Cartographer's Quest

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The story so Far

A scholar by the name of Parle Cranewing hired Aster and Morthos to locate the ruins of a old keep near the rural village of Winterhaven, and map what remains of it. He promised a payment of 250 gp for a complete rendering. Aster and Morthos agreed, and set out to explore the ruined fortress (and if they happened to find some long forgotten treasures, well who could blame them if they liberated them from such squalor?). Determined to earn a reputation, as well as a hefty sum of gold, they set out in search of adventure.

However on the road to Winterhaven Aster and Morthos were ambushed by a group of Kobolds. Dispatching the creatures, the party of two proceeded on to Winterhaven. Discovering that the incident on the road was merely part of a larger problem, the two accepted a contract from Lord Padraig to deal with the menace, first defeating a night time raiding party, and then tracking the beasts back to their lair with information from the locals.

Spending time with the locales, they learned about some of the problems the Kobolds had been causing, where they probably were based, and picked up some information about the Keep and surrounding area. They were troubled to learn that Goblins had potentially taken root in the Keep. They tried to get information on the Keep from Valthrun the Prescient, but outside of a few minor token pieces of information, he had little to tell the party, telling them that he would “Poke around” back in his Tower, and that he “might” have some information for them when they returned from the Kobold Hunt.

Having learned the location of the lair, they set off. While traveling to the Kobold lair, they they met a traveling Warlord and Dragonborn Shaman wandering the region. After a ambush along the road, the travelers agreed to temporarily help Morthos and Aster. One of the Kobolds briefly mentioned the name Iron Tooth. Making their way to the Kobold Lair, the party launched a surprise attack on the guards outside. After dispatching the Kobolds outside the Cave, the party proceeded inside only to immediately rush back out as a veritable horde of Kobolds chased after them. After a heated battle, the leader of the Kobolds emerged, a giant hulking figure of a Goblin named Iron Tooth. Felling several members of the party, he was only defeated in a quick stroke of tactical genius.

After the narrow brush with death, it quickly became clear that the Kobolds had been far too well equipped, numerous, and organized. More so, why were they taking orders from a Goblin? While looting the bodies and cave for treasure and supplies, Aster and Morthos uncovered a letter to Iron Tooth detailing a sinister plot and threat to Winterhaven, with some kind of strange cult or Goblin Army assembling in the ruins of the Keep. The letter was signed only by the name Kalarel.

Parting ways with the travelers, Morthos and Aster returned to town, and explained the situation to Lord Padraig. Despite the triumph over the Kobolds, their success was tempered with the bittersweet understanding that terrible things were on the horizon. Lord Paidrag pleaded with the party to help them in this dark hour, and ascertain just what the threat to Winterhaven was. The party accepted.

While leaving the Party attempted to contact Valthrun the Prescient, who did not answer their calls to unlock the door, or greet them in any fashion. Worried, Aster picked the lock, and the party crept inside, climbing the large empty tower. Observing a half opened door with candle light, the party slowly crept forward only to see….. Valthrun hunched over a stack of scrolls and old tomes, busily reading away. Starting each other, the party was relieved to see that he was alright.

Valthrun, having heard of the success of the party in dealing with the Kobold menace, and having begun researching some of the things the party asked him, explained just what perhaps was truly occuring up at the old Keep. He explained that under the keep was a closed portal to part of the Shadowfell, a dark land of the afterlife where all souls depart to, and that in ancient times it had been opened by some foul cult and unleashed a army of undead upon the region. The Empire had defeated the undead incursion, and built a keep over the site to guard it.

Valthrun believed that some cult was perhaps attempting to open the portal, and restart the dark work that was begun over 200 years ago. Based on a talisman found by the party on the corpse of a Kobold, Valthrun believes that foul cultists of the Demon Prince Orcus are at work. Orcus, he explained, has long coveted the throne of the Raven Queen, and wishes to be master over death, and Undeath.

After speaking with Rond Keflem about the tactical safety of the village, they were introduced to several prominent individuals who had wandered into town over the last few days, whom he believed could help them infiltrate the keep and deal with the menace inside. They agreed, and took on a contract with Paidrag as well to offer their assistance.

Thus the party departed for the Keep on the Shadowfell.

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Chapter 2. A cat that I know.

Aster – We came across a thing. So after the pit, we moved onto the next area. We found a secret wall, found a crack, and found a hallway, and then I absolutely failed at opening it.

We moved on. We went into the next room, saw some goblins, one sleeping. Through super ninja skills, I snuck up on the furthest one, and managed to make it across all the boards and took him out in one shot.

But they heard a noise from when Mort got found out by the Guard Lizard, and that’s when the battle began….duda dua dua uda dada.


Rendar – My character jumped off a 10 ft ledge, but got stuck in the dirt, and got beat on by a attack lizard who bit me, and a goblin with a pick axe, and he was beaten unconscious. He was moody about this, and kept to himself.
Mort – Dear journal I have come to find that the party is both adequate and yet lacking. The half-orc was ambushed and beaten into unconsciousness. I forced a goblin into a false-pact. We found a small antique, some kind of mask that gives boons to the stealthy. I have also obtained a holy symbol of battle of Bahamut. I hope it proves very useful, if only financial means. The half – orc likes my ale, and I shall fall asleep on an isolated platform.
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Chapter 3. Stay out. Really.

Falling into an uneasy sleep, the party drifted off despite the watch system they put in place. In the middle of their rest, something came out of the cavern nearby, and dragged off Stek the Goblin.

Following the pool of blood, Aster put her new found Dark Vision powers to work and scouted the area. Mort and Rendar followed and popped a Sunrod.

This brought forth a horde of rats, but luckily the vast swarm was avoided, and they were dealt with.

Following the blood to a set of motled and decaying Bronze doors covered in mold, the party debated what course of action to take. Cracking open a door, and accidentally flooding the room with a backwash light from the sun-rod, they saw that it led down steep stairs, into a dingy and small cistern full of dirty water. The island in the center of this cistern was covered in bones and metal/ Glass goods. The Blood went down fungus covered steps, into the water.

Mort grabbed a giant rat corpse, and tied it to some rope, and decided to use it as bait. After the entire party failed to attach the rope to a stalagmite, Rendar agreed to act as anchor.

Quickly enough, the bait was snatched with great force, and Rendar was pulled forward. A quick save by Rendar allowed him to catch his body on the door and surrounding frame.

In doing so he noticed words written on the door that had been previously covered in mold…

“Stay out. Really

The ancient door buckled off it’s hinge, and he flunged down the slick staircase. The party follow suit. Mort attempted to blast the creature by following the rope… only to hit it, and immediately cause IT to surface.

A blue Slime burst through the water, spraying noxious fumes and acidic slime everywhere. It then began to drop hurt bombs on the party with a vicious acidic tentacle attack. The party fought back, but was quickly losing ground to the beast. Several vials of recently obtained alchemist’s fire were tossed with little effect. Stek’s half-digested corpse could be seen flickering inside the slime thanks to the Fire’s light.

Aster observed items on the island, and tried to see if she could find something to use in the battle. After failing to jump across, and falling into the water, she made her way onto the island where she found a magic shield, health potions, gold, and a vial of Alchemist’s frost. Rendar was busy distracting the creature, while Mort camped on the stairs like a panzy.

Aster threw the vial, and temporarily froze the creature, but was quickly beaten unconscious following that, and the acid damage from the strikes. (Someone’s going to be in serious need of a tailor by the end of this…) Rendar soon was beaten unconscious by the slime, and began to drown in the water.

Things looked grim. Aster failed her third revive roll, and Rendar was about to die as well, but strangely….

Aster’s new mask began to glow brightly, emitting silver/ blue light from the intricate silver work across the mask. Some of the cracks and chips in the mask repaired themselves, and with a flash, Aster was revived. With this revival brought a newfound power, the warlock spell Eyebite. Aster, possessed by a strange force, stood up, and attempted to attack the slime with the new power, but failed. Following this strange, magical resurrection, Morthos defeated the slime with a powerful spell. Following this death, the creature exploded in a wave of acid slime. Morthos dodged it handily, taking cover behind the remaining bronze door.

Aster proceeded to collapse back into unconsciousness, and Morthos revived the party. Collecting the treasure, they found half a map of the keep, and documents regarding some kind of slave trade, as well as a third, confusing letter that was meaningless without context. Noting the location of a secret room, the party found a room with a bedroll, food, and basic supplies for a day or two. Ensuring the door was secure, the party went to sleep.

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This is why you don't fight Monsters past 11 O'Clock.

After their near calamitous encounter with the Blue Slime, the party discovered a map to the first floor of the Shadowfell Keep, and in turn discovered note of a secret area close by. Seeking shelter, they took refuge in a small and well hidden cavern. Inside they discovered a motley bedroll and some provisions.

Feeling that this was the best place to take an extended rest and deal with the events that had occurred, the party barricaded the small entrance passage, and settled down to rest. Rendar took comfort in the corner opposite the entrance to keep watch on anything that might try to infiltrate the room, and thus leaving him in the best position to react. Aster set up further down the room, and overcome with exhaustion, promptly fell asleep without even bothering to remove her new found mask. Morthos, wary of the events that had just occurred, settled down to rest opposite of Aster. His last thoughts were ones deeply troubled by suspicion and doubt.

As sleep overtook the party, so too did strange, and even terrifying Dreams. Rendar was beset by strange visions, and found himself caught in a bizarre and fantastic world that rapidly changed even as he stood in the midst of it. Environments blended, and merged, shifting seamlessly between wild fields, dark caverns, and lonely underwater depths. His last sight was of a strange woman wearing a blue dress of peacock feathers that seemed to flow into eternity. Dreams of being pulled down into water, only to find himself falling through the sky bring him back to consciousness.

Morthos in turn, suffered under a strange vision as if brought to him straight from the vibrant madness of the feywild. As he became lucid enough to comprehend events around him, he found himself flying (or perhaps Falling might be more accurate) through a amber, violet, and crimson sky. A Dwarf with Antlers on his head rode across the sky on a horse of pure white, battling against a dark pack of Azure Wolves. Ravens fluttered across the starlight above, while clouds drifted around the sunset below. Falling through the clouds, he emerged into a realm of pure darkness. Within this darkness, he was surrounded by laughter as wild as it was genuine. A face appeared to him from the inky blackness. A Elven (or Eladrin?) appeared before him, garnished in a stunning array of neon colors. Blues, Greens, and Reds flowed and wove into a luminescent mane of blond hair. All features below the face merged into a indescribable flux of colors.

Retreating from Morthos’ vision, he was once again surrounded by dark… only for the darkness to suddenly part like curtains upon a stage. A blinding orange radiance overtook him as he found himself in the presence of a neon hued … Woman? Swathes of colors skimmed over the surface of her body in a state of flux, while crimson red hair drifted off her head, shifting into a bizarre plumage of red feathers just above the neck. Two brilliant yellow eyes stared out and then Morthos dove into a inky patch of skin. Teal Skies filled with jellyfish were violated by the falling outline of a humanoid shape that acted as a window to bright crimson tones. Morthos caught brief glimpses of Swamps decorated with banners, and filled with Elves, only to reveal their lower forms to be serpentine. He saw the reflextive glimmer of a crystalline court ruled over by a Mermaid decorated in vast riches. Finally, he saw a mysterious figure being fought over by two monstrous forms, their red and blue colors reflected each in one eye as they each pulled at a arm…

This only leaves Aster. Poor Aster suffered the worst out of all our Heroes. First a vision of a drowned skeleton, surrounded by Sea Grass and Flowers. Then the horrific sight of a Paladin who’s very form was coming undone. The Dark Outline of a Skeleton with Sword and Armor contrasted by a overwhelming white background. This blinding light incinerated the Paladin, and from his dark ashes, something took shape. Against the white, the face of a Woman, and a monstrous beaked figure with thick billowing clouds of smoke pouring out of it’s nose. Piercing white Eyes stared out with menacing intent. The vision shifts to the shaft of a ethereal stringed instrument. A sad, sorrowful melody resonates from the ghostly instrument and the vision slowly transforms into the shape of a young man. Flanked by Gold, Sepia, and Shadow, a young man appears to hang his head with his eyes shut softly. He holds something, yet it is not quite clear what it is. It could be simply a flower such as a Rose, or perhaps a rod of some kind.

The vision dramatically spirals and erodes like sand in the wind, and inky black rain to begin to splatter onto canvas. Three twisted Avian-Man creatures descend and begin to viciously attack a young naked woman. White light radiates from her form as she struggles against their claws, and the frightful snapping beaks, with her black hair painfully fearfully shaking back and forth Faces fly at Aster, faces wracked with pain and suffering. Misery is etched onto their features. New visions of people who’s flesh slowly transforms into Wood and Marble, with talon like hands. Mountains of Stone grow faces and lie in slumber as a giant Wyrm descends from the heavens to unleash fire onto a small village. It’s terrible form snakes across the sky, seeming to stretch for eternity, while vast feathered wings block out the sun. Black clouds of smoke overtake everything.

A form reveals itself from this blackness, it’s skin covered in all fashion of strange inscriptions etched like a painful tattoo. The eyes focus with devilish intent, and fanged teeth reveal themselves from behind humanoid lips. A red tongue licks the teeth and lips. A whirlwind filled with violet feathers sweep across and dissolve the dark figure. Staring out at Aster from a small gap in the feathers, facial features, and a Amber eye with the diamond iris of a cat reveal themselves.

Everyone awakens from their uneasy dreams, but does not speak of what they have seen.

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A unexpected (Drinking) Party

Packing up their equipment after a night of uneasy dreams in the security of the secret room, the party sets out to further explore the keep and find a route down to the portal. Observing the map, the party decides to head back and try to work their way past the secret passage, and catch any enemies by surprise.

As the party leaves the secret room however, there is a unearthly silence in the previously noisy cavern. Unnerved and recalling the terrible Blue Slime that nearly wiped out the party, Morthos indicates that he has no intention of staying here, and promptly bolts out of the cavern at top speed. Aster and Rendar quickly rush after him.

After returning to the excavation room, they proceed to the secret passage, only to discover that the door prop has been altered. Anticipating ambush, they ready their spells and weaponry…. only to discover Goblin corpses, and a Shifter. After a tense stand-off, they discover their interest in stopping the Orcus cult is mutual, and they agree to work together. The Avenger had made his way into the Fortress, and had in turn ambushed the Goblins waiting to attack the party. He also had killed the Goblin Leader on this floor, a fat loathsome goblin named Bagron the fat while he slept.

As the party crept back into the room, they discovered they were hidden from sight by a curtain, but on the other end was a sleeping Goblin Warrior. Despite their best efforts 4 heroes cluttered into such a small area had little hope of remaining concealed, and one of the party members ultimately slipped up and revealed some type of presence to the dozing goblin.

Salvaging the situation, Morthos began to curse at the Goblin in his native tongue, and intimidating him with foul incantation. Terrified he slowly approached the curtain…. only for Rendar to Cleave through the Goblin and the Curtain in one fel roar of primal… Rage? No, Primal Impatience.

Aster in the mean time looted Bagron’s chest, and discovered supplies, and a Magic Wand. Looting Bagrons body revealed a key to the Door… and a key to the chest she just had opened. Not one of her proudest moments.

Sneaking through the hall, they discovered a strange magic veil of some sort and what looked to be Goblin Barracks. A failed Stealth Check alerted the Goblin horde to their presence, and a fierce battle was joined in the cramp confines of the hallway as Hordes of Goblins flooded out on three different sides. Nearly overwhelmed by the Goblins, it was only thanks to the timely use of the bottles of Alchemist’s Fire that they managed to divide the horde and deplete it’s members down to more manageable numbers.

After one last stand against the heroes, one of the surviving Veteran Goblins sprinted off in the direction of potential reinforcements – the Prison Block. Barely dodging attacks from Morthos and the others he burst out of the hallway in a dead sprint. The party followed after him just in time… to see the Goblins of the Cell Block pulling up Crossbows and taking aim at the doorway.

Already depleted from the first wave, the battle grew desperate as Morthos remained “trapped” outside the prison/ torture room, while utter chaos raged around the doorway. Aster, Rendar, and the Shifter were attacked on all sides by Dangerous Goblin Crossbowmen, Spearmen, and a wicked Hobgoblin Torturer wielding a hot iron poker. Aster was nearly tossed into a waiting Iron Maiden, while Rendar was knocked unconscious, but managed to revive himself with sheer RAGE. Aster was also downed, but revived with a health potion by Rendar. The Goblins and Hob-Goblin were defeated as Morthos managed to enter the room, and the Shifter managed to survive extreme damage and dodge what would have been mortal blows to knock one of the Crossbow Goblins into the pit of hot coals, and then gut the other one in an exhausted struggle to the death.

Oh, and Morthos got tricked into a cage by a Goblin, but used his Fey-Pact abilties to teleport out. (I bet you’re just proud of that fact aren’t you? Tricked by a Goblin, Hee hee!)

Taking stock amidst the carnage of the blood smeared room, the party did their best to patch up their most immediate and pressing wounds. A foul smoldering stench began to emanate from the burning corpse of the dead Goblin.

As he began to loot the corpse of the Hobgoblin, Morthos discovered a ring of rusty but functional keys, presumably to the jail cells in the room. While the rest of the party rested he travelled down the short hallway to the jail cells, and took stock of it’s occupants. In the first cell Morthos discovered a small sycophantic Goblin by the name of Splug who began to plead with Morthos to let him out of the cage. Morthos did not trust him, but agreed to use him as a servant in exchange for granting him freedom.

In the next cell though he found something entirely different. A human bard by the name of Montago, who promptly laughed at Morthos and his “ridiculous goat horns.” Cutting right to the chase, the bard explained with a bemused tone that he knew the secret of unlocking the Doorway to the next level of the Fortress, and would gladly lead the party into the depths of the fortress if he was granted his freedom.

After attempting to toy with Montago for a brief time, he consented and released the human, who promptly left to find where the Goblins had stashed his supplies. Returning with most of his equipment intact, he began to look over the parties injuries, and while humming the lyrics to a old “healing” song, properly bandaged and cured the party of it’s injuries to the best of his training.

He commented on Aster’s mask, and gave it a cursory examination. Morthos found this to be highly unusual and challenged him on the nature of his findings. Montago claimed that the mask was unique, and not of Nerath or Bael Turathi design. Morthos strained to detect any deceit in his voice, but could not discern any hidden truth.

After a short rest, the party set out.

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We can't stay here, this is Orcus Country.

Fully healed, and prepared for the coming trials, Montago and the party returned to the main entrance area, where he then unlocked the door with a secret magic password used by the Goblins. Aster had taken a liking to Splug, and kept a close eye on him. Morthos kept a burning eye on him as well.

They descended into the Darkness, and found themselves to be in a decrepit corridor. Aster quickly spotted a strange burning glyph etched into the floor of one corridor branch, but could not discern it’s true nature. Rocks were thrown at it, but to no result. Deciding to travel down a different branch, Montago tracked out towards what appeared to be a corner of some kind just visible at the edge of the candle light. Hearing unnerving noises in front of him, his posture froze and he harshly wispered for Rendar to toss him the Torch.

Rendar threw the torch, and Montago caught it, hefting it just in time to reveal…... the skulking forms of 8 undead humanoids. Calling out in surprise, the call to arms was quickly heard by the party, and they rushed forth to support Montago and do battle against the undead. Splug meanwhile tried to escape and head up the stairs, but was quickly caught by Aster and “leashed” with her Silk Rope.

After finishing the undead and taking a minor beating, the party decided to quickly advance into the next room lest further undead track them. Inside they found a Chapel of some kind, lined with large stone coffins. A atrange glowing blue-ish white light radiated down from the domed ceiling, depicting a mural of the Dragon God Bahamut. The party nervously advanced forward to investigate the far end of the room, while a strange clicking noise could be heard around them.

All at once the coffins opened, and 8 skeleton Warriors marched out to do battle, surrounding and separating the party. Grevious injuries were inflicted in just a short instance of the battle. Worse, after felling one of the undead creatures, they discovered that he was quickly replaced by skeletal reinforcements from the Stone Coffins. To top things off, several of the zombies they had just killed stumbled into the room, and quickly caused things to develop into a three way battle. Worse, the party saw no hope in sight for the Skeletons kept reinforcing themselves at every moment.

Leading the party at the start of the battle, and furthest into the room, Montago noted that a nearby alter was covered in strange scipt, which he recognized to be vaguely Draconic. After a strained session of shouting over the sound of combat, Aster was called up to decipher the words and see if there was any potential salvation from the skeletal threat.

Quickly translating the work, Aster discovered it to be a Prayer to the Platinum Dragon, indicating that to gain his favor you must merely invoke his prayer. Being hacked apart by Skeletons, the party quickly shouted at Aster to say the prayer.

With a burst of divine luminance, the Zombies crumbled into a heap of rotting flesh, while the skeletons ceased fighting, and marched back into their tombs.

The battle was over.

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Gone, but not quite forgotten

After a parle with the ghost of Sir Keegan, the cursed paladin who watched over the keep, the party set out with renewed vigor to reach the lowest level of the keep and put a stop to Kalarel and his wicked scheme to open a portal into the Shadowfell.

As they made their way past the trap runes and towards the entrance to the lower levels, they found a hsecret room that was once an armory for the keep. They were met by a magical illusion and a cryptic riddle… that Morthos immediately solved (Much to the voice’s dissapointment and chagrin I imagine) and a new suit of +1 Leather (or was it hide?) armor appeared.

The party set off down to the stairs… only to then encounter a frightened Elf who came dashing up the stairs in a mad panic.

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