Keep on the Shadowfell Campaign – session 8

shadowfellResting in the Goblin chief’s hidden storeroom the heroes sleep was once again plagued with a shared dream of undead closing upon the walls of Winterhaven beneath a darkened sky. Upon awakening they decided to head back to town to see if the dreams held any truth.

As Ninaran had already taken their horses back to Winterhaven they had to trek on foot through wilderness, relying upon Bron’s skills to guide them. Returning to the surface they realised that it was still the very early hours of the morning and dawn had not yet arrived, but thankfully Korrin’s sunblade once again lit their way.

A few hours into their journey and still in the woods, they hear the approach of booted feet and guttural voices. Shabba and Nadaar moved away from the main party so as to get advantageous firing positions, while Bron, Rocky and Korrin held their positions and awaited the approaching group.

CAM00612They didn’t have to wait long as a group of armoured hobgoblins approached, dragging a hooded prisoner with his hands bound. A brief conversation revealed they were part of the Bloodreavers and when Rocky told them they weren’t welcome in Lord Padraig’s lands to which the hobgoblins leader laughed and replied that the people of Winterhaven would soon share the party’s fate and ordered his men to attack.

The hobgoblin archers had noticed Nadaar skulking in the trees and opened fire upon him, almost taking him down in the initial volley. Shabba used the trees for cover and begin sniping shots at the archers, quickly reducing them to corpses. Nadaar hurled a fiery blast into the midst of their foes, careful to not catch the prisoner in its flames.

Bron cautiously moved forward so that he could send healing energies to Nadaar while still being close enough to blast the hobgoblin leader with righteous fury. Rocky charged forward his mighty maul eager to taste his foes blood, smashing into the armoured guards and barging through to worry the robed leader too. Korrin followed her goliath companion, reaching the hobgoblins and belching forth her dragonbreath.

The prisoner took the opportunity to slip his bonds and smashed his fist into the nearest of his captors before they could respond.

The hobgoblins attempted to form a cohesive defence using their militaristic fighting style but the heroes quickly overcame them, and soon the woodland floor was littered with goblinoid bodies. The prisoner was revealed to be a Gith monk named Gelth who had been travelling the region “to find his centre”. Hearing of the heroes mission he eagerly offered to join them and assist where he could.

Taking enough time to deal with the minor wounds they had suffered (well, most of them), they were soon back on the path to Winterhaven. They were a getting a little concerned when the sky didn’t begin to lighten as expected as dawn approached.

CAM00613Reaching the north edge of Winterhaven they approached the cemetery, its rickety fence barely remaining standing but still showing the boundary of the burial site. The heroes could see Sister Lenora standing in a glowing circle near the centre of the graveyard but of more concern were the shambling, rotten bodies that had clawed their way out of their graves and small group of skeletons holding bony bows.

As the heroes enter the cemetery to engage the undead one of the crypt doors opens, revealing their elf guide Ninaran, who takes aim with her bow and shoots at Sister Lenora!

CAM00614Shocked that the elf would attack the priestess, Shabba takes a position behind a fallen statue and takes his own shot, knocking the traitorous elf to the ground where it stays, unmoving.

Rocky leaps the meagre fence and charges into a group of the zombies but the creatures prove more resilient than expected.

The skeleton archers pass by the priestess, apparently kept at bay by her circle and instead target Shabba and Bron with their arrows as the zombies nearest try to grasp closest heroes. Sister Lenora casts a spell, sending wisps of black smoke at the nearest skeleton but it doesn’t seem to have any effect.

CAM00615The undead around the gates seem to be drawn to Bron and Korrin, possibly sensing their ties to goodly gods and focusing their attacks upon them.

Shabba moves between cover and continues to harass the skeletons, proving to be the better archer and taking them down.

Rocky gradually whittled his foes down despite their grasping claws and raining blows.

As the last of the undead falls Sister Lenora comes towards the heroes a smile upon her face – and then lances a bolt of necrotic energy at Bron, dropping the cleric unconscious to the floor.

The heroes shock is only momentary, before rushing her and burying her under a flurry of blows. As Korrin lay hands on Bron, sending the blessing of Bahamut into the priest, the heroes find a note on Sister Lenora.

“‘Nora, I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply you with a force to thwart them.
I’m very close to completion; see that I’m not interrupted. As you already know, if you do come to the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is “From the ground, some magic was found.”
—Kalarel.”

They realised that perhaps their suspicions of Ninaran as the mysterious “N” may have been misplaced, and Shabba felt a pang of remorse having slain the archer. They gathered both bodies and returned them to Winterhaven to inform Lord Padraig. He was appalled to hear what had happened but confirmed that since the heroes had left for the keep Sister Lenora had been acting strangely. The heroes asked permission to search the temple of Avandra for any clues as to why she would have done so and he solemnly agreed.

At first glance nothing seemed untoward until Shabba noticed behind the altar that the stone was out of place. Rocky put his shoulder to it with a mighty shove and heard a distinct click – he immediately froze, fully aware that he may have just triggered some sort of trap, but Shabba carefully checked and much to Rocky’s relief gave the all clear. Continuing to clear the stone revealed a compartment within the altar, the click had been caused by the stone breaking a glass phial (its remaining liquid not leaving enough to identify its contents), there was also a bone scroll case that looked to have been already opened.

Shabba and Nadaar examined it carefully but could discern no trap, though Nadaar said that there was some residual magical energy. Carefully removing the cap revealed a scroll inside which had held a magical trap, one which would have ensnared the readers will. The heroes deduced that this must have been how Sister Lenora had been affected and upon returning to Lord Padraig, informed him of their suspicions.

Saddened by the corruption and loss of the priestess the heroes retired to Wrafton’s Inn to rest up in preparation of returning to the Keep and ending Kalarel and his plans.

We left it there and made plans for our next session (February 8th, at Tabletop Tyrants as usual). Another fun-filled session under their belts. It was great to be joined by Rachel’s brother Edward who will hopefully be staying with us as his study allows.

One thing we noticed today too was that with the hobgoblin encounter I used y dry-wipe mat but the addition of actual tree models really brought the battle to life, aside from the MtG players we were the only ones at the store so it was great to be able to borrow the scenery.

During my preparations for this session I had calculated the amount of xp available in the rest of the adventure as planned and had worked out that the party would be getting half way to 5th level, however I hadn’t included the hobgoblin patrol or the cemetery encounters in that. Since then I have, and this adds almost 2,000 more xp to that available, so the pc’s will be even closer to 5th  – not bad considering the original adventure is meant to take players up to 3rd level.

I’m definitely looking forward to the heroes descending to the lower levels in the coming sessions.

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