The way to the Great Forge at last open to them, our heroes descended into the heart of the Golushkin Mountains. Along the way, they encountered a strange idol to a dark god, the sight of which filled Astrid and Hudson with visions of them at the head of conquering nations, laying waste to enemies – enemies which Hudson felt were entirely innocent.
[This is also the part where Shivaun said, “Enemies have townsfolk too.”]
Pressing on, Orin cast invisibility on Thorgur to allow the dwarf to explore the Great Forge and see what might await them there. And in the forge he found seven dwarves, worshipping at the anvil and forge – but in communion with which god, Thorgur did not know. Their chanting filled his ears, however, and when he relayed this to the party, Orin in particular was disturbed to hear the words once sung by his people in worship of the aboleth, Chevaghol.
Putting together a quick plan, our heroes quickly delved in the Forge and began their assault on the Council of Golka. A bitter struggle ensued, but one by one the corrupt dwarves fell, until at last Orin disposed of the last – a skeletal dwarf – with a well-placed scorching ray.
As the dust from the battle settled, our heroes found Thorgur on the brink of death. And yet as the eldritch chanting faded, and the corruption seeped within the mountain began to fade away, the Sword of On clutched in Thorgur’s hands began to burn with fury. And as the flames overtook his form, Thorgur rose, eyes filled with rage, and he ascended as Orin and Hudson had done before him.
Our heroes destroyed the Great Forge, pushing it into the cooling waters surrounding the altar, then returned to the surface. There they found Grayhaven no longer oppressed by dark clouds. And Astrid held clutched in her hands a letter from the adopted dwarf, Toval Golka, implicating him in the foul cult that stirred within Golushkin. Finding Lord Howlan Garess somewhat recovered, our heroes turned their evidence over to him – and he executed the traitorous dwarf on the spot.
In New Stetven, Astrid was again reunited with Isaak Orlovsky and – to her surprise – Choral Rogarvia. Choral told Astrid that the throne of Brevoy was in fact hers, as the sole surviving member of the Rogarvian royal family, and that while Choral intended to reveal his identity to King Surtova soon, and claim the throne, he would soon accede it to the young woman.
Astrid was uncertain about this proposal, but agreed to help Choral get to the bottom of the accusations leveled against Poul Orlovsky.
Astrid spoke with the imprisoned noble but learned little. She decided to pursue another lead, and our heroes worked together to spy on Wilcyn Dane, Mistress of Coin in New Stetven and a co-conspirator of the vampire, Alhred.
Their misadventure found them evidence they needed – a black charm like those used by the vampires – but left them in a bind. Their use of magic in their spying had put the palace on alert, and the mess they left in Mrs. Dane’s office would surely arouse suspicion. And so, at Choral’s urging, they came to Mrs. Dane’s home to confront her, before she would have a chance to act….