Session 10: Lamashtan 21 through Neth 15, 4710 AR
Richard has some news from the kingdom while the rest of you had been away. He had received two marriage proposals—one from House Surtova and one from House Orlovsky. House Surtova held the current kingship and was decidedly more Issian. House Orlovsky so far has refused to acknowledge Noleski Surtova as king, holding out for the possible return of a Rogarvian claimant. Rumors are swirling in Brevoy that Orlovsky, Garess, and Medyved are contemplating an alliance and declaring an open rebellion. If this were to occur, the Swordlords of Restov would surely throw their support behind the anti-Surtova faction. Neither of the young ladies offered to Richard has a sterling reputation—Sara Orlovsky is a prim and proper noblewoman who is known to be cheap with a fear of physical contact with others lest she contract a horrid disease, while Nyssa Surtova is an infamous gossip and wit as well as a notorious alcoholic. Richard and the rest of the party were not impressed with either choice. The rest of the ruling council was split, with Kesten advocating most strongly for marriage ties to Orlovsky, while Antau suggested that your new kingdom attach its fortune to the Surtova’s. In the end, you all agreed to send Antau to both parties asking for a formal meeting with these women, but the general feeling finally was to ally yourselves with Orlovsky. To make matters more interesting, the long-rumored marriage between Richard’s cousin Elanna (daughter of the Lebeda matriarch) and King Noleski has been announced, with nuptials to be held next summer.
In addition, Richard had received a delegation from the Temple of the Sacred Elk in Restov; the priesthood declared the new community heretics as long as you all allowed Jhod to establish his own temple to Erastil in Highpoint. Antau was to make a stop in Restov on his way to the Orlovsky and Surtova houses and see if he could smooth over this religious rift as well.
Meanwhile, Vidarr picked up a potential follower. Upon his return from your latest foray he was visited by a young man named Retawnair Lezart, who claimed to be a distant relation to one of Vidarr’s childhood friends from his home village. Retawnair had been raised as a bastard in Pitax, and when he found out the origins of his father, he sought out Tatzelford only to find the village destroyed. He did hear of the sole survivor, Vidarr, and tracked him down, wishing to enter Vidarr’s service as a squire in remembrance of his father. He raised the hackles of many in the party, however, by being too sycophantic and fawning. Dorian in particular took an immediate dislike to the young man. You all had Zander look into Retawnair’s story, and it checked out as far he could tell.
On the morning of the 22nd, Solden was approached by Tristan Miegerson, a local dairy farmer, who claimed that his whole herd of cows had been slaughtered by some type of mysterious beast on the previous night. Bidding the farmer to stay safely in town, Solden rounded up the rest of the party and went to investigate. At the farm, amidst the slaughter of Miegerson’s herd inside of a barn, Vidarr found the tracks of what appeared to be a worg or wolf, Alinza also determined that the cows had not only been killed, but partially eaten. The tracks led to a grove of trees where they disappeared, but Vidarr found a set of human footprints that led back to town.
Convinced that you all had a werewolf on the prowl, you all sought out the advice of Jhod, but he was of no help as he was shaken by the parallels that had led to his own exile. Vidarr left to organize patrols while Richard went to the Timely Traveler inn to see if there were rumors of any strangers in town. Sure enough, the inn’s owner Tessa Oldwyne revealed that a strange, quiet Kellid tribesman has come to town recently, and that he’d been spending much of his time drinking or sleeping in his room at the inn and not coming down until late in the day. Even as they spoke, Tessa pointed out the man who as he entered the common area. Richard went over and struck up a conversation. The man’s name was Kundal and he had arrived in the region recently looking for work as a sellsword. He did indicate that for the past few months he had been plagued by dreams of blood and fury and has been drinking himself into oblivion each night to stop the dreams.
Convinced that Kundal was the werewolf, Richard summoned Alinza to distract him with her feminine wiles while he consulted with Vidarr, Solden, and Dorian on what to do. Vidarr suggested that you all take the barbarian to Jhod for a cure, but upon visiting Jhod you all found that he was not nearly powerful enough to remove such a curse. The other alternative according to Vidarr was to feed Kundal a brew containing the poisonous plant wolfsbane. Vidarr spent a few hours in the countryside and tracked down some of this plant while the others brought barbarian to Jhod. You all told Kundal the truth of his condition and he agreed to undergo the cure. The poison almost killed him, but also cured him. He then pledged his axe to Richard as a personal bodyguard and was also quite smitten with Alinza.
As the month turned to Neth, you all spent your kingdom’s growing resources on securing more territory up the Thorn River, where the rudiments of a bridge were already in place. There were no major disturbances, and with the kingdom seemingly well in hand, you all set out on the 8th to continue your exploration of the southern Greenbelt with Retawnair in tow.
The 9th found you at the far eastern end of your territory between the Shrike and Gudrin Rivers. There you found an isolated barrow mound that was not easily distinguished from the other grassy knolls dotting the landscape; where the earth near the mound subsided, a crack had opened in the side of the barrow. You all dismounted and decided to investigate. After going back 10 feet into a man-made tunnel, you came out an octagonal chamber whose walls were decorated with crude mosaics of simple village life: hunting, fishing, and farming. A thick carpet of guano crawling with insects covered the floor and the sharp tang of ammonia hung in the air. A cobweb-filled tunnel to the east led deeper underground. Vidarr was alerted to the fact that there were probably a couple of bat swarms lurking in this chamber and suggested waiting until night when they cleared out before exploring further.
Heeding his advice, you all resumed your exploration once the swarms had emerged to hunt. The eastern tunnel debouched into a room, one of four exits from another circular chamber, each at one of the four the cardinal directions. Four large monstrous faces, carved from stone, leered and grimace from each of the walls between the tunnel entrances. A skeleton sprawled facedown in the middle of the room. As Richard and Alinza moved into the room to scout, the four faces seemed to inhale deeply, then breathed out black tendrils of mist that sap the strength of the two scouts. Alinza was only slightly fatigued, but Richard was thoroughly exhausted. At the same time, you all heard movement coming from each of the tunnels, and shortly a skeletal army emerged. Six skeletons clad in chain mail with wooden shields and long swords emerged from each of the northern and southern tunnels, while their leader appeared from the eastern tunnel. The leader wore chain mail and wooden shield but wielded a finely-crafted bastard sword. Green energy crackled from the eye sockets of the leader as well as his sword. After a fierce fight, you all emerged victorious, but not before Dorian was brought to the brink of death by the foul skeletal warrior. In addition, the creature seemed to drain some of Dorian’s life essence with a strike from the sword, leaving him weakened. Also during the battle, Retawnair displayed some talent as a bard, with his martial beat infusing Alinza, Solden, and Richard with its power. Dorian and Vidarr were still suspicious, however, and refused to be influenced by the music. Searching the complex once the enemies were defeated, you all found only a magical ring that would sustain a person without food or water.
Solden’s knowledge of history supplied the following legend to possibly account for the barrow and its place here in the western Kamelands. There was an ancient barbarian warlord, his name long lost to history, who was interred in a crypt somewhere in the Stolen Lands. Although the warlord was laid to rest in an impressive tomb along with his loyal guardsmen, the greedy brother who succeeded him claimed his fallen kin’s magic weapon as his own, neglecting to bury the warlord with his trusty weapon. Angered at this blasphemy and the desecration of its remains, the warlord’s spirit arose as an undead menace not long after. He sought out the treacherous brother, killed him, and then returned to his cairn with the reclaimed weapon. Supposedly the sword bears a terrible curse for anyone who should ever wrest it from the barbarian warlord’s eternal grasp.
Over the next few days you all continued your exploration, encountering a band of kobolds on the 10th. This fight was not as easy as it should have been as the kobolds’ used magic and alchemical weapons to harass the party. You captured one of these creatures, and under interrogation it revealed that fighting between the Tiger Lord Barbarians and the new Brevic colony at Drelev Keep in the Hooktongue Slough was driving many local creatures to flee that area.
Increasingly, the party became convinced that something was off about Retawnair. Alinza detected a moderate evil coming from the young bard while he slept and on the 11th you all confronted him. Before you could get any satisfactory answers, however, Dorian attacked him. The blow that the Magus delivered with his sword should have killed most beings, but the bard somehow survived, then using magic became invisible and escaped. A determined party tracked him north to Nettle’s Crossing on the Shrike River, where you lost the trail. Richard and Vidarr were appalled at Dorian’s rash action, while Solden and Dorian insisted that the mere fact that he was evil justified an attack.
The bickering party headed back to Highpoint, still undecided what to do. As you all passed the barrow mound on the 13th, a horde of Mites burst forth but you all quickly dispatched them. Early on the afternoon of the 15th, the weary and beset party finally arrived back in Highpoint.