After dealing with the latest hobgoblin patrol, the party decided that it would be best to head back to Winterhaven to rest and resupply. They reached the surface, expecting to find the warm rays of the sun and found that a gloom had settled around the keep, the air tasting cold and foul like a tomb. As they put more distance between themselves and the keep the air warmed, and the foulness faded away.
However as they approached Winterhaven they could see that not all was as they had left it. Soldiers walked the walls with bonfires lit at every tower, people stayed indoors, behind locked and bolted doors, and the coldness that the party had felt at the keep threatened to snuff out the life of this small outpost. Kamal met with Lord Padraig and Valthrun who were busy organizing the defense of Winterhaven from some unknown force. During his meeting he learned that several of the outlaying farms had been attacked, with no sign as to what happened to the residents. Only a few broken items and a bit of blood were all that remained. More troubling was that three people had disappeared from inside the city walls, a guardsman named Heinsford, Ninaran the elven tracker, and a young boy named Timmoth.
The main concern was the gloom that was settling over the town. Valthrun feared that perhaps the forces behind the troubles at the keep had managed to secret something in the town to mimic the effects there, and while Lord Padraig recognized that this was an issue he couldn’t afford to spare the men in searching for something of that nature.
Meanwhile, Seeley and Rozca had gone to investigate the Ninaran’s disappearance. They talked to Delphina Moongem, another elf in the town to see when Ninaran had last been seen. Delphina admitted that she didn’t know when Ninaran had last been seen, and lamented that the two of them used to be fairly close but in the past year had grown distant. Delphina supposed it was due to some slight she had given the huntress and hoped that she was alright. Seeley promised to let Delphina know whatever she uncovered, and they met up with Kamal in the tavern.
Valthrun asked if Kamal could search the town out to see if there was something drawing the gloom to Winterhaven. Kamal agreed and the party began a search of the town. Shortly they found a ritual focus that had been hidden in the Warrior’s Guild fireplace. Rozca extracted a small onyx statuette that Del identified as belonging to the cult of Orcus. Slate volunteered to smash the idol, and as his axe splintered it he felt a pull against his soul and the darkness fled the area. However this brief brush with death soon passed.
After consulting with the rest of the group, it was decided that Seeley and Roz should try and see what they could find in Ninaran’s room in the tenements. The two of them gained access to the room, with help from Rozca’s lockpicks, and discovered a grizzly secret in the closet. Two bodies, a human guardsman and elven woman. The guardsman had been killed recently, perhaps within the last day, from someone who had either known him or surprised him. The elven woman sat crosslegged in the back of the closet her body preserved by type of embalming. Seeley determined that the woman, who bore a striking resemblance to Ninaran, had been dead for sometime, perhaps as long as a year.
Seeley followed a set of footprints out of the tenement which matched those that had been present near the window in the Warrior’s Guild where the idol had been found. They let out of town and to southeast. They gathered the rest of the party because it was thought that maybe the boy Timmoth had been abducted from the tenement and taken by whomever had planted the idol.
The party followed the tracks to the town’s graveyard where they found Ninaran, and a foul magic circle. Ninaran attacked them and summoned a small horde of skeletons and a pair of gravehounds to attack the party. Seeley and Kamal attacked Ninaran while the rest of the party dispatched the undead. The party managed to corner Ninaran who attempted to escape by climbing over the fence, however Slate charged and brought the flat of his axe down on her head knocking her unconscious.