Part 6: Chapter FourSliver of Silver
The party treks south away from the willow grove and Dragonholt. After an hour hike, they make their way down into a rocky fissure that branches away from the main road. The path soon lead over a stone bridge that crosses an underground river. A few buildings stand before the mine's entrance in various states of disrepair. The mine's main entrance is blocked by a makeshift set of double doors barred from the inside by a heavy wooden beam.
"Based on the map Fiore showed us," says Deepmind to the others, "we should be able to follow the river's edge to the emergency access tunnel."
"Assuming it isn't blocked up, or trapped, or a hundred other things," Minar mutters.
"If so," says Athtar, resting a hand on the hilt of his sword, "we can always fight our way through. Goblins are craven, they won't stand a determined assault."
Nobody contradicts him, but nobody seems all that determined to charge headlong into the teeth of a goblin horde either. The party sticks to the plan and follows the river to a ticket of brambles. Sliding between the rock face of the ravine and the hazardous thorns, they come across the concealed tunnel - a narrow and dark passage that falls deep into the stone.
Unprompted, Urist extracts an odd-looking oil lamp of his own design and lights it, illuminating a rough climb down into darkness. "Follow my lead," Athtar says, dropping down first into the narrow space. The passage twists along - rough walls speaking clearly of its emergency nature - and the party picks their way along gingerly. Finally, they come to the point where the passage joins a main hallway, though the opening between the two passages is no more than a gap in the rock beside a wooden support beam.
Athtar is about to squeeze through when Deepmind grabs his elbow from behind. "Listen!" she hisses, and the elf pauses. The footsteps and voices of two goblins, idly jabbering with one another as they patrol nearby.
A) Ambush the patrolling goblins (this option will not exhaust activation)
B) Hide until the patrol has passed by
(A reminder that activation rules are in effect again while on an adventure)
Deepmind pushes Athtar back into the shadows of the passageway, where the two meld against the shadows. The goblins pause in front of the opening to jabber at one another for a moment. Deepmind glares back at the party, Urist in particular, who gets her meaning and smothers the lantern - but in doing so, accidentally clanks it against the stone of the wall.
Deepmind does have Stealth
Holding their breath, the party waits. Silence follows, and the goblins don't seem to have noticed the sound. After a long moment, the goblins continue on their way, jabbering to one another as they go. Deepmind holds her hand up a few more moments to be sure, then lets it drop, along with the collective breath of the party.
"Sorry," whispers Urist, chagrined.
Athtar gestures for the group to follow, and one by one they squeeze from the side passage. They follow te main passage along the route recalled from the map until they reach a large, rectangular room. On the left is a vast stone trough. A pipe nearly an arm's length across emerges upward from the stone floor to deposit water in the trough, but no water is flowing now. A waterwheel connects to a collection of gears that powers a smaller water screw - presumably the one meant to pump the water up to the river above.
Along the back wall is an iron walkway elevated above the ground. Under the walkway, a large furnace is set into the wall, cold and dark. Above, along the walkway, are a series of levers and wheels.
"Fiore mentioned this," says Deepmind, waving around the group. "Pipeworks. Says they keep the heart of the mine from flooding. I think she said we should reactivate them, if we can."
A) [Craftsmanship] Heat the furnace and get the pipeworks running again.
B) Blindly attempt to activate the pipe system.
C) Ignore the pipeworks and continue onward
The group takes in the intimidating controls and mechanisms littered around the pipeworks, considering their options. "Such mining systems are typically of Dwarven design, are they not?" asks Athtar, turning to Urist.
"Ehhhh, typically," agrees the alchemist, uneasily. "I'm sure I could, perhaps..."
Minar snaps his fingers and turns away from the pipes. "I've got it." He hefts a shovel and begins loading coal from a nearby pile into the furnace.
"Uhhh," says Aria, skeptically. "Not to throw water on this burst of enthusiasm, but you think maybe we should let the experts handle this one?"
"I said I've got it," Minar grunts, but as he works, Urist removes a small tinderbox from his pack, and soon the furnace is aglow with heat.
With the furnace running, the wildlander takes stock of the controls and mechanisms, testing a few with Urist peering over his shoulder. "The pipes look like they've held up," he remarks, and the dwarf absently nods his agreement. "Okay - hold on to something." Spinning a wheel, the air is filled with the screech of long-still metal sliding against metal as the larger water screw begins to turn slowly. Minar releases one lever and the screeching stops, and the screw builds up speed.
Before long, a constant stream of water pours from the water screw to fill the trough. Urist points out another lever, and Minar nods before pulling it, the smaller water screw beginning to pull water from the trough and out of the mine.
After a few more minor adjustments to the speeds of the two screws, the water level in the stone trough is constant. "That ought to do it," declares Minar, who turns back to the party with a slightly smug expression. "Not my first tangle with plumbing, actually."
"Never doubted you for a second," Aria reassures, stepping briskly toward the far side of the room. "Come on, before the noise brings down a mob of goblins on our heads."
They leave the pipeworks and descend a set of stairs into another tunnel. They'd only just begun to creep down it when Athtar gestures for the group to halt. Carefully, he edges forward and looks around a corner.
A side passage opens up into a natural cavern, which is studded with small fungal growths that glow with a faint purple luminescence. To one side of the cavern, a lone goblin is leaning over, looking at something on the grond and making small snorty giggles. What ever it's doing, it doesn't seem to have noticed the party.
A) Draw steel and attack!
B) Sneak up behind the goblin and subdue it quickly
C) Ignore the goblin and sneak past
Anyone available for a vote?
Athtar is halfway through drawing his sword when Urk ghosts past. On silent feet, she slinks into the cavern like a shadow. She is only just out of reach when the creature suddenly stands and jabbers something to itself under its breath. The goblin reaches for the dagger at its belt.
Urk has Brawling
With a practiced motion, she grabs the goblin lightning fast, wrapping it in a powerful choke hold. The goblin is so shocked it barely remembers to struggle, and before long, it goes limp in her arms. Urk lays the creature to rest on the stone floor.
"Hardcore," Aria whispers.
"Sooner or later, the alarm will be raised," Athtar warns. "The closer we get to the heart of the mine and whatever creature leads this mob, the higher our peril."
"Then let's not waste time talking about it." Deepmind strides past where the goblin sentry had stood guard and leads the party deeper underground.
Urist pauses to examine what the goblin had been looking at: a patch of old mushrooms, identical to the ones high up on the ceiling and walls of the cavern. The mushrooms in this patch are larger than the others. Licking his lips with anticipation, he begins scraping the crop into a satchel from his belt.
Gain the Strange Mushroom
"C'mon, Urist!" Aria calls from the tail of the group. The alchemist hustles to rejoin his companions.
Leaving the cavern behind, they follow the main corridor further underground. After some time, they come across a thick iron door set into the side of the passageway.
"The map called this the blastworks," Deepmind muttered cautiously. "
A) Take a look
B) Pass it by
(Neither option exhausts activation)
(Also yeah it seems like maybe the thread might be better suited to the Game Room? I haven't really done much in there before, more of an LP poster, but the format seems more amenable. I might see about getting the thread moved if possible ,though I don't know how many people will be eager to catch up on the story so far. Worth a try though.)
Curious, Urist strolls past Deepmind, pausing only to leave his lantern by the doorway. The room is square and no more than four paces across with walls, floor and ceiling lined with rough-riveted iron. Nearly everything in the room is metal as well - mixing stations for powder, supply shelves, crates for explosives - excepting only giant glass jars of raw materials marked with paper labels long faded.
The ligting comes from hanging glass flasks full of luminescent purple mushrooms, though time has dulled their light to a soft amethyst glow, making the room worryingly dim.
"Perfect!" Urist exclaims, rubbing his hands together. "Just like the blastworks back home. I'd hardly dared to hope!" He begins eyeing the glass jars eagerly, his mind whirring with concoctions. "Give me just a few moments in here and we'll have enough blasting powder to put paid to any goblin warlord in this mine."
Athtar grimaces, shifting uneasily from foot to foot. "Dwarven explosives are notoriously... temperamental. We need this mine intact - I would rather trust to our strength of arms than risk a collapse."
The alchemist scoffs. "Blasting powder is an exact science, we have nothing to worry about so long as it's used responsibly." As he speaks, Urist idly pulls a glowing mushroom jar from the wall bracket it sat in and removes the contents, sniffing it curiously before taking a nibble. He frowns, returning the mushroom. "Better to have and not need, eh?"
A) [Alchemy] Create your own explosives from the components
B) Grab some explosives from the crates
C) Leave the crates and move on
After searching the room with an alchemist's practiced eye, Urist manages to find each of the needed ingredients and set them up at a station with the strongest light source. Working with extreme care, he mixes up a new batch of blasting powder. There's enough fresh ingredients left for only a single explosive.
Aria digs around in the discarded crates and comes up with a dry shell made of paper and twine, and Urist fills it with blasting powder. Next, he creates a blast core by packing blasting powder and a fuse in a tightly wrapped cylinder. Inserting the blast core into the blasting powder in the shell and sealing the container completes the explosive so that only the fuse protrudes. "It may not be pretty," Urist remarks, holding the bomb aloft, "but it will surely produce a strong explosion if the need arises."
He turns to notice the rest of the party, packed close at the far end of the blastworks. He gives them a reassuring smile and tucks the bomb away into his clothing. "No need to fret, so long as I don't catch fire."
"Riiight," mutters Deepmind, giving him an untrusting side-eye. "Come on, let's keep moving."
Cautiously opening the door to the main corridor and looking down in confusion, Deepmind realizes the lantern is gone. She glances up to see a goblin holding the lantern and examining it curiously. The creature looks back to notice her standing in the doorway, and for a moment neither of them move. Then it shrieks and drops the lantern to the ground where the glass shatters.
"Goblin sentry!" Deepmind hisses, before reeling back as the lantern goes up in a surprisingly aggressive gout of flame. The flaming lantern oil spreads across the ground, while beyond it the goblin sets off running.
A) Leap the flames and chase the goblin
B) Put out the fire before giving chase
"We have to go after him!" shouts Athtar, drawing his sword.
"Wait!" yells Aria, who quickly kicks the lantern down the tunnel to remove at least one source of ignition from the pooled oil. "If this oil spreads to the blastworks who knows what it'll do!"
Blanching, Athtar and the others begin pulling blankets from their packs or grabbing anything loose in the room that might work to smother the remaining flames.
As Aria stomps out the last embers, she hears a clatter and a shriek. She looks up to see that the fleeing goblin has tripped over the discarded lantern and is now struggling to his feet once more.
"Now we go after him!" she says, and Athtar once again draws his sword.
They start running, following the goblin to what appears to be a way-station for mining carts, nearly empty except for a pair of carts sitting on a downward-sloping track. Without slowing down, the goblin jumps into the front cart and releases the brake lever. The cart quickly picks up speed as it glides along the tracks, and its goblin rider lets out a self-satisfied cackle.
The party piles into the other cart, lifting the brake, and are soon speeding along after the creature. The carts careen through the dimly-lit mine tunnels, increasing in speed as the tracks take them deeper underground.
The goblin takes notice of the rolling pursuit, and how they're gaining. The creature hefts a sizable rock from its cart and holds it overhead, ready to toss at Athtar's head.
"OH NO," Urk deadpans from behind. "NOT A ROCK."
A) Anticipate the goblin's throw and dodge
B) Catch the hurled projectile
Athtar lowers his hips and braces himself to receive the hurled rock. The creature heaves and tosses the stone with all of its might. The projectile - roughly the size of his head - tumbles through the air, straight toward Athtar's chest.
Athtar does not have two of the following skills: Athletics, Brawling, Endurance
He snatches the rock out of the air. Or at least, his hands collide with the rock in the air. The stone, however, simply deflects upward into Athtar's head. The pain in his arms suggesting he might've absorbed some of the blow is small comfort, as blood flies from his nose over his startled companions.
"Ath!" Deepmind yells above the thunder of the carts. "Are you okay?"
Delirious, the elf teeters around to face the party. "Nighttime already?" he burbles, focusing on nothing in particular. "I see staaaars..."
Athtar loses 3 stamina
The goblin jeers and stoops to lift another rock. This one, however, is too large for the creature, and try as it might it cannot lift the stone slab.
The passage opens into a much larger natural cavern eroded by an underground river over the centuries. The chamber is several paces across and extends to the right far into the darkness. The track ahead crosses a bridge over a narrow channel of water before coming to an abrupt end at a buffer stop.
As soon as the goblin's cart clears the bridge, the creature leaps out and tucks into a nimble roll before bouncing back to its feet and turning to face the party. The abandoned cart crashes into the buffer stop with a cacophonous ringing of iron.
"Uh, guys," warns Minar, with mounting alarm. "Have we got a plan for stopping this thing?"
A) Throw the brake lever
B) Leap from the minecart to safety
C) Use the cart's momentum to launch a flying assault
D) [Archery] Tumble from the cart and fire at the goblin
E) [Arcana + Runes] Launch the minecart at the goblin with runic magic
"JUMP!" Urk yells, and without waiting to explain, she leaps out the back of the cart. Bemused and panicked, the rest of the party follows suit, with Deepmind dragging the dazed elf behind her and all six adventurers hurtle toward the ground.
With her growth rune grasped in one hand, Urk bellows curses in Orcish, and in moments ancient roots and even the wooden braces of the rails heed her call, rising to catch the falling party one by one and soften their impacts. At the end of this procession, the wooden braces under the cart itself slam upward, launching the heavy minecart into the air.
Palm open, Urk swats the air in front of her with her other hand, grasping her blasting rune. An invisible force spikes the minecart out of the air and sends it hurtling at the terrified goblin.
The errant minecart collides with the goblin full on and tumbles past until it comes to a stop against the back wall. The goblin - or what remains of it - lies motionless on the ground, while the echoes of the resounding crash die down.
"THAT HOW URK THROW," Urk sniffs in satisfaction.
Having dealt with the fleeing goblin, the party takes a better look at their surroundings. This larger tunnel was clearly carved by the underground river, but the back wall has been braced with sturdy wooden beams, and multiple mineshafts have been dug through the stone. To the left, the tunnel is blocked off by a dam made of tarred wood and fortified with iron bands. Water from beyond the dam spills into a channel that passes under the bridge the minecarts rode over.
To the right, the natural passage continues on until they can no longer see its walls through the darkness. Braced against one of the support beams some ten paces away stands a rickety wooden shack that must have once served as a foreman's office.
The dam bows in the middle from years of water pressure. There are gaps along the top of the dam, likely for emergency overflow relief. The structure below the gaps is worn, as if water flowed through for many years, but no water pours forth now.
A large pipe nearly as wide as an arm is long extends up from the water beyond the dam and up through the stone ceiling. The piping shakes slightly, with the distant grinding of the Dunwarr water screw pulling water up through the mine. Thanks to the party's efforts at the pipeworks, the immense pressure from the damn is relieved.
As the party continues to take in their surroundings, Aria lets out a low "Uhhhhh..." The party's heads turn toward the direction of her stare, resting on two goblins that have been standing just a few paces away the whole time. One of them holds a spear and gawks at the splatter of the goblin sentry. The other carries a bow and stares wide-eyed in the party's direction.
The goblin archer clutches at the arrows in the makeshift quiver at its belt. The spear-wielding goblin turns its gaze toward the group and rushes forward, shouting!
A) Brace to receive the charge
B) Dodge the spear and counterattack
C) [Archery] Fire at the goblin archer with your own bow
D) [Thievery] Pepper the archer with thrown knives
Minar draws and nocks an arrow in an instant. The shaft flies and amazingly collides with the goblin's arrow in midair. For a moment neither he nor his opponent can believe what has happened.
Minar has Willpower
The goblin archer seems to have found this event hilarious. It begins to laugh and point at the arrows on the ground and jabber something to its spear-wielding companion.
Minar takes advantage of the distraction and looses a second arrow at his opponent. The laughter is cut short with a wheeze as he scores a direct hit, and the goblin archer collapses. Wrestling with her own bow, Aria pauses to glance to Minar. "It was pretty funny, though," she says. He just shrugs.
The spear-wielding goblin is bearing down on the group at a run. Its spearpoint is trained at Athtar as he struggles to regain his bearings.
A) Dodge the spear and counterattack
B) Disarm the goblin and subdue it
C) [Runes] Command the goblin's spear to backlash
Rather than dodge, Athtar stands his ground before the goblin charge, wrestling to free his sword. It quickly becomes obvious he will draw too slowly to parry the spear bearing down on him.
In a blur of motion, Deepmind barrels past the elf and around the spearpoint, crashing into the oncoming goblin.
Deepmind has Brawling
She grabs the spear by the haft and pushes it away from her companion while slamming her palm into the goblin's elbow. There's an audible crunch and Deepmind twists the weapon out of the creature's limp hands. The goblin collides against the Hyrrnyx harmlessly. She spins and throws the creature to the ground, swinging its own weapon down to bludgeon the back of its head. The goblin jolts, then goes unconscious.
Breathing heavily, Deepmind turns back to Ath who stands with his sword in hand and his surprise not entirely concealed. "Thank you," he offers, managing a polite nod. Deepmind shrugs it off.
"Well," says Urist, surveying the scene with satisfaction. "I suppose that takes care of that."
A sound like oncoming thunder rolls through the tunnel. Minar shoots Urist a sour look, who has the good graces to look apologetic.
After some time, the noise resolves into the sound of countless goblin feet flooding into the cavern. In moments, the chamber is filled with goblins flowing out of the tunnels and packing shoulder to shoulder in a ring surrounding the party.
"Back to back!" Athtar hisses, and the party quickly forms their own circle facing outward, weapons drawn at the ready.
The goblins jeer and brandish weapons and torches. Though the air is filled with malice, none of them attack. The door of the foreman's office creaks open, and the goblin horde falls silent.
In the doorway stands the single largest goblin anyone in the party has ever seen - easily half again as high as any other goblin and as wide as he is tall, rolls of fat cascading from his chin. Unlike the other goblins - who wear no more than worn leathers - this one is outfitted with a bewildering array of armor, all too big or too small for him. A fine breastplate has been deconstructed into sections and lashed awkwardly across his chest. What were once fine velvet trousers are being held up by a hardworking combination of sturdy leather belt and suspenders. And a huge winged helmet sits atop his head, underneath which peek small, pig-like orange eyes.
The vast goblin surveys the room with a superior glare and idly fingers an iridescent stone fragment on a cord around his neck. He steps out of the office in a manner that seems a passable attempt at looking regal, shutting the door behind him with a slap that shakes the whole of the structure. He then immediately ruins the grandeur of his exit by taking a final disgusting chomp of the rat-on-a-stick he holds in his left hand and tosing the remains dismissively to the side (eliciting a yelp from the unfortunate underling it hits).
"I am the great Splig, King of All Goblins!" he bellows, throwing his arms wide, spraying bits of half-chewed rat from his maw.
B) "You must leave this place!"
C) [Performance] "Oh Great Splig! I come bearing a warning!"
Aria gestures behind her toward the dam. "Are you familiar with that, O King? It is a dam that keeps these caverns from being entirely flooded." She takes a moment for this to sink in before she continues. "You can see that the water spills forth. That is because the dam can no longer hold back the water of the river. It's just a matter of time before all of this is underwater."
At this, there is a hushed muttering among the goblins, who look up warily, and Splig grinds his teeth for a few seconds before barking "Silence!" bringing a hush back upon the chamber.
The massive goblin squints at Aria for a moment before giving a rough laugh. "I don't believe you," he grunts.
A) Tell him a tale of tragic flooding (I'll allow Aria to continue this negotiation attempt despite using her activation, for story reasons)
B) Threaten him with explosives
C) Draw steel and prepare for battle
Aria looks closely and notices that for all his seeming indifference, his eyes keep darting upward to the dam. She shrugs grandly, spreading her hands. "If you don't believe my warning, what's to be done, O King? All I can do is tell you a tale of another ruler, who ignored such warnings and the consequences that resulted."
Reaching over her shoulder, Aria draws her violin and begins to play. After a few mournful notes quiets the crowd, she follows in a low voice.
"The Doom of Ilfyn Cair,
A king, of river fair,
His fortune, it did make,
His end, it did forbear..."
She launches into the tale of a vain king who ordered a river diverted to clear land for a grand coliseum, against the warnings of their architect. This king threw the architect in the dungeon and built the coliseum, but at a grand gala with the country's nobility, the dam broke and swept them all to their deaths.
As Splig's face morphs from excitement to horror, she begins yet another stanza focusing on bloated, swollen bodies. The surrounding goblins begin to pale or glance up at the dam nervously, while even Aria's own companions feel their stomachs turn from some of the more graphic descriptions.
Splig finally cracks. "Enough!" shouts Splig, his voice a panicked squeak. "I mean, that's enough of that. Water sounds bad. I will speak with you more about this."
Splig waves his arms grandly, and there's a sudden hubbub of rustling and shoving as all the goblins part to allow their leader to approach the party. Splig walks up, leans close to Aria, and smiles. "You have a good point. I can tell you are smart. And to tell the truth, I was just thinking of leaving this place. It's boring, and the rats are starting to run out. But - and this is the important part -" he pokes Aria in the chest with one meaty finger. "The King of All Goblins can't leave because someone asked him to, yeah? So we gotta fight."
Athtar steps forward to protest, but Splig shakes his head quickly, sending the big winged helmet wobbling side to side, and leans in closer. "Not a real fight, just play-fighting, show-style. Show this lot" - he gestures at all the goblins - "they were forced, it was honor, yeah?"
Aria looks over to Athtar, uncertain, who nods with one hand resting on his sword. Splig laughs, leaning mercifully backward. "Fight time!" he declares, and he holds up his hands to the shrill cheers of his cohorts. He holds out a meaty hand, and the crowd parts for three goblins carrying a massive oaken club. Splig takes it from them with satisfaction, patting its gnarled surface as they scurry away.
"Great work, Aria," Minar whispers. "You've roped us into a duel with the world's biggest and dumbest goblin."
Urist pulls at his braids, eyes flicking backward and forward with agitation across the jeering mob of goblins. "What now?"
The party's activations refreshes. Choose one party member to complete the one-on-one duel with Splig. Take a moment if you like, I won't be able to get back to this until tomorrow morning.
Athtar moves to place himself opposite Splig, but Urk's heavy hand rests on his shoulder. "WHY NOT LET URK HANDLE THIS ONE, ELF?"
Perplexed, Athtar looks from Urk to the huge, bulbous goblin, who gives his massive club a few experimental swings. "He might be a fool, but he's a dangerous fool - you could be seriously injured, even if he keeps his word."
"URK HATES GOBLINS AND ALWAYS WANTED TO BE KING-KILLER, PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR URK." She switches to what passes for a low whisper for Urk and adds "ANYWAY, IF THE FIGHT IS FOR SHOW, SAVE YOUR STRENGTH TO BAIL US OUT WHEN THINGS GO WRONG."
Athtar looks to the rest of the group for support, but they look just as bemused and indecisive. Begrudgingly, he gives a nod of deference to Urk and steps aside, letting the Orcish sage square off against the Goblin king.
Urk makes a show of stretching, cracking her knuckles, and leaning her neck back and forth - basic limbering up for a fight with a bit of subtle bravado thrown in. Splig attempts to stretch for a few embarrassing moments, huffing and groaning, then gives up, acting as if he'd done exactly as he'd meant to.
"URK LIKES SPLIG'S PRETTY NECKLACE," Urk nonchalantly calls out across the cave. "FLEE MINE AND LEAVE RUNE, AND MAYBE URK WILL LET GOBLINS GO IN PEACE." She reaches into her pockets and withdraws two runes of her own, that begin to thrum with power.
Splig laughs loudly. "Big words!" he bellows.
A) Give the goblin flunkies a show
B) Let the giant goblin wear himself out.
Might be some slight implications on this one, so any chance of a tie-breaker?
Urk doesn't feel like letting Splig manipulate her into action. Instead, she gives him a menacing grin and, without fanfare, waves the goblin over, goading him to attack. Splig barks a laugh and obliges, advancing forward with his massive club at the ready. He swings the club toward Urk and grunts in surprise as Urk ducks behind a discarded minecart wheel to block the blow. Splig advances further and strikes a second time, only to have the strike be swept aside by a length of railing sticking out of the ground.
So it goes for a minute in this pattern: Urk retreats, Splig advances; Splig strikes, and Urk dodges or blocks with some random piece of debris. Finally Splig is gasping for breath, sweating profusely and growling to himself. Urk halts, and Splig stops opposite to her, doing his best to smirk confidently. "Had enough?" he pants.
"YES," Urk casually remarks, looking bored. She gives a flick of one finger grasping her blasting rune, and a small wave knocks a discarded pickaxe by Splig's feet. Splig's rough laugh turns immediately into a yelp of alarm as he trips wide and goes sprawling.
The party cheers and the goblins groan with defeat. Urk leans over and tones down her voice so that the surrounding throng of goblins cannot hear. "DUEL OVER, URK WIN, YOU CAN LEAVE NOW."
Instead of surrendering, however, Splig grabs Urk's leg and, with a sudden roar, throws her aside.
Urk loses three stamina
Urk rolls back to her feet without much of an issue, but when she rises she sees Splig getting to his feet as well, his hideous face red with rage and wounded pride. A long silence stretches out as Urk and the massive goblin regard each other carefully, trying to seek out the next step.
The silence of the mob is broken by a soft whisper - one goblin chanting "Splig, Splig, Splig," over and over, joined by more and more of them until the room shivers with the noise, carried by so many shrill, raspy voices.
Splig surveys the assembled goblins, his expression slowly morphing from frustrated rage into a dark, sinister smile. Finally, he turns his gaze to Urk. "You hear that? How my loyal subjects support me? My subjects!" he roars, ad the goblins unleash a series of cheers in return, causing the party to reflexively raise their weapons.
Splig cracks his neck and grins. "So good! Gives me energy to finish this fight. And by the way" - he leans over, picks up his club, and hefts it, pointing at Urk - "the deal is off."
Athtar hefts his sword, ready to step in, but Deepmind hisses at his elbow. "The deal is off, the duel is still on!"
"What are you talking about?" Aria shouts over the din, her drawn bow pointing wildly into the crowd of jeering goblins. "We've gotta bail out Urk before-"
"If we attack Splig the rest of the goblins'll come down on us," Deepmind growls. "If Urk wins the goblins'll probably scatter without a leader."
Minar's muttering is barely audible above the din. "And if she loses, we'll be scraping up bits of pulped Orc from all over the tunnel walls."
A) Goad him into attacking
B) Charge at the giant goblin with everything you have. (ends the duel, normal activation resumes)
C) [Arcana] Channel runic lightning into Splig
D) Toss the explosive at Splig's feet and take cover (ends the duel, normal activation resumes)
Urk grips her lightning rune tightly. She can feel the energy within the shard building, and her eyes begin to glow with unnatural light. With a strained shout, she unleashes a terrifying bolt of lightning that arcs from her arm to Splig's winged helm and travels down through his body.
With a strangled scream, the massive goblin takes two steps forward, somehow enduring the power of the runeshard. Urk calls deeper into the shard's well of raw magic. A burst of electricity explodes from every fiber of her being, lightning arcing not only to Splig but swatting down smaller goblins left and right.
"She's pushing too hard!" Urist's voice cracks with panic. "Runes aren't safe to be overused like that!"
At last, the King of All Goblins staggers and falls, and Urk reins in the shard's magic. She collapses to her hands and knees, grasping at her chest and panting. A moment - two moments pass before she feels her heart start to beat once more. She glances up to see that Splig is likewise struggling.
"JUST... WARMING UP," Urk grunts from the ground.
Urk loses three stamina
Urk and Splig take a moment to reassess the situation. The smaller goblins menace the party with spears and knives, but Urk notices that some are sneaking away up the tunnel to the mine's entrance. Splig doesn't seem to have noticed his minions abandoning him. He is too busy watching Urk and waiting for her next move.
A) Press the goblin king with a ferocious charge (Will end the duel and resume normal activation)
B) Trick Splig into hurting himself
C) [Arcana] Perform a direct assault with runic fire
2/8, I updated the tracker on the 2nd post.
"Now!" Athtar barks, startling more than a few goblins as he rushes toward Splig, his sword poised to strike. Behind him, Minar and Aria loose arrows into the mob as Urist and Deepmind lob flasks and knives. The sudden storm catches the goblins by surprise, and Splig takes a step back but then hefts his massive club as if preparing to smash the elf out of his charge once he gets close.
Athtar has dueling
Athtar comes up short just before entering Splig's reach. The giant goblin swings through the open air and staggers forward into his own swing, which connects with the side of his oversized helmet and causes it to spin on his head and block his vision.
A vicious kick in the stomach sends him crashing into the foreman's cabin. The rotted wood of the cabin wall gives way beneath Splig's weight, causing the entire structure to collapse on top of him.
"Are you alright?" Athtar asks to Urk over his shoulder as the Orc woman struggles to her feet.
"URK HAD IT IN THE BAG," she chides, shakily slipping her rune shards back into her pockets.
A moment later, Splig appears from out of the wreckage - bloodied, bruised, and all bloodlust gone from is half-unfocused eyes. He staggers forward and plops the winged helmet back on his head. Smaller goblins, retreating from the party's withering fire, gather around him to jabber at one another.
Splig kicks a bit of rubble aside and reaches down to lift his massive club. He hefts it and points it in Athtar's direction, his beady eyes shadowed by his oversized helmet. Then without a word, he breaks into a dead sprint toward the bridge over the water channel and soon vanishes up the tunnel heading toward the mine's entrance.
A panic follows, with countless goblins abandoning their weapons and their reason to scramble over one another and follow their cowardly leader. Within a few moments, the party is alone in the empty mine, only the echoes of screaming goblins in the tunnels above and discarded, makeshift spears and clubs littering the ground as evidence that these halls were home to a goblin horde.
"I... do believe," Urist sounds out, carefully. "That it's over. Job well done, everyone."
Athtar sheaths his sword and watches as Urk, somewhat unsteadily, makes her way over to the collapsed foreman's office. She begins digging through the rotted planks.
"Good look finding anything worth looting," Minar calls over from where he picks through the goblins' cast-aways. "These guys weren't exactly treasure-rich."
Shifting a plan, Urist looks down and grins, before scooping up the iridescent crystal that had hung around Splig's neck. She holds it up for the group. "URK ALWAYS HAVE EYE FOR OPPORTUNITY."
It's a long walk back to the beginning of the mine, but the party takes comfort in the fact that they don't have to be wary of any goblin ambushes. They opt to avoid the hidden passage they entered by and instead head to the main entrance, walking past an abandoned guard post and several makeshift wooden barriers. The walk to Dragonholt will be sort, and then they can share the good news with Fiore.
A Sliver of Silver is Complete!
(Good job, guys! I'll take a minute before writing up our return to the blacksmith and the next option in town. Well done on defeating Splig and saving the silver mine.)