Chapter 18 – Return to the Salt Mines

After defeating the undead in the first chamber, the party decides to rest. Setting up watch to allow the magic users to sleep, they stay for six hours and are not disturbed during that time. As they awake there is a fluctuation in the ambient mana, causing the magic users to feel as if their power has increased dramatically. Not wanting to waste this opportunity, they quickly move on.

In the second chamber of the south portion of the mines, they find two huge zombie trolls and two skeletons. Meran rushes forward quickly to attack the trolls, and is knocked flat (perhaps killed) by one of them as he counter-attacks. The rest of the group rushes into the room and they also attack the trolls with little success.

Meanwhile Galandil uses his magic to create a chasm in the ground underneath the skeletons, and they fall helplessly in. After a protracted combat the trolls are finally slain and Elowisyl rushes to assist Meran.

Just in time he is able to heal Meran’s wounds and saves his life. Atentir helps heal the also wounded Elowisyl as the others turn their attention to the skeletons. During the attack Galandil botches his spell attempt and knocks himself out cold. Meran and the others finish off the skeletons and start searching through the bodies of the trolls.

Atentir finds a large piece of gray cloth tied to one of the trolls’ loincloths, and sees that it is a cloak of some sort. Unable to find out what it does, Galandil takes it and finds that it is a Cloak of Shadows, able to shroud an individual in darkness.

Further searching the room, Elowisyl spies a large pond on the north side of the room. He senses magic here, and probes his sword around in the muck to try and discover what it is. He finds a small silver bracelet. Putting it on, he sees that it creates grants protective magic to the wearer.

Elowisyl also sees a hole, or tunnel, in the bottom of the pond, which disappears to an unknown depth. Neith volunteers to swim through and disrobes down to her knickers. A rope is tied around her ankle to pull her back if there is trouble, and magic is cast upon her by Elowisyl to give her the ability to hold her breath for a longer period of time.

The water is frigid, but Neith makes it through the opening and swims through for about 100 feet. She emerges in another room which not only smells terrible, but seems to have the contents of some kind of nest. It is currently uninhabited so she peeks around for any items that may be laying around. She finds two swords and an armored shirt, although it appears that there is a torso still in the shirt. She ties these items to the rope and is preparing to swim back when she hears footsteps shuffling up the cavern’s only entrance.

Neith jumps back into the water and pulls on the rope, signaling the others to pull her back through. A few seconds later she emerges sopping wet but heavier the swords and armor. They do not appear magical, however, and are discarded.

It is decided that the room is probably not on the map, or it could be one of the rooms further to the south. The group gathers their belongings and they move to the south area, somewhat weary from their battle with the trolls.

In the first cave they see six ghouls, and immediately attack them. The battle is swift and the ghouls fall, but two more come in through an adjascent cave. These are also killed. This cave does not seem to have any items of interest except a few silver pieces.

The group moves into the adjascent cavern and Neith identifies it as the one she ended up in after her swim. Indeed there is a large pool at the back of it. Two more ghouls assault them here but they manage to destroy them as well. The corpses are dragged down into the main room and burned.

It is decided that they must rest, especially the magic users, so they bed down for the night. It is quiet for the first four hours, but suddenly Elowisyl feels the magical parchment emerge from his bag and open to a letter from Erillas. The message reads:

“This will be my last writing for a while. With the King gone, things here are in turmoil. The King’s fool advisors, Peratus and Verak, are of little help and I have assumed many duties. The people here are uneasy as the army of Ch’zak are nearly on our doorstep, having broken through our first line of defenses. They will likely be here within the hour. Reports from the front lines say that some of these Ch’zak beasts are more than 100 feet tall. Orunn and Yeador are attempting to construct a magical barrier to hold them off for as long as possible. Our friends the Tall Ones have arrived in time to help, but this threat may be more than all of us can handle. It appears that you are our last hope, if sealing the gate will remove the cult’s influence on the Ch’zak. May the gods be with you.”

The party decides that they have no time to waste, so they prepare to leave for the other chambers to find Corrina’s undead grandson and relieve him of the circlet. Just as they go, however, the magic users feel a fluctuation in the local mana that reduces their spellcasting abilities.