Reuniting with Grug and Eldrathia on the lowest level of the holdfast, Thorgrim, Caen Rysmourne, and Wu, nursed back to health with the judicious application of healing berries, are joined in their quest to clean out the old dwarven halls by Draxis, an elven warrior who was taken prisoner by the gnoll clans. Though he refuses to say anything about his captivity, Draxis seems somewhat unharmed, though perhaps mentally scarred from his experiences.
The heroes set out, exploring the lowest level of the stronghold, looking thorugh crates, finding nicely aged dwarven wine, and also finding a few documents and plans as well. (Was that a mortgaged deed for Marvin Gardens in there?? Anyway—)
Exploring the upper levels of the keep, they found a massive theater/area, complete with stage and trap door. Underneath they found cages containing the remnants of fantastic creatures. They also noticed runes carved into the side of the stage, possibly a force shield to contain the stage. This level was lush, plush, and luxurious, gone were the main traces of gnolls, gone was the dust and cobwebs and mildew smell. Here was the level of lords, high clerics, and those in authority.
On the uppermost level of the keep, they discovered the religious temples. There were two halls of heroes, statues of military, magical, and divine warriors. Some displaying representations of weapons. Later they found the crypts of some heroes with words indicating that heroes could take the weapons to fight the oncoming storm, a time of returning evil.
Speaking of evil, the heroes blundered into the main temple and picked up two glowing blue gems, larger than dwarven skulls, set on anvils of the dwarven god before two statues depicting dwarves with swords (not axes or hammers), a traditional image of blood traitors. Suddenly they stopped glowing and the reflection pool in front of the watchful eye of the dwarven gods suddenly shot water up, showing a large reptilian eye popping open, it’s iris contracting and seeming to stare at the heroes who removed the gems. The image shifted to display a clutch of serpentine creatures with what appeared to be humans awakening next to them. The humans climbed on top of the creatures, and one man looked directly into the scrye pool’s image and seemed to project some kind of energy, which then disrupted the pool’s water, splashing all in the temple, and causing some kind of electrical damage. The two statues of the dwarven traitors also had disappeared. Um, oops.
Later, the heroes, exploring the last of the keep, found that a tunnel, apparently some entrance to the eastern side of the keep, had caved in. While examining the area, Eldrathia and Wu noticed some kind of movement, a piece of armored plating, moving apparently on the ground. Alerting their friends, the party turned to face a bulette, the legendary “land shark”—a fearsome predator who moves through the earth like a shark through water. The bulette burst into the chamber, knocking the party over, jumping in the air and wounding several of the heroes. However, through sound tactics, Caen’s efficient use of alchemical fire and some of the aged wine, Wu’s using several ki points, to damage the aberration, Grug’s barbarian fury and animal rage, and the others taking pop shots here and there, the beast was dispatched as it tried to burrow into the ground, retreating from a group of superior foes.
The party met up with Artan and the dwarven children and returned to Arranoon with little event, except noticing that where there was previously a rock slide, the way had been cleared.
Upon reaching Arranoon, the party met Thorgrim’s old commander, who informed him that the old clans had been called and soon there would be six hundred of their old clans coming to repopulate the dwarven keep.