For our seventh session of Keep on the Shadowfell, we ventured deeper into the dungeons below the ruins of the keep. After convincing Sir Keegan that we weren’t tomb robbers and after taking an extended rest in the safety of the area outside his tomb, the six of us* headed back north to the stairway that Tar had discovered while running away from the terror rune trap.
*Note: Since leaving Sunderpeak Temple, we’d been hoping Caliban (deva avenger) might hook back up with the party, but it looks as if he has decided to pursue other adventures. Fare thee well, Caliban. So six of us are left to explore the dungeons below Shadowfell Keep and stop Kalarel from opening the rift.
- Greth (githzerai hunter/seeker hybrid)
- Harold (minotaur great weapon fighter)
- Korlon (half-elf warlock)
- Sulader (goliath paladin of the Raven Queen)
- Tarionsus (tiefling warlord)
- Tosdar Strudil (dwarf battle cleric)
* * * * *
Hobgoblin Guard Room
We found that the aforementioned stairs descended into a large, torch-lit chamber. Two human-sized creatures in leather armor stood with their backs to us, leaning over a well in the center of the room. Another of the creatures, this one in scale armor, stood across the chamber. Big, pointed ears stuck out from under his helmet, and sharp teeth glittered in his mouth. When the hobgoblin soldier spotted us, he yelled out a challenge phrase: “Shadow seeks shadow!” The two hobgoblin grunts at the well spun around and faced us, their eyes widening.
Thinking quickly, we answered the guard with the pass phrase that Balgron had given us: “And life fails in the dark!”
The hobgoblin soldier squinted at us and demanded, “What business do you have with Kalarel that you know the password?”
“We, uh… Um, well… We’re here to deliver the shadow dragon heart to him. Yeh, yeh, that’s what we’re doing here!”
The soldier said, “Ha! Good for you. I knew that fool Ninaran would fail. Alright, come down.”
As we descended the stairs, the soldier told one of the grunts to go on ahead and tell Kalarel about our arrival with the heart. He ordered the other grunt to escort us to Kalarel’s quarters. As we came down into the chamber, we noticed that the hobgoblins had a sickly, grayish pallor and were moving sluggishly. We also saw— much to Harold’s dismay— that in a smaller room to the north, a steel cage held a spider the size of a horse. A third grunt, waiting for us to advance and be recognized, was poised to release the caged spider.
At that point, we obviously had a decision to make. We could either attack the hobgoblins there in the guard room or we could continue on with the bluff and see how far it would take us. We decided to carry on with the bluff.
For five tense rounds, we successfully bluffed our way through the hobgoblin guarded chambers. The charade actually carried us right through that area (past another horse-sized spider) and all the way to a large room to the south with a towering statue of a warrior in plate armor holding an outstretched sword.
Chamber of Statues
As we entered that chamber with our hobgoblin escort, there was much whispering about how much longer we wanted to follow him. Carrying on with the bluff for so long had put us all on edge, so it was agreed that it was time to end the act, come what may. Since we were finally out of sight and hearing of the hobgoblin guard room area, it was time for our shambling, sickly escort to have an accident. Slipping up behind the hobgoblin, Harold decapitated it. Oops.
Looking around the chamber, we noticed that it looked vaguely like a memorial. The larger-than-life warrior statue dominated the western part of the room. Across from the warrior, in the corners of the eastern wall, sat two statues of crouching dragons. To the south, an entryway led to a set of double doors. In that entryway, there was a puddle of water running down a drain in the floor. In the corners of the entryway were four statues of small, cherubic figures holding vases above their heads. Hmm…
Tosdar had been bringing up the rear, and as the dwarf entered the room the double doors to the north slammed shut behind him. As the doors slammed shut, the massive sword-wielding statue swung its weapon in a deadly arc. Greth, Harold, and Tar managed to avoid the blow, but the titan statue hit Sulader and knocked the goliath prone. From the east side of the room, magical energy sparked within one of the dragon mouths and flames spewed forth, catching Korlon in the blast.
As Greth fired arrows at the murderous statue, Tar managed to leap up onto the pedestal and noticed a small control panel on the inside of one of the titan’s legs. While Tar opened the cover on the control panel and fiddled around with the levers and dials within, Sulader stood up and swung Aecris at the statue. In the blink of an eye, a massive stone arm and fifteen-foot long sword lay on the floor. Wow.
While Tar kept fiddling around inside the now impotent statue’s control panel and Sulader attacked the titan’s leg, Harold just shook his head and turned to see if the northern doors were still locked. Meanwhile, Korlon and Tosdar came up with a plan to throw the hobgoblin grunt’s body over into the entryway to the south and see if it activated another trap.
As Tosdar carried the grunt’s body across the room, one of the northern doors suddenly banged open. Harold stumbled backward in surprise as two hobgoblin soldiers appeared in the doorway. From somewhere behind the soldiers a familiar female voice shouted, “Yes! It’s them!”
And mayhem ensued.
Ninaran was leading a patrol consisting of the two soldiers, a hobgoblin commander, and two hobgoblin archers. The two soldiers formed a shield wall in front of the commander. While forming the shield wall, they had an AC of 22. We were having a difficult time getting past the soldiers until Sulader bull rushed the door that was still closed, shoved it open, and went on an end run straight for Ninaran.
During the battle, Korlon and Tosdar both used powers that— in my opinion —should always hit, just because they have such cool names. Korlon used 'Winged Horde', while Tosdar pulled out both 'Split the Sky' and 'Wrathful Thunder'. Tar had an encounter power named 'Steel Monsoon' that he used on one of the archers. Even Sulader used 'Vengeful Strike' on an archer. Man, Harold really needs to get some powers with some cool names.
The tipping point of the fight came when Greth cut down the hobgoblin commander with a timely application of 'Twin Strike'. At that point, Ninaran turned and ran down the darkened hallway, back toward the hobgoblin guard room.
After mopping up the remaining hobgoblins, we decided to take a short rest and then we'll follow Ninaran back to the north, rather than tackling whatever lies through the cherub-doorway to the south. We assume that Ninaran is going to alert the rest of the hobgoblins that we bypassed and stir up a hornet’s nest behind us. Our plan is to eliminate the hobgoblins (and Ninaran) to our rear before we advance through the cherub-doorway.
Although the party is backtracking, a certain minotaur is hoping against hope that they won’t have to face those spiders. Did I mention they’re as big as horses?! Spiders. As big as horses.