When they arrive, however, they find the gates closed. Padraig, lord of Winterhaven, tells them that the town is in danger; villagers have disappeared, and the dead appear to be rising from the nearby cemetery. Though they wish to investigate, the party sets up camp around the walls, sleeping in shifts to help protect the village.
Sar, Lharvion 21, 998 YK (Day 7). Late afternoon.
The party chooses to investigate the last remaining door in the unadorned cavern section of the Keep, which is adjacent to the room that was formerly filled with rats. Mikhal restores the majority of Morgue’s injuries with lay on hands and they continue towards the old bronze double doors. They’re covered with a layer of fungus; scratched into this fungus is the message, “Stay out. Really.” They proceed anyway.
The doors open to a set of descending stairs, leading down into a natural cavern. The cavern is carpeted entirely with the same fungus found on the door, and the room is filled with a stagnant pool of almost entirely opaque, dark water. In the middle of the water is a small island, covered with bones, coins and small objects. Lythanis notes the water appears to be rippling; he suspects something might be moving beneath the surface.
The party cautiously approaches the edge of the water, and are met with a blast of an incredibly offensive odor which clouds their senses. At this, the origin of the movement Lythanis observed becomes apparent; a blue amorphous blob, not entirely unlike the ochre jelly they defeated earlier, rises to the surface of the water, moving by means of large pseudopods.
They combat the slime here, battling its surprising mobility and corrosive touch, and are eventually able to “kill” it (if it could ever have been said to be alive in the first place). After they are certain it is no longer a threat, they decide to investigate the island in the middle of the water. They are hesitant to swim in the horribly unpleasant water; Zil’dejin offers to attempt to leap the roughly ten foot span to the small island, and takes a running start and jumps to it.
On the island, they find another potion of healing, a magic shield of protection (taken by Mikhal), and a wooden message cylinder, as well as some coins. The message cylinder contains three sheets of vellum. One details a map to the Shadowfell Keep in relation to the local area, apparently extending down from Irontown to the south. The other two contain messages. The first holds the following:
‘Remember, don’t wet the nodule unless Kalarel is not receptive to the offer. Then, wet it only from a distance, and then turn and run. Water will bring the creature out of its dormancy, and it will consume anything it can reach.’
The second one reads as follows, in the same writing as the first:
‘Greetings, Kalarel. I have recently learned of your activity in the area and I have an offer for you. During your time in this region, if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have duergar allies in the Thunderspire Labyrinth in need of slave stock. If you are interested, please send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way.
- Chief Krand, of the Bloodreavers.’
The party dwells on this for a moment, and then takes stock of their situation. Morgue is still quite injured, and the others are starting to feel the effects of prolonged combat as well. Eventually, they choose to return to Winterhaven. They set out from the Keep.
It is night when they arrive back at Winterhaven, and the party finds the gate to be closed. Many of the townspeople stand atop the parapet, armed and nervous. Lord Padraig waves to the party as they approach. He tells them that Winterhaven is in danger; many of the villagers have disappeared, and more pressingly, the dead in the cemetery have apparently come to life. Padraig is worried they will move to attack the town soon.
The party discusses the situation. Winterhaven is shut off and its gates are locked; they cannot gain access until the threat is over. They decide to go to the graveyard and investigate, but believe it is more important to ensure the town stays safe for the night. They set up camp, sleeping in shifts and keeping watch over Winterhaven until morning.