All Roads Lead to Sharn
Glipkerio, a criminal underboss of Sharn, is in trouble: a shipment of drugs – 4 chests of combat stimulants – have gone missing. (Party #1) Each of the PCs owe Glipkerio or need something from him, so through a combination of blackmail and diplomacy Glipkerio convinces the party to travel to Winterhaven and investigate.
In Fallcrest, the party’s contacts indicate that the drugs never reached there. The drugs were supposed to come in from the Old King’s Road but kobolds have been attacking travelers lately. The party signs up with the local lord (Markelhay) to find and eradicate the kobold threat.
The party defeats the kobold tribe and the young white dragon who had recently assumed leadership. In doing so, the party finds alarming letters indicating someone is attempting to organize the various non-human tribes in the region. As a token of support, this person had donated a chest of the combat drugs to the dragon and the kobold tribe. Hints suggest a lair somewhere in the region of Winterhaven.
Through contacts and exploration the party finds a well-defended lair of goblins outside of Winterhaven. Too well-defended, in fact – all but one party member is killed while assaulting the lair. Another of Glipkerio’s missing drug chests appeared to be among the goblin possessions.
Agents in Fallcrest and in Winterhaven kept Glipkerio appraised of events. (Party #2) After the first party disappeared, he gathered a small group of more experienced sellswords and sent them to pick up the trail. This party succeeded in raiding the goblin lair and finding more evidence of a mysterious Orcus-worshiping necromancer in the region. Following up on these clues, the party disrupts a nefarious team trying to recover an ancient dragon bone, uncovers a House Phiarlan double-agent, and suspect the resident Winterhaven sage of being a spy as well.
During this period, the region of Winterhaven briefly overlaps with the Shadowfell in a planar anomaly. The dead among the ancient graves surrounding Winterhaven rise, but surprisingly ask the party for help – to rid them of the ghouls that have been feasting on their bones. While assisting, the party wizard finds a planar orrery and confirms that the Shadowfell plane isn’t coterminous with Eberron – something must have caused this.
Signs have been pointing to an abandoned keep in the mountains north of Winterhaven. With an increasing sense of urgency, the party hastens to the keep and finds it is inhabited by goblinoids. While exploring the keep, the party learns that a great Planar Seal is stored here that suppresses a powerful manifest zone. In the past, cultists of Orcus have attempted to use this zone to summon the Demon Prince of the Undead and his minions. The party discovers a priest (Kalarel) is attempting to destroy the seal and raise an undead army. The party fails to defeat the priest, and are not only slain but also deliver to the priest the dragon bone needed to complete the ritual…
Meanwhile, the lord of Fallcrest, Lord Markelhay, is becoming desperate to restore safe access to the Old King’s Road and identify the source of the recent troubles. To make things worse, the monthly trade barge from the wood elves to the north never arrived. A courier was dispatched but never returned. (Party #3) Alarmed, Markelhay gathers a group of his vassals and adventurers and sends them towards the elves.
This group discovers that the elf villages have been seized by a group of goblinoid slavers known as the Bloodreavers. The Bloodreavers are keeping the elves subservient by holding their women and children hostage. The goblinoids are forcing the elves to chop down trees and send the timber somewhere to the west. The party joins with the small elvish resistance group led by a Dryad who lives in the Feywild. The resistance consists of fanatical converts to the elves’ war-god, AEdain. The party also discovers that the goblinoids are working with a necromancer and sending him dead or infirm elves to turn into zombies. The group hopes that this information will shock the elves into rebellion. Through magical and non-magical means they communicate with the elven slaves, present them evidence of necromancy, and coordinate an uprising.
On the appointed day, the party and the elven resistance storm the Bloodreaver camps. Hopelessly outnumbered, they try to cause massive confusion and panic with fire and hit-and-run attacks as a cover for freeing the hostages. When the hostages are freed, the elf men rise up and engage the slavers. In an epic battle with many casualties the Bloodreavers are driven off.
Lord Markelhay brings reinforcements and secures the woods. He makes a big show of it and is cultivating goodwill among the elves who are ostensibly within his domain and under his protection. The party suspects that Lord Markelhay is concerned about political fallout. The party is given estates and welcomed into the Markelhay household as retainers with a promise of future rewards for their support.
The party follows up on leads from the necromancer and heads west. The Dwarf warrior, Max, has formed something of a kinship with the elvish “Children of AEdain” through his near-death experience while battling along side them. In a series of visions, Max converts to AEdain-worship and becomes one of his Chosen during this trip. Max’s vision also leads the party back to the Dryad, where they are feted, rewarded, and then warned of a Prophecy. The reason the Dryad kept such a close eye on the elves is because she believed the Draconic Prophecy hinted that when their sacred tree, a Sun Tree, was felled then shadow would spread across the land.
Newly emboldened, the party resumes their journey and arrive in the mountains near Winterhaven. The landscape is transformed into a sinister twisted shadow of itself. At the center of this bleak landscape is an ancient keep. Erupting from the ruins is a giant writhing black tentacle, covered in hundreds of smaller tentacles, which rises several stories into the air. Around the giant tentacle are ranks upon ranks of undead. A veritable army. And, notably, siege engines made from fresh timber.
The party falls back and considers all this. The arcanists in the group ascertain that there is an incredibly powerful manifest zone here connected to Mabar. Indeed, someone or something is harnessing this manifest zone to create an overlap between the planes. After pondering the Prophecy, they come to believe that they must cross over to Mabar to stop this danger. To do so, the seek out the lake of Greymere and submerge themselves to the point of drowning – and when they surface, find themselves in the Land of Shadow.
This portion of Mabar is a twisted mirror of Eberron. The party travels to where the ruined keep and giant tentacle would be in their native plane. In Mabar, they find only a solitary stone tower. Upon examination, the stones of the tower are possessed with trapped souls who hungrily rend and bite and the party if they draw too close to the walls.
At the top of the tower, they confront a priest of Orcus (Kalarel) and his powerful minions (undead versions of the previous party Kalarel killed, natch). After a harrowing battle, the party is triumphant. Through Kalarel’s scrying pool, they see that the army in Eberron is collapsing. Rhan’in then assaults the gigantic beating heart of the tower itself. The living tower writhes in agony, hurls bricks at its attackers, and begins to collapse. Rhan’in stays in the tower to slay it, while the rest of the party runs for safety. Unfortunately, as the tower heaves in agony, Wangchi is hurled off the stairs and plummets two stories. He is knocked unconscious, nearly dead.
When the tower heart finally ceases beating, it begins to crumble. Rhan’in makes it out alive and the party hurries back to the portal at Greymere, the minions of an enraged Orcus at their heels.