaps, mostly involving falling rock. Tienarth recalled the rock that struck Azrak the month before and guessed it described the same phenomena.
Returning to the hallway, they moved in single file down into the darkness until they came to alcoves on opposite sides and an iron door with a bar across it. The alcoves contained identical statues of dwarven holy warriors. Azrak strode past them and was rewarded with several blows. They retreated and the statues did not pursue.
- The game paused here for time and will pick up again at this moment, still 1st of Bear.
- Treasure: Books, scrolls and a map as described above
- 8 Dogboys
- 10 Demonic Stirges
- Tienarth/Tre – avoided combat
- Aderian/Jason – fighting, lead group
- Ferris/Henry – used thief skills
- Longstream/Bob – fighting
- Ghevont/Jeff – offered healing
- Azrak/Nick – fighting
- Virtues: none
- Vices: none