Eleint 3, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
A group of seasoned adventurers made a journey up to the Sunset Mountains to make contact with the Hammerfist Dwarves of the Northern Sunset Mountains and to assault the Zhentarim fortress of Darkhold. Taking a teleportation circle from a tower near the Reaching Woods, the group arrived at Kilgirn Hold. Kilgirn Hold, meaning “proud mountain-hold” in dwarven, was occupied by a force of soldiers from the town of Bear’s Head.
Led by the wood elf ranger, Arrol Mai-fair, the group made their way down the mountain pass of Valdinn. Arrol had recently scouted the region mountain pass and had discovered signs of two cyclopses and at least one harpy wandering in the area. Strangely enough, he didn’t see any signs of dwarves having been in the area recently. He also noted that cyclopses and harpies were fey creatures and not normally found in mountain regions. The band of fey creatures seemed to have wandered into the area then made their way back down the pass.
The group left Kirgin Hold dressed for winter and protected by a ritual against the cold weather. Despite it being the end of summer, winter didn’t seem to have given up its hold on the Sunset Mountains. The group wondered if the unusual winter season had anything to do with what happened in the Sunset Vale months ago? They recall vividly how winter suddenly and explicably came upon the Vale at the beginning of summer just these past few months. They learned that the harsh weather was brought upon by a being calling herself the Winter Witch. They tried to put a stop to the Winter Witch, even slaying the ancient white dragon Kurikveaeri near an ancient monastery dedicated to Lathander, the sun god. Despite not confronting the Winter Witch, the magical winter quickly released its hold upon the Vale. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and thought the whole ordeal had ended. But now, the group wasn’t so sure. Patches of snow on the ground and the cold, biting temperature told the group that the Winter Witch’s icy grip still lingered.
A few miles down the mountain pass, the group spotted a young dwarf running at full speed towards them. By the looks of it, the dwarf was running for his life. A moment later, they saw a large rock strike a tree just behind the dwarf. The dwarf, not slowing down at all, kept on running. Immediately after, the adventurers spotted three harpies wearing fur vests land on nearby boulders then take to flight upon the group’s arrival.
A battle ensued in which the group fought off three harpies and two cyclopses. Arrol approached Dred and reassured the dwarf of his safety, before taking deadly shots of his own at the encroaching harpies.
The group fought with tenacity and skills that surprised the young dwarf. Not knowing yet whether the strangers were friend or foe, Dred Ironfoot, lent his skills by placing well aimed shots at a distant cyclops who was busy fighting off one of the adventurers who had stepped through a magical doorway a moment before.
The harpies tried to hurt the group by singing songs of rage but the adventurers made short-work of them. Even flying above the group didn’t offer the harpies any protection from the group’s powerful spells and deadly range attacks. The dwarf saw first-hand the group’s skill when he witnessed one of the adventurers, seemingly a fighter, sever a leg off the remaining cyclops with a well-placed strike with his blade. The cyclops fell, thrashed about for a quick breath and bled to death soon after.
With the battle won, Arrol approached Dred once more and introduced himself and the rest of the adventurers to the dwarf. Dred found himself in the midst of two drows, a gnome, a human, and a lich. Fearful at the sight of these strange people, the hunter dwarf was put at ease when the adventurers assured him of their good nature. When asked who he was and where he was from, he explained that he was part of a detachment of mountain scouts assigned to guard Thonor’s Pass to the south. The pass defended the Northern Sunset Mountains from any incursions coming up from the Far Hills. Unfortunately, Thonor’s pass had been overrun some time ago by several Frostblight Treants led by a gargantuan white dragon. He recall seeing the death of his fellow hunters, especially his mentor Killar Rockstrider, who saved him from certain death when Killar pushed him off of a short cliff just as the dragon struck Killar with its icy breath. Despite his serious injuries sustained from the fall, Dred survived. The hunter went on to share how he had recovered and spent the last two months trying to find any sign of survivors. He managed to survive off of the land and luckily avoided creatures and wandering monsters; that is, until he chanced upon the harpies and the cyclopses.
Dred added that at one point, he came upon two adventurers who hailed from Cormyr some time during the past tenday. The two were headed back down the mountain after their group’s priest, mage, and warlord were killed by forces loyal to what they said was the Winter Witch’s consort, a being they referred to as the Winter King. Apparently, the Winter King—a powerful undead human—may have turned upon the Winter Witch and claimed her forces as his own. He said that the two from Cormyr shared that they had ran into a band of elven rogues from Evereska who had unsuccessfully tried to infiltrate Darkhold’s inner halls. More disturbing was how they explained that the evil bastion, which once belonged to the Zhentarim Network, was now occupied by undead forces led by an undead eladrin. They overheard eladrin guards in Darkhold speak of the Winter King as though they were allied with him. They warned Dred that the Zhentarims who used to occupy Darkhold have all been turned into undead soldiers.
When asked if Dred would lead the adventurers to the dwarven halls of Hammerfist, he agreed. The group decided that it would be best to confront the Winter King and hopefully find surviving dwarves and even their Clan Lord, Farsten Hammerfist—a direct descendant of Dorrak Hammerfist, founder of Hammerfist Halls. Huntrah also suggested that perhaps the dwarves of Hammerfist can help them in their planned assault of Darkhold.
After nearly nine miles of trekking through the mountain range, the group arrived at Wolf Bulwark. Stone huts that once housed dwarves assigned to protect the path leading up to Hammerfist Halls some two miles distant were now occupied by over a dozen undead soldiers comprised of skeletons and zombies. To Dred’s horror, the skeletons and zombies were all once living dwarves. In death, their journey to Moradin’s glorious halls was denied them. Instead, they were forced to serve as undead guards for the Winter King.
The group, vowing to free the dwarves’ tormented spirits from the clutches of the Winter King, attacked in force. Omega opened the attack with a volley of lighting that arced from one undead to the other. In a matter of seconds, Omega had all but destroyed all of the undead guardians with his mighty spell. The others joined in the fray and quickly freed Wolf Bulwark of its undead hosts. After the encounter, the group took the time to honor the dwarves’ remains by piling them upon a large stack of wood then set the makeshift funeral pyre ablaze.
With nightfall quickly approaching, the group made its way to Hammerfist Halls intent on freeing the dwarven stronghold from the evil Winter King’s control.
DM: Richard Rouillard
Characters: Arrol Mai-fair, Omega, Dred Ironfoot, Cain Justice, Zaachaeus De’Barronn, Huntrah De’Barron