Calistril 18 through Pharast 7, 4710 AR
You all met with Lord Mayor Joseph Sellemius and Swordlord Jamandi Aldori and received a charter to explore and chart the northern section of the Greenbelt. More specifically, each of you is to receive 1000 Gp for ending the plague of banditry in the region. These bandits seem to be organized behind a mysterious figure known only as the Stag Lord. Sellemius gave you official documents and sent on your way to Oleg’s Trading Post. Dorian and Peter warned you all to tread carefully as they sensed that perhaps the party was being used as political pawns in the ongoing tensions between Rostlanders and Issians over the control of Brevoy that had been going on since the disappearance of the Rogarvia royal family eleven years earlier.
The journey to Oleg’s was beset by bad weather and several hostile encounters. On the second day, you all stopped at the small village of Nivakta’s Crossing, where you purchased additional supplies for your journey and caught up on the latest rumors. On the third day out, the party was attacked by a Tatzylwyrm, a regional primitive dragon that was a local pest. Dorian was severely wounded before the rest of the party slew the dragon. Antau and Alinza were able to use natural and magical methods to heal Dorian so that he was well enough to travel. The next day, you all became lost as a snowstorm swept through the region. This significantly delayed your journey as did the accumulated snow. You arrived at Fort Serenko on Calistril 25. This military garrison of 2000 troops is the southernmost military outpost of Brevoy. Here you resupplied while Alinza paid her respects to Pharasma. On the 26th, a Werewolf attacked your camp at night. Antau managed to subdue the creature, but not before Egbert was severely wounded. While Antau and Alinza tended Egbert’s wounds, Dorian determined that the Werewolf was a natural lycanthrope and not simply a poor soul cursed with the condition, and you all executed the creature by burning it alive. Alinza took the creature’s finely-wrought sword as a reward, with the rest of the gear was put on the wagon to sell. On the 27th, you all encountered another snowstorm, but this time Peter remembered that he had a spell that would keep you all from getting lost. The party was in a brief fight with a small herd of local elks that were spooked by the weather and had run across the party’s path. Vidarr was not able to calm them down and you all had to kill three of them. Vidarr and Egbert then skinned the dead elk for some meat while Antau and Alinza tended to others in the party who had received minor wounds in the skirmish.
You finally passed into the Greenbelt on Calistril 28. You decided to begin exploring and mapping the territory as you made your way west towards Oleg’s. Over the next four days, you all explored and mapped the 24 square miles of plains to the east of Oleg’s. You encountered a hermit named Bokken who was skilled at alchemy. He agreed to give you a discount on his services if you supplied him with a local fruit known as fangberries so that he could make some of his famous liquor. One night your camp was attacked by a pair of wolves drawn to the scent of your horses, but you easily drove them off.
When you arrived at Oleg’s of the 5th of Pharast, the sleet and hail that dogged your journey this day was a foreshadowing of the gloomy reception your received. You all found Oleg burying the body of a local hunter named Jory who had been slain during a bandit raid on Oleg’s four days earlier. Alinza eased the situation by offering to bury Jory with the blessings of Pharasma in honor of the Day of Bones holiday. Oleg was highly upset that you had not arrived in time to confront the bandits. After a meal prepared by his wife Svetlana, you received the following story about the bandit activity in the region.
The bandits’ first visit was 4 months ago—they threatened to burn down the trading post and abduct Svetlana for their own amusements back at their camp if the Levetons didn’t agree to hand over all of the furs and trade goods they’d accumulated over the past month from hunters and trappers. Since then, the bandits have returned three more times, each time within an hour of sunrise on the first day of the month. The Levetons have learned to have their “taxes” ready and hand them over quickly—the bandits usually seem eager to return to their camp somewhere in the Greenbelt, which makes Svetlana think their camp is about 1 day away. The first time the bandits visited, there were a dozen of them—10 lower-ranking thugs led by a cloaked man armed with a bow, and a woman who carried two small hatchets. The woman did the majority of the talking on that first trip, and her black sense of humor and the way she smiled when she spoke of what fate would await Svetlana if the Levetons didn’t comply frightened Svetlana all the more. The woman also seemed to be particularly sharp and observant, whereas the man seemed to be a bit more crude and foolish. The fact that the woman quite nearly lopped off Oleg’s right hand with one of her hatchets in a cruel bit of mockery, convinced the Levetons that she was the most dangerous of the bandits. As it was, the woman took Svetlana’s wedding ring right off her hand and tossed it to one of her men as payment for “not shortening Oleg’s reach.” On the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th visits, only the hooded man, whose name was Happs Bydon, came with 6 bandits. The Levetons suspect that the bandits have let down their guard and think the owners of the trading post are completely cowed. Disaster struck on the last visit as Jory was present. He offered resistance, which led the bandits to mercilessly cut him down. Oleg revealed that all the bandits wore a silver medallion shaped like a stag’s head and that the regular bandits were equipped with finely-crafted studded leather armor, customized short bows, and short swords.
Dorian asked Vidarr if he could pick up any tracks, and the ranger was able to pick up a very faint trail. You all decided to push on and track the bandits to their lair before the trail petered out completely. The trail led into the Narlmaches. The going was slow due to intermittent sleet. On the night of Pharast 7th, you all noticed what might be a campfire. As Vidarr, Antau, Dorian, and Joey the monkey investigated, Antau and Dorian realized that the light was a trap meant to lure you all into a patch of deadly quicksand. At that moment Antau was attacked and electrocuted by a strange creature made of light that electrocuted him and put him on the brink of death. Vidarr and Dorian then dragged Antau back to Alinza for healing. Based on Joey’s description of the beast, Solden determined that this had been a creature known as a Will-O’-Wisp. The next morning, Vidarr lost the trail, but using the party compasses and Vidarr and Solden’s knowledge of geography, you all determined that the bandit’s destination was about 6 miles due southwest, probably on the banks of the Thorn River.
During your journeys, the party came across the following 10 common rumors:
1: Breeg Orlivanch, a foul-mannered trapper, has been missing for some time—they say he gave up trapping and joined the bandits!
2: Some of the bandits wear silver amulets that resemble a stag’s skull—these bandits belong to a debased cult dedicated to a hideous animal demon.
3: There used to be a bridge crossing the Shrike River to the southeast, but bandits ruined it. They say the old bridge keeper Davik Nettles haunts the place now.
4: The bandits are getting braver and more organized, and there’s whispers that they have a new leader—a man who dresses in animal’s bones and calls himself the Stag Lord.
5: Bandits aren’t the only things in the Kamelands that cause trouble—there’s a tribe of kobolds and a tribe of mites living somewhere in the hills too. They aren’t as much trouble as the bandits, but their presence certainly makes the idea of settling the land less attractive.
6: The primary trade route from the River Kingdoms to Brevoy is the East Sellen River, a major waterway that runs through a swampy region to the west called the Hooktongue Slough. The trade route has been closed for several months, though, due to an increased amount of violence from the boggard tribes that dwell there—hopefully the frog folk keep to the swamp and don’t turn their bulging eyes east toward the Narlmarches!
7: A group of evil monks and priests of a lesser-known goddess of hatred, extortion, and spite once dwelt on the northern shore of the Tuskwater to the south. I bet there are still cultists out there, and that they’re behind the sudden rise in banditry!
8: Some people report that a unicorn lives in the Narlmarches, but sightings of the magnificent creature have fallen off in recent months. Perhaps the unicorn was driven out by the bandits?
9: Taldan colonists once made an attempt to settle in the Stolen Lands. They failed, but not for lack of resources. There are supposedly some old and abandoned mines somewhere in the Kamelands—and some folks believe that there’s gold in the hills!
10: A traveling wizard, who went missing in the Stolen Lands a while back. His spellbook is probably just rotting away in the underbrush or in some monster’s lair.