Taking care of business
The viceroy, Bain Stonetongue, resumed his command of the expedition and immediately dispatched the ragged remnants of Battlegroup-West to recuperate away from the Balrog's curse. A "lot" from Bronze-Attack was moved forward to keep an eye on the mutinous Mithril-Attack dwarves and the mercenary dwarves of the Adarcer-Attack.
Bain promoted Roghel MoonOath, Attack-Lord of the Silver, into the inner circle. This was a fitting reward for showing such loyalty during the mutiny while he had been slated by the rebels to become the new viceroy. Bain also covertly entrusted to Sanddan Shieldcrusher, Lot-Herd within the Mithril-Attack, to hound and expose all of the leader of the mutiny such as to sanitize the Mithril into a reliable attack-unit again.
Food for DeemaKhazek had fathered a very live son with an ambiguously alive bride. He returned to Deema, hidden in a lost dwelling off the Hall of Trees. She was well, but getting hungry. Khazek went back to the East Gate and seeked the loremaster. Gesdrek was beyond caring and, althoug capable of speaking with the wraith, ignored his plea. Khazek then proceeded to convince Thordar to follow him and stock up on food. Thordar got a bit nervous when Khazek lead him to leap over the endless chasm by hanging on miner's chains: a setup virtually identical as the moment of Khazek's death where Thordar had been suspected to murder him at the time.
Thordar eventually met with Deema and agreed to bring food on a regular basis. The obsessive curse for Deema had been lifted, and honestly Thordar couldn't fathom quite why he had behaved so irrationally with respect to the bride.
Trolling for a soulThe Viceroy and the inner circle met in his study to decide on the next course of action. With the slaughter of the ancestors at the hands of Battlegroup-West, the loremaster was worried that much of the Balrog's soul had gone back to his reposing corpse. The question was: where could the body be?
Thordar suggested to sacrifice one more ancestor soul and entrust to Khazek the task to shadow the soul on its journey back to the Balrog. Khazek did just that: he flew across the chasm, slew an ancestor and followed its soul down into the depth of Khazad-dum.
Thifaim Chertfoot and the Flint AttackSoon after Khazek's departure, messengers from the Flint Attack arrived to announce the arrival of the last component of the Emerald Unit. Thifaim Chertfoot was the Flint's attack-lord. The viceroy filled him in on to the situation. Thifaim proved eager to get into the action. He unloaded months worth of food and carts full of tools. His fresh troops showed a marked disdain for the Mithril-Attack and their mutinous reputation.
When Gror reported back for duty, Bain sent him to the 4th deep to scout ahead and find out more about the siege of the Infernals on the Durbagash orcs. Thifaim immediately volunteered to be part of the expedition.
Settling into the 4th DeepGror was released from its cell when his father returned and uprooted the mutinous elements. It took him a few days before he returned to duty. Gror insisted to command the scouting and occupation operation on the 4th deep. They descended down to Halin's mine and established a base camp. Gror then sent two lots to explore in a sweep from the East and heading into the city.
Meanwhile, Thordar smelled opportunity and requested his leave from his duty as the viceroy's butler. Bain released him so that he could infiltrate the Flint-Attack. The hitch was that Thordar was already infamous with the Flint-dwarves, much to his surprise. Thordar has offended much of the NCOs in the units in the past, and there he was today, beardless and disfigured: a huge slash across his neck and an unhealing wound caused by blighted corpse in recent past. Each dwarf in the Flint would have gotten out of his way to get Thordar in trouble.
Thordar approached it professionally and linked with the officers in his official position as the viceroy's right arm. What really normalized his relation with the dwarves was his ability to laugh it up and be one of the boys. Thordar, through professionalism and his natural carousing demeanor had managed to be accepted, although not particularly liked.
This would come handy soon enough.
Flicking a booger on the Balrog
Khazek followed the soul down to the 6th Deep. He passed by richly decorated areas which he assumed to be near Durin's palace. He had to dodge into the dark near the ceiling to avoid detection. He encountered more and more units of infernals busying along the main highway. He passed the endless stairs, but the soul was accelerating and he didn't have much time to explore.
He followed up until he got to a large hall where a 6m diameter well was spewing hot air and sulfurous fumes. The soul of the ancestor evaporated and got stuck at high speed into the well. Khazek dove as well and suffered a grievous wound from the arrow of an infernal sentry. He went down into a huge cave, some thousand yard below. The cave was filled with steam and a river of lava was flowing from North to South down below.
Khazek wandered for a while and decided to follow the river of lava to the North. Time passed, hours, maybe days. Until he managed to arrive into a gigantic chamber.
|The Balrog's tomb|
At the far end of the cave, which spanned maybe a mile long, was a lake of lava. In the middle of the lake, a hill protruded and on it lay the body of the Balrog. Khazek flew over the cave, bypassing a number of infernal priests and approached the body. Up into the vaulted ceiling, he hid between a number of suspended iron chests.
The priests were performing some kind of ritual while the Balrog's body was laboriously breathing fire. It was, however, not moving. Khazek floated over the maiar and, true to his old living self, got the urge to spit, pee or flick some kind of bodily fluid on it. The Balrog was half alive, struggling to open his eyes as Khazek flicked his fingers overhead. A burst of fire filled the place, Khazek nearly got roasted in the blast. The priest got excited and started to shout as Khazek understood that it was good time for him to leave the place and head up.
A powerful earthquake shook Mount Silvertine. Thousands of yards above, as the ground roared and the stonework rattled, Bain and the other had a sinking suspicion that Khazek had something to do with this.