Monday, 24 February 2014

Session 61 - Hall of Echoing Screams 3/6/1481 DR

Dunstan's Account
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.
Alturnus 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…
At 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 you this!”.
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 raids...
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
Total: 3600+91000=94,600
Need 99,000 for 18th level

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