66. Sniffin’ through the loot

Talo gathers Zelmar’s remains and drags it all the way back to where Gombur lies. There is no way the dwarf is going to be able to drag both at anything more than a crawl and the dwarf can see nothing with which to make a pyre from.
The orc female listens to the dwarf’s tirade and just smiles.

“Eye Paladin revenge is what I want, and if you know what they are then you know they are evil and should be destroyed. Yeah the children might not be so ingrained with hatred yet but they will be soon as their mothers tell them about the elven demon who killed their fathers! You think they will show mercy in the future? I don’t! You want to break the cycle? Leaving them here won’t do that.” With that said Gordon turns to the group of females, assess their numbers and position then drops a Sleep spell at the rear of the group, then another in the middle/front, and another to mop up any left if necessary (up to 4 casting).

Two sleep spells bring down all 12 of the unsuspecting orc females and none escape.

Gordon doubts to get a good reaction from Cynan at his actions but will face off against the human warrior with a warning finger raised, “They are not slain holy warrior, but I refuse to have a knife at my back whilst we finish clearing this place. We’ll tie them all up and transport them to the farming zone where they will at least have a chance of a life with the others of their kind we left there who have a slightly better opinion of us. Gildor tells them to surrender and they will not be harmed.” With that the gnome will start to tie up all those who have been effected by the spell, any who haven’t and who offer resistance will be forcibly restrained and tied up.

Cynan nods at the gnome that works just as well. The paladin knows his stand is not well received by his companions but he will not be swayed by their outrage.

Talo is perplexed by the problem of trying to move all the remains and returns to find help in the process. Upon his return to the scene of conflict Talo sees the pile of orc females. “That’s more like it!” Gathering himself, he says, “Gordon, I must say: you are a quick one! Though our axes have been robbed of their measure, I like this as an option!”

“We’ve limited time in these realms and we’d had enough piss’in abowt. Hopefully this is compromise enough for all,” the gnome makes a pointed stare at Cynan when he says this final part.

They use Gombur’s rope (cut into 4′ lengths) to tie up the orcs and Gildor’s translation (and Talo’s snarls) gets them to usher out their young (about 60 in total) and begin marching out the gate towards the transporter discs. Gildor also retrieves Zelmar’s gear from the stinking orc dome. It’s easy to find amid the pool of blood and guts and the surrounding pile of almost 20 orc female bodies.

“Gildor, tell em we aren’t gonna kill em or sell em inta slavery but take them to the farms where more of their kind chose to stay when we liberated that place. Tell em to keep their offspring under control and any aggro and they’ll be dealt with! Make sure that threat is very very clear to em.”

“Gildor I will accompany you to the farm cavern to release them, then we can search here as much as all of you want”. Cynan begins supervising the transfer of the prisoners to the portals.

Once everyone is ready Gildor starts sending the orcs through the rings to the mushroom fields but makes sure someone joins him for protection in case there is something nasty on the other side. He’ll transport the orcs in waves as many times as he needs to to get them all there with the help of the others.

Once awake, the orcs and their orclets seems much quieter and cowed. They do as Gildor asks them and seem happy to be going to the farm. In less than a third of a bell all the orcs are through the transporter and released into the farm cavern. The cavern looks much as the party left it.

Gildor banters with the others as they get the orcs to the mushroom cavern. “Well gang. Once we search the domes what’s next?” We can cycle through the rings if we missed any and see if we find something new? One might actually go out to the place under/in the lake.

Talo helps in the escort of the group to the farms. Afterward, he suggests, “We need to disable the portals as much as possible to prevent any incursions back toward the surface.” Talo looks around for any large rocks to pile onto the transport pad. “Maybe we can disable the mechanism to activate the pad? Thoughts Gildor? Gordon?”

“I reckon we’ll be best disabling the final transporter up at the long lake once we’re on our way home rather than now, we don’t want to break the whole thing and strand ourselves here.”

Assuming all has gone straight forward with the transportation of the orcs to the farms Gordon suggests they return to the mind flayer domes to complete their searches. He thinks there is another troll lair on the opposite side to the one they already searched, then there is the dome where the dwarves were kept, the orc dome and finally the actual mind flayer dome, and he briefly describes what he found there earlier.
Back at the mind flayer realm Gordon will suggest they check out the ‘dwarf’ dome first, then the orc dome followed by a thorough search of the workshops and finally the strange mind flayer dome and its polished white interior.

Gildor says, “I don’t really need or can’t use any of Zelmar’s stuff, but I will offer to carry some of the things that others don’t take.”
Gildor empties out the backpack and takes the 14 wedges, 8 trail rations 2 smoke signals leaving the backpack and the rest of the gear if the others want it.

“I’ll put the armor in the backpack if it isn’t used. I can carry the sword but I am not skilled with it as I prefer a shortsword. I plan to search these domes for secret and concealed doors, traps and treasure unless you want to do something else. I suggest we do everything together as a team.”
Gildor reiterates, “If any of you can use this stuff please take it. I’d rather it be put to good use but we can sell it in town or have it for backup.”

“Thank you, Gildor, but I will pass. I have nearly too much to carry already.” Talo enters the orc dome and continues to look for flammable items for the pyre. He keeps an eye out for any wood and if there is none he gathers any cloth or lamp oil for the ceremonious burning farewell.

Kradorn looks to the group, “If none desire it, I would be honoured to weld Zelmar’s blade and should be named so.” Kradorn comments.
“And the arrows since I am the archer again.” he continues. “Does the Orc lair have any flammable items. That we can start their pyre with.”

Gildor will search the all the domes they’ve recently been in for secret or concealed doors, traps and treasure using his improved eyesight and sense of smell to assist him.

“Let us return home…. to the surface. It will soon be sealed and I don’t want to take up life here.” Kradorn suggest.

Gildor nods to Talo and says, “No worries. I am only taking what is most important and at some point I will start dropping mundane stuff in favour of better loot. He looks to Kradorn. I think we still have 2 days and 2 bells my friend. Surely we can spend a bit more time here searching.”

“2 DAYS eh, well guess we have time to explore some more. Seems like we have killed off the major players down here. Fire giants, Face tentacle things and Orcs.” Kradorn replies.
“There was another teleporter or magic door in that machine lair.”

A quick search of the orc dome finds armfuls of tree trunk sized, dried mushroom stalks used to create the flimsy room divisions. Tearing down these internal walls and structures creates more than enough fuel for Zelmar’s funeral pyre. The orc dome doesn’t seem to have any treasure hidden in it and if questioned the females tell the party that Urshok the guard captain and his sergeants carried all the tribes treasures.

A quick search of the dwarves dome turns up nothing of value. The place is clean but as the dwarves had only been imprisoned for a couple of weeks they’ve not had chance to do the place up at all. Hunting around for anything hidden by the dwarves, Talo finds a secret compartment in which are hidden a handful of crude knives and an orc shortsword.

Talo finishes off the farewell to Gombur and Zelmar in the glow of his make-shift pyre. The cleric stands quietly, helm in hand, muttering dwarven prayers to Clanggedin for Gombur and to the elven gods in behalf of Zelmar. After a long moment he returns to the companions in search for the possible other troll cave.

Gildor says,”Gang we have a couple of days. Let’s check things out down here. There is still another troll lair possibly too.”

“Eye, let’s start wi making sure there are no more threats lurkin about the place. An I reckon we steer clear of the mind flayer dome fer now, it’s seriously weird in there!” Gordon goes on to explain what he found when he had a wee look.

Gordon would like to explore the route from where they had their first fight on the walls and the route the flying bowl took to crash at the back of the cavern, he knows the mind flayer had some kind of wand and he’d like to see if it is anywhere along that path.

Second he would like to spend some time looking through the books they found in the workshops and having a more thorough search in there, looking at the machinery and the crystal fronted things.

Then go and look for the other troll lair near where they fought the first lot before finally returning to the mind flayer dome ready to explore in there.

From the dwarven dome, the party wander over to the outer wall where they fought the trolls and encountered the mindflayers in their flying bowls. An hour spent searching for Gordon’s wand reveals nothing, the orcs seem to have collected all the pieces of the crashed bowls and taken them to be repaired. Apart from some gouges and burn marks there is no sign of either crash.
They hop over the wall and cautiously approach the northern troll caves. The stink of trolls is all pervasive and the place is crawling with vermin but there are no signs of trolls. Its clear to everyone that the place has been turned over, the troll nests have been ripped open and there are orc footprints all over the place. Whatever treasure was here has been looted recently.
Gildor gives it a once over however, just to be sure, orcs are orcs after all and he finds a stash of gems in a small stone box, mostly ornamental blue quartz but a few amethysts and three large pearls (5 x 10gp, 3 x 100gp and 3 x 500gp).

Leaving nothing but a bad smell the party head back to the mindflayers smaller workshop dome where they fought the golem/mindflayer.

“It would seem that the orc’s didn’t like the trolls much either.” Kradorn comments.

Gildor grabs up the gems from the box and puts them in one of his small belt pouches telling the others, “I found some gems in here. I’ll add them to the treasure to be divided up later on.

“Gordon, you want to avoid this ey?” Gildor thinks for a bit and wonders if based on the location of these 50m passages going north and south if it might lead to the underwater complex in the lake. Taking into account where they are and where the lake is it might lead there?
“Lead me to the place with the books and I will do a quick search and scan the books. I think we have cleared this place out except for those large passages north and south. We can also check out each ring to see if we skipped one. Hey, I’m just spitting out ideas for us here. I figure we have 15 bells left or 1 day and 7 bells if I figured it right. We might need to rest a bit and we need time to travel back out of here.”

The party wonder back into the mindflayers workshop and begin searching. Talo, Gordon and Kradorn stay in the first section while Gildor and Cynan head up to the last section with all the books and the steel ring.
The vile books in elven script are clearly written by drow. They seem to be an odd collection of tomes and manuals but to Gildor’s trained eye they look like a collection of spells and associated background material.

Talo spends his time back in the illithids’ dome searching for manuals and weapons.

There is plenty to look at in the workshop but the dwarf can’t see what use most of the stuff is. There is one thing that catches Talo’s eye, a device unlike the rest of the stuff in the workshop. It is a 20cm sphere with a grip built into it, clearly built for a large human hand and incorporating a trigger, like the dwarf is used to with a crossbow. It is constructed of dark metal and some other very hard, stone-like material and shows considerable signs of wear. The outer surface is dotted with glass blisters and it has a shallow fire-blacked pit at the front. The thing has a tough utilitarian look to it.

Talo moves on to the library keeping a wary eye on the corridor where the orc retreated. the war priest then focuses his time looking through the tools for items that appear particularly out of place or odd. The dwarf is careful not to spend much time in direct view of the passage but always facing it off to the side to make him capable of responding to any incursions by visitors. He will peruse any other books left over for content and interest. Talo packs his backpack with as many manuals he can carry – prioritizing the most alien or interesting among them.

The other thing to catch Talo’s eye is a note book filled with the mindflayers odd text and with various symbols and glyphs around the margins and included in the notes. behind the notebook sits one of the mindflayers black spheres filled with their text and it seems to Talo that the mindflayer who wrote the notes was reading from the sphere. The sphere is also connected to one of the small shiny black tablets. The back of the tablet has been cracked off and various silver threads connected to the slab of intricately patterned stone inside.

Kradorn follows Talo after commenting “We should at least stay in pairs if we are to continue exploring.”
Having far too much to be carrying around already Kradorn watches Talo’s back as he searches. Ready to drop his make shift bag of books to use two hands with the pole axe.

Back at the workshop dome Gordon will join Talo in his examination of the different tools, looking for anything of greater quality or unusual purpose.

Gordon notices Talo examining the grey sphere and looks about for anything else of interest in the vicinity. He finds two boxes filled with goodies. One contains two pale green potions in thin tubes that the gnome recognises as healing potions from the first flying bowl they encountered and a wand. It is made from pure white ivory and covered in tiny black runes and mindflayer script.

In the other smaller box (with an odd angular text on the exterior) are three small cylinders, two 8cm tall and 4cm in diameter and a smaller, white one, half that size with multicoloured script and symbols all over it. The other two are grey in colour with black text and black and yellow banding around one end. One bears a spiral symbol, the other, heavier one, an irregular eight pointed star.

Gordon will also go to the ‘library’ section and take any of the books Kradorn left behind and especially the ebony tablets. With these safely stashed he will then make his way over to the steel ring with the globes and the metal boxes.

There are plenty of books about, hundreds in fact. Many more than Talo and Gordon could carry. There are only a few of the black tablets however so he slips them in his pack. A quick look over the remaining books almost misses the six gnomish ones hidden under the heavy stone tablets.

Gordon grabs one and flips through it quickly. It’s in a odd dialect with lots of misspelt or unknown words but its easy enough to read. It is a series of books explaining the workings of earth elementals and spells to summon them.

Keeping a careful eye on the room beyond whilst he examines the metal box with the glowing green crystal then the more complex box with the globe on top, he wishes he understood what all this was for.

The metal box is not much more than that, it weighs about 10lb and has the angular script found on the small cylinders Gordon found earlier all over the back, where a tough cable is attached, made from woven steel filaments. There is a small dial on the back with three positions, it is currently set to the third position. The green gem built into the front glows strongly from within.

He knows the mind flayers used mind control and telepathy to communicate and suchlike so wonders if this is how these strange artefacts work. He empties his mind and focuses on the thought ‘reveal’ and touches the crystal on the front of the first box. If nothing happens he tries it again touching the globe.

Gordon’s mind is blasted with information, more than he can handle in a single moment. He cries out and staggers away from the sphere holding his head. In a couple of seconds the pain and confusion is gone, until a monster of a headache starts to throb, making him rub his temples and feel slightly queasy.

In amongst all the information which flooded his mind Gordon is able to fathom that the machine is designed to monitor ‘tunnels’ and keep them open. The tunnel through the steel ring opens at a point moving at the rather unbelievable speed of 5 miles per second. He sensed two tunnels, one working perfectly, the other closed for some reason. There was also a record of activity in the tunnel a few hours earlier.

Gordon agrees with Kradorn’s thought that they should not go anywhere alone at the moment and asks the warrior if he would like to explore beyond this portal/circular doorway where the wounded orc fled?