Chapter 5: I return from the kolbold negotiations and find that a party member has died/reborn, help kill a werewolf, have a taste of the madness that is politics and public opinion, muse on my physical weaknesses, and experience loyalty and sacrifice (from afar).
And so after a two week negotiations with the kolbolds over the “silver mine” (made much easier with my mastery of the draconic tongue and for the first time in my life – positive regard for my appearance – some started to refer to me as “Brother Dragon –Devil”) and a battle or two with creatures I encountered along the way (Note to self: hire a bodyguard when traveling alone) – I return to the group of would be kingdom-makers who have gained a charter by more…lawful means.
Sam was radically different in appearance. It appears he was killed in combat and now (through a spell of reincarnation) has a more mature look to him, which now with his stutter gone helps with his social interactions. The lad in a man’s body still seems a bit awkward; losing his virginity will take care of that (Note to self: arrange for prostitution to be legal in our kingdom) but there is no doubt to his courage and eagerness to rush into battle. Experience will temper him…or an early grave will be his fate. Upon arrival, two problems turned up that we had to deal with.
Disappearances of locals and a heavy set man who enflamed the public, accusing us of bring misfortune to the fledging kingdom because of our efforts at taming the land. After some investigation – I helped in tracking down the villain to his room. (My spy master abilities are nothing to brag about – lucky for me I was able to brush off his questions of me following him by pretending to visit the same prostitute as he did – ah, I do miss my misspent days at the Leather Rose – the local brothel I spent most of my “fortune” – but I digress.) We killed the werewolf that had claimed a number of victims. The heavyset man blamed us in public for the deaths and was very skilled at twisting our words to portray us as incompetent, corrupt…. Our attempts to defend ourselves made the problem worse. I thought best just to kill the man – perhaps too much of the bandit in me – but I believe that once someone shows you who he is – believe him. (You can only ask for justice/mercy/respect once – the rest it is akin to taking to a deaf man.) We took off to help recover a kidnapped woman and tracked her to a lair of Lizardfolk. Due to my lack of swimming skills – I almost drowned and spent most of the encounter having arrows embedded in my back. (Note to self: learn Fly spell.) Finally we managed to defeat the tribe and find our victim, tapped and given over to a will-o’wisp, who sadistically fed on her while slowly electrocuting her to death. She was at its mercy but agreed to a trade – the gnome’s servant creature (called – an eidolon I believe – and he has named her Ptichka.) While she – I assume the creature is female – knew she was in no danger of permanent death, it was fascinating to see Ptichka willingly allow herself to be tortured to death to save the woman. It was obvious by the gnome’s emotional discomfort that he did not see Ptichka as a slave but rather a favored pet…or perhaps friend, comrade in battle? Because of my racial background, my interactions with others tend to be negative. I am accustomed to hate, anger, distrust and agreements only as good as long as you have the strength to enforce them – so I must admit this experience (of friendship? Loyalty/Honor?) is a strange one. I admit I have a soft spot to the gnome – to be introduced to him and to be “welcomed” by being the brunt of a joke of having a large nose – is ironically, the most positive greeting I have ever encountered.
We returned as heroes by all – except the trouble maker who accused of setting up the woman’s capture, etc., etc….a challenge to a duel by our caviler didn’t work. Finally we had him arrested and kicked him out of our kingdom. Burned notes found in the home he was staying at, hinted at that he was hired by a rival…it appears our success is disturbing others. Off we went to explore. We encountered a group of gnomes who had trouble with their cart crossing a river. I was no long in danger of drowning – due to a magic ring of swimming I was able to swim out and save three of the halflings. (I did get run over by the cart once though. Thank the abyss for thick skulls protected by horns!) The leader was a professional map maker – who asked for outrageous prices for his maps. We were able to get an idea of the troll lair from him. (Note to self: learn Fireball spell.)
We then explored an abandoned tower that appeared to be made by elves. I was then stabbed a number of times in the back by a rapidly moving creature. We went deeper into the fort and then encountered creatures of the fey – an ugly brute and a delightful woman who reminded me of Rebecca –the sadistic madam of the Leather Rose. “Rebecca” had the ability to charm us all with a scandalous dance. I was caught in her embrace and her bites sapped one of strength and vitality…I dropped to the ground unconscious and in danger of dying if it were not for the caviler healing me with a divine spell. I awoke – burned her with my magic, and with the help of the party, brought her and the brute down. As I write these words – two things stand out for me. First, it may be that the fey is actively seeking to impose their will on the land. Or perhaps they were in charge all along and do not enjoy the “intruders’ setting up a kingdom. I will strive to do as much research on the fey as I can. Knowledge of one’s enemies is a powerful weapon. Second, while I will never be a physical warrior such as Sam or the caviler….my weakness is disturbing. During my time with the kolbolds, they shared knowledge of rituals, diet, potions – that would bring out one’s natural dragon-side, if it existed in an individual. They encouraged me to do so and seemed confused why I would have any hesitation in doing so. I have never worried about fitting in, but I do have some concern if my intellect or abilities may be damaged if I walk down this road…although the kolbolds say that there is no danger on that front. I perform the first ritual tonight…