I was awoken by an awful sound as the elevator moved back down into the mine. My body ached from having slept on the ground but my mind was refreshed and sharp. I got up and collected my things. Dixon was sitting at the bar already nursing a drink. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked a little pale, but he smiled when he saw me.
“Thanks for the help last night, I’m not sure we would have survived if it wasn’t for you and your friends,” he said stifling a yawn.
“Where is everyone?” I asked, noticing the room was empty. “They’re outside, the bearded fellow spoke something about sunlight possibly burning them or something of the sorts. He grabbed Tom’s body all on his own and pulled it outside.” I shook my head, Sir Longbeard and his crazy ideas. He might be a brilliant alchemist but some of his idea were far fetched at best.
“Something I noticed while I was watching those things; every night when they came out of the mine, there were always three groups. One would go into town, another would stand guard outside the shaft building and another would work inside the building. I heard them working with some of our mining equipment, so I would be careful I was you.”
“How big were these groups?” I asked.
Dixon shook his head.
“The groups became smaller the less people were left in town. They probably thought we had no fight left in us. By the end every group only had about 4 of them. It might be even less now. Also I would suggest you grab yourselves a few lanterns and a whole lot of rope before you go down into the mine. A few feet of rope has saved many a miner from a horrible death.”
“Thanks,” I said holding out my hand.
Dixon shook it and I left him to his drink.
Everyone was standing outside huddled around the corpse. Sir Longbeard was poking it with a stick while stroking his beard.
“I really did expect something to happen,” he said shaking his head.
“Burning flesh, terrified screaming. Melting body parts. Something. Anything!” He shouted throwing his hands into the air.
“What are you on about?” I asked.
“Well while you were sleeping peacefully in your bed I was thinking, why do they stay in the mine during the day? They could get so much more killing done if they just went at it till everyone was dead?”
“So he grabbed the body and threw it outside,” Jonah interrupted, “now we’re waiting for something to happen.”
“You are aware that we are going into a mine,” I said.
Sir Longbeard nodded not catching my drift.
“A mine that has no sunlight?”
His face dropped as he realised what I was saying.
“So I’ve been standing outside in the bloody burning sun for nothing?” He asked weakly.
“Ok so with our time completely wasted, can we start talking strategy?” Jonah asked, rubbing his hand together.
Sir Longbeard nodded sadly.
“I say we go in at night. It might mean less fighting down in the mines?” Jonah suggested.
“Makes sense,” Gerared and I agreed while Sir Longbeard just grunted his approval, still looking bitter after his failure. We left the body baking in the sun and headed in the direction of the mine shaft.
It didn’t take us long to reach the small wooden structure built on top of the mine shaft that served as the entrance. Jonah listened at the door before pushing it open slowly. It opened effortlessly and a blast of cold air hit us. The room was small,dirty and dark. Every surface was covered with an inch of dust and most of the room was taken up by the elevator that headed down into the mine. The room didn’t have a single window and the only light source was a small globe hanging in the center of the room.
“Dixon suggested we grab a few feet of rope and a bunch of lanterns,” I said. “He also said something about them arming themselves with mining equipment.”
“Might be these?” Gerared asked pointing at a pile of pickaxes and hard hats. “They look recently used.“
“A group of crooked men armed to the teeth with mining equipment seems like an unpleasant experience,” Jonah said. “Maybe we should go hide it outside; far away?” Gerared and Jonah each grabbed a couple of pickaxes and hard hats and headed outside.
“I’ll take a look at the elevator,” Sir Longbeard said, “might be able to work some of my mechanical magic on it.”
Sir Longbeard motioned to us as Gerared and Jonah returned from hiding the equipment.
“I could disable the lift from here,” he said, pointing to a line of cables at the back.
“So we could just break the elevator now and leave this place alive and empty handed or we could risk our lives in the mine?” I asked.
“What if they just found another way out of the mine?” Gerared asked. “Shutting down the elevator doesn’t mean that they’ll be trapped down there forever.”
“Neither does blowing up the entrance,” I pointed out, “those are skilled undead miners down there, they could find another way out.”
“But Dixon said there are Soulstones down in the mine. Could be worth a lot of Scrip if we go down there.” Jonah said eagerly.
“So?” Gerared asked. “Are we doing this or not?”
“I think we should go down,” I said.
“Me too,” Jonah agreed.
“Ok, so it’s settled?” Gerared asked.
“Can someone help me carry this then,” he said pointing to a long line of ropes.
It didn’t take us long to get a hold of everything we needed. Each of us had a few feet of rope tied to our back and a lantern in our hands. The sun was still high in the sky as we left the wooden building.
“What now?” Sir Longbeard asked.
“We should stay close by,” Gerared said. We built a small makeshift camp a ways off from the mine shaft and waited for night to come.
We all sat around the fire, waiting impatiently and just like the previous night, as soon as it became dark we heard the horrible screeching as the elevator was pulled up from the depths of the mine. We quickly gathered our belongings and moved to the back of the entrance. It didn’t have any windows so there was no telling what was going on inside so we had to wait a few minutes in complete silence trying to hear something.
“I’m going to take a look,” I finally said and moved quietly around the building, holding my breath. I peered around the corner and saw four crooked men heading into town just like Dixon had said. I poked my head around the corner and stifled a curse. Just outside the door a group of eight crooked men were waiting. We had lured them out by taking away their tools and now they had formed a larger group outside.
I sneaked back.
“Ok, so the plan for moving the tools didn’t work out so well. We have a group of eight crooked men waiting around the corner.”
“What if we light a lantern and throw it. Hopefully, it will draw them away from the entrance.” Gerared suggested.
“I don’t know,” Johan said uncertainty. “We’ll just be wasting a lantern if it doesn’t work. We only have five lanterns and we don’t know how long we would be down there,”
“Never the less, I agree with Gerared. Having to fight eight of those things doesn’t seem like a good idea,” I said. “If there is even a chance that it might work we have to take it.”
“We don’t really have anything to lose,” Sir Longbeard added.
“Except a lantern,” Jonah mumbled as we lit one of the lanterns. Gerared grabbed the handle and with a grunt threw it as far as he could. It soared through the air like a flaming rocket over the building. We heard it crashing in the distance.
“How long do we wait?” I asked.
Gerared shrugged. We sat in silence for a few minutes..
“Think that should be enough” Gerared said.
We sneaked back to the entrance and Jonah peered around the corner. “I can see them,” he whispered.
“It worked, the lantern distracted them. Should be easy enough to sneak in. Everyone just be quite.”
One by one we each sneaked quietly into the building. We already had all the tools we needed so not wasting any more time we headed towards the elevator. It was a tight squeeze and we barely had any space to move around. I was closest to the control panel so I pushed the button pointing downwards. The elevator groaned and spluttered a few times and with a horrible screech it started moving down into the mine.