It was a most memorable chain of events for some members of the Unchained. During a lull in training at the Reach, Skram, Vridich and Dremnin decided to take the Dashing Stag and go on a search for a lost crystal mine that Dremnin had read about while studying the Geography of Barsaive. It had been while he was perusing the ancient maps taken from the ruins of Parlainth that Dremnin discovered a tiny, hand written notation showing the location of a crystal mine in the Twilight Peaks. The trolls of the Reach were masters in working crystal, so the idea of a lost mine struck Dremnin as a way to add much to the income stream of the Unchained, and provide some adventure as well. The small group was not to be disappointed.
The three adventurers set forth on a clear day, with high hopes to find what had been lost since before the Scourge swept the face of Barsaive. With unerring accuracy and a steady hand on the ship’s wheel, as though guided by the Passions themselves, Dremnin fought the treacherous wind currents and violent storms of the mountains to arrive at a site he felt must be close to the noted location of the lost mine. As acting Captain, Skram saw to it that the ship was firmly anchored between some ancient pines, while Dremnin began to conduct an analysis of the overall area. When joined by Skram, the two friends managed to narrow down the search area to one fifth the original size, and then set about their search for the entrance. The area was covered in snow and ice so deep that in some cases, only the very tops of some of the ancient pines showed themselves. With bitter cold winds whipping around them, and wearing their common magic cloaks to help protect them against the elements, the two set out to conduct a pattern search of a grid network Dremnin had laid out.
For over three hours the pair of seekers checked areas of the pattern without success. They went back to the ship where Vridich waited, handing Dremnin and Skram each a steaming mug of hot cocoa and allowing them to warm themselves by the galley stove. As they thawed themselves, they spoke of the pattern search they had made so far, and planned their next round of attempts with the hope of success driving them onwards.
With daylight fading quickly, Dremnin finally hit pay dirt. He found the edge of a rocky outcropping that made the Scout’s senses feel the need to dig down into the snow and ice at a particular place. With renewed energy he dug quickly, like a man possessed, as the snow and ice piled up behind him. Skram came over and watched Dremnin dig for a moment, then when he realized that this was not just the regular searching, he jumped in began helping the scout push the excavation materials to the side as Dremnin dug deeper. With a whoop Dremnin announced he was through and into the beginning of a cave. He stepped down into the dark interior and pulled out his light crystal, which illuminated a small entranceway. The light gleamed and reflected off of what appeared to be crystals in the walls, and Dremnin knew that they had succeeded! Coming up to look out the hole they had dug, he yelled up at Skram, “Let’s go back to the ship and get Vridich so that we can explore this cavern.” The wide grin on Dremnin’s face was returned 10 fold by the T’Skrang Tail Dancer’s toothy smile as Skram leaned down and helped his friend back up out of the earth. The scout marked the spot with rocks so as to be able to find it easily again.
The pair then wasted no time getting back to the ship and informed Vridich, the Unchained’s elven Nethermancer, of what they had found. “I looked in Astral Sight, Vridich, but saw no evidence of Horror taint inside the cavern, but I wanted you to make sure before we all go traipsing inside”, the young human said to the elf. Quaffing down some more hot cocoa, Skram and Dremnin eagerly gathered their adventuring gear, including ropes and climbing equipment, knowing that spelunking had its own special needs in order to be a successful experience. As they stood on the deck, Dremnin’s sharp eyes spied a very unusual sight high above them in the cold, clear air of the highest Peaks. He’d spotted what looked like a giant dragon fly, but it had to be 80 feet long! Its wings shimmered like jewels in the fading light of day as it headed off to the south. He pointed it out to his companions, and Vridich announced it to be a creature called a Prisma. By the Passions, a sign of good fortune must surely mean their endeavor was blessed. With excited talk of what might lie beneath the mountain, the trio set out to explore the site that had supposedly been lost to Name Givers since before the time of the Scourge.
When they arrived at the entrance to the mine, they discovered somber evidence that told them that something had found Dremnin’s rock markers, and had entered the mine in the interim since they had left the entrance not long before. After looking at the evidence at the mine’s entrance, Dremnin muttered that a group of about eight Ice Flyers had landed and gone inside. With his light handy, the Scout slipped down inside the mine’s entrance and then performed the talent knack known as Shadow Hide, which would allow him to move slowly in the darkened interior of the mine without being seen by the flying baboon-like creatures.
Skram was soon moving cautiously up behind the Scout, with the T’Skrang carrying their lantern, and Vridich bringing up the rear. Using another Scout talent knack called Astral Tracking, Dremnin could clearly see the footprints and evidence of the passing group of Ice Flyers as they moved into the mine. As Skram left the narrow entranceway, he came into a vast chamber where the light showed paths of stone winding among crevices that dropped off into nothingness. They were now apparently in the main chamber of the mine, where the rays of their light caused reflections to shimmer off of crystals embedded in the rock all around them as far as the light travelled. Here indeed was the lost mine!
Dremnin, while following the tracks of Ice Flyers on foot, had turned to the right along one path ahead of Skram, where he heard the distant hooting sounds made by at least one of the Ice Flyers. He motioned to Skram that he had heard something, but it was at that moment that four Ice Flyers rose up from the crevice to Skram’s left and began barking their loud challenges at the Tail Dancer. As Skram moved to engage the incoming Ice Flyers with the Hammer of Upandaal, Dremnin loosed a four foot shaft from his ancient war bow Ozidani Carranasto. The shaft hit the Ice Flyer true, causing the flying simian to screech in pain and to drop helplessly crippled into the crevice below him. His howls of pain and the sounds of breaking crystal shards followed him down into the inky blackness below. For his part, Skram used one of his abilities to suddenly shine in the darkness with a sparkling, blinding brilliance which halted the Ice Flyer’s flying charge, and while they paused in blinded confusion, he smashed one with his great hammer and sent the now crippled ape falling after his partner into the depths.
The elven Nethermancer, Vridich, was not to be outdone by his compatriots, and he carefully targeted a third Ice Flyer with an Astral Spear spell and dropped the creature dead in his tracks, though this ape was flying over the stone path when he died, so he flopped onto the stone path with a very satisfying thump. A satisfied smile showed on the elf’s face, and he turned to see what else was happening with Skram and Dremnin.
Hearing movement behind him, the Scout was about to turn and face the path behind him when an Ice Flyer emerged and used one of its spell abilities on Dremnin to cause him to be encased in icy bonds that prevented any physical actions. His attempt to use the talent Steel Thought and avoid the ape’s spell ability failed, and this both surprised and frustrated the young human, as fetters of any kind were a reminder of his past as a slave. But the bonds held him fast as yet another Ice Flyer emerged from that dark pathway, and the entangled Scout now received a vicious bite from his enemy. Seeing his friend’s predicament, Skram moved quickly to try and help cover Dremnin, and used his great hammer to smash a mighty blow into one of the attacking Ice Flyers, knocking him out of the air and into a small pool of water. However, the second Ice Flyer used the same ability on Skram that had worked on Dremnin, and both Name Givers now found themselves encased in icy bonds. Only using their individual strength would help them break free.
In the meantime, Vridich had moved up to assist Skram and was set upon from behind by the surviving Ice Flyer from the four that had originally attacked the Skram. Once again an Astral Spear spell lashed out and impaled the Ice Flyer, knocking him to the ground with a thud and a howl of terrible pain. With the battle going against them, and with Dremnin now managing to get free of his icy bonds at last, the remaining Ice Flyers flew away from the Unchained into the darkness. As the trio of heroes tried to follow them through the mine’s pathways, the Ice Flyers used their greater mobility to flee the scene and leave the Unchained in sole possession of the mine. The battle for the mine was over.
Seeing that they were all pretty much intact and none the worse for wear, they bandaged Dremnin’s bite wound and began to explore the mine. The pathways led them in twisting, turning directions, up and down, sometimes passing over or under each other, past huge outcroppings of beautiful seams of crystal, running like rivers of sparkling glass inside the rock. They also found evidence of the original miners, with several chambers that had once served as living questers, meeting rooms, dining halls, and more. Of great interest to the Unchained were the artifacts they found, cups and plates, and other simple creations which showed that the miners were in fact Windlings! Then in one of the meeting rooms Dremnin found an exquisite blue crystal approximately two feet in length and weighing at least 20 pounds. This crystal was some sort of magical artifact, but at the time they had no idea what it was, so they saved it for later research. Their dwarven Travelled Scholar, Fafnir, would later declare it to be a Dragon Memory Crystal, a mighty prize indeed.
To Be Continued…
Questor of Astendar