Dan as Incendius, Human Wizard
Neil as Bud, Ranger
William as Fib, Tiefling Warlock
Sina as Alasaurus, Swordmage
Steven as Etain, Drow Cleric
Jacob as Kintama, Hengeyokai Thief
Fred as Hogar, Half-Orc Slayer
Allison as Eselda, Eladrin Templar
Josh as DM
The heroes part ways with Stokely as he begins making plans and rallying his remaining dwarves to reclaim the Halls of Black Ice. But not before getting detailed directions to the site of the last zombie attack, at a large central area in the deep mines referred to as The Nexus.
As they pass the point where they previously turned off to find Baerick’s headquarters, the tunnel walls soon become rougher and the path less well maintained – clearly this area has seen less traffic of late and is focused on mining rather than inhabiting. Kintama takes the lead as the parties stealthy eyes and ears while the rest follow a few paces behind, ready for trouble. As Kintama turns a corner, he is distracted by navigating a large pile of rubble that had apparently collapsed from the ceiling when he feels a cold hand grip his ankle. He looks down and yells “Zombie attack!”
The rest of the party charges around the corner as Kintama breaks the zombies grip and stabs it. Arrows, fire and radiant magic fill the air as two more zombies lurch out of the shadows and the rest of the party charges in to attack. Eselda and Etain help Kintama recover as he dodges more attacks while Hogar, Alasaurus, Bud and Fib take down the one nearest the party. Kintama is able to finish off the one who first attacked him and leaps out of the way of a fireball from Incendius, his fur slightly singed as the last zombie collapses in a burst of flame.
They press on, even more carefully, until they reach the Nexus and find evidence of a great battle and a scattered mining party, although all the casualties seem to have gotten up and walked away. Bud immediately zeroes in on an overturned cart, and lifts it to find a dwarf cowering inside, who immediately begins screaming. Once they calm him down and ensure they are trying to protect him, he says his name is Paldrinor, and he has been hiding out the last few days, avoiding zombies and scavenging for food since surviving the attack, too scared to make his way back down the tunnels alone to find home. He points the adventurers down one of the side passages, saying the zombies seem to be coming from there and mentioning a ruined dwarven temple a ways down the passage. They set out, and Paldrinor decides to remain and hide rather than risk facing more zombies even with the party.
They quickly find the temple, which Incendius notes that it appears to have been originally to worship Moradin. Most of the party heads inside to investigate further while Etain and Fib keep watch outside.
After a few moments, Etain and Fib hear a whispering, ruined voice: “What brings you to down to the deep mines, strangers? What do you seek in my lair?” They are confused.. they don’t sense anyone, but the voice appears to be coming from nearby and not be any sort of projection they can detect. “We’re here to find and end the zombie threat.” “Ah.. yes, continue down the passage and you will find the source of the zombies.. but only death will await you after that.” “We aren’t scared! We will end this threat!” “Ah, yes, well by all means come on down the passage…”
They ask loudly about the source of the voice, and what it means, but they get no further response. A few moments later the others come outside, having found nothing of interest in the temple, and they report what they heard. After some brief discussion, the party agrees to press on. A little further down the passage, the voice taunts them again, admitting to being Akar Kessell and asking how they plan to deal with someone who brought all of Icewind Dale to its knees. The only response is a fireball from Incendius, but he is unable to pinpoint the source of the voice and only manages to fry up some cave mushrooms. “Yes,” cackles Kessell, “and this region will feel my wrath again – Lac Dinneshere and Easthaven will soon be under my shadow like these helpless dwarves.” Eventually they ignore the jeers and press on in silence.
After a few more moments, they hear a twisted laugh behind them a turn to see a ghastly, shrouded figure – Kessell! He leers, and they recoil in shock and magically-enhanced fright, as several party members find themselves compelled to run away, terrified beyond their senses. But just as they do, more zombies emerge from shadows and around corners, grasping at the spellcasters, and they hear a shout from down the tunnel.
Kintama, a little ways ahead, did not hear the laugh, but suddenly two giant spiders have jumped down from above and started trying to bite him! Alasaurus and Etain try to move down and join Kintama but are blocked by one of the spiders and a zombie, however Etain is able to offer some magical encouragement to keep Kintama on his feet as Alasaurus renders their foes attacks meaningless. Meanwhile Fib and Eselda have broken free of their attackers and the rest of the party begins taking down the zombies one by one. Kessell disappears again in a cloud of shadow as Hogar charges to the rear to protect his cloth wearing allies and spill some zombie guts. The force of his furious charge knocks one zombie clear of Eselda, allowing her to step back and provide support as he lops its head off and Incendius and Bud take down the other still moving zombie. Finally they are able to focus fire on the last spider which Alasaurus has kept tied down.
Kessell’s voice echoes from down the passage “Well done with the zombies, but I promise you will suffer when next we meet.” Incendius fires one final fireball which only servers to illuminate an escaping shadow – Kessell is moving too fast for them to catch up. Tired but satisfied that they have scared him off for now, they trudge back up the tunnel towards Stokely’s encampment, stopping along the way to pick up Paldrinor and return him safely.
Battlehammer Hold is quiet when they get back, and the only nearby sentry lets them know that most of the dwarves have gone with Stokely to the Halls of Black Ice to see if they can reclaim their kin. The heroes retire to the barracks for a quiet dinner and are soon about to fall asleep when they hear a sudden commotion outside! They rush out, but it is Stokely, returned victorious with his re-united clan!! Some of the dwarves have been shackled but many seem to have regained their senses, and once they swap stories about the zombies Stokely orders a feast and heavy drinking for all! The party continues well into the night, although some of the heroes (the ones with low Endurance modifiers) turn in to bed early. Eventually everyone is asleep, although Etain and Alasaurus will wake up in the morning with a vague memory of another sentry reporting in from the north slope late in the night, saying that he saw a dark figure fleeing from a tunnel a couple hours earlier headed towards Lac Dinneshere, and saw a few zombies wandering aimlessly and seemingly without any aggression on his return to Battlehammer Hold.
It seems that all is finally well again in the dwarven valley.. at least for now.