The Dark

Session 0: The Hall
Yep. Kobolds are still annoying.

Frederick was speaking to Nimozaran the Green about an issue that was troubling the self-styled “High Septarch of Fallcrest.” The kobold brigands along the King’s Road had become brazen, far more so than was usual for their kind. He’d heard that they’d even gone so far as to steal an entire wagon filled with goods bound for Fallcrest. No, something was not right in “Kobold Hall.” He suspected that something more dangerous, more intelligent was guiding the kobolds’ actions…

Varek and Ragnar were speaking with a local armorer, a dwarf by the name of Teldorthan Goldcap. He was bemoaning his fate at the hands of the wretched kobolds who had stolen a wagon that had contained a cured green dragon hide that the dwarf had been planning on turning into a fine suit of scale armor for a wealthy patron. The two adventurers looked at one another, and the canny dwarf warrior asked Master Goldcap how much the return of the hide would be worth…

Seiric was idly eyeing the posted bulletins on the wall of what passed for city hall in Fallcrest. One in particular sparked his interest, signed by the Lord Warden himself. It appeared to be a bounty on kobolds rumored to lair in a ruined mansion complex, which had earned the amusing moniker “Kobold Hall.” Ten gold pieces per kobold slain plus a hundred gold piece bonus for proof of the chieftain’s death was difficult to ignore. He considered this as he made his way to the Blue Moon Alehouse, where he expected he would find his friends…

Session 1: Arrival in Winterhaven
Heroism 101

20 March, 103 CY

Balasar, Etholin, Morthos, Syler, and Tolis-Va walked along the Old King’s Road between Fallcrest and Winterhaven. Each of the young men had an interest in finding a man by the name of Douven Staul, an aged human who had influenced their lives in different ways in years past.

. . .

Balasar Sora-Ghesh, a dragonborn mercenary, had had business dealings with the kindly old man when his draconic family had roamed the land grifting those they could. He’d never approved of the practice of bilking people out of their hard-earned coin, and Staul had provided a friendly ear when Balasar felt he couldn’t speak to anyone else. Their discussions had led the young dragonborn to leave his family in order to seek his own way.

Etholin Immerial, an eladrin practitioner of the arcane arts, had been seeking his twin sister for many years, after she had been kidnapped by a man carrying the holy symbol of the orc god Gruumsh. That had been his only clue during his long search, and he had met Staul shortly after his journey had landed him in Fallcrest. The old man had willingly offered his assistance in researching cults in the region, and though their efforts had never uncovered anything concrete, the friendship that the human had offered had greatly restored Etholin’s flagging spirit.

Morthos Hyjilak, a tiefling and a natural born leader of men, had endured the cruel prejudice of some local children in Fallcrest in his youth, and Staul had intervened to rescue the young man from their torments. Though his father had advised against it, he developed a friendship with the aged man, who would always tell him fantastic tales involving great heroes of past empires. These stories drew Morthos’s mind further from his duties on the farm, and when he finally decided to leave, it was with his the blessing of his father (who was a former adventurer himself).

Syler Thyll, a halfling pickpocket, was raised on the streets. His quick hands had gotten him into trouble more than once in his short life. On one such occasion, he was spared humiliation (and arrest) by Staul’s intervention. The aged human had smoothed things over with the merchant from whom the halfling had stolen. His price for this good deed was small, a weekly visit to discuss any given number of topics. Thyll decided to humor the grey-hair. He HAD kept him out of the dungeon, after all. And he had to admit, some of the old man’s stories had made him laugh.

Tolis-Va, an elven woodsman, had first encountered Staul at his mother Valna’s shrine to Avandra, which was located along the Old King’s Road east of Fallcrest. The old man was an old friend of the family, and he said he was working on a book on the topic of the Nentir Vale. He spoke with Valna at some length about the Harken Wood and the Woodsinger Clan. Then they discussed Tolis-Va leaving with the human on his next trip, so that the young man could learn more of the world outside of his home. It was agreed, and the elven youth spent the next several years traveling with and learning from Staul.

. . .

Douven Staul was about a month overdue from an excursion to a supposed dragon tomb near the village of Winterhaven. His wife Bahla had appealed to each of the young men to find her husband and make sure he returned home safely. It was the third day of their journey from Fallcrest, and they were beginning to think that the tales of brigands on the road that they’d heard in town were greatly exaggerated. That was, of course, when the kobolds struck.

Session 2: Behind the Waterfall
"Get 'em!"

21 March, 103 CY (Continued)

The party arrived back in the village of Winterhaven around noon, and so they went to Wrafton’s to rest and have lunch. Salvana welcomed the group back warmly, and when she saw Douven she smiled brightly. “Found him, then, did ya? There’s a story there, I’ll wager. Best told over a cold ale, eh?” Turning to a serving girl, she said, “Sally! Lunch for the gentlemen.” The maid scurried to the kitchen while the innkeeper brought a couple of pitchers to the table. Winking at Douven, she said, “Lunch’ll be right out, lads.”

There were fewer people in Wrafton’s at this hour, but three men among the patrons stood out from those gathered. A sturdy, black-bearded dwarf with soot-stained clothing sat at a nearby table, dining and working on the bottom half of his own ale pitcher. A human bedecked in armor like that of the guards at Winterhaven’s entrance stood near the bar conversing with a half-elven woman. Another human sat nearby dressed in clothing that marked him as a successful merchant, if not nobility. Syler’s eyes reflexively flicked to the man’s belt in search of a coin pouch. Seeing none immediately evident, he turned his attention back to the meal and the conversation at hand.

Session 3: Into the Keep
Let the Personality Conflicts Begin!

23 March, 103 CY

The party awoke bruised and bound on a stone floor. Judging from the noise of the waterfall they were still in the cave, and two spear wielding kobolds stood silent guard about twenty feet away. The adventurers were each bound hand and foot behind their backs with some kind of coarse rope that chafed at their wrists and ankles. Additionally, Balasar had rope wrapped multiple times around his snout and tied tightly, and Etholin had been blindfolded. Though most of their possessions seemed to have been taken, the kobolds appeared to have left them in their armor. When the kobolds saw the party stirring, one looked to the other, which nodded and walked out of view. Balasar started to struggle against his bindings before the remaining guard moved over and smacked him hard in the nose. Syler started spouting off to the creature, but it just rolled its eyes at the bound halfling and walked away, shaking its head.

Morthos and Etholin began to talk quietly about what they should do, while Tolis-Va decided to be more proactive. He attempted to disguise the fact that he was trying to wiggle free from the ropes binding him. The adventurers stilled as the two kobold dragonshields came around the corner with the returning guard. One of them approached the group, stopping a few feet away before speaking, “You’re probably wondering why you’re ssstill alive. It is because you are to be sssold as ssslaves. That is…unlesss you can convince me that you can be of sssome ussse to usss.”

Interlude: Kobold Diplomacy
Consequences & Repercussions

23 March, 103 CY

Griktik sat alone by the river half a mile from the waterfall cave feeling sorry for himself. Yesterday had been a near complete disaster. The priest Korvot had said something about Winterhaven’s leader having finally found some fools to try and stop Irontooth. And they’d damn near done it. The artillerist had gone out “looking for alchemical components” after he’d been forced to help dig the mass grave by that bully Trivok. Hadn’t Korvot ordered the warriors to do the grunt work while the wyrmpriest went to report to the goblins about the marauder’s death?

Griktik didn’t have any clutch being held by the goblins. He was here because he was a believer. He knew that not all of the kobolds shared his faith in the priest and the demon lord Orcus, but soon enough they would see how wrong they’d been to doubt. What matter the lives of a few sniveling kobolds not strong enough to take up arms themselves and better their station? Pah! They weren’t worth considering.

The slinger heard footsteps approaching and saw the hated dragonshield soldier Trivok approaching, probably to try to order him to do some other task meant for lesser creatures. He would refuse this time, he decided, and he stood to face his armored rival. He barely felt the steel of Trivok’s sword slide between his ribs and pierce his heart. His eyes bulged as he reached down to the mortal wound. “T… traitor…” he managed, before his vision faded and he slumped to the ground.

Session 4: Shadows of Kalarel
or "Kicking Ass and Taking Names"

23 March, 103 CY (Continued)

After a brief discussion, the party decided it was best to returned to Winterhaven for rest, and to report what they had learned. As they drew close to the walled village, they noticed that the small fields surrounding it seemed strangely empty. Inside the walls, the few villagers they saw walking around appeared nervous, pausing to give furtive glances before darting away. Syler looked at one of the gate guards and asked, “So, what’s going on here? Why are people so jumpy?”

“I don’t know about them… I just feel out of sorts, is all. Like someone walked on my grave, you know? I’ve felt like this for a couple of days, I guess.”

They entered Wrafton’s Inn, where Douven sat speaking with Valthrun. When he saw them walk through the door, their old friend was elated and practically sprang from his seat to hug them all. “Where have you boys been? You said it would just be an afternoon jaunt. When you didn’t return, I assumed the worst.”

Tolis-Va answered, “We made a deal and then decided to go to the keep. Killed some goblins there.”

Douven looked at him quizzically, “A deal?” Then he shook his head before speaking to what he must have thought a more relevant point, “And what, then you spent the night there?”

Morthos lied smoothly, “Oh, we spent the night in a cave. There was a waterfall. Quite soothing, really.” The others nodded wordlessly, except Balasar, who just looked confused.

“Oh! Well! Fantastic, then! Perhaps I’ll have to visit this cave of yours. Sounds very therapeutic.”

Session 5: Two Dark Paths
Zombies Are Our Bitches

25 March, 103 CY (Continued)

As Splug waved goodbye and headed down the hallway towards the exit, a discussion broke out about what to do next. “Should we deal with the boss first, or set the kobolds free?” asked Morthos.

“Kobold boss?” replied Balasar, sounding confused.

The tiefling shook his head, “No, I mean, should we free the kobolds before we try to fight the goblin boss?”

“Uh… Will they help fight?” asked the dragonborn.

Morthos raised an eyebrow, his mouth open as if to speak, but no words came out. Tolis-Va chuckled, “I think we should go deal with the boss.”

Balasar nodded, “Okay, we fight the boss.” He began walking toward the door imprisoning the kobolds. The others looked at each other and shook their heads.

Balasar opened the door to reveal a relatively small chamber serving as a cell for about twenty kobolds. These creatures were all shorter and smaller of frame than the warriors they’d fought previously. They all flinched away from the opening door at first, but when they realized that there were no goblins there waiting to exact more torment upon them, one of the creatures spoke up in Draconic, “You’re not goblins.”

Interlude: Common Ground
Draconic as a Second Language

March 25, 103 CY

Zalketh and the other kobolds had been locked in the stone prison for well over a month. The goblins and hobgoblins working for the scary human had taken them from their homes and dragged them to this frightening ruin. They hadn’t been fed often or well, and sometimes, the cruel hobgoblin would pull some of them into the next room for a torture session.

When the door opened, Zalketh could not hep but flinch along with the others, assuming the goblins had returned for more sport. Instead, she saw a large scaled humanoid that Zalketh thought she recognized as a “dragonborn.” Some others stood behind him in the hallway, and though she could not see them clearly, they all seemed too tall to be goblins. She stood in front of her hatchling, the youngest of Trivok’s brood, and said in her native tongue, “You’re not goblins.”

A devil man stepped up beside the dragonborn and replied in Draconic, “No, we are not. We killed them.” It could have just been the devil man’s strange accent, but Zalketh thought she heard a threat in the words, and her eyes widened in fear.

In a quavering voice she said, “And now you’re going to kill us?”

Session 6: Caves and Crypts
Pay Attention

26 March, 103 CY

After another night’s rest back in Winterhaven, the party returned to the ruined keep and continued their exploration of the natural cavern. The southern tunnel opened into a smaller chamber, which emanated a musky, snakelike scent. There was an open pit just before the tunnel widened, and at the bottom lay the unmoving form of a broken, six-limbed reptile. Tolis-Va easily identified the creature as a kruthik, a deadly reptile that tended to live in hives. His keen eyes also noticed shards of what appeared to be a thin layer of flagstone scattered around the corpse. Scanning the chamber by Morthos’s sunrod, the elf also noticed a section of the floor in the first part of the chamber that seemed slightly elevated, as though it concealed something below. He suspected another pit trap. Syler dropped his waterskin on top of the tile, and when it did not break, he left the skin there to mark the location, so that the party could avoid it.

The group moved cautiously into the chamber, noticing very narrow cracks in the walls that even Syler would have to squeeze to get through. Following a tunnel to the west, they came to the edge of a chamber filled with several more of the kruthiks clustered around a small pile of loose coins and other objects. The creatures were six-limbed reptiles with insect-like traits. Silvery chitinous plates covered their bodies and short tails, and each had four limbs that ended in scythelike claws. The creatures had two smaller limbs, which had finer digits close to the body. The heads were vaguely reptilian, and the lower jaws were a toothed plate flanked by serrated mandibles. Most of the kruthiks were no larger than small dogs, but one was the size of a wolf.

Session 7: Subterranean

27 March, 103 CY

Having decided that they had better recuperate from the battles so far that day, the adventurers returned to the room behind the secret door and rested the night. They woke in the morning, ate a light breakfast, and moved to the stairs that lead down to the lower level. As they descended past the extent of Etholin’s magical light, he moved the cantrip to a stone and tossed it down. It bounced down to a landing and off the wall to continue clattering downward. The wizard moved the cantrip again to Balasar’s armor, and the dragonborn warrior led the others down the stairs.

The stairs descended into a large, torch-lit chamber with what appeared to be an open well in the center. Two human-sized creatures stood near the entrance. Big, pointed ears stuck out from under their helmets, and sharp teeth glittered in their mouths. One of the guards yelled out a challenge phrase in the Common tongue, “Shadow seeks shadow!”

Syler responded with the pass phrase they’d found in the note on the elf spy’s body, “In the ground some magic was found.”

The hobgoblin’s eyes widened, and it yelled over its shoulder, “Someone tell Kalarel that Ninaran is slain!”


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