Forth!

Hall of the Crimson Whip
Don't fall in the blood!

There has been much chaos in the membership of the Heroes of Winterhaven. Reed and Thalia were both missing this day, the former off on some errand for the Matron of the Halfmoon family, the latter to places and purposes unknown.

Magnus, however, was back from whatever mysterious errand he needed to run. The others, Omac, Leroy, and Uriondir were somewhat the worse for wear for their time trapped in the Oubliette. Uriondir more than most, as he has taken to calling himself “Lightning L’Apple”.

A mysterious figure was sitting in the taproom at the Halfmoon Inn. Our heroes discovered this personage was a kindred spirit, looking for a group to adventure with. The Drow Elf Seeker, Faeremma, joined the group as they headed back to the Well of Demons to save the last of the Riverdown captives and to stop whatever nefarious plot the Gnolls were up to.

The party returned to where they met the restless spirits. The spirits did not return, but our heroes explored more of the area the spirits had indicated were the “Proving Grounds”. The several rooms that make up the Proving Grounds were found to be eerily quiet and, except for some altars and some disconcerting markings on the floor, were empty. A mysterious, magical locked door portends some future evil, but as they couldn’t readily find a way to get it open, the party moved on.

The party soon found themselves in the Hall of the Crimson Whip. Two large pools of blood separated them from the two parts of the dagger they needed, but two large, menacing statues kept watch. “L’Apple” attempted to jump across, but when he discovered he was about to fall in the blood, he used his Fey Step power to reach the walkway in the middle of the room.

The minotaur statues came to life at this point, cracking their scourges and causing people to be knocked into the poisonous blood. Faeremma, especially, seemed to spend more time in the blood than out. To make matters worse, the blood was hiding three carnage demons, Evistro, and they arose from the blood on several occasions to attack people on the walkway.

Omac quickly disabled the first statue while most of the party got to the middle walkway to join Uriondir. It took our heroes a long time to defeat the demons, but defeat them they did. Then, staying out of range of the second statue’s whip, they were able to destroy it with only Omac getting in harm’s way.

But there was still the tricky business of getting the hilt and blade of the dagger, each on their own separate pedestals. Finally, using an ingenious combination of Omac’s athletic prowess and Uriondir’s disembodied frozen fist created by Bigby’s Icy Grasp, Omac was able to get the parts of the dagger.

Unfortunately, touching the dagger triggered another hazard of the room, namely the blood started flowing away from the doors. Again, using Bigby’s Icy Grasp in a way its inventor never intended, each of the rest of the party were able to be transported back to the doors, with Uriondir using a more conventional “jump and teleport” method.

Which is where our heroes await the next chapter…

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Mirror mirror on the....oh crap we all died

This adventure opens with the the party once again in the Seven Pillared Halls and once again with a few new faces:

Alek and Thalia have been subjected to a horrible and disgusting magical accident in which they combined into one and henceforth known only a Thalia and all such history being lost in the threads of time. Thalia introduced herself telling everyone her deep secret that she was in fact possessed by a powerful and angry primordial spirit. The party for some reason decided to accept such an insane and possibly dangerous member into the group perhaps simply due to their desperate need for people who are willing to stand up front and have large evil creatures swing away at them.

Aidan took his leave from the party to return to his pious studies at a place he heard was perfect for this study, and thus he set off in search of castle Anthrax. In Aidan’s place appeared Leroy the journeyman bard, seeking to create new and heroic stories to further his bardic education apparently seeking truth in his story telling instead of the more wise path of simply making up good stories from the comfort of the inn.

Another new face appeared before the party asking for membership. Reed the rogue, apparently on the lam seeking to distance himself from his many debts asked to be added to the group. Once again the party to decided it couldn’t hurt to have another halfling rogue in the group…perhaps hoping to keep him around in case any more halfling loving grells show up.

Quickly the party set out to….wonder about the city and talk to various people about what, they weren’t quite certain. Eventually they ended up in Brug the ogre’s tavern talking to him and various unsavory patrons. After a bit of time chatting various patrons they learned that they needed to head to the well of Demons! It was then they remembered….they had just come from the well of Demons and they had planned to go back, so they set of to return to the halls immediately!

Upon entering the Well of Demons they found that surprisingly none of their slain enemies had been moved in the time they had been gone perhaps they to were spending time in the Seven Pillared Halls. Starting off searching the parts of the dungeon they had not yet searched they quickly found a lively fight in the form of Gnoll priestess and a demon. The valiant heroes slayed the evil creatures with some ease and found themselves facing a pair of tieflings asking to make a deal. After some discussions the party sent the pair on their way and set about searching their newly secured dungeon hall. The quickly found a tome upon a newly destroyed alter (Thalia’s work) and took it with them hoping it would prove to be more than a tawdry romance novel.

Searching the dungeon further the party ran into a a trio of ghosts who asked the party to prove their worth before them. After a bit of fumbling about a the party eventual convinced the ghosts that they could be trusted and the ghosts imparted their knowledge of the dungeon that lay before them before disappearing and leaving the party to do their best.

After a bit more fumbling about the party found themselves in a hall of mirrors. The party not sure how to process followed their normal course and set about charging forward and smashing mirrors as best they could…unfortunately it would seem that the mirrors could fight back and the party quickly found themselves stuck in an inescapable oubliette. This not before giving Uriondir a chance to singe some halfling. The party stuck within this oubliette found that they had no chance of leaving and facing a horrible death stuck there for the remainder of their lives quickly went insane. Uriondir changed his name to Lightning’L’Apple….or something like that, Thali started eating raw gnoll, and various other shenanigans occurred which the party agreed to never speak. Doom then fell upon them all.

A god looking upon this situation decided that this just wouldn’t do and sent them help in the form of a group of gnolls who set them free…..for what reason we will never know as they were quickly cut down and the party set forth back into the dungeon secure in the fact that they were invincible or at least terribly lucky.

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Horned Hold - Conclusion

Murkelmor’s Chamber

After defeating the enemies and freeing the prisoners (two of which turned out to be missing that the group was seeking) the group pressed on. Upon entering the next chamber they were confronted with two choices, left and right. After some discussion the party decided left. Omac and Magnus first listen at the door before entering. The party does not surprise the people inside but do seem to walk in on a heated discussion between Murkelmor and his wizard. Battle ensues with the party taking out the guards and caster but Murkelmor escapes through the fireplace in his chamber. The party hearing screams of fright from the prisoners give chase; even landing a few passing blows but not enough to stop Murkelmor before run down the corridors beyond.

The party decides not to give chase abandoning the prisoners they had just freed. After doing a quick search of Murkelmor’s chamber turns up little. Before the party can decide what to do next the door opens with a loud voice crying out in outrage!

South Gate

The party, some of whom are still with the prisoners run back and Uriondir starts things off with a well-placed sleep spell! Omac and Aidan are able to corner the Ogre into the fireplace while Magnus and Uriondir take down the rest of the enemies. During the fight the sounds of someone coming down the hallways just beyond the chamber at heard.

Western Guard Gate

The party array themselves out of site, beyond cover or poised by the door ready to strike! Duergar burst through the door and the battle is once again joined. Things are going okay until Murkelmor and his wizard join the battle. Omac, trying some fancy moves, takes the brunt of Murkelmor’s wrath and goes down. Things are not looking good with all healing powers used and more enemies still standing than there should be until Gideon wades into the room. Cutting into Murkelmor with repeated vicious blows the party is finally able to prevail and even take Murkelmor’s wizard as a captive.

After an extended rest in which Omac recuperates the party question the captive and persuade them to help lead the party along with the freed prisoners back to the Seven Pillared Hall.

Pack Attack

After letting the captive wizard go once confident they can make the rest of the journey to the Seven Pillared Hall unaided the party is set upon by a pack of jackals. These prove to be no match for the fully-rested party and they are able to safely escort the prisoners to the Hall where they make arrangements to have them taken care of and sent back to their home. They are also able to complete their quest to recover the skull sceptre for Gendar in exchange for their reward.

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The Horned Hold, Part II
Wight Power!

After a restless night spent in the larder, the party sets out to explore the rest of the fortress. Carefully making their way past the now empty dining hall, they look out onto the expansive bridge that spans the chasm. The bridge is wide and devoid of cover, and the far end is overlooked by several guard windows and arrow slits. A hushed discussion ensues…

And the party decides to investigate the other bridge. This bridge is also devoid of cover but is much more narrow. Omac slips silently across the bridge and picks the lock of door on the other side. Then at a signal from Omac, the rest of the party makes their way across the bridge as quietly as possible, followed nervously by the slaves from the dining hall.

Inside the door, the party finds a ruined vestibule. It is apparent that this portion of the fortress is not kept up as well as the rest. Confronted by three doors, the party chooses to investigate a set of double-doors on the southern wall. The doors lead to an external walkway and up to another set of doors, which the party carefully enters to find the ruins of what is apparently an ancient temple of some kind. The temple is littered with rubble, strewn with corpses and dominated by a large but broken statue. It is also completely and unremittingly dark. The characters make their way gingerly inside and Aidan, the Paladin, makes his way to the far side of the room to investigate one of the corpses.

But before Aidan reaches the corpse it rises from the ground and attacks. At the same time, four other corpses haul themselves up from the floor to assail the party. Aidan, separated from the group, is quickly surrounded as Omac, Magnus and Uriondir try to assume a defensive formation. Magnus freezes several of the animated corpses in their tracks with turn undead while Uriondir lets loose with a barrage of magic missiles. Omac begins to rain a hail of blows upon the nearest one. The slaves cower in the rubble behind Uriondir as the battle ensues.

The party quickly realizes that the creatures are wights, and as the fighting wears on Aidan, surrounded by several, begins to find his life force begin to drain away with each successive injury. Little by little the party cuts into the nest of wights, eventually killing one then two and finally down to the last. Searching the room reveals nothing, but the fighting has taken its toll as Aidan is completely drained of his remaining vitality and so the party nervously decides to set a guard and take an extended rest in the ruined temple.

The refreshed party sets out again through the far door of the temple. This door is rusty and stuck tight and despite their recent rest, it takes three or for tries to batter open the door. But finally through the combined efforts of Aidan and Magnus, the door swings wide to reveal a darkened stone corridor. A bit of exploration reveals the area to be a burial ground for the minotaurs who built this place many eons ago. A door to the south leads to a long and narrow staircase which the party cautiously descends.

Bursting through the door at the bottom the party startles a group of duergar attended by two spined devils. Lacking any significant ranged firepower, the party enters the large room and begins to skirt a nearby pool of water to close the distance. The devils take up positions opposite the pool and begin flinging spines at the characters. Meanwhile the duergar guards approach and the mage hurls a sulfurous enchantment at Aidan, blinding him temporarily.

Shortly after the battle begins, Uriondir catches most of the assailants with a well-placed sleep spell just as Omac reaches the approaching duergar guards and knocks one into the pool of water. Recovering from his blindness, Aidan makes for the duergar mage as Omac knocks the second guard into a nearby pit that turns out to be filled with manacled slaves. Meanwhile Magnus approaches the devils as Uriondir trains his magic missiles on them.

The mage succumbs to Uriondir’s sleep spell and Aidan has time to get in several coup-de-grace attacks while the caster is helpless. The first of the duergar guards goes quickly from swimming to drowning as he too falls asleep while the other guard resists the spell and begins climbing up out of the pit. Meanwhile Magnus has reached the devils and raises his holy symbol, using channel divinity to turn the devils back briefly.

The drowning guard recovers and begins trying to climb the slick walls of the water-filled pit. The second guard reaches the top of his ladder only to be struck and knocked back down into the pit by Omac who is waiting for him. After numerous falls, the guard begins to use ranged attacks from within the pit, and Omac circles to the other side to help Aidan finish off the mage. While Magnus and Uriondir keep the recovered devils busy, Aiden and Omac finish off both duergar guards. Then finally the entire party is able to focus their efforts on finishing off the devils.

When the dust settles, the party frees another 11 slaves and discover that this group is indeed comprised of individuals from Riverdown, though Samosh (whom they are seeking in particular) is not among them. Tending to their wounds, the party settles in to discuss what they will do next…

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The Horned Hold, Part I
Magnus likes to finish them off

(Uriondir was unusually quiet.)

The party, fully rested from their previous travails, share an ale or three with Rendil Halfmoon. Rendil offers some more information about the slavers and the Duergar. After breakfast, the party decides to split up to follow a few leads. Magnus and Aidan went to visit Gendar. The drow had suggested earlier that he had a job for our heroes, and offers information and a guide to the Horned Hold if the party will return to him some stolen property in the form of a skull scepter. Magnus and Aidan tentatively agree.

Meanwhile, Gideon and Omac use their skill at stealth to reconnoiter the Duergar trading post. Unfortunately, they see nothing unusual and report back to the others. The entire party then visits the trading post to glean what they can, which is not much. The Duergar are suspicious of surface-dwellers and, after a brief and fairly fruitless exchange, the party leaves. Aidan stops to buy a few throwing hammers from Dreskin the Provisioner, a wheedling little man who would sell his grandmother if he saw profit in it.

Provisioned and with few other leads, the party meats up with their guide at the entrance of the Road of Shadows. He is a hooded goblinoid who does not speak much. The path to the Horned Hold is not marked, but after a few hours the guide shows them a side tunnel that he says leads them to their destination. He then withdraws into the shadows.

The party carefully makes their way through the tunnel until it opens into a larger chamber, showing the Hold is several structures on both sides of a wide, deep chasm. The only way in is a single locked gate guarded by several Orcs, who spot our heroes and take a few potshots at them. Out of options, the party rushes the door. Crossbow bolts and spearheads come out, arrows from Gideon’s bow head in. Omac quickly picks the lock, however, and the party rushes in. It’s not really a fair fight and, except for one of Aidan’s newly-purchased hammers shattering on contact, the Orc berserkers never really had a chance.

Beyond the doors is obviously some sort of smithy or workshop. After exploring some of the other adjoining rooms and finding neither enemies or slaves, the party rushes in. They surprise the creatures within and kill the smith before he can even raise his hammer. His two orc workers are quickly dispatched but two duergar scouts are able to turn invisible and escape the party. In one of the adjoining rooms the party finds the skull scepter that Gundar wished retrieved.

Opting not to cross the bridge over the chasm to the other part of the hold, the party decides to pursue the escaped scouts. The corridor leads them to a large room where the duergar were waiting to attack. Battle ensued, and our heroes out-thought and out-fought their opponents.

After the battle they were able to free three thralls-Arum, Bessa, and Calder-who are from Fallcrest. They were very grateful to be freed but do not want to risk the labyrinth alone. Unfortunately, they are not the Riverdown captives, but Arum knows of some new slaves on the other side of the hold. So the party found a seldom-used storeroom to hole up. After they rest they intend to clear out the rest of the hold.

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To the Chamber of Eyes
Big die for the big guy

(Magnus was very quiet. So was Uriondir, at first.)

The wandering undead were easily dispatched and did not dissuade our adventures from continuing. Very quickly they found the Narthex for the Chamber of Eyes. Hearing voices beyond the double doors, the party climbed up the wall to the balcony overlooking the room and snuck through the back door. In this way they were able to surprise a bugbear and four goblin guards. Moving quickly, they dispatched the bugbear quickly. Seeing their sergeant fall, and so quickly, the rest of the goblins bolted further into the abandoned temple, apparently to get help.

Expecting reinforcements any minute, the party rushed through a door across the hall. There they found a mysterious pool. After waiting for reinforcement that never came, our heroes delved further in, away from the directions the guards had run. In so doing, they surprised a group of hobgoblins, goblins, and humans drinking and gambling raucously. Again, the adventurers acted with deadly efficiency as they killed the hobgoblins and goblins. One of the human bandits was able to escape, but the other was captured.

Their prisoner was cooperative but didn’t know very much. He told them what he knew and the party reluctantly released him. But he did confirm that these guys were the slavers the party was looking for.

Heading back to the other part of the dungeon, the party entered what apparently used to be a shrine to some toad god, but was now being used as a holding pen for slaves. No slaves were in evidence now, but a dire wolf, two hobgoblin archers and a goblin guard were waiting for them. At its first opportunity the goblin ran out of the room, apparently to get reinforcements. This was borne out when Krand, the chief, entered the room a few minutes later through a secret door. He was followed soon after by a hobgoblin Warcaster who came through another door, then two duergar and the four guard from the initial encounter entered through the doors behind the party.

It was a long battle, but the party was never in much danger. Uriondir was trapped by two opponents for a time, until he remembered his Fey Step ability. Omac came dangerously close to death, but Aidan used healing magic and the monk immediately rejoined the fight.

After defeating the entire crew of Bloodreavers in the Chamber of Eyes, our heroes found a letter which was a contract to purchase the Riverdown slaves for 1,000 gold pieces. It is signed by Murkelmor Grimmerzhul, dated two days prior. With that, the party returned to the Seven-Pillared Hall to gather more information.

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Into Thunderspire Labyrinth
Who's the new guy?

In Riverdown, a small village in the Harkenwold, five villagers relax after a long day of slaughtering animals and smoking meat in preparation for the long winter ahead. The sun has set, and a cold wind blows in from the north. The men’s conversation is interrupted by a commotion outside. There is the smell of smoke and a child’s scream, along with shouting and and the sound of something…inhuman.

Rushing outside, the men are confronted by a band hyena-like humanoids who communicate in bark/laugh yelps. They are burning homes and stealing villagers. Those that cannot be subdued are killed, brutally. Grabbing their butchering implements, the men attempt to mount a defense and protect their neighbors. They fight valiantly but, eventually, they are overwhelmed and taken or killed. The village of Riverdown is no more.

Some time later, Uriondir and Gideon are perusing the wares in Naerumar’s Imports. Orest Naerumar himself approaches Uriondir to ask a favor. A merchant by the name of Gendar in a place called the [[Seven-Pillared Hall]] has an item that Naerumar needs for a client. Unfortunately, Naerumar cannot travel to the Seven-Pillared Hall himself to complete the transaction with Gendar nor can he trust any of his employees with the task. Would Uriondir take care of this for Naerumar? It would need to be done discreetly and, of course, Naerumar would pay a small fee in appreciation. Uriondir tentatively agrees and goes to discuss with the rest of his companions.

Meanwhile, Magnus has returned and has met Aidan, who introduces himself and delivers the letter he has been carrying for Magnus. The letter from Sister Linora is full of portent: Slavers from the Bloodreaver clan have taken a dozen villagers from Riverdown, one of the villages of the Harkenwold. This is doubly troubling for Magnus, since he was living in a different village of the Harkenwold when it was similarly attacked, but he was away at the time.

It is at this point that Uriondir and Gideon return. After greeting Magnus, they explain the offer by Naerumar. Magnus tells them about the contents of the letter and introduces Omac, a monk from parts unknown. The story of why Omac is traveling with Magnus is a bit of a mystery.

Shortly after, a wounded human rushes through the front door. Grievously wounded, he proclaims that he is searching for the “Heroes of Winterhaven”. Magnus hurries to his aid. This is Haldir, the same tracker Sister Linora mentioned in her letter. He confirms the information in the letter. He was able to track the Bloodreavers to the entrance to Thunderspire, but they ambushed him and he barely escaped.

The next day the party sets out, with Haldir leading the way to the entrance to Thunderspire. Unwilling to go further, Haldir opts to stay with one of the local shepherds while our heroes enter the Labyrinth. There are many branching tunnels, but the path is clear. After a short time, they discover a group of hobgoblins threatening a halfling. The party intervenes and makes quick work of the hobgoblins. The halfling is Rendil Halfmoon, and he is quite grateful to be saved. He offers to take the adventurers to his family’s Inn. He also provides some information about the Bloodreavers.

Uriondir is able to complete the transaction with Gendar without incident. Additionally, Gendar suggests to Uriondir that he return tomorrow, as he might have “something” for a group of adventurers. The party also talks to Ulthand Deepgem, whose pet boar has gone missing, while the dwarves she was with were slaughtered.

In the morning, there is no sign of Gendar, so the party departs through the Dragon Door toward the Chamber of Eyes, where the Bloodreavers are known to keep their headquarters.

Along the way, our party meets up with a group of undead, who attack immediately. They are quickly dispatched, however.

But what awaits our heroes in the mysterious Chamber of Eyes?

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The Wizard's Errand
Can anyone speak draconic?

It is now Fall. Magnus is still away on his mission and Gyani is still dead. Uriondir and Gideon wile away their time honoring their fallen comrade and regaling the locals with stories of their deeds. The crowds have been thinning lately, as the stories are starting to get stale.

Uriondir and Gideon are, as usual, hoisting ale in the taproom of the Nentir Inn when in walks a shiny, regal paladin. He makes a bee-line for the Heroes of Winterhaven and identifies himself as Aidan. It turns out that not only has Aidan been searching for them in general, but also has a message for Magnus. Before they can get deep into Aidan’s background, Tobolar Quickfoot, the halfling apprentice of Nimozaran the Green, High Septarch of Fallcrest and leader of the Wizards’ Guild approaches them. His master desires their presence for a “matter of great import”. The party reluctantly agrees and Tobolar leads them to the Septarch’s tower.

Nimozaran is old, wrinkled, and easily distracted. He is in the middle of some magical research or other, but eventually gets around to what he wants them for: to retrieve a book another wizard borrowed and hasn’t bothered to return. He offers to teach two rituals and 500 gold pieces on the return of his book. He also gives a scroll with the Linked Portal ritual which is connected to the teleportation circle in the top of the Septarch’s tower. He then teleports the party, including Aidan, to Rayaleos’ tower.

It’s in the middle of a swamp. The water has reached the ground floor of the tower, and a large piece of wall is missing about thirty feet up. Our heroes enter the tower. Just inside the doorway they are attacked by three visejaw crocodiles. Aidan and Uriondir are grabbed, but Uriondir is able to Fey Step away to the stairs. A pitched battle follows, but our heroes are able to prevail. Afterwards, they find the remains of what must be some prior messengers, along with some gold, potions of healing, and Bracers of Defense.

Heading upstairs, they find a dark room full of spider webs. With Aidan’s shield and an everburning torch, they’re able to defeat the darkness, but they are attacked by a bloodweb spider swarm. To make matters worse, there is a trap in this room that cause razor-sharp blades to swing down from the ceiling in a random pattern. The spiders prove hard to kill, and Aidan must use all of his healing powers to keep himself alive. Eventually the spiders are vanquished. Nimbly avoiding the scythe blades, the party recovers more treasure, including a Diadem of Acuity.

Moving up to the third floor, our heroes are confronted by…nothing. There is a large hole in the wall to the outside, and they discover a chest with a good amount of money in it, but that’s all.

After a few minutes they head of to the fourth level of the tower. There are no more stairs up, but there are bookshelves and a body slumped over a desk. The book he is slumped over is the same one they were sent to retrieve. The body remains dead—eliciting no small relief considering how many undead our heroes have been fighting. A ritual book with some more rituals is found among the rotting tomes.

Recalling Nimozaran’s admonition to make sure there was enough room for the Portal, they head down to the larger third level. No sooner do they get there than a young black dragon flies in through the opening. She screams something in draconic and attacks.

It is a rough fight, and the dragon’s Cloud of Darkness makes things difficult, but all in all the party had a rougher time with the spider swarm. With the dragon vanquished, the party takes some trophies (scales, horn, teeth) and uses the scroll to teleport back to Nimozaran’s tower. Grateful to have his book back, he pays the party and sends them on their way.

Now, what is this message that Aidan has for Magnus?

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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.

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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.

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