Date: 5/19-27/1479 DR
Taking the lift down the secret shaft in Fortress Ironfell, the Outsiders had finally found the Lost Mines of Karak. In the caves, they found the way lit by red glowing veins in the walls, which seemed to weaken them when touched. The caves were very well guarded, raising suspicion, and the deeper they went, the thicker the veins of glowing red rock ran. In a large room, they found the fallen bodies of many dwarves who looked like they’d slain each other in a fit of rage. The various branches of the paths took them deeper underground and they could almost feel chaotic urges coming over them and soon there aws no doubt as to why the Dwarves had killed each other. Finally, they found the real Queen of the Drylands, a huge Naga. The battle against her was brutal but they finally prevailed, and also discovered who was funding the new mining of the Karak Load.
Deep in the basement of the Ironfell FortressThe Outsiders all stepped onto the lift and lowered themselves down into the mine shaft. As they descended beneath it, Searynox reached up with the Ironfell Signet Ring and used it to close the secret passage above their heads. They descended deeper underground, finally coming to rest in the Mine Entrance. The finished stone chamber was piled high with ore carts, storage bins, shoring timbers, and spare parts for the hoist system. The walls were interlaced through with dark red veins of stone which pulsed with a dull light. The cleric reached up and poked the red vein and found his finger growing a little weak. They decided that avoiding the walls was the best idea, but it did allow them to see in the dark.
Elarinya crept forward towards the bend and peaked around. She saw 3 troglodyte guards patroling the hall beyond another lowered portcullis (what was up with the dwarves and their portcullises?). Also, something about the wall in front of the porcullis seemed “off” somehow, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. So she indicated the opposition to her companions and then knocked her bow and killed 2 of the guards. As she stepped forward a couple of poisoned darts shot out of the wall and struck her. Before anyone else could trigger the trap, Vylify quickly whipped up a pair of walking scissors to cut all of the trip wires, making it safe for the group to approach the portcullis. The artificer used the Ironfell ring to raise the portcullis and then they finished off the other troglodytes, at least that’s what they thought until Damaia stepped in front of the guardroom door and 1 last guard dashed out to attack her.
Once they’d taken care of all of the guards in the entrance they began searching through the mine. There were plenty of side shafts, but recent tracks led them down the northeast passage. The caverns showed signs of recent mining, but not on the same scale as that which the dwarves used to do. Suddenly it occurred to the Eladrin that he’d seen ore like this used before at Umbraforge. Now they knew that Sarshan had to be backing this operation. As they wandered through the mines, they kept coming upon dwarf skeletons strewn across the rocky ground, rusted weapons lying nearby. It looked like the dwarves had slain each other. Strangely enough, most of the Dwarven bodies were also missing their heads.
As they rounded the bend, a vast gallery opened up where the Dwarves had once worked, their long-rotted bodies scattered across the wide cavern. One prominent vein of the strange, red-glowing stone crossed the floor and climbed up the walls, it’s cold light pulsing brightly. As they stepped into the cavern, Rinya noticed the shaggy head of a huge beast ducking back. She signalled her companions and they spread out ready for an attack. Just as they did, a bloodweb spider swarm skittered closer in the darkness and a corpse of a long-dead dwarf climbed out of the rubble near part of the red-vein (maybe the magic in the vein had raised it). The elf danced back away from the spiders and found herself facing a Carrion Crawler protecting her clutch of eggs. They must have killed the “daddy” upstairs, she thouht. While everyone was occupied, the shaggy Barlgura dashed in to help it’s minions. It was a tough fight, with the Outsiders trying their best to avoid stepping on the glowing stone, which weakened them, but which seemed to strenghten the monsters. When the opposition finally fell, they took the time to search the caverns and found signs of more mining in this area as well.
Once again they followed the well worn path deeper into the mines. This time their path led them to a circular cavern which showed signs of excavation on the far side, however the way ahead was blocked by a wide crevice which dropped about 20 feet. The bottom of the crevice pulsed with a lurid purple-red glow. It seemed to be bubbling magma, but it was shot through with vibrant hues of purple… just like the magma near Umbraforge. From her studies, Damaia recognized it as a gate to the Elemental Chaos, which explained the veins of Blood Chaos which were running through the mines. A rift like this would have driven the dwarves insane and would explain why they had killed each other. As they stood in the room, they could almost feel the rift encouraging them to commit violence. On the opposite side of the crevice stood a red-skinned demon and behind it rose a 10 foot tall gruesome nest of skulls. Coiled atop the hundreds of dwarven skulls was a huge Naga, the true “”/campaigns/scales-of-war-campaign/characters/shephatiah" class=“wiki-content-link”>Queen of the Drylands."
Before the group could move far enough to get across the chasm, the Mezodemon poisoned everyone except Searynox, who couldn’t move as far as the others.
A long and painful battle ensued where the Dragonborn was propelled into the chasm with a flick of the Naga’s tail, but luck was on his side and landed on a small lip before falling into the Blood Chaos. He was then able to climb to safety. With almost no healing surges left, and only at-will powers at their disposal, Queen Shephatiah finally fell to her death in the Elemental Chaos.
Heaving a sigh of relief the group began searching the room. Within the Naga’s nasty nest they discovered a nice cache of gems and gold, but they also found some scrolls written in Deep Speech. The parchments detailed how Shephatiah had discovered the portal leading to the Karak Lode during a sojourn within the Elemental Chaos. They also made reference to the reopening of the mines being financed by a group that the missives did not name, but which was led by The Emissary. These unknown masters had claimed the wealth of the Karak Lode for themselves, and had the wealth shipped to them by way of the elemental rift. While the parchments indicated that this group intended to ramp up production in the mines in response to an increasing need for ore, the cryptic notes indicated that Shephatiah herself didn’t know the identity of those she worked for. There is nothing more of use that the Outsiders can find in the Queen’s lair.
After an extended rest, they discover that the sand storm had ceased and the dunes outside looked peaceful. Anyone who was in the Queen’s employ must have realized that she was dead and had fled back to their lairs. The PC’s had a peaceful trip back to Dunesend, easily retracing their steps by the landmarks. Once the village learned of the death of the Queen, they threw a huge feast for the group. The next morning, after everyone got over their hangover, the village supplied the Outsiders with enough supplies for their return trip to Overlook. Now that the trade routes were open again, the villagers hoped that they might see the group again.
The group continued south through the Thornwaste, they didn’t see Mag Blackthorn again, but they did feel as if someone was watching over them. They encountered no monsters in the forest either as they traveled.
About a day out from Overlook, a huge thunderstorm whipped up from the coast and they were forced to seek shelter. They encountered a small farming community and Farmer Collob put them up for the night in his barn. The next morning the sky was clear again and Vylify ended his Trance early to wander outside. From a distance he watched Farmer Collob gazing longing through a hole in the pasture fence at his neighbor’s thoroughbred horses. When the Eladrin asked him about it, the farmer guiltily admitted that his neighbor bred the finest horses, but the cost of one was beyond his means. He admitted that he should repair his fence, but just “hasn’t had the time.” The artificer knew better…. They thanked the farmer for his hospitality and continued on the road, hoping to make it to the city before dark.
Just before the sun set, they joined the throngs of people pouring into Overlook.