Taking the Massacre Home to Hook Mountain
A few days after the retaking of Rannick, Shayliss wanders down from guard duty on the tower and pops her head into the room where the others have gathered. “We, umm… have a visitor. He’s up on the tower.” Interested, the party follows her back up to the ramparts to find a tiny sprite perched and looking nervous. In a halting torrent, he explains that his mistress sent him to get help for her lover now that the tower is back in the proper hands. She is the same nymph mentioned in Commander Lamatar’s poetry, and she has apparently sensed that he was taken to the ogre clanhold in Hook Mountain and turned into some sort of undead creature. She asks, through her fey intermediary, that they party destroy the abomination he has become and return enough of his body to her to reincarnate. The heroes of Sandpoint and now Turtleback Ferry readily agree, and with the sprite’s help pinpoint the location of the ogre stronghold. The Black Arrows remain to guard Fort Rannick while the party goes to eliminate the ogre threat for good.
After a chilly two-day trek through the mountains, Veshenga leads them via the most direct route to a vantage point where they can spy a large cave opening belching smoke from within the earth. Hiding and watching, the party soon makes out two ogre sentries hidden within the mouth of the cave. Haggor and Taeva slink through the snow and get within striking distance before the oblivious and snowblind ogres have a chance and initiate a barrage of pain followed by artillery from Veshenga, Balekh, and Shayliss some distance away. Confirming that there are no other immediate sentries, the party regroups and begins working their way into the cave.
The ogre clanhold is immense, featuring a gauntlet of dragon ribs, intricate and ancient carvings, and a massive dead giant in full plate, being preserved by a Sihedron medallion the size of a shield. To Balekh’s trained eye, these carvings are clearly of Thassilonian inspiration, possibly even of Thassilonian origin, making this the only site they have yet encountered of Thassilon that was not simply a dead relic persisting through ancient magics.
Slipping further into the cavern, the party gives a cursory check to a charnel pit and finds nothing but burned waste. Below, they quickly wipe out another group of sentries, the trio again falling before they have an opportunity to sound the alarm or even register more than a blur of green skin and fists, a flash of blades and magic, and a barrage of arrows. From here they note three exits: a bright, loud tunnel from which the forge smoke appears to be coming, a silent route with nothing in evidence, and a dark tunnel leaking green fog and faint chanting.
Thinking that the forges will keep for the moment, the party sneaks forward to investigate the ritual. Unfortunately, Taeva is not prepared for an undead guardian lurking in the shadows, and she is quickly set upon by a terrible wight wielding a frozen blade, flashing with claws of frost, and bearing a crown of icicles. The chanting within reaches a fever pitch, and as Haggor and Taeva fight the frost wight, Balekh charges forward to see three terribly ugly, inhuman women gathered around a cauldron from which the steam erupts, gesturing down the corridor. He silences the room, hoping to halt the chanting, but they appear to be able to work silently, raising their gestures to a horrible, threatening pitch. He snaps off a counterspell and interrupts what they were doing, only to have one of them cause the cauldron to burst into a thick, impenetrable fog that quickly fills the room.
Taeva and Haggor rush into the silent, impenetrable fog while the others finish the wight. Within a few moments, Balekh realizes his folly and dismisses the silence so they can hear the two teammates in a deadly battle with the hags, who have apparently been very successful at rending their prey nearly limb from limb. Veshenga fires into the cloud, hoping to hit foes and not friends, and those stuck in the fog coordinate as best they are able. Finally, the gnome and half-orc trudge out of the room, satisfied that they have secured all threats, and Balekh goes to work patching them up as best he can.
After a short break, the party heads down the trail of smoke and witnesses a massive forgework where armed and armored ogre foremen whip apparent ogre thralls into shape making massive ogre hooks and other weapons of war. Hoping the thralls won’t attack if they have no foremen, the party launches another lightning raid into the room. They have slightly less success than with the sentries, but manage to put down the ogres before they have had much time to act and the thralls have barely been ordered to guard their masters.
As the last foreman falls, Haggor puts on his most threatening face and immediately starts screaming at the thralls to get back to work, bluffing for all that he’s worth that this was an internal matter. Seeing the Sihedron runes wielded by the party, and knowing that the Hook Mountain ogres regard it unwittingly as some kind of personal crest, the ogres return to their labor. Haggor quietly questions one of the thralls to get as much information as he can to avoid blowing his cover, then tells them that they have enough weapons for now and need to work on cooking utensils.
With a bewildered set of thralls switching their forges over to pots and pans, the party turns and sets out to track down the master of these halls before he realizes he’s under attack.