After the mini-zombie-apocalypse was concluded, we were left with a choice of two directions to follow. We chose to proceed south, as it involved less backtracking.
We moved through the southernmost zombie chamber into a short hallway, whose walls were covered with more insane rantings—like Glenn Beck’s whiteboard, but less racist. These continued on through a doorway, beyond which we could see a faint greenish light. Merric sneaked forward to scout it out, and quickly reported back.
The hallway opened onto a long east-west chamber with 10 sarcophagi lined up against the walls. They were engraved with the figures of armored men (though the faces were all worn away), and edged with Draconic runes.
The light was coming from an adjoining chamber some distance to the east. This chamber had a vaulted ceiling in which was set a metallic carving of a majestic dragon, thickly corroded from age. The faint glow emanated from this carving. There were also two identical altars at the north and south ends of this room, and on the wall behind each one was a relief sculpture of soldiers in plate armor kneeling in prayer.
Upon hearing Merric’s report, Venjin rejoiced. This chamber, he said, was obviously a temple to the Platinum Dragon: Kral Serefin, the Watcher on the Mountain whose name must not be spoken, so would everybody please stop saying the “B” word right now, thanks so much.
The group headed into the sarcophagus room. Venjin was unable to read the Draconic script on the caskets, so we surmised that the carvings must be some sort of secret temple-language or code. As we headed east to get a better look at the shrine, Wil prepared to conduct the Comprehend Languages ritual in order to determine what the carvings said. While he was doing so, Moirae and Venjin asked Merric to give the altars a once-over to see if any relics or other valuables were stored in them. The search yielded a collection of small silver and platinum dragon statuettes—we each took one, and had one left over for the group fund.
Even with the aid of the ritual, Wil couldn’t make out the writings on the sarcophagi. However, there was Draconic script over the altars that we were able to read—it said something about the Platinum Dragon being “my rock and my refuge … I need only kneel and give praise to him.” Venjin knelt before one of the altars and prayed, but there were no visible results.
After some quick discussion, we decided not to loot the sarcophagi. Instead we turned our attention to a door in the eastern wall of the temple chamber, barred with a heavy plank of wood which had rotted almost entirely away. Merric and Wil took cover behind one altar, and Moirae behind the other; then Venjin and Jett attempted to lift the wooden bar from the door. It crumbled in their hands.
Then the sarcophagi lids burst open, and armed skeletons emerged and charged toward us.
As the quicker members of the group opened fire on the undead, Venjin turned to order one of those close to an altar to kneel before it and pray, as instructed by the carvings. He considered which of them to select to ask aid from the god of Honor and Justice:
- a daughter of hellspawn,
- a drunken sneak-thief, or
- an impious, self-absorbed fancy-lad.
“Fancy-lad” looked like the way to go. Wil skirted around to the front of the altar and offered up what was most likely a snide and insincere supplication; in response, he was smitten by the Tiniest Bolt of Divine Vengeance in the History of the Universe. Which he then whined about for the rest of the day.
While Jett, Moirae and Merric led the attack against the onrushing skeletons, Venjin ran to one of the altars and knelt to pray. The Platinum Dragon heard his plea; the carving in the domed roof shed its layers of corrosion and filled the temple with blazing light. The skeletons then instantly collapsed into heaps of dust, Buffy-style, and the sarcophagi in the next room slammed shut.
With that business taken care of, we turned back to the now-unbarred door and passed through it into a burial crypt. The chamber was empty save for a grand sarcophagus on a raised platform. We were able to see that the top of it was carved with the figure of a reclining man in platemail, his sword upon his chest, and also that there was no apparent lid to the stone coffin—no seam was visible. Once the last of us entered the room, however, the door banged shut, and we were lost in darkness.
At this point, each of us was visited by an apparition of Sir Jerold Keegan, the paladin and graffiti-artist who had slaughtered his family and most of the Keep’s soldiers a century ago. Death appeared to have been therapeutic for him, as he was no longer a homicidal loon-mobile. Instead, he gravely asked what our purpose and intentions were, why we had come to this place, etc. Our replies were apparently all satisfactory, since the darkness lifted and Keegan then appeared to all of us, floating above his casket.
We then had a little Q&A session. Moirae asked Keegan if there was any way we could ensure that the Shadowfell Rift got sealed for good this time, as she had no intention of ever coming back to Winterhaven in this life. Keegan then told us of three enchanted foci—an obsidian sword, an onyx and jet ring, and a silver mirror—that were linked to the rift. We could seal it, he said, by casting one of these objects into the rift. Which was good news, since Moirae happens to be carrying one of them in her purse.
Jett, having developed some sort of fixation on the metal door with the “Keep Out. Really.” warning on it, asked the ghost what was behind it. Keegan replied that the room beyond the door held the Keep’s water supply, but he did not know the reason for the cautionary sign.
Wil then asked if Keegan could provide the location of any items that would be personally beneficial to a bard—namely, himself. The spirit provided directions to a hidden armory that he thought might hold a thing or two of interest to us.
The paladin then handed his enchanted longsword over to Jett to help us in our quest, and warned us that Winterhaven was about to be attacked by the undead—adding helpfully that he could feel the progress of the Rift-opening ritual, and that we still had a few days until it would be complete.
Basically, he did everything but hand over his car keys and write down his PayPal login information for us.
We then set out to save Winterhaven, again, but took a quick detour along the way to explore the secret armory. When we first arrived at the location Keegan had indicated, we saw only a hallway; but the ever-perceptive Merric soon located a secret door and opened it. Past the door was only a small empty chamber. After searching it, Merric detected that the rear wall seemed to be insubstantial.
Pushing us all aside, Wil strode confidently through the illusory wall … straight into the arms of a small group of zombies. After a short delay, the rest of the party then picked ourselves up off the floor and, wiping the tears from our eyes, followed the bard into the hidden armory and did away with the undead.
The armory was filled with the filthy and corroded remains of armor and weaponry. As we looked around, a helmet mounted on one of the walls began to speak, and it asked us to answer a riddle. It was something about a treasure not found in a chest, blah blah blah; Wil and Venjin answered “Fame” and “Renown” at the same time, both of which answers were apparently deemed acceptable by the judges. One of the old suits of armor then shed its dust and corrosion, revealing itself to be a suit of +1 mithril chainmail.
That’s where we broke for the evening. Next stop: Winterhaven.