The morning greeted them with a cold breeze and the starting light of the new day, despite still being in bed. The windows and curtains did little to keep the elements out.
The sorcerer rose sluggishly from the bed. The paladin was nowhere to be found and the priest was checking their equipment near the door.
The sorcerer gave a mild glare to her companion, “It’s too early to be able to function.”
The priest gave a slight shrug, “Those who work in the Church have to wake early. The day’s work begins as the sun rises, sometimes a little earlier than the sun.”
The sorcerer rubbed her eyes with a groan and reluctantly got up from the lumpy bed. She looked over the room before turning back to the priest.
“Where’s the paladin?”
The priest gave her a disapproving look, “If you mean Lissa, she said she was going to do warmups before we go. You should really learn our names if we’re going to work together.”
The sorcerer rolled her eyes, though at the priest’s stern gaze she eventually gave a reluctant agreement.
At her agreement, the priest nodded before sighing. A tone of resignation hinted in his voice, “Since I doubt you remember my name, I’ll reintroduce myself. I am Ray Dustshine, and my class is a priest. Please try to remember this time.”
“I’ll remember, um, Ray.”
“Thank you, Aura.” The prie-Ray returned to checking his staff.
At that moment, the palad-Lissa walked into the room.
“You’re all awake now! Are we ready to go??” she exclaimed, perhaps a little too loud for the time of day.
Ray gave an affirmative, while Aura, the sorcerer, begrudgingly put on her pointed hat and mumbled an affirmative answer as well.
With everyone ready to go, the group left the bedroom. Downstairs, Calhoun merely grunted at them in greeting, most of his attention on the scattered papers covering the table.
Outside the guild hall, they passed by a self proclaimed ‘Revered Champ’ muttering “I’m not gonna enter those mines. No chance in hell.” They disregarded him, though his ramblings made them a little uneasy.
Soon enough they arrived at the entrance of the Forsaken Tower, The Outlook Mines. The entrance was held up by wooden boards, as most mines are, and had two wooden signs. One sign to the left of the entrance read “Outlook Mines” and one sign above the entrance that simply read “Mines”. A little redundant, but perhaps whoever made it really wanted people to know this was a mine entrance. Two guards were lingering there, and they quickly took notice of the group’s presence.
One of the guards greeted them, “Good morning, could you perhaps assist us in retaking the mines?”
Lissa placed a hand on her hip and pounded a fist to her chest, the metal of her armour making a slight clanging noise with the movement. “Of course!”
The guard looked relieved at her response, before stumbling a little when he was elbowed by the other guard. The guard gave the other a slight glare and continued.
“That is a relief to hear.” The guard places a fist against his chest in a playful imitation of Lissa. “I am Guard Marlod and the person beside me” Marlod gestures to the guard beside him, subtly hitting the other with his hand. “is Guard Lofar. I am the mayor’s guard and usually stand in the Town Hall. I believe you may have already spoken with Mayor Michael yesterday.”
Guard Lofar shoved Marlod’s hand away then spoke his own piece. “I guard the mine entrance. You will need to speak with me each time you enter.”
Lissa bobbed her head in understanding, Ray following her lead. Aura stared into nothing as it was still far too early in the morning for people to be expected to properly register anything.
Lofar then tacked on, “If you do enter, there’s no turning back. The entrance will be barred from behind you.”
Though, that statement brought Aura back to the living.
“Why would you bar the entrance behind us?” Aura narrowed her eyes. “And even if you did couldn’t you unbar it if we return?”
Lofar shrugged. “It’s easier to guard a blocked entrance.”
“And if we returned to the entrance?” Aura pressed.
“Easier to keep the entrance blocked, only have to look out for people entering then. No need to monitor the inside of the mines if nothing is able to come out.”
The group leveled Guard Lofar with an unimpressed stare. Guard Marlod shuffled a bit at the awkward tension. With a sigh and a scratch of his head, he tried to reason, “Isn’t that a bit harsh Lofar? I’m sure you’ll be able to hear it if they yelled from the entrance.”
Lofar watched Marlod and the group’s reaction before staring into the sky as if it would save him from this torment.
Finally, Lofar relented, “Fine, if I hear them yelling from the entrance, I’ll unbar it.”
“That’s the spirit!” Marlod patted Lofar on the back, much to his annoyance.
With the issue settled, the group was permitted into the mines. Though they had to wait for Lofar to remove the planks currently blocking the entrance. It seemed a little excessive to repeatedly remove and place the planks, but if that was how he wanted to guard the mines there was not much to do about it. While they waited, Marlod returned to his post with the Mayor in the Town Hall.
Eventually, the group was able to enter the mines. Once inside, Lofar immediately set to work nailing the planks of wood back on.
“Couldn’t even wait until we were out of sight.” Aura begrudgingly commented.
Lissa readied her sword and shield, “Don’t worry! Let us focus on what’s in front of us!”
With the paladin’s encouragement the group ventured further into the mines.
The mines were obviously abandoned and had been for a while. The ground was mostly dirt that was occasionally replaced with wooden flooring. It is possible the wooden flooring may have covered most of the ground before, but now it was hard to distinguish where the flooring began and ended due to the dirt now covering it. There was also lots of debris and scattered boulders around. Several of the pathways they passed were collapsed and some of the walls seemed to be crumbling, yet barely held by the decaying wooden reinforcements. Not to mention the amount of dust and cobwebs in the area.
The group was brought to a stop by a skittering noise.
“A monster..?” Ray looked around anxiously, hovering closer to the others.
“I can charge them!” Lissa shouted, her shield raised and at the ready.
Aura readied herself, raising her hands. “We’re still near the entrance, the beasts here shouldn’t be too bad. We should be fi-EAH IT’S! FROST SHARD!”
A shard of ice formed from Aura’s hand and shot forward impaling a tick (an averagely sized one for a tick in the mines) that had skittered around the corner. The tick looked like an overgrown ladybug, but with a plain, blue toned shell. The tick’s size reached about their hip height. Unfortunately, the frost shard was not enough to kill the tick, as it crawled forward (albeit with more difficulty) while bleeding from the attack.
Aura stumbled back from the tick and bumped into Ray, knocking him off balance with a yelp and causing him to land on his bottom.
Lissa quickly stepped in front of the two fools with her sword at the ready. With two decisive strikes she sliced the tick and ended its reign of terror.
With the single threat eliminated, Lissa turned back to her companions.
“Are you guys okay?”
Aura gave a slow nod, her eyes glued to the tick corpse as though it would magically come back from the dead.
Ray stood up, with a brief brush of his robes, and confirmed he was okay. He shot a glance towards Aura, slightly peeved at getting knocked over.
“What was that? Was there really a need to panic like that?” A hint of exasperation in Ray’s voice.
Aura avoided eye contact and looked a little embarrassed. She crossed her arms over her abdomen in a hug of false comfort.
“I did not expect for the insects here to be so… big.” She took a deep breath, “It won’t happen again.”
Ray looked back at the dead tick, “Yeah, okay. Good.”
Lissa tried to lighten the mood, “Don’t worry, now we know what to expect!”
At Lissa’s encouragement, the group’s morale seemed to increase just enough to continue onward. Though, Aura gave the dead tick a wide berth while passing by and an extra hit of Frost Shard just in case.
The corridors of the mines were a little claustrophobic at times and the group encountered several more ticks. Lissa took care of most of them with her sword. Luckily, they only encountered the ticks one to two at a time.
The group also encountered two bats hanging close to the walls. The bats were not friendly either.
It was not long until they started hearing someone call for help. The sound of their calls echoing in the tunnels.
The group paused briefly and glanced towards each other.
“We have to help them!” Lissa shouted. She quickly charged forward, swiftly leaving the group behind.
“Wait! We should be going as a group!” Ray called out after her.
Both Ray and Aura struggled to follow Lissa. Alas, the charge of a paladin was too fast for either a sorcerer or a priest to keep up. The two resorted to following the cries for help rather than following Lissa directly.
“How do we know this isn’t a trap?” Aura huffed out, a little breathless from the running.
Ray shook his head, “It’s a little too late to think about that now. Besides, we should be helping people in need regardless.”
Aura looked as if she had differing thoughts about his comment but did not give voice to them.
Eventually, they reached nearby to where the voice seemed to be coming from. The corridor lead to an open area with significantly more ticks than they had seen before. Additionally, a few maggots (about the same size as the ticks but a little longer with a tannish colour, and well, a maggot) could also be spotted spitting a green poisonous fluid.
Lissa could be seen somewhere in the middle of the swarm, charging into enemies with her shield and quickly slashing them with her sword. She had sustained several injuries already. Some of her open wounds were contaminated with the maggot’s poison and were oozing questionable fluids and puss.
Aura, albeit a little disgusted, quickly came into range of the beasts and summoned forth a giant ice chunk in the air. The comet of ice fell to the ground crushing any in its path. This consequently contributed to the various piles of bug guts littering the area.
Ray also came into range of the enemies and casted his short ranged spell of Smite. The spell blasted a small area with a bright light dealing some damage to the enemies.
As the swarm thinned out, Aura and Ray quickly came closer to Lissa’s position. Ray, upon noticing Lissa’s injuries were becoming quite alarming, prepared to cast Holy Light. Holy Light is a longer ranged spell that can be cast in a straight line and held. It deals damage to enemies while healing allies. Peering over at Aura, he decided to heal her as well and quickly lined himself up so he could hit both Aura and Lissa with Holy Light at the same time.
The beam of light burst out of his staff and engulfed his companions and the surrounding enemies in its path.
Lissa gave a startled scream, and Aura began yelling.
“WHA- MY EYES!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Unfortunately, it seemed he had aimed a little too high, and was severely blinding his allies as well.
Even after ending the spell, his allies were still a little blinded. Lissa swung her sword around haphazardly and Aura casted Frost Shards at anything small that moved, as well as some that did not.
Eventually, all the threats were eliminated. The bugs’ remains littered the ground around them. The party’s wounds were healed by Ray, who was careful not to blind them this time.
At that moment, the group heard a shuffling sound behind them. They immediately faced the source of the sound, still a little high on adrenaline, only to find a man appearing from behind a boulder.
The man was dressed in blue overalls and wore a hard hat. He waved at them enthusiastically.
“Thanks for saving me! I thought I was a goner for sure!”
Lissa perked up at his voice. “You’re the one who was calling for help!”
The man knocked on his hard hat. “Yeah, I’m real lucky you guys found me. I hope you all don’t mind, but would ya mind helping me back to town?”
“Will we get anything out of it?” Aura questioned. Ray shot a disapproving stare at her.
The man gestured to their surroundings, pointing out specific rocks that were rounder and lighter in colour. “Help yourself to this ore, you can use the elevator to deliver it to town.”
“Elevator?” Ray asked.
The man pointed to a wooden structure. A wooden box was suspended with rope, the rope attached to each corner of the box then combined to reach a single pulley. The pulley system seemed to be automatic and helped to lower the container to the town.
Aura nodded and set to gathering the ore to place into the elevator.
The man turned back to the remaining two. “So, you all know a way out of this hell hole?”
“Yep, we can go back to the entrance!” Lissa exclaimed.
The man looked a little confused. “The entrance was blocked last I checked, and no one came when I tried to call for someone.”
“Ah, the guard, er, Lofar is on duty now, he’ll come if we yell.” Ray reassured.
Lissa bounced a little, clapping her hands together in realization. “We haven’t introduced ourselves yet! I’m Lissa, he’s Ray, and Aura is over there!”
The man chuckled. “I must have forgotten with all of the action. It’s nice meeting all ya. I’m Oliver. I work as a miner here, though I usually don’t tend to wander the mines.”
Ray blinked in confusion. “Speaking of, what are you doing in the mines?”
“I figured some of the elevators might need some maintenance, but I, haha, kind of forgot about all of them monsters being the reason it was abandoned in the first place.” Oliver chuckled a bit.
“Hey! How do you work the elevator?” Aura called out. She had finished filling the wooden box with the ore around the place.
Oliver came over to help with the pulley system and taught the group how to work the elevators. He explained that most of the pulley systems work the same for each of the elevators, even if they look a bit different higher up in the tower. The wooden boxes would also take some time to return, as they would need to be unloaded and brought back up.
The elevator was activated, and the ore sent on its way. The group deemed this as their cue to escort Oliver back to the entrance. The way back was significantly easier, as most of the threats had already been eliminated. Though the group was ambushed a couple of times by ticks that had burrowed underneath the ground.
Soon, they could see the blocked off entrance. Approaching it, Lissa started yelling.
“We’re ready to leave!”
They waited, but nobody responded. The group glanced at each other. Lissa repeated herself, yelling variations of the same phrase over and over again.
It was not until a figure in the distance responded that she stopped. “You can stop yelling, I’m already coming.”
Guard Lofar approached the entrance and began meticulously removing the planks. Oliver and Aura looked very relieved that he had responded.
With the planks removed, the group was free to leave. Guard Lofar stayed behind to hammer the planks back into place with a grumble.
They came out of the mines to find that it was now evening, just barely crossing over into the night. Several torches had been lit around the outer areas.
Miner Oliver addressed the group. “Thanks so much for saving me again. If you want to trade any ore just look for me! Although, I may need some ore to repair more of the elevators closer to the town first.”
At that, the guild members split ways with Oliver and returned to the Guild Hall for some rest. Guild Master Calhoun gave them a look when they came in, they could tell he was not impressed. No words were exchanged, but Calhoun had enough experience that he could tell without any explanations.
They did not get very far through the mines today, but tomorrow is another day.