Ascendants Rising - A Forgotten Realms Campaign

7 Flamerule, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Kenkumage
The party set out on its quest to purge Sessrenglade of the undead that have haunted its ruins for so long. And in so doing; once again open the Sessrendale Road for trade with the northern Dalelands and beyond. A move that, if Darius Green’s forecast proves accurate; would bring great prosperity and growth to Winterhaven.

Accompanying you on this journey is Crassif Artoniss, the guard captain of Darius Green’s merchant coster. Darius insisted that Crassif accompnay you on your journey to ensure the accuracy of your bounty counts.

You’d been no more than an hour outside town, when you were ambushed by an all too familiar foe: kenku’s. The kenku had concealed themselves behind trees and bushes on either side of the road. A kenku mage had even taken up position on a nearby hillock, so that he might lob ranged attacks upon the groups heads with impunity (or so he thought). The attack was made all the more disturbing by the fact that just as the battle began, you all clearly heard Ninaran’s voice calling from the tall brush to the east side of the road. A taunting call to “Koooojiiii!” A call that a kenku later in the fight mimicked. You’ve known of ravens trained to mimic simple words or phrases, perhaps these bizarre creatures posses the same skill? Or maybe it really was Ninaran? But even if it wasn’t the elven huntress, how would the kenku have known her voice? How could they have duplicated it so clearly? And worse yet; how would they have known to taunt the monk she had killed, surely intent on separating Koji from his companions, just as she did on that fateful day?

The Sun Soul monk might have entertained the idea of answering her call with a kick to the face, and almost charged headlong into the brush to deliver the message; but thought better of it in the end when he was suddenly surrounded by kenku from both sides. A few stinging slashes from the kenku daggers, and Koji invoked the power of his magical gi, and teleported himself clear of the kenku warriors and formed up with his companions for the battle to come.

The battle was hard fought. Nearly a dozen kenku assailed the party from all sides. Koji the Monk, Zekknar the Wizard, and Thunt Beltbreaker the Chauntean Cleric all suffered serious wounds at one time or another during the pitched battle, and thankfully the Great Mother answered Thunt’s calls for aid at every turn. Praise be to the Grain Goddess and her generous bounty!

As the dust settled, you couldn’t help but wonder if this was a bandit attack or something more? The first time you encountered a group of kenku they ambushed you then as well; intent on looting what was left of your corpses after an owlbear had had its fill. The tactics are certainly consistent. So is this some new threat in the area? Is there some group of kenku bandits holed up in the Semberholme? Or was this premeditated? Is this retribution for the deaths of the kenku that tried to murder you when you fought the owlbear?

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26 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 2)

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The night passes uneventfully, if fitfully; as you ponder Darius Green’s offer. There’s much to consider.

On the one hand, you cannot help but feel very grateful to the man. If it wasn’t enough that he brought you Evan Brightborne, a man that could raise Koji from the dead; the merchant then went on to cover the cost of the resurrection! It’s said the Tymora’s Luckbringers often bring succor to those who brave the wilds in search of adventure, asking nothing in return; but still.

If that wasn’t enough, when the merchant arrived at the tower the next day for the meeting he had requested; he came with a job offer.

The House Veruna Trading Company is expanding, and the Old Sessrendale Road could be a key trade route. As it stands, that haunted road hasn’t been used much for more than a century by anyone other that the very brave, or the very foolish. If you embark upon this quest, and succeed; opening the road could bring a great deal of wealth and commerce to Winterhaven. But certainly it is not without risk. Fighting a few undead in Shadowfell Keep was one thing. You go to purge the ruins of an entire town, possibly an entire Dale!

Before retiring for the evening, Zekknar did some research in the library:

In the Sessrendale War of 1232 DR (current year is 1479 DR), Archendale defeated Sessrendale. Brutally. The armies of Archendale burned the village of Sessrenglade to the ground, and went on to salt the earth of the vale for miles in every direction; to prevent resettlement.

So effective were the heinous methods of the Swords of Archendale, not many beyond Deepingdale even remember Sessrendale ever existed. Those that do, often call it something other than Sessredale: they call it The Dead Dale. While that name itself may have originally derived from the desolate lands of that once lush valley, over the years it has come to signify something even darker. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that, after such horror; the dead of the village of Sessrenglade rose from their graves seeking retribution. And they seek it still.

If the Old Sessrenglade Road could be reopened, it could potentially cut a tenday or more from caravans running along the Moonsea Ride. Not only that, it could provide a major trade route linking Eastern Cormyr with Highmoon, and beyond. Winterhaven would likely become a popular caravan stop along the way.

Darius was offering a reward for your quest as well. Maybe “bounty” is a better word? For every undead you kill, he’ll pay you 10gp. You have no idea just how many of the walking dead live amongst the remains of Sessrenglade, but if it’s anywhere near as many as you suspect; that could be a profitable arrangement indeed!

To assist you in your quest (and to keep tabs on just how many undead you kill), Darius insisted that one of his mean accompany you. Crassif Artoniss, the captain of his guard. The battle scarred veteran spoke very little in your meeting.

Finally, the merchant offered one last prize to sweeten the deal, though not directly: knowledge of treasure within the ruins. Green’s assistant, Niles Lawson, told you of a wizard of Sessreglade who, legend has it; died in the Sessredale War.

Iounstones

This wizard was said to own no less than four of the legendary Ioun Stones. Niles even claimed that one of them was reputedly a Jet Black Ioun Stone. If so; an artifact of great power.

If I recall correctly, opinions varied on this one and perhaps need to be explored further when you have your follow up meeting Darius Green in the morning:

  • Reardon seemed excited about the prospect of doing battle with something; anything! I think he was eager to accept Green’s contract, but was open to the idea of negotiating.
  • Zekknar also seemed interesting in taking up Green on his offer, but definitely wanted to re-negotiate the bounty.
  • Koji, ever impartial in matters concerning material gain, seemed eager for adventure but was (of course) disinterested in financial recompense.
  • Thunt on the other hand had strong, even belligerent opinions about this whole deal. The dwarven priest felt that opening this trade route would one day corrupt this tiny village.
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26 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 1)

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Winterhaven’s surprisingly bustling and enthusiastic Market Day came as a bit of a surprise, you suspect not only to yourselves; but perhaps to the community as well. The East Way is open once again, free of the kobold tribe and their banditry. With the (relative) safety of that all important link to the outside world, to Highmoon and points beyond; commerce has been reinvigorated in this small frontier village.

It’s been more than a few rides since Winterhaven has seen such a thriving Market Day, and it brought with it a deluge of new arrivals.

At least two of Highmoon’s major merchant companies showed up for Market Day. Typically Silverhand House or Andelmaus Logging would simply send an advocate of their respective costers, along with a laborer or two and a handful of guards. These representatives would conduct simple transactions: Pickup a shipment of lumber cut from the Semberholme forest, or perhaps a couple wagon loads of Winterhaven’s agricultural goods, things of that nature. But today, the merchants handling this territory for each of their respective companies was on hand personally. Presumably to asses the state of Winterhaven, their investments, and their future business prospects in the area.

One new merchant house had also arrived in Winterhaven: the House Veruna Trading Company. You know very little about this merchant company. You do know that the merchant Darius Green is their representative in town. You bumped into him while strolling through the market. He was on his way to “an important meeting”, but he thought it fortunate that he’d bumped into you, because he’d wanted to introduce you to a friend of his: a priest of Tymora named Even Brightborne.


Summary of New People, Organizations, and Events

  • Tohnii Calandra the Bard – Tohnii had been staying at Wrafton’s Inn before it burned down in the attack by Kalarel’s hobgoblin and undead forces. She had been plying her trade as bard for some time before the attack. Either she had become fond of Winterhaven, or perhaps seeing a business opportunity; Tohnii purchased the burned out plot from Lord Padraig. She quickly began building a new inn. You heard a rumor that she is of noble birth, and the the money she raised to build the inn is an inheritance.
  • Tilman Glithrambor – Hunter/Furrier. Misanthrope that lives on the edge of town. Seemed strangely on edge when the party visited him on the way to Ninaran’s cabin (Tilman being her nearest neighbor). You mentioned Tilman to Thair Coalstriker, who didn’t know too much about the old man. He said Tilman himself claimed he was once a Ranger of some renown. A hero even. He sure didn’t seem like one. He warned you to stay away from Ninaran. That she was dangerous.
  • Orinos Surefoot – Merchant of Silverhand House, of Highmoon. Orinos is no stranger to Winterhaven, but isn’t exactly a frequent visitor either. When you first happened upon Orinos, he was arguing with a local Winterhaven resident; Jakk Arvidson, a local carpenter and woodcutter. You didn’t catch what the argument was about, but Jakk excused himself when the party approached. Orinos has heard of the party, and mentioned that in addition to visiting the willage to re-establish business ties; he wanted to meet the heroes responsible for reopening the East Way. You also noticed a half-orc guard of his, casually watching over Orinos. Presumably his personal guard? Or perhaps guard captain?
  • Jakk Arvidson – Carpenter, woodcutter. Jakk’s lumber mill is on the edge of town. He and his sons provide lumber and carpentry service to local residents, as well as trade with Andelmaus Logging and Silverhand House. He and his family also make some fine, high quality furniture. The mill is the largest in the area. It would seem that he’s doing quite well for himself (gossip), and its no surprise; considering he such easy access to the Semberholme forest.
  • Tolbin Fiedlerson – You didn’t get a chance to talk to Tolbin, but you noticed him in conversation with Tohnii over some documents at the building site for the new inn. Tolbin is a merchant with Andelmaus Logging, out of Highmoon. While Arvidson Lumber can obviously provide lumber, the inn is a fairly large project; so perhaps Andelmaus Logging is supplying the endeavor as well?
  • Darius Greene – Merchant captain of House Veruna Trading Company.
  • Even Brightborne -
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25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 5)

Winterhaven’s Market Square is transformed!

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The first thing you notice is that someone is rebuilding Wrafton’s Inn. When you left, the black skeleton of the once warm and cozy tavern were strewn about the foundation, piles of burnt debris throughout. Almost nothing of the immolated and ravaged inn remains. The charcoal beams and soot have been cleared away. The foundation has been scrubbed and repaired in spots, and sturdy new oak walls have already been framed. Even now several men clamber about on the joists of the framed ceiling, while others shuffle through the chaos of lumber, masonry, and building supplies. Peering through the lattice work of framed walls between you and the back of the building, you see more workers doing masonry work on what appears to be a wine cellar, as they rise in and out of view from down the freshly laid stairway. One of the workers spies Thunt atop the wagon and gives him a friendly wave.

But the banging cacophany of hammer falls slowly falter as all eyes turn towards the wagon and the somber crowd following it.

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You also note the foreman of the site, pouring over several pieces of parchment atop a makeshift table, look up in wry amusment. You’re maybe not surprised to find that apparently the owner of the new inn is Tohnii Calandra, the Bard from Arabel. She meets your gaze with a half-smile for just a moment, and then cranes her neck past the brightly dressed human merchant standing next to her, to see over the wall of the wagon.

She raises an eyebrow and glances over at an elf leaning against the keep wall to the east. The leather clad elf brushes a lock of long black hair from his face as he peers at the back of the wagon.

Tohnii and the elf exchange a look, the elf shrugs with apparent disinterest, grabs his unstrung bow from where it leans against the wall, and walks out the gate.

Only then do you notice the wolf. The raven black wolf lying near the wall rises, and your eyes widen at the size of the thing. Three feet tall at the shoulder, nearly six feet long from nose to the end of its thick tail, its baleful pale green eyes meet yours just before it trots out the gate after the elven ranger.

The market square is a jumble of stalls, wagons, and stands, made all the more cramped by the numerous piles of lumber stacked around the construction site and the burned out Smithy to its west.

All throughout, the chatter, laughter, shouting kaleidescope of color; provide a backdrop to the busy market.

Villagers have their wagons filled with goods, doing business from the tailgate. Others (more successful?) have stalls here and there, the wares of their trade hanging from the walls or laid out on wooden countertops. Still others make do with a few boards draped across a couple barrels or boxes. Goods for sale from Villagers: corn, cornmeal, wheat, flour, barley, herbs, flowers, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, sugar beets, sorghum syrup, molasses, lettuce, eggs, jerked beef, bacon. Crafted items like candles (beeswax, tallow) and lamp oils from Brand Hurston, fine furniture made by the Arvidson’s, pottery (bowls, jugs, mugs, pitchers, plates) from Stein Monson, rugs, rope, twine, yarn, brooms Stefan White, casks, barrels, buckets by the local cooper (Belgold Cartiin), and much more.

As you look about the bustling hive of activity, you notice quite a number of new faces. Some appear to be folk from the county around Winterhaven, but many are clearly from abroad. Since making your way to the market square, you’ve noticed quite a number of armed men you can only assume are merchant guards, considering their matching tabards or clothing.

Some wear green sometimes trimmed in yellow, with a coat of arms upon their tabards of a white hart chasing a fox on a green field. Most are wearing boiled leather, and have scabbarded longswords at their hips.

Others are clad in brown, though they don’t wear tabards. Their dark brown cloaks are trimmed in green. Each has his cloak clasped with a black enameled symbol that looks like a tree.

Still others wear chainmail belted at the waist, faded and dusty white cloaks draped across their backs. Upon the cloaks; a coat of arms has been cleverly stitched and dyed. A rearing goat on a blue field, standing atop a gold scale.

And of course here and there you see one of the Winterhaven Regulars, who give you a friendly nod as you pass.

The stables are overflowing with horses. The stables themselves are full, plus the hitching post out front, and along the side of the stables is nearly packed to capacity.

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25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 4)

It’s well past highsun when the road finally finds its way out of the Semberholme. The creaking racket of the wagon and the clop of your horses hooves on the hard packed dirt of the Old Sessrenglade Road are an almost comforting drone as you approach Winterhaven, but you’re be definitely glad to be back home.

The last few days have been eventful, to say the least. Thunt’s blessings have healed the deepest wounds, but the aches and bruises of combat still linger. The small village with its sturdy walls, the fields of corn, wheat, and barley; all a welcome sight.

You squint into the distance, towards the village, at the bright splash of color at the foot of the low hill leading to the main gate. As you draw closer, you’re surprised to see that there’s a score or more of wagons, stands, and tents clustered about the road leading into the village. Then you remember: it’s market day. But why are there stands outside the village walls? You also see a couple of wagons that appear to be loaded with lumber.

As your wagon draws near, you recognize a few villagers, who in turn give you a friendly wave and a shout. But you also notice a number of new faces. Some look like laborers, others; craftsmen perhaps. You also see men and women here and there that appear to be guards or mercenaries.

A number of campsites surround the makeshift exchange, the mouth watering smells of cooked sausage and stew make you all the more anxious to be back home, within the tower.
Suddenly a woman screams, followed by several shouts of dismay as the folk nearby see the body of Koji Dawnbreaker, lying in the bed of the wagon. They crowd clamors about you, jabbering with dismay as you make your way toward the gate.

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25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 3)

The Death of Koji Dawnbreaker, Sun Soul Monk.

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25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (part 2)

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There’s little to do on the road, so the party spent the trip home getting to know their new companion; Reardon. The Weaponmaster was curious to hear the tale of the Heroes of Winterhaven from the heroes themselves, and they happily obliged. They told the fighter of their quest to save Winterhaven from Kalarel, the dark Priest of Shar. They spoke of their raid on the kobold’s lair, and of Ninaran’s deceit. Of Bairwin Wildarson, the cult leader, and the secret temple below his shop devoted to the worship of the Lady of Loss: Shar. When the party mentioned that Kalarel, Bairwin, and Ninaran were all working together to bring about the fall of Winterhaven, Reardon asked what had become of the elf huntress Ninaran? Sadly, while the adventurers were within the catacombs of Shadowfell Keep, in pursuit of Kalarel; Ninaran killed Valthrun the Sage during a raid on the village, and escaped. She had not been seen since.

Once the subject of Ninaran had been broached, questions were asked and few could be answered. One thing Thunt knew, was the general location of Ninaran’s cabin. He knew that it lay somewhere to the northeast of Tilman the Furrier’s cabin. As it happenend: the trail leading to Tilman’s home was just ahead.

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Tilman Glithrambor was an old recluse that lived on the edge of Winterhaven’s community. Rarely seen in town (and never at temple), Thunt knew little of the “nervous old man”, but it seemed wise that he be the one to speak for the group when they encountered him.

The furrier was ill at ease with the arrival of the party. Thunt’s earlier description of the old man hit the mark, as his frequent darting glances along the path the party had taken to reach his cabin, and even into the woods beyond; seemed to indicate he was indeed nervous about something. When asked about Ninaran, Tilman claimed he knew nothing of her whereabouts, and warned the party that she was dangerous.

The eccentric hunter’s behavior and the prolific number of hides he was in the process of tanning seemed suspicious to the party, so they decided to do a little detective work. After Thunt negotiated a deal wherein Tilman would skin and tan the young green dragon for the party, they set off for Ninaran’s cabin. But once out of sight of Tilman’s home, Koji doubled back to get a closer look at what the old man might’ve had in his home.

The party suspected that perhaps the furrier was hiding something, maybe even Ninaran. Koji crept behind Tilman’s charnal house of a cabin, trying to get into a position to peer through a window into its rank interior.

From the Sun Soul monks position outside the window, nothing seemed amiss. The one room cabin, while filthy, appeared fairly ordinary. There didn’t seem to be any evidence that anybody other than Tilman had been living there for quite some time.

Koji silently made his way back to the party.

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25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Set out from Graythicket Village this morning.

After walking through the Semberholme forest to Keegan’s Keep, collected our horses and wagon and began the return trip to Winterhaven along the Old Sessrenglade Road.

Had barely made our way along the road when we spotted kobolds crossing the road ahead. Flew at them on horseback and attacked. Turned out to be no less than a dozen kobolds who were following a Young Green Dragon! Fought pitched battle with the kobolds and dragon, but emerged victorious; slaying the dragon. Zekknar thought that perhaps the dragon had been drawn to the Feywild portal that Orva the gnome had come through.

Dragonbattle

Found the following on the kobolds, we assumed it was the dragons burgeoning hoard:

Packed the dragon’s corpose onto the wagon as best we could and made our way back to Winterhaven.

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24 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

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Asked Luthen about Orva the gnome. He said he as not aware of the gnome.

Turien Graythicket – Elven leader of the Graythicket Village.

Met with Turien in the village festhall, built among the branches of four gigantic oak trees. Turien expressed his gratitude. He swore that the villagers of Graythicket owed the party a great deal for their valor, and they would seek to repay them in any way they could. That the party could look up on them as allies.

The party stayed as guests of the Graythicket elves for the night, and slept in their tree homes.

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23 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

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The morning of the 23rd, Zach Dennorson (stablehand) comes calling to the tower. He tells us that a wood elf named Luthen Graythicket wished to speak with the party, and awaited them in the market square.

Luthan Graythicket begged for our aid. He needed help with a fey beast; an owlbear, that had been ravaging his village. The lair of the owbear was a half days ride beyond Keegan’s keep, to the northeast.

Four groups of adventurers had been slain by the Owlbear. Luthan himself had been living abroad when the call came from his village. His own adventuring company, calling themselves “The Shevverim” were the first to assault the owlbear. All but Luthan and a couple of his comrades were slain. Luthan’s friends abandoned him afterwards, but the elf was determined to save his people. He travelled through Highmoon asking for aid, and leaving word for any adventurer’s to seek him out. Then he made his way to Archenbridge. There, he ran into a group of kenku mercenaries, who said their flock lived in the hills beyond Archenbridge. They also were killed by the owlbear. Later, after the word he had left in Highmoon had spread, two more adventuring companies answered the call. They too died fighting the owlbear.

Another adventurer had answered Luthan’s call in Highmoon. He accompanied Luthan to Winterhaven and joined us when we agreed to help the wood elf. He carries a large shield, a spear, and names himself Reardon.

Spoke with Padraig and received his blessing before departing.

Left wagon and horses at Keegan’s keep.

Arrived at the location Luthan described as the glade wherein the cave of the owlbear lies. Found Orva, a gnome maiden in a tree.

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Suddenly the owlbear attacked and during battle, we were ambushed by Kenkus. (Probably the kenkus Luthen found in Archenbridge). The kenkus had apparently found and tamed a cockatrice, which one of the bird men had tied to a leash. The owlbear was a might foe, and nearly ripped Koji’s head from his shoulders if not for the monk’s extraordinary agility. In the end, we destroyed the owlbear and defeated the kenku.

Orva said she was from the feywild and was trying to find the portal back. We told her about our tower in Winterhaven, its vast library, and said she should visit; after she had found the portal and figured out how to activate it. After Zekknar spoke to her of his shared interest in all things arcane, she agreed to reveal the location of the portal before she returned to the Feywild.

We then went back and found Luthan with the wagon in clearing.

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