After the goblin hunt, the outpost needed to be resupplied with food before the treasure from the last goblin hunt could be taken to Zokat and sold.
The Dwarves also wanted to open trade with the natives at the outpost, when more space was mined to house dwarves and hold stores inside the gate, that monthly resupply would no longer be needed. This required more expertise in the language of the natives than had by Dima or Golar, who knew the techniques of trade. Crystal, occupied with trade at the fort for food for all the dwarves, had not yet time to train either.
The dwarves decided instead to move Dima to the outpost so she and Golar could learn from Mara, who knew the native tongue but not techniques of negotiation. Rogar felt that by the time the training of Dima and Golar was complete, he and Stonehead would have mined out enough room to hold dwarves and stores.
This would require the addition of one dwarf to the outpost to relieve Mara of her watch duties. Thorfid volunteered one of his two personal guards for this. He would accompany other dwarves to the fort, and then stay at the fort with the other of his guards while Dima and the first guard were delivered to the outpost.
Thus, Hrolfr, Kurzon, Olaf, Thram, Barik, Farin, Sapphire, Gror, Thorfid, and Thorfid's two guards travelled from the outpost to the fort, where Thorfid stayed with one guard and Dima joined the travelling group. The group then carried a load of rations and salt meat back to the outpost, where Gror and Thorfid's other guard relieved Golar and Mara of watch duty. Hrolfr, Kurzon, Olaf, Thram, Barik, Farin, and Sapphire continued to travel to and from the outpost while Mara trained Golar and Dima.
Each round trip of the travel party occupied a fortnight, with Olaf spotting for dangerous animals, most of which were avoided. Occasionally, drax or wolves were killed.
Olaf and Kurzon finish slaughtering a small pack of
wolves after being spotted on reconnaissance.
One the ninth trip, after the fourth day, on the first watch of the night, Kurzon spotted a jabberwock. The dwarves not on watch were wakened and threw on their armor, and then the jabberwock was upon them, breathing a bolt of lightning on Olaf before the dwarves charged. Olaf met the jabberwock's bite while Thram, Kurzon, and Hrolfr spread out along the worm's flanks. Soon much of the tail was severed by Hrolfr, but the jabberwock injured Olaf as well; Olaf retreated, relieved by Barik.
Thram, Kurzon, and Hrolfr attack the flanks of a jabberwock while Barik
defends against its bites. Farin stands ready to relieve Barik, while
Olaf has retreated to the campfire, where Sapphire also stands.
There followed much shedding of yellow jabberwock blood by the dwarves' broad axes, while Farin advanced to be ready to replace Barik, should relief be needed. At length the much injured jabbberwock lifted its head and breathed a fireball at those attacking it, and two dwarves fell - and then, finally, the jabberwock collapsed as well.
Thram and Hrolfr fall from the jabberwock's fireball.
The jabberwock also collapses.
The dwarves absorb their victory.
Sapphire stitched Olaf up, and cured the dwarves most tired and bruised - Thram, Hrolfr, and Kurzon - but the rest of the night was quiet. The next day, Olaf saw a large humanoid afar near the mountains, but the dwarves avoided approaching, only speculating on whether it was a troll or giant; without wings, it could not be the balrog, but it might yet be dangerous. Thereafter, they completed two more resupply trips, giving the outpost a year's salt meat as Mara finished the training of Golar and Dima on 1643.03.23.
With outpost reserves replenished, Dima, accompanied by Mara, Barik, Farin, Gror, Hrolfr, Kurzon, Olaf, Thorin, and Thram, set forth to discover natives with whom to trade. Two days from the outpost northeast they went, reaching a river. After some exploration to the west, they found a dozen natives a day downstream to the east on 1643.04.02; but they said they could not trade for the intervening territory was not theirs.
Following the advice of the natives, the dwarves travelled to the southwest to find natives closer to the outpost. After more than a week of searching, they found three natives on 1643.04.10, who agreed to supply at least some of the food the dwarves needed, and those natives were led by the dwarves to the outpost to see where the food was to be delivered, arriving on 1643.04.11.