As the battle came to its bloody conclusion, a terrible realization came to the party. Bloodspears had entered the Vale. For the first time in generations the foes who had once brought the region to its knees had crossed Stonefang Pass. For one of the party however, it was not the Vale that worried him, but the threat the Bloodspears posed to his clan. For amongst their beaten foes lay the unconcsious body of Thryrkkla, who had grown up with the raging barbarian who now stood over her. A Kordclaw fighting with the very foes who had tried to wipe out their clans existence. A Kordclaw who’s father had been a leading voice in exiling Grak from his homeland. A traitor. Realizing that he would need the information she held, Grak contained his rage, resisting his primal urges to murder his former clan-mate. Binding and gagging their prisoner, Vimak summoned just enough of his healing powers so that she could walk, and the group set out towards Harkenwold. After a brief overnight in Tor’s Hold, the team continued towards Harken. Arriving at Douven Stahl’s door, they were greeted by Juli. Needless to say, the lady of the house was stunned to see a shackled half-orc at her door, but quickly summoned Douven. Stahl shared in the groups worries of the implications of a Bloodspear incursion to the Vale, and set off at once to inform Baron Stockmer. On the way to the Keep, he also informed Jon Snow that the young lady whom he’d romanced at the banquet, who had stabbed him as she left, had been taken prisoner in Dardun, at the Inn of the Weeping willow.
Two painful interrogations followed. Thyrkla was hardly moved by her capture to spill, and spent most of her energy threatening Grak. She did however, pass on the information that the Kordclaw clan survived, but by accepting the Bloodspear ways, not fighting them as Grak had urged. Rose was willing to give more information, but only in private to Jon Snow. She mocked his lack of knowledge of their home, and confirmed the worst, that his father had been deposed, and his Step-mother now ruled in his place. Baron Stockmer’s guards noted the violence and pyschopathy of Rose, stating that she had to be kept in solitary as she had murdered her two previous cellmates bare-handed. While Snow interrogated the young woman the others noticed a curious, but quite striking visual resemblance between their friend and his would-be murderer. Snow left the meeting taking away pride that he had made it onto his step-mother’s radar, but worried about the state of his homeland of T’yrn Ruon. At this point, Baron Stockmer appeared, and though he was friendly, seemed slightly offput by the heroes rapid return to Harkenwold. Douven suggested they adjourn to his home, and caught up with the team on their adventures in the Fey, and their meeting with Galadran. He then suggested that the group make their way to Dardun and seek out the Inn of the Weeping Willow. Suspecting Rose was awaiting rescue there, he hoped the group would be able to sniff out any potential threats.
The innkeep, Casandra Saah, was a curious woman. She greeted the heroes with a sarcastic welcome. In her inn, those who blamed the heroes for the deaths of civilians had a strong voice, and it took several rounds of drinks before the clamor against the group died down. Casandra appeared to want to speak to the heroes, but would not do it in front of the bars other patrons, mostly humans, but including several halflings, elves, and one very unfriendly Dwarf. As the heroes retired to their rooms for the night awaiting Casandras visit, they one by one drifted off into a deep, heavy sleep.
When they awoke, the inn was suspiciously quiet. A quick look at the door showed it locked, from the inside, though none in the party could recall doing so. A quick look outside showed it was still dark. A second, slightly longer look gave a different impression. The night sky was tinged with red, and the moon seemed larger and closer than it should be. As grogginess fell away, Darmok’s snores cut through silence. The Dwarf had not awoken with his friends, and now nothing seemed to stir the sorcerer. While Vimak attended to Darmok, Snow and Grak slowly made their way out of the room and into the hall. Noone could be seen or heard on their floor, nor the one below it. Making their way down into the main room of the inn, they discovered the fire had burned out entirely, which implied a longer passage of time than the still dark sky. The inn was clean and quiet. Suddenly, there came a pounding on the door. “Come out and meet your doom mortals” boomed a voice that seemed to surround the inn, echoing as clearly in the party’s rented room as it was in the main hall. Sneaking a peak out the window, Snow could see noone outside, nor Magdronan from the bedroom. The party regrouped in the main hall, Vimak and Magdronan carrying Darmoks still sleeping body with them. The pounding persisted, but nothing could be seen at the door. Finally, gathering their courage (and their unconscious Dwarf) and recalling that they were, after all, supposed to be heroes, the group stepped outside. The quiet that had permeated the inn did not stop at the threshold. No birds sang, no insects buzzed. The moon was higher and brighter in the sky that even a short time ago when they saw it from their room’s window. As Onodrim pointed this out, all saw a great winged shadow pass over the moon, to quick to process, but too ominous to be imagined. In the distance, Grak saw a blue light, and the group set off towards it. A sense of dread filled the adventurers as the entered a small forest clearing. The blue glow eminated from a portal of some sort. A large creature stood beside it, armored in black, wielding a monstrous sword who’s blade was wreathed in flame. A woman lay helpless on the ground before him. The beast turned towards them, showing glowing red eyes behind his helm. “She must not live!” it screamed, slicing the sword downwards, and cleaving the woman in two. Without another word, the beast stepped through the portal. As the party rushed over, they knew it was too late. Whoever the woman had been, she was dead. A brief debate ensued, over whether they should follow the beast or accept that somethings were beyond their control. As they spoke the womans blood flowed slowly across the grass, and immediately as it contacted the portal the blue glow expanded outward, flashed, and collapsed on itself.
As the party recovered from this disorientation, they took stock of their surroundings. They were still in the same clearing it seemed, only a darker version. The moon had turned deep crimson, the womans body had vanished, and so had the unconcsious body of their friend Darmok. As they looked around further they found themselves surrounded by graves and tombstones. A large fenced archway, seemingly constructed of skulls stood before them. A loud roar sounded in the distance, and the black shadow was once agian seen crossing in front of the moon. “Welcome to your doom” boomed the voice from the inn. The gate creaked, and Darmok walked from it. His skin was sallow and his eyes glowed a deep purple. He spoke to the party, denigrating their friends mental capacity, and giving a rather poor outlook for their future. Then, as he stepped back through the gate, the attack began. Demons appeared from the graves, claws and tentacles grasping towards the heroes. A pitched battle ensued, and the heroes emerged victorious. Darmok again appeared from the gate, this time leaving it open behind him. “Well, perhaps you are a bit stronger than I thought. No matter.” As he walked away, the party followed him, entering another area, this one distinctly the inner sanctum of a graveyard. Open tombs for all five heroes stood before them, including one already closed and bearing Darmoks name. Darmok, or, at least whatever was posing as him, sat atop the graveyard. As they approached the graves, the temperature seemed to plummet almost instantly, icy chills lapping at the heroes. A solitary scarecrow stood in the middle of the field, hanging limply off his stake. Darmok laughed at the heroes. “I didnt expect you to make it this far.” His voice seemed different than usual, almost as if there was a second, dissonant voice behind his. “But you will make it no farther.” With that, he shrugged and seemed to fade into his grave. Turning away, the group saw that the scarecrow had come alive. Frost tipped his hands, and his eyes burned the same purple as Darmoks. He cackled loudly, and seemed to smile at the heroes. “I was so hoping they’d leave you to me, dearies!” The frozen monstrosity before them was not alone however. Several large, intimidating shapes appeared in the distance, walking with a menacing gait towards the party. Two wendigos soon stood next to the scarecrow, easily twenty feet tall, heads crowned with menacing ten-point antlers. Several other demons followed, including one that seemed to be nothing more or less than an animated furnace, belching fire as it slowly advanced. The battle was long and viscious, but again the Heroes of Winterhaven prevailed, Magdronan’s blade parting the scarecrow with a crack of ice to end the threat. Beyond the battle grounds, a bridge of skulls crossed a river of blood, and there the party followed. Emerging into an area containing three masoleums, the heroes once again saw Darmok before them. “Well, I see the silver fool has chosen you wisely. His doom too shall come. But now, enough of this game.” Darmok’s body crumpled to the ground as the glow left his eyes. Gone was the Dwarfs borrowed voice, only the deep booming voice from the inn remained. “Your time is ended. RED EYES! RED DEATH!” With that, the door of the largest masoleum burst open and the nightmare beast stepped out. Ten feet tall, armor and blade wreathed in red flame, its eyes glowing red from within its helm. His minions emerged from the nearby sarcophogai. The party furiously entered the fray, unleashing their might upon the nightmare. The beast seemed at first to shrug it off, vanishing several times only to reappear again in perfect tactical positioning. His sword was strong, and cut the party deep, taking Onodrim within inches of his life. Finally, when his minions had fallen the beast was surrounded. Axe, sword, and spell brought the beast to his knees. A pained roar split the night, freezing all in place. Enough! You leave me no choice. I’ll finish you myself. The black shadow crossed the moon once more, and the ground trembled as a massive green dragon landed from his flight. This was the source of the mystery voice. “Now, tremble at my glory. Gaze upon your death. And face the might of GETHZERIAN!!!!!!” THe dragon inhaled and unleashed a terrifying spray from deep within his throat accompanied by a terrible roar, then all was black.
The next sound the heroes heard was knocking. Quiet at first, then louder, more insistent. One by one, they heard their names. Casandra’s voice cut through the air. The party awoke, all except Darmok, who lay still sleeping, seemingly unharmed, eyes clear of any glow. As they open the door Casandra bursts through. “You’re lucky to be alive. Something dark and evil happened here last night….”