Recap June 29, 2018

The group was hanging out at the Manor House when a courier arrived with a letter for Althea. She read it to herself and then said, “A close friend of mine while I was a captive needs our help. Who is with me? She then read the letter to everyone.

Althea,

I am in need of your help. If you are available please come to the Board Laid Bare in Neverwinter within 10 days. Kastrina

She asked the messenger if she knew how long ago this message was sent. She said I am not the only messenger and I have been looking for you for three days. Everyone agreed to help out and they set off to Neverwinter by way of the portal to the House of a Thousand Faces. The Board Laid Bare is located near the docks. They arrived and Althea saw Kastrina seated at a table with another dwarf. They both stood as the group made their way to the table. Kastrina greated Althea and then the rest of the group. She then asked if anyone wanted anything to drink. This place did not serve alcohol but had a great juice blend that went well with the fresh fish that it served. They made their orders and while they wait for their food, Kastrina introduced them to Oskar who preceded to tell them his story.

“I am a refugee. My home was lost to my clan many centuries ago. I now spend my time looking for our lost cities. But one I hold dear to my heart and hope to find above all others. Steelhand Hall, a dwarven stronghold and mining facility prized by my clan. Its veins of steel and gold made it possible to create weapons, armor and jewelry and folks from all around came there to purchase our wares. Sadly, Steelhand hall was lost to orcs and goblins over 4 centuries ago. In my search for Steelhand Hall I have come across the location of a place called the Knuckle, a smaller dwarven mine that seems to have been lost around the same time as Steelhand Hall was lost. I hoped that information that may be in the Knuckle may give some clues as to Steelhand’s whereabouts.

It was supposed to be straightforward and simple. It was not. Ended up we didn’t get too far.

Kastrina continued: “It’s not that we didn’t try. We came upon these dwarven specters, their bodies encrusted with mineral deposits. Never seen anything like it. And their hits temporarily calcified our skin and zapped our energy. We had to turn back or face certain death. “

Oskar then said “ Can you help us root out the horror in there and perhaps we can find clues to the location of Steelhand Hall? You would be entitled to equal shares of whatever treasure we find. And if once the mine is cleared and the mine is still workable I will call upon my family clan to come and begin operations there again.

Althea spoke for the group that they would help. Kastrina and Oskar thanked them and then said that the group can take a few days to prepare if needed. They wanted to leave as soon as possible but understand being ready this next time they enter the mines.

They made their way back to the Manor House saying they would meet up back before the end of the day. They gathered some healing potions and everyone picked up one Greater Restoration Potion. Those seemed appropriate after hearing about the dwarven specters. Meeting back up with Kastrina and Oskar, Oskar led them out of the city and to the north. It did not take long for them to realize they were traveling faster than they should be. They were walking but they were moving as if they were running. And they were not getting tired. They made camp, had an uneventful night, got up the next morning and traveled a few hours until Oskar stopped them and pointed ahead.

The tall trees fall away as you emerge from the high tree line. Before you is a slope of broken shale, fallen scree, and struggling scrub pines tenaciously clinging to the windswept peak. The mountain’s face juts abruptly outward, forming a knobby, knuckle-like protrusion of stone. A deep crack in the stone holds a pair of large, intricately carved doors. A 10’ wide stairway of long, broad stairs ascends to the doors. Flanking the stairway and doors in the angled rock walls are the dark, narrow apertures of loopholes.

It was obvious to Althea that the steps were made wide for pack animals to bring ore out of the mines. Eridanus cast Fly and went to check out the loopholes and the top of the stone wall. The loopholes were dark and empty and gave a slight echo. They were not sure what they were for, perhaps defense mechanism of some kind. Eridanus saw that there was a roof just below the edge of the stone wall that they could not see from the ground. It was worked about halfway and then it went back to natural rocks. He flew back down and they all went to look at the front doors. That was when Oskar said “We left these doors open as we ran out.” Kastrina said “Yes, we were looking around in the first room and then the specters should up and we ran out and did not shut the doors. We didn’t have time. And they did not follow, which is a good thing.”

The doors bear skillful geometric carvings that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. They all looked to be dwarven runes. The doors were heavy but Althea and Kastrina pushed them open.

Several thick pillars support the ceiling of this chamber, hewn from the mountain stone. Both floor and ceiling are flat and level, worn smooth by dwarven skill and prolonged use. Two closed doors, one large and one smaller, stand in the east and west walls. Scattered piles of aged bones, some quite large, are strewn about the room in haphazard fashion and intermixed with rotted leather scraps. The room is empty. Oskar and Kastrina move slowly ahead looking all around them. They seem nervous about what may happen next. The group spreads out from the entrance with half of them going left, the other going right. They creep along seeing nor hearing anything. Suddenly one of the dwarven specters comes out from one of the pillars and attacks Eridanus. They appeared as calcified dwarves still dressed in the work clothes they wore in life. Veins of gold run through their flesh and speckle their dead, gray eyes. Seven of them appeared in total and they were soon joined by another kind of undead. They have a dwarf wraith Mason told the others. Thalaniel and Behr raced into the room making devastating attacks on the dwarf specters. The undead put up a good fight with only Cesha and Oskar getting the calcified skin and energy zapped from them. Cesha decided to wait to use her Greater Restoration potion in case things got worse later in the mines. They searched the dwarves and found that the dwarves had turned on each other. They looked around the room and finding nothing interesting they went to the western door to check it out. It was slightly ajar and Thalaniel was able to pushed it open enough to let his onyx hound into the room to check it out.

A closed door stands at the north end of the north-south corridor. To the south, a mound of fallen stone slabs partially blocks the passageway. A large cavity is present in the ceiling directly above the pile. Beyond the fallen mass, the corridor ends in another closed door. A raised portcullis protrudes from a narrow gap in the ceiling a short distance in front of the southern door.

His onyx dog came back to him and Cesha sent her sprite, who could fly, to look all about the room. Not seeing anything the group went into the corridor. They saw that the pile of stone slabs and debris probably was the ceiling. Cesha sent her sprite up into the ceiling but did not find another room or anything else. They preceded south and looked at the raised portcullis just in front of another door. The door had two more loopholes similar to the ones they had seen outside but these were closed. They approached the door and found they were not locked. Althea went inside.

The longest wall of this roughly trapezoidal room is pierced by a trio of loopholes. Dry-rotted furnishings—a simple table surrounded by chairs, a bench, and barrels—are spaced about the room, dusty and disused. Empty racks on the west wall once held weapons or other devices, and a pair of iron levers, one raised, the other lowered, protrudes from the wall beside the room’s door. A pair of metal-shuttered loopholes pierces the door’s face allowing defenders to fire into the hall beyond.

Althea went to look at the two levers. She pulled the one that was raised and out in the corridor the portcullis began to drop. She quickly pushed the lever back up and the portcullis went back to into place. She pulled the other lever up and the shutters on the loopholes opened. Finding nothing else, they went to the north door. Finding it also unlocked they open it to find a long corridor going west/east with one door one the south wall, another door on the north wall and a third one also on the north wall but down east at the end of the hall. The chose the door to the west on the south wall to check first.

It was a barracks. Numerous wooden double bunks are arranged in rows along the walls of this large room. Overturned footlockers and shredded, rotting clothes are strewn about the room as if hastily and angrily searched through. A table, its surface stained with old blood, rests near the entrance and a pair of closed doors stands at the back ofthe room. A row of privacy screens fashioned from metal panels divides the room in two. Ancient skeletons, all showing the signs of violent death, lie in random order about the room. There was a total of 40 bunks in the room each with a footlocker. Searching the footlockers they found; five battered but functional lanterns (no oil in their reservoirs), a pair of shovels, seven miner’s picks, multiple pairs of boots (dwarven size), and an ornate flask which Oskar recognized as dwarven in nature. He said if that is what I think it is we are in for a treat. They handed over to him and he opened and said Yes! Wyrm’s Breath brandy! Rare and potent. If we got out of here alive, this will make a fine drink to toast with. As they were leaving Althea spotted something shiny beneath one of the dwarf skeletons. It was a small ruby that had been overlooked.

They left the barracks and went to the next door on the north wall. This chamber was once a mess hall but it is now simply a mess. The long trestle tables and benches where the dwarves once dined are spread helter-skelter about the space and many lie overturned. Broken crockery and flattened eating utensils are scatted about the floor. The walls here gleam in the darkness, as each bears numerous thin, twisting veins of shining gold. Your eyes are drawn away from the blazing gold, however, by a tremendous and sickeningly pale grub-like thing that slithers amongst the furniture, its eyeless face sinuously waving in the dark.

The group stayed at the door and engaged the odd creature. Althea fired her bow at it while Mason cast Spiritual Weapon and Eridanus cast Hold Person. Cesha cast Eldritch Blast. Mason noticed that this creature had dwarf qualities but he could not place a finger on exactly how. Thalaniel rushed into the room and attacked with his vorpal sword adding a staggering smites to his attacks. Behr hit with her great axe. The creature never took a swing before it was defeated. There was curtained off area to the south which held a small kitchen, an oven, cabinets containing more crockery and mold, and a 2 1/2 ft wide well. They found six rusty knives that could be used as daggers if need be.

They left the room and went on down the hall to the last door. This small room contains a bed, a clothing trunk, and an open wardrobe, all of which bear signs of skillful construction by dwarven hands. The bed and wardrobe have been stripped of their contents and the floor is covered with torn bedding and clothing. The trunk is closed and appears untouched.

Thalaniel approached the trunk and found it locked. Using Mage Hand he attempted to pick the look and broke his lockpick set (is this the fourth or fifth time?). Mason mended them and this time Thalaniel was successful. He cast Detect Magic and the chest radiated conjuration magic. Nothing happened so looked into the chest. The chest contained work clothes, a grooming kit, a beard comb, a large leather-bound ledger, a single key on a silver chain and a wooden box. Thalaniel picked up the box and found it was locked. He tried to pick it but it would not unlock. Eridanus pointed out the key and using it Thalaniel opened the wooden box. Inside he found three potions of healing and two electric blue potions. Using detect magic Thalaniel saw they were magical but he could not figure out what they were. Eridanus said I can Identify them after I take a long rest. Thalaniel looked into the chest again to see if he had missed anything. That was when he and everyone else saw a large stone hand come out the chest and pull itself out of the chest into the room. It was an earth elemental and a big one at that. And it came swinging hard. Thalaniel took the brunt of its attacks. Again the group laid into the creature. Althea firing her bow and using her short sword with the elemental got too close, Behr swing her great axe taking out chunks of rock, Cesha casting Eldritch blast, Mason swinging Mason’s Mace at it, and Thalaniel swinginh his sword. The elemental soon fell. Thalaniel drank the potions of healing and then the group went back to the first room to investigate the double doors to the east.

They found the doors locked. After picking them they found another corridor. Beyond the locked door is a corridor running north-south. To the north are three doors: one at the end of the passage and two set in the east and west walls. Looking south you see the corridor ends in a fourth door bearing a pair of loopholes in its face. A raised portcullis protrudes from the ceiling a short distance in front of the door. The pale figure of a dwarf, its body encrusted with mineral deposits, stands near the southern door.

Althea, Thalaniel and Eridanus moved into the hall and began to move to the south. The pale dwarf moved to the south and passed through the stone door at the end of the hall. The group slowly moved down the hall. Mason saw that there was a trap in the ceiling that much have been similar to the one in the corridor on the other side of the first room of the mines. They all began to search for a mechanism to release the trap. Not seeing anything they were not sure what to do. Althea made a run for the southern doors. They ceiling fella around her but she made it past it all. The portcullis began to drop but she tumbled under it and found herself standing in front of the southern door. Finding it unlocked she opened the door.