Tales of The Elsir Vale

Nearing the end?
I will take what is behind curtain #1 . . .

Silence. Darkness. Both were welcome. Only a hint of oily smoke hung in the air. Krahn and Elan lifted their swords and the soft glow from Elan’s light spells made it so the group could see each other.

“I much prefer that to me being the torch,” joked Krahn. No one laughed. His nostrils were filled with the smell of smoke and he was not sure that his clothes were not still smoldering. His chainmail was still a bit warm to the touch.

The group huddled together in the rough cavern. They paid no attention to the shattered carapaces of the fire beetles they had stripped of glow organs. Lard’s tethered fire beetle seemed to pay them no mind either. Though injured, they were all still alive and that counted for something at least. They took some time to bandage their wounds and rest a bit before really speaking to each other and deciding to move on. The party was split on the benefits of going back through the area from where the fire beast had come or turn and explore the area beyond their current cavern. As usual, Lard just began walking. He chose the way of the fire beast.

Only a few smoldering pieces of broken wood were left at the far end of the passageway. Barely noticeable above the acrid smell of smoke, the group noticed the smell of animals . . . goats?

Sure enough, in the dim light of the glowing swords, the groups saw the red night time eyes of a large herd of goats, filling the cavern and blocking their path. The herd was quiet except the faint, occasional, halfhearted bleat as one billy jostled another. Krahn noted that it must be late in the night or early in the morning considering how much they had had to rest and bind their wounds.

The Dwarf, wasting no time, headed towards the far end of the cavern and wading through the herd. “There’s only one way left to go and it is straight through them,” he growled. The others followed and no one proceeded cautiously. The goats were none too pleased and soon the entire herd was snorting, bleating and raising a ruckus. Anything ahead of them would be forewarned . . .


The group eventually reached an immense chamber, at least 40 feet by 60 feet with a 20 feet high ceiling (at least that was Lard’s estimation – he may be a Ranger but was still a Dwarf). To the east lay a pile of furs and situated along the north wall was an unlit fire pit and a huge iron-bound chest, perhaps 10 feet long. To the west was a curtained-off area. The group spread out with Wapa, Elan and Lard arguing over who would open the chest. Silaqui and Morlar began poking at the furs while Krahn peeked at the empty fire pit on way over to the huge curtain.

As he started to peek around the edge of the curtain, the hairs on the back of Krahn’s neck stood up like toy soldiers. He would never be sure if it was a partial shadow, some soft sound of breathing or divine intervention, but he knew to duck and take a step back. As he did, the curtains came down around the spot in which he had stood just a fraction of a second before and a great roar of anger poured out from behind it. There, in all of his glory and with no hint of druggedness or drunkenness stood Blogg, the Ogre of Dauth.

Tired though they were, the group sprang into action, sensing that their mission was nearing an end. Silently, Silaqui gave a quick thankful thought that the fire pit was not lit and did not contain any remains recognizable as Dayl or Jonas. She moved with lightning speed towards the Ogre, preparing to show him what it mean to be at the receiving end of an Aes Sídhe monk.

But it was Krahn that was closest. He had had his sword at the ready and he slashed at Blogg viciously, opening a large, seeping gash across the leather armored chest of the beast. The Ogre grunted in pain then laughed. “Puny HOOmahn! That just makes me stronger,” he said in accented but clear Common.

The group swarmed him and traded blows with Blogg but neither side could land. Blogg’s massive club, as thick as a birch tree, deflected their efforts and neither the swirling swords of Elan and Krahn or the kicks and punches of Silaqui connected. Lard could not get into the fray as the others pinned Blogg back against a table.

Aiming carefully, the Gnome did manage to sneak in a crossbow bolt that sunk deep into the Ogre’s thigh. That shot saved a rib crunching jab to Krahn’s chest from Blogg.

The Gnome screamed at the top of his lungs, “Stand clear! I am going to magic missile his arse!” But no one hears him and the crowd did not move. “Best not to waste the spell,” he thought as he remembered the gift from Tarik.

Wapa stepped towards Blogg but his swing was batted away by the Ogre’s club. The beast swung it around and over his head then brought it crashing down on the Elf’s head. Wapa’s knees went weak and he stumbled to a kneeling position. Blood gushed into his eyes and he felt like he might pass out. As the club returned to finish him off, Lard grabbed the back of Wapa’s collar and quickly dragged him out of the way; the club crashing into the floor rumbled the cavern like a mini earthquake.

Silaqui gave a high roundhouse kick that she hoped would knock the Ogre senseless. Unfortunately, his last missed swing had led to a sort of duck and she aimed over his head. But the fierceness of it made Blogg hesitate and Krahn thrust forward with his sword, burying the blade deep into the monster’s belly and out the other side.

The creature stood up to his full height, eyes full of anger and for the first time in a long time . . . fear. Instead of roaring he could manage only a whimper. It was clear now to him that either all of these home invaders or he would die that day. Blogg did not want it to be him so he drew back his club, determined to knock Krahn’s head from his shoulders.

The metallic crossbow bolt shot forward with a soft “Feethwap” sound that belayed its deadliness. No sparks flew nor did the magical quarrel leave a light trace in the air (much to Morlar and Elan’s disappointment). But it did find its mark: Blogg’s left eye. The projectile, fired by Morlar, ripped through flesh and brain matter, stopping only after piercing the back of the Ogre’s skull. For a second, or perhaps it was a mere millisecond that everyone felt as longer, there was silence. It was almost comical; that huge beast, all eight feet of him, stood transfixed by a tiny, little crossbow bolt. But then time restarted and the beast fell back on the table, crushing its weak wooden legs and stained surface. Blogg was dead.


The party scoured the room. Lard told hem that someone or something had escaped via the trap door they found beyond the curtained off area. But they needed to make sure that nothing lurked up with them. Also, Elan decided he needed to scalp the Ogre and take a war prize. It was messy and gross and the rest of them tried not to watch (but did).

They did not find much in the room except a humongous, Ogre sized set of leather armor, a spare great club and six large rocks. But they did stuff their pockets, pouches and packs with as many silver coins as they could carry from the chest. They had to leave behind most of them; there were at least 1000 inside. Unfortunately, there was still no clue of where the Ogre had hidden the missing townspeople. Other than down the trapdoor.

The descent was almost disastrous but luckily the Dwarf spotted a loose rung trap after puzzling over the clue carved in the pit’s wall. The group also found a trip wire in the hall below which seemed to trigger some additional trap in the ceiling. The halls were lined with torches which still burned and led to a large smooth carved cavern lit by some unknown light source that seemed to come from everywhere at once. Elan and Morlar agreed it seemed to be some variation of a continual light spell.

The room itself was amazingly clean; unnaturally clean. Along the northwest wall was a stocky L-shaped wooden workbench covered with beakers, flasks and assorted glassware. A smaller wooden table rested to the southwest but did not appear nearly as cluttered. It held a few opened books and orderly rows of upside-down glassware. Along the northeast wall were several pegs holding cloaks and a broom. Picking up a book, Morlar and Lard began to read about silver smithing . . .


Shining bright
Of fire beetles and fire monsters

Getting back together

The storage and the secret door This cavern is about 35 feet in diameter with a low 7-foot ceiling. Along the south wall are several stacks of crates. Positioned in front of the crates is a small wagon. To the southeast, several small casks are tucked into the corner. Each bears the symbol of an ale cask with crossed barley sheaves superimposed on it.

Behind the stacked crates is a secret door.

Fire beetles

This chamber is immense, at least 30 feet by 50 feet with a vaulted ceiling. The floor is covered with debris and six massive stalagmites dot the cavern. To the north is a creamy white flowstone formation shaped like a waterfall frozen in time, situated above a small pool of water. Several two-foot-long beetles with luminescent heads meander about the chamber, throwing dim illumination to the far reaches of the chamber.


The field of mushrooms

This chamber is about 25 feet in diameter but extends another 15 feet to the east. Located
in this eastern spur of the room is a ledge about 10 feet high. The chamber is damp and
musty with a thick acrid smell. The floor of the entire chamber is covered with ochre colored
toadstools a few inches tall.


The three-foot-wide corridor ends in a small dry chamber barely 10 feet in diameter with a
three-foot-high ceiling. Slumped against the south wall is a partially decomposed humanoid body.

The Hallway of Flame


Getting the band together
Our SIX heroes engage the darkness under Skulltop Hillock

Lard, Silaqui and Wapagokos were not the only ones motivated to get the Ogre and rescue the kidnapped villagers. There were three Dauth natives who had been scheming to take on Blogg and free their town. The most recent events were the final straw.

Their party consisted of Morlar Widgetblaster, a Gnome apprentice wizard, his constant companion and sworn guard, Krahn, and a wealthy bard who was friend to both, Elan. They had been there when Dayl and Jonas were taken. They were also troubled by Durbin’s disappearance and the weird goings on around town. But mostly, they despised the Ogre and the cowardice of the Town Council who refused to see the problem with a greedy Ogre living on their doorstep.

The group negotiated a quick deal with the mayor for almost the same terms as the outsiders. But knowing the town and having prepared for this day for a while, they were quick to hit the road. One final stop by Tarik’s house and they would try to catch up to the Dwarf and two Elves.

Tarik was glad to see someone from Dauth finally gather up the courage to take out Blogg. He gave them all the information he had; which was essentially the same as what he had told the first party. After the group finished their drinks and Tarik took their cups, he gave them an item wrapped in cloth. It was a crossbow bolt that Tarik said may help in putting down one with an evil heart. It was perfectly made but all of metal including the fletching. He claimed it was magical and it sure looked it. He also said that unlike most magical arrows and bolts, it could be used again and again and that it had saved his life on several occasions back in his younger days. Morlar graciously accepted it and all three of them pledged swore to use it to shoot Blogg in the eye. Tarik giggled at the thought and wished them luck.


Just as Lard, Silaqui and Wapa were finishing up the Goblins and burying them at Sheryn’s insistence, the group of townies happened up to the standing stones. The initial minutes were tense as the Dwarf and Elves were still a bit hopped up from their skirmish. However, cooler heads prevailed and the six would be saviors decided to join forces. Sheryn wished them all good luck and said she would pray to the forces of Nature for their safe return.


After a two hour hike, the leering visage of Skulltop Hillock comes to view. It is a large weathered hill, the top of which is shaped like a humanoid skull including hollow depressions for eye sockets and a rough gaping maw. A small trail makes its way toward the ominous hillock, under the watchful void of the stone skull’s eye sockets. The ground in front of the ogre’s cave is trodden with many hoof prints, and barren of all vegetation.

A large stone boulder, obviously used to block the cave entrance, has been pushed to the left. Beyond is a dark cave, perhaps 10 feet wide and 12 feet high. In the distance, the constant bleating of sheep can be discerned.

After some discussion and observation of the cave entrance, it was decided that Wapa would climb above it to see what he could see and Silaqui would watch him in case he needed help. The others would slowly enter the cave and begin to explore but stay within earshot of Silaqui.


The fight against the vulture: Wapa is nearly killed but Silaquistabilizes him and drags him through the roof hole.


Search reveals the mushroom recipe book and a small black leather pouch marked with a bright red hand. The pouch contains 27 sp, 7 gp, and a piece of amber shaped like a mushroom.

The wolf lair


Elan moved quickly through the cave. He could feel that the Ogre and their journey’s end was close. He could imagine the song he would craft to tell of his besting the Ogre in mortal hand-to-hand combat. He was already thinking of how he could leave out the part that the Ogre had been poisoned by Druids and that he was defeated by a quick back stab that would severe his spinal column. All of this he thought but he did not think to look for traps and by golly he sure did find one. His foot caught on a thin, almost invisible wire. As it pulled along with his stride, the shelf above him gave way and a bundle of huge logs, twenty feet in length and some as thick as a birch tree, came tumbling down. They down like thunder, rolling and splitting, carrying with them a cloud of sawdust and dirt that covered the young bard. Only his quick, dexterous step saved him from being crushed. He was pinned, he was dirty and he was hurt. But he was alive. Not that the rest of the party knew that yet . . .


And so it begins
Wherein a new adventure is undertaken

The Dwarf raised his head and squinted at the new day. The mini keg of Beardling’s Best Effort that had been his pillow overnight was no real substitute for his favorite Bugman’s XXXXXX (“Six X”) of course but it had gotten him through the night. Too bad the keg was as empty as his change purse. He was still in Dauth, a village without his beloved Six X. A bench outside of the Tired Giant Inn had been his bed last night. Too bad he had also paid for one inside the only inn in town. Lard (that was his nickname but his real name was Blart), sat up on the bench.

He could feel eyes on him and knew for certain it would be that Wood Elf monk again. She seemed to be following him all over the Vale. Of course it had been a good thing back in Prosser when an extra set of fists had been helpful in warding off a group of thugs who thought perhaps he could not hold his liquor. The two of them had taught them a lesson those hoodlums would not forget. Silaqui was her name if he remembered correctly.

He looked back towards the doorway and was surprised it was not her but the other Wood Elf who was his other constant shadow, Wapagokos. The Dwarf’s smile faded into a smirk which was returned in kind. Of all Elves, Lard found Wood Elves the most . . . tolerable. But perhaps not this one. Wapagokos had the look of a Wood Elf but the manners of a High Elf. Lard did not like haughty High Elves but he respected Wood Elves’ attunement with the forest and introspection as any Ranger would. Yes, Lard was a Forestor, a Ranger with knowledge and talents in the wooded parts of the Elsir Vale. Highly unusual for a mountain born Dwarf but there was just something about the towering trees and leaf-canopied skies that spoke to him.

Silaqui came through the main door of the Tired Giant, placing a gentle hand on Wapagokos and smiling at Lard simultaneously. Both the touch and the smile conveyed the same motherly feeling. Lard tried to smile but it came out as a grimace . . . and a belch.

Before any of them could speak, a loud commotion began in the direction of the village square. Given that yesterday Dauth’s friendly neighborhood Ogre had paid a visit to town and demanded slaves and more be delivered this morning, Lard figured it was the crowd trying to figure out who would be the unlucky bloke to have to become an Ogre’s maid. As far as he had heard, Blogg had been demanding things from the good people of Dauth for at least three years and no one was willing to disagree. “You can’t save those who don’t want to be saved,” he thought to himself.

The three nodded and proceeded silently towards the crowd at the village square. Standing on the edge of the community well was the mayor of Dauth. He was waving his arms around and talking so loudly that his spittle could be seen from far away. The ogre returned this morning. Not only did he take the ale set aside for him but he also kidnapped Dayl and Jonas, and hauled them back to his lair. They’re destined for his belly, no doubt! However, the mayor explained that with the aid of the local druids and brewer in town, the last batch of ale the ogre took was laced with a mild poison to help incapacitate the brute. Now it’s time for brave heroes to finish the deed. Who would be that hero? Who would earn the reward?

At the word “reward” both Lard and Wapagokos perked up. However, it was the Dwarf who spoke first, volunteering the three strangers to defeat the Ogre. He wasn’t even sure why he did it. It must have been the last bit of Beardling’s Best Effort in his system.

After negotiating the reward with the mayor and while waiting for him to collect the upfront money, the three adventurers decided to see what they could glean from the villagers gathered in the only tavern, the Tired Giant. When the group walked in, the crowd turned and began cheering. Several people clapped the three on their backs and whispered words of thanks and encouragement. As the crowd parted to let the party enjoy free drinks, a boy stood in the center, gaping at the party.

“Are you the Six Blades?” he stammered.

“No child,” said Lard. “We are just a few folks who don’t like bullies . . . or Ogres.”

“Well, Lord Dwarf . . .”

“I am no Lord, lad.”

“Well Sir Dwarf . . .”

“I am not one of those either, son.”

The boy looked embarrassed at his mistakes. “I meant no disrespect. You are the closer we have to heroes here and . . . well . . . I want to be helpful.”

Wapagokos spoke up, “Well, I think you can be. Tell us more about what has happened here in town the past few days or months. Anything might help us get the upper hand on the beast.” He smiled a roguish smile, not quite putting the boy at ease.

“Okay. Let me think,” he started. “ . . . I know! I remember a few months ago, I saw the strangest thing. A large dog, one of the strays, it don’t belong to anyone here in town, attacked a rat in town. The bite should have cut the rat in half, but instead it just wriggled its way out of the dog’s mouth and hissed. There was absolutely no effect of that dog biting that rat. And then, it was even stranger. That rat bit the dog. It just attacked it! What rat attacks a big dog? But with a single bite from the rat, the dog fled. No one believes what I saw but I know I saw it and it was weird!”

“Why would they not believe you?” asked Silaqui.

“I guess because I am still a kid.”

“Well, what else can you tell us?” said Lard taking another ale from a passing barmaid.

The boy thought for a moment. “Also . . . also, one of the regulars in here said that when Blogg first came to town, he did more than take off old Tarik’s arm. I was told that you should watch out for his club. Once, he hit a man on the top of the head so hard that he drove the man two feet into the ground like a hammer driving a nail into a board. Then . . . the man’s head exploded like a watermelon.”

“Got it. Stay one step ahead of the big club.” Wapagokos smiled again.

The boy noticed he had been talking for some time (he saw the barmaid give him a look when she passed again). “I’ve got to get back to work. Can’t wait to hear how you beat that old stinky Ogre though. My name’s Lamar. Good luck but I know you don’t need it!”

“Hey kid,” said Lard. “Catch!” The Dwarf tossed Lamar a gold piece and a huge smile spread across both of their faces. Lamar shouted as he ran back to work, “you’re better than the Six Blades!”

Still waiting for the Mayor to collect their gold, the group listened to the chatter in the bar and found out quite a bit more. There was a lively debate about the Mayor himself and a few members of the Village Council. One person said “I don’t trust the mayor, I tell you! Raising taxes every year. I’d bet the flock the ogre is in league with the mayor, and the gold he now demands is lining the town’s coffers!” A few nodded agreement but not many. More nodded when a woman stated, “that Tarik is one crazy coot. He tried confronting the Ogre years ago, and lost his arm to the giant. Hasn’t slowed down old One Arm, though!” There was also a bit of laughter at the talk of Tarik.

One tale in particular perked up the adventurers’ ears: “Strange things are happening in town lately. A Dwarven carpenter named Durbin just up and left a few weeks back, right after patching my roof. I still owe him for the job, but no one has seen him in weeks!” Could that be connected to the rat or the Ogre? Wondered the party. No one seemed to connect them but then again, everyone thought the rat was a figment of Lamar’s imagination. Except for perhaps Silaqui.

Hearing enough to satisfy them for now and wanting to get started on the road to maximize day light, the group met with the Mayor and got directions to Skulltop Hillock. He also told them that just west of town, located on a small rise near a stand of woods but viewable from the trail, are seven massive stone monoliths arranged in a druid’s circle. The stone circle is centuries old, but is still tended by an order of druids that monitors the region. The party decided to stop there if it seemed interesting but had a different stop first: Tarik’s hovel on the edge of town.

Outside of town and to the south and on the western bank of the stream, the group found an old hut. The hut was surrounded by large wood carvings made by someone with quite a bit of skill with an ax. It was hard to believe but it must have been the old man who had been chopping wood while they approached. He now just stared at the group. Wapagokos called out to him and he waved them closer.

After exchanging pleasantries, he invited them in and told them what he knew of the Ogre. He claimed he would have beaten the beast if he had not been tricked and distracted. He also asserted that he had found a small cave entrance, blocked from view by bushes on the west side of Skulltop Hillock. While he did not explore it, he believes that the caves head directly into the hillside, and perhaps are a back entrance to the Ogre’s lair. He also told the story of an ancient warrior of great renown being buried under Skulltop Hillock more than 100 years ago. She was also a member of the noble family that owned the castle that looks down on Dauth. As a result, her tomb has to contain many magical treasures. But as Tarik said, “I imagine she haunts it or at least did until Blogg came. I guess since he is still up there fat and happy like, he must have gotten rid of any ghosts. Either way, I’d be careful. Fighting Ogres is one thing. Fighting the supernatural is another.”

The group finished their drinks and Tarik took their cups. He wished them luck as they walked away to the west.


After winding along the path for some time, they could see a low hill from the top of the rise in the path. On top stood a group of standing stones in a rough circle. From a distance, they could see a figure in green robes, rolling on the ground desperately in the center of the stones. It was grunting and yelling. Surrounding it were three short, grotesque humanoids with spears; whooping and laughing maniacally. It was if they were taunting and torturing the one on the ground even though with one good jab they could probably end the green figure’s life.

“Goblins,” Lard said through clenched teeth. “I hate goblins.” He started walking towards the standing stones and unlimbering his hand crossbow.

The goblins saw the approaching group with the Dwarf in the lead. They raised their spears and one of them shouted something at the Dwarf. He just grunted in return and fired his crossbow, sinking a quarrel in the closest one’s chest.

The goblins left the green figure behind and moved to engage the group. Lard and Silaqui distracted them while Wapagokos snuck behind the standing stones, looking for an opportunity to strike from behind. Lard and Silaqui worked well together and soon there was but one goblin left alive.

The figure in green robes, now obviously a female Druid, stood and moved into position behind the last standing goblin. She swung wildly at the goblin in front of her but she was shaky from her ordeal and she missed. The goblin paid no heed to the wind from the staff striking the ground. Instead, he lunged at Silaqui with his spear but she was too fast. She grabbed the shaft and twirled into the creature, kicking him firmly in the kneecap. There was a sickening crunch as his leg buckled. He dropped the spear, stunned at the fast moves of the monk and his suddenly shattered knee. But those were his last thoughts. Silaqui shifted and with an uppercut, broke the goblin’s nose and drove the bone at its base into his tiny brain. He fell back and stayed still.

The Druid thanked the group for saving her life. She stated that it was odd that they were active in the day time and Lard agreed. She stated that her name was Sheryn-ella and she is a Druid of the group that watches over the area near Dauth. She asked if they had come to slay the Ogre and when they admitted their quest, she told them that she had helped prepare the poison to slow Blogg. She said it would not kill him but he will be as if drunk merely with a sip and perhaps unconscious if he drank more. She also stated that she recalled that a few years back she saw smoke come out of one of the eye sockets on Skulltop Hillock. It would probably not be large enough for an Ogre to enter but may be a chimney or air hole. She thought it was the left eye socket as one approaches the hill from the village. She also claimed to have seen sheep grazing on the far side of the hill but had never seen the Ogre exhibiting such skills. Then again, she had only seen the Ogre once or twice and always while hiding from a distance.

In return for their assistance, Sheryn-ella gave the party a small bag containing eight of what she called goodberries which could substitute for an entire meal and provide a small bit of healing if eaten while still fresh. She stated they would probably last for another week or so. The party then turned their attention to the slain goblins to see what they might have of value . . .


Blogg the Ogre of Dauth
How I said goodbye to a normal life . . .

celtic_a.jpgll of you hail from the town of Dauth in The Elsir Vale. Or at least all of you are here now. For the past few years, an ogre named Blogg has demanded monthly tribute from the town of Dauth. At first the town balked but the lone brave soul bold enough to challenge the ogre was nearly killed by the brute. After that, the village council quickly agreed to fulfill the demands since they were only some ale, a sheep and occasionally, mundane supplies. Blogg seemed to be content to collect his extorted goods and leave the villagers alone. Some even claimed that Blogg’s presence was good and seemed to keep away the random bandit, kobold or goblin clan who might ravage the village. But there were some who thought he would bring evil and destruction eventually to Dauth and they appear to have been right.

Last month, the tribute changed. In addition to ale and cheap supplies, the ogre demanded gold and building materials! But the situation has grown even more grim. The ogre returned yesterday with yet more demands of ale and worse: townsfolk to use as slaves! The town was in an uproar and denied the ogre’s request. The brute left but came back this morning in a rage and grabbed two townsfolk, Dayl and Jonas, and hauled them back to his lair. They’re destined for his belly, no doubt!

With the aid of the local druids and brewer in town, the last batch of ale the ogre took was laced with a mild poison to help incapacitate the brute. Now it’s time for brave heroes to finish the deed.

And so, that is how you find yourself here: in the middle of town square, the crowd cheering you on and giving you encouraging slaps on the back. Mayor Merriweather smiles broadly and you are not sure if it means he has hope in you or he thinks he will never se you again (and he will never have to pay out the reward). What have you just done? You look around you at the others ringed by the crowd. You have just volunteered to stop Blogg once and for all and rescue the two missing villagers . . .



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