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The Howling Crag

The adventurers were given the directions to a secret passage into the warrens beneath the Howling Crag. They managed to get through without killing any stone giants and destroyed the purple stone which had driven the Thane mad. They brokered an alliance after the Thane came to his senses. The Thane’s sister was arrested by the Thane and his frost giant emmissary was sent back to the Glacial Rift. Danica Songstone, a dwarf emmissary, was released along with 10 dwarf masons. The dwarves and stone giants sent the adventurers to the Glacial Rift on a pair of rocs. They hope Theren, Uthrid, Nim and Rudy can infiltrate the Glacial Rift before the frost giant emmissary returns there and tells the Jarl that the treaty with the stone giants is broken. The dwarves are sending Finn, Borri, Gorec, Holgar and Kamaand to meet the adventurers but they must travel on foot and will take a few days. The dwarves also have given the adventurers a powerful item called a dragon orb which the can use against the twin dragons who are said to guard the doors to the Jarl’s fortress. The adventurers’ mission are to assassinate Jarl Grundar and steal his battleplans as well as meet with a frost giant called Vaald who claims he is the Jarl’s advisor and has promised the dwarves he will end hostilities if they kill the Jarl.

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Against The Giants

Rudy, Nim, Theren and Uthrid cleared out most of the hill giant steading including a fire giant and iron dragon in the basement level. They left some areas of the basement alone. A shrine to an old deity was left unexplored and they avoided the caverns where a roper lived and others that housed some umber hulks. They woke the stone giant emissary but kept him in restraints. With his help they urged some other stone giants in the basement to surrender and rescued some more enslaved humans and dwarves and a half orc called Javok.

So, with most of the steading’s treasure stowed on their ponies as well as their dead dwarf friends Alden and Durin, the remaining dwarves, Finn, Borri, Gorec, Holgar and Kamand, escorted the adventurers, the three stone giant prisoners, ten human ex-slaves and fifteen dwarven ex-slaves and Javok to their secret dwarven stronghold at the mountains edge. The stronghold was guarded by a meager group of dwarves ruled by King Kannan. The old king greeted them with a gift of residuum in large volume and some rituals including Enchant Magic Item. Over the next couple of days Nim, with the help of Borri, Holgar and Kamand, created a magic item for each of the adventurers. King Kannan explained the dwarves situation and promised the rest of the stronghold’s horde to the adventurers for further assistance.

The dwarves were charged with watching the Crystalmist Mountains for giant activity. If the giants became restless (as they recently had) the dwarves were to drive them back into the mountains and send warning to the Dragonmaw Canyon and Ekkia Byror. The humanoid settlements nearby were now mostly ruined and mercenaries from the south had come up to take on the giants but most that ventured into the mountains to assault the Howling Crag or the Glacial Rift had not returned. The stone giants had recently been allies of the dwarves and the king had heard that a purple stone had been unearthed in the stone giant warrens below the Howling Crag and this stone had driven the stone giant thane mad. Since his madness, the thane’s sister had taken command and allied the stone giants with the other giants. King Kannan had three quests for the adventurers to accomplish in order to earn the stronghold’s horde:

1. Infiltrate the Howling Crag and release the thane from his madness. Then broker an alliance with the stone giants.

2. Infiltrate the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, assassinate the Jarl, steal his battle plans and meet with Vaald, the Jarls’ advisor, who has promised to end hostility if the Jarl is killed, and determine if his promise is valid.

3. Infiltrate the Hall of the Fire Giant King and determine what has stirred them up.

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Nosnra and Vaarg

The adventurers launched their attack on the hill giant chief Nosnra in the main hall when he sent a couple giants to the front gate to replace the guards. At this time he had also sent some orcs slaves and an ogre taskmaster to the kitchens with a cooked pig and lamb so that the rear dining room could be prepared for Vaarg and some other giant raiders who resided in the barracks. The dwarves headed off the replacement guards while the adventurers dealt with Nosnra and his attendants. The dwarves did a good job and brought down twoi giants while the adventurers killed Nosnra and the others. One giant escaped the hall and ran to the kitchens to alert Vaarg. After sweeping through the hall for valuables the adventurers fortified themselves in one of the hallways and took a short rest. Soon giant were banging on the hallway doors and another battle took place. Vaarg was a hill giant werewolf and the dwarves tried to hold him off as well as a pack of five dire wolves whiule the adventures battled giants and ogres at the other end of the hall. Ultimately Vaarg was killed. Theren peppered him with silver arrows that had been found in an urn by Nosnra’s chair in the main hall. The dire wolves fled when Vaarg dropped and the other giants and ogres were defeated. Alden and Durin, two of the dwarves were killed in the battle with Vaarg and some of them contracted moon fever. In all, four hill giants, 15 orc slaves and the five dire wolves fled the steading. Finn and Gorek took posts in the steading watchtower and everone else rested. Nim and Holgar used remove affliction rituals to heal those who contracted moon fever and to remove the curses the adventurers had picked up in Baba Yaga’s hut. Removing the curses almost cost Uthrid his life but Theren assisted with some crucial advice and Holgar succeeded with the ritual. Holgar and Kammand cast a gentle repose ritual over the bodies of Alden and Durin. After exploring the entire top level of the steading another stairway to the basement was discovered in a secret room off of Nosnra’s den. A magical vegeful longsword was found in the barracks and Uthrid took possession of the weapon.

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The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief

The steading was a large wooden structure comprised of mostly five foot thick tree trunks. The walls were fifteen feet in height and the main building rose to thirty feet at it’s peak. Smoke drifted from the large chimney in the center and from most of the chimneys around the structure. Attached to the main building was a lookout tower on the southern side. On the northern side was a smaller building and the tall walls fenced in a large courtyard between the two buildings. Theren and Gorek approached the fort unseen by the lookout tower. Theren quickly determined that dire wolves inhabited the courtyard between the buildings so they snuck around to the front of the building and got a look inside the front gates. A hill giant and four ogres slept inside the hall and at least one other hill giant was in the tower above the hall. Dishes and mugs lay about the hall and revelry could be heard from behind a set of large double doors that led further into the Steading. Two smaller sets of double doors were at opposite ends of the guard hall. Theren and Gorek reported to the rest of the group and soon most of the band were on the doorstep to the giants’ lair. Kamand and Holgar were held back to guard the ponies and donkeys. The adventurers and dwarves quickly and quietly murdered the sleeping giant and ogres. They soon heard some giants talking in the tower. One was coming down to take a nap and wake the now dead giant. The adventurers ambushed the giant and two in the tower were alerted. The guards in the tower struck a gong to which no one responded and soon the adventurers with a little help from the dwarves had dispatched all the hill giants.
They checked the two smaller sets of doors which flanked the larger set and found the both were twenty food wide hallways that went fifty feet. The eastern hall had double doors at the end on the eastern all. The western hall had doors at the end on the western wall. Theren checked the western doors and found a hallway that went west sixty feet with double doors on both sides at the end. The hallway also travelled one hundred feet to the north before heading west. A set of doors on the eastern wall of that hallway was opened by an Orc slave carrying serving trays. They found sleeping ogres in one room at the end of the western hall and they quietly murdered them. There were two stone giants in the other room at the end of the hall. They surprised the giants and killed them. They found some treasure including residuum and the rituals remove affliction and raise dead. They had heard the giants talking before they killed them. They were wondering when Laertar would be coming back to the room. It was obvious this as another stone giant so they waited and ambushed him when he arrived an hour later. The dwarves investigated while the heroes took out the stone giant emissary. There was a huge central hall where the hill giant chief Nosnra had been feasting with the stone giant emissary and other hill giants. He was believed to be dozing at a great table in the hall while several pigs, sheep and an ox were roasted over a fire in the center of the room. The northern side of the hallway where the stone giants resided led to the kitchens and orcs had been seen coming nag going between the kitchen and the main hall. The other hall off the guard hall led to a room full of young hill giants. The adventurers decided to take out the young and their babysitters next and the managed to kill the chief’s mate, all the young and four other hill giants without attracting attention. They then took an extended rest and got ready to assault the rest of the Steading.

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The Crystalmist Mountains

Nim, Uthrid, Rudy and Theren awoke in an encampment surrounded by a few natural stone formations. A field of tall grass led north from the encampment creating a path through a jungle that encroached on the rest of the view in all directions. Mountains rose from foothills beyond the grassy path. The adventurers found themselves stripped down to their small clothes. The were tucked into bedrolls and there was a pile of equipment tied to two mules by the campfire. They found a few days rations each in beans and rice, nuts, water and a fine bottle of wine with the equipment. There were sets of hide armor for the taller people. Nim got a dagger, Rudy took a battle-ax, Uthrid ended up with a spear and Theren got a mace and a sling. Their treasure trove of gold and magic items were gone. They could no longer take food for granted because the Basket of Everlasting Provisions was gone. They had no Bags of Holding to carry all their gear. The transformation from riches to rags was devastating to the moral of the party. They had been left with a few torches, flint and steel, some rope and some throwing axes. They had no rituals but they all still had the Mark of the Tembo and the Greatwing Tattoos. There was a map with the equipment and a letter from Baba Yaga. The map showed that the adventurers were just southeast of the Crystalmist Mountains. North of the Mountains was a land called the Wastelands and Skull City. Jungle covered most of the area before reaching the sea in the south and east. These waters were labelled: The Desolate Waters of $&@¥£€#. The map indicated villages in the foothills of the mountains. The note from Baba Yaga congratulated the adventurers on avoiding her cook pot and thanked them for the many valuable items they had brought her. It explained that they had been interviewed but they would not remember the sessions. She revealed that some of the items they had carried had powers they did not know of. In particular she told them the necroshard longsword INVERNESS that Uthrid had carried was a lich’s phylanctary. She also left each party member a randomly drawn card from the Deck Of Many Things but they each chose to burn the card instead of accept it’s benefit or curse. They were attacked by worgs but fended them off and got used to their new weapons.

After lamenting that they were too weakened to continue their quest in Skull City they decided to head for the foothill villages that their map promised would be there. They came to a ruined village at daybreak and observed a group of dwarves laying their mentor to rest. They revealed themselves to the dwarfs and learned that hill giants had raided the village and taken dwarf and human prisoners. The pass to other villages had been cut off by giants in the mountains and travelling through the jungle was impossible in the dwarves’ opinions. They knew where the hill giant steading was located and planned to there to seek revenge and perhaps free their captured friends. When the adventurers volunteered to aid them they quickly gathered any gear they could find to better arm their new friends. Alden was the oldest of the dwarves, who were mainly career miners. Finn was nearly as old as Alden and he was the only one trained as a soldier. Finn carried a great ax and wore plate mail armor. Alden acted as the leader of the group and carried a war pick. Borri was a young blacksmith’s apprentice whose master was one of the dwarves who had been captured. He showed excellent skill as he fitted an old set of scale armor for Uthrid and sharpened up some swords for the fighter and Rudy. Alden found a bow and 30 arrows for Theren. Garek was the teams burglar and specialized at scouting and using his knives. Durin, Holgar and Kamand also carried war picks. Holgar was the teams cook and a capable herbalist. Kamand was the youngest and was responsible for tending to the ponies. In short order, they set off toward the steading. They hoped they would arrive to find the hill giants drunk from celebrating the recent raid. Uthrid had to ride on of the ponies because his joints were aching badly. A yellow chicken footprint had appeared on his forehead as well and he occasionally clucked uncontrollably. Nim was having disturbing thoughts that sometimes distracted him. Holgar had no remedy for their maladies which they figured were curses they had picked up in Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut.

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The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga

The adventurers travelled back across the western Nentir Vale from Restwell Keep to Winterhaven and on to Fallcrest. Uthrid sent letters to the senetors of Sosh were his family had holdings. They were the regions governed by Senetor Barjun and Senetor Herrack.
Theren sent message to his family in the Rain Valley.
They all headed north through the Sword Barrows and found the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga at the edge of the Winterbole Forest. The 15 foot wide and tall hexegonal hut sat upon two 15 foot chicken legs and spun in erratic circles as the chicken legs danced within a 100 foot diameter circular fence. The fence seemed to grow out of the ground and sttod five feet in height. It was topped at each post by a humanoid skull with glowing red eyes. A gate to the fence was constructed of vertically aligned bones but some bones constructed a mouth-like adornment in the gate’s center. When the adventurers approached the mouth spoke. It asked them if they had an invitation which they did not. Theren explained that they wanted to consult Baba Yaga about the whereabouts of Skull City and the legendary Tomb of Horrors. After convincing the guardian fence that they meant the Archfey no harm they were allowed to pass. The simple 15 X 15 foot hut was actually enormous within. The first room of the hut appeared to be the entirety of it except for a door directly opposite the one in which the entered, and a ladder which led to a door in the ceiling, and a hidden trap door in the floor. Vladamir the cat told them about the hidden door. He was an actual cat that could speak and was very sad but kind. He was not allowed to leave that first room but the heroes fed him and were kind to him and he told them as much about the place as he could. Mostly that Baba Yaga was often cruel and always unpredictable.
Inside, the adventurers battled some shadow puppeteers. Nim was tricked into touching a strange thrown in a long pillared hall by an apparition of Baba Yaga, the touch caused his mind to become confused and he would have suffered psychic damage if not for the protection of his purple dragon commanders’ ring. His initiative has suffered since this took place. He has disturbing thoughts that he can never quite remember a second later but they are distracting and often leave him feeling a sense of dread.
A drunken mouse, the size of a cat, gave them directions to Baba Yaga’s room after they went with him to the wine cellar for a drink. When they reached Baba Yaga’s room they were immediately attacked by Baba Yaga, a night hag, a slime devil and a clay gollum. The night hag and clay gollum were brought down during the long combat but so were Uthrid, Rudy and Theren. Theren activated the Sun Sliver during that battle and shortly after he fell unconscious. Nim escaped the room and met a woman who claimed to be the Archfey’s daughter Natasha. She was beautiful and convinced the gnome to return to the Baba Yaga. Natasha was sent away immediately after she escorted Nim to Baba Yaga’s quarters. It was a large room with a cauldron in the center, in which the slime devil had been hiding. Four rooms were curtained off symmetrically from the octagon shaped room. The clay golem still lay on the floor but the night hag, the slime devil and Nim’s friends were nowhere to be seen. The creature they had believed to be Baba Yaga stood frozen in the middle of the room with a shocked expression. A secret door was open in one of the walls and the real Baba Yaga stood by a red knight. The knight was fully suited in armor and carried a heavy shield and longsword. His face was not visible behind the helmet. Nim was nearly powerless against the real Archfey and he surrendered all of his belongings. Nim then willing drank a potion that Baba Yaga ordered him to and he fell unconscious.

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New Quests

After being rewarded by the Ghost Talon shadar kai, the adventurers went to Irontooth’s former lair where refugees and bandits were hiding out. They delivered the message to Carthain the former bandit lord that Fallcrest would welcome anyone who wished to come back to the town and be an upstanding citizen. Nim made it clear that any raids on merchant caravans would be punished. Terrlen Darkseeker, former Thunderspire guide and current werewolf, snuck up behind the adventurers as they talked but he greeted them warmly and assured them that Jax the Fox kept the former bandits in line and anyone who wanted to go back to town were welcome to leave the group.
After speaking with the refugees, the adventurers took a trip to Keep Restwell. They wanted to see if the Mages of Saruun would assist them in dealing with Paldemar. They spoke with a silver masked Mage about Paldemar and also the thinning of the mortal world and the links between it and the Shadowfell and the Feywild. The Mage believed the thinning of the worlds was unrelated to Paldemar. He asked Rudy if he knew a dragonborn witch called Surina. Rudy was vaguely familiar with her. She was thought to be crazy by the people of the seven pillared hall when the Beheaders had been rescuing Farrah Goldleaf from the Horned Hold. He also recalled that she had told Brother Iannas that he could find Rudy in Janus Gull on the date that Rudy had accidentally arrived there. Brother Iannas had reached that Demiplane a year too early however and died and it was his ghost that had relayed this to Rudy.
The Mage now told Rudy that he had met Surinam and that she seemed to know quite a bit about Rudy. She had told the Mage that Rudy would come to him and that he should tell Rudy to seek out the dancing hut of Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga was an archfey known to some as the mother of all witches. It would be a perilous quest because Baba Yaga was unpredictable and was just as apt to eat someone seeking her advice as she was to help them. Her hut could presently be found at the edge of the Winterbole Forest just north of the Sword Barrows. The reason Surina told the Mage they should seek Baba Yaga was because Acererak the demilich was responsible for the thinning of the worlds and his ultimate goal may be even worse. Destroying the eldritch engines had delayed his plans but he still needed to be stopped. The adventurers needed to explore Acererak’s former tomb for clues as to his plan, they might even find him there. The tomb was located in Skull City centuries ago and the only ones in the area that would know of it’s location would be an ancient dragon or an archfey. So the adventurers were given a few quests: find Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut, gain an audience with the archfey, learn the location of Skull City, explore Acererak’s tomb and ultimately foil his plan.

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The Thief Of Life cont.

Uthrid returned from the dragon’s lair after bringing the dragonslayer sword to it. The dragon told him they must go to the lighthouse off shore and light it in order to get back to the mortal world. They found a dilapidated boat named The Mist Dancer and took it to the small island where the lighthouse stood. They fought some bodaks and ghouls on the island and lit the pyre in the lighthouse. They then rested while they waited and four hours later they felt the air change and realized they had crossed over. Everything looked mostly the same in the darkness but some lights could be seen across the water where the village lay. The boat was no longer on the bank of the island but soon they saw a light moving across the water. Shortly, Father Tomas arrived on a slightly better looking Mist Dancer with armed sailors. A pretty half elf woman called Cara was the captain of the small merchant ship. She and her men had been trapped in Mistwatch since the disease had broken out. Tomas explained that shortly after the dead rose during the day and converged on the keep they had suddenly all just dropped to the ground, dead again. The shadar Kai had come into the village after they confirmed that the disease was cured and were helping clean up the streets. The adventurers explained what they had gone through with Cadmus and the Chained God and the undead dragon. Before they headed back to Winterhaven, the adventurers discovered that Mort’s supply store had been broken into. The door frame was smashed in and the clutter in the main room had all been hastily pushed aside. Theren investigated and found some blood, a large three taloned gouge in the floor by the blood and a pale dragon scale in the broken door frame. The adventurers were now concerned that the undead dragon had crossed over to the mortal world as well and abducted Mort. They left the 50 shadar kai behind to search the village for any sign of the dragon and they brought the broken mirror back to the Keep on the Shadowfell.

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The Thief Of Life

The mausoleum was on top of a hill with several others. The landscape was very similar to Mistwatch in the mortal world and the mausoleums were located where the keep would have set. A large crater behind the hill and a pond with streams running around the hill were different features here from what the adventurers had found in the village. Thousands of graves and dozens of mausoleums were spread along the lake coast. Three large mausoleums were located approximately where the Temple of Three sat in Mistwatch. The adventurers investigated the other mausoleums on the hill. They bore the names of Boris Zaspar and other Zaspar relations. Each held a sarcophagus with a trapped base. They returned to the mausoleum they had originally found themselves in and set off the trapped base, letting the sarcophagus fall in. This revealed a passage into blackness. Theren took a torch and was lowered down the hole on the rope of climbing. He found a large cavern under the hill with many coffins stuck in the ceiling and others laying on the earthen floor. The ceiling was fifty feet high and several earth columns caused unsettling shadows. Theren was quickly aware that something huge was moving toward him, a dragon with pale scales and dead eyes. It flew at him on strong wings with claws and teeth bared. Theren yelled for his companions to pull him up but he had trouble holding on causing just enough delay for the dragon to reach him as the others pulled him back through the hole. A claw raked his flesh. Rudy had been weakened badly in the previous battles and none of the adventurers were ready for a long fight. Uthrid insisted on facing thedragon while the others retreated. Nim could set up wards against the undid but he would need Tim to do it. The party objected that Uthrid stay behind and then headed for the larger mausoleums across the streams, below the hill. As they ran they heard the dragon roar and the clash of Uthrid’s steal as he covered their escape. The large mausoleums were shrines to Melora, Erathis and Pelor. The symbols of the Chained God that desecrated the Temple of Three were present here and Rudy and Theren wiped the walls clean as Nim prepared his wards. Theren noticed two sword wraiths appear by a mausoleum on an island created by the streams at the base of the hill. They did not advance but seemed to be keeping sentry. As Nim was finishing his wards, Theren saw Uthrid emerge from the mausoleum and come down the hill. He told Theren that after battling the dragon and showing that he was formidable, he was able to negotiate with the dragon. The dragon said he would tell them how to return to Mistwatch if they gave him the dragonslayer longsword they had recovered from Cadmus and if they left Mistwatch disease free once they returned. The party agreed and Uthrid brought the sword to the dragon.

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Not Again!

Theren, Rudy and Uthrid ran for the keep and reached the gates before the zombie hordes. Three zombies from the small graveyard within the keep shuffled toward them as they secured the doors of the gate and the child horror, now a zombie hulk, came through the inner keep door into the courtyard. The heroes quickly dispatched the monsters. Inside they discovered that the corpse of Cadmus and the mirror were gone. Theren found blood and tracks leading to stairs but a locked door blocked their passage. As Uthrid and Rudy attempted to bash it down they heard the zombie break through the gates. Once the door was broken down, Uthrid led the way up the stairs and was struck by a falling portcullises which immobilized him and caused him to bleed. Another portcullises dropped at the top of the steps. Rudy and Uthrid lifted the gate and were targeted by ghostly crossbow bolts from the top of the steps. The zombies were coming into the building behind Nim and he obliterated the first group with his sorcery. Ghosts harassed the party as they came up the stairs. They dropped the portcullises behind them to keep the zombies away. After defeating the ghosts they found Cadmus, now a wight, with the mirror in a room on the second floor. The wight attacked but they quickly smashed the mirror before the reflection of the Chained God could react. The wight immediately died and fell to the floor as the room was suddenly transformed into the interior of a twenty foot square mausoleum. A large sarcophagus sat on a base in the center of the room and double doors were closed on one wall. They found a ring and other magic items on the corpse of Cadmus, including a dragons laying longsword. It was the sword Boris Zaspar had used to slay the red dragon Pyrothenes before he founded Mistwatch. On the sarcophagus they found the name Cadmus Zaspar. They considered putting his corpse into it but Uthrid discovered that the base was trapped to fall in if stepped on. They exited the mausoleum and found, to their dismay, they were in a reflection of Mistwatch in the Shadowfell. Instead of a village they found an expansive graveyard.

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