The heroes (suddenly without Grug or Eldrathia, but suddenly with Caen who was “magically transformed” from Kahtep-he was separately contracted to explore this fortress by the dwarf, yeah, that’s it-stinks when people can’t make it, ya know? but we all have lives…) find themselves breaking camp in the audience hall of the dwarven stronghold. Exploring further, they find a few rooms of statues and shrines desecrated by the gnolls. They also found a lush waiting room from which they could spy on the main audience hall as well as a few secret doors, one which led to the lowest level of the complex.
On this lowest level the heroes found the complex’s engineer’s main office and chambers. There Caen dodged a trapped cabinet in which he found a massive scroll case containing the engineer’s plans for the fortress as well as detailing the mechanism for raising and lowering the colossal bridge leading into the fortress across the lake. The group also found some well aged wine and beer, excellent dwarven stock.
Exploring further on the lowest level, the heroes found a bridge across the underground river. There a massive chuul, a horror mixing the worst of lobster, snake, and insect. Wu took a horrible hit, and the chuul curled him up into his tentacles, paralyzing and crushing him, nearly squeezing out his life. Caen used his vanisher cloak to gain an advantage on the monster (though some lousy attacks somewhat tempered this advantage). Thorgrim’s animal companion, Cat, sprang to the attack only to be almost killed by the aberration. Eventually through solid, diligent attacks, the heroes wore down and killed the chuul whose carcass fell into the river. They saved Wu, barely.
Thorgrim rushed to Cat’s aid, managing to stabilize the great feline. The party found a small nest of bones on a ledge near the bridge. In it they found some gold and trinkets and Thorgrim found a bag, which turned out to be a gray bag of tricks, a delight to the ranger.
The party decided to return to the engineer’s quarters and make camp. Caen improvised a kind of low tech early alarm—metal bands and debris from the storeroom in the hall and then tended to Wu as best he could. As they bunked down, and late into the night, Thorgrim studied the plans for the holdfast, dreaming of reclaiming this fortress and founding his own clan who would once again fill its halls.