The House of ShadowLore

Prisoners of the Pyramid

Bandits outside the pyramid

Trapped in the pyramid

Ettin and carrion crawlers. Found the Head of Vyrelis.

Rats and boneslide

Rest

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Into the Winterbole Forest

Green dragon

Rest

Stirges

Owlbears

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A Horrific Homecoming

As the party was breaking down camp and preparing to hit the road once more, they were set upon by a group of bugbears and their pet hyenas. Once the dust settled, the group found a crude map on one of the bugbears which depicted a dark pyramid amidst a forest. Intrigued by the coincidence, both Abraxus and Autumn revealed to the group that they had been having odd dreams which also showed them a shadowy pyramid located somewhere deep in the Winterbole Forest. In the dreams they saw a tiefling which bid them to find the pyramid where they could find “power for the taking” and were told to seek out Karavakos.

The group discussed the possibility of finding the pyramid as they made their way to Andero’s village, where they made a very disturbing discovery. The village had been ravaged. Human and halfing remains were scattered about, and some of the buildings were missing entirely. While they were looking around the remains of the town, some shadowy wolves appeared and attacked them.

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Celebration Feast

Goriand, Andero, Abraxus and Autumn head back to Winterhaven to find the gates closed and the walls manned by the Regulars, keeping vigilant watch for danger. Upon hearing of the group’s success at the Keep, the gates are opened wide and the party ushered into Wrafton’s where they are bombarded with mugs of ale and requests to hear of their heroic exploits.

Lord Padraig asked the group to be their guests in town through the following day when they can once again open up the town for market day and hold a celebration feast in their honor that night. He also invited them to stay as long as they liked and assured them that they would always be welcome in Winterhaven.

So the group spent the evening and the following day mingling with the good folks of Winterhaven. They were able to find buyers for some of the trinkets they found within the ruins of the keep and were also able to pick of a couple of items that caught their eye. And when the time came for the evening feast, the town was filled with revelers toasting the victory of their new heroes.

The next morning, the group left Winterhaven with calls of well-wishes floating after them in the morning breeze. They had decided to follow Andero to his home village on the eastern shores of Lake Wintermist where the halfling hoped to unravel the mystery behind the sudden delivery of his master’s staff to him in Fallcrest.

Kobolds small They hadn’t been traveling long along the road north from Winterhaven when Andero spotted a group of kobolds lying in wait to ambush them. Thanks to the halfling’s sharp eyes, the group was able to get the jump on the kobolds instead. The group quickly gained the advantage and one of the kobolds threw a ceramic pot into the air where it exploded into a bright fireball. Figuring this was a signal for reinforcements, the group pressed the attack even harder and cut through the remaining kobolds just as a hobgoblin attack force arrived on the scene.
The party eagerly dove into battle with the hobgoblins; and though they were a far more disciplined fighting group than the kobolds, they too would prove to be no match for the heroes. The companions emerged bloodied and battered, but victorious. Hobgoblin small

From the words that were exchanged during combat as well as the markings found on the kobolds and hobgoblins, it was determined that the two groups were the remnants of Irontooth’s gang and the Bloodreavers. The two groups had apparently planned to combine their strength to take revenge on the ones who had decimated their organizations… a mistake which cost them everything.

Zombies Traveling on, it wasn’t long until the road led the party past the ruins of the Keep on the Shadowfell, where they noticed a group of undead milling about the ruins. They didn’t want to leave such a threat behind them, so they charged headlong into the ranks of shambling zombies. The ragged undead fell one after another to the mighty blows of the heroes until over a score of corpses littered the ruins, never to rise again.

With the last remnants of Kalarel’s minions now destroyed, the group continued their journey towards Andero’s home. After a few more miles, they left the road to cut northeast across the countryside. They skirted the rolling hills of the Gardbury Downs and crossed the open plains, heading for the eastern shores of Lake Wintermist and the edge of the Winterbole Forest. As night fell, they found what shelter they could in a small copse of trees on the plains and made camp for the night.

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Sealing the Rift

The party pushes through the doors to find themselves in a temple dedicated to Orcus. Glowing crystal pillars reveal a priest standing at an altar up ahead. Blood flows from the altar to stream across the floor before flowing through a grate in the midst of the temple.

As the group rushes in, they find themselves being attacked from all sides by vampire spawn, a couple of barbaric humans and a shadowy, goblinoid creature. Though the group took a bit of a beating early in the battle, they quickly turned the tide and emerged victorious.

When the din of battle died away, they could hear chanting coming up from the hole in the floor grate. Looking down, they saw thick, blood-covered chains leading down into a lower level of the temple where Kalarel stood at an alter performing a ritual to open the Rift to the Shadowfell. Kalarel small
Rift small The group made their way down to the lower chamber (some more gracefully than others). Kalarel proved to be an extremely tough opponent and only with a little luck did they manage to defeat him and his undead minions. When the final blow fell on Kalarel, he was sucked into the Rift; his panicked cries for mercy from Orcus echoing through the chamber. With Kalarel gone, the magic of his ritual work fails and the glowing runes on the floor and around the portal sputter and die. The Rift is sealed once more.
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The end is nigh...

After a much needed rest, the party moved on to continue exploring the dungeon, hoping to find Kalarel before he can complete his task. Following the only unexplored corridor to the south, they pushed through a set of double doors and into a large chamber containing several statues. In the midst of the room stood a towering statue of a warrior in plate armor holding an outstretched sword. In the corners of the eastern wall were statues of two crouching dragons. To the south, a small entryway to a set of doors had four more statues of small cherubic figures holding vases.

As the party moved through the chamber, the statues’ purpose came to light. The giant warrior started swinging his sword, attempting to smash people and shove them in front of the dragon statues which belched fire from their gaping mouths. And as anyone moved to the entryway to the far door, the cherubs poured out their vases forming a magical whirlpool which threatened to batter and drown anyone caught in it.

With quick wits and strong arms, the group was able to get through the gauntlet of traps and make their way through the southern doors. And beyond those doors they found themselves in a chamber crawling with undead. Numerous zombies and a ghoul clawed at the group as their might and magic tore through the decaying corpses. When at last the dead were laid to rest, the party searched around the chamber and found a small passageway leading into another small chamber. There they found a pile of debris from previous victims. The only item of value to be found was a Bag of Holding.

The only other exit from the chamber is through a pair of large brass doors. An unsettling feeling seems to emanate through the doorway, and from beyond it you hear a raised voice, singing praises to Orcus. While you cannot be sure if the voice you hear belongs to Kalarel, you do feel certain that your destination is near.

Preparing yourself for battle, you push through the doors…

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Deeper into the dungeons

After recovering their strength, the party heads deeper into the dungeon where they are forced to contend with a group of hobgoblin guards and their giant spider. Once the guards are defeated, the party moves on and soon finds the barracks where the rest of Kalarel’s guards were staying. The more disciplined combat style of the militaristic hobgoblins proves to be much more difficult to contend with than the sloppy fighting of the goblins above. The battles prove difficult and at one point the hobgoblin leader even calls out for his men to take the party alive so that they can sell them as slaves to the Bloodreavers. The hobgoblins would not be so lucky however, for the party managed to rally and come out victorious.

Though the battles had taken a hefty toll on the group, they decided to press on, hoping that they had just dealt with the main bulk of remaining resistance. Further into the dungeon they found a hallway that seemed completely clean of debris, unlike most of the rest of the dungeon. Hoping this was a sign that they were nearing their goal, they continued on. What they quickly discovered was that the halls had been swept clear by a gelatinous cube.

The fight was tricky, but in the end they were able to destroy the dangerous cube. However, the sounds of battle had alerted other denizens of the area and the party found themselves under attack by a couple of corruption corpses. After the corpses fell, never to rise again, the party found that this corridor ended in a small chamber.

Within the chamber they found a small chest engraved with an image of Bahamut. When the chest was opened, they found within it some belongings of Sir Keegan’s family. A small gold medallion had the name “Drystan Keegan” etched into it and a thin platinum bracelet bore the name “Ceinwein Keegan”. Also among the items was a toy sword, a child’s doll and a hairbrush with a mother-of-pearl handle, and another amulet, which upon inspection, was discerned to be a Safewing Amulet.

Seeing no signs of disturbance in the small chamber, the group figured it would be as safe a place as any to lay low and rest until they could recover from the very taxing battles thus far.

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A dark history revealed

With their strength renewed, the party ventured back out into the dungeon where they discovered the living quarters of more goblins, including their leader, Balgron the Fat. Balgron’s bravado quickly dissipated in the face of the party’s superior might and he was soon begging for his life. However, he was not able to offer any information on Kalarel or what was transpiring in the depths of the dungeons, so Balgron’s position as goblin chieftain was quickly terminated.

Continuing their exploration, the group next found a torture chamber with more goblins and a hobgoblin torturer wielding red-hot pokers. This group soon lay dead and the party pressed on with their exploration.

They soon found a long hallway lined with sarcophagi. The party readied themselves for a trap as they made their way down the hallway, and were quickly being besieged by skeletons spewing from the sarcophagi. Leaving a trail of shattered bones, they made their way to the end of the hall into a chamber which was obviously once a shrine to Bahamut. An altar sat along both the north and south walls, and a mural of the dragon god graced the ceiling of the chamber. A search of the altars revealed a secret compartment which held five small dragon statues inlaid with silver.

The party then went through a door which led out of the shrine and found themselves in a small burial chamber where a stone sarcophagus lay on a raised dais. As they entered, the lid burst from the sarcophagus and a skeletal figure dressed in plate armor rose from the dust.

“The rift must never be re-opened!” the skeletal figure croaks. “State your business, or prepare to die!”

Intrigued by the figure’s statement, the party conversed with the skeletal knight eventually convinced him of their intention to stop the rift from be opened by Kalarel and this is what he told them.

“I am Sir Keegan. I was commander here in Shadowfell Keep. It was my charge to keep the rift sealed, lest Orcus’ unholy powers once again seep into the world.”

“I failed in my responsibility. I allowed the influence of the Shadow Rift and my knowledge of the crumbling empire to distract me from my sworn oath. The corruption that lies on the other side of the rift touched me and triggered disaster. Orcus’ vile taint soaked through the rift and into my dreams. A madness overcame me. I was possessed! In a rage, I drew my sword and slew my wife and children. From that bloody deed I moved outward, attacking my captains, one by one, killing them even as they stared in shock. I had become a murderous fiend!”

“Finally the alarm went up, and what remained of the legion banded together against me. Even in my rage, I realized I couldn’t best them all, so I fled into the crypts to hide from vengeance. Only then did the madness lift. I realized what I had done and despaired. I had killed my love and broken my oath. More than that, I had done so with my sword, Aecris, an implement given to me by King Elidyr when I was knighted. The remnants of my legion sealed the passage and trapped me here. I selected this as fitting place to spend eternity.”

“I am past redemption, but perhaps I can grant you aid. I cannot leave this crypt, but Aecris can. Perhaps this elegant weapon, unlike me, can be redeemed. I give it to you that you might purge Shadowfell Keep of those who work to open the rift. Seek Bahamut’s boon at the altars outside and perhaps he too will grant you aid.”

The party then returned to the twisting hallways of the dungeon where they ran into more of the walking dead. Their battle with the zombies was complicated by a series of runic traps traced into the floor of the corridors, which caused those hit by them to flee in different directions. The party was able to overcome the zombies and the traps and even discovered a secret room hidden off one of the corridors.

The room seemed to be nothing more than a small empty chamber, but this proved to be an illusion, and after a brief fight with a couple more zombies, they entered into a small secret armory. The racks and shelves in the armory contain an array of weapons and armor that have been rusted and rendered useless with age. As they move near a rusted suit of armor upon a stand, a ghostly image appears and calls out with a booming voice.

“A wondrous treasure,
valued by all, sought by many.
Found in both victory and defeat,
yet never at the bottom of a treasure chest.
It marches before you like a herald,
and lives long after you are gone.
Of what do I speak?”

After pondering the riddle for a few moments, the correct answer is spoken and the rusted armor gleams with light and transforms from junk into a magical suit of armor.

With a little more exploration of the passageways, the party finds a stairway leading deeper into the dungeons. Knowing that more trouble likely waits for them at the bottom of the stairs, the group decides to hole up in the hidden armory to rest and recuperate.

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A spy revealed.

In the morning, the group went to the town’s graveyard where they hoped to put an end to this latest threat. There they found several skeletons waiting for them as well as a familiar face from town… Ninaran, the elven huntress who had told them where to find Irontooth and his gang. She had performed a ritual which left a circle of sickly glowing runes in the ground and was obviously the source of the undead. Once Ninaran and her undead servants were defeated, Autumn was able to destroy the runic circle to prevent any more undead from rising.

In one of Ninaran’s pouches they found a handwritten letter which read: “I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply you with a force to thwart them. I’m very close to completion; see that I’m not interrupted. ~ Kalarel”

With this information spurring them on, the group quickly heads back into town to report their findings to Lord Padraig and then head up the northern road to the keep.

They find the keep to be a ruined and crumbling shell like the townsfolk told them, but they quickly discover an entrance to the underground levels of the keep. As they entered the dungeon, they made quick work of a group of goblins who were being lazy in their guard duties. Then choosing one of the corridors to follow, they soon came upon a chamber that some other goblins were excavating. The goblins and their guard drakes were soon taken care of and the group pushed on. They found some natural tunnels and decided to explore them, finding rats, an ochre jelly and a nest of kruthiks. They also discovered a set of bronze doors with the words “Stay out. Really.” written across them. Naturally they did not heed this warning and entered through the doors to find a small chamber mostly filled with dank, brackish water. In the midst of this pool was a small island littered with bones and various objects. A closer look provoked an attack from a blob of blue slime that burst from the water. Once the slime was destroyed the group was able to search through the litter of its past victims and found a scroll tube containing these messages:

“Remember, don’t wet the nodule – unless Kalarel is not receptive to the offer. Then, wet it only from a distance, and then, turn and run. Water will bring the creature out of its dormancy, and it will consume anything it can reach.”

“Greetings, Kalarel. I have recently learned of your activity in the area and have an offer for you. During your time in this region, if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have duergar allies in Thunderspire in need of slave stock. If you are interested, send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way ~ Chief Krand of the Bloodreavers.”

The party figured this chamber would be a secure place to rest, so they barred the door and settle down to regain their strength before exploring the rest of the dungeon.

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Irontooth falls... the dead rise

The following morning, the party decided to follow Ninaran’s directions and try finding the kobold’s lair while Valthrun continued to study the mirror. The party was able to find where the kobolds were holing up and faced a couple of very difficult battles clearing out the bandit hideout. The leader of the bandits was a very tough goblin by the name of Irontooth, and as he fell in combat he cried out “Kalarel and Lord Orcus, prepare my way!”

Searching Irontooth, the party found this message: “My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to 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 all those Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.”

The party headed back to Winterhaven for some much needed rest only to find that the town gates have been closed in response to an attack by undead coming from the nearby graveyard. Lord Padraig stands with the guards above the gates and asks that the party head to the graveyard to deal with this new threat. Not feeling up to the task in their current condition, the party instead entered the town to speak with Lord Padraig and Valthrun. The party spoke of the events at the bandit lair and the message they had found on Irontooth. This confirmed Valthrun’s suspicions from recent events and his study of the mirror that the party had found.

“The keep north of town was built during the height of the old empire. Some sort of watchtower. I never knew for certain what it was for. Some believed it was to guard against gnoll marauders, but I didn’t believe that was right. It fell into ruins long ago and has most likely become a lair for goblins or kobolds or some other such creatures. But from what we have now learned, I believe that the keep holds a rift into the Shadowfell itself! And should this Kalarel successfully open the rift as his letter suggests, then the town may soon be overrun by undead! You must stop this from happening!”

Lord Padraig asks for the party’s help in dealing with the most immediate threat of the attacks from the graveyard, and then for them to investigate the Keep and stop Kalarel from opening the Rift. The party agreed to help, but only after resting through the night to replenish their strength.

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