2. Dwarven Mining Camp – 10th July 2015
The next day dawned, and the dwarves were already up, despite having spent the evening trying to locate their kin in the city; Whurdek Kral. It seemed like it was going to take them longer to find them than they had anticipated, and urged the group to head on to the mining camp. Hamlet especially wanted to press on as quickly as possible, for his wife was staying there. He and the others had moved to the Seven Pillared Hall in order to make more money, but they had felt it too dangerous a place for Vallin, his wife, and so she had stayed with her brother at the mining camp. He urged Morrak to press on, for he couldn’t leave the group at Fallcrest, and they would meet up with them afterwards, hoping to be reunited with his wife at last.
Such was the urgency felt by the dwarves to retake their home that the group were given no time to properly look around Fallcrest, only getting basic supply rations before they headed out onto the western route towards Winterhaven, bypassing it and on to the base of the Cairngorm Peaks where the dwarven mining camp was located.
Dwarven Mining Camp
It was a long journey from their original starting point of Fallcrest, but after days of trudging through dirt they finally reach the dwarven mining camp. Sitting at the base of the Cairngorm Peaks, one side of the camp is a steep rock-face while the other is made up of large heaps of rocks that seem partially natural and partially the result of mining in the area with shrubbery and trees on the other side.
The road runs through the middle of the camp, with large tents on either side that house the workers, along with a fire for cooking and what appears to be a rudimentary stable. There are piles of large logs stacked within the camp, some have been used to reinforced either end of the camp, likely against attackers, while others have been shaped to be used as props in the mine.
The camp has a few dwarves working around the area, all of whom look exhausted and downtrodden, though a couple of them spot you immediately, having been watching the surrounding area while eating. As soon as they saw the group, a shout went up and more dwarves emerge from tents and the mine itself, and you can see they are both wary and potentially hostile to outsiders.
However as soon as they see some of their own, hostility turns to surprise and joy and they rush forward to greet their kin. More dwarves soon come from within the mine to join the greeting.
Morrak in particular was relieved to find Vallin in good health, along with her brother Gillond, whose cheerful demeanor was a welcome sight.
News from the camp was not great however, for it seemed that not only were they making a poor income here, but they were also being attacked by the undead each night with increasingly large numbers. The undead, it was said, seemed to be coming from the south-eastern direction of the Lake Wintermist. Despite this, they had been determined not to move from the camp, having already been displaced from a home once already. It was with overall positivity and a new-found optimism that was brought about in the mining camp then when they were told of the plans to retake their home that lay in the mountains to the west.
So it was that the group and the dwarves of the camp chatted, catching up with what had been going on since they had last met. Elwen took the time to sell one of her many talismans to Torthen, a quiet grey-bearded dwarf who had many tattoos. He had seemed dubious over it, but for 5 silver he gained a talisman that would help him avoid stubbing his toes, or that was what she claimed it did.
Nearby, Corvar had noticed that one of the dwarves, Thurthic, who had been pointed out to be Morrak’s cousin, was looking pretty angry and frustrated. His gaze kept returning to one of the female dwarves in the camp, Azdeth, and it was decided that he was sexually frustrated for wont of her. Whether through a genuine attempt at aiding the dwarf, or merely for some amusement, he offered to lend his hat to him, in order that he might change how he looked to see if that worked to try and get her into his tent. This could have gone fairly horribly wrong, for in truth it was about as clear as saying the dwarf was ugly, and for one as muscled and angry as this one was, things could have gone pretty badly for the Kenku.
Luck was perhaps on his side though, or his perception of the situation proved impeccable, for instead of taking offence, Thurthic did indeed borrow the hat and head on over to Azdeth. Sadly for him, his tactics for this attempt were somewhat poor, for he merely went up to her and said “It’s me, Thurthic, want to have sex?” and promptly got punched in the face. Dwarven women, it seemed, were not as mild mannered in public as humans it seems.
Seeing this tactic didn’t work, Corvar was then considering that either Azdeth didn’t actually like Thurthic’s personality, or she was of a different way inclined. Mentioning this to Thurthic, he immediately changed himself into the visage of Hamlet’s wife Vallin. Vallin, even covered in mining dust, is beautiful and has a shining full beard, something I am told that is highly prized in dwarven communities. The dwarves of the camp are both confused and amused by the change, while Thurthic seemed to have temporarily forgotten his drive to go try and get Azdeth into his tent, and was instead feeling himself up.
Corvar, visibly amused but perhaps worried that he wouldn’t get his hat returned, gets Ayanna to steal it back from Thurthic, who is left bereft of his recent female additions and is, if anything, even more sexually frustrated than ever.
With the camp having had some light relief, talk then turned to the packing up of the camp. There was no way that such a substantial camp could be cleared away and have them headed out before dark, and it was said that after dark was when the dead tended to attack. So it was decided that they would both help pack things, while others of the group would help reinforce the defences for the evening and head off the next day.
So the group helps pack and better the defences, reinforcing barricades and cutting back some undergrowth to give a better line of sight for those who were taking watch. Sufjan was the only person who wasn’t helping with this, and instead spent the rest of the day boasting of his skills and prowess to the dwarves, who seemed unimpressed by his tales.
By the time night falls, with so many hands helping, all the packing except for the tents is done and safely stored in by the mine for moving the next day. Exhausted, the group heads to sleep, but they were not long for such rest, for in the middle of the night the undead attacked!
Out of the trees to the south of camp the undead came. With the undergrowth cut back and the extra barricades, it gave the watch more notice of the arrival, and people were able to rouse themselves from slumber and haul on their armour before the undead were fully upon them. Unexpectedly, Heskan leaped out of the stable, despite having not been with the group on the journey to the mining camp. He charged into battle along with them.
The groups split themselves generally between the two sides of the camp where the undead were most likely to get through from, since the high pile of stone and rubble was it’s own defence.
It was a mixture of skeletons and ghouls that attacked the camp, led by a strong skeleton archer who managed to scramble up on top of the rubble pile despite the poor footing the terrain gave. Heskan and Thurthic both charged on the west alongside Gillond, with Sufjan, Ayanna and Elwen backing them up. On the east side it was Azdeth, having picked the side of the camp where Thurthic was absent, (and who could really blame her?) alongside Torthen, Morrak and Brannoch. Corvar, Vallin and Ulrik stayed near the center of camp, focused on the skeletal boss on the rubble and aiding both sides. Gillond’s attacks were fairly notable due to the fact that he wielded a mace that was shaped like a large solid goblet and often accompanied by cheering when he managed a hit.
The press of the undead was strong, far stronger than the dwarves here had seen before, and it was not immediately clear whether they would make it through the night unscathed. The east side, even with the aid of Ulrik’s landshark, was being sorely pressed, with the barricade soon becoming partially broken, allowing a ghoul to get through. The ghouls in particular were vicious, leaving Heskan with an exceedingly nasty wound to his tail, killing Elwen’s pet toad Thunderburker, and nearly killing Torthen, who suffered a mild stroke and staggered into a nearby tent. The ghouls also managed to hit Ulrik for damage that was horrific, leaving him with an ailment that seemed to paralyze.
Morrak was also hampered, but not by wounds, but by the slow speed he seemed to have at being woken up without full rest. This, however, left him well placed when leaving his tent to help Ulrik, along with Vallin’s aid. He pushed back the ghoul, and and did considerable damage to it along with others until it retreated, disappearing into a tent. Seeing the dire state that the east side was in, he called to Vallin to get away from the tents, and ran over to help Azdeth who, despite her considerable skill in arms, was greatly outnumbered.
This proved to be a poor decision, or perhaps there would have been no good decision in the circumstance. Either way, before Vallin was able to retreat to a safer distance, the ghoul, which had seemed heartily damaged and intent on staying there, lept out and pounced upon Vallin, rendering her to the ground and struggling with consciousness. Morrak, already caught in combat, cried out in anguish, knowing he could not get back over there in time, shouting to all those in earshot to help her.
It was then that Corvar’s skill with disguise and quick-thinking came into good use, for he changed himself to look like the skeleton boss, using his mimicry to even change his voice and tried to get the undead to believe that he was their leader. Although this was initially of dubious success, he did manage to get the ghouls that were attacking Vallin to go into the tent and dance. When they were out of sight, Ulrik moved to stabilize Vallin with the help of Corvar while the rest rally and push back the undead, or rather, slaughter them, with Heskan getting the killing blow on the boss skeleton.
Only the ghouls in the tent left, it was soon discovered, much to their chagrin, that they had managed to dig their way out through the back of the tent and through the rubble pile to freedom. Ghouls, it is said, tend to follow after prey that got away, and so they slept lightly, knowing that until they reached the safety of their home, or dealt with the ghouls, they may well end up meeting them again another night.
The group carefully collapsed the makeshift passage and settled in for what little of the night they had after healing the wounded. Morrak was visibly hovering around Vallin, worry and guilt in his eyes over her near-death experience. Despite their worries over the ghouls, the rest of the night was swiftly gone without incident.