Final Session – Farewell to the Vale

Thanks to Joseph for writing most of this final farewell to our 4th edition campaign in the Nentir Vale. A great recap of the finale I was DM for.

Trade Ward, Hammerfast

The sounds of battle were almost deafening, as Naivara and Leoric landed. The crackle of fire, and the clashing of steel rang out through the smoke and rubble of the city. Before they landed, Naivara saw countless city guards doing battle with Orcs, Ogres and Humans. Thar had landed before them, they were hot on his heels.

Naivara looked over to Helgrund, who was fighting the female rider from before. Leoric dismounted his griffon, Naivara soon landed and quickly followed. She saw Leoric stab the female rider, who had been blinded. Naivara conjured thick fire, reducing the woman to a pile of ash. From behind the woman, Calastryx entered her vision. Naivara heard her griffon take to the skies behind her. No going back now. She thought.

Out the corner of her eye, she saw Leoric fighting Thar. Turning back to Calastryx, and acting quickly, she escaped Calastryx’s jaws just before they bit down, using magic. “That was too close.” Naivara muttered. She held the Wormspike up, finding resolve in carrying a weapon suited for the task at hand.

Tapping into her power, Naivara hurled a bolt of lightning at Calastryx. The bolt missed, but she heard one of it’s sparks tag Thar behind her.

The thin layer of smoke that had settled over this stretch of road made it hard to see. Hard to breathe, even. Naivara heard a shout from behind her, Thar presumably, “ARE YOU READY TO WATCH YOUR CITY BURN?”. Naivara wanted to turn around and blast him for that statement, but she focused her attention on the dragon in front of her.

The battle roared around her, Naivara thought she heard Helgrund cry out in pain, but didn’t check. She heard the same voice as before shout again, “WATCH MY PET EAT YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS!”, Thar was probably fighting Helgrund, she thought. One of Calastryx’s heads turned around and snapped at Leoric, Naivara saw him hit the ground with a sickening crack. More shouting, Naivara heard the muffled sounds of combat. Naivara’s vision was narrowing, adrenaline was flooding her system. Calastryx lumbered over Leoric, stepping near her. One of its heads reared back, ready to bite.

Need to move, gotta move, can’t teleport again, I need to be qui-

Naivara’s thoughts were cut short by Calastryx sinking one set of teeth into her. A white flash of pain dazed Naivara. Before she knew what was happening, she was hurled into a nearby wall. She felt the impact, felt many bones break in her back.

When she hit the ground, her vision started to get dark, blurred. She saw a large red shape moving. Naivara blinked, and her vision was clear again. Calastryx had some guards-woman in it’s jaws, it hurled her across the street toward Mialee. Her vision blurred once more, she summoned the last of her strength and held up the Wormspike. An acidic arrow burst forth from the staff. It hit the large red shape. Blinking again, Naivara saw some of the acid splash onto Thar. Thar turned to her. She was surprised someone wearing such heavy armor could move so quickly, as he charged at her.

An arrow flew by his head, just before he swung. Must be Mialee’s. She thought. Thar’s swing sent her reeling back off her feet again. She slumped against the wall. Calastryx stomped over.

Oh gods no.

Naivara tried to muster up the strength to move, to dodge the bite… The adrenaline was gone, she couldn’t stand. Couldn’t move. One of the many heads of Calastryx opened it’s maw. Naivara saw the teeth closing in.

There was a brief flash of white hot pain, blinding her vision as the jaws closed, then blackness.

Somewhere else…

When she came to her senses, Naivara was in a grand library. Shelves, full of anything she could want to know, and more, were stacked to the ceiling, which extended higher than the eye could see. She ran a hand along a row of books. Her hand stopped on a book with no title, and she pulled it out. The book was a dark chestnut shade of red, and though it’s spine bore no title, it’s sides were adorned with the unmistakable symbol of Ioun. Naivara began flipping through its pages.

“That is a good book.” an unfamiliar voice spoke in a measured manner. Naivara turned around, she didn’t recognize the man standing before her.

A somewhat portly fellow, he wore a shimmering golden robe. On the front of the robe, she saw Pelor’s holy symbol stitched into the fabric, on the shoulders, Bahamut’s shield and Avandra’s symbol. “But it isn’t too late to give this one a read.” The man continued with a smile, holding up a book bearing Pelor’s holy sun.

Naivara looked at him, then said, “Who are you?” “Who I am, isn’t important right now, you wouldn’t know me anyway.” he said. The library started to glow slightly, and the far edges of Naivara’s vision began to blur at the light. Naivara glanced around, and asked, “What in the world is happening?””You’re passing on, going to a better place.” the man said, warmly. As the light grew almost blinding, the man continued, “I’ve no time to elaborate, but we need to go now.”

For a moment, Naivara felt a shock, death’s grasp. The next instant, the last neurons in her brain fired one final time.

She was dead.

A better place?

The light faded, and Naivara found herself standing in front of a large silver table. It shimmered, in a warm light that didn’t seem to have a source.

Naivara took in her surroundings, it was a large room, it seemed well lived, though she didn’t see a door. Across the table, past the seven chairs surrounding it, Naivara saw Mialee. She seemed just as surprised as Naivara was to be here, Naivara called out “Where are we?!”

“I’m not quite sure, but… Well I’m just glad we’re here and not somewhere else…” Mialee replied, sounding relieved. Before Naivara could ask more questions, there was a flash of golden radiant light. The man from before appeared alongside Lo-Kag, who had a mug of ale in his hand. Lo-Kag glanced around, then stated in his booming voice, “Sure is a nice place, Arthur.” Arthur smiled, “Aye, I like to think so.”

“I knew you seemed familiar before…” Mialee spoke.

Arthur shifted his weight, and spoke warmly, “Indeed, we’ve met before. Now, I’m sure you all have many questions, and I hope I can give you answers.”

Arthur gestured toward the chairs, then continued, “Please my friends, sit. There is so much you need to know…”

The four of them sat down at the table….

Two days earlier

Near the Iron Road, North of Hammerfast

Since arriving in Hammerfast, Oh-Koo had taken up traveling with Hammerfast’s famous Daris the Paladin and his three companions Bruenar, Merisal and Ezren. The dark haired human Daris, always had an intense look on his face and spent most of the time grumbling about where Thar was hiding. Bruenar, a red haired dwarven warrior, grumbled too, but mostly about being so far from Hammerfast’s excellent taphouses. Merisal, a tall, thin elf with white hair, had plenty of daggers and seemed to really enjoy killing anything they encountered. Ezren, an older human wizard with long white hair and blue robes, seemed to conjure up a lot of large fireballs and always had a story to share with Oh-Koo.

Oh-Koo was starting to wonder if staying with the Silver Six might have been a better choice. Traveling through the wilderness north of Hammerfast, killing bandits and ogres, was not the epic adventure that Oh-Koo had hoped for. Plus, this group was not interested in hearing any of her songs.

On yet another routine patrol, Daris yelled back at Oh-Koo and the wizard Ezren to “Run now!” as he, Bruenar and Merisal were suddenly fighting a large group of orcs, humans and dragonborn about 100 feet ahead of the two of them. Ezren ran in with a growing fireball on his hand, but Oh-Koo listened to Daris and ran with tears streaming down her face into the woods. Oh-Koo ran and ran until her legs gave out – falling face first.

When Oh-Koo woke up, it was dark and her chin was covered in congealed blood and pine needles. Lost and alone in the woods, Oh-Koo found a way to survive. In a few days, she made it back to Hammerfast, only to find the city in ruins.

Oh-Koo quickly made her way into the city, learning of the destruction caused by Thar, his dragon and his army – before being defeated by the Silver Six and Helgrund the cleric. She now understood exactly why Daris was so serious and desperate to find Thar.

The day after the battle

Lore Ward, Hammerfast

Finishing his speech, Gardain,┬áthe new High Master motioned to Helgrund, who pulled a lever. The three coffins receded into the floor. Besides Helgrund and the other surviving heroes, there weren’t many people here. It was a short ceremony, as there was so much to do today, more time couldn’t be spared. They were both thankful to be able to do something for these three who had made the greatest sacrifice in defense of the city. The heroes time to be immortalized in stone and song would come, but now was time to focus on the survivors.

Though Hammerfast might be a necropolis, Gardain thought, it is truly a shame that it is seeing so much use, in such a short time frame. As Gardain and Helgrund looked out the temple window, they both marveled in awe at the immense resolve their city possessed. Even now, just hours after the final enemy soldiers had been slain and the fires extinguished, reconstruction efforts were already well underway.

One month later

Harken Village

Nadarr, a powerful dragonborn dressed in ancient armor, was traveling alone down a country road. He was returning to Harken Village after delivering Arthur’s holy symbol to his father at a nearby farm. The man thanked him, both for bringing it back and being such a good friend to his son before he passed.

About a week ago, Nadarr had finally decided to make the journey to Harken, as his thoughts have been on all his friends he has lost, especially Arthur. Leoric and Ander had joined Nadarr as companions on the road for a couple of days, which was a welcome distraction until they went their separate ways. Ander was off to Fallcrest to see a girl and Leoric was heading north to find some witches (at least that is what he told them).

In his short time here, Nadarr noticed life in Harken appeared to be quite good these days, with trade moving freely all across the Vale and the Iron Circle bandits scattered. As he walked through the village, Nadarr decided to drop into the Silver Nail Taphouse, as he knew the tune being played quite well.

Nadarr quietly found a place to lean against the wall at the back of the very full tavern without any real notice from anyone. Looking over the crowd, he saw the half-elf, Oh-Koo, on a small raised stage holding a lyre. She now had a small scar on her chin, adding a little character to her otherwise flawless face. The crowd was completely mesmerized by the bard, as she finished the Ballad of the Silver Six to loud applause.

Oh-Koo looked at the crowd and asked them “Would you like to hear about what really happened up in Hammerfast?” and the crowd responds with loud cheers of all varieties of “Yes!”. Oh-Koo smiled and replied, “Well then I might as might start at the beginning…”.

A monster of a man, a dragonborn named Thar, was plotting to bring back an old evil. Calastryx, a dragon that had been locked away three hundred years ago. But five of our seven heroes, were quickly unraveling this plot and working against it. Nadarr Blackmoon, the cheerful paladin that knew no fear. Leoric, a master swordsman whom welded magic almost as skillfully as his blade. Naivara, a very skilled and powerful wizard, and eventual wielder of the Wormspike. Helgrund, a gruff, strong cleric of Moradin, that is just as good a fighter as he is a healer. And finally Mialee Gemflower, the beautiful huntress whose arrows would always hit their mark.The remaining two heroes, the death defying Ander Overhill, and mountain of a man Lo-Kag, were busy elsewhere, but that is a tale for another day.

Over the course of several days, our heroes learned of the staff used to seal away Calastryx 300 years ago, the Wormspike, and passed three trials for Pelor, Moradin and Ioun to acquire it.

During this time, the iron circle and an army of Orcs had begun invading the city of Hammerfast. Our heroes rode on griffon-back, to the Lair of Calastryx.

When they arrived, they were greeted by four heads snarling at them. Calastryx blasted at our heroes with four streams of violent fire.

The heroes, slightly worse for wear, pushed back. Arrows flew forth, blades met flesh, and magic, both divine and arcane, seared and tore at the dragon’s hide. Wounded, but not dead, the evil dragon fled its lair, flying toward the city. They chased after it, once again on the backs of griffons, as it flew toward Hammerfast.

As the sun set, three villains rose up from the smoke of the city, to stall our heroes. Carthain, a despicable bandit leader, who knew only greed and hate. Fliss, a barbarian who was almost as scary as the great axe she wielded. The final griffon rider, was of course Thar, the monster who started it all.

The huntress valiantly flew past the three villains, and managed to land a single strike on the fleeing dragon. Thar managed to stop her from pursuing further, and an epic battle began in the twilight sky. Magic crackled, blades clashed and griffons screeched among the clouds. After intense fighting, the powerful wizard Naivara sent Carthain plummeting to the ground. Seeing one of their rank leave a small crater, the villains retreated to the city, our heroes followed.

The villains landed first, but our heroes were seconds behind. The sounds of battle rang out through Hammerfast, as the city guard did its part in the fight against the Iron Circle. As our heroes landed, they regrouped with Ander Overhill and Lo-Kag. The dragon blasted at our heroes, its steady stream of fire killing one of the griffons.

The combined efforts of master swordsman Leoric, and powerful wizard Naivara, brought Fliss down easily. The deadly dragon Calastryx, killed several guardsman as the heroes closed in. Leoric locked blades with Thar for a moment, before Thar charged past him to attack Helgrund. The mastern swordsman focused on staying Calastryxs approach, and did a fine job of it.

The immense dragon was still able to force its way past him, to Naivara, however. One of the four heads hurled her across the street, into a wall.
She tapped into her inner strength, and launched a powerful acidic arrow into one set of its eyes. Thar, who was also caught in the acid splash, took a cheap swing at her, weakening the wizard for a moment.

“Taking advantage of Naivara’s weakened state, the evil Calastryx clamped down on her arm and ripped it off. A thankfully quick death, but still very grisly. Helgrund the strong cleric, called on the power of the gods and our heroes glowed in divine protection. Ander Overhill, Lo-Kag and Leoric took down an ogre, before rejoining the fight.”

Nadarr Blackmoon cut down several Iron Circle soldiers, and charged the dragon. Two strong swings left the dragon’s wings useless, it roared at the paladin. The dragon sunk its teeth into Nadarr, hurling him across the street. Caring deeply about the paladin, the beautiful huntress planted her feet, and fired her bow with the strength of the gods.

A brilliant icy stream, followed the arrow as it pierced right through the dragon’s hide, right next to its heart. Even when the area punctured by the arrow started to freeze and rot away, the dragon remained standing, though it wailed in agony. Two of its heads turned to the huntress, reacting to the blinding pain that was spreading throughout its body. Mialee fired another arrow, ice and ash followed in its wake. Another head turned toward her, and as she sunk another arrow deep into Calastryx, all four of its heads were staring at her.

“That was for almost killing my maybe-boyfriend, you bitch!” -Mialee Gemflower

Using all of his strength, the stout Lo-Kag delivered a mighty swing, cleaving through all four of the dragon’s necks. Gravely wounded, and very very angry, all four of the dragon’s heads blasted the two heroes with a blinding stream of fire. Charred, their bodies fell to the ground, and the dragon turned its attention to the surviving heroes. Leoric charged at Calastryx, his blade cutting through the dragon’s hide with the touch of winter.

Nadarr and Leoric locked blades with Thar, who landed a few blows of his own. Ander stabbed the dragon in the back of one of its necks, but his dagger didn’t meet its spine. Calastryx took a swipe at the little halfling, but using that luck halflings are known for, Overhill dodged the attack easily.An ogre joined the fight, but was quickly dealt with as Leoric slashed through it, and Calastryx, in one swing.

Calastryx attacked Nadarr again, who was fighting Thar, alongside Helgrund. Nadarr staggered backward, but did not fall. Thar ran Helgrund through with a sharp blade, but the cleric remained standing and kept his faith. The city guard, who were winning the fight with the Iron Circle, had broken through and began assisting the heroes. Drawing on the last of his strength, Nadarr, the paladin, took one final swing at the dragon. One of its heads fell limp to the ground.

The dragon spun around, and sunk its teeth into Leoric, who fell to the ground. Ander Overhill leapt onto Calastryxs back, and stabbed one of its necks again, this time, another head fell! Helgrund, launched a ray of light at the beast, causing another head to fall. With the last bit of resolve he had, Helgrund brought Nadarr back from the brink.

Nadarr and a brave guards-woman fought with Thar, but Calastryxs head reared up, and steam bellowed from its nostrils. It looked as if they were about to join the huntress and the mountain, but instead of fire, the dragon coughed up blood. It strained itself, gurgling and gasping for one last breath of air, before finally succumbing to the finest shot of the huntress’s life. Thar screamed, knowing his failure, and he took one last mighty swing at Nadarr. He cut deep, and Nadarr dropped to the ground.

To tell the truth, I only know it as a miracle, that the paladin survived this wound. A quick thrust of Leoric’s blade, and a stab of Ander’s dagger, and Thar was dead. The battle had been won. Though at great cost.

Nowadays, you can hardly tell any of this happened, as the city’s people were quick to rebuild. I assure you, however, that it is all true. The trade spire, which once stood tall, is no longer present within the city walls. More importantly, however, statues of all our heroes now stand vigil at Hammerfast’s gates, both east and west. That, my friends, is what really happened at Hammerfast a month ago.

As Oh-Koo’s long story ended, the quiet crowd slowly broke into loud applause. Oh-Koo finally noticed Nadarr at the back of the tavern and gave him a nod. Nadarr nodded back and decided it was time to leave. As the clapping and cheering started to quiet, Nadarr headed out the door and heard the start of an upbeat song about a paladin named Daris.

A couple of minutes later, Nadarr reached the edge of the small village. As he headed east on the King’s Road, Nadarr realized that he had a smile on his face for the first time in a long while.

THE END?

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Shawn Ellsworth

Shawn is an author and co-founder of Tribality.com. He first got into tabletop RPGs through ninjas and then by playing a Kender in Dragonlance. Years later, he can be found running games in the Nentir Vale and his own Seas of Vodari campaign setting.