After defeating the hydra, the party decided to head into Varnhold to investigate the seemingly abandoned town. As they approached the Kiravoy River, the party observed the first few outlying homes in the town proper. Aven and Darrick snuck into these homes to try to see if anyone was inside. Once they entered the homes they found that the occupants of the home appeared to have left in a hurry. There were partially eaten meals on the tables or meals in the process of being prepared. Furthermore, although the belongings of the residents appeared to have been rifled through, by and large they all appeared to still be there. Clothes were present, as was cookware, toys, even wagons were left behind.
Cautiously, the party approached the Kiravoy River which ran across the road leading into town. They observed that the bridge that once served to cross the river had been destroyed with only foundation posts remaining. The party scanned up and down the river and noticed a deeper pool just to the east of where the bridge once stood. Curious, Bernard shed his armor and swam down to the pool to investigate for he had spied a tunnel leading off of the pool. To his dismay though, when he reached the tunnel in the pool, he found that the tunnel was inhabited by a chuul. The large, lobster-like creature was quick to snatch the paladin in its claws, trapping him underwater.
The rest of the party sprang into action when they observed the paladin to be in trouble. Cice flung spells at it while Bernard tried to hack the creature, and Joseph dove into the water to heal the paladin. Eventually, Thom was able to use his spells to appear next to the paladin and the cleric and grab both of them as he used his magic to bring all three back to the shore. From there the party observed the creature retreat into the tunnel out of sight.
The exploration of the town continued and party soon found the town's tannery where out back there were three centaur hides that had been hung up to cure. Past the tannery, they came to the town inn, the Waterhorse. Scratched hastily onto the door was a single word: "Nomen". A quick delve into their memories allowed the party to recall that there was a local tribe of centaurs that went by the name Nomen. Upon entering the inn, the party found a strange sight. A large spriggan was standing motionless with an aura of amber light around it. More curious though was the fact that the back of its skull appeared to have been caved in, yet it still stood. In its hand was book with a strange sigil on it. When Bernard attempted to read it, a magic ray darted out from the book and attempted to ensnare him, but fortunately for the paladin he was able to resist the magic. In the corner of the common room a table was littered with books that appeared to belong to the scholar Maestro Ervil Pendrod. These books all seemed to be histories of centaurs and Iobaria. Also on the table was a charcoal sketching of a large jade bracelet. Maestro Pendrod had made some notes about the bracelet, which is what had drawn him back to the town, and noted the unusual markings on the bracelet. He attributed the markings to the Nomen Centaur tribe.
The party then ventured to the upper floor of the inn where they discerned that only one of the guest rooms seemed to have been in use when the town was abandoned. This room appeared to belong the Maestro Pendrod and inside the party was able to fine more tomes. One of these tomes was written by someone named Carmyn e'Brothasa and chronicled Taldor's Third Army of Exploration into the north. Scanning through the book the party observed that one passage in particular had been transcribed by Pendrod, and it read:
And so it was, high upon the Torres and well above the Vale's Stairs, where rises from the high water a stony isle of dire report. Known as Vordakai's Island to those that do live thereabout, some legend of its name doth come down through the locals. For they speak of a guardian that doth destroy all who would set foot upon its accursed shores. They did name no fewer than a twelvecount of their hero-knights who had left their bones upon its rocky shores over the years after having tested their mettle against its dread warden, til none would any longer go there for fear of its hidden terrors. And the name of this terror was given unto this island.
In the margin of the tome, Pendrod speculated that this Vordakai might be some sort of Nomen Centaur god. The party searched their own collective memories but could not recall having ever come across that name in their studies. The party did recall; however, that Maegar Varn had previously mentioned having some trouble with a group of centaurs to the east of the town.
The party then moved onto the Church of Erastil which also appeared to have been ransacked. As she was examining the altar though, Cice was able to locate a hidden drawer that contained ten scrolls which held powerful spells upon them. Cice then wrote a note and placed it in the drawer, explaining that the party had taken the scrolls in case they were necessary and stating that they would gladly replace the same if the townspeople were located and the scrolls were no longer needed.
The rest of the town was much the same. Ransacked houses but most belonging still there. In none of them were there any people. The closest exception came from one small house where the party found a half starved cat hiding among the debris. Cice was able to speak to the cat using her magic and learned that the cat's "feeders" had left in the evening when a "new bird song" was heard. The cat was distracted by some fish at the time and so did not follow. Since that time though it had not seen its feeders.
With the rest of the town already explored, the party at last moved to the stockade and blockhouse where they had observed a spriggan cooking a side of beef earlier. When the party entered the stockade, the lone spriggan transformed into its large version as it shouted a warning. As the party began to move into the stockade, three more spriggans appeared, also large in size. Bernard rushed up toward the nearest spriggan with Baron Vlad Black by his side astride his giant cat. The cat immediately tore into one of the spriggans as Vlad moved onto the next and Bernard fought with a third. The spriggans, though fearsome in size, proved to be no trouble for the party and soon three were unconscious while the fourth was dead.
When the party moved to the door of the blockhouse, they found it to be barrred with a single spriggan on the other side. They attempted to negotiate with the spriggan to get it to come outside but it said that "a guy" would not allow him to. The spriggan did say though that the town was abandoned when they got there. At last the party was able to get one of the defeated spriggans to go into the blockhouse to negotiate with their leader. They soon were told that Cice and Joseph could go into the blockhouse to inspect it and talk to the chief. Cice found the chief, named Agai, and was able to talk to him. He again reiterated that the town was abandoned when they got there and that they had only been there a week. The party's previous inspections showed that the town appeared to have been abandoned for at least a month. After much back and forth, Cice and Joseph were allowed to search the blockhouse and the two sides eventually agreed to not disturb each other. The party promised to leave as they continued their search for the missing townspeople and they agreed not to bother the spriggans. With that, the party decided to rest for the night before heading out to the east to seek the Nomen Centaurs.