The Dragonslayers' Tavern

In the Desert of Deadhold

599 SF, 1 Rotting Kol showed his companions a charcoal sketch he claimed to have found on one of the Shadar-Kai. The sketch, done by an expert hand, showed a fanged drow seated in a throne adorned with a large ram skull. In his right hand was a vicious-looking bastard sword also engraved with skulls. In his left was a large, multi-faceted gem, which Kol claimed was the god-killing shard he had been searching for.

Kol also revealed that the proprietor of the Five-League House, a well-known inn along the King’s Road, had been a willing partner in the Raven’s Roost banditry. Dressing in the exotic clothing of the Shadar-Kai, the group decided to pay the innkeeper a visit. Once they had landed, Kol was spotted by a textile merchant who was greatly intrigued by the Shadowfell-made clothing the halfling wore. Morel, a trader from Summerdale, agreed to meet back with Kol at the Five-League House in a month’s time to solidify a trade contract.

Barton, the innkeeper, clearly recognized the unusual clothing and guessed the peril he was in. The group intimidated their way into Barton’s small office where he quickly spilled his guts. Between sobs and protests of being threatened into complicity, the man confessed to providing the Shadar-Kai with information on the goods and defenses of merchants travelling west to Fallcrest. The group demanded the remainder of Barton’s ill-gotten gains and also the guard contract for the inn (now that he would be unable to pay the mercenaries himself). The Captain also detected a slight but distinct magical aura from Barton’s hand, and the group demanded this item as well. Amazingly, it was an Iron Ring of the Dwarvish Lords, a powerful artifact which Barton claimed had been stolen from a Hammerfast trader named Kardov.

Having seized de-facto ownership of the inn, the group felt content to leave Barton and his family (who were unaware of his deeds). The group decided to search the woods near Fastormel for any signs of enemy activity. Along the shores of Lake Nen, the group spied a small fire and a hairy figure in a canoe. The small man attempted to escape but proved no match for the his flying pursuers. Kol interrogated the man, a disheveled and malnourished halfling pirate named Brimble. Brimble told a tale of flight from Fallcrest after his unit was routed by the noble cavalry. Although the pirate was clearly contemptuous of the Dragonslayers’ heroic reputation, he did seem to grudgingly respect Kol’s ruthlessness. In an uncharacteristic show of mercy, the group allowed the pirate to go his way, and Kol even offered the man a place in his company.

The group then traveled to Thunderspire seeking information about the current location of the Chaos Shard. Kol once again suspiciously provided a tip that the Shard had been auctioned off in Thunderspire to a drow named Matron Lareen. His contacts in the Halfmoon Inn greeted the group heartily and assisted them in their inquiries. The Captain scheduled an appointment for the following day with an official of the Mages of Saruun, and Kol planned to visit Gendar, a drow merchant in the Seven-Pillared Hall.

599 SF, 2 Rotting The Captain’s appointment turned out to be with Hasifir, one of the founders of the Mages of Saruun. Hasifir greeted him as a respected colleague and acknowledged the debts each had paid to the other. The magus spoke at length of the auction in question which had been run by Niame, another founding Mage. Matron Lareen was from the drow outpost of Phaervorul, a fastness deep in the Underdark. Hasifir provided the Captain with two items: the first was an iron pendant shaped like a spider which would serve as a diplomatic pass, and the second was a map to the Miser’s Pit, a shaft high in the Cairngorn Peaks which began the shortest path to Phaervorul.

Meanwhile, Kol met with Gendar in his curio shop. The drow spoke of Lareen and Phaervorul with obvious distaste, claiming that he had long ago rejected Lolth and her thralls forever. However, the merchant did offer to sell two maps of the Underdark to Kol. The first was a confusing but large and highly detailed depiction of the Underdark below the Nentir Vale. Gendar’s asking price for this map was 1000 gold pieces. Kol attempted to haggle in a very unorthodox way; he offered 500 gold pieces and the rest of the gold if he had not killed Lolth in a month’s time. This made Gendar laugh riotously and eventually accede. The second map was actually a series of sketches made by one Goldrun Coinkeeper, a mad dwarf known to have traded with the drow and hidden several different caches of treasure in the Underdark before he died. The sketches showed the Miser’s Pit and one of Coinkeeper’s trade routes to Phaervorul. This map Kol opted not to purchase.

The group then wrapped up their business in Thunderspire and flew home to Fallcrest. There the Captain found a letter from Valthrun the Sage waiting for him. The letter spoke of dire omens in the sky and requested the Dragonslayers to return to Winterhaven. When the group arrived, the town had arranged a feast in their honor. The town had been hard hit by the Bloodspears, but was grateful for everything the heroes had done. After the meal, Valthrun revealed that the omens portended the rise of a new exarch of Orcus somewhere beneath the Cairngorm Peaks. He also mentioned reports from woodsmen of undead that were spotted making their way to the Keep on the Shadowfell. This distressed the adventurers greatly, and the immediately made their way to the Keep.

Inside, they found the zombified corpse of Splug, a goblin they had left inside a prison cell in the Keep during their last visit. Harbek mercifully destroyed the pitiful creature. The group made their way down to the ruined altar at the bottom of the Keep and discovered that the portal to the Shadowfell which they had forced closed was now open once more. Through the portal they saw a bleak desert of yellow-white ash and bleached bones. Harbek tied a rope around himself and stepped through. Unfortunately, the other side of the portal was warded by the divine seals of both Pelor and the Raven Queen, and he was unable to return. With no other option, the Captain and Kol passed through as well.

Making their way through the sea of bone dust, the group felt their life energy being drained by the searing heat and foul energy of the plane. They could see an immense plateau topped by a city of some kind in the distance, and they headed in that direction. Skeletons of massive beasts hundreds of feet long were buried in the sand, and it was near one of these immense bones that the group was ambushed by three demonic ghouls who had lain in wait beneath the sand. Though few in number, the foul undead struck with amazing ferocity and nearly killed both the Captain and Colonel Lobos.

Beseeching the Mystic Sages for aid, a large black bird appeared from nowhere. The bird instructed the Captain to seek the help of a being named The Keeper, a servant of Orcus who had grown to hate his lord. Encouraged by this knowledge, the group went on to endure a cloud of blood-sucking flies, evaded a throng of undead clambering their way up the plateau, and miraculously hid from a spectral dragon flying overhead. Atop the plateau, the group discovered that the city was surrounded by a huge trench filled with innumerable undead; zombies, skeletons, ghouls, and many more. The Dragonslayers noticed a set of stones buried in a ash drift. When the stones were uncovered, they each held the name, birthdate, and deathdate of the heroes. The deathdate was 599 SF, 2 Rotting.

A bridge of linked bones was the only means of crossing to the city, so the group began to cross. A group of ghouls and two large skeletal creatures with long arms stood guard on the opposite side of the bridge. The ghouls tossed a severed drow head back and forth between them while their leader approached to question the newcomers. Harbek requested to see The Keeper, but the ghouls merely laughed and said that Zirithian was the ruler of Deadhold. Harbek seemed to have misspoke, as the undead moved to attack…

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The Raven Queen's Test

599 SF, 25 Leaffall As luck would have it, Baron Bolmer still maintained the line of Celestial Chargers given by Erathis to Eothyr’s knights on the founding of the empire. However, he asks a dear price: 13,000 gp. Since Loric had the cheek to ask for a breeding pair, the gruff trader asked for a much larger stake as down payment. Loric reluctantly returned to Fallcrest empty-handed with a promise to return. Meanwhile, the Captain and his companion Napoleon began a scheme to recreate the lost race of Half-Dwarves using an ancient Turathi ritual.

599 SF, 27 Leaffall When the Captain and Harbek finally returned to the Septarch’s Tower, they discovered that a promising young journeyman named Darrem had been organizing work stoppages in a bid to gain a larger stake in the Guild. The Captain intimidated Darrem subtly, but the insolent youth was much more frightened by Harbek’s overt threats. They convinced Darrem to leave the Guild and Fallcrest peacefully, but the damage to the Captain’s coffers had already been done. Kol heard of the strife and quietly slayed Darrem on the road. Kol devoted the arrogant young man’s corpse to the Raven Queen.

599 SF, 30 Leaffall As the town prepared for the Feast of the Moon, Loric reunited with the rest of the Dragonslayers. The group discussed their next goal. Harbek and the Captain, visibly angry at the burning of their brewery, wished to take revenge on the mysterious “Nibs” immediately. Kol, however, suspiciously argued for stopping a group of bandits in the Raven’s Roost east of town. Loric was wary of anything Kol suggested, but a vague mention of demon worship among the bandits seemed to convince everyone.

599 SF, Feast of the Moon With the day of feasting underway, the adventurers slip of town together in the early morning, hoping to avoid the increasing notice of the peasants. As they neared the Raven Roost, they were ambushed by a group of pale-skinned humanoids with the power to teleport and become insubstantial. Though they quickly defeated the bandits, their leader, a witch of some sort, had cursed both Kol’s and the Captain’s souls with shadowy energy. The normally collected Kol began to forget small details, and the Captain’s eladrin aestheticism was twisted to craven desires. The group quickly moved on to the Raven’s Roost, a family chapel standing amidst the overgrown rubble of a ruined manor house. Flying through the crumbling roof, Kol ambushed a female Shadar-Kai standing near an altar and a massive vulture. Not to be outdone, Loric battered down the fallen stone door and came face to face with another pale foe atop a manticore. Harbek decided to highlight his physical prowess by climbing the front wall of the chapel and leaping from the ledge to make a midair grapple on the third enemy riding a wyvern. The bandit lords fought without quarter but were ultimately no match for the Dragonslayers. The leader, Samminel, spoke to Kol before he died. “All who serve the Raven Queen are tested in their time. May the strongest always prevail.” Loric and Harbek had also been tainted (and briefly dominated) by the shadow, with Loric seeming blase and unconcerned and Harbek becoming unable to leave a rage state. Still, the group retrieved several magical items of notable power, and Loric also just managed to subdue all three of the enemies’ mounts!

599 SF, 1 Rotting The new month brought with it a notable increase to the headcount in all of the Dragonslayers’ enterprises. Kol’s rag-tag group seemed to chafe somewhat at his inscrutable commands, while Loric’s pastoral community seemed to embrace his righteous leadership wholeheartedly.

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The Death of Karavakos

599 SF, 16 Leaffall: After holing up for the night in a warded lair, the group continues to explore the Pyramid. They discover angels of Vecna ransacking a library, a group of demons trapped in a frozen room, and a succubus posing as a tortured holy woman. Evidence found throughout casts Karavakos as brilliant but ruthless and further implicates Vyrellis in unsavory schemes of her own. An adamantine key is found in Vyrellis’ former chambers.

599 SF, 17 Leaffall: The Great Stair leading to the Pyramid’s second floor was riddled with traps and guarded by flying foes. This proved an annoyance but not an obstacle. Once above, the group passed through several cursed gates and confronted a clutch of Medusae. They managed to reverse the petrification of three humanoids. The Tiefling was Akmenos, Karavakos’ younger brother, the Elf was Silas, an assassin sent by Bralani Anastriana to recover her daughter Vyrellis, and the winged Dragonborn was Heskan, a noble-blooded descendant of Arkhosia who sought to destroy all remnants of Bael Turath’s power. After defeating a group of aberrant cultists, the group found a mithril key within the bloated wreckage of a warped Mind Flayer.

599 SF, 18 Leaffall: In one final push, the adventurers tore through many undead and fragments of Karavakos’ being. The gold key was recovered, but it became apparent that slaying so many pieces of the mad wizard only served to focus his power in the remaining few. Working against the clock, the group deciphered the riddle of the keys and charged headlong into Karavakos’ sanctum. Seeing his freedom near, the Tiefling fought fiercely, and used his lesser fragments as a shield. The group was battered and weary by the end of the conflict, but they emerged onto the Sword Barrows victorious. The group now held Karavakos’ formulary, an ancient tome filled with rituals and hidden lore.

599 SF, 19 Leaffall: The heroes return to Fallcrest with the three refugees from the Pyramid in tow, as well as Karavakos’ corpse and what remained of Vyrellis. The Captain, acting on a hunch, took out the head of Vyrellis and attempted to speak to her spirit. As expected, the destruction of the Pyramid had released her spirit. That was not the only lasting effect, however, as Akmenos suddenly fell dead. Speaking with his spirit revealed that he had been killed by some final curse set upon him by his brother. Tragedy had struck in Fallcrest as well, as the Dragonslayers’ tavern and brewery had been burned and ransacked in the heroes’ absence. The timing and precision of the damage was obvious, and an Object Reading showed that the mysterious halfling Nibs had been behind it all.

599 SF, 20 Leaffall: Heskan Bronzeclaw thanked the Dragonslayers for reviving him, but seemed rather at a loss as how to proceed. The noble warrior traveled on to the east, planning to find what remained of his family. Kol sent Asange Porter, one of his agents, after Heskan in an effort to secure his future cooperation. Meanwhile, The Captain and Harbek set off for Celduilon where they intended to reunite the Bralani with her servant Silas. Abbot Loric left with a train of other monks and servants for the southern city of Springfield where he hoped to purchase a Celestial Charger.

599 SF, 24 Leaffall: The Captain and Harbek are finally granted their audience with Bralani Anastriana. She was far more regal and beautiful than any woman either had ever seen before, though she also seemed distant and troubled. She graciously accepted the heroes’ gesture and her daughter’s remains and promised that she was in the debt of the Dragonslayers. Loric finally reached Springfield and made an appointment to treat with the richest horse-trader in the Nentir Vale.

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Inside the Pyramid of Shadows

599 SF, 15 Leaffall, five-day: The Feast of the Moon lies a mere march and a half in the future. The Dragonslayers firmly established their position in the Nentir Vale with their Companies, the creation of which was funded entirely through spoils of war. The group tracked down and defeated the Oni leader of the Bloodspears and entered Karavakos’ Pyramid of Shadows. There they encountered Vyrellis’ body and attempted to reunite her with it. Things do not go as planned, and the magic-saturated corpse attacks. The heroes are forced to destroy it, much to Vyrellis’ chagrin.

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