Bloodstone

Interlude: a job offer

Adapted from email:

Following the departure of the surviving goblins into the darkness, the residents of the Vaasan Gate begin to pick up the pieces under the pall of smoke. It turns out that casualties have been light: two of the workers from the fortress have been killed and another dozen injured, there were another two injuries in the “town”. More than twenty goblin bodies are burning on a pyre by morning. Several tents have been incinerated and the north wall of Mother Adellard’s boarding house was badly damaged: it’s being patched up with canvas until it can be fixed properly.

A pleasant surprise for those of you new to town is that Captain von Hecht, commander of the local garrison, has turned up with a small bag of gold marks. He’s been sitting in the tavern handing bounties out to those who took part in the fighting. The going rate appears to be 2 marks per goblin left ear: Astra has prepared to take advantage of this slightly gruesome practice…

The gentleman you rescued from the goblin rider has survived the assault and is recovering in his room at the boarding house. On the day after the raid, he requests your attendance at his bedside.

While still weak from his injuries, he is recovering well and sitting up in bed. He is quite young, maybe in his early twenties, and seems a little effete for the region, but his manner of speech indicates that he is from one of the cities in the south of Damara.

“I just wanted to express my gratitude for your assistance during the altercation last night. The physician tells me I will recover in a few days, but it looks like I’d have cashed in for good if you chaps hadn’t turned up when you did. Shame about Prince, he was a fine hunting hound, damn those goblins…

“Anyway, you seem a capable group and I was rather hoping you could do a job for me?

“Right, my name is Andreas von Karevich, from Heliogabalus. My family owns a small number of business interests in the Pass and Sunderland – you know, mines, farms and such like, and during the invasion we lost contact with them all. Pater sent me up here to assess the situation and see if it was worth reopening any of them. We have a small bloodstone mine near the north wall of the Pass, which my local agent went to check. He never came back. I suspect there’s something unpleasant lurking either in the mine or in the vicinity.

“Here’s my offer: if you can figure out what happened to him and ensure it won’t happen again – by which I mean clear any monsters out of the dungeon – I’ll pay you 20 marks total.

“What do you say?”

Clerical magic not being immediately available, Astra casts a couple of cure light wounds spells to heal his injuries while negotiating him up to 50 marks. He also allows you to keep the bounty for any monsters you kill, along with their treasure, but he would be grateful if you didn’t loot the mine itself!

Jedda: “I have no need of tokens, beads and baubles that your primitive western culture uses as barter. Back home my community operates like a family, we do not barter over tasks that need acted upon, I shall help you retrieve your…. family agent. Clearly you are some form of quartermaster or grain-keeper, perhaps someday you will in return help my family, such is the way of things.”

Andreas: “Hmm, I had heard things were done a little differently east of the Giantspires, but, as you say, such is the way of things.

“If you plan on staying in this part of the world, you might find such ‘tokens, beads and baubles’ of more use than you think. You will have little luck obtaining services, food and goods from the merchants of Damara without them. Perhaps you could consider them a record of debts owed and owned? Maybe your colleagues can assist you with their use.

“My family can be a little mercenary and would be unlikely to honour a favour owed to one they consider a barbarian. I will, however, consider your timely intervention last night as a personal debt. Feel free to call on me if you have need.”

Eckhard: “We will gladly accept your offer of 50 marks, sir. I myself lived in Heliogabalus for a time, and it would be an honour to help your family, and to aid the restablishment of civilisation in this battered land.”

Grodn grunts in agreement with the others, his arms crossed: “Aye, we’ll do it. Should we be expecting any defences…guards, traps or the like? What can you tell us about this mine?”

Andreas: “The mine in question lies about a mile south of the North Wall (aside: the escarpment marking the northern edge of the Pass) and four miles from the mining village of Virdin. It’s built in one of the sinkholes dotted around the valley and was worked by three human miners. It wasn’t big, but it turned out a steady enough stream of bloodstone to make it profitable. Just before Zhengyi’s invasion, the miners had opened up a new gallery as the original shaft was played out.

“Obviously, we lost contact as soon as the Witch-king took over. That was over ten years ago, so we don’t expect the miners to still be alive!

“My agent, Karl Tzeghenov, came to the Pass about two months ago, looking to survey our holdings and see about getting things going again. As far as I can make out, he headed for the mine at the beginning of Flamerule and never came back. He had no hirelings with him: nobody expected any trouble within the Pass, but as last night showed, things aren’t that simple.

“If the mine was structured according to our usual standards, there won’t be any traps: locked doors and active miners are usually sufficient to keep claim-jumpers out. The mine should be well-shored-up, but I can’t vouch for its condition after so long. I’d imagine the biggest threat will be cave-ins. There should be two structures outside: a residence of some description and a secure locker for tools.

“What I need you to do is secure the mine and survey its current extent and condition. You look like a local lad, Grodn, do you have any mining experience? If not, I’ll be happy to accept a less expert opinion. If you can, find out what happened to Volksmann and see if you can recover his body, but that’s less important than the mine’s security.

“I’ll pay you 20 marks now, the rest on completion.”

He hands you a small leather bag, full of gold coins.

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