Kingmaker_Boise

Journal of James Peyton - Day 45
Attack on the Stag Lord's Fortress!

The fortress was within sight. The party was assembled—Neudvin, Tyberia, Caimbuel, Deridian, myself, and even the kobold—we made our final preparations, decided upon our strategy, and we waited.

The sun had set, behind the forests in the West, and the time of our attack had come. Saddled horses met their riders, and we set down the meandering road to the fortress. Our plan was simple, Caimbuel would enter the fortress, open the gate, and the rest of us would rush in to greet the bandits with steel and arrowheads. But even the simplest of plans could be foiled.

We were close, nearly there, when dead hands burst forth from the earth beneath us. Zombies, the living dead. We should have known the Stag Lord was not so foolish as to leave his fortress so readily assailable. A trap we had sprung, but Caimbuel, without delay, took action. Disappearing into the darkness, he ran to the fortress.

After being taken by surprise, we rallied. Swords in hand, Neudvin and I began delivering them to a final rest. But it was Deridian who proved invaluable in dealing with these soulless distractions. Waves of warmth spread through the ether, healing and comforting to us, devastating to the zombies. Yet as we destroyed them, they continued to rise from the earth. Luckily, Caimbuel pulled through.

The gate to the fortress opened a little; not enough to ride through, but we squeezed inward. Leaving the zombies that had greeted us outside the fortress, we sealed the gate and immediately set lines. To my surprise, we had taken the bandits by…surprise. Unorganized, dysfunctional, their early attempts to repel us were feeble. But soon they nearly overwhelmed us.

What the bandits lacked in organization and discipline, they made up for in sheer numbers and raw strength. While most were weak, some hit hard. The ring of steel on steel sounded throughout the fortress as their weapons clapped against our full-plate. But when they managed to find the weakness in my armor, the effect was devastating. Countless blows and cuts I suffered throughout the battle. But Erastil was with me, and Deridian proved an invaluable ally. When I fell—and many times indeed did I fall—I felt the wounds suddenly close as Deridian’s healing, or my own, saved me.

But let me not get ahead of myself; early in the battle I called out for Ox. Kressel, one of the Stag Lord’s first lieutenants we encountered (and executed) told of him. A man that was arguably stronger than the Stag Lord himself, that served at the Stag Lord’s right hand. I called for him, challenged him to come face me. And he did.

A massive beast of a man, his only weapon a large club. He did not come at our line from the front. Instead, he came at our flank, but I turned and met him there. He was strong, but slow. He fought without thought. Swings, wide and wild. It was not long before I vanquished him; with one swing, I blew past his club, knocking it aside, and severed his head from his body. The finality of his death pleased me, this man was beyond redemption.

Retaking my place on the battle line next to Neudvin, I saw the unthinkable; a cage, off to the right, was opened, and from within came an owlbear. At first I wondered, “how had they tamed and trained such a beast?” But my question was answered as the owlbear beat aside the bandits that were stacked before our battle line. It wasn’t long till we met the creature. Its reach was long, but Neudvin and I got close in. Using our swords, and with the help of the others, we brought the creature down.

At this point in the battle, I remember thinking that we must be nearly done. Few bandits were left, perhaps the Stag Lord was among the already dead? And then I felt it; a lancing pain in my shoulder, followed by a deep burn. The fletching on the arrow looked expertly done, by I could not see the bow that fired it. Two more pierced my plate, then Tyberia, using her magic, conjured up a thick fog.

Having not nearly enough time to treat the wounds I had suffered, I rejoined Neudvin on the line. Another had made his presense, a man in armor. He fought with a strange mix of brutality and care, against Neudvin and I in the fog. But we did not focus on him for long, as the guest of honor finally arrived.

Wearing a helm made of the skull of a stag, the man who must’ve been the Stag Lord appeared before us in the fog. Lacking any coverings or apparent armor, his craggy body was allowed to display it’s strength. The bow hanging on his back, it must have been the source of those three painful arrows, I had thought to myself. Ignoring the armored other, Neudvin and I focused on the Stag Lord. With all our might we were bound to bring him down.

Erastil and all the gods were with us in the battle, for it seemed that my sword would not miss nor waiver. Not only that, but the armored man, whom I had assumed to be one of the Stag Lord’s lieutenants, turned on his captain. The betrayal an obvious surprise to the Stag Lord.

A succession of cuts, stabs, swipes, and arrow piercings brought the Stag Lord to brink of consciousness, and I pushed him over the edge. I quickly checked to see that he was alive, still breathing, I didn’t want to kill the Stag Lord (not yet anyway). I ordered the other man, the Stag Lord’s betrayer, to drop his weapons, I was to place him under arrest. He seemed confused, and resisted at first, but he soon became exhausted and compliant.

I spared no time shackling the Stag Lord with all three of the manacles I had in my possession. Keeping a careful watch on them both, I surveyed what I could. The rest of the party seemed just as victorious, and just as battered and beaten, as Neudvin and I had been.

As the dust began to settle, the armored man identified himself as Akiros. He presented an Erastillian holy symbol. He told his story: his fall from grace, his search for atonement, the opportunity to get close to the Stag Lord, and eventually bring him to justice. With caution, we welcomed Akiros to join us.

There was one other thing Akiros mentioned: the Stag Lord’s father. He lived beneath the fortress, in a small cave system. Dangerous and brutal, like father like son. It was rumored that the Stag Lord’s father beat and maimed the child, till he was old enough to overthrow him. Would he end up being more dangerous than his son? We left that as a question to be answered the next day.

We secured the fortress, secured our prisoner, and took some much needed rest.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 44

Today we returned to the far North Western corner of our charter. The land here had been neglected, both from our early searches and by the presence of settlers. A strange quiet blankets this region.

Befittingly, we came upon a cairn. The size and careful arrangement of the stones bespoke the care the makers had for the entombed. Tyberia detected a faint magical aura from within. Studying the cairn, I tried to recall some clue as to what type of person laid within. No firm answer came back to me. Perhaps the person was an Aldori sword-master. Or maybe a leader, taking his people on some exodus through the Stolen Lands. Or it could be a simple farmer, who died knowing the love of his family. Unfortunately I could not discern anything from my examination.

Neudvin, taking a more tactile approach, attempted to remove one of the stones. I fear that it was not of scholarly curiosity that fueled Neudvin, but perhaps something more from envy or greed, driven by wanting to discover (and possess) the magic that Tyberia sensed within. But the fortunes smiled upon the dead, as Neudvin found the work too difficult, especially without help.

Finding nothing else of note, we finally headed back to Oleg’s.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 43

I do not know what it is about the boars in these parts, but they are especially vicious.

So the day went by mostly uneventfully. In fact, Neudvin nearly fell of his horse sometime midday. But luckily we had a watch for the night though. Out of the thicket, three boars assailed us.

Feral and wild these creatures were. Feral, wild, but clumsy and stupid. They fiercely lashed about, attempting to impale one of us on their horns, but their attacks were predictable. We ended up dispatching them quickly. In fact, I even went as far as to change my sword-style, opting for a two-handed style. It proved advantages against one of the boars; I cleft it in two with one stroke.

I can see why Neudvin prefers swords that favor that style. But what would happen if the opponents we fought were tougher than boar?

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 42

Having abandoned our siege of the Stag Lord’s fortress before it started, we journeyed along the Shrike river; making a meandering path back to Oleg’s to get the rest of the group.

It was not long before we found a caged mite standing sentry outside of what we originally thought to be an abandoned silver mine. Finding a stick nearby, I poked the mite till he awoke. He explained that he was captured in a “big battle” (likely no more than 20 combatants). He was brought back and caged, here, at the kobold’s lair.

Not wanting to leave the poor mite to suffer his fate, clutched in the claws of the kobolds, I gave him a swift and merciful death. Tyberia objected, but alas, I believe it was the best course of action.

Again, as we knew Caimbuel would want to take part in our dealings with the kobolds, we departed and moved on.

Further down the river, we came upon a bridge, rotting and creaking in its disrepair. A small, crude sign read “ring bell for service”. Looking about, I couldn’t see any sign of a caretakers house or hovel. Nor of anyone nearby. So whether out of curiosity or amusement, one of us rang the bell (I cannot recall who). A zombie, his skin mottled and decaying, arose from the river.

To my surprise, this…creature did not attack. No, instead he identified himself as Davick Nettle, and he said that the bridge was his crossing. I recall from some of the texts that I’ve read that most undead are either called back by some evil magic, or they stay in their state of living death because of some strong connection they still have to the mortal world. For Davick, it was apparently the latter.

He told us his story; living with his family, near the crossing as it’s caretaker. The Stag Lord and his men would come and do what all thugs do: intimidate and steal. This apparently continued for a time until, on one unfortunate occasion, it went too far; the Nettle family died in their burning house. So Davick waits, submerged in the Shrike river, for someone to bring him the Stag Lord. We promised him that we would give our best effort to bring his body to the river.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 41

Doubt.

Try as I might to stave it off, it encroaches deeper and deeper into my mind…into my thoughts…

We found the fortress of the Stag lord today—or at the very least, what is most likely to be his fortress—Tiberia, Neudvin, and I. Just a little ways from the Tuskwater, up on a small hillock, it stands. And though it is small, simple, unassuming, I can’t help but feel some hesitance about it. Not the fortress itself, but the current of actions that have brought us to this point—to this place—and where they might lead after.

We waited till nightfall; hiding our mounts in a nearby copse of trees, we proceeded on foot. Tiberia, being the most adept among us in the ways of scouting and sneaking, surveyed the perimeter of the place: three towers, a ruined building in the center. Chief amongst her findings was a possible hole in their defenses: the south eastern corner has no tower, nor do the eyes of the guards in the towers look to that corner. It seems a good entry point, one that we will likely exploit when the time comes. But I wonder… what if they do not protect that corner because they do not need to? What if some trap lies nearer to the wall than Tiberia ventured? Or even worse, on the other side of it? But then again, I must remind myself that these are bandits. Oversight, lack of discipline, unfinished thinking, these things are in their nature. And if they have laid a trap, I am sure of the abilities of my friends that we will overcome them.

But still, the doubt plagues me. I worry; not about the fortress or the Stag lord—though to be sure, I will need to be vigilant during the assault to protect the others—but about everything around us. I feel like I’m standing in the center of a great tent. Near me, a solid beam of wood keeps the tent pitched. But from all sides great winds are blowing. Winds of change and uncertainty. They beckon me to push the beam over, to bring the tent down. And so far I have traveled, fought, and bled to do just that. But now that I’m so near, I worry.

I was so convinced that this is the right and just thing to do. That the Stag lord was evil, corrupt, and only good would come of ridding the land of him—and I still feel that he is as evil as I thought him before. And surely, my travels in these lands have only gone further to prove it—but I now question what will happen when he dies? What will happen when I kick the beam over and the tent collapses? Will the winds trap me and the others inside? To share his fate? Surely, the lords of Restov are more honorable than to do such a thing, but why do they take such great interest in his demise? He is a brigand and a blight, but why do they care so intensely? And perhaps I would not worry so, but others have shown their interest too. Even from as far as Cheliax?

This is bigger than the Stag lord, bigger than just one man. Great winds of change are blowing, and I find myself honor- and duty-bound, compelled, to act in accordance with their wishes. But what will come of it? Doubt and uncertainty, and no shelter can I find. Pray as I might, the voice is quiet and distant where it was once commanding and resolute. The Parables offer no help or guidance either. Have I strayed from the path Erastil has laid before me? Is that why his voice has grown so quiet?

I was so sure when I started this venture that I was fulfilling my oath; that I was acting in accordance with my faith. Now all I have is doubt. But my friends give me strength, and I must continue to give them strength. It is their dedication, their devotion, and their kind hearts that I must turn to now. And just as I need them, I’m sure they need me. They need me to continue to be who I always was to them: a loyal protector, always willing to be the first into danger, and the last to safety; a true friend, giving them the wisest and most honest counsel I can muster; and an indomitable law-bringer, pursuing justice and bringing order, no matter what the cost.

And soon we will see where this enterprise of ours has lead us. We will know to what end those winds were blowing. As Erastil himself has put it, one way or another, we will reap what we have sown. Soon it will come to a head, and we will have resolution.

Soon…there is no doubt about that.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 40

Tiny speckles of blood are scattered about this page.

Well, today was quite the adventure. It was clear this morning that we wanted to leave the village. It provided good shelter for the night, but the whole place unnerved me, as I’m sure it unnerved the others. So Tyberia, Neudvin, and I left and headed west.

Damn, I’m still bleeding in places. I’ll get to that soon enough, but first, I think I’ll apply more bandages…there, I think I’ve covered all these damn little cuts, bites, and scratches.

Okay, so we were heading west. It wasn’t too long before we saw a small valley, within which were shrubs edge to edge, all covered in white silk. I didn’t realize it, but Tyberia pointed out that it was spider silk. As we ventured closer, leaving our mounts behind, she also identified the bushes to be fang berry bushes. Apparently, fang berries are quite valuable and have alchemical uses. So we took what containers we had and ventured into the thicket. Having much knowledge of plants, Tyberia lead us to the center; apparently the best berries could be harvested there.

Luckily I was wearing armor, because I swear by the gods those berries were nearly impossible to gather. Barbs and tangles greeted my gauntleted hand more often than the berries we were trying to collect. Suffice it to say that the number I collected paled in comparison to the others, but at least I got some. It wasn’t long after I was just beginning to get the hang of picking these pesky berries that we heard a great chittering sound from all around us. Soon we saw them, what must have been hundreds and hundreds of spiders rushing towards us. The others noticed them first, and they fled. My arm was caught in a bush, but I soon freed it and ran as fast as I could.

I could feel them as I ran, biting and scratching underneath my armor. I chose to fight through the pain and keep running, so that I would not be overtaken by the greater part of the swarm. With haste I removed my armor upon leaving the thicket, and Tyberia rolled me across the ground.

My wounds are not serious, but they cover my body in many places. I think I will rest for the rest of the evening and read the Chelaxian book I discovered earlier. I’m hoping that it will provide me with some insight that can be used when the envoy arrives, but we shall see.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 39

The rest of the charter bearers left this morning to head back to Oleg’s. Hopefully they will get the place in order for the arrival of the Chelaxian delegation. In the meanwhile, Neudvin, Tyberia, and myself, the trio, ventured further southward to a nearby river.

Of all the sites I have seen in these River Kingdoms, this was perhaps the most alarming and worrisome. We did not find some heretofore unknown monster, nor did we uncover some terrible dark secret. No. Instead, we came upon a village.

A village of buildings in good repair. Located next to the river for food and water. Yet, it was entirely abandoned. None other than us was there. And no one came to the village for the whole day. As we explored, we found no signs of violence or struggle. It was as if the people of the place just vanished. I pray that they left their homes to distance themselves from the bandits and the Stag lord. The unimaginable alternatives shake me to the very core. Yet, I must show a stern face; a solid countenance so that I do not seed my unease within my friends.

We explored the surrounding lands, but finding nothing we returned to the village to rest for the night. We must be close to Stag lord’s stronghold…I will advise the others against lighting a fire tonight.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 38

We went back to Oleg’s to meet the rest of the charter bearers. Having rested and readied ourselves, the charter bearers, Neudvin, Tyberia, and myself ventured southward.

I must say, it is comforting to be accompanied by all of my compatriots friends again. It has been too long that we journeyed out in smaller numbers—and only by the grace of Erastil survived for as long as we have—and it was good that we had the strength in numbers that we did today.

Before long, we discovered the signs of battle. Kobolds, as well as smallish blue creatures, with large black-lidded eyes, lied dead on the earth. It was obvious that a clash of arms lead to their demise, and as it is our duty to establish order in this land, we followed the trail of bodies.

Eventually, we came upon a mound, topped with a sycamore tree, wherein laired one of the belligerents in the earlier battles. Our kobold friend, the one Caimbuel had taken guardianship of, told us that these blue-skinned creatures, these mites, had been rivals and enemies of the kobolds in the area for quite some time. In their latest raid, the mites managed to steal a statue, one depicting a large kobold with wings, apparently the god of the kobolds. Shortly after the theft of the statue, the kobolds started to take ill.

Well, the mites tried to put up a fight, but their muster did not match our tactical expertise and superior armament. In fact, I would almost feel sorry for them, but they were not so deserving of my pity as I originally thought; just as I was feeling their would be no real challenge within their lair, what I’m sure was their leader confronted us. I will give credit to the little fiend, he, and especially the huge tick upon which he rode into battle, were a powerful force, nothing to besmirch. But, he did not have the friends that I have, nor did he know the grace of Erastil. Although it got pretty rough, he, just like the rest of our foes, met his end.

Within the den of the mite lord we found the statue that was stolen from the kobolds. Luckily it was relatively small, so it was easy to convey it from the mite lair.

Oh yes, and a nearby crevice housed yet another monstrously large centipede. Alas, we did not manage to chop off it’s hundred legs, as with the last, but we did eventually defeat it as well.

Oh, and one final note, our little kobold friend found a helmet and cloak, just his size, as his loot for the campaign. It’s quite humorous how much he prides himself in those two dingy possessions of his.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 37

Yesterday we ate well on boar meat, having found a den of one of the creatures. Erastil was with me for that moment, as I struck the killing blow.

But today, today we encountered something new in the forest. A small dog-like creature, which looked in some ways like a cat, was found in a pit. Coincidentally, Tyberia found herself within the same pit. She says the ground under her gave way, but I think she is just too embarrassed to admit that she lost her footing.

In any case, she was able to somehow commune with the creature. She discovered that it was afraid, and I discovered that the pit must’ve belonged to a nearby trapper. Using her spell of entangling vines, I slid down into the pit, and brought the creature back to the surface. We let the creature go, and followed it back to the den where its pack lived. We looked for human remains, to see how dangerous the creatures were, but we did not find them to be overly dangerous or an invasive species. Therefor we did not exterminate the pack, but we did post signage around the perimeter to alert travelers to circle round, lest the docile creatures turn defensive.

One final note: I find that Erastil must be taking notice of my works, for he has seen fit to empower me once again with new-found and strengthened ability. I pray that I will continue in his grace.

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Journal of James Peyton - Day 35

We followed the river near the bandit camp back out into the plains today. And even though we had no great victories in combat today, I think it is probably the best day I’ve had in the last month or so.

As we were on the north side of the river, which was cutting a gorge into the earth, we spotted a man attempting to hide in a bush near a very ragged wood and rope bridge. Tyberia crossed the bridge first, being the lightest and fairest amongst us. I, after removing my armor, followed.

It turns out that the man was actually a hunter, hiding from us because he at first believed us to be bandits. After conversing with him for just a few moments, I could soon tell he was a decent and hard working fellow—just the sort of man I originally set out to help when first accepting the responsibilities of the charter. As it was, he told of how the bandits former bandits harassed him and over hunted the nearby land. We informed him of our success in defeating them, at which point we asked for more information on the bandits. He did not have too much to tell, except that Ox, a lieutenant of the Stag lord, spends most of his time with the Stag lord, in his fortress. He recognized the holy symbol on my chest, and identified himself as a fellow believer. Whilst Tyberia went off to hunt down some food for the man (both in thanks for his information and because he seemed down on his luck) I said some prayer’s with him, so that Old Deadeye might bless his bow.

Today was a great day to be in the service of Erastil.

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