Shards of Crystal

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 16-17)
Through fire, water, and death walked the brave...

After dispatching the hobgoblin mercenaries the party worked their way ever deeper into the keep. Kalarel had obviously prepared his final defenses such that only the undead could pass without trouble. The party disarmed traps, both magical and mundane and put undead by the score to a final rest.

Along the way the group found Gurhana’s Arm, and enchanted battleaxe and a bag of holding. Finally the group arrived at what looked at where the Cult of Orcist were planning their dread ritual. A magical fountain had been perverted so that it ran with blood instead of water, and it dripped into the darkness of a pit in the floor. The floor had the image of Orcist on the floor, placed there by some magical means. The underpriest and his minions defended this last point to the last but in the end, those that weren’t killed were tossed into the pit. Rozca gave chase to the few that remained, sliding down the blood-slicked chains and ended the last cultist, only to find herself face-to-face with Kalarel who welcomed her to the ritual.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 15)
The Warchief's Last Stand

With the immediate danger to Winterhaven dealt with, the party returned to the keep to deal with the last of Kalarel servants and put an end to the high priest’s plots.

The party returned to the area where they suspected that the hobgoblin mercenaries had been barracked and Seeley and Rozca crept forward to determine where the remaining troops were and what their numbers might be. The pair swiftly determined that there were two groups of hobgoblins one that were stationed in the barracks and another smaller group that was in some chambers south of them. The smaller group seemed to be having some kind of argument and the party decided to use the distraction to their benefit.

Setting up positions with Slate, Shale, Rozcaa nd Del taking the lead with Kamal and Seeley providing support, they lured the hobgoblins out. Quickly the battle was joined and the hobgoblin warchief whipping his troops into line. As the hobgoblins began to falter reinforcements arrived from the northern barracks. Unfortunately for the reinforcements Kamal and Seeley were ready and waiting for them. Between the elven archer and the half-elf wizard they managed to bottle up the reinforcements long enough so that the warchief and his guards were slain. The party then turned to the remaining hobgoblins and made short work of them.

Among the warchief’s effects was 380gps and the enchanted shortsword Foe Render.

With the last of the hobgoblin mercenaries put to the sword, the party looked towards the last of Kalarel’s defenses.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 14)
Death is only the beginning.

The party revived Kamal and then discussed what to do with “Ninaran”. During the interrogation the party learned that the woman they had captured was not Ninaran and had murdered the elven huntress and taken her place over a year ago. Allora was a wild elf from Aina’Tol, and like Seeley had been chosen to be a Wanderer. Allora left the Holy Isles seventy-five years ago and during her time on the mainland had become bitter and resentful of her kin and her “banishment”. Finally she turned to Orcus for a means to get her revenge on her people.

The renegade confessed to the murders in Winterhaven and before she was executed she told Seeley to “remember my name, we will meet again”. After Slate beheaded her, her body decomposed at a rapid rate leaving only her longbow Firecaster behind. Seeley claimed the bow stating that Allora hadn’t been worthy of such a weapon.

With the last of Orcus’s servants defeated in Winterhaven, the party returned to the inn to prepare for their final assault on the Keep.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 13)
Spies, Lies, and Blood

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.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 12)
Even more Hobgoblins...

After the party left the tomb of the Keegan children the ran into another hobgoblin patrol. Seizing the initiative, the adventurer’s fell upon the hobgoblins like an avalanche. Only the disciplined training of the hobgoblins, drilled into them with sword point and lash, saved the fight from being a route. Soon all but one of the hobgoblins had fallen and the last managed to escape, although it was uncertain if the was heading for more reinforcements or just fleeing for his life.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 11)
Corridors of the Cube

As the party entered the curiously clean area of the keep they made sure to check all of the alcoves to make sure nothing was lurking there waiting to ambush them. Unfortunately what was lurking in one of these alcoves was a dreaded gelatinous cube. Unknowing, the party turned their back to the voracious cube and moved to the south where they could see a larger room. Seeley was nominated to inspect the alcoves further to determine if there were any secret passageways, and she headed back as the rest of the party moved forward. Seeley walked straight into the cube as it slowly advanced towards the party, and then she found herself quickly engulfed by the creature.

The party quickly turned back to help their scout but as they turned their attention to the cube a pair of rotted corpses started to make their way from the southern room towards the party. Del and Shale held the undead monsters at bay while Kamal, Rozca, and Slate first pulled Seeley from the cube and then fought the monster back. The cube seemed nonplussed by the adventurers and was determined to get a meal. Del channeled the power of the Raven Queen and pushed the undead back into the room to the south. For what seemed like hours the party fought on two fronts until finally the cube and the undead were put down.

After the party collected themselves they found a pair of small sarcophagi, carved in the style of the Nerath Kingdom. On the tombs they found the names “Drystan Keegan” and “Ceinwein Keegan”, and determined that these had been the final resting place of Sir Keegan’s two children and that the power of portal below had corrupted their remains and turned them into the undead. Del noted that the spirits of the children were now at rest, and Rozca found a small chest with the likeness of Bahamut carved onto it. Inside the chest was the moldering clothes of a young boy and girl along with a small gold medallion (250gp) with the boy’s name carved into the back, a thin platinum bracelet (200gp) with the girl’s name etched into it. Also they found several toys and a hairbrush with a mother-of-pearl handle (5gp), and an amulet which Kamal identified as being a Safewing Amulet +1.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 10)
Hobnails and Wreaths

The party quickly hid themselves and the hobgoblin reinforcements arrived. As the party spied on the hobgoblins they could see that that there were many more of them than had been in the guardrooms and they were led by a hobgoblin in robes.

Despite their best efforts the party were spotted by the hobgoblin patrol and found themselves in the thick of battle. Kamal and Seeley managed to bottleneck the hobgoblins with a flurry of magic and a covering volley of arrows, which prevented the hobgoblins from using their superior numbers before the adventurers had a chance to thin their ranks. As the hobgoblins pressed forward they found a veritable wall of steel and magic before them that they could not overcome. Soon the hobgoblins lay on the floor and Rozca joked that the party could now celebrate “Tiefling Christmas”.

The hobgoblins defeated, the party continued further into the keep. Kamal and Del used their training in the Arcane to sense any sources of magic that might be nearby but they could not sense anything. So the decision was made to follow the corridors to the west where Seeley noted there was more dust on the floor than in other parts of the keep. The group came to a closed door and as they opened it, Seeley noticed that the area behind the door was strangely lacking in dust…

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 9)
Enter the Bloodreavers

With the party rested they headed back to the maze of corridors that were warded by the Cult of Orcus. After examining the runes the party chose to use Kamal’s ritual of Tenser’s Floating Disk to float above the runes. Shortly afterwards the party found a secret chamber which concealed hidden armory. Unfortunately the armory contained more zombies which the party dispatched quickly. In the armory they found a set of old armor that was guarded by a riddle. Kamal quickly answered the riddle and claimed the suit of scale mail for the party.

The party then found themselves traveling deeper into the keep. A series of twisting staircases leading them further underground. In the lighted chamber at the bottom of the stairs they found a group of hobgoblins keeping guard. As the hobgoblin soldiers moved to attack the party and keep them bottled in the stairwell, a pair of hobgoblin thugs went to release a deathjump spider. Soon the spider was free and the party faced a disciplined foe with the pouncing attacks of the spider. As the fight turned in the party’s favor one of the soldiers tried to flee, but was cut down. However the party could hear the sounds of hobnail boots in the distance…

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 8)
Darkness conceals more than evil.

The party began exploring the southern tunnels and quickly found that the area was littered with small pit traps, apparently dug by the goblins who had been excavating the area. As they explored they found that the tunnel walls were riddled with smaller passageways. Too small for any of the party to fit in comfortably, but large enough that the goblins could have made them. The area also seemed to have a strong musky scent, which Seeley identified being like the scents of reptiles and insects. An unnerving clacking sound could be heard coming out of the darkness and a small band of kruthik attacked the party. The band made up of one adult, several young, and about a half-dozen hatchlings quickly surrounded the party. With their backs to the tunnel walls the party fought off the kruthiks until all of the beasts were destroyed. Afterwards they found that there was a small partially collapsed tunnel at the south of the complex where the kruthiks must have entered the area of the keep. Based on the tunnels and the number of hatchlings, Seeley estimated that the beasts had only recently found their way to the keep. In a pile near the adult’s nest they found a collection of gold and silver coins, and on the body of a goblin in one of the pits they found two Potions of Healing.

Heading back north towards the excavation site the party returned to the barred door. Behind the door they found the keep’s cistern, which had become fouled. After a few moments a blue jelly attacked the party from beneath the murky depths. Tired from their previous encounter with the kruthik the party fought the beast and finally managed to slay it, but not before Del, Rozca, and Slatehad been knocked unconscious. Fortunately Kamal and Seeley were able to revive Del who then stabilized the other two. Bruised and weary the party decided to close the door and rest in the room. While camping in the cistern they found some more coins, a Potion of Healing, a Shield of Protection, and a message cylinder.

The message cylinder contained a map of the area around the keep, and two messages:

Remember, don’t wet the nodule—unless Kalarel is not receptive to the offer. Then, wet it only from a distance, and then, turn and run. Water will bring the creature out of its dormancy, and it will consume anything it can reach.

Greetings, Kalarel. I have recently learned of your activity in the area and have an offer for you. During your time in this region, if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have duergar allies in Thunderspire in need of slave stock. If you are interested, send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way.

Krand, Chief of the Bloodreavers.

Keep on the Shadowfell (part 7)
Even in death, dishonor is a heavy burden.

Seeley entered the room first and could see that the tomb may have once been splendid now lay in a state of abnormal decay. The walls of the tomb were covered in murals depicting knights in ancient livery fighting against orcish hordes. Traces of platinum leaf could still be seen, however most of it had flaked and been corrupted by whatever dark force was tainting the tomb.

As the party searched the room, they inspected the coffin at its heart. As Rozca touched the stone lid it slid open and an armored skeleton rose from inside and placing its bony hand on the hilt of a magnificent sword declared, “The rift must never be reopened!” it croaks. “State your intentions, or prepare to die!”

The party parleyed with Sir Keegan, Knight of the Dragon and discovered the truth behind the stories told about the Keep and the fell deeds that happened a century ago. The party convinced the fallen knight that they had the skills and resolve to see the rift to the Shadowfell closed. To aid them he let them know that the small statues of Bahamut that they found carried the Platinum Dragon’s blessing and may help them defeat the darkness, and he asked that they take his sword Aecris with them so that it might be redeemed. He also let them know that the rift, and the evil that was trying to open it was still some distance below the keep and with that the knight disappeared.

The party collected the sword and went to explore a series of rough hewn stone steps that led from where the goblins here excavating down to a natural cavern. Here they found only rats and an ochre jelly. Seeley noted that there were fewer goblin tracks in the caves than she had seen elsewhere. After destroying the jelly the part found a door that had been barricaded and a sign scratched into the door that read “Stay Out. Really.”, and a tunnel that led to to the south. The party decided to leave the door (for now) and explore the tunnel…


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