The following morning our four heroes headed to the noble estate of the Ven’Shir Family to inform them of the news which had unfolded the previous days. Meeting with Lady Noura Ven’Shir they were informed that Cadavra was actually her daughter Drugiesha and had been sent to an institution as she had caused the death of her sister Margosha out of jealousy. Smoke’s Flame continued to enlighten Lady Noura as to their findings among Cadavra’s belongings, namely a map. It was discerned that the map detailed the locations of undead hidden throughout the city for an attack on the Ven’Shir household. Smoke’s Flame set out in an attempt to slay these pockets of undead throughout Punjar. After accomplishing nearly half their task (three of seven pockets of undead, one of which being a peculiar trio of undead known as the Undead 3) they returned to the estate for the night to ensure that it would remain safe while they rested. The next morning came without any
future undead threats, although the house was greeted with a different assault. Turns out that the Verdant Lord’s, now without their leader, were seeking out Smoke’s Flame for guidance. The four heroes took them under their wing and provided some coin for better equipment and set them on a mission to slay the remaining undead. As Smoke’s Flame headed to their humble abode in Old Punjar, they were informed that a fellow with a metal cap had been inquiring about when the heroes would be back. This could be none other than Skinny Roger, and they were certain they could find him at the Silent Maid(en?). Sure enough, he was there, he informed the quartet that the Shadow Cabinet wished to extend an invitation to the leader’s of Smoke’s Flame. At midnight, if they so wished, they were to meet at a specific bridge and gain entry to the meeting grounds of the Shadow Cabinet. Deciding this might lead to future helpful advice/friends/secrets, Smoke’s Flame
were set upon attending said meeting. They had plenty of time now, until midnight, so they set out to help destroy the remaining undead in the event that they proved too powerful for the Verdant Lord’s (now the Smoke’s Flame something, forgot what they called themselves). The heroes discovered one more pocket of undead and dealt with it, just as they were finishing the former Verdant Lord’s came screaming in to take care of the situation themselves. They informed Smoke’s Flame that the had taken care of the other locations. Feeling confident that the undead threat had been quaffed, they set about preparing for their meeting later that evening. Heading back to the Old Punjar location, they spoke with Magma and heard his story. He was from a distant time and had his lifeforce entombed in a metalic bronze suit of sorts. He fought to ensure that the ancient Eladrin magics would not threaten the world further and played a great part in sealing
away the Dreaming City of the Eladrin. It seems that the Red Hand are seeking to awaken some of this ancient magic in a location known as the Kingspire in the Drakenvold Swamp, as that castle was built on many very powerful lay lines of eldritch power. Armed with this knowledge, Smoke’s Flame assured Magma that they were intending to investigate this matter.
As it was getting late into the night, the four decided it would be optimal time to head to the warf district and use they’re long boat, crewed by a few of the former Verdant Lord’s (Deacon, Gorax, and Persimon) and meet with the Shadow Cabinet. After gaining entry into the secret halls of the thieves guild they were provided a magical device that would allow them to exit at any point during the meeting. They were to meet with all the houses contained in the Shadow Cabinet and go through the procedures of a common meeting. This entailed, primarily, of the different houses bidding on “jobs” to be done throughout Punjar and it’s area for anonymous patrons. Smoke’s Flame took such a job to locate and slay a particular menace below the temple district, a temple of Palor to be precise. They were allotted 48 hours to do so.
Knowing that there was already a pressing matter of investigating the Kingspire, they headed there first, unsure of how dire that situation might be. The exact destination was somewhat shady as our heroes headed off into the swamps surrounding portions of Punjar. They were hard pressed to tough their way through the swamps and encountered an old crone in a shack full of this and that (aswell as avoiding a group of Draggones, encountering and helping a pair of refugees). She spoke with the party a short time, and after taking a bit of Vellen’s hair she cast it with some bones and blood to divine his future. Upon reading the outcome she removed an emerald ring from her gaunt hand and, handing it to Vellen, told him to give it to the raven haired regent and she would favor him. Continuing their journey they eventually managed to find the small village bordering what was to be the Drakenvold Swamps and the Kingspire Castle. The village had been
taken by the Red Hand and the hobgoblin forces that were in charge were being led by a powerful hobgoblin by the name of Jonscat (so Gogo?). Led by Cain, they decided to lie, and hopefully gain easy access into the village. It was explained by Cain that the four of them were the right-hand men of Dragora of the Red Hand. This, indeed, gained Smoke’s Flame entry but at that point they were uncertain as to what
they should seek. Jonscat himself led the quartet to a large windmill. Inside there was a huge ogre at a chopping block, the smell of ichor and mold assaulted ones nose as they entered the mill. It was not long at all before the ogre reached into a large crate and pulled a weeping child from it, placing the kid on the block. Bursting into action, Smoke’s Flame quickly took the duo down to save the children’s lives. Not the point at which they were hoping to blow their cover, but a necessary one. Dispatching a few more guards that Cain bluffed into initially leaving us alone (pretending to be Jonscat and needing some mustard for his meal of child leg) when they came back with said mustard. They had the children (two boys) play hide and seek with them and to ONLY come out at the voices of Cain or the others of Smoke’s Flame, then stealthily they headed towards the docks to gain a ship to the castle in the middle of the swamp-lake.
At the dock, they encountered three hobgoblins who didn’t quite believe that the four heroes were agents of the Red Hand. Believing they’re ruse was up, the heroes again sprang into action hoping to silence the trio of hobgoblins before they could sound an alarm. A long and tiring battle followed, towards the end many more hobgoblins were headed toward the docks (alerted by a few riders who witnessed the battle) and the four barely made it to a boat. Marcus, who fell during the battle, was revived and the four headed, slowly, towards the Kingspire. The still waters proved to be all the deadly, as many hours into the trip they were ambushed by bloated corpses, flying undead things, and a giant snake. A battle followed, and the bloated undead attempted to spill our favored heroes into the swamps depths, although this was thwarted (mainly thanks to Marcus’s rowing/axe swingin’ skills). The battle won, our heroes made it to the shore of a large island covered in ruins. As Smoke’s Flame climbed a rounding, long stone staircase faint ghosts began to rush past them towards the main ruins. They’re numbers increased and some were distracted by Vellen. Fearing he was in trouble (and worried he was noticed due to his Eladrin Lineage) he quickly spoke to them, assuring the phantasms that he was here to storm the castle and take down the Eladrin within (if there even were any left after so many years). This seemed to quell them for the time being. Reaching the top of the stairs it opened up into a large courtyard littered with rubble and battle scarred pock marks. Shortly a vast battle erupted within the court between the same primitive human phantasms and their enemies, ancient ghostly eladrin. Attempting to not draw the attentions of these entities again, the heroes crept along the battle field, trying to reach the other side without encounter. A few caught notice at times, mistaking the heroes for villains, scoring a glancing blow a time or two. Eventually the group made it to the base of the entrance, a wide stairway leading to large, double doors. Blocking their way were four ghostly eladrin decked out in battle attire. Vellen spoke to them a moment, and realizing his folly, changed his dialect to elven. Explaining these four were the elite guard of the “king” within, they were admitted entry to the inner compound. As they began to enter, Vellen’s clothing began to take on a more insubstantial and ancient look. Once within, his normal wardrobe returned and the ghosts in the courtyard were gone. Stealthily they made their way to a large, stone room (avoiding trouble from some pesky seeming arrow holes in a hallway) were very real and tangible cultists seemed to be dancing and performing an odd ceremony. Marcus was nearly noticed as the four began sneaking through the room but the attention of the group was caught by a three headed skeletal figure on a balcony above. He addressed the cultists and at his side was Dragora, an enemy of Smoke’s Flame for some time now. Marcus tried to catch up with his companions when he was noticed by the skeletal figure and it leaned to one of it’s cloaked guards and spoke commands. The figure stalked off out of sight and the four heroes left the room as the cultists began to fight over the contents of a wine glass that was tossed to them from the skeletal figure (both Dragora and the figure drank from it prior to this). As the cultists writhed over each other for the glass, millions of worms began coming out of the earthen floor and burrowing into the bodies and any of the heroes that remained within the large room for any period of time. Escaping this room they were presented with three options.
To the right was a hallway littered with many shards of broken glass (and also perhaps the way the skeletal king, Dragora, and the two cloaked guards would likely be). To the left, a hallway they were fairly certain would lead to the archers hiding behind one side of the previously encountered arrow slots. Straight ahead a rusty set of large metal doors, and the way they choose. Upon opening them it led to a stone bridge spanning a chasm that seemed to fall downwards for many hundred (perhaps thousand?) feet. There was a broken section approximately ten feet towards the middle of the bridge where one would have to jump across. The heroes decided to head back in and try they’re luck w/ the left option, the suspected direction of the Archers. Sure enough, a few rotten doors later they had encountered three archers. Having gotten the drop on them, they made short work of all but one. They learned his name was Victor and learned the name of the groups captain (now slain, and I don’t have my notes right with me for the details of said name). Another door in this room was to head down to a old torture chamber complete with Iron Maiden. This is where the heroes of Smoke’s Flame were last left…