The group has just finished cleaning out the monsters infesting their new keep, and are now turning their attention to clearing the debris and repairing the damage from 100 years worth of neglect. They decide their best bet is to travel to the newly reclaimed dwarven mines of Tethyamar and barter with the dwarves for the needed materials and workers.
Along the way, they stop off at Dagger Falls to purchase supplies and find better equipment. As local heroes to this small town, their arrival does not go unnoticed. Zendril, looking for the chance to earn more cash, finds his way to Randal Morn's office. It turns out that the newly restored ruler needs someone to perform a diplomatic task for him, and Zendril volunteers for the job.
Randal needs to send an emissary to the dwarven mines of Tethyamar, in the hopes of reinstating trade with the dwarves who have returned to the area. The problem is, Randal's grandfather was responsible for driving the dwarves from the Dagger Falls area in the first place, and the dwarves have vowed to have nothing to do with the dale as long as a member of the Morn family sits on the throne.
Because of the enmity between the dwarven Bladebright clan and the house of Morn, Randal suggests that Zendril and the rest of the group conduct their own business with the dwarves first, before attempting to broach the subject of Dagger Falls with the dwarves. Randal wants to correct the evils his family has visited upon the area, providing whatever restitution he can to the Bladebright clan. His hope is that the dwarves would at least be willing to give him the chance to make amends.
With a new mission in hand, they head out to the Dragonsmouth Mountains, but without their drow member, Silver. The dwarves have a hard enough time tolerating elves, let alone a drow. Silver ends up staying behind in Dagger Falls, where he bides his time by putting his merchant skills to good use.
Upon arriving at the mines of Tethyamar, the group discovers an unexpected boon. During an earlier adventure, they rescued a group of dwarves that were about to be transported to the Underdark as slaves for the Drow. It turns out that most of those dwarves were from the clan that now occupies the Tethyamar mines. The grateful dwarves did not have the opportunity to properly thank them earlier, and so offer to repair the group's keep for half the normal cost.
The leader of the dwarven clan, Mordran Battleaxe, also sees in the group an opportunity to help the dwarves solve a recent development. Just two days before the group arrived, there was an attack on the clan's "Hall of Thorlin", where the weapons and armor of their greatest heroes are on reverent display. The guards on duty were overwhelmed and killed, and the axe of Thorlin Broadblade, their greatest hero, was stolen. Several clues, including inspection of the broken tip of a sword, indicated that the duergar might be involved.
The clan tracked the thieves as far as the oldest portion of the mines. However, since the dwarves only just recently returned to their mines after more than a 50-year absence, most of the older parts of the mines were still overrun with monsters. With most of the clan members still scattered across the realms, the dwarves simply did not have enough manpower to risk entering that part of the mines.
Thorlin's axe is extremely important to the clan's heritage, so just abandoning it to the thieves is not an option. While Mordran does not wish to risk the lives of his all-too-few clan members, he has no issues with letting the group try to retrieve the axe from the thieves that stole it.
To complicate matters, the clan's high priest, Graylin Twinaxes, was missing. Graylin was the type who was always looking for fight, and was constantly challenging the authority of the peace-loving clan leader. Mordran suspects the theft and Graylin's disappearance are related, but what Graylin wants with the axe is still a mystery. Mordran asks the group to find Graylin, and return the axe to its rightful place with the clan. He offers to repair their keep at a generous discount if they succeed. They agree, and prepare to enter the old mines...
At the entrance is a set of old mine tracks, and a few mine carts pushed over on their sides. Zendril gets an idea to "clear the way" down the tunnel, in case there are any monsters or traps waiting. With some help from Theranion and Nataya, he positions the cart onto the tracks, outfits the front with several old pickaxes, and loads the cart with loose rocks. With a mighty shove, they send the cart careening down the dark tunnel. A few seconds later, they are rewarded with the sounds of screams and a loud crash somewhere down the tunnel.
The end of the tunnel splits off into two other tunnels, and they find the smashed cart and the mauled bodies of several duergars scattered about. Zendril's idea was a success! After they are done picking over the items on the bodies, Theranion begins leading the group down the left passage. He gets no more than few feet before nearly stepping into a gelatinous cube.
He stops short of the cube just a few inches from its creeping surface. With a sudden lump in his throat, he quickly backs away, then lets loose a fire spell. The rest of the party follows suit, destroying the creature from a safe distance. Still a little shaken, Theranion decides it might be best to go down the right passage instead. One can never be too careful...
As they venture deeper into the mines, they come across several groups of duergar dwarves ready to hack the party to pieces. These first few enemies pose little problem, and the group continues forward. The group is feeling rather confident at this point, until Zendril accidentally steps on a tripwire, causing a spike-filled slab of wood to swing down from the ceiling at the group - a duergar trap. They escape with only a few scratches, but are suddenly much more cautious from this point forward.
A little while later, they enter a carved room dominated by a large pit. In the pit are two rust monsters, "pets" of the duergar. Several duergar sneak up behind the group and attempt to rush them and knock them into the pit. Quick thinking by the group thwarts the duergars' attempt, and two of the duergar end up falling into the pit themselves. The rest are quickly dispatched.
Further down the passageway, the group enters a large mined-out cavern, which once served as the hub of the dwarves' old mining operations. A large force of two dozen derro dwarves ambushes the group, firing crossbows at them from all directions. They are forced to retreat back to the pit area, where they ready themselves for battle from a more defensible position.
As the main force of the derro chase the group through the tunnel, a smaller force heads down another set of tunnels to box them in at the pit. As hoped, the pit area proves to be an excellent defensive area. During the battle, Zendril comes within a hair's breadth of losing his life to the derro onslaught. Theranion manages to trip several of the derro into the pit with his staff, and Nataya charges at the group of derros attacking Zendril, giving him the chance to retreat behind the front lines.
When the battle was over, the group emerges victorious, but in very bad shape. Theranion has nearly exhausted all his memorized spells, and Nataya uses the last of her healing spells on a severely injured Zendril. When they make it back into the large cavern where they were ambushed, they discover one of the derros' prisoners, bound and gagged in a small alcove.
The dwarf introduces himself as Drommel Skullhammer, one of Graylin's former followers. Drommel admits to helping Graylin plan the theft of the axe, but insists he knew nothing of the duergars' and derros' involvement or the death of the guards until it was too late. Graylin had him bound and dragged down to the derro encampment, with plans to use him and a few others as an offering to the derro in exchange for their help with a summoning and resurrection spell.
Attempting to atone for his actions, Drommel hesitantly informs the party of Graylin's true plans. Four hundred years ago, Thorlin defeated an ancient red wyrm using the very axe that Graylin has stolen. Thorlin's axe is the only weapon ever known to penetrate the wyrm's thick scales, and in Graylin's communications with the dragons' spirit, has learned it would like nothing better than to see the axe destroyed. Graylin now plans to resurrect the ancient wyrm, and offer up the axe as a sacrifice in order to curry the wyrm's favor in his schemes. If this happens, the dwarven settlements in the area would be powerless against Graylin and his allies...
With the dwarf Drommel in tow, the group proceeds down the last of the mine tunnels, toward the ancient lair of the dragon. Since the wyrm's death, the dwarves have sealed the mine entrance to the cavern with a set of huge adamantine doors. The doors are over a foot thick, and carved with runes that serve as a reminder of the long-ago battle: "Last battleground of Thorlin Broadblade. To pass this way is to dishonor the first king."
The doors are slightly ajar; the old barricades removed. Everyone agrees that charging right in would be suicide, as there would no doubt be a larger force of derro and duergar inside the cavern, guarding the priests performing the ceremony. Instead, Theranion uses his Ring of Invisibility, and Zendril quaffs a Potion of Invisibility he looted from one of the derro. They silently enter the cavern, and scout the area.
The cavern is immense, spanning over 600 feet in diameter with a 150-foot-high ceiling, and a 100-foot wide tunnel leading diagonally out of the mountain above. Though their infravision is almost useless beyond 60', they are able to make out several figures within a circle of torches in the center of the cavern, where the priests have gathered. As Theranion scouts the perimeter of the cavern, Zendril slowly makes his way to the center.
Throughout the cavern are about 50 to 100 derro and duergar, all watching the ceremony from a "safe" distance. In the center of the cavern are a collection of derro and duergar priests surrounding Graylin and a large summoning circle. Surrounding the circle of priests are the bones of the dead wyrm, spanning over 300 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail. The dragon's horde lies next to it, completely untouched by the attendees to avoid retribution from the dragon once it is resurrected.
As Zendril nears the circle of priests, he begins to worry. One false move will betray his presence, followed shortly by a painful death. He sneaks past the chanting priests, and into the circle where Graylin stands holding the axe. Zendril steadies himself, and prepares to make a quick grab, followed by a mad dash back to the dwarven mines. As he reaches out for the axe, the summoning circle starts to pulse with energy. Zendril makes grab for the axe...and MISSES!
Being invisible, he misjudged the position of his hands, and instead grabs at nothing but air. He holds his breath, ready to bolt in case the priests heard him. Their droning continues, and he steadies himself once again. He goes to grab the axe one more time, but a sudden cold draft stops him dead in his tracks. He turns to look behind him, and comes face-to-face with the spirit of the dead dragon forming above the circle...it can SEE him!
Zendril turns back around, makes a desperate grab for the axe (YES!), and takes off at full speed for the exit just as the dragon's spirit dispels his invisibility. The priests are caught completely off-guard, however, and cannot react before he is beyond their range of sight. The duergar and derro warriors are also caught off-guard, but they quickly pursue, shooting their crossbows as they run after him. With the priests' concentration interrupted, the ceremony is ruined, and the dragon's spirit is pulled back through the circle; back to the darkness from which it came.
Theranion sees Zendril suddenly running out from within the circle of priests ("Uh, sh**!"), and makes a dash for the exit with plans to cover Zendril's escape. Zendril is barely through the door when Theranion conjures up a wall of fire to block the dwarves' pursuit. Then, with Nataya's and Drommel's help, he closes the huge adamantine doors, and locks the barricades in place.
Zendril, in the meantime, continues to run as fast as his legs can carry him. He winds his way back through the mine tunnels, setting off a number of tripwires as he goes. None of the traps manage to spring before he is well out of their way. He keeps running until he reaches the dwarven halls. He runs right up to the leader's hall, then holds out the axe and says, "I found your axe...", before collapsing to the floor, completely out of breath.
Zendril manages to recover his senses about the time the rest of the group enters the hall. Drommel respectfully approaches Mordran, asking forgiveness for his misguided judgment in helping Graylin. He also asks for a private audience, so he can recount to Mordran what has transpired in the past two days. A half-hour later, a grim-faced Mordran appears before the group.
While he is overjoyed at having the clan's most prized treasure safe once again, he is also disturbed at how close the clan came to being destroyed. They had no idea prior to the group's return that Graylin was trying to resurrect the dragon, or that he had allied with the duergar and derro. Concerned about what other trouble Graylin and his allies might cause in the near future, Mordran has to decide quickly how to deal with him. Graylin comes from an important and noble family within the clan, and having to order him hunted down and killed was a sad task for Mordran. Facing Graylin's family with the news will be even more difficult.
However, for their efforts in foiling Graylin's evil plans, and saving the clan from the red wyrm's vengeance, Mordran offers a special reward to the Zendril and the rest of the group. Each is allowed one magic item of their choice from the dwarves' treasury and armory. They are also made honorary members of the Bladebright clan, the highest honor the dwarves can bestow to an outsider.
Now, all that's left is to complete Randal's little diplomatic mission...