Heirs of the Stolen Lands

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

Vaszilla' Private Thoughts (III)
He had it comin'. (cont'd)

And should I thank her for that? Maybe so. In this stinking life it was the best thing that’s ever been bred into me… I would never have survived so long had I not nursed in the lap of such a harsh mistress. But did she speak to me? Did I truly see myself? Or am I loosing my fucking mind? Can’t be sure. The one thing I do know is that I feel different now. I can…hear things better…people, the trees, animals… And I can still feel the burn of her lamp eyes behind the darkness of my bad eye… I think that Kaspar would probably understand. He’s into all this creepy shit. But I don’t want to say anything – not yet. I couldn’t handle being made fun of by that guy. And talking about it would feel a little too much like talking about my “feelings”. I fucking hate talking about my feelings.

But finally getting to cut the tongue out of fat, greasy, piece of shit liar? Now THAT is a feeling I can talk about. What a rush! Looking into his beady little eyes as the light went out – seeing the fear as I yanked his tongue from his head… But it didn’t feel as good as I wanted it to. I thought it would fear more satisfying once it was all over – I thought the feeling would last longer… But once he was dead… Well, the hate I bore him had nowhere to go. And it didn’t leave me… I still felt that dark burning deep inside me… But I kept that tongue… It will always be a reminder.

And really – something kind of good came from it. I met my little brother. And boy is he a tenacious little bastard. And fighting for the good of the citizenry? Wow – a regular avenging angel. But I guess Piotr taught us all at an early age what we’d never want to become. He’s apparently working for the Stag Lord now – a right hand man or something. It figures that a piece of shit like him would throw in with fairy-wine addicted sadist. A least I didn’t have to look Piotr in the face. I wouldn’t admit this to anyone – but out of everything in this world or the next, he’s really the only thing that puts the fear of the gods in me. He’s just a man, like everyone else. I just have to keep telling myself that.

And it’s nice to know that my little brother still remembers me…especially with what I have become. (Looks in a shard of glass at her haggard visage)

I was so much prettier once. (she sighs) But that way only leads to trouble. It’s better this way. This way, they know that if they fuck with you, it may be the last time they fuck anything. (grins and turns to sharpening her sword) Like Yakob. The last thing he ever saw was this ugly mug smiling down at him as I took from him everything he was and ever would be. Now that is what I call justice.

Vaszilla' Private Thoughts (III)
He had it comin'.

Well, here I am, back with the kids again. And I couldn’t believe it – as soon as I made my way back into camp, there was Sir Karl, glowering at me like he was my pa. He stood there, lecturing me on the finer points of (imitating Karl’s voice) “what it means to take an oath”, while Kaspar, like a sour-faced old woman nodded in agreement over his shoulder. Abadar’s Balls – I came back, didn’t I? I didn’t break my oath! But he kept going on about how they needed me here. What the hell was I supposed to do against some sort of plague sickness? I’m good at finding my way and cutting down bastards that need to die. I’m no good at saving people… So now he wants me to say some new pretty words – a new oath – one that (imitating Karl’s voice) “wasn’t wrought under duress”. So these words will make him feel better, despite the fact that I have stood beside my companions in every battle, fought tooth and nail for their little cause…. Man, he’s got to get his priorities straight. I even brought some loot back to share. I didn’t have to. There was no way they would have known. And did they say thank you? No. All they could talk about was the fact that I ran off without telling anyone. Yeah, like they would have let me go. It would have been a drawn out fight, with them deciding they would come with me, and by then Yakob would have been long gone.

And they have no idea what I experienced there. Not sure I even really have a good idea… Was it a dream – those brick and wooden arms cradling me in the night? That voice – so like a mother, but cold, barren, tired…. People see things when their minds are all mixed up. I wanted to get Yakob so bad – but being in the city again, in my home… It made me who I am – hard, cold, bitter….but tough.

more to come

Kaspar's Journal (session 7)

23rd of Desnus (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

It appears after only a few weeks apart our wayward allies have returned. Lady Zeleny’s lord clearly sees us as a way to eliminate someone who sullies his image. As his closest priestess she needs to be at our sides in order to best assist in that endeavour. Having her Bow and skills as a healer along side us is always welcome. No matter the reason. Additionally, Vaszilla did neither of things I thought she’d done. She didn’t bolt for the south and she didn’t get herself killed in some petty act of vengeance. She returned to us mostly unscathed with a grisly trophy and tales of Restov on fire and rebellion in the streets. All things considered I thought it most diplomatic not to mention that the man she murdered was in fact an imperial agent; or at least was at one time. She was having a difficult enough time trying to understand why we were upset that she snuck off without a word and couldn’t comprehend that we would have wanted to help if we were unable to dissuade her from her course. Loyalty of the type that Sir Karl lives and breathes is utterly foreign to her. It is to be hoped that the conversation we had upon her return has planted the seeds of understanding in her heart of hearts. She is a comrade in arms and a partner in this endeavour and as such we need her at our sides or we need to know why she is not available to help further our cause. Both Sir Karl and I tried to put it in words that would resonate with her but only time will tell if it worked.
Even more disturbing than Vaszilla’s disappearance and reappearance is Zeleny’s audience with the new Fey queen of the Narlmarches. A green dragon now rules the fey of the forest. When Old Man Willow said the Shadow court I did not realize the shadows went so deep. This all but guarantees war with the fey. Sir Karl will not let this monster’s rule stand for long and I fear he will begin the hunt in earnest after our commitment to purge this land of bandits is fulfilled. I do not relish the idea of dying in a forgotten part of the forest choking my life out before an outraged Dragon. Perhaps, something less fatal will capture my lord’s attention and I will have time enough to prepare for that battle. I wonder if this shift in the leadership of the fey was the real intent behind the Necromancer’s murder of the Unicorn prince. One death throws a massive piece in the way of the empire and the civilization it promises to bring.

27th of Denus (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We made the acquaintance of an old hunter named Vekkel today. He told us a wild tale of a boar that took his leg and we gladly took the commission to enact a little revenge on a suspiciously large boar; it even has a name if the hunter’s tale is to be believed. Yet more good will among the locals I suppose. As we head south I may have to get Zeleny to teach me some of the River trade tongue.

28th of Desnus (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Another sign of the malicious fey that now populate the area. Drogov spotted a fell lantern off in the woods from our camp. Vaszilla followed it a short way but stopped realizing that Fey or no it could only be a trap. In the morning I explored a short way in the direction that the light was heading and found the ground getting marshier as I progressed. I have a feeling yet another tale to frighten children has roots in an all to real truth.

30th of Desnus (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We slew a troll!!! The beast was in the process of gutting and eating an Elk when we came upon it. Between my comrades’ cold steel and my magics the monstrous killing machine stood no chance. I empowered the arrows of Vaszilla and Lady Zeleny so that the arrows would burn the beast as they pierced his thick hide. Sir Karl followed up our initial volley with a charge and set the stage for the monster’s final moments. Drogov’s alchemist fire was the telling blow as the beast burnt to a charred ruin within minutes. One less peril for travelers in this part of the world.

2nd of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We came across yet another former temple of Erastil. All that remained was a vine encrusted statue that shone with the god’s holy power once we cleaned it up. Even though we restored a monument to another god St. Nethys preaches that while necessary, destruction must be balanced with creation and preservation or civilization falls into chaos; and that preservation does not just apply to the faithful just to the faithful first.

5th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

We had a strange encounter today. A frogman knight of all things. Garuum was a boggard whatever they are. He seemed well versed in the human concepts of truce and safe passage. I just hope we haven’t left a future enemy alive to devil us at a later date.

7th of Sarenith (10th year of Noleski Surtova’s Regency)

Vengeance is ours! and although no one was badly hurt the horses took a beating as we slew the boar Tuskgutter. I can see why it took such a terrible toll on Vekkel. The beast was easily twice the size of a normal boar and if we hadn’t been mounted it could easily been one of us gored and bleeding. We butchered the beast and ate like kings. Back tracking to Vekkel’s camp we will add a day or two to our explorations but it gets rid of the grisly trophy he requested.

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

Who said doing a favour for a stranger was its own reward clearly was helping the wrong strangers. Vekkel gave us three arrows of animal bane which will come in handy in this wild place. Add to that the relief of finishing off our exploration of this boggy portion of the forest and getting back out into the open foothills our disappointment at the state of the bridge we found over the gorge was minimal. Eventually it will have to be repaired if we want to go further with the civilizing of this place.
11th day of 

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

We continued on past the gorge and crossed the river and moved east towards the hillier parts of the region that lead towards the Tor lands. We found a place where an ancient sycamore stood and as the highest point in the area we ascended to view the bigger picture. What awaited us was madness. The mites had slain a kobold with a dozen wounds. Thank all the saints that Drogov looked up when he did. The man is growing more reckless to keep pace with his skill. He threw alchemist fire straight up in among the descending mites and thankfully slew almost all of them. Still it could have gone horribly awry and I am not sure I can reason with him if my lord’s thinly veiled threats do not dissuade him. The descent into the lair led us to a scene of torture and fey touched monsters. The one I swear was riding a giant tick and there was a centipede that was a good 12 feet long. We slew all present and freed a kobold that was next in line for a bad death. Vaszilla, Zeleny and I make an effective team all of us having a healthy share of a “get the job done” attitude. I may have to research more spells that enhance their combat abilities as well as Sir Karl’s. One thing that worries me is the totem the mites had stolen and that the dead kobolds had come to retrieve. A simple statue with no magical import as far as I can see it depicts a demonic horned figure; a dark mirror of Erastil. We need to figure out who or what it represents and what powers we can expect its true servants to possess. I just hope that we can stay my lord’s hand long enough to complete our research, he tends to react swiftly and harshly when presented with any work that depicts the darker side of the supernatural. We carry on towards the southern most reaches of our lands and the inevitable conflict with the bandit chief. I think I may take some credit on our behalf for the mites malice. Yuripol and his true masters want the Kobolds dead; who are we not to milk this foolish man for all we can?

Kaspar's Journal (session 6)

8th Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

The restored temple almost glows with healthy vitality. Zeleny stays to ensure the change is permanent and that a welcome awaits any pilgrims that her god has sent guiding dreams to. The rain is grey and does not suit what should be a joyous occasion. A curse has been lifted and a once good soul has found peace. Ah well, the real weather does not bend to the edicts of a Bard’s tale.

10th Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

Verdamnit!! the Thrice forsaken plague has broken out at the trade post. It is a poor time to be without a master healer. Luckily, Father Kavken is still at the tradepost and while he doesn’t have the skills to cure the Blackscour he has spells at his disposal that will buy us much needed time. We knew that the antidote required some rare ingredients but hoped that Drogov’s uncle would have them. Unfortunately, he had most of the ingredients but not all. I am taking this break from repacking our gear as Sir Karl and Drogov verify the route. Thank Nethys we have another man of letters among us. Once we are packed a race against time begins with a lost monastery on the edge of the old Margreve. St. Nethys intercede on our behalf and Abadar guide us on the perfect path. A dozen good souls depend on our success.

12th Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

Two long days Back to the tradepost and then north to the Margreve. The Forest is ominous and seems to have claimed the abandoned monastery for its own. This St. Torag that the place is dedicated to is only vaguely known to me but hopefully the supplies of dried Ironbloom mushrooms is still there and intact. The ruins looks as if something drove the monks into a guarded seclusion and then hounded them to death. The bolt hole where we found the bodies seemed like a place of last resort. Combine that with the unnatural leeching on my magic and the growth of the forest in and around the monastery and saying something is not ‘normal’ and is definately aggressive about the Margreve is an understatement in the extreme. Even if the keep had been abandoned the full 60 years since the monks helped cure the last outbreak of Blackscour there is no way the trees I saw in and among the ruins had grown there so fast without some sort of supernatural aid.

15th of Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

We found them! the Ironbloom mushrooms were both there and still intact. We also manged to purge the abandoned shrine of the dark shadows that had taken up residence there. Corrupted souls of dead monks or darker souls come to make complete the defilement started by the forest it matters not. Immune to my lord’s blade they fell before the fires that rage inside me. I think Fate calls me here, not to my death but rather, to be the fire that cleanses and purifies that which mortal man cannot stand against.
We quickly made our way to the northern edge of the Narlmarches and the fey touched moon radish patch hoping for a stroke of luck that would buy us the time needed to save the trade post. It was there while looking for a fey touched willow, any willow, that the Miniature dragon and a grasshopper fey revealed themselves to us My lord Karl confirmed that they were in fact the invisible fey he had spoken to previously that the rest of us had been unable to see. They were frantic with need and so let themselves be seen by myself and Drogov as well as Sir Karl. The prince of the forest had been slain and they were frantic with worry at how it had happened and what they should do next. My lord saw this as a way to ingratiate ourselves with the fey and hopefully acquire the Elderwood mold we need so desperately and so quickly volunteered to help.

16th of Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

Pervilash and Tyg Titter Tug guided us through the old Fey way gates buying us precious time in both quests. To think I have walked outside the bounds of the world so early in my studies. Chatty creatures the dragon and the Grig named their common names freely and were not shy in their opinions regarding our lack of understanding of the fey. Before too long we came upon the body of the murdered prince; a unicorn slain with foul necromancy. Sun shining down on the pristine corpse the elements continued to weep as they mourned his loss. With no trail to follow and no obvious signs of violence to give us a clue as to the identity of the assailant we approached a sentient Willow that accepted our offer of help and agreed to assist us in our quest. While we were stymied in our desire to find some clue to the dead Prince’s assailant by the immobile nature of trees we did gain access to the final ingredient we sought and directions as to how we could earn it. We swiftly traveled to the resting place of the great horn and moving with all haste Karl seized the horn and blew it three times. Once complete he replaced the horn and we returned to the Willow in order to gain the Elder mold. Our fey companions seemed relieved that the task was done. Oddly, they seemed unconcerned with the loss of their prince. And even less concerned with who killed him. One thing I do know they mentioned a consort that was dead or missing that should have done the summoning. I wonder who they were and why they weren’t there to blow the horn.
All the sadness in the world was in the resounding blast that completed our task. I now understand the resentment that seems to colour even the light Fey’s dealings with us humans. In there nigh immortal lives they must live with so much pain and loss; I now thank the gods above for my mortality and while I still want as many days as possible I will not succumb to the madness that the quest for immortality leads to. My allotted years will remain just that years, not centuries or millennia.

18th of Desnus (10th year of the regency of Noleski Surtova)

The restorative works and while hidden in the ramblings of the senile Bokken’s advice was golden. Drogov went into the tradepost and administered the cure. First to Father Kavken and then to the others using the extra dose to insure he didn’t catch the plague and spread it among the rest of us. Smoking out the Trade post was a time consuming process but a needful one. One of the other diamonds in the rough during our time with Bokken was his comment about the lost city being reburied 60 years ago after the last outbreak. I worry that some other enterprising trapper will spread the plague with a inopportune visit to Ostel’s shack. I must stop now and write two very important letters. One of them to my old master and one to my father detailing all that has gone on. Additionally, Yuripol will need a heavily edited account of the last couple weeks and her ladyship Countess Allora will need a third version of the events for the Lady Zhenya’s consumption


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