Shadows of Morning
At this point there were so many clues flying around everyone had started to loose track of what exactly who knew and when. So i opted for a bullet poijnt type summary that the players could use as a reference. We are running a module called Gambler's Quest by Expeditious Retreat Press. It is a great module (other than the bad names) very open ended and non-linear. Details have been modified to link it with the next adventure, but this is mostly straight from the module. That being said this is a giant spoiler so if you are planning on running the module do not read any farther. Some of the art is borrowed from that module, some from the web, some from our friends at WOTC.
It was less than a week ago when our heroes left Rhiannon full of questions and attitude. So much has happened it seems like an eternity. They travelled uneventfully upriver for a day and then followed a tributary for another day until they were within sight of Lord Kent's keep. The moon was growing bigger i the sky each night and they took advantage of the light to camp securely. On Monday morning they approached the keep. Their goal was to participate in the gambling tournament and poke around a bit to see if they could find any evidence linking Lord Kent to a series of thefts in Rhiannon.
From the start things didn't seem right. What sort of man uses orcs to guard his keep? It was suspected that orcs linked with Lord Kent where behind the thefts in Rhiannon. Their presence here on guard duty would seem to corroborate that. They met Kara, Lord Kent's an efficient and polite, albeit somewhat overwhelmed servant. She showed them to their room and told them the tournament policies. With a few innocuous and curious questions, a bit of bluff and some watching out the window they were able to figure out who else was in the tournament and which rooms everyone was in. Keeping tabs on who was in the great hall, they looked through rooms when occupants were away and explored the rest of the keep at night, timing their arrivals and departures to miss the gnolls who walked the halls on an hourly rotation.
By the day of the finals here is what they had determined about the castles other occupants:
Sir Brediwir - An affable if somewhat inept knight. His gambling problem has put him in a serious financial pinch and that has caused him to become involved with progressively riskier and more questionable schemes for acquiring money. Still, his honor remains important to him and he wouldn't agree to help the heroes until they had tangible proof of Lord Kent's improprieties.
Sariah Redshift - A cunning halfling, with excellent gambling instincts and unknown motivations. She is, or is posing as, the legendary assassin 'The Black Tulip' and the presence of poison in her trapped satchel proves she is not one to trifle with. It did not stop Tumbler from taking the poison or her supply of tulips and stowing them in a secret compartment above the fireplace. Later, Arsen returned the tulips in an attempt to curry favor when it became obvious she had been spying on them. Tumbler began to believe that Sariah might have been trying to implicate Lord Kent and the duo went to Lord Kent with implied accusations, he thanked them for their concern, smiled broadly and explained that all would be revealed to them in time.
Brigit Snow - A beautiful young priestess of the Moon Goddess Danu. Somewhat flip and whimsical for a cleric, she warmed up to the heroes after they saved her from a rape attempt. She has liberally provided healing and also agreed to lend her aid to the cause of giving a ghost a final peaceful rest.
Llewellyn Gillespie - A daffy gnome bard, who, while annoying at times, has proven a great resource on local history and legend. If you ask the right questions he has a great deal to say... too much more often than not. When accused of being a coward he firmly insisted on his bravery, but he has not yet been asked to take action in the heroes cause.
Jorgass - A stoic dwarf who neither gambled well or made friends easily. After early attempts to gain his confidences fell on deaf ears the pair has largely avoided him.
Medifir Blackfoot - A small man with beady eyes, slicked back hair and a nervous disposition. None too friendly, he lacked skill at gambling as well. After losing four straight matches something inside snapped and he transformed into a wererat and tried to force himself upon his most recent opponent, the fair young priestess. Our heroes stepped in to defend her from the beast. It transformed into a dire rat and with the help of Sir Brediwir (and some knowledge of wererats Brigit possessed) they were able to defeat it. Unfortunately in the fighting, Arsen and Brediwir were both bitten by the lycanthropic rat. With the full moon only 5 days away, only time would tell but Arsen began drinking heavily in an attempt to purify his system. It was only after the creatures death that anyone realized it was Medifir.
Lord Kent - With a booming voice and a charming smile that hides a quick but controlled temper, Lord Kent's is hard to peg down. Exploration of the keep has found him in possession of at least two of the items stolen from Rhiannon, and it is clear that he has been studying the Rhiannon archives regarding the death and burial of Danu de Tuatha. The walls of study (which you assume was his) were lined with a collection of books regarding Pollivar the Bloodthirsty and a number of historical accounts of the Gem of Youth. This seemed like a disconnect until Llewellyn related the story of how the legendary lich and a band of followers had attacked the funeral of Danu de Tuatha. Pollivar was in a blind rage, screaming vengeance and demanding the return of the Moon Staff. The lich was reportedly subdued, shackled and sealed along with the corpses of his followers in the Tomb of Kara Duir, also the final resting place of Danu de Tuatha and the Moon Staff. When not gambling, Lord Kent is accompanied by a bat familiar named Pywall. Lord Kent has hinted that he may wish to employ you and asked that you be absent from breakfast in the morning, requesting you join him promptly for lunch at Noon. On the way back to your chambers, Sir Brediwir informed you that Lord Kent had asked that he too be absent from breakfast and not make an appearance until lunch.
Captain Hart - Having just arrived yesterday on the 'Fool's Gold' he immediately won everyone over with his charm. He was the hit of the banquet, regaling everyone with stories of adventure and tales of his narrow escapes from dastardly pirates. How much was hyperbole was hard to tell, but he was so charming you wanted to believe the tales as true.
In addition, the following facts have been determined about the keep itself:
Upper Level North - Five guest suites and a secret door leading to a long narrow alchemist laboratory with spy holes into Brediwir and Sariah's rooms. Connected by a spiral staircase to:
Lower Level North - Two guest suites along the south edge of the corridor. Two doors along the north of the corridor lead to gnolls. These door have not been opened and it is unknown whether they represent two rooms or one room with two doors. Gnolls have only ever been seen as a pair and the total number of gnolls is as yet undetermined. The corridor widens at the west end, two doors to the south lead into the courtyard and one door to the west leads into:
Lower Level West - Contains 3 doors. The door on the left leads to Kara's room. The door on the right leads to the armory, a long narrow room with suits of armor lined up facing each other, weapons outstretched and meeting above head height in the middle to form a palisade. The walls behind the suits of armor contain a wide array of weapons and armor. At the far end of the room is a door flanked by two more suits of armor. Arsen attempted (successfully) to pick the lock, unfortunately touching it brought the suits of armor to life. Arsen was forced to flee before determining what lay beyond the door. At the far end of this hallway is a door that has not been opened.
Courtyard - Huge open air central area of the keep. Double doors to the north lead to guest quarters. Double doors to the south are the entrance and the exit to the keep. Two orcs are posted outside the gate at all times, with shifts changing at 6am and 6pm. There are three doors on the east side of the keep, two lead to the great hall and the third to the kitchen. There is a interconnecting door between the banquet hall and the kitchen. On the west side of the courtyard are two doors used by the orcs who guard the front gate. It is unknown if these are two rooms or, like the great hall, one room with two doors. The only other person seen entering this room is Kara who brings two meals a day out to the orcs and gnolls at approximately 5:45. One other feature of prominence is the massive clock tower which dominates the courtyard from the southeast corner and chimes on the hour to allow everyone to easily keep track of time (and presumably to remind the gnolls of their patrol duties). In the mosaic tile in front of the clock tower a secret door has been found. It leads to:
Basement East - This appears to be an unused and perhaps unknown area of the keep. The spiral staircase descends into a small square room dominated by a large fountain adorned with three rearing black dragons. It appears that the dragons used to spit water (or some other fluid), but the fountain has not seen use in a long time. Each of the heads has two silver fangs, but one dragon is missing one fang. Opposite the spiral staircase is a pair of massive doors each carved with a rearing black dragon to compliment the fountain. The door was powerfully locked and trapped, but after getting wounded by the trap the first time, a more experienced and cautious Tumbler managed to disarm the trap on his second attempt the next night. Through the double doors was an large octagonal room. At its center stood a ritual alter with a decaying skeleton lying atop it, jeweled dagger still protruding from its chest. No sooner where Arsen and Tumbler inside when the doors slammed shut behind them and they were immediately surrounded by a group of staff wielding, dagger thrusting, black robed figures. Tumbler saw through the illusion at once, while it took Arsen a few seconds longer. Both noticed the misty apparition coalescing above the skeleton at the exact same moment and ducked out the doors rather than facing it.
The fountain room also contained a secret door which led to:
Basement West - This area appears to have seen regular use in recent days. This room is very similar to the other chamber. At the center of the south side a spiral staircase rises upward. On the west wall is a door that leads to a hallway with 3 cells along each side. One cell contained a corpse that was rotting, and as it turned out zombified. So this is how Lord Kent treats his guests? Tumbler greedily rifled the pockets of the corpse and ended up waking the zombie. The pair defeated the zombie and got a fairly valuable necklace for their efforts. Back in the stairwell room, the east and west walls have pillars beautifully carved with female forms. The double doors to the north are white and craved with flowing female forms to accent the pillars. Through these double doors is a very large room with a dozen sarcophagi in it, each one carved on top with a flattering portrait of who you presume to be inside. The fourth sarcophagus on the right bears a carving of a strange creature with an angular jawline, pointy ears and enormous teeth that give the impression of fangs. When our heroes opened one of the sarcophagi to have a look inside, three others opened as well. They found themselves fighting four skeletons and when the battle was over they had no treasure to show for it. The sarcophagi were empty. There is however a secret door in the right rear of the mausoleum, it leads to:
Basement Rear - Despite being concealed buy a secret door, this area has also been used recently... very recently it would appear. A diagonal hallway leads deep under the keep and then turns north. It extends straight for a long way with a passage breaking off the left (west) side. At the end of this hallway is a dried up will with a crumbling edge that represents dangerous footing. A tossed rock ended with a thud and not a splash so it seemed safe to assume the well was dry. A very alert Arsen noticed a faint draft of air moving past him and down the shaft. Tumbler managed to fall in the well while dropping a zombie skull full of burning oil in an attempt to determine the wells depth. Fortunately Arsen had the foresight to tie a rope around his waist. Stopping his fall was child's play for Arsen and having him 35 feet down just gave him a better look around. The shaft continued another 40 feet down (75' from top) where it ended abruptly in a mass of spider webs. Tumbler watched as the webs slowly burned away revealing what appeared to be the bottom of the dried well another 10' down. The web continued burning until only a third of the web remained. Tumbler never saw any spiders.
The passage off to the left led to a large study. The walls were lined with bookshelves, and in the center of the room was a large table. Spread out on the table were the Rhiannon city archives. Tumbler began studying them, while Arsen searched the rest of the room. Arsen managed to find the rune carved amulet on top of the third bookshelf along the north wall. His search of the remainder of the room turned up nothing. He did find a few books he felt the need to add to his collection, a curious hobby for one who is barely literate. Most of the books lining the shelves are legends, tales and stories of the lich Pollivar the Bloodthirsty. There are also many books on rare stones of power, most marked at chapters dealing with something called the 'Gem of Youth'.
Tumbler spent a great deal of time pouring over the archives. Spread out on the table are two time periods, just before the death of Varsullicraxus and after the death of Danu de Tuatha, more volumes lie below the table. What is striking from the period before Varsullicraxus's death is how depleted Rhiannon and the whole region were by the continued attacks. There were virtually no adult males left and the town and region were on the verge of collapse when Danu struck out on a quest and returned with the Moon Staff. The staff turned the tide and Varsullicraxus was eventually defeated. The other archives deal with funeral planning for Danu de Tuatha. Apparently an abandoned mine in the Earth Tooth Hills called Kara-Duir was converted into a tomb. Location information has clearly been obscured, but there are references to the Chapel of the God of Justice being privy to the location.
Through investigation, questioning and enduring endless pointless tales from the bard, the following information has been gleaned on various subjects:
Danu de Tuatha - An elderly wizard who left on a quest and returned with the Moon Staff, a beautiful staff topped with a large flawless sapphire. She was able to use the staff to help Rhiannon defeat Varsullicraxus. She was never seen without the staff after that. She was killed by a thief who stole the staff. The thief was later captured and the staff was to be buried with Danu. Her funeral was interrupted when Pollivar the Bloodthirsty attacked with a small band of followers demanding the Moon Staff. He was mad with rage, swearing it had been stolen from him and demanding it's return. Many townsfolk were killed that day. Pollivar was defeated, beaten into submission and shackled in the tomb along with the corpses of his followers and the remains of Danu de Tuatha. The tomb was warded and magically sealed. There was only one key and it, as well as the location of the tomb have been lost to time.
A notoriously evil and ruthless lich, still the source of horror stories to this day. He hasn't been seen in over a hundred years, but no one truly believes that he is gone. Said to have possessed a large flawless sapphire with a ribbon of black through its center. This sapphire is reputed to grant the possessor immortality and has been called the 'Gem of Youth'. Some accounts have him imprisoned in the Tomb of Kara-Duir, others have his whereabouts unknown.
Varsullicraxus - A old female black dragon who tormented this region well over a hundred years ago. She was defeated by a preposterously small army of men led by Danu de Tuatha wielding the Moon Staff.
Lycanthropy - Belladonna works as a cure, but only right away (within an hour). Failing that a powerful cleric can usually reverse the effects of the bite before any transformation occurs. Once the lycanthrope begins to change, reversing the effects becomes much more complicated requiring a ritual performed under the light of the full moon. Sometimes the ritual needs to be performed many times before a cure was affected. Often times it is custom to cage the lycanthrope (or potential as it were) for the 3 days of the full moon to observe them safely.
Orcs & Gnolls - Both have low light vision, but orc eyes don't adapt quickly to changes in light. Sudden bright light will give a brief advantage against an orc.
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