Falco kicks open a wooden door to find young Garamon Hulaar bound to a pumpwheel and forced to walk in never-ending circles. The thief then turns a watchful eye back the way he came as his companion Melamber slips past him.
“I am Melamber Harkenstone, and we are here to rescue you!” she tells the startled Rjoen slave.
“You are who?” Garamon replies, blinking.
“I am Melamber Harkenstone, I am here with heroes true, and we knew your father, Baragon Hulaar!” the mage tells him.
“Baragon Hulaar? Where is he?!?” The young Northman strains against the ropes that hold him fast, but they check his stance as they have so many times before. Melamber produces a thin, silvery blade and cuts him free.
“Come on!” she beckons, and the two of them flee the pumping room with Falco close behind.
They make their way back into the cavern, keeping low and silent and staying clear of the scattered beams of sunlight that randomly pierce the stony canopy above.
“Wait,” Garamon tries to tell them, “this way is no good! It will lead into the heart of them!”
“Yes,” Falco says with a smile, “but we have something sly to surprise you with!”
They round a bend and find Brother Amaar standing in a pool of water clutching a rope that leads upward into a beam of pale blue light. He waves and smiles, but then something above catches his eye. Suddenly a dwarf crashes down on top of him and they both vanish beneath the brackish water… and not a moment too soon for an instant later there is an orange ball of hellish fire exploding downward from above! The rope is instantly a tatter of burning ruin and there are fiery bits of timber and cinders raining everywhere!
The dwarf and the cleric splash into view and struggle to rejoin the rest of the group.
“Well, it turns out that goblins walk patrols in the daylight after all,” the dwarf called Essoq reports as he tries his best to wring out his silvered beard, “and that lot had a fistful of bombard flasks to boot!”
Further down the cavern can be heard a hue and cry as the goblins below ground react to the explosions.
“Well then,” Garamon says only slightly irritated, “it would seem that I am the one who will rescue you!” He reaches down and takes Melamber by her slender hand. “This way!” he cries and leads her back the way they came.
Falco, Amaar, and Essoq just stare after them for a moment Then Essoq gives chase.
“I like the lad already!” the dwarf says as he vanishes into the gloom.
“There was no danger and an actual payday waiting for us in Noyo!” Falco barks at Brother Amaar.
“Mine is the Lord’s work, my son!” the cleric replies with a smile as he follows the retreating dwarf.
Falco stands alone for a time, listening to the ever-strengthening din of the approaching goblin hordes. “Yeah, well, your Lord pays shite for hard work! And don’t call me ‘son,’ you’re not my father!”
An instant later he is sprinting after his companions.
Game session begins En Media Res with a shameless, pandering Dungeon Crawl!
As a newly freed slave, Garamon is woefully lacking in the weapons and equipment department, so the first order of business is retrieving his gear. As he has spent a lot of time laboring in the gloomy caverns of Telmyr, Garamon has a fairly good mental map (in the form of a prop map that only Jason is allowed to look at!) of the common work areas.
Under Garamon’s direction the party sets up an ambush for a hobgoblin slaver named Tug that will turn up shortly to determine why the water Garamon is supposed to be pumping has suddenly stopped. Sure enough, the enraged brute stomps around the bend cursing and bent on murder. The party kills him outright and takes his keys, and before long they are into the storerooms and Garamon is good to go. They also find a goodly amount of minor treasure in the form of potions, gear, and few low-level spell scrolls.
Garamon leads the party deeper into the mines through the tunnels he is familiar with (by way of Jason’s map that somehow keeps winding up in Nora’s hands!) but as he rounds a bend he sees something new; a large, double-cage crudely made of timber and chains. Half of the cage lies open and empty, but the other cell is closed and holds some nameless, amorphous thing that reeks of brine and rot. Beyond this a pair of goblin sentries armed with spears sit on the stony floor playing at dice.
Inattentive as they are, the goblins hear the party and jump to their feet! But instead of rushing into battle or fleeing, they dash into the empty cell and pull a chain that swings the single shared gate in a wide arc, thus sealing the goblins inside and freeing the beast! The goblins jab and stab at the monster with their spears, and out it lumbers, a writhing mass of gray tentacles and ruddy flesh with a wicked, gnashing beak!
Fortunately, the opening to the double cage is aiming deeper into the mines and not at the party, and thus acts as a barrier of sorts giving the party time to ready themselves. There is a fantastic, bloody fight and Essoq takes a good many wounds but in the end the beast is thrown down!
The goblins; jeering and spitting cat-calls at first, are now trembling in their cage, pleading for their lives. Garamon means to kill them both but Brother Amaar stops him, pointing out their value as guides. The goblins are trussed up and questioned, then each rigged to a pole and forced to march in front of the group. They do not even take 10 steps before Garamon murders one.
“How many guides do we need, anyway?” he asks as he kicks the body into a ditch.
He and Brother Amaar then have words (the cleric DID promise to spare their lives if they co-operated after all) but quickly quiet themselves when Falco alerts the party of approaching guards.
There is another fight, and Essoq is still injured! Despite that, the skirmish goes very well for the party and the last goblin is slain by Melamber with a firebolt in the back as it tries to escape.
The party is quieter now as they make their way deeper into the mines. Garamon knows of at least three ore shafts that might lead to freedom.
Before long they come upon a group of slaves toiling under the steel gaze of goblin and hobgoblin taskmasters. Unable to rest due to threat of discovery from the main force of goblins hunting them from level 1, the party chooses to try and sneak past this area. Though he is largely healed and near full strength, Essoq is still down hit points and for the moment Brother Amaar can no longer help him.
But their goblin captive has other ideas! Essoq fails to notice a pair of iron manacles half-buried in the silt, and the goblin kicks them into a stone where they let out a metallic cackle that echoes throughout the chamber!
The party is now in the fight of their lives! Everyone is bloodied and Garamon is rendered unconscious! Melamber lets loose with her full arsenal of destructive spells and Essoq throws himself into full-throttle-berserker-rage before all is done!
Some of the now-masterless slaves come to the party’s aid. They beg for freedom. Falco offers them instead the freedom of a quick death but Brother Amaar gets in his face.
Falco: “They will slow us down at best and get us killed at worst!”
Amaar:”We cannot leave them to this goblin filth!”
Melamber: “Maybe we can hide them and come back for them later?”
Essoq: “Better for them to die fighting! Let’s give them weapons!”
One of the slaves is a man named Laurence who claims to be the servant of a now dead nobleman. While Laurence himself is not worth a ransom, the news of his late master’s death might be worth some gold to his fretted family.
In the end the nine slaves become part of the group and are charged with carrying Garamon around while the party flees deeper into the mine.
When asked, not Laurence nor any of the other slaves know anything about the ore shafts mentioned by Garamon. One slave named Belarus, however knows about a hollow that has a trace of sunlight spilling from it that the goblins avoid and have marked as forbidden. The party chooses to make for that chamber but first they try to find a place to rest.
More double cages with Goblin ‘zookeepers’ are encountered, but the party knows what they are doing now and handle them easily, murdering the poor monsters in their cages as they sleep!
Finally a rest can be had, and Garamon is roused with hard-earned healing magics! The party continues to explore the depths of the mines, noticing that the signs of recent digging becomes harder and harder to find. Ancient makeshift alters of piled stone and bones are discovered, and carved words in unknown tongues can be found scrawled on the cavern walls.
Belarus points at a blueish glow spilling from a chamber ahead. “Look there! The sunlit room!”
“Impossible,” Essoq replies, “The sun set hours ago!”
As the party approaches, they indeed see goblin markers and warning totems erected throughout the tunnel that leads to the chamber, and Falco points out a series of cords and tripwires along the floor that will set off a rattle of chimes and gongs if triggered… a crude, goblin alarm system!
When the party finally enters the chamber, they see that part of the floor has dropped away, and up from that pit shines a strange glow from below. It is not sunlight at all!
Game Session Ends, and sadly so too the campaign is put on hold as players split for parts beyond. Sad face emoji. :(