The heroes continued to travel northwards along the edge of the High Forest, they came across what appeared to be a ruined temple. Ever cautious, Li scouted ahead, discovering the place was swarming with centipedes and a pair of Ettercaps.
After the bried struggle, they searched the rest of the ruins and were surprised to discover that it appeared to be of dwarven origin. Wrynn recalled the legend of the Delzoun, an ancient dwarven empire that spread across the north-western realms that predated even Netheril. It would be quite common for them to build temple/trading posts above ground, even in a predominently elven area.
Further examination revealed a wide shaft where the earth had given way to a chamber below, perhaps this was where the Ettercaps had come from?
With her companions securing a rope, Li abseiled down into a well lit chamber to find herself surrounded.
An unarmed Ettercap began to approach her as she caught sight of four grey skinned dwarves loading crossbows before disappearing from sight. Li readied her weapons as she called for her comrades to help. As she engaged the Ettercap, Wrynn attempted to descend the rope, landing with a thud on the rubble below, soon accompanied with more grace by Fenrir.
Without warning, the grey skinned dwarves re-appeared, firing their crossbows before discarding them in favour of their warhammers. “Duergar!” cursed Li as she recognised them. The fight was brutal but thanks to the timely intervention of Father Tully’s healing powers, and Li and Fenrir forcing two of the evil dwarves into triggering their own pit trap.
A search of the room revealed a number of gold pieces along with a bottle of strange bronze liquid with Wrynn and Aetholric identified as a healing potion.
At the far side of the room a pair of ornately engraved doors which had been rudely defaced led further into the complex. After checking for traps, Li gave the all clear for the party to forge ahead.
This chamber housed four large stone sarcophagi, and all but one had been smashed open, most likely by the hammer wielding duergar standing beside them. Another Ettercap accompanied by a trio of Fire Beetles and a pair of spiders joined the Duergar in assaulting the party, though in their exuberance the beetles managed to kill most of the Duergar Miners with their fiery blasts rather than harm the heroes. The spiders and Ettercap unfortunately fared better, as before the battles end all the heroes had felt their blood burn with poisons coursing through them. Needing to recoup their strength they made sure that the next set of doors were secured and saw to their wounds. Fargrim took the opportunity to retrieve the heads of the damaged statues from the central pool and replaced them, as he did so a sense of wellbeing filled the room. He then moved to examine the untouched sarcophagus. It was the resting place of a dwarven hero of Moradin “Ivak Stoneblood” and as he read the inscription, images formed above the central pool showing the dwarf in battle against duergar, his mighty anvil headed hammer glowing with Moradins light as he smote them. Then the image changed to show dwarven priests interring the warrior with his sacred weapon in its resting place. Fargrim gave a gentle push and the lid of the sarcophagus slid easily back, revealing the aged corpse but the hammer looked as if new. Fargrim lifted it reverently, feeling the power of Moradin flowing into him, before resealing the lid.
As the next set of doors gave way before them the heroes were confonted with a bizarre sight. This cavernous chapel is dominated by a towering statue originally crafted as a representation of the dwarven deity Moradin. It has been crudely transformed into an image of the bizarre insect deity you’ve seen throughout the temple. Smaller statues of dwarven gods and heroes, similarly disfigured, stand against the walls. Four basins on raised platforms stand in the four corners of the chapel. A rubblechoked passage leads away to the north.
Kneeling before the great statue of the insect god is a stout duergar in green robes. He is flanked by pair of scorpions the size of wolves, and a monstrous spider clings to the towering statue above him. Another pair of duergar arrayed in chainmail and armed with mauls stand protectively beside him. The kneeling duergar was praying loudly in grotesque utterances of some unholy language.
The chanting stopped suddenly, and the kneeling duergar leapt to his feet and turned towards the heroes. His gaunt face twisted in a rictus of hatred and madness. He raised a twitching finger, pointing at them, and shouted in Common, “Slay them in the name of Chitteruk!”
Wrynn and Li took the brunt of the scorpions attention, finding themselves in the grip of their viscious claws, when they did manage to extricate themselves the terrible beasts struck them with their poison stingers.
Fenrir was faring much better as the spider scuttled across the roof to sink its venomous fangs into him as the trio of duergar closed in.
As the insects began to fall the heroes were able to concentrate on grey dwarves, and were surprised when one of the guards, suffering a mighty wound, began to growl and grow before their eyes. Swelling to the size of an ogre and battling on with renewed strength from its huge biceps.
By the time the last foe slid lifeless to the floor, the trio of heroes were all looking decidedly worse for wear and welcomed the healing ministrations of Father Tully as they searched the chamber for hidden treasures.
As they examined the bizarre statue of Chitteruk (a god that none of them had ever heard of) they discovered that it was empowered by a smaller piece of glowing bloodstone, a Shard of Karsus!
As the party marvelled at the ancient relic they also uncovered in the rubble at the rear of the chamber an ornately hilted shortsword which Aetholric identified as a harsh songblade, obviously the duergar weren’t music lovers.
The recovering heroes made their way back to the surface to rest before resuming their journey.