As I approached the mine, I saw the toppled over carts and mine tools scattered around. The dwarfs and miners did leave this area in a hurry, I thought. I checked around the miner’s camp for any clues or sings what could be causing this, but I found nothing. Inside the foreman’s office, I found the mine’s map with the current explored and unexplored veins of precious metals and magical gems. After finding this and without hesitation, I headed into the mine.
My first thought into the mine: Beautiful…
The magical gems that inhabit and fill this mine fill it beautiful and glowing lights. There’s no need for a torch, and it feels like it’s daylight inside this rocky mountain. After a moment of appreciating the mesmerizing colors and lights, I focused at the task at hand. I needed to to figure out what was causing this illness on Forgedawn. I studied the map I acquired. The explored and mapped out veins described that metals and gems were found but nothing suspicious. I figured that my best bet might be the unexplored vein, so I headed down towards it.
The unexplored vein was much the same as the previous ones. Gems and metal decorated the walls with a bright glow. As I ventured further into it, I saw them: the bodies of my fellow clerics. I hurried to them and, to my horror, they were crystallized. Their flesh had turned into a brittle fibrous jade. Their faces were frozen in pain and horror. I collected myself and laid their bodies properly, and I read their rites of passage according to Iomedae. I cremated their remains and prayed that they will continue the good fight in the next world.
After a brief moment of silence, I heard foot steps coming from within the mine. Without much cover and time, I tried my best to hide behind a stalagmite (with a scale armor nonetheless) and will try to surprise whatever was coming. The footsteps kept coming closer and closer and closer and…
I tackled it…or her?
I found myself on top of a witch inside of a mine. Both of us were confused at the site of each other until we realized that neither of us are supposed to be in here. After a brief struggle, I managed to subdue and interrogate her (poor pretty thing). I found out that a coven of witches managed to sneak into the mines unnoticed to acquire powerful magical gems. To keep the miners and guards from venturing into their arcane lab, they cursed a strain of jade, so that any touch it will become sick. However, they did not expect that the jade would extremely amplify their curse.
I asked her if it was possible to break the curse. She said they didn’t know since the curse was amplified to an uncontrollable degree. At the moment, the convent was trying to prevent the curse from spreading into other gems. The witch mentioned that she went to check out how the other gems were doing and then that’s when I tackled her. After hearing her story, I didn’t have many choices on how to fix this. Granted the coven is trying to fix the problem, they did trespass and steal gems. Our divine magic may dispel the curse or destroying the cursed stone might do the trick too.
The least that I could do is get rid of the coven first then deal with the curse…or die trying. The witch said they will be coming for her soon, so I did most rational thing at the moment. I kissed her on the cheek, apologized and promptly knocked her out cold. I took her hat and placed it on top of my head. I figured that if I was going to die, I might as well die in style.
So I ventured towards the lab. As I approached it, I tried to sneakily take a peek at what was going on. Five witches were working on an arcane circle around a large jade stone. Another two were studying some books on a portable alchemical lab. The black-hated witch at the lab looked over my way and shouted:
“Beatrice! Get over here and help!”
Dammit, I thought. My cover is blown…
“Just get over to the other lab and help out the others!” She commanded.
So I came out, armed with myself, and much to my surprise she didn’t attack. She kept demanding me to go over to the lab and help out. She asked:
“Were the other gems affected? Why did you take so long?”
I shook my head with a bewildered look in my face.
“Good, there is still time. Go help Jan with the other samples and see what both of you can do.”
I nodded and went over to the alchemy lab with Jan, witch studying the book with the Black Hat. As I approached the lab, I saw myself on a mirror. I realized that my face was changed to how the actual Beatrice looked like. Touching my face, I realized how they got into the mines so easily: Hat of disguise.
After some realization, Jan nudged me to help her and see what we can do about undoing the curse. I startled and accidentally touched one of the jade samples below. Immediately, my body started to seize and convulse. I fell down to my knees in pain, and Jan screamed in horror. As she was trying to help me, the hat fell off my head and the disguise went with it. I screamed in pain as they freaked out as they realized that Beatrice wasn’t who she was. So much for my plan to get rid of the witches…
“GET RID OF HER NOW!” Black Hat yelled “FIND BEATRICE IMMEDIATELY!”
The other witches around the circled stood up and prepared a ritual spell. Without thinking and with my last bit of strength, I picked up the alchemy lab and launched it at the crystal.
There was bright green flash and explosion. The blast knocked me into a wall and I fainted.
…Oh fiery one, we will remember what you did…
I rolled off a bed onto a hardwood floor. Oww…A nurse propped me back onto a bed. I asked her where I am and she said I was in Forgedawn. I saw that I was wearing a hospital gown and my arm was broken. She said that I had a few broken ribs, multiple bruises and burns on my body, and possibly a concussion…that explained why my head hurt so much. As I laid back down onto my bed, I saw my Captain standing over the other side. I was glad to see him well again, and he explained to me what happened.
Apparently after I exploded the gem, the curse subsided to its normal level. The majority of the affected recovered within a day. The Shield remembered that I left into cave after the Captain showed up, so they ended up searching for me. They found a remnants of jade scattered throughout the coven’s cavern with bits and pieces of alchemy labs and few burnt books. The Captain and few others were able to dispel the curse before they carried me out of the mines. They found not traces of the witches or where they went to. All that was left was the purple Hat of Disguise I snagged and the burnt books.
The Captain said that he was grateful for my actions but reprimanded me for disobeying the chain of command. He said that once I was healed I would be serving mess duties for the four weeks. However, due to my courage, brashness and luck, I would be recommended to become a full cleric by end of my 4th year. He explained that I was one of the few to show not only braveness but self-sacrifice for the many. He stated few recruits would be willing to give in their life to try to save a town even accidentally. As a last token of gratitude, he let me keep the Beatrice’s hat as a prize. I thanked him for everything and I promised I would try to think next time before I leap into action.
My actions were unnoticed by the community. Most of Forgedawn hailed me as a savior for saving their townsfolk and their mine from the witch’s curse. The blacksmiths were pooled together their skills and resources, and forged me a gift: Helios. It was a mace made of their special Dawn steel with a fire red ruby core. The mace would never dull in battle or rust by normal means, and the ruby core allowed me to turn into a flaming weapon. They thought it was appropriate to my personality. They inscribed the named Helios onto the handle with my name and the town’s insignia.
After my recovery and mess duties, I came to appreciate this small town and what it had offered. I looked for my graduation after the next year and wondered what other things were to come in the future.