Captain Ironhaul introduces himself as commander of “elements of the 7th and 9th Deep Ore Regiments, from Khör”, and admits that he may have as many questions of his guests as they certainly have of him.
He and his men have been hunkered down in this spot for several days. A week ago, Captain Ironhaul received unexpected marching orders from his commanders – to assemble a fast and able team of Dwarves and mobilize here, to their current location within Corinthia. The orders were to dig in, lay low, establish a scout perimeter to both spot incursions which might happen upon the camp, and to await the coming of a party of adventurers bearing the Drake’s Dragoons sigil.
Ironhaul confesses he was worried when, hour to hour, day after day, his scouts reported back no contact with anyone or anything. The Dwarf leader is uncomfortable being inside Corinthian territory in a clandestine way, and has no love for spending time on the surface world at that. Still, orders are orders and the short, brawny Captain trusts his commanders.
The Dwarf presents a document to back up his story. It is a letter passed to him from his superiors, a tangled mess of legal jargon and flowery High Speech that basically requests assistance from the Dwarves of Khör. Specifically for a capable team of Dwarf soldiers to meet the operatives hired from Drake’s Dragoons and aid them in their investigation of Moonwatch Tower, on as low-profile a manner as possible given the sensitive nature of the Moonwatch situation. The document bears the seal of the Lord of Diplomacy of Corinthia, and was addressed to a regional under-mountain governor.
As further proof of their good and honest intentions, the Captain has one of his lieutenants “go and bring the sveinnvỉsas”. Genive and Lester speak Dwarven; they recognize this word as one that loosely translates to “boy-scouts”.
When the lieutenant returns, he brings with him five Dwarf Paladins. The holy warriors practically glow with Lawful Goodness and the qualities of charity, honor, loyalty, and haughty disdain for non-Paladins. The chamber reverberates and hums with faint, divine tremors.
The Paladins barely notice the other Dwarves, or notice them as if surprised that they were present. They glance over the Heroes. Those Heroes not strongly Aligned, the Paladins ignore. Those two (possibly three) who are of Good alignment the paladins warm to, if only briefly; and those two of Evil leanings are immediately marked with glares and distrust.
Ironhaul thanks the Paladins for attending, and the divine champions take their leave. The Heroes are suitably impressed. There is no question that this Dwarf company is honest and on the level.
Captain Ironhaul goes on. His orders now, are to lead his men as a support force backing up the Heroes as they enter and sweep the Moonwatch fortress. Ironhaul was given no intelligence regarding what might lurk within Moonwatch; in fact he hoped the Heroes could tell him what they might be up against. Ironhaul has no doubt that there is something amiss within the fortress. He expresses concern for the safety of his men, going in against potentially anything – from an empty fortress unworthy of their effort, to a dungeon of crawling hordes of extraplanar horrors.
Lester says that rumour and recent sighting informed of Fire Giants, possibly working with Dwarves, in the immediate vicinity of Moonwatch. The Captain looks surprised and doubtful; he hasn’t fought Fire Giants in thirty years, and has never known them to be even neutrally-aligned with any aspect of Khör or its military.
The Heroes ask his force’s numbers. Captain Ironhaul and his lieutenants command a solid force; five Paladins, fifteen cave- and fortress-specialist Dungeon Delvers, twenty-five Scouts, and 150 highly talented, heavily armed and armored Dwarven Defenders. Dread Pirate Wobberts lets out a low whistle at those numbers. Even without Captain Ironhaul saying so, some of the Heroes realize that even if ambushed and outnumbered, each Dwarven Defender could drop at least five enemies in the worst of combat.
The Captain is firm on the next point : He will not send his forces into a dangerous or suicidal situation, nor will he permit the Party to misuse the resources he offers. Ironhaul has come as a gesture of age-old friendship and allegiance to the kingdom of Corinthia, and his combat brigade is intended to back up the Heroes as they make the incursion into dark Moonwatch.
Captain Ironhaul suggests that his men can hold the rear positions, perhaps even taking some initiative to advance-and-hold for the Heroes. But as this is at heart a Corinthian internal affair, Ironhaul sees his force as guests in the base of a friendly power and does not in any way wish to overstep his welcome or his orders.
The Heroes ask if their host knows the layout of Moonwatch. Ironhaul does not. Neither he nor any of his company are engineers, or had a hand in constructing the fortress nearly a century ago. He is familiar with various kinds of stronghold, fort, redoubt and the like, but of Moonwatch’s exact schematic he knows nothing. At any rate Dwarves seldom draw maps of their underground cities or engineering works; their innate stonecunning talent gives them faultless memory for it.
With hesitation Genive says that the Party possesses a map. The Captain does not jump at the opportunity to view it; instead suggesting that if it is considered permissible and agreeable to the Heroes, he (and he alone of his company) might take a look. Lester is wary as the group agrees, and hands over the map.
Ironhaul looks at each floor for perhaps two seconds and hands the map back, details memorized. He restates what the Heroes knew from Specialist Renn – Moonwatch is of an old design, unmistakably Dwarf and tactically sound. He asks their plan for incursion.
The Heroes explain about the cistern outflow passage. Captain Ironhaul agrees it would be the best way in. He states that his company can be packed and assembled ready to move in two hours, including the time to unmake their web of dugouts and trenches and leave no permanent traces behind. Captain Ironhaul officially sets his force at the Heroes’ disposal.