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Chapter 4: Akara's People

07/16/2003 12/09/1373 DR - 12/20/1373 DR

The group spent another snowy week in Silverymoon, taking care of personal business, studying, and shopping.  On the evening of 12 Nightal, each member of the party received a invitation to an audience with Lady Alustrial the next morning.

They arrived for the audience, and were shown in with minimal waiting. Lady Alustrial greeted the group, thanked them for coming on such short notice, and then stated that she had a mission for them to undertake.

A few days ago, a ranger friend of hers found a lone refugee from one of the mines in the Nether Mountains in the region south of Khelb.  He was suffering from exposure, and needed immediate attention.  Her friend sheltered the refugee in one of the nearby caves, and tended his injuries. Eventually, he brought the refugee to Silverymoon, knowing that Alustriel would be more accepting of the refugee than the town of Khelb.

It seems that refugee's people had been attacked and enslaved by marauders.  The refugee, named Akara, had escaped and was trying to find help.  Unfortunately, her friend had urgent business in Mythral Hall and could not take on the mission himself.  Alustriel promised her friend that there were several adventuring parties wintering in Silverymoon who could handle the situation, and that she would employ one of them.  The party happened to be one of the few groups currently in Silverymoon, and given their recent accomplishments were contacted first.

Since his arrival in Silverymoon, Akara has been treated by clerics of Ilmater and brought back to health.  Alustriel has also questioned him extensively about what happened at the mine.  We know that Akara's people are in fact dwarves.  All that she could find out about the attackers was that they were "lizards."  Akara's escape was more his being thrown into a mountain stream near the mine entrance and left for dead.  Unfortunately, he was not able to give the precise location of the mine.  She believes that she has gotten all of the information that Akara has to give, and that questioning him further would serve no useful purpose.

Alustriel believes that the party should take Akara along with them as that would give them the best chance of finding the mine.  Perhaps when they got close enough to the mine, he would start recognizing landmarks.  Her friend was able to describe in detail where he found Akara, and he does not believe that the mine could not be more than a few days away.

At this point, Lady Alustriel mentioned that Akara is rather unusual and not dwarven.  Her friend who found Akara was not bothered by it as he, of all people, knows to look beyond a person's race.  That is why he brought Akara to her rather than seeking aid in Khelb as he knew that she would do likewise.  Alustriel hoped that the party would be able to do the same. Party members then asked Akara's race and they were told: kobold.

The Lady of Silverymoon then had Akara brought out to meet the party. When Akara came out and introduced to the party, he immediately showed the highest respect for Kartoffl.  He was shocked that Kartoffl was not the leader of the party.  Akara identified himself as a worshipper of Moradin, having been raised in the faith by his people.

The group then spent a few minutes getting to know Akara.  Since he spoke only dwarven and draconic, preferring to speak dwarven, Kartoffl, Daria, and Dominique did most of the conversing.

Alustriel offered the party provisions for 2 weeks, and checked if they had mounts.  She then suggested that the party start their search by traveling to Khelb; they should be able to find more information about the mine there.

She could not promise the party rewards at this point.  However, she was certain that the dwarven miners would reward her in some fashion.  As the party was leaving, she did mention that she would look in further rewards for the group.

While the rest of the party were preparing to leave for Khelb, Daria sought out Dominique's brother, Treymayne, at Helmer's Wall.  She was able to locate him with minimal effort as if he was trying to be found.  He greeted Daria warmly (as he would most attractive women), and invited her to have a drink with him.  She questioned him about  Lady Alustriel's ranger friend and to see if he knew anything about the captured mine.

Treymayne laughed when Daria asked about Alustriel's friend and simply said that he was the only person refused entry into Silverymoon the first time he visited the city.  When Daria could not place him, he tactfully changed the subject.

Daria then asked him about the mine and the plight of the dwarven miners.  Treymayne was typically non-committal.  He did, however, comment that "lizards" could mean several humanoids, none of which are native to the Silver Marches.  When Daria pressed him further, he suggested the she talk to Dominique about it; she SHOULD be able to give Daria more information. With a flirtatious good-bye, Daria rejoined the rest of her party.

Daria returned to the group, and asked Dominique about lizards.  She confirmed that the only humanoid "lizards" native to the Silver Marches were kobolds and Akara would surely have recognized his own race.  Since the mine is obviously well away from the ocean, it is unlikely that the invaders are lizardmen.  The more likely race would be troglodytes and the most likely place of origin for these would be the Underdark.

The party traveled for 2 days arriving in Khelb on 15 Nightal. Dominique and Kartoffl arranged for 3 rooms for the group.  Kartoffl roomed with Akara; Yassel refused to room with him as he still did not trust him. Akara was advised to remain silent while in town and stay heavily cloaked so as not to alert the citizens to his presence.

At the local tavern, they questioned the owner and some of the town's citizens about the local mines.  To their dismay, no one seemed to know much of anything about them, other than the dwarves came to town once in a while with ore.  The craftsmen that they dealt with seemed to be wintering in Silverymoon of all places.  Finally after talking with several town watchmen and Knights in Silver stationed there, the group were able to locate three mines in the area with only one of them being near where Akara was found. They even received rough directions on how to get there.

While in Khelb, the group bought snowshoes and spent part of the next morning practicing with them.  After a brief search, they were able to find a trail, leading to the south.  Leaving their mounts in town, they walked out of town.

Around mid-afternoon of that day, (16 Nightal) the party came to a slanting field of snow along the trail they were following.  Thistle identified it as an avalanche risk, so Kartoffl used his sonic blast spell to set it off.  The group was then able to pass safely through the area.

A few hours later, Felina, Dominque's familiar, came back quickly from a routine surveillance flight.  She had spotted several animals moving towards the party.  These turned out to be winter wolves, and after several rounds of combat the wolves were defeated.  Akara, for his part, was fairly passive in the battle, prefering to attack with his sling rather than engaging with his dagger.

The party found a small uninhabited cave in which they could spend the evening.  Yassel and Thistle took meat from the wolves, so the party had fresh meat that evening.

The next day (17 Nightal), the party once more came across a field of snow that was also an avalanche risk.  Thistle led the group up and around the field.  Above the field, he intentionally triggered the avalanche, so the party was certain to pass safely.  Returning to their original trail, Akara began to recognize some of the surroundings, and directed the group as to which direction to travel.  The party continued to travel for 2 more days without incident.

Finally on 20 Nightal, the party spotted Akara's mine on the other side of a 30 foot deep gorge.  The main entrance to the mine consists of a thick, wooden wall in which has been set a pair of large doors.  The bridge spanning the gorge had been intentionally destroyed, leaving fragments on both sides of the gorge.  A swift and dangerous river ran at the bottom of the gorge.

Looking down at the river, Thistle and Yassel both noticed a peculiar eddy in the water below the mine entrance.  Thistle was able to spot what looked like a grating down at water level.  Yassel climbed across the gorge and then down to the spot.  He confirmed that there was a grating there.

Akara stated that it led into a network of caves below the mine level and that the two connected, so the group decided to enter through the grate. Thistle used pieces of the ruined bridge to construct a make-shift bridge near water level on which the rest of the party could cross.

Yassel opened the lock, and opened the grate after not finding it trapped.  He then entered a passage carved out of the rock.  It led in about 10 feet before a stone staircase rose from the water.
08/06/2003 12/20/1373 DR

The party followed Yassel into the caves.  They walked up the stairs and into a natural cavern.  Natural cave formations clutter the ceiling and floor and a thin sheen of water glistens on every surface.  The only exit, aside from the one that the party entered, was a natural chimney descending into the darkness.  The rotten remains of a large winch are still in place over the mineshaft.

Yassel,closely followed by Kartoffl, walked over to the chimney. Kartoffl looked down into the darkness, and saw that the tunnel only went
down 10 ft.  Below that, there was a 20 ft.-high chamber, making the total drop 30 ft.

Kartoffl was able to find a  spot to safely attach a rope, and Thistle knotted the rope to make the group climbed down easier.  The descent was without incident, except for Daria's turn.  She slipped off the knotted rope, missed catching the ledge, and fell the 30 ft.  Thistle gallantly caught her, saving her from the full effects of the fall and taking some of the impact on himself.

Once in the lower chamber, Kartoffl noticed several wet lumps at the edge of his vision.  As the party advanced to get a better look, a beetle came out of another chamber and walked towards the lumps, which turned out to be stripped beetle corpse.  Thistle shot the beetle with an arrow.  A battle ensued with more beetles joining the fray.  Eventually a total of four bombardier beetles were dispatched.

Yassel then explored the chamber from which the beetles entered.  This chamber was their nest.  It contained nothing more than a few dead kobolds that were being used to incubate beetle eggs. Finding nothing more of interest, the party destroyed the eggs and continued on.

The group next came to a flooded cavern about 20 ft. across; Kartoffl noted that the water was about 15 ft. deep.  Two boats made from beetle shells rested on the far shore.  Dominique used her unseen servant spell to drag the boats across.  After the group determined that several of them were too heavy to safely sail in one boat, Thistle rigged the two boats together. Yassel sailed across bringing a rope, and attached it to the other side. The rest of the party crossed in the boats using that line for propulsion.

When Yassel reached the next room, he saw some signs of movement, receding down the corridor.  The party did not chase immediately as the room showed signs of mining.  Kartoffl, however, saw that the mining was not recent or extensive, so the group continued on.

The passage led to a natural cave with plenty of stalagmites and stalactites, and a large boulder at the far end.  Yassel spotted several
kobolds hiding behind stalagmites.  After some encouragement, Akara came forward to speak to the kobolds.  Their answer was a barrage of arrows.

The battle was cut short by a stinking cloud by Dominique followed by a sound burst by Kartoffl.  That immobilized most of the kobolds, although a couple escaped.  Dominique used her unseen servant to remove their weapons with help from several other party members.  Yassel continued to shoot Kobolds even after they were disabled until Thistle stood in front of him. Likewise, Eltairin continued to dispatch kobolds until Daria got in his face.

Daria investigated a rectangular pit in the side of the chamber.  It turned out to be a refuse pit for the kobolds, producing a stench that
rivaled Dominique's stinking cloud.  Fortunately, she was not overcome by the odor.

The surviving kobolds were bound and given a stern lecture from Dominique with plenty of intimidation from the rest of the party.  They were then released without possessions to warn the rest of the tribe not to tangle with the party.

Thistle, Eltairin, Kartoffl and Yassel, with some effort, removed the boulder from the far passage.  They traveled down the tunnel, entering the kobold tribal chamber.  A lone kobold, obviously a shaman of some sort, dared advance to the party.  Dominique spoke to the kobold, explaining that the party was not their enemy but trying to free the caves from invaders. The kobolds wisely let the party pass through their chamber, showing them  the correct passage to continue their journey.

The party then traveled down until the tunnel ended in a passage sloping upwards at a 45 degree angle for a vertical distance of 30 ft.  A section of the tunnel was dug out a few feet below tunnel level, containing skeletons of dead kobolds.  A dwarven-built platform stood at the top of the slope.

The group cautiously explored this section.  Felina flew up and saw that beyond there was another flooded chamber.  The water was 12 ft. lower than the platform, and was 5 ft. deep.  Yassel then climbed up the slope and spider climbed on the ceiling of the chamber.  He saw stone handholds going from the platform to water level.  Beyond the chamber, a flooded passage continued into the darkness.

Yassel also spotted a sunken boat, larger than the shell boats, at the far end of the chamber.  He managed to attach a grappling hook to it, so that it could be pulled out.
08/27/2003 12/20/1373 DR - 12/21/1373 DR

The party began working on the task of climbing the slope.  Yassel dropped down to the platform and secured a rope to the supports.  He then tossed it down the slope to the rest of the party.  Daria prepared a harness to aid in climbing and attached it to the rope.  She and Eltairin used the harness to climb up to the platform while the rest of the party stayed below.

Eltairin, Daria, and Yassel then set about rescuing the sunken boat. Daria borrowed Dominique's quarterstaff, and walked out to the boat after falling twice on the way.  When Daria could not lift the boat herself, Daria secured a rope to the boat, and Eltairin walked out using it for stability. Together, Eltairin and Daria managed to refloat the boat.  Daria then used her waterskin as a plug for the hole.  They guided the boat back to the platform with Yassel pulling on the rope.  Once the boat was recovered, they tipped it sideways and tied it off.

The rest of the party used the harness to climb up the slope to the platform.  They spent the night there as it was already late in the day.  In
the morning, Dominique used a mending spell to patch the hole in the boat. Eltairin gathered several kobold pelvis bones to use as paddles.

The party boarded the boat, and paddled across the cavern until the arrived at the exit passage.  Since the passage was only a few inches deep, they got out and walked; Thistle dragged the boat along.

The party continued through the flooded caves.  The next cavern was also only a few inches deep.  They followed the right-hand wall.  Daria walked out in front, using Dominique's quarterstaff to probe the water, checking the depth before walking.

The third cavern was a foot deep.  The party allowed Akara to ride in the boat, much to Yassel's distress. In return, he regaled the party with dwarven songs praising Moradin.  Following the right hand wall once again, they crossed the cave.  Felina scouted ahead.  Daria discovered a deep trench running, along that wall all the way to the exiting passage.  The party skirted the trench until the had to board the boat again upon leaving the cavern.

The party paddled into the next deep cavern.  Felina spotted land on the left side, so the group switched to the left hand wall as a guide. They soon discovered that the bottom sloped upwards toward the dry portion of the cave. The party got out of the boat and walked along the wall towards the land.

Suddenly out of the darkness, came a javelin barely missing Daria. Somebody was on the shored attacking them.  They moved forward to find a lone troglodyte waiting for them.  A battle ensued with the troglodyte eventually being defeated.

They left their boat on dry land, and began to explore the cave.  They came to a wooden dock, on dry land, with three more boats, identical to the one they had patched, tied to the dock.  Above the dock, a ladder rose up through a hole in the ceiling ending in a hatch.  Akara told the that this would lead up into the dwarven mines.

Yassel climbed up the ladder and opened the hatch to find himself in the middle of a 30 ft square chamber with a large winch above him.  The entire party climbed up, and found a 10 ft corridor outside of the chamber.  Two leather tubes, a foot in diameter, ran along the corridor as far as they could see.

Before they could leave the room, a troglodyte and two kobolds came into view and attacked.  Kartoffl heard dwarven voices around the corner, indicating that prisoners were near.  The group managed to defeat the troglodyte and one kobold, but one kobold ran away down the right-hand corridor.  Daria and Yassel gave chase while Eltairin tried to shoot at the runaway kobold.  Meanwhile, Kartoffl and Thistle broke the padlocks that held 5 dwarven miners left behind by the fleeing kobold.

The kobold turned the corner, and was nearly in another large chamber with strange machines in it when Yassel finally caught up to the kobold. Unfortunately, the fleeing kobold managed to attract the attention of a rough-looking troglodyte wielding two clubs and its viper  companion.  Daria moved to engage the troglodyte and despite killing its animal companion early, was badly injured while holding the troglodyte off  until the rest of the party arrived.  In the meantime, the freed dwarves tackled the lone kobold and beat it to death.
09/04/2003 12/21/1373 DR

Daria and Yassel looked into the large room.  The room contained an 8-ft diameter, free-standing wooden wheel hooked up by a network of leather belts to three other pieces of odd-looking equipment.  Two of these seemed to be running fans connected up to the leather ductwork running through the mines. The other was hooked up to what seemed to be a water pump of some sort. Inside the wheel, there was a very angry female dwarf who had been forced to walk in the wheel.  In the center of the room, there were several long tables that were used for meals by the troglodytes.  At the far end of the room, they saw the main entrance to the mine, now heavily barricaded.

At the farthest extent of their vision, Daria and Yassel spotted three more troglodytes and three kobolds.  The battle was joined once more.  Four of the freed dwarven miners, along with Akara, guarded the party's rear while another, Dain Rumblegut, fought along with the party.  Yassel attempted to free the female dwarf but was rebuffed by her foul temper, so he left to rejoin the battle.  Eventually, the kobolds and troglodytes were defeated, and Kartoffl freed the female dwarf.

Dain informed the group that only he and Romae Sigilstone, the female dwarf they had freed from the wheel,  were trained at all in combat.  The rest of the dwarven warriors had fallen in defense of the mines. Consequently, the party viewed it best to leave the noncombatants behind to reopen the entrance.  Dain stayed behind to direct the operation while Akara stayed behind to guard his family.

Romae immediately sought out armor and weapons from the remains of the dwarven barracks nearby.  Once equipped, she proceeded to lead the party into the mines to free the rest of the dwarves and battle "the dark one," a male drow elf who led the band of troglodytes.  Through out her crusade, Romae proved to be single-minded in her determination in freeing the mines, and almost completely uninterested in making friends or even being nice to the party.  She did almost smile once, or at least she growled less, one time when Kartoffl took out a troglodyte with a single blow.

Romae led the group on a straight course into the mines.  After a brief battle on a bridge over a chasm, they were able to free two more dwarves.  A lone kobold was unable to escape to warn the rest of the interlopers.

The group quickly passed through a chamber where the dwarves stored their copper ingots.  Romae sternly warned the group, Yassel in particular, that these belonged to the dwarves and not to touch any of them.  This prompted Yassel to drag his finger across as many as possible once Romae's back was turned.

The group then attacked the main prison chamber.  There, they encountered two more troglodytes and seven kobolds.  After an intense
battle, the party was able to defeat the guards and free the six dwarves held here, the last dwarven miners held.  Romae promptly send them back to the rest of the dwarves for safety.

Romae then announced that they should next continue onward and confront the dark one.  Dominique, however, managed to persuade Romae that the party needed to work out a plan of battle as the drow could be a fierce opponent. They  issued a collective sigh of relief when she reluctantly agreed to delay her vendetta against the invaders long enough to actually plan.  The party then sat down to discuss tactics.
09/11/2003 12/21/1373 DR - 01/05/1374 DR

The party spent some time planning their next course of action.  Romae impatiently filled the party in as to where the drow and his horde might be in the mine.  It was agreed that Yassel should go scout ahead, so that the party would have the most recent information.  Yassel drank a potion of darkvision, so that he would not need a light source.  Daria followed blindly a corridor-turn behind in case he needed help.

Yassel crept down the corridor, turning right into a 50-ft, straight passage.  At the far end, he spotted five troglodytes waiting, looking in
his direction up the passage.  After drinking a potion of spider climb, he continued down the corridor along the walls.  Behind the troglodytes, he spotted the drow, slightly down a corridor slanting 45 degrees to the left.  In a left-hand passage halfway down the first passageway, he spotted six kobolds waiting silently.  Returning, he saw a lone troglodyte standing watch in the direction of the party at the first intersection.  Each group was exchanging silent hand signals with each other.

Having seen enough, Yassel returned to the party.  With Yassel's new information, the group finalized their plan of attack.  Yassel was to
drop a continual flame so that the rest of the party could see for their attacks, then surprise attack the lone guard.  The rest would then strike quickly.

Yassel sneaked back down the corridor and found the lone sentry after looking for a while.  He dropped down behind it, and tried to sneak attack it.  Unfortunately, he missed and alerted the troglodytes down the hall to his presence.  Kartoffl, seeing what had happened, moved forward, signaling the rest of the party to move.  Eltairin finally got out a continual flame and threw it down the corridor.  The sentry was quickly killed in a hail of missiles.

The battle was then joined.  A hasted Kartoffl, Romae and Daria moved forward while Thistle and Eltairin took up positions from which to use their bows.  The drow, for his part, cancelled Eltairin's continual flame (only to have another one pulled out), fireballed the party, and then put up a windwall to counter the party's effective use of bows.  Dominique covered the far end of the corridor with a stinking cloud that nauseated most of the troglodytes and eventually the drow himself.

The drow retreated from the stinking cloud after being nauseated by the cloud and hit by an acid arrow from Dominique.  Kartoffl followed the drow to the far end of the corridor where he dispatched the dark one.  He, Romae, and Daria then continued to eliminate the remaining troglodytes.  Thistle, Eltairin, Dominique and Yassel defeated the six kobolds.

The party carefully stripped the drow of all possessions before allowing Romae to dismember the corpse with her axe.  He had the following items that were later identified:  +2 cloak of resistance, +5 bracers of armor, +1 keen short sword, amber amulet of vermin (large monstrous spider), a trapped wizard spellbook, and a masterwork short sword.  After the trap was dispelled, Dominique found that the spellbook contained: comprehend languages, lesser sonic orb, magic missile, protection from good, ray of enfeeblement, shield, command undead, flaming sphere, protection from arrows, scorching ray, Snilloc's snowball swarm, dispel magic, fireball, lightning bolt, windwall.

In an adjoining room, Yassel found the drow's sleeping area.  A trapped chest with the drow's personal belongings was found nearby.  Once the chest was safely opened, Yassel found 2000 gp and the following items that he quickly appraised: 3 bottles of drow wine in a padded carrier (worth 50 gp each), a crystal goblet (20 gp), set of china dishware (20 gp), and set of silver cutlery (45 gp).  He also found what was presumably the drow's family patch; Daria and Dominique agreed that it was from the House of Achria, one of the lesser noble houses of Menzoberrenzan.

The party returned to the dwarves to find them hard at work preparing the bridge, having opened the main door.  Akara was in charge of security at the far end of the corridor, and greeted the party warmly.  Once the group told the dwarves of their success, a 3-day celebration commenced.  The was much dwarven ale to be had, although Eltairin decided to partake of one of the bottles of drow wine to compare it to traditional elven vintages.  Daria provided the music for the festivities, creating a new song to honor the bravery and endurance of the dwarves (she later created one for the party as well).  Kartoffl spent most of his time courting Romae who was open to his advances as he had proven himself worthy in the battle to free the mines.

On the third day, Dain Rumblegut, now the leader of dwarves, announced that the dwarves owed the party a debt of honor for their heroic efforts in freeing their mine.  He gave each 10 ingots of copper (worth 1gp).  He also promised that to repay their debt that each member of the party could request one of the dwarves to act as his/her henchmen for a period of two weeks.  This could be redeemed at anytime.

After the celebration, the party took its leave of Akara and the dwarves.  The journey back to Silverymoon was uneventful, arriving back on 5 Hammer, 1374 DR.

Next chapter.

© Copyright Maryrita Steinhour, 2002, 2003.