Under The Sun
Keep on the Shadowfell
The heroes sit on damp grass just inside the Winterhaven gates. The undead siege has just been defeated. The people of Winterhaven are still in panic.
The sound of hammers echo loudly as craftsmen scramble to refortify the front gates. Young men and women scour the battlefield to recover crossbow bolts. Farmers from the nearby lands have huddled inside the walls, and most are asking about missing friends and family.
Zuruta, Sweetlick, and Wytex are recruited by an elderly man named Valthrun. He passes them ritual books, and the group works together to hasten a powerful Undead Ward ritual on the grounds near the entrance.
Borodin meets Lord Parrag, the leader of Winterhaven. Parrag is obviously a gruff, no-nonsense kind of leader but the undead siege has him looking pale and tired. He briefly thanks Borodin and the crew and invites them to rest here in Winterhaven while the leaders figure out the next course of action. Borodin accepts the lord’s offer and presses for further information on the lay of the land, the death cult, the local goblins, the keep, and any news or historical items that may be important.
Goblins: Parrag notes that scouts saw a group of goblins heading west, towards Orc territory. They did not seem like a war party, more like a tribe fleeing the area.
Winterhaven Keep: Parrag gives the party a quick rundown of Winterhaven Keep: once led by the crusader Sir Keegan, the keep and its owners were corrupted by its proximity to the Shadowfell. Powerful druids worked to seal off the rift to the Shadowfell decades ago but their current whereabouts are unknown. The keep has been mostly quiet, occasionally used by passing goblin warbands who are usually spooked out of the “haunted” ruins.
Death Cult: Parrag has not heard of this death cult, but believes a sole necromancer named Kalarel is behind this. Kalarel is an outcast from Winterhaven who hasn’t been seen in several years, although the name has conspicuously come up recently. You note that the name Kalarel also appeared on the ritual scroll fragment from the dead farmer’s home.
Lay of the Land: Winterhaven Keep is atop a cliff facing Winterhaven and the Nentir Vale. It is in ruins. The undead hordes came from the direction of the keep. Parrag fears the Shadowfell rift may be unstable again.
Parrag excuses himself to handle other matters of Winterhaven’s fortification.
Salvana Wrafton (of the Wrafton Inn) comes by with waterskins and bread for the guards and adventurers. She apologizes for the inn being full – no one has been able to leave the town for a couple days – but assures the adventurers they will have some place to rest.
Donaar and Antek get roped in helping smithy Thair Coalstriker sharpen and hammer weapons and ammunition. Selenus helps restring some crossbows. Saum wanders the town to size up the situation.
After a bit of work and a short rest, Zuruta tells the party that he’s arranged a meeting with the town leaders to explain the threat and figure out what to do next.
Bad Horse plans.
After a brief meeting of the Winterhaven leaders, the heroes begin their investigation to find the necrotic goods trader. Wytex recalls the human family names of the area and eliminates those deemed incorruptible. Donaar convinces Thair to further narrow down the suspects. Saum hits the alleys, gets a lead, and gathers the crew to a table at Wrafton’s Inn. Selenus’ keen ears catch the elf traitor Ninaran speaking of Kalarel’s goods. Wytex makes the jump and attempts to Sleep her; she runs to the door but Donaar checks her with his heavy shield. Out cold. Antek picks her up and takes her to one of the prison cells attached to the barracks.
Parrag gives the team 200g for the capture of Ninaran. The heroes may later escort her to Fallcrest for an additional 200g. Parrag then offers the heroes 500g for the head of Kalarel. A large sum, but worth the protection that his city walls can’t give.
Zuruta gives a Gravespawn Potion to each of our heroes. He will remain in Winterhaven in case the hordes attack again. Bad Horse is stabled in Winterhaven. During the night Wytex and Sweetlick learn new rituals from Valthrun, and Wytex uses his new knowledge to create new weapons for Saum and Selenus.
Early the next day, lady Wrafton fills the adventurers’ packs with rations and sends them towards Winterhaven Keep.
At the ruins they discover little more than heavy hearts and a trapdoor leading underneath the keep. They find the door is trapped, but Wytex uses Comprehend Languages to discern the safe phrase to deactivate the runes. And down the stairs they go.
In the keep they make quick work of the front guards, although Sweetlick does spring a pit trap. A deathjump spider leaps for the weaker members of the party, but Borodin leads a backfield assault that, with the chance assistance of a band of filthy rodents, annihilates it. Borodin and Wytex engage and demolish enemy reinforcements while Antek and Donaar defend a choke point against powerful foes. Sweetlick faffs about making friends with rats and having tea parties or whatever else it is elves do in combat, I don’t know.
Trapped doors one way, goblin slaves and a demon torturer another. Ominous runes in maze-like passages seem like the better option. Borodin helps most of the group across the runes. Saum finds a secret room with a riddle—the answer restores an ancient suit of armor. Meanwhile Borodin slips onto a rune which causes everyone to flee in unnatural terror. A distant portcullis rises and hungry ghouls come looking for a snack… they got in one little fight and my mom got scared, she said ‘You’re movin with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air’
Borodin tripped a trap that afflicted some of the party with a fear effect and let undead loose against them. The party quickly secured a small open area and mounted a spirited defense.
Borodin and Antek formed a defensive line in one corner of an open area. Donaar secured a corridor leading out of the opposite corner while Wytex and Selenus worked their way to safety behind him, although not before they got hit. Saum moved to support Borodin and Antek’s corner, while Sweetlick boldly advanced against the coming horde, striking a major concentration with his undead turning before retreating toward safety. Borodin and Antek suffered a run of bad luck while Sweetlick and Donaar ripped through their adversaries. The battle indelibly turned when Selenus ripped into an opponent with a hail of arrows and Wytex opened a spot for Antek to advance. Donaar and Sweetlick finished off their final opponents not long after. Borodin called Saum into range for a damaging sneak attack, and very shortly the enemies they faced fell. Sweetlick claimed a prize, a set of Black Iron Armor, while the party recuperated.
After refreshing themselves, the party returned to what appeared to be a mine overseen by demonic entities from the Shadowfell and worked by oppressed, starving goblins. Saum hit upon a plan of subterfuge, wherein the party would garb themselves in the livery of the cultists. Led by an unusually fast talking Borodin, the group managed to snooker the Shadowfell denizens into allowing the goblins almost out the door. Saum revealed the scheme to a handful of goblins, mustering them as a force at the party’s assistance. One unsuspecting enemy was lured into the trapped room with Antek, Selenus, and Wytex, where it was quietly slaughtered. Borodin maneuvered his allies into position around the closest enemies and called the attack.
Then the fight was on! Sweetlick hung back, providing aid where it was needed most while fending off attacks from a spitter. Donaar proved a worthy opponent for one adversary, and Saum and Borodin flanked their enemy as angry goblins worked for every shot they could get in, some throwing their picks if they could not get to grips in melee. The monsters of the Shadowfell took a grim toll on the goblin ranks, but still they pressed forward, exacting a geld of blood from their old tormentors. Borodin, Saum, and their allies bloodied one of the monsters before another pushed the warlord from a ledge. It had not reckoned on the eladrin’s ability to travel through the Feywild and was shocked to find him returned to the high ground at its side. As Donaar and the goblins near him wore down his enemy slice by slice, Saum and the goblins took down their foe. The remaining monster attempted to flee, but was pursued by the rogue and the warlord. A daring maneuver by Saum saw the rogue swing himself around a rickety bridge to land behind his target, flanking it with Borodin. Crippled by a mighty strike from the eladrin’s vicious sword, the monster met a bloody end at Saum’s blades. As the goblins swarmed and slaughter Donaar’s opponent, Borodin and Saum pressed the attack against the final foe. The concentrated fire of Donaar’s javelins, Sweetlick’s holy power, the goblins’ improvised weaponry, and Saum and Borodin’s swords shredded its defense, and soon it joined its allies in death.
The goblins mourned their dead as the missing party members returned. Now free, the goblins left the Keep on the Shadowfell behind, exhorted by Borodin to remember who their saviour had been: Borodin the Great. The party caught its breath and then addressed a new challenge: a room marked as dangerous by Kalarel himself.
As the party advanced cautiously, Donaar sprung the first trap: an enormous statue of a warrior that swung its blade in a crazy arc throughout the room. Magic sealed the doors, and the party scrambled to escape. Borodin identified some of the warrior’s controls in two dragon statues, as well as a water trap constituted by four cherub statues in a corridor leading out of the room. Wytex, Saum, and Selenus worked to disarm the first statue, and were pushed back by a wave of force emanating from it. Antek and Sweetlick ran round the opposite side of the warrior statue, where Sweetlick identified more controls. Antek leapt on the statue, holding on despite the spin, and bashed at the controls. Wytex, Saum, and Selenus disarmed the first dragon statue and moved to the next as Donaar and Sweetlick fired javelins and arrows at the control on the warrior statue. The wave of force from the second dragon statue pushed Wytex into the cherub statues, trapping him in rising water. As Wytex, Sweetlick, Saum, and Selenus worked to disarm the statues they could reach, Borodin, heedless of personal safety, teleported into the trapped area to disarm a statue on the far side of the chamber. Fortunately, the trap was disabled, and the party advanced to the next chamber.
The party entered a churchlike burial chamber lined with the resting places of long-dead warriors. As the chamber was clearly a holy place, Donaar led Sweetlick, Borodin, and Saum further in to explore it. Antek, Selenus, and Wytex remained at the entrance to guard against attack from that direction. When the advance guard reached the transept, several skeletons appeared from the burial crypts. Borodin tossed off some observations about the altars in the transept as he ran back along the nave to support his friends. Acting on this knowledge, Donaar forsook battle for prayer, and the skeletons returned to their resting places. Donaar’s prayer also opened the burial chamber of Lord Keegan, who challenged to party to prove to him that they were indeed heroes puissant enough to remove the invaders from his keep. Satisfied with their power and purpose, Lord Keegan answered their questions about his history.
The Shadowfell rift’s influence manifested during construction of the keep. Keegan’s personnel trusted their gods to protect them. Faith was not sufficient, however, and internal division caused the Keep’s downfall. Keegan himself fell prey to the corruption of the rift. Orcus’s taint caused Keegan to attack and kill his wife and children, followed quickly by his officers. His legions eventually responded, forcing him to flee to the crypts. The crypts were sealed, and Keegan, sane once more, died there. Before he died, he found nothing of interest apart from the Shadowfell rift. Before vanishing, Keegan gave Donaar, a fellow paladin of Bahamut, a magic shield in the hope that his sin could be partially expunged. Donaar returned to the altars to pray and was rewarded with figurines of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, which channel protection directly from the god. Perhaps they will be useful against Kalarel. . . .
NOTE: The figurines will work inside the keep, and may only work against Kalarel. (Give +2 to saving throws against Kalarel.)Borodin’s related writings: Chapter 1