The Rise of Sellenmar

VV23 New Companions
Varnhold Vanishing

Neth 1, 4714

After the debacle with the piscodaemon, the party approaches the door Neilis discovered at the end of the hall, finding it barred. Carefully, they removed the bar, managing to do so with minimal noise, and pened the door into the room beyond. This new room had two distinctive features. A large column dominated the center, while the walls were lined with sturdy, steel manacles. Behind the pillar, they discovered a young female centaur and a large armored Tian man, alive, but unable to move and posed in awkward battle stances. The lumpy and dried remants of a thick brown substance were caked to their chins and chests.

After ensuring the room was safe, the party used Gordrang, the enchanted spear, to remove the paralysis spell from both beings. After inital confusion, everyone calmed down, and told their story. The young centaur introduced herself as Xamanthe, the daughter of Aecora the party had been seeking. She recalled her tale to the party, although she has only flashes of memory. After she was defeated by the dread zombie cylcops gaurdians at the mouth of the tomb she was imprisoned in this foul dungeon periodically visited by other undead cyclops who brought her a foul tasting brown gruel. She has endured pain-filled nightmares and a growing sense of despair. She does say that she has a particularly disturbing memory of a nearly skeletal cyclops with a glowing gem wedged in his otherwise-empty eye socket, who whispered the following to her at some point during her ordeal. “You should be honored to be the guest of ”/campaigns/the-rise-of-sellenmar/characters/vordakai-3" class=“wiki-content-link”>Vordakai, beastwoman. I shall return once your fear and dread drive all semblance of will and self from your mind, at which point you will thank me for these gifts of pain." Xamanthe is relatively certain this hateful creature is the one who paralyzed her, but she knows littl more apart from the fact that the name the creature claimed is the same as one used by her tribe as a sort of ancestral, legendary boogeyman.

The man introduced himself as Shiba Eiji, a ronin samurai from Tian Xia, who came to Brevoy to regain his lost honor, though on a mission to investigate this ruin, he was captured and similarly paralyzed.

The party provides the new comers with weapons and decides to check for a way out. Backtracking to the stone golem room, a ceustodaemon teleported in and moved to attack. The party rushed into melee range, and despite taking a heavy hit from the daemon’s fire breath, Gregor slew it with a savage blow from his axe. Moving on, the party made it back to the flooded room, finding it still flooded and impassable.

After another dead end and more pondering, they decided to explore the last door in the central crypt where they had encountered the soul eaters. The entered, finding a unworked winding stone hallway, leading eventually to a foul smelling, stalagtite filled cavern dominatd by a large pool of burning pitch almost entirely covering the entire floor. Pillars set in a ledge near the cavern entrance look as of they might have once housed a bridge. A similar set of pillars was observed on a ledge directly across the burning lake of tar. A stone door could be seen on the opposite ledge.

Entering the room proved quickly became dangerous, the smell of the burning pitch causing several of the party to become nauseous. Retreating back to the hall, the party devised a plan to try to get ropes across the chasm and form a makeshift bridge. However, as soon as they set their plan in motion they are ambushed by a flying corpse wearing the tattered red robes of a wizard. A wave of nausea incapcitates half the group, as the first salvo of the dread zombie wizard’s spells washes over them.

Caught out in the open in a tightly packed formation, the wizard ensnares them with a forest of summoned black tentacles followed by a storm of blinding dust and a scorching fireball. The party fights back against the highly manueverable flying opponent, with limited success. Varelyn barely manages to survive this onslaught and Gregor is eventually able to destroy the creature with his own offensive magic. Despite their victory, the strangling forest of black tenactles persits, threatening to slay Eiji and the wizard Varelyn. Eiji, with assistance from others, manages to somehow rescue the wizard, barely keeping her alive until the spell fades.

After the rough battles, the party decides to rest, regroup and deliberate on how to handle the rest of this very dangerous section of the dungeon.

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VV22 A Crushing Death
Varnhold Vanishing

Neth 1, 4714

As the party came down from Varelyn’s Rope Trick, they were finally rejoined by Alexander. Further examination of their surroundings revealed a door hidden behind the cyclopean statue at one end of the room. After some work, the party gained access to the door, entering a chamber. At the far end of the chamber was a large and intricate carving of a stylized eye similar to what they had seen on other doors of the tomb, but making them seem crude scratches by comparison. On a whim, Alexander tried placing the ruby from the clay golem in the eye, but it fell out, seeming to not be a fit.

Seeing nothing else of interest, the party opened the other door, revealing a room filled with very vivid frescoes of early Cyclopean life, the colors brighter than expected. After more time investigating, the party decided to head back to the slate-floored altar room for further exploration.

Further inspection of the altars and carvings in the room revealed a bas relief of a dark, obsidian river and the god Charon, leading to the door at the north end of the room between the two altars. The party tried lighting the braziers at each altar, to no effect. Once done, Bei Lin opened the door to move beyond, thinking it untrapped. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a false assumption. As the door opened, the braziers snuffed out and everyone in the room was blasted with a wave of cold, stygian fire. Shaking it off, the party moved into the corridor and small side room beyond. To the left, the party could see a stone door leading to a short corridor and an ascending staircase. To the right, the corridor opened into a small rectangular room crudely carved from the rock. Further down the corridor was another room of unworked stone, a stark difference to the rest of this tomb with it’s detailed wall carvings and bas reliefs. Within this room were arches and pillars going up to the ceiling. As the party entered, a hideous beast closely resembling a cross between a lobster, squid, and humanoid appeared in a cloud of sulfurous smoke. Using an invasive form of telepathy, the creature demanded “in whose name they have trespassed”. Apparantly giving the wrong answer, the beast, which was later determined to be a piscodaemon, attacked.

This formidable foe hit with cruel efficiency, severely wounding Alex and weakening him with a powerful poison. The party quickly retaliated, finding many of their weapons almost useless against this beast, though magic and anything axiomatically aligned to the powers of good seemed to be effective. As well, the piscodaemon had a penchant for teleporting around the room making it difficult to surround. After Bei Lin took a hard, debilitating hit, and the party was massed in one room, the creature teleported into an adjacent room and immediately filled it with a thick, stinking cloud. The party attempted to either lure the creature out, or slay it from it’s hiding spot. After several failed attempts to lure the beast out into the open, Neilus attempted to provoke a confrontation by forcibly teleporting Bei Lin and himself, via a Dimension Dooring into the clouded room. Bei Lin was caught unprepared for this sudden shift in tactics.

Unfortunately, the noxious fumes instantly sickened them both, spoiling their attempts to harm the creature. Neilus managed to stagger out into clearer air beyond, by way of a tunnel leading deeper into the tomb to another door, while Bei Lin moved about the walls, trying to find her way back to the rest of the party. Her efforts were rewarded and she found the way back to her friends. Unfortunately, as she stepped out of the room into the clear air, the piscodaemon ambushed her, viciously attacking with it’s claws. The daemon managed to catch Bei Lin in one of its enormous claws crushing her head like an over ripe melon and killing her instantly. However, the combined sound of the creature’s attack and the hollow squelch of Bei Lin’s head caving in revealed the beast’s location to Gregor, who stepped up and slew the vile creature with a mighty blow from his axe.

As the fumes cleared, the group re-entered the room, reclaiming Bei Lin’s body and healing their wounds before investigating the tunnel and the door beyond. Varelyn quickly noticed that the door was VERY familiar. In fact, it appeared to be the one she had seen when scrying for Xamanthe. Not sure what else they might find behind the door, the party prepared to press on.

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VV21 A Feast of Souls
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 28, 4714

Despite the demise of their friend Penelope, the party decided to press on, leaving Alex behind to mourn over the loss of the mighty paladin. The portal previously hidden by the statue revealed another spiraling set of stairs ascending upwards, eventually opening into a worked stone hall, the walls covered in the same sort of historical reliefs the party had been seeing. At the end of this hall, a pair of doors emblazoned with, again, the same eye symbol stood before them.

After assuring the door safe and unlocked, the party entered a new chamber. Within, three altars could be seen, one at the south end, recessed in a alcove, and two at the opposite end, tucked into the corners. As well, while half of the floor was the granite stone they had seen, past a row of pillars, the floor was slate, though inspection revealed nothing out of the ordinary. An inspection of the altars revealed them to look fairly ordinary, each having a lamp, though the two in the corners also had stone cups with curious brownish red stains. The lamps in the corner altars were also filled while the one in the alcove was not. Two more sets of doors led out from the room, one between the two altars, and the other across from the door the party had entered, Both seemed to be unlocked and un-trapped, leaving the party to decide to head through the door opposite of the entrance. After a turn and a descent down a short flight of stairs, the tunnel stretched a long ways diagonally before ending in a large stone door, emblazoned with the same eye motif.

Bei Lin, after securing the door, opened it to see a pair of soul eaters hovering within. They did not move to attack or even seem to notice the monk, so she shut the door and the party prepared to face the pair of formidable foes. Once prepared, Bei Lin moved to rush into the room and ambush the creatures, only to be thwarted by their quick speed as they darted at her, slashing away at her health and wisdom before flying away and up out of reach. The party employed various methods to attack, Varelyn casting magic missile and other spells, Neilus firing a lightning bolts and enlarging Bei Lin, and Gregor hitting with his axe and healing as he was able. Bei Lin, having issues reaching them even with a running leap, was eventually enchanted with the gift of flight, allowing her to hover over the rest of the party and dispatch the soul eaters as they dove in to attack.

The party searched the room, seeing it to be a mausoleum, containing naught but empty stalls for holding mortal remains. In one, a secret door was found, revealing a small room containing a statue along the opposite wall, a stone bench covered in funerary implements and another locked door. Wary from their recent battle, the party decided to try to rest in the main room. However, during third watch, Bei Lin heard heavy footsteps and a sniffing sound outside of the stone door they entered earlier. Waking Neilus and Gregor, who were fully rested the three prepared for the worst. Expecting an attack from the door, they were all surprised as a daemonic cross between a bull and a bear popped up into the room behind them, catching most of them with his fiery breath weapon. After the daemon’s initial fiery assault, Varelyn woke and the party spread ranks to fight the beast, damaging it heavily before. Realizing it was about to be overrun, the creature cursed at them before disappearing into a dimensional rift that instantly closed behind him. Spurred by this event for a better hiding spot, the party retreated to within the secret room, using Varelyn’s rope trick spell to crawl into a more secure extra-dimensional space. While hiding out in the pocket dimension, Neilus spotted another daemonic bear creature as it briefly appeared in the room. Apparantly not detecting the party it stepped into a dimensional rift thus allowing all of the party to recover fully in preparation for what was to come ahead.

Neth 1, 4714

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VV20 A Depiction of Death
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 28th, 4714

The Founders are faced with a harrowing task, as not only was the room rapidly filling with water, but they were beset by a force zombie cyclops, a very irritated eel, and their only way out was blocked by a sturdy bronze portcullis. As Gregor and Bei Lin attempted to hack down the portcullis, the rest of the party worked to revive an unconsious and grievously wounded Varelyn while simultaneously dealing with the monstrous threats around them. By luck, the eel decided a zombie to be a more interesting target, leaving only 2 of the 3 zombies for the party to handle. Gregor knocked the gate free and the party fled, somehow managing to kill both the zombies in the process. The eel, having just triumphed over the third zombie turned its attention on the fleeing group only to be dispatched by Bei Lin as she helped cover Alex and Penelope’s retreat from the waterlogged room.

Once all were safe, and healed, the party ascended the spiraling staircase leading out and up from this area. At the top, a pair of bronze doors emblazoned with an all-seeing eye symbol worked into the metal blocked their path. After an inspection, it was discovered that the doors were unlocked and un-trapped, allowing the party to enter the chamber beyond.

Within, a long chamber spread before them, the walls flanked by large terra cotta statues of warrior cyclops. At the far side of the room, a fresh-looking clay statue of an emaciated, gaunt-looking cyclopes with a large red ruby set where the eye would be presided over the chamber. It’s clawlike left hand seemed to be stained an ominous red. Behind the statue was the outline of a portal,the way through completely blocked by the clay statue. On the wall above the statue, a triptych set in bas-relief showed three disturbing images: A group of angels being overrun by a host of daemons, a smaller group of captured angels being led to a tall, dark figure standing in a small riverboat, and finally a slain angel at the foot of that robed figure holding a bleeding heart aloft. The party thoroughly examined the room, detecting some magic on the statue with the ruby, but nothing else of interest.

Theorizing the statue might need a heart to be activated or moved, Bei Lin returned to the waterlogged room and cut one free from the eel. The first attempt to place the heart in the hand of the status was fruitless, as well dribbling blood onto the statue. Alex, Gregor, and Neilis stepped outside the room to investigate the eyes on the door, trying blood on them, eventually closing both doors.

As they did, the doors locked with a click, separating the party as a red light from the statue started scanning the room, moving over Bei Lin, Penelope, and Varelyn. It also raised the blood stained hand as if waiting for something. The group within the room searched as the ones outside tried to find a way in. Nothing was found aside from Penelope offering her blood to the hand to a very small reaction. Varelyn put up an illusory wall before the statue spoke something unintelligible aside from ‘Vordakai’, the light eventually dimming and the doors unlocking, allowing the party to reassemble. After more searching the party decided to shut the doors once more, activating the statue. Offering of the eel heart and more blood had no effect, and eventually the statue spoke again, it’s light fixating on Penelope before activating.

With Peneople and Bei Lin enlarged, the party attempted to attack the clay golem, discovering almost immediately that their physical attacks were less effective than they should have been and that it was impervious to magic. The clay golem relentlessly attacked Penelope, felling her in short order, and to the horror of the party, slaying her with a heart-rending coup de grace. Taking her heart, the golem moved beneath the triptych, ignoring the party as they continued to attack it. The golem offered the heart up as if in sacrafice opening the portal the moment it succumbed to the desparate attacks from the surviving party members. The large, ruby gemstone that had once been the creature’s eye clattered to the ground amid the chunks of shattered clay.

The party, grieving for the loss of their friend and companion Penelope, had to decide their next course of action; leave to try to restore life to their fallen comrade, or finish their exploration of this mysterious island.

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VV19 Trouble from the Depths
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 27, 4714

After felling the undead in the room, the party investigated the seemingly dead end. Initial searching found nothing out of the ordinary in the alcoves or around the biers. Eventually, Alex and Bei Lin, found a faint outline of a door behind the rear most bier. After a quick inspection, Alex managed to open the door, leading into a hallway of smoothed natural stone. Following the passage, the party finds the room opening into a large, dark, murky pool, with the faint sight of a tunnel across the water. Stairs descending into the water are spotted, and Bei Lin volunteers to follow them down after Alex and Varelyn are unable to probe them further with rocks and a Light spells. While she delves the depths, Alex summons a hawk to take a lit pebble to the other side, though it fizzles half way across, dropping the pebble short, but showing a bit more of the tunnel.

Bei Lin follows the stairs as they descend and turn, eventually ending in a tunnel deep below the water. Before she can do much else, she feels water shift about her. She quickly surfaces, followed by an Elasmosaurus with fiery burning eyes. Bei Lin flees the water after a savage bite as Penelope gains Water Walking from Gregor and Alex is Vanished by Vareyln. Penelope strikes savagely at the beast, pursuing it from land and out onto the water as Varelyn and Neilus cast spells and summon creatures to attack the sinuous beast. Bei Lin and Alex attempt in vain to harm the beast with arrows as Gregor heals and buffs the party until Penelope fells the beats with a savage strike.

After defeating the elasmosaurus, the party decides to investigate the tunnel in the back of the cavern. The natural tunnel, worn smooth by centuries of use by the dinosaur leads to an exit outside of the stone tower in the lake. Deciding this tunnel to be safe, and tired from 2 hard battles, the party takes an uneventful rest.

Lamashan 28th

Upon waking, the party decides to investigate the underwater tunnel Bei Lin found the day before. She swims out out with Alex, carrying a long rope both for safety and to help lead the party through when an exit was found. 30 feet in, a set of stairs led up into a room filled with pottery. Using the Telepathic Link Gregor has cast, she alerted the party to the exit, with everyone following behind safely. The pottery was recognized to be relics from an ancient Casmaron Cyclops empire. The pottery, although ornate and finely crafted was mostly too large to take, but the party managed to find a couple of pieces that would fit in their bag of holding, knowing there was a collector of Iobarian artifacts waiting back in Restov. Another set of stairs in the side of the room led down into a dry tunnel.

Alex led the way, following the stairs down into a tunnel which turned. He noticed a portcullis hidden in the ceiling, though found no triggers. Two alcoves further in held status, but again, nothing out of the ordinary was found. Further in, the tunnel opened up to a room filled with 12 statues, and no visible exit. The party followed behind, investigating the tunnel and rooms, finding nothing exceptional until Bei Lin noticed a hidden door. Alex checked, and found a mechanism that he thought my affect the portcullis where they entered. He worked to disarm the trap, then opened the door, nothing seeming to happen, but revealing another portcullis behind the door, this one lowered.

As Bei Lin attempted to list if, a click sounded, and holes irised open in the ceiling releasing water into the room, As well, a grinding in the rear of the room sounded, walls opening and releasing more Cyclopean zombies. Bei and and Gregor started working on trying to lift the gate as the party turned to face the zombies. Varelyn managed to strike them with a fireball before being fells by a few savage blows. Penelope, Alex and Neilus began to assault the zombies as Gregor and Bei Lin still struggled with the gate. Giving up on trying to lift the gate, Gregor started striking it with his axe as the water rose about the party. In addition, a large and angry eel fells from above, adding yet another peril for the party to confront.

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VV18 A Burning Gaze
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 27, 4714

After a nights rest, only interrupted by a splashing in the river, the party wakes, and decides to brave the river once more. Proactively casting spells like Water Walking and Fly on those who needed them, the party manages to make the river trip without any difficulty.

They land on a small beach, finding an opening into a worked stone hallway within the limestone pillar towering over them. Cautiously entering, the party finds the hall filled with alcoves, including one with a broken amphora, gold and jewels spilled across the floor. Among them, a jade bracelet matching the drawings found in Ervil Pendrod’s Varnhold field office at the Waterhorse Inn and described in the journal of one of Maegar Varn’s lieutenants Willas Gundarson. None of these items was determined to have magical properties.

After gathering up the gold, the party proceeded onward, finding a rounded room, and another alcove behind a ruined wall. Upon entering, an undead cyclops staggered from the alcove, and quickly knocked Alexander unconscious. The party moved inward, fighting with blade and spell as another undead cyclops broke down another wall. As they were beset by these beasts, a third wall shattered, revealing a wispy undead with burning eyes later determined to be a Bodak.

While the cyclops started to fall easily, the bodak stared its dread gaze at the party, weakening them, to the point where the steadfast Bei Lin fell unconscious. With a mighty blow, however, Penelope felled the beast calling upon the power of Iomedae to aid her in a moment of need. Gregor healed Bei Lin and the rest of the group with a few more of his scrolls of Restoration. A search of the turned up nothing but a secret door leading to the west.

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VV17 I've got a Sinking Feeling
Varnhold Vanishing

The battle raged on as the group fought the Wyverns. Alex braced against the assault of one of the beasts, only to be severely poisoned by it, weakening steadily through the battle. Gregor, walking upon the water, managed to fell one Wyvern as Bei Lin grappled another, driving it into the water for a brief time. As this occurred, spells started occurring, not cast by the fleeing Varelyn, but by an apparently invisible Neilus, who managed to enlarge Bei Lin and summon some monsters before revealing himself with a lightning bolt. Using haste, and with the help of Neilus’s summoned monsters, Varelyn managed to escape to a safe distance and between his fire balls and another lightning bolt from Neilus, the Wyvern fell into the water and sank.

As this ended, Peneleope was still under the water, her exact location unknown. Vareyln and Gregor started to lower a rope with a Light enchanted mace into the depths as Bei Lin dove in with a light source to search. After a deep dive, Peneleope was found at the bottom of the lake, still alive but quickly running out of air. Grabbing hold, Bei Lin started to swim back to the surface, but much more slowly than before, following the rope up. Mere feet from the surface, Bei Lin’s breath failed her as she started to drown. Neilus, using his prehensile mustache, managed to cast Dimension Door on himself and Bei Lin, recovering her from the water just in time, as Penelope grabbed the rope and was hauled up by Gregor.

The group eventually reconvened on the shore, discussing plans and healing the effects of the poison on Alexander, who was near death. They were unsure if they had the strength and skill to make it to the pillar at the middle of the lake, weighing options of exploring lands outside of the area to gain strengths, but also worrying at the fate of the centaur. Using her scrying abilities, Varelyn attempted to discern the location of the centaur girl they searched for. His vision showed her weak and unbound, but alive, in some prison. She was fed by a cyclops as they watched, but was still in poor shape and abused.

The question of where to go still in the air, the party laid down to sleep for the night.

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VV16 Wizards, Wyverns, and Woe
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 25, 4714

After their near death encounter with the Great cyclops the group spends some time healing their wounded and speaking with the rescued dwarf. They discover that his name is Durkon and he was a member of Cullen Stonebeard’s expedition into the Tors. Shortly after leaving Restov, his band was ambushed by these savage cyclops, bent on taking captives to sacrafice to their living god. Badly wounded, and riddled with disease, he was not lucid enough to know how he came into the company of the Nymph. The dwarf informs the party that he wishes to return to his companions but thanks them profusely for their aid, indicating that he would be happy to repay the debt in the future. He leaves the group with a cryptic warning “Beware the spider bridge” before disappearing into the mountains.

Deciding to return to the lair of the Great Cyclops at a later date, the party sneaks past the side trail and continues onward along the mountain road. After some time, the road terminates into a hidden vale hemmed in by limestone bluffs. The Little Sellen river flows through the vale from east to west. To the west, a 100 ft waterfall cascades down into a small mountain lake before running off to the east. In the center of the lake, a 100 ft tall limestone mesa, stands like a lonely sentinel, marking what used to be the cliffs edge in an age long past. Small streamers of black smoke waft from hidden vents in the mesa. The party notices a familiar raven circling high above. With nightfall quickly approaching, the party decides to rest in wooded area near the riverbank. Storm clouds begin to roll in and a palpable sense of dread begins to build.

Lamashan 26, 4714

The party awakes an breaks camp just in time to be attacked by a pack of ravenous apocalypse zombies. Although the group makes short work of the wretched undead, the creatures exact a blood toll and wound the party far more than they desire. After a quick round of healing, the group approaches the river bank deploys the folding boat found in Willas Gundarson’s home in Varnhold. As soon as they enter the water the storm is unleashed and the group is immediately drenched in near freezing rain.

The group paddles out into the slow moving river toward the mesa. As they near the stone edifice, a storm cloud breaks away from the sky and dips down toward them, briefly taking the shape of an enormous, desicated giant with a single pulsating eye. Without warning, three wyverns burst from the mouth of the cloud shape and swoop down on the party snatching Bei Lin, Penelope, and Varelyn out of the boat, and dropping them into the churning river water. Bei-Lin swims to safety, and Varelyn feather falls to the waters surface. However, the metal-clad Penelope sinks like a stone.

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VV15 Mountain Wanderings
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 24, 4714

After the battle with the zombies at the top of the Veiled stairs, the party discovers the remains of an ancient road, winding through the mountains. After traveling a short distance, the party decides to rest and recover before moving deeper into the mountains. A familiar raven is spotted high overhead

Lamashan 25, 4714

The ancient road winds it’s way through the Tors for miles. After a few hours the party encounters a set of stone markers apparantly warning tresspassers to turn back. The marker stones are impossibly old and carved in the likenesses of the Four Horsemen reimagined as cyclopes. A titanic, cloven footprint is found in the mud near the statues. Scattered around the footprint are nearly a score of magical arrows and a quiver bearing signs of centaur craft work. Other tracks indicate recent foot traffic through the area.

Moving on from the marker stones, the party discovers a side trail leading to a hidden valley. The party hears frantic, feminine screams coming from somewhere in the valley and quickly rushes to aid the being in trouble. The group stumbles upon a band of savage cyclops sacraficing a woman in rags, and a dwarf to a much larger and more dangerous monster: A great cyclops. Using a lethal combination of spells and blades, the group quickly cuts down the brutal giants. However, they have great difficulty freeing the woman from her chains. Matters are complicated when it is discovered that the woman is a nymph, half mad with fear. She uses her powers to stun Alexander and quickly teleports to safety once her gag is removed. Unfortunately for the group, the great cyclops emerges from his cave at this time and begins to menace the nymph’s would-be rescuers. Penelope is nearly slain outright, and only through a great stroke of luck is the rest of group able to flee with their fallen comrade, and the dwarf before the great cyclopes fully recovers. The party retreats back down the ancient mountain road to rest and recover before moving on.

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VV13 Into the Valley of Death Rode the Six
Varnhold Vanishing

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…

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