Forgotten Realms Artifact Hunters: Reassembling The Avatar of Torm

12. Descending into the Earth

Now that the source of the odd Ore has been identified, will we be able to find it?

As we were fixing to leave the mining authority, map in hand,Tal hears some low speaking from the other side of the door. She alerted us to the presence and Marek the Silver decided to step forward and assert himself.

“”/campaign/artifact-hunters-the-avatar-of-torm/wikis/cimbar" class=“wiki-page-link”> Cimbar is is our graveyard." A large Hill Giant sdtood up straight, grasping a boulder in one hand and a club in the other. “Whatever you found in there belongs to us, now hand it over, or we’ll have to take it.”

“We?” questioned Tal.

“Dammit! So much for the surprise,” came a voice from behind a tall stone to the giant’s right. A blue-skinned genasi stood up, revealing himself. “youy better give it up, it’s no use, we have you surrounded. Stand up guys.” At which point two other light-skinned genasi revealed themselves to us.

Morigan McBane, ever cunning, urged the raised corpse of Feril Bilikin out of the building and into the rubble-strewn street. “This sickly corpse is all we came across, honest.”

The Hill Giant eyed the tattered remains up and down and sighed. “I guess we’ll have to take what you have on you, something that shiny-” and Morigan released a bolt into the flesh of the giant before he could finish his thought.

Most of us concetrated our hits on the giant, who was quickly and severely wounded. Marek the Silver roared a deathly bscream at him , causing the giant and one of the genasi to run for their lives. Angered at their abandonment, the two like-colored water- genasi fought on harder, throwing us around the battlefield and pummeling us with waves of blue energy. Eventually, we soaked up the mess and collected their purses, acquiring a hefty pile of gold.

Marauder Attack 1800xp
1 Hill Giant (800xp, MM1)
2 Genasi Hydromancer (350xp, MM2)
1 Genasi Skyspy (300xp, MM2)

After the battle had come to a close, Manganese climbed to the top of tall column leaning against a low building and sat down to take a breath. He pulled out his water skin and raised it to his lips. With his eyes pointing skyward, his face grew cold as he dropped the water skin to the floor beneath him. Following his gaze, we saw him staring at a small floating earthmote as is drifted through the sky slower than the clouds above it.

“That’s it!” he yelled. “That’s why they move!” Manganese jumped off of the column and stumbled to the floor. He headed toward us while his eyes jumped from mote to mote. “Clockwise, you see, they all go clockwise.” What does that remind you of? Gavail, Marek, and Morigan all mention a clock, while Ana Bella, after thinking for a moment, mentions a drain.

“Exactly! It’s like water in a drain, and what do you think has the ability to draw in the motes, what do you think has the density and force to attract them?” We all looked at each other with blank stares. “An earth node has that power. And I bet, the source of your armor is somewhere near that node.”

Morigan stepped forward, describing what he knew of nodes, "Streams of invisible power run beneath the earth, occasionally crossing and collecting in a single spot like river flowing into a lake. Such rare collection points are called earth nodes. An earth node’s power isn’t visible to the naked eye, but such points are often eerily beautiful or bizarre.

Gavail submitted his own Arcane knowledge of nodes A node can be used as if it were a permanent teleportation circle. An arcane caster in the node’s power field can tap into its magic, increasing their ability to cast spells.

As we looked to the horizon and compared our map to the motes meandering through the sky, you realize that they are likely circling the mine that Feril Bilkin’s note spoke of. “I’ve always wanted to study a node, would you mind me tagging along once again?” asks Manganese.

Soon after we gathered our things and head out to the source. Heading east from Cimbar, we walked gingerly over rough terrain and torn plains for about 10 hours before seeing the remnants of what was once a very small and very old town. The only recognizable bits of civilization were chipped fallen stones that seemed to have once been a guard tower. A quick comparison to the map led us to believe the mine to be little more than an hour’s trek south. The sun was kissing the horizon, throwing streams of purple and red light overhead. The floating motes dropped enormous eerie shadows that acted as small snippets of night.

We could all taste the excitement in the air, the air was electrified as if a storm had just passed. Some time later, we came across a small hill protruding from the otherwise flat plains. In the north face of the hill a wooden gate covered in dirt and vines lay, angled like a cellar door. Lavender shoots up from between the slats, filling the air with a sweet aroma. A rusted metal lock holds it in place. Dropping to his haunches and drawing a hammer, Marek broke the lock with a thick snapping sound, kicking up flecks of rust and dirt into the air.

The gate slid open with a loud creak and slammed down against the side of the hill, breaking off of its hinges and sliding down the hill. The sweet lavender smell gave way to a dusty earth smell of stale air. Ahead of us was a dark tunnel, heading straight down into the depths of the earth. No sound came from within, no drafts wafted up to greet us. Along the side was a very soggy rotten ladder. It didn’t look to be at all usable. Morigan chipped at the wooden beams framing the door, noting their soft, rotted core. She didn’t recall seeing any heavy boulders or trees nearby, and a quick scan of the horizon didn’t help either.

As she began to anchor pitons into the ground and secure rope to them, Tal tied a sunrod to the other end of the rope and let it go. As it fell down the shaft, we noted that it the rope ended bbefore the ground, so we pulled it up to affix another rope. Meanwhile, Marek remembered his magical bracers and began to descend on his own. George soon followed, with Gavail Pontiff hanging onto his pet for dear life. The rest of us continued after them slowly via the rope.

We descended into a large squared room with a rocky, dusty floor. The ceiling to this old mine was precariously held above by rotting, warped support beams. The air was stale and heavy and it was utterly dark. We felt particles floating around us, impossible not to breathe in. An old mining cart track ran along the walls and disappeared off into two holes in the walls, one on either side of the south wall. The thresholds of the exits dropped off into darkness, but a crudely built, rotting wooden rail had been erected for protection. There were about 10 mining carts in this room, six of which seem to still be usable. Three storage crates were also resting along the south wall; between the exits. Inspection revealed 6 torches and some old hammers.
Both sets of tracks descended into the darkness, although the rails on the west track were in much better shape, it lacked most cross beams. The track heading off on the east had rails that were twisted and rusted, but the crossbeams seem strong enough to hold our collective weight.

Excited by the thrill of riding a mine cart into what would very likely be her undoing, Morigan McBane affixed one torch to each corner of her cart and bobbed down the track. As she slid forward, she bid her teammates goodbye, and yelled out load as the track began to descend into the earth. The rest of us wanted to go along, but Marek was shaking in his plate armor, afraid that he would not be able to hold on. We kicked the rails and knocked on them as a sign of their integrity, and eventually convinced the dragonborn to suit up and hang on.

We stepped into the carts, Marek in front, then Tal and Ana Bella, followed by Gavail in the caboose ( George was ordered to continue on “foot”) and bobbed our way to the threshold. Our speed started off slow and steady, but started to adamantly pick up. Sparks emanated from the track as it vibrated beneath us. The hissing of metal on metal was almost unbearable, resulting in Tal and Ana Bella to be thrown from their carts. Unexpectedly, the carts quickly shifted to the right, but Marek and Gavail held on, as had Morigane moments before.

The turns started coming more frequently. Next, we felt the cart rising and descending at an unnatural rate. Eventually, we were all thrust upwards enough for the cart to lose contact with the rails, slamming us back down into the cart. The shaking that our carts had received seemed like too much for the rotting wood and warped metal to take. A piece broke from the bottom of Morigan’s cart and lodged itself in the track, but we were all able to shift our weight away in time. Finally, the speed started to reduce and the track begans to level out. Unfortunately, a portion of the track up ahead had been dented by a falling rock, and it took all of our weight and effort to steady the cart, which it seems only Gavail was able to do.

As Gavail saw the floor return beneath the tracks, she knew that her ride in Space Mountain had come to an end. Emerging from the darkness and dust before her, glints of steel appeared. Through the dusty air, she realized an array of spears had been embedded into the wall and that she was heading straight for them. Luckily, she managed to fey step out of the cart in time, and tumble to the soft dusty floor as the cart turned to the left, underneath the spears, and safely rode the track along the wall and coast to a stop.

As Gavail gets to her feet, she surveys the room. She notices the five other carts ahead of hers on the track all empty. Additionally, there are two more mining carts on the tracks and one buried at the end of the track in the southwest corner of the room. A hallway leads off from this room to the south east, but it is mostly covered in fallen earth. Pulling up some crates and barrels along the east wall, Gavail decided to make some tea and meditate as she waited for her friends to arrive.

Meanwhile, Tal and Ana Bella, after having tumbled from their cart and falling into the darkness, landed with a heavy thud on soggy ground. They heard their friends speeding off into the distance, the echoes singing off the cavern walls. The channel into which they had fallen was about 10 feet wide and the slippery, rough walls rose into the darkness. After 30 minutes of walking forward, they stopped when they noticed what seemed to be a floating, glowing mace in the air up ahead. Ana Bella, attracted by the glow reached for it, instantly becoming engulfed with a gelatinous cube.

1x Gelatinous Cube (400xp, mm1)

Further ahead, Marek lands with a loud clang onto the soft ground as Morigan calls up to Gavail Pontiff as she rode by overhead. Morigan headed towards where Marek lay on the ground and helped him to his feet. “a Hell of a bump there, huh. Looks like teh wizard didn’t have any difficulty.” They discussed climbing up to the track again and possibly traversing to the end of the line, but decided the floor was a safe enough passage.

The forged ahead for a while, wading through the sick air. Soon, a putrid acidic filled the air. Through the darkness, a shiny yellow shadow began to writhe towards them. While [[:morigan | Morigan] began plotting a way past the ooze, Marek and the beast met each other in pitched battle, which ended quickly and with little damage to our heroes.

Eventually we trickled into the room where [[:gavail-pontiff | Gavail] lay, nodding off and enjoying tea. We rested for a bit, commenting on the ride in the carts. As we searched the room, we saw some of the rubble begin to shift. We thought it may have just be the settling of the room, but then again…

2 Rot Scarab Swarms (350xp, MM1)
2 Tangler Beetles (200xp, MM1)
2 Fire Beetles (100xp, MM1)

After Gavail burned off the last of the swarms, we turned our attention to the stoney hallway to the south. Down the hall, through the rubble, we heard low growling and sounds of chewing. Some beasts seemed to be fighting playfully and unaware that their noises were echoing towards us. We estimate that it’ll take roughly 30 minutes to clear a path through the stone.

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Rustyham

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