The Lastlight Chronicles

Plot threads!
Updated!!

 

Plot summary 1: Blackvale and Deepriver Mine

In late Summer, Gundren Hearthhold, a dwarf and member of the Forge was given a map of Deepriver Mine by his uncle, Burgen. On the last night of Summer, Burgen was killed by a bugbear and goblins employed by Blackvale and the Drakoyiska, a dragon-worshipping cult. Gundren was kidnapped by the goblins soon after, but rather than being given straight to Blackvale he was taken to a place called Redpeak. Blackvale eventually got him back by mid-Autumn and claimed the map. The Drakoyiska were also involved in a separate group called the Redcloaks; a bandit group based out of Vandalin who were overseen at least in part by Elliyas, Blackvale’s apprentice. Both Elliyas and Blackvale were necromancers.

Blackvale was also looking for two gnomes, named Futhir and Thrannir. These gnomes knew how to find Deepriver Mine, so between the gnomes and the dwarf’s map the Drakoyiska would know both the location and internal schematics of the long-buried mine. Thrannir was captured and killed by Blackvale at some point in late Autumn. Futhir escaped and fled to Widowsreach, and the adventurers were present on the day that Elliyas tried (and failed) to capture the gnome.

Blackvale appears to be working for someone, in turn. He used a ‘sending stone’ to speak to someone he called either Iymrith or Mother. It appears he was seeking to enter Deepriver to find the (now-destroyed) Lower Forge that created magical items, and a Crown used by a long-dead orc who assaulted the mine during the Great War.

 

Plot summary 2: The Giants

In mid-Autumn, Cloud Giants descended on the town of Thunderfell and took an obelisk of carved obsidian that had long stood in the town square. Around the same time, the adventurers discovered other massive shards of obsidian buried in the Valley of the Fallen Magisters, in central Sunder. Prolonged exposure to the obsidian had seemed to have a reaction to a human traveller from Vindabona named Parasmus, who had been lead to the site by a now-missing magical sextant. 

Further shards of obsidian were discovered under the Heathlander town of Athelbray. This was being sought by Fire Giants, who appeared to use specially made divining rods to track the obsidian’s location.

In the meantime, the adventurers have learned that the political order of the Giants has been turned on its head. The Allfather Hekaton, ruler of the Storm Giants and of Giant-kind as a whole, is missing or presumed dead. The other giants are in disarray or are acting to fulfil their own plans. The Cloud Giants, for example, are a line who have been half-banished to the Ethereal realm and exist between rather than on extra-dimensional planes. They may be seeking pieces of an ancient artefact that cursed them to this existence; and if they succeed in assembling it, they may doom this world in the process. The Fire Giants, for their part, appear to be using pieces of another (or the same?) ancient artefact to create an ancient machine of war called the Vodindod. There’s no word yet on what the Stone, Hill or Frost Giants may be doing or even where they’re based.

That said, the adventurers have also learned from Serenna et-Tyr in Athelbray that “something old and new has entered the equation. An enemy of the Giants, who has slumbered for long centuries. She sets things in motion against her ancient foes.” And in addition, “there is another, lurking deep below, reaching out to enslave lesser minds.” The identity of The Enemy and The Other are not yet discovered.

 

Currently dangling plot threads:

1: Mysterious forces, part 1 (Backstory)  

[Aerwyn]: What divine power infuses our half-elven hero?

 

2. The Raven King (Session 5)

[Carnacki, Rastus: Dezinry Encampment]: who or what is the Raven King? It is a powerful force to the south of Sunder that’s sending refugees north. The Raven King may be a necromancer.

 

3: The Ghost of Finneg’s Mire (Session 5)

[Carnacki, Rastus: Vandalin]: Lady Garael of the Church of Marianus advises that a ghost is said to haunt Finneg’s Mire. “She’s harmless, but said to answer any three questions truthfully. I have but one question for the ghost: does Gethaemir of the Golden Glade yet live?”. Garael passes Carnacki a small amulet said to belong to the ghost.

 

4: A Young Tiefling’s Request (Session 7)

[Carnacki: Thunderfell]: A Tiefling lad named Kailen Pavel explains that his mother, Temperance Pavel, was killed in the Dripping Caves. He asks Carnacki and the others whether they’d travel to Byeldrir – a city in the frostbitten southern land of Themgir, not far from where Carnacki grew up – and tell Temperance’s parents that their only daughter has passed away. Kailen isn’t sure whether he will stay in Thunderfell, the only home he’s known, or go to Themgir himself. Temperance’s parents are Tharm and Anguish Pavel, and they run the furriers on Three Towns Lane.

 

5: A Merchant’s Favour (Session 9) 

[Aerwyn: Road to Athelbray]: the merchant, Gerth Camble, is owed a favour that he may call in at a later stage. Gerth is based in Lastlight but travels throughout Sunder and the Heathlands.

 

6: Finding the Forge (Session 11) 

[Aerwyn, Carnacki: Athelbray]: Dara McThandrel advises the adventurers that if they seek the Forge, their best bet is to seek out Borytris Vel, a wise if eccentric adventurer currently based in Ombrey. With a letter of recommendation from Dara, Borytris may induct them into the Forge and explain the secrets of this organisation.

 

7: The Furnace Primordial (Session 11)

[Aerwyn: Athelbray]: Ghelryn Foehammer is thankful to his two battle-brothers for helping him dispatch the enemies of Athelbray. He provides them, and their compatriots, with letters of recommendation to the dwarven kingdoms of Silverhelm and Skyshear, which lay to the south toward the border of Larnarch and Themgir (that is, about two to three weeks’ travel from Athelbray). Ghelryn is a celebrated warrior and smith in both lands, and these letters should grant them protection, shelter and free passage. Ghelryn also informs them that the Fire Giants of old once sought an ancient treasure of the dwarves, known as ‘The Furnace Primordial’. The Giants may go to war against the dwarves once more, in a quest to take this treasure and power their arcane machines of war.  

 

8: The Fate of the Fireforges (Backstory)  

[Thorin]: Thorin’s village was destroyed by a mysterious force. Who or what did that?

 

9: The Gnome’s Diary (Session 16)

[Aerwyn: Athelbray]: Aerwyn found a diary in Deepriver that contains all manner of things. This has yet to be shared with the group, however.

 

10: Mysterious forces, part 2 (Backstory)  

[Arditha]: Who or what is Arditha’s patron?

 

11: What did Blackvale and the Dragon mean? (Session 17)

Blackvale referred to the black dragon in Deepriver as his mother’s cousin. He also appears to have been searching for something that belonged to his mother’s mother and father’s son. Is Blackvale really bad at genealogy or is something else going on?

The dragon also mentioned something about the “mantle of void everlasting” which is either a clue or gibberish from a cave-bound fungus-covered flying lizard.

 

12: Who destroyed Hamor? (Backstory)

[Carnacki]: Was the dragon in Deepriver the same one who destroyed Carnacki’s hometown in Themgir? If it wasn’t – does that mean there’s another black dragon out there?

 

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Sessions 16 and 17: Death in the water
Farewells and introductions

While Rastus and Aerwyn work to disarm the magical boulder trap that almost claimed the half-elf’s life, Carnacki and Thorin make it to the chamber’s floor. Parasmus goes ahead, although disappears down a hole. The tiefling and dwarf discover this is due to a pesky Cobbleswarm, which sends them tumbling. Carnacki solves the problem by creating a makeshift sled with his wolfskin cloak, and they slide past the strange foes into the tunnels below. In those tunnels, they fight a range of strange creatures including deadly fungus and lichen-covered creatures that appear to have grown up around a collection of bones.

Aerwyn and Rastus, having solved the trap, find a corridor that stretches into a simple room. They find some treasures in the room, along with the remains of a diary that’s written in Gnomish. Aerwyn starts to decode it, but Rastus is attacked by glowing moss on the ceiling. They manage to defeat the moss, only to find that Blackvale’s minions have made their way into the cavern they just exited. Two ogre zombies are being torn apart by (and killing in turn) an otyugh that dwelled on the cavern floor. Aerwyn makes himself and Rastus invisible and they sneak past, before following the path of destruction left by Carnacki, Thorin and Parasmus.

Further in, Carnacki and Thorin find an exit into the main chamber and scoot around with Parasmus. As they make their way down a slippery sluice that has a trickle of water in it, Parasmus loses his footing and falls to his death in the cold water below. Carnacki and Thorin make it safely to the platform below, which leads to the Upper Forge of Deepriver. To stop pursuers, Carnacki then blows a hole in the sluice using a ‘boomstick’ he found in the mine the previous day. 

Around the same time, Aerwyn and Rastus make their way down to meet their companions. They use a combination of ropes, Levitate and Misty Step to make their way down, landing on a platform that takes them to the Lower Forge of Deepriver. A 90’ bridge separates the two groups. As Blackvale’s minions arrives above, Thorin summons a moonbeam  to kill one. As a black dragon arises from the water, an explosion is heard; Arditha, a glaive-wielding paladin who had recently worked for Blackvale, has freed herself from captivity. She lands in the water and is rescued by Rastus. The light from the Lower Forge grows brighter, with beams of light shooting through everyone and suffusing the entire chamber with a dull golden glow. 

Chaos erupts; a towering half-orc named Gurrak enters from the Lower Forge, having been mystically transported through the dying flames. The dragon attacks Thorin and Carnacki, and Thorin is only saved by the Tiefling sending him into an extradimensional space via a Rope Trick. Gurrak attacks the dragon and pushes an explosive stone into its jaws, while Aerwyn, Rastus and Arditha turn their attention to Blackvale. Blackvale nearly dies as he falls off a distant platform, but Thundersteps himself away back to safety. A young Drakoyiska called Isabel is fatally wounded by Aerwyn’s Fireball; she falls into the water, and Arditha throws herself in, using her magics to resuscitate her. Rastus enlarges Gurrak, who throws his handaxes and javelins into the dragon’s hide. Two ghouls and two Redcloaks come tumbling down, using Feather Fall to prevent injury. The ghouls land near Arditha and Isabel, while the Redcloaks land in the water not far from Aerwyn. The dragon savages one of them, but is turned by Arditha’s Command spell. The ghouls and one of the Redcloaks is dispatched, while the Redcloak wounded by the dragon lashes out at Aerwyn and then hides in the Lower Forge. Well-placed Haste and Sleep spells by Rastus respectively accelerate Carnacki and cause the dragon to fall asleep. Thorin dispatches the mighty beast with a lightning bolt. Isabel, who has been swimming across to safety from a rope dangled down by Blackvale’s Hobgoblin lieutenant, finds herself in danger. Aerwyn lets loose another fireball to take down Blackvale, and both the Hobgoblin and Isabel are caught in the blast. All three die; Carnacki drops a boomstick after them, to ensure the necromancer is dead.

Marcellus surrenders, and Arditha turns on the one-time captain of the Redcloaks in anger: his inaction caused Isabel to die. Arditha is outraged in her grief; Aerwyn, mourning Parasmus, stays on the bridge and looks out to the water where his erstwhile friend died. 

Thorin turns himself into giant toad, plunging into the water to search for Blackvale’s body. He finds the corpse, and brings it to the surface. The adventurers find a water-logged and charred spellbook, a cloak of protection, and a mysterious Sending Stone. The Stone was used by Blackvale to communicate with his mistress – called either ‘Mother’ or ‘Iymrith’. The group discover that Blackvale was here searching for a treasure – not the just-slain dragon, but rather something that belonged to his ‘mother’s mother’ and his ‘father’s son’ (phrases used metaphorically rather than literally). The group also remember that Blackvale referred to the black dragon as his ‘mother’s cousin’ which was also presumably metaphorical. The group use the sending stone, and Thorin receives a message back that, if he delivers the ‘Crown’, he’ll be granted power. He promptly tells his team-mates this, and they set about exploring.

The team find that Lower Forge contains the remains of a mighty warrior – perhaps an orc or half-orc. Its bones turn to dust as the fire is extinguished. Gurrak takes a ring from the warrior’s body; it’s something of elven design, decorated with a tree that contains stars in its boughs. The walls of the cavern have old cave paintings on them, but they’re too faint to interpret.

As for the Upper Forge, the group find it to be infested with Darkmantles, and Marcellus is killed by one of these strange floating squid-bats. Rastus uses Burning Hands to roast a few of these bizarre creatures, and the team quickly dispatch them without too much incident.

The group find two sets of rooms: to the right, an old temple that contains an Oculo Swarm (which temporarily blinds Rastus, but he drives it off with a Fireball) and teleportation circles. In the other room are the remains of a mighty Fireforge warrior and an orc. Rastus takes an iron crown from the orc (but does not put it on), whilst Thorin wraps up the bones of the dwarf in his cloak, and takes the Seal of the Fireforge Clan from the armour. Gurrak spits on the body of the orc, while Arditha gathers a warhammer from the dwarf and a magic ring from the orc’s hand.

The group decide to return to the surface and retrieve a magical rod that Aerwyn had stashed in the (now-pilotless) airship, then return to the teleportation circle. Aerwyn is the only one who’s managed to read the runes around the circles, and has chosen Skyshear – a dwarven fortress, many days to the south of Deepriver Mine and Sunder – as their next destination.

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Sessions 13, 14 and 15: Deepriver
Into the mountain

In the gnomish village of Drifthull, upon Widowsreach Mountain, Aerwyn, Parasmus and Carnacki are reunited with Rastus, and meet a dwarf named Thorin. They agree to travel to Deepriver Mine with Futhir to try to find the gnome’s missing brother, who’s been kidnapped by Blackvale. They fly together in an experimental flying boat named the Kelluvana. It takes them two days to get there; Futhir has never managed to get the airship to fly particularly long distances, and occasionally finds it difficult to get the floatwood and fire crystals working properly.

As they get close, some of the adventurers recognise the site as the Sheared Mountain that sits a few days’ south of Thunderfell. They arrive at dusk, on Stormsday in the eleventh week of Autumn (two weeks after the Siege of Athelbray). As they work out where to land, they spot a camp that’s been set up near some mine shafts on the eastern slopes of the mountain. They decide to avoid that and land in the sheared valley, which Futhir suspects will be a more direct route into the abandoned mine. 

In the fog-filled mountain valley, they defeat a displacer beast and slithering tracker, and discover that a large segment of mountain has broken off and effectively plugged what had once been an open-air cavern. After some searching, Futhir successfully discovers an old stairwell leading down into the mine. As they begin to explore, they discover a massive cavern that has the mountain-shard pierced into it like a massive stalactite. As they decide whether to venture out, Thorin sends out his owl familiar to scout out the interior. It is snapped up by something near the surface of the underground lake at the bottom of the mine, and Carnacki hears a rumbling voice that is, to his ears, the unmistakeable sound of a dragon. 

The group explore the central cavern via a rickety bridge. Futhir goes first, but is consumed by a gargantuan Angler Worm. The group defeat the worm, but end up crushing part of the bridge in the process. Continuing their exploration, they come across a Flail Snail and defeat it – only to find that its horrendous death-screeches attract more creatures. They come across a friendly firbolg monk named Nathan the Mouse who, along with a dwarf compatriot, have escaped the Redcloaks and Drakoyiska who even now are descending through the mine. The group makes their way back to the central cavern and barely make it across a gap to a lower opening. The dwarf dies in the process, falling to his doom in the dark waters below. A brief long-range scuffle with Blackvale’s followers is ended when Carnacki nearly kills the half-orc necromancer with a well-aimed arrow. The group settle for a rest, and in the morning explore further. They find a second large cavern, this one with an elaborate platform and door carved with mysterious runes. Rastus touches the door, which sets off a magical boulder trap that nearly kills Aerwyn. Some clockwork mechanism within the platform and bridges shuts off the cavern from the halls they came from.

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Sessions 11 and 12: Widowsreach
New paths are taken

Following the Siege of Athelbray, Aerwyn, Dardiana and Tagar spend time cleaning up the town and pursuing some leads. Erol has left to pursue leads on a bandit called Hrothgar Redthen, while Carnacki spends a little bit of time earning his keep helping round up missing caravans and goods. The Giant corpse is repurposed; Maz Helgarsson gets a new lean-to made from Fire Giant armour, while the head of the Giant is removed and attached to the city walls as a warning to others. The rest of the body is buried nearby. A large chunk of obsidian is removed from under the city square, and Aerwyn and the others organise for it to be sent northward, toward Altamar.

While they’re in town, they visit the Abbey and meet Serenna et-Tyr, the abbeymistress. She helps Aerwyn research information about the Giant lords and passes on their names: Zalto, Duke of Ironslag Hall; Storvald, Jarl of Ice Neverending; Guh, Chieftainess of the Hill Giants; Kayalithica, Thane of Deadstone Cleft; Sansuri, Countess of Astor Castle; and Hekaton, High Father of Maelstrom. She says that the Giants should be thought of as “a mighty arch, five stone blocks with a capstone to hold them in place. The Allfather is missing. The arch crumbles. It cannot hold the weight. The stone must be replaced, or all will perish. Something both new and old has entered the equation. An enemy of the Giants, who has slumbered for long centuries. She is wise and cruel. She sets things in motion against her ancient foes. And there is another. Lurking deep below, reaching out to enslave lesser minds. They wish to corrupt and destroy, not to rebuild. Like a drop of ink into water, the Other will ensure all is touched and changed by its presence.” Serenna also presents them with some trophies, including giving Dardiana a magical mandolin that once belonged to Niska Cainath, a war-bard who was apprenticed to the legendary Tamalin Shander. Tagar is given items by Dara McThandrel and Ghelryn Foehammer for his service, as well as some Dust of Dryness by a travelling merchant whose goods he helped rescue in the days after the Siege.

Foehammer also advises that “We dwarves have something deep inside our armoury. The Furnace Primordial. If Zalto got his hands on it, that’d be the end of the dwarf kingdoms. The Fire Giants are trying to build something. Vodindod, the world-killer. It’s a dwarven legend, an ancient mechanism that the Fire Giants tried to build centuries ago. The dragons sabotaged it, it’s said.”

Around the time they leave, Tagar meets with Talon – the half-orc that recruited him into a life of banditry. Talon tells him how life has been tough since the death of Baron Raethorn’s son; the rebels have been pushed back into the hills. Tagar also gets a chance to meet Alara Goodbrace, and pass on the news of her ex-husband’s death in Thunderfell.

The team decide to hit the road, heading up to Lastlight first, then through Ombrey and down to Emberfell. That path would take them to a contact with the Forge, then to an old friend of Galeme Northshield who has a Giant-Slayer Axe. 

The next day, in the Firbolg Forest near Widowsreach, the team are attacked by a Basilisk. They just defeat it; Tagar is almost petrified in the process, and is only revived via the medicine-craft of Dardiana who extracts the antidote from the basilisk’s corpse.

The following day, the group encounter Carnacki. He’s been playing bodyguard for an outrageously dressed halfling named King Lord Emperor Barquentine. Not long after they meet, they detect the presence of gnolls. The team explore the area but are overwhelmed by the opposing forces. They flee up Widowsreach Mountain, where they find themselves cornered by a caravan that includes Redcloak bandits and Elliyas, the Necromancer of Vandalin. The team struggle to defeat their foe, but manage to clamber up a nearby hill and get assistance from some local gnomes lead by a gnome named Futhir.

Futhir has been hunted by the necromancer for many weeks, and has been sheltering two adventurers who’ve come to blows with the gnolls and bandits who stalk these lands. While some of the group decide what’s to be done, Tagar, Dardiana and Barquentine decide to continue pursuing the necromancer. Elliyas only escaped through a well-timed Thunderstep (which killed several horses, and nearly Scruffy too), so they suspect he can’t be too far ahead. They head off that evening, leaving Parasmus and Aerwyn with Carnacki and the gnomes.

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A world of adventure...
Plot hooks galore!

This summarises the current story threads and side quests gathered to date in this rather sandbox-y campaign. It includes the PCs who’ve learned of these plot hooks, as well as where they heard the bulk of the news relating to the hook.

UPDATED 27 OCTOBER

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: Q: where is Gundren Hearthhold, missing member of the Forge, and his map to Deepriver Mine? A: Dead! Killed by Blackvale.

 

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: Q: what happened to Futhir and Thrannir, the two gnomes who knew Gundren Hearthhold?  It’s said that they may be able to narrow down the location of Deepriver Mine. They may be located in a gnome settlement at Widowsreach, a treacherous peak that marks the border between the Heathlands and Sunder. A: Thrannir was killed by Blackvale. Futhir was found, and subsequently died in Deepriver.

 

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: Q: Who is ‘Blackvale’? He appears to be a bandit lord of particularly ill repute, who’s renowned for his cruelty and may be somewhere in southern Sunder. Carnacki and the others know that Blackvale is a member of the Drakoyiska, an apocalyptic cult that worships the power of the long-extinct dragons. In addition, Elliyas (Necromancer of Vandalin) appears to work for Blackvale. A: all of the above. Plus Blackvale appears to have worked for or worshipped a voice he called ‘Mother’ or ‘Imyrith’.

 

[Erol, Taerus: Redpeak]: Q: An abandoned castle near Redpeak is swarming with goblinoids, and endangering the trade route that runs south from Sunder and out toward the Heathlands. Many merchants are employing mercenaries to protect their wares, or alternatively taking the more treacherous path via Widowsreach. But why was the castle being threatened by zombies? A: not discussed. 

[Carnacki: Vandalin]: Q: where is Deepriver Mine? It is understood that the Hearthhold Dwarves and local gnomes used to operate a mine in the mountains of Sunder called ‘Deepriver’, hundreds of years ago during the time of Dragons. The stories say that Deepriver Mine was where the Magisters used to forge magical artefacts to defend the world against the dark forces from the south. The mine was the site of a battle during the Great War, and it’s believed that in the battle’s final moments the defenders used ancient sorceries to seal it shut rather than let it fall into enemy hands. The location of the mine has been lost for centuries, but many suspect it to be located in the hills near Vandalin or the mountains south of Thunderfell. A: found it! 

 

[Carnacki, Rastus: Dezinry Encampment]: who or what is the Raven King? 

 

[Carnacki, Rastus: Vandalin]: Lady Garael of the Church of Marianus advises that a ghost is said to haunt Finneg’s Mire. “She’s harmless, but said to answer any three questions truthfully. I have but one question for the ghost: does Gethaemir of the Golden Glade yet live?”. Garael passes Carnacki a small amulet said to belong to the ghost.

 

[Carnacki: Thunderfell]: A Tiefling lad named Kailen Pavel explains that his mother, Temperance Pavel, was killed in the Dripping Caves. He asks Carnacki and the others whether they’d travel to Byeldrir – a city in the frostbitten southern land of Themgir, not far from where Carnacki grew up – and tell Temperance’s parents that their only daughter has passed away. Kailen isn’t sure whether he will stay in Thunderfell, the only home he’s known, or go to Themgir himself. Temperance’s parents are Tharm and Anguish Pavel, and they run the furriers on Three Towns Lane.

 

[Aerwyn, Dardiana: Thunderfell]: Heyek Meltrum, priest of Thunderfell, recognises Dardiana’s tressym as the pet of Melantha and Lathan Kelbrin. The Kelbrins died in the Cloud Giant attack on Thunderfell. Heyek tells Dardiana and Aerwyn that Kelbrin’s son lives in Gilder in Mittel, and he’d no doubt appreciate it if they visited him there and returned the tressym. The son’s name is Tor Kelbrin.

 

[Tagar: Thunderfell]: Morak the dwarf says that Darthag Goodbrace, who ran the local trading post and was slain by goblins, was a wealthy retiree who’d set up a successful trading company with his ex-wife and daughter, Alara and Lena. Alara is now based out of Thistleton in the Heathlands, and Morak would appreciate it if the adventurers could tell her the sad news. This has now been resolved: Tagar met Alara in Athelbray.

 

[Aerwyn, Dardiana, Tagar: Road to Athelbray]: the merchant, Gerth Camble, is owed a favour that he may call in at a later stage. Gerth is based in Lastlight but travels throughout Sunder and the Heathlands.

 

[Dardiana: Athelbray]: Galeme Northshield tells Dardiana of a retired adventurer friend of hers, named Lock On An Open Door. Lock has a Giant Slayer Axe that has served him well in the past, but he has no further need of it. Galeme writes a letter of recommendation for Dardiana, and says that Lock can be found at the Weeping Bluff, just outside the town of Emberfell which sits near the southern edge of Mittel.

 

[Aerwyn, Carnacki, Dardiana, Erol, Tagar: Athelbray]: Dara McThandrel advises the adventurers that if they seek the Forge, their best bet is to seek out Borytris Vel, a wise if eccentric adventurer currently based in Ombrey. With a letter of recommendation from Dara, Borytris may induct them into the Forge and explain the secrets of this organisation.

 

[Aerwyn, Tagar: Athelbray]: Ghelryn Foehammer is thankful to his two battle-brothers for helping him dispatch the enemies of Athelbray. He provides them, and their compatriots, with letters of recommendation to the dwarven kingdoms of Silverhelm and Skyshear, which lay to the south toward the border of Larnarch and Themgir (that is, about two to three weeks’ travel from Athelbray). Ghelryn is a celebrated warrior and smith in both lands, and these letters should grant them protection, shelter and free passage. Ghelryn also informs them that the Fire Giants of old once sought an ancient treasure of the dwarves, known as ‘The Furnace Primordial’. The Giants may go to war against the dwarves once more, in a quest to take this treasure and power their arcane machines of war.  

 

[Erol: Athelbray]: Maz Helgarsson recognises Erol to be a former Altamarian soldier, from his accent and stance. He advises Erol that a foe of the Altamarians passed through some weeks back. His name is Hrothgar and he’s the brother to Harald Redthen the infamous bandit lord of the Heathlands. Maz has little love for these bandits, and says that capturing Hrothgar Redthen would fetch a pretty penny and provide some excellent leverage over the scoundrels that roam the land.

 

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Session 10: The Siege of Athelbray
Farewell Leonar, we barely knew you.

With two Fire Giants and their minions descending upon the town of Athelbray, Dara McThandrel rallies her troops and townsfolk and sends people to the wall. Leonar Tesrin, adventure-loving shopkeep, and Ghelryn Foehammer, crotchety blacksmith, throw a variety of weapons into the centre of the town for town’s defenders to pick up. Dara and Erol, Ranger of Sunder, take a position on the western-most tower near the town gate, while Maz the groundskeeper flees behind city walls and then (along with many villagers) out the back gate. Galeme and Dardiana set themselves up in the north-western tower, not far from Northshield House.

 

Carnacki and Aerwyn enter the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association and ‘negotiate’ the removal of Parasmus. Aerwyn is convinced that the Giants are looking for the man, so he turns Parasmus invisible and hides him by the city baths.

 

Boulders are lazily hurled by the Fire Giants, smashing much of the southern wall and wiping out militia positioned along the towers. A boulder destroys the house of the town Advocate, who Aerwyn had met earlier that morning, while another embeds itself in the square near the northeastern corner of the town. Debris rains down upon Goodbrace Trading Company, the trading post maintained by Leonar. Ghelryn marches toward the gate but is repulsed by Altamarian soldiers who’ve barricaded it against the advancing forces. The dwarf instead finds a new position on the southwestern wall, close to the oncoming enemy. He’s followed by Tagar the Half-Orc, and his trusty giant squirrel companion. Dara and Erol concentrate their arrows on one of the Fire Giants, whilst narrowly avoiding thrown boulders, while Dardiana and Galeme pick off one of the war-rhinos and mortally wound one of the Orogs. A stray boulder smashes through the gatehouse and crushes the Altamarian soldiers, although the gate itself remains secure. Dara and Galeme dash down to reinforce the gate, while Erol remains keeps the high ground. Carnacki positions himself in the Lord Protector’s tower in the centre of town, using his longbow to pick at the Fire Giants and wounded Orog outside the city walls.

 

Leonar, having emptied the (now-collapsing) trading post of anything useful, rallies the locals to prepare a bucket chain in case of fires. Once that’s done, he runs to the front gate. On the walls, Ghelryn leaps down onto a passing Orog. Tagar follows, with Scruffy in tow, and a desperate fight breaks out. The giant squirrel is perhaps the most valuable participant in the battle, attaching itself to the face of the armoured uber-Orc. One of the Giants passes by, but a small horde of magmins look to join the fray. The surviving rhino, having lost its mount, charges onward toward the city gates alongside the female Giant, and together they smash through the gate. Aerwyn inadvertently joins the fray outside the city walls, tripping on a damaged section of the southern battlements and falling down the embankment below. Once he dusts himself out, he uses his Horn of Silent Alarm to attract the second Giant’s attention and tries to engage it in conversation, using the ancient Tharnic language. He learns that they are seeking some form of treasure, but the Giant isn’t in the mood for conversation.

 

With the squirrel-scratched Orog defeated, Tagar, Ghelryn and Scruffy find themselves flanked by magmins. They dispose of their foes, but not before suffering additional wounds as their lava-filled foes explode upon death. Aerwyn throws ice knives into the fray, but the magmins do not seem overly susceptible to such magic. In the sprawl of buildings outside town, a few magmins gleefully begin to set houses and inns alight. Maz, having circled around from the northeastern corner of town, uses his sling to first kill the wounded Orog then to distract down the magmins from their task. At the front gate, the rhino is quickly slain while the Fire Giant kills Leonar with a single blow. Dara, Galeme, and Galeme’s mastiffs swarm the Giant’s legs and manage to successfully trip her. Their massive foe falls prone, and is peppered with blows. Erol, finding himself on the losing end of a fire-breathing mephit, leaps from the tower above onto the Giant’s back but is barely able to penetrate her armour. Mephits pick off some of Galeme’s dogs, while the Giant – bleeding from her copious wounds – gets back to her feet and flees the surprisingly well-defended town gates.

 

As the Giants retreat with surviving mephits and magmins in tow, Ghelryn darts forward and slices deep into the female Giant’s leg. The wound is a fatal one; the titan toppled and fell, almost crushing the Dwarf. The surviving male turned and smashed Ghelryn into the ground with a mighty sweep of his blade, but Aerwyn used his magic to stabilise the dwarf and heal the massive wound. The surviving foes retreated, leaving behind corpses of a Giant, Orogs and rhinos, as well as a bag of possessions and a gigantic metal rod. 

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Downtime: On The Road
It’s Tiefling time again

After successfully freeing the surviving villagers from the Dripping Caves, Carnacki returns to Thunderfell along with the bedraggled villagers. He strikes up conversation with Morak, the dwarven innkeeper. Carnacki talks to Morak about a range of topics, including the Hearthhold family, the Forge, Lantern’s Flame, the necromancer of Vandalin, Blackvale and the Drakoyiska. Morak manages to fill in some gaps, and confirm some things that Carnacki already suspected. About a fortnight ago, Gwendalyn Hearthhold had told him that the missing map had been for a mine overrun hundreds of years ago. The letter found in Vandalin said that Blackvale is looking for the map, and for the mine also. The disappearance of Futhir and Thrannir now seems connected to the disappearance of Gundren Hearthhold (Gwendalyn’s brother, who’d been a member of the Forge). Perhaps the gnomes were a back-up plan if the map went missing, or a loose end that Blackvale wanted tied off? Carnacki now knows the name of the mine – Deepriver – and feels like he can do something with that information.

 

Carnacki decides to leave Thunderfell that afternoon; he’s keen to know more about the Forge, and see whether he can get more information on the gnomes and Deepriver. In addition, he’d like to know what’s happened to his compatriots that he left Lastlight with! A couple of days’ trek later and he’s near Vandalin. He meets Erol on the road, who explains that he’s been down south near Redpeak. Erol had gone there with Taerus and Gwendalyn, and had found a castle that seemed to be the base of operations for swarms of goblins. Erol got separated from the others in a sprawling fight, and was returning to Lastlight to update the Rangers on their exploits. Carnacki suggests that they travel east, both a) to see if they can find Rastus, who went this way, and b) to go to Athelbray, which is several days’ along this road. Morak had told him that Athelbray was ruled by Dara McThandrel, who knows about the Forge and is believed to be sympathetic toward adventurers.

 

So, Erol and Carnacki head east, past the mountain of Widowsreach (where they pause for several hours to fight off some hyena-headed gnolls that lurked along the twisting and treacherous paths), then out of Sunder and down into the craggy Heathlands. After several days they arrive in Athelbray, a fortified town on a popular trade route between Altamar in the north and Larnarch in the distant southeast. They stay at a venue called the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association, a shambolic den of iniquity where adventurers sign up to guard the many caravans that ply their trade through the region – provided a hefty commission is taken by Arlen Stockspool, the Association’s keen-eyed owner.

 

Dara McThandrel was out surveying the town’s nearby ranches the next day, so Erol and Carnacki knock about the town and set to drinking (Carnacki uses his Disguise spell to appear as a human rather than tiefling, and Erol stashes his Sunderian Ranger cloak). They discover that some of their drinking partners are sympathetic to the Heathlander rebellions, and others are familiar with the phrase ‘Lantern’s Flame’. Some subtle questions around Blackvale and the Drakoyiska earn them suspicious looks, although they do discover that there’s a gnome town near Widowsreach – so, looks like they’ve over-shot a potential lead by a few days.

 

The next morning, Carnacki and Erol wake late and a little worse for wear. They’re exploring the market when they hear a strange ‘whooshing’ noise, and see a massive boulder crash into the town’s fortifications…

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Sessions 8 and 9: From the Tree of Stars to Athelbray
All this and a giant squirrel.

The eighth and ninth week of Autumn were, in retrospect, a bit of a blur for our travelling companions. Having left Carnacki to accompany the rescued villagers from the Dripping Caves to Thunderfell, our fearless crew went to the Tree of Stars to meet an ancient druid named Verreban. The Tree was located a few short hours from the (mostly human) settlement, and as the adventurers travelled through the wilderness they realised that an old elven city had once stood here. After dispatching some vine blights in the ruins, they found a small hut near the edge of the ruins. Rather than Verreban, they met Granny Greyteeth – an annis hag who they knew dwelled in the region. Granny gave them some information and didn’t eat them, in exchange for some of Tagar’s guilt and an indecipherable map that Dardiana had carried with her for some months.

 

Following their unsettling experience with the hag, the adventurers travelled back through the town until they found Verreban. Verreban was a weary old elf, from an ancient lineage that had all but perished in the great wars. Verreban couldn’t recall Parasmus in any detail, but provided the group with the opportunity to lay under the Tree and bathe in its visions.

 

Between the hag and Verreban, the group learned the following:

  • The All-Father, lord of the Giants, has either passed or gone missing. The Compact of Tharn, an age-old agreement which kept the ‘Six High’ (the Giant races) cooperating, has been broken.
  • The Cloud Giants seek fragments of an ancient artefact that was forged hundreds of years ago. This artefact, called the ‘Vonindod’, malfunctioned and banished them to their semi-material form that they have now. The Cloud Giants now phase in and out of this reality and other planes; by putting this artefact back together again, they hope to regain their old form. The only problem is, they may destroy this world in the process.
  • The other Giant races are Storm, Stone, Hill, Frost and Fire. Fire Giants helped construct the Vonindod along with the Cloud Giants
  • Dragons may be returning to the world. It’s unclear whether the characters saw a vision of the past or future under the Tree of Stars, but Verreban seemed to indicate that it was the latter.

 

Returning to Thunderfell, the adventurers met with a feast and were gifted some artefacts by Morak, the dwarf innkeeper who had seen himself become the default town leader. These included a Horn of Silent Alarm, a Driftglobe and a shortsword that was imbued with moonlight. The adventurers left the following day, after helping the villagers repair the damaged bridge to the keep, and ventured back to Vandalin.

 

It was Shadow’s Day, a fortnight to the day that they’d met in Lastlight to accept a mission from Gillam Sucain, that they returned to this mysterious town in southern Sunder. Vandalin was weirdly welcoming, with a festival atmosphere to celebrate the appointment of a new townmaster and provide a wake for those that had died by undead hands a week before. After being unceremoniously tooted at by Aerwyn with the Horn of Silent Alarm, the adventurers found Talia Thornton (the new townmaster) to be suspicious and angry. While not physically aggressive, she clearly felt that adventurers had ruined the town and suspected Parasmus to be a spy. She cheerfully told them that she’d sent him along the eastern road, to Widowsreach and the Heathlands, and had seemingly little care for his fate. The adventurers agreed to leave in peace, but let Talia know that if she ever threatened them or sent ruffians after them, they’d come back for her head.

 

The next morning, the adventurers headed east along the Widow’s Road. It was a long and slow trek, with the treacherous path around Widowsreach was littered with what looks like rope and broken carriages amongst the tree tops – perhaps the sign of a strange battle, or a merchant caravan that ran off the track? The air was heavy with the scent of gnolls, but thankfully there were no ill encounters. Coming down the other side of the mountain, the track became clearer but the weather turned foul. As they moved from Sunder into the edge of the Heathlands, the adventurers found themselves rained on and sought shelter in a forest. They spot some firbolgs in the distance, but were not assaulted. Tagar, communing with nature, met a giant squirrel that he called ‘Scruffy’, who followed them on their adventures from her on. 

 

After the forest, the travellers moved into the heath itself – patchy thickets over broken ground, ranging from knee- to waist-height. Tagar finds small game in the undergrowth to avoid dipping too deeply into the rations, and the group notice the signs of old battles here; disguised trenches, sharpened stakes in artificial creeks, and low bridges rigged to collapse, to slow invading armies. Along the road they meet Gerth Camble, a dwarf merchant from Lastlight. Camble agrees to carry a letter from them back to Gillaim Sucain and the Rangers of Sunder, in exchange for a future favour.

 

Their destination is Athelbray, a prosperous town at the juncture of Widow’s Road and a booming trade route between Altamar in the north and Larnach in the south. Athelbray is best said to be in, rather than of, the Heathlands; its enviable position means it’s a richer and more cosmopolitan than other settlements in the area. The adventurers meet Maz Helgarsson, a groundskeeper, who provides them with a run-down of better and worse locales for a few coin. On Maz’s recommendation, they go to Northshield House, a well-kept inn operated by a no-nonsense former adventurer Galeme Northshield.

 

The next day, the group explore the town and meet a range of locals. They spend the most time with Ghelryn Foehammer, an elderly dwarf who runs a celebrated armoury; Silas McAlisker, an innkeeper of a run-down establishment named The Talking Troll who has a love for musical theatre; and Dara McThandrel, local townmaster who protects Athelbray following the death of their last lord a few decades ago.

 

Dardiana decides to perform a number in the square, and for her troubles manages to draw out both Leonar Tesrin, a shopkeep with dreams of glory, and Arlen Stockspool, owner of the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association. They discover that Stockspool had Parasmus delivered to him a couple of days previously. Stockspool doesn’t believe Parasmus to be a spy, but wants some coin for his trouble. In exchange for a future performance and some secrets regarding Othovir Dessrin, a Septeme-born harness-maker, Stockspool agrees to hand Parasmus over.  Aerwyn uses his spell of invisibility to sneak into the harness-maker’s personal quarters and finds a lockbox embossed with a boar-headed seal, but Tagar, Dardiana and Scruffy have little luck extracting secrets from Othovir.

 

As the troupe decide to climb the rock-hewn stairs that lead to the abbey overlooking Athelbray, they survey the land and see that two Fire Giants, accompanied by rhino-born Orogs and a small gang of fiery creatures. The Giants both hold massive metal rods in their hand, perhaps five foot long, and they move them as they walk as if sensing the presence of something. Casually, one of them picks up a massive boulder from the ground and hurls it toward the walls of Athelbray…

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Session 7: The Dripping Caves
The parties meet for the first time

It’s midday on a mid-Autumn day in the mountains of Sunder, in the small town of Thunderfell. Bodies of goblins and worgs remain strewn about the town, and the bodies of some unfortunate villagers can be seen under massive boulders that appear to have rained down upon the town, destroying several buildings along the way.

The adventurers – Tagar, Aerwyn and Dardiana – are just about to talk to a travelling monk named Kella when a tiefling, clad in wolfskin cloak, arrives at the open drawbridge. He introduces himself as a Ranger of Sunder and member of the Six Swords Society, and explains that he’s come from Vandalin after overhearing conversations between Talia Thornton and some ne’er-do-wells. It seems the acting Townmaster has sent men to search the western road to Mittel and take care of the adventurers. The tiefling has travelled by foot, and believes he’s just beaten these would-be-assassins to Thunderfell – but they are not far behind. Dardiana and Aerwyn talk to Kella to understand what may have happened, but her answers are unconvincing and don’t appear to line up with information provided by Talia. Then, the sound of horses spurs the group into action – Aerwyn and Tagar close the drawbridge, while Dardiana entreats Kella to hide in the inn.

On the far side of the moat are seven men on horseback, cloaked and armed. Carnacki, the tiefling, recognises one of them as a thug-for-hire from Lastlight, named Kenric. The leader of the group entreats them to open the gate, but when the party don’t cooperate they wheel their horses around and turn back toward Vandalin. When the adventurers climb down from the watchtowers, they find that Kella is gone. Her tracks lead to the palisade wall and then vanish; Tagar spots some handholds that she could have used if she was particularly good at climbing, and an empty flask at the foot of the wall, but there are otherwise no signs of how she made her escape.

Using a combination of elbow grease, teamwork and sorcery, the adventurers bridge the smashed walkway to the damaged keep and enter to discover four guards and the body of Lady Nandar, the ruler of Thunderfell. The guards explain that, a few days ago, a strange cloud appeared over the skies of Thunderfell, and the sky began to rain massive boulders. Lady Nandar was one of the first victims, with the keep’s upper floors taking the brunt of the damage. With the keep cut off, the villagers and guards in town fled west, led by a dwarf innkeeper named Morak. Once the town was clear, gigantic figures – humanoid in shape, but impossibly tall – effortlessly floated down and took an obisidian obelisk that has sat within the town square for time immemorial. Aerwyn sketches the Old Tharnic runes he’d seen previously at the Valley of the Fallen Magisters, and one of the guards recognises the rune that could represent wind, cloud or spirit. When Carnacki asks about what happened to Lord Nandar, the guards explain that he was killed some years back in a hunting expedition in the nearby forest by elves. It appears that relationships between the local wood elves and humans are somewhat frosty; the wood elves feel the land to be theirs, as Thunderfell belonged to the elven kingdom that was all but destroyed in the Great War.

The adventurers return to the town itself with the guards, and take a short rest to rejuvenate themselves. As the party restock their quivers from the ruins of the general store, the guards explain that the surviving villagers most likely fled to the Dripping Caves. These are a series of caverns known to locals that are about a mile up the road, not far from where the track branches out to the Tree of Stars. The Tree, they say, is protected by an ancient druid named Verreban, who is old enough to have lived through the Great War that destroyed the old empires, killed the dragons and sheared the mountains of Sunder. He hasn’t been seen much lately, and it’s said that an old hag lurks up near the Tree. The guards also identify the tressym cat that has befriended Dardiana as ‘Rellix’, who belongs to the Kelbrin family.

As they rest, Carnacki explains to them about the battles against the Redcloaks and necromancer of Vandalin. He also passes on news from Rosie Thurn, bartender at Stonehill’s Inn, that the elderly man that the adventurers brought into town has been abducted by Talia Thornton’s men and sent along the eastern road, a treacherous track leading past Widowsreach and from there to the hills of the Heathlands. Carnacki’s travelling companion, a half-orc wizard named Rastus, is in pursuit. 

In mid-afternoon, as the adventurers prepare to visit the Dripping Caves, a band of twenty orcs comes through the woods. Some appear wounded, and a number have elf-arrows protruding from their backs. The guards and adventurers climb the watchtowers and use their spells and bows to ward off the attackers. Aerwyn picks off a number of orcs exploring the western wall, but the orcs spot a gap in the eastern palisade near the keep’s walkway, and make their way through the moat. Many are slain along the way, and between Carnacki’s swordplay and Dardiana’s thunderwave spell they manage to fight back the assault. Tagar positions himself on the eastern-most tower, and concentrates his fire on the already-wounded orc boss. The orcs sense themselves to be in trouble and try to leave the moat, only for a band of elves to emerge from the southern woods. They kill the surviving orcs with a volley of arrows and then turn and disappear back into the forest.

When dawn breaks the next day, the adventurers leave and track the villagers’ footsteps to the Dripping Caves. As they enter the massive cavern, the darkvision of Aerwyn, Tagar and Carnacki spot three goblin sentries and an ogre having a mud-bath. Carnacki’s skills allow him to sneak forward unobserved, and he attacks the ogre in its bath. Tagar mystically marks the ogre as his quarry and makes his attack, but Aerwyn’s fire bolt goes wide. In the moment that the mystical fire illuminates the cavern, Dardiana spots another ogre lurking behind the stalagmites. Using her vicious mockery, she causes it to flee. Seeing the chaos, two of the goblins flee – one in the same direction as the ogre, another down a tunnel on the far side of the main cavern. After the two rangers down the ogre and Aerwyn slays the remaining goblin sentry, the adventurers venture down the tunnel where the lone goblin disappeared. It’s slain by Tagar, and the party discovers a half-dozen villagers in a pit, covered in guano. They rescue them by throwing down ropes. One of them, Morak, explains that they’d fled here but were ambushed by goblins. Some villagers have been slain, and they’re not sure how many are left.

At this point, the surviving ogre and a number of goblins emerge from one of the tunnels. Their leader – a wizened goblin named ‘Boss Hark’ who wears a ridiculous headdress – offers to parlay (he’s seen what these adventurers can do as has little interest in a fight to the death, after all). After some negotiation, which includes slaying a ‘black blob’ or paying for taking his ‘larder’, Dardiana and Carnacki pay 200 gold between them as a bribe for the surviving villagers – 30 in all, including those that they’d already found.

As the party lead the bedraggled survivors from the Dripping Caves, the villagers thank the adventurers and make some entreaties of the group:

  • A Tiefling lad named Kailen Pavel explains that his mother, Temperance Pavel, was killed in the caves. He asks Carnacki and the others whether they’d travel to Byeldrir – a city in the frostbitten southern land of Themgir, not far from where Carnacki grew up – and tell Temperance’s parents that their only daughter has passed away. Kailen isn’t sure whether he will stay in Thunderfell, the only home he’s known, or go to Themgir himself. Temperance’s parents are Tharm and Anguish Pavel, and they run the furriers on Three Towns Lane.
  • The priest, Heyek Meltrum, recognises the tressym as the pet of Melantha and Lathan Kelbrin, both of whom died in the initial attack on the town. Heyek tells Dardiana and Aerwyn that Kelbrin’s son lives in Gilder, and he’d no doubt appreciate it if they visited him there and returned the tressym. The son’s name is Tor Kelbrin.
  • Morak the dwarf recognises Tagar’s Heathlander accent. He says that Darthag Goodbrace, who ran the local trading post and was slain by goblins, was a wealthy retiree who’d set up a successful trading company with his ex-wife and daughter, Alara and Lena. Alara is now based out of Thistleton, and Morak would appreciate it if the adventurers could tell her the sad news.

 

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Session 6: The Bells of Thunderfell
Goblin-slaying aplenty

The weather becomes overcast as the adventurers leave the Valley of the Fallen Magisters and turn south to Vandalin. As they rejoin the main road, an uncomfortable drizzle begins. Strange clouds mass above the mountains to the west, near the border with Mittel, and for a moment they catch the scent of incense upon the wind.

Their travelling companion, the eccentric Septeminian man named Parasmus, has settled down a little now that he’s away from the Fallen Magisters. Indeed, it seems the further away he gets from it, the better he is. He doesn’t have a strong recollection of how he got to the Valley, but he recalls that his sextant, found in either the market or library of Vindabona and now either lost or destroyed, whispered to him and lead him there. Tagar mutters under his breath that the sextant is likely cursed, and the adventurers all agree that it’s best the mysterious device isn’t coming along for this trip.

Aerwyn and Dardiana ask Parasmus questions about his childhood and the Six High, both of which he’d mentioned earlier. Parasmus explains that the Six High are a term he uses to describe the races of Giants that pre-date the dragons and humanoid races, and who ruled this land long ago before there were any human empires. The Giants were very different from one another, and were bound by a compact. He doesn’t know what happened to them, but knows that they retreated from the world long ago. That said, when he was a child on a beach near Vindabona, he saw one of the Six High rising from the sea. He recalls she approached him and smiled, but she was then ushered back under the waves by a distant figure. Parasmus hopes that a druid named Verreban, who lives in this region, may be able to help understand the mystery of the rune-carved obsidian hidden by the Fallen Magisters.

Vandalin is a small town on a gentle hill. Behind the town, to the south, they can see a group of perhaps 30 or more people packing up tents and possessions. The town itself looks quiet, but the adventurers quickly identify that the remains of an old manor house has been recently set alight, as it still has smoke balefully rising from the ruins. When they enter the town proper, Tagar gets directions from a man named Tobias. He leads them to the Miner’s Exchange, where they meet a woman named Talia. Talia explains that a group of brigands, named the Redcloaks, have been run out of town within the past few days, and that the (unnamed) necromancer who led these brigands has recently fled on horseback. The Redcloaks’ time in Vandalin coincided with a series of disappearances; the manor has been the base of operations for these enemies for some months, and the villagers have now extracted their revenge by burning the remains of the headquarters. Questions around the Rangers of Sunder and Altamarian garrison don’t get the adventurers far; the members of the garrison appear to have vanished some months back (before the arrival of the Redcloaks), while the Rangers have hit the road to the south to defeat some goblins near Redpeak and see if they can find any sign of the necromancer. Talia does ask some questions around the ‘Six Swords Society’, but the adventurers say they’ve never heard the term before.

Following Talia’s recommendation, the adventurers head back around to Stonehill’s Inn, which is run by Tobias. Dardiana playing a fine song on her mandolin that guarantees both free food and drink, and also lodging for Parasmus. Aerwyn chats to the waitstaff, Rosie, and discovers that

  • Verreban is a druid who protects the Tree of Stars, which is located a few miles past Thunderfell.
  • Thunderfell is a village built near the elven ruins that mark the old border between Mittel and Sunder.
  • The village has recently become more built-up (i.e., within the past twenty or thirty years).

From previous information, the adventurers also know that a Hag has been seen near the Tree of Stars.

 

As the adventurers travel through the town, they see the remains of the battles that had been fought here. A tavern is closed up, and stinks of death. A fine building, once the Townmaster’s Residence, has been burned to the ground – and at least two charred sets of bones can be found amongst the rubble. Dardiana also chats to a man by the apple orchard near the town gates, while Aerwyn explores the half-built church and meets Sister Garael, a Mittelian elf who worships Marianus. The adventurers speak again with Talia at the Miner’s Exchange. She says that the recently-deceased townmaster was offering to pay for scalps for the gnolls and orcs harassing Widowsreach, or the goblins down near Redpeak, and she’s willing to honour that. She also asks them for help in passing on news to a travelling monk named Kella that there’s been a death in the family. Kella left a few days ago on the road to Mittel, which would pass through Thunderfell, and was travelling slowly on foot. They may be able to catch up with her if she’s tarried along the way. Talia does warn them that orcs have been seen near Thunderfell, coming up from the south.

The next morning, the adventurers leave for Thunderfell. The weather remains poor, and the road is quieter than that leading to Vandalin. The air gets cooler on the second day as they climb up into the mountain pass. The land here bears the scars of battles past – as the road twists and turns, they catch sight of a cleft mountain, where the phenomenon known as the Shear has sliced deeply into the rocky peak. The trees here are tall and grow close to the road. Filigreed ruins, covered in moss and ivy, can be seen amongst the thick, untamed undergrowth.

The group hear Thunderfell before they see it, due to the continuous ringing of church bells. The adventurers identify several dozen tracks leading north, and 14 smaller sets – goblins! – coming back. There are also two large wolf-like prints. Inside is a mess; several buildings have been haphazardly smashed by gigantic rocks, as has the bridge to the similarly damaged keep. The remains of several townsfolk are found in the rubble, both in the fields and the collapsed homes. 

The battle for Thunderfell is brutal. Two worgs almost kill the adventurers within the first few minutes, and the adventurers go house-by-house, building-by-building to rid the place of goblins. In all, the adventurers slay all 14 foes, but they’re exhausted and their magical resources are much diminished. Soon after Dardiana discovers a tressym (winged cat) in one of the residences (who she promptly names ‘Priscilla’), Tagar and Aerwyn search the square and identify that a statue or something similar has been removed from the town. Tagar then leads them to the partially-destroyed inn, where he’d previously spotted a goblin killed by a crossbow bolt. They help a woman down from the wreckage of the top floor, who introduces herself as Kella.

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