The Rise of Sellenmar

VV12 Calling the Bluff
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 20

Instead of the Swordlord, the party found themselves facing a slight irate elven male, who quickly declared himself as Lord Neilus, sent by the Swordlords to aid them on their quest to determine the fate of Varnhold and it’s residents. Currently they are disappointed with our progress, and have sent him along to aid the party, as well as report back progress as needed. After brief introductions, he is brought up to speed on what we have seen and done, taking particular interest in the evidence discovered in Varnhold pointing to the Nomen centaurs. As well, he is able to narrow down where in the Nomen Heights the centaur camp might be located, estimating it to be near a location called the Blood Furrows, where the party fought the bulette. After business is concluded, the party dines with their new companion before resting for the night.

Lamashan 21

After spending some time purchasing a last few items and acquiring new steeds as needed, the party heads south and west back down in the direction of the Blood Furrows. On the way, they find a pair of odd sprialling structures consisting of small ziggurats connected by short walls. A few of the party members after some thought suspect it to be a centaur burial ground. Making use of his magic, Nielis takes to the sky, quickly spotting four Manticores resting within the ruins. The manticores also take notice of him, and leap into the air to attack.

Using his magic, Neilis puts one to sleep as the other 3 quickly rise high into the air, well out of melee range. Despite the set back, the party attacks skyward with magic and arrows, having some success in damaging the foes. Bei Lin takes on the sleeping manticore as Neilis manages to draw one down to the ground using a suggestion spell, opening him up to powerful strikes from Penelope and Gregor.

Soon, all four are slain, and the party carefully searches the grounds, takes especial care to not disturb the sacred ground of the centaurs. Among the remains, they manage to find a pouch filled with gold, and a handful of magical items, including a wand of Enlarge Person, potions of Haste, Gaseous Form and Draconic resistance, and scrolls of Spike Growth and Inflict serious wounds. After a bit more travel, Gregor summons his grove and the party rests through the night.

Lamashan 22

The party rises once more, spotting the raven for a moment before it is spooked off by a flight of giant eagles. A calm day of traveling proceeds, only seeing a few mastodon tracks before eventually camping again for the night, which again passes quietly.

Lamashan 23

A particularly cold day spurs Gregor to cast Endure Elements for the whole party. They then finish their trek to the Blood Furrows reaching it shortly before noon. As Gregor begins to recounts information about the terrain, a large contingent of 27 Nomens suddenly appear and approach. The party forms a line, Penelope requesting that no one take an offensive action until they are attacked. Bei Lin presents the manticore head, which causes the centaur forces to charge, shrilly screaming and waving weapons. As the party holds fast, Neilis manages to read the thoughts of the leader, identifying their actions as a bluff, and attempts to cow them by using a spectral voice to announce their intent to not cause harm and tell the Centaur to stop. They do, initially in a mocking manner, still highly distrustful even after Penelope explains the circumstances of the previous engagement with Centaur. Recalling information from their recent excursion to town, Alexander presents Skybolt, confirming his suspicions that this fine bow was indeed the one stolen from the Nomen. At this point, the centaurs attitude immediately shifts to a more accommodating demeanor. After more discussion, the Centaur agree to allow the party to meet with their leader, the Mother Moon.

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VV11 It's a Trap!(door spider)
Varnhold Vanishing

After taking a little longer than usual to rest and ensure everyone is sufficiently refreshed after their interrupted sleep, Varelyn makes an attempt to scry for Maegar Varn, since she had enough information to hopefully be successful in her attempt. The spell went off without an issues, but instead of seeing Varn, she only sees a dimly glowing, roiling cloud of white smoke on a field of translucent black. In addition, she hears naught but deafening silence. The party racks their knowledge, but has no clue why the scry has turn out like that, nor where Maegar might be based on this attempt.

After cleaning up camp, the party decides to head north to Restov in Brevoy to sell off some of the items they have gained since leaving Sellenmar, and figuring they would have better luck finding the rarer items they desired in the relative metropolis of Restov. Along the way, the path the party has been following snakes though a set of 8 mounds. Initial approaches of the area reveals little until Bei Lin spots a sparkle from a hidden door atop one of the hillocks. As Alexander sets foot on one of the mounds, trapdoor spiders spring from each mound, assaulting the party. Each member moves about the area, dealing with the spiders with axe, fist, arrow, sword, magics and in a few instances, hooves. The spiders are quickly vanquished with thankfully little damage to the party. A search of the doors in the mounds reveals about 80 square yards of spider’s silk, 950 gold, and a magical set of cloak and boots. Varelyn and Gregor quickly identify both as boots and cloak of Elvenkind. Penelope is given the boots, and Gregor the cloak as they helped them move more nimbly and quietly with their louder and heavier armor. The party traveles a bit further, and sleeps without incident until morning.

Lamashan 19

The next day was uneventful as they approached Brevoy, only spotting a set of Centaur tracks heading eastward. Nearing Brevoy as dark falls, the party decides to make camp, and sleep without disruption.

Lamashan 20

As they wake the next morning, Alex notices a raven watching them from near by. After some thought, he realizes this bird has followed them from Varnhold, and has been seemingly watching them, even during battles. After some planning, Bei Lin attempts to approach the bird, who is unfooled by her nearly blatant attempts to approach the bird, and flies to another spot near by. Alex, who was craftier, used the horses as a distraction to drop into the low grass and slowly approach the bird. Once within range, he popped up and tried to knock the bird unconscious with a blunted arrow. The shot struck true, but without a sound, the bird took flight heading to the southwest. Alex attempted two more shots as the bird sped off, one hitting solidly as the other fell short, but despite a small shake, the bird managed to escape their range.

The party broke camp and finished their trek to Brevoy. While Alex, Varelyn and Bei Lin went along to the market to sell the excess items they had gathered from their battles and pick up some new gear, Gregor and Penelope went to the home of their sponsor, Jamandi Aldori, one of Restov’s three citadels called The Willow. Recognized by the guards immediately, they are ushered in, informed that Jamandi was expecting them. They then find themselves waiting for an hour before a butler appears, apologizing that the First Swordlord is currently occupied and cannot meet with them today. He suggests that they find lodging, and quietly suggests a private inn called the Dancing Unicorn before bidding them a good day. As they leave and enter the crowds, Penelope and Gregor think back on the events, and noted how the butler had quietly but emphatically suggested the inn, as well as the long wait when they had been informed that the Swordlord had wished to meet with them and was expecting them. They figure that for some reason, Jamandi Aldori wished to meet with them at the Dancing Unicorn. Before this though, they head to gather some information.

They approach and enter a rowdy pub called the Bloody Manitcore, where much drinking and carousing is occurring. Gregor manages to hear word that the band of dwarves, led by a fierce looking dwarf by the name of Cullen Stonebeard, at the bar are on a quest to take on some large flying creature. After gaining the dwarves’ favor with offers of drink, he finds they are off to recover a Roc’s egg for a aspiring chef in Sellenmar who wishes to use it in an omelet. Penelope speaks with a local, hearing that someone from Sellenmar’s academy is looking for manticore quills for writing. As well, she hears a bit of speculation about the war between Culcheck Spriggans and Nomen Centaurs. It is said that the Spriggans stole a powerful, magical bow from the Nomen many years ago, initiating a war that has lasted nearly three decades. As well, it’s also speculated that the Spriggans are under the protection of some dark god, as there would be no way they could hold up against the Centaur otherwise.

After drinks and talking for Gregor and Penelope, and shopping for the others (and the discovery of someone seeking a large amount of Spidersilk by Varelyn), the group reconvenes and heads to the Dancing Unicorn, a place of quiet and decadence. The proprietor recognizes them and say there is a high ranking official expecting them, but wishes them to rest a bit first and clean themselves. After taking his advice, the group meets in the common room, taking in the relaxation as Gregor notices a man reading about Iobarian history. After some talk, the man introduces himself as Tamerak Elenark, a traveling scholar from Taldor. He notes that he is wishing to explore some Iobarian ruins in the the Nomen Heights. As well, Alexander and Gregor share the book of Iobarian prehistory they have found. After some time of this, they are called to meet with the official.

The enter the room, expecting Jamandi Aldori, but could not believe their eyes when they see that the official wanting to meet with them is someone else entirely.

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VV10 The Hunters and the Hunted
Varnhold Vanishing

Lamashan 18

The party decides to take time to explore the Dunsward and visit Nivakta’s Crossing to restock on supplies before taking a deeper exploration of the Dunsward. They revisit the torn earth, which they believe to be home to a Bulette. After fortifying themselves with magic, Bei Lin enters the field, trying to attract the creature by jumping and walking heavily on the ground. After several minutes and a deeper venture into the field with the party not far behind, the Bulette starts to show itself, a fin cutting through the earth. Alex and Bei Lin venture shots at the small target, with no luck. Expecting an attack from the creature, Bei Lin girds herself in time for the creature to attack, still taking a few hits. As Bei Lin trades a blow with the creature, the party closes in, making surprisingly quick work of the huge creature with Penelope landing the killing blow. A search of the field and creature yields nothing of value. With the aid of Gregor’s grove spell, the party rests out in the Dunsward again.

Near the end of his watch, Gregor hears noises out int he distance, recognizing it as giant speech, but unable to make out what is being said. As the noises close in, Gregor rouses Alex and Penelope. While helping investigate, Alex is struck by a bolt from afar, as a giant calls out “Hunt and kill!” Bei Lin is roused as the marauding creatures outside start attacking in force, deciding to take to a tree to get a better vantage point as bolts are rained upon Alex and Penelope. Varelyn awakens to Gregor kicking him awake as he moved to reach Ivan. Varelyn uses her magic to enchant one of Alex’s arrows. While the shot goes wild, the lit arrow lights up 3 cyclops carrying heavy crossbows and greataxes.

Alex and Varelyn start to attack from afar using arrows, both mundane and magical, and Gregor manages to land a Hold Person spell on the best lit of the 3. As well, Varelyn successfully hits the less well lit cyclops with a glitterdust spell, blinding them in time for Bei Lin to leap from the tree and land near the 2 now blind creatures, drawing a torch to light the area better. Penlope starts to prepare for battle by summoning her mount as Alex fells the held cyclops. The two blind ones attempt to flee into the darkness, but Bei Lin pursues, finding them 150 feet from the grove.

Alex begins taking shots from another direction than the prior 3 cyclops, prompting Gregor to venture into the dark, catching a glimpse of a 4th cyclops a short ways out, beginning to approach to attack. Alex follows Gregor out to confront the cyclops as Penelope continues to prepare to fight by mounting her steed, summoning a lance of pure light and leaving the grove. Finding herself out of spells, Varelyn lays down to begin resting once again in the grove. However, with the battle continuing to rage outside, rest does not come easy.

Soon aided by the light of Alex’s Ioun stone, Gregor and Alex start to work on taking down the 4th cyclops as Bei Lin trades blows with and eventually fells one of the 2 distant cyclops, just in time for Penelope to charge in and viciously strike the final cyclops with a mighty blow. Searching the bodies find some mundane weapons and armor, as well some gems. So that everyone can rest fully, Gregor takes advantage of only needing 2 hours of rest from his ring of sustenance, he rests then takes the rest of the nights watches in preparation for the continuation of their travels the next day.

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VV9 Battle on the Dunsward
Varnhold Vanishing

Morning of Lamashan 14:

The party manages to rest after the prior night’s battle, waking to the peculiar feeling that they are being watched, though none of them can pin the source. Digging through the scrolls obtained earlier, a scroll of Restoration is used on Varelyn, repairing the persistent damage done to her by the Soul Eater, but leaving her spells still expended from the night’s fight. Once prepared, the group heads to check out the pass to the north west, Alexander on Bandit, Penlope on her summoned mount Rapidash, Gregor and Varelyn on Ivan, and Bei Lin on foot.

After 5 hours and 12 miles, the group finds a fortified cottage and stone watch tower with a commanding view of both the Kamelands and the Dunsward. Being on foot and quiet, Bei Lin approaches and checked both structures. Like many of the homes in Varnhold, the cottage is empty, rotting food left about as if whoever lived there just upped and left without cleaning. As well, the watch tower was empty, and after a quick inspection of the house, Bei Lin calls the party up. They all take a moment to enter the watch tower, noting the exceptional range of view, and how defensible the position could be in the event of an attack from any angle. It seems a place like this might have been manned by 6-8 people, but again, no sign of recent activity was found within. The party decides to rest within the tower to allow Varelyn time to recover her spells.

The next day, they lead to head back out to Varnhold, the temperatures dipping colder, and finding most of the party unprepared. Gregor avoids the cold with a spell, Vareyln and Penelope manage to avoid feeling chilled, but Bei Lin and Alex start to feel the effects of the cold. Bei Lin manages to shake it and soon they return to Varnhold. Inspired by the cold, the party decides to search the town to scrounge up warmer clothes. By time they all have found appropriate gear, night has come again, and the party rests in the inn without incident.

Upon waking and preparing to head out on Lamashan 16th, the party finds hoof prints around Varnhold. Unsure of where they are from, but having a suspicion, the party follows the fairly clear tracks NE out into the Dunsward. The terrain quickly turns into flat, open plains. After a day of travel, they are still following tracks, but have not found the source. Gregor uses a new power of his to summon up a magical grove of trees for the party to rest in instead of camping in the open.

After another uneventful night, the party wakes with the dawn of Lamashan 17th. Managing to pick up on the tracks again, the party follows them until they come to an area of gouged and torn up land, which the tracks avoid with a circuitous path. Off in the distance, the party can see the probable source of tracks off in the distance. Crossing the torn earth could allow them to catch up to the group quickly, but Gregor recognizes the tell-tale signs indicating that the area is likely home to a bulette, a strong earth creature. The party decided to take the safe route around the torn earth.

Eventually, the party finds a spot where the tracks diverge, going in several directions. The party decided to pursue the eastern set. After following them a ways, Bei Lin spots movement behind them, realizing that a war band of 9 centaurs was quickly intercepting the group. As they turn to face the centaurs, the party can see 3 are male, carrying bows, and the other 6 are female, armed with lances, all of them wearing well-crafted lamellar leather armor with visorless, full helms. One of the females, adorned and red, lead the Nomen warband. With the aid of Varelyn’s Tongues spell, Penelope calls out a message to the Centaurs, trying to start a talk. Instead, the centaurs charge and start surrounding the group. After trading a few shots, including Bei Lin landing a hit on the leader with the heavy crossbow and Alex felling one of the archers with a skillful shot from Skybolt, the centaurs cease circling and begin to charge in.

Varelyn gives the party the benefit of haste, and after a surprisingly quick battle, 3 centaur are felled, 3 unconscious, and 3 turn tail and run, including the leader. Penelope tells the party to let them flee, as they are defeated and done fighting. After hobbling the 3 unconscious centaurs, they are roused, and Penelope attempts to calm the remaining female centaur, with little luck. The centaur is highly resistant and refuses to parley with Penelope, who inadvertently insults the centaurs. The group decided to take their weapons as a sign of defeat, giving one last entreaty to speak with their leaders, before untying the centaur and letting them leave peacefully. The party now wonders what step to takes next, still unsure if and how the Nomen Centaurs are connected to the events at Varnhold.

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VV8 Death in the Corral
Varnhold Vanishing

The party takes some time to ponder over the recently acquired information. They still have no idea where the residents of Varnhold have gotten off to, and in such a sudden manner, no less. Clues they have found include the name of a centaur tribe, the Nomen, as well as a few books on centaurs, making them wonder about their potential involvement. As well, there is mention of points of interest in the Tors of Levenies and some water feature in the mountains. Looking at a map, the party first decides to investigate a nearby pass before heading east to the Dunsward in search of the aggressive and territorial Nomen tribe.

Before all of this, the group decides to finish clearing the barn of rats, easily accomplished using Bei Lin as a lure to bring the rats out into the day. She dispatches another swarm while Varelyn handily finishes off the rest with a timely burning hands spell. A thorough search of the barn finds only one item of interest, sword of the missing Kesten Garress. It is not apparent why this fine sword was left abandoned in such a manner.

Seeing the need to rest for the night, the group returns to the inn, leaving the horses safely in the stables and corral. The majority of the first two watches passes without issue, when Alexander is startled by a sudden screaming from upstairs. Bei Lin is also awakened by the sound, and both find it coming from Gregor’s room, and Gregor himself. He is screaming in his sleep. Irritated at being woken, Bei Lin nudges and eventually slaps Gregor in an attempt to rouse him from whatever is making him yell. It rouses him enough to yell out Ivan’s name, causing Alex to begin to dash out towards the stables. Penelope and Varelyn finally roused, Penelope quickly following Alex, and Bei Lin suggesting Varelyn stay with Gregor for the time being.

Quickly Bei Lin, Penelope and Gregor make their way to the barn, noticing some odd smoke as they approach, and hearing the horses screaming, and soon seeing them running about like mad. Bei Lin moves to the fence as Alexander checks inside the stables, attempting to call her horse Surly to no avail. It never arrives, and she manages to notice that Surly is not one of the running horses, but has no time to think on it as she narrowly notices and dodges a shadowy creature barreling past her.

Meanwhile, Varelyn notices that Gregor is enchanted somehow, but fails to release him from the spell, and can tell little of it besides the fact that is an enchantment. Suddenly, Gregor rouses, and warns Varelyn to run, just before the shadowy creature bursts through a window, attacking Varelyn. Calling on her knowledge of all things planar, the wizard notices this is a Soul Eater, an assassin from the plane of Abaddon and pointed at a single victim. It is also able to find its target unerringly, and can kill them quickly. Varelyn attempts to hide and dodge from it, eventually making use of the vanish spell to cause the creature to have to blinding guess his exact position, enabling him to be missed.

Able to see the creature headed back to the Inn, Bei Lin summons great speed, reaching the inn rapidly, with Alexander and Penelope moving as quickly behind as they can manage, including Alexander tweaking his ankle on the way. Bei Lin makes it first up to the upper floor where the sound of broken glass can be heard, but sees no one, though Varelyn surprises her by speaking from behind after moving invisibly closer. Quickly after, the soul eater appears again, missing Varelyn. Penelope joins them as Varelyn prepares a spell and Bei Lin a strike. The soul eater, on missing Varelyn, takes a shot of scorching ray before retreating, and on his next pass at Varelyn is blinded and covered in glitterdust. The group attempts to ambush it, with little luck, though Penelope manages to land a solid hit as is passes by. It tries to swipe with some success at Varelyn, before the group hears the horses in a frenzy outside once again.

The whole group makes their way over, Penelope lighting the night with her new found Lance of Light. Suddenly, Varelyn is attacked from above, but anticipating the action, fires a Fireball upwards, exploding the Soul Eater into a miasma of smoldering smoke. An investigation of the corral finds 4 of the party’s horses dead, leaving only Ivan and Bandit alive. The party takes a moment to mourn and decide to how handle the carrying of loot, before heading back to the inn to hopefully finish resting in peace.

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VV7 The Demise of the Chull
Varnhold Vanishing

Date: Lamashan 12 and 13, 4714

Leaving the smoldering remains of the fort, our heroes continue on their exploration of Varnhold. They venture to a house built into a wall. Inside Bei Lin and Alexander find a curious object that appears to somehow be folded, and a journal written in Skald, including a ward against bad luck. Deciding it better to try outside, Alexander attempts to work the strange object to little success, but Varelyn is able to identify it as a folding boat, and open finally unfolding it, noticed is it used, but still quite usable.

Next, the group ventures to a barn, and Bei Lin is sent in to scout first, since she is the most likely to make it out unscathed. Inside she find grain, barley, and several large swarms of rats. Despite being crawled over, Bei Lin easily escapes with the rats in tow for the party to handle. Seeing a clear path, Varelyn fires a river of wind into the swarms, knocking 2 away easily. Two more come after Bei Lin, and with help from the group, she dispatched both. Two more retreat, and the party decides to let them be for the time.

A small cottage is found further along. Strewn about the yard are children’s toys, and along with more toys inside, is a large loom inside, indicating the residence as one of a weaver. As well, a hungry cat is inside, which Gregor easily charms with charm animal. Inspection shows the cat wearing a simple collar with a wooden tag reading “Dragon”. This calico cat has a gregarious personality and is quite talkative.

The next location investigated was a church, where the party found a large number of magical scrolls. An investigation of the graveyard show the most recent death, Andrisha the potter, a little over a month ago.

Going back through the town, the party investigated the locked box at the brewery again, and with luck, unlocked it, finding the Cheerful Delver’s Stout recipe and gold. After much difficulty, Alexander manages to translate the Skald book, finding it to be a journal of Willas Gundarson’s travels, with the most recent entry being two weeks before the rain of frogs back in Sellenmar, but it was a decidedly average report. The materials seemed to hint that there may be something of interest near some local water features, but details are vague.

After a night’s rest, the party decides that the Chuul in the river needs to be evicted. Girded to the teeth with spells and potions, the party takes position on the shore, and atop the water, thanks to Gregor’s water walk spell, and attempt to lure the Chuul out. At first it seems reluctant, but eventually ventures a grab at Penelope. A few people get hits on the exposed claw, but finding itself unable to grasp Penelope, it attempts to flee, staying near the surface. Bei Lin manages to grab and hold it in place, allowing the team to land the final blows.

Bolstered by their efforts, the group moves from the shore, deciding where to explore next.

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VV6 Ascending Heroes, Descending Fire
Varnhold Vanishing

Date: Lamashan 12

As we start anew, our Heroes are stuck outside of the blockhouse, the door inside barred, and the occasional bolt still flying down from above. Varelyn took advantage of her gaseous form to fly up and peer through the murder holes to spot the spriggans firing at them from above, and then enter the building to scout from within, taking advantage of her invulnerability. Meanwhile, Penelope and Gregor started working on ‘unlocking’ the door by means of sword and axe, though the sturdy door worked at resisting their efforts. Alexander decided to take another approach, and used his grappling hook to make his way to the roof. He encountered another spriggan up top, and during their struggle, the spriggan knocked over a barrel of oil and set it and the roof aflame.

About this time, Penelope and Gregor made it inside the building and start working their way through the hostile spriggans, slowly ascending the building. The spriggans retreat, and the survivors eventually make it up atop the house, surprised to see the fire roaring already, despite Alexander’s attempts to quell the flames. After a short encounter with Alexander, who absconded off the roof, the spriggans grow and drop off the roof to outside the buildings, keeping their eyes and attacks aimed at the heroes within. Varelyn eventually re-solidifies and rejoins the group. After a few mildly successful attempts to shoot out at the spriggans, the group decided to head outside as the roof is consumed and the fire ventures downwards. Penelope, Gregor and Alexander head outside to work on the spriggans, while Varelyn takes a detour to loot the blockhouse armory, taking time to pick out the most valuable of items and stow them in her bag of holding.

Once outside, a misstep drops Penelope into the same spike trap that caught Varelyn, and after a few mishaps, is hauled out with Gregor and Varelyn’s aid. Reunited, our heroes finally turn their full attention to the surviving spriggans, including Agai the Culcheck chiefain, and after a long and hard battle, leave nothing but corpses in their wake. Time is taken to search the bodies of their enemies, finding a decent amount of gold, gems and valuable items, though some seem to very likely belong to the people of Varnhold. The blockhouse and a neighboring building are eventually consumed by flames, leaving our heroes no choice to abandon the fortress and return to Bei Lin and their horses, all feeling stronger and more experienced for the effort.

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VV5 Spriggans and Crossbows and Pit Traps (Oh My!)
Varnhold Vanishing

The following events occur on the evening of Lamashan 11 and the morning of Lamashan 12.

After driving off the strange river beast, the group decided to bed down in the stables that night to keep an eye on the horses in case the spriggans they suspected were about decided to make mischief. The night passed uneventfully, but upon waking, the group found the doors of the stables locked from the outside. Alexander managed to slip out through a loft window, and pick the lock from the outside.

Assessing their options, the group decided to head straight to the fort they had seen looming over the town. As they got to the edge, they decided Bei Lin should stay back with the horses and while her sight was improving, she was still unable to see. Alexander ran towards the fort, drawing fire from up high. The rest of the group followed as Alexander started to peer over the walls, seeing a spriggan and several wolves within. As the rest of the group caught up with Alexander, he was spotted. With some skill and luck, he managed to hop the wall and open the gate for the rest of the party.

As they fought, a few shots were coming from some arrow loops up high, including several eerily accurate shots. Despite this, Varelyn managed to take out all of the wolves with an impressive fireball, and Penelope managed to take out the spriggan as 3 more approached, 2 of them eventually slain by Penelope and the final by Gregor’s axe.

As foul luck would have it, Varelyn managed to find a portion of another spike trap, but managed to stay safe, but not before drawing the ire of whoever was firing from above. To avouid this, she shifted into a gaseous form and hid in the spike trap for the time being.

With all of the visible and easily accesses enemies dispatched, our heroes begin their ascent up to confront those who have been firing at them from above.

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VV4 A Mysterious Discovery
Varnhold Vanishing

The following events occurred over the evening of Lamashan 10 and the morning of Lamashan 11, 4714

After discovering the word NOMEN hastily carved into the front door of the Waterhorse, the group entered the establishment to an unusual and grisly scene. A giant sized spriggan was found standing silent and perfectly still, facing a paper-strewn table in the corner of the common room, one hand clutching a book. The back of the spriggans skull was a shattered mass of blood an bone, though his face betrayed no notice of this mortal wound. And most strangely, a shimmering nimbus of amber surrounded the creature’s unmoving form.

The group commenced a search of this make-shift office and its strange occupant and discovered several items of note. Among the books laying about were titles including Secrets of the Rahalka Mounds by Ernst Gavinport (held by the Spriggan), Iobarian Prehistory, The Centaur Skyles of Central Casmaron, and The Untold Heritage of the Taldan Armies of Exploration. In addition, an incomplete ethnography of the indigenous tribes of the Iobarian steppes, written in the hand of Ervil Pendrod, in which the professor speculates that a local tribe called the Nomens is an offshoot of the greater Rashalka population that broke away and relocated to the area of Varnhold at some time in the distant past. Also, mixed in with the books are a number of charcoal sketches of a heavy jade bracelet bearing peculiar markings that Maestro Pendrod attibutes to the pre-migration Nomen centaurs. Finally, at the bottom of the stack sits a letter dated Erastus 7 from Maegar Varn and addressed to Maestro Pendrod. This letter describes Willas Gundarson’s discovery of a “jade bracelet” on the banks of a “river of local provenance” and requests Pendrod’s presence for further study of the artifact. The bracelet itself, was nowhere to be found.

A search of the rooms revealed that only one room was inhabited at the time of the vanishing, presumably that of Maestro Pendrod. In addition to a few personal effects, they find a masterwork viola and a chest of reference books. The chest contains mostly books less relevant to Pendrod’s current work, but the party also discovers a centuries old geography tome by Carmyn e’Brothasa, chronicler of Taldor’s Third Army of Exploration into the north. A marked passage reads:

And so it was, high upon the Torres and well above the Vale’s Stairs, where rises from the high water a stony isle of dire report. Known as No Man’s Island to those do live thereabout, some legend of its name doth come down through the locals. For they speak of a guardian that doth destroy all who would set foot upon its accursed shores. They did name no fewer than a twelvecount of their hero-knights who had left their bones upon its rocky shores over the years after having tested their mettle against its dread warden, ’til none would any longer go there for fear of its hidden terrors. And the name of this terror was given unto this Island.

Pendrod’s own handwriting in the margin of the text contains a simple but strange note:
“Vordakai? Perhaps a Nomen Centaur god or a pre-Earthfall Iobarian demi-god?”

The book does not provide a location of the semi-mythical island. After these discoveries, the party decides to make camp in the inn for the night. During Alexander’s watch, the elf heard footsteps prowling around the front porch of the inn. Going downstairs to investigate, Alexander carefully peered through the wall of illusion set by Varelyn to disguise their presence. Standing in the shadowy door frame, he noticed a pair of beady little eyes attached to a smallish, vaguely humanoid form staring right back at him. Startled, the creature dashed off into the night.

The next day the party searched for signs of their late night prowler and discovered several sets of similar footprints of varying degrees of freshness leading to and from deeper in town. Then, the group proceeded to search the shops of a tailor and a potter. Unlike the buildings on the opposite side of the ford, these were thoroughly ransacked and vandalized. However, some treasure that once belonged to the Varnhold potter was discovered.

Looking for a place to properly stable their horses, the party approached a building that looked like a combination of a blacksmith and livery with a sizable fenced in yard. However, they quickly noticed that the yard was filled with the corpses of the horses and other livestock that had starved to death as a result of having been trapped within the fence. Hundreds of ravens and crows were feasting on the remains of the unfortunate animals and were none too friendly. The approach of the party whipped the occupants of the smithy into a murderous frenzy, and four swarms of crows descended on the party. The party stood there ground and fought the creatures valiantly with sword and spell. Varelyn lobbed fireballs into the swirling mass of bird-flesh, while Penelope, Gregor, and Alexander met them with head-on with sword and axe. Perhaps the most spectacular performance in the battle went to Bei Lin, who single-handedly dispersed two of the swarms in a flurry of fists and feet. However, not before she was blinded by the razor sharp talons of a lucky raven. When and if her eyesight will return is in the hands of the gods. After the dispersal of the crows, the group set about disposing of the rotting animal corpses by constructing a pyre in the yard.

That evening, the group decided that they could attempt another crossing of the ford to bring their horses to the blacksmith. Although, Bei Lin would be of no use if the chitinous monstrosity living in the river decided to attack, the group devised a plan. After making preparations, the able-bodied party members carefully began the process of ferrying the horses across the ford. Predictably, the creature attacked and nearly dragged a paralyzed Ivan (Gregor’s faithful horse and companion), beneath the murky waters of the Kiravoy. Luckily, the party managed to drive the creature away with a combination of steel, spell, and luck. After the battle, Gregor was able to revive the almost mortally wounded horse and the party breathed a sigh of relief while simultaneously beginning preparations with their next encounter with the fiendish creature lurking in the waters of Varnhold.

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VV3 An Empty Town
Varnhold Vanishing

The following events occurred on the afternoon of Lamashan 10, 4714.

The Founders have reached Varnhold only to find it inexplicably deserted. After spending a few hours observing the town from a nearby hillside, the group notices that nothing but ravens seem to be moving amongst the town.

On the way in, the first building they encounter seems to be a hogkeepers farmstead with a strange, almost transparent black cloud hovering inside the corral. Initially, thinking that the corral would be a good location to tie off the horses, the party quickly realizes that the thin black cloud was instead a large mass of flies buzzing over a multitude of feral hog corpses. After disturbing his foul feast Gregor and Alexander manage to invoke the ire of a dire boar. After the the initial charge of the ferocious beast, the the pair manage to quickly dispatch the beast. A quick search of the premises reveals that the missing hog farmer is a filthy housekeeper.

Over the next few hours, the group searched every building north of the Kiravoy river. All of the buildings were completely deserted with no signs of struggle nor any sign of a sudden and chaotic evacuation. In the farmhouses, tables are set for a meal and in the workshops, tools are left laying as if their owners had just stepped out for a few moments. It is as if the whole town decided to drop what they were doing and leave. At the village tannery, they discover a several centaur hides curing on frames in the yard. Judging by their condition, these centaur hides have been sitting out for at least a month or two. At the village brewery, the party discovers a strongbox under the floor by one of the brewing vats. They were unable to pick the lock to the box, so it was replaced for sometime later.

After completing the search of the brewery, the group decides it’s time to ford the river and explore the other side of the town. One by one, the group crosses the ford which only gets to a depth of about 4 feet in the center. Alexander is the last one to cross and as he gets to the middle of the ford he notices what looks like an enormous crab lurking about 20 or 30 feet to his left. Overcome with curiosity, the elf cautiously approaches with his rapier at the ready. Unfortunately, as he approached, a large, armored, lobster-like creature, with nasty-looking pincers and a mass of wriggling tentacles where its mouth should have been, rose up and advanced on the startled elf. The party sprung into action, and after a tense few seconds, in which Bei-Lin was nearly killed, they managed to escape the creature, and cross the ford. However, this fearsome beast still lurks somewhere in the river and will most likely trouble the group again if they try to cross the ford.

Immediately upon crossing the ford, Varelyn discovers a spiked pit trap the hard way, nearly being impaled at the bottom of the cunningly hidden hole. Why would the people of Varnhold have concealed pit traps in the middle of town, where any unknowing traveler could easily stumble into? Realizing that night will soon be upon them, the group decides to investigate, and perhaps find a room at the Waterhorse, Varnhold’s only inn. As soon as the group approaches the door they make an strange and unsettling discovery. A single word has been hastily scratched into the wood of the front door in Common….

NOMEN.

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