Our adventurer's head to Winterhaven, only to find the town in burning ruins. A sole survivor--The maddened wizard Valthrun. The character's find the bodies of few deformed dragonspawn obviously killed by the defending townspeoples. They each wear dark purple tunics with grinning white skulls on the front. Attempts to interpret the skulls symbols are fruitless.
Two characters who handled the tunics succumbed to temporary madness themselves. Both were eventually healed by the party's Paladins. And then the group spied the mysterious raven with the shining purple eyes watching them from the walls of the keep. Heading to the one building left unscathed, Valthrun's tower, they cornered the wizard, held him down and healed him of his insanity. Valthrun relates the tale of being gripped in his madness by visions of being chased by a giant, grinning, white skull with glowing purple eyes. In his madness he ran and ran across a blackened and blasted landscape as the skull bore incessantly down upon him. The character's who fallen to the same madness remembered the nightmare exactly as Valthrun explained it.
After a brief discussion the characters learn from Valthrun of Shadowfell Keep. This ruined keep lies to the north. Valthrun wonders if the kobolds have set up their encampment there. Legends have spoke of the keep as at worst as a place of cursed evil and at best as the abode of vicious Goblin raiders.
Valthrun cast a divining spell for the adventurer's near future as they headed towards the keep. What he saw deeply disturbed him. Kobolds arrayed as an army in those same tabards of purple, row upon row of grinning white skulls bearing down to the south and the cities of good. He also saw behind this vast and foul army a huge grinning white skull in the sky--some god, some very evil god, unknown by his symbol or his power. But without question one of the most maligned and twisted evil.
But questions remain. Why the retreat if an army is invading? Why did the invaders not take the keep, but only leave it wasted. Why was Valthrun's tower untouched? This small fact was left unquestioned by our intrepid band. And what of the strange Raven?
Perhaps these answers and more lay waiting in the mountains or the keep ahead. Only time will tell.
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