<u>Session 6: Rova 29 to Lamashan 23, 4716 AR</u>
You all finally confronted Zalatha and the rest of Grenish’s thugs at the Drunken Cockatrice. Zalatha agreed to leave Fairhill and bother Lannet or the party no further if you all paid 5000 Gp in compensation for the gem that Lannet had stolen from Grenish. Gambler, Belflin, Drinna, and Drebb all contributed to the cause, with Drebb paying most of it. Gambler then disowned Lannet and told him they were finished. You then left for Vigil. The 5-day journey was uneventful and you arrived in Vigil on Lamashan 4. After taking a room at the Six Candles inn, you all proceeded to visit Church of the Golden Sword, the local temple of Iomedae. There you met with Sister Sara, one of the ranking clergy, and related your story of meeting Tancred. While somewhat skeptical of your story, she did admit that the temple was looking to hire adventurers to clear the Valley of the Shrines to the northeast of the city.
In ages past, two vast temples to Aroden and Iomedae were erected in Vigil at the founding of that great city that still stands today. The priestly followers of these noble gods erected smaller duplicates of the twin temples in a small, secluded valley to the north of the city, adjacent to a lake of crystalline clarity. This valley became known as the Valley of the Shrines. In the nearby hills they also carved burial halls to house their fallen heroes and worshipers. For years the worship of Aroden and Iomedae thrived, producing heroes and paladins of legend, some of whom are entombed in the burial halls.
The death of Aroden just over seven centuries ago, however, changed everything. Unable to maintain the four temples between Vigil and the complex in the Valley of the Shrines, the priests of Iomedae sealed the northern shrines in the valley and focused their worship to one temple in the city. Abandoned, the burial halls still remained sacred places, and small groups of pilgrims continued to make treks to the sealed temples to pay respect to their fallen predecessors and to peer into the crystalline lake.
As the years passed, the shrines in the northern valley increasingly fell to disuse and ruin. Only a handful of devoted priests, led by the last high priest of Aroden, Abysthor, were left to continue the elaborate rituals of Aroden in the shrines. In his final years, Abysthor spent many hours in the main temple of Iomedae in Vigil, trying in vain for communion with his dead deity. Twenty years after Aroden’s death, Abysthor declared that he had received a great vision and traveled alone—aged and infirm—to the Valley of the Shrines, claiming he would return soon and that the glory of Aroden would be restored. Abysthor never returned. Some said he had gone there to die and had done so alone because no other priest could cast the spells necessary to consecrate him properly. Many groups of priests followed after him, though none could brave the corruption that had infested the burial halls since they had been abandoned. Abysthor’s failed quest was taken as a sign that Aroden had died permanently, and the priests of Iomedae gave up the shrines as a lost cause.
The area since that time has become a frontier area, haunted by Orcs and Gnolls as well as creatures such as dragons and giants. Both the nation of Lastwall and Ustalav have claimed this area, but its proximity to Gallowspire has prevented either nation from pressing these claims. With the closing of the Worldwound, however, the Churches of Iomedae and Abadar have decided to claim the haunted frontier as part of Lastwall. Thus, the clergy of these two faiths in Vigil have put out the call for seasoned adventurers to map the territory and recover the shrines and accompanying burial halls. You agreed to accept this commission. As such the party has been contracted to do the following:
- Explore and clear the fifty-square-mile region of the Valley of the Shrines to the north and east of Vigil.
- Recover the shrines of Aroden and Iomedae.
- Retrieve the and the
- Find Abysthor’s tomb and cleanse the burial halls.
You get to keep any loot they find (aside from holy relics) and will be knighted and given lands in Lastwall. You were also given 10,000 Gp each worth of gear to help them in carrying out their quest. Sister Sara was able to supply you with the following rumors about the region gleaned from travelers and patrols of the Knights of Ozem:
- A group of Orcs known as the Orcs of the Black Hand have taken up residence in the past decade and now guard the pass into the Valley of the Shrines.
- The burial halls are located northwest of the Valley and are in a small woodland that is overrun with spiders. Rumors also suggest that there is a far more insidious evil that lairs in this small forest.
- The Bloody Axe Gnolls are reported to have a village somewhere across the Path River.
- A young red dragon has been seen recently in the hills west of the pass.
- There are rumors of a vicious, one-eyed giant troll that frequents the region.
- There are rumored to be several entrances to the Darklands in this region.
- The Stone of Absalom and Chalice of Elanir are said to be entombed with Alaric, a mighty paladin of Iomedae.
- One of the most notable features of the burial halls was the Font of Ancients, which was known in its day for creating powerful holy water.
- Rumors speak of the presence of a group of demon-worshippers who have moved into the burial halls in the last decade.
Gambler and Drebb chose fire resistant armor as their equipment, while Drinna chose an enchanted body wrap that would enhance her unarmed strikes with acid. Belflin chose a suit of magical hide armor, while Atish and Corian chose magical wands. You all then set out along a small tributary of the Path River into the region.
Your first four days of exploration were uneventful as you traveled through an area of rolling hills that would be perfect for farming once the region was settled. On Lamashan 10, you all crossed a small tributary and headed into the foothills of the Hungry Mountains. The next day you all encountered a series of three farmsteads that had recently been looted and sacked by orcs. These farms were at the foot of a path that led through the foothills. As you buried the bodies and investigated, a group of ten orcs with a leader returned to the scene of the massacre. Corian caught most of the group in magical webs, while Drebb and Drinna took out the leader. Two orcs managed to escape the vengeful blades, arrows, and bolts of the group, but Belflin was able to hunt them down before they could escape to warn their colleagues. That night you were attacked by another band of orcs, this time with two leaders, but again the judicious use of magical webs and superior tactical positioning made for a short and successful fight.
The next three days you spent in hill country. You discovered a smaller river tributary that ran into a narrow canyon channel, falling through a crevasse into an underground passage. A cave opening allowed you to traverse the course of the river to the northeast if you so desired, where a set of ancient stone stairs carved from the surrounding rock rand next to and slightly above the water level. You decided not to use the path at this time.
On Lamashan 14, you came to an abandoned mine. Corian identified it as a played out copper mine. Searching the area, Belflin spotted red dragon tracks, but before you could retreat, the best emerged from the mine entrance. It attempted to start a dialogue, but Belflin insulted it, so it attacked. A fierce fight ensued. Drebb fell to the dragon’s fiery breath and only the intervention of Torag saved him from certain death. Drinna also barely avoided incineration in the flames, but she was severely wounded. The fight ended when Gamble snuck up behind the dragon and stabbed him in the cloaca. You all took the head and scales of the red dragon. Inside the cave, you found that the dragon had collapsed most of the mine tunnels, but there was a small hoard of treasure. Atish took a magical morningstar and a scroll with a spell that would imbue normal weapons with magic for a short time. Corian acquired a cloak that would force attackers to ignore him in combat once activated. You all rested and decided to return to Vigil to re-equip, rest, and report on your progress to this point.
It was a 2-day journey back to the city, and shortly before you arrived on Lamashan 16, you were attacked by a griffon, which you easily dispatched. When you entered the city, you were accosted by Nathaniel, but Gambler drove him off with a well-placed sling bullet to the head. You sold the dragon and griffon heads to the temple of Iomedae and the dragon scales to a local smith. Gambler got you all a commission on further dragon body parts with a local apothecary. You then spent the rest of the week resting and preparing for a return trip to the frontier.