The House of ShadowLore

Invitation to the House

While sitting at tavern or going about your business in town, you were approached by a couple who introduced themselves as Lord Daisen and Lady Twilla Tildenaar. They told you of how they had recently retired from adventuring and decided to settle down in Fallcrest to raise a family. They have also decided to start an adventurer’s guild called The House of ShadowLore and that they are looking for individuals to join their House. After spending some time talking with you, they leave you to think about their offer and if you decide to give it a try, to come to their estate the following day.

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Quest for an ogre's head

You arrive at Daisen and Twilla’s estate at the appointed time and find that four others have accepted the invitation as well and that the five of you will form the inaugural adventuring group of The House. With the forming of this group, Daisen and Twilla send you on your first quest – to bring back an ogre’s head. The first step, they tell you, is to obtain a gryphon’s hammer from Teldorthan Ironhews.

The party heads for Lowtown to Teldorthan’s Arms where they find Teldorthan in his usual place out front, pipe in hand, chatting with a couple of locals. Hearing the party’s request for a gryphon’s hammer, he gives them an archery challenge to earn it. “If adventurin’ were easy, everyone’d be doin’ it. It takes some fortitude!” The challenge consists of chugging some strong dwarven liquor, then smashing a target at twenty paces with a “dwarven arrow”. Goriand proved up to the task and was able to complete the challenge successfully, after which, Teldorthan dug into a pocket, pulled out a gold coin and flipped it to the group. The printing on the coin showed a gryphon’s claw clutching a hammer. “Ye’ll have ta speak with Olive next,” Teldorthan tells you. “Ye’ll likely find her at the Silver Unicorn. Give her me coin and she’ll send ye on yer way.”

The party then makes their way back up to Hightown and to the Silver Unicorn Inn where they find Olive, a lovely halfling bard, entertaining the patrons. “Ah, the life of an adventurer… how exciting! But be warned, strength of arm alone will only get you so far. You must also be sharp of mind and wit if you wish to live long enough to have tales to tell!” She gives the party three riddles to solve before she will send them on their way.

“My life can be measured in hours,
I serve by being devoured.
Thin, I am quick.
Fat, I am slow,
and the wind is my foe.
What am I?”

“Until I am measured, I am not known.
Yet how you miss me, when I have flown.
What am I?”

“I am often held, yet rarely touched.
I am always wet, yet never rust.
I’m sometimes wagged and sometimes bit,
and to use me well, you must have wit!
What am I?”

Pleased with your answers, she wishes you well on your journey and sings for you a song to lead you on your way.

Following the clues in Olive’s song, the party makes their way east out of town and follows the King’s Road south along the Moon Hills. After several miles of walking south, come to the landmark given in Olive’s song. Turning east, you leave the road and travel across a few miles of open ground until you reach the edge of Harken Forest. The song suggests that by making their way through the forest, they’ll somehow earn the “cat’s meow”. So with nothing more than that to go on, the part pushed into the depths of the forest.

After a few hours of blindly tromping through the woods, with the evening shadows quickly approaching and their patience wearing thin, the party is a bit startled when several arrows suddenly whiz through the trees only barely missing people’s heads and feet. With quick scan of the forest, a shadowy figure is seen fleeing through the trees and a very feline snarl echoes through the woods.

The party quickly gives chase but finds it no easy task to track the elusive figure. The couple of times when the party loses the trail, more arrows whiz from the shadows to spur them on. Through tangles of brush, chill streams and up and over bluffs, the chase taxes the party’s endurance and determination. At last they come to a small clearing when they spy their quarry crouched upon a tree limb on the other side. Cautiously approaching, they just barely make out and avoid a concealed pit trap in the clearing. As the party reaches the tree where the person waits, she pulls aside her cloak so that the lithe form of a razorclaw shifter can be seen.

“Pitiful!” she scowls down from her perch, ignoring any questions you may have. “From here you will go straight south, across the road and the White River to the Glade of Ghosts. There you can find the trail of blood which leads to the ogre’s lair.” With a final hiss of disgust, she flips off of the tree limb and vanishes into the shadows of the night. Feeling frustrated and tired, the party makes camp for the night.

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The ogre's head

The next morning the party strikes out to the south. After winding their way through the trees of Harken Forest for a couple of hours, the party crosses the King’s Road, and soon afterward, the White River. Continuing south as instructed, they soon find a quiet glade dotted with birch trees. The group surmises that this must be the Glade of Ghosts and looks around the area cautiously, knowing whether the name is simply fanciful or hints to something more sinister. However, no spooks or specters leap from the trees and they soon discover a path of crimson flowers known as Blood Lilies. The party then follows this “bloody path” to a small clearing in front of the mouth of a cave.

“Who dat be?” bellows a voice from the cave. “Smell like lunch!” A large ogre lumbers from the cave, followed by his pet cave bear and a tough brawl quickly ensues with both sides taking a beating. In the midst of battle, the ogre suddenly calls a hold to the fight.

“Hold my friends!” he says, as he casually leans on this great club. Gone is the image of a typical dim-witted ogre. Instead, you can see in his eyes a far greater intelligence than you would ever expect and even his speech is clear and articulate. “Easy Toasha” he calls out to his pet, who gives a shake of his great, furry head then rests back on his haunches and scratches lazily at his belly.

Taken a bit by surprise, the party holds their attacks; though they still stand at the ready should this prove a trick. “I am Ghultak” the ogre introduces himself. “You have shown courage and have fought well together. Always remember, that no matter how strong and capable you are alone, you must trust in each other and work as a team if you hope to survive the adventures before you.” Ghultak reaches into a pouch and pulls forth a hand-sized wooden disk and tosses it to the group. Engraved on the disk is an image of Ghultak’s head. “You have earned my token. Return with it to Daisen and Twilla, and may the gods look after you in your travels.” With that, Ghultak and Toasha turn and walk back to their cave.

With the object of their quest in hand, the group journeys back to Fallcrest where Twilla and Daisen listen to their tale over a delicious dinner. Afterwards they tell the party of recent reports of some trouble around the town of Winterhaven to the west. Eager for more adventure, they make plans to head for Winterhaven the following day.

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The road to Winterhaven

The trip to Winterhaven was uneventful the first couple of days. As you neared the town towards the end of the third day, the party was ambushed by a group of kobolds. After dealing with the bandits, the party continued on and arrived in Winterhaven a couple of hours later.

The gate guards welcomed the party and directed them to the nearby Wrafton’s Inn where they could find a room for the night. Salvana Wrafton greeted the party with a warm and welcoming smile, and set them up with rooms and a hot meal. While there, the party was able to meet and speak with a few citizens of note. Eilian the Old spoke readily of increasing problems with local brigands, from attacks along the roads to theft of livestock. Valthrun and Salvana both spoke of a researcher, Douven Staul, who had been working at a dragon burial site south of town, but who had gone missing for a couple of days.

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Douven rescued and ill omens

The next morning, the party headed south to find and investigate the dragon burial site where Douven was said to be working. Along the road south they were once again ambushed by a group of kobolds. While searching the defeated bandits, the party found an odd necklace on the body of a kobold wyrmpriest. On the necklace was a small dragon statuette carved from black onyx. On the bottom of the dragon was etched a skull with ram’s horns, which was determined to be a sign of Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead. The party then continued on to the burial site where they found Douven being held captive by a group consisting of humans, a halfling and a gnome.

Once the dust settled from this tough battle, Douven retrieved a locket from one of his captors. From within the locket, Douven removed a small portrait of his wife, and then offered the locket (+1 Amulet of Health) to the party as thanks for his timely rescue. From Douven they learned that the group was working for someone called Kalarel and they had just recently found at the site a relic that they had been sent to retrieve. It was an ancient mirror of Nerath make. He suggested that if they wanted to find out more about the mirror, they should try taking it to Valthrun in Winterhaven. The party then returned to town with Douven where they hoped to learn more about the mirror and recover from the rough battles of the day.

Back in town, the party spoke with Valthrun who seemed troubled by what they told him and he asked that he be given time to learn what he could about the mirror they had found. At Wrafton’s Inn, Douven was eagerly spreading the word of his rescue and praising the party’s heroics. The party also met Ninaran, a female elf hunter who praised they party’s efforts and told them of where she believed the kobolds had a hidden base – behind a waterfall to the south-east of town.

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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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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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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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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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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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