The Fallencairn Valley

A Wonderful View
We have a fort. Is Adran happy now?

It seems like there have been a lot more straight paths taken recently. Straight to Jumping Jack, straight back to High Ridge, straight to the watchtower. I feel a welcome detour coming soon.

The view up here is wonderful as I rest after our latest battle. I am currently on top of a watchtower south of High Ridge that used to be occupied by ex-Tudum Knights. I admit, it was satisfying slaying them one by one, just like back on the road and in the woods before today. It makes me think back to my younger days raiding the keep for supplies. I was still cutting my teeth more than cutting into flesh back then.

We waited until nightfall to make our move against the tower. At least we know how to make an entrance, using Sard’s portal ritual again to get up onto the tower and work our way down. Turns out he’s becoming a marksman too with his force balls, because he took out the watchmen single-handedly (with Wolf foolishly trying to use Blacktarn’s bow, and failing miserably). We made our way down the tower without any trouble, but I would hardly call five flights of stairs a tower. Sticks took the lead, fast as he is, and made it to the bottom first. This also, unfortunately, also meant that he took the ambush waiting for us in the next room. All I heard were four thunks of arrows, two explosions, and Sticks gasping for air as I watched him get pulled in front of a being of fire wearing armor. There were two of them, two knights, another monk, four archers, and some prick with a fancy dagger. I paid him no mind as I focused on the fire people, which looked the most threatening.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Sard’s power for a while. It seemed like he was only useful for spotting enemies and unlocking secrets. Yesterday and today he proved me wrong. Him and Wolf double-teamed the ill-fated gang of misfit knights, with Wolf grouping them together, and Sard sending them to hell, with hands of death and (from what he told me) visions of ruin spiraling around them. I was impressed, but not enough to just sit back and let them have all the fun, unleashing my fury on the knights and firemen surrounding Sticks. I took down a knight, the monk, and a fireman in a flurry of slicing, and before long it was just the prick. He was a magician, spraying poison and fire at us. I didn’t really notice him doing much before that, but he sent Wolf into the tower steps and shut the door on him. I only laughed a little.

When we killed the last fireman, the magician decided to cut and run. We lost track of him, sadly, but I feel we will see him before too long. I’m not really sure what our next move will be, as I’ve been relaxing up here since then. I think I heard someone yelling about a map though.

A small note is placed under this.
I wonder how long my rage will only simmer, and not consume me. I hope for my clan’s sake that it will never.

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Adran Half-Elfen's Precious Little Life
A Log by Strickland Moriganis

And so it comes to my turn to write in this travel journal our intrepid little party has chosen to write. I can’t see why they’d want me to put my words on record here, as it seems unlikely to make for anything other than dull reading composed of nothing but what would appear in a trader’s log. That said, I shall try to keep this moderately interesting.

We spent much of the morning talking idly as we rode southwards and back to High Ridge. I still am unable to quite fathom seeing a Centaur in the flesh. I had understood them to be little more than traveler’s tall tails, or stories told by men who had been unable to distinguish man from horse when looking through the bottom of their cups. While I was pondering this, we came across a strange hedge maze in the forest, which we promptly (if, perhaps, imprudently) decided to explore. It turns out the hedge maze was populated by a strange breed of basilisk and some rather unpleasant little fey. We managed to dispose of the garden’s pests/guards(?) but in the process the half-Elf Adran was turned into a topiary! While I was rather perturbed by this, I found myself unable to stop from quipping that we should dig him up and plant him outside of Paulo’s tavern.

While exploring what was left of the maze in the hopes of finding a cure, we found a group of Elfs who reminded me very much of the one who presented me with my clubs. The leader of these fey was a sorceress of some variety who was apparently suffering from both an extreme case of ennui, and a conundrum about the definition of a quandary, or something of the sort. Eventually, after I brought in Wolf and Sard to talk with her on the more arcane aspects of the process of petrification, she presented us with two flawed sapphires, which we were able to use to jury-rig a ritual to bring Adran back to the land of the bleeding. There was only one minor catch, really.

He came back naked. As bare and hairless as the day he was born, assuming he was born as bare and hairless as human children are, at any rate. Naturally, I gave him my long coat, and we continued the ride back home to High Ridge.

Sadly, rest of the trip wasn’t as uneventful as we had hoped. We made to within spitting distance of the walls when we came across a party of Blue Flame scavengers. We nearly made it past them diplomatically, but the captain of the “tithe collectors” decided to provoke Adran, who’s attitude was not improved by his newly acquired saddle sores. After much debating, Sard, who like the rest of us had concluded that this would only end violently, ended the dead end conversation with an ice storm placed squarely in the middle of the mass of the Blue Flamers. We wiped them out, and gathered enough of their armor to trade for a new suit of chain for Adran.

(the space between this and the following is filled with a simple sketch of the High Ridge skyline, with the sun setting behind what is presumably the tavern.)

After waiting a day or so for things to come together and our commissions to finish, we decided to set out for the tomb Darkhorn was so eager to avoid. I can understand his hesitation, but I could practically smell the wealth within as soon as we passed the trees ringing it the first time! We managed to get inside fairly easily, with Sard and Wolf going to town on the locks on the door and interior portcullis with the help of a simple ritual. One gets the idea that Wolf has had practice with these sorts of impediments to entry in the past.

Once inside, we came upon a room with a frieze on the walls, with a figure carrying an urn leading 14 other Minotaur heroes and an army against another army lead by a colossal Minotaur with 12 horns and a crude crown upon which many heads were impaled. Upon turning the urn completely upside down (after one or two unimportant mishaps), a door in the back opened. I managed to dodge the first trap that appeared, and was able to spot a few others that remained un-triggered. We avoided all of those, and managed to come across quite a sum of money, as well as a rather large crossbow, a well made throwing axe, two gold vases, and a stone sarcophagus lid that we decided to abscond with. The statue is now sitting against the wall in Paulo’s tavern as a testament to our find, and we have finally started turning a real profit as we supplemented the gold we found with the sale of the vases to Paulo’s mother-in-law.

I still can’t for the life of me figure out why they want me writing in this damn thing. Perhaps they think I’ll lend them use of my rather large ink supply if it’s to assist a group effort. They may be right, but they’re not getting any of the good stuff. I’m saving that for special correspondences, if the chance ever arises in such an isolated land.

~Strickland Moriganis, Trader

[scrawled in hastily in the bottom margins of the page:] There, Sard, I wrote in your damned log. Now, go shove the ‘responsibility’ on to someone else and let me get back to practicing my forms!

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Secrets of the Draeid Forest
Darkhorn is an ass

First of all I am pleased to write that the ritual was a success and Sticks is with us once again, he is slightly affected by his experience with death but it will pass in time. The next bit of news, however, is rather upsetting. While we rested in the barracks all of us that were sleeping were robbed! During the night we apparently had a visit from brownies who decided to pretty us up and take our money in exchange. The two exceptions to this were Wolf (who they probably decided was pretty enough), and the minotaur who decided to skive off his watch duty to guard a stone in the middle of the field. If he had at least woken the next watch while indulging in this baffling behavior that would have at least been acceptable, if more than a little weird, but he instead left without notifying anybody. Thus I have been reduced to a pauper nothing to my name but ritual components and the clothes on my back. Fortunately Sticks was grateful enough for his resurrection that he paid for lodging back at his cousin’s establishment but I hope that we shall find a source of funds soon or I will be forced to find and clear a cave, (may not be a bad idea to prepare regardless, always a good idea to have a bolthole). More on the morrow.

Darkhorn strikes again! While exploring the draied hills after the diaspora of the previous residents we came upon an old minotaur cairn that is bound to be filled with some of the wealth and possibly knowledge he held in life. Wolf and I were in complete agreement that this should be more extensively investigated. The minotaur then tells us that we are obviously not worthy and would not allow us to desecrate the tomb. He does not even know anything about the clan but somehow is certain that we would be viewed as unclean or something. As if worthiness is determined by anything more than testing yourself against what has been left behind to keep out those who shouldn’t be there. It seems to me, and Wolf would probably agree, that if were to make our way safely through the barrow then we are worthy. As I don’t want to face him down just yet I’ll be silent for now but will still begin planning an expedition back here taking into account his possible absence. For the moment we are moving on, but that’s just for the moment, I’ll be back.

This morning we woke to the last watch shouting at us to look at something. Extraordinarily enough it seems one of the centaur, a race deemed extinct, had spied out our camp and then left. We stayed alert but could detect no more sign of them throughout the day.

Hopefully we’ll find something of interest to explore that has the Darkhorn’s approval, I’d hate to upset his delicate sensibilities again in such a short time.

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Down to Ogre Town
So many ogres

Ogre Town was immediately recognizable as such, partly due to the size of the buildings and the smell. But mostly because of the rather large quantity of ogres wandering around filthy huts. My only hope is that they don’t smell any worse dead. For once everyone seems in agreement about our approach, kill Jack and his minions. I had at least expected arguments from Adran about negotiation but it was as if he was far away. There was some dissension among the ranks involving tactics, it seemed like the Darkhorn was in favor of just running in and slaughtering them all but who can tell with minotaurs? The eventual plan ended being a close relation to that anyway, taking advantage of my abilities we were to gate to the roof of the main building and then start picking off our enemies from there. Well, we’ll see how it goes.

There are various bloodstains obscuring bits of text

From the appearance of the rest of the page it is obvious that the plan didn’t go quite as well as hoped though the fact that I’m writing this at all attests that at least the important people survived. While the ogres went down easily enough, Jack and his retinue were an entirely different issue. Amazingly having people dancing around on his roof was enough to pull Jack from his entertainments (though not before he finished his lunch it seems), after which things went quickly downhill. Long story short both Sticks and Wolf were struck down by Jack, though only Sticks died from his wounds, and the minotaur felled Jack at last in a berserk rage that had a rather interesting arcane element to it. While investigating a strange magical phenomena that occurred when Sticks breathed his last I made a slight error while descending from the roof and slipped on a bit of blood on the wall and managed to knock myself out. I was reminded of this near constantly for a while but as it’s mostly good-natured I took it in stride, (though if the Darkhorn doesn’t stop soon I may lose my composure as he probably lacks the good sense not to jump in front of a moving vehicle) and discovered that his soul had been pulled into a soul jar. This was very fortunate for him since otherwise I did not have enough components to wrest him free of Chronepsis’ grasp. I shall prepare to do so and write more when I am finished.

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Scouting Report
Found Them.

After walking through the maze that is this forest, I’m glad to see a straight path to our enemy.

We’ve finally found the main camp of the Draiads under Jumping Jack. I have confirmed this, but only slightly, as I have no idea if Jack’s actually home. Looks like there are a few sections within the town; first are the ogre huts, about 5 or 6 surrounding a central fire. In the middle of the camp is a stronghold, and there are 2 guardhouses in front of it. One of the houses has smoke coming out in puffs, and is how we spotted the town in the first place. Behind the stronghold there is a field full of giant squash and pumpkins. I count 5 ogres and 1 Draiad visible in camp at the moment, so hopefully the evening patrols are walking right now, however I cannot take into account how many are in the huts or the stronghold itself.

There are a few strategies we could take to assault this:

  • Draw the Ogres out into the forest and slaughter them before attacking the stronghold.
  • Attack directly.
  • Recon their patrol patterns to see when the least amount of contacts will be in town, and see if Jack is actually here.

At this point, I would suggest recon, however it’s not my call.

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From the journals of Wolfsturm Daein: Forest Frolicking
I've forgotten how to breathe through my nose...

From the Journals of Wolfsturm Daein, entry 19
This page is dotted with dripped liquids and has an odd smell. It is considerably crisper as if it has been dried out

If there are gods, they have decided to spit in my face and let me boil under the effects of their plague ridden gift.

I was finally enjoying myself in so many long weeks! I had been swept up in the high adventure of the woods. It was not often that I got to bask in nature in the twisting spires of steel and wood that make up The City. The forest seemed innately more wondrous than the drab countryside that we passed on our way to the Fallencairn Valley. There is something… magic out there. I can feel it. What it might be I do not know.

Getting back to the heart of the matter though, our little picnic in the forest was going quite well. We seem determined to beat a path of conquest into this valley, starting here. It’s a silly concept to me. A boastful pirate could claim an entire ocean to be his territory, but what point does it hold? Shall he tax the water itself? Even the most hardened work ethic would never cover the whole of it from interlopers. What sort of rule can be erected here? Better to plunder the sea of it’s riches with no worry of such things if you ask me. Riches are universal, you see, and travel far better than a country.

These dreams of conquest are sure to only work against us. As they already have! How long did Sticks and Adran argue on how to trap a wandering band of Draiads into some preposterous deal! I expect preposterous and outlandish deals from Sticks but that does not mean you need to encourage him by listening! We were nearly ambushed while they tried to plan this foolishness. Thankfully Sard seems to have a good (if addled…) head on his shoulder and took the fight to the enemy. I was not shy to swing into battle! It was far more fulfilling than the previous bout with the treacherous fey. We dispatched them quickly nevertheless.

As night fell and we made our way back we stumbled on a grisly sight. A pack of wolves feasting on fallen prey. At the head of the pack was a Wolfman! A disgusting creature caked in the blood of its prey, neither wolf nor man. I’d only heard of them in stories… and this one was holding a familiar weapon. The Kukuri of the hermit. The conclusion felt too obvious at the time, although I wish it had been something more sinister now. Our attempts to sneak past them were fruitless. A fierce fight erupted as the wolves pounced our mounts and the Wolfman lashed out with blade and bite. We were not so easily spurned however, and took control of the battle quickly. As I plunged my blade into the Wolfman’s heart, a horrifying transformation took place. His hair fell out and his skin morphed before my very eyes. My sword then had skewered not a beast, but a man.

I felt my heart dip into my stomach. Killing is not a pleasant business. In all of my righteous campaign in The City I tried to keep any sort of casualties to a minimum. I have always striven to make my exploits as bloodless as possible, although the harsh nature of these lands will surely change that. Perhaps it was more merciful to slay him. Would I seek death in such a wretched situation? Unable to control myself, battling with an inner demon? I cannot say. One cannot be blamed to strike out in self defense, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth nevertheless…

…much like this foul medicine that Adran seems intent on poisoning me with! On one hand it is almost humorous to see this would-be conquistador dottering around like some nurse maid. On the other hand, I hate debts. I must admit I am feeling better, even though something still scratches at my mind every night.

To make matters worse the Werewolf’s brother is the king. The ramifications I do not even want to consider under my addled brain. Something for tomorrow.

The entry ends.

from the journals of Wolfsturm Daein, 20th entry

Crisis averted, it seems.

My lunacy has been thrown off and it seems the town has not strung us up above the castle for all to see. Fortunate indeed.

We set off into the forest again like the good little lemmings we are. I… wanted to make a point of putting down a grove I saw to paper… was it a grove? I can’t really recall for the life of me now. Well, no need to ponder on it further.

21th entry

Now it seems we’re on to something… we’ve revealed an old path in the forest that seems to moving to a smoke trail. Could this be the barbaric settlement? Orge Town? I’m quite intrigued now. Jumping Jack could be but a mile off… my sword trembles with anticipation.

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Into the Valley.
Killcount: 1

Labyrinthine patterns may have a strong place in my people’s culture, but every Minotaur knows that combat breaks the walls of the mind and creates a clear path towards a finite goal… the death of your enemy. It is when that path stretches forever madness rears it’s axe.

Killed my first foe since the prison and pursuit. Felt good to get some practice in, but if this is all that we fight during our time here I might just join the guard. I remember stories of the Fey, but these try to be cunning, stupidly so. One of our compatriot’s cunning clearly outmatched our foes, and our steel and magic laid waste to the majority of them. The rest of our assailants fled. I was half expecting another ambush (it’s what I would have done), but we reached the city without incident. I write from my room in an inn owned by the cunning one’s kin, while the elf thinks I’m asleep. I am tired from the combat, and cannot deal with his delusions.

The Minotaur here are of the Hanthau tribe. No other. I must meet with the Elder to see if anyone else has exiled themselves here.

Of my compatriots: The elf I’ve known the longest, and act as a bodyguard for him. Why? He sheltered me during my first exile. I fought with him against his enemies, and rescued him from certain death to repay the debt owed. Now, I travel with him because he has the power of healing, and we just happened to hear the same news of passage opening up to the valley.

The cunning human has ties to this place, as well as a map, a cart, and a strong punch. I might like traveling with him. The other two with him are magic users. One is a human who seems like a pretentious arse with a pension for thunder (he didn’t even finish the combat). The other is a shifter not from the isles, constantly talks about his search for ruins and flings magic spells like it’s commonplace.

I’m grouped with a bunch of outsiders… I know how I feel about that, but since we have fought with each other and not against, I’ll just go for the ride for now. I just hope they don’t expect me to take off my weapons.

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From the journals of Wolfsturm Daein
How did it come to this...? (Session One Summary)

From the journals of Wolfsturm, first entry

I write this from a wagon heading off to the east. What a bother.

It seems the Duke took my “escapade” a little too personally. It’s not my fault that justice obsessed freak blew the damn thing up! Regardless of the unfortunate outcome, there’s no way a stunt like that will be forgotten anytime soon! Worth every effort. The bounty on my head has jumped up quite the magnitude. Every contact in The City has advised me to leave immediately, save for the ones that tried to collect me as a reward. They’ve been dealt with accordingly. I feel as if I can leave The City fulfilled. I’ve bested all those who crossed the Daein name and humiliated them in spectacular fashion.

Still, my current predicament couldn’t appear any more dull. Riding on a wagon with some buffoon who won’t shut up about his damn deals (no, I don’t want your bloody wine!) and some spacey shifter who keeps mumbling as he reads into a book. The guards are useless, practically fainted at the first sign of danger. How did it all come to this…?

Several more short, mundane entries pass

From the journals of Wolfsturm, 14th entry

We’ve finally left Tundum for the Fallencairn Valley. This part of the world feels so devoid of action or intrigue. Just petty land squabbles between the locals. Hopefully the Fallencairn Valley will offer the adventure and intrigue that I have been yearning for. How I miss those days of breaking into Lord Salisbury’s private art gallery to steal the head off of his garish statue of himself! How I miss crossing swords with that insufferable inspector!

Fallencairn. I’ll certainly be out of my element here. But that makes it all the more exciting…

15th entry

... and now we are five! I thought we were an odd trio, but these two seem even more out of place. A half-elf and a minotaur camping on the road? I suppose you wouldn’t find some mundane farmer coming out to this corner of the world. Darkhorn seems alright, straight forward fellow, much like the rest of his people, but the half breed seems broken in the head. When we first entered the valley he simply smiled and said “Look at it all… my kingdom awaits”. The glint in his eye was sickening. Raw greed and ambition. It reminded me of Norman’s eyes as he held Daein’s deed in his hands. Disgusting.

16th entry

I knew this fool merchant would try and push his dubious wares on nearly anyone, but it seems he’ll even try to push it on anything! Imagine my surprise when he nearly struck a bargain with some fey creature. It was a bemusing tirade to watch, but it became even more hilarious when the savages charged us thinking they could make a killing on his marked up wines! They had no idea what they were getting themselves into. We sent the bunch of would-be brigand fey running off with their mossy tails between their legs. What a trivial battle. It was hardly worth unsheathing my sword. Regardless, it proved a fine break from the boredom of the road.

The town that shall become our launching point out into this great wilderness lies ahead. It shall be the throne from which we strike out and plunder the riches and adventure of this land! I wonder what it will be like…?

17th entry

What a shithole.

I suppose nothing can really measure up to the City. It’s my own fault for getting my hopes up. Everyone here is too damn serious. Slaves to the brutal nature of the valley they live in, I suppose. It was so oppressive I considered breaking into the castle just to see something happen. From what the half-elf tells me it’s more a historic landmark than actual estate. What a shame.

What a surprise though, to find a fellow City-fairer out here already. A Dragonborn blacksmith with a penchant for guns. An intriguing fellow to say the least. I must admit he seems to have made the best of his new situation. Perhaps he has the right attitude. The City is behind me. A new adventure awaits! Surely we shall strike out to find riches beyond compare tomorrow…

18th entry

Dear Journal. I’ve come bearing wondrous news! Our ever so wise group has decided to hunt the fey brigands in the forest so that we might plunder their magical bark!

What a joke. I can’t believe this half-elf. “My kingdom shall be devoid of such thieves”. Ah yes, your majesty, let us strike out to commit genocide of an entire forest’s residents!

Blasted fool. Perhaps when the gravity of the situation hits him ( or more likely the wrong end of an ogre’s club ), he’ll come to his senses. What do we have to gain from this?

Sard seems obsessed with some wives tale of an eldritch ruin. Even if such a ruin exists, what of value could possibly remain after nearly 2000 years of history? I’ve my doubts.

The only thing that intrigues me are these tales of Jumpin’ Jack. Split an ogre with a single blow? A duel with him could be dangerous…

... but a feat indeed to best him.

So far we’ve only come on an old hermit’s cabin and some mass of swirling vines and leaves. The day is still young, however…

end entries

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Travels and Travails
The end of another road.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt this way. The last I had this feeling of expectancy, of nigh unbearable expectation was when I first set foot in the ruins of my homeland. The lands we are coming to are largely unexplored and inhabited by many fractious groups. Sticks assures me that Highcliff will be a suitable location to base my travels from and that his cousin is sure to have room at his inn. Besides this he has proven to be an admirable companion on this trip, quite gregarious and capable, at least when he’s not trying to sell some of his trinkets. Still not quite certain what to make of Wolf, he’s kept his reasons for leaving the city mostly to himself but he is at least capable. The Minotaur city of Longhorn is clearly visible now and from there the gateway to the unknown.

There are secrets waiting to be found there and I can’t wait.

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The Return of the Darkhorn Tribe
A warrior comes home.

I’ve missed the mountains. They remind me of the cooler months when the trees start to turn, and all of nature starts to close in on itself to weather the frost. I always pray that my awakening will come, just like theirs, after the frost takes me.

The elf and I have at last reached Longhorn, the main city of my people, as well as the current tribe leading them. The Longhorn are very wise, with many mystics to help guide our path as a whole. I am glad they have survived better than my own clan. We have stopped here to replenish supplies and rest before going into the valley proper, as well as seek knowledge of landmarks that might help us map out what lies ahead. I will seek out the Longhorn council to ensure them that the Darkhorn tribe still lives, and request that our lands be cleansed of the filth that is Tudum’s occupancy. I know that they will decline, but this is only to plant the seed in their minds, so that after my exile into the valley I will once again call for aid and be heard. The semblance of the power struggle is evident, as more and more outsiders pour onto the island each day.

I am not fearful of the valley. I am fearful of what will happen outside of it.

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