Victory in the Vale

The Box
There must be some better way to keep that thing safe...

by Valthrun

Forgive me, journal. I must be vague in this entry, lest my allies find some way to read this. But first, I should relate the events since my last writing.

We tracked Skalmad to his fortress in the Feywild, where an artifact known as the Stone Cauldron lay. This was the key to his seemingly-unquenchable life – his eye had merely been attuned to it, to return him there upon the moment of his death. I believe he’d made too frequent use of it, however, for when we arrived, his body had been claimed by the soul of Vard, the old King of the trolls who’d turned the Trollhaunt into his empire long ago.

Of course, a creature raised from death is no match to a specialized group such as ours. Elyas in particular has no end or radiant prayers to disrupt the undead, and I had a few tricks up my own sleeve to deal with them, particularly the insubstantial troll-wraiths that emerged from the Cauldron at Vard’s command.

We defeated him, and claimed his horde. Not only was the Therund Baron’s son’s sword, Sunwrath, reclaimed, but so was the Eye of Moran, which Skalmad had sought to use as a symbol of his authority among his kind. It is a potent implement, as I’d imagined, and the ever-discerning gaze seems to make all things arcane simpler for me to understand.

A grave portent in the heavens led us back to Winterhaven, where Elyas met with one of the members of his religious order. Apparently, Orcus has made some move in the Underdark, and as a cleric of the Raven Queen, he is bound to oppose it. He has not told us the nature of this threat, but we all have our secrets…

Hio and Nebin found the box… I do not think I can trust them to let it alone, though it’s anyone’s guess which of the two of them will make the next move. When we return, I shall have to research some greater magic to seal it away. Perhaps I could put the whole thing in a bag of holding and somehow sew it shut, permanently?

The… thing inside… it still moves. All the more reason to leave it shut. Forever.

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An Ominous Reply
To Hio

You are contacted by Lord Faren Markelhay of Fallcrest much sooner than anticipated. Rather than receiving a scroll marked with his seal, it seems the nobleman has elected to send you a reply via a Sending ritual – relatively inexpensive as far as such magics go, but certainly it took more effort on his part to use this method rather than simply sending a messenger to Winterhaven and hoping for the best.

Though there is nothing for his seal to be pressed upon, you know the communique is genuine. You can see him in your mind’s eye, clear as the first time you met him, and you hear his voice in your mind. The ritual limits him to speaking no more than twenty-five words to you in total, but you may respond to him immediately afterwards in like fashion if you so wish.

“Consulted my archivists. Valthrun was once a citizen of Fallcrest. He studied under the mage Magrathar, whom I’ve not seen since both left for Winterhaven.”

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If you can't beat them...
(let Hio kick their ass?)

by Lyssa

Well, after our normal bit of saving the world, we arrived back at Winterfell, where I was really hoping for some sage guidance from Duvan regarding my quandry about Nebin and Hio’s behavior and how I am best to control them. Of course, while I am having my heart-to-heart with Duvan, Hio and Nebin are breaking into Valthrun’s tower to open some sort of box he has hidden from the rest of the party. Once I manage to talk Valthrun down a bit (which of course upset Hio), I finished my talk with Duvan, and he told me that I needed to stop looking to external sources for my direction. In other words, I should live a directionless, lawless life just like the rest of the party. Not sure whether this is a freeing moment or a time of deep inner turmoil about what to do next. I suppose I will stick with my half-brother for now, but really, I am not sure what role I have as an intermediary in the group any more. Stopping Valthrun from magic missile-ing Hio and Nebin is probably still a good thing.

On the positive side, I am learning to focus this inner chaos into my fighting and even my armour, and I am released from my obligation of being the moral center of the group just in time to go visit some drow…

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A Message to Fallcrest

To: Lord Faren Markelhay
Location: City of Fallcrest

Faren,

I hope that the gods have been kind to you and your guardsmen since I was last in Fallcrest. They have been kind to me, in both women and battle. I have some stories to tell you, my friend…many that will have to wait until we meet again at the Silver Unicorn.

My purpose in writing is to ask you about a member of my adventuring party. I know that you have many powerful connections, and that I can trust you to be safe with this request.

The person that I want to know about is a wizard or sorcerer named Valthrun the Prescient of Winterhaven. He has given me some reasons to believe that he may be involved with some evil or dangerous power that is bigger than he knows. I will not say more in the case that this message is seen by other eyes than yours, and I do not wish to cause more problems than already face Winterhaven.

I would like to know as much as possible about this man. When I asked around Winterhaven, even to the oldest man in town, his history was largely unknown. If you know anything about where he comes from, where he was educated, who kept him company, what things he has done: all of these would be of interest to me. And I’m sure that I would put in a good word to my family about your efforts if you could tell me anything.

Please send a response to let me know that you received this message—I will wait for a response with your seal.

May Kord lead you into gruesome battles, and let you live that you might to fight another day,

Hio

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Althea
And nothing else matters.

by Hio

Althea. Althea, Althea, Althea. The perfect woman. Her perfect breasts, her perfect raven hair, her perfect green eyes that matched her perfect pale skin. The perfect way her perfect hips flowed into her perfectly small waist. Even her perfect race—she was a half-elf after all. Never did I think such a woman could exist that was as beautiful as I am.

Yeah we went to the Feywild, and I guess I should record some of the stuff that happened there, if not for my kill tally that I keep. So here is that stuff:

  • Outsmarted Valthrun by figuring out how to use the throne to teleport to the Feywild.
  • Tried to kill some knights that were part of a game room (game field?) but Lyssa wiped blood on a stone and they stopped attacking us
  • Killed some giant crocodile thingys that really seemed to have a taste for my flesh. They way they fought over me was almost like how all women always fight over me whenever I’m in a room.
  • Killed some cyoclopses in a fortress
  • Elyas‘s pet’s mother let us pass through another cavern.
  • Smashed a cauldron and Vard who was inside. Valthrun took his eye.

So we returned to Moonstare and they were so thankful and then there she was at the bar. A perfect ten, an eleven if I were allowed to count that high. Her eyes caught mine. She got up, walked over to where I was sitting, and sat down to the right of me, sipping her Elven wine, legs crossed. We just sat there, drinking in silence, me unable to think about anything but those breasts popping out of that corset and what I’d like to be doing to them. Eventually she finished her wine, got up, and turned toward me. She said nothing, still silent, but put her right hand down on my inner thigh, squeezed gently, gave me a look that even I could understand, and walked up the stairs of the inn.

I followed her up those stairs, and what happened that night is never something I’ll be able to describe for as awesome as it was. I only know that no other women will ever match her. Ever.

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Slim Pickings, But Still Found Me Some Twins
Moonstare was ransacked and the people slaughtered, so there weren't many women left to choose from but Hio managed anyway

by Hio

Yeah, the battle at Moonstare left it in pretty sad shape. And I don’t just mean the buildings or the ransacked goods or whatever. But I’m pretty sure that those trolls had to have targeted all the pretty girls first. I had no problem finding some willing women who wanted to express their gratitude for my service (I mean saving their town, not providing them with some needed sexual healing), but most of them were either old or fat or so ugly that you’d think they were half-orcs. But after battle, there’s really nothing quite like a good boning so I settled on some average-looking twins to warm my bed that night. And Kord bless them, at least they were eager. Amen.

So that picture I drew was after we left Moonstare—pretty cool right? I’ve been working on this mindpower where I move where gravity pulls from so I can walk on walls and ceilings and shit. I’ve mostly been working on it just to mess with V, and oh was his reaction exactly what I’d hoped for. Bwa ha ha ha, kills me just thinking about it.

We did find Skalmad II eventually. We’d been hacking our way through the cave (as usual, I was killing the most things and protecting everyone to make sure they wouldn’t die instant horrible deaths) and even fought some troll skellies that Elyas made very short order of. Maybe I should look into this whole Raven Queen thing? Eh, maybe not. Kord is actually a badass, being about battle instead of death or whatever. Plus, the Raven Queen is a girl so she’d obviously lose in a fight with Kord. I’ll keep my bets with the god who has the extremely long history of violence.

Nebin deathed Skalmad II. Not much more to say about that, I guess.

Skallmad II had a huge freakin-awesome throne, which I HAD to sit in because how often do you get a chance like that? And how often do you get the chance to sit in a troll-sized throne and rock back and forth while singing “Henry the 8th?” Um, never, that’s how often. Except for this time, I guess. So yeah. That happened. That so happened.

But before I knew it, POOF and I was in a cube room where the walls were made of water. I tried to stab my way out of the room, but my sword just bent back at my face. I was trippin balls, man. And then I got bored. It had to have been that several MINUTES passed, and I was still just in this room alone. So, I did what any reasonable man would do when he’s alone in a room after killing a bunch of shit. I took my pants off.

Of course, right then I got POOFED back to the giant throne, at the height of my glory. Fitting.

Valthrun must have approved of my behavior though because all of a sudden Danna was there on top of me and we were going at it like it ain’t no thing. I think she must like men in positions of power, in this case a giant troll throne.

So, all-in-all not a terrible day. Tomorrow we’re going to the Feywild because even though we killed Skallmad his evil eye just like disappeared and plus we didn’t find some sword that I don’t remember why we were supposed to get in the first place but it’s important for this guy who died or something. Long as I gets to kill more stuff I’ll be happy.

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A Recent Battle
Just after we left from Moonstare to go kill Skalmad

by Hio

Hio valthrun

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A Career of Violence
by Valthrun

I will try to keep this entry straightforward, journal, though there is much I’ve left undisclosed to you in the past few weeks. Partially due to a newfound interest in my line of work (if you can call it that), and partially due to an unwillingness to remember… certain events. But should my memory be erased, or should future scholars find a use for the complete story of my wanderings, I shall endeavor to patch up the holes left in my tale.

At first, a brief overview of our last endeavor.

The Pyramid of Shadows was no easy place to escape from, and while we recovered a few items of usefulness, I would hardly call our time spent there “productive.” We encountered Karavakos a number of times after the first combat, including a version of him that was quite skilled in necromancy and another that had been deformed (and ultimately, weakened) by the Far Realm’s influence (why anyone would ever resort to making contact with a realm of madness given form is beyond my ability to understand). There was also a being that purported to be the tiefling wizard’s shadow, but we let him live.

Before we could leave, it was made apparent that by destroying his fragments, Karavakos was able to reassemble his true mind and body, but he’d been separated for so long that he was no real threat to our party. I suspect he may have had one last spell up his sleeve to give us trouble, but Nebin depleted the last of his protective enchantments and slew him in one terrible moment, and he is to be commended for that I suppose. Vyrellis took her leave from us, back to the Feywild. I don’t blame her.

Upon informing the mages of Saruun what Paldemar’s map had led us to, we decided to take an old necklace we’d found in the Pyramid back to its rightful owners, the ruling family of the Barony of Therund far to the south. Dear reader, if you do not suspect that this journey led us into a whole new series of catastrophes, you haven’t been paying attention.

Therund is plagued by a seemingly-limitless gang of trolls, led by a “King Skalmad,” who wishes to reclaim the lands of ancient Vardar, a troll kingdom likely destroyed by the Nerathians. He possesses a mystic eye of unknown origin which makes his fellow trolls and a great many other denizens of the swamplands east of Moonstair unflinchingly loyal to him. Twice now we’ve delved into the dank, surprisingly spacious warrens to flush him out, but we’ve only fought him once; the magic of his false eye seemed to revive him, so I’m sure he’s still around.

The eye is a curiosity to me. Did it really prevent his death? The item is too large to fit in a human-sized eye socket, surely, but I believe it would be perfect as a magic implement. It seems to have power over fire as well… I must possess it.

Hio is as bafflingly frustrating as always. He reliably watches my back when things turn violent, but outside of that, he could drive me mad! He constantly fouls up any chance we have of ingratiating ourselves with persons of importance (particularly females), and his behavior around me is nothing short of insulting. He’s a full-grown man, but he threw a jar of dry, dusty herbs in my face like a child! A day will come when he’ll outlive his usefulness.

Elyas and Nebin haven’t changed much, but Lyssa is starting to worry me. I count on her as being the bastion of sanity in this group, but lately it seems like the anxiety she’s been bottling up inside since day one has been seeping into the brains of our foes, transferred with her own fists. I had always been skeptical as to how monastic fighting styles related to psionic arts, but I suppose this proves it. I merely hope that this act of ‘venting’ will prevent her from snapping under the pressure of her impossible task: to make good and righteous souls out of our halfling and half-elf.

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Some Badassery from People Who Are Not Normally a Badass
It's weird because they're not normally so cool.

by Hio

I know that I’m usually the one who is the best at everything (Glory to Kord!) but lately people in my group have been almost as awesome as I am. Which, it’s cool, I’m not insecure or anything (with a face like this, why would I be?) and it’s not like they don’t need me anymore. They would totally all die horrible deaths if I weren’t there. Especially Valthrun. And maybe Nebin. And probably Elyas too. Lyssa would do O.K.

So anyway, we left after what’s-his-face Dragonborn told us how to get to Skalmad’s lair. He couldn’t have given us very good advice because we still had to do some bullshit like climbing trees and hacking our own path through the woods just to find our way there. You’d have thought that our “smart” wizard guy, V, would have known better how to get there.

On the way and once we were there, we killed the usual trolls and troglodites blah blah blah. Oh, and a dragon too. Then I had sex with Danna. Then we killed Skalmad.

Except I guess not. I think he must be related to Karavakos because when he died he didn’t actually die. I wonder if there are 3 other Skalmads out there. But Skalmad the First said that his troops were marching on Moonstare at that very moment so it was like “Shit guys!” and we had to walk ALL THE WAY BACK there. I mean, yeah we had Elyas’s bear pull us and we mostly just slept the whole time but it was SO BORING.

Here is when things got weird. We got to Moonstare to find it burning up and filled with wargs. The rest of us started fighting them, I saved Valthrun’s ass a few times (and he actually thanked me!), but Lyssa disappeared. When we were finished, I went to go find her just in time to see her punch a warg in the throat and watch it burst open into an explosion of blood. Lyssa just wiped off her face and explained that she saved the Village People from the burning building and then just killed these two wargs on her own, no big deal. Holy shit. She MUST be related to me.

Then later, when we were fighting some wyverns and a manticore, Nebin was duking it out in the air with these guys. First he jumped from wyvern to wyvern and then onto the manticore! The troglodite rider on the manticore was like “Oh shit” and then Nebin jumped into the dude’s shadow and totally slaughtered him. Then he totally ruined one of the other wyverns while still on the manticore, enough to scare the manticore into submission. Now that’s the way to do it. Nebin, he’s the man.

People who failed at awesome while we saved the village? Sir Sad Sack Dragonborn who dropped his weapon fighting a freakin FISH during the shore battle. And he cried. A lot. And also this Ogre that Brugg would have been ashamed to be related to. I think I did that guy a favor by slitting his throat—I know I would have asked to die if I sucked that much. I wonder how Valthrun lives with himself. Though he seems to be sucking less lately, probably because he’s been travelling with me for so long.

So anyway, I’m off to go find any survivors who may be “appreciative” that I saved their city. Think it’s off to kill Skalmad II tomorrow.

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Adventuring is good for the soul...

by Lyssa

It has been sometime since my last entry into this journal, but I have had much to occupy my mind of late. Until we entered the pyramid of Karavakos, things had been going generally int heir normal course— Hio, in his general, good-natured way, attempted to sleep or fight with everyone/thing he encountered, Nebin continued his epic quest to never have to walk anywhere again due to his ability to teleport, Valthrun continued to barely tolerate the party, and Elyas was… Elyas. I attempted to continue my task from the monastery to lead my brother and Nebin towards a more lawful approach to the world, and generally failed spectacularly. Perhaps it was this continued failure that has lead to some of my recent decisions.

In the pyramid of Karavokos, we came across many of the standard adventuring challenges- deceit, betrayal, monsters, puzzles, and the occasional assistance. Relatively standard really. We had a guide in the form of Vyrellis who was trapped in the pyramid as we were, and who was kind enough to lend me the use of some of her more potent powers to help us overcome the obstacles we faced. Things were progressing as usual until Nebin came across a temple to Chaos… perhaps the one place I should least want to venture ever (well, perhaps except Hio’s room when he is… entertaining someone). I still don’t know what possessed (interesting choice of words) to enter that temple, that temple where even Hio refused to enter, but I did. Perhaps I was tired of being the good one, mocked by the party for my lawful ways, perhaps I was just curious, but whatever the reason, I departed from the path of lawfulness into chaos. I was chastened shortly thereafter by two swords through my stomach as the words “Your glory before another’s” echoed around me, but Elyas cured the wounds shortly thereafter.

The fact remains that my actions made Hio mistrust me for some time after the initial entry into the temple, and while he appears to be back to his old self, I am still uneasy about my choices and what they mean. I have engaged in pettiness against Elyas (he left a sick, drunken dragonborn in my room, and I may have sneaked into his room later that evening and left some of the dragonborn’s sickness in his shoes) and I confess to a certain Hio-like delight in combat for combat’s sake, especially as I have been training to improve my defenses and do not have to be rescued from the brink of death on an hourly basis. Most worryingly, I seem to have stopped trying to prevent Hio and Nebin from exercising their baser whims, and I even tolerate Elyas’s changeability and Valthrun-baiting more than I used to. Two paths lie ahead of me… the path I have chosen of law and order, or the path of chaos and violence… perhaps my head will be clearer when we leave the troll lairs…

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