Session 52
Vordakai's Vanquish

The session begins as the party, bruised, battered, and extremely low on resources continue to the lair of Vordakai. Entering the room, Walays begins talking with Vordakai – who arrogantly flaunts his power and is willing to make a deal with the PC’s. As J’varis notices the recently rotting skulls of Nomen upon Vordakai’s thrown, he becomes infuriated and interrupts the discussion by throwing lightning at Vordakai, beginning the fight.

Vordakai turns Andrei onto his side, though Tess breaks the enchantment. Melikova continues to slice at the lich up close and personal. Walays helps debuff Vordakai as J’varis and Walker lay down spells. Whisper helps keep Vordakai pinned down.

Andrei and Tess begin using their holy abilities to cause massive amounts of damage to the evil lich. A soul jar is broken, releasing Barrin, who runs to the place where Vordakai is holding the rest of the soul jars and begins smashing them – releasing the remaining Varnhold citizens. As Andrei lays the final blow upon Vordakai, the freed Varnhold citizens clamber onto his quickly decomposing body to tear the flesh from it.

The chapter ends and the PC’s receive word from Babus that the zombie horde has fallen a mile out of Fort Voronkov and with minimal causalities and damage.

Session 51
Hanging Heads

The session begins as J’Varis ventures further into the crypt, finding Xamanthe standing still, face in pain. As the party catches up, they determine she is paralyzed – luckily Tess carries with her a Remove Paralysis scroll and uses it to free Xamanthe. The Nomen howls from pain of previous torturing, eventually being calmed down and explaining what had happened to her.

Recognizing time is of the essence, the party continues deeper, seeking to kill Vordakai to end the zombie threat. As the PCs barge into the next room, two Soul Eaters begin assaulting them. As their attention is on the outsider threat, Nimbleshanks strikes from behind. Aware of his weakness, J’varis casts slow on him, and a holy beatdown from Tess and Andrei descends upon him. When the dust settles, Nimbleshanks’ head is in Tess’ possession.

Next, a boiling tar pit stands between our heroes and their goal. Using ninja skills, Melikova crosses the tar and scouts ahead. J’varis uses magic and Walays uses dimension door to help the team cross the pit.

As Melikova scouts ahead, she sees more Varnhold citizens being brought down into a dining room to be feasted on by undead cyclops. As the group tries to sneak in, the undead wizard hears the clanking of armor, and fireballs nearby, causing massive damage. The fight breaks out as Walker, Walays, Melokova, Tess, and Andrei attack the cyclops zombies while J’varis chases the wizard up the stairs. Unfortunately, the undead wizard blasts J’varis with flame, burning flesh until he is unconscious. Having mopped up the cyclops, Melikova runs up the back of an enlarged Whisper and kills the wizard who is trying to negotiate an escape.

The session ends as the group prepares for fighting Vordakai.

Session 50
Prudence Passes

The session begins as Melikova slices the throat of the Elasmosarus which rose from the depths. While blood pours from its hide, clearly a beast that large is not so easily deterred from a meal. Andrei and Tess provide a defensive wall as Walker and J’varis strike from range. Shortly into the fight, as a result of a spell J’varis cast, two Zombie Cyclops awake and attack from the rear. Walays grabs Walker and teleport them behind the Zombie Cyclopses and then disappears.

The Elasmosarus, biting off far more than it could chew, is quickly dispatched by Andrei, Tess, Melikova and J’varis who could then turn their attention to the cyclops zombies which were already being well handled by Whisper, Walker and Walays.

The initial foes out of the way, Walker explores the flooded stairs as J’varis guides him to some magical treasure dropped from the Elasmosarus. Deeper into the cairn, artwork of cyclops culture adorns the walls. Melikova sniff out a portcullis trap, preventing it from falling down. Unfortunately, she did miss one trigger, as opening a door causes water from the river outside to start pouring into the room. Tess bends the metal of the portcullis behind the door, allowing everyone to quickly pass through.

The party enters a shrine room, walls adorned with creatures all waiting to be ferried to the land of the dead by Charon. As Tess and Andrei puzzle through what appears to be an offering ceremony, J’varis sees the telltale drag marks of another Nomen and follows the trail. As soon as he opens the doors to follow the draggings, an icy blue fire ignites everyone in the room, causing massive damage as well as impeding the wisdom of Tess and J’varis.

Further prudence suppressed, J’varis charges down the hall in hopes of finding the captured Xamanthe. Unfortunately, he is stopped in his tracks by a Piscodaemon who echoes a booming voice inside J’varis’ head: “Why are you here?” J’varis replies “To save Xamanthe!” to which an ultimatum is given: “Leave this place or die”.

J’varis draws his weapon and the fight is on. The Piscodaemon covers the area in a cloud of stenching fog, preventing most of the party of engaging the beast properly – save Andrei. The daemon puts the hurt on Andrei as J’varis clears the area of the fog. A brutal back and forth fight continues between the PC’s and the Piscodaemon who is slowly being backed into a corner while dishing out quite a bit of damage compared to recent fights. Just as the party feels as though the Piscodaemon is contained, it teleports behind the spellcasters and changes the vector of attack. While the teleporation worked well, it did not turn the tide of battle, as the PC’s finish off the daemon.

The session ends as the Piscodaemon collapses into a pool of water which quickly evaporates away.

Session 49
Wyvern Wrangling

The session begins as our heroes plan an assault on the small zombie cyclops force that seems to be guarding a location. The PC’s split the force in two with good positioning and magic trickery provided by Walays. Andrei takes on the large Zombie Cyclops while Tess channels energy to destroy many of the regular zombies in the horde. Walker turns into a large bird and commands whisper to assault the second group of zombies while J’varis and Melikova provide magical and ranged support.

All of the commotion rouses two Wyverns from their nest on top of peak of an island. Walays finds his way on top of one of the Wyverns while Walker begins an aerial assault on the other. Unfortunately for Walays, J’varis is able to kill the beast in flight, leading to Walays riding the Wyvern crashing into the dirt.

Meanwhile, Walker continues the pursuit on a Wyvern who is quickly retreating back to home. Once the Wyvern get back to its lair, Walker backs it into a corner, which pushes the attack but the Wyvern gets the upper hand in the fight – knocking Walker unconscious and snatching him up to feed on. Walays and Andrei spring to the rescue, and after some negotiation, recover their ally with a promise to leave the Wyverns alone.

The party goes over to the mysterious island, finding an opening inside, and begin exploring the cairn. A ward trap is discovered and avoided using the dimension door wand, but while investigating a flooded cavern an Elasmosaurus rises up to get a bite to eat.

The session ends as the Melikova launches a sneak attack on the Elasmosaurus.

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.


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