…of their latest liberated warehouse…
…the heroes found a trapped room where High Ancestor Durkik Forgeheart has imprisoned while a doppelganger took his place. General Zithiruun has been forced hire a doppelganger for Durkik’s replacement because of the limitations of a certain Githzerai ritual. The general used this dark rite to take over the minds of several high-ranking military officers (including Captain Aerun), high priests (including Matron Volorvyn of the Raven Queen’s Temple), and business owners (as well as one of the aides of the Council of Elders).
The aging cleric still looked a bit worse for wear after his ordeal being tortured by the powerful enemies of Overlook, but he told Ancestor Karros he wanted to deliver the sermon himself. As he mounted the dais, he seemed to draw strength from the image of Moradin at his forge, chiseled into the top of the altar. “I have come to you today,” he began in a surprisingly strong voice, “not to ask you to confess your own sins, but to ask you to listen to me confess mine own.”
But it has its drawbacks: The ritual destroys the memories of the mind which is taken over.
And General Zithiruun believed the mind of Durkik harbored important information about Mountainroot Temple. As it turned out, Forgeheart knew little about the Temple Between (as Mountainroot is sometimes known). Thus, the heroes found the real Durkik badly tortured. Zithiruun had gone to the temple without the intelligence he sought from Durkik, because the High Ancestor did not know much about the temple.
“I was recently captured by the enemies of Overlook and tortured. As I lay there, hanging in my chains beneath The Blister, I asked Moradin what I had done to deserve such a fate.” Knowing what was coming next, Ancestor Karros could not help feeling a surge of pride in his master. “And my answer came to me! For I have been prideful, believing that I deserved all that came to me as your High Ancestor. I grew too comfortable in the prerogatives of this office and too heedless of its responsibilities.”
And so it was that the next morning High Ancestor Durkik brought the party to a dusty room. He was able to manipulate some ancient scrolls which caused a secret mechanism to open a way forward.
Finally, a loud click resounded throughout the room, and one of the walls slid open with a deafening rumble and a cascade of powdered stone.
“This is it,” he told them. “The sepulcher. I cannot go any farther.”
“Once I realized that I had become soft in my enjoyment of the luxuries this office affords me, I began to learn humility…something that is hard to learn when everyone treats you as if being a High Ancestor is just what you deserve. And Moradin sent me a rescue in a most unusual form: An undead representative of the Raven Queen, a revenant named Raven.”
The heroes proceeded cautiously into the room. As they passed each set of chandeliers, the magickal devices hanging from the ceiling sprang to light, gradually illuminating the sepulcher.
To the right and left, stairs led down to an open lower level, transforming the floor on which they stood into a central walkway, with two narrower ledges along both sides of the room. At the far end, an elaborate filigree bulged from the wall, almost hiding the stone door behind it.
The filigree depicted Moradin at his forge. Once someone touched the elaborate iron artwork, the god’s part of the filigree bulged still further, looking up from his forge and challenging the party to construct a parable to demonstrate their knowledge of Moradin’s precepts and the principles by which he asks his followers to live their lives.
“Raven left and brought back two more of the heroes who have repeatedly saved our city. I was humbled by the fact that Moradin had sent such great heroes — friends of Storm Johnson, no less — to save one prideful priest from his own folly. First, Coppershot Thundershield, known to some of you as Copper, tried to bend the tubes which were set up to project mighty spears at my heart.”
The party chose Grigore to deliver their story, The Parable of the Miner. They racked their brains for the history of the great heroes who dedicated their lives to Moradin’s service, but ended up relying on Zumos’s knowledge of religion. Drake the Enforcer suggested a story based on building family, but Grigore elected to go with stoicism and perseverance.
“Copper was able to bend one of the three tubes, but another proved too stout for even his dwarven strength, just as the third — located on the ceiling — proved to be out of his reach. It was then that Samwise stepped in.” Karros smiled as the crowd recognized the name of the plucky hobbit. “Yes, even Sam the Foresworn found the time to rescue me. He was able to figure out how the trap on the door was set up to trigger the spears. Any false move might have sent death hurtling toward my breast, but Sam proved up to the task.”
The rest of the party, with varying degrees of success, performed a pantomine while the Goldforge family black sheep gave his performance (perhaps wishing he had some of Jerath’s skills at telling such stories). Once the parable was told — and accepted by Moradin — a gate opened in the filigree and the party was able to pass through without fighting the chain golems which otherwise guarded the entrance to Mountainroot Temple.
“But it was not Coppershot’s strength nor Sam’s dexterity which inspired me to renew my oaths to this city and forge ahead with new resolve. It was the bravery shown by Zumos, a mage from the southlands. Whilst the others worked to stop the spears from killing me, the Wizard of the Septarchs managed to slip past the bars of my prison and interposed his own body between mine and the spears.” As the faithful gasped in amazement, Karros nodded in satisfaction. His master had not lost his ability to draw in his listeners.
Inside the temple itself, the heroes found something totally unexpected: Not only was Mountainroot guarded by dwarves, but also by strange, fae harpies.
The party had no way of knowing what fae creatures were doing in an ancient temple dedicated to Moradin.