Lords of Fluviallis

Whispers on the wind.

Serpent Stone’s winds have a whisper on them…. there maybe activity that Belevius Grimm will be seeking out!

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Whispers of Death...

Shelob1

After lengthy preparations and several council sessions, the Vanguard of Vallis rode across southeastern Brevoy towards Castle Harte, determined to free the Baron and Lord Mayor. They found the secret tunnel that led into the castle, and proceeded down it, hoping it was still unblocked and would lead them into the castle. Instead they found a series of tunnels dug in the middle of the escape tunnel and a large cavern. While exploring they encountered three giant Death Whisper spiders (identified by the bright green tear drop on their underbelly) and several swarms of smaller spiders. Sir Eric was brutally ripped in the chest by their venomous fangs and immediately fell into a paralyzed coma. Hede was assaulted from behind and seriously damaged, but managed to fight of the venom his attacker injected. When we pick up our story again, the Vanguard fight bravely against heavy odds, surrounded on all sides by giant fangs and glistening obsidian arachnids…

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Silly Brevic Kniggets!

Monty python

Last game session, the Vanguard of Vallis managed to restore one of their fallen members, Falinax, to life through the use of a magic pool. After his return, the party continued to explore hexes, waiting for the water level to drop enough to explore the Staglord’s Fort. While waiting, they discovered a tomb among the barrow mounds that showed signs of something burrowing out from the inside. Opening the tomb, they explored and recovered several ancient relics, some magic items, and a Thassilonian translation book.

After leaving, the waters were still too high to reach the fort, so they returned to the safety of Oleg’s Fort, and took a well deserved break to socialize, craft magic items, and sell off recovered loot. During this time, Lady Arabella received a coded letter from her father, Lord Mayor Quintus Ravennus, who was imprisoned in Castle Harte, held captive by Lord Grunthor. It instructed her to come and rescue him as soon as possible, so our intrepid adventurers are now preparing for a foray against Castle Harte.

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Recap of last Weeks Events

Alterfreund

We began the Kingdom of Valis last game session, established the ruling council, and begun construction on the town of Alterfreund. Roads were begun in the area, and plans to connect the nearby farmsteads into the kingdom were laid out. Other events:

• Party arrives back at Oleg’s, Arabella and Jeremiah talk with Madrae.
• Drakkus and Hede depart for Restov with Staglord’s head and helm.
• Cassandra returns to the wilds, the smith goes back to work.
• Wagons arrive with gifts from Baron Medvyed, and a letter w/formal invite to the Tourney.
• Kesten returns from the farms w/Chief Sootscale.
• Saraithiniel returns along with some farmers, mourns Udo, talks with Madrae.
• Farmers bring supplies and offer to help clean up the fort.
• Jhod asks Falinax to accompany him out to the farms.
• Saraithiniel goes back out to the farms.
• Ingulf and Demetri return, having killed the Duk’kreeth.
• Kesten’s scouts report two lionriders see to the west.
• Drakkus turns in Stag Lord’s head, talks with Quintus.
• Saraithiniel returns and takes up the cloth of a dervish of Sarenrae.
• Large party seen traveling along road, heading east. Many mounted barbarians. Two squads of mercenaries come north along the shrike, from Mivon, heading north to serve Darren.
• Walls around Oleg’s are finished, including walkway by front gate.
• Drakkus returns with the gems, Madrae restores Udo to life, then casts restoration spells upon him.
• Sir William sends guardsmen bearing supplies (30 BP to start the kingdom) and a sad letter and a new charter.
• Captain of the Guard and Jory arrive, having turned over duties in Tammerling to his son. Brings letter from Quintus to Arabella.
• The entire 48 members of the Manning Household Knights have come to Oleg’s “on a pilgrimage to pay respects to their dead comrade”. In reality, Sir William sent them south in order to have them close by should Darren attempt something, in this particular manner, he has removed them from the commands of the regent. They are led by Sir Lakus, Sir Merivor, and Sir Antonius are the three knights paramount (9th lvl+), and include another 9 knights of quality (above 7th level). The remainder are 3 shield knights (4th lvl), 15 squires (1st lvl knights),18 pages. Each knight paramount has a shield knight, 2 squires, and 2 pages. Each knight of quality has a squire and a page, each shield knight also has a page.
• Huge storm descends, party rescues Lady Bethany and Lady Eilene from the Lion riding barbarians. Sir Eric proposes amid the storm and is now engaged to Lady Bethany (once he comes up with a ring that is).

When we begin again, our heroes will be 5th lvl, resting safely at the new town of Alterfreund.

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You have what you hold...

Congratulations on winning your new lands and entering the realm of politics and kingdom building. I will offer you these words of wisdom from the sage minds of Brevoy:

“Politics is a trade where no one gets out alive” -old Brevic saying meaning that once you start, it never stops.

“Nature abhors a vacuum.” – Grozni Druidic saying meaning that places in an ecosystem don’t stay empty for long.

“You have what you hold” -The first River Freedom. The Stolen Lands have been uncivilized for hundreds of years because of the failure to heed this “law”. If you leave any of your power laying around or fail to protect something you value, someone will notice and take action.

Rulers

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You Have What You Hold

Okay gang, to be fair, I did not write this, but thought it was an excellent way to paint a picture of what life was like with the Stag Lord. Consider this metagame knowledge, ie-your characters don’t know these details, but any conclusions or information you draw from it can be considered to have gotten from talking with Akiros. Kressle btw was the female handaxe bandit that Udo blew up and Arabella coup de Grace’ed. Enjoy!

What You Hold

She was a little girl once, lying in the road, dirt and pebbles pressing into her face as the gallop of hooves grew louder. She tried not to be afraid, but her little stomach, as tight and empty as an old leather coin purse baked in the sun, heaved and knotted. Her heart beat in her ears, in time with the coming horses and then faster and faster until she couldn’t stop herself from crying. Her father’s voice hissed at her from the bushes, “Don’t move—you’re supposed to be hurt.” She steeled herself, willing her tears to stop but her heart was beyond her control. It screamed in her ear, run, run, run, before the horse grinds your head into the road, you’re going to die, you’re going to wet yourself like a little baby and die—

But the dust cloud of the charging horse slowed, and then it settled. The wagon was stopping. Her breath caught. This was it. She just had to lie still a few seconds more.

An Ulfen man climbed down from the wagon, his northern accent as rich and thick as his beard. “My god! Little girl? Little girl, are you all right? Can you hear me?” At first, she wanted to giggle. It was just a game, after all, just pretend. Her parents would shout “boo!” and they would all have a good laugh. But the Ulfen man sounded so scared that it gave her pause. He was scared for her, scared that she was hurt, that he’d almost run her down.

She felt a warm, heavy hand on her back. “Little girl, please…please…no blood. No blood, she might be all right. Can you hear me?”

From the bushes, her mother’s voice sounded, “Make a move and you’re dead!”

The five-year-old opened her eyes and looked up at the man, smiling at him. She was okay, he didn’t have to worry. It was all just a game. The Ulfen man wasn’t looking at her anymore. He was standing up, reaching for his sword. She didn’t understand until she saw her parents and the crossbows pointed at him.

He didn’t say a word to them as he ripped the sword free of its sheath, jerking as the first arrow pierced his neck. The blood fell like crimson rain drops before her eyes. He was standing over her, guarding her, protecting a child he didn’t know with his very life. He didn’t know it was a game. She shouted something then, but it was lost in her father’s roar as the second arrow, set loose like a troll’s spear in a fairy story, cut down the Ulfen man.

He collapsed beside her, eyes open just long enough to see her mother haul her to her feet. To see his failure to protect the wounded girl from those that wounded her, or so he must have believed.

“Stop crying,” her mother barked, moving to inspect the wagon. Her father followed, sparing the Ulfen man little more than a glance. “We don’t cry for stupid people. We told him not to move.”

“But he didn’t understand the game!”

Her father tore loose the canvas sheet covering the wagon, grinning at his prize. “No, sweetness,” he said without looking at her, “He understood the rules better’n you. Now come away from there before the animals come. They smell the blood. A little girl like you’s just what they like for a nice dessert.”

Kressle reached down and touched the dead man’s face. His beard tickled her hand. It was so much softer than it looked.

“Hang on a minute now,” her father said, looking down at her. “I see something shiny. What is that there?”

It was a glint of metal under the Ulfen man’s shirt. She pulled the shirt open, half-hoping he would move suddenly, that his chest would rise and fall and he wouldn’t be what she already knew he was.

“That’s right,” her father said. “Now what is that there?”

She cut her finger on the edge of it, winced, then felt along the flat of the metal, which felt strange under her fingers, like it was carved with intricate symbols and designs. Below the metal, there was a leather slip holding it to his body, and a wooden haft. She pulled the weapon free and examined the exquisite curve of the small axe, the artistic flourishes engraved into the flat of the blade.

Kressle looked down at the Ulfen man’s peaceful face, his closed eyes, and then held up the handaxe for her father to see.

“It’s mine,” she said.

She whispered it again, a soft reassurance, gripping the handle as she approached the gate to her first real home, her sanctuary. Kressle slowed her horse and called out to the northern tower, careful not to stray into the Dead Fields that surrounded the Stag Lord’s fortress. Her voice rose to the palisade, all the way to the watchtower. “Open up!”

A shadow in the watchtower shouted down to her. “Who goes there?”

“The sixth River Freedom!” she shouted back.

Akiros Ismort surveyed the woman at the gate from his vantage in the northern guard post. “Open it up!” He turned away from the woman’s smile as she rode inside with the Thorn River Camp’s spoils. Akiros never smiled back, and he tired of the pretense that they were somehow friends.

It was Jex the Snitch on watch, and he had no trouble grinning down at Kressle. “Oh, I’d like to take that young filly for a ride, eh, Akiros? Bet she’d gallop, all right, gallop like a prize.”

A steely grey eye caught Jex’s breath and the bandit closed his mouth. The Stag Lord’s second-in-command was notorious for his lack of humor, especially where women were concerned. When Akiros was satisfied that the Snitch’s mouth would move no longer while he was in earshot of its degenerate mumblings, Akiros turned around, descending the stairs to the armory.

He caught snatches of conversation, Fat Norrey and Sneeg whispering about the toll collector. Akiros paused a moment. He’d not been there when the Stag Lord lost his temper and ended the poor soul on that bridge, but Akiros was there when the Stag Lord first heard of Nettles. He remembered the light in his lord’s eyes, how they sparkled with possibility when Norrey first reported the resistance of this foreign man and his toll bridge, how Davik Nettles had fought Norrey and three other men to a stand still and promised them their lives if they never returned. The Stag Lord had actually gasped, so excited was he to hear of someone worthy of his attention. Akiros had shared that excitement when the Stag Lord rode out to meet the man, to invite him into his service as he had Kressle when the girl first braved the Narlmarches to confront her would-be rapists, a pair of scum that lived but one minute under the Stag Lord’s gaze before he sent their bodies hurling over the palisade and into the embrace of the dead.

“They say he comes up from the water like a drowned soul,” Norrey whispered. “He calls out for the Stag Lord’s blood…”

“You think that’s why he drinks?” Sneeg asked. “I heard it’s dreams. Nettles ain’t just a zombie. He gets in your head, makes you see all sorts of nastiness.” Sneeg noticed Akiros on the stairs and tipped his head. “Nothing doin’, Sir Ismort. Just a little ghost story’s all.”

“I’m no knight,” Akiros said, stalking past them. “Those days are done.”

A deep but childlike voice called down from the cracked platform of the central tower. “Hey Kyrie! Look what I gots!”

Akiros stopped, doing his best to conceal annoyance and force a smile. “What have you got there, Auchs?”

The hulking brute held up a small rodent by the tail, its legs scrambling fruitlessly in mid-air. “I found me a mousey!” Auchs shouted, unable to contain his pride.

“That’s a rat,” Akiros said.

Auchs dangled the animal back and forth. “I’m gonna call him Mister Mousey. He’s gonna be my pet.”

“Right. Play nice.”Akiros continued down, shaking his head. In only an hour or two, Auchs would pet or squeeze the animal until it squealed it’s last and if Auchs was very lucky, it wouldn’t bite him with its last ounce of life, transmitting some disease. He belonged in a sanitarium, under the care of priests, not alone and unsupervised in a dank fort, used for his brawn and encouraged in his cruelty.

The source of that encouragement was leaning against the door to the armory, watching Akiros with feline predator’s grace and a sickeningly disingenuous smile. Dovan from Nisroch. Akiros did his best to avoid the man as he passed, but Dovan took great pleasure in outstretching his leg just a little more, so they rubbed against each other, a predator marking his territory.

“Keep your limbs to yourself or you might just lose them,” Akiros mumbled.

Dovan replied in his silky voice. “My my, wouldn’t want you to lose your temper, paladin. Erastil knows what might happen then…”

Without warning, Akiros had his arm against Dovan’s throat. The speed with which he lashed out surprised even Dovan. “You get just one warning,” Akiros whispered. “Speak of my god again and not even Erastil himself will keep me from reaching down your throat and removing that shriveled lump you call a heart.”

“Wouldn’t that be something to see,” Dovan said gleefully. The point of his rapier was on Akiros’ carotid artery. “One of these days, Ismort, that temper of yours is going to get the best of you…”

“I’ll make sure you’re there to see it.” He released Dovan’s throat and the rapier was withdrawn from his own. They stepped away from each other in time to greet Kressle.

In the yard, a young boy led Kressle’s horse away, his eyes staring hatefully at the slim, slight man in black leather. Dovan noticed the glare, seemed to feed on the hatred in it.

“What’s with Valkeri?” Kressle asked, nodding at the boy. “He’s not talking today.”

Dovan smiled knowingly. “Cat got his tongue.”

Kressle seemed inclined to ask what he meant by that, glancing from Dovan to Akiros, but the faintest shake of Akiros’ head dissuaded her. “Anything on the spit?”

Akiros nodded and she slipped past them into the armory, since the only door to the roasting room was through there. Once she was gone, he said quietly, “I never did get an explanation why Valkeri came back from that border raid without a tongue.”

Dovan wet his lips. “Just a minor correction. Bad boys need to be disciplined.”

Akiros spat, willing himself to turn his head first and avoid another altercation with Dovan. “Pederast filth.”

“Oh how high and mighty the paladin stands. We can’t all be eunuchs like you. Anyway, the boy had a fresh mouth. Didn’t respect the chain of command.”

“Because he rejected your advances?” Akiros demanded, his blood beginning to boil.

Dovan smiled. “Goodness, no. I’m a very persuasive lover. But there was a minor disagreement concerning the taking of prisoners. I felt captives would weight us down, he felt he had the right to speak otherwise.”

“We don’t take captives,” Akiros said. “That’s a standing order.”

“Naturally. Which is why I couldn’t understand the fuss when I started cutting their throats…but the little brat wouldn’t shut up about it. He learned his lesson.”

The boiling rage within the former paladin chilled as his blood became ice. He’d become accustomed to the suffering of others, those he might have once deemed innocent before his world proved itself a hollow shell, even growing to respect the power of his rage and the simplicity of this brutal existence. People died, sometimes his men, sometimes those they preyed on, but he’d never condoned or practiced the casual slaughter Dovan spoke of now with that sadistic gleam in his eye.

Akiros put his hand on the hilt of his sword, so focused on Dovan that he did not hear the boot steps behind him. So many pointless deaths. So many lives cut short by this monster’s blade and so casually. So many days in this place, devoted to an ideal that was nothing short of nihilism. Community, yes, and a countenance as ugly as the rot beneath, but a community ruled by fear that welcomed and forgave the unforgivable.

One stroke. Just one stroke of his sword to change the course of his life as a sudden flash of anger had changed it years ago. He’d ended two innocents in anger and learned to live with it. That this abomination of a man continued to draw breath was a stain on what little honor he had left.

A heavy gloved hand gripped Akiros’ shoulder. “You know how I feel about dissension in the ranks.”

Without another thought, his hand slipped off the blade’s hilt and he turned to face his employer. “Apologies, my lord. I was just taking issue with the manner in which Dovan disciplined one of the men.”

The Stag Lord cut an imposing figure, all but his mouth and dark eyes hidden by a mask of bone and antler, his bare chest carved with muscle, darkened by sun and curls of hair. If someone had told Akiros this was not a man but a beast, half-bear and half-stag, he would have believed them. “The boy…”

“Yes, lord. Your men range far and wide, paying tribute out of loyalty. Loyalty can’t be bought by cutting out tongues.”

The Stag Lord nodded thoughtfully. “And what have you to add, my old friend from Nisroch?”

Dovan smiled. “The boy is weak. This is no place for weak boys. What I did to him will concentrate his hate. There’s strength in pain and hate.”

“So very true,” the Stag Lord said. His arm was in motion before Dovan’s smile could be struck from his face. The blow was quick and brutal, drawing blood from the bandit lieutenant’s mouth and knocking him to the floor. “Perhaps you should save some lessons for yourself. Akiros, strike me.”

“Lord?”

Within the helm, the Stag Lord’s gravelly voice intoned, loud enough for the others to hear, “The lord who strikes his servant is a coward! Only the lord who shares his servant’s punishment begins to understand! Draw your sword, Akiros. Now!”

Kressle stood in the door to the armory, watching quietly.

Akiros drew his sword, still hesitating. The Stag Lord spread his arms, leaving his bare chest fully exposed. Saying a silent prayer to Erastil, Akiros swung the blade, slicing cleanly through the Stag Lord’s flesh. The man, if he really was a man, did not wince. He showed no outward sign of pain or injury, save the deep crimson gash.

Dovan lay on the floor, eyes wide, touching his cut lip. The Stag Lord pointed at him. “Do not take from another man in my kingdom unless you’re prepared to bleed as he bleeds. Forget that again and it will be your tongue.” He walked away, leaving Dovan on the floor.

Akiros flashed on something his father taught him as he watched the thin, dark-haired man pull himself up: never leave an animal wounded.

“You’re right, of course,” Dovan said sweetly, dogging the Stag Lord’s steps. He removed a leather flask from his belt, offering it with a smile. “I overstepped my authority of course, lesson learned. Now, why don’t we tend to that wound of yours.” He gave the flask a shake. “Nothing takes the edge off a nice cut quite like this. Believe me, I know almost as much of liquor as wounds and how to cause them.”

Akiros watched with disgust as the Stag Lord reached for the flask, hand trembling with anticipation. He turned away before the drink was to his scarred lips. Poison a man in plain sight by playing to his vices. Corruption feeding corruption. Akiros caught Kressle’s eye and knew instantly what she wanted, what she always wanted when she saw the Stag Lord, and he felt just loathsome enough to let her take it.

As they kissed, he slammed shut the door to the armory, her hands already undoing his armor. Kressle was ravenous and he wanted to be devoured. It was not love that they made, rolling in the dirt. He knew better and so did she. He was a proxy, as all her lovers were, for the one she could not take by lust or force. Even deep in his cups, the Stag Lord would not open his bed to her.

They lay naked a while, enjoying each other’s warmth. He turned to her. “If you could start again, would you?”

“I didn’t think you had that kind of stamina,” she said, smirking.

“I mean your life. Would you leave all this behind and try again…if you could?”

Kressle propped herself up by her elbows. “And do what? Run away with you? I mean, this is fun and everything…”

“This isn’t about me,” Akiros said.

She rolled her eyes and started to dress. “You’ve always got to ruin a good thing. It’s never just sex for you. You’ve always got to get philosophical. Look, this is it. This is all there is. You’re either one of these people wandering from place to place with your life in a wagon or you’re us.”

“The people robbing that wagon,” he muttered.

Kressle turned to him, furious. “He made us strong. We’re better because of him. You’re either strong, or you get stepped on.”

He thought of Dovan. “Maybe some of us are worse.”

“Don’t go soft on me,” she said, standing and tugging on her shirt. “This used to be home, remember? Late nights on the banks of the Tuskwater and days spent boxing in caravans on the South Rostland Road. You were this angry force of nature, like him.” Kressle smiled and touched his bare chest with her toe. “Only better. I could have you.”

“He’s not what he was.”

Kressle shrugged. “I think he’s better. I think you bring it out of him. Just like he reached into us and made us better.”

“Why did he murder the toll collector?” Akiros asked.

“I wasn’t there.”

“He used to be a champion among thieves. Now he drinks until he’s neither. It’s like he’s given up on whatever it was that made him great.”

“Are you kidding?” Kressle was incredulous. “We’re going to rule the Greenbelt. The Narlmarches are already ours. I’m going to keep pushing north until Rostland can feel us biting into the meat of their overfed bottoms. We’re going to be what Pitax should have been.”

“Another bandit kingdom,” he said quietly.

“A real kingdom, without the nobility and pretty dresses and people starving in the street. A place where you stand up and take what’s yours and the people cheer you on.”

Akiros wanted to say that these were the dreams of the young, that he’d heard it all before in the mouths of men who preached strength but wallowed in weakness, and that a kingdom worth ruling wasn’t one where the streets were devoid of poor because the strong had crushed them all underfoot. He wanted to, but didn’t. Kressle was young. At times it seemed she was impossibly young.

“Go on,” he told her. “Auchs will want to see you before you head out.”

She nodded. “He’s got a brain like a potato, but god, he makes me laugh. You coming?”

He laced his pants and started collecting his armor. “In a minute.”

Kressle opened the armory door but he closed it again. She looked at him expectantly.

“I want you to promise me something.”

She laughed. “Come on, you don’t really think a little tumble now and then and one really good summer means you get to order me around, do you? You couldn’t keep me back when you had me.”

“Not an order,” Akiros said. “A promise. Promise me if something better comes along, something real…I want you to promise I will never see you at this place again. You’ll follow it wherever it leads and never look back.”

Kressle looked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “What are you talking about? It? What’s it?”

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

She shrugged. “Fine, if this magical better than whatever comes along, I’ll see where it goes. I’ll promise, but you’ve got to make this stupid promise, too.”

Akiros touched the hilt of his sword and thought of the day Dovan’s smile would be forever cut from his rat face. “I already have.”

Late that night, while Akiros slept and Kressle began her ride back to Thorn River, a deeply inebriated man with a helm of polished bone stumbled out of the fortress and walked, bottle in hand, deep into the night. The Stag Lord drank until a single swallow of liquor remained and then abstained. By the time the sun rose, his head was clearer than it had been when he left the fort. By the setting of the sun, he was halfway to his destination. He endured a stabbing ache in his skull and legs, but he did not slow until the river was in sight.

The waters of the Shrike shone yellow and orange in the dawn light. The nameless man who others called Stag Lord stood at the edge of Nettles’ Crossing, looking down at the water with the bottle in his fist, an offering to an unquiet spirit.

The river bubbled and churned, as if his very presence boiled its heart and the wretched corpse he’d sent there. “Come, Davik Nettles,” he whispered, so tired he could no longer be sure whether this was dream or reality. “One monster to another, let us share a drink…” He hurled the bottle into the roaring water and was answered by a single bony arm rising up to catch it.

The Stag Lord removed his helm, feeling a small flutter. The decayed and water-battered body of Davik Nettles rose to the surface, standing on the river Shrike with the Stag Lord’s bottle in hand. The creature’s water-choked voice carried on the wind as if borne by demons of air and vengeance. “You will not placate me with gifts.” The bottle shattered. “How like you my dreams, Stag Lord?” Its smile was grisly and grotesque. “I will kill her a thousand more times before I grow bored waiting for your tears.”

“My head is filled with ten thousand nightmares,” he replied, swaying a little, “all of them more real than the fantasies you cast. She is real. The nightmares you send are not.”

“Then I will have your soul. It will rot below the water with mine forever.”

A dark smile tugged at the scarred and twisted lips of the Stag Lord. “You would have what was beaten out of me long ago. I have no soul… And neither do you.”

“Yes…” the corpse hissed. “You burned it away when you murdered me. All that remains of Davik Nettles is hate. Come, let the boy I see in your dreams swim in blood his elder self has spilled. Come to me. Walk into the water and never be at peace again…”

The Stag Lord leaned toward the water, momentarily hypnotized by the gurgling, chill voice of his once-victim. “No,” he said, stepping back from the edge of the ruined bridge.

“No? You will do as I say or I will rend this wretched land…” The ghastly creature stalked closer, its feet splashing the river’s surface as a man crossing a puddle. “I will drive my fingers into its heart and claw your wretched kingdom apart!”

The Stag Lord gave a single, rusty laugh. “You were nothing in life. In death, you are twice nothing. Your threats are as hollow as your fish-eaten chest.”

The revenant howled with rage, sending flights of birds from the trees with the pitch and volume of his fury.

“What do you think I owe you, eh?” The Stag Lord cocked his head, teetering a bit from drink and exhaustion. “Your life? You were a pitiful excuse for a man. No courage. No conviction. No pride. You have what you hold.”

Nettles was nearly to the river bank now. “To the Nine Hells with your river freedoms! You pay the toll or you swim! Charity doesn’t build bridges and excuses don’t raise the dead!”

The Stag Lord spread his arms, welcoming the impending attack. “Here you pay with strength or you pay with blood.”

Propelled by rage, by hatred so thick it could step upon it like stairs, Nettles climbed to the cliff top and stared into him with the charred pits of his eyes. “I gave you the bridge, but that did not sate you. Now it will be you who sates a burning fire…”

“Worthless to me. I wanted courage! Fire! The man who fought back. Someone who could stand with me!” He sneered at what remained of David Nettles. “Instead I find a sniveling coward who’d burn his bridge to save his own life. You didn’t fight my men. You bought them.”

A jet of water flew into Nettles’ hand, forming a ranseur. It raised the weapon to strike. “The great Stag Lord, petty bandit who would burn a man alive for principles and a box of coppers.”

The Stag Lord reached into a pouch and removed a fistful of copper coins. “I would not spend your coins if they were all that could save me from starvation.” He cast the coins into the Shrike without taking his eyes off Nettles. The corpse watched the copper pieces scatter, jaw agape, shock giving way to a fury that boiled the water out of him, shrouding the undead in mist. “Live for coin,” the Stag Lord said, “die for nothing.”

Nettles screamed and drove the ranseur into the Stag Lord’s seemingly exposed chest. The weapon liquified on contact, splashing against him and reforming when Nettles jerked the haft back.

“As much a coward in death,” the Stag Lord said, tucking his helm under his arm. “Even your vengeance would rather live a half-life than die fulfilled. Pathetic.” He turned his back on the undead toll collector and began to walk.

Behind him, Nettles screamed, “I will find the woman you dream of and I will hold her beneath the water until her body goes still! I will see you suffer! Everything you care about, Stag Lord, will die before you!”

The Stag Lord returned the helm to his head and walked on, the dead man’s howls rising in pitch until they were the whistle of boiling water. “We all have to live for something,” he whispered.

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Old Castles and Hostages

Staglord s fort

The party recently discovered an old fort that has been partially rebuilt along the edges of the Tuskwater. Could this be the home base of the Staglord or some other menace in the Stolen Lands?

But of course the real question is…. who is the hostage???

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Journal Entry of Wind-That-Races-Before-The-Rains

His ribs were sore and his shoulder ached where the Forever Hunter’s (trolls) claws had gouged him several days before. Wind-That-Races-Before-The-Rains was grumpy today, which wasn’t helped by the constant chattering of his two-leg and the rest of his people. They sound like birds fighting over seed. Once more he was glad his people used shifts in stance to indicate mood, and adjustments of the ears and head to show intent, so much easier and more to the point quieter. He wasn’t sure when he started thinking these thoughts, or when the chirping of the pink skinned two-legs members of his herd began to make sense to him, he just knew it was real now. He grunted at the female two-legs horse, Light-That-Escapes-The-Clouds, and shifted slightly towards her, indicating his interest, to which she replied “I’m eating” with a swish of her tail.

The last few suns and moons had been a blur. He remembered being at a two-legs’ cave where they were culling weak members of the two-leg herd (a habit of the two-legs he found strange), then travelling back to the two-legs mountain, made from dead trees and covered with the strange pelts they wore around their bodies, when they didnt have shells on. He wished he had a shell when he met the Forever Hunters, maybe his shoulder would feel better. At least the two-legs with the nice voice had made him feel better, though he didn’t like the smell of magic it gave off.

In any case, he got to see Prances-Lightly-In-High-Grass in the stables when they returned to the two-legs mountain, which made him want to run really fast thinking about it. He waited while a lot of pounding and chirping went on, and he wondered why the two-legs had to make more mountains when they pounded, why couldn’t they just stomp the ground like his people did? At least he got to see the short two-legs who spoke properly to the people in the herd, and had a nice conversation with him. He talked about planting food, probably the nicest thing two-legs ever did. He liked the small one, who always had a few carrots or apples on him, and was the only one who ate normal food. Why couldn’t they all be like this one?

His herd then split up again (another thing that puzzled him, why would you weaken the herd on purpose?) and his half went south, to meet the lizard two-legs, but they were holed up in their cave and did not come out, but then again, thats what lizards do. We stayed in a normal cave the next moon, and I did my best to quiet our people, especially when another herd passed by in the night. The next day we went to a two-leg water path that wasn’t there anymore, and we stood fearfully while the two-legs chirped at a dead thing. After that the water path was back again, and we crossed the river. We seemed to be following another herd (maybe they finally realized there is safety in numbers?) but when they crossed the river, we left their path and went the other way. At least we are staying near the river, where it is cool, there is always fresh grass, and plenty of cool water to drink.

The next sun, my two-leg led the herd to a place of Beginnings and Endings. The one with a nice voice and a kind touch went swimming, apparently not knowing where we were. I hope when it is my time to go, I get to go there, and have my own Beginning. The entire woods smelled like spring, and I wished the two-legs in the party could make their magic smell as nice.

We also traveled towards the setting sun for several sun and moons, stopping when we found huge fields of water. Our two-legs seem to enjoy walking through water, as they are always seeking it out, and constantly trying to go back and forth acrossed it. Maybe this helps them stay alive, and their pink skins need water?

We finally left the water fields, and went back across water(see what did I tell you?) after chirping at the dead thing again. We went to the burrow of the lizard two-legs again, but they were still inside. They must be sick or dead, because all people know that lizards like to sit on rocks in the warm sun, not stay in their burrows.

Later during that sun, we smelled a large burning, so big and strong that even the two-legs knew about it. My two-legs had us head directly for it. Traveling directly into danger as often as possible also seems to be something they do alot, maybe it helps cull the herd? When we got to the burning, there was another two-legs there, and he chirped at our two-legs. Our two-legs got alarmed, and while the people waited for the danger to come, the two-legs sat down and starting all chirping together, mostly at the new two-legs. Why do they signal danger at the newcomer and then chirp at him like he is part of the herd? At least the new one seems calm, I wonder if he is joining out herd?

Evidently, he is joining our herd, and now travels and sleeps with the herd. Our two-legs made a small burning like they do some moons, and more chirping, this time late into the evening. Once it got dark, they were joined by the rest of our herd, once again restoring us to a safe number. Our people were all calm then and quickly went to sleep, even those that were recently running, and the chirping kept going (even birds sleep at night, two-legs!) Maybe the short one will bring me another juicy apple or carrot, that might make me forget the soreness from the Forever Hunters…

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All around the fangberry bush, POP goes the gnome king
Post #6 (Session 7/16/11)

Stuff happened… no seriously…

Events:
- wounded dragon (kobolds call it Corhander and bolt)
- explored a hex
- weird warbling sound
- human hunter/woodsman tracks, one with bad boots

Fangberries:
- in a long valley along a river
- lots of thorns
- red and brown aggressive “chew” spiders
- berries look like dark purple raspberries
- grow in humid conditions with sandy soil and direct sun

Radish Patch:
- find 4 dead kobolds (not sootscales)
- human tracks here (one with bad boots)
- patch nearly destroyed
- Fal stays to try to fix the patch
- Loostryfe plants near patch

Oleg’s:
- make enquiries about a Ravenmaster (would cost 100g for set up and 1 yr. salary)
- Eric and Richard go to Bokken to deliver fangberries

Everybody loves elves:
- back to radish patch to find nice cabin
- ambushed by archer elves
- shoot Amadeo and Udo
- call Udo a traitor
- Casferaillian “herald of human tears”
- they likely think we destroyed the elven village Saraithinial was from
- back to Oleg’s to find her

American Gothic (it’s the title of a painting):
- Saraithinial and Jhod went to the Westerling farm to help with the orchards
- Udo and Fal go to bring her back and on the way Udo’s horse runs into a slice-o-matic
- Redcap (Moragh) attack
- from previous monster hunting incident with Demetri
- Westerling family: Mark & Janine, son Anton, 2 daughters Lisa & Jeyne (Jaynie-pretty redhead)
- Redcap is looking for distressed Brownie named Janeen (also)
- Redcap kills workhorse (Udo gives them 35g to replace it)
- Fal negotiates and tells the Redcap where he thinks Jennine is in exchange for safety of everyone (see below)

Everyone’s favorite desert:
- Drakkus had a dream that he was a brownie named Jennine being held captive in a box with a chain of cold iron
- there was also a woman being kept as a slave
- two evil humans (at least) named Broghan and Dallad (one with bad boots)
- we search for Janeen, hear warbling again

The seven dwarves were away for a long weekend apparently:
- find another cabin and attack
- Udo gets bear-trapped
- Eric kills Dallad
- Ara kills Broghan (sword through neck, yay!)
- Hede kills Richard (the 3rd bandit, not the Dick) with Fal’s help
- Hede releases Janeen who disappears
- Fal heals young woman (Sarah)
Loot:
- cooking rabbit
- crap leather armor
- 1 studded leather armor
- short composite bow (14 strength)
- masterwork longsword
- masterwork battleaxe
- traps for river creatures
- cold iron chain
- pelts: otter/mink/cats worth 200g
- potion of healing 1d8 +3
(no staglord symbols)

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Player Challenge

I would like for each of you to write a short adventure log entry from the perspective of your character about the attack on the hunter’s cabin. It should reveal something about how your character feels about some aspect of the event. Doesn’t have to narrate the whole thing, just sort of a quick thought or two about something that happened there or that you all did or discovered. This is your chance to show something about your character in a OOC way.

…and BTW, in our haste to disband last game session, I neglected to tell you all that there are 6 bushels of radishes also found in the hunter’s cabin :)

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