The party was exploring the cave, trying to find any sign of Fingelt and his miners while the rest of the party was picking their way to freedom. The K'Morat will eventually get in, but it's at a certain time and until then, the group has carte blanche to explore. Except for the bats there is precisely ONE monster in the cave (and I don't consider the bats "monsters" - and encounter that only wants to get away and be left alone) but that monster is also a clue as to what happened and who made it happen. Which will lead the party (if they get out) to the next adventure.
Write up follows:
The party explored the first side shaft on the main level, noting that Fingelt’s people followed the natural vein of iron for some distance. There was a place where the vein widened to a node and we discovered a dented bucket and a small shovel with a broken handle but little else. There were some stains on the floor, enough to lead us to believe they might have been blood, covering a drippy line probably 3’ or so in length – but nothing else.
From here we went to the 2nd side shaft and meandered about as the vein split in two directions. Giving the time to exploring both we found no one again however there was one mining pick discovered that had part of the head stained dark with dried blood and the handle itself was twisted off; the wood splintered and warped. There were some dark thick hairs twisted in the head that Einar suspected were animalistic sort of in nature. Maybe.
It was about 9:30 now and we were getting exhausted. A second listen near the entrance told us the K’Morat kobolds were still celebrating and had not begun to search the collapsed mine. We opted to head back to the bottom floor and rest, heading out in the morning to search the 2nd and 3rd levels after a good night’s rest and the chance to restudy spells.
We slept as well as could be in the gloom of the cave, the party members mining were closer to the outside and making good headway. Suspicion was we’d be through late this afternoon or maybe early evening. So after breaking out fast we headed back to the elevator and spent 15 or so minutes pulling the lift back up to level 2.
There was a metal walkway attached to a pivot that we snagged with the lift hook and swung over to prevent us from the need to jump the 2-3’ gap. A simple rack was here with a couple of leather cloaks and a water gourd that looks like it was smashed at some point. We crossed over and followed the tracks and cave further along; noting that Fingelt’s map showed there was a deposit of Phosphor somewhere on this level. According to the more learned members of the group, Phosphor although used in fire and fiery displays is not going to combust if the lantern was nearby, neither does it give of a flammable gas so we should be ok.
The main shaft led along to two smaller side mined shafts. Before heading to the northern one, we did hear squeaks and trills from further down the corridor which the druid assured us were bats; not an uncommon occurrence. Bolstered by this, we explored the northern shaft cautiously. The ground had a smattering of gravel upon it, making footing dangerous but not unpassable. The passage though ended eventually with no sign of Fingelt’s people so we returned to the main corridor to explore the next shaft.
The south shaft had a 2” drop about four feet into the corridor and it sloped down at almost 10^. Why would they leave a curb like that there? To make matters more confusing, there was a wheelbarrow dumped on its side just past the curb, facing the main shaft. Spilled stones and little more were there. After making absolutely sure there was no issue, we moved down the shaft and followed the corridor and vein of stone until it eventually split in two directions.
The first corridor ended normal at a grey veiny deposit of iron ore so we went back and followed the 2nd corridor but as we were progressing the two dwarves started to get confused and slowed down. Also, the lantern seemed to be shining brighter. It became more labored to breathe and we all backpedaled, turning to race away from the area. As we crawled up the slope both Dizzy and Merica slumped over and started hacking and coughing, choking up gobs of phlegm and vomit for a few minutes until our lungs cleared and we were able to move without problem again.
Deciding that there was a pocket of slow gas in that shaft we opted to stay out of it for now and head further to the end of the 2nd level where the bat noises were. There was a natural pocket at the end of the tracks, almost 12” tall in the center with a few small stalactites hanging down. Gypsum and crusty yellow quartz were collecting on the walls and the floor had a scattering of brown raisin-like deposits littering it. The sounds of bats were louder and we could see there was a natural fissure in the rock along the south-east wall of the chamber where a wavering yellow-blue light glowing from it.
Dizzy opted to go an explore, the dwarven cleric/thief sneaking his way along the main chamber until he arrived at the wide fissure, peering in he was able to see well over 100 bats in the area, each of them about the size of a small squirrel. One was much larger, almost 20” in height but was the same species as the others. His presence did disturb them, but not enough to cause them to take flight. So he backed out and told the group of his findings.
This led to Avulstein and Einar to discuss the merits of bats as druidic companions as well as necromantic minions. While the discussed the possibility of actually catching a bat or two, the necromancer was gathering up a vial full of bat guano before conceding that the druid can get the larger bat if he could charm it, while he would settle for a number of the smaller ones. Throughout it all, Dizzy let us know that he had a way to bottle up the bats from crossing a barrier blessed by Sif that he could create to repel vermin (which includes bats!).
With a plan in place Dizzy cast his spell which caught a few of the bats in its range, making them squeal loudly as they tried to escape. This excited the rest of the bats who also then started to take flight but were bottled up in the narrow fissure thanks to the spell. The ones that did make it out though were hit by Connal’s quarterstaff and one of them was also snagged by an open cloak used as a net by the necromancer who smothered the shrilling mammal by hugging it tight to his chest under the cloak.
And then the big one took flight, passed through the barrier and was winging towards the party when Einar called out to Frey to charm this flying animal…and it worked! The giant bat alighted near the druid and the two of them proceeded to communicate their mutual assurance to one another.
Meanwhile the rest of the bats were worrying themselves sick and some of them had fallen to the floor of the cave where Avulstein swept them up (after making sure they were dead) and placed them in his backpack (18-20 of them!). He them prepared his own spells and recited the arcanic words until…two of the smaller once dead bats fluttered and came back to unlife! Animated a dead small animal. His minions in place we assumed we were done here and left the area, heading back to the elevator and making our way down to the 3rd level, arriving a bit after 9 AM.
There was another pivot metal walkway that we snagged over and crossed. A pile of dross stone with some yellowy slivers mixed in were here in a pile. We started to look it over and stopped…the sliver and chunks of yellowy material were bone. And they had splintered and gnaw marks all over them.
We took out our 2nd hurricane lantern and lit it, then drew weapons and started walking down the corridor looking carefully. About 20 paces in we came upon a section of the cart tracks that was fairly messed up; the ties were askew and the rails were out or square. There was a side corridor going north to a larger area but we were uncomfortable. The group stopped and Larry hid the lantern so that the dwarves could use their infravision for a peak.
The corridor was fine, no hear sources – but the south wall across from the opening on the north wall and just past the messed up tracks had the telltale glow of body heat coming from it in fits and cracks, broken up from the stone. What was it? The stone? Too hot? No, body heat temperature and it was close. Something on the other side of the wall? Most likely.
The lantern was brought forward and we shone it on the wall, and both dwarves let us know that the wall was a concealed opening covered with stacked stones and given a thin coat of water and grit/gravel/sand to disguise it.
And then we heard something on the other side of the wall move away with a heavy slow ponderous dragging gait.
We all backed up and discussed what we saw. Further checks with our infravision showed the heat source had faded and then left. So we broke out picks and assaulted the wall while a number of us had weapons out and ready. It came down in small chunks until we had an opening a few square feet large that we could look through.
There was a natural cave through here, with more piled stones at the far side, beyond that the corridor “Y”ed but we couldn’t see beyond that or what the figure might be. The smell though, was earthy, foul, and made us gag.
Assured the figure was elsewhere we all made sure weapons and shields were out and pressed on, heading towards the end of the corridor. The mine cart was here but it was the space beyond that caused the party’s heart to grow cold. The area was festooned with torn body parts and bits of viscera from at least 10 different beings. Shredded guts and clothing, tossed tools and boots, it looked like a mad dog shook its food all over the place. But this was most likely Fingelt’s people.
A 5’x5’x8’ crate with air holes was here, the side of it burst open as if something inside broke free. The reek of a charnel house was terrible and after getting ourselves under control we went to the bottle of licorice tonic water we had found from the camp and smeared it under all our noses to mute and mask the terrible smell.
A few notes that we did catch before entering to examine the area – the number of bodies might have been ten, but the amount left if swept together would barely cover one to say nothing of two people. There was also a torn bit from a green tabard that was too ornamental and clean to have part of the mining camp’s clothing. We were going to go check it out but always be aware there was something big down here. Something with us. And it killed all these miners.