The group had just entered the secret passage towards the Dwarven
catacombs and already, Dunstan’s boots were stomping almost joyfully.
That feeling of re-connecting with his kind after such a long time away
from it never failed to lift his spirits. Something to be likened to a
good fresh mead after crossing a desert in full metal plate. Also, he
was so happy that such a precious landmark had been unearthed. Imagine
this: The shrine of Moradin and the final resting place of so many
legendary and noble Dwarves… A few hours ago, he was not even aware of
it, and now he was exploring its corridors, smelling the unrivalled
fragrance of a well-built cave, hearing his friends’ clunking armours
echoing on the carved stone of the arched walls, avidly reading the
illustrious Dwarven names engraved in the plates in front of each
cells…He could almost hear the clamours of his ancestors in an imaginary
banquet, the laughter of the plump Dwarven Ladies and the shock of the
wooden cups full of ale and mead... and it brought joy to his heart! If
he was not walking in front of the group, his friends could have seen
his beard uncovering a huge grin. But they probably have guessed his
joyous humour anyway: he was walking with a spring in his step like if a
spell of anti-gravity had been cast on his heavy armour.
had undertaken a titanic task with the restoration of this site and he
was carrying it out with a commendable constance and an heroic sense of
purpose. After many plundering raids by the Zhents, the tombs were in
tatters. And Alturnus took upon himself to come here day after day to
reassemble the bones of the dead, draw one more time the shrouds on the
corpses, salvage the personal items discarded by the Zhents and their
exclusive greed for gold, and recover the dignity that the deceased
earned many centuries ago.
Reflecting upon this, Dunstan’s mood
progressively took a slightly graver (no pun) tone. His enthusiasm felt
suddenly almost out of place and he found himself compelled to walk more
demurely, which for a fully armoured Dwarf of his corpulence and
demeanour, was almost an impossible feat.
The oppressing atmosphere
seemed to take its toll on his companions as well. Paelias and Jareth’s
banter was shockingly low-key and devoid of hedonistic innuendos and the
oppressive silence of the place was slowly enveloping them all…
that stage, Dunstan remembered the quick words muttered in confidence by the boat-dwarf Glasur’s buxom wife Freyja, right before they left the town council:
“I have seen some strange things in the catacombs… some people appear
there, but they are not among the living… Speak to no one that I told
After diving deeper into the catacombs, the group finally arrived at the final grotto: the shrine of Moradin...
The place was very simple. The most luxurious inserts had already been
stripped from the forge and from the anvil-shaped altar, and the
ceremonial hammer that should be expected in such a place was,
unsurprisingly, missing. But thanks to Alturnus’ devotion, large lumps
of coal were glowing with a fierce amber in the forge, perpetuating the
symbol of the omnipresence of Moradin. Finally, a gaping crack was
visible at the back of the grotto, presumably where the mysterious
kidnappers were coming from, in order to perpetrate their nightly
Dunstan stopped at the threshold of the carved grotto, a
bizarre feeling preventing him to walk any further. After all these
years of braving dangers, the rest of his companions stopped instantly
behind him, on alert for any signs of a threat… but to no avail.
Oblivious to being the only one able to observe this, Dunstan
distinguished an ethereal shape forming in front of the Altar of
Moradin. Barely visible at first, the smoky shape gained in density to
eventually incarnate a very pale and semi-transparent female elder
Dwarf, bowed towards the altar. In spite of the fainting colours, the
Mythril and Ithildin threads were clearly shining in the embroideries of
her robe, and a crown positioned on her white abundant hair was
glistening with gems of a size that Dunstan had only seen in precious
tapestries picturing the royals of Ammarindar.
Always prudent, he
chose to put a knee in the dusty floor of the grotto and lay his hammer
horizontally in front of him, the handle placed in the direction of his
shield-hand to show his peaceful intentions.
The crowned apparition
stood up and turned around towards Dunstan and his unsuspecting
companions. Her face was beautiful in spite of the age, with delicate
crows-feet framing her piercing blue eyes. As all elders, she sported a
tightly-braided white beard hanging well below her belt, ornate with
platinum and mythril rings alternated with precious pearls. She looked
at him with a soul-embracing gaze and smiled gently, before declaring:
- “I am Helmma, Queen of the Dwarven realm of Ammarindar.”
Recognising the legendary figure, Dunstan promptly planted his other knee in the ground, removed his helmet and bowed his head.
- “My name is Dunstan of the Ironforge clan, and these are my friends
and companions of adventure, from the Northwood manor. I am at your
service, Queen Helmma!” he nervously declaimed.
- “Your friends
cannot see me, I am afraid, nor they can hear me. For I have a mission
for you, young Dunstan, and for you only.”
- “I will do my best to grant any request your royal highness might have!” replied Dunstan.
- “I have been trapped in the plane of the living and I cannot join my
kind in the great hall of Moradin. All this because my sceptre was
stolen: The Sceptre of Ammarindar !”
She marked a brief pause before continuing:
- “Bring me back my Sceptre and you will free me from this curse. So I shall at last rest in peace...”
The spectral figure smiled kindly again but her eyes couldn’t hide a
deep sadness, before vanishing, leaving the room with only the glow of
ambers in the forge and a stunned Dunstan on his knees.
-”What is that circus and lonely muttering, Dunstan? Are you getting senile already?” joked Paelias.
-”As long as he is not peeing all over the place…” replied Lirael, referring to a previous ‘incident’ in a different shrine.
Grimlocks and Mindflayers and Umber Hulks and Minotaurs...
When the axe stings, when the dire wolf bites, when I'm feeling dazed..
I simply remember my favourite things...
And then I don't feel so Bloodied...
Quinn has necrotic flu left over from the Death Cyst, and retires to the local tavern for succour.
Group meets Town Council, Investigations in Adakmi questioning Stentorio Rivers, and others about the disappearances (to 3pm); Alturnus leads them into the Vaults of Splendarmorrn where Dunstan meets Queen Helmma's ghost at the Shrine of Moradin, she asks him to find the Sceptre of Ammarindar and place it on the altar shrine: 440 XP each
The Hall of Echoing Screams (total XP)
Feral Minotaur, level 16 elite brute - 2800
Umber Hulk, level 12 elite soldier - 1400
2 Mind Flayer Infiltrators, level 14 lurker - 2000
5 Grimlock Berserkers, level 13 brute - 4000
Commander Zaknoril, drow blademaster, level 13 elite skirmisher - 1600
Total: 11800/5= 2360 each
Watch Sergeant Marcus Dewarl killed by a mindflayer mind blast during the fight.
Return the Sceptre of Ammarindar to the Altar of Moradin, L21 minor quest: 800 XP each
Need 99,000 for 18th level