People of Fallcrest, I implore you!

The road to Winterhaven

The party stayed the night at the Nentir Inn and awoke to a gloomy day. Rain and mud slowed their progress along the King’s Road, and it was already 1600 by the time they reached Treona‘s tower. A pack of hungry wolves attacked when the party was almost under the tower’s eaves, and at times it looked like various members of the party would be dragged off into the woods for a snack, but with a little help from Treona herself (in the form of a well-timed magic missile), the party managed to kill or drive off the animals.

Treona was expecting the party after she had been magically apprised of their coming by Nimozaran. She invited them in to dry themselves by her fire. Over tea, she explained more of the history of Kiris Dahn and of the slaying stones, and more of her own history with Dreus.

With respect to Dreus, there was little to tell. Treona admitted that she knew nothing about the wizard; had never seen her face nor heard her voice. She had simply been ecstatic to find another person whose enthusiasm for the slaying stones matched her own. Treona admitted that she never hid any of her discoveries regarding the stones from Dreus.

Treona then explained how she had discovered the existence of a ninth slaying stone. Eight slaying stones, she explained, had been commissioned by Kiris Declan, the ruler of Kiris Dahn, and were created by the Merchants of Invention, an association of arcane engineers. Dreus had recently discovered an old record indicating that Declan’s son, Kiris Chad, later secretly commissioned and procured a ninth slaying stone. Although there were records confirming the use of the original eight slaying stones, there was no record of the ninth one ever having been used. Treona believes that the ninth stone most likely is still hidden in Kiris Dahn, and that the intercepted letter indicates that Dreus intends to claim it for herself and to make new stones for sale to the highest bidder. Treona urged the party to go to Kiris Dahn and find the last slaying stone before Dreus found it, in order to prevent another tragedy like the one that befell Kiris Dahn.

When the party agreed, Treona went on to explain that the stone would most likely be found either in the city’s library, one of its temples, or in the Kiris Mansion. She then handed over a map of the city with these and other locations marked, as well as three ritual scrolls and three peacock feathers which were to be used as components for the rituals inscribed thereon. Treona explained that when the ritual was performed, a ghostly image of the stone would appear if it was nearby.

With their business concluded, Treona invited the party to unfurl their bedrolls before the fire and stay the night. After a hearty breakfast the next morning, she saw them off. From Treona’s tower, the party headed northwest along the King’s Road toward Winterhaven. It was a 45-mile trek by road, and the suddenly hilly terrain made the going even slower. In the mornings, the hilltops looked like islands in a sea of fog; the fog didn’t dissipate until after noon. For two full days they journeyed uneventfully. At dawn of the third day, they could see the walls of Winterhaven high up on a bluff some miles away. Some distance above it, nestled among the lower crags of the Cairngorm Peaks was a crumbling, abandoned keep.

A couple of hours after breaking camp, the party was traveling along the road in the very shadow of the bluff upon which Winterhaven sat. At that moment, so near their goal, a mixed group of kobolds and goblins emerged from hiding and attacked with a great whoop. The kobolds were rather easily dispatched, but the goblins proved more of a challenge. Making matters worse, one of the goblins was a hex hurler, who variously immobilized, blinded, and otherwise cursed poor Nuvok, making it difficult for the cleric to engage in melee. Althaea, meanwhile, was like a ghost, slipping stealthily in and out of the tall grass and surprising her foes again and again with strikes from her sword and arrows.

The party finally emerged victorious, and while searching the body of the hex hurler, they found a note that read:

Keep an eye on the road for new slave stock. What Erzoun doesn’t know won’t kill us. Secrete any prisoners at the hideout until there is time to transfer them to Vohx. Erzoun may have claimed the yellow-haired one for herself, but the rest will be ours. You will have no trouble from Lemnas. he too believes that this operation could be more profitable in the meantime.
- BALGRON

When we reconvene, it will be 1000, 29 Planting, 588.

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Detective work

The party arrived back in Fallcrest as the sun was coming up. Over breakfast at the Nentir Inn, Erandil Zemoar revealed a letter he had received from Harkenwold:

22 Planting 588
Harkenwold
M. Zemoar,
My wife, Cordelia Stahl, passed through Fallcrest a few weeks ago on her way to Winterhaven. She stopped at your inn, as has become her custom on these trips of hers. I am writing in hopes that you have some news of her. She wrote me from your inn on 8 Planting, and I’ve not had word from her since. Did her plans change? Her work, as you know, can sometimes be dangerous, and she is usually so diligent in writing to me.
I can only conclude that something has happened to her that is preventing her from writing. I hope it is not so, but I can no longer quiet my fears. If adventurous travelers cross your threshold, please present this letter to them, and let them know that I am offering a reward of 500 gp for my Cordelia’s safe return.
My highest regards to you, M. Zemoar. Cordelia has always spoken highly of you and your establishment.
Douven Stahl

The party agreed to investigate Cordelia’s disappearance. Erandil described Cordelia as a sturdy blonde woman in her mid-thirties. She is an explorer and treasure hunter.

Next Serim Selduzar slowly descended the stairs, preceded by a drake the size of a large dog. He had two black eyes and stepped gingerly. He refused to talk about his injuries and gladly changed the subject to real estate when Baern brought it up. Serim dismissed the possibility of occupying Kobold Hall (“I’d never get the smell out,” he laughed), but then admitted that he had actually investigated it a few weeks earlier, and knew something about its history. He reported that property had been purchased by the Kiris family, the ruling family of Kiris Dahn, during the years of Nerath’s decline. However, Kiris Hoyt, the last heir of the Kiris family, is believed to have died about ten years ago when Kiris Dahn fell to an invasion by the Daggerburg goblins.

The party excused themselves from the inn, and headed for Moonstone Keep to claim their reward from Lord Markelhay. Markelhay happily had his staff hand over 250gp when presented with the kobold chieftain’s bone mask. Markelhay then mentioned a letter he had received from Lord Padraig of Winterhaven. Padraig had mentioned sightings of Raven’s Roost Bandits around Winterhaven. Markelhay was skeptical, since the Raven’s Roost Bandits were more active in the vicinity of Hammerfast and Harkenwold, and were rarely sighted even as far west as Fallcrest, much less around Winterhaven. Markelhay suspects copycats or pranksters.

Markelhay also revealed what he knew about the previous day’s attack on Serim. He heard that a group of thugs in brown cloaks had attacked Serim near House Azaer in the Hightown, but that Amara Azaer and Grundelmar, priest of Pelor, had quickly come to his aid and chased off the attackers. Markelhay supposed that the attack may have come at the hands of the River Rats street gang, though it was odd for them to operate so boldly in the Hightown streets. Another explanation Markelhay acknowledged was the possibility that the attack was driven by simple anti-tiefling prejudice. Equipped with this new information, the party headed for the House of the Sun to see what Grundelmar remembered about the attackers.

Grundelmar and Nuvok had been sometime rivals at the House of the Sun, but Grundelmar was helpful enough today. He said that he came to Serim’s aid and clubbed one of the attackers in the leg with his hammer, opining that the attacker would be walking with a limp for a while. Grundelmar did not recognize the attackers, though he believes they might well have been River Rats.

The party next interviewed Amara Azaer regarding her involvement in the altercation. She stated she had been inside her shop and and seen Serim pass by just moments before hearing shouts and a loud thumping sound. She grabbed her staff and ran outside and got in a few hits alongside Grundelmar before the attackers ran off. She could not identify any of the attackers, but feels sure that they were River Rats. Grundelmar next helped Serim into her shop, and she tended his wounds for a while. She stated that Serim seemed distressed, and in order to help him feel safe, she gave him the drake with which the party had seen him earlier.

Now the party headed for the Septarch’s Tower to speak with Nimozaran about what they had learned in the ruins beneath Kobold Hall. Nimozaran was surprised to learn that a dragon was lairing beneath the old ruin, but quickly rationalized that it was probably one of Bitterstrike’s brood out of the Winterbole Forest. As promised, Nimozaran rewarded the party with a cloak of resistance, which Baern promptly equipped.

Still unsure of the identity of the wizard referred to in the letter they had found on the orcs, the party cautiously mentioned that they had encountered a small band of orcs on the road west of Fallcrest. Not detecting any deception in Nimozaran’s response, they displayed the letter to the wizard, and he was greatly troubled by it.

Nimozaran explained that his friend Treona, a native of Kiris Dahn, was a scholar with a special interest in the slaying stones of that lost city. Against Nimozaran’s advice, Treona had begun sharing her research with another wizard, Dreus, via a form of magical remote communication. Nimozaran concludes from the letter that their research has led them to believe that a slaying stone still remains in the ruins of the city, and that Dreus has hired a group of orc mercenaries to find it and return it to her. Nimozaran believes that Dreus intends to reverse-engineer the slaying stone, and sell new ones to the highest bidder.

The slaying stones were commissioned by the ruling family of Kiris Dahn, ostensibly to protect the city from outside invasion. The stones were imbued with magic that allowed them, when used, to kill one living being anywhere within a few miles of the city. Each stone was good for one such use. Although the original idea for the stones was that they would be used against the leaders of invading forces, in fact, most of them wound up being used by younger brothers of the ruling family against their elder brothers, or by competing advisors against one another, or by the ruling family against peasant leaders agitating for expanded civil liberties. In the end, life in Kiris Dahn became untenable, and when the goblin forces invaded, almost no one was left in the city who was willing to fight for it. The remaining slaying stones were long believed to have been expended in that final invasion.

Nimozaran thus encouraged the party to seek Treona out for more information about the stones, and urged them to thwart Dreus’s plans, to avoid the tragedy of another Kiris Dahn. Nimozaran vouches for Treona’s honesty, but admits that she is a bit naive. Treona lives in a tower on the King’s Road north of the Cloak Wood.

The party next headed for Teldorthan’s smithy to return the green dragon hide they had recovered from the Kobold Hall. He rewarded them, as promised, with 200 gp, and congratulated them on their victory over the dragon, reminiscing, “The first one is always the sweetest.”

Finally the party turned its attention to the Lowtown, to see what else it could learn about the attack on Serim. They started their investigation in the Lucky Gnome but small talk over drinks and darts brought them nothing they didn’t already know from the tight-lipped clientele. Next they headed down to the Lower Quays, where a merchant shipment was being unloaded from a boat. In addition to the crew unloading the shipment, a number of others milled around on the docks watching. One of these onlookers, the party noticed, was walking with a limp. Althaea and Baern approached this one at an opportune moment, while the rest of the party hung back and tried to look inconspicuous.

Seeing the approach of the dwarf with a giant axe strapped to his back, the limping man intoned, ‘Oh no, Kelson sent you didn’t he? Listen, it wasn’t what it looked like. I can make it right with Kelson. You’ve just got to give me a chance.’ Playing on the man’s fears, Althaea got him to admit that he had been moonlighting for an organization known as the Fell Court, led by one Melech Ambrose, a tiefling. The man next produced a letter which he claimed had been written to him by Melech:

Staunton,
Serim Selduzar has proven a particularly tough nut to crack; it will take some persuasion to get him into the fold. He is staying at the Nentir Inn. You will recognize him. Make contact near House Azaer in Hightown. Amara will intervene, of course. Follow the usual protocol: it is more important that Serim fear for himself than that he be injured. You will have your usual fee for this service.Needless to say, nothing should connect me to this enterprise. Inquiring minds should be able to follow a trail of breadcrumbs back to your erstwhile employer.
Speaking of whom, do you have anything to report with respect to our other arrangement? Is Kelson making plans against my organization? Does the fool even suspect our existence? Write soon.
Your friend

The man, identified now as Claude Staunton, claimed that he had more letters like this one saved at his home, which he had always intended to turn over to Kelson. Althaea agreed to let Staunton live on the condition that he turn the letters over to Kelson before midnight.

When we reconvene, it will be 1200, 25 Planting 588.

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Dragonslayers, and an orc ambush

The party used the silver key that they found on the kobold leader’s body to open the secret door. They descended a staircase down into the blackness, and found themselves in a rough-hewn cavern that did not appear to be a part of the original structure of the keep. The air was unnaturally cold. Turning a corner, they came upon a fledgling white dragon, Szartharrax, who proceeded to threaten them and then attack with his freezing breath weapon.

After a long battle, the party was able to slay the dragon. Searching the room, they found a locked chest that Althaea was able to open. Inside was the green dragon hide that Teldorthan had sent the party after, as well as a Lifedrinker Short Sword +1, which Althaea claimed. The time was now around midnight, and the party elected to march through the night back to Fallcrest.

About three hours later, they came to a place where the road entered a small wood. Ahead and off to the side, a twig snapped. Suddenly, a group of nine orcs charged the party from the woods on either side of the road. The largest of the orcs carried a heavy shield bearing the device of an eye, which had been painted over with a vertical stripe of red. After a short but tense battle, all of the orcs lay in a heap at the party’s feet. Nuvok took the leader’s shield, which turned out to be a Heavy Shield of Eyes. The party also found a note on the leader’s body, which read:

We have struck our bargain with the wizard. Half the price is paid. The rest will follow when we deliver the stone. You will go to Gorizbadd and squeeze the life from those worthless goblins until they give it to you. I trust this will not require my personal attention, but with servants like I’ve had recently, one never knows.

V.

And by Gruumsh’s eye, destroy this letter! If Dreus’ plans are discovered, trust that I will have your head before she can take mine.

When we reconvene, it will be 0300, 25 Planting 588.

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The fall of the Skull Kicker clan

As Althaea, Brandis, and Nuvok took a short rest from their latest battle with the kobolds, they heard loud, clanking footsteps approaching from behind them. With their weapons at the ready, they watched as a knight strode in to the room. He introduced himself as De’Wayne, of the Fallcrest guard. He said that when he learned that Lord Markelhay had hired adventurers to clear out Kobold Hall, he knew that he had to be a part of the grand adventure. After a round of introductions, the party ventured deeper into the cellar of the ruined keep.

Ahead, the passage widened into a large, tall chamber. A wall rose before them that only reached halfway to the high ceiling of the room. As De’Wayne took his first step into the chamber, there came a rumbling from off to the right, followed closely by the deafening crash of stone on stone. A heavy boulder, almost ten feet in diameter had rolled off of a raised platform, and was bearing towards the party! To make matters worse, two kobold slingers suddenly appeared on the half-wall in front of them.

Luckily, the boulder veered, and avoided the party, momentarily. Unfortunately, Nuvok and De’Wayne were useless against the kobolds high on the platform before them, so they split up, Nuvok advancing around the left end of the wall, and De’Wayne advancing around the right. Around the corner, De’Wayne discovered a door that appeared to open into the fortified room from which the kobold slingers had emerged over the rampart. The door was barred from the inside, however, and he was unable to knock it down with a shoulder charge.

Meanwhile, around the left corner of the central room, Nuvok could now see not only the boulder coming around for a second strike at the party, but also three kobolds on another raised platform. Two were heavily armored, and one carried a staff and wore on his face the sought-after bone mask.

Althaea and Brandis dealt with the kobold slingers in their own way. First, Brandis knocked the kobold on the left off of the platform with a well-placed blast of icy energy&emdash;the pathetic creature fell directly into the path of the fast-approaching boulder. Althaea followed up by teleporting behind the remaining kobold and shoving the surprised creature to the floor below.

By this time, the heavily armed kobold soldiers were moving to engage Nuvok and De’Wayne. Worse, the masked chief began sending bolts of freezing energy at the combatants. Nuvok in particular was hard-pressed in the melee, and at one point was hit by the rolling boulder. Althaea hit upon the strategy of hiding on the ladder down into the fortified room, and only slipping up on top of the rampart every so often to take a shot with her bow. Brandis continued hurling spells from the passageway, safely out of the boulder’s path, and protected from the chief’s spells by the high walls of the fortification. Finally, De’Wayne was able to close on the chief, hack him down, and get to Nuvok in time to save the priest. The boulder then slowed and finally stopped rolling.

To satisfy Lord Marhelhay of their success below the ruined manor, the Nuvok stowed the kobold leader’s bone mask in his pack. Brandis detected an aura of magic on the kobold leader’s ruby-topped staff, and equipped herself with it. Also on his body, the party found a silver key and a note reading:

Bring back more golds from next caravan. Zarthax now want more. He eat last one to bring him unworthy offering. Say he will freeze next one to go downstairs with such small scraps. Freeze for eating later. If you want to live long, you bring back more golds next time.

Acting on the note’s clue, Althaea ventured down a corridor that appeared to end in a dead end, and, after a few moment’s concentration, detected a chilly draft coming from the wall. After she reported this discovery to the others, the party barricaded itself in the kobolds’ fortified room and bedded down for a rest before attempting to open the hidden passage. After six hours of rest, the party had recuperated fully, all assured of their readiness for any challenge that lay ahead.

When we reconvene, it will be 2300, 24 Planting 588

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Tactics and Traps

Nuvok, Althaea, and Brandis descended into the next room of the kobold manor, and encountered two kobolds in a room housing four coffins, and lined with suits of armor. They easily dispatched the two guards, before even noticing that several of the floor tiles in the room were trapped—stepping on them caused poisoned darts to launch from some of the suits of armor! Althaea carefully disarmed all of the traps. Afterwards, Nuvok determined that the dais in the corner housed a shrine to Tiamat, which prompted some curiosity, since kobolds more commonly worship their own god, Kurtulmak. The party also noticed that the suits of armor lining the chamber bore the crest of the fallen empire of Nerath: a shooting star above a three-pointed crown.

In the next room, the party interrupted three kobolds playing a game of skull-skull from atop a ten foot platform. Between the party and the platform were four coffins and another pool of green liquid. Brandis and Althaea focused their missile attacks on the kobolds above, while Nuvok moved towards the platform. The kobolds were frustrated that the party avoided the center of the room, and that they were thus unable to attack with their heavy skull-skull stone (even with their loose grasp of pendulum mechanics).

Frustrated, one of the kobolds finally opened the door below the platform, revealing a guard drake, which promptly attacked the nearby Nuvok. Even fortified by the addition of the drake, the party managed to easily dispatch the kobolds.

When we reconvene, it will be 1600, 24 Planting 588.

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Gathering information, and the kobold hunt begins

On 23 Planting 588, Althaea, an eladrin rogue; Brandis, a human wizard; Baern, a dwarf fighter; and Nuvok, a half-elf cleric, convened at the Nentir Inn in Fallcrest looking for adventure. At the inn, they spoke with Serim Selduzar, a tiefling, who let on that he was in the market for real estate, but was having some trouble finding anything suitable, because of a near monopoly held by Armos Kamroth. They also spoke with Erandil Zemoar, the proprietor of the Nentir Inn, who had heard that a caravan bound for Fallcrest had recently been ambushed by kobolds near the town. He recommended that the party get more information from Lord Markelhay at the Moonstone Keep.

While waiting for an audience with the Lord Warden, the party met the dwarven smith, Teldorthan, who offered them 200 gp if they could retrieve a green dragon hide that had been lost in the caravan raid. The party accompanied Teldorthan into his conference with Lord Markelhay, and accepted a commission from the Lord Warden to snuff out the curiously well-organized kobolds who had been preying on merchants for the previous few weeks. Lord Markelhay directed the party to a ruined manor in the Cloak Wood, which he believes to be the kobolds’ hideout. He offered 250 gp if the party proves they’ve dealt with the threat by returning with the kobold leader’s bone mask.

The meeting with Markelhay was interrupted by the intrusion of Lady Markelhay and Nimozaran the Green. Nimozaran had intelligence from a friendly wizard near the Cloak Wood that the Skull Kicker kobold tribe had recently scattered its rivals, which was the reason they had become so focused on interrupting trade, as opposed to their usual internecine warfare. Nimozaran is concerned about what deeper threat may be directing the kobolds’ attacks, and offers the party an amulet of resistance if they return with an answer to that question.

Before leaving Moonstone, the party stopped by the property records room in the basement to investigate the ownership of the ruined keep that the kobolds were occupying. The gnomish clerk informed them that if the property was outside the city and not being actively farmed, it was very likely that record title was in some old Nerathian noble family, and it would likely be very difficult to determine the present ownership.

The party then ventured into the Lowtown and into the Lucky Gnome Tavern, where they made the acquaintance of its proprietor, Kelson. Kelson was in a foul mood, because his staff had failed to appear that morning. Finally concluding that he had no additional information to offer regarding the kobold raids, the party decided to call it a day. Brandis, Baern, and Nuvok, natives of Fallcrest, returned to their respective homes for the night. Althaea accompanied Baern.

The party reconvened at the Nentir Inn at 0800, 24 Planting 588, and made the 15-mile trek to the Kobold Hall. The journey took about five hours. When they arrived, the keep was in bad shape; towers had tumbled down, and there was no roof left standing anywhere. After searching for a few minutes they found a stairway down into an old basement. Brandis illuminated the tip of her staff, and Baern and Nuvok led the way down into the dark.

In the room before them a kobold immediately hissed to his compatriots. The party joined battle with four kobolds—two skirmishers and two slingers—in a room dominated by a long deep pool of green slime. They made rather short work of the guards. Brandis and Althaea remained on the stairs and rained spells and arrows respectively from afar. Nuvok and Baern brought the battle to the kobolds directly. Brandis’ phantom chasm spell was particularly effective, knocking three kobolds prone. The battle ended when Baern clove the skull of the last slinger in two with a mighty swing of his greataxe.

When we reconvene, it will be 1300, 24 Planting 588.

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