The Party are contacted by Marla of the Great Church of Pelor. She has been studying historical documents following a repeating nightmare. The nightmare involves Orcas tearing an opening into the world and leading an army of the dead, destroying all in their path. Her studies have uncovered evidence of a cult of the dead in the north of the region around the town of Winterhaven. Further research has uncovered rumours of a small group of cultists heading for Winterhaven about a year ago. This group was led by a young twisted priest by the name of Kalarel. Marla fears that her dreams are a premonition of this group opening unholy ceremonies in Orcus's name. She has asked the group to travel north to investigate and if need be destroy the cult.
Travelling to Winterhaven:
The party arrive at the small border town of Winterhaven and start to make enquiries about the Death Cult in Marla's dreams. No-one is particularly forth coming, and even evasive, until they talk to an Elven tracker named Ninaran. She is relieved that she has found an someone else who does believes that a Death Cult has set up in the area. She knows the where their hide out is and shows the party the location on a map.
Battle at the Kobold Lair:
Following the lead provided by Ninaran the party tracked down what they had been led to believe was the lair of the cultists. A brief skirmish with a small group of Kobolds led to the discovery of the entrance to the lair hidden behind a waterfall. Unfortunately a Kobold slinger had escaped the battle and was run to warn those inside.
Having discovered a side entrance the party slipped in hoping to be undetected. This was not to be and they where soon assaulted from two sides with no route to retreat!
After a climatic battle with a large group of Kobolds including a powerful shaman the party where finally victorious. The kobolds leader, a giant Goblin called Irontooth was dead, cut down by a critical strike from Doran. However the Paladin [name] had fallen and the rest of the party was battered and bloodied and it was clear that there was no Orcus cult there.
In the Kobold Lair the party discover 420gp, and a suit of +1 dwarven chainmail, and around the neck of the shamen a carved black pendent in the shape of a dragons head; the symbol of Orcus.
On Irontooths body a note was found from Kalarel, 'My spy in Winterhaven suggests that we keep an eye out for visitors in the area. It probably does not matter; in just a few more days, I'll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven's people will serve as food for those Orcus sends to do my bidding'
Once the party returned to town they are spotted by Ninaran, who seems very surprised to see them and then quickly leaves town.
The party rested in the town and recovering from the loss of Kraathor. Whilst in the local inn they noticed a large human fighter, Sven, who agreed to join them.
Further questioning around Winterhaven reveals the following information:
Once the party show the local sage the pendent, and explains the nightmares of their patron Marla, the sage of Winterhaven, Valthrun, finally becomes more forthcoming with information. He explains that there is a small ruined keep to the north that most assume formed part of the defences of the old Empire. He explains that in fact it was built not to keep things out, but to keep something in. The Keep was built over a rift to the Shadow Fell!. 80 years ago the keep was entrusted to a knight of the empire named Sir Keegan (no really!). Sir Keegan was a mighty warrior and was instrumental in defeating the hordes of the undead and finally sealing the rift. However one night Sir Keegan was overcome with strange dreams. These dreams appear to have taken his mind as Sir Keegan went mad and quickly went on the rampage, killing his family and most of the inhabitants of the keep. A group of Sir Keegans former brother knights attacked the keep and after a mighty battle finally drove Sir Keegan down into the dungeons below the keep and slew him. They then sealed the dungeon and left the keep to fall into ruins. The town of Winterhaven still consider the exploits of Sir Keegan as a local shame and have tried very hard to forget about the keep and the legend.
The lord of the town Paidraig is troubled by the evidence that a death cult has been set up in the area and are attempting to reopen the rift in the Shadow Fell. He asks the party to go to the ruined keep and destroy any evidence of the cult and thwart the plans of the insane Kalarel. He will reward the party with as much as Winterhaven can afford if they are successful.
Into the Keep
The four companions descended a staircase from the remains of the Keep. They were immediately attacked by a group of goblins, and the fighter fell into a trap. Having repelled the goblins, the group started to explore the first level of the Keep. They found a prison block guarded by a group of goblins with a hobgoblin leader. Having killed them the group found Preth Langolis the Ranger in one of the cells, and he joined the party. Making their way out of the prison block the band was attacked by another band of goblins. Having dispatched yet another group of goblins the band found their way into the barracks and faced an epic battle with a group of goblins and their chief.
2 – The abandoned corridors. Down stairs into the 'damp' area. Fight with the rats and then the …. (you know the one that split into two parts when it was bloodied?). Ignored the door marked 'DO NOT ENTER… REALLY!' 3 – Then back up the stairs, across the entry hall and down some stairs into the labyrinth area. Set off the symbol trap and where attacked by a bunch of Zombies. Then into the anti chamber of sir keegan's tomb. Load of other zombies appearing from sarcophagus. Stopped them appearing by the Cleric praying at the alter to berhamut. Then counter attacked by ninaren with some skeletons in tow. Killed all these dudes also. When into sir keegans tomb, passed the skill challenge.
4 – Back in to the labyrinth, set off another trap… more zombies.
5 – Down into lvl 2….
6 – Hobgoblin entry chamber. Big battle around the well (which the fighter got pushed into and then couldn't get out!). Stopped the guards from freeing the HUGE spider. One hobgoblin gets away and brings some friends back with him.. including a particularly nasty shaman. BIG battle that was a bit touch and go for a while.
7 – The Hobgoblin boss. After setting off a trap the blocked the entrance was brought down the party where attacked by a coordinated group of hobgoblins led by the Hobbo big cheese. Another brutal battle. Rested.
8 – The 'closed' corridor. Broke through the nailed up door and entered the abandoned family crypt for sir keegans family. Spotted the gletinitous cube just before it attacked, uuuugghghhh. Started to run away but got cut off… then attacked by nasty gooey zombies (who exploded when they died!)
9 – The trap room… Once in the room the doors locked!! Nasty sword swinging statue, with fire breathing dragon statues made crossing the room a challenge. Things went from bad to worse when the exit of the room turned out to be another trap. A force field trapped Doran in a lobby type area. Water then started filling the 'room' from four more statues carry water pitchers!! The rest of the party desperately tried to open the force field before Doran was trapped. Balorin started to unravel the magic that held the force field, but it would take a few minutes. In the mean time Doran had managed to stop one of the statues decanting water, but by now the water had reached his neck and a whirl pool had appeared in centre of the room and span Doran around, crashing in walls and statues causing damage. Balorin finally managed to unravel the magic holding the force field and released a deluge of water out of the flooded room. After recovering from being swept into the path of the sword swinging statue the adventures moved on!
10 – The 'larder'… The next series of rooms was the home of a ghoul, a lot of zombies and a nasty little Clay Scout. Graimorn came good with a blinding use of turn undead. The rest of the zombies proved to weak for the party, and even the ghoul went without too much bother. A couple of excellent shots from the bow of Preth brought down the clay scout before he could fly off and tell his master.
11 – The shrine to Orcus (nearly there!!). The party pushed further into the dungeon, spurred on by the ever more frequent pulses of blue light that could only meant that the rift was nearly opened! As they approached the alter to Orcus, and the priest standing before it they noticed that rivers of blood where running across the floor and running into a large hole in the floor. They also notices that they where being attacked by a large group of nastiness!! Vampire spawn, religious berserkers and a dark creeper ( all servants of Orcus) charged from the ruinous shadows and attacked. The battle was short and brutal! The mage nearly bit the big one, and the cleric also got a bit of a spanking but when the dust settled all five of the party where still standing.
12 – The rift…….. Descending into the room below by blood soaked chains the party finally came face to face with Kalarel (well after those who feel off the chains got back up again anyway). The room was dominated by a huge statue of Orcus, and an arch way through which they could see the rift itself. Something was trying to claw its way through the inky black membrane that separated the shadowfell from the adventurers world, all the while Kalarel read a load incantations that would finally open the rift and let the creature through!! Guarding Kalarel where a couple of doogy looking skeletons and a Wight!!! The battle was hard fought and several of the party we're well down on hit points and Doran was nearly dragged into the rift and consumed by the nasty in the other side. Finally the fatal blow was struck and Kalarel fell!!!!
A huge are reached out form the rift and a booming voice said,
"FEAR NOT KARALELL, YOU HAVE FAILED ME THIS TIME BUT YOU SERVITUDE WILL CONTINUE FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE…. THE SEARCH WILL CONTINUE!!!!!!!!"
Having successfully thwarted Karalell's attempt to open the rift to the shadow fell beneath the keep the party returns to Winterhaven. They are recieved as hero's! Marla is very pleased and have arranged for Lord Paidraig to provide accomodation for the party while they spend time in the area.