Schemes of the Lich King

Episode 15: The Secrets of the Ice Harp
The castle reveals new horrors but also new allies.

Not long after facing the horrific demonic entity in the caverns near the castle spas, the adventurers decided to double back to the spa and rest there for a few hours, regaining their strength. Whatever foul creatures seemed to inhabit the castle, seemed to keep away from the spas and bath area.

While taking one of the watches for the night, Glaedwin Longclef and Saerid Turquoise began hearing some unusual noises on the other side of the door and noticed a strange, paranormal mist that began to permeate from underneath the frame. Waking the others, they asked their resident wizard, Dracovel Kilvesh what he could determine and all he was able to provide was that it was supernatural.

Opening the door, Glaedwin was confronted by the spirit of Nonnette, his deceased fiance. Looking pale and ghostly, as well as more haunting than his past visions of her had been, she was clearly trying to speak but it was if she was prevented by some force. When she finally used the energy to break whatever enchantment had been holding her back, she began to provide the group with extremely distressing news. She explained that the Lich King had uncovered the secrets of something called the Soul Forge and was using it to siphon off spirits and souls, destined to the afterlife, and using them to power some horrible plan. Whereas he still needed certain parts to fully power this evil artifact, the horrors he would be able to unleash if he were to make it operational would be unimaginable. Sadly, she admitted that she, herself, was in danger of being brought into his dominion. Shortly after revealing this, she was pulled back into whatever realm she was in.

Packing up and continuing the quest, the adventurers pushed forward, trying to address the situation at hand. Glaedwin, however, did his best to send along a note, using the Prince’s Pouch to the Prince of Shadows, informing him of the Lich King’s plans.

Finding a former schoolroom and library, the characters were attacked by a small demon as well as a gang of vile Tooth Fairies. Whereas the demon was not overly powerful, his Tooth Fairy followers did enough damage by attacking teeth and fingers with rusty and grotesque pliers. Dispatching them, the adventurers moved on until they came to a chamber being guarded by powerful undead, seemingly guarding a statue. Upon ridding themselves of the zombies, the statue was revealed as a statue of Flyght, a dragon. The inscription on the small statue read that Flyght was a ‘smiter of evil.’ This was, at least, some good news in that most everything they had come across was tragic as of late. If only this Flyght were somewhere nearby . . .

Pressing on, more rooms underneath the castle were explored but little was discovered until they came to a lounge. This lounge, based upon all the evidence discovered by Suriveth Varune, likely once belonged to the famed minstrel, Rowena, as evidenced by her Ice Harp that was left on a display wheel in the room. Later, when confronted by a mysterious dead end that likely contained a magical secret door, the adventures determined that perhaps the Ice Harp was needed to open it. When they doubled back, grabbed the Ice Harp and had Suriveth play a few notes, the secret door did not open but something else happened. The bard Rowena appeared!

When Rowena appeared, she explained how she was living a new life with the beings known as the Protectors a race of eternal elves that provided magic to make the region of Moonwreck and Haven the pristine and beautiful place that it was. The evil that had corrupted the region was due to the Eye of Arik which had been accidentally brought in as an engagement gift to Princes Argenta for her upcoming wedding to Sir Ellis, the man who was seen riding the white dragon known as ‘Flyght.’ Further, she explained that a follower of the Diabolist, known as Carthus, was upstairs orchestrating this evil. Perhaps through an alliance with the entity known as ‘Arik,’ The Diabolist was trying to bring about the return of some sinister race.

Rowena could offer no more other than starting how the Eye of Arik could be destroyed. Either by bringing about Flyght (who was currently banished) or finding Ellis’ sword or summoning her back by playing a few notes on the Ice Harp, these ways would destroy the Eye of Arik. With that, she returned to whatever realm she had come from and showed them the secret entrance to the top level of the castle.

Episode 14: Exploring the Castle

The members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company slowly approached the palace of Princess Argenta. The palace reflected the same state of decay and desolation that the rest of the Moonwreck area had previously shown. A red light seemed to bathe the entire area with much of it seemingly originating with the inner sanctum of the palace. Sir Bellivin, their newest ally, was more than willing to assist as he seemed to have some knowledge of the palace, having been present recently..

As they approached, a mysterious figure was seen near the palace gatehouse. The figure was short and squat which immediately made Glaedwin Longclef think of the dreaded derro they had previously encountered. Glaedwin, understandably on edge, called out, aiming his bow at the stranger. However, as it turned out, the stranger was not a foe, but in fact a local dwarf named Saerid Turquoise, who immediately showed his proficiency with lightning magic. Once they had discovered that this was an ally and once it was revealed that Saerid also had some exposure to the palace, they were more at ease. Asking him what he was doing here, he admitted that he was trying to determine what had gone wrong at the palace. Whereas he was not an eye witness to what had transpired, he certainly saw the skies to turn black and the lands begin to rot. Princess Argenta, long a beloved figure to the dwarves, needed to be saved if possible. Therefore, he agreed to come with the company. More importantly, Saerid did reveal that he, too, was a member of the Half-Moon Exploring Company, having been inducted when it was first founded, over 75 years ago, prior to Lucien Autumntide purchase of the organization. With this out of the way, the group proceeded towards the palace.

Suriveth Varune tried to ask Saerid and Sir Bellivin whether there was another way into the palace, other than the gatehouse. However, when Sir Bellivin looked to see whether or not the entries he remembered were available, they appeared to be sealed with rubble, leaving only one way into the palace.

Exploring the palace, it was clear that there were various troops of orcs that had been present, using the gatehouse as their headquarters. However, Glaedwin determined they were out on patrol. The group used this as an opportunity to sneak in and steal some of the provisions that the orcs had marshaled. The gate which was currently closed was no match for Glaedwin who was able to slip through and throw the switch that raised the gate, allowing the rest of the adventurers to gain access.

From this point, the company began exploring what was in the palace. Using Wolfram Delmanse to listen at the various doors and carefully opening those very doors, they began to carefully creep through the hallways. Whereas they were not overly surprised to discover evil creatures roaming through the palace, such as hobgblins and kobolds, they were surprised to come across a dining hall where all of those present were statutes. Whereas it was not certain whether they were people turned to stone or whether they were actual statutes, the evidence seemed to suggest the former. People seated at the table, in mid bite and with goblets in their hands as well as servants offering food, seemed to suggest that they were somehow doomed when the tragedy struck. Also present throughout the hallways and rooms was an ever present red light. The red light, while stationary, seemed to give off an eerie glow which was thought to be best handled by trying to avoid it.

After the first hallway had been investigated, they found a passage that led to a cavernous area beneath the palace. This area was roughly designed with the rocks not truly carved. However, they did encounter a large white ape that was chained to the wall, clearly starving. Whereas it was aggressive when it saw the adventurers, it calmed once Suriveth fed the animal.

Eventually, they came across an underground spa that had some dangerous mutated bats which, upon further examination, seemed to be demonic in nature. But the two most interesting rooms where one in which there was a series of painted frescoes on the walls and floor, but also a strange keyhole in the floor. The next room had a pedestal containing a silver amulet which seemed out of place for this spa. When approached, a green mist formed into a face and gave a stern warning. For now, it was thought that it was best left alone.

Finally, as they left the spa area and continued down the cavern, they came across an area that appeared to be some kind of shrine to elven spirit ancestors. However, the statutes and icons had been smashed, replaced by a simple clay statue with an eye that seemed to slowly blink. When Glaedwin attempted to destroy this seemingly evil shrine, the eye seemed to summon a horrific demonic creature. This creature, arguably the most most deadly and potent creature they had ever come across, had several arms and a giant mouth atop its head. The heroes were barely able to defeat the thing without losing their lives. As it died, it fell back on the eye, crushing it.

At this point they found another set of stairs that seemed to take them back to the main floor of the palace.

Episode 13: The Grip of Evil
Evidence of evil shows itself

As the heroes progressed into the area known as Moonwreck, it was evident that a great cataclysm had come to the area, as they feared. They looked around and saw scorched earth everywhere, seeing nothing but destruction wherever they looked. The quest to save Princess Argenta would not be easy.

Progressing into the countryside, they came across the town of Veldens which once had been a small human community but was left with no life, everyone either having fled or been killed. A small group of unidentified bodies were still smoldering in a pyre, and it appeared as if they were dwarven, adding to the confusion as it was unlikely that dwarves would have attacked humans in such a way.

Kouro Marmari decided to investigate the local temple of Primus while Suriveth Varune searched the local burgermeister’s home for clues. Glaedwin Longclef along with Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse, watched outside, vigilant for any further attacks.

The clues they had pieced together was that something at the palace of Princess Argenta must have taken place, resulting in the terrible evil that had befallen the area. Unfortunately, there were few other clues. The adventurers pressed on on the road towards Veldens and the palace.

Halfway along the road an ambush set up by derro, evil Underdark dwarves, took them by surprised. It was only when a knight in the service of the Crusader sprung forth from the burnt forest that they were able to repel these forces of evil. The knight, Sir Bellivin, was also able to reveal a little more of what had happened.

While tending to their words Sir Bellivin explained the following:

  • The Protectors are a magical race of elves that live in the area and have protected the area from evil for centuries, allowing for the normally lush and beautiful land to thrive and be a home for fantastic and mystical good creatures.
  • Recently a ruby the size of an apple was found by dwarven subjects of Princess Argenta. They polished it so bright and gave it to the Princess as a gift, calling it My Lady’s Heart.
  • A grand feast was planned to honor the dwarves. Around this time a mysterious stranger rode in riding a white dragon and wearing black armor.
  • At midnight, disaster struck with crops dying overnight, foul winds coming through the land and evil creatures flocking to the land, killing everything they could find. An explosion erupted from the castle and a red glow enveloped the area.
  • Soldiers from Ironwall are bogged down in a massive fight against gnolls, orcs, and trolls, preventing them from mounting an expedition to the castle to see what had become of Princess Argenta.
  • The creature that caused the flame and scorched earth is a red dragon that is trying to make a home somewhere nearby.

Upon reaching Gulluvia, a town of mushroom homes and a settlement for gnomes and faeries, they found that this area, too, was overrun by evil, perhaps the trolls they had seen earlier by the bridge they had crossed.

Staying overnight and hiding in the town’s pavilion, they would likely make it to the palace in the morning. While looking through his items, Glaedwin noticed that he had gotten a response from the Prince of Shadows. Apparently, agents of the Prince had recovered the Chest of Secrets and taken it to Dresda in Foothold. The chest of Una Helta was available to picked up later or abandoned.

However, upon leaving town in the morning they were attacked by redcaps, the most deranged and evil of fey. They were able to fend off the attackers but the savagery and insanity of the creatures reminded them of the dangers that lay ahead.

Episode 12: Hidden Evil
Monsters hide the darkness

Deciding to enter the long-forgotten hunting lodge, Suriveth Varune, Glaedwin Longclef, Kouro Marmari, Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse decided to descend the hidden stairway they found underneath. Ellyna Dirkane, however, went back to the encampment to watch over the merchants in the Gold Unicorn Collective. The darkness below was haunting but the sense of adventure was stronger than the fears they felt.

Immediately upon arriving in the subterrainian cavern, they noticed several chests and crates nearby. These were determined to be relatively new and contained a variety of equipment such as glass beakers and warming pots. While not exactly the kinds of items used by an alchemist, it was certainly something similar. However, they were immediately beset upon by some stitched together creature that was comprised of various lizard parts, turned into hulking monster. However, the combined efforts of the heroes led to the abomination being dispatched.

Continuing through the dark, underground lair, the heroes came to a room with a gate in the floor which contained some unknown creatures skittering and chittering. These creatures were best left alone, all things considered.

While investigating a small room across the hall it was not long before Glaedwin noticed a sinister creature floating through the halls. Later identified as a decapus, this floating monstrosity clearly had sinister intentions as it went into the room with the caged floor and began releasing the horrible creatures held within. A swarm of creatures later discovered to be sinspawn poured forth to attack. This massive battle between the adventurers and the corrupted forces resulted in Wolfram and Glaedwin being badly hurt but the heroes managed to prevail.

Collecting themselves and tending to their wounds, the heroes pressed on, realizing there was something truly evil underneath the lodge. They came to an underground stream and stone bridge to cross. Unfortunately they discovered it was trapped after it was too late, with a powerful ward triggering an arcane attack. But they did come across a hidden chest in the brush, to the side of the bridge. Identified by Glaedwin as a chest with the symbol of the Prince of Shadows the group looked inside and found some minor treasures within, long forgotten by whomever placed them there.

Finally, the group found a stone slab with a hidden passage behind it. It was a tunnel leading to he surface world, several hundred yards away from the lodge. However, Kouro used the power of the High Druid to receive a vision. He saw a serpantfolk sorcerer, known as Sstratha, who had been creating the horrific sinspawn in this underground chamber. Further, the vision led him to a hidden cache of treasures near the stone slab. The warhammer known as Bludhammer as well as the Chest of Secrets. Both items were once in the possession of Una Helta, the Winter Witch and were dangerous to even possess. Somehow Sstratha must have come across these items and since the Chest of Secrets was so difficult to move, he abandoned it once he realized the heroes were approaching. He, along with a small army of sinspawn, escaped through the tunnels, heading to some unknown location.

Dragging the items out, the heroes discovered that the chest was best left buried and come back for once their quest in Haven was complete. They met back up with the Gold Unicorn Collective and pressed on to the area surrounding Haven. But as they arrived to the surrounding area, they found an apocalyptic wasteland. The members of the Gold Unicorn felt it was best to for them to turn back, leaving the heroes to deal with the madness and tragedy that had befallen the area. Leaving the heroes with some supplies, they turned back, and the heroes remained to press on, hoping to rescue Princess Argenta from whatever horrible fate had befallen her.

Episode 11: The Longclefs of Foothold
Suspicious Dealings from a Familiar Trading Company

The arrival from Witchburn to Foothold was without incident. However, upon arriving in Foothold it was clear the city watch was collecting a steep entry fee into the city. Quick thinking from Ellyna Dirkane suspected that flashing her House Graystone Signet Ring would prevent them from having to pay. She was correct as the city watch ushered them through.

Glaedwin Longclef, who was very familiar with Foothold as he had spent several years coming through its gates. was instantly at home in the city, remembering fondly, the vast amount of halfling families that made their homes here. More importantly, his halfling nature of partaking in the food and drink had come back to him and he set out to get his fill. He also knew exactly where they could stay, The Scattering Rams, an inn and tavern where he was well known as a good customer.

While rumormongering in the inn, the adventurers discovered that there was a sizeable amount of attacks outside the city, attributed to bugbears, gnolls and other creatures. They were given the name of one of the local scouts if they needed more details; a trollkin ranger named Dresda would have far more details if they wanted to seek her out. They also discovered that the Longclef Trading Company was seemingly alive and well in Foothold, much to the shock of Glaedwin who seemed understandably upset that someone was trading on the good name of his family business, since he was the last remaining member of the family after their tragic end. Getting to the bottom of this was something he intended to do first thing in the morning. Of course, another piece of business the group had was delivering a box to Quanto Shortcoin, a favor they were doing for Alcide Throckmotten, which, in turn, was a favor he took on for Brit Shortcoin, back in Dragonmeet.

The group sought out Dresda late in the evening, and when they interviewed her at her favorite tavern, the Wee Lass, she commented that the bugbears and gnolls she had been encountering were bearing the same symbol that adventurers had come across in Witchburn, held by the bugbears they dealt with there. The tattered symbol of a single eye on a red background seemed to indicate that these creatures were in league with one another, united under the same banner. She also mentioned that there were other creatures that seemed to sometimes accompany them – she never got a good look at them but presumed they were undead, based upon the way in which they shuffled. But she had yet to kill one and bring it back for examination.

One piece of information she provided was especially helpful for the adventurers; the fact that the Gold Unicorn Collective, a trading group from Haven, would be arriving in town soon. The adventurers quickly decided that traveling back with them would be a good way to get to Haven. Since Glaedwin was on good terms with several of the members, including one of their caravan masters, Aerto Clearspeak, this would be a grand opportunity, indeed.

Prior to delivering the box to Quanto, it became apparent that Foothold was slightly different than what Glaedwin could remember. Minister Herne, the assistant to the regent, Duke Vellian Graystone was the de factor ruler of the city. Minister Herne’s numerous taxes and tax officers seemed to hold sway over the city, striking fear into citizens who seemed to be behind in payments. However, despite the dark rumors surrounding Minister Herne, he managed to bring Foothold and House Graystone out of the crippling debt they were under. Upon delivering the box to Quanto, it seemed as if he, Quanto, was a member of the tax guard as he was dressed in their traditional garb. Whereas the meeting went well, there was slight unease in the way Quanto acted. But he asked the adventurers to take something back to Brit when they next returned to Dragonmeet – a black pouch, sealed with a wax symbol. It was clear that Quanto was in some way associated with the Greenleaf Branch, a halfling family with close ties to one another and who was involved in a variety of Foothold business interests, both legitimate and otherwise.

The following day, Glaedwin went to the offices of the Longclef Trading Company with Ellyna. Suriveth Varune having little interest in business affairs instead went to the market area to play her songs and raise some spending money. When Ellyna and Gaedwin arrived at the docks where they quickly found the offices they were looking for, they encountered Podwick Longclef, a gruff and rude halfling who seemed more threatening than welcoming. He made it very clear that the Longclef Trading Company was his, that he was a true Longclef (despite Glaedwin never hearing about him) and that Podwick wanted nothing to do with Glaedwin. Vowing to get to the bottom of it, Glaedwin left but gave Podwick a dour scowl as he did.

While Glaedwin went off to drown his sorrows in the chocolate pastries of Foothold, Ellyna found herself buying needed provisions for their four day trek to Haven. On her way back, she encountered a crow that dropped an old rusty key at her feet. Knowing a portent from the High Druid when she saw one, she pocketed he key and knew it would be put to use later.

That evening the group met up with the Gold Unicorns and they agreed on a price for the adventurers to guard the caravan back to Haven. Aerto, who had a high opinion of Glaedwin, graciously accepted the help.

Later the adventurers found themselves exploring the under ruins of Foothold after hearing from Dresda that there were some interesting things to see. Their guide explained that the ruins went on for miles and eventually connected up with the dwarven cities and even an abandoned dwarven city. They decided this was definitely something they would investigate further, later.

That evening, through a series of chance meetings, they managed to get an invitation to an auction at the Duke’s residence. Sponsored by Minister Herne, the auction was established to sell off many f the Duke’s possessions, mostly art, small treasures and other items he clearly had no further use of. Getting a glimpse of the Duke, it was clear that he was mentally deranged and unable to speak for himself, even relying on others to assist him in eating and walking. Suriveth, however, was able to purchase an elven bow at a steal of a price, with others simply not aware of the item’s true value. The runes along the bow were unusual and not ones she could translate but Dracovel Kilvesh explained that they likely unlocked some kind of special power or ability.

The following day the group set out for Haven with the Golden Unicorns. The travel went without incident except for the third day when Glaedwin discovered a hunting lodge in a valley, not far from where they made camp. The lodge seemed abandoned but was also locked. When he explained what he found to the others, Ellyna came along and by chance decided to try the key that the crow had given her back in Foothold. To her excitement, the key worked, opening the mysterious door . . .

Episode 10: Big Bullette
Monsters run rampant

As the adventuring company bade farewell to the Harlequin and Tankard Inn, they moved towards Witchburn which, according to their map was only two days’ ride. Their movements were largely uneventful except for the first night when Kouro Marmari went into the forest and seemingly communed with whatever spirits he spoke to, but the truth was that he suffered from a curse. He would turn to marble once a month on the full moon and by his calculation, this was the night. During his secret frozen status, he noticed a strange creature watching the group’s encampment. Unable to move his head to see, he could merely watch helplessly as the thing moved around him, watching his allies.

On the final day, the adventurers noticed a massive wagon with several drivers going in the same direction as they and when they approached, they saw the wagon was covered and they were unable to see what was inside. The secretive caravan master was harsh in his determination not to make idle chit chat, only that they were heading towards Witchburn to sell some livestock. Ellyna Dirkane tried to make a helpful suggestion that they give their horses more of a rest which the caravan master agreed to do.

In the hours leading up to arriving in WItchburn they noticed a large number of ships coming towards the city. It seemed as if something important and possible exciting was happening. This was confirmed when, upon arriving at the city gates, there was a line to get in. They learned that they had arrived during Baron’s Faire, a special time of year when merchants brought unusual animals and livestock to trade and sell to the very wealthy. Giant scorpions, two headed goats and even a bullette would be on display and, if they were lucky, they were told, a mermaid would be brought for sale. Immediately, Kouro was concerned about this as he felt that the High Druid would look down on such things. As it turned out, he was correct.

Finding there was a limited amount of rooms available, Suriveth Varune used her charms to secure a room at the Gilded Salamander but for better or for worse the only room left was the Prince’s Suite, the largest and most expensive room on the top level, for 20 gold per night. Fortunately, it was more than enough room to hold the whole party so she agreed.

Not long after getting in and looking down upon the crazed buying and selling of animals, Kouro noticed Glaedwin Longclef, a member of their party who they had not seen in weeks, roaming through the streets. He yelled for him and within a few minutes the group was reunited. Glaedwin explained that he has come in on a ship bringing their own livestock as he suspected they would be here. It was surely the Prince of Shadows at play, working in their favor. Koldrag mentioned he would see them later, at the tent of the Seeress. And he departed.

Noting this was only a stop en route to Haven, the group now had two pieces of business. They wanted to meet with the mysterious Seneale the Seer who had claimed to have have a prophecy for the adventurers, and of course, they were interested to see what kinds of animals were on display. There were no doubt scams such as the ‘lucky bees’ as well as the bunny that could talk and play chess as well as the incredible sleeping parrot, but there were also massive and frightening creatures, like the bullette, whose masters were the people met along the road earlier in the day. It was truly an impressive feat. Just as impressive was Baron Puno Graystone who was overseeing the festivities. This massive man was clearly a warrior of some kind and had the physique and disposition to show it.

Nevertheless Kouro decided this would not stand. He conspired with Glaedwin and Wolfram Delmanse to release many of these creatures. So in secret they released the bullette, the giant scorpion and a pair of giant bears. However, things did not quite go as well as the animals went wild and when it seemed like the bears would be content to stay put, a small explosion scared them out of the create – someone else was at work, with similar motivations as Kouro’s.

Chaos broke out as animals went everywhere and the adventurers, mostly who were unaware of Kouro’s plan, were left to fight to creatures. But Kouro, Glaedwin and Wolfram quickly realized they had to help else villagers would be trampled by the dozens. But the buellette was an imposing creature, indeed. Just when Suriveth and Draovel thought they had things under control, several bugbears came from behind one of the cages and revealed themselves as attackers. Apparently, it was this group that also wanted to release the creatures to cause as much mayhem and destruction as possible.

During the fight an amazingly few people were killed and they got to fight along side the Baron as he jumped into the fray. And Glaedwin, for his part, is one of the few adventurers to boast that he was able to ride a bullette. Kouro, kept seeing visions of the High Druid who managed to help him when things were looking bleak. Fortunately for Kouro, the guards who suspecting him of his involvement in the animal revolution, were convinced that the bugbears were responsible. In searching the corpses of the bugbears they had very little of interest but each had a small token that had an ominous eye painted on it. Perhaps this was some kind of clan symbol.

The Baron was very impressed with the adventurers’ ability to fight off the creatures and since he was none the wiser about Kouro’s, Wolfram’s and Gleadwin’s involvement in the mischief, he invited them to his manor for celebrations and food.

Stopping to have some drinks in the Gilded Salamander, Glaedwin got drunk and Kouro managed to purchased some Humming Frogs. The interesting frogs, when touched, each seemed to make some kind of humming sound, like a strange musical instrument. Kouro bought three for a silver apiece.

That night at the Baron’s estate, he showered them with food and drink and told them that whereas he was grateful for their help, there was the matter of compensating those who had lost their animals to the heroes. After some discussion, the adventurers agreed to come back in a few months and join the Baron in a hunt that would try and find creatures that would be suitable replacements for the beasts. All agreed, that is, except Kouro, who wanted no part in it.

The Baron brought out gifts for his new friends. Each person was given a House Graystone Signet Ring, which, while not magical, had some unique properties. They each had room for Soul Gems as well as bearing the symbol of House Graystone. The Baron explained that while in Witchburn and Foothold and the surrounding area, they would be looked upon with high regard. Of course, receiving the gift was a tacit agreement to help the Baron with his future hunt, so Kouro had to politely decline.

As the events wound down, the Baron asked Ellyna to stay the night with him, which she did, and numerous carnal pleasures followed that night at the Baron’s manor. The rest of the adventurers, however, went back to the Gilded Salamander.

The following day the group when to visit the tent of Seneale the Seeress. Once they got past the throngs of people who wished to hear their fortunes, Seneale had some sour news for the group. She explained that the region surrounding Haven was already doomed. The adventurers would be too late to prevent the area from falling into darkness. But they would still go in hoped of reversing the evil that had taken root there and they would no doubt be able to save Princess Argenta. Whereas this news was distressing, she was able to provide gifts to the heroes – things that had come into her possession that were somehow meant for them. She provided some small treasures to the adventurers. To Ellyna Dirkane she gave a map of Haven. To Suriveth she gave the Song of Silence. To Glaedwin Longcleff she gave the Prince’s Pouch. And to Kouro Marmai she gave the Mask of Mysteries. She also mentioned that the previous day Koldrag had come to her and she provided him with his own quest she sent him on. He would not see the adventurers again until they got to Haven.

Shortly after conducting their business with Seneale, the characters packed their things and made their way to Foothold.

Episode 9: The Harlequin and the Tankard
A roadside inn is more than it appears to be

As Suriveth Varune, Kouro Marmari and Ellyna Dirkane listened to Koldrag discuss their next course of action, they reviewed their findings from the crypt. Certainly, the Ritual of the Sway was an interesting and potent find, and as one of the lost Rituals it would no doubt come in useful. Whereas they attempted to look at the other items found, they also counted the Soul Gems that were now in their possession. They discussed their approach to Haven and Koldrag suggested that there were really two options. Go along the safer route along the coastal road towards a town called Witchburn or go through the more direct – but dangerous route – through the forest. The group elected to take the coastal road. As Wolfram Delmanse and Dracovel Kilvesh ensured everything was ready to go for the following day, Suriveth recalled there was a collection of inns and taverns along the road to Witchburn, one of which was the Harlequin and Tankard Inn a place which was rumored to be a safehouse for agents of the Prince of Shadows.

The group’s travels towards the Harlequin and Tankard were uneventful. Taking two days by horseback to get to the roadseide collection of inns, upon arriving, the scene was inviting after spending several days along the wilderness. But the most interesting sight was a black carriage that was parked with the horses. Clearly someone wealthy and imposing was also staying in the area.

As Suriveth went inside, negotiating the room rates with the innkeeper, Smoltz, she gave him the secret sign of the Prince of Shadows and he reciprocated, telling her to meet him back in the lobby about 1 AM. He would have something to show her.

Ellyna and Kouro wandered into the common room where the inn’s entertainment, Renagello, provided bawdy tales and music. But Renagello was hardly the most interesting individual in the room. Instead, Kouro was drawn to a mysterious woman in the back having dinner, with her bodyguard nearby. Kouro introduced himself and after some time the woman grudgingly released her name – Feryl Valdrogen. She stated she was a traveler and merchant. Kouro, hardly realized that it was she was interrogating him as her bodyguard, Kursh, looked on.

Later that night when Suriveth and Ellyna went down to talk to Smoltz, he led them to a basement where he shared with them information about the surrounding area and offered to sell from a secret stash of items and purchase unwanted items of theirs. He also mentioned that his spies had gone through the black carriage, belonging to Feryl Valdrogen and discovered numerous secret compartments, one of which was holding diamonds but he wondered what items she actually had on her person as many of the compartments were empty. More unusual was that Feryl had stayed in a different inn each night she was in the area. It was clear to him she was meeting someone. He also suggested that someone who might know more was a woman and her companion staying at The Knave, a neighboring inn. The woman, Lady Henrietta Throckmotten, and her companion, Fiona, may have had words with Feryl. Ellyna and Suriveth were suddenly extremely interested in Lady Henrietta, wondering if she was a member of House Throckmotten and thus, a relative of Alcide Throckmotten.

The following day the group of adventurers went over to meet Lady Henrietta and her friend, Fiona. Getting to know one another, Lady Henrietta mentioned that she was a close friend of Princess Argenta of Haven and was delivering important news to members of the noble houses through the Dragon Empire. Fiona let it slip that the Princess was to be wed shortly. This was interesting news to the adventurers as they were headed to Haven to look into some secrets involving what they discovered in the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. When Fiona heard Kouro’s name and saw that Suriveth was of shadow elf blood, she became very interested, almost excited. She stated that she had gone to see the Seeress of Withcburn, Seneale and she had made mention of a satyrn named ‘Kouro’ who had a companion who was part shadow elf. This, clearly, made Kouro and Suriveth very interested. They decided that a stop in Witchburn was well worth their curiosity. When Kouro attempted to take Fiona into the woods, he was rebuffed, getting the sense that Lady Henrietta would be . . . jealous as the two women shared a knowing glance at one another, telling Kouro all he needed to know about their relationship.

As the conversation was becoming more intense regarding the Seeress, a man stumbled into The Knave and appeared ill. When a patron went over to check on him, the man attacked, showing he was merely a diseased corpse – a member of the undead! Within moments the entire inn and the surrounding buildings were swarmed, under attack from an undead army.

As the adventurers teamed up with Fiona and Lady Henrietta, they came face to face with undead horrors, as well as some force that seemed to be from Lady Henrietta’s past, a sinister necromancer named Rosaro the Foresaken. Upon waging a long and bloody battle with these forces, bent on killing Lady Henrietta, the adventurers prevailed, driving off Rosaro and destroying his minions.

Resting at the Harlequin for an extra day, the adventurers bade farewell to their new friends but as Lady Henrietta and Fiona were set to leave, the female knight mentioned that the Seeress had some kind of mask that was in some way related to Kouro. As Kouro had a personal relationship with the Masked Ones he suspected this was some kind of portent. Ellyna asked Lady Henrietta if she would be willing to write a letter of introduction to her dear friend, Princess Argenta, vouching for the adventurers, which she gladly provided as thanks for their help against Rosaro.

Lady Henrietta also mentioned to Ellyna how impressed she was with her martial prowess and definitely hoped that she and Fiona would meet her again. The wanton look that was given told Ellyna all she needed to know about the motives of Lady Henrietta and Fiona.

Episode 8: What Lies Beneath
An ancient catacomb reveals new inhabitants

As Koldrag sat with Ellyna Dirkane, Suriveth Varrune and Kouro Marmari, he explained that Magnimar was the site of one of his previous hidden locations, before he was imprisoned by the Archmage. There was a nearby cemetery that he used as a lair. Within the lair he had stashed away one of several Rituals , as well as some Soul Gems that were likely still there. Realizing there was no time like the present, they collected Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delamnse and set forth.

Bypassing and then bribing some of the guards that were nearby, they made their way to the mausoleum that Koldrag pointed out. Unearthing a hidden passage through the crypt, the passage led down into the earth. Traveling such a short distance before coming across some runes on the walls, it was quickly discovered that they barred Koldrag from going any further. He sketched together a map for them as to where he suspected his hidden loot would remain.

As the heroes progressed forward, they immediately discovered that they were not alone. A small army of undead waited to greet them as they progressed through the crypt. It was a hard fought battle but in the end, they prevailed but not before they realized they were dealing with serious danger down below. They did, however, come away with two items, a magic dagger, Spinner as well as the Tiara of Eliu.

Eventually, more fights and treasures were encountered, including trained rust monsters, and a magic sword as well as a small collection of Soul Gems. But when the characters went up against a necromancer by the name of Volgaroth, they faced true power as he had several undead attendants. Volgaroth was eventually slain and the evil he radiated came to an end.

They did discover several Soul Gems as well as the much sought after Ritual of the Sway, the very item they came to discover. With this side quest accomplished, they were now free to leave Magnimar and continue their trek towards Haven.

Episode 7: Friends in Low Places

It was an exciting afternoon when Alcide Throckmotten returned from another one of his long trips. Suriveth Varune and Ellyna Dirkane were there to meet him at the Slippery Squid to tell each other the various adventures they had had. The ladies had brought with them the newest member of their circle, Koldrag. Upon meeting the mysterious Koldrag, Alcide instantly told him that he mistrusted him, stating that he never trusted anyone ‘prettier’ than he was. At which point Koldrag muttered that he assured him he was not . . .

When the conversation started to turn itself towards Darkveil, as it often did with Alcide, Koldrag suggested they speak of this somewhere else, where there were less ears. At which point they adjourned themselves to Ellyna’s abode outside of town. Upon getting to Ellyna’s stables and home, Koldrag began to explain how he was a scholar of Darkveil, revealed his true, horrific nature to Alcide, as well as the story of his release, and began to speak of the prophecies that they could, as a group, follow, to uncover the lost city of Darkveil. For there were clues to be found, important details to uncover and things they could find that would prepare them for such an undertaking. They agreed it would be good to start soon as Haven, their first stop, was so far away and the prophecy suggested that Haven may be under a time table if it were to fall prey to evil.

Gathering their forces, it was decided that whereas Rignark would be useful, Wolfram Delmanse may be more helpful in this situation. Alcide was insistent on bringing L’Gresh, his orcish ally. When Alcide went to find him at the Dirty Vixen, he found his friend busy watching the gyrations of the famous and sensual Tara-ka. Alcide waited but while he did, he spoke to Brit Shortcoin, the proprieter of the establishment and wondered if there were any jobs he needed done. Brit agreed and gave Alcide a box to take to his cousin, Quanto Shortcoin in Foothold as that was one of their stops.

Later that night, Alcide went to see Sorenniel, the shadow elf agent living in Dragonmeet. He dropped off some maps with the shadow elf and in return, Sorenniel gave Alcide a small pin that would protect him from being harassed by any shadow elf scouts that they would come across in their travels.

The following day they set out, on horse, towards Shaydenhall with the intent of selling the horses once they arrived. Whereas Ellyna was uncomfortable traveling with L’Gresh due to his former association with the Burning Men, her discomfort was eased when he explained that he had likely killed more Burning Men than she had, at this point. This seemed to do, even though she disputed his claim.

The only encounter of significance they came across was their third night out. Atop a ridge by the side of the road was spotted a ghostly and almost translucent image of a horse that Ellyna suspected could have been Severest, a powerful warhorse of legend. When following the image, the mighty steed disappeared but had brought them to a peaceful and safe grove that Ellyna took to mean a good omen and they stayed there for the night, peacefully.

Upon arriving in Shaydenhall the following afternoon, they unloaded the horses on members of House Waybore. They stayed at the Three Bells Inn a place familiar to both L’Gresh and Alcide as they were always welcomed by the owner, a raucous old crone named Lorath.

The following day they set sail for Magnimar but paid a higher price than normal as soldiers of the Emperor were also booking passage. It seemed that there were spikes in dangerous creatures roaming the lands near Magnimar and Foothold, specifically undead and other creatures escaping from Hellholes. The troops were desperately needed to replace those who had fallen, disappeared or deserted. This information certainly rang true to Suriveth who, in her investigation, had discovered similar information.

En route to Magnimar, Koldrag mentioned there was some other long forgotten aspect about Soul Gems that many no longer remembered. Specifically, Koldrag mentioned there were things, known simply, as Rituals that, if learned and done in conjunction with an unattached Soul Gem, could result in powerful sorcery.

Upon arriving in Magnimar, it was decided that many of them would break off and see the city, meeting up later at the Golden Dragon, a great feast hall. Meanwhile Alcide went to see his uncle, Eldred Throckmotten and saw just how badly things had degenerated as the families fortunes were rapidly dwindling and once fine lands were now being rented out to middle class merchants, just to make their monthly payments.

At the Golden Dragon, Suriveth decided to play for the audience to make some extra coins. While there she met a fan, Effrin, an elf who offered to sell her a healing potion at a greatly reduced rate. Meanwhile, the owner of the establishment, Presker, a surly half elf, was giving L’Gresh grief for ‘making eyes at light skinned girls’ like humans, elves and half elves. When Aclide arrived, he had to intercede before things came to blows, seeing just how bad the anti-orc sentiment had risen in Magnimar.

The following day Alcide went to a special shop he knew, the Spider’s Web where he met with the owner, Madame Curio, where he wished to sell his dagger, Deviant. Meanwhile, Koldrag mentioned to Suriveth that one of the aforementioned Rituals he had referenced was likely still here in Magnimar. Before he had been imprisoned by the Archmage, Koldrag had hidden a Ritual in one of the cemeteries in Magnimar. The Ritual, if learned, allowed the ritualist to perform a special sort of magical dance that could hold sway over an audience. He wondered if she would be interested in helping him recover it. If she helped, he would let her keep the Ritual as her own.

Suriveth most certainly agreed.

Episode 6: Lessons on Darkveil
More is learned about the legendary city and plans are made

Upon leaving Boltstrike Pillar and heading back to meet Vessyrn for transport about his skiff back to Horizon, the adventurers bade farewell to Sadda Treakspeak. Upon meeting with Vessyrn and getting the transportation they needed, he reminded them of their promise to go to Shadow Port and hand over a ring to Ulsine, a priestess who lived there. Farestel, the elf they rescued, wanted to travel with them as far as Dragonmeet where he could then make his way back to the Queen’s Wood.

Before they left Horizon, they decided to sell off some of the treasures they did not need as they determined they would get a better price in Horizon than they would have gotten in Dragonmeet. Whereas they were able to pawn off some of the gems, Kouro Marmari was able to get a hold of a diadem that had an empty slot for Soul Gems. He negotiated a fine price for it from the jeweler while Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse waited outside.. Suriveth Varune took Koldrag shopping for more appropriate attire which also allowed him to began to get accustomed to the outside world again. Additionally, Ellyna Dirkane was able to convince Galdurgo at the Golden Whistle to introduce her to someone who was in desperate need of purchasing dragon pieces. Upon meeting Sir Andreas Bliore, he was true to the stories about him. He paid a higher price than the items were worth as he was apparently assembling enough pieces for dragon scale armor.

The following day they set sail on the Harpy’s Wake in order to get back to Dragonmeet. The trip was uneventful and upon their return, they immediately set out to have the remaining items identified by Dova, the scholar at The Liar’s Club. She did identify them but the most interesting item was something Suriveth had an interest in; the fascinating Bag of Lost Things.

After it was decided that Koldrag would stay with Ellyna until he found a better place to stay, Ellyna negotiated the final details of the horse training she had agreed to do with Count Wilhelm Valdemar. Upon her return Koldrag mentioned that he noticed that Suriveth seemed to ‘have eyes’ for his current form. He asked Ellyna to inquire if Suriveth was interested in him, wantonly. Ellyna said she would look into it. It was then that the group realized that they needed to set sail for a short trip to Shadow Port to give the ring to Ulsine; in order to complete the promise they had made to Vessyrn. Kouro decided to take out some extra insurance as he did not fully trust Koldrag alone and asked Aliyre the Expert to have her contacts keep an eye out for Koldrag’s comings and goings while they were away.

The following day they set sail but not before Ellyna asked Efflin the blacksmith to look at her socketed axe, He was amazed to see such a fine item but told her it would be best to do so upon their return as sharpening it would take some time.

Upon leaving in the Harpy’s Wake, Captain Arthix and Giannatella made the arrangements and they began on their trip to Shadow Port. Shortly after they set sail, Ellyna mentioned to Suriveth the conversation Ellyna had with Koldrag.

What hoped to be an uneventful trip was interrupted when they saw a ship adrift in the sea. Getting closer they saw that the ship’s name was the Black Stone and that sulfuric smoke was pouring out from the decks below. Boarding the ship, they found no souls aboard but the captain’s log suggested it was a ship that had set sail from Port Shaw bringing barley to Dragonmeet when a wizard on board had a magical mishap, causing everyone to abandon ship. More details seemed to be unclear. They explored below decks and found a shimmering dark portal billowing forth sulfuric smoke from some other worldly location, clearly dangerous. They attempted to throw an item in and it merely froze in place for a moment before being instantly dragged into some unknown, inky blackness. After helping themselves to a few items on board, they left, scuttling the ship as they left. As it they watched it sink, they hoped this would be the last of it.

Arriving in Shadow Port, they were determined to get this deal taken care of quickly as they wanted to return to Dragonmeet and deal with the various clues and leads they had gathered. Suriveth first went to the Lazy Lich, a gambling hall where she knew an old associate of her’s, Glavron, would likely be entertaining himself. After checking with him and getting directions to the proper Primus temple where Ulsine would likely be, they were on their way.

Upon finding the mysterious Ulsine, late in the evening, she seemed to be entertaining herself with playing a solo game of chess. When they announced that they had word from Vessyrn, her eyes lit with excitement as it was clear they were in a romantic relationship. They quickly figured this conversation would not go well. And it certainly did not. The misunderstanding centered around Ulsine suspecting the adventurers were bringing good news, when in fact, they were bringing an unspoken tale of how Vessyrn was breaking off their engagement by returning the engagement ring. Ulsine went into a verbal tirade, immediately penning a response to Vessyrn but at this point the adventurers had enough of the whole affair and made their way back to the Harpy’s Wake with the intent of getting back to Dragonmeet.

Upon their return voyage, the only thing of significance they encountered was a large whirlpool where they had sunk the Black Stone. Moving along quickly and dark stares from Giannatella and Captain Arthix was all that was done about the matter. This would soon be known as the Black Whirlpool.

Upon returning to Dragonmeet, they met with Koldrag (who had not moved from Ellyna’s stables, apparently). He suggested that if they were to get to the heart of the Darkveil matter, one of their first steps would be to go to the area known as the Moonwreck as this is where Princess Argenta sat and who was named in the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. It would be a long trip but the rewards they may be able to find before the Princess met her fate could be extremely valuable. They decided to set out for the long journey but would need a few days to collect their items and prepare.

One of the preparations they made was meeting with Haunta Autumntide regarding the strange box she had brought back a few months ago. Upon using the Alcarast to open the box, as apparently she had been unable to open it thus far, it was discovered that inside were a series of scrolls that seemed to reveal that Princess Argenta had a variety of items in her treasury that would aid in finding Darkveil.


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