The third crystal shard – Jöruvalla I

The warm breeze blows the salt tang of the sea up the river from the havens of Mithlond. Overhead gulls wheel with mournful cries in a cool, crisp, cyan sky. The companions return to Caras Celairnen and the Shore District where fewer questions are asked about unusual appearances. The journey had been uneventful but a tiring few weeks. Everyone, was looking forward to a rest and one of the party believed a reward for his efforts in Hollin.

The Captain’s daughter was as ever hospitable: Hrothgar’s mead loosens tongues. The adventurers relax and wait for the re-appearance of Mithparvandir. Within a few days the shabby scholar shuffles into the inn seeking the crystal he had sent the party to recover. Denig is reluctant on account of the lack of treasure recovered from Hollin. Mithparvandir counters with the offer of another potential site to hunt for treasure but he will not reveal its location without the second crystal. The party talk over the potential and the established members of the party overrule Denig the newcomer.

Mithparvandir reveals that the next crystal is located in the ruins of Jöruvalla, a Dwarven citadel lost in the reshaping of Arda at the end of the First Age. Everyone, in Caras knows the rumour that the rock was once a Dwarven trading outpost and all assume it is riddled with tunnels to secret treasures. Now, Mithparvandir has a crude map to a door that may just be the entrance to some of the halls that made up Jöruvalla. Naturally, the dwarves leap at the chance to explore ancient halls of their kindred. Through Mithparvandir, they discover that Hrothgar regularly allows adventurers to explore hidden underdeeps below the rock of Caras for a small fee. Mithparvandir explains he has arranged for the fee for the adventurers to be paid. All they need to pay for is the equipment. All treasure finds are theirs except for the crystal.

The adventurers stock up on goods for extended exploring underground from Hrothgar and descend from the cellar into the underdeeps. Darkness engulfs them but the Dwarves are at home underground, as is, for some reason, Denig. Perhaps it is his stone skin? Pick guides the party with his uncanny sense of direction in the tunnels and passages below. Chalk marks of past explorers are noted and their own directions are added. After two days travel they arrive at the doors that should lead into the Citadel.

With caution, the party examine the doors. Denig communes with the spirit of stone and feels confident in opening the door. It swings open easily but is blocked by rubble, forcing the party to worm through. Pick stands admiring the handiwork of the ancients before the party move on down the wide stairs. They notice signs that others have been on the stairs but are unable to determine when this may have been.

At the bottom of the stairs, the party enter a great hall. The darkness seems to stretch on beyond the feeble lights carried by the party. Vague shapes suggest a high vaulted ceiling above. Before you, ornately carved pillars stretch up to meet the darkness above and beyond them out of the darkness hollow booms echo from far away.

The torchlight of the explorers attracts unwanted visitors. A goblin scout is spotted and rushes to warn his tribe. Denig uttering oaths in goblin sets off in pursuit, closely followed by the rest of the party. Soon the party are beset by Orcs and goblins and a swift melee ensues.

Enraged, Denig calls out the remaining orcs in their own tongue. After tricking one into running into the hasty ambush, the rest retreat down the corridor out of sight from Denig’s bow. Denig screaming curses in orcish charges down the corridor. Pick follows with Dagaard in close support.

Meanwhile, unoccupied Billwise decides to go back and determine if the doorway discovered earlier would provide an escape. The door appears to be jammed and he is unable to open. Deciding to make the most of his time on his own, he continues to explore the hall, in a limited fashion, while the rest hunt down the remaining orcs. It is during his explorations that he is ambushed by a goblin scout. Afraid and alone in the dark, the brave young hobbit defends himself and to his surprise, he defeats his lightly armed opponent. Having defeated the remaining orcs, the rest of the party return to the main hall and following the torchlight arrive to find Billwise standing over his defeated foe.

The adventurers explore the nearby area. They enter a hall filled with large gears and mechanisms. The purpose of these is unclear to the dwarves of the party and lacking any obvious levers to pull they decide to leave these behemoths of engineering alone. Pressing on further into the darkness they pass two staircases until they reach a bridge stretching out into a pitch black dark cavern.

Light falls into darkness over the ornately carve sides of the stone bridge. Every 20’ a dwarven statue casts a stern stare at the explorers. In each shield fragments of a crystal glints in the torchlight reflecting the light in a fractured patchwork onto the bridge.The darkness is filled with a plethora a strange sounds, from the wind howling and whistling through the rocks; to the cry of bats and nameless things in the depths.

Following the bridge, the intrepid explorers eventually see the other side of the chasm. A looming tower carved from the very rock glitters dimly in the pale torch light. At the end of the bridge their way is barred by giant metal doors worked in iron and copper prevent access to the tower. They are decorated with the splendour of a volcano erupting. Copper and brass magma flows down the side of the steel mountain. What lies beyond such magnificent doors?

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