And so they did…
Reaching the outskirts of the waterfall camp they saw some bandits through the trees. Making a group stealth check they all were hidden.
Utilizing a surprisingly good set of tactics (given their previous penchant for running straight ahead, bellowing and slashing about with whatever they happened to have on hand), Orla, Lia and Leucius went South to take out the watchers in the creek while Typhus and Caldera went towards the middle section to take out the guard in the magic circle. While this was going on Thorfin and Leucius went north to take out the artillery guard by the mouth of the cave.
All enemies were dispatched post-haste but the archer made it inside which alerted the main body of the bandits.
The heroes followed on their heels.
Some went through the North entrance while some went through the South. As the enemies came in waves they had glimpses of the back rooms and piles of crates, barrels, shelves and other things covered with tarps.
As the third wave of enemies attacked and the the heroes were deeper inside the cave the tarps were cast off to reveal some major bad asses! Including Melinda herself! She had a big ass axe and looked pretty pissed off. She started hacking into those characters that had gotten caught in her corner then, with a wave of her hand, raised the fallen minions as zombie rotters!
Damn! Didn’t see that coming, did you?
At this point I had a complex skill challenge all laid out wherein the characters would try to talk to her while fighting and convince her to put on Kenneth’s ring. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men and DMs….
They said to hell with that and just grabbed her and forced the ring on her finger…. I didn’t see that one coming… Did I?
Anyway, it worked. She flipped out, started laying into every one of the undead she’d created and then collapsed. The party mopped up the rest of the assholes wandering around.
After a long time trying to convince her that they were friends they got her to not be completely freaked out. She seemed completely broken. She told them some of her story but was otherwise silent.
They decided to take her back to town.
But not before a fairly outlandish scheme was plotted whereby they would send people out to spy on Padraid, Valthrun and Douven all at once in order to find out “what they REALLY know…”
There was talk of torture… AGAIN. Yes, talk of torturing the few NPCs that could actually end up helping them. Keep this up, guys. Seriously. I want you to keep doing it then get to understand that these people are actually trying to help you. Then, when you’re nice and complacent I’m going to have the people you think are your friends actually turn out to be the evil bastards you should have tortured and killed all along! MWAH! HA! HA!... ok… probably not….
Still… lay off the intimidating and torturing of everyone you meet.
In any case these plans were stymied because as soon as they came through the gates the guards started telling everyone that the “heroes of Winterhaven” had returned victorious from their sortie with the bandits! Yay!
They were then led, in no way stealthily, to Padraig.
After a brief audience with Padraig Melinda was sent to the local temple for physical, mental and spiritual healing.
Padraig entreated them to take care of the threat of Orcus and the Shadowfell Keep though he could not offer any more help along those lines.
Talking to Valthrun and Douven the party finds that this set of events may be tied to a much larger plot than they imagine. Douven implores the party to give him the mirror as he suspects it’s an artifact from the time of the Empire’s great age and thus could be of great importance. Having done so he promises to sell a character a ritual of their choice of any level for one tenth off the market price.
He also asks the Six to bring him any information regarding the mirror they can find from the ruins of Shadowfell Keep. When they do he promises to give them a fitting reward.
Valthrun fils them in on the history he knows about the keep. The local lord flipped out and started killing everyone and all of that… Then the earthquake and ruin and fall of the Empire and the place was pretty much forgotten….
They are urged to go out and investigate.
They do so…