The dwarf told us to bring the boxes of supplies back up, then report to a dwarf named Sundrim. We sent Prestley down the rope. One by one, he tied the rope to each box, which Goldrim and Kyuskay lugged up. Before they were finished, Prestley called up and said there was someone down there who wanted to speak with us, and Goldrim and Miara should come down. They did.

We heard much quiet discussion, then the three of them came back up and told us what had happened.

Mendri is here. He came personally to beg us not to hand over his father's body to the Royalists, thus publicizing his fall into chaos. Of course, he was too late. Miara sympathizes with him, and Kyuskay seems to sympathize with the Royalists. But the crystals are the bigger problem, and a dwarven civil war is none of our business, except perhaps for Goldrim, who has yet to stake out a position. Mendri left without our help, believing that is lost for the dwarves and that civil war is certain.

I am somewhat uneasy about this, and I think Miara is, too. We were there at the roots of this, when Gadrik handed himself over to chaos to save Mendri. We are here now, at the advent of a civil war in the making since that moment. We carry the dwarven-made crystals, at least some of them, which are purely agents of chaos. In some way, we are responsible. And yet, Miara is correct: collecting all the crystals and keeping them out of the hands of the dwarves, and maybe finding a way to destroy them, is of paramount importance. All other considerations fall to the wayside. But the dwarves will pay. Of course, one could argue they brought this on themselves, since they created the damned things in the first place.

At any rate, we replaced the boxes and exited the room, finding several dwarves hanging out -- this is apparently where they have their base camp. We asked for Sundrim, and one dwarf piped up and said he'd take us to him.

We followed him upstairs, into a workshop, then he was stopped by another dwarf who asked where we were going. He explained, and the other dwarf said he'd take us from there. The first fellow was clearly a dwarven fighter, while this one seemed to be a craftsman of some sort.

He led us to the middle of a hallway and had us proceed one at a time over a portion of the floor: it was trapped and could hold only one person before it would spring. Oddly, the actual size and weight of the person did not seem to matter.

Prestley later said he looked at it: it was a large crush plate that activated a ring of steel spikes in the ceiling.

We climbed a long spiral staircase, down a short hall, and into what was once a throne room. Sundrim now uses it has his workroom and lodgings. The dwarf who led us stood quietly until Sundrim looked up from the papers he was studying intently. He asked something in an annoyed tone of voice.

An explanation of our status followed, and Sundrim seemed less than impressed. Goldrim gave him our resume, and he seemed more interested. But he wanted to test us first.

He told us to go down a hall he pointed out and map everything. He instructed us not to break anything, not to touch anything, and come back and report what we found. He warned us that the place is full of traps, some that would merely kill us, others that could bring the whole place down into rubble. He told us not to trip any of the traps, and don't go down any stairs; the tough traps are furhter down and he wanted to see how we would deal with the ones up here first.

The room we were in was about 12 feet tall and square, about 15 feet on a side. There were signs of long-gone tapestries, and others remained, sad and tattered. At one end was a semicircular dais about 18 inches high with a few broad steps leading up to it. On the dais were three stone thrones and 5 life-size stone statues of dwarven heroes behind them. Sundrim had scattered around many documents, books, papers, and miscellaneous things they'd found so far. There were three doors -- the one we came in through, and two in the side wall. He pointed us to one door, and we went through it.

The tunnel was about 5 feet wide. Prestley was first, looking carefully for traps, hidden things, and other rooms through the walls. Goldrim followed closely behind him. Then Kyuskay, Miara, José, me, Carmella, Sun, Bark, and finally Ashe. We moved slowly along so I could map the route accurately. This would be a rough map, but it would be enough to show where we went and what we found. And I could always re-draw it as a proper map at a later date, if needed. In fact, I started a second map at once, just for us. It's a quicker map, more notations than anything else. On that one, I noted secrets that Prestley told us that we shouldn't know as far as the dwarves were concerned. I could give him the first one, and we could use the second one to find our way around later.

I think I will let my map speak for itself and not try to describe the way through with words. It's too confusing. We went up and down, through rooms and hallways, and around in circles.

We found very little at this point, actually. We discovered quite a few ways down that we couldn't follow yet, including a ladder hidden in a shrine. I mapped a few hallways and rooms that were on our level. There were no traps along the way. We were turned back at one hallway by dwarves that wouldn't let us pass. Orders. We eventually came to an open ledge that looked out over the valley, guarded rather casually bu dwarves who seemed unconcerned about us. We were higher up than both the official entrance and the one we used to enter. With nothing else to discover, we decided to return to Sundrim and see if perhaps he'd let us do some actual exploring or if he planned to waste our time by having us walk around the safe halls they already knew about it.

A young breathless dwarf arrived with news: Mendri attacked. He told us we were released from our contract, and to get out. He left. The six guards inside the two outside set themselves up to defend the hold from Mendri. Predictably, all they wre interested in the glory of fighting. They even hoped Mendri would attack via this entrance so they woldn't get left out. Idiots.

We decided to go back into the caverns and search for the Crystal of Water while the dwarves were busy warring. THe guards payed us no attention as we re-entered the hold instead of leaving.

I continued the "good" map, discarding the incomplete one I was building for Sundrim. I'll use the paper for something else later. We did find a scrap of paper that came from Sundrim's journal. It just warned that there was a trap to the throne room and they had re-activated it.

I mapped, including all the areas we couldn't get to yet as described by Res Li. Tantalizingly, he can see a cavern with a lake and an island with a throne on it. But we cannot figure out how to get to it yet. Yazeran's diary mentioned the "Pearl of the Lake", so this sounds so promising! I wonder how long it will be before we can get to it. Res Li and I are pretty sure we need to be down further to find it.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~