The World of Arith

Into the Pillar of Stone

Beyond the trapped room, which continued to fill with water, the party found a stairway leading up through the pillar of stone. With no other recourse, they ascended the ancient staircase. Zin noted that no creatures had been on these stairs for centuries, although he swore that a raven-shaped shadow flew into the wall as they began the climb.

The stairs eventually leveled out into a wide corridor ending in a large stone door. Beyond the door was some type of shrine or temple. Across for the door they entered was another large doorway, and at the end of the room to the right were large bronze double doors flanked by two altars made entirely of smokey quartz. Across from the two altars was a third altar on which rested a chalice and a ritual dagger. The walls of the shrine were covered with reliefs of armies of daemons.

Working together, Brost, Elias and Torra told the tale of the daemons. Ages ago, a forgotten primordial used the energies of the Abyss to create a new race of demons. Not wishing his creations to rise against him, he tied their wills and their souls directly to his own. He raised four of these creatures above their kin, calling them his horsemen and named them Death, War, Pestilence and Famine. Together, these creatures invaded the Astral Sea. They invaded the dominion known as Abaddon, where the resident god and primordial destroyed each other. Bereft of their master, the demons changed. The energies of the Astral Sea and the dominion of Abaddon altered them into strange and malevolent forms. The four horsemen took control of the realm and set about on a new purpose. While these new creatures wished to join their master in oblivion, they wanted all of creation to suffer as they did. They and their spawn would seek the utter destruction of all creation.

The party also identified a magical ward on the bronze double doors, somehow tied to the two quartz altars, which had an unholy glow deep within them. With the chalice and dagger, he recognized that a sacrifice of burning blood to Charon, Horseman of Death, would bypass the ward and allow for free passage. Not willing to devote their souls to the Horseman of Death, they party chose to leave the bronze doors alone and venture further into this complex.

The smaller doorway, though sized for a cyclops, led to a passage which eventually ended in another door. The crypt beyond was nearly filled with alcoves each holding cyclops bodies magically preserved like the ones in the crypt below. Three of those bodies rose as zombies similar to the ones faced before. Upon entering the room, two ghostly human creatures emerged from the central columns to fight alongside the cyclops zombies. The ghostly creatures appeared as headless Jendarri and their touch was soul-numbing. As the zombies fought, the creatures called out for the souls of the party. Although the battle was fierce, the outcome was never in doubt due to the power of the gods channeled by the party.

After the battle, Torra expanded her senses to feel the spirits of this place. Though no natural spirits inhabited this place, she felt an overwhelming sense of necrotic energy. With all of the clues they had discovered, only one thought came to her. Lich.

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Valley of the Dead

Coldbreak, Second Ten-day

The party was met several miles from the Nomen camp by a centaur warband. Seeing the carcass of the dead manticore carried on the floating disc, the centaurs’ moods seemed greatly improved, though their caution didn’t.

Bringing the proof of the manticores’ demise to Mother Moon, she opens up quite a bit more. She compliments the party on risking life and limb only for the opportunity to gain the centaurs’ trust. She then reveals her name as Accora Silverfire. When confronted with the disappearance of the villagers of Varnhold, she denies any centaur involvement, but explains that one of her warrior maidens recently saw strange and lumbering shapes in “Olah-Kakanet”, or the Valley of the Dead. Perhaps the humans disturbed something best left undisturbed in the valley, as they so often do.

When the party mentions the name Vordekai, found in Maestro Pendrod’s research, Accora grows quiet and explains that the name Vordekai is known in the ancient traditions as a slumbering warlord from the time of the mother tribe, an ancient powerful figure from the distant past. She also explains that Vordekai is associated with a narrow trail leading up into the mountains at the northwestern corner of Olah-Kankanet. With the sun setting, Accora excuses herself to conduct the nightly rituals, but suggests that the answers the party seeks lie somewhere in Olah-Kankanet. She allows the party to set up camp right outside the Nomen grounds and asks one last favor.

It seems that the warrior maiden, a ranger named Xamanthe, who spotted the shapes in the valley has disappeared, possibly to investigate on her own. Though the valley is taboo, she asks the party to keep an eye out for Xamanthe, her daughter.

After a night of undisturbed rest, the party set out south to Olah-Kankanet, the Valley of the Dead. Several hours later, they passed the totems and warning markers designating this place as taboo. Entering the valley was like entering a different world, the valley stretched for about two miles east and west of the narrow northern pass, and about 3 miles south. Littering the flat valley floor were hundreds, if not thousands of large mounds. The air stilled as they went further into the valley, following the north foothills west. As the sun set, the party found a very secluded place to camp and hunkered down. At some point during the night, Zin saw movement in the darkness, seemingly heading west as well. Though his curiosity nearly got the best of him, he realized that he would have to range far away from the party to truly investigate.

As the sun rose, in the pale light of dawn, they spotted movement in a narrow fissure winding up through the foothills to their west. Approaching the fissure, they discovered an ancient set of steps carved out of the foothills leading northwest into the Tors of Leven. About halfway up the wide stairs, they were accosted by the zombie of a cyclops. At first they thought of the simple undead animated by ritual until the zombie bit into one of their skulls and was rejuvenated by the act of feasting on their flesh. Another zombie dropped down behind the party, effectively blocking their escape, suggesting the ability to reason, not just blindly follow orders. Dispatching the two zombies, the party was horrified when the each in turn reanimated and began their attack anew. Dropping the two a second time, they dragged them down the stairs and lit the corpses on fire, creating a makeshift pyre.

Having had time to study the corpses, Torra seemed to think that whatever ritual animated these creatures was much more powerful that the common ritual, yet the residual necrotic energy in the zombies did not seem capable of reanimating them a second time.

At the top of the stairs, the path wound its way to the southern bank of a large basin which wrapped around a pillar of stone sticking out of the black, murky waters. A large stream fed in to the basin from the west, at which point the water churned black in the basin and around the tall island, before eventually plunging over a rocky waterfall in the east. The island, or pillar of rock, was about 500 feet in diameter and was about 600 feet from any shore. Past the island to the north, sheer cliff’s overlooked the basin, and flying above those cliff’s, the party spotted draconic shapes, which they identified as wyverns.

Elias created a floating disc and used it as passage above the blackened water, first taking Zin over and returning for Diego. As Elias and Diego made their way over on the small field of force, they were spotted by one of the wyverns. Once the monster was close enough, Zin gave the creature something else to worry about. firing arrow after deadly arrow into the creatures tough hide. A second wyvern joined the fight, but by then Elias and Diego had crossed the lake. The wyverns flew away, eager to find easier prey.

With the threat gone, it took only a few minutes to usher Torra and Brost across the black lake. Finding a dark opening in the rock, they entered a long hallway with alcoves running its length. In one of the neck-high alcoves a large urn had been broken open and ancient coins littered the high shelf. Digging through the coins they found a jade bracelet, similar to the one described in Pendrod’s notes. Further down, the corridor turned, leading into a diamond-shaped room. An alcove in the southern wall had been broken open and in the alcove lay biers in the wall, three high, most holding the body of a long-dead cyclops, the corpses somehow preserved against the ravages of time. Elias examined the eastern alcove, and dsicovered a secret door. Torra then examined the northern alcove when it suddenly opened and two more of the cyclops zombies engaged the party. Diego managed to hold the two of them in the alcove as the rest of the party rained destruction down on them. The party then waited for them to rise again and repeated the process.

Through the secret door was a large underground lake, diving in, Diego noted stairs at the bottom of the pool, which was well-carved below the surface, before he was attacked by a creature from another time. A behemoth called an elasmosaurus lay waiting in the lake for anyone foolish enough to break the surface. The cagey beast ignored all attempts to get it to surface, instead waiting for its prey to come down to it, and the lantern’s light on the surface of the pool ruined all attempts to see below the water. Eventually seeing no other way, Diego and Zin dove into the water to confront the thing, and soon joined by Brost while Torra and Elias stayed above water to provide aid if needed. It didn’t take long for the water to be stained red with the beast’s blood.

Attaching a long length of rope to himself, Diego swam down the submerged staircase and found that it quickly leveled out then ascended to a room filled with cyclopian pottery. The distance was short enough that all members of the party were able to make the dive. The pottery room had a stairway down, leading to a strange square room with 16 statues and 16 circular reliefs carved into the ceiling. When Elias found and opened a secret door in the room, the circular indents revealed themselves to be stone plugs holding back the waters that began to pour into the room when the plugs dropped a foot each. Iron doors dropped down over the secret door and the doorway back to the pottery room, and a portcullis further sealed off the way back as two side alcoves opened up, releasing the zombie cyclopses inside.

As the party engaged the cyclopse, Elias searched for a way out, examining the circular plugs, the statues and the secret door before finding a panel near the door with the trap mechanism. Zin revealed himself something of a trapsmith as he left the battle and disabled the mechanism that held the iron door shut. Now up to their chest in water, the party chose to finish the cyclopses before making a mad dash – almost swimming – out the secret door and up the stairs beyond.

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Into the Nomen Heights

Coldbreak, Second Ten-day
Once up the stairs, the party was tricked into a position where they were effectively surrounded by the remaining spriggans. The spriggans used the outer hall to encircle and corner the party. Brost ended up establishing the front line against the spriggan leader, and would have fallen if not for the efforts of Torra. Diego was forced to defend the rear of the party and was flanked by two of the creatures who took turns beating on him.

Eventually Zin, Elias and Brost hurt the leader enough that he attempted to escape. As the spriggans began to fall, the party was able to use the corridors in the same way as the spriggans to surround their remaining enemies. The last spriggan shrunk to normal size and attempted to flee, but was intercepted and slain by the group.

With the blockhouse secured, the party then made an exhaustive search of the rooms. In what they presumed to be the Laird’s room, they found a torn up map of the area with several notations made indicating points of interest nearby. This made perfect sense to Diego, as any Stedholder would first map out the area surrounding his or her stedding and clear it of any threats. Another room had paper and books strewn about the floor, obviously ripped apart by the spriggans. Elias soon found the pages to the Hallucinatory Item ritual as well as a Pyrotechnics Ritual mixed in among hundreds of pages of mundane notes and communications necessary to run a community.

While Elias and Zin chose to stay in the Blockhouse, the bulk of the party returned to the Waterhorse Inn. The sigil had faded, and the spriggan lay dead on the floor. Overnight, Brost took his time and began to study the notes left behind by Maestro Pendrod, whose name he recognized as a famous Tarn historian specializing in the Arvanoran Expeditionary Armies. It seemed Maestro Pendrod as contacted by Maegar Varn and asked to research a curios jade bracelet that his ranger, Willas discovered on the banks of a local river. Maestro Pendrod seemed to suspect that the bracelet was of the Nomen centaurs, an offshoot of the Rashalka centaurs. In the margin of one of his books, Pendrod wrote and unusual note, "Vordakai — perhaps a Nomen centaur god?”

The next morning, the party began to follow the tracks of the villagers. They seemed to head southeast out of the village. On Varn’s map, this was the direction to the Nomen camp. After rounding the Tors of Leven, the tracks began to march south until they just stopped Torra sensed a wrongness about the area and cried out when she felt that something was forcibly ripped out of her chest for a brief moment.

Having no other options, the party headed east to where the Nomen were indicated to be on the map. After a few hours, they were surrounded by three centaurs, who agreed to bring them back to their camp. In an effort to break the ice, Zin began a game of target practice, until the centaur made a shot very much beyond Zin’s ability. A smug grin showed briefly on the centaur’s face as Zin quietly stopped the game.

At dusk they reached the Nomen camp, which was strategically placed on a low hillock surrounded by a sea of grass. They were escorted to the middle of the camp, where at a huge bonfire, the leader of the Nomen, whom the others referred to as Mother Moon conducted rites to appease whichever power they worshiped.

She spoke to them through gritted teeth, and it was obvious that there was much bad blood between the centaur and human-kind. Torra was singled out as being “from the forest”, and soon the party heard of a war in the Darkoak Forest between fey and werebeasts of all kinds. The werecreatures’ leader was named Caldoror, which the party thought sounded like a corruption of an elven name.

Even though the party just came seeking answers to what plagued Varnhold, very little they said seemed to move Mother Moon. She seemed ready to dismiss them, or order their deaths, for they could not read her intentions when she proposed a trial. If the party were to enter the Nomen burial grounds to the north and deal with a pair of manticore who were making things difficult for the Nomen, she would be willing to answer whatever questions they had to the best of her ability, though she promised no direct help.

The party were given an area near the outskirts of the Nomen camp, close to the Nomen warriors tents and allowed to rest, The next morning, they were escorted partially to the burial grounds. The manticore were difficult to engage as they flew by and rained spikes on the party, but Elias, Zin and Torra were able to engage the flying creatures until they lost enough altitude for Diego and Brost to aid in the battle. Soon the two monsters were slain. Zin cut the leathery wings off of one of the creatures to possibly craft armor when he was able, while Elias readied a floating disc ritual to bring one of the the manticore bodies back. The group cut the tail from the other creature, while Diego attempted to cook and eat some manticore steaks. They then prepared to head back to the Nomen with proof of their success.

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Investigating Varnhold (GM Post)

First Ten-day Coldbreak
After recovering a bit from the surprise attack by the chuul, the party began to systematically investigate all of the buildings of Varnhold. While Zin checked out the north side of the ford, looking for tracks or any signs of human life, Diego, Brost, Torra and Elias investigated the two-story inn which stood just off the village commons. The sign above the door depicted a rider clinging to the back of a madly galloping horse with a green mane and a fish’s tail extending from its hindquarters. On the front door, the party noticed a hastily scratched word, “NOMEN”. Inside the inn, tables were overturned, kegs were missing or smashed and the place reeked of stale alcohol. One table in the common room remained untouched. Standing above the table, surrounded by a golden glow was a gigantic figure with bark-like skin holding a book in one claw. Several books and a multitude of papers lay strewn about the table, but none of the other books were touched. Investigating the creature, Diego had the impression that it may be some type of fey, but his knowledge of the natural world was not sufficient to determine anything else. The back of the creature’s head appeared also to be smashed in, but it must have happened after the enchantment froze him, for the blood which should have covered the floor remained frozen as well.

Elias, Brost and Torra, concurred that the enchantment was a sepia snake sigil, possibly on the book which was entitled “Secrets of the Rashalka Mounds”, by Ernst Gavinport. The sigil could only have been in effect for a day or two at most. The other books on the table included Jendarr Prehistory, The Centaur Skyles of the Wildlands, and The Untold Heritage of the Arvanoran Armies of Exploration. Brost and Torra looked quickly through the books for any evidence of religious writings or arcane lore, but set them down when they determined that the books were mainly historical in nature.

A search of the inn’s guest rooms reveals that only one of them was inhabited at the time of the vanishing. An investigation of the personal effects that remain indicate its occupant was Ervil Pendrod. Among the more mundane possessions in his travel trunk is a small library of further reference works. One rare tome was a centuries-old geography book created by one Carmyn e’Brothasa, chronicler of Arvanor’s Third Army of Exploration into the north. One passage is marked by Maestro Pendrod and reproduced nearby. Pendrod’s own handwriting in the margin of the text contains a simple but strange note: “Vordakai—perhaps a Nomen centaur god?” The book, frustratingly, does not provide a location to the semi-mythical island mentioned in the text, nor does it provide any further clues to Pendrod’s cryptic margin note.

After investigating a few more homes, the party approached the large village warehouse, or grange. On opening the doors, thousands of rats swarmed out of the building. While the rats weren’t really much of a threat to the group, the fact that there were so many of them seemed odd. Most of the tracks and signs of passage indicated that the people of Varnhold left their village perhaps five or six nights ago, no where enough time for so many rats to multiply in the grange, or for the flocks of ravens that flew above the empty village.

Making their way to the stockade overseeing the village, the party stopped at one more home, with the sign of a jeweler or gemcutter over the door. The door was battered in, and the entire inside of the building was upturned. It looked like whatever broke into this place destroyed furniture and bashed in walls looking for secret stashes or chambers. The place was totally ransacked.

As they approached the stockade, they spied helmets peeking over the wooden walls. Zin sent Shiver, his raven companion, but got no reaction from the helmed figures. Torra sent Shiva, her spirit companion, and still got no reaction. Finally they approached the fallen gate. On entering the stockade’s yard they were spied by four small creatures with bark-like skin and their two dire wolf “pets”. Diego demanded they tell him what they did with the villagers, to which one of the creatures answered, “Empty village ours, you trespassing.” With that, the creatures attacked.

Zin and Torra recognized the creatures as spriggans, bloodthirsty fey creatures of the unseelie courts. Three of the four spriggans raged out, and as they charged to engage the party, became 8 foot tall monstrosities, similar to the creature at the inn. The fourth stayed in the back, calling upon the forces of nature to destroy the party.

The battle in the stockade

When its companions began to fall, the small spriggan ran to the blockhouse, yelling at whoever was inside to let him in. When the party approached, he transformed into a root and burrowed out under the stockade walls.

Breaking down the door of the blockhouse, the party slowly searched through most of the first floor before finding two spriggans passed out in the barracks. Growing to giant-sized, the drunk spriggans tried to put up a battle, but ultimately did little damage to the party. When Elias moved near the top of the stairs to get a better vantage point for the fight, a spriggan upstairs took a swing, but then disappeared around a corner. The drunken spriggans defeated, the group ascends the staircase.

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Into Jendarri Lands (GM Post)

Having made arrangements, the party made ready to travel north into the Jendarri lands to determine the nature of this “ancient evil” let loose by the “Emissary” Foss. Stocking up on rations and bundling their warmest clothing, the party headed north along the Great North Road. A day’s travel put them at the small mining town of Bardenhold, west of the Blanryde Hills. Staying at the larger of the two inns in town, The Copper Nugget, they asked about the next day’s travel. The innkeep, Asgar Kraddorn, explained that about 15 miles north was the fishing town of Ashenport. Most people stop there for the night, but a determined caravan can press on to Sandpoint if they don’t mind arriving after nightfall.

The next day, they took Asgar’s advice and pressed on, passing through Ashenport a bit after noon and arriving in Sandpoint after dark. Taking rooms at an inn called The White Deer, the party again enjoyed a quiet night.

The last leg of their journey took them a little over 40 miles and well into the night to reach North Tower, the northernmost outpost of the Kingdom of Hawkmoon. Staying at The Sharpened Spear, they spent some time with sailors from the distant lands of Petrovia whose captain had stopped at North Tower for a small bit of shore leave. There they were introduced to the unique Petrovian spirits known as vodka.

Setting out the next morning, just a bit worse for wear after a night of drinking the potent beverage, the party was determined to head north along the coast until reaching the great Gwenvieren River, sister to the Celindria. There they would follow the river until arriving at the Jendarri town of Berwyn.

Zin spent much of the day hunting for food for the party, so that their rations would last longer in case they needed the food. However, as night fell, they found themselves without tents or shelter. Finding a hollow that barely provided cover, they slept a restless night and woke up exhausted and spent. The next day, and the days after that, Zin began a new routine, hunting during the morning hours and searching for an appropriate campsite when the hunt was over. Although the nights were rough, the extra time searching for shelter more often than not turned up a suitable site.

Two more days passed before the party came to the Gwenvieren, and 5 more days upriver. While they had left the road far behind at North Tower, a path that seemed somewhat traveled often pointed the way. Nearing the end of the fifth day, in the late afternoon they spotted their destination, the town of Berwyn.

The town looked unlike any settlement in Hawkmoon. The structures were old, and many of the buildings lay empty or in ruin. The town seemed to have three distinct styles, with only the newer construction seeming to be made by man. The oldest buildings were often covered by images and reliefs of dragons, dragonborn and beastfolk, though much of it was defaced long ago. The next set of buildings seemed the largest, doorways at least double the height of a tall man would open up into many structures. The style of these buildings was somewhat primitive compared to the first. The newest construction was clearly Jendarri work.

An island lay at the west end of the city, the point at which the southern River Bern fed into the Gwenvieren. On that island were three enormous buildings. The first was a manor house seemingly fit for a king. The second a tall tower which was unmistakeably an ancient observatory and the third building, which dwarfed the other two even though it was not as tall as the observatory, seemed as if it were sealed up. On the eastern edge of town, just inside the old walls, lay a ancient stronghold of some type. It was here that Torra kept looking. When she asked the rest of her companions if they heard the pleas, they confirmed her suspicions. A powerful spirit lay beneath those ruins, crying to be freed, and though she could hear the spirit’s call clearly, there was something wrong about it.

Taking rooms at the Red Horse Inn, they spent the next few days gathering information. Torra went almost immediately to the Gweirhenge Circle, one of the most powerful Jendarri Circles. She spent the rest of her time with the Circle undertaking rituals unknown by outsiders.

Zin spent the first night at the Fang and Claw, a rowdy inn and tavern catering to the hunters and trappers. Somewhat disappointed that the clientele at the Fang worked on a barter system, exchanging hides, pelts and other valuables gathered from nature for room board and gambling stakes, Zin was up to 4 mink pelts before he lost it all on the last bet.

The next day, Diego visited the local skald, Lysa of Amael. When he approached Lysa’s home and school, he was brought back to his childhood. Lysa was drilling a few Jendarri youth in the Hanferren Saga, which told the story of Odin’s defeat during the Dawn War and the ascension of his daughter Ingunn, who the Arvanorans call Ioun. The stanzas and verses exactly as he had been made to learn them years ago.

Asking Lysa about Varnhold and about Argent, Diego was told that there were many ancient stories about Jendarri heroes approached by men in silver cloaks and asked to join the heroes of Argent. Most Jendarri refused, not wishing to be taken away from their people. According to the stories, the heroes of Argent were served by minotaurs who acted as squires and henchmen for heroes. Of Varnhold, Lysa told of the local heroes Maegar Varn and his Varnling Host. The Varnling Host were Varn’s adventuring companions for years before the group decided to found a new Stedding. He recruited most of his initial villagers from Berwyn, though as he passed through Ogmund’s Crossing, he picked up more followers. Varn was a fighter by trade, his host included Wllas Gundrason, a Jendarri ranger, Caspar Morgarion, a cleric of Frey, Howitt Gurney, another fighter, and the wizard Cephal Lorentus.

At Gweirhenge, Diego met with Mahlar of Scobel, the face of the Circle. When asked about ancient evils and dangers to Varnhold, Mahlar spoke of many battles with the centaur clans of the Nomen Heights. He also said that there were old stories that indicated the area around Berwyn was inhabited by cyclops during the reign of the giants. Another source of danger could be the fey of the Darkoak Forest.

Two days after arriving in Berwyn, Torra rejoins the group somewhat solemn. They leave that day out of the east gate and follow a well-trod path for two days to the small village of Ogmund’s Crossing. There they stay at the Redfeather Inn where Sahail and his wife Laren make their stay as comfortable as possible. Laren’s cooking is incredible, and Sahail brags that she is the best cook in the Soro Valley. They learn that the local stables, The Clean Hoof is the best place for purchasing mounts in the region. When asking about Varnhold, the party is told that there’s been no word from Varnhold in about a week, which is fairly unusual since the two communities are only a day from one another, and merchants from Varnhold always pass through Ogmund’s Crossing on their way to Berwyn.

The party is told to cross the Bern River, and follow it south until they get to the Kirov which feeds in from the south. Then they should follow the Kirov and ford the smaller river when they find a good fording spot. Varnhold is on the Kirov. For a small group traveling light, then entire trip takes a day and a half, and they reach Varnhold in the early afternoon.

The village is eerily silent, the chimneys show no sign of cookfires. While farm animals and wildlife roam through the village, no other signs of life are present. Passing a few farmhouses, the party enters the open doors to find food left in pots on the now-dead fires or even on the table, spoiling as it waits to be eaten. Dolls and childrens’ toys lay on the ground as if dropped and forgotten.

Using the ford to explore the buildings on the other side of the Kirov, Zin is attacked by a monstrous aberration known as a chuul. Though one lone creature is hardly a match for the party, the attack lends an air of danger to the silent village as they continue to explore.

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Guests of Honor (GM Post)

Lady Moonfire spared no expense at the dinner. Zin sat at the end of the table nearest Siluele Taemelson and her son Jondelar Taemelson. Elias procured a seat close to Gheselle Dameral and Phillipe d’Amberville. Diego and Torra sat next to Alidar Farrian, while Fix made sure to sit by the Princess Adrianna Hawkmoon. Brost sat nearest Amatheon Pentraith. During the courses, most guests engaged in small talk. One awkward moment occurred when Christoph Martinev‘s daughter Lena began berating the staff because one of her dishes was not hot enough. Also awkward was Adrianna’s sudden stiffening and silence after Fix whispered something in her ear.

After dinner, the musicians began playing local favorites to entice the guests to dance. All was going well until an altercation in the courtyard spun everything around. The party ran to the courtyard to find Alidar grappling Fix, obviously at the Princess’ command. Fix managed to free himself and dodged past the guards out to Ambassador’s Row. Zin ran to the wall, fey-stepped to the parapet and provided a distraction that allowed Fix to gain his freedom. Diego, Torra, Brost and Elias exchanged words with the Princess in the courtyard before their carriage was ready and they were driven home. Lady Moonfire appeared livid. Fix got over the outer bailey’s wall and disappeared into Coppers, followed by Zin.

Though it ended poorly, the ball was not a waste. Zin was invited to Taemelson Manor in Groveside to speak more with Lady Siluele, Elias obviously made quite an impression of High Councilor Gheselle and Alidar left word at the Hawkknight’s Citadel that Diego was to be granted passage. But Fix had disappeared.

The next few days, the remaining party members used all of their resources to find their missing companion, but to no avail. While they carried on the search, Diego and Torra went to the Hawkknight Citadel to speak with Alidar. After narrating their exploits in Thunderspire Mountain and giving Alidar a copy of the duergar research, the subcommander decided to call Diego and his allies back to meet with a higher authority. Elias also used this time to meet with Loremaster Theodosia at the Temple of Learning in regards to the “Argent” clue, while Zin pursued the same inquiry with Lady Siluele.

At Hawkknight Citadel, Torra and Diego meet with Alidar, Princess Adrianna and Bodvar Fairvoice. Convinced of the potential threat, the two leaders agree to send out scouts to determine the truth of these stories. Of the gnolls inhabiting the Westbrook Ruins of Westbrook, Bodvar strongly objects to any Hawkmoon units being deployed that close to the Iron Hills, but agrees to talk with his people and launch a joint venture to clear the site. Bodvar also agrees to give the party a letter on introduction to the clan chieftains at Tijino, providing a guide to the lost dwarven canton of Krongard. Bodvar went on to suggest that he may contact the Jendarri and see if any settlements had someone who wanted to sted in Westbrook. After some confused looks, Bodvar explained that in Jendarri culture, young heroes often set out from an existing settlement to found a new stedding, or settlement. Usually these young heroes had allies and procured enough followers to start a new settlement. After clearing the nearby area of threats, the work became establishing and managing the new settlement. Unlike the Arvanorans, new steddings were not part of an “Empire” or “Kingdom” and thus were seen as allies to the dwarves, not expansionists. Alidar and Adrianna suggest that the party warn their northern neighbors in Berwyn of the threat while their scouts determine the threats closer to home.

At the Temple of Learning, Elias sought information about Argent. Theodosia directed Elias to Derwyndal’s Tower, living near The Halls of Books. There, Elias encounters an old codger that charges him 500 gold for an answer to the Argent question, and forces him to wait three days for an answer. After attempting to barter with the old coot, Elias laughs at his stubbornness and pays the price.

And at Taemelson Manor, Zin meets with Lady Siluele, Jondelar and hios twin sister Freylan. It is obvious that the Taemelson’s have not been on this side of the Veil long enough to know much about this Argent that Zin raises, but the Lady suggests that Zin meet with the Tuath-nir, the elves of the Tuathwold east of the Iron Hills saying, “Though the Tuath-nir slay humans on sight, they have been in this world for a very long time and may know of this Argent you ask about.”

As the party sits around the table in their apartment and shares their information, Ondath, speaking in Fix’s voice chimes in. Reunited, the group makes plans to travel to the Jendarri settlement of Berwyn.

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Return to Hawkmoon (GM Post)

The next morning, the party roused themselves to meet with the Lady Moonfire. The Lady had her carriage ready to go, and as the procession wound out of the west gate of Caer Rivermeet, it had all of the pretense of a small parade. Through the outlying town people came to the road to wave at the Lady, and several cheers went up for the party as well. Young boys ran up to the group before their mothers shunted them off to get back to their chores and more than a few people came up thinking the group for its help saving a relative or friend.

After half a day’s travel, they stopped at a small campsite set up on the side of the road for travelers. Solid stone benches surrounded a firepit, and a small shelter, merely three walls and a roof, stood off to one side of the road. The Lady provided lunch, and as they sat she explained.

“Diego and Fix, you have not convinced me of the seriousness of the problem. The fact that the other members of your band do not corroborate your story does nothing to support your case. In any event, I refuse to risk my reputation on the fact that you are correct in your predictions.” When Diego and Fix began to interrupt, she shushed them and continued.

“However, I also refuse to risk my reputation on the fact that you are wrong. Therefore, this is what will happen. When we arrive in Hawkmoon, I will throw a celebratory ball in your honor. Of course you will be in attendance, and so will many other notables in the city. You may use this event to make contact with those you feel should know this information. If you expect a spy, then you should be very circumspect in your approach of these people. Running up and blurting out the issue will get you nowhere. My dears, if you expect to play in this arena, you must learn tact. Also, when you get your audience, think about the arguments you will make to persuade your contacts. Try and do a better job than you did with me.”

So the trip continued, and at the end of the second day, the familiar walls of their home came into view on the horizon. Passing through almost a mile of farmland, the procession finally entered the city proper. At the fork past Caer Greycastle, the Lady turned left and proceeded to the castle gates, while the party kept to the road, heading for home. Diego sent a runner to find Ondath, who was just turning the corner at a full run (was he still pulling up his breeches) as they opened the back door to Coalstone’s Baubles and their upstairs apartment.

As he busied himself tidying up just a tad, Ondath apologized for not having the place in better order. After all, they were gone for two months. He explained that he had located one of the runes in the possession of Moradan Songmaster, a bard from Tomes. Moradan would be willing to share his rune if he could be present at the event. The final rune, Ondath explained, must be in the possession of the Arcanum Mage, Sargona. He left, promising to be at the apartment early with breakfast.

During the next few days, the party settled back into the hustle and bustle of the city. Fix contacted Sargona, who agreed to part with the potion case for a large amount of gold. Searching for leads on the name Argent, they learned the following:

  • The word Argent is old dwarven for Silver, on further examination, they discovered that many races share the same meaning for similar words
  • Jaemanthar Starsong remembered references to heores “taken to silver”
  • There were references to heroes in silver cloaks

Finally, the night of the gala was upon them. Wearing their best, they were picked up in a carriage bearing the royal seal and brought into Ambassador’s Row, the outer bailey of Caer Graycastle. Lady Moonfire was in her glory as she introduced the assembled guests, each of which congratulated the party of a job well done and their service to Hawkmoon.

The guests included:

After about an hour, Lady Moonfire asked everyone to be seated, and dinner was served.

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The Spirits Speak (Torra)

I can hear them. I’ve always heard them, but I can hear them much stronger now.
We escaped the Westbrook Ruins. Destroying the abyssal priestess for what it had done, twisting the spirits to it’s will, gave a sense of satisfaction. The Eladrin spirits were free and made their journey to where they belonged. Yet still the feel of the other spirits around me were getting strong.
Our escape was not without issue. When we left the escape tunnel from Westbrook, we encountered Trolls. They were a troublesome lot, but we managed to dispatch them. Zin believes that a hag was with them, but had left sometime ago. Tired, we made camp within the cave before we made our way to Caer Rivermeet.
It is there I dreamt.

I stood in darkness, but I did not stand alone. The soft essense of Shiva brushed by my side. A comfort I cherish in this darkness. As I reach down to pet where Shiva is, her warm glow begins to lighten the area. Her glow though is not the only glow beginning to light the darkness.
In the distance, I see three other dim lights glowing. Two that I recognize are strong spiritual glows. The third glow is not of a spirit, but of familar essense I have only recently called upon.
But they will have to wait. I am awoken for my time to guard the camp. The night is quiet. The day spirits come and we move on to Caer Rivermeet, home to Diego. We are greeted as heroes. But the spirits speak, we are not finished. As my group talks to those of importance on the matter at hand, get cleaned and feed; I make my way to the river, to cleanse myself and prepare to speak again with the spirits. I make a shrine to the forest spirits to watch over us. To guide us.

The night comes and I sleep and I dream.

Again I stand in darkness. Again I do not stand alone. And as Shiva comes by my side, so to do the glows of light come into being. This time they came close to me and soon I can make them out. To the left, Grandmother Spider, the Fate Weaver. To the right, a formless spirit, The Great Watcher. Two great elder spirits I am concerned to see.

The third I see is not of spirit, but a goddess. It is she who I have given a portion of my faith to. It is she who has given me a gift to strike down my enemies. It is Melora. Yet her essence before me has faded. Her face shows no happiness. It is then I notice behind Grandmother Spider. I can see the web she weaves that ties the worlds together behind her. There is large hole in the web. A very dark hole. I understand this hole, the fate of the future, a primordial freed from the web that once held it. I nod to Grandmother Spider and she fades away.

I turn to the Great Watcher and Melora. Yet they are no longer side by side, they are one. As the Great Watcher glows brightly, Melora dims, though does not leave. A change is coming and I am to embrace it. I am to change. I turn to Shive, but she is no longer a lioness spirit….she is me. And I, I am her.

Change is coming. Change is coming for me. The spirits have spoken.

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Escape from Westbrook 2 (GM Post)

With the abyssal chieftain of the gnolls defeated, the party rested for a few minutes before trying to find the secret passage that Brost had read about. With some more time to think, Brost also remembered that the passage he read talked about the Mayor being unable to completely empty a vault of some type.

After an exhaustive search, they party found a one-way escape door leading to an small and windy tunnel, and they also located the vault. In the vault was runed mace on a pedestal. The divine runes covering the mace were astral in origin, suggesting a holy weapon of some sort. The pedestal was protected by a divine ward. Torra took the lead and performed the minor rites which allowed her to get closer and closer to the mace, until she could reach out and snatch it from its home.

The earthen tunnel twisted and turned for at least an hour before ending with a framework obviously designed to plug the tunnel’s exit. Pushing the plug out of the way, the group was surprised when it opened into a small cave occupied by four trolls. Each time a troll was brought low, they revived with astounding speed. It wasn’t until Brost blasted the trolls with his breath weapon that two of the trolls who had fallen burst into flame, never to revive.

Once they determined the trolls’ weakness, the other two were dispatched fairly quickly. Before clearing out the cave and settling in for some much needed rest, Zin searched the area for tracks and found tracks that resembled a very feminine and petite humanoid foot. The tracks were mixed in with the trolls’ footprints, suggesting that this female was able to walk among the trolls with impunity. After some conversation and debate, Zin came to the conclusion that they might be a polymorphed hag’s footprints. Despite this new danger, the party set watches and slept in the cave.

The next day, Zin led the way due south to the River Arvin. Finding the shallows that they used to ford the river when approaching Westbrook, the party made its way safely to Rivermeet.

As they approached and entered Caer Rivermeet, the central walled section of the town, the party was aware that the citizens of Rivermeet waved to them or pointed at them while talking to friends. It was obvious that the heroics of the party was now common knowledge in and around town, and the party was hailed and shown a great deal of respect on their entrance into town.

Stopping at the garrison, they reported to Sheriff Dugan Narros. He summoned his scout Harrowleaf into the meeting as well. The party explained about the beastfolk infestation of Westbrook and the plots of the Emissary they had uncovered in the Seven Pillared Hall. Harrowleaf even said, “Useful intelligence. Surprising, but commendable.” Upon the sheriff’s urging, the entire group made their way to Lady Elandria Moonfire’s manor house.

The Lady met with the group, though somewhat put out by the fact that they hadn’t cleaned up yet. Diego and Fix attempted to convince her that they needed to meet with someone in charge in Hawkmoon, but with little in the way of back-up from the others, the Lady seemed unmoved. Fix went back to the manor house after cleaning up a bit and tried again, but still seemed unable to convince the Lady.

While enjoying a night of unwinding at the Green Tankard Inn, the party was approached by the Lady and told that she needed to purchase some new dresses from the City of Hawkmoon and would be willing to accompany the party to the city the next morning.

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The Vanir Gets His Blood (by Diego)

I expected our return to the Ruins of Westbrook to be of small affair; could I have not been more wrong. Upon, from what my companion Fix called, the “portal discharge” the old dungeon of the ruined tower came alive with a familliar sound, the yippin of gnolls and thier cursed heyanas. Immeadiatly my valiant companions sprung into action. We dispatched the accolyte gnoll demonolgist and her servants in short order. In the process, a Vanir Ranger freed himself from the gnolls captivity and joined the fight on our side. He called himself Zin, handled himself will valor and skill in combat, and infomred us that his traveling party had been captured by the beastfolk that had turned the Westbrook Ruins into some demonic festival site, oh execellent. Zin’s comapanions have slowly been sacrifced to the gnoll’s foul demonlords, by a Head Shaman. Zin provides what intelligence he can and Fix uses his amulet of disguise to wander the camp for a few.

We made plans to escape to the countryside by escaping throught the weakest part of the refurbeshed wall. On our break to the wall Brost correlates his historical knowledge of Westbrook with Zinns info and realizes there is probably an escape tunnel in the basement of the Lord’s Keep. When our stealthy vanguard reaches the wall, they realize there is scores of beastfolk camps around the city as well so we change plans mid-actioon. Fix has scouted out the Manors hidden entance, and we head there in hopes of finding the Lord’s old escape tunnel. Zinn is sceptical of our plan but follows our lead none the less. Fix’s booby trap drops the ruins on the pursusing gnolls and we make our way to the basement.

In the ruined manor’s basement we encounter the Head Shaman and her kenku witch doctor. Zinn’s former compaions are there as well, but all that remains are defiled spirtes twisted into ghost hyeanas. The combat was savage and bloody. We carried the day and upon the victory, Torah tells us Zin’s companions spirts are freed. The Vanir has gotten his Blood! Silence fills the dungeon as we prepare to look for a way out and home.

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