The party had just started to catch their breath after the tiring battle whith the duergar, when they started to hear a low rumble. The noise grew steadily louder until the mines erupted with hordes of duergar. The last words of the lieutenant echoed in Solvi’s memory, “All Hands”. Janiira launched a few fireballs, into the sea of dwarves, roasting many but not stopping the onslaught.
Our heroes tactically withdrew into the barracks to funnel their enemies. They setup their defenses in the stairway and waited as the sound of pickaxes chipping at the door filled the hall. A great crash was heard upstairs as duergar breached the second floor. Theia and Alton split off to battle them. That wave of dwarves was dealt with quickly. Alton warned the others of more trying to climb up ladders while Theia pushed some of them over. Aldo and Solvi rush to assist their comrades, Solvi told Janiira to launch another fireball to signal that the door was breached and then run to them.
When the front door finally gave way, Janiira threw her fireball at the advancing miners and retreated upstairs, to her protection. The dwarves began to throw flaming bottles at the party. They had managed to set the first floor on fire and smoke rolled out of a nearby window as more bottles smashed on the fort walls. The battle was paused breifly allowing the party to escape over the parapet using the ropes left from the previous battle, unnoticed in the chaos.
The party make haste and flee quickly from the fort. They decided to try going the other direction and made substantial progress. Thier current path was illuminated by a lava lake that was just close enough to make travelling uncomfortable. As they travelled, the path became narrower until they were walking with their backs up against the wall of the cave. They were elated when they stumbled apon a cave with sitting water in it. As they began to question if they should fill up their water skins with the water, Solvi, who was now able to think of something other then the army that might still be following them, brought up his devine water spell and began to fill everyones waterskins. With fresh water for the first time in a while the party sat down and tried to rest near the cave entrance, this was quickly interrupted by what looked like a scouting party.
They retreated down the tunnel until it split, where they camped for a while choosing to douse their lights and sit in darkness. The scout party was by another force and had started marching their way. The count of the duergar was eight warriors, including a larger bald dwarf who seemed to be the leader. The party retreated further into the tunnel network following the wall until they reached another branch. It lead to a dead end, where our heroes took refuge and hid as a detachment of duergar scouted that tunnel.
They managed to stay out of sight, hiding behind some rubble. The duergar took notice of some odd whistlling, following it down another side tunnel. The party stayed put until a distant scream was heard from that tunnel. Survival outweighed curiousity as the party remained hidden and rested here, their first full uninterrupted rest for a while.
Their rest was disturbed by the strange whistling again during first watch. Unlike before, the whistling seemed to grow louder. They hid and waited for several minutes and were relieved when the strange dwarf from before appeared out of the darkness. He stopped to chide the party for not leaving, and called them fools for staying in the fort. As he walked away from them, heading the way they had come, Aldo shouted after him “How do we get out of here?”
Without stopping or turning the mysterious dwarf shouted back, “You’ll have to sneak through Svittlehelm. Follow the tracks. Oh and, Watch your step!” The last part was followed by boisterous laughter as he disappeared in the distance.
The party prepared for travel and followed the footprints from the duergar army they had hid from. After some miles, the footprints lead the party to a great pit, spanning the tunnel. At the bottom were several spikes impaling four duergar. Aldo eagerly climbed down and looted the still warm bodies. He returned to the party with his little treasure and they vaulted the pit.
At the end of the corridor a set of rails laid before them. At this point it was uncertain whether the dwarf meant tracks from footprints or for railcarts. They figured he meant railcarts, much to Solvi’s displeasure, and followed the tracks until they came to a “Y” intersection, of which they were approaching from the right branch. They found a crude signpost here in dwarven. Solvi read it quickly, doscovering the left branch led to a platinum mine, the right branch led to an iron mine, and the main branch led to Svittlehelm. There was some arguement here as to whether the party should escape or plunder the mines. Aldo won and Solvi led the way to Svittlehelm, all the while fighting the urge to take some liberty with the translation and go to the platinum mine anyway.
They travelled down a crude side tunnel. Solvi thought he heard a screech but paid it no mind thinking if he heard then everyone else had heard it. After it was heard a second time and everybody asked what it was did Solvi tell them that he had heard it moments earlier. They went down a branch in the crude tunnle and discovered a giant cave lizard, which Theia identified, with a large chunk taken from its side. It would surely die if its wound wasn’t treated shortly. After cautiously approaching it, the party decided, against Theias arguements, to let it die in peace. “What if the thing that attacked it comes back to finish the job and find us.” Solvi stated. With images of frightful deaths in their minds, the party headed back to the rails.
Hours later, with no further interuptions, they arrived at Svittlehelm. They paused near the entrance to plan their next move. From their vantage point, they could see the railway continue down into a great basin. A large round tower in the dead center of the basin seemed to draw everything toward it. The walls of this perfectly round cavern were carved in relief with images of ancient gods. The doorways were engraved with enigmatic runes on stunning arches. They guessed the spherical city had a radius of about a thousand feet, with the monolithic tower in the dead center. It was an architectural marvel. Even Solvi admired the craftsmanship of his foes, a pity he would have to kill them all.
Suddenly, an explosion was heard. A huge gout of flame was seen bellowing out of an upper window of an outer watch tower. Duergar warriors nearby scrambled on the ground level. A scene of utter chaos ensued. The party mused that Balvilli must have beaten them here. They waited several minutes to see what happened.
The sound of plodding feet could be heard behind them. They hid and waited to ambush what ever was coming. A train of railcarts came down the tracks, pulled by two giant cave lizards. It was being driven by an unarmored duergar, but had four warriors guarding him. The crew ambushed the group, an arrow killed the driver where he sat. The rest of the warriors were taken down with ease, and the party uncovered the load.
They discovered unrefined, unidentified ore. They devised a plan to sneak into the tower using the ore carts as cover and Solvi as the driver. They dumped the load, Alton picked up a cut gem as it tumbled out of the cart and quickly pocketed it. The party hid themselves in the mine carts while Solvi donned the drivers cloak. He struggled with the stubborn lizards before finally getting them to move forward.
They were stopped at an outstation, and a gruff duergar said something to Solvi in a lunguage he didn’t understand. Solvi was stunned, he, and the rest of the party, were expecting dwarven. Solvi doesn’t know what to say, which seemed to piss off the duergar and draw the attention of other duergar nearby. They were discovered. They engaged in combat, and defeated the nearest duergar before running to the opposite side of the city. They passed through an open arch and down the long tunnel. It led them to dead end with a strange door in a small room.
The door took up half the wall it was centered on. A large six branched device was mounted in the center of the door. On each branch was a different rune. Next to the door were two chains with large rings at their ends and a lever in a centered position. Below the lever were the same runes found on the door, seemingly divided randomly between left, center, and right. They examined the door further and fiddled with it a little. They discovered that when one chain was pulled the branches on the door would spin and land on a random rune.
They tried going back the way they came to find the dwarves had sealed the portal. The only way out was now figuring out the door mechanism. They went back to the door. Janiira used comprehend language to read the runes at the top of the door. “By the divine providence of Laduguer, enemies of Duergar shall not pass,” she repeated back to the others. Another arguement about whether Laduguer was a god, a man, or a mangod ensued.
They eventually discovered the door needed a large key which was needed to release the activator chain. Aldo was able to pick the lock and the chain was freed, it was pulled. But not before Theia and Solvi backed off about fourty feet. The stone dial read a rune that resembled two lines pointed at the top. The lever was in the left-most position, where the same rune could be seen beneath the lever.
At first nothing happened, but then Aldo noticed the fine stonework of the door getting slick and discolored. Then a thick vile smelling pool began to form from the ooze seeping from the stone. Alton lept back when the ooze burned his bare feet as is slowly began to fill the room. It writhed and squirmed as it grew. The grim visage of screaming faces occasionally bubbled to the surface. It lashed out and grabbed Aldo and Janiira. Aldo struggled to free himself, but freed himself with Altons help. The two tried to help Janiira, but the oozes smoldering pseudopod burned painfully as it pulled Janiira toward it and she collapsed from the pain. Regretfully, they made the decision to leave Janiira to die.
They made their way back to the sealed door, grabbed the picks they had grabbed earlier, and started chipping away futilely at the sealed portal. The party was out of ideas, morale sundered by the death of another comrade. They picked their way to exhaustion and drove the plaguing thoughts from their mind, for now…