Return to Southmoor...via the Shadowfel

Stalactites and stalagmites

“Woe, though our path is laden with troubles great, we stand ready. Born one part for this, one part against, we stride as two ready for death and glory. Our former allies gone, our burdens deep with regret… 

And for those who would seek to bridge our pass with malice in their hearts, let our conviction write a litany of hate for ancestors who may come in generations hence. Their sorrow shall write in generations later of our retuned rage. We will not be stopped, like a force of nature. We are inevitable.”

–Chapter 1, "Greedy for breath." The intellectual musings of Aggressive, Warforged of the 7th legion.

 

Aggressive and Noorwyn, with their new found friends, Garth the githzerai monk and Seth the human wizard, returned triumphantly to Winterhaven after cleansing the graveyard of the evil symbol in the ground which had disturbed the dead and caused them to rise against the town.

 

The villagers were grateful to see the heroes alive and victorious. There was some discussion in the group as to what to do next, although Noorwyn’s purpose was clear and he went straight to Lord Padraig with Ninaran’s head in a sack. Padraig was so relieved he paid Noorwyn for their efforts and for dispatching the kobold lair from a couple of days prior because his men had now had time to confirm it. Padraig also granted to Noorwyn and his companions all the treasure they find if they would agree to return to the Keep and stop the opening of the gate to the Shadowfel.

 

Meanwhile, the others headed to Wrafton’s Inn. Garth bided his time in the common room while Aggressive and Seth took a room to conduct a ritual behind closed doors. The warforged persuaded (and paid) his new arcane friend to conduct a ritual over him to magically bind his armour into his body, thereby ridding himself of much of its weight and much of its bulk, while retaining all of its protection.

 

By the time they finished the warrior’s ritual, Noorwyn caught up with them in the Inn and they all took a meal together in the common room to discuss their plans.

 

The next morning they headed back up to the Keep, still hoping to find their kidnapped mentor, Gesh Gozer, Dragonborn Paladin. The road to Shadowfell Keep was just as arduous as before. Since the keep’s destruction, few travelers used the road and no one ever bothered to maintain the path. The road was overgrown with grass, ferns, and small trees. The keep wasn’t in any better shape. Evidence of its destruction could be seen as they approached the derelict ruins. The narrow track widened into the clearing. Great piles of shattered stone blocks and scorched timbers dominated the clearing, sprawling out from its center to the edge of the woods. No plants grew among the ruins or within the clearing. The ground is bare dirt, and although the forest has begun to reclaim the path leading here, it has not intruded into the ruins of Shadowfell Keep.

 

Yet clearly someone has tampered with the ruins. In the center of the debris, stone blocks and timbers have been gathered into a pile. There is a path cleared through the rubble to reveal a stone staircase. Rising up the staircase out of the  darkness came a small troop of about a dozen sahuagin, dragging someone as a prisoner! 

 

The party, still at the edge of the woods, moved to find cover among the trees. However, one of them was spotted by the leading sahuagin who yelled a command and the two sahuagin who were dragging the prisoner turned around and sped back into the bowels of the Keep, prisoner in tow.

 

Battle ensued. The adventurers took on the sahuagin well until two rust monsters were called by a whistle. The metal eating monsters scurried out from holes beneath the fallen rubble, eyeing Aggressive hungrily. Even then, however, our heros were unafraid and the evil monsters were soon no more.

 

Curious about who the prisoner was, Garth sped down the stairs, hoping to find some clues as to where the prisoner was dragged, but the many criss-crossing feet over the past few days had rendered the (non)tracks on the dungeon floor unreadable.

 

In the name of being thorough in the search for their mentor, the party decided to explore the one passage they had not yet looked into.The finely worked stairs and flagstones of the dungeon gave way to a wide, natural cavern. The ceiling was dripping with dozens of stalactites, and the floor rose unevenly with loose rocks and stalagmites. The rocks and debris become thicker to the east and west, and both directions offered only narrow paths of unobstructed terrain.

 

The passage was dark, dank and filled not only with stalactites and stalagmites, but also…rats – giant rats! Huge rats attacked the party from the cover of the stalactites and stalagmites, which wasn’t too bad for this group of capable adventurers, however, creeping up from behind the giant rats crawled an amorphous ochre jelly.

 

After defeating these creatures of the dark, the group found a pair of bronze double doors, green with age and stained blue and purple with a thick layer of fungus. Scratched into the fungus in the Common script was this message: “Stay Out. Really.”

 

Naturally, a warning like that only fired their curiosity. They opened the doors…

 

Unbeknownst to Aggressive, Garth, Noorwyn or Seth, when Shadowfell Keep was first built, the pool inside this small cave served as the castle cistern. On a normal day, several keep residents, mostly cooks and servants, visited the cave regularly. The passage leading to the pool was open until the fateful day when two children wandered into the area and drowned when they stepped off the edge into water that was too deep for them to wade in. After their bodies were discovered and removed from the pool, the area was sealed off to prevent further accidents. Subsequently, after Sir Keegan went mad and engaged in his killing spree, the keep was abandoned and the cistern stagnated. Over the decades since that time, creatures have used the cave as a source of water. A few months ago, two hobgoblins came to the keep and requested an audience with Kalarel. They said they were messengers from the Bloodreavers, a group of hobgoblin slavers. Kalarel listened to their offer of payment for the captured slaves, but he dismissed it. In fact, he was so irritated that the hobgoblins had disturbed his research with such petty motives that he ordered his own hobgoblins to drown them in the cistern. Within minutes after the messengers died, something vile crawled forth from the water. A morass of hunger with- out shape or mind, the form had only an insatiable appetite. The hobgoblins that brought the messengers to the cistern were quickly overcome by the amorphous creature. After several more goblins and hobgoblins died trying to remove this pestilence from the water, Kalarel gave up. The affair disquieted him, and he prohibited any of his follow- ers from entering the area. Although Kalarel heard nothing more of the Bloodreavers, the priest’s hobgoblin allies took the offer to heart and have begun to privately sell captured travelers to the Bloodreavers.

 

...When the doors were open, they found fungus-coated stairs led down into a natural cavern. Much of the chamber was filled with a stagnant pool of brackish water. A patch of land rose from the foul water at the pool’s center. On this little island, bones, spilled coins, and other small objects were visible among the carpet of fungus. Ripples stirred the calm water, as if something moved beneath its surface.

 

With one eye on the moving water, and one eye on the island, Garth leaped over the water onto the dry patch in the middle of the pool. As Garth’s feet touched the ground, the dank water suddenly disgorged a blob of blue slime. The amorphous mass poured forward, extruding long pseudopods that ended in appendages of dripping goo…

 

 

 

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Jhishma

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