Session 48
Heinous Hag

The session begins as the PC’s head to the area known as the Valley of Skulls, the last place Xamanthe was heard from. While Andrei is on watch overnight, suddenly exhaustion floods his mind. He is awoken by a large vicious dog made of shadow trying to devour him. The sounds of the horses scattering and the Shadow Mastiffs charging into the camp is enough commotion to wake the rest of the party – except Tess who is caught in a nightmare unable to wake up.

The howls of the Shadow Mastiffs force Whiskey and Tencendur to flee. Walker, in the shape of a bird, flies over to the twitching Tess and begins pecking her until she awakes. Mayhem is the order of the night as a silhouette barrages the PC’s with magic from a distance. As our heroes finally get an upper hand in the combat – Andrei rushes forth to take care of the creature in the distance. As he approaches, he sees that the figure appears to be that of Casimir. Tess is next to see the silhouette’s identity. She begs the rest of the PC’s to stop firing – and Andrei demands Casimir surrender. He explains that Vordakai has some control over his body and soul, but if the party gets any closer he’ll kill all of the citizens of Varnhold. With an undead army approaching the Shieldlands and the Nomen, the party sees no other choice but to risk the threat of Varnhold’s demise and continue on.

In the morning Tess summons a celestial unicorn to take Casimir to a safe place where Vordakai cannot reach him. The unicorn agrees, though requests in exchange the PC’s search for a horn of one of their fallen brethren. They agree and as Tess and Casimir hug goodbye, the unicorn warns everyone that it senses evil with Casimir. Right at that second, Casimir’s form changes into that of an elderly woman, who sinks her teeth into Tess’ neck. before cackling then disappearing.

Shaken, our heroes, continue into the Valley of Skulls. Near the evening Walker and Melikova spy a small horde of zombies as well as two Cyclops appearing to guard an area. The session ends as the party plans how to assault the undead.

Session 47
Ousting Outsiders

The session begins as the party reacquaints themselves with Tess’ sister, Eve. She has been running the thieves guild for some time and has summoned Tess to convince her to go back to their homeland and free their people. Tess and Andrei balk at the proposal and, with the input of Melikova, Walays, and Walker, a stalemate is reached wherein Eve states she will be leaving in one month, with or without Tess and will be bringing her people back to the Shieldlands.

Around this time, J’varis, a male Nomen approaches the PCs with an urgent message: the Nomen are under assault by a hoard of undead, there is another army on the march towards Fort Voronkov, and a scouting team led by Aeracora’s daughter has been lost while searching for Vordakai. Danide also arrives, dressing down J’varis and ordering him to find safety as she returns to the Nomen tribe to help fight against the undead. After Danide leaves, J’varis states his intention to assist the party with finding and killing Vordakai.

After hiding from the passing undead army, a letter is given to Twig to help prepare for the battle that is coming – furthermore, a mysterious glow to the southeast beckons the heroes to it the next morning. Upon reaching the area emitting the glow, the sky grows dark and fog covers the area. A voice from behind a rock seeks help, and after that voice reveals itself as a Phase Spider named Zzamas, who has had its home stolen by evil Xills. The group agrees to help, goes down into the tunnels and kill the Xill without much trouble. The session ends as the party plans to investigate the area where Xamanthe was last seen.

Session 46
Head Hunting

The session begins as the PCs head back to Varnhold, Danide Thunderhoof in tow, with a small contingent of centaurs who will constitute a joint task force to keep Varnhold secure as the fate of the denizens are determined. Tensions rise as the four remaining Varnhold guardsmen are informed of the deal worked out by the Shieldlands. There remains an underlying cold disgust between the Varnhold guardsman and the Nomen as our heroes head back home.

Two weeks or so is spent by each PC fulfilling their obligations to the kingdom as well as introducing Danide to Shieldland’s culture – including taking her on a boat, exploring religious traditions, song and dance, military drills, and generally seeing the lands. Over this time, Babus discusses his desire to become more of a father figure to Jodi as well as set up the magic academy – and will be unable to continue the adventuring life. Walker determines that the Will ’o Wisps that haunt Candlemere Isle are too much for him to handle alone and he will need more help to complete clearing the area out for his future grove. Melikova spends time with urchins and her kobolds that have discovered a rising thieves guild led by a mysterious “queen mudder”. Tess gets a note from her sister claiming she has found someone who can take them back to their homeland. Andrei and Liliya spend more time getting to know one another,

One nights, everyone is awoken by the shouting of the guards. Tess, Andrei, and Walker awake to the heads of a loved one in their lap – whereas Walays receives a note, written in blood ominously saying “Nice Home. See You Soon.” Walker rides out to his sister’s to ensure she is safe, startling her awake and scaring her half to death. After a scramble, and a broken nose of a guard, the group discovers these heads have been magically manipulated to appear as people they are not. When Walker returns, he gets the note from Walays and attempts to scry on Nimbleshanks – only to find Nimbleshanks is moving too fast for the sensor.

Learning an old threat has returned – Tess sends a message to Beldame to see if she would be willing to meet, which she agrees to. An agreement is made where Beldame provides a scroll of Slow in exchange that Tess would be under a geas to return with Nimbleshank’s head. A cautious truce is made, and the group heads out the next day to meet with Evangeline – Tess’ sister and (presumably) the Queen Mudder.

Session 45
Pachyderm Pugilism

The session begins as the party spends the next few days acclimating to the Nomen tribe as well as dealing with the intricacies of politics – especially given the recent war between the Nomen and Varnhold. Aecora Silverfire and Walays have several exchanges where the grievances of the Nomen are outlaid and deftly countered. After many of these back and forths, it is agreed upon that a year will be given to the Shieldlands to investigate the fate of the Varnhold denizens. The town of Varnhold will be jointly held by the Nomen and the Shieldlands. If the Varnhold citizens are found alive, the Shieldlands will help broker a truce acceptable to all parties.

Elsewhere, Walker and Whisper hunt small game with Danide Thunderhoof while Tess spends time with the local shamans and observes their ways. Tess inquires if the Shaman have ever heard of a soul being stolen and while they cannot give her an answer immediately, they promise to look into it for her and let her know if they can.

After the political deals are sealed, Aercora informs the PCs that Danide will be sent with them as the Nomen’s representative in the cultural exchange. She also invites the party to take place as honored guests in their traditional mastodon hunt – the PC’s will distract the bull mastodon while the rest of the hunting party splits a mastodon from the herd and kills it.

The hunting group travels around half of a day until the reach the site of a ancient dead linnorn. The Nomen ceremonially present the site with a large selection of meat and wine in attempts to keep the linnorm’s spirit happy so that it does not return to wreck havoc. Near the evening they finally reach the mastodon herd.

Walays begins by fascinating the bull mastodon, though the threat from the approach by Walker and Whisper breaks the spell, allowing the mastodon to charge Walays. Andrei springs into action and grabs Walays while on horseback and drags him out of the way. The bull mastodon then charges Walker and Whisper to defend his harem. Babus sends Twig to deliver a spell, but the Mastodon sees through the mirror images and delivers a blow to Twig which sends him flying and nearly dead. Walays scrambles to revive Twig and also sets an illusory grass fire to split the bull from his harem. The bull then turns his attention to Whisper, and beats the wolf into unconsciousness. Tess blinds the beast as well as has it belted with stones while Babus confuses it, summons a dire ape on its back, traps his back legs into a pit, and blankets the area in a stinking cloud.

The session comes to a close as the Nomen sound the horn of a successful kill and the PCs remove themselves from the bull mastodon’s territory.

Session 44
Nomen Negotiation

The session begins as our heroes contemplate what to do with the three bounty hunters who have been searching for Melikova. Dawning a cloak to hide her identity and with the aid of a zone of truth cast by Tess and advice from Walays, the bounty hunters are interrogated. They find that Melikova has a bounty on her head for treason by the King-Reagent of Brevoy. After completing the questioning, Melikova tells the bounty hunters to leave and never return but has Mikmek follow them out.

After preparing for a journey, the party heads out to find the Nomen. While traveling towards a marking found at a map in Varnhold the PCs are swarmed by a howling and whooping group of Nomen out on patrol. A tense standoff begins as Tess, being the only women in view, is required to speak for the group to the Nomen who will not listen to the men. Andrei produces Skybolt, a bow of ancestral significance for the Nomen and hands it over to the patrol leader who agrees to take them back to their encampment to meet the leader of the Nomen.

Upon reaching the encampment of Dunsward the party begins to suspect that this tribe is drastically short on male centaurs, therefore the men are too valuable to participate in normal society. The PCs are introduced to Mother Aecora Silverfire, leader of the Nomen. Walays, who has transformed himself to appear as a women try to settle differences and mistrust that has occurred between the Nomen and Varnhold as well as other human races for centuries. The team asks about “Vordakai” and a knowing look comes over Aecora’s face. As progress is slowly being made, the conversation is interrupted by Danide Thunderhoof and Xamanthe Silverfire who want the PC interlopers removed. As the guards try to remove Danide and Xamanthe, Danide challenges the party to the “Kankerata Run” to settle this dispute. Andrei, being the best horserider within the party accepts and the challenge is set for noon the next morning.

While Walker goes out to hunt a meal with Whisper, a meal is served the the rest of the group. Tess, unwilling to trust the Nomen quite yet checks for poison, finding the Haggis had been spiked with mushrooms which would sicken them for the race. Aecora visits and personally apologizes, stating the centaur responsible has been punished.

At noon the race is held between Danide and Andrei. The lead is exchanged several times as they tag the stones with bloody hands while dodging from the attacks of the Bulette. While in the homestrech Andrei pulls ahead for good and Danide tumbles while trying to regain the lead. The session ends as the PCs prepare to head home with a member of the Nomen as part of a “cultural exchange” which seeks to bridge the distrust that exists between the two groups and reveal who or what “Vordakai” is.

Session 43
Urbanization Unrest

The session begins as the party requests the presence of the two leaders in what has been a growing feud join them for an airing of grievances as well as arbitration before the conflict spirals further out of control. Representing what is ostensibly the side of business owners within the urban centers is Tanya Novy, owner of Oak & Barley Mill within Fort Voronkov. On the other side of the table is Vid Hospod who finds the ever increasing encroachment into the forests and traditional hunting and trapping lands troubling.

While Tanya seems without too many complaints for the royal council, Vid is full of them, pitting himself as the primary antagonist to the party and while most of his concerns seem reasonable, there is a constant refrain that at some degree this is progress and he cannot fight that. Vid is less sure that the growing kingdom represents progress as his family line has seen more than one kingdom attempt to tame the Stolen Lands and all have failed.

After the discussions have seemed to reach a natural impasse the PCs break to discuss what an appropriate decision would be. Walays finds a brilliant solution wherein the expansion of the Shieldlands is slowed but not stopped and certain hunting territory is reserved. Neither Tanya or VId are completely happy with the solution, but both find it acceptable and are willing to end hostilities – though both are warned that in the future attacks as transpired between them will not be tolerated and be quickly put down.

After the parties leave the meeting, Oleg tells the council of yet another problem: those responsible for some of the missing tax money had been found. It was determined that people were embezzling money to send back to Brevoy in order to help their families escape the war-torn region. While understanding what drove these people to their actions, the PCs still demand the debt be worked off though no further punishment would be applied.

The session ends as the party finishes their duties to the kingdom and prepares to venture out to find the Nomen and discover their part in the Varnhold Vanishing.

Session 42
Major Mysteries

The session begins as the Svartalfar whispers his final words into Tess’ ear. As the rest of our heroes gathers around Casimir’s corpse, Tess reveals the Svartalfar said that he was just returning to his Queen and his death means nothing.

The PCs investigate the rest of the tower, finding a exquisite ebony and darkwood bow seemingly of Nomen craft, the +2 Defending Aldori Dueling Sword of Maegar Varn, as well as a large map with a pin out in the grasslands area. Through deduction, they assume this may be a Nomen camp of some type. The rest of the day is spent scouting the town where Walker happens upon a calico cat hiding in one of the now abandoned houses. He lures it out with his Druish cunning, befriends it, and adopts it. The party also investigates the domicile of Willas Gundarson, a Ulfen ranger wherein they find his journal detailing his discovery of the bracelet which piqued the interest of the scholar. Furthermore, a ring of friend shield and folding boat is discovered.

Casimir’s body is loaded onto a cart to be returned back to Fort Vorokov and Jhod is sent a magical message where the team learns that things have further deteriorated between the rural and urban members of the kingdom.

As the PC’s reach Svetlanagrad they decide to rest for the night. Svetlana secretly passes Melikova a note guised as a receipt. Unfortunately for Svetlana, Melikova felt the need to wake her up by sneaking into Oleg and Svetlana’s room and interrogating her.

Before leaving in the morning from Svetlanagrad, Walker uses speak with animals with the cat, learning her name is “Dragon” and that she had heard a ‘birdsong’ that summoned its “feeders.”

Upon returning to Fort Voronkov there is much to do. Jhod discusses the situation with the party, Casimir’s men are informed of their leader’s passing, Jodhi and Babus are reunited, and Lord Eldrist is informed of his brother’s passing. Johdi has been investigated and no wrongdoing is suspected.

Sergeant Dobri Hanak assumes leadership of Casimir’s patrol and inform the PC’s that they seek to return to Varnhold and seek vengeance upon the Nomen. Andrei and Walays convince Dobri to give them some time as it doesn’t appear as though the Nomen may be responsible for this vanishing. Dobri also wishes to return Casimir’s body back for proper burial, but Tess requests they leave it in a tomb built by Jhod in the interim for the time being. Knowing Casimir’s feelings for Tess, Dobri does not push the issue.

Furthermore, three men have been captured, seeking Melikova for crimes against the Brevic crown. Melikova was given advanced warning through the note provided by Svetlana, but the party is unsure how to deal with this and are currently letting them sit as more important things are taking priority.

Walker goes to see Kimber and let her know what has happened to Varnhold. Her response is a mix of anger and worry, as Barrin’s fate is unknown. Walker gifts Kimber the cat Dragon, as Kimber unfortunately finds out she has a severe allergy to cats.

Finally, Walays seeks out his Kobold allies to report on the rival factions that have been causing havoc in the past weeks. He learns the rural faction is led by Vid Hospod whereas the urban faction is led by the owner of the local Fort Vorokov mill, Tanya Novei. Each are hoping to influence how the kingdom grows, if at all, and come from very different points of view. The session ends as the party prepares a summit with the two factions to work out the differences in an amenable way to both parties.

Session 41
Fallen Friend

The session begins as an ambush has left Walker blind, damaged, and poisoned while Andrei and Whisper arrive next to Walker to defend their ally. Walays is able to glitterdust the lurker in light requiring it to fall back to the main stockade tower. A second lurker in light attacks, but Tess disrupts its invisibility by casting an invisibility purge on herself, creating a sphere where the lurker in light are unable to get close to her without revealing themselves. Andrei and Casimir quickly pounce on the fey, pummeling it. Just as they are about to end the beast, it vanishes in a bright light. Also revealed, is a Will-o-wisp floating ominously above their heads. Walker and Babus each summon a large bat to help seek out the lurkers and the will-o-wisp. Melikova snipes from a distance, marking each creature with an arrow in case they are able to turn invisible again. The will-o-wisp flies away from the fight, disappearing, but is pursued by the two bats.

The party slowly approaches the primary tower, keeping within Tess’ invisibility purge bubble, but as she is leading the march, a spiked pit trap opens up underneath her. In what was probably the most graceful maneuver ever seen by the PC’s, Tess is able to deftly dive across the opened earth and avoid a potentially lethal fall. Realizing the area may be trapped, Melikova moves up and begins ensure the area is safe before progressing forward. The front door of the tower is barred from within, but Melikova is in her element and is able to quickly free the barring, allowing the party access. Twig, seeing a large conspiracy of ravens, flies up to see why they are there. He finds they sense death approaching and warns Babus of his concern. Though, while talking to the ravens, he sees a rather comely female Raven and asks Babus permission to pursue her – which Babus grants, much to Babus’ chagrin as empathic waves of lust begin flooding Babus’ thoughts.

Melikova, Andrei, Casimir, Tess, and Walays head into the cramped tower while Babus, Walker, and Whisper investigate rest of the stockade while avoiding cramping up the area too much. Unfortunately for our heroes, the tight quarters was exactly where the evil fey wanted them and as one of the fey is discovered hiding in the armory, an ambush is sprung. Walays and Andrei are assaulted from the side as Casimir, Tess and Melikova are drawn into the armory, only to be flanked by two other fey. A 3-on-1 fight for the grimstalker was quickly ended, but this left Tess to face a new fey essentially 1-on-1 as the doorway was the center of the fight and no one could get through, while Andrei and Walays were tied up with another grimstalker.

Outside, Babus and Walker are ambushed by the now invisible lurkers in light. Whisper, able to smell the fey, is able to grab one in its mouth while Babus retreats into the storehouses where the light is lowered, hoping to lure it inside and blast it when it becomes visible. Whsiper treats the fey like a oversized chew toy and rips it to shreds, while Babus burned the fey when it came into the storehouse and finished it off by smashing it over the head with a quarterstaff. Babus then flies to the roof of the tower, in order to secure a rope which would allow Walker to climb up the top and breach the tower from above. Hiding up on the roof, however, is the previously glitterdusted lurker in light. Using quick thinking, Babus casts a freezing spell to entangle the lurker, which interrupts his ability to fly, causing it to plummet to the ground.

Inside, Tess and the Svartalfar have been trading blows, but after he hits her with an exhaustion spell, she backs off to regain her composure. Casimir takes her place in the front of the battle, protecting Melikova and Tess, to battle the Svartalfar. After killing one of the grimstalker, Andrei and Walays begin attacking the last grimstalker which blocks their path to the Svartalfar. In one quick move, the Svartalfar runs Casimir through, and as a thin layer of ice overs his skin, he falls back dead. A dilemma now faces Tess, who posses a scroll which allows her to potentially bring Casimir back if she uses it immediately, but as it is a single use item, they would no longer bring one of the Shieldland’s leaders back from the brink if they were to fall in combat. She says a quick prayer to Gorum, and unleashes her fury upon the Svartalfar, finishing him off.

The session ends as the Svartalfar whispers something in Tess’ ear as they stand above Casimir’s fallen corpse.

Session 40
Varnhold Vanishing

The session begins as the PCs regroup from the fight with the Chuul. While they figure out what to do, Walker shape shifts into a gar and searches the river – only to find a secret tunnel which leads sound into the town before returning to the group. As the sun is setting, Tess suggests that they take shelter for the night and finish exploring the town in the morning. Walays suggests the brewery, which Andrei rejects despite wide approval, so Casimir tells them of the inn just ahead. Melikova, the only one in the party capable of darkvision, finds the inn has “NOMEN” hastily carved into the door, and inside finds a humanoid figure glowing of amber in the corner next to a stack of books. Unwilling to risk approaching alone, Walker decides to head in and investigate. He finds a grimstalker frozen in place, book in hand. Curious as to what the books are about, Walker takes it from the grimstalker and begins reading the book.

After several minutes of silence, Tess decides to check on Walker, who is now frozen as well. Tess gets Babus who identifies that Walker is under the Sephia Snake Sigil spell and while he is frozen in time, if they want to release him from the spell they will need to cast dispel magic. Tess says she will ask Gorum for that ability in the morning, so the party explores the rest of the inn to ensure it is safe to stay in. Only one room appears to of been occupied and Babus determines it is the somewhat famous wizard and maestro Ernst Gavinport. A note beside some more books details that he has been invited down to investigate a bracelet found during an expedition. Further investigation reveals a note written next to charcoal sketching of the bracelet to suggest it may be a religious artifact to a nomen god named “Vordakai”.

During the early morning watch, Andrei sees a small globe of light about 6 to 8 feet above the ground, slowly going down the main road of the town. He calls over Babus who determines it is not a will ‘o whisp, but instead something with daylight cast upon it. Everyone is woken up and a debate is had over what to do about this mysterious light as it heads back past the inn. Walays decides to cast glitterdust at the object, only to reveal a small winged creature which Babus identifies as a ’Lurker in Light’. The Lurker in Light, realizing it has been exposed quickly flies off, only to be spied by Twig headed for the Varnhold Stockade. They decide to wait until morning to deal with this new threat.

In the morning Walker turns into a hawk and flies over to the stockade and looks to see if he can find anything. The rest of the PC’s head up the road to the stockade on horseback. Seeing the gate to the stockade is closed, Walker prepared to open it once the party closes in. As he shifts back into his human form and opens the gates from the inside he is hit with a spell which leaves him blind. Walker calls for Whisper as the group begins closing the distance between them and Walker. Walker is then stabbed from behind and poison begins to course into his body. The session ends as Walker, flanked now by Andrei on horseback and Whisper, spins around and blasts the area behind him with a frozen barrage.

Session 39
Bountiful Banquet

The session begins as Tess demands answers from the captives regarding their entire story before they’re handed over to the Church of Erastil in Varnhold. They admit that they stole the scroll from the church, leading to the PCs losing what little sympathy they did have towards them.

Casimir interrupts the interrogation to point out that the haven’t seen any guards along the road in which is unusual. Babus sends Twig out to fly over the town, only to have him report back that there is no one around. Melikova and Walays go ahead into the town to scout out.

They find every building they look in abandoned and covered in dust, food left half eaten. As Walays explores a farmhouse, he sees two large dire boars eating what is left of the other pigs innards. The boars attack and Melikova and Walays retreat up to the roofs of buildings to protect themselves as the rest of the party charges into the town. After the party kills the two boars, they continue to scout the town.

A river runs through the center of town, which used to have a bridge to cross, though it has broken off and been swept downstream. As Melikova crosses in the shallowest part of the river, a giant Chuul rises our of the deep section of the river and attacks. A brutal fight ensues with the party – though they slew the beast after taking quite a beating themselves.

The evening is fast approaching with a large section of the seemingly deserted town left to investigate to find what has happened to the denizens of Varnhold as the session ends.


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