Following the “orc marauder attack”, Anzula finds herself sequestered by the church of Svara for her own safety from further possible assassination attempts, and to make sure she doesn’t become overwhelmed in her grief at the death of three noble guardsdwarves who attempted to save her life. Without an employer, Niccolo is approached with an offer by the dwarven military coordinator, as word of his successful incursion deep into Orkath and back has become known around the Halls.
Patrols in the Grimdark have been getting slaughtered by an unknown foe, with few surviving to escape the attacks of a “nightmarish hooked horror creature”, according to ravings by those heavily injured survivors. The Commander, a dwarf who worked his way to the top of the military ladder from modest beginnings as a common foot soldier, has never heard of such a creature, and fears the worst. Tired of losing trained soldiers valuable to the defense against the undead hordes of the Grimdark, he is seeking skilled outsiders to investigate the mess for him.
To that end, he has enlisted the aid of a woodsman and tracker from Jatul’s Shadow who has proven himself skilled with bow and blade named Smithfield, an Iacchtian of considerable magical might, and Niccolo to search out the source of this foe, or to just return any information they can discover in the Grimdark.
However, after trekking deep into the territory this creature supposedly dwells in for nearly a week, the worst creatures the three found were a troll, and a nest of gigantic spiders. It’s not until they realize something odd deep within the tunnel complexes is causing magical hallucinations that they begin finding the possible source.
After locating a tunnel that, despite the considerable magical bolstering by the mage Emberkindle, they cannot traverse, they encounter what they believe to be the creature slaughtering dwarven patrols when it ambushes them, destroying Emberkindle’s summoned fire elemental companion in two swift swings of it’s heavy bladed hands.
Its thick carapace proves resilient to the weapons and magic of the trio, but they eventually dispatch it after a hard fight, and return to the fortress of Grimstone with their prize, and news of the magically corrupted tunnel’s disorienting effects.