Places of Interest: The Sanctuary of the Jeweled Dagger
Date: Thu, October 07, 2010
Topic: Mysterious Places

The World of Greyhawk is a land of mystery and wonder; many are the places that, once thought lost could yet again be found and in being found offer untold glories to adventurers. The Sanctuary of the Jeweled Dagger, once a place of refuge for dwarven cultists of the evil deity Abbathor and abandoned now for over a hundred and fifty years is one such place.

Places of Interest: The Sanctuary of the Jeweled Dagger

by C. Wesley Clough

Nearly two centuries past the dwarves of Dumadan, in the Abbor-Alz, uncovered amidst their community a large number of cultists of Abbathor, the dwarven god of greed and debasement.  The Seer, already then ruler of Dumadan, ordered the assets of the cultists seized, and had them driven from the community. Nearly a hundred dwarven men, along with their wives and children were driven forth thusly, and in Dumadan they still mark the decaversery of this event with a night of solemn contemplation, and prayers that it never happen again.

The exiles wandered north, down from the Abbor-Alz and into the north eastern stretch of the Cairn hills.  There Valak Blackhammer, High Priest of Abbathor and leader of the exiles, discovered a narrow crack in the rocky hills that descended into a moderately sized natural cavern with nearby stream providing water to what was otherwise barren hills.  While exploring the cavern Valak found the airto be much warmer than expected, and a deep shaft was discovered near the rear of the cavern.  This shaft led down nearly a mile, to a vast series of caverns and tunnels, a part of the deep-oerth.  Rivers and lakes of magma filled some of these passages, and that accounted for the unusual heat above. 

Valak set his followers to labor, smoothing out the rough walls, floors and ceilings of the cavern and turning the debitage so created into stone walls with which to section off the interior.  In the dungeon so created were the living areas of Valak and his followers, a shrine to Abbathor, and a secured and scared treasury created to hold the wealth that the greedy cultists planned to accumulate, and accumulate wealth they did.

From their secret underground sanctuary the evil dwarves began raiding into the Duchy of Urnst, mainly targeting caravans passing through the western part of that nation, and eventually growing bolder striking at the human mining towns and gnomeholds of the Cairn Hills and even occasionally into the Selintan valley.  For eighteen long years the Cult of the Jeweled Dagger  plundered the lands around their hidden sanctum, and for eighteen years gold and gems flowed into their coffers.  When Valak Blackhammer died, poisoned some say by his chief lieutenant, he was laid to rest wearing a bejeweled golden death mask said to be worth a princesses dowry.

Valak’s passing would prove to be the sanctuary’s undoing, however, as the new leadership grey increasingly arrogant, brazen, and careless.  Less than two years after Valak’s death a combined force of gnomes from the Cairn hills and men from the Duchy of Urnst laid a trap for the raiders, and the new leader of the cultists fell right into it.  The cultist forces were routed, most where slain while they fled, and only a few straggled back to the sanctuary to tell those, mostly dwarven women and children, that had remained behind what had transpired.

Determined to quite the area, in case they had been followed back to their lair, but lacking the man power to haul away all of their accumulated treasures, the survivors and their families took some of the choicest items and fled into the Cairn Hills and out of history.  Since that time objects believed to have come from the cultists’ cache have surfaced occasionally in the markets of Leukish and Greyhawk, but the great death mask of Valak Blackhammer has never been found and it is assumed to still lie with his body with in a crypt with in the lost sanctuary.


The Sanctuary lies about twenty-five miles south of Goldplain, in an area of the Cairn Hills that are incredibly harsh and dry, with the only source of water for miles around being the spring fed creek that runs less than a half mile from the Sanctuary’s entrance.  The Sanctuaries entrance is a narrow crack, not more than six feet wide, at the base of a stone face in a side valley upslope from the creek, after about fifteen feet the passage widens and becomes obviously worked stone into which stairs have been cut leading down fifty more feet to the stone doors of the Sanctuary itself. 

The geological hot spot beneath the Sanctuary is not natural, and is caused by a small permanent gate linking to the Elemental Plane of Fire.  Efreet have established an outpost in the deep-oerth near the portal, and have driven out many of the previous inhabitants, mostly grimlocks, of the area. Seeing the Sanctuary above as a potential weakness in their defenses, the efreet have closed off the bottom of the shaft that connects the Sanctuary to the deep-oerth with a pair of large basalt and bronze doors that are kept barred and well guarded.

The Sanctuary itself is infested with grimlocks, along with a few other creatures of the deep-oerth and a few minor creatures of elemental fire that fled up the shaft before the efreet blocked it off.  The shrine of Abbathor is deserted, none of the current inhabitants of the Sanctuary will come with in fifty feet of the gem encrusted alter there, and the dwarven god’s presence is still strong despite the lack of worshipers. The treasury holds a few gems but is empty of gold; what was not taken by the fleeing cultists fell prey to a clutch of rust monsters that wandered into the Sanctuary some time after they fled.  The crypt of Valak Blackhammer has never been disturbed, and it is protected by both magical traps and undead guardians, though Valak himself rests easy.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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