Heroes of the Nentir Vale

The defeat of the Iron Circle
the freeing of Harken

After bluffing their way into Iron Keep under the identity of Iron Circle sentries having returned from Albridge, the party stormed into the tower. They cleared the entry hall of dragonborn guards and secured the area from being accessed from the outside. They proceeded down into the lower level of the tower, where they encountered a mage and some Iron Circle guards. A combat ensued, in which Soqadana and Elucar were at death’s door, but were stabilized until the mage was defeated.

Baron Stockmer, Harken’s leader whom had been overthrown by the Iron Circle and imprisoned in the gaol, was freed, and he urged the companions to go after Nazin Redthorn, the warlord head of the Iron Circle before freeing him. He knew that once Nazin was defeated, the band of mercenaries would disperse and freedom would return to the Harkenwold. They agreed.

Nazin occupied the lord’s chamber on the upper level of the tower, alongside some hobgoblin mercenaries. The heroes picked off the enemies slowly, and in a desperate attempt to flee and murder the Baron, he tried to escape through a secret stairwell. However, he was struck down by Soqadana’s blade.

Having heard of their warlord’s demise, the Iron Circle disbanded, leaving Harken in peace. The Baron rewarded the saviors and named them Defenders of Harkenwold, always welcome the keep and the outlying villages.

Among the items left behind by the Iron Circle was a notice for Nazin Redthorn…

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A Crazy Shade of Winter
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

As peace began to return to Harken, The Shirker was contacted by a druid of the second circle of his order, informing him about an immensely unnatural occurrence…

The area around Fallcrest was overcome by winter-like weather, but in the middle of the summer. Crops were become devastated, as well as other local plant-life, which in turn began starving the animals and people in the area.

A request was made to return to Fallcrest to find the source of this problem, and try to stop it, if possible.

Travel through the Harkenwood via the King’s Road was uneventful, but upon exiting the woodland area, the signs of the wintry disturbance became apperent. Outlying farms lay bare and snow-covered, failed crops dotting the white and icy landscape. Storms brewed overhead, bringing heavy snowfall.

The heroes entered Fallcrest without a normal welcome; all the locals were locked up in their homes for warmth and protection, but some had begun to gather in a camp by the riverbank, where the Turnfin halflings brought dire news that the unseasonal weather had been spread as far south as the Witchlight Fens.

Some disruption broke out among the citizens about plans to deal with sustenance and supplies, but before anything could happen, a strange sound came from above…

Eerie chanting, like that from a ship’s crew rowing, came from a longship floating in the sky and slowly descending upon them. The ship landed in the river, and the crew of zombies and skeletons rushed forth and began attacking the people of Fallcrest.

After the heroes defeated the undead, the ship’s figurehead spoke to them. The icy dragon-like head boomed. “Return the ice scepter to the grasp of the Winter King, or this shall be a forever winter, and the cold and the dead shall feast upon the warm and living.”

The townsfolk knew nothing of the ice scepter, but explained the history of Winter King. Someone in the crowd tried to slip away among the confusion, but was pounced on by Rusty.

The attempted escapee confessed his story and introduced himself as Marko Lancet, a traveler who happened to come upon the scepter and planned on selling it. After some pressing, Marko revealed he was a common criminal and that he found the scepter while running from guards at his home.

Marko wanted nothing to do with returning to the cave where he had found the scepter, but gave in after some intimidation.

The companions boarded the ship and took off into the snowy sky to return the scepter, but the voyage was not without incident. Heavy storms of ice and hail rocked the boat, and the party managed to make through, but not without taking damage from the weather.

Marko, upon seeing the entrance to the cairn, was overcome by a near madness, had to be talked into entering the cairn once again…

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Icy Hearts with Empty Pockets
A brief side trek

“Someone is coming” Marko Lancet told the others in a quick sharp whisper before moving to hide.
“I’ll keep an eye on him. Shout if you need me.” Said the perturbed Tiefling as he followed after the young scoundrel whose poor choices had led them all to be tracking through the blinding snows and winds.
It was all the party could do to stay warm as they trudged between the location the ship landed and entrance to the lair of the ship’s commander. Movement here was abysmal, and sight and hearing little better.
The others caught the noise; whoever it was, they were yelling. Soon they knew that the language was unknown to all of them.
Finally, they could make them out. Orcs! Armed and armored (beneath many poor quality furs), they appeared to be travelling in skirmish line. A clear sign of hostile intentions toward someone.
The twelve had been making less effort to listen than they had to speak and the Heroes of Harken got the jump on them.
Despite insanely brave efforts on the part of the Orcs, the heroes were soon examining the carnage for clues as to what could make them travel in this frozen waste.
They were found to be carrying very little money, very little equipment (just enough to replace any the characters were losing to the environment) and a note written on lambskin.

“Llrno, this payment for fish. Go see Dreos, Dreus?, the swampwoman. She is paying many Slit-eye for search for special rock. Rock is somewhere in Town Kiris held. One Goblins rename Gorizbadd. Many Kobolds and many many Goblins but no stupid humans there now. To her for details. Say I told you.
-Emsr

p.s. Halflings require a special seasoning to not make us sick. Who knew? Found out from prisoner yesterday. I released him to find seasoning. It must be tough to find.

The adventurers put the note aside. Something to consider in more detail later.

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A not-so-warm welcome...
and a near-death experience

As the doors to the Cairn of the Winter King opened, the heroes were greeted with the delightful aromas of delicious food. They proceeded inside, where a large room awaited them with a long dinner table filled with the most succulent foods and drinks they had ever seen. Across the table from them sat a large man in furs, definitely a barbarian in appearance, and a young woman.

He introduced himself as the Winter King, and invited them to join him in feast and tell him about what has passed during his icy slumber. He also asked for the icy scepter to be returned, but the companions weren’t fooled.

The Shirker tried to make a bargain, for the scepter the Winter King would have to atone to the druids of the Vale for the winter’s disturbance to the natural order.

Elucar noticed a rising anger on the barbarian’s part, and knew that this man was not the Winter King after all. Engraged, the barbarian assaulted the party, along with two large dire wolves that been part of an illusion to appear as sleeping hunting hounds. The woman also joined the combat, her true identity revealed as a gnome wizard,

During the battle, the tides were turned against the party, and the druid and cavalier had been knocked unconscious. Soqadana and Panor were able to defeat the barbarian and the remaining wolf, but the gnome had escaped, likely attempting to alert the Winter King to their presence.

After delving a little further into the Cairn, the party heard a voice calling for help on the other side of a door. Upon entering the room, they found a prison, with one of the cells occupied by a middle-aged woman in shambled clothing and in distress. She said her name was Alanna, and that she was the Winter Queen, and was imprisoned there by her wrathful husband because of the loss of his scepter.

However, the eladrin druid, scholarly in his knowledge, knew that there was no such identity as a Winter Queen. Her story failing, the woman revealed herself as a gnome, who bore a close resemblance to the one they had met earlier.

The illusionist shouted some commands, and the corpses in the other cells rose to their feet. A heap of fur in the far cell rose as well….an owlbear!!

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Trouble In The Rubble
A First-Person Account by Panor

When last we left our heroes, they were searching for the Thing That I Can’t Remember The Name Of. We had checked the library, the tavern and the Aramis’ former house, but we had come up small in all three locations, though I did manage to recover as many texts as I could at the library, so we had that going for us.

We turned our attentions to the Trading District, reasoning that someone could have pilfered the item and would now be trying to sell it. Alas, the Trading District wasn’t what it used to be, being as most of it was now rubble, and not much trading of anything, pilfered or otherwise, was happening there. Undeterred, we decided to search the rubble for that which we sought.

We didn’t find what they were looking for, but the sturges that had been hanging out in the area did find something they sought: meat sacks full of sweet, sweet blood. Also attracted by the noise of rubble being knocked around were swarms of rats. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best idea to search the rubble, since something like that isn’t gonna just be left around like that, but hindsight can be annoyingly clearer than foresight.

And so, we were left with little choice but to engage these foul creatures and send them back to whatever hell they were spawned in. We also took care of the rats. I wasn’t really involved in the rat killing at first, and so can only tell you of the sturges. One tried to get at me, but I was able to deflect it and respond with a gout of flame from my hands, singeing it and its brother (or cousin or friend… I didn’t ask) but not by much, as I didn’t hit either directly. The sturge’s next attempt was much luckier, or perhaps more competent, and I found myself with a bloodsucker stuck to me, taking the blood that was rightfully mine. I’m not much of an athlete, and so didn’t bother trying to shake the accursed thing off me, opting instead to fire a Magic Missile perilously close to my own body. Obviously, it hit its intended target, as Magic Missiles are known to do, but it didn’t change the status quo, bloodsucking-wise.

A voice from above lamented, on my behalf, that I didn’t have the Fey Step ability that my adopted family enjoyed, and I shared in that lamentation, forgetting that I had recently learned how to teleport via a dimensional door. Instead, I fired off a hailstone that burst near the sturge, causing the ground to become icy and therefore causing the sturge to break away from me and slide a little ways, despite it being a flying creature and not having any actual contact with the ice. It made sense to me at the time. Now, I’m just thankful that neither I nor the Power Above put a lot of thought into how that freezing burst actually works.

The rest of the fight was fairly uneventful for me, as best as I can remember. We cleared out the beasts without losing anyone to the cold grip of death, though the new guy did go down for a while.

As we were fighting the creatures, a few kobolds showed up, a few at a time, and watched. Once we were done, and I had a moment to do so, I advised the kobolds to not start anything with us. The fact that I told them in their own language probably helped. The dead creatures strewn around us probably helped too. They all remembered other engagements and left the scene.

After taking a breather to mend our wounds, we set off to find another likely location for our goal. The fact that kobolds had shown up to loot the marketplace led us to think that maybe other kobolds had already been there and picked up the orb (is it an orb? I wasn’t really myself when this was all explained to us.) So, the kobold slums seemed like a good place to look.

We managed to reach the slums undetected, thanks to Soqadana’s athletic prowess, and came upon a group of kobolds. The idea to attack them was no doubt considered, but I preempted that by starting a conversation. Draconic is the kind of language that’s use-it-or-lose-it, by my way of thinking. So I asked the kobolds if they knew anything about the item we’re seeking. Someone handed me a couple of gold pieces to sweeten the deal, but it didn’t seem to be doing a whole lot of sweetening for them. I impulsively pulled out a handful of gems we’d been carrying, and that seemed to put the kobolds into a metaphorical sugar buzz. The lead one sang like a canary. A very scaly, wingless canary.

He made certain assumptions, such as that we were affiliated with a shiny dragon from whom we could secure employment for the kobold’s cousin, Azeek Azeek (so named because he can eat two lizards in a single sitting, an ability of some note.) I eventually worked out, from what he was telling me, that this dragon had taken the thingamabob from the library a while ago.

And so, it’s looking like we’ll be visiting a dragon, in the near future!

So ends my tale for now.

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Soqadana of Few Words

Soqadana fell between the cracks, even in her own family, and they were about all she had growing up so far from anything. They were far too traditional and settled for her tastes. She wanted to travel, see the world, survive by her own skill, so at 15 she ran off to do just that. It wasn’t until she first picked up a sword and began to train in how to use it from whoever she could find to teach her that she started to find her place in the world. But she knew she couldn’t do it alone.

She bounced from one group of fellow wanderers to another, refining her skills, but she likes this group so she thinks she’ll stick around awhile. She may not say much, but she sees that as a group they get things done and she respects that.

Don’t expect her to share much in character. She’d rather get down to business.

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