Kingmaker

Some Say The World Will End in Briar
Some say with dice

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Desnus 23rd

We found many things in Irovetti's palace prison: guards, dead guards, relics, smashed relics, some very interesting technical weaponry, prisoners… a live remorhaz. Gelros had to convince it we would take it home if it would stop eating people. Yeesh. What we found in the cave, however, is what mattered.

Beyond Irovetti's hideaway lay a deep, clear pool within the cavern. Through this pool, an underwater passageway led to a beautiful and gigantic natural geode, filled with crystals and columns. In the still pool at the chamber's center we found a sword, wrapped cleanly in a white cloth and, somehow, floating. Below it, we found a waterlogged leather parcel. The sword is deeply magical (more on that in a moment).

The leather parcel contained a mostly undamaged children's storybook: Zuddiger's Picnic. It claims to be true, and follows the story of a fellow who chases a crow who stole his spoon… ultimately he trades his sword to a beautiful woman to to get his spoon back. The scenery is fantastical and the story improbable, but still oddly compelling. Curiously, there is a stylized map in the back showing a whimsical land labeled "Thousandbreaths."

Kris had his people ask around about the book. Turns out the book has a creepy past: the author worked on it for years, then went insane after publishing it. He was caught re-staging the more brutal scenes from his book on hapless children, tried hastily, and executed. The book has, understandably, fallen out of favor, and copies are now harder to come by. (Apparently they've either been destroyed or few will admit to owning them.) But none of this answers the question: why is it here, with this relic of a sword?

For the sword is indeed a relic; Narzeth and Gelros recognized that instantly. Even my untrained eye can see that it has power on par with Ovinrbaane, that sword Shella has. After a brief speech to the populace of Pitax, and the imposition of martial law, Gelros brought us all back to Bandit's Rest to consult Avendra, the water spirit who we rescued from the winery. In exchange for information, Gelros returned her shawl… which was the cloth that had been wrapped around the sword. It was a good bargain. I'm going to butcher this story, but here goes:

The sword's name is Briar, and is extremely dangerous. (Editorial snark: dangerous? Never! Nothing we find is ever mind altering, kingdom dooming, world eating or anything like that.) Avendra is high fey, from the "First World", a primal realm ruled by so-called "First Lords" that predates and gave birth to our world, at least according to this story. Avendra's task in this reality was to guard Briar, which she did before getting trapped in a water clock.

Briar is, apparently, the love of the powerful nyad Narissa, distilled and forged into a sword. Wait, it get's weirder. Narissa was not a First Lord. She was, however, beautiful and knowledgeable, but also proud and foolish. She fell in love with a First Lord and aspired to acquire the power to become one herself. Details are a little murky here, but it sounds like the other First Lords weren't keen on having her usurp some of their authority, and, in effect, said "Piss off" by way of permanently stealing from Narissa her ability to love, forging it into a sword (Briar), and tossing Briar into our corner of the material plane to keep it away from Narissa. As a side effect of all this, they also imbued Narissa with much greater power than she had previously, making her almost on par with the First Lords themselves after all. Thanks guys.

Narissa has been biding her time and, devoid of the ability to love, building her power on greed and cunning. So now, Narissa is following a new strategy to get into the First Lords' good graces: present them with a gift. What gift? Only the landmass of the entire River Kingdoms, to be broken off from our plane of existence and sucked back into the First World. From Narissa's perspective, there's a small hitch: according to Avendra, there is a rumor, or perhaps a prophecy, that a band of adventurers will defeat her with her own sword, Briar. So naturally Narissa wants it back. She's going to come after it, directly or indirectly.

Goody gumdrops.

It would probably be wise to throw Briar in an ocean far from here, but there is the complication of Arboria being on the menu, as it were, for a cross-planar feast. So we're going to keep it and use it against her, in a bid to save the kingdom. Kris is now Briar's caretaker, and it seems to like him: it has changed to become an Aldori dueling sword of the sort Kris is so fond of. Avendra tells us that as we use Briar to fight creatures of the First World it will gain power. Ok, great, but now what?

Gelros is dedicating his time and a substantial portion of Candlekeep's research prowess to finding out everything that there is to know about high fey, the First World, travel to and from it, etc. So far, what's been written boils down to this:

  • The First World exists behind, rather than within, reality. It is therefore extremely difficult to reach.
  • Reality and the laws of physics there are mutable; they are often changed at the whims of the First Lords who rule the First World. In the First World, others with powerful wills or the possessors of relics can also bend nature itself to their whims.
  • Very few forms of mortal magic that can get you there; the only reliable mortal means is Gate spell. An alternative is to find a natural rift. Such rifts are extremely rare, but are identifiable by the energy leaking in both directions.

Oh, someone is knocking rather hard and I hear urgent voices. I'll get back to this later.

XP

  • ?? from Pitax-related quests

Loot

  • +5 moderate fortification mithral breastplate
  • Amulet of natural armor +5
  • Boots of speed
  • Cloak of resistance +5
  • Ring of protection +5
  • Master key (unlocks all locks in the palace)
  • Unique item: mindrender baton
  • Unique weapon: rod of razors
  • 14,750 GP from Irovetti's bedroom paraphernalia
  • 24 bottles standard wine (150 GP ea.)
  • 7 bottles of expensive White Rose Abbey wine (1,000 GP ea.)
  • +4 studded leather
  • Amulet of natural armor +2
  • Ring of protection +1
  • +5 moderate fort. hide armor
  • +1 vicious greataxe
  • Ring of protection +2
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Bric-a-brac and Backstabbery
An ill-advised assault

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Desnus 14th

Pitax

I will spare you some of the details. Partly because they are unimportant, and partly because I'm in a foul mood. We selected the southeast corner of Irovetti's "castle" (which is more like a sprawling, gaudy mansion festooned with improvised defensive points) for entry. Gelros used an illusion; Narzeth made a hole. I went in first.

The first thing I noticed was the clutter. The dude is a hoarder. The second thing I noticed was the unmistakable feeling of my spine being ripped out of my body. (Trust me: if this even happens to you, you will know exactly what is happening.) What happened next is hard to describe. Things went black, then a pale, pervasive shade of silver. The pain faded to a dull but severe ache, like a splitting headache but over my whole being. I was floating; spinning quietly. In the distance, I could see silvery motes coalescing into… a river. I could also see from the edges of my vision several huge creatures moving toward me. One had golden wings; another black leathery hide. Their gaze told me they had a keen interest in me, for some reason.

And then everything snapped back into focus: the hallway, the knick-knacks, my blood soaking the carpet, Jaric's face peering into mine. The searing but then vanishing pain in my spine. I found out later that, according to Jaric, I had died. This seems unlikely, as I was still hallucinating at the time, but sure. My murderer was an invisible were-tiger, who resisted Narzeth's attempt to disintegrate her and ran off into the depths of the structure.

We spent the next few minutes trying to make sense of the interior geometry of Irovetti's palace. Kris in front; Jaric's minion as rear guard. Doors. So many doors. After opening nearly a dozen of these, we found his throne room through some secret passages to right of where we entered. The throne room was as gaudy as the rest of the place, but also full of guards and Pitaxan heroes. We decided to make a go of it and then get out.

The opening moments went quite well: I took out two archers, Jaric placed a flamestrike on the ogres; Evariel blasted the king with one of her rays; Raven and Narzeth played their sick mind games with half the occupants of the chamber. Etc. Then Jaric's archon moved forward, out of position and into battle, and exposed Gelros's flank. To the were-tiger, who reappeared, and dropped Gelros where he stood.

Now we were fighting on two fronts, and without the aid of Gelros's battle song. The tide swiftly turned. Fortunately, Jaric was able to get Gelros up again, but Kris was stuck fighting the were-tiger. Evariel was thrown into a pit of acid, rescued by one of Jaric's archons, and then hit with chain lightning. She had to be carried out. At this point, Irovetti, who might be two years older than Kris, looked at Kris and said something to the effect of "Stop! My son! Come to me!" Which, to my astonishment, Kris did. I've seen Gelros in action; this smacks of magical domination.

But things were so far gone now that we really had no choice but to retreat, without Kris. We made it out, barely. I lit a fire behind to cover our exit. Judging by the smoke, it took them a couple hours to get it out again. What a mess.

I already spoke with Shella: tomorrow the 1st Arborian is going to level the place.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Desnus 17th

The 1st Arborian did admirably. Despite moderate losses, they cleared the entire first floor of the palace. They did not find Irovetti or most of his companions, but they did find several passageways below ground, which they are watching. Shella and her senior commanders engaged and personally dispatched the ogre general—the fellow with the banner we had previously faced at Ostnend. There are reports of a fleeing tiger-lady who murdered anyone foolish enough to stand in her way. She must have avoided me carefully; I was watching for her.

Before we move on, let me fill you in on some things Kris learned, while magically under the influence of Irovetti. First, shortly after our assault, Irovetti and his cadre retreated below ground. Second, Kris was not the only one dominated: there was also a naga. (This became significant later.) Kris was instructed to guard Irovetti, and proceeded to try to explore the basement level so as to protect all entrances. He was ordered to stop, and shut up, which he did. Under duress. I imagine that was torture. As the 1st Arborian ransacked the ground level, they all holed up in a contingency chamber below the throne room, and waited.

When we went in next, we were ready. It took us only minutes to locate the king's chambers. There were a few moments of congestion in a narrow passage, until Narzeth opened a sizable hole in the far wall. Jaric's archon (leading in Kris's stead), absorbed several blows from their barbarian before vanishing back to wherever it came from. Behind him, flying (thanks Raven!), I managed to get three arrows into Irovetti before he disappeared in a thunderous crack of teleportation magic. I then felt myself held magically from moving forward, and had the pleasure of taking a blow from the barbarian myself.

Amid the usual lightning bolts, arrows, and rays, something else interesting happened: Kris appeared. Gelros returned Irovetti's favor: "Kris, aid me. Attack that naga." Gelros momentarily looked strained, but then Kris obliged. Battle of wills: Gelros vs. Irovetti, with Kris in the middle.

Things started to fall apart for Irovetti around then. We finished off his pet barbarian, and the naga started running despite his pleas for protection. Kris, now freed of his domination, was angry. Very, very angry. He and I chased Irovetti further into the cavern. Irovetti tried to use his bullshit magic on Kris again, but Kris was having none if it and gave him a sword thrust to the side of the face.

And then, the naga came back, rising out of the water. I was spinning to target her, when she said simply, "I'm free. I would like to watch him burn, if you don't mind." She then dropped Irovetti into a pit of acid. Gelros, coolly, and in a way most un-Gelros-like, leaned over the pit and cast a spell with malice at Irovetti, who doubled over in place and began retching. Gelros then ordered us to loot him. Narzeth needed no further prompting. I was momentarily surprised, but then followed Narzeth (remember, both of us were flying). Despite his weak protests, we started removing his gear as instructed. His breastplate proved difficult… until Raven turned him into a mouse. He dissolved almost instantly. We took his items and fled the pit.

At this point, the naga said "I'm leaving," and left. It was a statement, not a question. We let her go.

There is more to tell, about the cavern, the underwater passage, and the relics we found, but that will wait for another day. I am tired, and we need to regroup. Since the palace, Gelros has been ill-at-ease and morose. He wants to return to Bandit's Rest as soon as possible, stating he has business to attend to.

Loot

From the ruined palace and its armory…

  • 300 GP hide drum, with a nude nymph painting inside
  • Damaged carpet worth 1200 GP (if we mend it)
  • Tapestry of dragon fornication (1500 GP)
  • Tapestry of silver tree (1500 GP)
  • Small locked chest, labeled "payroll"
  • +1 full plate
  • +1 chain shirt
  • (6) masterwork rapiers
  • (2) +1 shortbows (Str 14)
  • (2) +1 greatswords
  • 500 arrows
  • 50 cold iron arrows
  • 50 silver arrows
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Invasive Species
The looting of Pitax

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Desnus 12th

Pitax

Pitax has fallen. I had expected a protracted siege or an infiltration. Or even a well-engineered coup; Gelros is certainly capable of such things. What I did not expect was for Narzeth to simply ask the city to surrender and for the populace to comply.

When we arrived at Pitax, the gates were shut and the walls held against us. Gelros send Shella in a brief parlay with the guard, but they refused surrender. Shella returned with this news and was ready to marshall the Arborian First when Narzeth stopped her. "Let me handle it." Shella looked askance, and was about to protest, when Narzeth appeared to grow half again as tall. There came a sound of trumpets and a clashing metal sound, and his eye glowed red. A dull, throbbing red, like stale blood. A crown of thorns appeared behind his head, sprouting as if from the rear of his skull and writhing, almost imperceptibly.

Power. Narzeth exuded it. It is the artifact, the Eye; I have no other explanation for what he was able to achieve. "Shella. Let me handle it." Shella stood aside. We all did.

Narzeth walked directly to the gates and demanded surrender. No one called for him to halt, or shot at him. The gates swung open, and he walked in. Soon, every soldier in the city was marching by, disarming themselves and throwing the weapons and armor on an ever-growing pile in the central square. (By this time, the Arborian First had taken possession of the gates and the wall, and the rest of us were with Narzeth in the city center, along with an honor guard of centaurs.)

Then came the plunder: Narzeth demanded that the city bring to him all their coin and items of value. This did not seem odd to me at the time (to the victor belong the spoils?), but after it seemed exceedingly harsh. The populace didn't seem to notice: they gladly brought their items of value and placed them at Narzeth's feet. Gold, silver, rings, watches, potions, scrolls, tapestries, books, dinnerware… I believe he would have plundered the city entirely had Gelros not intervened. I saw him looking anguished as a poor, apparently homeless musician willingly, even happily, surrendered his tent and his harp. (The memory is through a haze, as if I were under the spell too. And maybe I was. I certainly had no thoughts to oppose Narzeth at the time.) But it was when a five year old girl set down her doll that Gelros stepped in: "Narzeth! Magic items and gold only. Let them keep their household possessions." Narzeth, who had been looking mildy surprised at what was happening but hadn't moved to stop it, then amended his demand as Gelros requested. "You may keep your everyday goods. Your gold and magic items only, please." A few hours later it was done. An hour after that, Narzeth was back to his normal self, directing the transport of his plunder out of the city and onto the airship.

This was yesterday. Today, the attitude is far more hostile. We have the city, yes, but the people have woken up to the fact that they've been fleeced. I asked around, and nobody can remember exactly why they surrendered the city. I don't even trust my memory; it seems too outlandish. Gelros has had to address the citizens of Pitax to assure them that his lieutenants' plundering was an "unfortunate necessity" of the war effort, but that in time Arboria would commit resources to fully restore Pitax to its former glory under his leadership.

What they don't know is that Narzeth did not take that money for the war effort. As far Kris and I can tell through inquiries, he sent most of it directly back to his tower for his own ends. (Some of the magic items are on the airship still, presumably for analysis and use later.) I asked Gelros about this. He seemed displeased about the plunder, but also observed that Narzeth had taken the city without bloodshed and for that he is grateful. Narzeth is therefore to be permitted to keep what he got. This seems strategically unwise to me, given the ill will it has generated, but I will follow orders. I have said nothing to Narzeth. Why sour the relationship with such a powerful and useful friend and ally? Perhaps I will talk to him after the war is over and advise him on more effective tactics for winning hearts and minds. But with that Eye… I'm watching him now.

Anyhow, there is grumbling, but no outright rioting (for the moment): it seems that King Irovetti was not well loved by his own people. Speaking of Irovetti, he remains holed up in his "castle" – a single-story overgrown bungalow in the north part of the city. We have surrounded it, but it remains well defended with ballista and archers. (Although fewer archers now; each time one of them takes a pot shot I return the favor.)

I am prepared to starve them out. Shella would like to build siege weapons and level the place. Jaric is inclined to go with my plan, but offer the commoners within escape and redemption. However, all these take time and time we don't have: the barbarians will demand payment before the month is out. Gelros wants this over more quickly. So, we are preparing a surgical strike to remove Irovetti and his commanders. Tomorrow.

XP

None for taking the city.

Loot

  • Amulet of mighty fists +1
  • Bag of holding type II
  • Candle of truth
  • Dust of illusion
  • Folding boat
  • Harp of charming
  • Headband of alluring charisma +2
  • Horseshoes of speed
  • Marvelous pigments
  • Stone salve
  • Bracelet of friends
  • Cape of the mountebank
  • Cloak of resistance +4
  • Decanter of endless water
  • Headband of alluring charisma +4
  • Rope of entanglement
  • Stone golem manual
  • Bracers of armor +6
  • Lantern of revealing
  • Major cloak of displacement
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Drums of War 33⅓: No Tusk Too Large!
Why is everything we fight anymore five times bigger than us?

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Desnus 3rd

Following the mop-up of the Pitaxan Regiment, Shella turned the tide of the conflict decisively in Arboria's favor. The Arborian First is clamoring for a full scale invasion of Pitax, in Gorum's name. Shella is champing at the bit as well. Gelros has authorized it, but only after a bit more prep work. And so, once again, we returned to air-ship raids over Northern Pitax.

While scouting for Pitax mines and ore supply routes, we spotted a large cave halfway up a cliff face. Large caves usually mean interesting things. Often those things want to eat you, but, still, interesting. So I decided to take a look. I flew over on Haiku, dismounted quietly, and… Haiku caught her saddle strap on a tree. With a loud squawk, she careened sideways into me, and I, tumbling in turn, knocked a sizable boulder down the mountain. Great.

Turns out it was a wyvern in that there cave. Said wyvern was only too happy to charge out and maul me with its tail. Now this seemed like a great chance to leave, which is what I did. (Leave off a cliff face you say? How you say? Snapleaf! Ingenious little device.) I had dismissed the invisibility bit so that Haiku could see and pick me up. Thus, the sight of my falling, bleeding body must have also made it apparent to the others that something was up. By the time I had made it back to sight range with Haiku, Kris had already flown Spike over somehow (seriously, flying stegosaurs…) and Narzeth had cast some bullshit magic that looks vaguely like a shadowy web right onto the wyvern.

As Narzeth enthusiastically and somewhat sadistically explained to me later, apparently his spell makes the wyvern believe it is encased in a web. Whatever. It did work, though: the poor creature sat still looking crazed and nauseated and made no objection to me filling it full of arrows, Kris removing one or all of its vital organs, and finally Narzeth finishing it with one of his various death rays.

In the end, it was just as well: this wyvern was the one with a heavy bounty and had been harassing both our folks and Pitax's for a while. Claiming the bounty paid for a good bit of wargear.

Plains, Eastern Pitax

Wyvern dispatched and plains scouted, we accompanied the First Arborian to find and eliminate a band of mammoth-riding giants known as the Tusker Raiders. Now, normally, it wouldn't be particularly wise to bring regular infantry into close quarters combat with a substantial number of well-armed giants. However, in this case, the objective was to draw them out so that our inner cadre could execute a decapitating strike. Disbanding the Tusker Raiders was part of Gelros's plan to win loyalty from the barbarian horde that Pitax had hired. We already were on neutral and mutually respectful terms with said horde because of Shella's success at the Tomb of Armag (remember that?), so their ties to the Pitaxan royalty weren't all that strong.

The opening moves of the combat involved a lot of maneuvering, with few losses. (Just as well for us.) We spotted their commander: a hulking but oddly good-looking fellow (for a giant) with a chariot pulled by two enormous mammoths. (Yes, I know "enormous mammoth" is redundant, but bear with me here: take a mammoth, and make it BIGGER. There, you got it.) Once he saw what was up, it took a few minutes to chase him down. I had to shoot one of the mammoths just to slow him down (damn shame, that), and then Jaric brought the chariot to a halt with a well-placed pillar of fire.

Now dismounted, the commander absorbed a horrid-looking black ray from Narzeth, which looked like it hurt. So, he decided to meld himself into the earth. (Naturally! Isn't that your first instinct when you absorb a death ray?) It took a minute to decipher what had happened, during which a cordon of the First Arborian sealed us off from the surrounding battle. Jaric and Kris put their heads together. The best we got from them was that these giants had some kind of supernatural abilities that had to do with dirt. As if that weren't self evident from the situation.

Fortunately, we didn't have to dig him out: only a few moments later he sort of erupted from the ground, causing an earthquake. Kris and Jaric fell over. Evariel did not. Haiku and I dodged some of the newly appeared fissures and tried to put a dent in the fellow, but weren't very successful. Evariel moved forward with the spell she had been holidng, and… just then Narzeth turned him into a pile of dust. Evariel, looking bitter, charged off and released her spell into a nearby giant grunt, killing the poor guy instantly.

The sight of their commander reduced to their favorite spell medium (dirt) wasn't great for giant morale. The battle was over soon after; those who didn't manage to flee promptly surrendered. We received word a few days later that the barbarian horde, in a gesture of appreciation, would accompany us in battle for two months' time at no cost, after which they will either demand payment or go home. But a month may be plenty of time to end this.

Onward to the city of Pitax itself.

XP

  • Killing the wyvern (102,400 XP)
  • Quest: Delivering the wyvern's head (76,800 XP)
  • Killing the hill giant commander (12,800 XP)
  • Defeating the Tusker Riders (3,200 XP)
  • Complete quest: Wanted, Kob Moleg (76,800)
  • Complete quest: Defeat Hill Giants (76,800)

Loot

  • 4,350 sp
  • 5,100 gp
  • 240 pp
  • 18 gems worth 100 gp each 
  • +2 icy burst crossbow bolts
  • Winged Shield
  • Rod of Wonder
  • Rich purple corundum jewel worth 1,705 gp
  • +2 loyalty
  • +2 stability
  • Gain Pitax Horde (barbarian horde) as a free army for 2 months
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Annals of Arboria: Second Battle for Ostnend
The turning point

I, Grumsfilt, scribe of the First Arborian Legion, record hereby events witnessed by my own eyes:

Arborian Units: Ostnend Home Guard, First Arborian Legion

Opposing Forces: Pitax Regiment, supported by wyverns and trolls

Location: Ostnend

After a month of regroup and preparation, the Pitax Regiment renewed its assault upon the battlements of Ostnend, supported now by both wyverns in the air and troll marauders on the ground. The full might of the First Arborian had arrived and was now entrenched. Our blockades and battle lines surrounding the city slowed the oncoming forces. Fighting at the line was heavy and glorious. Thanks be to Gorum, for we felled three of theirs for ever man and woman of ours who gave their lives in the opening engagement that day!

While we fought the Pitax Regiment, the Ostnend Home Guard held the trolls so that the Lords of Arboria could personally defeated the troll captain. Broken and disoriented, the troll mauraders fled northward into the forest. Lord General Shella Doramvras, our Iron Lady, engineered a brilliant false withdrawal, goading the Pitax Regiment forward into the maws of a pincer. The fools rushed into the trap, and we showed them the brilliance of Gorum's battle strategy and might! The Pitax Regiment broke ranks and fled. The wyverns attempted to withdraw as well, but we shot them all down and destroyed them utterly.

As the home guard secured the city walls, the Arborian First made chase of the Pitax regulars. We met them in the field after 6 hours mounted march and defeated them within 30 minutes, giving the mercy stroke to those foolish enough to not surrender. Singing and chanting in camp tonight. Glory be to Arboria! Glory be to Gorum!

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Drums of War 2½: Haunted Winery
In which it is Raven's turn to bite the dust

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Month 4

White Rose Abbey

Following the defense of Ostnend, we set about scouting the eastern flanks of Pitax in earnest. I discovered this activity is marginally easier from an airship, mostly because you don't have to stop and feed an airship a couple times a day. Nevertheless, Haiku and I did a good bit of scouting on our own. Meanwhile, Gelros and Kris were chasing down a rumor of a secret Pitaxan weapon—a death fog—being developed deep in the ruins of a place called White Rose Abbey, formerly a rich vineyard and winery.

We arrived and scouted the ruins of the white rose a few days after the Pitaxan forces had been repelled from Ostnend. The grounds were largely abandoned and in disrepair, but the foliage was lush and verdant beyond the perimeter wall. Rumor has it that the monks who lived here were master brewers and vintners, blessed by their god for their vow of silence. That is, until some dark-magic-practicing lunatic who had been hidden away there by the church to work as a gardner went berserk and murdered everyone. So much for blessings. Still, there's something to the tales, judging by the greenery.

Despite the hot, sticky atmosphere and the general state of disrepair, Kris and I found some signs of life. Although the guest house was dilapidated and the winery appeared empty, there were footprints in the abbey on the hilltop and a lookout periodically glanced out the top of one of the towers.

Leaving the abbey, we decided to explore the winery first, by evening. One of the buildings was protected by magical auras, and Kris could hear chanting within. So, naturally, we did what we do best: kicked in a door and started shooting. The first bit of spell-slinging went our way: Raven softened them up with a mind fog; Everiel drops one with a "slay living" spell. (Interesting magic, that. First time I had seen it in action.) However, at this point an invisible group ambushed us from behind and cut down Raven where she stood. This didn't go over well with Narzeth. He disintegrated one of the assassins for their impertinence; I shot three more; and then Narzeth picked off the stragglers. We had the place cleared out pretty quickly.

But we also had a dead party member. Narzeth instantly picked her up and disappeared with a recognizable teleport gesture. We waited. As we found out, he took Raven's body back to Jaric (who was waiting on the airship at the time), had her resurrected on the spot, and then returned to us to continue the investigation of the abbey. The surface of the vineyard was cleared; only the wine cellars were left.

I scouted ahead. Down the main tunnel below the vineyard, past the casks of wine, was a strange chamber. It was filled with mold, faux starlight, and… moaning. I could see nothing, but as I turned to leave I heard behind me a howl of agony. Leaving continued to seem like a good plan, at this point, so I kept at it. The ghost followed me outside.

The sight of the ghost is the last thing I remember. Apparently, I had a nasty blow to the head somewhere during the fight. My memory of the remainder of that adventure and several days afterward is blank, so all I know of it is what Gelros and the others told me later. We fought the ghost and put it down three times. There was a wererat sniper-assassin involved… he works for us now. Somehow. There was a water spirit trapped in a… water clock?, who we set free; she promptly asked about the location of some world-ending (world-eating?) sword. It's all very mysterious, but to be honest I've not had time to digest it and it's all jumbled in my head now anyway. I had little time to try to sort it, because (surprise surprise), Pitax's armies were pounding on our front door again when we left.

Loot

8 suits of +1 fullplate
8 +1 greatswords
4 +1 shortbows
4 MW rapiers
4 +1 chain shirts
12 potions cure light wounds
16 potions of cure moderate wounds
5 potions of invisibility

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Annals of Arboria: First Battle for Ostnend
The opening moves in the Pitax Campaign

I, Grumsfilt, scribe of the First Arborian Legion, do hereby record for posterity the following military engagement:

Arborian Units: Ostnend Home Guard

Opposing Forces: Pitax Regiment, supported by wyverns

Location: Ostnend and the open lands immediately to its west

The scheming Pitaxan forces wore no insignia and beset Ostnend at dawn, with the Arborian First still two days march away. Following brief but ineffectual exchanges of arrows, the Pitaxan forces began a ground assault, accompanied by the wyverns in the air. The brave Ostnenders held fast and dealt grave damage to the flying beasts. After the ground forces also failed to gain purchase, it is said that the brave inner cadre of Gelros himself found and drove off the Pitaxan general, after which the invaders withdrew. Ostnend victorious in the face of overwhelming foes! Glory be to Gorum!

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Drums of War
A belated attempt to record history

In the haste of war, I have long neglected this journal. Let me now go back and record some of the key events. But I must be brief…

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Month 3

Rushlight Tournament

After I had lost the archery competition so miserably and Gelros won the boasting contest hands-down with his mostly-true tale of our trip into Abaddon, we prepared for the final event of the tournament: the joust. Kris rode Windchaser. Or, rather, Windchaser carried Kris around. As was tradition, Kris drank a full draught of ale immediately prior. Windchaser still won easily, despite the Pitaxian combatant cheating and striking with sharpened lances. I would say it was an upset, but not really to us. We knew Windchaser would carry the day.

But it turns out it was all a pretext. Upon returning to the airship, several things happened in quick succession.

  1. The Lady Quintessa Moray requested a private audience with Gelros, who granted it on the condition that his senior council could also attend. She then warned us of impending doom at the hands of Pitax, after confessing she was originally in the employ of Daggermark. (Surprise! She did implore us to not tell her husband, as she's all converted to Arboria now.)
  2. Baern appeared via the mirror, complaining of armies on the march. Gelros asks whose armies; Baern doesn't know. Gelros says "Find out."
  3. The Pitax honor guard had left the area. (Suspicious!)

So yes, you guessed it: Pitax had mobilized against us while we attended the festival. Although the troopers bore no isignia, I confirmed their origins personally with Haiku when we hunted and captured a grunt and brought him back to Ostnend for questioning.

At this point, Gelros told Baern and Shella to mobilize the First Arborian. Shella personally left to take charge of the army. (We're still hovering at the Rushlight Festival at this point.) On our way out from the festival, Gelros had the airship swing about so he could denounce Pitax (whose entire military presence had apparently already left the festival) to the remaining festival goers.

And then we flew back to Ostnend and defend it against the oncoming assault.

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The Winners!
Arboria!

Day 4 Evening Announcement.

Well today ladies and gentlemen was the Boasting Competition.  The bold and dashing competitors from the various nations had quite the tales to tell.  As always, Annamede Belavarah had a hilarious tale, this time telling of how she had spent the last few years in Arboria doing all sorts of crazy hijinks and stirring up humors trouble for the locals.  Her recounting of the sad history of the Gnomeracists was particularly funny.  But the true star of the day was none other then King Gelros of Arboria!  Taking the stage HIMSELF, a thing no ruler has sought fit to do before, he told of his adventures in the Teryfing plane of Abbadon.  Truly his story was grand, and despite the impossibility of it all the crowds believed in the tale with all their being.  Thus Arboria Won the day!

Day 6:  Closing Ceremonies

Well my fair companions, last nights jousting contest was truly a thing of wonder.  The winner of the day was Brave Sir Kris of Arboria!  In a huge upset, he managed to take down Vilamor Koth, the Reigning Champion.  But not to be discounted was the fact that Kris rode none other then the Fabled Windchaser, a horse that could talk!  There has even been some discussion of giving brave windchaser a reward for winning as well!   This win cements Arboria as the Clear winner of the Contest!  

Thus it is with great honor that we award Arboria with both the Staff of Healing, rumored to be made by the Mad wizard of Glendale, and with a brand new Rod of Rulership!  Lets all give them a round of aplause, and look forward to next years competition!!!

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A tournament of Champions
Who will Win!

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 6, Month 3

Day 1. Evening Announcements

Well ladies and Gentlemen, this is Nunzio Arpaia, and im glad you all could join us for a wonderful festival this year.  AS you all know, the Rushlight Tournament takes place every year, and this year looks to be one of the most interesting years by far.  In a shocking turn, Brevoy decided not to attend this year.  BUT worry not, For our new neighbor and expansion powerhouse ARBORIA has join the fabled competition.  Will its competitors stand tall among all the other contestants? Find out tomorrow, when the first completion commences!  They sure have turned a few heads with their fancy flying boat, but will their magical prowess translate to physical perfection?  We shall See!

Day 2: Evening Announcements

Well i was truly a great spectacle at the Aiming at the Target Event.  Arboria was the first to go, and while the brave archer Nithlara of Arboria was a good shot, a few of her shots at the red target missed, netting her a total of 26 points.  Ilraith Valadhkani of Daggermark had better luck, scoring a total of 30 points.    Florante Mayank of Gralton played it safe, but sadly her carful aim wasn't enough, and she only scored 14 points.  Navarathna of Mivon showed great flair, cartwheeling up to the line and firing all 6 of her arrows in a blaze of wood and feathers.  She finished in 2 rounds, scoring a bulls eye and 5 hits on the green target, and scoring a total of 32 points!  Villamor Koth, our noble son and champion, was able to score a glorious 30 points, putting him in a tie for 2nd.   But strong Damanjot of Tymon was not to be forgotten, and he also scored a total of 30 points.  A 3 way sudden death round took place, with Ilraith being eliminated first.  Koth and Damanjot fired shot after shot, but an unlucky arrow took Koth down, and Damanjot of Tymon took second place.

Mivon: 1 win, Tymon: 2nd place

Day 3: Evening Announcements

Well today was a truly exciting day.  I don't think we have ever seen a Log competition that was so.. unique.  Small Yegina Varudu of Daggermark was the first to go.  While the crowd laughed as she struggled to drag the massive axe to the starting line, they soon fell silent as the bell rang.  She quickly cast a blurry of spells, growing in height to 12 feet and causing her arms to bulge with muscles.  She then proceeded to smash the logs in front of her to splinters.  as the bell rang, she finished destroying 2 logs and managed to make a good dent in a third, Earning 12 points.   Up next was Kilbaskian Ord of Gralton.  He chose to use a pair of axes, and soon a flurry of wood chips flew into the air.  he managed to destroy two logs and was working on a third, but just as the buzzer rang, Kilbaskian threw his hand axes, hitting logs 4 and 5, and TECHNICALLY earning total of 16 points.  there was great uproar from the crows, but our benevolent ruler King Irovetti ruled in his favor.  Up next was the Arborian Contestant.  AND WHAT a contestant he WAS!  For those of you who were not lucky enough to see it, Arborian sent none other then a TREANT of the FOREST to the LOG competition!  While the rest of us might not view our Fey neighbors in the best light, Arboria has embraced them as allies, and some how got a Treant to compete! AND COULD HE COMPETE!  He managed to destroy a total of 5 Logs and damage a 6th!  We almost ran out of LOGS!  Scoring an impressive 27 points.   Dizon Marmada of Mivon had a Solid Showing, destroying 4 logs and earning 20 points.  Once again our loyal son Villlamor Koth took to the plate, and with the help of his drinking horn of speed, he decimated 4 logs and managed to ALMOST destroy a 5th, but alas, he ran out of time.  He still scored an astonishing 22 points.  Last to go was Timsina Siraj of Tymon.  Sporting her heraldry of Gorum,  She used her divine might to power through 4 logs, scoring 20 points as well.  But Arboria took the day, and what a day it was.  See you All tomorrow as the Tournament Continues!

Mivon: 1 win, Tymon: 2nd place, Arboria: 1 Win, Pitax: 2nd Place

 

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