I’m not sure what Moonglum was thinking but any chance of parley was now hopelessly lost. After we dealt with the dark skinned dwarven escort we regrouped and headed south towards the continuous sound of the hammers working. It didn’t take long and we entered a large furnace room with three great forges. At one of them 3 more of the dark dwarves worked the anvil while a fourth oversaw the process. I tried to act casual about the entire affair and acted like we belonged, approaching the group. That didn’t go well as the apparent leader took immediate offense and cursed at me in some foreign tongue. We quickly engaged the enemy and the leader simply vanished from sight. Not long after a small company of reinforcements arrived and we were hard pressed to keep the advantage. Eventually we came to realize that the reinforcements were merely an illusion. Apparently the leader was some sort of arcanist. When we focused our attention on the true enemy we made short work of them. That’s when we found the huge hole leading deep below into a giant chasm. I never did care for heights, but Moonglum assured me we would be fine. And so, we descended.
We explored this natural cave area for some time. All we found were some odd tracks, somewhat like an alligator, but much larger. Some of us speculated, could a dragon live down here? We tried to lure out whatever this creature was, but to no avail. Eventually we backtracked to another section of the cavern and that’s when all hell broke loose. Just as we had jumped across a damaged bridge, with Badger in the lead, a large Black dragon erupted from the lake.
I have not often felt fear in my life, but at that moment it was if I was transported back in time to that horrible night. I was helping my father work the small forge on our farm, repairing horseshoes when suddenly an arrow sunk into his chest. Out in the field four brigands were advancing on our farm. With the life draining from his eyes he looked to me and yelled, RUN. Just as I ran that night with the fear filling my entire being I ran now. A horrible sense of dread filled me when the scaled beast emerged and I ran as if the fires of hell were on my heels. Everything became a blur, as if I was flying back up the deep chasm we had descended until I finally found myself back in the great furnace room. Soon I saw Badger, who was soaking wet come flying, yes flying, up out of the chasm carrying Moonglum. Not long after, Benus, who was also flying, came up carrying Varis. Apparently Swiftwind had already come up, but I don’t know how or when. With that we retreated to the great columned hall and I finally began to feel myself again. And, just like those many years ago I swore that I would confront my fear. Those brigands were the first men that I hunted down, and this dragon would be the first dragon that I hunted down. I would pick the time at my choosing however. For now at least we decided we would explore more of the fortress on this level and wait to descend into the deep again.