Hogar’s Journal (Translated from Giant)
Year 781 of the founding of the City
27th Day of Garmensis
Driving rain has turned these foothills into a quagmire impeding our progress to Winterhaven. We arrived in the early hours of the morning to find The whole town, if the ramshackle place can truly be described as such, in a commotion following the return of a group of warriors from a keep to the north-east. That this is the direction from which the ear-splitting din emanated immediately piqued our interest. Vicrael asked around the local shop keepers and quickly determined that these adventurers were at the inn following a commotion in the night.
Originally a group of six these adventurers had been to the ominously named Shadowfell Keep to root out a nest of goblins that had been troubling the area. Upon returning to Winterhaven this group of amateurs proceed to drink themselves into oblivion, letting their guard down only to be ambushed in the night by vampires who made off with three of their number.
I later determined that amongst the three taken was their elven leader. This Cleric by the name of Eric had been slaughtered on the Kings Road by Kobolds and then resurrected by magic. In my experience this never leaves someone unaltered, magic is not to be trusted. It was this elf’s blood stain that Diefenbaker discovered on the road two days ago.
Minron and I had been drawing some wary glances from the locals since arriving at Winterhaven. For this reason we decided to wait outside the inn whilst Old Vic talked to the remaining members of the group. Leaving the old man to his own devices was as ever a mistake. As we stood in the filth and driving rain our intrepid leader committed us to a journey quite contrary to our mission. By the time we were called into the bar it was too late to alter our course.
I stooped under a low beam and into the inn. The stink of waterlogged mud and shit was instantly replaced by that of tobacco smoke mingled with vomit. My arrival generated a few gasps from the patrons. The memory of orcish aggression is still sufficient in these parts, even three generations after the Bloodspear wars, to make people wary of half-orcs. I wonder what the reaction would be if they knew of my lineage? The reaction from the patrons as I entered was as nothing compared to that when Minron stooped to get through the door. The whole place became uncomfortably silent for several moments. You don’t get many minotours in these parts it seems. Vic introduced us to a dwarf, a tiefling and a human mage.
Most striking of the group was the mage, even allowing for the demonic horns and tail that are the standard accoutrements of a tiefling. Dressed in blue robes, he was not old in appearance, perhaps forty. His head was completely bald and covered in an intricate pattern of tattoos that brought to mind the vision of an electrical storm. His skin was a deep tan, the result of many hours under a sun much stronger than that which struggles to make its presence felt here. The mage was alone in not drinking the local ale and did not utter so much as a single word throughout the conversation. I’m not certain he even registered that we were there.
Most of the talking and indeed most of the drinking, was done by the dwarf. He was a stout, stocky fellow with an unruly mop of red hair and a beard to match. In front of him on the table there lay an axe but not just an axe. Instead of a pommel the base of the shaft was adorned with a spearhead. He later told me that it is an ugrosh, a weapon of dwarven design. It must be a difficult weapon to master, if this dwarf is competent in its use then that would suggest that he is a fighter of some skill.
Glen informed us that beneath the keep they very quickly discovered that there was more at work than just a group of goblins. The keep had been constructed above a portal to the Shadowfell itself. Somehow this motley crew managed to close the portal, destroying the keep in the process.
Though their actions in closing the portal were impressive enough these adventurers show remarkably little understanding of the underlying events they were part of at the keep. Even the oddly named mage Rodney had little to say about Orcus and the cult that had infested the fortress, remaining so aloof as to seem completely uninterested in our conversation.
They also killed rather than captured the mage responsible for the re-opening of the portal under the keep. This decision has robbed us of a source of vital information concerning Orcus’ plans. The dwarf fighter Glen showed no remorse for this oversight, barely seeing fit to speak to me at all. Probably not surprising behaviour for a dwarf of this region when confronted with someone of orcish extraction.
Amongst their missing companions are a Cleric and a Paladin. Vicreal is certain that they will be able to provide us with more details of the Cult of Orcus’ activities in the keep. If the members of the group still in Winterhaven are anything to go by I find this incredibly optimistic. Surely we would be better off travelling to the keep ourselves to search for clues? Still, it’s his decision and Old Vic has decided that we will aid these three in the search for their missing companions. Wherever my intrepid and fearless leader goes I will of course follow.