We decided that as there were literal armies in the vicinity we would await our reinforcements before continuing on as to do otherwise would risk them falling into unfriendly hands unaware of the danger. I spent several days brushing up on my orcish in case we followed the plan of trying to treat with or take over the greenskins. Once the reinforcements arrived we pressed on to a secret entrance to the hold. Nearby the entrance was a lookout post which Jez discovered and we used it to survey the dark elves and even a few greenskins as well as other features in the landscape. Then we detached the magnificent dwarven binoculars and went on to where Hauptman had discovered the entrance. It was well hidden and partially buried, so we set to to uncover it.
While this was going on I drew Hauptman aside and spoke to him man to man. We are on a mission to restore the Captain’s Honor and his habit of stealing things was a danger to the mission. I let him know in no uncertain terms that if he stole oath gold he would never rest peacefully in Mor’s Garden, no matter how far he ran. I believe he took me seriously and while he will likely still pilfer valuables, he will leave things alone that are not to be treated as mere booty. I would say that I hope this quest will finally allow Lilith to bridge the gap between us, but I fear that is a foolish hope. Either way she will regain her honor, I intend to ensure it.
Once we entered the hidden tunnel we discovered that this part of the hold was completely abandoned, it did not appear any had been this way since it was lost. We brought the whole party in and set up a base camp and scouted the extent of the safe area. The others came upon a locked and trapped door, which they were able to disarm. Within was an engineers office with a library and the remains of its owner. He was dressed in full plate and carried and unusual weapon. It was later confirmed he was an irondrake, a dwarf who used some kind of flame launching device. He had several vials of unusual liquid, we think it is some kind of bile. We had no idea of its purpose. Before him on his desk was a journal of some kind. It was only one of the books I carried off from there, though in truth I felt leaving any of the books was a travesty, but I made my selection and forced myself away from it.
Later that night I read the journal, it detailed the expedition of the engineer to steal the eggs of an ancient salamander. It was a thrilling read and when my watch was done I was heartily looking forward to my next chance to read it
This upper part of the hold was some kind of science institute and there was a great deal here that would be worth study. With Lilith’s permission I set the force remaining at the entrance to scour it for useful items. As we proceeded down into the darkness I joined the scouting team as I was one of only a few that could see in the dark. We found a number of points of interest as well as the first signs of the hold’s occupants. We found a great door that led to some kind of park and the holding of a merchant. We holed up for the night in the merchant’s hold and had a strategy meeting. i advised Lilith that with three forces fighting over the hold shortly would be the best time to have the dwarves retake it, before the victors could recover from the fighting. I suggested we send a message immediately, but Lilith prefers to wait. I worry that it might be too long a delay, but there is wisdom in waiting to extract the most value from the idea. But the tactician in me winces at the possibility that this opportunity will be missed.
The others found a large cache of gold in the merchants vault, far more than we could carry home. I suggested we ferry it out and make a hidden cache ourselves to return for it late when we will not be burdened with other valuables.
I also informed Deepsworn of the park I had seen, and she was very interested. Several of us accompanied her there and we found it had been some kind of menagerie for the exotic creatures of the continent. While all the enclosures were empty, the whole place was fitted with devices that would give information of the creatures that had formerly been within. Suffice to say I listened intently to all of them. This hold was indeed a wonder, I only wished I could have seen it in happier times. I would love little more than to spend my days with other of like mind discovering the wonders of the natural world.
That night I continued my reading. It detailed politics within the hold about the use of the captured salamanders and their treatment. Many of the dwarves wished to use them for war and wanted to do so by any means necessary. The author however wished for them to be studied and raised with kindness, so that they would be loyal instead of fearful and the dwarves would gain a better understanding of them. He succeeded by making an appeal to the honor of the dwarven race. It continued with him discussing his home. The lower floor was cleared of flammable objects and the young slamanders had free rain and were happy. From the park I know that salamanders breath fire, so maybe the unusal bile that was in place of the regular irondrake fuel is of slamander origin.