Over the next few days, both Uthad and Dyne had the same dreams, not every night, but enough that they felt there was something more to be discovered in the ruins. Something kept calling them back and whatever it was wasn’t going to leave them be.
As the party descended into the ruins, they came across a party of 7 dwarves from Huln’s Lode. Huln had dispatched them to attempt to locate the town’s priest of Pelor, Ciaran Brellis who had been missing for over a week now. Ciaran, excited over the find of a site of Pelor with such historical significance, had insisted he be given access to the site in order to ensure that important religious historical artifacts were not damaged by “indelicate hands.” The group’s leader, Baldrick Anvilmar, confided to the group that he believed Ciaran’s motives were more out of self-gain, than ensuring the safety of the holy ruins. At first the priest went down with an escort, spending a few hours a day, but as time went on he would go down for longer periods and sometimes without escort, against Huln’s wishes. One night Ciaran left to visit the ruins and didn’t return the next morning. After several days, and several missed services, Huln sent the party out to find him. Should any thing happen to a man of the cloth, especially one that didn’t exactly see eye to eye with dwarves, questions might be asked could raise tensions between the members of the mining camp.
As the party began down the passage, it became clear that once, very long ago, this had been a staircase of some kind, but time had not been kind. Water had once filled the passage and worn away the walls and floor in many places, creating slick and dangerous surfaces on which to walk. The dwarves had little problem at first, laughing at the party as they slip and fell, spending more time on their rear-ends than on their feet, but as it became clear how dangerous the journey down was, they became much more somber. It danger became a reality as almost the entire group ended up sliding down the passage out of control.
At the bottom the passage opened onto a walking path along the side of a massive cavern. Unfortunately the rail of the path had long ago been worn away by the waterfall that once exited here. Two of the dwarves, Algrim and Dorin Stonefist, brothers, were unable to find a surface to grab onto and flew off the path into the abyss below. Had Uthad and Dyne not been able to catch themselves, young Niene may have met the same fate. Fortunately however they were able to grab ahold of her as she went over the ledge and pull her back up to safety.
Baldrick gave a short speech to the group, explaining that their compatriots had “returned to the stone” and they could only hope to die in such an honorable way, in the service of others, before urging the party to move forward.
Looking westward, the party sees the walkway continues, but tapers down to little more than a narrow foot hold in more than one place. Baldrick suggests using several lengths of rope to use as a safety line, tying everyone together so that should one person slip, those tied to them would be able to keep them from falling to their deaths. The party was able to make it across with little incident.
The walkway ends at the base of a bridge across the chasm. The bridge leads into the rockface, with a staircase leading down to the side. Back in the tunnels the party finds the remnants of a market place and artisan shops. Searching through the ruins they are able to locate some trinkets, a large stone engraving, and a handful of potions. Able to identify a few health potions, the others remained a mystery.
Continuing to the level below via the stair case, the party finds a large steel door blocking their path, however a large chunk has broken away, giving them just enough space to squeeze through. The hallway opened into a large circular room sporting a sun motif on the floor. Passages headed in each of the four cardinal directions and a flight of stairs circled down to the level below. The motif on the floor indicates the rooms at the ends of the passages, the Great Forge, back to the Markets, the Military Wing, and the Infirmary.
Choosing to visit the Great Forge first, the party moves north. They find the forge in disarray, distressing the dwarves greatly. The anvil is in one piece, but badly damaged over the years while each of the smelting pits has been left to allow their ores to harden, destroying the equipment. Confused about why this is so distressing, the party asks them to explain. The dwarves explain that where a dwarven city to decide to up and move, they would shut down all the forges and go to great lengths to ensure that the equipment would remain in good shape should they decide to return. If the city were under siege and defeat inevitable, then they would " Crack the Anvil ". A mechanism would be activated that would destroy the anvil, and the smelting pits would be allowed to harden. Looking at the forge here, it appears that whoever was working the forge just up and left without taking the time to ensure the site was properly shutdown.
While searching the area, Dyne came across a long handled warhammer with an octagonal handle. Thinking back to the gate they had passed through, he remembers that there were a set of locks near the door that the handle would fit into perfectly. As the party searched, Orek, one of the younger dwarves, moved out into a large body of water in the forge, saving is weapon through the water to see if there is anything hidden under the surface. Without warning, something under the water pulled him beneath the waves. As the others rushed to his aid, three large creatures rose from the waves. The creatures could be only be described as “a wriggling shape at least 10ft in length. It is a nauseatingly textured translucent worm whose head gradually narrows into two ominously long, questioning tentacles.” The creatures disturb the group and are clearly alien to this world. Distracting the group long enough, the creatures buy another of their kind time to drag away poor Orek before being defeated themselves.
With no sign of the missing dwarf, the only choice was to continue onward and hope they find him later. The party next attempted to investigate the infirmary but found that the passage abruptly ended in a massive chasm. The chasm was large enough that one could not see the the walls or floor. As the group moved away, the caught sight of another of the dwarves, Ragni, being grabbed by something out of the darkness and pulled up and into the air. Several minutes of searching were unable to locate anything more than a few strange insect-like sounds, him at which point Baldrick Anvilmar loudly voiced his frustration toward the darkness.
With almost half the beginning party remaining, the group felt that perhaps investigating the military wing would be best, with luck they might come across some weapons that would be useful in a fight. Finding the gates to the military wing closed, the party was able to solve an ancient riddle and use the hammer discovered by Dyne to open the doors. As they moved in, it became clear that long ago the dwarves had locked themselves into the barracks as a last defense against the horrors that tried to take over their home. Baldrick assigned the last two members of his group to cover the party’s back as their combed through the debris looking for loot. Finding several weapons, sets of armor, and a magical ring, the party moved into the other rooms finding more evidence that the area had been barricaded to protect the dwarves within.
Suddenly the party heard sounds from the hallway, similar to those heard in the chasm. Baldrick went to check on his men, but soon the party heard his warcry and the sound of a fight. Rounding the corner, Uthad was the first to see the adversary. “These gastly creatures cross a humanoid face with an obscenely bloated tick, with legs each tapering to needle points. From the creature’s back, the face howls, screams, grunts and gibbers its eager hunger.” Dyne moved into the defense rooms that lined the hall in time to see Thorek being dragged off by another of the creatures, but no sight of his companion Strom. The party fought the creatures, who let out maddening wails that shook the party, but did not defeat them. Defeating three of the creatures, it was clear that these creatures were acting intelligently, perhaps directed by someone, as they worked together to pick off the group one at a time.
Moving forward in search of whatever was controlling these creatures, the party returned to the circular room and moved down to the lower level. Form here they had the choice of moving to the Athenaeum, the Throne/Reception area, the Conclave, or the Noble Residences. Niene requested they neck investigate the Athenaeum, in hopes of finding some lost lore or something to explain what is going on in the ruins. Initially blocked by the gates, the party once again was able to open the passage by solving an ancient riddle. Little was left of the library, however they were able to discover a few scrolls, even one scroll that Niene could possibly use to learn to cast a new spell.
Leaving the Athenaeum, the group discovers the passage to the Conclave, the dwarven version of parliament, ends at the same chasm. With only Baldrick remaining, the party doesn’t spend time investigating and instead checks the entrances to the noble residences. When the arrive in the passage they find the gates down, however the mechanism to open the doors has been destroyed and the gates impossible to open. Upon closer inspection it appears that perhaps some selfless dwarf broke the locks as his last act, attempting to buy those inside some time before the horrors were able to break in and get to them.
With nowhere else to go, the party moved forward into the throne room. Again a gate slowed the progress, however they were quickly able to pass it and continue on. As they reached the end of the passage they could hear a familiar voice speaking in alien tongues. Peering into the room, the group saw a cloaked figure standing at the base of a massive monolith, clearly the same monolith where the group found a kobold altar near the peak. To the sides of the figure were the missing dwarves, entranced and shackled together. Uthad, remembering his dream, looked to the overturned throne at the base of the monolith and was able to spot the weapon from his dream.
As Uthad attacked, the bold from Dyne’s borrowed crossbow bounced off a wall of energy projected from the monolith. The figure, unphased, calmly informed the party that is was too late and that the Great Old One, Nyarlathotep, would soon be loosed from his prison to free his brethren and rightfully take back what was stolen from them by the “false” Gods. As he spoke, he removed his hood, showing that he was the missing priest from Huln’s Lode, Ciaran Brellis. He spun a tale, informing the group that as he studied the ruins, the Old One spoke to him in his dreams and told him how the Gods were liars. At this point Ciaran knew he had to do whatever he could to free his new God. As he finished his story, he cried out the last line of the incantation and impaled himself with his dagger.
As he fell, the dwarves to [[:ciarianbrelis:Ciaran’s]] sides cried out as well and collapsed. Suddenly the spell circle inscribed on the floor lit up and another one formed in front of the monolith. The light was over powering, but as it died down the party beheld a massive creature in the center of the circle. The creature was disgusting to behold. “A giant mass of dark liquid.. its surface heaving as it spatters the area around it with globs of slime. Dozens of small red eyes dot the creature’s surface, glaring at the party like beacons of hunger and hate.”
Uthad rushed to the weapon he had spotted before and found that the holy symbol afixed to the side could be removed and channeled he rage of Pelor. The creature put up a difficult fight, but soon the party had the upper hand and the creature attempted to retreat back to the spell circle. Defeated, the creature was banished back to its prison and as it went, it it pulled Ciaran with it. The party attempted to save him, but was unable to do so. Once gon they found he left behind a tome filled with a mystic script. Niene spent a few moments studying it, even casting a spell allowing her to read any language, however the meaning of many of the words still defied her. It was clear that she would need to spend some time studying in a well stocked library in order to discover the true meaning of the tome. The group was able to use their healing skill to revive all the missing dwarves except one of the two brothers, Algrim.