After defeating the ice mephits, the party debated whether to climb higher up Talon Peak or to descend back down to the watch tower and prepare to head toward the Whispering Grotto. In the end, the party's curiosity won out and they decided that they would climb higher and hopefully find a spot to rest soon. As they continued their climb they at last came to another plateau after about two hours of more climbing.
Aven once again took it upon himself to sneak into the cave that offered the only shelter on the plateau to determine if it was safe. When he snuck in he was able to discern what appeared to be four yetis inhabiting the cave, one of which was unusually large. He could also make out the forms of what appeared to be two human sized bodies on the floor of the cave, apparent victims of the yetis. Aven snuck back out and relayed this information to the rest of the party as they arrived on the plateau.
The party was debating how best to approach the yetis, who appeared to be unaware of the party's presence, when Bernard decided he had heard enough and tossed a bag of food into the cave. Bernard's offering was answered with an angry roar from inside the cave. With an exasperated glance at the paladin, Aven and Vlad headed to the sides of the cave entrance in hopes of attacking the yetis as they exited. However, the creatures only came out far enough to be able to swipe at the party members on the edges of the cave entrance. Bernard attempted to use his special paladin powers on one of the yetis but found that the creature was not evil and thus did not suffer extra ill effects. At the same time, Vlad confirmed that another of the yetis was also not evil. The beasts continued to attack the party; however. Eventually they moved so as to allow the other two yetis to join in the fray, even as one of the first yetis fell to the party's blows. Although the yetis had powerful claws, they were ultimately no match for the party, and they were soon all dead. The last two fell particularly quick when it was discovered that they were, indeed evil.
The party searched the cave and found a pile of gems and coins as well as two dead humans. Finding no other signs of danger the party camped in the cave for the night to secure as much warmth as possible for the weather had grown particularly cold and stormy.
The following morning, Joseph was able to use his divine magic to speak with one of the dead humans and learned that he was indeed a guard from the town of Varnhold, though he had been stationed at the watch tower. Unfortunately, the guard did not know what had happened to the town and further, was not even sure what had happened to him as he never did get a good look at his killers. The party surmised it was the yeti's but was disappointed to learn that he did not know more about the vanished villagers.
Refreshed, the party continued their climb to the top of Talon Peak. It took many hours, but they did eventually reach the peak of the mountain, where they discovered an ancient, crumbling observatory. The telescope in the observatory was long since broken and in the center of the tower where the telescope would have once stood, was now a giant bird nest with four immense eggs, each the size of a human. As the party was exploring the tower and attempting to make sense of the strange markings on the door of the observatory, they were greeted by a loud screech as a gigantic roc alighted on the top of the tower. Aven was getting ready to battle the gargantuan bird when the creature spoke to each of the party members telepathically, and in each of the languages they knew. The bird offered a friendly greeting to the party and appeared to know them by name.
As the party questioned the bird it became clear that the creature was beyond ancient. It also was soon revealed that while the roc was familiar with the Nomen centaurs, it did not know what had happened to Varnhold. The existence of Varnhold was barely even a blip on the timeline of the Roc and it had never even noticed the town. It did however offer to the party that if they were able to pass the test of air, they could have one of its eggs which the Nomen in turn could use in a ritual that might provide further information to the party about what had happened to the villagers.
The party readily agreed to the test and one by one they were taken onto the back of the bird as it flew up high in the atmosphere and then raced along the mountain and through the air. The bird would make sharp, banking turns, rapid swoops along the peaks, full verticle loops in the air and even fold in its wings and dive at breath taking speeds down the side of the mountain. Most of the party had trouble remaining on the bird, and Cice and Bernard might have suffered particularly devastating injuries when they fell off the bird were it not for the paladin's magical boots. However both Aven and Vlad performed well enough to pass the test and the Black Roc gifted the party with one of her eggs.
The party then descended down the mountain with Aven flying softly down while carrying the immense, and heavy egg. When the party was about a third of the way down the mountain, a rift violently opened in the air near the cliff face and two huge air elementals burst forth from the rift. Joseph, thinking quick, used his magic to teleport himself and Cice to a nearby plateau while Aven flew down to the same plateau. The elementals soon followed the party down to the plateau where Cice used her magic to confuse them into fighting each other. By the time the elementals were done fighting each other and had regained their senses, they were both nearly dead and the party was able to dispatch them with ease. Thankfully for the party, they were then able to descend the rest of the way down the mountain without any trouble.
When the party returned to the Nomen they were informed that the Black Roc is a creature that transcends time and that its eggs are able to catch glimpses of events that had transpired in places they've been as well as to observe glimpses of events that were yet to be. The centaurs readily agreed to perform the ritual for the party, but before they did, the party decided to take the egg through the town of Varnhold in the hope of being able to catch a glimpse of what had befallen the town.
After taking the egg to the town, the party returned to the centaurs and several of the elders brought the party and the egg into a large, round hut with a small opening in the top. As the ritual began a thick, aromatic smoke began to fill the hut and soon images began to flash in the smoke. At first elves could be seen constructing an elaborate observatory on the top of a tall mountain peak. Later though the elves had disappeared and it appeared as though cyclopes had taken up residence in the observatory. These astronomers appeared to be focusing on the Dark Tapestry. Later the party could see that the cyclopes were all gone or dead and the tower was abandoned. The images then flickered and soon a tiny village appeared and humans could be seen fighting with centaurs. The village then grew before the party's eyes until at last, the images showed an evening when all at once, everyone in the town simply walked out of their homes and headed south out of the town as a haunting melody played on the air. This was not the end though for the final images to be shown were those of the same village of varnhold and another large scale battle, only this time it appeared as though most of the combatants, on both sides, were human.
After the ritual, Aecora pulled the party aside and told them that while she still did not know for certain what had befallen the vanished town, she suspected what may have occurred. She informed the party that it had long been the sacred duty of the Nomen tribe to guard against an ancient evil that was said to reside to the south in an area known as the Valley of the Dead. She knew the name of the evil was Vordakai, but the tales of the nature of the evil had long since vanished from the memories of her tribe. It was this sacred duty though that kept the Nomen in the plains of the Nomen Heights despite centuries of attacks from humans striving to drive the centaurs out of the area. She believed that Vordakai was a cyclops but also stated that the ancient cyclopean empire that used to control the region was not known to be evil. She regretted that she could not tell the party more, but she did indicate that there was one other who might know something of what had occurred, a silver dragon to the south by the name of Amvarean.