Part 22: Chromanin
Update 20: Chromanin
As soon as I'd finished talking with Xardas, I returned to the New Camp to report my findings to the Water Mages. Saturas had been awaiting my arrival and approached me as soon as I arrived.
"Have you spoken to Xardas?" he asked eagerly.
"The whole thing's not the way you think..." I responded. I wasn't quite sure how to put it. If I told him the truth I'd be telling him that everything he'd done for the past decade was futile.
"What do you mean? He needs to find a way how to blow up the ore mound!"
I decided at that moment that I'd wait until I'd found another way of destroying the barrier. When I did, I would tell him the truth. I quickly thought of something to say "The ore mound... uh... uhm... It's grown very high!"
Saturas looked mildly confused and then annoyed. "Find Xardas! He needs to help."
While I had not yet spoken to Xardas, at least to his knowledge, Saturas saw fit to reward my past accomplishments with the privledge of wearing the High Robe of Water. And it only cost the small price of 2100 ore! Saturas informed me was for manufacturing cost but I didn't much care. I was quite used to paying for new armor now.
When I was finished at the New Camp, I set out to meet with this Orc shaman. The necromancer, Xardas, had said that the ruined citadel was on a hilltop to the east of his tower. I found a location just south of the Old Camp that was a perfect match.
I passed Pacho again, who foolishly tried to punch me but I pushed him down and continued on my way. Where the road split was a third fork I did not see the last time I was here. The western path would take me toward the fourth focus and the southern path would lead me near Xardas' tower. The eastern path, the one I had previously overlooked, appeared to climb the mountain all the way to the ruins.
The old dirt path went quite a ways up the hill but it soon narrowed into a thin, rocky road. From here, I could see the Old Camp and the eastern forest.
I was nearing the top of the hill when I was attacked by an Orc. I assumed this meant that I was in the right place. The Orc was of the poorly trained, unarmored variety and easily put down.
I reached the top and ran alongside the ruins. I could see the Mountain Fortress in the distance and realized that this was the same set of ruins I'd seen before. That meant the entrance was on the southern side.
As soon I'd entered the citadel ruins I heard the now very familiar sound of combat. I graped hold of a rune and cautiously moved further inside. What I saw next was not what I expected. Three Orcish warriors had surrounded and were now attacking a fourth Orc.
When the unarmored Orc retaliated with magic of his own, it was evident that this was the Orc that Xardas had sent me to find. I grasped my Ice Block rune and focused onto the nearest hostile rc.
The Orc I'd frozen was my first target. He went down easily, being frozen and heavily wounded. When he was finished I moved onto the others, attacking them from behind as they themselves attacked the Shaman.
When the Orcish warriors were defeated, the shaman turned to me.
"Owe thanks stranger. Bad Orcs want kill me. Old brothers today enemeies. " he said.
"Who are you?" I asked. I was quite impressed that this Orc knew our language.
"Name Ur-Shak." the Orc responded. "Be son of the spirit. People call shaman."
"How do you know our language?" I said.
"Ur-Shak be slave of humans in mine. Run away. Happen many winters ago."
"You were a slave in the mine? Which mine?" That did not surprise me. When I was in the Old Mine I'd seen first hand that the prisoners used Orcish slave labor.
"Mine be under village in Hollow."
"Why do your brothers fight you?"
"Ur-Shak is in disfavor." the shaman responded. "Besmirch creed of KRUSHAK."
"Believe KRUSHAK bad demon."
KRUSHAK. I couldn't say I'd heard that before. "What does KRUSHAK mean?"
"Humans call SLEEP." Ur-Shak said.
"You mean 'Sleeper'?"
Ur-Shak nodded. "Yes. Humans say SLEEPER."
"What do you know about the Sleeper?"
"Be five brothers. Be many winters ago! Be sons of spirit, like Ur-Shak! Call KRUSHAK. Want defeat clan of enemy! Five brothers build temple under earth for KRUSHAK"
"A subterranean temple for the Sleeper?" I thought back to my meeting with the necromancer. "That's what Xardas must have meant when he spoke about the entrance being 'in the Orc town'! What happened in the underground temple?"
The shaman continued. "Brothers then give heart to KRUSHAK. But KRUSHAK be bad. KRUSHAK curse all who build temple. Brothers have no heart. Be dead and live. Be both." Dead and live? I assumed this meant that they were now undead.
"KRUSHAK now have heart of brothers. Heart now be power for KRUSHAK."
"What happened to the workers who built the temple?"
"KRUSHAK curse all. Workers too. Be all dead and live. Both at same time."
"Didn't the Orcs at the surface do anything about it?"
"They seal temple. Brothers today worship KRUSHAK. KRUSHAK get sacrifice. So no become bad. Ur-Shak think sacrifice bad thing. Have said KRUSHAK bad. Brothers no want to hear. Brothers say Ur-Shak go. Brothers hit Ur-Shak." That would explain the three Orcs I saw attacking him.
"I need to enter the underground temple! Can you take me there?"
"Ur-shak say thanks to stranger. Stranger save Ur-Shak. But entry of temple be home. Ur-Shak home no can go."
"I see. You mean they won't let you go back into Orc town?" I a rolled colony map from my pack. "Can you show me where the Orc town is on my map?"
Ur-Shak looked over the map. "Home of Ur-Shak be where map empty. Stranger give map. Then Ur-Shak finish map!" Ur-Shak began scribbling on the map. A few minutes later he returned the completed map to me.
I looked at the map. "That's amazing. You're a good cartographer. Thanks! Well. Looks like I'll have to fight my way through."
Ur-Shak raised his hand. "Brothers home very strong! Brothers be veeery many! Stranger no go. Many warriors! Stranger die! Other sons of spirit home. Stranger make fire, then stranger die!"
I sighed. It was never easy. "Okay, okay. But I have to find a way into the temple."
"Ur-Shak know way! Stranger wear ULU-MULU!"
"ULU-MULU? What's an Ulu-Mulu?"
"Be sign of friendship! Brothers respect ULU-MULU! Stranger wear ULU-MULU, then stranger no die!"
"Where can I get this Ulu-Mulu?" I asked.
"Stranger go see friend of Ur-Shak! Friend of Ur-Shak give ULU-MULU. Stranger wear ULU-MULU, then stranger no die!"
It felt like this conversation was going in circls. "Yeah, yeah. I have the 'no die' bit alright, but where can I find your friend?"
"Friend of Ur-Shak in mine of humans. Friend no run away with Ur-Shak. Friend be ill then."
I thought of the mines within the colony. Of the two Old Camp mines, both were inaccessible. Hopefully he was held in the New Camp. "Were you held in the free
"Ur-Shak prisoner in mine under village in Hollow. Ur-Shak think people call so!"
Hollow sounded like the cave where many of the New Camp residents resided. "Thanks for your help!"
"Ur-Shak say thanks to stranger. Stranger save Ur-Shak. Stranger now friend of Ur-Shak!" Ur-Shak placed a talisman in my hands. "Friend take present. Take Ur-Shak talisman! Talisman protect from breath of fire lizard! Ur-Shak can no go home. Ur-Shak now live here! Friend come when need help!"
"I may take you up on your offer." I said as I was leaving.
On my way out, I took some time to fully look over the additions that Ur-Shak had drawn onto my map. It was quite well done and now showed both Xarda's tower and what I assumed to be the Orc town. This would come in handy.
I needed to return to the New Camp and convince them to retake the free mine but I'd just left there. I doubted they would be ready yet. Instead, I returned to the Sect Camp to see how things were.
There was absolutely nothing of interest happening. Cor Kalom had not returned and the novices and gurus still continued what they always had done, though no longer preaching the glory of the Sleeper. With nothing here to do, I left.
I decided to travel to the New Camp by foot and explore some areas I'd previously seen but not investigated. My first stop was a ship wreck on the eastern shore.
Dangerous fire lizards guarded the wreckage. I quickly reconsidered and turned around. I decided to explore the tower on the hill above instead.
I opened the door to the tower. I was surprised to find it unlocked. A series of ladders led to the roof while a stairwell descended into what I assumed would be a storage room.
I climbed to the top of the tower. There was nothing of interest here aside from a decent view. I climbed back down the ladders to ground level.
With the upper levels lacking anything useful I chose to continue my inspection in the room below the tower. With any luck I would find something of value.
What I saw next was not exactly what I expected. Instead of the storage room I had anticipated was a skeleton!
The skeleton's brittle bones broke easily against my sword. When it sustained enough damage it collapsed onto the ground. Whatever dark magic had animated it was now gone.
The next room WAS a storage chamber. At least at first glance.
Next to the ramp I came down on was another leading to the level below, though it appeared to have been blocked by a cave in.
The only other exit was a roughly carved passage guarded by yet another undead warrior. I concentrated my magic upon it and decimated it with a well placed Death to Undead spell.
In the adjoining chamber another stairway would take me down to the level below.
As soon as I stepped onto the stairs several skeletons ran up the steps. Like the others, this group didn't pose much of a problem. They did manage to wound me slightly but it was easily taken care by quaffing a healing potion. I continued descending the stairs slowly. I didn't want to trigger another ambush.
The stairway took me below to a mineshaft. What could this place have been?
The shaft split ahead. I opted to take the right path.
That was a waste of time. It was a dead end. The only thing I'd encountered was another skeleton.
I backtracked to the split and this time traveled down the left path. A corpse still clutched two potions in its hands. He wouldn't be needing them any longer so I took them.
The end of this shaft opened up to reveal a wider, more open room. A partial stonewall stood nearby. Whether the wall was put up to keep the skeletons out or if it was broken to release the undead I couldn't tell.
A floating, robed figure stood at the end of the room and began throwing ice bolts in my direction. From another part of the room, more skeletal warriors charged toward me.
When I'd defeated the skeletons, I turned my attention to the undead mage. And it just in time. A red aura to emanate from the skeletal wizard. My magical training told me that it was preparing to summon some more friends.
I immediately rushed toward it, sword unsheathed and held at the ready.
I arrived just in time to disrupt the spell. I was in melee range which forced magic wielding skeleton to fight. It started to throw more ice bolts at me. The attack had little effect. My enchanted robe absorbed much of the impact.
The undead creature died, falling to the ground in a crumpled heap. Among the bones I discovered the source of the skeleton's magic. A handful of magical scrolls and a rune. A dark red book was also found..
I picked up the book and examined it. The cover was plain and without decoration. The only thing that adorned the front was what I assumed was the title "Chromanin".
I flipped it open. It was completely blank with the exception of two pages toward the middle.
I put the book away. More undead could lurking nearby, the riddle would have to wait. I opened the two chests I'd seen and found some magic ore. I could certainly use it after I'd spent so much money on my new robe.
Behind where I'd fought the undead mage was another set of passages. Some skeletons roamed the area but were small in number and posed little trouble. As I walked further down the passage I began to notice the smell of saltwater.
What I saw next quickly explained the smell. The cave opened to reveal an old, hidden dock. I recalled the ship wreck on the nearby shore, which now made more sense.
It was evident that it had been many years since the dock last saw use. Whether the inhabitants left of their own accord or were driven out by the undead I couldn't be sure. What I could be sure of was that it was quite late and I was exhausted from the day's activities. I fumbled around my pouches until I found the rune that would deliver me back to the New Camp.
When I arrived in Saturas' room, the Water Mage Riordian immediately called out to me.
"I'm glad you've come!" he said. "I've been expecting you!"
I yawned. "You've been expecting me? Why?"
"Gorn asked me to send you to him as soon as you arrived."
"He has a plan to free the occupied mine." That sounded quite good to me. I needed to get inside to speak with Ur-Shak's friend.
"Is he still guarding the entrnace to the mine?" I asked.
"Yes! Please see him as soon as possible."
Saving the Free Mine was going to have to wait until tomorrow. I was exhausted and barely able to stay on my feet. I would not be of any help to Gorn in this state. I returned to my hut and promptly collapsed onto my bed.
Update 20 supplement: Chromanin boss fight Viddler