Heirs of the Stolen Lands

Ritter's Tale (Intermission 3)

Ritter grimaces and slides a whetstone down his blade “Good steel, but the edge is a bit too sharp. Keep getting nicks. Always surprised me. That a sword could be too sharp.”

“I outta box your ears, for heading into that damned buried city with just Gorst to back your play. And don’t think I wouldn’t. He’s a good hand, and strong as an ox. But half of you almost died in that damned city a year ago.”

Slides the stone down the sword “Too much polishing is no good for a blade either. Every pass, the sword gets thinner and thinner. Too small to see with the naked eye, but over time, year after year, it all adds up.”

“Now these Kyuric ruins. I understand you’re fascinated with them. I get that. Ancient arcane secrets, and all that.” Ritter grimaces again, and continues to polish at an imagined spot. “Just hold your horses, I’ll get to it.”

“But interest? It can become obsession. Look at Ostel the Trapper. Crazier than a loon. And this last Rostlander, what was his name?

“Yeah, him. Obsession. The kind of thing that makes a man think it’s safe to enter a city that was swallowed by the earth a thousand years before anyone you know was born with….”

“Don’t interrupt me, son. I don’t care if it was two thousand years ago or last Archerfeast. Now where was I? Yeah. Entering the bowels of the earth with only one other to back you up. Shows an obsessive personality. So I wonder if I should even tell you what he saw there.”

“Gorst. What Gorst saw.”

“Well I was just getting to that, wasn’t I?”

“Gorst. The ghost he saw. Down in the city. Now, don’t you go haring off when I tell you this, but I figure you outta know. It was like he was there, a thousand years ago….”

“Do you want me to tell you this or not?”

“So Gorst was — it was like he was an Kyuric soldier, however long ago. And he was eating on a veranda with his wife. Not his real wife, see, Gorst isn’t married. His Kyuric wife back in the past. And then a giant lady with green hair appeared in the sky. I take it this was way bigger than your usual giant.”

“I’ve been to Iobaria, of course I’ve seen giants. They bleed, they die. You just have to worry about them throwing you across the mountains before they do.”

“Anyway. This giant lady, the one with green hair. She pointed an ivy-wrapped wand. That’s important, because it stuck in Gorst’s mind, and the man couldn’t tell the difference between ivy and a rose-bush. She poiinted this ivy-wrapped wand at the city, and started to laugh, and the city just — fell. It fell, down into the earth, like pouring a bucket of water down a hole, the whole thing just slid right down.”

“And then?”

“And then he died. What did you think was going to happen?”

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Kaspar's Journal (session 16)

23th of Desnus (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

The peasants are restless and some have even started a vigil for the absent agitator Grigori. Things are so bad I have a second shadow by the name of Gorst. A grim rather large man wrapped in one of the warwolves great cloaks, if he can’t save me from myself no one can. Foul looks follow us everywhere as the peasants grow less shy in their resentment. Damn and blast Grigori to the darkest corners of Hell. Even absent from his soapbox he still plagues us. His twisting of the truth seems to have found fertile soil among the citizens of Leveton. Even Svetlana seems to think we could have done things differently. If only we had come a few moments later to the scene of the assault on his home. I’m sure the were-wolf would have made short work of him and we could have ended the threat of the beast and the provocateur all at the same time. Still, perhaps this way is best. The loss of Grengause and the betrayal of his ideals would have destroyed Karl. He is still berating himself over our failure to end the fight before the fatal blow was struck. The thought of the beast still makes me shudder. How could that engine of destruction be trapped inside the body of a surly woodsman? He shrugged off my most potent magics and kept coming. Even Drogov’s foul concoctions failed to do more than distract the thing.
This road will be hard if the peasants’ aim improves. A tomato arced past us on our way to the Witch’s hut on the edge of town. Vaszilla almost went after the author of the act but stopped herself even before she started; Karl’s influence on the woman seems more apparent every day. She has far more control and far greater understanding of the tightrope we walk than I would have ever credited her with a year ago. I begin to think she may have deeper insight into the path Karl walks than even I do. His patience with the unrest beggars me.
Perhaps, I will call for my brother sooner than later. He always understood the greater good better than I. His counsel will keep me from undoing the good Baron Von Allegmund does here with my tendency towards a brutal and fiery solution to things. I miss Konrad I hope he fares well; the old Baron must be quite the bear these days with Karl’s continued success. Perhaps, he has learned subtlety in his old age and Grigori is a gift from the old man.
I think I will suggest to my lord that he make a small change to his name to indicate the split between the two branches of his family. Van Allegmund has a certain ring to it and would do well for the southern branch of the family.
The Beldame was everything I expected and more than I hoped for. Crotchety, forward and opinionated she was both refreshing helpful. Vaszilla opened up in a way I have not seen before and while it didn’t make sense at the time I am starting to see what the Beldame meant by there is no fire. In this world we have the things that create the fire; the wood and the air but the fire itself is a reaction to a particular combination of those things. The fires I wield are something wholly separate, a “topsy-turvy” thing unto themselves. Which is why I didn’t see things properly from the first. We need to see what it is about the people that allows a man like Grigori to ignite them so and if possible do something to dowse them in a way that prevents their ignition. As the member of our band with the most colourful background Vaszilla might be the one to sniff this underlying current of discontent out. Her role as Spymaster may be fortuitous in the extreme considering the current situation.
One thing that came to light during our conversation after the visit to the witch was the nature of the statue in the temple where we battled Ostel so many months ago. Prof. Ostenenko is well and away too full of himself. He will not take the danger seriously and could be in peril. We leave tonight with the hopes of getting there in a couple days.

24th of Desnus (11th year of the R.O.N.S.)

Our first day of travel went well. Ostel seems unsure if allowing this journey constitutes me being safe but he can argue that point with Garess. We reached Bokken’s hut with a couple hours of daylight to spare. Bokken was his usual hyper helpful oddly combative self when we stopped by. Thoroughly outraged by the witch’s suggestion and at the same time complementary of the very same suggestion. He also provided us with the additional healing potions we requested making this less of a risky endeavour. Bokken’s quest for immortality worries me. I shudder to think what he would do stuck at his current age and mental acuity.
Our Journey to the South was finished for the night when our preparations for a night’s rest was interrupted by a charging horse. Clearly, reared for a wealthy knight I managed to arrest its headlong flight with a trick I’ve seen Karl use. Damn near wrenched my arm out of its socket. The horse’s hooves came dangerously near my head in the process. From the look on Gorst’s face as I made the attempt he clearly was already debating running deep into the River lands versus explaining to Captain General Garess how my head had been split open like a walnut. A rather stern note to myself to never attempt that trick again. As it was Vaszilla’s growing connection to the animals around us confirmed our suspicions of some sort of battle or ambush and we quickly broke camp and set off on the trail.
A few hours later we encountered the scene of the ambush. A dead squire and his horse and two young owl bears feasting on the entrails of the horse clearly having already worked over the dead man’s body. After slaying the two beasts we found another, bloody, trail that lead off and we followed it to a large creek passing the corpse of yet another young owl bear.
Badly wounded and his companion dead the owner of the horse must have grabbed a couple logs and floated off down the water in a desperate attempt to escape the nasty beasts. We followed til dawn and at that point with the trail leading further away from our original destination we rested and then split up. Vaszilla and One-eye after the wounded man and Gorst and myself on to Prof. Ostenenko hopefully in time to warn him of the eerie nature of the statue.

25th of Desnus (11th year of the R.O.N.S.)

We were far to late. All we found was death. The exterior of the excavation was barren and left behind were two monstrous wolves, an unholy welcoming committee formed from some weird ectoplasm. I was pleased to learn they burn rather well. Gorst more than proved his worth when he smashed one of them into two pieces, the corruption they were made of splattering everywhere, dissolving as we destroyed them. Having read of such things during my apprenticeship I quickly tracked down the focal points for the wolves and finding the rune covered wolf skulls I broke them to prevent the wolves from reforming.
We jury rigged the pulleys that had been ruined after the last person left and we entered the lost city moving quickly by Mage light through the cleared passageways. Gorst it seems has taken his assignment to protect me rather seriously. We were on the ledge that leads away from the base of the buried tower and along the top of the chasm carved by the underground river when the animated bodies of the workmen attacked us. Gorst quickly stepped into the gap easily cutting down the poor undead workmen a second time. One of them managed a fearsome blow that left me reeling. After the battle Gorst had a few sharp words for me regarding choke points and letting the warriors do their job. Valid points if only I could listen. The Eisenberg love for the fray runs strong in my veins.
It quickly became apparent that Prof. Ostenenko did heed my warnings about the shadows and madness that seems to lurk in these halls. His explorations were in a completely different vein from Ostel’s, he had set up a rope bridge to cross the chasm at a different point and his men had started excavating a building near the top of the far cliff face. It was there that we found further tragedy.
The rest of Ostenenko’s team were there his apprentices waiting for us as undead horrors doomed to an eternity waiting for whoever may come. I am sad to say none of his people had escaped whoever had fallen upon them. With Gorst standing firm against their advance we easily dealt with the abominations.
There was one body not risen against us and when we checked we found an additional horror, just a more mundane one. Rot grubs had infested his body and nearly ate into Gorst’s hand through his leather gauntlet when he moved the body. Luck was on our side and a little well placed fire destroyed the vermin.
The final horror we faced was perhaps the most tragic. Prof. Ostenenko had been slain as well and out of the shadows he came warning us of the threat that had overwhelmed him and his men. The Mivonese Necromancer had slain them to a man and then strategically placed them as a deadly reminder of who we face. Luckily for us the bizarre nature of this place combined with Prof. Ostenenko’s great strength of will allowed him to maintain some sort of free will even after he was raised from death.
After his tragic tale he he demanded I destroy him while his will was still his own offering the few things of import he had managed to hide before his death as reward for such a grim service. Once I agreed to scatter his ashes on the surface he willingly stepped out of hiding and into the path of the scorching ray of fire I summoned forth. My only payment for his sage counsel and generosity was to spread his ashes on the hill top near the entrance to the city.

Gorst and I are returning to the city now hoping that Vaszilla was able to rescue the wounded noble. One thing is certain; I have much of dread import to discuss with my lord Karl.
On a happier note the treatise Prof. Ostenenko gave me is going to be invaluable to the point where it will bring my own research to a higher level. I also think I may have figured out how to unlock the size limitations on the rolling ball of flame I have used to great effect. Between the witch’s obscure suggestions and this text my power has grown greatly. If possible I am more excited about the Kyuric Tiles he gave us once deciphered they too can only add to my power.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 15)

4th of Desnus (in the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

I forget just how wild this land is even now after a year of settlement and farming and the destruction of so many of the beasts that are inimical to humanity and the civilization we spread. We were attacked by Wargs only a few hours away from the battle at Fangberry farms. Camped for the night we barely made it through half the night when they struck. We managed to drive them off with Drogov again rising to the occasion with his alchemist fire-bombs. Still we lost one of the horses and needed to double up for the rest of the ride home.

5th of Desnus (in the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Bloody murder was enacted last night. I should have realized we were in for some sort of weirdness when the Warg’s attacked us on a full moon. Still the carnage that awaited us upon our return was ridiculous. A woman farm holder was rent apart after her door was hacked into splinters. What sickens me is some street corner lawyer named Grigori is using this as a rallying cry against both the Kariv and Baron Van Allegmund I wonder if the man works for some external power or if he is merely an opportunist with delusions of being the next Pushkaya? Whatever the case he may need to be dealt with. Quietly, it wouldn’t do to make a martyr out of a traitor.
What bothers me is how easily he twists the fears and worries of the commoners into chains that he binds them with. Abadar only knows what he will get the mob up to. We do not need this kind of distraction right now. A werewolf or something pretending to be a werewolf is killing people in the main trade town of the Barony. If we do not catch it soon I will go to the witch on the edge of town. She may be the most potent caster in the region that is not arrayed against us.

6th of Desnus (in the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Last night was a bloody mess. The poor fool Grengause rushed in against a monster a 10 foot tall werewolf wielding a half moon shaped great axe . We tried to burn the thing down but even trapped between Drogov and myself the beast still managed to cut him in twain. The worst of it all is the Forgotten used a spell with a facility and power easily in excess of my own when he has claimed all along to be a simple spell caster barely past being an apprentice. I pray he too is not an enemy merely waiting for a better time to pounce.
As far as Grigori is concerned he spins his half truths and lies with too little care. He finally crossed the line by lying about Otto’s death. Baron Van Allegmund could not let that stand and when the pissant rabble rouser stood there wetting himself hiding behind a facade of helplessness Karl exiled him from his lands. I would have not been surprised if Karl had cut him down right there where he stood but while sorely tested Karl’s patience seems to know no bounds I fear leaving this man alive but once again I will not make of him a martyr.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 14)

1st of Desnus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

The peace has been broken again; this time shattered by the assault of the full fighting force of Gnolls that call themselves the Shattered Skull. With the outrider given a new mount I raced with him to the Kobold settlement. Sootscales and MekMek needed to be rallied and pointed in the right direction. The Kobolds are geniuses within the narrow scope of their interests but in order to avoid any chance of mixed priorities I went personally to rally them and guide them to the rally point to insure their aid was not disrupted by ill chance or spent uselessly in an attack on the superior Gnoll forces. If used correctly they will tip the balance nicely in our favour but they have to be in the right place at the right time.

2nd of Desnus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

The Kobolds moved quickly once rallied and I used their familiarity with the outlying stretches of the lands south and West of their village to our advantage. We encountered a small band of the green scaled kobolds that have recently moved north as part of the invasion and wiped them out almost to a man.
I once again have to admit to being graced with luck, this time with the lay out of the attack. Half remembered tactics from my days watching father drill the other Von Allegmund soldiers must have stuck with me because otherwise pure chance guided the ordering of the battle and the destruction of the enemy Kobolds. The few prisoners we took readily admitted to being part of a larger force headed for the Fangberry Farms and the bridges over the Thorn. Sootscales and MekMek sent them back to the Silver mines with the intent to use them as slaves. These Kobolds are more human than most men would care to admit. They inflict cruelty on their own kind simply based on scale colour and being dumb enough to support the losing side in a conflict. One thing that is starting to bother me is the Kobolds since our crushing victory have started referring to me as “Soopreem Kommander Of Kobolds Kaspar” as if by giving them sensible direction in battle it elevates me above the average human, whom they consider crazy at best and stupid at worst. Karl will laugh when he hears it especially considering my tactical strengths to date have been limited to the appropriate application of fire.

3rd of Desnus (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Racing along the Thorn we managed through magic and Drogov’s odd Bird companion to coordinate our strike and due in no small part to the bravery of Karl’s troops we managed to draw the Gnolls in and then my Kobolds hit them from behind. Surprise and numbers turning what could have been a bloody fight into a rout. Again, the sensible use of the Kobold troops and the minimal casualties they were dealt has led the Kobolds to consider myself and Drogov to be the source of any cunning found among the Erholtian troops. They seemed shocked not to have been thrown into the meat grinder. Perhaps they have been used as expendable shock troops time and time again by so many different masters over so many of their short lived kinds’ lifetimes that now they instinctively expect it. Perhaps, it could be argued, this is also the source of their belief that humans are all “so stoopid”. An interesting paper to work on over the winter months should things calm down again.
Karl quick marched us down to the Fangberry farmsteads and using Captain General Garess’ resurrected Strelsye to hammer home our position we drew out the Gnolls and shattered them. Mad Old Bogdanov would have been proud. We managed to track down the leader and his body guard and while it was touch and go for a bit we managed to defeat the troll. The Baron was beaten almost to a pulp by the small tree the Troll was using as a club. How do you tell a man to be more careful when that willingness to step into the gap and put himself in harm’s way is a part of what makes him great? Luckily Drogov and I were able to pin the monster down with fire and Vaszilla and Zeleny finished him.
Back to Leveton to re-equip and then off to explore the southern reaches of these lands we now call home. I begin to fear that the Trolls we have been facing are using an old Kyuric City as their base. Somewhere, near the shores of what is now the Tuskwater lies a potential treasure trove of old knowledge and relics of unknown potency. I hate being wrong but this is one time that I wouldn’t mind.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 12)

Letters from Yuripol

14th of Abadius (in the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

I have been in Restov for most of two months and while the worst of the winter blows outside. I have never been more grateful for the powers inherent in the path I have chosen, no fumbling around looking for light no scrambling around trying to re-ignite tapers. Not that the Restovian winter lays a finger on the winters of Eishofen and Sirtov to the North.
My time here has been well spent in one regard; the local Fellow Travellers have been most helpful in filling the few gaps in my magical learning. I am close to an additional breakthrough although the proper phrasing and enunciation still escape me. My old master’s words still echo in my ears; “Patience, young Eisenberg, patience. Time and practice will give you the world.” Master Damcevski has never been more right.
It is very strange to me the changes the last year has brought. I now rub shoulders with the Rostian, Brevoyan and Osstian nobles and their chiefest of servants and my opinions and questions are treated seriously (if with a little suspicion in some circles). It does shock me how much influence and as a result effective power the nobles’ aides have. Luckily, being a wizard tends to gain me a small measure of respect beyond the national interests that are tearing the Empire apart.
My mission of getting Brevoyan and Osstian settlers for our new Barony continue apace. It is easy to present the requests as part of my Lord’s desire for more of the familiar in his new home. One thing holds me back from a more aggressive recruiting campaign. The Eisenvolk and their plans. I am hesitant to send for my folk until I am sure we are not taking a viper into our breast. Hopefully, my brother will respond soon. He alone I can trust to speak the truth no matter what, even if it means we stand on opposite sides of the field. As long as we keep the lines of communication open my twin and I will find a middle way and make them see sense.*

16th of Adadius (in the 11th year of the Rule of Noleski Surtova)

What was I thinking? Asking that self important madman to write to me has now given me a headache as well as made me want to race back to Leveton. Thank Abadar and all his saints that he equates Baron Von Allegmund’s success with his own. At least I can count on the treasury to stay full and the records to be accurate. As long as he can keep his opinions to himself he is a model servant. Perhaps we should find him a common sense woman to keep him in line. Assuming she would put up with his foolishness in the first place.
I will need to speak to Karl about being more subtle with his distaste for the good Yuripol. Yuripol Yuripovitch Andropov is a useful tool and as long as he is a useful tool, no matter how big a headache he may be socially, he is still a useful tool. I will also talk to Yuripol when I return about keeping his opinions to himself. Spreading half remembered legends and old wives tales does no one any good; and he does no good to himself or anyone else dead at the end of Captain-General Garess’ sword if she hears the rumours that he is thinking of spreading.
On the other hand my lord continues to rule from the field which is a good sign, I expect nothing less from him. The arrival of Valentin Nelidov, the master of the Bolshoi Carnival is most interesting. It is good to hear that Drogov Drogovovitch was able to lay down the law and ensure the carnival was well received. Mid winter festivities are always good for morale and a positive Kariv presence lends itself to my hopes for a blended people in the Erholtmark. The end of Yuripol’s letter saddens me greatly, such a loss is terrible; the thought that the Fey would use such a happy day as the time of their mischief speaks volumes for their hate. Let alone using the poor Kariv as potential scapegoats. I wish I had been there to help put a stop to it before things got out of hand. Still, leaving the fairground fallow so that a memorial can be raised to the dead strikes me as a proper act of respect. Valentin Nelidov needs to be caught and dealt with if he hasn’t already been struck down by the time of my return.
If only we can stand as an example of the four peoples working together it might save the Empire from itself. Funny how priorities can shift. Who would have thought that securing my lord’s interests would include saving the empire from itself. The question is will we be allowed to exist long enough to gain the momentum we need. Mivon and Pitax are too close. Mivon especially will look on us as an enemy on their marches.

20th of Abadius (in the 11th year of the Rule of Noleski Surtova)

Much was accomplished over the last couple days. Normally pointless meetings produced results that will aid us in upcoming months and letters were sent to my brother and Father regarding progress here in the south. Depending on their responses I will move forward. If father feels that I over step my bounds I may have to refresh my memory regarding the secret code my brother and I used as children. Even if Konrad isn’t supportive I will need him down the road and that door must remain open at all costs. We will see the world together one day once the bulk of our great work is done.
One thing is clear I will need to sit with my Lord and the others and get them to confirm what happened and how. After re-reading Yuripol’s letter I can tell he is out of the loop and their closest councils are not for just any ears.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 11)

22nd of Erastus (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Sweet fresh air… so rare in the big cities of Brevoy I honestly did not realize how much I missed it until it was restored by the last few days of travel back through the Margreve. The forest seems more alive this time through and oddly aggressive. A larger form of the twiglings that we fought at the monastery tried to stand against Baron Von Allegmund. The thunderous clash was truly awe inspiring especially when my lord’s cold iron struck true against the knightly mockery and split in twain as if it was a log under a woodsman’s axe. Odd though that the forest would send but one assailant against us rather than a small horde. Perhaps, the knight is the forest’s dreams of the armoured men that roam its eaves.

24th of Erastus (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Lavorca is gone… the witch’s talons five long furrows that are all that remains of the people we met and planned with. Oddly out of time if the Kariv wood cutter is to be believed. I would love to spend a winter questioning one of their wisemen with a priest on hand to sift the lies from the truth. Too many times the other peoples of Imperial Brevoy have treated the Kariv as simple outlaws for any chance of the whole truth to be possible. He made his pronouncements about the people of Lavorca and their fate and then settled in to play his pipes. The sadness in his playing echoed that sadness I felt from the final sounding of the Fey horn that summoned the shadow court for the Dragon’s coronation. Lending credence to the Kariv’s tale was Zeleny’s disappearance through a weak spot in the walls between this world and the first. Luckily I spotted the gap and was able to reach out to her and pull her through. Again, I step into the breach as if I had a death wish. Perhaps my repudiation of the Eisenvolk’s plans for the Von Allegmunds is simply another manifestation of that urge to self destruction. As it was fortune smiled on me yet again. How many times will I roll the dice before St. Nethys calls me home?

25th of Erastus (the 10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Our return to Oleg’s was a welcome relief and the source of more puzzles. Mek Mek was waiting for us although not in the manner I think he wished. Caged and awaiting our return he was being tormented by some of the children that arrived with the new settlers. Not everyone is as willing to see beyond the book’s cover as Karl is. Perhaps further proof that tying myself to his fate is still the correct path. The news is dire although how much so I am not sure. The Mivonese representative is a Necromancer, possibly THE necromancer, and he took the body of the slain red Kobold TarTuk the great. I am sure it bodes ill for the future but how much so I have no idea. With the writs from the chancellor and Karl’s new titles the next few months will be interesting and busy.

7th of Arodus (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Gods I hate this! I must have been the servant of a foul Demon or Devil in a past life because having to recruit that toad Yuripol to do the work of the Barony’s treasurer was pure agony that had to be torture straight out of the darkest pits of the Netherworld. On the plus side his willingness to crunch the numbers and keep track of the settlers and their taxes means I am free to act as my lord’s representative. The first such task fell to me as Master Ruslan Bramov the Envoy of Baron Drelev arrived from the west to discuss mutually beneficial trade arrangements. Luckily he was a reasonable man and I was able to conclude the first of many deals on behalf of the Baron. We may have even come out a little ahead.*

12th of Arodus (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

We received a short visit from the envoy of Baron Chamov. Apparently, his Lordship was more than willing to give us preferential treatment and trade deals in exchange for some time hosted while boar hunting in the Narlmarches. Knowing that Karl is a fan of the sport it was easy to agree and find something they could spare that we needed for our Barony. It seems that as long as I deal with the locals the tiresome nature of my role will be kept to a minimum and we may still gain from these visits. At worst we get a distraction from the mad crush that is the expansion of the Barony.

24th of Arodus (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

An interesting problem has arrived on our doorstep and my lord has found an elegant solution to the problem. An Osstian noble whose family has a reputation for burning Numerian villages and the adventuring band that he travels with. They call themselves the Grey Geese after the heraldry of the the young Osstian’s coat of arms. Karl has asked them to prove themselves by holding the ruined fortress that had previously been the Stag Lord’s base. Karl has plans for the keep but it will take time to implement those plans and the last thing we need is to fight our way through it a second time.

23rd of Rova (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

So much to do and so little time to record it. Much of the last month has been spent making sure the requisitioned materials actually get to the right spot at the right time. The council is in full gear for too much to do for any of the typical infighting seen in more established courts. Karl has taken to his role like a duck to water. He lives and breathes the laws of the land and his sense of justice tends to bring out the best in his new subjects. He has clearly decided that this time and this place will be seized and used to make something better for those around him.

13th of Lamashan (in the 10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

The Harvest goes well. Much better than we had any right to expect considering how late many of our people planted their crops. It seems I am constantly being asked to assess and confirm the reactions of our neighbors for each step that we take. The Mivonese will need to be dealt with especially considering the Necromancer that seems to work for them. Karl seems to have no designs on their territory but who knows, the sword lords may in fact draw his ire. The forces we have gathered to our banner are well motivated and trained by Knight Captain Garess but are too few even if they are backed up by Sootscales kobolds. We would need some great influx of folk from the North. So Busy I almost forgot my birthday is coming up must remember to send something off to my brother. Perhaps with a message asking for word if the Eisenvolk are willing to support my descision or if we should be watching our backs even closer than we already are.

18th of Neth (in the 11th year of the Rule of Noleski Surtova)

Beaver pelts and the 10 dozen streams and rivers of the Greenbelt have added a pleasant boost to our economy. I will never understand the whims of the fashionistas that swarm around the Imperial court. We will still take their money as it funds the Barony’s rapid growth. Which I have to admit is slowing with the early advent of the winter. Some biting cold days and the first couple snowfalls arrived a couple weeks early and if it weren’t for the jovial energy of Baron Chamov and his men the dreary season would have set in. Abadar above I have never seen a man unconscious from the drink drain a last tankard of Ale without actually looking at it. I am getting a hangover just thinking about it and I didn’t get stuck drinking until dawn like Karl did. The hunt itself went well and the Baron has already extorted promises for next year’s hunt out of Karl.

8th of Kuthona (in the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

On the road to Restov for a series of meetings. I hope to gain promises of Brevoyan and Osstian Artisans among future settlers. As much as the Barony needs the additional bodies we need quality folk who bring both energy and skill to the table. Hopefully, the contacts I have made dealing with our immediate neighbours will help. My goal with recruiting northerners for the Barony is to thin out the Rostland blood in Karl’s lands. An broader mix of folk will lend itself to tension but in time give us a land with no strong ties to any specific part of the Empire.
More importantly it is time to start laying the groundwork for Karl’s future. Now that we’re almost ready to rebuild the keep on the Tuskwater it is time to consider whom we wish to ally with and what possible alliances we want to cement with a marriage.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 10)

3rd of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

The mission as such seems complete; the Stag lord and the twisted nature priest who was his father are dead, his followers slain or scattered as well. Combined with the lifting of the curse that Bill Nettles’ Spectre laid upon us things are wrapping up nicely. I will admit to no small fear when the Stag Lord’s spirit was rent from his mortal remains. I had no idea that the spirits of the dead were so tightly bound to their corpses. The ranseur we were gifted with draws me to it although I know not why. Perhaps this place is working its will on myself as well. How to explain it all is troubling me. Sending off my final report to Yuripol will be a pleasure. The petty bureaucrat will not be missed. I wonder if the Regent will have other “work” for us. Perhaps, we will see upon our arrival in New Stetvin. It would explain our summons to the court.
An interesting development is Vaszilla’s new friend, a big cat that has been hunted into extinction in the rest of Brevoy, the Brevoyan Tiger. Perhaps there is something more going on beyond their shared demeanor. It is too coincidental that we saved the beast and now it seems intent on warming Vaszilla’s feet. So many things out of the ordinary in this land. I may lobby to stay, the need for further study promises results and benefits greater than any political maneuvering that I may be able to assist with. Now if only I can convince Sir Carl of the need to stay, his desire to go forth and do good across the land a barrier to any long term residence here. Maybe I can sell it too him as a forward base of operations. Something will come to me I’m sure.
My faith in my former master is at an all time low. Master Ostenenko is clearly a self important fool. I hope to Abadar and all his saints that it is a facade concealing a mind like a steel trap and power most puissant. After our return from New Stetvin I will have to check on him and hope for the best. Another, more powerful, Ostel is not what I had in mind when I sent letters north asking for aid.

6th of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

The Margreve is certainly a place out of time. The accents these people have is closer to the pure Kyuric tongue than any group of modern speakers I have met so far. On the other hand they also speak in a self referential way that makes my head spin. Thank the saints we didn’t act pre-emptively and strike down the goody Magritte. Bertalan in his madness is a trial on all his folk. On the plus side the beer we had was good and I will happily return with spices and cheese for a small keg or two. Lazlo seemed interested enough in the spices that I might be able to arrange something with Oleg upon our return.

11th of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

We have arrived! The great city is truly a marvel and we are being hosted as heroes of the empire. Rykov the major-domo is an extremely efficient man who has a staff clearly composed of Djinn and other magical folk in order to provide such excellence so quickly. I did think he was having a minor heart attack while processing Sir Carl’s announcement that we were our own baggage train; and that we had little or no court worthy clothing. A rather comic Andoran by the name of Olivari has been commissioned to make our court clothes. I wish I had been a fly on the wall when he had his interview with Vaszilla. He must have come within a hair’s breadth of losing a limb.
Rykov has already provided me with the name of a spice merchant in the city who I am sure will be able to provide any, and all, spices I may need. I wonder what the Regent has planned for us? Perhaps, an offer as commissioned officers in Von Beckendorf’s Gendarmes? We do well against bandits and the gendarmes are increasingly in charge of the border regions.

12th of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Sir Carl is to be Baron! admittedly of a newly claimed border region that has been less than civilized over the last 25 years and abuts next to territory claimed by the Aldori sword lords in exile(the City State of Mivon). The Regent clearly has faith in our abilities and the chancellor Count Vyacheslav laid out their desires for this operation to not only succeed but succeed handily and provided all the support we should need. Considering the penalty for failure they definitely see our odds as better than 50%. I hope I got across the Eisenberg “I will die trying.” I wonder if all the Surtovas are as imposing as the Lord Chancellor and his brother the Regent? I also wonder how things escalated so quickly.
The die is cast one way or another. Sir Carl had dinner with his father this evening and what should have been a pleasant round of congratulations and toasts over a job well done turned into the virtual disowning of my lordship and my breaking with the Eisenvolk if they try to remove Carl from the playing field. I do not know what truly transpired between the Von Allegmunds but the leaders of the Eisenvolk sent an Assassin of some sort along with the Von Allegmunds to order me to try and ensure that Carl follows his father’s will. I hope they listen to my assessment of the situation. I misslike the idea of having to murder my way through my kin. In spite of that they will all burn if they try to trigger the war they seem to believe in by throwing Sir Carl to the wolves. I hope the unrest that seems to be sweeping the land will distract them all long enough to see sense.
Meanwhile, that very plague of uncontrolled change is spreading like the flames of a brushfire. Drogov said that a demagogue by the name of Brandauer was in the city being hunted by the gendarmes as he spread his version of the truth. Always someone willing to take a good idea and turn it into a hydra with 12 heads lashing out at all around it. The common folk need to be heard I agree but putting actual power in their hands seems like putting lightning into the hands of a three year old.

14th of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

It is done. Baron S. Von Allegmund and his cronies seemed to be the only ones not pleased by the elevation of Baron M. I. Chomkov and Baron C. Von Allegmund. It grows more and more apparent that the Empire is coming apart at the seams and it may be that having a pair of vital warriors on the southern border is the Surtovas’ way to ensure their external enemies aren’t able to move quickly or quietly when the internal enemies make their move. All the empire needs is for the Mivonese to leap across the border and reunite with Rostland while Brevoy struggles to put down rebellion in Osstia. No one seems to think of the human factor not even this Brandauer fellow who is stirring up the common folk in a fashion that worries me as it smacks far too much of a Galtian purge of the upper classes.
On the plus side of things the Medveyed Countesss seemed quite taken with Dame Zeleny so hopefully that may be turned to our advantage. Baron Chomkov has the look of a warrior; let us hope he has the eye of a tactician if the tribes that live in his newly minted Barony are as restless as he claims. We will be in no position to aid him against them or defend against the tribes if things go poorly for our neighbour. We leave in a day or two hopefully the empire will resist the urge to come apart at the seams a little longer.

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Drogov's Medical Journal

1st of Pharast

The expedition is expected to start within a year, so I’ve stepped up my daily exercising. I think I feel faster, but I can’t be sure. No signs of sickness or any health problems to report. I think my cognatogen is finally working effectively; only ten minutes or so of perceivable effects, and some side effects are present: weakness and dizziness, no long term effects are visible yet.

15th of Pharast

The expedition is now scheduled to start at the end of the month, I wish I had more time to exercise and prepare, as well as more time to find a better deal for the pharmacy. No signs of sickness or any health problems to report. Aleksandr and Esfir have tried my cognatogen, Aleks showed the same results as I did, but Esfir became violently ill after drinking it. This might mean that it’s similar to my formulae; only alchemists can benefit. Last time I used the cognatogen I felt a violent urge to configure with my bomb mixtures, but I can’t remember what it was I planned to do to with, or with them.

1st of Gozram

Expedition has started, the ostians seem fairly responsible, I’m glad one of them is experienced with the arcane, this might allow me to try to expand my knowledge of magical concoctions. No signs of sickness, I should have prepared better for the ridding though, whether or not repeated use of the cognatogen is a benefactor to the soreness. Speaking of, Aleksandr said he noticed another side effect, violent tendencies. He said that he nearly killed his neighbor’s dog just for barking loudly.

15th of Gozram

It turns out that Bokken, my old uncle who taught me the fine art of alchemy, has been hidden in the stolen lands, and I thought he had finally mastered his disappearing potion. He hasn’t changed much, maybe he’s gotten a little senile, but he’s getting old so that’s no surprise, no surprise that he’s looking for a way to cheat death either, I hope I can help him out, even if it doesn’t cure aging he might discover something, he’s always had great hunches. No signs of sickness, but my left shoulder is getting itchy when I use my cognatogen, maybe it’s just my imagination, but the strangest thing is that I didn’t even use it intentionally, it might be addictive.

1st of Desnus

Kaspar contracted filth fever form a rat in an old kyuric ruin, I took some medicine, gave some to him too, no one else in the party is showing symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that no one else is a carrier. I lost a lot of blood while taking on the bandit camp to the south, but my wounds have been disinfected, I don’t think I’ll suffer any permanent injuries, though my shoulder is taking longer than expected to heal, as long as I don’t make this a habit as Kaspar seems to have made it, I should be alright.

18th of Desnus

I’ve never been late for a single bimonthly update to my journal, but the blackscour plague took hold of the fort, luckily I remembered a remedy with my uncle’s help, the sooner I can help him with this potion of his the better, he’s loosing his mind faster and faster. This damn itching won’t go away either, even when I’m not using my cognatogen, and I’m experiencing strange aggressive patterns while using it, nearly killed sir Karl. I can’t remember why but I think I should stop using it so much.

1st of Serenith

The ointment I made for the itching isn’t working, and a growth is appearing right beneath my collar bone, luckily no one else can see it beneath my scarf. It might be a tumor, but I can’t be sure, and it might be a side effect of the cognatogen, but I could have sworn I heard it snore last night.

15th of Serenith

I hope those kobolds aren’t full of disease, especially since they’re very entertaining and look like great training partners. The growth has grown a… well, I guess it’s some sort of shell over a tiny patch, and it’s definitely making noises, my health seems to be unaffected, but maybe it’s a disease that takes time to develop symptoms. I hope I live through this adventure with enough money to pay for the most experienced doctors in Restov to look at it.

1st of Erastus

The growth fell off, right after killing the stag lord and his men, but I couldn’t find the growth on the growth on the ground where it fell. I thought I was just delusional from the recent overdose of potions and cognatogen, and exposure to the fumes from my bombs, but before it fell it felt like it had fur…no, more like… feathers?

OH SH… 2ndof estaraus, growht back, midlof nigt, wahts’giongon

2nd of Erastus

The growth is not a disease… well, maybe I spoke too soon, it might yet turn out to be… but it definitely has wings, and that thing I thought was a shell turned out to be a beak. I had a bird growing on me this whole time, and it came back when I was sleeping. It’s making weird noises, but I feel a connection of some sort with it. It’s kind of cute really

3rd of Erastus

I overheard the bird making noises that were definitely not chirps while riding the cart back to the trading post. I think it’s learning, very strange.

Okay, it talked, this is weird. It reattaches itself to me when I sleep then flies nearby during the day, and it calls me by my name. Something here is very wrong. Yet, I can’t help but feel that this could be something great.

4th of Erastus

I think I’ll call it Masha.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 9)

28th of Sarenith (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

You can feel the tension in the air as we prepare for the final push against the Stag Lord and his most trusted lieutenants. A few scrolls to extend my range if this turns into a running battle while Drogov mixes a merry brew to bedevil our foes. I just hope his aim remains true and he does not doom us all with an ill timed explosion. The plan to use Vaszilla as a fifth columnist does not sit well. I do not doubt her personal bravery or even her loyalty to our cause rather it worries me that she will stand alone if the ruse fails to find purchase with the Stag Lord and his minions. We will see when we get there. It is to be hoped that there is another way.

30th of Sarenith (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

We have collected Mik-Mek and our journey towards the keep that the Stag Lord uses as his base has begun in earnest. Mik-Mek knows the secret entrance well and believes it to be the best way in. Of course being his idea it is no big deal. We are more certain than ever that Vaszilla needs to infiltrate the bandit camp while the rest of us enter through the secret entrance. I still mislike it but necessity makes odd bedfellows and harder choices.*

1st of Erastus (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

It is done. The rogue knight is dead, his ogre-like ally dead and the Stag Lord burnt, battered and beheaded. We even slew the monstrous Owl-bear and captured the Twisted druid that served as holy man and healer for the outlaws. Most of the Stag Lord’s minions died in the fighting. It was a grim business moving through the ruined keep eliminating the bandits as we came upon them. They were a very odd bunch as much victims of their twisted natures’ as they were villains. I can’t help thinking that if they had thought and fought as a group; a properly organized and unified group of adversaries, they would have cut us to ribbons.
If we keep this small castle and make it our base of operations we are definitely getting an iron gate put over the pipe we used to gain entrance. Poorly made traps are not secure enough and that swamp could contain beasts or future enemies that could exploit it as easily as we did. Still that is for the future, we would need to rebuild and then resettle the area around the fort for that to be an issue. Tonight we rest; tomorrow we will scour the place top to bottom looking for the bandit band’s secrets. They have a great deal of ill gotten gains and we will need all of them down the road.
Another thing of great interest to me is the transformation of the helm the Stag Lord was wearing and the transformation it underwent after Zeleny claimed it. The druid we captured must know more; if only we could get him to talk. So much of this goes beyond simple banditry and murder.

4th of Erastus (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Knight-Captain Kutasov was pleased with our success and while Captain Garess will be disappointed that Sneeg didn’t live to see trial she should be satisfied that he did face a final judgement. The Knight-Captain while clearly full of himself is it seems scupulous in the execution of his duty. 500 freshly minted gold Chorals were given to us as part of our reward enough for any man to live comfortably on for many months should they have gone astray. We have also received an unusual invite to the capital to receive a further reward; what that might be I have no idea. I just hope that Vaszilla’s worries of a return to her dank cell and a treacherous end to our efforts in the south march are wrong. Additionally, as I ride with Vaszilla, I have been detailing the names of the bandits we slew as well as descriptions and names of the couple that fled. In the hopes that Yuripol’s masters will be able to use the information to hunt the murderous dogs down. He at least should be pleased this may very well result in his return to Restov and his more comfortable lifestyle… assuming the unrest in the great city isn’t going to boil over anytime soon. Not dealing with that sanctimonious fool will be a relief.
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Kaspar's Journal (session 8)

12th day of Sarenith (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Delays, delays, delays. You know the lands we traverse are desolate when the pair of huntswomen we travel with cannot resupply us as we go. A detour back to Oleg’s has resulted in some interesting news. Apparently there are a good number of Restovians looking to resettle in the newly pacified areas around Oleg’s I guess the crackdown must have squeezed too tight after the initial uprising. These people look like craftsmen and farmers not hardened anarchists. Mayhap the real opportunity my father saw in this venture will manifest after all. Although the idea of a Von Allegmund ruling in the far south is something I doubt anyone imagined.
We met the Erastillian priest that raised Zeleny and Father Gregor seems like a wise and kind soul. He answered some of my questions although his biases against practitioners of the arts arcane came to the fore. It allayed some of my fears and now that I know the beast depicted is a minor beast without a mortal priesthood the threat seems more manageable. Mayhap it should be destroyed after all lest a less scrupulous mage use it as a focus. No telling who would use it if we just sold the damned thing off.
Another person we met with is the leader of a small company of Gendarmes. This popinjay reinforces all my worst fears of the new southern nobility. So afraid that their recent station will be rescinded they act more like the entrenched nobility than their old school peers. The man barely looked me in the eye when I spoke; even after my lord gave me leave to elaborate on the Kobold issue.
Speaking of the Kobold issue, Yuripol will no doubt be pleased to hear of the death of the scouting party we ran into. Admittedly, we let one live and didn’t kill the rest ourselves. But what Yuripol seems to be best at is making assumptions based on limited information and his own prejudices.
So many things to do. My letters to both my father and Karl’s detail much of the true trials as we face with my father and master receiving my suspicions as well. I truly think that the lost city we uncovered needs to be properly excavated and that temple room destroyed once it is properly examined. The Fey being more active here needs to be addressed and some sort of detente arranged so that the Narlmarches do not become another Margreve. Perhaps, I will stay in these lands and start a college of sorts. The Laissez-faire attitude of the Fellow travelers is not helping these lands. There needs to be something that makes things better. There are so few Mages and the individual members of the brotherhood are so secretive we wind up at cross purposes. Ostel’s death did not have to happen and that Necromancer either acted to willfully make things worse or in complete ignorance of the consequences of his (or her) actions. A college out here on the edge of things would create a breed of mages used to fending for themselves away from “civilization” and working together to get things done; hopefully that cooperation would have the beneficial side effect of making this area more stable.

14th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We finally found the ferry across the Shrike… well we found the guide rope and the burnt out remains of the dead ferryman’s cabin. Out of the river a ghostly figure rose and as I was readying myself to test it against the fires that rage inside me the etherial figure spoke his curse barring us from the Shrike. The wave of ectoplasmic energy made certain there was no doubt that the curse was a true one. The only way to undo the curse is to hunt down his murderer. The damned Stag Lord and his men murdered this Bill Nettles and now Bill’s ghost has cursed us in order to goad us into taking his revenge on the Stag Lord. In spite of our intention to hunt the man down anyway; I dislike being used by anyone let alone the specter of a murdered man.
Our explorations of the grant lands are almost done and all the bandits loose in the north of the Narlmarches and the Kamelands are now dead or fled. Hopefully, we will be able to cover the last bit of territory and pin down the location of the Stag Lord over the next week.

15th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

So we found the Kobold lair right where Mik-Mek said it would be and walked into a coup. Mik-Mek’s chieftain was in the process of losing control of the tribe to an ambitious sorcerer/shaman from a red Kobold tribe that could breathe fire. Luckily for the Chief we seemed to have provoked a pre-emptive strike from this Tartuk the Great. We quickly dispatched the Kobold’s and in spite of the fire-breathing being real magic and not more of the Kobolds’ exaggeration Drogov’s potions reduced Tartuk to ash. Chief Sootscales was understandably appreciative (once he stopped trying to claim responsibility for the victory) and volunteered the assistance of Mik-Mek as a guide. I gave Mik-Mek a couple of the Fey beads as a way of assuring him that we value his assistance even if it is being forced by his Chief. We made plans with Mik-Mek to complete our sweep of the Narlmarches and then we would return to go after the Stag lord.

16th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We found a reliable ford where the Thorn river meets the Shrike and may have to double back if there isn’t a better spot further down the river.

17th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Another minor victory. Bokken’s request for Fangberries is fulfilled. Why they would be useful in one of his concoctions I’ll never know but then again I have no delusions of being an Alchemist. If Drogov understands the request he isn’t letting on either.

19th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

So we found another creature supposedly extinct; a Brevoyan Tiger. The Brevoyan Tiger is a mountain Lion sized hunting cat with striped paterns down its back hence the name. The beast was supposedly hunted into extinction over a hundred years ago. Considering all that we’ve seen in the last two months my ability to be surprised by “supposedly extinct” or “only in Fairy tales” beasts and monsters is dying a slow death. This particular cat is a one eyed beast caught in an unmarked pit trap. I wonder if the recently deceased Breeg had anything to do with the trap from a time before he hunted the northern reaches of the Narlmarches. Anyway, the poor beast needed help and as the only one of us that had a reasonable chance to go down there and assist it without it eating us was Vaszilla. I gave her a black and white choice in order to speed up her own decision making process. Her reaction was predictable and her disdain almost palpable, in the end though, as long as she does the right thing I couldn’t care less if she thinks me a monster. Vaszilla healed the beast and released it from the pit. They made an interesting tableau the two hunters staring at each other. Both only having the one good eye. Perhaps, if the cat is not the last of her kind they could be reintroduced into the Brevoyan forests. The cats would bedevil the wardens of those lands in ways the lords of Osstia would laugh about for years.

21st of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Well, it seems we are getting more adept at hunting these Tatzlworms. Two of them this time and we dispatched them with only minor scrapes and bruises. The armor Zeleny made for herself certainly earned its keep this day. They are clearly not cousins of the red dragons as they do burn rather nicely. It is a shame that they are so aggressively territorial. Having to kill them seems like such a waste.
The encounter with the Wyrms had the added benefit of uncovering the body of one of their victims. Whoever the poor soul was his armor was still intact and of a size to fit my lord with only minor adjustments. It is a shame that the book he carried did not fare as well. It may have given us some clue as to what he was looking for in these wilds or better yet it might have contained spells that I have not yet mastered. Oh, well I am just grateful that the beasts did no real harm to the members of our band.

23rd of Sarenith (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

We now know the actual location of the meadow where the Unicorn prince was slain and his body left for the Fey to find. Zeleny had a brief conversation with the Old Willow although on this day he was not as communicative as he was on our previous visit and spoke only for her ears. It may be that our travels through this land will reveal Lady Zeleny’s “Stolen past”.

25th of Sarenith (10th year of the Regency of Noleski Surtova)

Once again we crisscross these lands as we head back to Oleg’s for some final preparation time before we get the Kobold Mik-Mek to lead us into the bandit lair. I will send further correspondence off during our brief respite at Oleg’s and then focus to the task at hand. Who knows what the future will bring I just pray that our destruction is not called for in the perfection and restoration of these lands.

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