The party arrives at the location on the duergar map. This is where the powerful ally that Murkelmor spoke of is supposed to reside.
A dozen or more undead meet the party in the first room of this ancient catacomb. Easily dispatched, the party journeys onward, only to encounter a series of deadly traps.
The last room is like a wizard’s laboratory. Desks and tables, strewn with books, scrolls, endless vials and bottles of alchemical materials. But most disturbing of all is the huge, vile undead abomination that has been trapped in a magic circle. Not a wizards laboratory; a necromancer.
The party attacks the necromancer and his undead minions. Eventually slaying him and the vile thing imprisoned within the circle.
Unbelievably, it turns out the necromancer is Paldemar! The apprentice that the Ordinator Arcanus charged the party with finding. From Paldemar’s journal, it would appear that he had long ago
infiltrated the Mages of Saruun, intent on using them to further his own horrifying plans. The mad mage sought to make himself a lich and raise an undead army beneath Thunderspire.Paldemar had made a pact with Orcus, Lord of the Undead. Orcus had promised the mage (though it’s entirely possible this is merely the ravings of a broken mind) the secret to the ritual of becoming a lich, if Paldemar served him utterly.
But even more astoundingly, Paldemar learns from his sick god that it was Orcus himself that caused the fall of Saruun Khel all those centuries before, not the underdark god Torog as even the learned Mages of Saruun believed. Orcus had been manipulating everthing from the beginning. And when Baphomet, god of the minotaurs discovered Orcus plot, the civil war the errupted had nothing to do with a bunch of Torog cultists, it had to do with the rage and jealously of a demonlord of the Abyss destroying his own worshippers and people to repudiate another.
After all these centuries… Even the minotaurs themselves probably didn’t know the true evil behind their downfall, even as they were slaughtering each other. Only now, all these years later is it known by a living mortal. You are the only ones on Faerun who know the true reason why great Saruun Khel is no more.
Entries from Paldemar’s journal:
“…I was summon to the darkness of my Master’s chamber, he told me that an unproceeded opportunity had arisen that would bring glory to the Prince of the Undead. He wanted me to be the dark spear of vengeance that would bring the ultimate change of this world. But to do that he needed me to become… death.”
“…I met with the Holy One. Indeed had he faced our Lords presence, his eyes were rotting wounds of maggots, crying tears of blood. He told me what he had found when trying to raise an undead army from and old graveyard of a long forgotten temple.”
“…I think my master has guided my steps in recent days, as I have found a secret, long forgotten in the mist of time – a secret unknown even to the Mages of Saruun. I have decided not to disclose it to my masters, instead I will follow this path my self and revel in its glory. The Lord of Undead will guide my way. I will become his tool to bring undeath to the Mages of Saruun”
“… The barrier between worlds can be thin. Sometimes the darkness breaks into the light. This temple seems to be such a place, closely aligned with the Abyss.”
“… My Lord fills my dreams with visions. The Secret lies within the twisting tunnels of Thunderspire Labyrinth. I will have to infiltrate the Mages of Saruun to learn the real truth about what happened with the minotaurs of Saruun Khel, maybe that will lead me to the Secret of Eternal Undeath.”
“…The scene is set and all the pieces are dancing to my pipe, unknowing of the true purpose of their workings. The Bloodreavers were easy to convince to supply the Grimmerzhul duergar with fresh slaves in exchange of being allowed back into the Hall with their slave trade. The duergar has been eager to pay back for the slaves with mining work. The Blackfang Gnolls were the hardest to get on my side, but after helping them breach and loot the Chasm Fort, they were only too eager. They only thing I asked in return were the Silver Key, guarded during centuries by the traps of the Inner Sanctum and few loyal Baphomet followers that still remained within Thunderspire Mountain.”
“…Somehow I wish they all came to learn about the betrayal and their own folly in helping Paldemar – the Bringer of Change, when the flood of necrotic shadow water drowns them all, tying their souls to the Blood Lord’s cause and bringing them back to unlife as empty husks in Orcus new glorious undead army – all hailing to Paldemar – the Undead Horde Master of Thunderspire!”
“…Orcus has talked to me in my dreams. He is sending me a great shadow on wings to protect me from interference. Hail to the Dark One!”
“…Those meddling so called ‘heroes’ are threatening all I have come to create. I must stop them before they learn too much. I have hired Harwin the doppelganger spy of the Grimmerzhul duergar, to lead them into an ambush and eliminate them once and for all.”
“…So this is what caused the end of the Minotaur kingdom Saruun Khel! I have walked in the footsteps of my predecessors. I feel my Masters presence behind this unknown entity Torog – the Patient One, that the minotaurs’ found in the bottomless depths of the Tunderspire Mountain. The Blood Lord put their high priest on the track of doom, when the rest of the minotaurs finally found out my Master’s plan for his followers, Baphomets anger must have been endless – in the end leading to the genocide of the whole of Saruun Khel.”
“…Praise to the Prince of Undeath! The Secrets of Undeath and eternal life will soon be mine! I am on the path of Necrotic Mastery!”