Session 9: Rova 1 through Lamashtan 20, 4710 AR
The month of Rova was busy for the party. The leadership of Restov provided you all with 200,000 Gp worth of start-up funds. This first month of the new kingdom saw you all build a two block complex for the administration of Highpoint’s government and administration as well a housing complex on the east central border of the community. You all also had to decide on leadership roles for the kingdom. Richard was named King, Solden took on the role of Magister, Vidarr agreed to become Marshal, Alinza chose Warden, and Dorian decided to become the Royal Enforcer. Oleg then approached you all with a proposal to ultimately annex his trading post as part of your kingdom. In return, he offered his services as Treasurer and Sevetlana agreed to join the court as the kingdom’s Councilor. There was heated debate over the establishment of a religion in town. Vidarr didn’t care, Richard advocated for Erastil, Alinza and Dorian favored Pharasma but were open to any of the local religions, while Solden wanted an open faith society. You all discussed several options and in the end acknowledged that you needed one official kingdom religion to promote stability and that the religion that would draw the most settlers to a new frontier kingdom would be Erastil. Solden did, however, win out on his point that other religions were to be allowed to establish temples in the kingdom as well. The candidates for the High Priest position came down to Jhod and Trudarr Belthame, an ambitious young priest sent from the Temple of the Sacred Stag in Restov. Vidarr and Dorian were immediately put off by Trudarr’s brash personality, but it was also clear that Jhod was hiding something. Upon questioning, you all learned that Jhod had been excommunicated from his temple in Galt because he disobeyed orders and killed an innocent man. There had been a series of killings that looked to be the work of wolf-like creatures in his home town and Jhod was convinced that a local malcontent was a werewolf. His elders were not convinced and ordered Jhod to wait until they had more proof, but the headstrong cleric disobeyed them, rounded up a mob and murdered the man. The next day, local hunters returned with the bodies of a pack of worgs that had been responsible for the killings. Jhod was sent into exile and had since been wandering the River Kingdoms seeking for a place to start a new temple as atonement for his pride. He claimed that Erastil’s visions had driven him to the Stolen Lands and he was convinced that your new kingdom was the answer to his dilemma. The party reluctantly sided with Jhod and Trudarr returned to Restov very unhappy. In the eyes of the established Erastil clergy, you all have sided with a heretic. The final three slots of the council were filled by Kesten Garess as general, Antau as Grand Diplomat (on a provisional basis), and a mercenary from Galt named Zander (on a provisional basis). By the end of the Highpoint had swelled to 750 people and the council provided funds to begin construction of an inn and expand your territory to the river crossing where the Thorn River flowed into the Shrike. You all also began working on installing farms and roads in the immediate vicinity of Highpoint while keeping taxes at reasonable levels.
By Lamashtan 8, you all were convinced that things were running smoothly enough that you could continue your exploration of the southern Greenbelt. Richard agreed to stay behind just in case. Your initial foray was to secure the lands around the Tuskwater and Candlemere. You all immediately came across a huge Worg, a notorious predator known as Howl-of-the-North, leading a pack of three dire wolves. The fight was fierce in the driving rain. Dorian, Alinza, and George were seriously wounded, but you all won.
On the 9th you all encountered the legendary giant snapping turtle known as Old Crackjaw. This beast was something of a legend to fishermen and boaters of the Tuskwater—a seemingly indestructible reptile that had supposedly attacked and killed dozens of fisherman and even caused no less than five boats to sink or flounder. You dispatched the beast with little effort.
Lamashtan 10 saw you all traversing the southern edge of the Tuskwater where you found an expansive area of geothermal activity that created a mud mire. In the middle of this mire you all encountered a horrible plant that was 20 feet tall with a thick trunk capped by a crown of wide leaves, whipping vines, mushrooms, and a ravenous purple maw. Fortunately for you all, you had the high ground and plenty of ranged fire attacks that allowed you to take it out before you felt its vicious attacks. Vidarr discovered some rare and valuable mushrooms known as Black Rattlecaps.
The 11th greeted you all with a dense fog as you came to the Shrike River and the southeastern shore of Candlemere. At about midday, booming from the fog was a voice singing in guttural giant about love lost and good whiskey. Vidarr identified this creature as a Hill Giant. The party had heard tales of a brutish hill giant wandering the southern Kamelands. Vidarr parlayed with the creature, who called himself Munguk. This miserable wretch had been in the company of some trolls, who drive him out. He had been wandering since then and was frustrated by not being able to find a female and the fact that he was running out of wolfberry whiskey. Vidarr convinced Munguk to head west towards Pitax where there fine Hill Giant women and plenty of whiskey.
Continuing your journey on the 12th, you all came to the shores of Candlemere. Leaves from the Narlmarches collect year round within the clear depths of this lake. In spring and summer, the lake reflects the colors trapped below in vibrant greens and rainbow bursts of flowering hues. By autumn, fiery reds, oranges, and yellows blaze through the water. In winter, the oft-frozen surface hides depthless blacks that make the lake appear as unfathomable as the night sky. Legends say that drinking from the Candlemere can, depending on the season, grant long life, cut a life short, intoxicate, or invigorate. In the middle of the lake lies a hilly island covered in mysterious willows, surrounding the ruins of an ancient, crumbling tower. This lake is notorious in the Stolen Lands for being haunted. Stories from fishermen, explorers, bandits, and tradesmen alike support these legends with eerie tales of strange lights dancing upon the waters, blood-curdling cries from what could be lost souls, and mysterious sightings of shapes rippling in the lake’s dark waters. You all did not notice anything out the ordinary in your initial survey of the area, but it is almost certain that you would need to clear the island should you wish to claim this territory eventually.
The 13th brought you back around to the western shores of the Tuskwater and to a dilapidated mud-brick hut squatting atop a small hummock in the middle of a fetid marsh, a thin tendril of bluish smoke trickling through a gaping hole in its moss-covered roof. A wooden fence surrounding the perimeter of the mound was festooned with crude fetishes crafted out of sticks, feathers, and animal bones. A lone crow cawed noisily from the top of a nearby cypress tree and a scarecrow was propped up midway between the gate and the door to the hut. The region around the hut was an 80 foot diameter area of solid ground, thick with bog grass and dotted with small cattail-clogged pools. This solid region was surrounded by a waist-high wooden fence, in which a single gate hung askew. A fist-sized rusted iron bell extended from a hairy length of rope tied to a crooked post next to the gate. Local rumor speaks of a hag called the Swamp Witch who lives along this section the Tuskwater. She supposedly consorts with demons and steals children, boiling them in her magic cauldron according to some, while others hold that the Swamp Witch is friendly enough if you call out to her before you enter her yard, with those foolish enough to trespass end up working for her as scarecrows or worse! While Alinza and Vidarr stayed back in the swamp, Solden and Dorian rang the bell and called out. An aged human woman with greenish skin, pointed ears, and tangled filthy hair bearing a staff appeared at the door of the hut and demanded to know why you were trespassing. Dorian’s sword immediately identified her as fey-touched and potentially dangerous. Solden attempted to open a friendly dialogue, but the old woman snapped and accused the two elves of work for some mysterious woman. She claimed that the woman had sent the elves as assassins. When Solden failed to calm her down, she retreated inside the hut and her scarecrow lurched to life and attacked Dorian. The supernatural power of the scarecrow had Dorian cowering in fear, but Vidarr’s arrows and Solden’s magic defeated the unnatural construct. Freed from his magical enchantment, a furious Dorian charged the old woman’s hut, intent on killing her. He was aided by Alinza, who called upon the power of Pharasma to show the old crone her future doom. In the melee, the hut caught of fire from a magical wand of flames use by the witch, but you all were able to salvage some loot from the witch’s body and her hut, including a scroll with a powerful spell that allowed wizards of sorcerers to find obscure legends and lore about the distant past.
Bedraggled and weary, you all returned to Highpoint and spent the next week recovering, training, and administering the city. Solden began work on some magical items for Dorian, while townsfolk rewarded you for your efforts in eliminating local menaces. Arven Silverscales, head of the local fishermen’s guild, presented Vidarr with a magical ring that slowed down a person’s fall as a reward for killing Old Crackjaw. Furthermore, the local farmers presented you all with 1200 gold pieces for ridding the region of Howl-of-the-North’s depredations. As you head towards the end of the month, the city is thriving and headed towards a population of 1,000.