Shadow Over the Nentir Vale

Kobold Ambush

During the early morning, Hadrian’s steel flew out into the cold morning sun. “Ambush!” he yelled. Kobolds came out from the small patches of trees flanking the road. Hadrian met them head on, his armored form darting into the brush. Dalor’s mind was in the right place and wild magic furled from his fingers into the vanguard of the ambush pack. The dragonshields watched as the bolt ricocheted into their ranks, wounding even their wyrmpriest. Rage filled them and they barked curses in Draconic.

First Night in Winterhaven

So it came to pass that the band of heroes arrived in Winterhaven. Delphina made her way to the market square to sell her suspicious wares. Hadrian, Raiza, Rignor, and Dalor made their way to the local tavern, known as Wrafton’s Inn. Erveliss and Gervan made their way to the Temple of Avandra to meet with Sister Linora. Talos went to acquire some necessities, especially oils and bits for the upkeep of his leg.
The patrons of the bar were mainly farmers in for a bit to drink to close off a good day’s work to close the week. The person who stood out above those individual was immediately focused on by Hadrian. He saw the elven woman who appeared to be some form of ranger. She sat alone at a table by herself. Wanting more information, he sat next to an old man who immediately interrupted with conversation before he could speak to the female bartender.

On the Road

The group knew it would be two days of walking up the King’s Road until they arrived at Winterhaven. They continued their pleasantries and small talk, learning more of their companions. Some kept to themselves in this journey, others talked at length about their past. Talos had a simple nag, so his lack of a left leg didn’t slow the group’s pace. They made for camp on the side of the road and Dalor helped assemble a decent camp. They assigned watches for the evening, but Erveliss said he would maintain a perceptive vigil while he tranced into the Feywild. Being an eladrin, this form of rest was an obvious advantage for a group of travelers. The night went by uneventfully, but for a simple event in the early morning. A rider with yellow attire and yellow flags flailing from him and his horse rode hard past them, northward. The group continued on.

As fate would have it, a group of kobolds were spotted up ahead on by the adventurers and it appeared they had a girl in their midst. She let out a shrill cry for help, so the heroes quickly obliged. Raiza snapped forward and learned that more waited just around the broken down wall of an old farmhouse they took the girl in to. Hadrian’s path was beset by kobold slingers, who hit him true with a glue pot, a notorious kobold concoction capable of holding the strongest of heroes in place. He fought against the sticky bonds as Dalor ran into cover with the acolyte. Neither wished to die at the hands of the dragonkin. Erveliss released bolts of cold at the leader of this kobold band, but it bore a white scale for a shield and was not hurt as much as Erveliss would have liked by his frost bolts. Talos and Rignor brought weapons in and aided their allies in the quick and telling defeat of the kobolds.

With victory had, the group looked to the girl. She praised Avandra for their arrival, introduced herself as Delphina Moongem, and asked to be escorted to Winterhaven. Hadrian accepted the request of the maiden. Talos noticed she had no signs of wounds or struggle, and this unnerved him a bit. It was a quite curious detail he could not explain, as kobolds were hardly ever gentle with their prisoners. As he pondered it, Raiza found an odd holy symbol among the group, a charred wood piece carved in the shape of a skull. He knew it was a primitive symbol of the demon prince Orcus. He shrugged his doubt about the girl aside for the time being and they headed on to Winterhaven.

The Introduction at Fallcrest
The afternoonsun continued its decent toward the western horizon and Pelor’s grace dimmed in the town of Fallcrest. The commonfolk hustled to get a few more purchases from market at bargain prices or to head home before the autumn cold set in for the night. The chill air irritated Talos’ bones and made his muscles ache, but he hobbled on his mechanical leg on to the ? taphouse despite his pain. Once inside, he saw a number of adventure-seekers and hoped the were headed north so he might accompany a band of them. The establishment was of a lower standard than he was used to, so he was unsure as to whether he wanted to order a drink or not. He sat at the bar next to a dwarf, still unsure about that drink…

Rignor shrugged with slight annoyance as the finely-robed man sat near him. The dwarf lifted his mug to his beard and drank heartily, almost wishing the ale would wash away the possibility of the fancy dan talking to him. In short order, the man, who Rignor learned to be known as Talos Perdix, started a conversation with him, but he did so in the Dwarven language. This made Rignor a bit more receptive to the man. After only a few minute of dialogue, it became clear to them both that they shard an interest in traveling north to Winterhaven and the surrounding area. Meanwhile, an eladrin mage and a wary human priest entered.

Hadrian was upset by his inability to do anything. He picked at the table edge with his dagger and thought on his uncle. He felt something was wrong before he got the letter this morning. He had to follow Uncle Douvan and find out what befell him. He knew it’d be easy enough to break away from his job as a porter working for Barstomun Strongbeard, but he didn’t want to rush off alone. He remembered his uncle’s lessons on what happens to a lone wolf. So, he came to the tavern this very evening to look as formidable as possible in hopes of getting hired by merchants or banding with a group of treasure seekers.

It wasn’t long until he was approached by the eladrin mage, who he’d come to know as Erveliss, and the acolyte named Gervan. They were headed north to Winterhaven and wished to hire Hadrian to help fight cultists. Hadrian accepted, but asked for three hundred gold as compensation. Erveliss agreed on one hundred gold up front and the remainder once the deed was done. There conversation was overheard by many in the tavern, but mainly the shadowy figure in the corner. Raiza the rogue approached them after hearing a bit of their future plans and offered to join the group for little more than provisions. Erveliss gladly accepted. Meanwhile, a drunken fool banged a spreading knife against a mug.

The benevolent dream being was forced to retreat Dalor’s mind. His control had been usurped by the alcohol and taken over by one of the many other personalities that inhabited this vessel. He was a dwarven crafter, most likely brought on by the intake of good dwarven stout. After banging on the empty mug for a time, he offered it to the dwarf priest at the bar, “A fine dwarven blade for a fine dwarven friend!” he exclaimed. Words of adventure to the north flooded his mind and he stumbled on to Hadrian’s table, proclaiming the service of his blade to be theirs. He was sprawled out upon the table and proudly held up his spreading knife. Then, something strange happened…

Dalor spoke to everyone without speaking. They heard him in their mind. Just as the real dwarf prepared to come over and speak with the four of them. Erveliss and Talos knew then he was some form of psychic and his aid, though chaotic, would most likely serve them greatly. After some more conversation, they all agreed to leave together for Winterhaven the next morning.

Dark Fate
Llvarr Shaak’Haon knew nothing of his true heritage growing up. He was found wrapped in a cloak of such blackness that it seemed almost a tatter of the night sky itself, abandoned as a newborn on the steps of the Guild of Shadows. His future mentor, a world weary Drow by the name of Shakuun, immediately recognized him as a tiefling. Regardless, he ordered the Guild to bring him in, and the child was raised with the moniker “Smoke” a name he would identify with for the rest of his mortal life.

Shakuun taught him well, and Smoke’s skills as an assassin grew quickly, much to his Master’s delight. Having no children of his own, his relationship with the orphaned tiefling was very paternal, and both were outcasts in the broader society of man. However, their respect and attachment to each other was more than enough to carry them past the ignorance and prejudice of the common folk. As such, Smoke learned not to resent those who feared him, instead tempering their hatred with sympathy and understanding, and often a hidden sense of pity. Even so, he is always cautious and extra aware when operating in public. One of his favorite games growing up was to sweep through the busy marketplaces, trying as hard as possible not to be seen as he cut purses and picked pockets. Then, during the evening, he would return all the items and purses to their owners, as the Guild forbid him from stealing from the commoners.

One night, his dreams were visited by a dark spectre, a powerful Devil reclining on a blood soaked throne, his silhouette framed by sickly red light. His burning, crimson eyes looked deep into Smoke’s soul, and the assassin knew true terror. This Devil claimed itself as Smoke’s ancestor, hailing from his line’s origins in Bael Turath, and it spoke his true name; Llvarr Shaak’Haon. He told Smoke of how, one day, his patient reserve would run out, and the nations of men the world over would fear his true name. On this day, his ancestor promised to claim him as part of his infernal brood, and Smoke would lead his fiendish armies to lay waste to the fearful mortals.

Smoke woke in cold sweat, trickles of blood coming from his ears, and Shakuun kneeling in the dark beside him.
“I felt the presence of a sinister force. They have marked you as one of theirs, haven’t they?”
Shaken, Smoke told his Master of the dream. On his upper arm was burned a black mark in the shape of a flame.

Shakuun listened carefully before saying, “I named you ‘Smoke’, and I raised you as a son. I taught you to be as the smoke, to flow like air, to move silently, and to give your victim no warning save the soft smell of sudden death. Just as I taught you to decide the fate of others, now you must decide the fate of yourself. The journey to your ultimate destiny, the destiny you will choose for yourself, begins here and now.”
And that is how Smoke came to be the assassin of his own fate…

Into Madness
Silence. Entropy swirled like a corona about the head of Dalor Decabessa and flared out to consume all around it. An insatiable hunger presided in the depths of its belly, yearning for the slow obliteration or quick explosion of anything it wishes to destroy.

The cold of winter slammed into his back, soaking the twigs and branches he scoured to use as firewood in his home. He came up out of the forests, lost, but high up on a hill. What I wouldn’t give for a drink, he thought to himself. His mind went back to his home and his hearth, where he could cook up some pig and settle down with a coal-black mug of warm lager. In the distance, he saw a hundred points of light glistening around a river.

Slither. Hide. Must not be seen. Burn it all. Yessss. It sneaked down into the vale and came into the town, eyes darting about in hopes of finding something to burn or something to eat. Yesssss…

His stride was arrogant and proud, but strained under the weight of age. A couple of passers by waved at him as they strolled through the streets of Fallcrest on this nice summer’s day.
“You wippersnappers! Show some respect! I’m a Grand Septarch!”
They looked at him curiously and confused, but hasted away with a few chuckles. The youth these days! the old mage thought to himself.

What was that? Did I hear something? Is someone following me?

The wretched thing fell into the shadows of an alleyway. The sun burned at his cursed flesh. His mind was filled with fear. Out from the alleyway, he saw all manner of church and shrine, forcing him to shrink farther back into the alleyway. He would wait until night fell, and then he’d enter the mortal world, perhaps for a bite to drink.

Work was ever so hard to find. The assassin entered the tavern and quietly sat in a dark corner. When offered a drink, he ordered a simple ale and scanned the other patrons. Maybe work would come to him.

The gold dragon lied down amongst his horde and slept deeply.

“I need a drink!” the dwarf exclaimed. He popped up into his seat and looked to the wench, demanding the finest dwarven ales.

THIS MUST STOP! The prisoner broke free and looked about, his mind feeling atrophied from being bound so long. What was he doing in this tavern…?

Mysterious Mission
The sun was setting in the city of Vendar. The wind from the Nentir Vale to the north east was biting. Raiza sat completely still atop the Tower of Shadows, his mentor Taesan Dragoneater stood across from him. Both were standing atop slender spires that ascended into the clouds some twenty feet over the top of the tower.. The slightest sign of fear or a false movement would have led to a dire fall. After a few hours of this, the two masters of balance and control headed off. With this, Raiza’ training was complete. He was ready for his first sortie.

The Guild of Shadows studied the arts of espionage and information-gathering from the teaching of Andruxil, a mysterious woman who fought alongside King Kelvin the First when he was but a provincial lord in the battles that freed Vendar and Nentir Vale from the vile creatures that ruled over them. It was now the mission of the Guild to seek out and then remove problematic individuals like cult leaders, rabble-risers, and crime lords with their skillful arts. Taesan was given the order to find such a man named Kalarel, a known priest of Orcus, and kill him before he became a problem for one of the small towns in the Nentir Vale. Raiza accompanied his mentor.

They tracked the priest to a small town known as Stasi just south of the Barrier Mountains. When they finally confronted him, they became quickly aware of the fact that they had been baited into a trap. Kalarel was joined by undead minions and another necromancer named Helvec. Taesan sacrificed himself so that Raiza could flee. The changeling did not let the heroic act be in vain and fled to Sarthel, where he reported the events of the mission to the Guild contact there. Raiza was then given the order to remain in Vendar, where he would prepare as he waited for his next mission. Raiza hoped it would bring him to those he killed his mentor so he could exact a horrific revenge upon them.

After several months of waiting, Raiza was ordered to go to Fallcrest to meet a contact. Little information on the matter was given, but it was not his place to question. Once in Fallcrest, he waited at the Lucky Gnome taphouse, trying to remain in the open as much as possible so his mystery contact would approach. A group of laborers found him first and surrounded his table. Some folk in the area showed a bit of hatred for the outsider, as outsiders are often viewed skeptically in the frontier towns in the Nentir Vale. The leader of this band leaned over the table and grimaced at Raiza.

“I lost my coin purse earlier and I’m certain it was you who took it! Give me all your gold and we won’t have to break you!”

“Certainly, you’ve got the wrong man. I’m an honest merchant,” Raiza replied. The laborers laughed and the leader replied, “No merchant is honest! Take us to your wares!”

The changeling headed out the door, leading them a ways. When the moment came, Raiza bolted for a nearby alleyway with yelling laborers giving chase just behind.

Raiza became like a shadow once they were out of sight and, when they came into the dark alley he fell into, focused on the leader of the ruffians. Confused and not knowing where the “merchant” had disappeared to, the man’s guard fell. Raiza capitalized on this moment by blasting the leader in the head with a heavy sap. The other would-be brigands tried to escape, but Raiza threw his daggers just right so the handle hit their crowns and knocked them out before they got out into the streets.

Upon completion of his work, the changeling noticed an elderly woman standing and staring at him with a completely calm and collected expression. He felt as if she had been there all along, yet he only now just realized it.
“Do you want to do the King’s work?” she asked. The changeling noticed the black disc tattoo in the woman’s palm that mirrored his own Guild tattoo.
“It depends on the work,” he responded coyly. She gave him the details of the work, then left the alley as strangely as she had arrived, like a smoky shadow.
“Don’t worry about them. We’ll clean up,” her disembodied voice guaranteed.

Raiza knew the road ahead was plagued with kobolds, goblins, and slavers, so he headed into town to another tavern to perhaps find some adventuring types to travel with him to the remote village he was heading to. This is how it came to be that Raiza would come to the place of the foulest black and rise to meet it…

Ominous Signs
Rignar Whitebeard first met Dorian Day in Hammerfast at the request of Marla of the Great Church. They didn’t get long to know each other before they were instructed to travel together to a small hamlet on the King’s Road just south of the Old Hills. A farmer sent a request to the High Priestess requesting something be done about his two young boys. They had gone missing in the night and the local priest of Erathis suggested he write the Great Church a request. So it was that Rignar and Dorian made their way to seek out the missing children.

They came to the farmer’s home, and the vagabond priest of Erathis told them that, according to his spells, the children were still alive and were most likely being kept in an old mausoleum north of the hamlet. Rignar knew of it as a haunted site from his studies, an old tomb for noble families long since forgotten. Their journey was quick, following the guidance of the local priest and the farmer. They found the mausoleum as evening fell and dismounted their horses and readied their arms. Fear did not ride with them, and they strode with purpose through the stone doors of the desecrated memorial.

The necromancer and his skeleton soldiers held the children inside the old crypt, but were met mid-ritual by Dorian’s steel and Rignar’s hammer. The combat was quick, as the servants of the Church knew to cut the head off the snake and the rest would fall limp. The bones clattered across the floor and hammer and blade followed finishing off the necromancer’s goblin minions. Dorian made quickly to free the children from their bonds. Rignar inspected the vile spellcaster’s body for some clue as to his goals or allies. He found the necromancer’s vile ritual book and a note, which read:

Dear Acolyte,

I hope that your ritual to summon the
neldrazu is successful. My own endeavors are nearing their completion. It is but a matter of months, perhaps even weeks. As you already know, if you do come to my lair and wish to enter the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is “From the ground, some magic was found.”


Dorian took it upon himself to return the ritual book to Marla. He instructed Rignar to go to Fallcrest, seek out this Kalarel, and find heroes to band together to stop him from whatever vile works he was doing. Rignar did just that, pooling together his resources for the long trip down the King’s Road. This is how it came to be that Rignar sought out the cult leader’s demise…

Fleeing Acolyte
Erveliss Glanodel stood in shock, surrounded by the burning yurts of his gnomish brethren and their fallen bodies. Out of the smoke and ash stepped a lithe gnome female, her entire body was filling with rage. She held a charred gnome child in her arms and tears ran down her soot-covered face. She was Annastrianna Taurgezi, a scout and guardian of the Taurgezi tribe and daughter of the recently deceased chieftain. The chieftain died before this slaughter. Erveliss knew her anger. He shared it, for his older brother Solvinar was left to this chaos. The two immediately sought out the tracks of the culprits. Annastrianna’s leopard companion Snow lead the way.

They knew that a gnome kinsman named Agrid and a group of his closest kin had recently joined forces with a powerful necromancer they knew as Kalarel. They left the tribe because they did not agree that Solvinar should rule the tribe. Agrid demanded that all the clan come to join this black magician and serve him or they would meet a foul end. The elders did not believed him and banished him and his followers. According to what Annastrianna could tell of the battle’s remains, the renegades came back with a goblin band and wizard’s fire. Erveliss and Annastrianna were out on patrol when the attack hit.

The tracks of the goblin band were not hard to follow and they had apparently been back at the mouth of their cave lair for several hours. The gnome scout unleashed her arrows and her feline companion upon the enemies as Erveliss summoned up nature spirits to exact revenge. They made short work of the goblins and traveled within. They expected opposition in the cave and found it in the gnome renegade twins, Dem and Lem.
“Oh, hello, servitor! And welcome, whore of Corellon! What brings you here, Erveliss” Lem chided.
“We are here to make Agrid pay!” Erveliss roared.

“Oh, Erveliss. He’s already left with the Master! They head to the Keep on the Shadowfell! They will bring the Winged One back to this realm!” he laughed maniacally. Annastrianna shot an arrow into his arm. A fight ensued, ending with the twins being knocked out. Erveliss tied the two up as Annastrianna scouted ahead. The cries of a man in agony could be heard resounding in the cave. They continued on.

They found the back end of the cave. Roots had been magically sprouted from the cave wall and held a man pinned to it. He was crying out as Serge, the last of Agrid’s gnome allies, was stabbing him with a sharpened piece of rock. A group of goblins turned to face the pair and began hostilities. Serge quickly joined in the fray, leaving the man with the sharp rock in his side. Annastrianna’s arrows and Erveliss’s spirit’s claws rent the foes asunder. Annastrianna’s arrows did Serge in, one left jutting from his eye socket. The priest breathed a sigh of relief through blood-flecked lips.

Erveliss began to free the priest. As he did, Annastrianna cried out in sharp pain. When Erveliss looked over to her in surprise, he saw Dem materialize from thin air behind her with a black-bladed short sword through her back. Erveliss threw his icy fury at her, conjuring up the fiercest cold he could muster. He held nothing back until Dem was little more than shards of ice on the cavern floor. The gnome cried out his last breath victoriously, “Your brother, Solvinar, will die as a sacrifice at Orcus’ feet!” Annastrianna’s form had already gone cold as well, but Erveliss could feel her spirit moving about him.

“The priest is not beyond saving…” the spirit whispered.

The priest’s face was pallid and he spat blood. Erveliss’ healed him the best he could and brought the priest back to health. The wizard ripped him free from the wall. The priest finally got a good look at Erveliss and blinked in confusion, smiling awkwardly, having never seen an eladrin before. “Are you…an elf…?”
“We can talk later, we need to get out of here for now,” Erveliss replied as he put Annastrianna’s corpse over his shoulder. The two fled from the cave, but Erveliss knew Lem had escaped. As they hurried away, the priest introduced himself as Gervan, an acolyte of Avandra, who he said was responsible for the Erveliss’ arrival.

“I am here to avenge my people that were slaughtered by these devils! How did they come to capture you?” Erveliss inquired. Gervan told the eladrin that he came from Winterhaven, a town near the Cairngorm Peaks and that he served Sister Linora. He was traveling the land in search of heroes to help him and Sister Linora uncover a cult of Orcus in his town. He then offered to pay Erveliss to come with him to Fallcrest to find heroes and then return with him to his town to deal with the mysterious cult. Erveliss agreed. This is how it came to be that Erveliss met Gervan the Acolyte of Avandra and began his quest to find his brother…

Missing Mentor
Hadrian had been living and studying with his mentor, Douvan Staul, for some time in his estate within the Cloak Wood. He was no stranger to the dangers of kobolds and understood the dangers presented by dragons. When Douvan told Hadrian that they would travel together deeper into the forest to seek out a blue wyrmling that had been giving neighboring lumberjacks some problems and bring an end to it, it did not worry Hadrian in the slightest.

They trekked off that very next day and spent a long six hours hiking through the forest. Douvan led the way and Hadrian was physically capable of following his mentor anywhere he should lead. As the sun started its decent back to the horizon, the two came upon a pair of kobolds with pikes standing outside a peculiar gate. From what Douvan had been told by the lumberjacks, this was the lair of the blue wyrmling Kepsk’edar.

The two descended upon the kobold pikers with stealth and grace. Hadrian took one of the longspears as his own, adding to his arsenal. They quickly dispatched the guards and made their way into the first chamber of this dungeon. More kobolds assailed them and, as they fought, more yet came through the door. They were led by a kobold in armor holding a large steel shield emblazoned with a rampant blue dragon. Hadrian engaged it head on with his great axe after passing his spear to Douvan, who fought from behind Hadrian’ sweeping blade. This technique did them well in the narrow corridor and they continued into the heart of the dungeon.

The blue wyrmling sat on a throne surrounded by a pit, filled with old and fresh dead alike. The wyrmling, it seemed, also preyed on the King’s Road for travelers. It yelled to its kobold minions to continue their work. Their mining picks rang against stone as Hadrian and Douvan’s steel met tooth and claw. They fought through the thick sandy breath shot into their eyes and finally defeated the dragon. They then inspected the work of the now-dead kobolds and saw that they were trying to break open a massive stone gate. Douvan suggested they leave it be. Hadrian gathered up the dragon’s hoard and the two made their way out of the dungeon.

It was here that Hadrian met the surprise for the day. Douvan told his student to return to his hometown of Fallcrest, deliver the head of the slain Kepsk’edar, and then stay there for a time. He wished for Hadrian to master his own destiny and felt odd jobs in the city may serve him well. Hadrian obliged after being gifted his master’s longbow and a quiver of arrows.

After three months of working as a porter in the city of Fallcrest and making efforts to remain out of the notice of his father, Hadrian received a letter from his mentor’s wife. It detailed how the old weapon master had gotten together with old adventuring friends shortly after Hadrian was sent away and how he wished to find an old dragon tomb lost near the town of Winterhaven. No word of his whereabouts had been received since he had left. This is how it came to be that Hadrian sought out his mentor’s fate…

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