Black Aria

Slouching into the Depths
Back to the Dungeon of Shadows

In the chamber beyond the Hobgoblin’s lair there were two doors. One was barred and smelled of dank musk. The other seemed well used and scratched and splattered with blood.

Glide the Scion of Paladine, Hans Olo the Ruthless Ruffian and Mirrrsal the Dragon’s Son decided to take the road most travelled. They scampered down the hall and took a gander to the left. The paladin had just found a small funereal chamber when Glide gasped as she caught a glistening in the corner of her eye… a wall of translucent gloop was leaning most subtly out of the darkness!!

Splug while the battle ensued. Both Cleric and Holy Warrior were engulfed by the gelatinous cube but the halfling hacked and hacked, they all struggled mightily and eventually the slime was spreading in a drying puddle on the flagstones. Various mysterious objects were found in the wreckage, including an small tin knife like a children’s toy, and Ceinwein’s Amulet of Safewinging.

After a perusal of a pair of small tombs (child sized), the trio turned their attention to yet another door. Beyond this door could be heard the faint noise of scratching, intermittent with a wheasing whine.

Hans Olo cracked the door and slipped into the dimly lit chamber beyond. Moving like a shadow he stole forward, and finding nothing in this antechamber, motioned for his friends to follow. These friends were not so subtle and the racket of their clanking armor drew the attention of one that lurked in the shadows.

Of a sudden the Dragon’s Son was struck by a brilliant pain in his frontal lobe, searing his very integrity! He cried out and looked around but could not see his assailant through pain dimmed eyes.

Hans Olo and Glide were not blinded and they saw the small winged devil perching atop a burned out torch sconce, tittering madly and calling out to some dark allies in the shadows beyond. These allies duly appeared, two of the ravenous dead, gaunt ghouls with hands like claws, rushing eagerly toward the promise of a cannibal feast, for these were once men, long ago before they met their unholy fate!

The battle was joined! But the new heroes of the Shadow Keep were not easily daunted and they soon turned the tide of battle, and so the evil fairy dodged and evaded Hans Olos’ bloody blades and fled, opening the great double doors into the Temple Beyond.

As shouts and curses came from the vaulted chamber and the trio decided upon the better part of valour and retreated to make fast a mor defensible redoubt. In the chamber of childrens’ tombs they blocked the door and attempted to catch their breath, and not a moment too soon as the stone door soon shook with a furious smash. Amidst the shouting and reinforcing, the heroes did catch their breath and were about to retreat further out of the maze when the door burst asunder and a mighty form appeared amongst the wreckage. This fearsome foe was no denizen of lovely light, instead a hulking figure, only vaguely related to human kind, 9 feet tall and nearly as broad, with a jutting beard crusted with dried blood, eyes burning with eldricht flame and skin like coal, the entrance of this dark giant shot a tremor of fear through the veins of even the doughty paladin. Close behind were two berzerk warriors of uncertain terrestrial origin, frothing at the mouth and swinging wicked axes. The battle was joined. A mighty battle it was. For a moment the fate of the heroic trio seemed uncertain, but then the flame of Paladine burned brightly in the souls of his supplicants and at least the dungeon giant fell, though not before the pesky devil scout escaped again. When the giant fell a strange thing happened! It began to shrink and focus down into a smaller form until the vanquished foe was no larger than a very short human, or dwarf…

There, shaking, tired and terrified, the heroes hefted their chipped and dented defenses, even as the portentious tones of deep devil chanting drifted to their ears and they knew that time was indeed of the essence! Whomever was in the Temple Beyond must be stopped!

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Devil Dreams

The battle weary heroes then left the quarters of the hobgoblin luftenant, and camped in the above ground in the ruins of the Shadow Keep, for it was as secure a place as might be found.

Dreams during that rest were deep and dark, full wells of gore and horned debauch. Perhaps a spell was cast that night and floated in the dungeon waft, for none woke in those dark watches though all in the slumbering party remembered some strange commonality of sound and vision.

Amidst the blood soaked ‘mares there was a chill, a clanking, a whispered sob, a lowing, a bovine bellow, a far off scream….

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Parlay With Ghosts and Battle With Goblins
A Slaughter

After much parlay and quick thinking, the halfling thief talked the ghost knight Sir Keegan Belloc out of his magic sword Aeceris, Which Doth Bleed Innocent Blood, .

The party descended a circular stair to find a squad of Hobgoblins awaiting them. The slaughter was immense. Found amongst the private effects of the Hobgoblin Warchief:

K

Greetings from the depths of Koshtra Belorn… I have an offer to make you. If you should capture and humans, elf-lovers or otherwise that you do not have any immediate use for, we are eager to buy them. We have allies amongst the dark dwarves beneath Thunder Mountain who are in need of slave stock. If you have any interest in my most honorable business proposal, send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way.

Captain Krand of the Bloodreavers

(On the table there is also a fanciful map of Winterhaven drawn to depict in invasion of Hobgoblins supported by Undead Legions.)

Also plucked from the body of the fallen foe, the paladin Myrrsal claimed the mighty shield the Hobgoblin Chief had carried. Myrrsal’s Shield of Protection

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Our Story So Far
Into the Keep of Shadows

Often considered nothing more than a minstrel’s old yarn to keep the kids awake at night, the portents of this old piece of doggerel has rattled about the heads of the Company of Paladine’s Delight like a head cold. So they approached Winterhaven.

Lay of the Kinslayer

In shadowed Keep of tumbled stone,
A Peril hides, for years unknown,
The Kinslayer’s spirit guards it yet,
‘Gainst the very Child he did beget.

The thing of evil sent darkened dreams,
Nightmares wrought of tortured screams,
The vowed defender’s sword did rend,
Murder in Fate’s hated hand.

Awakened to the naked Truth,
Shattered bones of men in their youth,
His wife and children, pride and joy,
Twas devils rage and he destroyed.

The Kinslayer met his death alone,
For wicked deeds he would atone,
So awaits he for the fated time,
Forgiveness grant for hated crime.

Visions echo through the halls,
Ghostly blood runs ‘long the walls,
None can face those cursed remains
Fear like water in their veins.

If seek ye treasure, fame or greed,
Kinslayer’s words be wise to heed,
Be ye born of purest light,
None can withstand the endless night.

Winterhaven was a walled town with gates shut tight against the stirring’s of the evil dead in their very graveyard. The faithful Company soon smashed those malcontents, including a mysterious elven archer who carried a suggestive letter that betrayed a password and perhaps an intimate relationship with someone living beneath the fallen stones of the Keep of Shadow. The villagers later said she was a huntress named Ninaran and she often brought game for sale but made no friends.

And so the Company quickly made its way into the Cairngorm Mountains, trekking up to the lonely peak were the ruins of the Keep were busy being buried by time. There were signs of Goblins about and they were soon discovered below. After a first encounter with goblin guards, swarms of rats and a hidden pit, the Company rested and were soon joined by three more companions.

Now they were six: Hans Olo the hobbit rogue, Glide Cleric of Paladine, Myrsaal Paladin of Paladine, Dram the Hellboy, Rael the Wizard and last but not least Radnar of the Spear and Shield. Together they attacked the goblin lair.

A guard raised the alarm and soon the sounds of drums and clash bells could be heard resounding throughout the dungeon. The Company charged through one door into a torture room only to find themselves beset but a flanking attack. The halls filled with the clang of steel, the scorch of eldritch flames and the screams of the dying. Many goblins died, moreso when their leader arrived with reinforcement from the rear. Balgron the Fat charged right by everyone leaped the smoking carcasses of his minions and fled.

After a short breather, and the interrogation of a couple prisoners, the party found themselves lead about the dungeon by a cringingly obsequious guide, one Splug, saved from the rack, glad to be rid of the torment of his kinsmen, guilty only of the crime of preffering mushroom farming to stealing stabbing and burning. Gleefully he directed the chase to the treasures of Balgron the Fat and to the redoubt of his final minions and the place of his final stand. Dram ended Balgron’s career with the tendrils of the eternal void bursting his very corpuscular structure.

It was a victory over goblins. But what terrors awaited in the Halls of the Dead?

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