The group continued their trek with Thugris until they reached the entrance to the Dwarven stronghold, where they were denied access to the city (as they had been told they would be). Chainer and Dekkum decided they would scout the outskirts of the stronghold to try and find another way inside instead of barging in through the front gates. While waiting for their two party members to return, the group was approached by a human cleric of Tyr named Bront. Sharing a drink with Llearic, Bront learns of the group’s intent to enter the Dwarven stronghold to defeat the Black Dragon, and decides to lend his services to their cause. Zasheid used the sending stones to inform Chainer of their new compatriot.
Opting for a direct approach and not waiting for Chainer and Dekkum to return, the group decides to try and walk through the front gates. They masked Reyna’s elven features and proceeded onward as to not draw any additional attention. They were stopped at the entrance to the stronghold again, but this time Bront attempted to “sweet-talk” his way past the guards stating they sought an entrance with the Elders. The guards asked which Elder they were seeking. Without knowing whether the group sought Lord Mountainbender or Lord Flatforge and fearing they would be turned away, Llearic cut the tension by yelling “Oi ye wankers, I have ale and I’d like to get a drink at the tavern.” In a desire to impress the travelers, both guards begin to argue over which faction produces the best ale and end up deciding to have a contest to determine the best brewing faction, with Llearic being the judge due to his background in brewing. As the group turned in for the night and divided into their two rooms, Reyna and Artemis bunk with Llearic and learned why he was qualified to be a judge, and the sheer amount of alcohol he is able to consume in one sitting.
The following morning, the party was escorted to the banquet hall for the contest. During their walk, Zasheid whispered to a guard that Llearic was actually a celebrated minstrel, and the winner of the contest was sure to become renown in the human world. Once seated, Lord Mountainbender and Lord Flatforge (the two Elders) entered the hall to commence the competition. Llearic put his knowledge to the test and began to dissect the ingredients and brewing components as he sampled each beer while the rest of the party tried to learn all they could of the feuding factions and enjoy some ale. The group was able to determine that the Flatforge faction tended to be comprised of intellectuals, while the Mountainbender faction relied on brute strength and aggression. As the contest continued into the night, Bront begins to fade under the sheer volume of alcohol, but the rest of the party was able to cast their votes without issue. The first and second round of drinking awarded Lord Mountainbender the favorite, while the third round awarded to Lord Flatforge.
The next day, the party reassembled to find Llearic passed out in the banquet hall. During breakfast with some of the dwarves, the group learned of a Stone Giant that had taken up residence in a remote section of the stronghold. The Dwarven factions were split on what course of action to pursue with the Stone Giant. The Flatforge dwarves wished to make an alliance with the creature while the Mountainbender dwarves were determined to kill it or run it off from their stronghold. Due to the group declaring Lord Mountainbender the victor the night before, the Mountainbender faction had the ruling influence and thus the group agreed to assist in removing the stone giant from the premises.
Walking through the caverns of the stronghold, Reyna and Zasheid motioned the group to stay behind as they examined a cavern entrance. They saw several spider webs, but before they could warn the group, they were ambushed by three large phase spiders. Able to defeat the beasts, the party continued on to find another cavern, but instead of more spiders, this one contained etchings carved into the walls. The group was able to determine a pattern to the scrawlings, but were unfortunately unable to interpret a meaning to them.
Choosing the largest of the exists out of the room with the etchings, Reyna saw three sets of tracks heading from the exit…with one set being considerably larger than the others.
Entering another cavern, the party came face-to-face with two humanoids, demanding an explanation for their intrusion into the cavern of the “Mighty Henge.” Bront attempting to be diplomatic, began to explain that they were there on behalf of the Dwarven factions to find a peaceful conclusion on the matter of Henge the stone giant and his occupancy of the stronghold. Before Bront could make any further progress in negotiations, Llearic burst forward yelling “Look you fucking wankers, I have a booze order that needs to be filled.” The humanoids instantly burst into action, with one summoning a patch of vines to entangle the party. In the midst of the fight, a huge boulder came barreling through the cavern and knocked Bront to the ground unconscious. The Mighty Henge entered the fray and the group became hard pressed to deal with the monstrosity. After a long and grueling fight, the party was forced to kill the two humanoids and Mighty Henge the stone giant.
Ending Experience: 12,700 / 14,000