King of the Stolen Lands

Adra's Journal: Session 3
Monkeys and Dwarves

Session 3: “Monkeys and Dwarves”

From the journal of Adra Kellen:

Dravago 16th
Oleg’s Trading Post

We are making our final preparations for our second excursion into these lands. The plan is to explore the region south of Oleg’s along the forest’s edge. I am curious about the ‘haunted fortress’ that the locals here talk about. It supposedly sits at the edge of the Tuskwater, perhaps we will look into the truth about the fortress in our journey south.

This morning, Old Poon has alerted us that we may have unknowingly been affected by some curse. Apparently the funerary cairn we found possessed the remains of a ‘Tiger Lord,’ a barbarian warrior cult that utilized blood oaths and the like. I am sure that no curse has befallen me. The others I am not so sure, I did not disrupt the grave nor did I take anything from it.

Svetlana gave Kurgar a package containing some of the items that the previous group of Sword Lord Explorers kept at Oleg’s. The package contained various items, including what appeared to be a spellbook and a wand. Kurgar was thrilled to find soft paper for his…use. I asked for the dagger that the box contained. It was a well-crafted blade made of steel.

Otherwise we are as prepared as we will be to set off again into these uncharted lands. I hope that weather holds off, it appears we will have rain soon.

Dravago 17th,
Plains south of Oleg’s

By the Flame, I hate mud.

This has been the worst day of this entire expedition. It has been raining sheets and storming since before daybreak. How I wish to be back in a cathedral seeking out heretic ministry.

The wagon became stuck atleast a dozen times today. The first order of business for these Sword Lords should be commissioning roads for this terrible land. We had been following a dirt path, but it was created by game and the trappers that hunt them. If this weather keeps up this will be a long and extremely taxing journey south. I wish I had dry clothes.

Dravago 18th,

Atleast the storm has passed. Our travel today was mostly uneventful. The skies were dark and we could hear thunder in the distance, but the rain was at a minimum. The wagon and the horses are having trouble with the soft earth, but otherwise we are making good time. We haven’t stopped to explore in the last couple of days, Kurgar has updated our maps with details that he had obtained with the previous expedition and with lieutenant Kesten. Hopefully we can keep exploration to a minimum with the ground as wet as it is.

Dravago 19th,
Kamelands, East of the Thorn River

The skies have remained grey. I haven’t seen the sun or felt its warmth in nearly 4 days. Today we found signs of Trolls in the area. I have never encountered one, only heard tales of how dangerous they are. Hopefully we don’t come across any. We have two of our group on watch at all times.

Dravago 20th,
Kamelands East of the Thorn River

I should make note here that I declared the 17th the worst day of this expedition, today was clearly much, much worse. We found a battered and worn bridge barely able to hold the weight of a horse and man. At the bank of the river we saw what could have been the Tatzelwurm that we had heard about. I dismounted to get a closer look and Kurgar was beside me. I was about to take aim when the dwarf dropped his trousers and similarly took aim with his…member. I can’t believe I am recording this, but he began to draw attention of the beast in the water by urinating. I cannot put into words how disgusted I was with his actions. From this point on, I will also be more aware of the direction of the wind as the river was nearly twenty feet below us and the mist I felt was not from below… His actions completely disturbed my aim and I fired into the river below. The creature swam with the current and was gone within seconds. The dwarf was still at it, how much can a dwarf hold? It was insane. I have never been so insulted in my life, well there was ~~~~~~. Even so I could not believe how crude this dwarf can be. And after all of that Stone offers me a waterskin, unbelievable.

Dravago 22,
Three River Crossing-Shallow Ford

We spent the last two days exploring the area around the Three River Crossing. It was mostly uneventful and I spent most of the time away from the group. Being pissed on by a dwarf…how demeaning and just…I shouldn’t dwell on it. Thankfully the weather has cleared up a bit and our explorations were without much trouble. While the ground is still soft we haven’t had many issues with the wagon, other than the damned monkey making a mess of our provisions. I am not sure what I hate more dwarves or monkeys, then again not much of a difference. One’s a hairy unintelligent beast and the other has a tail.

Dravago 23rd
Along the Skunk River

We followed the Shrike River south and then veered west to avoid the notice of the ‘mystery fortress’ at the Tuskwater. We explored much of the area and plan to approach the fortress tomorrow. Our knight is a bit skeptical of making an approach as we don’t have all the details. I admire his caution. We have been only given hints as to what the fort may hold. I for one would like to be prepared and know what we might face. I am sure whatever dwells there will not take kindly to the law of a foreign land or the presence of foreigners bringing that law to this land.

Dravago 23rd
Second watch, middle of the night

Kurgar had an interesting watch, a fey creature visited him. I am surprised he didn’t just swat it away. He described the creature as having the legs and lower body of a cricket while having the likeness of a woman from ‘waist’ up. The creature is identical to the ones that Boris claimed to have seen nearly a week ago. It told Kurgar that there are many dangers in the woods and that the Stag Lord must be killed. It also mentioned Narissa, we will need to meet with this person or whatever she is. She is either working with the Stag Lord or has some relations with him. The small fey also informed him that the fortress on the Tuskwater is the Stag Lord’s base of operations and that the fields surrounding the fort are filled with the undead. Apparently the fort was once a monastery of some sort and the monks who perished have risen as undead abominations. A comforting thought as I sit here as the only one awake. Tomorrow we will see if the fey was right.

Dravago 24th,
Within sight of the Tuskwater Fort
Late afternoon

This will be my last entry before we enter the fort. We came across two bandits as we followed the Skunk River. We surprised them and I planted an arrow in one while the other quickly surrendered. Boris saw to the wounded man, I thought he was dead. He took the arrow to his eye which left him entirely blinded, as he already wore an eyepatch. I regret leaving the man blind in this harsh land, but he was a criminal. The one bandit who surrendered, Clarence, revealed everything we wanted to know about the Stag Lord and the fortress. He went as far as giving us his medallion and a phrase to gain entry. Cedric and the others stepped away while held my bow trained on Clarence. I asked him about his life here and whether he will repent for his sins. He’s stupid, but I believe he can be redeemed. It turns out both had been ‘saved’ by the previous expedition, but Jessi told them to return to work for the Stag Lord. She will need to be dealt with. When Cedric and the others returned I was pulled aside to discuss our plans. We were planning on taking on the guise of bandits, new recruits and enter the fort without a fight. The two bandits informed us that the Stag Lord would be seeking tribute and that he was particularly fond of drink, absinthe specifically. We were in luck, we still had three bottles.

So this is the plan. We say the phrase, enter the fort, deliver the absinthe, and when he succumbs to his vice we strike.

Pass Phrase: “By the bloody bones of St. Gilmorg, who wants to know?”

Dravago 24th,
Tuskwater Fortress

I am updating my journal with what I have seen so far. I don’t think my entry will be long as I don’t want to be spotted writing anything down. So far we have made entry to the fort and given an uneasy welcome from the bandits. They nearly saw through our charade, but the Stag Lord himself interrupted them and was over joyed to receive the absinthe. He even paid us. Once that was settled we were able to roam about the fort as newcomers. Cedric quickly took to drink and acted intoxicated after only a couple mugs. Stone disappeared into what was left of the structure within the palisades and Kurgar appeared to be sizing up the bandits and making efforts to goad them on. Boris remains near me; he’s mentioned he is worried for my safety. I will be fine.

Adventure Log – Session 1: Taped to cleanse the unclaimed lands with righteous fire!

[note: this was somehow lost in the wiki]

The Sword Lords of Brindol have tapped me to aid a group of adventurers in taming the river lands. I am sure they seek the experience of my family. I am certain they requested me for the divine healing abilities I can bring to bear, for the frontier is a dangerous place.

I have heard tails of this riverland. Bandits prey on caravans bringing frontier goods to market. Monsters roam the untamed wild. Men and beast alike need to be hunted, and burned with righteous fire. All the same, I would not be surprised to meet a few relatives or acquaintances in the area.

Wildmen, beaver trappers and the like, seem to populate the area. My grandfather would have gotten along with these folks. Perhaps I can learn a ting or two from these frontiersmen. I anticipate finding these blaspheming cultists, and ending their terror on the frontier.

There are tails and bounties on various monsters roaming the wild. I hope by ridding the frontier of these beasts that I can earn my name. I have hopes that they are more impressive prey than the giant rats, giant spiders, or sewer alligators I am often tasked with dealing with.

I was attached to a unit consisting of two humans and a dwarf. It would seem that half the unit belongs to some silver and fire church. I am assuming they hunt werewolves and vampires based on the name. I am uncertain where they lie in the scheme of things, but they seem like decent enough people. I am sure they will aid in the cleansing of this area of the various human and inhuman monstrosities, else they may spill over into the neighboring provinces. Their is also a Paladin of The Sovereign Host in the unit. His healing should prove to be useful if I should fall.

May Balinor guide us to a fruitful hunt, and may our songs be sung in the grand halls of Brindol.

Cleanup Crew

Cleanup Crew

For a few days we traveled, following the map in which we have been given. The three days in which we had been set out for, seemed a bit uneasy. Being around a troublesome monkey, someone who keeps wanting to kill and eat any wild life we spot, and another member who refuses to have any social interaction, makes this seemingly easy trip quiet the chore. I do not know if its me that is having a hard time, that if I am not as tolerant as I used to be. It is probably because the wine is almost gone. If I need to keep my spirits up, I am going to need more ‘spirits’ heh. On the third day we awoke early dawn to set out, with the abandoned outpost marked on the map close at hand.

My friend cracks the reins against the horses and sighs while glancing over to me, “You don’t look to good kid. Your calm looks like its been unseated” Stonehands says.

I look out forward at the path before us, sitting beside my friend just trying to formulate the words in my head. “I guess I am just getting bored. Nothing but road the past few days. No women and little drink left. Plus I am trying to figure out our companions, The priest worries me a tad. Plus I have tried for days to establish a line of communication with the Inquisitor and nothing much there to be had”. I shake my head and try to force a smile. Stonehands was not buying it.

“Well at this point I am almost ready to rebuke that whole ‘Dont Fuck Adra’ thing. I mean if you could get a few pleasant yelps out of her, would at least settle that we dont have a mindless zombie shuffling in our group. Plus that would solve your woman surplus problem”. Stonehands snorted a laugh but realized it did not get the reaction he intended.

“No, no, no. I have no intentions of such things. I just wish to be closer to those I am set to work with. I was wondering though why exactly was I chosen to be put on this quest. Me of all people. I am shocked my older brothers was not given the task. I don’t know why it even popped into my head. I am probably just over thinking it” I said. “Well its simple. Your a damn good knight. Plus your sister told me that your father put the request in. Seems like he thought you war a bit more fittin fer da task. So jus don’t bodda mushin your brain ova such mattas” said Stonehands.

After a few minutes all the sudden a giant building started to come into view. I was expecting a run down, dilapidated mess of a building but that was not the case. Though the outpost would not win any architectural awards nor beauty contests, it was held up strong. To even the greater surprise, that it was not abandoned nor overrun like we were to assume, it was teeming with activity of human folk. Non banditry human folk to boot!

Crowding around outside were a few tradesman with their carriages pulled to the side of the trading post. Most of the people outside were weathered and worn but otherwise looked docile. The group and I exchanged glances to each other, a bit of surprise and relief, to which we then decided to see what all this was about.

I got off of the caravan while Stoney took it to the side with the rest of the wagons and such, to make my way to the front of the trading post which had a simple painted board at the top which said “Oleg’s”. Outside of the place directing some folks was a tall, built man, with a jaw as square as you could imagine and dark brown hair. The man gave us all a nod and spoke “Welcome travelers.” He introduced himself as Oleg to Boris, who went up to greet him first. There was a talk between the two about the situation with the trading post, how bandits came but a previous group took them out.. Adra after tying up her horse, immediately stormed inside the building, leaving the rest of the group outside. Me and Stoney eventually gave our greetings to Oleg and was then introduced inside to his wife Svetlana, who was more than willing to tell us more about what happened in the recent month and setting us with rooms for the night. I asked her if she saw a tall blond woman with a cloak burst in here a few minutes prior, which she replied she did. That said woman checked in a room herself and was grumbling about filth and needing a bath.

“Yup, that sounds like her. Always grumbling or muttering about something.” said Stonehands. During the chat , a lot came up. We talked about being sent down by the Sword Lords. The whole mention to keep up with the area. She told us that most of the previous group disappeared. Although there was member sitting in the bar, a young half-elf named Jessi. Lastly she spoke they were currently in protection by a Lt. Kesten Garress and his men. My ears immediately perked up to ask where he is and am promptly told. “Stoney, I am going to talk to a fellow member of my house. Wish to tag along?” Stonehands is handed a tall glass of ale by Svetlana, while Morgan plays with a small knife that he must of pulled off of Stonehands. “Look, can I just sit and enjoy this drink first? Relax kid, girly said that Kesten guy was going to be here for a while, so no need to rush.” I nod and notice Boris going around the room asking people something and is then directed to a board in the corner of the bar.

“Boris, I am going to talk to the man here who helped keep this place secure. You wish to come with. I wouldn’t mind another person around to help assess a situation. Boris seemed like he was paying no attention to me, since he did not once look at me or say anything. After a few seconds of looking at what looked to be several bounty posters on the wall he spoke. “Well I would but I am seeing what here would be worthy of a hunt. There is much work to be done out here. Surely Balinor will be pleased when I decide to give to him sacrifices from these lands.” That obviously means no, he did not want to come along.

I finally decide as much as it made me uncomfortable that I needed to still try to interact with Adra and force her out of her shell. I went up to her room door, knocked twice and said my name. Shortly after Adra opened the door, equipment and travel gear completely off, standing there in front of me in her normal clothing. “You interrupted me. I was going to take a bath. What?” I peered into the room for a moment and was slightly astonished that only within a few minutes not only did she get out of her armor but her gear was sorted out properly in her room.

“Uh..I am going to speak to a Lt. Garress. He should have more info on what is going on in these parts. It would be nice to have someone else along, in case there is something you can think of to find out what I cannot.” She stared at me for a moment and then nodded. “Give me a minute. I do not want to be around ‘those people’ unprotected.. She then closed the door and only thirty seconds later did the door reopen as she was throwing her leather duster over her shoulders. Fully geared and armored…

We both made our to the back of the trading post where there was a troop of soldiers sitting around a salty looking dwarf telling stories. I caught only a bit of the story the dwarf was telling but only could tell you that it was deeply graphic pertaining to the highest levels of violence. This had the soldiers captivated as I noticed easily they were listening intently to him.

Apart from the men was Lt. Kesten Garress looking at a map all by himself. I approached him, patting my coat of arms, to which he looked up, faintly smiled to greet me. I introduced myself and Adra to which he did the same. I then briefly gave my sincerest apologies on how he was handled by the House, that it was unfair. He gave me thanks and appreciated that there were others within the House that cared. I did not want to get into detail, nor should I have in front of Adra but his matters were not one to divulge in present company. See Kesten Garress faced punishment for what I would say is nothing of harm. He, of noble house, fell in love with a non-noble born. I think she worked on a farm or something, I cannot remember. Though I do remember that his family came down hard on him for it and stripped him of privileges and he has been doing work well below his talent level ever since.

This is why I did not stay in the city. This is why I did not want anything to do with family political matters or influences. It’s the higher up snotty nobles (a few families excluded) that seem to make what should be a simple and easy life, hard and rife with problems. Kesten is a man who is an example of that. A good, talented man, who by the wrong circumstances has found himself in a less than fortunate situation.

Me and Adra asked Lt. Garress questions of what was happening within the area. He told us the bandit attacks decreased within the area but they were still happening. Someone by the name of the Stag Lord has rounded up the bandits and unified them, thus not giving the problem an immediate solution as to just warding off a small band. He then got into discussion that they were sent down here to protect the trading post and search the nearby area after word came that nearby bandits were cleared. Though there was a problem. They were deceived by someone they hired and were outed to other bandits nearby. The lieutenant asked that if we had the time to find this man, this Falgrim Sneed, to bring him in alive and questioning.

This whole time I couldn’t help but notice that Adra was writing as fast as we were talking and not hesitating even once while the information was being given. This woman’s attention to detail is amazing, I will give her that. As we were walking away, she gave me that hard look of hers. “Where is your information log?”

“My what?” As I gave her a troubled look. She shook her head. “Don’t tell me you go around collecting information, clues, and the likes without taking notes. It’s irresponsible. You must have a retainer of information and notes on you at all time.” Even if she was ridiculing me, I’ll take it. At least she was attempting conversation. “Well I am more of a visual person. Easier for me to retain things in my mind. Besides, knowing me I would only lose such a book. I would not wish to rely on one because of it.” Nor did her expression or tone go unchanged.. “Knowledge is power. You should learn to harness it. Besides I would hope that you would not rely on me to write everything for you. I am not simple scribe here to tell tales of your deeds or regale poems to the troubles of others.” She said that last line with a bit of hissing between her teeth.

“Woah lass, calm your nerves. I did not intend on such a thing nor did I mean any offense. I only merely thought that, well writing was part of your profession. I see you buried in books so much, I only assumed. Which might have been wrong. Look, I’ll take in your advice, I swear” I reply solemnly. She them seemed to cool down a bit, nodded slightly and briskly walked back where we then noticed Stonehands getting slapped by a most attractive young, elven woman, in tattered garb.

“What the hell is ye problem?” I heard Stonehands growl as he walked away. “Well I say, what did my friend do to get treated in that fashion?” I say towards the young woman. She smiled in a slight feline fashion at me. “He is a dwarf. That is enough.” I sat down across from her at the table. “You must be Jessi, aren’t you?” while I motion Sveltana for a drink. She kept that same smile fixed on me, never wavering.

“Can I interest you in a drink?” She relaxed her smile and nodded. “Yes, you can do that.” She and I had a brief chat talking a bit of the previous group she came down here with. Overall a motley crew of people assembled. However she did talk of kobold members helping establish a kobold nation to the south three days ride out, give or take. Then when I thought the chat was going ok, I began to notice a tinge of animosity in her words. There was the notion that what me and the group were doing, was wrong. That we were going to ruin the land. Plus the fey would retake everything. That I would be lucky if I were to get a gift from them. “In these parts…everything finds balance. You should be careful on which side your on when it evens out” she said. Then suddenly out of nowhere, someone came from behind me and scared the shit out of me.

“Do you know anything in these lands that we may lay claim to!? Or perhaps any beasts that need to be slain!?” Boris asked her, with much enthusiasm. Jessi gave him this perturbed look and scoffed at him. “See this is what I mean about you people” as she got up to leave the table. “Heaven’s sake Boris, you scared the hell out of me. Don’t sneak up on me like that. Great and you scared her away.” Boris looked at me with his all knowing smirk. “You were trying to bed with that woman, weren’t you?” I shook my head and walked away, noticing Adra writing in her book at another table.

“I am only to assume you were recording everything me and her were saying, weren’t you?”
Adra spent about half a minute or so finishing whatever she was writing in her journal, before she finally put her pen away and closed the book. “We need to visit this kobold camp. Take any records and information the prior group had. Plus if they still have their previous charter and anything else of use.” She just gave me that cold calculated look of hers, just awaiting a response. I felt like anything I could say at that moment would somehow be the wrong. I just stared at her for a moment, not exactly sure what to say. That either I was impressed with her assertiveness or that I felt somewhat uncomfortable that she was making note of every little thing I say and do. “Yes, first thing in the morning. We should head out to see what has been established in these parts.”

It was at this moment Stoney showed up right beside me, a small wooden bowl with what appeared to be mashed fruits in it, held up to my face. “Taste it. Its freakin delicious.” Who am I to deny the opportunity of when a friend coerces you to eat oddly colored mystery paste. He was right. It was delicious.

The night slowly dwindled down, people were tiring out. Adra kept talking to Sveltana and Oleg, writing more down in that journal of hers. I briefly overheard Boris talking to a fellow who had a missing leg, mentioning that he needed help killing a giant boar. A sparkle was noticeable in Boris’s eye when the man mentioned he needed something killed and there was to be reward. Oh our hunt, craving cleric. I just know he is going to enjoy being out here. Finally Stoney was talking to an old man who seemed as if his brains at this point were well passed expiration date. He did however give some information about the land. Plus the fact there was a haunted ferry/bridge. Another task added to the already growing list.

We finally all called it a night and awaited the next day. An odd thing happened that night though. I heard a slight shuffling in the room, amongst Stoney’s snoring. “Morgan? Morgan boy come here” I called out to my friend’s monkey. Once again, scaring the ever loving shit out of me, appeared Boris, by my bedside, finally illuminating a small light within his hand. “Fucking hell!” I turn and fall out of bed.

“This is the right time to hunt. Don’t you feel the awaiting wilds out there? You want to search around with me before we go back to bed and ship out in the morning?” I stood up and couldn’t help but give Boris a perplexed look. “First, I was already sleeping. Two, no I am not going out into the darkness in lands I know not of. Three, stop sneaking up on me.” He looked a bit down but nodded in agreement. “Yes, I understand. Plus it was foolish of me to even think of such a thing. I apologize. Your armor would pose to much of a problem to scout the land. You would alert any nearby predators to our location.” He then looked over to the still sleeping Stonehands, with his monkey sleeping, curled up on his chest. “You think he would want to go out?” Boris asked. “Even if you could awaken him, I highly doubt it.” Then a great idea came across my mind. “You could ask Adra. You know how much she loves getting a leg up on everything. Plus she moves very nimbly. Also, she has a bow in case you find any game.” Boris’s face lit up. “Of course. The woman is all for gathering information. What wouldn’t be better than to see these lands in their natural state, at night. Would help to know what is like before we actually set out into the unknown.”

I got settled back in bed as Boris opened the bedroom door without a sound. “See you in the morning. We have many a great things to accomplish” he said before he left. The door clicked close and I was finally settling into the spot I was in before. I couldn’t sleep now. I was upset that I was awoken in the first place. Oh well, I can rest on the wagon tomorrow I’m sure. Then from the next room over, there was loud scream of a woman. “Bastard!!” yelled Adra, followed by a hard thud to the floor. Ok. I think I can sleep fine now.

Adventure Log – Session 2: Forgs bring bad news

This expedition proves to be interesting.

First, we encountered a temple of Balinor inhabited by a bear cursed by sickly green crystals. I attempted to subdue it though non-lethal force, and failed. I prayed to Balinor and received his wisdom to cut the blight from the land. My compatriots laid the beast low, and I healed their grievous wounds.

Second, against the advice of the rest of the party I went off to have a drink with the fey who inhabit a nearby forest. I am attempting to follow the advice of grandfather, and have adventures worthy of sharing around the hearth when I am old and gray. It was exiting and new! They took my bottle of spirits and gifted me a magical messenger bird skeleton that grows flesh, listens to a message, and delivers it within to domain of the local fey lord.

Third, the scarred dwarf seems annoyed by the tradition of hunting and gathering provisions in the field. He attempted to toss me into a spring containing several delectable looking giant frogs. I maneuvered away from him, and contemplated hitting him with a sling stone.

Lastly, I received a message the my families estate was burned during a conflict between nearby factions vying for power. I wonder if this is true, or if this is an attack by the undead. I sent word to the Cisarovna strongholds asking for insight. Perhaps I should request the aid of my unit to look into things further.

Pilgramage Journal 2
Barnstorming the Greenbelt

Those next thirty days passed in a blur, drunken blur to be honest. I remember one point in a bought of drunken logic we went to the Church of the Silver Flame, to ask Lady Adra if there was a Silver Flame Store, because if there was a Silver Flame Store, that is probably where Cedric and I would be able to find Lady Adra. My lord I must have been blasted.

That month passed quickly and soon it was time to travel to the Greenbelt. They offered me a pony to ride, but I figured it would be more practical for me to drive the wagon. Interestingly Lady Adra had the foresight to pick up mule, though she didn’t seem intent on letting the group gain benefit of its strong back. Not too proud to carry my own wait, but I at this point was starting to question whether Lady Adra was hoping to teach me some kind of divine lesson.

It took us four days to make it to Oleg’s trading post. It is the hub of civilization for the area, and on the far north (I think) end of territory we are supposed to be exploring and civilizing. There was a garrison of troops, unless a garrison is an actual measure, in which case there is a chance it was a garrison outside the trading post. Cedric knew one of them and did most of the talking to the soldiers. It appeared that our predecessor had done a good bit of getting the banditry under control before the group fell into disarray. They even established trade, and military alliance with a kobold clan.

I was heartily surprised to hear all this, and announced I would go grab a table at Oleg’s to write our first report. To my surprise Lady Adra had one praising the work of the previous group already drafted. I took the report from her decided to just mail it off as a preliminary, and send my own in a day or so. I paid a beautiful elf (I think) girl to deliver the missive. I had never seen a woman with skin such a shade of blue before though. The woman tending the kitchen seemed happy to see her go.

I spent some time getting to know the others around the trading post. I met a man who was very focused on beating a bowl of berries. He had the look of a man whose soul was owned by a substance. I had seen the look before, back in the mountains. He let me sample some of the smashed berries, it tasted good, and I suggested Cedric try some as well, being more worldly than I, he would know better than I would if it were a substance to be worried about. He just commented that they did taste good. I guess we don’t need to worry about them.

The others about the trading post seem nice enough. Svetlana is married to Oleg, she is the woman I had mentioned before that seemed happy to see they gypsy girl leave. Old Poon seems nice enough I think the channels of time may have eroded a good bit of his mind. He did give us a few clues about the path the other party had taken. I suggested that seeing that the kobolds were the only remnant of the old group, we should go speak with them in hopes they might have a map from their travels, we could have or copy. We rode out to their hovel, or whatever you call a kobolds’ den.

May the Flame singe away my beard if I am lying about what I saw. The kobolds were mining! I still have troubles believing my eyes saw it. Let me start at the begging, we rode up on their territory and armed guards greeted us. Not ran off yarking to warn the entire brood. They didn’t start pitching spears and ringing a gong made out of scrapped armor from fallen adventurers. The guards greeted us, asked our business, and were helpful. We told them that we were there to see the ones that were with the party before. It turns out that there were two of them that had worked for the previous group, there. One Tictac is great warrior and is actually training the soot scales, look at that, they are actually smart enough to name themselves aptly, training them in sword play. While the other Nicknac is just dropping eggs it sounds like. They showed us the “shiny rocks” that Oleg has been trading them for, which seems to all be silver ore. They don’t seem to understand our liking the silver, but were willing to trade us equal measure ore for cheese.

It seems that one of the things the old party did was clear out an old sycamore tree, that either must be huge, to have some kind of housing built in it, or maybe is a marker for underground tunnels. The soot scales said they will be opening a new second colony there. Over all, I think this could be worked to our advantage to keep the kobolds placated. A large kobold infantry to be sent to defend the lands from invading insurgents could be a cheap and useful tactic, and if they are actually trained and armed, might even survive more than an initial skirmish.

Over all though, it was a very good visit. I think we learned a good bit of our potential allies, and they were able to pass word along to us on some of the areas that the former group had been too. It may also have been profitable because after we had left the soot scale homelands we came across what I believe to be a gold vein. It looks relatively untouched, so I chipped a few bits off, I couldn’t confirm if it was real gold or not without some proper time and tools, so I will do my best to determine when we arrive back at Oleg’s’. I wonder if there is a way I’ll be able to get the contract to mining the gold to the Clan. Not that I would necessarily be able to get word back to my loved ones… I might be able to see some old friends.

Pilgrimage Journal 1
Spalling the Clan

I guess I should start with how things got to be, how I got to be here, before I start writing out my pilgrimage. Just about three months ago I was working in my forge; well I was supposed to be forging a new helm for Blind Murdock. Anyway, I was going to etch eyes into the faceplate. Well I guess I should be honest about everything in here if this is going to be chronicling my religious journey. I was doing that and also trying to train the new Morgan.

I don’t quite remember how it all happened. I was washing up so that neither salt of sweat, nor soot of arm could contaminate any of the oils, etching materials, any of it. Morgan screamed, I heard one of the bowls of reagents break. I turned around, hands still scrubbing soot and burned hairs off. Then the pain in my hands, the pain in my arms, it was like I was rubbing lava into them. A loud woo noise, and I blacked out in the explosion.

I came to in one of the back rooms of the temple. I didn’t recognize the cleric who attended me; I tell you that more than anything made me wish we had Jorasco around these parts. They would have been able to fix my arms and not leave them rough slabs. No one was around, and I was sure the priests were informing the clan elders on my condition.

My arms were shot, which didn’t make it any easier to make it back to my forge. When I got there the place was a wreck. The helm for Blind Murdock was slag, most my tonics and oils and everything were roasted. Only a few pieces of armor remained on a display rack. I was not a clan armorer any more. I knew what was going to happen next before the word had gotten to me. Banishment, excommunication, explosion, whatever you want to call it, I was about to be ousted.

I began gathering my things. My tools that weren’t badly marred. A chain shirt was the only armor I could really pull on with my stiff arms so I took one from the display. When I turned to leave Elder GemEye was there, didn’t say anything about me taking the armor. He told me that he had asked my family to gather at my home, and then he corrected himself, what was my home.

Knocking on the door you have just walked in for six or seven decades is a depressing and jarring act. Then again, it wouldn’t have been as bad as if I had just walked in. If an outsider, as I was, an outsider, had just walked in my wife would have been honor bound to take my head for trespassing. My youngest boy answered the door and invited me in.

I said my goodbyes to my wife, my sons, my daughter(s), my home. I was not allowed to take anything for the house; everything I had owned was forfeit. No Dwarf would let a man go out into the wild open unarmed and hungry though. I was gifted the axes that I had used for so long, along with a few days bread, meat and cheese, and a small keg under my arm.

The journey to the city wasn’t a long one, that’s not to say that I would have wanted to walk it. The sun was setting when I had reached the road, and after a short time walking I was able to trade a wagon driver a quart of my boys mead for a ride to Brindol.

They dropped me off at The Broken Stilt, not that bad a tavern really. Their drink wasn’t as strong as what we had in the Hammerfist Holds. I got myself a room and put my … everything I owned in the drawers.

Days passed. I considered calling upon those I knew, that would have made me a charity case though. While I was close to those of House Garress, and a few others, there were few that I was social with. And, to my knowledge, none of them were in the city at this time. I determined that I was going to make something of myself again, or die trying.
Taking care of the easiest part first appealed to my Dwarven sensibilities, so I went to the undertaker and purchased a coffin for myself. That small step, having a small bit of control over my death so soon after losing my life as it were, actually did a lot to raise my spirits.

I went to the blacksmith next. With better motor control I am sure I could have crafted circles around him, at least if you’re talking about armor. He was a generalist though, in the mountains there was not much use for horse shoes. That being said, I offered to be an apprentice. I humbled myself, and said I would be willing to learn his, inferior ways, and the man said no to me. That damn fool sent me away like I was some bumbling drunk wanting to play with the bellows. Some people must not be comfortable with a dwarf with a coffin strapped to his back I guess. He certainly looked uncomfortable as soon as his eyes set upon me.

Crestfallen I went on my way back to The Broken Stilt. Do you know the problem with the wild open expanses not under the safety of a mountain, things are too loud, to open, to easy to sneak up on a fellow. Out from a shadowy path came a man I had seen at the bar before. I couldn’t prove it, but I know he had been following me. He struck up polite conversation, but quickly moved on to what he seemed to have intended to talk about the entire time; he suggested that I start trying to get my fine motor skills back. He handed me a broken pocket watch, and a few jewelers tools, and told me to take them they were mine in exchange for buying him a nights drinks and telling a nights worth of stories of the life under the mountain. He assured me that if I could get the watch working again, it would be worth at least enough to cover my stay at the in for a few weeks maybe.

Of course it was too good a deal to be on the level. Odds were that the watch was stolen and I was being set up to be an unwitting fence. That’s why I showed the watch to the bar keep, showed him the man who had given it to me with the suggestion that I trade it for lodging. Bertrand Sugarhand, is the owner of the bar, he agreed to let me stay till the end of the month if I could get it working.

I tell you it only took me two days of fiddling with the thing and I had it open guts exposed and all. Two days after that, I had it working again. I delivered the watch to Sugarhand, who held up his part of the deal and agreed to let me stay until the end of the month. What really made me happy was that I think I might have been getting some control back in my fingers. They ached from use bad that I damned the thing to Khyber, but as the two days passed, I didn’t drop the tools nearly as much. It clicked in my head to ask Sugarhand if he had anything I could work on. He rummaged through the lost and found, pulled out an old padlock missing its key, and tossed it underhand to me. Quick as could be I extended my arm and it bounced off my palm, tired numb fingers twitching sadly as the lock clattered to the ground.

Not having to worry about where I was going to be staying for the next while, I loosened the strings of my coin purse that night. I started by draining the remainder of the keg that StoneMug had brought me, and then I went to the Stilt and drank till I my teeth were afloat. I think I may even remember breaking into song with some halflings in the bar.

That night, when I thought things were starting going my way again, that’s when I broke down.
I won’t get into the details. Few mourn like a Dwarf, and few Dwarves have as much to mourn for as I did. When I finally rose, sobered…. Whatever the right words are, I was filthy, nude, wounded, lying in my own coffin, with my stomach growling like a rock slide. I pushed the lid open and squinted, the light overpowering my eyes. That’s when I saw in the grain of the wood as plain as the beard on my face, was an arrowhead flaming in the grain of the wood. Not literally of course, I mean the Silver Flame’s icon there! For me!

I cleaned myself up, showered, scrubbed, combed out the beard and hair and took my time rebraiding them. Unfortunately without a foe to fill the basin with, a good bit of the blood washed from the hair and beard. I had my clothes laundered got dressed, and walked over to the church of the Silver Flame.

The church was different than I had imagined it. The architecture was impressive, all high ceilings and arrow shaped arches. The decorations though, they seemed bare compared to what I had expected. I guess I wanted it to, or expected it to look a bit more FLAME-boyant.

I spoke with a priest, told him my story. Told him just about everything I’ve written down in here. I told him about my arms, about Morgan, my family even picking the locks. I don’t remember his exact words, was something along the lines of “the Flame doesn’t grant the wishes of those who sit idle and pray, it enforces those who take matters into their own hands, no matter how badly scarred.” Blah blah blah. Look forward, take action, the Flame heals. And I did look forward to the next thing he told me, the Flame would be sending an envoy on a mission for the Sword Lords, that they would be willing to suggest I join as well, and that speaking with the woman they will be sending to help the Sword Lords, a Lady Adra, would be helpful to me. The expedition would be leaving soon, so I started gathering the supplies I could figure I’d need.

Much to my surprise, s I was shopping, word hit me that the right lord Cedric Fellstorm of the service of Dal Ara had returned to his home in the city after some time away. I dropped my stuff off at the room and went straight for Fellstorm Manor. The men at the gate let me pass; a maid of all people stopped my progress though. Fortunately Cedric eventually got off his ass and told the woman who I was and to let me in. We made way to a sitting room and caught up. We drank and chat into the night, it turned out Cedric and I were scheduled to both meet with the Sword Lords about the same trip, so it just made sense for me to stay the night.

While, next to his father, I am probably closest to Cedric it was nice to see other members of the family. I knew them all; I had known the family, known Cedric’s father most of his life. I sparred with him, drank with him, both gave and received council to or from him. Cedric had taken to me more than any of his siblings, but it was still hear warming to see that his sister had grown into a beautiful woman.

The next day we met a few others that had been summoned. Cedric pointed out one that seemed to be scheduled at the same time as us. Said he was a big shot hunter, renowned family part of the sword’s line. I am sure I’ll get along with the man, assuming he lets me examine his armor. I’d say he doesn’t quite have the build I’d expect on a great warrior.

I was hoping to meet that lady Adra, the priest of the Silver Flame said she would be helping the Sword Lords, the expedition, and that I should probably get to know her, help her. The amassed people seemed to filter into a room, a new group every so often.

When we were called in it was a right formal affair. They announced the Hunter, Boris was the first name, not quite sure how to pronounce the last name. They announced Sir Cedric Fellstorm, and entourage! Don’t even get my name mentioned. While I can use that to my advantage, it is still a bit insulting.

Anyway, the lady Adra showed up and got her proclamation. We were told that the Sword Lords were sending down a few groups to settle some southern stretch of their land. We were to head down and make sure the other groups were doing their jobs, and help in any way that we can. Cedric immediately invited me to stay the month with him. I was happy to oblige, Fellstorm manner beats a seedy inn.

Adra's Journal: Session 2
A surly dwarf, green fur, and rabbit ears

Session 2: “A surly dwarf, green fur, and rabbit ears”

From the journal of Adra Kellen:

Dravago 7th,
Thorn River Bandit Camp
Late evening

Earlier today we had decided to push into the Narlmarches. We arrived at the forest’s edge late in the day and felt we could make it to the abandoned bandit’s camp by sundown. We took it slow as the Narlmarches are choked with vegetation, a truly wild and untamed place. Luckily, we came across a heavily used trail that led us to the camp. We had a bit of a start when we encountered a dwarf on the way; he menaced us with an axe in each hand. I thought that our own dwarf could communicate our business to him, but Sir Cedric took the lead and explained our intentions. At that moment we heard a familiar voice in that of Lieutenant Kesten Garess. He quickly told the dwarf, Kurgar, to stand down. Cedric dismounted and greeted his kin and updated him on our whereabouts. We learned that Lieutenant Garess and his men have made a few visits to this camp to ensure that it remains abandoned. Two weeks earlier Lieutenant Garess had encountered two men who were put to the sword. Both were presumed to have come to resupply the camp or were otherwise not informed that the camp had fallen.

Cedric continued to converse with his cousin, while Boris and Stone busied themselves with camp duties. I overheard Boris instructing some of Garess’ men on proper knots and woodcraft. I wanted to investigate the local area before setting up camp. I had found little remnants of the bandit’s camp; much was either plundered by the previous group, the men here, or by the wildlife. I did find a curious thing, a ransacked and ruined wagon which was used as target practice by the bandits or the men in Garess’ company. I noticed that the ground below the wagon had been disturbed and the wagon itself was pushed slightly off the trail. I planned to uncover whatever was buried under the wagon, but the others had become curious. I figured the dwarf would be comfortable digging, but Boris and Cedric also offered to lend a hand. Cedric and Stone struggled to move the wagon at first but were able to dislodge it from the mud it had begun to sink into. After a short time the pair had uncovered a small reinforced chest.

It contained:
A polished case containing several bottles of green liqueur (Absinthe)
Three furs
A small music box
Pouches containing gold and silver coins

The bottles of absinthe were a hit amongst the men and my own traveling companions. The camp continues to be quite raucous even as I write this by lantern. Hopefully, my companions won’t be too debilitated by the effects of the absinthe for tomorrow’s travel. I have looked over the maps and notes from Oleg’s and the Kobolds, the plan is to find the source of the Skunk River and explore the areas around it.

Dravago 8th,
The Narlmarches
Early morning

My fears were somewhat justified. The soldiers were a little worse for wear, while my own companions were in better spirits. Apparently they can hold their liquor a bit better than the average soldier of Rhestilor. I am also surprised that the dwarf Kurgar plans to accompany us. A mercenary like that may be useful to our little band. The problem is I am somewhat weary of his motives. To call him gruff or crude would be a great understatement, he is by far the most surly and ill-tempered dwarf I have ever come across.

Dravago 8th,
The Narlmarches

We came across a clearing today that contained the ruins of a temple to Balinor. It was in the motif of the Elk Man, one of Balinor’s more primitive avatars. The temple was carved into the side of a large mound of rock and natural cavern; this made the entire structure a hybrid of worked stone and natural earth. Boris was intrigued by this find; while he praises the Host in general he offers greater homage to Balinor. The temple, while ruined, had also been shadowed by some other force. We were eager to see what else the temple held and made our way up to the cave’s entrance.

Here we encountered a raging bear that had an unnatural aversion to Boris. Sir Cedric was able to keep the bear at bay long enough to let the dwarves flank it and for me to send several arrows into its chest. The bear landed a mighty blow on the paladin and he was knocked to the cave’s floor. Boris was attempting to cast several spells at the bear, but none of them seemed to affect it.

I believe his weakness, as most followers of the Host, is his reliance on his gods. We honor the Flame by our actions and deeds; we do not call on it for assistance in every matter we undertake. In times of need, we will call on its guidance, but to rely so heavily on the divine is a weakness of not only the follower, but of the faith. Boris did manage to heal our paladin and Kurgar was able to land the killing blow.

As the bear succumbed, it mutated in to the size and appearance of a withered old man. The man quickly aged before our eyes and fell to dust. I was terribly concerned that this creature may have been a lycanthrope but the evidence was to the contrary. I took a small sample of the ashes for further study. Cedric while still battered from the bear’s attack managed to find a hidden cache that contained a suit of enchanted plate mail that could take on the appearance of fanciful clothing akin to that of the gypsy folk of this land or more so the styles of the fey. After the death of the bear-man the temple lost the shadow that seemed to darken it. The debris of age and weather were swept clear and the pool that dominated the interior of the temple began to be filled with crystal clear and sweet water that appeared to contain some curative effects.

The rest of the day was without event and we continued to make towards the hot springs and source of the Skunk.

Dravago 9th,
The Narlmarches

As we continued to explore this section of the Narlmarches, Boris asked me to shoot a deer that was close by. I had no intention to hunt today and his request was uncalled for. I took a rather poor aim and fired, the arrow struck a nearby tree and the deer departed with much haste.

Otherwise the day was uneventful. Kurgar continues to show his worth, but also continues to make me uneasy.

Dravago 10th,
The Narlmarches

Another long day of exploration. We made camp rather early in the evening and I was happy to rest. One of my companions had heard music in the distance. Kurgar and I both agreed that it was safer to let whoever or whatever was generating the music to come to us. The three others disagreed and decided to investigate. I had protested, but the three began to leave. Boris came back for a bottle of absinthe. Now I understand their motives. Getting drunk in the forest is not only childish, but dangerous. It’s somewhat of a wonder that while Kurgar may not be the most polite or socially acceptable of our group he does seem to be the most sound of mind, atleast when it comes to wandering into the forest intoxicated.

Sometime has passed. I can barely hear the music they claimed to have heard. I think it might have been just the wind and natural sounds of the forest playing tricks on our senses. Kurgar has turned in for the night. I plan to keep watch as long as I can. I plan to give those three an earful when they return. How reckless can they be? Drinking and cavorting in an unknown and uncharted forest with the potential of bandits or worse lurking around every bend. It’s unbelievable.

It’s nearly the middle of the night and the fire needs to be tended if we plan to keep it through the night. I think I will finally turn in and have Kurgar remain on watch. I am a bit wary having the dwarf on watch, but I am far too tired.

Dravago 11th,
The Narlmarches

Surprise, surprise! The bumbling trio has returned. Well one returned and we found the other two not far from camp. Boris stumbled in at day break rambling about a giant snake and little women with wings. He was holding what looked to be a small articulated bird skeleton and claimed to have received it from these beings. He also mentioned a name that was familiar to me, Narissa, it was of the Fey. We should be very cautious in these woods if the Fey are this prominent and mischievous. Perhaps there are planar manifest zones within this wood? Both Thelanis and Lamania could be influencing this ancient place.

Cedric and Stone were both found just outside of camp. Cedric was covered in a green fur, that he quickly realized was indeed everywhere. Stone had the ears of a rabbit where his own should be. I administered several tests for lycanthropy and similar maladies. I also tested to be sure they were not shapechangers or dopplegangers. They were just cursed, likely of Fey origin based on what Boris had described. This is why you don’t go off drinking in the forest that is besieged by Fey!

Currently Cedric is bathing in the river and is ‘grooming’ while Stone has just covered his aberrant ears with a hood.

We investigated the small bird that Boris ‘found,’ we deciphered the magic that held it together and found that it could send a message as long as it remained within this land.

Dravago 12th,
At the forest’s edge, The Narlmarches

We are currently camped at the forest’s edge. We spent the nearly two days exploring the area and found the source of the Skunk River. Hot springs and other geological phenomena abound in this part of the forest. We came across a hot spring that held two giant frogs. Boris was eager to slay them, but the rest of us protested. There was no need to unnecessarily hunt these creatures. It was very possible that they could have attacked us, they were large enough to potentially be a threat. Boris and Stone then began to argue over attacking the frogs and Stone nearly tossed Boris in to the hot spring. Although it was in jest, it was also foolish and reckless. I had no intention of getting soaking wet or doing battle with giant frogs. Stone in his lapse of reason would have potentially caused both to happen. Luckily Boris was able to squirm out of the Dwarf’s grip and get a safe distance from the spring.

After the two calmed down we continued to push forward to the plains surrounding the forest. Here we have made camp and plan to make our way back to Oleg’s. We have decided that traveling through the forest would do more harm than good and so we will follow the forest’s edge around and back to the trading post.

Dravago 13th,
Northeast of The Narlmarches

Stone’s appearance has returned to normal, well atleast for a dwarf. His ears are no longer in the shape or size of a rabbit’s. The distance from the forest must have broken the curse, or perhaps his appearance will return once he enters the forest again.

Today we stopped to investigate a large berry patch and pile of stones. Stone, Boris, and Cedric rode up and began to harvest berries and uncover the nature of the stone pile. The pile happened to be a grave. From what I can tell the deceased was dressed in tiger hides. After they realized that they had uncovered a grave they set about to replace the stones. At that point I approached and sanctified the burial mound.

Dravago 15th
Oleg’s Trading Post

We have returned to Oleg’s Trading Post. I have never been happier to see a ramshackle frontier outpost in my life. The dream of a warm bath and clean clothes has nearly been realized. As I write this, I can hear Svetlana pouring wonderfully hot water into a bath.

Before I could request my bath and laundry, however, we met with Lieutenant Kesten Garress, who had been back for several days. He had some dire news for Boris. His ancestral home had been sacked in the ongoing conflict between the noble houses. House Garess and Medvyed have been warring for some time now and the conflict has finally taken a more violent turn. Boris was understandably upset by the news, but wished to finish his business here before sending word back home. We confirmed with Jhod Kavken that the temple we found was inhabited by a former priest of Balinor, cursed with defending the land from bandits and newcomers. Jhod has offered his services if we ever require them.

I may add a few more notes this evening, but I have more pressing matters to attend to.

Kurgar's Musings - Donkeyfuckers
So the new afterbirth arrived...

In the greater scheme of things, I think that if the gods exist they have a sick, twisted sense of humor.

While on patrol with Kesten and a couple of his lads, the replacement mouth-breathers arrived. Though to be sure, in the case of one or two, it may be an insult to mouth-breathers. The sheer amount of noise they made approaching the camp should’ve had bandits from Brindol and the Greenbelt riding hard to cut their throats and slit-fuck the bloody wound.

As it was, had not Kesten recognized one or two, blood would’ve been spilled as they seemed to think that I was one of the bandits that infest this forested hellhole. That’s their first of many mistakes.

Per our usual patrol schedule, Kesten and the lads rode north back to Oleg’s. I elected to stay behind with the new lumps and make sure that they didn’t kill themselves, or, and this is much more likely, get killed by doing something of such monumental stupidity that Kyber itself would weep.

So far, I’ve not bothered to learn their names. Why bother when it’s inevitable that they’re going to do something to get killed?

The one that claims to be an inquisitor perplexes me. She’s either always writing in her diary, or she’s putting arrows into a bear’s eye from about 50 yards away. “Dear diary, my ass itches. Oh and I killed a bear…”

The new dwarf seems competent, but he sucks up to one of the other manlings. Though to be honest that particular manling does seem to be able to handle himself. Perhaps he’s not the water-headed, mouth-breathing, inbred, donkeyfucker I originally thought he might be. Then again, I did see him making moon eyes with the inquisitor’s donkey…

Guess that manling and the she-manling both like donkey dick.

Speaking of donkeyfuckers, the last new human seems to be a holy man of Balinor who suffers from mania and a complete lack of appropriate emotional response. He tries to have a hand in everything that goes on in the group, and I’m surprised I haven’t felt his hand wiping my ass for me during my morning shit.

After we returned to Oleg’s, he received a communique that his ancestral estate had been destroyed. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t ride hell-bent for leather to find out who was responsible, who may have died, or who survived. He simply listened with a drooling disinterest and then offered to sell some blackberries to Svetlana. After that, he apologized to Oleg for frightening him with his sickening magic bird message carrier.

It’s obvious that this manling’s head is way too far from the ground, and I’ve got a strong feeling that he’s going to come to a satisfyingly nasty end.

This is going to be fun to watch…

A Most Divine Task?
The Gathering

A Most Divine Task

I managed to hurry up donning my garb, weapons, and plate mail for the sake of courtly appearances. Me and Stonehands walked and talked, catching up, him filling me in on our potential comrades to be. “So yea, I saw your name, mine, a Cisarovna person and Inquisitor Adra. I was told that this Adra is also of Silver Flame. I tried to see her earlier but couldn’t find her at the church” On the walk to the grand meeting in the hall of the Sword Lords, he explained a bit that he recently took to joining the Church Of The Silver Flame and in turn would get a reward. He didn’t want to discuss the matter much but promised later when there was ample time, he would do so.

“Wow so there is a Cisarovna to join us? That is good to know.” I said to him as he told me of the names. “Yea, says right here Sir Boris Cisarovna. So you know the name eh? He famous or somethin?” he said. “Well I have not heard of him specifically. His family name definitely. Great family of hunters. They have a penchant for the undead. Also high nobility as well. I believe they are directly married into family of the Sword Lords. Oh and their house is devoted to the pantheon of the Sovereign Host” I tell him. “ Yea well nice then eh? You get another Host buddy to tag along with and I get someone from my order as well. I jus hope this Inquisitor Adra lass is swell. Ill say this, the little time I have spent with the church though, seem a whole lota tham hava a stick firmly placed up thar arse” he remarked. I chuckled at his accent changing midway through. I will never not find that funny.

We finally get to the place, with a crowd of nobles flooding in, a slight mix of odd assortment of folk that looked like they could be tradesmen and mercenaries. This is a different scene. While we were making our way up the steps to the central hall, which was essentially a waiting room, Stonehands started to giggle a bit. “Oh crap, something just hit meh. There is a whole lotta nobles present and such. Does that mean I have to address ye as Sir Cedric?” I looked to see Stonehands smiling. He knows I partially dislike being called that. “I take it your going to be condescending when you say that aren’t you?” I glance at him, while I search the crowd of people arriving into the central hall.

“Now whatever would ya mean Sir Cedric Fellstorm. Aye couldn’t eva speak to a mon of your reach, noble blud in such a tone” he said condescendingly in his changing accent. I jabbed my elbow lightly against the side of his head in jest as we were then greeted by an approaching figure. I could tell just by his walk, the way he carried himself, he had a certain air of confidence about him. To an extent that some might mistake it for cockiness. He had a fixed sly grin on his face, like he knew something that others did not.

“Hail friend! I notice by your coat of arms that you are from Garress, of the Fellstorm line? You wouldn’t happen to be Sir Cedric would you?” said the man. “Aye this is Sir Cedric Fellstorm!” Stonehands said quickly, giving me a mocking grin. Ooh I know he is going to be annoying me with that all day, I just know it. I held out my hand to the man, “Yes, I am Cedric, by your crest I only assume you are a Cisarovna?” The man, who had a medium build, stark blue eyes, short jet black hair, wooden cross worn around his neck, complete mithral armor, a decorated cape of the Sovereign Host, with sword and shield .“Boris Cisarovna, cleric extraordinaire, hunter of undead and foul beasts by trade, at your service” as he shook my hand. “Well you already know who I am apparently, Cedric Fellstorm, paladin of Dol Arrah. Well met Sir Boris. Oh and this is my friend and our other companion. Stonehands Bloodbeard, armor smith, poor monkey trainer by craft and professional drinker of anything that could blind a man in a pint of consumption” while I pat Stonehands on the back. He looks up at me to glower while holding his hand out to Boris. “Oh Sir Cedric, you honor me with your kind words, that you give such a lowly dwarf as I, a stunning, if I dare not say, an epic introduction” once again in a dry tone with his eyes squinted. I chuckle a tad shaking my head at his response.

Boris looked at both of us with a bit of a puzzled expression. He just remained smiling, shook Stonehands well…hand. “So now that I have found you both, were is this Inquisitor?” said Boris. “I dunno but I was by the Church Of Silver Flame earlier but they said that she stormed off in a fury around morning time. She might just show up out of no where, I dunno.” Stonehands said with a shrug. “So this Inquisitor Adra is of the Silver Flame? I am to take you are part of the order as well Mr. Bloodbeard?” Stonehands gave the cleric a bit of a sour look. He disliked being addressed as “Mister” as much as I disliked being addressed as “Sir”. What can I say, him and I are weird like that.

“Yea I am of the order. They told me that they were sending another one of us to this summon of thee Sword Lords. So I went to go find her and it turned up bupkis” Boris looked back at the gathering crowd. “Well I do hope she shows up. We are to be summoned soon by the Sword Lords” he said.
Boris went back to a group of people nearby decorated with the same coat of arms as his while me and Stonehands waited patiently. “Kid called me mister. I don’t like him” he finally said. “Oh calm down, he was just being polite” I reply back. “Oh and I am not a poor monkey trainer, I will have you know I trained dozens of fine helper monkeys!” as his voice started to raise.
“If I remember, when I visited you years ago to have my armor made, a monkey of yours actually fell into forge while handing you vials. There is a reason you had to train dozens, they keep dying.” Stonehands shook his head. “Not my fault the damn things are clumsy. I train them fine though. I will show you the new Morgan when we go back to your place later.” Ah my friend and his penchant for primates. “This one better not throw poop and start fires. I also remember that being a personality quirk of another one your monkeys when I was a child” I said.

A house speaker told everyone that the Sword Lords would be holding attendance and anyone who had anything to do with them were to prepare themselves. Me, Stonehands, and Boris handed our letter of summon to the speaker and he said it would only take a moment. Not long after that, we were to enter The Sword Lord’s chambers when introduced. The speaker came to the front entrance of the chamber and bellowed “Sir Cedric Fellstorm of House Garress” as I approached. “Sir Boris Cisarovna, of House Cisarovna” the speaker continued as Boris followed closely behind me. “Stonehands Bloodbeard, Order of the Silver Flame” with Stoney shuffling along keeping up with Boris and I. All three of us looked back and there was nobody else. After a few seconds, which at the time and place felt like a drawn out hour, the speaker yelled out again. “Inquisitor Adra Kellen, Order of the Silver Flame.

The female who appeared before us was decently tall for a woman, just a bit under six feet. I could tell, even underneath her pristine leather riding jacket and loose silk clothing, that she had a lithe and surely well toned build. She had blond hair that stopped just at a little above chin length, in a style that accentuated the well formed bone structure of her face. Her eyes, green as malachite, were piercing and the most apparent feature about her in general. This though is were all the lovely female pleasantries ended. Though she had a body that could easily have a swagger to her walk that would make men stare, she did not. She walked with a serious, militant purpose. One of which showed she meant business and business only. Her eyes, though lovely, had a fixed, far gaze. It looked very similar to how some soldiers develop the “thousand yard stare” after a long and fierce battle. Though it was the look on her face that sealed it. Upon her face she wore an expression that was so cold, so hard, that by comparison, made steel seem brittle. She walked up beside us, fixated on the Sword Lords, not even once looking at or acknowledging anyone else.

The Sword Lords appeared before us, in all their regal glory. Leaders that attain rank by prominence in battle, they were surely an order that I had the utmost respect for. To take on a quest from them is an honor and a privilege. I could tell by Boris’s face he felt the same. Stonehands seemed partially indifferent. This Inquisitor though, I…could not pick up anything however. The Sword Lords ran down want they wanted us to do. With hostility rising within the kingdom, there needed to be a safeguard. We were to go to the Greenbelt out in the Stolen Lands, apply order and see what there would be to settle, and how conditions fared. This would be done in an effort so if the country to the southwest of Rhestilor were to attack in the event of a civil war, there would be a buffer there. We were scheduled to depart in a months time and all traveling needs paid for in full. All four of us bowed, nodded, and left the chambers.

Outside all of us gathered and discussed what we had just told to us. “Well, a whole month till we depart. Gives us time to relax and prepare ourselves. You and I have more time than I thought to catch up” I say to Stonehands. “Yup, yup. Ya know what that means. Got got a lot of drinking to catch up on” beamed Stonehands. “I did not hear of our reward for this task though. I understand the importance but what of payment? Or is there to be some when its complete? My family rarely ever handle tasks like this for free” said Boris lost in thought. “It’s your duty within your house and your country to do your job and not expect coin!” snapped Adra. All three of us turn towards Adra in a bit of shock that she finally even spoke.

All of us noticed Inquisitor Adra turned away from the group and went to marking down notes in a journal of sorts that she pulled out of I know not where. She was heavily invested into the book and not all into the conversation. I walked toward her and than began to hear that she was muttering under her breath “Damn nobles. Get everything handed to them and yet they expect more. Pompous fool.” “Hello there miss, pleasure to meet you. Cedric Fellstorm, at your service” I said nicely with my hand extended for a handshake. She stopped writing in her journal and briskly put it away into one of her many pockets inside her coat. She eyed me up and down, still with little to no expression on her face, stared at my hand and then back at me. “Sir Cedric” she said with a nod, while finally shaking my hand. Stonehands and Boris stepped up to introduce themselves in the same manner as I. She looked at them in the same way she looked at me, in a harsh judging manner. Though unlike me, she simply stepped away from their outstretched hands, and walked away from the group. “Man what a frosty bitch. See what I mean about the others in the church being like that. Stick. Firmly. Up. Ass” Stonehands growled. “Now whatever did I do to upset her? I dare say that is not the proper way for a woman to act, let alone someone within our group” said Boris.

“Well I have no clue but it appears that I did not pose an issue to her” I said to the two while watching Adra disappear down the street. “That must mean she likes me. At least definitely more than both of you.”

“Which is an issue I want to talk about pretty boy. I know how you are with the female types so let’s get one thing straight. Whatever you do, please, don’t fuck her” Stonehands said to me with a serious look on his face. “Whatever do you mean? Did you see how she acted in general. Modest respect towards me maybe, interest though? I think not.” I reply back. “Ya right, I seen a sour bitch all the sudden melt like butter in front of you. Don’t do anything. We have to work with her, we don’t need any drama or conflict within this group” with Stonehands firmly poking my chest with his finger. “No, trust me, I would not. She is simply a member of the group and nothing more. Besides I am not at all attracted. Woman has the warmth of a winter breeze.” I assured him. Stonehands sighed at me and nodded his head reassuringly. “Well good, just don’t go poking your manhood in anyone that could stand to cause trouble while we are doing this task”

Boris was looking at us with a slightly appalled face while we were talking. “You two should stop talking about things like this in public. Especially you, Sir Fellstorm, a paladin of all people. Where is your vow of chastity? I would have expected such talk from the dwarf but you?” Boris said with an authoritative tone. “Ooh cause all dwarves are sleazy eh?” Stonehands barked. “My vows say nothing of chastity Sir Boris, besides I am sure your family has had more than many of the similar encounters than I have” I also reply.

I made sure to step in front of Stonehands for Boris’s safety. “I mean you are a family of hunters. Constantly travel out to hunt into other lands and reaches. Be honest, its not so farfetched that while traveling abroad that you and your brothers share a night with, well….a broad?” I say with a chuckle. “No such thing, I assure you” Boris said with a straight face. Stonehands stepped out from behind me, smiling at my previous remark. “Oh I dunno Cedric, I can totally see that. Them going out to hunt down a mythical beast that is making trouble for a small town. During their time in the town, they end up finding a nice lass. Before they know it, they are messing with a different kind of beast. The beast with two backs”

Me and Stonehands crack up laughing, we tried to get Boris in on it but he just shook his head. “Look, we are a proud and noble family. We do no such thing. If we could put this matter behind us I would ask if you wanted to come visit and stay at our family’s grounds for the month.” Boris said as he calmed down. “I appreciate your hospitality, though I will stay at my family grounds. I have much catching up to do with some family and my dear friend here” I motion towards Stonehands. “Maybe later though you can catch up with us for a drink at The Broken Stilt”. Boris nodded, with that all knowing smile returning to his face. “It would be a pleasure. What of you Mr. Bloodbeard? Do you require any lodgings?” Once again Stonehands had that looked that being called mister would bring. “Naw, I well be wit Cedric and ’is famileh for da time bein” he replied with his accent becoming mixed yet again.

Me and Stonehands parted ways with Boris and set off to my family residence. The first night he finally told me of everything that has happened to him. About becoming horribly scarred from an accident, no longer being able to work the forge properly. For his ailment, the dwarves of Hammerfist Hold did not seek to aid him but instead exile him. They had him leave almost all of his possessions, his family and his home. Watching my friend tell me this story while a few tears of his streamed into his cup of mead, a realization hit me. I could comfort my friend all I wanted. I could say anything and everything, though as bad as I felt, I would never understand his plight. I left home 13 years ago and never stood in one place for more than two months. Though even as a child, I was traveling a lot with my father and siblings. So I never felt like I had a true home. As for family, as much as I love them, I truly do, it was different. I had not spent much time with them over the years and missed out on a lot of important moments in their lives. Stonehands however is much older. Over a hundred to be sure. In all this time he even had a family of his own. To be forced from your parents, your wife of about 70 odd years, and even your own children. This was something I could never understand. In that moment my world felt very empty. Maybe…just maybe after all of this is settled, after our task with the Sword Lords is complete, I might settle down. Try to establish and do good in some other form. Leave it to another person to show you just how much you are missing out on.

For a whole month, I partied, relaxed, had fun. Stonehands loosened up a bit too. Boris even visited a few times on occasion to The Broken Stilt and had a few rounds with us. It was good. After a few pints any tension or questions that were there, melted away. Then we were all singing and having a good time and found common ground with each other. In all the time, we never once saw or heard from Adra. One night me and Stonehands got drunk then decided to find her at the church and ask her if there was a Silver Flame store. Yes, I know. Alcohol skews the thinking process. Much to our dismay, she was not at the church. Nor obviously was there a Silver Flame store heh.

The month sped by in a drunken blur of which I can only assume most of which was a good time. Stonehands and I packed up and were dropped off by the stables near the town gate, who was waiting there sitting and writing in her book, our Inquisitor Adra. “You are both late” she said sternly. Stonehands gave me that certain disgruntled look of his which I quickly waved off. “Our apologies, for which we will make up for immediately. She pointed to a wagon, horse, a few stable-hands, and a royal officer nearby. The officer gave up the letter of edict to show to anyone, if need be, the nature of our business should it need to come up. He then discussed that there was a trading post about a three days ride out that they have not heard from for about a month or so. So if there was anything to establish first, it would be that. Sir Boris then rode in on a horse of his own with a small carriage behind with a small trunk of his. “I cannot wait to leave. Behind city walls for more than a month makes a man grow claustrophobic. Plus I need a good hunt soon..” I greeted Boris upon his horse and told him of the Oleg trading post which was mentioned to us prior to his arrival. We all didn’t notice but Adra had apparently went into the stable and appeared with a horse of her own, all saddled and prepared. She looked Boris dead in the eye “You are even later” to which she followed with a sigh. “Plus your inclination that you think you are to go off on a hunt would be poor judgment on your part. We have a job. Let’s stick to it.”

Boris shot back the response “My god demands hunt soon. I wish to appease. I am sure we can find some agreement to come to on the matter soon.” It was then she finally showed a different expression. A harsh sneer. “Oh right, your god Balinor…how…quaint “ she remarked. “Ok now one thing first, lets find this trading post, then we shall put on a list of things to do” I said trying to ease the tension. Everyone quickly made sure to verify that their belongings were loaded onto the wagon and everything was set into order. Adra immediately rode out ahead on her horse with Boris slowly following. Stonehands took up the reins of the wagon as I settled next to him in the drivers seat. He cracked the reins against the horse to get the wagon moving and we began a steady pace with our other companions out of the city, into the awaiting wilds.

Stonehands sighed dejectedly while looking at our other comrades. “Vhy iz it that I feel they vill become most annoying. “Well Boris’s isn’t so bad. A bit battle hungry for a cleric but overall a nice fellow. He was fine when we all drank together” I said. “Vell anyone is fine when zey got booze in zem” he said in his mixed accent. “Adra though, I don’t know. Even if she isn’t loquacious, she is of your order. Regardless, knowing her type, she will do a lot of good on this quest” as I smile. “It will be fine Stoney. I am sure of it.” Stonehands forced a smile at me. “I am sure your right. Two members of The Silver Flame, two members of The Sovereign Host. Looks like we got ourselves here a most divine task” he said. I smiled back at him and then stared out to the road that would take us onward to our journey. The short silence was cut by the sound of a screaming monkey in the back of the wagon, apparently locked in a trunk. “Awww dammit. Cedric can you go back there and help Morgan out. Forgot I locked the little guy in there”. I closed my eyes and sighed. Now there is the one thing on this quest that I know will annoy me.

Kurgar's Musings - Pignuts

Those gorbellied, pox-marked, so-called Sword Lords of Rhestilor have sent me new dispatch. It seems that they, in their infinite stupidity, have decided to send another group of mouth breathers to the Stolen Lands in an effort to expand their odiferous plans of world conquest.

By Arawai’s muddy twat, I hope these misbegotten pignuts are an improvement over the last. Though to be honest, as long they know one end of a sword from the other they’ll be a gods-damned improvement over those other sheep-shagging joitheads.

It’s inevitable. I’m going to hate them all.


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