Winterhaven, Day 4, continued
As they enter the town, Samuel-one of the gate guards-pulls Remmeke aside and tells him that Bart-the guard Remmeke had earlier spoken with-was talking about how the party had been asking about people leaving. Samuel tells Remmeke that he did see Ninaran the hunter leaving right as they were closing the gates a couple of days before.
The party heads to Lord Padraig and gets paid for their slaying of the kobolds, with Parin bringing a bundle of kobold ears as proof. They also tell Padraig about the note they found in Irontooth's stash, but Padraig refused to believe that such an evil cult could be operating in his town. He does, however, suggest that they talk to Valthrun the Prescient about the rift mentioned in the note.
At Valthrun's tower, Valthrun slips from his tower to go to the inn with the party and discuss the rift. He tells them that the rift is to the Shadowfell, another realm of shadows and death, and specifically to a site consecrated by Orcus that exists in the Shadowfell. The ruined keep north of town was built by the Nerath Empire as a way to seal the rift and keep an eye on it. When the Nerath Empire left the Nentir Vale, the keep was left on its own for some 20 years. About 80 years ago, the captain of the keep, a knight named Sir Keegan, went on a murderous rampage, killing his wife, children, advisors, and a number of soldiers before he was penned in the crypts and killed. (Rumor is that his ghost is occasionally seen walking the ruined ramparts.) Valthrun is much more worried by the news of a cultist of Orcus trying to open the rift, and he leaves at once to pressure Padraig for the money necessary to pay the adventurers to look more deeply into the matter. (Varrin argues that he needs no such payment, but the other group members eagerly assent that they need money to help.) A short discussion later, and Valthrun returns to tell the group that Padraig has offered 250 gp to the group if they find proof of such a cultists's operations, and they kill him. He also tells them that the flower seller in the market is sometimes seen going to the keep, while most of the townspeople stay away.
Remmeke has a brief conversation with Ninaran in the inn. She reacts with surprise to Remmeke's return, saying that she is "surprised they survived." When pressed for more knowledge about death cults in the area, she claims ignorance, and Remmeke finds no semblance of lying in her speech.
Winterhaven, Day 5
The party talks to the elven flower vendor, and she confirms that she goes to the keep sometimes in the morning…always in the morning because the goblins are less active then. She confirms that she has indeed seen goblins on the keep's hill, but she has never seen the ghost of Sir Keegan. She also knows that Ninaran sometimes heads up the path towards the keep, but she's probably just going hunting.
The party then heads up the path themselves. At the keep, they find that wildflowers do indeed flourish in the area outside the keep, but within the keep, vegetation is noticeably absent; only a few struggling vines penetrate its perimeter. A path has been cleared through the debris to a stairwell entering the keep's lower level. The group heads down the stairs and enters a large pillared room. Remmeke quickly notices a carefully concealed pit trap in the middle of the room, and when Torrin removes its cloth covering, they find a swarm of rats in the 10' hole. A well placed scorcing burst from the mage sends the rats scurrying, but they quickly regroup and start swarming up the sides. As Torrin madly tries to slice the rat horde with his sword, the other party members are ambushed by crossbow wielding and javelin throwing goblins. In a long battle, involving a one-on-one fight between Varrin and a goblin in a locked room, a swarm that just won't seem to die, the party finally is victorious. They finally pin the last goblin under a bed, and while the goblin fires bolts repeatedly into the legs of Torrin and then seemingly disappears, Remmeke scorches the beds into pyres and the goblin is slowly cooked by his own bed.
A short rest later, and the party heads through a pair of doors and down a stairwell into a cold, rotten-smelling crypt. In the next few rooms, they trigger a strange trap that seems to sap their life and send them running in fear and a number of zombies. The zombies are easily dispatched. In one corner of the crypts, they find another staircase down, but Torrin convinces them that they should more fully explore the upper areas before going lower. In another corner of the crypts, Remmeke finds a secret door that leads to a seemingly empty room. Taking a leap of faith, Torrin and Varrin step through a shimmery wall at one end of the room and find themselves in a secret armory, with more zombies. Again, quickly dispatched, the group finds a strange riddle on the wall, and when they give its answer, a suit of rusted armor regains its former lustre, and Torrin claims it as his own.
Heading deeper into the crypts, the party finds a long room lit by starlight at one end and rimmed with sarcophagi. Torrin rips open the lid of one of the sarcophagi, but finds that there is no empty space behind the lid, only solid granite. However, when the party starts to pass through the room, the sarcophagi burts open and armed skeletons pour out. The party valiantly strikes down the undead, but the sarcophagi keep spewing forth more skeletons, and finally Varrin notices that in the far end of the hall are two altars to Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, with strange writing on them. Torrin reads the Draconic script and finds that the words implore him to pay homage to the great dragon. He does so, and the skeletons turn from the battle and return to their coffins. In a secret compartment in the altar, the party finds four small silver and platinum dragon statues. Parin fashions one into a necklace and wears it. The rest are stored in the party stash.
In the room at the end of the hall, the group finds a single sarcophagi. When Torrin attempts to open it, the lid shatters into dust, and an armored skeleton leaps out, pointing his sword at Torrin's throat and demanding that "The rift must not be opened. State your business now, or die!"