The Happy Muggers

To Dunesend

South through the Thornwastes to find a mine, but they find a terrorized village, instead

With Tusk’s head in hand, the Happy Muggers ran for the tunnel back into Overlook, and by morning the loss of their leader had spread through the now-quickly-dissipating orcish camp. A heroes’ welcome and a large reward was given the five, and they spend a few days enjoying the city’s many amenities.

“Are you Tortolla?” the dwarf asked him. He was, and said so, and received the invitation kindly, and when he had gathered his friends together at the appointed hour he was pleased to make the acquaintance of Bram Ironfell, brother of Kalad Ironfell and scion of the Ironfell clan. “Long have we been the miners of Overlook; back when all of Elsir Vale was a dwarven kingdom we had properties everywhere. The crown jewel of them all was Kerak Lode, whose location was known to few then and is known to none of us now. But a scrap of parchment found among Modra‘s things may be evidence of its whereabout, and I offer you a handsome reward for determining if the place mentioned is my family’s long-lost mine.”

Being in the business of accepting handsome rewards for somewhat dangerous activities, the Happy Muggers were happy to oblige.

South they went, back through the Vale and down through the Thornwastes, toward the great desert. With every mile through the razor-sharp thicket they could feel the temperature rising, the air getting dryer and dryer.

And then the thicket stopped and they reached Dunesend, a tiny town on the border of the desert, built on the ruins of an old supply depot. And it quickly became obvious that the hundred-odd citizens of this outpost were unaccustomed to strangers, and fearful of outsiders, because recently outsiders had been coming from the desert and stealing whatever they could.

“These bandits might know the lay of the land in the desert,” Leeloo said, “They might know where we’re going.”

“They might even be coming from and hiding in the ruins of the mine itself.” Tortolla agreed.

“So we let them make their next raid,” D’cafnaet’d said, “and then we follow them home.”

Leeloo frowned. “Why don’t we stop the raid, and then take one hostage instead?” She was always willing to help people, and found it quite odd when others didn’t immediately jump into the opportunities when presented. She understood that the drow was wired differently, but she was still surprised whenever concrete evidence of this difference manifested itself. Lucky for her most of her compatriots agreed that allowing the raid was unnecessary, and they set up the ambush outside the town.

The insectoid figures ambled out of the sands and toward the town, and Montiago was making note of their movements for scholarly rather than tactical reasons. But Tarque stepped out from behind a rock and lit into them, felling three of their number before any of them could even gasp at his sudden appearance. After that the Tri-kreen began leaping around the battlefield, and the Happy Muggers found themselves unable to focus on any one of them before he leapt away and was replaced by a more immediate threat. Tortolla found himself pinned between two large rocks, and as the Muggers converged on his location the battle collapsed into a melee around and on top of the spires, the insects falling one by one as they approached the now amassed force. In the end, one of them bolted back into the desert as his fellows lay on the ground, and one wriggled helplessly in Tarque’s embrace. Now, to interrogate him and find out from whence these bandits came.

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