Accompanied by the Dragon scholar, Douven Staul, the four battle-weary adventurers: Skamos Redmoon, the powerful Tiefling wizard, Barrick the unstoppable Dwarven fighter, Tira Duskmeadow, the enchanting Half-elf warlock, and Z’alden Silverflame ,the faithful servant of Bahamut, rode back to Winterhaven bearing the body of their dragonborn Paladin comrade Felsmon. Before reaching the town gates, they were greeted with jubilant shouts from townsfolk lining the ramparts – “The heroes have returned, the kobolds are defeated!” The adventurers, while stirred by their triumphant welcome, were also disconcerted. How did the townsfolk know of their victory? This is a mystery that would have to wait.
Just inside the gate, they were met by Eilian the Old and immediately found the powerful enchanter Valthrun the Prescient. Telling him of Felsmon’s valiant solo battle against 4 kobolds and Irontooth, a massive war goblin, the group asked Valthrun to raise their fallen comrade. The adventurers related the story of the battle of the Kobold’s lair, how they defeated the leader of the kobolds and wiped out their nest of villainy. Tira showed Valthrun the letter scroll they had found, a warning from “K” to the kobold leader to be on the lookout for troublemakers and telling that “K” would soon open the rift, and that the folk of Winterhaven would be become food for Lord Orcus. They negotiated a price with Valthrun, pointing out that they could not fight Kalarel and his cult of evil and prevent the opening of the rift to Lord Orcus without the mighty Paladin’s power and strength. Valthrun noted that the components for the Raise Dead ritual were costly, and while he agreed that his town would be served by the brave adventurers, he could not perform the ritual for less than 400 gold pieces.
The group had been expecting a much steeper price! As fortune would have it, they had found 420 g.p. in the kobold’s lair, and Lord Padraig had promised them a reward of 100 g.p. for ending the kobold scourge. After gathering the funds and returning them to Valthrun, the raising of Felsmon commenced, and the group left to purchase and acquire needed items.
Barrick and Z’alden headed to the smith and found a marvelous dwarf Therin Coalstriker III who reluctantly agreed to resize the enchanted Dwarven chainmail the group had taken from Irontooth so that it would fit Z’alden. He also agreed to sell Barrick a shield, all for 120 gold pieces. In the meantime, Tira found Eilian the Old and they arranged to meet late that night so that Tira might find some useful lockpicking tools, not the sort of thing one discussed during the day. Tira also found out that Elian was a bit of magician himself, having made her purse disapper the first time the group arrived in Winterhaven.
During the night of the raising, pairs of the group took watch over Valthrun’s tower waiting to see if Ninaran would return. Z’alden put the stableboy in his employ to relay news and information about the half-elf, finding out that she is somehow able to come to the stable even after the gates have closed.
The next morning, the adventurers were overjoyed to see their friend Felsmon, weary and woozy, but returned to life! While Felsmon rested, Skamos asked Valthrun about a book he had mentioned describing the keep where the rift was located. The book had been “lost” recently, Valthrun had said at their last meeting, which the wary adventurers believed to be the result of a theft by the shifty half-elf Ninaran who assists Valthrun. Valthrun had found the book, but the maps of the keep were missing somehow. Still, Valthrun told the group more about the keep, its history, and its fall into darkness.
Valthrun leans over and opens the book describing the keep. “Ah, the gravestones. So many gravestones! Shall I tell you about them?” The group looks a little hesitant. “No, how about the pottery? Look at these pictures of the beautiful pottery.” Skamos says,”would you tell us about the history? How did the rift get here?”
Valthrun gave the adventurers more than knowledge. He also handed scrolls and components to Z’alden and Skamos. The scroll and components of “Knock” were graciously accepted by Z’alden while Skamos thanked the learned one for the gift of scroll and components for “Magic Mouth.”
After accepting these gifts, the restored five adventurers went to Lord Padraig to try to arrange a reward for the closing of the rift and the destruction of the cult evil. Here, they failed, as Lord Padraig said, “Bring me proof of this impending doom and then we can discuss a reward.” After Z’alden got his new magical chainmail from the Dwarven smith and Barrick hefted his new mighty shield, the five set off on their horses to the Keep.
As they approached the Keep, even from far away, a sense of dread permeated the land. Drawing closer, no cover could be found, as the area was devoid of life. Then, on the ramparts, Skamos spied a skeleton throwing a body over the side wall. With the horse hobbled, they approached on foot. Peering over the edge of wall, a pile of bones and the reek of death met them, with the recently tossed body topping the heap.
With Felsmon and Barrick in the lead, they tried to follow the path of the skeleton down a flight of stairs. The noise erupting from Felsmon’s platemail startled a goblin guard who ran away shouting, “They’re here!” The five entered into a chamber illuminated by 4 large pedestal braziers. Hallways extended north, across from the stairs, and east and west of the room. As they reached the room, a crossbow bolt rang out at them. They were under attack from a concealed foe! Black flames of power erupted from Tira, blindly trying to strike their adversary. Goblin laughter could be heard. Barrick proceeded to head in the direction of the shooter, only to fall into a pit of spikes and rats! Wounded, he was still strong enough to grab a rope lowered by Felsmon, but returned with many biting rats covering him. Silver flame shot from Z’alden, attacking the rats, while an image of the Platinum wings of Bahamut wrapped around Barrick, giving him added protection from further harm.
Two goblins appeared from behind a curtain down the west corridor, while the goblin in the north corridor approached also. Powerful magic from Skamos seared one of the goblins, even as Skamos was hit by a crossbow bolt. Barrick and Skamos, working together, quickly dispatched one of the little buggers while Felsmon, Tira, and Z’alden battled the other two. With one more dead, the third starting running down the east corridor shouting, “Splug, Splug, save me!” He too, was felled.
Finding little of value on these foul creatures, the group agreed to take the east corridor and find out who or what was “Splug.” Felsmon and Barrick led, with Skamos and Tira following and Z’alden covering the rear. The corridor ended in doors straight ahead and to the right. Felsmon heard a thudding noise beyond the door directly in front. Felsmon opened the door and went into the room, with Barrick close behind. From his mouth, Felsmon issued powerful lightning bolts, searing two surprised goblins. Across the large torture chamber, a third goblin was also surprised. Black flames erupted from Tira, bright magical rays shot forth from Skamos, and a crossbow bolt flew from Z’alden’s weapon, bringing down the little nasty.
Further in the room, the two wounded goblins were immediately engaged by Felsmon and Barrick. A huge monster at the far side in the room, raged in fury. It raced over, angry at the intrusion. As the large humanoid moved to engage, Felsmon threw a pot of magic jelly at him, immobilizing the beast. In the battle with the three creatures, with Felsmon’s mighty sword and Barrick’s new battleaxe cleaving the goblins and hacking into the monstrous brute. Powerful silver dragon forms erupted from Z’alden attacking the enemy while protecting dragon wings wrapped around Skamos. The wizard’s magical missiles and Tira’s powerful black flames racked the goblins in magical flames. The monsters were outmatched and quickly dispatched by the excellent teamwork and power of the adventurers.
Exploring the torture chamber, little of value was found. Z’alden retrieved his crossbow bolt. Behind one prison door containing the goblin writing “Splug rules” crossed out, a little goblin was found. “Who are you?”, Tira queried. “I am Splug”, the little goblin said. The group questioned “Splug” but he claimed to know nothing about a rift or cult evil. With a small stature, this Splug was not exactly the fearsome protector the group was expecting. They remained in the torture chamber with Splug, debating what to do next.