Forth!

All's well that ends
Well?

Thorgrim has departed for parts unknown. While the rest of the party relaxes and recuperates in Fallcrest, Magnus is away on a religious mission.

As Gyani, Uriondir, and Gideon are spending another evening in the taproom of the Nentir Inn when in walks Nathan Faringray, Captain of the Fallcrest City Guard. “Are you the Heroes of Winterhaven?” he asks. He then explains that a nettlesome group of Gnolls have been attacking local merchants but he can’t spare any of the city guard to go take care of them.

The next morning the party sets out to find the gnolls. However, before they leave town a young child gives Gyani a message on paper.

It doesn’t take long to find the gnolls; the party simply follows the tracks leading away from a burning merchant wagon. After scouting the area, our heroes find a single opening in the side of a hill below the ruins of a tower. With confidence, the party enter the crypt.

Three claw fighters and an ultimately ineffectual sand trap provide little challenge if a bit nerve-wracking. The next room, though, is full of sarcophagi, gnolls, and hyenas. Our heroes are quickly overwhelmed, so they judiciously retreat to regroup.

After discussing their options, Uriondir and Gyani return to Fallcrest to hire some help. Gideon stays behind to keep an eye on the gnolls. After a couple days, Gyani and Uriondir return with Lily, a mysterious human fighter. They head back in and are able to prevail against the second room of gnolls. Judicious use of a stinking cloud spell really helped, of course.

The third room initially starts out well, with Gyani pummeling the Gnoll Demonic Scourge early and the melee types beating up on him quickly. However, before the party can turn their attention to the three archers who are turning Uriondir into a pincushion, a Grell rises from the pit in the middle of the room and begins to attack.

Lily is grabbed first by the Grell and dropped into the pit, apparently to her doom. A sleep spell from Uriondir is able to take out one of the archers. The Grell alternates grabbing Gyani and Gideon, but each keeps escaping before the Grell can do anything worse. It’s looking bad for the party when Lily climbs out of the well and takes on the archers.

But the Grell is very difficult to bring down, and it succeeds in grabbing Gyani and poisoning him with its bite. Now on the threshold of death, Gyani is dropped into the well. With the archers gone, the rest of the party can concentrate on this abomination from the deep. They are able to prevail, although Lily is nearly killed again.

They are too late.

Gyani is dead.

View
The Exciting Conclusion
Is this the end of Thorgrim?

Thorgrim still wasn’t quite himself.

After some indecision, the party stealthily enters a cathedral of evil. Streams of blood flow from the altar to a hole in the floor. Splug the goblin is tied to the altar as the next sacrifice.

They are able to surprise a pair of Berserkers then engage another set of undead and an underpriest(ess) of Orcus. The Vampire Spawn Fleshrippers are hard to bring down in spite of being minions, and the Dark Creeper causes plenty of trouble even while immobilized.

The heroes are able to prevail, however, without too much trouble. Oh, and Uriondir frees Splug, who is quite grateful.

Chanting is heard from below and is increasing in intensity. Chains, slick with blood, descend into darkness. This is the source of all the evil in the Keep.

Our heroes slide down the chains into a nightmare. They are standing in a pool of blood. A portal leads to the Shadowfell and a frighteningly thin membrane keeps back some unknown horror. Skeleton Sentinals and a Shallowgrave Wight are there to protect Kalarel, the Scion of Orcus who is attempting to open the portal. There is also a menacing statue of Orcus and a pit that the party never explores.

The Skeletons are fairly easy to bring down, but no sooner do they go down than they pop back up. Kalarel taunts the party mercilessly and, worse, the Thing in the Portal pulls people towards it to attack them.

Uriondir runs for his life, Splug chases him to help, Thorgrim goes after the Wight, and Gideon and Gyani get Kalarel flanked. Just when they think they have him cornered, Kalarel uses his amulet to teleport to the magic circle in front of the Portal.

Things are looking dicey for a while, but Thorgrim brings the Wight down, the Skeletons crumble, and the party concentrates on Kalarel while trying not to be pulled into the Portal. Kalarel is incredibly hard to bring down, but eventually he is defeated. “Orcus will avenge me!”

At his death, the disembodied chanting stops, the Thing in the Portal recedes, the dark opening turns to plain stone, and the room begins to crumble. Our heroes quickly search the room and bodies, then quick as they can climb back up the blood-slicked chains, with Gideon carrying an unconscious Thorgrim.

The party returns to Winterhaven and are greeted as heroes. Lord Padraig sponsors a feast, old women bake pies, and everyone wants to shake their hands. Ultimately, Winterhaven is too small for the big dreams of our heroes, so they say their goodbyes and head back to Fallcrest. It is at this point that Thorgrim takes his leave; his destiny lies elsewhere.

View
Gleaming the Cube
Statues, then more undead, then getting eaten

Magnus and Thorgrim again didn’t seem themselves.

After seeing Magnus and Thorgrim trapped behind the magical wall and the water rising, both Uriondir and Gideon Fey Stepped beyond the wall to help, leaving Gyani to deal with the dragon statues. Whether due to luck or his stature, the dragon statues’ breath kept missing the halfling, and he was able to disable one of the traps.

Meanwhile, the water has gotten above Thorgrim’s head and begun forming a whirlpool, buffeting those trapped inside. It doesn’t take long for the group to destroy the vases spewing the water, which frees them from the trap. After dealing with the final dragon statue, the party rests briefly before heading back toward a set of doors they had bypassed earlier.

A long, uninterrupted corridor ends with a pair of double doors boarded with a sign saying “Closed”. This is naught but an invitation to our heroes, who tear the sign down and enter. They find more corridors with rather clean floors. Further in, the room opens up and contains four more sarcophagi. Two are empty and, when the party turns to investigate a door on the other side of the room, the other two slam open disgorging two Corruption Corpses. Battle ensues and the undead are quickly dispatched, with Gyani being covered in necrotic filth.

Heading back up the corridor the party is surprised by a Gelatinous Cube! Thorgrim and Gideon are quickly engulfed. The mindless monster continues to attack and digest the party. Gyani even comes close to death! But, in the end, they prevail. But the party is wounded and weary, so they find a defensible room and hole up for the night.

The next day (or night; who can tell underground?) the party returns to the chamber of statues but the traps have not been reset. The eerie feelings the party has noticed the entire time they’ve been here are deeper than ever.

They open the next set of doors and are greeted by the stench of rotting flesh. That and a horde of zombies, a ghoul, and a homunculus. The zombies are dispatched easily, but the ghoul and the homunculus less so. In fact, the homunculus flees when almost all of the zombies are dispatched, presumably to warn its master. Rather than chase it, the party finishes off the undead, then searches for treasure, finding a Bag of Holding with some coins within.

View
Descent to the Second Level
Hobgoblins, hobgoblins...and a giant deadly statue?

Magnus seemed more himself.

Our heroes made their way out of the maze and found a secret door to an apparently empty chamber. It was not all it seemed however. An illusory wall hid four zombies intent on eating our heroes’ brains. Unfortunately (for them) our heroes were up for the challenge and dispatched them quickly. They then needed to solve a riddle posed by a magical plaque. They were able to get the answer in two tries.

After that, the party descended the stairs where they were confronted by hobgoblin guards that demanded a password. Sadly, our heroes were taken in by a letter found on Ninaran, Kalarel’s spy, and gave the wrong response to the challenge. The hobgoblins immediately attacked, knowing the party for intruders. They also released their pet, a Deathjump spider, which pinned Gyani to the ground. The battle went well, except one hobgoblin was able to escape and bring reinforcements.

The heroes were hard-pressed by this second force, but were able to prevail. Wounded and short of spells, they retreated up the stairs to the hidden armory and rested.

Refreshed, they once again descended the steps to the dungeon’s second level and made their way deeper into the hobgoblin areas. Gyani tripped a trap which caused a portcullis to block their path. The party retreated back to the stairs but were pursued by more hobgoblins, including their warchief. Another battle ensued, with the party showing cunning and guile in defeating the hobgoblins.

Rewarded with a chest full of gold and a magical short sword, the party moved deeper into the dungeon, away from the hobgoblins’ torches. They eventually made their way to a large room with three hazards: A giant statue of a warrior with plate armor and a huge sword, two dragon statues that breath pure force, and cherubs that fill a trap of magical walls with water.

The giant statue swing its sword several times, knocking a few of our heroes to the ground. Gyani was able to disable the giant statue, but the dragon statues have so far eluded his (and Gideon’s) skill. Magnus and Thorgrim have become trapped between the magical walls and the water from the cherubs’ vases shows no sign of stopping.

And that is where we leave our heroes. Can Gyani and Gideon stop the dragon statues (or at least get away from them)? Can Magnus and Thorgrim destroy the vases dispensing water, and will that stop the trap? Will Uriondir figure out how to help?

We’ll find out next time.

View
The Dead Walk
...and walk, and walk, and walk...

After defeating Ninaran, Kalarel’s apparent spy, and her legion of undead, the party leaves the cemetery to return to Winterhaven. As soon as the exit the cemetery gate, they are attacked by nearly a score more walking dead. These new undead were dispatched quickly and the party returned to Winterhaven and were hailed as heroes.

Our heroes cleaned themselves up and spent the night at Wrafton’s Inn, some spending time in the common room regaling the locals with tales of their adventures. The next morning they set out bright and early to return to the Keep and descend “the smelly steps”.

They reach the Keep and descend once more into the dungeon. The place is completely dark now, and goblin corpses lay where the party left them, although something has obviously been “nibbling” on them.

They open the double doors and once more are assailed with an intense smell of damp rot. Moving slowly with only Uriondir’s light, our heroes find themselves in a maze of passages. In several locations they find strange symbols inscribed into the floors. Unable to determine their purpose and unwilling to try to leap over them, the party finds itself in a room with a group of zombies. Battle ensues and our heroes are once again triumphant.

Moving deeper into the dungeon, the party finds its way into a crypt full of sarcophagi. Two are inspected but are found to be empty. However, Magnus moves deeper into the crypt and triggers a magical trap! All of the sarcophagi slam open and animated skeletons attack the party.

The party holds its own, but every few seconds two sarcophagi slam open and disgorge more skeletons. Can the party fight a war of attrition? Fortunately, they don’t need to find out. Gideon, disciple of Bahamut, prays at one of the altars deeper in the crypt and the skeleton attacks stop. Within the altars are found dragon statuettes made of silver and platinum.

Further along they find a tomb. There is some debate as to whether to open the stone coffin. The debate become moot as the lid of the coffin explodes and a skeletal knight challenges the party to identify themselves and state their intentions. Each party member speaks in turn to convince the specter of Sir Keegan that they wish to close the rift to the Shadowfell and have the wherewithal to do it. Finally he is convinced and he gifts the party with Aecris, his magical long sword.

Leaving Sir Keegan’s tomb the party returns to the maze with the strange symbols on the floor. This time they decide to leap over them. There is no trouble with the first, but when trying to leap over the second, both Magnus and Gyani stumble and set of an alarm. While Magnus and Gyani flee back where they’ve come, the rest of the party follows, pursued by another group of zombies. With a little time to prepare the party is able to take down the zombies with little effort.

We leave the party as they prepare to explore the area north of the maze.

View
Delving Further Into the Keep
Belligerent Jelly and Flatulent Slime

Magnus and Thorgrim did not seem themselves this day.

After spending the night in the Goblin Chieftain’s lair, the party sets out to explore more of the dungeon. With the goblins slain, the eerie quiet of the dungeon is even more unsettling. Worse is that the goblins’ torches and lanterns have gone out. Fortunately, a well-placed Light spell from Uriondir keeps the gloom at bay.

The party heads west across the dungeon to one set of double doors. It is very dark behind these doors, and the party is confronted with a staircase going down and a very distinct smell of rot. They decide they would rather not go that way, and return to the other side of the goblin area.

First, they explore a room where the goblins have been excavating and, apparently, not finding anything. There are no goblins here, however, as they likely acted as backups in one of the previous day’s battles.

They then descend another set of stairs into a natural cavern. It is dark and populated by giant rats. As our heroes explore, the rats begin to ambush members of the party. After a few minutes and more than a few dead rats, an Ochre Jelly oozes between the stalagmites and attacks. Just when the party thinks it’s got the upper hand against this new menace, it splits in two and continues attacking!

Finally the party triumphs over both the ooze and the rats and continues deeper into the cavern, where they find a Kruthik lair. An adult, a few young, and several hatchlings attack the party. The adult impales two party members with venomous spikes, and the hatchlings ambush the party from behind, but they persevere.

Moving on, they are confronted by a door upon which someone has scrawled, in Common, “Stay out. Really.” They consider heeding that advice, but change their minds and enter. Inside the find a pool of brackish water. This perhaps may have been a cistern for the Keep long ago. Gideon Fey Steps to the small island in the middle of the pool to examine what appears to be treasure, when noxious fumes bubble up from the water, sickening Gideon and Thorgrim. Immediately after a Blue Slime appears. It sprays acid everywhere then starts attacking with two pseudopods. This is a tough monster, and it takes serious work to defeat. After defeating the Slime, the party finds coins and some interesting documents: a map of the area, a letter to Kalarel offering to buy captured humanoids, and a note talking about a “nodule” and care in why and how to get it wet.

Tired and wounded, the party decides to return to town. They are confronted by a closed gate and news that the dead in the cemetery have risen. The members of the party pause in town to gather their strength. After a few hours’ rest, and a little shopping, the party walks over to the graveyard.

All seems quiet, but then the dead suddenly burst from the ground and attack! In the midst of the attack, Ninaran, the elven archer, reappears…on the side of the undead! She begins to move around the battlefield, shooting her arrows with deadly effect, when Gideon tracks her down and slays her with his flashing twin blades. They party makes short work of the undead after that, although the Gravehounds prove troublesome. The party finds a letter on Ninaran which appears to be from Kalarel and contains instructions on how to raise the dead to “deal” with the party and a password to gain entrance to the second level of the dungeon.

That is where we leave the party.

View
Goblins in the Keep
Quinn did what?!

After a good night’s rest, the party seeks out Valthrun the Prescient to ask him about the mirror they found at the Dragon Burial mound as well as the letter from Kalarel that they got from Irontooth. Valthrun becomes very concerned about the mention of Orcus in that missive and, given the medallion the party also has, is convinced that a group of Orcus death cultists is operating in the area and must be trying to re-open the Rift to the Shadowfell.

Leaving the dangerous mirror with Valthrun, the party finishes their business in town and departs for the Keep. At the gate is a small throng of villagers who cheer the party as the “Heroes of Winterhaven”.

The road to the Keep is rough going, as it is overgrown from disuse. Once the party reaches the Keep, it becomes unnaturally quiet, as if the birds and animals of the woods are scared of the ruins. Someone has obviously cleared a path to the stairs to enter the dungeon beneath the Keep.

At the bottom of the stairs, the party is confronted by a single Goblin Warrior. This looks to be an easy fight.

Except suddenly Quinn turns and, yelling “Kalarel”, attacks Magnus. Could this be the spy? Now, beset by a group of Goblins, some with some rather deadly crossbows, as well as a traitorous Warden (or is he?) the party is hard-pressed. Recognizing Quinn as the greater threat, the party concentrates on him and brings him down quickly, but at a price.

Unfortunately, one of the Goblins is able to get away and bring back reinforcements. Still, the party is able to prevail.

After a short rest, screams in the distance prompt the party to investigate. They find a torture chamber with a Hobgoblin torturer and some other Goblins. The party is holding their own when suddenly one of the Goblin Sharpshooters is brutally slain by an unseen opponent. This stranger then joins the fight and he and the party make short work of the rest of their enemies.

The stranger turns out to be Gideon, an Eladrin Ranger known to Magnus. Gideon is hunting Bloodreaver Orcs for destroying his home, the same tribe of Orcs that destroyed Magnus’ village. He was captured by the goblins and brought here, tortured, and likely would have been sold into slavery. He was able to hide a makeshift lockpick and, when he heard the battle joined in the next room, escaped and joined in.

In another cell is Splug, a goblin apparently being punished for stealing from his companions. In exchange for his life, he leads the party to the secret door that leads to Balgron the Fat’s chamber.

Quiet as cats, Gideon and Gyani sneak up to where Balgron is sound asleep. He has no chance as Gideon impales him on both his swords. Balgron’s guards, caught unaware, have no chance. The party sets up an ambush and makes quick work of the guards. No fewer than five are caught in Uriondir’s Cloud of Daggers.

With all the goblins (apparently) slain, the party sets up for an Extended Rest in the very defensible Goblin Chieftain’s lair. The rest of the dungeon awaits!

View
On to Shadowfell Keep
Many people, including Gyani and Thorgrim, just don't seem themselves

The party is able to escort Douven Stahl back to Winterhaven. Once there, Douven parts company with…the company, to rest in a real bed and, presumably, arrange transportation back to Fallcrest and his wife.

In Winterhaven, however, everyone is acting strangely. People are actively avoiding the party and previously friendly individuals are out of sorts and even a little hostile. When asked, no one can really put a finger on what it is that’s bothering them.

The party speaks to Valthrun the Prescient, who has no further insight into everyone’s mood. However, he does tell the story of Shadowfell Keep and its purpose in guarding the sealed rift to the Shadowfell. He also tells the sad story of Sir Keegan, who was in charge of the keep until going mad and killing his family, friends, and many of his soldiers before he was brought down.

They also speak to Lord Padraig, who pays them 100 gold pieces for their work in removing the kobold threat. The party apprises Lord Padraig of other information they’ve discovered, including the existence of a spy in Winterhaven.

They are interrupted, however, by an injured man-at-arms who tells of an ambush by kobolds of some merchant carts en route to Winterhaven. Our heroes quickly depart to affect a rescue. Moving carefully along the moonlit road, the party discovers the aforementioned kobolds hiding behind the overturned wagons. A battle is joined, and the would-be ambushers are defeated. One is kept alive and questioned.

The party learns that this was a group sent out by Irontooth to find the party, apparently before Irontooth met with his untimely end. There is no sign of the merchants or their guards, and the prisoner indicates they’ve been sold to a group of hobgoblin slavers. The party returns to Winterhaven with their prisoner.

Leaving first thing in the morning, the party returns to the scene of the ambush and follows the trail north. It doesn’t take long before the party catches up to the hobgoblins. A battle ensues in which Quinn finds himself beset about on all sides. The party ultimately prevails and escorts the two merchants and their two guards back to Winterhaven.

After another rest in Wrafton’s Inn, the party is ready to go explore the mysterious Shadowfell Keep.

View
Entering the Kobold Lair
A fifth member joins the group

After defeating the kobold ambush en route to finding the kobold lair, our intrepid adventurers camped for the night. Scarcely an hour into the first watch, Magnus heard the distinctive sounds of battle nearby. He woke the others and Gyani went ahead to scout it out.

In a clearing in the wood, a human was barely holding his own against a group of kobolds. Two kobolds were already dead, but four others surrounded him and he was already bloodied. Already sick of kobolds and their evil ways, the party attacked. Quick work was made of the kobolds and the human, named Quinn, joined the party in their camp.

The rest of the night passed without incident. The next day, our heroes, joined by Quinn, a Warder, happens upon a group of kobolds near a waterfall. This idyllic scene soon turns into one of carnage as the adventurers kill kobold after kobold. One kobold, seeing the fight is going very poorly, shouts “Irontooth must be warned!” and runs through the waterfall. Thorgrim isn’t able to stop him, but Gyani gives chase.

Behind the waterfall is the kobold lair, and six kobolds, just warned by their compatriot from outside, throw their javelins at Gyani. Miraculously, none strike home. Gyani beats a hasty retreat. The rest of the kobolds outside are soon defeated.

The party waits for the kobolds to emerge, but they stay put. After waiting five minutes, our heroes move to enter the lair through the waterfall. They are confronted by a bunch of minions, some skirmishers, and the slinger that had retreated earlier. The fight goes well for the first three minutes, until a trumpet heralds the arrival of Irontooth.

Magnus goes down to a Denwarden’s javelin, but Uriondir is able to apply some first aid to Magnus to keep him out of danger. Quinn, however, takes the form of Winter’s Herald and slows Irontooth down. Combined with Uriondir’s earlier sleep spell, Irontooth is held at bay until virtually all of the kobolds are already dead. Able to concentrate on this single threat, Irontooth does not last long.

The encounter is fruitful for the party. Irontooth has been found and defeated, some new clues are found and a significant cache of gold coins. Additionally, Thorgrim earned a suit of magical Dwarven chainmail. A message is found:

My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. It probably doesn’t matter. In a few more days, I’ll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven’s people will serve as food for those Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.

It is signed by “Kalarel”.

After camping in the now cleared kobold lair, the party heads west to look for the missing Douven Stahl. They come upon the excavation site and a bunch of humanoids working it. A gnome tries to convince the party he is an associate of Stahl’s, but he fools no one (except for Quinn). An apparition watching over the site commands “kill them”.

This fight is significantly easier than the previous one, even though the apparition keeps raising the fallen humans as zombies and the gnome seems to blink in and out of existence. The party again prevails, captures the treasure (an ancient mirror), and frees Douven Stahl, who gifts them with an Amulet of Health.

The party heads back to Winterhaven, escorting the weakened but grateful Douven Stahl.

View
Journey to Winterhaven
More kobolds?

The adventurers head out on the old King’s Road to the northwest. Four days pass relatively uneventfully. On the fifth, close to Winterhaven, the party is attacked by a group of kobolds which are easily dispatched.

Less than a day later they arrive at the gate to Winterhaven, a small walled village surrounded by farms. The village and its surrounding area has less than 1,000 residents, primarily human with a few dwarven families. The vast majority of them are farmers.

Directed by the guards to Wrafton’s Inn, the only lodging in town. The inn is large and used to hosting traveling merchants. The taproom is busy every night with travelers as well as locals. They meet a few people and gather information.

  • Salvana Wrafton – the proprietess of Wrafton’s Inn. Friendly and welcoming.
  • Eilian the Old – local farmer and regular customer. Fancies himself a bit of a historian. Gave the adventurers directions the site Douven Stahl apparently went to. Slightly confused and/or senile.
  • Lord Padraig – the Lord of the village is a fairly regular customer at Wrafton’s and is very approachable. Upon learning that our heroes are, in fact, adventurers, offers them a commission to rid the area of the kobolds which have been plaguing the area lately.
  • Ninaran – a quiet elf hunter who usually drinks alone. She very emphatically rebuffed Uriondir’s attempts at conversation

The adventurers did not spend much time in town, but instead quickly set out to find the kobold lair which is supposedly in the southeast.

Before they got very far, they were ambushed by another group of kobolds, apparently looking for revenge for their fellows. This group is also similarly dispatched fairly quickly.

The group decided to make camp before moving on.

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.