Norðhyr

Part IV

Thunderspire Labyrinth

Episode I

Sharxuul asks the adventurers to investigate the validity of a letter found with Henrik Van-Baat. Worried by the slaver gang mentioned in the letter: The Bloodreavers, the team is tasked to ascertain the threat to Týthyen and the people of Norðhyr, and, if appropriate, do whatever is in their power to eliminate the threat.

The heroes board the ship of Molly B’Damned with the mysterious shifter, bound for Týthyen and Thunderspire Mountain. The surprise appearance of Mickey Black as extra security is only topped by the presence of the arrogant gem merchant: Ping who has a business proposition!

“This needs to be handled quietly,” Ping explains. “I have competitors throughout Norðhyr who would love to know my source for some of my more . . . exotic . . . items of object d’art. Can I count on your ability to keep a trade secret?” Ping tells them about ‘the Seven-Pillared Hall’, a rough-and-tumble place beneath Thunderspire Mountain. “Introduce yourselves to Gendar, and tell him you represent me.” says the aloof merchant. "You will give him this cask and bring what he gives in exchange.” Ping hands a small, locked cask, about the size of a long dagger, to the heroes. “Remember,” he says, “give Gendar my name—but don’t use it elsewhere.”
The pinnacles  storr copy 1
As the ship sails into Tythien, the heroes disembark and take their first steps into the ‘Old World’. Sharxuul and Mickey accompany them but Molly refuses to enter Týthyen; it seems that some unseen threat awaits her here which she is keen to avoid…

A hike to a nearby town: Faalcruuse, is uneventful and Sharxull introduces a useful contact at an inn: Valthrun, an ancient sage. “Have you ever heard the legends of Thunderspire Mountain?" asks the old man. "Tales claim that a great city built by minotaurs in the ancient days waits within the depths of the mountain. If you are in search of adventure, then exploring those ruins and bringing back word of the wonders you see would make this old man extremely happy. Think about how strange such a place must be! And imagine the treasures that might remain from such an alien time and location.” Valthrun offers the party 420gp for details about the minotaur ruins. He will require some proof that the heroes actually ventured into the depths of the mountain though, such as a relic that obviously comes from the place.

After a peacful night in the inn, the group prepares for the 30 mile trek to Thunderspire. This too is thankfully uneventful. A few shepherds, woodcutters, and trappers live in the area. Their humble houses are made of turf and fieldstone and are fitted with stout doors to repel predators. The party turns from the Trade Road onto a steep cobbled path. A swirling thunderhead of black clouds, rumbling thunder, and bright flashes of lightning obscure the peak of the mountain ahead. This is the infamous Thunderspire Mountain, the largest of the Old Hills that cover the northern portion of Tythien.
Thunderspire entrance
The path meets the Minotaur Gate about 4 miles from the Trade Road. The road enters a 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn out of the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at the travelers. Sharxuul wishes the party luck, and without looking back, the heroes warily make their way into the mountain…

The huge entrance hall splinters into numerous passages a short way into the mountain. A wide tunnel with several smaller tunnels leading off it seems to cut a path toward the mountain’s deep center. The heroes notice light spilling from a partially open door a short way down one of the side passages. The party creeps up to a doorway and hears coarse laughter from the other side. A rough voice, speaking Common, says, “You’re ours now, halfling. We’ll easily get ten gold for you!” Another voice responds: “That’s a shame, ’cause I’m worth twenty. I’ll buy myself if you let me go.”

Peeking in through a gap in the door, the hulking forms of hobgoblins can be seen in a large chamber. Throwing caution to the wind, the heroes burst in, hoping to obtain surprise. As the hobgoblins scramble for position, a fierce warcaster can be seen at the back of the chamber. Next to him, his captive, a diminutive halfling male who dives for cover under a table! The heroes cut their way through the hobgoblin phalanx and although tough and brave, the warcaster is soon hacked down.

The halfling is grateful to the adventurers for helping him out of a tight spot. He’s cocky and good-natured, and he obviously wants to repay the heroes by helping them out any way he can. “I’m Rendil Halfmoon," he announces, "and I live here. Well, not here, but in the Seven-Pillared Hall. Thanks so much for helping me. Those hobgoblins you just beat up are some of the Bloodreavers. A lot more of them are around, but you won’t see them up here. They hide out down in the Chamber of Eyes. Filthy muck eaters, all of ’em. They’re thieves and slavers, and not necessarily in that order. They grabbed me a few hours ago. I was tailing them ’cause they were hanging around my family’s inn yesterday. I wanted to figure out what they were up to, but they caught me. Come with me to the Halfmoon and I’ll buy you an ale or four. It’s the best inn—well, the only inn—this side of the Labyrinth.”

Rendil guides his liberators down a long, wide passage lined with lanterns which eventually opens out into a huge chamber: The Seven-Pillared Hall! Buildings are scattered throughout the hall and people from numerous different races and creeds intermingle and bustle along the streets. Tired and in need of sleep, the party sees The Halfmoon a short distance ahead.

The heroes have finally arrived at their destination and their mission to locate Chief Krand and the rest of the vile Bloodreavers will soon begin. But first… Ale!…
Seven pillared hall

Episode II

The party enters the inn but not before attracting the attentions of a strange, masked individual who seems intent on joining the party on their travels. Is it human? Is it an elf? Who knows the answer?… It is quite apt then that Answer is it’s name. The stranger chitters unintelligibly but seems to be able to communicate by way of some sort of telepathic suggestion. Obviously very intelligent and willing to lend his skills in battle in exchange for allowing him to ‘observe and study’ them, Answer is warily allowed to join with the party.

Inside The Halfmoon, the party are enthusiastically welcomed by Erra Halfmoon (Rendil’s aunt) and the party discusses what their next move will be over flagons of ale. They know they have to find the slavers (possibly in ‘The Chamber Of Eyes’) and the small matter of Ping’s business deal is also pressing. Whilst they discuss the matters at hand, a huge and vile ogre called Brugg crashes into the inn. It is pointed out to the heroes that Brugg leads the enforcers that work for the Mages of Saruun, the enigmatic clan who oversee the day to day running of the Hall. In addition to keeping the peace, collecting protection money, and acting as muscle for the mages, Brugg keeps an eye out for new arrivals who might upset the delicate balance of affairs in the Hall. Rendil tells the heroes that Brugg enjoys causing trouble at the inn, threatening the Halfmoon family, watching patrons, and sometimes starting fights just for the fun of it. After collecting a bag of coins from Erra Halfmoon, the ogre breaks wind loudly then shoves his way out of the inn, almost flattening several patrons who are gagging on the stink. Disgusting.

CharrakThe party decides to seek out the merchant: Gendar, in order to complete Ping’s business transaction. Wandering through the great hall, the heroes are in awe of the sheer scale of the place. They cross a bridge and as a huge statue of a minotaur looms before them, a tiny, grovelling kobold called Charrak offers directions and information for coin. This kobold is a runt even by the diminutive standards of his kind. It seems that, owing to his size and cringing manner, Charrak is often ignored and thus sees many events and transactions around the Hall. He takes the party to Gendar’s Curios and Relics on the far side of The Hall.

The shop is pitch black inside but the owner soon lights a lantern and shows his face. An expatriate drow with a predatory grin, the rogue Gendar trades in old treasures from the Labyrinth. Althaea shocks her friends by spitting on the ground and storming out… it seems that the normally gentle eladrin does not have a high opinion of drow. Slightly perturbed, the remaining party members follow Ping’s instructions, Gendar lives up to his part of the bargain and hands over a small, sealed cask which seems to emit an aura of magic…

Gendar then presents the adventurers with a quest of his own. He needs a group to retrieve an item of commercial value to him. The item is an ancient skull scepter; “A duergar in the Horned Hold currently possesses the sceptre,” Gendar explains, “but it clearly belongs to me. If you happen to come across either the sceptre or the duergar in your travels, I shall pay you handsomely for returning the sceptre to me.” Not entirely comfortable with working for a drow, the heroes make no promises but the promise of a reward means that they will certainly take any opportunity to obtain the object if it pops up during their explorations.
Ulthand deepgem
The heroes spend some time exploring The Seven Pillared Hall. Domnhall drops in to The Deepgem Company. Ulthand Deepgem, an old dwarf cleric of Moradin and former adventurer, runs the business. When asked about the slavers and the duergar, Ulthand tells the party about the Grimmerzhul Trading Post. Located in The Hall and enclosed by a rampart, the trading post of the Clan Grimmerzhul duergar appears as a fortress. The duergar trade rare ores, gemstones, liquor, poison, and alchemical reagents from the Underdark for goods from the surface that they can take back to their homeland to sell. The head of the post is Kedhira. It is clear that Ulthand, like many dwarves, despises the duergar and avoids dealing with them except in extreme circumstances.

The party considers approaching Grimmerzhul but decides that they need to find The Bloodreavers lair directly. Rendil offers to guide the party through the labyrinth to The Chamber Of Eyes. As they are led from The Hall through the Dragon Door into a complicated myriad of corridors, halls and rooms, it is soon clear that having a guide in this maze is imperative. However, Domhnall soon picks up on the dwarvern runes which mark the route, obviously left long ago by miners and prospectors. After an hour or so the party arrives at The Narthex of the chamber. Rendil shudders at the prospect of entering this shrine to the god: Torog, and refuses to go any further. The party gingerly creeps in.
Approaching chamber of eyes
They find themselves in a large antechamber. Two fearsome-looking statues of winged demons squat on either side of a stairway leading up to double doors. Inscribed upon the doors is an image of a great eye with multiple eye stalks, as well as a symbol of a circle with a crossbar rising out of it. Heaps of rubble are scattered across the floor, and to the north a balcony overlooks the room. Approaching the door and listening carefully, the adventurers can hear hear high, rasping voices and the footsteps of several creatures beyond. Intent on stealth, the other adventurers clamber up onto the balcony and locate an unlocked door which leads into a short corridor.

As they tip-toe along the short corridor, stone steps to the right lead down to a chamber containing several rough furnishings. Two bored-looking goblins are cleaning their gear, while a hulking goblin-like creature snores loudly. A bugbear! The heroes creep into position before unleashing hell. There are more goblins in the corridor beyond this room and they blunder into the fray. The huge bugbear smashes into the party’s ranks but the now experienced heroes use intelligent tactics to out-flank the hopeless goblinoid guards. As the bugbear is immolated in a ball of flame thrown by Althaea, the remaining goblins dash into the corridor toward a double door. It is obvious that the guards are trying to alert reinforcements so the heroes dash after them, easily cutting them down before they can escape.

As the last vanquished goblin’s guts splash to the floor, the heroes stand victorious. Their crusade against the vile Bloodreavers has started well… or so it seems!….

Episode III

The party follows the sound of running water to the south. A large, five feet pool fills the southern half of this room. A bizzare statue rises from the pool, depicting a creature that is half-woman, half-sea creature. An underground stream replenishes the water, and so serves as a water supply for The Bloodreavers gang. After a brief breather the heroes press on, following a corridor to the east, then south. A closed door stands before them and it doesn’t take keen senses to hear a raucous gathering within the chamber beyond. There is a small clattering sound, followed by a burst of coarse laughter and angry muttering. After a few moments, more clattering and low, guttural voices. It appears that someone is gambling… The heroes take the initiative and burst through the door.

The room beyond appears to be a combination of kitchen, storeroom, and mess hall. Several barrels and a woodpile rest in the kitchen area, where a large cooking fire burns. Hobgoblins, goblins, and a pair of humans are gathered around battered old tables. The room’s occupants look up in alarm and reach for their weapons. The heroes wade in and a brutal battle breaks out, but they always have the upper hand over the gang members. A single goblin archer remains and the creature uses what little brains it has and runs for it to the far end of the kitchen, disappearing around a corner to the north. Rather than blunder after the goblin, the team advance with caution but when Nanarkk leaps around the corner he finds himself in a dead end with no goblin to crush!

After searching through barrels and crates the party deduces that the goblin must have used a secret exit. After much head scratching and searching the team smash open a keg of old wine and eagle eyes spot the liquid seeping underneath the north section of wall. A focused search reveals a small trigger in the wall and hey-presto, a section slides back revealing a dark corridor beyond.

After much planning, plotting and deliberation, Answer takes the lead and, followed by the others, creeps along the corridor until he comes to a ladder leading up to a trap door. As the bizarre new member of the party lifts the door to take a peek at what (or whom) is beyond, a huge blast of magic slams into him and he thuds to the floor in a heap. Whomever it is in the chamber beyond the trap door appears to have been warned of the invaders. The further investigation of the Chamber of Eyes will not be easy it seems! The party retreat back to the kitchens and go back out, this time turning north to a large set of foreboding doors.
Chamber of eyes
The heroes burst in and find themselves in a large chamber. Carvings of eyes cover the walls, floor, and ceiling and an idol of a horrible beastial creature, a revered exarch of the evil god: Torog, dominates the area. In the center of the floor, chains are affixed to the flagstones, though no prisoners are chained there. A huge black wolf with teeth like daggers springs at the party, and a hobgoblin charges. The escaped goblin and several hobgoblin archers fire volleys of arrows and a twisted warcaster chants and lets loose spells of death. At the rear of the chamber, barking orders to his troops, is a huge armoured hobgoblin. Krand, mighty chieftain of The Bloodreavers roars with bloodlust and bears down on the invaders with his spear.

As if the party were not hard pressed enough, as they begin to cut through the hobgoblin phalanx a door bursts open and in charge two fierce-looking dwarves with gray skin and stiff beards of rust-red bristles. Duergar! The battle is intense and bloody, with horrible wounds suffered on both sides but as the warcaster is cut down with a shriek, the party pick off the wolf, the artillery and finally Krand himself falls. One of the Duergar is destroyed but, seeing his chance, the other bolts for the exit. Half the band of heroes give chase while the others move in to incapacitate a remaining goblin who surrenders. The prisoner is bound and gagged. A nervous Rendil peeks up from behind cover in the Narthex and confirms that the Duergar is long gone. It appears that the heroes have vanquished this chapter of the vile slaver gang, but who knows what trouble they have now stirred up with other denizens of Thunderspire?

The heroes check the bodies of the gang members for spoils. There are only slim pickings early on but a chest in an old priest’s quarters converted into Krand’s chamber holds the Bloodreavers’ treasure. The chest is locked but the key is located around the neck of lifeless chieftain. The chest contains magical ‘Bloodcut’ Leather Armour, a potion of healing and a fistful of pretty gems. Information is also found here in the form of a letter. The letter, written in Common, is a contract to purchase Tyr-y-Crog slaves for 1,000 gp; it’s signed by Murkelmor Grimmerzhul, dated two days ago. There is a Grimmerzhul trading post in the Pillared Hall and the party gets a sinking feeling that the escaped Duergar will be hot-footing it back there to raise the alarm. The goblin prisoner is able to give little information. The wretched creature hauled away to the labyrinth and the party trudges back to the relative safety of the Seven Pillared Hall.
Orontor
Upon the advice of Rendil, the heroes approach the Customhouse with their prisoner. This building serves as the headquarters for the enforcers employed by the Mages of Saruun to keep order in the Seven-Pillared Hall. The vile ogre, Brugg, is here with one of the clerks who help collect the 10 percent tax on any transaction for trade goods. However, the sour-faced man in charge is the wizard Orontor. He provides arcane might when called for and makes sure that Brugg and his enforcers toe the line.

Orontor is suitably unimpressed with the prisoner but acknowledges that the party have done a service for the hall by wiping out the Bloodreavers. The gang were proving to be bad for business by kidnapping the odd merchant. The wizard hints to the party that they may be able to be of further service to Mages of Saruun then orders Rendil to take the prisoner away ‘for judgement’. Rendil goes rather pale and gives a bow before leading the irritated party to a stone platform in the eastern part of the Hall upon which stands a 10-foot-wide, 30-foot-tall statue of a minotaur. The bronze form has arms outstretched in a ritualistic pose. On the floor surrounding the statue, a 20-foot-diameter circle is etched with gleaming runes.

Rendil turns toward the party, shrugs, and then in a loud, clear voice the halfling speaks a name.
“Ordinator Arcanis”Ordinator arcanis
Nothing happens. However, a crowd is starting to gather and there is an obvious air of expectation begining to well up. Suddenly, a figure appears in the glowing circle. Wearing deep black robes and a golden mask of an impassive, stylized human face, this mysterious figure steps toward the disheveled goblin. As the representative of the Mages of Saruun, the Ordinator Arcanis judges guilt or innocence and in most cases his judgment is swift, harsh, and usually fatal…

The Ordinator uses exaggerated language and genstures, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The goblin never really had a chance. The dark magistrate shouts his verdict. “GUILTY!” There is a huge cheer. The penalty is death.

As the goblin starts to shriek and struggle, the Ordinator Arcanis points and a huge bolt of lightning springs from his hands engulfing the goblin. In seconds the smoking, blackened corpse of the goblin falls to the ground.
Justice, Thunderspire style, has been done!…

Episode IV

Peterbed, the heroes return to The Halfmoon Inn to a hearty welcome from Rendil’s aunt, Erra. It appears that the adventurers assault on the Bloodreavers in The Chamber of Eyes has not gone unnoticed and as the beer begins to flow, the Halfmoons start to recount the tale to the impressed patrons.

Domhnall notices a gruff gathering of dwarves and the Warden moves in to try to get information on the comings and goings in the hall along with any intelligence on Clan Grimmerzhul. The dwarves are members of The Deepgem Company and they inform the heroes that a few days ago, one of Ulthand’s mining teams was viciously slaughtered. Ulthand’s dear pet, a dire boar that he personally trained as a mount and beast of burden, had accompanied the team that day. Believing that the boar is still alive, Ulthand is offering a reward for the return of the animal. Intrigued, the party gets some rest at The Halfmoon before making for The Deepgem Company.

After a much needed rest, the heroes pay a visit to the Deepgem Company. Ulthand is clearly distraught by the loss of his prized pet and The dwarf suspects the boar might be alive, for the miners’ bodies were recovered but not the boar’s. Judging from the brutality of the attack, Ulthand believes gnolls were responsible, though he has no idea where to find them.
Rothar
The distraction of the lost boar is soon forgotten however, as the the heroes realise that they must turn there attentions back to the slavers and Clan Grimmerzhul. They take a trip to the only other drinking hole in The Seven Pillared hall… A heap of reused rubble and crudely cut timbers has been haphazardly turned into an Rothar’s Taprooms. The place belongs to an ill-tempered half-orc named Rothar, who runs the establishment with a loud voice and a rude expression. His patrons include tough creatures such as orcs, goblins, gnolls, and duergar, who congregate here when they come to trade in the Hall, as well as human and dwarf laborers with little disposable wealth. Those with gold or taste do their drinking at the Halfmoon Inn.

One person of note is here. The rogue drow Gendar quietly sips wine in a dark corner. The party attempt to obtain information of Clan Grimmerzhul but the smug dark-elf simply turns the conversation back to his lost skull scepter. In hustling the heroes into re-taking the sceptre from the Duergar, Gendar does tell them that the rest of the Clan may be in an area of Thunderspire called the Horned Hold. Nanarkk attempts to bait the drow and obtain more information but the unflappable Gendar simply yawns ans returns his smug grin. Intensely irritated, the party stomp off to Clan Grimmerzhul’s trading post to find answers.

Grimmerzhul trading postThe 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 dwarf-like creatures stand. They have skin of a sooty hue, bald heads, and stiff beards of rusty orange. “You don’t look like merchants or mages,” one says in heavily accented Common. “Vot ist your business here?” The heroes attempt bluff, diplomacy and sheer front to persuade the duergar that they are simply looking to trade, however, it seems that these two grey dwarves have been tipped off… They become aggressive and order the visitors out. Domhnall is shoved but when one slaps Althaea across the face with a gloved hand, steel is drawn and battle commences.

As the two duergar bellow for help, two more surly figures crash in through adjoining doors. Totally surrounded and battered, the party grimly fights on but when a fifth, female duergar appears, things get bleak. This female is clearly a leader and wields terrible magic. First, the stoic NaNaark is bludgeoned into submission. Althea is flanked and knocked unconscious. Domhnall grabs a potion of healing as things look desperate but the dwarf drops his guard in doing so…. The last thing the warden sees is the flash of a warhammer, crushing pain, and all goes black!…

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