On the evening of 1623.11.16, Stonehead, Barzak, and Rogar assessed the situation. Stonehead and Rogar were wearing out or breaking mining tools at nearly three per week per person, about twice Stonehead's estimated rate of one to two per week per person. Still, Stonehead's conservatism when deciding how many tools to bring, along with some added conservatism by Barzak when purchasing the tools, meant that there should be sufficient to complete the initial stage of the fort at the base camp.
Some redesign was made to the planned excavation as the stone had continued to be largely chalk, rather than the hoped for basalt. The chambers were replanned for 11 feet wide by 10 feet deep so that the span would not be too great for the available five foot rock thickness between floors. Stonehead and Rogar - though mostly Stonehead - decided that rather than cutting the door slab itself from chalk, they would go up into the mountains and find some stronger stone from which to make the door.
With the food from a couple of successful hunting sessions and one trade with the natives, Barzak, Barik, Farin, Gror, Gumnad, and Mara then set out for the cache to retrieve additional mining tools and supplies. This was accomplished with only one minor encounter with two dragonflies.
Meanwhile, the mining group worked for twelve days until the tools ran out, completing the chamber behind the door, half of the chamber above that where the door lift mechanisms would be placed, and the stair between them. They then waited with only a couple visits from rhinos, from which the dwarves retreated into the fort, until the hunting party returned on 1623.12.17.
The mining group: Stonehead, Rogar, Kasov, Crystal, Dain, and Gundorm.
At the time, Rogar and Kasov did not have these dedicated figures yet.
The cache group: Barzak, Barik, Farin, Gror, Gumnad, and Mara.
At the time, different figures were used for Barik, Farin and Gror.
With tools replenished from the trip to the cache - but with food depleted - the hunting party consisting of Barzak, Barik, Gror, Farin, Mara, and Gundorm again went out to look for food. About a week out into the plains, and a couple days after fending off a large flock of drax, they found a herd of antelope. Barzak circled the herd and targeted small antelope, killing two with one arrow each before the rest of the herd panicked. The herd galloped directly past the rest of the party, but Gror missed with both of his shots.
The party then paused for four days to butcher and prepare antelope meat before continuing to wander roughly northeast, where they encountered a river and followed it downstream to the south and east for a couple days. They then came upon another antelope herd; this time, Barzak and Gror each brought down an antelope. A few days later, while still preparing these antelope, another herd came to water nearby; Barzak circled around it and brought down yet another antelope, but the rest of the herd ran away from the river so Gror did not get any shots.
A few nights later, while the dwarves were still camped and preparing antelope, a Jabberwock approached the camp. Mara awakened everyone quietly and all threw on their armor quickly, but the Jabberwock was upon them before they could grab their packs and retreat.
The Jabberwock lowered its head to grab a morsel - Barik. Barik just managed to interpose his shield while the other dwarves struck at the Jabberwock. Four simultaneous hits dazed it, and the dwarves continued to rain blows onto its head until it came to its senses and retreated.
The dwarves then returned to the fort with no further incident - but also no further antelope. Nearly a month of hunting had only allowed them to get ahead of the food situation by about a week.
In the meantime, the miners completed the gate chamber above the door, including the winch case and the slot through which the door was to drop down. They were nearly ready for the door itself, as soon as the food reserves were high enough to seek out a slab of better rock for the door. The date was 1624.01.12.