After depositing Captain Eddard Douvren at the local barracks to recover and sending a report to the Imperial listening station, Douvren promised to back up Squad 7 if the resistance they encountered was too heavy. Ava decided to begin by asking the inhabitants of Winterhaven about Shadowfell Keep. The most coherent explanation of events came from a local old-timer, Elian the Old, who was around at the time of the Fall. The most disturbing part of his tale was his talk of a rift beneath the keep, with corrupting powers over the mind.
Squad 7 voyaged to the Keep, where they descended inside the shell of the building, which appeared to Ava’s expert eye to be ancient beyond its years. Contending with the guards inside – and discovering an excavation within, digging southward, towards the site of the Dragon Excavation – they also freed a goblin prisoner, Splug, who they released after he told them about a secret entrance into the hobgoblin chief’s quarters. The group eventually managed to capture the hobgoblin leader of the first level – Balgron the Fat – who under duress told Ava that the proper password to enter the second level is, “and life fails in the dark.” The party returned with him to Winterhaven, where they deposited him in the jail.
However, all was not right in Winterhaven; there had been several disappearances during the night the PCs had been gone, and strange chanting coming from the graveyard. Fearing the worst, Squad 7 went to the graveyard, where Ava did some scouting and discovered disturbed coffins in a crypt. They cautiously entered, and were closing in on the source of the chant when the dead crawled forth from the ground to attack. The group dispatched the undead, though unfortunately a stray shot slew Ninaran, Kalarel’s spy in Winterhaven. The group deactivated the mystical glyph responsible for the necromantic magicks, and found a missive from Kalarel on Ninaran’s body, in elegant Common:
Ninaran, It appears you underestimated the interlopers you spoke of; Irontooth’s clan seems to be dead or scattered, and your reports that they were poking around for information about our headquarters are disturbing. Initiate the backup plan; I was hoping that Winterhaven could serve as food for the Dragonqueen when she emerges from the rift, but due to your… misappraisal of the situation, we must act fast to distract the mindless Imperials. Remember, your death is nothing compared to the furtherance of our goals – if your death manages to stop the meddlers, rest assured that Tiamat will reward you in the next world. If you must report back to me, do not forget that the password to the second level is “From the ground, some magic was found.”
For the resurgence of the Dark Mother. Kalarel
Squad 7 returned to town and recuperated to get ready for another foray into the Keep.