Table of Contents
- History Lesson
- Campaign Notes
30th of Mirtul of the year 1492
The afternoon started with the group discussing their next set of specific plans. All of them wanted to rest a bit more after all the rough days and Fogo really wanted to finish his cooking lessons with Xaasz before they set off again. Dancer would take all their gems and jewelry and sell them to the local underground black market – aka Jepos, while the rest would engage in low impact activity over the next ten-day.
1st of Kythorn to the 10th of Kythorn of the year 1492
Everyone renewed their rooms to ensure they were still able to stay at the Blackbutter Inn longer. Otherwise, everyone mostly went their own directions to accomplish different objectives over the next ten days.
Angelica: When not making scrolls, she trained with Vladimir with her new sword. Much like Vladimir, once she had enough gold, she went out at purchased a set of plate mail.
Avery Rockwell: Spent much of his time working with Fogo and Angelica on getting spells on scrolls from them so that he could copy them into his wizard’s spellbook. For the rest of his time, he wandered around to meet people, be friendly, and general socializing.
Dancer: Worked on little carvings of different members of the party. He completed ones for Fwoosh, Vladimir, and ISAC. Not wanting to be left out of spending gold, at some point he had gone to Dhelosk and bought a quiver of Ehlonna to allow him to have a greater capacity without the weight.
Fogo: Healing from his near-death experience and works in the Blackbutter Inn’s kitchen for Xaasz to complete his chef training. During his time in the kitchen, he was able to figure out that all five of the goblins in the kitchen are alchemists. Wanting to further his knowledge about Mystra, he ordered a religious text to get a deeper understanding of Mystra.
Fwoosh: He worked on his replacement mask for several days. Checking in with Jepos to see if had heard back about his missing friends in Waterdeep, but there was not any new news. The rest of his time he practiced his different performances. He was also diligent about collecting some bear claws and sharing them with the children at the sundries store. Once the Dwarves arrived, he collected his reward from Vallivoe for letting him know they would be coming. He was not the proud owner of a very nice pocket watch.
ISAC: While he does not have a spellbook, he did get Angelica to make a bunch of spell scrolls for him. He also stocked up with many healing potions.
Vladimir Miller: For most of his time Vladimir was spent training with his new maul as well as with Angelica to help her understand her new sword. Once the coin arrived from selling the gems and jewelry, he ran off to the Tantur’s Smithery to get his plate mail ordered. At some point he had collected the horses, picked up the wagon, and brought them back to the farm. The most exciting thing he did was to write a letter home, with whom he had not communicated with for several years now.
Happenings in Red Larch on Specific Days.
- Avery’s scroll (Comprehend Languages) is ready from Dhelosk.
- Party’s wagon has been repaired at Thelorn’s Safe Journeys in Red Larch.
- Alfred takes over Gaelkur’s in Red Larch and renames it Alfred’s Shop.
A few of the party members went over to welcome Alfred to his new shop and the only oddity was that Marlandro had removed every possible piece of paper or evidence of any business from the shop. He had also left behind what appeared to be some jewelers’ tools, or at least the larger ones, since all the fine tools were gone. Alfred had packed everything in a box that they looked at but were clueless at what it might have represented.
- Coin from party selling gems and jewelry to Jepos Copperhand arrive.
- Grafaerd Ulamoira helpers arrive from Bargewright Inn to help with the Galloping Wheelworks in Red Larch.
- The party moved their wagon and horses to the Wagonworks as a closer location to be able to use them.
- Contingent of Dwarves arrive to take care of the Tomb under Red Larch.
- Jaleesa Orna becomes mayor of Red Larch, and her husband Harburk became the official constable of the town.
- Bryllyn Trollfist takes over the Mellikho Stoneworks and immediately starts work on carving out stones to fix the sinkhole.
- Theldor Darkaxe asked about the maul that Vladimir had found. He told him what little he knew about the maul. Vladimir also revealed that they had found an old ruined Moathouse to the south of Red Larch. When Vladimir brought up the Dwarven books they had purchased, he suggested that they be brought to Banmin Glehuruhr for more information.
While at the Helm and gambling with the Dwarves, the captain of the Dwarves, Theldor Darkaxe, took Vladimir to the side for a conversation.
“That is a mighty fine maul you have there, where did you get it from?”
“[We practiced this.] We ventured into a Moathouse to the southeast of here. It was filled with several different bandits and ne’er-do-wells, and we cleared it out and this was one of the things that one of them had. “
“That maul is from a famous Dwarf slayer from over 4000 years ago.”
“A Dwarf slayer?”
“Yes, he basically did not like a lot of different particular creatures and liked to hit them.”
“He was very proficient; he was even known for haven taken out an ancient dragon at one point.”
“Our party has been encountering a lot of the Dwarven history around here, and it seems that even the Moathouse the bandits were in was a Dwarven fortress of sorts.”
“And so, I wonder if they have been using some of these areas as hide outs and that might be where they picked it up?”
“He was known to be in the valley. His name was Angrboda Gog. He is legendary, but not much was known about him, but he was known for his maul and the dragon biting itself on the head of the maul. This is how I was able to recognize it.”
“You know, I have been playing around with this for the last few days and getting used to it, and it is very powerful, but it is just not quite as powerful as it could be. I am not sure if there is something particular about Dwarven weapons that lends itself to that?”
“It is an ancient weapon. We do not know much about that time. He is just a legend and known to bath in the blood of his enemies and bashing them all to pieces. This was pretty much his only weapon. He was known for bathing in the blood of dragons, demons, giants, and wading through hundreds of orcs.”
“He seems like an impressive man.”
“He hated them. He is known for his hate of those four species. He swore he would come back from the dead just to haunt and kill more of them if he could. He was a vicious Dwarf, but we are very proud of him.”
“It seems like Dwarves are very proud of their history. We also came across a few books of Dwarven lineage. I do not know if those would be of interest to you. They are dull, and in all honesty, full of a lot of begetting.”
“If you could bring them all, I will happily look at them. You should talk to our priest, especially if you have any books of lineage. He would be a much better person to talk to.”
11th of Kythorn of the year 1492
Starting off the morning with a well-cooked breakfast cooked by Fogo, everyone was happily surprised that it was not only tasty, but well balanced. Everyone was pleased that they now had a good cook to help them on their long-distance trips. Everyone noticed that Dolores was hanging out all the time, although she was much more translucent than normally. Fwoosh excitedly showed off his new pocket watch. Vladimir talked about meeting the Dwarves and that they were interested in the Dwarvish books they had purchased.
Their next set of discussions were around how to deal with Dwarvish ruins and tombs in the future, as well as what they should focus on next. Dancer was all for the place called Treasure cave. Everyone else seemed to be interested in making a trip to Amphail for a variety of reasons. Dancer asked about the coded ledger, and Avery wanted to participate in the conversation with the new Wagonworks owner.
When brought to Grafaerd and asked if there was any related paperwork, he was not sure since they were still cleaning up. He told Dancer via finger talk that they were coded somehow, but it would take him some time to work through them, if he could. Avery kept trying to get into the conversation, but Grafaerd did not have anything that he was sharing with him. They finally left the ledgers with Grafaerd to see if he could figure something out.
Vladimir and Angelica headed to the entrance to the old Dwarven Tomb. The guards seeing Vladimir waved him forward. It seemed that they were expecting him. They could also see a large pile of carved rocks piled up near the entrance.
“I’m going to win that card game next time. I have been practicing.”
“It is more about luck though.”
“No, we just need to feed you some ale, and then we will win more.”
“Then we will get you to face the real challenge the next time.”
“What is that?”
“The little bird guy that travels with me and deadly with cards.”
“Is he now, well we do not like card sharks, we prefer people like you.”
A little more banter revealed that it was Vladimir and his party that had asset off the massive poison trap in the tomb room. The guards also mentioned that the cultists were just weird, and that someone had spun around one of the floating holy stones, and that too was revealed to be the party. Feeling embarrasses Vladimir and Angelica quickly made their way down into the tomb before he inadvertently confessed to more war crimes.
Dwarven Tomb Guards
They made their way to the shrine room and saw a pair of Dwarven acolytes cleaning the statues and tidying up the area of all the ashes that seemed to be piled up in front of one of the statues. What appeared to be the head priest was in the middle of the room surveying everything within it. Hearing the two of them come down the ramp, the priest came over to them.
“What are you here for? Oh yeah, Darkaxe said you had some books you wanted me to look at.”
“Yeah, we were in the sundry store, and we were curious with all the Dwarven history here if there were any Dwarven books, and they happened to have these three, which we looked through and they appear to just be genealogy books.”
“Can you bring them out?”
As the priest began flipping through the books, a quick flash of concern and shock could be seen on his face by Vladimir.
“Where did you say you got these books?”
“In the sundry store.”
“That’s the one at the end of town?”
“That’s troublesome, I’ll have to go speak to him and see where he got them from.”
“You seemed pretty shocked looking through these.”
“Well, these are books from Mirabar. There was a contingent of Dwarves that came down from Mirabar. They were showing the flag and visiting different towns. One of them were carrying these books and the whole delegation is missing. They disappeared somewhere in the northern part of the Sumber Hills. I don’t know how their books got down here. It might be good to investigate this.”
“How long ago did they go missing.”
“More than a week ago. We have been concerned.”
“Well, this is not the first time we have heard of people going missing in this area and taken off the road.”
“They were not here, they were in the northern part of the Sumber Hills on their way to Summit Hall and other places, but they never got there. There are people checking on it, but we have not heard anything. Have you heard anything about the missing Mirabar delegation?”
“No, we do not think so. We have been lacking any information about Dwarves in the area.”
It was then that Vladimir remember the guard they had rescued from Lance Rock, Gef Rilisk. He had said he had been in a trade delegation from Mirabar, and it had Dwarves in it.
“Oh, wait a second. The guard we had rescued from Lance Rock. He had said he was part of the Mirabar trade delegation.”
“That would have been them.”
The discussion continued with the story of the rescue, and finally giving the assignment to Vladimir and Angelica to go find out more about what had happened with the delegation in exchange for having desecrated their tomb and setting off numerous traps inside. He also looked at the maul and was not sure if it was from the legendary maul or not. Vladimir was also curious about the floating rocks and what they were and was told that they were to be set up for different constellations for different religious days.
The priest seemed amazed that there was not a clear leader of Vladimir’s group and had a lot of mocking words for them about that.
The two rejoined the rest of the group at the Blackbutter Inn and started filling them in about what had been discussed. The group seemed a little surprised that their trip to Amphail might have been derailed and that they now needed to hunt down a missing delegation to appease the Dwarves for having tomb robbing and setting off the poison trap filling part of the tomb. They decided that finding Gef Rilisk the former Mirabar trade delegation guard would be a great start to their newly assigned adventure.
Splitting up to try and be more efficient to find him. Realizing that they had been seeing him in town, but just did not socialize with him after the rescue. He had been seen at the Helm, the Market, and just in town in different places. They also needed to query Endrith about here he had bought those books. The topic of the trade bars they had found on the earth priest that was in the tomb was also reviewed. They suspected these might have also come from the missing delegation. This caused them to spin off with some fanciful theories, but without some more solid evidence, they would not be anything but fanciful.
Fwoosh and ISAC ran off to the sundries store, Avery and Fogo visited to Mother Yalantha’s, and finally the group of Angelica, Dancer and Vladimir went to the Helm.
At the Sundry store Fwoosh was swarmed by the children there hoping for more bear claws but were only disappointed since Fwoosh was on business this time and not a pleasurable bear claw run. Asking Endrith about the Dwarven books and where he had gotten them. They were told that a passing merchant going through town had acquired them in Womford from some shady guy on the wharf. Endrith did not have much else to tell them about the books, but suggested they go down to Womford for more information.
Wandering to Mother Yalantha’s, the two there engaged her in conversation about Gef and it seemed that there was a lot more room for rent now since eight of her renters had suddenly left and had not returned. They had been rough looking men that had a mean look about them. They even left all their small luggage as if they had just disappeared. When asked about Gef, she explained that he had been helping around the establishment and had been waiting for word his friends that he had gotten separated from. He was doing odd jobs around town and was helping at the Helm working as a bouncer. With that the two of them headed to the Helm.
Back at the Helm the last trio looked around for Gef they find him standing off at the side keeping an eye on the room and especially a pair of arm-wrestling Dwarves. Approaching him, they began to ask about the caravan he had been in and if in fact it was the Mirabar trade delegation. He confirmed it all to them. When told that the delegation was missing, he was surprised and worried for his friends. He wondered how that had been possible with over 20 guards and that the whole caravan was nearly 50 people. Dancer asked about where he had been kidnapped and he told them that it had been on the Stone Trail just south of Westbridge. The caravan had been heading to the Stone Bridge, Beliard, and Summit Hall.
Convincing Gef that he should go talk to Banmin about what he knew and that he had been from the delegation, they got ready to go. Heading off to the quarry to gain entrance to the old tomb, they were waved in by the guards there, but not before they commented on the group’s pet cat, Dancer. Several insulting words later, they entered the cave complex. Having Gef explain his story about the kidnapping and subsequent rescue did not really impress Banmin much. It was then that Gef revealed that he had heard someone talking in the Helm about the fact that they had seen the delegation in Beliard. The person had been a guard with another merchant and had gotten into a fight with a member of the delegation.
Heading back to the Helm with Gef, they were able to meet up with the rest of the party. Sharing what each found out with the rest, they came up to speed quickly. Asking about the trade bars, Gef explained the purpose of the bars and confirmed they were from the trade group. There was a little maker’s mark on each bar that gave its origin. The delegation had bars of many different types of ores including Mithril and Adamantine. The discussion start going around the topic of cultists and that they had been finding them in many different places around the valley, and that it seemed that a lot of the different concerns and problems that have been happening were very likely related to these cultists. During the discussion, Gef told them the breakdown of the caravan, the important members, and that there were many others there.
After waiting around playing old maid for three hours, a large half-orc woman walked into the Helm munching on a large pickle. Gef pointed her out and said she was the one that had seen the delegation last in Beliard. She ordered a meal and several ales and sat down to eat. Avery, the smallest and least assuming of the group went over for a chat.
Purchasing a new round of drink for her, Avery asked about the trade group in Beliard. She complained about how four of them had jumped her, and she was not even satisfied with it. She did say that she was satisfied with Grund but was worried his hips and endurance would not be able to keep up. When asked about the caravan, she said she had seen them leave Beliard, but did not know much more. She did let them know that there is a priest in town staying at the Swinging Sword that had seen them as well. When Avery started explaining everything, they knew about the caravan including the future destinations, she did not have much to say about that except that there were rumors of hill giants in the area near Beliard.
Crossing the street to get to the Swinging Sword, they were met inside by Kaylessa Irkell the owner. Asking about the priest, they were directed to a table where the half-elf was daintily drinking a glass of wine.
The entire group crowded around the priest making him a bit nervous, but he still greeted them. ISAC understanding that it did not look good to have everyone there found a nearby table to sit at with some of the others. Avery started his interrogation right away. He asked about the Mirabar delegation, and the half-elf said he had seen them in Beliard around the 26th of Mirtul and that they had said they were headed to Summit Hall and then further south, and eventually up to Red Larch. Once again revealing that the delegation was missing, the half-elf seemed surprised and concerned. The half-elf had come a more direct way over Larch Path, a muddy and much smaller path that usually had room for wagons assuming there were not any mud slides across the road. He also mentioned that there were rumors of hill giants and ogres wandering the hills as well as strange fires being seen at a distance, groups of people wearing gold masks, and hippogriffs and other large birds in the flying air.
Standing in the middle of the main room, they started discussing what they had found and some of the connections they might have figured out between the visions and clues they had found so far. Unaware, they were starting to draw more attention to themselves once again. The group started trying to figure out which direction and place they should go next. Dancer wanted to make sure that they visited the “Treasure Cave” on their way to Beliard. It was then that Dancer pointed out that continuing the conversation where they were might be a bit weird and suggested they go to one of their rooms to finish their talk.
It was there that they continued their strategy making. Fogo was for pushing ahead sooner and not pick up his armor in Amphail since he was concerned that the more time that went by, the more of them that might be killed. He based this from what had happened to the Ammakyl family merchants and guards. They started with over 40 and ended up with less than ten in the end. Planning on starting first thing in the morning they were not sure if they could take the wagon or not. Fwoosh ran downstairs and asked about the best route to Beliard and if they should take the Larch Path or the Long Road through Westbridge. They gave some options and their thoughts, and with that Fwoosh went back to the room with the others. Not satisfied with those answer, Fogo ran back to the Swinging Sword to talk to the priest to ask about the condition of the Larch Path. Told that the path was open and that there should be room for a wagon, Fogo ran back. With that everyone voted for taking the Larch Path to Beliard and hoping that it would be quicker for them.
It was then that…
All of you pause for a moment. You look around seeking something. Your eyes are causing you a slight pain, your head has a dull ache, and your entire body feels like there are tiny pin pricks occurring all over it. As you look around you can see that nothing else is moving, nothing, except the group of you. You can see the curtains by the window that were fluttering a minute ago are frozen and unmoving, yet still furled as it they were caught in a moment. You can feel that you are breathing, but there is no air movement, as if everything was just still. Unlike all the visions and dreams you have had; you know you are awake and can feel. It feels like reality has glitched somehow.
It was then that all the color from everything around you begins to slowly drain away until everything is in simple black and whites. Even your hands and others around you are also standing there in a stark black and white.
You hear a voice from behind you, and as you look you see that ISAC is at the edge of the room away rest of the group. He seems a frozen and unmoving. Everything around you is in such a sharp focus, sharper than anything else you have ever seen, almost painfully sharp. On ISAC’s shoulder is a black leather gloved hand resting there, not putting any pressure, but also not letting go. You cannot see the figure behind ISAC, it is just not tall enough, or wide enough, or just not quite in focus enough.
“All of you are just rats in a cage.”
You are unable to move, but you can feel the malice coming from the unknown figure. You can feel the hatred rolling toward you.
“I have been told I am impetuous, that I am not patient, and even quick to anger. I have also been told to not interfere, to let everything play out, that all of you are good little rats. Sigh, yes, all of that is true, but I cannot just wait around no matter how much I might be punished. I feel the need to push, it is just my nature.”
“So, here is a little push from me. Be good little rats and run along.”
The mouth on ISAC’s scarred and pained face opens but no sound comes out, it appears that he is trying to scream, scream something, scream in pain, in anger, or just scream, but nothing comes out. As you look his face, which you know is a mask, started pixelating in small boxes, and then larger ones. The mask starts stretching out from between his eyes further than is believable when a black blade emerges sliding smoothly through ISAC’s head.
The mask shatters and the pieces fall, but all turn into whisps of smoke before they can reach the ground. ISAC’s face a hard combination of metal and what appears to be wood, has no expression, but is still attempting to scream, scream as loud as he can, but no sounds leave his mouth. The small gems that are his eyes start blinking rapidly as if they are trying to send a message that no one can understand.
The blade is quickly drawn out but fades into smoke as it is removed. ISAC’s body starts to fall forward, but what you can see of his face start corroding, melting, and turning into crumbling dust. His body falls forward but the only thing that crashes to the ground is his clothing and gear. His body is nowhere to be seen except for some dust and ashes blowing around and away from the body.
It is then you can see the figure. It seems to be a he, from the voice and figure, but he is not tall, nor short, just a medium height. He is covered from head to toe in black leather with various weapons stashed on his waist, and a leather mask covers his face leaving it unseen. As you attempt to move, to look closer, to understand what has just happened, the figure also fades away in a wisp of smoke.
As he disappears color starts seeping into the world around you. The unnaturalness that pervaded everything is fading. Once the color has once again moved into where it should have been, everything starts moving around you again.
And this is where the session ended.
The Forlorn Hills was a hilly region in northwest Faerûn between the Dessarin Valley and the Delimbiyr Vale. The hills were once the center of the ancient shield dwarven kingdom of Dardath—one of the three kingdoms in Phalorm, the Realm of Three Crowns—and were then called the Dark Hills. After the triumvirate collapsed in the Year of the Lamia’s Kiss, 615 DR, the Dark Hills became known as the Fallen Hills or, more commonly, the Forlorn Hills. The people of Athalantar called them the Horn Hills. Some folks mistakenly called them the Sword Hills, confusing them with a smaller range of hills on the south bank of the Delimbiyr.
The Forlorn Hills were located east of Ardeep Forest, across the swath of open land that contained the House of Stone and was once the realm of Elembar. To the south was the Delimbiyr Vale and the River Delimbiyr. The Iron Road ran southeast from Womford, skirting the northern edge of the Hills, until it reached the village of Uluvin on the eastern edge. The town of Secomber was farther to the southeast. To the northeast was the High Forest and to the northwest was Gaustar’s Creek, a tributary of the river Dessarin.
The Forlorn Hills were once part of the great forest that included Ardeep Forest, but dwarves cleared portions of it and then later humans from Athalantar put the western side of the Hills (known as the Halangorn Forest) to the torch to drive the remaining elves away from lands they wished to claim. The hollows between the hills were often in the shadow of the surrounding peaks and thick mists typically obscured vision until highsun.
By the time of Phalorm, the landscape was stony, and the hills were isolated in places. The line of hills that formed the northern border of the area were known as the Watchers of the North. There was a high ridge that arced through a portion of the Hills near the center. It was here that the mansion known as the House of Taeros once stood before it and part of the ridge were destroyed in a spell battle around the end of the 6th century DR, leaving behind the ruin known as the Crumbling Stair.
Since the time of the First Flowering, elves held sway over the surface of the Forlorn Hills. Initially it was the moon elves and green elves of Illefarn and Ardeep, then it was the gold elves of Aryvandaar during the Crown Wars. The area saw a resurgence of Illefarn and Ardeep after the defeat of the Vyshaanti of Aryvandaar at the beginning of The Founding Time.
Dwarves established settlements beneath the Forlorn Hills sometime in the early part of The Founding Time, if not before. At the very latest, they were there to take in refugees from Besilmer when that above-ground dwarven realm was wiped out by hill giants and other creatures in −4160 DR.
In the time leading up to the founding of Phalorm, the dwarves established their underground realm of Dardath, but above ground the human realms of Elembar (in the Year of the Risen Towers, 146 DR) sprang up on the west side of the Hills and Athalantar (in the Year of the Murmuring Dead, 183 DR) on the east. Athalantar had ambitions to take over the Hills and set fire to the Halangorn Forest between Elembar and the Hills to drive out any inhabitants. Ultimately, this tactic failed when Elembar moved into the Halangorn uplands and established noble houses such as the House of Taeros and what became known as the Moon Tower. The untamed portion of the Hills remained the habitat for bandits and monsters. In the Year of Many Mushrooms, 238 DR, the young Elminster was an outlaw, hiding from the magelords of Athalantar in what they called the Horn Hills. Athalantar was destroyed by an orc horde in Year of the Cantobele Stalking, 342 DR and Elembar suffered the same fate in the Year of the Fortress Scoured, 511 DR.
Phalorm, the Realm of Three Crowns, was chartered in the Year of Trials Arcane, 523 DR, and the dwarves of Dardath became part of the triumvirate along with the elves of Ardeep and the humans from Delimbiyran (the last remnant of Elembar). The dwarven population of the Hills grew during this time as refugees from the Duchy of Hunnabar fled a troll incursion in the Year of the Supreme Duelist, 592 DR. Phalorm lasted less than a century. Dardath suffered the death of their king, Oskilar Ironaxe, in the Year of the Shattered Scepter, 614 DR, and the elves withdrew from the alliance, many leaving for Evermeet, the following year. Delimbiyran, under King Javilarhh II, claimed all the lands previously belonging to Phalorm and named it the Kingdom of Man in the Year of the Ensorcelled Kings, 616 DR.
The Kingdom of Man was ultimately unable to stem the invading hordes in the face of internal strife after King Davyd was assassinated in the Year of the Triton’s Horn, 697 DR. The dwarves of the Forlorn Hills continued to drift apart after the death of King Oskilar and, in the Year of the Lamia’s Kiss, 615 DR, the loss of most of their fighting forces. Dwarf holds became defensive and isolated, depleted further by emigration to Ammarindar. They even went so far as to pretend a plague had swept through Firehammer Hold, hoping the ruse would keep enemies at bay.
The Kingdom of Man devolved into lesser realms including the human Calandor, Scathril, Loravatha, and Starshadow; the halfling Duchy of Imristar; and the gnomish Duchy of Gloraela. Roughly, the northwestern quarter of the Fallen Hills was claimed by Loravatha, including the House of Taeros/Crumbling Stair. Many of these small kingdoms fell one by one under the relentless assault of orc raiders until finally, in the Year of the Clutching Death, 702 DR, the Duke of Calandor was able to muster an army strong enough to defeat the invaders.
For centuries thereafter, the dwarves maintained a relatively low profile in the Forlorn Hills, but the story about a plague-devastated Firehammer Hold eventually became an attraction for adventurers instead of a repellent. The clerics of Haela Brightaxe that controlled what they called Torstultok, the Hall of Grand Hunts, had little choice except to try and redirect these would-be tomb raiders by hiring them to seek out and clear other dwarven holds that were known to have been taken over by orcs. Eventually, the old Firehammer Hold became a nexus for dwarves and other races looking for glory and treasure. By the Year of the Unstrung Harp, 1371 DR, the priests had spread rumors and placed clues around the region to lure more adventurers to spend their money and sell their loot at Firehammer Hold. The most well-known example was a map scrawled on the wall of a small room in the Singing Sprite inn. By the Year of Rogue Dragons, 1373 DR, there were several dwarf clans making their home in the Forlorn Hills.
In the late 15th century, Firehammer Hold was conquered by duergar from the Underdark in a plot instigated by the Red Wizards of Thay. The evil wizards also began building a small fortress called Bloodgate Keep on the west side of the Forlorn Hills, far from any large settlements, for use as a base for invading the Sword Coast via a portal from Thay.
In the Year of Prideful Tales, 1219 DR, Lord Geldirth Gost of Waterdeep began constructing a secret underground complex with a series of portals that eventually emerged in a secluded cave on the southern slopes of the Forlorn Hills. Other interesting locations included:
The Crumbling Stair is all that remains of Taeros, a grand, turreted mansion that once stood proudly amid fanciful gardens adorned with fountains and pools. The house sprawled along a curving ridge in the heart of the human-ruled barony of Loravatha. Originally built by a merchant lord, Taeros became a school of arcane study for young lasses seeking to master sorcery under the direction of his widow, the sorceress Ybrithe. Twenty years after the founding of the school, the mansion was torn apart by southern mages seeking to plunder whatever they could. But before they could seize Ybrithe’s treasures, a latent magic trap blew apart the ridge, Taeros, and all the surviving attackers.
The Crumbling Stair now rises from broken lands overgrown with scrub woods. The weathered staircase, made of green-veined white marble, rises six or so steps into the air from a dark hole at its base. Beyond this aperture is a long corridor with a few attached rooms that once served as extensive cellars. The fore chambers are home to the maddened ghost of one of the attacking wizards and some sort of creature— possibly an all-consuming hunger (Und)—that leaves glowing slime-trails on the walls, floor, and ceiling. In addition, the phantom of a half-elf sorceress sometimes appears to point out collapsed tunnels and forgotten secret doors leading to a large warren of catacombs, which are said to be home to some sort of beholder.
Floating Tower of Ondil of the Many Spells
The northern edge of the Forlorn Hills was marked by a line of hills known as the Watchers of the North. Immediately south of them was Ong Wood – and unbeknown to most folk, a secluded vale at the western end of the Watchers held the legendary Floating Tower, home, and later tomb of the mighty archwizard Ondil of the Many Spells. Once guarded by liveried griffons who drove intruders away, it was found the Bright Blades adventuring band (when Elminster – as Elmara – was their mage). The tower’s name came from the fact that mighty magics held it up, floating unsupported high above the ground, after its lower floors had collapsed.
Tales say Ondil had withdrawn into this spell-guarded tower even before Netheril’s rise to greatness, to craft many new and powerful spells. He was reportedly so mighty in magic that he was able to hide his tower from all Netherese mages. Older tales said Ondil had been a sorcerer of Thaeravel, the land of mages from which Netheril sprang (believed to lie – then as now – under the sands of Anauroch).
Moon Tower of Elembar
Little remained of Elembar’s northern settlements after the invasion of an orc horde shattered the realm. One notable exception, however, is the Moon Tower of Elembar, an ethereal spire visible only on the nights of the full moon. Thought to have been the domicile of Elembar’s mage royal, this mysterious figment has spawned many fanciful tales. The Moon Tower of Elembar can be accessed via the Border Ethereal, but the magic-laden ruin is well guarded by the ghosts of its defenders, the ancient constructs that keep watch over it, and an advanced ethereal marauder that uses the place as a lair.
Torstultok (Firehammer Hold)
Torstultok, or the Hall of Grand Hunts, is a temple-fortress of Haela Brightaxe. The place is well known among the Stout Folk of the North for the all-dwarf and mixed-race adventuring companies its inhabitants sponsor to reclaim long-lost dwarven relics from orc held halls.
Torstultok lies within a sprawling complex of tunnels and grand halls beneath the eastern end of the Watchers of the North — the line of tors that marks the northern edge of the Forlorn Hills. Torstultok was known as Firehammer Hold before the Fallen Kingdom fell, and much treasure is still ascribed to the latter name in the tales of the North. Those same legends claim that the dwarves of Firehammer Hold perished in a plague shortly after the founding of the Kingdom of Man, but in fact the dwarves’ numbers had dwindled over time, and the leaders of the hold planted false evidence of a deadly plague to increase the security of the dwarves who remained.
An unexpected consequence of this action was the arrival in subsequent centuries of treasure-hungry adventurers seeking long-lost hordes of dwarven gold. To assuage the anger of such would-be plunderers, the dwarves hired them to seek out other dwarven holds that they knew to be occupied by orcs. From this tradition evolved the hold’s current role as a clearinghouse for battle-loving dwarves and adventurers of other races who sought glory amidst the ruins of long-fallen dwarven kingdoms. In recent times, Haela’s clergy have even begun to lure adventurers to the temple deliberately with ancient-looking, incomplete maps and other enticing items. Such a map may be found on the walls of a not-so-secret hidden room in the Singing Sprite—a slate-shingled, many-gabled stone inn located in the bowl at the center of the three hills upon which the village of Secomber is built.
A small lapse of time so that everyone could get personal stuff done, and then digging into the Dwarvish books. Chapter One has started with the missing delegation. ISAC is murdered in front of the entire party by some unknown figure. The next session will prove to be interesting.