The Haunted Mines of Krator

Part 5

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was not too hard to track the shaft the miners were using. With the dust so thick after months of disuse, it was obvious down which tunnel I should proceed. I knew I would have to be quick before someone notice that the men I had just dispatched were missing. They certainly would send a search party to find them.

The mine at this point had some mining cars and tracks. This was a welcome obstacle because it made it easier for me to hide; especially now, as the tunnels were lit every few yards by a torch. I moved quietly behind the cars down the track. There is a saying that a leaf falling from a tree makes more noise than a Wood Elf moving stealthily. Now, that may not be exactly true but it is pretty close to the mark.

On the other hand, a saying should go that a human moving in a semi-dark mine on patrol is as loud as a dragon that has had its keister pierced with a ballista bolt. That was how I came upon the third miner.

It appeared that this individual was patrolling along the track near a ledge. Why he was doing so I never found out for I put an arrow into his shoulder. This proceeded to propel the unfortunate victim over the side of the ledge. I guess it was not too deep because before he could get a scream off I heard the sickening crunch of his body as it impacted upon the unforgiving rock.

There was not much to explore or find on this stretch of the road. There was not even a silver nugget or a tripwire. Although it was highly unlikely, the miners could have laid a tripwire over the line of track they were obviously using.

I continued my hunt down the shaft before it opened into another large cavern. There working alone chipping away at a vein of silver was a lone human swinging his pickaxe. Not exactly a formidable weapon, but a weapon nonetheless. I waited and watched the man continuously swing his pickaxe onto the silver. Nuggets fell to the ground in a pile. The man finally stopped and started to load the nuggets into a bucket. After he loaded the bucket, he wiped his sweaty brow with the back of his grimy hand. Before he removed his hand, I had it pinned permanently to his forehead with an arrow.

I moved quickly and helped myself to some more "souvenirs" from the bucket. I almost considered ignoring the three Silver Crowns in his pockets. However, money is money no matter how small.

I noticed a side tunnel that led off from the cavern. There were some footprints in the dust on the path. However, it was not as heavily trafficked as the shaft that led up to here. It was obvious that this was the domain of our leader. After all, I had dispatched the bulk of his minions. By process of elimination, this left one hedge-wizard, one leader and maybe another miner.

It became apparent that our glorious and brave leader either did not trust his own minions or wanted a fall back position by the tripwire I found stretching between the two support beams at the entrance of a small cavern. This one too I just simply walked over. A quick investigation revealed it tied to a pile of logs braced above the entrance. Having one roll over on you would be fatal enough without the other five.

I must have been too engrossed in the trap because I did not hear the miner approach behind me. Now, this miner could have easily just have killed me by running me through the back. However, all she did was yell, "HEY!"

I turned towards the voice and the woman ran towards me with sword drawn. I gauged her distance then I headed back down the shaft after I tripped the wire. The logs tumbled from their support and proceeded to roll over the poor miner in the process blocking most of the entrance. The gaps between the logs were wide enough for me to see the crushed miner on the other side, but I could not squeeze through it.

Now, if I were a fighter I could use my brute strength to remove a log or two so that I could reenter the cavern. However, I am not a fighter so I had to spy out another route. Fortunately, there was a gap between the right support beam and the wall to allow a lithe figure such as myself though into the cavern.

I quickly searched the body of the woman and found a Golden Eagle and a silver necklace with a ruby centerpiece. That was a little better than I had been finding so far, but only a little. So far, none of the miners had much in the way of weaponry or armor that would make it worth my while to carry these heavy objects back to town.

A narrow tunnel led away from the cavern and I started down it when I heard footsteps running up the shaft. Apparently, the noise of the logs alerted the rest of the group down the tunnel. With no time to spare, I squeezed back through the beam and wall and waited on the other side of the logs.

In the low light, I made out the forms of the hedge-wizard and another person who could only be the leader. The leader wielded a bow and he let a couple of arrows fly towards me. Fortunately, he was not the sharpshooter I was. Unfortunately, I would have to deal with him after I dealt with the hedge-wizard.

I reached behind my back and grabbed my shield just before the wizard shoved his staff between the logs and released a fireball. As I have previously stated, my shield is quite useful in protecting me from adversarial spells. The heat of the fireball washed over me as I ducked behind the heavy shield. But, that was the only effect I felt.

The hedge-wizard fired fireball after fireball at me as I hid behind my shield. I could tell he must have been getting angry from the curses he released at me as well. The leader took this time to fire a couple arrows at me too.

The steel arrowheads tended to bounce off the enchanted shield with nothing more than a spark. This was more damage than the fireballs did.

I do not know for how long I waited behind my shield until the wizard finally threw his staff down and began to chant his own spells. First, he fired off a lightning spell. The blue electric bolts hit the shield and did nothing. Then he fired off a frost spell and the air cooled noticeably as the artic blast collided with the shield. Then he fired off a flame spell. Two long trails of fire sprang from his fingertips and washed over the shield.

Fortunately, these spells take a lot of energy. After the mage exhausted himself, he pulled back and sat against the wall panting. However, the leader now had me all to himself. He fired another arrow that bounce harmlessly off my shield.

I quickly dropped the shield and grabbed my bow. In one smooth motion, I plucked an arrow from my quiver and fired it towards the leader. The arrow stuck in his left shoulder. Not a lethal wound but I was in a hurry.

The leader grunted and fired off his arrow. It did not even make it past the log barrier. I took better aim with my second shot and the leader fell against the panting wizard with an arrow protruding from his left eye.

The hedge-wizard looked up at me with a mixture of fear and fury in his eyes. With amazing speed, the mage drew his short sword and found the same opening I had used. In surprise, I fell back just barely staying out of reach of that lethal blade. I dropped my bow and drew my own short sword.

I am not the world's greatest swordswoman, but I was better than the hedge-wizard. As he brought his hand back for a deadly chop to my head, I just thrust my arm forward and managed to pierce the blade between his ribs and into his heart. The mage's sword clattered to the ground behind him before his corpse followed suit.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on February 14, 2007 5:00 PM.

"Montana MacInnes" - Chapter 3: Meet Me at the Lemonade Stand was the previous entry in this blog.

"Montana MacInnes" - Chapter 4: The First Dead Un-Dead is the next entry in this blog.

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