Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

The Chamber of Eyes
In which the adventurers defeat the Bloodreavers


The evening grew overly long as Rift finished the tale of the battle with the Duergar and so we all headed back to our chambers to sleep off the buzzing in our heads and the heaviness in our bellies. The next day the tale of the destruction of the Bloodreaver Gang continued.

Originally there had been five: a cleric, paladin, fighter, wizard and warlock. They had done great deeds for the Nentir Vale, including the destruction of a terrible portal that threatened to link this world with the greatest depths of evil. Upon their successful return to Winterhaven there was nary time to rest. The warlock Tira and the wizard Skamos hastily departed on a personal quest – a tale which is best suited to another chapter. Meanwhile, her high excellency Marla of Pelor arrived with news of the Bloodreavers and their abductions of innocent townsfolk of the Harkenwold. The adventuring group had been split but it was quickly reformed by the impetuous Rift and the brash young ranger Erik Stormgrund who had done the initial tracking of the Bloodreaver gang to Thunderspire Mountain.

At Marla’s bequest, and with the promise of a handsome reward from the Baron of Harkenwold, the group traveled southeast along the King’s Road to Fallcrest and then further east along the Trade Road to Thunderspire Mountain. The mission was to rescue the captives from the mysterious Bloodreaver Gang.

The story resumes with the adventurers having travelled into the very heart of Thunderspire Moutain, through the Seven Pillard Hall and mazes of the Minotaurs. My patrons have told tales that are incredible and I still cannot believe even half of it. Yet they have drawn me in, and not just with the new coins in my pocket nor the fantastic tales of alleged deeds, but with the full story that continues to unfold now, as I turn my quill back to the parchment…

9) Into the Chamber of Eyes

“Where were we? ”, asked Rift, still bleary eyed as though she had just gotten out of bed just in time for dinner. My effort to answer by scanning the prior day’s notes was interrupted – “Oh, the duergar battle, um, the flaming little creature I turned to ash as he ran from the battle for help. Yes, we then took a rest in that chamber so that we’d all be stronger for the next battle. You know, we had heard this nasty guttural breathing of a terrible beast which lay beyond those double doors.”

Listening to her out of one ear, I peered up from my notes as Z’alden and the dwarf, Barrick, joined us at the table. “Where are Felsmon and Erik?”, I inquired.

“Felsmon is out out looking for Erik. We think Erik is out in that glade of aspens meditating”, answered Z’alden.

“Erik likes to talk about, uh, what’s the word… finesse. Ha!”, rejoined Barrick, “Ain’t noth’n better than standing toe-to-toe with the enemy in full-on combat. Bash. Bash. Never had any use for dancing.”

Despite the ribbing, it was clear to me that by this point Erik and Rift had been fully accepted by the original three. All five were very different in their personalities and fighting styes, but it was these differences which made them stronger.

“So, there we were, mending out wounds from the battle with the duegar”, continued Z’alden, “We spent some time deciding what to do next. We knew that our immediate destiny lay in that double-doored room, but to try to go around the back or make a frontal assault? What say Bahamut?”

“Frontal assault!”, grinned Barrick. “Got me this scar from that one”, he said, showing it off proudly.

Z’alden continued, “We lined up in the corridor, Barrick leading the way, followed by Felsmon and then the rest of us; Erik with a bow. The plan was to have Barrick and Felsmon enter left and then right, with me in the middle and Rift and Erik laying down long range attacks. Instead, when Barrick peered around the corner, it was ‘thwap, thwap, thwap’. A hail of arrows rained down. Praise be to Bahamut that Barrick survived.”

Z’alden then described the room as long and rectangular. At one end were the double doors and at the far end was a statue and carving that formed a shrine to the evil toad god Torog. On each of the long sides were stairs that ascended to a high ledge that hugged the perimeter, giving access to the shrine to Torog. In the center of the floor were heavy chains which the adventurers surmised were used to hold the captives. Positioned in the middle of one side was a door – access which the adventurers would make use of. This was the “chamber of eyes”. More interesting were the current inhabitants of the room…

“Despite the storm of arrows, Barrick counted three hobgoblin archers, their chief and an enormous wolf-like creature”, explained Z’alden.

At this point Felsmon returned with Erik who had been fetched from his day of training. Z’alden and Barrick excused themselves to go get a pint of ale, with Barrick’s eagerness being quite noticeable. Rift sat in the corner rubbing her head, muttering about a new potion to combat intoxication as though it was some physical foe. Erik continued the story of the battle that unfolded…

“The archers had anticipated our arrival. Barrick slammed the door shut just in time, with the hot breath of dire wolf just on the other side. At first we didn’t realize it, but upon looking at Barrick, he was quite injured. So using divine healing words, Z’alden restored Barrick to good health as best he could.”

“Rift and Felsmon then quickly headed for the side door that Barrick had spotted. The plan was to try to make a less, uhh, bold entrance, and perhaps grab one of the enemies. We were all concerned about the side rooms that they had to pass along the way – those rooms had not been cleared. Luckily everything was okay, at least until they got up to the side door.”

“When Rift burst open that side door the hobgoblin chief and one of his archers were ready for her and attacked. It’s amazing, but that little Rift is quite the hard one to hit! She responded with a wicked scorching burst of fire – and then another. They paid the price. Trust me, don’t mess with this wizard!”

The mentioning of Rift’s name was enough to distract her, but instead of commenting she uncharacteristically just smiled.

“At that point, another hobgoblin archer turned to fire on Rift, but missed, as did his comrade by the door who was armed with a sword. Room had been made for our heavy armor, Felsmon, who then rushed past Rift and charged out onto the ledge. With a mighty heave, the hobgoblin guard was knocked off the ledge to the chamber’s floor.”

“Meanwhile, back at the double doors, Z’alden swung them open and immediately cast his divine powers against the dire wolf. I joined the fray along with Barrick who was still suffering from his wounds and failing to connect with the giant wolf. Only one of my two arrows found its mark.”

“Across the room we could see the hobgoblin chief raise his guard back up to the ledge. This was a disheartening sight to see! Sword and arrows Barrick and I know, but magic? Our strength here is in Rift who immediately attacked the guard, shoving it once again off the ledge. The first kill. Seeing our plight with the dire wolf, she moved along the ledge to flank it, but the hobgoblin chief got in a strike. Our wizard – in melee combat!”

“From across the room, the remaining two archers shot at Felsmon, one missing completely and the other reflecting off his mighty armor. Not even flinching at the arrows, the dragonborn concentrated a mighty blow against the hobgoblin chief, sending him reeling backwards. A turn in our favor.”

Erik’s increased hand gestures belied the calm the young ranger sought to present…

“Z’alden’s powers are amazing… from across the room he attacked the wolf while giving strength to Felsmon, who now stood alone on his side of the room. Aye, brave paladin. The hobgoblin chief leapt off the ledge rather than further face our Felsmon.”

“At this point I attempted to set a flurry of arrows upon the beast. Alas, only one struck, but it mattered little for Barrick had regained his composure from that first hail of arrows. His axe swung with brute force, striking and sinking deeply into the mangy flesh of the dire wolf. It now lay dead before us. A thrilling sense of impending victory washed over us.”

“Rift now turned her focus to the remaining two archers, who still threatened us from the floor and the far ledge. She let loose her arcane fire, burning both and making them think twice about their current motivations. Yet they still did not yield. In a flurry of chaos they moved to attack the un-armored wizard, dealing two serious blows but not before she could get in a strike of her own.”

“All the while, Felsmon was running along the ledge to get to the archer on the far side, stopping momentarily to let out a mighty roar… the fearsome attack of the dragonborn… lightening shooting forth to strike the hobgoblin chief and an archer.”

“Seeing Rift in a bad way, Z’alden said a prayer of Bahamut that sent out healing energies to Rift while striking at a hobgoblin archer. With the battle going our way, but Rift still in peril, I then moved into the chamber to attack the enemy chief. Two arrows just grazed him. I must work on my skill with the bow, for he then turned his anger toward me, dealing a fair bit of damage. Fresh off slaying the dire wolf, Barrick also joined the battle in the center of the room, which now had a second hobgoblin attacking me.”

“The thick of the battle was on. Z’alden flanked the guard and with his mace struck hard, branding the foe with glowing runes and empowering Felsmon. I dodged back from the hobgoblin chief and finally, at long last, let fly my best arrow. I could sense the arrow’s feathers guiding it to a gap in the chief’s armor. It sunk deep. A lethal blow. Krand, the hobgoblin chief, was dead!”

At this point Erik sat back in his chair with contentment. The battle was not over as Z’alden took maximum damage from one of the remaining hobgoblins. But it was a loosing battle for the two. As one tried to escape up to the ledge, it was knocked unconscious and the other was out-right captured. This hobgoblin, Argrink, was interrogated but revealed nothing of use.

Upon searching the Chamber of Eyes, the adventurers found a silver key on Krand, the hobgoblin chief, which lead to many riches when used on the chest in his personal chamber:

- 5 gems consisting of 3 amethysts and 2 peridots
- a rather large quantity of gold and silver
- a potion of healing (as identified by Rift)
- battle forged plate armor (for use by Felsmon)

Finally, the group received a clue about the whereabouts of the captives. It came in the form of a two-day old letter from one Murkelmor Grimmerzhul:

This is my written agreement of the
purchase and transfer of the prisoners
taken from Riverdown.  The sum of 1,000
gold pieces was given by me, and received
by Chief Krand.

Barrick and Z’alden had returned to our table, not only with a second round of ale but plates of food. Rift also sat close, still quiet, but becoming more of her lively self. The story of the Bloodreavers was not done. The Chamber of Eyes had not been fully searched…

10) Bloodreaver’s End?

Well, the five brave adventurers seem to have a nice tidy tale. But, being an inquisitive and bright scholar, I like to explore all angles to a story. Especially a humdinger like this one. Imagine my surprise then, when a battle-scarred human bandit (as I presume he must be), showed up in the tavern one night, long after even Barrick had lulled himself to sleep. This bandit, if he can be believed, had an interesting tale.

“Th’ name’s Bawb. Yep, that’s right. Bawb. Short and sweet, not like me.”

“So ther we wuz, me an’ my comrades. Just sittin’, shootin’ the breeze, knocking back a few. Those hobbies and gobbies may stink, but they can sure hold their ale. And the tales they tell of their womenfolk. Whew!”

At this point, the bandit, who smelled none too good himself, nearly choked on a turkey leg, before getting a hold of himself.

“Wait, where wuz I?”

“Oh yeah, just minding our own business, we wuz. Slavery’s hard business after all. Humanoid’s gotta have a chance to relax once in a while… All of a sudden, bang! Some fool kicks the door in. Don’t know what we wuz expectin, maybe a troll or something. But, noooooo. It’s a group of high-falutin’ adventurers. Ha!”

Here, Bawb spit vehemently, narrowly missing my +1 mouseskin slippers. What an uncouth fellow. Still, one must deal with all sorts.

“So, the first thing we see is like this half-pint fighter type. Guess he was a dwarf, tho’ I don’t hang around much with them rich types. Probably had tons o’ magic too, seemed like he really liked that axe of his. Anyhoo, then this guy in the back starts shoutin’ about dragons or some such nonsense. Whatever. Finally, this chick waving a stick like thinks, oh she’s so cool. And what does she do? She freezes our butts off! Unbelievable. Crank, Billie, and Buggyboo are like down for the count, like frozen fish or somethin’.”

“Then, get this. From the kitchen, we hear a cry for help. Poor Stinky and Rottentoes, just tryin’ to cook up a decent spread (so we don’t eat them instead!) Har, har! Anyway, these burly type dudes have somehow forced their way into our kitchen. Well, me, I figure they must be after our stash of ale. Why else attack our innocent band?”

Here, Bawb gets quite worked up. Evidently, the remainder of the story must be quite painful to recall. But, after I buy him a few rounds, he manages to choke down his tears and forge ahead.

“Well, we wuz no match for these types. Must’a been 10 of them, all wailin’ on us with battleaxes, swords, big dragon heads breathin’ fire, crazy women with hands ‘o flame. You name it. Man, now I’m a good fighter mind you. But once I seen poor Rottentoes go down, guts hanging on the end ‘o the sword of that stealthy ranger-type, then I just had enough. That ranger, he’s nuts. Not to mention his big scaly friend. You think to yourself, I seen it all. But no, along comes something like that, lightnin’ shooting out of every orifice. I mean, geez. It ain’t worth it.”

I quietly ask him what he did next.

“What did I do? Hummph! I did what any self-respectin’ bandit would do. I ran for it! But no, they wouldn’t let me get away, would they? Probably wanted a bandit head for a trophy or somethin’. First that daft female wizo type is breathin’ down my butt, flames comin out of her hair and such. Then, the big dragon dude stomps over and starts shoutin’ at me. Couldn’t understand a word he wuz sayin, but he wuz scary. Threw down my sword, said I surrender, like twice and all. But no, clonk me on the head, they do, then drag me around after ‘em like a sack of rocks. Head still hurts.”

At this point Barrick, who had been sleeping under a nearby table, staggered up. As soon as Bawb caught sight of him, his eyes grew wide in alarm.

“Aaaaaaa! The bearded short one with the axe! Torog blast me!”

Grabbing his mug of ale, the bandit leaped up, knocking over his chair, before running for the door.

I put down my pen, sentence unfinished. I do not know quite what to think. Was the bandit indeed describing the same group of so-called adventurers? If so, then perhaps I underestimated them. I must ponder this further…

Inside the Bowels of Thunderspire
Boldly, the adventurers pursue the BloodReavers


When a mad-eyed dwarf and his filthy companions first bade me sit at their table in the public house, I pretended not to notice them. Dark traces of blood skulked on their weapons, and they shared a certain hardness in their faces, as of a small band of warriors facing a dark and endless horde.

But they knew me to be a scrivener’s son looking for work, and would not have me demur. Besides, they paid more handsomely than even my esteemed father, once scribe to royalty, could have expected. At least, they said they did. Many of the coins and artifacts with which they presented me were, and remain, unknown to me and everyone else in this town.

They wanted me, they said, to transpose their diaries, listen to their stories, and compile the lot for the sake of posterity. Fair enough, but what I got to work with were scribblings, drunken ramblings, and tales of such outlandishness that I feared for my reputation if I reported them as factual. The ragged band is gone now, supposedly off on another adventure, and I do not expect to see them again. I swore to bind their preposterous stories and publish them, and so I have. I did not swear to tell them in my own voice. Sometimes I have done so; other times I have written down their words, and sometimes I have simply included original written texts I received from them, transposed in my hand.

If even a small part of what is related here is true, our world is stranger, more troubled, and much more deadly than we think, who walk in daylight and nestle in the warm bosom of our homes.

-Torben Eastlander

1) The Road to Thunderspire

Based on interviews with the survivors.

According to what I heard during several sessions with my employers around an ale-drenched wooden table, the Thunderspire epic began with introductions. Two of the five adventurers were new to the others, who had been together for some time, having fought in the company of two other since-departed wariors to seal off a “Rift”, as they termed it, that would have allowed the most monstrous creatures imaginable to enter our world. As if those sitting across the table from me were not monstrous enough.

I immediately saw this claim to be stuff and nonsense, “Rift” being simply the name of one of the newcomers, a female Eladrin Wizard with more intelligence than the rest combined, but as little impulse control, according to the dwarf, as a “seasick goblin”. The other newcomer, Erik, was a stealthy Ranger type, maybe a little too proud of his ability to wield two weapons at once. Along with the Dwarf, who claimed to have been fighting for a hundred years, but seemed instead to have been drinking that long, there were also a half-elf Cleric with a strong grip and a gift for erudition, as well as a strapping Paladin Dragonborn who, the others insisted, had already died in battle. He didn’t look dead to me.

After a couple days’ journey east along the King’s Road, the fast-moving group turned up the cobbled path towards the mountain. Spirits were high. They had been training, studying, and equipping since their last battles, and all reported progress and a feeling of confidence, save the dwarf, who was troubled by his feeling that magic was beginning to encroach upon his hitherto all-natural fighting style.

They entered a long passage into the mountain, wide and lined with torches.

2) BloodReavers’ Blood

Based on an interview with the dwarf Barrick

“We passed many dark passages to the left and right, not much scent, and finally saw light coming from under a door. We listened, and it seemed like an innocent halfling was being held against his will. Truth be told, we had little enough reason to think so, but we smelled goblin or worse, and anyway we never pass up the chance for a fight.”

“Felsmon thought to scare the occupants out of defending themselves – if anyone could do it, he could. Smashing in the doors, our pal made a din – Hah! He’s a Pal-a-din, get it! Anyway, he shrieked at the 5 creatures inside to lay down their weapons upon pain of death, while we all grunted and clanged our steel, but they just laughed, and 4 of them came right at us.”

“Both our additions, Erik and Rift, were quick off their marks, wanting to prove their mettle to us, I make no doubt. Now, I don’t mean to make excuses, but I hadn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since my battleaxe turned out to have a hex on it. The others said I should be glad to have it, since I used it to slay Kalarel (May Bahamut infest his remains with poisoned maggots). But I hate magic – except when it’s healing me, of course – and the cursed axe lay there by my side, every night, making me feel cursed, too. Come to think of it, almost like a dwarven wife. Anyway, now, in the first real fight since the fall of Kalarel (May Bahamut slay his descendants in their baths), I was slow to use the thing, and when I finally did, I missed, and missed again.”

“Luckily, the others were on their best feet. Erik often got in two blows for every one he received. Rift conjured a blast that burned all five of the baddies, and topped that by hitting their leader with some kind of ice spell – the old hot-and-cold routine. The steadfast Cleric Z’alden was up to his usual stunts, slamming the poor Weavers [sic] with magic jolts left and right while boosting the fortunes of the rest of us, as is his wont. And our pal Felsmon made a din– oh, used that already, did I? – anyway Felsmon moved in close, ducking a blow on the way, then softened up three of the beasts with his breath alone, though you mightn’t believe it if you hadn’t smelled it, and then gave a shocking thump to the breast of one of them. That must have boosted the youngster’s confidence.”

“Watching my comrades with my jaw hanging open, I got hit hard in the gut, which doubled me over. Good thing, because their leader just then sent some magic blast, which hit everyone but me. It knocked all 4 of my friends off their feet, and even killed one of our enemies for us! Still bent in half, I watched helplessly as another attacker swung a mighty stroke at Felsmon as the lad lay prone – but Dragonborn are agile for their size, you know, and the swing only bounced off the stone floor.

“It looked bad for us just then, but Rift, still on the floor, had an idea to cause chaos to our attackers by spilling ale from a set of casks lining one wall, using a creepy floating hand spell. Sounds crazy, and maybe it was – that Rift can be a loose hammerhead sometimes.”

“Funny thing though, as soon as the smell of that ale hit the air, our luck started to turn. Erik had been badly hurt, but healed by Z’alden, and with the scent of brew in the air, he strode up and killed their leader with a double blow, as calm as a halfling weeding a garden! Then I perked up, the pungent goblin ale stench flowing in through my nostrils and pushing the bad magic out of my head. I leapt up on top of the nearest casket, feeling the strength flowing up to me on the odor, and gave a huge strike down on the head of the nearest Weaver [sic] (May Bahamut rain fire on his village). Even that didn’‘t kill him, though.”

“Rift came out with another ice shock – don’t remember Skamos, who was a Wizard too, using that one very often – and both our remaining targets fell, one breaking his neck on the way. Erik dispatched the last one soon enough, after Felsmon had slipped on the ice. And so it was over.”

“Afterwards I sat on an emptying barrel of ale, holding my axe, which was a stranger to me now, as the battlejoy flowed slowly out of me to join the ale in a puddle on the floor. I wondered how much the cursed axe was to blame for my poor showing, only one good hit in an even 5-on-5 fight. Was I becoming useless, as the others threw more and more magic around? Erik flashes two weapons around like lightning, and here I could barely control one? Felsmon, at twice my size, moves around the room on his young legs faster than I?”

“So, I did what I always do when I think too much – I started to drink.”

3) A Halfling’s Tale

The half-elf cleric Z’alden spoke with such earnestness that I thought, at first, he was trying to convert me to Bahamut. Then, I realized, the breathlessness arose from his mental struggles, as he tried to recall what had occurred after the fight Barrick had described. Here is what he relayed to me. Believe what you will.

“Barrick’s morose feelings are betrayed by his excellence in battle. His bravery and skill are legendary. Even still, his strong arm was weak compared to the strong mouth plastered on the face of the most ungrateful rescued halfling you have ever met. Indeed, we had just saved the little Rendil Halfmoon from becoming Rendil Half-a-head, and he lips off here and there to us. I was astonished. It was preposterous! Still, he knew much about the BloodReavers, their comings and goings through secret tunnels in this mountain.”

“Even more incredibly, he told us the directions to find their lair. And, finally showing some gratitude, offered to lead us to a wonderous underground city and host us in the finest rooms at his family’s inn.”

Z’alden described an incredible city, the Seven-Pillared Hall, carved deep within Thunderspire Mountain. I nearly spit out my ale when the half-elf exclaimed, “Minotaurs! It was built by Minotaurs, who destroyed each other in a civil war over what god they should worship. Religious wars can be difficult if one is too fervent. Never get too fervent. Have faith and act to destroy evil. Uphold justice and help the weak. Smash undead whenever possible. That makes for a good day. Simple.”

Finishing his little homily, the cleric completed his story. The halfling led the group to the city’s watchman, “Brug”, supposedly a Ogre over 12 feet tall. Likely not. The group had to pledge to tell no outsiders of the city. And, yet, here I am writing down their very notes and tales. Some pledge. Still, the wonders of three mage rulers cloaked in black hoods who could teleport in and out of an underground tower and stop any and all conflict among the disparate races who lived in the city deserves mention if only for the level of fantasy that the half-elf clearly believed from the halfing’s story of the city.

The Bahamut cleric described the Halfmoon Inn of Rendil’s as a fair place, far more comely and pleasant than the one we find ourselves in now. In gratitude, Rendil’s mother, Effra, did give 3 rooms to the group to house them and offered the rooms for as long as they were not taken.

Incredibly, Z’alden seemed to recall little else of this halfing, other than still smiling when he thought of the map that Rendil had provided, directing them to the hiding place of the BloodReavers. Something about a goblin who had been unable to make a map and wanting to track down the greasy beast and teach him map-making in his own blood.

4) Hall of the Seven Pillars

I tried to divine from the group the description of the so called Seven-Pillared hall. As not one of the party reported counting seven pillars I wonder as to the accuracy of their ramblings. They gave me a map of the hall although the lines appear to be too straight to be sketched in the dark of a cave. If one can believe the tales of a fully functional city, hidden underneath the cold, drenched Thunderspire peak, then here it is.

The city is controlled either by a self-inflated ogre named Brug or Brugg, or was it Grub, or controlled by invisible mages each of which can single-handedly quell all drunken brawls.

This city apparently is inhabited not only by humans, elves and halflings, but also by drow, orcs and duergar, and possibly worse. A dwarf selling gemstones, now that I can believe, but a half-orc running the local taproom? Now I ask you friend, have you ever seen orcs and drow working side by side? Neither have I. Ah well, maybe I can sell this rabble as a story for the little ones; no one else could possibly believe such pap.

Not only did they tell me of a bar and a inn deep inside the mountain, but a wainwright, a fully stocked merchant and even a happy little curio shop run by a grumpy drow named Gendar. The waterfall and bubbling brook flowing under quaint stone bridges sounds like something from a fairytale, not a hardened trading location for the Underdark. It almost brings images of a goblin and her secret bugbear romancer skipping hand in hand over the stones.

The temple in this fabled city worships Erathis, the god of great invention and civilization. Hardly the proper choice for a cramped hidden group of ruffians living in old crumbling damp stone buildings.

The inn is run by a pair of halflings, Rendil, desribed elsewhere in my writings, and his mother Erra. I wonder if the ale there is any good, now I could see good ale being the cause of unfriendly creatures sharing a table. Peradventure my old legs might carry me to this place some year for such a mug.

Oh, and one cannot forget the mage’s tower, accesible only by dancing in front of a statue of a minotaur. What a party this dark place must be.

No, not one piece of this tale makes any sense. But if I do not honour my word to put this down on parchment then I am nothing.

5) The Chamber of Eyes

As the scrivener turns to Felsmon, the paladin grunts and lightning flashes between his teeth. The scrivener then turns to the rest of the party “Does anyone else want to describe this part of the adventure?” he says shakely.

6) Battle of the BugBear

The conversation then turned to the encounter with the bugbear. For this I became better acquainted with Erik, the young human ranger who had just recently joined the adventuring troop. He and Rift shared some kind of bond but it was tough to discern the exact nature of their connection. So I asked Erik, “Tell me about Rift”, and his response was quick, “She’s an elf.” With that illuminating answer, I knew that many a glass of ale would be finished before this tale was told. Erik then let out a loud “Ow!” as his head bopped forward as if someone had slapped his head from behind. Rift shouted from another table, “High-elf!”.

I then began to tease the tale of the bugbear out of Erik. Fortunately his tongue flowed faster and looser as additional quantities of ale were applied.

“From the entry room of the Chamber of Eyes, we crept along the balcony toward a door to the east. We’d soon set ourselves upon the enemy into glorious battle. I was in the lead as I have the most quiet manner. Around a corner I could see a room with a couple of goblins – easy pickings. I then signaled for the group to advance. When we did, we were shocked to see a giant, goblinoid creature in a part of the room that I hadn’t been able to see. More for the glory of my twin blades!”

“All hell broke lose in that small room. Beds and tables obstructed our movement and I found myself on the far side of the room, going toe-to-toe with the terrible beast. [Later determined to be a bugbear.] It stood somewheres over seven feet tall, wild with matted hair. My companions remained on the other side of the room hampered by the obstructions, none the least of which were the two goblins.”

“While I battled the bugbear, two more goblins appear from another entrance to the room. Curses. Luckily there was a fire pit between me and them, but unfortunately one of them kept pelting me with a crossbow. I had to stand and take the bolts, being too busy getting licks in on the bugbear. Brave Felsmon did what he could to help me, leaving his back undefended to face the goblins. With mighty strength the Dragonborn pushed the bugbear into the fire pit. A foul stench of burnt bugbear hair filled the room. Arcane magic sprung from Rift, freezing the just recently singed monster. At least I wouldn’t die with foul burnt bugbear fresh in my nostrils. Seeing me seriously injured, Z’adlen channeled the power of Bahumut whereupon a divine glow enveloped me, giving me enhanced vigor to fight on. I then let loose a furious twin-blade attack on the bugbear. It staggered back only to fall dead on the cold, stony floor.”

“Eager to escape the goblin’s crossbow, I leapt across the table and deftly struck at the two remaining goblins in the room. Each sword simultaneously plunged deeply into its target, slaying them both.”

With this little part of the tale, Erik squirmed as if his trousers were in a bunch. “I was the one who instructed you to simultaneously attack the two goblins because their backs were to you as they fought us!”, shouted Rift, still sitting at the other table but now observing with a contemptuous look on her face. She then joined Erik and I at the table, choosing to sit quite close to me that made me feel both awkward and gladdened. With the insouciance that only Rift could so masterfully deliver, the story was finished for Erik…

“The remaining two goblins fled. They were later easily dispatched by my fiery sphere.”

Given Erik’s wounds from the bugbear and goblin crossbow, surely Z’alden’s immense healing powers had been used, aided by a powerful item they had found. Some kind of “Belt of Sacrifice.” And so the tail of the Chamber of Eyes continued, with a drunken Rift still sitting at my side…

7) Mystery Room

Scrivener’s note: I was unable to make enough sense of a scrap of parchment handed to me by the barely-literate dwarf, as usual in a drunken stupor. It seemed to be an attempt at recording part of their adventure. What part, he never told me. Some sort of contest of strength perhaps? I have transcribed it here.

Room: Walls
Middle: Wall
Smell: Rocks
<illegible>: Gold?
Half-wall: shape of “L”
Mermaid carving: serpent from waist down
- doodle of stocky mermaid with very large bust -
Plan: Push
Erik: Pushd.
Zalden: Pushd hard
Smell: Mold
Barrick: Pushd very hard
Felsmon: Pushd very very hard.
Lookd at walls
Lookd down
Lookd up
All: Pushd very very very hard.
Rift: Magickd
Z’alden: Magickd
Smell: Fishes
I Hate Fishes
All: Pushd very very very very hard.
Go kill Bloody Weavers.

8) Duergar Battle

Based on an interview with the beautiful, but troubled, eladrin wizard, calling herself Rift.

When asked what her last name was, she started shouting oaths in a strange primordial tongue. After being restrained by her less-hasty comrade Erik, she started her tale, amid much muttering and cursing… Note to self – Give this one a wide berth in the future…

“As I was saying, my name is Rift. I have no last name. I am an eladrin, although I prefer the term ‘high-elf’. As a wizard, I try to control the battlefield through my arcane mastery of fire and ice. This gives my brave companions the opportunity to sink their swords and axes into the weak hearts of our cowardly enemies, or into meddlesome scribes who ask impertinent questions!”

“Anyhow, our brave companions and I had decided that a frontal assault on the double doors was not a wise plan. It seemed wise to me, but I have been accused of having the brains of a mindflayer and the wisdom of a scurvy-plagued goblin. Fine. No frontal assault.”

Here, the wizard broke off again with much muttering, and could only be brought back to her tale with my promise of fine wine.

“Well, as I was saying, we snuck down a narrow, disused passage until we came to a door. Now, being brave, we decided to burst open the door and charge. Unfortunately, the room turned out to be quite small, with a huge fireplace, roaring like a thousand dwarves who are out of ale. The room was also, unfortunately, occupied by two of those vile duergar. Unlike their more peaceful and happy-go-lucky brethren (like our good friend Barrick), these duergar had the audacity to attack us with their toy warhammers.”

“Then, to make matters worse, these foul creatures began pulling out quills from their smelly beards and throwing them. Our poor friend Erik, nimble as he is, was not quick enough to dodge one of these poisonous missiles. Well, we decided it was time to give these wretches a good close shave.”

“I played what modest part I could, conjuring up a sheet of frigid ice to cool their tempers, and knocking them senseless to the floor. Felsmon, Barrick, and Erik quickly took advantage of this, surrounding the hapless imitation dwarves, and furiously raining blows down upon them. Z’alden, good soul that he is, channeled the power of Bahamut to aid us and to blast these cursed freaks of dwarven nature.”

“Summoning up my reserves, I conjured a living ball of fire, a sphere of doom, a radiant burst of flickering dea…”

Here the wizard choked on her wine, spraying it across the table and extinguishing the candle. After the undead dragonborn had thumped her on the back, and she had re-lit the candle with a wave of her shapely hand, she continued.

“Like I was saying, the sphere of flame appeared across the room, striking out at one of the terrified duergar, scorching his ugly backside. With the smell of burning duergar in their nostrils, my comrades became emboldened, striking even more fiercely. The pesky goblins were the first to fall, the heat of the flames and the mighty sword and axe strokes were too much to bear.”

“It was at this moment that a dreaded hobgoblin warcaster appeared. But, it was to no avail. Hemmed in by my brave comrades, with their backs to the flames, our foolish enemies could do little. Alas, a little was enough. The warcaster, seeing his mongrel friends being ground into dust, became enraged and weaved a spell. The waves of pure energy surged across the room, picked up our poor comrade Z’alden, and sent him skittering into the fireplace like a burnt offering to his mighty god.”

“But Z’alden is made of sterner stuff. Shaking off the glowing embers, he emerged from the flames completely unscathed, except for the stinging smoke in his eyes. A miracle? No, we wizards do not believe in such. It was simply luck.”

“Z’alden, insisting that his scaly god had saved him, became ever more wrathful, urging our companions to strike down our foes. Dutifully, we complied. Down went the warcaster, still muttering an unfinished spell in an unholy tongue. The last to fall was one of the duergar. He stumbled out the door and down the stairs like a drunken dwarf, the ball of fire trailing behind him. Just as he reached the handle of the double doors and freedom, a tongue of flame leaped out and incinerated him. Unfortunately, his charred corpse had enough momentum to swing open the door, making his pathetic demise visible to all those in the chamber beyond.”

Her black eyes flashing, elven ears pointed jauntily, Rift thumped me on my back, causing my quill to splatter ink across the page.

“Well, that is enough for now, eh, scribe? How about more of that fine wine that you promised?”

‘Tis passing strange, but when I checked my purse to order more wine, my gold had mysteriously disappeared. I do not understand what happened to it… Ah well, no matter. The eladrin, Rift, has generously agreed to pay for all our expenses. She is really quite fetching in that green robe.

Discovering Thunderspire

As the three old comrades, the brave and noble Paladin of Bahamut Felsmon of Dragest Igetnem, the mighty dwarven warrior Barrick, and the heartfelt warrior priest of Bahamut,Z’alden Silverflame journeyed from Winterhaven to Fallcrest with their new companions, the able Ranger Erik Stormgrund and the impetuous but brilliant Eladrin wizard Rift, they were not quite sure what to make of their new companions and their new mission. Enlisted by Marla of Pelor, the 5 gathered needed equipment at Winterhaven, rode to Fallcrest, and discovered more information about the Bloodreavers and their lair of Thunderspire Mountain.

Sealing the Rift or... The Thing in the Portal
Will Kalarel fall?

On the left side of the doors, the half-elves Z’alden Silverflame and Tira Duskmeadow waited. On the other side, Skamos Redmoon, Felsmon, and Barrick also waited for the acolytes of Kalarel to pass through the doors and spring the trap. Skamos’ Tielfing tailed twitched in anticipation. The wizard had placed magical coins a few feet in front of the doors to distract the acolytes. Z’alden had thrown a sunrod into the middle of the room to make sure that they were distracted. Unfortunately, Azural and Mingot were indeed distracted and stopped, too soon, before Skamos and the dragonborn Felsmon could use their attacks without harming their comrades. Then, Z’alden spied the hands of these servants of Orcus and realized from his cleric trainging that they were not of the living, but rather, they were undead Wights. His eyes glistened, another chance to destroy evil incarnate! Bright radiance flared from his holy symbol of Bahamut and burned the two. The power was so great, Azural was pushed away towards the sword-wielding statue in the room. Immediately it began to swing at the Wight even as he was rendered immobile from the holy light.

The other wight, Mingot, was less powerful, and the combined forces of Skamos, Felsmon, and Barrick had him quickly restored to the dead. Tira’s warlock energy flew into Azural, wounding him. Then Azural did something remarkable. He pointed at Mingot and up Mingot rose, restored to his undead state. The group quickly determined that they must concentrate on Azural, who seemed able to avoid the swings of the statue without any problem. Realizing that the necrotic attacks of Azural and his resurrecting abilities had to be put to a stop, the mighty dwarf fighter charged towards the statue and Azural, biting into him with his axe even as leapt over the statue’s sword. Moments later the adventurers had triumphed, both acolytes were down, never to rise again.

The group paused to catch their breath and to discuss a plan for how to enter the room with Ninaran, knowing now that she was not the cult leader Kalarel. The Tielfing wizard and the half-elf cleric put on the robes of the Wights, and loosely tied the other three as prisoners. With a few minutes of chanting, Skamos materialized a floating disk to hold their weapons out of view. Leading the prisoners, Skamos and Z’alden advanced into the massive chamber of blood towards Ninaran. Reaching almost 60 feet into the chamber unimpeded, Skamos began to wonder if the ruse might just work. But, then, a zombie shouted, “Intruders!”

Seeing the zombie and the three more that appeared at the shout, Z’alden’s eyes almost glowed. “A chance to destroy more undead. This is good,” he thought. Searing light burst forth from the symbol of Bahamut, wounding all three, and sending one zombie to the north of the chamber and another to the south end, both immobilized.

The dwarf and the dragonborn charged up to Ninaran while Z’alden, Skamos, and Tira dispatched the zombies. Tira’s eldritch energy ripped into a zombie sending muck everywhere. From the wizard’s staff, a ray of light seared a zombie, exploding it. Soon, the zombies were dispatched, and Ninaran was on her knees. “Don’t kill me,” she pleaded. “Why should we let your evil live?” the dragonborn Paladin growled. “My brother Numien is a captive of Kalarel’s. Kalarel forced me to serve him or else my brother would be killed.” Z’alden asked,“Will you fight with us?” “I cannot, Kalarel would kill my brother.”

Barrick scowled,“Lies and more lies. Let’s kill her now.” But no one could detect any lies. Z’alden said,“Let’s find out of her story is true, first. We would have your dagger and anything else of yours that could help us in the fight with Kalarel.” Reluctantly, Ninaran pulled out an ornate dagger and handed it to Tira. Tira could sense the Warlock nature of the dagger – it would allow her to teleport an enemy. It felt good in her hands. She flung it across the room. It immediately returned to her. The dwarf scowled,“Teleportation. I hate teleportation.”

When asked about whether any other magical items were in the room, Ninaran pointed to a ragged pile in the corner containing the goods taken from the sacrifices. The adventurers looked at the pile of the victim’s goods. In the pile were two sets of magical boots – one of fine leather that Skamos believed would enhance stealth, and another solid and sturdy to empower a bull rush. Skamos put on the leather boots while Barrick shod himself with the sturdy boots. Additionally, a small metal shield brooch appeared to be magical and afford the wearer protection. Despite his reservations about magic, Barrick accepted this, too.

Then, Barrick bound and gagged Ninaran, all the while, Tira muttered, “We should just kill her. She’s probably lying.”

Felsmon, Z’alden, Tira, and Skamos stepped onto the platform that they had seen Kalarel and the acolytes use earlier, and Barrick lowered them. He then quickly descended on a chain. On the way down, Z’alden was bitten by an unseen foe, hearing only a swooshing sound that was gone too fast for him to fire his loaded crossbow. They descended into a massive chamber, the same size as that above. The platform stopped in a pool of blood. In front of them, 25 feet across, the Rift shimmered darkly. Far to their left, the cultist leader himself, Kalarel, chanted, his ram horn headdress moving up and down rhythmically with each diabolical syllable. An evil metallic dog at his side growled at the group. Neither moved. Behind them, a huge statue of Orcus towered. Between these three points, beams of living blackness pulsed stronger and stronger with each chant of Kalarel.

“You are too late!” the acolyte of Orcus roared triumphantly. The beams darkened and the tentacles of some horrible Thing in the Portal advanced out of the Rift. A massive bat flew down at the group, its wings swooshing. Two undead creatures moved forward from near the Rift towards the group. These vampire spawn immediately attacked. The battle had begun.

Z’alden gleamed as he saw the undead advance. This is what he lived for! Divine radiance bathed the creatures in pain, sending one back towards the Rift. Barrick and Felsmon engaged the other. The bat tore into Skamos, wounding him severely. Tira waved her wand, and the bat felt the power of the Warlock’s curse. Kalarel advanced, pointed his rod at Z’alden, and necrotic energy poured into the cleric, weakening him. Z’alden smiled, though, as his hands glowed, and he restored Skamos. Though weakened, his healing abilities were unimpeded.

Blades flashed, the bat attacked, and energy flew, as the battle raged. Skamos pointed his staff at Kalarel and a magical arrow, dripping acid, tore into the cultist. The acid flew towards the evil hound, wounding him as well. Kalarel’s rod continued its damage, weakening Barrick. Both the dwarf and Z’alden shook off the effects and engaged the Spawn. Felsmon waved his hand and divine runes scattered on the floor, creating a ward that protected the group. An orb of force appeared at the tip of Skamos’ staff and flew towards Kalarel. Its shards caused the cult leader to shriek in pain, and more shards pierced the dog making it howl.

Tira glared at Kalarel, cursed him, and threw her new dagger into him, striking true. Instantly, Tira could sense that she could teleport Kalarel. He shimmered, and she moved him closer to the Rift, from which only seconds earlier, the tentacles of the Thing had tried to attack one of the vampire spawn. Perhaps the Thing did not discriminate friend from foe!

Even as the adventurers were starting to gain the upper end, it became clear that the Thing was not attacking Kalarel. In fact, he smiled evilly and moved further over, towards a glowing blue disk on the floor. The acid arrow in his chest dissolved, and he breathed deeply, restored. Then evil energy radiated from Kalarel, restoring the bat and the Spawn. And the tentacles of the Thing advanced further as the Rift opened more. Z’alden extended his arms and a form of Bahamut appeared. The dragonform weakened the vampires even as it breathed on the wounded members of the group, restoring them. Z’alden continued to have a faint purple glow of enhanced healing powers, even as the dragonform dissipated. Despite this hope, the adventurers were not sure how this battle would turn out.

Kalarel continued to send necrotic energy at the group, wounding Felsmon and causing some of his scales to begin to peel off. The crossbow bolts of Z’alden could not hit the cultist in his circle of protection. The spells of Skamos and Tira seemed weaker as their energy went towards the slave of Orcus. The tentacles extended far beyond him now. No one in the group could reach him or seem to hurt, and he continued his attacks with impunity. The metal dog, teeth bared, bit into Barrick’s shield with no effect. “Nice doggy,” the brawny dwarf mocked. Then, seeing the ineffectual range attacks, Barrick did the unthinkable: he rushed towards the tentacles and toward Kalarel! Felsmon did the same, and slammed his magic sword Aecris into Kalarel, pulling him out of the circle. Wounded but unphased, Kalarel made it back into the protective glow.

Then, Barrick drove the toes of his new magic boots into the ground, ripping into the protective energy and shoved Kalarel out of the circle even as he dodged a tentacle.

Tira and Skamos turned their attentions to the vampire spawn, the dog, and the bats. Soon, the Warlock was gloating – dog down! bat down! The tide was turning.

As Kalarel tried to return again to the protective circle, the mighty dwarf swung his axe, cutting deeply in Kalarel. All of his companions marveled at the excellence of the swing. And then, they all marveled at something else. As Barrick, pulled the axe back, the dull, bloody blades fell off, as though made of paper, to reveal a shining, gleaming axehead. Barrick swung at Kalarel again and again with the enchanted weapon. “I love magic!” the dwarf exclaimed, as Kalarel staggered. As the tentacles of the Thing flailed at his armor, Felsmon’s grasped Aecris and ripped into the wounded Kalarel, sending healing energy to Barrick even as the sword crushed his foe. Kalarel was teetering from the onslaught of the warriors. Finally, Barrick tore the magic axe into the evil cultist, sending to him to his dark lord.

Soon, the last spawn was defeated. But, the black beams still grew strong, and the Thing began to push hard at the Rift. Four of the group worked together to topple the altar of bones. The Wizard put on ruby glasses that allowed him to read the evil ritual book and recite the ritual backwards. The beams weakened, and the Thing pulled back. Still, black energy still coursed from the stature of Orcus to the Rift. Guided by divine intuition, Z’alden attempted to heal the evil statue. Pieces of it fell off, wounding Z’alden. The beam weakened further but still it pulsed. Then, the adventurers found four eye hooks. The statue could be toppled with the loose chains hanging down the shaft. Quickly attaching them, Barrick pulled hard and soon the statue of Orcus was collapsed and destroyed. The beam shattered, and the tentacles of the Thing retreated back inside the rift.

At the north end of the chamber, the adventurers found a previously unnoticed pit. In the pit was chest of treasure and jewels, some strange magic items, and an elf , Ninaran’s brother Numien, imprisoned just as Ninaran had claimed. The group untied Ninaran and reunited her with her brother. The seven left the chamber into the outdoors through the lighted entrance.

The item was a box with colored sticks of several colors. Skamos could detect their magic qualities, chalk that would allow the artist’s picture to remain for many days. A wonderous item, indeed.

Treasure and magic items in hand, with Ninaran and Numien in tow, the five returned to their horses and rode slowly towards Winterhaven.

Close to the Rift
After treachery, the adventurers boldly pursue a path to the Rift


At the bottom of a long, dark spiral staircase, the group had paused at a door. After a reflective discussion on the Art of War led by the intriguing Tiefling wizard Skamos Redmoon, and Splug’s insistence on the superiority of Tzugrot Moonclaw’s original Goblin text, the adventurers had readied themselves for whatever lay beyond. Splug had been of little help, telling only half-descriptions of slithering sounds and a mysterious “pet” that the dwellers of this level kept. Splug did warn the five of the need for the passphrase to move beyond the guards but swore he did not know this key, even under the intimidating glare and threatening moves of the massive dragonborn Paladin Felsmon. Even Skamos’ offer of more pleasant discussion of the work of Moonclaw could not pry the passphrase from Splug.

At the door, Z’alden Silverflame the cleric used his new training to listen carefully. He could hear guttural shouts and laughs. “Splug, could the hobgoblins be playing some sort of game?” Z’alden asked. Splug had only quivered. “They could be tossing chickens to the pet!”

Skamos, unwavering despite Splug’s nervousness, stealthily opened the door. “Creeakk” Skamos and Splug entered not-so-quietly. Inside the room, two Hobgoblin brutes were tossing a skeleton head into a dump pit. As muck splashed from a successful basket, the nearby gong was sounded in triumph by a third. They leapt to their feat as the Tiefling and the Goblin entered the room. A fourth, the leader, accosted Skamos and Splug, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” One of the brutes said, “Is that Splug? I thought he was being tortured to death.”

Smoothly, the wizard replied, “I have a message for Kalarel. Splug has led me here to deliver it.” “Well, hand it over,” the leader said. “No, the message is memorized. I only deliver it to Kalarel.”

The leader paused. “Are you alone?” The Tiefling lied, “Yes. I am just here with Splug.” The Hobgoblin sent one of the brutes up the steps where the rest of the group was waiting. “Five others up here.” The dwarven warrior Barrick almost smiled, “I must count twice.”

Descending the steps, the group gathered behind Skamos at the edge of the room, tense.

The leader exclaimed, “What’s the passphrase?”

Everyone turned to look at Splug… “Er, um… ‘Life fails in the dark’?”

“Hmmmph,” muttered the leader. “Wasn’t that last week’s passphrase?” whispered one of the guards to another one.

“Very well, come along,” the leader said. Surprised by this fortituous turn of events, all six followed as they were led to a corridor. Keys jangled as a metal door was opened. “Kalarel is down the hall. Turn right. He’ll take the message.” As the group went through, the door closed and locked behind. Noticeably, Splug was absent. Still unaware of the treachery, the adventurers came to a T in the corridor. Believing that Kalarel lay to the right, the group turned to the left. Z’alden went ahead to an alcove to look for hidden doors and traps.

Stepping into the alcove, the half-elf was attacked by a formerly transparent and unnoticed Gelatinous Cube. It quickly enveloped the cleric, rendering him immobile and unable to take action. The rest were almost frozen with astonishment. Z’alden was taken so quickly, how to rescue him without being sucked in themselves? The strong Paladin Felsmon and the mighty dwarven warrior Barrick bravely leapt to pull him out, but were unable. Skamos blasted away with magical energy, directing the power from his staff into the huge Cube. Clearly wounding it, the remaining adventurers were emboldened. The warlock Tira Duskmeadow moved to the far side of the Cube, wounding it further as Eldritch flames leapt from her fingertips. Bits of seared goo slopped off the Cube. In revenge, the Cube moved to her and quickly enveloped her. Felsmon slashed into the Cube with Aecris, the magical sword, sliding the Cube away from the group and back into its lair. Simultaneously, healing light poured from the sword penetrating the Cube, restoring the grievously wounded cleric who remained engulfed.


With the restored vitality, Z’alden said a prayer to Bahamut and was able to escape. Mystical light surrounded Tira as she shimmered and reappeared outside the Cube instantly. Soon after, the magic of the Tiefling and the Half-Elf Warlock, the sword of the Dragonborn, and the mighty battleaxe of the dwarf dispatched the muck.

After a brief respite, the group decided to try the right corridor. Walking into total darkness, scuttling sounds could be heard. With a sunrod and Skamos magic light to illuminate the corridor, a chest at the end could be seen. A trapdoor with a descending ladder was on the right and an ascending ladder on the left. Going up the ladder, Z’alden could see only a small corridor and could hear more scuttling sounds. Advancing to the chest, Felsmon and Z’alden looked inside after carefully checking for traps. Inside were old clothes, dolls, and, digging further, a rich silver bracelet with the name Ceinwein Keegan. Z’alden also found a golden medallion with the name Drystan Keegan on one side and a pair of wings on the other. Both Skamos and Z’alden could sense magical energy from the medallion. Skamos put on the medallion, stood on the chest and leapt into the air. He gently floated down. As the group began to discuss who should hold this treasure, Barrick was attacked by a Giant Centipede spewing fire at him!

The athletic dwarf was quick to react, leaping as only a surprised dwarf can leap, just evading the creature’s strike, and tucking into a somersault. Rolling to his feet filled with rage, he grimaced and turned his momentum into a mighty sidewinder spin of his axe, which cleaved back into the footed Worm, “I hate bugs.” Flames and magical energy from the others ripped into the Centipede. The Fire Centipede sprayed Felsmon with unearthly flames. Barrick’s battleaxe torn into it, ripping open a flaming interior. Immediately the entire Centipede was glowing, hot, and no longer moving. Felsmon grabbed it and tried to shove it down the trapdoor shaft, but a leg caught on the edge. It was getting hotter. Barrick gave it a massive shove, and it fell just as it burst into massive flames, singing the dwarf’s beard!

Safe, the group explored the trapdoor ladder, once the flames had been extinguished. A series of crawl-space tunnels in which Barrick felt perfectly comfortable, but which made Felsmon most stooped, led to a chimney opening with a roaring fire pit below. Searching another corridor, they found a small opening, several feet above the room with the Hobgoblins playing more pitball with skulls. They could hear the brutes, “Do you think they are dead, yet?” “Nah, let’s give the crawlies a little more time.” Hidden, and believed dead, the nearly exhausted adventurers rested, keeping careful watch.

Rejuvenated, the group went to explore the crawl spaces further. Finding the firepit down to glowing coals, Skamos, with a wave of his hand, created a small rainshower that doused the embers. Felsmon lowered Skamos head-first down the chimney. Skamos saw 5 sleeping Hobgoblin guards. The adventurers had found the barracks of the brutes at a most opportune time. Realizing that their powers combined might be able to destroy these monsters before they woke, Skamos, Felsmon, and Z’alden quietly descended the chimney, with Tira and Barrick close behind.

A powerful burst of magic flames erupted from Skamos’ staff, spreading out to scorch each of the sleeping Hobgoblins. Lightning burst forth from the mouth of the Dragonborn Paladin. 4 of the Hobgoblins were already vanquished! A dragonheaded light roared forth from Z’alden hands, ripping into the last one. The group entered the barracks and found some gold on the guards for their work.

At both ends of the barracks, curtains covered doorways. Skamos peered into the right curtain, only to see the face of the Hobgoblin leader just a few feet away and staring at him! “They are alive!” he shouted, “ Release the pet!” The leader’s words were met by crossbow bolts from Z’alden. Tossing the beds into a barricade, the group readied for battle.

A huge, black, furry spider leapt over the barricade, its nasty fangs glistening with blood. The leader and two other Hobgoblins were right behind. Magical energy erupted from Skamos’ staff, searing the leader, the spider, the Hobgoblins, and Barrick! “I hate magic” the dwarf roared. Z’alden stepped forward, opening his arms. Divine silver and purple flames erupted from the symbol of Bahamut in the center of his chest. The silver flames surrounded each of the foes, burning them severely. The purple flames enveloped Barrick, empowering him. As the divine flames struck, their intensity increased, as the symbol itself would tolerate this evil no longer. When the flames had ceased, only the spider and the leader remained. Barrick’s battleaxe tore into the spider. Felsmon’s sword cleaved the head off of the leader, who would lead no more adventurers into deadly traps.

The giant spider leapt across the room to Skamos, biting into him with a horrible poison. Mystical energy leapt from Tira’s eyes to the arachnid’s, causing it to squeal in pain. Felsmon readied a blow, but the spider leapt into the air. Barrick’s axe split the abdomen of the beast, blood and guts poured onto the dwarf, and the spider was no more. “I hate spiders,” the dwarf scowled.

With 8 Hobgoblins and 1 “pet” fallen, and the leader’s keys to the keep in hand, the group went through the west curtain of the barricks. Past a door, a large room with 2 huge opposing statues and 2 smaller statues past them awaited. Z’alden could sense no traps. Felsmon walked forward. The left statue came to life, swinging a 12 foot sword into the Dragonborn. The Paladin nearly dodged it, only having his elbow nicked. The statue continued to swing his sword in a wide circle, around and around. Skamos quickly noticed a pattern. All agreed that the sword swing could be timed and passed. Felsmon bravely went first, passed the sword-swinging statue, and moved to get to the doors at the far end of the room. Moving between the smaller statues, lightning blasts immediately filled the area between them, burning into the lightning-breather himself! Helpless, the group watched as Felsmon moved past the lightning to the doors. Saying a prayer, Felsmon was able to heal himself, but what was the rest of the group to do?

As soon as one passed the swinging statue, the lightning would roast the adventurer. Tira looked at the swinging pace, eyed the smaller statue and ran. Just past before the statue sliced the half-elf into two pieces, the warlock shimmered and was gone, only to reappear behind the lightning generating stature unharmed. With all of her strength, she pushed the small statue, sending it to the ground shattering. The lightning wall disappeared, and the rest of the group, also carefully timing the swings, could pass unharmed.

Listening at the door, a female voice chanting some unknown language could be heard. Skamos quietly opened the door. To the group’s surprise, the chanting female voice was coming from Ninaran! Across a massive hewn chamber, with rivers of blood running towards a central pit, Ninaran stood, some 140 feet away from the group, continuing to chant oblivious to their presence. Undead skeletons and zombies and other evil humanoids lined the walls. Unbelievably, could Ninaran be the big K – Kalarel? Had they found the Rift and the center of the Cult of Evil? The destruction of the Cult, the saving of Winterhaven, and Marla the Cleric of Pelor’s reward of 250 crowns each might not be far away. Quietly, the group backed into the statue room to pause and consider the next course of action.


A Meeting With Sir Keegan

After much debate, and the very real threat of Barrick’s battleaxe, Splug agreed to be bound to Felsmon, and to lead the party to a hidden crypt in the keep. With the defeat of the torture chamber guards, each of the adventurers felt energized and could feel new powers flowing through them. Healed, and ready to test their newly found skills and powers the group decided to explore the rest of the keep.

Silently, the party crept out of the torture chamber, pausing only to close the door leading to the goblin barracks. Splug led the brave adventurers past the entrance to the keep, skirting the now obvious rat pit in the middle of the decrepit foyer. On the opposite side of the entry chamber a stone stairway ran down and away. The stairway was lacking any upkeep, but then with goblins occupying the keep, the stalwart warriors were not surprised. What was surprising was the 10-foot wide chasm spanning the stairway, preventing any forward motion.

“Look, over there,” Skamos pointed to the floor on the other side of the gap. Peering into the darkness Z’alden recognized the shape, “It’s a wooden ladder, probably used to bridge the gap.” “But,” Felsmon pointed out, “It is over there and we are over here.” Tira smiled; she was aware that her training had finally manifested itself in the form of a power and she was eager to attempt her first real teleportation. With the rest of the group watching, Tira closed her eyes and concentrated. Her form shimmered briefly then suddenly she was standing on the far side of the pit. Quickly she moved the ladder to bridge the gap and motioned for the party members to cross. One by one the members of the rag tag band of adventurers roped up and tried to nimbly cross the old ladder. Skamos and Felsmon crossed without incident, but poor little Splug slipped and fell between two rungs. If not for the rope the little goblin would have become an experiment in gravity. Barrick pulled Splug back to the ladder and the sobered goblin crawled his way along the remainder of the makeshift bridge. Barrick was the last to cross, but the sweat from the scared Splug has greased a rung, Barrick slipped and pendulumed into the far wall. Unhurt, the party reassembled, pulled the ladder back and continued down the stairs.

Hearing some noise from a room at the bottom of the stairs, Splug explained, “That is the treasure dump.” Skamos deftly peered around the corner into the room and reported back, “It looks like a mining area, there are three goblins digging and what appears to be two large dogs, but dogs with scaly hides. The room consists of a sunken floor, and a few large pillars, about 15 feet above ground, each accessible by ladders or planks set up as walkways.” Tira spoke up, “I think we should take them.” Z’alden agreed, “We do not want any goblins left to be able to sneak up behind us later.” Discussing their options, the team decided to rush in, pull the two accessible planks, and then pick off the creatures one by one.

Barrick and Felsmon charged into the room and grabbed the planks. As expected, the goblins were surprised by the rushed attack, but the guard drakes, as they were, were not so easily ambushed. Having picked up on Barrick’s sweaty dwarf scent, the dog beings were on the move as the party entered the room. Luckily for the intrepid explorers, the drakes were both on the lower level and Tira and Skamos were each able to fire off a magical bolt before the dogs could reach the ramp leading to the party. Now fully aware of the intruders, the goblins dropped their rusty pick axes and each pulled retrieved and loaded a crossbow. “Blast!” muttered Barrick, “I hate crossbows.” Not more than a few seconds after muttering those fateful words did a crossbow bolt snake across the room, finding its way through a crack in Barrick’s armour, piercing his arm. A bit stunned, Barrick then retreated to pull out the bolt and keep an eye on Splug whilst the others readied themselves for a quick and easy battle.

Felsmon moved in front of Tira to take the brunt of the charge of the first dog-drake-thing bounding up the wooden ramp. “It’s just a scaly mangy mutt,” Felsmon uttered stepping forward, marking the beast and swinging his sword. As if in response to the insult, the drake lunged forward and bit through the knee joint in Felsmon’s armour, inflicting a deep bloody wound.

Realizing the battle was not going to be the simple target shooting practice they had anticipated, a new strategy was quickly formed; Skamos, Z’alden and Tira moved back toward the entrance of the room, taking cover behind the walls of the hallway. Barrick released the rope that was holding Splug, and charged the remaining drake, inflicting a deep would and simultaneously pushing it off the pillar. He then dropped a plank bridge back into place and charged across to try and interfere with the crossbow of one of the goblins. Z’alden returned fire with his crossbow, and soon bolts and magic missiles were flying back and forth across the room. Felsmon dispatched the beast at the top of the ramp and marked the second fell creature as his next target.

When reduced to one, the final goblin, all hope lost and being chased down by Barrick wielding plank bridges, tried unsuccessfully to hold off the attackers from atop a rock pillar on the far side of the room. With his demise, the room fell silent, save for the heavy breathing of the standing fighters.

The group quickly searched the room, the ‘treasure dump,’ as Splug had referred to it, but it appeared that naught but a few gold pieces was to be found. Z’alden, however, was fortunate to spy a filthy, scum-covered symbol of Bahamut. Cleaning it off, he could feel divine power radiating from it, and put it on his chest as his new holy symbol. A holy artifact was not exactly the pile of gold that Splug had implied. Turning on the little goblin, the truth was quickly wrung out, “When I said, ‘dump’, I meant dump.” “Throw him into the stairway chasm,” Tira suggested to her companions, but Barrick pointed out that Splug could have left during the battle, but stayed with the group. Tira and Skamos still did not trust the goblin runt, but the remainder of the party convinced them to allow Splug to continue with the group, unfettered, and even equipped with a worn and nicked short sword.

Leaving the corpse-laden so-called treasure room, Splug informed the party that the next leg of their quest led through a closed door. Skamos easily opened the door and examined the interior of the room, with less sound than the beat of a dragon’s heart. Behind the door a rough hallway continued for a ways, then abruptly narrowed and became strewn with rubble. Peering into the narrow darkness, Skamos reported a pool of water off to one side of the ruined passageway. Fearing the worst, the hardy gang tied themselves together and attempted to pass the leaking pool as stealthily as possible. The wall on the other side of the pool appeared to be solid rock, but Splug claimed to be able to open a secret door in the wall. Whilst Splug was busy working on the hidden lock, Z’alden noticed bubbles starting to form in the pool. “Hurry up!” he cautioned the clumsy goblin. Even as Splug doubled his efforts, the bubbles in the pool doubled. “Got it!” Splug gleefully chortled as a slab of rock slid to one side. The party quickly moved to pass through the door, with scant thought to what lay beyond. Without warning a glowing blue tentacle breached the surface of the now roiling pool. Skamos tried to blast it, but to no avail. Several more tentacles broke the surface and strained for the party as they struggled to push through the narrow doorway. One tentacle whipped and a jelly like substance splattered onto Felsmon, burning any exposed skin. With a dive, Felsmon and Z’alden leapt through the doorway, and Barrick helped slide the door shut moments before a tentacle could reach through.

The small chamber was empty and the party was again able to catch their breath before continuing through the only option available to them, a second rough rock door on the far side of the little room. This second door opened into what appeared to be a crypt, and even though a layer of dust on the floor indicated that no one had passed by in quite some time, two braziers were burning brightly on the corners of the sarcophagus in the center of the room.

Z’alden read aloud the inscription on the wall, “Here lies Sir Keegan, …” Before he could continue, the lid of the coffin exploded upwards, sending spall throughout the room. A ghostly form stirred and a skeletal paladin rose slowly to an upright position, appearing to stand between the braziers. “I hate spirits,” muttered Barrick. The apparition spoke in a voice that sounded of dry bones clattering, “I am Sir Keegan, I have been charged with protecting this keep, and repelling all those who seek the entrance to elsewhere.”

Turning his bony form toward Z’alden, Sir Keegan continued, “Who are you, and why are you here?” Z’alden stepped forward boldly and answered truthfully, “I am a faithful servant of Bahamut, we are not to open the rift, but to attempt to seal it, preventing the spill of evil from one realm into ours.” The shadow of Sir Keegan seemed pleased with that answer. Thinking they had earned safe passage through the room Skamos started moving toward the double doors at the other end of the room. Sir Keegan quickly turned to face Skamos, “And why are you here, are you also a servant of Bahamut?”

One by one Sir Keegan questioned each member of the party, with the single exception of Splug. Each party member did their best to answer truthfully, all except for Tira; rather than admitting her motives for the quest leaned more for the blood and treasure than for any higher good, she concocted a story about her grandfather once working in the keep. Sir Keegan laughed at her attempt, “Ha! I know every person that ever worked here. You lie.” But, strangely, he did not question Tira further. Z’alden said, “Can you offer us any aid in our quest to seal the rift?” Sir Keegan, looking forlorn, nodded, called Felsmon forward, and said, ” I can only offer a few small gifts.” He reached across the tomb and handed his sword, Aecris, to Felsmon. Felmson could sense the sword had magical powers, adding to his own considerable abilities. Returning his gaze to Z’alden, Sir Keegan spoke one more time, “Go. Go forward and do what you can to stop the flow of evil. In the next room you will find several statues of Bahamut, take them with haste. Go.” Question as the party would, no more would the specter of Sir Keegan speak.

Passing through the doors, two small altars to Bahamut flanked the party, immediately followed by ten non-moving skeletal figures lining the walls. “I hate skeletons,” muttered Barrick. Z’alden and Felsmon knelt and searched the two alters. Z’alden quickly found a hidden chamber, containing three small statues of Bahamut. Despite Z’alden’s instructions, Felsmon could not locate the hidden catch to open the other compartment. Z’alden moved and quickly retrieved three more statuettes. Sensing some use for the statuettes, the party divided them, one per person, including one for Splug. Z’alden stepped forward into the room, holding the statue high in front of him. Two skeletons on the wall animated and stepped forward, but did not attack. Cautiously the other party members followed Z’alden’s example and walked slowly through the center of the room. The skeletons all came to life, and closed in behind the adventurers, but made no attempt at attack or hinder.

Barrick used his dagger to lift the lock bar on the other side of the double door; the party quickly passed through and locked the door behind them, keeping the skeleton crew on the other side. “Whew, out of danger,” Skamos said. “Not quite, my good wizard,” Tira said, pointing into the room in which they had just entered. Five flesh dripping zombies stood against the wall. To one side the room exited into a hallway, but instead of the rough stone tiled flooring found throughout most of the rest of the keep, glowing crimson symbols covered a 10’x10’ area of the hall. Immediately past the pulsing runes was a large bloodstain, next to a set of massive double doors, followed by another 10’ patch of glowing crimson markings.

Like the skeletons in the previous room, the zombies were motionless. Hoping for the best, the party asked Splug to walk across the glowing floor. Splug shrugged and calmly strode across the tiles. Anxiously the group watched the zombies, and tried to sense any disturbances in the air, but nothing stirred. Confidently Skamos stepped onto the glowing rune, but the instant his foot contacted the floor a groaning sound, like many voices all calling out in the darkness, came not only from the zombies in the room, but from down the hall, past the other runed tiles.

“I hate zombies,” Barrick muttered, fearing the worst for another fight with the undead. But the zombies turned out to be much easier than expected. Z’alden gleefully called out his undead spell, and radiant energy from other spells quickly dispatched not only the five zombies in the room, but the five amassing down the hallway.

Alone again, the group stood facing the heavy double doors. They looked from one another, until Skamos said, “Let’s do this.” Nodding, Barrick and Felsmon tried to open the door, but could not get the massive timbers to budge. No physical attempts were able to open the door; in the end Z’alden decided to use his Knock scroll. Setting out the needed ingredients, he read from the scroll, then dropped a powder into a small metal bowl of liquid. Energy leapt from the concoction, infusing the door; the door swung open, and a cold wind blew across the party.

A wide stairway descended past the doors, turning downward in a large spiral. Cautiously the group dropped down to the lower level of the keep, coming at last to another set of doors. Listening at the door, a few voices could be heard on the other side.

The party silently paused, each member ensuring they had all appropriate powers and weapons at the ready…


To The Keep on the Shadowfell
The party journeys to Shadowfell Keep - does doom await?


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.

Victory and Mourning after the Kobold's Lair

As the horses are being loaded up and the bag of holding is being filled with the treasure chest, Z’alden says, “My friends, this treasure and these items that we have acquired, and the glory that we have accrued will have been ill-gotten if the flame of valor that was Felsmon is allowed to be extinguished forever. It is our duty to see that this brave comrade who sacrificed himself in battle is restored by the powers that be through the ritual of Raise Dead. I believe that we must be prepared to sacrifice some of our treasure and newly found items to have this happen. But first, I believe that we should entreat Valthrun to use his powers and wisdom to raise Felsmon. We must tell him of the courage and valour that Felsmon displayed to fell the kobolds, their master, and the goblin. We must tell him of the impending rift opening and doom that we can confront but not without our comrade Felsmon.”

Assuming that Valthrun has the capability to raise dead, or know how, but that we must pay some price for this, we should then entreat Lord Padrug to pay for it. Felsmon fell in service to Lord Padrug. We defeated the kobolds and the goblin. We could forgo our reward, if necessary. We must also alert Lord Padrug to the rift opening, offer to confront the evil, but insist that he use his considerable resources to aid in the restoration of Felsmon.

Assault on the Kobold Lair
Clear out the Kobold menace, retrieve Douven's dragon bones, reap the rewards


Congratulations on defeating Irontooth and his minions! It was a well fought battle, with plenty of brilliant actions, and some not-so-brilliant dice rolls… Too bad that Felsmon didn’t quite make it, but never fear, where there’s a town, there’s a priest.

Journey to Winterhaven
The party sets forth - monsters and treasure await!

“We are only a few hours outside of town,” Tira Duskmeadow announced to her companions, “I think it is time for us to decide which way we want to proceed.”

The party halted their eastward trek along the old worn wide path that was used as a road. “Read the letters again,” a gruff voice barked.