Shadow Over the Nentir Vale

The Inner Sanctum
Pilgrims from Hammerfast
Belgos hunting rats beneath Hammerfast.
Belgos is a drow who has discarded his heritage and his religious upbringing to wander the surface world and to meet the challenge of hunting the finest prey the open world has to offer. Fifteen years ago, Belgos escaped the matriarchal rule of the priestesses of Lolth with his brother, Gendar. Using Gendar’s maps and Belgos’ knack for foraging, the brothers found themselves in a place known as Seven-Pillared Hall. They were met by agents of King Kelvin the First. Sensing no signs of treachery or espionage, the agents accepted Belgos and Gendar and allowed them to remain in the Hall.
Belgos spent a time in the Hall, working with his brother in building up a shop to sell and purchase trinkets. This did not suit him at all. Eventually, an agent of the King named Edthow Staul, was persuaded to take Belgos as his apprentice. Belgos saw himself becoming a ranger like Edthow, hunting the wilds of Nentir Vale. Shortly after Belgos’ training was complete, Edthow met his end to old age and Belgos found himself in Hammerfast with no real attachments left.
The wilderness around Hammerfast offered him solace, especially the crisp mountain air of the Dawnforge Peaks. His favorite pass time of late has been hunting mountain lions and elk. Belgos found himself a small home just outside of the city, but as of late, the prey in his hunting grounds has become sparse.

Brandis was born in Hammerfast, home of the Great Church. Because of this, he has been educated on the many ways and dogmas of the number of different goodly gods. His father, Dorian, raised him agnostically, thus allowing him to choose a path for himself instead of indoctrinating him in the teachings of Ioun, which Dorian himself followed. After much study, Brandis decided to call Erathis his patron deity. Brandis is a very cultured young man who honors the traditions of any culture he feels is civilized. He tries to look at the world through the lens of Erathis, but is often conflicted with his sense of right and good which can clash with alien ideas of community.
Brandis trained as a squire like a number of his ancestors had before him. He learned the arts of the sword and shield. His father, a proficient swordmage, would occasionally teach him a new technique with the blade. He served as a keeper of the peace in Hammerfast, assuring that no problems arose amongst the citizenry, be they living or dead, orc, dwarf, or any else.
He met Aldus Splintershield in the watch. The two had a lot in common: a sense of duty, loyalty, and a desire to ensure the well-being of all around them. Aside from the sporadic kobold or goblin atack, the two had little to worry about besides the normal welfare of a city. Then came word of Inverness and Aldus left the watch. It was known to Brandis that the dwarf cleric wished to inhabit the ruins so as to make a place for his clan.

Fargrim faces his fears.

Aldus’ younger brother is an angry young dwarf who cares little for tradition and honor. He has spent a good deal of his time in Hammerfast drinking and engaging in bar brawls while his brother has tried to make the name Splintershield a respected one in the city. Fargrim had no choice in coming to Hammerfast. His father demanded the two travel to the city, where honor and glory awaited young and strong clans willing to serve the Great Church and do good. Fargrim wanted a simple mining life. Instead, he was forced to live in a place where orcs walked the same streets.
Fargrim’s quickness to anger has put him at odds with the law on occasion. His most recent altercation arose when his desire to fight, his racial hatred of orcs, and the opportunity to violently attack a priest of Gruumsh all mixed with strong drink. He was arrested, the none of the orcs being wounded too severely. Aldus had some pull with the arresting paladins, being a paladin who served as a watchman himself. He was able to have his brother released to his charge.
The brothers fought a very emotional battle, but Aldus gave Fargrim some hope. He was told that his brother had planned to move away from Hammerfast with anyone who would like to come to settle a village in the ruins of an old Nerathi castle. The thought of traveling into the wilds and facing off against the dangers of the borderlands gave Fargrim something to fight for.

Taught the arts of evocation, Jarren has since graduated from his novice status as a mage of the Magier and seeks to make a name for himself. He traveled from Winterhaven to Hammerfast, stopping in Fallcrest for a time to study with the Septarch Nimozaran the Green. Once in Hammerfast, he dedicated his time to study and experiment. The Grand Library became like a second home to him. It was only natural that he would sign on as a scribe there, earning an honest wage.
Jarren met with a young dwarf named Brother Splintershield who commissioned his services as a scribe. He was charged to research a place named Castle Inverness, an old fortification of Nerath that was somewhere near the Harken Forest. Little information on the place existed, so when he learned the dwarf wanted this information in hopes of securing it as a village, Jarren made up his mind that he would be the Magier’s representative at this new town.
Aldus made Jarren aware that his band already had a mage amongst them, a young elven girl named Faldyra. Jarren knew that the girl was not of the Magier, but he also knew the dwarf leader of this campaign cared little for the politics of wizards. He tried to get an audience with the elf, but he was not fortunate in this endeavor. He decided to join the pilgrimage as a member of its defenders instead of as the arcane advisor to its leader.

Keira was born amongst the Riverdown elves, but left the life of a hunter-gatherer very early in her life. She desired more of life and desired to mingle amongst the other folk of the world, so naturally the melting pot known as Hammerfast was to be her new home. She didn’t have much to start a life there, though she was under the mistaken impression that she was. Because of this, she quickly learned to fend for herself through acts of legerdemain.
She did her best to stay out of the number of guilds and groups running in Hammerfast and was luckily taught the arts by a mentor who wasn’t out to induct new members. His name was Jeremiah Gant and he took her under his wing, taught her to filch, and demanded nothing of her. Sadly, his and her skill were desired by local gangs and they were very territorial and demanded a cut in their earnings. Neither of them was willing to pay. There was a bit of a rough time for the two as they’d be attacked by the most notorious gang, the Red Fingers, almost daily.
Gant decided to up and leave town recently, but told Keira of an excellent mark she may be able to retire on. An aristocrat in the Lore Ward possessed a very rare jade statuette that a man named Parle Cranewing in Fallcrest yearned for. Cranewing made it known to very illicit channels that he’d pay handsomely for the item. Jeremiah intercepted this message and gave Keira the information. She was in and out of the lord’s home in no time.
She knew she wouldn’t be able to leave town with the item because the guard would find it on her easily. Luckily, a group of pilgrims was bound on their way out of the city the next morning and she figured she could use them as a distraction to get through. Her mind changed quickly, however, when she learned Nerathi ruins would be explored by the pilgrims and anyone who wanted to live in the new village being built would be given a home.

At a very young age, Valanae learned the lessons of death well. Her family and all in her small village in the Feywild were crushed by fomorian barbarians. A ghaele of winter saved her from that terrible fate and the two escaped into the material world. The powerful fey that saved her could not stay with her for long, but in their time together, Valanae learned much of the Raven Queen. So she swore fealty to the goddess of winter and sought out her lore and her teachings.
Her travels brought her to Hammerfast and to the Great Church. She studied amongst the other devout, but her inquiries into the dogma and tenets of the Raven Queen were hard pressed as no standing representative lived in Hammerfast. The idea of living in a city where the dead walked with the living was a slight against the teachings of the Goddess of Death. In short order, she became the authority of the Raven Queen in the city.
She was approached after a few years in Hammerfast by a priest of her goddess named Croog. The two became close and would travel to the areas around Hammerfast to aid farmers and offer protections against the threat of undead. They would toil in the Grand Library to seek out knowledge of evils in the Vale and beyond, violations of death, and find them and destroy them.
It came as no surprise to Valanae that Croog wished to find the notes and powerful artifacts of a powerful necromancer and priest of Orcus when word of this villain came into Hammerfast. What did surprise her is that he demanded to go by himself. Valanae was emotionally wounded, but vowed to continue her good work in the city.
Her studies brought the Ghost Towers to her attention. Rumors of a ghostly tower appearing in the Harken Forest also fell upon her ears. So when a priest of Moradin started gathering folk together to travel to those very woods and seek out the ruins of an old Nerathi fortification, Valanae thought it would be in her best interests to join them and offer her services in protecting the pilgrimage and destroying any undead abominations which beset it.

When Brother Splintershield raised up the call for the willing and able to protect this group of peaceful villagers, these heroes answered the call. Their journey would lead them far into the Harken Forest, to the ruins of Castle Inverness. And so it came to pass that the Splintershield Pilgrims traveled onto the pages of history…

The Well of Demons
Up the Cairngorms

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