After Tamnai prepared the dead body to prevent any spread of disease, the group divided between the two wagons and started south along the High Road through the Mere. Aelith and Carden joined the outriders to scout ahead and in about an hour they reached the edge of the Mere. With rolling grasslands ahead, the group proceeded with caution knowing that Frost Giants could still be in the area. The humans seemed frightened but hopeful with adventurers escorting them. Another hour passed until a field laden with carrion feeders lay ahead. The few wolves quickly departed as the wagons rolled closer to the previous ambush site. However, the buzzards stubbornly waited until the riders were extremely close before giving flight. A few wagons were smashed and scattered about along with the carcasses of both horse and men. The giants had obviously carried some of the wagons away, but left the grizzled remains of the fallen as a sign to others of their superiority. A swift investigation revealed no survivors and the group cautiously gathered the corpses on the remaining wooden wagons and set them ablaze before continuing. Watching every rise in the rolling hills, everyone remained quiet as they continued south. Another hour exposed a fortified castle in the distance upon a rise to the southwest. Falgrim announced that the structure was Thornhold, a dwarven stronghold on the cliffs overlooking the Sea of Swords.
Hearing that their destination was a dwarven citadel, Dyan’ette pulled his cowl tightly about his face and Rhogar looked apprehensive to confront his newest race. After some discussion with Tamnai and Carden, Rhogar decided to be forthright if asked and not hide that he only recently became a dwarf. Thornhold loomed closer, a castle of gray stone with a thick curving wall and two-towered central keep. Eventually the wagons were before the closed gates of the gatehouse and a deep voice called from above, “Hail! What brings you to Stoneshaft Hold?” Falgrim announced the caravan’s dilemma and the welcomed escort of the adventurers. The heavy gates opened and the wagons wheeled into the bailey with Dyan’ette being the last to enter with his hood drawn deep over his head. A distant sound like thunder can be heard, and Carden explains to Dyan’ette and Rhogar that it is the shore smashing on the coastal rocks. The drow seems speechless at the sound. Returning their gaze to the bailey, the drab structure was utterly without adornment or ornamentation with only crenellations and arrow slits breaking the solid face of stone. Surrounding the bailey were small buildings of wood and plaster holding animals and simple shops to include a smithy, candlemaker, gemcutter, carpenter/wainwright, and a brewery. Over a dozen battle-hardened dwarves in scale armor and gripping shield and short spears kept several feet between them and the group of visitors. A hardy young mailed dwarf with silver beard clasps securing his braided beard approached, “I am Kron Stoneshaft. Welcome to Stoneshaft Hold where you find sustenance and shelter as long as you cause no grief and obey the rules of the Hold. The Keep, the walls, and any underground chamber are forbidden to visitors.” He waves one hand at the wooden structures, “These shops are available.” Then he points his other hand to the corner tower behind him set against the walls but with no obvious openings to the battlements, “Sea Tower is where you can find food, warmth, and beds for your people.” His hands return to his hips before he continues, “You may ask Grimmell within the Tower for any additional needs. For now, I suggest you allow our healers to look at your wounded.” Falgrim turns to your group and states, “I will gladly cover your cost this night for food and lodging. I only wish I could do more, but we have to assess what goods survived and tend to our wounded.” As the caravan’s able-bodied hands start moving the wounded toward an assembly area, Proo joins them. Dyan’ette walks forward and hands his letter of recommendation obtained in Goldenfields with gloved hands to Kron. The dwarf takes the letter and reads it before responding, “I see no dragonborn among you, where is this Rhogar?” After a confusing discussion with Carden and Rhogar involving the new form of Rhogar, the party reiterates that they will behave accordingly and honor the rules of Stoneshaft Hall. Kron recommends that Dyan’ette keep to the party and remain discreet. He also gives Rhogar a concerned look and asks him to keep his pretty face from causing any disruptions.
The party approaches the Sea Tower, entering a slightly warm room with simple tables, chairs, a small stage, and a long wooden bar. A single set of stone stairs heads to the upper chambers and several others are visible. Three humans in worn clothing sit at the table nearest the hearth while two halflings playing a card game of sorts sit at another in the corner. A baldheaded dwarf scarred across the face and right eye with a silver orb replacing his eye is behind the bar. His thick wiry beard jutting forward prevents sight of his mouth as he bellows, “Warm air, warm food, and fiery drink awaits you! Welcome to the Sea Tower. I am Grimmel and can see to your needs.” A busty dwarven female with braided hair wrapped in a large bun atop her head smiles widely upon sighting Rhogar and waves a hand at one of the closer tables. The group quickly secures three room for three gold for the night and Dyan’ette offers a few gold coins to cover those in the caravan once they arrive. Deciding to see Dyan’ette’s reaction to the Sea of Swords, the group ascends the stairs to the top of the tower. Carden assured to place himself between the drow and the slits while ascending so the drow could see the waters for the first time in an open space. Astounded, Dyan’ette viewed a true ocean for the first time. The group took a moment to stare at the crashing waves below and the rippling ocean as far as the eyes could see. With sunset approaching, Dyan’ette decided to remain alone on the tower top to see the sunset and reflect. Tamnai announced her intent to attempt purchase of diamond dust at the gemcutter. Aelith, able to speak dwarven, decided to accompany her while Carden and Rhogar returned to the tavern below.
Tamnai and Aelith were able to secure suitable diamond dust at a slightly increased rate from a pair of aging dwarves. Aelith inspected the wares and took note of the dwarven crafts. The Sunite also purchase a thick golden necklace similar to a torc before deciding to return to the Sea Tower. Back in the tavern, Rhogar and Carden ordered drinks and Rhogar’s golden hair and eyes quickly attracted the busty dwarven female and two other dwarven lasses she fetched to show them this enamoring armored dwarven specimen. Carden fell into the role of translator and somewhat chaperone as the ladies were none too shy in their intent to seduce Rhogar. Against his better judgment, Carden decided to leave Rhogar’s side so he could check on the possibility of some hand axes at the smithy. The rogue quickly visited the smithy and bartered for two dwarven made hand axes before returning worried at what he would find. As Carden entered, he could see the busty female dwarf sitting in Rhogar’s lap as he told of his heroics. He also caught the disapproving eye, the functional one, of Grimmel. Carden asserted himself again by joining Rhogar and ordering another drink to get the lass from the lap of his friend. Aelith and Tamnai entered and joined the pair for food and drink. Tamnai ordered a plate for Dyan’ette and took it to him on the tower top just as sunset was approaching. Seeing the drow’s stare at the setting sun, she rejoined the others in the tavern below. The group started discussing a way ahead and the need for warm weather clothing.