Points of Light

Into the Vale

Day 3
Approach to the keep set with kobold ambush. The party negotiates a delicate truce with the kobolds who let them pass as long as they promise not to harm any more kobolds on the road. Decent into the keep reveals a warren of goblins. Cleared to a jail being used as a torture chamber by a hobgoblin warrior. A goblin, Splug, is freed from on of the cells and taken as a companion by the dark elf. Camp is made in the torture chamber. During the night the goblin boss, Balgrom The Fat, is heard banging on the door, yelling for the Hobgoblin to bring him his dinner. Eventually the banging stops. At a specific time in the night the swarm of rats can be heard scurrying along the passages devouring corpses and other refuse left behind.

Day 2
New members are recruited, and a return to the old King’s Road yields another kobold brigand attack. This time the kobolds are defeated handily. Winterhaven is reached. Rested at Wrafton’s Inn and spoke with an old farmer, a sage named Valthrun who directs the group to the ruins of an old keep near the village, and the local priest who offers to aid the party with curative rituals she has learned.

Day 1
Attacked by kobold brigands on the road to Winterhaven. Kobolds are defeated but all party members are slain save for Kriv, the fighter. Kriv returns to mercenary camp in order to recruit new members.

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Tombs

Day 4
After hearing the threats of the goblin boss the party got no rest during their night in spent in the torture chamber. What their time resting here did reveal was a hidden stairwell past the furthest jail cell down to the second level of the dungeon.

A tomb lined with sarcophagi was located at the bottom of the stairs. A side passage led into a maze of crypts filled with rotting zombies. Not only that but magic runes had been inscribed into the floor at key junctions of the crypts that when triggered rang the dinner bell for the undead. After putting the restless dead to their final rest, a secret room was discovered in the back of the crypts, an embalming room. Inside the embalming room several personal artifacts belonging to a high-born lady are discovered, including a small sword, named Last Hope. Also, another secret passage leads from this room to another set of stairs down to the dungeon’s third level.

The party returns to the tomb with the sarcophagi, triggers a trap where upon skeletons spring forth from the sarcophagi. After defeating the skeletons, the party discovers a chamber at the end of the tomb with a shrine to Bahamut, several small dragon statues, and a prayer that when recited before the shrine will disable the skeleton trap.

The most intriguing feature of this chamber, however, is the dragon door on the eastern wall. Symbols carved into the door indicate this to be the tomb of an important noble, possibly the lord of the keep, which according to historical account may have been one Sir Keegan. The party spins the dragon mechanism on the door and enters the burial chamber of the dead knight.

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Eternal Rest & Bolgrom The Absent

Day 5
The party awakens and attempts to ascend to and explore further on the upper level only to discover that kobolds have erected fortifications, sealing off the crypts. Rather than break through the kobold defenses the party decides to explore further down into the dungeon.

The secret passage at the back of the embalming room leads down and into the back of a dark antechamber. The character discover a chest containing some clothing a personal effects of Keegan’s children, including an enchanted holy symbol of the Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon. The antechamber turns out to be located just off the crypt of the children themselves, who have been reanimated into disgusting, filth hurling zombies.

After the party dispatches these abominations, they are suddenly attacked by a gelatinous cube, that was drawn to the sounds of the conflict with Sir Keegan’s undead progeny. The party is nearly devoured and digested by this ponderous creature. The quick reflexes of the elf are able to keep her out of the cube’s gullet and allow her to pepper it with arrows, while the fighter’s stalwart attacks from within the ooze itself while consumed, and the cleric’s healing prayers are able to keep them all alive just long enough to triumph. Side benefit: those devoured by the cube and all their possessions are quite clean and sterile due to the digestive acids within the ooze.

Moving forward from the children’s crypt the party discovers the door to this area has been barricaded long ago by goblins and marked with a sign marking, “Danger! Closed! Beware – Ooze we call Steve!”

Beyond this door are hobgoblins patrolling the dungeon level. The party sets an ambush and lures one into it. They dispatch him easily enough but are then forced to retreat after encountering a hobgoblin patrol at full strength. They fall back to the closed section where the hobgoblins do not pursue, probably for fear of the gelatinous cube, named Steve.

Here they rest once again. Those on watch hear voices beyond the warning point, but nothing enters the area of the cube.

Day 4 (cont.)
Sir Keegan is indeed the resident entombed behind the dragon door, and he is very much undead, and very much still attempting to fulfill his duty at the keep. The party manages to convince him they are not tomb raiders nor are they cultists. Not that these aren’t mostly true, but after some pointed questions from Sir Keegan was at one point leaning toward killing everyone.

The party learns that Last Hope, the small sword discovered in the embalming room – now carried by the dark elf, was gift Sir Keegan gave to his wife just once month before killing her.

They also learn that it was an evil presence seeping though a rift to the shadowfell beneath the keep that turned Sir Keegan into a fiend and encouraged him to slaughter the keep’s other residents, including his own family.

They are told that a cult dedicated to Orcus, Prince of Undeath, has taken up residence and is even now attempting to open the rift and allow the evil presence into the world of the living.

Kriv swears to fulfill the knight’s oath and purge the keep of evil.

Sir Keegan bequeaths his ancestral blade, Aecris, to Kriv in hope it may aid him in his task.

The party returns to the upper level intending to rid the keep of Balgrom the Fat only to discover he and the rest of the goblins seem to have departed their warrens. A lone goblin left behind to guard the supplies that could not be taken and a crumpled up note to someone named Kalarel are all that remained.

The party discovered an excavation chamber deeper in the goblin warrens where several goblins worked furiously in search of treasures. They are slain and their meager gains taken.

It was at this point the party decided to return to the (relative) safety of the embalming room and get some rest. All characters on watch during this time hear loud noises from the upper levels. Nothing disturbs their rest down in the crypts however.

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Chamber of Statues, Blood Rituals

Day 6
After resting, the party discovers the hobgoblins have placed sentries at the entrance to the Steve’s area. They dispatch these sentries and two more quickly and quietly, even avoiding a wicked net trap that could have spelled doom.

Rather than attack the hobgoblin area, the party decides to turn south and explore another dragon door. This time they discover a large gallery filled with death-trap statues. Once again fate conspires to test the priest and his gravely wounded. The dark elf and dragonborn stage a heroic rescue from the maw of these statues and revive him just in time to save him from death’s cold embrace.

After solving the traps in the chamber of statues, another crypt filled with zombies. This time the zombies are accompanied by a nasty ghoul that has been feeding on the flesh of the cult’s sacrifices and the occasional unwary hobgoblin. While battling the living dead, Kevin spots a small clay gargoyle hovering at the edge of the light watching the fight with curiosity. When it becomes clear the undead are not going to prevail, the devilish creatures flees further into the crypts.

Along with their personal belongings, the party scores a couple of magical items and potions among the remains of the ghoul’s victims.

Beyond the ritual chamber of a cult to Orcus is discovered, where a priest of the cult is chanting and several undead minions attend him. Rivers of blood are flowing from an altar in the back of the room, where the priest incants his prayers, into a large hole in the middle of the chamber.

Seeing their oaths so close to being fulfilled, the party charges into combat with these fiends. The magic wielded by the cultists of Orcus is strong and instills his minions with unwavering zeal, but it is not enough to turn back the skill and prowess of the rogue and fighter when combined with the glorious magic wielded by cleric of the Raven Queen.

After dispatching these foes, and cleansing the ritual chamber of Orcus’s foul presence, Kevin channels the power of his deity to help purge Orcus and his power from this place, and succeeds, but becomes aware their real enemy as well as the rift to the Shadowfell are both down at the bottom of the hole…

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Servant of Orcus, The Thing in The Portal

Day 6 (cont)
Lowering down his companions one by one, Kriv watches them enter the pit below the hidden temple. Down in the pit there is darkness and doom, and a bunch of mad scrawling writ in blood on the walls. Some of it is simple raving. Other bits make a little more sense. Something about, “blood of my blood,” and, “until that day…” and the number 333 repeated over and over.

The heroes discover another priest of Orcus performing some rite at an altar. This one appears twisted and dessicated like a corpse. Kevin steps forward to do battle with this creature when a woman falls from a crack in the ceiling and crushes him. It seems this woman is a member of another party who had just the previous day come calling at the Keep, looking for fortune, but had met an ugly end in a lair of chitinous creatures, hidden just above this place. This woman, Maiya, awoke to find herself cocooned withing hard shells secreted by these creatures, surmising they had perhaps put her away for later enjoyment much like a can of ripe peaches. She manages to escape with some arcane trickery and found a hole leading down into a chamber where she heard voices. Seeing as the only other option was to stay around and be dinner, jumping down didn’t seem so bad. She never meant to crush a priest.

In the chamber below the lights come up and it becomes clear that this priest is not alone. In addition to a pair of skeletal warriors, the wounded berserker from the temple chamber above, the clay imp, and a portal of dark swirling energies with some foul being or beings reaching out from the other side, is the necromancer who had visited them the previous night, and spoiled all the food.

It quickly becomes clear that not only is this the high priest of the cult, and that he is attempting to complete the ritual to open the world to the realm of the Shadowfell, but he is also the prior leader of another death cult, and he knows Maiya from somewhere, who identifies him as Kalarel. He gives the group a chance to join him and his plans to rule this realm in the name of the god Orcus. Instead, they decide to kill him.

A brief battle ensues, cut even shorter by Maiya using her arcane powers to blast him into the portal, where he is devoured by the things on the other side. Having been fed the scion of Orcus a foul presence is released from the great statue of the demon prince on the other side of the room and it flies up from the chamber which nearly collapses from great and ruinous powers.

Kevin find the rod of ruin laid at the base of the portal where Kalarel was devoured and picks it up. He is struck blind and nearly dead upon touching the portal. Maiya tucks the rod away for safe keeping. Looting the rest of the room, the heroes climb up through the crack in the ceiling where their new ally fell, and seek a way out of the keep.

They stop to check the other cocoons just in case any of Maiya’s group is still alive. In the process of checking the nest a huge swarm of rats careens through the cavern and is devoured by the creatures in the eastern part of the caverns. These creatures, six legged, chitinous beasts, with glue like saliva and razor sharp talons, emerge from their lair and attack as soon as the heroes get to close to their young. They manage to put most of the creatures down, including a big sucker that looks to be the progenitor of the brood.

They do find one “survivor” from Maiya’s group, but he has been largely digested in the juices of his cocoon and Kevin put him out of his misery. Before he dies his last wishes are that the heroes take his coin and pay his rather large bar tab if and when they ever get back to Winterhaven. Kriv also find a small journal this man, “Dave”, made more than a few entries in while on this ill-fated adventure. Maiya convinces Kriv to hand over the journal and they leave.

On the journey back to Winterhaven, the still blind Kevin get mysteriously separated from the group, and stumbles into a ravine with a cool fresh running stream. His blindness is miraculously cured upon touching the stream’s waters and he sees a raven, leading him further down the ravine. Following what is clearly a messenger from his god, Kevin meets a young boy, named Balun. Balun has clearly run away from the village for unspoken reasons. He claims to have seen his mother in the woods outside the village and is trying to find her. His current course seems to be leading his toward the Keep. Kevin convinces the boy to join him since it is not safe in these parts alone.

Balun will not set foot back in the village for some reason, so Kevin, Maiya, the boy, and Splug remain camped in an abandoned pasture, Kriv and Fey’rel return to Winterhaven. They find the village under martial law, and the citizens on strict food rationing, both by order of Lord Padraig. It seems the kobolds have stepped up their raids and now the village is not likely to see any re-supply until these kobolds are dealt with.

Kriv meets with Lord Padraig and offers to slay the kobold leader for a small fee to which the lord of Winterhaven quickly agrees.

Kriv also find Balun’s father, a drunken and miserable man, who does not seem to care too much about the fact that his son has run off. In fact, he was not even aware that he had run off at all. He is only too glad when he is left to return to his drink, which appears to be what he spends most of his money on.

Bairwin, the Halfling merchant, is pleased to see the adventurers alive after all. Before they leave again, he offers them a small job. He has several small valuables that one of his contacts to the east has offered to buy. He needs a group of well armed and reliable sorts to act as courier. He says his contact’s name is Grelg and he is awaiting delivery at some place on the Trade Road, east of Fallcrest, known as the Seven Pillared Hall. Fey’rel knows this place as it is located on the route of her escape from the Underdark, near the surface. They party agrees to take the job after they rid the village of their kobold problem.

Day 7
The heroes make their way back up to the Keep assuming they will still find their old adversaries there. They’re not wrong. But first, a strange group of shadow creatures are encountered. When Kevin touches one he is overcome with magical sleep. In his dream he meets the real form of these fellows, or at least one of them. He is a sharp dressed man with dark eyes, and dark hair, and he says that Kevin must kill the boy. Kevin asks for explanation, of course, but gets none.

Day 8
The kobolds have something new in store this time. Their leader, a large brute called Irontooth, has put his redcap minions to work fashioning a large, 15’ tall, iron man out of suits of plate armor and steam powered boiler engines. They now claim lordship over the Keep and the surrounding lands. Furthermore they have studied to strategies of “The Kriv” and are ready now to defeat him, ending his reign of terror on the kobold tribe.

Well, this time doesn’t go any better for them. Some well placed attacks from the cleric, and this iron man contraption is busting at the seams, ready to fall apart. Irontooth and his skirmishers are routed, and Irontooth himself is slain trying to escape.

When the heroes return to Winterhaven once more, they are rewarded with a feast and celebration. Martial law is lifted and food rationing is stopped. Balun tells his father Jack that he is leaving, to which Jack sullenly agrees. But the whole affair is not without its tragedies. Nearly a score of villagers were killed or are still missing. There are rumors of some perhaps still being alive, sold by the kobolds to slavers. And there is still a rift to the Shadowfell lurking beneath the Keep. Kalarel and the cultists were stopped for now, but that spirit that escaped will surely spell disaster somewhere, for someone.

But for now, Winterhaven is safe, and there is cause for celebration.

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Never rat on your friends
Or, why pipe weed was ruining my life

Many loose ends, many things unresolved about the Keep at this point, many indeed.

First, there is Balun’s dad, Jack Barrelman. No problem he’s dead now. There were words spoken by Sister Linora. A couple guys earned some coppers digging the grave. Balun didn’t seem too broken up about it. Oh! There are a bunch of other new graves in the cemetery as well. Or, rather, there should be. Instead, several mass memorials are the only indication that 21 people who used to live in Winterhaven don’t live there any more. They didn’t move house. They probably died. People assume they’re dead. But technically, they’re just missing. It’s been many weeks since they were last seen. Geez, people should just get on with their lives, really.

Here are the actual names listed on the Winterhaven memorial For Those Who Are Missed.

The Rod of Ruin is a thing. A very real thing.

Looking at that note found on Irontooth, it seems Kalarel had a spy in Winterhaven that was feeding him information on newcomers. Wonder who that could be? I’m sure it’s fine.

There was a ruckus outside Coalstriker’s Smithy. Can I describe the ruckus? Yes. Yes, I can. I will. You see, Coalstriker was mad. Real mad. He’s pretty sure the halfing Bairwin, who runs a “fine goods shop” in town, stole a precious piece – the most important piece – of his scrapped iron man construct. You see, he purchased the remains for 2k gold from the adventurers and now it’s basically worthless because the arcane power source that made the whole thing go is gone. What evidence does this guy have on Bairwin? Good question. None, really. But he’s pretty sure the little guy is behind it.

After doing some poking around it seems that:

  1. The old guy farmer Elias, who as drinking that night (as usual) at Wrafton’s, saw a really short guy, or maybe a kid, anyway didn’t see his face on account of his cloak, went running away with something heavy in his arms, out of Coalstriker’s hay barn, toward to the gates.
  2. Bairwin has a secret door in his cellar that leads to a passage running under the walls and out of the town.
  3. The guards on duty at the front gate that night fell asleep, or something, after smoking some really strong pipe weed given to them by Bairwin as a gift, for helping to lift the kobold seige, etc…Anyway, when they came to the postern door was open. They didn’t want to tell anyone, since they would be in trouble for dereliction and such, but adventurers have a way of getting at this sort of information. And, these ones did.

After recounting the evidence discovered with Lord Padraig, Bairwin is arrested and it’s looking grim for the halfling, until Maiya comes forth with his alibi. It seems the two were both at Bairwins that night drinking and smoking into the small hours. The words of two pipe smokers is not great. But, Maiya is one of the heroes of Winterhaven, so Lord Padraig promises to weigh the evidence over night. Meanwhile, Bairwin is locked up in one of the servant’s quarters instead of the dungeon.

Meanwhile, Kevin decides to question the suspicious wood elf that hangs around Wrafton’s. It’s clear she wants nothing to do with the priest, or Lord Padraig, or anyone really. She’s one of “those” elves. But Kevin will not be denied. He follows her back to her apartment and barges his way in with promises of a job. Unfortunately, it seems the elf may be the spy mentioned in Irontooth’s note. She murders Kevin and drags his body out of town in a sack, through Bairwin’s secret tunnel.

But wait. Teh Raven Queen is not done with her priest just yet. His life is spared with delicious healing magics. When he comes to he hears the elf making some sort of deal between kobolds and hobgoblins.

Balun tells the rest of the party about what he saw and heard outside the elf’s apartment. As soon as they realize what us happening they make for the tunnel in hopes the cleric is not dead. They’re right, he’s not. But that’s no guarantee his fate will be any better for it.

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Killer with a heart of silver

Bairwin begged her not to go. “They’re going to kill me, I just know it!” But, Fey’rel could not ignore the news she received about Kevin being dragged off by the mystery elf, so go she did.

Kriv, Maiya, and Fey’rel pursued Kevin’s captors through the night and most of the next day. They found a camp where the captors split into two groups, kobolds and hobgoblins, each going separate ways after burning a half dozen bodies in a fire. They found a dead goblin, killed during some unknown petty squabble, and that dead goblin was wearing a strip of linen tied to his arm whose color was eerily reminiscent of their own colors in a previous life where they were soldiers in a mercenary company, The Bloodreavers.

Finally, near a ruined monastery the heroes caught up with the hobgoblins, and rescued Kevin, who was not dead. In fact, he was very much alive, another ominously real dream of the Shadowfell not withstanding.

Convinced of a much larger force ahead, the heroes withdraw back to Winterhaven. On the way they retrace their steps to follow the kobold trail. It leads to the “Old Dragon Burial Site.” The site turns out to be an excavation site very much like the one found under the Keep, where kobolds have been digging for an artifact called The Mirror of Shadows. The heroes know nothing of the mirror, however, and are only searching for the stolen power core, taken from the smithy. They find it in the hands of some rather terrified and leaderless kobolds. The kobolds exchange the power core for their life, and are instructed to rehabilitate their miserable lives by praying to a golden idol of the dragon god, Bahamut.

The core is returned to Coalstriker who gladly renews their credit.

Upon returning to Winterhaven, the heroes receive news that the previous night someone had broken into the lord’s manor, killed the halfling prisoner, and kidnapped the lord’s own wife and two children as well. Witnesses claim the kidnapper was an elf. The kidnapper did leave a ransom note.

For your meddling in affairs beyond your comprehension you are punished. The halfling’s blood is first to stain your hands. If you wish to avoid the death of your precious spawn, the price is 5,000 pieces of gold. In two weeks bring my money south on the Old King’s Road. Bring a horse. Come alone. Test me and you will never see your precious family again!

It appears there are another ten villager missing as well. This time their houses are emptied, all possessions carefully packed, and removed, as if they knew they were leaving. The lord surmises they are accomplices of the elf, and maybe have been all along, in her employment by the cultist Kalarel. Lord Padraig offers the heroes the 5,000 gold if they can rescue his family, and offers to assist in their investigation in any way he can.

While searching the homes of the missing villagers (“accomplices”) the heroes discover the remains of old magic circle dedicated to Orcus, confirming their suspicions about the villagers’ position within the cult. In the elf’s old apartment they find a old fishing lure in the couch cushions which reminds Fey’rel of an orphan girl that once followed their old mercenary captain around, very much like a page, once long ago. Could this elf spy really be the page of their old captain?

Between this new lead and returning to the Keep, the heroes decide to set out for the ruined monastery once more. This time, Lord Padraig and ten of the Winterhaven regulars, along with horses and provisions accompany them. The heroes tell Padraig some of what they know about the Bloodreavers and Captain Lo-Kag. They do not tell him of their previous association.

Upon arriving once more at the ruins, Fay’rel and Splug scout the location to judge the company’s true strength and defenses. In the process, the dark elf spots a nearby conclave of eladrin camped near a magical fountain. The mercenary camp itself confirms reports they are approximately 50 in number mixed humans and hobgoblins. Nearly 20 prisoners are also chains to the stumps of trees near the center of the camp.

A minute or so of closer inspection reveals the camp is just a trap. The sentries are dummies, the tents are empty, and the prisoners are goblins. The true mercenary force is waiting in ambush position with the false camp in sight. Before Fey’rel can withdraw, however, she is spotted by once of the real sentries, and an old fellow Bloodreaver. Mira is the long time consort to Captain Lo-Kag. She interrogates the dark elf, gets what she believes is the truth, and then offers to let her go in return for her magic sword. Mira did not see Splug. Splug sneaks up on Mira, whacks her in the knee with the club of screaming, which turns out to be an apt moniker, and Fey’rel gets away.

Upon hearing of a large group of eladrin camped nearby, the heroes decide the try and win their alliance against the mercenaries if possible. They leave the dark elf out of this discussion, naturally, and she wait nearby with the Splug and the regulars.

The heroes discover they are a contingent of fey knights from House Velfarren, led by its scions Berrian and Analastra. The fount is a holy site dedicated to Ioun, goddess of knowledge, and the eladrin are here to study its secrets in pursuit of a quest for their family. They are reluctant to become involved in the conflict between humans, no matter how sad they are for Lord Padraig’s situation. Kevin offers the Rod of Ruin in return for their assistance. Still, the eladrin refuse. Then, they offer to assist Berrian in his quest, and still he refuses. Analastra points out, however, that they have been searching for answers for many years and are no closer to finishing their quest than when they began, and that perhaps the humans are destined to be the key that opens the door to the mysteries they are seeking. Finally, the eladrin agree, swearing each member of the party before them to return and assist in their quest when they are ready.

The attack on the mercenary camp is swift and decidedly one-sided. With the help of the Lord Padraig AND the eladrin, the Bloodreavers are quickly defeated. Lo-Kag himself appears after being called out by Kriv, and is cut down by a host of allies. With his dying break, Lo-Kag warns Kriv, “…you…must use your strength…lead…the weak!”

Surviving the attack are Mira, her son Joachim, a handful of mercenaries held in reserve to guard their treasure, and 15 of the remaining missing from Winterhaven. When Kriv appears wearing the Captain’s Fist, Lo-Kag traditional symbol of authority, the mercenaries immediately assume Kriv will be assuming the mantle of captain. Kriv is at first interested in the prospect of taking command of his own company, especially when he learns half their number is still camped beneath Thunderspire, waiting for their captain to return with new orders.

After a difficult discussion regarding the 15 prisoners that were to be sold for 7.5k in gold to their patron, who paid them to come north in the first place, whereupon Kriv freed them all and returned their stolen possessions. Kriv tell Mira, who is quite surprised at such mercy from the new captain of the Bloodreavers, that he will not traffic in slaves. After all, the dragonborn were once slaves to their dragon masters. Furthermore he sends Mira away with their treasury and command of the company itself. Kriv will have none of it. He tells Fey’rel, “The problem with mercenary companies is everyone wants to be captain. I didn’t want to have to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life.”

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