Tales From Darkmoon Vale

Night March to Olfden

Captain Alaric holds up his hand halting the column. He squints at the sight of many of the circus freaks, then quickly composes himself. Leaning forward in his saddle and hails the barbarian.

“Good sir! Are you in need of assistance? Your caravan is camped in a peculiar place.” He waits for a reply, then continues.

“We march to Olfden tonight, and the lot of you are welcome to join us under our escort.”

(Joel’s reply)

Farther down the column, Margo rides next to Eutropia, surrounded by three rows of soldiers under her command. When the duchess looks her way, the female knight offers a nod and a forced smile. Sergeant Drassler appears very focused on her orders to protect the girl. The soldiers under her command act in a similar way.

Flicker tucks himself within the forearm of the girl, allowing her to steer her horse with her other. After an hour, Sergeant Drassler offers to help. “Would you like me to take your cat MiLady?”

Eutropia shakes her head at the offer. “It’s not my cat. Um… I mean… no thank you. He’s fine.”

“He’s a stray then?” Drassler followed up, trying to make conversation.

At this point, Nyllbryn rides back to the girl and his presence foils their conversation.

Within the next hour, the column is reunited with Jaeshar and the Crooked Kin.

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The Walled City of Olfden

Liliandil, Brantus and Abraham ride hard through the stretch of forest before reaching the open farmland an hour before Olfden. This leg of the journey, through the forest, still took several hours. They rode strong with only a few stops to water and rest the horses. Leon ran along side, in and out of the treeline. It was a test to the health and endurance of the animals, but they proved worthy.

It was late afternoon as the trio strolled down the road finishing the last dozen miles through farmland and tiny villages that surrounds the city. Several farmers recognized Liliandil and offered greetings and a cheerful wave, while most of the poor peasants toiled away in the fields.

An hour before dusk, the pathfinders saw their destination in the near distance. The city of Olfden perches on a low cliff at the edge of the rise, where the gradual decline of the rocky shelf gives way to a sudden drop. (see image attached)

A massive sign carved onto stained darkwood is set into a stone wall several hundred yards away from the main gates of the city. Brantus and Liliandil familiar with it ride past, but Abraham, new to the city, stops his horse for a moment to read it.

All manner of wondrous and frightening creatures live in Darkmoon Vale, but visitors need not fear such foul beasts while within sight of city walls. Between the brave Eagle Knights of the Diamond Regiment and the dedicated woodsmen of the Fangwatch, there is enough security throughout the vale to keep its most dangerous denizens at bay. Except on nights of the full moon, that is. Those nights, even the Diamond Regiment acquiesces control to the werewolves. Those nights, no one and nothing can keep you safe.

Luna Aldred, First Citizen of Olfden.

Liliandil looks back to Abraham and sees the look of uneasiness. “It is okay Abraham. That sign has been there since before my birth. It is more of a landmark… a monument to those who fought and fell during the Night of the Silver Blood.” (Knowledge Local check or you can ask Brantus or Liliandil more about it)

The gates are open and the watchmen wave and sound the welcomer’s tune loud from their trumpets. The entire city is alerted that persons of importance have entered the city.

It is not long before a crowd has formed around the three, cheering the arrival of the heroes. Leon gets a few concerning looks, but then is accepted by the townfolk. Not far into the city, they reach the surrounding walls of an inner keep (see map). Here the the nobility and government officials of the city reside. Including the Aldred mansion.

(to speed things along)

Within the hour, Liliandil, Abraham and Brantus sit before a welcoming fire in a large estate room within the Aldred keep. They are accompanied by Luna Aldred (Liliandil’s mother) and Hilde and Rojan, Brantus’ wife and son, who arrive shortly. Brantus shares the gifts that he had made for them in Falcon’s Hallow. Leon is given a honorary spot in the room next to the fire. Over the next hour, the Oracle tells her mother and several other members of court, about the success of their last several weeks. The rescue of the children and the defeat of Merlokrep, the Kobold King. The girl also shares her discovery of an expansive slave trade being perpertrated within the Vale. She advises of Eutropia, the Grand Duchess of Taldor, being rescued, and the success their group has had in thwarting her sale. Along with Ren, Deetish and others.

Liliandil also shares information about Nyllbryn, Jaeshar, Fortunado and Azure. The other officials show empathy towards Azure, a fellow political figure in Olfden, and his possible demise.

Luna and the other officials are shocked at the news of a slave trade operating within Andoran, a nation that has band slaves during the birth of the nation. Freedom and Justice is promoted within the nation. They vow to protect Eutropia and send word to her father of her rescue and well being.

Next, Liliandil tells her mother about Pippa, and her arrest. A messenger is dispatched to Judge Emberth, inquiring about the rogue. It has not been confirmed that she is being held in the courthouse.

Luna and the other officials tell about the unrest in the north end. The towns people are near rioting. The Beast of Lepidstat has been captured and is currently being held in the courthouse dungeons. It will be tried for multiple counts of murder. The people want the creature executed and have already begun the construction of “A Punishing Man” (Knowledge Local check).

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Arbitration Meeting

GameMaster:

Judge Daramid listens to each of your opinions and glances a few times a Luna when the mention of corruption from Lord Lubbert Oglethorp, giving the impression that he might have a questionable history.

Judge Daramid takes in a long breath gathering her thoughts. “This Penelope must be a special woman if you all speak on her behalf. Character witnesses can sometimes outshadow hardened facts and evidence. And in this case, there is no evidence, just testimony of witnesses.” She leans back weighing her options. “Very well. I will send word to Lord Oglethorp requesting a quick arbitration meeting beteeen he and the accused. Neither will receive council and both will have to agree to abide by the ruling of the arbitrator.” She looks to Abraham shaking her finger. “But no truth spells. Otherwise Lubbert will never agree to it. This is the best chance the girl has. I’ll draft an order making it so. Tomorrow.” She glances at her schedule. “First Bell. At the city courthouse.” Then looks to the others. “Agreed?”

“Could I have a private moment alone with Lady Aldred and her daughter? The rest of you can wait outside.” The Judge asks. Then rings a tiny bell which summons a middle aged man. “Ruppert, could you show my guests to the dinning room. I suppose the lion as well.”

Daramid and Luna meet for about 15 minutes before calling the group back into her study. “There is another issue that Id like to discuss with all of you. And from what Lady Aldred and Liliandil have both told me, you are the perfect people for the job.” She smiles, showing a bit of deception for the law herself.

Judge Daramid goes into great detail explaining to the group about the Beast of Lepidstadt Castle. She knows that people have different stories to tell about the creature- about its kindness and humanity, of how it has rescued loved ones or helped those in distress. Now that the time has arrived for such kindness to be repaid, however, no one dares to step forward and challenge the Beast’s reputation. As a judge, she has a keen sense of justice, and she fears the Beast will not receive a fair trial in Olfden. The people have blamed the Beast for too much and for too long. They want it to pay for its crimes, whether those crimes are real or imagined. In addition, the judge has some concerns about hte crime for which the Beast was finally apprehended. Murdering children.

However, to publicly announce her suspicions could put her at great risk, both professionally and politically. As one of the three justices presiding over the Beast’s trial, she is unable to openly intervene, other than insisting that the Beast be properly defended in court.

There is no question the creature is capable of killing. The beast is massive and prone to fits of violent rage, but the murder of innocent people, including children? She’s not so sure.

What she really needs is a group of people without local bias to uncover the real truth about the Beast and its alleged crimes. Ideally, someone to gather evidence about the Beast’s allege crimes and stand up in court to be questioned by the prosecution. Such speakers, the Judge motions to all of you, must have the bravery to stand up for another wrongly accused.

“You have all proven to me that you are all more than capable of this.” She tells the group. “If the Beast is indeed guilty, then I can rest easier at night knowing that I gave it a fair trial.”

She advises you all to think about her request. If you decide to accept, you will need to register with the court clerks as volunteer defenders for the Beast and then can legally investigate and gather clues to help the defense. But it should never been know that we have spoken. And she warns about trying to make contact with Pippa while at the courthouse. At least until after their arbitration meeting tomorrow.

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Acquittal- 13th of Neth

GameMaster:

Mid morning, the day of the arbitration meeting, Judge Daramid summons each of you to her chambers at the courthouse, 4 hours earlier than scheduled. Outside, the crowd has gathered again in protest over the Beast inside. This morning, however, the townspeople seems a bit more timid. Sergeant Drassler is seen speaking with a smaller number of soldiers out front, as well as several townspeople. She notices your group as you approach and waves you over.

“Ive been advised to expect you sooner.” The sergeant smiles. “It’s nice seeing you again.” She nods to Nyll, Fortunado and Jaeshar. “When you’re ready, Ive been asked to escort you to Judge Daramid’s chambers.” The commander’s smile tells she is aware of the news, but she keeps it to herself.

The commander escorts you up the courthouse stone steps and beyond two metal double doors. Inside the main level, a dozen soldiers are seemingly off duty. The main level of the courthouse consists of two larger rooms to accommodate the guards, along with several smaller rooms that act as a kitchen, storage and a few private rooms for officers. (see map attached. I’ll identify each room if needed or asked)

Margo takes the group up a flight of stairs to the second level into the grand courtroom. This large room is paneled in dark oak and its vaulted ceiling is 25 feet high. Three thronelike chairs with built in lecterns for the presiding justices stand in front of the east wall. The witness stand is directly in front of them. Two polished mahogany desks, one for the defense and one for the prosecution, stand facing the justices’ chairs. An iron restraining chair with six sets of masterwork manacles for the accused stands in the center of the room, specially created for this trial. Behind the accused, a public gallery overlooks the room 10 feet above.

Here, Judge Daramid welcomes you to the courthouse and ushers everyone into a smaller room to the north. This is her private chambers. Here she explains about the events that have unfolded earlier this morning.

(Paraphrased from my post a few days ago… skip it if you wish)

Here she tells the group that Lord Oglethorp had suddenly died of an apparent heart attack the night before. He died in his sleep and was found in the morning. The two witnesses have now retracted their stories, claiming they dont remember details.

His death seemingly an unusual coincidence to say the least.

With Nyllbryn suggesting yesterday about killing him, the Judge views the elf with serious skepticism. But, for whatever reason, she doesnt request an investigation into Oglethorp’s death. She tells the group, who she trusts, that he was a perverted man and had been accused many times of indiscretions against his female staff.

She holds up a paper advising that without any witnesses, or other evidence, the prosecution has dropped the case against Pippa, and she is to be immediately release into your custody.

Ivor asks about her personal items (mainly her magical items Im assuming). To which Daramid reassures that her items have all been confiscated and are being held for her. (Mel, it would be totally cheap if you lost all your items)

“In short, we’re ready to release her into your custody.” Margo interjects.

But Judge Daramid interrupts. “However, there is the matter we discussed yesterday. Regarding the Beast of Lepidstadt. He is being held in the courthouse dungeon with Pippa. I suggest you visit with him first before making any final decisions to help in its defense.”

“Would you like to recover your friend and meet the Beast?”

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Meeting with Gustav

GameMaster:

Gustov isnt sure what condition the bodies of the children were in. He assumes they were crushed and mangled by the beast.

With the beast content with finishing the remaining apples, Gustav offers a more private location upstairs, to continue their discussion. The group leaves the dungeon up the stone staircase just as Margo leads 4 Diamond Regiment soldiers down to guard the creature. They are armed with crossbows and long swords, but have a much more disciplined demeanor. Sergeant Dassler nods as they pass wishing the group safe travels in their investigations.

The group settles in with Gustav in a small study, where the court clerk joins them to register each member as volunteer defence investigators. This way, they will have court authority to inquire about the killings and question witnesses. Each is handed a simple metal badge with the Olfden city courthouse crest on it.

Gustav stutters his way through the evidence again with the group. (reminds me of the public defender in My Cousin Vinnie) He explains that the trial starts in two days with the prosecution calling witnesses to testify from the small fishing hovel of Morast. The village is hidden away within the Morast Swamp. He points out the location on a map (see attachment). He’ll cross examine the witnesses the best he can while the group is gone, but will need all the help they can get before he begins for the defense. He estimates the group has 3 to 4 days to gather what they can from Morast and Hergstag, and make it back before the defense begins its case.

Modore is accused of killing 10 villagers from Morast.

Modore is also accused of killing 6 children from the town of Hergstag. Witnesses claim to have seen him carrying Elsa, one of the dead children in town. The bodies of the remaining five children were discovered in the beast’s lair deep in the swamp.

Gustav admits he thinks Modor is guilty, but believes as Judge Daramid, that the Beast deserves a fair trial.

It is the 13th of Neth and he asks the group to return no later than the 17th. Otherwise, he fears it will be too late.

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The Temple District

GameMaster:

A short distance away from the massive courthouse, a large Temple of Sarenrae dominates this area. It is the most impressive religious structure in the city. (Like a small cathedral) It’s obvious that Sarenrae is the most worshiped deity in Olfden. Possibly due to Luna Aldred’s influence. If worshipers of Calistra live in this city, they are not open to share their beliefs.

Jaeshar looks for a temple of Torag next, but soon realizes that the followers of Torag and those of Saranrae are rarely seen close. Clerics of Torag dont understand the worship of the sun like those of Sarenrae.

Due to the monopoly of Sarenrae in Olfden, the barbarian strolls into the temple. He is warmly greeted by several clerics who advise him, that for a substantial donation to their church, (300 gold) he could gain an audience with the high priestess Lissel for the transformation of Earthbreaker.

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The Silver Bulette

Eventually, the group reconvienes outside and makes their way across town to the Silver Bulette. Just before entering, the clock tower on the north end of the city can be heard chiming 5. The cool Autumn breeze has begun to sweep across the town. The feel of winters clutches grows near.

The Silver Bulette Tavern is another large building. It is two, possibly three stories tall at sections. There were other smaller taverns and Inns, but this one is by far the largest. The surrounding streets are full of activity. Citizens finish their daily routines and are making their way home. Others are just coming out for a bit of the night life.

Across the small square, several patrons enter Olfden’s most famous resturant, the Thrumming Birch. Most of you are familiar (Pippa, Nyll, Lil, Brantus) with this resturant. It is owned by the flamboyant Master Chef Tobias Thrum. He serves, among many other bizarre dishes, a wide variety of dishes with the main ingredient of boiled Grick. He will post a monthly menue outside, offering to purchase a wide range of exotic creatures.

Upon entering the Silver Bulette, it doesnt take long for the group to find Lazne and two other men from Morast. The sit alone at a table next to a smaller fireplace. They are dressed in long leather fisherman’s coats. One wears a large billed leather hat, while the other leans back in his chair and pulls hard on a pipe. All three men are several days unshaven and stand out from the others in the tavern.

Across the large room, a few tables from the main fireplace, two younger couples sit and eat dinner. They are fingered by a serving girl to be the parents of Karin and Gaard. Two of the children killed by Mordore.

Other notable patrons…

A portly man in his mid thirties drinks out of a silver stein and seems to have a following of local groupies. He is not a particularly handsome man, nor does he appear to be a famous adventurer. Yet he enjoys the fellowship of a dozen people.

Sitting at the main bar, a young man with dark hair wearing dark black, with almost a deep purple hue, leather armor sits with a younger girl. He wears an eye patch and a longsword on his hip. A round ledger rests on the bar in front of him. Next to him, a young girl, possibly in her early teens, sits quietly. She has bright red hair and wears a fashionable green dress of high quality fabric. The redhead and her male escort sit quietly, while every so often, the girl turns to watch the portly fellow with his guests drink, eat and enjoy themselves across the room. Her male companion however, notices your group enter the tavern, elbows the girl as if to notify her, yet is ignored by her. Her curiosity with the other man consumes her interest.

One of the two sets of parents also notices your group enter the tavern, but appear unaware of your possible interest with them.

The rest of the tavern is busy with two dozen citizens of all walks of life. A single musician plays a flute while a poor magician performs parlor tricks for those interested. Several serving girls work the room.

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Settling Accounts

Pippa, Brantus and Lilaindril approach the seven adults sitting together at a large wooden table to the side of the main fireplace. As they approach, 3 of the adults follow their approach with their eyes, but say nothing.

Pippa introduces herself, Brantus and Liliandril to them and respectfully asks if they can ask them some questions regarding the events in Hergstag.

The parents sit quietly at first, not knowing how to react. Finally, one woman snaps at them. “We dont wish to discuss anything with you. My Ellsa is dead. The woman to her left chimes in. So is my Rachel. My little girl. Dead because of that beast.” It appears the conversation will end up the same until one man holds his hand up.

“My name is Filmore. I too lost my son Gaard to that beast… but we have no quarrel with you good people.” He glares at the two women. “Being rude doesnt help heal the pain any of us are feeling. It only makes things worse.” He stands to greet you formally. “As I said, Im Filmore. Filmore Raupach. Gaard’s father. This is my wife Una.” His wife forces a smile. He continues by introducing the others. “She is Shreya, and that is her husband Gunter Weitz, Karin’s parents. This is Sophia Erhart, Ellsa’s mother. Her husband was too grief stricken to make the journey. He stayed in Hergstag. Last we have Vinzenz and Helmina Quint, Rachel’s parents.” Each nod their greeting. Filmore sits back down, but doesnt offer any of you a seat. “Maarten and Allen’s parents left town grief stricken and havent been seen since. Im afraid we have said everything we need to say to Gustav and the prosecution team.”

(a quick note to stay organized)
Filmore and Una Raupach- Gaard’s parents
Shreya and Gunter Weitz are Karin’s parents
Sophia and Jorg Erhart are Ellsa’s parents- Jorg Erhart stayed back in Hergstag
Vinzenz and Helmina Quint- Rachel’s parents
Parents of Maarten and Allen left Hergstag

ooc: Do you wish to ask questions anyway?
_____

Bishop and Nymegan slide their stools back from the bar. Now that the girl stands, Jaeshar notices the girl’s thin dress is actually tiny green scales. So tiny that the casual observer would miss it. The color is incredible. Several different shades of green. Her shoes are a matching dark polished green flat soled shoe. She waits by the door for Bishop.

Before he leaves, Bishop leans closer to Jaeshar. “You and your group rode into town from Falcon’s Hallow. Days before that, you intercepted a ship known as The Crow. It’s cargo was to be sold to us. I have the bill of sales here.” He taps his ledger. “However, you tried to prevent this cargo from being delivered to us. Just so you know. The current captain of the boat refused to hand over its beloved cargo also. That is, until I bit her friend’s head off. She couldnt wait to hand over the two mermaids on board.” He leans in closer and whispers. “Nymegan said they were delicious.” He smiles at the barbarian. “There is one last bit of cargo that you have hidden from us. Eutropia, the Grand Duchess of Taldor. Outside of the city, there is a road leading west into the Arthfell Forest. A mile into the wood, there is an abandon wagon with a broken axle. We will wait for you there at the twelfth bell tonight. Bring the duchess. We have something of value for you in trade.”

With that, he joins the side of the girl and they leave the Silver Bulette.

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Recruiting at the Courthouse

GameMaster:

Ivor, Pippa and Liliandril continue on their way through the streets to the courthouse. Gunther had agreed to testify in court for the defense, but something tells you he might have second thoughts once the time comes. He did however show courage in wanting the group to know the truth about that night.

As the group reaches the open courtyard of the northern park, the clock tower bell strikes 7 bells. Bishop scheduled the meeting just five hours from now at a location roughly an hour walk from the city.

Only Three Diamond Regiment guards stand at attention on the steps of the building. The vast courtyard is mostly cleared except for a few die-hard protesters that have peacefully made camp.

The soldiers recognize you and one escorts you inside to Sergeant Drassler, who is off duty.

She is happy to see you and brings you to Captain Alaric’s quarters. (back post any discussions with him)
Liliandril explains the situation and asks for any soldiers that can be spared to help bolster their ranks. Margo immediately clicks her heels and volunteers to join and offers the group the services of the twelve soldiers under her command.

Captain Alaric ponders the loss of these men for the night and agrees to re-assign them since the crowd has quietly dispersed for the night.

Margo assembles her men in the main courtroom for a briefing. (back post here) They are made aware that the group plans to leave out the west gate at the eleventh bell.

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Delivering the Prize

Lissel places a gentle hand on Jaeshar’s arm. “There is no need to apologize. Your words did not offend me. We believe this is the only true way to prove ones devotion to Sarenrae. But the oath of chastity is not taken for a life time, and it is not forced upon our followers. With permission, one can marry when true love calls.” She smiles. “Has your heart discovered someone among our temple acolytes?” She is obviously referring to either Liliandril or Lady Emelyn. (back post if you wish, this is getting interesting)

(forward to the assembly)

The group assembles at the city’s western most gate. Everyone readies themselves and checks their gear. The soldiers are briefed again on the plan. They appear anxious, but ready.

The 11th bell chimes in the courthouse and the troop moves forward down the dirt road away from the walled city. The Arthfel Forest awaits about a mile away. Sergeant Drassler walks in front of the dozen soldiers under her command, while Emelyn and Razuck, both from the Temple, walk together.

The group follows the road into into the wood. Here the trees hide the lights from the now distant city. The slight sounds of chain armor is the only thing that can be heard. This night is darker than most, with the moon hidden behind a clouded sky.

The group travels deeper into the the forest, for roughly 30 minutes, before noticing a large abandoned wagon ahead off to the side of the road. It is leaning to its side due to a broken axil. As the group advances on the wagon, Jaeshar motions to the group. “The wagon is the mark. We are to move into the forest now.” (sorry to speak for Jae)

Brantus whispers to those around him. “Spread out. Move in groups of two. Mark the trees with daggers so we can find our way back to the road.”

(back post any other tactics)

The group moves quietly into the forest with weapons drawn. Roughly a hundred yards in from the road, a single light appears in the darkness ahead. “A lone lantern.” Margo whispers. “Roughly another hundred yards ahead.” The young officer glances to Jaeshar. “It looks like someone waits for us.”

“Or something.” Razuck suggests.

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