Session #9 The Angry Owlbear Inn

Bah! Sometimes being a ruler is more tedious that mastering the enumerations of a complex spell! Guard duty rotations…sick peasants…lost hunters and trappers. I have so many details to occupy my time, and none of them very pleasant. At least the inn is coming along nicely. The interior frame is up. A carpenter named Bailey seems to know his craft quite well, and he has been assigned Master Craftsman to the King…um…Baron. But what to name the place? The Pig and Loaf? No…The Bitter Bullette? …no. I’ll have to think on it.

Today brought an interesting surprise…it seems there is a magus newly arrived from Restov. I’ve talked with the hedge wizard, and he seems a little dull-witted, but does possess some talent. We’ve held off returning to the troll lair in the old watch-post (they seem to have either fled the area or holed up for the winter), and now I have pressing concerns with a herald newly arrived from Issia with a royal ‘invitation’. I’ve no time to gallivant over the frozen countryside for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the magus can be convinced to gain a bit of practical experience in the real world. Yes, I think that will do nicely.

I’ve charged the council with keeping their own journals of their adventures. Here’s to hoping they bother with such. It seems my own magical research will soon bear fruit. I have discovered the secret behind the bending of the visual spectrum. This afternoon, I made a chair disappear from sight. I also have unlocked the secrets of temporary magical growth!A good month so far..the snows have started to recead as the wet spring approaches. I begin to think we have survived our first test as a free kingdom.

By Biligimy’s Bones! Last night was a disaster. A colossal owlbear of legendary proportions laid a swatch of destruction through our community. I’ve never heard of one of those monsters reaching such a size. Poor Mugluk! He was the first to react to the thing’s rampaging, and paid for it with his life. So fast! It was like a whirlwind of nature! I awoke to the sound of our keep under siege. I barely got a glimpse of it, and the beast had already crushed the half-complete inn. Three guards were badly mauled. Two should live. The thing departed as quickly as it arrived, and there is an easy track to follow. Had I some way to send a magic summoning, I’d have alerted my companions. As it is, I’ll have to spend tomorrow and the next week seeing what can be done about the wounded men and the inn. At least we have a name for it when we rebuild; The Angry Owlbear. Of course, we will have to deal with the brute, and more handedly than we did the Wendol threat. It wouldn’t do at all for the peasants to think their lord cares so little for them that he allows such a threat to roam the kingdom freely. I’ll have to put my own hand to this task.

Well, that didn’t go as expected. It was a simple thing to track the creature. We found it’s lair amidst a craggy shelf of hills far to the south. Had we explored this far earlier, we may well have prevented much destruction and loss of life. It seems my companions have developed sense, and were not rash enough to rush in headlong and try and slay the behemoth. We circumnavigated the chain of hills, and found an opening in what we hoped would allow entry to the lair at an advantage. It was a small cave some 30 feet up on a natural shelf. We sent Rake up, as he is the most accomplished climber. Ruza still insists on wearing that noisy crap armor, and we almost paid for it with our lives. We soon learned the cave was the lair of horrid arachnids of large size…an awful enough antagonist by themselves, but they were NOT by themselves. Disgusting man-spiders were commanding the things, and they held some hypnotic influence over the man-sized vermin, directing them to cast their iron-strong webs over the ranger while he held the rope for ME.

Thankfully, our half-orc hellion made the ledge quickly and gave battle to the things, giving the rope-holding Rake respite. It was a frightful mess, with Theidrun left near the bottom of the cliff for much of it, and sticky ebs cast everywhere, hindering my allie’s swings. Ever her heavy plate offered little protection, and the half-orc was envenomed multiple times. So much of the foul liquid coursed through her she could hardly stand up…how the pigger did not expire is beyond me. After slaying the things with multiple fireballs from my newly acquired necklace (found on the troll-king, or so they tell me), we were forced to retreat all the way to the fort, so the wench could recover her equilibrium. It was rather funny watching her vomit half the trip…she kept complaining of ‘spinning skies’ and at one point we had to lash her to her mount.

We have returned to the lair, again taking the back stair. We discovered the bodies of hapless spider victims, and have gained some magical items. A small tunnel was found leading down into what we believe is the owlbears den, far too small for the monster to access. Ruza was ordered down the shaft, and in a few seconds we, holding the line, were almost yanked off our feet when the creature ambushed the noisy warrior. A deadly tug of war ensued, where we bested the creature (apparently it could not obtain a solid enough grip on her, having hooked her with a single massive paw). She noted the presence of another dead owlbear, a live cub and two dead siblings. It appears there were many bandit bodies spread about the place, and stranger more, the living beast was seen wearing fine leather barding!

After much thought, we decided to use the magic I had been studying . We shall lure the leviathan into a ambush which will spell its doom! With luck, I shall write again after.
Ah, truly I grow in power! ‘Twas my final spell that felled the monster after my associates were beaten nearly to death. The old Burning Ray of Oblivion came through yet again. We found a bit of wealth, including a strange ring made of hair that appears to control all manner of unnatural beasts. We delt with more spiders and a shambling moss creature that nearly slew the paladin. It was a good thing I reminded him to use his troll-belt before he rushed in as he did. On another humorous note, Ruza nearly fell down a shaft seven fathoms deep into a cavern filled with horrid green slime. She spotted the unsafe floor mere inches from stepping on it (I should hate to lose her talent with sword and pillow…)

Back to concerns of the kingdom. While I worked on arranging communication YET AGAIN with Issia (I am perplexed why they refused to answer my last communiqué), the ranger decided he would bring back a wolf cub to train for companionship (there are enough frontier women around here resembling that description…why get a real one?), if he could find one, and his tale of woe is one to set the dinner guests into fits of mocking laughter…but I will leave that for him to divulge, should one care to ask him. He DID have to run a horse to death getting to the High Temple of Gorum, and his carnivorous lunar activities will have to be confirmed as permanently arrested… at the next full moon…

Session #8 Winter in Staghold...trolls

Cold…I never knew what real cold was until this winter. Thank the gods we have stout walls and a huge mantle place keeping Staghold warm. As I write this by candle light, I can still hear the moaning of the winds outside, and am grateful that’s all I can hear. But I jump ahead. Much has happened the last few weeks. Our earstwile clergy left for parts unknown, but a stranger named Theidrun has joined our group, again making us four. He is kin to our fallen friend, the paladin, and professes the same abilities. His manner and bearing mark him from very far south, and his garb draws many a curious glance. Still, there is something that inspires trust in the man, and he appears to be well-schooled with the falchion he wields. Time will tell if he earns our confidence and secrets.

We’d decided to pursue the bounty on the trolls in the southern Narlmarches, as there is a sizable reward for them offered by Restov. A bonus for our little fiefdom, really, as we’d have had to deal with their marauding sooner or later. I’m thinking of renaming the Staglands, as the Wolf Lands (or mayhap the Troll-haunts) seems more appropriate, judging the the number we’ve encountered. Somehow the portal must be bleeding its malignant energies into the surrounding territory, because we’ve encountered a number of supernatural creatures that seldom are seen in the lands when things are normal…a foul demon-wolf, a barghest, attacked our group with a band of very large, primitive wolves. The thing’s fell magics were of little use, however, as we’ve become somewhat hardened in our journeys. The thing escaped, badly wounded.

On our return, I have decided we shall begin construction of an Inn. This should make the locals very happy, and will, I hope, entice merchants to journey out of their normal paths and visit our fledgling town. Unfortunately, my requests for more aid and resources from Restov seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. We are on our own, for the present. In other things,a matter I was reluctant to address has presented itself. Apparently one of our guards got light fingered, and was caught pilfering the storage vault. I have had to make my judgment public and stern. He has been banished with a week’s food and a old wolf pelt, but I suspect he will not make it far, as the witner winds have picked up and conditions are barely tolerable on the open stepp. He is lucky I did not follow Ruza’s suggestion and maim him with the loss of a hand. The peasents seem satisfied for the most part,and I made the verdict very public so they know there is law in Staghold. Ugly buisness, that. At least Flurg the smith has completed his work on the steel wall at the tomb. He is returning to Staghold, and looks grateful for it. Anyway, about our journey South and West: danger.

While exploring the area and looking for troll-sign, we happened on a small tribe of lizard folk along (or I should say IN) the Shrike River, not far from its exit into the Candlemere. This nearly led to war when we discovered on of the local children, Tig, was kidnapped by the creatures for what would undoubtedly be a grisly sacrifice to their ancestors. Our clumsy ranger (is he REALLY a woodsman?), stepped on a weak branch and nearly fell out of the tree he had climbed to observe the island, alerting the tribe to our presence. A tense situation followed, where the language barrier proved most difficult. Although reclusive, my knowledge of these scaly folk indicates they are not naturally aggressive or evil toward humans.

And my suspicions were born out, for a foul creature of the elements had been masquerading as the spirit of their ancestors. After some initial wariness, we were invited to enter the village, where we underwent a primitive ceremony before the ‘spirit’ manifested itself. I believe the creature to be one of the swamp dwelling will-o-wisps. Pure evil, the manifestation wasted no time in demanding our deaths (and that of Tig’s). The thing was cunning enough to shock me…MANY TIMES. When I awoke I learned the thing had been destroyed and a somewhat nervous peaceful relations had been restored. I’ll have to ensure I utilize my arcane missile spell vigorously when I travel wisp territory. The newt-men have treated us well, giving what gifts they consider valuable, and we have learned there are at least five trolls in the band we seek…and something we believe is part troll and part hound. I am eager to see this thing in the flesh. For the lizard folk, I think we have made real friends. Time will tell. We have returned Tig to his grateful parents, with a stern warning bout wandering off from their sight. I doubt the little bastard has learned his lesson, though.

Less than a day later, and we have encountered the mad brother of Bokken. He is an excellent shot with a pine cone (I believe he somehow sharpens their edges). The lunatic made it clear he wanted to nothing to do with any other folk. We left him cringing in his tree with that mangy cougar, after he had pointed the way to troll territory. I am sure we shall have to do something about him, sooner than later. We’d not gone far when we discovered large tracks, draconic or lizard-like. Obviously not of troll origin, however. There were rumors of a forest drake in the area, and the ranger thought perhaps this was the best’s trail…or that of the legendary Hodag’s. Hodag indeed, I thought at the time. I now know such things exist. We tracked the beast easily enough, even though legend has it the beast’s tail sweeps behind it to cover its tracks. Believable, because we did see much snow had been swept into its tracks along its wandering trail. Were it not for the fresh snow, who knows? In a massive deadfall of logs many feet long, we found the creature’s lair.

A gapping hole opened within the deadfall, and we elected to lay our goodly supply of bear traps before the entrance. A wonderful ploy, had it seen completion. Whether the snow or his unfamiliarity with bear traps, our fool ranger managed to set off his own trap and catch his arm within, screaming like a little girl. This brought the Hodag to us in the worst possible way. The beast bellowed and shot out of its lair like a bolt from a crossbow, navigating the field of traps with great cunning. The hapless Raker was hit with the force of a battering ram with a mouth full of daggers. How he lived, I cannot say, but he was savagely mauled before a shaft was loosed. The beast proved formidable, and the glint in its eye showed a dim intellect. But not apparently smart enough to parlay. After a short battle, Ruza’s blade and the Paladin’s falchion found their marks, killing the savage thing. True to his word, we found the woodsman’s spear within the cave. The Hodag had apparently dislodged it with vigourous rubbing. The paladin seems particularly interested in souvenirs from the Hodag’s carcass

After a few day’s rest, we moved on, pressing westward. What I at first thought to be a natural rock formation turned out to be an elven shell-keep. How might one mistake it? The place was so encrusted with vine and creeper that it blended quite well with the surrounding area. Something here was not quite right. The area around the keep seemed to be resistant to winter’s approach, and there was little snow about. The southern warrior examined the ruins, entering through what looked like a safe gate. Little did we suspect the rusty portcullis was trapped, set to fall on any who passed below, and the architect of this cruel design turned out to be a malicious and cruel little fey. The creature moved so fast that its features were indistinguishable. In fact the tower was home to several dark fairy folk.

Constant guerilla attacks by the little bastard proved very tedious, and we were unable to counter his assaults for some time. His little tower chamber within the keep was cozy, unless you consider the bloody scalps of bandits, common folk and other things that the dimminutive beast used as art decor. While we searched his tower, the scum made short work of Dawson the mule’s bridle. Dawson, being no fool, fled as best he could. When we exited the tower, the little shit dropped a hunk of masonry on me! Faster than thought, he was gone out of sight. Ruza almost hit the tiny cretin with a tangle-foot bag…almost.

The keep itself was ancient, and of elven design. I can only imagine its beauty when new-made. Circular in nature, with four equidistant minor towers wrapped around a central tower, the place would have been an excellent fortress in these savage lands. One can only wonder what befell the original owners. Protecting ourselves as best we could from the tiny terrorist, we chose to enter the main tower, whose dual exits had long ago lost their wood portals. A masterwork stair case ascended upward to unknown areas. The barren lower floor we started to examine for hidden exits. We had barely begun when a purplish mist welled up within, a magical concoction that invaded our minds with thoughts of moonless nights, twisted woods and rivers of hot blood. The lesser minds in our group almost succumbed to the numbing mists, but we endured. The mist quickly disipated, and we elected to push the cart into one of the exits to ward of the quickling.

Ruza probed the upper level, and here she met with the queen of the place, a bloodthirsty fey more akin to vampire than dryad. I had hear legends of the Baboan Shea, those witch-dancers than ensnare men’s minds and drink the blood of the living. I know Ruza is a two-way street sexually, and so the evil fairy witch nearly ensnared the half-orc hussy with her own lusts. But my training in the proper shielding of one’s mind from eldritch attack undoubtedly saved her…that, and the blade she wielded, which sang for fey blood. We would have come to her aid, but the Shea’s paramour called us to battle, with the aid of the quickling. Grimstalkers are horrid on their own, but this particular vermin was enraged at our invasion, and brought battle with a fiery desire. In short order, the evil fey had flanked Rake, and again our archer companion was rendered insensible from his wounds. The quickling found courage with the grimstalker, but to his regret, I was ready for him this time. Our battle was short and brutal, matched only by Ruza’s fierce rebuttal of blade and hate as she devastated the baboan shea. Theidrun was as good a warrior as I suspected. But such is the power of the witch, with her dying words, she summoned ark magic and cursed our woman warrior with a weakness that left Ruza pale and weak.

We spent that eave in the eleven keep, nursing our wounds while the ranger made a makeshift bridle for Dawson. The half orc spent her hours grumbling and demanding we return to Restov, so she could be free of the Shea’s parting ‘gift’. I still think it is all in the wench’s mind. But she refuses to go further unless she can see the mage of the guild. Aggghh. Women.

I’ve little to write about our trip to Restov. Will write again when we get into troll territory.

Ruza has spent quite a lot of coin, but she has convinced herself she is ‘cured’ of the Faerie hex. Ha! We leave for troll-hunting with first light.

Things have not gone well. Or at least, they have fallen apart after initial success. We did indeed find where the trolls were nesting. High up a dangerous cleft of trail, in an old watch post, the trolls made their lair. We observed the area for some days, as we know by their tracks the beasts are within. Finally, a small troll raiding party left the high fort, and brought one of their four-legged abominations with them. Three of the beasts and a fat, cankerous lizard-like hound. Looking at the thing is a feat of will, so ugly is it. The trolls passed close enough that we could hear their wretched speech. As one of us understood giantish, we discovered they were on their way to observe our fort. Unfortunately, they were not going to make their appointment. We took them in the wood, and for a standup battle (their dog alerted them to our presence earlier that we would have preferred), we handled their savage charge in an excellent manner. We destroyed the beasts fairly decidedly…but Dawson, one of our loyal party and closer to our hearts than a mule should be, fell in combat with one of the trolls. I should think I owe the brave mule my life, as he not only took the troll’s charge, but landed a few blows of his own! A mule as valiant as any warrior!.

We spend the evening in quiet contemplation of our fallen animal friend. Ruza dragged the mule’s corpse onto a pile of troll remains, giving it a send-off like some barbarian king fallen in combat, burned atop his slain foe’s bodies. Another few days passed as we observed the watch tower. No trolls came out, and so we made the treacherous climb up the goat track to the outcropping that held the watchtower’s entrance. We were spotted by a troll high up in a hidden entrance. He tried pelting us with rocks before retreating into the hill. Time became of the essence, in that the beast was undoubtedly summoning aid and we stormed the entry, battling first two and then two more of the beasts. Ruza initially leaped over the body of the dead troll in the doorway, running into trouble as the tower troll flanked her. She took a devastating blow and wisely retreated. The trolls, too stupid to widen their entry-way, had little choice but to come at us one at a time. One of them almost made it out and nearly succeeded in dragging Ruza over the precept’s edge. The battle lasted for some time, as trolls have the ability to heal most wounds very quickly. At one point, I thought the paladin had literaly been bitten in the heart! I myself have received a bite that I am quite certain will fester, thanks to the loving ministrations of a troll hound.

After we breached the entry, we explored and found many supplies from the troll’s raiding. We also discovered the remains of an unfortunate halfling. Not wanting to give up our element of surprise, we delved deeper into the mountain. Discovering a pair of trolls, our ranger attempted to lure them into another ambush. The trolls seemed startled by our light, and the ranger retreated, claiming he heard one of the trolls tell the other to summon ‘the Big One’ and tell the chief of intruders. We made short work of the lone troll that pursued the ranger, but hot on his heels came a monstrosity out of a troll-hunter’s nightmare. The size of an ettin, and of similar appearance, a massive two headed troll brute came into battle in the feast hall of the watch post. We’ve faced ettin’s before, and this freakish abberation was far more dangerous, being able to heal grievous wounds very quickly. Even from our ambush, the monster struck the southerner a blow that dented his helmet and stunned the man. I should think a lesser man would ahve died on the spot. The left head turned its rage on Ruza, landing a bite and clawing on her that nearly dropped the warrior to her knees. For a moment I thought the blow had blinded her permanently…and she now bears a trio of scars the cross her face at eye level…almost like permanent war paint (which I find strangely attractive on her).

With desperate haste, Ruza imbued her potion that bent light, and she disappeared from sight. Rake fled like the wind, myself close behind. The paladin became lucid enough to actually pass me up and I turned and found the brute close behind me…never have I been struck the blows I now received from its massive dual clubs…it nearly ended me…the momentum I received helped propel me past Theidrun, who again suffered raining club strikes. I nearly fell off the snowy goat path, as did Rake, in our haste to get away from the thing. Only later at camp did I learn what befell our companions…Ruza actually waited behind the two-headed creature, and when its back was turned, he grabbed up the fallen paladin and leaped bodily over the cliff. A sure death, were it not again for my magic ring! Even now, as we sit around a cold camp, she refuses to return the item. Perhaps a charm spell is in order.

We have decided to return to Staghold. Our supplies of fire arrows and alchemist fire is too low to deal with the remaining trolls as of yet.

The Old Beldame has been acting strangely these past few days. Today she told us there would be a powerful storm, and we should double the guard. Guards for a storm? Still, I suspect she communes with beings that give her information, for when we visited her on the return trip, we overheard inhuman voices and saw green light emanating from her hut. I sense no evil in her, and she has even agreed to make more arrows for us…but she insisted on traveling with us to Staghold staying at the fort, something she never does.

I now know why she insisted on more guards. The storm was truly the most powerful I’ve even heard of even in legends…a white tunnel of whirling cold death that came on with no real warning that lasted for weeks. But the storm brought more that chill. Things moved and hunted inside that grey gale…We were eating a hearty stew, listening to the high pitched moaning of the wind…the gale so strong it nearly drowned our fire in the chimney flue. Even Mugluk was silent, rocking nervously in the hall. I asked the giant what troubled him, and if he were afraid of the wind-noises…he merely shook his great head and resumed his nervous rocking. I almost gave up the ghost when the Old Bel Dame stood ramrod straight right out of her slumber. She fixed us with a hag-eye and said we should check with the guards.

Ruza frowned, grabbing her furs and snowshoes while I grabbed a wolf-cloak and my components. Theidrun was remarkable reserved, when I know full well he suffers the worst from the cold as he is no native to these lands. Mugluk at first refused to go out, muttering ‘no no no’ in gaint…but when he saw us gearing for the cold, he reluctantly grabbed his club. Our warden assembled what men he could. Together, we exited the warmth of the hall, entering into that white gale. Climbing the stair was a task in that deluge. We could see the light from the roaring blazer within the first tower, and Ruza wrapped against the door. I struggled to hear the guard’s words, but he said he and the other two had heard on seen nothing but wind and snow. We took them with us as we visited each post in turn…we were little surprised, thanks to Bel Dame, when we saw the third tower’s door open, rattling against its threshold in the wind. Rake examined the tracks in the snow beyond…then led along the rampart to midway between the guard posts, and merely ended, facing out….

We could find no sign of them, even when one of the guards threw a torch over the wall to see if they had somehow fallen. The torch died quickly, but we saw no tracks or signs of struggle…it was almost as if they had taken flight. The wyvern? No, not in such a wind. Even a dragon would have been forced down in that chaos. The guards became spooked. And that was when we heard the sound. I at first thought it more gale-noise, but there could be heard a high pitched keening that overcame the ambient noise of the storm…a wailing that but a sliver of ice cold fear down the back of everyone present. One of the guards fled in terror, racing into the hall. We stood about for the briefest moment, before a crashing and splitting of timber told us we could hesitate no longer.

Mugluk pushed open the castle gate, his great strength plowing the snow enough for us to exit. Immediately the wind struck us full force, almost guttering out our feeble torches. Barely audible screams, faded, came to us from somewhere in the grey whirling mists ahead…the peasants long homes were under assault. The warden took his men and moved off to the far right, making for the other long home. The storm swallowed them from sigh in seconds, even their torches dim glimmers that were soon dispelled from vision. We came upon a scene of devastation…a corner of the nearest house’ roof had been ripped UPWARD, opened like a bear lifting a bolder looking for grubs. Nothing weaker than a strom giant could have achieved such a feat. Blood was sprayed in thick clumps around the loghome. Ruza shined her torch within, sword at the ready, and found many of the families huddled against the far corners of the cabin. They were all hysterical.

Another keening noise came to us, much closer. I readied my most potent spells, and is wear if a child would have darted out of that blizzard, I’d have burned them down. Ruza ducked back outside, just as another sound came to us…the sounds of a dog crunching a chicken bone…at first I thought I saw movement in t he grey ahead…but then I realized we were all looking too low…a pair of red glowing eyes appeared in the mist, fully twenty feet above the ground…the immensity of the beast was truly staggering…a massive grey-white, shaggy shape that dwarfed our hill giant. A great set of six-inch fangs were cleaned by a long black tongue as the thing leered at us hungrily…it disregarded the half eaten remains of one of my citizens and wiped its mouth in greedy anticipation. A set of forward bending black horns arched over the sloped brow…I could not see all of the beast, as the snow seemed to cloak it almost like the elements bent their will to its, and I’m thankful I could not. I’m sure we all would have all been scarred mentally for the remainder of our days.

The gaze of the thing…it seemed to lock onto my soul, and I got the feeling the thing was grinning with an ‘I seeeee you…I want you to see ME’ intent. Another howl echoed from somewhere to the right. The monster before us howled again in response and came forward in a rush, sloshing up snow high into the air. Despite my fear, I summoned the arcane words that would avenge our folk, unleashing a geyser of flame at the titan. It howled and shrieked as its essence was burned away, leaving a great black burn. Arrows, aimed well even with the gale, hammered into the torso, releasing their burning payload. It was then that I noticed Mugluk, frozen in fear. The beast noticed him as well, and the hill giant was lifted up as easily as we would lift a waif, the great fanged mouth burying itself into the squealing giant’s shoulder, as huge black claws dug furrows into Mugluk’s back. I threw more fire magic at the thing, and the arrows of my comrades came fast and steady. The southerner came charging (if one CAN charge in so deep a snow) and received a backhand that sent him flying bodily to lay sprawled in the snow. The thing had dropped the savaged giant as if it had grown bored with Mugluk. To the right, we heard the warden’s men giving combat to another of the things.

I do not know if it was the arrows or the fire, but something made the creature withdraw. We put enough arrows and flame into the thing to have felled half a dozen trolls. Whatever, the beast gave its howl and turned and fled with truly monstrous strides. I measured them at a length of three men between strides. I was to learn the things had a name in legends in the north…Wendol.

Kingmaker, Session #7 Giants and Bugbears, oh my!

From the Journal of Baron ‘NamestolongfortheDMtoremember’

Sept 12th
‘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.
Sept 23rd
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.
Sept 28th
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.
Oct 1st
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.
Oct 2nd

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.
Oct 3rd
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
Oct 5th
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….
Oct 7th
Not much to write, today. Bokken is as crazy as ever. Off to Restov on the morrow.
Oct 10th
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…
Oct 12th
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!
Oct 13th
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…

Oct 14th
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…

Oct 15th
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).
Oct 16th
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….


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