The second half of the battle with Irontooth started with a sickening crunch – the sound of the goblin’s axe buried in Kace’s chest – and a terrifying thud – the sound of Kace’s limp body hitting the cave floor. The sight of Kace’s dying form sent the rest of the party into a righteous rage. As Lindir hurried to stabilize your warlock friend, Sora gave a thundering call to battle, inciting his friends to awesome acts of vengeance. Before Irontooth could raise his axes again, Gronnell slammed him to the ground. With a running leap, Seiza plunged her sword into the goblin’s chest, and finished the job with a dagger in his back as he attempted to stand. With the band of kobolds and their leader defeated, you took an opportunity to rest and search the cave. In a chest in Irontooth’s room, you found not only a magical suit of dwarven chainmail, but also evidence of agents of Orcus involved in a search for a relic that would open some manner of planar rift.
When you arrived at the ruins to the east of the kobold encampment, you found excavators already there, digging up the site of some kind of dwelling from the Old Days, with a spectral apparition presiding over the proceedings. Agrid the gnome foreman called you over, seeming surprised to see other intelligent life in the otherwise wild hills. He mentioned that they were an excavation team employed by a historical society in Naidel to the east, and they were looking for a relic rumored to be in the area. Then he buried his pick in Kace’s shoulder and sicced his guard drakes on you. The lizards proceeded to grievously injure Seiza and Zoren while Agrid became invisible and slinked away. Meanwhile, the specter on the hillside summoned shadowy claws that rooted Gronnel to the spot, draining his life force away. On top of it all, the four human workers charged at the rest of you.
Once your feet were under you, however, your foes began falling on all sides. Sora, despite being bound by necrotic forces similar to those holding Gronnel, incited Seiza to attack one of the drakes, while Zoren incinerated a human minion. With spells, swords, and arrows flying left and right, the battle continued at a blistering pace. Lindir kept you all healed as Zoren and Kace blasted enemies from a distance. Gronnell felled a drake with vigor, and soon set about inflicting the same fate on its mate. Lindir met with some surprise when the specter resurrected one of the fallen humans as a zombie, but a quick dose of holy water put the undead back in its place. After chipping away at the apparition’s health slowly, Zoren finally blasted it into nothingness with holy light. From there, it was merely a matter of finding Agrid. Once you had, a sneak attack by Seiza saw to it that he wouldn’t be ambushing anyone else in this lifetime.
Once the battle was ended, you found a prisoner that had been taken by the excavators: Douven Staul, the very same man that Valthrun had inquired about back in Winterhaven. The archaeologist told you that whatever the excavators had been looking for had been found and already sent back to their master. He said that the man overseeing the whole operation was a wizard by the name of Kalarel, priest of Orcus, and that he had established himself in a keep to the north. He also warned you of a spy in Winterhaven that had informed Kalarel of your presence. The spy was Ninaran, the elf with which Seiza had unsuccessfully tried to speak in Wrafton’s Inn. You hurried back to Winterhaven, but Ninaran was already gone. You received thanks and payment from the mayor for ridding the town of its kobold problem, but after speaking with Valthrun, it appeared that you now had larger worries. The old scholar revealed to you that the keep of which Douven had spoken was once established to guard a gate to another plane that had been sealed in the Old Days. With the disappearance of the Ancients, however, the tower had fallen into neglect and disrepair. Valthrun feared the worst: that this Kalarel intended to reopen the rift and bring his master into this world. “If they’re strong enough to attempt that,” he said, “they must have some very powerful magic, indeed. Be careful.” With those words ringing in your mind, you steeled yourselves and prepared to depart Winterhaven.