The Scouring of Hillcrest Mine


A D&D 5e adventure set in a Forgotten Realms-inspired high fantasy setting, which I DM’d for my nephews.

“Hillcrest Mine has been overrun. The flow of valuable minerals from the mine, the very lifeblood of our village, has thus been stopped. Bold adventurers are needed at once to cleanse the mine and restore Hillcrest to health. I hereby pledge one hundred gold pieces to anyone who succeeds in this crucial endeavour.” 

– Baron Beckett

The rogues known as Billybobles and Nowhere took notice of the announcement nailed to the wall of their local tavern. The dragonborn and tiefling had long been friends, ever since Billybobles had taken pity on the lonely street urchin and shared some of the wealth he had heroically seized from a local tyrant. The pair were desperate for a new opportunity and quickly made their way to Hillcrest. 

They wasted no time upon arrival and headed straight to the Baron’s humble castle, eager to enlist. At the castle gates, they met Eravon, a wood elf ranger from a distant land, led there by his search for adventure. The charismatic rogues effortlessly won over the taciturn elf and the three adventurers instantly became a team. They were guided into the castle to await an audience with the Baron. As they waited at the foot of a great staircase, they met yet another hopeful adventurer, who introduced himself as Simon the Serpent, a human rogue.

Simon avowed himself unimpressed with the three would-be heroes and scoffed at their chances of success in the mine. Bristling at the insult, Nowhere raged at the human, his voice magically booming as loud as thunder. Simon quickly retracted his comments. 

A tall, lanky half-elf in rich robes appeared at the top of the stairs. A nearby guard tapped the base of his spear against the ground for attention and introduced the man as Chancellor Dylan.

“The Baron will see you now,” the Chancellor announced. “You may follow me.”

He turned and began walking, leaving the four adventurers to scramble up the stairs in pursuit. They were led into a broad audience chamber, where a slovenly, fat old man wearing bright red clothing sat upon a modest wooden throne. 

“His lordship, Baron Beckett,” announced the Chancellor with a faint look of distaste on his face. He took up his position, standing on the right side of the seated Baron. 

“Greetings adventurers!” the Baron began, between bites of the turkey leg he held in one hand. “Our village is unable to function. We depend upon our mine and so I depend upon you. You must restore our livelihoods! The people of Hillcrest are depending on your bravery and heroism.”

“What evidence will you require to prove that we have succeeded in our quest?” asked Eravon.

“Bring me the heads of the kobold vermin!” Baron Beckett demanded.

After having pledged to complete the quest and confirmed the promised reward, the four adventurers headed back into the village. They stopped at the only tavern around, the Lonely Loon. From the outside, it looked rough, dark and disturbing. 

As they entered, the bartender and a handful of morose patrons did not bother looking up. Nowhere used his magic to color the faint candlelight and loudly slam the door behind the group. That got them some immediate attention.

“Well well,” the bartender began, “more adventurers here to seek their fortune in the mine. Seven adventurers have gone in before you and not one has come back out. You think you can do any better?”

“Leave off,” replied a grizzled old-timer sitting at the bar. “We need that mine cleared out and it sure won’t be you or I who will do it! Get these people some food and drink.”

The group settled in for some light refreshment and listened as the old man revealed he was a miner, eager to get back to work. He provided directions to the mine when asked and soon enough, the adventurers were on their way. 

Eravon easily read the land and unerringly led the group to the mine’s entrance, a narrow cave cut into the side of a craggy hill. Unable to see into the dark ahead, Billybobles and Simon kindled torches to light their way. Eravon and Nowhere stealthily crept forward, while Billybobles kept an eye on the group’s rear. 

The ranger spotted a group of large cave rats and held up a hand to halt his companions, lest they give away their presence. With an expert eye, he skewered a rat with a single shot of his longbow. Three more of the vermin chittered their rage and charged. Nowhere brandished his dual shortswords and Billybobles brought his shortbow to bear on the enemy. The skirmish was over in a matter of seconds. Four rats lay dead and there was not a scratch on any of the brave adventurers. 

“Where is Simon?” asked Eravon. 

There was no sign of the human. The three adventurers proceeded without him and soon reached a fork in the tunnel. Choosing the left path, they continued carefully until they reached a dead end. 

“Let’s turn back,” Billybobles whispered. 

“Wait!” said Nowhere. “There’s something strange about that wall…”

Investigating more carefully, they discovered that a portion of the wall cleverly concealed an opening. Inside was a treasure chest.

Billybobles pulled out his lockpicks and went to work. In a few moments, the chest was open. Each adventurer took a potion of healing, Nowhere claimed the magical bag of holding, while Billybobles tried on a pair of goggles, discovering that they allowed him to see clearly in the dark. Eravon was left with an amulet covered with strange markings that no one could identify.

“We’ll need to hire a wizard to find out what this does,” said the elf as he examined the magical artifact.

Nowhere tested his new bag by putting the empty treasure chest inside and watching it disappear. Stowing the rest of their treasures, the group retraced their steps and took the right path when they reached the fork once again. They could hear the sounds of metal impacting stone in the distance. 

“That’s strange,” Eravon remarked.

“It sounds like there is still mining going on down there,” Nowhere commented. 

“I thought the mine was shut down,” whispered Billybobles. 

Before they could discuss further, the ranger silenced his companions with a gesture. In the darkness ahead, the adventurers could just make out a pack of kobolds. Eravon launched an arrow into the unsuspecting enemies, pinning one to the wall. 

One of the other kobolds retaliated with its sling while two more charged at the adventurers brandishing daggers. Nowhere immediately wounded one of his opponents, but struggled to finish it with his off-hand attack. The angry kobold shoved its dagger into Nowhere’s gut, piercing his leather armor. Billybobles finished the sling-wielding kobold with his shortbow then he and Eravon rushed into the fray to help Nowhere. The battle was hard fought, with the kobolds’ daggers drawing more blood before the adventurers finally finished them off. When it was over, the heroes gratefully drank the healing potions they had found earlier, feeling their wounds magically knit close. 

“And now for the evidence the Baron requested,” said Nowhere. He hacked off the heads of the fallen monsters and placed them in the empty treasure chest he had kept. 

“Let’s see where those mining sounds are coming from,” he said. 

Creeping noiselessly, the adventurers followed the dark tunnel deeper into the mine. The digging sounds grew louder and they could observe light in the distance. At last, they could see into a wide chamber. Seven men, of a variety of races, were toiling with pickaxes. They wore rags and were chained together at the ankle. A soldier dressed in chain mail and holding a spear guarded the miners. Behind him, Simon the Serpent kept watch on the tunnel into the chamber, holding his rapier at the ready, but apparently unaware of the stealthy adventurers. 

Eravon fired his longbow and his companions charged into the cave. Simon was wounded by the arrow and almost immediately knocked unconscious by the hilt of Billybobles’ sword. The armored guard shouted his surprise and attacked with his spear. In a magically booming voice, Nowhere demanded surrender and the outnumbered soldier fell to his knees in submission. 

“Thank the gods!” the prisoners cried out. “We were adventurers sent into the mines by the Baron. But we were betrayed by Chancellor Dylan and his minions.” They gave the prone Simon a few angry kicks. “They forced us to work the mine and kept all the ore for themselves!”

“We need to report this to the Baron immediately,” said Eravon to his companions. 

“What about them?” asked Nowhere, nodding at the chained men. “I’m not splitting our reward!”

“We don’t care about the gold,” the failed adventurers replied miserably. “We just want out of here! The adventuring life is clearly not meant for us… We’ll testify against the Chancellor. We can’t let him get away with this.”

The adventurers agreed and freed the prisoners from their chains. The entire group marched out of the mine and straight back to the Baron’s humble castle. The adventurers quickly explained the situation to the castle guards, who led them into the Baron’s audience chamber without delay. 

They found the Baron sitting on his throne, eating again. He was amazed to see that all of the  adventurers were still alive and shocked to learn of the Chancellor’s betrayal.

“Guards!” the Baron bellowed, “arrest the Chancellor at once!”

His soldiers ran out of the room to obey.

“What about the kobolds?” the Baron asked. “Have you dealt with them?”

Smirking, Nowhere withdrew the treasure box from his magical bag and handed it to the Baron. The old man cocked a shaggy eyebrow and opened it. He immediately gagged at the smell. 

Billybobles and Nowhere smiled at each other, but before they could respond, the Baron’s guards returned. 

“The Chancellor has fled the castle, my lord,” they announced in dismay. 

The Baron shook his head and put down the chest. “I cannot believe my own Chancellor has betrayed me and the people of Hillcrest!” He turned back to the adventurers. “Though the villain escaped, you brave heroes have accomplished what I asked and more. Our miners can finally return to work and our village will return to life. Take your prize with my immense gratitude.”

Nowhere took the sack of gold coins proffered by the Baron. The three companions left the castle with smiles on their faces, already thinking of their next adventure…

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