We began at the cleanup. The cleanup of 16 frontline Orc shock troops and one legate. Gathering their wits and small trophies of war, including the long sword and head of the commander legate, our hero dwarves headed back to the clan hearth. Upon reaching the bridge, some 120 ft above river level in the underground chasm, the patrol sensed something was amiss.
Perhaps it was something in the tone of voice of guardsdwarf Donhof. Perhaps it was a matter of insistence, but Donhof refused to bring up more than two of the patrol at a time. Shifty and Fozmog were up first, even though Donhof could have easily managed four with the chair lift installed.
Suspicions were confirmed as a council patrol awaited atop the bridge and took Shifty Leghard into custody. The body of a dwarf was found in Shifty’s dwelling earlier that morning. By found, of course, passersby were able to hear the sounds of a single Fel inside of Shifty’s apartment. It seems there was a bit of a struggle and what was left of the victim had turned undead. As fel are wont to do, it made a mess of Shifty’s abode, spilling guts and what little possessions Shifty had all about.
At the bridge, the scene was tense and Fozmog was ready to rumble, but decided against drawing blood from his adopted clan (and also foregoing early donuts).
Shifty was lead to a holding chamber and questioned separately about his whereabouts the night before as well as events out on patrol. The rest of the patrol was questioned before the council. It was a bit of a shout at times. Thaglor even had to be removed for outright insolence to council, gross insubordination, and contempt of court. That and he was repeating himself loudly and to no one in particular. The only things everyone wondered as Thaglor was lead away to a holding cell were: 1) What kind of dwarf can’t hold his ale? and 2) Ale’s been scarce, when’s the last time Thaglor has shared some grog?
Several of our party’s members tried rousing speeches but failed to sway many of the crowd, or the council. Things were getting bogged down and mistrust was growing. Finally Fozmog offered something constructive, gather everyone at the forge and do a head count. See who’s missing and what’s up.
30 minutes were given to gather all and meet in the forge. In that time some things happened simultaneously:
 Shifty was questioned further, his story matched up, and he offered to help search his own apartment. With a keener set of eyes, two important clues surfaced: The victim was killed elsewhere before being brought to Swifty’s place. Most of the blood was already gone from the corpse. Also: a distinctive cuff link was found, not belonging to Swifty. Time was up and those investigators headed to the forge.
 Thaglor was rebuked and subsequently released. At some time in the near future he’ll be assigned latrine and/or kitchen drain cleaning duty. He was sent off to the forge.
 Fozmog and Hrothgolm went to watch Zundrum’s dwelling. Patiently waiting outside the abode they spent the time talking to Donhof. The growing boredom was abruptly shattered by a piercing howl of pain from within. Fozmog and Hrothgolm sprang to action, bursting past Donhof and gaining entrance to Zundrum’s home. What they found was shocking Zundrum lay on the stairwell to the 2nd story vainly attempting to staunch the blood flow from a neck wound. Blood spattered between his fingers and he soon collapsed. On the second floor was Thorbock, raving and howling. He was quickly put down by Hrothgolm and Fozmog.
Well, that settled a bit of mystery. News of the incident and hidden treachery spread quickly. At an all hearth assembly, it was decided that Gnok Copperfist, forge master, would be elevated to the role of hearth leader. This was hastened by Vonvik Silverfist voluntarily stepping down in shame. All seemed much improved. All questions ever asked answered. No remaining doubts.
It was decided that our dwarves should head out on expedition again, this time to really investigate where the shadow patrol had come from, how they had gained entrance to the underground tunnels.
The night ended after a battle with strange catlike creatures, who had six legs, and vicious squid like flail appendages. Again, creatures never seen near the hearth.
Rejoining forces after a 13 day respite, our Dwarven patrol set forth once more into the dark. The first foe they had to overcome was the monotony of underground travel, already slow and dangerous, made slower still by the necessity to stay alert and ever watchful, ever of professional caliber.
They came upon an area of impenetrable darkness that could not be pierced even by the evocations of Bix Ringhorn. It was a mysterious dark cavern, but they were alerted to the likely masters of the zone by threaded silk filaments, floating down stream and brushing against face. And then suddenly, spiders! Or was it just one spider? The problem is that the darkness didn’t go away. Grodious was able to retrieve a poison gland from the thorax of the chitinous beast. Little else was found, except a well kept set of ringmail made in a hearth closeby.
This was a well deserved level time, and while players were a little disappointed that level 6 is at the geometric center and distant from exciting things, everyone was grateful for the additional hit point pool.
The main fight of the night came at the end. Advancing just to the mouth of a cavern, our dwarves spotted natural light. Even though it was dim and on the other side of a mammoth opening, their eyes registered it as fantastically bright. Cautious, the explorers ventured just a little bit into the cavern and were greeted by the coordinate attacks of six Legates.
These Battle Legates were brutal. But our dwarves were smart. They retained the tactical advantage and stayed in the tunnel’s confined space. Apparently the legates had no area spells, so the players really took advantage of their sniping spot. By the end the legates had shamed their order and fell to the battle hardened discipline of the clan dwarves.
The question for next time, still lingers, how did the legates find this place? Is there a viable connection to the outside world? Will our dwarves be able to find something that they can leverage for the protection of the hearth? What is the next course of action?