Campaign of the Month: March 2009
Denizens of the Nentir Vale
Thunderspire Labyrinth – What we know
Valthrun shakes his head, “No, you are correct, that was Thunderspine all those years ago. Ah, that was quite a journey.” He pauses, obviously reflecting on his past exploits. Directing his attention back to Tira and her companions he says, “I do not know of anyone that has been under Thunderspire, but I have heard rumours here and there. Tales claim that a great city built by minotaurs in the ancient days waits within the depths of the mountain. If you are in search of further adventure, then exploring those ruins and bringing back word of the wonders you see would make this old man extremely happy. Think about how strange such a place must be! And imagine the treasures that might remain from such an alien time and location.”
Tira smiles, “A lost minotaur city sounds like fun, but also sounds potentially dangerous.” Her smiled widened at the thought of danger.
Valthrun also smiles, “If peradventure you do find yourselves under the mountain I would be grateful for an artifact proving the city exists.”
“How grateful?” Tira asks, making no attempt to hide the meaning underneath her question.
Valthrun shakes head, “Anything I could provide will pale before the amazing treasures you uncover, I am sure. However I would be willing to trade a ritual or two for proof that minotaurs did indeed live in our little valley.”
“If you want adventure you should try something other than minor pilfering,” Marla intoned. Looking around the table at the assembled adventurers one of Marla’s eyebrows arched. “Good folk,” she begins, “You have already done a great service for Winterhaven and the people of Nentir Vale. Can you find it in your heart to help us again?” Hearing no immediate rejection she explained, “Yesterday, as I was about to begin the journey here, Baron Stockmer asked for my assistance. Members of a clan called the Bloodreavers have captured a dozen villagers from the small settlement of Riverdown, one of the half dozen villages that make up the Harkenwold. A young tracker from the village followed the Bloodreavers and their prisoners until they reached the Trade Road south of Thunderspire Mountain. Then he turned toward the town of Fallcrest to seek help. The Baron of Harkenwold has promised a reward of 1,000 gold for the rescue and safe return of the captives.”
At the mention of the Bloodreavers Lord Padraig straightens up. “I am sorry I am unable to provide a proper reward for the defeat of Kalarel, but maybe I can help you now.” Reaching into an inner pocket Lord Padraig pulls out a letter. “This was given to me whilst you were in the Keep; since you defeated Kalarel I did not think it of any use. Maybe you can use this to track down these Bloodreavers and earn a proper reward.”
“My search started in Riverdown, a small settlement in the Harkenwold, just south of the White River near the King’s Road. It is many a day’s ride along the King’s Road to reach Riverdown. I had been passing through when Marla arrived with Rift in her employ, a curious fact that gladdened me. It was through my acquaintance with Rift that Marla trusted me enough to described the circumstances of the villager’s abduction. A rich reward is being offered by the Baron of Harkenwold, who is also very concerned, though I know not if it is for his people or his crown.”
“Late that evening I set out to track the Bloodreaver gang. The story I had been told was that they had crept into the town at nightfall, when even the strongest of the villagers were tired from their long day toiling in the fields. Under the cover of darkness the Bloodreavers snatched many villagers and raced away with the abducted in a wagon, said to not be pulled by horses, but a single mighty beast. The trail along the road had grown cold with countless hoofmarks and bootprints, so I searched the hillside which looks down upon the fertile land of Riverdown. There I found an abandoned camp, likely used by the Bloodreavers to watch the town from above and plot the best time to strike. I managed to find tracks, both human and goblinoid, that lead down the hill and paralleled the road toward the bridge that crosses the White River.”
“I then crossed the White River, heading north. Where the King’s Road turns west there is a road that shortcuts north through the Harken Forest, connecting the King’s Road with the Trade Road. The road is rough and dangerous, better suited to riders on horseback than a large and heavily loaded wagon. That north end of the Harken Forest is thick and dark, full of uncounted creatures that prefer the shadows. It is there that the Bloodreavers took refuge from the villager’s search parties. By my estimate there were half a dozen human and goblinoids in the Bloodreaver gang. Their camp was crude and careless in the way they left it – bones of various game animals, broken branches and exposed coals. However, there was little sign of the prisoners, so they must have been kept captive in the wagon. One can only imagine their fear.”
“From that camp, the Bloodreavers raced north out of the forest. The wagon beast must have been driven hard, for the metal rims of the wheels left harsher scrapes on the rocks and would occasionally leave the edge of the road. Just south of Raven Roost, the tracks left the road and circled around the outpost through the dry meadows. Though none of the inhabitants of Raven Roost recall anything usual that day, they did speak of increased human and non-human activity around Thunderspire Mountain. The rumors varied widely, but it seems clear that something is not right for Thunderspire lore tells of a place only sought by creatures with dark hearts.”
“I lost the tracks in the wet and mud where the shortcut road meets the Trade Road, just southeast of Thunderspire Mountain. The mountain seems to be constantly surrounded by thunderstorms. Only once could I glimpse its proportions. The rain stopped and the skies briefly cleared, though the thunder continued far off. I could see a tall and steep force of rock and occasional ice. A thin veil of fresh snow covered its higher reaches. Sun glinted off the wet rock on the lower flanks. Travelers of the Trade Road did not want to stop and take the time to answer my questions. Those that did called me a fool for wanting to venture closer to the mountain. The danger was exhilarating and drew me to it. The feeling in my heart was that of both longing and foreboding. Even the air smelled of something more than just twisted pines, rock and ice. There is something more, I could feel it. Just how many have perished there, on Thunderspire Mountain?”
“With the cold and rain obliterating the tracks, I headed west to Fallcrest to report my findings. Marla was there and she immediately offered me a position in her entourage. It seems that in these times the roads are less and less safe. In the warmth of Fallcrest, it was easier for me to contemplate a return to Thunderspire Mountain, but Marla had Rift and I accompany her further west to Winterhaven.”
Rift directs the party to The Silver Unicorn, the pricier of the two inns in town, even though the Nentir Inn sees a more interesting clientele. During the evening, using all your Streetwise skills, and appropriate askings, you find out that Thunderspire is not so uninhabited as the people of Winterhaven believe. Beneath Thunderspire lies the ancient minotaur city of Saruun Khel. The minotaur kingdom fell almost a hundred years before Fallcrest was established, when a struggle for succession led to a vicious civil war. Some folk claim that portions of the city still exist today, albeit under the tight rule of a group of overseers, whilst other portions of the city have fallen into ruin and disuse and have become a haven for the creatures of the underdark. The main level is said to be open to the outside and that merchants passing along the Trade Road sometimes take shelter here, although no one with whom you converse has actually been inside Thunderspire nor seems to directly know anyone who has done so.
As to the Bloodreavers, a few people claim to have heard the name before, but no one is aware of any slaver gangs operating in the area. One person you talk to, Aren Moonstir, is on the town council and asks if you are going after these, “Bloody reavers.” He will not give you any gold or any other assistance, he is concerned that the town could become threatened in the future and wants to keep abreast of the situation. He asks that if you do find any such slave trade in the Vale that you inform the council on your next trip through.
The only other piece of information about Thunderspire that might be helpful is one old wives tale of a witch that lives way up high in the snowy reaches near the peak that loves to collect shiny objects, killing people as needed to get them; how true that tale might be is suspect.
The Seven Pillared Hall within Thunderspire