After an hour’s rest, Sir Bruce and Octavius prepared to venture back into the Salt Mines of The Village of Tommen. Thinking that there might be more trolls, Sir Bruce found some torches, oil, and blankets in the supply shed. He shredded some of the blankets and wrapped his mace tightly in the strips of cloth and then soaked it in oil. Bruce wanted to make sure he could use fire to stop the trolls from regenerating. Using the light of the day, Sir Bruce also filled The Chalice of the Sun with wine and let Octavius drunk of it to be filled with heroism.
The two knights carefully moved back into the mines. Right near the entrance they recognized a few things were out of place. All of the grimlock and troll bodies had been moved. They were not where they had fallen. Sir Bruce saw blood and other signs of the bodies being dragged down one of the side tunnels where they had yet to venture. The two knights decided to follow the trail and moved cautiously down the tunnel. In addition to the blood trail there was a train track for the mining carts used in the mine bisecting the tunnel.
The tunnels were pitch black and totally silent. Sir Bruce lit a torch and held it at the ready. The edge of the flickering light was like a wall of ink. It was a warren of tunnels coming in and out of the main tunnel. Octavius suddenly put his hand up urging Sir Bruce to stop moving. Octavius pointed down near the ground. He had spotted a tripwire. It was low to the ground and linked to some sort of trap, but he could not tell exactly what. As Octavius crouched down to take a closer look he heard a screeching sound from further down the tunnel. He looked up to see a mining cart hurtling toward him and the tripwire. Octavius leaped into action jumping over the tripwire and driving TitanCleaver – The Green Scythe into the ground in front of the oncoming mine cart. His placement was perfect. The speeding car hit the slanted shaft of his axe and upended flying off the side and crashing into the cave wall. If not for Octavius’ quick thinking and excellent maneuver the cart would have assuredly hit the tripwire and triggered whatever trap it was connected to.
Sir Bruce noticed some movement in one of the side passages. The sickly form of a grimlock came into view as it stepped into the light and hurled his spiked club. Sir Bruce smiled as the club sailed past him well off the mark but frowned as the club hit the tripwire and triggered the trap. Instantly the ceiling gave way and a shower of rock and dust fell down upon Octavius, injuring him, knocking him prone, and pinning him to the cave floor. A huge troll came running down the tunnel and in a wild frenzy began to unleash claw and bite attacks on the defenseless Octavius. Before he could move in to help his friend, Sir Bruce was surrounded by two Grimlocks flanking him with their spiked bone clubs.
Things looked dire for a moment, but righted themselves fairly quickly. Sir Bruce made quick work of the grimlocks swinging Talon in a wide arc and slicing across the first one’s neck and then spinning around and thrusting straight through the second’s chest. As Sir Bruce moved forward to get into a position help Octavius, the two grimlocks staggered and collapsed in a pool of their own blood.
Octavius was pinned beneath a lot of loose rock but he managed to get his hands underneath him and push with all his might. The rock slid off his body and he was finally able to stand up. He pulled up TitanCleaver – The Green Scythe and squared off against the troll amidst all the rocky rubble and dust. Octavius went up on his toes and raised his mighty axe above his head. He came down onto the heels of his feet and brought down his axe cleaving the troll from its shoulder to its chest. The grotesque rubbery green body flopped around as Octavius spun around in a circle freeing his axe from the troll and swinging it around again to cut it completely in half at the waist. The pieces were starting to crawl back together when Sir Bruce managed to smash them with his burning mace and stop them from regenerating.
Cleaning up and binding their wounds, the Knights of Tethyr examined the area and found that the bodies had been dragged there to set up this ambush point around the trap. It was clever but not clever enough to stop the determined paladins.
There was another section of the mines that they had avoided because there were some strange mushrooms growing along the floor. No longer worried by the fungus the knights approached only to find growing amongst the mushrooms a shrieker. The loud piercing noise it gave off was quite unsettling before Sir Bruce silenced it by hacking it to pieces. They moved beyond the fungus to a warren like section of side passages when suddenly both knights heard a voice speaking directly in their head. The telepathic voice sounded harsh and robotic and quite like a Dalek. It said, ‘By order of Master Skarloch you are not authorized to be in this area. Leave now or Shatevar will exterminate you with extreme prejudice.’
The two knights pressed on and were confronted with two rays of energy that came hurtling out of the darkness to strike in Octavius. The first green ray paralyzed Octavius. As he crumpled to the ground the second black ray struck him and washed necrotic energy through his body wounding him terribly. Sir Bruce pushed forward calling upon the full brightness of Talon to illuminate the passageways. Ahead he saw the foe. Shatevar was a beholder. A definite real one unlike the gas spore encountered before. The spherical scaly creature had eye on stalks and a gaping maw of teeth.
Sir Bruce managed to cut into Shatevar with his fey blade but the beholder responded ferociously. A white eye ray filled Sir Bruce with fear but before he could flee the second green eye ray hit him and paralyzed him. The beholder loomed over Sir Bruce, its gaping maw of razor sharp teeth salivating at the though t of eating the knight. But Octavius had shaken off the effects of the paralysis and ran up to aid his friend. TitanCleaver – The Green Scythe hewed through one eyestalk before being buried deep into the bulbous body of Shatevar. The creature howled in rage. Its confusion ray and fear ray were resisted by Octavius as the steadfast knight kept up his assault. He wrenched his axe free of the creature and swung it around to mash into the creature again. With a final gasp and whimper the beholder fell silent. Its body still hung suspended in the air even though it was dead hovering in some sort of macabre dance.
Sir Bruce quickly shook off the effects of the paralysis and fear and the two knights investigated what Shatevar was guarding. They found a large trap door on the floor chained shut with a thick padlock. Octavius took out his crowbar and pried open the lock. They removed the chain and opened the trap door. Below them was a 10 foot by 10 foot shaft leading down 30 feet to a small cave. Inside the cave were found 4 human miners. Using some rope, Ocatvaius lowered Sir Bruce down. He examined the prisoners and found that they were all sickly and hurt. Calling on the power of Tyr, he healed them with his divine magic.
They miners explained that they were captured by grimlocks when the mine first fell to the creatures. Skarloch ordered the grimlocks lock the prisoners up in this area. There used to be 9 of them. But Skarloch took 3 of them at one point and the grimlocks took 2 more on another occasion. None taken had returned.
The knights of tethyr brought the prisoners out of the mine and set them up in one of the outbuildings to rest and eat. They then went back in to make sure the entire mine was clear. They found that it was with the exception of a strange circle of glowing red runes with a pentagram and emerald dust.
The knights could not figure out what the magical runes were, so they decided to return to The Village of Tommen with the prisoners and make sure they got home to their families safely. The knights took their rest at The Standing Stones as guests of Felicity Briarpatch. They described what had happened and asked her what she thought of the runes. She volunteered to return to the mine with them to examine things more closely. At The End of the Road Inn, the Knights found Jarik Goth keen to hear what had happened. That morning, Octavius, Sir Bruce, Jarik Goth, and Felicity returned to the mine and found it exactly as the knights had left it.
Jarik Goth confirmed that the altar with the brains looked like it had the image of a mind flayer or illithid on it. They were terrible evil creatures but were supposed to live deep under the earth in the Underdark – certainly not so near the surface as this little salt mine of Tommen. Likewise the Grimlocks were creatures found in the Underdark and it is highly unusual to find such creatures in the surface world. The Grimlocks are known to worship mind flayers in their own strange and unusual way even though it is said that the mind flayers created such creatures through terrible dark arts.
The runes on the floor were identified as being written in the infernal language by Felicity Briarpatch. It looked to her as though it was a teleportation circle of some kind. A gate that when one stepped into the pentagram would take a person to another place. After several attempts there seemed to be no way to destroy the gate. The two knights resolved themselves that they should see what was on the other side. Perhaps it could be closed there.
Octavius and Sir Bruce bravely stepped through the portal and found themselves on a sandy cave floor. They were clearly far from the salt mine. All of the rock looked quite different. The air tasted and smelled different. It was more oppressive an ominous feeling. A small path of sand cut through the huge slabs of ancient rock dominating the cavern. It was completely dark save for the light of Talon. At the edge of the light, Sir Bruce could make out some wooden planks fashioned together into some sort of walk way.