An uneventful two day ride found the party descending the pass towards the abandoned dwarf-hold where Janus and his men were holed up with Duncal. In the valley below they could see a great deal of commotion just outside crumbling ruin walls, as well as a large tented pavilion that wasn't there last time they visited. A band of Janus' men milled about, as as the party approached, Hafus emerged from the press. He had been just about to ride out in search of the party, for Duncal and Janus had gone missing. After the party had left Duncal in the care of the loyal Janus, Duncal had first insisted that they prepare a pavilion to suit his baronial stature (which would be the flag bedecked and palatial tent complex they could see) As a result, they were not able to start excavating the ruins, as the party suggested, until a few days ago. They quickly broke through the rubble and forced open a pair of rusted iron doors that lead into the depths of the mountain. Janus gathered a handful of men, and dragging the reluctant Duncal along, headed into the gloom to search for treasure with which to finance the coup d'etat against Lord Merdwyn. Before the day was out, one of the men stumbled out of the darkness to say Janus and Duncal were trapped in the dungeon by some sort of hideous and monstrous slime things.
With much eye rolling and cursing, Kern, Bjorn, Erijay and Darnorth left their horses with Janus' men and prepared once more to recover Duncal from a dungeon. They managed to convince a pair of Janus' men to join them (Bill and Ted), and into the hole they marched. Passing through a narrow dug tunnel, they came to the massive rusted iron doors, each with a black war hammer inscribed upon it.. These had obvious been chiseled and chipped open by Janus, and lead into a wide and high hall. In the centre rose a 15' tall step pyramid, and along the sides of the hall itself were 6 alcoves. In each alcove stood the statue of a dwarf, and the alcoves themselves were painted with battle scenes. Darnorth studied these closely, and proclaimed this to be the abandoned home of the Blackhammer clan. Unfortunately, the dwarf could recall little more except the Blackhammer's were renowned for their ironwork. Meanwhile, Eirjay climbed to the top of the step pyramid, but found nothing of note. After closely examining each statue and battle scene, the party moved on.
The north end of the chamber intersected with a 20' wide corridor with a most unusual feature. Down the centre ran a trench filled with a thick viscous oil. On top of this oil floated a series of stone blocks, about 8' wide and 10' long. Gingerly, Darnorth tested one and found that it wobbled but held his weight. The dwarf crossed to the other side of the corridor, followed by the rest of the party. They first investigated a connecting 20' wide corridor, which soon ended in a pile of rubble. Darnorth sized it up but could not determine if the collapse had been deliberate or accidental. Backtracking, they came to a locked iron door. Kern tried picking the lock, but the rusty old mechanism defeated his lock picks. Darnorth then applied the time honored dwarven locked door technique, kicking it open with a resounding boom that echoed throughout the silent corridors.
Inside was a trapezoidal room, the floors of which were covered in dwarven skeletons. At the far end a raised platform held a large iron bowl. Close examination of the skeletons showed no signs of violent death. Investigation of the bowl was interrupted when a dark dusty cloud drifted through the open door of the room. It coalesced into a 10' tall cloud of ash with two faintly glowing eyes, which proceeded to pummel, suffocate and blind Darnorth and Erijay. A flurry of magic missiles from Erijay and Bjorn, plus missile fire from Kern and hammer blows from Darnorth soon dissipated the cloud, sending the remaining ash to drift over the skeletons on the floor. Battle done, Darnorth walked over to the iron bowl. Inside he found a pile of fine ash, which he stirred around uncovering a fist-sized opal.
Examining the 'body', the party found it had mostly collapsed into a couple of inches of slime on the floor. There was also the squished corpses of a dwarf and a man, more or less intact except that the bones had somehow been pulled from their bodies ...