A Kind of Homecoming

An Interlude in Hammerfast
  • After Garuk falls, Theros’s arrows protruding from his skull, the party regathers its strength and takes a look around. Kedrun has survived the fight as well, though he suffers fairly serious wounds from the conflict and was unable to defend himself with his magic.
  • As the party takes a look around the mausoleum, Kedrun makes his way to the Well of Souls. Hamish and a few of the others shout out at him to stop, but are unable to prevent him from approaching and laying his hands on the heavily carved white marble that was used to form its sides. As he does so, a look of anguish on his face, he speaks a single word and a brilliant pillar of bluish-white light bursts from the depths of the Well, bathing the entire room with its cold white radience. Kedrun turns his head, tears streaming down this face, and speaks, shouting over the roaring of the magical energies now streaming from the Well.

“I’m sorry, brother. I’m sorry for everything I did and participated in – we did it in ignorance and pride. This is the only way I know how to start to make things right. Be well, brother. Maybe someday you’ll be able to forgive me.”

  • With that, Kedrun turns back to the Well and begins to chant. Within a few moments, the pillar of light flares in a huge burst, dazing everybody, and then disappears. Blinking in the now near-darkness of the Temple, the party sees that the six thrones arrayed on either side of the well are now occupied by dwarven spirits. He stands, and as he does so, a host of spirits materialize in the air behind him, crowding around, before floating down to the floor below where the party stands, still somewhat dazed. Realization begins to dawn on them that the throbbing, draining aura of the Well has faded to a faint sense of weakness. Something has definitely changed.
  • The lead spirit, a noble dwarf of some stature, speaks.

“I am Thane Ragnar Heartthew, or I was in life. I led the Council of Elders down the path the led to the construction of the Well of Souls and the blame for its presence lays heavily upon me. By sacrificing himself, Kedrun Blackforge has managed to sever the ties that bind the Well to He whose magics power it and who is the one that we of Hammerfast have indavertantly served these many years. Because of this, the Well is greatly reduced and it no longer feeds the souls of our revered ancestors to the Witch King, these arrayed with me are all that survive. We have much to atone for. I have much to atone for. For that reason we lend ourselves to your service in standing against the Witch King. Our spirits will not rest until we have seen him crush and our wrongs righted. Thank you all for giving us this opportunity.”

  • With that, Thane Ragnar and the other spirits fade into the aethyr and the party finds itself alone again…almost.
  • As the spirits depart, Hamish senses and new presence in the spirit realm nearby. A voice whispers in his ear “I have not left yet either, my brother. I will remain with you and see this task through to the end. Zhengyi will pay and my wrongs will be righted before I leave. No doubt, it will be like old times, brother.” It seems that Hamish’s brother Kedrun has remained, bound to the task of defeating Zhengyi.
  • While the rest of the party stands near the now silent Well of Souls and the spirits of Hammerfasts’ ancestors, Jai lingers near the entrance to the Temple of the Ancestors and, as the spirits depart, he hears voices and footsteps echoing down the polished stone corridor leading back to the surface. He and Theros take up guard positions near the door and hiss warnings to theerest of the party. Theros’s keen ears pick up that the voices are speaking the dwarven language with a clear Hammerfast accent and that there are many of them. Soon, torches are seen and a band of ragged, haggard dwarves come down the corridor and are challenged by Theros, Jai, and the rest of the party as they draw nearer.
  • At the head of the group of dwarves (about two dozen in all), is a well armed and armored soldier bearing the heraldry of Hammerfast. After some quick discussion between the two groups, it is learned that this is Captain Durek Orcsplitter, the highest ranked surviving dwarf in Hammerfast and with him are the last survivors of the broken town. After the events in the Temple are retold to the Hammerfastian dwarves, the two groups return together to the surface. There, Durek brings the party to a small refugee camp tucked against the far northern wall of the city. There, about 50 dwarves have gathered and, as the evening wears on, more dazed, half-starved dwarves stumble into the encampment. By the next morning, nearly 150 survivors have gathered. They are the remnants of the town that once boasted a population of over a thousand.
  • As the party gets some much needed rest and lends what aid they can to the survivors, Durek does his best to update them on the events that have transpired in Hammerfast. As best he knows Garuk was somehow able to take control of the Well of Souls and use its power to summon a malaise over the entire town. Very few were able to resist and they returned to their homes while spirits of vengeance, the very ancestors of Hammerfast, stalked the streets slaying everybody. This continued for days as nearly all the dwarves succombed to the spell Garuk was weaving with the Well. In addition, a few days ago a mighty burst of power came from the Well and brought forth a host of the walking dead. They marched away to the west and Durek fears for the safety of Fallcrest, as it stands directly in the path of the undead army.
  • More to come: News of Fallcrest
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Garuk Meets His End
  • Armed with the information learned from Kedrun’s story, the party quickly leaves the Blackforge family home intent on hunting down Garuk. Kedrun reveals that Garuk is in the great Temple of the Ancestors underneath the hilltop Hammerfast is built upon. Before leaving the home, Kedrun also gives each party member a talisman that will shield them from the energy draining aura of the Well of Souls that is permeating the city. The Well itself was built in the Temple and the aura will be at its strongest there and without the protective wards built into the talismans, the party would be hard pressed to last long so close to the Well.
  • Kedrun and Hamish lead the party back across the deserted city and up the last flights of wide steps that lead up to a pair of wide, ornate bronze doors doors that stand ajar across the entrance to the Temple of the Ancestors in Hammerfast. The hallway beyond is encased entirely in polished dark granite and black marble and pairs of copper and bronze lanterns are suspended from the ceiling. Many flights of steps lead down, deeper and lower into the hillside. Though many of the oil lanterns have burned out, some still cast a brilliant glow along the hallway as Kedrun and Hamish lead the way along the corridor.
  • At the end, deep inside the hill, stands another set of ornate bronze doors, slightly ajar. Beyond is a huge mausaleum encased entirely in polished marble and granite. The floor is covered with flagstoned graves markers, many of which have been shattered with pieces of stone littering the floor. The far end of the mausaleum is a large raised area, upon which stands a huge white marble font, nearly 10 feet across and 6 feet high. The marble is carved with figures of dwarves and up from its depths radiates a brilliant blueish white glow that, along with the bronze laterns standing around the room, illuminates the huge chamber. Behind the font sit seven thrones of carved granite. “Behold,” says Kedrun. “The Well of Souls.”
  • The party advances into the room, spreading out as they go. As they do, a person dressed in worn red robes with numerous pouches and bags hanging from belts and bandoliers, steps out from behind the Well of Souls. The ornate black eyepatch over his left eye reveals his identity: Garuk One-Eye.

“My, my, but you are persistant, aren’t you? And you’ve brought a little lap dog with you – I’ll admit that I’m surprised to see you alive, Kedrun. It’s pointless now, you know. The end of this little game has come. My master’s plan has already been put in motion and, thanks to the secrets the little bird Cygnet sang for us even Argent will fall. So you see, your foolish little sing-song network is about to end. The only part I’m sad about is that you won’t be here to see it all.”

Garuk One-Eye 2,500xp
Fire Archon 600xp
4 Dread Archers 1,200xp
Zombie & Skeleton minions
Total XP 4,300xp
Experience point record
  • With that said, Elestrynna, never one for patience, unleashes a barrage of magical force on Gaurk. With a curse, he stumbles back and places his hand on the Well. He spits out a string of arcane words and the Well pulses with energy. Emerging from the gaping holes of the shattered graves set in the floor and the walls comes wave upon wave of skeletal dwarven warriors! But Garuk is not done yet, with a quick gesture, he teleports down to the floor of the room and raises his arms, tearing open holes in the air and bringing forth a swarm of flaming, magma creatures that immediately attack the party. The fight is on!
  • The titanic struggle rages for what seems like an eternity as Garuk continues to summon creatures of elemental fire and send them at the party. Spitting arcane words and summoning the power of the Well, he brings forth waves of undead dwarven warriors in an attempt to crush the party under the sheer weight of attackers. But in the end, it comes to nothing. Though battered, bruised, and at the end of their strength, the party prevails as Theros drives a pair of arrows through Garuk’s head, ending the life of the Red Wizard. With his death, the Well lapses into quiesence and the last of the elementals are wrenched back to the Elemental Chaos. The fight for Hammerfast is over.
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Kedrun Reveals the Truth
The Spirit of Vengeance 2,500xp
Kedrun skill challenge/quest 1,500xp
Total XP 4,000xp
Experience point record

“Do not hinder me, newcomers. I am bound by unbreakable bonds to punish the Oathbreaker. The price that was agreed upon must be paid and none can stand in my way. Begone before I must destroy you.”

  • With these words, spoken in a voice that sounds as if a chorus of dwarven voices are speaking at once, the ghostly dwarven warrior with his glittering black hammer attacks. His first action is to to send Kedrun flying across the room, where he slams into the stone wall and collapses, unconcious. The party engages the spirit and a fight ensues.

“The debt must be paid. The bargain was broken and I am bound to exact vengeance and collect the price that was agreed upon.”

  • These are the last words of the spirit as the repeated attacks of the party scatter its energies and, finally, destroy it.
  • Sharat and the rest of the party check on Kedrun Blackforge, who recovers well enough to stand. The meeting between Hamish and his brother, after over 60 years of separation, is tense. Accusations fly as the party and Hamish demand answers from Kedrun on what has happened in Hammerfast, what the Spirit was talking about, and what he may know of the events of three nights ago that led to the raising of an undead army at the Fiveleague House. Kedrun is reluctant to speak, but Jai’s fist, Hamish’s presence, and Elestrynna’s burning intensity wear away his resolve and he cracks, beginning to speak.
  • Meanwhile, Rassimohn is oddly silent and distracted. Beads of sweat form on his brow and he casts strangely murderous glances at Kedrun. In his mind, Vigilence is hammering him with intense emotions. “Slay him!”, it says. “He is a slave to the Evil One! Punish him!”. Rassimohn fights against the strong emotions throbbing in his skull and adds some venomous questions to the bevvy of demands the party makes of Kedrun.
  • Kedrun, finally broken as the party hammers with with questions, threats, and warnings, speaks:

“It all started about a century ago, during the Orc Wars. We in Hammerfast knew that the Nentir Vale didn’t stand a chance against Warchief Zoggrim’s horde that was already burning and pillaging the villages closest to the Giantspires. King Gareth in Heliogabalus was still recovering from the uprising in Vaasa and was in no position to send aid to the eastern marches. The Vale and everybody in it was doomed. It was in those dark times that Garuk first came before us. He approached the Council of Elders and we listened as he told us that there was a way for us to call upon the strength of our ancestors, and in our desperation, the Council listened to him. Oh, there were arguments and opposition, but Garuk had won Thane Ragnar’s ear and the Well of Souls was built.”

“What fools we were. Our own father, Hamish, stood against this, but he was shouted down. Fear of the orcs made the Council short-sited, and the consequences of the bargain the Thane struck with Garuk were put off to deal with another day. The Well gave us power. Hamish, you know what happened next. Our ancestors were encouraged to submit and be bound by the well, transforming their aid into pure magical force that the Council could channel. With this newfound power, Hammerfast was able to unite the armies of the Nentir Vale and bring the orc horde to a great battle near where the Fiveleague House is today. We won. The Vale was saved. But at what cost? We wouldn’t fully understand the cost until much, much later. But I see now that that is exactly what Garuk had planned all along, and we were but tools for him and his dark master.”

  • Kedrun lapses into silence. Questions fly: “Garuk?! What is the Well of Souls? What bargains? Dark master?” The party must know more, so Kedrun, his eyes misting with tears and his face tortured, takes a shuddering breath and begins to speak again.

“What came next was inevitable. I see that now. Each of us did in our own time, even Thane Ragnar, I think. With Zoggrim and his orcs destroyed, the Vale needed to rebuild, and since Hammerfast had not been sacked by the orcs as much of the rest of the Vale had, we were the natural leaders. We spent the energies of our ancestors in this way, then. Rebuilding and recovering from the orcs. But as time went on, we gained less and less power from the Well and more and more ancestor spirits were needed to feed its dark energies. Where once we asked our ancestors to submit themselves to its bonds, the Council instead began to drive them to do so. As the decades went by, the Council grew dependant on the Well and its power and more and more ancestors were sent into its depths to provide power for the Council to use. To maintain Hammerfast’s position in the Vale, to aid in the rebuilding, to help our people. This is what we told ourselves. It must be done. We have no choice.”

“Eventually, they were gone. All of our ancestors had been made to submit to the Well and our power waned. That was when my apprentice, Alrik Uthorsson, began to divine the true nature of the Well, Garuk, and what our eventual fate would be. Alrik came to me and explained everything, but I would not listen. I was too deluded and stubborn. So he settled on a course of action that he believed was our only hope, and when I opposed him, he struck me down. What did he suspect, you ask? He suspected that Garuk was a servant of the Witch King. Zhengyi. And that the Well was a conduit feeding him power, siphoning off the spiritual energies of our own ancestors to feed the lich himself. Insanity! Madness! How could this be true? But I learned later, after you restored me in Fallcrest and I returned to Hammerfast, that…that…that he was right. Alrik was right. By our fear and arrogance, we, Hammerfast, the Council of Elders, have become unwitting servants of the Witch King Zhengyi.”

  • A stunned silence falls upon the room as Kedrun quietly sobs the name of the Witch King, Zhengyi. He that was slain over 120 years ago by good king Gareth Dragonsbane and his band of allies. How could this be true?
  • But Kedrun has one more thing to say as the party attempts to process his story: “Garuk has returned. He’s here now, at the Well of Souls itself, to complete the devilish cycle and end Hammerfast and, for all I know, the Nentir Vale itself.”
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Debts are paid in Hammerfast

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!.
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Scouring of the Fiveleague House
Various Zombie minions 500xp
Saved Nikiti Dag Nost 500xp
Saved Barton and Duervar 400xp
Saved Hama Trollender 600xp
Total XP 2000xp
Experience point record
  • After convincing Tego that it is best if he waits with the horses with Theros and Cygnet, the party cautiously enters the stables of the Fiveleague House, the same door Tego fled from a short while ago. The stables are dark, the stench of blood and corruption heavy in the air. The moonlight streaming in from the open door illuminates a number of corpses lying amongst the hay. Elestrynna leads the way and as she gets further in, she hears the sound of hay rustling in the hay loft. Something may be alive up there.
  • The entire party enters the stable and Sharat pauses to examine one of the eviscerated corpses. He carefully pokes at the corpse and notes with some detachment that the entrails are throbbing with a kind of pulse. “Uh…guys. Something’s not right here…” As he steps back, gathering the will of his gods to him, the entrails themselves leap out and grab his boot in a crushing grip. The corpse opens its eyes and begins to crawl towards him as he stumbles back, bringing his massive fullblade into a guard position. The other corpses also leap up to the attack!
  • After the short, savage fight, Jai notices a face peering down from the hayloft at the conflict. It is bald, round, tatooed, and has long luxuruious mustaches, now covered in hay. The party beckons the squat, round man down and he boisterously introduces himself. “I am Nikiti Dag Nost! Merchant! And I, my friends, am glad to be alive and very much in your debt! You are heroes!”
  • The party quickly hushes the giddy Nikiti and sends him out the door to the baggage train before turning to push deeper into the depths of the dark inn. Now fully on their guard, the group fights its way down the hall lined with rooms, smashing zombies as they go.
  • Finally, nearing the kitchens, Hamish hears sounds of a fight taking place in the cellar and he, Elestrynna, and Sharat rush forward. Jai, though, hears a solid thump! from up the nearby steps and pauses to listen closer. Rassimohn steps up and in a strong, commanding voice calls up “If anybody is up there, speak now!” A muffled cry comes back: “I’m up here! HALP!!!”
  • Elestrynna and Hamish battle through the crowd of zombies in the cellar to save the innkeeper Barton and Hamish’s surviving companion, Duervar. The second companion, Urvar, lies dead at their feet, badly mauled by zombies. A well placed shock sphere ends the fight (though Hamish gets a bit toasted in the process) and the Hamish sadly greets Duervar. Barton, the innkeeper, thanks the two for the rescue.
  • Meanwhile, Jai, Rassimohn, and Sharat rush upstairs to save the survivor up above. Jai sees a crowd of zombies responding to the cries for help and rushes to the attack with the others in support. Unfortunately, Jai stumbles on the acidic slime and blood he’s coated in and only manages to get his bastard sword stuck in the railing. Sharat, though, calls upon the radience of Oghma yet again and blasts most the zombies to dust as Rassimohn rushes past and decapitates another corpse. The barred door at the end of the hall, though, is battered down by the last zombie and the calls for help turn to strangled cries of pain.
  • Throwing caution to the wind, Sharat rushes down the hall and through the crumbled wall in the adjacent room and, just in the nick of time, channels his gods’ divine powers to reknit the torn flesh of a dwarf as the zombie tears into him. Jai rushes in and quickly finishes off the last zombie as the dazed dwarf, who was very nearly dead, collapses.

The Aftermath

  • The rest of the inn is cleared of zombies. Cygnet and the others, who have been waiting hidden in the woods, are brought back to the smashed inn. The decision is made to rest for the remainder of the night and making the next move. Everybody gets to work cleaning up the Fiveleague House as best they can. Corpses are stacked in a pyre in front of the inn, Barton searches and, sadly, finds the bodies of his wife and daughter. Sharat and Elestrynna preserve the bodies of Urvar and Barton’s wife and child with a ritual, hoping to perhaps find a priest willing and able to resurrect them later.
  • During the evening, the party learns more of Nikiti Dag Nost. He is a boistrous fellow, a Nar fur trader on a trip to Uthmere and Ilmwatch. His first wife, who happens to be the sister of the Dag Nost tribe’s chieftain, is quite angry with him for chasing a younger woman in his village so he is happy to be away right now. He bigs the party to take their pick of the furs he carries with him as a way of thanking them and makes them promise to visit him should they find themselves in the Dag Nost tribe’s territory in Narfell.
Loot
1 large Star Ruby worth 1,500 gp
1 large Fire Opal worth 1,300 gp
1 Tawny Orl worth 850 gp
8 polished Damaran Bloodstones worth a total of 400 gp
Total of 4050 GP
  • Hama, the dwarf saved by Sharat’s quick healing spell, is Tego’s brother. Both are successful arms and armor merchants from Helgabal, out in the Nentir Vale selling their goods to Lord Protector Markelhay and Hammerfast. They also have business interests (mines) in the Barony of Bloodstone. Hama, in particular, is very thankful for Sharat saving his life and offers up some prime gems to add to the small pile recovered from the dead bodies of the dwarven undead. The brothers give some news of Hammerfast, telling of the city being very depressed and downright funereal, and pledge their support to the party. “Visit us in Helgabal if you come that way, so we can thank you properly”, says Hama before the two turn in for the night.
  • The party then decides on their next course of action: They will ride quickly to Hammerfast and attempt to stop the undead horde marching in the direction of Fallcrest from there. The theory being that magical energies that created the horde came from there, so there is where they will put a stop to it. The main party will go. Cygnet will stay with Barton at the Fiveleague House to await their return. Cygnet is not happy, but acquiesces when Rassimohn asks her to do so and his concern for her welfare appears to thaw her icy demeanor towards him…slightly. With that, everybody gets some much needed rest.

On to Hammerfast

  • The next morning, after only a few short hours of rest, the party rises and heads out to Hammerfast. A quick detour is made to examine the monument on the way. There, they see the tall granite obolisk perched atop a large mound of earth sitting in the middle of a somewhat overgrown clearing. The earth has been churned to mud, pushed up from beneath as the undead corpses animated and marched off to the west. There is a clear path of broken underbrush leading, unerringly, towards Fallcrest. Concern etched deeply on their faces, the party turns east and begins their hard ride to Hammerfast.
  • The party makes good time, riding through the last of the Dunwood along the Thane’s Road, which will take them to Hammerfast. The road emerges from the woods and onto a long causway that cuts across the miles of swampy bottomland that lies just to the west of Hammerfast. In winter, this is permafrost, but in the midst of summer it has turned to a boggy, mosquito-infested swamp, though the well maintained Thane’s Road makes the travel easy. The Dawnforge Mountains and Hammerfast should be visible before midday.
  • About two hours (10 miles or so) west of Hammerfast, Elestrynna and Hamish bark out a word of warning. Their senses, well attuned to arcane energies, have noticed a subtle shifting of energies. The party, confused, but heeding the warning, reigns in their lathered mounts. With a quick scan, the two arcanists locate the source of their concern a short ways off. Hovering high in a thicket of aspen trees is glistening silver orb, fait arcane energies wisping off of it. “We’re being watched” says Hamish grimly. At the sight of the silvery orb, one name springs into mind: Garuk One-Eye, the Red Wizard.
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They Have a Corpse Ogre
Corpse Ogre 800xp
Dwarf Rot Grub Zombies (2) 700xp
Dwarf Zombie Throngs (2) 600xp
Dwarf Undead Archers(2) 600xp
Total XP 2700xp
Experience point record
  • Tego flees from the corpse ogre as Theros slams arrow after arrow into it, crippling it and slowing it down dramatically. The ogre continues to forge ahead, though, while the rest of the zombies engage the party. Tego ends up flat on his belly behind a fallen tree, next to Elestrynna. His closest call came from the throng of zombies that nearly ripped his head off as he ran.
  • As the corpse ogre and the rest of the zombies finally fall into piles of rotting flesh and bones, a massive pulse of energy blasts out from about a half mile away near the area where the dwarfish monument is built. Everybody rocks back as the energy slowly expands outward, passing over the battlefield and the recently slain undead dwarfs. As the wave passes over the rapidly decomposing corpses, they begin to reassemble themselves and shamble back to their feet. Now, though, the former confusion and pain that was obvious in their dead faces has been replaced with a look of intent. The reanimated corpses ignore the party and begin shambling purposefully to the west…towards Fallcrest!
  • In the woods to the southeast, a pale blue-white glow radiates outward from the dense forest. It also moves slowly to the west – likely a large band of undead are making their way through the forest.
  • Elestrynna, uses her acute arcane senses to notice that there is a massive amount of residual arcane energy lingering in the air above the forest to the southeast. Its trail, practically a contrail, leads due east in the direction of Hammerfast. She speculates that the energy is the remains of a virtual hammer-blow of magic that keyed the pulse wave of energy moments ago. As she spreads the word, the party realizes that since Hammerfast is the only point of civilization east of the Fiveleague House, it likely came from there. What is going on?
  • Before decisions can be made, the battle fatigued party hears a hoarse cry from within the dark inn. Somebody is still alive in there! “My brother!” shouts, Tego, his face white with fear and streaked with crusted blood, sweat, and dirt. “Your brother?” replies Rassimohn. “Yes. He’s, he’s still in there. I left him to go find help. You’ve got to go help him get out!” The party exchanges another set of glances, shoulders their weapons, and heads quickly towards the dark, ruined shape of the Fiveleague House.
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Undead at the Fiveleague House
Forgewraith 700xp
Pale Reavers (4) 800xp
Miner Battle Wight (3) 1200xp
Hound Spirits (8) 150xp
Total XP 2850xp
Experience point record
  • After a short, sharp fight with the undead dwarven soldiers, the party takes stock of the situation and makes some quick introductions to the newcomer. Elestrynna, Hamish and Sharat each examine the rapidly decomposing bodies of the undead dwarven warriors and each comes to the conclusion that these dwarves bear arms and armor that dates back to the time of the Orc Wars, nearly 100 years ago. They look at each other, their concern obvious.
  • Hamish thanks the party for their assistance before speaking up. “I still have at least two companions still trapped in the Fiveleague House, I will not abandon them.” The party is busy welcoming Trek back into the fold, but Sharat and Jai both turn and look at Hamish, unspoken questions on their faces. “Perhaps you should fill us in on what’s going on around here.” says Rassimohn.
  • Hamish and Trek tell the story of what has happened at the Fiveleague House, how the inn was overrun by spectral dwarven warriors, how Hamish’s two companions were last seen beating a fighting retreat back towards the inn’s kitchens. The disappointment is tangible as the party realizes that the hot food, dry beds, and cold beer that the Fiveleague House promised will not be a part of this evening’s plans. Sharat nods quickly, “Then we should press on. There may be others still trapped in the inn and I’ll not abandon them to their fate.” Jai puts a stong hand on Sharat’s shoulder and nods in agreement. Wounds are quickly bandaged as Cygnet leads the horses forward and, after answering the concerned girl’s questions, the party sets off at a rapid pace and quickly travels the mile between them and the inn.
  • A grim sight awaits them. The Fiveleague House, a large, walled inn stands alongside the Thane’s Road, about a day’s journey from Hammerfast. It is normally a busy place, sitting on a low rise beside the road in a clearing carved out of the thick trees of the Dunwood. But tonight it is a different place: the inn is dark, its tall glass windows shattered and the front gate sundered. A portion of the main entrance has collapsed, bringing a small section of the greatroom’s wall with it. Only one window in the back of the inn glows with a yellow light. A latern perhaps? Could there still be survivors within? Wandering aimlessly about the mucky ground in front of the inn are packs of spectral dwarven warriors. They seem confused, dazed, and unsure of their own actions and they wander about the field, howling and cursing in a strange, strangled language.
  • Among the undead dwarven warriors wanders a far more sinister form. It is a massive creature molded from flesh, body parts, and other gobbets of unknown materials. It drips a clear gelatinous fluid and “steams” with a pale blue-white light in the chill night air. It stands about 8 feet tall and is mostly humanoid in form. Elestrynna sets her jaw and the other soldiers look grim. “A Corpse Ogre, I think?” asks Rassimohn. “Not been seen in these parts since the damned Witch King’s armies were sundered by King Gareth.” Elestrynna nods sharply. She knows that this terrible undead golem is a hallmark of the Witch King Zhengyi himself – no other necromancers in Faerun are known to have created them. She fears the implications of this beast’s presence.
  • Beyond the walls of the Fiveleague House, to the southeast, a blue-white glow emanates from the trees. Those of the party that have travelled these parts of the Nentir Vale know that this is where the grand monument built to commemorate the final battle of the Orc Wars stands. Hamish and Trek recall that this is the direction that the first attackers came from earlier this night. The party debates their course of action: check the inn for survivors or press on to the monument and likely attack the source of this event.
  • While the party debates, a figure emerges from the stable doors on the front of the inn. It is short, wide, and heavily bearded – likely a dwarf. It creeps through the darkness, heading right towards the edge of the forest where the party is concealed. For a few moments, the undead warriors do not notice the sneaking figure, but then one spots it and lets out a strangled shout. The rest, including the corpse ogre, turn as the dwarf begins to sprint, frantically, towards the trees. Hamish and Trek recognize him as Tego Trollender, a merchant that was expelled from Hammerfast and was biding his time at the Fiveleague House.
  • Jai growls, “Let’s go” and draws his bastard sword, heading quickly in the direction of the fleeing dwarf. It is clear that Tego will not make the trees before the undead catch him unless the party helps. The rest of the party steels themselves and set off after Jai…
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Welcome to the Fiveleague House
Leaving Nenlast
  • The road south from Nenlast is broken and in bad repair, making the journey far more difficult that was hoped. Of course, it’s downright luxurious compared to last few weeks of trekking through the foothills of the Giantspires, so spirits are high. After passing the handful of farms and crofts outside of Nenlast, no other travellers are seen on the road and the party finds itself alone with its thoughts.
  • Cygnet is withdrawn and spends much of her time riding quietly, staying near her father’s body. Theros is engrossed with his work forming the length of wood recovered from the tree damaged by elemental energies. The rest of the party passes the time in their own way, enjoying the calm and peacefulness of the journey.
  • The night before arriving at the Fiveleague House, Cygnet approaches Sharat and begins to ask him of his own past – of the death of his wife & child, and his path to becoming a warrior of Oghma and Ilmater. She very much wishes to avoid becoming a victim again, as she did before, and Sharat sees that she bears fresh and raw emotional scars from being possessed by the “spark”. He spends the time with her, seeking to guide and control her intense emotions and agrees to help her come to grips with her situation, both in a martial and a spiritual way.
  • After the conversation with Sharat, Cygnet returns to her bedroll, but does not fall asleep immediately. Elestrynna, who sits closest to her, meditating as she often does during the night, notices Cygnet pull a small talisman from around her neck, where it is secured by a delicate silver chain. With a deep shock, Elestrynna sees that it is a piece of scrimshaw – a bone carved into the shape of the Tower of Magic in Myth Drannor superimposed over an oak tree. The symbol is that of her family and she remembers that a talisman exactly like this one was carved for her brother, Galrynnod, by her father.
  • Elestrynna wakes from her meditation and presses Cygnet for information. “Where did you get this talisman, child?”, she asks. Cygnet looks at it and says “From my uncle Gal. He gave it to me when I was just a kid. Well, he’s not really my uncle, just a good friend of my father’s.” Stunned, Elestrynna pauses for a moment. “Gal?”, she asks. “Galrynnod?” Cygnet nods, “Yes. Do you know him? You do look an awful lot like him, but I don’t know any other eladrin, so I might be wrong.” Elestrynna swallows. “Galrynnod is my brother.”
  • After questioning Cygnet further, Elestrynna learns that Galrynnod, her brother, has been a long time friend of Markus’s and helps the Spysong Network as well. He was last seen in Nenlast about two years ago and Elestrynna struggles to understand why her brother has not revealed himself to her when she has been so close for so long. She swears to Cygnet that her father, Markus, will be raised again, knowing that this man is her best link to finding her brother after all these years.
At the Fiveleague House
  • About two days earlier, Trek arrives at the Fiveleague House. The circumstances of his arrival are, as of yet, a mystery, but he arrives with a purpose. Upon arriving, he finds the inn quite crowded, though he does secure a room from the dwarven innkeeper and settles in to wait. He learns that the gates of Hammerfast were closed about three weeks ago and all non-residents were expelled, so many merchants and visitors are waiting at the Fiveleague House, hoping to return when the city’s gates reopen.
  • On the first night following his arrival, Trek meets a dwarf by the name of Hamish Blackforge, a merchant formerly from Hammerfast that has spent the last few decades travelling the lands around the Vilhon Reach (Chondath and Turmish) in the southern reaches of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Hamish isn’t exactly clear why he’s decided to return now, but he and a small retinue of other dwarves have recenly arrived at the Fiveleague House and are deciding their next course of action given the situation in Hammerfast.
  • The next night, while relaxing in the crowded bar, a terrible deed transpires. The stable boy, a stout young lad, stumbles into the room from the outside, his face and torso badly mauled, and collapses in a pool of his own blood. Behind him stands a cadaverous, spectral hound…chewing on a gobbet of flesh torn from the poor lad. At that moment, the tall glass windows shatter and leaping in through the openings come a flood of similar hounds and both decomposing and spectral dwarven warriors. The scene becomes one of complete chaos as patrons are hacked down and others frantically attempt to defend themselves from the onslaught.
  • Hamish and Trek are forced to retreat out the broken front window and Hamish last sees his two surviving companions being forced back down the hall towards the inn’s kitchens. Unable to fight their way through the hoard of undead dwarves, Hamish and Trek flee to the north while more dwarves pour out of the forest towards the Fiveleague House. Trek notes that most of the undead are coming from an old monument marking a massive battle between the dwarves of Hammerfast and the orcish army during the Orc Wars 100 years ago.
  • After fleeing for almost a mile, Hamish and Trek stop to catch their breaths and take stock of the situation. But they are given little time to rest before they are attacked by a pack of hounds!
The Party is Rejoined!
  • The party coming from Nenlast pushes on into the night, looking forward to warm beds and food at the Fiveleague House. Ominously, the peaceful night air is shattered by the choking bark of many baying hounds. The seasoned team veterans look around at each other, knowing that those warm beds may not be there for them tonight, and loosen their weapons in their sheathes. Riding now with a bit more urgency, they come upon a battle already in progress. A dwarven warrior slings spells at a pack of ghostly, cadaverous hounds while the familiar figure of a halfling twists and tumbles around another pack of hounds, daggers flashing in the moonlight. Trek? TREK? Despite their shock, the party rushes into the fight, quickly dispatching the hounds.
  • Before greetings can even be made, more undead dwarven warriors emerge from the darks stands of trees and the fight starts up once again!
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A Nenlast Homecoming Aftermath
  • The remaining elementals, many bearing hideous scars where they were touched by the brilliance of the Rod of Seven Parts, flee towards an elemental cyclone that has been forming near the burning farmhouse. Within it swirl deluges of water, glowing hot lava, arcing, dancing lighting, and massive chunks of earth and rock. The area around it is not safe as ice, magma, and rock are flung from the whirlwind. The funnel itself rapidly grows until it is larger than the huge elm tree that sits half within the swirl. One by one, the elemental creatures attempt to disengage and run to the cyclone. Only one, a massive flamespiker, manages to make it – the others are cut down by the party as they flee – and it hurls itself into the maeltrom and disappears.
  • The party shrinks back from the fury of the swirling elemental gate (for that is what it is) shielding their eyes from the brilliant bursts of lighting and the heat coming from the gouts of magma that lurk within. From the chaotic mess, though, a form takes shape. An eye? Part of a huge face forms within the swirling mote. The eye is lidded, only partly awake, though the massive burning pupil attempts to focus on them. Sounding like the bass groan of tons of rock grinding against themselves, a word forms: “Piiiiiirrraaaaannnnoooooth” Then, as quickly as it formed, the eye is again swallowed by the chaos and the towering maelstrom collapses in on itself and is gone.
  • A sudden hush falls upon the ruined farm. Boulders of cooling lava flung from the whirlwind smolder in the dirt next to huge chunks of melting ice and muddy pools of water. Markus’s farmhouse is engulfed in flames and Cygnet sobs quietly in the barn, her elemental possesser driven from her by Sharat and Rassimohn. The fight is over. The party has managed to survive…somehow…perhaps thanks entirely to the massive power locked within the Rod of Seven Parts.
  • A new name has been revealed: Piranoth. Elestrynna identifies Piranoth as one of the primordials, powerful gods of the elements that were banished long before Faerun was even created.
  • Elestrynna throws up her flame shield and plunges into the burning house. There she finds the knife Cygnet carried with her covered in charred blood. Markus lies on his bed, his throat slit while he slept, murdered by his possessed daughter. Elestrynna gathers the body and a strangely unburned ivory figurine of a goat (magical), and pulls him from the house. She makes his body safe with her Gentle Repose ritual while Cygnet sobs hysterically.
  • Theros is drawn to the tree that was shattered by the elemental maelstrom, its trunk is split nearly in two and it leans heavily to one side. The clean, white heartwood smolders with a constantly shifting array of elemental effects: ice, water, heat, smoke, and on and on, but the wood is not consumed. Clearly, the wood has been impregnated with some of the raw elemental forces while the gate stood open. He ponders its potential for just a moment before fetching Markus’s woodcutting tools and setting to work, harvesting the wood to build a bow from.
  • Once she has calmed down, Cygnet reveals that she was possessed by an elemental creature and forced to murder her father and set the house aflame. The elemental creature was put into her by an imperious lady dressed in grey robes who was attended by elementals and spoke of going to Hammerfast when she had finished in Nenlast! It was the elemental that compelled her to murder Markus (her father) in his sleep and lead the characters into the ambush.
Rewards, Gear, & Loot
The Ivory Goat of Travail
Components for a +2 bow
1900 GP
  • Elestrynna recovers a large crystal, damaged by the fire, which Cygnet indicates was used by her father to communicate with others in the Spysong Network. The crystal, however, does not work. In the ashes of the burned farmhouse, she also finds a small figure of a goat carved from ivory. Quick inspection and analysis indicates that it is one of the rare Figurines of Wonderous Power – the Ivory Goat of Travail.
  • Theros takes with him a length of the strange elemental-infused elm wood and begins to craft a longbow stave from it.
Major Quest Reward XP 1250xp
  • After getting some badly, badly needed rest, the party sets off again, leaving the burned farmstead and heading for Hammerfast, unsure of what they might find. The first stop will be the Fiveleague House, a roadside inn that sits on the Thane’s Road (the main east-west road in the Nentir Vale) exactly a day’s journey to the west of Hammerfast.
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