The heroes were almost at Lord Troyas’ mansion. Thor however insisted that the victims would increase a hundredfold, or even more if raids were to happen again in Elsir Vale. He wished the others farewell and set off to warn the city of Overlook to the west, of the events in Brindol. Lucifer ordered Corrigan to accompany the dwarf and travel to Darastrix Oth to inform the Bahamut Knights of the raid. Now he was alone. He hoped Troyas could help him in some way, because this was no task that could be done by a single man.
When he entered Troyas’ mansion, there was a surprise waiting for him. Lord Troyas was not alone. With him were a dragonborn wearing heavy armor, a dwarf, and a very strange creature, which Lucifer could indentify as a githzerai. Troyas explained they were strong individuals that contributed greatly to the defence of the city during the raid, summoned by himself to aid in the rescue mission. The dwarf’s name was Barthum Stoneskin. He shot a recognising gaze at Lucifer. The dragonborn was called Rhasgar Karngaern, a mercenary whose party perished during the raid. The last one’s name was Tyrn’kog Horntsn’k, and that was all the information he wished to share about himself. Lucifer informed Troyas of the interrogation.
“I see. Damianrath’s healing powers were needed at the temple so he won’t be joining you. These are your companions for the mission I have assigned you. It is estimated that about half a dozen people are missing, among them the captain of the Golden Lions, Kartenix. Also, one more thing; the weapons the raiders were carrying were crafted by a strange type of black metal. We currently don’t know where it comes from, or who made the weapons, but should you discover anything of the matter, you have to inform us.”
The party discussed the way they would follow to reach Rivenroar and they set off. As they exited the city, clouds started forming and the sky darkened. Soon it was raining. After about ten hours of traveling through plains, forests and rivers, they finally reached castle Rivenroar, or at least what was left of it. The once magnificent stonework was now rubble scattered on the ground. Only a few parts of walls remained standing.
They approached slowly and silently. To their left they could see a clearing in the forest, where three dozen goblins and hobgoblins were enjoying the spoils of war by drinking, eating, fighting, playing dice or sleeping. If front of them however, was a sleeping beat up goblin, guarding the entrance to what appeared to be stairs that led to the castle catacombs underground. Lucifer sneaked up on the goblin, putting the blade of his scythe just an inch away from its throat, ready to cut it if it woke and made the faintest sound. The others walked by slowly without disturbing it. They were now inside the catacombs.
Flagstone dominated the entire catacombs, perhaps the work of dwarven hands. The atmosphere was cold and damp. The entered a room with three doors. Lit torches flanked the middle door, along with two braziers without flame. The doors had plaques with writings on them. The left one wrote: “To Von Urstadt”, the middle: “To Rivenroar Family” and the right: “To Von Jallach”. As they moved further inside, the braziers started moving across the room and flames were shot from one to the other, burning most of the heroes. They decided to take the door on the right.
They walked a corridor and went up some stairs. At the end of the stairs there was a writing. “Von Jallach Family Tomb” was carved in the stone. They entered a room with glowing runes arrayed in its center and a door to the right. Tyrn’kog could indentify it as a phonetic alphabet sometimes used by wizards. They tested it by throwing a bedroll on the floor. Dozens of small reptilian creatures appeared, their eyes glowing from the runes’ light against the darkness behind them. The heroes were startled, but it seemed that the drakes were just an illusion to scare off grave robbers. They opened the door. In this room they could see a well, and a beat up dwarf being tied in chains to the wall across. They freed him and he told them his name was Adronsius, Brindol’s alchemist. He thanked them, but said that others less endurable than him were taken prisoners and that they should hurry. They all returned to the first room and decided to take the left door, carefully avoiding the braziers.
They came upon a room with a door to their left and one across from them, that was used as Sinruth‘s troops’ sleeping quarters. To their bad luck the troops weren’t sleeping. Five hobgoblins were standing, obviously surprised to see them there, but not caught off-guard nonetheless. Their leader charged Barthum, but the dwarf managed to dodge his flail. Rhasgar moved in fast to the other four and breathed his lightning breath on them, electrocuting them all to death. Two goblins entered from the upper door, firing their crossbows. Rhasgar and Lucifer went to deal with them, while Barthum distracted the leader as Tyrn’kog wore his mind down. One of the goblins fell and the hobgoblin leader as well. The remaining goblin turned to flee, but the dragonborn’s blade pierced it through its chest as it tried to run away. While they searched the bodies, they noticed that the weapons were made of a weird black metal, just like the one Troyas had told them about. The way the goblins had come from was a long hallway with two ten-foot holes on the floor, ropes hanging over them. They decided to try the left door first.
As they entered the room, they saw in front of them a great portal, depicting a dark tower rising over rivers of lava and dark flying creatures swarming around it. The heroes could make out that this place they were seeing beyond the portal, was not of this world. It was a link to another plane of existence, a place called the Shadowfell. Other than that, there were doors to the left and to the right of the room. As they were investigating the portal, a ghostly figure spawned from a wall addressing the heroes.
“Who are you and what are you doing here mortals…?”
A chill went up everyone’s spine. They told it the reason they were here, and the specter enlightened them on the history of this place.
“Many years ago, so long I can’t remember… Time is irrelevant when undeath chains your soul. Many years ago this place was run by three powerful families. They, however, were not too open about their affairs to the outside world. The truth is they were secretly worshipers of God Vecna. When the goblin hordes were ravashing the land, the kingdom of Rhestilor sent out a call to arms. The Lords of Rivenroar did not respond however and kept their military power to protect their lands. After the goblins massacred nearly everyone in Rivenroar, my master and I along with some other followers hid in these catacombs.”
“As time went by, my master went mad with anger and regret. He found a ritual that was supposed to give him eternal life and insurmountable power. The price for this ritual was undeath… I wanted revenge for his failure to protect my slain daughters, so I helped him perform the ritual. The ritual worked, but only partly. He did not achieve lichdom, but something far inferior instead. He thought it was my fault, so he cursed me into this form, forever bound to this room. So I ask of you, adventurers, end his miserable existence, it is the only way my soul will ever be in peace…”
The heroes asked if he knew of the name Sinruth, and it responded that his master must have allied with Sinruth, the former letting him use these catacombs as a base for his ever-growing army, the latter providing him with living souls to use for his unholy rituals.
They entered the door to the right, finding themselves in the hallway with the holes in the floor. They were past the first one and easily cleared the second. They entered a big room filled with four sarcophagi and an altar. The altar was devoted to the God Bane. Upon further inspection however, they could see that it was desecrated by goblins, formerly being an altar devoted to Vecna. On the walls around the room was written: “Here lie the Rivenroars until the Day of the Black Sun. If you seek their monument, look at the lands around you” over and over again. There was a circular stair going upwards and a door to the south. They entered the door.
They entered a small room with four displacer beast statues at the entrance. Their eyes were glowing red. Across the room was an altar with a statue of the Raven Queen. Behind it was a woman, chained, her eyes wide open in fear. The heroes tried to calm her down from a distance, not knowing what the statues’ nature was, but her belief that they were here to hurt her grew stronger every time they shouted at her. Finally Tyrn’kog found the courage to walk by the statues. To his disbelief, nothing happened. Everyone else followed. He approached the woman and slapped her to snap out of it. She shrieked in fear. Adronsius stepped to her, shooting a warning glance at Tyrn’kog as he walked by him. He calmed her screaming down, and told the others that her name was Mirtala. She was a cook at the Red Door Inn. Lucifer noticed that the Raven Queen’s statue was holding a scythe emiting magical energy. He decided to chop off the statue’s arms for the weapon to drop on the ground and claim it for his own. The heroes took Mirtala and returned to the previous room, then went up the stairs.
They walked through a corridor and came to a door. Suddenly, they noticed, the air had grown colder, and there was frosting on the door. They tried to listen through the door and heared a sound of jaws gnawing. They knew something was on the other side. Taking battle formation, the opened the door and stormed in.
Then they saw the horror. Three rotten, unliving bodies were squating over a human body at the corner of the room. The man’s face had an expression of sheer terror engraved on his face. Tears streaming from his eyes were frozen on his cheeks. Parts of his body were missing, his stomach opened by teeth and nails. Adronsius managed to tell Mirtala to stay back before he vomited seeing this gore, then charged in along with the others. The cold coming from the undead bodies was unnatural, and they would surely freeze to death if they stayed in this room for too long. Rhasgar took up on two of the zombies, while Barthum held away the other one. The paladin was being ravaged by the hungry corpses, but in a demonstration of great valor, he kept standing. Tyrn’kog partly dominated one of Rhasgar’s adversaries, while the others took down the third. Then they all ganked up on the other two until they both fell.
Adronsius took a closer look at the half eaten body in the corner. His eyes opened wide when he saw a golden lion on the man’s tabard.
“Kartenix! My god…”