Kingmaker

First Foray
greenbelt, session 1,

After meeting Master Varn and his entourage, a fellow named Willis who rides a wolf and gave Derrick a magic necromantic bone dagger of unknown function and a mage of some sort, we set off to Oleg’s fort/trading post. After we arrived, we were mistaken for the guard the mayor had promised Oleg some time ago. In addition, Oleg described his life long dream of having a tasselwhatsit head on his mantle. His wife, Svetlana, related to Vrenick that the bandits had stolen her wedding ring, and also that she was trying to get pregnant and could use a certain ind of radish. Apparently she had been sneaking out at night to collect them. The radishes were delivered, however we could not locate the wedding ring, it may have been stolen by some weird creature. We also met Breig, the unsavory trapper.

Oleg informed us that once a month he is cleaned out by bandits, and we agreed to deal with them. There was a short fight at the gates with a small band, Haps and 2 henchmen were killed, [[: Woody | Woodard]] (Woody) and another less cooperative bandit were captured. Woody surrendered, and agreed to provide us intel. The other bandit promised us gold for his life, and instead lead us to a spiders den where he was killed. We found a map on a dead bandit in the den that we could not make sense of, it referenced a particular tree and river.

In the assault on the bandit camp, half the party was taken down, while woody cam to the rescue and shot Vrenle? the female bandit leader twice enabling us to be victorious.

Next we hunted tuskgutter, the boar on behalf of Veckle who lost his leg to it. The boar was no challenge, however a troll attacked our camp, destroying our tents, looting our things, and killing 2 horses and a pony.

We also received a letter from Master Varn asking after us and requesting a reply.

In the process of the above, we explored several areas of the greenbelt.

View
Burning Men and Fairy Queens

 

Dear Brother Uvnar,

I hope this missive finds you in fine health and I hope your studies are progressing smashingly.  As promised, I am continuing to write to you with updates regarding my recent appointment to the Greenbelt charter expedition.  Below you will find some notes regarding the last several days exploring "our" land.

...The other night, while at Svetlana's Outpost, we heard the arrival of a rider.  We were all stirred from our slumber to discover an apparent co-charterer.  Imagine our surprise to see his alarming appearance.  As he pulled his heavy winter cloak's hood back, he revealed an almost obscenely ordinary NOSE!  I simply had to touch it!  The others at the outpost seemed genuinely disturbed by his appearance, especially his horns, tails and claws but they seemed glamoured or enchanted because they failed to notice his ridiculously quotidian nose!  Well, this sorcerer apparently holds a charter as well.  Excellent, I say!  The more the merrier.  And now no one glowers at poor little Ptička as they are too busy loathing the sorcerer.  His ancestors apparently fraternized with a devil or some other evil outsider.  Foolish humans!

In the morning we travelled to see an alchemist.  This man, Bokken, is clearly a man of considerable knowledge and wisdom.  Indeed, had he not been so disgustingly tall, I would swear he was Gnomish!  His clever uses of all things alchemical made me want to converse with him regarding possible future training, but that must wait.  He all but pledged fealty at the promise of a stone laboratory.  His thatched shack was rather ramshackle.  Silly human, doesn't he know the old child's tale of the "three wolves and the big bad chipmunk"?  I digress.  He offered a magic wand of healing for a fair price if we fetched some berries for him.  We accepted.

We explored the area of his home and found evidence of "mite" activity.  We returned to Svetlana's to discover exciting news…news I cannot share, but here is a hint: remember the tale of the badger that fed the mare?!  Also, we met a most agreeable fellow who was the last of our charter.  He is some sort of follower of the god of drunkards…why other races need alcohol to free them of their inhibitions I will never know.  Whatever works I guess.

Lyrace, I believe the name was, was accompanied by a dour priest of Eyrastil.  The codger seemed dull but in a scheming sort of way.  He asked us to check out the "temple of the elk".  And so we set off on a major exploration expedition.  As we travelled we saw a most regal animal, a "red dog" (thylacine) whose wit matched his beautiful back stripes.  I conversed with him at length and he deemed me most capable and the natural leader the group.  Had the others been able to understand the creature I am sure they would have humored him and agreed.  Hierarchal leadership is too rigid for my liking!  I suppose things could be worse though!  We could be in Galt!  Well, he gave us the lay of the land and we set off and discovered a small "mite" mine of some delightfully sparkly metal…gold perhaps.

We eventually found the berries which were in a terrible bush of delightful gooseberries!  I remember the gooseberry tarts that Veema used to make!  Ah, most toothsome!  So, there was a horde of nasty little spiders that harassed us.  Filthy vermin!  Yuck!  That follower of Desna I told you about, well he doused himself in alchemical fire to get rid of the swarms of spiders.  What bravado, what…silliness!  Desna must truly bless this man, if he dreams up these sorts of astounding feats!

Afterwards we explored more and found a few places to cross the river.  The Thorn River has its banks encased in thorny brambles.  Why they do not grow on the other rivers is a mystery.  We came across the Skunk River as well.  But unlike the charmingly playful aroma of skunk, this river actually stank (I discovered later that humans think that skunks stink!  Who knew?!)...

There at the Skunk River we encountered a boggard of dubious moral character.  I mean, he doesn't even have protruding ears!  Hello!?  Alas, my compatriots wished to deal with him in a manner I found frustrating.  But I am not their leader, so let them trade with the foul thing.  The equestrian and fellow follower of Desna in our group seemed to have a special fondness of the creature.  Perhaps I should ask if he had a dream that foreshadowed his dealings with the boggard. 

We discovered the Temple of the Elk and killed some, man-bear inside a cave.  Rather uneventful, really.  You see, Uvnar, we have a man-boy of prodigious martial skill and strength.  Few foes can stand for long before him without crumpling.  Add to that the talented pantomiming and bladework of the bard and the weapons of the others and we are quite a formidable crowd!

We encountered a trapped and terrified (and thus dangerous) red dog later (or was it earlier?) and Lyrace deftly brought it down.  The bard's compassionate side became evident and he insisted that we save the beast.  I couldn't have agreed more!  I think this bard has more going on than meets the eye.

We returned to Svetlana's and told that old Eyrastilite about the temple and he was grateful.  He apparently knew about the man-bear in the temple.  Humans are such amateur lairs!  How farcical! 

We headed West and encountered Breig's field of traps and Lyrace was mauled rather horribly by the traps.  Ptička tried to help but the man squirmed around to much and the trap went off again!  Ouch!  I have several bear traps now.  We should return to this area and collect the rest since Breig is dead (we found him murdered later).

We also encountered two delightful fairies who played some clever pranks on us.  The others seemed annoyed.  They requested some entertainment or other pleasures and I penned a limerick for them:

There once was a Fairie Queen

Whose behind was a sight to be seen

The King was quite glad

As she wasn't half-bad

And he liked to do things most obscene

 The fairy dragon and grigg were delightful friends and we quickly made alliances to bring civilization to the region in a sane manner.  Because the others were there I didn't go into my plans for the Greenbelt, but I will converse with them alone sometime soon.

We finally slew a Tassilwyrm thing.  We brought it back to Svetlana's husband who had fixated upon having one and we were rewarded well. 

On one of our forays into the forest we encountered that foul troll again!  We nearly killed it, but it escaped.  I feel that this troll should be dispatched before we are caught off guard.

Let's see…what else happened?  We ran into some foolish nobles running in the woods for a cheap thrill.  Their guides seemed like sensible folk and they said they will look for us at Svetlana's Outpost once they deliver their nobles to town.

About the bandits:  They seem to be harassing Brevoy more and we will need to get rid of them before we can recruit settlers. 

We've travelled over most of the charter territory and rode well over 300 miles in the last several days.  I am tired and want to rest for a day or two, but I suspect we will be off again soon.  Take care!

-Venrickagorn

 

View
Of Bandits and Kings

On this day, 1 Desnus 4710, we have founded the first city of our fledgling country, Lakefort, on the site of the former base of the Stag Lord. From henceforth, on this day each year shall be celebrated the anniversary of our founding. It is a good location for a city: by the lake and with easy access to the rivers, and with plenty of fertile farmland around. And it is an auspicious day for our country’s birth; the first warm months of Spring, the season of new beginnings.

The first group of settlers are just coming in, as I write these words, a long line of carriages stretching across the path back to Brevoy. They come for myriad reasons, but at heart I think they are here for the same reasons I am here: to leave behind their old life so they may find a better one in the Greenbelt. They have come a long way, these men and women. It is many leagues to Brevoy. Perhaps it is better so. We have come here to found a new kingdom, not a mere barony that Brevoy may snap up at a moments’ leisure. Whatever be the intentions of those who gave us our charters.

It has been a strange time, these past few weeks. This wilderness is so unfamiliar to a child of the city like me. And we were sent here to tame it. And tame it we have, or at least the northern half, the part we were originally chartered to keep.

The last stage of exploration began with us mapping the Shrike river. There we found an undead spirit who called himself Nettles, who demanded we slay the Stag Lord, lest he haunt us eternally. We assured him we would but, like many of the restless dead, he was most unreasonable. The time given to us was much to small, and it lent a certain urgency to our quest.

As we made our way further into unexplored territory, we found a great Sycamore, surrounded my mite tracks. We had finally found the nest of the little vermin. Cleansing it, however, was an arduous task indeed. It was a great system of tunnels, under the earth, and navigating them was difficult for many of us. Their leader seemed to be using kobold blood and flesh to create explosive alchemical concoctions which were used on us liberally and with glee. We barely managed to succeed at defeating him and freeing a kobold prisoner. Deep in that tunnel I caught a glimpse of a strange tentacled creature, but we wisely decided to leave rather than fight it. The Kobold insisted we return to their camp as soon as possible, and return their ‘god’, a strange winged statue.

The chief of the kobolds told us that their tribe had a new shaman, who apparently used great magic to summon their god, and had taken control over the tribe, we agreed to rid them of him if they would agree to peace between us. The gnome, thankfully, acquiesced to this. Truthfully, I had been worried that he would have been harder to persuade. Venrick is a good man gnome, but his hatred of kobolds borders on the extreme.

After fighting the shaman, however, I believe we have learned the reason why. The shaman’s summon was of course not a god, but an eidolon like our diminutive friend’s. More worryingly, it was disturbingly similar in form. Venrick believes that the shaman was not a kobold at all (and I am inclined to agree, given that kobolds of a purple coloration are nowhere found to my knowledge), but a member of his family, cursed by a great Fey queen. I must admit, the story sounds ridiculous when written plainly like that. But I believe him. Fey have been known to do stranger things, and if Venrick believed kobolds to have been responsible for his kin’s death prior to this, it would explain his opinion of them.

We succeeded in driving the shaman away, though he yet lives, and agreed to a treaty of non-aggression with the kobolds. It was wise to not make them our enemies. I think we shall have enemies aplenty soon enough.

When we returned to Oleg’s, we discovered a message for us. The swordlords of Rostland, troubled by increased bandit activity, offered us a reward for the Stag Lord’s head. They also issued us a new charter, fully doubling the lands assigned to us. Fortunately we had learned the location of the bandit fortress from the kobold we rescued. We rode at last to confront this bandit king, and rid the land of his menace once and for all.

What we found was a fortress. An imposing wooden palisade on a lake that seemed impossible for us to breach. Clearly a frontal assault was out of the question. We spent some time discussing ways to get it. It was the tiefling who suggested that we pretend to be envoys of a great crime lord from Brevoy.

I must make a confession here. I had been mistrustful of our sorcerer for some time. It had not been because of his demonic heritage. After all, I of all people have no right to judge another by the contents of his blood. But the mark on his horse, and the knowledge he displayed of New Stetven’s underworld, soured me to him. His plan only made me more suspicious,, but it was the best one we had.

Sadly it did not work. A man from Nisroch, who called himself Dovan, agreed to let us in, but only if we brought the head of the cleric of Desna. Obviously this was out of the question.Derrick is a good companion who has humored my strange requests many times, and I would never raise a hand against him. I write this here as I wish to make it very clear that I was only jesting when I suggested we cut his head of. Truly.

In order to keep up the pretense, however, we set north as though we were making for Oleg’s. In the night we were visited by another of the Stag Lord’s follower’s, indeed his second in command, who called himself Akiros. Yet strangely, he seemed to me a man of integrity, and most unsuited to his current employ. I have learned, over the years I have practiced my… profession, to read a man’s character. It seems to me he was once a devout and upright follower of Erastil (from the pendant he wears around his neck), but time has changed him greatly. Still, he followed the Stag Lord not out of loyalty, but because he saw him as the only stabilizing influence in such a wild land.

He demanded to know our true reasons for being there. Much to my astonishment, the sorcerer not only told him the truth, but confessed things even the rest of us had not known: His past as a bandit, and how he got his hands on a charter. My mistrust in him, it seems, was ill founded.

That, and a good word in from Woody, convinced him to trust us. He let us into the fortress, and after a great battle we slew the Stag Lord. Not only that, but Akiros agreed to aid us in the future. So we have not one but two former bandit helping to rule our little kingdom. Such irony! Yet strangely, I find I do not worry. Perhaps it is a reminder: that I of all people also do not have the right to judge another by the contents of his past.

In the bowels of the fortress, I learned what it takes, to make a man like the Stag Lord. It is a memory I shall keep with me, distasteful as it may be. I shall say no more here.

And so we founded our kingdom at the site of our victory. We have divided the administrative duties among ourselves: the sorcerer handles magical affairs, while Derrick is in charge of keeping the lands safe. Akiros has agreed to help keep the peace, while Oleg helps handle our treasury. Sam shall patrol the wilderness, while Lyras is now our high priest. At his insistence, we have begun construction on a tavern. I must confess myself pleased. I have sorely felt it lack, unable to ply my craft or pay homage to my god.

Perlivash is now our councilor, and TygTuggerTut is our Spymaster. Surprisingly, it is Venrick who has been at the forefront of our efforts. While we make decisions as a group, he seems a most adept administrator. As for myself, I am now “Grand Diplomat”, though that term has little meaning. Humph. I had thought to leave New Stetven to get away from politics.

But then that had always been a foolish notion. Where there are people, after all, there is politics. Even here, far from the capital of Brevoy and the Dragonscale throne.

Such a motley crew! It is almost a farce, a miniature kingdom led by a council of bandits, gnomes, tieflings and fairies. But one day, the nobles of Brevoy shall have to treat with us – with me – as an equal. I swear it. I must admit, the thought of the consternation on their faces when that day comes is not unpleasant.

Yet at that I cannot help but wonder: what does our dear ‘Regent’ of the Dragonscale Throne think of these tiny kingdoms being formed out here in the Stolen Lands? Is he content to just let them be, as he considers the subtle threat they pose beneath him? I cannot believe that. Noleski is no fool, and one underestimates House Surtova only at their peril. I know that better than most. I fear we shall have many dangers attending us until that day comes…

View
The first casualty

Dear pa ma Maggie Pete and Michael

I hope everything is well at home. How was the harvest? How are the cows pigs and horses? I am terribly sorry that I left without saying good bye. I know I should not have done that and I should have written you earlier. I and my friends are in the stolen lands. The major has given us a charter to take the land and to kill bandits and monsters. We even founded a kingdom. My friends made me the warden. I travel around the land and find criminals and monsters that kill farmers and other people. I hope that I can visit you soon. I have lots to tell you.

In the last few weeks many things have happened. We traveled south from our town lakefort. It was really cold and during the night three groups of wolves attacked us. One of them was really big and made the air ice cold. Derrick Valeria one of my friends almost froze to death in his saddle when the wolves attacked. But we killed them all and saved Derrick before he died. Next to our town there is a lake that was frozen. On the lake we met an old man. He asked us to kill a large turtle that was in his favorite fishing hole. We went there and didn’t see the turtle. Devon found a cave next to the river. He and Derrick and Lyrice went inside the cave which was very small. They found the turtle and tried to kill it but it had a very thick shell. I tried to attack it too but I couldn’t get near it because Devon was standing in the way. The turtle bit him several times and he was bleeding a lot. Then I could get next to the turtle and I tried to kill it using the stroke that pa taught me two summers ago. But I missed because of the shell. I tried several times and then I hit it. Devon and Derrick also hit it. Venrickagorn also came to help with his pet Petitschka. It looks very strange. It has purple hair and a large mouth but it seems to like him. He is a strange gnome but he is very nice to me. After we killed the turtle we found several eggs that we kept warm. Maybe we will have little turtles soon. We took the head of the turtle back to the old man and he gave us a gold ring. Devon was very excited about it.

We walked around for several days. One night I was standing guard and I saw a big cat coming to our tents. I tried to make sounds that would make it my friend but it didn’t listen. I am much better now with making animals my friend. Do you remember how I tried to make our old cow Hilde my friend and it hit me with its butt? The cat suddenly jumped on me and Derrick was screaming in his tent. I used my dagger to get the cat off me. Devon helped me and killed the cat. I ran to the tent and there was an old man stabbing Derrick in the face. Lyrice was taking care of his wounds he is very good with wounds but the crazy old man stabbed him again and again. I was sure that Derrick was dead. Venrickagorn called a hyena that attacked the old man. He always calls all kinds of animals and other things that fight for him. I don’t think he knows how to fight himself. Petitschka hit him too. I also hit him with my greatsword this time using the overhand swing that Peter showed me but he was still standing. Lyrice hit him with his sword and killed him. The others told me that he was the brother of Bakken, the potion maker in our town. I don’t know why he tried to kill Derrick.

We went into the forest and found a nixie and 9 loggers. The nixie looked like a small girl with green skin and silver eyes. I think she normally lives in the water. The loggers had cut down some of the trees and the nixie was upset with them because they had cut down her tree too. Venrickagorn was very upset with the loggers and threatened to kill them if they did not leave the forest alone. Devon and Derrick were nicer to them and paid them 100 gold to go somewhere else.

The nixie asked us to help plant new trees and to get magic seedlings from one of her friends. We agreed and went to see her friend a dryad. She agreed to help us and the nixie if we helped her to kill an evil tree that was walking around and killing all the dryads in the forest. We agreed and looked for it. It was huge! It was almost as tall as the old oak tree in front of the house but it was walking around and waving its branches with large thorns trying to hit us. The dryad had told us that arrows would not work against the tree and so I ran towards it to swing at it with my greatsword. It hit me twice. Venrickagorn later told me that I hit it really good with my sword but I don’t remember it because the tree killed me. Because I was dead I don’t know what happened to the tree. I think my friends killed it somehow. They took me back to the dryad and she called another dryad who asked my friends to swear a holy oath that they would protect the forest. Then she did something to me and I woke up. I don’t really understand what she did but I look different now. I am much taller than before. I have blond hair and a long blond beard. Do you remember the northerners from Ulfen that came through Sweetwater three summers ago? I look like one of them now. But don’t worry I’m still your son sam.

I miss you all a lot. But I have learned a lot since leaving home. I’m really good with my sword now. I am also much better with my bow. I have learned a lot about the forest and animals and nature. A couple of weeks ago I found another friend. Maya is a large black wolf. She follows me everywhere I go. I even teached her to do some things like attack someone and sit guard. But I don’t think she will like Petitschka because she looks strange not like other animals. I will write again soon.

love your son sam

View
Greenbelt Razors: A Novel of Adventure and Exploration

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…

View
We're in charge here...

Excerpt from The Travels of Lyrice Volian:

It is good to be back out in the greenbelt exploring these wild lands. Though our time spent out of Lakefort has been far too little for my liking, we have done well to make the most of it. Perhaps that is all well and good however, seeing as we’ve stared death in the face far to often of late. During this previous excursion there were a number of dangerous and exciting encounters that needed our attention. First was this creature called a Hodag. Fully expecting a dragon, or a Troll, I was completely taken off guard by this huge, scale and spike covered reptile. The various creatures indigenous to this land are a continuing source of amazement for me.

Further along during our trip, I saw perhaps the strangest thing in my life. A troll approached us with what could only be described as a makeshift white flag, though the troll employed a sail. For the life of me I can barely recall why he visited us. Some crazy troll claiming himself king of our empire or something of the sort. Perhaps if more trolls would proclaim themselves king, I could get out of the castle more often. Anyways… we came to a unanimous decision that there is only room for one king of the greenbelt, and decided to deal with this issue immediately.

Eventually we found the lair of the trolls… an old watchtower built into the high hills in the southeastern corner of our chartered lands. Though dangerous, the trolls guarding the entry way seemed easy pickings, and those in nearby chambers were either lazy or afraid. We continued to explore the Troll’s lair, and the noteworthy events were preventing the trolls from capturing Venrick, and planting an exploding crossbow bolt in the neck of a hideous two-headed troll. Also, the Tiefling spell-slinger that generally hurls magical missiles at our enemies has found a nasty little spell – a flaming ball he can control – which the trolls don’t seem enjoy very much.

Ultimately, we found the Troll King (Or rather, we found a devastating fireball that belonged to him). To our surprise, the Troll King was the very same troll that made a meal of our horses and harassed us in the night when we first explored the Greenbelt. We threw up a barrier of trees to prevent him from killing us while we regrouped, which he promptly lit on fire. A spell of command sent him climbing the tree, which set off a series of explosions. Barely alive, I retreated, amazed that the creature still had a head. Shortly thereafter, the King was dead, and the threat to our kingdom ended. Unfortunately, this also signaled the return to the confines of our city… and my return to the my dreadful duties as High Priest.

Excerpt from The Travels of Lyrice Volian:

Finally I convinced these infidels that run this kingdom to construct a Brewery in Lakefort. We’ve been expanding this city for what seems like years now, and we still have to import our beer? I can only hope that they are sensible enough to hasten the development of facilities to brew and sell beer in our other settlements. Anyhow, it was good to be on the road again, even if for a short while. We explored a new area of the Greenbelt that with a rumor attached to it about a magical rapier. In the name of Cayden, I thought this worth pursuing.

Coming across a strange undead crypt, my immediately concern was who or what may have owned this weapon previously, and how powerful might they have been. We set off traps, and fought off skeletons, and eventually came across an undead individual rambling on about barbarian lords and such. I think we had already established our stance on additional kings, lords, and rulers in our region, and so we promptly dispatched this undead being (and took his magical rapier). Unfortunately it was broken, so we’ll have to get it fixed as soon as we return to Lakefort. I’m actually looking forward to the return trip for once. Speaking of, there is our castle in the distance. Wait, where is Bokken’s tower?

View
Assorted Letters by V. Groundminer
an Aborted Varn-meet

 

Waterlily

Grim news…I hope you and yours are well.  Lakefort has been attacked.  We arrived to the scene of terrible destruction.  The Alchemist's tower has been destroyed, along with one of the city walls.

Some mad, twisted shell of a woman ranted and raved within the town center and she preached of Gyrona's insane blessings.  We confronted her and her bloody apron wearing minions.

As she cackled those near her lost their senses.  I am glad you were not here to see the scene unfold.  If we had not had a Cleric of Gorum passing through town, I think it could have turned out poorly.

After calming the populace and setting up defenses we went after the huge creature that destroyed our city wall.  It was a mammoth owlbear.  Its path was easy to follow.  Imagine our surprise when we instead came across a giant.  You have heard that one was roaming the hills, no doubt.  

Imagine my pleasant surprise to find him most amiable. Although he has a fondness of the drink, he is ultimately just a victim of loneliness…every creature should have the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Eternal Rose and because of that I and my friends agreed to help him.  In turn he will help defend our city.  I fear he will be a drain on our coffers (and casks of Shrike Pale Ale) but I think this giant will be worth every copper.

We continued South (telling our giant friend to wait for us).  We came across the lair of the monstrous owlbear.  Nasty little mushroom creatures tried to block our way but we finished them off.  We also dispatched a bunch of hungry little spiders.  Imagine our terrible surprise however when we encountered a vile, centipede infested living vine mound.  We nearly lost one of our own in the fight.  Sam lost his fair wolf and we stopped to find a secluded glade to inter the poor beast.  Sam had grown inordinately fond of the beast.  I think he must be lonely. Perhaps we have more of Shelyn's work to do?!

The horrible owlbear was powerful but we have brave (if not foolhardy) warriors amongst my little troupe.  What was most disturbing though was that it worked for my cursed father.  I wish to restore him or release him for he suffers so and vexes us so.  After a brief exchange of words (he hid like a coward) we were forced to retreat when the cleric of Gorum and that infernal sorcerer fell into a pit of putrescent green goo.  Luckily we fished them out (Ptichka to the rescue!)

We also explored the rest of our charter lands including a horrible mud-caked tendril plant beast.  But it was the encounter with the dragonkind that was most challenging.  It had caustic fumes bellowing from its gaping maw.  In the thin tunnels of a cave hid a forest drake and only by threatening its brood did we manage to tell it to move away.  

I shall return soon and tell you in person all of the details of our adventures.

Ven

 

------

My moon and stars,

Well, we returned home and got busy building our city.  It is thriving and we have managed to also protect the forest and lake lands.  Soon we go off to meet Varn and his people.  Sam is anxious to see his family; now settled in Varnland.  We really should convince them to move here.  I would have thought Sam would have insisted.  Is he a little ashamed of his meager upbringing? 

You know, I have tried to teach Sam a thing or two and I am afraid he is a bit slow to pick it up.  I continue to allow him to charge into battle and he continues to get battered and he has yet to understand why I wait for him to do so…poor boy, it must be so disorienting to be a boy in a man's body…

Unless you hear from me soon, all is well at the "Varn-meet".  With tender wonder and growing thirst I part from your cool waters.  Fare thee well.

Ven

--------

 

...My cattail in a summer wind,

Varn and his people are missing.  We crossed their barren land through a mountain pass until we arrived at Varnhold.  We watch it from a distance.  Horror of horrors…I…I do not wish to alarm you…but the town is filled with…with…Lonely Ones...yes, spriggans.  Oh fie!  Ere my return to you and Lakefort, we must dispatch these wretched souls.  I fear some creatures are beyond reason, and these are among the worst.  I can only pray to Desna that the constant dreams and nightmares I have about fighting them was only an omen of my encounter and not of my demise.  

If I do not return, please take comfort in knowing that I stood brave and resolute; loyal and fierce in the face of these horrors!

Ipray that soon I will see you again. 

Ven

View
Greenbelt Razors
Chapter Seven

Chapter 7: A rebellion is crushed, our city is damaged , a meeting is not kept, a village’s inhabitants vanish, I grow a profound hatred for birds, I grow more powerful and become intoxicated with my power to cast death from the skies above and yet come close to death three times only to be saved by luck, strategy and “love.” And politics rears its ugly head once again…. So much ground to cover…I’ve come a long way from petty robberies and hiding in the shadows from the city guard….

We returned from our adventures to find a riot in the streets…our crown jewel – the city we had most developed – was attacked and a madwoman (a priest I suspect) was stirring up the masses. Thank the abyss we did not debate matters this time and slew most of the troublemakers. I found my physical “improvements” intoxicating. I no longer felt fragile and I laughed at sword blows that would have previously left me bleeding. I cast death with scorching rays of heat and fire cooking my enemies. Delicious! The kobolds were right – blood is blood. (On a side note I was relieved to see that the house of “ill repute” I recently established took no damage – so all was well. Although the alchemist’s shop was damaged – this did cause our economy some short-term stress.)

We took off for a prearranged meeting to link our nation with our neighbors. We built our road and made it to the agreed patch of ground. There was no road and no one to greet us. Off we headed for the nearest city – Varnhold. We crossed a stream near the city and were attacked by a Chull….who quickly grabbed me, paralyzed me and if not for the swift actions of my colleagues – I would have drowned. Humiliating.

We proceeded deeper into the city and encountered a barn with a number of animal corpses. We were set upon by…I know now how else to describe it but a swarm of crows. Their black bodies filled the air, blocking out the sun. In moments all but one of our party members were blinded by the damned bird’s claws! We had to retreat and wait a day until our caviler could heal us all and restore our vision. I was starting to think my new body was not as ‘strong’ as I thought it was.

We found a high spot to view the city and saw groups of spriggans moving throughout the city. (The gnome said they were evil and not to be trusted.) In the distance we saw what appeared to be a fort and we decided to approach it.

We entered the city proper and found a ghost town. The city had been abandoned – but what struck me as odd was that we saw no dead bodies (besides those of horses and livestock.) We explored the city we found some treasure, a journal that spoke of a “discovered bracelet” and a description of a tribe of centaurs (Nomen) that had caused trouble for the locals before. We entered a tavern and found a dead spriggan with a head wound sitting up in a chair. We found a number of books and I triggered a sepia snake sigil protection spell. I awoke at camp site hours later with a strained back. Annoying.

Around this time, a raven began following us around. We talked to it asking it to go away – it said “no.” I hit it with two scorching rays and one of my teammates’ hit it with an arrow. Enough damage to kill a man and still the bird did not fall.

I despise birds. . (Note to self: create a spell specifically focused on destroying all birds in a 100 foot radius.)

We suspect the bird to be an agent of someone, perhaps a familiar.

We ventured back into the city and after some scouting we decide to attack the fort. I would fly in using a new spell I had gained and attack from the sky. I would also find some way to let in my companions from the front gate.

I flew at rapid speed from behind the fort….below I spotted a handful of spriggans and wolves in the courtyard. A fireball flew from my hands and I laughed as I heard their screams of agony as they died. I flew faster…seeing more spriggans attacking my colleagues with bows. Beams of heat flew from my fingertips and they died. I landed and opened the gate, letting them in.

We rushed the courtyard – our enemies fleeing into a structure inside the fort. They believed themselves safe inside the structure, with murder holes to attack us. Fools. As my teammates burst the front door and fought bellow – I flew up at an angle to press our attack.

I was cowardly attacked from behind by another of those vicious creatures. (The wound was serious, but my new body could take it.) In contempt I did not even look and aim as I used the _magic missile _spell to burst his brain.

I flew down a corridor….eager for battle, to destroy my enemies. And then a giant hand lashed out and I fell to the ground, near death. (Three times death held me in her arms in as many days….I think our ranger and I are equal now for near death experiences.)

I am told that the leader of the villains told my allies that I had been captured and I would be slain if they did not surrender. They pressed on with their attack. (I am not sure how I feel about that.)

Somehow they came to the agreement that one of us would fight the leader – if he lost, his group would surrender. If we lost, we would swear loyalty to the tribe. The gnome’s eidolon fought for us…and lost. But there was something not right…somehow the leader had cheated. (We later discovered that through a set of magic rings, the physical harm done to the leader was passed on to his tribe.)

The facts get slightly muddled here but the gnome – through a stroke of genus came on the spot with a plan that was…I am in awe thinking of how razor sharp his mind is to think of such a plan of attack on the spot. (I will never doubt our decision to make him king of our land.)

Our new “leader” asked for magical healing for his wounds. The gnome said I had a powerful potion of healing in my haversack. The leader reached into my bag and drank the only potion inside….

An elixir of love potion.

I awoke in the arms of the leader, who embraced me as his “son” and told me how we would rule our tribe side by side. I must admit that when the opportunity came a few minutes later to attack…I was a bit off balance…trying to understand what the hell had happened. But we killed him and defeated his tribe – who weren’t that sad to see him gone. The accursed magic bird returned and took one of the rings. Again I damaged it with a spell but it was not enough…and away it flew…

(Note to self: All birds. Dead. Now.)

We left and returned home, only to find word that we (as charter holders) were commanded to meet fellow leaders for a meeting. I’ve found more honor among thieves, but the details of that meeting will await another time. I grew weary and we set off early in the morning to continue our adventures…

View
Dream Journal night no. 1241

 

Journal Entry Part I

As predicted my strange dreams continued last night.  As I drifted off asleep under the Valvos Tree I began to see those familiar forms: the "gnome" Venrick, the horned biped, a hairy biped and the holy one with shining armor.

As usual I felt confused as if a veil were blocking my thoughts.  What strange dreamland is this that I must visit every night?  I must discover why the one called Venrick and myself have fates as intertwined as Bilinokh Vines across the great Valvos Tree.  I must continue to investigate this matter.  my primal form changes there as it does here…perhaps my changes are the key to unlock this conundrum…

The armored one suffered still from the near drowning from the day before.  Soon we saw we were not alone, but were joined by an intoxicated holy one and a lumbering oaf behind him.  The gargantuan oaf carried a dead "gnome".  They had killed some flying beasts and the giant was still covered in its quills.  They found two magical belts and when the hairy one put on his it turned him into a female of his species.  Venrick was delighted by such a turn of events and kept reminding the formerly hairy one of HER new found sex.

It was decided that the oaf would guard the armored one while the rest of us went into a hole which led to a tomb.  We encountered some large skeletal things and discovered a tunnel with some water guardian beast that blocked our advance.  Here, the intoxicated one received divine insight and poured gallons of fermented drink into the water which seemed to make the beast sluggish and it swam away.  Venrick asked me to search the watery tunnel and I discovered a doorway into a tomb.  After searching it for shiny bits the group continued.  Here we encountered more of the large skeletal things and triggered a trap that filled the room with water and swimming things they called eels.  I managed to break down the bars blocking our retreat. 

We continued on until we encountered some cursed altars.  The intoxicated holy man was stricken with unclear thinking and loss of insight when the doors into the hall beyond the altars were opened.  There we encountered something called a daemon (pescodaemon), whose squamous form emitted such foul stench that all were nauseated by it.  The battle was bloody and many were struck down and nearly died.  The Daemon seemed to know something of the horned one's paternity and continued to mention it to the horned one, all the while attacking the horned one.  Finally it was destroyed but not without some "friendly fire" amongst the group.

We then entered a chamber and freed a severely wounded quadruped, named Xamanthe.  She was the warrior child of the "centaurs" we had met a few dreams ago.  We returned her to her tribe and we were inducted as honorary members.  They swore fealty to Venrick and we returned to the city.

As I am queen in my lands, so Venrick is ruler of his.  His approach seems more focused on delegating than ruling directly.  And he seems to be preparing for a major event.  They used magic to coax the little dead gnome back to life and somehow the one named Sam managed to return to his male self.  The leaders of this land seem to be preparing for a war as they have outfitted an army and gave them quadrupeds to ride. 

I believe there is a plan to return to the hole in the island in the river so that they can battle a fierce, ancient king for whom the daemon worked.  It will be a terrible, bloody battle I fear and I suspect at least one shall die. 

View
Eulogy given by Akiros on the First Celebration of the Day of Falled Heroes

No matter how long I live, the time I spent with the heroes of the Greenbelt will be remembered with deep sobriety.

I met them at the nadir of my existence. I was a man adrift, seeking but not finding – serving like a dog – to a man who was worse than one. For years I had lived amongst thieves and brigands, slavers and killers. Like the land itself, they were wild, and I was wild too. I lived unrepentant, little more than a sword, a tool of those who would use me. I can never repay those on whom I preyed in those dark times. But it is my sincere hope that I may be judged mercifully for my later actions.

The Heroes of the Greenmarches shook the land, wrenching it from petty squabbles and the misery of misspent years. I sided with them against the Stag Lord, though to my shame I joined the fight when it was all but over.

I like to think I became a better friend to them as time went on. I accompanied them into the realm of the lich, Vordakai. But that is a tale that can be told better by others….and not the purpose for which you have assembled.

But the moment, of which I am most proud, came later. The heroes of the Greenbelt met upon hearing that the city of Tazleford was under attack. It was barely a fort, but occupied by hundreds of folk, it being a place of respite for the sick and weary. They set off on horses of pure magic, tearing across the open land in order to reach the city in time.

The Heroes arrived as the sun began to crawl down toward the horizon, setting up what defenses they could, traps they had collected years before, pits and barricades. Then, with but two score soldiers, they set to defend the city against a barbarian horde, numbering over a thousand.

The horde was led by Aemon Trask, servant of Zon-Kuthon, who rode a demon creature into battle. With him were fifteen trolls, each carrying a siege weapon, designed to batter the walls of Tazleford. Behind him was the horde, Tiger Lord barbarians, the tribe that turned back Taldan regiments, the fiercest empire of the day. They arrived at the outskirts of Tazleford at sunset. The barbarians began the demonic yelling, their drums beats with a sound that filled the vale. With a single command they set upon the city on a hill. They swarmed up to its walls, setting up siege ladders, as trolls used uprooted trees as battering rams.

Lyrice and Sam rained down arrows. The Good King directed his troops as Devon and Derrick bolstered the troops. Orman released torrents of fire as if the very hells themselves had been released. Hundreds of barbarians fell as the Heroes of the Greenbelt held their position.

As the sun came over the horizon, the Heroes saw that many of their comrades, the brave gnomes who fought along side them, bearing brittle bows in frightened hands unaccustomed to war, were injured, exhausted, or dying. Hoping to find some way of protecting them, Devon went to Aemon Trask to beg for parley and for the lives of these innocents. Aemon offered little but bitter words and sent Devon back.

The battle would be won by force of arms rather than by reason.

As the sun rose fully above the horizon, the horde fell upon them again. The walls of the city were breached, and Aemon Trask, who had previously been cravenly commanding from the rear, rode up into the breach.

Six trolls flanked him as they filed into the breach. Aemon stood, the sun behind him, his black laquered plate shining in the brilliant morning sun. He slowly unwound the chain binding his right arm, as horns grew from his head.

Cruel arrows and the Good King’s summoned companion tore two trolls apart, but not before they nearly rent the cavalier priest in two.

Sam, seizing the initiative, charged the evil general. His blade sliced through the evil creature’s armor, but the stroke was not fatal. The mount, a cursed lion, conjured from the hells, fell upon the ranger first. Its claws pulled Sam toward the ground, but he managed to stand. A troll also tried to batter him into submission. Sam still stood. Aemon released the fury of the Abyss, he gored the ranger with his massive horns and drove him to the ground with his shield. His cruel whip lashed around Sam’s neck as arcane disease wracked him. Nearly lifeless, Sam fell.

Derrick, driven by courage and the principle that no comrade of his should die to so horrid a man, rode over trolls as Lyrice and Orman felled them. But Derrick also fell. The lion nearly unseated him, and Aemon’s cruel whip brought another Hero low.

Patichka, loyal servant of the Good King, charged in, following the path others had plowed. She grabbed the cruel chain, wrapped it around Aemon’s neck and throttled him until he fell.

The trolls looked ready to end the battle, to lead the horde, in waves, over the Heroes, whose only protection lied in shambles.

But the Good King and his advisor, Derrick, had planned for months to raise an army. Before they had left, they instructed me to bring them to the field of battle as quickly as I could.

As Aemon fell, the leading line of the Greenmarch calvary crossed the river. The barbarians fled before us. Our horses trampled them as we charged upon them. We threw caution to the wind. Trolls fell before our lances and the barbarian horde, previously a thousand men strong, battered by the spells and arrows of the Heroes of the Greenmarches, fell before us. I will never know a time as proud as that ride. Not until I crested that hill did the full favor of Erastil fall upon me once again. Not until I gave control of the army over to my king, did I feel I had earned my position.

But today is a day of remembrance. Not for the heroic actions of a few. Not for the fifteen that survived the assault, that held the city. Not for those proud men, of whom our beloved King is one. Nor is it for our brave soldiers, even though today we recount their story. But rather, today is for those brave gnomes who stood amongst heroes. Who stood against a force much mightier than they. Who stood until they could do so no longer, their wounds stealing their last breaths. Who cause us, today, to stand taller because we knew them and count them as countrymen. Today we remember those who no longer stand beside us.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.