Unconquered Kingdoms

Campaign Timeline
15 Jules, 508 PE (Year of Storms), The Story Thus Far

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Introduction

The campaign began in the kingdom of Falconaire, in the province of Aerie and the Gloaming Hills.

It was the middle of summer, and a ranger named Nitram Tam was searching the area for clues about viscous and seemingly cult like sacrifices by ogres and their henchmen throughout the area. Rituals tied to something called blood magic.

Nitram had gathered information and decided to seek out the advice of the druids from the area of the Sacred Glen. Nitram met with Druid Jharron and recounted the rumors of ogres and goblins sneaking around the countryside in small groups as well as the ritualistic sacrifices of families and individuals. Nitram and Jharron decided to journey to Tennyson’s Tower to gain magical advice from the scholars there.

While the two woodsman discussed the issue of blood magic, a lone individual from Aerie had begun his journey to the area of Tennyson’s Tower. Blend had been sent by his guild leader to check out rumors of disruption in the local trades (import/export) by ogres. Little did the two groups know that their paths would soon cross. And other individuals would also share their fate. Blend arrived at Tennyson’s tower and made contact with his guild source and a informant from militia guards.

An apprentice from Rashemon’s Library named Aeron was tasked by his superior Sage Tantalzeer to research information on an obscure subject called blood magic. Aeron and the Sage conducted their research and came up with basic information and theories about the subject. Aeron was given the night off, and he headed into town looking to hire his own “apprentice”. Blend and Aeron met each other and their initial meeting did not go so well. Blend was hoping for information about blood magic and Aeron was looking for an apprentice. The two soon departed each other’s company.

The next morning, all the characters met up with the leadership of Tennyson’s Tower, and after discussing the information available to them, it was determined that they should strike out into the local wilderness to the southeast and investigate the ogre/blood magic activity.

And so began their first adventure…

The Story

Bloody Ogres!

Which Rats?

Dangers of the Fire Swamp

A Mighty “Ice” Fortress

Shadows of the Mercenary

Terror Before the Storm

Blood of the Throne

Realm Management

Year 508, 4th Quarter

Octagon:

  • Blend established Guild (0) in Capone (Toreador)
    Novus:
    Descent:
  • Nitram established Law (1) at Fort Farhills (Falconaire).
  • Aeron established Guild (0) at Fort Farhills (Falconaire)
  • Blend established Guild (0) at Fort Farhills.
  • War Event: (27 Descent) Goblins attacked Tennyson’s Tower.

Year 509, 1st Quarter
Jannissary

  • Blend Ruled Holding, Guild (1) in Capone (Toreador)
  • Nitram Ruled Province, (2/3)
  • Aeron Ruled Holding, Guild (1) in Farhills (all rolls successful)
    Febrile:
  • Nitram created Roads in Farhills.
    March:
  • XXX created Trade Route (Farhills/Aelvinwode)

Year 509, 2nd Quarter

Angel:
Maeve:
Jenue:

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Adventure Calendar
Monthly calendar with notes

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War and Pieces part 6

25 Jenue, Summer 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
1200 Starday

two weeks before the summer solstice

Logistics and admin had taken up much of the beginning of summer. But the hard work had paid off. There was a stable, and a barracks for the new cavalry unit The Marauders. Their leader, Ragnoc, a Korsic barbarian much like Shylent, had sent his second to set things up and make all the arrangements. During the talks, the topic of whether the Marauders would remain mercenaries or become a permanent fixture had come up, and was currently unresolved. Mercenaries were quicker and easier to hire, but usually more expensive in the long run. The bulk of the Marauders were due to arrive tomorrow.

Messages and notes from Blend had led Nitram to believe that part of the difficulty he had experienced in firming up the security of the local area had its origins in the town of Pike, with a merchant family called Boringfeld. That was all Nitram knew at the time.

Fredrick received another letter, saying to expect Ser Darius to arrive during the summer solstice. Frederick and Dast, after further research, discovered that there were multiple legends of magical spears throughout the history of Kells, and most of them had to do with something vaguely termed “The Light”, although none of the legends were a direct match for Dast’s spear.

Rumil had spend a lot of the time honing the skills, precision, and overall deadliness of the wilderness scouts. The scouts themselves had begun to make a name for themselves among their foes the goblins and the worgs, with many a goblin likely losing sleep every night, if not his life. (free unit upgrade for RP)

Blend had spent much time on the road, and was due to return to Fort Farhills any day now.

Overall the situation in the area was much the same as it had been for the spring and early summer. The grain shortage was worse, and much of Falconaire owed a great debt to Toreador, and to a smaller extent Rivendeep and its capital Highkeep.

The areas around Aerie City, Castrel, and Tennyson’s Tower were relatively safe, as were armed convoys and patrols between each of them. But hte area around Dodge’s Fall, both eastward and westward were extremely unsafe for farmsteads and smaller villages, many of which had evacuated to one of the cities. Talk among the keep at Farhills implied that some of the refugees from those areas were sheltering at the fort.

The king of Falconaire was discussing a joint offensive with Toreador to push from the trade road and Capone eastward, clearing and securing the area as they went. While effective, this strategy would tax the already thin Falconaire forces, and would rely heavily on the assistance of Toreador. There was also talk of requesting assistance from an Imperial Legion of the Varencian Empire.

Oddly enough, there were rumors of a ghost haunting the walls of Fort Farhills. Many claimed to have seen a ghostly woman, who when noticed, throws herself off the walls to the ground outside the keep, presumably to her death.

Rumil, ever on the alert for such things, as were the bulk of his people, noticed that there seemed to be a preponderance of spiders this summer. Messages back to the capital brought back disjointed news, some helpful, some…distracted. It seemed there was a conflict between the natural spirit worship of the treespeakers, the veneration of the philosophies/heroes, and an older more martial sect.

Frederick, with his new found senses for realm magic, felt what could be best described as “an awakening” to the west/northwest. He began to have dreams of large billowing jade colored fogs.


As the group considered meeting together for lunch, Shylent called them to the walls on the north side of the keep. She said nothing, merely pointed. In the distance, in a lone tree, was what appeared to be an unusually reddish in color wildcat of some kind. It appeared to be stuck on a branch nearly 30 feet off of the ground.

Frederick attempted to recall if he’d ever seen a wildcat like that in his readings, or heard legend about them. “Is it dead?” he wondered aloud.

The wildcat began to pace back and forth on the branch, coincidentally answering Frederick’s question.

“For some reason, I doubt it’s actually “stuck” Nitram said. Nitram looked at the creature, trying to remember if he had ever heard or seen of it before. Still thinking, the ranger whistled for Serre and a moment later the large griffon was standing next to him on the wall. Some of the villagers seeking safety and shelter in the fort yelped in surprise and fear at Serre’s arrival. Still not used to seeing a griffon, they pointed at the majestic beast from behind any cover they could find. Nitram leapt into the saddle and within seconds was dismounting on the ground out side the wall. He slowly began to approach the tree, continuing to observe the cat and wondering why it was there.

“It’s as big as a large dog,” Blend called out to Nitram as he stepped from behind the tree. “Looks like it climbed too far up and doesn’t know how to get down. I was about to climb up there myself to help it out, but now that you’re here, I figure I’ll let you take care of it,” he smiled at the ranger. “Ten to one it jumps down itself as soon as you get close.”

“There’s no way I’m taking that bet. Welcome back…I think.” Nitram paused as if caught by a strange thought, “Yes, I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen him around lately. He must have be away…was he?”

The ranger approached the tree and began to speak to the cat in a soft, non-threatening manner. animal handling for now to improve its disposition towards Nitram

Blend sat down on a nearby rock and watched the ranger work his “magic”. “Is this going to take long? I’m not going to catch you if you fall.”


Rumil was proud of his fellow elves. They had progressed faster in the art of war during a season than most elves do in an entire cycle. War, of course, tends to do that. That is why Defenders are required to search the globe for experiences – as no amount of training at home can replace the raw emotions that come from fighting for your life and the lives of those near you.

While Aeron’s reclusive nature of late was strange to many in the keep, Rumil had heard stories of senior magisters that would disappear for centuries to hone their art or create an item of legend. He would dine with or bring food to him on occasion, but otherwise, left him to his own devices.

Of greater concern were the spiders and the restless spirit. The spiders posed a threat to all that ventured too near and the spirit on the wall could be an omen. He was no priest, but he would help the spirit find peace if he could.

The problem of the spiders he brought to Nitram and Frederick. The trade route could be affected if the spiders spread – something that would probably cause trouble sooner than later. And the bard seemed to have a vast knowledge about the strangest things – so h sought the opinion on why they were multiplying and how best to combat them and their deadly bite.

As the problems continued to manifest throughout the season, Rumil actually envied the humans and their short lives for a second – live, experience, suffer, die. He grinned for a second when he thought no one was looking, as he wondered if he could get someone to stitch that in elven on a banner as a gag gift for the human brigades. He quickly regained his composure.


As entertaining as the wildcat’s rescue promised to be, Frederick had more concerns that took priority.

“If I am needed, I will be with my books.” He said to his companions not currently involved with the beast, then made his way back. On the way, he thought about the power that had awakened in the west/northwest. While it might not be in response to his own awakening, and also might not be malignant, there was a reason that green was an evil color in stories, and he doubted this would be different. Once he arrived back at his room, Frederick began hunting for anything on the connection between spiders and supernatural portents. He also tried to remember anything useful about supernatural spiders. After a brief pause, he tried to see if there was anything between his notes and the Book about realm magic and its effects on creatures near it.

The one thing that stood out for Frederick concerning the “power” to the west was all those rumors about a sleeping dragon that no one had ever seen in recent times. It was rumored to be green in color. Spider infestations were rare, and usually associated with omens and plagues, just as Frederick suspected. It certainly had nothing to do with The Spider. Most certainly. Better talk to Rumil in case. Realm magic had no obvious affect on creatures, other than the fact that magic attracts magical creatures, so any place or source of power was likely to have mystical or magical beings in close proximity, although not always.

Frederick sighed, closed his book and rubbed his temples. Dragons. Because blood magic and spider omens and titanic forces beyond their comprehension weren’t enough. Making a note to research green dragons at a future point, he made his way back out to inform Rumil of what the spiders could pertain to.

Upon hearing Frederick’s assessment and confirming his own suspicions about the spiders, Rumil sighed deeply. “Good bard, it would seem that two sleeping beasts have been awoken. We elves grow up hearing stories of dragons. Some of us are even taught to read and speak their language. Unlike the stories told to children, however, dragons do not just chase shiny trinkets. They covet magic, power, and of course the thrill of a battle. The spiders may portend to something even more menacing, but the land’s recent awakening at your hands, combined with the dragons are not likely coincidental.” With that, Rumil listened to all that Frederick had to further offer, walking him towards the elven area of the keep. He would inform him scouts, prepare for the coming chaos, and more importantly, did through this human’s brain for knowledge on combating this new, yet ancient threat.

“Would it be possible for me to learn the dragon’s language from some of your people? If not, I can understand. Humans are not tolerable at the best of times; to teach one may be seen as demeaning. As for the land’s awakening, between myself, this dragon and whatever is behind the evils that we’ve been combating, I fear that the realm may well be torn apart before this is all over. Though I will do my damndest to maintain it.”

“Sadly, I am no teacher of languages. I can read and speak, and am one of the only elves here that can that I am aware of, but to teach draconic would be difficult on us both. It took me months to learn the sounds and years to formulate a phrase. There are those who could teach you back home, but that may be for another time. If you come upon draconic and need it translated, I’d be happy to assist.”

The question of teaching the language brought up horrible memories of his own time spent learning that difficult language. The language was tough, but his assigned tutor was the true menace. The memories…oh, the memories.

He shook himself back into the present and agreed with Frederick’s assessment of the current state of the world and its possible future. The bard had certainly grown since they had first met. From tales of sharks on land to saving the realm — Rumil was beginning to see the value placed on gaining experiences on the road by the Defenders. He wondered if he too had grown…

Frederick wondered aloud “So why is there a strange cat stuck in a tree, and why does it sound like the beginning of something considerably strange?”


At Nitram’s approach the large wildcat began to arch its back and hiss in a low menacing manner. After watching Nitram speak and motion in a calming manner for a moment, the wildcat calmed down. It sat back upon its haunches, and with a semi-intelligent gleam in its eye, grinned a large toothy smile at the two figures below. It’s tail, showing faint gray circles much like a raccoon’s, began to twitch back and forth.
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Nitram looked to see if he could climb the tree. Is the branch the cat is on big enough to support him too? How big is this cat? he thought.

Nitram climbed the tree, continuing to do whatever he can to keep the thing calm. He’ll attempt to get the cat to let him pick it up and, at a minimum, move it to a lower branch where it can make it’s own way back down. Or, if necessary, he’ll try to take it all the way back down. Once the cat is down, Nitram will look around to see if he could determine what brought it up there.

The wild cat did not appear inclined to let Nitram touch it. It did however like the idea of using Nitram’s neck, arms, and back as a human ladder. With an amusing “hiss” it lunged at the ranger and clawed its way down his back and the trunk of the tree, leaving minor scratches and cuts as it went.

It paused for a moment, leered slightly at Blend, and then began to run off into the distance, heading vaguely southwest.

“I think Blend should follow it to see where it goes” Nitram mentioned.

“Well…that was very…anti-climactic,” Blend said to the ranger when he climbed down from the tree. “I wonder what the others expected to happen? Perhaps they though the cat was really a transformed maiden out of some fairy tale. Or better yet, it was the key to all the blood magic plague! Hurry! We must go after it!” Blend started walking toward Fort Farhills. “Most of the time, what you see is what you get and a cat stuck in a tree is just a cat stuck in a tree. Let’s go Nitram. We have much to discuss. And in this case, the cat stuck in the tree is definitely not what it appears to be.”

“I though you were the ranger with the tracking skills?”

“No doubt,” the ranger responded to nothing specific. “I trust your travels were productive then?”

“Yes, very productive, but there is still much more to be done. We need to gather the core group to discuss next steps. Do not invite Jonas.”

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War and Pieces part 5

Over the course of the next several days, Nitram got cryptic reports from Sohei regarding the difficulties in getting workers to construct a stable, barracks, and tavern in the Fort. It eventually got underway, but with tremendous resistance. The ranger spent the majority of the day looking for Blend. Finally, he found him. “Even when he’s not hiding, he’s ridiculously hard to see.”

“Blend, I – we have a problem that I think you might be able to help with. I am working on getting a cavalry unit to bed down in the fort to help us out in this region. We are constructing a stable and barracks, as well as a tavern, in the courtyard. My problem has been getting workers to come and do the work. It seems like there is someone in the fort – or surrounding area – that is trying to prevent this from happening. Can you use your abundant talents and contacts to look into it to see what you can find out? I’d really appreciate it.”

Frederick took time during one of the days where he wasn’t feeling particularly useful to pen a letter to the Library. He’d not gotten a reply from his last letter, and honestly didn’t expect this one to even make it to his former home. He paused, realizing that he was thinking of it as his former home; it seemed that the larger world held a bounty to uncover. He smiled briefly, then wrote,

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Frederick Talespinner, and in the time since I was sent on the task to recover information on the Book of Kells, I have had an interesting time, to say the least.

Firstly, I have in my possession the Book. It was taken from me briefly by fiends wielding blood magics, which has most likely been the cause of some of the more…unusual environmental issues that you may have noticed recently. I have, with the assistance of the party that I currently travel with, recovered the Book.

More importantly, I have begun to translate portions of it, and its instruction and knowledge concerning what is called ‘realm magic.’ It is a type of magic that uses the energy of the land, and can do things both wondrous and horrible. Somewhat accidentally, I also now have a connection to the land’s energy and have begun pursuing this. Additionally, my magical talents have grown considerably since my departure, and I believe the Book may have resulted in some unusual avenues of its progression.

I cannot currently tell you my location, as I do not know if that is sensitive information or not. I’m assuming that it might be, seeing as I have repossessed the Book. With that said, I do not know when or if I will be able to return. If I am killed during our excursions, I will have arranged for a delivery of my possessions to Ashka. She’ll know what to do with them.

Know that I remain an instrument in the balancing of the world, and a voice for the Library within it as well.

Respectfully,

Frederick Talespinner.

P.S. – Have not encountered landsharks again since my initial encounter. Story seems to do well, though

Frederick put the letter into an envelope, and then put it into his pack until he was able to find someone who knew where the Library was and could take the letter with them.

Later on that evening, he saw the mercenary that had come to their aid during the last battle that he had taken part in, and included him in a song that praised his courage and skill in battle.


Blend noted Nitram’s concerns, and before setting off on some errands, he implied that he would look into to the issues, or at least that is what Nitram got out of the merchant’s cryptic response.

22 Maeve, Spring 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
1800 Moonday

one week before the beginning of summer

The weeks had passed, and he Fire Brigade had been pronounced “ready” by Lt Gentry. Sgt Slickster had merely stood there during the pronouncement, and while he looked slightly constipated, he had said nothing.

Efforts made by Nitrma, Gentry, and with some assistance from Sohei had resulted in enhanced patrols and better security for the local area around the fort. With ogres and goblins continuing to raid and pillage the eastern portions of Falconaire, it was still not time to let the villages resettle outside the walls, but Nitram and his force felt they were getting a decent grip on law and order in the area.

Rumil noted that Aeron had withdrawn into research and study, muttering something about “Lord Rashemon”, “ley lines” and “ravens and spiders”. Aeron still oversaw the minor day to day accomplishments of the apprentice alchemists, and even with minor ogre raids, managed to bring in a profit from trade back home with the elven forest.

Frederick and Dast seemed to have it it off, and even Shylent started hanging out in the bar with them, drinking and notably not saying much. Frederick received a letter back from the library, stating that they intended on sending a special representative that could survive the war torn lands to retrieve the book very soon. Dast, on the rare occasions that Frederick had brought the Book of Kells out into the open, noted that many of the symbols and script on the pages seemed very similar to those on his family’s spear.

One night after noticing the symbols in the book, Dast brings his spear with him to the tavern and calls Frederick’s attention to the similarities between the book and the spear “Do you know what the symbols in the book mean? My fathers spear has very similar symbols on it.” Dast holds out the Waelspere for Frederick to inspect.

Frederick grinned. “Similar symbols, you say? For an ancient language and a power that is supposed to be incredibly hard to utilize, this stuff certainly gets around. Do you have any idea how your father came into possession of the spear?”

He was intrigued, he had to admit. After all, you didn’t see Ancient Wensharian every day, and certainly not on a weapon. This, he thought, should be interesting.

“Unfortunately, I do not know of the spear’s origin. I remember my father using it when I was a child. It was given to me by a family friend when I was told of my parents death.”

“Would you know this friend’s name, by any chance? I have, through ways not entirely my design, become something of a scholar for Ancient Wensharian history and old magics. I would be interested if your spear is part of either, or possibly both, of these.”

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War and Pieces part 4

As Rumil settled in to the mundane life of the keep, he realized he had forgotten to return the extra gold to Nitram. He and a few of his scouts carried the extra gold back to Nitram, hoping it would come in handy in the coming months.

Frederick spent the time that he was not needed (which was, let’s be frank, an awful lot) divided between further study of magics connected to the land and the lines of power that crossed it and practicing his craft in the public area and the taverns.

He worked his recent adventures and encounters in with some of his classic material, trying to convey to those listening the wonder and mild terror of being thrust into a life so unfamiliar from that he had left. On every fifth night, he would tell the landshark story, as it was an old friend and had seen him well through many performances.

If people came back, or came to another location that he was at to listen to his tales and songs, he made sure to greet them and get to know at least a little about them; people, after all, were some of the best stories.

Dast spend his days getting to know the people at the fortress. He was particularly interested in the tales that the bard Frederick was telling of his recent adventures, frequenting the taverns in which he told his tells. Dast made sure to enjoy a good ale while he listened to the bard and was always quiet during the stories.

One morning, Nitram awoke to the sounds of fighting in the courtyard of the Fort. He grabbed Kinslayer and began moving quickly to a window, but stopped as he heard Sgt Slickster’s voice call out, “Stop! Stop! Stop! If you keep doing that you’re going to get yourself and the man next to you killed. Pay attention this time! Like this….” there was a pause and then Nitram heard a loud grunt. Arriving at the window, he saw Slickster with about twenty men going over unit combat. At the other end, he could see another group trying to ready crossbows to fire. Turning from the window, he mumbled to himself, “Glad to see the Sergeant took some initiative with those recruits.” “Now I need to make sure they get paid…”

Once dressed and fed, Nitram sought out Scholar Sohei to ensure the recruits were paid. He found him with Lt. Gentry, who looked up and said, “We were just discussing the hiring of new recruits. They’re a little raw, but have decent potential. Sgt Slickster is one of the best – he’ll mold them into an effective fighting force in no time. We only gave them part of their pay up front, they’ll get the rest when they’re ready to fight. I hope that is to your satisfaction…?”
Nitram smiled and nodded, “That’s sounds good. I look forward to having your men at full strength soon. We’re going to need them.”

As the ranger paused, Lt Gentry continued, “After the council meeting the other day, I took the liberty of sending word to a few contacts I had in Aerie City regarding our desire for a cavalry unit here. There are a few options of varying quality…in my opinion.” He paused, waiting for Nitram to respond.

The half-elf quickly said, “Wonderful. Thank you. What are the options?”

“The Lightning Brigade – they took their name after us, though they’ll deny it – is a capable group of skilled riders. They are fast, especially in the plains. There’s the Doe-Newt Riders. I don’t know much about them. They’re fairly new, having been recently funded by someone outside the City – that’s where they got that silly name from. They have excellent equipment though. I’ve also heard that the Horde is available. They have a long and glorious history, having been around in some form or fashion and survived since before Falconaire was a kingdom. The last group that I heard was available is known as the Marauders. While their start was a little nefarious, they are very experienced and fairly disciplined.”

Nitram thought a moment, ”Who do you recommend? You know this area? You are familiar with the fight and the need we have here. Who would best suit us?”

Lt Gentry, ready for that question, promptly replied, ”I think the Maruaders would serve you the best. They may not be as fast as the Lightning Brigade, but their leadership is more imaginative and flexible. I’ve heard the Horde is starting to lose its edge; not sure why exactly, but there’s not a lot of people talking them up anymore. The Riders are just too new for me to recommend and probably too inexperienced to operate effectively here right now. Based on what we are facing – or think we are facing – I would go with the Marauders.”

”Sohei, work with Lt. Gentry and see if we can get them here…as soon as possible.”

Scholar Sohei quickly responded, ”Lord Nitram, where will we house them? We have no stable or barracks to house another unit of soldiers and their mounts.”

The ranger smiled again, ”Looks like we have some work to do before they get here then. Let’s hire some craftsmen to construct both. We have quite a bit of unused space in the main courtyard. We can put the stables by the blacksmith and find a spot for a barracks. While we’re at it, see if we can get a small tavern in there too…but not near the barracks. Let me know if we don’t have enough funds for all of it, but I’m confident that you’ll be able to make it work.”
Sohei nodded at the compliment, ”I think it’s likely, especially now that the elf returned some of the funds you sent with him to Aelvinwode.”

Nitram looked at both men, ”Thank you both. For all that you are doing for this place and the people here.”

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War and Pieces part 3

Dast spent the next couple of weeks meeting people and exploring the area of the Fort and its surroundings. He continued his efforts to learn of the mercenary group the Grey Riders, bit other than the fact that they had gone to the east into the wilderness and not returned, he gained little knowledge.

Cragthor.jpg One day the henchman of the merchant named Blend abruptly approached Dast. Cragthor was a bruteman, a race of people Dast had not encountered frequently. From all accounts, brutemen were tribes of warriors and raiders, with some even recruited into the ranks of the ogre armies, so to see this “Cragthor” on the side of the common people was a little puzzling to Dast.

Cragthor strode up to Dast in an intimidating manner and bluntly asked the warrior “What care you for mercenaries? "

Dast did not back down as The bruteman approached. “I have nothing against most mercenaries, in fact I used to be a hired spear myself. I merely seek answers and I have heard the Grey Riders may have them. Who is asking?” Dast slowly moves his hand to his sword not sure what to make of this creature.

Cragthor just snorted at Dast’s slight hand movement, and slowly removed his greataxe and lowered the head to the ground, leaning upright on the long handle. “Cragthor, last of the Gray Lions, you challenge me?”

Dast makes a placating gesture at Cragthor. “I do not wish to challenge you. There are some that I wouldn’t want to know of my search. Do you have any information on the Grey Riders?”

Cragthor leaned towards Dast just far enough to make a point, but not enough to shame Dast into conflict. “Cragthor was part of Grey Riders. Owe Blend blood debt. Fighting with this clan better…more exciting.” Cragthor looked at Dast and said. “Mercenaries killed my tribe. Mercenaries neither good nor bad. If you fight, you fight to win, yes?”

Dast smirked at Cragthor’s words. “Is there anything else worth fighting for? Of course I fight to win. Any information you have on the riders would be appreciated.” Dast notes the mention on Blend and thinks it might be worth his while to seek him out.


Frederick was briefly startled.

“Nitram, what are you doing out here? Is everything all right back at the fort?”

Nitram wiped the look of parental concern and frustration off his face and responded to the bard, “Yes, everything is fine at the fort. But, everything is not fine out here. There are ogre and goblin raids all across Falconaire. I would have thought your experience with your land sharks would have made you a little more wary of wandering off by yourself. What are you doing out here anyway? You seem to be randomly wandering around, which might not be the best thing to do by yourself right now. I hope you found what you were looking for…we should get back to the fort. If you want to explore further, please take an escort. I’m not sure we can afford to lose you…” The ranger continued the thought internally, “but it’s still up for debate.”

Frederick gave a short bow.

“My apologies, Nitram. I was not wandering, but had been drawn to a source of energy that is tied to the land itself. After a brief consultation with the Book of Kells, I successfully bonded myself to it. Not entirely certain what that entails, apart from the ability to practice some magics that have been thrown against us. I also encountered what was potentially a sprite, though it disappeared and neglected to communicate with me in any fashion.”

20 Angel, Spring 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
1300 Thunderday
two weeks after the battle of Trogdor

Rumil had since returned from the Aelvinwode some days past, and the majority of the group had decided to gather together on this day to sum up the most recent events.

Many points were brought up and discussed, with some of the most relevant ones being;

The ogres had broken up their main camp (that Blend had infiltrated) and retreated into the wilderness.
The other groups of ogres and goblins continued to harry and raid across the eastern border of Falconaire at least as far west as Castrel.
Luis Marcosa was assisting duBlade from the keep at Castrel

There was also discussion about what was the cause of all of this war and strife;

The ogres had re-discovered blood magic and were in cahoots with a coven of witches
Harbor Freight had been assisting the ogres in the trafficking and selling of blood magic items, either for a nefarious purpose or simply profit.
The grain crop this year was stunted and yielded little of value, and coincidentally(?) Harbor Freight had been corning the market on stockpiles of grain.
The ogres were burning grain fields and farms wherever they came across them, but consistently enough to be suspicious.
Toreador and the Toreadoran Merchant’s Guild had the next largest supply of grain. (Coincidence or seeing the trend?)
There were other ideas, that may or may not be connected to the overall plot;

The blood magic ogres and the elemental ogres didn’t like each other.
The Grey Riders were very interested in old ruins located east of Farhills. They had a mysterious benefactor with unknown motives.

Several maids brought in flagons of wine to the meeting room, and the group began to discuss amongst themselves (RP time) once more.
As Rumil sat quietly, sipping on his offered goblet of wine, to the groups assessments and concerns, a strange thought crept into this mind – he had missed these newly found comrades while he was visiting his people.

He had heard of defenders that never returned, finding the life outside of the forest too exciting to simply devote the rest of their days to defending against the next threat. Rumil failed to understand this reasoning, as he has come to understand that while these men fought hard for all that life had to offer, their flame was but a mere flash of light in comparison to his own.

He was glad to be back, glad to be useful, but he knew his heart belonged to Corellon and his People. He would remember this group for centuries to come, Corellon willing, but could never truly feel at home in this keep.

When the group brought up the old ruins, he listened with keen interest. He had found that area to be quite fascinating – heavy in magic, worth his darker cousins fighting and dying for, and for some reason unknown to him, of interest to these Grey Riders or their benefactor. Very interesting indeed…

“So, my thinking is that if we corral the blood magic usage, we might be able to slow the enemy’s progress in some of their other ventures. Maybe might make it harder for them to operate at the scale that they’re at. Though I’ll admit to being the most ignorant of strategic measures and counter-measures.” said Frederick.

Pouring himself a glass of wine, Nitram addressed the others, “I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you, but I think our primary effort is to determine where the ogre army disappeared to and how we can reduce or stop the raids to the north or us or many will likely starve. If the ogres are using blood magic to teleport across the Kingdoms, we need to find a way to stop it or no one is safe. We need to increase patrols, both in frequency and distance and a cavalry unit will give us this ability. Rillifane willing, we can afford one.” He paused a moment to let his comments sink in before continuing.

“Once the area is more secure, I suggest we try to pick up the trail of the blood witches. They may be able to lead us to the source of all this blood magic or at least get us some more information on it…for the bard.”

Nitram quickly shifted his attention to the merchant, as if a thought had just popped into his head, which it had, “Blend, were you able to uncover anything of interest in the ogre camp?”

Before Blend could answer, and with an apologetic nod towards Jonas Rolandoval Lt Gentry spoke up.

“There seems to be quite a few Toreadorean units helping hold the ogres back, especially here and around the Gloaming Hills. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I certainly do not questions the motives of Jonas, but they are quite strategically placed, and it is no secret that Toreador has always claimed that this area should be one large kingdom. Do we think this is a concern at this time?” he asked as he sat back down and poured himself a glass of red Varencian #8.

Frederick muttered to himself “Oh, grand, Big Bads knocking at the world’s doors, blood magic and gods’ cussed landsharks to boot. Why wouldn’t there be some kind of court drama nonsense in this tale?” Lt Gentry, who apparently was within earshot of Frederick, raised an eyebrow, and his wine glass in the bard’s direction with a slight shrug.

Frederick flushed briefly, nodded his head in return, and opened the Book in his lap, keeping an ear to the conversation should it wander into one of his many fields of knowledge or expertise. “My father saw a landshark once” a young serving boy whispered to Frederick. “Said it was the size of a hill!” The young lad then wandered off picking up cups and dishes.

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War and Pieces part 2

Rumil, the senior scout squad leaders, and the elven envoy met to sup after a long day of training. They had been encouraging Rumil to take his leave and return to the homeland for a few days now – and their call for this path was not waning with time.

The elves, while faithful to the mission, wanted to refresh their ranks, supplies, and provide news to the familes that lost kin. They felt it would be inappropriate to travel without the banisher of the fire beast, however, and felt that the safety of the keep would not be an issue.

Their argument was beginning to make sense. Rumil had been away too long – he needed to see his brothers, and aid in the troop replacement. It was decided…

Rumil approached Nitram and informed him that he and the elves would be departing for a fortnight – maybe less. He did not wish to abandon these humans during such a troubling time, but his People came first. “We depart, but only to strengthen our numbers, replenish our weapons and supplies, and update the Queen and any that will listen to the current situation. We wish you and the remaining forces all blessings and may Corellon keep you safe.”

With that, he turned and headed to the west with the elven forces as dusk approached. The party packed light, to remain agile, and kept the healer in the center of the standard scouting formation built for speed.

Nitram agreed that it was a good idea for them to spend some time in Aelvinwode. “Please don’t depart until I find you again,” the ranger asked. I’ll meet you at the gate shortly." Nitram departed to the heart of the fort. After a short while Rumil saw the ranger approaching the gate with a small packhorse loaded with saddlebags. He handed the horse’s lead to Rumil, “Use what’s in the bags to see if you can entice some more scouts to our cause. I’m not sure how much the Queen will be able to help us stay at full strength, so you can be a little generous…but, not too generous. Good luck and safe travels.”

Rumil looked at the ranger quizzically. “Thank you Nitram for this offer. I am not certain what the Queen will decide, but I will present your gift to her Majesty, as is appropriate. The horse, however, is not needed.” Rumil simply looked at the head of his scout detachment, signaled to the horse, and without a word, they moved forward, removed the bags, divided and secured the gold on their persons, and formed back up. Rumil did not have a single doubt that the entire amount would be there at the end – but he did not for a second doubt that the pack animal would slow them down and draw unwanted attention.

With that, Rumil clasped Nitram’s arm in elven tradition, “Until we meet again,” turned and walked off, scouts in tow.

Aeron, who had not noticed the scouts leaving, waited until everyone was in one room and proceeded (with much lecturing on the intricacy and elaborate techniques required) to demonstrate his latest creation, handing out six single earrings.
greencopper.jpg
Once he was finished with his speech, he turned to Blend and said with a smile and a somewhat arrogant complacence, “Does this meet your needs noble merchant?”

The journey back to the elven court took less than a day. The “trail” blazed for the trade route was easy to follow, and curved gently through the pleasant areas of the forest. Although Rumil did notice several turns and climbs where units could be positioned to overlook the road, and interdict as needed. It was an easy trail, suitable for small wagons and carts, ideal for a local trade route, but a large invading force would be hard pressed to maintain its cohesion during any fighting advance.

A little over half the way to the capital, a small rest stop and trading center had been set up, in the same location that the road from Travail crossed the river. This was apparently where goods coming and going from Fort Farhills would be exchanged.

That afternoon, Rumil reached the capital of Alevinwode, Septcygne. Over the course of the next 10 days, the squad leaders followed his direction, while Rumil conducted his business with the families of the slain and the other local leaders and teachers he knew. (you determine the cost and the tithe, Renown is now raised to 2.)

The Queen was slightly amused to hear of Rumil’s exploits, and he was allowed to meet with her and tell his tales himself. She directed the defenders to assign another squad to assist Rumil in the local defense. She then however, raised an eye and mentioned something about every leader needs to learn how to “play the game” and work to gain the resources they need, balancing their obligations as they did. Hearing of the burial of the fallen brethren in the woods near Farhills, and of “Lord” Nitram and Rumil’s request for a memorial, she also directed the Treespeaker to dispatch a novice to care for the “grove”.

After further discussion with Rumil, she asked a mischievous smile “Your turn”


Nitram had absolutely no problem at all picking up Frederick’s tracks as they headed into the forested hills west of the fort. The area was secluded, and not an area many people other than random scouts had ever passed through. To Nitram it looked like the bard was meandering across the terrain without a care in the world.

Oddly though, it appeared to Nitram that the bard’s tracks were beginning to fade. Not as in disappear, but more like Frederick was accidental stepping in the right place at the right time to leave almost no trace. A flat rock here, dry earth there, through a small stream, etc. If it had been deliberate, Nitram would have been able to tell, but no…this was just more peculiar. Nitram looked at the sky and his surroundings. He knew exactly where he was, but for the life of him, he couldn’t tell where the bard was going…yet.

Frederick made his way along, listening to the pull almost like it was a song that he’d been listening to for most of his life. As he walked, he attempted to sing in harmony with it, and he hoped that it wasn’t a trap. It didn’t feel like a trap, but the best traps usually didn’t.

Frederick was not entirely sure where he was. Oh, he could likely retrace his way back to the fort, that was easy enough. But exactly where he was in this “maze” of forested hills and small ravines. Not entirely sure.

After traveling up though another vine covered ravine with a pretty litttle stream sparkling back past him down the grassy hill and through the looming trees, Frederick entered into a small sinkhole surrounded by 20 foot high rocky and earth walls. The sinkhole was about sixty feet across, with a forty foot wide pool directly in the center. for a moment Frederick though he saw a pale blue feminine figure that reminded him of Nitram’s sprite in the center of the pool. But when he blinked she was gone, if she had ever been there.

Frederick, with his newly awakened senses, could tell that this spot was a source of natural power, of the type that flowed across the land and similar to the ley lines Aeron speak of “charging” up the ship. and similar to the streams of magic that the dragon reputedly used, tweaking and pulling the power from its lair.

“Hello? If there is someone there, and wishes to communicate, I’m unfortunately human and lacking in the extra senses necessary for communication.”

Frederick made his way to the pool, not entirely certain what to do from here. As he waited for any contact, he opened the Book and skimmed through it, seeing if there was anything referencing power sources and how to utilize them. Or, at the very least, how to keep them from exploding his brain or summoning a legion of dark elves with long hair and swords.

Setting the Book back into his pack, Frederick opened himself fully to the source of power. He raised his voice in song, calling upon the soul of the land and the history of those who had lived and would live on it. He was a speck in a sliver of the cosmos, but his song would be heard.

A surge of power flared up and answered Frederick’s call. After the surge faded, he felt a bond to the land and specifically the pool and its waters. Eventually Frederick turned and headed back towards the fort. No matter how he tried to head directly to the fort, his steps seemed to meander. Eventually he shook it off and began moving quickly and steadily towards the area of Fort Farhills, when he was surprised to suddenly meet Nitram.

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War and Pieces part 1

06 Angel, Spring 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
0600 Thunderday

Dawn began to rise the morning after the attack and defeat of Trogdor.

The next few days were spent (once again) assessing the damage to the troops and the surrounding area. Lt Gentry’s normally pleasant demeanor began to look more haggard and stressful as time went by. Sgt Slickster just shrugged in a fatalistic way, commenting “it is what it is”, although he could be seen more often among the troops and the campfires, moving from group to group.

Raven’s from Tennyson’s Tower and Castrel told the same story; random ogre and goblin raids were taking a toll on the exposed populace. Farmlands and crops were being razed, with the populations of formerly pleasant countryside settlements retreating to the nearest towns. Castrel still stood firm, as did Tennyson’s Tower. Luis Marcossa’s cavalry had relocated to Castrel, and was assisting duBlade in the keep’s defense. The roads were safe for those who traveled in force, as the ogre’s and goblins were working in smaller, raid style groups.

Several reports described groups of goblin worg riders roaming freely, and it seemed that the Gloaming Hills reverberated with their howling cries during the night, as did the foothills closer to the lost Dodge’s Fall.

As Rumil replenished the last of his stock and ensured the ship was outfitted, he turned his focus to the elves present. It was time to train them further. Many of them had years, if not decades, on him when it came to scouting – but his entire adult life had been spent on defense. They needed to learn to hold a position, deflect hits, and regroup to bring the brunt of their fervor against a target.

When possible, he sent word back to the homeland via scout or bird – whichever was safest that day. The goal wasn’t to deplenish the elven forces, but to recruit replacements by spreading the word. Nothing brought an elf as quickly as a good tale of a brother’s exploits. Rumil, the ship, the sailors, and even some of the more “talented” scouts would surely bring some of the more reclusive elves out of the forest. There were those that would flock to the Queen’s banner – as was expected – and still others that wanted more adventure, after centuries of relative mundane days.

Frederick flinched. Gods, that had stung terribly, and was a new experience for him compared to his previous…scryings, he assumed they could be called, for the Book. He stared down at his notes on realm magics, sighed in frustration, and went to get a book from his pack.

Dast continued his search for the Grey Riders by asking around the fort to try to find rumors on their whereabouts. He noted the reactions of the others when mentioning the Riders and tried to be discreet in his search, bringing them up in casual conversation. He did not want the Riders to know of his inquisition or its purpose.

Dast found most of his inquires about the Grey Riders got the same response, from warriors, a mild distaste for the patron deity, Anshar, and a healthy respect for their military prowess. He heard tales of a Lt Expedient, a hobgoblin tactician and logistics officer of immense talent. He also heard tales of their captain, Cider deVilliers, a polite and utterly ruthless mercenary of great efficiency.

He also heard that the group he had fought on the ship with had been involved in several “encounters” with the Grey Riders, and rumor was that Nitram nad blend specifically were not amused with their actions thus far.

Perhaps Dast should inquire with either Nitram or Blend to have the tale told as it was.

Frederick stepped out into a field near the fort, clothed in a dark green shirt and pants, and began setting up for the ritual he’d discovered in his notes. If he understood what he translated, and had the ritual set up correctly, he would strengthen his connection to the land and the magics that it contained. If he didn’t, then it was not certain what would happen, but it would probably involve a demon of some kind. Or just a massive explosion. Or nothing. He really wasn’t certain.

While Frederick was setting up for his ritual, he discovered the Book of Kells within his pack. Having taken several books out of the back the previous night, Frederick was left slightly perplexed.

Halfway through the ritual, Frederick realized he was doing it all wrong. He vaguely felt the flow of magic in the area, like an ankle deep invisible fog, drifting about in patterns he was unable to discern. What he could feel more prevalent, was a pull like the tide. Gathering his belongings, Frederick began to follow the pull, deeper into the hills and the forest to the west of Farhills. Frederick knew that the Sacred Grove lay some miles off in the distance, but what he felt was much closer, he thought.

Rumil found his days filled with training and instruction. He found that many, if not all of the scouts had reached an icy elven state of temper that was sure to bring retribution upon their foes. The squads even started keeping score of goblins and worgs slayed, and the competition was fierce.

Rumil realized if he wanted to create and refine his teams, he would likely have to return to the elven lands for some days, to personally raise interest and renown concerning the adventure and sport to be had.

When?! How?! What?! Frederick was amazed.

The Book of Kells was in his pack. The Book, HIS Book! He didn’t know how it had ended up in there, and was certain that it had not been in there the entire time. As he followed the pull of the magic, he made sure to take note of his surroundings. He wasn’t familiar with the area, yet, and really did not want to get lost.

As he made his way towards…whatever he was making his way towards, he noticed that the source of the pull wasn’t too far from the fort, and that made him wonder if it was a source that their enemies had utilized during the previous combats. And, if it was, would that source be tainted at all by their twisted magics? If it was, could he reverse the process? His mind was a cacophony of questions, all surging beneath the lusty pull of power that he hadn’t even known existed before the Book came into his possession.

As Frederick calmed down and began to put the book away, a small note fell out of it and onto the ground. Picking it up, the note read: “Found this for you_. -B.”


After Nitram read the reports sent by the ravens, he thought it best that people didn’t travel too far from the Fort without an escort. He found Sgt Slickster discussing defenses with the engineers. When the older soldier saw the ranger, he excused himself and came over, “Good day, sir. You look like you needed something…?” The ranger nodded, “Yes, Sergeant, I do. We’ve received reports of persistent raids by small bands of ogres and goblins all along eastern Falconaire. I think it best that we limit travel of anyone without an armed escort. We’ve lost too many already….” The ranger trailed off, his mind consumed by thoughts of ogre raids and loss. The veteran shifted his weight, snapping Nitram back to the present. “Please, Sergeant, let the guards manning the watches to make sure no one gets out of bowshot.” Slickster nodded in agreement, “Yes, sir. Anything else I can help you with?”
Nitram thought for a moment before responding, “Yes, one more thing. I’m not sure if this falls to you or Lt. Gentry, but we need to get the Fire Brigade back up to full strength. Do what you need to do to recruit some more able bodies for the upcoming fight. We need to send these filth to their gods.” Slickster almost appeared to smile a little, “Right away, sir.” He turned and headed in the direction of the main gate. The ranger headed to storeroom to double check the fort’s supplies. We need some cavalry to help seek out these raiders and make sure they stop.

He hadn’t spent much time in the stores when a young soldier from the Fire Brigade came running in, sweating and panting. He had obviously been running for some time. The ranger offered him some water while he caught his breath. Before he took a drink, the soldier managed to say something between breaths, “Before Sgt Slickster…no one to leave…the bard headed west…an hour ago…into the forests…alone.”

Nitram wondered what that unique individual was doing in the woods by himself. “Maybe he’s headed back to the library,” he thought to himself. “Thank you, soldier. Catch your breath. If Sgt. Slickster asks, tell him I’ll deal with it.” Nitram tried to find someone who might know why the bard left, but it seemed that no one was around. Glad to get out of mundane tasks, Nitram called to Serre, who appeared out of the air within moments. “I’m going to take a stroll and find Frederick to the west. Why don’t you go for a short flight and keep an eye on me?” The griffon responded with an excited screech.

Nitram let the guards know that he was headed west for a few hours and would be back. They could pass that info on to any of the fort leadership if it became necessary. With griffon overwatch, the ranger headed to the field where Frederick was last seen and began to track the wayward bard. Leaving the walls of Farhills behind and nearing the trees to the west, the ranger felt a calming peace come over him. Moving stealthily as he went, he was filled with a sense of comfort – alone in the wilderness, responsible for only himself and his friend, he moved swiftly and purposefully, fully expecting to catch up to the bard shortly.

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