*An Army Looking For A Cause
With the demise of the Winter King the party’s attention falls upon the mysterious ice encased Dwarven temple and the keys required to unlock its secrets.
A battle with a tiefling, an ogre and a few blazing skeletons gains a key of fire, soon followed by the defeat of a white dragon, awoken from his slumber by a grab for the ice key hanging from his neck.
The fierce fight that follows proves most satisfactory for Bodin, who had become a little frustrated by the fact that so far he had only been playing Dungeons & . . .
The enemies dispatched by what has now become a formidable team, the temple is revealed as the party’s means of escape from the fast thawing dungeon – an ancient one-way portal powered by dwarven magic that leads to some unknown place.
Before the party are able to use it, however, there is the small matter of picking up Makaria and the elves, including Thorn’s sister, who have chosen to recupereate at the other end of the dungeon, with the small matter of the Winter King’s thawing and awakening army between them.
Despite some clever subterfuge by Thorn, creating an illusion of the Winter King to distract one force, and Glaudr disguising himself as the Winter King to distract another – a party of evil Duergar under the impression that it was time to carry out a longstanding plan to march on Hammerfast – it eventually dawns on the party’s enemies that there are too many chiefs and that something must be amiss – a point made obvious when Mordzan decides to bring the diplomatic maneuvering to an end by launching a flying kick at one of the duergar, decapitating him with the grace of Pele and Maradona rolled into one.
The usual chaos ensues with a hard fought battle putting an end to the Duergar’s plans as the party, reunited, wait for Thorn to activate the portal through which they pass through, finding themselves in some dank crypt – the style of which is recognised immediately by Bodin and Benedict as that common to the great Dwarven necropolis of Hammer fast.
What Bodin and Benedict have told you about Hammerfast, the Dwarven powerbase in the Nentir Vale, not all that far from Fallcrest
History of Hammerfast
History walks the streets of Hammerfast in the form of the dead, the dwarves and orcs who died in this place more than a century ago. They are now ghosts consigned to wander Hammerfast’s streets until the end of days. Hammerfast was once a necropolis, a collection of tombs where the dwarflords interred their people. As the dwarves’ wealth grew, their burial chambers changed from simple stone sepulchers to lavish treasure vaults filled with the material wealth garnered over a lifetime.
Hammerfast transformed from a graveyard into a storehouse for treasure, and thus it became a target. A hundred years ago, the Bloodspear orc tribe conquered the necropolis but gained little from it. The orcs killed the priests and warriors tasked with guarding Hammerfast and started to loot the place, but the dwarves’ burial chambers yielded their treasures only grudgingly. The necropolis held street after street of unmarked tombs, some riddled with traps, many empty, and only a few containing great treasure. The orcs suffered great losses to the defenses of Hammerfast and, after butchering its guards and capturing a few of its treasures, they turned their attention to easier targets in other locations.
In time, the dwarves returned to Hammerfast. Due to the fall of the Nerath Empire, the citadels of the dwarves were broken, famine and plague grew thick across the land, and monsters and raiders prowled freely. In the face of such chaos, the dwarves made a fateful decision. Why waste fortifications on the dead? They had no use for it. Thus, Hammerfast was transformed into a town of the living. It has since grown into the largest and richest settlement in the eastern portion of the Nentir Vale.
Yet although Hammerfast has changed, its past lingers on. The remaining sealed tombs stand untouched on pain of death by decree of the Town Council. Ghosts still walk the streets, some of them orc warriors slain in the Bloodspears’ attack, others priests of Moradin or the necropolis’s doomed guardians, and even a few of them dwarves laid to rest here long ago. Such creatures enjoy full citizenship in Hammerfast, as long as they observe its laws. In a sacred compact struck with Moradin and Gruumssh, the one-eyed God of the orcs, the town’s founders agreed to respect the dead and defend their resting places in return for the right to settle here.
Most inhabitants of Hammerfast can relay this story:
“When the dwarves first resolved to settle in Hammerfast. The priests of Moradin beseeched their god for guidance. The necropolis was once sacred ground, before the invading orcs defiled it.
A champion of Gruumsh named Tarrak led the assault on Hammerfast. He swore to Gruumsh to destroy the place and loot its treasures. Tarrak died in the assault, along with many other fanatical worshipers of Gruumsh. In Gruumsh’s single, baleful eye, Hammerfast became a monument to his worshipers’ ferocity.
With two competing deities laying claim to Hammerfast, only a compromise could avert a second war. Moradin and Gruumsh argued and threatened each other through intermediaries, until at last they reached an accord. Gruumsh had no use for the town, but he saw the chance to create a stark reminder of his champion’s victory. He demanded that the dwarves set aside part of the town for his priests.
Moradin agreed, but as a condition of his assent insisted on a strict set of rules that both parties must follow. Gruumsh gained his show of defiance, and Moradin ensured that his followers would be safe from Gruumsh’s treachery."
The rules set forth were simple but inflexible:
- Worshipers of Gruumsh are not to be attacked or detained within the town as long as they
do not commit acts of violence against Hammerfast’s residents.
- Any priest of Gruumsh in the town must aid in its defense if it comes under attack.
- The ghosts that dwell in Hammerfast are to be left alone, as long as they do not attack the living.
- The temples of Moradin and Gruumsh are sacred ground. If either is attacked by the other, the gods will intervene.
The punishment for violating the compact varies. If a priest of Gruumsh is injured or detained, the dwarves must turn over a priest of Moradin for torture and execution at Gruumsh’s temple. Any priest of Gruumsh that violates the compact is struck blind and exiled to certain death in the wilderness. The town guard enforces the law regarding the ghosts: Any attack on the undead is treated as an assault on a living citizen.
The final rule spurs much speculation. The exact nature of the divine intervention was never set forth, but most residents believe that the gods would send a cataclysm to destroy the town if this rule is broken.