Heirs of the Stolen Lands

Kaspar's Journal (session 25/26)

Undated
It has been a couple weeks since last I updated this journal. And at this point I must write quickly for fear of igniting the parchment I write upon. I am become the unwilling vessel of an Elder Fire Elemental a thing of primal fire. Why was I so arrogant as to think that communicating with the beast would be a good idea? I understand fire and what it represents better than most I should have realized the way it leaps from dry tinder to brown grass would be mirrored in the ways of power and will. Damn me for a fool. Between the explosion that ruined my reading desk and destroyed the spell book of Prof. Penrod and this I do not know why I even struggle against my fate. Perhaps I should free the Elemental lord and be done with this life. I am merely a magnet for trouble and an ill advised fool giving poor advice to a man drowning in the decisions he needs to make. That the Count even listens to, let alone respects, my council anymore merely highlights his desperation. Oh well, my current state allows for much thought and introspection.
We head for New Stetvin in the hopes that we will be able to get whatever now resides within me out with the minimum of carnage. I may even survive the experience. I have nothing to add to our cause and may in fact be a hindrance to it.
Despair seems to be my only companion these nights. Too many dead and too many dead ends. I worry that we are doomed to react to the diverse elements around us until we eventually fall short and perish. Lady Pharasma’s hand was stayed from claiming Lady Vaszilla this time. Who’s next and when?

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Kaspar's Journal (session 27-30)

Undated
These lands are glorious and truly wild. Our time wandering these trackless wastes has been healing for me after the last six months of misstep after misstep. Each day my zest for our cause increases and each challenge met and overcome restores a little more of my old confidence.
Gargoyles, Mad plant things and monsters from beyond summoned to assassinate my lord count. Each met and destroyed in turn with only minor scrapes and scratches. Unfortunaely it has not been all victory parades and hero’s banquets. Anton Chomkov was sent against us. Turned into some sort of undead abomination as a mockery of our old friend. For once I stayed my hand and if Lady Zeleny had not realized what had been wrought on him I might have reached out to aid or restrain him physically. Once alerted to what he had become my fires burned bright and Lady Vaszilla’s blades wrought the ruin they seem to have in endless supply and he was laid low a second time . Returning his arms and armor to his family will be a sad task that is the least we can do for a lost comrade. I hope we will be in time to spare a similar fate for his brother the good baron.
My regret at the final fate of the younger Chomkov is tempered by my excitement at what we have found here. It looks like the ruins of an old Cyclopean outpost. Everything built to their enormous proportions. Old runes inlaid as tiles at their eye level telling arcane secrets that are long forgotten thanks to whatever horrors the Kyuric empire unleashed on them when the two peoples clashed. My suspicion that our Kyuric antecedents were less than merciful gains weight with what I see here and what little I know of the degenerate state of the Cyclopean tribes. Adding this to the cult of Zon-Kuthon and what we found in the ruins of Xak-zaroth I wonder if the capricious Green haired Fey that seems to have deviled this area for so long isn’t the real enemy. Even Neru-gal should have been banished back to the plane of primal fire and not imprisoned for eternity. Perhaps a more cautious return to Nal Vashkin is in order.
Caution is our bye word these days. The count has till not returned from his mission back to Karlsberg so we proceed very cautiously indeed. Luck is with us though and we found a hidden stair concealed by the murky waters that Anton Chomkov was camped by when he met his fate. I am not sure if he was ambushed there or if he had discovered the same path and was sent back to guard the entranceway. With Erastil’s blessing Lady Zeleny lowered the waters and we moved quickly through the damp passageway, leading us to yet another roadblock. More of the undead Cyclops and a death trap that we survived only through my dabbling in translocation. We moved back out of the ruins and reunited with Count Von Allegmund and then stormed through the next part of the ruins. Each step revealing new horrors as the cyclopean ruins transitioned into a temple to one of the horsemen of the Abyss. Charon’s foul taint was everywhere and we all felt his wrath at having his place of worship tampered with. A Piscodaemon was actually summoned by our mere presence in one part of the temple and we were sorely tested by the beast’s mix of magic and might. The true horror of his ilk sank deep into my heart as I realized the futility of sending a minor brother against them. For all the raw power at my disposal all but the simplest of spells I cast washed off the thing like spring rain. Thankfully, we took the day and drove it back to the infernal depths. The next leg of the journey took a morbid cast as we came upon a macabre tableaux. Fifty odd citizens of Varnberg including the good Baron sat posed at a banquet table seemingly posed after death by the undead cyclops that roam these halls. What worries me is that the zombies we have faced so far do not have the wit to do this without outside direction. I wonder at what we really face here? A human necromancer driven mad by the power he/she has tapped into? Or perhaps this Vordecai come back truly to rebuild his lost empire? We are resting right now and I am hoping by jotting all this down I will have better luck seeing through the tangled skein before us. We will need to recognize our next step quickly at each turn. Indecision or the wrong decision may be fatal. Hopefully the others will see clearly what currently is cloaked in mist and shadow for me. At the very least I will be able to get most of us clear if things go horribly awry. Who to leave behind? I hope to not have to make that choice or at least that the choice will be clear.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 31/32)

Kuthona the 16th of the 12th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova

It has been a long time with many gaps and from what I can see little regard for the date as I scribbled my thoughts down. With a short break for more mundane pursuits I think it is time to renew my love hate relationship with this journal of our mad adventures. It needs I must back track a week or so to the Feast of the Dead. The halls beyond the death trap that was the half finished temple led us to a macabre feast, some sort of deranged joke on the part of the being playing at being Vordecai. The good Baron and 40 odd of his advisors and citizens seated at a long table a mock feast interrupted and guarded by three of the zombies that were once Cyclops. With the defeat of the monstrous undead guarding the place we examined our options and moved down the lane ways away from the upward stair. Ill fortune provided us merely with the chance to battle the spectre of an ancient tomb robber. After the undead thing’s swift dispatch and a rest we doubled back tired of the cat and mouse that had gone on these last few months. Upon ascending the stair we found a sulfurous pool and the summoned guardian of those waters. A huge Water elemental arose and began lashing out at us one and all. In the end we triumphed over the disgusting abomination driving the thing back across the planes to its proper place. As our luck held true the monster’s fell master chose that moment to engage us. A bitter fight ensued with my minions from the fire realms providing nothing more than a distraction while my companions engaged Vordecai. Thank the gods that he was not at the height of his storied power. The undead monster was the hollow shell of the Wizard-Priest that once ruled these lands; the necromantic arts it used to preserve its fell semblance of life fading with the centuries it had lain inactive with its forced slumber. Even so he reached out with the terrible power at its command and tried to turn the good Count against us. Luckily the younger Von Allegmunds are as stubborn as their father bending knee to no one not of their choosing. Frantic sorceries and ferocious sword swings followed bedeviling our ancient foe and finally just like all good fairy tales a barbarian’s axe swing killed Vordecai the ancient Cyclopean master of these lands. Xamanthe, I am sure, appreciated the justice considering the foul magics that almost laid her low. I give thanks to Erastil for placing Xamanthe in our way and us in Zeleny’s. I also give thanks to Erastil that once the fallen priest was redeemed that he did not call her elsewhere. Again and again the blessings of Erastil have flowed from our fey companion so often the only thing separating us from ignoble defeat.
While recent conversations with the Arch-bishop of Restov have lessened my dread and suspicions of Abadar’s true nature; the similarities between the Kyuric Xon-Kuthon and the Maker Abadar still give me restless nights; for if Xon-Kuthon were truly hiding in the trappings of Abadar’s faith then why would he deign to allow his misguided servants to succor me from the gates of death. Such thoughts will drive me mad one day I am certain. Until then there is always more research more to learn and understand.
Once this place has been looted I think word needs to be sent north and west to my lord Karl’s Iomedean friends. Well versed in the battle with the nether realms I think some of their priesthood would be beneficial in the cleansing of this place. The Gorumites would not care and the Erastilians and the Abadarians would think it best to bury it and hide it away.
Not this time. The temple to Charon would be a canker in the side of the realm waiting for another weak willed victim to ensnare and set loose upon the unsuspecting. It is like the fire cultists and the shadow priests. The madmen and women that comprise both groups may need to be expunged. Although how to restore the wards that bind Neru-gal or release him from them in order to banish him is currently beyond my power. Perhaps I will find something in the Cyclopean spell book. Assuming I don’t die after dropping it on myself.
Much needs to be done over the next while. The Widow Chomkov must be secured honour demands that our friend’s widow be cared for as much as the daughter of my lord’s brother count must be protected. Lady Zhenya is both young and made of sterner stuff than we Osstians give the Rostlanders credit for and will do well once the horror of it all begins to fade. Hopefully Count Von Allegmund’s presence will ease the worries and horrors she must be battling.
Now that must stick in the old Baron’s gullet like rat poison. Not only is Karl elevated above his brothers he is now elevated above his father. And with little reason to look kindly on the father that demanded he step aside for a toadying elder brother. The injustice of the demand must have resonated deeply with Sir Previn in order for him to make the leap he did and offer his assistance to Count Karl. To be honest, though I hope his intent is pure, as long as he remains loyal I do not care to know if I am wrong or one whit as to the real reason why Sir Previn joined us here in the South. Suffice it that he came when we needed him and he has been tireless in his efforts to help Count Von Allegmund succeed beyond our wildest expectations. Three cities, thriving trade and success after success against our foes with Marshall Previn and his lady-wife Captain General Garess solid rocks of support and assistance. It is to be hoped that the next while will give us a chance to reward them more fully. Perhaps a formal declaration of Previn, and his line, as heir until my lord has issue of his own would be a good thought. While he has been such for a while I think that the Public declaration would be a noble reaffirmation of Karl’s faith and trust in his brother. Certainly the public would be reassured by the idea of a clear and clean line of succession within the County. I will speak to my lord about this since he is clear that he will not consider marriage until such a time as there is a moments peace.
I will have much time to talk to Sir Previn as the Academy we are building nears completion in Leveton. A center for magical learning and study of the arts that will aid us in spreading culture through these lands. Perhaps my old master will be able to suggest a few of the younger members of our order to join me. The brotherhood needs a stable rock from which to spread. Our independent stance has insured that we are not looked on as pawns in the great game but we are also perpetual outsiders only half trusted except in the rarest of circumstances, something that needs to stop.
Now to, perhaps it is time to reconcile with the Eisenvolk; I am so close to the unstated goal of direct control and the tors and Varnburg need hardy folk to resettle them after the recent losses. These lands would create a unified people that would be born of an interesting hybrid of Osstian, Brevoyan, Eissenvolk and the Mishmash that these native River-landers are. Another city or two in the west will also help hold the wild at bay while not encroaching on the great forest as further growth in the east would do. As long as that devil in Draconic form rules the Fey we have a wild card waiting to be turned against us in spite of our best efforts to maintain the peace.
I wonder if King Surtova would allow My lord Count to create some new baronies and the corresponding Barons. Sir Previn’s strong hand in Varnburg and Zeleny’s subtle touch in the East fells would work well. Drogov in Leveton would leave me free to do what I have sworn to do all along; guard my lord’s back. With Vaszilla’s single watchful eye to aid me we could ensure he can focus on the road ahead. And then once peace is the norm and not the exception I can and will worry about my own titles and the furtherance of my own line.

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