Jaun woke up with a splitting headache. His head hurt so bad he couldn't even open his eyes. Or maybe he could. The room around him was a darkness he had never seen before. His hand was in front of his face, but he couldn't see it. He tried to get up but his leg lit up with pain as he tried to stand. It must have been quite a tumble into the mouth of the cave. Jaun carefully checked his gear to make sure he hadn't lost anything. Thankfully the tight straps held.
Jaun wasn't entirely sure what to do next. No one in the village had any experience in the mines, and he was sort of expecting a welcome party. Fumbling in the dark Jaun managed to stand up. The pain in his leg was subsiding fast, he wondered if maybe he had sat down on something sharp, either way he needed to see soon or he was going to be stuck in the entrance of the cave.
Jaun felt his way through his gear and tried to find something he could use to create a makeshift torch. He found some bread rations in a waterproof bag and took a couple bites. He thought about using some of his rope, but he feared he might need that for something more important later.
Suddenly he felt the ground shake and heard something like two rocks scraping together. Jaun quickly gathered his things and strapped them to himself. He brandished his sword, but he wasn't sure why. The blade felt light in his hands but he insisted on using both hands to hold it. Jaun wasn't might of a fighter. His village had never seen raiders since he was very young.
"Young one.... Are you awake?" Jaun heard a voice in the darkness.
"Who's there" Jaun called into the mysterious darkness.
"I am called Ktar, I rescued you after you fell into the mine." the voice insisted. "If you close your eyes, I can make us some light."
"Okay, I'm ready" Jaun nodded out of habit.
Even from his closed eyes. Jaun could tell the cave had grown very very bright. He put his hands over his eyes to help combat the sudden light. It was as if he stared directly into a lightning bolt.
"It is save now Young one, you may open your eyes."
Jaun looked around the room for the first time he had been sitting in a cave behind a grouping of stalagmites. The room was rather large but it seemed to only have 1 way in or out. He couldn't quite see the ceiling.
"Is this where I fell?" Jaun asked. Trying to figure out where he came from.
"No... You along the entrance path, but thankfully I found you and was able to bring you here. Your leg was bleeding and I applied some salve. But Young one, there is something more dire I must tell you." Ktar said, his tone getting softer.
"I am here to fulfill my adulthood trial, I was told you needed pick axe heads for mining" Jaun began to unstrap his gear to give the pickaxe heads but Ktar motioned for him to stop.
"Jaun... my people have not been mining here for a very very long time." Ktar continued, "Some time after the rise of King Martz we were ambushed in the mines. A very powerful force enslaved the Khir working these mines. We've been slaves ever since. Our pilgrimage keeps sending our kind into the worst fate possible. But because of where this mine is, we cannot do anything about it."
Jaun's eyes were agape, He was not prepared for such horrible news. The Khir were always the most polite travelers when they would pass through Palu. He couldn't imagine them suffering. And the Khir lived for quite some time. Jaun was not alive when King Martz passed away.
Jaun a little bit more of story from Ktar before he needed to leave to not arouse any suspicion. Ktar was kind enough to scratch a map into the floor so Jaun could explore. Jaun couldn't leave these people here to continue suffering. He needed to get word out to the others to send help. But he couldn't leave. There was no way out of the Dakrul Mines for at least a couple weeks at the best. He didn't have enough rations to stay that long without help.
Jaun began to cry. Softly at first but he quickly turned into a blubbering fool. He just wanted to find some pearls in the ocean and become and adult like all of his friends. This wasn't fair at all. Why did he get sent on a suicide mission. He didn't even get to say goodbye to his friends.
"WHY ME!!!" He shouted as he swung his sword against the cave wall in a distressed rage. When the sword connected with the wall, it smashed away some of the rock and struck a mineral. The sound echoed against the cave walls seeming to get louder and louder each time he heard it. Within a couple minutes Jaun heard loud commands being shouted in a very disgusting voice. It sounded the way the blyhogs ate. Those things scarfed down food without caring what was in it.
The voices got louder as whoever it was seemed to get closer. Jaun began to panic. He looked around for something he could hide behind using the last light of Ktar's torch. He settled into a corner far from the entrance. He pulled his knees in tight to his chest and quietly wept to himself. He wasn't ready to die. He couldn't fight whoever was coming. And he knew the sounded mad. As the enslavers got into his section of the cave, he could smell them.
The first one came through the door, he looked like a man, but he was much wider. The eyes were squinting trying to see in the dark and the nose was definitely a snout. The thing was only wearing a loincloth and it was holding a rather large club. Jaun immediately silenced himself as the second one came in the door. It looked about the same but just a little bit taller and had more hair on its head.
The two things looked around the room, Jaun could still hear the echo softly ringing back from the rest of the cave system. The first creature moved towards Jaun but was looking into the other corners. He had no plan. This wasn't apart of his trial. This creature radiated an awful aura of evil. Jaun wasn't sure how he felt this creatures energy but he knew what he was feeling. That gut instinct of his hadn't let him down yet. When the creature got closer, Jaun saw it's grotesque skin. It looked like it had been made from mud slapped together.
Just then, it struck him. Jaun knew exactly what he was looking at. He heard tales of the Mugerts as a child. They were often described as funny little mudmen, they were often made by mages for the entertainment of the king's guests. He never thought they were real though. It was just stories for children. If the story was right, these things were made of earth. They didn't have feelings, they were just magical creations, probably the enslaver's enforcers.
Jaun unsheathed his blade once more. and walked slowly toward the Mugert. When he was close enough he swung his blade wide and got the Mugert in the stomach. Almost instantly the former creature was now a pile of dirt and mud.
Jaun's face relaxed as he readied his blade for a second swing at the remaining Mugert. He looked up to find, there was no Mugert there. Jaun swung his head to the right frantically looking.