The party moved to the end of the hall and found that it opened into a huge cavern, with a stairway leading down several hundred feet. A group of orcs rushed up the stairs to stop the party, which was also harassed by some sort of flying creature swooping down to attack.
The gnome used his powers to make several orcs, including the leader, leap right off the edge of the stairway, plummeting to a quick death on the rocks below. The rest of the party met the attacking orcs with various ranged attacks, and finally the stairway was clear of enemies. They used a rope to lower themselves to the floor to loot the ones that jumped.
At the bottom of the stairway they found a room with a roaring fire to one side. A huge orog was pummeling a limp and bloody dwarf in plate armor, while about ten other orcs looked on. The party attacked, winning the day and learning that the dwarf in plate armor was the paladin that the orc the questioned earlier had spoken of.
The dwarf informed the party that he had already blocked two of the three possible routes through the mountain. After some discussion, the dwarf learned that the Council of Elders had sent only the Farstriders to secure the third. He cursed, and insisted that they should be off to see that the job was done. The party needed rest, though, so it was agreed to rest for the night, and head to the steam vents in the morning.