47 days to go continued
We investigated further around this forge room to see what advantage we could get. We nearly upset some strange birdlike mount beasts, but we backed away and regrouped. There were also carts on tracks we could use there, or take further into the mine. In the end the plan we ended up going with was that Flask went in past the bird things, upset them, and that drew a fire newt out towards him, and meanwhile the rest of us ran through the first entrance to the chamber and attacked from behind. It didn’t get us any great advantage in the end, but we won nevertheless – even though they spat fire at us! When we were down to the last one, it tried to run, Hugo blasted it away from the door with a wall of wind and it was pincushioned soon after.
In the next room we found an armoury of the dwarves, and we thought why not put some of this armour on my zombies? They let us do that, and they even seemed to have some muscle memory of how to hold battleaxes, which was more than I reasonably expected. Heading through to the next two adjoining rooms, we met more newts, and our kitted-out dwarves were decent meat shields for some time. Enough time, as they saved us from much hurt before they went down. But even with them down, we managed to clear the rooms. This place was where the ingots got stamped. We kept going through, after giving me a chance to find another zombie to animate and kit out.
In the next rooms, what were dormitories for the dwarves had become the filthy nests of the newts. We took those down quicksmart, and headed through to find two things. First, in front of us, a rickety chain that strung across lava to another ledge where we could go, or above us, probably through a door we had ignored earlier, a drawbridge. So we backtracked and found that drawbridge. We had to wait for the metal to cool, but once it had we walked over to find the locked doors of the dwarven treasury. There were two locks, but we dared not pick them. In a nearby room we found the boxes that used to house the keys, but the keys seemed to have been stolen. We considered forging our own keys from these boxes, but we thought it better to summon Sithi, as she would know best, and we had cleared out all areas we knew of for now.
By the time we got back in with Sithi, we had caught her up on all that happened. She was glad we hadn’t tried to make the keys ourselves as none of us had smithing skills. We all checked the area and confirmed, we had either killed all the newts, or any who survived must have escaped by swimming out via the rivers of magma.
46 days to go
Over the last 24 hours we cleared a lot of things up with Sithi’s help. The ledge we couldn’t get to had an alcove leading to a newt shrine, which the dwarves quickly dismantled. Forging new keys, Sithi was able to open the doors to the treasury and we got to see the glory of the Hrakhamar trove, including the master forger’s gauntlet that Sithi took for herself. The other mystery that was cleared up was the smoky area: exploring dwarves discovered smoke mephits there, and began the eradication process.
Sithi sat with us and we considered our plans for the immediate future. We asked if we could take the strider bird animals, which Hugo had managed to befriend. She was fine with that – they were the newts’ mounts, not the dwarves’. But we had to make up our minds: do we take those birds and run down the Valley of Lost Honour to Omu, risking the hunt of the red dragon…. or, do we go underground and strike the lair of the red dragon when it doesn’t expect it?