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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A Couple of Spiffy Kyotarans
Sibling rivalry; A kobold's new tricks; Back to the Keep.

After dealing with Nineran, the party meets at Lord Padrig’s office. He introduces the party to Vizier Aka’Tsuchi, a representative of Kyotaran noble house Ishii, and his protege Kaze Ishii. Ren recognizes Kaze as her little brother. The vizier is checking in on Ren, on behalf of her Ishii family, and making sure she remains befitting to house Ishii. Guardian spirits accompany her, and she has grown in psionic wisdom since she set out from home. She mentions that she was briefly with Douvan Stahl, and the vizier seems to be satisfied that Ren is doing productive work here in Brentwood. Both the vizier and Kaze, though, are in agreement that Kaze will now accompany Ren, to finish his training and help her in hers.

After introductions, Kaze tries to speak alone with the eladrin spellcaster. He doesn’t glean much, or get very far. Meier is distant. Kaze notices that one of the party members is a drow, who he sees as a demon worshiping dark-elf abomination/monster. Kaze becomes cautious about the party, and asks his sister about the group’s activities. Kaze learns about the various threats to the area, and is momentarily satisfied with the arrangement.

The party travel back to the Keep on the Shadowfell without incident. Upon walking up to the doors, they happen upon Dag, who no one had noticed had been missing. He shows off the new fire-snake traps wrapped around his arms. Kaze is even more wary of Anzae’ar after watching the two together.

The party sneaks downstairs, and rush a dining room full of goblins. Dag uses a flashbang to stun the room, then the rest are finished off by the party’s ranged weapons and Ren’s psionic stomp attack.

Kaze becomes psionically awakened by a connection to his sister, and is able to manifest his chosen weapon as a weapon of psionic energy, at will.

After busting through an illusory wall that the party discovers, Meier turns a room full of goblins into shadows. The shadows at the edges of the room grow momentarily dark and substantial, and Meier’s staff incorporates him in a blot of ebon substance. The planar foundations of this area become weaker.

Dag happily fights his way through the waves of goblins, collecting ears as he goes.

Kaze becomes wary of a mentioned vampire girl named Lillith that may show up at sometime. Who was apparently captured by Kalerel, for use in his ritual…

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Crazy Dreams and a Half-Elf Bitch

Mountains rested in the background, a blue moon and bright stars hanging in the night sky. A lone figure stands in the emptiness. The figure brandished a serrated two-bladed greatsword, was armored in melted black wrought-iron armor with plates fused together, a tattered cloak whipping different directions in the wind behind him, and a helm fixed from a blackened reptilian skull crowned his head.

Then the figure spoke. “You must save her.”

After these words a colossal dragon came up over the mountain ridge. It had breath of black and gray clouds, its body was almost entirely obscured with the shadowy aura emanating from it, and it scales were black with a lavender sheen.

And then we woke up. And we all had the same dream.


After we all awoke we noticed that the door to the secret room we had stayed in was cracked. Mier noticed a shadow coming from one of the crates to seem off, so he attempted to use his shadow magic to mess with it. And out jumped Nago.

The cat explained that Lillith had been discovered and was currently being held hostage by Kalarel. Kalarel seemed to be having problems opening the gate to the Shadowfell, and had sent Nineran back to Winterhaven on a mission.

We decided to track Nineran down and save the town. If Kalarel is having problems we have time.


We approach the town and Padrig and his guard are guarding the gate. Without time to deal with much we ask if he had seen Nineran and explained that she is behind the problems the town has been having. “That bitch!” Padrig seemed unhappy about this.

Somehow we knew to go to the cemetery.

Encounter:

The fence surrounding it was ten feet high. We decided to circle it and look for any weaknesses. We found one on the right wall. Looking through we could see two hounds guarding a tomb and a ritual circle. We decided to use this spot to enter the cemetery so Mier could get closer to the aura. Soren and Dag enter first. Dag takes two arrows to the chest and is almost dead already. Soren is able to determine that Nineran is using a building for cover from the direction of fire.

There is a horde of skeletons in the graveyard who are now all focused on us. Dag is hidden from all of them but they know the rest of us are there. Over the next few rounds the skeletons loose arrows in our direction but have little luck finding targets. Nineran gets hit by Mier’s magic missiles and decideds to take cover further aways. Soren is able to catch her with a couple of poisoned bolts, but she is able to shake off the effects. After Mier finishes with the ritual the skeletons drop and we are able to make quick work of Nineran.

On Nineran’s body we find a note from Kalarel explaining how to create the ritual circle, with direct instructions on killing the party. He also left another passphrase: “From the ground some magic was found.”

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Balgron the Fat

After interrogating the tortured goblin we decided to take care of their leader, Balgron the Fat, and use his demise to our advantage in future encounters. The goblin also gave us a rough idea of the map so we would could make educated decisions on where to continue.

Encounter:

Soren and Dag sneaked down a hallway. The room at the end of the hallway had tapestries hanging over two exits. Peeking around the left corner we saw two goblins playing cards. Soren shot poisoned bolts at both goblins and Dag sneak attacked one of them. We attempted to take them out quietly but the scuffle turned into a couple of rounds of combat.

We all took positions awaiting more monsters to come through the tapestries. MTS created a choke point at the south tapestry while Mier took pot shots at her victims. Soren and Dag teamed up against the goblins at the north tapestry.

Balgron decided to be a pussy and try to hide and attack from a distance. After finishing the minions Soren and Dag went around the corner to meet the leader face-to-face. After a quick scuffle Balgron was beheaded by Soren.

We found two keys on Balgron’s body but Dag had picked the lock to Balgron’s chambers before we needed one of them. We assume the other to be for a locked zombie-infested room that the tortured goblin told us about.

We also found a passphrase that we believe will help us on the next level of the keep:
“And life fails in the dark.”


The next room we new was an excavation site based on the information given to us from the tortured goblin. As we approached the site we could hear the goblins arguing about not finding any treasure here.

Encounter 2:

The party walked into the room casually, expecting this to be quick and bloodless.

Soren raises Balgron’s head and exclaims, “Your leader is dead, surrender or die.” The few goblins in the room immediately put down their pickaxes, but the two drakes attacked us. The goblins asked if we would let them live if they helped us kill the drakes. We agreed, and consequently didn’t even have to lift our own weapons.

We stripped the goblins of any of their findings. The most important was a small bust of Bahamut.

What we know about this bust:

  • Very out of place, dragons have not been active on the material plane in over 2,000 years.
  • Worship of dragons is outlawed in most of the world.
  • Bahamut has a particularly vitriolic piece of dogma concerning Orcus. All sentient dragons refer to Orcus as the Defiler. Worshipers of Bahamut will attack worshipers of Orcus on sight.

After the excavation site we decided to explore a hidden room from Balgron’s chambers. The room was a natural cave with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites and fallen stalactites littering the floor, causing a lot of difficult terrain.

Encounter 3:

Upon entering we were immediately attacked by rats. After a couple of rounds an ochre jelly rounded the corner. It was a rather tough fight, and once we started doing noticeable damage the jelly split into another ooze. After this the fight seemed to go rather quickly.

In the middle of the room we discovered a small chamber. In it was a bedroll and miscellaneous gear. We decided this would be our best bet of camping out rather than returning to the town to rest.

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The Second Room: Torture Chamber

After contemplating on several routes to continue, we (hesitantly) looked to Dag for his suggestion, as he is versed in dungeoneering. We decided to take the hall without a known door.

The hall cornered at about 25 feet, and Dag and Soren peeked around the corner. After seeing no one they sneaked into the extending room (estimating 50′ × 40′). There was a blood trail leading from the western door to the northern door, where we could hear muffled voices coming from. Soren decided to check out the room that the bloody body had been dragged from. Upon entering the door creaked very loudly and the room to the north immediately went quiet. Soren motioned for the others to take positions (MTS and Meier took stance at the south end of the room and Dag prepared himself in the northwest corner to remain out of sight) while he checked the western room. Someone was obviously beaten or tortured here, but nothing else of interest was found.

Encounter

With the others in position, Soren kicked in northern door. It was immediately obvious that this was a torture room; a hallway opened to three jail cells on the west of the room, a fire pit was at the far north, shackles lined the walls, an iron maiden was to the immediate right of the entrance, and the room was covered in blood.

A goblin warrior attempted to grab Soren (to throw him into the iron maiden) but failed and immediately shifted out of immediate reach. Dag prepared himself to attack the first enemy to exit the door. Soren took a shot with his crossbow at a hobgoblin torturer at the other end of the room, being the obviously most dangerous threat, but the monster was able to shake off the poison. Meier sent two magic missiles after the goblin that caught it in the face and chest, obviously bloodying the grunt. MTS charged at the goblin and finished it off swiftly with her katana; the goblin’s two halves fell at her feet. A brutally scarred hobgoblin torturer smeared himself with blood, which seemed to empower his armor, and took charge at MTS, missing her with the attack but managing to push her back with the bull rush. The next couple of rounds consisted of harrying the torturer with attacks, many of which slid off his empowered armor, but the party was eventually able to take him down, after MTS took ungodly amounts of damage from the brute. After the party took down the hobgoblin they quickly finished off the three goblin sharpshooters remaining in the room. Soren was able to stabilize the last one dropped for interrogation.

After Session

We still need to loot the bodies and search for treasure (keep the hobgoblin’s bad ass armor in mind), question the torture victim, a goblin named Splug, and interrogate the surviving goblin crossbowman.

Bloodcut hide armor – we need to get this fitted for Dag.

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The First Room

We come upon the keep and find an entrance with stairs leading down.

Encounter:

Soren sent Dag in first, following shortly behind the kobold expendable. We were very quiet but a goblin saw our legs and tried to take off. Soren was able to fire a poisoned bolt to subdue the goblin. We finished sneaking into the room without catching any other attention. Soren slit the goblin’s throat and pulled it around the corner to avoid anyone else from noticing it.

The main room we were in was square, with hallways on each side, and had pillars five to ten feet from each corner with a 20×20 rug in the center.

Dag hid behind one of the pillars as Soren hid behind the wall connected to the hallway directly across from the entrance. Ishii and Mier joined the fight when two more goblins came to the hall to investigate. Soren moved to see down a side hall where he heard noise from and spotted a goblin, which he promptly blinded in one eye by means of another poisoned bolt. The bastard was able to shake off the poison after a few seconds and attempted to attack Soren from around one of the pillars, afraid to get too close to the demon who depraved him of depth perception.

The other two goblins were using the opposite end of the hall as cover while they took pop shots at the group. Dag attempted twice to notice any traps under the rug. Without caring to wait any longer Ishii decided to try to clear the rug so she could use Iujutsu on one of the goblins. Upon failure to clear she fell into the pit to be immediately swarmed by rats. Meanwhile Meir used Magic Missile to hack away at the goblins. Soren was able to catch one of the goblins with a crossbow bolt and teleport him and Ishii (out of the pit) to flank the goblin. After this we made quick work of the two goblins.

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March to the Keep

During our trek to the keep we happened upon a group of halflings, little annoying cannibalistic bastards. After a short fight we took care of all of them. A tree and a couple halfings were set on fire, and at some point throughout this encounter Ishii adopted the title Mighty Tree Slayer.

We interrogated one of the halflings but got nothing interesting out of him. We left him there to be shamed before his god. None of the halflings escaped.

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On the Way Back

Before we left Irontooth’s lair we found some dwarven chainmail. Upon investigation we decide that the armor, along with the mirror previously found, are out of place on the Prime Material.

Encounter

We came upon a camp of kobolds. Soren intimidated the group into lowering their weapons by showing Irontooth’s tooth and announcing their leader’s death. A wyrmpriest then exited a tent to speak for the group, who had a dragon figurine like the one we found previously, also with a symbol of Orcus etched into it. Four of the kobolds took flight and Soren immediately Faerie Fired the wyrmpriest and failed an attempt to subdue the shaman with a poisoned crossbow bolt. The wyrmpriest slit it’s own throat in attempt to avoid interrogation, but Soren was able to stabilize him. None of the kobolds were able to escape.

Upon interrogation of the wyrmpriest we discovered that they were Irontooth’s personal guard and were dispatched to take us out.

The wyrmpriest died of shock or blood loss after a short time.

Back in Town

We spoke with Padrig about everything that happened. We were rewarded for eliminating the threat of Irontooth and his kobolds. We also made Padrig aware of the supplies left at Irontooth’s cave, enough to arm the town sufficiently.

Upon further conversation with the mayor we learn that the townspeople have been having traumatizing nightmares and waking up outside town walls. 13 people in three days have been affected, and Valthrun and Ellian were the first to report these visions.

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Irontooth's Lair

Encounter:

We used the waterfall to our advantage and planned our assault against the enemies inside the cave. Lillith snuck into the cave, leaving Soren Anza’er with a heavy cloak to cover his drow crossbow. Using drow darkvision Soren was able to make out most creatures in the cave, and we were able to plan the rest of the surprise attack with this knowledge. Soren shot a hobgoblin with his crossbow, causing immediate problems to the hobgoblin with drow poison. Ishii then immediately charged in toward the hobgoblin, but changed direction when she spotted Irontooth (who we previously presumed to be a goblin), a brutish hobgoblin with an iron tooth in place of one of his teeth. Within two rounds Ishii took out Irontooth, attacking first with Iujutsu and finishing him with a barrage of other telekenetic martial attacks, destroying the morale of the other two hobgoblins and the kobolds. The two hobgoblins gutted themselves and the kobolds surrendered. One offered his allegiance to us, which we have decided to accept for now.

After the commotion we have three kobold prisoners (reluctant to drop weapons and refuse to leave) who we will take back to Winterhaven; the townspeople can decide their fate. We picked up a kobold Rogue, named Dag. We also found two slave girls who we will also return to the town.

We found a note on Irontooth’s body:

The gnome skulk has been successful. All of the artifacts except for the mirror have been recovered and the excavation of the lower keep have been completed. My agent in Winterhaven will bring you your payment shortly. Hail to Orcus."
- Signed Kalarel

Upon mention of the agent Ishii had an epiphany of the elf Soren was speaking with at the tavern in Winterhaven. Her name is Ninaran.

The cave is full of equipment that can be used to equip the town guard as well. We will return to Winterhaven with the news of Irontooth’s death, a few kobold prisoners, and the slaves that were being trafficked.

Notes:

  • There’s a band of slavers in the area looking for our party (we’re doing some right!).
  • Hobgoblin slavers are operating (rather organized) in the Nentir Vale.
  • Dag – Level 2 Kobold Rogue
  • Find Ninaran and/or make Padrig aware of her treachery.
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Behind the Waterfall

Before leaving the burial site the characters continued to talk with Douven Stahl. It was discussed that he was doing research for the Empire of Kyotaru.

We found an Athasian-made mirror. The design matched Lillith’s broach. We compared our trinkets (mirror, locket, and dragon figurine) for similarities. So far no connections, but we need to do some research at the wizard tower in Winterhaven.

From here we decided to trek directly to the waterfall.

Encounter:
During our initial battle at the waterfall on of the kobolds we were battling screamed “Irontooth must be warned!” and attempted to run to the cave, presumable to tell Irontooth directly of our presence. Nago was able to stop and kill the kobold before any warning was given.

We drew a second group of kobolds out by having Meier use prestigiditation and mimic a cry for help. We ambushed and slaughtered this group by taking advantage of a ritual zone the previous group had used, granting us attack bonuses.

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