“…there are things, beyond this mortal plane – objects of great power, and loathesome beings of such terrible visage as to strike an ordinary man or dwarf dead merely to behold them… I will venture to these places and conquer them all, tapping their power to increase my own, until no barrier remains to me in this universe – I will be like unto a god!”
Kiithugn Jeffar – Scrap of a partially destroyed letter bearing his seal, thought to be addressed to the Magi Council
Once fully recovered from their battle with the commandoes, squad 16 took stock of their situation: there was at least a day before reinforcements from the city could arrive, even at a forced march, and yet the townsfolk were mostly still unaccounted for – and according to one hysterical miner, possibly trapped underground in the mines, in grave danger. The next course of action for the squad seemed clear; to scout the mines, trying to find the townsfolk and provide succor if needed, whilst assessing whatever potential threats to the town and its people might stil remain.
With this in mind, the Squad commander ordered an advance to the main mine-entrance (where the main ejection of debris had come from, but now had stopped), and preparations be made to descend. During this brief interlude, Kuri’s finely tuned psionic senses alerted him to the presence of something powerful in Grokduul’s backpack, and felt whatever it was tugging at his mind – clearly a powerful artifact of some kind. Somewhat alarmed at this unexpected turn of events, Kuri all but demands that Grokduul turn out his pack to reveal what lies hidden inside. With some chagrin, Grokduul reveals the items he looted (and hid from his companions) after the skirmish with the goblins the previous day – two elongated diamond-shaped pylons of earthy-coloured stone or perhaps crystal, with tiny spikes protruding from them, and vibrating slightly.
His curiosity piqued, Kuri took the pylons from the dwarf – and immediately, his mind was flooded with a sea of knowledge, the entire memories of an ancient race (as it turns out, HIS race which had been a secret even to him until this very moment) spanning a collective racial memory of millenia. Kuri collapsed into a dead faint, and becoming hysterical with terror the halfling rogue also fell into a gibbering heap. After some minutes of tending to their comrades, the squad commander & Grokduul managed to revive and calm them both – however Kuri had clearly been transformed by his experience. He demonstrated his new found identity and mysterious power by transforming his body completely into the natural form of his race: that of a perfectly-proportioned humanoid, made completely of crystal. Although the commander was initially wary f this change in the squad specialist, Kuri was able to re-assure him of his continued benevolent intentions & loyalty – the commander was satisfied, for now. It may well take Grokduul somewhat longer to win back the trust of his companions after his deception, however.
As the squad made final preparations and discussed strategy for advancing down the Mine tunnel, suddenly the body of a Townsperson smashed through one of the windows of the nearby Mine Office building – a large building raised on stilts, used for administrative purposes of marshaling and tracking the activities or this large mine. The person fell badly, appearing to suffer a broken neck, and lying slumped and motionless on the ground. The squad was immediately on alert, and quickly entered the office, moving cautiously to sweep the structure for enemies or other townsfolk.
What they found was highly unsettling – the floor was virtually covered with a slurry of blood, bones & viscera. Clearly something awful had happened to several townsfolk, judging by the sheer amount of body-parts and gore spread throughout the structure. As the squad approached the rear of the office, advancing cautiously around piled desks, chairs and other debris, they found a hunched figure seemingly cowering in the shadows. Seeing its ghastly blood-stained visage, the squad struck without hesitation, knowing they had found the culprit for this horrifying scene. A brief but brutal combat ensued, the crouching beast unfolding itself to reveal a mutated monstrosity, spawned of some hellish other dimension. Despite lashing out with apalling and unnatural strength the creature could not withstand the combined might and military precision of the squad’s attacks and was quickly dispatched with, whereupon it disintegrated rapidly into a mess of blood & bone indisinguishable from the rest of the gore covering the floor.
Acting quickly, Kuri searched the crumbling filth in the hope of shedding some light on the origin and nature of the horrific monster, and was rewarded with the discovery inside the remains of a tiny golden artifact – a tainted golden star which revealed the source of both the corruption and of the monster itself – evidently one of the poor townfolk mutated into a beast from another dimension. Sickened and shaken by the horror they had witnessed, the Squad re-grouped outside.