Castaway Diary, Day 42 cont.

Okay, I think that the Salt Mine constituted a reasonably simple dungeon crawl, so I’m glad we were able to wrap it up before Carol rolls up our 0.1st level Time Thief. As it is that’s not even halfway through the module – not close, really – so we have more to do somewhen.

Blue Warrior needs... braaaaains.

Blue Warrior needs… braaaaains.

Until then, Talisman! 

Dellen was on the verge of telling these new buddies of his that if making their merry way across the land meant also going down a mine and getting jumpscared by undead hiding in puddles… he was fucking out. But that comforting witch guy appeared, and so he decided to stick around for a wee bit longer. Maybe the witch could sic his goat on the… oh, the goat was already eating the salty undead… I guess you could say he was too ungu-late.
Orny’s first contribution was to get this place disco lit! Casting Dancing Lights at the far end of the long salt cavern around the corner turned the place into a Fallout Roller Disco, briefly, since Percy then cast Daylight onto his sword – the highlight of any sun-worshipping tengu. The place was well lit up, between these utility spells and the torch and Kona’s ioun torch.
Dellen therefore, felt comfortable running through the murky puddle/pool (depending where you stand) with Percy and Kona following him and everyone else bringing up the rear. Dellen had brought up Detect Magic and Malicia had slipped into what shadow remained. Around a small bend, a sub cave, she spotted a makeshift resting place – a campsite maybe? Dellen saw nothing magical about it, but his attention was taken by the sudden appearance of more Puddleghouls (they’re not Puddleghouls) at the end of the cavern where it led to a waterlogged tunnel.
The Saline Zombies (they’re not Saline Zombies) were so astoundingly awful that the party cut them apart with astonishing ease. I guess you could say that their time in the mine has made them seasoned undead fighters. Seasoned… Fuck you, that was golden. Anyway, the Sodiumidichloridians (that’s not a thing) proved to be so little challenge that it set the party up nicely to underestimate them badly, but my dice rolling kind of gave them the impression that these things could be walked all over.
Walking over the bodies, the party took a brief look at the campsite. They found 3 desiccated mules, staked to the ground, which fortunately didn’t come back as Mulezombies because I definitely don’t have those pawns. Also there, super crusty bedroll, which Malicia picked up and cracked and a crusty strongbox. Malicia had no luck picking the lock. Floki and Kona both took cracks at splitting the strongbox open, because maybe whoever made the strong box hadn’t considered that someone might try to force it open because it was their first day on the job. It had to be tried, but axe and …Jesus, Kona, are those claws?… claws couldn’t break the box open. They took it with them, then pretty much forgot about it.
They ventured down the tunnel in a large, confident, easily flamestrikable huddle until they reached another salt cavern. Again, this cavern was covered with murky water and that was enough to send Kona and Floki scampering across it noisily like toddlers with new waterproofs. Other people making a bunch of noise is its own kind of stealth, so Malicia didn’t bother doing her kind. She and Nobody moved  across the cavern in a more reserved way, while Percy cast Weapon of Awe.
Weapon of Awww

Weapon of Awww

As all this was happening, there came, from all around them the sound of frantic hammering. This bothered no-one. No-one looked for the source of the hammering. No-one had weird questions about what was hammering or how many of them. Everyone was pretty much at ease down here. WOO-WOO, all aboard the undead slaughtering train!
They found that the cavern branched; to their right, Malicia could see a dark tunnel down which there was some sort of device and the back wall of the cavern was actually a wooden barricade through which another cavern was visible. Peering down the passageway Malicia could make out four sturdy posts set in the ground, with ropes leading to a heavy, sturdy pan, a few yards in diameter. She didn’t know what that was for. Mining… salt?
By this point, Kona was already over the barricade, with Floki attempting to follow him, but getting stuck on the barricade and then pulling some of it down on top of himself as he tried to free himself. Orny, Dellen and Percy moved quickly across the floor of the cavern. Malicia and Nobody made their way over the barricade, with Floki making it over on the second attempt. But Kona was already running into the next cavern and discovering a big blue ball. The sphere sat on an island in the middle of a big puddle, was about 20′ across and glowed dark blue (technically, all light except dark blue was being eaten… JIM) at least that how it seemed to Kona. He could make out what looked like shards of blue glass on the ground and there were parts of the sphere that were crazed and cracked. There was a large section of the outside of the sphere missing and Kona went to go see what was in there.
What was in there was more Jumpscares, as two undead lunged from the inside of the sphere, although neither the grasping hands or the swinging pick-head made immediate contact, while the pick, swung by a glowing blue undead eventually struck and caused a kind of numbing cold that the big man shrugged off. Everyone moved in at variously different speeds, Dellen casting Protection from Evil on Kona and Orny whipping out the Rope of Climbing to get over the barricade. However, no matter how slow they moved, they had all managed to clear the main area of the salt cavern (the one without the sphere in it) which was good because the ceiling seemed for a second to have caved in. Turns out it wasn’t the ceiling, just a lot of it – the hammering had been to loosen a massive slab of salt that hit the water with tremendous force and filled the cavern with salt dust.
What? They were just getting ready for a salt-block cooked meal!

What? They were just getting ready for a salt-block cooked meal!

After the last of the party cleared the barricade, over came the undead in pursuit. Dellen, Malicia and Nobody went to meet these attackers, while Floki, Percy and Kona stayed on the pair in the sphere. The blue warrior and his little buddy backed into the sphere and Floki, Percy and Kona followed, finding that being inside the sphere was slowly – very slowly – killing them. Floki cut down the little undead buddy and the blue warrior retaliated by striking Floki with his pick and draining the life out of him, the Ulfen gaining a negative level. He also managed – somehow, to deafen himself with his melee weapon. I’m not sure how. Kona caught the blue guy right on the elbow and caused him to drop his pick, then Floki struck him and Percy finished the job, cutting the blue warrior down.
Outside the sphere, the others battled valiantly but things weren’t so easy when all the front line fighters were off fighting other stuff. Malicia tried to stay out of combat, firing her shortbow. Dellen couldn’t hope to go toe to toe with so many opponents but he really only had Nobody who was more likely to last longer than he so he cast Sanctuary on himself. Orny hovered around the periphery, laying Evil Eyes with mixed success until he decided to summon a gorilla to help them out. The gorilla didn’t last too long as it was badly affected by the undead that turned on it. Nobody and Malicia took Constitution damage too from blows from the previously super easy to defeat undead. Nobody’s gun experienced some sort of catastrophe, but he was able to continue with the butt of the pistol with some aplomb. Dellen meanwhile, channeled his inner Tersplink and did a top job of laying some buffs on Malicia with Shield of Faith and Bears Endurance, to offset the undead’s special damage.
How I imagine Knuckles.

How I imagine Knuckles.

Orny’s Gorilla, Knuckles, slammed one of the zombies and was then taken out as it tried to move past another. Kona rushed out of the sphere raging, and tore one of the salt dead apart, and then another, Percy similarly hustled out to engage what was left of the undead force, striking one of the undead just before Malicia levered its head off with her dagger. 
Kona then rushed back to the shell and got in a prolonged discussion with Floki – Floki did most of the talking – about what to do with the corpses of the two people inside the shell. One was a woman – not dressed in miner’s gear and the other was a tall possibly Chelish man with much better fitting armour. GODS FORBID THEY SHOULD SEARCH THEM. 
Orny and Percy, meanwhile were interested in the shell itself. While the Blue Guy was no longer glowing blue, the sphere continued to glow blue. Considering the link between the blue glows and the overall magic feel of this thing, as well as the negative energy inside the sphere, Orny was fairly certain that the Sphere was the cause of the undead and that while inside, the undead were being healed, just as the living folks were being hurt. Percy was also clever enough to check if this thing had been moved into place or if it had been quarried or dug out – it looked like the sphere had predated the mining and the miners had not only cleared salt/rock from around it but had been responsible for splitting it open – judging my the tool markings he found on the shards. 
Nobody was outside, cradling the parts of his broken pistol in his arms, weeping uncontrollably and shouting unanswerable questions at a cruel universe.
Malicia went to see the salt slab that had fallen in the previous cave. The slab had raised the floor by about two feet and raised the ceiling of the cave by the same amount. It was quite a precisely cut slab, all things considering… she turned to tell everyone that the GAAAAAAH that Blue Guy was back.
Rising out of the shin deep water, was the glowing Blue Warrior… looking a lot like the one they’d just ended a dozen or so seconds ago – replete with heavy pick. Kona rushed (because Kona only ever rushes) over to the Blue Guy and started tearing at him with his Rage claws… so presumably he was still raging while he was talking to Floki… which maybe explains why Floki was doing all the talking. 
Floki, meanwhile was deafened and so didn’t hear any of this go down and his attention was so taken by the sphere that he plain didn’t notice. Orny eventually got his attention. Nobody and Malicia did and advanced on it, daggers drawn. Nobody managed to disarm it – again – then duck out of the way of a counter. Malicia moved to flank but couldn’t land a telling blow past this thing’s decent armour. Percy summoned his Spiritual Weapon and Kona and the scintillating Scimitar of Sarenrae struck the Blue Warrior down. Phew! Glad that’s over for ever and ever, right guys? GODS FORBID THEY SHOULD SEARCH HIM. Dellen was now ready to get back to traveling somewhere other then underground and so set off to warn N’Kechi of the danger.
Now that it was quiet with less splashing, Orny explained his theory of how the sphere was actually a localized negative energy particle field that would respond to a targeted beam of frequency modulated magnatomic quantum interference that would effectively reduce the reciprocating necromantic phenomenon that was maintaining the integrity of this configuration of the crystal lattice structure. Kona looked at him blankly, picked up a pit prop and rushed directly at the sphere, smashing into it. The glass-like shell crazed and crackled but held.
Floki, Nobody and Malicia all took time to consider the rest of their surroundings, checking out side tunnels and the previous caver. Orny sighed, gave up trying to tell them something useful and warned them that the Blue Guy would probably show up again. Probably with hand gestures so that they couldn’t get it wrong. When he was still getting blank looks from Floki he Heal hexed him, thus curing his mysteriously inexplicable hearing loss.
Sure enough, the Blue Warrior rose again, from the site of another miner’s corpse, changing his previous Blue Warrior corpse into a zenj miner. Percy was getting tired of this guy who – on the scale of ‘knowing when to stay dead’ was scoring particularly low, even for an undead guy. He let loose with a Searing Light spell, which is one of the joys of playing a Cleric and let the sunshine into the Blue Warrior’s life, whether he wanted it or not (he didn’t want it).
With Kona continuing to smash the sphere with a pit prop and Orny pitching in with his daggerwhynot? Thrima, who had been kind of sucking it up all night, almost as hard as the undead, sank her teeth into the Blue Warrior and Malicia appeared behind him and sneak attacked (snuck attuck?) him for great justice, killing him… again. Phew! GODS FORBID THEY SHOULD SEARCH HIM.
Kona eventually shattered the sphere, presumably still in a rage, since he wasn’t doing it at a reduced STR. The light-eating effect left the sphere, leaving behind only dark glass fragments and there was a palpable and welcome change in the air pressure and quality of the cave, like someone opening a window in a fart-clouded Fiat. They got busy searching practically everywhere but the corpses – what does this mined section look like, what does the slab look like, what’s down this tunnel? – Before Floki and Orny finally got around to looking at the corpses. FINALLY.
Orny found a chain around the female corpse’s neck and on that chain there was a key. He pocketed that, although Kona saw him do it. After a while, they also got around to finding what the formerly blue guy had on him: studded leather that wasn’t fancy but that hadn’t seemed to suffer for all its long stay in the salt mine, a +1 Heavy Pick that was the only thing continuing to glow blue albeit a friendlier blue and a locket on a chain around his neck. People seemed confused about what a locket was so there was a moment where they were going to try to open it with the substantial key they had found. They gave it to Malicia to open and Malicia, knowing what a locket was because she is a girl, opened it without having to get her lockpick kit out. The outside was engraved F.C. and the inside contained a miniature painting of a little girl and a kindly looking man. If you imagined a dinosaur instead of the kindly man and put a decade or so on the little girl, it was easy to see that the little girl was a younger Athyra.
Lockets, for christ's sake.

Lockets, for christ’s sake.

Malicia had found what she thought was the way out and after following the long, occasionally turning mine passage, they made their way to the surface. They had debated presenting child-woman Athyra with the grisly remains of her twisted-undead-then-hacked-to-pieces-parents but common sense won out and they left them down there, (although they kept offering to her like they were mints). Athyra was waiting for them, but hadn’t been there that long and she was impressed at how quickly the passage could get through the hills.
The FC locket was handed over to her and she considered the picture inside for a while. Kona also told her that Orny had taken a key from her father’s body. She had no idea what that was for. Malicia suspected it was for the crusted shut box she had, and planned to open it, but never did… Then, slightly teary eyed and looking out over the seemingly endless plain ahead of them to the east, Athyra announced her decision to accompany them across the plains. They were happy to have her guide them, but they had to go get their other guide before they set off. Floki tried to come to some sort of rapport with Jaji and the two seemed to get on okay. They agreed to return and Athyra agreed to get some fire and food going for their return because it would be late by then.
Oh, it's that kind of salt mine. That makes sense then.

Oh, it’s that kind of salt mine. That makes sense then.

They schlepped back through the now stilled salt mines and left happy-in-the-darkness Nobody to investigate the weird contraption Malicia had found earlier. Everyone else left him there and caught up with Dellen and N’kechi outside the remains of the Fzumi Salt Mine buildings. The two had agreed that this was a significant and difficult enough a diversion for the approaching Pathfinder caravan that Dellen should go back, connect with the caravan and lead it through. Orny took Dellen aside and asked if he could see his way to prepping the villages for more than just the Pathfinder caravan. Dellen agreed, although was very vague on what he was going to do.
Meanwhile, Kona sounded out how N’Kechi thought about Orny maybe not being a Pathfinder team player. N’Kechi doesn’t really care, as long as this mission succeeds. The Pathfinder Society thinks N’Kechi is great, but the adoration isn’t two way – he undertakes this last journey because he believes Gozreh wishes him to ensure it succeeds. 
Those issues… not really settled, they got the oxen moving and the cart rumbling into the mine, where N’Kechi spent a little while marking out deep water and uneven surfaces to be avoided. But the journey was uneventful and they picked up Nobody, who had been studying the contraption and concluded that it was a crusher and seemed happy about that. Probably happy to be back with his meatshields beloved comrades after an hour or so in this crusty-corpse-littered mine. He and Orny had come up with a plan to fix his pistol that involved Mending the parts and then reassembling them, which was a better idea than just hoping this daggering business pays off. 
They emerged on the other side of the mine, with a small fire going already and Athyra busying herself with getting some food ready. The sky had dimmed and they looked out over the plains before them, the sun slipping behind the hills to their backs. /Cue Binary Sunset.
The west side of the crater
And for (I hope only) a couple of weeks, that’s where we’ll leave them.

One Comment on “Castaway Diary, Day 42 cont.

  1. “0.1st level Time Thief.” Lolz. I used to call Charlie our little Sleep Assassin.

    Babies. Whoduthunk.