Date: 7/3-5/1479 DR
The adventurers talk to a few more people around town, gathering as much information and quests as they can, before heading off to scout out Gardmore Abbey
After speaking with Farmer Eilian about the history of Gardmore Abbey, the adventurers returned to Talar to speak with some other people that Lord Padraig had recommended to them. First they met with Delphina Moongem, the elf who sold flowers to Fallon in the market. The sorceress asked Delphina what she knew of the ruins? Delphina explained that she got many of her exotic flowers from the south side of the ruins, where there was a strong Feywild influence. As the group asked more questions she explained that the orcs definitely seemed to be living in the Abbey ruins, but that they didn’t often patrol to the south, maybe due to the wild beasts living there. She also explained: A few months ago I welcomed travelers from our distant kin in the Feywild-an eladrin knight named Berrian Velfarren, his sister Analastra, and a small entourage. They had been traveling for seven years in search of their father. I fed them and sent them on their way with blessings. Just a few days ago I received a message from a friend in their home city of Mithrendain asking if I had any news of their whereabouts. Berrian mentioned Gardmore Abbey. Please, as you travel in the Rethild Vale, send me word if you encounter Berrian and Analastra. And tell them they are missed. The group agreed to keep their eyes open while searching around the ruins.
Next the group went to the Mottled Tower. When they knocked, they were met by Serten, the portly apprentice of Falrinth. Huffing and puffing he led them up through the floors of the tower until they reached his master’s study on the third floor. Once they had explained their reasons for visiting, the sage went and pulled an old book off one of his many shelves and thumbed through it. Besides what they had already learned from farmer Eilian, he also told them more about the Abbey. “Unknown to most outside the inner cloister, the hill on which the abbey stands conceals the ancient ruins of a grand temple built by minotaurs centuries earlier. This Golden Temple was an outpost or colony from the mighty city of Saruun Khel, dedicated to the glory of Bahamut, Gond, Tempus, Moradin, and Amaunator. The known abbey was built atop these ruins and they were used for storage or interment. Many scholars have postulated that the fall of the knights might have been due to these ruins… but as for myself, I wonder if the knights didn’t bring something back from one of their crusades that might have unleashed the undead during that fateful battle?”
As they were further discussing the lore of Gardmore Abbey, Falrinth admitted that he is fascinated by ancient lore and dared to ask them if, while searching the ruins, they could keep their eyes open for the wizard’s tower that was supposed to be there. If this tower exists, then so does a book of ancient power and history, bound in white dragon scales, called the Winterbole Codex. He asked the group if they would mind bringing this book back to him. He admitted that he wasn’t very rich, but he would help them with anything he could.
Lia Moonwing admitted that they would very much like his help in figuring out a mystery of their own. While they had been dealing with the rogue gnolls in the forest, they had found a mysterious card with the picture of a Rogue on it. When she handed it to him, he confirmed that this was full of magic, but also part of a larger whole. He didn't know anything about the larger whole, but with a little experimentation, he discovered that the card had powers of it's own. He let them know that he would continue to research this card for them as well.
Once this was all done, the group collected their horses and left the village to scout out Gardmore Abbey. They rode along the King’s road for two days, arriving about midday. The abbey grounds cover most of a hillside in the middle of the downs. The overgrown path that leads from the King’s Road ends in a gate flanked by squat, square towers. To either side of the gate stretches a curtain wall showing signs of its age, supported by occasional towers and buttresses. Above the wall, a caved-in temple yet stands proudly on the hilltop. South of the gate, the abbey’s outer wall is draped with ivy, and the canopy of a thick forest is visible beyond. A tall watchtower stands at the south end of the hill, marking the end of the curtain wall. This wall extends halfway around the hill, and nature has taken care of the rest. The hillside is so steep on the west and south sides that a military assault would be impossible, though a smaller force might be able to scale it.
Following Delphina’s advice they approached the abbey from the south. The entire hillside,from the lip of the temple plateau to the outer wall, is covered in a thick, riotous tanale of trees, bushes, vines, and ferns. The wood seems ancient, undisturbed by the presence of humans and dwarves since the dawn of time, though the abbey wall hems it in and has checked its spread. Closer examination reveals that the forest’s seeminaly pristine state is an illusion. At the northern end of the wood, rotting trellises and moss-covered paths suggest that this wild grove
was once a cultivated garden. From a higher vantage point, the remains of other structures are visible amid the trees, though they seem in danger of submerging beneath the vibrant green sea. A bell tower lifts its head above the canopy a short distance down the slope from the temple. The remains of a small cottage lie near the outer wall toward the northern edge of the grove. And a small stone building-a shrine or tomb, perhaps-stands in a small clearing near the south end of the forest. At its southern extreme, where the outer wall meets the steep cliff of the hillside,
a lone watchtower rises above the trees. Everywhere among the greenery, the forest teems with life. Squirrels and birds chatter and chirp in the branches, bees drift amid blossoms, and the tracks of larger creatures crisscross the wood. Clouds of flies swarm in the air, and iridescent butterflies float on the gentle breezes.
While Ryunosuke Blackblood and Lia keep watch on the surrounding areas, Fallon turns into a bird so that she can fly over the abbey. Elowen ventures into the overgrowth, trying to determine if this could be a safe way into the abbey. As she passes the Watchtower an overwhelming sense of “wrongness” seems to emanate from it, so she steers clear of it. Inside the “garden” she finds tracks of displacer beasts and owlbears. Within a short while, Fallon returns to report what she scouted. She had a general lay of the abbey and the town beneath it. At a rough estimate, 150 humanoids inhabit the village: mostly orcs with associated human, half-ore, and hobgoblin mercenaries. A handful of ogres, hill giants, and dire wolves support them. The orcs and other creatures are scattered throughout the village, with the highest concentration in the lower tier. They’re clustered into sixteen camps, with eight to ten orcs at each site. The only fortified positions are the main gate and the chieftain’s keep. She also saw a tower which might be what Falrinth wanted them to look for. On her way back to the others, Fallon notices that there is a Fey encampment around a fountain half way up the side of the forested hill. With this much info, the group felt they had enough to report to Lord Pedraig.