_11th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.
Chip, Chip, Chip.
Under the dim illumination of the lantern, The pick axe chipped against the hard mountain stone. Rager Diggerhand had always been a good digger. All of the Diggerhands were. A long noble line of Dwarf miners were the Diggerhands. Too bad Rager was the last of them.
Another hit of the pick axe, chip, chip. This was what Rager lived for. The simple tunneling that only a dwarf could do. This is what brought him from up north, to the dale lands. Him and the rest of the miners that had been hired to dig out here against the Thunderpeaks. All they knew is they were digging a shaft down into the mountain side, and should they hit something.. unusual, the foreman needed to be called. For over 9 tendays they had been digging in 12 hour shifts. But the promised pay was worth it. And besides, it was digging. That was always good for the soul. Chip, Chip. Plink. Crack.
Rager stopped. That was interesting. The last hit had pierced a hole in the wall, and the stone below it was cracked. Moving out of the Lantern light Rager looked close at the hole. There was a room beyond. The hole was too small to see much beyond. But Rager could open it wider. Turning down back up the tunnel Rager yelled, “Send the Foreman!! Now!!” Turning back to the small hole, Rager went back to work. Maybe the Foreman would give him a Bonus for finding whatever it was that he wanted.
It had taken 6 hours, but under the watchful eye of the Foreman, Rager had opened the hole into the chamber big enough that they both could move through it. It would have been faster if other miners had been able to help. But the Foreman had insisted that Rager have the sole honor of unearthing the chamber. The other miners had been allowed to retire early to their tents. The long project out here against the Thunder peaks was at end.
Rager held the torch as he moved into the room. The light bouncing off the walls illuminated a small room. A couple of old tables stood in the room, with what looked like a stone platform between them. The dust was thick here, this place had not seen traffic in many years. The Foreman was right behind him. “What is this place?” Asked Rager. “A old wizards Lab” Replied the Foreman.
“You did very well Rager, You will be well rewarded for this find.” Said the Foreman. “Oh look over there. There is what we seek.” Rager turned the torch towards the small stone platform. On top of it sat a small Mithril ring, twinkling brightly in the torch light. Strange runes danced along the rings band.
Rager stood staring at the finely crafted ring. Transfixed by the thoughts of how much he would be paid for finding this item, he barley felt the dagger slip between his ribs.
Maskull Darkhope wiped the dagger clean of blood and slid it back into the sheaf on his belt. Stepping over the body of the dwarf he approached the stone platform. It had taken years of research to find the lost lab. Then another full year to plan just how to reach it. Over 90 days he had spent out here at this Cyric forsaken mountain side working to have shafts dug down into the earth. So many of the shafts missed their target. But this time, they hit true. The dwarf digger they had hired had done his job well.
Looking at the object on the platform that had been his focus for the last few years, it seemed so small compared to the time. This small thing had taken him from his warm home and forced him to spend the last 90 days of a harsh winter holed up in a camp on the side of a mountain. It was always cold up here, and half the time he had to be below ground. Damnation he hated the cold, and he hated the dark of the mine tunnels. He would be so glad to return to his comfortable home in Zhentil Keep. Soon he would be there filling his belly with warm Ale watching the remaining winter pass.
Maskull reached out and picked up the small Mithral Ring. As his bare flesh touched the ring, something that had been dormant awakened inside the ring. A small undetectable pulse of magic rippled out from the ring. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the ripples of magic spread out from the ring moving steadily away from the source. After the first pulse of magic, the ring went dormant again.
Maskull studied the ring, he had thought he had seen something when he first picked up the right. Did it glow for a brief moment? No matter. Soon he would leave this place and take the ring back to his master. And then he would be done with the mountain tunnels, done with the cold, done with the Dales. First however, there was the matter of cleaning up the loose ends here in the camp.
12th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Commander’s Quarters, Daggerfalls in Daggerdell.
Mullister Viscard, Skymage of the mighty Zhentarim, was steadily thumping his fingers against the table at which he sat for his evening meal. “They should have found it by now.” Mullister said out loud. “I wonder what type of excuse Maskull will give me this time?”
No one else was in the room where Mullister dinned. But he found that talking to himself helped. Maskull had been running that camp of diggers trying to get down to the Labatory for over 9 Tendays now. If the delays continued he might suggest Maskull start drawing and quartering diggers to get everyone working faster. He needed them to reach the room and find the object before the snows started to melt and traffic started up on the roads. It would not do to have people start to ask questions about the ‘Mining’ camp.
As Mullister finished eating, a faint pulse of energy passed through the room. The pulse would have passed Mullister Unseen and Undetected had it not been for a small Mitral Ring that encircled a finger on his left hand. Ancient runes on the ring flashed as the pulse of magic passed through the room. With a start Mullister leapt up, knocking over a wine goblet and spilling its contents. “It’s Mine!” He shouted, “They have found it!”
Mullister turned and rushed down the Hallway. As he encountered a servant in the hallway, He shouted “You, Boy! I need my hippogryph mount readied to fly now!” With a start the youth bowed and ran for the stables as Mullister went to fetch a warm cloak.
12th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Bunkhouse in a small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.
Aidon Farsong was nervous. He lay in his bunk running this thumb and finger over a small silver pin shaped like a harp. Turning it between his fingers he tried to make sense of what had him uneasy. Looking over at the empty bunk beside him, he wondered where Rager was. All of the other miners like Aidon had been sent out of the mine early and given the evening off. All except for Rager who had not been sent out with the others. Rager was not at evening meal either.
In fact that was part of what had Aidon uneasy. Evening meal was different than normal. Sure the food was the same, Meat and Potatoes and Bread. But instead of water, tonight they had Mead and Ale. And not in small amounts either. They were told it was in celebration, for the mine had struck what they had sought. And that tonight everyone was to celebrate and drink their fill. In the morning they would be allowed to leave with a large bonus in their pay.
It did not make sense.
Aidon had stumbled upon this mining camp about 3 tendays ago. He had been following a shipment of goods of what he had thought to be Zhentarim in origin. But it had worked over snow covered roads to this lonely mining camp. Taking on the disguise of a miner, Aidon had entered the camp looking for work. He was put to work rather quickly digging tunnels into the mountainside looking for.. something.. None of the miners knew what they were after, just that they had all been promised a good pay for their work here. Aidon had befriended a Dwarven miner named Rager, through him he learned that the camp was run by a man known only as the Foreman. The Foreman never interacted with the Miners other than to tell them where to dig, and to inspect the tunnels now and then. Every other person, from the Cooks to the Miners had been hired since this Mine was started. The Foreman seemed to be the only one who knew what they were after. But he was also the one who promised great pay for their efforts. In fact the pay promised would be more than these miners would make in 2 years of hard work. What ever the foreman was after, it had to be very valuable. So it would make sense he wanted to be as discrete as possible.
Still, something seemed sinister about this place. That’s why Aidon stayed, playing the part of a miner. He hoped to learn what it was, and if there truly was Zhentarim involvement he would report back to his superiors. Tonight it seemed what ever underlying plots were happening in this place, they were coming together. And unfortunately his friend was in the middle of it. With a sigh Aidon sat up. Everywhere else in the bunk house, everyone was sound asleep. Most of this lot would be heavily hung over in the morning, It’s probably a good thing their work was done after all. But still, something felt wrong, and Aidon had learned long ago to trust when things felt wrong.
Muttering the symbols of a spell, Aidon turned invisible. He moved silently out of his bunk. After moving the pillows under the blanket to appear like a still sleeping form, Aidon gathered his cloak, sword, and a small hand crossbow from the chest by his bunk. He moved to the back of the bunkhouse to sit by the back door. Quietly he settled down to watch for the night. Hoping he was wrong and he would just miss out on sleep. Aidon settled down into a somber night watch.
13th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Bunkhouse in a small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.
Aidon did not have long to wait. Shortly after midnight the doors to the bunkhouse opened and four figures cloaked in black entered. Looking about the room, they would have seen Aidon, had he not been invisible. The four figures spread about the room each moving to a bunk. They all drew long daggers and silently each on them plunged their dagger into the sleeping form in the bunk that they stood by. With a start Aidon stood and shouted out a warning to wake the rest of the miners. Only when he failed to hear his own shouted warning did he realize the entire bunkhouse was enveloped in a silence spell. Not a word could be said, not a sound heard as the Dark figures moved from bunk to bunk silently dispatching the sleeping forms. Understanding the cause to be lost, and that Aidon would not be a match for these four, Aidon quickly slipped out the door at the back of the bunkhouse, as the dark figures within finished their grisly task.
Aidon had moved his horse from the stables to the trees just outside the Foreman’s lodge when he spotted the Foreman. Leaving the Mine enterance the Foreman took long strides accross the camp-yard towards his lodge. Aidon, having had his invisibility spell wear off by now, hid behind a tall pine tree. Hoping that neither him nor his horse be spotted.
Through some form of luck, the Foreman never spotted him. Instead he entered his lodge quickly. The door swinging shut. Aidon looked at his horse. He knew he needed to ride away and report what had happened. However, the thirst for some answers drove him towards the Foreman’s lodge. Up the steeps he crept. Reaching the door, Aidon quietly slipped inside the Foreman’s Lodge.
Maskull Darkhope placed the small ring on the coner of the desk as he entered his Lodge. Moving across the room he started to warm his hands by the fire. It was so cold out here. But soon Mullister would be here to collect the ring. His black guard should have finished off all the miners. He would then set fire to the timber supports in the mine and to this camp. And all of the time wasted out here, all of the cold would just be a memory. The ring though.. Something bothered him about that simple loop of jewelry. It had not detected as magical, but the runes along it were old. Older than anything Maskull had seen before. So old that Maskull as educated as he was could not read them. He had asked about the ring, but Mullister would not say any more than it was important. Nevermind, let Mullister keep his secrets, he did not need to know what the ring did, it was enough that this errand was completed. Ahh but the ring, he better hold on to it, it would not due for it to be misplaced.
Turning around Maskull saw he was not alone in the room. A tall blond half-elf stood by the desk. And in his hand was the Ring! “Humm… Your face is familiar, you are one of my miners..Aidon I believe it was?” Maskull said slow and even, it would not due to spook this one before he could dispatch him and take back the ring.
“They are all dead, all of the miners. You had them all killed you black-heart. All over this ring?” Aidon said.
So he knew. No matter. “That ring in your hand boy.. You do not want that, only trouble will find you with that bauble. Give it to me and you may leave with your life.” As Maskull got closer he drew a long dagger and lunged at Aidon. In a quick flash Aidon had a hand crossbow up and launched a bolt which struck deeply into Maskull’s leg. Aidon then kicked a small stool across the room into Maskull’s feet tripping him up. Maskull landed face down on the floor.
As Maskull raised up from the floor, Ego bruised, and a pain in his leg from the deeply embedded bolt, he realised with a panic that Aidon had fled from his lodge house with the ring! “Guards!!” He shouted.
Aidon Farsong had been lucky, he had managed to sneak in after the Foreman without being noticed. As soon as he was in the room, he saw a small object twinkling on the desk. A small mithral ring, with runes set in the band. It took him just a moment to realize what that ring might be, the runes were unreadable, but the Aidon had read about this long lost artifact, and the others that had been built with it. It would also explain why so much trouble had been had to reclaim it from the earth. Many had died to bring this to light again, And many more would die if this fell into the hands of the Zhentarium. The ring could not be allowed to be had by the Foreman.
Luck was still one Aidon’s side as the Foreman was distracted by his thoughts and the Lodges fire. Slipping the ring into his palm, he was almost out the door before the Foreman had realized he had the ring. A brief encounter, just enough to delay the Foreman and Aidon was out the door running across the open ground to his horse waiting in the trees before him.
“GUARDS!” The shout of the Foreman rang out, magically enchanted to be heard all over camp. Two of the Dark cloaked figures emerged from the Bunk house. raising crossbows they both fired. One hit a tree right above Aidon. The other struck deep in his side.
But he had no time to worry about his injury, he was in the trees and on the back of his horse. Two more bolts flew wide of his head as he turned his horse up the hillside. Climbing through the snow his horse outpaced the mining camp. Disappearing into the darkness Aidon headed towards what he hoped would be safety.
16th Day of Hammer. 1364 DR
Location: Somewhere in the Cormanthor Forest near the banks of the River Duathhamper.
It had been a long four days. Aidon’s mount wandered slowly through the trees in the Cormanthor Forests. It was cold and gloomy, the first rays of the dawns sun had not broken over the mountains in the distance yet. For four days Aidon had bee pursued, riding away from those who wanted the ring. He had narrowly escaped a couple of ambushes. and so far he his luck has still been holding. However both rider and mount were nearly spent. Aidon’s side acked from where he had removed the bolt. His belly growled, as the meager gatherings in the forest had been nothing to stop his hunger. For almost a 100 miles over hills and through forest he had been pursued. And through all of it his mount had pushed on. Only able to do short rests along the way, Aidon had hoped for fresh snow to cover his tracks. But the skys had been clear, no new snow so he had left a pretty easy track to follow.
Stopping at the banks of a wide river, Aidon dismounted allowing his steed to drink deeply. Bending down to drink his own fill, Aidon looked long at the river. Pulling the ring out of the pouch he gave it a a long look over. It could not fall into the hands of those who pursued him. Aidon had hoped to reach Shadowdale, perhaps to get the ring into the hands of Elminster Aumar. But that was not to be. His way had been blocked each time he had tried to make it towards Shadowdale. Now by his best guess Aidon was somewhere close to Harrowdale. However he had doubts of even seeing there.
With a good throw Aidon threw the ring towards the center of the River. Turning end over end the ring hit the water leaving small ripples as it disappeared beneath the water. Perhaps that would be enough to keep the ring safe. It might travel all the way out to the Moonsea if Aidon was lucky. Getting back on his mount Aidon turned towards the hills and a wide cut logging road he had passed.
A Hour in on the road the sun started to rise above the far mountaintops. Warmth cascading down upon Aidon he gave his praise to Lathander. Giving him pause to say a simple prayer.
From death, life.
There is always another morning.
In the dawn, beauty reigns, and the way is clearer.
But Aidon’s luck was not to last. Ahead along the road were 4 riders. Their black mounts shining in the early morning sun. 3 of the riders were cloaked in black. The 4th rider wore no cloak or helm. The sunlight glinting off his scale armor showed him to be none other than the Foreman from the mining camp.
Maskull Darkhope had been waiting for this. He had been after this half-elf for 4 days now. The plans of his master was close to ruin. But he had to recover the ring. He had riders spread out all over the forest after this one. It was by favorable luck he was the one to catch him. His master had scryed this one, he knew who worked to wreck their plans. Maskull also had a score to settle.
Maskull Drew his sword, as did his 3 honor guard. Maskull shouted at the Half-elf,
" Harper!! , May your harp be unstrung, your dreams die and all your songs be unsung!"
With that Maskull and his 3 companions charged down the road.
Aidon looked one last time at the light of the morning. With a gentle pat he brushed his hand along the mane of his steed. Taking a moment he turned the collar of his cloak out to the world, allowing the light to shine off the small silver pin of a harp he had kept carefully hidden. Drawing his sword he whispered to his mount. “Well Thunderhoof, lets not keep our destiny waiting any longer shall we.” Charging forward towards Maskull and his riders, Aidon went to meet his fate. Aidon Farsong went to meet Lathander.
The ring slipped below the surface of the water, carried by the current it slowly sank to the bottom of the river. For the next couple of years the ring would be pushed further down the river by the currents. As Spring-thaw would come the increased flow of the river would sweep sand, silt, and the ring further away from where it had first entered the river. At one time a swelling of the water forced the ring off a side tributary and down a steep slope of a of a fast moving stream. Over some falls the ring fell, glinting in the sun as it hit the slick rocks below and bounced further into the stream bed which through the forces of water pushed the ring further from the rivers source.
The ring finally came to rest in a shallow stream bed. It was then covered by silt and sand. Hidden away from the light of day, for years the ring slept.
Until one day, by chance the scrapings of a animal uncovered the ring, it’s bright mithril band glinting in the sun just under the surface of a shallow stream of water. It sat there, ready for the moment when a small childlike hand entered the frigid water to scoop the ring up. As soon as the soft flesh touched the ring, it awakened once again, a fait, unnoticable pulse of magic rippling out from the ring.