<IC Date> ((2020-05-01))
On Expedition to a mine southeast of White Moon Cove
The Expedition started as any other. Or as I imagined any other to start, at least. Having been cooped up in the Candlekeep library for most of my youth, I don’t have enough experience to be certain. However, I am certain of one thing – it did not proceed as normally as it started.
We left White Moon Cove early in the morning, lead by the Halfling Birk. Quinn the Elf served as our scout – assisted by his bird of prey, Valor. While the role of trailblazer was held by Tramenor, the Firbolg. The rest of the party consisted of Tyil the Tiefling, another Firbolg named Ashali and myself, Skorphina Mitlopha Gnome Wizard extraordinaire!
We made excellent timing, in my opinion. Heading south-east from the Cove, taking the left road at the first intersection, following the road past an outpost and then off the beaten track to the west until we arrived upon our destination in a single day. Without any incident. Upon entering the mine, I took ten or so minutes to cast an alarm ritual at the entrance, just in case we had other visitors while we were exploring. We ventured further in, deeper into the mine, until we found a vast open cavern. The ground throughout the mine was rough and bumpy terrain, which slowed us down somewhat.
We noticed two large ogre-like corpses in the vicinity but before we could approach, some sort of cultist came out of a side-tunnel and spotted us. He threw meat to the ground and, perhaps spurned by the scent, the two ogres rose as undead beings. I’ll admit I was a little shaken by the sight, so much so that I momentarily forgot all about a particularly useful cantrip I know against such creatures and resorted to the good old trusty fire bolt instead. Birk transformed into a massive black bear, Quinn flew up in the air atop Valor, Tramenor cast some sort of spell that grew spiky thorns from the ground at their feet. We eliminated the ogres relatively easily, by working together. One did rise back after being put down, but it was swiftly dismissed again by the party.
Unfortunately the cultist that had spotted us had retreated back into his side-cavern in the meantime. And while the battle raged we could hear them chanting in some unknown language and, eventually, cheering jubilantly. I can only assume they managed some sort of summoning ritual, because shortly afterwards a mystically-charged scorpion came clambering towards us along the walls of the cave from that direction while the rest of the cultists watched from the other side of the thorny area.
That’s… when things turned strange. Tramenor the Firbolg Cleric used some of his divine magic to… befriend the summoned beast. The rest of the party tried to help too – Quinn cast and dropped a bunch of Goodberries by the scorpion in hopes to sate its hunger, myself, I attempted to magically tickle at it from afar to incapacitate it. It took some effort but, eventually, Tramenor convinced it to crawl back across and kill the very same cultists who had summoned it for us. I’ll admit I still burst into giggles at that, when I think about it. Some more magic and persuasive pet-talk later, Tramenor had the scorpion leave us alone and depart from the mine. I knew it had left, for it triggered the alarm I had placed.
We decided to take a brief rest then as some of us had been injured and I could have used a breather myself. Unfortunately while resting we were attacked by a couple of orc-like creatures Birk called Orogs. We dispatched these without too much of a fuss, despite them having gotten the drop on us. And then we proceeded to explore the area where the cultists and the scorpion had come from, fire bolting maggots assaulting the corpses and… relieving them of a bunch of coin and some gems as we went.
What we found was a sight to behold. Some sort of magical cylindrical shape, constantly revolving on itself, was in one corner of this next cavern. Symbols were carved into the stone floor around its edge which, in my opinion after some consideration, seemed to be powering it. We determined it seems to be some sort of portal to a different plane or place. Likely the same original habitat of the scorpion that had been summoned. Unfortunately none of us had the know-how to shut it down. I tried fire bolting it just in case, but it seemed to absorb the flame and use it to power itself as we saw swirling flames in the mystical light then.
Suspecting that if we could damage the symbols in the ground we could destroy it, Tramenor tried his thorny ground trick again on this new area. NOTE: DO NOT ATTACK THE PORTAL WITH MAGIC! Because that backfired. The portal seemed to mimic the spell cast on it and even amplify it. Where at one point there was a relatively small circle of twenty or so feet of spikes and thorns, nigh the whole mine as far as the eye could see was suddenly covered in the effect. We didn’t wish to risk moving and injure ourselves, but fortunately when Tramenor seized concentrating on the spell, the effect ended entirely. It did leave some creepy, phantasmal tendrils behind though – as if ghosts of thorns past. They were incorporeal, and I felt a chilling sensation as I passed a hand through them. Very unsettling.
We walked onwards, coming upon a more narrow tunnel where some bones and corpses seemed to reside. Not trusting them to be entirely dead, Tramenor tried detecting magic as we prepared for trouble, Birk in bear form. Sure enough, either the spell or the noise we made roused four undead, skeletal creatures from their unrest. We started attacking them from range. Quinn with arrows, a few of us with spells, while the bear waited for them to get closer. NOTE TWO: DO NOT MAKE LOUD NOISES IN THIS MINE! Because it was at this point that things took a turn for the worse. Tramenor cast Shatter, which made a loud, booming noise that reverberated and echoed all across the mine. Admittedly it was quite effective, because it dealt a good deal of damage to the undead. However it was also extremely effective at alerting the entire mine to our presence.
We heard distant scurrying noises and saw some sort of large, burrowing creature near the undead that seemed to have crawled out of the very walls. That’s when we knew we had to make a tactical retreat. We hurried on our way back, taking down a few of the undead that were chasing us. I personally took a couple arrows that hurt quite a bit. I blame inexperience once again for not using Shield in time, but that loud noise had my ears ringing. Unfortunately our retreat was cut off by other creatures that had undoubtedly been attracted to our location by the very same noise.
I got to lay eyes on them first – my short gnomish legs can be pretty quick with the help of magic. Much to my shock we were confronted by three dog-sized toads and three large arachnids. Birk was giving Tramenor a ride on his big bear back, Quinn was being dragged in the air by Valor, momentarily stunned by an attack from the undead creatures. Tyil and myself remained on foot and launched spells when we could. In the confusion, I was jumped by one of the toads who bit me so hard I lost consciousness for a moment, so unfortunately I cannot give a first-hand account of the next few moments.
But I was later told how my companions fought on bravely. Tramenor managed to charm the toad that was about to swallow me whole and convince it to spit me back out. Quinn abandoned the relative safety of the air to feed me a Goodberry which revived me, and then Tramenor helped some more with a healing spell. Got to love clerics.
The fight to retreat was quite as taxing and exciting as the initial one, if not more. Arrows and spells were flying every which way, but with some luck and plenty of skill the party managed to survive this trial as well. The only creature aside from ourselves to survive this fight was the toad that had almost swallowed me whole, whom we bestowed with the name Frank.
We did not bring Frank along though – the charm would not last forever after all. We made our way out of the mine and to the outpost where we slept for a few hours. Then we followed the road back to White Moon Cove, stopping only briefly to charm one specimen from a horde of Ankylosaurus so that the druid Birk could get more familiar with the creature’s nature. The trip back was, thankfully, about as uneventful as the trip there. All in all, I would call my this first expedition I’ve been on a success. Looking forward to more!
Note to any explorers returning to the mine: Bring along a well-learned and experienced Wizard with some dispelling magics. I think it would be wise to shut off that portal before it can be used by more cultists to summon even more horrible and deadly creatures! And, as already noted, do not try to attack the portal with spells as it seems to use that against you. Unfortunately I could not determine a sure way to disable it, hence the need for a more experienced magic-wielder. And please inform me if you learn more of this – I’m staying at the Axe and Thistle.
Ex-Candlekeep Library Assistant
New Explorer & Adventurer!