Grasp of Orcus
Kalarel is a devoted priest of Orcus
A few years previously, Kalarel had discovered that Shadowfell Keep, now an abandoned ruin near the town of Winterhaven, had originally been built on the site of a rift to the Shadowfell, which had been opened 2000 years earlier by another cult of Orcus. Back then, the hordes of undead pouring from the rift had been defeated by the army of the Nerath Empire, and the rift had been sealed by wizards in service to Nerath. The keep was built to guard the rift site. Over time, its original purpose was forgotten and, about 80 years ago, the keep was finally left unmanned due to the collapse of the Empire.
Kalarel had found records dating back to the time of the original opening of the rift. Since then, he had been ceaselessly researching an evil ritual that he believed would allow him to shatter the seal and once more open the rift to the Shadowfell.
Even as he researched the vile rites, Kalarel continued to expand his influence. After gaining control of the keep, he placed agents in the surrounding areas.
Kalarel had established dominion over a tribe of goblins that had set up a lair within the subterranean chambers beneath the keep. These creatures, led by a goblin named Balgron the Fat, guarded the place ferociously, not completely out of loyalty to Kalarel but due to their own thirst for wealth and power.
After his control of the keep was solidified, Kalarel dispatched a goblin named Irontooth to oversee a tribe of kobolds operating out of a lair near Winterhaven. Through his goblin agent, Kalarel had ordered the kobolds to harass and, if possible, eliminate anyone in the vicinity (such as adventurers) who had the potential to delay or thwart the priest’s plans.
When Douven Staul arrived in Winterhaven to explore a nearby dragon burial site, Kalarel’s spies discovered that he was carrying one volume of the Book of Nerath, a tome written 2000 years previously by the wizards that had sealed the rift. Though he already knew the ritual that would reopen the rift, Kalarel received instructions directly from Orcus to take possession of the book. He failed in this effort when a group of heroes rescued Douven Staul from his clutches, but all was not lost, for Orcus was able to influence those heroes through other means.
Even while performing the days-long ritual to open the rift, Kalarel spent a lot of energy sowing distrust amongst the party of heroes, hoping to thus aid Orcus’ plans. He used a necrotic lighting bolt to revive a dying Stern, in hopes of tricking the others into thinking Stern was in his employ. When Urn Elrich was killed, Kalarel took control of his corpse, using it to attack the other heroes. Though Urn was defeated and then restored to true life, Kalarel maintained a magical connection to him, which he later used to draw him into a necrotic duel. Due primarily to the intervention of Stern and Honest Bob, Kalarel lost the duel, but succeeded in sowing distrust where it would do the most good to his cause.
Eventually, the heroes fought their way through all of Kalarel’s outer defenses, entering the ritual chamber while he was still completing the ritual. Little did the heroes know that Kalarel had made a secret deal with the Desertkin, resulting in the presence of Tracker and Melech.
Unfortunately for Kalarel, the two Desertkin were not evil at heart and were only interested in dealing with the death priest as far as the letter of their agreement required. Therefore, though Kalarel’s end of the deal was to deliver Stern into Tracker’s hands, Tracker refused to take Stern until after Kalarel was defeated. (Melech was not aware that kidnapping Stern was part of the arrangement.)
Kalarel was then shoved into a partially opened rift to the Shadowfell by Urn Elrich.
Some time later Kalarel reappeared in a mutated and tortured form, to attack the party at Skullgaffin’s behest, the party eventually escaped the encounter with him and left him to wander, wounded and crazed on the high hilltop of Agrona.