The Dark Tower

The feeble torch light picked out the burnished copper of the door as it swung inwards from the adventurer’s standing on the bridge. The stone man, bow ready, strained to see into the darkness that lay beyond. The dwarves standing in front of him were barely able to see much more despite their vision being better in the dim light. Around them the wind howls down the great chasm with anguish of abandoned ghosts.

Cautiously, the party move forward: Billwise, custodian of the torch, at their centre. The vast hall shows signs of heavy objects being moved. A tramway with abandoned carts. Platforms out into the the inky black darkness with chains rising and falling in to the depths.

Exploring further into the depths Pick and Billwise disturb and are beset by swarms of Cavern Wings. The fierce bats swarm and harry the two lead explorers. Pick is raked by razor sharp claws but Billwise, unarmoured and head unprotected, fairs worse losing an ear. Knowing the fearsome reputation of these creatures Pick retreats calling for the rest to do likewise. The injured Billwise follows his advice and the pair make a dash out onto the bridge. Denig seeing that his arrow would be wasted calls on his tribal spirit to impede the flight of the bats and is gifted with a wall of air across the doorway. Dagaard someway off but able to see in the sudden darkness created by the flight of the torchbearer guides the concentrating Denig out towards the bridge.

Denied their initial prey the Cavern Wings refocus on closer prey. They dive and swirl around the slow moving Dwarf and Dunlending but stone skin and armour deflect the razor sharp claws. Spotting a chance Dagaard swings at the swarm leader. His hammer sends the dominant male spinning into the floor with a splat. The pair are granted a brief respite as the cloud reorganises to recognise a leader.

It is clear that the bats find the wall of air difficult to pass through granting a moment to pause. Pick is all for escaping the cloud of albino hunters knowing the danger they pose. He points out that the wall will not hold as there are other exits. Denig is for picking them off in smaller numbers as they emerge from the door. The argument proves mute as the swarm descends with high pitched screams after flooding out of the other exits under a new dominant male. The party are raked by claws. Denig’s concentration is broken. Pick attempts to shelter the injured hobbit. Only Dagaard stands tall, picking out the leader again his mighty hammer swings and the lead bat sprays all over Denig stood beside Dagaard. The cloud disperses after the twin loss.

Unsure of whether the bats have returned to their roost or dispersed to other parts of the underground chasm, the party rest up in the relative safety of the half mile bridge. Denig attends to the injured hobbit; his request for healing on the ear granted by his clan god. He continues to seek favour for his own health and this too is granted. Rested and restored, the party return to the hall at the end of the bridge.

The party decide that the hall was used for shipping goods and are confronted with the choice of following stairs up or down. They choose to go up first. At the top of the stairs they exit onto an open platform dominated by two cranes. Choosing not to test the operation of the cranes and the ability to send a dwarf or hobbit up and down in a bucket they descend to the level below the one with the bridge.

Exiting the bottom of the stairs, Pick spots a roost of Cavern Wings and beyond a door. Opting to use stealth to bypass an unfortunate encounter they make it into the room behind the door with only a moment of peril. A simple padlocked door is opened with seconds by Billwise and the fellowship gain lanterns, candles and oil that will allow them to continue to explore without relying on torches for light. Then it is the small matter of sneaking past the Cavern Wings to the stairs leading down to the next level.

Exiting from the stairwell, a moment of consternation. A stone dragon is spotted in the shadows. A lack of movement reveals its true nature as a statue. A corridor with three doors, one of which is locked. While Billwise sets to work on the lock the dwarves check the doors up the corridor. Pick opens a door onto an office and Dagaard one to a canteen occupied by a Giant Cave Salamander. Rapidly, he shuts the door and because Billwise as opened the door joins the others to investigate what is beyond. The storeroom is unremarkable but does contain a useful haul of chalk. Dagaard’s lack of foresight is then revealed for as Pick exits the room he is surprise by the Salamander that has crawled in through a nearby open window. Pick is initially unbalance by the attack and wisely gives ground to allow Dagaard, who was behind , to attack from the doorway. Hammers rain down blows and the the Giant Cave Salamander is rapidly dispatched.

Giant Cave Salamander or Giant Om (Well the normal sized version)

The final rooms on the level prove to be of more interest. A small office at the rear of the ante room contains a sturdy iron safe with a lock set the test the skills of Billwise. The rest of the party take the opportunity to rest whilst the hobbit concentrates on the task of picking the lock without releasing the trap he spots within the lock. Fail and the lock mechanism will probably be destroyed or Billwise himself. The best part of an hour passes but eventually the diminutive thief triumphs. The contents are examined by the party and distributed equally minus a small sum filched by the light fingered hobbit. Some silver coins, a set of five keys and box of rune marked tablets and cut away diagram of some mine workings provide a perplexing haul.

The level below is dominated by a huge hall punctuated by huge metal trap doors and abandoned ore carts. Bridges stretch out into the darkness like broken teeth leaving only a set of stairs down as the exit. The fellowship push on to discover a wide avenue like passageway on the level below. Feeling weary and with the dwarven sense of time indicating the day is nearly over; they retire back up two levels to the spacious administration room to make camp rest and eat.

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