As the party journeys back to Winterhaven, you find that the gates are closed. Several figures stand with weapons drawn on the parapet above. One of the figures, Lord Padraig, waves as you approach. He calls out, “We are in peril! Several villagers have disappeared, and the dead in the cemetery have risen from their graves. We fear these creatures will emerge to assail the gates and drag us all away!” Lord Padraig continues as the party begins to look warily in the direction of the nearby cemetery. “Would you mind at’all if we ask you to take care of that little problem for us? I’m sure you’d be quite capable of resolving it in no time – and I’ll have Silvana cook you up something special for your trouble. You’ve become quite capable in such things and we citizens of Winterhaven are very thankful for your services!”
The party looks at one another and begins to grumble to themselves, feeling a bit taken for granted. All they wanted was to return back to the comfort of the Inn and get a hot meal and now that has been delayed once again by another urgent plea by the locals. No rest for the heroic, that’s for sure. Finally, the party speaks up and reluctantly agrees to help. All with the exception of Dvaark that is, as he requested to return back to the Inn to retire not feeling well since leaving the Keep. Lord Padraig, signals to the guards to open the gates just enough to let him pass through and then the guards quickly shut them again.
“The gods grant you success” and with that Lord Padraig bids the weary adventurers farewell. Anxious to get this over with, the party quickly heads down a path from Winterhaven’s gate which leads through a grove of trees and into the graveyard. A ten foot fence of wrought iron bars encloses the cemetery. Within the graveyard, a number tombstones are densely packed in a couple of areas. Three mausoleums sit amid the markers. The soil around some of the graves seems disturbed. A sickly glow pulses from somewhere near the largest of the three mausoleums. The party moves closer to the largest mausoleum and the dead begin to burst from the soil. Arrows begin to sing through the air and rusted longswords clang against armor and shield. An elf in a small mausoleum off to the left is spotted by the party and takes a huge beating for her unfortunate lack of cover. She falls quickly, but not before she calls out for more assistance…
Soil roils up from the ground and crumbling skeletons rise and the battle continues. Lainu and Vicks rush to the magic circle in an attempt to disrupt its energy somehow. After a few successful attempts the glow seems to diminish somewhat but it still persists. A pair of low growls echos off the walls of the largest mausoleum, and out of the shadows stalks a pair of dogs if they could still be called that… they are bloated with rotting flesh falling limp from their bones. A few bones area even visible through the exposed muscle. They attack the party and try to disrupt the attempts to disable the arcane circle.
The party is too strong though as they manage to slay the gravehound zombies and dispatch the remaining skeletons. Just as the last skeleton falls, the circle and its sickly glow dissipates completely and Lainu and Vicks lower their arms in relief and exhaustion from their efforts. With the threat removed, someone thinks to search the body of the dead but not undead elf and finds the following sheet of vellum with a message written upon it:
Satisfied with the clue just found and having cleared the graveyard as requested, the group heads back to give a report. Lord Padraig commands the guards to open the gates and the party enters the secure walls. After providing Lord Padraig with news of your success you receive his thanks and head for Wrafton’s Inn for a quick meal before selling off some of your newly recovered items for a little gold at the Smithy.
In the morning, you check on Dvaark to see how he is coming along and learn that he is still not well enough to travel. He had a fever overnight, and looks worse than even a half-orc normally does. You tell him to stay put and that he can catch up with you later once he’s back to normal. He stubbornly agrees and quickly settles into his bed once again and pulls the covers over his head. The group then sets out once more for the Keep.
Upon entering the Keep a second time, you quickly notice that fresh guards have been posted at the bottom of the stairs. The canvas covering the pit has also been replaced, but no longer a deception you’re likely to fall for again. One of the two goblin warriors yells as they both retreat down the western passage, “They be back… quick we warn the others!” The rapid footfalls of small feet echo down the hall until you no longer can hear them. The group half expected an ambush, and give chase in hopes of finishing them off quickly.
The corridor widens into a long, narrow chamber, but the fleet-footed goblins are no where to be found. Doors are set in the northern and western walls, and iron double doors stand to the east. Faint bloodstains streak the floor between the western door and the northern door. With keen ears, the party hears the excited babble of goblin voices beyond the door to the north. The group decides to investigate the area behind the double doors instead and as quietly as possible sneak down a long passageway. Before coming to the opening of the room, a few of the party attempt to scout ahead. They see two goblins sitting at a table, playing cards, their weapons close at hand. To the east, thick tapestries cover the walls. On the table between the goblins sits a small bronze bell.
Deducing that the bell is meant to alert the others, Lainu, being among those stealthily scanning the room, motions with her hands while murmuring a short phrase and lifts the bell from atop the table. The goblins, apparently distracted by their boisterous arguing, are unaware of the floating bell as it leaves the table and into the folds of Lainu’s robe. Shortly after, the party storms out of the hall and converge on the hapless goblins. Connecting doors behind the tapestry wall can be heard swinging open and more goblins pour out into the room. It doesn’t take long before the entire chamber erupts with the sounds of battle. The goblins thrust their spears at the party and hurl a few as well, but are cut down as the stream out of rooms from the north and south. Double doors to the east are now visible and with the room now cleared, the party approaches them. They are locked, but with the steady hand of a thief Rhya manages to pick the lock.
The door slowly opens to what appears to be a lair of sorts, with a table in the corner and two bed rolls near the door. A large tapestry curtain covers a section of the southern section of the room. A single goblin warrior stands guard and doesn’t yet notice the party. Immediately the group storms in. The guard shouts while taking a defensive stance, “We have intruders Balgron, wake up!” The sound of heavy breathing and staccato snoring echoes off the stone walls. Despite the cacophony of noise from the fighting with last remaining goblin, Balgron never wakes.
Finally, the party cuts down the guard and approaches the curtained area, pulling it back as gently as possible. “ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz” laying on crude bedding, but more padded than what you’ve seen thus far, is a fat goblin wearing bulging leather armor. He has thick, knotty fingers, and smells horribly. The group gathers around him and attempt to rouse him from his deep slumber. “Hey… wake up!” Blurring eyed, and slightly dazed, Balgron awakes… “Huh, what, who are you?!”
“We’re your worst nightmare” replies the group. Balgron begs for his life and in exchange offers the contents of the chest at the foot of his bed. Upon opening it you find 560gp and a +1 Magic Wand. He also offers a pass phrase to the second level, which to your dismay doesn’t match the one you read from the letter from Kalarel. He tells you it is "And life fails in the dark.
Balgron asks to come with the group saying that he is able to help navigate the Keep. The group agrees after deciding against just killing him… perhaps he can serve a purpose in some way. With that, the group returns the way they came and enters the unoccupied hallway. The group decides to attempt an ambush by hiding behind the two opposite facing doors and then luring the others out. The party divides their number with Balgron sticking with the group that is in the store room. Lainu attempts to fool the others by mimicking Balgron’s voice commanding them to help him. The fall for it and open the door but notice no one in the hallway. The group rushes out (opening a door is a minor action… sorry) and converge on the lone puny goblin. They then head into the chamber beyond and are sickened by the sight… it is a torture chamber with 3 blood spattered tables with sharp implements on them. The floor itself is stained with blood in many areas too. A fire pit can be seen along the back wall of the room and a rusty iron maiden is just outside of the door to the right as the party enters.
A large hoboglin clad in black leather armor and wearing a leather mask to hide his disfigured face charges at the group. He wields two hot pokers that it appears he just grabbed out of the fire pit. Some of the other goblins armed with crossbows duck under tables and attempt to fight from cover. A loud plea can be heard from the west, coming from a cellblock of sorts. “Help mes, get mes out of here… mes help you if you rescues me!” The group, engaged in the melee, ignores the request and continues to attack. The hobgoblin makes an all out effort to fend off the party, but in the end is taken down and collapses on the top of one of the tables he’d once used to discipline unruly goblins not willing to obey Balgron’s orders. The final two goblins cower under the tables, making ineffective attacks at the party. Eventually they all die at the hands of the adventurers.
The pitiful plea can again be heard from within the one of the cells and the party makes their way there. A pathetic, helpless figure stands at the entrance to the cell not more than 3 feet tall. “Please let mes outs of here… mes help you, yes?” Vicks finds a striking similarity between this and another small creature he once heard of while researching his latest song…Sméagol…? The goblin says his name is Splug and offers to help carry the groups gear..and whatever else is needed. He hates the goblins here as they’ve been nothing but mean to him. The group decides to keep both Balgron and Splug locked up until they know what to do with them. Until then, they head to the out of the room and back to where several members of the party had found an entrance leading farther down to a lower level of the Keep. They just hope they have the right passphrase to enter safely.