After hearing the news that Ashbenford had fallen under attack the Heroes raced toward the beleagured city. On the outskirts of the city the Heroes saw the Gnoll encampments surrounding Ashbenford. As the Heores were about to sneak past the Gnoll lines they were approached by a group of rangers led by Dilandau. Dilandau informed the Heroes that Tauren and a company of rangers had been kidnapped and taken to Thunderspire Mountain, the location of a long forgotten Minotaur civilization. The Tri-force raced out to find Tauren.
When they arrived at Thunderspire Mountain they encountered a group of Hobgoblins in a cave holding a young Halfling captive. The Heroes slayed the hobgoblins, however the party suffered their first casualty as Kronk was killed by a Hobgoblin mage. They later learned the Hobgoblins belonged to the Bloodreavers, a clan of Hobgoblin slavers. The Halfling was Pike, the very same halfling they Heroes saved near Hunter’s Mark. Pike, happy to have been saved, told the Heroes that a community named The Seven Pillared Hall lay near by. The Hall was run by the Mages of Saruun, and served largely as a trading post for the Underdark. Pike also told the Heroes his aunt was a Cleric of Avandra. She could raise Kronk for a fair price. The Heroes then went to the Cleric and had Kronk raised. After a brief stay in the Seven Pillared Hall, the Heroes travelled into the underdark to find the lair of the Bloodreavers and to determine the status of Tauren.
The Heroes fought their way valiantly through the Hobgoblin lair however they discovered that the Hobgoblins had sold the slaves they captured. However, at the lair the Heroes discovered a pair of Duergar Dwarves. This aroused suspicion that the Duergar were slave traders as well.
At some point, Kronk turned Col Neshben blue through the use of the Rod of Wonder.
The heroes discovered a giant black tower, deep within Thunderspire Mountain. When they approached the tower a spectral skeleton appeared and taunted the heroes. He claimed he was the guardian of the tower, and he would only let the heroes pass if they offered him knowledge. Loki was diplomatic with the spirit with much success. So too was Kronk, who offered knowledge of medicine. Shamash tried to attack the spirit, and Col Neshben racked his brain to no avail: he could not offer anything the spirit found interesting. In the end, the heroes did not please the guardian and they had some powers sapped from them and two healing surgers. After they paid their toll they were allow entrance to the tower.
The heroes entered the tower via teleportation circle. They found themselves in a room filled surrounded by walls of grotesque faces of pigmen and tortured humans. Pillars, also with grotesque faces, lined the halls. The heroes branched out into the halls and were soon attacked by a company of warforged. Magical bolts of energy emerged from the pillars that sapped the heroes strength and blinded them. The party divided in two and the warforged tried to cut them down. Col had difficulty rallying the beginning, as he was constantly hexed and could not use his powers, nor could he see due to blindness. Kronk, per usual, shot the rod of wonder in variou direction, more often to the detriment of his party. Shamash, Lesovik, and Korko fought the warforged who eventually converged totally on them. While they held off the attack, both heroes were almost subdued until Col Neshben and Kronk could rally. Kronk inadvertantly caused the captian fo the warforged to grow after using the rod of wonder on him. With a dazzling attack, Col Neshben cut dow the captain of the warforged after Shamash and Lesovik had brought him to near death. After the warforged were destroyed, the party fought off two Priests, who, hidden in a room, had been casting the hexes on them through the pillars. The Priests mentioned they served Orcus and Lord Nackle.
Following the fight the heroes discussed strategy. They found a teleportation rune that would lead them to the next level. The party discussed whether or not to advance. Lesovik prudently argued that the party rest. The Jedi, Col Neshben, argued that haste was in need, for Tauren was near. In the end, the decision was made by Kronk who kicked Col Neshben into the runes and sent him to the next level, and then lied to Lesovik about what happened, while Lesovik attempted to rest.
Col was sent to the next level. After gathering himself he peered around a corner where he saw a large minotaur warforged. Instead of retreating, the overzealous (although brave) Jedi charged down the hall. The Minotaur made quick work of the Jedi, as soon Col found himself wounded, on the ground, and surrounded by two other warforged and two priests of Orcus. As Col fought for his life, Lesovik appeared and charged down the hall to save his friend. Kronk appeared after Lesovik and also took the fight. Col fought with the Minotaur before retreating through a door so that he could drink a healing potion. The session ended with an imp coming through a teleportation circle and poisoning the Jedi . . .
The Tri-force fled from the fray, as they sought to retreat to the safety outside of the tower. The Warforged Minotaur and his companions gave chase to the Heroes. Kronk distracted the Minotaur, allowed the badly wounded Jedi to make his way to the teleportation circle, where he waited for his companions. With the minotaur distracted, Kronk fled through the portal. However, Col did not leave when he had the chance, and the minotaur blocked his path to escape. Col bravely caused the minotaur to follow him, allowing Loki to run through the circle, after which Col followed. Outside the tower, the party hid behind a pile of rocks as the foolish minotaur and his companions believed the Tri-force ran into the labyrinth. After the enemy left, the heroes entered the tower once again. Inside they rested and prepared for the final confrontation with Glim Nackle.
The Heroes entered Glim’s chambers. There the Gnome wizard attacked the heroes while running around the room on rollerskates. A viscious battle against Glim and his warforged guards ensued. At the end of the battle, the Heroes had brought Glim to surrender and killed his companions. Tauren Gainsborogh was found, however his body was transformed into half warforged; the result of a failed fell ritual of Glim’s. As the Heroes bound Glim a message from Baron Gallagher appeared via ritual. Gallagher told the Tri-force the following:
Before the great statue of Orcus an image comes into view. A translucent Baron Gallagher stands before. His face is unsmiling and he wears a plain suit of leather armor, with his sword at his side. He stands outside, somewhere along a road or path. “I must begin,” he says in a quiet solemn voice, “with an apology and my expression of amazement. I know you must be feeling betrayed at this point, gentlemen. I know you must be feeling anger, and rage, and an assortment of heavy emotions. I too walk with a heavy heart. I have much explaining to do, however for you to understand the full story, to understand the true gravity of what you are up against I must go back some twenty years.” The Baron sighs and seems to reach back into his mind. He closes his eyes and begin to speak. In those days, I was a Jedi. I was sworn to defend the King of Niew Huis. I lived and breathed and expected to die for that loyalty. It was so long ago, but I remember it vividly, as if it were just yesterday. I had recently returned from a village in the south, where I met a young boy, and brought him back to the temple.” He opens his eyes and steals a quick glance in Col Neshben’s direction. “He was very gifted, and we believed he would make a fine Jedi. However, his studied would be interrupted. By a civil war. For it was on that very day that the rebels attacked the palace, and a war began. I was devoted to the king, and I fought as best I could to defend him and his purpose. Roughly a year into the war, however, a split arose in the ranks of the Jedi. Some wanted to defect, to help the fledgling Republic. Others, including me, wanted to remain on the loyalist side. The split came to a head and the Sith were born, those who decided to remain loyal to the King. I was elected to one of the leadership provisions. I continued to fight alongside the Sith, sometimes against my former brothers within the ranks of the Jedi. The war turned sour for us. In a fool’s gamble, in a dire broker for power, the Sith leadership sought help from demonic sources. The sith made a Faustian pact which ultimately led to their downfall. At the war’s close I wanted out. The sith had betrayed their original goals, and I had fallen in love with a Baron’s daughter, Estair.” He pauses, and chokes at the mention of the girl’s name. “Estair and I were to be wed, for we were madly in love with another. However it was never meant to be.” Baron Gallagher’s face grows darker. “One day, a demon attacked me and my lady. I fought as valiantly as I could, but he was too powerful. We were imprisoned in the Hell, where Orcus rests. After being brutally tortured for weeks I was brought before Orcus. His size, his might, and his evil made me tremble. Orcus bellowed, and demanded, that I return to the World and open one of the rifts, so that he and his armies could march again on the nations of Estoria. I initially refused, and begged for my death. To this Orcus merely laughed. He would not give me such a reprieve. He said that until I opened the rift he would imprison and torture my lady. However, if I opened the rift, he would reunite us. Seeing no better option, I went back to Niew Huis. From there I began my work. I had read in the Jedi annals that the Dwarves had sealed away a rift somewhere in the Mark. I had the governor of Ashbenford killed and took his post. Then I began searching. A young Tiefling came into my employ. the one named Sarkus. I told Sarkus that I too was seeking to open the Rift. We began working together. That is went you came into the picture. I had sent Sarkus off to Hunter’s Mark to find the Keystone, the gem that Dwarves made that would tell us where their Rift was. I sent you out there to give the people the feeling that I was doing something about the Goblins attacking the village. I assumed the Goblins would have your heads. I was wrong. When you came back, I cannot say I was surprised. However, it did not matter. We had the Keystone. From there, I continued my work. I sought out Glim Nackle, the wizard who had come across the secret of the Warforged. With this I thought I would have the final key to assuming my goal. However, again, you got in the way. Moradin told Kronk about Valen Liadon, the only other who knew about the warforged. When you left to retrieve him I sent several warforged after you to stop you. Again you eluded me. I hired a dwarf named Dakkon Blackblade to kidnap Valen and bring him to Glim. Valen’s knowledge would be mighty useful in our quest, for we still were not entirely sure how to operate the Keystone. However, you again foiled me. Until you brought Valen to my doorstep. It was perfect you see, for while you were gone I had my bodyguard, Dilandau, engineer a war with the Gnolls. Now, you may ask, why would I want that? Simple: I needed souls. Glim has been working tirelessly at a ritual that could create Warforged en masse. Right now, the Gnolls have ravished Ashbenford, and killed many of its citizens. The city still stands, thanks to King Lucan and his men. However, in the wake of the battle I have been able to create a great army of Warforged. And with them, I plan to marching on the Fogotten City, where the Rift will be opened. I truly am sorry that things must be this way. You are men who have proven your quality. In other circumstances, we would have been allies. However, the Gods pull the strings that guide mortals’ lives in ways we cannot comprehend.”
Following Gallagher’s message, Kronk executed Glim Nackle. Tauren viewed the display with disgust and scolded Col Neshben. The Jedi said it was not of his doing and he did everything to stop Kronk that he could. The matter instilled a small amount of bitterness between the two. The Heroes decided they needed to give chase to Gallagher and go to the Forgotten City. One of the Mages in the Seven Pillared Hall performed a teleportation ritual on the PCs and transported them to the mountain where the city lay. To their dismay, the Heroes stood on a great mountain, overlooking a valley. Down below, about a day’s march off, loomed a great black army of some 5,000 warforged, the fallen from the battle of Ashbenford. The Heroes vowed to stop Gallagher’s plans and defeat the army, no matter what cost.