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Varnhold Vanishing


From the journal of Denion

18 months have passed and the Kingdom has grown. We are still being troubles by the fey. Word has reached Deepwater that a headless horseman is attacking and destroying outlying farms to the west.  This has affected Kingdom consumption (food is becoming scarce) and has increased unrest.

Investigating the scenes of the crimes we find no good leads. All the farm workers were killed apart from a small boy who hid and describes the creature that attacked them.

So we visit the Nymph Tyressia and ask her about headless horsemen. She trembles and says it sounds like a Dullahan a type of Fey that will have been sent on a mission by the Fey court from the first world. The barriers between this world and the first world conjoin to allow passage on the full moon.

One plan is to pull two farms back and just leave one by the forest occupied with us in it. However it is 3 weeks to the next full moon so we look to fill our time with other adventures.

There have been mysterious disappearances in Varnhold. Therefore we decide to set off exploring directly towards Varnhold. The first few days are spent exploring hills before we come to a mountain range with a river valley running through it. During one night we spot dancing lights a few hundred feet away. Though they don't approach so we don't wake everyone up to investigate.

While investigating the mountains we are suddenly peppered with arrows. Harpies hover 70ft above us firing arrows and several start singing. Four of the party are mesmerised. So it is down to me and Oriel. So it is up to me. After Stinking Cloud, Glitterdust and Wandering Star Motes, they bug out. Though we are in a bad way from arrow wounds.

 Entering the kingdom of Varnhold we come across an abandoned watchtower. Odd, it looks newly built. Continuing on we approach  the town of Varnhold.

The farms we pass look empty though livestock are grazing in the fields. Varnhold itself also is lifeless. A sole plume of smoke rises from the fort. A pig sty holds four dead pigs that looked they died of thirst about a week ago. Something terrible happened here two weeks ago. Other dead animals are seen here and there though no dead humans.  

Approaching the closed gates of the fort no-one is seen though helmets are seen atop the battlements on sticks. Shouting out a head briefly appears and vanishes - some type of gnome like creature. Gil and Oriel go over the wall to open the gate and encounter two of the goblinoids but the fight is soon over.

We approach the keep and are peppered with bolts from the arrow slits in the keep. The fighters barge the keep door and break it down. Entering the kill chamber crossbow bolts rain down Gil barges down the next door into a chamber full of spriggans, but they soon die.

 Searching the fort we find mostly empty rooms. Fire! The spriggans have set the building on fire and run away. With much effort we put the fire out. Moving on we search the rest of the fort and find many interesting things including a drunk spriggan.

We spend the rest of the day searching the buildings in town. Amongst other things we find engraved wedding presents, a journal and a folding boat. At one point we note a crow circling hundreds of feet above. Baldwin puts an arrow in it but it flies away.

The inn has the hastily scratched word "nomen" in the door. A spriggan is held in an amber field from a sepia snake sigil - it's skull caved in. It still holds the book in its hand. Many other old books are strewn around, apparently of the missing professor. He has written in a 300 year old book! The text is about the dread Moredekai's island and the curse that besets anyone who sets foot on the island.

In the tannery we find three centaur hides!

The Nomen were an ancient tribe of centaurs that used to roam this area.

From the journal of Lici

We debate the benefits of claiming Varnhold for ourselves, but decide that we need to deal with the headless horseman first.

Spending a few days at the only populated farm preparing for the headless horseman by digging pits and setting up spikes facing toward the forest.

At midnight a dark horrifying figure on a black horse rides out of the forest toward the farm, but we lurk inside ready and awaiting him. He phases through the wall and slashes Dendion. We cast a round of spells and adjust positions, while the horseman roars and fears me. I run away, out of the door and into the night!

The horse bites Dendion and he responds by dropping a cloud of glittering dust on the horseman and his horse then teleporting away. Baldwin steps up and slashes at the horseman, Gregory following up with two crushing sword blows, smiting the evil creature into chunky kibbles. The entire confrontation lasts less then 20 seconds, though the evil horse teleports away from the scene immediately before we can stop it.

Sometime later I return to find them with their feet up sipping cocoa by the fireside. We journey back to Deepwater and pronounce that the leaders of Stoland have personally dealt with the threat, and Stoland will always be kept safe by our hands.

Resolving that waiting for Brevoy to send word will take too long, we explore out along the river that heads in the most direct route to Lake Silverstep, some miles south of Varnhold.

As we arrive at the lake Baldwin spots signs of 4 Tatselwurms lairing in the area and tracks them back to a heavily vegetated area near the lake. Baldwin spends a number of hours trying to stir up the wurms, eventually stumbling right into the center of them!

We use them for target practice, then proceed on our merry way. The far side of the lake is surrounded with mountains and has no apparent way to pass through, though we do manage to skirt the lakeshore and make our way round them instead. Coming to an impassable area we make good use of the folding boat to row our way across the fast moving river.

Finding little of interest we hurry to Varnhold to take a second look at the village - still nothing happening. So we travel north to Nivakta's Crossing - the most southerly villiage in the Brevoy domain. They have nothing much of use to tell us, and spend most of the time trying to sell us things.

After further study of the professors books found in Varnhold, we decide we should ride out into the Dunsward and seek out the Centaurs - they are probably the only group that can give us more information on the fate of the people of Varnhold.

We happen across a number of loose stone burial mounds on the sixth day out of Nivakta's Crossing. They look ancient, and as we explore Manticore's appear from behind the mounds. Dendion gives use the universal signal for "Shit's about to happen' - casting haste.

We unleash the standard buffing spells and the Manticores attack, firing spines at all of us. Dendion glitterdust's one, and stuns another so it falls from the sky. I blast one with a bear of light from my crown and fire arrows at another. Gregory and Baldwin finish off both of the disabled Manticores, and we collect the spines to hand in once we get back to Stoland.

We journey back to Baldwin's Gate to make sure things are proceeding to plan, then head back out to Varnhold's lands to look once more for the Centaurs. After a few days we find signs of a huge Bulet.

We dare Gregory to jump up and down on the spot, which he obligingly does and, as if by magic, the shopkeeper ancient bulet appears. We engage swiftly and kill it in a matter of seconds after Gregory takes a vicious round of attacks.


From the journal of Lici

 We find a series of mounds that Baldwin and Dendion recognise as Trapdoor Spiders, one of which we have faced before. We charge in and disturb them to take their silk, one dying in seconds and the others falling soon after,  though I do get bitten and start to feel my strength being sapped away.

 Our time is then consumed with exploring a number of leagues around Varnhold. Upon the top of a crag we spot a giant nest - potentially a Roc nest? Plans are made to steal an egg.  After a lot faff we fly up invisible.  We get spotted Terri flies and hits the Rok.  The other 2 land on a ledge and get ready to fight.  Gil and Greg fight the Rok. Greg gets grabbed and carried off and dropped. Gil then gets hit and dropped. Oriel flies off as can't be bothered with this just for an egg.  Greg is still plummeting to doom.  Splat.  Dead.  The Rok circles around and we back off - with just one egg.  We go back home to get Greg resurected or not..... Or not it seems.

We sort the kingdom out - Duchess Lici is in charge for now.....

We head to the kobold lair. It is empty. A hidden kobold called Narpic says kobolds summoned out by the great black one - a dragon. We decide to head off and follow. Up to the mountains to try and explore and find them.  We cant find the trail heading east, but we carry on.

We stumble onto some harpies...


From the journal of Baldwin

 The monk shoots and the witch lets off a fireball. The harpies sing and Baldwin is mesmerised. The monk parries an arrow. A second fireball kills 2 of the harpies. The third flies off. In the cave we find a message from Abess Betilda to explore the ranges to the north to find a suitable range. We recognise them as a group of nomadic harpies. They believe they are descended from a group of nuns. They seem to be demonic.

We realise that the cave has a rich vein of iron ore. The monk pronounces that they could be anywhere. W find a path that heads north-east into the mountains. We have to leave our horses behind. The witch casts a secure shelter spell so we can rest for the night.

We come upon an entrance into the mountain. We enter in. Soon we realise we will have to crawl down a narrow passageway. We see stick men creatures. We recognise some as kobold figures.

The passageway narrows and Baldwin must remove his armour to continue. He is unwilling to leave his weapons behind in order to continue. Lici scouts ahead. In a chamber ahead are some stirges. They attack and drain her blood. Scorching rays finish them off. We find a way round so Baldwin re-arms himself.

Lici scouts ahead and runs into a Kobold who surprises her. We try to diplome but they answer with a scorching ray. We enter a cavern and a fight ensues. Oriel jumps up onto the ledge and pushes a Kobold off. The fight is short and deadly.

We come across a cavern with stalagmites and stalagtites and many kobolds. Most die crying in agony as Tristana sends a fireball at them. Trystana cackels and a tough Kobold falls dead. Baldwin cuts another down.

Walking round the corner the witch and ranger get hit by an acid breath of a dragon. We close in. Baldwin is felled by bites and claws. The witch dimension doors us out. Dutchess Lici is disintegrated by acid breath.        

From the journal of Oriel

We fight the dragon.  No one can hit it.  Oriel hits it. Baldwin is ripped to pieces, but may not be dead with some magic.  After a lot of damage it goes down. We raid the lair and take magic items. We free the kobalds.   

We go and see the centaurs and are surrounded.  We come in peace said  the witch.  Nome talks and we go to their place. We talk to the main dude.  She has been plagued by sprigands who stole a long bow.  We go to their lair. We swap some items for the bow.  We go on a quest to the west to see a valley.  She blames the people of Varnhold. Vordekai is a bad ancient thing with a tomb.  We agree to find her daughter who is lost.  

From the journal of Duke Baldwin

We decide to explore and find some elk. To the south of the centaur lands are hills. We find the bones of a wingless dragon. There are signs of shrike. Isolated herds of mastadons graze the land. A strange grey stone monolith stands at the base of the mountains. A voice cries out in Aklo "You help me, yes?" "Some bad creatures have forced me from my lair." "Xills have forced her out." We know that Xills are evil. They are female mixes of humanoids and insects who procreate by capturing hosts and injecting eggs into them.

We realise that the monolith is of elven. At the moment it marks the entrance to the etherial plane. Zamas mentions that there is a chest.

We decide to fight the Xills. The sorcerer, Noam, confuses them. One of the Xills grabs Baldwin. The fight is over quickly. In return we get a magical chest. We don't know how to open it. We resort to brute force and ignorance to open the chest. In the chest is a wand of dimension door and a spell book. 

In the night we are attacked by an etherial creature, called a Soul Eater. Denion is targeted. The creature sucks the wisdom from Denion. His soul has been sucked out. The soul eater continues to target the arcane spellcasters. Baldwin slays the creature and the soul of Denion is returned.

The entrance to valley is decorated by bones and skulls. Huge gravestones scatter the valley. The graves have cyclops writing on it. Cyclops are rare these days. Many years ago they ruled vast kingdoms. The average cyclops is nine foot tall. There is a stone stairway through the mountains.

Two huge zombie figures loom in front of us. A fireball and the fighters kill the first. A zombie grabs Baldwin and nearly succeeds in sucking his brains out. The path leads through the mountain to a river. To the north there is a huge waterfall and an island with a dark imposing cave. Nesting in the cliff are some large reptilian creatures. We identify them as wyverns.

There are alcoves in the darkened cove. There are arcane symbols on the archway. There are some human footprints. The large tracks may belong to the huge zombies. There are some hoofprints leading in. There are some ancient cyclopean coins and a bracelet that matches the description in the journal we found in Varnhold. It may be a cyclops ring.


From the journal of Duke Baldwin

Stepping in the alcove Meri unleashes zombies. One grabs Meri and chomps on his brains. After a short fight we defeat them. Moving on we see a natural cavern with a deep pool. The idiot witch throws a pebble into the pool and a sea creature with a huge neck and sharp teeth emerges and bites Baldwin. We use the folded boat to get across. Finding ourselves on the other side of the island we decide to take a closer look at the deep pool. There are two water-filled passageways. We find a magical raven figurine and ring of freedom of movement which Baldwin takes. We get through an underwater passageway to a room with pottery. It depicts cyclops in various poses.

We descend some stairs to bronze doors. We see some cyclops statues ahead. We pass some alcoves and are surprised by some zombies. The witch emits a piercing screech. A few lightning bolts and hacks from the swords to finish them off. Serendip finds a trap which Meri disarms. We find spiral staircases leading up. At the top there is a room with friezes on the wall and bronze double doors. There is a picture of Charon. There are altars to the north. One has a bronze cup stained with blood. The witch cuts herself and we fill the cups with blood and light the oil lanterns to complete a ritual. We open the bronze double doors. There are delicate arches of stone. When we enter the room a humanoid lobster creature appears. He asks in whose name we enter the chamber. We answer "Vordekai" and the creature disappears. We see a female centaur manacled to the wall. She is paralysed. We uses magic to remove it. She seems hungry and injured. Xamanthe the daughter of the centaur chief tells us of her nightmare filled time. She was told by a skeletal cyclops with a gem in it's forehead "You should be honoured to be a guest of Vordekai." We use dimension door to get the centaur woman out.

The chamber ahead is filled with burial alcoves. Next to two central pillars are two soulkillers. They suck the wisdom from Meri, Baldwin and Asa. We finish them off then decide to retreat to cave to rest up restore our wisdom and deal with the wyverns.

Trystana and Baldwin fly up in view. Noam is invisible and hits the 3 wyverns with a lightning bolt. The cackling witch lets a fireball off at them. More magical damage hits and two wyverns drop into the water. Baldwin slays the last one. In the wyverns lair is some silver cutlery and an old Issian magical greatsword.


From the journal of Oriel

We renter the complex....  We enter the door.  THere are figures depicting the life of some cyclops. Another door and a bench with vessels and tools on with a statue.  The door is spelled.  ORiel tries the day.  Locked.  We give up and go somewhere else.  Enter a chamber full of tar. The witch gets grabbed by a tar tentacle.  An undead mage appears.  Ice bridge made Oriel over.  Fireball goes off.  The witch sends one back.  The witch goes down.  No cackle.  The witch is dead.  Ding dong.  The 3 remaining carry on and find a crypt.  There is a fresh corpse.  A spectral form appears.  We dim door out after Baldwin gets hit and energy drain. 

Denion goes back to pick up scrolls.  And comes back with a fighter type called Eeee.  We go back in to where the statue was.  Enter the door.  Engravings and stuff lots of little eyes looking at a big eye on the east.  We slid the statue in.  We give up.  Go back and fight the spectre and kill it.  Nothing of note.  We go the other way.  A big table and chairs.  Dead humans at the chairs incl Varn and Lady Sybyl.  All with brains scooped at.  4 cyclops attack. We take them all down.  We go up the balcony.  Enter a chamber full of crystal making a dome of an eye looking at  a circle. Another room with a pool.  A water elemental.,   Eeeee is dead. 


From the journal of Noam Eltz

We deliberate endlessly. Dendion teleports back to Deepwater for provisions and to recruit Eeeee's brother Elrohan Dwelfling We Dimension Door back to the strange teleporty room, to find the door open and a zombie coming at us. The zombie dies fast but was just a distraction from the demon that we bypassed previously by uttering Vordakai's name.

It grabs Denion and makes to crush him, but Aza teleports the mage away and I blast the demon with negative energy. The fighters swarm around it but Baldwin takes some heavy damage. The creature is proving difficult to damage. It summons a stinking cloud on top of us, but I dispel it, and Elrohan finishes it off.

The door in the room has necromantic magic on it, so I summon a Hound Archon to open the door for us and assist in any fights afterwards. We wait in anticipation as the goodly creature opens the door for us like a heavily armoured celestial doorman. It triggers a Symbol of Pain, but Vordakai appears and tries to mentally assault Baldwin. Baldwin charges, but Denion drops him in a pit. He teleports away.

I ask Serendib to investigate and describe the room ahead so we can bypass the Symbol by teleporting. The Hound Archon falls to the floor, out of out site. We teleport in and attack, unbeknownst to us Elrohan has already turned to the dark side and is fighting for the lich!

I confuse Elrohan to prevent him hurting anyone else after he downs Baldwin in one round. Oriel stands as our front line while we recover. Aza brings Baldwin around and summons a Magic Circle that allows Elrohan to save against the domination, but we don't know that!

Denion summons a pit, but Vordakai dodges then looses a fireball upon us. We re-arrange and assault him again from all sides. I launch a 4th set of scorching rays and the Lich falls over. We deliberate over the magic in the room. The Lich's red gem eye is very magical (an evil minor artefact: Occulus of Abadon), and the room is full of glass jars full of swirling stuff (soul jars).

The Lich has a Cloak of Resistance +3 and +2, a Headband of Mental Stuff +2 Int/Cha, Ring of Friend Shield, 2x Ring of Protection +2, +3 Cold Iron Magical Beast Bane Flail.


From the journal of Baldwin

The monk and wizard take the rings of protection. Aza gets the better cloaks.  We take the evil eye from the cyclops. Elrohan smashes one of the soul jars and a woman appears. She is worried about her family.  

Baldwin thinks about how to take over Varnhold and restore the souls of the people there.

He also ponders what wonderful magic item to get Denion to make for him.  He also wonders what mischief Gil has got up to while we've been gone.

Aecora Silverfire is overjoyed to see her daughter alive. Our ties with the centaurs are cemented. She gifts us Skybolt (a magical bow.) Elrohan takes this. We free the citizens of Varnhold. We take control of Varnhold.

Noam, Baldwin and Denion are busy plotting and planning. Merri, Elrohan and Gil set off exploring. They tell the tale of slaying a chimera in an epic battle. We go fishing for eels. Whilst exploring we happen upon a giant fly trap. It grabs hold of Elrohan. It doesn't last long.

We arrange to have the evil eye gem destroyed. Baldwin plans to get married.

 

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Last Updated: May 2011