Our heroes Bruner Slone, Tobs the Unfortunate, Samantha Shieldheart, Bartholomew, Marvin Mineshadow and Din had just found a large treasure stash in the room after the defeat of the Half-Orc bandit leader Jax and his Magic User lieutenant Jaeger as well as a hand scribbled note on Jax’s stone table when the entire room shakes violently.
The huge double doors to the south shatter and an Undead horde begins to pour out of the tunnel. The horde was made up of Dwarves in various states of decay – some shambling while others moved more swiftly.
Behind the Dwarves a black cloud gathered and began to pour into the room. The dark cloud moves like a living thing, tenticles slowly reaching out from the darkness, grasping for the heroes. In the center of the cloud stands a robed figure, the height of a man yet most definitely not a man. A skull stares out from behind a hood, supernatural eyes glowing red. The Lich speaks with a voice that could freeze bone.
" You shall serve us… you shall serve Clan Warhammer… "
Tobs and Marvin grabbed the treasure chest by both sides and began to move it as fast as they could, trying to head north and back out the way they had come. Bruner, badly wounded was being helped out of the room by Samantha. Bartholomew – Rush – booked it and scrambled out of the room. Two days of combat against Kobolds, Bandits, Cave Bears and Half-Orcs finally took their toll as he witnessed the oncoming horde of undead.
As everyone moved north, Din turned to face the undead horde. Reaching into a pocket he pulled out a bandanna and tied it around his head. He lowered his quarterstaff and stands his ground.
Chaos ensued. The first wave of zombies reaches Din and he strikes them down swiftly. Marvin looks back while he pulls the chest with Tobs and shouts to Din to join them. Din ignores Marvin and holds the line. Marvin’s greed for profit overcomes any need to save his thrall and he continues to move forward with the chest.
Another wave of undead reaches Din and the powerful monk lays into them, each hit a small part of a larger dance of death. Din spins and strikes left and right, caving in one zombie head after another. He dispatches the second wave, his muscles rippling from the effort. All his training, all the countless hours of combat have come to a head for this one moment in time.
To protect the righteous. To fight the darkness. To defeat evil. For the Platinum Dragon.
The armored undead reached Din. The decomposing Dwarf Warriors, wielding large axes and armored in rusted and broken plate begin to attack. Din ducks and dives, spins and dances his way through the Dwarves, quarterstaff smashing into them as fast as an automatic crossbow keeping them at bay even as his friends successfully escape the room.
“You shall serve us…” The Lich repeats and lifts an arm up. He extends it toward Din and rolls his skeletal hand into a fist. Din is pulled into the air as pain rips through him. He uses the Disciple of the Dragon to ignore the pain – there is no pain!
The cloud of darkness follows the Lich as it steps into the room. The Darkness rolls forward, consuming everything in the room. Dead bodies of bandits shudder and rise, their gaze turning toward the large doorway the heroes have escaped through.
The Darkness rolls around Din and he begins to cough even as the Lich continues to squeeze his fist. Din feels a rib shatter. Concentrating his chi, he focuses all his energy into a single action and breaks free, quarterstaff once again swinging in all directions and bringing down undead with each hit.
But it is a lost cause. There are too many of them. The horde of undead begin to grasp Din’s limbs even as the Darkness begins to choke him. The Lich steps toward Din.
“You shall serve us…” he hisses. Din stares at the Lich defiantly even as the darkness completely enveloped him…
Tobs and Marvin move as fast as their stout Dwarf legs can carry a heavy chest of gold and goods. The hallways shakes and the tunnel to the right that they had previous used collapses, covered with brick and rocks. Seeing as the only way out was straight north, the party moves forward. Brunor moans in pain but is able to move decently, helped by Samantha.
They move north down a hallway as the darkness pours out of Jax’s war room and begins to follow the Heroes. They move through an open doorway into a vast room that they had seem earlier in the day from the other side – at least 30 bandits stare at the heroes as they enter.
“Who the hell are you?” One of them asks.
“They killed Jax!” Marvin lied.
“Who killed Jax?” One of the bandits blanched even as the shadow poured out and into the room, wrapping around the giant columns. Out of the darkness the undead poured out, quickly assaulting the bandits. Where the darkness reached, bandits choked and collapsed only to rise again in death.
The Heroes moved as fast as they could through the room and out the north door. They entered a cave tunnel and moved swiftly upwards. The darkness followed. The heroes heard the sound of movement from within the darkness, approaching swiftly.
As they reached the room with the bandit stables, three ghouls tore out of the darkness, running like attack dogs on all fours. One outstripped the other two and jumped onto Marvin’s back, knocking the Dwarf down.
Tobs turned, swinging his mighty axe and knocking the ghoul off of Marvin. Marvin scrambled up, drawing his own weapon and quickly struck his scimitar through the undead’s head. Tobs and Marvin grabbed the chest again and continued to move.
Samantha turned and faced the approaching undead and the cloud of darkness that followed. Raising her holy symbol she began to pray and attempted to channel her God, which had been very intermittent while on Aramaya.
The need was true and the prayer succeeded, Samantha felt her Goddess on the edges of her perception. It was distant but suddenly a voice spoke to her “Avandra is with you…” a flutter of wings past by on the edge of her vision and her holy symbol flared to life. Avandra filled her with light.
The undead screamed and pulled away as did the foul darkness. It remained on the edge of her light as she slowly retreated up the tunnel, protecting her friends. The undead snarled, feeling the burning power of the Light. The darkness moved forward, attempting to pierce her protective wall but failing.
Samantha felt powerful – The Light of Avandra coursed through her. She was a divine conduit. But then she felt the light flickering, the power being disrupted again. And then the darkness pulled apart and the Lich appeared. It stared at Samantha.
“You shall join us in death…” It hissed and raised its arm. Making a fist Samantha felt the Light snuffed out as the Lich’s power struck her. She felt a tightness in her chest. The Lich slowly approached.
“Run…” The voice whispered in her ear and the Holy Light flared one last time. The darkness fell back and the Lich screamed as it lost its grasp on Samantha. She turned and fled.
The Darkness immediately pursued as she ran to catch up with her friends.
At the top of the cave the Heroes took a swift turn South to successfully run out of the cave into broad daylight even as another massive earthquake shook the entire area. The Darkness was finally catching up to them and tendrils poured out of the cave only to pull back as the light of the day assaulted it. It roiled in almost life-like anger on the edge of the cave.
The ground opened up and Brunor fell forward, barely grasping onto the edge.
Tobs dropped his end of the chest and joined Samantha in helping Brunor back up. Marvin took the chest by himself the final way to their pair of horses and strapped it in.
The cave shuddered and erupted. Earth exploded skyward filling the sky with a black cloud even as a massive structure began to lift itself up and out of the ground. Undead that had been trapped in the cave tunnels fell from the sky on all sides of the structure as smooth stone towers rose.
The Heroes mounted their horses and began to retreat even as the structure finished rising – a huge Fortress lifted out of the ground by dark magics. Tobs immediately recognized it from books in the Warstein library – it was the Clan Fortress of Clan Warhammer, an ancient Dwarven Clan thought lost at the time of the Cataclysm, one thousand years ago.
Massive double doors closed and a portcullis fell to close off the Fortress.
A voice spoke in the heads of the Heroes. “You will all serve Clan Warhammer in death. All will serve us eventually…”
And the the voice was gone and the sun shone bright as the last of the fallout rained down…
A few hours later our Heroes reach Minsc. The town is in a state of panic and they are met at the entrance by a large crowd made up of townspeople, skittish town guards, Bruenor Thunderstone and Governor Alistair. Alistair is in a panic, asking the Heroes what has happened. Apparently the emergence of the Warhammer Clan Fortress and the accompanying earthquakes reached all the way to Minsc.
The Heroes did not speak of the undead horde or the Fortress but that they had defeated the bandits and that the town had nothing more to fear from them. Alistair attempted to trick the Heroes and give them a reward of 500 gold instead of 600. Marvin immediately confronted the Governor and Alistair relented, paying them the full amount of 600 gold and begging forgiveness, telling them that the extra 100 gold would have helped the town out. They had not received any payments from the capital of Gorram City in the last two months since the bandit disruptions began.
After the altercation, the heroes decided to rest at the Stonefield Inn. They would rise in the morning to travel back to Sigil. During the evening, the heroes spoke to the proprieter, Bruenor Thunderstone who they trusted and told him what really happened and the rise of Clan Fortress Warhammer.
Samantha took to the streets by herself and made her way to the Town Hall where she met with Governor Alistair. She gave him all the gold she had on her, 45 gold and begged Alistair to take the townspeople and leave. She told him in private about the undead threat.
Alistair told her he wished it was so simple. The capital needed Minsc for food and dairy production and they simply couldn’t pick up and move. He hoped that when the heroes took the news of the undead threat to Sigil, that Sigil would be able to inform the Capital and have soldiers sent to protect the small town.
With nothing left to be said, Samantha returned to the Stonefield Inn and the heroes slept until the morning. The town gifted what they could to the mercenaries and gave them each a simple horse for their travel back to Gorram City.
As they prepared to leave, a familiar face appeared riding into town. It was Rush, the farmer. He realized that running had been wrong and that his master had sacrificed himself. He felt it. He knew that he had to continue down the path of the Platinum Dragon and was ready to join the heroes in their journey.
Together, they began their return trip to the capital which took two and a half days, passing through the city of Millstone on the way.
The capital city drew near and the heroes entered and headed for the large Sigil Compound, where they immediately met with their boss, Blix and delivered Sigil’s share of the profit.
It was a long debriefing as the heroes went over the entire mission, describing their descent into the bandit caves, their victory against the bandit leader Jax and finally the arrival of the Lich and his army of undead dwarves.
Blix told them that he would tell his bosses about the situation. They would hopefully be able to contact the Eladrin Lord of Gorram, Lord Kain and that he would mobilize soldiers to protect Minsc.
Finally, they handed the scribbled note to Blix. The note read: Disrupt all traffic between the capital and Minsc for at least another month and was signed with a Z.
With the debriefing over, our heroes took their leave of Blix’s office and headed off for their individual apartments for some well deserved Rest & Relaxation…
END OF A GATHERING OF HEROES