Erky experiences with mind altering magic and having overcome them allowed him to review the images of the cave and he realised that not all the walls the familiar had seen were really there. That night he sent his familiar once again into the caves to test the walls and found that they were powerful illusions, fortunately even powerful illusions fail with a slight touch. What was behind the illusions was undead miners, skeletons using good quality pickaxes to mine ores.
Without a second thought the party started to move the rocks blocking the passage and headed in to collect the ore. Necromancy and undead creation was not an approved practice, it had once been used to try and solve to autonomous construct problem but with disastrous results. The controlling necromancer had failed to maintain control on the undead and the so called constructs attacked in the middle of showing them to the high nobles, undead creation was banned ever since.
Moving the stones was going to take away and only a few could get in the small area to help so Varric and Rupert decided to go do some scouting. They approached one of the nearby goblin bases with ease, and a crazy thought came to them. Overconfident and reckless they thought that they could stealth their way into the camp and take out the leaders. The plan was going well as they shot down over half the guards on the forts walls before one fell off the wall and crashed with a thud to the ground.
The remaining guards, three of which were using ballista’s, all turned and returned fire. Varric and Rupert had planned an escape route and used the rope and river to run for their lives. They quickly got out of the goblins short bow range and thought they could pick a few more off using a long bow. But the goblins were moving the ballista’s around to fire at them, they could out range it even one good hit could be fatal and so they retreated.
In the meantime the rest of the party had cleared the rocks and entered the cave to engage the undead. The skeleton miners had dangerous weapons with the heavy picks but they were weak and in low numbers so not really a threat, but a zombie proved to be more troublesome. The zombie didn’t a weapon but it’s able to shrug off damage made it more dangerous than the skeletons. Though once hit with a single solid hit it finally fell, the party fell back to their cave home and Gepav thought it’d be a good idea to build a wall and door to that tunnel.
Varric and Rupert returned wounded and tired but alive to tell the tale of how they bravely fought a whole camp of goblins before running for their lives. The others told of the undead and ore wealth they had found, copper ore piled high in a corner. Gepav finished has rock wall and had a section that could be taken down to squeeze in and out of the undead tunnel. The noise of this would easily notify they if someone or something was trying to get through.
The next morning Soul who had been holding off her addiction was in a frightful mood, she was grabbing Quara and demanding more. Quara had used what she had left to try grow more back at the lodge easily a three day trip at best, and with the winter cold Soul would almost certainly die for the attempt. Fortunately she had a similar addictive item that might substitute for the one Soul wanted, Soul not in a state to refuse tried it. It seemed to work but Soul still felt the itch but it was ignorable, the substitute was unlikely to work a second time but had bought her time.
The party opened the undead tunnel and entered again, this time they cleared out several mining points each with only few skeletons that barely had a chance to turn before they were destroyed. Until they found a large illusionary wall that had a line of zombies on the other side, with their new knowledge on zombies the party knew this was going to be a long fight though not overly dangerous.
The illusion fell as they attacked the zombies but with a web placed between them they felt that most would just get caught and be easy pickings. But two of the zombies didn’t simply change as expected instead they move to switches that dropped a trap on the party. The slab of stone missed everyone but the slabs had been holding swarms of skeleton rats that was now attack the party from within. Erky not wanting to lose his concentration on the web that had held most of the zombies withdrew from the group and supported the party with at range.
Despite the trap and surprise attack the fight ended with minimal damage, the party set about looting when Erky was attack from behind. The invisible attacker was a vampire, it picked up the gnome and bite his neck trying to sneak off without the rest of the party noticing. Erky was able to alert the party and they moved quickly to his aid. The vampire realised he wasn’t going to get away or win in a fight so he shape changed into mist and escaped through tiny holes in the caves roof.
Further investigation found that there was a table and cards, indicating that there could be four vampires in these tunnels. As the party return the their cave they noticed the tiny holes here and there in the roof of the tunnels. From their research into monsters that the party knew a lot about the nature of vampires, namely their weaknesses and how to destroy them. First and most comforting was that vampires cannot enter a residence without an invitation.
Once they returned to their cave they restored the rock door Gepav had made and hung a tent over the front entrance to but this little cave a little more like a residence. Erky was still sure that there was more illusions so he had an idea to sent a familiar with invisibility to scout the caves. This idea was very successful as the illusionary walls only appeared when a seen creature approaches and so didn’t even activate. Giving more places to explore, but with the invisibility running out the familiar returned with only that information.
The party had a safe sleep, and once again descended into the tunnels. This time they fought large skeletons that resembled minotaur’s, these were much tougher and hit harder than the smaller skeletons. After the second group was destroyed the party realised something obvious, these skeleton had been mining for a long time and there was only about a day’s worth or ore here. Erky wanted to know where it was all going so he sent his familiar out to find another group and hide in one of the ore boxes.
To pass the time as they waited for the return they decided to do some mining of their own, with Gepav’s instructions they got into the swing of it pretty fast. A few hours in Erky felt the presence of his familiar as it was carried towards his area. The skeletons walked past their tunnel and down an unexplored path, the party argued that they should follow, but as they argued a second group and then another followed behind the one they had seen.
Several groups of skeletons walk by, as the last one left the first one had returned going back to their mining points with empty boxes. For today the party decided to watch and count the numbers, after having counted them going out and back there was thirty three that left but thirty five that returned. The party came to the conclusion that there was a powerful necromancer that was controlling and creating these creatures down that tunnel.
The information give by Erky’s familiar was that the skeletons walk small cave just before a tunnel that was obviously a constructed area. There they dumped the ores and walked past a bat that touched each as they walked past delivering some magical spell. The bat was a familiar that was maintaining the necromancers control, over the undead. In these caves was several zombies standing and wandering about and the cave showed no sign of yesterdays ores, someone cleared the room latter taking the ore elsewhere.
A plan to destroy all the undead and steal the ores came to the party. They would let them mine and move it all to that cave then ambush them on their way back destroying small groups in a tight cavern, then to head down the tunnel to gather the ore. The next morning they readied to do this, hiding in a cave just off from the path and watched as they all walked past then once the last was out of sight and the first was on its way back they pounced.
The plan was going well except that the was a chain reaction of awareness that move from one group to the next, meaning that the group were arriving faster than expected. It start to break the front lines when the larger skeletons and several rat swarms started to join the front lines, but even then the party adapted keeping up the attack. But when the stream of skeletons stopped and instead eight zombies with crossbows and a vampire in the middle appeared many thought it was time to retreat. Lia on the other hand charged instead, getting in close and using magic knocked the group over. This gave the others enough courage or foolish bravery or a need to save Lia, that they push forward and held their ground.
The zombies where very inaccurate but they always focused fire and where dealing significant damage, but their actions where almost completely being given by the vampire. So much so then when the vampire who had been using them as shield finally fell, or shape changed into mist and escaped into holes in the roof, the zombies dropped their weapons and attack with the bare hands. At this point it was only a matter of time until the party destroyed them all.
Now the party sat victorious but heavily injured and exhausted, do they briefly rest and continue on the ores or retreat for the day. They had not yet fought more than one vampire at once and they believed there was four, also a vampire defeated would fully recover in an hour about the same time it took them to rest. A final piece that might stop their assault was the Necromancer was in one of the vampires or did they serve it too.