Castaway Diary, Day 42.

After all the many things we got done last week, this week seemed like slow progress. Part of that is that when down the mine we’re in combat order because things are happening in particular orders.  The other part of that is Sean nodding off between his turns and the Pu Pu Platter requiring both my computer working hands to eat: lesson learned.
Anyway on deck for this session: Dellen, Cleric of Desna, goddess of Stars, Dreams and Other Things Stevie Nicks sings about; Floki, Ranger in a Rangeland; Kona the Barbaryounger/Barbarielder, not sure; Nobody, Gunslinger is just an expression, but he is often more dangerous when he does sling his gun around; Percy, Cleric of Sarenrae; goddess of the sun, but let’s face it… kind of like that one god that’s super popular in desert places and you aren’t allowed to make images of him; Malicia, tengu Rogue, and the only proper adventurer because she brought hammer and pitons.
Okay, I said I’d go back over the first five days of the journey out of Eleder and that’s what I did – not so much retconning, as it was applying a second coat, so that the colour stuck. Day one was spent moving through the outlying plantations and shanty towns, day two into the rolling hills beyond the horizon of the city.

Mid-day 2, N’kechi led them along the crests of the hills, the better to see above the almost impenetrable heat haze and towards the village of Semila. At the village, the party stood around while the villagers stared at them and N’Kechi talked to the village elders about getting the food and water resupply that they needed. There, N’Kechi also met with a strapping young lad named Kona – another of that name, brother of the falling-off-a-cliff Kona. I’m not sure if it is a younger or older brother. Maybe it is a family name first type arrangement. Who knows. Anyway, N’Kechi broke the news of his brothers death to him, but impressed upon Kona that the death was in a worthwhile – maybe even holy cause – as the mission of these northern folks was of some sort of extreme importance, perhaps to humanity’s future.
Leaving with Kona in tow, the set out for another two days, their long trek ending at the Anz’Ha pasturelands where a nomadic Zenj tribe had herded their lean cattle down from the Mneri hills to feed. Again, N’Kechi whipped out his document from the Pathfinders and bargained for the right to shared water and grazing resources.
Those things are pretty boss.

Those things are pretty boss.

Travelling eastwards towards the Mneri hills, they set off again. The mineral- and metal-rich hills of Sargava are reasonably well-travelled routes, with merchants coming and going and plenty of bandits out to make off with that mineral- and metal-wealth. By and large, the Pathfinder Society wants to avoid those routes for precisely those reasons. Increased traffic makes it easy for information to be traded and the Society doesn’t have nearly enough money to start hiring regiments of caravan defenders. So they need the fastest route east, not the most well travelled or safest.
"Your country is full of gold, they said. We're all going to be rich, they said." Actually, the guys in this picture are "artisinal miners" in Ghana. So I guess there is a chance that  they actually did get rich.

“Your country is full of gold, they said. We’re all going to be rich, they said.”
Actually, the guys in this picture are “artisanal miners” in Ghana. So I guess there is a chance that they actually did get rich. Or just grow handlebar mustaches and ride fixed gear bikes to get to that place where they can annoy the shit out of you.

One merchant trail runs up and down the length of the western edge of the Mneri Hills, with the range petering out to the south. The loop around the southern end of the hills would take three days to go around, but N’Kechi remembered a while ago, hearing news of plans to expand a mine or quarry all the way through the hills. He had not been this way in a while, as he had been a hermit for a good long while now, but if that mine passage was serviceable, it would take three days off the caravan’s journey. Anyway, it shouldn’t take long to figure it out, either it is or it isn’t a possibility. Going over the hills wasn’t a possibility, by now the party has seen what an oxcart can and can’t do, and crest wild hills aren’t one of those things in the ‘can’ column. Anyway whatever, N’Kechi isn’t going, he’ll wait here for the news, good or bad with the oxen and the cart and this guy with the goat.
So they went on to the foot of the hills to find the mine which was at one point – maybe – a westernmost link to the eastern side of the hills. The mine itself was cut into an old salt quarry, which now served as kind of a natural shelter for the mine buildings. A dust and salt crusted sign out front read (faintly, the paint almost scoured away) “Fzumi Salt Mine. Prop. F. Crinhouse”. Kona shrugged or rolled his eyes, noting that the head man’s name was Chelish. The mine buildings were dilapidated, covered in a fine layer of sand and grit and unused for years. There were two small huts, two small shed and one long large building. The party spread out, with Floki bringing up a cautious rear with Thrima.
"Your country is full of salt, they said. We're all going to be rich, they said."

“Your country is full of salt, they said. We’re all going to be rich, they said.”

Kona went to the door of the long hall and found a dusty barrack-type bunkhouse – the bunks slim and rickety, the facilities minimal. There were no windows in the bunk house, just open slats near the roof of dry and crumbling reeds. Percy and Malicia both pulled themselves up to peer in through the slats at the opposite end of the bunkhouse. Nobody entered the nearest hut and found it to be some sort of office, he gave it a quick glance over, but could see nothing of value. Dellen went into the other hut and found a cookhouse. It looked like it had maybe been raided of most of its pots, yet some remained.
Inside the hut, Kona let his eyes attune to the dim and dusty interior, but as he stood still he heard something right outside, a soft padding, accompanied by a faint click sound. Leaping out of the door, he found himself faced by a tall, young woman, dressed haphazardly but functionally in animal skins, holding him at bay with a polearm topped with a jagged looking jawbone. “You no take eggs!” she screamed in Polyglot. “Leave! No eggs!” Everyone else came running at that point. Some soothing words from Kona in Polyglot helped this mystery lady calm down a little and she stayed on guard, but not aggressively about-to-eviscerate-you-with-a-jawbone-on-a-stick-on-guard. She let out a shrill whistle too, the purpose of which became apparent when the party’s charm-tanks moved forward to talk with her and passed a fully grown Deinonychus that had been hiding against the wall of the barracks, its sneaky dinosaur face more or less level with theirs and its sickle talons itching to open someone up. everything seemed to be going okay, so Percy decided to try to cast Hold Person on her… which fortunately failed, I guess. While she was disturbed by the spellcasting intrusion into her cerebellar peduncles, but fortunately Dellen was on hand to smooth over that with some solid Diplomacy. Percy wasn’t having a good day as he couldn’t keep up with what was being said between Kona, Dellen and the woman, who it turned out, was called Athyra.
Athyra looks full on caucasian here, which she is in the text. But I changed that because i think it is weird that the so many of the NPCs in this campaign set in Sargava are caucasians.

Athyra looks full on caucasian here, which she is in the text. But I changed that because i think it is weird that the so many of the NPCs in this campaign set in Sargava are caucasians.

Athyra, it turned out, lived in these hills and didn’t want anyone going there and stealing eggs. People did come to steal the eggs and she didn’t like that. She and her pet Deino, Jaji scared people away from the eggs. Getting off the topic of the eggs, they started talking about the mine. Athyra wasn’t allowed in the mine, she said somewhat guiltily. Why wasn’t she allowed in the mine? Because it was dangerous. Who said she couldn’t go in the mine? Daddy. Had she ever gone in the mine? No (blush, kick stone, avoid eye contact). 
There was something very unsophisticated and childlike about the woman; Kona had sized her up as mixed-ethnicity, part-Chelish, part-Zenj, but they managed to piece together that her father Feran Crinhouse had once run the mine. Given the dilapidated state of the mine, F. Crinhouse hadn’t run this mine in at least 10 years, so its possible that this woman has been here since which would have made her a small kid when the mine operations came to what appears to have been a dramatic halt. She knew that there was another mine on the other side of the hills, but could not verify that the two were linked. She seemed to take at face value that they were, once the party had said that’s why they had come. She knew where the other mine was though and would wait for them there. She seemed anxious to know more about the mine, but was not willing to go in it. She took off at a run, leaping up the quarry ledges and into the hills with her dinosaur companion.
The party moved into the mine. Floki stayed at the back, while Kona, Nobody and Dellen pressed forward and Malicia slinked off into the shadows. working their way into the mine, which had little in the way of slope to its floor they entered the first salt cavern. Here the salt had been mined out and then a ledge cut into each wall about 10′ off the ground, to allow the chamber to be extended upwards and allow the ceiling to be chipped away in great slabs. However, this was long ago and the cavern that had been created had long been permeated by water. It had run in rivulets down the rock, creating weird melted candle-like structures as well as some budding stalactites. The floor was covered by a cloudy pool of water.
This is that exfoliating spa stuff, right?

This is that exfoliating spa stuff, right?

From this first pool of water, a hoary curled hand protruded, still and caked in salt. Kona saw it and unraveled his rope and grapple before tossing the grapple past the hand and dredging it towards shore. A stiff body came with the grapple, a weird mix of water bloat and mummification maintaining the body’s integrity. Percy bent down to examine the corpse, but examined it a bit too hard and the shoulders and head sort of broke off with a slurp of salt water.
Malicia, meanwhile had hammered a few pitons into the soft salt wall and clambered up to the ledge. Nobody, on the opposite wall, climbed up that ledge. The two snuck around, Malicia getting further and further from the light source as she went.
Noe, you can go ahead and lick these walls.

Noe, you can go ahead and lick these walls.

Dellen stepped into the pool of salt, its mistiness now positively murky, and when he had reached the depth of upper shin, the surface beneath yielded. He felt his limbs stiffen for a brief second before he called on the power of Desna and shook the paralysis off. He fled the water, calling out a warning to the others, as the surface of the water broke and crystalline pseudo-pods lashed out at Kona and Percy harmlessly. Nobody cracked off a shot from his weapon that landed near where the pseudo-pods had emerged, but it was damn tricky to see where the thing was. Dellen summoned a Celestial Octopus, but it was engulfed in the murky water almost immediately. Percy cast Spiritual Weapon and the glowing scimitar laid about the patch of water. Nobody peered at the thrashing surface and let off another shot when he thought he had something to shoot at. Dellen and Floki waded in as Kona sought a vantage point on the ledge. Dellen’s magical morning star hit at the… whatever, but the haft shattered. Floki finally caught the murky, silvery thing in a sword and board combo as it attacked Thrima. There was a cessation of violence in the salt pool. Dellen’s paralysis suddenly caught up with him and Floki stayed with him as he rode that one out. What the gelatinous thing that attacked them was, they were unsure. But it didn’t seem to be the kind of gelatinous thing that stores a lot of treasure.
... I'm not paying for that miniature.

… I’m not paying for that miniature.

Malicia, meanwhile, had been sneaking around the corner up ahead, finding – as Nobody did on his side – the dessicated corpse of what looked like a Zenj miner. Both had suffered brutal injuries – collapsed skull and crushed windpipe. They were dressed in the same way as the fella in the pool – shitty leather protective gear and rags underneath. Advancing to the curve of the cavern’s wall, she peered around into what was probably another cavern, but with no light source she was screwed. So she stayed and tried to listen down that way. She couldn’t hear much, given that the rest of the party was finishing off the ooze thing. But she did think (between Nobody’s gun shots and the general thrashing about in saltwater) that she heard movement from the cavern ahead. She called back a warning and went back to the light and the end of the fight.)
Percy, Kona, Nobody and Malicia had taken to the ledges as the party moved into the second, larger chamber, while Floki, Thrima and Dellen brought up the floor. The second chamber was longer but had also accumulated water. So far – it should be noted – there’s been nothing dangerous in this cave/mine’s structure that would prohibit an ox cart or two or twenty. However, a little ways into the mine, they found something that might be a problem, namely that the dead bodies in here wouldn’t stay dead. Instead, they leapt up and attacked the party, all except the slumped corpse that Nobody found on the ledge that tried to take him out at the knees.
Saltmen are a real thing... this guy was found in a salt mine in Iran. The part about them punching people is probably made up.

Saltmen are a real thing… this guy was found in a salt mine in Iran. The part about them punching people is probably made up.

The undead weren’t particularly skilled fighters, sloughing salt dust as they tried to slam the intruders. Their blows eventually connected with Percy and Nobody, who both shrugged off the intense surge of unlife that they felt when struck. Dellen’s Spiritual Weapon, a Starknife made of light and force, whipped out at the attacker as Kona sent a Javelin through one undead and then jumped down to flank Dellen’s attacker with his Bladed Belt – form of… Longspear! – and killed it. Percy channeled, but wasn’t having much luck with his big sword.
Malicia and Nobody provided missile support while tactical reserve Floki piled in to flank Percy’s attacker and caught it with another substantial sword and board attack. With the last salty undead laid to rest, they caught their breath in the middle of the cavern, Percy and Nobody trying desperately not to get any salt in their wounds.