The Keepers of Los Claustros

Chapter 2: The Hall of the Mountain King

The Keepers arrive at Hammermount to find it under siege by Baal and his demonic horde. The front gate is barred beyond any possibility. To fight through the army would be suicide. Three-Jack recalls a bit of lore about Hammermount – namely, that ancient artificers built a tunnel under the city in order to facilitate their invasion of the Melancholy Mountains. He leads them to the entrance of the barrow, where they’re met by an enormous, stone dragon.

The dragon introduces itself as Oldwing, former guardian of Hammermount. He confesses that he knows the Keepers are hunting his mistress, Aela Haydron. He allows them entry, but threatens to raze every town if Aela is harmed.

The Keepers enter the barrow and immediately feel a strange aura of fear. A deep, penetrating sense of foreboding. Then they stumble over a dead body with its eyes clawed out. They proceed deeply, through a mist that drives the senses from their minds, past a puzzle with troubling implications, past an ambush of maddened zombies, and deeper into the the pit of fear.

They continue until they find a figure seated on a stone throne, grumbling to itself. When the Keepers try to move past it, it mutters “Away,” and half the group simply disappears. The remaining adventurers beat the thing until it breaks, then push past it into a pit. The pit contains a number of chairs, stone thrones with emaciated bodies. And a few Keepers, frozen in unconscious fear.

The Keepers find the source of the oppressive sense of fear in the back of the room. They awaken their friends and investigate the machine. It is a box filled with incredibly complex machinery and enchanted with arcane runes, and it emits a barely audible frequency that elicits a terrible dread in those who hear it. The box is attached to struts that radiate like tendrils deeply into the mountain. The Keepers shatter them, and the fear partially dissolves.

They decide to venture deeper into the mountain, toward Hammermount. There, they find Haydron in her changeling form, known as Axid. She castigates the Keepers for damaging the fear engine, revealing that it was a superweapon she was improving in order to repel the sieges tormenting Hammermount.

That’s right. Sieges.

In retribution for the dwarves’ actions against Thieves’ Landing, the pirates have invaded the city and are prepared to seize the capitol. And demons threaten to push through the barricades within the week.

Haydron wishes only to protect the dwarves, whom she has adopted as her own people. Thanks to the Keepers, her weapon has failed. Regardless, she agrees to surrender her position as chancellor and flee the city.

The Keepers lead her out and return to Oldwing. She gives the Keepers her segment of the book and through a veil of tears, begs them to end the violence. Oldwing spirits her away to his roost, then agrees to bring the Keepers to Freedom, where the next portion of the book is hidden.

Freedom is in flames. Everyone is dead. President Summer, the next agent of the Eternal Hunger, has relocated to Fort Summer.

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