Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Colony - Turn 47/48 - Zombies or Not-zombies?

Start Date: August 19, late night
Start Status: Who watches the Watchers?
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

The party manages to wake up and prepare for whatever might happen without alerting the creatures wandering around outside, who still seem unaware of their presence. After 30 minutes or so of aimless wandering, the creatures (there are at least 20), move off along the road to the south in a loose group, traveling at a steady walking pace. "Wonder where they're going?" mutters Brigg as the last of the pack disappears into the woods beyond the clearing.

With the action over, at least for now, the party reverts to two people on watch, one focused on the mine, the other on the road, while the others sleep. There's no further activity for several hours, but as the moon begins to set, the creatures return. The dim moonlight is fading as they move at a good pace toward the mine, but it looks to Jinx and Zenobe like several of them are carrying long, apparently heavy objects. "I think those are bodies," whispers Jinx.

This was the end of turn 47. Very short, but I needed to give the party a chance to respond to events.]

The group debates intercepting the miner-creatures before they enter the tunnel, but facing twenty or more foes with unknown capabilities is not appealing. Reluctantly, they let the creatures return to their lair, taking whatever, or whoever, they were carrying with them.

The next morning, everyone is up early after an uneasy night's rest. They have a plan. First, explore the immediate area inside the mine entrance. Second, backtrack along the road to see if they can figure out where the creatures went. Third, build a barricade across most of the mine entrance to limit the access of the creatures inside.

The party lights torches and lanterns and enters the mine with Smoke and Rennard in the lead. The tunnel extends about 15 feet in, then splits, with another fork visible ahead. The party bears left down a narrow tunnel, that continues 20 feet or so, then rough-cut steps lead down to a fork. Brigg quietly calls a halt and holds a finger to his lips. Everyone stands still and listens. The air is cool and still, but you can all hear the faint but echoing sounds of metal striking stone and shifting, tumbling rock.

"Someone's still digging, somewhere. Where is it coming from?" whispers Rennard.

"Here," says Smoke, pointing ahead and left.

"No, back here," says Brigg, gesturing to the other fork of the main tunnel.

"I don't like that," mutters Zenobe.

The party advances into the fork and Zenobe raises his torch to illuminate the area. The left fork dead ends just beyond a side passage to the right, the right fork opens into an oblong chamber. "Far enough," says Rennard. "Let's check the other passage. We don't want to be too long in here."

The group retreats to the main passage, which opens into a larger chamber past the second branch. The second branch is a wide dog-legged passage that ends in a wider gallery. In each area, the party stops to listen. Each time they hear the same digging noises, but they can't determine the direction. The air in the left and center passages has a dusty smell, but there is faint dampness to the right. The grit-covered floors of each tunnel show many prints made by booted feet, and in the large center room and right gallery there are large rounded prints too. Aside from a few bats hanging from the ceiling, the group sees no signs of life in these tunnels.

Exploration complete, at least for now, the party backtracks to the entrance and heads down the road, moving at a fast pace. With no tracker, the trail is difficult to follow, but Brigg and Jinx think they find a place where it leaves the road. and heads south toward a farmstead. The party's fears are realized when they reach the place. The door to the house is open, the bar broken. There are signs of fighting within and bloodstains on the rough-spun cloth that covers the kitchen table and on the floor. There is no one is here. "They *were* bodies," says Jinx, who is keeping watch outside.

The group performs a hasty search of the area and turns out the cow and horse so they can graze, leaving the barn door to the pasture open. Inside they find indications that five people, two adults and three children, lived here. Rennard closes the farmhouse door before the group heads back to the mine. Along the way, they identify several spots that offer ambush opportunities: a rock outcropping that overlooks the road, a dense stand of trees, and a steep hillside that parallels the road. None are great, but they each offer some cover.

Once the party returns to the mine, they get to work moving rock using the wheelbarrows and tools from the barn and storage room. They heap rocks across the tunnel entrance, leaving a narrow opening in the middle. The irregular rocks are difficult to stack. The walls have sloping sides and end up being about four feet high. The entry is about two feet wide at floor level but widens higher up due to the slope of the walls to either side. There are more rocks available, but without any way to shore up the walls, it's impossible to make them much taller.

It is early afternoon when the party finishes this job, and everyone is dusty and tired from the manual labor. "Should we do a little more exploration before nightfall?" asks Smoke.

End Date: August 20, early afternoon
End Status: Pick and Shovel
End Location: Silverstream Mine

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