Session 11: Neth 15 through Kuthona 1, 4710 AR
Upon arrival in town, you were faced with more immediate concerns than what to do about Retawnair. You noticed that the party was receiving a particularly cold reception from the townsfolk, and you soon learned why. Apparently, a wandering bard hade arrived in town just after you left and had begun stirring up local discontent. You learned that this bard, Grigori by name, had been speaking of your “gross negligence” in abandoning Highpoint to “go gallivanting through the Narlmarches on fool’s errands” and leaving the town exposed to banditry, monster attacks, and worse. He brought up the town’s recent werewolf troubles and even suggested that you all were responsible for the attacks because their wilderness explorations drove the monster into more civilized areas. He also was claiming that you all have acquired much wealth during your adventures, but have used it only to enrich yourselves, not to aid the town or its citizens. He accused you of consorting with the very people who would threaten the town, such as Jerro, Egbert, and Kundal. Finally, he accused you of gross incompetence at best and malevolent evil at worst for your tendency to leave town with popular people and return without them.
After debating back and forth, you had Vidarr and Zander go and fetch Grigori to account for himself before the council. At that meeting he agreed to become a salaried official working to spread positive propaganda about Highpoint’s rulers to its people. Solden, Alinza, and Dorian were still suspicious of Grigori and his motives, so they spied on the bard and found that while he no longer plainly spoke out against the party, he filled his new messages with subtle innuendos. You all developed a strategy to develop a more positive image with the townspeople while at the same time casting aspersions on Grigori. First, you published your arrest warrants for Jerro and Egbert. This was not quite effective. Second, you planned to have Jhod preach about Erastil’s miraculous cure of Kundal and paint his cure as a story of redemption. Finally, you all had Grigori learn about a local Troll threat, which he would then use to sow fear and discord amongst the populace. You then would go and take care of the Troll threat, making Grigori look foolish and elevate yourselves in the eyes of your subjects.
It took you through the 17th to implement these plans and prepare for your next wilderness sojourn. In the meantime, Richard turned more towards formal affiliation with the church of Erastil, the rift between Solden and Vidarr grew, and Vidarr met a woman who perhaps would set him down a more positive path. The woman’s name was Ingirt, and she was a half-elven cleric of Milani, the God of liberty and freedom. She had worked with Zander back in Galt and decided to join him in getting Highpoint started.
The rumors put the Trolls in the Narlmarches south of the Murque River, so on the 18th you set out west along the Skunk River, planning to turn south in a systematic exploration of the region. You came across a group of Gnomes being attacked by a band of Slurks, managing to save the Gnomes, but one of their supply wagons was swept away by the river. The Gnome leader was Jubilost Narthropple, an explorer who was looking for an abandoned Dwarven outpost in the southern Narlmarches. He gave you information about some nearby areas along the Skunk River and warned of an eccentric hermit living just to the southwest. The next day he and his hirelings returned to Highpoint to re-equip while you went on you way.
The 19th brought rain as you found the hermit mentioned by Jubilost. He lived in the hollow of a large oak, claiming to be simple druid who wanted to get away from civilization. Over the course of your conversation, he admitted that he had once assaulted his brother, and from the description you gathered that his brother was none other than Bokken. As Richard pressured the old man about his assault, the hermit attacked. Vidarr was severely damaged as he was ambushed by the hermit’s animal companion, a large puma. During the assault, the old man also babbled that he was working for some mysterious woman to undermine the party and the foundation of Highpoint. After the fight, Dorian revealed that his Black Blade could detect agents of this mysterious woman, who he suspected was a nymph that had been plaguing his dreams. Solden and Richard raised concerns that Dorian might become possessed by his sword, but Dorian assured them otherwise. Amongst the hermit’s belongings, you found a map that indicated the tomb of the barbarian champion in the western Kamelands you all had recently cleansed was a possible portal to the First World. You also found a silver locket that contained a picture of a beautiful young woman that you all thought might belong to Bokken.
The next day was foggy and the forest increasingly turned into a swamp as you approached the Murque River. Vidarr guided you all through the fog, but you all emerged next to a small island. This mound was inhabited by a group of Lizardfolk who were hostile. Solden recalled tales of a mysterious Lizardfolk city that conducted trade with certain communities in the Stolen Lands. The Lizardfolk denied that they were part of this mythical community and insisted that you move on through their territory. After a few more attempts to open a dialogue, you all moved on.
Once you crossed the Murque River, you spent the next week exploring the southern reaches of the Narlmarches. The weather was overall cold, gloomy, and rainy. Finally, Vidarr caught the tracks of about ten trolls. He followed the tracks to some type of abandoned complex built into the side of a hill. There was a watchtower manned by one troll. Vidarr and Dorian took out the sentry and secured entry into the interior of the complex. This was clearly some type of military fortification built by humanoids, but no one in the party recognized the architectural style. Inside, your use of light sources alerted the rest of the Trolls and you all fought a series of running battles against the creatures and their three Trollhound allies. At the rear of the complex you all found that the constructed tunnels gave way to more natural tunnels. Proceeding through these new tunnels, you came to the leader and his retinue—2 Trolls, a Rock Troll, and an Ettin. The leader, who wielded a massive darkwood morningstar, identified himself as Hargulka and boasted that he had been sent to destroy your kingdom by a “faerie woman.” A fierce battle ensued, with Richard and Alinza very narrowly avoiding death, but in the end you all prevailed. Searching the lair you found a map of targets that the Trolls were supposed to raid, and you noted that any areas inhabited by fey were avoided. There were also some valuables as well as resources that would help you build up Highpoint. Bad weather rolled in with severe snowstorms, forcing you all to spend the next four days recuperating and training. It would be the 2nd of Kuthona before you all could begin your return trip back to Highpoint.