On this day, as on so many others, a call had gone out to adventurous souls for a mission of importance to the crown. So it was that a group of some half dozen people found themselves seated in a small conference room within Doma Castle. On the table before them sat a small, locked chest, and across from them were seated a Guard lieutennant and a priest of Falis. The priest kept glancing at the chest as if expecting it to bite him.
"A little background on this mission, if I may," the priest began, "The Censer of the Damned is an artifact dating back to the days of the Elven civil war. Incensed at the defeat of her followers at the city of Sitara, the Lady of Spiders would not allow them to pass on to their eternal rest. Instead, she bound them within a censer - the censer contained within this very chest. So long as the censer endured, they would know no peace, condemned to fight the war over and over again.
"They are bound there still. A thousand angry ghosts, ready to swarm forth at any time and wage their ancient war through the living. We would have you break that cycle. Not only for our sake, but for their own, so that they might be granted peace at last.
"We would do this thing ourselves, but..." the priest sighed, "This is not the first time the censer has fallen into the hands of the priesthood. Some millennia ago, in the city of Thilonel, the censer came to the temple of Falis. Knowing that no mortal artifice could harm it, the priesthood resolved to call down the purifying light of Falis.
"It was a disaster beyond comprehension. For even as the holy light poured down from the heavens, darkness rose to meet it, as Lloth intervened to protect her creation. Lightnings born of the clash of deific wrath crashed across the city. Worse yet, in the confusion, the souls escaped their bonds and poured forth. Wizards, poets, warriors, children, all were possessed and all turned upon one another, battling in the streets in a horrific reenactment of the ancient war. For days, the battle raged, ever more terrible spells being called forth. In the end, Silonel slipped beneath the waves, and passed into history.
"It was thought that the censer was lost with Thilonel. Unfortunately, as we have seen, such dark creations always resurface. So long as it exists, it is a dagger pointed at the heart of the Elven people. Yet to call upon the gods to destroy it is to risk loosing its power once more. Nor is there any guarantee of success so long as the Spider Queen shields it with her hand.
"We believe, however, that there is an alternative. According to some of the ancient records, when the world was still being formed, Clangeddin the Smith created a great anvil to unmake dangerous and flawed creations. We have spoken with Clangeddin's clergy. The anvil endures still, deep beneath the northern mountains, near the Dwarven hold of Karaz Gathol. They believe the dwarves there would be willing to guide a small party to the shrine of the anvil, there to see the censer destroyed."
There had been details to be worked out, of course. Payment (500 gil each up front, 2000 upon completion), transportation (specially laid on by the crown), and of course questions, though the priest apparently had little he could add to his speech. A couple of people opted out, deciding that the risks outweighed the benefits. The others made their preparations.
Five days later, the remaining volunteers stood upon the deck of the Royal Fortune, watching the descent towards a large, plainly artificial mountain loch. Held back by a massive, intricately carved dam, the waters of the loch filled a large valley. Karaz Gathol was carved into either valley wall, terraces opening onto the loch and providing the barest hint of what might lie beneath the surface. Great viaducts spanned the gulf, linking the hold together.
As the Fortune settled, drifting towards a set of stone docks, it became apparent that the airship's arrival had garnered a good deal of attention from the populace. Faces peered down from the terraces, and up from the small craft which plied the loch. A small delegation had gathered on the docks, some of whom gladly made fast lines tossed by the sailors.
"Ahoy the airship," one of the dwarves called out, presumably a hastily elected spokesman, "Permission to come aboard?"
Permission was, naturally, granted, and the group traipsed aboard, looking about appreciatively. Now would probably be the best time to make an approach, before the dwarves became too distracted by marveling at the engineering, or looking through the trade goods stacked in the hold.
OOC notes: With the exception of Storri, the party members have had a few days during the trip to get to know each other somewhat. People should feel free to post up what others may have learned of them over the course of the trip.
Storri, through chance or design, has managed to find a place on the docks a little separate from the delegation, and can certainly get away with attaching himself to them in order to board the Fortune.
Characters also have 500 gil to spend, should they so choose. People should contact me about shopping options from before they left Doma. Otherwise, who knows what goods may be available in Karaz Gathol?