Finishing up at the green dragon burial ground, the adventurers head back to Winterhaven. They carry the draconic skull the goblin and strange spectral apparition had dug up. The goblin, Agrid is with them… on a rope, held by Jigjo. Taking the road back, the party encounters no resistance. Indeed, nothing moves on the road. Pillars of smoke line the sky to the west, likely farms put to flame. The few farms along the road appear abandoned, carts partially loaded with goods left behind. Activity increases as they near Winterhaven. The town is bloated with people, refugees from the surrounding farms and homesteads. Guards at the gate stop the adventurers and question them about the Goblin in tow. After a short discussion, Agrid is given into their charge to be locked up in the towns stockade. Sharp goblin cries of protest are heard as the guards escort their charge out of the party’s sight. Having been relieved of the burdensome goblin the adventurers decide to try to find out what is going on by finding answers at the inn.
The inside of the inn is chaos. People occupy every chair, table, corner and unprotected wall. Families huddle together nursing their wounds and their loss. The proprietor, Salvana Wrafton, harries her staff to provide what comfort they can to for the mob. This seems to have been limited to providing wine and ale to try to calm them. The party notices a particularly shaken human family in a corner, what they take as the father has a bandaged and bloody shoulder. They decide to question them about their situation. The father tells them his harrowing tail of narrow escape from a kobold raiding party. He seems a bit unclear if these are goblins or kobolds but from his description it is clear what they are. The kobolds slaughtered some of the farm hands as they swept through the fields. The family was just getting ready to head to town with some supplies when they hit. Thinking quickly, the father threw his two children and his wife on the draft horses. Before he could cut the traces and mount himself, a kobold closed the distance, and hurled a javelin. A javelin imbedded in his shoulder, the father was able to mount a horse and lead his family on a mad dash to safety. His every possession left behind.
looking around it appears this story may not be unique. Many other families seem worse for the wear. Before the party can inquire further, Captain Kelfem approaches the party. He immediately inquires about their mission against the kobolds. He knows of the fight to save the dwarf at the crossroad, but is surprised by the news of the burial site. While he knows the actions the party has taken won’t have eliminated the threat, he feels Lord Padric should be informed. The party is quickly escorted outside to where Padric is organizing the guard and the disposition of refugees. Padric is surprised to see he party back so soon, and is shocked at the connection between the kobolds and an active death cult. The evidence of the skull, the map, and Douvan Stahl is overwhelming. He acknowledges that the party’s earlier questioning of townsfolk about death cults was more than just fear mongering. Something is driving these kobolds beyond their normal infrequent and light raids. They are organized and rampaging through the southern and western farms. He agrees that the kobold threat is likely a distraction to keep attention away from the keep to the north. However, he cannot ignore this threat… He pleads with the party to find a way to cut off this dangerous claw of their enemy. Zelathoth informs him that the party will be going after what they believe is the head of the dragon. Padric will have to find a way to deal with the talons and tail.
After Leaving Padric, they realize the next order of business is to figure out what to do with the skull. The realize that carrying around an object so strongly desired by the leader of a death cult is likely a bad idea. They cast about town for advice on how best to deal with it. Sister Lenora at the local chapel of the sovereign host wants nothing to do with it. Douvan Stahl is surprised they are still carrying it. The party decides that the risk of spreading knowledge of the skull’s existence isn’t worth asking additional people. After Ryo explains that the option of burying it or hiding it is poor due to the likelihood that it can be found through divination, the party opts to destroy it. Zelathoth places the skull on the ground in a quiet part of the town away from prying eyes. With a mighty blow of his hammer he shatters the skull. The party is not completely satisfied with this level of destruction. They take the horns and largest bits and scatters them around the town. Marc elects to toss one of the horns into a smith’s forge. Jigjo finds a secluded place to desecrate his. Finished with this task the party decides to rest at the inn for the night before heading out to the keep in the morning.
The party rests for about six hours before being interrupted. The following encounter is triggered.
“You are awakened from your slumber by screams from down in the inn. As you shake off the last of your weariness you notice the screams are punctuated by loud popping, like an over-full water bladder rupturing. The inn quickly becomes a cacophony of running feet, moving furniture and raised voices.”
The adventurers put on their gear and head downstairs.
Captain Kelfem bursts through the inn’s front door as you descend the stairs. His eyes, widened with fear, fall upon you and he pushes his way through the crowd. He pleads with you “please, by the sovereign host, you must help us. They are here, they are killing everyone, children… Oh gods… The baby, it just tore her apart.(tears stream down his face, you notice vomit stains and blood on what little of his armor he is wearing) kobolds, I think, but horrible, Ike nothing, hurry. We need to keep them from getting over the wail, ladders.” He pauses his frantic narrative, takes a deep breath and shudders, returning some amount of his composure. He continues “Sorry, this has shaken me deeply. I’ve seen more horrors this night than in all the years of the war. Some great evil has set it’s eye on this town. Something has created abominations in the shape of kobolds, they are getting into the city on ladders that had been set up for them after dusk. These monsters sprint through the streets, burst Into a home and slaughter everyone inside. The few we’ve intercepted have exploded in a cloud of foul steaming poisonous fluid. Several of the guard have fallen. I need help putting together teams to destroy the ladders. We can’t afford to go one at a time, we must go after them all at once. I’ve got guardsmen and the militia gathering up outside. But I need leaders for each of the teams. I’ll take one but I’ll need four or five more. Please we must hurry.”
The captain turns abruptly and pushes his way back to the door. He isn’t waiting. As he puts his hand to the door a scream followed by a WHUMP is heard outside, not far away.
As you recover from the captain’s onslaught you notice that the entire inn has grown silent, except for the crying of children, and the unconvincing words of comfort from their mothers. Very few men are inside, those that are are elderly or a bloody mess. Every adult eye is upon you.
Overnight the town has been infiltrated by raised kobold undead. These undead kobolds have been altered to explode, spewing poison and viscera once damaged. These kobolds are bloated and twisted versions of their living selves. Their eyes glow with a fell light, they scream with a menacing shriek, and they move with preternatural speed. When they are damaged, they shriek and begin to expand rapidly. after a couple of seconds they explode, spewing a burning poison and kobold zombie bits in the adjacent squares.
The zombies targets are the helpless farmers hiding in town. They are rushing over the walls on ladders they didn’t place. once inside the walls they sprint to their intended targets, rip them to shreds before heading off after targets of opportunity. they come in ones or twos from five or six spots along the wall around the city.
This horrifying introduction completed, the party exits the inn and begins a skill challenge. The party splits up, each taking the leadership of a squad. The squads are comprised of one regular guardsman and three famers from the militia. Each team is to explore the town for a breaching ladder and destroy it and any kobold abominations they encounter. Zelathoth and Jigjo successfully fight off abominations, find and destroy a ladder. Marc’s squad stumbles upon an abomination running through an alley with a screaming child. Twisting and shaking the baby the beast seems to relish in the pain and screaming. After quickly exploring his options, Marc fires an arrow at one of the monster’s legs. The arrow flies true tripping the creature and causing it to drop the child. Although free from the monster’s grasp Marc is concerned that the kid is close enough to be killed in the impending kobold explosion. Thinking fast, Marc gracefully slides between the monster and child, scoops the kid up and shields it from the blast. Marc’s squad is wildly inspired by this selfless act of heroism. They go on to find and destroy a ladder. Ashdown finds a ladder but can’t destroy it before an abomination crests the wall and kills his three militia team members. The party is victorious, bringing an end to the terror assault on winterhaven. They return to the center of town and learn from Padric that all the ladders have been dismantled. Padric thanks them and leaves with the guardsmen to sweep the town.
left alone and the town soundly defended, the party decides to push on to the keep. They are determined to gouge out the eye that has focused on Winterhaven. The adventures sneak up to the keep, bypassing the locations indicated on the map recovered from the kobolds. Jigjo’s scouting identifies a few kobolds and a lightly guarded hole in the rear wall. The party decides to make their entrance through this back door. The fights starts slow, the kobolds charging out of their positions to engage the party. The area inside this backdoor is hard to maneuver in. Rubble litters the area, a wall quickly forces the party to split to head off the engaging enemies. A wyrmpriest perches on the nearby wall and rains down spells with impunity. Marc finds positioning difficult and takes shot after shot as he wades through the enemies to get position on the wyrmpriest. He falls to these repeated blows but is quickly aided by Ashdown, who gets him back on his feet with some quick healing and words of inspiration. Jigjo finds himself flanked and taking a solid beating. Zelathoth manages to keep Jigjo healed up, but realizes it’s going to take more direct intervention to free him from danger. Clambering over the rocks, Zelathoth moves into position. He takes in the heft of his hammer, times his blow with the kobold’s shifting and swings a tremendous, skull shattering blow. The kobold is completely destroyed by the massive critical strike. Now freed from defending his flank, Jigjo makes quick work of the other Kobold before him. Ashdown and Marc bloody the wyrmpriest setting it up for jigjo’s killing blow. Throughout the fight Ryo steadfastly holds the western flank. He occupies two dragonshields, keeping them at bay until the rest of the party frees up to help finish them off. With their adversaries vanquished the party searches the corpses, finding a mundane amulet on the wyrmpriest. The amulet bears a symbol of the dragon below and is inscribed with a rams-horned skull. Searching the rest of the ruins reveals a set of stairs heading down beneath the keep. Shaken by the ferocity of the keep’s defenders the party decides to pull back and rest before exploring further.