The Heroes of Feather Falls

The Story So Far

After returning to the village of Feather Falls, our heroes discovered that their neighbors had a little spunk left in them yet. The surviving villagers had returned and were slowly putting the town back together. Carmen and the others celebrated their return, and let them know that the town’s rebirth had a good deal to do with the new route being taken by wealthy nobles and hunters to the Ascanor Hunting Lodge in the Ascanor woods to the north west. She sent the party to the Lodge to speak with the Warden there.

Arriving in Ascanor, our heroes quickly learned that the Lodge has a werewolf problem. The ancient woods of Ascanor have apparently always been home to a number of werewolf packs, but lately they have been more violent and unpredictable, seemingly at war with each other. As the party began to investigate, they uncovered the involvement of the lodge warden, Estovion, in this chaos; he facilitated an alliance between a secret cult of Zhents called “the Whispering Way” and Mathus Mordinacht, pack leader of the Silver Wolves to slay the old pack lord Kvalca Sain and take his heart. Mathus consumed part of the heart and claimed that he was now the Packlord of Ascanor, but the Whispering Way made off with the rest of it. The other packs, however, could tell that Mathus’s claim was incomplete, so they fought against his attempt to subvert them under his rule.

The party journeyed to the center of this calamity, the Stairs of the Moon, and uncovered Estovion’s treachery, striking him down after defeating his summoned werewolf ghost. Upon reaching the top of the tower, the party defeated Mathus and made an uneasy alliance with Cybrisa, another pack leader, who quickly consumed Mathus’s heart to claim his pack as her own. She told the party of the need for the heart, and the party raced after the Zhents to stop whatever they had planned.

RhakisAlong the way, they encountered Rhakis, pack leader of the Prince’s Wolves, who claims to be the only real ally to the humans of the wood.he also has a bad habit of walking around completely naked when he’s in his human form. The Prices Wolves, he says, have always been guardians of the forest, and all life within it. If the party gives him the heart, he promises that he will use his leadership to bring peace to Ascanor. Not entirely certain of his intent, the party reluctantly accepted his offer of assistance and continued on after the Zhents.

They have now reached the ruined city of Feldgrau, and discovered an old acquaintance Duristan, the foolhardy hunter from Ascanor who claimed to be skilled in defeating werewolves. He turned out to be infected himself, and turned on the party, attacking them in his hybrid form. He was defeated, and the heroes tried to save him from his affliction, but he could not be freed of the curse. He was put out of his misery, and the party has moved on, heading farther into the ruins to find the Zhents and end this war.

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And then..

The party successfully avoided the rest of the Demon Wolves and their ambush, and waded through a horde of skeletons in the town square to find a ruined tower. This tower was also guarded by skeletons, but they managed to drop the defenders and pursue the cult leader inside the crumbling walls.

Once inside, the heroes began to search around, only to be assaulted by a poisonous cloud of choking vapor. They fought through the cloud and discovered the cult leader Auren Vrood, flanked by his henchmen, two giant crawling claws and a homunculus. The necromancer pelted the heroes with horrid spells and threatened to drain the life from them even while his claws crushed their prey, but thanks to the grit of the party and Rhakis, they seized victory and slayed the evil mage.

Upon searching Vrood’s belongings, they discovered the necromancer’s equipment and spellbook, but also the remains of Kvalca Sain’s heart. Deciding that Rhakis had proven himself, the party gave the heart to him to claim the seat of the Pack Lord of Ascanor, bringing the other packs under his sway. Also, the stone containing the spirit of the werewolf ghost was returned to him. He promised to return and meet with Delgros at the hunting lodge, and was later true to his word. Peace now seems possible in the wood, though the threat of the Demon Wolves still looms.

The party also brokered a meeting between Delgros and Carmen of Feather Falls to cement diplomatic and trade ties between the settlements. So long as Rhakis can keep the werewolves in check, things look to be getting better and better for the heroes’ hometown.

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Not so Lucky

After the party left Ascanor forest and returned to Feather Falls, they were celebrated by the townsfolk and got some much needed rest. At some point, they were approached by an elven woman Daethin01 named Daethin who explained that she owed a debt to the father of Shane and Barren, and she intended to repay this debt by watching out for his sons. After some debate about whether to let her along, she was accepted by the party and they left for Chandlerscross to resupply and gather some additional magical items.

Along the way, the party discovered the body of a man lying on the bank of the river. They discovered the man to be alive, though badly injured and apparently mute. Through some attempts at communication, they discovered he was a spellcaster and set him up with gear from the necromancer Auren Vrood that they’d killed previously. Daethin made some comments about how they’d given her the third degree, but then they’d picked up the naked guy, given him dangerous weapons, and invited him along with no concern, but otherwise wasn’t concerned. The man seemed to have no memory, so the party named him “Lucky”, perhaps ironically?

Once reaching Chandlerscross, they were able to get additional gear. As they waited one evening for some magical items to be completed, they were called outside by screams down by the river. Three freshwater trolls were attacking a woman and her gentleman escort, and some guards were rushing to help. With the party’s assistance, the trolls were dispatched, though the young man and one of the guards were killed. Lucky proved to be worth the investment, however, as his spells were very useful in the battle.

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On the Road

Once the party had gathered their gear, they decided to seek out Barren and Shane’s father. Daethin confirmed that she knew where he could be found, and agreed to lead the party to a monastery in the elven forest of Cormanthor. They set out along Rauthauvyr’s Road, and stopped in briefly at the village of Hap. There they heard word of a Zhent attack on a farm near Velarsburg, and it sounded like the leader of the attack was the same as the one that razed Feather Falls. Drok was very upset by this news, but the party was able to convince him to stay on task and continue to the monastery.

Along the way, they discovered a few things about Lucky. One, the tattoo on his face has something to do with the Faerie Folk. There are stories of children being stolen by faeries and discovered decades later with no memory of their former life. Sometimes these people are marked by tattoos like the one on his face. Two, Lucky recovered his voice and could speak again.

As they continued towards the monastery, they encountered drow scouts, and also some strange monsters, including an odd creature that looked to be animate blood mist. The creature was apparently some kind of remnant of the old elven forest, some sort of tainted magic and old spirits combined to haunt the woods. With that in mind, they kept on their way.

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The Monastery..?

The party arrived at the Monastery, a simple bamboo compound in the woods. The walls surrounding the compound were guarded, which seemed a little odd. Upon further inspection, the whole monastery seemed strange; there seemed to be no connection at all to any sort of religious or philosophical order. Also, there didn’t seem to be much meditation or any of that junk. Raphaelusk definitely noticed that this was not like any monastery he’d heard of.

Shane and Barren’s father wasn’t there, but they were able to meet his “brother”, Seth. Aerin was also there, but she didn’t seem excited to see them. Oddly enough, there was a lizard man, who was identified as Taj Ebonscale, the weapons master, and he went a few rounds with Raph. It was clear to Raph that the lizard man was no monk at all, more like a gladiator.

Daethin left the party to their own devices while there, apparently occupied with other tasks for the majority of the time.  But she did come and invite them to meals after some initial deliberation.

Shane had a talk with Seth about his father, and tried to get a better understanding of who he was while the rest of the party poked around the grounds and tried to see what the place was all about.  It became clear that the monastery was dedicated to the cause of driving ou the drow from the forest, and the party offered their assistance to the effort.  Their aid was accepted, and an attack on a drow camp was planned.

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Ups and Downs

Late in the night, Ethan arrived at the monastery and spoke with Aerin, presumably about his sons’ arrival. The next morning, he was there for breakfast and spoke jovially with them, almost as if he hadn’t abandoned them years ago. He also said he would be joining the attack on the drow camp, and he was looking forward to seeing what the party could do. He also made some strange comments to Lucky suggesting some familiarity with him, and called him by the name Glenn.

The heroes were giving the task of striking first and drawing the attention of the drow, but not in a direct attack; apparently the elves of the monastery value non-elven life at least enough not to waste it in a suicide attack. They were able to position the party to get a surprise attack and catch the dark elves unawares, and then the elves would flank and take out the rest of the camp.

The battle started off well, with Barren’s firey attack frying a squad of drow in their tent instantly. However, once roused, the drow were dangerous with their sleeping arrows and managed to take out Isis and Lukas early on. With the odds tipped against them, Shane and Raph waded valiantly into the melee, supported by the magic of Lucky and Barren and the stealthy attacks of Daethin. But as some spells fizzled, Barren was dropped by another poisoned arrow, and the drow priestess emerged, things started to look bad.

But the heroes fought on. Shane dragged himself battered and bleeding through the drow warriors to get to the priestess, powered by pure rage. Lucky managed to blast powerful lightning through the drows’ natural resistances. Raph kept the foes from slaying his helpless comrades. Isis fought off the poison and hurried to aid Shane. And just as it looked like the drow would at least take the barbarian down with them as they died, Ethan emerged from the woods and hurled a dagger into one of drow that was poised to kill his son, which proved to be enough to drop the already-injured warrior. They dispatched the priestess, and the brutal battle was won.

There was some subdued celebration back at the monastery, and even the elves seemed to be warming up to the party. Relatively. Lukas and Taj traded weapon crafting secrets, Barren had some bonding moments with his father, and Isis even managed to get some chatting out of Aerin and Daethin. Lucky took a look around while others socialized, but wasn’t able to find anything useful. Things seemed to be going pretty well.

But the next morning, a hungover Barren was accidentally told some interesting news. Not knowing that this was a secret, Daethin mentioned that Barren’s mother was still alive, as well. Enraged by this additional deception, Barren burst into a strategic meeting held by Aerin, Seth and Ethan, and overturned the carefully arranged map in the center of the room as he yelled at his father.

That proved to be the last straw for Aerin, who started yelling back, though mostly at Ethan. Ethan pulled Barren out of the room and into the garden while Seth stayed to calm Aerin down. In the garden, Ethan explained that Barren’s mother had some sort of infernal ties, and that once he found out that the boy was born, he had gone to the Nine Hells to get him back. His mother was dangerous and cruel, and Barren would’ve grown up a slave to the devils of the Pit. Still angry, Barren left his father there, but Ethan confessed that he was glad he had gone to get him, even so.

Daethin came to the rest of the party and told them that, even though they weren’t being “kicked out”, it was probably best that they left because of the commotion and the reaction it had caused. Obviously there was more going on than the party was privy to, because Aerin and Ethan were having a very heated conversation when Shane came to say goodbye. Father and son shook hands and parted ways, possibly for the last time, and the party set out for Shadowdale, to see what more they could learn about Lucky’s past.

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Nightmares

After leaving the monastery, Barren and Shane walk separately from the rest of the group for a while, presumably speaking speaking between themselves about their family.  Drok can’t take a hint, and follows them to add unhelpful commentary.  Daethin gives the brothers space and walks with the rest of the group.  

After a few days on the road, the party reaches the small farming town of Ashabenford, on the banks of the River Ashaba.  There, they gather some supplies (including some lovely hammocks) and get nice rooms at the luxurious Ashabenford Arms inn.  They also visited a temple of Tyr to try to repair Lucky’s memory.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work.

While going about town, Isis and Raph get some odd looks, but the townsfolk are largely not unfriendly towards them.  One even makes the off-handed comment that a giant pink lady isn’t so strange, there use to be a little blue boy who lived in the town.  This sends Isis on a search for the boy’s mother, thinking perhaps she might be able to tell her something about her past.

They reach Miranda’s cottage on the outskirts of town, and note that it is decorated with all manner of exotic and even otherworldly trophies and keepsakes.  She seems to think them safe, and welcomes them into her home.  She cannot speak, but uses a strange paper board to write on.  She explains that while her son looks nothing like Isis, there may still be a tie.  Isis seems to have some sort of lineage of earth elemental in her blood, and Miranda calls her an Oread.  She does not know where Isis is from, but gives her some possibilities; there is a plane of earth, where her parents could be from, or she could have genie blood like Miranda’s son.  She mentions that she’s seen genies in Calimsham, but if the earth genies like the desert, the Anaroch desert is much closer.  The party thanks her and prepares to leave, and Lucky asks if there is any message she would like to pass on to her son should the party run into him in their travels.  She simply writes “Grandchildren?” and raises an eyebrow.

The party returns to the town for an exquisite supper, and then spends the evening at the bar.  Daethin apparently can’t hold her booze, and she gets sloshed enough for the party to get some answers out of her.  She reveals that she actually can’t stand Ethan, and that’s why she’s repaying her debt to him in this way, so she doesn’t have to be around him.  She also confirms that she did not sleep with him, nor did Aerin (seriously, guys?).  As far as she knows, he doesn’t have any other kids.  When they ask her why she works with all these people she doesn’t like, she tells them it’s a purpose.  She needs a purpose.  And when they ask her what her plans are afterwards, she murmurs that she has no plan, and stumbles off to bed.

That night, while the rest of the party enjoys the fancy rooms and soft beds, Lucky is tormented by a terrifying nightmare of being hunted and caught by a horrible serpentine monster who threatens to claw him apart before he woke in a cold sweat.  Maybe that spell at the temple did something, after all..

After finishing their business in town, the party set back off for Shadowdale, following the River Ashaba.  Along the way, they came across a small squad of elves in uniform armor, apparently scouting for drow.  They noticed Daethin had disappeared, and when the discussion turned to the monastery, she showed up again trying to disrupt the conversation.  It didn’t really work so well, but the elves took their leave.

Shortly after, Daethin came back and told the party not to talk about the monastery, but the heroes reminded her that she hasn’t been very forthcoming about any information in the first place.  Reluctantly, she admitted that the monastery was essentially a front for the elves to stage their attack against the drow while still being able to supply for a large compound without arousing suspicion.  They didn’t bother to hide anything from the party about their operation, but they usually do.  She also admitted that “someone” at the monastery is on bad terms with the Elven Court, so they are trying to lie low from the elves.  

They continued on their journey, and then camped for the night, away from the river bank.  Lucky set up an alarm spell, which went off during the night.  They were ready to dismiss it as a small animal passing through, but then a raspy, high-pitched voice whispered the name “Glen”.  This was followed by more voices whispering, and giggling.  Lucky freaked out and took off running, and the party followed.  When Raf finally jstopped him, it seemed like whatever was whispering had gone away.  

But then eight tiny spiky gremlins dropped from the trees onto the party and started bashing them with tiny hammers with screeching laughter.  The party managed to destroy most of the little monsters, but the last one screamed “YOU’RE LATE, GLEN!!” and scurried off cackling.  The party dragged a shaken Lucky to his feet and back to the camp, but in the morning, the bodies of the gremlins were gone..

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Shadowdale

The party continued on to Shadowdale, and along the way, Lucky offered to leave the group since his unknown past may prove to be a danger to the others. He was assured that he was still welcome, and as Daethin put it, “everyone has baggage”. The trip was not uneventful, however, as the heroes crossed paths with a massive brown bear tearing through the wood. Something was horribly wrong with the creature, which had four asymetrical eyes (one on one side, three of differing sizes on the other, one of which was even on a protruding eye-stalk), and a mouth that opened unnaturally far. As they cut the monster down, it bled thick black ooze instead of red blood, further indicating some kind of corruption.

They reached the small farming village, which seemed comfortable and even happy to see more adventurers. It was apparently a normal occurance to see such people, although Isis did get a double-take from at least one of the men in town. Shane, accompanied by Lukas, went to the temple of Chauntea to offer prayer and tithe, and informed them of the unnatural creature in the wood. They seemed surprised, and had not heard of such a thing yet. After this visit, the two went to the nicer festhouse in town and enjoyed an evening of luxury, which was a nice change from the rough life on the road.

The others gathered additional supplies in town and went to the Old Skull Inn, a regular hang-out, where they heard tell of strange happenings beneath the local lord’s tower, as well as rumors of a goat-woman in the wood who may be some sort of fey creature. A local bard also told them that from what he knows about fey, the tattoo on Lucky’s face was a mark of ownership, though he’s not sure who’s mark it is.

LhaeoThe next morning, the party set out for Elminster’s tower at the edge of town and followed the winding trail up the hill, which was littered with warning signs concerning the sage’s desire for privacy. They knocked on the door and were “greeted” (to use the term loosely) by Lhaeo, Elminster’s scribe, through a sliding panel on the door. He advised the party that his master was out, and did not know when he would return (“possibly never”). Isis and Raf tried to get additional information from the man, who seemed to be trying to be rid of them, but Lucky lost his patience and began casting a laughing spell at the scribe. Lhaeo promptly shut the panel and an alarm summoned metallic dogs to chase the party away.

The heroes did flee, and made it back to town unscathed. At that point, they decided to investigate the rumors of the goat woman who had been sighted in the woods north of town. They inquired with a nearby farmer, who claimed not to have time for such fanciful nonsense, but he did gruffly invite them for dinner at sundown. There seemed to be no other option but to seek out the woman themselves, and they set out into the woods.

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Enter the Fey

The party finally had it’s first non-combat encounter with a fey creature when they came across Tyana, the “goat woman” of the Shadowdale woods. She was sitting on a fallen log, weeping quietly over the body of a dead fawn. The heroes approached carefully and asked about Lucky’s tattoo, which clearly made her uneasy. She identified the symbol as a mark of the King of Winter, Cyrnum Silvertoes. However, she was uncomfortable providing any additional information, fear of retribution from the powerful King of Winter.

After some pressing from the party, she finally, reluctantly, offered to lead them to someone who she said would not be afraid of the fey king, a local witch. The party followed her lead, and then went on the last stretch alone, as Tyana did not want to be anywhere nearby. Either she was very paranoid, of the king’s reach was quite far.

Shae04They ended up at a small cottage that looked ancient, though it was carefully tended. Little fireflies danced nearby as the sun set, and it looked like a page out of a story-book. Lukas knocked on the door, and after calling out a few times, the door was opened by a small girl with wide, curious eyes. She introduced herself as Shae, and invited the party inside.

Over a late meal of crabapples, bread and cheese, Shae revealed that she already knew Lucky (who she called Glen), and she had taken he and Ethan to the First World, supposedly the homeland of the fey. She also indicated that “Glen” had been a bad person, and that he’d gotten what he deserved, after trying to seek a way to live forever. The Winter King was also dangerous, she told the party, and could be cruel. She did have a way to return to the First Lands, but the heroes were not keen to go charging in without knowing more.

After more discussion, Shae agreed to try to find out the nature of Lucky’s debt to the Winter King, and the party decided to leave. They discussed possible options, and initially decided to head back to the town of High Moon and visit Naja, the hedge witch with planar knowledge to ask about Isis’s possible origins while they waited for Shae. Along the way, however, they decided to head instead to the Monastery and meet with Ethan to find out what his role in “Glen’s” meeting with the Winter King had been.

Not far from Shadowdale, the party discovered two huge, horrible worm creatures feasting on the body of a man. Getting too close to the creatures was maddening, but the heroes managed to overcome the horrors and slay them. Upon inspecting the body, they discovered it was the same man from the Old Skull Inn who had double-taked at Isis and quickly left. Among his possessions found a ruined notebook with only a few legible pages remaining. The pages seemed to suggest he had been following the party and observing Isis, who he referred to as “Subject Ciara Tynus”, and he also wrote about a “possible hive” and another body hidden nearby. Tucked in the notebook was what appeared to be a small excerpt from a journal, written in Isis’s handwriting.

The party went in search of the body and discovered a dead guard who was missing his brain. They were able to conclude it had been the work of an intellect devourer, a nasty creature who consumes the brains of its victims and inhabits their bodies. With this information, they returned to Shadowdale to speak with the local lord Mourngrym.

They were actually able to meet with the lord, and he spoke with them graciously. The party told him about what they’d found, and their suspicions about what was happening below his tower, and he asked them to show his guards where the body was so they could recover it. The heroes oblidged him and then continued on their way to the Monastery.

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A Pale Rider

Along the way towards Ashabenford, the party again debated their next course of action. Instead they decided to return to the Monastery to visit Ethan and question him about Lucky’s dealings with the Winter King, seeing as he would have direct information about the interaction. Shane and Barren were none too pleased to be visiting their father again, but reluctantly agreed.

One unseasonably cold night on their journey, Raph was on watch alone, and he heard the distant sound of a hunting horn. He mentioned it to Shane when he took over the watch, but as the ranger went out to investigate, something triggered Lucky’s alarm spell. The party hurried to their feet, but nothing was to be found. They returned to an uneasy sleep, and nothing else approached in the night.

The heroes resupplied in Ashabenford, and Lucky managed to pick up some spells, including one that would alert him to any scrying spells cast upon him. They set out the next morning, again noting the odd chill that was setting in across this part of the Dalelands. By late afternoon, a heavy fog was rolling in along the road, and once again they heard the sounding of a horn, this time much closer.

Cold rider
Out of the fog suddenly road an frost-covered warrior atop a skeletal stag. Icy horns crowned the warrior’s helmet, and before they could call out a challenge to the rider, he attacked with an frozen glaive. As the party scrambled to address this threat, more gremlins burst from the foggy trees, cackling with malicious glee.

While the gremlins shrieked for “Glen” to show himself, the rider seemed to have no goal aside from killing the party. He lashed out with his polearm and hurled icy storms across the road, causing brutal damage to the heroes. But finally, the fell rider and his entourage were laid low. They investigated the remains and discovered a gaping whole in the rider’s chest, where it seemed his heart had been removed and replaced with the rotting heart of a stag.

With the rider’s death, the unnatural cold lifted from the area, and the normal, more temperate autumn weather returned. It seemed a hollow victory, however, for the party still had few answers regarding the Winter King and his aims for the heroes.

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