Proudly returning to Winterhaven with the head of Irontooth, the Cobras of Fallcrest were greated as heroes and saviors! They presented their grousome trophy to Lord Paldraig and were applauded by the Lord and given their reward. The townspeople were eager to hear the story of the Mighty Cobras and drinks were free flowing for the group. The celebration lasted well into the night and the whole town came out to hear for themselves how the heroes from Fallcrest slew the evil Irontooth. Valthrun the Precient came forth from the crowd and presented some very interesting information to Sha.
Valthrun told Sha that the Keep they were going to was origionally built to contain a rift between this world and the realm of shadows, the realm of death, and of Orcus. It is said that hundreds of years ago artisans and holy men from every nation joined together to build a gate accross the rift that had torn open suddenly and without warning. All knew the risk such an opening to the shadow realm posed. Reports indicate that undead were rising throughout the countryside, and all manner of evil was let loose to terrorize the populace. Fortunately at the time the empire was strong, and its armies were able to keep back the tide of corruption while the rift was sealed and entombed beneath the keep. For years the keep stood protected above the rift, but the air of evil never left the place. People said the keep was cursed, or haunted, and only strongest of lords were put in charge. Unfortunately, not all were able to resist the dark call of the shadow realm beneath them.
500 years ago, perhaps 100 years after the rift was sealed, Sir Keegan was put in charge of the keep. He was a noble paladin of Bahamut, whos heroic deeds and good nature were legend. He and his family moved to the keep and spent many years in peace and quite. People assumed that Sir Keegan’s good soul had conquered the shadow rift. Sir Keegan himself felt a sense of pride at having such an easy time at the Shadow Keep, and soon everyone busied themselves with other matters that were more imediate. It was the 6th day of the 6th month in the 6th year that Sir Keegan first heard the voice calling him awake. It was the voice of Orcus, reaching out from the shadow realm with all of his power. He trapped Sir Keegan in a nightmare, one that the noble paladin could not distinguish from reality.
Sir Keegan woke one morning to find himself surrounded by demons. Scrambling from his bed he reached for his sword and slew the red skinned devil. Hearing screams and demonic speach from the hall he quickly rushed out in search of the enemy. His heart fell into his stomach as he saw a demon slip into his childrens room. Mastering his panic Sir Keegan raced through the hall, charged into the room, and drove his sword through the back of the demonic invader. His chest beating rapidly, Sir Keegan knew that his time had come. Demons from the Shadow realm had come for him and his family. He would not let them escape alive. Retrieving his armor from his dressing room the Paladin of Bahamut set out to do his holy duty. He would hunt down all the foul children of Orcus and slay them before they could escape into the countryside.
The slaughter in the Keep lasted until morning. As the first rays of sunlight crested the horizon, Sir Keegan fund himself in the courtyard of the central keep. Several demons were attempting to surround him. As he put his back to the keep door, the light of day reached over the wall and fell upon the horrors attacking him. Only they were not the red skinned long fanged nightmares he had been fighting. Suddenly his friends and comrads were there. Sir Keegan was stunned at the transformation. One of his men, Troken, was shouting orders to the others. “Don’t let him back into the keep! It has taken us hours to trap him in here. The staff are safe inside if we can keep him here!”
Sir Keegan deflated. He did not understand the situation, and asked his friends to help him. But they would not listen to him. “Back you monster! Demon of Orcus! Dare you slay our families, your family, and ask for our help!” With these words the night replayed back to Sir Keegan in his mind. This time however he saw himself cutting down his men at arms, attacking his children in their beds, and putting his dagger through his own wife. With a cry of anguish Sir Keegan turned to the keep door, smashed through his friends, and dissapreared into the keep faster than anyone could follow. He lost himself deep in the darkest recesses of the dungeons, and after a halfhearted search, the men left alive in the Keep gathered the surviving staff and families and abandoned the place. No one since has been back to the keep. The nearby families all moved south to Winterhaven or further. The keep of Shadowfell gained the reputation as an unlucky and cursed place to be avoided at all costs, and spoken of only in whispers.
With this somber story told the Cobras bid everyone good night, and spent the next days in quiet preperation. Manny recovered from his wounds with no permanent injuries and soon everyone was well rested and healthy. The trip to Shadowfell keep was upon them.
Traveling to the Keep was hard going. The road had not been maintained in decades, and a feeling of gloom was ever present. As they approached the keep, the Cobras could all feel the unmistakable grip of evil on the land. A feeling like insects crawling on the body, or of standing next to lightning. Soon even the trees and grass would give up any semblance of life and cheer. Their once green palet was swapped for a depressing brown and grey. It took a week to reach the keep in these conditions.
Shadowfell keep was once an impressive sight, but no longer. Ruined by time and the elements, the once proud keep was now broken. The only signs of life were booted footprints in the dirt. A path had been cleared through the rubble as well, leading directly to the center of the main tower, and into a long gloomy staircase. The Cobras steeled themselves and entered the dark mouth of keep.
As they entered the keep chaos soon broke out. Manny was shot at with a crossbow bolt from the dark, and Sol set a bear rug that was covering a pit trap on fire. Goblins attacked the party from all sides. Trying to out manuever the party the goblins tried to use hit and run tactics but were routed by the Cobras and quickly surrounded. The group chased goblins through storage rooms and sleeping quarters, but ultimately subdued the chittering green midgets. It took little time to catch their breath before they were on their way to explore more of the keep.
Moving through well lit hallways, the party opened a few doors to nowhere interesting and were about to open another when a chilling scream of pain cut through the air. Quickly opening the door the Cobras discovered a torture chamber and several goblins watching a Hobgoblin torturer working on one of their comrads. The party was able to suprise the group and quickly cut down the Hobgoblin and several of his smaller cohorts. Borax was unlucky though as several goblins stabbed, jabbed, and shot him mercilesly. The rest of the group came to his aid though and dispatched the goblins before Borax was killed outright. As the group stood recovering from their ordeal, the temporarily forgotten goblin who was being tortured wrapped his arms suddenly around Manny and declared matter of factly “SPLUG LOVE YOUUUUUUUUU!”
Manny it seems gets all the hugs.