Shadows in the Dark

The Keep on the Shadowfell

Pantriss, Rogath Storm, and Galen Windrider travelled to the town of Winterhaven. While there, they discovered that a cult of Orcus, led by a human called Kalarel were trying to re-open a rift into the Shadowfell sealed two hundred years ago by Nerathian legionnaires.

The rift was sealed, and Kalarel dragged through a portal into the dark.

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Storm Tower - Part 1

While travelling the King’s Road, Galen Windracer was attacked by beasts of the forest. They seemed un-natural in some way… Although saved from death, he was poisoned by the creatures. Before falling unconscious Galen passed something he called a Starstone on to Pantriss, telling her “The barriers of the world are breaking.”

Martin Bebenspeer investigated the forest where they appeared, and found disturbed earth, almost as if they had clawed themselves out of the ground…

Erdan’s peace was disturbed by the battle with the unnatural creatures and he joined in the fight. He followed the others back to Fallcrest, but would not enter the town. He still seems suspicious of others.

After Galen was carried back to Fallcrest, Dirina Mornbrow, the cleric of Erathis was consulted. The poison burning in Galen’s veins could be palliated – if not cured – by starflower extract. Nathan Faringray had seen starflowers growing by old Vanamere’s Tower to the west of Fallcrest.

At the tower, the dwarf stonemasons who were supposed to be repairing the tower were nowhere to be found, the tower had been invaded by bandits with yellow skulls painted on their faces, and the Fallcrest guards who had been left to guard them had been killed and raised as zombies.

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Storm Tower - Part 2

Our heroes listened to the conversation of the yellowskull brigands in the dungeon beneath the tower, and found that a necromancer named Falck sought a golden skull concealed within. They descended a rope ladder into the room below (a room filled with half-painted murals of Vanamere – the builder of the tower – and her lover defeating a white dragon) and after a hard fight in which they barely escaped with their lives, killed the band of yellowskull brigands hiding there.

After rescuing the dwarves imprisoned by the yellowskull bandits, the party penetrated further into the dungeon, encountering Falck and his undead servitors. Falck appeared to recognise Martin Bebenspeer, and outed him to the party. “The blood of tieflings flows within your veins. Why do you oppose us?”

This revelation did not prevent the party from destroying him. As he and his undead minions were killed, they vanished in a burst of flame. But before he died, Falck prophesied that “Ravugar will destroy you all for this!”

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Swamped

After an overnight rest, Erdan and Pantriss set off on their way back to Fallcrest. But as they retraced their steps, they noticed that the landscape had changed… as if the dry ground they had previously crossed had somehow become a swamp, or the Witchlight Fens had extended overnight. And the land felt somehow wrong.

This feeling of wrongness extended to the human-sized froglike creatures that emerged from the strange swamp. Pantriss named them after the croaking cry they made: bullywug.

Examining the area, they found that the new area of swamp appeared to be replacing the world in an area several hundred yards wide – and that it was growing. Pantriss took bearings from the growth at two points, and led the two of them to the heart of the anomaly. Inside a cave at the heart of the swamp, they found more of the un-natural bullywugs, together with plants, which were somehow alive – and tried to kill them. A glowing pool of water was spawning the monstrosities, and more were forming within.

Pantriss pulled the starstone that Galen Windracer had given her from her pack – and found that it was glowing with the same light as the pool. She touched it to the pool, and both returned to their inert state. The swamp remained – but it was no longer un-natural, and no more of the monstrosities were appearing.

They returned to Fallcrest, and Pantriss delivered the starflowers to Dirina Mornbrow. Dirina would brew them into a potion and give it to Galen – if he survived the next week, he would live.

Meanwhile, outside the town, Erdan was surprised by the touch of cold steel at his throat and a voice that he recognised from his past, saying “Now. Tell my why you killed my brother.”

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In the Vale
Orcs have entered the Nentir Vale for the first time in living human memory.

Martin Bebenspeer and Jakk met on the road while travelling to Fallcrest. Stopping to investigate three shallow graves a few days old by the side of the road – with odd, curved and fastened branches as grave markers – they searched the undergrowth to try and find what had happened. In doing so, the two were surprised by an Orc patrol. Seriously outmatched, Jakk and Martin narrowly escaped with their lives.

In Fallcrest, the pair took rooms at the Nentir Inn, across the river and outside the walls of Fallcrest proper. The news that Orcs had been sighted in the Vale for the first time in almost a hundred years led to Lord Warden Faren Markelhay himself taking an interest. Martin’s – shall we say enhanced – tales of how the two of them slew half a dozen Orcs before being forced to retreat no doubt re-inforced in his mind the threat, and he was happy to put a force of half a dozen warriors from the Fallcrest Town Guard under their command to find out more about the orcish threat.

Ordering their guard to hold back for the moment, Martin and Jakk engaged the orcs. A hard battle ensued, but they were victorious – at the cost of two lives. Martin’s words of inspiration and courage brought Anita Graylock back from death’s door – but were not able to revive her colleague John Rayston.

The body was returned to the temple of Erathis in Fallcrest, where Dirina Mornbrow attempted a ritual to return John to life. All those present at his death stood around the altar and tried to remember him at his best. The ritual failed, however, and the townspeople began their second, true, mourning for the dead.

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Liberation Day

It’s Liberation Day in Fallcrest – thirty years to the day since the White Dragon Amandra was defeated.

After the Bloodspear Orcs sacked the Nentir Vale ninety years ago, Amandra defended the town of Fallcrest against enemies within and without, bringing peace to a town surrounded for miles by monsters and savages.

But the price was high. The cost of Amandra’s protection was this:

A free choice of any livestock held by the townspeople, at her leisure.

And the life of the eldest born child of each family, when they reached their maturity.

Amandra – who laired on an island in the centre of the falls, almost impossible to get to and from unless by flight – was eventually defeated by the mage Vanamere and her husband, who lived in Storm Tower, in the Witchlight Fens. On Liberation Day, that defeat is celebrated with a religious ceremony, thanking the Gods for deliverance, and followed by feasting and drinking that starts in the early afternoon and goes late into the night.

This Liberation Day Jakk and Martin Bebenspeer were among the celebrants. Three people in particular stood out in the crowd: Galen Windracer and Calderax Shadowhorn, and a mother trying to find her lost children.

Martin had encountered them both before. Over many shots of spirits in the Nentir Inn Galen told the others that the Walls of the World were breaking, and he needed to return to his city in the Feywild to tell them what had happened – but he didn’t know how to get there.

Meanwhile Calderax called on the debt of honour that Martin owed him to retrieve his family seal, which had been stolen by Kobolds upon the King’s Road.

The next day, while Calderax and Galen slept off their hangovers, Martin and Jakk rented a boat from Barstomun Strongbeard, the leader of the Porters’ Guild, in order to explore the island. It seemed obvious that Barstomun was running some kind of racket, but he “rented” them a boat at twice the price for buying one – making it obvious that he did not expect them to survive.

The two of them crashed the boat into the island, where they found tracks leading into caverns within – tracks of the two missing children. They followed them deep into the cave where they found Amandra’s lair. And in the lair: dragon’s eggs. Which were hatching.

In a hard-fought battle, the two of them managed to defeat the hatchlings and save the children by reviving them with potions of healing before they could die the First Death.

Our heroes returned to the Nentir Inn bearing the enormous haul of treasure from the dragon’s lair, and Martin spoke to Orkin Tanner about making a pair of dragonskin boots and a shield from the hides of the creatures.

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