Hellgate Keep. The name conjures up dreams of pleasant places, does it not? It was not always called this, of course. Once upon a time it was part of the ancient Dwarven nation of Amarindar, of which our ancestors were kings. Now, long after the glory of the Dwarves has faded, this place is used to summon demons – demons who breed with elves, no less! – and they befoul the resting places of our ancestors.
A powerful mage, dangerous beyond reckoning, lives up above, and we have escaped his notice (I hope) by making our way into the bowels of Hellgate Keep through underground means. As we tried to sort out the best route down into the lower levels, imagine our surprise when two elves came crawling up out of the depths! We reached an accord with them. They had some magic to seal off these tunnels for good and all, and we had six days to do what we need to do.
There’s a map of ancient Amarindar that we need in order to find the remaining items we seek. That, we must find. Apparently, there is some evil magic at work in these tunnels that will make any seal of theirs weak at best, so we go to seek that out as well.
To get there, we first passed through a long, strange hall, crafted by an ancient Elven mage. If you cannot resist its effects, it forces you to relive every memory of your life in vivid detail. Thankfully, the Ebonhall brothers are strong of mind, and none of us was so overcome. Anvil – I think no one truly understands how such a simple mind can be so utterly complex – even made contact with the spirit of this strange mage. For a few moments, he glowed with a blue light, brighter than any sapphire. As usual, his comments after were…strange.
We uncovered a grand burial chamber, littered with shattered sarcophagi. Our ancestors do not rest easy, it seems. One of these tombs, appearing slightly more recent than the rest, was a trap that sent us to a hellspawned chamber with a stone throne in it, carved in the likeness of the Hand of Bain. It was foul and threatened to destroy us, but the Ebonhall brothers are no easy prey these days, and we broke the power of that vile symbol in this place – praise be to Moradin.
One of the other tombs, also unspoiled, held in it a dreadful thing, a dwarf turned vampire. Staked through the heart and enchained with strongly crafted chains and wreaths of garlic, it would take little to awaken him, I fear. Yet I also fear we will have little choice in the days ahead, for we have learned of the Foundry of Souls, and only one whose soul has already fled can tell us more of this thing and the dangers it poses.
Putting that on hold until we must, we pressed on deeper into the underbelly of Hellgate Keep, where we happened upon a mirror with an imp trapped within it. I did not – still do not, nor likely ever will – trust this creature, but my brothers cannot resist a riddle, and three riddles had to be solved in order to free this creature. So now an imp dogs our steps and calls us master, but he is a spiteful, sarcastic wretch, and I like him little. He did tell us more of the Foundry of Souls, though I did not like to hear it. A smoke demon is now chained to it and forges weapons night and day for someone who can be little else to us and our kind but an enemy. He also told us of a vile, demon-conjuring sorceress who stood in our way.
We girded up our loins and decided to go after her. As things go, I’ve had terrible luck facing witches and sorceresses, and I expected to owe my life to Bravil yet again for his knowledge of herbs and healing magics. This time, praise Moridin, we were able to get the drop on the bitch and take both she and her big Nalfeshnee tusk monkey down quickly. That’s not to say we did it without cost – I don’t doubt I’ll have a bit of a limp for the rest of my life where that demon bit through my leg – but we prevailed, and we did it with little harm to ourselves. I count that a victory.