Chapter 15 – Dread in the Salt Mines

After defeating the six undead, the party burns the corpses and Atentir and Celeb return from their panicked flight. They sweep off the rest of the white marble slab, looking for any other clues. The magic users in the group feel a great magical presence in the area; after a few moments another fluctuation occurs and they feel their spellcasting abilities decrease. Finding nothing of interest, they attempt to dig down under the sides of the slab, and see that it extends underneath the ridge’s rock face an undetermined distance.

Our heroes decide to descend the ridge face to the west and set up camp for the night, since many of them are hurt and exhausted. They have dinner and then go to sleep, setting up watches through the night so the spellcasters may sleep and regain their magical power. The night is quiet, and the next morning they wake, water the horses, and continue exploring.

Meran crawls to the top of the ridge, scouting the area for signs of Terrors and the openings to the salt mines, which are supposed to be in this area. He sees small (2-3 foot) humps in the sand at the bottom of the ridge, which are most likely the larvae-like Terrors burrowed in the ground, but cannot see a sign of the salt mines. He surmises that he is in the right spot, but the mine entrances have been buried by the sand.

He returns to the group, and they decide to accompany him back to the top of the ridge to see if they can help find the entrance to the mines. After a while they find several large cracks extending down the rock face and beneath the sand at the bottom of the ridge, and assume that they are from the mine entrance. Since the Terror larvae are blocking their path to attempt any digging, the group asks Galandil to use his amulet and dig straight down through the rock into the mine.

Galandil agrees and activates his amulet, sending the earth elemental to dig through the rock. The elemental emerges, but after a moment turns back and disappears into the amulet once again. Galandil attempts to use his tunneling spell to dig through the rock, but this is also ineffective. The party notices, however, that some of the sand was removed when he cast the spell.

They ask Galandil to try and dig through the sand to the entrance, and he obliges. This time the elemental is successfully able to excavate; the sides of the tunnel are fused into glass so the sand cannot collapse in. They peer below and see the entrance to the mines 20 feet down.

Since the sides of the tunnel are slippery due to the fused sand, Atentir ties a rope to a rock at the top of the ridge and everyone is lowered down. Meran goes first, but his hand slips on the rope and he lands on his rump. Everyone else climbs down without difficulty, and they light torches before advancing down the tunnel.

The place smells damp and musty, more like a tomb than a desert mine. There are many cobwebs in here, and the overall sense is that this is a foul place. Underfoot there is quite a lot of rubble, and what looks to be the remnants of a metal track. After 50 feet or so, the party comes upon a door made of white marble, very similar to the slab at the top of the ridge. It appears very solid, and also has an inscription on it.

Atentir ascertains that it is the same inscription as the one on top of the ridge, but below it instead of the two crescent moons is a circular impression shaped like the “tower” amulets worn by the cult members they previously encountered. Elowisyl produces one of the broken ones they found, and places it into the impression. Nothing happens.

Atentir is told to read the inscription aloud, and he obliges, saying “SELENA GUIDES OUR HAND” in a loud voice. Almost immediately two skeletons wearing dark robes emerge from behind them in the tunnel and begin to attack. They are easily beaten, but after they fall Atentir notices a glint of metal around one of their necks. He sees that it is one of the amulets, and it is unbroken.

Elowisyl grabs it from the pile of bones and goes to place it in the similarly shaped impression on the door. As it leaves the pile of bones, however, it breaks apart and becomes useless. Elowisyl turns and begins to search the other skeleton for an amulet. Finding one, he wraps the chain around a few of its bones and carries the amulet over to the door. This one does not break. He places the amulet into the impression, and the door melts away.

They continue through the cavern for quite a distance, they estimate about a quarter of a mile. They come upon a large open cavern with several exit tunnels. The metal tracks all converge in this room, and are fed out the other exits as well. Five mining carts are in here, and piles of mining gear and supplies are stacked in every corner. They see picks, shovels, gloves, helmets, rope and quite a lot of other items here, and several barrels. Two very small barrels say “OIL” on them, and Meran opens them to find that they are indeed filled with oil. He refills his oil flasks quickly.

There seems to be no life in here, and they decide not to take any of the gear with them save some rope. The party discusses which way to go, and eventually decides on the leftmost path. They ascend through the tunnel and walk another quarter-mile or so.

They soon come upon a room similarly as large as the one they were previously at, this one also with several exits. They move slowly into the room, with Meran at the head. Meran hears the groaning and wheezing of several creatures in the room, and runs straight to the center to hopefully take them off guard.

There are eight ghouls in this room, three in a corner on the left and five in a corner on the right. As he runs into the room they shriek at the light of the torch, but move to attack. The rest of the party joins in the fight, although the ghouls’ frightening appearance gives them all the chills.

Atentir transforms himself into a dog, biting savagely into several of the ghouls but also himself becoming hurt badly. All of the ghouls are finally put down, and everyone gets patched up by Elowisyl’s spells.

The room is searched, and they find similar items to those found in the previous cavern. It is noticed that the tunnel ahead of them (to the south, according to Meran) is more roughly hewn out of the rock, and was most likely not dug out by miners. They rest a few moments before exploring further.