The adventure began with Ava and the rest of Squad 7 receiving a message from Hand Anabran Cane. The orders: to voyage to Winterhaven, to the east and north of the Dragonspire, and investigate the reports of increased kobold activity. While normally such a task would fall to a squadron of the Scale, in light of the events at Kayarn, Cane felt that an investigative presence might be called for. Squad 7’s orders were to canvass the area, then eventually meet up with Squad 4 to combine findings.
Squad 7 made their way to town easily enough, though they did have to contend with an ambush consisting of a black-tinged kobold wyrmpriest and several untinged kobold skirmishers. After poking around in Winterhaven, they got leads from a peculiar elf, Ninaran, and the local priestess of Avandra, Sister Linora, sending them to a waterfall from which the kobold raids seemed to be coming. Tracking them down, Squad 7 eradicated the variously-tinged kobolds, led by another wyrmpriest and a large goblin named Irontooth. Upon killing him, he was heard to cry, “Kalarel... Tiamat... prepare my way!” A message found on him revealed that the apparent leader of the cult, Kalarel, has a spy in Winterhaven, and mentions that the opening of the rift under Shadowfell Keep will be complete in a matter of a week or so. The party returned to Winterhaven by way of the Dragon Excavation, where they found a gnome and several shady-looking humans at work.
After taking an interest in the operations at the site, the gnome attempted to lure them down into the dig, and launched an ambush. After defeating the attackers, Squad 7 investigated and found the corpses of Squad 4, as well as the very much alive leader, Captain Eddard Douvren, stuffed into sacks scattered around the site. Poking around, the group noticed that, while the bones were fairly clearly draconic in nature, there did not appear to be any dragon skulls remaining at the site. Among the excavated goods, they found a small mirror with odd engravings on the back; Ava, instantly curious, took it back to Winterhaven with her, where Sister Linora told her that it was probably an artifact of Bael Turath. The squad made inquiries about the Keep and prepared to set forth.