We were getting ready to leave Winterhaven, just finishing off our morning meal at Wrafton’s when we were approached by an Eladrin, Jin. She too is looking for Douvan Staul, Verro’s old mentor, whom Blaze and Myst have also promised to look for in exchange for the mage’s help in looking for and mapping the ruined keep nearby.
The Eladrin explains that she took on some scouting work from the old man and needs to report to him to get paid. She travelled to Winterhaven after us, being directed by our old friend Boc and the town guard we met on our entrance to the city. We agree to let her accompany us on the road to the dragon burial mound, in part because Gotrek is indisposed due to an illness caused by excessive ‘worship of Moradin’.
The party asks the other patrons about this site and of the venerable wizard who went out there. Salvana tells us that Douvan never mentioned a burial ground, but spoke to Eilian shortly before he departed. This aged socialite drew us a map to the place but seemed ignorant of any reason anyone should go there.
We departed posthaste, walking by the numerous stalls and sellers to be expected on market day. The brave assorted adventurers had not gone far from the city when they fell into another ambush of cunning kobolds. This new band seemed better armoured than the last group, and had superior tactics as well as magical aid in the form of a shaman in a dragon mask.
They seemed to pay particular attention to our own mage, which displays a greater understanding of tactical reasoning than we witnessed the previous day, though which better represents kobolds is unknown. Try as he might, he could not shake them off no matter which way he darted.
Even so, they fall, but it is no easy fight. If the trend continues who knows what cunning deeds they might have in store?
While searching the slain for clues, it is found that the masked kobold wore an obsidian carving of a dragon on a chain around his neck. closer inspection revealed a strange glyph on the underside, a stylised skull with rams horns. Drawing upon his great wellspring of religious knowledge, Durgan realised that it was a symbol of Orcus, demon lord of the undead. A very unusual focus of worship for kobolds thought Blaze, reciting an entry he had once read during his time as a booklender, Kobolds usually revere dragons due to their belief in their own draconic heritage. It seemed quite likely that more would be found at the burial ground, but something was indeed out of place with the scaly terrors.
An uneventful march brought them to a crater in the centre of which looked like an archaeological dig taking place. Men shovelled earth under the watchful eye of a gnome. Slightly more unnerving were the guard drake sentinels and halfling watchman, which suggested that this was no ordinary excavation, as did the large bones surrounded by an unbroken square of skulls etched with mystic runes.
They claimed to work for Douvan and that he set off back for Winterhaven a day ago. They are mistrusted, but they trust us about the same. The standoff is broken and a brawl errupts.
Verro conjured a cloud of inky smoke to envelop the guard drakes to whom Durgan took his hammer and holy light. Blaze charged, hammer swinging, at all of the workers at once while Myst flitted around the clifftop to tackle the halfling slinging pebbles and Jin followed suit.
Despite tricky fading out of sight goings-on, Douvan was found, hidden amongst tools, blankets and debris. He is obviously a very intelligent man, just not in the ways of the world. He hired the gnome and his compatriots to excavate the site for him, but they turned on him, possibly to keep what they found, a strange mirror. The party decides to hold onto it for safe keeping, returning the the scholar’s locket found in the same crate.
He tells us more of the burial site. It dated back before the fall of Nentir Vale, surrounded by a legend of an item hidden there and a keep built over a rift to the domain of Orcus in the Shadowfell, a place of darkness. Valthrun, the Seer, will know where it is, he says.
We offer to guide him back to Winterhaven in the morning, making camp in the crater as it is getting dark. He is grateful and tells us to speak to Lord Pedraig about the kobolds we have been encountering. As thanks for all we have done, he gives us the locket and we turn in for the night.