After several months in Piren’s Bluff, the party finally returned to the Shadowed Keep.Their journey was uneventful, if a little cold. Returning to the bandit’s tower they discovered that it had again been ransacked and so they spent the balance of the first day putting their defences in order.
The next morning they returned to the donjon. Kemmo quickly discerned that many creatures had emerged from the donjon at some point in the last week or so. The large group had left the keep via the main gate and had not returned. Theorising that the tribe’s survivors had fled, the party cautiously entered the donjon and made their way to the stairs leading to the place’s cellars.
Cautiously, they explored the cellars and it quickly became apparent the tribe’s survivors had indeed fled, taking much of their wealth with them. The party did discover a hitherto unknown secret room, containing rotting food, mouldering clothes and a magic potion, but pretty much everything else of value had been removed. The one exception to this was the chamber in which the tribe slew the Blood Moon’s shaman. Here the bodies lay untouched and the party gleefully looted both them and the surrounding rooms, liberating some small treasures and even a magic scroll!
After thoroughly exploring the cellars – and for the moment choosing not to investigate the strange stairway full of cold air or the cavern below the sinkhole discovered during their first foray into the cellars – they instead elected to investigate the upper level of the donjon.
They reached the Great Hall without further incident and Krorz bravely ventured up the spiral staircase leading to the upper level. There he discovered a landing and as he emerged into a hallway, heard faint sobbing emanating from one of the rooms. Cautiously investigating, he was terrified to discover the spectral figure of a child floating in mid-air. Tears rolled down its face and its clothes were covered in blood; a huge, jagged wound marred its throat. Prudently deciding to fetch the rest of the party, Krorz retreated and presently his comrades gained the second floor. Adoven immediately identified the figure as a ghost and as it seemed to be making no hostile moves towards them, they decided to investigate the other rooms first. Nothing of interest seemingly lay within except skeletons and signs of obvious looting.
Returning to the chamber containing the ghost, Klara spoke to it and slowly built a rapport with the creature – Einar Ironwolf, Valentin’s son. Einar told of the keep’s fall and of his own death. He also spoke of his desire to be buried with his parents, but that he did not want to be buried in the vaults beneath the keep as he felt some kind of corruption lurking within.
Saddened by his tale the party offered to lay him to rest and respectfully gathered his bones and those of his parents. Retreating from the keep, they sought and found a nice, sheltered dell in which to bury the remains. Adoven said a prayer over the graves as his comrades filled them in and as Einar faded from sight for the last time he told the party of a hidden treasure vault below the keep. He didn’t know exactly were the entrance was, but he did know that it was somewhere on the upper floor.
Night was now upon them and so the party rested in the tower before returning the next day to search for the Ironwolf’s lost treasure. Exhaustive searching of the upper level found an incredibly well-hidden secret door (and even some minor unforgotten treasures!). Beyond lay a narrow, dust-filled spiral staircase. Again, Krorz took the lead and the party descended into darkness.
It was quickly apparent that nothing had used the stairs for decades. Eventually, they discovered a corridor lit by (obviously magical) torchlight. At the end, an iron-bound door topped by a leering demon head barred further progress. As Krorz moved forward searching for the traps that must surely be present, the head started droning! This melodic magic effect dazed Krorz, Adoven and Kemmo. Only Klara managed to fight off its effects, which was lucky as moments later a small magical creature composed of fire appeared and attacked the near-defenceless Krorz. In short order, Krorz was aflame and Klara moved to battle the strange beast. As she did so, Kemmo threw off the droning effect and moved to assist her. Finally as Krorz threw off the effects, the creature fell to Kemmo’s assault. Moments later, Adoven finally regained his senses and the party moved on. After healing their wounds, the party continued.
Kicking open the door, the party discovered the Ironwolf treasure vault! As they rushed forward to loot the treasure, the skeleton of a snake rose up from the floor. Topped by a human skull it began to sway menacingly and again several members of the party became almost hypnotised by its motion. Klara again resisted the effects and eventually the beast was slain although this time Krorz struck the final blow.
With this final guardian slain, the party looted the chamber. Here they found a finely balanced longsword of cold iron, a shield of darkwood, thousands of coins and a spellbook. As they gathered their newly gained wealth they decided to investigate the stairs leading deeper into the hill they had found in the Blood Moon’s lair. However, Adoven was most adamant that after that they should return to civilisation for he desperately wanted to locate Khundrukar, legendary lost home of Durgeddin the Black…