Keep on the Shadowfell Campaign – session 9
This months session saw us unfortunately down to only three players at Tabletop Tyrants due to circumstances beyond our control, but rather than plunge back into the main plot I had an idea for a little side quest for those that would be attending using a slightly modified version of the “Kobold Hall” introductory adventure included in the original 4e DMG. As it turned out, what could have been a quick and simple jaunt has led to, well, you’ll see…
While their companions discuss the ramifications of Sister Linora’s involvement with the cult of Orcus and the deaths of both herself and the ranger Ninaran with Lord Padraig, Nadaar, Korrin and Gelth decide to visit the local traders and replenish some of their supplies.
As they peruse the wares of one of the few market stalls the two dragonborn notice a figure in the crowd, another dragonborn with a cloak pulled close around them but a rather disturbing clasp on display – the symbol of Tiamat. Being the most adept at remaining unseen Gelth follows the figure while leaving a trail for his companions to follow at a distance.
The cloaked figure approaches one of the tenements, knocks, and enters once the door is answered. Nadaar believes he heard the knock distinctly but Gelth advises him that he is incorrect. Nadaar crafts a crude symbol of Tiamat while Korrin begrudgingly covers her armour and symbol of Bahamut, before the trio approach the door and knock as Gelth instructed. A swarthy looking human man answers the door and upon seeing the symbol invites them in, telling them to go through to the back with the others.
In the tenements single room stand the cloaked dragonborn, a tall bulky human in armour with a vicious scar across his throat, the man who let them in and another pair of scruffy looking human peasants that the heroes partially recognise as farm hands from the outlying lands.
Nadaar tries to strike up a conversation with the dragonborn but gains little more than she is a black scaled dragonborn with a strange red stripe on her scales running from her left brow back to her horn. Meanwhile Gelth attempted to converse with the human warrior but his chatter merely received nods and grunts leading the monk to believe the tall man was mute.
Apparently satisfied that no-one else was coming their host and the peasants rolled back the tatty carpet to reveal a trapdoor opening onto a rough tunnel and wooden ladder. Everyone but the host descended (the host closing but lock locking the trapdoor behind them) and followed the rough tunnel to a chamber laid out with simple wooden benches and box to act as a speaker’s platform.
The heroes took seats with the peasants while the human warrior stood at the side and the dragonborn addressed them. “With the recent upheavals in this region, the cult is taking advantage of the powers that be’s focus being on other matters to further our own interests. However several of our kobold brethren have been subverted by the forces forking for the Cult of Orcus, and another small group guarding something precious to our Dark Queen need bringing back into line.”
Nadaar quickly volunteered himself and his companions for the task and was told to seek the kobolds within the ruins of a keep beside the Kings Road on the way to Fallcrest. The dragonborn continued with several more minutes of rhetoric about the glories of the Dark Queen before closing the meeting and everyone began to file out. It was then that Korrin’s cloak slipped open and revealed her symbol of Bahamut and all hell broke loose.
As the guard charged across the room after Korrin, Gelth dove over the bench at the dragonborn. Nadaar however chose to strike at Korrin with his elemental magic. It took a few minutes for Gelth to realise that Nadaar wasnt putting full effort into his bolts though and eventually Korrin realised too and pretended to fall unconscious to the floor as everyone surrounded her. Gelth managed to prevent the guard from finishing the fallen paladin off by intimidating him and Nadaar’s silver tongue convinced the dragonborn that he would deal with the paladin himself later, in the name of the Dark Queen.
Back in their room at the Inn, as Nadaar apologised to Korrin and explained his actions she accepted his apology – with a backhanded slap across his face (rolling a crit), and considered the matter closed. Accepting his punishment the elementalist left the paladin and monk to recuperate while he went to the stables and hired three horses for the few days he expected it would take to travel to the ruins and back, arranging to leave at first light.
The journey to the ruins looked to be uneventful until about an hour away from their destination the heroes came upon a lone orc standing in the road holding a pair of hand axes. Gelth spurred his mount forward and at the last-minute launched himself from the saddle and struck the orc a telling blow, the bestial humanoid tried to retaliate but succumbed to the attack and fell to the ground. Unfortunately he wasnt alone, and while two more similar orcs appeared from cover beside the road, a third wielding a vicious looking battle-axe charged in whirling mass between Nadaar and Korrin’s mounts, attacking mount and rider alike. Despite the brutality of the ambush the orcs were quickly despatched by the adventurers. Going through the orcs belongings they discovered that their previous ambushes had paid well and had even produced some Everlasting Rations, which Korrin quickly put into her backpack before they continued on their way.
The ruins of the small keep lay on a slight rise beside the road (to call it a hill would be too generous) and the heroes left their mounts sheltered in a nearby copse of trees before approaching on foot. There was sign that numerous kobolds had passed this way but some time ago. In the ruins they found a poorly hidden stairway to the remaining ruins of the keeps dungeon, partly covered by a scrubby brush. Fully aware of kobolds fondness for traps they searched carefully and realised the brush was attached to a crude spear trap on the stairs below and bypassed it safely before descending.
Spotting a kobold slinger Gelth charged into the chamber and vaulted over the trench of green goo while Nadaar advanced and conjured magical flames upon the kobolds beyond the portcullis, quickly regretting it as one of the small reptilian warriors charged through the bars and forced the elementalist backwards into the sticky muck of the trench. He was quickly joined by one of the kobolds as Gelth fought the little beasts but Korrin struggled to engage them thanks to one of the sling wielding kobolds holding her in place with his “snot pots”. Eventually though the heroes overcame the kobold guards and Gelth lifted the portcullis so that Nadaar could secure it with the lever beyond.
Descending to the next chamber revealed it to be a crypt but at the sight of a temple of Tiamat (even a shoddy makeshift one) at the far side, angered Korrin and she strode forward, until she heard the stone under her foot click ominously. The visor of the amour in the alcove beside her lifted and a sticky coated dart fired out and struck her, preventing her from moving her legs as its toxin flowed through her system.
Nadaar made his way slowly checking each step as he went to move to his companion and Gelth scuttled into a hidden position behind one of the sarcophagi.
As the kobolds moved forward a third appeared from stairway, but this one wore armour and had a shield that appeared to made from a single large scale. Gelth darted from his hiding place to attack one of the kobolds, deftly dodging more of the poisoned darts.
Nadaar conjured a field of flames which burnt one of the kobolds but as the flames licked at the armoured warrior his shield glowed white and extinguished the fires. Wary of the darts the heroes were still able to engage and deal with the kobolds with relative ease before turning their attention to the dart-spitting suits of armour. Nadaar and Gelth battered them until they were no longer functional and the heroes examined the altar of Tiamat. Between two grubby candles (the heroes daren’t think where the wax had come from) was a hemp bag stained with blood that had leaked out onto the makeshift altar. Looking in the bag they found it contained a reasonably fresh heart, but couldn’t identify what it had belonged to.
“Who disturbs Szathraxx?” boomed a voice from the rear of the chamber in draconic. The heroes quickly realised they were in the presence of a white dragon, though only a young specimen it still towered over them.
Nadaar tried to convince the beast that they had brought it a tribute by holding out the heart they had taken from the altar above, but as the majestic beast noticed Korrin’s holy symbol it flew into a rage and attacked the heroes with claws, teeth and icy breath. The dragons rage was focused upon the paladin and she was soon lying helpless on the cavern floor, though the great white reptile too was heavily wounded. As its rage played out and it realised how much the heroes had hurt it, Szathraxx was prepared to listen as Nadaar called for mercy and offered a “tribute befitting your majesty”. The dragon agreed that in exchange for a considerable sum of gold and gems he would let the heroes leave but not before eliciting an oath of fealty from Nadaar. As the dragonborn swore to the dragons service the mighty beast placed its talon upon his scarlet scaled forehead. Nadaar felt as if his head was being frozen from the inside out until the dragon withdrew to count his coins, leaving the scales where he had touched the dragonborn bleached an icy white.
Nadaar and Gelth, both heavily wounded themselves, gathered up their fallen comrade and returned to their horses. Tying Korrin in place on her mount, they galloped back to the safety of Winterhaven. While Gelth tended to Korrin’s wounds, Nadaar returned their horses and sought out the female dragonborn to give her the kobolds shield and tell her about the dragon. He rejoined his companions later that evening.
Time had beaten us at this point and so we called it there and made arrangements for our next session (March 8th down at Tyrants as usual).