Fraín and Gaderian headed to the port to find caravaners with experience travelling to Khazad-dum. They joined with a Cardolan ranger, Anárion, coming in with a vetting from the Guild. Fraín interviewed the merchant, and learned more about the dwarven city. Meanwhile, a clearly bored Gaderian decided to swipe his empty beer for a full pint from the table of a few off duty city guards. The reasons: “because stolen beer tastes better”.
They decided to enter Khazad-dum with minimal inventory, yet claiming to be merchants. To do this, they rented an old mule called “Oliphaunt” and loaded her up with four barrel of ale. They piled a bit more equipment such as climbing rope, rope ladder and a 10’ ladder on the animal. The plan being to cross the old city once to scout the place, then come back better prepared after a visit to the elves of Loríen.
The following morning, a dwarf, an Umbar, a Cardolan ranger, a Gondorian pickpocket, and Oliphaunt the pack-mule left Tharbad. The country unraveled from marshes to rolling hills as they set out camp in the ruins of Ost-i-edhil. The night was cold, but they kept a round the clock watch though the darkest hours. On the following day, they followed the river as it crept up to the foothills of the Misty Mountains. Elestirne and Fraín spotted Durin’s tower, and the towers of the West-Gate in the distance. Reaching the wall, they encountered a group of dwarves from the Weapon’s host. The exchange was cold, but the soldiers eagerly purchased a barrel of ale from the travelers. As they climbed the wall via a winding road, more soldiers could be seen in the valley. By the end of the afternoon, they made it to the West-gate where a dwarven lot and a tax collector were processing merchants.
Gaderian realized how much he disliked the Khazad-dum dwarves during that exchange. However, Fraín became infatuated with the noble blood of his brethren. They paid a stiff tax to pass through the gate, and made their way into the dark dwarven road. Frain and Elestirne adjusted to the darkness quickly, but Gaderian and Anárion had to hold on to Oli to keep a steady and straight walk in the deep darkness of the fortress.
The Geode Cathedral
In the early evening, the party arrived in a hall where dwarves were celebrating the return of heroes. They had brought back as loot the body of a water drake. The carcass of the drake, all 7m in length, was a laying on the ground. The hall was so tall that only the glitter of the crystal covering its walls could be seen. From the adjoining cathedral, a group of dwarves gathered and the master singer began. The echos in the circular room enthralled the congregants. Fraín was smitten, and cried quietly while the song unraveled.
Meanwhile, Elestirne started to prowl around the crowd, looking for an opening. She snatched the purse of an older dwarf that was full-throated singing along with the crowd. She slipped the purse under her coat, and walked back to Oliphaunt. Gaderian watched the theft, surprised by the Gondorian's behaviour. Fraín fraternized with a dwarf woman after the ceremony, he had been blessed by the congregants and felt a certain sense of empowerment. The dwarf told him that his family was a clan underneath the Duke of Knee (No relation to the Knights who say Ni!). Elestirne, clutching her new purse, rushed the group away from the Cathedral and back on the dwarven road.
Entering the scar
About by the time that the group started to feel sleepy, they arrived in the famous Roín’s scar. A sprawling cave complex crossed via four massive bridges. The guard at the gate of the first bridge warned the traveller to minimize noise and light so as to not attract Echo Hawks. The guard regained the safety of the guard house, leaving the travelers in deep darkness, and deafening silence.
Some 20m ahead, the bridge connected to a tunnel carved into a large pillar. The travelers were weary and tired, pondering whether stopping for a rest or pushing forward into the dangerous darkness.