Dear Mother Augite,
Before I begin this recount, I must confess that I fear I have let slip some of the mysteries of our people to those not of our race. I would take refuge in an excuse but that does not, as they say, hold water – if I was unable to control myself under the influence of alcohol, then I should not have partaken. My only hope is that in my inebriated state, I took as literal what Nura was describing in a metaphorical state.
I should also point out that in some of these tales, I speak of things you know well about, such as my visit to the Archives to investigate the dagger. I do this so that the records will make sense to any others who read them – not all of them would know of your part unless I wrote it out, and you are far too valuable a colleague and mentor to be omitted.
When we returned to Callech, strangely enhanced in our abilities, we all decided to go and make use of our new talents. Nura and Faye worked together on the scribing of scrolls, Vall set up a workshop and began shaping such a bow! Oh Mother Augite – I do not usually have an appreciation of these Elvish weapons, but surely his true talents lie in this direction. Even I am able to appreciate the fine lines, the clear engineering of the curves and the power that it will bring to his shots. It will take him some weeks to complete it, but any true work of art deserves the time and the effort put into it.
I myself came to you in our Abbey records to find out more about this dagger, and I do not blame you at all for not wanting to take it. Vall offered, but I did not feel comfortable about that – such a work of evil should be closely guarded by someone who has the blessing of Pharasma to protect them.
All this time, Faye was brushing up on her bardic skills, and spent most of her time in either the tavern or chatting with visitors to town. Poor thing – I think she wants to get out into the world to perform for a wider audience. We suggested she could go and sing to the Water Elemental, who would appreciate her songs. We also asked her to ask the Elemental about the dagger, but she left the creature on friendly terms and does not want to jeopardise this relationship with what could well be the dagger that killed its entire family.
By the end of the week, and with your help, I had determined a few things about the dagger. It was dedicated to Norgorber, and would aid one of the followers of that foul deity by being extra-sharp. Alas, most of the information I found was hearsay only – that it could be used in unclean rituals, and that it cannot easily be destroyed. So I paid for our Blacksmith, Tibbett, to make a lead casing for it, and cached it deep in my pack. Even this worthy was not willing to touch the dagger, but placed the casing on a bench so that I could place the dagger inside, then closed the top of it. Hopefully this will block any attempts to sense the dagger, either by the evil it radiates or any other tainted emanation.
Just as we had succeeded in confining the dagger, I received word of a commotion back up at the mine – while the miners were looking for new veins, they had found some old tunnels, not made by Dwarves. This was excellent news as it could lead to new discoveries, but there was an issue. A horde of Kobolds were blocking the caves and causing issues. Those in charge of the mine, like so many of our people, would not ask for help. But if we were in the area, and offered to help… Faye commented that her falchion is sharp and looking for action, and that Dwarves are good at weapon-smithing.
The mine itself is an hour’s walk from the town, to the southeast some five miles at the edge of the mountains. It is a shining example of co-operation between our people and the short-lived race of humans. I remember well when you blessed the work, many years ago, as they dug the first entrance. Much of the town’s prosperity comes from the profits of the mine that are directed to works of charity and the community. It is, however, as most mines are, noisy, dirt and smoky.
And as we gathered our equipment and headed to the entrance of the Mine, I picked up some interesting news from my Dwarvish friends. There was a possibility – just a possibility – that they might have discovered another of our lost ones. Just the chance of this made my heart leap with joy. Pharasma leads us into this world, then she leads us out of it, and it is always a blessing to have a new soul brought back to the light.
Elder Calcite, the Chief of the mine, was happy to show us around. Or perhaps “happy” was not the correct word to use – he is rather dour, even for a dwarf. He explained to us that the top level of the mine is already played out, and he took us to the lifts down to various levels. There are two lifts, a large lift for freight and a smaller one for people. As could be expected the workers have priority, and we needed to wait a while as a shift changed in front of us. I should have asked him what the mechanics of the lifts are – I have not yet deciphered how they work. Perhaps a cadre of trained donkeys on a treadmill? The majority of the mine area shows the true expertise of Dwarven engineering, with smooth floors, a well-braced roof, and excellent quality props that spoke of a firm belief in safety.
As we walked down, though, some of us noticed that Elder Calcite did not want us to look in a particular direction, and he deflected any questions from the group about these. I had a feeling he would have been happy to discuss them with me, but did not want the others poking their noses in. The side tunnels were dark, unlit and definitely not up to the quality of the dwarvish tunnels. They had not been finished nicely, their floors were rough, and rubble was strewn around. There was also a slightly oddish scent coming out – not goblin, but something else not natural. Vall seemed somewhat interested in the side tunnels, and I worried that he might accidentally antagonise the Elder.
I thought it was time, and offered the services of the party with any problems the mine might be having, but the Elder stated quite categorically that there are no problems. I could tell I had angered him, and am grateful to Faye who interrupted to ask about the need for excellent weapon-smithing. The Elder seemed very happy with abrupt change in subject, and took us to a smelting area, where he introduced Brother Haematite. Here, Faye described what she needs in a better weapon, and paid a deposit on the final result, which would take about a week. Then Elder Calcite started moving us back to the entrance, albeit past the unsavoury tunnels, and I noticed he was very deliberately not looking towards them. In fact, he was purposefully staying well ahead, and letting us straggle behind. And I suddenly realised I was the only one of the group still following – the rest had already doubled back into the odd tunnels.
“Elder Calcite, I have a stone in my shoe. You go on ahead and I’ll meet you at the office.” I hurried back to meet up with the others.
We started up the darker tunnel. It was only after some of the others tripped over that I remembered that not all are blessed by Pharasma with Darkvision, and I lit my lantern and passed it to Nura. We soon came upon a crossroads, and heard some noise coming from the right. Moving as silently as we could, we progressed along until the sounds became clearer – possibly fighting, possibly arguments. The tunnel curved away to the left, and there was light coming from up ahead, and voices, some of which spoke Dwarvish, and some a garbled glottal speech that the others told me later was Draconic.
Vall sneaked around the corner to see, and found himself behind a group of kobolds. Past them, at a meeting of the tunnels, a group of dwarves stood behind a barricade. Vall came back and tried to give phonetic rendition of what he heard the kobolds say.
Which failed terribly, so Faye cast “Message” on Vall, who crept back and started relaying the words back. From the sounds, it comprised phrases like “Trespassers!” and “Die, fuckers, die!” I can only assume my brethren were pushed beyond their limits to be so aggressive in their language,
We dropped back where the sound of our voices would not spread, and discussed the possibilities. Should we go around and talk to the dwarves? Walk into the kobolds and ask them to stop? Cast lights on Nura and have her walk in and say “CEASE THIS USELESS CONFLICT?”
Faye: I felt it in my bones – from the day I was BORN!
Nura: That’s gout.
We decided to try and stop the fighting by having Nura and Faye go in and order them to stop. Or ask them nicely.
Nura would speak Dwarvish, Faye Draconic. I shall indicate who is talking by Dw for the Dwarves, NDw for Nura speaking Dwarvish, Ko for Kobold (Draconic) etc.
“What is all this about then?”
Dw: “They’re trying to kill us?”
Ko: “This is our space. They’re trying to kick us out.”
NKo: “Lived here long time?”
Ko: "Generations and generations. Way to surface, but this our space.
NDw: “Any of you speak Draconic?”
Dw: “We’re dwarves! NO! We speak the language of the gods.” They had a point.
NDw "So the problem is the kobolds say you attacked them, you think they attacked you.
Dw: “We were doing work, they attacked us.”
Ko "We were travelling from one to the other, they attacked us.
After long discussion, we determined that the Dwarves think Kobolds are animals, not sentient creatures. I could understand this a little, but found it confusing that the obvious evidence in front of them showed that these Kobolds had a great deal of intelligence and purpose.
Eventually Nura got the Dwarves to understand that talking to the Kobolds would be in their interests, especially as there are hordes of Kobolds, and that the Kobolds might be willing to allow mining in exchange for shinies.
The Kobolds themselves were mostly basic fighters in leather armour, but there were two in robes, and two in shinier armour. Nura tried negotiating with them.
“Both sides are fierce – isn’t this big enough to share?”
Ko: “Dwarves are being obstinate. Our space.”
NDw: “Did you know the kobolds were here?”
Dw: “They’re animals.”
NDw: “But they’re using tools.”
Dw: “Animals can use tools.”
NKo: “Do you understand the ways of magic?”
Ko: “The gods show us!”
NKo: “Can you show something non-threatening?”
In answer to this request, one of the robed Kobolds cast a light spell.
Alas, this did not change the outcome.
NDw: “Do you see that? Is that something animals would do?”
Dw: “We have IMPORTANT DWARF BUSINESS to do”.
And then I realised why they were being so cagey. Up the tunnel they had discovered one of the Lost, and were trying to extract the poor soul without damage. I thought of my dear brother Graben – Mother, do you remember they never could tell if his state was because of a problem during extraction, or he had been like that when he was Lost. I went to talk to my Dwarven brethren, who told me they needed a week to Extract our Lost One. I then asked Nura to enquire whether the Kobolds could wait a week.
Ko “Our places – we need to travel through.”
So I renegotiated with the Dwarvish miners – could the Kobolds traverse the tunnels, but the Dwarves put a screen up to stop anything untoward getting seen? This, they were prepared to allow, but with the most holy of vows from the Kobolds not to look.
Meanwhile, Nura and the Kobolds were discussing magic, as the Kobolds considered their clreic and wizard to be gifts from the gods. She looked forward to being able to exchange spells with them, as the acquisition of arcane spells requires much research, but if you can obtain one from a fellow spellcaster, the effort is much less. We also offered to teacher them Dwarvish, so that they could negotiate with the Dwarves without the need for interpreters. They could see the value in this.
The Kobolds, emboldened by these advances, explained that this trip of theirs is needed twice per day. Faye asked to be allowed to know what the religious thing is, and they agreed to explain it to us. It seems that they worship Zon Kuthon, an evil god with a preference for darkness and loss.
Yay – Reptilian Goths.
We assisted the dwarves with setting up a temporary wall, then travelled with Kobolds, who restrained themselves from trying to peer around the canvas edges. They took us down, around corners, deep into the tunnels, and I noticed that the usually cool and dry atmosphere had become warm and moist. A little further on, and we saw it. They have an egg nursery, next to a vent of some sort that exuded hot muggy steam. The eggs, which they needed to rotate twice per day, were surprisingly large. Almost half the size of the Kobolds. Then I realised – they were baby Kobold Eggs, and we had been allowed the great privilege of seeing their equivalent of the great work upstairs.
I conveyed to the cleric that just as this is a holy place, and they would not allow all the dwarves to see this, so what is happening upstairs is as holy and must be left undisturbed. I believe they caught my meaning, as their eyes widened and they swore that they would never violate the sanctity of the workings. Pharasma truly gives her blessing to all!
The next week was one of communication and learning, teaching and blessings. Nura traded spells with a Kobold, Faye chatted with the kobolds and learnt their songs. I held conversation sessions, where I taught them Dwarvish and they undoubtedly taught me how to swear and call myself an idiot in Draconic. I also cast a daily blessing of Pharasma on the work upstairs – I was almost beside myself with the joy of a new soul in the community!
Nura, in her discussions, discovered that the Kobolds’ power used to be more powerful, and has now lessened over the generations. They were their strongest just before the Tearing, just as we Dwarves were.
Vall spent his time
snooping around trying to learn as much as he could about the way of the Lost, and was always asking questions about the holy work upstairs. Nura was casting “detect Magic” on the barrier, and worked out that what was going on behind the barrier was of a ritual manner. We all noticed that the Kobolds cleric was always with the eggs, and the caster came there morning and night. Nura also noticed that the kobolds are wearing more magic than we’ve seen before in one place.
And then … oh the shame. On the last night – Vall and I got drunk and talked.
“When a mummy dwarf and a daddy dwarf love each other very much…”
“Yes! Yes! They get married, and then, if Pharasma blesses them, they may become parents.”
“But how does that happen?”
“No, becoming parents.”
“Um – it’s difficult to explain…"
“Let me suggest something. So first of all the mine train goes in to the tunnel…”
“That’s it! And then the train comes out of the tunnel with the new one!”
The next day I felt as if the world would end. I have been told this is a state called hungover. I do not think I ever want to hang whatever over ever again.
On the last morning, the Kobolds came through. We had become friends, and several had learned both Dwarvish and the Common tongue. I am afraid my brethren were not as open-minded. It will take a long time before they lose their suspicion of all around them. Even so, I should not despair – three or four learned the basics of Draconic. There is still hope.
The Kobolds came in, checked their eggs, then went back.
And my fellow Dwarves prepared to transport the Lost One out of the tunnel. I made sure the rest of my party went out before the Lost One was taken from its resting place to the temple, although I gathered later that Vall had hidden behind, using his skills at concealment. And my mind was otherwise occupied with the great task – I was allowed to help with the last loosening from the matrix, and to lead the way to the Mine’s Temple of Pharasma. All went well, and one more soul has rejoined us in our journey in the light! Mother Augite, this is the third time I have been a part of the Rejoining of the Lost, and the first time I have been allowed to lead the cart. If I gain nothing else from these adventures, this will remain always as a bright and shining memory.
Faye went to pick up her beautiful Falchion, which is now personalised to her specifics. There will be no stopping her now!
And, thanks to the excellent negotiations, the lower corridor now marked as “Not Ours” by Dwarves.
We walked from the mine into the sunshine, and as we did, we felt again the increase in our powers, the bringing of new knowledge, and the blessings of Pharasma.
Your loving acolyte
Chrysta Bal-Trydimite, of Clan Felsic