Purple Haze

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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Prologue (part I)

Part One (Prologue)

In which iconoclasm sheds tears thrice and a half and one comes late to the party..

In the country of Cormyr the Purple Dragon Knights stand not only as a symbol of strength, loyalty and protection, but also as inspiration to many a young boy or girl who imagines themselves one day proudly wearing the colors of one of the proudest traditions in all of Faerun.

However, the Purple Dragon Knights combat invading hordes, enemy countries such as reborn Netheril or Sembia and do not have time to trouble with one small community on its Southern edge, near an area known as The Pass of the Broken Beggar. A mining settlement that quickly burgeoned into a small village has been struck by a mysterious plague that first inflicted the elderly miners, incapacitating them with boils and red itchy sores, before sending them to an untimely grave. Now, some of the younger miners have become infected as well as a few townspeople and the situation has grown dire.

The village’s mayor put a call out to any adventurers or would be heroes to help the settlement’s plight. A band of stalwart adventurer’s, led by a human fighter, known as Regdar’s Roughnecks answered the call. Also in the band was a tough dwarf called Tordek, an Elven wizard named Mialee and a Halfling rogue journeyed with these heroes by the appellation of Lidda. They even had a secondary leader, a human cleric who people knew as Jozan.

Kellin Marzden, the mayor, was overjoyed. Surely such heroes as these would reach iconic status and go on to many famous adventures and bards would be singing of their exploits long after all had perished but Mialee, for her race gifted her with a long span of life.

Unfortunately, a week after the Roughneck’s departure from the village to investigate the mines, no word was heard, no single hero returned to give news of their fate and the village’s population continues to dwindle with each passing day, claiming more victims to the deadly, untreatable disease.

Desperate, Kellin put out another call, increasing the reward offered to a fistful of silver to any who would dare enter the mines and investigate the disappearance of the missing party as well as search for any clues as to the nature of the mysterious plague.

Into Eltheria comes a diverse group of adventurers, each hearing something in the call that speaks to them, whether the lure of riches, the possibility of fame, or perhaps to do a deed for good or other possibilities that lurk in their hearts, known only to them.

Erais, the Sunlord proudly proclaims his allegiance to the power of the sun and also shares with the other adventurers that this area has only been settled for a few short years, but has been prosperous, due to the silver mine. Before the humans came, hobgoblins lived nearby and would raid travelers going through the Pass of the Broken Beggar. In addition, Erais has heard stories from his church of a similar disease to the one Mayor Kellin described, but in a land outside of Eltheria and of further knowledge than that he was bereft.

Skamos Redmoon, clearly identifiable as a tielfing from his prominent horns and tail, smirks slyly during Erais’ telling, but is it due to some hidden knowledge or is he attempting to flirt with Tira Duskmeadow?

Tira Duskmeadow unequivocally caused a stir when she walked into town. Exuding confidence and capability, she is a force to be reckoned with, but some men can only focus on her abundant beauty, truly a divinely inspired mixing of the best traits in the elven and human racial genetics. However, it is rumored that her magical powers come not from years of learned study, but from a pact made with dark forces in the dead of night a top a lonely hill, silhouetted by a strangely twisted tree barren of all leaves and only a few scraggly branches that could appear to a weary traveler as claws reaching out to rip the very soul from one’s heart! And perhaps then again she is merely gifted with some ancient dragon’s bloodline that grants her magical gifts.

Certainly she restrains her temperament well, particularly with Skamos’ unwanted attention and even Erais having difficulty controlling his admiration of her abundant curves.

Curves of another sort attended Kathra Ironforge, the dwarven fighter who seemed to join the party to have a look at what a pathetic attempt the human’s mine would certainly be, in a futile desire to copy great dwarven craftsmanship. Her curves were mostly hidden beneath her suit of scale armor, except for the curves she left in the heads of enemies whose skulls were crushed in by her mighty warhammer.

Almost unseen due to his fey nature and quiet manner, Riardon Brightvale accompanies the party as the final member to join the quest. From the race of the Eladrin, this ranger’s bow shows much wear from hours of practice, most likely targeting those who would disrespect the purity of nature.

Eventually, our disparate party realizes the dwarf has had enough of their chatter and is marching off towards the mines. The rest quickly follow after, with Skamos leering after Tira and nearly discovering the deadliness of her eldritch blast.

At the mine’s opening there are the marks of weapons into the wooden framed entrance as well as week-old blood stains not too far inside. Riardon is able to discern the tracks of many different creatures, but clearly those of two of them are not more than a week old and appear to have been wearing heavy armor.

This matches the description of possibly Regdar and Tordek from what the mayor told them about the previous party he hired.

Skamos provides the party with a light cantrip, shining off of the helmet of Erais, and soon they descend down a long passage into the dark and foreboding mine. It is not long before they come across some overturned and slightly rusted mine carts as the hallway opens up into a room.

Suddenly from the other end of the room chattering breaks out in a strange language and small dragon-like creatures, better known as kobolds come bounding out, threatening the party with spears. It is Riardon who reacts first, but his senses are thrown off by the dank, claustrophobic walls of being in such an unfamiliar place underground and his arrow flies harmlessly into the darkness.

Everything is soon lost in the chaos of melee, but Skamos’s powerful sleep magic rings out as he intones mighty arcane incantations and suddenly the kobolds and Erais and Kathra find themselves slowed; one kobold and the cleric slumbering a few seconds thereafter.

Skamos attempts to initiate talks of peace and non-violence amongst his party members, but they will have none of it and insist kobolds are nothing more than vile creatures, to be crushed like an infestation of rodents. Kathra shakes her warhammer in emphasis, and soon after dispatching the initial room of kobolds, they are moving down the hallway to the next room, where more kobolds await and then the next where still more kobolds reside.

However, our party functions well as a team and they are soon coordinating attacks and manage to dispatch all opposition with relative ease, though some are forced to catch their breathe between encounters to shake off any minor inflictions from combat. The only major conflict looms when Skamos casts his light cantrip on the green hair of the Eladrin. Riardon refuses to take another step until the spell wears off or is removed. Seeing his tricks will carry no sway with the fey creature and wishing to explore further, Skamos targets the more affable Erais, who has resigned his helmet to be the guiding source of light for the party.

Trudging through one long tunnel after another, the party spies a large boulder lodged above them to the left, in a tunnel that slants at a downward angle. Letting Tira investigate, she is unable to determine if the boulder is a trap and eventually the party moves warily on.

Following the downward sloping tunnel for perhaps another 60 feet, they come into a room with a ledge running around half of it. They are beset upon by more kobolds, but acting quickly, most everyone is able to move well into the room before one of the kobolds releases the boulder in the hallway, which was indeed a trap. By the divine fortune of Erais’ faith, the boulder rolls to within inches of him before he leaps out of the way into a small puddle of water. While the wetness of the water offers only minor discomfort, the kobold’s Wyrmpriest appears, quickly sending a ball of lightning hurling towards Erais, who is not only seared by the arcane energies but takes additional damage from the conductive powers of the water.

Unfortunately for the Wyrmpriest, the fearsome dragon mask he wears does not deter the party. Between Riardon using his magical fey ability to transport himself on the top of the boulder, which had come to a stop against the far wall, granting him an unparalleled view of the kobolds, from which to unleash a deadly rain of arrows; to Kathra charging up the ramp and taking on the diminutive reptilians “up close and personal”, the foes are soon dispatched.

Tira claims the Wyrmpriest’s cloak as her own, the first magical item the party finds, it instantly resizes itself to fit her taller stature, but covers more of her form, much to Skamos’ dismay, though by this point he has begin to look at Kathra with a nod of his horns.

Noise from a room adjoining the ledge draws the party’s attention and they find a room containing half a dozen kobolds, laying among a floor full of rags and filth, covered in weeping sores and incapacitating boils. There is some discussion as to what to do with the helpless creatures, but while some claim an act of mercy and others justified manslaughter, the room is soon much quieter and filled with blood oozing from the prone reptile’s dead forms. By this point Skamos appears to have lost all peaceful intentions and has joined in the more violent approach that now has unanimous consensus among the party members.

[Kathra takes a moment, undisturbed by the disease ridden kobold corpses, to examine the silver veins in the wall. She determines a tidy sum could be mined, given the time and tools.]

The party has traveled far and engaged in much battle, but they press on, such is the urgency of their quest. Soon, traveling further in the dank depths, they come to a room featuring a 10’ deep pit in the middle and littered with bones. A preternatural heat emanates from the room.

Before anyone has time to decide a course of action, the bones rise from the ground and two warrior skeletons and one blazing skeleton attack! The weakened party fares poorly, with Erais mercilessly blasted by fiery orbs from the blazing skeleton and the warrior skeletons descending mindlessly on Kathra; her being the closest target.

In the seeming blink of an eye, Kathra lies unconscious, Erais is retreating down the hall and calling upon the healing power of his deity to soothe his blistering wounds and Tira purposefully falls into the pit to avoid the attacks of the two warrior skeletons. Skamos, still unwounded in the hallway outside of the room and Riardon, dancing nimbly around the room and unleashing with his bow, appear to be the parties only hope, but how long can they survive, outnumbered as they are?

It is then that Erais shakes off the doubting words echoing in his head, perhaps the sinister insinuation of some demon lord, that he is failing his fellow party members. Reaching deep inside himself he calls upon his god to grant one more boon and aid the fallen Kathra.

Kathra stirs quickly from the ground, brought back from death’s door. Calling upon her inner reserves, she revives herself even more. There is only one warrior skeleton left at this point, but it is quickly descending upon the injured Erais. Kathra calls out to her dwarven ancestors and lets go with a mighty swing of her warhammer, crashing through the skeleton’s skull and shaking its very malign existence until the animating energies give way and it falls into a pile of bones at the angry dwarf’s feet.

The party decides to make camp and rest to regain their strength, before exploring any farther or investigating the pit.

As the party takes their ease, another figure approaches the mine entrance. Who is this mysterious stranger that walks boldly alone in the midst of a night filled with undreamt terrors? Its shadow looms large in the light of the bright moon, but something about its stature seems odd. . .

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Prologue (part III)

In which the heroes learn a lesson of betrayal and lay downeth the smack.

Tira scrupulously searched the bodies of the dead hobgoblins, finding only a few silver coins in pouches attached to their belts. The party then moved into the ruined tower and discovers a stairway leading down, with torches spaced every 20 feet, casting shadowy reflections on the wall.

Descending into the earth, they travel down a level passageway from the stairs, which opens up about 100 feet later into a large room, with a 10 foot high ledge to the north. However, what most attracts the party’s attention is the hobgoblins in the room, who are taking active steps to assault the party members. The warcaster, having knocked a ladder to the ground, assaults the party from the vantage point of being on the ledge, while the soldier and archer hold them off from below.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on whether one is cheering for our protagonists or secretly wishing their demise, the hobgoblins are no match for the group’s well coordinated tactics, and are quickly dispatched.

Another “corpse search” by Tira gathers some more silver, but more importantly she is able to liberate a few shiny gold coins from the dead hobgoblin mage. The rest of the ledge is also searched, but other than a few loose rocks that glint promisingly in the torchlight, but turned out to be ordinary stones, there is not even the presence of a rat to disturb the underground gloom.

The party continues to follow the caverns deeper into the earth. All around them they find the supplies and refuse of the hobgoblins, but no further signs of the first party of adventurer’s. Soon they come upon a pair of large stone doors, worn smooth with age. However, the curious part is that the doors are closed and barred from their side, as if preventing access to the outside world; but to whom or what?

Some discussion takes place at this point and Kerig is closely questioned for insight into what this means, but he is unable to shed any light on the subject, as his tribe never went past this door. In fact, he seems visibly nervous at the party’s intention to continue further, but Skamos sternly enforces his cooperation and offer him a smoke to help mellow his nerves.

As the bar is lifted and cast aside with the joint grunting of Erais and Kathra, is it possible that more than the hobgoblin has misgivings about continuing past an obviously ominous sign? Where is the party’s shortest member, he who normally has no problems filling any room with the sound of his firm opinions; what has happened to Snúgel?

At the moment, though, no one is thinking to ask or perhaps noticing his absence as Kathra insists on following the hobgoblin down the stairs, who is protesting this course of action, but finds no relief from the dwarf’s strength, who forces him ahead of her.

Skamos takes a brief moment to intone a cantrip and Erais’ helm shines forth, once more, with a bright light, to replace the empty wall scones that line either side of the hallway.

The ornately carved steps lead into a rectangular chamber with walls so finely carved and barely touched by the passage of time, that Kathra lets out a low whistle of appreciation. Her attention is further gravitated towards the large pool of sapphire water, that commands the middle of the room. Under other circumstances, its waters might be inviting for a refreshing drink, were it not for the sudden chill that strikes each party member as a simultaneous shiver running down their spines.

Allowing no time to misunderstand this sensation, three skeletons rise to life. Two flank either side of the pool and wield rusty, but nonetheless dangerous looking longswords and the third, standing at the head of the pool, bursts into purple flames.

Kerig confirms his suspicions that his tribe was wise not to enter into this forbidden chamber, but nonetheless supports the party with arrow fire from the middle of the stairs. The more stalwart souls of the party confront the evil directly and this time, unlike their previous, near fatal battle with the undead, is an easy victory.

Having never heard of the idiom about cats and curiosity, Erais boldly plunges his right hand deep into the calm pool. He just as, if not more quickly withdraws it, as electricity arcs up his arm, sending a dangerous volt into his body and momentarily stopping his heart.

There may or may not be chuckling at this point, as a side passageway, leading further into the complex is entered, and the party departs the room with the pool, now littered with bones and fragments of bones.

Continuing down the forgotten halls, tablets scrawled with hieroglyphics from long forsaken religions, line the walls, creating a sense of unwanted intrusion. After an interminable time, the silence broken only by the steady rhythm of Kathra’s mailed feet against the stone floor, another set of stairs trails down into an expansive room.

Dominating the far side, three large stone statues of gargoyles leer from across a huge crack – a gaping wound in the earth that resemble the maw of a hungry giant, at least to Kerig’s overactive imagination.

Stepping cautiously into the room, Erais is the first to investigate the fearsome statues for any signs of animating magic. However, while the statues seem safe enough, as the cleric begins to call out that all is clear, he notices a wispy cloud created from his breath, as if outside on a brittle winter’s day.

Lurching from around the sides of the two end statues, a pair of gaunt humanoids shamble forward, each with tendrils of wintry smoke floating from their frames. The party sets into motion at this new menace.

They quickly realize these beings, obviously some form of undead, are mostly immune to the sting of their weapons and the proximity of their presence burns the skin with an arctic chill.

Tira, thinking quickly, calls upon the unseen forces she cavorts with in her dreams and one of the foul creatures is pulled into the gaping crack and swallowed from sight, no evidence of its existence escapes, not even a slight sound of the body hitting the bottom of the pit.

Kathra hews mightily at the remaining creature, but soon feels increasing frustration, as her mighty bone-shattering blows seem to have little effect on the foul enemy. Riardon, perhaps aided by his connection to the Fey Realm, strikes home with successive arrows that pierce the creature so deeply, even its unnatural resistance is forced to yield.

The combined might of the five adventurer’s and hobgoblin soon rob the corpse of its foul, animating energies and it lies motionless on the cool stone floor. Rubbing his hands together, Erais seeks to restore some warmth to his body, as he peers down the hallway that leads further into the unknown.

As the group heads down the northern exit, they find another desolate hallway, but not more than thirty feet down, Tira’s sharp eyes spy a pair of repeating crossbows, cleverly connected with a thin network of cables and lines, attached to various stones and plates on the floor. Pinned to the West wall, by several crossbow bolts, is the body of one of the zombie creatures. The half-elf sets to work and quickly has the trap disarmed.

The passageway eventually dead-ends into another pair of stone doors, but these appear to be barred from the opposite side. In a combined effort of stout, dwarven strength and human muscle, the doors are rushed and broken down, sending Kathra and Erais stumbling into the chamber beyond.

From a shadowy recess in the room a crossbow bolt flies over Kathra’s head and strikes the stone wall in a futile effort to damage it. Erais gasps as he spots a figure sitting in one corner of the room, shaking with the effort to hold the crossbow crooked in his arms. Skin hangs off of his gaunt form and his left foot is missing below the ankle, but his eyes light up when he gets a clear view of Erais’ holy symbol.

The man quickly introduces himself as Dallik Marzden, Kellin’s older brother. He relates a grim tail of heroism and betrayal. He explains how he came to the ruins countless days ago to rid it of the evil, only to find that the place itself was vile, saturating the walls like a black blood.

Verk turned on him, sticking a dagger into his back and throwing him inside, while barring the doors and leaving him to the horrors within. He goes on to explain, in a faltering tone, with frequent rests to gather his strength, that he cut his way down to his current position. However, it was not without great cost; a wound in his foot begin to fester and he had to cut it off. In addition, what meager rations he had were soon consumed and he believed a painful death from starvation welcomed him from the world.

“You have saved me, my friends.”

Erais administers what aid he can to the hobbled man and soon the party seeks egress from the foul place.

As the party comes back upon the room with the sapphire pool, a figure steps down the stairs. Cloaked in black and flanked by two grim and brawny men in mail coats, Verk looks up and down at the emaciated figure who accompanies the group.

“I have slain many men more worthy to breathe air than you, Dallik,” Verk spits out. “I foreswore you would not leave this crypt and now you shall know the truth of my word. My next appointment shall be with young Anette, she is in need of a true experience with pleasure.” The way Verk smirks with this last statement implies that the comely young barmaid will experience anything but pleasure at his hands.

Throwing off his cloak reveals a body of pale skin tattooed in swirling, black ink. Unwrapping a wicked spiked chain from around his waist, he begins to spin it with amazing dexterity. With a single word the two men with him rush to the attack!

Verk’s dances in and around the party, balancing effortlessly on the edge of the pool, lashing out with the long reach of his vicious weapon. His companions lay about with their maces. It appears to be a deadly encounter that will call upon the each adventurer’s deepest reserves of strength and will. Dallik slumps against the wall and lets out a sigh of acquiescence to his fate.

And yet, the group has faced more than a few horrors at this point and remains unimpressed by the speech or the melee capability of their foes. Kathra breaks bones, Riardon shoots two arrows as one, Erais calls forth a burst of divine radiance to sear his foes, Skamos sends magically conjured acidic arrows to eat away at his enemy’s flesh. But perhaps most terrifying of all is the dark dream Tira conjures in Verk’s mind, a figment so real he staggers about, losing all semblance of grace; what could possibly cause such intense fear in one so grim as him?

And so they lay downeth the smack and soon it is Verk and his cohorts who lie motionless on the floor. Dallik’s eyes light up at the carnage and he regards his new friends with an even greater degree of respect. Even Kerig seems to tremble slightly as he holsters his bow across his back.

Finally, emerging from the ruins, into the welcoming light of the sun, the adventurers find four men standing outside the decrepit tower. One of them in a large fur cloak turns. It is Kellin Marzden, looking very surprised to see everyone, but one in particular.

“My brother! You are alive!” gasps Kellin in astonishment.

“Pelor’s blessings to my new friends,” Dallik croaks out. “Your man Verk lies dead below.”

A distraught countenance briefly flickers over Kellin’s face. “He was my greatest weapon.”

“You betrayed me, brother,” Dallik retorts weakly. “I loved you and you left me in there to die.”

“You should have died. It was a hero’s death and your shadow would have left me. I could have become the man I was suppose to be. Now I will have to cut you open like one of our father’s pigs in front of the whole world to see.”

Kellin’s words are bold and he summons mighty strikes of lightning. The two heavily armored men with him wield halberds, using them to trip up their foes, while the last man flies into a berserk rage, wildly swinging his greataxe in deadly arcs.

The surprised heroes leap back into action, bereft of their mightiest powers; this could be a costly battle indeed. However, perhaps through the grace of destiny, or perhaps just because they have learned the art of how to lay downeth the smack, they carry through to another victory.

In the end, tears glisten in Dallik’s eyes as he holds his brother’s lifeless head in his lap. He looks up at the heroes.

“He tried to have me killed, but he was still my brother. I loved him. He was weak and foolish and full of vanity but he was my younger brother. I thank you for my life, my friends. You have done me great service and I shall never forget it. I do not know what will become of us or the mine but I will do my best to ensure you can always find a warm bed and a mug of fine ale.” “Now I have a woman to see. I don’t know if she’ll have me, but it is time I asked that barwench, Anette, to marry me. It was her smile that kept me alive in that dark place and your sword arms that brought me from it.” “My deepest gratitude, I am beholden to you all.”

Is there a subtle glimmer in Kathra’s eye as she hears Dallik speak of his true love? Could she be remembering her night of merriment with the burly dwarf, Baragas Guildhammer? Or maybe simple dwarven sense causes her to speak next.

“I’ve seen your mine and while you humans have done the best you could, it is clear to me that you are in need of some fine dwarven expertise to gild the mine’s true value.”

With Kathra’s decision to stay and help restart the mine, it is Riardon, normally content to speak only in combat, and then not with words but a deadly rain of arrows, who speaks next.

“I can stomach no longer this repugnant creature you would walk with and call friend.” He casts a stern glance in Skamos’ direction, who even now is reaching into his backpack for some hemp rope, with Kerig eagerly at his side. “Perhaps our paths will cross again and wisdom will have found you. For now, I have been too long from my home.”

In the blink of an eye Riardon disappears, stepping into a doorway, most likely to the Fey Realm, that only he can see.

The party now finds itself at half measure. Gone are Corrin (Snúgel to those who know him well) the fallen paladin, Kathra the epitome of dwarven femininity and Riardon, the otherworldly Eladrin. Remaining are Erais of the shining faith, Tira, whose dreams perhaps conflict with her pleasant features and Skamos, the follower of the Ways of the Pa, whose has for good or ill, converted the hobgoblin Kerig into an advent follower.

Resting overnight in town, Dallik approaches them next morning, eagerly assuring them they are always welcome in the hamlet, but some of the folks are beginning to speak up about the hobgoblin. Irrespective of their status as heroes, Kerig makes the population universally uneasy and it is hoped that one way or another; he will soon vacate the area.

Talking at some length amongst themselves, Erais, Skamos and Tira soon decide to continue the trail to find the original party that first entered the mines. Whether it is to glean possible wealth or rescue potentially living hostages or less fathomable reasons, they are soon off through the wilderness, with Kerig promising to lead them to his tribe’s main lair.

“Just follow the Pa, man,” Skamos directs him. “It will always take you where you need to be.”

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Prologue (part II)

Part Two (Prologue)

In which iconoclasm sheds tears thrice and a half and one comes late to the party..

In the country of Cormyr the Purple Dragon Knights stand not only as a symbol of strength, loyalty and protection, but also as inspiration to many a young boy or girl who imagines themselves one day proudly wearing the colors of one of the proudest traditions in all of Faerun.

However, the Purple Dragon Knights combat invading hordes, enemy countries such as reborn Netheril or Sembia and do not have time to trouble with one small community on its Southern edge, near an area known as The Pass of the Broken Beggar. A mining settlement that quickly burgeoned into a small village has been struck by a mysterious plague that first inflicted the elderly miners, incapacitating them with boils and red itchy sores, before sending them to an untimely grave. Now, some of the younger miners have become infected as well as a few townspeople and the situation has grown dire.

The village’s mayor put a call out to any adventurers or would be heroes to help the settlement’s plight. A band of stalwart adventurer’s, led by a human fighter, known as Regdar’s Roughnecks answered the call. Also in the band was a tough dwarf called Tordek, an Elven wizard named Mialee and a Halfling rogue journeyed with these heroes by the appellation of Lidda. They even had a secondary leader, a human cleric who people knew as Jozan.

Kellin Marzden, the mayor, was overjoyed. Surely such heroes as these would reach iconic status and go on to many famous adventures and bards would be singing of their exploits long after all had perished but Mialee, for her race gifted her with a long span of life.

Unfortunately, a week after the Roughneck’s departure from the village to investigate the mines, no word was heard, no single hero returned to give news of their fate and the village’s population continues to dwindle with each passing day, claiming more victims to the deadly, untreatable disease.

Desperate, Kellin put out another call, increasing the reward offered to a fistful of silver to any who would dare enter the mines and investigate the disappearance of the missing party as well as search for any clues as to the nature of the mysterious plague.

Into Eltheria comes a diverse group of adventurers, each hearing something in the call that speaks to them, whether the lure of riches, the possibility of fame, or perhaps to do a deed for good or other possibilities that lurk in their hearts, known only to them.

Erais, the Sunlord proudly proclaims his allegiance to the power of the sun and also shares with the other adventurers that this area has only been settled for a few short years, but has been prosperous, due to the silver mine. Before the humans came, hobgoblins lived nearby and would raid travelers going through the Pass of the Broken Beggar. In addition, Erais has heard stories from his church of a similar disease to the one Mayor Kellin described, but in a land outside of Eltheria and of further knowledge than that he was bereft.

Skamos Redmoon, clearly identifiable as a tielfing from his prominent horns and tail, smirks slyly during Erais’ telling, but is it due to some hidden knowledge or is he attempting to flirt with Tira Duskmeadow?

Tira Duskmeadow unequivocally caused a stir when she walked into town. Exuding confidence and capability, she is a force to be reckoned with, but some men can only focus on her abundant beauty, truly a divinely inspired mixing of the best traits in the elven and human racial genetics. However, it is rumored that her magical powers come not from years of learned study, but from a pact made with dark forces in the dead of night a top a lonely hill, silhouetted by a strangely twisted tree barren of all leaves and only a few scraggly branches that could appear to a weary traveler as claws reaching out to rip the very soul from one’s heart! And perhaps then again she is merely gifted with some ancient dragon’s bloodline that grants her magical gifts.

Certainly she restrains her temperament well, particularly with Skamos’ unwanted attention and even Erais having difficulty controlling his admiration of her abundant curves.

Curves of another sort attended Kathra Ironforge, the dwarven fighter who seemed to join the party to have a look at what a pathetic attempt the human’s mine would certainly be, in a futile desire to copy great dwarven craftsmanship. Her curves were mostly hidden beneath her suit of scale armor, except for the curves she left in the heads of enemies whose skulls were crushed in by her mighty warhammer.

Almost unseen due to his fey nature and quiet manner, Riardon Brightvale accompanies the party as the final member to join the quest. From the race of the Eladrin, this ranger’s bow shows much wear from hours of practice, most likely targeting those who would disrespect the purity of nature.

Eventually, our disparate party realizes the dwarf has had enough of their chatter and is marching off towards the mines. The rest quickly follow after, with Skamos leering after Tira and nearly discovering the deadliness of her eldritch blast.

At the mine’s opening there are the marks of weapons into the wooden framed entrance as well as week-old blood stains not too far inside. Riardon is able to discern the tracks of many different creatures, but clearly those of two of them are not more than a week old and appear to have been wearing heavy armor.

This matches the description of possibly Regdar and Tordek from what the mayor told them about the previous party he hired.

Skamos provides the party with a light cantrip, shining off of the helmet of Erais, and soon they descend down a long passage into the dark and foreboding mine. It is not long before they come across some overturned and slightly rusted mine carts as the hallway opens up into a room.

Suddenly from the other end of the room chattering breaks out in a strange language and small dragon-like creatures, better known as kobolds come bounding out, threatening the party with spears. It is Riardon who reacts first, but his senses are thrown off by the dank, claustrophobic walls of being in such an unfamiliar place underground and his arrow flies harmlessly into the darkness.

Everything is soon lost in the chaos of melee, but Skamos’s powerful sleep magic rings out as he intones mighty arcane incantations and suddenly the kobolds and Erais and Kathra find themselves slowed; one kobold and the cleric slumbering a few seconds thereafter.

Skamos attempts to initiate talks of peace and non-violence amongst his party members, but they will have none of it and insist kobolds are nothing more than vile creatures, to be crushed like an infestation of rodents. Kathra shakes her warhammer in emphasis, and soon after dispatching the initial room of kobolds, they are moving down the hallway to the next room, where more kobolds await and then the next where still more kobolds reside.

However, our party functions well as a team and they are soon coordinating attacks and manage to dispatch all opposition with relative ease, though some are forced to catch their breathe between encounters to shake off any minor inflictions from combat. The only major conflict looms when Skamos casts his light cantrip on the green hair of the Eladrin. Riardon refuses to take another step until the spell wears off or is removed. Seeing his tricks will carry no sway with the fey creature and wishing to explore further, Skamos targets the more affable Erais, who has resigned his helmet to be the guiding source of light for the party.

Trudging through one long tunnel after another, the party spies a large boulder lodged above them to the left, in a tunnel that slants at a downward angle. Letting Tira investigate, she is unable to determine if the boulder is a trap and eventually the party moves warily on.

Following the downward sloping tunnel for perhaps another 60 feet, they come into a room with a ledge running around half of it. They are beset upon by more kobolds, but acting quickly, most everyone is able to move well into the room before one of the kobolds releases the boulder in the hallway, which was indeed a trap. By the divine fortune of Erais’ faith, the boulder rolls to within inches of him before he leaps out of the way into a small puddle of water. While the wetness of the water offers only minor discomfort, the kobold’s Wyrmpriest appears, quickly sending a ball of lightning hurling towards Erais, who is not only seared by the arcane energies but takes additional damage from the conductive powers of the water.

Unfortunately for the Wyrmpriest, the fearsome dragon mask he wears does not deter the party. Between Riardon using his magical fey ability to transport himself on the top of the boulder, which had come to a stop against the far wall, granting him an unparalleled view of the kobolds, from which to unleash a deadly rain of arrows; to Kathra charging up the ramp and taking on the diminutive reptilians “up close and personal”, the foes are soon dispatched.

Tira claims the Wyrmpriest’s cloak as her own, the first magical item the party finds, it instantly resizes itself to fit her taller stature, but covers more of her form, much to Skamos’ dismay, though by this point he has begin to look at Kathra with a nod of his horns.

Noise from a room adjoining the ledge draws the party’s attention and they find a room containing half a dozen kobolds, laying among a floor full of rags and filth, covered in weeping sores and incapacitating boils. There is some discussion as to what to do with the helpless creatures, but while some claim an act of mercy and others justified manslaughter, the room is soon much quieter and filled with blood oozing from the prone reptile’s dead forms. By this point Skamos appears to have lost all peaceful intentions and has joined in the more violent approach that now has unanimous consensus among the party members.

[Kathra takes a moment, undisturbed by the disease ridden kobold corpses, to examine the silver veins in the wall. She determines a tidy sum could be mined, given the time and tools.]

The party has traveled far and engaged in much battle, but they press on, such is the urgency of their quest. Soon, traveling further in the dank depths, they come to a room featuring a 10’ deep pit in the middle and littered with bones. A preternatural heat emanates from the room.

Before anyone has time to decide a course of action, the bones rise from the ground and two warrior skeletons and one blazing skeleton attack! The weakened party fares poorly, with Erais mercilessly blasted by fiery orbs from the blazing skeleton and the warrior skeletons descending mindlessly on Kathra; her being the closest target.

In the seeming blink of an eye, Kathra lies unconscious, Erais is retreating down the hall and calling upon the healing power of his deity to soothe his blistering wounds and Tira purposefully falls into the pit to avoid the attacks of the two warrior skeletons. Skamos, still unwounded in the hallway outside of the room and Riardon, dancing nimbly around the room and unleashing with his bow, appear to be the parties only hope, but how long can they survive, outnumbered as they are?

It is then that Erais shakes off the doubting words echoing in his head, perhaps the sinister insinuation of some demon lord, that he is failing his fellow party members. Reaching deep inside himself he calls upon his god to grant one more boon and aid the fallen Kathra.

Kathra stirs quickly from the ground, brought back from death’s door. Calling upon her inner reserves, she revives herself even more. There is only one warrior skeleton left at this point, but it is quickly descending upon the injured Erais. Kathra calls out to her dwarven ancestors and lets go with a mighty swing of her warhammer, crashing through the skeleton’s skull and shaking its very malign existence until the animating energies give way and it falls into a pile of bones at the angry dwarf’s feet.

The party decides to make camp and rest to regain their strength, before exploring any farther or investigating the pit.

As the party takes their ease, another figure approaches the mine entrance. Who is this mysterious stranger that walks boldly alone in the midst of a night filled with undreamt terrors? Its shadow looms large in the light of the bright moon, but something about its stature seems odd. . .

View
Chapter One (part I)
In which kobolds earn some respect and Erais sees the light.

Two weeks of relentless travel finds Skamos, Tira, Erais, and Kerig worn and tired with the travels of the road. Fortunately dirt is not an issue they have to concern themselves with, as Skamos is able to keep everyone looking fresh, if not feeling so, with frequent uses of prestidigitation.

Eventually they find themselves on the East Way, between Arabel and Highmoon. Kerig assures them that they are near to his tribe, but the party votes on taking a detour to the nearby town of Winter Haven, where Erais knows of a childhood friend, Sister Linora who is now a devotee of Chauntea. Having promised to visit her should he ever come her way, Erais encourages the party that the detour could prove valuable, as his contact may be able to provide him some valuable information about the surrounding territories and help them decide if Kerig is truly leading them to his tribe out of service or with some ulterior motive to ambush them.

Even the amiable and trusting Skamos decides that a stop in a town would be a fine opportunity to replenish his dangerously dwindling supply of hemp rope.

It is late afternoon on the 13th day of travel when the party is feeling particularly weary and Skamos and Tira are engaging in their daily debate about whether Skamos has the energy to clean Tira’s clothing with magical means or if she should try and find a fresh pool of water for a quick dip, a course of action Skamos heartily encourages.

Just before Erais can interrupt the debate once more, usually ending it by offering Skamos some more of his hemp rope to clean the warlock, a small yelp breaks the otherwise peaceful surroundings.

Small, reptilian creatures with jutting, fanged snouts and small spears erupt from hiding places behind large boulders besides the road and tall grasses. Unable to maintain their patience, the creatures, easily recognizable as kobolds, nevertheless swarm the party before they are able to move into defensible positions. The creatures are small and weak, but what they lack in strength they make up in numbers; that and the fact that Skamos and Tira are poorly equipped to stand in melee combat gives the attackers the edge.

Things turn from bad to worse when additional kobolds emerge from hiding. These ones, carrying dragon scales fashioned into shields and wearing scale armor, move with more coordinate purpose and stand out with their dragonshields and viciously slashing longswords.

If their plight is not bad enough, there is yet another kobold, this one dressed in dark robes with his face covered by a mask fashioned in the shape of a dragon’s features. He stands far from combat and hurls deadly orbs of acid at whichever target catches his attention.

Just as it seems the worst of the situation has been encountered, a towering dragon-like humanoid appears on the road from the East. Dressed in plate armor and wielding a greatsword, it strikes a truly imposing image as its long shadow stretches the distance. If this is another ally of the kobolds, then the adventure will surely end here.

However, as the Dragonborn thunders down the road, his attacks are clearly aimed at the kobolds and the adventurers get their first sign that the battle is not entirely lost. Not lost indeed as Aldhelm, a dragon born paladin, as the party will find out after the battle, has a decided distaste for injustice and evil in whatever guise it attempts to parade itself.

Towering over the battlefield at 6’7” tall and weighing close to 300 pounds, this bronze-scaled, golden-eyed champion of Torm proudly proclaims his allegiance with a prominent holy symbol hung from a silver chain around his neck. Evil everywhere should shudder and speak in whispers, for justice has come and this type of justice will be served at the end of a greatsword.

However, the no one has time to contemplate this new turn of event for long as another figure appears on the road behind the dragonborn. This character, however, is not nearly so tall and moves with the silent but deadly grace of a black panther on the hunt. Armed with a crossbow and shortsword, the cloaked figure studies the situation in a brief scrutiny before unleashing bolts with deadly accuracy at the diminutive dragon-creatures.

Sardonyx will introduce himself after the battle and it will be discovered that he has been traveling with Aldhelm for the previous day, having joined forces upon learning of a common destination, to better ward off the dangers of the road. However, Aldhelm will have no further information to offer about the mysterious half-elf, even with more than a day of acquaintance.

Still, even with the addition of two new allies, the party is feeling the pressure of the shifty kobolds, as they dance around in combat and coordinate strategies in their strange, draconic tongue, which only Aldhelm, of the heroes, is able to understand.

Even then it provides little good, as knowing the shifty humanoids are going to jump behind one and start stabbing is no help when they are able to avoid attacks in their sly movements.

It is then that one more makes their presence known. Coming from the forest northwards of the battle is a small figure familiar to some. Snúgel! Yes, the fallen paladin of Tymora has through fortuitous circumstance come upon the party at a time when they are in need of allies.

Unfortunately, even with the heroes’ number doubled, the kobolds prove difficult foes to defeat. At one point Aldhelm lies bleeding on the road and Tira, atop a nearby rock, lies not only dying but burning from a wicked firepot a kobold slinger slung at her. It is into this dire circumstance that brave Erais offers himself up as target to the kobold dragonshields, hoping to protect his fellow party members and makes the ultimate sacrifice, as both of his kidneys are punctured simultaneously by the small but sharp longswords and he falls into Lathander’s embrace.

Fortunately, a human comes racing in at this point and clambers up the rock to minister to Tira. His identity remains a mystery for the moment, but his actions clearly speak of benevolence, as he restores the warlock to consciousness.

Eventually it is just the lone wyrmpriest, who breathes acid over the valiant paladin, who seeks to halt his escape. However, it is Aldhelm who prevails in the end, breathing his own acidic breath on the kobold as it seeks to escape, burning its flesh into death, with the very energy that it used to harm so many in life.

Finally the battle is over and everyone is able to take stock of the situation. The dragonborn introduces his other traveling companion, Gevarn, an acolyte of Chauntea. It turns out that Aldhelm has been doing his Penance of Duty at a church of Chauntea and befriended Gevarn to the point where he offered to accompany him on the road when he learned of a terrible plight.

It seems that Sister Linora, a cleric of Chauntea, residing in the town of Winterhaven, has uncovered a secret cult of Shar operating in the town. Unfortunately her mystical visions have not led her to any identities and she asked Gevarn to come and help her root out whoever may be involved.

Picking up the body of their fallen comrade, Gevarn assures the downcast adventurer that Sister Linora has access to a powerful ritual, which should be able to help with bringing Erais back to the living. While the ritual is expensive, a princely sum of 500 gold pieces, Gevarn feels that the donations he has received for the church will be better spent on reviving Erais that he may help in the effort to root out the evil cult.

It is also decided that for his own protection or the protection of others, depending on your perspective, Kerig will be put in chains and taken into town as a prisoner. In fact, Aldhelm will not even travel with the party unless the hobgoblin is securely manacled.

The town of Winterhaven stands as a small point of light in an otherwise hostile world. The walled village has two guards posted at the gate. They briefly question the adventurer’s, being particularly concerned about the hobgoblin, even with it being in chains. However, they then recognize Snúgel, who it appears as been staying in Winterhaven. Based on his assurances, they allow admittance to the town.

Quickly making their way to Wrafton’s Inn, they use Snúgel’s friendly greeting to the owner, Salvana Wrafton, to acquire enough rooms for everyone and quickly move the hobgoblin to Skamos’ room, where he is locked inside.

Gevarn and Aldhelm take Erais’ body to the temple dedicated to Chauntea, where Sister Linora, after initially being distraught over seeing her old friend Erais’ lifeless form, quickly sets about preparing the long ritual to bring him back to the living, should his soul be willing.

The rest of the party gathers in the inn’s common room and are kept well supplied with drink and merriment by Salvana, a comely, friendly human woman and her busy staff of waiters and waitresses.

In addition to several farmers from the outlying farms, including Eilian the Old, one of the town’s long time residents and a historical buff as well as someone who touts the longevity supplying effects of his prize oxen’s musk, there are a few other patrons of note.

Valthrun the Prescient is a learned sage and scholar who occupies the 5 story tower that dominates the center of town, enjoys a glass of wine from among Salvana’s finest selections.

Ninaran, a local elven trapper and hunter, spend her time drinking alone in a corner and does not seek to join in the festivities.

And then there is Lord Ernest Padraig, the Lord of Winterhaven, descended from the noble family that ruled the area under the area under the edict of the old empire of Cormyr. He is greeted with respect by all in attendance, many doffing their hats and calling him Lord, before he finds a table and enjoys a beer.

Through more than a few drinks and conversation it is discovered that Winterhaven has been experiencing more frequent and bold attacks by kobolds in the last few months. Speaking directly with Lord Padraig, they come to understand his frustration with the citizenry’s lack of willingness to make a concerted effort to eradicate the draconic vermin.

They will gather in the town to protect themselves against any major incursions but are unwilling to venture forth into the wilderness. The ten members of the town’s guard, the Winterhaven Regulars are not enough for Lord Padraig to lead into the wilds and besides, that would leave the town completely undefended.

Hearing the hero’s dispatching of the kobolds on they way to town, an agreement is quickly reached and the Lord offers the group 100 gold pieces and the right to keep whatever loot they find in the kobold’s lair, even if it is the former property of Winterhaven’s villagers. Deep into his cups, Snúgel also offers insight into his disappearance. Having lost his way, feeling despondent in his service to Tymora and feeling twisted by the call of her dark sister, Beshaba, he felt his further accompaniment with the adventurer’s was only a burden to them and he left to find his way again.

Proudly holding up his left arm, he shows off the wooden “hand” that has him now walking firmly the path of Torm. He connects with Aldhelm over their mutual dedication to two deities of the well-known trio.

Soon the only sound in the inn is the varied slumbering noises of the inn’s guests. Morning comes too early for some and not for others, who choose to ignore the sun’s proclamation of a new day.

One who is not ignoring the light is Erais. Striding into the tavern, there is something definitely different about him. His soul’s sojourn has left him forever more touched and Lathander has imprinted upon him in the bright silver of his formerly bronze colored armor.

Veritably he seems to shine; having experienced the close embrace of Lathander’s cleansing light. He does acknowledge that he is a bit stiff from his recent demise and may not be as fully functional in combat for a short time, as he adjusts to being back in the world again.

His return is embraced warmly and soon the party has eaten their full and the late risers have risen and eaten and everyone decides to stop off by Bairwin’s Grand Shoppe before assaulting the kobolds in their lair, in search of any supplies that may be helpful in their endeavor.

Bairwin Wildarson turns out to be a wildly colorful character who parades forth a never-ending supply of unusual items. A gilded urn used by none less than the Obaskyrs themselves, a pipe made from genuine Chondathan wood – smoked by a failed apprentice of Elminster, a longsword scabbard that belonged to a captain in the 5th regiment of the Purple Dragon Knights and so on and so forth, until the party is able to ignore the more exotic offerings and equip themselves with the mundane supplies that will actually be useful to them on the road.

Not far down the East Way, a kobold ambush erupts and the party is once again set upon by the scaled pests. This is another hard fought battle and while the party is able to overcome the diminutive dragon creatures, Kerig comports himself poorly and his bow seems to release one arrow in vain after another.

Everyone takes stock of themselves after the battle. Aldhelm holds firm in his position to not travel with the party while the hobgoblin is unfettered, but will continue to keep his distance. Erais also seems to share this view and offers to travel with Aldhelm out front.

The only decision that remains is whether they feel up to continuing on to the kobold lair or turning back and sleeping off their bruises in Winterhaven and continuing on in the morning.

View
Chapter One (part II)
In which we learn that divided we fall, united we stand.

To return to Winterhaven or to continue, in the end, turns out to be no decision at all, as these heroes are stalwart and brave and will not let this menace harm another innocent life while they take their ease in a comfortable tavern.

After a half day’s travel the adventurers come upon the majestic waterfall as Lord Padraig described it. If anything, though, the beauty of the water tumbling and crashing from dizzying heights into the river below is more amazing than any verbal description could possibly hope to attest; truly, a paradox that such beauty could hide such evil.

Aldhelm is of a mind to charge through the obscuring trees and mete out the unwavering justice of Torm when Snúgel catches a glimpse of movement through the trees. He quickly shares his perception with the party and is able to hold in abeyance any direct assault by appealing to his party’s sensibilities.

It is then that Sardonyx offers to scout ahead and get a sense of the size of the force opposing them. Moving like a panther, he stealthily approaches the trees, almost disappearing from sight to his own party members, even though they are watching his approach.

‘CRACK’

Inconceivably a loud noise suspiciously like a small tree branch being broken in half erupts from the otherwise peaceful nature glade. Everyone reflexively look looks at the towering Dragonborn, but he has not moved from his spot. Kerig is next to be greeted by glances but he too is standing stalk still. In descending order in rapid succession Erais and Skamos and Tira and finally even small Snúgel are all seen to not have moved from their spot.

Before any further visual investigation can be made the sounds of shrieking and twittering break through the trees, the familiar noise of kobolds calling to each other in draconic battle cries and combat ensues.

The chaos of melee and fighting through the obscuration of the trees precludes too much observation of individual accomplishments, but at one point Erais lights up the forest with the Divine Glow of his faith to Lathander. In addition, one of the kobolds slings stones and small wooden casks containing special kobold unguents. What mysterious contents could be contained within is quickly revealed as Aldhelm is blasted with one of the small casks. As the wood splinters harmlessly, a milky-white mucus like substance splatters across Aldhelm’s scales and he finds himself rooted to the ground by a super adhesive alchemical concoction. Growling in frustrated rage, he shoots the diminutive reptiles with his crossbow until he can pull himself free and wield his much more damaging greatsword.

The main fighting takes place around a magically glowing circle, from which the kobolds are led by one wearing scale armor and wielding a longsword and obviously in command of more military training than the rabble that surround him. However, Tira notices that one kobold hangs outside of the fray, closer to the waterfall. Her suspicions aroused she pursues the lone humanoid and harangues him with the Curse of the Green Fairie, which expands his blood vessels and constricts his heart. Having weakened his defenses against her psychic assault, her eye flashes a malevolent maelstrom of colors as she sends rivulets of pain streaming down his body and she disappears before his tearing eyes, though to everyone else she is clearly visible.

Tira’s vicious assault pays off as the stumbling kobold is unable to escape into the waterfall and warn the other kobolds inside of the pending danger, before its life is snuffed out.

Having dispatched all of the kobolds in a melee of carnage, the party discusses strategy about how to best assault the lair. Snúgel decides to climb a nearby tree to get a better vantage point and potentially gather some information from a visual survey.

Aldhelm listens impatiently and after 5 minutes of various plans being discussed, he marches off before anyone can think to stop him to have a word with the kobolds inside himself. Whether he is thinking to parlay in friendship or call them out into combat, none can say, though Erais does think to tag along about 20 feet behind the Dragonborn.

Once inside the lair Aldhelm is confronted by over a dozen kobolds, brandishing pointy spears and jabbering at him, fortunately, in draconic, a language they have in common. However, it is not hostilities they are shouting and neither are they pointing their spears at Aldhelm. Rather, they are pointing their spears past Aldhelm where Erais stands just inside the cave entrance.

“Did you bring us food? He does not look too big, but a stew with mushrooms and tree leaves to season would be much better with some human meat!”

A general chorus of agreement springs up.

Erais, hearing the cheering starts to move in closer, assuming a peaceful accord has been reached, when Aldhelm holds up his arm, halting him and roars something back at the kobolds. They momentarily cower and Aldhelm bellows out again, but this time in common, so that Erais and equally important, everyone waiting outside can hear and understand.

“Come in and in the name of Torm bring your weapons!”

The next 18 seconds is a blur of rushing feet. Spears, sling stones flying and the collective magical and martial might of our heroes meeting the scaly defenses of the kobolds. The ground both inside and outside of the cave is stained with blood from both sides. Just as the party is beginning to think they have things well in hand, with only 3 puny kobolds left, they hear noise coming from deeper within the cave. Two of the elite fighters the party has come to call dragonshields come thundering out, swords drawn. In addition, two of their religious figures or wyrmpriests as they have been given the moniker of are accompanied by 3 more scampering kobold spear wielders. The worst has not been seen as a goblin comes all alone from the West end of the cave. His casual manner belies no hint of fear or panic. The way he holds his sword allows no mistaking that it is a well honed relationship between weapon and wielder.

This can only be the dreaded Irontooth, the legendary leader of the kobold’s depredations against the innocent farmers outside of Winterhaven. This is the real enemy, the real danger and threat against which the group’s mettle will be tested.

The nervous glances of the party members are broken up as Sardonyx, unaware of the entrance he is interrupting, comes splashing through the waterfall that hides the main opening to the cave, in pursuit of a retreating kobold. However, it is not the soft splashing that draws everyone’s attention but the loud rumble in the ceiling above them.

Looking up, it is impossible to tell from his enigmatic expression what might exist in his mind at this moment. In fact, for the brief time that Sardonyx has been with the party his expression never seems to change, whether eating trail rations or deftly slipping his shortsword in the kidney of whomever seeks to be so foolish as to oppose him.

No more time for pondering the rogue’s inscrutable thoughts is allowed, though, as the ceiling in a 15’ x 11’ area begins to collapse, raining down rocks on Sardonyx, Erais, and Snúgel. The twittering kobolds appear to be laughing as their trap is perfectly sprung. The ceiling continues to rain down heavy rocks for another quarter of a minute, but everyone is wise enough to stay clear of the deadly hail of stones.

In the continuing struggle against Irontooth the question of the group’s mettle is more than answered. Snúgel pulls out all stops and whirls a dagger with such deadly accuracy it strikes Irontooth square in his brow, half-buried in his skull and leaking so much blood into his eyes that he is temporarily blinded. Not to be outdone, Skamos utters powerful mystical incantations and conjures a flaming sphere of fire that he uses to great effect against the goblin who can feel his flesh being burned even though he cannot see more than a blurry haze of fire through his blood drenched vision.

The vaunted martial capabilities of Irontooth are never truly revealed as a collective effort is made to end his life if in not a necessarily painless manner, nonetheless very quick. Unfortunately, this collected effort leaves Skamos and Kerig pinned against a wall when the two dragonshields choose them as their targets and begin to mercilessly coordinate well aimed sword thrusts into soft flesh. Fortunately, before Skamos can begin to wish Kerig’s soul fortune in wending its way through the Astral Sea, Snúgel expertly hurls a dagger at one of the dragonshields before it can surely end Kerig’s life, as he sags, undefended against the wall; the grievousness of his injuries having finally taken their toll. Yet still the kobold does not fall but with a last second mental effort Skamos brings the sphere of flame crashing into the scaly soldier to burn the last of his vitality from him, saving his friend from expiration.

While surely Tira would enjoy lending her occult powers to slaying an Irontooth or dragonshields, she finds herself outside the cave during this time, harried by two weaker members of the lair’s inhabitants and yet they manage to expertly wield their spears and with a never ending attack of their spear points she finds herself being brought close to death without the aid of any of her party members to intercede in the close combat. A most ignominious end looms; one versed in strange pacts with supernatural creatures from the Feywild to be brought low by two kobold runts, who, when not fighting, are surely given the most menial tasks of the lair’s maintenance.

Sardonyx surely too would have taken more pleasure in helping Aldhelm, Erais and Snúgel end Irontooth’s life as well as that of one of the wyrmpriests, but instead finds himself under the fiery assault of the second wyrmpriest, who is not only sending small but deadly balls of flame crashing into him but also using some of the weaker kobolds, or minions, as a buffer between himself and the rogue’s deadly blade.

The next succession of seconds are further chaos and harrowing moments of death hovering over the heroes like a vulture over prey. Snúgel runs off deeper into the cave, as he would later explain, looking for a magical weapon to aid the party in the battle. Aldhelm is still distracted by trying to catch a wyrmpriest who gives ground while sending orbs of fire blasting into the holy warrior’s imposing form.

The other sly wyrmpriest continues to use his minions to harry Sardonyx while he seeks to escape from the Eastern side entrance. Unfortunately, this brings him face to face with Tira, whom he mercilessly blasts with fire until her beautiful but ragged form sinks to the scorched grasses at her feet.

Not a moment later Sardonyx comes leaping from the same exit, having dispatched the minions. He gives pursuit on the fleeing kobold, but like a cornered wildcat it attacks with another orb of flame that catches Sardonyx squarely and sends him falling into the water.

Aldhelm is next to make his appearance from the cave and with a mighty roar he pursues the fleeing wyrmpriest, but it quickly becomes apparent his protective but heavy plate will prevent him from catching up to the vile villain.

Following on the footsteps of the mighty paladin, Skamos and Kerig make their appearance, futilely loosing magical missiles and arrows on the vanishing form of the kobold shaman.

A loud shriek is heard from within the cave finds Snúgel running out, holding his head and incoherently jabbering about some magical trap that is assaulting his senses. A moment later he shakes off the effect and quickly assesses the situation. Two team members fallen and the creature responsible is slipping away down the hillside, darting between trees at a pace that Aldhelm, bellowing and giving chase cannot hope to gain ground on and with such a head start that even the fleet halfling will not be able to catch up before he could disappears in the foliage.

Taking a desperate gamble, Snúgel grabs his crossbow and lets loose with a bolt that finds its way true, striking right below the leathery strap that holds the draconic mask in place on the small creature’s head and buries itself into his brain; robbing him of any further heartbeats, breathe and most importantly, the ability to use his faith to conjure any more burning spheres.

Finally, Skamos kneels down near Tira as she prepares to utter her final breathe. Though he has no formal training in healing, the tiefling is able to staunch the flow of her wounds, binding them with the holy hemp rope of The Pa, which he imbues with a quickly worded prayer.

And so, the heroes gather themselves together and understand that together they conquered the threat and separately they were in danger of succumbing to the spectre of death. Truly, united they stand, divided again they risk failure; a failure which would imperil the lives of uncountless innocents lives, as so few heroes stand to combat the ever encroaching darkness that threatens to snuff out the tiny points of light. However, on this day, having defeated kobolds both outside and inside the waterfall lair, the score stands at Heroes 2, kobolds 0.

View
Chapter One (part III)
In which we learn of Erais’ penchant to leap before he looks.

The next step for the party was to thoroughly explore the kobold’s cave, to not only make sure that no more of the diminutive reptilian are lying in ambush as well as to see what treasure they can acquire.

A chest is the only thing of value amidst the filth and debris that makes up a normal kobold lair. It is quickly unlocked and the party finds not only a wealth of gold but a suit of magically enhanced plate armor, which is given to Aldhelm as he is the only member proficient in the use of wearing such heavy armor and fighting effectively in battle.

Discussion next breaks out of the party’s next move. Snúgel proposes heading north to the Keep on the Shadowfell, eager to plumb its depths for lost treasure or perhaps route out any monstrous threat lurking inside, or perhaps both or neither, for with the jovial Halfling it is often challenging to understand his motivations.

However, Sardonyx also strongly speaks up about wanting to investigate the dragon graveyard. He is particularly intent on following up on the rumors he heard in town of a man named Douven Staul who supposedly went in search of a dragon’s treasure in a dragon’s graveyard. Why Sardonyx is so interested in this man is another mystery that the grim, tightlipped mercenary does not divulge to any of his traveling companions.

Eventually the half-elf wins the day and the party decides to set out for the dragon graveyard. However, even Skamos, reluctantly agrees that Kerig is in no condition to travel. His constitution is not made of the heroic mettle that the party members possess and he is still sorely wounded from the battle with the kobolds. Having assured themselves that there are no further inhabitants of the cave, the decision is made to leave Kerig in the cave hideout.

The next few hours passes uneventfully and soon the party comes upon the site of a great excavation. A gnome, surrounded by some burly and rough looking humans, stands in the bottom of a great depression in the ground.

He waves in a friendly manner for everyone to reach and clearly appears excited about something. As everyone gets closer they also notice that there are two creatures on guard that look like a cross between a large dog and a dinosaur. However, as everyone approaches the creatures, while clearly on guard, do not attack. There also are two Halflings standing on opposite ends and on ground above the pit. The gnome quickly introduces himself as Agrid and explains the Halflings are on watch as they’ve had some problems with small raiding parties of kobolds and goblins.

“Out this far in the middle of nowhere you can’t let your guard down for one minute,” he says with a wink.

After introductions are made Agrid explains that they have just discovered the bones of a dragon and are very excited at this first tangible evidence that there is some veracity to the claims of a dragon’s graveyard.

Sardonyx inquires about Douven and Agrid readily admits that he’s been working with him and that Douven went out to explore the surrounding area, as he is want to do, but should be back before morning.

As the tight-lipped but ruggedly handsome rogue is digesting this news, Agrid invites everyone to stay for lunch and have some of his special stew. He sends one of the halfings on watch to a tent to put it together. Snúgel, who claims is own culinary curiosity, follows his fellow halfling, even though he insists it is not necessary.

Snúgel’s curiosity gets the better of him and he notices that there are two tents staked out and after the halfling goes into one of them, Snúgel peers into the other one, where he spies the bound and gagged form of a human male.

Things quickly descend and combat ensues. The vicious dinosaur dogs, or guard drakes as they are better known, swarm Aldhelm and bite him so fiercely and with such mutual savagery that he is quickly down on the ground, bleeding his life blood out.

It looks grim for the party for a flurry of seconds, until they are able to coordinate their actions and bring the pain to their newest enemy. Aldhelm is saved none too soon by a quickly worded prayer from Erais and he does not hesitate to charge the tricky gnome, who has taken the opportunity to hide in some bushes and snipe the rest of the party.

After the dust settles Douven is untied and in a joyful moment gives his magical amulet to Sardonyx, after removing his wife’s pictures.

“Glad am I to see you, old friend. We have much to talk about.”

While Sardonyx and Douven quietly talk with each other, the rest of the group scavenges through the remains and discovers three things. One, the skeletal remains of the dragon that has been uncovered is a juvenile at best, and could not possibly be the mighty beast that is said to rest here. Two, there are papers from Agrid to Baird, the eccentric shop owner, clearly linking to two in a secret cult to Shar, mistress of the night. Three, in addition to a mirror that Agrid uncovered which appears to be important to Baird, the gnome is wearing magical leather armor that Snúgel appropriates, as he is the only member who it will fit without resorting to a ritual to resize it.

The trip back to town is made with haste, after a quick stopover to check on Kerig, to make sure for some that he has not gone marauding out in the country side and for Skamos to make sure no wild beasts have made a meal and an end to his first disciple of the mysterious Pa.

Kerig is found much as they left him, happily reclining on a pile of smelly furs and munching on the remains of something from the kobold larder that is best left to the imagination, or better yet, left to not thinking about.

Everyone, having satisfied themselves that Kerig is going nowhere and will need at least one more day of rest, sets off for town. Though the party is clearly in need of rest, having taxed themselves sorely during the battle at the dragon graveyard, there is one among them who cannot stomach the knowledge he has of an evil cult, dedicated to no less than Shar, ‘Lady of Loss’, ‘Nightsinger’, or sometimes ‘The Darkness’.

Yes, it is the shining light of faith that burns brightly in Erais’ heart that is deaf to his companion’s protestations of more rational courses of action, such as reporting the news of a cult leader to the town’s authorities or waiting until morning, after they have had a chance to rest and recuperate from the day’s earlier battle.

No, Erais marches boldly into Wildarson’s Grande Shoppe and Emporium and boldly confronts him.

Bairn takes one look at the menacing cleric and bolts out the back of the shop, through a door that gives entrance to a flight of descending stairs. Erais pursues and Aldhelm is close on his heels and then Skamos and Tira follow.

Snúgel glances over at Sardonyx and they simultaneously shrug their shoulders.

“Perhaps we should take a quick look around up here before we venture below?”

“Yes, never know what of value we might find among all this junk.”

Twelve seconds later the pair have discovered a potion of healing sitting in the bottom of a large metal tub, inscribed with “Tarrasque Feeding Trough”, on its side.

However, while the opportunistic half-elf and halfling are rummaging about upstairs, Erais and friends in tow have discovered a most disturbing sight.

A secret room below appears to be a small church, complete with a shrine and wooden pews and a long carpet embroidered with several black disks with deep purple borders. However, more disturbing than the obvious symbol of Shar etched into the rug is Baird, standing at the back of the room near the altar, no longer cavorting about with a wide grin on his face, but looking most menacing and dark. More disturbing than that are the two humans clothed in dark robes and peering out from their hoods with eyes lacking all but the barest hint of pupils.

Last, the most disturbing part of all are the two shadowy humanoid figures that each carries a wickedly sharp scythe, like two ghostly grim reapers. They soundlessly approach the party, moving in unison down the carpet, highlighted only dimly by the purple candlelight that suffuses the room. . .

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Chapter One (part IV)
In which we learn all that glitters is not gold.

The cult leader Wildarson calls out to the party in jest and entreats them to regret their impulsivity. His faith and belief in Shar is complete and he sees only doom for our intrepid adventurers.

Battle is engaged and Aldhelm bravely storms to the front to confront the cult leader, but he is beset upon by the human acolytes who quickly flank him from either side and stab him mercilessly, even as he lays about with his greatsword, bring him to the floor.

Erais is in no better position, being backed into a corner by one of the wraith-like figures. However, he quickly realizes that these are not undead creatures, but creatures of shadow and his divinely granted powers of Lathander will not be able to turn them as it could rotting creatures of the grave.

The rest of the party is either boxed in the back of the room by the remaining wraith or chooses to not enter any farther. Though Tira and Sardonyx and Snúgel and Skamos bring their powers to bear, the enemy appears to be barely affected by their combined might. Things go from bad to worse when Wildarson begins to invoke the dark powers at his command and starts to blind people.

Grim indeed is the situation, the party separated are starting to fall and it appears that Baird’s faith in Shar will be richly rewarded this night. However, just when things seem darkest Alhelm stirs from the shadows of death, with the faith of Torm infusing his form he rises from the ground and rejoins the battle in deadly earnest!

Quickly the tide of battle is turned and the party yet again triumphs over evil.

As everyone takes a moment to catch their breath and shake off the effects of the battle, a thorough search is made of the room. A hidden door is found and after much hesitation and concern it is finally opened to find not more guardians but a simple repository of shelves containing many dark hymnals as well as a chest with 200 silver pieces and 100 gold pieces.

“Don’t be forgetting our charity fund,” Snúgel reminds everyone as his eyes glitter at the sight of so much unguarded wealth.

“And let us not forget the danger that still lies ahead,” Erais intones, picking up a scroll from the top of one of the shelves, he unrolls it to find a message written thereon, directed to Baird Wildarson.

It is a promise of great reward for Baird with his latest shipment of supplies being sufficient until the ritual is complete to release Shadraxil from his prison. Apparently Wildarson was just the tip of the iceberg and far greater evil lies in the Keep on the Shadowfell!

Oh, and lest we forget, what is Kerig up to, left all alone at the kobold’s lair? What are those blood splatters on his hand from and what is that glittering in the moonlight? Could he have gone raiding into the human farms dotting the countryside? Could he have abducted young children from their beds, after savagely murdering their parents? Could he have taken what meager savings the families had, their few pieces of silver, perhaps a gold coin here or there? Will the more faithful members of the party ever be able to forgive themselves if they left an evil, murdering hobgoblin alone in the wilds?

No, breathe a sigh of relief. The glitter is merely the winking light of glowworms crawling along the cave wall and the blood Kerig’s own as he uses his fist to smash the small bugs into paste and then scrape them off the wall for a delicacy that only a hobgoblin could appreciate.

In fact, if one listens closely, they could hear Kerig gently humming to himself.

“The Pa is mighty, mighty is the Pa. I follow Skamos and Skamos follows the Pa.”

With that, he takes another long inhalation from his burning hemp rope, but it remains to be seen if this once savage beast has truly been converted or merely temporarily sedated with the narcotic effects of hemp and the faith of the wizard.

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Chapter One (part V)
In which Snúgel finds a dagger in the throat is better than two in the boots.

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.

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Chapter One (part VI)
In which comic relief is given a Dirty Harry style of treatment.

Waking in the morning, everyone girds their armor and grabs their weapons and prepares for whatever foes my yet lurk in the dark Keep on the Shadowfell. Approaching another door, Snúgel opens it, after carefully ascertaining there are no traps, only to be shot square in the shoulder with a bolt by a goblin hiding behind a table.

Squeals of joy are mixed in with grunts of pain and Snúgel slams the door short. A quick but heated argument ensues about the best direction to take with this latest threat of more goblin foes. It is quickly decided to open the door and return fire at the goblins.

Unfortunately, the goblins proved adept at using the two tables in the room for cover to hide the direction of their shots; thus our heroes have more difficulty protecting their vital areas. A ranged combat ensues; with both sides giving and receiving damage, but the goblins definitely seem to be having the best of it, using the tables to hide themselves from return fire as well as to attack more effectively.

Less than half a minute of this occurs before Snúgel, almost as if guided by an unseen hand, boldly runs into the room, to stop the maddening game of hide and seek. Unfortunately, he is caught by two deadly bolts as he goes dashing in and hovers on the brink of falling unconscious from so much blood loss and exhaustion. It is then that he notices the Iron Maiden and Rack and the unpleasant realization crosses his mind that if he falls here it will not be a quick death that awaits him, but undoubtedly resuscitation followed by gruesome torture.

It is then that the peril grows even more dire, as one of the goblins runs over and slams the door and locks it; the rest of the party on one side and the injured halfling alone, in a room full of armed and dangerous goblins, along with a larger hobgoblin in leather armor, who grabs two iron pokers from a hot fire.

Sardonyx is able to quickly set to work on unlocking the door, allowing the remaining party to again engage the goblins in ranged combat, but the same goblin quickly runs over and slams and locks the door again.

It is at this point, with Snúgel facing certain death, that the pluckiness of this diminutive fellow, who boasts of genetic abnormalities, may actually be proven true. Summoning up reserves of courage, he shakes off his light-headedness and consumes a magical elixir that quickly mends together the worst of his wounds as well as stopping the bleeding.

To make matters worse for the goblins, Tira unlocks the door, in an amazing display of manual dexterity and this time the rest of the party come charging into the room, to make quick work of the goblins without their tables to hide behind. They are even able to take down the hobgoblin torturer, who futilely attempts to make impromptu brands on the scales of Aldhem with the hot pokers.

It is then discovered that another goblin yet exists, this one locked up in a prison cell. He hastily identifies himself as Splug and entreats the party to release him, promising guided tours, the location of a well-hidden fine bottle of wine as well as, if need be, serving as a porter.

Aldhelm, quickly suspicious, questions the reason for his incarceration. Splug attempts to weave a flimsy tale of wrongful accusations, but the paladin’s sense of truth quickly penetrates the falsehood and Splug is forced to reveal that he tricked the other goblins one too many times out of their ale rations and other deeds of minor mischief.

Taking no chances, even with a cadre of six well-armed and armored adventurers, Aldhelm orders the goblin to hold his wrists out to be securely bound. It is only after he has tied the small humanoid’s wrists and ankles together that he unlocks the cage door.

The goblin attempts to engage in conversation with promises of value to the party, but the Dragonborn quickly orders silence and throws the trussed up prisoner over his shoulder.

The party ventures further into the dungeon and comes to a set of stairs leading into utter darkness. Splug’s gag is momentarily removed so he can be questioned about this area. He claims ignorance, having been told to not venture into this part of the dungeon and was only too happy to oblige.

Observing his genuine fear, Aldhelm believes the shuddering goblin is telling the truth. However, being cut from a more bold cloth, the paladin carries the goblin down the stairs and quickly refastens his gag so as to not hear his protestations that they would benefit from a look-out, even a hog-tied look-out, at the top of the stairs.

Even though Erais breaks out a sunrod, to shine the glory of Aumanautor into the darkness, the utter void of light seems to only begrudgingly give way to the intruders. In fact, everyone feels a cold chill in the damp air, as if nothing has disturbed this area for many decades.

Traveling the corridors with caution, they come upon a mystic symbol engraved on the floor taking up an entire ten foot section of hallway. It appears to be a rough symbol of a humanoid in voluminous robes, with their arms ending in amorphous appendages, raised to a level with their head.

Splitting up, Skamos and Kerig tavel down another passageway, but discover another of the mystic symbols etched on the floor, effectively blocking off further progress without dealing with them in some fashion.

While Skamos consults with Kerig about the possibility of jumping over one of them, having determined that whatever arcane energy they contain is triggered by contact, Erais and Aldhelm have come to the same realization, but with a different solution.

Just as Skamos lands safely on the other side of one of the symbols, Aldhelm unties the captive goblin and tosses him none too gently onto the mystical symbol. Splug’s cry is drowned by the whispers, deafening and loud, which do not echo off the walls or floor of the hallway, but in each individual’s head; a psychic cry of sheer terror.

Most everyone is driven, running in the opposite direction, including Skamos, who crosses over another of the symbols. Aldhelm, who resisted the first wails of terror, is this time caught up with a supernatural fear and sprints off in the opposite direction. A veritable comedy of fright ensues, as another of the mystic symbols is crossed by more than one person’s haste and yet again the psychic alarm is rung.

By the time everyone has gathered their senses and shrugged off the magical fear, they find themselves outside of a room adjoining the hallway. Sardonyx decides to sneak ahead the rest of the group, and blindly feels his way into the darkened room.

His first sign of trouble is the cold, lifeless, but somehow standing body he bumps into. The first sign of trouble the rest of the group has is his keen wail of terror and pain. Erais is the next to enter to room, bringing his sunrod flooding into it, only to discover more than a dozen dead bodies. Yet, instead of lying about in a natural state as the deceased should properly do, these bodies have been animated by fell magic’s and lumber around as zombies!

Battle quickly ensues and Erais proves his worth, calling upon the light of Aumanautor, that blasts several of the foul creatures into no more than piles of rotted flesh and bones and forces the others away from the radiant light he calls forth, in the name of his faith.

A few bruises later and the party is starting to gather themselves, when they hear the cries of Splug, somewhat distant, nearly forgotten during the recent melee. Everyone runs off in the direction, back over the mystic symbols, which appear to have had their magic spent, only to find more foul zombies, one of which is eating off Splug’s left arm as he futilely struggles in its grasp.

Another melee takes place as more zombies come around the corner and even temporarily pin Skamos and Kerig down, nearly taking their lives before the duo are able to escape and assault them at range.

Splug, however, is not so fortunate. Erais, not close enough to blast any of the zombies with his holy radiance, decides the goblin, who has all but lost his arm at this point, would be better off dead and blasts him with holy power, and Splug’s brief but interesting journey is forever cut short in the blink of an eye.

Aldhelm chuckles at the “nasty sunburn” the dead goblin sustained but Skamos merely looks on in disgust. The rest of the zombies are soon dealt with and the party takes stock of their situation.

From the moment they opened the first door that morning, to have Snúgel unceremoniously attacked by waiting goblins, no doubt informed from the one that escaped the previous night, though they have seen no sign of him, to the treatment of the goblin prisoner and the battles with the undead, an almost unceasing discord has threatened to fraction the group’s already tenuous cohesiveness.

For the moment, it appears the constant disagreement and bickering has been reduced to a slow boil, but is this merely a conflagration of disparate personalities or have the companion’s psyches been invaded by the eerie, haunted purpose of the Keep on the Shadowfell!

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