The Ruby Throne
Having spent the morning traveling up the mountain from the cathedral and crossing the swamp our heroes, Christoph in tow, reach the gates to a forgotten dwarf stronghold and prepare themselves to delve deep into the mountain in pursuit of warband and the orcs chasing them.
The interior is ruinous. Statues are near unrecognizable, handrails are missing, stairs are unreliable, rubble is everywhere. The entry opens up into a foyer of statues; only one name appears recognizable name remaining being AENHILDAE as translated by Darion. The party comes across a fork and chooses the right passage where they eventually come across another room that splits off… one way leads to a massive open chasim that appears to be caved in and near impassible, the other goes to a long downward winding stairs. N'jall leaves an arcane trace behind to help the party retrace their steps as they double back to the other fork to the left. A narrow passage opens up into a large room strewn with orc dead before a giant stone and ruby throne.
Behind the throne two doors, to the left an apparent vault, to the a stairwell up.
Darion, Valner and N'jall take a brief look at the vault… It is a complex lock w ith 2 concentric rings inside 3 dwarven symbols; after a few tries the party grows bored and ventures up the stairs to the right where they find a ruined garden naturally lit by an encased lava flow. Darion is able to save the party from a few traps as everyone searches from one room to the other. A few longdead skeletal corpses and ruined weapons and armor are found but nothing of signifigance. As the party is about to leave Marcellus takes a keen interest in the garden to search for any rare herbs that might have medicinal value… in the moss he finds another corpse with a strange steel rod he pockets.
With the upper chambers clear everyone returns back down to the vault door where prolonged attempts are made by Valner, Darion, and N'jall to crack the code and unlock the door. Marcellus holds the steel rod to the center and the middle piece glows and a about oa third of the glyphs light up but nothing else happens… with Darion as translator everyone begins the process of guessing the pattern using just the glowing glyphs while a bored Marcellus sits and strolls around the throne room keeping watch for some time before he's struck with an epiphany: AENHILDAE! Not knowing dwarvish, he reintroduces himself to the would-be vault breakers and asks them if the name from the statue in the entry foyer could be a clue.. the glyphs are arranged to match the name and the door is unlocked.
Inside rests a suit of ruined armor, in the same manor the armor upstairs was found ruined with age, but the breastplate is remarkably immaculate. Looking to be a good fit Marcellus claims the prize and immediately changes into it.
Descent into Darkness
With the left wing of the stronghold apparently cleared everyone doubles back to the other side they were at previously and begins to descend the stairs they found previously. The winding steps take the party down until it ends at a small passage jutting off to a sealed door. A careless Darion strolls up to the door and is shot by a bolt from an apparent trap, our heroes grumble among themselves for a moment before they hear common through the door… they've found the imperial remnant.
The leader of the men steps forward and introduces himself as Daren, he has some dozen men all of whom are wounded to some degree or another. Introductions are exchanged and Daren informs our heroes of the current situation: they face repeated attacks from some 20 surviving orcs from the next set of stairs descending down into deeper portions of the mine. Daren asks for Darion to lead a foray down to attack the orcs… The archer from the tower fight gifts Darion his bow as its now useless to him since hes lost an eye.
Darion, Marcellus, Valner, N'jall, and Christoph begin descending down the steps but are quickly encountered with a stray javelin and then a few more. Darion charges ahead down the narrow ledge to meet the dwarves, Marcellus takes a heavy hit and is kept out of battle as N'jall and Valner support them with fire from above. Christoph rushes down to support Darion and Marcellus; after first blood is drawn Darion spins into a wild rage and begins hacking down everything in his way. At a critical juncture in the fight a dwarvish yell is heard as a lone dwarf jumps out and begins attacking the orcs from their side before becoming severely wounded.
Eventually the orcs are broken and the few survivors fall back down into the darkness yet again. Valner rushes to the aid of the Dwarf and stabilizes him. His name is Huldan, before going unconscious he's able to explain to Darion that he's one of a party of dwarves and that he needs to continue through the mine to find the source of the orc invasion. Darion takes up the orc bane sword and together Huldan is brought back to landing where Daren and the other imperials wait.
Christoph pledges to take Huldan, Daren and the others back to the cathedral as the party will continue deeper into the mines.