Terror of Nagash
Episode 8 - Into the Horned Hold
Return to the Seven-Pillared Hall:
Making their way back the Seven-Pillared Hall, the party headed to the Halfmoon Inn to rest and divvy up the treasure they obtained from the Bloodreavers. After a hearty dinner of hot stew and fresh bread, the party split up, visiting the blacksmith, the mage guild and Gendar’s Emporium of Curios and Relics in search of some fine, new equipment.
Gathering back at the Inn, the party relaxed by the fire, discussing their next steps in finding the slaves.
“I’m not surprised to see goblins, hobgoblins and human bandits working together but the presence of those two duergar is most troubling” Tempest spoke.
“This note suggests somebody named Mur-le-more Grimmer-zhul purchased the slaves from Krand” replied Paelias.
“Aye, an’ that’s a bastard duergar name if I’ve ever heard one” Balomir intoned between sips of ale.
“The drow merchant, Gendar, asked us to locate a scepter that had been stolen from him by duergar in the Horned Helm. Could they be the same?” asked Galt.
“They must be the same. Let’s see if Rendil knows anything about them. Rendil!” hollered Woodie.
The rambunctious halfling scurried over to the group. “Yes, my friends, how can I be of assistance?”
“What do you know of duergar in the Labyrinth?” Woodie asked.
“Funny you should ask, I just heard something strange,” he says in a low voice.
“The duergar of Clan Grimmerzhul just bought a lot of provisions from Dreskin.”
“What’s so strange about them buying provisions?” Sting inquired.
“Well, nothing really, except they bought twice as much as they usually buy.”
“Clan Grimmerzhul, you say? What can you tell us about them?” asked Woodie.
“They have a trading post here in the Hall, but rumor has it that they have a fortress somewhere deeper in the Labyrinth” came Rendil’s reply.
“We should make a visit to this trading post first thing in the morning” Paelias replied. The rest of the party agreed.
Investigate the Grimmerzhul Trading Post:
Early the next morning, the party headed out in search of some answers.
“It might appear that we’re looking for trouble if we all go in together. Sting and I will go see if we can get any information from that drow trader” suggested Tempest.
“OK, Woodie and I will go in and pose as merchants to see if we can get any information from these duergar. Balomir, you wait out here” Paelias offered.
“Fine by me,” Balomir smiled as he pulled out his pipe and tobacco, “you do the talkin’. Just holler if ya need me”.
The trading post is a sturdy building of gray stone carved into the cavern’s wall. A sign above the door displays an emblem of a hammer and manacles. The front door leads to a counter, where two duergar stand. “You don’t look like merchants or mages,” one says in heavily accented Common. “What’s your business here?”
“What do you mean? I look exactly like a mage and he looks just like a merchant” replied Woodie.
“We’re looking to… make some purchases, if you know what I mean?” smirked Paelias.
“No. I don’t know what you mean. I think you’d better take your business elsewhere, elf, before you get yerself in trouble” came the duergar’s angry reply.
“Are you sure you haven’t had any… ‘merchandise’ come through recently?” Paelias asked with a nod and wink.
“I’m not sure what yer tryin’ to imply but I don’t like the tone of this conversation” the burly duergar responded.
“Well, what sort of merchandise do you sell then? Do you have any potions?” asked Woodie.
“We’ve no potions! And I think you’d better leave! Now!” said the other duergar threateningly.
“This is ridiculous. What kind of trading post doesn’t have anything for sale?” asked Woodie.
“That’s it! You’ve had yer chance, ya pointy eared ponces. Now you die!” the first duergar raged as he pulled out a massive warhammer from behind the counter.
“Lads, we’ve got some trouble up front here!” the second one yelled over his shoulder as he retrieved his own hammer.
Outside, Balomir overheard the shouting. “Oh, fer Kord’s sake! I just got me pipe lit!” he grumbled. “Tempest! Sting! Get back here!” he yelled in hopes that they hadn’t gotten too far away yet.
Picking up his shield and axe, he charged in, joining Woodie and Paelias who had already engaged the two duergar. Seconds later, two more duergar appeared from back rooms, both brandishing warhammers of their own.
Luckily, Tempest and Sting had only gotten a block away when they heard Balomir’s call. The two ran back as fast as they could and joined the fighting in the post. At the same time, a fifth duergar joined the fight. This one, a female, started blasting the party with spells while the four males attacked with their hammers.
Sensing that the wizard was a greater threat, Paelias and Tempest rushed past the duergar fighters and quickly finished her off.
“Kedhira! No!” cried one of the duergar as she fell to the ground. “You’ll pay for this, ya surface dwelling scum!”
Soon after, two of the duergar joined their leader in death. The remaining two decided to make a break for it. Yelling something in their native tongue, the two of them turned to flee through two separate doors.
“We’ve got to stop them before they warn their friends!” yelled Woodie.
Balomir and Paelias followed one while Tempest and Sting followed the other. Balomir and Paelias cornered theirs in a storage room, the only exit blocked by Tempest, Sting and the other escaping duergar. He died seconds later.
The other duergar made his way to a back exit and attempted to flee down a wide tunnel. Tempest was close on his heels but the duergar didn’t make it more than 30 feet before one of Sting’s bolts dropped him to the ground.
Returning to the trading post the party performed a quick search of the rooms. A few gems and a small bag of gold coins were under the front counter. A desk in one of the back rooms contained a rough map of the Labyrinth, including directions to the Horned Helm. With it, a recent letter signed be Murelmor and addressed to Kedhira, instructing her to purchase additional provisions for “our new merchandise”. “What have we here?” Woodie mused as she retrieved a faintly glowing, crystal orb from another drawer, “this might come in handy.”
“So the duergar obviously have the captured townsfolk at the Horned Helm. We should head there immediately” Tempest suggested.
“They’re bound to be well equipped and fortified at the Helm. We should probably rest a while before we go” Sting added.
“I don’t think we should leave the post in case more show up” said Paelias.
“Good idea but we shouldn’t wait too long. If they find out what’s happened here, they’ll be waiting for us” came Woodie’s reply.
“I could use a pint while we’re waiting” Balomir chuckled, “I’ll see if Rendil can send over some lunch too.”
The Horned Helm – The Confounded Gate:
After lunch and a few hours rest, the party started its way down the tunnel to the Horned Helm. Traveling about half a mile down The Road of Shadows, the tunnel emerged onto the ledge of a deep chasm. The path wound along the edge for several hundred feet, rounding a corner to reveal several large bastions clinging to the side of the chasm. Two bridges spanned the chasm’s depths, linking the bastions together. The path ended at the nearest fortress, where a portcullis blocks the way. A couple of orcs were visible behind the portcullis, keeping watch.
“I’ll go take a closer look” Paelias offered before stealthily approaching the portcullis unseen by the orc guards.
Returning to the party, “there’s a few more inside but I don’t see a better way in.”
“Can we smash the gate open?” Balomir asked.
“Perhaps the two of us can charge to gate together,” Tempest suggested, “you go in front and when we get close I’ll try to give you an extra push and ram the two of us through.”
“Yer a man of action, Tempest. Let’s do it,” Balomir agreed, “a simple plan like that cannae fail.”
Linking arms together, the two burly warriors charged towards the portcullis. As they approached, Balomir braced his shield against his shoulder, readying for the impact.
With only a few steps to go, Tempest’s foot slipped on some loose gravel. As he thrust Balomir toward the gate, the two of them stumbled and in a cacophony of armour ringing against the iron bars of the gate, they crumpled in a heap.
“Ahhh, fer Kord’s sake! Ya broke ma nose ya lumberin’ oaf!” Balomir lamented.
“An ah bit mah tongue” Tempest replied.
From behind the gate, the orc guards stood in stunned silence as they watched a fierce dwarf and enormous genasi, both dressed in heavy armour, charge out of the darkness and towards the portcullis. As the two crashed into the gate and collapsed to the ground, they burst out in peals of snorting laughter.
Turning to his comrade, one of the orcs manning the gate said “An you tot me was dumb, look at dees stoopids.”
“An now da stoopids die” the other guard said as he thrust his spear through the gate, attempting to skewer one of the fallen heroes.
Charging up, the rest of the party engaged the orc guards with ranged magic and weapons.
With the guards concentrating on Balomir and Tempest, Paelias was able to sneak up beside the gate. Quickly examining the mechanism, he realized he could probably pick the lock from where he was. With deft fingers, he cracked the lock and Balomir was able to charge in among the orcs.
With the way clear, the rest of the party followed inside the gate house and made short work of the orcs.
“Whooth laffin’ now?” Tempest lisped to the corpses littering the room.
The Horned Helm – The Forge:
Continuing their way deeper into the Hold, the party moved through a set of doors at the back of the entry chamber. A hallway lead to double doors at the far end with three single doorways on the sides.
As the party entered the hall, the ring of hammers striking anvils and the roar of flames could be heard from beyond the double doors. The party moved forward, checking the side doorways as they advanced. The first room was an armoury; various weapons and pieces of armour lining the walls. The second room; a barracks with bedrolls spread on the floor. The third room contained a well and another door; the sounds of the forge were easily heard beyond.
Carefully opening the well room door, Paelias peered inside. A large furnace roared loudly on one side of the room, stoked by an orc at the bellows. A duergar worked an anvil nearby, beating a glowing blade into shape. Racks full of recently finished weapons lined the walls.
The party decided they would split up and charge through both sets of doors at the same time. Balomir and Paelias stood ready by the well. Tempest, Woodie and Sting by the double doors in the hall.
“One, two, three!” Tempest counted out.
Both sets of doors were flung open. Balomir and Tempest leading the way through each.
The smith, still holding the glowing hot blade he had been working, stepped back from his anvil and blasted the party with a hail of magic brimstone and burning embers. Balomir pushed towards him but was intercepted by a fierce orc berserker wielding a massive two-handed axe. Leaping atop the anvil, Paelias planted his dagger in the creature’s side.
On the other side of the room, Tempest, Sting and Woodie engaged another of the fierce orc berserkers and a duergar wielding a crossbow. Seconds after feeling the fiery hail from the smith, another duergar emerged from a side room. Both these duergar displayed a tactic the party had not seen before. As the duergar lifted his crossbow, he would momentarily disappear from view, reappearing a split second later at a different location and firing his crossbow. The momentary vanishing act made it difficult for the adventurers to anticipate where the next volley of bolts would come from; an advantage the cunning duergar were more than happy to exploit. Time and again, their bolts found their mark. Woodie felt their sting more than once.
The orcs and duergar fought fiercely, defending the forge but one by one, they were brought down by the party’s onslaught.
A quick search of the two adjoining rooms produced a large sack of gold coins and a handful of small gems.
“Hey, Tempest, can you reach that staff hanging way up there on the wall?” Sting asked, pointing to a tarnished metal shaft with a skull attached at one end. “I think we’ve found Gendar’s skull scepter.”