Session 44 – “Let’s maybe try killing him?”

Despite NightBringer’s protests, the party decides they’d be better off with it stuffed in the bag of holding. After resting, they step through the portal and onto a stone platform suspended in a great void.

Ahead of them, bridges seemingly spun from spider webs stretch to other platforms in the distance. On the nearest platform is a strange black orb, its surface traced by flashes of crackling yellow energy. The group advances to the orb, and discover that it is a link to the realm of Deadhold. They pass through the orb and emerge atop a stone platform next to an exact duplicate of the sphere they stepped through at the web bridge.

Around them, a desert of gray sand and ash stretches as far as they can see. A dull sun hangs in the sky above, its light obscured by a thick layer of clouds, but its heat no less oppressive. A faint breeze reluctantly stirs the air, bringing with it the stench of decay. In the distance, they can hear the faint sound of untold voices crying out in torment.

The short, hunched figure of a human man stands at the base of the platform. Clad in tattered robes, he clutches a staff that ends in a curved fork. Floating between its tines is a severed human hand. A bell dragging behind the figure is attached to an iron chain wrapped around his neck. The human bows as he speaks. “I am the Keeper. Welcome to Deadhold, travelers.”

The heroes speak with the Keeper and ask directions to Hordethrone. The Keeper refuses unless the party has something to offer, and a bargaining process begins. At one point Ramor becomes frustrated with the delay and strikes the Keeper down with his axe. The Keeper’s body rots to dust, and a short while later he emerges, unharmed, from behind a distant dune. He wearily reproaches the party and resumes negotiations. Eventually the party agree to retrieve an amulet that is in Kalarel’s possession and deliver it to the Keeper. With a bargain struck, the Keeper points them in the direction of Hordethrone.

The heroes set out into the oppressive, choking heat and make their way across the desert. At several points they falter and need to rest, or need to change course to avoid a roaming army of the undead, and at one point are briefly attacked by a spectral dragon passing above. After a dozen hours, they finally see in the distance a small settlement rising from a wide plateau, surrounded by what looks like a river of shadow, which turns out to actually be a gorge around the plateau filled with an endless army of shuffling zombies.

Crossing a bridge of bones into the settlement, the party forces it way through a grisly gate constructed of animate severed limbs and are attacked by hags and a giant skeletal snake creature. After defeating these creatures, the group takes shelter in a small stone building outside a giant obsidian ziggurat.