The Lord of the Rings: Shadow of the East
Chapter 13 Synopsis
Prince Thélor convinces Falin to accompany he and Zag to face whatever evil lay deeper beneath Khazad-dûm. Their first test is to traverse a portion of the Oldest Road in which molten rock falls from the ceiling like rain. The Dwarves call it “burning sleet” and it is much-feared. Luckily, Thélor’s surefooted guidance ensures the party makes it through relatively unscathed. After journeying the Oldest Road for another nine miles, they find the way blocked by an ancient cave-in. Falin’s tracker picks up the trail of Thélor’s brother and his Troll escort leading into a side passage, which they follow.
Meanwhile, after the distrubing dream regarding his dead wife Durgan Irongate visits the dark and dirty coal mines of Moria searching for clues as to who might have desecrated his family’s tomb and why. Utilizing his “people-finding” skills, he finds the Dwarf acting as a “middle-man” and poses as an agent of the one who ordered the body-theft of the Irongate clan crypt. He sets up another meeting with the instruder in an unused portion of the mine, and waits.
Far, far below him, Thélor and Azagri continue their journey. The natural tunnels beyond the Oldest Road are fraught with danger. The Dwarves are deep enough that steam geysers, lava flows, and sinkholes are common. Every step could easily be a Dwarf’s last! Luckily, Azagri is well-versed in the (literal) pitfalls of underground travel and successfully guides the party through the labyrinth of tunnels. His expertise impresses many of Falin’s warriors, though his crass personality does not!
After eleven miles of travel, they come to a steaming underground lake where the trails seems to end. Zag strips off his armor and dives into the water. He explores and reports the lake’s stone ceiling blocks the way forward. To continue, they would need to dive underneath. Realizing a Troll would sink like a stone, Thélor recommends they explore the overhang that forms the lake’s ceiling. The gap is too large for a Dwarf to jump, but not a Troll. After sending a grappling hook over, Zag discovers ladder-like rungs cut into sheer stone. A mound of gnawed bones lay at the base. Even as he’s searching, another falls and is followed by a thunderous belch. There are Trolls camping above!
Being the most talented climber, Zag scales the cliff and scouts out the situation. There are five lightly armed Cave Trolls guarding a small chamber. Two stand watch and three sleep near a flickering fire. Zag secures a piton, drops the rope down to the waiting Dwarves below, then descends and reports his findings. Thélor devises a plan to take the Trolls by surprise and Falin agrees.
The Dwarves ascend with surprising stealth, position themselves inside the chamber, and fall upon the Trolls. Thélor and Zag kill two and badly injure a third, and Falin and his men take care of two. Unfortunately, one Dwarf – Tharish – is crushed by a Troll hammer and killed. They build him a cairn and speak prayers welcoming the warrior to the Halls of Mahal, where he will await the final battle at the world’s ending.