Hammertime

The escape
Kalderak's log

After being captured by the cult of nurgle, we awoke in a dismal slave pen with close to 200 other dwarves. We found that we had been marked – strange runes etched on our faces that seemed to sap our energy. We had been stripped of all of our belongings. We also found ourselves with strange new powers, a gift from whatever force instilled the mark on our faces.

The dwarves in the slave pens were in a wretched state. Most of them avoided our gaze and only a few would even address us. One of them, a dwarf named Bronty, gave us a rundown of the goings on in Tarran Tor. The cult of Nurgle is responsible for enslaving the dwarves, and they have been having them mine for a strange green gemstone on a daily basis.

It came time for us to form up and head to the mines. As we were about to leave, we noticed a sickly dwarf that was too weak to stand up to head out for the daily labours. Eventually the skaven guards came to take him away. The thought of the unspeakable things that might be done to the dwarf at the hands of the skaven proved too much for Ernst. He desperately lunged forward to try to put the dwarf out of his misery and succeeded in bashing his skull in with a stone. However, the skaven guardsmen took his gesture as an attack, and viciously beat and stabbed him into an unconscious state.

The skaven took Ernst for dead and began to drag him away, when I attempted to plead with them to allow us to heal him so he could do his part in the mines. The slave guard leader, B-RAV, intervened and used his nefarious powers to “heal” the wounds on Ernst. I fear there may be consequences for Ernst related to this evil healing that he has received.

We were shackled and led out with the procession of 200 dwarf slaves and 50 or so guards. Just outside of Tarran Tor we found that a massive mining pit had been dug into the ground – a gaping hole with a staircase spiraling down around the outer rim. We led with a pack of around 20 other dwarves to a remote area, where we were assigned picks, hammers and shovels to begin our labour. Little did our three skaven guards know that in our hands these tools would mean their demise.

We decided that there was no interest in prolonging our time in the slave camps – any attempt at trying to plan an escape with our fellow dwarves seemed unlikely to increase our chance at success – any talk of defiance was deliberately ignored, which made me particularly wary of speaking against our master too loudly, less one of our fellow captives pass along the information to curry favour with the enemy.

We devised a plan to surprise the Skaven. Barador managed to break the chains attaching his feet without attracting attention. Dovrak and Ernst jumped the tougher skaven guarding the entrance to the cave, preventing him from blowing his whistly. I managed to slay the other two guards with a divine attack, while Barador bashed in the skull of the leader with a mining pick. We then freed the surprised dwarves and convinced them that their time of slavery was over and that it was time to be free.

The next part was a blur – we swept through the mines freeing the remaining dwarves and killing some of the guards, but our efforts were quickly noticed and the alarm was raised. We had to make our way out of the pit, suffering a barrage of missile fire from above. Despite having fashioned some rudimentary shields for cover, the dwarven slaves took heavy losses. We fought for every step and finally made it to the top, only to be encountered by fully 40 guards. The leader B-RAV was there, wielding the mighty Beetlekrad of Barador, along with two skaven shaman and countless other skavens.

We desperately unleashed everything we had in the battle to bring down B-RAV. Waves of skaven and dwarven minions were slain, but finally the skaven were routed. B-RAV fell and Barador picked up the mighty Beetlekrad once more. This proved to be too much for the skaven, and the remainder fled. All told, we lost almost one third of the dwarf slaves.

On the bright side, we managed to salvage all of our things from the dead skaven guards, who had divided it up amongst each other. Now we are faced with the difficult problem of where to go next. To the south, where the cult of nurgle is constructing a strange giant bell out of the green warpstone, and where the hub of the cult is located? Or to the north, where the town of Tarran Tor is, and where the remaining dwarf slaves are located?

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Captured!
Kalderak's log

We began in the cramped ankheg tunnels beneath Tarran Tor. We managed to find an exit close to the temple, our primary objective. We lay hidden and observed the happenings of the skaven city for a time, trying to establish where to go and how we might sneak into the temple. No clear path existed.

While we were observing the skaven temple, a band of skaven emerged from a building adjacent to our hiding point. Dovrak and I counselled the group on how to remain properly hidden and how to muffle the sounds of their metal armour, and thanks to our masterful stealthiness, we remained undetected.

We searched for a path that could lead us towards the temple in a way to reduce our chances of being detected, but we found no possible avenues. Everywhere there seemed to be beady eyes watching out for intruders, either around the slave pens or by the temple entrance. We discussed at length on how we might approach our task. It became clear that our presence had been detected in the city, as the skaven and the chosen became quite agitated around the temple. A large contingent left off towards the gate where we had entered.

Barador seized upon this opportunity to take the initiative and charge the temple while there appeared to be no observers. He ran directly towards the entrance, and I felt compelled to stay close on his heels to provide some backup. After a brief hesitation, Ernst and Dovrak followed.

We made it to the entrance of the temple, but were observed by a couple guards posted at a nearby building. Our folly became rapidly clear – the gig was up, and soon the whole city would know we were attacking their (un)holy sanctum. We resigned ourselves to make the best of the situation, hoping to make our way into the temple to secure a defensible position. Barador and I engaged the enemies inside the temple, and Dovrak and Ernst joined us soon after.

The battle raged for what seemed like hours. We felled many skaven scum, but they seemed to be endless. Reinforcements for the skaven came from inside the temple and from outside. Despite battling ferociously, we eventually became outnumbered. Barador was the first to fall, followed shortly after by the rest of us.

We woke in the very same slave pen we were originally hoping to reach, stripped of all of our belongings and marked by the very same mark we were hoping to learn how to remove.

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Back to Tarran Tor
Kalderak's log

After preparations lasting a week, we left the relative safety of the dwarf refugee camp to embark on a quest to make contact with Tarran Tor once more. Two dwarf brothers, Jaden and Braden, came along in order to try to find any surviving family members that may still be in Tarran Tor.

After an uneventful trek lasting several days, we approached the southern gate of Tarran Tor. After observing from a distance, we decided that the best course of action would be to lay an ambush for a TT patrol that might leave or return to the city. After finding a suitable spot and laying in wait for a short time, a patrol finally did come by, on their way back towards the city. Our ambush worked quite effectively, and we made short work of the patrol, leaving one enemy dwarf alive for questioning.

We managed to learn a few things about the mark found on the enemies’ faces. First of all, looking at the mark proved very difficult – more than a brief glance caused us to become nautious and feel awful. Ernst managed to cancel the effect of a mark on a dead dwarf, but the result seemed quite damaging and did not seem viable for a live subject. We decided to trust our captive and bring him along with us, as he proved to be a valuable source of information on Tarran Tor.

After some discussion, we finally decided we would try to sneak into the city with an elaborate plan to foil the guards into thinking we were a patrol returning with wounded comrades. We crafted some disguises using skaven bits and we carried along a “wounded” skaven with us, to deceive the guards. We drew fake marks on our faces to mimic our enemies. Our plan worked, though the guards were alerted to our ruse at the last second. We managed to get our feet in the gates and we slew the guards without having the alarm raised. We left the gate open to give the impression that some dwarves escaped from the city, and we began to infiltrate the town.

We took refuge in a building in a secluded sector of Tarron Tor while we discussed what to do. Our initial idea is to try to reach the temple where the mark is placed on the dwarves and skaven, to attempt to find a way to counter the mark. If that fails, we will try to free the dwarves from the pens. The main problem we faced is to find a way through the enemy checkpoints strategically placed throughout the city, effectively barring our passage. That is when we noticed a tunnel burrowed into the ground near to our hideout.

We decided to investigate the tunnel to see if it could lead us to a part of the city where we could access the temple or the dwarf pens unmolested. The tunnels proved to be quite cramped, barely high enough for us to move through. After some time, we were attacked by giant ants and a fierce battle ensued. The cramped quarters made combat difficult, and Barador took the brunt of the ant attacks, having been placed as rear guard. At one point he fell, and one of the giant ants started to drag his unconscious body away, but we managed to revive him just in time and finish off the ants.

Our next step is to continue on, hopefully to find a way to the temple through the underground tunnels, to find a way to reverse the mark on our dwarven kin.

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The Undoing
Old as the Mountain

Having escaped the crumbling great chamber where we’d set off the explosion to isolate Tarran Tor from the White Dwarves, we found ourselves in a strange set of tunnels indeed. At first all that was different about the passages we followed was that they seemed to be made of a mix of caverns put together like a grand puzzle. Evidence of this was found in the way the passages were suddenly made of entirely incompatible rock types.

But when we finally reached a chamber that had been finished by Dwarven hands we met an even stranger situation for we found ourselves at a doorway that was clearly marked on its lintels: “Here rests the beardless king.”

Could this be referring to the ancient beardless king that I recalled from our histories? The one whose errors and blind aggression in his pyrrhic battles against the skaven are now every parent’s admonition towards forethought?

We only had to step a bit further passed the masterly crafted ante-chamber into the beardless king’s apparent tomb to confirm this. Only we met with no sarcophagi for he and his loyal thanes. Instead they sat before us on thrones! But their flesh was made into lifelike stone by the truly wondrous new runes we found carved all over the room! Moradin be praised, needless to say I committed these to parchment and memory but had little time to rejoice in the finding before the earth began to quake outside the throne room.

It was at this point that Kalderak complained that we were being pursued by a malevolent spirit that was causing the tremors…and the bad spirit was seemingly getting closer.

Thus, our next step was to try and secure the artifact weapons and armour that were of no more use to the Beardless One and his boon companions. But this proved difficult until I found a way to weaken the room’s preservation runes.

We secured the sword, axe, hammer, shields and crown but feared that our tampering might also have brought the walls down around our heads at any moment. It did not. Instead we now all felt the presence of the malevolent spirit and it teleported us to an entirely new place where the treacherous rat Tchkriss was to be found speaking with what we assume was the very evil soul that had taken us to him.

He only noticed us after he appears to have won a victory of negotiation with the fell spirit. Whereupon he instantly looked upon us, summoned two poisonous stone golems from the walls and disappears in a diseased mist.

We dispatched the corrupted earth elementals and endeavored to keep their corrupted heartstones—all that remained of them—for further study.

We tried to search the rat shaman out but had no leads. We walked many miles through more of what I have described before: jigsaw elements of places we’d been, places we never have heard of and even encountered some of my runic labels…except only in chunks and often strangely mis-oriented.

Then the strangeness increased by another full measure: we realized at one point after Kalderak had done some mapping that we had been traveling lost for a VERY long time. By the time he felt evidence of familiarity (the grove where we’d battled the beetle so long ago) where we found the small refugee village, we realized that we’d been gone for 24 years! Thank Moradin for his ritual of renewal for the state of our equipment. But we have no idea what is causing us to no longer age or need normal sustenance.

It was an aged Vliksiss who we first found. He was friendly to us and this surprised us. Until he informed us of Tchkriss’ corruption of most of the other skaven…as well as the vast majority of Tarran Tor’s—our—people! He led us to the refugee camp where we now rest.

They filled us in on the recent history: of the defeat of the white dwarves followed by the plague in turn followed by the fell pact entered into by Tarran Tor with Tchkriss that saved our people from the disease…at the cost of their liberty and sanity…

Now we must decide what is to be done with these refugees. Should we follow Vliksiss to the surface? Should we find a way to free the Tarran Tor from their curse and rescue as many of the Marked as we can? Or do we strike out to find new dwarven civilization such that they take in our refugees and do battle with the Cult of Tchkriss?

I carve these runes on these walls lest we be struck down before we speak them.
Glyph-Carver Ernst

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Lonely no more
Invasion

With the fungal dwarves hot on our tail we decided to head back to the cave-in area. It was a long run and without Barador’s epic endurance we would have failed and been over-run.

However, when we arrived at the cross-roads we found that someone had triggered the cave-in trap we’d set…we know not who. We ran and hid down the skaven fork to avoid the onrushing mycanoids. When their noises died down we went back to investigate but found that there were numerous still there including some sort of plant behemoth – a mixed up construct of many species melded together with the fungal disease – digging out the cave-in.

Their numbers overwhelming, we retreated to consider our options: either deal with the skaven to help us defeat the diggers or try to find an alternate path home with or without skaven guidance.

Having tried to negotiate with his apparent second in command, the assassin Vliksis, the skaven shaman Tchkriss agreed to help us defeat the digging fungals. A large part of the work was done by them by sending 3 grenadiers with jars of fire water that were almost instantly lethal to the guarding mushroom people. We helped finish the job but realized that the skaven were better possessed with knowledge to defeat our mutual enemy.

Speaking of possessed, though, it should be noted that Tchkriss seems to be very powerful thanks to his staff imbued with a green glowing rock but this power seems to be coming at great cost to him in the form of seizures and strange corruptions of his body.

He does seem to be fully possessed of his mental capacities, however, and when he recommended that we destroy the fungal creatures that seemed to be tasked with spreading their spore, we saw that he was not without wisdom. Similarly, he taught us that the creatures surrounded by the miasma cloud of spores seem to lead the mindless automatons among them.

In any case, we all made short work of the fungal dig team and continued on to Tarran Tor. We’d made a deal with the shaman to instigate a parley with him and our leaders but he wandered off before we could organize the details.

Happy were we when we met Captain Briggs on the way home and informed him of all that had come to pass. He told us to get back and continued on to guard the cave-in site.

Once back in town we were debriefed by lieutenant Virfildson and reassigned to the 1st Basalt Diggers whom we joined on escort duty for a week of more excavation with brave Dovrak leading the expedition as our seargent.

I don’t know about my commrades but I was shocked at how little care the leadership was taking about the obvious and imminent threat of the fungal dwarves. Luckily we do seem to be developing some explosive “grenades” which may yet come in handy.

Sure enough, we returned from the uneventful escort duty to find that the entire city was embroiled in a fight for its life. The White Dwarves had overrun Briggs’ position and were invading.

The lieutentant was happy to see us return seemingly in the nick of time and we were quickly tasked with escorting Birloff Stoutgut’s Brimstone Sappers to the crossroads between the Basalt and Granite tunnels. There we fought off a push from the fungal dwarves despite their ranged weapon superiority and the Sappers managed to explode their enourmous “bomb” and seal off the White Dwarf’s entry to our town.

We stand now separated from the sappers by a large cave-in on the fungal dwarf side of the crossroads unsure of the outcome of the battle at large.

I carve these runes on these walls lest we be struck down before we speak them.
Glyph-Reader Ernst, 1st Basalt Diggers.

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Bolthome
Ghost City

We decided to rest up at the original dig site for a night and to press onward to reconnoiter for traces of survivors and perhaps signs of the enigmatic White Dwarves.

We took the dressed tunnels for a few minutes until we found our way barred by giant doors adorned with a sigil of a stone cube pierced by a crossbow bolt. Beyond was a strange arena of some sort with signs of a recent battle in the far corner next to similar doors beyond. A bodkin crossbow bolt was found lodged into the stone bleachers.

From here we heard the sounds of battle that surely included skaven. It was indeed skaven but a very weak party of them being decimated by what appeared to be the very White Dwarves we sought. We came to the dwarves aid against the wretched ratmen and put them to flight. But the dwarves, rather than being grateful seemed incapable of such a sentiment and proceded to attack us in preternatural unison when Dovrak mentioned the name of our sacred town: Tarran Tor.

We overcame the dwarven axemen and their brethren with Crossbows so large and powerful as to be a minor wonder of engineering. But not without the aid of Thengir who was a member of the 1st Granite Diggers who we were sent to relieve on our original mission.

He told us of a trap laid by these White Dwarves for his comrades once they had collapsed the dig and decided to explore further. He was isolated from them and not the worse for wear when we found him. The Glyphs of Moradin showed themselves in his favour…and in ours…this time.

We wondered what curse had befallen these white dwarves with their well-worn but equally well-made weapons and armour to make them into mindless mushroom zombies. Barador and Kalderak offered postulates but no sure answers; we did all agree with Kalderak, however, that we should wear cloth masks around our noses and mouths lest their condition was brought on by the spores we are seeing on all the walls. Everything, but especially any remaining wood-fungus is covered in this pink stuff which glows and is so prevalent now that we don’t need our sunrods for light.

Introductions with our new found squad-mate having been completed, we endeavored to continue our reconnaissance. We noted a remaining Skaven from their battle and parlayed with him so that we could continue without fear of reprisal from the rear. Slim assurance from the jaws of a rat…but better than nothing.

We passed through many lengths of tunnels with rooms that offered evidence of the outskirts of a passed dwarven civilization. These included guard posts, some storage chambers and what seemed to be a farmstead who’s soil had turned to sand and who’s farm implements had turned mostly to dust.

Finally we reached a great steel enforced gate like the last ones but even greater. Beyond was a huge dwarven city that was silent and quite dead. The clear tracks probably all made by white dwarves in this area all avoid the terraced city and head straight through on the boulevard on which we entered and which appears to go on to a new cavern after the city.

We explored the city and found no trace of white dwarves except the prevalent spore everywhere. Everywhere except the Temple to Moradin; Hammer of the Gods be praised!

But as we disturbed the spore more and more in the area it appeared to begin to pulse. And then, as we explored yet more, it turned from pink to bright red. Perhaps we should have cut our losses but many holy valuables were to be found and we did not feel it right to leave sacred gold to the misappreciation of the mindless dwarves. It was certainly eerie to explore a town so abruptly abandoned…but wealth is a virtue.

Sure enough we were eventually attacked by a fungus dwarf reconnaissance party led by what appeared to be the fungally possessed seargent of the 1st Granite Diggers. Curse this fungus, we eventually defeated them though we were hamstrung by our fear of getting trapped by a city of white dwarves and never living to tell this dire warning. We didn’t have time to defeat the thankfully small party before we noticed a shambling mass of white dwarves in the distance approaching from beyond the ghost city. Needless to say, we retreated to count our coins.

I carve these runes on these walls lest we be struck down before we speak them.
Sigil-Keeper Ernst, 2nd Granite Diggers.

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Escort Duty
The 2nd Granite Diggers

We escorted Foreman Briggs and his group of 10 tunnelling engineers.

The 12 or so hour trip to the excavation site was quiet.

When we arrived we saw very little sign of the excavation unit we were meant to relieve. All that was left was their transport which had apparently been rummaged around by skaven. There was no sign of struggle leading up to the skaven looting the heavy equipment.

After some investigation it was determined that there had been a cave-in where the last group had been excavating. Briggs sounded the miner’s morse code on the collapsed stone and got a faint response. The excavators proceeded to try to extricate any survivors.

We found one survivor (name?!) and revived him. He told us that the cave-in had been intentional but it was unclear what they were escaping. The survivor was a little incoherent but we gleaned that his comrade Linkstone (?) had triggered the cave-in with the approach of some White Dwarves.

The only White Dwarves we know of are the holy warriors of a sub-cult that’s been dead for 500 years.

Further excavation revealed the mangled and dead body of Linkstone and finally the excavators reached to an opening to a passage beyond the cave-in. One of them stuck their head in the hole to see beyond and was prompty snatched by what we later learned was a Rat-Ogre with particularly diseased flesh and bits of glowing florescent green stone embedded willy-nilly in his flesh.

We rushed to open the passage further to rescue the snatched excavator and met with a group of well-prepared Skaven slingers being led by a lurking assassin Skaven. When we charged them we were also set upon by some vicuous dire rats. We dispatched this rear-guard and chased the scent of the rat-ogre and the assassin skaven whom we had injured before he scampered away.

It took us an hour or so to track down the skaven village…but before then we came across a Living Cavern where we disturbed and were attacked by a giant beetle. We defeated it and salvaged part of its carapace which is known to be good for crafting.

At the village, a skaven shaman, the assassin, the rat-ogre and a few of their minions were waiting for them. We tried to negotiate for the life of the captured engineer but the bastards had already eaten him. In our rage we attacked the skaven but were only able to fight to a stand-off.

We negotiated being able to retrieve dog-tags from the skaven refuse pile and it became clear that part of the missing excavation team wasn’t neccesarily to be found here. We must assume that there is a chance they’ve been captured by these mysterious white dwarves. Hopefully we can get more info from that confused engineer.

I carve these runes on these walls lest we be struck down before we speak them.
Sigil-Keeper Ernst, 2nd Granite Diggers.

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