Chapter 16 Synopsis
Prince Thélor and his trusted friend and bodyguard Azagri escape the hellish depths of the Under-deeps and the Old Road to be greeted by the freezing bosom of the Misty Mountains amidst a blizzard. Ill-prepared to face the cold after stripping down to avoid being cooked the Dwarves needed to find shelter quickly to get some much needed rest in the fresh air. Azagri deftly got them to the foot of the mountains where the rocky terrain met the borders of the Lothlórien forest. They dared stray within the borders of the forest hoping to escape the biting wind and find a nice spot to rest.
A ways into the second watch Thélor began to feel the nagging sense of impending danger that had recently started to proceed attacks. Nonchalantly, Thélor attempted to wake Azagri who was sound asleep.
“Something is wrong.” – Prince Thélor
“No shit…” -Azagri
Almost on cue, an arrow pierced the quiet air and buried itself in a tree inches from Thélor’s face. Azagri, hearing the arrow strike sat up immediately with hands in the air shouting “Mell-on! Mell-on!”, Sindarin for “Friend” a tid-bit he fortunately had picked up along their journeys. They were greeted only with silence for a few minutes and then a troupe of elven sentinels descended to the forest floor and approached the pair of Dwarves. They are obviously not of the long-beard clans in the area and the Elves inquire if they are the Ironfist Dwarves that have been gallivanting around the countryside helping hobbits and Elves alike. Thélor and Azagri and much relieved that their reputation has preceded them and the Elves invite them deeper in the forest to make camp and eat.
There is talking and singing to be had by all and most importantly, Elven ale! The Elves inform the duo that Glade Lord Sulor is seeking them out and needs to speak with them. Thélor says he hopes they can head back that way at some point, but that pressing matters will be taking them east. They also ask if word can be sent to Rivendell to inquire about Ganoveth and his recovery. Thélor also asked to speak with the Lady of the Wood. He wants to inform her of what they have found beneath the mountain and the Elves say they will pass the request along.
Rested and well fed, the Dwarves set out to return to Khazad-dûm . A path through the mountains is the quickest road but calamity is nearly met when Thélor slips on a snow covered tree bridging a great chasm. Thélor makes it out alive but at the cost of his climbing gear.
Upon returning to Khazad-dûm, Durgan is eagerly anticipating making his next move in uncovering the plot that claimed his families lives and dishonored their names. He will need the Prince’s help to proceed but first things first – an audience with the king. Azagri reluctantly waits outside keeping an eye on ‘Firestarter’ as King Bain has forbade weapons in his sanctum after the plot to dethrone him by Falin was discovered by Thélor and daftly exposed by Azagri. Azagri doesn’t always uncover plots of regicide and civil war, but when he does, he makes sure the King’s men are the one who find the information so it is uncontested.
The King Under the Mountain is taken back by the dark tidings brought to him. There has been no word from Failin and his mean and they are assumed lost in action. Thélor learns that Failin is in disgrace and there is no one to claim stewardship of his house and offers the role to Thélor after he explains how Failin and his men died heroically like true Dwarves. The king also decided to grant boons to Thélor and his companions for their service to Khazad-dûm, but refuses to tell the populace of the Balrog. He instead plans to find a way in secret to contain the ancient demon.
Before parting ways Azagri cannot help but drop hints about his amazing find and when Durgan inquires as to the nature of it Azagri shows him the mithril sword he recovered in the Underdeeps.
“I will let you look at it, but if you go crazy and try to take it… I will have to kill you.” -Azagri
Durgan examines the blade and is stupefied by its amazing quality. Thélor, now rested, takes a closer look and estimates its value at 300-400 gold crowns, and that’s for the craftsmanship and materials alone not saying anything to the fact that he suspects it may also hold some intangible power. Durgan tells Azagri that if he shows this to the Elves, they will expect him to give it to them. If he does, he will be rewarded greatly, but if he refuses, one day he will awake and find the blade gone and nothing given in return. Azagri is aghast that the Elves would do such a thing. Thélor points out that they do the same with Dwarven artifacts. Azagri tried to disagree but knows it is the truth. He goes off to celebrate and leaves Thélor and Durgan to pursue his leads.
Returning to the Oakenheart forge Thélor and Durgan manage to convince the forgemaster that there is great wealth to be invested in a guild working on innovative technology. After enough prodding and the promise of great personal wealth to be gained the forgemaster takes them to a secret room. Within lies a large prototype device similar to what Durgan’s father had created. Durgan is barely able to contain his fury as the forge-master describes what a great invention it will be and how only the collective genius of the guild leaders could conceive of such a thing.
“The ‘greatest’ minds in Khazad-dûm and they still can’t figure it out…” – Durgan Irongate
Amidst the technical drawings, Durgan notices one penned in his father’s hand. One he had often seen in his father’s workshop but this one was fresh… somehow a perfect copy. Durgan pushed for more information and asked about which guild wore the Starburst and Anvil insignia. The forgemaster was visibly taken back by this and quickly ushered them out. Having obviously over stepped his bounds, Durgan was eager to try to put a stop to this treachery but Thélor convinced him they didn’t have enough evidence and that to push now would end in folly. Discouraged, he agreed. Durgan was unsure how to proceed.
That night while sleeping, Durgan was again visited by his deceased wife. Through her he learned that she did not reach the halls of Mahal. That there was only darkness except once a year when the guild masters summoned her spirit and that of his father’s to interrogate them about his technology. Always in the same place; a circular room of marble with a glowing green gem in the ceiling encased in iron and a sunburst and anvil insignia upon the floor. Durgan had to find where this meeting was taking place and put an end to it once and for all!
Thélor woke to find Durgan full of fervor. They spent the better part of the day traversing Khazad-dûm trying to seek out a way to track down the guild master’s meeting. Durgan even risked his true identity to old friends he believed would keep his secret. The attempt bore fruit and Durgan came upon an old artificer who had fallen out of favor and his clan mysteriously died off. Durgan learned this man had been asked to figure out how to work a device of Melkor and that he discovered it would tether souls to Arda that they might still be communicated with. He refused to teach the technology and that was why the guild masters ruined him. Durgan declared if the location of the meeting was told to him, he would destroy the device. The artificer agreed to construct a bomb to aid in the effort.
One obstacle yet remained on Durgan’s path of clearing his name – telling the King. He would have to risk everything, even the potential of being executed on the spot, but he had the information he needed. Thélor agreed to ask the King to grant Durgan an audience after the royal dinner that night.
Azagri took full advantage of the feast and drink and serving maids that night. But Thélor was taken off guard when the time came for his trusted friend and bodyguard to request his boon. Thélor was expecting a list the length of ten Dwarves! Instead Azagri requested moderate coin for their travels and the title of Thane in Khazad-dûm . Thélor was perplexed by this as Azagri had never made mention of seeking noble entitlement… ever.
King Bain granted the private audience after the meal and Durgan was ushered in. The Queen also attended, her even temperance a welcome addition for Durgan. Under close scrutiny the King quickly recognized an oath-breaker he had judged and was furious with Thélor for bringing such a dwarf before him. Thélor protested his believe in Durgan’s innocence, and he was allowed to speak. Durgan unfurled the tale of his families betrayal and dishonor. He concluded by having a guard bring his shield, the Bulwark of Khazad-dûm into the chamber for the King to study.
The Queen expressed her belief in Durgan’s story and the King admitted that he did not see the eyes of an oath-breaker in Durgan. He would assign Bwalin and a contingent of soldiers to travel with the adventuring group to see what truths could be uncovered. This all hinged on Durgan’s acceptance that should the mission end in failure he return to face the King’s justice for returning from exile as an oath-breaker.
“I have done all that I can to clear my name and restore my families honor. I believe my journey has lead me to this. I will see the truth realized, or die in the attempt.” – Durgan Irongate