Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


The corridor is long and narrow but as you make your way forward the feeling grows stronger that you are indeed on the right path. Ahead there is a dull red glow framing an exit shaped as a high arch, and as you get closer it sharpens in outline, the sound of something like the rushing murmur of a great river in the distance. With your heart racing you make the end of the passage and find the threshold to another room, this one small and cleanly carved. In its quiet interior you come to a halt, all the fatigue and pain of your quest forgotten as you try and make sense of what you have found.
Before you is a perfectly clear crystal wall, and beyond the wall a further huge chamber spreads out as a vision of all your worst nightmares. You stand in disbelief and watch as lava flows gout from deep splits in the wall, only to speed along wide fractures in the floor and then fall out of sight into unknown depths below. At all sides run pools of liquid metal in vast quantity made molten by the proximity of the steaming, molten rock. Within these pools float fused lumps of precious stones and all about is the fumes and vapours of an environment ruled by lava. It is a hellish terrain, obscured by plumes of ash and toxic gases, but as you look more closely you realise with a rising hope that you have found the object of your quest and the salvation of your people. You have found the Deep Vault.
Carefully you rest against one of the smooth corners and stare out into the steaming inferno. The floor of the cavern is some twenty metres below the level of the crystal wall and from this vantage there is a clear view of the entire chamber. Against a far corner of the huge open space stands a stepped platform and upon its upper level you see the Tellandra, broken and vibrating with a diminishing power, the aura surrounding it weakening even as you watch. At the other side of the Deep Vault is a large arched doorway, its timbers long consumed, all that remains of its substance a few torn and melted iron bands hanging twisted from long disused hinges.
Within all this turmoil of flowing rock and fuming vents you cannot see the Dragon Windhammer, but as you take a closer look at the interior of the Vault there opens a huge gaping rift in the floor at its far end, only a short distance from the platform upon which the Tellandra stands alone. The rift is certainly large enough to allow a Dragon to pass, though as you watch you cannot help but wonder if the serpent is indeed dead. It is an intriguing question but whether the beast is still alive cannot remain your concern if it is not in the chamber itself. Finding a way to the Tellandra, and fulfilling your mission, looms as a challenge just as great. As you look at the state of the Deep Vault you know that this will be a task filled with perils of its own.
Time however, is not on your side. The Tellandra stands diminished, pieces of its form scattered upon the platform. Even as you watch it dims, struggling against the great damage done to it by the Dragon. If you are to save your people, and yourself, you must act quickly.
The room is only small, its smooth walls without door or exit. It is bare except for a single metal rack, upon which rests the pieces of a set of armour and a solitary long-hafted lance. For a moment you turn from the devastation of the Deep Vault and look more closely at what you have found. The armour is definitely Dwarvendim-made and as you run your fingers along its smooth outlines you realise that it has been fashioned from Dragon scales, carefully shaped and fitted into a suit of remarkable strength and lightness. The lance is equally impressive, its long metal shaft tipped with a carefully shaped blade of Dragon bone. You test the edge of the lance's ivory-coloured tip and find it razor-sharp.

(This is armour and weaponry purpose-made in the last days of the Stone Kingdoms to battle the threat of Windhammer. For a reason unknown it was never used, but now it stands ready for you if you wish to take it. If this is your choice you cannot wear any other armour items and must drop them here. How this armour and lance will adjust your combat value will be given later in this adventure. If you choose to take these items record them on your character sheet before continuing.)

Once you have made your decision you search the edges of each wall looking for any sign of secret latch or lock. You find nothing but as you place your hand upon the crystal wall you feel it give way, bending outwards with the pressure of your fingers, before separating and allowing your whole hand to slide through. For a moment your surprise gets the better of you and you withdraw your hand. It seems unaffected and quickly you push again, this time letting your entire arm slide through. What happens next takes you completely by surprise.
Before you can withdraw your arm again, the crystal takes hold, forcing you forward, dragging you bodily through the wall and thrusting you out into the heat and thundering commotion of the Deep Vault. Balancing upon a narrow ledge of stone you recoil from the shock of your displacement and try and gain a firm purchase against the wall of the Vault. To your amazement your hands grab solid stone, the crystal wall gone, the small room unseen and now lost to you. Carefully you try and force your hand back through the stone but you encounter only the hard rock of the mountain. If you had any hope that you might be able to return to the safety of the room it is now gone.
Looking around you find a series of roughly carved holes in the wall beneath you and using these you climb down onto the floor of the chamber. The Vault is a steaming fog of sulphurous vapours and swirling ash, and within this melee you can see the Tellandra shining weakly upon its platform. If ever you are to complete your quest it must be now.
Suddenly a great tremor shakes the ground beneath you. Staggering against the swaying floorstones you grab at a jagged piece of stone and try and regain your footing. Again the tremor rocks the Vault and then from the rift in the far end a hideous groan erupts, followed by the sounds of something truly gigantic moving in its depths. Quickly you search for a place to take refuge and find it within the shadows of the high arched entryway. Beyond it extends a long dark hall, but at its edges you watch and wait as something rouses at the far end of the Vault.
Against the hot stone you press your body and peer around the threshold as a monstrous claw emerges from the pit. In a shuddering impact it grabs at the edge of the hole and then pauses as another clawed fist rises into the air. To the sound of a bellowing screech you stand silent and watch as a monster claws its way into the Deep Vault.

Turn to section 191.

This book, and its associated books and other documents in the Chronicles of Arborell series are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Windhammer is best viewed at 1024 x 768 resolution. Any questions regarding the Chronicles of Arborell can be answered by emailing the author at densleyw@shoal.net.au
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved