Eomer talks to the captain in charge of this mining camp. Eomer bluffs his way though this, making the captain think that the players were sent from Fol Thron to deal with the rioting and work stoppage. This is made easier by the fact that they do have papers proclaiming them to be in service on the Queen, and the fact that the captain would really rather let someone else handle this. They get a lot of license for how they want to handle the problem.
The players have already decided they want the slaves free. Now they need to figure out how to pull it off.
There isn’t much in the way of fences. The prisoners are kept in place by keeping them on the edge of starvation. If they escaped, where would they go? It would be a long, hard trip north with no food and no supplies if they just ran off. They would need to stay hidden, and find some way to cross the river without using the bridge. So, their hungry bellies keep them from running off. Also, there is the very real threat of reprisals against their fellow slaves. If someone runs off, everyone else gets punished. These two facts keep the slaves in the camp.
Enoch and Thordek head up the hill to the mines themselves. They journey inward. There are mine carts and some crude tracks at the entrance. Inside, the tunnel heads downward for a while before leveling off into several branching paths. Enoch is able to detect the evil auras of gravewalkers nearby. They head back outside and explain their findings to the others.
I had a nice big dungeon all ready for them. It was a maze of mine tunnels sprinkled with a bit of raw loot (gold and gems) and a few grave walkers. Sadly, they didn’t bite. It happens.
They come up with a plan.
Eomer gathers up a group of twelve slaves, which they learn is the size of a normal shift of workers. They lead these slaves up the mountain to the mine entrance. The guards stay at the camp. They trust Eomer to handle the slaves without allowing any of them to escape.
At the entrance, the slaves flat-out refuse to go inside. Eomer explains that they don’t have to. The party then hands over all of their food. The slaves take a few pickaxes from the tools nearby, which seems better than leaving empty-handed. The slaves have no knowledge of how the war went or where they might seek refuge. Skeeve shows them a map of where they are, and where the Alidian guards have their choke points on the road. They suggest to the slaves that Joland Village is a good place to go. Since their young men are gone, the slaves would be most welcome. The Alidians didn’t bother to leave forces in the little village, so it will be a safe place for them to hide out.
The slaves thank them and head down the northern slopes as fast as they dare.
Having freed the slaves, all the party has to do now is conceal their crime. They take the remaining tools, drop them into the mining carts, and roll them down into the mines. Then they wait for twelve hours, and head back down to the mining camp.
Eomer explains to the captain that the slaves went in and never came back out. He reports that their cleric has sensed some sort of evil creatures inside. The guards can only conclude that the creatures killed all the slaves.
They could continue to run the camp with a high casualty count, but running it with a casualty rate of 100% is pointless. The captain is pretty scared now, since he is forced to report to his masters that he can’t get anything out of the mines at this point.