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Chapter 1 - The First Day of Pelor's Rest


Butchern

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The barrels and crates were, indeed, empty of anything except debris and mold. They likely had been used to hold supplies used in the operation of the mine.

With their lights, the caravaners could see that the mine went far deeper into the earth. The paths to the south and to the east were little more than narrow ledges, about five feet wide (from what they could see), that followed the wall of the cavern. From the platform they could not see how large the cavern was.

Over the sides of the ledges, the paths fell off into the darkness of the deeper mine. The caravaners could see more ledges and wooden platforms below them. Presumably, if they followed the ledges they would find the means by which the dwarves descended deeper in the mine.

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On 2/4/2024 at 9:29 AM, matt_s said:

Celeg steps onto the platform. He insisted on being in the first group but would not demand in being the only person to make the descent. That would be more chauvinism than honor he thought.

With an anxious sigh, he put a gloved hand on the lever embossed with dwarven lettering. Probably a hymn to the Dwarven Gods of Crafts and Mining, but possibly instructions that he was not able to read. Celeg could go either way on that account.

Here's to it, he said once any of his companions who wanted to make the trip were gathered, and then pulled the lever.

Seresse steps onto the platform with a thoughtful expression. She musters her best smile for the others but in the heavy shadows, her eyes glow unnaturally and cast her in a fell light. She leans precariously over the railing as the platform descends, wondering just how far it is to the bottom.

6 hours ago, Butchern said:

The barrels and crates were, indeed, empty of anything except debris and mold. They likely had been used to hold supplies used in the operation of the mine.

With their lights, the caravaners could see that the mine went far deeper into the earth. The paths to the south and to the east were little more than narrow ledges, about five feet wide (from what they could see), that followed the wall of the cavern. From the platform they could not see how large the cavern was.

Over the sides of the ledges, the paths fell off into the darkness of the deeper mine. The caravaners could see more ledges and wooden platforms below them. Presumably, if they followed the ledges they would find the means by which the dwarves descended deeper in the mine.

"I think only a dwarf could be happy here," the Elf says, frowning. "Though I find the workmanship impresses—even after all this time, their workings are stubborn as their designers."

Seresse ventures onto the eastward path, as the group has decided. While she brandishes her sword, she shows little concern for her safety.

"Watch your step," she says over her shoulder. "I think the drop would be unpleasant."

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10 hours ago, Blue Firebird said:

"I think the drop would be unpleasant."

Celeg grimaced. Dry elven humor for you...

Right behind you. And I don't know, I think there are many folks happy to explore the old and deep places and to provide for themselves and their families. But dwarves certainly are more at home here than most.

Step after step he followed her, stepping softly while keeping close to the wall and elbow running against it, the texture almost scraping against his skin.

Curiously he looked over the ledge with torch held out. The flickering orange light did not go far, but he squinted maybe out of stubborness to see what they revealed...

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Gert produced a large medallion from her pack.

"Here it is. I got this in Mericab. It isn't magical. It's alchemical."

She twisted the small knob in the middle of the medallion and then shook it hard. The medallion started glowing brightly. She hooked the medallion to the front of her blouse and fell in behind Celeg.

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The ledge followed the wall of the cavern. It curved around the center pit of the mine ever-so-slightly; it was a very large cavern. The path also began to gently slope downward. Periodically, meticulously carved arches appeared in the walls of the cavern. Long tunnels extended into the earth through these arches, presumably branch mines for whatever the dwarves were mining for.

Once the heroes had reached what they assumed must be the opposite side of the cavern from where they descended, a stone arch opened in the cavern wall, but beyond it wasn't a branch mine; it was a stone stairwell. The stairwell wound its way down to the level below. That ledge stretched out in both directions as the ledge above did. There were more branch mines in the cavern walls, and more stairwells going further down.

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"I'll bring up the rear and keep us on track," Gert said.

Once again, she fished around in her pack and produced a small jar of white goo. "It's a dye. It's easy to see in the dark, and it doesn't come off easily." She held up her right index finger. It was stained white. "Even when you scrub it."

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Bravery and prudence were virtues that ought to be engaged in equal measure. And knowing exactly how to get out of whatever cavern they were delving into was something that nagged at Celeg's mind.

Of course Gert had come prepared. Owed her a drink for that, although she might not be partaking for some time after her experience the other night.

Handy stuff, let's mark where we pass so we are certain of our path in this place. Easy to get lost without the horizon to go by, and if we have to leave in a hurry, we'd better be able to actually do so.

Let's just head deeper into this place, why not? The strangest things ought to be furthest and deepest from the entrance. A certain imprecise logic to it.

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It took several hours of carefully descending before the caravaners found anything other than more ledges, more dead ends, more stairwells, and more branch mines. The cavern grew wider and wider as they descended, though the paths did not grow commensurately wider. If anything they grew more narrow. But down they went with Seresse watching in the darkness, and Gert marking their trail as Celeg devised. Very quickly, the sloping roof of ledges above them completely blocked sight of the entrance to the mine and the faint daylight it provided, and they were in total darkness.

At about the two-hour mark, the caravaners found increased signs of activity near one of the branch mines just before they reached the next set of stone stairs. Several barrels were smashed and strewn about the ledge. The caravaners decided to poke around down the branch mine, just to be sure, and they found that the whole tunnel has been boarded up with hard, iron-banded boards about 100' down the branch.

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Gert reached behind her and pulled the pry bar off the side of her pack. She held it up.

"It might be a bad idea to open up what the dwarves tried so hard to close off. But I'm full of bad ideas lately."

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Celeg stifled a chuckle at this last comment. Poorly.

We wanted to learn about this place. And seems like that's the best way to do it. We can listen at the door first, then open up a small hole and take a peek - that will also tell us if the air is foul I reckon. But the way I see things that door is indeed coming down although perhaps it will be stubborn about it for although the wood may have aged dwarven handiwork even hasty handiwork ages well.

Celeg lights a second torch (two lights sources between him and Gert) and briefly checks to see if there is any blood stains or the like about. Mostly trash still, I'll wager but then again if it be a wager we have an awful lot up for stakes....

Once we're sure things are in order, I can give you a hand with the crowbar. An extra set of hands to brace or work the crowbar comes in useful I figure.

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Gert found a place in the wall of boards that had the largest gap between iron bands—which was still only about the width of a blade; the dwarves, even in a hurry, were fine craftsmen—and hammered in the blade end of the crowbar. This allowed them to push the boards apart enough to peer though, have a listen, and get a whiff of the air beyond.

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There was a tiny gap to see through after Gert's endeavours. Celeg knelt upon armored knees and then strained his eyes and ears to look and listen at the gap. Then he briefly concentrated on the smell of the air beyond. Sometimes whether the air was fresh or foul or something stranger besides told you much that the straining of the other senses deprived you of. Many a seasoned campaigner he had seen sniff a lump of meat or bread and then pronounce with confidence absolute whether it was weal or woe to eat.

Give me a moment to get a sense of what lies beyond, then likelier than not we can continue tearing the door down.

 

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Seresse takes up her sword and considers whether or not it might tear through the boards—or whatever dangers lie beyond. "Calma," she whispers, and the blade glows softly with a silvery-blue light. While it will not light the way as would a torch, to Seresse it is still a comfort down here in the deep dark. More and more, this reminds her of a situation that left her life forever changed...or ended, depending on how one sees it. She chose sacrifice, rather than accept loss. Not a choice she would have put upon these brave souls, who simply want to help.

"Celeg. I see well in the dark. Please allow me to guide you. I would feel better if we meet with danger that danger meets first with my sword-point."

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Though the sizeable separation of the boards, Celeg could see nothing that would be the cause of immediate danger. The air smelled stale and damp, not unlike the rest of the mine. But the air beyond the wall was warm, much warmer than the air out in the mine. The change in temperature made the boards damp. Celeg could see his breath. He heard nothing.

When the caravaners pressed their eyes to the gap, the could see a long tunnel that was mostly ensconced in darkness, but there was a faint glow illuminating the end of the tunnel where it turned to the right out of sight.

It didn't take the caravaners long to pry loose two of the boards, just enough to squeeze easily through and into the tunnel.

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Softly Celeg uttered a prayer to Pelor as the second board clattered to the floor, his mailed fingers silently drumming against the amulet he wore at his breast in a languid tattoo. The condensed fog of his breathing clouded his eyes for a moment as it wafted about his cheeks. The warmth seemed strange for although warmth in the bowels of the earth was no strange thing to have it arise all of a sudden perhaps was strange. His prayer finished and courage steeled as much as it could be steeled in this place abandoned even by those who made their dwellings in the deep places of the Gods' creation Celeg held the torch in one hand and his sword in the other. He stepped through the boards.

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