Amid the keys on the looped ring, Blackbird located a large key labeled Ostegar Mine.
|Fording the wide, but shallow and slow moving river, Blackbird McAllister hauled the final load of thick cedar planks onto the shore. After nearly a week of chopping towering cedars into long timbers. Blackbird had spent the last few days reducing the trees into roughly hewed planks. Luckily he was rewarded with a pile of useful wood chips which would make fine kindling. There would be a lot of refining ahead if he had his way.
Now on the bank of the river, Blackbird begin stacking planks into the three small carts parked along the shoreline. The babbling river could be crossed here more easily than any other spot for several miles in either direction. But this still wasn’t the best place to harvest wood, or spend time with attention consuming distractions. The area was swarming with Lava Spiders and they had passed by Blackbird’s temporary camp much too closely several times.
Eventually one method seemed to hold all the beasts at bay – at least for the night. Blackbird placed his sleeping pad in the center of a thick stand of trees. Collecting enough tinder to burn the entire passage of Valrei, Blackbird set the tiny fire huts in three dispersed locations. The triangle of light and fire covered a much broader base than a single flame ever would – and Blackbird got a full night’s sleep.
Pulling the last of the small carts to the gaping door of the small mine, Blackbird unloaded the cedar planks and gathered the nails he had made for the occasion. The afternoon was spent hammering, sawing, and hanging a mine door into place. After covering the easily spotted door with loose scree and mud, Blackbird stood back to inspect his hidden entrance. The fortification would suffice for the time being but a much better storage method would have to be completed soon. At least the gear he retrieved from Abandoned Echo Fortress would be stored out of the weather, and away from prying eyes that might pass by in the night. With the evening looming on the horizon, and night closing all the faster thanks to his position at the foot of the mountain, Blackbird retreated into the lowly lit mine to take an inventory.
Blackbird laid out the entire assortment of weapons, tools, and gear on the gritty stone floor of the mine. The broken or worn items were torn apart and set aside for burning in the forge, or smelting for re-purposed metal. The good items made their way into storage bins, carts, and piles assigned by type. While some of the items would be useful to his immediate purpose, Blackbird reminded himself of one major weakness that should be remedied. The trips to Safety Harbour are fine as long as work is available to trade for food from friendly hosts. But if the warm welcome changes to a cold shoulder one could quickly starve in this harsh environment without the proper provisions.
Blackbird turned his sights to food production. Specifically a small farming operation to build up food harvesting ability and overall health. Should he ever make use of the silver Vynora blessed him with, Blackbird would first need to survive this harsh territory.
The following morning Blackbird hauled some small, lightweight implements up to the old Greyholme location to begin surveying and planning. If restoring Greyholme with a small farm house and farming equipment were to be an option, Blackbird would need to set aside a large block of time to focus on the goal. Glancing back toward the large mountain he just left behind, with Sol rising over it’s peak and a thin wispy rainbow decorating the sky, Blackbird knows he must complete the outpost. Picking up where he left off when the wolf interrupted him, Blackbird cleared an area defined by stone slabs overgrown by years of brush and grass. Setting the frame into position and closing the walls in with planks, Blackbird finished off the small hut with a straw thatched roof. Two strong beds were found just paces away which Blackbird dragged into the hut and set against the walls. Following which, he slumped onto the weather worn straw and canvas mattress for a deep, late afternoon nap.
Determined it would be best to gear up against the wolves that stalk, the lava spiders that sear, and the other creeping beasts that crave blood every night – Blackbird dreamed of creating or purchasing his own armour. The vision of silver chain mail armour danced through his mind, but the reality of his situation dictated more practical uses of the silver he was blessed to have found. Setting about the chore of crafting valuable and useful items that patrons in Safety Harbour might purchase would be the best use of his time and efforts. However, the urgent need to grow and eat nourishing food was much more pressing. The farm wouldn’t be up and running for some time, but Blackbird stirred from his slumber with a deep and painful hunger that tore at him.
He immediately secures the small hut and cart, and leaves for an extended trip to Safety Harbour. On his last visit he was invited to aide at a stone making meet-up. The promise of warm food, frothy ale, and gregarious company was a strong pull on Blackbird’s nature. And as a way to repay their workers for such strenuous labor, the hosts planned to be quite hospitable with an abundance of free meals!
While he was staying over in Safety Harbour, Blackbird explored the market more closely. He took a mental note of the prices good quality tools and elegant jeweled ornaments were fetching their creators. Blackbird felt strongly he could fetch a good – or at least fair price – for some small silver trinkets. And it wouldn’t take much of the ore to earn a good income. Leaving plenty for his glittering silver chain mail armour set.
Blackbird had hauled a large assortment of found items with him to the market as well. On his third night at the rock rendezvous he sorted through the items and undertook bartering for a few hours with some merchants. After all the haggling, and even side conversations with passersby, Blackbird was only a few irons richer. Trying to sell spare materials – and apparently useless goods – to merchants in Safety Harbour – which they would accept – wore deeply on Blackbird’s enthusiasm. In the end, amid a fit of rage and frustration, Blackbird dropped the entire collection of keys, locks, and other tinker’s trade items in the market square. The entire pile up for grabs by anyone passing by.
The next morning, strolling toward the rock smashing event near the waterfront, Blackbird passed his pile of untouched trinkets. Leaning low he scooped up the items and proceeded to the nearest hammer. After the event ended, Blackbird bought a few sorely needed items and returned home. Once there, he sat with a fresh meal packaged for him by a priest of Vynora before he left. Crumbs dropping off his chin and collecting on the ground near his rucksack, Blackbird glanced down at the bag. Setting aside the meal momentarily he began to sort and organize the small iron items in the backpack.
For the second time since Blackbird located the collection of locks he decided to keep the strange and varied assortment of gear-works. This turned out to be a fortunate turn of events to say the least. Once forced to inventory the items better, Blackbird found a huge assortment of moderate quality keys and locks.
Amid the stack of keys added to a wide looped ring, Blackbird located a large solid key labeled “Ostegar Mine”. Wondering internally, Blackbird pondered whether this mine might house the very tunnels from which the silver ore was removed. And to add to the mystery – was this mine nearby? Blackbird set the rest of the keys aside and held the thick and heavy key to the setting sun. A glint of sunlight bouncing off a chink in the metal shot a fresh idea into the recesses of his well fed mind. “More importantly,” Blackbird spoke aloud…
“Can I locate Ostegar Mine?”