Having arrived in the Shadowfell, everyone begins following the “shooting star” souls through the land. After a good bit of walking in a damp cold, not knowing the time of day, Telia notices that the lands are changing and shifting. After some time they come upon a cozy looking farm house, and it would appear they are turnip farmers. Though the house looks like it was recently inhabited due to the fact it is lit up, food is cooking, and a fire is going, it would seem no one is inside. Ciro gingerly tests the door but it doesn’t open freely. Soon after trying again, slightly more forcefully, he sticks his head in the door and says, “Hello?” to no answer.
Meanwhile, Alston and Thorn examine the turnips while Barakas tries to intimidate the source of this now worrisome house. Alston suddenly falls asleep, crumpling in the doorway. Telia picks him up and runs back, far away from the house. Barakas shoots fiery arrows at the roof and window but neither set the house ablaze. All realize this house is dangerous, but noticing the doll in the rocking chair at the center of the room is the tipping point for all to bolt. Traveling away from the house, over the crest of a hill, Telia spots another identical house. It is the same house, the land had changed around them to lead them to the same place. Finally the group successfully wakes Alston who then uses a super-fire spell to engulf the house while using his magic mage hand to extract the doll. As the doll passes through the threshold, her body turns into that of an infant corpse. Suddenly, the image of corpses litters the yard while the house turns into a heap of rubble.
A terrible zombie fight ensues, complete with a half-orc zombie, a few girl zombies, and one giant zombie. Oh and of course the golden squirrel of doom. Though Thorn goes unconscious and Telia is nearly drug into the house while zombies feast on her, the team manages to win, burn the zombie bodies, and make a pathetic camp in the woods while picking up 84gp and a nice pendant from the ruins of the house worth 250gp. While Ciro is on watch, he notices moving Shadows. These are again noticed by Thorn during her watch.
The next day, Barakas is “trembling”, Ciro is “delusional”, and Telia is “sluggish”. Not too far into the journey, the path leads to a river next to a ravine. It would seem the river must be crossed, which is immediately impeded by Thorn’s immediate drowning. Telia saves her but then both get pulled under. Thankfully Alston’s nimble moves halt the ladies’ movement long enough for Telia to regain her footing and ability to pull the two of them back. A second attempt used Telia’s athleticism and Ciro’s acrobatics to hammer throw him to the other side while attached to a rope. All manage to safely cross except for Barakas who takes 6 damage as he’s pulled to the other side. All save against their “negative trait” and gain a boon.
Now safely on the other side, the Shadows from the previous night increase in number. No amount of diplomacy or intimidation work, so Alston throws a magic missile at one. Multiple shadows come out of the forest and attack the group by ensnaring themselves in the shadow of the victim. Through focused teamwork, each shadow is extracted from the victim and dispatched. Three Shadow Stalker “corpses” become valuable crystal things worth 100gp each.
Finally, exhausted, the team continue through the woods, Barakas takes on an “indomitable spirit” and Alston becomes “jealous”. As the trees thin out, a road appears with a solitary figure in grey robes. Barakas diplomatically deals with the man. Though he is probably not trustworthy, he appears to be a follower of the Raven Queen and says he can take us to her safely. First we must take a ring of his being held at a monastery. We hesitatingly agree. Following the agreement, he holds out his hand to Barakas who then transports all of them to said monastery.
- The party journeys through a sullen, dark forest beneath a dimly glowing orb that might be sun or moon. It’s difficult to tell whether this is day or night.
- They become aware that something seems to be moving in the shadows here, but can’t make out what it is.
A Cabin in the Woods
- Cresting a low rise in the forest, they come across an incongruously cozy cottage – a tiny turnip farm.
- A warm light shines through the cottage windows, and smoke rises from the chimney.
- House is empty, except for an elaborate child’s doll sitting in a chair by the fireplace.
- A cauldron of soup bubbles over the fire, smelling wonderfully of comfort and home.
- And everyone is so sleepy.
- Alston suspects an illusion and attempts to disbelieve it. When he does this, the walls of the cabin darken and shimmer before flickering back into place. He fires a magic missile at the wall to test it further. It appears to burst almost as it should, but not quite exactly right, as though someone were trying to create the impression of a convincingly ordinary impact, and not quite getting it right. He examines one of the turnips, but can’t find anything unusual about it.
- After further examination and a few unsuccessful attempts to burn down the house, the party, suspecting a trap, moves on, but when they crest another hill in this seemingly endless forest, there’s the cabin again.
- Alston fires a flame blast into the cottage, and it catches fire – everything but the doll. He reaches out with a mage hand to try to move the doll, and as he does, the illusion starts to collapse. The doll looks more and more like a baby’s dessicated corpse, and the cabin walls begin to fade. The turnip patch surrounding the house is a charnal pit, filled with the mummified remains of countless past victims.
- They’re moving.
- One by one, the corpses struggle to their feet, and soon the party finds itself surrounded by reeking, shambling zombies seemingly marshaled by a spectral being in the ruins of the house.
- After a brutal fight, they manage to defeat the zombies and their spectral controller, and break free of the trap.
- They burn the remaining corpses, then move on to camp in the woods.
- As the party tries to get some rest, Ciro, on watch, becomes aware that a few of the nearby trees are casting shadows that don’t quite line up with the trees themselves, and that these shadows move when they seem to think he’s not looking.
- He points it out to Thorn, who sees them as well, but nothing makes a threatening move.
- The party decides to break camp hastily and keep moving on.
A Difficult Crossing
- Soon, the party becomes aware of the sound of rushing water somewhere ahead.
- Telia, meanwhile, realizes that none of the usual sounds of a forest are present here – no birds, no insects, nothing but the sighing wind and the creaking trees.
- Soon, they find themselves at the edge of a ravine, through which tumbles a river about twenty feet wide, surging over rocky rapids.
- Their path leads across these rapids, and Thorn makes the first attempt to ford them, but loses her footing and would have been swept away had it not been for Telia’s fast move to rescue her and brace them both against the rocks.
- When Telia tries to ford the remaining distance, however, she slips, and suddenly the two of them are swept into the surging current.
- They manage to keep hold of the rope, but up on the shore, the three men are faring poorly with their end of the bargain.
- Barakas and Ciro lose their grip on the rope, leaving only the tiny gnome, Alston, to arrest its movement. Weighing only fifty pounds as he does, however, he isn’t able to slow it much.
- The little he’s able to do, at least, is just enough to buy Telia time to regain her purchase and brace against another set of rocks on the near side of the stream. She and Thorn climb back up the ravine wall and rejoin the party.
- The next plan is to hammer-toss the goblin to the far side.
- Telia grabs Ciro by the feet, swings him around and releases him with a powerful throw.
- Against all probability, it works, and Ciro lands without injury on the far side and is able to secure the rope.
- Barakas is injured in the crossing, but everyone else makes it across safely.
- Just in time to notice the strange shadows behind the trees here.
- The party contemplates these shadows, mismatched from the trees supposedly casting them, until Alston decides to solve the question once and for all with a magic missile fired into one of them.
- Sure enough, here they come.
- The shadows attack by attempting to rake dark claws across their victim’s flesh, merging with the victim’s own shadow when they succeed.
- Once merged, they attack their host viciously and with deadly accuracy.
- It’s a tough fight, but the party is able to defeat all six shadows after a time.
- Exhausted, wounded and bedraggled, the party continues through the forest until they reach its edge and spy a road winding through a clear valley below.
- A hooded man walks alone on the road, holding a lit lantern before him.
- Barakas greets him, and the hooded man immediately recognizes the party members as living beings, still possessed of their souls.
- He offers to bring the party safely to Letherna if they will retrieve an item for him from a mountainside monastery in the area.
- The party agrees, and suddenly the five adventurers find themselves in the mountains, looking at a stone building complex carved into the side of a nearby crag. Their destination, according to the hooded man.