Our heroes awoke in the secret room wherein they’d fallen asleep, awash in darkness. Cracking sunrods, the party set to work double checking their surroundings. As soon as Grak determined that the light from their source had not leaked beyond the inner sanctum wall, Vimak and Onodrim poked their heads out, only come nearly face to face with the ghostly girl. Both leaped back scared, and it was a few moments before Vimak had the courage to step outside again. This time, the girl was gone, and he explored out beyond the outer secret wall. The rest of the party followed, examining the doorway into the lower level. Its stout lock appeared to be joined to chains managed from the inner side of the wall, and the lock was beyond the limited lock-pick abilities of such noble heroes, and Darmok. Returning to the other unexplored door, which the religious members of the group believed to be a temple or crypt, the party once again encountered the phantom child, this time she intoned the warning “Daddy’s this way” before appearing to be yanked backwards through the door.
Nervously, Onodrim and John Snow pushed open the ornate doors, finding light inside glowing by ever-burning torches. Sarcophogai lined the walls here, leading to another far door. These were a much fancier sort, decorated uniquely to the soldiers inside, and marked with ancient Draconic runes, of a sort Magdronan indicated pre-dated even Mighty Arkhosia. As soon as Snow and Grak stepped past the first set of sarcophogai a loud series of bangs occured, and skeletons stepped from within, armored and wielding swords and bows. They swarmed through the heroes, more and more emerging from within every few minutes. Magdronan and Vimak felt a strong pull towards the far end of the chamber, but were unable to make their way through the initial onslaught. As the fight progressed, Onodrim noticed that the doors they had entered from had been drawn close, and once more the ghostly child stood before him, this time drawing down through the floor as she vanished, spooking the Wilden. As their spells, swords, axes, and divine power broke sinew from bone, Magdronan was finally able to make his way through, unleashing the might of his Dragonbreath. The sight that greated him was an ornate overhead mosaic of Bahamut, the mighty Platinum Dragon. Two altars stood beside the walls, and Magdronan felt the pull of his lord. He kneeled before the altar, reciting the words of prayer inscribed upon the stone. As he finished his recitation, he felt a mighty wash of divine power flood over him, and the skeletons lowered their weapons and returned to their crypts. Magrdonan also pulled six small dragon statues, relics of Bahamut’s worship from the altar, feeling a sense of connection to them.
They found the door before them even more ornate through which they entered, and upon sliding them open revealed a small chamber, dominated by an elevated sarcophogai set upon the floor of the far side. A skeleton lay behind it, dressed in the armor of a Nerathi soldier. As Magdronan and Vimak investigated the tomb, the lid flew open and an armored skeleton emerged. His armor marked him as a worshipper of Bahamut, as well as a member of the Nerathi legion, and as he challenged our heroes, he revealed himself to be Sir Keegan, last guardian of the Keep.
Keegan viewed the heroes suspiciously at first, questioning each in his own way, a test of their worthiness. He finally agreed to share with them his story, and told of Thane Hathera’s betrayal, and the sacrifice of Elan, his former page, and currently the skeleton behind his tomb. Hathera’s betrayal shed light upon the “cursed line” of the Prophecy. Keegan asked the heroes to do honor to Elan’s remains, as he could not. Keegan then granted unto Magdronan, whom his questioning had revealed held a dark secret in his past, his longsword. Named “Aecris”, this sword was a gift to Keegan from Elidyr, last Emperor of Nerath. Much like the Dragonborn, the sword had much potential for good, but was cursed with a dark past. As he bid the heroes onward, he appeared to see something through the stone. “Someone approaches, your help is needed.” Rushing out of the tomb our heroes heard the unmistakable sound of a Zombie caller rune being triggered, and saw the young Padraig rushing towards them. “Help, please! Winterhaven’s dead are rising against us. We need you in the graveyard!”
Seeing no other choice, the heroes left with Padraig, rushing back towards town. As they passed the gates they saw Rond Kelfern dealing with two skeletal enemies. “I’ve got these, there are more rising in the graveyard!” Captain Kelfern screamed as his entire city guard swarmed the undead. Young Padraig ran to join them as well. Approaching the graveyard, our heroes saw nearly a dozen skeletons rising from the graves of Winterhaven, as well as two zombified hounds. Another foe hid in a crypt, peppering the heroes with arrows. As a well placed strike from Darmok blew the doors from the crypt, it was revealed that the archer was none other than Ninaran. She cursed the interlopers before continuuing her assault. A massive zombie ogre charged forth as well, and even when it was first felled, dark necromancy brought it back to life. Finally, the heroes were able to rid the graveyard of these dark abominations, and a final blow from Grak removed Ninaran’s traitorous head from her shoulders. A tattered parchment fell from her person as she died, revealing a note from Kalarel and instructions as to how to raise the dead army they’d just defeated. As the battle ended Lord Padraig rode to the cemetery, Douven Stahl, young Padraig, and Captain Kelfern at his side. His face turned to pure disgust at the sight of the abominations, but then twisted to rage as he laid eyes upon Ninaran’s body. Furious at a traitor in his own town, Lord Padraig asked the heroes to leave no stone unturned, no enemy alive (or undead) in the Keep. He marched off with his son, leaving the heroes a moment alone with Douven Stahl.
Stahl revealed to the heroes that he had finally succeeded in destroying the Mirror of Scarvoss, and that right before its destruction, it had revealed to him a glimpse of the dark portal below the keep.He also believed that something or someone had already come through the portal, possibly without Kalarel’s knowledge. Then he revealed to the heroes that he was returning to Harkenwold and his wife. He would send word to Hammerfast for Dwarven stone-masons to seal the Keep once more. Colby of the Guard had volunteered to see him to Fallcrest, and he would be able to find an escort from there home. Despite his friend’s fears, he assured them that when they took wives of their own, they would understand.
After a quick but fulfilling night’s rest at Salvanna’s the heroes quickly departed for the Keep. Borrowed horses took them more than halfway, before fear overcame the animals. Captain Kelfern wished them luck and led the horses back to the village. As the heroes approached the keep, they saw the head of a goblin mounted on a spike outside the door. It was Splug. Poor Splug, whom our gallant “heroes” had abandoned inside his cell, was dead. Ignoring the obvious warning, the team descended the stairs and methodically searched each room of the first level. Finding nothing, not even the dead girl, the group progressed back to the Zombie room. There they found a group of Hobgoblins, seemingly killed by the Zombies. Luckily, one of them wore a massive iron key ring upon his belt, and the team snatched it up, using the key to open the locked door to the second level of the keep. As they descended none too quietly, the team faced a quandry. Which passcode was correct? Boss Fatty’s “from the ground some magic was found” or Ninaran’s “And light fails in the dark”? Ninarans certainly had been hand written by Kalarel himself, but Fatty’s was a confession at sword-point. Trusting the traitor over the Goblin, the team gave Ninaran’s phrase when challenged at the bottom of the stairs. They were admitted into the first room, filled with Hobgoblins, only to be attacked instantly. The Goblin had given the correct phrase after all. A pitched battle ensued, ending with one enemy fleeing and another being drowned at the bottom of a well. Our heroes collected themselves and set out after the runaway hobgoblin, feeling magically stronger for it…….