Dark Star

Victory, at a Cost

Underpriest's Deception; Closing the Portal; The Blood.

The party continues to the second level of the Keep on the Shadowfell. The air is noticeably colder, and the shadows more substantial. The party casts various light-emitting spells to keep the darkness at bay.

The elven-kind and kobald go through rooms of ghouls and zombies, easily slaying the undead and looting the godforsaken keep.

The party come upon a room of goblins, sleeping. They capture one, and Dag kills the rest with dynamite. The goblin speaks to Meier, and they learn that the next room is the “Room of Swords”. Kaze and Dag see Lillith dart into the next room. Dag throws dynamite after her.

The party exit into the room with a statue of the lord of this Keep, Lord Keegan, presumably an ancestor of Lord Padrig. He has a sword and shield, both point down.

The part evades a spinning blades trap.

The party tries to heal after this encounter, and finds the effects of divine potions of healing to be noticeably dampened. Anza’er explains that this effect is due to the area being affected by shadow and negative energies. Meier speculates that Kalarel could be trying to reach an outer plane, but the party isn’t sure if this would be a goal, or the means to achieving some other goal.

The shadows grow as the party ponders and discusses.

Ren can sense nothing about these energies using psionics, which is highly unsual.

The party chases a homunculus which had been spying on them through two massive doors, past a massive gelded relief of Tiamat fighting Bahamut. The metal has been twisted and rended by supernatural claws.

There are abyssal runes over the doorway, cover older ones in draconic. Anza’er thinks they are praising the demon princes.

The party enters a room with a basin overflowing with blood, collecting in streams and flowing to the center of the room, where a dark chasm flows rivers of blood to the levels below. An underpriest of Orcus and a few acolytes and zombies look surprised, but are quickly overwhelmed. There appears to be no warning given to those left at the bottom of the hole, as the homunculus was slain as well.

The party discovers the coat of arms of the Lord of this keep, the diary of the underpriest, a wide-brimmed hat with Padrig’s coat of arms, a diagram of Winterhaven, and a scroll of stone wall.

After reading the diary, the party discovers that one of the final stages of Kalarel‘s plan for Winterhaven included replacing the mayor with the underpriest, using the hat of disguise. The party doesn’t know how long this has gone on, or what happened to the real Padrig.

The half-elven dignitary draws a slim ornamental dagger, and sockets a tiny vial into a slot near the blade. He dons the hat, and instantly appears to all as the Orcus underpriest. The drow skald applies his personal poison to his bolts and blades, and starts humming softly to himself. The dark fey peers at his spellbook, inscrutable. He collects the dragon-shaped statuettes from the party members. The female kyotaran knight stands still, one hand on her slim two-handed sword, staring stoically at the chasm in the floor.

The architecture changes from that of a keep devoted to Bahamut, the Dragon God, to a strange pure alabaster/marble material, in a swooping, detailed, monumental style. The party can see a few columns, huge stairways, and a raised rune-inscribed platform below, on which the blood is pooling from above. There are chains dropping down, almost touching the pool. Kaze inspects the basin of blood ichor, and reaches inside to grab a crystal. He pulls out a gigantic jewel-like object, and blood ichor seemingly drains from it into the young noble. The blood stops flowing from the basin.

The party can hear child-like singing, echoing from below, supernaturally loud and resonating.

Kaze drops below with barely a sound. The party covers him with ranged weapons. Appearing to all in the chamber below (seemingly) as the Orcus underpriest, no alarm is raised. Kaze begins distracting Kalarel with a report of slaying the party of adventurers in the room above, and approaches him. At the base of the stairs, Kalarel seems offended and suspicious when Kaze doesn’t supplicate as he gets a little too close to the Orcus priest.

The party feather falls below to the blood pool, and draw weapons. They see a huge portal ascribed with Athasian runes. There is a pool of shadow in the portal, with tendrils of darkness whipping out around the edges. Zombies and wights around the edges of the room descend upon the party, and Kaze uses the opportunity to run up to the pedestal unnoticed, where Kalarel is chanting from a spellbook. As he gets there, Kalarel appears to have finished, and the book disappears in a flash of purple fire. He darts past Kaze and tries to engage the samurai in battle, not knowing that she is a ronin who remains a general of her imperial military. Kaze stabs Kalarel in the back twice with his long knife, applying both of his poisons. Kalarel realizes that his only remaining allies are his undead.

Ren issues a samurai challenge to Kalarel. She stomps with psionic fury. Then she flashes her blade.

Kalarel runs backwards to let the remaining undead distract the party.

Meier has been hiding in the shadows throughout this fight, using the statues as a magical source to begin a ritual to close the portal.

Dag and Anza’er have been darting among the pillars, shooting crossbow bolts at the zombies clumsily trying to locate their snipers.

The drow draws his scimitar and long knife, both crafted of a curious exotic design and material, and joins the fray with the stomping screaming kyotaran. Anza’er begins a battle chant, identifying weaknesses of Kalarel and the wights to the group.

The party don’t really notice until this point that there is a monstrous statue on the opposite side of the room from the portal. The source of the steadily louder singing that has flitted across the background noise, supernaturally resonating in the mind, appears to be Lillith, dancing in a circle in front of this statue.

Kalarel grabs out and manipulates dark tendrils from the portal to lash out at the party. Some hit Ren, some hit Anza’er. Kalarel succeeds at a full negative energy touch attack at Kaze. He tries to use another dark tendril, and Lillith reaches out and pulls it from his grasp. She laughs wickedly, and only then does Kalarel seem to notice her presence. His face becomes a mask of shock and fear, and he is lashed with a tendril of shadow. Another latches around his ankle, and pulls him in front of the pool of darkness. The singing by this point has become more of a piercing scream. And Lillith is still dancing and laughing.

The wounded kyotaran noble channels his ancestor’s wrath, expending half of his total ki and his psionic focus to push Kalarel in a burst of force into the portal. He lands partway inside the darkness. An arm with a wicked greatsword plunges down and skewers Kalarel, dragging him inside. Out steps Soren, the drow deathknight, and member of the Cerulean Censures. He appears surprised to see the party. Anza’er and Meier explain their presence, and their activity here. They explain Kalarel’s plans, and what the kobold and the kyotarans are doing with them. Kaze steps up to Lillith , who has stopped chanting and dancing, and explains what happened with the blood ichor. She says, “I never thought I would see him again…” and only then does Soren appear to notice her. She flies off in a cloud of bats, and Soren looks anxious. He strides back into the portal, and Meier completes the ritual using the dragon statuettes. The portal closes, and appears to be a partial ring of alabaster inscribed with runes, filled with nothing but air.

The party takes a few interesting items from Kalarel, and investigate the statue closer. It appears to be… a Daemon. The party decide to leave immediately. They gather at the front of the keep, the only doorway, and use the scroll of wall of stone to blockade the Keep on the Shadowfell.

The party slowly walk back to Winterhaven, weighed down by loot, wounds, questions, dreams, and a lingering taint of shadow.

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