Unbeknownst to Skodi and Skorvir, just a couple of days after they left Skeggvarshold their half-brother Torin came back from his long hunt with a juicy elk; also with a report of finding a badly burned body under a cairn just an hour up into the hills. That night, Thorbjorn, a skald and the son of Gull-Skeggi's old skald, showed up, having heard the house of Skeggvar once more had adventures afoot. Torin and Thorbjorn collected a sledge of supplies and a thrall to pull it, and headed off in pursuit of the brothers!
Their uneventful and detour-free trip to Dvergshol let them catch up to the original adventurers, arriving on skis just as the wolves attacked! Although Thrag the thrall was briefly brought to the ground, the wolves were quickly dispatched; during the fight Torin noticed a slender female figure standing on a ledge far up the cliff wall, holding a horn. Thorbjorn thought this likely to be the famed Ulfhorn, which, legend would have it, summons wolves to fight for the holder until the following dawn.
Skodi healed his thrall from the wolf-bites, but then collapsed. The strain of the forced march and reduced rations had proved too much for him! The brothers left the other thrall, the less-than-bright Miika, to care for him while they climbed up the cliff wall. Although the figure was long gone, there they found a secret back entrance to Dvergshol, leading into a guardroom with two dead dvergr! But a closer examination revealed one dverg to be clinging to life – the group tried various healing magic, but none of it seemed to bring him back to consciousness, so they just looted the potions off the poor dvergr and proceeded on.
A short passage led to a meeting room being used as a makeshift infirmary; in it the brothers got the first good glimpse of the dwarf-foe! A black-skinned, white-haired elf – no doubt one of the rumored evil subterranean svartalfar – was bandaging another unconscious one on the table. Thrag leaped in and slew the surprised medic before she could react with more than a startled yelp; Thorbjorn examined the wounded one, but the cowardly villainess was merely feigning unconsciousness, and plunged a dagger into the Skald's chest! Although the elf called down magical darkness in a craven attempt to escape, she was quickly finished off.
The brothers found that this meeting room opened out right next to the throne of King Gandlehammer – at the end of the dwarf-hall where they had several times feasted in their youth. But now, most of the hall was obscured by a wall of impenetrable blackness. The foolish thrall attempted to walk down the table in the supernatural darkness and repeatedly fell, making a tremendous racket. Eventually the whole group tried to pass the darkness, but as the last to enter the unseeing zone – the same thrall again – was about to step out of the light, a crossbow bolt spanged off the ground next to him! Looking up, he saw another svartalf at the level of the high, vaulted ceiling just disappearing back into the blackness.
The group continued fiddling around in the dining hall in spite of being unable to find the ceiling sniper. The did find the front gate, which was not itself filled with magical darkness; they then brought the meteorite, the now-unconscious Skodi, and the thrall Miika in out of the cold. Another bolt from the ceiling reminded them that they couldn't leave their defenseless brother here unattended! Skodi's bodyguard-thrall started thrashing around stabbing the ceiling with his polearm, and shortly landed a lucky blow, slaying the sniper. The corpse remained on the ceiling, apparently weightless; but eventually the thrall managed to pull it down.
Finally free of the darkness, the group slew two more svartalfar soldiers, unmotherly women who had trapped two dvergr children in the creche. The children's ad hoc defenses had held the doors shut until the Skeggvasons could effect their rescue. As the dverglings only spoke dwarven, however, the group was at an impasse; they were unable to communicate to the children that it was safe to come out. Then Thorbjorn had the idea of handing a lock of his golden (not white) hair through the door; the children then understood these were friendly Ulfen and not a svartalf trick, and emerged.
Having found the stairs down, from which direction occasional sounds of battle could be heard, the group started down, thrall-first. But a dvergar voice from below yelled in Skald to stay their advance, for they were moving into a svartalf crossfire! They were told to come down the horse-ramp by the front gate so that they might join up with the remaining dvergr forces. This they did, the original group – who had missed the last couple of meals – distracted only briefly by the dvergr food stores. And then briefly again by the brewery, which contained a stack of kegs of fine dwarven stout.
But after slaking their thirst and satsifying their hunger, the brothers were ready for battle! Their thrall's arrival in the middle of everything brought the svartalfar and their bugbear and hobgoblin slaves charging from cover to engage him; their blood-thirst was briefly stymied, however, when a cowardly but lucky poisoned bolt from the svartalf priestess took him out of the fight! It was a close-run thing – Torin Skeggvason, the hunter, was also frozen briefly by the dark priestess' foul magicks, and then she unleashed a wave of magical destruction that badly drained all the stout warriors, dverg and human! Having used her last spell, the svartalf priestess was overwhelmed.
After cleaning up one last svartalf and her wayward siege-worm (a strange creature with a burning head called a "thoqqua" by the dvergr), the heroes rested, exchanged healing, and assessed the tactical situation. It was not good.
The dvergr said that they had been attacked several hours earlier by a svartalf army demanding something called the "blood star". While these present warriors held them off, King Gandlehammer slipped out a secret back entrance into the tunnels of dvergsheim with the bulk of the population of Dvergshol. He headed for another dvergr city – the nearest, but still many miles from here. After a couple of hours the svartalfar – who had invested most of Dvergshol at that point – understood that they had been tricked, and their main force ran off in pursuit. Shortly after this was when the Skeggvasons arrived with their skymetal.
As the Skeggvasons and skald were well aware, the Blood Star had been their father Gull-Skeggi's ship back in the viking days. Strange coincidence though it was, however, they decided the svartalfar could not possibly have meant this, but must have wanted their meteorite. Nobody had a good theory for how their source of information – divination, presumably – had told them when and where to attack, but had managed to get the time almost half a day early, making them waste their army against the dvergr when the (probable) blood star was not yet in residence.
Regardless, the dvergr said that due to their small numbers, the swiss-cheesed nature of their main gate to dvergsheim, and the presence of a svartalfar army in the area, they could not stay here. Nobody had seen that svartalf that had originally blown the Ulfhorn, either; she might still be lurking about Dvergshol, or even worse might have headed off after the main svartalf force, to alert them that their coveted "blood star" was here after all!
There was an overland route to the other dvergr city, but it is through the high mountains and would surely be impassable this deep in the winter. The Skeggvasons gallantly said that the dvergr must come to Skeggvashold as their guests; sleds were built, loaded with all they would bear, and the dvergr, their stout, their pigs (five sows and a hard-to-control boar), all the supplies they could lay their hands on, the Skeggvasons, their skald, their dog, and their thralls set off (very slowly, at the pace of a dvergr in deep snow) back down the mountain to Skeggvarshold.