3 Kythorn 1372
On their way south, Ruknar, Dragonkiller, and Larena stop by the fortified town of Palischuk for supplies. While there, they sell a few of the items they have taken in Icefoot or found in the orc camp and use the money to hire guides who know the roads and can take them safely all the way to the land Damara. The two guides they find were the half-orc scout Galen Starag, a native of Palischuk, and his avariel warmage friend Lazoryel, who has left his tribe’s aerie a few years earlier and ended up taking mercenary jobs in the Bloodstone Lands.
9 Kythorn 1372
After days of walking, the group of five stops at the Vaasan Gate, on the western end of the Bloodstane Pass, the only safe and practical pass through the Galena Mountains between Damara and Vaasa. By chatting with merchants, adventurers, and other travellers, they quickly learn that the pass has been blocked by a landslide that some witnesses claim as having been magically conjured by a group of stone giants. Teams of workers have already been sent to clear the path, but the pass likely won’t reopen for more than a month. Galen and Lazoryel are confident they could take their three patrons above of around the landslide, but an encounter with hostile stone giants would most likely spell certain doom for all of them. That’s when Dragonkiller spots Barend Balderk among the packed merchants, a dwarf weaponsmith who visits his goliath tribe every year in the Western Galena Mountains, and whom Galen has also seen in Palischuk a few times in the past. After a night of tales and ales, Barend confesses to his goliath friend that, though the landslide is stopping him to bring his cart of ore and gems to Damara, he might know of another way, one that passes through an empty bloodstone mine, wends tunnels connected to the Underdark, and should end up in the hills on the other side. Barend had fired his previous caravan guards upon reaching the Vaasan Gate, afraid they’d be little more than deadweight against monsters of the Underdark, but with Aukan and his four companions, they could surely all make it safely to the other side. By beating the other caravans by a month, Barend could make a pretty profit, part of which he’d be willing to share with those who’d helped him.
10 Kythorn 1372
Late the next day, the whole group starts making its way through the abandonned bloodstone mine. As Barend has promised, one of the shafts keeps going east and down though a series of natural caverns. It’s here that the others first witness Lazoryel’s shapechanging abilities, easily taking the form of a kobold or troglodyte to to pass through spaces and block incoming hits. Every bit as dangerous as promised, the lower caves are filled with strange and deadly creatures unlike anything you’d see aboveground. But the worst danger came from the world above. About halfway through the mountains, the party meets with Treknah, a dwarf enchanter who’d been cast out of Barend’s clan a long time ago, and has since used his magic to rally forces of evil humanoids in the Underdark, pallning to get revenge on those who have cast him out. Throwing everything they have left, Barend and his escort take out Treknah and his duergar bodyguards. Barend then uses a jar of delver slime he’d had in his cart all along to seal the cave whence the duergars had come out. Questionned about whether he’d known about Treknah’s presence before entering the caves, Barend’s answer give no clear indication one way or the other. A few days later, the group sees the sun again as they finally emerge from the Galena Mountains, now on the Damaran side.