(Spoiler Warning! If you don't want to be spoiled about Icewind Dale's story just skip this post. Also, this is brough to you by... Red Hood! Because I feel just as lost as her and can't remember if she sponsored a post yet)
When we last left our heroes, they were exploring the Valley of Shadows in search of the evil that was plaguing the region. There was certainly a lot of evidence that there was at least some evil thing going on there, perhaps even the culprit behind all of Kuldahar's troubles. As they explored they fought lots of Lesser Shadow, broke into some other crypts where they slayed a few more undead and in one of them finally found someone that could talk:
Not exactly the kind of encounter the party was expecting.
They tried to get some information from Therik but all that they found out was that he was a guardian of the crypt and that he claimed to not know anything about Kuldahar, not even being familiar with that name. Also, only the followers of Myrkul, Lord of the Dead are allowed in there. If they would like to join that religion by becoming one of the undead they will be more than welcome to hang aroung. Otherwise just get out of their lawn! Or whatever they have that pass for lawn for in a crypt. Unfortunately the party liked living too much and they couldn't just leave it like that either. So Therik and his fellow undead tried to kill them. As one could expect things didn't end up well for poor Therik and his friends.
For a protected crypt it was actually pretty small. They just found some stairs leading downstairs with some elaborate coffins and related decor. In one of them they found a key but no door in there where that key could be used or any other clue.
Going outside they went to another crypt, not too far from there. This time it looks like they hit the jackpot. Right in the entrance there is a statue dedicated to Kresselack, the Black Wolf. Kresselack was mention back in Kuldahar as being a barbarian warlord that terrorized the region a long time ago. There was some inscriptions also warning for people to stay away.
And just so nobody says I am picking on some barbarian warlord, look what they found just after the entrance:
If a book that seems to be made of human skin and written in blood isn't evidence of a really evil person than I don't know what is.
After the next door they found yet another guardian.
Turns out Bone Dancer Mytos is also another follower of Myrkul and he is the one responsible to bring undead guardians to protect the tomb. The party explains their reasons to go tomb raiding to which Mytos replies that whatever evil they are seeking it is not there and they should look elsewhere. He does admit though to know about Kuldahar but he has no interest in anything that happens outside the tomb only on things that happen inside of it. The party then insists in continuing their inspection of the place but Mytos refuses to allow them to proceed. There is a bit of arguing back and forth about on what right they want to inspect the tomb with the party trying to come to some form of understanding with Mytos. Unfortunately neither side wants to concede on their points and Mytos and his helpers end up attacking the party.
After defeating Mytos they continued in their exploration of the tomb. Turns out it was a really big place, with three floors if I recall correctly, and filled with undead of different types. There were so many undead, in fact, that you could build an entire wall out of their fingerbones. Ok, that is a bit of exaggeration. Just a bit.
My memory might be playing tricks on me but I think dungeons being that big back in the days wasn't all that unusual. Another point that probably made me impatient to finish it was because I was an idiot and didn't resupply while I was in Kuldahar. The result is that midway through the dungeon my party run out of arrows, bolts and bullets. So Goldilocks, Red Hood and Alladin had to resort to meleeing which was way to dangerous for them. I gave in eventually and went all the way back to town to buy more ammo for them. Also I thought it wouldn't lead to a very much interesting post and wanted to go back to more interesting stuff. How naive I was!
Anyway, after a lot of hard battles they finally reach the chamber where Kresselack resides. The party prepares for another epic fight that will shake the heavens and make the earth tremble, they cautiously approach the undead warlord and he... wants to talk? Ok, that works too, I guess.
Apparently he knew about their presence the moment they stepped on his tomb. He confirmed to be Kresselack in life but went dramatic saying that in death he was nothing, just some cursed spirit. The party made the mistake of asking why he was cursed and had to listen to some long story about his life. To summarize it, he was an warlord but like all conquerors he fell prey to old age. So he decided to order a tomb to be built for himself while he could. Once the tomb was built he sacrificed all his men for Myrkul so they would become his guardians in undeath. Finally he sacrificed himself to Myrkul thinking that way he would join his deity in the after life. Instead he end up a spirit trapped inside the tomb for eternity.
The party then just pointed and laughed about his dumbness. Ok, they didn't do that but Hansel did point out how justice was somewhat served for all the foul deeds Kresselack did while alive. Much to their surprise, Kresselack was inclined to agree. After all he had several lifetimes to ponder about it.
Finally they got to the heart of their bussiness in there and told Kresselack they were in there looking for the evil that was tormenting Kuldahar. Kresselack admited to be an evil jerk but he was not the one responsible for the town's problems. In fact he couldn't care less about the living so if they believe on his words or not it was their problem, not his!
He did say he could at least give an answer to the party's quest but only if they helped him first. Apparently there is a follower of Auril, the ice goddess in the region. Being a goddess of ice she doesn't like any kind of fire or warmth and asks their followers to extinguish it whenever they see it. Unfortunately Kresselack's tomb has lots of fire lighting its halls (I have no idea how though!). That priestess of Auril tried to gain entry in the tomb but his guardians were able to make her go away. Now that all his guardians have been destroyed by the party there was nothing stopping her from coming back and extinguishing all the lights in there. Kresselacks is afraid of the dark does not want to spend eternity in a cold, lightless hell, as he put it and asks that the party slay the priestess. In return he will give an answer to the party about the location of the evil they seek.
The party points out they are not assassins to which Kressalack points out that Kuldahar would be seem as an even bigger abomination to a follower of Auril than his tomb. So what they think that priestess would do once she finished working on Kressalack's tomb?
Despite that the party was reluctant to agree to such a task and promised to think about it. We'll get to the resolution of this in the next post of this series though.