Return to Southmoor...via the Shadowfel

Session 17 ~ The Chief & The Titan
  • The adventurers pushed on. They entered the chambers of the Hobgoblin War Chief, but before they could advance into the main room, an iron portcullis dropped, blocking their way. With some effort, Aggressive mangled the gate and shoved it back up towards the ceiling to open the way.

 

  • The hobgoblins then burst through the doors, trying to ambush them. The party overcame the monsters without much ado. They found some treasure and an old diary.

 

Sgt. Rose’s diary in the War Chief’s room contains a few bits of pertinent information:

 

Dated one week ago: 

Saw a tiefling woman crossing the bog, but when I tried to follow she disappeared, and I certainly wasn’t going to risk going deeper into that old bog myself. Captain Gozer spoke of a tiefling woman sometimes – Amara, I think? I wonder if there’s a connection…

 

  • Then the group headed down the dark passage, deeper into the bowels of the Keep.

 

  • Aggressive and Garth entered a large, dark room, lit from behind them by Noorwyn’s sunrod. In the centre of the room stood a life-size titan statue with an out-stretched sword. They tripped a trap (the titanic statue activated and attacked!) and the doors slammed shut and locked out the others behind them. They were locked in the dark with the trap!

 

  • The wizard, Seth, threw arcane thunder at the door, and Noorwyn hacked at it too, while Garth and Aggressive tackled the Titan. Eventually the warforged made his way back to the locked door and helped get it open to let the others in.

 

  • After a few more “experiments” with the titan and its sword, as well as a pair of force-breathing dragon statues, the party made its way around to the other side of the huge room where there was a large alcove with four cherubs at each corner of the alcove, and large, double doors at the back of the alcove.

 

  • Aggressive walked right into the midst of the cherubs and immediately a wall of force went up all around the alcove, trapping him in their midst as they then began pouring water into the trap.

 

  • After several rounds of tinkering and tampering, Noorwyn and Seth managed to use their arcane training and power to disable the force box. But not before it filled with water, which became a deadly whirlpool that almost killed the brave (foolish?) fighter as it bashed him around and around.

 

  • The group paused to lick its wounds a little, then moved on further down into the dark. Beyond the next dark hallway was another large, double door that opened into a chamber of rotting stink – rotting, undead flesh and the moans and shuffles of zombies…
<font class=”Apple-style-span”>
</font>
View
Session 16 ~ Hobgoblins & Their Pet Spider
  • Descending the stairs to the next level, they were challenged by hobgoblin guards asking for a passphrase.
  • Luckily, they had the correct passphrase from Ninaran.
  • But when the guards asked them to wait while they informed their commander of their arrival, Noorwyn ignored them, and when he tried to walk by all hell broke loose.
  • The adventurers defeated the hobgoblins and their pet leaping spider here and also the ones (who were almost alerted) in the barracks area
  • <font class=”Apple-style-span”>
    </font>
View
Session 15 ~ Skeleton Ambush & Sir Keagan’s Tomb
    <font class=”Apple-style-span”>

     

    • Garth leaped back over the water and the party made a quick exit, avoiding the Blue Slime, and gaining a bag of holding full of treasure.
    • They continued to explore through to the back of the caverns and found the kruthic nest. But, using Seth’s familiar, they saw it was a dead end, so they turned back from there too.
    • They returned to the area of undead and were ambushed by a troop of skeletons that popped out of their sarcophagi…repeatedly…
    • The heros put an end to it by praying at the altar of Bahamut.
    • They found Sir Keagan’s Tomb
    • The old, undead knight riddled them with questions to ascertain their intentions and worth.
    • They answered well and appeased the knight, gaining his sword as a gift.
    • Then the party headed to where they knew the dungeon went deeper…

    </font>
View
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…

 

 

 

View
Noorwyn and Agresiv reform the party

The bloodbath finally over, the three who remained standing decided to head back to Winterhaven. With built-in warrior’s honour, Agresiv needed to bring back Brok’s body for burial. They exited the mid-bowels of the Keep on the Shadowfel without difficulty or encounter. In fact, in the early morning their first encounter was with Lord Padraig himself, standing on the wall over the closed gates of Winterhaven upon their arrival back at the town.

Yes, Winterhaven’s gates were closed. Several figures stood with weapons drawn on the parapet above. One of the figures, Lord Padraig, waved as they approached. He called out, “We are in peril! Several villagers have disappeared, and the dead in the cemetery have risen. We fear these creatures will emerge to assail the gates and drag us all away.”

The adventurers told Padraig of what they had seen and done at the Keep, explaining that they would be honoured to continue helping Winterhaven but that they needed to enter the town to rest and recoup before venturing into the graveyard to fight the rising undead.

Although a little sad that they weren’t immediately heading off to keep fighting the town’s problems, Padraig quickly let them in. With the town gates safely shut behind them, the party rested and unloaded some of their spoils at Bairwin’s Grande Shoppe where Agresiv purchased a simple magic short sword for Noorwyn, while the gnome had breakfast tea with Valthrune the Prescient who was absolutely aghast at the bard’s tale. The old wizard told him of a young wizard, Seth who had come to town and wanted to help old Valthrune learn more of what was plaguing their land by doing research about the undead in the graveyard, and now probably in great danger.

Mana, however, had had enough. With everything he had been through and all this new talk of facing undead, he was finished. He could take no more, claiming once again that he was no adventurer, he turned his back on his former company and went his own way.

Once rested, the group set out in the early afternoon to investigate the trouble in the graveyard. They cautiously entered the fenced area and Agresiv set Brok’s body down just inside the gate. 

Unbeknownst to the duo, Seth was holed up in one of three small mausoleums and – through a crack in the door – he had seen an elf hunter pour liquid in a pattern on the ground, making it glow with a sickly blue light.

Noorwyn moved up along the side of the area among the tombstones while the warforged walked up the path. Agresiv asked the gnome if he remembered the name of the young wizard they were looking for. “Kalarel,” he absently replied. So Agresiv called out, “Kalarel! Where are you, Kalarel? We’re here to rescue you!” However, Noorwyn was mistaken and the wizard’s name, of course, was Seth. Suddenly, from out of the ground burst a squad of skeleton archers and a pair of gravehounds! Noorwyn was attacked and he immediately disappeared and dashed into the nearest mausoleum, where Seth happened to be hiding. After exchanging a few words and the gnome tried to explain the mistake with Seth’s name, they could at least decide that for now they were on the same side, although the wizard remained wary of Noorwyn.

It was scary, but it went from bad to worse when Ninaran also joined the fray, sniping from the doorway of one of the other mausoleums, then a scared monk named Garth ran fleeing out from the main building, pursued by a pair of githyanki and their pet.  But with the monk on the scene, and the wizard also joining in the battle, they slowly began to turn the tide. Then more and more undead rose from their graves: zombies and flying undead! What to do now?

With a flash of inspiration, Noorwyn ran to the glowing pattern in the ground that Ninaran had made. Well skilled in arcana, he managed to discern that by successfully applying his skill he would eventually be able to destroy, reverse or disable the magic of the glowing glyph and put an end to the walking dead. After a few more rounds of battle, the resourceful gnome was able to put an end to the zombies by un-working the evil magic inscribed in the ground; and the githyanki were defeated by the the monk and the wizard, while Agresiv subdued Ninaran.

When the fighting was over Noorwyn went straight for the hunter from whom he had taken his falcon. His intimidating presence was irresistible. She tried to answer him by handing him a piece of vellum which read:

“I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply you with a force to thwart them. I’m very close to completion; see that I’m not interrupted. As you already know, if you do come to the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is “From the ground, some magic was found.”

—Kalarel”

Being as insightful as he was intimidating, Noorwyn saw through her bluff and forced her to tell him the true pass phrase: “And life fails in the dark.” With the danger behind them for now, the newly formed group took a moment to acquaint themselves with each other, while, Agresiv dug a grave for Brok under a tree with his goblin shovel. When the warforged’s back was turned Noorwyn cut off Ninaran’s head to bring back to Lord Padraig, to whom they returned before nightfall.

 

 

<font class=”Apple-style-span”>
</font>
View
Session 12 ~ Brok not mourned

Surprise, Agresiv! He moved through the wall as though it were not present.  Utter darkness greeted his eyes on the other side, so he threw in the torch he had grabbed from the wall in the previous area. He found himself in a larger chamber than they at first thought. Four rotting corpses stood in the area, their dead eyes fixed upon him. Four more zombies were guarding this room. But why? 

The area beyond the false wall appeared to be an armoury. It contained two weapon racks, on the north and south walls, and a stand against the east wall with a ragged suit of armor mounted on it. Mounted on the north wall above the weapon rack was a steel plaque inscribed with a helm from a suit of plate armor.

The evil zombies immediately attacked. It was close-quarters fighting in the small room and its entrance, especially since Noorwyn was too curious about the inscription to stand back and use his ranged powers.  Things seemed to be going well until the one of the walls outside in the larger chamber was suddenly broken through right where Mana was standing, and out from the sealed crypt stepped three hungry wights!

Brok and Mana took held off the wights, while Agresiv and Noorwyn finished the zombies. Now things were considerably tougher for our heroes and the wights were slowly draining the life out them, especially Brok and Agresiv. In fact, when the fight was finally over the party decided they needed to take a big rest, so they holed-up in the secret room

Before taking rest, however, the gnome was intent on studying the inscription on the plaque behind the illusory wall. Upon closer inspection, the plaque became magically animated and spoke:

 

“A wondrous treasure,

Valued by all, sought by many.

Found in both victory and defeat,

Yet never at the bottom of a treasure chest.

It marches before you like a herald,

And lives long after you are gone.

Of what do I speak?”

 

Noorwyn, Agresiv and Brok all knew the answer at once. “Repurtation!” they correctly cried in unison, and the armor on the stand suddenly gleamed with light and transformed from junk into beautiful, shiny, magical scale armor, which Agresiv felt he would be able to make excellent use of.

Content with their victory and their spoils, the adventurers sealed themselves into the secret room to lick their wounds and regain lost vigour.

Just as they were beginning to feel rejuvenated and well enough to move on, Agresiv heard noises outside the door. Thinking he would catch whoever it was by surprise, he opened the door first to greet them before waking the others.

It was a huge gang of hobgoblin patrollers guided by Splug – they had been betrayed!

A gruesome battle ensued. The party became furious with Brok, especially Noorwyn who had tried to kill Splug more than once, only to be stopped by Brok. The hobgoblins were organized and brutal. Brok himself was knocked unconscious twice, only to be revived by his comrades. But our favourite (or not?) bugbear rose back to the battle. Finally he closed on Splug, who had been gleefully slinging insults up to now, but the little goblin didn’t last long under Brok’s mighty blade.

Soon after the goblin’s deserved demise, Brok also finally succumbed to his wounds – this time not to rise again. So distressed by this betrayal and deadly ambush was the party that Brok was not mourned. In fact, Noorwyn especially showed no remorse whatsoever.

Thus was the bloody end of Brok the outcast bugbear.

 

 

View
Session 11 ~ Excavation Site and Zombie Maze

At the bottom of the dark stairway and secret passage leading out from Balgron The Fat’s private chamber the adventurer’s found another secret door. On the other side, Mana could hear goblin voices arguing about treasure – treasure they couldn’t seem to find.

They opened the door and the wily Brok decided to try a bluff. He stepped through the secret door and into the hall that led to the chamber the goblins were arguing in. From there he called to the goblins (in goblinoid) that Balgron was commanding that they come upstairs. But the goblins were not so easily deceived and they said so! 

Quick thinking Noorwyn, however, copied Brok’s accent and words as best he could, and with gnomish luck managed to save Brok’s bluff and pull it off! They believed the deceit and one of the goblins approached. 

As the goblin rounded the corner into the hall, Brok turned his back (so they wouldn’t see the scar on his face that identifies him to all goblins and their kin that he is a traitor to their kind) and motioned for him to follow as he slipped back through the secret door to the stairs. The goblin approached the door unawares and was killed before he could shout a warning.

Then, using Balgron the Fat’s head as a puppet, they actually managed to successfully lure the others closer as well! But they soon brought the fight to the remaining goblins and their drake-dogs, down into the pit in the floor where the goblins were digging, trying to excavate treasure that wasn’t there.

Meanwhile, back up the staircase, there was a bit of a tussle between Noorwyn and Splug. Splug screamed bloody murder and managed to disarm Noorwyn and take his sword! He cut himself free from the murderous gnome and then Brok reappeared, having returned from the fight in the hall (leaving Agresiv to fend for himself alone) to come to the aid of his fellow goblinoid.

Noorwyn did not disguise his intent on Splug but Brok would hear nothing of it and he set Splug free! The goblin immediately bounded up the stairs, past the passive Mana and away.

Back in the goblins’ excavation site, Agresiv easily jumped from floor section to floor section, avoiding the pit below (at the beginning), and also cleverly avoiding the planks that bridged the spans between them. Noorwyn’s jump wasn’t quite up to the mark, however, and he fell in, soon to be preyed upon by the drakes, their two remaining goblin masters, and did that mud puddle just move of its own accord…?

Brok came running in and made a giant leap into the pit to take on the goblins and their dogs. Agresiv joined them in the pit, however, he was promptly attacked by the mud elemental, which all but swallowed the warforged whole. While scary for a moment, the creatures of the dungeon were quickly out-matched and our adventurer’s moved on after finding almost nothing of value on the wretched monsters.

After a short rest, the group decided to explore down the darkened stairs where no light shone. They cracked a sun rod and cautiously descended. They found odd arcane glyphs on the floor, but none could make heads nor tails of them. Wishing to avoid a trap, but uncertain how to cross the passages marked with the glyphs, Brok went back upstairs and brought back one of the dead goblin bodies and threw it from a distance onto the centre of an area in the passage with rune-marked flagstones.

Nothing happened.

Then they spotted decaying bodies standing in a room to the side, motionless. Again, Brok thought it would be best to throw the goblin body into the midst of this room to avoid activating a trap. He went back and picked up the goblin off the glyph-marked flagstones where he had first thrown it. “Noooo!” cried Noorwyn and Agresiv in unison. Too late. A blood-curdling ghostly cry issued from the magical glyph and sent terror into the hearts of everyone in the party and they ran – straight into the room full of a half dozen zombies! Not only that, they could hear more coming from the north…

Shortly, our heroes were surrounded, although they seemed to be holding things together fairly well. Until, that is, Brok made a charge at the second group of undead walkers and crossed another magical glyph. The terrifying scream that ensued sent him turning on his heel back towards the first group. Agresiv was so scared he tried to run past the zombies, but luckily he didn’t make it into the chamber beyond because who knows what he may have awoken…

Eventually, the fear faded and the adventurers regrouped to defeat the foul rotters. They managed to get by the remaining glyphs that barred their way and found a secret door in a room at the far end of the small zombie maze. Although the spotted the door, and they even saw the door’s mechanism on the ceiling, they couldn’t get it open. Finally, after assisting each other in every possible way and spending the better part of an hour on it, they managed to open it!

Beyond the secret door was a small empty room. Agresiv poked around and soon found his head went right through the end wall!

 

View
Session 10 ~ Torture Chamber & Chieftain's Lair

The adventurer’s needed a small breather after finally dispatching the goblin guards. Then, from the guardroom, they cautiously ventured east, then around the corner to north, following the excited babble of goblin voices beyond a door at the end of the corridor.

The corridor widened into a long, narrow chamber. They found doors set in the northern and western walls, and iron double doors standing to the east. Faint bloodstains streaked the floor between the western door and the northern door.

With barely a pause, Brok decided he should knock on the northern door, calling to those within in goblin as he did. And the door was opened by the scarred and burned hobgoblin executioner himself wearing a black leather mask over his abominable face and head!

The bluff barely lasted a breath, however, and soon Brok and the black-masked executioner were exchanging blows in the doorway. Before long Brok and Agresiv had forced their way into the room, battling the grim, foul-mouthed executioner and his side-kick goblin warrior, while a couple of goblin snipers took pot-shots from behind the cover of the rack – upon which wailed Splug!

The party took a few solid hits.  The executioner hurled gruesome insults and  stabbed Brok with a burning poker, which burned and burned. But the brave party struck back hard at the goblin torturers. Mana even tried to go after one of the shooters with one of the executioner’s own weapons: a hot poker! He grabbed it out of the burning brazier and brandished it at the goblin and his crossbow. The monster easily stepped aside, slipped back and shot Mana solidly –  almost point-blank. Then Mana, fulfilling his role as the cowardly shaman being Mana, dropped the useless poker, backed away and dove under the torture table to take cover from the shooting goblin while waving his lightning-shooting totem with at his wiry, snarling enemy.

Meanwhile, Agresiv cornered one of them. It ran into the cage in the corner of the chamber and locked itself in, hoping to shoot the adventurer’s from the safety of its cage. The warforged took it as sport to pursue the goblin and with a mighty heave, smashed open the gate of the cage. The trapped goblin squealed in fear. The powerful fighter easily grabbed the miserable creature and slowly dragged it over to the iron maiden, into which he stuffed the hapless, evil monster. It perished inside with a whimper.

They found valuable treasure from the executioner, but no clues yet as to the location of their paladin mentor, whom they believe to have been abducted to the keep.

The heroes questioned the goblin, Splug, who they rescued from the torture table, but he professed to know nothing of Gozer, their mentor. Splug eagerly offered to show them the way out, but “out” was not where our adventurers wanted to go! Splug squealed and begged for mercy when Mana threatened to kill him. Splug persuaded them that he was a “good” goblin, which, as luck would have it (or was it by design?), was the only thing he could have said to touch Brok’s heart and the bugbear even offered him a weapon so he could help them. Noorwyn too, argued for his life, but the gnome was less trusting and found that Splug already had three daggers on him (although he had declared he had no weapons). So Noorwyn hobbled the miserable Splug and then tied the goblin to himself.

From there the party opened the east door of the narrow entrance room of the torture chamber. Brok tried to be sneaky. He silently inched his way down the long, narrow hall beyond the door. It opened up on a small room and he peeked around the corner. Two goblins sat at a table, playing cards, their weapons close at hand. Across the room to the east, thick tapestries covered the walls. On the table between the goblins sat a small bronze bell.

Brok signalled the others that there were two enemies. Then he introduced himself to the goblin guards by jumping out from his hiding spot up onto the goblin’s card table and putting his foot solidly on the bell! Agresiv followed hot on his heels and the two guards were dispatched of fairly quickly, but not before they were able to yell a warning to whoever might be lurking beyond the tapestries…

Mana entered the card-playing room and was curious about what was beyond the tapestries. Noorwyn was following behind, slowed by the hobbled goblin tied to him for safe-keeping. Mana, being Mana,  shape-changed into an elk and casually walked behind the nearest tapestry into the hall behind it.

Agresiv looked over his shoulder, “Interesting,” he mused.

There was a door on the south wall of the hall immediately behind the tapestry. As Mana-the-elk entered the hall – all by himself – the door burst open revealing a crowd of alarmed goblins! Caught like a deer in headlights, the musky  wapiti was momentarily at a loss but he tried to play it smooth. The elk-shaman coolly sauntered on down the hall past the goblins (who were perhaps even more surprised to see the elk than the elk was to see the goblins), following the hall in a U-turn around two left corners, past a solid-looking door further to the east, to stop in front of another door on the north wall that also burst open with a crowd of goblins behind it!

Luckily for the shaman, however, it was only a matter of moments before Agresiv and Brok each moved in to take a position in front of a threatened doorway. The goblin warriors and their gang of miserable minions were all too easily overcome.

Meanwhile, Noorwyn was dragging Splug down the hall towards the solid eastern door that Mana had passed by. The authoritative gnome demanded to know what was behind it. Splug cowered and pleaded, “It’s Balgron the Fat. He’s horrible! Please don’t take me in there, please!” Heedless of the whining monster, Noorwyn reached for the door. It was locked!

By this time, the others were on the scene and everyone wanted to know who or what was behind the locked door. The monstrous barbarian threw his weight at the barrier, feeling certain that treasure and perhaps information leading to Gozer was almost within his grasp. With a roar and a heavy push he forced the door open.

The room beyond was indeed the personal quarters of Balgron the Fat. A goblin warrior challenged the party from the centre of the room and yelled over his shoulder to a corner curtained-off by more hanging tapestries, “They’re here!” Mana and Noorwyn heard sliding stone quietly moving from behind the old, strung-up rugs, and they alerted the others. Brok immediately rushed to the curtained-off corner with Mana close behind while Agresiv engaged the goblin warrior. Noorwyn, tied to Splug, remained in the doorway.

Behind the tapestries they found a chest and the bare walls of the corner of the room. With a quick search Mana found and opened a secret door. At the end of a long, downward staircase they saw what could only be Balgron, standing at a dead end. Leaving Mana and Noorwyn to deal the goblin guard, Brok and Agresiv pursued Balgron to the bottom of the stairs. Balgron pleaded for his life, offering his key to the treasure chest and the password to the lower levels of the Keep, if only they would spare him. They questioned Balgron about a paladin taken prisoner. He seemed to know nothing and Brok decided the password wasn’t worth it. They drew swords!

Mana had been left behind the tapestries with the goblin guard, while our gnome friend remained hobbled with

Splug. The shaman, however, was certainly not about to go toe-to-toe with the goblin warrior. While unable to speak the monster’s language, Mana (being Mana) put up his empty hands, made a clear gesture towards the chest and then motioned to the door. The goblin got the hint. Glancing down the stairs and clearly seeing the fate of his superior at the hands of the barbarian and the warforged, he grabbed the small chest and ran for the door.

Although Brok was in the middle of dealing with Balgron, it did not go beyond his notice that Mana had (yet again) chosen to forego the loot – this time on behalf of everyone! Noorwyn tried to get himself and Splug manoeuvred into a position to stop the fleeing, treasure-bearing goblin. And Brok dashed back up the stairs in hot pursuit. Luckily, the monster did not escape with the treasure and both goblins soon met their gory end. The gold and magic in the chest was worth it!

 

View
Session 9 ~ Goblin Guard Room

After cleansing the kobold lair, the group returned triumphantly to Winterhaven. Noorwyn used his charm to get an audience with Lord Padraig at an inconvenient hour, but he couldn’t get him to pay the reward without proof of the deed having been done. He demanded the goblin head of Irontooth to be produced. Noorwyn insisted it was done, but that they didn’t have time to go back for the head because they had other pressing business. Padraig said he would have to send his own men to verify it and Noorwyn could collect his fee next time they passed through Winterhaven.

Meanwhile (unbeknownst to the others), Mana used his own charm to hire Ninaran as a guide up to the Keep for the next morning.

Next morning they set out for the Keep, Ninaran leading the way. Noorwyn and Brok were unable to be civil with the elf, although Mana tried to keep the peace. As they approached, the narrow track widened into a clearing.

The forest suddenly fell silent. Animal and insect sounds stopped, and even the wind died down so that not even a leaf moved in the branches overhead. It was unnaturally cold, and they felt like someone—or something—was watching them, although they knew there was no one else nearby.

Ninaran was just interested in the gold and was content to walk with them for the morning up to the edge of the dead clearing around the spooky Keep, then she took her payment and left.

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 was bare dirt, and although the forest had begun to reclaim the path leading here, it had not intruded into the ruins of Shadowfell Keep.

Yet clearly someone had tampered with the ruins. In the center of the debris, stone blocks and timbers had been gathered into a pile. Someone had cleared a path through the rubble and pulled aside the wreckage to reveal a stone staircase. The staircase descended into darkness.

With the barest minimum of caution the adventurers descended into the dungeons below the ruins of the Keep. The stairway leading down consisted of finely crafted stone, perhaps the work of dwarves. A breeze chilled the brave adventurers to the bone as they

took each step down. The flicker of torchlight spilled from a room at the bottom of the stairs.

After taking a few steps into the centre of the room, Brok fell into a concealed pit and was attacked by a swarm of rats. His primal thunder soon was the end of the vermin, but more deadly vermin took advantage of the trap to spring their attack on the rest of the party – goblins!

There were four: a couple of snipers and a couple of soldiers. It should have been nothing for our stalwart group, yet these four little critters put up quite the fight! Whether due to over-confidence or just bad luck, it was a battle that left them more bloody than they’d anticipated. Luckily, Brok kept the last one from escaping to find help.

And so our group ended this session, licking their wounds in the first guard chamber of the first level beneath Shadowfell Keep…

 

 

View
Session 8 ~ The Kobold Lair

 

The party of adventurers collectively elected to return to Winterhaven from the old dragon burial site.  At the town gates they split up.

 

Mana headed straight back to Valthrune the Prescient’s tower. Agresiv paced back and forth through the market square, making notes for chapter one of his book. Noorwyn turned away from the gates and followed the cry of a falcon he saw circling in the sky over a distant hill outside town.  That left Brok standing at the gate by himself.

 

At the sage’s tower, Mana found the old man at home. He quickly called Agresiv over to join him and they both got invited in for tea.  Valthrune confessed that he knew more about the old keep than he had let on before. He told them that there was an ancient rift to the Shadowfel deep under the keep, although it had been magically sealed long ago. He further explained that he felt fairly certain that the symbol he found carved on the pendant was a representation of Orcus, lord of demons. “This does not bode well! If servants of Orcus are active in the area, they are likely interested in nothing less that re-opening the rift! this is terrible! If death cultists unseal the rift, a tide of undead could descend on Winterhaven. And there’s another thing: I found out that someone will need to participate in a ritual to unbind a faltering divine energy source from the Crystal Nexus, a massive pillar of enchanted quartz that protects the surrounding area from the encroachment of chaos. At the same time, you need to seek out a willing nature spirit and attempt to convince it to join the with the nexus. While the nature spirit binds itself, you reweave the freed divine energies to create a protective enchantment. Unfortunately, the text gave no indication as to where this Crystal Nexus is located. Today, we have no empire to call for aid. The death cult will overwhelm us and establish a kingdom of death in this world if they’re not stopped. Can you help eliminate this evil threat?”

 

Meanwhile, outside the town walls, Noorwyn followed the cry of the falcon over the hill where he saw it dive down. Upon cresting the hill, he saw the falcon on the arm of a hunter. Bird and gnome were transfixed for a moment by each other’s gaze. Noorwyn took out his flute and began to play. Within moments of releasing the magical notes to the air, the falcon  flew to him and landed on his raised arm as he held his instrument. The hunter turned to see where her bird had gone. She was furious when she saw the falcon on Noorwyn’s arm. “You!” she cried, “give me back my falcon!” It was Ninaran, and she was in a foul mood, as usual. Noorwyn felt a magical bond forming between himself and the falcon. He simply said, “I think the bird has made its choice.” Ninaran looked as though she was ready to pounce on the gnome and throttle him then and there. Looking past him, to the town’s walls not so far off, she thought better of it. “You haven’t seen the last of me!” she scowled, and went sulking off to the forested are North West.

 

As these events were unfolding, a woman ran crying through the gates of the town, almost colliding with Brok, who was still loitering about between the tavern and the gate, just inside the town. “Murderers! Thieves!” she cried, “I barely escaped with my life!”

“What happened?” asked the concerned bugbear.

“They’ve burned and pillaged my brother’s farm!” she wailed.

“Who? Where?” asked Brok.

“My brother’s farm! My brother’s farm! Over there, they’ve burned my brother’s farm!” she answered.

“Who? Where?” asked Brok again. She waved her arm vaguely to the east. “Are there any survivors?” continued Brok. But the woman just burst into tears.

 

It was about this time when Mana, Agresiv, and Noorwyn were all heading back to the tavern. They saw Brok and the woman in distress. Pretty soon they sorted out what had happened and they headed off toward her family’s farm. They didn’t have to go far before they saw smoke rising from burning buildings. As they approached, they saw the kobolds ransacking the place – about ten of them. The monsters grouped up and headed south. Accompanying them was an ogre!

 

The adventurers followed the band of monsters for a few kilometers. Small glades of trees led up to a cliffside waterfall, where a stream tumbled from the top of a rocky overhang. The water descended the side of the hill and flowed away to the southwest. Mana and Agresiv noticed that the ogre stood beneath the falling water for a moment, then disappeared. They (except Brok) heard the sound of many voices just barely audible over the din of the waterfall, and several kobolds were visible through the trees.

 

Battle ensued. And there, beside the river, standing in a circle of magical runes, was the Crystal Nexus of enchanted quartz, surrounded by standing stones.

 

The adventurers the band of kobold robbers without too much difficulty. Noorwyn and Mana then turned to the pillar of quartz. Noorwyn used his arcane power to discern its purpose and energy. He called to Mana to help and by and by they were able to begin the ritual. Mana called a nature spirit from the stream and he was able to convince it to join with the quartz pillar. The divine energy was released and together he and Noorwyn managed to complete the ritual and restore the proper flow of energy. And Brok and Agresiv helped a little too.

 

With that done, they turned their attention to their surroundings and found a way behind the waterfall into a large cavern. It was the kobold lair they had been hired to find! Brok was immediately swarmed by the little dragonlings but his new-found primal powers destroyed many of them with waves of thunder almost immediately. But then more powerful kobold leaders, and Irontooth himself emerged from the deeper recesses of the cave, followed by their secret weapon: the ogre!

 

The battle was long and gory. Brok went down at least once, but Mana kept him alive. Agresiv went toe to toe with the ogre, but his blade could not find its mark. Finally, Noorwyn came to his side and the little gnome almost single-handedly bloodied the smelly giant beast! Meanwhile, Mana was skirting with the idea of flight, until Agresiv’s missing streak finally passed, the ogre was brought down, and it eventually became clear that the tide of the battle was turning, and that they just might survive, victorious. Eventually they did overcome, and found a small hoard of hard-earned treasure.

 

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.