As the spellcaster opened her bedchamber door, the party prepared for the worst. Elrian quickly tried to appease her, calling for discourse, but she snarled at the mage and cast the room under the veil of silence while Misty Stepping into the portal chamber. Raben pleaded the party’s cause, but the magic user teleported away, leaving the band to nurse their wounds.
Holing up in the wizard’s study, they barricaded the door and took a much needed rest, using the time to heal, sort through the loot they had gathered, and plot their next move.
Nammosi studied the elf’s diary, cross referencing with the local lore in the study’s library, while Rhaina snuck out to investigate the upper levels. She returned shortly, informing the party that the paladin and her surviving allies had packed up and left.
Based on what she could glean from the elf’s writings, Nammosi believes the Herron Guild will be heading to Axeholm, suspecting the Ring of Summer Flame will be found in that ancient dwarven stronghold.
Nammosi explained that Axeholm was abandoned and sealed up long years ago after being haunted by a banshee — the restless spirit of a moon elf ambassador named Vyldara who tried and failed to foment civil unrest among the dwarves. The dwarves imprisoned the elf and sent messages to her people, asking that they come to collect her. Before envoys could be sent, Vyldara killed two guards trying to escape, only to be cut down by dwarven axes before she could succeed. When the elf’s evil spirit started filling Axeholm’s halls with deathly wails, the dwarves abandoned their stronghold, but not before several dwarves slain by the banshee arose as ghouls to feed on their kin.
Elrian recanted the legend that said ghouls and other creatures still prowled Axeholm, while the banshee continued to haunt the fortress’s upper halls, but Nod recalled a poem he had read that told a deeper story of how a Thulasian Ambassador named Thoth-Ayron was in Axeholm when Vyldara had sown he discontent. The wizard had fallen in love with the moon elf, but she spurned his advances, driving him mad with rage. He swore to burn all her kind to cinder for her cruel dismissal of him.
This all made sense to the party and they hoped they could figure out how to use the wizard’s portal before the Herron Guild could get there ahead of them. Nammosi suggested Raben use his Mending spell to repair the damaged section of the portal. Doing so revealed the command word — Domasai. The party gathered within the magic ring and teleported to the grim and abandoned dwarven fortress.
Entry proved difficult. Bared by an impassable portcullis, Nod and Rhaina slipped in through the defensive arrow slits and made raised the gate, but the door inside was barred, forcing the the bard and rogue to delve deeper into the fortress and help the party gain entry. After many struggles, they eventually unbarred the door, allowing the party to gain entry.
After a quick investigation of the grand hall, the party pressed east, through unlocked double doors, only to discover a crumbling room that, based on the reliefs on the walls, had at one time been some type of religious area, perhaps even a temple. They surmised some sort of earthquake must have done the damage and were preparing to delve deeper, when they were interrupted by shuffling sounds and hoarse moaning.
Suddenly they were beset by a half dozen ghouls, raised, undead dwarves by their look. Peron and Kari were quickly into the fray, while Rhaina assisted with a ranged attack. Nod inspired Kari, while delivering psychic damage against one of the approaching undead. While Nammosi and Elrian positioned themselves in support, Raben called upon Frigga’s divine blessing and the ghouls fled before her light.
Elrian quickly opened and investigated another set of doors, revealing only a ransacked room, presumably by the very dwarves who had abandoned the place. This left them with a hard choice. Do they backtrack or explore the ravaged and ghoul infested rift before them?
to be continued