Swirling Doom!

Slavers in the Nentir Vale

Summary: The party discovered a parchment, among the remains of a humanoid, and learned the existence of slave trade in the Nentir Vale. The party returned to Winterhaven for rest, and discussed this revelation with Lord Padraig and Valthrun the Prescient.

Greetings Kalarel,

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

Chief Krand of the Bloodreavers

Quest: Bairwin Wilderson enlisted the party to exchange a locked casket with a drow shopkeeper named Gindar, who can be found in the seven-pillared hall in Thunderspire. Gindar is to hand over goods, which must be returned to Bairwin. Bairwin asked that the party does not mention his name to anyone but Gindar, and that they should state: “We represent Bairwin”. He has offered 500 gold pieces on completion.

Treasure: 60 gp, if you sold your dragon statue to Bairwin.

Status: The party has stocked up with provisions and prepares to leave for Fallcrest. Everyone is to consider any magic items and/or rituals they might want to purchase in Fallcrest.

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Defeating Kalarel

Summary: The party descended into the lowest level of the Keep and defeated Kalarel; closing the rift to the Shadowfell and saving the inhabitants of Winterhaven. The party achieved level 4.

Magic items: 1 x Bag of Holding (carried by Verro), 1 x Magic Dagger +2

Treasure: The party collected 880 gp, which was divided between the group for 176 gp each.

Status: The party returned to Winterhaven and took an extended rest. All HP, Healing Surges and Powers are returned and Action Points are reset to 1.

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Breaching the Keep, Part Two

Following the first goblin encounter, our intrepid adventurers took a short rest and dusted themselves down. A quick scout of the room revealed a number of side passages, stairways and doors leading away in different directions. The party decided to head east, through a small door and down a short stairwell that led into a long corridor. As the heroes ventured forth, Jin edging ahead stealthily, there appeared to the right an opening into an un-walled cavern. The party decided to ignore this for the moment and head on along the corridor, coming finally to a large open room. Jin slyly peered around the corner and discerned a number of goblin workers, apparently digging. The room was partially excavated, and Myst understood from their conversation that these goblins were indeed searching for something under the instruction of somebody else, grumbling about their workload. The room was mostly now a deep trench, and the few columns of earth that still reached floor level were interconnected by a series of wooden planks. Jin seized the opportunity of surprise and let fly a crossbow bolt before dashing back to cover. The goblins attention was caught and battle commenced.

The party moved up and stormed the room. Myst ran ahead in an attempt to reach the closest goblin, only to be foiled when the tricky critter kicked away the plank that granted access between their locations. Two guard drakes, like those seen guarding the dragon burial mound, were now revealed in the trenches and were quickly heading toward a ramp up to the party’s platform. The goblins began launching javelins at our heroes, while Jin retaliated by peppering them with more bolts. Blaze and Gotrek charged to the ramp, cutting off the approaching drakes while Durgan began healing those hit by the incoming javelins. As the goblins retreated toward the back of the room, displacing the wooden walkways that joined the platforms, Verro conjured psychic attacks from his crystal ball in order to slow their progress. As the drakes fell beneath their smiting axe, hammer and sword, Blaze and the dwarf brothers ran down the ramp and along the trench to reach the goblins’ platforms. Following the decimation of the first goblin by arrows, bolts and psychic torment, Jin leapt down into the muddy excavations while Myst took a running jump over one of the gaps. In an attempt to reach one of the remaining enemies, Jin tried to climb the earth pillar at the end of the room only to have the soil crumble away beneath her. One goblin tried to push down the ladders leading up to his elevated position, but to no avail; Blaze quickly repositioned the ladder and upon reaching the top bashed the creature backwards with his shield, quickly dispatching him with his sword and leaving only one foe remaining. Seeing the odds towering against him, the final goblin threw up his arms and shrieked in the squeaky language of his people. Having studied the goblin tongue in his endevour to know his enemy, Myst was able to act as an interpreter. “I give up, dont kill me”, he begged, dropping his weapons. In interrogating the creature, who identified himself as Gable, he reveals what little he knows, or says he knows.
“I don’t know much, Balgron doesn’t tell us much, just wants us to dig here for shiny treasure. We haven’t found anything except one thing that I am not supposed to know about. Poison-Licker over there….” Here he pointed to the dead goblin on the other platform, “he didn’t want anyone else to know what he found and he said it wasn’t worth anything but I ain’t no dumb one… I know he found something, so if you don’t kill me, I will show you what he has.”
It wasn’t hard to look through the garments of so small a being and his secret was soon found, a grubby, dirt covered symbol dedicated to Moradin.

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The Return to Winterhaven, and Breaching the Keep, Part One

After Verro and Gotrek finished decapitating the fallen corpse of Irontooth, and following a short rest, our heroes left the Kobold lair and headed back to Winterhaven. Shortly after entering the town the party were met warmly by Lord Padraig; his attention instantly drawn by the bloody, ramskull-tattooed head dangling by its hair from Verro’s clutches. Expressing his deeply felt gratitude on behalf of himself and the town, Padraig paid the adventurers what little gold the community could afford to spare. The party revealed the note they had found, indicating there may be a spy in Winterhaven working for someone with sinister intentions.

It was shortly after this meet that our fearless warriors realised the town had changed somehow. There was no market, yet it was market day. The streets were bare. Spotting Rond Kelfem, Captain of the Winterhaven guard, the group decided to investigate the matter. When enquiring as to what was going on, the party was barked away in frustration. “Can’t you see I’m busy? We’re drilling here!” Our heroes apologised and moved on, confused and sheepish.

At a loose end, our brigade of glory-seekers went to the one place they knew they could find an answer to their problems: The pub. In Wrafton’s the party ascertained that some kind of gloom had fallen upon the town and that Eilian the Old, as well as other townsfolk, had had strange dreams about doors opening into darkness. What could this possibly mean?

Valthrun elaborated some information on the abandoned keep located to the northwest of the town. He explained how it was built in ages past to keep guard over a rift to the shadowfell, and that its final master, Lord Keegan, fell into a madness in which he slew his family and many of his guard. After a long and gruelling conflict with the master-swordsman, Keegan’s own garrison eventually managed to force him back into the deepest cellars of the keep, the last he was heard or seen of again. According to rumour, great wealth and treasure lie buried deep within the ancient stronghold…

Believing this legend as well as the recovered note may somehow be related to the current chill that had descended upon Winterhaven, the group decided to head for the keep. Despite our heroes’ deepest insistence, Lord Padraig would hear nothing of the possibility of a spy in Winterhaven, or that anyone should be involved in any unusual activity, particularly relating to a prince of undeath. The party finally readied to leave, and were seen off by the people of Winterhaven, wishing them well on their quest. Delphina Moongem warned the party to beware of goblins that inhabit the keep, while Ninaren the elven ranger sarcastically waved them goodbye.

Following a day’s hard march the warriors reach the outskirts of the keep and, with a wise word from Jin, decide to set up camp. When Myst expresses his eagerness to crush some goblin skulls Blaze cheerily remarks “Why, did goblins kill your family?” to which Myst looks forlornly into the distance, mortifying the hapless warrior. While the Dwarven brothers say their goodnight prayers to Moradin and Jin spends some time rigging an alarm trap at the entrance to the keep, Verro watches lazily as Blaze tries to climb a tree, still in his scale armour, and rig a hammock, which proceeds to break and send him hurtling to the ground, bruising a little more than his pride.

Awakening bright and early the next morning, the band readied their things to enter the ruins. Jin, cautiously sneaking ahead, thought her carefully rigged alarm trap may have been disturbed in the night. But she couldn’t be sure what lurked below…

Entering a small room with four pillars, Jin spotted a lone goblin, apparently keeping a poor watch. There was goblin chatter to be heard in adjacent rooms, which Myst discerned to be an argument over possession. Jin snuck ahead, dagger at the ready, preparing to take out the unwary green creature. When she reached halfway across one side of the room, Jin heard a loud clattering sound from the entrance way, like a tumbling steel bear. Blaze could wait no longer. Hoping that his luck might have changed for the better, he charged across the room, letting roar an intimidating war-cry: “STEALTH!!!” The enormous fighter was almost upon the terrified critter when suddenly the goblin gave a wicked smirk, and the ground beneath Blaze opened up, sending him crashing to the ground for the second time, although in this incidence he was met by a swarm of bloodthirsty rats. The rest of the party quickly mobilised, but struggled to navigate the narrow pathway around the hole. Verro let fly his illusory onslaught while the dwarves ran forward. In his eagerness to carry out the will of Moradin, Gotrek missed a javelin that flew past his very eyes, but quickly caught sight of the goblin thrower and charged forward to unleash divine devastation. More goblins joined the fray while Jin closed on the front line, sneakily backstabbing and slyly flourishing. Blaze managed to clamber out of the pit, but a number of the rats had managed to crawl and gnaw their way beneath his armour. Forced back by the might of Jin and Blaze and cut off by Verro’s psychic force, the goblins were driven to the back of the chamber where their numbers were reduced to two. While attempting to flee, one was met by the quick steel of Blaze and Durgen, while the other had his mind crushed by Verro’s destructive mind-tricks. The party were victorious. They rested briefly, and continued on their delve…

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Assault on the Kobold Lair, Part One

Having successfully rescued the old wizard, Douven Staul, from the hands of a band of Orcus followers, the party returned to the small village of Winterhaven for rest. The following day, the party bid the old wizard farewell and sent him back to Fallcrest aided by two burly guards. With new information from Douven, the party decided to speak to Valthrun the Prescient to find out more of the mysterious keep, and to the Lord of Winterhaven, Lord Pedraig, to offer assistance against the Kobold threat.

Valthrun could not remember much about the keep, except that it had been deserted before he was born. However, his curiosity was piqued and he offered to consult his ancient texts and would return with what information he could find. When asked if he knew of anyone that had visited the keep recently, he suggested speaking to Delphina Moongem, who often collects flowers nearby and can be found selling them on market days. Lord Pedraig spoke vehemently of the Kobolds and offered to pay 100 gold pieces and any loot they found to the party if they would help fight against the Kobold attacks. Verro, ever the capitalist, was not pleased with this paltry offer and said as much. The dwarf paladin, Gotrek, being goodly and wholly ignorant to the usefulness of gold, offered his services for free. The Lord, however, would hear nothing of Verro’s protests, seeming immune to his persuasiveness, and stuck to his original offer.

After much deliberation, the party decided to first attempt to deal with the Kobolds and hold off on Myst and Blaze’s quest of mapping out the ruins, until they had more information about the ominous Keep. With their business in Winterhaven finished, the party set out in the direction marked out by Lord Pedraig. It was not long down the road when the Fighter spotted a track, which diverged off the well-beaten path and into the woods. The Ranger moved ahead to cautiously scout the area while the rest of the party kept their distance. Behind a line of trees, Myst could see a dozen or so Kobolds beside a waterfall and signalled this back to the party. The Ranger’s mastery of hand signals created such a great image on the mind of Durgan that, without being able to actually see the waterfall, he could clearly picture stairs behind it. Signalling the rest of the party forward, the Ranger took the opportunity and fired two arrows through the trees. The trees, however, proved too substantial and the arrows fell short of their target, alerting the Kobolds to his presence. The battle commenced.

Gotrek charged ahead of the party and into the trees and was quickly surrounded by a great number of the shifty Kobolds; he was followed by the Rogue, Jin, and the Cleric, Durgan. The Ranger moved along the tree line to focus his attack on a lone Kobold, but became stuck fast when it threw an orb filed with viscous ooze at him. Blaze rushed to Myst’s aid and together they took down the lone Kobold. The Wizard took up position away from the concentrated action and picked out individual foes. The party fought well and the Kobold numbers quickly diminished to two. One of the Kobolds broke away from the fight, yelped out “Irontooth must be warned!” and made for the waterfall. Verro rushed to stop the fleeing Kobold, his initial attempt to assault its feeble mind failed, but he found extra strength of will and managed to infiltrate the reptilian mind. It collapsed, with a vacant stare, before the waterfall.

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Travel to the Burial Ground

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.

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On the Road to Winterhaven

At the Nentir Inn, on the outskirts of the city of Fallcrest, five adventurers met. For their own reasons each one desired to head to Winterhaven. With safety in numbers, the adventurers banded together with a merchant caravan, for the five-day journey. When the caravan was forced to turn back due to a broken axle, the adventurers chose to continue to Winterhaven together. As night came, they took shelter in a barn owned by an old farmer named Boc. The second day came and went, and as night came the party decided to push ahead; another caravan had left for Winterhaven before theirs and they wished to catch it up. On the third day, they were ambushed on the road by a pack of shifty Kobolds.

The ranger, Myst, who had scouted ahead, was quickly surrounded and took the brunt of the Kobold ambush. The two dwarven brothers, Gotrek and Durgan Sunstone, seeing their new companion in trouble, charged headlong into the fight. Meanwhile, the fighter, Blaze, found himself flanked by two well-coordinated Kobolds clad in Dragonscale. With the Kobolds’ engaged, the wizard, Verro, retreated away from the combat to concentrate his magics. The five were victorious, slaying every last Kobold. After looting the corpses of any worth, they continued on to Winterhaven. On the road, the party came upon an abandoned wagon, which had shown signs of recent attack.

The party arrived at the gates to Winterhaven, having found no further trouble, and took rest inside the walled town at Wrafton’s Inn. There, they conversed with some of the patrons. The wizard, believing his charms to be great, insulted a female elven ranger with an offer of companionship. The drunken dwarven cleric, meaning to apologise for his friend’s unwelcome advances with the offer of dwarven ale, insulted her further. The fighter, looking for an answer, questioned the intelligence of a sage named Valthrun, who seemed to take the insult lightly. With little success, they retired to the inn’s guestrooms. The next day, the party explored Winterhaven. The wizard, concerned for his missing friend, Douven Staul, who had set out from Fallcrest and had not returned, spoke to Salvana the proprietor of Wrafton’s. Salvana recounted that a man fitting Douven’s description had set out for a dragon burial ground to the southwest of Winterhaven. Believing his friend to be in grave danger, Verro urged his new companions to make for the burial ground as soon as possible, and in return he would aid them in their personal quests. We left the group as they prepared to set out for the burial ground.

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