The Haunted Mines of Krator

Part 1

By Dwayne MacInnes

Gwendolyn is my name and I am a Wood Elf by birth. You may say that I am a thief by trade. However, I personally do not like to think of myself as such. I prefer the title, scout or wealth adjuster. Granted, after I left my home in the Great Forest to try my hand at a living inside the Empire, I may have had to resort to finding some coinage in a stranger’s pocket. I figured that they would have given it to me after they heard my plight anyway, so why waste both our time with a needless story.

But then I found that I could make larger sums of money by fighting in the Imperial Arena. There is a lot of coinage to be had if you can fight well. Now, do not think I am one of those muscled bound low intelligent Amazons. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, of all I mentioned that I am a Wood Elf. We Wood Elves tend to be extremely nimble and very gifted with the bow. Even a young Wood Elf could teach that famed human bandit Robbing Hood a thing or two in the art of archery.

Now, let me interrupt myself to mention that many humans think of elves as stuffy and aloof. They would be correct if they were referring to our cousins the High Elves. High Elves are very intelligent and love to study. That is why many become mages; however, they are boring, I am sure the High Elves would probably put it as pleasantly dull. High Elves have no sense of adventure (or humor for that fact) and do tend to believe that they the most superior form of all elves not to mention sentient life forms. After all, they are the ones who named themselves the **High Elves**.

Anyway, as I was saying about the arena, I could never be able to withstand a toe-to-toe fight with your average fighter. Remember, I am a wealth adjuster (said thief) and my skills lie elsewhere. The short sword I carry is my backup weapon; my weapon of choice is of course my elven bow.

Now, a bow is hardly a good weapon to use in the arena. Not a lot of places one can hide to fire off a succession of arrows at one’s opponent. However, the construction of the arena does have its advantages to one such as me. I was quick to notice that there were a series of buttresses on the arena’s wall. These buttresses would normally be inaccessible to your average heavily armored and heavily muscled warrior. Fortunately, I am none of these. I found to my great relief that I could leap to the top of the buttresses and fire off an arrow at my opponent. As anyone who has read the military treatise, Mixed Combat Tactics will remember that you should always take the high ground. However, it would hardly be sporting to sit there on top of the buttress and kill off my adversary. Being a Wood Elf I have a streak of theatrics ingrained in me. Therefore, of course, I need to win the audience over to my side.

I could stir up interest by jumping over my opponent; sometimes I would do a flip, land behind him or her and kick them behind their knees. They would then fall over and after they regained their feet, I would then jump upon another buttress just before they could reach me with their sword. It was not long before the audience started calling me the “Black Arrow?.

An interesting thing about the arena is that all fights are to the death. There is no mercy inside the pit. Now, you know why it pays so well. Unfortunately, arena rules forbid you to loot the bodies of the fallen.

However, once the body leaves the arena it is no longer under arena rules. Well, that is how I feel anyway. Plus, I felt it was unfair that the guards and physicians would loot the bodies long after the bout was over and take what was rightfully mine. They say, “To the victor go the spoils? and I agree. It was no problem to gain entrance into the “red room? to pay my last respects to my worthy opponent. I would go into a sacred elven prayer ritual (one I made up myself) and help myself to whatever items looked interesting. That is how I got my shield of magic warding.

I usually do not carry heavy armor, especially a heavy shield. I prefer something light. Maybe, even elven by manufacture. However, this shield I have found to be indispensable. By some powerful magic, the shield absorbs all hostile spells aimed at its possessor. That has proven to be a very useful thing to one in my profession.

Now, that we have some background let me tell you about the time before I was the Grand Champion and was the rising sensation in the arena that the town of Krator commissioned me to help them with the problem with their mines. It is a well-known fact that Krator has the richest silver mines in the empire. The capitol is the only city actually wealthier than Krator. However, Krator’s wealth is due strictly to the success of its mines.

It appeared that some months before my commission the silver mines had a terrible cave-in. Inside the mine’s dark dank bowels many miners lay trapped. It was weeks before rescuers cleared the rubble and stabilized the shafts that they retrieved the trapped miners’ long dead bodies.

It could not have been longer than a week after the mines reopened before the first stories of strange events happening in the mines began to surface. First, it was just someone thinking that they saw one of their dead comrades who died in the cave-in walking the shafts. Then strange accidents began to happen. Miners would sometimes find that the oil in their lamps had mysteriously vanished. Alternatively, a miner would just disappear forever into the inky blackness without a trace.

The elders of Krator petitioned the local garrison to investigate the problem. The garrison commander dispatched a small group of ten legionnaires to the town. The ten soldiers entered the mine one morning and never exited. The town elders petitioned the local garrison again, however the commander flatly denied them this time.

Thus, the town elders petitioned the emperor himself. Given the importance and wealth of Krator’s mines, the emperor ordered the garrison commander to look into the situation personally. Now, the commander had one more and legal trick to play. He told the elders of Krator that in order for him to send a cohort of legionnaires to look into this little problem, they would need to pay a high fee of one thousand Gold Eagles per soldier in order to compensate the Empire for the movement, logistics, and sheltering of the troops.

Krator’s mines by this time had been out of operation for at least two months. Miners were unemployed and had already spent what little savings they had. Hence, a great emigration had already taken place. Until the mines were operational again, the town would be unable to pay its taxes let alone a hefty service fee.

That is how, one day after a rather successful and amazing arena bout against a Dark Elf mage, I found myself reading a letter from the town of Krator. The elders had heard of my success in the arena, they could not afford the Grand Champion (it is highly unlikely he would have helped them out if they could) but they did offer me a thousand Golden Eagles if I took the job. Usually I earned five hundred Silver Crowns for a successful bout; I still had a long way to go to be Grand Champion. So of course, being the entrepreneur that I am, I accepted.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on January 17, 2007 5:00 PM.

"Nebrion's Quest" - Chapter 18: How Does this Rug Work Anyway? was the previous entry in this blog.

"Nebrion's Quest" - Chapter 19: The Quest Ends is the next entry in this blog.

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