Adventures in the Nentir Vale DC

Session 1: The Road to Fallcrest

Four brave souls found themselves among the passengers of a horse drawn wagon driven by the merchant Traevus. With them were two others, an eladrin in wizardly robes and a human in dire need of a bath.

As they were winding their way through the Moon Hills of the Nentir Vale surrounding Fallcrest, with mere twilight illuminating their way, the wagon was ambushed by a group of goblins. Before the group had a chance to repel the assault, a gruesome zombie emerged from the nearby brush and charged into the wagon. The wagon was sent toppling over the edge of the road and down the hill, landing in a nearby swamp. A few of the party were injured in the crash, but Enola and Keldril managed to survive relatively unscathed and emerged from the wagon to face a small horde of goblins rushing down from the road.

With the raiders descending upon the wreck Enola and Keldril decided discretion was the better part of valor, and hid in nearby brush as the goblins looted the wagon and its occupants. After the goblins departed the drow and the human gathered what was left of the survivors and broke camp near the wreckage. Traevus discovered that the goblins took a prized possession of his, a family heirloom inside an ornate wooden box. He begged the survivors of the crash to help track down and return this heirloom, and the party hesitantly accepted his quest. At dawn break the party left Traevus to tend to the wounded eladrin and get back to the safety of Fallcrest as they begun the task of tracking the attackers.

Several hours of unproductive wandering in the nearby hills did eventually lead them to some caves that appeared to be the hideout of the goblins that attacked the party the day before. After dealing with a few wolves and goblins the party dove into the dark caves to discover that they led to an ancient underground temple built by minotaurs thought long gone.

As they entered the temple they were greeted by yet more goblins, as well as a guard drake. The party quickly dealt with these foes as well, and even a vile goblin hex thrower proved to be no match for their swords and arrows.

After gazing into a magical pool that seemed to show them a not too distant future or possibly a nearby location, the party decided to venture deeper into the temple, following the bloody tracks of a goblin that managed to escape their wrath.

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Session 2: Excerpt from the Journal of Keldril: Drow Ranger
We came, we explored, we got beat up!

Journal of Keldril Rilynrahel
Entry 14aug1479

Excerpt…

My journey with this strange band of adventurers continues. We delved deeper into the dungeon we have been exploring, following the blood trail of the goblin we had previously wounded. We are still hoping to find the wooden chest that was taken from Traevus. Any other loot we can find along the way, which has been a little so far, is a bonus.

Upon entering another set of rooms, we were set upon by many rats and goblins. We made quick work of them. I even managed to get off a rapid shot, killing three goblins at once. We quickly explored the area, after Anderson pulled the Knight Enola out of a pit. We found a dwarven inscription on the back of a statue of a minotaur warrior statue. Luckily Enola can read dwarven and was able to translate. It seemed like gibberish, but at the end mentioned something about Morgana having been driven mad. This brought a calm over the group. We need to investigate this Morgana person more.

We followed the goblin blood trail down a long corridor, opening the set of double doors we found at the end. Inside was a dragon. Not a large one, maybe the size of large bear, but a dragon none-the-less. It was a gorgeous white dragon. Through sheer luck we managed to avoid being eaten by the dragon and even managed to acquire it’s help. It told us of Malarath, the warlock, who has been using the dungeon. Malarath must be the one we saw when our wagon was attacked. He was the one who ran off with the box that we seek. The dragon offered us our lives in exchange for Malarath’s head. Seemed like a fair trade, we took it. We noticed a magic circle in the floor of the dragon’s lair. It was a teleportation portal, to where, we are unsure. Unfortunately, it appears too old and worn to still be usable. The magic had faded. We inquired about the goblin we had been chasing, as we had noticed that the blood trail stopped in front of the dragon. He showed us the remains of the body, which he had frozen to eat later, having had his fill earlier with the first half of said goblin. Better him than us.

We took our leave of the dragon, promising to return with Malarath’s head, and pushed further into the dungeon. We encountered a rather nasty bugbear, wielding a life draining axe. In time we dispensed with him and his goblin buddies, picking up the axe to take with us in the process. We found a flaming urn that had the Eternally Burning Embers from Elemental Chaos inside of it, but none of us could do anything with it. At this point our group was left with two options. One set of double doors could be seen to have large amounts of foot traffic in the dust and dirt in front of it, obviously well used. There was another set of double doors however, in an adjoining room, that had very little, if any, foot traffic. We chose to take the path less traveled. This choice nearly cost us our lives.

Having traversed a deserted corridor, we entered a room with three town guards (mercenaries for hire) and a doppelganger. The doppelganger took on the form of our Rogue, Solaris, and mostly hid in the back. The guards beat us up pretty bad with several in our group having to be brought back from the brink of death, Solaris in particular, who must have pissed the gods off somehow as she and Enola took the brunt of the attack, but in the end, we vanquished them. As the last guard lay on the ground, his life blood and last breath slowly leaving his body, the doppelganger, Jixin, surrendered to us. After some slight persuasion, Enola pressing her longsword against the doppelganger’s throat, she told us that she was a mercenary whom Malareth had hired and that her life was worth more than what he was paying her. She informed us that Malarath’s lab was just down a corridor off this room and that he had been practicing Necromancy. She also mentioned that she did see him come in the other day with a box under his arm, grinning like a fledgling dwarf who’d just received his first axe. That’s the box we’re looking for. Having no other information for us, we decided to let her go. She gave us a potion of healing as her thanks. Further investigation of the room revealed an altar that produced an aura of evil, which we quickly avoided, a statue of a female minotaur, and a statue of Baphomet. The statue of Baphomet had two large eyes made of moon stone, which the Rogue quickly relieved it of.

It has been a long hard day of exploring and my new friends and I, of whom I am still a bit wary, but am quickly warming too, as they seem to be warming up to me, are extremely tired. We’ve decided to bed down in this chamber for a bit of rest, with me on first watch and Anderson setting up a barricade around our position near the female minotaur statue. As the night has worn on it has not been a restful sleep. I have heard what sounds like stone shifting scraping stone in the adjacent room and screams coming down the corridor that Jixin told us led to Malarath’s lab. Tomorrow we shall hopefully put an end to this Malarath, collect the box we came to find, and return it Traevus.

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Session Three: Excerpt from Enola's Journal
Bittersweet Victory

Still in this stupid bunch of caverns. Alister loved cave-crawling so much more than I do, but now that still air and damp walls remind me of him, I still don’t really like them but they make me miss him and seem kind of comforting at the same time, as if we were still going on adventures, except without him and with this bunch (Anderson has a giant dog, Applejack, that smells like — well, wet dog — but is really nice, Keldril is really really good with his bow and Solaris fights really sneaky and well with her dagger and short sword, though I still feel like I should maybe watch my money pouch around her). Anyway.

After a good (well as good as it gets in a smelly cave with no fresh air) sleep and enough time to patch up, we kept on moving. There were stone-scrapy noises behind one door, reminded me of that underground keep with all the secret passages, but it turned out it wasn’t anything like that. Solaris went first to check, seeing as she’s all sneaky and stuff, and then we followed her in when she reported back that there weren’t any goblins or anything. The floor was all checkered like a checkerboard and there were statues of giant white chess pieces (so I guess it was checkered like a chess board) on the far side: a queen, a bishop, a knight, a tower (well, an elephant carrying a tower) and a bunch of foot soldiers. We all figured it was a chess game and that there was magic involved, and so we talked for a while about what to do. I was a bit nervous that we would actually have to play, since I know how the pieces move and eat each other but don’t know so much about the strategy part yet (I’m pretty sure Alister was trying to let me win a bunch more times than I actually won, though he said I was getting better and I believe him) and because it’s hard to figure out plans when you’re not looking down like you would on a normal chessboard that isn’t 10 times bigger than you, but it turns out that we didn’t really have to do that.

So Solaris stepped onto the checkered part of the floor first. She looked ok, so I went next. I stepped on the queen’s square and I guess the room was all magicked up (later, Anderson found some rune stuff that proved it) because all of a sudden I got this picture in my head of me, but a statue and wearing heavy armor and a crown and a scepter like a chess queen). The others stepped on squares too – Keldril went on the same one I did, Anderson went on a bishop square and Applejack went on the king square. Nothing happened (except I guess they felt that same weird chess piece thing that I did). So we were moving around a bit, then the dog tried to move two squares, then yipped and went back a square, then the statues started moving and attacking us. It wasn’t like a normal chess game, thank Pelor, where pieces get jumped (or stomped in this case) and “killed” (or maybe just killed in this case). We had to move the way “our” chess pieces moved, and the statues moved the way they were supposed to, but the some could try to smash us if they landed next to us (not on us). Kind of not following the rules, but I guess the magician who made it didn’t care about that.

Anyway. So we eventually defeated them. I mostly stood there and took hits, but the others fought really well, even Applejack (what kind of a name for a dog, especially a magical one, is that anyway?), though it was kind of his fault that the statues started moving anyway, and he got smacked a couple of times. So we eventually get to the doors on the other side of the room and open them to find…that place where I fell through the rug over the trap.

So then we turned around and went up the corridor to where the dopplerganger (sic) said the evil wizard was going to be. Solaris heard some bubbling noises through the door, but we couldn’t tell what they were. She tried to open the door sneakily, but we get noticed anyway. It was a big room, full of books and potions and bottles and beakers and other things. Malarath was there at a table near the opposite end, doing stuff that I couldn’t see (later, my companions told me that he was holding the box that he took from the dwarf, but it had a human skull in it). There were also three skeletons and a giant ogre zombie. Malarath looked snottily at us and told his undead minions to take care of us, and so they attacked. I was all for staying in the corridor and shielding the rest of the party while they attacked from a distance, which was fine for a while. Then Solaris jumped ahead of us and onto a table (she’s so nimble. Even without all this armor I bet I’d trip and fall on my face). The ogre then grabbed the table out from under her and slammed it against the wall – good thing she was able to jump aside in time!

Then it got really crazy. Solaris started attacking the wizard, who then got really mad and made a cloud of dark smoke that hurt us all and healed the undead. The elf and Keldril kept attacking Malarath (and sometimes the skeletons), and were doing really well at it, while Anderson and I kept trying to hold the corridor and keep the skeletons at bay.

It was rough. Anderson exhausted his healing power on us, and was knocked unconscious. Fortunately I was able to stabilize him and bring him back, then he was able to do the same for Solaris, who got knocked down by the giant ogre (I think. Everything was happening so quickly). Then Keldril, who was making shot after shot at Malarath, even though the wizard magicked up some sort of cloud cover and was being sort-of covered by the ogre zombie, finally killed the evil necromancer. That was some amazing shooting – I don’t think even Alister would have done as well, and he was pretty good with a bow, and all trained and everything. Thankfully, when Malerath dropped, so did the skeletons (we’d managed to kill one, but the other two were still in good – bad for us – shape). But the ogre was still up.

Then the ogre stomped in, reached over me and knocked Keldril to the floor with a single, horrible blow. Not even plate armor could have protected him, I think. He just fell to the floor, all crushed and broken-broken looking, and there was nothing any of us could do – not even the druid, who is really good at healing and medicine stuff. We kept fighting, and it was looking really bad, but then suddenly Jixin, the doppelthinger, came in and started fighting alongside us. That really helped, seeing as we were all pretty beat up and the ogre was really big and stompy and strong.

Eventually we managed to kill it. I don’t even remember who got the killing blow, but it was a huge relief to see that giant body crash to the floor and hear that meaty thud. I went back to Keldril but there was nothing I could do. He was a drow, and I didn’t know him so well, but he was a valorous comrade and a good ranger and he deserves at the very least to be brought back up and properly buried (though maybe drows want to be buried underground, living in the Underdark and all, though he came up here for reasons I never got around to asking him about, so maybe he likes life under the sky) or maybe we can find a priest to resurrect him.

The others searched the area. I think Solaris took the box with the skull in it – that stupid dwarf is going to have a lot of explaining to do when we get back topside. Jixin found some money (which we split). Between the cash and what we can probably get selling that really nice magical axe that I should really use but I don’t want to give up the shield for, we could maybe have enough money to have a resurrection performed.

Then the ogre started moving again! I forget who figured out what we had to do, but we beat him down again and I cut off his head and threw it across the room for good measure. Stupid zombie necrospawn. Oh, then I cut off the head of that cursed necromancer too. I know I’m not supposed to gloat about the defeat of my enemies, because it’s not noble and unworthy of a true knight, but wow that felt really good. And anyway, we had to bring it back to the dragon.

So we took a rest and patched ourselves up and figured out a carrying sling for Keldril’s body, then went back to the dragon. I was nervous that he’d attack us or something, but he just ate the head (I’d be really happy to never ever have to hear that crunch and gloppy swallowing sound again), gave us a suit of magical leather armor (which we gave to Solaris, since she can use it) and told us to get out, which we did as quickly as possible. Then we left – we ran into some kobolds on the way out of the caves, but they didn’t do anything and so we didn’t do anything back.

Gods, the fresh air feels good on my face. More when we get back to town.

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Session Four: Excerpts from Enola's Journal

The rest of them have gone back to town. I’m still here, in the chapel. Now that it’s finally dawn, it’s not quite as creepy, but with the sun coming in the windows I can see how crumbled and overgrown everything is. And of course there’s all the bodies and bits and the icky black stains.

We brought Keldril’s body out of the cave and to Fallcrest, the nearest town. The guards asked us a few questions (which I guess is understandable since we were all messed up and carrying a dead drow) but were nice enough; they gave us an overview of the town and directions to a temple where a priest of Pelor could probably help us. The temple looked all decrepit and sad, but the priest (a dwarf named Grundelmar) was nice, and eventually agreed to try to bring Keldril back if we would help him fix up the building. We also met this drow lady in plate armor, don’t know how to spell her name, who was a friend of Keldril’s and she came along with us.

So he started the ritual and it kept going and going and going. Eventually he said that something was messed up and asked if we had had any necromantic artifacts with us (I think, the others were doing most of the talking). So we told him about the skull and he said it might be messing things up and that we should ask for the help of another goddess: the Raven Queen. So we agreed to meet him at her temple and went to run some errands.

First we went to a general store where they had a townful of halflings running around. They were cute but I was a bit worried about my money pouch. Traded fine there, then went to a magical goods store to sell the axe. We should have known something was wrong when the tiefling kept going to his “back room” for all kinds of stuff. The town guard came and their leader (Faren Markelhay) claimed that the axe had been stolen from his family. We told him what happened in the caves and he sent some scouts to confirm our story (good luck with the dragon, guys). Then he told us not to leave town, which we weren’t going to do anyway because we had this resurrection business to attend to, and left us alone.

After a slog through the forest, we found the temple. Before setting up the ritual, the dwarf told us that one of us would have to dedicate themselves to the Raven Queen in return for her help – as in become her servant after death. So I volunteered. And this raven flew out of nowhere and bit my cheek. It wasn’t a big wound, doesn’t seem infected. Stopped bleeding ages ago, but still twinges now and then. Will definitely leave a scar. I guess she is marking me as her own.

I’m not sure why I agreed to do it so quickly. No one was pressuring me, I know. But I felt obligated to Keldril, I mean yes when you go adventuring you know that you could die at any time, whether cos no one could help it or because your party did something wrong or you were betrayed, but still, we were – are, with the rest of the group and now with Keldril again – a good, functional group, and we take care of each other. And maybe this is sort of a make-up for not having this opportunity when Alister died. Maybe I should have been hers when that happened, and I am getting another chance to serve her now. And it kind of makes sense to serve the Raven Queen, whatever that means. I mean, not like I’m lazing around under an apple tree waiting to die, but we are all going to die anyway, and I kill an awful lot of things and even people (though just the evil ones), and…I should probably finish writing the rest of this down before thinking about this stuff, which is I guess just the sort of stuff you think about on vigils.

Anyway, this temple was even more decrepit than Grundelmar’s place – which was unfortunate, because Grundelmar said that the ritual would not only take a long time, but also probably rile up the undead. So while he set up, we barricaded the place as best we could. Too bad he didn’t tell us beforehand, or we could have gotten some supplies at the general store and done an even better job. Oh and we figured out a puzzle with a bunch of statues with moving parts that opened a secret cubbyhole with healing potions and holy water in it, which was handy.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the night. It went by pretty quickly I guess, but things got pretty hectic after the dwarf started his ritual and the undead began to attack. The dwarf chanting and the candles flickering and the shadows moving and the screaming and moaning outside and then suddenly monsters busting in through the barricades. I think we fought off about three waves of them: zombies and horrible undead-looking dogs and more zombies and other zombie-type things that I’m not sure what they were (Ed. note – gravehounds and corruption corpses).

Finally the dwarf finished his ritual and smashed the skull. Keldril woke up and recognized us and remembered the cave and stuff, but he didn’t remember anything before that – or his friend. And he was, is definitely alive, breathing and with a heartbeat and stuff, but he also looks kinda off: his eyes changed color and he’s sort of scaly in bits. I think the dwarf said he was a remenant? But like I said at least he’s definitely alive, and doesn’t seem evil or possessed or anything. Pelly-what’s her name and he had a talk afterwards. Oh, and we found some treasure: more potions of healing, an amber gem, and some magical plate armor for me. Yay! So now I’m even more like a proper knight, I guess. Which reminds me. Back to the vigil thing.

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Session 5: Hitmen and Shady Dealings

In the aftermath of the battle at the abandoned temple of the Raven Queen, Keldril is returned to the land of mortals. Yet the journey back has transformed the drow into something not quite alive… yet not quite dead. As Keldril struggles to understand what has happened to him and tries to regain the lost memories of his former self, his former lover, Pelanistra, confirms her own dread that the Keldril she knew is no more… Pelanistra departs with little ceremony, leaving Keldril to reconstruct his past alone.

Simliarly, Enola struggles to understand what it is that she really signed up for, and what a pledge of service to the Raven Queen entails. Enola decides to stay another day at the temple to meditate and hold vigil while the rest of the party head back into Fallcrest.

With their drow ally back among them, the party emerge from the Tombwood to be greeted by a contingent of town guards led by Sarge. The scouts dispatched by Faren Markelhay to find proof of Malareth’s demise have yet to return, and suspicions of the party’s involvement in the theft of Faren’s axe continue to rise. Sarge is tasked with personally escorting the group while they are in Fallcrest, ensuring the group abides by all laws and does not attempt to flee the city.

With Sarge escorting them the group catch some long needed rest at the local inn. In the morning the innkeeper provides them with a strange note left for them during the night. The note speaks of a rendezvous at the docks at sundown. Not quite sure what to make of it the party sets out to the docks with Sarge in tow.

The group reaches the docks a few hours in advance and searches for any sign of trouble. While investigating the docks, a group of men attack them. Despite Sarge’s warning to stop and lay down their arms the attackers continue their assault but are quickly dispatched by the rest of the group. A closer look at the bodies yields proof that the attackers are part of the River Rat gang, and a strange note in some sort of code. The party is able to decipher parts of the note, which seem to mention an elf, an artifact, and some sort of meeting in a bar. Sarge informs them that the closest bar is the Lucky Gnome Taphouse.

Hoping this bar is the same bar mentioned in the encoded note the party travels to the Lucky Gnome, and proceeds to question it’s patrons. Things quickly turn violent as Sarge threatens anyone who seems to be in his way, at this point quite frustrated with the brazen attacks on him and the group he is in charge or watching over. After the scuffle the group drag out a few of the goons and proceed to interrogate them. Threats and a bit of physical harm force the goons to reveal a name… Kelson, the owner of the Lucky Gnome.

The group barge into Kelson’s office at the back of the Lucky Gnome and Sarge proceeds to question Kelson’s involvement with the River Rats and the attack at the docks. Kelson’s silver tongue serves him well, however, and Sarge is unable to pin anything on him. With frustration Sarge warns Kelson that he will be back with more proof, and then departs, leaving the group alone in Kelson’s company.

The group quickly discovers that Kelson was hired to capture their elven rogue, Solaris, and dispose of her for having crossed his employer in the past. Solaris reveals that she had indeed failed a “job” some time in the past and failed to recover an artifact. Fearing retribution Solaris decided to flee, yet now the party saw that Solaris’ past had come back to haunt her.

The party was able to talk Kelson into a deal, however, promising to return the artifact Solaris had lost in exchange for Solaris’ life. Kelson acknowledged this deal and told them he would contact them in a few days with details of how they could go about retrieving the lost artifact.

The party left the Lucky Gnome and returned to their inn, meeting Enola at the front door and filling her in on the details of what happened to them during the day…

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Session 6: The Unlucky Gnome

The party awakes to yells of “FIRE” coming from the streets surrounding the inn. They emerge from their inn in the middle of the night to find the guardsmen posted by Sarge to be missing. Following the sounds and spotting a pillar of smoke not too far away the party heads into the heart of Fallcrest, and after a few minutes of running arrive at the scene of the fire.

The Lucky Gnome Taphouse, the same one they had just been in a handful of hours ago, is now up in flames. A large crowd has gathered before the bar, and Sarge quickly notices the heroes and motions them over. He explains that a few of his men dove into the bar to look for survivors, but none have returned. The brave heroes volunteer to go in after the poor men, and dive into the burning remnant of the tap house.

With embers and beams falling around them, the party is able to rescue a pair of guards, but continue their search. As they approach the office at the back of the bar the discover bodies of a few of Kelson’s men that clearly died from some sort of sharp weapon. Busting down the door to the office the party discover a dead Kelson still sitting in his chair, with a short sword handle sticking out of his chest. Examination of the sword reveals some sort of insignia on the handle, something resembling a metal band or wreath. The party also finds Kelson’s accounting books and a small calendar. The last entry on the calendar reads “Met with NR, will keep eye out for elf.”

The heroes emerged from the building just as its foundation gave out and the whole thing collapsed, and presented Sarge with the things they found in the fire. The accounting ledgers proved to contain much valuable information, including the names and whereabouts of most of the River Rat gang as well as a few of the Fallcrest guard who were payed to look the other way.

In the morning Faren summons them to Moonstone Keep, where the scouts have just returned to report. The scouts not only bring news of the demise of Malareth, but also of ill tidings from the east. Apparently there have been a number of reports of caravans and travelers being attacked on the route to the township of Harkenwold, and none has been seen coming out of the valley in quite some time.

Faren rewards them for their bravery in the night with gold, and then tasks them with traveling to Harkenwold to uncover what has happened in the township. The heroes set off, and after five days of travel emerge from Harken Forest to gaze upon the valley before them. Their first glimpses of the serene lands is marred by yet another pillar of smoke rising from the horizon. The heroes choose to investigate and after a mile of travel discover that the smoke is coming from a small farm in valley.

As they approach they find a group of bandits dressed in military regalia threatening a small farmhouse with torches. Upon closer inspection the regalia is that of an iron circle, eerily similar to that found on the handle of the blade in Kelson’s bar. The party battle the mercenaries and free the trapped farmer and her children, who introduces herself as Ilyana. They also capture one of the assailants and interrogate him, who reveals to them that their leader is a man by the name of Nazin Redthorne, and that he is currently located in the keep in Harken with the Baron of Harkenwold as his prisoner. The allow their prisoner to flee and begin to plot for a way to free the Baron. Ilyana suggests they visit the nearby druid grove on their way to Albridge, one of the key villages mounting resistance to the invaders. The group agree and set off to meet the druid…

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