The story begins with our surface dwellers, Milo, Braes, and Effigy, as part of a consignment of slaves being shipped underground, marched through endless dark corridors by Grimmish Dinobrax and his slaving company.
Finding the way to their Drow trading partners blocked by a cave-in, Dinobrax is about to cut his losses and indulge himself with the merchandise, when his assistant, Squiggle, mentions a path he knows to a Duergar outpost, not too far from here. Taking this route, the slaver party is led through the outpost’s defenses and does a brisk business. The three named heroes are thrown into slave cave three, where they make the acquaintance of the Svirfneblin siblings and Big Zam, the cave’s “mother”, for want of a better word.
Of course, not all meetings are pleasant, as Lom and Urkmak make only too clear.
The days are spent on the mine face, after the morning feeding of the Otyugh.
The nights have Moonie applying first aid, Zam showing the newcomers how to mine more effectively to avoid the beatings from the guards, and plans of escape. Effigy crafts stone weapons, and Moonie shares her cakes, as the underdwellers and surface dwellers forge their initial bonds of friendship.
During the all too brief nights, distant, rhythmic tunneling is heard, getting closer, but slowly. Twee realises it will hit the mine face sometime the next day, and their escape plans shift from meticulous to opportunistic.
Making plenty of noise to disguise the approaching whatever it is, the party times it to perfection, with Twee, Squee and Braes slipping their bonds as the four bladed Stone Eviscerator bursts out of the mine face, on a mission to kill Duergar. It takes out several of the miner/warriors, and heads off in pursuit of Lom and Urkmak, who collapse the entrance to the cave in an attempt to delay it.
With pit boss Brug Badshield having been blinded by Svirfneblin magic, he is taken down, though Effigy, Zam and Milo are badly hurt.
Pausing only to loot anything that isn’t tied down, they charge off through the Eviscerator’s tunnel, running until their legs feel like jelly and their lungs are on fire.
Finally, they camp down in a small cave, several miles from the outpost. At least there is water here, and they former captors certainly have other things to worry about in the short term…
But what next for them? In the short term, they will need food, gear, allies and who knows what else, if they are to survive and tell their story.