Days and days in the deep dark of the gold mine chipping away slow but sure at the rock walls, the singing echo of metal against stone ringing in the ears of the miners drove some to irritation, and others to something similar to insanity. With little to motivation to anything more than dig and chisel at the cave walls the days droned on in an incessant march to futility. One day in the middle of the winter doldrums the singing metal suddenly came to a stop! An unearthly silence and a held breath of anticipation ushered in an echoing whoop and hollers from the miners. There was indeed Gold in this mine! The long months of dirt and grime finding nothing more than rocks and rubble finally gave a sign of productivity. The excitement passed through the miners further in the caves and once again the chipping and banging of metal against stone could be heard, this time with a renewed energy. More and more nuggets and veins were found and tapped as the miners furiously hacked away at the cave walls. They all had one goal, to find as much treasure and glory before it all ran out. For some the insanity of the chipping was stayed for a while, but for others - and one in particular - the glitter of gold just made it worse. The poor Insane Miner scurried off with a pocket full of nuggets and a twisted grin on his face. He headed to the closest pub to buy himself a celebratory ale and maybe some female companionship. Having not bathed in months, the chances of a female taking a second glance at him was remote, but he could hope that a glimpse of gold would make a difference. The Miner arrived at the Pub and immediately began to regale the measly populace assembled at his heroic efforts in saving the gold from its rocky grave. He was mid way through his tale when a stranger more scraggly and unkempt than he burst in exclaiming that the Miner was cursed and all should run from him as fast as possible. The gold that had been discovered had a curse and any who disturbed it would be doomed to death, a most horrible death indeed. The Miner was rather taken aback by this proclamation of death and destruction, but paying no mind continued to try buying drinks with his cursed gold nuggets. The bartender, not wishing to bring down the wrath of the gold mine, refused his business and drove off the Miner with a rather unceremonious toss of he and his pack of nuggets. Landing in a heap outside the pub the miner began to pick up his nuggets and mutter curses to himself against the pub and its owner. Kicking the step into the establishment that had just expelled him he saw a small dent in the wood fill with a glimmer of gold. Thinking nothing of it he meandered back to the cave, dropping small nuggets out of a hole in his pack that was made when it hit the ground. The other intriguing little detail he missed seeing was the tiny trail of golden items he left as he swatted things in his hasty haphazard path back to the mine. Finding himself quite out of sorts and somewhat disoriented he finally reached the camp outside the mine, looking back at the path he had come he noticed finally a trail of glistening leaves, branches and debris. He looked at his hand through unfocused eyes trying to determine what manner of witchery had befallen him. Approaching the camp he sought help from the camp doctor. The camp itself seemed abandoned as if no one had been there for several days. He staggered into the cave bracing himself by putting his hand on the cave wall leaving golden prints marking his trail. The last image that greeted him was a collapsed section of the cave blocking the entrance to his treasure. Lamenting the loss of the gold that lay beyond and completely oblivious to his own peril he tried to rush into the rubble. Frantic in his desire he tripped on some rock and tools. Holding out his hand to brace himself he fell on his own hand and slowly began to turn himself into a gold statue. The horror in his eyes as realization dawned etched permanently on his features as a graphic reminder of the peril within. Distant meanderings across the lands have brought Rose Blaque a great deal of information and knowledge on a wide variety of intriguing subjects. Some of the most unusual lessons have come in the shape of local folklore and legends. One such legend was that of the Guardians of the Mines. Miners would often come into towns and taverns and tell of strange creatures they saw deep in their underground caverns. These guardians were called Nockers and it is told when one is lost all that is needed is to knock on the walls and the spirits would knock back the way to safety. When wood scaffolds were introduced the miners used that to summon the Nockers assistance, hence a phrase “Knock on Wood”. One rather ominous day Rose came across a tavern with some recent turmoil. A miner from a somewhat nearby gold mine had come in offering to buy drinks with the gold he had discovered. The tavern keeper knew at once that the nugget being offered was a Nocker Nugget and had a horrible curse on it. ~*~ The only place to get the Nocker Nuggets in these parts was from the cursed city of King Midas. As legend tells Midas became so obsessed with wealth, and specifically gold, that he was given a curse that anything he touched would turn to gold. Midas went on a touch rampage turning everything he could to gold. The night that his daughter, Daphne, ran to him was the day he cursed himself and the gold. The daughter was preparing for bed when she saw her father and ran to give him a hug. Knowing that if they touched she would be killed he tried to stop her. Dropping her doll and reaching to her father, a beaming smile on her face, their hands touched and immediately she was turned to a statue of gold. Her look of sweet joy and innocence forever locked on her face to torment him. He begged to have his curse undone and to allow his daughter to be returned to him, but to no avail. Pleading with the Nockers for a release and being denied his fury raged and he cursed the entire kingdom. At that moment a great earth quake shook the ground sinking his throne room and the adjoining corridors deep into the earth. Even the Guardians fell under his rashness. Because of his selfishness Midas was doomed to remain in his throne room along with the statue of his innocent daughter until the time they would be rescued by another’s kindness. The Guardians allowed for clues to be left through out the caves for others to follow if they so chose. They also allowed for there to be a special elixir to allow for Daphne to be released from her golden crypt in order to be laid to rest in a proper grave. Until the time when such an act of mercy was able to be discovered the caves would remain closed and the secrets buried deep within lost to the outside world. ~*~ After hearing the tale Rose was compelled to seek out this miner and perhaps investigate more closely the curse that had been invited to the small village. Gathering a group of explorers to accompany her in this venture they made their way to the last known location of the mine. When they got there a most disturbing sight greeted them. Several plants had been turned to gold, and a set of gold footprints led to a campsite outside a cave entrance. No one seemed to be available at the site, in fact it seemed abandoned. When they went into the cave they found tools and other items abandoned along with a hole that had collapsed. Easing into the narrow opening the adventurers found themselves in a narrow passage with gold creatures and an odd howling moan surrounding their heads. Beating off the creatures they made their way deeper into the cave finding several odd items leading them deeper and deeper under ground. Hopes of leaving in the same direction they came were fading quickly leaving no choice but to continue hoping an exit would present itself before they were all trapped and fated with the same demise as the miners.