Lamashan 23, 4714
The party traveled with the Nomen warband across the Dunsward, the centaur keeping them closely guarded and limiting conversation. As the party drew closer to the Nomen settlement, they encountered a sizable herd of mastodon. But instead of skirting around the herd, they quickly closed the distance drawing the notice of these enormous creatures especially a fierce bull. The bull lowered its tusks and stamped it’s feet indicating an imminent charge until one of the centaur warriors blew a deep bass note from a horn. The sound immediately calmed the bull and the herd parted, allowing the group to pass through un-harassed.
Soon they reached the Nomen camp, a settlement holding a much larger number of centaur than the party expected. Preliminary survey’s of the camp suggest that at least 500 centaur make their home in this area of the Dunsward. The sight of non-centaurs provoked an immediate response from the camp, and many of the residents assembled to watch as the “Two-Legs” approach. Alexandross Thundering-Spire, a proud and charismatic spokeswomen from the tribe greeted them with an additional hundred Nomen warriors. After introductions were made, the group presents Alexandross with Skybolt causing the assembled centaurs to gasp in awe. The warrior woman’s attitude abruptly shifts towards a more favorable view of the party and she immediately declares her desire to bring the group before the high-priestess. The party complies, and as they enter the camp, Aria Stormmane, the defeated female centaur warband leader from their previous encounter appears and confronts Alexandross about the presence of the foreigners. Alexander spoke up at this time, at first commenting in surprise that Aria didn’t notice the heirloom bow over the course of their the first encounter in which she was painfully present. The Nomens choose to ignore the barbed comment from Alexander and a quiet but heated exchange between the two horsewomen occurs before the party is allowed to continue. However, they are allowed to proceed only after Aria scornfully orders the party to disarm as a precaution against “Two-Leg” treachery. Without much hesitation, all abandon their items, and are lead to gain audience with the high-priestess of the Mother Moon.
The group is ushered over to a large bonfire in the center of camp, whereupon an attractive but fierce looking female leads a group of Nomen in the observance of evening vespers. After a few moments, the beautiful centaur greets them, introducing herself as Aecora Silverfire, leader of the tribe and the emissary of Mother Moon. While less hostile than the other Nomen, she still remains guarded, asking them the reason for their intrusion onto sacred Nomen land. Penelope spoke, first explaining about fighting the Culcheck Spriggans in Varnhold, and recounting how they came across Skybolt. Aecora thanks them profusely for it’s return, explaining the item’s importance to her tribe. The party asks if the tribe knows anything of the fate of the people of Varnhold, but the centaurs know nothing about the disappearance, indicating that their own investigations have turned up nothing, though they remain guarded over this information.
The party takes some time to ask if they know any who might have done such a thing, and eventually inquire on if they knew of an evil called Vordakai. The mood in the room chills briefly, and the priestess warns of the danger in using this name. Nevertheless, Aecora begins to explain what history of Vordakai she knows.
Many many thousands of years ago, the Nomen centaur were as thick as grass amongst the plains of the Dunsward. By ancient tradition, these Nomen, the Mother Tribe, were entrusted with the guardianship of the Dunsward, duty-bound to protect it from a great and powerful evil. The Nomen were faithful to their duty for millenia until several centuries previous when an army of humans from Taldor invaded the area,beginning a decades long war of attrition. Even as the domain of Rostland was established in what is now Brevoy, Taldan colonists ripped through the centaur war herds pushing them to the fringes of their former rangelands and farther and farther from their guardianship and traditional homeland. So great were the effects of this war that much of the Nomen tribal lore and identity was forgotten. By the time the Taldans finally abandoned the Stolen lands, the original reasons for their guardianship were forever lost from tribal memory. As for Vordakai, all that is known is that it is said to be a slumbering warlord from the time of the mother tribe.
The party asks of a few other things, like the clue of the Vale’s stairs and the mysterious raven. They know nothing of the raven, but suggest they search the valley to the west, called Olah-Kakanket, the Valley of the Dead. The Nomen do not go to the valley since entry into Olah-Kakanket is forbidden, associated with the most powerful tribal taboos. Aecora does recall a path near the end of the valley associated with the name “Vordakai”. This path is known as Stravos komn Vordakai, which piques the party’s interest. She also seems to know nothing about the things seen by Varelyn’s scrying attempts.
They are invited to spend the night in peace, and Aecroa sends her handlers away to prepare a place for them. After they are gone, she speaks in private to the party, expressing concern she did not want to reveal to outsiders in front of the other centaurs, as they like to keep their troubles amongst themselves. Her daughter,Xamanthe, had been asking about the valley, and Aecora simply told her it was forbidden, but her daughter has disappeared, and she fears that the reckless youth has gone to explore Olah-Kakanket on her own, and asks the party to keep an eye out for her and send her daughter back if found.
Lamashan 24, 4714
They spend the night, isolated from the barely hospitable centaur, and rest easily. The next morning, Aecora directs them south and west to Olah-Kakanket. The party departs with little fanfare, traveling in the prescribed direction. Some time later, a glitter is spotted in the distance. As they approach, they see the bones of a colossal crag linnorm, surrounded by the bones and carcasses of many many mastodon. The glitter they saw was the plethora of ivory from the plethora of mastadon tusks littering the ground. The trove of ivory is so great as to constitute a significant financial boon for their kingdom if recovered.
A look at the area shows a path winding in and out through the bones and head of the linnorm. Along its sides are piles of bones, and a few old cairns. The party notices that one of the piles of bones appears to be a pit trap. Bei Lin carefully sets off the trap to look into the hole, seeing it filled with bones, and a large number of dead insect husks. Gregor also investigates, and is able to identify the dried husks as flesh eating worms.
The party proceeds into the valley’s entrance, keeping to the path. Near the head of the linnorm, they find a huge, rotting mastodon corpse, less decayed than most of the other bones they have seen, but appearing to be quite dead. The party approaches to pass, when the large corpse springs to life. Simultaneously, the ground erupts around the group and two more massive, undead mastadons burrow up from below to surround the party. Before the party can recover from the initial shock, all three “Ghoul-adons” spring to attack.
The party is unable to prepare themselves before the initial attack, although Penelope manages to summon a holy lance made of light, while Neilis takes to the air, and Gregor girds himself with a Barkskin spell. The massive beasts swing at Bei Lin, Alex, and Varelyn’s horse with their massive tusks, flinging them into the nearby piles of bones, quickly revealed to be pits filled with live, flesh eating worms that immediately begin to consume the hapless party members. Alex starts to climb out but fails, so he instead drops an alchemist’s fire into the pit and setting the worms aflame. Bei Lin manages to use her speed and strength to exit the pit quickly while Varelyn is thrown to the ground outside of the pit while her mount screams in pain within. Neilis uses his height advantage to scope out the battle, and casts an Ice Storm over one of the risen ghouladons. Penelope attempts to charge at the lead Ghouladon, who had just sent Bei Lin flying into a pit, but the creatures hide was too thick, and Penelope’s attack was rendered ineffective. After knocking Alex into a pit, the rear ghouladon burrows into the ground, temporarily vanishing from sight.
Gregor initally heads over to attack the ghouladon at the rear of the group but instead moves to help Alex out of the hole. He uses a healing spell intending to use to harm the undead beast instead on Alex to cure the luckless elf’s wounds. Alex uses the oppotunity to lose a few arrows at one of them, while Neilis summons elementals to surround their foe. Bei Lin manages to land a sword and nunchaku hit on the beast before it strikes her solidly leaving her paralyzed. The lead Ghouladon, actually a Ghastadon, attacks Penelope’s horse, nearly knocking it into the pit, but Penelope lands on her feet, and calls to Iomedae, sending out a burst of holy energy, damaging two of the Ghouladons even as it manages to also paralyze her horse. Neilis finishes off the wounded Ghouladon with a lightning Bolt, exploding it over the elementals and Bei Lin. Gregor rides to rejoin the group as the battle continues…