Later Kalad explains that it was he who sealed the tunnel. Og had lead a raiding party up into the monastery in the dead of night slaughtering the monks as they slept. Kalad had fought his way down to this cave and just in time too. A massive force of orcs lead by Tusk himself, the largest orc Kalad had every seen, was preparing to enter the monastery through the tunnels. Kalad rushed back and collapsed the main tunnel behind him. This was when Og caught up with him. Og wanted him to re-open the tunnel but there was no way to undo the damage even if he’d wanted to. Og, in his fury, had almost killed Kalad when you all arrived.
Kalad feels sure that this was to be Tusk’s primary exit point. Nobody in Overlook or Bordrin’s Watch would expect this thinking that he would use the larger tunnel network at the Nexus. When Kalad hears that Overlook have sent only one party, the Farstriders, to secure the Nexus he is deeply troubled. ‘Why have they not sent a whole battalion? Why risk the lives of everyone in that valley on the efforts of just one group? It’s madness’.
Kalad resolves to go immediately to help seal the Nexus and you agree to assist. The way into the Nexus from the surface involves traveling through the Vents, a twisting cave network made by escaping steam from some naturally occurring superheated water source deep below the surface. The Nexus uses this resource by channeling boiling water through huge copper pipes. Open the right valves and you flood the Nexus effectively sealing it off from the tunnels below the mountain.
Tusk will now almost certainly make for the Nexus. He has a large force to maneuver and Kalad estimates it will take him well over a day to navigate the labyrinth of tunnels leading from the monastery. You, on the other hand, can travel straight overland down the mountainside to the Vents. ‘We have time, if we hurry’.
You make your way down the mountain in good time. The Vents are not difficult to find as you can see the column of steam raising high into the air from miles around. You also find evidence where the Farstriders camped before entering the Vents. Five horses are tied up near a larger fissure in the rock and five sets of print can be seen leading in. There are no print leading out. Duderino brushes a hand over one of the horses and checks the straps on the saddle.
‘Very fine horse this. And the saddle must be worth a fortune’.
Harad can see where this is going. ‘Hands off Dud, nothing here belongs to us.’
‘Just saying, you know. If, heaven forbid, anything has happened to Sommerfield and his chums, and these are still here when we get back…’
The Vents consist of a spider web of caves and fissures. Even with Kalad’s help you find navigating through them more that a challenge. After a couple of hours of wedging yourselves through small gaps and scrambling down dark openings you find yourselves coming out of a crack only 200 yards from where you started. It takes you more than three hours to finally make it to the man-made corridors of the Nexus.
Like the monastery, an advanced party of orcs and orogs has already been sent to the Nexus. You fight your way through the corridors having to deal not only with orcs but with the Nexus’ own defenses designed to attack any non-dwarves. In one chamber you find a Dark One, a create from the Shadowfell, inspecting a valve on one of the great copper pipes. This was a surprise as the Dark One was obviously working alongside the orcs and you would normally associate the two races. From the body of the Dark One you recover a mysterious brass key. The key seems to be constantly shrouded in shadow.
Finally you come across small chapel dedicated to Moradin and discover the fate of Edgar Sommerfield and his Farstriders. All but one of their remains are being greedily devoured by a hulking cave troll. Later, you would find the last body, Jen, in one of the adjoining rooms. She had managed to drag herself away from the troll and had died clutching a broken communication sphere.
You manage to kill the troll only for it rise up again a few moments later. In fact you kill it several times before remembering that you need to kill the damn thing with fire. Not a easy job when all you have are a couple of torches. With a final effort you manage to burn the last of the life from the troll. You don’t feel you can continue without resting for at least a little while. Bruised, drained and a little singed, you grab a short break.