Moonday, 7 Desnus, 4734
Having made their trades with the river clans of Nolander barbarians, the Rune Wardens set out southward into the interior of the Nolands. The adventurers largely ride on Marcus’ cart, but Amelia scouts ahead on her hippogriff. The party’s passage attracts the attention of some territorial griffins, but Amelia is able to persuade the bird-lions to leave them be. She also manages to restrain her hippogriff from chasing after them.
Zavian, advised by Shalelu and Astrid, uses magic to help create a protective shelter for their camp. That night, he hears scuttling outside and discovers that his efforts have disrupted a mother dragon’s nest. He quietly corrects the issue, then returns to trying to decipher Belawara’s contract.
Toilday, Desnus 8, 4734
The next day, the Rune Wardens are challenged by a band of horse clan barbarians who are skeptical of the party’s cover story as pilgrims. The Nolanders accuse them of being elf spies. The adventurers are ultimately ably to talk their way past, but Amelia notices that a pair of barbarian outriders continue to shadow them through the rest of the day.
That night, Marcus cautiously lays down some alarm spells. Their sleep is troubled by a particularly vocal owl, which Amelia ultimately lures away using ghost sound.
Wealday, 9 Desnus, 4734
On the next day, Amelia spots an unusual spot of blue hanging off a tree trunk. Investigating, the party discovers that it is an elven arrow with blue fletching. The phrase “No Farther” is carved into the haft in Elvish.
Shalelu tells the party a little about the elves of her homeland in the Mierani Forest, who are slightly more open to interacting with outsiders than the Isandari, but still very protective of their borders.
Oathday, 10 Desnus, 4734
After traveling through range land, the Rune Wardens finally reach the banks of the Velashu River.
Fireday, 11 Desnus, 4734
After turning the wagon into a boat — or “woat” — the Rune Wardens begin traveling down the river. They make a good pace over the next several days, watching the countryside grow tamer and more civilized. They raise the Sarenrite flag over the woat to try to reassure strangers that they mean no harm.
Zavian also marks the start of the month-long Sun Festival of Sarenrae.
Moonday, 14 Desnus, 4734
After several days of perfect spring weather, a storm descends upon them with heavy rain. Unable to see clearly through the downpour, Marcus nearly rams the woat into a massive humanoid shape that looms out of the rain. It turns out to be a young frost giant woman, Grenja, who was fording the river.
Indignant rather than hostile, she chews out the party for nearly hitting her, then offers to help move their beached boat. The Rune Wardens start to warm to her, as it becomes clear that she is badly lost. Grenja was raised by the Standing Bear Clan of Kellid barbarians far to the north, where she was given the ancestral greataxe Moonslicer.
But her clan was massacred by giants led by the storm giant Nenzir, who stole the barbarians’ mammoth heard to take back to Xin-Shalast. Grenja has been seeking vengeance against him, but with no luck.
Noticing she is uncomfortable in the heat of the lowlands, Marcus enchants her necklace to bestow endure elements on her each day. He also offered to shrink her down to human size, a proposal that proved very tempting to her. Grenja, however, decides to hold off until she has confronted Nenzir. The party points her in the general directions of Xin-Shalast and promises to reunite with her once they have more specific details on reaching the city.
Fireday, 18 Desnus, 4734
After another few days of travel, the party nears Riddleport. Shalelu has them disembark outside the city so no one will see the cart transform. She insists that the Rune Wardens disguise themselves as simple mercenaries so as not to attract attention.
The first thing they notice approaching Riddleport is the foul smell of human waste, garbage, and burning chemicals. The second thing they notice is the shanty town outside the north gate, called Lubbertown. They are sized up by toughs and hassled by begging children.
At the gate, a pair of bored gendarmes charge them for entrance, and Shalelu slips them a small bribe to help smooth things along. The guards tell them that the city is still recovering from a tsunami and it may be hard to hire a ship.
Pressing on inside, they proceed through the military district, spy the Overlord’s citadel on its island in the river, and see the casinos of the Free-Coin District. Shalelu takes them deeper into the bustling city, where they witness some strange sights and sounds. This includes a gladiator, Slab the Butcher, endorsing Jord’s Fish Stand as his favorite in the city.
The adventurers also notice a group of women in Gray Maiden armor clustered around a red headed young woman. Suddenly, a big shape bursts out of the cluster and starts bounding towards the party in an undulating motion. It appears to be a giant otter.