The Troupe has descended into the Nashkel Mines and discovered that kobolds have been poisoning the ore. Beneath the mines they met a sentient ooze wanting to stop the poisons harming its kin. Together, they enter the tunnels built by the kobolds under the iron mine.
25 Kythorn 1368
The ooze and I talk as we descend into the kobold caves.
Aegon: Well, we’re killing a lot of kobolds here. I was wondering: does it bother you that we are thereby eliminating the slimes’ primary source of food?
Mur’Neth: Bother? Sllllttttthhhhhh… Fewer kobolds mean more of our other vertebrates to feed upon. The food chain may squirm and wriggle below but the blessed kindred remain secure at the top.
Aegon: By “other vertebrates”, you mean human miners?
Mur’Neth: In this instance, yes.
Aegon: Can you give me a good reason why I should permit your species to prey upon mine?
Mur’Neth: Your fleshling kind are no less predatory toward the miners than we are! You consume their labour for your precious iron… We consume their flesh. It does not seem a large difference in attitude.
Aegon: Of course, they can’t produce iron if *you* have eaten them, now, can they?
Mur’Neth: No, that is true…
But since at present they produce neither iron nor sustenance, I suggest we put aside our theoretical differences in pursuit of a practical solution to the immediate difficulty.
His suggestion becomes a reality when we see more kobolds running down the tunnels.
We kill it and continue down the tunnel. We come across a large cavern with an underground lake. A cavern filled with kobolds, of course.
Emily drinks a Potion of Healing before charging the kobolds. Finch and I take hits from their arrows.
Cat joins Emily’s charge. The kobolds attempt to stay at range.
Cat kills one of the commandos. That’s less fire to deal with.
Now they are on the run, it is easy for us to finish them off.
Mur’Neth and I continue our conversation while Emily loots their corpses.
Aegon: Why do you think it would be Ghuanadaur?
Mur’Neth: Blessed Ghuanaduar, That Which Lurks, The Elder Eye! He is everywhere, though often his servants are unseen by others. He even created my people as his servants – is that not evidence enough of His majesty?
Aegon: Well, I don’t really feel special.
Mur’Neth: Although you are merely an elf and not a blessed creation such as I, I can tell you are marked for greatness… And although you may not follow Ghaunaduar yet I am sure I can enlighten you to his teachings.
Aegon: I can understand being in service of a deity, but why Ghuanaduar? He may have created you, but surely you could find another to worship? What about free will?
Mur’Neth: It is an honour and a privilege to carry out the will of Guanaduar! We were created by Him and there is no greater glory than to fulfil His plans. And when we die, we can rejoin Him in the Abyss… I suppose as an elf you wouldn’t understand, Aegon, but I do pity you lesser creatures.
Aegon: You’re right, I suppose I don’t understand. Enough of this, for now at least.
I wonder if the only reason I commit to Corellon is because he created us. Does he see us as his servants the same as Ghaunaduar? Ah, these are not the thoughts a Feywarden should have. I shake them off and look to our surroundings.
Inside this cave is a large rock that almost feels artificial. A tunnel has been carved into it, presumably by the kobolds. The lake in this cave acts as a natural moat. This is a defensive structure – the kobolds are protecting something inside it.
Before we venture into the tunnel, we walk around the rock to get an idea of it’s size. There are more ghouls guarding the structure. I’m starting to think another necromancer is waiting in the darkness for us. Another mad mage is all we need.
Rose destroys the ghoul. Its body is infested with maggots and smells like something beyond undeath. Mur’Neth insists we keep it as food, so we hide the smell of it in our Bag of Holding. Hopefully the fould odour won’t spread to everything else we have in there.
There is nothing else around the rock, so we proceed inside. Here we find kobolds, but they don’t attack us right away. I don’t know what’s worse, when they are pelting us with arrows, or when they just stare at us silently like this.
Well, they aren’t all peaceful, unfortunately.
Emily and the others engage the kobold, while I am spotted by a half-orc that is apparently living down here.
Aegon: Uh… Yes… fool, Tazok is most displeased with thee! Reveal your treachery and mayhaps he will spare you!
Mulahey: Tazok is unfair. I have no desire to cheat him, or thee! My letters will show, they are in that chest. Take them, take them and Tazok will see!
The rest of the troupe engages kobold archers while we talk. Rose is hurt by an Arrow of Fire. It’s a good job we bought those Potions of Healing.
Cat leaps onto the second kobold and tears its throat apart.
The other kobolds seem to ignore us, but they are guarding someone, an elf – another of my kin! Their commandos don’t like us getting too close to him.
They give us some trouble. It’s hard to fight within the confines of these small caves. The kobolds live down here, so are used to the shadows and structure of the cave. That gives them an edge.
We take care of the kobolds, and are able to approach the elf.
Emily: How did you come to be trapped in such an inhospitable place?
Xan: Alas, I was sent to investigate the strange goings-on about this area and I landed caged for seemingly hopeless weeks on end. I have not seen the sun almost as long as I have not seen my home.
Emily: Certainly you are welcome to join with me. Another pair of hands can only help, especially when they wield powerful magic.
Xan: I thank you. However ineffective our actions be, I shall not rest until I have made payment to you. If you have searched through Mulahey’s treasure, you may have found a sword among his documents. The sword is a moonblade, and it is my most valued possession.
Another elf joins our party.
He is an Enchanter, able to manipulate the minds of others.
He is able to Charm Person, create a Color Spray, Identify magical items, grant Protection from Evil, and put enemies to Sleep.
He can also provide Luck to his allies.
He can create Mirror Images of himself.
He can also focus his magic using a Power Word to put a single opponent into a deep slumber.
As he has been a captive for so long he has nothing on him of any use. We look through the Bag of Holding. He takes an Adventurer’s Robe, Duragons Power, and and enchanted short bow. He loads his bow with Arrows of Fire that we have gathered from the commandos.
Xan doesn’t seem too thrilled at his newfound freedom. Still, Emily tries to put a smile on the enchanter’s face.
Xan: A world that we will one day no longer see. Everything is temporary, everything will cycle from joy to tragedy.
Emily: You really know how to get someone down, don’t you?
Xan: I am only speaking an age old truth, even if it is hard to hear.
Emily: I think I’m going to step where the pastures are a little greener, then, further back from you.
We return to Mulahey’s chamber. I’m not sure how long my ruse will hold now that we have released Xan. There is a dwarven corpse in his chambers. I notice a letter hanging from its belt.
Another organisation that wishes to work with the half-orc? They will be worth investigating later. I stuff the scroll into Bartleby’s Letter Case.
I walk over to the chest and lift the lid. There is no note inside. Instead I find two Potions of Healing and a Potion of Absorption.
I also find two blades. The first is a short sword with a simple enchantment.
The other is Xan’s Moonblade. He grabs it before Mulahey can see.
There is also some enchanted splint mail in the chest.
I find some scrolls at the bottom of the chest, Mage Armour, Identify, Obscuring Mist, and True Strike among them. There is also scroll of Charm Person.
A scroll of Web.
And a scroll that can be used to summon a storm of snowballs.
I am about to ask the half-orc where the letters are, when he decides to take the element of surprise.
Xan: Saying “Have I not warned you?” is such a meager consolation, when one faces death.
Mulahey: Take what consolation you can. You won’t enjoy it long.
Emily drinks an Oil of Speed before drawing Thorgensons Mace.
Mur’Neth shifts his form to his natural state and starts to slide toward Mulahey.
Finch Blesses our party.
Mulahey attempts to Hold Emily, but her elven heritage helps her to resist.
Xan summons a Web on the other side of the cave dwelling where skeletons and kobolds are streaming in. Rose summons some gibberlings within the web to help keep Mulahey’s minions busy.
I attempt to Silence Mulahey so he can’t rely on Cyric any longer.
His minions fall quiet, but the half-orc resists my magic.
I Curse Mulahey and his minions. Emily is slowed by Xan’s web and tries to move out of its reach.
I launch a Chromatic Orb at Mulahey. It interrupts his spell.
He retreats into Xan’s Web and is held in place.
Mur’Neth, not wanting to follow him into the web, morphs back into human form and raises his crossbow.
I interrupt another of Mulahey’s spells with another Orb.
Rose starts firing magical bolts from her crossbow as I keep casting Chromatic Orbs at him.
Finch calls on Deneir to compel the skeletons to flee.
Mulahey, held by the Web again, is hit by my Magic Missiles.
Emily launches some poisonous arrows at Mulahey, and one of them pierces his armour.
With poison in his veins, the half-orc realises he is going to die. He tries to surrender.
Rose: I say we kill him, before he can backstab us!
Xan: It is a trap… mark my words, the fiend is luring us into some devious trap…
Aegon: As well you should! Tell us what has been happening here, and you may yet leave alive!
Mulahey: I thank thee for thy mercy! There in the chest are all my letters. Take them and leave me be. I will bother you no more.
Perhaps Rose and Xan are right to be cautious. I call Corellon’s Doom on Mulahey, just in case.
He is not happy about this.
I hit him in the skull with a sling bullet and he falls to the ground.
We have his minions to take care of now. I summon some minions of my own to help.
Finch continues to Turn the skeletons so we can focus on the kobolds.
With the kobolds gone, we turn to the skeletons.
They are easy to dispatch. After the last skeleton crumbles, the formerly captive elf takes some time to muse on the safety of his home.
Aegon: You are right. It is an illusion. No place is secure, Xan. I grew up in the library locked away from the world, and even there the assassin found me. Castle walls, the blades of loyal soldiers, the mighty protection spells – all that can be overcome if someone wants to take you down.
Xan: You are a wise person for someone so young and adventurous. I would consider you a sensible person, even, if only you tried harder to avoid endangering our lives unnecessarily. Many of those quests you engage in are but a gate to the afterlife.
Aegon: Do not take me for a distraught roamer of the wilds, Xan. Yes, I shoot blindly sometimes, or take pity on someone who needs help, but I am focused on my main task. I am doing what I can to find the one who sent assassins after me.
Xan: Your efforts are admirable, if vain. He is surely a powerful man, and persistent.
He speaks as if he knows me, yet we have only just met. I haven’t met many elves in the confines of the Keep. Are they all this arrogant?
We look around at the scene. Mulahey’s dwelling is now soaked in the blood of his kobold minions. He mentioned a note, but it wasn’t in the chest where he said it would be. Emily checks his corpse. Sure enough, we find a note from someone named “Tazok”.
Are they… the bandits really are organised? I was right? And they are involved with this half-human? This isn’t just sabotaging a mine. This is sabotaging a whole industry.
Emily finds another note from Tazok. It looks like murdering the miners wasn’t part of the plan.
Had they not started doing that, Berrun Ghastkill may not have sent us down here to investigate. They may have just assumed that the “poison” was some kind of natural problem with the ore here.
He is wearing chain mail and a morning star hangs from his belt. He used his enchanted mace when fighting with us.
He also carries some gauntlets, but we can’t tell what they do. I use the scroll of Identify we found in Mulahey’s chest to learn they are Gauntlets of the Faithful Warrior. I am already wearing Bracers of Defense, so Finch puts the Gauntlets on.
Hanging from his neck we find his holy symbol, bearing the emblem of Cyric, the Prince of Lies.
While Emily and I are studying the notes, Finch and Xan talk about his time in his cell.
Xan: It was bound to happen. The only surprise was that I escaped before I wasted into a pile of bones and dusty rags.
Finch: But surely being captured was a terrible disappointment? I know that I would feel just awful if I failed my mission so thoroughly. Just awful!
Xan: Life is but a failure to die. Your chance will come soon enough.
Finch: Oh, dear!
That’s not very tactful of you Finch. Xan seems depressed enough already.
We start to loot the remaining bodies. We find a couple more of Mulahey’s kobolds hiding around the corner.
And one more skeleton no longer being Turned by Finch.
We lay them down. Permanently.
The cave is clear, and we now know what was causing the problems in the mines. We also know that those behind it are somehow connected to the bandits plaguing the Trade Way. It’s time to return to Nashkel and tell Berrun Ghastkill of the things we have found.