We are unlikely to be able to claim the territory here, too far away really. Maybe in a year’s time, if we worked really hard and just concentrated on getting here.
So we spend the next day exploring the hex. Uneventful day. There are very few sentient creatures here. Wonder why? Also a lack of big game. We’re going to move on and explore the south west hex. Head off to explore border area. While exploring, there is a particularly dense forest area, very overgrown, trees are very ancient, we find a clearing/glade, massive tree in the centre, burn scars, lightning marks on its base, huge even compared to the other ancient trees, glade is strangely tidy and well kept, tended, no saplings encroaching. Feel its very beautiful, tranquil, restful. We rack our brains for legends, we sit down just outside glade, centre of glade light seems to have stars floating in it above tree – There’s been talk that somewhere hidden deep in woods there is a magic tree called The Tree of Stars, items can be magically restored here, unicorns are born here, elves can be reborn as unicorns here, demons/devils burned to nothing by touching tree, in roots is a gem crown, tree fated by gods to grow here and is revered by gods, could be secret druid tradition that they come here on pilgrimage once in their lives…..so maybe that’s the answer rather than a fey living here. Amina wonders if a unicorn could be REborn here?
As we walk closer, Lehava stops and sits down. She says she has a decision to make, the glade is offering to break the curse, but she will stop being what she is. She will become a fey and tied to the tree. She stands up, decided to stay, and she is starting to change appearance, she suddenly looks healthier. We stand aside, it takes over an hour, she goes and puts her hand on the tree, and then tells us that as guardian of the tree, she offers the hospitality of the glade to us. There is one who should be returned here. We say we will bring the unicorn back here. She says the unicorn itself will chose whether to be restored to life or returned to nature by a miracle of the tree.
She asks that the place be offlimits to the woodsmen and settlements as part of the kingdom. We will make it law. Make it a green place of Gosray and druids. Likely to become a place of pilgrimage.
We rest overnight, awake refreshed, on beds of moss as if designed for us, by each of us 3 rulers, dropped from tree is a piece of ancient and seasoned wood – will need craftsmanship to make it into an item, but it looks like it could be made into a sceptre. If we wish to make it into a Suzerain sceptre, there will be no penalty for lacking one of the items needed to make it.
So that’s the hex explored.
We move into the hex next door (border hex). Not much activity here, no signs of people, some troll traces. Uneventful day, large food sources are mostly gone, as are predators. When we make campfire, while Sienna is singing, an invisible fairy dragon is listening (Cade can see invisibility). She appears and we welcome her in. Rena gives her his Goodberry. Her name is Sharonaa, she wants to become a familiar to a wizard, Amina suggests that she might like to stay with the elven vintners till she finds a wizard.
We set off again next morning, heading up one hex.
Another wooded area, not many beasties again, however signs of some human activity (though not recent). In more northern part of hex, start to see occasional damage, hunting trails and wagon tracks, that have been cleared a bit, maybe in recent months, carts have been this way but overgrown. Patches that have been burned away, or damaged, some rocks have become pitted, acid has hit them. There were rumours of a dragon, but hopefully its a forest drake – they can spit balls of acid. Can breathe underwater. Considered degenerate green dragons, savage cunning, not as intelligent as a true dragon. Lawful evil. So of course we try and track it. We’re about as stealthy as a mack truck. It’s very quiet, no birds etc, so we guess we’re getting near to its lair. Yep, there it is. We beat it to a pulp very quickly. Then we track back to its lair. Godsawful smell. Rotting meat, cracked bones, equipment, this thing’s been here quite a while. Has been eating Mivon traders. Broken masterworked chain shirt, dead elf’s body, been dead a couple of weeks (identifying items – a scout amulet with a symbol on it from Seven Arches in south western river kingdoms – we know that Seven Arches very important to elves, but humans taken over, and have banned elves from entering their own holy site – elves are rumoured to be looking at extreme measures to remove human occupation), a masterwork darkwood longbow and a magical cloak (tattered and bloodstained) of Elvenkind. Hex is explored.
Rumour that there’s an elf gate in Seven Arches. Kyonin, ancient homeland of elves, borders on Seven Arches. Long distance gate, there is a network across the planet. Elves disappeared about 10K years ago and came back about 2K years ago. Elves call them Iadora. 6 active ones known of. There are rumours of others existing. Taking amulet and burying elf closer to road. Need to try and let someone know.
Another hex, not in the woods this time. South east. Uneventful day. Border hex. Wild country, signs of trolls here, and towards south on border, bands of hostile, aggressive fey. Night also uneventful.
Next hex is border of forest, and plains. Lizardfolk come this way a bit, we see patrols. We ask them to take and preserve our trophies (hodag, drake, and troll heads) for us, and ship back to Peacehold. They want paying. 10gp. Uneventful day and night. Next day we head south east. Rena can currently cast Grove of Respite.
Next day we are out in the plains, bordering on Mivon. More signs of hostile fey, all leading south to Mivon border. Looks like they’ve attacked trade caravans in this area.
At night, Cade and Rosa’s watch is disturbed. Sound of several large bodies approaching. Trolls x 5! Rosa wakes us up. We fight. We win. We go back to sleep.
Trolls have loot. There are corpses, peasants and caravan workers, there are 300gp worth of salvageable goods (nails, wigs, merchant scales), a scroll case with scrolls, masterwork small sword short & a few gems.
We hear really bad drunken singing from a distance. So here is the giant we were warned about. We meet Mukmuk. He doesn’t like fighting, he’s hungry and needs beer. We talk to him, feed him and give him beer, and he agrees to basically work for us in some capacity in return for food. He will travel with us and we will try to find him permanent employment, and a wife – maybe as a construction worker. He comes with us and will help look after horses if we’re attacked. He’s been making a map on the back of an animal skill. He’s carrying a wand of Hideous Laughter, and a Necklace of Fireballs II.
We zigzag back south around river to explore some more. Then head back up following river to where it splits, Little Stellen river heads along, Shryke goes up to Candlemere. Abandoned ferry station. Buildings have been used as lairs for various creatures, but currently unoccupied. Piers for ferry, and there is a small ferry, which can take one wagon at a time across the river. No ferry keeper. We will have to get ourselves across. Uneventful day exploring.
At the border, more signs of fey again. Evidence of fight between 2 different fey group, so they’re not organised. During following day we see signs of wolves, large pack hunting (12 ish). Stayed away from river, mainly on this side. Tracks look like normal wolves. We track them. Oh look, itsa woolluff. Rena charms the alpha, and attempts to handle animal to make friends with it and the pack….He casts Create food and water, the alpha eats, then the others warily join in….He starts trying to train it. There’s some dissent, alpha has to injure a couple to keep them in line.
Next day Rena changes his hex to be able to speak with them, continues trying to handle animal. We finish exploring with the pack in tow.
As we move on, there’s a sign of a day old ish, recently felled trees, churned earth, trampled bushes, coming down from the north. Coming from OUR kingdom and going south. Huge sized creature. Metal claws. Bits of leather fur and feathers behind. It’s by the river, we think maybe in a cave…Yep, its a cave. Bits of broken trees outside, and dark fur snagged on them. What IS this thing? Ceiling height average 10 ft. Inside – large cavern, full of carrion of offal, fungi on floors and walls, loadsa bugs – 20ft high. Tunnel slopes down to south, thinner opening to north. Oh boy! Most of the fungi are not edible, but not a problem, however by entrances something called Violet Fungi, they really like rotting stuff, including human flesh, they don’t have brains, and can’t be poisoned, they have tentacles. Large poop pellets, like birds might produce. Looks like it’s an owlbear. Go up to narrow cave, it’s full of webbing. Unlikely the big guy came this way. Full of spiders. Medium sized spiders. Cave weavers, quite aggressive. They have tremor sense, can web people, better in webs than out, can see in dark. We fight them.
Then we find a shambling mound with a symbiont centipede swarm in the middle and kill them too.
Then we run into an enraged giant owlbear. Ouch. We eventually kill it. There’s a dead body in here too. Its wearing a ring of green hair twined round gems. It appears to be a Ring of Animal Friendship to you at first, but its actually cursed, and sends the creature into a massive rage. The green hair is significant, we found it in the stag lord’s amulet. Fey queen probably. Cade can feel vile hatred coming off the hair. Also find 2 potions and a load of other stuff.
Next cavern behind owlbear is a big dead animal, plus half a dozen humanoid bodies. Lots of insects in here, flies. Fairly recently dead normal sized owlbear, 2 dead owlbear cubs and 1 surviving one. Hole in the ceiling. Rena casts charm animal and casts create food and water. Poor little owlbear :( We don’t let it gorge and make itself sick though.
There are more spider webs up through the hole. Rena sends a lantrern archon up, it reports 2 evil creatures with 4 8 legged pets. He sends it up to kill them, it doesn;t come back.
So we go up there. 4 spiders and 2 ettercaps. WE manage to kill them too.
We need to get home, that owlbear may have already been to Peacehold, the map the dead guy had showed Peacehold as a target.
So we go home via the trail of destruction left by the owlbear. Which coincidentally goes through many of the unexplored hexes. We arrive home 6 days after the attack. Walls of Peacehold still standing, gates are being repaired, plumes of smoke, fields have been torn up and livestock flattened, everything is very subdued, like people are in shock. People are pointing at the owlbear corpse on the cart. Man in one of the squares, sort of holding court, audience captivated – how dare we have let this happen. Very good speaker. Rena reacts and tells him off. We talk the crowd round. He slinks off. People are already muttering that he came here deliberately to cause trouble, he’s only been here about a week, around the time of the attack by the owlbear. Madam Gorner tells us it’s likely he is spy. He came from the west, coinage is not Drevlev, is holding court in the Tavern, he’s an entertainer/performer, has a LOT of cash on him. He must be reporting back to someone, so we need to find that out. Madame says nothing found out so far. Amina suggests askign the fairy dragons to spy on him. She suggests finding out what languages he speaks. There is unrest amongst female population, saying some of babies are changelings, been going on a while…Higher than usual death rate in babies. We send for priest of Pharasma. Rumours of cult to the Hag goddess. Cult of Gyronna (evil goddess), often bitter ex wives, spurned lovers and prostitutes. Holy symbol is a bloodshot eye. Rena suggests we travel to the south and talk to the swamp witch. He thinks they might have tried to talk to her to recruit her. But we’d need to get her mushrooms. We could ask the gnomes to explore, but people on their own down there are being lured off to their deaths. So a group is ok, but we probably need to go deal with the issue.
Rena suggests Stas should be given a position, since he identified and even attacked (and survived) a dangerous monster. He’s a lumberjack. We go find him in the pub, restore his honour, and for his honesty and standing by his honour, we raise him to the People’s Council of Haven. His mates are stunned that it was real. He’s equally stunned but chuffed.
Send the blood back with Svetlana to give to Bokken when he comes in to trading post next.
The trolls were something Restov asked us to deal with a while back. Troll patrols start dispersing as the month wears on. We will spend the month in Peacehold. We send someone to Restov to let them know about the trolls. They send back 2000gp for us as a group, and 10 BP for the Kingdom. Not forgetting the 4BP from Mivon troll loot.
We get a list of a dozen women who fit the profile of possible cult followers. 2 of them work in the brothel.
Fatima – she dreams of marrying up in life, skilled woodworker. Has a husband who is away a lot. He’s not faithful either, she hoped she might marry a client, but they have horribly spurned her, she’s overly passionate and a bit of a thrill seeker.
Beverley – depressed about a lot of things, she loves being with her children, only really smiles when shes with them, would do anything for them (all teenagers) split with husband who stayed behind, she hates him, comes from Northern Brevoy piratey area, very working class, very athletic build, supports her children in sports etc, no formal education of her own.
We are going to interview all the girls in the brothel, reinforce separation of madam G from us to make sure girls are all happy working there. Have church of Pharasma sit in as well, as responsible for childbirth and healing etc.
We will publicly oversee the inspection. Are the girls happy, anything they want to share, anything that’s happened to them here…..make sure they’re not exploited etc.
When we chat with Fatima, she seems happy in the brothel, life with husband not great he cheats on her, works in brothel to rub his face in it, hates elves. We ask why she’s struggles with carpenter work, her merchanting skills are terrible, but if we offer her to woodwork around castle so she doesn’t have to sell, she likes that idea. So she will become salaried royal carpenter. Some of the others love their jobs. Some do it because not sure what else they could do. One is brainless. Cade notes to the Watch to investigate if Fatima’s husband dies in next year. Beverley a nihilist by nature. Only thing that shows she is human is her kids, 12, 13 and 14 years old. Hates her hubby and men in general, sense motive tells us she is working in brothel to use men. Comes across as adept at manipulation, no schooling, undisciplined, she would be scary if trained. Youngest boy and girl are very athletic, very sporting, win lots of competitions, utter disdain when I mention monastery. Not very forthcoming when I suggest we should help her kids get into competitions. We need to make sure that the kids get a chance to enter competitions at the Archers festival. Seems to lose interest when we talk about them growing up.
Overall it seems most are happy at the brothel.
Other people on list of suspects:
Edwith is a commoner, absent minded, always losing things or having items stolen.
Enna is a former slave, makes herself look like a witch, wide hat, has a green fire drake companion
Hodi is a merchant, husband repeatedly cheats on her.
Ceci worked in church of Abadar, but also other churches, always in whichever one is flavour of month
Astor helps husband repair weapons
Alia has had a recent falling out with Pharasma who wouldnt help with women troubles, then went to Erastil male priest and bitched about not undertsnading
Wilthdis is another trader, unmarried, loggers know to avoid her as she is horrible to them, likes inflicting pain on others
Gloria is a map maker, has a habit of falling for wrong kind of man and being downtrodden, loves colourful clothing, always seems to be smiley and nice despite being abused a lot. We ask her if she would like to be map maker for the kingdom, she asks very sensible questions about what sort of maps we want, – tactical, explorer, travel guides – she suggests we employ her full time as map maker. She’s very organised, wants to know about buying goods to make the items, does she have a room in castle or work from home? We agree we will find her a room, and arrangements to get supplies of paper and ink etc. She is so eager to please, we can see why so many men have taken advantage. She may be unable to say no. We set her rules about who she can accept work from.
Laria – very large lady, taller and stronger than most humans, very powerful, (str 18!), skin dark and tribal tattoos on face and skin. She likes to show off skin, wears some revealing tops and skirts, hair and eyebrows shaved, missing an eye, lots of piercings, very calm and doesn’t get riled when people have a go at her appearance. She is available for advice or protection to women, and is trained as a sage, but not keen on having to deal with people. She’s on the list because she’s scarily different. Works out of the docks.
Esper Accord – she is a heavily built young woman, not especially imposing, confrontational, seems to be high on something…..she takes everything the wrong way, looking for an argument all the time, looks down on everyone. Merchants area. Unmarried has several suitors. Born to wealthy landowner, minor noble, in frontier town in rover kingdoms right at southern end, family had a summer home, she used to go play in an old dungeon quite far away and her family went away and never came back for her. About 12 when that happened. Survived all that time on her own. We want to investigate the family, so we send messengers out and they come back after a few days. Their summer home was in Northern river kingdoms, her family didn’t know where she was after search parties sent out, they’ve never been back to the summer home – We send correspondence to the family to tell them she’s here.
Beverley one evening seen sneaking out towards out of city to a barn on outskirts. When watching, in attendance Aria observes. Can’t see what’s going on, couple of hours in there, then 7 leave. Edwith, Ennen former slave, Ceci, Astor, Alia, Goody Nisker the best midwife in town (non Pharasma). Once they have gone, we will go into barn and have a look, there is a concealed trapdoor with a cellar below, we find a simple altar of stones and gems with glaring bloodshot eye, Cade and Rosa look back at what has happened in the last 8 hours, and Rosa can share the memories with anyone who wants them. Goody removes her nice appearance and she is the leader/recruiter, they are all cultists, she performs dark rites, and ask them for info for other people who can be recruited. Ceci is trying hard to be second in command. They butchered fluffy animals during ceremony.
Rena is asking for whether the women are unrepentantly evil.
Beverley is unredeemable, Adwith can be saved, Ennen maybe, Ceci no, Astor yes, Alia no. Nisker is human, maybe powerful hag priestess.
So we set the watch to secure the location of the women and isolate them, the army to secure the barn so the evidence cannot be destroyed, and we go after Goody Nisker.
As its evening, they have all gone home. So we go to Nisker’s house, knock on the door, tell her its the king, she says she’s just making herself decent and will be out in a second.
She opens the door, and invites us in. Says she is surprised to have us come to her .
There are 2 patients here (mother & child).
Rena tells her we’ve just come from the barn. She is under arrest. She threatens the mother and child if we take her. She channels negative energy for 10 damage. Rena cures child, it cries and wakes up. We hit her hard and kill her. Rena heals the mother and child up. The mother DID see the Holy Symbol used and heard the threat to kill the mother and child, but not impressed with us for going ahead either.
Rena explains what was going on. She isnt happy, we have not gained a fan.
Ceci has been desperately trying to be a priestess, she answers door, lets us in, crowing that she has important visitors. She’s on her own, no-one else at risk. She tries to turn evidence on the others. We dont make her any promises. We will get the Watch to search the house.
Beverley at home with kids who are in bed, doesn’t invite us in, we ask her to step outside, same speech as before. Tell her the children will be raised by the state, the watch will take care of them for tonight. Shes muttering and miserable, blaming the world but not herself.
Alia next, is home, lets us in, same speech again, asks, wants a moment to get ready to come out, but we throw a cloak over her and take her as she is. She wants her father’s ring, its in a box, its a poison ring. Cade empties poison out, and gives her the ring. We will be adding poison to the charges.
Ennen next – she begs not to be enslaved again. Nothing akin to it. We tell her it will be raised at her trial. The fire drake wants to come with her. We say it can go with her, Enna is keen to have him free, we see this as her route to redemption, happy for it to be around her and free.
Astor – her husband disowns her. Rena says it will be investigated to see why Astor was driven to such measures, hopes the husband comes out blameless. We are aware he has spent all his time and their money on another woman. Husband is a dick, clearly. It comes out he has spent all their money trying to woo someone else.
Ceci tries to damn everyone else as much as she can.
We sentence the unredeemable to death, the redeemable are sentenced to keep no animals for 10 years and to train with Phrasama as midwives, and the ex slave will be imprisoned and Pharasma will try to rehabilitate her by education while she is in prison to draw her to healing etc, if she rejects it, she will stay in prison. In a month’s time, Ennen is reported as understanding and ability to learn things is more biased towards druidic. So we will call upon Erastil priests to nudge her towards druidry. Eventually we will send her to Jhod at Bearhold to look after.
Astor is not wanted anywhere near patients, cannot deal with people, no bedside manner. Has had some animal training in the past, she’s very practical and good at making things, its suggested she might be useful as a vermin trapper. Also very good at making medical equipment. Her husbands business declines rapidly after she leaves.
Esper Accord – her family would like for her to come home, or they will come to her, they spent 3 weeks looking for so believed her dead, they didn’t come back as they didn’t want to relive the pain, they will pay through Abadar Church to get her home. She’s still pretty bitter but she will go. So we lose a citizen.
“Cry for help” area – woman’s voice trying to get us to split up up, other voices , traps, concealed hideouts, those of strong mind don’t get affected. When we find it, it can mimic our voices perfectly. It is intelligent creature, Lacotta, talent for mimicry, tortures then eats people. Along Little Sellen river trade route. Bodies etc in lair tortured to death. Has accumulated wealth, some of which have been eaten and pooped back out. Someone had a blue dragon hide breastplate and matching shield (not magic).
Rabble rouser tried it again, he gives up eventually as we just keep talking him down. Some of coins are PItax coins, but there’s no real evidence to tie him back there.
We go mushroom hunting, carnivorous plants around them. Creature that lives there sounds like it might be a Tendriculus, CR6 creature, it’s a plant, it can hide in undergrowth, it can paralyse and eat you alive. It can regenerate, fire damage doesn;t heal as fast. We spot it. We lure it away. Its a result of corruption of nature, not natural, it understands a few words in a single language, certain creatures can secure an alliance with a single one. Not necessary for the black rattlecaps. Arranged for someone to keep feeding it, in return for it guarding the flats and allowing it to harvest the mushrooms. And we went and saw the witch and gave her the mushrooms. She likes us now.
We take the unicorn’s body to the Tree of Stars, very fey looking Lehava is there. We lay the unicorn body at the base of the tree. After a short while, the unicorn starts to breathe, and gets up, but it’s horn is still missing :(
It confirms that it was a deranged, corrupted nymph that killed it. We ask what it will do now.
It will continue to look after the forest. It would appreciate it if we find its horn and return it.
We are negotiating with Mivon. They’d be interested in treaty, and a re-established trade route along the Little Sellen river to Restov. They’d like a big building for their embassy. We take a smaller one in their kingdom, because money.
We agree to consider extradition on a case by case basis. Citizens of each country are bound by the laws of the country they’re in. They have a law of any road, any river – free travel which has to remain unobstructed, so no tolls. We agree borders.