Session 9 (15/09/14)
For the second adventure in our Lonely Coast campaign I turned once again to Raging Swan. This time I went to the brilliant Shadowed Keep On The Borderlands which got amazing reviews and makes for a totally different style of play from the groups previous adventure Retribution. If you’d like to read the whole campaign’s adventure log it’s posted in order here. The preamble to this adventure can be found here.
Note if as a player your GM is likely to run Shadowed Keep On The Borderlands by Raging Swan please do not read any further, the adventure is one that will be wrecked by spoilers.
The road from Hosford to Swallowfeld is becoming well known to the adventurers and as is often the case as paths become more familiar the distances seem to reduce. Shortly after their early start from The Hoslo’s Resst the group found themselves at the top of the long descent that would eventually lead to Swallowfeld. The area where they had been attacked by bandits on their journey to Wolverton days earlier is almost the exact spot where they had been told to look for the path that would eventually lead to the Ironwolf Keep. After some searching around Hederas discovered an animal track that looked as though it had been recently travelled. Elrohir lead as they followed it north. It traversed the ridge line for a mile or two before heading out on to a heavily forested plateau. Occasionally through the trees and undergrowth the path showed signs of having been previously been more than simply an animal track, an old block of moss covered stone here, in particularly boggy ground the remains of a crude stone bridge and areas where the trees were obviously younger than the surrounding forest suggesting where a clearing previously stood.
An hour or so after noon the thick forest thinned and through the trees Ironwolf Keep came into view around one hundred and fifty yards from the tree-line. Within it’s aged outer wall, which still seemed firm although aged and desolate, a watchtower and separate donjon appeared eerily quiet and deserted. Leaving Hederas and Dvadi near the path Elrohir and Armitage cautiously navigated the circled the fortress never leaving the cover of the trees. At one point a face appeared briefly at one of the windows near the top of the watchtower but otherwise all appeared quiet.
Having discussed what to do the group walked boldly but quietly to the doorway in the outer wall to further inspect. The doors in the outer wall were originally of stout oak, bound in iron and hung on heavy hinges only accessible from inside the fortifications. Time and neglect had however sadly taken their toll and while one stood closed the other hung open at an awkward angle, only supported from one hinge. Within, the courtyard was criss-crossed with tracks, many traversing between the watchtower and the donjon. The tracks were of differing sizes, the larger prints obviously human however Elrohir quickly identified the smaller of the prints as goblin. Along two of the walls the rotting remains of old wooden buildings, now collapsed and broken, lay on the ground. The doors to the donjon both lay on the steps leaving the doorway dark and gaping like the mouth of a silent beast.
Knowing, from the face at the window, that the watchtower was occupied it was decided to investigate that first. No windows or arrow slits overlooked the courtyard and the company crept quietly to the iron bound oaken door at the foot of the tower. Armitage crept right to the door, observing the burn marks at it’s base, and examined the door. This was obviously not in the same disrepair as much of the rest of the complex but what really held his attention was the sound of talking voices the other side of it. While he couldn’t make out what was being said he soon figured that two people were having a generally good natured conversation within.
A second door to the watchtower stood on the first floor, leading out to the battlements on the top of the outer wall. Figuring that this may possibly be unlocked and less expected a way of entry Armitage and Elrohir scaled the wall while Hederas and Dvadi kept guard on the main door in case that opened. This second door seemed in as good repair as the main one and from behind it even more voices could be heard.
After a quiet and hurried conversation it was decided that rather than scale the tower using Dvadi’s grappling hook and rope a more cunning ploy would be used. Armitage and Elrohir readied themselves on the wall to quietly see if the second door was unlocked while Hederas tried to talk his way into the tower (thus giving Armitage a slight distraction). If the companions could talk their way inside then this would be preferable but if not their plan would hopefully leave the way open for force, possibly with a flanking attack from the first floor.
Hederas banged on the main door to the tower which led to a shouted conversation through the barred door. Asking for help with their sickened donkey that was struggling with the weight of their cargo didn’t have the hoped for resolution but the sentry did say that he’d have to check with this boss. Hearing Hederas starting his conversation Artmitage carefully tried the latch on the second door. It silently moved up but unfortunately a gentle pressure on the door revealed that the door was not unlocked. Armitage signalled that the upper door wouldn’t open and Hederas and Dvadi took positions to keep their door covered ready to attack if it opened.
Out of the corner of his eye Dvadi saw movement above but was too slow to shout a warning to Hedaras as a chunk of masonry flew from the roof and struck him, knocking him to the ground. The group sprang into action, Elrohir focused on his prepared arrow on the roof and Dvadi, blood pumping, shoulder charged the door. Dvadi’s impact with the door must have physically shaken the tower however the door remained solid. Glancing round he quickly decided that if they could find a decent sized piece of timber they could use it as a battering ram. A head momentarily appeared over the battlements as Dvadi ran to the fallen wooden buildings and Armitage descended the rope from the battlements. Elrohir hit the unlucky assailant from the roof in the shoulder with his arrow and they reeled back out of sight. Armitage loosed a sleep spell at the roof hoping to stop further attacks before tearing after Dvadi and searching for a suitable battering ram.
Initially the collapsed old buildings looked like a fertile ground for suitable sturdy lumps of timber but it quickly became aparent that age and damp conditions had reduced everything they found to rotten fragments. As a second lump of rubble flew in Hederas’ direction Dvadi came to the conclusion that discretion was the better part of valour and ran for the safety of the Donjon doorway, aiming to check the immediate area for further enemies. Hederas and Armitage followed Dvadi’s lead. Elrohir was not given any more targets and having retrieved his rope from the crenellations he fled along the battlements. As he reached the corner of the walkway crossbow bolts bounced off the walls near him. Turning the final corner he tore along the last twenty feet of the walkway and leapt onto the roof of the donjon taking cover behind it’s tower from another rain of crossbow bolts. Dropping to the ground he joined his companions within the darkened hallway of the keep’s main building.
Cursing their luck and doubting their choice of approach with the tower, we leave our companions as they survey the darkened leaf strewn hallway planning their next move and wondering what denizens may inhabit further within.