Ascendants Rising - A Forgotten Realms Campaign

27 Mirtul, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Tavern

Your party met at The Gilded Lady, an inn outside Highmoon, the capitol of Deepingdale.

Hova and Neijer arrived together (their backstory as yet unknown). INSERT HOVA AND NEIJER'S DESCRIPTIONS HERE

Tohnii the Bard had arrived some days earlier, and had been working the inn for coin since then (after negotiating a small cut for the owner of course).

Soon after Hova and Neijer’s arrival, an unarmed traveler came to the inn. The traveler had no more than sat down, when a group of mercenary thugs burst into the inn and immediately set upon him. They were clearly looking for him. You stopped them before they hurt him. In fact, you felt certain they meant to drag him out of the inn and kill him!

You immediately jumped to the man’s rescue. Things very quickly turned violent, and the whole encounter ended with all but one of the thugs dead or dying. While the three of you sustained some injuries during the fight, you came through it surprisingly well considering it was 3 vs 7.

The Highmoon City Guard showed up (too late to help, of course), and after some fast talking (and some nice Diplomacy rolls from the Tohnii) the party was able to convince them that the thugs were almost certainly going to kill the traveler had the group not heroically rushed to the poor mans rescue. Not only did the Highmoon Guard buy Tonii’s story (the fact that it was true rarely has anything to do with the Guard buying your story or not), they hauled off the lone surviving thug to the Tower of the Rising Moon, with promises to see him brought before the magistrate and tried for banditry and attempted murder. They took your statements and that of the innkeeper, gave you a somewhat brisk warning to avoid any further bloodshed while in Highmoon, and went on their way.

The traveller’s name was Gevarn, a man from a small village called Winterhaven. He was on his way to Highmoon in hopes of finding brave men to come to the aid of his village. He told you the village priestess of Chauntea, Sister Linora, sent him. She has been having visions sent to her by her god. Visions that foretold of a doom upon Winterhaven.

While Gevarn certainly believed Sister Linora’s prophecies to be true, the group was skeptical. Wether she was having “visions sent from her goddess” had yet to be seen (she could just be some backwater acolyte that’s been hittin’ the magic mushrooms a little hard, who knows). Gevarn couldn’t be too specific, but Sister Linora told him that her visions were of Shar, evil goddess of the Night. Sister Linora felt certain that Shar’s influence was spreading, and that it would blanket Winterhaven in eternal night if it wasn’t stopped.

When we wrapped up, you agreed to accompany Gevarn. If needed; to render what aid you could to the people of Winterhaven. Gevarn couldn’t exactly promise a reward, other than the people of Winterhaven’s gratitude, but he suggested you could talk to the lord of the town: Lord Padraig.

View
2 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Kobolds

While approaching Winterhaven, the party was ambushed by a group of kobolds!

The attack by the kobolds was presumably just simple banditry. After all; they did ambush you on the road and this would certainly be somewhat typical behavior from kobolds, if not a little bold. But then again; you can’t help but wonder at Gevarn’s statement that the kobolds have become increasingly aggressive in recent months.

Winterhaven turned out to be little a village of maybe twenty some odd buildings, surrounded by walls of weathered stone, with many outlying farms in this valley, nestled between the Thunder Peaks to the west and a forest called the Semberholme to the east. Since Winterhaven lies at the foot of the Thunder Peaks, terrain in the area is typically rolling hills with increasingly heavy forest the further north and east you get (deeper into Semberholme). South and east it’s more hills and forest, but it can open up to wide grassy vales and flatland here and there.

When you arrived in town, you immediately set about selling the gear you’d salvaged from the mercenaries back in Highmoon, and the kobolds you slew on the road. You spoke to the town smith, who was a good natured dwarf named Thair Coalstriker. He offered you a semi-decent price for what you’d salvaged and by way of thanking you for your business, he offered to buy you all an ale at the local inn that night. He seemed happy that you came to him first, instead of the competition across the street.

Wrafton’s Inn is owned and run by a middle-aged (human) woman named Salvana Wrafton. A friendly woman, quick with a smile, Salvana seemed very approachable. In fact, Tohnii the Bard managed to talk Salvana into shaving a silver off the price of your rooms a little something for services rendered. Normally a innkeeper might hire a Bard for a fee, but that would typically imply more of a contractual thing (ie hiring a band) or make some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement to keep the Bard in house. Tohni agreed to give Salvana 10% of her tips, in exchange for free drinks (for herself only!) and the lowered price on the rooms.

When we left off, you got your gear stowed away in your rooms (I’m going to assume you’re only carrying your weapons and what would typically be found in your belt pouches while in town) and were about to head back down to the main room of the inn where you hoped to take up Thair on his offer of a drink.

Divider

View
7 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Ninaran, the elven Ranger that sent you to the Kobold Lair, was clearly lying about there not being any kobolds at this “abandoned” lair. And there weren’t any cultists. Not only was there kobolds there, they were there in force and pretty much out in the open. So why did she lie about this? Why did she send you out there? Send you into the clutches of no less than twenty kobolds? She had to have known they were there.

The kobolds were under the command of a hobgoblin named Irontooth. In the aftermath, you found a message on Irontooth that read:

Irontooth s message scroll

You were beginning to doubt Sister Linora’s sanity, but this message seems to actually give some credence to her visions. Maybe. There still alot of unanswered questions here. Who is the spy the message speaks of? Was it Ninaran? Now that you think back, you realize that while you were asking her questions at the inn back in Winterhaven, she was asking you quite a few as well. Questions about who you were, why you were in Winterhaven, even questions about how many of you there were. And what is Shadraxil? And who or what is Kalarel? The part where he mentions opening a rift can’t be good.

You have no idea if anybody in Winterhaven is a cultist, or even if there is a cult in Winterhaven. The villagers you talked to don’t seem to think there is. But several of them reported a rising kobold threat. That certainly turned out to be true. The note you found on Irontooth now seems to suggest a connection between the kobolds, Shar, this Kalarel, and something called Shadraxil. It’s starting to sound like Sister Linora was right: a great evil is at work here, and it might be bigger than you imagined.

You’re headed back to Winterhaven with a wagon full of kobold gear, a bag full of ears (gross!), and alot of questions. You need answers. Is there somebody you’ve spoken to in Winterhaven that could help? Is there somebody you haven’t spoken to you that could help?

Divider

View
9 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

You had returned to Winterhaven after rooting out an infestation of kobolds, though you’d been sent there under false pretenses by the elf woman; Ninaran. When you got back to town, you met with the dwarven smith Thair Coalstriker. You mentioned Ninaran to him, and he exclaimed that he’d just seen her before your arrival. She had walked past his smithy in a hurry to get somewhere. He noted she’d left through the main gate just before your arrival.

You questioned Thair once again, and asked him a bit more about his mercantile competition across the street: Bairwin Wildarson. Thair told you that:

  • Bairwin had arrived six months earlier, and when he did, he had little in the way of wares to sell. While he (Bairwin) did setup shop in Winterhaven, he actually was purchasing most of his inventory from Thair.
  • Three months back, Bairwin was suddenly flush. Not only did he stop buying from Thair, but his inventory increased far far beyond what he’d previously had, far beyond even what Thair has. On top of that, he began aggressively undercutting Thair’s prices. Considering Thair had (in his mind) been kind enough to help Bairwin get started in the first place, he now dislikes Bairwin intensely, and doesn’t trust him.
  • You recall that Bairwin had claimed he’d simply found new suppliers, that Thair is jealous of his success, and that it was just business. Even though you have no evidence that implicates Bairwin in any wrong doing, you’ve taken Thair’s side. Following Thair’s lead, you do not trust Bairwin and continue to investigate.

The next morning, while breaking your fast in Wrafton’s, you were approached by Lord Padraig and the resident of the strange tower in Winterhaven; Valthrun the Sage. The Watch or some of Winterhaven’s citizenry must have reported to Lord Padraig of your return to town with a wagon load of gore splatter kobold gear, as he came to you inquiring as to what had happened to you in the wilds.

You began to explain to Lord Padraig all you had seen at the Kobold Lair when you realized that you had drawn quite a bit of attention. Word had undoubtedly traveled throughout the small community. Word of the adventurers who left town one morning with an empty wagon, and returned with the arms and armor of no less than two dozen kobolds that night. Then to be visitied by Lord Padraig himself? At Wrafton’s? In the morning, during breakfast? The townsfolk are definitely curious, which is to be expected in a small community like this.

At your suggestion that perhaps a more discreet place to discuss recent events was in order, Valthrun invited everybody back to his tower. Zekknar and Tohnii made a couple of interesting observations about Valthrun’s tower:

  • Architecturally, Valthrun’s tower appears to be far far older than any of the other buildings in Winterhaven. In fact, you estimate its architectural style dates back more than 1,000 years. Predating the neighboring nation of Cormyr.
  • Zekknar sensed a potent Ritual had been cast upon the tower, making it somewhat resistant to the effects of the elements and aging. He mentioned that while the Ritual itself is a fairly simple thing as far as these types of Rituals go, it is nonetheless fairly powerful to have lasted all these centuries.

Your discussion with Lord Padraig and Valthrun left you with more questions than answers. Lord Padraig knew of the Kobold Lair, and had suspected that that the kobolds that had been staging from there. He had in fact been entertaining the idea of petitioning you to root out the threat, but first wanted to make sure you weren’t just treasure hunters or mercenaries. He seems a proud, honorable man with little tolerance for those who seek to take advantage of him or his people.

When presented with the ears of your conquest, Lord Padraig agreed to pay you 200 gp’s as a reward. As is Hova’s nature, he began to try to negotiate a better reward, which offended Lord Padraig. He’d been looking for hero’s, but instead he got you guys (his words, not mine). After learning the rest of what you discovered, Lord Padraig reconciled himself with the fact that he needs you, and seems much more amenable.

The note you found on the kobolds leader, the hobgoblin Irontooth, was cause for great concern. When you explained your reasons for arriving in Winterhaven, your suspicions that there might be a cult devoted to Shar that had infiltrated Winterhaven, and that some of its citizenry might be involved, Lord Padraig petitioned you to conduct an investigation and get to the bottom of this threat to his people.

Hova was about to reveal everything you’d learned since arriving in Winterhaven, your suspects and your suspicions about a cult, when Zekknar prudently interrupted Hova and indicated that maybe you shouldn’t reveal everything you knew until you could be sure of Lord Padraig and Valthrun’s trustworthiness.

Valthrun’s reaction to Irontooth’s letter was a strange, but you couldn’t put your finger on why exactly. Though he did seem quite upset. Valthrun recognized the name “Shadraxil”, which was referenced in the letter. He claimed it was a legendary Great Wyrm that had once marked this area of the Thunder Peaks as its domain. Not just a dragon; a shadow dragon. But the dragon had been slain centuries ago. In fact, legend had it that the dragons corpse had been buried not far from Winterhaven. Valthrun seemed convinced that there was more to the story. He recalled that some of the texts in his library contained more information about it, and informed you that he would research Shadraxil and come to you with whatever he learned, but that it would take some time to dig through his library to find it.

Valthrun then suddenly recalled that a man had come through Winterhave a few months back named Douven Stahl. This man had been a historian from Highmoon who’d come asking about the very same burial mound. At the time, Valthrun had thought nothing of it, and had given the man a map to the sites location. But Valthrun realized that while Douven had returned to Winterhaven many times since then, he couldn’t recall seeing or hearing of him for weeks.

Apparently concerned for Douven’s safety, Valthrun asked you to go to the burial site and check on him. You couldn’t help but wonder at the coincidence of discovering a note mentioning an shadow dragon, and then learning that not only was its corpse buried south of town, but a man had come inquiring about it.

You set out for the burial site immediately. When you arrived, you surprised a group of men excavating the remains of what is clearly a dragon. The men were being supervised by a roguish looking gnome, who was in turn being watched from a ridge above the burial site by an apparition. The apparition appeared as a malefic man in robes. The very same apparition that had been observing Hova on the East Way, when he’d gone out to retrieve the rest of the gear you salvaged from the kobold ambush you encountered on your journey to Winterhaven!

Not much for the chit-chat, Neijer immediately took advantage of the diggers obvious surprise at your appearance, and attacked.

Even when the apparition joined in the fight, summoning terrible theurgies, you easily felled your foes. In fact, the gnome that was supervising the diggers actually surrendered, which Neijer grudgingly allowed, but not before taking one last vicious slash at the defenseless gnome.

When the dust settled, you heard noises coming from what appeared to be a pile of blankets, and discovered a man hidden beneath them matching Doven Stahl’s description. He was bound (hand and feet), and gagged. He looked pale and malnourished, and showed obvious signs of being beaten.

Divider

View
13 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

You had come to the burial site at the behest of Lord Padraig and Valthrun the Sage. When Valthrun had read the note you recovered from Irontooth at the Kobold Lair, the reference to something called “Shadraxil” was not lost on him. He couldn’t recall exactly where he’d heard that name, but he had suspicions it might have something to do with the old burial site. A could shiver went down his spine when he remembered he’d told Douven Stahl, a historian and artifact hunter from Highmoon, where the site was. At the time, Valthrun thought no harm would come of it. What he remembered (at the time) was just that it was the burial site for some dragon, slain many centuries ago, which Douven had obviously already known from his own research. What Douven didn’t know was the exact location. Valthrun gave it to him, likely encouraging a fellow man of learning in his endeavors. But when Valthrun learned of the connection between the Irontooth, the kobolds, the name Shadraxil, and his recollection of its connection to the burial site, he feared the worst. Lord Padraig petitioned you to go to the site immediately and check on Douven Stahl.

When we picked up last session, you began where you left off: cleaning up after the battle at the Burial Site, and interrogating the Gnome who was in charge of the human diggers. You also had some questions for the human man you found bound, gagged, and beaten at the site.

Algrid

The gnome, whose name was Algrid, wasn’t exactly a shining example of courage. You concocted a scheme wherein you pretended that if Algrid didn’t answer your questions, you’d kill him. He folded like origami.

Algrid told you that he was hired by Ninaran shortly after he arrived in town a couple weeks back. You get the impression he was likely casing the village for a fleecing. Ninaran spotted him, and quickly recognized his “moral flexibility” and contracted with the gnome to supervise the dig site. The way the gnome tells it, she “made him do it”, but he also let slip a couple times that he was being paid, which seems a little contradictory.

The gnome was able to indentify the apparition the was watching over the dig: Kalarel. He claims to never have met Kalarel. The apparition frequently consulted with Ninaran, but apparently not with Algrid.

It turns out that Kalarel had sent Algrid and his men to ambush Douven Stahl, the historian that had come to the site a couple months back. Douven had spoken to a few people back in Winterhaven and told them why he was there, and why he was at the dig site. One of the people he told was Bairwin. You assume it was Bairwin who then got word to Kalarel.

Algrid said that soon after they’d finished excavating the site, they’d discovered that what was buried was not what it seemed. While there was a dragon buried there, it was clearly not a great wyrm. At best, it was a juvenile dragon. They also found an ancient silver mirror.

Kalarel’s reaction was strange. Apparently he was not displeased at what they found. At this point you weren’t even sure why Kalarel had Algrid capture Douven and take over the dig, though Kalarel was obviously very interested in it, as he had his apparition watching over the whole operation.

The gnome also revealed a key piece of information; the whereabouts of Kalarel himself! He told you of some ancient ruins to the north of Winterhaven which he called Keegan’s Keep. You’d never heard of it. None of the villagers mentioned it. Algrid claimed that he’d never actually been to the ruins, he’d just overheard Kalarel and Ninaran talking.

He also knew that Ninaran had a contact in Winterhaven. That this contact was the leader of the cult to Shar in Winterhaven. Be he didn’t know his name.

Algrid talked (quickly) about everything he knew. Nonetheless, Hova seemed unconvinced (or is a sociopath) and decided torture was also necessary, repeatedly slicing at the gnomes legs with his sword, which brought the already severely injured gnome to near death. While nobody else in the group was directly involved in these acts, you stood by and allowed it to happen. You can’t help but wonder if there will be consequences for these actions? Shifts in alignment might be forthcoming, particularly if you continue down this dark path. Presumably Lord Padraig won’t believe Algrid’s stories of torture, even if the gnome tells him, but then again he does bear the wounds on his legs as evidence. No doubt Lord Padraig won’t be able to distinguish the wounds from those caused by battle, but can you be sure? What of Valthrun the Sage, would he be able to tell? You have to wonder if your reputation with this honorable man and the people of Winterhaven would suffer if they discovered the truth of these acts? Or maybe, as befitting your alignment, you don’t care what they think?

Lord padraig

When you returned to Winterhaven, the gnome criminal in tow, you turned him over to Lord Padraig, who had him incarcerated.

You told everything you’d learned to Lord Padraig and Valthrun. Your mistrust of one or both of them had apparently lessened. They were shocked to learn how deep the plot went, when all the pieces started falling together. You couldn’t help but notice Lord Padraig took it particularly hard. He couldn’t believe that any of the good people under his stewardship could be twisted worshipers of such evil, but Algrid’s confession, his link to Ninaran, his reports that there was still an unknown cult leader in the village itself, the cults connection to Kalarel, who was clearly behind the kobolds, it was all adding up. But what was the connection to the burial site? What did Kalarel hope to gain from that?

The answer came from Valthrun, and the research he’d done since you’d been gone. After poring through his extensive library on local lore, he’d managed to piece it together. More than 1,000 years ago, a Shadow Dragon named Shadraxil had been plaguing the Thunder Peaks, and eastern Cormyr. The then king of Cormyr had dispatched a famous dragon hunter named Sir Keegan to destroy the creature, which incredibly, he’d done. He’d tricked the great wyrm into a magical trap. A trap that had opened a rift to the Shadowfell, and cast the shadow dragon within, imprisoning it there forever. Fearing that the locals would be fearful of the dragons return (or worse) if they learned it had not been destroyed, but banished into the Realm of Shadow, Sir Keegan had his men slay one of Shadraxil’s offspring and bury it south of Winterhaven. They then told the villagers they’d slain Shadraxil, and offered the site as evidence. The villagers had no reason to doubt the knight and his men. But sadly, the tale didn’t end there. The dragon was trapped within a pocket dimension of the Shadowfell, but it was not without power. It corrupted and twisted Sir Keegan’s mind over the years, and until finally the great knight broke. Sir Keegan went mad, and slaughtered not only his wife and children, but many of his men. The rest of his men eventually rallied, and fought a long battle against Sir Keegan, eventually forcing the crazed knight into the crypts below the keep, where they finally killed him.

Lord Padraig and Valthrun asked you to root out the evil Kalarel and his apparent base of operations in the ruins of Shadowfell Keep. If he succeeds in opening the portal to the Shadowfell, and releasing the shadow dragon (and gods know what else), it would be the doom of Winterhaven.

Bairwin2

Acting on a hunch, you took the silver mirror that Douven Stahl had found at the dig (which Algrid claimed he’d found) and brought it to Bairwin Wildarson, the merchant.

Zekknar made repeated references to “a ritual” and how the mirror could be used in said ritual. Bairwin claimed to know nothing about how to use the mirror in any ritual, and then excused himself from the room to fetch more “special stock” for the party. He must’ve had some insight into the party discovering his connection to the cult, because he fled through a secret door into a hidden temple below his shop.

Shadowboltsnc3

The hidden temple devoted to Shar, finally revealed! And Bairwin its leader no less. After a hard-fought battle, your greatest challenge so far, you defeated Bairwin and his minions. In the temple you discovered another note from Kalarel, this one addressed to Bairwin. It revealed that Bairwin had been supplying Kalarel and his forces at the keep. Which explains Bairwin’s sudden increase in wealth and inventory. You’d assumed that Bairwin’s supply was coming from the kobolds robbing merchants on the East Way, but that piece doesn’t quite fit. The kobolds would’ve just brought the supplies directly to Kalarel, which they undoubtedly did. Bairwin must have been supplying the keep as well. With the money Kalarel was paying him, he must have indeed found new suppliers (instead of Thair Coalstriker the dwarf smith), but his would have been able to travel the road unmolested. But now you have to wonder the numbers at the keep to require that much resupply!?

Now it was starting to make sense:

Letter from kalarel to bairwin

  • From the letters you’ve discovered, it’s clear that Kalarel come to Keegan’s Keep, called Shadowfell Keep by the villagers for centuries and believed cursed (if only they wondered at why it had become known as Shadowfell Keep, which undoubtedly was started by what remained of Keegan’s men), to open a rift to the Shadowfell and release Shadraxil. And he’s doing it in Shar’s name. So clearly he’s a fanatic, but you can only pray that the Mistress of Night herself hasn’t been taking more direct involvement.
  • But apparently Kalarel’s information wasn’t as complete as he would’ve liked. Perhaps that’s why he had Algrid the gnome capture Douven Stahl, learn what he knew, and continue to dig: to confirm that Shadraxil was not dead, that the dragon was in fact locked behind the portal, which would explain why Kalarel wasn’t particularly upset by what his minions found at the site (exactly what he suspected; that Shadraxil was not buried there).
  • Kalarel then set about spreading his influence on the surrounding countryside, using the hobgoblin Irontooth to lead the kobolds.
  • It’s unclear wether Bairwin came here with Kalarel or was recruited, but Bairwin quickly set about establishing a cult devoted to Shar in Winterhaven, or maybe it was always there. While Irontooth controlled the countryside, Bairwin attempted to corrupt Winterhaven from within. Bairwin was also supplying Kalarel at the keep. A perfect arrangement for Kalarel. Ninaran must have been the liason between the two. Possibly also acting as Kalarel’s eyes and ears in Winterhaven.

You must get to Shadowfell Keep. Even now, Kalarel is conducting his ritual to open the rift!

Divider

View
14 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Shadowfell keep

The journey to Shadowfell Keep took just under a day. It might have been shorter if not for the difficult journey. The road to the northeast of Winterhaven has fallen into disuse over the years, and it made for hard going with the wagon.

The trail leading off the road and the keep itself were in little better shape. Evidence of the keeps destruction could be seen even as you approached the derelict ruins.

Ahead, the narrow track widens into a clearing. Great piles of shattered stone blocks and scorched timbers dominate the clearing, sprawling out from its center to the edge of the woods. No plants grow 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. Someone has cleared a path through the rubble and pulled aside the wreckage to reveal a stone staircase. The staircase descends into darkness.

The group decided to make camp for the night, and get an early start on exploring the keep. You drove the wagon into the woods a ways, and setup camp.

Divider

View
15 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (Part 2)

After dispatching the goblin guards in the first room of Shadowfell Keeps first underground level, the party move further into the dungeon in search of Kalarel. They left the guard room through a passageway to the west, and quickly ran into more trouble.

Neijer stealthily crept down a side passage and almost ran into two more goblins in a small room, seated at a table, playing dice. After alerting the group to the goblins presence via hand gestures, the rogue crept near the guards, fired his crossbow at near point-blank range and followed his opening shot; springing to the attack with his shortsword.

A heartbeat after Neijer’s buzzing crossbow bolt had knocked the surprised goblin to the floor, a massive psionic blur rushed past the thief, and Hova appeared in the middle of the room.

Goblinn torturer2

As the fight began, it seemed the party would easily overcome their foes and win the encounter, but the goblins were quickly reinforced. Reinforced en masse. Suddenly goblins began rushing into the room from several directions in response to the sounds of battle. A large number of warriors emerged from behind large curtains on the eastern wall that separated the room from two passageways. Another group of goblins, led by a nasty goblin that the party would later discover was apparently the clans torturer, also joined the fray.

The group found itself fighting a pitched battle for survival. Goblins coming at them from all sides. In an attempt to take away the advantage the goblins had with sheer numbers, the party retreated back down the passage that had led them to this room. Once the goblins had been forced into the bottleneck of the passage, Zekknar let loose with a devastating series of Scorching Bursts.

The goblins, sure of victory one moment, howled in frustration and pain the next. What few goblins escaped Zekknar’s fire, were run down by Hova and Neijer. All but one.

One goblin sharpshooter managed to escape with his life. Neijer pursued the foul creature, but terror and base cunning guaranteed its flight. The group could only hope the goblin didn’t run for help, and prepare for the worst if it did.

Divider

View
17 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

The Hidden Armory

After the dust had settled from the fight with the zombies, the party investigated the magical sigils that had alerted the abominations to their presence. Zekknar’s training at the Incanisteaum in Myth Drannor once more served him well. The sigils had been painted in blood, and infused with magic. He determined that all that was required was to break the continuity of the runic forms at just the right location in the design. In the end, simply pouring a handful of sand in the right spot broke the spell and disabled the sigil.

As they move further into the northern passages, Talon spotted a secret door! Once the party figured out how to open the hidden portal, they were disappointed to find that it concealed little more than a small, barren 10′×10′ room. The scraps of detritus within the cubby, and the thick layer of dust, seemed to indicate that perhaps it had once been used to hide items of value, but that it hadn’t been used in centuries.

The party investigated the small hidden room further, suspecting that perhaps there was more here than met the eye. Something caught at Zekknar’s peripheral vision. The mage was surprised to find that the eastern wall of the tiny room had moved. The eladrin’s keen eyes noticed a barely perceptible vibration to the wall itself. Just as Zekk moved closer to investigate the phenomenon, the group was surprised to hear soft moans of pain coming from behind the wall. But strangely, the moans sounded as though they were coming from within the very room itself. If the moans had come from behind a wall of solid granite, shouldn’t the sounds have been muffled? Not so. It sounded as though some tortured soul was standing before them, no more than a few strides away. Zekknar quickly deduced that the wall was a magical illusion. The moans sounded as though they were in the same room, because for all practical purposes; they were in the same room. The illusion merely disguised the rest of the chamber.

Zombie

Thunt, followed by Talon, were first to step through the phantasmal wall, and wasn’t altogether surprised to find a larger room beyond. What had once been a hidden armory was now little more than scrap metal and dried rotten leather. But a glance about the room was all the dwarf had time for. Standing guard over the ancient, dust covered debris were four zombies! The zombies shook of centuries worth of dust and lurched towards the Chauntean priest, but not before he roared a battle cry of rage at the undead abominations, so antithetical to the Earth Mothers gifts of life.

Hearing the sounds of battle within, Zekknar rushed through the wall to lend aid, only to crash headlong into Talon. The Sword of Torm hadn’t taken more than two steps into the armory beyond before he’d found himself face-to-face with the dessicated, dust covered visage of a long dead zombie guardsman intent on the Paladin’s destruction. Fortunately the sturdy knight kept his feet when the slender Tier’dal collided into him, and though slightly dazed by the collision, the eladrin mage managed to recover well enough to bring his arcane power to the fight.

Armorybattle2

When the battle ended, the dust settled, the fires of a weapons rack ignited by the flames of Zekknar’s Burning Hands spell quenched, and the tortured souls of these poor guardsman finally put to rest in the Earth Mother’s name, the party took at better look at their surroundings. All that remained of the ancient armory was a weapon rack of rusted and pitted swords, axes, and hammers and an equally worthless set of scale mail mounted on a mannequin. There was also a curious plaque on the north wall, upon which the image of a helm had been etched. Zekknar approached the plaque for a closer look. As leaned forward to peer at the plaque, an unearthly voice suddenly

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?

Black iron scale armor

The group eventually discerned the answer to the riddle by first posing the question to an all powerful oracle they named “the Internet” (for which, rest assured, the DM will someday exact a price in blood). Zekknar turned to the plaque and replied “Reputation!” and suddenly the suit of scale mail hanging from the rack behind them began to tremble. Unsure of what was happening, the party stepped away from the magically animated armor. The decrepit scale mail began to glow with sorcerous blue light as it continue to clink and rattle with spastic vigor. Just as soon as it started, with a final shudder the armor lay still, the magical blue glow slowly fading. What was once a rusted, tarnished, decaying suit of armor was now as new the day it was crafted. Polished black iron scales, subdued rainbow colors dashing deep within their depths when the light caught them just so. The scent of freshly oiled leather.

Imbued with resistance to fire and necrotic energy, Talon traded in his dented and dinged plate for the magical scale and the party moved on.

Divider

View
17 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (Part 2)

Skeletal Legion

After a much needed rest in the Hidden Armory, the party continued its journey.

After exploring the area around the sigil traps, the party decided to investigate the passages to the south, where the first group of zombies had attacked them when the trap had been triggered.

In the southern passages, they found a hallway lined with sarcophagi. The ornate granite lids depicted warriors; armed and armored, ever vigilant through the centuries. At the eastern end of the hall, a larger chamber; bathed in a soft silvery-white light.

Zekknar had previously cast a Light spell on a coin, which he tossed upon the floor to light this section of the hall, and the party moved in to investigate. There was some type of script chiseled into the outer rim of the sarcophagi lids. Thunt felt certain it was Iokharic, but never learned to read the draconic language.

As the group moved further to the east, to investigate the silvery light emanating from the vaulted room beyond, a deafening concussion shook the ancient hall. The lids of all ten sarcophagi suddenly exploded from within. Pieces of the granite coffin lids flew in every direction, some the size of a fist, others as big as a shield. Flakes and pebbles of granite clattered like rain, as a billowing waist-high wave of dust rolled across the floor.

Skeleton warriors

Coughing and sputtering, the party peered through the gray-brown pall of dust in horror as undead skeletons clawed their way out of what remained of the sarcophagi. Compelled from the grave, compelled with singular purpose and hate, the animate dead skidded and scrambled over the rubble and attacked from every direction.

Cut off from retreat back the way they came, the party decided to fight a tactical withdrawal towards the large room to the east, though not without some hesitation; as they knew nothing of what might await them there.

The yellow light from Zekknar’s ensorcelled coin, half buried amongst the rubble, combined with the soft silvery light behind them, cast wild, frenetic shadows in the thick shroud of choking dust.

The battle raged on for some time. Thunt called upon the Great Mother to destroy the abominations, Zekknar’s mighty theurgies laid waste, and the Sword of Torm smote his foes in the name of righteousness.

Legionbattle1

And all at once, it was over. No less than ten of the undead skeletons had been destroyed in the pitched battle. Drenched in sweat grown thick with dust, the group panted with exhaustion.

Thunt had thrown himself at the foul things in a fury, compelled by a deep hate for something so antithetical to life. The peaceful dwarven priest of a god of life was growing accustomed to wading into the thick of the fight, banishing evil in the name of Chauntea, but not without cost. Thunt took the lions share of the damage during the fight, but unlike these abhorrent lifeless entities, his was a life spent in devotion to life, rebirth, renewal. Chauntea watches over her faithful. Thunt’s wounds were healed before the battle even ended.

No more than a few minutes after the battle had ended, the cold pall of death that had been lifted, suddenly returned. Two of the sarcophagi began, once more, to shake and scream. From either side of the hall, two more skeletons began to claw their way from within stone coffins that only seconds before had been empty. As the party once again sprang to the attack, two more sarcophagi screamed and shook, and two more skeletons joined the fight. And two more!

The party realized that the skeletons would not stop unless something was done to stop them, but what? Sure that the answer lay within the room of silvery light to the east, Talon shouted for the group to move into the room. Perhaps an answer could be found within?

As they dispatched the last two skeletons and stepped within the large domed chamber, the sarcophagi stopped. The group was surprised to find the ceiling was painted black, depicting a radiant night sky, covered with stars surrounding a set of vivid silver and blue eyes gazing down upon them. The eyes were surrounded by six equidistant silver points of light with a single larger point of light above the eyes. Thunt quickly realized what the image on the ceiling represented: it was Selune, Our Lady of Silver, goddess of the moon.

At the north and south ends of the room, there were two altars. Each altar was inscribed with elaborate script, and relief images of soldiers in plate armor were carved upon them. Soldiers on their knees in prayer, presumably to Selune.

Divider

View
18 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (Part 2)
Finally the group was able to get in an Extended Rest. The party had been harried and attacked not once but twice in their previous attempts at getting some rest. Most had used almost all their most potent Powers (their Daily Powers) in the first big fight, so the second battle got pretty hairy using only At-Will and Encounter Powers, culminating in a near death experience for Koji the Monk (he was down to 3 HP's with no way of getting healed).

This time the party retreated to a location within the dungeon that they felt would give them a much better chance of respite: the Secret Armory. It would have taken extraordinary luck on the part of the hobgoblin patrols (doubtless searching the dungeon for the party after so much mayhem) to not only find the secret door leading to this room, but to then also figure out that the eastern wall within was actually an illusion, and that the party was on the other side.

Eladrin do no sleep. Instead, they enter a meditative state they call the trance. While in the trance, Eladrin are fully aware of their surroundings and can become fully alert in seconds. And so, as usual, Zekknar assumed guard duties while the other slept.

How Zekknar managed to trance after bearing witness to Thunt preparing to bed down for the night is anyone’s guess. The group was “surprised” (horrified) to learn that Thunt prefers “the feel of the Earth Mother’s blessing on his skin” when he sleeps. All of his skin. shudder Let’s just say the sight of a naked and disturbingly hairy dwarf bending over to spread his bedroll out (thank god that’s not a euphemism) is a sight that will haunt Zekknar and Koji’s nightmares for weeks to come.

After an uneventful rest, the party, determined as ever to reach Kalarel and stop him from completing his ritual to summon the shadow dragon Shadraxil from its pocket plane of the Shadowfel, made their way back to the stairs leading to the 2nd level.

Koji stealthily scouted out the Hobgoblin Guard Room and discovered two hobgoblin grunts guarding the room that had been the scene for no less that three deadly encounters. The grunts standing across the room, in front of the door to one of the barracks rooms. You would later discover that the hobgoblins had temporarily disposed of the bodies from the last battle in this room.

With the guards still unaware that Koji had spotted them from the shadows of the stairway, the Monk silently padded back up the stairs to Zekknar and Thunt, who had remained further back so as not to reveal their position. Thunt felt confident that he could sneak just as well as anybody in the group, using what has come to be called “Dorf Stealth”, but the others weren’t so sure that was a good idea. As far as Koji and Zekknar could tell, “Dorf Stealth” seemed to mostly involve a great deal of jingling chain mail, clomping boots, and regularly thumping your shield into whatever is at hand at any given moment (like your knees, your warhammer, the wall, what-have-you).

From further up the stairs (well outside “Dorf Stealth” range), the party put together a plan of attack. Their primary concern: making sure neither guard would be able to flee the room and call for reinforcements. And the plan worked brilliantly!

Table2

The elves ability to move silently is legendary, and so the Eladrin mage Zekknar joined Koji, as the barefoot monk stealthily worked his way back down the stairs. Once in position with Koji within the shadows near the end of the stairs, Zekknar used a simple cantrip he had learned as a student in Myth Drannor to create a noise coming from the well in the center of the room. When the guards came to investigate, the mage then Hypnotised one of feebleminded brutes and commanded it to jump into the waiting arms of the party’s old friend… the well. Moments later, Koji sprang from his position on the stairs, sprinted across the room, leapt into the air, and delivered a devastating kick to the remaining (and completely surprised) guard. The hobgoblin grunt was dead before he hit the floor.

Somebody, presumably more hobgoblins, had clearly discovered the dead bodies from the last battle and dragged them into an adjoining room (to be properly disposed of later?), the party moved further into the dungeon. The near half dozen hobgoblins (and one bubgear) that had fallen victims to Zekknar’s mesmerizing gaze and flung themselves down the well were still there, though it’s unclear wether the hobgoblins knew that. Opting not to search any of the bodies, instead fearing an imminent attack, the group moved on.

Further into the dungeon, the party discovered a barracks area. Judging from the flagons, mugs, and plates on the tables in the chow room, as many as a half dozen or more humanoids had been using the area recently. A well stocked supply room nearby looked as though it could support dozens of humanoids for at least a month. But the interconnected rooms were all empty.

The party then left the barracks area to investigate a room down a hallway to the south. As Koji silently crept down the hall to scout out a room no more than 50’ down the passage, he failed to notice a misaligned stone in the floor that turned out to be the trigger for a portcullis that slammed down to block the entrance to the room he’d been approaching. From this side of the portcullis, they could see a large table in the room beyond, but not much else.

The bars weren’t reinforced well, and it was thought that they could possibly be bent, allowing room to squeeze through; but the group instead felt it would be wiser to lift the portcullis and wedge it into place. Unfortunately, they couldn’t lift it: it wouldn’t budge. Thinking that perhaps there was another route into the room beyond, they backtracked to look for an alternate route.

While trying to find another way into the room beyond the portcullis, the party wandered into a large, dark room with 30’ high vaulted ceilings. Near the center of the room was a giant statue of a warrior wearing plate armor, wielding a sword. In the northeast and southeast corners; statues of dragons on 10×10 platforms. To the south: an short passageway with vases of cherubs holding pitchers.

Every statue turned out to be traps. The giant warrior statue could swivel at the waist, and at the shoulder of its sword arm, and demonstated as much (to good effect) on Thunt when first approached. The dragon statues emitted waves of forces when anyone came near. Waves of force designed to push invaders and knock them off their feet within reach of the giant warrior statue.

Table1

The short passage to the south was deadliest of all. While trying to get out of range of the southeastern dragon statue, Koji sprinted into the alcove. As soon as he passed between the first two cherub vases, walls of force slammed down over the entrance of the hallway and the double doors to the south. Then the cherub vases came to life, if only for a few seconds. They tipped forward their pitchers, and water with the force of an aqueduct began to gush forth from all four statues. The monk was trapped in the tiny, water-tight hallway, and the water was rising.

A couple rounds later, finding no way to escape the hallway, just as panic began to sink in, water level already to his knees, the monk attempted to turn one of the vases and redirect the flow of water towards one of the walls of force. While he was unable to turn the small statue, he did manage to crack the pitcher, and jets of water shot through the break. lighbulb!

Next round, as the water was rising to nearly three feet, Koji launched a sidekick at the nearest vase, shattering it. The water enchantment from that vase ended, and the water with it. But there were still three more to go.

By this time, Thunt had reached the hallway. Separated from his friend by the arcane barrier, the Chauntean Cleric tried desperately to devise a way in which he could help his trapped friend.

Meanwhile Zekknar, having divined the nature of the mystical symbols carved upon the dragon statues in the room without, had nimbly leapt upon the statue to the southeast and was working frantically at effacing the markings. The elven mage’s desperate hope was that the runs were somehow tied to the power of the walls of force.

The following round, just as Koji was about to surge across the room and destroy the next vase, a powerful whirlpool formed in the center of the hallway! In seconds, the magically driven maelstrom was at full pitch, savagely twisting and driving the water throughout the room with staggering force. Koji was in trouble. He needed to reach the far end of the hallway to break the last two statues, but the force of the water Slowed movement to half. Koji’s Speed is 6, reduced to 3 by the Slow effect, and the closes statue was 4 squares away. But the redoubtable monk had trained long under the tutelage of ((insert missing backstory here)) in the city of ((insert missing backstory here)). Even now, Koji could hear the words of his Master, as he lectured to him on the fundamental’s of the Crane’s Wings Movement Technique: “Air is as real as you and me. You may step on it as if it were a stone, swim through it as if it were the sea. All you have to do is believe.” And with that, Koji suddenly sprang from his perch on the vases pedastal. More floated than leapt. Across the room to the next statue, his foot lightly slapping the chaotic vortex below just once—twice; as if to help bouy his feathered flight to the far vase. With the help of his Master’s technique and his teachings, the monk was able to shatter the last two vases.

The moment the last vase was destroyed, the walls of force dropped, the whirlpool subsided, and Thunt hurriedly ducked back behind the corner as the water from within spilled into the room.

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.