Just the Tip

Episode 12
Necromancers and Werewolves

Having found the secret door, Daemon Kaaw stepped forward and attempted to break the magical wards that kept it locked. He was able to break through several wards before he misspoke an incantation and the doors wards struck out at him with necrotic energy. Again he tried and again he felt the energy drink away some of his life force. Finally, on his third attempt, Daemon was able to open the doors and reveal the hidden crypt. Visible in the gloom was a large stone sarcophagus, possibly belonging to a long dead noble. Smaller coffins were located in niches along the walls, likely lesser family members of the noble. The crypt was illuminated by two torches of eerie blue flame. In the flickering light the group can just make out a hunched figure working at an altar covered in bones, bits of flesh, and unidentifiable filth. The figure wears a gore-spattered robe, his long beard is matted with blood, and he appears to be a Tiefling from his long curled horns.

The group debates in whispers how to proceed, indicating that the Tiefling does not look like someone to start a conversation with. Ky’Vruck steps forward and looses a magic arrow, only to have it miss and the figure turns towards the group. “Who…who dares disturb Melech…Melech Darksoul? Are you from the Fell Court? I’ve told you before, I have no interest in Devils, my work is Death…Death and re-animation! I shall kill you and send you back to your masters as corpses…Corpses a-risen!” With that he unleashes a chilling blast of necrotic energy, hitting the most of the group, many who have rushed forward to attack. The entire time he is muttering incantations under his breath, and it is Quinn Quernes who first feels as if someone has taken over his body and forced him to retreat away from the necromancer. As Paul of Quar finally gets close to the Tiefling, two charnel zombies burst from the coffins beside him, keeping him from getting any closer. From the altar that the necromancer was working at rises a corruption corpse, recently reanimated by the Melech Darksoul, which beings to throw its filth at the adventurers. While Thorn attempts to help Paul of Quar, Quinn Quernes again charges towards the necromancer, only to feel the strings of an infernal puppet master pull him away. Beltumal Silverclaw and Ky’Vruck are able to stay out of the range of Melech’s attacks, picking off the corruption corpse and keeping Melech somewhat at bay. Quinn is eventually able to get in close, while Thorn is able to rescue an unconscious Paul of Quar from the charnel zombies, pushing them away so that their dying grasps don’t hurt the already shaken cleric.

As his allies fall and he is surrounded by the adventurers, Melech Darksoul pleads for his life, saying he will show the group a hidden treasure if they spare him. There is a quick debate, but nothing unifies Just The Tip like the talk of treasure, and it is soon agreed to spare the necromancer. Melech removes a pair of fire-gauntlets and hands them to Daemon Kaaw, then move to where the treasure is hidden. Beneath the large stone sarcophagi, Melech unveils a significant treasure, including a casque-of-tactics, which is eagerly claimed by Grok Thornsteed. While the group is distracted by their haul, Melech Darksoul slips away, it is unclear whether this will come back to haunt Just The Tip.

A thorough search of the crypt also unveils a coffin belonging to a Paladin of Pelor, who wears a symbol-of-the-sun. Paul of Quar, already feeling somewhat tainted from taking a shield from the dead earlier, figures it can’t be any worse to take the holy symbol as well.

With their new found loot, the adventurer’s return and inform the Lord Warden they have completed the task of cleaning out the Tombwood, though they figure mentioning they let Melech go is probably not a good idea.

They proceed to do some resupplying, and after Thorn buys some claw-gloves, they proceed to Grifnar’s Arms. Hoping to negotiate a good price on equipment, they ask if he has anything he needs doing in trade for goods. Grifnar, usually a fairly tight-fisted businessman, actually jumps at the chance to give the group a quest worth 5000g. All they need to do is escort his nephew along the Trade Road as far as Silvergrail. Realizing this offer sounds too good to be true, the group pushes for more information, and eventually learns that the stretch of road between Fallcrest and Silvergrail has been severely troubled by werewolves of late, so much so that Grifnar has had to put of his regular trade runs to Hammerfast. He is running low on goods because he doesn’t have the necessary raw materials that he gets from his cousins in the Dawnforge Mountains. The group feels that the benefits of a large credit with Grifnar make the danger of the trip acceptable and agree to leave with the caravan the next morning. Paul of Quar buys a raiders-crossbow as well as silver tipped bolts in preparation for any lychanthropy they might encounter.

The journey to Silvergrail is actually surprisingly quiet, it is only once they arrive that they learn from town sheriff Zirka Havenstone of the problems besetting the town. The brother of the town’s priest has returned as a werewolf, and he has been terrorizing the countryside and killing townsfolk in an effort to force his brother to willingly join him and become a werewolf. Zelgar Lightborn is a Cleric of Pelor and Erathis who is well liked by the townspeople of Silvergrail, they have been doing what they can to assist him against his brother Ulmar Lightborn. Yet people continue to go missing and it seems that Ulmar has spies in town, making it difficult for anyone to deal with the problem. Zirka would like to put Ulmar down for good, but Zelgar has convinced her to let him try and do a Remove Affliction ritual on his brother, but to do this he will need help. Just The Tip is recruited to corner and subdue Ulmar, but first they will have to get through the night.

Deputized into the Silvergrail Guard, the group patrol the city streets to make sure none of Ulmar’s spies are at work, or worse, Ulmar himself is in the town. Yet before they can find anything Zelgar comes running with two guardsmen, he’s had a strikingly real dream of Ulmar eviscerating the adventurers and he had to make sure it wasn’t actually happening. As the group tries to convince Zelgar to return to the safety of his room, Ky’Vruck hears something moving on the rooftops and then a woman bursts from a nearby alley, claiming to have been attacked. Zelgar recognizes the woman as Clarissa Myles, whose house is nearby, Paul of Quar moves forward to investigate. As he presses a crossbow bolt head against her flesh, she writhes in pain and strikes out at him with a clawed hand. Paul of Quar is knocked back, and from several directions appear a mix of werewolves, dire wolves, and moon crazed townsfolk. A pitched battle ensues, with Paul of Quar stuck in the middle and the other members of the group trying to save him. The fight rages, but Just The Tip is eventually triumphant, thanks in a large part to Zelgar’s surprisingly good combat skills.

While the group is able to take one of the moon crazed townsfolk prisoner, they kill both the werewolves. Discussing their next move after the battle, Zirka arrives and suggests that maybe they should question the prisoner, and Zelgar says that he has a Speak with the Dead ritual that may allow them to question one of the werewolves.

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Episode 11
Mooncliff Tombs

Having bested the Flameskull and his minions at the tomb entrance, the group plunges into the darkness in search of adventure and treasure. They find themselves in a very old crypt that winds down into the cliffside. From the sarcophagi they can see, it appears to be a burial place for an order of Knights and Clerics of Pelor. Out of the gloom several hovering balls of dust approach, these tomb motes attack with razor sharp teeth, but are quickly cut down by the group. As the sarcophagi are opened, more of these tomb motes attack, but are dispatched with ease. Inside one sarcophagi, the only one which has a body inside, the adventurers find a Healer’s Shield which is given to Paul of Quar.

Down the stairs the group sees flickering torchlight which they follow, finding themselves in a larger crypt. From down one long corridor, two skeletal archers burst from coffins, raining arrows down on the group. Pushing forward, Thorn and Quinn Quernes are ambushed by two grave hunger zombies that have lain in wait. While fighting the grabs that they find themselves in, the rest of the group moves forward to assist them. From up another staircase, two dread zombies emerge with a boneshard skeleton. The battle rages, but the heroes are able to prevail. Again the coffins in this area all seem to be mysteriously empty, but they do find a Lunia’s Bracelet which is given to Ky’Vruck.

As the group descends down the staircase the undead appeared from, they see flickering green flame in the darkened room, as they approach they realize that its two flameskulls waiting for them. The skulls attack, hitting the majority of the group hard, and then zombies emerge from the gloom. The group presses forward, eager to close on the flameskulls and avoid their burst attacks. The group quickly cuts down the zombies, but are surprised by chillborn zombies that spring from nearby coffins. The chillborns’ aura of cold makes bypassing them difficult. The group takes significant damage but is able to get to the flameskulls in the end and defeat them. Searching the empty coffins reveals a pair of Bracers of Escape, which are claimed by Thorn. A thorough search of the room by Ky turns up a secret door, which has what appear to be magical runes etched into its frame.

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Episode 10
Winterhaven Round-Up, Back to Fallcrest

The adventurers return to Winterhaven, where the villagers are overjoyed to hear the threat of the death cultists has been overcome. Lord Padraig thanks the group, informing him that he will contact the southern cities about bringing a garrison north to rebuild the Shadowfell Keep, to make sure this never happens again. Lord Padraig also informs the group that a Paladin of Bahamut recently passed through town looking for a group of adventurers to accompany him to Gardmore Abbey. While he didn’t have anyone to recommend at the time, Lord Padraig will try and contact the paladin and refer them to Just the Tip. The paladin continued on to Fallcrest and might be tracked down there.

After selling off their excess gear, the group is feted by the townsfolk before being set on their way to Fallcrest. Their journey is uneventful, and upon arriving in Fallcrest, they learn that the Cross City Race will be taking place in 7 days. The group eagerly begins to gather information about the race, learning from various sources the other racers who will be competing. Currently registered are: Dorian Light-Step, Gareth Cooper, Two-Teeth, Gazunda, and Tom Burgher. Another group of racers, the adventuring group Tam’s Talons has won the previous two years, but as of yet has not arrived in town.

The group attempts to get information on the route, and learns from Barstromun Strongbeard that Two-Teeth will be taking the Quay-side route, and a group of porters will have a rope down the cliff face that they will use to haul him up. They also learn that Gareth Cooper is a city guardsman, and will be trying to take the City Wall route. They also contacted Melech Ambrose who is taking bets on the race, they learned little from him other than the odds on the racers (though Paul of Quar did place a 4:1 bet on Gareth Cooper).

Feeling the need for action, the group decided to clear the Tombwood of undead, a task the Lord Warden and his Captain of the Guard were very happy they accepted. Upon entering the wood, they found the cliff side caves were guarded by skeletons, who were easily taken care of, but it brought the attention of a Flameskull and more skeletons. After a much more difficult battle, the group was able to defeat the Flameskull and explore the tomb it appeared from.

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Episode 9
The Cult of Orcus, and Daemon's Terrible Odyssey

As a group, it was decided that they should try to extinguish the evil residing in this dungeon while they were well rested and prepared.

Sneaking forward to enter a hallway which branches into 3 different doorways, the group attempted to learn as much about their enemy as possible. They explore the right wing first, discovering a room in disrepair, with broken walls which reveal the main chamber that the central doors would lead into. They find priests changing, and what looks like streams of blood flowing on the floor.

They decide to explore the other wing, to gain more knowledge of the surrounding area to better prepare themselves for the coming battle. As they stealthily move down the hall, they spy 2 vampires in what appears to be the main corridor to the chamber. Deciding its best to start off their attack while they have the element of surprise, the group charges forward.

They quickly dispatch the 2 vampires, but the rest of the enemies in the chamber, including the cultists, move toward them. Entering the larger chamber, they see a large mosaic of the evil Demon-Prince Orcus on the ground, his mouth a gaping hole where streams of blood poor to the floor below. Through prolonged battle, and multiple attempted ambushes, the group prevails and finds themselves in the middle of the chamber amongst their enemies’ corpses.

They decide to rest and search the bodies. However, before they can even begin this, Thorn kicks a dead foe down the hole, perhaps out of boredom, and flies down after it. Ky screams for Thorn to stop, but as he reaches the floor below, an echo of chanting suddenly halts, and he is left blinded in the dark, since he was not fully healed from the previous encounter, and his eye-sight was affected from an enemy’s attack. The group cannot see anything below, but whoever is down there has become clearly aware of their presence.

The rest of the group quickly moves to follow, Paul, Grok, and Beltumal are the first to reach below. Paul and Beltumal feel their holy items warmly glow once they reach the ground, and feel a sense of protection surrounding them. Once Beltumal is aware of this, he yells up to the rest of the group to each grab a platinum silver dragon statue they found earlier from the temple, as they should offer some protection against these forces.

As the rest of the group lowers themselves to the ground, they see that a ritual was underway, and a huge portal on the East side of the chamber was emitting a dark, sinister energy, a portal in which something huge was attempting to escape.

Skeletons were advancing on the group, and despite destroying many upon first contact, they seem to rise up completely intact. A reaper is the culprit for raising the skeletons, and a huge skeleton champion is intent on flattening the party. Grok has been pulled towards the portal several times during the encounter, a giant shadow claw grasping out to try and pull him within the portal.

The chief Orcus cultist reveals himself as Kalarel, and enters the fray to dispose of the party. Daemon attempts a bold move to try and dispose of Kalarel as quickly as possible, but inadvertently draws the attention of whatever creature resides behind the portal. Without warning, Daemon is pulled right into the portal and disappears. Kalarel laughs with delight and continues to fight.

Daemon’s companions are shocked, and fight with renewed fervor to destroy the enemies and discover a way to save their comrade. When they finally come to the point of dealing a killing blow to Kalarel, he beckons the power of Orcus to save him. A shadow hand stretches out from the portal, grabs Kalarel, and pulls him into the shadow realm, his laugh echoing around the chamber as he leaves.

The group rests for a moment, discussing their options, and what might be done to rescue Daemon. They search the room, looking for anything that might help them bring Daemon back, and close the gate. They discover the book Kalarel was reading from to summon Orcus, but it does not state how to close the portal, or how to bring someone who went through it, back into their world.

Beltumal wonders if the platinum dragon idols they hold might serve as a link between them and Daemon, since he has the sixth idol on his person. They attempt praying to Bahamut, but with no answer, and Thorn’s inquiry about the temple to Bahamut from earlier, Beltumal suggests they travel to the temple to seek aid, perhaps even to ask Sir Keegan what might be done.

Once in the temple, the group beckons that Sir Keegan help them retrieve their friend. Sir Keegan, seeing their need for his help, agrees, as anyone who travels into that realm will surely die. He bravely goes through to rescue their friend, taking back the sword Aecris; (currently missing) to do battle, and instructs the group to guard the gate from anything that attempts to pass through.

The group positions themselves around the portal, and engage with the massive demons which pass through, fighting to buy Sir Keegan the time he requires. They hear the sounds of battle on the other side of the portal, and after defeating all the demons, Sir Keegan throws Daemon through the portal, looking much older, worn, distressed, and with a glowing brand of Orcus on his chest. Sir Keegan thanks the group for this last chance at redemption, and then the group closes the gate.

Quinn, Ky, Beltumal, and Paul decide to explore the rest of the dungeon to insure no evil remains, while Thorn and Grok remain with Daemon. They destroy a few remaining zombies and a gelatinous cube before discovering the tomb of Sir Keegan’s children. They find a few useful magical items, but dare not take anything else, as they wish not to disturb the children’s resting place. Upon traveling back to their companions, they find a common room used by the guards, and take a package of Everlasting Provisions left on the table for their group.

‘Just the Tip’ travels back to Winterhaven, to rest, re-arm, and prepare for whatever comes next.

Notes: The group also found during this episode: Elven Cloak, Rhythm Blade Dagger +1, Sacrificial Dagger, Eagle Eye Goggles, Horned Helm, and a strange card depicting the Fates

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Episode 8
Sir Keegan and Beltumal

The group decides to finish exploring the first level of the Keep, following a hallway from the zombie room down into a room laid out as some form of crypt. Inside they find ten sarcophagi lining the walls and two alters in niches at the end of the room. Sensing a trap, the group proceeds cautiously, but the trap is triggered. The sarcophagi burst open and expel a legion of skeletons that attack the group. The battle rages, and the sarcophagi continue to create new skeletons to replace the ones that are being struck down by the adventurers. Seeing that the altars have a message inscribed on them, ‘The Platinum Dragon is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. He is my stronghold, my refuge, and my armour against the foes of life – I need only kneel and offer him praise’, Daemon Kaaw rushes forward and decides to kneel before the altar and offer an insincere prayer. The skeletons stop attacking and return to their sarcophagi. The group searches the room, finding a small alcove behind one of the alters that holds six small dragon statures, made of platinum and silver. While Quinn Quernes prays to Bahamut, the rogue Grok attempts to remove some of the platinum from the other altar, only to be stopped and chastised by Ky.

Proceeding through the double doors of the crypt, the group finds itself in a tomb with a single coffin sitting on a raised dais. The coffin is carved from stone and featured the likeness of a human paladin lying with his sword across his chest. Thorn and Grok move forward to open the coffin, but as they touch it, the lid bursts open and a skeletal figure rises from within. Challenged by the figure to declare their intentions, the group is able to assure the spectre that they are here to help keep the rift with the Shadowfell closed. After answering his questions, the group learns that this is Sir Keegan, the final commander of the Keep, who had killed his family and much of the garrison, resulting in its fall. They learn that his madness came from the evil magic leaking from the Shadowfell, and that after he overcame the madness, he sealed himself in the crypt, where his mortal body died. His soul is now attached to this place, forever to make penance for the duty he failed to keep in life. Asked by Ky if there was a way to release him, Sir Keegan says that he is past redemption, but that Aecris; (currently missing), his sword, may be redeemed. He gives it to the group and advises them to seek Bahamut’s boon at the altars, as he may also grant them aid.

Daemon Kaaw again goes before the altar, this time speaking a sincere prayer to Bahamut, and before him a bright light manifests, and when it dims the group find before them a dragonborn with blue skin. He is confused to where he is, saying that he had previously been performing his morning prayers, when a voice spoke to him, saying his skills were needed, and would he serve Bahamut for the greater good? When he said yes, the dragonborn saw a bright light and found himself here. They learn that the dragonborn is a sorcerer by the name of Beltumal Silverclaw, and that he comes from the far south. As the group continues through the keep, they catch Beltumal up on what has happened so far, and the evil they are trying to stop.

As the adventurers descend to the lower level of the keep, they are challenged by a pair of hobgoblin guards, who yell out a phrase: “Shadow seeks shadow”. Thorn, remembering a message found on the slain ranger Ninaran, yells back the phrase “from the ground some magic was found”. Unfortunately for the group, this must have been placed in the letter as a trap, and the hobgoblins immediately know Ninaran has been killed and yell to warn Kalarel. Ky, seeing that the groups been discovered, runs forward and attempts to knock the guards into a pit they are standing beside. One falls in, while the other is able to catch onto the edge. From the side rooms more hobgoblins appear and the battle rages in the entrance way with each group struggling to gain the upper hand. At one point, Beltumal sees an opening to turn the tide, and blasts a group of hobgoblins clustered around Grok. Unfortunately, the hobgoblins are able to hide behind their shields, while Grok only has his leather armour, and takes significant damage. The hobgoblins attack the injured Grok, who loses consciousness, crumpling to the ground. Hard pressed by another wave of hobgoblins, as well as two death jump spiders released from their cage, the group fights for its life. Paul of Quar is able to free himself long enough from the battle to heal Grok, and his revival encourages the group, who are able to beat back their foes. One hobgoblin, seeing the battle is lost, runs from the room to warn his comrades.

The group proceeds carefully, knowing their enemies are aware of their approach. They can sense strong magic emanating from ahead and follow that path, which leads into a room with several statues; a huge warrior, two large dragons, and four small cherubs with vases above their head. As they move forward, the warrior statue groans as its internal mechanics engage, and it sweeps its longsword around the room. Daemon Kaaw dodges out of the way, and the rest of the group presses to the wall to avoid the strike. Ky attempts to get past the warrior, but it swings again and knocks her to the ground, at which point the doors behind the group bang open and a large hobgoblin emerges with several others. The chief laughs at the adventurers attempts to bypass the trap, and tell his minions to take them alive, as they can be sold as slaves to the Bloodreavers. From the entrance way the hobgoblins attack, avoiding the traps, and attempting to manoeuvre the group into harms way. Quinn is struck by the warrior statue when he is hit by a burst from the hobgoblin war caster, but is able to get back into the fight and block the hobgoblins advance. Paul of Quar, who has climbed up onto of the statue, slowly picks off hobgoblins with his crossbow. In the end, it is just the war chief left standing, and he charges the group, unwilling to give in to defeat.

The group now attempts to disable the traps around the room. Unable to get the access panel open on the soldier statue, Paul and Grok smash its mechanics, disabling its attack capabilities. The dragons are a magical trap, and despite their attempts, Beltumal and Daemon are unable to disarm them. The group moves forward and works on the cherubs, after an initial success on one of the statues, they are unable to dispel the magic of the other one they have access to. Paul moves forward to work on the other two cherubs, only to be cut off from the group by a magical wall that appears. The wall creates a chamber that starts to fill with water from the cherubs vases. The group frantically attempts to get rid of the wall, but are hampered when the dragon statues begin belching blasts of force energy at them. Paul meanwhile works on getting rid of the magic of the cherubs, but is battered against the walls of the chamber as the water turns into a whirlpool. While Beltumal and Daemon disable the wall; Ky, Quinn, Thorn, and Grok attack the dragon statues, destroy the one nearest to them. Inside the whirlpool, Paul is able to disable another of the cherubs, disrupting the magic that creates the wall. With the wall gone, Paul is carried by the surge of water back out into the room.

Through the door protected by the cherub trap, the group finds another room guarded by zombies. As they push forward, out of the darkness comes a ghoul, who is much faster than the zombies and attempts to immobilize isolated group members. Through good tactics and a little luck, the group is able to defeat the zombies, kill the ghoul and thwart a clay scout that has been sent to warm Kalarel of their advance. Behind a pile of bodies, Thorn finds small passage that his explores, finding the ghoul’s den. Inside he clears away bodies to uncover a leather bag, which turns out to be a Bag of Holding.

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Episode 7
Corpses and Insects

The group sets out from Winterhaven and soon arrives at the cemetery, though nothing seems to be out of order. Not believing that everything is as it seems, the group decide to enter the cemetery from three directions, thus hoping to prevent an ambush. Grok is able to sneak in through the crumbled back wall of a mausoleum, finding a gravehound waiting to attack those entering from the front of the graveyard. Grok attacks, and with the help of Quinn and Thorn, defeats the gravehound. Yet the attack alerts Ninaran, the elf ranger from Winterhaven, who bursts forth from a small crypt and speaks an incantation that reanimates the corpses of the cemetery. Finding herself surrounded by skeletons, Ky is isolated and forced to fight for her life, while the rest of the group fight their way through the undead to save her. As the battle begins to seem winnable, another wave of undead is called up from the ground by the undead enchanter Maw, who is working with Ninaran. Daemon, hoping to rush Ninaran and stop the evil magic that is animating the corpses, prepares a devastating spell only to be knocked to the ground by an opportunistic gravehound. Yet the battle is finally won, Ninaran falls to Thorn’s primal magic, and Grok chases down a fleeing Maw. On the body of Ninaren the group finds a message from Kalarel, with a password for the second sub-level, as well as her Thunderburst Longbow, which is claimed by Ky.

The group heads back to the Keep, yet upon descending the stairs to the first room, they hear voices, a group of hobgoblins on patrol have stumbled over the signs of battle from earlier and are now searching for the missing goblins. Rather than let them alert anyone else, the group attacks, fighting a back and forth battle, while attempting not to get pushed into the pit at the centre of the room. The hobgoblins are tougher than their smaller brethren, but they too fall, but not before a prolonged chase as several try and flee.

The group decides to check the final corridor on this floor to see where it leads, and again enter the caverns that proved so deadly before. As they move down the narrow corridor, Ky spots the signs of a Kruthik infestation. These burrowing insect-like reptiles feed like locusts do, only on flesh. Their presence is a bad sign, yet the group pushes forward. Grok notices a pit trap that has been triggered, a dead Kruthik at the bottom, something humanoid crushed beneath. The pits were obviously an attempt to keep the kruthiks from getting into the Keep’s main areas. As the group turns a corner they see the hive ahead, including several very large adults. The kruthiks attack, the small hatchlings and young using the tunnels dug through the walls to flank the group. The adults spit poisonous spikes and charge, one adult burrowing through a wall to get to the back of the group. Ky’Vruck finds herself once again separated from the main force, and the group is forced to fight on two fronts against the rampaging adults while the young bite and scratch at their distracted foe. Quinn and Paul of Quar are able to deal with several of the Kruthiks while Thorn and Daemon Kaaw protect a bloodied Ky. Grok uses hit and run attacks to kill off the smaller critters, but is bloodied himself in the process. Yet the battle seems lost when one of the adults burrows through a wall and splits the group in two, only the quick reactions of Thorn, Quinn and Paul save the day, and allow the group to finish off the kruthiks. Within the hive the group finds a Potion of Healing and a Frostwolf Pelt, which suitably goes to Thorn. Also, on the body crushed at the bottom of the pit trap, the group finds several more potions.

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Episode 6
The Crypt of Shadows

Continuing their exploration of the Second Sub-level, the group encounters more zombies who react when the magic runes are triggered. After the fight, Ky’Vruck finds a secret door, which Grok is able to open. Inside appears to be an old armoury, yet it has been picked bare as only weapon racks and dust remains. Yet Ky picks up the sound of movement and groans coming from behind the far wall. On a whim, Grok decides to launch a sling bullet, and the group is surprised when the bullets sails through the wall. Grok sneaks forward through the wall, only to find himself surrounded by zombies. Still unnoticed, Grok prepares an attack, but before he can launch it, Thorn enters the room, and the zombies lurch forward. Grok, now trapped in the room, lets loose a flurry of blades, but finds himself the target several zombies. The group outside the room attempts to help, and have to make quick work of the zombies to rescue a bloodied Grok.

Behind the illusory wall, the group finds some old rusted swords and halberds, a heavily rusted suit of plate armour, and a plaque affixed to the wall. When the plaque is approached, a magical voice reads them a riddle, testing to see how virtuous they are. The group correctly identifies the answer, and the suit of rusted plate turns into a Bloodiron Plate Armor, which Quinn dons.

The group decide to clear the rest the first floor before heading deeper into the keep, and they find themselves in a much older part of the structure, no longer masonry, they are in a cave dug hundreds of years ago. Limited visibility and darkness creates a problem for the group, forcing them to split in to two. As the get farther from each other, a large number of cave rats attack, dropping from the ceiling. Ky is able to identify them early and keep the group from being surprised, and despite being separated, the two groups deal with the rats easily. Yet the group of Quinn, Grok and Paul of Quar decide to push on alone, and stumble upon an ochre jelly, which attacks mercilessly. Grok is significantly damaged in the first attack, and Quinn attempts to keep the jelly focused off of Grok. Thorn appears out of the darkness and together with Quinn is able to battle back the jelly. Yet just as the tide appears to be turning, the jelly splits in two and begins to attack separately. The arrival of the rest of the group saves the day, and a bloodied Grok and Quinn, beginning a discussion about whether they should turn back and regroup. One more room is chosen to explore, the one with the sign marked ‘Stay Out. Really.’

Inside they find an old cistern, filled with brackish water, with a very small island in the middle. Ky perceives something moving beneath the surface, but the lure of treasure is too tempting, and Thorn jumps across to the island to investigate. As he is sorting through the debris, a surge of bubbles breaks the water’s surface and a noxious smell dazes the most of the group. From the water surges a large blue slime that attacks those standing on the waterline. Ky is able to nimbly dodge the attack, but Splug is hit hard by the slime. The group tries to withdraw but before they can the slime covers them in an acidic jelly that is too much for the already wounded Splug. The group, especially Ky, is shocked by the death of Splug, and surge back into the room to attack the slime. Grok attempts to jump to the island and help Thorn, but misses his landing and falls into the water. His splashing draws the slime to him, yet the attacks of those on shore are able to defeat the slime and save Grok once again. On the island the group finds a Sylvan Leather Armor, which is claimed by a suitably embarrassed Grok, as well as a letter to Kalarel from a group of slavers called the Bloodreavers, asking for humanoid captives that Kalarel might want to sell. There is a second letter, telling the messenger to wet the nodule if Kalarel is unreceptive, then run like hell. This supposedly would bring a creature out of its dormancy that will consume anything it can reach. Whether this refers to the blue slime or not is unknown.

Bloodied and tired from their foray into the caves, the group decides to leave the final corridor for now, and return to Winterhaven to regroup. Yet upon arriving at the town gates, they find them closed and barred, a guard on the battlements informing them that the dead have risen in the cemetery and several farmers have gone missing. The group requests admittance to rest and resupply, then they will deal with the threat.

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Episode 5
Shadowfell Keep

The group now proceeds to the Keep, finding it to be eerily quiet, with no life of any kind within 100 metres of the ruins. Yet a pathway through the rubble has been cleared, leading to a staircase down into the dark. As the group descends they hear goblin voices below, and ready for a fight, they emerge into a large room with a goblin watching them from the other side. Feeling certain that there must be a trap, Quinn Quernes instructs the group to follow in his footsteps as he attacks. The goblin is joined by several others, who facing overwhelming odds, attempt to flee only to be cut down by the group.

The group continues down one of the hallways to find itself in what looks to be the goblins’ barracks. They are able to take two guards by surprise, killing them before they can alert their sleeping brethren. The group then goes room to room slaying the surprised goblins. In one room they find the goblin chieftain, Balgon the Fat, also asleep and slay him as he screams for help from the already defeated guards. The group then defeats a group of goblins led by a Hobgoblin torturer, who have another goblin held prisoner. During the battle, Grok Thornsteed is able to force a goblin into an iron maiden then kick the door shut, killing the goblin instantly. Still on a high from him earlier heroics, Grok attempts to jump onto a table to attack the torturer, only to miss and fall on his face. Not one to give up easily, Grok crawls under the table and attacks the hobgoblin from the ground. After defeating the torturer (whose Bloodcut Hide Armor is taken by Thorn}, the group releases the goblin captive, learning that his name is Splug and he was being tortured by his comrades for stealing their rum rations, as well as anything else he could get his hands on. The group agrees to let the goblin kleptomaniac live, and he agrees to follow them and do as he’s told, as well as providing information about the dungeon.

Splug directs the group to an excavation site where the goblins have been instructed to dig for powerful relics. The group finds several goblins toiling here, as well as two guard drakes. Grok attempts to sneak in and attack the goblins, but the drakes become aware of him when he stumbles down a wooden ramp. Cornered by the drakes, Grok is bloodied before he can be rescued by Quinn and Paul of Quar. Ky’Vruck, hoping to get a good angle to unleash her magic arrows, attempts to cross one of the narrow planks between dirt mounds. She loses her footing and falls to the level below, not the last to try and fail at crossing the unstable planks. The drakes put up a spirited fight but are soon dealt with, and the goblins are unable to withstand the group’s attacks. Within the excavation site, Paul of Quar finds a Holy Symbol of Battle, likely belonging to one of the paladins of Bahamut that were part of the garrison.

Descending to the lower level of the keep, the group finds themselves in total darkness, using Paul of Quar’s magical light as well as torches they proceed cautiously into the unknown. Soon they find themselves before a room filled with zombies, who attack when they enter. A vicious battle ensues, and Grok is almost carried away by one zombie, only saved when Thorn uses his ‘thorn whip’ to pull the zombie free. Pushing forward into the dark the group finds glowing magical runes that they feel it is best to avoid, yet when they find their path must traverse at least one rune, they attempt to jump across. Paul of Quar lands on the rune, triggering it and its horrific cry. The group is shaken and before they can regroup they are attacked by more zombies brought by the noise. Fighting for their lives, the group is able to slay the zombies, but still unsure of what else lurks in the dark.

Notes: The group reaches Level 3

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Episode 4
Irontooth's Lair

The group plunges through the waterfall to find themselves surrounded by another large group of kobolds, the battle rages, and at its height, a battle-scared goblin enters. Irontooth rallies his troops and seems to have the upper hand, but the group is able to turn the tide and defeat the kobolds and strike Irontooth down, who, as the final blow lands, yells ‘Kalarel and Lord Orcus, prepare my way!’ The group is able to gain significant treasure, including a Dwarven Chainmail for Paul of Quar and an Elven Chain Shirt for Daemon Kaaw. Also, a letter is found from Kalarel, referring to his spy in Winterhaven, an opening of ‘the rift’ and using the people of Winterhaven as food for Lord Orcus.

The group heads back to Winterhaven and reports to Lord Padraig what they have found, he is thankful for their help dealing with the kobolds, but he is still skeptical of the reports of a death cult. Further questioning of Valthrun the Prescient leads to more information about the Keep outside of town. Originally built by the empire of Nerath, it was not purely military in nature, but helped keep a rift in the Shadowfell closed. The Keep survived the fall of Nerath, but ultimately was deserted after the commander of the garrison stationed there went mad, killing his wife and children, along with many of his soldiers.

The group is now interested in the keep, sure that it must be connected to the death cultists, yet before they proceed to what might be an extended battle, they decided to track down Douven Staul. They follow a map they received from Valthrun to the site that Douven was excavating. There they find a gnome claiming to be Douven Staul working with several others. The group feels there is something off about the situation and keep their distance, debating among themselves whether or not to attack. A heated exchange between Daemon Kaaw and “Douven” results in the group being attacked, and two guard drakes appearing and making things difficult. The group, not fully united on the moral justification of this battle, are able to defeat most of the combatants and attempt to take “Douven” prisoner rather than kill him. Unfortunately, Grok Thornsteed‘s punch is harder than expected, killing the gnome and leaving the party feeling complicit in his death. Yet when they search the excavation site, Ky’Vruck finds a man tied up underneath a camouflaged piece of canvas. It turns out this is the real Douven Staul, he was attacked by the gnome and his minions several days ago, they claimed to be seeking a relic and thought he might have found it. Other than the dragon bones he’s unearthed and a silver mirror, Douven has not found anything he thinks is of value. He thanks the group and gifts them his Amulet of Health before leaving to return to his wife.

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Episode 3
To Winterhaven

The group, brought together by their last adventure, have decided to stay together, under the name Just The Tip. The dragonhide is returned to Teldorthan, and Lord Markelhay is happy to reward the group for defeating the kobolds, even suggesting that Winterhaven may be in need of their services, as they also have a kobold problem.

They attempt to have the letter found in the dragon’s hoard translated. After much running around, they are able to get Grundelmar of the House of the Sun to read it to them (thanks to a heavy drinking session between him and Grok Thornsteed). They learn the letter is from someone named Irontooth and he is attempting to gain allies, such as the dragon Szartharrax. They are approached by a priestess of Pelor, Marla, who also directs them towards Winterhaven, having heard of sightings of a death cult, lead by Kalarel, heading in that direction a few month ago. The group agrees to check out Winterhaven, and begins their preparations to leave. They are approached by Mina Staul, who has heard they are leaving for Winterhaven, and asks them to bring word of her husband Douven Staul. Douven is an archeologist and left for Winterhaven to try and locate a dragon’s tomb many months ago.

On the road to Winterhaven, the group is attacked by kobolds, which are easily dispatched. They arrive in Winterhaven and head to the local inn to learn what they can. They talk with Salvana Wrafton the owner, Valthrun the Prescient, and a mysterious and surly elf ranger named Ninaran. They proceed to talk with Lord Padraig, who informs them of the problems with the kobolds of the area, but knows nothing of a death cult. He directs the adventurers to a base located just outside of town.

On the way to the base, the adventurers are ambushed by kobolds, as if somehow they knew the group was coming. The kobolds are led by a wyrmpriest and are much stronger than previous encounters. On the wyrmpriest is a dragon figurine carved from obsidian, which on the bottom is etched a skull with ram’s horns. Paul of Quar identifies the etching as the symbol of the Demon-Prince Orcus.

Arriving at the waterfall lair, they find a large number of kobolds outside. The group is able to sneak up close and eliminate a few before the others are aware of their presence. A short skirmish ensues, and as the outcome looks inevitable, one of the kobolds makes a break for the waterfall to warn those inside. Quick teamwork by the group stops this from happening and the group readies to face those inside.

Notes: The group reaches Level 2.

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