The Seal Of The Elemental Stones
About the village (what everybody knows):
The Village of Wintershard —or merely “Wintershard” as it is commonly called— is situated in the most northern part of the Oerik Continent which is known and ‘civilized.’ The once hamlet-sized village is located about 50 miles south of the city of Verbobonc, on the fringe of the territory controlled by the noble Lord the Viscount of Verbobonc. Today, it is at a crossroads. To the southeast and east of Wintershard are miles and miles of forest (the Greenmantle), and the elven kingdom of Celene deep within. To the northeast, past the northern part of the forest, the Kron Peaks, and the Ogrefist Hills, the Vales Road circumvents the Gardbury Downs to reach as far as Winterhaven, connecting the West Coast with the Nentir Vale. From the heights of the Kron Hills up north, the Vel Lake springs the Vel river to the north, and the Nyr Div to the south. The former feeds the huge and half-frozen Verdyva Lake where the mighty Velverdyva River sprouts, rushing wildly to the northwest and into the North Sea. In the fertile valleys between the icy lake and Drake Mountains, Elkridge, Ostverk and Trede trade their goods with the western lands of the World through the region’s only port and proud capital. As the Nyr Dyv River runs to the south, so does the Coast Road along its west bank and, after many days’ travel, they reach the shores of the Lake of Unknown Depths (formerly the Nyr Dyv Lake) and the feared walled city of Dyvers. The town of Wellspring lies about halfway along the route, past the perilous Misty Hills and through the gnomish domains.
The village’s history (what only some sages know):
Wintershard has been for decades a sleepy village, its farmhouses and artisans clustered around a crossroads at the edge of the wilderness. Worshipers of the Old Faith and the gods as well mingle peacefully over ale at the local inn while merchants hawk their wares in the few nearby shops or improvised marketplaces.
Of course, the village was not always so quiet. Situated in an strategic location, at the foot of the valley between the Kron Range and the Misty Hills, the roads that serve as its main streets have seen armies both noble and evil pass and clash countless times throughout the centuries and the village itself was leveled to the ground, rebuilt, and rescued from the verge of destruction almost as frequently.
Wintershard as we know it today was in fact built around the watch tower of nobleman manor hailing form the ancient kingdom of Furyondi, its name now lost to time and its ruins stuff of children’s scary tales. The village grew from a farm or two, a rest house, and a smithy. The Coast Road brought a sufficient number of travelers and merchant wagons to attract tradesmen and artisans to serve those passing through. The resthouse became a thriving inn, and a wheel and wainwright settled in the thorp. More farmers and herdsmen followed, for grain was needed for the passing animals, and meat was in demand for the innfolk. Prosperity was great, for the lord of the district was mild and taxed but little. Trade was good, and the land was untroubled by war, outlaws, or ravaging beasts. The area was free, beautiful, and bountiful — too much so, in the eyes of some. Old geezers among the townsfolk might still remember the last time Wintershard and its inhabitants were in peril: Around the year 59 AE, powerful evil forces moved into the region and took control. Whether they came west from the Nentir Vale’s haunted downs and fens (as is claimed by one faction) or crept up out from the depths of the Nyr Dyv, its roots tracing back to the foul city of Dyvers (as others assert), came they did. At first it was only a few thieves and an odd group of bandits molesting the merchant caravans. Then came small bands of humanoids —kobolds or goblins— raiding the flocks and herds. Local militia and foresters of the Waldgraf of Ostverk apparently checked, but did not stop, the spread of outlawry and evil. A collection of hovels and their slovenly inhabitants formed the nucleus for the troubles which were to increase. The folk of Wintershard tended to ignore this place, Nulb, even though it was but less than 20 miles distant. But its out-of-the-way position was ideal for the fell purposes planned for this settlement, as was its position on a small river flowing into the Nyr Dyv. The thickets and marshes around Nulb became the lair and hiding place for bandits, brigands, and all sorts of evil men and monsters alike.
A ancient wicked temple deep in the Greenmantle Forest rose defiant once again and its faithful brought in their illgotten tithes. Good folk were robbed, pillaged, enslaved, and worse. In but a few years swarms of creatures worshipped and worked their wickedness therein, making Wintershard and the lands for leagues around a mockery of freedom and beauty. Commerce ceased, crops withered; pestilence was abroad. But the leaders of this cancer, which seemed invincible, were full of hubris and, in their overweaning pride, sought to overthrow the good realms to the north, east, and south, who were coming to the rescue of the land being crushed under the tyranny wrought by the evil temple. Heroes rose up to shatter their sinister hold over the land with the aid of Verbobonc’s knights, Celene’s archers and Veluna’s priests. A grand alliance was formed, one last time, against the forces of evil and a great battle was fought. When the good people of Wintershard saw streams of ochre-robed men and humanoids fleeing south and west through their community, there was great rejoicing, for they knew that the murderous oppressors had been defeated and driven from the field in panic and rout. So great was the slaughter, so complete the victory of good, that the walled stronghold of the temple fell within a fortnight. The place was ruined and sealed against a further return of such abominations by powerful
blessings and magic. Life in Wintershard quickly returned to a semblance of its former self, before the rise of the temple.
For almost four decades afterward, the village and the surrounding countryside have become richer and more prosperous than ever before. With the construction of the new Vales Road, commerce bustled and the village thrives with newcomers and travelers.
A cunning vampire lord which plagued the place for a time was hunted down by a party of passing adventurers. Carrying the ashes and a goodly fortune as well, the adventurers returned to the village. Before going elsewhere to seek their fortunes, the adventurers also returned a portion of the villagers’ losses. Other adventurers, knowing of the evil that had once resided in the area, came to seek out similar caches, and several did find remote lairs and wealth —just as some never returned at all. After a time, it seemed that no monsters were left to slay, and no evil existed here to be stamped out. But then, perhaps attracted by the merchants passing by, bandits began to ride the roads again —not frequently, but to some effect. So the good folk of Wintershard sent word to the Viscount of Verbobonc that wicked forces might still lurk thereabouts. This information has been spread throughout the countryside, and not only envoys of the Viscount arrived to the village but adventurers and outsiders hired by the traveling caravans as guards or seeking to make quick coin or a name for themselves. Who and what these men are, no one can be quite sure. All claim to be bent on slaying monsters and bringing peace and security to Wintershard; but deeds speak more loudly than words, and lies cloak the true purposes of the malevolent.
Interesting locations (or what the party has explored so far):
|1. MODEST FARMHOUSE AND BARN||13. AVERAGE FARM BUILDING||25. COTTAGE AND LARGE BARN|
|2. REFUGEE’S CAMP||14. WEATHERBEATEN BUILDING AND BARN||26. COTTAGE AND SMALL BARN|
|3. PROSPEROUS FARM COTTAGE AND LARGE BARN||15. WOODEN BUILDING WITH SHUTTERED WINDOWS||27. THE GROVE|
|4. RUSTIC ABODE||16. STURDY NEW BUILDING WITH A SIGN||28. LARGE BARN AND CONNECTED HOME|
|5. WELL KEPT FARM||17. MODEST COTTAGE||29. BARN-LIKE HOUSE WITH A WHEEL NAILED TO A POST|
|6. PROSPEROUS FARMHOUSE||18. TYPICAL COTTAGE AND IMPOSING STONE BUILDING WITH A BARREL HANDING FROM CHAINS||30. LARGE NEW BUILDING|
|7. HOUSE WITH LEATHER HIDE TACKED TO FRONT DOOR||19. SMALL HOUSE WITH SIGN||31. STONE HOUSE|
|8. THE INN OF THE WELCOME WENCH||20. MODEST COTTAGE||32. TWO-STORIED TOWER|
|9. BROTHER SMITH’S FORGE||21. CHURCH OF ST. CUTHBERT||33. TENTS AND WATTLE HUTS|
|10. VILLAGEHALL||22. THEROS’ HOUSE AND FORGE||34. DOUBLE FIELDSTONE WALLS FILLED WITH EARTH|
|11. WEAVER||23. WALLED MANOR HOUSE||35. OLD TOWER RUINS|
|12. SMALL COTTAGE||24. MILL AND ATTACHED HOME||36. OVERGROWN TRACK|