On December 8th, Monday, Citadel House Adventurers set out into the East forest, a forest with abundant game, but which a day from the Vale becomes too thick for hunters to trifle with. The Black Hammer gnoll adventuring party returned from their exploration in the area and, learning about the tight food situation offered to feed themselves so as not to be a burden. They also reported some of their findings, including an unusual farm deep in the thick woods apparently maintained by metal men. The party sets out with only 2 days of food, expecting to find an ancient road through nigh-impassable woods (the gnolls call it a Nefil Road, after the race they believe built it) about a day from Citadel.
- Randall (HuS): Level 5 Human Druid
- Oliver, Level 5 Fox Companion
- Osiris (CoB): Level 5 Elf Magic-user (Life and Death)
- Sylvania (LaB): Level 2 Satyr Thief
- Donehogawa (TrS): Level 1 Centaur Fighter
They find the road early and make good time eastward. In the afternoon, with the woods thickening, Randall hears shouting and flapping wings. The adventurers run toward the sound and see a centaur fleeing three kobolds riding Jealkia. With trees restraining the drakes suddenly at Randall’s command, one of the riders is thrown to the ground. The centaur comes back around, slaying the kobold where he lies. With ranged attacks and Osiris’s spells killing the riders by the time they break free of the trees, the drakes flee.
They learn that the Centaur is Donehogawa, arrived from the North seeking his long missing brother, Dohasan, who expects to find among the elves. The sight of Osiris excites him greatly and hearing that there are more elves where they come from, he agrees to accompany him on their journey and return with them. They stay the night at the edge of the thicker woods, but in the morning (amid heavy rain), Sylviana returns to Citadel, not liking the look of the forest. The others press on, making good time on the road, which though overgrown and cracked in places still makes the way easier to pass than normal forest, though the foliage is barely passable on either side.
On the way, they pass a large, jagged rock covered in moss, many tons in weight, that the gnolls marked on the map as “wandering rock.” In another couple miles, they see why. A large hill rises ahead of them covered in the same jagged rocks, on the edge of the hilly range between them and the mountains. Following the gnolls’ recommendation, they skirt the hill on the south side, avoiding the thickest woods and coming upon another Nefil Road running Southwest toward their destination. On that road, they are soon attacked by a giant mantis, which grabs Osiris, but is soon killed, Donehogawa’s spear through its thorax and head.
Continuing down the road, they come (around noon, with the rain ending) upon some piles jagged rocks like those of the hill and the wandering rock, but these are completely clean of moss and other plants. A cave lets them into the rock formation, all seemingly intentionally built, and on the other side they find a massive maze of hedges with a tower at its center, beautiful marble statues dotting it. Randall commands the hedges to part and they make their way to the tower, searching its base for hidden doors, but finding none.
With no apparent ingress, Randall takes falcon form ascends toward the top of the tower. As he goes, a bolt of fire strikes him from a crystal fixture, igniting his feathers and forcing him back into human form. As he falls, Donehogawa attempts to catch him, but has to step into the nearby sand garden to do so. The sand gives way beneath his hooves and they both careen into a dark pit under the sand. In the dark, Randall finds one of his hellweed seeds and grows a torch, which creates enough light to see they are in a massive pantry full of well preserved food. As they move toward the only door, the smoke starts to make their eyes burn, nearly blinding Randall.
Extinguishing the torch, Randall sends his vine up to the surface to drag Osiris down so he can make a light. With clean, magical light, they proceed to the door, finding it locked. Donehogawa beats it down with his hooves, and as he lands the final blow, they see a facsimile standing surprised on the other side. They sheepishly explain themselves and the facsimile, understanding, escorts them out, telling them to wait for the steward at the waiting area, which it points them toward.
They wait there (a lovely gazebo with cots and tables) until sunset when a lavishly filigreed facsimile arrives, surprised to see visitors. They learn that the tower’s master, Zjarr, has been away for over 600 years, but that this facsimile represents him in his absence, waiting for someone bearing his symbol to come and claim the inheritance. When they explain their intent in coming and their food situation, the facsimile offers them the year of food they are about to dispose of to make room for this year’s harvest (they store five years of harvest, all kept fresh through yearly replacement). It amounts to 2000 pounds of the 5000 pounds they estimate they need. After a little more discussion, they convince the steward that Zjarr is unlikely to return in the next two years, given how long it has been, and that if he allows them to take an additional year and a half of food, it will not be missed, and if it is, they can pay Zjarr (or his heir) back. The steward considers it possible, but says he will need to check the ledgers to make sure they can spare it. He will tell them in the morning.
Wednesday morning, the steward returns and tells them he can have the food waiting for them on Monday, when they will return with carts from the Vale. They depart, taking the southern Nefil Road the gnolls said runs all the way from the farm to the Vale, exploring the way the carts will have to take. On the way, Randall convinces a pack of wolves to leave them alone, but on Thursday fog for much of the day slows them down enough that they arrive in the Vale after dark, spending the night in the windmill.
Friday, they arrive in Citadel before more rain starts. They inform Matthias of the arrangement they have made and he starts rounding up carts to send. Donehogawa learns that his brother arrived only the day before and they have a reunion. Since Dohasan owes Rovert a life debt, he will be staying in Citadel House, so Donehogawa also agrees to join the adventurers.
Saturday, carts start out toward Zjarr’s garden, accompanied by Verdis, Donehogawa, and Vale folk guards. They arrive Monday evening and load up, returning safely to the Vale on Thursday, where the very fine food is distributed to make up for lost supply.
I’m willing to bend my strict race rules for a good story, and Donehogawa find Dohasan was an excellent story, so TrS has a centaur character now, his fourth in Citadel House. I’m curious how much use he’ll see.