We went directly at the stockade. Harrodd literally blew the gates down and we easily overcame light resistance from some spriggans in the stockade yard. Proceeding into the blockhouse, we again met light resistance from the spriggans and overcame them with little trouble. A search of the building brought several noteworthy items to light. Most useful was a map of the area around Varnhold. It was badly damaged but Lily was able to reconstruct it. We also found a beautifully-made longbow; Lily and Harrodd identified it as probably of centaur origin. Such a masterfully-crafted item may have major significance to the centaurs and could prove to be a valuable peace offering when we meet them. As it appears we must. The message on the inn’s door certainly seems to be pointing us to the Nomen centaurs so we should start looking for their encampment as our next stop. Given what we’ve seen as probable enmity between the settlers here and the Nomen, I only hope we get a chance to talk, not fight, with them.
In the morning as we were preparing to depart we woke to a(nother) strange site: a wagon train winding its way through Varnhold. Even at a distance we could hear shouts of…servants, perhaps?…seeking anyone alive in the town. Of course, they found no one and wound up at the base of the hill where the stockade was. It turns out it was the entourage of a young Taldan noble seeking to make his fortune on the ‘frontier of Sarissia’. After informing him he’d only missed the mark by a few…miles, albeit still managing to hit ‘the frontier’, we invited him to join us for breakfast.
Wow! Instant animosity from Jadowyn and I think there might’ve been animosity on the Taldan’s part towards Jadowyn in return, except the Taldan felt the young elf was pretty much beneath his notice. There was some sniping on both sides and the young lord walked off just as Saraiya herself was joining us.
I, myself, took little part in the “discussion”, partly because I found the Taldan’s attitude objectionable, but also because I find myself in an odd position.
I’ve never been subjected to the kind of prejudice and bias faced by Jadowyn’s people from the Taldans; nevertheless, as Lord Chancellor with a vision of what nir’Duin should be and how it should develop, I would’ve been inclined to inject myself into the altercation between them believing that to be for the greater good of the group. As General of the Army, and, furthermore, one with an agenda outside of my duty to nir’Duin, I find myself less likely to involve myself in political matters (I’ve found this true even in council meetings). While this was a (very) minor diplomatic situation, still I pretty much stayed out of it with the result that a potentially valuable asset to our group (albeit a possibly disruptive one) stormed off. Ah well, maybe I’m just overthinking things. Perhaps Saraiya will step in.
Or Lily. Lily, typically, took on the role of peacemaker and convinced the Taldan that it was in his best interests to enlist with us.
Heh. The look on his face when I informed him he could take one horse for himself and enough rations so he, himself, wouldn’t starve was priceless! We’re off to find the centaurs.
We found the centaurs; or more properly, they found us. They did some posturing, but, fortunately, all on our side kept their heads and waited for the centaurs to calm down. Although certainly hostile to us I think they were surprised when we presented the centaur-made longbow we found. At least they took us into their camp so we could meet with their leader.
Acora Silverfire seemed pleased at the return of Skybolt (the name given to the longbow we’d found), and agreed to talk with us. We learned something of the background of her tribe, but it wasn’t until we asked her if she recognized the word ‘Vordakai’ that we learned something useful.
In the centaur’s history, much diluted and lost over the years, Vordakai is said to be a powerful figure from their distant past. She had no details but indicated we might learn more from an area to the west called the Valley of the Dead. When we agreed that should be our next point of investigation, she also asked us to keep an eye out for her daughter, Xamanthe, who’d been missing for several days. Apparently she has reason to believe Xamanthe has entered this “Valley of the Dead” on her own investigation. Of course we agreed to do what we could to bring her news of her daughter.
The next morning we set out for the Valley of the Dead.