Adventures in the Colony of Nerath

Shadowfell, Session 4
A Dark Tale

On Friday morning, the party travelled back to Woodhaven. There, they spoke with Valthruun and showed him the note. Valthruun told them of the Keep on the Shadowfell, a ruined castle that once guarded a rift to an unholy sanctuary to the Demon Lord Orcus within the Shadowfell, another plane of existence.

The party then visited Lord Padraig and claimed the 100 gold piece reward he promised. He had no further information of value to them.

In the evening, Valthruun sought out the party at Wrafton’s Inn. He asked them to move into a private room, and told them the tragic tale of of Sir Keegan, the lord of the castle, who was allegedly driven mad (by the rift?) and slew his whole family, his guard, and many warriors within the castle before they finally cornered him and brought him down within the dungeons beneath the keep. The place was seen as cursed, and abandoned. An earthquake later caused the upper floors to collapse. The dungeons are thought to be home to Goblins, and townsfolk generally avoid the area.

At first light on Saturday, the party set out for the keep, and arrived around lunchtime. They entered the dungeons and encountered a goblin taunting them. They pursued it, although Andrei Ivanov fell into a covered pit trap filled with diseased rats. The party eventually triumphed over four goblin guards and the rats, and looted the bodies for some gold and silver. They attempted to take a short rest, but were interrupted by a surprise attack. Five goblins and and a hobgoblin wearing a mask ambushed the weary party. After an extended battle, the party won, looted the bodies and left the keep to find safety to rest in the wild.

DM NOTE:
Characters are injured and have not yet regained encounter powers or second wind. Having completed two encounters without resting, however, the characters should now all be awarded with an extra action point. If they wish to take an extended rest, they will have to pass the time until 7pm, since they need 12 hours between extended rests.

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Shadowfell, Session 3
The Kobold Hideout

Characters take a short rest and then infiltrate kobold waterfall hideaway.

First wave is fairly quickly repelled, but second wave nearly finished the party. Vermundur, Magnus and Osvald fall before Andrei and Hinrik finish off the remaining kobold guards. The party is healed and recovers.

Kobold leader, a goblin named Irontooth, exclaims, “Kalarel and Lord Orcus, Prepare my way!” as he dies.

Among the treasure on Irontooth, a note is discovered, addressed to Irontooth, from Kalarel:

“My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. It probably does not matter. In a few more days, I’ll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven’s people will serve as food for those Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.”

Party also recovered a magic suit of Dwarven Chain Mail +1.

Party took an extended rest in the rune circle, through Thursday night. Returning to Woodhaven at first light on Friday.

Characters are now fully healed and each have 1 action point.

XP value is at 1631.

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Shadowfell, Session 2
Market Day

Wednesday in Woodhaven – Market Day.
Characters investigate Woodhaven, speak with residents.
Investigate graveyard, patrol grounds, no leads.
Evening in the tavern, meet a number of people – no one has useful info on Kalarel/Leralak. Someone recommends they speak with Lord Padraig about the kobold issue.

Thursday morning, characters meet with Padraig and discuss Kobold issue. He offers them a reward to root out and thwart the plans, giving them a map to kobold hideout.

Characters leave Woodhaven, and are attacked by a band of kobolds on the road.

Characters arrive at destination in the wooded hills, a runic circle before a waterfall. They ambush the kobolds outside (over a dozen) and destroy them. Magnus notices a kobold peeking out from behind the waterfall.

To be continued…

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Shadowfell, Session 1
Mission to Find Alleged Murderer Kalarel of Nylandu

Magnus was greeted by Faren Markelhay and Chief Ingolffson in a small hideout in Osterheim. Mission to capture and bring in Kalarel for questioning in the deaths of at least 8 individuals (6 templars and 2 farmers) throughout the realm.

A string of six murders throughout Nylandu all had similar patterns: all were templars, all had their hearts removed, and all had recently taken in a young man begging in the streets. All of the reports of this man gave similar physical characteristics, and all of their names started with the letter K. Physical characteristics included: shaven head, inkblot birthmark above the left ear, strong bone structure but emaciated in appearance, wearing homespun robes and tattered sandals, courteous and well-spoken, interested in religious service. The man disappeared a year ago after the 6th death. Investigators had sent notices to all the temples in the area with a warning and a description of the man, but there was no sign of him in Nylandu.

Then, 5 months ago, a man named Leralak, a well-dressed and powerfully-built priest appeared in Heimaey and entered the service of the temple under Brother Sergey. Leralak was very bookish and reserved, spending much time travelling back and forth between the temple in Heimaey and the Library of the Vale in Fallcrest, where he studied ancient history and rituals. He was initially very good at holding services but became distracted and started missing his obligations. One day Sergey collapsed in the temple and Leralak came to him and stooped over him. Sergey noted a strange smell and that his eyes were “far away”, and that he felt helpless. Sister Marla was alerted by the clanging of the bowl Sergey dropped, and rushed in to investigate. Leralak seemed to immediately return to normal, eyes clear; at the same time, Sergey felt he could move again. Leralak disappeared after that incident and was not heard from again.

Then about a month later, a farmer and his son were found dead in their cottage, hanging from the ceiling by their ankles, hearts removed. Their half-starved dog was found lying beneath them. It was tough to say how long they had been there, but it seemed like it might have been a week or two, since the dog was still alive. The farm was in the hills west of Woodhaven. Investigators finally linked those deaths to the young acolyte, and then eventually to Leralak in Heimaey, but again the trail was cold. It has been several months and nothing new has been seen or heard.

Meanwhile investigators in Nylandu learned of a young boy named Kalarel that had run away and dropped out of school at a young age, and taken to a life of street crime, before joining up with a crazed outlaw cleric named Dyrkun. Dyrkun’s whereabouts are unknown, but Kalarel spelled backward is Leralak, so there is reason to believe these murders are all attributable to the same individual, a crazed evil murderous cleric obsessed with ancient rituals and sacrifice.

The trail has gone cold near Woodhaven. Authorities are too busy defending the settlements from humanoids – especially the influx of homeless kobolds that have swept the vale – to spare anyone to investigate this alleged murderer. So the job has fallen to Magnus, with his new cohort, Osvald (cleric).

Magnus and Osvald met up with Vermundur, Andrei and Hinrik in Vesturheim, and the 5 companions headed north to Woodhaven at night. While on the road, they were attacked by a band of Kobolds, but were victorious with minimal effort. They arrived in Woodhaven at 3am and took a room at Wrafton’s.

In the morning, they spoke with the proprietor, Salvana, and learned that it was Market Day in Woodhaven, and merchants from all over the vale would be in Woodhaven to sell their wares. The party was about to investigate the market, and had also suggested the possibility of visiting the farm where the two murdered men were discovered.

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Prologue
Shadowfell

Magnus Benediktsson, Nylandu agent, is lying on a beach somewhere in the southern Sea of Prongt, enjoying a beverage, some sun and some lovely company…but he is troubled. His thoughts return to his harrowing experience on Hexturtooth Isle, the young and pretty cleric girl and her broken body, the cackling of kobolds. Lost in his reverie, he gradually becomes aware that his companion, Ilvayesk, is next to him, gently calling for his attention.

His eyes come into focus and he turns to Ilvayesk, and she smiles teasingly. She says in broken Common riddled with Rijkan words, “Your bag – it move.” Uncomprehendingly at first, he looks over at his leather bag, sitting in the shade by a broad-leaved shroweilk tree, and sees his bag is actually moving, as though some rodent were inside, rummaging for food. He stands up and walks over, considering what to do, and hesitantly reaches for the bag. Grabbing the underside, he abruptly lifts it high from the bottom and dumps the contents onto the sand. A dagger, some scrolls, and a pouch containing some money fall to the sand, as well as a stone cylinder, about 17" in length. The contents lie motionless for a moment, and Magnus looks into the bag to make sure everything fell out. At that moment, the cylinder shifts position. It pops up and then lies still. Magnus recalls instructions from Chief Ingolfsson that the cylinder, a “Speaker’s Rod”, will start to move when someone is trying to reach him and he must answer quickly, for it can only be used once, and for only an hour.

Magnus excuses himself from Ilvayesk, and stooping down, retrieves the artifact, heading off into the shade. He notices a lateral seam in the cool stone of the device where before there was none. Pulling on each end of the cylinder, he discovers that it easily separates into two halves, and reveals a rolled up scroll. He carefully removes the scroll, breaks a wax seal, and unrolls the scroll.

At first he sees nothing, then the whole page appears to become saturated with brown ink, which forms into the image of a man’s shadowy face. The face begins to speak, and Magnus finds that he instantly understands the speaker’s words, though he sees none written, and hears none spoken. The face explains,

“Magnus this is Lord Faren Markelhay of Fallcrest – I trust you are well and have been enjoying the past few months of rest. We do not have much time — it is imperative that you return immediately to be briefed on a new threat to the people of this colony, and potentially to The Empire itself. I fear our leads grow cold even as we create this message. I can only trust that you have received it. I dare not share any information about this matter even via this means – but you should know that things have changed in the Nentir Vale in the months since your last mission. The waterways and roads are dangerous, plagued with kobolds, which will likely make it difficult to travel here safely alone. For this reason, I will travel to Osterheim and meet you at the Curious Page Tavern. Do not delay. Be swift and stealthy and take every preventative measure to ensure that you are not detained. You have two weeks. May the gods preserve you in your travels!”

The moving, inky image comes to rest on the page, and then spreads as though from a spilled bottle, until the page leaves no trace of the communication. The stone cylinder disintegrates as Magnus touches it, and joins the sand at his feet.

Magnus overcomes the protests of Ilvayesk, and soon finds himself once again en route to Heimaey Bay. Six days later he enters the bay and makes port in Heimaey. We begin there. If there is anything Magnus wishes to do, or anyone he wishes to see while he is there, he may. Otherwise, he will charter a junk to Osterheim, where he will meet Lord Markelhay at the Curious Page and be briefed on his new mission.

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Epilogue
Campaign Introduction

Within the supernaturally cold cavern-lair of the slain Dragon, Karthraxis, Einar sits on the stone floor cradling his sister’s lifeless and broken body, grief-stricken and gasping for air. For some time, he swats away any friendly touch or attempt to move them. After an indeterminate amount of time in the frozen depths, Einar allows the party to assist him and prepare his sister’s body for transport. Einar is escorted by Grisha back to the warm and comfortable living quarters of Gelfem.
As Vermundur and Hinrik work together to prepare Eria’s body, and Magnus and Krieg rest to recover their strength, Andrei goes exploring. Within the dragon’s cavern, among countless bones and scraps of clothing and leather remains of various humanoids, Andrei finds a small horde of treasure in a chest, including some preserved dragon hide (valuable to armorers, can be sold for 200gp), 100gp, a felt bag containing a single pearl (value 20gp), and a strange-looking Longsword with obscene-looking runes, and the form of a goblet on the hilt. After carefully studying the runes and engravings, he identifies the blade as “[Shevorth]”, a magical (+1) lifedrinker blade, crafted by a Drow necromancer [Izzdrin’diirn] for personal use. Izzdrin’diirn has a meaning in Drow which might be identified by Hinrik.
During the evening resting together in Gelfem’s chamber, Einar speaks to no one, but seems to speak to himself at times, alternately silent, chuckling, groaning, rocking himself and crying out. The rest of the party remains silent from pity and respect, until Einar’s grief gives way and he falls into a restless sleep. Magnus finds Vermundur speaking with the prisoner Gelfem in soft tones, and joins them. Magnus asks Gelfem about Sverrir Steinsson, and Gelfem acknowledges that his agents captured Steinsson and Lyvia and brought them to Hexturtooth. Steinsson’s secret investigations into the piracy in the region had brought him too close to the truth and he could not afford for the authorities to find the hideout. Steinsson and Lyvia were interrogated separately, and Lyvia broke down and gave away what had been learned and shared by Steinsson in his investigation. She also revealed that another agent would be brought in to replace Steinsson when they failed to report in. Steinsson revealed nothing even after severe tactics were used, and they found him dead from untreated wounds received in the fight when his home was raided. His body was given to Karthraxis. Lyvia was set “free” on the island, but the kobolds there hunted her for sport, and Gelfem knows not what became of her, but expects that she was killed.

In the night, Andrei has a familiar dream of being trapped in a cavern. It impossible to see and he gropes along dark hallways slowly, trying to call out. He finds a dimly lit circular cavern with exits in many different directions, and in the middle of the cavern a single candle burns on the floor. Near a far entrance a shadowy figure stands. His form does not reflect the flickering light but you see that the shadow quivers perpetually. The shadow feels unsafe, and yet he is drawn to it. There are many choices of doors to try, but he desires the door nearest the figure. He opens his mouth to speak but the words are unintelligible and sound far away. A quivering, slender arm rises from its side and seems to reach forward to Andrei, and suddenly the room reverberates with what sounds like thousands of disembodied voices rising in pitch in a chaotic cacophony. He awakens with a start, sweating and shaking, and sleeps no longer that night.

In the morning, the party sets out for the beach and boards the small craft to take them out to open water. While sitting in the boat, they notice pools of water collecting in the base of the craft, and discover that their icy breastplates are melting and becoming useless. Gelfem explains that they were a creation of his, meant to keep the kobold “keepers” of Karthraxis safe, and much like the dragon’s lair itself, their magic is tied to the magic of the island – once removed, they lose their power and are subject to natural forces.

Their small craft is joined in the water by several junks flying Nylandan flags. The boatmen escort the party to land at Vesturheim, and provide an armed escort to Woodhaven. Magnus and Vermundur meet with Chief Ingolfsson, and recount all they learned. Ingolfsson is saddened to hear confirmation of the loss of two excellent agents, and thanks the men for returning with the news. Magnus shows the bone mask to Ingolfsson and explains that the dragon, and the kobold “keepers” and Gelfem’s personal guard have all been slain, though countless kobolds did manage to escape the island, and word is that many have made landfall and gone into hiding. Gelfem himself has been brought alive, and did not struggle. Ingolfsson says that he will contact Lord Faren Markelhay in Fallcrest for instructions with regard to the detainment of Gelfem. He awards Magnus and Vermundur 200gp total, and gives them another 100gp to offer the rest of the party for their assistance. He instructs Magnus to take some time off, and hands him a sealed hollow stone cylinder with no obvious opening, called a [Speaker’s Rod], and instructs him to keep the rod nearby at all times. Ingolfsson and Markelhay can use the magical device to communicate with him one time. It will open for one hour only when they wish to speak to Magnus, and he must be able to answer.

Vermundur and Hinrik remain behind in the Woodhaven area. Andrei, Magnus, Krieg, Einar and Grisha all return to Vesturheim, and then separate. Andrei says he will remain in Vesturheim where he will return to his ferrying occupation, and says they can always find him there again if they have further need of him. Einar and Grisha plan to continue along to Fallcrest with Eria’s body to prepare her funerary services and notify their father, Gunnar. Magnus chooses not to go, because Einar has made it clear that he blames Magnus, at least in part, for roping Eira into his mission and failing to keep her safe. Krieg feels some of the blame, too, and despite Einar’s chilly disposition, Krieg chooses to accompany them. Magnus hires Andrei to take him to Haimaey where he charters a ship and returns to the open blue – his home.

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Campaign Introduction, Session 9
Gelfem's Surrender

After a short rest, the party sent Grisha to scout out the dragon door, leaving Hinrik and Vermundur to watch over Andrei. Grisha opened the dragon-door using the unholy ring recovered from the sludge-wielding kobolds. (See Adventure Log, Campaign Intro., Sess. 8 (Mar. 8, 2014)).

There he found Gelfem, who congratulated the party on ruining his plans and then surrendered. Upon interrogation, Gelfem claims to have knowledge regarding neither Grisha’s sister-in-law nor nephew. Gelfem then reunited the party with Magnus and Krieg in exchange for a peaceful surrender and being taken back to Woodhaven to answer for his crimes. From Gelfem, Einar learned of his sister’s death.

After an extended rest in the parlor, the party found that Gelfem had destroyed most things of value. From the parlor, everyone could see pirate and Nylandi forces fighting on the sea around Hexturtooth. Gelfem led the party to the beach in order to be discovered by the victor of the sea-battle.

Paddling off-shore, the party and its prisoner were picked up by a town guardsman and taken to Vesturheim. There the party located Licus, who had notified Heimaey officials of the kobold presence on Hexturtooth. The Nylandi force was sent to engage them, although many kobolds escaped onto the mainland.

The party was then sent with an armed retinue to Woodhaven to report to Chief Ingolffson, whom they debriefed and to whom they turned over Gelfem for imprisonment and trial. Ingolffson promised to send a missive to Lord Faren Markelhay in Fallcrest.

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Campaign Introduction, Session 8
Sludgeball!

After a short rest and looting the kobold bodies, the party passed through a portcullis, closing it as they passed. They descended a staircase and found an altar to Tiamat. There were four stone coffins, all vandalized and abused. Armor in niches in the walls turned out to be deadly traps. Here the party was besieged by more kobolds, one of which escaped.

After a short rest, the party moved on to the next room, a tomb with a sludgepit. Here the party battled kobolds utilizing a sludgeball weapon, as well as drakes. While searching the bodies of the vanquished monsters, the party discovered an unholy ring with a dragon symbol engraved into it.

The party encountered a door adorned with images of dragons, but were unable to open it. They took a short rest in the room with the boulder, the scene of Eira’s death. (See Adventure Log, Campaign Intro., Sess. 4 (Jan. 7, 2014)).

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Campaign Introduction, Session 7
A Dragon's Vigil

At the scene of the battle, large groups of kobolds, grief-stricken at the death of Karthraxis, Gelfem’s frost dragon, stopped fighting and began to gather around its body. Others began to disband and scatter around the island.

The party, led by Vermundur Arnarson, took advantage of this respite and proceeded to the fortress, following a path to a waterfall and then ultimately to a shack. There the party found kobolds posted outside, as well as a human man they had encountered earlier, only to lose him in a chase. The man boldly proclaimed that he stood in defense of the fortress.

The party began the assault. After successfully fighting their way into the shack, an apparently understated subterranean entrance to the fortress, the party barred the door behind them. By now, swarms of kobolds were making their way back to the fortress. The party pressed on down a staircase, searching for a place to rest. They descended into a room with a glowing green sludge-pit. There they defended against an attack by more kobolds.

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Campaign Introduction, Session 6
An Enemy Unmasked, Another Destroyed

Somewhere in the bowels of the fortress, Magnus Benediktsson contemplated the bodies of Krieg Deepstone and Eira Gunnarsoddter, his fallen associates. Suddenly surrounded by Kobolds, a human man stepped forward: the creatures’ obvious leader, even speaking their language. It was none other than Gelfem, supposed friend of Sverrir Steinsson in Vesturheim. (See Adventure Log, Campaign Intro., Sess. 3 (Dec. 7, 2013)).

With magnanimous courtesy, Gelfem instructed Magnus to meet him in his parlor after getting cleaned up; as a conciliatory gesture, he also instructed the kobolds to tend to Krieg’s and Eira’s bodies. Magnus proceeded to the kobold barracks, where they confiscated his arms and armor, but healed his wounds. He was then escorted to a large room overlooking an impressive panorama of the entire hill upon which the fortress perched. There Gelfem waited. In his discussion with Magnus, Gelfem was revealed to be the unwanted son of a Nylandu missionary. He learned the kobold language during his travels around the world. He married a Rijkin woman and became an officer in the most powerful criminal organization in Sambandsins Rijka. Eventually he defected, escaping back to Nylandu with a fortune.

Turning to the business at hand, Gelfem informed Magnus that, while Eira was irrevocably dead, he had restored Krieg to health. So long as Magnus cooperates, a cease-fire was in effect; otherwise he would permit his “great weapon,” a frost dragon (see Dragon, White), to devour his associates’ bodies. The dragon, Gelfem explained, is only the first step in a demonstration of power; there is a greater plan in place on the Nerathi mainland. According to Gelfem, Nerath and the Nentir Vale will return to being an untamed wild, perhaps back to evil. Nerath, it seems, has changed hands many times throughout the centuries; it is a “magical place,” perhaps the last such place left. Power is drawn to it, conquers, but is slain and replaced; all forget its history. Gelfem will gain power over the wilds, an untamed paradise of freedom, begin the decline of humans, and instigate the rise of “evil” humanoids. Whether or not he is mad, Gelfem appears to be an ambitious anarchist; he claims to answer to no nation, but only to power.

Furthermore, Gelfem was revealed to be the one who attempted to assassinate Magnus upon his arrival to Nerath (see Adventure Log, Campaign Intro., Sess. 2 (Oct. 28, 2013)). Curiosity stayed his hand thereafter. The rumors of a ghost ship are just that: rumors; they refer only to Gelfem’s kobold pirates. Gelfem’s frost dragon has been attacking ships and freezing its victims to death.

Before Magnus had a chance to inquire into Steinsson, two kobolds, Content Not Found: bracct_ and _Content Not Found: krisstik, rushed in and exclaimed that Magnus’ rescue party was close to the doors. Before having his hands bound, Magnus slipped a knife into his sleeve and was led away. During the procession, Magnus could hear chants and an inhuman scream. As he approached his cell, he unsuccessfully attacked the kobolds; he was knocked unconscious. He later woke up in his cell.

In the meantime, the party led by Vermundur Arnarson continued its search for an entrance to the fortress. They successfully defended against an attack at the top of a cliff by kobolds and Drakes. The party retrieved three glistening magical breastplates from the bodies.

After a short rest, the party was attacked by Gelfem’s frost dragon, which descended upon them from the mountaintop. Although the party was victorious, Pietri died from a blast of the dragon’s breath weapon.

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