Stolen Lands

Running Wild

The party left Varnhold and headed east, searching for the Nomen centaurs that were said to reside somewhere in the Dunsward to the east. The party began by exploring the plains to the east and soon there efforts were rewarded as they were encountered by two centaur scouts. The scouts tried to turn the party away initially, but when the party insisted, the scouts eventually allowed the party to go to the Nomen village, provided they hand over all weapons.

The party continued to receive a chilly reception from the centaurs who indicated that they did not like humans and that humans had, for centuries, driven the tribe from their lands. When the centaurs were told that the party was simply attempting to gather information about the disappearance of their friends in Varnhold the centaurs continued to be unfriendly, stating that Varnhold was anything but a friend of the centaurs. After much back and forth, Baron Black at last was able to gain a concession from Aecora Silverfire, the chieftian of the Nomen tribe. That was, that if the party could return the sacred bow Skybolt to the tribe that it might go a long way to mending the relationship between the centaurs and humans, though the bow had been stolen by the people of Varnhold shortly after they settled in the region.

The party camped for the night in the Nomen village and then left early the next morning to return to Varhold in hopes of locating the bow. The party decided to approach the village from the south this time and start a search in that area. While searching through the houses in the southern part of the village, Aven Darkheart located a home where it appeared some celebration had been taking place at the time of the town's disappearance, for there were presents in the home that had yet to be opened. Aven went over to the presents to open them in the hopes of finding something useful. Instead, he was attacked by the presents, which turned out to be a mimic. Although Aven found himself in a sticky situation, and others in the party likewise had some issues, all in all the mimic proved to be relatively simple to dispatch.

After the fight, Joseph Lagrange took the time to consult with his goddess to see if the bow was in fact in the town at all so as not to waste time searching if it weren't. He learned that the bow was in fact in the town and was actually located in the stronghold that was occupied by the Culchek tribe of spriggans. The party then proceeded to the stronghold in the hopes of figuring out how to get the bow out while causing the least amount of fuss. Aven and Darrick were in favor of using stealth to infiltrate the stronghold and simply steal the bow, believing that they could do so without alerting anyone inside to their presence. However, while they were discussing their plan, Bernard, the paladin, came up with a simpler idea. He offered instead to buy the bow from the spriggans. Bernard asked the spriggan on guard at the gate to ask Agai if the spriggan chief would be willing to part with the bow, and was rewarded by learning that the chief was happy to sell the bow to the party if they would then leave. Bernard readily agreed, much to the chagrin of Darrick and Aven.

Before leaving Varnhold altogether though, the party decided to dispatch the chuul that had almost killed Bernard previously. The party laid out a plan, sending the stoutest fighters and the best swimmers after the chuul, while also giving those who were fighting the ability to breathe water. Now that the party knew what they were going to be up against, they had no trouble fighting the chuul and it was killed without much struggle. As the party inspected the tunnel in which the chuul had made its lair, they noticed that it opened into a wide underground cavern and then had another small tunnel leading off of it. Vlad eventually swam down that tunnel and discovered that it opened out at the bottom of a well inside the stronghold. Vlad made a note of that in case he should ever need it in the future.

With Skybolt in hand, the party returned once again to the Nomen tribe and presented the bow to Aecora. The chieftian was quite pleased at the return of the relic. The return of the bow also impressed many of the other centaurs, including Aecora's daughter, Xamanthe. However a sizeable faction of the tribe, comprised primarily of younger centaurs, and lead by the warrior Danide still opposed the party's presence, saying that the two leggeds had performed their errand and that they could now go. Cice Tappo continued to negotiate with the centaurs and eventually Danide declared that they were simply at a disagreement, but that the tribe had a means for resolving disagreements, the Kankerrata Run.

The Kankerrata run is a sacred test among the centaurs and one that requires strength, wit, and endurance. The party agreed that they would participate though the tribal leaders said there would be no shame in not participating for no two legged had ever attempted it previously. The next morning the party was taken to an area of the Dunsward known as the Blood Furrows and told the rules of the Run. The Blood Furrows were a large swath of the Dunsward that was inhabited by a sacred spirit of the earth known as Kankerrata. The goal of the Run is to traverse the length of the Blood Furrows while touching several sacred stones and avoiding the jaws of the sacred spirit of the Earth. Participants must navigate numerous obstacles and can attempt to slow down other contestants, but it is sacrilege to kill Kankerrata, though damaging the spirit is allowed in self defense, so long as it is not killed.

Every member of the party chose to participate, though several soon found that completing the course would be difficult at best. Bernard, Thom Merrilon, and Cice soon had to withdraw as they faced insurmountable obstacles in their path. As the rest of the party progressed through the course, they eventually encountered the great spirit as Kankerrata burrowed out of the ground and took vicious bites out of Aven and Joseph, rendering the poor cleric unconscious in one chomp. Fortunately, Aven was able to revive Joseph and they could continue on through the course. As they approached the end, Darrick and Danide hit the open plains and could see the finish line, but Kankerrata once again burst forth from the ground and attacked. This time though, it attacked Danide and Darrick was able to sprint ahead to the finish, crossing the line first. Vlad was the next to complete the course as Danide continued to fend off Kankerrata. Joseph then crossed ahead of the centaur as she finally was able to withdraw from her combat and finish. Finally, Aven also crossed the line, succesfully completing the Run. The party drew additional praise when earlier in the run Joseph had taken the time to help Xamanthe who had been pinned under a collapsing stone ceiling in one of the caverns.

After the Run, even the most ardent opponents of the party's presence in the centaur village were willing to accept their presence there, even if they did not yet fully trust the party.


arvola Gargs454