The Shaded Vale
For many years Harkenwold has been known as the science center of the Nentir Vale, largely thanks to the leadership of Thana Cairnflame, Duchess of Harkenwold. She has long been fascinated with chemistry, alchemy, and most of all, astronomy. Her support of these pursuits drew the famous Elven astronomer Anzid Shademaker to the city. With the support of the Duchess, he built a grand observatory on the top of a hill near the city’s center. From there he began his great search of the night skies, hoping to eventually to find a place where he could break the veil and see into the Astral Plane itself.
News of Shademaker’s observatory and his goals spread and caught the attention of a Dwarven scientist, Gondod Lightgrave. He soon came to Harkenwold to see the grand observatory built by the Elf. Upon seeing the structure, Lightgrave announced that it was a joke, and that he could build an even more impressive structure thanks to his Dwarven engineering knowledge. The Duchess was so excited by his claims that she gave him some land on the shores of the Mill Pond to build his observatory. Within a few months construction was completed. Gondod, contrary to Anzid’s lofty ambitions, said he would strive to bring science to the people, opening his facility to the public once a week, and giving classes to the curious.
The rivalry between the two astronomers grew quickly, eventually dividing the whole town. Anzid’s supporters spoke of the precision of his instrumentation, the height of his building, and the nobility of his research goals. Gondod’s supporters cited the superior crafstmanship of the Dwarven building, the sturdiness of his equipment, and the mass-appeal of his efforts.
Recently a fight broke out in the Market between the two factions. The city guard broke it up, but a final appeal was brought before the Duchess. The Nobles of the city demanded that she choose one of the scientists to stay, and force one to leave. Only then could the people move past the feud and move forward with true research. Thana Cairnflame has spent weeks secluded in her quarters at Iron Keep, trying to come to a decision. Then Grundy, Haiyakipoo, Elfman, Melechla Torment and Lacplesis arrived.
The party quickly learned of the trouble and offered assistance to the Duchess. In exchange for their help, she agreed to gift them any item they wished from the armory of Iron Keep. The party, with the help of Stewart, the Duchess’ steward, convinced the rival astronomers to agree to a competition. The first to find two identical heavenly bodies would be the winner, and the loser would leave the town.