Mysteries of the Nentir Vale

On to Thunderspire!

From the rumors they gathered in town they had heard that beneath the stormy peak of Thunderspire Mountain lies the Labyrinth, an ancient, ruined minotaur city. For over two decades, an order of wizards called the Mages of Saruun has controlled the Labyrinth’s upper levels,creating a relatively safe haven called the Seven-Pillared Hall. Here, underground denizens come to trade with the mages and with a small number of surface-dwellers who are in the know. Humans, halflings, dwarves, duergar, goblins, orcs, troglodytes, and others come to the hall to barter under the watchful eyes of the Mages of Saruun and their towering minotaur constructs. The mages have one rule in the Seven-Pillared Hall—maintain order. Visitors who leave the safety of the hall and venture into the Labyrinth do so at their own risk. For in the darkness of the Labyrinth, all bets are off and the truce enforced within the Hall has no bearing.

Thunderspire Mountain lies amid a wilderness of pine forests and rocky hills. The mountain’s pinnacle is usually wreathed in gray, foreboding clouds, but on rare clear days, it can be seen from a great distance.
The Trade Road, an old dwarf-made highway, passes near the mountain. It links the human town of Fallcrest
(about a two-day journey west of the mountain on foot) with the dwarf stronghold of Hammerfast (three days
east of the mountain by foot). In years past, travelers and caravans hurried past Thunderspire to avoid attacks from monsters lurking in the ruined minotaur city. Today, this part of the Trade Road is reasonably safe thanks to the presence of the Mages of Saruun. From the Trade Road, a steep cobbled path called the
Vale Road turns north and then cuts into the mountain. The road rises through a valley with sparse vegetation and ends at Thunderspire’s base. Small waterfalls and brooks wash down from the rocks above. A few shepherds, woodcutters, and trappers live in the vale. Their humble houses are made of turf and fieldstone and are fitted with stout doors to repel predators, including bears, wyverns, and griffons. The ruins of Saruun Khel beyond the Seven-Pillared Hall are collectively called the Labyrinth. The ancient minotaur city consisted of a vast maze of natural caverns, gaping chasms, hewn chambers, steep stairs, and twisting passageways. Most of these features remain to this day. The Seven-Pillared Hall and its adjoining chambers form a small part of Saruun Khel. Much of the Labyrinth remains dangerous and unexplored.

Traversing up the Khel Vale which consists of many switch-backs and ledges the widest part is crossed via a 100 ft. rickety rope and plank bridge. It was here that the group found the bridge to be trapped thanks to the keen eyed druid who was not distracted by the fanciful and fully entertaining Halfling. Not to be slowed by a simple delay such as this the bull-headed minotaur plodded on ahead – charging up and over the makeshift pitfall with such grace and agility one wonders what could stand in the way of this monster?

Patrolling the valley 2 wyverns saw an easy snack in the party and swooped in to feast. As the minotaur summoned fire and ice down on one of the dragon like beasts on one side of the valley the rest of the group attempted to hide from his mate on the far side to little avail. Seeing that his associates were not proficient in the fine are of skullduggery Finn bounded from his hidden location onto the wyvern’s back! His surprised comrades, in fear for the tomfool Halfling’s life, threw ropes secured to trees and reeled the flying drake back from over the valley’s edge like a prize fish. Seeing the creature up close and it’s pristine primal beauty the group decided to let the wyvern go and continued on their way up the mountain.

The Vale Road mets the Minotaur Gate about 4 miles from the Trade Road. This was the grand entrance to Saruun Khel. The road enters a 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn out of the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at the travelers.

Beyond the Minotaur Gate, the Road of Lanterns slopes into the mountain. Green light from copper lanterns dimly illuminates the road, which leads about half a mile into the mountain, sloping steadily downward over several switchbacks. The road is a brick-vaulted passage, 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall at its apex. Seventy-seven demon statues, each over 10 feet tall, stand watch along the corridor’s length.

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Raid on Fallcrest

So this bizarre band of heroes consisting of an irresponsible Halfling rogue, a reluctant Paladin of Kord, an eladrin lush seeking revenge, an orphaned half-elf druid raised by bears and a minotaur sorcerer from the Underdark rose up to defend Fallcrest against a vast raid from minions of Demogorgon. They were able to thwart an assault upon the Grand Septarch’s Tower in which a twisted Underdark apprentice of Saruun in control of a Bronze Warder attempted to stop Nimozaran and his Halfling apprentice from completing a ritual on the teleportation circle at the pinnacle of the tower.
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The town was lucky to have wanderers such as these to jump to her aid in such a dire moment… or was it fate? Certainly Kord and Corellon were cognizant to such bravado and valor! What were the gods playing at? Why did Demogorgon’s gaze fall upon Fallcrest? What lays in the depths of Thunderstone Mountain plotting against the Nentir Vale?

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New Threats

There has been a great upheaval in the Nentir Vale come of late. There has been a rustling in the surrounding mountains. The dwarven tribes are restless. Vital trade routes into the Stonefang pass newly named the Black Phoenix pass have been reestablished. But this has caused a backlash; as the dwarves in Hammerfast have had exclusivity in trading ironwork in the Nentir Vale and now have new competition from the West.

Peels of lightning and thunder have been heard down in the valley below the infamous Thunderspire Mountain. Rumor has it that a great battle is imminent deep below in the ancient labyrinth of Saruul Khan and the Mages of Suruun that have run the Seven Pillar Hall with an iron fist are now caught in the middle. Black Fang Gnolls of the Moon hills have taken up the sword and tales of attacks on the Trade Road have become more and more common place.

It has been told that a minotaur ambassador has been sent to Fallcrest on behalf of the Mages of Saruun. But death follows on his heals as the town is thrown into a pitched battle with pirates, raging barbarians and blood lusting demons.

What has happened to the Illustrious Black Phoenix whose exploits include opening up the Stonefang pass and driving back gnoll raiding parties on the Trade Roads? A new set of unlikely adventurers rise from a Lowtown bar in Fallcrest – do they have what it takes to persevere? Fallcrest’s survival lays in their hands, will they be able to save the Nentir Vale from these new threats?

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A thick fog

The year is 1482DR the year of the ageless one in the era of upheaval. It is the start of the month Readying in Fallcrest in which the fields are finally fully thawed and the farmers are beginning to plow and seed. Porters are finishing up for the night and the night watch are lighting the few oil street lamps on the Five Arch Bridge and main thoroughfares. There is no moon and a thick fog descends upon the town and settles thickly in Lowtown. Halfling workers and farmers converge to the relative comfort of the Lucky Gnome Taphouse inside they find a bizarre collection of adventurers.

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