Against the Lord of the Pit, Part 4: Ironspur Keep

Erol Otus' piece from the back of B2 may or may not be an accurate representation of Ironspur Keep!

Having found Griefbringer, Sword of Woes, and having recovered the spell-protected casket of Red Ghala, lost queen of the Plains of the Pale and bearer of the Fallen Crown (one-third of a tripartite artifact of the peoples of that land) as well as a wealth of knowledge regarding the frost giants and their recent war on the Pale (and the possible involvement of the Lord of the Pit in that war), the party exited the tomb.

But there was still one more surprise to be had: the party leader, the mercenary who'd organized the entire expedition, a grizzled warrior going by the name "Olgarth" (suspiciously similar to the name of Hildy's father, Olgar, the Duke of Ironspur Keep) revealed that his real name was Gorrin. He was the long-missing cousin of Red Ghala herself, and had been travelling under the guise of Olgarth the adventurer for over a decade, searching the lands for his cousin's remains. He revealed his family crest, which matched the symbol on Hildy's bracers (which had been a gift to her from he father in an alternate timeline).

Hildy pointed this out, and Gorrin informed her that the symbol was the crest of his grandfather, and his father and uncle had also adopted it. When he learned that her father was Olgar, he said to her: "Well met, cousin."

Hildy learned from Gorrin that Red Ghala was her father Olgar's sister. Gorrin's sister, Terkani, had been the Red Queen's cousin and her general and now wore the Spiked Crown and ruled the ancient giant city-fortress of Hrulanheim as one of the two queens of the Pale. (The other queen, Black Claudia, wore the Serpentine Crown and ruled the lands to the north. The people were divided, and only a regent bearing the Fallen Crown could unite them.)  He was adamant that the remains and the Fallen Crown be taken to her at once, so that she may don the crown and unite the divided lands under her rule.

There was a heated discussion about the best course of action. It would be dangerous to travel thousands of leagues to the Pale with such precious and politically volatile cargo. It could fall into the wrong hands, or agents of Black Claudia could learn of its recovery and plot against the party. Worse yet, suddenly showing up with it and giving it to Queen Terkani could spark a civil war in the Pale. The PCs were afraid - rightfully so - to undertake such a journey without planning and backup.

Finally, it was agreed that they would travel secretly to Ironspur Keep to consult with Hildy's father, Duke Olgar. He and Gorrin had been best friends as children, so it seemed like a good plan.

They made the month-long trek across Greyhawk with no real incident - until they were crossing the sea to the island duchy. In the midst of a violent storm, they were attacked - by the same black dragon they had frightened from the tomb. It had recognized the value of the items they had removed from the tomb (especially the sword) and followed them, waiting for its chance to attack. As they struggled to keep their ship from being torn apart, it saw its opportunity and struck.

During the fight, the PCs managed to drop a cargo net on it and momentarily gain an advantage. That's when they witnessed how powerful Griefbringer could be, as it sliced through the creature's neck and nearly sent its head rolling into the deep.

Within days the party reached Ironspur Keep, where Olgar was reunited with his long-lost daughter, Hildy. This reunion had happened already in another timeline, but only Hildy remembered it. She now had to relive it, and although she thrilled at her father's joy, she also hurt for him as he had never even known of her birth. It was a truly bittersweet homecoming.

After the party members and the Duke had been reunited/introduced, they feasted and discussed how best to handle the tricky situation recovering the Fallen Crown had put them all in. They came to no conclusions, and after much discussion decided to table the matter until morning.

However, when morning came, Gorrin and his companion, Brother Magnus, were gone - as was Red Ghala's casket...