The troupe cautiously approached the gates of Winterhaven and reported their business to the local guard. They were provided a map that contained rough layout of the village’s structure. The guard recommended the group head to Wrafton’s Inn, as they appeared weary from their travels.
Entering Wrafton’s Inn, the sounds and smells were a welcomed change to the lonely road. Speaking with the proprietor, Salvana Wrafton, the group obtained some food and drink and inquired about the possible whereabouts of their mentor, Douven Stahl. Salvana remembered Douven, but hadn’t seen him in some time; weeks in fact. She pointed down the bar and recommended they speak with Elian the Old. He also knew Douven and enjoyed his reputation as an informal, local authority on all matters “Winterhaven”.
Elian, at the troupe’s first glance, was visibly inebriated. After a brief smattering of niceties, Switchins asked about their missing mentor. Elian recalled Douven sought the location of a fabled dragon burial site. Elian had heard of such a location, but passed it off as local myth. Nonetheless, he told Douven where the site’s rumored location and Douven set out posthaste. As a kindness, he penned a rough map for the adventurers, so that they might learn of their mentor’s fate. Switchins thanked Elian and bought him another drink. Elian consumed it quickly and fell into a drunken stupor. Before becoming completely incomprehensible, Elian referred them to Valthrun the Prescient for more information.
The troupe examined the remainder of Wrafton’s common area and noticed a mysterious, female elf drinking alone in the corner of the inn. With a degree of tact, the troupe approached the elf to strike up conversation and glean some knowledge concerning Douven. The elf’s cold shoulder was all too apparent and before long, she rose from her seat and strode out of Wrafton’s. The troupe attempted to trail her, but to no avail – she had given them the slip. Back inside Wrafton’s, Salvana stated the elf’s name was Ninaran and she mostly kept to herself.
Acting on Elian’s tip, the adventurers made their way to Valthrun the Prescient’s tower for more information. After several knocks, footfalls were heard and a series of locks were undone to reveal Valthrun, looking a bit tired and annoyed. Lucan immediately inquired as to why his tower had so many locks, to which Valthrun responded, “to keep people out… like you.” Valthrun offered no new information concerning the dragon burial site or Douven’s location. After a few moments, goodbyes were said and the door slammed closed.
As dusk turned to night, the adventurers returned to Wrafton’s for some much-needed rest. The next morning, they rose to seek out the nominal leadership of Winterhaven – Lord Padraig. They were given access to the lord’s manor house and before long, the lord presented himself in greeting. Padraig did not know of Douven Stahl, but did hold a particular interest in learning of the troupe’s prowess against the recent kobold ambush. He asked if they could assist in flushing out a local kobold camp – a camp he sensed that was the source of the recent incursions and molestations from the dirty kobolds. The group agreed and a price was set for success – 100 gold.
Returning to the streets, the troupe ventured to the local blacksmith, a dwarf named Thair Coalstriker. A bit of commerce took place, as Paelius sold his never-before-used crossbow and bolts. Attempts to sell the weapons and items obtained from the dead kobolds were made, but Thair had no interest in purchasing, as he put it, “such shoddy workmanship”.
The adventurers then made their way to [[Bairwin’s Grand Shoppe]], being Winterhavens primary destination for goods and items of all sorts. Bairwin attempted to sell many common items to the troupe with a mixture of sales pitch and gruff exterior. Switchins decided he needed a new climbing kit and made the purchase. Bairwin produced a pair of healing potions from beneath his counter, but the heroes did not have enough coin. Before leaving, Switchins (somehow) convinced Bairwin to buy his sack of stinking, kobold hands. Bairwin stated he’d be able to resell them as ritual reagents.
Leaving Bairwin’s and returning to the market square, a slender woman approached. She stated to be Delphina Moongem and she warned the adventurers to be careful should they venture north of Winterhaven by the old keep. She was collecting flowers to sell at market near the keep and saw goblins in the ruins, more and more of them all the time. She didn’t know where they were coming from, but that it was apparent they’ve moved in and planned to stay.
The troupe considered next steps and decided to set out in search of the kobold camp, to make good on their contract with Lord Padraig. They left Winterhaven and ventured forth, once again, on King’s Road using the bearings given by Lord Padraig.
Almost immediately upon leaving Winterhaven, the adventurers found themselves the victims of another kobold ambush. Their sneaky adversaries seemed to be similar to those fought before, save for a particularly nasty-looking kobold wearing a mask carved from bone. The troupe banded together and set upon their attackers with extreme prejudice. Using dual-swords and mace, Lucan and Switchins engaged the Kobold Dragonshield and Kobold Skirmisher in close, melee combat. Paelius stood behind the ranks and assisted in attacking the reptilian humanoids with his divine arsenal, courtesy of Kord. The Kobold Wyrmpriest proved more formidable as anticipated, and darted from behind nearby boulders to hurl orbs of acid at the heroes. Eventually, the Dragonshield and Skirmisher were bested and only the Wyrmpriest remained. Lucan decided to make short work of the wily, magic-user and brutally gutted the kobold with two, fierce, slashing blows. The ambush had failed and the adventurers were once again the victors. A moment was taken to relieve the kobolds of their gold. Upon inspecting the corpse of his latest victim, Lucan discovered the Wyrmpriest had been wearing a strange necklace, on which dangled a dragon figurine carved from obsidian. On the bottom of the figurine was etched a symbol of a skull with ram’s horns. Turning it over in his hands, he determined the etching to be that of Orcus, the demon prince of the undead. He stowed the necklace in his belt pouch and the troupe set forth once more towards their goal – the kobold lair.
Padraig’s directions proved accurate, as the heroes found themselves in the glade of trees mentioned by the lord. A waterfall roared nearby, spilling into a small creek. Their senses keen, the troupe noticed a smattering of voices heard above the rush of the waterfall and peered to find a handful of kobolds keeping watch. An attempt was made to sneak up on the guards undetected, but was unsuccessful. The alarm was raised and the kobolds moved to attack. A number of the kobolds seemed to flock toward a strange, rune-covered circle that was glowing in the earth. While inside, they appeared to benefit from the runes and fought with particular vigor. The heroes, whether through new-found experience with kobolds or the desire to fulfill their contract (and collect the reward), made very short work of the kobold guards. All except one – a cowardly Kobold Slinger, that, once injured, fled into the waterfall screaming, “Irontooth must be warned!” After the final kobold guard fell, the troupe deduced that the lair must be inside the waterfall and set in its direction.
Using his wits, Lucan found a side entrance into the rock, north of the waterfall. He sensed the entrance to be natural and not man-made, but yet often used by man (or kobold) as a passageway into the hill. Cautiously, they made their way into the entrance, only to find a small kobold waiting for them. It appeared the Kobold Slinger that fled warned his compatriots the heroes arrived. The kobold heaved a javelin at the troupe and the fighting commenced. The adventurers tried to proceed further into the cave, but recoiled as waves of kobolds pounced upon them. Blood spilled and kobold flesh was split, as the heroes cleaved their way into the lair. The battle seemed too much, but the adventurers dug deep into their resolve and found strength to overcome the numerous kobold attackers. Finishing the last of the onslaught, the heroes regrouped and discussed options. They had not ventured into the heart of the lair, where they surmised the kobold leader, Irontooth, awaited their arrival.
Despite the many battles the heroes fought, they decided to press onward and complete the quest before them. They strode deep into the kobold lair and found the cowardly Kobold Slinger that had fled previous to warn on their arrival. Lucan set upon the kobold quickly and ensured that his warning days had come to an end. The kobold fell with a shriek. The troupe suddenly heard a thunderous yell that shook the very walls of the lair. Striding out from a nearby alcove was a large, battle-scarred goblin, wearing a wolf fur cloak with a chain shirt and wielding a battle axe in both hands. A large tattoo depicting a skeletal ram’s head marked the goblin’s face. The heroes found Irontooth and he was not happy.
Swarming around Irontooth, the troupe sought to flank him and expose his weaknesses. They were largely successful as they cut into Irontooth multiple times, producing screams of pain. Eventually, Irontooth grew tired of his role as the victim and howled in a fit of bloodied rage. The heroes noticed the goblin’s swings were becoming more potent as the battle raged, which was an ominous sign. Irontooth was getting stronger and his blows more thunderous. Lucan attempted to press the offensive and caught a blow in his side, nearly rendering him unconscious. In an attempt to regain his wits, Lucan shifted away from the battle, removing himself from harm’s way. Irontooth smelled blood and swung his axe again, catching Switchens flush in the head and knocking him prone. All seemed lost, until, in a divine moment of bravery, Paelius channeled Kord’s healing might through himself and into his allies. With this holy infusion, Lucan lunged forward swinging his dual blades. His first attempt barely missed Irontooth, grazing his cbest – scraping off his chainmail shirt. The goblin saw his opportunity and laughed as he raised his axe, looking to finish the ranger once and for all. Irontooth’s laughs quickly ceased, as he neglected to account for Lucan’s scimitar, which did not miss, but rather carved deep into the goblin’s throat, nearly separating head from neck. Irontooth dropped his axe and fell to his knees, clutching his throat as blood poured out from between his gnarled fingers. Through the gurgles, the heroes could make out the goblin’s sputtering, dying request – “Kalarel and Lord Orcus, prepare my way…”
Exhausted and near collapse, the troupe once again reached their goal and looked forward to a long, recuperative respite. Before traveling back to Winterhaven to report victory to Lord Padraig, they examined Irontooth for valuables. Within Irontooth’s belt pouch they found a small key, as well as a torn, crumpled piece of parchment. The key, as they soon discovered, opened a chest in the lair, which contained 420 gold pieces and a suit of +1 Dwarven Chain Mail, the latter making Switchins very happy. The parchment was a note scrawled in Common that contained the following message, “My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitor’s in the area. It probably does not matter, in just a few more days, I’ll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven’s people will serve as food for all those that Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.” The note only helped to create more questions for the heroes to ponder. What business did followers of Orcus have in Winterhaven? Who was Kalarel and which of Winterhaven’s residents could serve as his or her spy? Where was Douven and was he safe? These were questions in need of answers and perhaps Winterhaven and its inhabitants could provide the key…