Rumble in Ontas

Flint here. Same schtick as before. My sister's all better, and I've made some money on the side working for a man named Maximus. With the extra dosh I've been able to buy a permanent loft for myself in Nailo harbour. Flint's moving up in the world.

This morning I woke up, and headed to the Wailing Woman, my favourite breakfast pub, for a pint. The waitress handed me a letter that had been addressed to me. It had a familiar seal - The Architect. Things were looking up. I downed a pint, some biscuits and gravy, and six slices of ham before opening the letter. It was the familiar summons. I grabbed the coin.

And suddenly I was sitting in a dingy dungeon-looking place with tools strewn all about, and pipes running the length of the ceiling. I was with a rather prissy looking blonde elf who had a holy look about him. Said his name was Gerath. On the other side of the table was none other than Peregrine Took, the halfling that I had betrayed to Maximus. Oh dear. His bear-sized wolf was with him. I apologized immediately, but that wasn't quite good enough for the halfling. He said we'd sort this out when the job was over.

Quickly, I started explaining to them how the Architect worked, and how we had already agreed to this job.

Then we all read the briefing that was in front of us. Here was the skinny:

  • We were in Ontas, in one of the mining blocks
  • Security was tight since the Oread breakout a few months ago
  • There were strange disappearances and such happening in the tunnels
  • The operation was dangerously close to finding a hidden artefact that should stay buried
  • As far as the overseer knew, we were new recruits to replace the dying slaves
  • Doug was sent down as a beast of burden
  • We had slave tattoos.
  • All our gear was hidden behind a false wall in the supply room
  • We were supposed to stop the excavation

The best place to start, it seemed, would be to ask some of the other slaves about goings-on. We headed down a passage and found a few scrawny and malnourished blokes unconscious on the floor. I kicked one of them awake at random. He immediately took to cowering, begged us not to steal his food stamps.

Gerath knelt down and started tending to his wounds. He was a paladin, apparently. Lovely. Still, I trusted The Architect's judgement. We learned from the lad that the prisoners basically all answered to a man named Grimblade. He was one of the slaves, and he kept order amongst the others by being the toughest one around. In return, he got extra favours and work shifts shorter than 14 hours from the higher-ups. Peregrine and I left to pay this Grimblade a visit.

We entered the slumbering bunkroom, and Grimblade was fairly easy to spot. Peregrine led the way in, and we found that he actually slept with a sword stuffed under his mattress. Trusted fully by management it seemed. I attempted to pull the sword out to get the drop on him, but made a slight mistake in my calculation of the dynamics of the bunk. The whole thing collapsed. Fortunately, by the time Grimblade got up, I was in full control of his greatsword. He chuckled at us.

Peregrine's wolf, Doug, blocked the only exit. We chatted with Grimblade a while. He told us that we were making a big mistake, and he would have us thrown in the pit for weeks. The pit was where slaves went when they had been bad. We told him that wasn't going to happen, as we were liberating the prison. He laughed at this, and asked us how we were planning to do that. For whatever reason, we came clean.

Grimblade wanted in. He said he could start a riot if we could arm the prisoners and get his bearded axe out of the weapons storage. We shook on it, and then formulated a plan. We would need a distraction, and when that came to fruition, we would sneak into the supply room, grab our gear, and whatever else we could to arm the miners. There were only about thirty guards down here, so it wouldn't be a major problem to take them down.

Unfortunately, things went awry. The workbells tolled, and everyone assembled in the common area. The overseer walked in, flanked by several guards. He approached Peregrine and I, and asked my name. I told him I was Quentin Flameheart. He told me no, I wasn't, I was 19248. And I was about to dig, dig, dig… until I forgot my own name.

Through the whole conversation, Peregrine would not shut up. He kept making little quips here and there, until the overseer got so irate that he told the guardsman that we were to spend the day in the pit. Thanks, Peregrine.

We were led into a pitch black chamber that smelled of rot and faecal matter. It dawned on me that a hundred people this far under the earth need somewhere to shit. I was kicked into that place. Peregrine leapt after me. I dragged myself out of the muck; the stench was unbearable. The last light faded as the guards filed out through the door. I shouted up to the overseer: "Yeah, laugh it up mate! I'll be the one who has the last laugh."

I let my eyes slip into the infra-red spectrum. Peregrine sadly didn't have this luxury. Luckily, we each had a dagger in our boot. I nabbed his, and used both to scale the wall, then dropped them down for him to grab. At the top of the pit, there was a platform with two doors. One was the door that we came from, and the other, presumably, led to the barracks. There was an entrance to the shitter for the prisoners and the guardsmen.

I shouted, so as to be just audible to any guards present, "That's it Peregrine! You're almost out!" and then I hid around the bend. A lantern was lit, and a guard stepped cautiously out, sword in hand. Perfect. I stood motionless in the darkness, and when he came around, I twisted his wrist, and grabbed the sword. Peregrine emerged from the edge of the pit, and threw his dagger at the only light in the area. It hit the guard squarely in the chest, and I cut from behind. The guard pulled out a flail, but we felled him before he could do much more damage. He had a key to the guards quarters, and a lift key.

We headed into the supply room first, wiped ourselves down, and donned our gear. Then we headed for the lift, and went up to the living quarters proper. When we exited, we found that it was guarded by two dwarves. Scratch that, those weren't dwarves. They were battleships. When they saw us, they asked us what our business was, obviously not recognizing us. Peregrine had a fast tongue, and he told them that we were inspectors from the surface, making sure they were complying to regulations and paying proper taxes.

I tried to help by saying that we needed to see if they were obeying union regulations, and for some reason, they saw through our ruse and attacked us.

It was a tough fight, and Peregrine and I barely made it out alive. The two were murderous, swift, charging machines, with full plate armour and weapons of adamantine. With the help of some clever positioning, a flurry of Peregrine's arrows, and a tanglefoot bag, we managed to win. We stripped the bodies of valuables before busting open the armoury with a powder grenade.

Inside, we grabbed Axebeard Grimblade's grim-bladed bearded axe (seriously) and as many swords as we could find. We plopped Gerath's armor and weapon into a handy wheelbarrow, and put all the swords in so the handles faced out. Peregrine sat atop the wheelbarrow's load with his bow drawn, and I pushed the thing to the lift. Then we headed down into the mining site.

As soon as the lift opened, Peregrine whistled, tossed the axe to Grimblade, and fired an arrow into the nearest guard. I pushed him along until we were in the middle of the excavation zone, and then stood guard around our load with my rapier drawn, felling any slave drivers that dared get close. Not that many did - peregrine shot most down before they got within twenty feet. The prisoners flocked to the wheelbarrow and grabbed their weapons, turning on their captors with a flurry of steel.

Gerath's eyes began to glow, and we watched his armour fling itself towards him, forming itself onto his body in a matter of seconds. His sword flew to his open hand, and ignited itself. Peregrine and I watched in astonishment at how badass this was.

The overseer walked out of his office, and, seeing the chaos unfold, immediately fled down a passage. Peregrine and I mounted Doug, and gave chase. Gerath sprinted along beside us, eyes glowing, sword ablaze.

We cornered the overseer by a dead end passage, and watched him grovel. He said this was impossible, that we were just prisoners. Peregrine and I rubbed the fake tattoos off our arms, and then peregrine kicked a pickaxe to the broken man.

"If you want to find the treasure you're looking for, you're going to have to dig, dig, dig… until you forget your own name."

We heard a steady, squeaky clanking behind us, and turned around to see Grimblade wheeling up on a man-powered mine cart full of dynamite.

"He doesn't have long to dig" Grimblade said with a smile. "And the excavation site is right below us. We blow this tunnel, and that treasure ain't gonna be unearthed for a long time to come."

Grimblade lit the fuse, and we all booked it out of there, except for the overseer, who looked utterly defeated. We got out just in time to see the tunnel collapse. Justice was served. We re-coded the lifts to take us out of the city, and started to free the slaves.

We got out, and crawled through a couple miles of sewer pipe until we hit a beach. The water was toxic, but it was the first time Grimblade had seen sun in over ten years. He said that he had been a pit fighter before being sold into the slave trade, and had given up hope of ever seeing the outside again. We watched as slaves began filing in, rolling in the grass, digging their toes into the sand, laughing like children.

I flipped Grimblade the Architect's coin, and told him that if he ever needed work, this was the man to talk to. Maybe I'd put a good word in, if I ever got the chance. Peregrine told us he was headed to the shire, and I told him I'd tag along. Grimblade and Gerath did the same.

When we arrived at his homestead, a halfling named Dasher bounded up to him, out of breath, and explained that a half-elf lady named Aurora had been by, and had transmuted Peregrine's burned plot of land into a fertile plot of rich soil, and had even sewn crops of the finest longbottom leaf. The Architect delivers again.

In Peregrine's kitchen, there were two small boxes. One was addressed to me, the other to Gerath. Gerath opened his and found a small amulet. Said it was some kind of token to protect his home forest. Great, he was the hippie type. That knocks his badass factor down a touch.

In mine there was only a slip of paper. A business card, indicating a blacksmithing business in Lavanda. The name on the card was Ignus Flameheart, but The Architect had crossed this out, and written, in his own flowing script, "Remus Ramkin." My father's name. So he was alive after all. I fought back the blasted tears.

Another adventure come to a close, I headed home to my loft, where I would prepare to reunite with another member of my family.

—Flint Ramkin

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