King of the Stolen Lands

Into The Maw Part Two: Fall Of The Stag Lord

Into The Maw Part Two: Fall Of The Stag Lord

     We all traveled south for about an hour and looked at the intimidating fortress ahead of us. It was already midday which, what we felt, was an inopportune time to strike, if not infiltrate. We would have to garner victory with albeit cheap tactics since we were told the number of the Stag Lord’s men was far greater than ours. We five agreed it was best to wait till the sun started to come down before we head to the front gates. Until then, we remained off to the side, surely (hopefully) out of sight from anyone who would be able to spot us if they were to look out from atop the fort’s walls. We sharpened our blades, checked our gear, and those faithful said their prayers. Those not faithful simply glowered, smoked and awaited what was to come.

      It was a bit after dusk when we finally approached the fortress with wagon in tow. Two bandits near the front gate looked at us and bandit one immediately shouted out “Who goes there?” I stepped off the wagon, approached the gate with a sly grin and said the password “By the bloody bones of St. Gilmore, who wants to know?” The first bandit who already begun to train his bow on me, pulled back harder on his string. “Who wants to know? I want to know! And who the fuck is St. Gilmore?” the first bandit said. A dark, sinister looking man walked up behind them and slapped the one bandit across the back of the head. “That was the password dumb ass. Let them in.”

     We all were let inside the front of the compound to be introduced by said sinister man Dovan and a tall and partially unintelligent looking man Auchs. Right then and there, first time since I have come into this region, I found myself stricken with white, hot hate. My senses were warning me about these men, that they were corrupted to the core. I had to keep cool and play it all off. They both still seemed stand offish and asked of us and what we were doing here. Kurgar stepped forward to introduce himself by full name to which garnered a few looks and nods. “We have heard of a few things of man named Mourngrim. A few bloody and dangerous things” smiled Dovan. Stone and Boris introduced themselves without their surnames while Adra it seemed was playing the role of mute. Dovan peered at me. “You? Who are you and why did you think you could just walk up like this?” I adjusted my sly grin into a full on smile. “Name is Sniff. We got word from a few of your boys gallivanting around that you were in the business of hiring folks. Plus we heard of your Lord’s affection for booze. So figured we start off on the right foot and take the job.”

     Right after that another man walked up behind them and scolded some of the bandits who were now looting our caravan to deposit everything into storage. The grim looking man who had a certain stature to him, gave me a hard glare. Odd thing about this man, he was the only one I have looked at in the compound who did not set off any of my senses. “So Sniff….how is it that you got our password and location from our other members so quickly?” said the man. “Hey, I dunno, maybe they aren’t that bright. We said we were looking for work and they gave us the rundown” I replied.

     “Sniff?” said Stonehands. I turn to him and keep up the act. “Yes?” The look on his face, coupled with his bulging eyes seemed to be giving me a sort of ‘what the holy hell’ look. His expression smoothed out as he was getting the cask that held the few bottles of absinthe we had left. While doing so we heard a surely man from atop the fortress. We see a large leathery looking man in an elk helmet who began to shout out.

     “Akiros! These…these men say they have booze? Excellent. Reward them, Bring it here. Dovan, show them around!” Stonehands came forward and presented the cask of absinthe to the grim man referred to as Akiros, who now seemingly was staring rather long at my shield and then gave me a small nod and walked away with the absinthe. Ah such a shame. Such fine booze to be enjoyed by a vile man that we were planning on killing before it can completely pass through his system. Such as life.

     We were shown around the place by Dovan while his slow friend Auchs stumbled away elsewhere into the fort. After the brief tour Dovan pulled me to the side and had a small chat with me. “So Sniff. You must be able to smell a good deal when you hear one. How about it?” Standing face to face with a man who is enveloped with taint makes it partially difficult for me to control myself. Years of service has turned my distaste of corrupted beings from dislike to pure enmity. I knew if I slew the man here and now it would destroy the ruse we set in place. So I kept up the false smile and asked him what he needed. He laid out a deal that compromised of slaying the grim man Akiros for a hefty sum of gold. “Take care of him any way you can, just don’t get caught. I don’t need the Stag Lord thinking I am up to anything” he said. I said I would look into it, then proceeded to find my group who were lounging in the common area.

     I use the term lounging in that Boris was simply small talking with a few bandits at a table while Adra, who was still covering her face with her hood, sat in a very tense manner, eying everything around her. Surely cataloging and arranging profiles of everyone she was spotting. I plopped down at their table and when we finally had a moment of piece, talked with them. “Their Lord has probably already taken to drink. We have probably an hour or two before everything seems right to go.”

     Adra’s eyes locked onto mine. “This place is vile. Everyone here needs to be put down. Not just the Stag Lord.” I nodded back at her while taking a little bit of the ale from a keg they had on tap in the common area. “Yes for the most part. Though there is that man Akiros which I get the impression he might not be entirely like these men. His attitude and the way he caries himself is different. Unlike the dark looking fellow I was talking to, who actually hired me to kill him.”

     Boris perked up when he heard this news. “Hired? So a reward then. We can kill this man and earn some gold in the meantime. Excellent. Where is he now?” I cocked my head to the side at Boris. “Why would I take gold from a clearly evil man to kill the only non-evil person here?” I gazed at Boris using my senses to make sure he did not turn. Alas nothing. Though his lust of reward and killing makes me cautious. “Ok well we will simply capture him. The rest need to be put down” proclaimed Adra.

     “Yes this place needs to be cleansed with rigouts fire” Boris chimed in. “You mean righteous fire” said Adra. “Don’t be silly. I speak of rigouts fire. Blessed, divine flame that cleanses the unpure” replied Boris. I saw the twitch in Adra’s eye and a slight vein begin to pop up. Oh goddess no. “It is righteous fire. Rigouts is not a word!. Also it is not unpure, it is impure! Seriously is your vocabulary just as inept as your god?” as her voice was steadily raising. I could see that her scathing words cut deep. Boris stood up and yelled back. “You put me down, challenge my vocabulary and question my God. The threshold of your ignorance and arrogance is becoming tiresome!” A few drunken bandits turned to us and started to chant “Fight, fight, fight, fight.” Great. Just great. “Look, you two stop arguing over such trivial matters. This is silly” as I took a swig of ale from my cup. “Focus. Anyways where are the dwarves? I almost completely forgot about them."

     “Yes your drinking is starting to have an effect on your short term memory” Adra coldly said. “Please I am quite lucid.” Boris finally sat back down and looked calm again. “I do not know where Stonehands is but Kurgar is out on the top near the south watchtower.” Just at that moment Morgan began trotting to me, holding up a cooked pig snout and proudly presented it to me. I wonder if this was a jab at the fake name “How about this. You keep that if you show me to Stoney, eh?” I said to Morgan. Morgan made a cute little sound of satisfaction as he nibbled on the snout while he lead me to his master. “Do not worry. I will keep an eye on Adra while your gone, to make sure she stays safe.” I thought I heard grinding teeth from her direction as I left the table.

     Stonehands was in the back of the fort in what appeared to be a small armory with a small bench and tools. In front of him on the table was a set of leather armor which looked far better than any of the armor the regular bandits had. “Did you repair this Stoney?” as I threw my arm around him to get a look at it. “Looks pretty nice.” Stone gave me a somber look. “This is nice? This be shit. I used to craft masterpieces” as he raised up his scarred arms. “I need ta get betta at dis. No matta wut” Poor Stoney. His skill was his identity. Losing that made him lose so much more on top of that. I knew with in time he would heal and knowing how diligent he is, without a doubt he would get better. “Speaking of getting better, you gotta work on your lying. I mean Sniff? Really?” I chuckled a bit at the remark. “I thought it was perfect. I mean criminals usually have stupid nicknames. So I picked a stupid one.” Stoney smiled at me. “Out of all the stupid names I have heard, that one takes the cake”.

     “Really? Cause there is someone in the common area by the name of Fat Norri. You know why they call him that. Cause he is fat. Your telling that isn’t stupid?” Stone put his hands up. “Ok point taken. Just next time pick something less stupid.” Stonehands eyes grew large and his energy picked up a bit. “Oh almost forgot. There is an owl bear down stairs. Just a heads up.” “How could you almost forget about something like…you know what never mind. I will let the others know.”I gave Stonehands an update on what the plan was, to make sure that we were still on track and that I had a suspicion about Akiros I needed to confirm. Stonehands told me that for all intents and purposes that Akiros seemed like kind of a decent guy from a short introduction. Decent guy for a supposed cold blooded criminal that is. Stoney pointed me to where Akiros was and went out on the top of one of the watchtower to look for him.

     I made my way up the steps still with stein of ale in hand and decided to approach still pretending to be a barfly. You know, pretending might be stretching it I realized. Eh. “Bored staring into the nothingness I see.” Akiros paid no bother to me at first and after a few awkward seconds finally responded. “On watch detail. Which seems like a whole lot of nothingness.” I wanted to pry info on this man but he seemed a bit reclusive. It seemed I had to open up a bit. “Yea I remember my nights on watch. Nothing you would do much during academy training. That and scrubbing floors” as I took a swig from my cup. “You had training eh? Same.” I decided to amp up the drunken buddy routine and just see what happened. Worst case scenario I had my shield already strapped on and my sword at the ready. “Ya know I thought serving a good cause, a higher cause would have been great. Tales of grandeur and such. It is tiresome of trying to do the right thing for some being that doesn’t care much about you. Then you end up in places like this, doing anything to get by.”

     Akiros turned and looked at me up and down, once again staring at my shield which I had painted the mark of Dol Arrah. He turned to look up at the moon. “Yea I served once too. Those days are done.” He just then began to brood to which I took as a sign to leave him be. Everyone I have met so far seemed so jovial of their position. This man was clearly not in their same mindset. He could possibly be redeemed.

     I made my way down the stairs in the common room to meet with everyone sans Kurgar who was still not present. “So anyways the time draws near. Where is Kurgar? We need to prepare” I said. “Stonehands told us of an owl bear in a pen. Releasing it would prove to be a great distraction” said Adra. “I originally only thought about having you, Boris and I go to the Stag Lord’s room, we would wait at the bottom of course. Then for Kurgar and Stoney to handle our flank. I do not want a pissed off owl bear in the mix.” Stonehands raised his hand. “Ugh…owl bear sounds like a great distraction. Plus why can’t I kill the Stag Lord. I got axes. I could like…sever his head in one go. “I need you on my flank Stoney, please.” Boris leaned into the conversation. “I can release the owl bear from its pen. I can sneak in and do it. I can blend with the shadows like a fierce shadow cat. It will be easy. Give me five minutes and you will know when to attack.” I did not want an owl bear on the loose but my group seemed adamant that they use the creature in our plan.

     I looked around only for a few minutes when I finally was able to spot Kurgar on top of one of the watchtowers smoking. While walking there, an untidy man rudely bumped into me, almost on purpose and without cause. “What an asshole. What was his problem?” I said to Kurgar. Kurgar with his pipe in hand simply shrugged. “He is an asshole. That is his problem.” I relayed the plan to Kurgar as he put away his pipe and other smoking contents, to which the whole time he seemed rather displeased. “I rather not deal with a damn Owl bear. I haven’t fought one, nor do I plan on doing so anytime soon.” I could not blame him. Almost a dozen men versus the five of us. Only thing we would have is the advantage of surprise. Kurgar and I walked back, ready to get into place as we heard shouting from where the owl bear was being held.

     “What is your damn problem?” shouted a gruff voice. “I just wanted to see the owl bear. Magnificent creature it must be. I wanted to know what it looked like” I faintly heard Boris. “It looks like an owl and a bear. Now get away from the pen!” shouted the man. Shortly after Boris came back to the group and shook his head in defeat. “The guard they have on detail is a man with uncanny perception. Nobody will be able to pass him.” Kurgar rolled his eyes and sighed. “Look. Everyone just get into position. You want a distraction, I’ll cause one.” I told them if able that they spare Akiros, to which I had one last duty to attend to.

     I walked with an increasing pace to where Akiros was and wanted to give him a heads up. Dear goddess I hope I am right about this man. “Yes?” he said to me without turning to even look. “I need to tell you something. Dovan paid me to kill you tonight. Obviously I am not going to do that.” He raised his eyebrows at the news and nodded approvingly. “Thanks for being up front. Dovan…might need to be dealt with then.” I turned back to head to my party and finally stopped to deliver one last message. “Oh another thing. Stay away from the sleeping quarters and the owl bear pen tonight….” Akiros eyes widened a bit and for a moment I thought he might decide to strike me down there. “Well. Good to know. You should really…get going then and try to have a good night here.” I saluted him and ran back to the group.

     It was now a little after midnight as we began to unfold our attack. Me and Boris were stationed at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Stag Lord’s room, with Adra at the top, right at the door, with doorknob in hand. Stoney and Kurgar were in the sleeping quarters behind us. It was a drawn out tense moment which was finally cut with the sound of a man letting out a blood curdling scream and Kurgar screaming. “You want my pipe! You can have my pipe!” he bellowed. Adra took cue and opened the door during the moment of violence and closed it behind her, with me and Boris ready to move with no hesitation.

     What got me next is that there was no sound of fighting that followed. It was….laughter? I could only make out Dovan saying something about not liking the guy, presumably the one Kurgar slaughtered. Huh…I wonder well of a distraction that would be if there were all just laughing at a mans death. Before I could contemplate on the thought, a loud gurgled scream came from the Stag Lord’s room. “Kill the new group! Kill them all” I heard Dovan order. I waited there for a moment from the stairs and did not hear anything else. Adra seemingly had done the job. I turned to face the bottom of the stairs and saw the large man Auchs rip the banister from the wall and clobbered Boris with it, sending him tumbling down the stairs. I drew my blade and with divine indignation I slashed the large man He responded in such with hitting me square across the chest with the banister which when it hit me, my armor’s glamor faded. While the Auchs simply stared in a mix of confusion and awe, I used the moment to spill his intestines out with another sweep of my blade.

     During this moment a few things happened. I caught a glimpse of Boris, finally gleefully chopping a mans arms off declaring that ‘he did not arm himself properly. Dovan escaped from the main fray up one of the other stairs past me in a blur. Then a large creature shrieked and bounded out of the pen after Kurgar. Dammit someone released the wretched thing. Quickly as we could, me and Stoney went to help Kurgar who was currently wrestling with the creature, axes still in hand. Tough bastard. Then the oddest thing happened at that moment. Looking a bloody Kurgar fighting to stay alive in the grips of the owl bear, gave me a flash of Darius being attacked from those orcs years back. Kurgar at that moment seemed to gain a second wind, to which I felt like I was gaining Kurgar’s wounds. The empathic feedback slammed by body with pain and I could now taste iron. I shook off the cobwebs and moved again, only to see Stoney going to town on it and then Kurgar finally slamming one of his axes into the owl bear’s neck.

     For a moment it felt like silence in the quarters where several slain bodies of bandits and a large owl bear laid. Boris just stood silent, focusing his energy and light pulsed from him, healing our wounds. Everyone then noticed there sounded like people still fighting, battling above us. We heard a man let out a loud, piercing scream and then a hard thump followed. We ran up stairs toward the sound and saw Akiros slumped against the tower railing, standing over Dovan’s corpse. There was a sense of amazement there for a second, I think the group was trying to register what we all saw. I quickly rushed over to Akiros who looked to have suffered grievous wounds. I helped close up the more serious wounds on the man with my own divine aid. He gave me a weary look and nodded. “Just tell me it is all over.” I turned to look at Adra who was now with us and she gave a confirming subtle nod. “Yes. Yes it is. The Stag Lord is dead.” He pushed himself to a more level stance. “Good. Now excuse me. I…I need to be alone” as he wandered off.

     The group then split up and made sure there were no stragglers left amongst the fort. Adra walked me into the Stag Lord’s room and proudly pointed to his corpse. There he laid, one arrow in his throat, and one in his chest. Double tap, impressive. “I wanted to make sure” she remarked pointing to the second arrow. We walked out and descended back down stairs. “One guy got away. That Sneed guy. Saw him taking off on the horse. Cut the other horses loose” said Kurgar. “He is all alone, his time is running short” I said.

     Boris stood there in the middle of the bloody aftermath, with that usual smile of his returning to his face. “Was a good fight. Nothing presents a better hunt than man. Especially evil men. Can we now cleanse these departed ones with rigouts fire?” Adra stepped up with her mouth open ready to yell at him yet again. I quickly put my hand on her shoulder to pull her back. “Please. Just let him have this moment.”

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Adventure Log – Session 5: Balinor's Will Be Done

We found an idol to Balinor in an unkempt and overgrown glen. The local wildlife avoided the area as they fear Balinor’s hunt. We spent the better part of a day clearing the overgrowth and consecrating the ground. Balinor was pleased and offered his blessings upon us. My mind and soul is pleased at this find.

Upon further travel we encountered a swampy, overgrown ruin. The ruins were inhabited by a frogman and his impressively fearsome fanged giant amphibian. I would think that the frogman was a druid of some sort. I bartered a bag of narcotics for a gem. We made friends and agreed to a nonaggression pact.

The frogman gave us directions towards the wild boar Tuskgore. The fiend appeared to be altered though some fey or demonic energy. It had a crewel and deliberate intent, and a wicked intellect. I believe that it was either an awakened boar, or more likely a wereboar. I was mauled rather severally by the fiend, and I felt the protection wash me clean of an impending infection. Perhaps it was grandfather putting in a good word for me. Tuskgore’s layer was decorated by disturbing artwork in blood, on stone and wood. I thought that artwork would be interesting and valuable to collectors of such things, however we burned the area in rigouts fire.

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Pilgramage Journal 3
Regreting Clever Titles Already

May a gaggle of grue make their home in the beard of whatever dwarf that decided we should exile our lowest cast, our thieves and mentally deranged. They clearly didn’t think of what that would do to the image of the Dwarven race to those who don’t live under the safety of a mountain. I have managed on this travel to meet the off spring of one who must have been kicked out a few generations back, and clearly has never learned the way to act in the company of others. We met the lout heading into the brush after we had found that gold vein. He was traveling with the group of soldiers House Garress was in charge of. He was standing out in the field that had been one of the bandit camps that the other group had cleared out. When we came in view he began to twirl his weapons about. While I know many military groups use these dazzling displays to show their prowess with a weapon, I have not seen the fancy weapons display really equate to fighting skill.

Riding toward the Dwarf before there was time for things to escalate one way or another, Garress called out that he knew us and that the men should stand down. I guess the dwarf does make a fine enough distraction because I hadn’t seen the men coming out of the surrounding woods with their bows drawn. Happy to see that we were not bandits hoping to use the campsite, and us happy to see that the campsite had not been picked up by new bandits, we had all decided to make use of the site for the night.

Boris right off the bat started making proclamations about how he would teach the troops tricks with their ropes and setting up camp. The soldiers seemed happy with this, especially seeing that it seemed to my untrained eye that Boris was basically just setting up all their tents for them again. We surveyed the area, everything seemed well cleared out. Eventually figuring out that he was just doing others work for them, Boris decided to investigate a broken down wagon that had been left at the camp. After repeated efforts to find a use for it, none of which panned out, some loose dirt was pointed out; someone had clearly dug something and planted the cart there to make sure no one could easily dig it up. Cedric and I put our backs into it though, and give it a mighty shove, and the soft earth fell on my ass.

We hunkered down real good though, and gave her another push and the wagon slid over enough where I was able to dig up. The bandits had buried their good stuff, not wanting to lose it to one another in the night. We found a bunch of bottles of Absinth, some firs and earrings and a nice music box. Garress’s men cracked one of the bottles open right away and began to pass it between one another, as did Cedric and I. The night passed in song and food, with enough men to keep the watch that everyone got a chance for good sleep.

In the morning the Dwarf, Kurgar declared that seeing that he was supposed to be getting his money by working with the parties that are working for the Sword Lords, he would be joining us. I can’t say that I was beaming at the idea of having someone so… rough around the edges. We travelled deeper into the brush and came across the most interesting cave. It had the face of what at first I assumed was the Stag Lord over it, but as we approached I knew that know bandit king would be able to arrange for that level of craftsmanship in a mountain side. It was the face of Balinor, Boris’ god himself; though the priest didn’t speak much on it. I can only assume he was deep in silent prayer.

I assume he was praying because a bear shuffled out and seemed to lay eyes on Boris right away. He of course prayed at the bear and the thing just became enraged, I swear the thing tried to cover its ears. Figuring a lost church of Balinor might be the perfect place for some kind of intelligent bear to make its den, I offered the thing a pair of my ear plugs. Boris continued to pray though and the bear ended up going at him. Cedric put himself between the bear and Boris without putting any thought toward his own safety. I don’t want to say that his big heart makes me proud because I want to slap the lunk-head for endangering himself. I took up the flank behind the beast, it managed to get a good swipe at me while I climbed the stairs though; was a nasty swipe of the claws but nothing as bad as Cedric got. I didn’t see him go down, thank goodness. I don’t know how my heart would take losing that boy now. Flame preserve him when I heard he fell I realized he is really the last bit of my old life I have left, and I don’t think the family would take too kindly to me after I deliver his fallen body to be with his ancestors.

Throughout the fight Boris kept on praying, which kept angering the bear. I didn’t see any other results until he presented his holy symbol and my wounds were healed. That alone makes for me to not be able to hate the guy, but I was really starting to question why the great hunter was not hunting and was just praying. Maybe I am just taking to the way of the Silver Flame quickly; I wanted to see him in action, not trying to get his gods to fight his foe for him. I am not sure what the others did exactly; the ass of the beast for the most part blocked my view except for Boris who was away down the stairs. The fact that a few arrows fell from the bears corpse as it began to melt away and that the other Dwarf was standing there as Cedric regained consciousness make me figure they were probably steadfast in the battle and not willing to abandon us fools who rushed into combat.

I was going to say anything when we first had beat the bear, I mean, I had heard of the creatures before, but I had never fought one, so I wasn’t sure if bears melting was a normal thing. I mean, I really figured it wasn’t, or at least that there had to be ways to prevent it from happening. I had seen them stuffed and mounted. Think I even made some armor out of one of their hides once. It was confirmed for me when we got back to Oleg’s, not that I want to get ahead of myself. But I guess the man was a former priest and was cursed to be a bear or something…. All in all I think I would rather not make too much more a habit of visiting the cave.

We did make our way into the cave, or chapel, temple? Look I never took a religious studies class, we went into the place where the holy once happen and it was not that bad though. It seemed that along with the outside and the water fonts and such purifying themselves, the inside was cleared of the bears taint as well. There wasn’t too much special in the cave, but while Cedric and I searched the place he paused and looked at a large font on one wall and walked over to it his eyes seemed set on his hands. As he washed his hands his own blood, and the blood of the bear, of his fallen prey mingled with the water until it seemed the whole thing was filled with thick blood. Then a small panel in the wall slid open revealing a set of armor that I will forever make fun of the look of. Cedric looks so dainty with the leaves covering his tender bits. I did admit to him that it was indeed a fine set of armor. I made comment to Boris that night that it was benevolent of his god to reward Cedric or his keen heart and his handling of the bear, despite Cedric leaning toward others of the pantheon.

Two days of travel with him hadn’t quite endeared me to him, though I guess I will say after what happen that night (Dravago 9 for the record) well after that, in the morning he wasn’t the last thing I would want to see. It all started with us setting up camp that night. When we were setting things up music started playing, coming from the woods all around us. Boris had decided to investigate, thinking that it might be gypsies or bandits, or something that really I wanted nothing to do with, but I didn’t think that we should let the ummm… the … our healer wander off into the woods at night on his own. Further inciting my own personal ire, he took one of our bottles of absinthe. Cedric and I went after him, and things go weird. The forest was odd, I had to push past the vines of the willow trees, which I hadn’t noticed any of before and then again, I guess I didn’t get that close to the trees.

So if you’re gonna follow a fool into the woods at night, and you have a compass in your bag, grab you compass! We ended up wandering through the woods, through some horrible swampy mud that would have swallowed me whole if it got a chance I swear. I had never felt malicious earth before, but there was something about it that time…. I was able to lead Cedric and me through dry spots though, while Boris seemed to always be rushing ahead. Fortunately we crossed a river after that, which was good for washing away the mud off us, but oddly my axe seemed to get caught in the current no matter what way I faced. Finally after fording that, we made our way to a rickety rope bridge. Boris just sprinted across it like a man under a compulsion. After seeing a board fall under his foot as he scampered across Cedric and I refused to go any further. Boris went forward without us, and we wished him the best of luck. We turned away, tempered our nerves to face all that again, and ended up slipping down a ditch that I hadn’t noticed before and well I guess losing consciousness.

Even in the warmer months, when you are outside, and the sun is down, when the morning dew forms and leaches your body heat away, there is only one thing that can keep you going; non-verbally consensual platonic cuddling. Adra woke us up at the edge of the edge of the camp, not sure how we made it that far, but it looks like we had something looking out for us. We had to prove to the Lady that we were indeed ourselves though. While I won’t fault the lass, I think it is a bit paranoid. We proved ourselves to be ourselves and Boris came bounding out of the woods looking none the worse for the wear. He proudly showed off the gift he received, and produced a skeleton of a small bird. I tried to spot any dried blood about to show if he had hit his head but I couldn’t find anything. (Later I saw just what exactly the bird was, but I’ll get to that when the time is right.)

Then again, to be honest I am surprised Adra accepted us to be us as freely as she did. When Ced and I were returned from the forest we were…. Altered. Cedric was covered head to toe in a soft green fuzz. Closest the boy has gotten to a full beard yet. On the other hand I was given a pair of rabbit ears, I assume I wasn’t given the fuzz treatment because even the silly fey respect the fecundity of my beard. Cedric went off to shave his face and the hair almost instantly grew back. Fortunately enough I guess, when he touched his cold iron sword the fuzz withered and fell away, so he got a cold iron blade from somewhere, certainly hope he didn’t try to shave with a long sword, and that time it seemed to take.

Like so much of life, the situation was not as bad as those I chose to spend my time with made it. I got used to the ears twitching about rather quickly, except for the fact that they seem to press themselves against my head every time I catch Adra looking at me. Her nonverbal scorn might be a bit scarier than Boris’ snickering and Kurgar going on for hours about having to cut the ears off. How they’ll probably grow back like the fuzz and he’ll just keep cutting them off for me; saying that the ears would be nice and soft for wiping his ass. Yeah, dealing with that may have put me on edge.
We rode for another night, until the scent of warm sulfur started bubbling up from the air.

We had found some hot springs. Adra was happy to get a warm bath at long last. I wouldn’t mind letting the muscles soak myself, and while Adra might be a bit bony, it has been a while I wouldn’t complain about getting an eyeful.

Any way all our hopes of enjoying the pools were shot when we noticed big ass frogs lying at the bottom of the pools. We all surveyed the land finding a lack of clear pools or little else in the area we would have been able to just move along, except for Boris’ desire to eat some foul, sulfur marinated meats, and as best I can figure, he is hoping to get credit as a hunter with his family by taking credit for our actions. As he continued to whine about the lack of hunting we do, so I figured the frogs aren’t gonna do anything to him while there in the water, and the easiest way to get a moments peace would be to throw Boris in. Unfortunately I figured wrong.

As we rode out, we I spied with my Dwarven eye a thicket of berries. Boris who wasn’t eaten by frogs, dear reader, I am sorry I was only able to give you that short moment of hope, began to do the only hunting I have seen him pull off which was fill his shirt with berries. While he busied himself with this I found a large stack of stones. I wasn’t sure if it was one of them burial rock things, we don’t generally have that under the mountain. But it is good to see that some of the people of the great open have smarts enough to get under the ground in death. I used my Omni-tool to pry up some rocks and found a body. I was going to cover it back up but the green ring on the finger of the corpse caught my eye. I mumbled an apology to the departed and left him a few old to replace the ring. As I slid the ring onto my finger and felt a rush of water flow over me, and the smell of the river, I had an idea. I turned around and Boris was in my face, bits of berries splattering my face as he spoke. “What’s that ring you got there? Let me pray to Balinor he can tell me what the ring will do for you.” He stood there still for an uncomfortably long moment then spoke. “Oh yeah, that ring will help your ability to swim, you’ll swim with at least plus five more skill with that on.”

Dumbfounded I suggested we head back to Oleg’s.

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Adra's Journal: Session 4
Session 4: “The Stag Lord is dead”

Session 4: “The Stag Lord is dead”

From the journal of Adra Kellen:

Dravago 25, 817
The Tuskwater Fort/Former stronghold of the Stag Lord
Late Afternoon

My part in this is nearing an end. We, no I, single handedly defeated the Stag Lord while he was under the effects of the green liquor we had offered up the night before as tribute. The others made short work of the remaining bandits, though they failed to apprehend the one bandit that we sought to catch…but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start from last night.

We had entered the fort under the guise of bandits. Cedric took the lead as he does and we followed his plan. Now to call it a plan is being rather generous. We knew we had to put down these criminals, but we couldn’t conspire in front of them. Stonehands quickly made friends as he impressed them with his knowledge of armoring. I soon heard hammer upon anvil shortly after he wandered off. As for Kurgar, he ingratiated himself the only way he knows how, by looking for a fight. Cedric meanwhile went about gauging the men and detecting if their souls could be redeemed in this life. He found one that had promise, the man who nearly saw through our façade last night, Akiros. From what I can tell he appears to be a man who’s fallen into this lot to survive, he appears to take no pleasure from being here. I could see Cedric speaking to him as I sat with Boris at a fire pit just outside the remains of what would be the central building of the fort. Boris never left my side, he was certain that I was in danger. He knows nothing of what dangers I’ve seen.

I observed the bandits and began to notice their behaviors, faults, weaknesses. They were organized, but there was unrest. There was an obvious hierarchy and some didn’t enjoy their position. We could have used this angle if we had the time. At some point Cedric returned, we discussed a plan to strike at the Stag Lord while he and the other men slept. This method, while not exactly the most honorable knightly thing to do, was very close to the idea I had. I figured if we cut off the head, the body will die. Cults and criminal organizations are very similar. Leadership is necessary to maintain order, without it personalities clash and the inevitable power vacuum makes for an excellent time to strike.

I should also mention that during my time observing the camp, I also heard the howls of an Owlbear. Apparently these idiots kept one caged up near their lodgings, another thing that we had to contend with. We considered letting it out of its cage to create a distraction, but then we would need to kill the thing.

Our plan was set into motion as several of the bandits went to bed down. Kurgar approached one and delivered a brutal coup de grace, yelling about a pipe and if the victim of his assault still wanted it. Apparently, the deceased had tried to intimidate Kurgar into giving up his pipe and tobacco. Not wise.

The commotion of his assault let me slip past the majority of the men. The Stag Lord’s quarters were just past the central room of the building. I heard Kurgar continue to yell and carry on while Cedric and Boris followed somewhat behind me, but stopped to support Kurgar when the unavoidable melee began. I was able to enter the Stag Lord’s room without a sound, easy enough when a dwarf in the other room is shouting vulgarities.

The Stag Lord sat upon a mound of furs and skins. Empty bottles littered the room and the only light came from a candle that sputtered as it ran to the end of the wick. The man appeared as though he had leather armor on; as I approached I saw that it was just his skin. He wore a leather kilt, gloves, and a massive elk horn helm. It was clear that he had drank himself into a deep slumber. I saw no evidence of consciousness, so I approached. I climbed up on the mound of furs and took aim with my bow. I silently began a prayer. It was obvious he had suffered greatly, scars and healed wounds covered his body. His hands were gnarled and had been broken at least a dozen times. He must have endured years of torment, torture that started at a very young age. A shiver went down my spine and I pulled my bow taut and let loose an arrow. It traveled through his throat and pierced his spine. A terrible gasping and roar emerged from the man. I reacted by firing another arrow, this time the Stag Lord went still. I finished my prayer aloud and heard the sound of combat erupt from down the hall.

As I made my way to the hall I heard another roar, which was far more feral than that of Kurgar, but not by much…The Owlbear was released and had joined the melee. I had only a few targets left and fired several arrows. Combat ceased shortly after the Owlbear was put down. We took stock and the only survivors were a poet that Stonehands was infatuated with and Akiros. Akiros had put down Dovan, one of the more despicable criminals, and was quick to give us our space.

We took stock of the dead and found that Falgrim was not amongst them. Apparently he had made a quick exit when the fighting began. Boris began to strip the dead of anything of value, going as far as to investigate the innards of one of the bandits that was torn apart by the Owlbear. Kurgar was more interested in getting some rest and took the bloodied cot that the man he killed was in out under the stars. Stonehands began to retch as he saw the remains of the dead being stripped by Boris. Cedric and I made our way back to the Stag Lord’s room and was rather impressed by the arrows sprouting from the lifeless body. We took a quick inventory of the room and piled up anything of value. I took some time and was able to identify any magic or other special properties of everything we found. I took particular interest in a bow that leaned against the bed of furs. It had a slightly heavier pull than the bow I had and it was exquisitely crafted. I decided that I would carry it.

We compiled a list of the items we found and reconvened with Boris and Stonehands. We took care of the dead and I placed wards on several of the corpses including the Stag Lord so that they would not rise as undead. I had fears that this fort may be cursed, since the fields surrounding the fort supposedly contained the walking dead.

After dealing with the bodies and assuring they wouldn’t rise, we took a short rest. The morning sun was a comfort. We spoke with the poet and Akiros, both seemed relieved that the Stag Lord was dead and they were free of the others. I am still weary of the two, even if they didn’t share the same pleasure of looting and pillaging as the others, they still participated and should be treated as criminals, not allies.

They alerted us that there was a mad man in the cellar of the fort. They claimed that the Stag Lord kept him there and tortured him daily. We decided to investigate and we were immediately attacked by the mad man. He began to cast magic that revealed his Druidic training. He shapeshifted into a badger and had summoned several creatures to impede us. We were able to send the creatures back to Lamania or Thelanis. The druid took an arrow from me and was unable to cast anymore magic, I think the arrow may have collapsed his lung. He buckled under his own weight and I stabilized him. Cedric and I bound him so that when he recovered we could ask him some questions. After taking care of other business at the fort, Cedric and I returned to the druid. Cedric healed the man with a touch of his hand and the crazed druid regained consciousness. It was clear after several minutes of questioning that the man had suffered greatly. He had revealed that he was the father of the Stag Lord and reacted positively to the news of his death. He had little else to offer us and Cedric offered the man a final mercy and took his life with a swift motion of his sword. I had already turned away. Providing an end to suffering is the right thing to do in any circumstance, even if it’s ending a life. This man was not living; he was being tortured daily at the whim of a lunatic, barely kept alive. His actions against us were his dying actions. I don’t believe he would have survived his attack on us, even if he was not grievously wounded.

As we searched the cellar we found an overabundance of supplies, trade goods, and equipment that the Stag Lord and his men had stolen. It would require several wagons to move the goods and we took note of the contents and quantity.

Kurgar was nowhere to be seen as we returned from the cellar. Akiros told us that Kurgar rode off muttering about getting paid. He was a true mercenary, but I could understand that. The charter we were given had been all but concluded. Banditry had been put down and the Greenbelt was nearly completely explored. My time in this land may be approaching an end as well.

We took another short rest and I write this in the late afternoon. Our group discussed how we should proceed and Cedric declared he would stay at the fort while the rest of us returned to Oleg’s. We planned to deposit the corpse of the Stag Lord in the river at Nettle’s Crossing. Cedric insisted on staying even when we had learned by way of Boris’ terrible messenger bird that there was even more dire news concerning his family. Cedric was resolute, but I knew he was upset. It was the first time I had seen him tense up and take on a serious demeanor.

So the plan moving forward is to deposit the corpse, and ride hard to Oleg’s.


Dravago 26, 817
Soot-Scale Tribe Caves
Early Evening

We left the fort early this morning. Cedric assured us he would be fine. I felt uneasy leaving him with two ‘reformed’ criminals, but he was certainly able to fend for himself. Stone was even more concerned, but I figured it was due to his unease traveling on horseback. We left the wagon behind to make better time traveling back to Oleg’s. We made our way towards the Soot-Scale Caves since we knew it was familiar territory. They invited us as guests and champions when we told them that the Stag Lord was dead. They offered us food and drink, but I insisted on eating my own rations. It’s a real wonder how organized these kobolds are. Fascinating creatures.


Dravago 27, 817
Ferry Crossing
Late Morning

I am making a quick note. We delivered the body of the Stag Lord to Nettle’s Crossing. Stonehands had suggested we just throw the body in, but I argued that we should alert the abomination of our presence. I rang the ferryman’s bell and he appeared as he did before. We presented the body and tossed it in the river. The ferryman began to dissolve or dissipate into nothingness leaving only his spearlike weapon behind. Boris waded into the river to retrieve ranseur of the ferryman, now at rest. Another soul at rest…


Dravago 27, 817
Oleg’s Trading Post
Very Late Night

I write this as the others are already asleep; Stonehands had just returned and fell asleep almost as soon as he hit the cot.

We arrived at Oleg’s very late. We rode hard from Nettle’s Crossing and made it to the trading post in a day. We rode hard and it appears we beat both Kurgar and the wayward bandits we sent north. Oleg was hardly awake as we spoke with him about our success at the Tuskwater Fort. He assured us he would speak with us in the morning. While the others saw to the horses, I managed to see Kesten Garess. I had one of his men wake him. I felt the matters were urgent enough to alert him before the sun raised. As I confirmed his commitment, Stonehands approached and asked if he had any letters for Cedric. Kesten looked grim and procured a small parcel from his tent. Stonehands accepted it and quickly, but carefully opened it. He swore, or atleast I think he did as he said something in Dwarven, in response to what he read. He looked extremely upset and asked if Kesten could speak with him in private. I obliged since my business was complete, at least with Kesten…


Dravago 28, 817
Oleg’s Trading Post
Morning

I’ve only had a few hours of sleep. At dawn, I started my day with a quick run from the Trading Post to the third mile marker down the road and back again. It helped clear my mind and gave me the much needed boost I required to get through all of my tasks for the day.
My first order of business, after freshening up, was to speak with Jhod. I wished to speak with him yesterday, but it was far too late to wake him. I spoke with Jhod as he ate his breakfast and told him of the fort and the undead problem. He agreed to accompany us to the fort, though he wasn’t prepared to leave that day. I restated the urgency and he agreed to pack his things immediately.

Kesten had finished mustering his men and was directing those staying with the Trading Post, last I saw him.

As Stone and Boris finished their morning routines and any business they needed to attend to I managed to draft several letters concerning our progress.

One letter was addressed to the Sword Lords and informed of our success at the Tuskwater and our current progress and an estimate of when we would be finished exploring the Greenbelt.

Another letter was addressed to the Sword Lords and the local law concerning the treatment and processing of the criminals we have encountered. It listed the number at the Tuskwater Fort and descriptions of those that we exterminated.

A final letter was addressed to my contact within the church in Breland. It contained a copy of my progress letter and discussed my further necessity in these lands. I am sure that I will be relieved soon. All my tasks I was charged with are nearing completion.

My final business included restocking some of my supplies and readying my horse. I spoke with Oleg once more about our find at the fort and he estimated the worth of the supplies, it was far more than he could manage to purchase. However, he did say that his suppliers would certainly be interested. We would need to work out those details at a later date.

Hopefully our return trip to the fort will be as quick and uneventful as our trip to Oleg’s.


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Adventure Log – Session 4: The Stag Lord’s father

After cleansing the keep, proper, of bandit filth we delved into the root cellar. There we encountered The Stag Lord’s father. The senior Stag was an impressively insane and violent druid who displayed respectable martial and magical prowess. He assaulted us by shape changing and summoning acid spitting ants the size of ponies. The fighting was furious and quite more deadly than anticipated.

In the root cellar we liberated goods valued at thousands upon thousands of gold coins. We left a small contingent with the goods while the remaining unit moved on to Oleg’s Trading Post. Along the way we placed a restless soul to peace be bequeathing The Stag Lords remains to his watery grave. Upon reaching Oleg’s Trading Post we sent word of The Stag Lords demise, and requested troops to aid in securing the fortified abbey.

The Sword Lords are sending an inspector to confirm The Stag Lord’s demise, and to bring us a reward of some sort. I am hoping for a prestigious medal, or title . . . perhaps a knighthood. We have a playwright hanging about, perhaps I could hire him to write a play casting us in proper heroic light.

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Into The Maw Part One: Interlude

Into The Maw Part One: Interlude

      We all spent the night back at Oleg’s, which upon doing so brought about a few rumors. One big one that caught the attention of our group was one of a creepy castle to the far south of the outpost near the Tuskwater river. The party wondered that if this could possibly be the spot in which the Stag Lord resides or maybe even a dreaded fey by the name of Narissa which recently has begun to pop up more. I relayed to the party that we should play it by ear and give it a look. I told them that I wanted to search more for this Falgrim Sneed, who was also said to be located to the far south. My belief was that the Stag Lord was rounding up bandits and Sneed was a bandit himself and most likely his family. Maybe that Sneed would know precious information about the Stag Lord. I just wanted something, anything, before laying an assault on a mere whim. It was decided that we would leave the next morning for the trip out.

      That night I could not sleep well. Hearing the news about the brewing war to the north was on my mind. The thought of my House and possibly my family were in the latest siege,was causing me to stir endlessly. I got up out of bed and sat in the chair next to it, which slung around it in its scabbard was my trusty sword. I picked up the sheathed, cold iron sword, grasped it in my hands, and knelled forward on it like a cane while still sitting. “Could be worse man. You could be out there with everyone” spoke the voice from my sword. “That is exactly what troubles me. That I am not there with them” I softly spoke back. My friend Darius, well my long expired friend Darius was the voice that was speaking to me from my sword. I won’t get into the strangeness of it or nor do I really know the exact method of how he was doing it. Years ago my friend fell in battle and with his last breath he took his sword, chucked it to my feet and said “Keep it you bastard”. Shortly after taking it, I was still able to hear his voice in my head when I held the weapon. So ever since then, it has been the only sword I have ever used. For many reasons.

      “So what, you finish up here, run home, join daddy and your brothers? Oh then you get to throw yourself into that stupid war and just get yourself killed. Oh you should definitely sign up for that.” I pressed my head to the hilt and sighed. “I know that is what it sounds like to you but its more than that. My family could be in trouble. If they are, I have to help them.” Darius grunted and laughed in that condescending laugh he always had. “You noble types, for family this, for our house that. A stupid cause is a stupid cause, no matter how you dress it.” Sadly he had a good point. As much as the thought of my family now possibly being at war worried me, he was right. It was a fight over land, over power. There would be only bloodshed. It was greedy. It was just unfortunate that my family are essentially protectors to the Garress family line. Wherever they go, we serve dutifully. Honorable yes. Though depending on the situation at hand….it didn’t seem right.

      “So what, should I just stay here, do my duty and forget of my family then?” My talking was starting have an effect in the room as Morgan was awakened. The little monkey bounced off of Stoney’s bed to mine, promptly landed in my lap and then curled up to sleep.

      Darius low, rumbling voice started up again.“Heh, seems there are things and people here that could use you. The monkey and your dwarf buddy are only a few of the examples. Your House has a battalion of soldiers at call. What will one more meat shield mean to them, eh? Out here though…man it sure looks they could use someone decent.” I wanted to argue the point. To make case that even though I never took to my family’s responsibilities, that I should be there. It would mean nothing though, as it begun to dawn on me. Knowing my father and the greater cause of my Goddess, they would want me to stay here. Sword Lords want to prevent an all out possible war of nations, not war of houses. For now my place was here, no mater what.

      Stonehands rolled to his side and I could barely make out in the dark that he was opening his eyes. “Hey, Morgan boy, com’er”. Morgan plopped down from my lap and slowly made his way back to Stoney. “So your true woman or your buddy?” Stonehands whispered. I held up the sword and put it aside. “Buddy” I replied. I made my way back to bed and tried my best to get decent sleep before the trip out. “So what did Darius say?” Stonehands knew of Darius. I never hid the whole sort of ever lasting, macabre friendship from him. “He said it would not be prudent to take up arms with my family in a cause, that as a whole, goes against some of my basic tenants and the bigger picture.” Stonehands picked Morgan back up and put him on his chest and took in a deep breath. “Hey kid, I am worried to. Your family is my family. I hope they are alright. I hate to say it, I agree with Darius. You jus listen to da mon dough. He is right. Don getcha selv caught oop in dat mess.” Yes. My friends were right. Besides, I still have a lot here that needs to be dealt with.

      The next morning we set out and traveled hard to the south. We picked an inopportune moment to do so, because it was nothing but storms and showering rain. It seemed as if for two days straight, it rained nonstop. “Can’t make much of a trip if it keeps on raining like this for a whole damn week” said Stonehands. “This torrential onslaught is becoming most irritating. I cannot stay crammed back here for another night” grumbled Adra.

      Adra had taken to tying up her horse to the wagon to help pull while she resided inside, to remain untouched by the rain. “Well it cannot be that bad. You get all the solitude you want back there” I reply back to her. She crawled up front, just enough to poke her head out, in between Stoney and I. “Heh. Our holy priest does not seem to fair well in this weather” she pointed out to Boris. Boris from the previous night did not seem to be doing well. Today he looked horrible. He was sneezing, pale, coughing, and shivering. The man was not feeling well for some time. I wonder if it was that unpleasant looking rabbit he ate a few nights prior finally catching up on him. He was wavering back and forth on his horse and was not keeping up as fast with Kurgar, who was all the way out in front on his mount. “Boris, here!” I called out. Boris turned sluggishly around on his horse and rode along my side of the wagon.

      “Yes?” he said under heavy nasal congestion. “You do not look well there. Do you wish to stop soon? I can take a look at you and maybe help with your ailment.” Boris just shook his head. “I do not require any measures of healing. I can get to this on my own. I must stay vigilant on our ride. I will only hope Balinor will give me aid and I can be free of my sickness.” He turned and rode back off with a bit more gumption but I knew the man was not well. Very prideful.

      “Hey uh, Cedric, didn’t you said you could like, uh, target nasty stuff in a person’s body and rid them of it?” said Stonehands. “Yup. Heal wounds. Restore Fatigue. Stuff like that” as I then took a swig from my flask. “Well I would heal him if he just le-..” Damn…holy water, wrong flask. I was looking for my other flask as I heard Adra actually laughing. Not a roaring laugh but a slow, low chuckle. “For as much as he prays, it does not seem that his God honors him, does it not? I mean he cannot rid himself of a simple cold. This gives even more substantial evidence against The Host.” I finally found my actual drinking flask to which only brought disappointment, for it now lacked whiskey. Ensuring I had to make the whole trip completely sober.

      “Ya know when I think she is finally starting to turn around, she still manages to slam others in the group. Does it bother you she thinks so little of The Host” said Stoney. I shrugged my shoulders at the question. “I learned long ago not to be rattled by another person’s negative opinions. Plus the fact of the matter is that my religion is not all of who I am. It is merely a part of me.” Stonehands nodded his head at my comment. “You are a better man than I. If someone was bashing something that meant that much to me, I would give them an earful.” I turned and smiled to my friend and glanced to the back of the wagon. “Oh trust me, I am not a better man. Soon as we get a chance I am going to give her a piece of my mind.” He was shaking his head and had the look of restrained laughter. “I think at this point, the lass is so tense and pent up that maybe she could pass on a piece of your mind and give her a piece of well…you. If you get what I mean.” Ha ha the thought has come up on my mind at a few points. When was the last time our dear Inquisitor had some release. “Yes, yes I get what you mean” I replied. “Cause what I mean by giving her a piece” as he gestured to his loins. I playfully punched him in the arm. “Yes, I told you, I got it.”

      A few hours later we got settled to make camp for the night, when I saw that Boris was still sniffling and sneezing. I could not stand the sight of this anymore. I slapped him on the back and released on touch, my own form of divine healing. “Buck up” I said to him. He gave me a look of amazement which then became subtle anger. “You mean to tell me you could have done that this whole time?” I walked away from Boris just laughing. “You never asked if I could”.

      The next day out, the skies finally cleared and there was no rain. Our travel would become a bit better from there. Going further out, we came across several dead elk and giant tracks. Kurgar looked around the area with disdain. “Trolls.” as he pointed to the tracks. Boris dismounted off his horse Panther and surveyed the area. He paced back and forth looked to were the tracks came from or lead to, the forest. He then found a pile of droppings to which he picked up a little in his hand and took a whiff. “Yes. Without a doubt, these were trolls.” Stoney shuddered watching Boris. “That is just not right.” Boris luckily divined up some cleansing for his hands and started to ask the most perplexing questions to the group. “Well if we come across a troll, do you think we could take it?” he asked. “Ok you see those dead elk bodies there? They use those things on each other like they were pillow fighting” said Kurgar. Boris shot back “So is that a no then? We have superior numbers and intelligence. I wonder also, does anyone know of their hit points?” Kurgar had his first unified group moment, as we all in unison, had a lost, dumbfounded expression. “I don’t know what is wrong with but I have no fucking clue what hit points are and we are not messing with a troll. I mean you guys can, I sure as hell won’t” replied Kurgar. Luckily for us the rest of the day proved uneventful and without any troll encounters.

      After spending four days out we finally came to a stretch of river out here. Following it we then came to a rickety bridge. I had enough of rickety bridges so I decided to stay back in the wagon with Stoney while the rest of the group figured out how they wanted to cross to the other side by themselves. Not long after that I noticed Adra slowly walking onto the bridge with her bow out, Boris chanting “Kill it” and Kurgar laughing as he was peeing in the river. “Now what are those jackasses doing” asked Stonehands. I plopped off of the wagon, drew my sword, and just waited there. “I would only imagine they have found themselves something to antagonize. If that is the case, I say we prepare.” Stonehands did not even bother getting off the cart. “I think they are just peeing and shooting at a log” he said. “Boris maybe, Kurgar probably, Adra no. She is to practical to waste her time doing something that mundane” I said while keeping an eye. Adra fired her bow and Boris cheered saying :”You hit it”. Kurgar yelled back at Boris. “Hey I hit it with my piss and you didn’t cheer for me. You have any idea how much pressure you gotta have to launch it out like that, against the wind, make the arc and hit?” Stonehands was grumbling to himself while petting Morgan. “Yea I bet it was just a log”.

      We traveled out for a few more days till we found a ford in which to use to finally cross the intersection of rivers. By our map that it would seem that the mysterious place in question would be probably only a few hours ride out if we were to leave early in the morning. The group was tending to their own individual tasks at night when I noticed, like usual, Adra was by the fire, writing in her book. Something was on my mind this whole time, why she seems completely bent out of shape. “Something has been bothering this whole time” I said to Adra as I sat down by her. “Funny because right now you are bothering me” as she shifted a foot over away from me. I shifted closer to her and kept up my words. “From the start, all the way in Brindol, you seem averse to being around us. For being out here. For something. Please just say what is causing this”

      She slammed her book, lifted her head and brushed away her hair that hung in her face. Her piercing green eyes remained focused on the fire as she sat staring for a good ten seconds. “My problem. Is many problems. For starters I do no appreciate being out in this filthy, forsaken, barren, heap of land. I am meant to operate within city walls. That is what I do and my church has neglected to take this into account. Which does not surprise me. Nobody takes anything into account.” I tried to console her a tad. “You are here though so it seems important enough that even in your dislike that you are staying. That is good.” She turned and finally looked at me. Though it was not the expressionless hard look I was used to, it did have a slight upset, if I dare not say vulnerable look to it. “I also do not like the fact that I am working alone. There is nobody of my order to work with and instead I am left to work with those who do not share the same methods or goals as I. Not having everyone on the same page will prove to be detrimental to the cause.”

      She was finally opening up. Even if it was pent up anger, it was still something. “You have Stonehands here, he is of your order.” She shook her head and pursed her lips. “He is not of my order. He works for my order. He is only a fool who was promised something by a faction of my church that clearly does not understand that they are in the wrong for doing so.” She got up and started to pace around the bonfire. I got up and slowly followed beside her. “Stone truly does mean well and from everything I could tell he appreciates your Silver Flame. As the rest of us I see no big deal in us not having the same God or Goddess. “Your dwarf does not show the purity which the flame requires. The other dwarf seems like an aimless heathen. Our cleric prays to a God that either does not care about him or is impotent all together. Yours…your goddess.” She finally stopped to turn and look at me and now just seemed weary and tired. “Our beliefs will separate us. We are too different.”

      “Well I cannot say anything about Kurgar or Boris because that is to their own to defend. However you may find that you and I pretty much serve the exact same cause” I said to her. She just stood there shaking her head, trying to refuse what she was hearing. “See Tira Miron, the voice of your Silver Flame, is a devout follower to my Goddess Dol Arrah. Think about that. We are connected. Though the entirety of what we believe may be different, our goals are the same. In fact you could make the argument that your religion and mine serve each other mutually.” Adra finally looked up at me, this time her expression calm and collected. “I will note that yes, your Goddess Dol Arrah is different from these…others of The Host. It is…similar enough to mine. Like the Flame, your Goddess requires action, does she not?” I put my hand on her shoulder and nodded. “All gods require action from their faithful. It is just…some followers hold to it more than others. Adra looked at me and a worried expression cracked through her usual stone like demeanor. “To bad you are not Silver Flame though. I would feel a tad more comfortable. It is just that…every time I work with those outside my order..” She then shuddered and turned her back to me. “Something bad happens to me” she continued. I took in a breath and shook my head at her. “Well that is not going to happen with me around. I hope you can be alright with me just being me.” We called it a night there as Kurgar said he would take watch. Good thing. I wanted to be well rested if we were to come to find anything tomorrow morning.

      In fact it was that very next morning that something finally developed. We were out traveling and decided to take a small break. During this break most of the group heard two men talking nearby and bring up the Stag Lord. I tap on the back of the wagon, to where Kurgar decided to relax, pointed to my sword and outward, indicating it was time for a skirmish. We rounded the corner where we heard the voices and I yelled out to my group to leave a member alive. Two bandits turned to look at us in horror and were paralyzed with shock. Adra took note of it and put an arrow in this one-eyed bandit’s good eye. The other one threw his hands up in the air and screamed at the top of his lungs.

      “Whoa whoa hold up, stop stop, I give up, I give up!” he yelped. Adra knocked back an arrow and told the man to drop to his knees. The second bandit obligingly did so to which prompted another action. Boris came running behind us, whipping his sling in the air and fury on his face. “To the holy God Balinor I serve, I shall put you down heathen” as he sailed a rock at the second bandit. The rock hurled through the air and struck the bandit square in the shoulder. “Ow dammit, that kinda hurt! I’m surrendering, don’t hit me” he said. Kurgar shook his head, put down his axes and walked up to the bandit. “Dammit Clarence what the hell are you doing out here?” I stepped forward and asked the second bandit “You two met?”

      Kurgar and Clarence told me they encountered each other a month and a half prior. Kurgar said he was supposed to turn over a new leaf so to speak. While this was happening Boris managed to save the arrow—in-eye victim who was named Ranblow, though he now lost his second eye permanently. Basically what went down in that time was the men were coerced so to speak to work for the Stag Lord, who we also found out was working with this fey Narissa we have been hearing so much about. So it was a sure thing though. The Stag Lord’s Fort was only an hour trip south. All we could find out was that the man Sneed we were looking for resided there, the encampment held possibly a dozen men, and near the castle off the path resided undead. The only weakness I could derive from the conversation we all had with the two bandits about the Stag Lord was that he had a strong penchant for booze. Heh, most of us do. Still I guess something was better than nothing. The two gave us the password, one of their amulets so we could look like new recruits, and then were sent on their way to Oleg’s.

      Boris pulled out his godawful, horrid bird and spoke to it as it twisted and screamed in pain. “Oleg this is Boris, We found two bandits and they are headed your way. Take care of them for us.” Then the hideous, forsaken thing took flight. “You know that did sound an awful like he should kill the guys” said Stonehands. “What would ever give that impression” Boris obliviously replied.

      “So now I am only to assume that we all pose as scoundrels, hand over booze to this murderous lush, try to join their ranks and what? Kill everyone and him in their sleep?” I said. “Heh, that is just about it. Sounds simple and fun to me” said Kurgar. Stonehands sauntered up next to me and gave me a nudge. “You alright with this. Can you uh…look rough enough pretty boy?” I turned on the glamor to my armor, which turned into gypsy garments. I have not shaved in a while so that helped. I took some dirt and spread it on just enough of my scabbard, cheek, a little in my hair, and gave Stoney a look. “Decent enough?” I asked. “Yea, good enough I guess” as he rolled his eyes. I slipped on the amulet while Boris and Adra where dressing up for the part. Well this is not exactly what I wanted. We are going to essentially storm the Stag Lord’s place on a whim with very little information to go on. Got to make the best of it. Kurgar was the first to hop on his steed and bellowed to the group. “Let’s go get us this fucker’s head!”

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Green Hell. The Beginning Of It All.

Green Hell. The Beginning Of It All.

It has only been an hour since we left the bandit camp. Already I can see what Lt. Garress meant when he referred to Kurgar. Within our small amount of time traveling with him, he has already effectively irritated the group. He has mocked Boris plenty on many matters from practices to appearances. Stonehands he seems to completely ignore as if trying not to even acknowledge him. He was already rude to me when I tried to be courteous to him. Then to top it all off, he actually, I kid you not, started to rub one out while riding. He kept riding up next to Adra and make lewd comments to her while trying to show off his “progress”.

What bothers me about all this is that I am not exactly put off by his behavior in the manner that he acts like this. What gets to me is that he seems to be purposely going out of his way to act like this. A crass man is a crass man, I can get that. This is definitely a man who has great social issues and no concept of boundaries. Although I already feel wearisome about having him along, this man was sent to help us by Keston Garress. There has to be something redeeming about him……right?

Boris rides up next to Stoney and I, missing that smile he usually always shows. “Why is it that most dwarves are always so bawdy?” he said. Stonehands shook his head at that comment while rolling his eyes.“Hey here now kid, most of us are not like that. That guy, he is just a bad example.” We all look over to Kurgar, who turned to just scowl at us. “It’s true Boris. I have spent a lot of my life around dwarves. Though a bit on the rough side, they are like anyone else. They have their good and their bad” I add. “Yes but Stonehands here is the only one I have met that seems approachable. I thought all dwarves were like Kurgar though.” This visibly pissed off Stonehands.

“Ya know why that’s thee case? It is because thee holds, clans, kingdoms, what have ya, usually kick out assholes. So a lot of us that ya see roamin alone are usually thee outcasts.” Boris just gave a slight nod to Stonehands. “I apologize, when you see something consistently, its hard to make a judgment of something that does not fit.” We did not even notice that during this whole time, Adra had pulled back near us, listening in on our conversation until she actually decided to speak up. “Why are we keeping this one again? Because your house-kin gave him to us?” she to me, keeping her eyes on Kurgar. “Well I would not turn down extra help. Plus he has been down here for a while with the previous group. He might know something we do not.” I kept my eyes on Kurgar, trying to make the most of our new group addition, trying to see the upside to it all. At certain times you just have to make the most of a situation and deal with it the best you can instead of groaning about it.

I ride past the group a bit to make my way side by side with Kurgar, who gives me a disinterested look then stares back to the path ahead. “So, the previous group you were with. Seems you did some good here.” He stayed silent for a moment. “Yea, I guess.” This would be awkward talking to a man who obviously seems to want no part with anyone. Though if I was to be working with him, I might as well try to be on even ground with him and learn what he knows. “So how many of you were there and what came to be of them” I said after a few moments of silence. Kurgar sighed, probably at mention of the group or knowing I wouldn’t just leave him alone. “We had some deranged kobold, a smelly ass gnome with his head far up his ass, a sissy elf, and two crazy bitches. Wretched, filthy gnome” he muttered under his breath. “So what became of this group. I only assume one of the ‘crazy’ women was Jessi, the half elf?” I said. “Ha ha well the sissy died. The gnome, I don’t know nor care. The kobolds ran off to start their own half-assed attempt at society. Yea Jessi….she was one of us. Our cleric, the other female manling, I have no clue.”

“So what do you know of this area then?” as I motion around us in the forested setting. He snorted and smiled. “Not a damn thing. Furthest I came into the woods was that camp back there. Only the stupid would want to venture out into these parts.” Well crap. There goes any hope of us knowing what we were going to run into here. “Well the kobolds did a decent job. They are building fine in the caves to the south. If that means anything to you.” I said. Kurgar gave me this indifferent expression. “OK and? No it means nothing to me. Look if you are not going to have anything useful to say, could you just stay away until we run into something we have to kill.” This was an obvious cue to stop here with anything sociable. I attempted to be cordial with the man, that was enough. I just shared a bit with the rest of the group. Boris and Stoney just shrugged it off though Adra detailed every word in her book while riding. She was also very adamant that I explained his tone and mannerisms of his response. Detailed woman….

We rode for about another thirty or so minutes before we started to come to a massive clearing. What stood before us was a peculiar find. There in front of us stood a relatively large temple with a large, oval pool near the front entrance. Above the entrance was a large stone which carved into it, was Balinor in his elk form. Oh Boris was going to have a field day for sure. Just like I thought as soon as the site of it all settled in, I saw Boris’s smile return as he dismounted his horse and searched happily amongst the temple compound. “My god’s temple. What a splendor of a find!” he jubilantly said. As we moved more into the front area the whole grounds had this partial gloomy feeling that hung over the place. Stone and Kurgar were dismounting their horses to tie them up but Adra just sat there on top of hers shaking her head.

I could not blame her. The area looked abandoned. Forgotten. The pool contained a large, thick deposit of algae. Though this was supposed to be a temple of a god of nature and the hunt, the woods have over took much of the area. While nothing dreadful came to me as I reached out with my senses, just my basic intuition was telling me something was not right. I gave a look to Adra, summing up that I felt what she felt. A temple of a god, forgotten in a far off land is usually never a good thing. In fact I cannot remember when an instance of something like that was even remotely decent. If someone forgets, secludes or shut out a place of faith, there is usually a reason for it.

This gloomy feeling as I described it then started to settle amongst the rest of the group. Well it was more that they were actually beginning to talk about it. Boris looked around concerned now. “What happened here. Why are their no priests. This place was left uncared for.” Kurgar walked right up to the bottom of the steps that lead to the inside of the temple. “That is the first thing you have said that was on point” he remarked to Boris. Boris’s shoulders squared, he now looked determined, and focused. “Well there is something here that is not right. I wish to seek the problem and eradicate it hastily.” He pushed his way past Kurgar and started walking up the steps. “Uhhh letting you know, walking into a dark, creepy abandoned place usually doesn’t end well” Stoney shouted out to Boris. I walked up to the steps and turned to the group. “I agree with Boris though. There is something off. We have to look into this.” I lit up my ever burning torch, placed it on my shield sconce and drew my blade. Everyone nodded in agreement and proceeded to do likewise.

I followed Boris into the temple and was only a few feet in when I heard a thunderous, deafening roar. The rest of us approached in to see a well lit main room, with Boris who was now standing probably 25ft away from a giant, pissed off, sickly looking grizzly bear. “Begone foul beast! In the name of Balinor, fear me and leave this holy place!” he screamed while bring up a divination of his. The bear roared in fury at his words. It’s eyes then glinted with a hint of intelligence as it recognized what Boris was saying but did not care. The bear then took charge towards Boris with enraged purpose. I sprinted forward, placing myself in between Boris and the bear, then braced for impact. “It is a bear. I do not believe it will show fear” I yell out to Boris.

The bear took aim at my head with its paw, to which I stood prepared for and swiped away with my shield. I seen at this moment one of Kurgar’s axes just fly overhead with Stoney moving into position behind the giant beast. An arrow struck the bear in the hindquarter as it turned to take a bite at Stoney when he passed by. Stonehands let out a loud grunt. Dammit, he was hit. I kindly return the favor to the bear taking a slash to the ribcage, trying to regain it’s attention. The fight moved at a hectic pace, between another axe taking flight, bouncing off the bear’s shoulders, another arrow hitting true, Boris behind me still shouting to his deity for empowerment. Beyond the roars, Boris’s shouts, a deep, rumbling voice began to sing beside me.

The bear then took charge, pummeled me down with primal force and let out a bellowing shout filled with hate, at my face. I stood my ground and let out my own war cry to the bear, making sure it stayed focused on me. It is funny how a fight goes. Some say it happens to fast that it is just a blur. Though for me since I have been in tons of them, it processes differently in my head. Though they never last that long, the strategics of it all, the nuances of it and the details come to me with ease in the matter of milliseconds. I know Stoney is now behind the bear, leaving the bear exposed. Boris was now behind me, keeping me upright with his divine healing. Though I could not see our Inquisitor, I knew she was far back enough out of danger but still raining arrows. Then there was Kurgar beside me, singing and swinging war-axes with ease as he was wielding sticks instead.

As all this was processing in my head, while healing myself, I couldn’t act fast enough to take on the bear’s next barrage. It was not holding back, a creature gone mad, bit into my armor, clawed at me furiously, and then wrapped me in its arms. Being in the grips of a giant pissed off bear would usually be scary to most people. For me, though a less than ideal situation, was not the worst predicament I was ever in. I slashed relentlessly with my free hand, hoping to bring down the bear. The bear had struck hard, vicious blows and I was feeling winded and hurt. The giant massive bear easily broke a rib and I could feel something hot and sticky run down my arm inside my suit. The bear placed my head inside it’s mouth and then tore off my helmet with ease. An arrow then hit right into the shoulder of the bear, making it madder. That was the moment the powerful creature whipped me to the ground followed by my head smacking hard on the stone floor. Fuck me. First fight in nearly two months and this is what happens. A damn bear. The room swirled around me as I felt the cold floor pressed to my cheek. Then it all went black.

“Really now? Of all things, a bear? Come on man, you’ve grown soft” whispered Darius. “Oh now now, get up. Big baby” he chided me. This was never good. He usually only speaks if I got into some serious crap. How hurt was I? Did the bear finish me off? I awoke and stared at my sword, still clutched in my hand. “Pfft damn, you missed the rest of the fight. You owe me brother” I heard him remark. The whispering from the sword stopped.

I started getting up moments later when a warming sensation came over my body. Boris’s work no doubt. I shook the cobwebs off, body wracked in pain to see right in front of me a pile of ash and a concerned Stonehands staring at me. “Where is the bear? What?” as I look at Stoney. “The bear turned into a naked guy, then became that ash” replied Kurgar. Stonehands approached me and stared down at my right arm, which I now noticed was leaking a few droplets of blood. “Kid…” he shook his head. Boris came up to his and patted me on the back of the shoulder. Dammit, I was just bit there. I grimaced in pain while he noted where he just hit and then worked up some more healing powers. “It was a great hunt was it not? Balinor would be proud” Boris said. “I did not do this to please ‘your god’. This had to be done” said Adra. Kurgar was recollecting his throwing axes as Adra was taking small samples of the ash and putting them into a small vial. Stonehands was still giving me that same worried look.

“Don’t give me that. See look, I am ok. Boris fixed me up good” I said trying to comfort my friend. “If you say so kid”. Truth be told I did not feel ok. Thing is about healing magic is that yea it heals you, mends flesh, heals bone. It does not take away from the pain. I still feel the crushing blow in my rib where the bear struck, the back of my head where it hit on the landing, and the bite that sank into my flesh and muscle. Pain was something that lingered even after the magic did it’s job. The temple now looked to be…peaceful since the creature was killed. It had that calm setting that a temple should bring. I made my way to the back of the room which held a small fountain. I went up to take a drink and caught a glimpse of my battered face in the reflection of the water. I took a sip from there and noticed that my wounds slowly begun to recede. In the reflection I caught a look of what was a suit of armor in front of me. Though in front of me there was only vines and a wall. I approached the wall, pulled at the vines to see only gypsy looking garments entangled in the vines. Upon touching the clothes, it shimmered and turned into a suit of armor.

“Ooh. I think I found something I might like guys.” The suit of armor was plate-mail, to which looked like my exact size. Adorned on it was Balinor adorned engravings, decorated on it all were green summer leaves. I looked at my now battered armor and smiled that something evened out for me here. Boris appeared behind me and said gleefully “Take part in the hunt and Balinor rewards”. Indeed, even if he is not my god in question, I will not deny anyone of the Host if they want to reward me. A slight sensation came over me. Everything faded to gold, as I felt someone grip my shoulder from behind and heard a lovely whisper of my goddess. “Heh. Seems one of my champions garnered some interest from others of my kind. I am proud of you.” I hung my head a bit in shame. “Proud of what, I was beaten to unconsciousness by a bear” I responded to her. “Well still you fought well” Boris replied. I snapped back to everything around me. I took off my beaten up armor and changed into the lovely, pristine armor in front of me. We packed up and headed off into the rest of the green lush that was before us.

A few nights went by in which time nothing big happened. I got to talking to Kurgar a bit more, finding out he was in an 8th cohort platoon working with House Kundarak. Military training was nothing to scoff at and even though he was not the greatest to be around, he proved to be instrumental in the fight we had nights prior. Boris repeatedly went on about killing game then suggested that Adra shoot a deer that was fifty feet out in front of him. Adra smiled and whizzed a shot by Boris’s face and missed the deer greatly. “Oops. Poor attempt on my part” she grinned. Boris made no attempt of hunting with her since. Stoney when we had downtime was fiddling with my broken suit of armor. Must have been hard for him. See a suit he once built but is now having a hard time putting back together. Can’t be easy to lose a skill that was everything to you. I could only imagine it would be like being cut off from my Goddess.

One night when I had a bit to much a drink, we all heard singing and instruments playing in the woods. I thought it would be a good idea to check out. If it was a party that we should partake in a little fun or if it was a bandit camp of some sorts that we should be even more cautious on our move forward. Adra ridiculed me as did Kurgar. Boris happily popped up and ran off into the forest and then came back to retrieve some of the absinthe we found to bring if there was a party. Stoney was grumbling about it the whole time saying it was a horrible idea. “Yea cause going off into the creepy forest at night always leads to good things” he glowered. We three took off into the woods in which I than began to sober up rather fast and begun to hate my decision. This all happened when we came to a bridge which I could not muster up any faith in if I tried.

“Ok I’ll admit I screwed up, lets go back” I said to Stoney. “Well we can’t leave him here” he motioned towards Boris. Boris was already making his way across the bridge, in which a few of the floorboards were coming off already then actually fell off. “Come on over, the bridge is fine” he yelled. Me and Stoney looked at each other and shook our heads. “I’m not crossing a rickety ass bridge. This is how usually fairy tales start. They also never end well” said Stonehands “Well..it was good knowing him” I said as we headed back. “Oh I am sure by some stroke of luck that he will be fine…..somehow” I replied with false hope. The night got hazey there as we slipped into a river bank and awoke the next day on top of each other at camp, with Boris’s greeting us.

Through some horrible sense of humor these parts had, our group pointed out something to us. I had green fur all over my body and I do mean all over my body. Stone was laughing at me until I pointed out that he looked like something Boris would eat. In place of his ears, Stonehands grew rabbit ears. This was obviously a trick of the fey. Should have known when my cold iron sword was being grasped at last night through the woods by branches and vines. Stupid green hell. Sure enough I was right when testing my theory of it being fey magic, the fur would not regrow if I shaved it with my cold iron blade. I spent a few hours carefully shaving myself in the river nearby to get of my prize for being stupid and wandering off into forest.

Boris proudly showed off something he got from the fey. In his hand he held bones of a bird. We all thought that he went on a bender and just found a dead sparrow. That is until he said he wished he could send a message to Oleg to say we were fine. At that moment the bird screamed, muscle began to grow, as the body twisted and contorted. Letting out a horrible agonizing cry of pain, the sparrow finally gained full form and flew off. Boris watched happily as the bird flew off. The rest of the party stood horrified at the damn thing. “If we catch that, we burn it” said Adra. “Yea…second that” Stonehands nodded.

Shortly after that whole debacle, the next day we came across a foul smelling hot spring. Adra was delighted that she might finally be able to have a bath until we noticed giant humanoid sized frogs in the springs. We all agreed if they were not attempting to harm us, we should make no effort on encroaching their territory. Boris however looked at these hideous things as food. He was persistent that we should kill them and eat them. This prompted a minor scuffle between him and Stonehands, to which Stonehands issued “He wants to eat the frogs, he should meet the frogs”. This attempt to throw Boris in the hot spring ended as fast as it started. Hostility was growing, we needed to get out of the forest soon as tension begun to rise.

Sure enough even out of the damn forests something else has to happen. On our way out, Boris started messing with a berry bush when we all just wanted to make way back to Oleg. Stonehands found nearby said bush, a mound of rocks to which him and Boris began to dig up. I got off my horse and made way towards the two. “This is a bad idea. I would not mess with those rocks.” Adra came up behind me to ask what was wrong. “Well in more primitive parts of the world, a mound of rocks is usually a place of burial” I said to her. Sure enough the two uncovered the body with Boris going through the body and Stoney pulling off a rather interesting looking ring. “You two that is enough. Put those back and let’s leave” as Adra walked up to the mound. She did a partial blessing to the mound either our of pity or paranoia. I am guessing the latter and finally made our way back to Oleg’s.

After being gone for about a week and a half we returned but to some rather dour news. Lt. Garress informed me that our house was at war with the Mhedyevs. To which Boris was given word that his family ancestral home was burned to the ground. There was no other word but that. Boris apparently stricken with mad grief, seemed to try to deflect the news with utter obliviousness. He found out his horrid bird actually came to Oleg to send a message and he apologized for scaring him. The man seems to be pushing back or repressing the issue that he did not even respond of what happened to his home. That never bodes well to hold so much back. It will only compound matters. I tell the lieutenant to keep me informed on any further developments. Wonderful. Barely been here and in all this time, I nearly get killed by a bear, my house is at war, I get pranked by fey, came across a revenant and nowhere closer to finding this Stag Lord. I can hear Darius laughing at me. I look at my sword and tell him to shut up. “Oh man, you just began and already you are in so much shit” I hear him whisper. He was right. How much more hell is there left out here for me.

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Adventure Log – Session 3: The extermination

After a great deal of talking and planning we searched the grasslands and we searched the woodlands. We found signs of trolls. We spotted a tasselworm. Kurgar managed to urinate on Adra while attempting to provoke the tasselworm. StoneHand complained about hunting. Cedric thought a rabbit I trapped was rotten. Adra writes more than speaks. This is certainly an interesting unit.

We met with some double agents, and Adra blinded one. They provided some much needed intelligence that included the location of the Staglord, and his tendency to over drink. He and his cabal of cultists and raiders are held up in an old monastery. The walls are surrounded by undead, but the road is somehow safe.

We entered the compound and petitioned to become members. We were welcomed with suspicion. The criminals were quite interested in StoneHand’s armoring talents. I stayed by Adra in case the men had impure ideas. After looking around, and a failed attempt to sneak into the sleeping chamber in order to release a, curiously placed, caged Owlbear Kurgar began the extermination.

I did battle with a large man named Ox, Oaff, or some such. I was also assaulted by another bandit, but quickly dispatched him. I must have spent half the battle healing the wounds my unit took during the fray. The filth had no such, noticeable, healing.

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Our Journey Out – Undead, Kobolds and a Fifth Wheel.

Our Journey Out – Undead, Kobolds and a Fifth Wheel.

The next morning we were all saddling up, prepping and getting the wagon all set for our first day out into these unknown lands. The checklist involved: Wrangling in some beasts Boris found on the bounty board that were posing problems, a haunting near an old bridge, bringing in a gypsy criminal named Sneed, and last but not least, kill The Stag Lord. We would go by what was closest and work from there but with little to go on, we figured that the Kobold encampment would be a good place to visit. First off, to this haunted bridge. On our ride I noticed that Boris now had a black eye, with a hue of blue and yellow to go with it.

“Nice mark, shocked you didn’t remove that with your healing” I said, gesturing to Boris’s bruised eye. “Ha, yes I thought it would aid in giving me an intimidating look, in case we come across any unsavory characters” he replies. “Come into my room again, you will lose your head” Adra said, while passing him by on her horse. Boris simply chuckled and smiled. While after a days journey we finally made it to Nettle’s Crossing. The known sighting of the haunted ferryman. Before us was a burnt down cabin, with debris strewn all about. We made our way cautiously to the building, putting ourselves on high alert. Adra searched the wreckage with her calculating eyes, where I on the other hand, uses my natural honed senses to detect any unsettling anomalies in the area.

“Ugh guys, if there is a dead guy here, who doesn’t want to be dead anymore, by walking around, shouldn’t be here” said Stonehands. I looked over at him still on the wagon, looking around grimacing. “Stoney, you know this is a matter that needs to be settled. Come, help. See if we can trigger something.” Stonehands jumped down from the wagon and cautiously made his way to the site of the wreckage. Boris looked up from where he was searching to Stonehands “You could help me find coins if you want.” Stonehands shook his head and walked off in the opposite direction of us. “We are here to find what is causing a disturbance, not looting a dead poor man” Adra yelled over to Boris. “There is something here, I am sure of it. People had to pay him to cross this bridge” replied Boris, still searching with intense devotion. Adra looks over at me and snarls. “He seeks a ferryman’s fortune. Does he not know there will be only a few copper pieces at most?” I shrug my shoulders while spreading my senses out, trying to keep my calm. “If this man did have anything, whoever did this to him undoubtedly took anything of value from here.” Then we heard a noise probably only ninety feet away, a heavy, ringing bell. Right after that we heard a panicked yell from Stonehands. “Hey, everyone, there is a dead guy coming!”

We all rushed towards our dwarf to look out into the river where his attention was drawn. Coming out of the waters was a man, who was far from the world of the living. Chunks of flesh coming of, any organs that remained, were swollen and oozing. Decayed flesh and muscle exposed bone. Hollow empty eye sockets remained fixed on us as it walked up to the edge of the river bank, holding a spear remained fixed pointed at us. “No one passes” said the corpse as water flowed out of it’s mouth and down the side of his neck. Adra took aim, Boris drew sword, Stone readied axes, and I prepared shield. I stepped towards to the talking corpse. “Who are you, why are you here. Who have you hurt” I question the thing. “I was once guardian here. I make sure nobody crosses. Only one I one I want to hurt, is the Stag Lord” gurgled the undead we now could only assume was Nettles, the dead ferryman.
The corpse lurched forward and growled “Bring me the Stag Lord. Then I can have peace.”

I noticed at this moment Adra lowered her bow and could see the gears in her head turning. “We could attack it. That would make it go away. I could blind the creature, take it by surprise and cleanse it ‘s putrid body” Boris said to us. “Yea, in case ya dident noteece, buut da creatore dunt has eyes. Blindin eet won’t work” Stonehands said, odd accent and all. “Plus he might be a sort of revenant. A creature bound by task or purpose. We could kill it, might just come back again. We might need to just give him the Stag Lord” Adra said towards the group.”Well yes, of course, revenant. Right. I know what that is. My family does hunt undead after all. Though we should try to be sure” Boris said back. I finally spoke up. “I rather us not take on a fight that need not to be fought. We are planning on killing this Stag Lord. We could see if giving the body will appease this thing. If not, then we put it to rest the old fashion way.” The corpse slowly retreated back into the flowing river while the group decided to back off.

From there on out we then set out for what would be a two day ride to the kobold camp to the south to attain any information and maybe, the previous group’s map. We arrive to the kobold camp with no issue what so ever. To my awe even is that we were even greeted kindly by one of the kobolds at the camp. Outside the camp they were running combat drills which were somewhat amusing. I should not mock their pride in learning but it was my first time ever seeing a kobold training regimen. Usually when I see a pack of the, they are hurling things at me and spewing words in a language I do not understand. The group seemed plenty impressed as well to the unusual surroundings. In the introductions the leader of Clan Sootscales, Mik Mak was more than helpful to us.

Without issue or pause he was open and from what I could tell, honest about the dealings that happened here before our arrival. I will say this about the previous group, they brought about peace to this part of the lands where these kobolds dwell. That in itself is impressive. Detailing a few things he pointed out was apparently what sounded like a bandit camp and even a gold mine. They were unaware that it was gold, nor probably even knew what gold was. I make this assumption because the current cave they dwelled in was a silver mine, which they only mined to barter and trade with those that went to Oleg’s. To Boris’s credit, he somehow managed to trade a pound of our cheese rations for a pound of unrefined ore. He suggested that we could use the money we made from the ore to help in our travel and shelter fund. Hey, give the guy credit, he really tries to pull his weight in every little thing he can.

Since hearing of this we thought it would be a good start to hit up this supposed bandit camp as well as stopping by the cave Mik Mak pointed out. Once again the travel on the way was pleasant and without issue. Well mostly. At this point I have already grown used to Boris’s insistent pushy behavior to track and hunt anything we come across. Adra’s scowls of disapproval to pretty much anything any of us talked about. Plus Stoney has also tried to attach the new Morgan to me. Not that I hate the monkey. I really don’t. I love animals. I just don’t want to get attached to any monkey Stoney owns. Something will happen, something always does, and I wish not to miss the creature for when/if a horrible thing were to happen to it. That being said, I have slowly began to take a slight liking to it and watching over Morgan when Stoney is sleeping or off dropping trow somewhere. In this action of trying to make best of what I can, I also bought a small journal and pen from a trader before we left Oleg’s. Adra did have a small point about needing a log.

The trip to the mine was uneventful. Stoney was unsure or not whether the samples he took from inside were gold. Was something he needed to check at another time in a more suitable environment with tools he did not have on him. So for that, we decided to make camp before we head out into the woods, to check on this would be camp and prepare for a possible assault.

So here I am now. Writing this down in the book I purchased at Oleg’s. This all seems foreign to me though I guess some changes are to be made. I look to see Adra staring at me to which I simply smile and show the book to her. She gave me a look of what I swore seemed like proud acknowledgment and then went back to writing in her own book, transcribing or documenting…whatever it is. “So don’t tell me your going to become a paper pusher too eh?” I cocked my head to the side slightly, Stonehands looking over my shoulder, peering at my book. “No. I am not going to lose myself in it like her. She brought it up at Oleg’s. Seems like a good idea. So I am trying it.” Stonehands sat beside me, with Morgan resting on his shoulder. “I jus think your doing it to appease her. Hey, whatever. You always were the type to try to get along with anyone you come across.”

Stonehands was right. I did always come across like that. I can’t help it. I naturally want to get along with anyone. I seek to gain more allies than make enemies. Way I figured it is that you never know who you might need down the road. Who might be best suited to help you in a certain situation. Besides, I had many enemies that I came across, only seemed natural to me to balance it out by striking an accord with anyone else. “So what of it? What if I am partially doing this to gain some favor with Adra? I have been doing the same with you. I have tried warming up to Morgan, you know I have.” Stonehands just shook his head and grinned. “Eh I guess I kind of get that. Jus, I dunno. You try to hard at times.”

“Well if it makes you feel better, I am only trying with minimal effort.” I look over outside of the camp, a good thirty feet away from the fire, Boris pacing back and forth muttering. “I wonder though if there is anything I could help him with though.” Stonehands was watching Boris as well. “Welp…here is an idea. If you want him on your side, I guess you can find a doe. Break its legs. Strangle it. Then rip out its still beating heart and eat it. That might appease the madman. He will probably think of you as family or sumthin.” I gave Stoney a dead expression then went back to writing in my book. “Doe, break legs, eat…” I was saying out loud while pretending to write in my book. “What was the rest of that again? Eat its heart. Nothing of skinning it alive or anything? Cause that seems more appropriate with the man” I chuckle. Stonehands got up to go into his tent and was shaking his head. “So help me, if you start doing that, I am locking myself in my coffin to be safe from you two psychos.”

I chuckled a bit to my self, then paused at a thought. ‘Dont skin or eat anything with Boris. Congratulate on any kills if one is made’ I note in my book. I look up to see Adra yawning while walking over to me. “You want first or second shift?” she asks. “I am plenty fine now. You are the one that seems most tired anyways” I reply back. “Yes, that is probably best. See you in four hours.” I got up to stretch my legs and it hit me, that I could not see Boris anywhere near camp. “You see our cleric. Where did he run off to now?” Adra stopped at her tent and took a quick, uninterested survey. “Don’t know. Don’t Care. Night” as she slipped into her tent.

I wanted to call out his name. Though screaming at the top of your lungs near the edge of the woods, let alone anywhere in the wilds is usually a stupid thing to do. All I could do is hope and wait. An hour passed and still he had not returned. I began to worry that something might have grabbed him. Barely a week out and if we already lost a member, this would already be considered a failure. While I sat there by the fire, contemplating what I would do if he did not come back, a dead rabbit, gutted completely was held in front of my face. “Here wha-” was all I heard before I turned around startled and swung with my right. My aim was true and found home to Boris’s face as he hit the grass staring up at me with an angry face, clutching onto the dead rabbit.

“Holy hell, what have I told you about sneaking up on me?!” as I walked towards Boris. I held my hand to him to help him up. “What is your problem. You are far to unprepared for these wilds to be startled so easily. I wanted to show you we could finally have a good stew tonight.” He got up under his own power and sat on the opposite side of the fire, beginning to skin the rabbit. “Well I apologize. Though you found some game. Good job!” I say with a hint of pride. Finally our hunting cleric nabbed something. He seemed a bit down though. “I didn’t kill it. I found it in a trap already dead. Should still taste good. I stared at the rabbit, which now upon closer look in the fire’s light, looked even less appeasing. Its ‘freshness’ also questionable. “You know what Boris. You feast. Its your find.” Screw that, I will stick to my cheese right now. I don’t want worms.

The next morning we traveled into the forest, to the supposed camp and mentally prepared ourselves to what may come. During the ride, Stonehands got a look at Boris who once again had a black eye but this time on his left. “Ha ha, so you go peaking in Adra’s tent boy?” gesturing towards his eye. Boris shook his head. Adra then turned around to Stonehands and I with a befuddled look. “Wasn’t you?” he said to Adra. “If he did try such a thing, we would instead have a headless cleric on our hands” she said. Then they both stared at me. “Hey, I told him to stop sneaking up on me. Not my fault” I answer back before any wrong judgment is made. Stoney started laughing and for a brief moment I thought I saw Adra smile before she quickly rode off ahead. “So ye cold cocked the kid eh? He appeared in your tent or what?”

“Well if your all alone in the darkness for an hour or so, only to have a dead rabbit shoved abruptly in your face from behind, what would you do?” Stonehands still chuckling. “Well kid you know what I would do, I would….oh fuck me.” “Uh no thanks Stoney.” My friend’s face went from cheerful to serious in a heartbeat and I then heard Boris call out from the front. “Guys!?” I look out to what caused my friend to have his humor stripped so fast. Perfectly on the path in front of us was a dwarf, with a throwing axe in each hand, clad in platemail, deep red hair, massive red beard, and a set of fierce eyes staring back at us. No doubt, any wrong impression or move, this dwarf would start chucking steel mayhem in our direction in an instant. Adra on horseback started to get her bow out, Stonehands slowed down and Boris kept muttering what we should do. I reached my senses out towards the man and sensed nothing dark although nothing good either.

It was only then as I studied him for a few more seconds that he looked familiar to me. “Wait, hold” I said to my party. I had the brief flashing memory in Oleg meeting Kesten Garress, that I recall this dwarf telling tales with the lieutenant’s men. “Hail!” I screamed out to the dwarf. “Stay where you are boy” the dwarf replied back in gravelly voice. “Mourngrim, stand down” shouted Lt. Garress as he slowly appeared on the side of the road with a few of his men. The dwarf just stared at us for a few seconds before he put his axes on what appeared to be magnetic plates on the front of his armor. With a loud cling-cling the axes slid perfectly into place on his armor and the now unarmed dwarf walked back to the group of soldiers.

The lieutenant explained that him and his men were checking to make sure the camp which we were now at, stayed clear and bandit free. Apparently the group that came before us had already cleared them out but he wanted to make sure it stayed that way. We discussed more matters of what was going on while Adra and Stoney were apparently now working together tracking something nearby. This all happening as Boris was setting up camp for the soldiers, explaining in great detail the many differences in knots and which ones were needed for whatever occasion. After a while me and Boris noticed that Adra and Stoney were trying to move a wagon that was to the outside of the camp. Well Stoney was trying to move it with Adra ridiculing him on not being able to move it.

“Look I am all for equality but I could use some help woman” he grunted at Adra while pressing his back to the wagon. “Hah like I am going to get into the muck. You do it. Your kind are used to getting dirty anyways, aren’t you?” Stonehands seemed like he was about to let out a less than gentlemanly response when under his over exerted force, he fell into the mud beside the wagon. Boris looked at the heavily damaged, beyond repair wagon up and down. “Do you think we can use anything on this wagon for ours?” he said asking the group. “No. It is far to damaged to be of use” I reply to him. “What of its cover?” he quickly adds. “Do you not see the several holes and arrows in it?” Adra snaps back. Boris just stared, examining the wagon. “Ugh, what you trying to move this for?” I asked Adra and Stonehands. “There seems to be some recently disturbed earth underneath” answered Adra. I shrug and to which I got beside Stonehands to help him finally push the wagon enough to where the said patch of earth was even noticeable to me.

“What about the wheels. Or any of the side posts to be salvaged?” Boris asked. Stonehands shook his head. “Naw, the wood seems too rotten and other parts seem splinted.” Boris went to open his mouth again, to ask about the wagon again I am sure. Before he could let out anything, all three of us turned to him and in unison said “NO!”. He then shrugged and walked away, back to helping the soldiers set up camp. There was a matter of digging on the earth which revealed a nice little haul of absinthe and other little trinkets with a tad of coin to be had. We shared two bottles amongst the group of soldiers for the night to which was absolutely amazing. The morning after Lt. Garress suggested that if we go further into the woods that we shouldn’t take the wagon, it would impede on our travels. He mentioned that he would take our wagon back to Oleg and keep is safe there. Plus it would be helpful to ease the burden of equipment on the men.

“One last thing” Garress said. “I am sending Kurgar with you” motioning towards the dwarf in platemail. “I paid him for about a week or so. Plus he is great in a battle. You could use a man like him out there. In fact he was a member of the prior group down here. He knows more about these parts than I.” I get a good look at the dwarf Kurgar and feel the distinct impression he was not a man who was easy to get along with nor enjoy company. “He is to be trusted?” I asked. Kesten chuckled. “As long as he is being paid, yea he is. He has helped us without any problems ever since I came down here. I know he isn’t easy to get along with but” I stopped him right there. “Let me guess, he will grow on me?” I interjected. “Yea. Like moss grows on a log in a fire” he replied in a tired expression. I just took my House kin’s word and made my way over to Kurgar.

“Hello there. Kurgar I was told was it? My name is Cedric. Nice to meet you” as I held out my hand to Kurgar. He gave me this hateful look that would put Adra’s to shame. He finally spit at my feet and walked past me. “Yea, nice to meet you too” he replied harshly. Yea. I can tell. This will work out fine.

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Kurgar's Musings - The Brown Goodness

The past week out with the waterheads has been relatively surprising. Admittedly, they’re not completely incompetent, but they still do things that make me scratch my head and wonder how they made it this far and are still alive…

The human cleric (Or hunter. Or whatever. Don’t ask me how that works. Damn humans and their “Gods this and Gods that. Mine is better than yours” crap. Bah.) still mucks about with his head firmly placed deep within his own cleft of Kyber, and his use of that undead messenger bird continues to disturb everyone every time he uses it.

The cursed thing screeches with the pain of a thousand Kyber-damned souls before streaking off to deliver inane messages like “Hey Oleg! I’m happiest in the woods.” and “Hey Oleg! I just pooped!”

His ongoing unenlightened curiosity will probably get us all killed, and for someone who claims to be a hunter of monsters he’s particularly inept at killing them. Just ask the owlbear. Oh wait, you can’t. I was the one that killed it.

I can’t figure out this one out, and I’ll be damned if I’ll try any further.

The other manling seems to be fairly competent if somewhat distracted by grog, twat, and his own voice. He’ll speak around a subject in order to appear circumspect. It makes him sound like a manling child. Speak plainly boy. Say your piece and shut your cheesepipe.

What if they don’t like what you said, you ask? Fuck ‘em. Kill ‘em. Or kill ‘em then fuck ‘em. Your choice.

That being said, he knows how to handle himself when things get ugly, and the healing power he has was definitely a benefit to me while the owlbear was trying to eat my face.

The other dwarf continues to perplex me. His skill in the forge is decent, and from the way he speaks, it’s obvious his knowledge surpasses his ability. He’s hinted that he made some sort of drastic alchemical mistake that ravaged his hands and burned some of his skill away. He took the road of high honor and left his clan rather than stay and disgrace it.

And that stinks worse than gnomes.

It’s always the common folk that pay the cost of “honor” to the house or clan, never the reverse. I learned long ago, that honor is just a petty concept for those who cannot think on their own, take what they want, and give only what must be given.

The 8th Cohort learned the price of honor outside of Zarash’ak at the hands of filthy hobs and stinking greenskins. House Kundarak repaid the cohort’s service by letting bodies rot in lands far from the stone of the Mror Holds. Honor is a fool’s game.

Finally there is the woman. I’m more and more impressed with her archery skills and apparent lack of conscience. Murdering a drunkard in his own bed while he’s passed out from absinthe takes a deliciously bent set of morals…

…though she’s too stupid to not stand downwind while I’m pissing two days of beer into a river.

I’m pretty sure that the alcohol and all the protein from the dried meat rations is what made my piss so pungent and dark. I should probably drink more water…

She took a hefty face full of the brown goodness, but didn’t scream in revulsion and take off running. I’m guessing that with her murderously flexible morals, she likes perverted, kinky stuff like that.

Bet that diary’s full of filth…

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