Chapter 23 Synopsis
Thélor gives his guards the slip and travels to the headquarters of Mîra’s crew, only to find it the site of a recent battle. It has been burned and inside corpses of his former companions. Fortunately, he doesn’t find Mîra’s body among them. Hearing someone coming, Thélor hides and spies on three strange Dwarves. He recognizes them as the Blacklock clan, who are well-known as mercenaries. They discuss Mîra, saying that “he” is keeping her alive because she interests him.
Thélor tails the Dwarves as they venture deep into the Orc-controlled portions of Nurunkhizdín. He soon reaches an encampment of Blacklocks and can go no further without being seen. Minutes later, there is a tremendous blast. The Blacklocks are working with the Orcs to uncover the Bilak-Khald!
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Thélor departs Nurunkhizdín on his Elf-trained steed to meet with Azagri and Brogan. He arrives the same night they do. After debating his options, Thélor has decided to assault the Uruk Marzguram. This will prove to the Ironfist people that not an occupying army, as King Borin claims. It takes some princely convincing, but eventually Attack-lord Bwalin agrees to this plan. The next morning, the army of Khazad-dûm marches on the northern gate hall of Nurunkidzin, long occupied by the forces of darkness.
The vanguard of the assault force arrives at the gates first, with the bulk of the army trailing one day behind them. Thélor’s plan is to appear as a reinforcement of Blacklock Dwarves. To this end, the Dwarves have stained their beards with grease. They are challenged when they approach the gate. However, Azagri manages to deceive the Orc chieftain and they are admitted inside the gate hall to await the arrival of Attack-lord Bwalin and the remainder of the host.
Once inside, they realize how outnumbered they are. The battle to hold the gate will be difficult and deadly. When Bwalin and the host of 6,000 Dwarves finally comes within sight, Thélor gives the signal and the assault begins. They quickly kill the Trolls controlling the gate and manage to open it. However, they must survive wave after wave of Uruk Marzguram.
The battle lasts for hours, but Prince Thélor and Thegn Azagri persevere with many heroic deeds. Finally, as the sun rises over the frosted plains of Rhûn, Bwalin and the host of Khazad-dûm smashes into the Orcs. Panicking, the Uruk Marzguram retreat deep into the caves. The northern gate hall is theirs!