With the immediate haunting presumably fixed as far as they knew, the discussion turned to 'how do we shore up the mine to keep it from collapsing more?' The default method would take lots and lots of wood -- the reason there was still coal columns near the entrance for the sahaugin to mine was that the dwarves had been instructed to use as little wood as possible while still maintaining production, since the elves really hated to have their forest cut down. The gypsies had another suggestion -- open a portal to the plane of ice and mine some elemental ice, which would never melt and could create permanent ice columns to replace the missing coal, since the mine was water-filled now.
The dwarves were wary about opening a portal to another plane -- wouldn't swarms of murderous creatures come out? -- but Alex seemed to think that mining ice was more in the dwarves' idiom than cutting down trees, and convinced them that it was probably worth trying, although of course there was the danger of swarms of murderous creatures. The dwarves considered that, and decided that they'd open an ice mine *somewhere else*. Their records showed three small abandoned dwarven fortresses nearby, and they asked the party to check and/or clear them out so that one could be converted into an ice mine -- they wanted an enclosed, empty, isolated area with one entrance that could be barred, locked, and if necessary collapsed to stop any planar invasion.
The nearest fortress was in the middle of the salt flats, so the party headed their first. As they got close to the indicated coordinates, they discovered that (a) there was no sign of anything other than more salt, and (b) the ground was shaking. Purple worm attack!
... the purple worm was no match for the party, although it came close to swallowing Lilia. It couldn't hit anyone else with its poison stinger, and didn't survive 20 seconds against the party's might. They spent a few hours butchering it for its tough scales and the gold and gems embedded in its gut. They did notice that many of the gems were cut, and the gold nuggets that you'd normally expect to see were accompanied by lots of old coins. Lilia summoned an earth elemental to search underground for any sign of the fortress, and it quickly found that the old fort had been used as a nest by the purple worm and was basically destroyed. Ironhoof turned into an elemental to search for more treasure, and found a little that hadn't been eaten... along with some baby purple worms, which he left alone.
So, on to the next candidate, in the canyon to the east. This fortress may or may not have been suitable, but was under guard by a platoon of rat-men from the beastlands -- not technically enemies, but not a good place to go poking around and potentially summoning swarms of mephits.
The third candidate was in the opposite direction from the other two, so they headed back to the Black Run mine for the night. On the way, they were intercepted by their blink dog liason Blip, who... was acting really weird, ranting about nightmares. Artican managed to heal his insanity, but the cause of the insanity was a possessing spirit! His attempt at an impromptu exorcism took too long to save Blip's sanity, but eventually he forced the ghost out into the open where the party was able to fight it before it could drive anyone else insane or possess them.
Then they subdued Blip (who'd come back to try to warn them in a moment of clarity) and got him passing out drunk, and took him back to the dwarves who anesthetised him with poison until the morning when Artican could memorize another heal. At that point, Blip was able to give them detailed information about a temple of insanity in the forest where he'd been captured while investigating the elven insanity and possessed.
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