The stone door opened into an open oval chamber – 30 ft. wide by 40 ft. long carved out of the bedrock. 4 pillars evenly spaced around the room, and a well in the middle. Recently placed supplies and crates were piled around the walls. At the far end, 4 banners above 4 stone doors, each carved with an identical dwarven head and arms holding out cupped hands. The pillars each had a pictogram of one of the elements carved into it.
The door closed behind us once we had all entered. The first banner depicted a wind storm, so Gnargle tried blowing into the cupped hands. The stone face of the dwarf then said in dwarven “You may not pass”.
The next banner depicted a fire so Gnargle touched a lit torch to the hands. It said in dwarven “Proceed Master," and the door opened to a narrow winding path that sloped upwards. Of the 4 of us only Gnargle didn’t have to crouch into the 4 ft. high passage. The passage led up through twists and turns and occasional stairs where it was too steep, to a stone door. There was no handle, but it was counter-weighted so it opened easily at a push.
We stepped out onto a very high hill overlooking the woods around the Eveningfall road, some 300 feet away. We could see many orcs on the road heading towards the Keep. Amongst them was a giant, no doubt Kindell, along with 2 ogres pulling a trebuchet. Kindell wore plate armour, including shoulder guards and a helm. Night was falling – we needed to warn the Keep.
We re-entered the passage, closing the door behind us. In the chamber of Elements the dwarves had brought in the last of their supplies, piling them against the walls. Sildo remained behind with his elves to wait for Tespin, and try to protect the horses & wagons. We had informed him of how to enter the passage in case he needed to retreat.
As Cavendish pulled a bucket up from the well I poured dirt into the hands of the next statue, the banner depicting an avalanche of boulders. Suddenly we heard a low moaning and a translucent, dwarven figure climbed out of the ground and shook translucent dirt from his shoulders. He wore full battle armour and yelled out in dwarven “Hurry! Run! We’re all going to die here!” He turned towards us – “So, you’ve come to our gold, have you! You’re the ones who caused the avalanche!” It swung its axe at me, but missed. Candeish and I hit his floating form with our swords, causing him to dissipate. Gnargles staff glowed with a bright light, but his magic missile missed. Aelodir began to chant and started to glow brightly, causing the phantom to dissipate further. His axe swung through my arm, causing no visible damage, but I could feel the arm start to wither from the necrotic force. Finally, Loatrin and his dwarves threw their handaxes, destroying the apparition with a howl.
Cavendish then poured some water into the hands of the final statue, the banner depicting a sinking ship. The figure said “You may not pass” in dwarvish. Gnargle had Loatrin pour the water instead. A mist began to form and we could hear a gurgling sound coming from the wall. We all stepped back as another apparition floated up from the ground, this one covered in barnacles and seaweed. “Stowaways! It’s because of you this ship is sinking!” This phantom attacked Loatrin, slashing him in the belly with his phantom axe. He also hit Cavendish before Aelodir was able to cause him to fully dissipate.
Finally, we had Loatrin blow into the first bowl. A mist formed, dissipated and the dwarven face said “Welcome my Lord” and the door opened.
Beyond was a narrow passage twisting down. After 50 feet or so, Aelodir noticed a glint from the eyesocket of a skull – a small lever on the ground. Gnargle used his magic to test the floor with a floating disk holding a rock along the passage ahead. Metal plates under the sand triggered a dart trap. Turning the lever to the left, we heard a mechanical clanking in the darkness ahead, the traps were disabled. 40 or 50 feet later we found another lever hidden in a skull. Turning this one re-set the traps. Almost a mile further along we came to the end of the passage – it twisted and turned up some stairs to a brick room with a wooden door.
Gnargle could hear voices on the far side, so he knocked and stepped back. There was a stir of voices and an alarm sounded. Loatrin could hear his brother Baragar’s voice on the other side of the door, so he called out and opened the door. There was a warm welcome, and then we warned them of the impending attack and what we had seen on the Eveningfall Road
The dwarves of the Keep prepared for the coming siege as Loatrin escorted us to the banquet hall.
Baragor spoke with a noble, Cronus and his family. They were ordered to take their personal guard and escort the commoners & tradespeople of the Keep to the Chamber of elements until the siege was over, after which they could either escape through the logging camp or return to the Keep.
Those who stay and man the walls returned to the courtyard. Cavendish Marek climbed to the battlement by the main gate while Aelodir, Bangalor and I climbed to the top of the tower. A large raven croaked at us and landed on the tower roof. The forest is deathly quiet. Aelodir headed back down to confer with Quin, the keep’s cleric. His assistants have boxes of healing potions that they had been stockpiling, and are preparing to run to the wounded with them as needed.
An unnatural fog began to roll through the trees from the forest towards us – it had an eerie green glow about it. Tiny motes of light appeared throughout the forest and seemed to surround the keep.
There was a movement from the forest nearest the gate, and suddenly Tespan burst forth at a dead run, chased by orcs and boars. Cavendish called to raise the portcullis to let her in, but she yelled back “No, don’t!” Her dash across the open ground aimed her towards a wall some 30 feet from the gate, and without breaking stride her armour began to glow and she ran right through the wall, as insubstantial as a thought. The portcullis crashes back down as her pursuers flee back towards the forest, still out of range of our archers.
Bangalor was already half-way down the stairs at this point, with me following close behind. Tespan, gasping, warned Baragor of the army of orcs in the forest, ofKindel and two ogres, and of the trebuchet they are currently loading. “Kindel isn’t smart enough to orchestrate this. I caught sight of a female humanoid, but she managed to evade me.”-
A short time later, a boulder flew over the wall and crashed into the courtyard, through the blacksmith’s stable, destroying much of it, and killing several horses. Shrapnel flies everywhere, some it hitting Bangalor.
Over the next short while, we determine that it takes about 5 minutes for the enemy to reload and fire the trebuchet. We lack the man power to sortie out and try to destroy it, and have no siege weapons of our own.
Of to one side in the forest we caught sight of Sildo and his men, trying to make a break towards the keep, but before we could make an attempt to rescue them, they were brutally cut down by overwhelming numbers of orcs.
Bangalor’s estimates are that there are more than 300 orcs laying siege to us.
The next salvo over the walls carried a gruesome payload; A basket that burst open on contact, scattering seven severed heads. Six of them are elves, presumably Sildo’s men, but one is Valecrist. Baragorn went pale and turned to me “Valecrist knew the secrets of the chamber of elements!”
Bangalor, Aelodir, Cavendish and I rushed back down to the cavern to protect the women and children. Loatrin took me aside “The cargo you are to guard – I put it in the well of the chamber – I need it back so I can hide it in this well.”
We returned down the passage.
Event Log, 4th of Sunwarm, cont’d.