The heroes of Winterhaven rushed about the inn. They had discovered several things of varying importance. First, their innkeep, Casandra Saah, was a devotee of Nerull, ancient Flan god of death, precursor to the Raven Queen. Due to the fact that last night had been the ancient Holy Day of Nerull, Casandra had been able to break the ritual cast upon the heroes by devotees of Orcus. In one corner, a Duergar, masquerading as a Dwarf. In the other, a Half-Elf huntress, daughter of a defeated foe. Each had worked their mojo in different ways, but together they had placed the heroes into a very deadly nightmare that Darmok was just now awakening from, cursing Duergars with every foul word known to Dwarf-kind as he pulled quill after quill from his neck. In the final abandoned guest room, they found another clue;. the Duergar in disguises human companions had accidentally dropped a military style badge of rank in their hasty exit. A badge denoting its holder a Sergeant of the Guard of T’yrn Ruon, John Snows homeland. Putting two and two together, Snow and his companions realized that these intruders must have been sent to meet with Rose, and arrived only after Casandra had her arrested. Casandra also gave the players an onyx necklace Rose had been wearing when captured, an exquisitely carved Ram-Skull of Orcus. Theorizing that even now the Duergar and his companions must be on their way to Harken to rescue their evil damsel from the dungeons of the Iron Keep, the heroes took off in fast pursuit. However, as seems to be their constant luck, their travel was assailed by bandits. These particular bandits took the form of Elf-kind, including half-breeds and Eladrin. These peculiar Elves were not from any of the tribes found in this area, and their leader was none other than Ninaran’s daughter. Using their powers of teleportation and ranged attacks, the Elves pulled the heroes into combat. The decision proved to be costly if not outright foolish, for soon all but Ninaran’s daughter lay dead, and the huntress fled off into the woods. However, the heroes held out wisdom that they had bigger fish to fry, and allowed her to run, choosing to continue onwards to Harken.
Arriving at the Iron Keep the heroes rushed straight down to the jails, stopping only to order a rookie guard at the gate to order the guard doubled. He impressed upon them that he had not the authority to do so, but they did not hear him as they ran to the cells. Both Rose and Thyrkkla were still in their cells, and neither seemed pleased to see their captors return. Snow and Onodrim led the interrogation of Rose, showing her the symbol of Orcus which she denied knowledge of. Minutes later, a confused Baron Stockmer entered the jail, Douven Stahl at his side. Within a few minutes they had explained their strange request. Darmok pointed out that Duergar, much like Drow, are weakened by direct sunlight, so if this creature were to attempt a rescue, it was likely they would do so under cover of darkness. To this end, it was suggested that the heroes rest now to recuperate their injuries from the nightmare, and then take watch at sunset. Douven Stahl volunteered to keep the daytime watch. Stahl also requested to speak with his charges first. He told them the story of Redra Galliston, a wizard of the ancient Nerathi Empire. Redra had a nightmare, recurring for many years, with a beast who matched the heroes adversary. This dream-curse was a powerful mental assault orchestrated by Gethzerian against the family Galliston, and Redra’s heirs, two of whom would strike multiple blows against the dragon’s rise to power.
That night, the heroes took their first watch. Two guards stood in each tower, and two pairs of two walked the perimeter of the wall. The guardsmen had also erected wooden horse-barriers twenty yards from the edge of the Keep. Rose once again proved resistant to interrogation, and the night passed without incident. The next day was no different. Frustrated with Rose’s stubborness, as well as his friends resistance to killing her outright, Onodrim ordered the guards to use noise and water to deny her sleep. Before heading to rest, the heroes traveled to Druid’s grove, where Norvan, their Gnomish friend ran his potion shop. After a bit of commerce, Norvan told the heroes that two strange men, who spoke in foreign accents similiar to Jon Snows had been in the shop several hours before hand, buying potions. Realizing that these must be the men traveling with the Duergar, the heroes rushed back to Harken. Once they had double checked the watch, they returned to their rooms for rest.
As the sun fell below the walls of the Keep, the heroes returned to the familiar jail. Rose had shown a remarkable ability to sleep despite the distractions, much to Onodrims frustration. He ordered them to step up the interruptions.
When the bell tolled midnight, the heroes paced the jail, edgy from days of waiting. Minutes later, the alarm rang from the walls “Fear, Fire, Foes! Attack on the wall!” Darmok stayed behind to keep watch on the arcane forces keeping teleportation into the jail down, and Vimak agreed to provide him with muscle for protection. As the remaining four heroes rushed to the wall, they found two guards laying dead on the southwest corner, killed by some form of magical attack. The wooden barrier was aflame on this side, though no foes could be seen. The heroes dropped a ladder from the wall and climbed down. Movement in the darkness gave Onodrim an opening for an attack, but he was unsure if he hit. They doused the fire, and made their way back. Meanwhile, downstairs, Darmok attempted to play double agent and convince Rose he’d help her out, but his efforts were met with laughter and curses in Supernal. The heroes returned from the wall, and waited. An hour later, the alarm rose again. The team divided in the same manner, and those who rushed to the wall saw the same area again aflame, and a guard again dead, this one from a crossbow bolt. Several shapes could be seen moving beyond the flames, and a voice called out “Oh Lord Snow, won’t you come down? We have something for you!” A body thumped over the burning barricade, landing in the mud. Grak decided he would have no more dying for their inaction, and in a spectacular moment of action leapt from the wall, drawing his weapons in midair and landing at a run. Onodrim was next, summoning an astral wind from Melora, extinguishing the fire and the life of the archer. Magdronan and Snow quickly lowered a ladder, and the group joined Grak on the ground. The body that had been thrown over was the Tiefling they’d seen at Casandra’s inn. In the distance, Grak saw another figure running, and after a brief debate the group set off in hot pursuit. Undaunted by the darkness, the group followed the mysterious figure until his path joined the road leading out of Harken, and from there pursued till the eastern crossroads. There, a Duergar stood in the middle of the road, laughing. “So, John Snow. We meet at last. And you brought friends. Its a shame you were able to wake from your nightmare.” Another Duergar appeared from within the ruined guardshack, as well as the other human who had been at the Inn. “Time to die bastard. I’ll give your regards to Queen Isis.” Grak charged into battle, swinging both weapons at the first duergar, only to be knocked back in suprise when the creature quadrupled in size. A Harpy, a Hobgoblin, and two fire demons joined the fight as well. The hobgoblin was a fierce fighter, and his torso was tattooed with the symbol of Orcus, glowing as he fought. Spell met spell, and steel clashed with steel. John Snow shouted commands, attempting to inspire his friends to glory, but he was the first to fall as his stepmother’s vindictive Duergar servant poured his dark magic upon him. Onodrim called upon Melora’s might, and was able to pull Snow back from the Raven Queen’s embrace, but it was only temporary, as the harpy raked her claws across the warlords throat, and John Snow fell unconscious again. Grak fought the giant Duergar alone, their warhammers trading blows, and finally Magdronan stepped in to aide the barbarian, and under their might the beast fell. Only moments later however, the Half-Orc was pierced by the Hobgoblin’s foul blade, a wound that appeared fatal. Magdronan moved to help his friend, but was assailed by his foe and driven back. He too fell, pierced by the blade of Orcus’ Blackguard. Onodrim, alone on the field, weighed his options. Wisdom said to run, but his heart pulled him to stand and attempt to save his friends. But the might of the Hobgoblin and the speed and magic of the harpy were too much, and finally, he too fell, hearing at last the cruel laughter of the Hobgoblin.
While their friends ran off into the night, Darmok and Vimak patrolled the small jail of the Iron Keep. Two soldiers were stationed with them, one at the door, and the other outside Thyrkkla’s cell. Minutes later, much to their suprise, the door of the secure hallway opened, and a human woman entered. Tall, thin, and pale, her hair was a bright red, and her face had once held great beauty, but now showed signs of aging. She walked in as if she belonged, and before either could react, raised her hand and spoke words of command. Darmok felt himself glued to the ground, immobilized, and his mind dazed by the sheer power she wielded. But he was the lucky one. Vimak’s mind twisted in on itself, and he found himself dominated by the will of the human. “Well, well. It seems my dear stepson has taken the bait. Excellent.” She walked around to Vimak, and noticed his holy symbol. “My dear goliath,” she whispered, “he’s going to fall, you know that, don’t you. Platinum is out. Green is in.” Turning to Darmok she said, “but you, Dwarf, you we might work with. No godly taint, bristling with arcane power. But no, my duergar friends would never work with you. Too bad. Such a waste. Now, tell me, where is my sweet Rose? I hope you know the world of pain that awaits you if so much as a hair upon her head has been harmed.” Fortunately for her, Vimak held the keys in his pocket, and she commanded her servant to enter the cell and release Rose. The young girl showed shock at her mother’s appearance, and once released from her bindings collapsed into the seat in a show of exhaustion. Isis Ravanna, Queen of T’yrn Ruon, turned at a speed belying her years. “You shall all pay for this.” Waving her hand, she commanded Vimak to strik Darmok, and a mighty blow rained upon the Dwarf. Moments passed as the two struggled mightily, finally freeing themselves from their mental constraints. A fierce battle ensued, Isis necromantic magic against Darmok’s chaos and Vimak’s strength. Queen Isis summoned a pair of Ice demons to the fray, and they made quick work of the guards before being blasted apart by Darmok. Isis was a blur on the battlefield, teleporting seemingly with every strike, and leaving her enemies dazed. Rose did not stir, seemingly too weak to enter the fight. Then, hoping to force the fight to an end, Vimak entered the cell and turned his axe on Rose. A thundering crash echoed through the chamber as Vimak struck, followed by Isis’ pained scream. Vimak’s holy symbol turned from platinum to black, and crumbled as he pulled it from his neck. Bahamut was displeased with the Goliath, and he knew at that moment that his holy powers, the divine magic he worked through his runes was no longer available to him. Isis teleported herself between the two and began to pour dark magic out, but Darmok’s spells proved mightier, and Isis was forced to collect Rose and vanish in a final teleportation spell that greatly outranged Darmok’s senses.
Patching themselves together, the two rushed from the basement to find their colleagues. The guards pointed them in the direction they’d run, and they set off at a run. When they came upon the crossroads, they knew they were too late. In the dark of the battlefield, they saw signs of a mighty struggle. Blood mixed with the dirt and grass. The body of a duergar, impossibly large, lay across the road, and next to it, they found the lifeless shape of Grak. An unbelievable amount of wounds covered his body, truly he had died fighting, as Kord commands. A smaller duergar lay nearby and the bodies of two twisted fire demons. At the edge of the field they found Onodrim, his body covered in pine and leaves, as Meloras forest mourned her fallen son. Of Magdronan all they found were the parts of him marked for Bahamut. His chestplate, his greaves, his holy symbol, and the longsword given to him by Sir Keegan. These Vimak gathered, saying a prayer to Bahamut that he hoped would still be heard, despite his transgressions. Of John Snow only his cloak and his shield remained, both stained with the blood he had spilled in battle. While darmok collected their comrades belongings into Onodrims’ bag of holding, Vimak constructed a gurney of strong branches, and the sorcerer and the fallen priest set off for the Iron Keep in mourning…..