From the Journal of Baron ‘NamestolongfortheDMtoremember’
‘Well now…we are finally starting to get somewhere with this ‘kingdom’. More workers have arrived from Restov, joining the motley handful we sheparded from their miserable lives in that same city. An ugly affair, really. It seems a local baron was using the unfortunates for labor at a significant savings by not paying them at all. Well, it’s a peasants life, really. Of course, my erstwhile companions had some objection to the baron’s men attempting to abscond with our captiv-… I mean, wards. One thing led to another and before long, the fools were deader that the Stag Lord’s career. I’m sure there will be repercussions from this in the future…but the land has many who can be pressed into laboral services. Perhaps Olog will think Stag Hold too distant to bother with. Time will tell. Anyway, the workers have gotten to work harvesting lumber and mining what stone they can to refurbish the Stag Lord’s ruined demesne. I suppose we shall have to make due for the winter. A shame the hot headed half-orc temptress let her temper get the better of her. We could have used those woodsmen. At least I was able to smooth relations with the fey in the wood.
Of all the cruel fates. This damnable robe is cursed! Whenever I ponder casting a spell toward a foe, such as that HUGE snapping turtle we encountered (poor fisherman!) while exploring near the east shore of the Tuskwater , the robe animates with biting vermin! I’ve tried every method I know, mundane or magic, to remove the accursed thing, to no avail. My heartless friends have told me to tough it out, and I dare not leave the safety provided by numbers. To top matters off, we awoke to freezing snow! At least we found two items of considerable worth on the river bank. One appears to be a gem or jewel, entrapping a wrathful elemental of the fluid variety. The other, a ring with feather-like sigils…it is my belief this latter item will prevent a lethal fall in most cases. The half-orc has been eyeing it greedily since I obtained it in our standard game of lots.
These lands are stranger the farther south we go. A day ago we found a safe crossing over the Gudrin River some ways to the east of the Tuskwater, with some abandoned buildings on either landing. There was evidence the place had been used by bandits and tribal humanoids, but no fresh tracks in the snow. We’ll have to make sure the crossing is manned or at least patrolled, lest the local bandit scum think they can use it as a haven. Today, we had a bigger surprise. Bigger as in giant-sized. A big brute of a hill giant was found sitting on a rock, just south of the Candlemere, drinking Moon-Berry whiskey. This damnable robe prevents me from smiting the creature, as is his just desert. The lads have opted to parlay with him, and now we have a very large valet. The beast was easily fooled into giving up a wand of some power (who could think some mage would have ensorcelled driftwood?), and a necklace that contains a pellet, to be hurtled at foes from a safe distance. The brute also showed us a crude map which may (or may not) show the poorly-drawn location of a nest of trolls that have been causing some trouble. He also has seen undoubtedly the very same wyvern that ate our priest. We believe it nests somewhere far to the east.
The swamp witch has peaked my curiosity. There seems to be real magic in her mumblings. I’m not sure of her ancestry…it’s no wonder the guards took a shot at her when she approached the keep unannounced. There is definitely some hag’s blood in her. She claims to know the secret of permanency in spell-woven items. She has done no harm that I’m aware of…however I find it odd we lost our priest of Gorum while he was on an errand to deliver her our horses. She was somewhat remorse to come and fill the position of Magister in our burgeoning little fiefdom. Strangely, she agreed if some of us agreed to turn over our remains in the advent of an untimely demise. I’m no fool to believe this couldn’t be a serious mistake were she anything but a hedge witch. Perhaps I’ll have someone keep an eye on her.
As for the peasants, a few among them are laborers who’ve built roads before. They’ve started a crude track, east to west. Apparently the ground is still soft enough to get some work done in this endeavor. One of the guards had a fine idea about staking out ingress to our kingdom. I’ve had him fashion trail markers..simple wooden posts, really, with old stag skulls to mark trails we will be patrolling. I had him ensure they will follow the river and give the cairns a wide berth. We are traveling there later this week with more men. One among them, a gruesome looking black fellow, claims to be a man of healing magic. I’d not be inclined to fall under his knives for ‘healing’ any time soon. He keeps a scruffy vermin in his oversized hat. The others in the council have decided we should open the cairn to them as a better place to stay in the winter than a humble camp above ground. We’ll see two days hence.
This place is still disturbing. The guards we left here have been complaining about seeing shadowy figures in the halls in the late hours of the night. Even the fat black man has become more sullen than his normal jovial self. Voices fade too quickly in this silent tomb. Even the ringing of the elvish smith’s hammer is unnaturally muted. His progress speeds along with the momentum of a midnight guard who walks his post too hurriedly near the city graveyard. He even mentioned hearing the distant rattle of chains when he was alone in the smithy. That dragon-headed furnace would give Rovagug itself nightmares. Whatever. As far as I can ascertain, the wards are still in place, so the fools will be safe enough, should they be able to control their curiosity better than the last ones. Soon, there will be an iron curtain covering the hidden door that leads to the…artifact. My comrades have stated a desire to visit with that cretin that dwells in the tree, to procure the alchemist fire we ordered some time ago. From then on, we journey on to Restov
The wyvern paid us a visit today, darting out of a low lying cloud bank and barreling into our column in the midst of a snow shower. The sexual favors of the half-orc slut actually helped her, as she had borrowed my ring of feathers. The beast snatched her up and started to ascend, but the wench managed to gouge it close to the eyes with those laughable cestus she insist on wearing. The dragon dropped her to what should have been her death, retreating with some of the ranger’s arrows protruding from its iron-hard scales. We should be safe for a while….
Not much to write, today. Bokken is as crazy as ever. Off to Restov on the morrow.
Snow made for a slow trail these last few days. We have arrived in Restov. Time for a hot bath, a warm cider and a certain half-orcs bestial attentions…
I’m getting pissed. The fool, Durgus, who is currently in charge of the Mage’s Guild is either incompetent, or he’s smarter than he lets on, and is gouging me for multiple attempts to remove this robe. He made idle conversation, but not so idle as it appeared, for he has asked me if I know of any magical disturbances out of the plains to the west of his city. I denied any such knowledge, but I am sure he suspects something. Today, the ranger mentioned seeing a devil dressed in duck-tailed finery, moving amongst the down trodden and filling every vice among the poor. Preposterous. He even invited a bum to join our community!
Free at last! Free at last..thank magic, free at last! Though I am rightly annoyed at the mage, he finally proved equal to the task, even if it lightened my purse considerably. That, and the cost for the laboratory equipment I’ve purchased. I’ve packed the items quite well for the return trip. The half orc tells me she was accosted by a gang that deliberately tried to instigate a brawl, or worse. “Pigger”? Ha! What a charming phrase. I shall remember it!. As for the thugs, I doubt there’s more to it than the common hostility she and all her primate ilk instill in sensible folk. Amazing that she did not rise to the bait, considering the darkness that dwells within her, thanks to her diabolic heritage. Who could be testing her? Much to sleep on…we leave these comfortable walls, returning to the cold wind-swept hills tomorrow. Once more I question whether the task we have set ourselves is really worth it…
Trouble at the crossing! It appears a large band of marauding bugbears, reinforced with two large brutes that must be ogres, have come down from the northern mountains with pillage and murder on their tiny minds. Apparently one of the local mounted patrols of knights caught them in the act, or were already resting at the crossing. None of them survived. The daring of these brutes is unprecedented, considering the city a few scant hours away. Regardless, they seem well armed and organized. Perhaps they believe an attack with the snow falling will keep the pink skins in their comfortable dwellings. Though the column has not seen us, unfortunately they seem to be marching west along the road which will eventually bring them to Oleg’s trading post. There are no other destinations for them in the frigid grasslands, and they march with a purpose. What to do? Some of my friends seek to ride to the fort, but we would only arrive at Oleg’s to find slaughter and ruin. No, better to punish them for their effrontery now, tonight! But four against a small army? Bugbears are no weaklings…ogres even more a challenge. It is true we have slain foes much the fiercer than hairy goblins, but in this they have a telling number. To meet them in open combat would be suicidal, regardless of how many we slay…
My comrades rejoice in a hard won victory. Perhaps we owe Crack-jaws the snapping turtle a debt…’twas the elemental gem we found that played the pivotal role in our successful engagement. My cunning plan involved an ambush when the horrible humanoids had broken from their trail-march for the eve. The ranger, half-orc and our newest ally, the priest of Erastil, found positions behind a rolling drumlin, where they could espy the camp of the foe. I had loaded all our new-bought oil flasks, Alchemist Fire into a quite full leather backpack. In my other hand was the elemental gem and the bead from the Hill giant’s necklace was ready to be hurtled shortly after I dumped my deadly cargo among their firepits. The priest assured me the creatures of the elements would heed his call, and on his action we would attack. As painful as it was, I used my most potent magic consumable, and was born aloft through the snowy night winds. Can I be blamed for my accuracy? True to his words, the shaman managed a minor bit of prestidigitation, and summoned the smallest of elementals of the earth dominion. I almost laughed when I saw how it compared to the mighty water creature the gem released. The bugbears and their ogre mercenaries were caught completely unawares, even with the much-vaunted keen senses of their sentries. But back to my aim…it seems I was too accurate and what I assumed would be, by the law of mathematical percentages, a large spread of oil…no. Almost all of the vials landed in their midst but harmed them but little. Enraged, I threw the bead, striking the ogres and goblinoids with a ball of intense fire magic. By this time, my allies had sent many feathered shafts into the disorganized band of brutes. Their weapons were horribly ineffective against the water elemental. And my allies were a ways beyond easy spotting of the foe’s night vision.
The bugbear with the patch over his eye, the one we suspected was the leader, rallied his troops fairly well, despite their confusion. That, and the fact that though my allies remained unseen, their arrows did not. Some of them even had the timidity to try and locate ME! The priest was wise enough to cast a fog spell near our mounts, and when the bugbears made the hilltop, it was only in time to see my subjects retreat into an ominous cloud. The ogres at last laid the water spirit low with their tree-trunk clubs. The bugbears rallied enough to secure their camp, but apparently the damage had been done, and fully one-third of their number would not rise from the red snows again. Doubtless, the old, eye-patched veteran was not keen on pursuing his goal against apparent ghosts that could vanish into the mists at will, and used powerful magic of fire and the elements. They retreated in an orderly hustle, longbows ready to return any volley. Riza suffered a minor bruise, but we escaped with little other damage (though I WAS forced to expend our most powerful magics).
The lands seem to be teaming with foul creatures. We bested two trolls handedly today, near sunset, and only half a dozen miles from the bugbear ambush. This wand of driftwood is truly a gift. With it, I sent one of the brutes into peels of guttural snuffling I must assume is troll-speak for laughter. That left all of our prodigious firepower to felling the 2nd beast. The priest summoned more of his allies…this time small flame-kins. Useful, that. The ranger got a chance to test his alchemical toys, sending burning arrows among the foe. I cautioned him not to be TOO zealous, as there was a sizable reward for both troll blood, and a use for their skin in our desire for healing belts. The brute went down surprisingly quick, and a well-aimed tangelfoot bag pinned the other beast to an easy kill-spot. We’ve decided to return to Restov instead of forging on to Oleg’s. We might get those belts made there, as well as the reward promised for the troll blood. There WAS a bit of commentary between the half-orc she-devil and the remainder of the group. Apparently she took exception to our ranger friend firing a shot and then leavening her to take the brunt of the troll’s charge. Fie! After all the times I’ve saved her life, too….