Darian Earthrok, hero of Sing’jar, survivor of the orc invasion, made big news when he registered as an exploration company. He stood on the railing of the mayor’s porch and addressed the gathered people who followed him to the mayor’s mansion, addressing the crowd in a bold voice:
The destruction in the hills has opened the doors to raiders and theives from all directions. The mayors decree to register explorers is fair…her concerns about not letting evil artifacts be freely traded in the city is prudent. But the plundering of the ancient homes of the dwarves is no better than pillaging and defiling the dead!
Dwarves do not break down the doors of your temples and steal your silver…we do not wrench open the coffins of your mothers and fathers to steal their burial gold! Is it this double standard that dwarves must suffer because parts of their homes are unnocupied now? Think! Consider how you want your neightbors to respect your family after you die…act with respect.
I form this exploration company to learn about our fathers below so as we can appreciate our lives above the more! Their works in the name of Moradin and the blessed family of the ancients should be curated, not smelted! Help me set an example of how to learn from the old tunnels of my fathers and treat them with repect and honor.
And Darian hired dozens of explorers, paying them 10 gold a week in hopes that they would not be sneaking treasures out and sell artifacts to other agents in town.
Our new party was eager to work:
- Cador Slatefoot, Dwarven cleric, devoted to Moradin
- Thardis the Minotar fighter
- Vazas the Dragonborn sorcerer
They were lead into the North Cavepool tunnels by Craynor Blacklap, an experienced human fighter. This entrance was hidden: covered by a large pile of fallen bolders. An entrance narrow enough that Thardis had to crawl through.
Tunnels lead to very large rooms, very large, with signs of ancient occupation. One room had a statue of a demon whos ruby eyes were clearly attempted to stolen, but the floor was littered with brittle, rusty tools and scrapes around the eye sockets. A deep fissure would blow cold air with a mournfull trumpet sound. A hallway with shriveled corpses spiked to the walls. Giant rats, eager for fresh visitors. A skeletal snake that projected a nest of jems. A pair of zombees that seemed to wander up from below years previously. A torture chamber littered with rusty surgical tools and human bones. Footprints of some human were seen leading to the second level, as well.
This few hours of spooky exploring in the entrance level of the Cavepool North entrance definitely took everyone’s minds off their struggles topside. But they returned, having dutifully mbrought back the gems they magically marked to issue to the controller.
But there was no controller back at camp. There was nearly no camp! A sad looking dwarf, Bluestone, spoke with Craynor about how Darian was evicted by the mayor’s tax collectors for not renewing his company license, and word was out that Darian ran out of cash by paying his explorers so much. Darian went on the move that morning and was no doubt lost below the hills somewhere.
Bluestone and Clark set abou
t discussing how to incorporate their own exploration company, the two of them being experienced at it, having been through many tunnels in the Large Entrance. Bluestone explained how the magic marks from the making scrolls they were issued could be expunged, if necessary, but selling items without company markers could be dangerous if you ended up selling to a sheriff’s agent.
As they settled into dinner, sitting around the fire that evening, Thardis noticed movement and pointed it out. Bluestone started talking overly loud, covering the quiet planning of the other members of the party whilst calmly wrapping his war hammer in a burlap bad and pouring oil on it. Behind a small hill, six humans crouched and popped their heads up occasionally, planning a raid on our party.
Thardis met them boldly and swept his glaive madly, chopping and hacking. Craynor stood before the Vazas, who unleashed a thunder wave, crippling most of the bandits. Cador rushed to Thardis’ aide before long, having been felled early in battle. From behind, came Bluestone with his flaming war hammer and beat the remaining bandits to their deaths.
As they recovered from the attack, they all agreed that they fought well together, and they would probably survive better in the tunnels than constantly surrounded by theives on all sides above ground. Craynor and Bluestone agreed to travel to the mayor’s office and register as an exploration company the next morning.