The Sands of Fate

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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