In exchange for their help toppling the West Hill March and preventing retaliation, the Vale recognized the Union of Schek as claimant upon the Great Road and the land within a mile of it on either side. Recently, the Union of Schek sent a message to Verdis demanding that the elves settled on the mountain north of the road in their land be called back to the Vale. Since no one has heard of anyone from the Vale settling there, adventurers head north to see about these mysterious elves.
- Q (TrS): Level 6 Human Thief
- Malcom (TrS): Level 4 Human Cleric of the Empty Tomb
- Edrej (MiM): Level 1/2 Gnome Magic-user/Alchemist
- Marvin: Level 1 Human Monk?
On the 23rd of January, they set out from Citadel with 6 days of food. After a night in Edsserish, they continue North, crossing into Union lands to cross the Great Road close to noon, passing through into the north without encountering any Union presence. With about an two and a half hours before sunset, they look to the mountain, pick a path, and start to climb with about a day of water each.
After an hour of climbing, the way becomes narrow and overgrown and Q, leading the way, recognizes that it is merely a goat track and probably not the way the orcs went. They press on for another half hour before the climb becomes steep enough that Q (an experienced climber) is leaving the others behind. When he pauses for the others, he realizes they’re also starting to push through scrub oak and that the way ahead will be unbearably slow.
The party disagrees on whether they are halfway to the peak or a quarter of the way and Q decides to climb a pine nearby. He quickly gets high enough to see that they are indeed a mere quarter of the way. As he looks for a better course up the mountain, he sees a more shallow, pine-filled valley to the north. They descend and Malcom finds a way to cross over some loose rock and get them into the pines. They soon find a place to lay camp among the pines, where snow from the last storm is still common in patches.
During the night, giant bats attack. Q is on watch and goes to wake up Malcom before the bats crash into the tent. Malcom parries a bat coming for him but one lands on Marvin, biting him awake and sucking blood. That damage is the last they get as Malcom cuts the one off of Marvin, Edrej wakes up and casts a fire gout to finish one, and Q finishes the other.
They return to sleep, except Edrej dissects one of the bats without finding anything interesting. When they awake, they find that Malcom during his watch restored life to the other bat and it accompanies them forward. They find that the cliffs are closing in on them, but Malcom’s bat becomes curious about something ahead. They find gnomish skeletons there at the base of the cliff, apparently having fallen from above by their broken bones. While Malcom prays to know their names and lineage, Q climbs the cliff and arriving at the top finds a fortress squatting there, looking out over the great road. Looking around from the top of the cliff, he can see a shorter cliff ahead where the road to the fort probably comes around.
He climbs down and they proceed to the end of the valley where Q and Marvin climb up and throw a rope down for the others to climb up. They follow the road to the stronghold and a voice calls out to them in elvish. They soon learn that the voice is an elf descended from elves that have lived in this fort for generations waiting for new orders from the royal family. They inform them that the royal family died hundreds of years ago when the Dragon Empire attacked, but that a Count, Lord Mistershem, has emerged recently. This intrigues them and they let them, giving them a room and inviting them to dinner.
After some small talk, they eat dinner, where their hosts voraciously consume whatever information they can about the Vale, Mistershem (whether it is possible he betrayed the royal family), and the current orcish holdings. They retire to their beds and in the morning prepare to depart, leaving the small elven family to decide whether and when to depart before the orcs act.
As they leave, Tom remarks on how nice those people were. Tom doesn’t talk, so they immediately become suspicious of him. When Marvin comes to his defense in elvish, they become suspicious of him as well. Malcom quickly says a prayer that removes their disguises, revealing dopplegangers. The dopplegangers try to flee, but Edrej knocks them down with a blast of water and Q drops the elder, threatening his life to make the younger one surrender. The young one goes and gets Marvin and Tom and returns them to them.
They descend the mountain via the road and encounter some orcs out hunting giant boars. These orcs are on their way back to Passguard, so they proceed there together. There they warn the garrison leader that the fort is occupied by the shapeshifters who are likely to leave it soon. They head back from their to Citadel.
These dopplegangers have been waiting for the players to find them by another way, but this is good. The other thing should be a nice surprise later, still. Find the prep for this session over on Patreon.