Legends of Vanhyr

Prologue to a Legend...
A humble beginning...

‘Never rouse the beast that slumbers, nor cage the bird that sings. For precious are the simple wonders, and base the will of kings.’- An old Andorian saying

It is the 1st Day of Midsummer, in the 642nd year of the Exodus.

The times are dark….

It has been over a thousand long summers since men first laid eyes on these lands. In that time, nations have risen and fallen, and wars have raged in every corner of the realm. The great kingdoms of Kalmar and Andor – mortal enemies since the time of the mists – have brokered an uneasy peace. Old adversaries have sheathed their blades… but the steel is still warm with blood.

In the lands of the Shires where our story begins, the fighting men have come home; and the beginning of prosperity rests her reassuring hand over the roads and markets once more. Riverdale, with her hardy trades-folk, is now a center of commerce and opportunity. To the west, mighty Kalmar rules unchallenged; her growing influence over the lands is felt in every town and dale. In the east, the warring Barons wage a war for supremacy in a land where a crown can be won with the stroke of a sword.

The heroes’ own village lies just to the north of Riverdale – a land where untamed frontiers lurk just beyond the hills. Born mere seasons before peace came to the kingdoms of the west, you’ve known nothing of war but for the tales of aging soldiers – and the downcast eyes of widows.

It is in Alder’s Creek that we find our adventure beginning. And it is but for the whim of Kryto, the god of fortune and cards, that it begins at all.

For many a leaf falls before ever it has the chance to fly.

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Prologue to a Legend, part 2

- Evening falls over the village, and with it comes the summer mists that so often rise from the nearby waters. Alder’s Creek, named for the little river that flows through its southern fields, lies nestled amid the many hills and ponds of the valley. It is this quiet place; one that kings and princes and marauding armies have never found much reason to bother; that our humble heroes call home.

Fifteen years ago peace fell over the troubled kingdoms of the west, and since that time Alder’s Creek has changed little. Then again, not even the oldest farmers in town can remember a time when change did come to this place. In Alder’s Creek, the comings and goings of emperors, wizards and great kingdoms scarcely ripple the fish ponds more than a tossed pebble.

It is on just such a night, when calm mists rise over the still waters of home, that our heroes find themselves sitting on the town’s dock, fishing poles in hand. The warm night will bring many a marsh-fly to the long reeds of the north bank, and – with any luck – many a hungry fish to their waiting hooks.

Randall, a good friend of the group’s and the town’s huntsman, walks up to the docks.

“Warm one tonight, eh?” He looks off over the mists gathering on the lake, a troubled expression on his face.

“Well, the town elders have finally decided to buy the lumber up at the Olde Mill.”

The issue of sending for lumber has been talked about, argued over and debated for more than a month now, ever since the town’s only barn – and most of the year’s provisions – burnt to the ground in a mysterious fire. Alder’s Creek, by no means a wealthy or important town, depends on its stores to get it through the year.

If the barns are not rebuilt before the late summer harvest, the town will have no place to store the crops. Worse yet, the late year snows will kill off most of the livestock if the town doesn’t have a place to put them for the winter.

Randall shakes his head. “Of course, there’s no money for it, and we all know that Jallan isn’t going to give up his precious lumber for free. You’d think wood DIDN’T grow on trees—what with his steep prices and all. The elders promised him half our harvest for the wood, and the greedy old bastard agreed. Anyone care to make a run to the Olde Mill to bring back the lumber? We’ll be needing three wagon loads in all.”

The party set out that very next morning, and consisted of Randall, Melgin, Flynn, Chester, and the town’s young Aldorman Kellin. Journeying through the woods, they made good time, and hit the northern road by midday.

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Chapter 1: The Lumber Run

The party headed north along the road, keeping a quick pace and travelling long into the evening hours. On their second day’s journey, they discovered a grisly sight. On the road ahead of them was a dying horse, with a bloody trail leading into the woods nearby. The horse had an arrow in its flank, and was breathing his last. Putting an end to the poor beast’s misery, the party followed the trail, and found an even more terrible sight. There, in the woods they found a young woman’s corpse. She was stripped of all clothing, and several wounds covered her body. She had apparently been brutally savaged and murdered, her killers leaving a strange trophy in one of her wounds. This ‘trophy’ seemed to be a small seed of some kind, and young Kellin took great interest in its origin. They also found The Mysterious Letter tucked away in a saddle-bag pinned under the dead horse’s body. The Mysterious Letter was from the girl’s parent, and it was addressed to a man by the name of Malden. The Mysterious Letter‘s author pleaded with Malden to shelter the girl from some mysterious events going on in the girl’s homeland. The party wrapped up her body, and carried her to The Olde Mill Inne, their original destination.

Upon arrival, they met with Jallan, and Randall Thorn concluded the rather one-sided trade of half the town’s promised harvest for the badly-needed lumber. They also met ral-durant, Jallan‘s second-in-command, who berated the party and made few friends with his attitude and comments. Analiegh, who had yet to join the party at this point, defended Kellin from ral-durant’s merciless taunting, and would later pay for her good deed when ral-durantordered her fired from her job as a bar-girl.

The party held a solemn funeral for the dead girl, and burnt her body in accordance with custom. Their inquiries into The Mysterious Letter and its intended recipient went unanswered, so – lumber loaded in their wagons, the party headed back home to Alder’s Creek. The road ahead of them that morning was long, but familiar. Woods and hollows they had all explored and played in over many years lie to the sides of the road, and the outer fields of Alder’s Creek begin to open out of the morning mists well ahead of them. By midday, they passed some old abandoned houses that they used to explore as kids, and rounded a bend in the road that the farmers used to call the Witch’s Bend.

As night drew near, they crested a low line of hills and spotted the dimly-lit windows of Alder’s Creek just a few miles ahead. Randall Thorn gave a whistle and let everyone know he was going to go out ahead and let everyone know that the party was back.

“With any luck boys, they’ve a feast prepared for us and there’ll be plenty of men to unload the wagons for us so we can sit and enjoy a good, hot meal. See you all in a few!” With that, he ran off down the road to town.

The heroes arrived to a crowd of their families and neighbors that had gathered in the town’s market to welcome them all home. There were lanterns and torches all about the market square, and food on the tables. A couple of the old-timers had some flutes, long pipes and drums out, and one of them was already blowing into an old jug to get the others started.

At long last, our heroes had returned from their first adventure. The next was soon to come…

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Chapter 2: Searching for Answers

The lumber was unloaded from the wagons, and the town celebrated its brief bit of fortune. In those days in the north, any fortune was worthy of a celebration, and the arrival of the lumber for the new barn was certainly no exception.

Most of the party hung around for the festivities, with the exception of Chester, who seemed to have disappeared for the time being. This was hardly out of the ordinary for the rather aloof Chester, whose antics had always been a source of comedy (and sometimes annoyance) for the town elders.

Work on the barn began in earnest that next morning, and all of our heroes were expected to join in as they were able. It was hard work, but at least a cool breeze was blowing down from the mountains in the north, making it a good deal less oppressive than the previous few weeks. The barn’s frame would take a good week to get up, and after that the work of putting up the walls and roof would go much more quickly. As greedy and underhanded as Jallan was, he knew good timber when he saw it, and the oaken planks the party brought from the mill would likely last more than a century — even in the harsh weather of the Shires.

With a good days’ work done on the barn, and the first thick uprights put into place at the corners, our heroes end their day with some cool ale out on the banks of the fishing pond.

They decided to head back north to see if Morgan, the Shire-Reeve, had come to the mill to make his inquiries about the murder. Hoping to get some more answers (and that Morgan would raise a posse to find the murderers), the party headed north once again – this time accompanied by Hummel Stoutman, the town’s brawler and erstwhile drunk. A brief scuffle ensued, and poor Kellin took a bit of a beating from the brute. After clearing things up a bit, they headed north to The Olde Mill Inne once again. Upon arrival, they learned that Analiegh had been fired by Ral for her defense of the party on their last visit, and had gone north looking for work.

The answers they received from the Reeve were somewhat less telling than they had hoped. Morgan told the party to forget things, and to return home, as he saw no reason to look further into matters. A meeting with a mysterious gentleman at the bar convinced Melgin to look a bit further, and the party decided to head up to the town of Kalvan. Randall Thorn and Chester returned to Alder’s Creek to tell them the news that there would be no posse after all, and to question some of the farmers along the road that the girl must have taken to get this far north. The party agrees to meet up again in Kalvan in a little under a week’s time.

Hummel Stoutman proved to be a difficult and largely disruptive travelling companion, and the journey was a bit longer because of it for some of our heroes. After crossing the Green River, and many days of travel, the party finally reached the town of Kalvan. There, they met with Analiegh once more, who was now working at the tavern there. They also got dragged into a brawl that Hummel Stoutman started with some locals in the bar. Only Kellin’s quick thinking and priestly negotiating saved the party from certain arrest.

They also met old Haggar, the town’s resident expert on animals and plants. He identified the mysterious ‘seed’ that they had found in the woman’s wound as a casting from a falcon. Flynn‘s theories had proven sound after all, and now, armed with knowledge that one of the murderers was a falconer, they eagerly awaited Randall Thorn’s arrival so that they could proceed. Our heroes then headed to Lord Helvar’s manor to try and report these things as best they could.

Lord Helvar was receptive and welcoming to the party, and listened intently to their tales. After praising them for their bravery, he told them that he did indeed know a Malden- or rather that he once did. He gave them directions to the man’s house, and something else – the possibility of a reward being offered for the capture/killing of the men who murdered the mysterious girl.

It was here that Sylar, Lord Helvar‘s huntsman and scout joined the group, charged by Helvar with bringing the party safely to Malden’s house. Randall Thorn and Chester rejoined the group after learning that the dead girl had not been alone on her journey, and that there was another woman with her. He judged that the other girl had either been taken by the murderers or hopelessly lost in the wilds.

The party decided to go to Malden’s house, and deliver The Mysterious Letter carried by the murdered girl to its intended destination. They learn that the northern road is plagued by bandits – and worse, and the reeve posted notice that anyone heading north on the road should form caravans for safety. Hummel Stoutman disappeared about this time, and although few people in the party missed his presence, it did cause some concern when no one seemed to know where he had gotten off to. Finally, Randall Thorn decided to go ahead and leave without him, and the party set out with food and supplies for a long journey into the north.

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Chapter 3: The Journey North

The party set out from Lord Helvar‘s manor on the 21st Day of Midsummer, also known as Founder’s Day in Andor. Although the first day was relatively calm, on the second day of their journey the unthinkable happened: the party was attacked on the road.

Arrows flew out from across a wooden bridge, and a half-dozen men armed with clubs, axes and knives jumped out at the group; robbery – or worse – on their minds. Sylar had taken an arrow, and was down near the edge of the bridge. Grabbing him up, Flynn got to cover while the others scrambled to defend themselves. The fight was short, but brutal, and in the end, Melgin’s axe found its mark, slaying one of the bandits. The other bandits all either fled the scene or fell from their wounds. Only the sharp-eyed archer north of the bridge kept his feet, and several more of his arrows pinned down the party. Flynn, acting on instinct, tried to rush the bridge, only to take an arrow himself. Melgin grabbed a shield from one of the wounded bandits and raced across the bridge to grabb the wounded Flynn, and rushed back – arrows thunking into his shield the whole way.

The archer finally fled, leaving little trail behind him. The party had captured several of the bandits, and under questioning they learned little but the name of their leader – the archer ‘Harn’. After a heated debate within our heroes’ ranks, with Sylar calling for the bandit’s blood and Kellin and Analiegh trying to defend them, the matter was solved in the most unlikely of ways.

Kellin called upon the Creator’s blessings, and before the party’s eyes wove his hitherto unknown healing powers over the wounds of his companions and the bandits alike. Collapsing from the exertion, Kellin’s own body seemed to be wracked with pains and maladies from the magical weaving.

After gathering themselves up, and releasing the hapless bandits, the party continued on towards their destination. They finally reached Malden’s house, and after a night spent in the shadow of a rather strange shrine, they met Malden himself.

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Chapter 4: Emmil Cairn, part 1

Malden asks the party to accompany him as he heads to the mercenary camps near Emmil Cairn. He intends to seek out Grund Barksallow, a man who knows much about the comings and goings of sell-swords and their ilk. Loaded down with supplies, they set out on the 28th and final day of Midsummer, 642.

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Chapter 4: Emmil Cairn part 2

The party headed off with Malden to speak with Grund Barksallow, and journeyed through the northern highlands towards the town of Emmil Cairn. Finally reaching their destination, they discovered a large mercenary encampment at the base of the valley commanding the northern road to the Deeping Pass.

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Chapter 4: Emmil Cairn part 3

Malden met with his contact Grund, an associate of his from the old days. The two spoke, although not quite cordially, and Grund indicated that he was not comfortable speaking to Malden in the mercenary camp. So the two set up a meeting in the tavern at Emmil Cairn for later that night. The meeting went off without too much trouble, and the party learned a little from the conversation.

Malden had apparently taken some part in the Western Wars, as Grund put it ‘I respect you for what you did back in the war, old man – a lot of us did, no matter what the king thought…’ he went on to tell Malden that his name was known in the area now, and that whoever sent the men to murder the girl worked for ‘someone of importance’. The two parted after Grund warned the old man to leave, and leave fast.

Malden, visibly shaken by the conversation, and by the mysterious reference to a fight involving the PCs as another “Fall’s Ridge”, Malden bid a hasty farewell to the party, telling them to go home. He arranged with an old friend of his named Nalina to provide them some horses (which were to be stationed on the west bridge in case of trouble so that the party could make a speedy getaway) and before leaving, gave them a coinpurse in return for their help.

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Chapter 4: Emmil Cairn part 4

The party headed to the home of Nalina, an old friend of Malden’s, who arranged to provide some horses for them for any sort of a getaway they might have needed. They spoke at length about matters in the lands, and learned of several important figures in Riverdale who might be able to provide assistance against the mercenaries.

What the heroes have learned about the mercenaries is, to say the least – alarming. The three most powerful warlords from The BaronsThulgas, Bors Grimtooth and Halfdan the Red – have all sent forces to The Shires to fight over control of the Deeping Pass. Thulgas and Bors are apparently trying to enter into an alliance to force Halfdan the Red‘s forces out entirely. An attack on a caravan up north by Thulgas’ forces led to some unease between the two warlords, as Bors Grimtooth did not receive his fair cut of the loot. The two intend to come to an agreement over the proper split of proceeds in the coming days, and when that happens, they will announce an official alliance against Halfdan the Red.

Learning all of this, the party mulled over its options, finally settling on reporting back to Lord Helvar. All seemed well until their arrival at the Lord’s manor – Reeve Morgan was there, and he was none too happy to see them.

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Chapter 4: Emmil Cairn part 5

The party’s arrival at Lord Helvar‘s was greeted with ill news, and long-awaited truth. Helvar and Reeve Morgan questioned the party on their whereabouts, their deeds, and what they learned. Reeve Morgan revealed that he and Lord Helvar had long known about the mercenaries, and had been dealing with them, paying tribute and protection money out of Helvar’s coffers, and keeping the people of The Shires out of their way. Helvar revealed that he sent the party north to discover whether Malden was even still around, as he believed that the usually hermetic Malden would show himself when he saw The Mysterious Letter from his old friend and pupil “D.V.”.

After a long discussion on the options remaining to The Shires, Lord Helvar charged the party with delivering his request for assistance to the Dales Council at Riverdale, far to the south. The Reeve was not happy with this option, as he believed that Riverdale would only send enough men to anger and provoke the mercenaries, and that it would spell the doom of the people.

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