TO VALOR HOLD
The party left the east gate of Beryl around midday. They traveled three and a half days along the road north, and spent the night at the crossroads with an eastern split towards Valor Pass – though the night passed as uneventfully as the others in this stretch of their journey, they could not shake an unspecific creepy feeling at this crossroads.
They took the fork east and traveled an additional few days. Outside the pass they met a caravan driver who warned that there were bandits active near Quarry Way.
The party entered the Pass, and during fourth watch that night, Wraya and Gwarryn heard a strange song high above them. They felt a minor compulsion to sek out the source, but both managed to resist the pull. When they mentioned it in the morning, Henry said he had heard something a rumor about this sort of thing in Beryl, but the guy from whom he’d heard about it had fallen and hut himself while looking for the source.
As they traveled on, they were halted late the next morning by the “old man” who had been shadowing their path. He introduced himself as Viscoth and said that he had already kidnapped the boy we were looking for, and offered the party whatever they wanted in exchange for the Angel’s Tear. He offered knowledge, he offered power, he offered money. Some of the party seemed to be considering the offer carefully, rendering Jason utterly aghast. Viscoth had paralyzed Corbin, who had drawn his weapon and was approaching. The discussion drew on as Gwarryn was attempting to draw out any possible information; he was able to confirm that Viscoth was from the east as the party suspected, and he seemed to have political power there as well as magical. Then Gwarryn, who was keeping the Angel’s Tear, tossed a different stone to Viscoth – and it passed right through him, giving away his illusionary or ethereal nature. At this, he realized the gem thrown at him was a fake, and sent in two harpies and a manticore to attack as his presence vanished from view.
The party dispatched their monstrous foes, though not without sustaining some fairly substantial injuries. Gwarryn collected the tail spikes the manticore had flung at the party, as they had magical properties and could be useful later. Everyone’s wounds were healed as best as could be done on the road and the party set off once more, hoping to make Valor Hold before nightfall. En route, they encountered a makeshift toll booth manned by some shady-looking fellas. These men requested a 3gp toll.
-After sending someone back for a shitload of dimes- The party paid the toll, as it was better to avoid this fight than start another so soon after being pounded on by the manticore and harpies. Their leader stamped the papers from Underrock with some symbol and let the group pass.
They arrived at Valor Hold near sundown, and the gate guard recognized the symbol: it was the sigil of Grimin’s Riders. He snickered and said that some of them make a little extra money on the side by charging tolls of unsuspecting travelers. He told the party to stay at the Targe Mahal, a local inn, for the night. As they were breaking their fast in the morning, soldiers entered and informed them that Tain Markel requested a meeting at noon. In the meantime they would be escorted by a soldier if they had anything to do in town. Shortly before noon they were escorted from the inn deeper into the fort, and met with Markel in the officer’s mess. He was suspicious: a boy was kidnapped from Hillside Farm (confirming to the party what Viscoth had told them), harpies and a manticore show up in the Pass, and suddenly a group of well-armed adventurers who can handle those monsters appears in town on “unrelated business” requesting passage into the Valley. Aben Sist showed up at the meeting and, after reviewing the party’s documentation from Underrock, approved their access into the Valley despite Markel’s misgivings – they would be allowed to enter the next morning.
The evening was spent in planning. Everyone was there, since Timothy was unable to find a brothel. (He’d hoped to leave a venereal gift for Grimin’s Riders via the women there to thank them for setting up the tollbooth in the pass.) Some in the party believed that Sist was planning a setup of some sort: why make them wait until tomorrow? There was also discussion of whether or not the group should split up in its investigation, and if so then how they should split. They knew of several locations where the child they sought might be… assuming that Viscoth had kidnapped the wrong child, without the Angel’s Tear to guide him and indicate the right person. First was the village of Green Pasture, the nearest village to Valor Hold. There were two farmsteads about midway through the Valley; these were a nexus of several farms, but not quite a full village. The one along the northern valley slope was Hillside Farm, which is where the kidnapped boy lived. Finally, at the furthest end of the valley was Ridge Peak.
THE VALARIAN VALLEY
The next day, the party was met outside the interior gate by 20 members of Grimin’s Riders. They were to escort us to Thomas’ Ferry, where they were headed as well. This fed the suspicions of the party that they were being targeted, but none of the Riders appeared nervous or otherwise ready for an attack. Four more outriders joined them at the mouth of the Pass, where it widens into the Valley. The party made conversation with the Riders about their current task, and learned that the Riders were headed to Ridge Peak and that the ferry was paid for all the way there. It seemed people were a little on edge about the kidnapped child, and they were being sent to keep an eye on the eastern pass into the Terem Mountains near that village, Old Road Pass.
At Thomas’ Ferry, they met Thomas Slington, an energetic halfling who subtly presented a Titanite stone when he recognized the stones carried by the party. He launched his boat once everyone was aboard, and Gwarryn approached him in the wheelhouse for a lengthy conversation. They discussed the children in the valley of the proper age, and Slington said that he had put together a list of possible kids. There were two in Ridge Peak, seven at Green Pastures, and the boy kidnapped from Hillside Farm. Slington said that “if he was a betting man,” he thought the son of the blacksmith at Ridge Peak was a good candidate – he was strong, smart and charismatic. He also said that the children at Green Pastures had watchful eyes on them. The party adjusted their plans: they would take the ferry all the way up to Ridge Peak and work their way back towards Valor Hold. In the middle of the night, Slington briefly stopped at his home along the Fuller River and picked up a list of the children to give to Gwarryn.
At Ridge Peak, the detachment of Grimin’s Riders went to the eastern pass and the party went into town. Gwarryn, Corbin and Henry took the Angel’s Tear to the Blacksmith’s shop to test his son; Jason, Wraya and Timothy went to the Mayor’s house to perform the required negotiations for Underrock and make preparations to test his daughter, the other Ridge Peak child on Slington’s list. (Zaylan was skulking about, subtly keeping an eye on all of it.)
While Corbin distracted the Blacksmith with talk of weaponry, Gwarryn approached his son about mounting a gem into the hilt or pommel of his sword (which he’d borrowed from Jason). When the young man touched the Angel’s Tear, it began to shine—but not the blinding glow that we were told to expect with the prophesied child held it. While he definitely had good potential, Gwarryn should probably have taken Slington up on that bet.
Meanwhile, Jason was negotiating with the mayor and trying to stall for time while Gwarryn tested the young smith. He and the others were observing the mayor’s daughter as well; she was a pretty but incredibly timid girl. While Jason’s extensive Paladin training included the diplomatic arts, he’d never before been a merchant – he never really tended the family business. He managed to secure both an increase in quantity and a discount on the barley Underrock was buying from the farmers around Ridge Peak, whom the mayor was representing as a collective, but was less sure what to do when the mayor proposed adding some of the regional goat cheese to Underrock’s regular order. A message arrived from Gwarryn via a mouse as Jason continued to stall for time over tea and chat, claiming that the person authorized to make that sort of decision was taking care of something else and would be there soon; the note said that they would be by shortly, which meant the young blacksmith was not the one. This mouse spooked the mayor’s daughter and she dropped a teacup in her haste to climb a chair to get away from it; she was clearly not the one, but they would test her with the stone anyway. As Timothy mended the teacup, Gwarryn arrived. He gave the Angel’s Tear to Wraya to take into the kitchen and test the girl, and concluded negotiations with the mayor.
The stone didn’t even flicker.
As the negotiations concluded, there was a commotion outside: horsemen rode into town from the pass. A few of Grimin’s Riders had come back to town: goblins had attacked the pass, and they had the kidnapped child with them! Gwarryn was enlarged by one of Timothy’s spells and silenced the crowd’s rumblings; they would prepare to defend the town, while the newcomers would go to the pass and help. The townsfolk lit an emergency signal at the ferry dock, which would alert the men at Valor Hold to trouble in the village, and readied their steel.
At the Old Road Pass, night was falling as the party helped the Riders finish off the goblins that were somehow holding the road, preventing the Riders from pursuing the child. There they learned from the division leader that the child was being held by hobgoblins bearing the mark of the Legion, which they now knew very well. They learned that the hobgoblins went up the pass towards an ancient Dwarven fortress.
The leader of this band of Riders said that they could find some help from one of the trackers in the Riders who was familiar with the pass and could guide them to tunnels underneath the fortress. Corbin insisted that they should leave immediately, they needed to stay on the trail of the hobgoblins. The Rider said the pass was treacherous and it would be wiser to wait until morning. Jason agreed, and Corbin spat that the plan – and the paladin – was cowardly but he was overruled. The party began to make preparations that evening to storm the castle…