\aITEM -1926623932 -311113031:The Hammer of Below\/a \aITEM -1926623932 -311113031:The Hammer of Below\/a
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The Hammer of Below begins amidst the conflict of the unworthy. It is a relic whose path led through the abyssal lair of the last child of the Ocean Lord. It is within that hold, a prison of Prexus some would say, that the omega did vie with the intellect. This battle of egos will someday begin the mortal quest of Stormhammer.
Deep sixed within an oubiette, many adventurers have perished. He is the last of his kind, the last of the Norrathian children of Qisallis. With a physique formed of fish and Dal, the omega guards his keep. Those who enter find themselves eternal residents of this deathly realm. What was once a city of deep learning has become a memorial of a race long forgot. The omega allows no departures from this ancient place. Here by his side the creatures of Qisallis flutter and float and incarcerate those who seek what is not theirs. No one escapes, but the intellect defies this law.
A great power of the abyss meets a legendary intellect. Such a confrontation is made for the ages. It all began with a threat of knowledge, a release of a secret... a taunt of the highest power. The great intellect that hailed from Mount Erudition delved into the ancient ages and uncovered the reason for the omega, the hidden force behind an extinction of the children of the Ocean Lord. Entering into the murky ruins, he entered armed with only this lost truth. It is all he needed.
With a threat and a boast the intellect defies his host. The one from below is enraged and mad that his secret is released, a secret of great sadness. To the one that did taunt, death would have arrived if it were not for the supernatural stalemate. A power that was the unwitting end of a race is also wielded by a highman. The intellect directs a threat of destruction if his demands are not met. The power that could destroy an entire race within the blink of a titan's eye could be unleashed by one who has studied and mastered the many circles of the arcane. The omega must comply and the great intellect wins the day.
The keep of the abyss has been compromised and the great intellect threatens to return. But the omega strikes back in silence and within a vision granted the eyes of the intellect shall be redirected. A vision is given of a great relic of below, a hammer of the gods that once lay in the hands of the first kind of Kaladim. This vision was granted to an unscrupulous stout by the name of Duskan Hammerhand. In the vision, the hammer is secreted beneath the great cauldron, within a barnacle-encrusted tower. Here it is guarded by goblins of the abyss. Here is where Hammerhand shall find it.
Duskan recognized the holy relic of the dwarves. Delusions of grandeur lead him to a foolish attempt to retrieve the hammer. The witless bandit dives into the cauldron and locates the citadel of the abyss. His entry depicts his great skill, but the halls of water are not gracious to guests. The goblins of the abyss are quick to spring to action. Their movements were as fluid as the tides. His dreams of being the lone hero are in vain, his mission into the barnacle citadel, futile. Barely escaping with his life, the stout rises to the surface. He knows he must return to Kaladim and lick his wounds. The glory of rescue shall be a joint venture of rogue and guard.
Crawling along the short, near death and barely coherent, Duskan manages to convince a party of passing trotters to escort him to the kingdom of the dwarves. There, Duskan is brought before King Kazon Stormhammer and explains his vision and his ordeal. The king organizes an expedition to recover the hammer. At the lead of this assault are three dwarven champions; Boric Stormhammer, Kalek Orefinder and Fenric Ogrebane. These three heroes are aided by guard and trotter. Trotters have a tendency to fall into the ventures of the ancient empires. What it is they seek is not glory, but riches and power. Their mettle is soon tested as the mission to retrieve Dagnor's Fist begins.
The march to the cauldron is long and hard. The heroes of the kingdom reached the shores. Battling back the vanguard of the abyss was done at ease. The battle continued into the murky depths of the cauldron. The heroes breached the barnacled-keep and cut down the forces within. The final defender would not be so easy, or alone. The goblin Tide Lord faced the heroes in a battle for the hammer. Although the Tide Lord was powerful, the heroes found an advantage. When victory was near, Phinigel Autropos did appear. With power unmatched, the omega stymies the heroes, driving them back. Then without reason, he vanished. The heroes are victorious, so it would seem. The hammer is won.
The victory march back to Kaladim is interrupted. A Teir'Dal hero and his dragoon raiding party appear and a violent battle ensues. In the skirmish, the heroes are outnumbered and each falls against insurmountable odds. Valkis D'Vinn, leader of the dragoons, carefully seals the captured hammer in an enchanted chest, and orders his group to march to the nearby kingdom of the orcs and ally to Neriak. But Fenric is not dead! His ability to feign death is unrivaled. Through words heard upon the field of defeat, he heard of the destination of the hammer, Crushbone Keep. When the evil army is departed, the injured hero crawls back to Kaladim and with him comes the location of the hammer.
A final operation to reclaim the hammer of Dagnor Butcherblock is undertaken. An army of Stormguard and trotter is organized. No force could keep them from reaching the doors to Crushbone Keep. While Stormguard warriors battle Crushbone centurions a band of heroes enters to find the chest that holds the hammer. The sealed adamant chest of Thex passes into the possession of the heroes. The victorious force returned to Kaladim to deliver the chest to King Kazon. Unfortunately, the chest was impregnable, a stolen device of gnomish invention. The hammer was locked within.
Within the borderlands of the Teir'Dal Empire the key of the chest awaits. Such a place is unfamiliar to a dwarf, but not to trotter. The trotters are hired to retrieve the key. In a long expedition into the Ashlands of Tunaria, the final heroes do find the owner of the key. Captain Na'Var and his dragoons are met. The struggle for the key is long, but the trotters proved their strength. The key is taken and makes its way across the Ocean of Tears to meet the hands of the king of Kaladim. The heroes are honored and the Hammer of Butcherblock has returned to its home.
But this is not the artifact behind these words. In this tale of the hammer of the first kind of Kaladim, the riddle of Stormhammer rests. What once restrained the glorious radiance of the hammer now reveals the riddle. Through a path of a divided key, it will lead a hero. Listen well to whispers of champions and the journey shall begin. The Stormhammer, hammer of below, hammer of the thunder lords, hammer forged in the Underfoot and lost to all. This hammer shall wait beyond turmoil, beyond war and beyond cataclysms. Within Destiny it awaits.