On August 4th, Year 4, a pair of Citadel House adventurers answer the invitation of the gnomes of Slighe Domhainn to join them gaining access to a dwarven stronghold of yore nearby. They are:
- Verdis (HuS): Level 9 Human Fighter
- Phineas, Talking Rock Companion
- Q (TrS): Level 1 Human Thief
Expecting Slighe Domhainn to be about 3 days of forced march from Citadel, they take 8 days of food each. The journey to Slighe Domhainn takes them to Rathad Oidiche on the evening of the 5th, where they pay for a room and sleep in a small but comfortable bed to recover from their walk.
They set out early again the next day, , following the gnomish road through sparse villages surrounded by fields, many already in harvest. Though mountains surround their way, the day is the hottest they have experienced and they are forced to take frequent rests and refill their water skins. At one point, the road diverges from the river, but the local gnomes assure them that it joins up with another river within and hour or so. By evening of Wednesday the 6th, they arrive in Slighe Domhainn and seek out an inn.
The innkeeper has heard rumors of the tall, fair folk who brought elves and dwarves back into the land and who broke the siege at Rathad Oidhche. She eagerly greets them and they learn that the mayor of the town, a gnome named Dargos, is the one to talk to about the gnomish team they are meant to join. They are about to leave when she informs them that the town hall will be closed at the late hour and they might as well take a room for the night. They accept.
In the morning, Thursday, they go to the town hall and meet Dargos, who eagerly introduces them to his team: two of his magic students, two of his Cogaidh (knights), their squires, 4 men-at-arms, and 2 guides who know the area. With the stronghold only 4 hours away, they agree to set out immediately and get to work. It is hotter even than the day before and a little before noon, they fill up their water skins one last time before leaving the river (which enters a slot canyon).
By noon, they can see the empty village as they round a hill. The gnomes inform them that the areas near the stronghold and sometimes even the village are occupied by chlaymids: fierce lizard creatures that have powers of fire. The gnomes invite the adventurers to scout out the village before they enter in force. Verdis and Q acquiesce, sneaking into the village and soon becoming aware of a handful of chlaymids following them. They set an ambush that doesn’t go as planned and manage to kill them all, but draw attention to themselves. Soon a dozen chlaymids have them flanked in an alley and Q goes down. Verdis enters a blade dance, cutting down 4 and then pushing them back. He slays a few more before the rest retreat. He heals Q and they return unmolested to the gnomes, who they inform of the chlaymid presence.
They all proceed through the village together, Verdis collecting about 6 pounds of Chlaymid dung along the way. The chlaymids don’t bother them and they arrive at the bridge before the fortress without trouble. The gnomes are alarmed to see the red, trickling river, declaring it undrinkable. They’ve never seen it so bad and fear they won’t be able to remain in the area without water resupply. Verdis attempts to fill is water purifying skin with the water and it burns away in the acidic water as he quickly pulls it out. One of the gnomes magically repairs it for him, for which he is very grateful. Knowing that without more water they will have to withdraw before the end of the day, they start to investigate the mighty door (20 feet wide and 30 feet tall) and the redstone cliffs with a tower on each side.
The gnomes believe that many of the chlaymids live inside the fortress, and so must have a way in. With no sign of an entrance near the north tower, Q and Verdis turn to the south tower, where they find a defunct road leading down the slope. Q stealthily follows it, finding that it leads to a series of steaming pools where many chlaymids are clustered. He can’t get close enough to the source unseen by the chlaymids to get a good look, but the hot spring seems to flow out from the cliff wall.
They return to the north tower, where Q attempts to climb the 70’ cliff face, managing to reach the gentler slope at the top and make it to the tower’s base. He skirts its base to the back side and, after a rest, climbs another 30 feet to the top of the tower. On the top of the tower, he manages to break open a metal hatch and climb down inside. The top level is a circular room with a stone pilar at the center and arrow slits all around. Descending the next 10 levels of the tower (all of arched stone, both carved and brick), Q finds the them equally divided between bunks and outward facing arrow slit rooms, with roughly 24 bunks for each 6 arrow slits (which he finds unusual). In the bunk rooms he searches hundreds of footlockers, finding only journals and other small trinkets. He finds the bottom floor partitioned with wooden fences.
Picking the lock to the door, Q creeps out into a massive, hot cavern lit with sunlight from an opening at the top of the cavern. The cavern is starting to darken as the afternoon light shines onto the back wall of the cavern and he sees mostly shadows. An eerie whistling sound fills the cavern. He searches a large building, finding a seal, some other trinkets, and some stores of iron and copper ore. He approaches some small, squat buildings and finds a raging furnace in one and dormant furnaces in others. Chlaymids gather near a pit beyond these buildings where the heat is even more intense.
The heat continues to sap Q’s energy and he withdraws to the large door he now sees, assuming it to be outer door. Voices under the door confirm his suspicions and he looks for a way to open it. He finds it barred, with what look like chain harnesses for mules to pull the doors open. Finding he has nowhere near enough strength to lift the heavy iron bar, and concerned he could collapse any moment, he breaks into the other tower, locks the door behind him, and slowly makes his way up to the top.
He arrives just before Verdis is about to start climbing in after him, since the gnomes are anxious to leave before dark and the sun is already setting. Q doubts he had the strength to descend safely, and suggests they go make camp by the river and he will sleep in the tower (which the Chlaymids have seemingly not yet accessed). In the morning, he will descend and escape the area. Verdis offers to return and accompany him out in the morning.
The plan works, with Q feeling much recovered when dawn comes. He safely descends and withdraws with Verdis. The day is oppressively hot (hotter still than the day before) and Q still needs time to recover from his near death experience, so they return to Slighe Domhainn and report to Dargos, who says he maybe be able to contact Matthias to send additional people. They stay through Sunday while Q recuperates. Things start to cool a little over the weekend.