Hollow's Last Hope

A Harrowing Memory

S piders. Kieyanna shivered as she walked, lost in thought, though she did hope neither of her companions had noticed. She HATED spiders, and already there had been two encounters in her time adventuring with Zandu and Dhohar. First there was the huge spider in the tower outside of the Dwarven monastery…and now the rather large (but not as large as the first) spider and all of its evil spawn at the ruins of the halfway house. She shuddered again.

When she’d gotten the report that there were hundreds of spider babies pouring out of the dead body in the basement, she’d forced herself to at least try to go down and help her companions. She’d made it only most of the way down the ladder before being paralyzed with fear and memories. Thankfully her companions decided a retreat was in order so she was able to rush up the stairs and escape the situation. She was so glad Zandu had brought oil with him and they were able to burn the little evil beings to nothing.

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Musings and the Hook

Typical tavern

Dhohar was enjoying the quiet evening with Kieyanna and Zandu. They seemed like-minded individuals and Dhohar found Kieyanna’s recounting of Ralla’s story to be especially interesting. He’d heard some things regarding Kabran but the specifics –they turned his stomach in away that meant he’d be facing that particular man soon – and he intended to smash him like a force of nature.

In the middle of this conversation and (a fine dinner of ham and potatoes) a loud interruption – the door blasted open and one of the town criers, a man that worked for the Gavel, burst into the Inn. He seemed somewhat calm for the news that followed; a simple declaration that the Gavel’s son was missing and there was a 50 gold piece bounty to find him and bring him back safely. The Inn burst into a flurry of motion, commotion and chatter. Dhohar turned back to Kieyanna and Zandu and ambled into a discussion of what they thought about the announcement. He showed them the ioun torch and explained his agreement with Shavaros to find his son. He relayed what he knew of the group of kids that formed around Kimi Eaveswalker and their various exploits, both the good and the bad reports. After they chatted for a bit more the group decided to split and learn what the good of the children – it seemed Dhohar would have his newfound companions along for the investigation.

He was glad of this as they seemed to be highly capable individuals each able to fend for themselves and they seemed to be of the same mind regarding the various unsavory types around Falcon’s Rest. Zandu’s Varisian background was of interest to Dhohar who had little interaction with the nomadic people. While Zandu did have the scarf and costume of the people he didn’t seem particularly inclined towards dancing, singing or musical instruments. From the stories Dhohar had heard as a growing up, the Varisian nomads loved music and dance would find every occasion to partake in both. Perhaps like many other stories he’d heard they were wrong or prejudiced against them. Perhaps they were stereotypical in the normal way. Amidst the excitement and the desire to find out about the children and what would happen next, Zandu realized that many of these people likely held similar views of him and other elves. Certainly the local weaver/seamstress was viewed somewhat differently and he’d heard little in the way of regular elven interactions. He supposed that most people likely saw his elven heritage in his features but figured him for a human – the exact opposite of how Dhohar saw himself. With that reversal in thought he decided to ask around the Inn for others’ thoughts regarding the children and then figured he’d head to bed early to get some good rest. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

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Mess Hall

Weakened from the Stirge, Zandu, sat down on the bed. He let his mind replay over the day. It was getting to be late; he felt it in his bones. Or perhaps that was just fatigue. He tried to caculate how long they had been down here. It was just mid-day when they had entered the monastery. There were the kobolds, the grick, dire rats, the Ooze, shocker lizards, and then these stirges. His stomach rumbled reminding him that it had been a while since he last ate. Not since morning.

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First Encounters

Kieyanna and Dhohar crept down the overgrown stairs to the edge of the light. Having left her torch above and Dhohar having put away his Ioun stone they were well hidden in the darkness. Each could easily distinguish the difference between the armed and armored Kobold warriors and the skinny slaves wearing nothing who labored at the base of a destroyed obsidian obelisk. Dhohar readied his spear as Kieyanna drew back her longbow. At a silent signal they both unleashed their attack.

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Walking, Zandu's Ambitions

Zandu passed the hours of walking in the dense Darkwood Forest by chatting with Kieyanna and Dhohar. Jeva led the way where they could all clearly see her and watch if she tried to turn on them. Jeva was guiding them along game trails through the dark forest. Barely any light passed through the high canopy creating a sense of dark and danger. Zandu had been traveling with Kieyanna for nearly two weeks and had just met Dhohar four days earlier. They had become something of what Zandu considered friends. They spent a while walking and talking. Dhohar started by asking about Zandu about why he was traveling. Zandu thought it over a minute before answering.

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Kieyanna's Journal: The Adventure Begins

When Kieyanna heard about the missing children, her heart leapt into her throat. One of the missing children was her new friend Ralla’s brother. He was the reason she stayed compliant and kept working at the den of iniquity in town. Kieyanna knew well the terror and horror of hearing that a loved one was missing, and wanted to do everything in her power to help.

Dhohar had mentioned that his bear, Rumble, could track smells, so Kieyanna ventured down yet again to The Rogue Lady. She was less than pleasant this time when requesting entry to see Ralla. She had her sword strapped to her back and made sure to snap at the men who’d mentally undressed her during her last visit. She found Ralla in the back in her large, lavish dressing room (furnished by Kabran Bloodeye), in a heap on the floor. Ralla was laying very still, quietly sobbing into a pillow.

Kieyanna softly called her name and bent down to check on her new friend. Ralla startled when Kieyanna touched her, but looked relieved to see a friendly face at this time of tumult. She grabbed Kieyanna in a huge hug and held on like her life depended on it. “I hoped he was just out late last night with friends…I never thought he’d go out and try to spend the night up at the ruins of the halfway house!” Kieyanna spoke in soothing tones and assured her friend that she and her companions were taking on the case. Ralla looked hopeful after learning this—after all, Kieyanna, Zandu, and Dhohar had gathered the supplies necessary to find a cure for the sickness that had killed many in town. They had survived trials in doing so, and surely they could find the missing children.

Ralla gave Kieyanna one of her brother’s shirts when Kieyanna explained that they could use the scent to track the kids. Kieyanna felt a need to share the story of her mother, which she had not done since the incident occurred. She told her tale in a halting voice, tears streaming down her face. As she related the frantic search for her mother, she was overcome with emotion and Ralla took her hand to help give strength and show her support. Kieyanna appreciated this very much and was able to make it through most of her tale—but she thought better of telling the true ending and instead lied and said that she and her father had found her mother in time. She choked up telling the lie, but knew that Ralla wouldn’t be able to handle the truth at the moment. She needed hope, and Kieyanna was here to give it to her. Kieyanna gave Ralla one last hug and promised to return as soon as possible with her brother.

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Getting Started

The morning came early. Zandu had spent most the night tossing and turning, not his normal routine. He was preoccupied. His mind kept going back to the news of the missing children. Five of them. So young…only ages ten to fourteen. What had possessed them to leave town? He thought back to his childhood in Promise. It seemed so long ago now. His life had been privileged compared to most of the children of the Inner Sea. He was attending school and learning history and had been bred to believe he was better than the rest of the world, as he was. But he had come to realize in the last year of traveling that there were many remarkable people in the world and from every country.

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On the Trail

The party decided to take Jeva, the sole survivor of the fire at Elara’s Halfway House. Her story self survival in the wilderness and self inflicted isolation to help her control her afliction struck a cord with Zandu. Neither Kieyanna nor Dhohar could come up with any better idea of solving the problem she presented. They did not have the resolve to kill her while she was no threat. So the party bound her wrists and had her lead them to the ruins where the Kobolds lived.

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Jeva Encounter
A Wolf in Girl's Clothing

The warewolf retaliated from the surprise attack and quickly shifted from her girl-form into the feral beast-form. It had taken Zandu by surprise and he half stepped back giving the beast time to complete the change and retaliate. Zandu had not expected this…A deranged child, feral with living in the woods and hungering for food, yes, but a warewolf, no. He regained his composure and quickly began to grapple with the beast hoping to deny it the ability to tear him limb from limb with her sharp claws. The two grappled for a full 45 seconds before Dhohar and Kieyanna came running back to see what had been following them since entering the trees. Kieyanna quickly drew her silver dagger (tarnished with heat stains from the burning of the spiders) and threatened the beast with the dagger to the throat. This gave Zandu the opening he needed to pin the beast. Dhohar retrieved rope and securely tied the warewolf preventing her from making any further attacks at her pray. The ferocious snarls changed to an almost a child-like helpless whimper. It was a noise most discongruent to the feral look of the monstrous beast. Dhohar stood there with a hand out pointing directly at the creature. “Warewolf!” he said slightly shifting from foot to foot. I knew they would be here. Just like the stories!" He was more excited than he had ever been. His normally controlled demeanor was broken for a minute. (perhaps some rage was building)

JevaThe beast writhed and contorted under the restraints. She gave an inhuman wail and then her body reverted back to the little girl who had been following them through the woods. The rope on her hands and feet became lose and she pulled her hands up defensively and began to beg for her life. Jeva is a rail-thin, green-eyed girl of fourteen years, although she is particularly diminutive for her age. Her mouse-brown hair is a tangle of twigs and brambles and her face is smudged with dark stains. Her back, arms, and legs are covered with brutal scars. She pleaded with the adventurers in elven.

“Please don’t hurt me. I was merely surprised by his attack on me.” Her eyes dart over to Zandu who is looking bewildered at her foreign form of language. "I have been living out here all alone ever since the Halfway House burned down. I am hungry. Do you have any food?"

The confused look from Zandu was enough to prompt his companions into translating. “Hungry, humph. Hungry for our blood aren’t you girl.” Zandu asked her in the common tongue. But never one to judge too quickly, he withdrew some dry rations and handed them to her. “I hope for our sake this sates your hunger.” the girl immediately began eating thankfully. She lets out a sigh of relief after finishing the bit of food. “I haven’t eaten in days.” She said. Ever since I went to the orphanage where Elara turned us into these beasts. I can barely control it sometimes. She was crying now.

“What is your name, child?” asked Zandu.

"I’m Jeva. I lived in Falcon’s Hollow with my parents. They were potters in town. One day we went for a picnic and were attacked by bandits." The memory has made the tears stream freely from her face and she uses her hands to wipe them away. “Both my parents protected me and we made it back to the outreaches of town before they could go no further. The look on my mother’s face was so peaceful as she looked at me and I brushed her hair.” She sniffled and was quiet for a minute. Her eyes darkened as she shifted to a new thought. “Afterwards I went to that horrible place….The halfway house. Matron Elara was so sweet and kind to me at first. But the others knew what it was. She was a warewolf and was using the orphanage as a cover to make a whole pack of warewolves. I didn’t want to do it.” She rubs the scars on her legs and arms. "She didn’t like it very much. She didn’t make it easy. She kept me in chains for months and came only to cut on me. Then she caused me to change into…that. That thing that comes from within me and I can only just control it enough. That was when the fire happened. One of the other children decided he’d had enough of Elara’s mistreatment and set fire killing everyone. I was able to get out only because she was torturing another boy. I have been living out here because I don’t trust myself to go back to Falcon’s Hollow….Perhaps it would be better if you were to kill me now." She collapsed into sobs with her hands over her face.

Zandu offered a word of encouragement. He believed her story held mostly truth but perhaps she was stretching some of the details. But after the trauma she had experienced it was obvious that she had to change the truth to fit her own sense of morality. Even as a creature of evil power she sees herself as doing the right thing to maintain her humanity. She had to have been living like this for at least 4 months….since the Halfway House burned down. That was a testament to this girl’s sense of survival.

When asked about the missing children Jeva recounts how she was out hunting the kobolds waiting to find one straggler when they came and attacked and took all five children back to their lair. It was beneath an old ruined monastery at the base of the mountain.

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Lost Children

Title zandu, Kieyanna, and Dhohar were enjoying a dinner at Jak’a’Napes talking about the roughness of the town. Dhohar raised the question, Has anyone run into the half-orc named Kabran Bloodeye? I overheard some woodcutters saying that he runs a particularly rough ilicit brothel. I was horified to hear this. He may be worse than Kreed.

Zandu who had spent most of his time researching the religious artifiacts found in what they now knew was Droskar’s Crucible had not had the time to hear about Kabran.

Just as the discussion was warming up to who was the most vile creature in the civilized town of Falcon’s Hollow the door to the Inn burst open and a man dressed in the soldiers’ gear of the Consortium demanded everyone’s attention. He began in a deep voice that carried over the clatter from the kitchen, “The Gavel has offered a 50gp reward to whomever returns his son. There is no more information.” With that he turned around and left as quickly as he had come. The room errupted with a flutter of excitement as travelers and woodcutters exchanged information on what what happening.

After spending an hour talking to locals you learn about the five missing children from the town. Everyone is eager to share the gossip they know about the children and their parents. Its seems the kids had made a kind of gang and often went off exploring around town and even beyond the walls. But this time they have not been seen since yesterday morning.

Children

Kimi Eavewalker: Daughter of the famed elven ranger Idris and a beautiful seamstress named Kitani, Kimi has not seen her father in two years. The ranger is constantly away adventuring and tracking down relics for a mysterious patron. Kimi idolizes her dad and has grown into a fearless tomboy chomping at the bit to follow in her father’s adventurous footsteps as soon as she is old enough to wield a sword. Kimi is the protector of this band of friends, often scrapping with boys twice her age who try to bully the others. She usually wins these bouts, and many of the town’s children are afraid of her.

Hollin Hebbradan: Hollin is a freckly faced ten-year-old boy missing his two front teeth (from a bad spill off the waterwheel at the old mill). Hollin’s mother died in childbirth and his father was savaged by an owlbear two years ago. Now Hollin’s older sister, a beautiful young red-haired woman named Ralla, looks after him. The two have struggled to make ends meet and rumor has it Ralla works in one of the pleasure dens on Mud Street to keep food on the table. Hollin is a skilled woodcarver and he manages to earn a few copper pieces hawking his statuettes. The boy’s only aspiration is to grow up faster and work the cutyards so his sister won’t have to set foot in a brothel ever again.

Mikra Jabbs: The thirteen-year-old son of the town butcher, Colbrin Jabbs, Mikra’s difficult birth resulted in several mental deficiencies. He cannot read, is easily confused, and believes almost everything he is told. Mikra is well liked by everyone. While not incredibly bright, the boy possesses limitless kindness and his bright smile wins the hearts of almost anyone who meets him. Though the oldest of the bunch, Mikra is looked after by the others.

Jurin Kreed: Son of the wealthiest, most powerful, and evilest man in Falcon’s Hollow, Jurin Kreed is a boy of eleven torn between his family and friends. In public, Jurin behaves insufferably, snarling at the other children and threatening to have his dad’s bodyguards beat them if they don’t do everything he says. People wonder why the other children don’t simply avoid the spoiled bully, but Colbrin Jabbs knows the boy has a good heart deep down, and in private would do anything to help his friends. Jurin spends many hours at the Jabbs’s house reading to his son Mikra in the afternoons.

Savram Vade: Son of the mysterious wizard Sharvaros, Savram is a quiet, withdrawn nine-year-old boy, whose bright eyes betray intelligence far beyond his years. When he is old enough he will no doubt follow his father into the cryptic life of a wizard.

Zandu thought about what the Justicar had said earlier that day. How this town needed good people. Even Kreed, with his corrupt ways was offering a gold reward. 3 years worth of wages for a woodcutter. But he did not appeal to the hearts of anyone. Just the physical reward. Perhaps he does not think there are any good people would do it out of the goodness and need of finding lost children. Maybe there aren’t any people like that here.

While talking to Kieyanna, Ralla Hebbrandan had mentioned that her brother didn’t come home last night. She was hoping they were off playing adventures somewhere and getting a good dinner. Now to know the kids are missing will devistate Ralla. She lived for her brother.

No one from the Inn made any indication they were going to search for the lost children. Had they been in the The Sitting Duck the story would have been all too different. At the proclomation of the reward the entirety of the tavern full of mercenaries and adventurous scum, to include the proprietor, Nef, would have announced they were headed out immediately to drag the wayword child back to his father…dead or alive.


Thuldrin Kreed has half his hired guards out scouring for his missing son. Woodcutters are frustrated that the self-centered man has pulled their security off and cares nothing for the other children.

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