Zendril and his companions have succeeded in hiring the dwarves of the Tethyamar mines to help them repair their new keep. However, in all the excitement surrounding the last few days, Zendril forgets all about the diplomatic mission from Dagger Falls. Believing his tasks completed, he heads back to the dales, while Nataya and Theranion remain behind to go over the details of the keep's repair with the dwarven engineers.
Silver has been waiting at Dagger Falls now for almost a week, and has finally acquired a new pet, a cooshee he names "Rage". With nothing better to do, he heads out to the dwarven mines, despite knowing the dwarves would be less than happy to see a Drow approaching their lands. He arrives at the mines about the same time Zendril makes it back to Dagger Falls (talk about weird timing).
There are two guards standing outside the dwarven mines when Silver arrives. After a few tense moments with the guards nervously eyeing the Cooshee and the two war hounds accompanying the Drow, Silver manages to ease the guards' hostility enough so they will let him in (but under heavy guard). After being brought to the clan leader's hall, Silver is recognized by one of the dwarves that he and his party members rescued a few months prior.
The dwarf dismisses the growing contingent of guards surrounding Silver, and proceeds to introduce him to Mordran, the clan's current leader. When Mordran was told two months ago that a Drow was in the party that rescued the dwarves, he could scarcely believe it. Faced with the reality before him, he had a look of confused fascination. As a reward for his past service to the dwarves, Silver is allowed to buy one of their magical items at a deep discount.
Zendril, in the meantime, has just realized that he forgot about his diplomatic mission on behalf of Dagger Falls. He makes up an elegant, but rather nervous, excuse to Randal's second-in-command, careful not to reveal his forgetfulness. Zendril then heads back to the mines with a quick pace, and arrives a little less than 2 days later. Silver, ever the impatient type, has already left to return to the keep and oversee the repairs.
Zendril meets up with the rest of the group, and seeks a private audience with Mordran. With uncanny tact (especially for a thief), Zendril relays Randal Morn's desire to re-establish trade with the dwarves. Mordran is displeased, to say the least, since his clan has sworn to have nothing to do with the Morn family. However, Zendril and his comrades have been invaluable to the dwarves these past few months. Out of respect for their newest heroes, Mordran decides on a possible solution.
He starts by telling the party a brief tale of how the enmity between the Bladebright clan and the Morn family came to be:
"About 100 years ago, our goldsmiths lived in delvings in Daggerdale, in peace with the ruler of House Morn, the Mage-lord. The Mage-lord's wife, Belesaria, was a proud and arrogant woman, who believed that the people of the dale were her servants, not she their protector. One cold day in autumn she went to our outpost to buy fine jewels. Our clan members there had just finished crafting a masterpiece for our king under the mountain, and as soon as Belesaria saw it she demanded to buy it. We refused. Belesaria offered more for it, and still we refused. Vowing vengeance for this slight, she stormed off.
"When she returned, she told her husband that our clan would not sell her our fine work, only our trinkets, and that we said she was not fit to wear anything more than that. The Mage-lord was angered at his wife's words and swore to teach us a lesson. Returning to our delvings, the Mage-lord threatened us with a sorcerer's curse if we would not pay him a great tribute of gold and worked steel as an apology for our perceived insults.
"We refused, but, knowing the power of a mage's wrath, the clan and all our kin gathered what we had and left to dwell with our cousins under the mountains here. Our champions remained behind to fight the Mage-lord and were destroyed, never to be avenged. Because of this, we have sworn to have nothing to do with anyone from the House of Morn, not even with a reputation such as Randal's."
Mordran is a somewhat unusual dwarf. Generally, dwarves will hold a grudge to their dying breath, but not Mordran. He does not like to hold a grudge if there is some way to resolve it, and so proposes a way to end the enmity between his people and the Morn family. He asks the group to find and return the remains of the murdered warriors, so they may be given a proper burial. If they do this, and have Randal deliver the remains personally, Mordran will accept that as proof of Randal's sincerity and penance, and agree to open negotiations with Dagger Falls.
With their task in hand, the group leaves for their destination - a low ridge just south of Dagger Falls, known to the locals as the Eagle's Eyrie...
While Nataya heads to the keep to retrieve Silver, Zendril and Theranion arrive at the base of the ridge about 2 days after leaving the Tethyamar mines. The ridge is over 100 feet high, several hundred feet wide, and extending for a hundred yards or more east-to-west. A thin, winding trail leads up the steep side of the ridge. At the top of the ridge stands the toppled remains of a tower, and a small cave mouth in the side of the ridge.
As they wind their way up the trail, they come upon a deadfall, where years of erosion have created a 20-foot gap in the trail. Zendril and Theranion have little trouble climbing over (thanks to their rogue skills). Just as they reach the top, they are attacked by two eagles, owned by two very aggressive beastmen.
A brief confrontation follows, and Theranion takes a nasty raking from the talons of the larger eagle. Though not life-threatening, it will no doubt leave a scar. After the battle, Theranion and Zendril decide to wait for Nataya and Silver before proceeding. While they wait, they search the area, looking for possible entrances to the dwarves' hidden outpost.
Four hours later, Nataya and Silver finally arrive. To get across the deadfall, they have to rely on Nataya's skill with a rope and grappling hook. Silver's cooshee manages to leap across with a long running start, but his two war hounds are forced to remain behind. With the group all together and no other options, they proceed to the mouth of the cave.
Nataya almost immediately motions the group out of the cave, and a few minutes later is seen escorting a large brown bear out of the cave, carefully feeding it trail rations while the rest of the group sneaks past and into the cave. They get into the cave and find...nothing. A quick search of the area, however, reveals two small holes in the cave wall, obviously artificial. Theranion probes one of the holes with his staff, and nearly shoots his hand off when a large crossbow bolt comes flying out of the hole!
He then proceeds to the next hole, and again probes it with his staff (will he NEVER learn?). Another bolt springs out of the hole, but Theranion is better prepared this time, and stays out of the bolt's path. It takes ten more minutes, but then Theranion finds a soft spot in the cave wall. It turns out to be a roughly square hole, covered with packed dirt to hide it. Inside is a release lever, and Theranion has Zendril check it for traps (YES, he can be taught!) before pulling the lever...
Directly between the two crossbow holes, a door opens up in the side of the cave, revealing a chiseled hallway with a soft light emanating from somewhere around the corner. The group proceeds down the hall, and into a large chamber some 25 feet high and 100 feet in diameter. The ceiling is a maze of flying buttresses, supported by sturdy stone pillars at evenly-spaced intervals. Four of the pillars are embedded with round, glowing crystals (polished quartz with a Continual Light spell cast into them).
Silver pries one of the crystals loose, and rolls it down one of the hallways to set off any floor traps or tripwires. The group then follows him down the hallway, ending up in a small round room with a thin lookout window in the northern section of the wall. The window is well hidden from the outside, but affords a complete view of the river valley to the north, including the path leading up to the ridge.
They next proceed to the next hallway, where they are set upon by a group of bonebats. With some magical healing, the group defeats the bats, and explores the second lookout chamber at the end of the hallway. Finding nothing of interest there, they return to the central chamber, and enter a third hallway. The hallway leads to the outpost's smithy, where the dwarves once forged and crafted the metals and jewels mined from the earth.
Immediately upon entering the smithy, they are attacked by a magical hammer that was lying on the anvil in the center of the room. The hammer gets in a few good blows before Silver manages to snap the hammer's handle with a well-placed swing of his sword. The hammer falls lifeless to the ground, leaving the group to explore the area in peace.
In a hidden cache, they find an army's worth of rusted armor and weapons (worthless), plus a few pieces which have survived the ravages of time. These items turn out to be magical, and the group uses the opportunity to rest and identify their treasure. All told, they find 3 magical axes, 2 dwarf-sized suits of enchanted chain mail, and 4 small magical shields. All the items end up in their handy-dandy Bag of Holding.
They next proceed to the fourth hallway. As they round a corner, they come up on a large, stone-skinned snake creature. It attacks immediately, and the group finds themselves slowly forced back through the hallway, as their attacks fail to penetrate the creature's thick skin. Silver's cooshee is severely injured, and limps from the battle as Silver holds the creature at bay. With few other options, Silver tries out a spell he recently researched, and everyone hastily clears the way.
He casts his spell, and stands nearly motionless as a powerful electric charge builds up around him. The creature attacks, and strikes him hard, but is quickly thrown back from a sudden blast of electric energy that explodes in a ring around him. The creature rears up in pain, and Nataya looses an arrow into the gaping maw of the beast (its only vulnerable spot). The arrow penetrates straight to the creature's brain, killing it instantly.
The party nurses its wounds, and enters the room at the end of the hallway. It turns out to be the chapel area, and scattered on the floor are the remains of eight dwarven warriors. On one of the walls is an inscription written in the dwarven tongue, apparently burnt into the stone. Theranion uses his skill with languages, and reads the passage aloud to the group.
"Children of Earth, for your insults to Belesaria, my beloved, your axes shall be blunted and your crops shall wither. All living things shall flee my unhallowed might. In seven days, I shall tear down your halls, and leave no stone standing.
Signed, Colderan the Mage-Lord"
Signs of the long-ago battle are evident in this room. Most of the area is partially scorched, and the skeletal remains have melted pieces of metal scattered about them. Only one sword remains, still clutched in the hand of one of the fallen warriors. Theranion carefully pries it loose from its wielder's grasp, and examines it thoroughly. As he studies the sword, Nataya begins the careful process of collecting the remains, wrapping each in a properly blessed, pure white linen cloth.
Silver manages to push the dead creature's body away from the wall, and finds a tunnel barely large enough to crawl through. He comes upon the creature's lair, where he finds a small pile of coins (worth a few hundred gold pieces total), and a nest of stone-textured eggs. As Silver contemplates the eggs' worth, Theranion cleans off a hundred years of dirt and grime from the sword to reveal dwarven runes engraved into the blade. The runes spell out the name "Olar", which roughly translated from the dwarven tongue means "Mage-killer"...
The group rests for an hour or so in the dwarven chapel before continuing their exploration of the dwarven outpost. Though they have the warriors' remains and the sword they were searching for, they are curious as to what other treasures (and dangers) lay unclaimed in other parts of the outpost. Zendril takes the lead, and begins searching the last unexplored corridor. It ends in a set of plain steel doors, which open easily.
Six large fire beetles leap out at Zendril as he steps into the room. He quickly fends them off, receiving only a minor burn from one of their bites. Inside is a large room with racks of rusted mining equipment, and the other end of the room contains a large square mine shaft leading straight down. There once was a winch and pulley system which was used to move a cargo lift up and down the shaft, but the machinery is no longer usable.
With no other way to go but down, Zendril uses his extensive climbing skills to climb down the shaft, testing its depth. The shaft continues down 100 feet to a small mine below, lined with natural ledges about 1 to 2 inches wide. Before Nataya and Theranion can pull out their lengths of rope to climb down, Silver makes a daring (although naive) attempt to climb down the rough sides of the shaft unaided.
He gets no more than a few inches down before he loses his footing. Theranion sees him start to slip, and makes a desperate grab for his Rope of Entanglement. In his haste, however, he fumbles the rope and entangles himself instead of Silver's outstretched arm. A second later, and Silver plunges down the shaft, unable to reach the sides to grab onto one of the tiny ledges. The sounds of a loud thud and snapping of bones is heard coming from somewhere down the shaft, followed by the voice of Zendril, uttering shouts of shock and surprise.
By the time Nataya and Theranion rappel down to the bottom of the shaft, the grim reality sinks in; Silver died on impact, and Nataya's attempts to heal him are in vain. The group at first makes preparations to hoist Silver's body up out of the shaft, and find a healer capable of resurrecting him. As they remove his equipment, however, they come across a parchment written in his handwriting. It is a simple will (of sorts), stating plainly that a resurrection should not be performed in the event of his death.
Respecting his wishes, Zendril and Theranion look on as Nataya performs a simple funeral service and buries him with his personal items. After the burial, they begin climbing back up the shaft. Nataya next has the task of calming Silver's cooshee, Rage, who is anxiously awaiting its master's return. There are a few sad moments while Nataya tries to comfort the Cooshee, knowing full well the animal can sense its master isn't coming back.
They next distribute his remaining items amongst themselves, as they were the closest thing he had to a family. Theranion sits down with Silver's spellbook, carefully copying into his own book the spell that Silver recently created, but never named. As Theranion finishes the transcription, he names the spell "Silver's Shockwave", in remembrance of his fellow spell caster. Eventually, the group exits the dwarven outpost, and collects Silver's two war hounds and mule before heading back to their keep...
Upon arriving back at the keep, they meet a young warrior standing at the outer gate while dozens of dwarven workers mill about the area. The warrior introduces himself as Roc, a fighter from the outlying areas of Sembia. His life up to this point has been spent raiding the Sembian merchants, who in their greed, drove his people from their lands and left them impoverished. However, when he heard about the recent exploits of the "Heroes of Dagger Falls", he traveled to the area with the hopes of joining the adventuring group.
The group is still mourning the loss of their friend, and they are rather reluctant to "replace" him so soon. However, they still have a mission to complete, and could use the extra help. They offer him the chance to tag along for this mission, both to prove himself and to see how well he can get along with the other members.
After a night's rest, the group heads for Dagger Falls. They first do a little shopping around town to unload their recent treasure finds and restock their supplies, then head to Randal's headquarters. Upon meeting with Randal, Zendril explains to him the events of recent days, including the loss of Silver and the dwarves' terms for a truce between them and the House of Morn.
Randal and the group leave for the Tethyamar mines the next morning. When they arrive at the entrance to the dwarven settlement, they are met by two guards, who bristle at the presence of Randal. Only the reputation of the group and Theranion's mood-softening skills defuse the situation so they can enter the stronghold beneath.
Once inside, they are quickly escorted to the leader's hall, passing dwarf citizens who stare in disgust and barely contained outrage at having the grandson of Colduran Morn in their midst. They are brought before Mordran, where Randal presents the remains of the dwarven warriors, carefully wrapped and prepared by Nataya, for burial as dictated by dwarven custom. Theranion then presents Mordran with the sword "Mage-killer", fulfilling all of the conditions for Randal's penance.
Mordran is both pleased and surprised. While he expected the group to return with the bodies and the sword, he did not expect Randal to so readily accompany them back here. Also, he was very impressed that the group went to the trouble of observing dwarven burial rites before returning the bodies to the kingdom of the dwarves. Mordran gives the group his heartfelt thanks, then convenes a private meeting with Randal.
While Randal and Mordran discuss the end of the feud and the possibility of renewed trade, the group explores the dwarven community. Theranion heads straight for the smithy with a list of materials and work orders to spruce up his library, while Nataya and Zendril split up for a little site-seeing to pass the time. Roc stays just outside the clan leader's hall, ready for trouble if the talks do not go smoothly.
Theranion dumps almost half of his accumulated treasure into ordering special materials and custom work for his library. The work includes the construction of engraved solid oak doors, using the strongest metals for the hinges and locks, and inlays of gold and silver ornamentation. Other work includes special lamp sconces, tables, and chairs for the library.
When Randal finally emerges from the meeting with Mordran, he has a tired but relieved look on his face. The talks have gone well, and Mordran has agreed to re-open trade between the dwarves of Tethyamar and Dagger Falls. He also makes arrangements to deliver the warriors' remains to the families of the Bladebright clan, along with statements declaring an amicable end to the feud...