On the morn we packed up all five of our wagons and headed back tae Hammerfast see end of notes for a brief history of the city. We had to hire on two drivers since there were only four of us and wee Eli was fair puckled meltin’ the snow in front of the lead cart with his magical fire blasts. On the road we heard rumor that food shipments frae Fallcrest tae Hammerfast had ceased—not a sign that bodes well.
Back at Hammerfast, word of our success in Greenfield had preceded us. And the guards were surely pleased to see that we arrived with five wagons loaded down with wine and ale. They announced us as we entered as if we were some sort of royalty. We were soon accosted by Grond Silvermoon, the glaikit dwarf who havered mince against “ootsiders” and non-dwarfs. Everitt wasnae havin’ anythin’ to do with that, and approached the galoot to speak, after tryin’ to sunder his wooden stage to pieces with a mental blast. I offered the crowd a free round of ale at the inn, and soon dowie auld Grond had nae audience save Everitt. The auld numptie told Everitt that an exarch of Moradin himself had spoken to him, tellin’ him that the pact between Gruumsh and Moradin was a fiction; Moradin had merely bought time for his people to recover from the orc attack and become strong enough to retaliate.
At the Pony, Galwick Goldspinner met us and asked that we meet with Marcinda. That we did, findin’ her interested in the growin’ cold but more concerned with the missin’ food shipments frae Fallcrest. She offered us 500 coins to investigate and a clean thousand to solve the problem. After some discussion, we decided to first deal with Cartain, the bandit in the Cave of the Fire Opal. We figured to mony a mickle and maks a muckle since Auld Gaff wanted us to accompany him there anyway.
When Everitt returned tae the Pony, he told us tales of his dealin’s with Grond. He was to meet with the eejit later, and auld Dahlwhinnie would shadow Everitt just in case. When the two met, Everitt refused to “cleanse” Hammerfast of non-dwarfs. The meetin’ nearly turned into a rammy, but Everitt decided it wasnae worth it and returned tae the inn.
On the morrow we decided to investigate auld Grond and his claims while sellin’ off the substantial amount of loot we’d accumulated in our recent exploits. As we moved through the markets, we spotted a few thugs givin’ us the eye. These we learned were a few of the tenth or so of Hammerfast dwarves who were smitten by auld Grond and his mince. Auld Dahlwhinnie cornered one of the numpties and forced him to admit that he was workin’ for Grond. Unfortunately for that galoot, he was chibbed deid shortly after Dahlwhinnie turned his back, and the town watch wasnae especially helpful either.
At Moradin’s temple I learned that the daft dwarf had it all wrong. I mean, my recollection of history is a bit muddled at times, but this galoot had his bum oot the windae. Whatever auld Grond’s intentions, we were fairly certain it wasnae any exarch of Moradin who had set him on his path. Somethin’ was afoot, but it would hae to wait. We spotted another dwarf shadowin’ us but it was just auld Gaff. He was itchin’ to go tae the Cave of the Fire Opal, and not havin’ much excuse not to we decided to leave immediately tae the cave.
The cave wasnae but a wee piece down the road and we soon saw a guard pretendin’ to be pished. We tried the fast talk but he was edgy for us and shouted oot the warnin’. A great rammy broke oot in which daft Everitt blasted the hells oot of a wall, unleashin’ a torrent of lava frae the earth. Fortunately Amaunator smiled upon us and we smote a wide variety of foes rangin’ frae eejit humans to drakes, halflin’s, and even some of those bird-like kenkus. The oddest of these though was the lieutenant whose name we ken frae somewhere—Serlick, a half-goblin, half-halflin’ with a vicious temper and bowfin’ breath to match.
History walks the streets of Hammerfast in the form of the dead, the dwarves and orcs who died in this place more than a century ago. They are now ghosts consigned to wander Hammerfast’s streets until the end of days. Hammerfast was once a necropolis, a collection of tombs where the dwarf lords interred their people. As the dwarves’ wealth grew, their burial chambers changed from simple stone sepulchers to lavish treasure vaults filled with the material wealth garnered over a lifetime.
Hammerfast transformed from a graveyard into a storehouse for treasure, and thus it became a target. A hundred years ago, the Bloodspear orc tribe conquered the necropolis but gained little from it. The orcs killed the priests and warriors tasked with guarding Hammerfast and started to loot the place, but the dwarves’ burial chambers yielded their treasures only grudgingly. The necropolis held street after street of unmarked tombs, some riddled with traps, many empty, and only a few containing great treasure. The orcs suffered great losses to the defenses of Hammerfast and, after butchering its guards and capturing a few of its treasures, they turned their attention to easier targets in other locations.
In time, the dwarves returned to Hammerfast. Due to the fall of the Nerath Empire, the citadels of the dwarves were broken, famine and plague grew thick across the land, and monsters and raiders prowled freely. In the face of such chaos, the dwarves made a fateful decision. Why waste fortifications on the dead? They had no use for it. Thus, Hammerfast was transformed into a town of the living. It has since grown into the largest and richest settlement in the eastern portion of the Nentir Vale Motes.
Yet although Hammerfast has changed, its past lingers on. The remaining sealed tombs stand untouched on pain of death by decree of the Town Council. Ghosts still walk the streets, some of them orc warriors slain in the Bloodspears’ attack, others priests of Moradin or the necropolis’s doomed guardians, and even a few of them dwarves laid to rest here long ago. Such creatures enjoy full citizenship in Hammerfast, as long as they observe its laws. In a sacred compact struck with Moradin and Gruumsh, the town’s founders agreed to respect the dead and defend their resting places in return for the right to settle here.
When the dwarves first resolved to settle in Hammerfast, the priests of Moradin beseeched their god for guidance. The necropolis was once sacred ground, before the invading orcs defiled it.
A champion of Gruumsh led the assault on Hammerfast. He swore to Gruumsh to destroy the place and loot its treasures. That orc died in the assault, along with many other fanatical worshipers of Gruumsh. In Gruumsh’s single, baleful eye, Hammerfast became a monument to his worshipers’ ferocity.
With two competing deities laying claim to Hammerfast, only a compromise could avert a second war. Moradin and Gruumsh argued and threatened each other through intermediaries, until at last they reached an accord. Gruumsh had no use for the town, but he saw the chance to create a stark reminder of his champion’s victory. He demanded that the dwarves set aside part of the town for his priests.
Moradin agreed, but as a condition of his assent insisted on a strict set of rules that both parties must follow. Gruumsh gained his show of defiance, and Moradin ensured that his followers would be safe from Gruumsh’s treachery. The rules set forth were simple but inflexible:
Worshipers of Gruumsh are not to be attacked or detained within the town as long as they do not commit acts of violence against Hammerfest’s residents.
Any priest of Gruumsh in the town must aid in its defense if it comes under attack.
The ghosts that dwell in Hammerfast are to be left alone, as long as they do not attack the living.
The temples of Moradin and Gruumsh are sacred ground. If either is attacked by the other, the gods will intervene.
The punishment for violating the compact varies. If a priest of Gruumsh is injured or detained, the dwarves must turn over a priest of Moradin for torture and execution at Gruumsh’s temple. Any priest of Gruumsh that violates the compact is struck blind and exiled to certain death in the wilderness. The town guard enforces the law regarding the ghosts: Any attack on the undead is treated as an assault on a living citizen.
The final rule spurs much speculation. The exact nature of the divine intervention was never set forth, but most residents believe that the gods would send a cataclysm to destroy the town if this rule is broken.