To hit the Dourhand fortress unexpectedly, we would have to find the secret entrance. At least according to Gloin. I knew that Gloin’s small party could not directly assault the Gabilazan, but I was unsure of Gloin’s strong belief that we would hit the Dourhand’s without them even knowing it. Of course, I wasn’t a dwarf. This was dwarf business.
To find the secret entrance I would have to enter the vault and search the cornerstone of the entire fortress. Gloin refused to go with me again, stating that if they saw dwarf involvement a war could erupt. Gloin’s forces would then probably lose. I was to go alone, or with any of my own allies. I decided to search the fortress alone. I remembered from my other journeys through the fortress that the outer fortress was really two gatehouses locking in an area surrounded on the sides by mountains. In between there were many smaller buildings and a few larger ones, including the inner keep where Skorgrim and the Nazgul would probably be. Luckily, the vault was one of the lesser buildings, but I had a feeling that it was heavily guarded. Dwarf materialism, indeed.
The vault was easy to locate, and Maiden and I crept closer to the campfire near the vault. The dwarves standing watch by the campfire had let their eyes become too adjusted to the light of the blazing logs. They made for swift kills. Inside the vault there were two more guards that we dispatched nearly as quickly. I led the way down the stairs to the cornerstone to see three Dourhands, of some rank, guarding the room. I knew Maiden and I could not handle all three by ourselves, but the closest ally of the Council was at least a hard week away in Rivendell.
I decided to try and use the dwarven flaw of greed to good use, especially since the fallen Dourhands would have lost any virtue to counter that greed. We rushed in with a yell and felled a Dourhand captain and heavily wounding a guard. Then we ran out to the campfire hoping the two remaining Dourhands would not follow. They did not. We rested for a bit and planned our next attack. I would rush in and kill the guard while Maiden would keep the highly-ranked dwarf busy. While they fought, I would quickly search the cornerstone, hoping Maiden could keep the protector occupied. The plan went off effortlessly, and while one dwarf remained standing (heavily wounded, I might add). I felt his evil masters would not let him live the night.
Gloin was overjoyed upon our return. Even though he had sent us on what might be a fruitless mission, our luck had smiled on us.