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8/28/08 The team decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and fought their way clear of the remaining skeletons. They made their way back up to the outside world, and took a night’s rest in the woods surrounding the remains of the keep. After spending a restless night, in which they witnessed a strange, green eldrich glow eminating from the stones of the keep, they re-entered, and marched back to the site of their previous rout. When prepared, they made short work of the skeletal protectors, and managed to end their generation by praying to Bahamut at an altar nearby. They wasted no time, and entered the chamber beyond, which turned out to be a crypt. On examining the sarcophagus, Vorgrim noted that there was apparently no ceremony performed over the remains that we laid to rest there. They decided to explore in more depth, but upon touching the coffin, the lid blew off, and a large skeletal figure erupted, armed and armored, and apparently more than ready to fight. The skeletal figure issued a challenge to the party, requiring them to each account for their ability and dedication to the task of protecting the Shadowfel rift that waited below in the keep. After much questioning, including a sort of staring contest with Cashmere, the figure introduced himself as Sir Keegan, a knight sworn to protect the keep, and the secrets it held. He told them the story of what had happened, how the corruption that seeped from the rift had eventually caused him to go mad, and to kill many of the protectors of the keep, before finally being shut in the chamber that they now found themselves. On receiving their pledge to keep the rift from opening again, Sir Keegan offered the services of his sword, Aecris, which he allowed the party to take from his crypt.

After this history lesson about the keep, the party headed back through the catacombs, exploring areas they had not yet travelled to, and found a small chamber behind a hidden door deeper in the caverns. Within, they found a small armory hidden behind a illusory wall, protected by undead minions. After disposing of the undead, they heard a deep voice intoning a riddle, which Varis answered almost before it was done speaking. This revealed yet another treasure of the keep, a magical suit of scale armor.

While the party had been searching the chamber, Cashmere wandered off, attempting to find other pathways, and discovered a staircase leading down, with light eminating up from it. The rest of the party, fearing that there was trouble, tried to find him, only to give away their position to a horde of hobgoblins. A terrible battle broke out, and eventually, Vorgrim, Patrin, and Kimba all fell, with the rest of the party retreating. Their only hope for their friends was what Cashmere had heard from the leader of the horde, who screeched in Goblin, “Leave some alive, I want to ask questions!”

8/15/08 Cashmere and Caelynna tracked the halfling that had escaped them at the dig site for several hours before they came to a cliff with a waterfall coming off of it. The Halfing’s tracks led to a group of Kobolds that were milling around outside. When they arrived, they saw no trace of the halfling, but were very intruiged by the organization of the Kobolds that they found, along with a small ring of stones that exuded a strange, blue, ethereal light. After watching for some time to try and get an idea of the strength of the group, they decided to head back to town and meet up with the rest of the team.

Back at Winterhaven, the party checked in with Lord Padraig, who told them that they had been unable to find anything of the whereabouts of Kalarel, but that they had found out that he was known to be a priest of Orcus. Unfortunately, this information didn’t really help the team, as they were already fairly familiar with him. They instead headed to Valthrun’s tower, and after some mishaps on trying to enter the tower, met up with him instead in the tavern. They showed him the tablet that they had found, and he confirmed that the writing on it was infernal, but that the text itself didn’t seem to mean much, as it was just a fragment of a larger statement. However, in confrerencing with Vorgrim, they were able to figure out that the tablet came from a particular type of stone known to be used in the construction of Shadowfel Keep, an aincent ruin to the north. Valthrun told them a little bit about the keep, including the fact that the rumors about it said that the keep was specifically built to keep something inside instead of out, and that some type of terrible calamity had befallen it a long time ago. When the group left, they were suprised to find that apparently Valthrun had tried to keep the tablet for himself, simply by omitting to give it back. He readily returned it to them when they asked about it, stating that he had just become forgetful, but they still wondered what that had been about.

They then took the tablet to Sister Linora, who had an extreme reaction upon being handed the tablet and looking at it. Shrieking, she dropped the tablet. Vorgrim tried valiantly to try and save the stone, but his reactions were just a little too slow, and the tablet shattered on the ground. Sister Linora and the party got into a shouting match about the destroyed tablet, resulting eventually in Sister Linora yelling for the guards to throw the group out of the Temple. Not wanting to start a fight with the town, the party left, quite disgruntled at the destruction of a potentially valueable clue, but Sister Linora was adamant that they leave.

Having no other leads, along with Cashmere’s desire to hunt down the halfling that had eluded them at the dig site, they headed north, intending to head to the Keep, but along the way, they would stop at the waterfall and try to oust the Kobolds that had taken up residence there. Upon arriving at the waterfall, they noticed that the kobolds seemed to be on alert, and approached carefully. The kobold’s preparations came to nothing, however, as they were ambushed by the party quite effectively. During the fight, one of the kobolds managed to run away, and to the party’s surprise, headed straight into the waterfall. When they chased him, they found that there was a larger contingent of Kobolds in a series of caverns under the waterfall. Already tired from the previous melee, a huge battle ensued, and during the fight, a large Goblin, nearly the size of a human, joined the attack, wielding a massive two-headed battle axe. After a few tense moments where both Caelynna and Varis teporarily seemed to be well out-matched, the party emerged victorius, and found a stash of treasure that had been hidden in a further back cavern. In this trove, they found a set of Dwarven chain mail, which they found to be magical. While examining the chainmail, they also found that the pendant that Donovan had given them was magical as well, apparently, the old academic had known what he was talking about when he said that it would protect them! They also found a letter, that had been addressed to Irontooth, apparently sent by Kalarel. They note said:

_“My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. It probably does not matter; in just a few more days, I’ll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven’s people will serve as food for all those Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.”_

Unnerved by the idea that there may be a spy in Winterhaven, the party decided to continue on to Shadowfel Keep before heading back, hoping to find more information.

Upon approaching Shadowfel Keep, they found no guards, no real tracks to speak of, and truly, very little of the Keep. The walls of the Keep had fallen in on itself years ago, and there were very few fragments of the orgininal keep still in evidence. However, they soon found a stairwell, that was still intact, heading down into the bowels of what remained of the Keep.

Almost immediately upon entering the keep, they were attacked by a small band of Goblins, obviously set as guards, and a pit trap that Cashmere narrowly avoided falling into, which held a swarm of rats, who, disturbed by the light, flooded out of the pit to attack. After getting these creatures under control, the party then ventured into a darkened area, which they took to be catacombs, and were surprised to find several runes on various parts of the floor. The tunnels were very dark, and cramped, and they soon found themselves ambused by animated corpses that rose to meet them. During the fight, Cashmere’s natural curiosity got the better of him, and he prodded one of the runes, hoping that it would somehow allow one to control the undead. Instead, an unnatural, otherworldly shriek spewed forth from the runes, causing the entire group to quiver, and Caelynna’s nerve broke, and she ran. Unfortunately, she ran deeper into the catacombs, and shortly came out in a large chamber lit by a strange mural on the far end’s ceiling. Along the sides of this chamber, there were sarcophaguses lining the walls, and as she got herself under control, these coffins slammed open, and a horde of skeletal warriors burst out. Knowing herself to be in no position to take on a horde of ten skeletons on her own, Caelynna slipped through a door conjured into the Fewyild, and came out near to the group, outside of the deadly ring of attackers. As the group started to mount an offensive on the creatures, they heard moaning behind them, and checked only to find that more zombies were closing in on them from the way they had come! Apparently the shriek of the rune had attracted more of the foul abominations. The group readied their weapons, and split their forces, now inescapably committed to the massive battle. As the battle wore on, they found that not only were they outnumbered to begin with, but the coffins inside the strange chamber continued to disgorge skeletons one after another! They were not only trapped, but their enemy was increasing! They had little time to make a decision, whethere to stay and fight, or to make good their escape.

07/27/08 The party managed to get to the town of Winterhaven, and settled into the local inn, Wrafton’s, before learning about the town. While at the inn, they spoke with many of the more colorful elements of the town, in an impromptu party that they threw in their honor. The innkeeper, Silvana Wrafton, seemed shocked by such an adventuring party in her town, but set to serving one of the largest parties (not to mention lucrative nights) that she had seen in years. Several members of the party tried to introduce themselves to an elf that was sitting in the corner by himself, only to be rebuffed several times. They later learned that his name was Ninaran, and that he was a ranger who lived outside of the town most of the time. Valthrun, the local sage, greeted the party with a great deal of enthusiasm, however, possibly partially due to the fact that they were buyig the drinks. A couple of the group ran into Lord Padraig, who ostensibly “runs” the town, and although at first they seemed to be getting off on the wrong foot, things were smoothed over later. They inquired of everyone they met whether they knew of a Priest by the name of Kalarel, but, not wanting to offer too much information, they came up empty. Some of the party took to their beds, while the rest (Notably Torin, Cashmere, and Varis) closed the bar down, with much swinging of the good lady Wrafton’s broom.

The next morning, Patrin, along with Varis and Caelynna, found out several things about the town. Patrin had gotten up early to attend services at the local temple, and was informed by Sister Linora that there was no priest by the name of Kalarel who was known in Winterhaven. She bristled at the idea that there could be a cult to Orcus springing up right under her nose when the possiblity was brought up, but she told Patrin that he could talk with Lord Pedraig about that possiblity, and he might be able to give them some assistance. A little later in the morning, the party found out just how much of a border town Winterhaven really is, when a slightly addled old farmer took Patrin for a full-blooded dragon, and created quite a rucus before he could extricate himself from the situation. They also found out that old sages that drink heavily the night before do not tend to get up early, when they tried knocking on Valthrun’s door.

Later on, the party went to go speak with Lord Padraig, and met his captain-at-arms, Rond, who was grateful for the possiblity of help from some people who were more accomplished than his town guard. When asked if Winterhaven had a Kobold problem, Padraig answered that although there were sometimes raids on the roads, he didn’t think that they really constituted a problem, however, he did concede that the raids had become more common of late, though he couldn’t figure out why that might be. When pressed for more information, the only thing that he could come up with is the possibility that it had something to do with the scholar, Donovan, who had recently come to town asking permission to start a dig in a local site that was supposed to be some kind of dragon graveyard. When asked about Kalarel, he stated that he had no information on such a person, but that he would be glad to look into it in return for any assistance that the party would be willing to give on the Kobold situation.

Upon leaving the town, the party was once again ambushed, near the same location that it had happened previously, on their way into town. This time there was a Kobold Wyrmpriest with them, and many of the Kobolds shouted either about revenge for fallen comrads, or about how Orcus would destroy them. When they were defeated, an obsidian amulet to Orcus was found on the Wyrmpriest.

Later on, as they approached the dig site, Cashmere snuck ahead and checked out the site. When he got there, he found a group of people there that did not look like the group they were told to expect. Instead of scholars and students, they found a bunch of ruffians, and a strange gnome that Cashmere observed kicking a suspicious pile of blankets. They decided to ambush this group, and despite a few small mishaps, their ambush went well, although a halfling that had ambushed the would-be ambushers managed to get away in the melee. They found Donavan tied up and covered in the pile of rags, along with some kind of stone slab with infernal writing etched into it. Donovan recovered an amulet from the gnome that had apparently been stolen from him in their initial attack, and, after removing the picture of his wife from it, gave the amulet to the party, wishing that it would keep them safe. He then asked if he would be allowed to leave, as his wife would be worried about him, and the party agreed to escort him back to Winterhaven, but Cashmere and Caelynna went off in search of tracks that they could follow, in hopes of finding out where the halfling, gnome, and their party had come from.

07/20/08 In the last room of the Kobold keep, the party fought a young White Dragon by the name of Szartharrax. It was a very intense battle, but in the end the party prevailed. In a chest that they found buried in the ice of the dragon’s lair, they found several items of value, and also a letter that had been written in Goblin, and was signed “Irontooth”. This letter was inviting Szartharrax to join a group that was being put together outside of the town of Winterhaven, being led by a priest he called “Kalarel”.

Upon returning to the city, they proved that they had eliminated the Kobold threat by returning the Wyrmpriest’s mask to the lord of the town. They were rewarded for their efforts, and before they left the Lord’s chamber, were approached by the local Priest to Pelor, who told them that she had found evedince that there was some kind of death cult being established in the area of Winterhaven, and she wanted the party to travel there, see if the rumors were true, and come back with proof of the cult’s desrtuction if it was so.

The party agreed, and travelled to Winterhaven. On the way there, they were ambushed along the road by a group of Kobolds, who were obviously laying in wait for them. It would seem that there is at least some truth to the rumors of problems in Winterhaven.