|Daeorian Campaign Log — Session #16|
|Emmeline's Diary Entry|
After some debate, and further rest, we resolved to go warn the villagers of the impending attack before returning to slay or at least delay the minotaurs.
The headsman Dentar and his wife were the first to greet us upon our return. We had little time to waste on pleasantries and so spared none; our news was met with a kind of grim determination, rather than the panic I had half-expected. Though I suppose that such atrocities are not unheard of in a world ruled by evil. The headsman called for a young woman to fetch Eladen's 'box,' which contained a family heirloom they believed would protect them, properly used - only family lore said that whoever used the device would die.
Eladan and his box arrived; Throm, typically, shook the box when it was handed to him and managed to frighten half a life out of us all. I was rather sharp with him, especially compared to Meltara's gentleness; I frankly wonder how he survived to adulthood. After being told to put it down he threw the box on the ground and Dentar asked if he was "as stupid as he looks," shaking his walking-stick in the paladin's direction. Throm did not seem to understand; that or his sense of humour is more subtle than he is.
During the exchange, Tomber had opened the box and found a ring, a rock, and a scarab. A few minutes of examination by the arcane spellcasters ensued and it was eventually concluded that the ring probably increased speed, the rock did something devastating and undefined, and the scarab was meant to trigger the activation of the rock, allowing for a delayed detonation. I asked Eladon where the items had come from, and he said that it had been his family for generations, but supposedly his grandfather's grandfather had been given it by an ancient elf.
An elf had also aided us when Vindahr was slain by the dragon, and given us some items of no mean power, including the ring of resurrection. I find this an interesting coincidence; I plan to raise the subject to the rest of the party when next we are in a position of relative safety. They cannot possibly be the same elf - humans are not so short-lived as that, after all.
Initially it seemed the only option was what amounted to a suicide run. The ring may have been able to get the volunteer out in time, but the odds were slim at best especially since the effects of the stone were unknown. Tomber then suggested that he and Keldorn go down together; he could use his magic to transport them directly to the idol, set the stone, transport them to the entrance of the labyrinth and have them run out from there with the aid of the ring.
Before we left, Dentar told us on behalf of the village that we had their gratitude. It seemed to me that he was better off saving it until he was sure we had succeeded, and I said as much. He responded that they planned to evacuate if they saw no sign of our success within a day, and Throm gave them some gold to aid in their possible relocation.
Once inside the mine we took a brief detour down a side tunnel we had never fully explored and found it emerged over the ledge the minotaurs had dropped from the other day; since it was of no other interest, we continued on. Some time later Vindahr, Keldorn and I spotted minotaur shadows on the other wall, heading towards us. We had initially planned to accompany Tomber and Keldorn at least partway to the labyrinth, but in this case it seemed prudent to have them go on ahead. Meltara took all but the most essential of their equipment and gave them a healing potion and her blessing; I cast a spell of protection on Tomber and a charm that would increase the power of Keldorn's attacks. Too little, all things considered, but there was nothing else we could do except sing the memory of their deeds, should they die in the execution of the plan.
Tomber cast haste to speed our flight and we ran for the fissure. A few minutes later, a blur of motion raced past and the ground began to shake, knocking me off my feet. Vindahr and Throm picked me up and we began to run again; Throm fell and I tried to help him, only to have him wave me onwards. It was a nightmarish few minutes: it seemed any minute the walls would close in around us and we would be crushed in the earth's fist. I know that the tribes whose yearly journeys take them near the mountains often experience these shakes, but I had not fully credited their tales. It seemed impossible to me that the earth could rise up that way; then again, until I cam here it also seemed impossible to me that orcs who did not bear marks of the nightridden could attack travelers who bore no obvious ill-will.
I could not keep my balance and had fallen very far behind. Vindahr and Throm stayed with me, for which I was grateful; dust and debris had been stirred by the relentless shaking and made it difficult to see and breathe. It seemed the shaking went on for hours, though looking back it must have been only minutes. I know Throm fell almost as much as I did; eventually we reached the side tunnel we had explored earlier only to be hit by a massive cloud of dust blown out by the force of the shaking. I thought I could hear Meltarra calling in the distance, but fell before I could muster the breath to call back.
When the shaking stopped, I saw Alabaster was also with us. Throm and I helped him up and I spared some of my water to rinse out my mouth, which by now had acquired a fine coating of dust. Dust and sandstorms were a hazard I understood; the winds where the plains and the desert meet are vicious and unpredictable, and there is no sensation as uniquely unpleasant as being covered in dust.
I had only just began to taste something other than dust when there was another, final shake that knocked us down like so many children's toys - save Vindahr, who only stumbled a bit - and coated us with dust again. So it goes.
Eventually we all met at where the fissure used to be. The shaking had closed it, blocking off the only exit we knew of. The others discussed what to do while I rinsed out my mouth again and futilely tried to wipe some of the dirt from my face and off my clothing; I was sore, exhausted, and thoroughly uninterested in the plans of the others as long as they eventually ended in sleep. So I trailed behind the party as we explored the aftermath of the destruction, discovering that the minotaurs were trapped either behind or under a massive cave-in and that none of the side tunnels seemed to lead out.
We settled in for the night and healed up; Meltara used her magic to summon water and we refilled out waterskins and cleaned ourselves as best we could. The others seemed inclined to stay up and chat for a bit and I was glad to let them, asking to be woken for the last watch before cushioning my head with my cloak and falling asleep.