Under the restored glow of the constellations projected upon the ceiling of the cavern, the party could now see that the remainder of the city sat upon a raised portion of land. Another of the odd Y-shaped bridges spanned the river an provided access to the area above. The party continued on and climbed up the portion of the bridge near the observatory. At the top, they came to a long promenade lined with six statues that led to a manor house. The doors to the manor were a smaller replica of the gate leading into Galdegfast and they were firmly sealed.
The six statues were facing away from the bridge and they were constructed out of six different metals. There was a silver priest, a steel warrior, a gold falconer, a mithril militiaman, a bronze mechanic and a brass night watchman. Each bore a plaque at the base. Together, they read:
For finding faith where there was none
For fighting battles that could not be won
For spreading word when we were silenced
For rallying defenses unyielding and defiant
For providing aid with only intellect’s spark
For bearing light to fight the dark
As the adventurers begin to examine the statues closer, they realized that they all appeared to be incomplete in some way or another. Opal found the bird upon the falconer’s arm was missing a tail feather. Cauldrev attempted to fit the golden feather of Galivar into the statue and found it to be a perfect fit. The statue began to move and rotated into a position where it was once again facing the center of the bridge. With assistance from Gavin, Opal was able to place the hammer she found in the Temple of Moradin as the missing piece of the holy symbol for the silver priest as well, returning it to its proper position. While determining what other items they needed to locate for the remaining statues, they also noticed that there were drops of blood on the bridge leading to the gate. Tracking bloodstains backwards, they once again found themselves at Haggart’s workshop. It seemed highly possible that Haggart had been injured at his desk and had managed to make it to the manor house.
After collecting a brass lantern from Haggart’s workshop, a bronze wrench from the observatory and the steel sword used by the abomination in the Church of the Many, the group returned to the promenade to place the items, righting all of the statues but one. No one could recall seeing a mithril shield anywhere in the city but the mystery was solved by the appearance of Fenryth Stormfist. The shield of the undead warden was the last piece needed to unlock the manor and now that the darkness had been driven back almost entirely, Fenryth was able to manifest inside of the city without fear of being controlled. He informed the group that the locks on the manor were usually used to keep attackers out but it appeared as if they had been triggered this time to keep something inside. Before placing his shield, the undead warden warned the party that the creature inside the manor had most likely been watching them and would be able to counter many of their attacks. After getting approval from the group, he placed his shield upon the final statue and once again disappeared. The manor doors opened with a loud click that echoed through the city.
Before they entered, Cauldrev suggested they should rest to be at full strength but he was quickly overruled as the gates had been opened and whatever was inside surely knew that someone was there. Preparing for the inevitable confrontation, they pushed open the gates. Inside was a large garden and courtyard that led up an expansive porch supported by pillars. A set of large double doors led into the manor proper. Flanking the gate were two small guardhouses. The guardhouse to the right also had a large building behind it that appeared to be a barracks. Upon entering, it was obvious that the person who was bleeding had drug themselves along the wall for support through the guardhouse into the barracks. Following the smeared blood, the party entered the barracks and found that the trail stopped at a nondescript set of levers, some of which appeared to have bloody hand prints upon them. Gavin suspected that they were probably used to set the locks on the gates. A stilted message was scrawled on the wall in blood but there was no corpse to be found inside the building. They quickly crossed the courtyard to the main entrance.
As they came to the main doors, they could see another smear of blood, but unlike the others, this was twelve feet up on one of the pillars supporting the porch. Further examination revealed that the stone of the pillar had been cracked by the force of whatever hit it. At this point, the group began to suspect that they were going to face something large, violent and quite strong. The double doors led into a grand hall decorated with several shields and banners depicting dwarven heraldry. The smears of blood continued up the hall at random intervals, all of them located well above the adventurers’ heads. There was much debate as to whether the side halls of the manor should be explored but it was finally decided that whatever they were tracking could not possibly fit through any other doors aside from the ones at the end of the hall. The doors led into a royal audience chamber where a large shadowy figure awaited them by the throne. Although its features were undefined, Cauldrev recognized this immediately as an Image of Orcus, an avatar of a powerful demon prince and sworn enemy of the Raven Queen. Knowing that their foe was not to be trifled with, the party prepared for battle.
As the battle ensued. a thick miasma filled the room and began eating away at the flesh of the attackers. The group soon found out the potency of the demon’s skull mace as well as his ability to strike down his foes with his spiked tail. As Fenryth had predicted, their enemy had prepared for their arrival and the party found that most of their preferred attacks were useless against their foe. Enduring bone-crushing attacks and the constant pain of withering flesh, the adventurers persevered and finally managed to banish the shadows back to the Abyss. As the creature dissolved, its large mace clattered to the ground and the crumpled body of a dwarf was expelled from its depths. Ghesh moved to pick up the mace but was stopped in his tracks as a female voice said, “I would not touch that if I were you.”
A lithe woman stepped from behind the large stone throne. She was clad head-to-toe in black lace and her face was concealed with a black veil. “Your efforts have been noticed and they are appreciated,” she said as she approached the party. She held out a small flat case for Ghesh to take instead of the weapon upon the ground. She bent down and easily lifted the mace although it was nearly twice her size. “I will enjoy seeing the owner’s reaction when I destroy this,” she stated, quite amused. As she began to walk away, she stopped in front of Cauldrev. “I thought you had forgotten your prime directive,” she mused. “But it seems not. I am quite pleased.” With that she disappeared from view behind the throne once again. Cauldrev was asked whether or not he knew the mysterious woman. His only response was, “It’s kind of complicated.”
Meanwhile, Opal had bent down to examine the body of the dwarf. It appeared as though most of the bones in his body had been broken. Although his face was beaten and bloody, the resemblance to Elsbet and Mryden could clearly be seen. This was undoubtedly the famed dwarven grandmaster Haggart Grimgut. His body was curled up protectively and as Opal unclenched his fists, another card fell into the palm of her hand.