King of the Stolen Lands

Adra's Journal: Session 8
Session 8: A mess of things

Session 8: “A Mess of Things”

From the journal of Adra Kellen:

Barrakas 1, 818
Halcyon, Miron
Evening

As I write this I can hear music in the streets and cheers from the townsfolk. I don’t think they’ll be done anytime soon. It’s been a good year for them, so I guess when the court throws a party they oblige. Cedric started off today’s festivities with a speech which spoke of the ambitions of the people of this new nation. He made it brief as I believe he had participated in last night’s revelry. Some of the other councilors said a few words. I was far too interested in the our guests to really pay attention to the speeches.

Lady Cisarovna was in attendance with both of Boris’ siblings. Although Lady Cisarovna did not speak of it I could tell that Ilsa had honed her skills. The lady had asked for a report on the new nation which I gladly presented. I had personally assembled dossiers on the last year for each of the visiting nobles from the north. Of course they were screened and were kept clear of any revealing information on our nation, but served as a good review of our work in the reclaimed ‘stolen lands.’

Agent Vethel was also present as he was representing Lord Noleski Surtova and the Crown of Rhestilor. I kept an eye on his whereabouts ever since he arrived in town. My previous encounters with him left me with unease. I sent several of my agents to keep track of him and found he had moved on to seeking the affections of Councilor Svetlana. I will need to keep The Hand informed.

During my time out with the public I received a letter from Bokken. Apparently his writing is far superior to his speech. It was almost elegant. He requested we seek out his brother who he called a villain and a criminal. He bid we treat him as such and bring him to justice. I’ll need to look into this matter at a later date.

The dinner was the closest we’ve had to a formal meal since we were last in Brindol. Cedric had worked for days to ensure we had everything in place. Having everyone’s eyes on the new nation we all spent a little time to be prepared for the event.


Barrakas 4, 818
Tatzlford, Soon to be annexed
Late evening

We had left Halcyon near dawn to ride out to Tatzlford. Loy and his wife had made a request in person at the celebration for us to come out and see the small settlement that they had erected at the site of what used to be the Tatzlwyrms’ lair. They had petitioned to set up a trading post out to the west almost a year ago. Cedric had given them his blessing, but held off officially annexing the settlement. We have had trade with the small village, but haven’t had a good view of it until today. We arrived in the evening after a long days ride. Cedric immediately went about speaking to Loy and the other villagers. I only wished to rest, but was encouraged by the prospect of a bed, rather than a cot, waiting for me when my work was done. The people of Tatzlford seem to be genuinely happy with their lot. They enjoy living out here on the frontier of our nation and seem to be in harmony with the forest. We enquired about the Fey, but any of our concerns were rebuffed. Apparently, they have had little to no problems with them.

After talking and visiting with the locals, the others went to drink and smoke with the village leaders. I decided it was a good time as any to sneak off to get some much needed rest. I had forgotten how rough traveling in these lands can be. My trip back to the inn was diverted when I spotted several unsavory types lingering at the edge of the palisades near one of the paths leading deeper into the forest. I followed, cautious not to attract anyone’s attention. The cloaked figures were of the river people, like the gypsies up at Leventon. These individuals however had different clothing, perhaps a different clan? I can never tell with these people. However, I followed them a distance from the village and they stopped. I waited and nearly fell asleep when I heard the sound of croaking. The Boggard we had encountered months ago crept out of the woods and dropped a small wooden crate on the path. The gypsies pulled out several bags, similar to the one that Boris had initially given it. It appears that the gypsies are trading hallucinogens to the Boggard for something. One of the gypsies opened the crate and a faint glow spread out from the opening. One of them said something about the contents being fresh and within moments a horseman rode in and the gypsies handed off the crate to him. The Boggard had already sunk back into the forest and the gypsies quickly dispersed. I waiting long enough for them to depart and made my way back to the inn.


Barrakas 5, 818
Narlmarches
Evening

We traveled from Tatzlford further into the Narlmarches. I had informed the others as to what had occurred the night before. Cedric was just as interested as I was in finding out what substance the gypsies were receiving from the Boggard. We figured that while we were out in the Narlmarches we would explore some of it that we had not gotten to over a year ago. The others all felt it was a nice change of pace from taking care of our fledgling nation. I wasn’t so sure. I had grown comfortable to life in town again. Things may be more complicated, but I know how to operate within that web of bureaucracy and intrigue. Out here anything goes.

For instance. We ran across a new tribe of kobolds today. Boris initially spotted them and we made our way to them to see if we could establish an alliance as we had done with the Soot-Scales. Initially these kobolds, the Thwamp-Tails, were more interested in staying hidden. However, I spoke with them in Draconic and was able to convince them to hear us out. They listened, but had a request before they would do anything with us. They wanted the Boggard dead. Apparently it has been terrorizing them and eating many of their tribe. We had learned that Boggard had been up to this last year from the Soot-Scales, but they had stayed clear of it. This tribe’s range must be within that of the Boggard’s ‘Kingdom.’ We told the kobolds we would look into it and visit the Boggard. Maybe we could persuade it from making war on the kobolds. While I have grown to appreciate what kobolds can do, I am not eager to make another treaty with more scaly creatures. We had a spoken truce with the Boggard, but really that was just convincing an imbecile that we weren’t a threat to its ‘kingdom.’ I am more interested in seeing what this Boggard is trading with the gypsies. The kobolds confirmed that they have seen it trade with ‘our kind,’ receiving ‘fairy dust’ in return. The hallucinogen that Boris had initially found on one of the bandits seemingly is a known narcotic. The kobolds told of how it alters the mind and gives the consumer increased strength.

We decide that after exploring the area we will return to the Boggard’s home and speak with it. Hopefully we can resolve this without having to come to arms. I don’t want to fight a raging frogman.


Barrakas 9, 818
Narlmarches
Late Evening

I’m not sure what to make of what happened today. We had finished exploring the area just west of Tatzlford and decided to return to the Boggard. We are currently resting for the evening on a trail back to Tatzlford.

When we arrived we found it’s ‘kingdom’ in worse condition than we had originally found it. Whatever improvements the thing had made had fallen into disrepair. When we approached the structures that it used as a dwelling we came across its frog-like pet. Everyone had dismounted and tied off their horses, except Boris kept Panther with him. As we neared the creature both Cedric and I gave a shout to the Boggard. It refused to see us. It remained within one of the stone structures and we could barely see it through what was left of a window. Our attempts at convincing it to come out and speak with us fail.

We press on and try to ask it what its been trading with the gypsies. It claims it’s the ‘Forest’s Bounty.’ Which would be helpful if we knew what that was. We ask that it discontinue its trade with them and tell it that it should no longer take the ‘fairy dust.’ It seems to get confused and angry when we tell it that the drug is bad for it. It seems it can recall a certain priest of Balinor offering a bag of ‘fairy dust’ up for trade. We also pressed on the kobold issue in which it just replied that the kobolds were food. Boris was very upset with the idea of sentient life eating sentient life. I could really care less. I wanted to stop this illicit goods trade and the Boggard was a best lead.

After what seemed like an hour of shouting questions and receiving poorly articulated answers it finally told us to leave. I responded by telling it to make us. I probably should have kept my mouth shut. Or atleast phrased what I said a little differently as it responded by throwing a spear at me. I tried to dodge out of the way at the last minute, but the Flame forsaken land had begun to swallow up my boot. I went to jump away and my foot was stuck in the mud. The spear impaled my leg and embedded itself into the soft earth. I nearly collapsed from the pain. I carefully pulled the spear from my leg and tossed the thing into the marsh. I reached out and asked the Silver Flame to heal my wounds. I reached down to my leg and the warmth of the silver light that had enveloped my hands washed away any indication of a wound. I was still in pain and my leg was near useless to stand on. I would require days of rest or more magical healing to mend my leg completely. The others had engaged the frog creature as the Boggard continued to toss spears at Cedric who was clearly trying to draw it out. Boris, Stone, and Panther fought the frog creature and finally put it down after it had lashed out at Panther with its barbed tongues. Another reason I would prefer to stay in town. The Boggard continued to throw spears and found its home through a weak spot in Cedric’s armor. He took the hit which appeared worse than my own and kept walking forward. I managed to get myself up to a knee and took aim and fired an arrow. It hit and the Boggard seemed to hardly feel it. The others began to cross the marsh and when they had reached the shore of the structure the Boggard made its escape. The thing vanished from my view and I fell back and sat there waiting for the others to return.

Cedric was fuming mad. He wanted to talk to the thing but we ended up chasing it off and potentially making a very strong enemy. The thing knew the location of Tatzlford and could easily kill every single person in that village. Boris recovered several small leather bags that held ‘fairy dust’ and Cedric promptly told him to destroy them. I argued we keep them as evidence when we went to prosecute the gypsies. They were consumed by fire. Boris also located a small cache of coins. After seeing to raiding the Boggard’s lair Boris healed my wound fully removing the soreness and weakness from my leg. I had spotted tools at the far side of the Boggard’s island and investigated. The tools appeared to be used for harvesting something that hung out of reach. The tools consisted of stilts, long poles with various tools attached to the ends, and a harness that could carry them. They also ended up in the fire. We were all a bit upset at how the exchange went. Stone and Cedric argued with Boris over morality. In fact they are still arguing about it…


Barrakas 10, 818
Tatzlford
Middle of the night.

Well. We have really made a mess of things.

We returned to Tatzlford in the late evening. We went directly to the inn and went to the rooms we had a few days ago. We hardly spoke to each other when we got in. I was tired and I really didn’t feel like spending time with the others.

I was awoken by a tapping at the window of my room. A kobold was at the window, one of Zat’s Hands. He notified me that Zat was behind me and then ran off. Kobolds. I turned around to find Zat on my bed. He’s done this before when he wanted to speak in private. I haven’t been able to figure out how he does it. Zat wanted to talk about what happened out in the marsh. It seems he had a contingent of Hands following us. When I questioned him, he said he had Hands watching every council member, especially after what nearly happened to Svetlana. We discussed what happened with the Boggard and the Thwamp-Tail. He said it was his job to maintain the borders. We overstepped our positions and went gallivanting into the woods. We didn’t stop to think about the politics out here. The Boggard was a known quantity. Zat knew where he was and was able to keep an eye on him and his activities. I wish he would have come to me when he saw that it was trading goods for drugs. Zat realized that we need to be on better terms, more communication between us. The Thwamp-Tails are not to be trusted. Zat added that he could round a couple of them up for us to talk to if we would like. I wouldn’t mind speaking to one with the assistance of Zat and the Hands. I wanted to get Cedric during our conversation, but Zat protested. He wanted to keep what we were doing from Cedric. I don’t mind doing that as it’s really none of his concern anyway. Zat and I should be handling this kind of problem.

I just hope we haven’t disrupted the balance out here too much.


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Adventure Log – Session 8: Evidently my unit is fluent in the language of narcotics, I will make note of this

It would seem that my unit finds my ethical system perplexing.

Wantonly hunting sentient life, killing sentient life, and eating the flesh of sentient life is a particularly malicious act. Consuming the flesh of the same or similar species can result in kuru disease, a form of neurological damaging that results in the loss of fine motor proficiency manifesting in a distinct and constant shaking. The more such flesh consumed, the higher the risk, and the higher the corruption becomes. However there are cases where doing so has been ruled as acceptable by most high-priests in the church if both necessary for survival, and if the flesh died by means other than malicious intent to murder in order to consume sentient flesh. However penance and cleansing rituals to purify the body and soul must then be performed. These rituals vary in form, function and overall severity depending on both the mortal interpretation of the pantheons wishes as a whole, the individual deity in particular, as well as the notice and the whim of the god, gods, or servants involved in policing such events.

Further while I find the use of foreign particulates in order to escape reality for on a purely entertaining level to be base. I would not stop most people from following their life path down this dark turn. I would certainly counsel against the use of damaging narcotics, and those that cause one to loose touch with there surroundings in such a fashion to cause others harm – such as a city watchmen or a physician. I would act in a much more fervent manor to prevent such a fault to develop within my family, for example. In other cases many such drugs are often harmless and similar to imbibing alcohol with the intent to become inebriated. Alcohol as a whole is a public health benefit, as the water is often purified by a clergymen and is also separated from non-water parts during distillation.

The healers I have been studying under have been debating the use of sand layered along with charcoal in a repetitive pattern as a method for separating pure water from other liquids and particulates found in rivers and streams, but at first I found this line of reasoning largely academic, as we have clergymen able to purify water for the population at a rate that is quite sufficient for our current needs. However, there is the interesting theory that providing ways beyond that of the magical or divine to produce a given effect would save such magical and divine energies for use else ware to be intriguing. All the same I have a strong suspicion that the gods feed on the use of there clergymen’s belief as well as the use of divine energy. Perhaps in casting divine magic’s we take unpalatable arcane magic and transform it into a more palatable form of sustenance that the gods feed upon. I would argue that there is a mutual beneficial outcome of the cleric divine relationship as we mortals gain powerful healing magic’s, and the gods are then provided with additional sustenance more appealing to there pallets. I suppose the best course of action would be to make use of both divine magic’s and sentient ingenuity to provide for redundancy.

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Adventure Log – Session 7: A year of peace and courtship

Unfortunately the human population does not find my idea of raising insects as foodstuffs appealing. Fortunately the kobold population finds the idea inciting. I continue to prepare insects of various sorts for the weekly town meetings. My grandmothers roasted crickets, fried, battered, and covered with sugar, and cinnamon seem to be quite popular among the kobold youth. In general the kobolds seem most appreciative of my insect cuisine.

Working closely with the healers and engineers we have determined that rabbits were the best non-insect meat animal to raise – resulting in the most meat per acre at the lowest cost to produce. As an added bonus rabbit seems to be an acceptable food source among both the human and the kobold populations.

I have sent word to my family in the old country that they are welcome in the new settlement. Several families have moved to help secure an additional source of food and stability. My cousin Wolfrick, with help from other part-time, has been training a full two units of rangers, a unit consisting of seven, in advanced wilderness survival techniques.

I seem to get along nicely with one of the ranger students named Aibreann (pronounced Ab-rawn). She is a rather fierce young lady with the willpower of a river cutting into a mountain. We spend many hours hunting game in the surrounding countryside, and seem to get along well. She is interested in preparing for a calamity (her version centers around the troll threat). Mother would respect her personality, approve of her healthy appearance, she is of the correct faith, but mother may not approve of her lowborn heritage. I will have to present her for approval.

Addressing the troll threat I have been researching various methods of fire enchantments to place on my unit’s weaponry. Additionally I have been looking into magical equestrian gear – Panther agrees that magical horseshoes of speed would make life more efficient. I think given enough study, thought and prayer I could give this enchanting of items a crack.

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Adventure Log – Session 6: Engineers and Healers

I am quite adamant on a thoroughly clean city, free of preventable diseases. Towards that end I have been working a great deal with the engineers and healers hired by the kingdom.

An elaborate stonework sewage system is being meticulously planned. We have engineered the system to be quite large in order to handle floodwaters as well as allow for city patrols to operate freely in order to keep undesirable creatures in check. The sewer system will embody the pinnacle of public health.

As for the farmlands we have set up a system of water retention fields setup alongside high sloped countered lines. These retention ponds have a series of interlocking U-shaped reservoirs. These water retention fields cut down on the need for extensive aquifers, irrigation from the rivers, pumping from wells, and help prepare for the occasional drought.

The groundwork in being laid out for a rather elaborate bathhouse. Soap, basins, and indoor waterfalls will allow for a primitive form of bathing as water is showered over a high wall on the side of a tall, but thin basin. This is to remove as many impurities from the body as possible before bathing properly. The bathhouse proper will be quite a feat to behold as it will take water from the nearby river, hold it in large reservoirs where under coal and wood will be burned to warm the waters, which intern will be mixed to provide a warm bathing experience for a clean, healthy, and content populous. The massive bathing pool will indeed be a worldly wonder.

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Kurgar’s Musings – Bastard Xoriat-tainted Tuskgutter...

Since the fall of the 8th, I’ve yet to find a cohort that is measures up, but these fools may be worthy of my axes.

Until recently, this job for the Kyber-rutting, Host-buggering, Flame-felching Swordlords was a cakewalk. I think one day I briefly considered that I should probably feel guilty for taking their money, and truth be told, I’ve had tougher jobs in the city. With the short sightlines, shadows, and strange echoes, providing protection in a city is a nightmare. I’ve lost count of the number of cuts and stab wounds I suffered. I’ve also lost track of the foolish throats I’ve throttled, cut, and torn out.

That all changed about a week ago. The Ninth of Nymn will forever be burned into my mind.

We were told that there was a large boar, Tuskgutter by name, that was extremely territorial and attacking travelers and woodsmen in the deepest reaches of The Narlmarches.

Go kill the boar they said.

We’ll pay you a reward they said.

Nowhere did those choadswallowing bastards say anything about a Xoriat-corrupted, evilly intelligent, and completely psychotic hog.

And until I stepped into that silent hollow, I had not thought about the feel and smell of Xoriat-tainted land in a long, long time. To be honest, my fear nearly unmanned me. Mind you death doesn’t frighten me, nor does pain. I know for certain that both are my constant companions.

But the madness of Xoriat terrifies me.

I’m a fucking dwarf. I know stone and metal, but even I can see the unnatural bend and skew of nature where Xoriat walks, and this beast was more than touched by it. Tuskgutter’s very roars echoed with joy, bloodlust, and an invitation to join with it. The creature’s tainted intelligence made my skin crawl, and unfortunately even my mightiest blows fairly came to naught. I was merely an annoyance.

The others’ were doing a decent job of inflicting damage, so I took it upon myself to ensure that I was the biggest annoyance I could be, distracting it, and taking hits where I could. I’m sure Adra would have something wonderfully droll to write into that book of hers about it…

We were lucky in that Tuskgutter was fast, mean, brutal, and alone. My old cohort wasn’t so lucky.

Maybe that is what makes these waterheads different: They’re lucky.

Regardless, I’ve faced Xoriat’s filth again, and come out stronger for it. I don’t think I’ll ever step to battle with such foulness with no trepidation, but next time…

Well, next time will be next time.

In other news, it was good to see Ellios again, and Adra was being a nosy snoop. There’s a reason the common folk despise organized religions.

Life is too short. Find solace where you can.

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Adra's Journal: Session 5
Session 5: Tuskgutter's End

Session 5: “Tuskgutter’s End”

From the journal of Adra Kellen:

Nymm 2, 817
On the Trail, between Oleg’s and Tuskwater Fortress
Evening

I had a chance to speak with Jhod during our travel to the Tuskwater Fortress. He shared with me that the fortress was once a monastery to the Hag Queen Gyronna. Apparently, Jhod has a good deal of knowledge pertaining to these lands. The monastery was home to a coven of witches that worshipped this hag as a god, as she granted them wishes. From what Jhod has told me, I believe that this coven was a Cult of the Dragon Below. Many of these cults have similar themes and this one being led by a hag is no different from the numerous cults I have studied in my lessons as an acolyte. I once had the displeasure of discovering a cult masquerading as worshippers of Arawai. This one, from the sound of it called itself a monastery and attracted ascetics for quiet study and reflection while the coven preyed on them.


Nymm 3, 817
Tuskwater Fortress
Evening

Back in the fortress. Even though Cedric and the two supposedly reforming bandits cleaned up the mess from a few days ago, knowing its history the fort has taken on a more sinister feel. Not to mention the imminent threat of the undead just outside, in the fields surrounding the fort. Jhod has discussed how we should go about killing the abominations, while I suggested we take positions atop the walls and fire at them from safety. We will take to this tomorrow.

When we arrived I noticed that Cedric wasn’t exactly himself. Curious. I wonder if this fort has had an effect on him. Its history of witches and hags could have corrupted more than the graves out in the fields. I have alerted him to the fort’s past and he has had a feeling that something impure had gone on here, even before the Stag Lord took up its residence. He has assured me that no evil has overtaken him. He complained to Stonehands that he has had little to nothing to drink; apparently that flask on his hip is not endless…


Nymm 4, 817
Tuskwater Fortress
Evening

The undead are finally at rest. Between Jhod, Boris, and I we were able to make sure that the bodies of the monastery’s previous inhabitants never rise again. The dead bandits were burned shortly after we left for Oleg’s several days ago. It’s as if the fort itself has brightened. The dark halls of its interior seem to be slightly brighter and the courtyard is fresher, as if a great wind had blown away any remnants of what ever had lingered here. Glory to the Flame.

Nymm 6, 817
Tuskwater Fortress
Morning

A message has arrived from Oleg’s. The missive was addressed to us by the Sword Lords. Apparently our letters were received. An agent of the Sword Lords will be sent down to Oleg’s within the next few weeks, hopefully by the end of the month. This comes as we were discussing finishing the exploration of the forest to the west to further complete the charter. The plan was to ride out today and return before Lharvion.


Nymm 6, 817
Edge of the forest, the Narlmarches
Evening

We rode out to the forest’s edge and decided to make camp just outside the Narlmarches. Cedric was a little less than eager to re-enter the forest as last time he was afflicted with green fur, fey curse. We broke out our gear and made camp. Boris has decided to go hunting before the sun sets. The rest of are remaining here.

Cedric has been uncharacteristically quiet on the trip from the fort. I was able to speak with him, though I might have unnerved him as I haven’t been too comfortable talking with the rest of the party. I just haven’t really had reason to. This situation is of concern. Cedric is the default leader of this expedition and if his head is not in the right place then we are all in danger. He assured me that he was focused on the mission. Apparently there has been some situation in the north concerning his family and his thoughts have wandered to their wellbeing and safety. Acceptable, though he should be able to distance himself. From what I can understand, Cedric has been away from his house and family commitments for nearly a decade. I’ve been away nearly as long. I can’t say I understand his devotion. If he left his family there’s a reason for it. Why else would you leave?

Boris made his way back to camp with a trapper in tow. The two of them seemed to have been able to take down a bear. Our hunter had success. Cedric seemed slightly uneasy about the man who entered the camp, though I could only assess that he was similar to the trappers out here in this lawless land. I could detect no ill intention, only a need to be free of any law or civilization. He immediately took a liking to Stonehands and was thrilled to see Kurgar. Let me repeat that. Thrilled to see Kurgar…

I took a closer interest in this man, he had introduced himself as Ellios and had been trapping in the area for the last few years. The man had a certain sophistication about him that just didn’t lend to trapping or for being thrilled to see Kurgar. Seriously? Anyway, he gave us the majority of the bear and joined us for dinner. He shared what he knew about the Narlmarches and the Greenbelt as a whole, much of which we either deciphered on our own or had been told by others.


Nymm 7, 817
Edge of the forest, the Narlmarches
Early Morning

By the Eternal Flame, I had the most uncomfortable sleep. My rest was constantly interrupted by a rustling and howling not far from camp. It only seemed to get louder when Kurgar was on watch. He had gone to investigate whatever was making the noise and had remained out of sight for most of his watch. I could only make out his return when it was my turn to take watch. The dwarf really should invest in some small clothes, and to think he spent the duration of his watch dressed or should I say hardly dressed like that is beyond me. I’m sometimes happy that I can’t see through darkness like some other races. I had asked him what the noise was; he claimed it was trolls mating. Once again, human sight is well enough.


Nymm 8, 817
The Narlmarches
Late afternoon

This morning Cedric’s and Stone’s afflictions had returned. Cedric was once again covered in green fur and Stone had rabbit ears sprouting from where his ought to be. He was also cursed with a tail that resembled a rabbit’s. I was unfortunate enough to have discovered this. Stone seems to have accepted his new appearance while Cedric has remained completely covered by his plate armor. He has kept his helmet on for most of the day only removing it while we rested. While we explored we discussed some lofty subjects, including psionics and the kalashtar. I wouldn’t have guessed that any of this company would be at all knowledgeable on these topics. Surprises never cease.


Nymm 9, 817
The Narlmarches
Evening

We have made camp a safe distance from the horrific den of Tuskgutter. Earlier today we had found a set of strange hoof prints that resembled a boar’s, though they were slightly deformed. Based on the evidence we had found the day before and what Ellios had shared with us we figured that we were approaching the den of Tuskgutter. By midafternoon, we had come across a despoiled land; the trees were twisted in unnatural ways the ground looked as if no living thing had grown there for ages.

As we ventured further into the desecrated land a thick fog covered the ground and almost seemed to swallow up the sound of the surrounding forest. No birds were heard or any other creature. Our horses refused to enter any further and we had to leave them at the edge of the fog. We finally came upon a tree that contained a large hollow beneath it. The mostly obscured ground showed signs of blood and carnage that led to the hollow’s entrance. When we approached the tree, we were all unnerved. Cedric remained the most calm, while Kurgar was the farthest from. I had not seen the dwarf in such a condition. He was sweating profusely and nearly panting from fear. His skin had turned the starkest white and was visibly trembling.

Just as Boris was about to enter the hollow the creature attacked us from the trees! This was no ordinary boar, the thing was nightmare made real. It resembled a boar in only that it had tusks and hooved feet, everything else was alien. Its jaws were segmented much like the mandibles of an insect while its legs seemed adapted to springing and climbing despite its hooved feet. An evil intelligence gleamed in its crimson eyes, the thing was Khyber touched.

Boris was lucky; the thing merely impaled him and tossed him away. Our weapons seemed to do only minimal harm to the creature while Cedric’s sword devastated it. My arrows had little to no effect and in fact one had hit squarely, but was repelled by the creature’s unnatural hide. I chose cold iron arrows to fire next and the wounds it caused gave me hope we could finish the beast. The others had engaged it in melee and Stonehands delivered a killing blow that left his axe embedded in its corpse. As the thing shuddered it began to dissolve and deflate as black ichor dripped from the multiple wounds we had inflicted. The ichor seemed to further spoil the land. The creature’s head remained along with its deadly tusks.

We investigated the aberration’s den and found it to be as horrific, if not more so, that the creature itself. The cramped space under the tree was filled with bones, though not scattered and random as a natural animal’s den. The remains were arranged by a wicked intelligence driven by some unnatural evil. Crude symbols were drawn on the crumbling walls and on the earthen floor. I recognized them, but could not decipher them. Merely looking upon them had made me dizzy and repelled my intention to investigate further. The markings were of the Xoriat, the plane of madness. The creature was undoubtedly from that plane or had been left behind from its incursion to our world so long ago. Though, a more sinister and more alarming origin could be from deep within the land. Not all Xoriat creatures were eliminated or sent back to their plane. Some had remained deep within Khyber, harboring those that sought the path of madness. We should hope that this creature was an anomaly, for having a gateway to Khyber in this land would be, most unfortunate.


Nymm 10, 817
Clearing East of the Skunk River- the Narlmarches
Evening

While we have put more than a day’s travel between us and the horror of Tuskgutter’s lair, we have still encountered the creature’s unmistakable tracks. The creature’s range was rather far and looking back we may have seen its tracks as far north as the mouth of the Skunk River. I had shared my appreciation of being as far away from that den as we were and Kurgar finally broke his silence. He had not been himself since the encounter with Tuskgutter. He was quieter and less unwholesome, keeping to himself. That is not to say he is normally talkative, say like Stonehands or Cedric, but he usually will grunt or share some vile story about his conquests or regale us with his time as a mercenary. He explained that his company had faced a similar encounter to the one we had faced the day before. The company was unprepared and lost a significant number. He was scant with details and it was best not to press him. While writing, fey music can be overheard. It’s as it was the numerous times before. The others assure me that they will not venture into the night.


Nymm 11, 817
Boggard ‘Kingdom’-Sunken ruins, marsh, west of Skunk River, the Narlmarches
Evening

Today was interesting. I am writing from the ruins of a small village? It’s hard to tell exactly as the mire has reclaimed much of the worked stone and left only a few structures even remotely intact. We had passed over the Skunk River and entered a mire west of the river. Boris was the first to spot two buildings, or what was left of them. He also noticed what looked to be signs of recent habitation. When we had time to investigate it was evident that some of the ruined structures had been improved upon. This is where we encountered the boggard and its frog-like pet? The boggard was not openly hostile and even attempted to trade with Boris. He produced a dark green gem for the bag of hallucinogens Boris had found at the fort. We had known about the boggard from the kobolds, and it confirmed that it had eaten quite a few of our potential allies. It also claimed to rule these lands, the sunken ruins. We had little reason to dispute its rule as its intelligence was no more than that of a child claiming to be a knight wielding a wooden sword.

I can’t say I am pleased to be sleeping in a swamp…The agent should be back by the time we return. I can hold onto the idea of returning to civilization.


Nymm 15, 817
Balinor Monument, the Narlmarches
Early Evening

The worshippers of the old gods had a great day of laboring to clear an ancient monument to Balinor. We came across an overgrown statue of Balinor as his Stag avatar. Boris was most excited and immediately went about clearing debris from it. Cedric joined in and Stone also assisted. I had lost track of Kurgar in all of this as I remained focused on my notes. It gave me time to organize a few notes I had made over the last few days, which had been mostly uneventful. We made significant progress exploring the Narlmarches and at this rate should be back to the fort in a week’s time.

I need to mention that without my diligent note keeping and mapping we would be nowhere near completing this charter. Boris has proven himself to be a fair woodsman and has had the apparent luck of his patron god as we keep stumbling upon his temples and shrines. Stone has been useful in a fight and while supposedly on pilgrimage has done little to warrant my attention. The priest that sent him on this pilgrimage should be cited, I have never once heard of our clergy sending our faithful, new to the fold or not, on some quest to receive healings or other blessings. It is, however, completely within reason to send the Purified on a pilgrimage for spiritual examination or to do work in the name of the Flame. Kurgar…he’s useful…in a fight. Cedric has proven himself to be a worthy leader. He has been able to keep the charter’s goals above his own or the rest of the party’s. I respect that devotion to the mission. It’s a shame that he continues to follow an antiquated philosophy. I’ve already discussed faiths with him and he is unyielding. I respect that, anyone with flimsy beliefs is not to be trusted.


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Into The Maw Part III: The Aftermath

Into The Maw Part III: The Aftermath

     The adrenaline started to to wear shortly after and I was finally able to take in sight of what we had just went through. Several bodies lay strewn about, limbs missing, organs freed from their rightful place, blood from one joining others in a massive pool, and a giant owl bear to the far end in an equally large pool of it’s own blood. “Well, I am tired and I am sure as hell not cleaning this up. I’m hitting the hay” said Kurgar. He then grasped onto a bloody cot and dragged it outside and started to go to sleep. “Oh he cannot be serious. Yes it is late but much more work needs to be done” Boris said. He surveyed the area with great intent and finally decided to plop down in a small puddle of blood next to the body of Fat Nori. Well what was rest of Fat Nori.

     Boris with surprising macabre strength then started to rip into the remains of Fat Nori, seemingly like he was trying to find something. “Oh heavens man. What on earth are you doing?” I say in disgust. “These men could have swallowed something valuable when we initiated our attack” he replied. “Well I assure you Boris, the only thing that you are going to find in that man’s stomach is his lunch.” Stonehands I noticed started trotting to the corner with a rather pale look on his face. “Speaking of lunch, excuse me, I am gonna lose mine” which he said in a hurry. Right after that Stoney vomited and hurled until he was in dry heaves. “I did not figure him for a weak stomach. Interesting…” said Adra. Stonehands was then starting to wipe some puke from his chin as he spun around to address me and Adra. “Ya know I understand how this madman over here digging into people isn’t disturbed by this. Though you two, come on. How does this not disgust you” as he gestured to the bloodbath that encompassed the room.

     Adra simply shrugged. “I’ve seen worse”. I did not even have a response. To be honest I did not even give it a thought at all. I mean yes the stench was slowly beginning to fill my nostrils and some of the bodies in particular were displayed in a gruesome fashion. This oddly enough did not bother me at all. It made me think right there and then, after everything I have been through since I have left home, just how desensitized I have become. That I do not even bat an eyelash to a scene of slaughtered bodies. Huh. I wonder if this is why I drink a lot, to repress something? No, nope. That is not it. Damn, am I more like our Inquisitor then? I turn and see Akiros turning into the room to survey the damage as he made his way to the courtyard. He had this certain expression on his face that the death he was looking at was inconsequential. I really hope that was not the same look I wore

     “Aha!” shouted Boris as he popped up from the body he was searching. He sprinted towards us and held out in his bloody hands a small leather pouch to which he opened to show it’s contents. “See there was something in that man. I knew it. What is it by the way?” Me and Adra gave a once over at the powdered contents and said in unison “Drugs.” He smiled as he tied the pouch back up and stowed it away in one of his belt pouches. “Well drugs are quiet valuable. That is sure to net some good value to someone.” Adra stepped forward and stared him down. “So you will knowingly break the law for financial gain?” Boris laughed. “Then we can arrest the person who bought the drugs, take the drugs back and resell them. I say it is a way to weed out criminals and raise profit for us.” Adra scowled and turned away from him. “Why do I even bother” she said.

     Shortly after that Stonehands found another bandit named Topper Red, which he quickly added that he seemed to be like Akiros, a decent man in the wrong place. Adra rolled her eyes and still took to questioning him and interrogated him sternly. I did not get the notion that the man enjoyed nor partook in evil acts, so I decided to lump him in with Akiros to see if redemption and atonement was an option. In our talk with him we did get from him there was someone else downstairs. An old prisoner that the Stag Lord kept in the basement. That his sole purpose was to keep him alive just to beat, cripple, and maim.

     “Sounds like that could be pappa Stag Lord” Boris said. “What on earth makes you think this poor old man would be that monster’s father” I said. Boris was lost in thought for a moment and replied. “Well I would imagine that someone like the Stag Lord would kill anyone who got in his way. Though if he is keeping the man alive to just hurt him, then it is personal. It is an older man and this Stag Lord clearly had issues. So all signs point to it being his father.”

     We gathered up and headed down into the basement to see to this poor old man. Upon entering the celler, a horrid stench hit us. This was more akin to that of blood that sat around to long, sweat that clung to clothing for ages, and feces that has sat around even further. We did find a small cell to which contained nobody, or so I thought. The old prisoner in question turned out to be some horrible magic user as we found him darting back and forth on the wall. We did not even had a chance to use words with the man for he attacked us first, sending hordes of rats and an ant that was my size in a direct attack against us. This all was happening while Kurgar decided he needed his beauty sleep. The battle faded quickly and the old man was promptly knocked out. This man set off my internal alarms and once again that white, hot feeling of hate washed over me in this man’s presence. Me and Adra agreed to let the man sleep off the beating to which we would give questioning in the morning.

     We all wearily headed back up, piled up all the bodies in the owl bear pen in case they got back and started walking around again. Hey there were zombies next door, it could have happened. Better to be paranoid about nothing than being oblivious. We then tried to get the best rest we could outside the compound. The next day would have to hold a complete search of the fort, questioning of the old man, and a clear decision of what to be done next.

     I started to tussle and turn in my sleep, for which thoughts we what kept me awake. The whole situation of my House being entangled in a war had me worried. What made it worse was that I knew so little and all I had were questions and possible scenarios playing in my head. I opened my eyes and just stared there, in my bed roll, just looking at the stars. I reached over, grabbed my sword and held it close to me. “Hell of a night. Man that was awesome. You see the way that oaf looked at you when you spilled him! Jeez I miss moments like that” Darius said enthusiastically. “I am happy you could enjoy that particular moment” I dryly responded. “So. I noticed that you had an episode back there when the mean dwarf was getting chomped on by the owl bear. Care to explain?” he said. “Just an empathic backlash. Reminded me of you a bit in your last moments. Did not want to see anything happen to anyone in my group.” The image of my friend Darius laying against the wall with arrows, two small hatchets, and a sword protruding from him kept flashing in my head. “Yea but that dwarf is an asshole. If he died, one less problem for you in the future right?” I sighed as I thought about it. Yes it would technically be one less problem. It would not be the right thing to do though. “Even though the man has been crass, he has been loyal to the goal. Regardless he is part of the group. That is all to it.”

     Then the thought of losing my family started to play in my head. Seeing my father, my brothers, mother, sisters….everyone in that same position and pose that Darius was in started to haunt me. “I need to talk to you about another matter. What do you think of me….possibly staying here? Setting up a safe haven for my family. For anyone for the matter?” Everything was starting to eat at me. If something were to happen to my family I would want them protected. Sheltered from a war that need not to be fought. They could be here. With me. Here we can start a new life. This land requires so much help. The short time I have been here I have already come to that conclusion. I have seen it bad before. Corrupt cities, unsupported hamlets, and others of the likes. This was a bit different. Those were establishments that had other people that could possibly, maybe do something. Here though, out in the Green Belt. There was chaos. No order, no help. Just nothing.

     “Well that is ambitious of you I will give you that. I like it a lot better then you running onto a massive battlefield and getting your head lopped off. Then you are dead and some other jackass takes me off your corpse and probably melts me down.” I stayed there looking up at the stars examining each one with purpose, like somehow there, I was going to find an answer to my problem. “Well you never actually told me if the idea was good or not” I said. Darius sighed and grumbled a bit. “Does not matter what I think. Seems you set your mind that you are going to stay here and take this damn spooky sunken fortress. Sword Lords are not going to like it if they want you out and set you up elsewhere.” I thought about it for the moment and smiled. “No. Something tells me I was meant to be here. Everything that has happened as of late. I bet they will just say thanks for taking care of the immediate threat down here and I will be good to go.”

     I heard crunching of gravel near me and I sat up quickly ready to unsheathe my sword. Adra was standing near the bonfire in the center of camp just staring at me. “Who were you talking to?” I saw her then peer out to scan the surrounding area and then back to me. “I have a godddess. Do you ever speak to the one you are faithful to?” I reply. She cocked her head to the side and squinted her eyes harder at me. “Heavens woman don’t look at me like that. I have a hard enough time trying to sleep as is.” She shook her head and walked away, back to her chair by the fire. “Oooh she almost caught us! Then you would have to explain to her that I am one of the many voices you hear in your head. Such fun!” Darius laughed. I took my sword and gently flung it underneath my pillow. “Jerk” I mumbled.

      I was awoken by the sound of a horrible, agonizing scream. It was Boris’s wretched,skeletal, fey bird. That was definitely something I wanted to hear first thing in the morning. To hear at all in any time of the day and in any situation in matter of fact. Boris walked over to me while reading a small letter.

     “Uh the bird carried with it a message from Oleg. He said when you were able to that you have received a parcel. From your sister it appears.” He frowned as he was reading the rest of the message. “He also says to speak with Keston Garress. It does not seem well.” A cold feeling started to bubble up in the pit of my stomach. What befell of my family now? This was not a good way to wake up at all and start the day.

     I got up and made my way around inside the fort and to my surprise, Topper Red and Akiros where still here and started up a small pot of stew for the group. Adra sauntered up next to me as I was nearing the basement stairs, to deal with the old man that we took down last night. “So will you let this one free after you are done questioning him. Like the others?” I shook my head at her while hunkering my head down so it would not hit the top part of the wall heading down. “This one does not live regardless. I could feel corruption dripping from his very being” I replied. We found the old man in his cellar where we left him and to my surprise, still unconscious. Adra pulled him up a bit by the handcuffs she slapped on him to make sure they were not loosened or any other matter of trickery to be had.

     I crouched next to the emaciated, old man and pressed my left palm to his head and with it his eyes began to flicker open. Not much to my amazement that the old man seemed delirious. A raving lunatic even. Adra was questioning him and the only thing we could find out that was any use or slightly informative that the man in question was indeed the Stag Lord’s father. Score one to Boris for the amazing insight. His rambling after a few minutes began to make me weary as there was no point to let his life continue any longer.

     We had him propped up, on his knees waiting to be executed. Adra started to pull out her bow as I gently pushed her to the side as I began to draw Darius. “No, let me. You put down the son, I will put down the father.” She put back her bow and nodded. “What we offer is a mercy.” The old man tried to stand back up but I quickly pushed him back down on his knees. “If you have a God or Goddess, pray to him or her now, so I may send you. Let them be your last words” I said.

     The old man started a small rant and again I grew tired of it, this time rather quickly. I targeted him with my own divine judgment as I felt that same white hot, hate cascade over me. I held Darius over the old man, with a downward thrust with it’s point, into the man’s vertebrae and through his throat. He gurgled for a second or two and then finally just stopped. “I have to admit it. I did not think someone with your…restrictions would kill a man like that. Old, bound up, clearly not in his right mind, and unarmed. Just curious, I thought knights like you had a certain code of honor” I heard Adra said. I wiped the mans blood off on his tattered rags and drew my sword back into my sheath. “Simple. Evil things need to be dispatched. No matter what the situation. Plus they are not worthy of my honor.” She just smiled, nodded and repeated once again “It was an act of mercy.”

     I dragged the dead body up the stairs and while doing so already saw Kurgar taking off on a horse without even so much as saying a goodbye. Well who could blame him. He is a mercenary. He did his job and he was off to collect. Not much more to it. I took the man over to the pen with the other dead bodies and shoved him in. “Rot with your bastard son you filth.”

     Everyone was talking of heading back to Oleg’s but I was not in the mood for such a thing. At this point I wanted to stay here and settle like I planned on doing. That and I needed to become more acquainted to Akiros and Topper Red. I was not going to leave a building like this to two bandits I hardly knew, even if I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. That and there was the whole issue of having to clean up the dead bodies. Oh yes and the dead bodies that were still moving around outside the walls. Crap almost forgot about those for some reason.

     I told Stonehands to retrieve the parcel that was waiting for me at Oleg’s. I relayed to both Stonehands and Adra that I would also like Lt. Garress down here to rotate shifts on guarding this now acquired fort plus to bring in Jhod to see if he could help with the undead problem. They both gave me a worried look when I said I was staying but would await their return. Adra seemed she was about to say something but closed her mouth and left. Stonehands did not also like the idea but gave into it when I firmly stood my ground.

     So there I was. Standing alone by the gate of the Stag Lord’s Fort. Watching my group gallop off into the distance. I stood there, taking in stock of everything that needed to be done. I would hope this place would clean up ok and these two bandits still had a shot of redemption before them. I made my way inside only to see Akiros dragging bodies out of the pen into a neat pile outside, in the back of the fort. “What are you doing exactly?” He threw what was once the Stag Lord into the pile, spit on the body and then turned to me. “Well this place needs to be cleaned up right? Plus we need to burn this bunch. Don’t want them coming back as anything else now do we?” Me and him looked around and really saw how much there needed to be done. Just how much blood there was in this whole place. It then at that moment looked like to large of a task. Topper Red came up to us with buckets and rags. “Come on guys, we got work to do. Hope you don’t mind getting your hands bloody.” Akiros grumbled something about having to much blood on his hands as he took a torch to the mound of bodies and straw. I thought about it for a moment. How much blood would I get on my hands before my time was up?

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Adventure Log – Session 6: Civil War

We finished the exploration of the lands under our charter and related cartography work. The Sword Lord inspector came to determine whether or not we were successful in removing the banditry pestilence affecting the area. His inquiries were answered in a satisfactory manor.

My father was slain in a recent skirmish. My mother wants to wash her hands clean of the matter, while my brother vows revenge. My mother seems to be handling the news in her own way, and I have a need to support her. Perhaps I can convince my brother of this.

The unit and I were summoned before the Council of the Sword Lords. We were each in tern granted awards according to kind. I was presented with a medal of valor, and a knighthood. I was named the next Scion of my house.

We were given the means necessary to build a settlement in the lands we charted. It would seem that men, many young, are eager to give the frontier life a go. I find it peculiar that a great many ladies of the evening are planning on settling the area arounf the Fortified Abby of Serenity.

It will be interesting to build a settlement.

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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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