The mine exterior greets the party with eerie silence. There is no one here, even grass seems to be afraid to move when it is being touched by the chilly breeze. Breeze reeking of tormen...no, wait, there are some guards outside. Doomed guards, no doubt, tasked with holding the line against the unholy abominations.
One of the miners tells us of the demons below, his eyes reflect his undying terror even as he stands there in the fleeting safety of the mine's entrance. He describes them as "dogs armed with swords". What unholy treachery is this?! We hurry to the mine's entrance, ready to face anything... except the guards demanding to ask permission from the mine's proprietor named Emmerson.
|The local guard is helpful as usual.|
Oh, I'm sorry, did we pick the wrong time to come do your goddamn job and save the mine that makes your pisshole of a town economically significant?! We'll come back later, when the terrifying monstrosities within build up to a critical mass and unleash their fury on the surrounding countryside!
Emmerson, knowing that this is a part of the main quest, and therefore cannot be skipped, gives me an earful.
|I'm so coming back to kill you when the game is over.|
What is it with these people, acting like they're doing me a favor by letting me come to rescue in their hour of need? Anyway, back to the dramatic narration.
We descend into the mines, the guards following us with the stare of death row prisoners seeing one of their number walking his last walk. The dead silence fills the air.
Suddenly, a figure appears in our sight, a dreadful husk looking once human... but human no longer! Disgusting, disfigured form of flesh, covered with dirt and sweat slowly creeps towards us, ready to oh, it's just one of the miners. So, wait, they post soldiers to guard the exit but the miners are still inside? How does that work? Do they sneak past the guard during shift changes cause they just can't get enough mining? Whatever, we're getting to the bottom of this. The miners tell us nothing beyond what we already know - demons overran the lower levels of the mine. We come across another amnish soldier guarding the miners (I don't know what the hell), who greets us in the usual guard fashion - with ill concieved death threats. I wonder if these guys talk like this to everyone:
"Hello there, proud guardians of Nashkel! Great weather today, don't you think?"
"Just you try looking suspicious and your head will decorate my sword!"
As we continue looking around the mines, which quickly prove to hold more questions than answers, one of the miners approaches us, asking us to find his friend and return the dagger he lost in the mines the other day. Don't know how he expects us to do that, what with the monsters and all, but I'm never one to turn down sidequests.
After about 5 minutes of stumbling around in the dark, we finally find a passageway leading deeper into the mines. One of the miners runs at us, screaming for help. As we draw our weapons, fearless in the face of overwhelming danger, the ghastly pursuers step forward into the light:
Kobolds?! The terrifying unknown threat causing the iron shortage in the entire region was... a bunch of kobolds. No wonder the guards are being jackasses: the lazy bastards could have easily dealt with this "crisis" and were just taking the piss out of a glorified pest control team hired by the mayor!
Disappointed, we nevertheless continue to move through the mines - a job is a job and we need cash (and, you know, its the main plot and all that). We come across some sort of a guard camp, complete with weapon racks and sacks filled with random items and paltry sums of money, manned by two thugs. I don't even bother talking with them and ask the miners they are "protecting" if one of them wants a dagger. Miner Kylee responds positively and gladly takes the weapon, giving us some experience points and explaining that he wants to have something to defend himself with. Can't blame him, the guards haven't inspired much confidence in me so far.
We continue to mop up the mines. They go quite deep, have lots of winding tunnels and dead ends and no indication of where we are supposed to go. The kobolds offer little to no resistance, but the traps hidden in the narrow passages of the mine cause me more than one PC death and subsequent trip to the save/load screen.
About an hour of moderately frustrating combat and wandering through featureless mineshafts later, we still have no idea where the main boss of the dungeon is.
|What do you mean the boss isn't on the other side of that thing?! It even has a bottomless chasm filled with lava!|
The way disbanding members works is kind of funny: there is no camp or inn or other "hub" for them to gather at so they just stand wherever you left them waiting for you. Xzar and Melicamp, the two evil partners I kicked out in Part 4 are still standing outside of the Nashkel armor shop and Minsc will just stand in this damp grotto full of monsters until I decide I need him again. Which won't be long since I've got a cunning plan on how to get rid of my last deadweight party member, Khalid, without loosing his extremely competent healer wife. I strip the useless half elf of his gear and send him outside of the grotto, to go fight some monsters with his bare hands. It doesn't take too long for him to find his death and for me to replace his dead carcass with Minsc, now that Jaheira doesn't mind.
With that out of the way, we move on to face the boss (conveniently placed in a small chamber out of sight). The boss is a half ork named Mulahey, who mistakes the party for a hit squad sent after him by Tazok, his shadowy superior. The poor bastard seems to be suffering from schizophrenia: if you lie and tell him that you were sent by Tazok he will seemingly surrender and tell you to check the papers in his chest but, before you get a chance to do anything, will initiate conversation again, taunt you and yell that he won't surrender and summon some kobolds and undead. Once his health gets low he begs for you mercy, but if you grant it he repeats the same trick.
Kobolds may be weak, but they swarm in from behind and are quite tricky to keep off the mages. Mulahey is a handful too: he is a cleric which means a nasty combination of good armor and fighting skill and very powerful magic curses which incapacitate most of the party. My mages have a trick up their sleeve - the Color Spray spell which renders several creatures below level 4 unconscious (unable to do anything and much easier to successfully hit). It gets most of the mooks out of the way for about 5 turns, but they eventually overcome it and, together with the second wave, finish off the paralyzed party.
|But you JUST surrendered!|
Beating him takes about 3 tries and disagreeing to spare him when he begs for mercy (that way he doesn't summon another wave of mooks, for some reason). The bastard falls down and leaves some decent loot and a holy symbol of a god Cyric, which we will probably need as a proof to get the reward from the mayor.
Now, where was that huge treasure chest?