Heirs of the Stolen Lands

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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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 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 23/24)

16th of Rova (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

I died… I died around a smoldering campfire at the moss encrusted hands of some magical abomination. I died for no good cause serving no great work. We were simply traveling back to Karlsburg after a pair of minor battles with the Lizard folk and the Treant guarding their lair.
I am now alive thanks to the efforts of my friend and Lord, confined to bed for at least another day or two as I complete the healing process started by the re-tethering of my soul to my body. The irony that the act was done by the Abadarian bishop is not lost on me nor have I been lax even while resting; I have already arranged for the diamond dust needed to complete my restoration. My Lord stands watch as if something or someone may come for me. Perhaps he is right and perhaps it is simply an over active imagination. An imagination that has given me some vivid dreams.
In my dreams I come to myself standing alone in a misty hall littered with the dusty treasures of ages past. Swords, shields armor and weapons of a hundred nations across countless ages. As I speak the words of a light spell the floating fires of the magic I invoke swirl into a glowing orb at the end of my staff (my words are fire). I stride purposefully down the corridor hoping to find something or someone that could explain where I was and how I had gotten there. More junk and debris of the ages litter the path as my mist shrouded journey takes me past items beyond value some casually tossed into corners and other stacked neatly and placed precisely. My heart catches in my throat as I step out onto a balcony looking down out over a grand concourse. I the far distance I can see vague outlines of clockwork perfection. The mists veiling and unveiling different parts as I gaze outwards. In the near distance towering above the figures around it there is a giant greedily swallowing what looks to be wailing figures that it is plucking from spaces between spaces in the air around it. Other small figures work ceaselessly inspecting random items as they are delivered by figures marching in lock step towards the shapes in the distance. Once the items are inspected some are added to various piles that form a geometric pattern around the giant while others take older items in an unending stream away for unknown purposes; as I tried to get closer to better examine these happenings it seemed as if I was walking in circles unable to get closer, lost in a maze with invisible walls.
I know now that the Gentle Repose spell was keeping my soul on a short tether while my Lord Karl raced to Restov. The images in my dreams were just my mind making sense of the chaos of the astral plane. I spend much of my day knowing not whether to laugh or cry. The air smells sweeter the light is brighter and I have a strange sense of well being, the euphoria of being given a second chance I suppose. At the same time I want to weep for I failed my lord and paid the ultimate price something I have half seriously joked about for years.

19th of Rova (in the 12th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Von Beckendorf has been the bearer of glad tidings although I am very suspicious of the “need” for myself and my companions to head out into the apparently abandoned wastes of Varnburg. Still, Baron Von Allegmund is being elevated to the status of Count. His growth in status is once again part of what I see as the master plan. The greater glory of the Von Allegmunds perhaps ending as the eventual Imperial Prince of the South Mark and in the due course of time perhaps a title for myself, nothing big a simple landed knighthood to pass on to my heirs. Sir Eisenberg has a nice ring to it after all.

27th of Rova (in the 12th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

With the Ladies Zeleny and Vaszilla by my side we journeyed into the Tors of Levnie. Two of the War Wolves accompany us I just hope that this is enough. In order to get a better view of things we went through the pass and made the first of many unsettling discoveries. The way station that Baron Chomkov had built was abandoned empty and unmolested as if the guardsmen and workers had simply walked away from it all. The second discovery that shook me was the Orc tribes of Western Iobaria had nothing to do with the disappearances. We noticed three of them on the far side of the pass observing the city of Varnburg. Trying desperately to pin down the Orcs and the reason for their presence I quickly grabbed the ladies and stepped through dimensions. the gate opened directly on the edge of the cliff face. stepping boldly through we spoke with the Orcs and abiding by Von Beckendorf’s direction, stayed our hands and did not immediately start hostilities. The savages were well spoken for their kind and quickly confirmed they were as confused as we by the disappearance of all the townsfolk. Upon our return the War Wolves were upset we didn’t strike them down after our parlay but our word is our bond especially in the ongoing light of the mystery we investigate. The lack of real carnage we see lends credence to the Orc’s words.

28th of Rova (in the 12th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

The next day we ventured into the town proper coming down from the pass. At the ford we encountered further signs of just how wrong things were in this place. A feral boar was loose within one of the farmsteads and many lesser animals had starved to death. It was as if no one had tended to them in weeks. The next sign of trouble found us in Varnburg ford. There was a Chuul hidden in a deeper part of the river that attacked us as we made crossing. The abomination set us back on our heals at first but it was quickly dispatched. At that point our luck turned against us and the War Wolf Ostrick fell victim to a clever trap placed dead center of the roadway and filled with spikes. Pierced in a half dozen places he died instantly. Understrength and with one of our band already slain we chose discretion and moved quickly to Fort Serenko and then on to Leveton.
Once reunited with the Sorcerous Alchemist Drogov we then continued on to rally in Karlsburg with the now Count Von Allegmund. I wonder how fiercely that will still in the old man’s throat. We quickly moved to confirm suspicions of Fey involvement with the Old Willow. The answers he gave made all of us even more nervous than before. Demi-gods were not meant to roam the face of Golarian and I begin to fear that my fires and the Count’s cold steel will not be enough, even with our allies to guard our backs.

4th of Lamashan (In the 12th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

A week’s hard ride had us once again in Varnburg and still no sign of the being or beings responsible for the disappearances. What we did find was a Spriggan caught in the amber clutches of a sepia snake sigil. It seems that the absence of human influence in the region was starting to draw out malicious fey and other beings. The remainder of our search was uneventful until we reached the keep. Baron Chomkov’s residence was now the base of operations for a band of Spriggans. A dozen of them had set up residence and were more than willing to fight for it. Luckily for me the Lady Zeleny was there to quickly restore me after one of them grew to the size of an Ogre and struck me out of the sky as I hovered over the battlefield. I almost died again. Perhaps a message from Pharasma? She seems intent on claiming me and sending me on to my reward. I must have some unfinished business as fate and my companions keep saving me from that next stage of my journey. Even Lord Karl was not free from peril as the damned death traps these foul miscreants love made a fair pass at his life. Luckily, both Dietrich and the Lady Zeleny were on hand to restore him and in the end we slew or drove off all of the Spriggans.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 22)

15th of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Less than a week of peace and most of that trudging through the southern woods praying that we don’t get ambushed. Mek-Mek has once again proven his worth as an ally by discovering the Troll forces even further south as they move through the Narlmarches hunting for Erastil knows what.
Vaszilla has left with a small group of scouts with the hopes of figuring out where the Trolls are staging. Perhaps, our luck will hold and we will be able to strike out at them preemptively and end this once and for all.

21st of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Well, the scouts have returned with reports of Lizard man skirmishers and Troll scouts along the Murque river. Lady Vaszilla as always has put herself forward to find the truth of our enemies’ disposition.
This waiting is killing me. I wish there was any other way for us to move forward but alas there is none. If she has not returned by the 25th of Arodus me march south to the Murque and take the fords by force. If all goes well we will capture one of their troops and extract the details we need. Perhaps, if luck is on our side we will meet up with Lady Vaszilla and add her scouting to our own.
Surtova
25th of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski)

The army marched today. Last night an only slightly worse for wear Vaszilla returned with her scouting report. The Mivoneese army is short several hundred Pikemen. The Trolls lured them into an open battle and ground them into dust. If there were any survivors they have my pity because mercy was not in any of the sights Vaszilla reported to us. I hope the fires I can bring to the fray will grant us a measure of success that they did not have. Perhaps…

28th of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

So far so good. The skirmishers on the Murque were content to mark our passage instead of contesting it. I worry that know they know our disposition. With a better understanding of the terrain we are doomed to fighting a pitched battle at a location of their choosing. I cannot shake this sense of foreboding. This will be a sharper test than any before.

29th of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Our army is a hollow shell of what it was. The Karlsburg regiment and the Leveton regiments were decimated and will take months to recover if they ever do. Only the Kobolds and wily Mek-Mek managed to hold it together. We struck hard but hundreds died because the Trolls used our humanity against us. Women and children as shields… I could not do it. I could not bring myself to murder innocents and so hundreds of good men died. Karl is talking of leaving with the dawn. Just the four of us leaving Mek-Mek and Drogov to guide and guard the retreat. I swear by what little I still hold holy that the Troll king will pay for all the death and destruction. He will burn.

30th of Arodus (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

He’s dead… dead by my hand, dead by the efforts of my comrades, dead and nothing has changed. I almost added to the toll by killing my comrades. My killing fires interacted with some magic he bore and the fires redoubled and exploded outwards blasting through the room searing all of us. If Lady Zelany’s healing grace had not reached out to us all it would have gone poorly.
What burns the fiercest is the fact that Hargulka’s death does nothing; hundreds of good men and women are still gone thanks to his madness. Gone thanks to some plot engineered by a crazed Fey sorceress whose tokens haunt every step of our paths. No matter what lies ahead of us one day there will be a reckoning and the bill is already quite high. Still, the Trolls left behind a number of prisoners, whom we have freed and all of the ones willing to, are coming back to Erholtmark with us. I will need to find a way to ensure they get settled quickly. A second chance at lives that were all too brutal the first time around needs to happen quickly. Some sort of healing must start, some sort of good must balance the evil we have met and defeated this day. It is not enough to kill the monster and wash our hands of the aftermath. Something must be done for the fallen and their families. I will speak more of this to Karl upon our return to Karlsburg.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 21)

27th of Sarenith (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

At last something joyous to put in this damned book. My journal has turned into a strange tale of bloodshed and struggle. Of triumph and victory against the odds as well but it is nice to record a wedding for once. Lady Zhenya and the outgoing Baron Chomkov will make a surprisingly good match. Her restrained grace will hopefully temper his overbearing enthusiasms. Especially combined with his growing friendship with my own lord Baron.
It is good to see the seeds sown by our continued goodwill and association with Count Nikitin see his own fortunes rise. I do not expect miracles but a decent marriage for his son and a comfortable retirement for the old man seem more likely. It is sad that the Empire’s internal struggles for control result in good men like the Count being ostracized and marginalized. With the new border Barons perhaps a period of growth will shake off the shackles the Medyeved hardliners have inflicted on him and those like him.

31st of Sarenith (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

The wedding was a grand affair. Simple by the standards of the high court but grand nonetheless. My recent translations of the Kyuric plates have left me hesitant to throw myself wholeheartedly into the Abadarian ceremonies. The darkness that possibly lay in their origins haunts me. Still, in spite of my personal struggles the wedding itself was a fine affair. Of course my earlier journal entry cursed us. A messenger from Leveton reached shortly after the ceremony was complete and the call to arms was sounded. Trolls and Lizardfolk had moved against Karlsburg and Captain-General Garess had moved to relieve the siege. Karl immediately bid a regretful farewell to his friends and our host and the impulsive Baron Chomkov vowed to raise his own levies to come to our aid. With a quick plan for his troops to secure Leveton in case this was a feint we raced back home.

Arodus the 4th (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

We have arrived at the ford where the Shrike meets the Thorn river. Baron Van Allegmund had raced ahead hoping to link up with Captain General Garess before they reached Karlsburg. It was at this ford that the Trolls had placed a sizable force of Lizardmen with Troll leadership to block the way. It is a shame but they will have to burn.

Arodus the 5th (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

In order to provoke the Trolls in to ill considered action we readied the troops and with Baron Van Allegmund in the forefront ready to lead the counter attack I stepped forward and provoked the Trolls as greatly as I possibly could. Two fiery explosions later the Trolls abandoned the ford. Not really a rout we still managed to harass them and their reptilian allies with minimal losses on our part.
The real test came at the Fortress. The Trolls had almost breached the wall in a couple places and were not as willing to yield the day. Still, their fear of fire and the stalwart nature of our troops drove them off slaying many and allowing us to take stock of the situation at our leisure.

Arodus the 6th (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Again the monstrous creatures that inhabit this place reach out and upset the fragile cart that we call civilization. Word has come that Tatzlford has been smashed by a giant Owlbear. Fearing a counter attack but not wanting to leave this unanswered Baron Von Allegmund decided to investigate the report and deal with the thing himself accompanied only by us his oath bound companions.

Arodus the 7th (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

It is strange, the devastation in and around Tatzlford is immense yet very few people actually died. It is as if the Beast cared more for ruining the works of man than the killing of the men themselves. It has moved on and now the hunt is afoot. Hopefully we track the beast down before its path intersects with any other outpost of civilization. Not that tracking it will be difficult. One would need to be blind not to see the swath of destruction the beast’s path leaves behind it. As it is, between the skills of the Ladies Vaszilla and Zeleny we are guaranteed success.

Arodus 9th (11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

We did it. But only barely. The beast took all we had and nearly killed Baron Karl and the Lady Vaszilla. I need more power, something to augment the magics I already have or possibly something completely new. Again, the Baron threw himself into the fray with little regard for his own safety risking all that he would ask us to risk. While I like and respect Previn the heir this land deserves is one of Baron Karl’s direct issue and not simply a family member. We will have time I hope this winter to look further into this.
Damn these distractions. I should be focusing on matters arcane and not on the petty needs of politics. I hope to see some further stability once the Trolls are routed. I pray to Old Deadeye that it will be as easy to do as it was to write here in my journal.
We should be home soon, with good news awaiting us for a change.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 20)

15th of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Carl is safe now in the hands of Lady Zeleny and the Erastilian Healers. He will recover and do so quickly in the skilled and attentive hands of Father Gregor and Lady Zeleny.
What worries me is my own sanity. The writings found in these Kyuric tablets seem to indicate that Abadar was worshipped under a different name over a thousand years ago and that this Zon-Kuthon was the incarnate version of the greed and dark secrets “The Master of Vaults” can imply. A being worshipped in order to obtain secrets and the power within and not the creator god that demands we strive for excellence that the civilized world knows today. I fear to read more but my damned curiosity requires it. I wonder if this is a heresy that died out with the fall of the Kyuric Empire; a secret revelation that died with Xak Tsaroth when they ran afoul of the Green haired Fey that continues to haunt us; or my greatest fear, in the ultimate act of deceit the dark god in these writings concealed himself in plain sight as Abadar. It would explain why the Abadarian priesthood tolerates those of evil bent among their ranks. I need guidance that I fear none may give. Perhaps, the Fey themselves will provide the answers I seek. How do we gain the trust and support needed to get the answers I seek? And once given can I even trust the veracity of those answers.
16th of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)
We are on the move through the farmlands just south of Leveton. The wee folk have stopped the minor aid and acts of assistance and over the last few days they have started indulging in the petty tricks more closely associated with their darker brethren. Previn moved quickly to get us involved before the confusion becomes full blown resentment among the farmers. I managed to spot some actual Faerie dust at the most recent site of the dark tricks. We go now in hopes of contacting Pervilash and hoping the butterfly winged Drake will enlighten us regarding what happened to the farmers and their crops.

17th of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

The Trolls continue to act with a cunning that beggars the imagination. Tyg Titter Tug was kidnapped by a Troll and Pervilash himself set to bedevil the farmers hoping to stir up even more resentment against the Baron and his Fey allies and friends. We are following a trail that leads right into the swamps we studiously avoided when doing our initial explorations of the Narlmarches. Hopefully, we will track down the beast and free the Grigg.

18th of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Victory is ours! With a fair bit of magically assisted stealth we managed to free TTT and slay the Troll with little cost to ourselves. Between my growing control over the Elemental Fires and Lady Vaszilla’s highly trained hunting cat the Troll didn’t stand a chance. Admittedly, Drogov provided the icing on the cake that insured we were freeing a friend and not avenging one. There is so much of these trackless wastes that clearly used to be inhabited that no longer is and is slowly losing the touch of humanity.
With the Grigg free we plan on scouting the extreme southern reaches of the Barony. Perhaps we’ll find something of import.

22nd of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova

The last few days have provided another couple pieces in the puzzle and another brush with death. Along the southern river flowing into the Tuskwater there was a Mivonese trade fort but much more heavily defended than Leveton was at that size. I have a feeling that the monsters roaming the southern Green belt proved a strong incentive to make this the border for the Riverlands city state. Bloody Aldori sword lords and their convoluted system of merit. How they have not imploded in the last two centuries I do not know. Now we know how close they are. The question is does Mivon actively support the Necromancer or are they turning a blind eye to his “adventuring” because we are part of the hated Brevoyan Empire and as a lone individual he gives the Mivonese leadership deniability? Too many questions and no good way to get answers.
As we continued further east along the river we came upon a cave mouth littered with rubble and an ichor that blighted the surrounding vegetation. As we explored the area trying to determine what could have caused the destruction Drogov and myself received a reminder that much of the things we take for granted as myth and fable is based on reality. The first thing that came to both our minds upon initial investigation we both discounted due to the mythic nature of the Basilisk. Apparently, the rocky beast is not so mythic after all. Away from most things resembling civilization this creature was laired preying on small animals and the odd unwary traveller.
Things went poorly, our shock at the reality of the creature was only matched by our horror as Drogov was turned to stone. I lashed out with fire warning Lady Vaszilla to run but it was too little too late. While her cat raked at the thing’s hindquarters the Basilisk promptly turned its dread gaze on Lady Vaszilla and now both my companions were stone. Just as I was about to despair because my most potent magics were running short One-eye showed the Brevoyan Tiger’s true deadliness and slew the magical beast. Luckily, I was paying attention the day we discussed magical beasts during my apprenticeship. Dousing my companions in the blood of the recently slain monstrosity proved to be a legitimate way of undoing the petrification caused by the Basilisk’s gaze.
I had a surprising moment there alone on the field that day. My choice as to who I restored first knowing that I may not be able to restore both was a surprise although more so due to the ease of the choice than anything else. I realized that Lady Vaszilla stands higher in my regard than I thought. Perhaps, it is because I now know she would fight to the death for the Baron while I suspect Drogov would not die for anyone or anything other than his own personal gain.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 19)

10th of Sarenith (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

A week of tramping through the Narlmarches and we might have gained some credit with the local Fey, whether this goodwill will be enough to prevent another run-in between the dark fey and the local humans we will see. A vile Scythe Tree was eliminated from the deeper parts of the forest freeing a Dryad to work her gentler influence on the surrounding woodlands. The thing was a gigantic engine of death and destruction. My magics did little but enrage the beast and in the end a powerful strike to the bole of the tree-thing by the Baron Van Allegmund and a well placed arrow from the Lady Vaszilla ended the discussion. Each time we defeat one of these monstrosities I feel sadness mixed with relief. As we tame these lands such dark things will not come again becoming evermore confined within the dark places like the Old Margreve and freeing the common folk from fear. Unfortunately, the light Fey are tied to them too tightly and one day all that will be left of the Fey will be the changelings like the Priestess Zeleny. Beings that belong to neither the First world or to this one.

13th of Sarenith (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

We almost lost him. The hag drained him almost dry and only powerful good fortune saved him. After so much time and training I almost stood by and watched as a fowl hag drank Baron Van Allegmund’s life blood after entrancing us all. If Lady Vaszilla and her hunting cat had not joined battle with the hag I would probably be looking south right now free to explore the wide world with no duty binding me to this place. The loss of a great man would have tainted those adventures and the journey would have been ashes on the tongue. More than ever we need to cement the line of succession by marrying the Baron to a lady of suitable stature and producing an heir to hold this place against the foes of the empire.
The citadel we found deep in the Southern Narlmarches was an old Elven keep. A simple curtain wall and four towers encircling a main central tower. A damned twisted fey of the elven-kindreds bedeviled us from the moment we tried entering the main courtyard. After driving him off we then encountered another twisted mockery of the Light Fey. It was easily dispatched by our combined might although I have to admit I would not want to meet one of them without the cold steel of my comrades around me. I have a feeling looking back that the second being attacked in desperation forced into action precipitously by the destruction of the Assassin Vines lining the inside of the tower. Yet another foul corruption of the natural order whose creator should be both damned and congratulated.
Things began to go awry at this point with the strange mists filling the central tower befuddling us all. Clearly a set up for the entrancement the Hag was about to weave. With our wills weakened we all stared slack jawed as the Hag drew forth the good Baron and began her sick feast. In my mind I see it as plain as day. The beautiful dancing woman; the graceful welcome to the raised garden. Then the foul monstrosity whose fangs sank deep into my lords neck; appearing as the enchantment failed.
We are almost home and Sir Karl is finally able to stand unassisted. I am troubled again by thoughts of the mist shrouded Isle and the Fey woman. What would be woken by a journey there and is the risk worth the potential gain? If we barely survived this most recent encounter what hope do we have against a being that could destroy an entire city and then obscure for centuries a second. And so I wait worried that my inaction is merely maintaining the base of a malignant foe, enabling them to plot and strike against us at will.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 18)

19th Desnus (the 11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

So things seem to have ended well. Vaszilla managed to track down the missing knight and it seems that the trend of siblings coming south is not limited to the Erhaltmark. Baron Chamkov has a younger brother that is not as fortunate as he is. His rescue yet another act of friendship between the two Baronies. Baron Chamkov may wind up naming his first born after Sir Karl if this keeps up. From what Vaszilla says he is an earnest young man who was properly grateful, and well aware of his debt, upon his rescue from the Shrike. I think my Lord’s work with Lady Vaszilla is almost complete. When I pointed out the debt incurred was owed to her alone for her rescue of the good knight; Lady Vaszilla corrected me quite fiercely, saying it was earned for all of us. I am content. My Lord’s other companions will see to him well and truly should I fall by the wayside and the Van Allegmund desmaine will grow strong and well.
A real concern at this point. Ritter’s comments the other day worry me. Is my quest for knowledge and disregard for my own safety getting out of hand. I hope not.
Still, the letters have been sent. And I will try to think before leaping into the gap from now on. In a few weeks Konrad will receive my request that he join me here in the south and hopefully he will be here before the spring equinox. With my Twin here to aid me and balance out my impetuousness even if we fail it will be glorious.

23rd of Desnus (the 11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Whoever created the original breeding pool of the Owlbears deserves both accolades and an unquiet grave. They are damned engines of destruction standing toe to with my lord. Swift action and cold steel dealt with the ones we ran into but they are a pest that we will need to actively root out as they are extremely territorial and dangerous in the extreme. Two hunting packs within a relatively small area may indicate a much larger than normal population of them. Bloody thing things are good for some things their feather’s will make a good present for Mek-mek and Chief Sootscales thus ensuring their continued good will.

25th of Desnus (the 11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

Speaking of Kobolds is apparently a good way to invite disaster. We were ambushed by Tark-tuk as we investigated a Numerian Barrow. He had gained as much as he had lost and was left as an intelligent death trap (?). Luckily, I had gained some insight from my recent conversations and studies. I scorched over half of the restless dead Tark-tuk had summoned to his aid. The glory of the fireball was followed quickly by the wild alchemies of Drogov and they worked to efficient and devastating effect. With Drogov’s weird suit-like contraption enabling even swifter action the last of the shambling horde died on his blade before the echoes of the explosions had faded. A few more quick passes and the reanimated Tark-tuk was once again among the truly dead.
Hopefully, we have eliminated a strong point that the Necromancer was planning on using in the future. Any hurt we deal him now weakens him in the final confrontation and is therefore a good thing. We did discover something of note among the grave goods. A rusted blade enchanted to undo the Fey. Perhaps, the Numerian tribesmen fought a losing battle against the Fey when they ruled here hundreds of years ago.

27th of Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

We found an abandoned ferry that was clearly used as the staging area for bandits and worse. Abandoned now it still shows promise as a way station on the road to Varnburg. So much of these lands could be restored and civilization spread with only a little forethought and effort.

28th Desnus (the 11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

The last three days have been a pleasant interlude since the Barrow and that thing Tark-tuk had become. Yesterday, we spotted a turtle the size of a pony clambering into the river. Such a fabulous beast would feed a family for a week. Assuming they could catch it. The whole area screamed fishing pole and a small cask of his lordship’s finest. A fascinating reminder that as settled as these lands were at one point they are now very much wild.

29th of Desnus (the 11th year of the reign of Noleski Surtova)

We finally encountered more signs of the Troll’s presence in these lands yesterday. The three beasts raced forwards with some low cunning trying to drag us out of cover as they did. Badly deformed they healed as they fought just like the beasts’ namesakes do. Luckily, fire has a way of slowing them down just as it does the Trolls proper.

1st of Sareneith (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Yesterday, we ran into another giant inhabitant of the region. Something I think is called a Hodag. The beast tunneled just under the ground and even Drogov’s explosive elixirs merely rattled the beast into action instead of driving it off. I was able to try another of the new spells my research has revealed to me. As there is no such thing as fire I was able to change the nature of the fire I throw and in doing so cast forth a sizzling bolt of electricity burning and scorching the beast as it reared over the prone bodies of Drogov and my lord Karl. The thing shook off the damage inflicted as if it was rain. But it had been hurt and with Ladies Vaszilla and Zeleny striking in concert we poured on the punishment; sword, spell and bow. Finally Drogov worked his way free of the beast and dropped a few more of his bombs this time to greater effect finishing the beast.
The further south we range the more terrible the beasts are and the true impact of civilization’s absence becomes clearer. It almost seems as if the wilds between us and Mivon are a fenced yard filled with horrors intended to discourage Imperial Brevoy from marching South. In any case we destroyed the beast with no clue as to a nest or mate or anything of the like.
On a reassuring note I think Ritter and Gorst’s comments may have found fertile soil. At no time did I endanger myself needlessly and I struck against the thing with impunity aiding my companions to great effect. No doubt in part to my comrades giving it too many options to strike at therefore sparing me its not inconsiderable wrath.

1st of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

I cannot sleep this night; I have seen the lost city in the mists. The island in the southern Tuskwater is the last mist shrouded remains of Nal Vashkin, it just has to be. The magics surrounding it are still potent a thousand years later as the others were unable to even talk about the thing let alone acknowledge the island’s presence. Even the steel trap that is Drogov’s mind was unable to wrap itself around it until we were discussing things later on that evening after we had settled into camp for the night. Obsession or the exploration and neutralization of a very real threat? Damn Ritter and his perceptive eyes. What lies on the island? Hidden threats or tools to aid us in our struggles against internal and external threats; and would my exploration of the place rouse the green lady that destroyed Xak Tsaroth and hid Nal Vahkin in the mists in the first place? Can we afford to do nothing? I fear the consequences of faulty judgement. This requires further study and a great deal of thought. Perhaps the plates I recovered from Xak Tsaroth will reveal more. Konrad will be coming soon perhaps he will pierce the veils that I cannot. Do I dare bring any of the others? My powers grow more potent as the days pass but my ability to flee an untenable situation is sorely limited. I would have to abandon all but one of my comrades should the island prove more of a challenge than we are currently prepared for.

2nd of Sarenith (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

It is good to be back at Karlsburg. This place has quickly become home especially now that Leveton is soured on us thanks to Grigori. it still gnaws at me that the man could twist words so well as to undermine the people’s support to such a degree. I wonder as to who he served and why such a subtle tool.
My work here begins apace. I am going to dig through the few tomes I have access to here regarding the green lady and her struggles against the Kyruic peoples that used to rule here. “Reflections of dappled sunlight off a calm pool”. A polite nothing, a truthful and very fey title or a deceptively calm and soothing title for a vengeful mad woman. Perhaps Zeleny and Drogov will be able to help me sort through the lies and half turths. I may need to visit Father Gregor, he seems well versed in old lore. Having raised Zeleny perhaps he delved deep into the lore of her people. There must be a way to verify at least the nature of the risk and thus prepare for it. I still can’t shake this damned if we do and damned if we don’t feeling. Perhaps tomorrow will bring answers.

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Kaspar's Journal (session 17)

8th Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Damn his eyes! The mummers farce continues apace. Not only does he stay safely out of reach Grigori also manages to cast doubt on the Baron’s character yet again. A hut covered in blood and no body with no perpetrator in sight says magic and a ruse that is meant to play to the peasants already riled imaginations.
It is especially suspicious that all this occurs after the Baron’s very public exile of the damned man and the order to arrest him if he speaks in public. Now all and sundry think he had the bastard killed and then hid the body. I suppose with Grigori’s work so well done in advance of all this it is easy to see how the obvious nature of the planted knife could be believed as truth.
At least the fools held their tongues while Zhenya and Sir Otto were interred in the Leveton cemetery. I must commend Father Kavken on the Zone of truth. The use of the trial and the confirmation of the reality of the situation seems to have settled our more common sense subjects. Now if we could just get the rest to see sense.

10th of Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

My Lord Baron Van Allegmund has determined that a little distance from Leveton will do us all some good. Perhaps, he is right. The new beginnings here in Karlsburg are refreshing and the sight of workmen scurrying around the half ruined keep the Stag Lord was using as his base lightens my heart. The capital will rise up and the people of the Barony will have two cities to rally around. The key here is getting it built before Grigori’s minions bring the whole thing down around our ears.

12th of Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

The lands south of Tatzlford needed to be explored. And what a better time to do so than right now? We have found yet another lost temple formerly dedicated to Erastil. It seems the cult of “Old Deadeye” was strong in these lands once upon a time. How many times has civilization risen up only to be cast down again? Are the Fey responsible for catastrophic rejection of the development of civilization here?
Still we explored and defeated another Kobold Sorcerer and freed a small band of the black skinned kobolds captured by the Leafscale tribe with their fighting force reduced to almost nothing I left very plain messages on the wall threatening to starve them out if they do not move south and out of our lands. The temple will make quite the retreat once it is sorted out and restored to its former glory. Father Gregor and his fellow priests will be happy to assist I am sure and their presence will lend itself to reminding the local peasantry of the greater good which right now we need as the inevitable conflict between the Fey and the woodsmen needs to be minimized and averted if possible.

14th Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Well I spoke to soon. The confrontation has already begun. I have finally met the nymph Syntira. She is quite enchanting as are all her kind but the water leaves me cold. Her way of defending the grove by the pool she was inhabiting was quite an education. The enchantment of the Fey woman was not just in her beauty but in the magic about her. I am sure those two woodsmen would have stood guard until they wasted away if we hadn’t intervened. Nethys’ bloody hands the woodsmen were put out but at least we came up with a compromise that seems to work for both sides. How long we can walk that thin line will be the trick indeed.
16th of Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)
I am not sure but someone or something that looked like Bokken attacked us today. A skilled alchemist he seemed quite sane at first but he very quickly turned on us and almost killed my horse of all things. Luckily, Sir Karl struck the man a solid blow to the chest and he died after a short sharp struggle. At first I thought it was Bokken gone mad that we had faced. After all he is only a small step from the edge as it is. Once we examined his hut ingeniously built in the bole of a mighty Oak we realized that this was a being either warped by or mocking the skills and abilities the old man possessed.

18th of Desnus (the 11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)

Sometimes I wished the old tales warned us of the down side to battling creatures with little regard for their own folk. Having decimmated the shattered skull Gnolls the the survivors were given leave to depart the field of battle as long as they took the journey to the southern tip of the Tusk water. Victory does not smell so sweet when you see the old and the infirm left behind by their kin; left with the options of follow or starve slowly. Just like the Leafscale Kobolds left behind at the temple. The Gnolls were so pathetic that Lord Karl gave the order that they leave his lands and then road off not looking back to see if they followed his commands at all.
One positive part of the last couple days of our journey was the arrival of V.V. Nikitin who came to advise Baron Karl that she had been affianced to the Baron Chamkov. The old man’s relief was palpable. He then went on to invite Baron Van Allegmund to the wedding. On the plus side of things I will no longer have to write those letters to the countess on behalf of the Baron.
One thing that chills me to the bone. I have just had a thought and will take a closer look at things upon my return to Leveton. The “Forgotten” looks almost like a “Tiefling” the mortal get of some foul Hellspawn and a mortal maiden. Nethys preserve us all if that is the case. I will keep my suspicions to myself for now but upon the return of Lord Karl to Leveton I will have words with him. I wonder at the wisdom of placing Karl’s seal on any letter we send away with them. Even though a letter to Sir Otto’s father is appropriate I fear what they may do with some enchantment and the actual waxen imprint. Perhaps, they would use it to implicate My lordship in yet another case of skullduggery. My head hurts with all the possibilities, I was not made for such thoughts let alone the plots within plots they spring from.

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