Well rested, and after much deliberation, Neirah was able to convince the group to let Ouinnie go, and return to her ‘home’ in the wild. With a heavy heart, and stifling tears, Bilth created a trail of food into the woods and yelled at her to leave.
“Go on! Get out of here!” he shouted, tossing a rock. “Go home now, girl. Go home!”
The rocks going seemingly unnoticed, Ouinnie stood and blinked while the adventurers continued down the path.
A week passed as they climbed down the mountain, the winter storm missing them, and they came upon a village with a pond to the North. The normal sounds of hustle and bustle could be heard nowhere, as it seemed nobody in town was at work. Entering the town’s alehouse, the Prancing Spirit Tavern, the group was greeted with the grizzled faces of the bulk of the town’s population – a group of dirty, musclebound men.
While treating Rusty and Bilth with the utmost level of disgust, the bartender revealed that the town’s mines, the main source of income, were shut down as a result of Degan the Devil letting monsters run loose. After the dwarves were kicked out of the bar for acting too friendly with miners, Nurak pretended to be a person intending on moving into the town to find the whereabouts of the town mayor/mine owner/banker, Mayor Fazen Penic.
Outside the bar, Rusty and Bilth proceeded to get well drunk off the barrel of ale (that went unpaid for) while telling Neirah stories they heard as children about monsters in the mines. Spooky creatures filled the stories, hiding in the dirt, ready to snatch children who disobeyed their parents out of their beds.
“Naught but wives tales,” Rusty said, handing Bilth another filled cup. “Hic. Ye won’t find any ‘monsters’ outside of rumor. Probably just a couple goblins.”
Nurak and Neirah went to pay Mayor Fazen a visit, while Rusty and Bilth took a trip to the lake for a dip and to fashion stilts. Mayor Fazen Penic was in his office, pretending to pore over the papers he had resting on his belly when the elves entered. Dropping his busy facade, Mayor Fazen was fooled by Nurak’s fake personality as John Sneh, a man interested in investing in the town’s longevity and clearing the mines. The two elves managed to haggle the price for their services down from the original demand of 50,000 gold down to the low price of 6 horses, and 100 gold to share.
They returned to the lake to collect the dwarves, only being able to convince one of the two guards to join the group and aid in the clearing of the mines.
“If the monsters in there don’t kill me, my wife will!” one exclaimed.
“I’ve a gambling problem, so I’m in,” said the other.
After an exchange of words about claiming gold ore in the mine, and a shoving contest with Rusty, that guard decided against entering the mines, and went home. They all rode their new (to them, at least) horses to the entrance of the mines: a palamino, dirty white, poo brown, and grey horses specifically. On the ride, Bilth and Nurak suggest they should take what gold they could from the mines, and let the village sort it all out later.
After tying up the horses and taking a half to one mile hike down the entrance tunnel, the group found themselves in what seemed to be the main staging area for the mining operation. Five tunnels led off in different directions, a pool of calm water was at one end of the room, and a cropping of stalagmites growing in a circle in the center of the room.
After looking at the pool of water and deeming it fresh, Neirah found two fungal myconids dwelling in the stalagmite circle. After attempting to communicate with the mushroom men, the group survived a rough encounter battling their spores, Bilth getting knocked out during combat.
While Bilth rested, Nurak stirred the calm fresh water with the end of his sword, causing it to roil and bubble. The group stood back as a water weird formed from the pool, glaring and snapping in their directions. It seemed to understand language as they took turns asking it questions and tossing rocks at it, but would not agree to vacate the mine. Fed up with the lack of actual communication, Nurak ice bolted the elemental creature and shattered it with his pickaxe. The group worked together to collect the pieces and load them into a minecart, Rusty putting a fist sized chunk of the ice in a jar in his bag.
After dumping the icy remains of the water weird into the town lake, Rusty and Bilth attempted to wear their crafted stilts in order to accompany Nurak and Neirah in waking up the mayor to obtain a map of the mine. The stilts broke, as they were crafted whilst intoxicated, and the mayor’s guards said no to the request, as it was the middle of the night.
Back at the mine, the group decided to begin the process of investigating each tunnel one by one. The first tunnel ended in a dead end, the group finding and quickly dispatching a nothic drinking from a pool. Neirah sunk her rapier deep into the nothic’s singular eye, and stirred it around.
The second tunnel contained a pit, that seemed to drop an estimated 200-250 feet. The main hall ended in a large chasm, also seemingly 200-250 feet by a very scientific rock throw and listening. The next hall, however, ended with a large pile of unprocessed gold ore, next to a small wooden table with a ledger. Investigating the ledger, Nurak found expense reports, tallying of gold amounts, and a map of the mines. After removing the map, he burned the ledger book.
“We should now take all this gold, and get out of here!” he exclaimed.
As the group watched the ledger book burn, Rusty left to look down the final tunnel. It led to a small makeshift graveyard for miners. Walking to the back of the room, a hand popped out of the ground and grabbed him by the ankle. As he shrieked, ten zombie miners rose from the ground and quickly overtook him as the rest of the group rushed in. They were dispatched slowly, nearly consuming Rusty completely had Nurak not blasted a web down the tunnel, keeping their snarling mouths inches from Rusty’s flesh.
The group pierced each of the zombies’ heads as they tunneled through the web to get to an unconscious Rusty. Along the way, Bilth became completely tangled in the webs, and required Neirah’s help to get him out.
Reaching Rusty first, and feeling unnoticed, Nurak reached down and cut Rusty’s beard off at chest height, throwing the large braid into his bag. Neirah, however, noticed the cutting happen. Once awake, Rusty noticed his lack of beard and demanded to know what happened to it, especially after being called “flatbottom” by Nurak. He attempted to tackle Nurak but wasn’t able to knock him over. Bilth attempted to pull Rusty off, but couldn’t remove him, so the group stood in grapple for a small while until Rusty muscled his way out of the group.
Nurak went into the next room and found a small spring of magical water, while Rusty demanded that he would not leave the room until he found the remains of his beard in the zombie stomachs. Nurak threw the beard into the water and fire bolted it until it was completely burned away, no magical effect happening as a result. Rusty then came into the room, and smelled burning hair. Although he couldn’t catch Nurak in an outright lie about the beard’s location itself, he could tell that something wasn’t being said.
Back in town to take a long rest, Rusty sat awake in his bed.
“That’s it!” he thought. “I’m looking in the bags!”
While his companions were asleep, he found an elven cookbook and single, long, dirty brown strand of thick beard hair in the bottom of Nurak’s bag. Freaking out and waking everyone up in a commotion of flipping tables, Neirah cast sleep on Rusty and turned to the group. Neirah eventually spilled the beans, that Nurak was the one to cut off Rusty’s beard, and together she and Bilth convinced Nurak that he would have to own up, and tell the truth. Nurak wrote a note in the cookbook, agreed to stop pranking Rusty ‘for a while’, and they all took a long rest.
The next morning Rusty woke in his underclothes alone in a room, his pack and weapons on the opposite wall. Bilth gave him the cookbook and told him it was from Nurak, and Rusty flipped through the pages after reading the inscription:
I saved your life
+ pranked you once.
Take this cookbook
+ play nice. Your
cooking is the best.
Take this cookbook
+ let it rest.
“Where’s the elf?” Rusty demanded. “Where’s the elf?”
With Nurak in the room, Rusty demanded that he wanted to cut Nurak’s hair and weave it into his remaining beard, to gain back at least a little of what he lost. After agreeing, Nurak sat on a stool while Rusty stood on another behind him. Pushing his ear to one side and bringing a cooking knife to Nurak’s hair, Rusty sliced off the very tip of Nurak’s ear, and hopped back down to his bag, depositing his knife. Bilth did all he could to not puke, and although Rusty feinted once more from a chill touch, he and Nurak cheers’d to peace over a couple ales while Neirah and Bilth investigated screams coming from the nearby lake.
Outside, the water weird had gained considerable size and was terrorizing a group of local children who had taken to swimming in the lake. Despite their best efforts, the first child to go into the weird’s clutches stopped screaming and struggling, floating within the weird’s aqueous body.
Inside, Nurak fired fireballs into the tiny water weird Rusty had in his jar and it seemed to cause the larger one to roar in anger. After firing a rope into the water, Bilth and Neirah were able to pull one child to safety. Joining the group, Nurak distracted the water weird while Rusty swam out to the third child, swimming back as hard as he could with Neirah and Bilth pulling him on the rope. The child was drowned, and dead. They were able to save two of the three children, but the elves received all the thanks as Rusty and Bilth were seen as servants. The water weird was left, roiling in the lake.
The night ended as the group was invited to dinner at one of the saved children’s houses by their grateful family, an offer of hard bread ends and leftovers was given to the dwarves despite their social standing, and after eating the group returned to the opening of the mines.