Adventures in the Colony of Nerath

The Hallowed, Session 2
The Throne Room

After a short rest, the party searched the bodies of its foes on the second floor of the tower. Among other things, they found an Architect Staff +1, which was given to Ivolgin.

The third floor of the tower was a ruined throne room with a glowing circle of runes (later revealed to be of a healing nature). There the party defeated a bugbear, two goblins and two wolves, although Grisha almost died. After a short rest, Villisvina and others removed the bodies of the fallen from the tower and burned them on a pyre. A suit of Exalted scale armor +1 was discovered and given to Einar. Ivol also presented to Einar the Nylandan a token of friendship with the sigrin: a wooden amulet in the shape of an unbroken tower. Einar accepted the gift with grace and now wears it.

The party then took an extended rest in the tower. Afterwards, Einar began the journey back to Woodhaven to return to his father, Gunnar. Grisha plans to accompany Sascha back to Fallcrest, where he hopes to continue his investigation into the disappearance of his sister-in-law and nephew.

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The Hallowed, Session 1
The Howling Wood

In Fallcrest, Grisha and Einar met with Sascha. She informed them that Ivolgin was to meet them at an appointed spot on the outskirts of the Howling Forest, leaving a red feather at the designated spot of entry, the The Road of Bears. This led to Notok Stream. With this understanding, the party traveled to the Forest and, finding the red feather, struck straight into its heart. Sascha explained that the Forest is named for the enchanted bats that reside there, which cause fear with their eerie howling. According to Sascha, their destination was the village within which was located the Hallowed, an ancient tower built by elves and sigrin as a sacred site for pilgrimage. After several wars, and particularly regional colonization by the Sacred Empire of Nylandu, the sigrin were forced to flee the area.

At first, the forest seemed like any light woods with chirping birds. However, it soon became dark and more dense, and the party began to hear the bats. They wrapped linens around their ears to muffle the sound, but did struggle with the fear effects. Eventually, the party made its way to Ivol, a half-elf shaman and guardian of the Howling Wood. Already possessing knowledge of Ivol’s reputation, Grisha vouched for Einar; the shaman was suspicious of the Nylandu paladin, but accepted his help.

Ivol informed the party that, on their way to the Hallowed, they would pass through a dense forest containing hallucinogenic mushrooms and spores. Then they would enter the village, which is pregnant with snares set by both sigrin and the goblins who have tunneled underground into the ancient tower. Ivol collapsed the tunnels with the aid of Villisvina, a half-elf druid and protector of the forest for many centuries. Ivol informed the party that he would help them through the spores and to the village, where they would meet Vina. Vina, he said, was the last of a royal line; her family’s history and heritage were in the structure below. In the meantime, the party rested on Borhetap, “the Stage of God,” an enormous flat rock.

After a rest, the party made its way through the spores, although not without suffering their ill effects. Einar experienced violent hallucinations; Grisha, non-violent hallucinations; Sascha, sadness; and Ivol, laughter. They spotted a goblin corpse on their way out of the area of spores. The party arrived at a once-beautiful village, now in ruins. Old barricades still stood in its streets; Ivol’s family’s defenses had been reinforced by the goblins. The party arrived at a small hut on the edge of the village. Ivol knocked on the door and uttered the pass-call. They were admitted into the hut, where they met Vina. She informed the party that there were humanoids inside the tower, which is the only entrance to the Hallowed.

After making their way through several snares and traps, both druidic and goblin, the party arrived at a crumbled three-story tower; its upper floors were in ruins and there was no roof. They could hear goblins speaking inside. They approached in the shadows and burst through the door. There they encountered many goblins and a hobgoblin, Big Grigbad, whom they dispatched. After a short rest, the party proceeded upstairs, where they defeated undead skeletons and more goblins.

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Interlude, The Hallowed
The Hallowed

Grisha pads silently along the crumbling cobblestones of Fallcrest, passing dark buildings with windows lit orange in the dusk. The sounds of laughter and the murmur of conversations is all around him, as well as the smells of roasted meat, garlic and spices.

A dark figure hurtles from an alley and outstretched arms grab for Grisha — he is well-trained and always on guard. He instinctively sidesteps, and leans into the motion, attempting to pull the perpetrator into a roll, but the assailant has spectacular balance, and shifts, tumbling to the side out of Grisha’s reach. She looks up smiling, and says, “Still got it, Gri-Gri.”

As they both straighten up and face each other, Grisha simply says, “You.”

The woman’s dramatically-arched eyebrows rise, “I haven’t seen you in—what—three years? And all I get is, ‘You’?”

Grisha sighs heavily, and begins to walk on.

“Not feeling like banter, then?” the woman continues, following along, “That’s alright I’ll talk and you listen…”

Grisha tilts his head slightly and says, “Not now, Sascha. I don’t have any patience for your…games. The last time I saw you we were both nearly killed and for no good purpose. I have other concerns, now. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want something from me—I know you well enough for that. So, find someone else for your mischief this time.”

Undeterred, Sascha continues, “Well that isn’t exactly fair, is it? If you had stuck to the plan and not decided to improvise….anyway, when you hear what I have to say you’ll have no alternative…”

“Then I don’t want to hear it!” Grisha stops and turns on Sascha, towering over her. She faces him boldly, square-shoulders, without flinching. He continues, “I have other concerns now, and a friend needs my help.” He walks on.

“Well I need your help too; I thought we were friends.” Sascha scowls as she follows.

Grisha sighs again, “You don’t understand, it’s Einar.”

“Oh,” she chuckles, “are you still babysitting that kid, then?”

“No you miserable—” he slows and stops and looks at her. “His sister was killed not long ago. He’s been a mess.”

Sascha looks down and smooths her black hunting outfit, “Oh. Gods be damned. You mean that little pigtailed thing, Eira? How? What happened?”

“Kobolds,” answers Grisha, “And he needs my support right now, I can’t go off with you on some quest to steal art from a Nylandan noble, or intercept supplies meant for the imperial guard. That stuff is in my past.”

Sascha says, “What if I said, you might be able to help me, AND help your friend Einar? Because what I have to say to you affects us both deeply. It affects…our kin. Our shared heritage. And I need you for this. I can only come to you.”

Grisha growls low, and then simply says, “Come with me.”

  • * *

Seated at a pitted table in the Nentir Inn, a flagon of ale between them, one of Sascha’s boots up on the next seat, she says, “Goblins have The Hallowed.”

“What? How?” Grisha instantly sits up straighter, elbows on the table between them.

“Not sure. But somehow they got past the forest defenses, and took the tower – or what’s left of it. You remember Ivoljin? He came to find me. He needs help clearing the infestation – and he and I can’t do it alone. The goblins have….they have Grigbad with them,” Sascha shudders.

“Big Grigbad? That is very bad. He’s a psychopath even among goblins. But what could they ever want with The Hallowed? Do they even know what it is?”

“That isn’t clear,” Sascha leans in, “but Ivol says that countless priceless, powerful artifacts of the old Sindran empire are hidden there. What could happen if they fell into the hands of a goblin clan chief? These goblins are clearly desperate in the first place, to brave the ancient defenses of the Howling Forest. Besides the precious artifacts of our kin and the preservation of this ancient home of our people, this is perhaps a chance to help Einar find his footing again. Grisha—put a sword in his hand and give him a purpose! He will never get better wallowing in his grief here in Fallcrest.”

“Yes but Ivoljin views the Nylandans as occupiers and hates them for all their injustices! What makes you think he would even accept Einar’s help, assuming he agreed and could be motivated?”

Sascha bites her lower lip, “I’m not sure. I will talk to Ivol. I can be very persuasive. And besides – I don’t see any other options presenting themselves, and we are out of time. We need to move first thing tomorrow. I’ll let you know where I’m meeting Ivoljin at 8am. If you can join us, we will wait until 8:30 for you. If you do not come, I will go with Ivol alone.” Sascha places a hand on Grisha’s arm. “I know you have no patience for games—and I wouldn’t have come to you for something like that. I need you now more than ever. Do this one thing for me?”

Grisha shifts heavily and scowls at the table, mind racing as the sounds of laughter and music surround him.

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Shadowfell, Session 6
Balgron the Fat

Still Saturday afternoon.

Party searched fallen goblins and took a short break while Vermundur took a door off it’s hinges to use to shore up a barricade in front of the doorway to the lower level, but never completed that.

They heard some yelling and some banging of weapons, and then mobs of goblins started appearing from both sides of the main entry chamber. The party split into two groups to fight them off, but being already sapped of resources, they found they were becoming quickly overwhelmed.

The party retreated up the stairs to the surface and the goblins followed. Hinrik created a static pillar at the top of the stairs that would only allow one enemy to pass at a time, and Vermundur stood guard to help the others escape. This bottleneck gave the party a major strategic advantage, and they gradually wore down the goblin forces, and fought and killed the goblin’s chieftain, Balgron the Fat.

The party searched the bodies and then retreated to Winterhaven, following a short rest. They met some Sindran men on the road that initially threatened the party, but Osvald talked them out of trouble as a known Sindran sympathizer. The party continued on their way to Winterhaven.

Upon arrival, the gates were barred and Lord Padraig informed them that the town had come under attach from undead that were rising from the dead in the cemetery outside town. The party asked to be let in for healing. They were admitted and Sister Linora healed their wounds. The party went to the graveyard, and fought over a dozen skeletons and the elf woman Ninaran they had seen earlier in Wrafton’s Inn. They searched Ninaran’s body and found a letter from Kalarel, asking her to raise the undead in order to catch the adventurer’s returning to town. The letter indicated that his work was nearly complete. He also provided a pass-phrase to the second subterranean level beneath the ruined keep, “______________________________________________”.

The party rested and slept, visiting Valthruun on Sunday morning, and purchased a few rituals for Hinrik, and sold some equipment. Then they returned to the Keep around lunchtime.

They entered and found the place to be as they had left it – bodies of fallen goblins all about. They heard a noise coming from an open door and investigated, discovering a goblin named Splug who had been left behind in a jail cell for having stolen rations from his fellow goblins. He begged for release, and offered information and assistance to the party. The party agreed and let him out. He escorted them through the stronghold to Balgron’s chamber, and showed them the location of secret doors. In Balgron’s chamber, the party used keys recovered from Balgron to open a chest, in which they found 560 gp and a magic wand +1. While there, Splug armed himself with a spear and 5 javelins, and donned leather armor. The party was a little uneasy with this, but he assured them he would be loyal to them.

Next they checked the excavation room, where a number of goblins had been working tirelessly to search for a powerful, buried magical treasure. Splug said no treasure was found, and he doesn’t know what it was supposed to be, or even look like.

The session ended here. Game time: Sunday afternoon around 1pm. Characters at 2088 XP, fully healed with 1 action point each. Plan is to continue exploring level 1 and find the way to descend to level 2, and find and stop Kalarel.

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Shadowfell, Session 5
The Second Wave

Re-entered Keep on the Shadowfell basement.

Party fought more Goblins as well as Drakes.

8 Goblins were killed in the battles. 3 Goblins and 2 Drakes ran off back down the steps to the left – possibly for reinforcements or to find another way around. To the right, the hallway turns right again and leads to three doors, the center one was left open by goblins that ran in to join the fray. Party has not explored. They are considering barricading themselves in.

Party is injured and sapped of resources, but were able to complete a short rest and earned an Action Point. XP total after the session is 18__. Party has not yet searched the bodies of the fallen goblins.

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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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