Having defeated the insidious and hidden threat of Wildarson beneath the town’s very feet, the party retires for the night and makes preparations in the morning to head to the Keep on the Shadowfell.
First, however, Snúgel and Aldhelm approach Lord Padraig and explain to him the dire threat the party has expunged. With his blessing, they are gifted with Baird Wildarson’s former shop as well as the basement, after promising to thoroughly excoriate the stench of evil from the very stones of the hidden temple and dedicate it to the worship of Torm, Tyr and Tymora.
While this is occurring Skamos takes off for the kobold’s lair and reunites with Kerig to bring his archery skills on their next adventure, now that he has recovered from his wounds received from the kobolds. Upon seeing the messy past of worms the hobgoblin has been dieting on, Sardonyx’s stomach turns and he second guesses his decision to not have stayed in town.
Erais respectively make plans with the Sister Linora and Gevarn to have the temple cleansed and Tira meets with Eilian the Old, who has discovered more information on the abandoned Keep. Eilian relates, while Tira discovers he’s not as old as he seems and has to remind him her face is not resting on her bosom, the terrible history of the Keep.
“Shadowfell Keep, as folks call it now, was not always known by that name. It seems that this name arose only in the pasty century from people’s fear of the plane through which the dead travel. No so long ago, yet beyond the memory of most, the keep was known as Keegan’s Keep.
“Stories tell of how the lord of Keegan’s Keep, Sir Jerold Keegan, became a crazed lunatic and slew his family and friends, forever cursing the place. However, the truth of the story is much more tragic. “Sir Keegan was a renowned hunter of dragons. Thus, when the great wyrm, Shadraxil, a shadow dragon of particularly ill temperament, began to plague Cormyr, it fell to Keegan to come up with a way to defeat the beast.
“The knight lured the beast to the keep, and there, he managed with sword and sorcery to occupy the creature long enough to perform a ritual to trap it away in a place of shadow. That would have been the end of the story were it not for the power of Shadraxil.
“Incensed by his defeat, the wyrm poured all of his malice into revenge against the knight who trapped him. Such was the dragon’s power that even from beyond the Shadow Rift, he was able to deceive Keegan into believing his friends and family were conspiring against him. Eventually, the knight’s mind snapped.
“The author of the historical treatises speculates that he suffered paranoid delusions, for Keegan went on a rampage through the keep, killing his wife and comrades before eventually a grievous wound drove him to flee into the keep’s crypts. It’s not known what happened to him afterthat.
“Cormyr’s leaders, fearing that Shadraxil might continue to wreak havoc upon those stationed at the keep, ordered the place destroyed and its secrets hidden. They slew a juvenile shadow dragon and created a false burial site, all in an effort to conceal the truth—that Shadraxil still lives, waiting just beyond the rift for an opportunity to have vengeance upon those who did him wrong so very long ago.
“Whatever activity is occurring at the keep, it can surely mean ill for Winterhaven and those of nearby lands. Please, will you and your friends do what you can to help?”
Tira reassured him they would look into the matter and sternly reminded him once again that her eyes were about two feet higher than his current gaze and if he’d like to keep what little was left of his manhood, he’d be wise to keep that in mind.
No sooner was the whole party reunited than they made the journey to the desolate keep. Nearing the entrance, they spotedt the decrepit ruins of what must have once been a magnificent structure. The whole area is unnaturally quiet as they approach the black maw with dusty stone stairs leading down into the depths.
Aldhelm bravely took the lead, storming down the stairs and into a small room where he is taunted from the other end by a small goblin wielding a bow. Knowing that he will be able to deliver much mightier blows the closer he can get, Aldhelm prepares to cross the expanse separating him from the goblin when suddenly the grounds gives out way beneath him and he falls ten feet down into a cleverly disguised pit. Unfortunately, the pit is already inhabited by a swarm of ravenous, feral rats who quickly set about making a meal out of the dragonborn.
However, Aldhelm’s companions are quick to support him in his dire straits and while some battle the goblin, who is joined by another bow wielding friend, Sardonyx is able to lower a rope for Aldhelm to climb out of the pit.
A running battle ensues, with the wily goblins attempting to shoot the heroes from hiding. In addition, twice two different warrior goblins come rushing from around a corner and first try to push Aldhelm and then Snúgel down into the pit, where the rats hungrily wait below, but to no avail. Such stalwart strength is displayed that the goblins are at a loss and soon, with the aid of a magically flaming ball of fire that Skamos conjures, they are all relieved of their lives.
Gathering what meager coins they can find on their fallen foes, the party moves further into the Keep. In the next room they find even more goblins; two of them sitting at a table playing cards with a large bell between them. Unfortunately there was no attempt at stealth made and one of the goblins hears the crashing metal plated feet of Aldhelm and quickly rings the bell to summon help.
The next minute is a flurry of activity, as goblins come pouring out from behind two different curtains and the party is assailed on all sides. Some of the goblins engage in melee with shifty thrusts and parries of their shortswords, while others use the momentum of their movement to hurl javelins with extended force.
There is even a particularly fat goblin, green flesh bulging from beneath his leather armor that uses the concealment of one of the curtains to take deadly shots with his crossbow.
However, the goblins prove to be no match and it is then, the leader precipitously close to death, calls out for a parley, for a truce, promising the party they’ll never make it to the second level without the password. In mid-call he is permanently silenced as Snúgel sends a dagger with such unerring accuracy and force that it strikes the goblin, who in life went by the appellation of Balgron the Fat, square in his jugular, like an arrow perfectly piercing the bull’s-eye at a country fair.
Haplessly Aldhelm has also been grievously wounded and crashes to the floor, bleeding profusely. This is just the opportunity the lone surviving goblin needs to run back past one of the curtains and out of the party’s site.
Erais tends to Aldhelm to staunch the worst of the bleeding while a heated disuccsion is given to the merits of pursuing, with the whole party having significantly spent themselves battling both groups of goblins.
It is eventually decided that they will hole up in one of the store rooms of the goblins, barricading the door and rotating the watch. The night passes uneventfully and soon they are collecting themselves and marching off in search of what further dangers may inhabit the keep.