Tl;dr: A group of adventurers succeed in finding the location of keep of undead in the mountains east of The Frozen Forest.

Future Adventure Notes:
•Orcs from a tribe southwest of the ZHT portal attacked the outpost there, killing the guards and looting the outpost. Outpost probably no longer secure for now.
•A note was found on a cultist referring to the black book sealed by a guardian, previously discovered by adventurers. Someone should check to make sure it has not been disturbed.
•Cultists with undead hordes are roving around the Frozen Forest, animating anything they can.
•A keep filled with undead was found hidden away in the mountains east of the Frozen Forest.
•The remaining unusual undead kobolds, (who serve Stormwing, a white dragon) were escorted to the haunted dragonborn temple southeast of the ZHT Portal. Their slain leader had wanted a golden egg in AFK’s possession taken back to their domain under a cursed temple to help Stormwing.

Session Title: Chapter 38: Searching For Another Keep
Session DM: Waylander
Session Date: 20 Apr 2022 @ 17:00 UTC
Session Risk: 6

Aodh (Barbarian 7) (played by RCB)
Barley (Druid 5) (played by Tootired78)
Hanbal (Fighter 6/Warlock 3) (played by Genthrock)
Nunde (Cleric 1/Rogue 6) (played by Trulhammaren)
Sapphire (Monk 7) (played by Arden)
Zaid (Fighter 7) (played by krforget93)

Returning from a trip through some magnificent mountains, that are unfortunately have a bit of a undead occupancy problem.

Having heard rumours of a keep owned by a Mr. Alexander, a possible undead, amidst current undead armies moving about the island, a group of us decided to try to scout this keep, trying to learn its location and occupants. We took the portal from Ruined Oak to the ZHT portal, and immediately it was clear something bad had happened there.

The outpost build there was devoid of guards. Arrows were stuck on the outside walls, making it clear they had been attacked. Searching around, no bodies were found. Inside the outpost was the quasi undead Nugard Rockseeker, currently still in his dead dragonborn body.

We spoke with him for a bit, and his accounting of events was that two or three weeks previous orcs coming and returning form the southwest had attacked the outpost. They killed all the occupants then plundered anything of use or value. A week after that, a group of black cloaked creature came and took the bodies and went east to the mountains. That an outpost of AFK is disconnected for three weeks and it went unnoticed is quite troublesome.

Nugard Rockseeker then talked about seeing large groups of undead forming and roving around the land. These groups we animating any bones they could find, animal or humanoid. They were killing to get more bones. Nugard Rockseeker spoke about feeling his nemesis, Mr. Alexander’s presence in the mountains three weeks ago but no more, and had been waiting at the outpost thinking Mr. Alexander might show up there.

Here we faced a choice. Accepting Rockseeker’s accounting of events meant the guards were long dead, with their murderers moving southwest, but the black cloaked travelers with the guards bodies went east. As the keep we were looking for was supposed to be east in the mountains, we elected to try to follow that trail.

We moved east throughout the day, with the snow getting heavier as the day passed. Near the end of the day, in front of us, but much higher on the winding trail going up the mountain was a group of thirty or so, mostly humanoid, but hard to tell through the snow.

We camped close enough to maintain our sight of this group throughout the night, which was uneventful. In the morning, with a clear sky and the sun shining bright we could see that some of the figure were wearing black cloaks, others made of bone, and one even a giant. Behind us to the west there were three white dragons flying about. I took a moment to appreciate the glory of nature in these mountains.

We moved with intent to intercept that group, finding an area we could climb to catch them on the road. We closed the distance, but they managed to cross a sturdy wooden bridge over a deep chasm, then started taking a rest break. We quickly planned an ambush, and as with most plans in action, it changed during implementation. We were successful though, slaying some cultists and their undead with no losses to ourselves.

Upon the lead cultist was a note, transcribed thusly.

Four centuries ago, a great witch was known to live in the north. She was very old and powerful and had many deals made with the creatures living in her forest between two mountain ranges. Threatened by her power and convinced that every witch is evil, a group of mighty and holy warriors united and slew the witch.

As these warriors learned that it was impossible for them to ensure the witch staying dead, they instead decided to rip out her heart, split it in three parts and hid those in different locations. The weakened witch got emprisoned to a 3 mile radius, ensuring that she may never reassemble her heart.

Among the possessions that were found in the home of the witch was a dark tome that contained insights into the dark arts. This book was brought into a land of never-ending winter and was buried deep beneath the ice. No mortal should ever lay sight on it again. To ensure this, a guardian was placed to watch the book for all eternity.

~Legends of Katashaka by Mardrek Gundraven

This was troubling to read, as I had previously seen the book described. I am glad we elected to not disturb it or its guardian. We slept that night on the side of the bridge we started on, uneventfully. In the morning we moved along the trail. To the east were several unusual air and ice elementals, and some smaller mephits, but they were non-aggressive.

Moving through the mountains, we reached an area where the cliffs began to block snow, allowing us to see tracks from the movement of several larger groups, some with boots, most skeletal, some large and some huge. These tracks all led up the slope of the mountain. This area looked like it seen frequent travel recently.

We followed the tracks up the slope, which wound around the mountain. After a sharp corner, tucked beneath the cliffs and mountains was a large keep, a mile above where we were. We could see patrols of skeletons and zombies. On the walls of the keep were three siege scorpions, and two giant skeletons holding rocks. The keep had multiple structures.

Keep near ZHT

We retreat back a ways to a large fissure near a cave with bear tracks. We went inside the fissure to try to spent the night safely. Within the fissure were the remains of a campsite and a small pile of bones of multiple creatures, with all of the bigger bones missing. Our night within the fissure was uneventful.

In the morning, we elected to climb on of the peaks the towered over the keep, to get an alternate point of view. From there we could see that the peak closest to it had over a two hundred foot fall, with no apparent tunnels through. Beneath the keep was an angled sheer cliff face, angled obtusely, making the climb more difficult that simply vertical. Fog obscured everything below the keep, perhaps there is another way in down there but finding it would be treacherous.

While descending we saw more patrols emerging and then a large skeletal wyvern or dragon with a black cloaked rider fly on top of the keep. We hurried away feeling as if we had been noticed. We were intent upon return to the bridge, but encountered a group of skeletons and zombies leading a group of familiar, unusual undead kobolds.

We coordinated an impromptu rescue using the psychic whispers of Nunde. The kobolds spoke about having been collected because of their unusual nature and that Nipo had been slain by decapitation. We took them with us not knowing what else to do for them. We spent the night peacefully under the moon.

The kobolds were unwilling to return to their church as their peaceful existence there had just ended. For lack of a better option, we took them to the haunted dragonborn ruins where we had first encountered Nugard Rockseeker, telling them they would likely be safe within, assuming they avoid the ghosts and their remembered battles.

On our way to the haunted ruins, we passed by an ice sheet, within which were reflections of all the party except for Nunde. No one knew what to make of that. We pushed to arrive at the unmanned outpost and took the portal back to Ruined Oak, spending the night as it was very late. In the morning we safely returned to Ruined Oak.