The Captain of the Watch asked our heroes to investigate a disturbance on the Low East Side: word is that a group of half-orcs and goblins broke into a supposedly haunted house looking for treasure, ran into trouble and didn’t come out. For this mission they’d be accompanied by the necromancer Reed Hilarion and the elf ranger Aenor.
Well, the haunted part was certainly true: an aura of terror, rage and despair hung over the place, and blood began running down the walls. Descending into the basement the party found an abandoned smuggler’s den. One exit was a large gate, locked with a seal bearing the symbol of the Emperor above and the Lich King below, indicating a border between their two domains. The other exit was a secret door that had been forced open.
Entering the formerly secret door, the adventures founnd themselves in a network of caves and tunnels beneath the poor section of the city — and they weren’t alone. The shades of elves reenact battles with spectral human and dwarf forces, and the characters found themselves alternately on one side and then the other. A narrative gradually emerged of an Imperial incursion into elf territory, the elves fleeing underground, the Imperials following…and everyone dying.
They also stumbled across the corpses of the alleged treasure-seekers they were sent to look for. Funny thing: one of them was dressed as Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves, and a crumpled letter indicated that they were stationed there to ambush the party and injure or kill everyone but Khash.
The party chased a fleeing ghoul down a tunnel, but took a side trip into a large open space — not a cave, but a construction littered with skeletons and smashed war machines. On one side a strange portal opened onto a vista of space and stars, while the other featured a bas relief of a humanoid insect: one of the phraints, invaders from another world in a previous age. Four pillars stood in the room with gridded patterns of red, green, gold and blue gems. The characters found no magic items or usable armor or weapons, but recovered a journal that told them the following:
- A tyrannical Emperor of a previous Age sent an army of humans and dwarves, led by General Gage, to slaughter the tribe of wild elves in the forest.
- The elves fled into the caves below the forest. While the main force assaulted the front gates, a smaller force slipped in through a secret entrance revealed to them by a traitor.
- Before she died, the elf shaman pronounced a curse that no one would leave the caves alive.
- This room was where the army holed up when they realized they couldn’t get out, and that the dead were returning to fight again and again.
- A fungal cavern had food, but strange things lurked in there – and people reported seeing the elf shaman alive, and transformed.
- Then the shadows came to strangle people, or possess them and force them to attack their comrades, or steal their magic items and return them later with a curse on them. One of them stole the general’s armor; when it was returned and the general put it on again, he couldn’t remove it and he became prone to terrible rages. A wizard’s ring of invisibility was taken, and when he got it back he couldn’t turn visible again – he went mad and wandered off into the darkness.
- The general became obsessed with the idea that both he and the elves had been tricked by someone or something else. He announced he was going to find the deceiver and ventured into the tunnels, but he never came back.
Just as they finished reading the final words, a shadow detached itself from the wall and began gliding toward them…