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Once the dwarf has moved out of hearing distance. "I hope that he isn't there when we go back. This place is a death trap waiting to happen. I hope that he is back in the city or sailing away. But we will see when we come back." It is easy to tell the fake smile on her face. Mika gets back onto her mount and turns it towards their goal.
The deputy once more takes the lead as you leave the bridge, heading deeper into the mountains. The tracks hold more or less to the road (zombies stagger about, after all) for another few miles before taking taking a fork up into a dry canyon. The canyon is steep and narrow, you'll have to ride single-file.
"Heh, yeah, and I'm betting I can be all kinds of useful in a scrap like this," Huril said, laughing and shaking his head, taking rear guard. "At least back here there's a chance I could do something..." He muttered to himself.
Jon shrugs. "Nowhere to hide in this canyon. Be spotted a long way off. Just have to hope they spent their strength on the main attack. If we get room to work than some scouting would certainly be in order. Might pay to space ourselves out a bit though."
His tracking skills unnecessary in the narrow canyon, the deputy is all too happy to quietly bring up the rear as you head in. The ravine is long and winding, presenting a dozen or more blind turns for you to tentatively peer around in fear of an ambush that never comes.
After a tense hour of working your along the trail, a sound echoes back along the stone walls: a loud "thump" repeating every few seconds.
Mika stops the horse and looks up the cliff side and then down the cliff. She does not try to hide her fear of an impending rock slide. She maneuvers the horse as close to the wall as possible.
"Anyone know what that sound is? It doesn't sound good." Mika tries to listen to the rhythm of the beats trying to find any type of pattern especially anything that might be a part of a ritual. She does not want to be ambushed by another Naunet or worse.
I have no idea what to role for this but I am assuming knowledge planes or arcana would work for detecting if this is a ritual of some sort (both at +9). If it would be religion then I only have a +3 untrained. (1d20+9)
"I reckon it's somethin' big, keep yer eyes open, all of you," Huril said from nearly the back of the group, placing his arm on top of his sword, not drawing it, as he was mostly useless on horseback, in battle, he would be worse.
Jon slinks forward with surprising skill, and slowly pokes his head around the corner to see that the canyon widens considerably ahead. A sun-bleached wooden structure is built against the cliff ahead, surrounded by mounds of tailings. Some of the excavated material has been used to dam the canyon where it narrows again on the other side of the complex. A small corral off to the side holds several skittish mules, huddled as far away from the building as their pen will allow. The dull thump is coming from the building, and continues to sound out every few seconds.
Jon move back to report his findings. "Perhaps there is some device in the mine. I know little of such matters. I believe we can proceed, investigate the building and any tunnels for signs of attack. There's a corral, so we can dismount and keep our horses safe without them wandering off. Perhaps we post a guard on the other end of the valley, where they appear to have tried to block it. Maybe where the attack came from, though they would have had to have had foreknowledge of it, or other troubles, to prepare such a defense."
He makes ready to sweep the building, looking for any signs of what occurred.
The horse are quietly secured in the corral, and the group approaches the building--a strudy log affair with a thick, iron-bound door. Tyr cautiously reaches for the handle, hoping the hinges are well oiled, and gives it a shove. The portal opens a foot, revealing a dimly-lit slice of the disheveled interior, before something strikes it from the other side and it slams shut. The sound continues, but now you're sure that it's coming from the door itself.
"Let's cram a rock in it, see if we can keep it open. If not, shoot the hinges. We need to know what's going on in there." Jon looks for a suitably large rock to hold the door open, then stands back in case the door fails dramatically.
Mika does not trust this door. It is obvious that something is wrong with it and that if the group goes in then they will be in danger. So Mika continues to watch the others try to break in a few feet back as she puts up mage armor around herself.
The deputy fumbles a torch out of his pack, lights it, and hands it to Jon. Illuminations in hand, the paladin times the thuds and squeezes through the gap and into the building. The place is a shambles, with tools, furniture, stores, and broken crockery spread about as far as the flickering light of the flame will reach.
But Jon isn't interested in the decor, and spins around to find a gory mess on the inside of the door. Most of a zombie wobbles unsteadily before him, pausing a moment to regain its balance on shattered, dragging leg before ramming the wreckage of its face into the solid mass of iron-bound timbers and stumbling back again. The dripping slick of rancid blood and the distinctively flattened nature of the abomination's face suggest that it's been trying to walk through the closed portal for hours, perhaps following the last command given by its creator. The speechless paladin watches the blinded, battered thing slam into the door again before thinking to draw his sword and dispatch it, clearing the way for the others to enter.
Jon opens the door with his foot as he wipes his blade clean. "Just a zombie, walking in to the door for who knows how long. Let's finish searching up here than take a look in the mine. I'm not hopeful. If that thing has been here this whole time than there are unlikely to be survivors and it is equally unlikely to be the source of the trouble."
"I wonder if we can't at least find a log, to know how many people were here."