Saturday, July 31, 2010

Entering the Keep

Far, Lharvion 20, 998 YK (Day 6). Morning.

The party awakens again in Wrafton's Inn. The day is overcast and cool, but relatively pleasant. Typhus is the first to wake, and goes to Bairwin's Grande Shoppe with Morgue and Zil'dejin, where he attempts to sell the humanoid skulls he retrieved from the kobold lair. Bairwin explains that he is interested in curiosities, like the dragon skull - not the remains of people. He sends the party on their way. Outside the shop, the party discusses their next move, and the nature of Valthrun the Prescient.

"I don't trust Valthrun," Morgue says flatly. "I think he's suspicious."
"You think everybody's suspicious," replies Tam'elanath, reminding him of the woman they met in Lakeside who first prompted them to come to Winterhaven.
"She was suspicious."
"I agree about the wizard," Typhus adds. "I think that guy is up to something."
"Me too," states Lythanis. "We should be careful about trusting him."

The party comes to agreement: they believe Valthrun is not what he seems to be, seeming suspicious and aloof. They decide he may be a threat, and so forms a bizarre and elaborate plan to contact him about the rib again.

The approach his tower once more, and Typhus lays down the clothes he took from Sil, the changeling who posed as Delphina Moongem. Typhus uses his Mage Hand cantrip to knock on the door, and then uses the same spell in combination with Lythanis' Far Hand power to lift the clothes off the ground in an attempt to make the uninhabited garments look like a human being, assuming that Valthrun will only open the door a crack. The party stands off to the side, behind the door.

Unfortunately, Valthrun opens the door in its entirety, sees the floating clothing and then the party attempting to hide out of his sight. "What... are you doing?" he asks.

"Recognize these?" Typhus asks, gesturing towards the clothing. Valthrun shakes his head.

"They belong to the changeling posing as Delphina Moongem."

"What are you talking about?" he asks in response.


Finally, Zil'dejin enters as the voice of reason yet again. "We're here to ask about the rib. Have you finished studying it yet?"

"Oh. Well, er. No, not yet, exactly, but I'm certain I'm close. In the meantime, perhaps you'd be willing to help out the people of Winterhaven once more?"

"What is it this time?" asks Mikhal.

Valthrun describes the keep just north of the town, along the ascension to the Icetop Mountains. He explains that his historical records indicate that it was built by Karrn the Conqueror (the founder of Karrnath), and that it was built to protect a rift to the Shadowfell, also known as Mabar. He says Orcus, a demon lord, was sealed in Khyber, but about a thousand years ago an exarch known as Doresain tried to breach the rift here and summon an army of the undead from the keep. Paladins of Dol Dorn then sealed him away in the rift, and the keep's original purpose was forgotten, the structure abandoned. But the rift is still there, and Valthrun believes someone may be trying to open it. He mentions that the Winterhaunt is nearing, a time when Mabar comes close to Eberron, which will then weaken the seals on the rift. He believes the Winterhaunt is why the townspeople have been acting so strange, and the attempt to breach the seal is responsible for the hostile activity lately. Finally, he asks the party to investigate.

They are skeptical at first, initially not wanting to hear him out but eventually deciding that this may be the best course of action for the time being. They agree, and Valthrun tells them where to go and indicates he will continue to study the rib in their absence. The party again leaves Winterhaven, this time headed north along a barely-defined path overgrown with vegetation to the old keep.

Before long, they arrive at the ruins of the keep. The structure still stands, though barely. However, the party detects some hints of recent use; a path through the rubble has been cleared, and a staircase has been revealed. Typhus uses a Light cantrip to illuminate the staircase, and seeing no immediate danger, the party descends into the depths.

In the entry room, Mikhal falls pray to a trap and falls into a pit in the ground, but is lifted out by Morgue. After this, they are attacked by goblins, alerted to their presence by the sound of the trap going off. They fight off the first few goblins, and then the party then splits into two; Zil'dejin, Morgue, and Mikhal head forward down towards the south corridor, and Tam'elanath, Typhus and Lythanis head to the east corridor. They are met by different challenges; the former group encounters waiting goblins, and the latter, a very resilient curtain. Eventually, they clear the last of the goblins, and decide to proceed along the west corridor from the first room, and arrive in the torture chamber.

Here, they encounter more goblins and a hobgoblin torturer, apparently in charge of the goblins in the room. They fight these off, and Typhus speaks with an imprisoned goblin in the cells here, who identifies himself as Splug. He offers Splug freedom in exchange for translating the note found on Ironteeth, and though he is not satisfied with Splug's interpretation, sets him free anyway on the condition of unswerving servitude. Splug is glad to be out, and offers what little information he can; he tells the party that the chieftain's room branches off from this one. The party considers going here next, and takes a brief rest.

The Coalstriker Incident

Zor, Lharvion 19, 998 YK (Day 5). Night time.

Returning from the kobold lair, Tam'elanath, Zil'dejin, Morgue, Typhus, Mikhal and Lythanis find the town is strangely still. The townspeople all seem nervous and pensive, going about their last-minute business darkly with their heads lowered. When questioned by Morgue, they can offer no reason; the impatient Zil'dejin attempts to threaten a town resident for answers ("I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON HERE BEFORE I SHOVE MY FIST DOWN YOUR THROAT!") but this, too, is unsuccesful. The party goes to question Valthrun on the matter, but he does not respond. They move back to Lord Padraig, who rewards them with 100 gold, thanks them for their help, and sends them on their way.

On their way back to Wrafton's Inn, Typhus stops at Thair Coalstriker's smithy once again, this time to sell all the iron braziers as a source of scrap metal. He is joined by Zil'dejin, Morgue, and Lythanis, but Tam'elanath and Mikhal return to the inn to rest their battered bodies. Reluctant to do business with the one who has caused him so much anguish in the past two days, Thair is still able to see the value of the metal and so buys it, albeit at a drastically reduced price. Typhus drops the braziers on the ground, and Thair begins lifting them into a pile of materials in the back end of his small shop.

In an effort to smooth the strained relationship with the dwarf blacksmith (or so he would later claim), Typhus clears his throat, and Thair turns around to see what else he has to say, unwilling to hear but listening regardless (as on the day he arrived, Typhus had an unpleasant exchange with the dwarf in the Dwarven tongue). Typhus looks at him and says, "Allow me to make your forge even hotter." With this, he casts a spell on the unsuspecting dwarf's hearth, which literally backfires and causes it to detonate, ruining his current work, surrounding finished works, the forge itself, and a chunk of the wall that held it.

Thair immediately drops the brazier he is lifting and grabs his warhammer off the wall, completely enraged. Typhus attempts to convince Thair his intentions were nothing but good, but Thair does not listen. He then attempts to intimidate the dwarf, but this, too, fails. Morgue uses his superior powers of persuasion on the dwarf, but it is too late; Thair is blind with rage at the Tiefling who has caused him so much frustration and has now ruined his livelihood. He leaps over the stone counter, hammer raised. Typhus fires an Acid Arrow at him - among his most powerful spells - but it just grazes Thair, who proceeds as though nothing has happened. He cracks Typhus in the skull with the hammer, who staggers under the impact, but fires off a Scorching Burst. Thair appears to be only minimally affected, and smashes Typhus with his shield, sending him unconscious. He then moves to the ruins of his forge to grab a still-glowing coal.

Meanwhile, Zil'dejin - preferring not to get involved - leaves the smithy. Morgue attempts to lift Typhus off the ground, but finds himself unable. Lythanis tries to persuade the dwarf to stop his assault, but again, he does not listen. He returns to Typhus with a hot coal in tongs, and places the coal in his mouth, then stomps on his chest. Typhus, highly resistant to heat and fire, is not particularly affected by the coal, but is nearing death from Thair's savage beating.

Morgue offers a kind of settlement to the situation, perhaps with monetary compensation, and Thair finally slows to consider. He agrees to let Typhus live on the grounds that he may have all the money Typhus is carrying. Morgue takes Typhus' gold and hands it to Thair, who relents. Hearing the commotion calm within, Zil'dejin returns to the interior to see the conclusion. It is at this time that two city guards arrive, drawn by the ruckus.

They ask what is going on, and administer a potion to Typhus, who is on the verge of death. He gets up to his knees, and the four try to explain their side while Thair gives his take, explaining how Typhus destroyed his forge. The guards extract a pair of metal shackles to bind Typhus and take him for questioning, but Typhus casts a spell to make the cuffs invisible (though the guard is still holding them). Lythanis attempts to steal Typhus' money back from Thair by lifting his bag telekinetically, but his satchel is firmly held to his body and he fails. Thair reacts harshly to this attempt at theft, and the guards try to calm him down as he begins swinging his hammer blindly again. While this occurs, Morgue attempts to steal the invisible shackles, but fails because he cannot see them.

Finally, the guards are led to believe that Thair has gone insane, sends the party on their way and are eventually able to put the invisible shackles on the enraged dwarf. The party sees him being dragged out of the forge in the invisible shackles, screaming madly and incoherently in the Dwarven tongue. They go back to Wrafton's Inn to join Tam'elanath and Mikhal and get some sleep.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Behind the Waterfall

Zor, Lharvion 19, 998 YK (Day 5)

The party awakes the next morning in Wrafton's Inn to a gentle rain. They go downstairs and head outside, going to visit "Bairwin's Grand Shoppe," Winterhaven's general store for supplies. When they arrive, they purchase some basic supplies, Typhus again attempts to sell the dragon skull he retrieved from the burial site the day before. Unlike Valthrun and Thair Coalstriker, however, Bairwin seems interested. He is not inclined to purchase it, but will offer it in trade for an item he's been trying to get rid of. Typhus indicates that he prefers monetary payment, but agrees, and Bairwin moves slowly into the back room of his shop, where he spends an incredible amount of time rummaging.

When he emerges, he is carrying a bedroll. Almost immediately, Typhus asks if he has anything else to offer, and the aging, slightly senile Bairwin sets the bedroll down on the counter again and departs once more for an unnecessarily long trip to the back room. While he is gone, Morgue seizes the opportunity and takes the bedroll, stuffing it hastily in his bag. Bairwin returns with what he claims is a "bag of wondrous powder;" Typhus accepts this in trade, and hands him the hefty dragon skull in exchange. He also purchases some rudimentary components for magical rituals - precisely 25 gold pieces worth, though he initially attempts to sell the same amount for 50 gold. The streetwise Morgue and the ever-suspicious Zil'dejin catch on to this quickly, and insist he purchases the goods at their real value. He does so, and the three leave the shop to meet the rest of the party, waiting outside.

They pay a quick visit to the smithy, apparently looking for magical items, where an exasperated Thair Coalstriker shoos them away again. After this, they decide to visit Valthrun the Prescient to see if he has finished analyzing the rib yet. They arrive at his tower, and knock on his door again. After some time, he comes down, opens the door, and the party asks him if he has finished. He tells them somewhat evasively that he hasn't had time yet, and tells them that he hears Lord Padraig, the lord of Winterhaven, has been looking for a group to help him with a security issue. He tells the party to look into this and closes his door again. They attempt to knock on his door once more, but to no avail: he does not answer. They eventually decide to visit Padraig. At the closed gate to the inner court of Winterhaven, Morgue uses an elaborate explanation of his purpose to give himself an air of intrigue and mystery, and the fascinated guards let him in. They ask a guard which of the three buildings to visit, and go to see Padraig (after first dealing with the servant Samson), who tells them of the kobold problem that Winterhaven has been experiencing. He informs them that he has located their lair, and asks them if they will help for a small reward. The party agrees, and departs for the nearby waterfall, where Padraig indicates the kobold lair is hidden.

Outside the waterfall, they encounter a large group of kobolds gathered around an old magic circle. The party decides they must be in the midst of some ritual, and attempts to attack. Morgue moves first, but a failed attempt at an assault leads the party to be identified, and the kobolds are alerted. The six then engage them in battle, and eventually cuts them all down, but one is able to escape behind the waterfall. They pursue.

When they arrive inside, they find the kobolds within already alerted to their presence by the one that had fled from outside. Bottlenecked in the small entrance, they attempt to engage the kobolds in combat. As they near the end of the first wave, a waiting group of ambushers on the ground above the cave drops down, and an imposing presence enters from further within the cave. The kobolds are apparently obedient to the creature, who the party believes is the same Ironteeth mentioned in the note they discovered in Szartharrax's lair. They do not recognize the creature, who has a large head with two mouths, no neck, and four arms - each of which is helping to hold one of two battle axes. They are then assailed by this new group.

The six are at first surpressed. The self-sacrificing Mikhal is the first to fall, who attempts to heal and defend his companions but collapses in the far end of the cave to the onslaught. Morgue attempts to buy the party some time and hold Ironteeth back, and moves to attack him, but is struck down by his axes and bit by his crushing metal teeth and falls unconscious on the ground. Typhus, pushed back into a corner by a group of minions in the first wave, is the next to fall after taking out some kobolds with his magic, though he is able to recover after some time. Ironteeth continues advancing, and Tam'elanath steps in, first firing arrows at the attacking kobolds to kill some, and then finally attacking Ironteeth himself, first with his bow, and then by kicking over a brazier in hopes of igniting him. This attempt is successful, and Ironteeth is severely burned, but he proceeds to take out his anger on Tam'elanath. Lythanis, who to this point had been on the edges of combat assisting with psionic abilities, now finds himself up close to Ironteeth, and attacks, but is soon struck down as well. Typhus stabilizes Mikhal with the magic powder he traded from Bairwin earlier (identified as Woundstitch Powder) and moves to do the same to Tam'elanath and Lythanis, expending the powder completely. Zil'dejin, who had been around a corner, arrives to assist, and is able to get Morgue back on his feet. Ironteeth is able to fall the weakened Tam'elanath again and Typhus as well, but by this time the five standing have done enough damage. The finishing blow is dealt, and Ironteeth collapses. The party takes a moment to rest and help Mikhal recover, and then they search the cave for loot.

They find a note on Ironteeth, written in Goblin, and further within the cave they find some slightly magic gloves (Burglar's gloves, taken by Morgue, who else?), a set of magic armor (+1 Dwarven chainmail, taken by Zil'dejin) and a dark-colored flask scribed with runes, which Typhus identifies as the darkly arcane Prison of Salzacas, though he can't quite recall where he knows this information from. Tam'elanath cautiously takes the item, and the greedy but slightly misguided Typhus first steals all the iron braziers in the cavern, using a Tenser's Floating Disk ritual to lift them, then takes an armful of humanoid skulls from remains in the cave. Their task complete, the six return to Winterhaven.

A Visit to the Dragon Burial Site

Wir, Lharvion 18, 998 YK (Day 4)

Dawn breaks on a clear day. After they leave Wrafton’s Inn, Zil’dejin, Tam’elanath, Morgue and Typhus choose to explore town briefly before setting out to the alleged dragon burial site detailed in Eilian’s map. After hearing Winterhaven houses a resident wizard (Valthrun the Prescient), they seek to visit him and speak with him about acquiring magical supplies, and possibly obtain some information. Initially unable to locate him, Typhus attempts to deceive a passing citizen into telling them, and frustrated by his attempts to sway him, the citizen walks away, only to be accosted by Zil’dejin who aggressively threatens him into telling them where Valthrun can be found ("TELL ME WHERE THE WIZARD IS, YOU BASTARD"). They are pointed towards his tower, and they go there and knock on the door. He answers, but is of little help; he tells them any services he can provide are only for those he deems worthy to receive them. They leave, bound for the local smithy, where they encounter the paladin Mikhal Thanesman, who bears a strong contrast to the regular townsfolk with his armor and weaponry.

The group approaches him; Typhus seems a bit at odds with the idea of him being a paladin and a Knight Militant of the Silver Flame, saying he doesn't trust fanaticism or even most religions in general. Mikhal gives a rough outline of his purposes: he has been dispatched to Winterhaven by Theoban Flamerule, a Karrn agent of the Silver Flame, who claims that the minions of the Crimson Monastery and agents of King Kaius are both in Winterhaven. He has come to deal with a ritual that the Voice of the Silver Flame alleges to be taking place, and the hordes of demons and undead that will come in its wake. When the party explains their purposes, Mikhal decides they coincide with the party’s current direction, as he has no leads on his issue yet. He asks to go with them for the time being, and the party welcomes him to come along with them to the dragon burial site. The blacksmith, a dwarf named Thair Coalstriker, is irritated by their loitering and shoos them out of his shop.

After this, they depart back along the King’s Road, which branches to the dragon burial site a small distance from the town. On the way they are once again ambushed by Kobolds, this time a somewhat tougher group than the last. The five engage them in combat, and are struggling somewhat as Mikhal, attempting to defend his new companions in the greatest traditions of the self-sacrificing Knights Militant, falls to the ground injured, thus collapsing their main defensive line. As the party struggles to stay standing, a passing Kalashtar arrives at the scene of the battle. He asks what’s happening, and amidst the panic, the party offers a brief explanation. The Kalashtar, who identifies himself as the psion Lythanis, offers to help resolve the battle, and assists in killing the kobolds using his abilities. Now secure, the party is able to tend to Mikhal’s wounds, and they talk with Lythanis briefly, who simply gives the vague explanation that he is wandering. Zil’dejin (and to a lesser degree, the rest of the party) is somewhat distrustful of him, but the usefulness of his rare abilities are undeniable. They ask him if he would like to accompany them, and he replies that he will, though on a highly temporary basis as it happens to suit him. Now six strong, the group continues along the road.

Eventually, they come upon the site. It goes down into the earth, a giant unnatural crater with the unearthed remains of a dragon in the center, which is surrounded by humanoid figures and a pair of guard drakes. From further in the site, the party hears the voice of Delphina Moongem, calling them to examine the discovery up close. As Delphina is familiar and the cautious group determines that the humanoids below do not appear to be hostile, they approach, with Tam’elanath, Typhus, and Lythanis remaining cautiously at the edges of the crater in case anything goes awry. Zil’dejin, Morgue and Mikhal lead the advance into the crater, where their fears come to pass; Delphina calls an attack, and the guard drakes leap into action, savagely biting at the three who entered first. From here, a battle ensues; human workers, little more than worker drones, are pulled into the fray, with support from a Halfling with a sling atop the cliff, and Delphina herself.

The party struggles, briefly, as both Zil’dejin and Mikhal hit the ground, but Zil’dejin is able to recover and lends aid to Mikhal. They both stand and, with assistance from the nimble Morgue get back into full capacity, fight off the drakes who are finished off by Tam’elanath’s daring attack with two arrows, where each one pierces the skull of a different Drake. They eliminate the humans, and then finally, Delphina herself, who collapses and morphs back into her true form: a female Changeling. After dealing with the last remnant of the gang (the Halfling slinger), the party investigates the Changeling. They remove a suspicious note from her body apparently describing the same rib mentioned by Eilian, and the rib itself, wrapped in silk. Morgue takes the both of them, believing them important. Typhus, for reasons best left uninvestigated, removes the Changeling’s clothing.

After further searching, the party discovers the body of a human not seen during the fight, clutching a bow and near a rusted short sword. They discover his amulet, an amulet of healing +1, engraved with the initials “D.S.” The party makes the connection: this must be the body of Douven Staul. Mikhal Thanesman takes this and wears it, in honor of Douven’s memory. They also discover his longbow, which they determine to be enchanted: a Flameburst Longbow +1. The bow is taken by Tam’elanath. The party then takes some time to examine the dragon skeleton, and Typhus attempts to remove the skull, believing it valuable. The party tries to dissuade him, but he refuses to listen and continues straining himself to extract the skull. Eventually, feeling the need to leave the burial site, Zil’dejin pries off the skull with ease and hands it to Typhus, who struggles a little under its weight. After talking him down from trying to take more parts of the skeleton, the party returns to Winterhaven by evening.

Here, they report back to Eilian the Old, who thanks them for their efforts in finding Douven, but expresses the idea that their mission for the king may not be finished just yet. He tells them to speak with Valthrun regarding the nature of the rib and the accompanying note, as Eilian has little knowledge of matters of the arcane. The party takes him up on this offer; Typhus steals the third sinister rib from Morgue’s bag, and presents it to Valthrun at his tower (where Morgue is deeply offended that Typhus would steal from him, but not especially surprised). Valthrun says he is not certain about what the rib is, or what its purpose might be, but offers to study it for them. The party accepts, and he tells them to come back later. Typhus shows him the dragon’s skull; he has no interest in purchasing it. In light of the party’s efforts, however, he offers to sell anyone interested some rituals if they so desire. They pass on this offer for the time being, and they head back to Wrafton’s Inn to rest for the night (stopping on the way to unsuccessfully try to sell Thair Coalstriker, the dwarven smith, the dragon skull - he vigorously refuses and is frustrated by Typhus' constant attempts at sale) and give Valthrun time to study the rib.

The Outset

Zul, Lharvion 17, 998 YK (Day 3).

In the morning, Tam’elanath, Morgue, Zil’dejin, and Typhus gather outside the bowyer shop. Here, they are quickly approached by an unidentified woman carrying the two halves of the pearl discarded by the party the day before. Faint, unfamiliar markings can be seen on the inside surface of the pearl. The unknown woman asks them if the fragments belong to them, to which the party responds by collectively pointing at Morgue.
She then asks them if they would like to serve their king. The party is somewhat hesitant at first – Typhus seems directly opposed to the idea. "I acknowledge no such king," he claims. "And I don't recognize his authority."

"Will we be rewarded?" asks Tam'elanath, and the woman responds that any rewards will be dependent on the degree of success in their task. Eventually, the group agrees to the task, and the woman tells them to go to Winterhaven, a town smaller than Lakeside at the base of the Icetop Mountains to the north. There, they are to meet with a man named Eilian the Old, and give him a certain passphrase and a copper coin with the head of King Kaius III printed on its surface.

They make their way across the field in front of Tam'elanath's hovel, which doubles as a marketplace on certain occasions, headed for Sandercot’s Provisioners on the other side to pick up some gear and sell some unneeded items before setting out. Before they cross, however, a group of street thugs belonging to the local gang, the Lake Rats, emerges from the Lucky Gnome Taphouse next to Tam’elanath’s shop, somewhat drunk and intent on fighting the party. At the same time, two elven archers who had previously been in hiding emerge from behind some empty carts next to Sandercot’s Provisioners, also prepared to fire upon the group.

The woman is caught up in the crossfire and is forced to help the four combat these opponents. She is severely injured in the process, but ultimately the party is victorious. Despite their investigative efforts, the party cannot determine the origin of the elves who attacked them, and the woman leaves them behind, prompting them to decide to leave town as soon as possible.

After finishing their business in Lakeside, the four set out northwest upon the King’s Road, bound for the Icetop Mountains and the town of Winterhaven. On the way, they are ambushed by kobolds, but they successfully fend them off. When their assailants have perished, they find an elven woman apparently being held captive, tied up against a tree. She identifies herself as Delphina Moongem, a flower seller and citizen of Winterhaven. The party frees her after deciding she is not a threat, and escorts her back to Winterhaven without further incident.

The guard at the gate directs them to Wrafton’s Inn, where they can secure lodging. They go there, and speak to the proprietor, Salvana Wrafton, inquiring about Eilian the Old. She directs them to Eilian, who is present and occupying a table in the corner. The adventurers go to sit with him, and speak with him about the local area, but are apparently wracked with forgetfulness and for a time are unable to recall the pass phrase given to them earlier. Eventually, Zil'dejin remembers the phrase: "Do the local birds need a map to know which way the wind blows?" It as at this point that they realize they don’t have a copper coin with them. Typhus is able to conjure a temporary false coin, and Eilian deems this sufficient. He tells them of his last contact, Douven Staul, who has gone missing after going to investigate an apparent dragon burial site for something he called the “third sinister rib”, and asks them to search for him at a location he maps out.

The party agrees to search for Douven, eats a passable meal, and retires for the evening.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Prologue (II)

Mol, Lharvion 16, 998 YK (Day 2).

The trio awakes after a fitful sleep in the crypt, gather their wits, and head down the stairs leading out of the room. They arrive in another room with a sludge pit, where a slime-covered stone suspended from the ceiling and skulls are staked upon more caskets. They attempt to launch an attack on the kobolds playing some sort of game in this room, but find themselves somewhat overwhelmed at first, taking a few cracks to the skull with the tied stone being tossed back and forth by the kobolds on the ledges before them. The three eventually clean up the kobolds and the guard drakes awaiting them behind the door out of the room, patch themselves up, and proceed into a square room trapped with a rolling boulder and being overseen by a kobold Wyrmpriest.

Many kobolds occupy the room, and a spiretop drake flies about, but the three are able to temporarily placate it by scattering gold coins about, distracting it for a time. They are eventually succesful in clearing the room, and though they discover a magic staff (identified as a +1 Staff of the War Mage) on the body of the Wyrmpriest, they are unable to locate the dragonhide that Teldorthan asked them to retrieve.

They locate a key and a note indicating it is to be used in an apparent dead-end alcove in the same room, and they use it where indicated, opening a hidden door leading to some stairs. They follow the stairs, and the stone walls dissipate into rough caverns. Here, they find the temperature unnaturally cold, with a frozen pool of water in the middle.

As they proceed a bit further, they find a Tiefling wizard chained to the wall. Morgue, in pursuit of justice and in the name of racial solidarity, frees the wizard, who identifies himself as Typhus. He explains he has been caught by a disguised changeling he met in Irontown, who tricked him and put him to sleep. When he awakened, he was  shackled in this cavern. He has been able to identify the "protector" of the kobolds here: a young white dragon named Szartharrax. At this point, the dragon emerges from further within the cave, and attacks the four gathered there. After a long battle and some close brushes with death, they are ultimately victorious, and Zil'dejin deals the finishing blow to Szartharrax. They then discover his nest, containing a +1 Lifedrinker Longsword (taken by Zil'dejin), a pearl in a bag (pearl taken by Morgue, bag taken by Typhus), and the dragon hide they sought, as well as some gold coins.

They return to Lakeside late in the evening, and return the dragon hide to Teldorthan who rewards them They return to Lakeside late in the evening, and return the dragon hide to Teldorthan who rewards them for their efforts and dismisses them promptly, preferring to spend as little time as possible with Tam’elanath. They move towards Sandercot’s Provisioners to perhaps try and sell of the pearl, but on the way there, it breaks open to reveal a rolled scrap of parchment inside, with Draconic script upon it. Zil’dejin reads it, and identifies that it is not written by a native speaker of the language, but is addressed to Szartharrax signaling a monster uprising on Lakeside, to be initiated by an individual named “Ironteeth” from what is only referred to as the “Winterhaven Stronghold.”

The party considers following up on this lead, but first retires back to Tam’elanath’s hovel for some much deserved rest. Typhus, having nowhere else to stay and having been of great help in the battle against Szartharrax, joins them, but is forced to sleep in the shed with Zil'dejin. Hereafter Typhus would never speak of this again.

The Prologue (I)

Sul, Lharvion 15, 998 YK (Day 1).

A local hunter and repeat customer of Tam'elanath is currently in the bowyer's shop, acquiring a new string for his bow. He mentions he's heard of some troubles being experienced by Teldorthan Goldcap, a dwarf who runs the local blacksmith and armory. He, too, is a customer of Tam'elanath, primarily for his low prices (accounted for by his relatively poorly-made bows) and a business acquaintance as a result.

He discusses this briefly with Zil'dejin and Morgue, and agreeing that it is a slow day even in comparison to the normal lack of business, the three close up shop early and cross the bridge south to visit Teldorthan's shop.

When they arrive and inquire, he explains the situation: he recently sent for a cart of goods to be shipped down from the town of Winterhaven to the northwest, but the cart never arrived. He discovered that it was waylaid by a group of Kobolds occupying a long-abandoned manor along the road near Lakeside, located in a small wooded area referred to as the Cloak Wood by locals. He explains that the majority of the goods were mundane and easily expendable, but the cart also contained a rare piece of dragonhide, which he intended to craft into armor. He offers a reward for its return.

Low on funds and just a touch greedy, Zil'dejin, Morgue and Tam'elanath agree that this is an excellent opportunity to make a bit of extra coin. Armed with a very crudely drawn map given to them by Teldorthan, they  leave along the King's Road to the nearby Cloak Woods, taking a shortcut facilitated by Tam'elanath's knowledge of the surrounding natural area. They arrive at the so-called "Kobold Hall" in the early evening.

Zil'dejin recalls that the Hall was once owned by a minor lord in the area who has now been all but forgotten, and the place is now overrun by kobolds and the surrounding vegetation. The areas above ground are all but entirely ruined.

Though all three have had adventuring experience, they have been settled in Lakeside for several months (years in Tam'elanath's case), and are relatively uncertain about how to proceed. Taking the cautious approach, Tam'elanath sneaks carefully up to the door and looks into the keyhole, only to find it so riddled with dust that this is of no use. Zil'dejin, irritated by this unnecessary display of discretion, attempts to kick the door open only tro be hit by the recoil and falls to the ground. Meanwhile, Morgue attempts to scale the remains of the building, only to find the second floor completely in shambles; nothing useful remains. Finally, Zil'dejin thinks to just open the door, and the party descends into the recesses of the areas below.

They first encounter a room with a pit full of sludge, where they battle a number of kobolds. Clearing this without much difficulty, they arrive at a room apparently once used as a crypt, with caskets in the middle and very old suits of armor in niches on either side of the room. They are injured several times by these trapped suits of armor while the kobolds taunt them. When the battle ends, they push open a few coffin lids to see if anything useful remains, and Morgue finds a bag for an offering on an unidentified religious altar, holding 60 gold pieces. He steals this and takes all the money for himself.

Exhausted by this out-of-the-ordinary burst of activity, they disturbingly sleep for six hours within the newly-secured crypt.

Before It All Begins...

Tam'elanath Edroin, a wild elf from the Zultena, a forest-dwelling warclan of elves in the southeastern peninsula of Valenar, failed his coming-of-age rite of passage. He was shamed, and left the tribe in 994 YK: the midst of the dying days of the Last War. He departed bound for the battlefields of Cyre, but when he arrived he found the nation already torn asunder by the Mourning. From here, he traveled north, eventually arriving at the town of Lakeside in Karrnath. Sick of travelling, he settled here and used his hunting experience to make a humble living selling hand-crafted bows. Due to his lack of any kind of formal education and minimal world experience, his intelligence was not regarded very highly by the townspeople, but they were generally warm and accepting of him.

In spring of 998 YK, when going to retrieve some materials from the shed beside his home, he found an armored Dragonborn passed out within, apparently recovering from a night of drinking at the Lucky Gnome Taphouse near the house. After a while, the Dragonborn, Zil'dejin Firebane, awoke hungover and probably still a little bit intoxicated, and so reacted somewhat harshly to Tam'elanath's early-morning prying, with a lot of yelling and some sluggish thrashing. After some hurried negotiation, accompanied by hand gestures and diagrams, the situation is resolved, and Zil'dejin explains he has come to town looking for work. Tam'elanath hires him as a rope binder and string fitter for his bows, though due to his lack of Dragonborn-sized accommodations, Zil'dejin is forced to sleep in the shed.

The next day, a Tiefling passed through town, his identity covered by a dark hood and accompanying cloak. This Tiefling, who identifies himself only as Morgue, hears about the commotion that had taken place at Tam'elanath's shop the day before between the town's resident and a belligerent Dragonborn; a species which is not native or at all common in Lakeside. He investigated, to discover what he believed was an entirely different situation - he suspected Tam'elanath had enslaved Zil'dejin, and was keeping him locked in the shed. Morgue, appalled, demanded justice from Tam'elanath, and reacted with hostility. When the situation had been resolved, Morgue was deeply apologetic for his unjust attack against the two, and swore an oath of debt: a kind of protection pact, where he would accompany them until such time as he believed his misgiving repaid.

From there, the three lived in the already-cramped space of Tam'elanath's hovel and shop combination in the quiet town of Lakeside. But people like these are tied inextricably to fate, and cannot lay low for long...