Arriving in Hammerfast
- After a short discussion in which Hamish and Elestrynna confirm that the silver orb is a watcher spell, Elestrynna destroys the orb with a few well-placed magic missiles. “Whoever cast that definitely knows we’re coming now”, she says. There is a short discussion of how to gain entrance to Hammerfast, which has been sealed to outsiders (according to the patrons of the Fiveleague House) and it’s decided that Hamish will take the lead. With that the party pushes on with all speed towards Hammerfast, feeling even greater urgency now.
- During the next hour the party begins to feel a sense of weariness that goes beyond the normal exhaustion brought on by the rapid journey. As Hammerfast draws nearer, the weariness grows. Something odd is going on.
- Just before noon, the party crests the final rise and breaks out of the Dunwood’s trees and looks down across a narrow valley to see the dwarven town of Hammerfast. It sits at the base of a large, rocky hill with a stone and wood wall encircly a tight cluster of two and three storey stone buildings. Nearly at the top of the hill, the wall meets at a low, squat tower that Hamish explains is the Tower of the Ancestors. It guards the entrance to the Temple of the Ancestors, which is an underground necropolis where all the great ancestors of Hammerfast are buried. Something about the town looks odd, though, and it takes a moment to realize that it appears completely deserted from this distance. No dwarves move in the streets, no guards man the walls or the main gate, and only two or three thin streams of smoke come from the forest of chimneys in the town.
- Riding down the last hill and up to the gate, the silence all around is forboding, especially to Hamish, whose memories of Hammerfast are very different. The main gatehouse is completely unguarded, so Elestrynna teleports up to the top of the wall while the others toss grapples and begin climbing. The guard towers are abandoned, the streets are empty, the houses are all closed up and the town is silent.
- The party decides to push into the town and try to find the houses where some smoke still curls from the chimneys. One the way up the main street to the upper parts of the town, the party begins to hear a steady droning of flies and insects and they begin to smell the odor of rotting bodies. Elestrynna pushes open the door to one of the houses and her nose is assaulted by the stench of death. Comfortably seated on chairs in a neatly straightened house are two dead dwarves, the backs of their skulls blown out and the remains painting the backs of their chairs and the walls beyond. Gagging, the party looks around the room and at the bodies, which appear to have been dead for over a week but show no other wounds or signs of struggle. It looks for all the world like the two dwarves just sat down and died. As the party lealves, Elestrynna sets the room ablaze and immolates the corpses.
- Now greatly disturbed, the party moves deeper into the ghost town, opening doors and finding corpse after corpse in each home and shop. There are no signs of struggle, no wounds, and nobody seems to be alive.
- The party makes it to the first home with possible signs of life: a thin whisper of smoke still coming from the chimney. It is a large home of a wealthy family in the best part of Hammerfast that Hamish recalls somewhat. Theros scouts out the home and finds no signs of life on the ground floor, but the food that was being prepared in the kitchen is only a day or two old and the fire still smolders a bit in the hearth. A thorough investigation of the house turns up an elderly dwarven couple, dead, atop their bed. This couple has only been dead for a day or two, the blood staining the pillows and blankets still somewhat damp. Searching the house turns up ledger books recording bills being paid out 13 days ago – these records are the most recent found in the house.
- At this point, the malaise and weariness that has been afflicting everybody has become more intense as they get deeper into the town. Everybody but Rassimohn is finding it hard to even summon up the energy necessary to stay on full alert.
The Blackforge Home
- Despite his weariness, Hamish is now very eager to get to his family’s home nearby. It turns out that the Blackforge home, a large, fine home very near the Tower of the Ancestors on the highest tier of Hammerfast, is one of the two with smoke still coming from the chimney. Hamish leads the party into the house, coming back to the home he left nearly 60 years ago. Much of it is as he remembers it, but despite repeated calls, there are no signs of life.
- The ground floor is searched and, while back in the private chambers once used by Hamish’s father, a scrape than thump is heard on the ceiling above. Something is moving upstairs!
- Hamish and the party charges up the circular staircase and back to the arcane laboratory on the upper floor, where the sound came from. There, they see a shocking sight: Kedrun Blackforge, finely dressed in deep purple and gold robes is kneeling before a black, spectral dwarven warrior with aethyric fog rolling off of it. The spectral warrior, glowing with a faint bluish light, has one hand placed on Kedrun’s forehead and Kedrun is transfixed, unable to move. When the party bursts in, the spectre turns and raises its other hand and speak with a crowd of voices: “Come no closer, outsiders. Do not interfere with the work I am compelled to complete. A debt is owed and I must see that it is paid in full.”
- Despite the words of warning, the party’s pent up fear and rage takes hold and they charge forward in an attempt to save Kedrun’s life. With a pulse of magical energy, the spirit sends Kedrun flying backwards like a rag doll, his head slamming hard against the stone wall and he slumps to the floor. The spectre then summons a black hammer into its hand and turns to engage the party!.