The Darkened North

Undead Swarms

Discovering a mound of bodies at the entrance to the Keep’s dungeon, the party moved down in an effort to find the second level of the complex.

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The Story So Far...
Adventures on the Northern Fringe

The Story So Far…

The Old Imperial Road run north. North past the Lake, past Cold Harbor and north still, past the Ridge.

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The Screaming Sigils
Dec. 2, 2012

By juboke.

Brackus a cleric of Bahamut and Ishmael a warrior of exceptional size and strength arrive in Cold Harbor with the latest caravan. Here they meet and befriend the party who invites them to join them on their search for adventure in the nearby ruined keep.

Arriving at the ruins the party finds the frozen corpses strewn about the entrance to this dungeon. The party descends into the dungeon after attempting to burns these bodies which erupt in an eerie blue flame. Here the party discovers unholy sigils engraved on the floor in certain area of the dungeon hallways. When crossed the sigils emanate a dreadful scream which alert nearby hordes of zombies. The party managed themselves past these sigils and hordes of zombies through cunning and strength of arms only to find treasure in the form of ancient ceremonial armor, gold ingots and a ring which appears to be magical of some nature.

Screaming sigil
The Screaming Sigil

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Old Gods and Slavers

By juboke.

Wounded and laden with treasure the party encountered a group of hobgoblin slavers while attempting to leave the dungeon under the ruined keep. The party was successful in defeating the band of slavers who were either killed or fled and returned to the safety of Cold Harbor with freed slaves in tow.

A few days of rest and resupplying the party decided to leave Cold Harbor and return to the ruined keep after a series of encounters with shady merchants, veiled threats from officials, a mysterious death of a local priest and a prophecy regarding the Old Gods.

On the way to the ruined keep the party encountered and individual of unknown origin. Was he a tribesmen’s from the surrounding area or some apparition of the Old Gods?

Herne 2

Upon reaching the ruined keep and managing past a newly blocked entrance the party decided to venture into a part of the dungeon that appeared to be still under construction. It was here where a group of skeletons led by an undead sorcerer attacked the party. The skeletons were defeated and the sorcerer was able to escape but not before they were able to kill the cleric Brackus.

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Always Listen to the Goblins!

Goblins is Smart Sometimes
By Locke

Ferris, Morgann, Locke, Zedd and Ishmael looked around in the excavation site. They found old gold coins with the symbol of the Gilded Realm and a Holy Symbol. After looking through the broken wall, Locke discovered a goat-headed amulet. He put it on. The party got mad at Locke. A skeleton came from the glowing pools and attacked Morgann. Ishmael smashed its bone head with his Iron Hand!

The party returned to the entrance of the Keep dungeon and saw that the entrance was filled with frozen bodies. The eyes of one opened and they attacked. More climbed out of the pit. Creatures did not attack Locke. Perhaps they feared the amulet that made Locke feel stronger?

The room began to fill with creatures and Morgann threw torches. They exploded in blue ice flames.

The party decided to explore the natural caves in the hall by the excavation room. In the caves the rats were all gone and in a room was stone with gems in it. A jelly monster attacked the group and was chased away with fire. Even magical weapons did not work. All of Ishmael’s wood, cloth and leather items were destroyed.

The group explored more but turned away from a tunnel with spider webs in it. The group was mean to Locke even though he was always brave and lawful. They were probably just jealous of his amulet and wanted it for themselves. They did not want Locke to have anything precious. Ishmael and Zedd kept trying to get Locke to give it to them. But he didn’t.

Then the group explored more in the caves and found a wood door covered in furry mold. There was writing scratched into the mold that said: “Stazz out reeleez!” This is probably Goblin writing. The group should have trusted this Goblin!

The group opened the door and found a room with a pool of water and small island. There were bones on the island. When an iron spike was thrown into the water, a Blue Slime jumped out and attacked the group. Morgann, Locke and Ferris were all hit and got Blue Slime on them. Zedd and Locke jumped to the island and found a shield, a vial and a message in case. Locke listened to the voice from the amulet and cut off the slime. He almost died. But he didn’t. Morgann died and turned to slime. Ferris thought that they were all sick and that there was no slime. But there was. Ferris almost died but drank a magic apple and lived. He was wrong about the slime.

The group returned to town. Always listen to Goblins. They are smarter than Dwarfs think they are.

Symbol on the coins.
Seal of charlemange crop

The Jelly
Ochre jelly

The Blue Slime Cave
Underground lake

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Militia and Zombies and Hobgoblins. Oh my...

Well, maybe we misheard that.
By Zedd

What began as a sunny and hopeful morning quickly devolved into a town-wide riot when an unlikely group of travelers arrived at the gates of Cold Harbor. Despite the timely premonitions of snowfall given by Valthrun, the town’s historian, woodcutters in the surrounding area were caught unawares by the coming of winter and desperately sought to sell their wares and purchase provisions. Joining them was Acolyte Thane, a contemplative cleric of Bahamut sent to investigate the fate of Brackus, and the stag-headed Druid that had previously been seen stalking the party.

The guard at the gate proved incapable of dealing with the immense stress of having town visitors. While he panicked and ran to Lord Padraig’s manor, adventurers Locke and Zedd attempted to converse with the Druid and the Cleric. Meanwhile, Froyo and Fionna broke into the (sadly emptied) repossessed stable and the rest of the party emptied from the inn to examine the commotion.

The town guard arrived in short order to confront Ursis, the Druid. It was here that it’s leader, Rond Kelfem, made a grave mistake in enunciation.

“Put them to the sword.”

There has been some debate as to whether or not Rond actually said this. Some of the adventurers less near to the confrontation swear that Rond had actually used the personal pronoun him rather than them. This of course would change the entire function of the sentence. But the Dwarf Ferris has little concern with such etymological trivialities. Ferris raged.

Town
Town Guard (No Longer Employed)

The party was tactically at odds; Zedd initially attempted to disarm the militia and defuse the situation while Ferris and Locke began to draw blood. The Thief and Halfling rained arrows upon the militia, adding to their sense of impending doom. When some of the guard managed to wound Ferris, Zedd and Locke swapped approaches; the previously resistant Zedd began to kill the guards while Locke began to mend Rond’s wounds. Still uncontrollably furious, Ferris bypassed the party’s attempts to protect Rond and, having been disarmed, pumelled the life out of the town guard with his fists. He soon turned on the party and was subdued by the mighty Ishmael before any of the adventurers were critically injured.

A few facts should be noted about this battle. First, the Druid was and continued to remain non-confrontational (though quite rude by civilized standards) until battle was already upon him. At no point did he threaten anyone within the town walls. Second, regardless of any slurring of words by Rond, he and his approached the Druid and two adventurers with their blades drawn. Third, when two of the guards fled, Halfling Froyo only fired warning shots at them, allowing them to retreat from the carnage they began.

After some deliberation the party opted not to remain in the confines of the town and followed the Druid into the forest. Seeing the beautiful holy symbol the party had looted from the excavation site the day before, Acolyte Thane chose to join them.

They soon arrived at the dreaded keep where the surrounding ground featured a large scorch mark and ghostly apparitions. Thane and the Druid were certain that their respective missions were tied directly to the evil causing these disturbances.

On the topic of evil, Zedd asked Thane to remove the evil amulet from around his neck. After some completely unlawful debate about bashing Zedd’s head in, Fionna intercepted and removed the amulet herself, tossing it into the forest. It made a reapearrance when the party attempted to cross the screaming Sigils; despite being disarmed by Thane, the Sigil activated when Fionna crossed it. Thane turned the bulk of the incoming undead while the party fought off the rest. Thane took the amulet from Fionna and wrapped it around his holy symbol, providing a temporary solution to the issue.

D d zombie
Summoned by the Sigils

Continuing on, the party heard voices on the other side of a door. They set up an ambush and Fionna stealthed ahead to scout the situation. She soon inadvertently alerted the Hobgoblin brigade of their presence. The party funneled in and dispatched the bulk of the brigade. Ferris went into an uncontrollable rage and attacked the Hobgoblins while the Druid followed him to provide healing and support.

200px d d hobgoblin
Bree-Yark!

When there were only a few Hobgoblins remaining they fled from the party, taking shots from the archers as they ran. Ferris ran after them, Ishmael, Froyo and Zedd following closely behind. He didn’t find the escaped goblins, but he did cross a trap. A portcullis dropped from the roof separating Ferris from the party. Alone and exhausted, Ferris was left face to face with the Bugbear and its master. No longer enchanted by the Wand of Terror, they readied to fight.

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New Friends and the Fall of a Giant

Having been cut off from his fellow travelers, Ferris found himself face to face with a bugbear and its master. As Ishmael strained to lift the porte cullis, Froyo and Zedd rushed through the opening to Ferris’ aid. Among the stench of spoiled food and stagnant air one would come to expect from a hobgoblin’s lair lingered the pungent smell of vinegar and pickles. Suddenly, from the lair’s storage containers emerged two unexpected allies. Covered in pickle juice, these two stowaways began to engage the Bugbear’s master. Our adventurers made quick work of the duo and were quickly alerted to the presence of other hobgoblins in the chamber’s sleeping quarters. Having been given an ultimatum, the three hidden hobgoblins surrendered and allowed Froyo to search the barracks.

The group voted to have one of the captives executed, so to minimize risk, and used one of the two remaining to search the leader’s chamber for traps. Despite his pleas and reluctance to enter the room, a search was conducted which revealed a chest filled with gold, two shackled children and a giant spider. The spider immediately attacked the group, almost as to protect the children, but among the confusion the hobgoblin darted for the children. As the spider was defeated, the hobgoblin executed the first child, using the other as leverage, ordering everyone out of the chamber. Sadly, while trying to rescue the child, the goblin caught us and executed the child then took his own life.

Once the group had finished looting, the last captive was offered an ultimatum; his life in exchange for a guided tour of the immediate area along with information on the children rumored to have been enslaved in the keep. The guide led the group through the main barracks, the kitchen and provided details on how to find the chamber where he had seen children being kept, and in exchange was released. Following the direction the hobgoblin had offered, our adventurers came to a door with beautifully crafted artwork made entirely of gold portraying two winged children, implying that they were on the right track. The detailed artwork was quickly looted, even as golden tears ran down the faces of the children they were plucked away. Once past the doors, our adventurers approached a statue of what resembled an ancient monastic knight, complete with sword in hand. This would be the site of Ishmael’s untimely demise. A pressure plate was activated as the group stood before the statue and when it activated, the statue swiped side to side, cutting down the giant. Coincidentally, there just happened to be a lowly farmer seeking his own adventure in the keep, who just happened to be in the same place as our adventurers. Introduced as Jacen, this farmer proposed he join the group so as to be able to share his knowledge of farming. Soon after his arrival, the decorative door locked tightly, leaving the group with limited options, but even faced with these difficulties the group pressed on.

In the next room, the group encountered a horde of undead as well as what appeared to be a leader of the group. The leader retreated to the room behind it as the rest engaged the group. There was a bloody battle that was eventually won but not before claiming the second life of the day as our newly found, pickle stained friend was overrun by the undead. Once the dust had settled and a quick thought was said, the remaining members of the group discussed options for the next step. A total party kill room lay ahead if they continued or they could return to site of Ishmael’s demise to attempt the door that had locked behind Jacen when he joined the group.

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Fall of Kalorel

By juboke.

The party descended ever deeper into the darkness of this vile dungeon only to come across more prisoners of the evil Kalorel. Two of the prisoners; Brother Simon, a cleric and a bard joined the party if only to put Kalorel to the sword once and for all. As the party managed themselves through the maze of rooms, Ursis and Nigra became separated and were trapped in a room sealing them off from escape. To make matters worse the room began to fill up quickly with water. Try as they might the party was unable to help their trapped companions and if not for the quick thinking and roguish skills of Nigra, both would have perished in this fiendish trap.

Reunited once more the party ventured forth and entered the inner sanctum of Kalorel.
Kalarel

This large room was dominated in its center by a pool filled with the blood of eviscerated prisoners chained to the ceiling above. Across the room where the party entered was a large statue of Orcus.
Orcus statue

Kalorel waited for the party on a raised dias flanked by two sinister looking undead minions with red gems for eyes. On the far side of the room a Wight moved to intercept the heroes as they entered and from behind them a Ghast approached.

Soldier skeleton knight

Battle ensued. Nigra, Thane and Zedd were holding off the undead minions of Kalorel. The others did not fare as well as Jacon was paralyzed by the Ghast; Brother Simon was seriously wounded and Ferris was held in place by Kalorel foul magic but not before seriously wounding him with his mighty battle axe. During the melee a giant worm-like tentacle burst from the pool of blood, flailing about a danger to friend and foe alike. The battle seemed as if the party could overcome Kalorel just as easily as he could defeat the heroes; that was until Locke was able to fell a crushing blow on Kalorel. Severely wounded and unable to defend himself, Ursis stepped forward and removed the burden of Kalorel head from his shoulders. As Kalorel head fell to the ground the statute of Orcus exploded into a thousand shards and a female demon appeared as if entombed within the statue itself.
Homm5 inferno succubus favo

The demon quickly dispatched Kalorel remaining minions (the exception being the Ghast who fled) and confronted the party. The heroes unable to answer any of the demons questions to her liking flew off but not before bestowing a curse the Druid, Ursis.

As the party was leaving the dungeon they were confronted by the Ghast who requested and had words with the bard <name> alone. What transpired between the two only they know … for now.
Ghast

Upon reaching the ruins that sit above this dungeon the party was sent upon by a party of orcs which the heroes easily dispatched. The group decided it would be in everyone’s best interest to leave as these orcs appeared to be a well-armed scouting party and they did not want to confront a much larger group. Wounded, tired and landed with treasure the heroes set off toward further adventures.

Orc scouts

As the party of heroes set off into the forest and faded from view they were watched from the darkness by the Ghast, smiling …

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To the Island

Our bold heroes decided to turn once more toward Cold Harbor, the festering den of villainy. The brigands who called themselves guards had greatly reinforced the town and now the puppet Lord Padraig had been all but replaced by a mage of low character.
Crimson mage
Any hope of being hailed as heroes and saviors was quashed when the beautiful bard attempted to treat with the “guards”. She was told that on the morrow at dawn a proper parley would take place. Immediately seeing through the ruse Zedd, Farmer, and Ferris made plans to infiltrate the town under cover of night using a secret passage.

Our party was now joined by two new members, a silent barbarian and a talkative illusionist.

As Ursis and his kinsman from the wolfclan set up camp outside of town the brave party of infiltrators began their mission. Sneaking into town without any trouble Zedd was able to rendezvous with the talkative illusionist and Locke the swordsman within the tower of the “historian” Valthrun.
Human wizard ruben ramos
Despite the suspicious appearance of Valthrun’s manservant and a very paranoid Locke, the evening passed very pleasantly. Zedd opened an enchanted bottle and so doing, finally claimed his noble birthright.

Around a campfire in the bush outside of town the two rowdy savages entertained the beautiful bard with tales of their homeland and a delicious rabbit stew, while she in turn regaled them with poems and stories from the civilized south. The two holy men of the southern lands listened intently, and refrained from trying to convert the heathens. Although differences of language and culture was a barrier, mutual respect was forming from a willingness to share and learn.

Just then a grisly discovery was made. A headless knight was found upon a dying horse stumbling along the road toward Cold Harbor from the North. In his saddlebags Acolyte Thane discovered a banner belonging to the Margrave of Blackmarch, Padraig’s older and more capable brother who rules in the North. Ursis didn’t have the heart to tell our gentle bard that the horse was already as good as dead and let her take the poor beast into town, although he knew it would have been a mercy to put the dying creature out of it’s misery instead of condemning it to a lingering death within a mouldering stable. He was also worried for her safety now that clearly the woods held unseen foes.

Ferris spent a very uncomfortable night in a cold damp cellar, with a young girl and a sinister farmer making poor companions. The only comfort Ferris could find was the familiar burn of cheap whiskey and the ghosts of dead comrades to see him through another long, dark, and lonely night.

In the morning after a disorganized start our heroes were able to avoid the villainous town guardsmen and cinnamon mage. They met out on the ice of the lake and gathered some paltry supplies left by their new benefactor Valthrun, although Zedd already began to regret the terms of his deal with the old man.

The journey across the ice took the better part of the day but finally the heroes arrived on the shore of the mysterious island. Halfway through the night the party was awoken by a fierce warband of skeletal warriors rising from the nearby depths of an icy river.
Lo s skeleton warrior

After a frantic battle the heroes were able to defeat the undead. The young barbarian was nearly slain however, laid low by a rusty ice encrusted sword, only being saved by the intervention of the southern holy-men.

During the battle Locke bravely held off the attacks of a malevolent spectre long enough for Zedd to rush to his aid and deliver a killing blow. Zedd struck with an ancient dagger taken from Kalerel which drew his soul into a battle with the wraith. After a few tense moments Zedd was able to master the dark soul of the creature and gathered information before it departed.

In the morning the band traveled further inland following the expert directions given by the illusionist, without whose navigational skills the party would have surely become lost. After passing a magical wicker-man and a strange pond the party encountered a strange and ancient stone idol and a collapsed cave opening, both set into a rocky hillside.

Unklar statue head

After examining the idol and clearing the cave mouth the party prepared to venture inside.

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Our new friend, the witch
She's good people

Ferris and Nigra drifted in and out of consciousness, diseased from the easily cleared bat-cave. Ursus had returned from his meeting with an elderly witch when a naked dwarf wizard emerged from the bushes, tailed by a goblin. Unperturbed, Yoginthal put an arrow through the dwarf’s throat. Wait, that’s not right. What would he do that for?

Eventually giving some clothing to the newcomer, the party continued on their way to meet up with the old witch for healing. She must have been out or something, but her beautiful young daughter greeted the travelers with delight. She healed Ferris of his disease in no time at all. Moments really. Girl was a pro.

She then met with me to exchange information. After giving me valuable map locations, she turned the conversation to the dagger looted from Kalorel. She described in detail the methods of using it, or as she called it the “Path of █████.” All I have to do is ████ █ █████ ██████ ██████ █ ████ ████ ████ ██ ███ █ ███ ████ █████ ████. Tricky business, but it’s good to know. The witch and I ███ █████████ ███ and now Ferris and I are Eskimo brothers.

The beautiful witch then made a deal with Ursis; she offered to remove his curse in exchange for the head of a local beast. The party set off, leaving the unconscious Nigra behind with the completely trustworthy and suddenly pregnant witch. After scaling a dangerous clifftop, Jacen the farmer went on ahead to introduce himself to the ogre. A fellow farmer, they got along famously. The ogre spun some tale about the witch, but he was a nice guy overall, so the party unanimously agreed to leave him and his family alone. They continued on to another steam cave.

Inside the cavern were some terrible locusts. They swarmed a handful of party members who quickly warded them off by jumping in pools of water. Wearing plate armor, Locke found himself unable to swim out. In a panic he stripped his armor and tried to fight off his rescuers, but they were able to pull him from the depths. Though he is noticeably depressed about his lost armor, Locke will live.

The party continued on and found a cave-dwelling village of escaped slaves and members of Ursis’ tribe. For literally the first time ever the adventurers were able to unwind without fear of disaster. They partied, drank, and fired arrows at each other or something. I’m not really sure. The mead was good.

Anyways, we awoke this morning with headaches and set out to free slaves and kill Krand. Ferris isn’t sounding to good and I guess Talia got her hair did.

Some sections are need to know and have been redacted. I need a scribe.

-Zedd

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