August 4, 2008

Keep on the Shadowfell, Part 4

When last we left our party, they had just vanquished the powerful goblin Irontooth. After rummaging through his belongings and the treasure there in the cave, those who were present decided to return to Winterhaven. Once again, the party arrived just before the gates were closed at nightfall.

The next day, reunited with Digron (who'd spent the previous day with Sister Linora, alternately aiding the townsfolk and debating the finer points of Avandra vs. Pelor), they sought and were granted an audience with Lord Padraig. Shocked to hear the news from the note but otherwise glad to be rid of the immediate menace, Padraig bid them keep this new information to themselves. On the way out, the party took their meager reward from the village's coffers.

Then, our heroes found ourselves wondering where to go next. Remembering their unfinished business regarding the mirror with Valthrun, they decided to pay the sage a visit. They found him still fumbling through his many books, but with progress to report – during the reign of the Nerath empire, a keep had been built to seal in a rift to a particularly nasty part of the Shadowfell, an area ruled over by Orcus, demon lord of the undead. After correlating this information with the note they found on Irontooth, the party suspected that this is the site of Kalarel's nefarious work. Valthrun also told them of the last lord of the keep, Sir Keegan, who (under the rift's influence, perhaps) had systematically slaughtered every inhabitant including his own wife and children.

They decided to go search the keep soon, but not so soon that they couldn't get in a little bit of shopping. In the hopes of finding a way to stop the rift from being open Raistlin decided to stay with Valthrun – he might make an important discovery, but either way he can study some of the old man's rituals.

The shop of the boisterous Bairwin Wildarson was the party's destination, as they remembered that during their first night the man had mentioned selling healing potions. Though dubious as to their veracity (the supposed ex-adventurer claimed to not know where exactly he got them), the party purchased 4 of them and decided to make the best of whatever they turned out to be.

The journey to the keep itself was uneventful. Well, what was left of the keep anyways, as everything above ground had been ravaged by the storms of time and, quite possibly, the efforts of thieves and borrowers. The party did find a way into the keep's underground area, however. Whether through the grace of Pelor or keen eyesight, Digron proved that wisdom can be just as good as intelligence sometimes when he saw and told the party of the pit trap directly in front of them.

Through similarly blessed efforts, the party made particularly quick work of the goblins who were on guard at this entrance. Cassandra, in particular, made quick work of one of her opposite number with an arrow splitting the wretched thing's head down the middle as she dashed around the pillars trying to stay undercover. One of the snipers managed to escape down the hallway though and the party followed.

They found nothing but a trio of locked doors. To the West, nothing but a storeroom – to the shame of the brute force required to open the door. Taking the door to the North however, the party hit the jackpot as who should stand before them but the injured sniper. He was no longer alone, however, and the room they just entered appeared to be a torture chamber of sorts.

Balasar charged into the room letting loose his lightning breath, killing the already wounded sniper, leapt over a table and pushed the torturer into his own fire pit. Not one to be daunted by this, the torturer struck back with hot pokers from that very same pit, lighting Balasar on fire. For a brief period, the goblin did something with his armor that appeared to make himself impervious. Digron and Levcis pursued several other goblins around the room, while Cassandra and Sil shot arrow and bolt after the fleeing figures. Despite the fact that it essentially trapped them, several of the goblins took to hiding under the tables and launching attacks from that advantageous position.

In the corner of the room, one lone sniper succeeded in trapping Balasar, inciting his Dragonborn Fury, despite its futility. Not able to free himself, the fighter allowed the others to clean up the rabble while shooting the occasional pellet from his sling to aid them.

Having cleared the room and beginning to take stock of what was around them, the party heard a voice down the short hallway to the west. It turned out to be Splug, a goblin who had been locked up by his fellows – he liked to cheat at cards – after much begging, the party decided to allow him to accompany them. He may lie, but he wasn't lying about his offer of aid as he desperately wanted his freedom.