The Reign of Darkness

Entry 21

Horned hold

The Shadowguard devised a plan to enter the Horned Hold from a section of the keep that appeared abandoned, by temporarily spanning the chasm using Gryffin Farstryder’s divine magic.

The strategy was critically successfully, allowing the heroes to enter the keep from its least defended section and strike at its leader – Murkelmor Grimmerzhul – immediately. Over the course of an hour, the Shadowguard had defeated all of the duergar and their thralls in the Horned Hold and freed over a dozen slaves (ten of whom were from Threshold).

Two disturbing pieces of information were recovered as a result of the Horned Hold’s conquest – 1) the freed captives reported that the two missing Threshold villagers were sold by the duergar to gnolls only days ago and, 2) the following letter (on the back of a map) was found:

Rundarr,

The conquest of the dwarven foundry by you and the Thralltakers is impressive.

Barulg indicates that his ritual to remove Moradin’s foul taint has been successful… the suffering and blood of its last guardians a gift to Laduguer.

I have completed my inspection of the site. Have my orc thralls finish their last order of weapons before packing the workshop’s equipment and coming here under your protection.

We await your quick arrival.

Master Smith Urwol

Story Hook – The Corrupted Foundry

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Entry 20

Suko caged

Gear recovered from the Iron Ring was returned to its rightful owners and additional equipment was purchased before the Shadowguard followed the clues regarding Suko’s location. Provided for generously out of the party’s funds, Garrett McLain decided to retire from adventuring.

In pursuit of Suko, the heroes headed for the Grimmerzhul Trading Post, expecting a fight. Hearing the sporadic sounds of an animal’s roar from an adjacent room, combat was avoided when Obakong offered the dark dwarf traders an offer they couldn’t refuse and Suko was handed over in exchange for a generous sum of gold.

With Suko freed and the confrontation at the trading post being resolved without violence, the Shadowguard made their way through the Labyrinth to the Horned Hold, where they believed the Threshold captives were being held.

The Horned Hold was an impressive defensive structure that spanned an underground chasm. After observing the keep’s routines for about a day and a half, the Shadowguard came up with a plan…

Minor Quest – Treasure Seeker

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Entry 19

The bulk of the Shadowguard was now in the Seven-Pillared Hall, searching for the Iron Ring’s whereabouts. After purchasing what supplies they could, getting to know some of the locals (like Brugg the Enforcer, Dreskin the Provisioner, Gendar, etc.) and spending a day gathering information, they followed up on the one clue they had – a curious halfling named Rendil Halfmoon.

Following rumors of his whereabouts, the Shadowguard located Rendil Halfmoon at an Iron Ring outpost – an unwilling captive of the slavers. Killing the brigands and hobgoblins at the outpost, the Shadowguard freed Rendil Halfmoon and earned his gratitude, as well as that of Halfmoon Expeditions.

With the promise of free room and board for the month at the Halfmoon Inn, the Shadowguard returned to the Seven-Pillared Hall with plans for traveling to the Iron Ring headquarters in the Chamber of Eyes under Rendil’s guidance the following day.

Meanwhile, in the wilds of the Foamfire Valley, Thalin and Garret McLain were making their way through the woods having avoided a direct path towards Saruun Khel in order to shake their pursuers.

When finally turning towards Saruun Khel they entered a valley as they approached the Minotaur Gate and came simultaneously upon two other individuals – the eladrin warrior Caseris and the half-drow enchanter Silvershadow. Following a tense stand-off, everyone discovered that they pursued similar goals and, deciding to band together, made their way to the Seven-Pillared Hall.

Chamber of eyes

It was at the Seven-Pillared Hall that the Shadowguard was reunited. Led to the Chamber of Eyes by Rendil Halfmoon, the party assaulted the Iron Ring’s headquarters and were victorious. They took Mendel the Merchant captive and, after making their way to the surface and interrogating him, killed him following his failed attempt to charm Ryn.

The Shadowguard hadn’t found the captives or Suko at the Chamber of Eyes, although sales receipts and contracts uncovered there implicated the duergar.

Minor Quest – Kruthik Hides

Minor Quest – Missing Moon

Minor Quest – Find the Boar

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Entry 18

Seven pillared hall

Gryffin Farstryder and Ryn had been chained to each other and with only a quick glance, agreed to run from their goblin captors. Soon Obakong descended and assisted them. The three of them evaded the goblin forces for the following days and nights, eventually making their way to the Seven-Pillared Hall of Saruun Khel.

Meanwhile, Thalin and Garrett McLain, chained to each other, had escaped the Iron Ring goblins as well and made their way through the wilderness – completely separated from their companions.

The whereabouts and fate of the final members of the ShadowguardRose de Printemps and Grunkh remain unknown.

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Entry 17

Foamfire valley

Investigations into the Iron Ring led the Shadowguard to believe that their best chances of tracking down Mendel the Merchant was by traveling to Saruun Khel.

During Ryn’s underworld investigations, he learned of Bairwin Wildarson’s black market dealings and entered into a small trade mission.

Normally a four day journey by foot, the protective measures to move through the Foamfire Valley relatively unobserved delayed the Shadowguard further. On one day they came across the bloodied remains of hunters that had been savaged by gnolls. But it was about halfway through their journey that they were ambushed by Mendel the Merchant’s Iron Ring forces augmented by hired mercenaries: the Scange, the half-orc bounty hunter Ulfur the Dwarfbreaker, the orc shaman Kandor, and warriors from a nearby goblin village.

Despite a long battle, the Iron Ring was victorious and took the Shadowguard captive – with the sole exception of Obakong, who wild-shaped into the form of an eagle and flew away. Locked in chains and manacles, they were led by goblins towards the Old Dwarf Mine while the Scange, the goblin village forces and Mendel the Merchant went their separate ways. Meanwhile, Obakong followed his companions overhead.

While en route to the Old Dwarf Mine, the goblins were betrayed by Kandor and led into an ambush by a small band of his orc allies. Though chained and gagged, a number of heroes were able to take advantage of the ensuing chaos to escape their captors and run off into the wilderness.

Minor Quest – Trade Mission

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Entry 16

With travel to and from Threshold reestablished (bringing a small caravan and the arrival of Rose de Printemps and Robin O’Dale – with his songs lauding praise upon The Furtherners), the dearly departed of the graveyard put back to rest and the undead threat to the village overcome, Lord Padraig Kovosar rewarded the Shadowguard by throwing a festival in their honor a few days later (as much to honor the heroes as to raise the morale of his people after such a series of setbacks).

The adventurers received bronze medals from Lord Padraig Kovosar upon which were engraved “The Champions of Threshold” and the monetary reward he had promised. But during the celebration, Thalin received the following note from a young boy paid to simply hand it to him:

Greetings, Grunkh, Gryff Farstryder, Obakong, Rose de Printemps, Ryn, Thalin and Yasir bin Hassan.

Your activities in Threshold have cost me no small amount of discomfort… discomfort I am all too willing to share with you. I have set Ulfur the Dwarfbreaker against you and take pleasure in the fact that your knowing this will make no difference. I will see every one of you in chains and your pet ape a carnival attraction… all while I continue to indulge in Yamane’s tender affections.

Mendel, Iron Ring Overlord.

Warden

Later, they received word from Sister Linora that a dozen villagers had gone missing during the final days of the Shadowguard’s assault on the Order of the Ebon Hand and that a young tracker had seen them enslaved by the Iron Ring and taken south into the Foamfire Valley. Threshold Cathedral offered the Shadowguard 500 gp if they could rescue the twelve captives and return them safely to Threshold.

That news, coupled with the information the heroes had brought out of Shadowguard Keep, led Lord Padraig Kovosar to commission the Shadowguard to investigate and eliminate the Iron Ring’s threat to Threshold and promised them 1000 gp for bringing back proof of its defeat.

Story Hook – Break the Ring

Story Hook – Slave Rescue

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Entry 15

As the Shadowguard was departing the dungeon beneath the ruins of Shadowguard Keep, they found a chamber in which a number of living human children were being kept captive. One of the children spoke of being captured by an obese man in Threshold and smuggled out of town in the hidden compartment of a barrel.

This information brought the Shadowguard new light to the note found in the Bone Knight’s chamber that read:

Mendel

Greetings, Lord Kalarel.

I have recently learned of your activity in the ruined keep and have an offer for you: During your time in this region, if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have allies in Saruun Khel in need of slave stock.

Mendel, Iron Ring Overlord.

Written upon the note with different script and ink:

I have no time to suffer these fools – drown them in the cistern!

Then it occurred to the heroes that they knew this man – Mendel the Merchant. They had met him at the Guild House in Threshold. He had befriended them, offered condolences regarding the death of Yasir bin Hassan’s father and even provided a gift of gold for the expense of making final arrangements.

However, when the Shadowguard got to Threshold they discovered that Mendel the Merchant had left days earlier, with Yasir bin Hassan’s mother Yamane.

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Entry 14

Using a portcullis that separated the area beyond, the Shadowguard secured themselves in order to rest and then descended deeper into the dungeon where they came upon the Cathedral of Shadows. There they found a font of infinite blood flowing from an altar to Urgathoa down into a deep pit that led to another chamber below.

Fighting and defeating Utha the Death Witch and Order of the Ebon Hand cultists in the Cathedral of Shadows, the Shadowguard used a combination of magic and skill to take the forces in the chamber below by surprise. That is where they came face to face with Lord Kalarel.

Lord Kalarel had partially opened the Dark Portal and was intent on finishing the ritual necessary to open it completely. From the Dark Portal an entity of evil darkness was able to reach through and attack the heroes, aiding the undead praetorians and deathlock also present in the chamber.

The Shadowguard was ultimately victorious – overcoming the undead forces in the chamber, disrupting Lord Kalarel’s ritual, reversing the ritual and successfully sealing the Dark Portal through the use of arcane and divine magic and the heroes’ very life forces.

With Lord Kalarel gone, the Dark Portal sealed and the Order of the Ebon Hand scattered to the wind, the undead threat to Threshold ended.

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Entry 13

The second level of the dungeon beneath the ruins of Shadowguard Keep challenged the heroes with a storehouse occupied by strange zombies that laid in wait for them, a corrupt pool that contained a blood weird, the Bone Knight and his skeletal swashbuckler consort and a labyrinthine crypt choked with corpses that was occupied by charnel ghouls.

It was during this foray that Obakong, intrigued by a wood column in a side chamber, discovered when he impulsively hugged it that the column was in fact the legendary Golden Staff. Rose de Printemps also recovered from the skeletal swashbuckler the legendary rapier Thorne.

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Entry 12

Following their success in the first level of the dungeon beneath the ruins of Shadowguard Keep, the party took the name Shadowguard and returned to Threshold only to find that the village was on high alert. As it turned out, in the party’s absence, a number of murders had taken place and the dead were rising in the graveyard.

Venturing to the graveyard the following morning, they were attacked by Ninaran (an elven archer with a sour disposition they had seen previously in Threshold) and a host of skeletons. Success in the battle was achieved when Ninaran was killed and Yasir bin Hassan dispelled the necromantic circle powering the undead. As they departed the graveyard the Shadowguard met Rose de Printemps, granddaughter to an established family in Threshold, who joined them.

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