The Copperbell Mines had once been a derelict mining operation just west of Ul’Dah. In my time the mines had been completely shut down and overrun by monsters of all kind. With the pressing need for building materials after the Calamity, Copperbell Mines had been reopened and once more the precious metals were removed from within the earth. Amaljina & Sons Mineral Concern had lain claim to the mines and were deeply invested in making them profitable, driving the mineshafts deeper than they had ever been before. Little did they know that a race of giants known as Hecatonchires had been trapped in the darkness for over three hundred years. Spurred on by untold riches, the mining company strove ever downward until the only metal they found was that of the giants’ weapons and armor. The mines are now closed once more, but it’s only a matter of time before the Hecatonchires come flooding out of the depths.
That was where we came in. We being the group of adventurers who had been tasked by Ul’Dah to enter the Copperbell Mines and remove or entrap the giant threat once more before they could escape the Mines and wreak havoc across Thanalan. Shortly after accepting the request from the Adventurer’s Guild in Ul’Dah I had been approached by Rae Lenaerys, the Marauder I had partied up with in Sastasha. She had sought me out for some reason and offered to join me in Copperbell Mines. While in Ul’Dah we gained the assistance of a Hyur Thaumaturge named Ratie Farsight, and a Lalafell Pugilist named Mishro Morishro. We all stood cramped inside the elevator leading down into the mines, the air growing stale the further down we went.
The frame of the elevator clanged hard upon the ground as it delivered us to the first level of the mines and the mineshaft designated B1.
“This should be smooth sailing until we get to the lower levels,” I said to the rest, leading them out into the mineshaft. I frowned as I took in the sights of the mine. This section of the mines was wide open, a large open pit to our left with what seemed like an endless drop into darkness and a cart track following path and the rock wall to our right. Only a single rope fence prevented one from accidently tumbling into the pit which put me on edge. The number of wooden platforms, bridges, and large buckets hanging from ropes made my head swim. Everything looked so dangerous.
“We should be wary all the same,” Ratie said, putting voice to my newfound concerns as he adjusted his wide brimmed hat.
Mishro laughed to himself. “Adventurers should always be wary, we’re often going places deemed scary.” He grinned and shrugged, clearly content to amuse himself with his thoughts. Lalafell people had always walked a thin line between irritating and entertaining in my mind. There were those that spoke endlessly in rhyme, others in alliteration, and more so who spoke in ways that others would describe as cute. I felt as though I could put up with one Lalafell for now.
We trekked further into mineshaft B1, sticking as close to the wall as possible. It seemed that none of us wanted to be anywhere near the pit. We had just crossed over a small bridge when I felt a tremor underneath my feet. “Does anyone else feel that?” I asked, bracing myself against the wall. With my hand against the cold stone wall I could definitely feel something.
“I hope it isn’t a cave in, I don’t want to be stuck down here forever.” Rae worried aloud, her eyes wide.
The tremors subsided and I let out a sigh of relief. “There we go, I think it stopped.” Just after the words left my mouth there was one last mighty crash as the wall some four yalms in front of us exploded outward sending chunks of rock to tumble out into the pit. A Hecatonchire lumbered out of the new passage in the wall. It was a massive brute wearing an iron helmet with large horns. It bellowed, swinging its arms wildly and charged at us.
Rae already had her axe drawn and drew the giant’s attention. She ducked and dodged the massive arms, striking out with her axe as the giant’s arms flew by her. Her axe bounced off of the metal bracers the giant wore and she nearly wasn’t able to recover her footing. The Lalafell Pugilist wasted no time joining the combat. His movements were exact, dodging blows within a hair's breadth while punching the giant’s legs repeatedly. Given any situation less dangerous the sight of it would have been humorous, but I quickly realized that Mishro’s strikes were delivered with precision when the giant’s legs buckled under his own weight. Rae and Mishro retreated as the giant collapsed and Ratie and I finished it off with a volley of magic.
“The big brute barely bothered me, he hardly had a leg to stand on you see.” Mishro said with a chuckle as we made our way past the remains and further into the mineshaft. Our path lead us across bridges spanning the void below and we soon entered mineshaft B4. We came upon a wall of debris blocking our way and spent a good amount of time trying to decide how we would progress. There were plenty of shovels and pickaxes lying about but we soon realized it would take far more manpower to clear it that way.
“I found some firesand and blasting devices,” Ratie announced, holding up a bag and a canister. “We could blow our way through this blockage.”
“And risk bringing the entire mine down on top of us,” I said, sizing up the well of fallen rock.
“We could keep the blast small, say… twelve onzes of firesand?” Ratie measured out the firesand and dumped it into the canister. He then connected the leads to a blasting plunger and buried the tube in the mound of rocks. We all retreated as far as the leads would allow and the Thaumaturge pushed the plunger.
There was a loud blast and the ground shook. When the smoke cleared, the passage had been blown open enough for us to pass.
We entered a large room, some sort of junction point. There was a large metal door on the far side that, according to the information we had, would lead us to the elevator and mineshaft E1. I lit a nearby torch to better illuminate the room and we stepped lively toward the other side. The door was surprisingly heavy and the four of us pressed hard against it. The doors creaked open slightly and there was a sudden shriek.
We jumped back in surprise as a number of Spriggans came pouring out of the passage beyond. These creatures were small and covered in black fur with large ears. They were strange monsters that always carried with them a chunk of rock, a sort of magical battery that kept them alive. The flood of spriggans knocked me off my feet and the torch escaped my grasp, rolling away and going out. The mines went silent.
“Now we enter the screaming dark…” Mishro began quietly, but before he could finish his statement the large doors were flung open. Another Hecatonchire emerged from beyond the doorway, this one weilding an axe as large as it was tall. I scrambled to my feet and out of the way of the giant as the axe slammed down right where I had been. The dark room suddenly lit up, Ratie flinging fire at torches on the walls then at the giant itself. I vaguely thought to myself that the man throwing fire about was also the one carrying the highly explosive firesand but the giant in the room was a more pressing matter.
Rae swung her axe into the giant’s flank, getting it stuck, and was knocked away in response. I ran over to Rae’s side, healed her injuries, and summoned Carbuncle as she ran back into combat. Rae and my Carbuncle familiar distracted the giant while Mishro pummeled the creature from behind. Ratie finished the giant off with a cold blast of ice shards. With the giant taken care of I healed everyone’s wounds and we pressed further into the mines.
Shaft E2 was still a moderately developed mineshaft, but there were signs that we were reaching the newest sections of Copperbell Mines. We found more equipment left in a hurry from the emergence of the giants from the caves below. It wasn’t long before we came upon another dead end.
“We’re going to have to blow it up again,” I said, examining the fallen rock. I had a feeling that the workers had blocked the path in an attempt to keep more giants from escaping. “Lets get this cleared before another giant shows up.”
I watched while Ratie set up another explosive charge, but my attention was drawn away when I felt something drop from the ceiling onto my shoulder. I collected the droplet of green slime and rubbed it between my fingers, examining the sticky substance. I looked up for the source and was forced to leap out of the way as a large blob of slime fell to the floor with a splat. It was a living globule of ooze, a type of Voidsent that was impervious to most forms of damage. They weren’t sentient, not very much at least. All they did was eat and grow larger.
“This beast shall feel my sting!” Mishro yelled as he punched the ooze. The flabby flesh of the slime absorbed the impact and the Lalafell quickly retreated before it could cling onto his hand. “M-my punch! It does nothing!”
Rae swung her axe, cutting clear through the slime, but the creature only reattached itself and continued to move toward us.
“I’ve got an idea!” I tossed a magic missile at the creature in hopes of drawing its attention, which was difficult to determine since it had no face. I quickly moved toward the collapsed wall where Ratie had set up the bomb. “Come on, over this way!” I yelled at the slime. As it drew closer and closer I held my ground. “Sleep it now Ratie!”
The Thaumaturge used his magic to send the slime to sleep and I quickly moved away from the wall. “Now! Now! Blow it up!” Rae slammed the blasting plunger down hard and the wall, and the slime, erupted in the blast. While the rest of us recovered from the shock of the blast, Ratie went about burning the remains of the slime down to nothing before it could form back together.
The passage that we opened with the blast was clearly not part of the mines. The rock here was cold and wet, clearly not the same stone that made up the rest of the mines. While the mine walls were made of sandstone, these rock formations within the new cavern looked more like the ones found in Sastasha. Stalactites and stalagmites adorned the cavern and we followed a winding underground stream. The passageway finally opened up to a large cavern dominated by crystal walls and ceiling.
“It’s pretty….” Rae whispered in awe. “Who would have thought these mines would open up to such riches?”
“They certainly weren’t expecting to hit gemstones,” Ratie agreed. “Though it does little to help restoration, it only lines Ul’Dah’s pockets.”
“We can talk about world economy later,” I said with a sigh. “The giants must be coming from down here somewhere. We’ll confirm the entrance to their caves and return to town. The Immortal Flames can decide whether this chamber is worth risking miners to the giants or not.”
We walked further into the crystal chamber, still admiring the beauty of the gems. I couldn’t begin to comprehend how much time it must have taken for such large crystalline structures to have formed. The structures began to thrum quietly, reverberating with some noise far away. They thrummed louder as the source of the noise drew nearer.
A Hecatonchire larger than the two we had faced before emerged from a side passage. He wore a golden helmet and carried a golden spiked hammer. He charged, swinging that massive weapon and sending shards of crystal in all direction.
We quickly broke away, panning out across the room as the giant raged. Rae attempted to approach, but the reach of the giant’s weapon was too great and she had to continuously pull back. I sent Carbuncle in, the small familiar throwing its body against the giant’s leg. It was like a fly attacking a house. Mishro managed to move within range and began assaulting the giant’s legs as well. The way the Pugilist moved in close quarters was a sight to behold, expertly dodging the giant’s attacks without moving any more than he needed to. He somehow managed to grab hold of the giant’s weaponless arm and climb his way onto its hulking shoulders. Mishro punched the giant’s helmet relentlessly, the metal clanging loudly with every blow.
Rae finally moved within the giant’s range and began cleaving into it with her axe. The blows seemed to do little more than enrage it further as it scrambled to rid itself from the Lalafell atop him. The giant ran toward a nearby wall and headbutted it, but Mishro had leapt from the creature’s back in time. The wall crumbled under the force of the giant’s attack and it turned its attention back to us.
A number of reinforcements emerged from the newly collapsed wall and soon we were surrounded by the Hecatonchire.
“Well, this certainly is a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into,” I said somberly.
“Why did I want to come with you again?” Rae asked.
“Hey, a pretty girl asks me if she can go adventuring with me, I don’t ask questions.” I shot her a sly smile. Yeah, because flirting was exactly what I should be doing at this time. I gripped my grimoire tightly, trying to think through all the stratagems it contained. Was there something in the book that I could use to get us out of this situation? I looked to my companions. Rae had her axe up, making threatening swings at the nearest giant. Mishro was in some form of fighting stance, waiting for the giants to approach. And Ratie was… he was looking up at the ceiling.
“Oh, really? Is that so…?” he said quietly to himself. He had a smile on his face like he was enjoying our current position. Was this guy crazy? He raised his staff above his head and the weapon lit up brilliantly. I shielded my eyes as the staff blazed bright, its light reflecting off the numerous crystal formations within the chamber. Through squinting eyes I could see the air above us begin to ripple and tear. Through that rupture I could see darkness and pinprick stars. Then a swarm of rocks fell through the tear with such force that they alit and exploded as they rained down on the Hecatonchires. None of the giants moved when the meteor storm ended.
I looked over to Ratie who was still smiling. He examined his staff which was no longer glowing. Here was another one, yet one more adventurer who was able to call upon a strange power in time of need. Only the greatest mages in history had been able to use spells like that. Even Garlemald’s Meteor Project was a far cry from the mages of old, mortal men who could rip objects from space on their own without the aid of machines. I watched the others congratulate the Thaumaturge who was still quite pleased with himself.
“Excuse me, I’m going to go report this back at Ul’Dah,” I said quickly, trying to hide my frown. I left the group there in that chamber by means of teleporting back to Ul’Dah. I went back to Momodi, the proprietress of the Quicksand Inn and Tavern, and also the Adventurers Guild leader, and reported our success to her. I then sat down alone at a table and began to brood.
Three adventurers I had encountered now had heard a voice and been granted amazing powers. I had seen the Mothercrystal but had yet to be graced by anything of the like yet. Was I really jealous because it wasn’t me who had wielded a giant sword or healed everyone from the brink of death or plucked rocks from space like a god? Of course I was, and it was making me angry. I had been given nothing aside from a vague quest. The crystals would show themselves to me because of my actions? What a load of chocobo droppings. I had done plenty since I picked up that first crystal in Seasong Grotto. Where was my amazing power? I fumed to myself well into the evening until a familiar voice broke through my dark thoughts.
“Well, fancy meeting you here,” she said as she sat down across from me. Y’shtola eyed me for a moment before continuing on. “I’ve heard tales of your courage throughout the realm and was told that I could find you here. I think it’s time you’ve met my friends.”
First off, all I can say is that I'm annoyed I couldn't find a better image with the dungeon name like I had for the last two and just about every other dungeon I searched for. That one's the best I could find until I can snag a replacement in game myself.
With that said, Copperbell Mines is the last of the trilogy of dungeons before the game reverts back to little errand quests until the threads of story begin to weave back into something good. The next segment of quests culminates in the Bowl of Embers, pitting the adventurer against the Primal Ifrit. That fight was my intended stopping point for the journal entries, but with the game being out for near on three weeks and server issues a thing of the past I may keep going. It's not like I have to worry about spoilers, right?
With this entry the total word count is just shy of 20,000 words. This is perhaps my longest anything ever (aside from that couple hundred page pokémon story I wrote back in high school. don't ask for it, I burned it long ago). I've always wanted to be a writer and I have a lot of good mostly original ideas in my head. I've got a trilogy that I've been planning for years, only a part of a whole universe I've managed to create, and I can never get past the beginning of it. I start to write it and I begin to criticize myself. I haven't really encountered that problem writing this though.
I'll admit, I had an issue when I got to this part. Mostly, it was figuring out two more party members as I ran out of people I knew. Ratie Farsight is a player I know in game, having played XI with him for a couple years. He's lvl50 Black Mage, so of course he ended up being Thaumaturge here. Mishro is a good friend of mine who unfortunately isn't able to play XIV cause he lives in middle of nowhere and doesn't have a strong enough computer. He joined in playing XI a little late as a Taru Monk, about when XIV started to throw out more Beta weekends and then that whole Adoulin mess... so I figured I owed him this. I had a really hard time trying to figure out how to make his name work as a Lalafell. The lore of XIV is so well written and available that I was actually able to research how Lalafell and Roegadyn and other races' naming conventions and it became a road block until I felt I had the name just right. Still not 100% pleased, but such a small detail can be overlooked I suppose.
The next couple entries won't be as exciting as these last three have been, but I hope everyone who's reading these sticks around. I'm grateful for the couple people following my posts and those of you leaving comments. It really helps to know that people do like these. And maybe one day instead of The Crystal's Call, I'll post my own original work. Please look forward to it.