Disclaimer: This adventure is found in Wyrd Chronicles Issue 33; Worked to Death. Beware spoilers ahead.
After my close encounter with death as we escaped from that damned mine, I decided it would be best to record my adventures in this journal. This will serve as a warning and/or a field guide to those that wish to travel and explore the depths of Malifaux. The first entry will be the recollection of the tale that prompted me to start writing.
After a brief visit to the town of Ridley; Gerared, Jonah, Sir Longbeard and I went out to explore the vast Northern Hills. The travelling was uneventful; the local foot traffic reduced after the recent raids by December’s Acolytes. 3 days into our travels we noticed a few small specks nestled into the rocky hills. We decided we would head in that direction in hopes of earning some Scrip.
When we arrived a mass of graves greeted us. A tall sign between the graves identified the surrounding area as Colmbstock. Colmbstock was a small town with a population of a hundred and twelve. I had a sinking feeling that number was woefully out of date. Jonah approached a grave close to him. “The date on this,” he said speaking slowly. “This woman died in this week.” We walked around, checking the dates on the graves. More than half of the deaths happened on the same day, about a week ago. The rest happened in the days that followed. “We should turn back,” I said, images of what could kill so many filling my head.
“Nonsense,” Sir Longbeard said, stepping onto the path that leads into town. “Onward to adventure!” He called. The others seemed equally ready to explore the town so against my better judgement I decided to follow.
Colmbstock was a ghost town. The only movements left was the scurrying of wildlife and the creaking of doors as the wind blew them open. An old dilapidated saloon that looked boarded up and a few homes were scattered around the centre of town. A standard mining town setup. We walked slowly through the town, staying on alert. “Doesn’t look like the town was raided,” Gerared said peeking into one of the houses. “Though the tracks on the ground suggest that people came through here recently. Maybe-”
“There!” Jonah interrupted. We all turned to look at the building he was pointing at. It was the old saloon that was barely holding it together and there, in a side window was movement. We quickly moved to the building. Jonah tried to open the door but it was barricaded shut. “Should I knock?” he asked.
“We don’t know how many there are, the sign did say a population of a hundred and twelve,” I said in a hushed voice.
“I’m going to knock,” he said eagerly. The eerie silence was broken as Jonah pounded against the door. A man called out from within the saloon.
“Please, strangers! Don’t hurt us. You can take anything of value that you find but just leave us be! “We’re not here to rob you!”
Jonah shouted through the closed door. “We’re here to aid you with any service you require, as long as it provides suitable compensation for our efforts.” Gerared looked incredulously at Jonah, but I wholeheartedly agreed with him.
“We don’t have anything to pay you with, but if you help us, anything in the town and the nearby Soulstone mine is yours to take.” The mention of a Soulstone mine caused us to perk up. A Soulstone the size of a small marble was worth more Scrip then we all had combined. We waited patiently outside as the furniture that they used to barricade the door was moved out of the way. A man pulled open the doors. Between his stocky build and the air of authority he had around him, he seemed to me like the type of person that wasn’t afraid of anything. This fact made the terrified expression on his face so much worse. “Sheriff Dixon,” the man said holding out his hand. We each shook it and introduced ourselves to him.
“Where is everyone?” I asked as I settled into my seat. Dixon gave a heavy sigh.
“About a week and a half ago there was a commotion at the Soulstone mine. A tunnel had collapsed and left a group of miners trapped inside. After a few days of backbreaking work, we hit an air pocket and could hear groans, so we started digging faster. Albert was the first to go,” he said bitterly. “The screams that came from that man as a hand pulled him through the narrow opening will haunt me for the rest of my days.” Dixon motioned to someone sitting behind the bar. A middle-aged woman approached holding a half-empty bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses. She placed them on the table, filled one and handed it to the Sheriff who finished the entire glass in one gulp. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then looked up as if remembering where he was. “You boys want anything to drink?” He asked nodding at the bottle. Gerared and Sir Longbeard accepted his offer and the lady filled two more glasses. I declined, not entirely trusting the Sheriff yet. Jonah; possibly sharing my suspicions also declined.
“So what happened to the people?” Gerared asked. Dixon shook his head slowly. “Those weren’t no people anymore. Those were crooked and broken things that grabbed people and pulled them deeper down into the mines. We barely made it out of there alive but that night our luck changed as they scurried out like ants. Every night we fought hard but they kill and captured so many, ” Dixon shook his head. He motioned to his glass again and the woman filled it once more. He downed this one as well and sat there for a few seconds, not saying anything, then he took a big breath. “Look, I know you have no reason to say yes, but is there any chance you boys would help us out? Those things are ripping us apart and if they aren’t stopped Colmbstock and its people will be killed. We have a lot of dynamite in that mine that you can use to close it up for good.
“Can my acquaintances and I have a moment to discuss?” Sir Longbeard asked.
Dixon twirled his thumbs as if thinking something over. “One last thing. I know it might be a long shot, but if you could see about getting the trapped miners out of there…” he trailed off.
“What makes you think they’re still alive?” I asked. “No way anyone could survive down there for that long?”
“Well, we haven’t seen any of them come out of the mine and all our miners carry a few days worth of rations with them when they go down. So there might be a chance that they’re still down there.”
“Like I said,” Sir Longbeard repeated. “Can we have a moment to discuss?”
“Of course,” Dixon said taken aback. “Take all the time you need.” With that Dixon got up from his seat and stood by the bar, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
“Doesn’t seem like the easiest job,” I said, thinking about those miners.
“We could always close the mine and just leave the miners to fend for themselves?” Gerared suggested.
“I don’t know,” Jonah said. “Could be Soulstones down in that mine? Really big ones. This big,” He held out his fist, shaking it. “I think we should take it,” he said. Gerared and I nodded.
“Ok, so everyone in agreeance that we take the job?” Longbeard asked. Everyone agreed.
Longbeard motioned to Dixon. “Just to be sure, anything we find in the mine is ours to keep?” Dixon nodded.
“Great, then we have a deal.” Dixon shook his hand. “Thanks for hopefully saving our small town. Henry is the only miner that’s still left. If you have any questions go talk to him.” Deciding to not waste any time, we went to question Henry.