3/5 – 4/10/1479 DR
(This is based on an adventure written by Kandrel, found here Runekeep – A Haunted Adventure)
After saving the town of Brindol, the group is looking for work and they are hired to protect cargo. There, they meet another sword-for-hire named Galidion, a Netherese.
While at sea, the ship is caught up in a storm which almost capsizes it. They captain is able to get the ship to limp into the harbor of a small island. The Outsiders and the crew head onto the island to find materials so that they can repair the ship. Instead, they get trapped in a cursed Dwarven Keep and have to unravel the mystery so that they can escape.
While the group is resting after saving Brindol, Lyris is called away by her family to pursue her brother in the Underchasm. Her older sister Elarinya, a twin-blade Ranger, is sent to continue the search in this area. She slowly begins making friends with Vylify, as a fellow Elf.
A few weeks later the group is approached by Councilman Troyas. He knows of a ship captain who is looking for added muscle in protecting the cargo that he’s supposed to be taking South and East of the Rethild Vale. Glad for the chance to earn so easy cash, the group agrees. Captain Hrolfson, an aged sea captain, gladly welcomes the group onboard. He had already hired one fighter, Galidion a dark-skinned human sword mage, but he welcomed the greater help since their cargo was especially sought after.
Captain Hrolfson takes advantage of some late spring winds to skim along the Beggars Steam, knocking almost a week off your travel time. Late into the 2nd day of riding these winds, they begin to whip into a proper storm. The group and the crew do their best to fight the storm, but Umberlee seems to have it out for the ship, and the Captain has to look for some kind of port to ride out the storm. His first mate finds a small island that no one has heard from in years and suggests that they make a run for it. Grim faced the Captain agrees and while sustaining more damage to the ship, they’re able to make it to the deserted dock. The captain and a small group, as well as the PC’s go to shore in the hopes of finding materials that they can use to repair the ship. Besides a huge Keep up on the moutain, and the small dockside town, it’s hard to make anything else out in the driving rain.
The buildings in town are sturdy built stone buildings, but they’re mostly empty. Everything inside the buildings seems eroded and destroyed, nothing that the group can use. Galidion discovers a Signet Ring in the rubble while Damaia and Vylify notice that each building has a dwarven rune carved into it… but further inspection shows a sort of corruption happening to the rune. They’re unable to really make out where the corruption came from, but whereas the rune is supposed to be beneficial, the rune now seems to be detrimental to any who live in those buildings.
Finally the group heads up to the Keep, hoping that it will be better preserved. The entryway to the keep boasts the heraldry of the Ironhammer Clan, a dwindling and small clan without a current lord. The floor of the Entry has a huge Dwarven Rune set into it, a sort of Gate Rune. In the far corner, Vylify discovers a small book that radiates magic. Every page inside is blank, but the first 8 pages seem to have been ripped out. The does a quick inspection and finds that most things in the Keep have erroded to time, but the Keep is solidly built and will protect them from the storm. Captain Hrolfson has the crew set up camp in the Lounge, while the PC’s begin exploring the Keep.
First off they find that the 2nd floor of the Keep has fallen to ruin as the roof caved in on it. In the Dining Hall they discover a page of the journal in the empty hearth. They discover another in the study and also back in the Lounge. After they have thoroughly searched the Keep, the return to the Lounge to sleep. Just as they bed down, the sentries hear noises in the Keep. Everyone is roused and they find that it sounds like children singing a rhyme in Dwarven. This creeps everyone out, but even more so as the singing drifts toward the siege door near the Lounge and then stops. One of the crew freaks and makes a run for the front door. As he crosses over the Gate Rune and out into the rain, his body crumples into a pile of dust and a brittle skeleton, like it had eroded over a hundred years. The Captain commands everyone to return to the Lounge until more can be figured out.
Halfway through the first watch, the singing starts again. The PC’s notice flickering lights in the direction of the Dining room. Inside, they find 12 ghost children. The PC’s stand in the room watching the children playing a sort of a game of tag. As they watch, one of the children approaches Searynox and fearfully hands him another page of the journal before the whole group disappears.
During the second watch, the ghost children reappear, this time accompanied by an adult dwarf women, the children call Karlie. The group approaches her and asks her if she knows what’s going on. For Karlie, she and the children are still alive, but she’s growing more and more worried about Lord Karabak who no longer has time to teach runes to the children since the death of his wife, Lady Aranor. Karlie has been a servant of the lord her whole life, a member of the clan, and a personal friend of the family. Her purpose is care of the children, and since most of the dwarves in town send their children up to the Keep during the days for tutoring, she runs a makeshift daycare and nursery. After hearing that Lord Karabak is waiting for another Cleric to come and see if he can resurrect Lady Aranor, the group pushes Searynox to the front, stating that he’s a cleric. Karlie finally agrees to take the group through the siege locked door. The door rolled back to reveal the skeletons of Karlie and the children clawing from inside the door to get out as is sealed. The ghosts stop and break down crying over their bodies. In the hands of one of the skeletons is another page off the journal.
The stairway from the siege door leads down into the Forges. There, undead dwarves are still working the forges and the Taskmaster won’t let the group into the Foundry, even boasting that he holds the only key. Finally, the PC break and start stabbing the dwarves until they’re finally able to get the Foundry key. They also find a page of the journal in one of the rubbish bins.
Inside the Foundry, they find Lord Karabak working on altering the Rune of Time Returned. They try to reason with him, but the Dwarven Lord will not hear them, so crazed is he to resurrect his dead wife. At the edge of the molten pit, under the Foundry, Elarinya spots the last page of the joural and shoots it out of the fire into Vylify’s hands. As he places the page into the journal, the story becomes clear:
This island was once the hold of a dwarven runesmith and his family. Given his skill and talent, the smith had his own forge and foundry, along with a small village of his clan that had come to join him. The smith chose this island both for its reclusive locale and its abundant natural resources. The island is the tip of a long-dormant volcano, and not far below the surface are ferrous ores rich in the minerals the runesmith needed for his crafts.
The smith lived and prospered here for over two hundred years. On the eve of their two hundredth year celebration, the runesmith’s wife fell from the keeps parapets and died. Over the next weeks and months, the runesmith called in all of his favors with local lords and kings who had benefited from the dwarf’s quality wares. Priests and arcanists were shipped in from lands as far away as the green coast (which, at the time, was the property of the black kings). Unfortunately, no form of resurrection seemed to work, and as time drew on, the runesmith became more and more obsessed and deranged. Many of his clan attempted to bring him to reason, but being dwarves, they had no choice but to trust in and honor their quickly degenerating lord. Then, exactly one year after the accident, the entire keep’s contact with the outside world cut off. Not long after, when ships arrived to restock the dwarves’ supplies, they found nothing but old bones, decrepit and brittle with extreme age.
As they watch, the ghost of Lady Aranor materializes out of the book. She and Lord Karabak have an argument where Lady Aranor blames Karabak for tying her to the journal while killing everyone in their clan and on the island with that cursed rune. While part of the group fights the undead lord, the rest of the group starts attacking the Rune of Return. When the rune is destroyed, every undead in the keep is destroyed as well. Conversly, Lady Arannor returns to her full flesh and blood state, though she is older. As her lord is destroyed, she falls the ground weeping for all that has been lost due to her husbands pride. Finally, the group is able to console her and get her to join them upstairs with the crew. The sun is just rising and the group finds that they can now leave the Keep.
In the environs around the town, the crew is able to scrounge up enough wood to repair the ship. They’re able to hobble their way into the port and deliver their goods. During this time, Lady Aranor spends time catching up on the happenings in the world since she’d died. She’s determined to visit the Dwarven city of Overlook, in the hopes of finding out more about the Ironhammer Clan. Captain Hrolfson returns the group back to the Vale of Dambrath. Along the way, as thanks, Lady Aranor puts a temporary runic tattoo of Life on each of the PC’s, which will save them from a death blow only once.
The Captain lets the group off in the Bay of Dancing Dolphins and they have to make their way back to Brindol. Along the way the group finds a Raven-shaped monolith dedicated to who died while helping to drive the Drow back underground. Vylify admits that he’d read somewhere that lycanthropes had helped the Dambrathians drive their Drow and Crinti masters back under the Gnollwatch mountains. The group then continued on to Brindol, finally getting some more rest.