Grasp of Orcus
A famous craftsman who has taken a turn for the worse.
Salmon Battlebeard was one of the most famous smiths in the world before tragedy and horror twisted him into a servant of evil. He murdered Eilian the Old, captured the Man Who Brings the Supplies, caused the Worldstorm, and attempted to usher Mak Thuum N’Gatha into the multiverse, all while convincing everyone he was merely a homeless and depressed exile.
Salmon Battlebeard was an old, red-bearded dwarf, thickly muscled and covered in scars. For nearly 100 years, he was the royal blacksmith for King Bram Darkstone of Darkstone Hall. He made the greatest weapons and armor available in the modern dwarven world, making both his name and that of Clan Darkstone known far and wide throughout the civilized world.
That changed six months before the Worldstorm when King Bram’s seven-year-old grandson died in an accident while sneaking in to watch Salmon work his forge. Although the accident was not Salmon’s fault, he blamed himself nonetheless. King Bram could not bear to look at his old friend anymore and exiled Salmon from Darkstone Hall.
Salmon himself did not just become depressed the day his prince died in his forge. He actually died himself, though only on the inside. He was so thoroughly crushed that his soul moved on to Moradin’s halls without the death of his body. This happens occasionally to those who have suffered severe traumas. Sometimes the person’s soul eventually returns, and sometimes the body simply finishes out its life, heartsick and melancholy, never consciously aware of what it has lost.
This time something entirely different happened.
Salmon began been wandering aimlessly, picking up odd jobs wherever he could, but refusing to touch hammer or anvil ever again. He was uncomfortable even sitting too close to a fire, because of the memories it brought back. As he wandered, he came across a place in the wilderness where the Far Realm was leaking into the Prime Material Plane. It was only a minor leak, and a normal person walking through would not have experienced any more than an intense feeling of nausea. Salmon, though, happened upon the place at night while he was tired and, not associating his sudden nausea with his location, laid down to sleep. Sensing the presence of a living being with no soul, Mak Thuum N’Gatha, the Nine-Tongued Worm, Lord of the Far Realm, sent the soul of one of his servants to inhabit Salmon’s body. Without knowing or caring why, Salmon woke up the next morning tirelessly devoted to the will of the Nine-Toungued Worm.
Salmon’s first and only assignment was to weaken the structure of the multiverse so that the Far Realm could break through and invade. In order to do this, Salmon was to disrupt one of the primal forces of the multiversal structure. What better way to do this than to capture such a primal force while it had taken mortal form and incapacitate it?
Salmon’s new inhabitant knew of the Inn Between and The Man Who Brings the Supplies, and led Salmon there to wait. During the week prior to the Man’s arrival, Salmon was secretly digging a subbasement beneath Balgrazar’s storage basement using some enchanted dwarven mining tools he had created in the old days. When the Man arrived, Salmon was lying in wait and knocked him unconscious. He then chained him up inside the subbasement using magical chains and sealed the door, in the manner of dwarves, so that it could not be easily detected and would block the sounds of the Man’s screams.
Salmon knew that killing the Man would allow the force he embodied to simply move on and take a new form, but incapacitating him would prevent said force from performing its duties throughout the multiverse. After a week with one of its primal forces missing, the multiverse began to break down, and this is what caused the Worldstorm. Salmon’s next course of action was to begin butchering the inn’s guests in order to to create terror within the Inn and fuel his own madness. This atmosphere of terror and madness within the inn would make it easier for the Nine Tongued Worm to break through into the multiverse. It was for this reason that Elian the Old had to die.
To those around him at the inn, he seemed a simple dwarf with nowhere to go and no plans to leave. He had run out of gold after the first week, and had been sleeping in the stables since then, paying for his food and drink by tending the horses. On the night of the Worldstorm, Balgrazar allowed him to sleep in the kitchen, but was planning on kicking him out entirely once the storm ended, unless he came up with some money or offered more valuable services. Balgrazar was, obviously, unaware of Salmon’s nocturnal activity in the basement or his capture of the Man Who Brings The Supplies. The innkeeper DID know who Salmon Battlebeard the famous smith was, but did not tell him as much, since he was aware that only the truly lost ever make their way to his inn.
The party encountered Salmon at The Red Hook Rat on the night of the Worldstorm. Despite his fame, none of them knew him on sight, though some recognized his name when they finally heard it. The party knew only that this dwarf appeared very depressed, was dressed in rags, slept on the floor of the inn’s kitchen, and refused to apply his skills in repairing a damaged Gunther.
After Eilian’s grisly murder was discovered, the party set about solving the mystery and, before long, Gunther and Saul were able to trick Salmon into confessing by exploiting his depression and using a bit of magic. Once his role in events was uncovered, Salmon became enraged and attacked the party. It took the entire party and help from almost every guest in the inn that night to finally bring him down, but eventually Salmon Battlebeard was killed, the Man Who Brings The Supplies was freed, and the Worldstorm ended.