Last week you guys ventured fourth from the city of Spire through the foothills of the White Mountains in search of ancient ruins that might harbor some artifacts from the Rukesh or Imperials. You used almost all of your gold on Venrik, an underworld dealer operating for the Whistler crime family, on a map which he claims leads to ancient ruins. As you ventured across the foothills Grundok noticed that there was another party venturing in the direction of those ruins. 3 men (fighting age) and 2 women (one younger, one older) armed with spears and likely other weapons and following the same trail you were following.
On the third night of the journey the group noticed that rain was imminent, seeking shelter you found a small cave but heard a noise emanating from it. Thorox Onefang threw a large rock into the cavern’s mouth and a mighty boar emerged and attacked him with unbridled fury. It was a mighty beast but was eventually brought low by the group who then butchered it. The following morning you made an impromptu smokehouse and hung the rest of the boar within it lighting it before continuing your journey.
You made good time and gained on the humans that were seeking to claim those ruins for their own. on the fifth day Grundok read the trail and discovered that the older woman’s tracks were no longer with the party. No fire was lit on the sixth night as Thorox urged vigilance against a potential ambush. No attack came and on the eight day you came upon the ruins looking from afar it appeared as if the keep had been abandoned no flags flew from their walls. As the party neared the Keep you saw motionless figures atop the walls and standing on the bridge. The figures on the bridge appeared to be soldiers of some kind and their weapons were still sharp and in good repair. The entire keep though looking abandoned was in good repair and didn’t look like it had experienced any wear at all.
Concerned but willing to endure potential traps in exchange for the loot that is surely within this keep the party continued into the large courtyard. Thorox felt watched by one of the gargoyles looking into the courtyard but dismissed it as a trick of the light as darkness approached. The courtyard had numerous gardens filled with a variety of medicinal herbs and exotic spices as well as some more mundane plants. Enub Snub took a sheaf of healing herbs and Grundok was astonished by the sheer variety including some he couldn’t identify. There were two buildings to the North and South with a shrine looking structure in the center from which a spring bubbled fresh water which followed a channel of a cliff to the West.
The group decided to search the North wing of the keep first they opened the shiny bronze door which moved without a sound as if it were freshly oiled. The chamber beyond was filled with boxes and crates marked with strange characters, most still had lids on and there were two doors(E&W) and a stairwell that wound down into darkness. Grundok and Enub Snub opened some of the boxes and Thorox moved the largest one in front of the door which he rigged to stay open with a piton and piece of rope. He put a box of glass precariously on top of it to alarm them if anyone tried to move the box from the door side. Night fell and the team took watches all of which were uneventful until Enub Snub saw red eyes peering at them from the darkness of the stairs. These eyes quickly vanished leaving him confused and more than a little on edge.
With morning came more exploration of the chambers, the stairs wound down into what appeared to be an armory of sorts contained exotic armors and weapons. Thorox felt a presence nearby and began searching for secret doors in the walls during which he was touched by something reptilian but was unable to find its source. Grundok heard a woman’s shout from the Eastern room but the others did not hear it. He investigated and found a room filled with miniature sculptures and a bust of a beautiful human woman with the nameplate reading “Isene”. The miniatures looked very impressive clearly the work of a master artisan and he recognized some of them as the gargoyles and other figures scattered atop the walls and on the bridge. There were 38 in all, he took and kept an archer figurine from the pile.
Thorox opened the Western chamber and saw a room filled with jars of exotic animal specimens, after seeing that he closed it immediately. They went back to the room above and found that the crate which he had moved in front of the door had been shifted back to its original location and no marks showed it’s passage back and no glassware had fallen to warn them of this occurring. Thorox and group then continued to investigate the chambers and found various skeletons in the Eastern Chamber (no hobgoblin skeletons) and taxidermy specimens in the Western One.
The group returned to the courtyard and checked the South building Thorox opened the door and saw a chamber filled with beds and footlockers, then closed it immediately. In the light Grundok realized that a statue (a woman hands up facing the sun) atop the Shrine structure was aligned with the Noon sun and the group chose to wait and see if anything might happen then. Something did happen, rune lines and magical symbols glowed blue for 5 whole minutes (2 before and after Noon) covering the whole Keep in magical light. Their initial search complete and showing no sign of the other party that sought this ruin they group turned to leave the Keep but the portcullis fell in front of them. Impossibly heavy even Thorox couldn’t get it to move.
A feminine voice rose up behind them and a woman who was not there before had materialized apparently out of the shrine because her hair was still wet. “Oh not I can’t have you leaving yet, What are you? identify yourselves.” After some questioning on both sides it was established that this human was the one identified as “Isene” and she had been trapped here by the Rukesh 175 years ago unable to leave. During that time she has only had six groups of visitors and five encountered bad ends. She will not let the group go until they promise to help free her and in exchange she can give them whatever they desire. Thorox sets the ground rules by requesting she not kill the hobgoblins in her path of revenge once she is released. Finding this agreeable she demands that they accept gifts from her to achieve their mission.
Isene then moved to her chambers to present the mission and her gifts to the group. First she opened with revealing a young woman the only survivor of the last group of people clad entirely in what was once white cloth with a golden holy symbol around her neck (Sword raised in between a pair of wings) which you do not recognize having never seen it before. “This girl tells me that the pendent that the Rukesh have stored my true power within has been found and brought to the Divine Reliquary in Radiata Civi on the other side of this continent. They are not very welcoming of your kind apparently but I’m sure you will find it worth the risk in exchange for the substantial reward I am offering you. As a token of good faith and to aid your mission I have gathered several items that might be useful in your quest.”
Grundok received a quiver with arrows in it that can shrink down but whose arrows remain full sized when drawn. The arrows within have green and black fletching and have some unknown property to them that Isene was not fore-coming with telling Grundok that they will make their powers known in time.
Thorox was presented with a well-worn cape but refused it multiple times (against the better advice of his clansmen). Enraged by his insolence Isene made her true form known; snakes became her hair and her legs were replaced with a snake’s body but her arms, torso, and face remained human-like but covered in scales. She wrapped her tail around him and began to squeeze until Thorox accepted her gift begrudgingly.
Enub Snub was given a bracer made of iron with a snake-like pattern cut out of it which ended in a small snake’s head with ruby eyes. The bracer is clearly magical but Enub Snub wisely chose not to ask exactly what it does.