Redeemers of Agasteel: Last Rites Part 1
Lucian Huang, at your service. I am but a humble servant of Deneir on my own quest from my late master. I found refuge in the city of Orm in this treacherous land of Agasteel. Carried close on a chain at my waist is a diary filled with the scrawlings of a language I don’t recognize. I seek knowledge and the answers the book holds. Why did my master have this and why did he leave it to me? To find out, I’ve contracted my aid to Orm’s Adventure’s Guild.
Tully Blacksmith was expecting his tin shipment a fortnight ago. Rumors are the old hermit dwarf that lives in the mine went crazy and slaughtered the caravan picking up the shipment. His name’s Harmon, and most people say he’s a harmless, bumbling old fool.
Journeying with me are two rangers, a bard, and two druids. I feel one of the rangers, Black Blood, is annoyed at my pious behavior, and the other is a backwoods elf named Rolen Beauregard Honeyshine. This particular specimen stinks of alcohol and has the vocabulary of a toddler. The bard, Professor Basil, is a scholarly gentleman like myself. He is enamored with everyday goings on that he can fill the blank pages of his journal. The Druid Imrel is a half-elf fellow and smells of dogs. The other, a halfling named Milo, is always engrossed in his book, a small tome called “Wild Shaping Abridged.”
We set off to the East toward the mine, a ranger flanking the front, Rolen, and rear, Black Blood, of our party. In the distance, Rolen called out that four large ant creatures were approaching.
“I’m gonna shoot ‘em!” he called back.
“We do not know if they are hostile. There is no need to spill innocent blood this day.” I replied.
He must have had honey in his ears because he didn’t listen to me. He fired his bow with a loud “yeehaw!” and struck one of the ants. It clicked in anger and all four bared down on us. The others readied their arms. I sat in the grass to meditate and ask Deneir to forgive these imbiciles.
“What are you doing? We’ve got a problem!” Black Blood shouted at me.
“I refuse to strike creatures of innocence.”
“They have fangs! And they’re attacking!”
“But alas, one of our own struck first. We did not know their intentions. I will not participate in this.”
I made the sign of the eye with my hand dotting around my face. “Deneir forgive.”
The others continued to assault the ants.
“Perhaps I may spare as much innocent blood as I can.” I sighed. “Deneir! Lend me your aid in this time of need. Call down thunder to end this pointless squabble!”
A loud boom echoed in the grasslands, and two of the ants turned face and ran. The remaining two were quickly killed by my compatriots.
“Hey! This here’s good eatin!” Rolen called back, plucking his arrows from its carapace.
“I have no desire to consume innocent blood.”
“More for me then!”
I knelt and offered my prayers for their peaceful rest.
We journeyed on a short way until we came to the mine. Two horse lay unmoving on either side of the road, blood pooling under their bodies, and its cart tipped over and caked with mud.
“Oh, have mercy!” I knelt by one of the horses and laid my hands on the poor slain beast. There was no life left. A dart shot from an unseen location skimmed past my left cheek.
“Watch it!” Black Blood yelled. “You’re going to get yourself killed.”
“My well-being comes second to the aid of others.”
“Well, you didn’t help us kill those ants.”
“That was a fool’s folly brought on by your own selves. Alas, these poor creatures are dead.”
“This doesn’t look good for Harmon,” said Imrel. “If the horses are dead and the people missing… maybe the old Dwarf did go crazy after all.”
“It’s a narrow path down,” said Black Blood, peeking into the mine’s opening. “If there are traps on the carts, there sure is hell traps inside.”
We filed in one after another, the two rangers flanking us again and running their hands along the walls. Sure enough, Rolen found two taut ropes partially buried in the dirt hooked to a large axe rigged into the ceiling.
“Oh, I got this!” he said, lighting a candle and dropping it onto the ropes. It burned but didn’t break the ropes.
“Hey,” Imrel said. “I’m hearing whispers. Draconic though, not Dwarven.”
“Draconic?” Squeaked Milo. “What’s here then?”
A rush of footsteps echoed in the corridor.
“We’re being surrounded! Kobolds!” Imrel yelled. He cast a gust of wind and put out the fire.
A whooshing sound ended with glass shattering where the candle lay lit a second ago.
“Those darn kobolds just threw oil. They tryna barbeque us!”
Eight kobolds swarmed us on both sides. Rolen traded shots with those in the cave while ducking back in between. Those of us with ranged weapons shot arrows at the four closing in on us from the entrance. Milo lit up the ones at the entrance with fairy fire, but otherwise, sat trying to read his book with hurried frustration.
“They won’t get close enough,” Imrel grumbled.
“Dishonorable cowards!” I yelled, holding up my mace. “You will COME!”
As if in a trance, one of the kobolds at the entrance walked to just in front of Black Blood. He tripped on a stone and fell prostrate. We dispatched them easily enough and took the left fork into the cave. A foul stench grew stronger.
“It’s poop.” Rolen laughed.
Another fork. We checked for more traps and disarmed more rope. These kobolds have a cowardly way of doing things. If you mean to do a mortal harm, you must face them with honor. We took another left into a locked door. Puny wooden doors are no match for brute force. Rolen shoved into it shoulder first and broke it clean off its hinges. The stench increased ten fold and we all wrinkled our noses.
Inside, two men were tied with ropes laying near piles of fecal matter. They had Tully Blacksmith’s insignia’s on their lapels. These were the missing men. We hurried over and undid their tethers. I pulled out some food and handed it to them.
“We were ambushed by kobolds.”
“What about the dwarf? Harmon?”
“We haven’t seen him.”
We traded glances. Rolen gave them each a hand axe and they headed back out of the cave, stepping over the dead kobolds. We turned and made our way down the right fork to another locked door. Black Blood found a poison-tipped needle in the handle, but that didn’t matter, he broke the door down with a hefty shoulder shove.
The heat from the room licked our faces when the door clattered to the floor. Two kobolds wearing chain mail too big for them hammered on some shoddy axes by the forge. We made quick work of them and claimed the chain mail for ourselves. The other end of the forge held another door, a storage room full of tin ore.
We headed back the other way and down the right hallway from the entrance. Another rope trap laid across the door, and Black Blood took care of it. This room was strange. A fountain with a glowing blue liquid took up much of the room. On the floor, someone had painted a trapdoor.
Rolen dipped a knife into the fountain and nothing happened. He let it drip onto his hand, and it still acted like regular water, beading up and rolling off. Taking it a step farther, Rolen licked the rest of the water off the knife. Nothing.
“Maybe pour the water on the door?” I said, scooping up a flask of it and handing it to Professor Baasil.
He dumped the contents on the painting where it hissed and revealed a real door. Rolen popped it open and below sat Harmon.
“Thank goodness,” he said. “Are thee kobolds gone?”
“Yes,” Black Blood said. “We killed every last one.”
“Yer me heroes. They came in and took over de place. I hid.”
“So you had nothing to do the with the dead horses out front? Or the Tully Blacksmith’s men?”
“Aye, they were supposed ter be here a while ago, but I’ve been hiding since the kobolds came.”
“The kobolds took them captive. We freed them and sent them on their way. We found the tin in the storage room behind the forge.”
“Aye, that’s where I keep it.”
“We can take it back to Tully Blacksmith, then?”
“Aye, please do. It’s the only way I get paid.”
With Harmon’s help, we loaded the tin into one of the abandoned carts out front. Taking turns, we carted the tin shipment all the way back to Orm. The old Dwarf wasn’t crazy afterall, just scared.