The Legend of Gethzerian

Session 3
Deeper into the keep

Splug proved to be somewhat helpful to the heroes, if reluctant. He told them the name of Boss Falgron, the goblin leader, and gave a basic layout of the first level, what rooms the goblins used and what they did not. He repeated the phrase “ghosts and bones” over and over, very upset the heroes didn’t seem to grasp its simple meaning. He also informed them that the lower levels were patrolled by Hobgoblins, and that he had never been there because the hobbs were notoriously mean to the regular goblins. Splug promised the heroes more information if he was given his freedom, even offering to serve them if they would release him. However, the notion of a goblin butler did not appeal to the party, so, they decided to leave him in his cell. Some heroes. As Darmok and Grak attempted to scare any last bit of information they could out of the goblin, Onodrim moved towards the door, to prevent an ambush. As the Wilden approached the doorway, he and his companions heard a bloodchilling scream. Anguished and pained, it seemed beyond the range of any of the free folk. Well, any of the living free folk at least. Once his surlier fellows had abandoned the goblin to his fate, the party exited the torture chamber, determined to bring justice to Boss Fatty, leader of the goblins. As they moved into the hallway, strange events began to occur. Onodrim, peering out the door saw the ghosts of a young human girl, perhaps 10, who looked at him angrily before vanishing. As he attempted to explain this phenomenon, Vimak and Grak had visions of the walls around them bleeding. Echoing through the hallways, they once again heard an unnerving scream. Gathering their remaining courage and putting the haunting aside, the heroes stepped through the doorway Splug promised would lead them to Boss Falgron’s chambers. At first glance, the room yielded no goblins, only another section of bloody wall, this time visible to John Snow. No sooner had the vision cleared than the goblins attacked, swarming from behind closed doors and curtains. An initial onslaught was followed quickly by Falgron himself, the overweight goblin charging forth from his chambers, crossbow bolts flying at the intruders. A pitched battle ensued, Fatty’s chosen henchmen protecting him as he fired from cover, their swords and spears matching our heroes armor and shields. However, in the end the goblins could not hold back their larger foes, and were felled one by one. In his dying breaths, Falgron passed on to the heroes the pass-phrase into the second level, “And life fails in the dark”. His body yielded Fatty’s second secret, the key to a treasure chest in his bedchambers, which contained a powerful magic wand, which Darmok quickly claimed. As Vimak and Magdronan moved the now empty, looted chest away from the wall, something strange caught their eyes. They quickly discovered a false panel in the wall, leading to a small dark hallway. Exploring forward, the heroes found themselves at another false door, this in the hallway west of the entrance chamber. They also found themselves face to face with a large message, dripping from the wall across from them in blood. “Daddy’s Angry”, proclaimed the ghostly blood before vanishing. Another scream was heard, echoing back from the way they’d came. As Darmok snuck down the hallway ahead the sounds of hammer and chisel could be heard, along with a low growling and snarling. The Dwarf entered into a large chamber, clearly under excavation. Splug had told the heroes this was where Fatty had the goblins digging for treasures of the keep. Darmok’s luck ran out however, and a goblin watchmen spotted him, throwing an exploding grenade at the sorcerer. His party members ran towards the sound and entered battle. The growling sounds revealed themselves to be a pair of hungry guard drakes, and across the room goblins traded their swords for spears and swords. Once more the battle was pitched, with blows raining down from both sides. As the dust settled, it was clear the goblins had been unsuccesful in their treasure hunt. As the group prepared to leave, Magdronan and Vimak felt a strong pull towards the collapsed wall in the southeast corner, where a few moments of work gave them something the goblins had missed, a holy symbol of battle, marked with the runes of the Platinum Dragon. Back down the hallway, Onodrim was sure he once again saw the ghostly child, but she was gone again before he could alert his fellows. A cavern led off from the hallway to the adventurers left, and the sounds of dripping water could be heard. This formation was a natural rock, not the cut stone of the keep. Inside, the cautious heroes found the freshwater well that had served the keep, and another tunnel that led further into the uncut stone. As the approached they could hear sounds as if something scraped on rock, perhaps bone, perhaps stone. A pit opened in the hall, revealing a goblin trap that suprisingly had worked, catching a small, strange creature upon its spikes. Silvery grey, appearing simulteanously reptillian and insectoid, it was unmistakably the foul beast so beloved by the Turathi empire of old. A Kruthik. As the party examined the remains of the beast, they noticed a grouping of tunnels coming out of the natural rock. Before they could piece two and two together, a swarm of kruthiks of all sizes emerged, jaws snapping and chitin legs scraping across the stone floor. The onslaught nearly felled our heroes, weary from fighting goblins and seeing ghosts, but they summoned their will and fought on, defeating the kruthiks and driving them back to their hive. With no other way out, the heroes returned to the excavation hallway, tired and bruised. This time it was Grak and Darmok who saw the girl, awaiting them at the top of the stairs. She lingered longer than anytime before, but again vanished as they approached. The group made their way into Falgron’s chambers through the secret passage, and after checking the surrounding doors, barracaded themselves in for the night.
As Onodrim’s angelic protector watched over them, the group slept soundly, visions of ghosts and bleeding walls playing through their minds. The night passed without incident, and the heroes awoke to start fresh. Passing back through the secret tunnel, there were no signs of intrusion, it seemed they had been left to slumber unwatched. One unexplored route remained, the back of the entrance lobby. Massive oak doors banded with bronze stood watch, but they were unlocked and creaked open under the slightest of pressure. The walkways beyond were dark, and Snow remembered that this area was the catacombs, where the honored dead of the Nerathi legion were buried. Onodrim cracked a sun-rod, and Darmok a torch as the party entered the chamber. Bronze sconces stood against the walls, interspaced with Sarcophogai depicting proud Nerathi soldiers. Mere feet into the room the group encountered a strange symbol on the floor, too big to walk around, too ominous to risk crossing. Turning back, they found a second and third hallway, both marked the same. Detecting nothing overtly arcane about the sigil, Darmok risked a step across, and a high shriek ripped through the still musty air. Echoing off in the distance, a low moan could be heard, and a sound like padded footsteps. Turning back towards the first symbol, Magdronan led the way, activating a second symbol as he fumbled in the darkness. The hallway opened to a large room with heavy stone doors and the symbol of Bahamut, but before the Dragonborn could investigate, he was accosted by a hand in the dark. Onodrim arrived a second later, his sunrod illuminating the room, revealing that it was filled with zombies. The undead shambled after our heroes, and as John Snow and Grak sought another way out, they too were accosted from the dark. Undead swarmed the hallways, and the shrieks of the alarm symbols gave proof more were coming. Thanking their gods for their recent rest the heroes turned sword and magic against the abominations. Radiant light burst forth from Magdronan, Onodrim and Vimak as they summoned the divine power to sear undead flesh. Bursts of fire flared from the sorcerer’s wand, and the glint reflected off the cold steel of Grak and Snow’s blades as they removed head from shoulders. Eventually, the heroes made their way to the north end of the catacombs, where they found the doorway that led to the lower level locked and heavily chained against their entrance. A shimmer in the wall, this time not of blood, caught Onodrim’s eyes, and he and John Snow pushed against a section of wall, only to pass right through it, momentarily face to face with four zombies. However, the hidden chamber was small, and our heroes forced the zombies back, and soon had them cornered and beheaded. An ancient Nerathi suit of armor lay upon the wall, guarded by a mysterious plaque which spoke to them in riddle. John Snow’s quick wits provided the answer, and the armor shed its rusty appearance and revealed its magical nature. Empty of spells and weak of arm from their zombie battles, the heroes seized this as the perfect location to sleep unseen and garner strength for the battles that lay ahead…..

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Session 2
Irontooth and the Mystery of the Keep

After a restful night at Salvanna’s inn, our heroes awoke with the dawn, preparing themselves for the adventure ahead. After a brief conversation with Douven Stahl, the team set out towards the waterfall. After a few hours journey they arrived at a clearing. The waterfall cascaded down from a tall, sheer rock face. The more perceptive of the group noticed hidden stairs leading to caverns behind the falls. More pressing, however, was the small army of Kobolds standing around the area, including one in an ancient magic circle. Unseen by the Kobolds they group burst forth from the treeline and laid waste to the defenders. The pitched battle ended quickly, and our heroes made their way up the dangerous stairs. Upon reaching the top of the stairs however, it was quickly discovered that the Kobolds outside were but a fraction of the forces Irontooth commanded. A new wave of kobolds assaulted the adventurers, but were turned aside by Onodrim’s divine powers and Darmok’s arcane blasts. Vimak, Grak and Magdronan came next, the strength of their attacks driving back the tiny lizards. However, a battle horn echoed from beyond view, and a new wave of kobolds charged forth, heralds of Irontooth. They matched sword and shield with Magdronan, Vimak, and John Snow. The goblin himself, massively muscled and tattooed in the symbols of Orcus, rushed from his chambers, dual axes swinging. Never one to turn down a challenge, Grak met the goblin head on. However, for each strike Grak landed, Irontooth replied with two. Matched with the goblins own healing abilities, the battle quickly turned against the valiant youth. As Onodrim and Darmok unleashed blasts of divine and arcane power against the kobold skirmish line, the agonizing cry of a half-orc in pain rose from behind them. Both axes dug into Grak’s flesh, felling the barbarian and bringing him within inches of his life. A timely distraction by Onodrim’s spirit companion stalled the killing blow, buying time for Vimak to disengage himself from the warden he dueled, and rush to his comrades side to apply the runes of mending. Kord’s chosen warrior lived once more. Killing blows rained down upon Irontooth, and he screamed with his last breath for Kalarel to prepare his way. Much loot was found in Irontooth’s chambers, along with a finely crafted Dwarven chainmail shirt, which Darmok was awed to see so far from the Dwarven lands. More disturbing, however, was a letter from Kalarel to Irontooth, claiming that not only was he days away from completing his dark rituals, but that he had a spy in Winterhaven! The team was disturbed by this development, and split on how to handle this news. Deciding that the only person in the town they could trust entirely was Stahl, they left half their team beyond the gates, while Snow, Darmok, and (Vimak or Magdronan??) went to the wizard’s tower to seek their mentor. Douven’s fears at only seeing three were quickly put to rest as they explained the battle and the letter. Commending them for their work, though questioning of their split the party mentality, Stahl ran through the list of the villages prominent citizens, stating his trust for Sister Linora, Elian, Lord Padraig and Captain Kelfern. He also stated that he had been working with Valthruun all day, decoding the mysteries of the mirror of Scarvoss. Darmok and his fellows, however, remained untrustworthy of Valthruun, Ninaran, Colby, Delphina, and well, essentially everyone else. Stahl also informed them that Lord Padraig was hosting a dinner in their honor this evening, and that all of the town’s more important citizenry would be in attendance. If there was a traitor in their midst, perhaps this was the opportunity to reveal them. A slip of the lip or odd reaction to the news might yield a lead to their identity. Snow retrieved the rest of the party from their hiding spot in the woods, and they cleaned themselves up, to make fit their appearance before appearing in the manor-house of the villages Lord and Lady.
At the appointed hour they arrived at Padraig Manor, the largest home in Winterhaven by no small margin. Greeted by Captain Kelfern and Lady Padraig, they were ushered to an opulent dining room with a large table, around which sat the village elders, and Douven Stahl. Lord and Lady Padraig sat at the tables head, with Ernest the younger and Sister Linora besides them. Eilian the old greeted the adventurers with the story of a strange dream he’d had, a dream filled with dark portents before taking his seat with Salvanna, Valthruun, Delphina, and Thair. Lord Padraig congratulated and thanked the heroes for stopping the Kobold menace, but his joy was tempered by the knowledge there was more still to be done. Valthruun and Douven explained the mysteries of the Mirror and the ancient Keep to the assembled group. Ernest V, heir to Winterhaven, remembered a child’s poem, meant to scare local kids from the keep, and recited it, eliciting praise from Valthruun, who then produced the full version, a prophecy from the ancient Nerathi seer known as the Felish Oracle. The phrophecy spoke of a cursed defender, believed to be the Paladin Sir Keegan, betraying his fellows, and the survivor of a doomed line seeking revenge. A search of the Nerathi archives kept by Lord Padraig’s ancestors turned up a suprising truth. Keegan’s second in command, Sir Thane, was a descendant of Vardian Hathera, the greatest traitor in Nerath’s history. His family line, however, could not be traced beyond the tragic events a hundred years past. The heroes decided to reveal the note found in Irontooth’s lair to the assembled crowd, drawing indignation and anger from Lord Padraig, and an air of disbelief from the others. If a traitor was in the room, he/she/it was quite adept at hiding their true feelings. Lord Padraig asked the heroes of Winterhaven for another favor, knowing he’d already asked much of them. “Go to the Keep. Stop Kalarel, and bring peace to our village,” he asked. Knowing in their hearts it was the right thing to do, all six agreed to undertake the dangerous mission.
The next morning, refreshed from an evening of sleep at Salvanna’s, the group made their way to the old Keep, with Rond Kelfern and Delphina guiding them the first half of the way. Seemingly the entire village assembled at the gate to watch them leave, cheering their new heroes. Halfway to the keep Delphina and Rond turned back, and the six approached the keep in silence. Silence not only from themselves, but from the woods around, unnaturally quiet. Cold winds blew from the ruined Keep as they approached, and dark, unseen eyes watched their every step. Descending down Dwarven cut stones, a light flickered from the landing below, eventually revealing an open room. A goblin stood at the bottom of the stairs, unlucky to be the assigned guard when adventurers arrived. Grak rushed forward to meet him in battle but suddenly found the floor below him missing as he fell into a carefully concealed pit trap, where a gaggle of rats began swarming over the half-orc. His teammates avoided the trap, and engaged the goblin, as well as several other guards who joined him, handily defeating the first wave of defenders. Having several passageways to choose from, the team turned west, then north again, before coming upon another intersection of doors. Hearing screams behind one, the team burst through, encountering a hobgoblin torturer and his goblin minions. Once again, handily dispatching their enemies, the team turned the hobgoblin’s own Iron Maiden against him, with John Snow slamming the torture device shut. However, a curious prisoner was found in the cell. A goblin named Splug, claiming he was locked up for suspicion of cheating at cards, begged the heroes to release him, offering anything to be let out

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Journey to Winterhaven
Our band of would be heroes sets out on the road towards their destiny

After recieving Juli’s letter, the team returned to Harken, joining her at her home just after evening meal. Juli began explaining to them her worries for Douven when Baron Stockmer and Marla, Priestess of the Great Church of Pelor arrived, also at Juli’s invite. Stockmer gave the heroes his blessing to leave Harkenwold. Marla asked that they be on the alert for Death Cult activity near Winterhaven, as it was one of a few towns where she had no influence. With the Priestess’ and Baron’s blessing along with Juli’s pleas, the group could not resist, and set along the old King’s Road in search of Douven Stahl.

Four days travel brought them across Nentir Vale. On the fourth day, as they left the western reaches of the Gardbury Downs, tracks in the mud caught Onodrim’s eye. However, the tracks were spotted too late to notice the Kobold’s who had left them, and the small lizards quickly attacked the team. Several swordsmen rushed the group while a slinger laid in the back, launching fire and glue pots at the allies. The Kobolds, however, had bitten off more than they could chew in this group. Under John Snow’s battlefield leadership, the blades of Magdronan, Vimak, and Grak struck true, cleaving Kobold flesh from bone while the divine and arcane castings of Onodrim and Darmok rained down upon the attackers. Soon, all were defeated and the group arrived at the gates of Winterhaven. It was not, however, the kobold blood that suprised the town guardsmen Colby, as it was the fact that anyone had arrived at Winterhaven at all. Colby, in his shock at the first visitors in months, directed the travelers to Salvanna Wrafton’s inn and ran to fetch his Captain, Rond Kelfern.

Salvanna’s inn was bustling (and Salvanna herself busty) as the travelers entered. The patrons all turned immediately in shock. No outsider had been to the village in longer than they could remember. The heroes were quickly introduced to Salvanna, Delphina Moongem, Valthruun the Prescient, Thair Coalstriker, and Elian the Old. Eilian was Douven’s contact, according to Juli, and the old man indeed remembered Douven. However, everyone in town was under the impression that Stahl had left months ago. All appeared genuinely worried by his disapearance. An oddity in the bar was Ninaran, a young half-elf female who sat by herself in a corner. She rebuffed attempts at conversation from Onodrim and Darmok in turn, and Thair told them they’d get little from her. At this moment Ernest Padraig, Lord of Winterhaven and Captain Rond Kelfern, head of the Winterhaven Regulars arrived in the tavern. Both were genuinely pleased to see the group, and happier still that they had killed Kobolds on their way in. Padraig asked the group to assist in eliminating the remainder of the Kobolds, explaing that they had for all intents and purposes blockaded the town for the better part of six months. The group was weary at first, desperate to find their mentor, but promised to look into it after. They then visited the temple of Avandra, domain of Sister Linora and the “magic” shop of Bairdain Wildarson, a local halfling merchant. Sadly, neither visit yielded further results, and the group returned to Salvanna’s. Remembering another facet of their journey, John Snow asked the assembled group if there had been any cultist activity. Most thought this a strange question to ask in a town blockaded by Kobolds for six months, but then suddenly Ninaran jumped from her booth screaming that the entire town was in league with the cultists. She ran from the Inn and was gone before our ale-slowed heroes could respond. Captain Kelfern promised to send Colby to speak with Ninaran the next morning to try and sort out the incident, and our heroes retired to rest.

The next morning the team set out to follow Eilain’s map to the dragon burial sight where Douven had been working. However, they had not made it more than ten minutes from Winterhaven when a Kobold Wyrmpriest leaped into their path and began chanting curses in Draconic. His comrades soon lept from the woods besides him and rushed forth into battle with their larger enemies. The Wyrmpriest’s magic augmented the Dragonshields quick stabbing attacks, and the kobolds darted below the reach of the groups taller members. Grak caught several blasts of energy from the priest’s staff and fell to the ground unconscious. Luckily, Onodrim was able to summon a divine wind from the astral sea, felling the priest and buying time for Vimak to apply his healing runes. Snow and Magrdonan stood toe to toe with the swordsmen while Darmok turned his arcane blasts against the skirmishers they defended. As before, the Kobolds were defeated and the team began its trek south through the woods.

Arriving at the burial site, the team saw several humans working amongst the grounds, as well as a gnome, a halfling, two drakes, and what upon furhter inspection appeared to be a specter, keeping watch. The gnome seemed friendly at first, insisting he was working with Stahl on the excavation. Magdronan and Grak were drawn in, despite John Snow’s words of caution. As Grak neared the center of the pit, the specter screamed to the gnome to eliminate them, and the halfling struck with his sling. The battle was joined, and Magdronan found himself surrounded by the human rabble. A mighty blast of his dragon breath felled two of them, and his scimitar the rest. Vimak and Onodrim found themselves facing down two large, hungry drakes, but the summoning of a Spirit Companion and an Angel of Protection turned the tide. Grak and Darmok defeated the gnome before climbing the wall of the dig to surround the halfling, who’s quickness and luck lasted longer than anticipated before he was finally felled. Upon further search, a canopy on the wall hid Douven Stahl, bound and gagged, as well as mirror, which Stahl explained belonged to Scarvoss, the Dragon buried here. The mirror, he said, was a powerful artifact that was capable of aiding in rituals to open gates to the Shadowfell. The spectral figure was identified as Kalarel, a priest of Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath. The kobolds it seemed, were under his employ to barricade Winterhaven. Stahl had been their prisoner for months, dragged between the burial site and the Kobold’s lair, which he thought to be near to a waterfall. Stahl was relieved to see his former students, though he jokingly chided them for saving him first. Together, they returned to Winterhaven, their objective achieved, but their adventure far from over.

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Juli's Letter
An invitation from an old friend

My dear friends Vimak, John, Onodrim, Grak, Darmok, and Magdronan,

There is a matter of great importance which I must speak with you about. Please come to the home Douven and I have built in Harken tonight, just after sunset. I look forward to seeing you then. Sehanine bless you all.

Sincerely,
Juli Stahl

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Player's History
What you know about Nentir Vale

Nentir, a rural world dotted with points of light, those few places where civilation and good shine through the darkness and peril that overtakes much of the world.

The Primordials created the Elemental Chaos, and from it were born the Gods and Goddesses, their power near to that of the Primordials. Worlds were created and destroyed at will, until one shining jewel caught the eyes of the Gods. They saw fit to fill it with life, and set it into permanence. For a time, the Primordials did as well, until they grew bored and sought to move on. The Deities, however, did not wish to see this world destroyed. They had filled it, given it two distinct echo worlds, and grown accustomed to the system of order. A devastating war ensued. The gods battled the primordials for control, in this way scarring the face of the very world they sought to preserve. There were losses on both sides. Finally, when Nentir could take no more, the world birthed the Primal Spirits, a voice and presence for the world itself. These spirits begged both sides to cease their conflict, to leave Nentir be free of their destruction. The Deities paused at this, and seeing the damage they had wrought, immediately agreed. But the Primordials just laughed. Joining together, the Deities and the Primal spirits pursued the Primordials to the ends of the Elemental Chaos, and bound them where they could no longer interfere. The Gods honored their promise to the Primal spirits, vowing to never again directly interfere in the world. Not all of the Deities believed in good, however, and only obey their promise as it serves their own interests.

With the Dawn War ended, the races of Nentir were free. Though the Gods still influenced their lives through worship and religion, the peoples of the world controlled their destinies. Empires rose and fell. The Dragonborn created Arkhosia, and the humans Bael Turath. Greedy for power, these humans struck a deal with Asmodeus and became the Tieflings. War broke out between the two powers, and over the decades they destroyed each other. Then, in the south, a 15 year old human named Magroth slew a mighty dragon and founded his kingdom in the Dragon’s lands. Nerath was born, and for generations and generations the Empire covered the lands of Nentir, eclipsing both Arkhosia and Turath. But eventually the bloodline of Magroth faded, and the Empire was weakened by invasion. First, the Bloodspear Orcs cut the northern half of the Empire away from the capital regions and the crown-city of Nera. Then, a demon-led infestation of Gnolls surrounded the remaining territories and slowly bled Nerath to death. The remaining border towns became independent baronies and lordships, and the southern regions became the home of the Gnolls. But the Flame-Imperishable, the symbol of Nerath could never be extinguished and burns even today in defiance of it’s cities occupiers.

Nearly 100 years after Nera’s fall, a group of heroes responded to the distress of Fallcrest, a city in Nentir Vale, the central region of the continent. Led by Valna the Bold, a descendant of Nerath, they slew the viscious green Dragon Gethzerian, who sought to terrorize the Vale.

150 years after the raids on Fallcrest, six adventurers find themselves in the the Baronies of Harkenwold. There, they were seen by the retired adventurer Douven Stahl, who recognized their potentials and introduced them to each other, and trained them into a band of would-be heroes, lacking only the requisite adventures and villains to prove themselves. After a year together, Stahl declared their training over, and set out on his own for an archaelogical dig near Winterhaven in the north of the Vale. Now, he is many months overdue on his return, and his wife has asked his students to seek their former teacher and return him to her safely.

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