The Sands of Fate

6. Screams in the Night
9th day of Mirtul, 1485 DR

4:00 am – On Tarel's watch, he hears a scream of agonizing pain followed by yells and calls for help from the fishermen.  He races to the scene to discover a fisherman being pulled by his bleeding leg by an invisible force.  Moments later a large black dog appears, viciously attacking the fisherman.  The dog, the party knows is a shadow mastiff, a breed that populates the area.  The rest of the party members now awakened by the commotion rush to aid the fishermen.  The dog howls into the night, a spine shivering sound, and to many that hear it they start to flee.  Undaunted, Maera and Tarel attack the large beast eventually landing enough blows to send the creature running.  However with a remarkable shot, Tarel ends the beasts life. 

Unfortunately for the fisherman the beast got at his unprotected throat.  The aid of the party comes to late as the man is already dead. 

6:50 am – His friends insist on a burial which takes the better part of two hours.  

9:00 am – The remaining fishermen leave the Lilly Brook and lead the party cross country now slightly north of an easterly heading.  The party crosses several streams, and creeks, pressing through waist high grasses.

3:00 pm – The party arrives at the northern most confluence of the Delimbiyr River. Here, two Nether Mountain rivers, The Silver Rush, and The Frigid Flow merge.  The fishermen point north west along the east shore of the Frigid Flow river.  There, a few miles distant is the great flat topped hill.  Even from this distance it is obviously man made, looking more like the grassy base of a pyramid than a hill.

3:20 pm – The party investigates the hill and discovers two gelatinous blobs reeking of sulfur.  One on the top of the hill and one on the northern side.  The party also discovers what looks to be a sink hole directly in the center of the mound.  The hole is perhaps 10 feet in diameter.  Lacking anything to tie the rope onto, the party shoves a spare sword into the earth of the mound and ties a rope firmly to the hilt.  NDolka lowers himself down, confirms that there is no immediate danger and then is followed by the rest of the party.

3:30 pm – The companions stand in a rotunda that was once paved with flagstone.  The ceiling that the party entered through is about twenty feet high.  NDolka chooses one of the several tunnels leading from the room and the companions start their exploration.

3:35 pm – The tunnel gives way to a room.  Here there are slight depressions in the dirt floor indicating ancient burials.  On the wall of the room near each depression are words written in an unreadable language.  Nybor thinks it looks like the runic language of the northern barbarians who live in the central tundra region of the frozen wastes.  He does not however read it, having only lived for a few years in and near Ice Wind Dale on the coast.

3:40 pm – The party continues into another similar room and hears a hiss coming from ahead.  Moments later the devil girl appears and an battle ensues.  Aided by better weaponry the battle is short lived and the party emerges victorious.

After the final battle with the creature, the body started to age rapidly.  Fearful that he might lose a trophy to something becoming gelatinous like its prey, NDolka severed the head.  However instead of becoming a black jelly-like blob, the body and the head shrank down to the size of a baby.  The flesh vanished and the party was left looking at skeletal remains that were completely black as though made of obsidian.

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5. Into the Delimbiyr Vale
8th day of Mirtul, 1485 DR

6:45 am – The party awakes and prepares to depart with their three fishermen guides at dawn.  Nybor is nowhere to be seen but his snores can be heard through the thick oak door of his private room.  The party elects to leave him sleep.

8:00 am – The party leaves the thick oak and cedar Far Forest and enters into the emerald green Delimbiyr Vale.  Thick mountain grasses cover much of the vale floor with clusters of trees dotting the landscape here and there.  The party follows the path of the stream west towards the center of the valley.  On their way they see various homesteads lying in disrepair.  Fields of wheat, long since untended grow wildly now.

12:30 pm – The party takes lunch at an area of the valley called the Riffle Water, right where the foothills of the Nether Mountains have their southern most point on the eastside of the vale. 

6:00 pm – The party makes camp for the night.  With the fishermen on the bank of the Lilly Brook, and the party a hundred yards north to "protect the fishermen".  As light fades from the valley their is the sounds of yells and splashing from the river.  Upon investigation it is nothing more than Nybor with his new horse.  He moves towards the companies fire, smelling the dinner stewing in the pot.  Tarel follows behind grabbing the reigns of Nybor's horse before it wanders off and tethering it to a nearby tree.

 

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4. The Devil Girl of the Far Forest
7th day of Mirtul, 1485 DR

12:00 am – The party moves to the old abandoned tower to keep watch.  NDolka senses there is still something out there. 

3:00 am – NDolka and Tarel notice a bright crimson glow just south of town.  Moments later there are screams of horror.  Immediately the companions wake the druid and race towards the screams.

3:10 am – The companions arrive at a clearing with a large pond.  Several townsfolk must have been camped at its edge, and are now racing past the companions.  Near the shore of the pond is a young girl of perhaps 10 seasons with deathly pale skin and black unkempt hair.  The sockets of her eyes reveal only a swirling foggy darkness, and her long fingernails are black and sharp.  In her arms she holds the lifeless body of a villager.  The dead man bears strange slashing claw marks with charred edges.

A battle ensues during which Tarel forces her to reveal her true form.  She becomes a twenty foot column of fire, briefly.  Also during the fight the devil girl begins floating in the air to gaze into they eyes of NDolka.  While he is stunned she traces something on his forehead.

Although the party battle bravely it appears that some of their slashing weapons have little affect on the dark thing.  With a hiss the devil girl floats higher into the air and vanishes.

3:15 am – Immediately after the battle Tarel notices that there are strange changes taking place to the body of the man.  They watch the corpse age dramatically before losing its form and becoming a black gelatinous blob with a strong sulfuric scent. 

3:30 am – The company returns to Lilly Brook to find a much colder welcoming.  The villagers have once again packed themselves into the common room, and through sidelong glances at the would be heroes. 

The party takes the opportunity to talk with some fishermen who have observed the strange black jelly like substance in various locations in the region.  The claim it is a great fire starter, better than pitch, and many think it is the droppings of the strange reptilian bird like creatures folk have witnessed at night.  The also say that the greatest amount of these dropping seem to be near The Talons. 

The Talons is a wide section of valley where dozens of streams pour into each other becoming the great Delimbiyr River.  The area is well known to the fishermen as it is the best place to catch the overlarge Nether Trout.  The meat of the fish is so-so, but the scales are sought after components to wizards and alchemist's alike.  Additionally armor smiths in Loudwater have begun paying for the skins of the fish which harden after they are dried.  This forces the fishermen to stay near the river with their wares to keep the skin moist.

The party decides to accompany the fishermen who will be taking the day and half journey the following morning.  Then the party rests the remainder of night and morning.

12:00 pm – Nybor finds the party, learns of the devil girl and the journey to the Talons.  He is very interested in the region stating that he had already planned on an expedition to see the strange hill noted by many fishermen in the area as Flat Top.  The plateau is said to look artificial, and Nybor believes it may be a burial mound similar to ones he has witnessed in the frozen tundra above the Spine of the World.  There such mounds are constructed during the summer months where some degree of excavation of the topsoil is possible.  Given his curiosity on the subject Nybor invites himself along with his new guards. 

The party relaxes the rest of the day, after checking for new weapons.  NDolka has concluded that the Devil Girl is resistant to his slashing weapons and searches instead for something to impale the creature with.  As night returns the party eats dinner with Nybor at the Dozing Damsel.  Nybor suggests an evening of heavy wine drinking, which the party leaves him to.  The scholar drags himself to his room around late in the evening.  The rest of the party sleeps in the common room.

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3. Missing in Action
6th of Mirtul, 1485 DR

12:00 am – After the battle with the orcs, the party moved lower down the ridge and were surprised to find find NDolka, seemingly sleeping caught in a small ten foot high fiery twister.  The druid was able to reason that they were now directly below the cave where she had found the other two companions.  A few things were tried to wake the tribesman but even as they watched the magic dissipated and NDolka fell gently to the ground.  Where the twister had been touching the ground was a small metallic sphere roughly an inch in diameter.  When Maera went to pick it up she found that it was very heavy, more than fifty pounds.  NDolka had heard of pebbles like these being found in the Black City.

12:20 am – The companions, led by Maera, decided to take the low road through the wood to avoid more skirmishes with orcs along the more open ridge line. 

1:00 am  – After descending into a thickly forested valley, the party noticed a small lump on a tree near the animal path that they were following.  Upon investigation it was determined that it was doll was of waterdhavian make and at least a hundred years old.  It had been nailed to the tree in a way that it could watch the trail.  

1:15 am – The party continued until they noticed a strange knocking sound coming from deeper in the forest.  It was also at this point that the party realized that Varix had gone missing.  The party thought they heard a cry for help.  Although it was hard to distinguish, it could have been Varix.  The companions moved off in the direction of the sound.  As they continued toward the infrequent pleas for help NDolka noticed that he was standing directly below a giant spider.  A battle ensued during which time the calls for help seemed to end. 

1:25 am – After destroying two giant spiders the party searched the area and discovered the remains of several bodies.  None of these were Varix, and although they searched the area for tracks they were unable to discover any sign of him.  

1:35 am – The party moved back to the animal path they were following and continued through the tangled wood. 

4:40 am – The party emerged from the valley and began their journey towards Lilly Brook, the only nearby settlement according to the Tiefling.

9:00 am – The party comes across another doll nailed to a willow tree.  It is near the village of Lilly Brook, and appears to be the same age as the other doll although the make was unclear.  The doll is nailed to the tree so that its back is to the village. 

9:10 am – The party arrives at the village to find there seems to be some kind of town meeting being held at the local tavern.  Upon entering the Hungry Hussy, the party finds perhaps seventy miners, and trappers, and a dozen or so barmaids and ladies of the night arguing with five people dressed as adventurers. 

Apparently these adventurers cleared this town of orcs only three months ago and have reopened an Inn, a Mill, a Stable, a Provisioner, and a Tavern to cater to the miners and trappers slowly returning to the area.  They serve as the town council and it appears that the townsfolk, such as they are, are scared about a recent gruesome death and a number of disappearances  in the area.  The council seems to think the disappearances are due to nothing more than the dangerous and nomadic lifestyle on the frontier.

Noticing the companions, Malaghost, an Elf dressed in chain mail and girded with a longsword, offers to put up a reward of a hundred gold to any person who can find and destroy the so called Devil of Delimbyr Vale.  Malaghost turns out to be the owner of the local provisioner and after the party accepts the investigation, he supplies them with what he can.  He tells him the local healer is the person who has lived in the area longest and that if they want to know more about the region she is the person to talk to.

10:00 am – The companions also talk to some fishermen who witnessed the demise of their friend.  They were fishing in the Lilly Brooke in the light of the full moon, catching the famously large nether trout that were rising to feed on lightning bugs.  Suddenly they heard a scream and saw their companion pulled beneath the waters. 

10:05 am – Tired from their journey the party rests through out the rest of the day, after determining that most of the disappearances take place at night.

6:00 pm – The party gets back on their feet and searches out the village healer.  The directions are given and people tell the companions that she is a strange one but helpful and generous.   She lives in a cottage a mile south of the village, deeper in the far wood.  Near the cottage the party notices another doll nailed to an oak tree, facing away from the home.  The cottage itself, much like the village buildings appears to have been built long ago and recently updated.

6:15 pm – Before reaching the cottage the party notices a nude young human woman laying on a granite boulder in front.  Upon inquiring who she is, she reveals that she is Lorelai Turner a healer.  The paladin requests that she puts some clothes on.  She complains that she will never get used to the societal norms of civilization but does so.  The companions ask her a series of questions that she answers while she seems to be petting an invisible dog.  The dog is a shadow mastiff, common in the region. 

Lorelai tells the companions that she has lived in the Far Wood her entire life.  Her mother, a Nymph who discovered her as a baby raised her with her own daughters after the orc horde moved through the area destroying all of the settlements in the area.  Now that humans have started to return to the vale she has encouraged Lorelai to discover her own people.  The party asks Lorelai about the dolls.  She says that they are common throughout the vale and can be found near old settlements.  Her mother told her that the people in the past put them up as part of a superstition to ward off a strange devil girl that preyed on the folk of the area.

7:00 pm – With the spring light fading away toward sunset here in the higher elevations, the party walked back toward town.  NDolka wanted to investigate the old run down building that was marked for sale. 

7:20 pm – After a thorough search the party discovered a tunnel leading to a cave below a flagstones.  Upon descending, the party searched the cave before being attacked by a large wormlike creature with a beak and four barbed tentacles.  After the battle the companions deduce that there is another, larger creature currently in the pool on the side of the cave.  The party manages to bait the creature into attacking and after a quick battle NDolka has two heads to bring to the town council.  The companions notice that the pool seems to be connected by a tunnel to the Lilly Brook.  After seeing the tactics of the creature the evidence seems conclusive that this is indeed what killed the fisherman.

8:20  After a short rest the companions set off toward Dozing Damsel to report the good news.  After convincing the townsfolk that they are who they say they are and not just voices in the night sent to lure them out, the doors open and after the tale is told and the heads presenting a large feast is prepared in their honor. 

Story Reward: Moonlit Murder – the companions start with good standing to anyone who frequents the village.  The tiefling, and half orc are now considered fellow misfits of the frontier to the superstitious people. 

8:30 pm – During the festivities Tarel notices a man seeming to take an unusual interest in NDolka.  The man is well groomed, wearing the newest fashion from the coastal cities, but also with adornments Tarel recognizes from other cultures throughout the northland.  After introducing himself to the man, Tarel discovers that he is a scholar and traveler named Nybor Araval.  Apparently the scholar is interested in NDolka because he has deduced from the half orc's garb that he is from a desert tribe.  Tarel introduces the fifty-something man to the nomadic barbarian who seem to hit things off.  

Nybor reveals that he will be journeying to Kelmarane, the only and sacred city of the Bedawen people and could use a guide, as well as guards for the dangerous journey.  He is interested in the ancient sand drawings of the desert people which have suddenly been able to call upon arcane power.  According to rumors, the sand art contains no methodology for calling upon the weave.  Nybor wants to make the journey so as to arrive during the week long festival of choice, the only time when all the Bedawen people gather together as one.

NDolka quickly agrees to provide his services in exchange for gold, and information that might help provide him with retribution for the destruction of his tribe. 

11:00 pm After much frivolity the townsfolk, mostly fishermen and miners leave the cramped common room of the inn, to spend the night outdoors now that the monster which has hunted the areas is no more. 

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2. Elemental Twister
5th day of Mirtul, 1485 DR

The members of the party each individually sought the safety of a cave deep in the Anauroch desert when a strange elemental storm appeared. During the storm the members of the party were forced to fight off strange grey dwarves who were hunting for someone. Afterwards while acid rain fell outside the cave the members of the party banded together and set a watch. At some point in the night all the members fell asleep.


Maera, a druid of the Far Forest was monitoring the advancement of human settlers in the lands of the Nether Mountains. Her master having declared she was ready to find her own paths, suggested the region to her. Here nearly all the human settlements had been destroyed a hundred years earlier when great orc hordes swung south. The area is once again slowly being poplulated by miners panning the rivers stemming from the Nether Mountains.


The mountains are very dangerous and even a druid is to be wary of that range. While contemplating her life the druid noticed to her utter amazement a strange swirling vortex of fire and lightning making its way west through the sky like a huge volcano. It slammed into the peaks nearby, and although fraught with danger the druid made her way up the ridge to discover what had taken place.


When she arrived whe found a strange elf in leather, and a high elf in shining armor with ivy filigree. She attempted to awake the curious pair by nudging them with a very long stick. After much prodding she was able to wake up the pair. They awoke with a start noticing that the desert nomads, their duergar captive, and NDolka were all missing.


Only moments later the group was set upon by orcs. After defeating the monsters while avoiding the 500 ft fall nearby the group decided to leave the ridge and head for Lilly Brook, the only settlement nearby.


Maera led the others off the ridge and into a meadow where from their vantage they could see that a group of orcs had cornered an elf. Charging into the fray the party members risked life and limb to come out just ahead and managed to save the cleric Galinndan Amastacia.
Now the party is faced with a choice. Take the ridge line down and risk more orc battles, or take the low road through the thick primordial woods and risk the beasts…

 

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