Stolen Lands

A Kingdom Grows in a Dangerous Wilderness

As the citizens of Raven's Bluff continued to grow weary of the overcrowding and the squatters inhabiting the city, the leaders of Pohjola continued to grow their new nation and gather information about the world around them.  Spymaster Joseph Lagrange sent a spy into Drelev to learn some information about Pohjola's neighbor to the west.  Meanwhile, Baron Vlad Black claimed more land around Raven's Bluff, even as the building within the village continued.  He attempted once again to calm the squatters and move them out, but again, they refused to leave.

The following month, the kingdom continued to grow, but word reached Joseph that his spy in Drelev had been captured.  Although Grand Diplomat Cice Tappo attempted to calm the situation with Drelev, she was unable to do so and Baron Hannis Drelev let her know in no uncertain terms that these actions would not be tolerated.  On the bright side, the completion of a shrine and Baron Black's calming words did finally manage to convince the squatters to leave with the promise that they could move into a new housing development the following month. 

The next few months saw the kingdom continue to expand its borders and build new buildings in Raven's Bluff but was otherwise largely calm.  The only real hiccup occurred when a group of farmers to the north grew dissatisfied with Cice and her inability to calm relations with Drelev.  It turned out that one of the farmers was the uncle of the spy who was captured and he was angry that Cice had been unable to secure the spy's release.

As the calendar turned to a new year, the leaders of Pohjola grew a bit restless sitting in their capitol.  Coupled with this was a growing curiosity as to what lay around the borders of the Tuskwater Lake that they had yet to explore and so they set out to explore the uncharted lands to the south of their capitol.  Cice; however, remained in the capitol as she continued to correspond with foreign dignitaries and Joseph informed the High Council that he had important matters to attend to.  The remaining party members thus set out to explore the Kamelands to the east of Tuskwater Lake and south of Raven's Bluff. 

On their second day out, the party found a well-hidden trail leading down from a cliff overlooking a pool of water that was surprisingly not frozen.  Mugwort was curious about this pool of water and went up to take a drink.  Although the water seemed relatively normal, a more pressing matter revealed itself as a giant snapping turtle charged out of a little outcropping at the base of the cliff, straight toward Mugwort.  The general turned and tried to hack at the turtle but his aim was high and his bardiche passed harmlessly over the turtle's head.  The turtle's aim; however, was much more accurate as it clamped down on Mugwort's leg, puncturing a major artery and sending him into unconsciousness.  The party rallied to Mugwort's aid and soon dispatched the turtle.  Mugwort was shaken by the fight but was able to recover well enough.  As the party searched the turtle's den, Micka located a water elemental gem half buried in the mud of the den.  What the turtle was doing with it he had no idea.

The following day, the party continued south along the eastern shore of the lake and found that the Kamelands continued far to the south.  As they were exploring though, they located a strange mud pool that was bubbling with warmth and surrounded by large mushrooms and other fungal growths.  Also apparent in the air was a foul odor.  Mugwort, remembering the results of his curiosity from the day before, refused to investigate the area, but Micka was not deterred.  He and his companion, Kuma, went up to the edge of the mud pool to examine it.  Other members of the party decided at least get somewhat closer to Micka just in case; however, Torm and Mugwort became nauseated by the noxious fumes emanating from the area. 

As Micka was examing the mud bowl, the fungal growth within it lurched to life and snatched the druid into a massive maw.  As Micka became paralyzed he tried in vain to identify what had just grabbed him, but Vlad was able to recognize it as a tendriculos.  Mugwort rushed to Micka's aid only to see the druid disappear down the giant plant's gullet, and then he too became snared by a tentacle from the plant.  Torm; unfortunately, was battling his nausea, as was his horse and he was too distracted to offer much help.  Vlad sent one of his animal companions in to assist as he fired arrows at the plant, but the arrows seemed to have little in the way of a lasting effect. 

Mugwort was then briefly released by the plant only to be snatched up into his jaws.  As Vlad and his cat companion tried to help, Mugwort soon joined Micka in the creature's stomach where, paralyzed, he slowly dissolved next to the druid.  Torm was eventually able to recover from his nausea, but not before Vlad's cat had been killed by the creature as well.  Torm sent in two earth elementals to battle the plant and although they did some damaged, they too were quickly killed by the enraged creature.  Torm took this as a sign and chose to tactically withdraw from the fight at a high rate of speed. 

Vlad; on the other hand, was determined to avenge his fallen comrades and chose to slowly move back as he continued to fire arrows into the creature.  This drew the creature out of the mud bowl as it charged toward Vlad.  However, it first encountered Vlad's long time mount and companion and the horse was snatched into the creature's jaws and soon swallowed as well.  Vlad grabbed a new mount and started to back away while firing more arrows at the creature, but the plant did not seem interested in following him out of its territory.  Although Vlad continued to hit the creature with arrows it soon became apparent to him that the arrows were being counteracted by the plant's natural regenerative properties and that they essentially had no effect on it.  With this realization in hand, Vlad cursed under his breath and vowed to be back to avenge his friends, but begrudgingly turned and joined Torm as they regrouped and headed back to Raven's Bluff.

Raven's Bluff: Squatter's Paradise

The following morning, the party continued to meet with various representatives of different interests as many came calling on the leaders of the new nation of Pohjola.  Many of the major noble houses checked in with offers of aid, as did the Church of Pharasma, Mivon, and a retired soldier turned merchant by the name of Count Addar Arnovski.  The initial offers gave the leaders much to think about as they soon realized that they ran the risk of entangling themselves into alliances and rivalries.  As they thought these offers over, they received a visit from Maegar Varn who once again renewed his desire to maintain good relations between his nation and Pohjola

Over the next few days, the party decided to attempt to negotiate better terms on some of the offers that they had received.  They were successful on several occasions in their attempts to receive better deals, or more favorable terms.  Prior to making any final decisions, Joseph spent some time looking into Count Arnovski and attempting to learn what, if any, agreements Hannis Drelev had made.  Joseph learned that Arnovski was a Rostlandic agitator who is hoping to see Rostland rise up against Issia and Noleski Surtova in particular.  What he also learned though was that Arnovski is hoping that the new kingdoms in the Stolen Lands will rile the Surtovas enough that they become entangled in the Stolen Lands, thereby making the Rostlandic rebellion more likely to succeed.  With respect to Baron Drelev, Joseph learned that it appeared as though he was likely to make agreements with House Surtova and House Lodovka.

Ultimately, the leaders of the new nation made agreements with most of their suitors as follows:

Mivon:  They agreed to establish a trade route with Mivon within three years and to negotiate permanent southern limits to the expansion of Pohjola.

Lady Nina Kitalla:  Pohjola agreed to grant equal rights to all fey within their lands and equal protection.  Additionally, Lady Kitalla agreed to serve as Councillor.

Count Addar Arnovski:  Pohjola agreed to allow him to build a system of lochs along the Shrike River so that he can further his mercantile trade routes.

Lady Vellara:  The leaders agreed to gift her a large area of land where she'll establish a vineyard and winery.

Church of Pharasma:  The church will pay for a graveyard to be built in the kingdom and the leaders of the nation will agree to outlaw the evil practices of necromancy and help the church in eliminating the undead.

Church of Gorum:  Pohjola agrees to build a military academy within five years and in addition, should the legendary weapon Ovinrbaane be located, it is to be turned over to the church.

Church of Erastil:  In exchange for a small amount of resources, Pohjola agreed that the High Priest would be filled by a worshipper of Erastil, and that position was given to Jhod Kavken.

Golden Spinnakers:  The council agreed that they would establish trade agreements with the guild and additionally, when the time came, they would allow the guild to run a rail system through Pohjola.

House LebedaTorm was eager to accept an agreement with his cousins.  The Council agreed that they would establish a trade agreement with House Lebeda and additionally, Elanna Lebeda would take on the role of Magister. 

House Orlovsky:  Pohjola agreed to an alliance of both mercantile and military interests, agreeing to aid each other should the need arise. 

Most notable in the rejected offers were that the leaders of the new nation rejected the overtures of House Lodovka and House Surtova.

After finalizing their assorted agreements, the leaders returned to their new nation and established their first settlement, Raven's Bluff.  The party got to work building a housing district and started the construction of an inn.  It seemed as though there was much hope and optimism for the new nation as Raven's Bluff was flooded with interested settlers.  So much so that there was insufficient housing for all of them and a group of squatters took up residence near the newly built housing district.  Baron Black attempted to calm the unruly citizens, but was unable to do so initially.

Birth of a Nation

With the death of The Stag Lord, the party had a chance to rest and to interrogate the three remaining bandits, Akiros Ismort, Auchs, and Jeb the Snitch.  They learned from the three that the hills on either side of the fort were haunted and that the dead would rise up from beneath the ground whenever anyone walked amongst the hills.  Upon looking through the fort, the party was able to find a few faded symbols to the hag goddess Gyronna which may have explained the undead in the area, but they could not say for certain.  Akiros also informed that party that due to the haunted hillsides, the practice of the fort was to simply toss any dead bodies over the cliff and into the Tuskwater Lake

The party then began a search of the fort and soon found the Stag Lord's personal cache.  While most of the belongings were mere mundane items such as bedding and clothing, they did locate one chest that filled with valuables.  They also located the fort's armory where numerous mundane weapons and arrows were stored.  As the party was wondering where the everyday foodstuffs and other items were stored, Akiros somewhat reluctantly told them about the cellar where most of the fort's wealth was stored.  His hesitation had nothing to do with not wanting to help the party, but rather with not wanting to have to have contact with the guardian of the fort's supplies, Nugrah the Decrepit.  He did ultimately lead them to the trap door down to the cellar and explained that in all likelihood, Nugrah would attack them.

Once in the cellar, the party was indeed attacked by Nugrah who had shifted into the form of a wolverine.  He proved to be little match for the party though and was soon rendered unconscious and the vast wealth of the fort was the party's for the taking.  The party did interrogate Nugrah and through him learned much of the rather sad tale of the Stag Lord and of the druid's conversion to the worship of Gozreh.  Ultimately the party decided to let Nugreh go after he stated that he did not really wish to help the party in overseeing the affairs in the Greenbelt, though they did confiscate his lone weapon, a mundane club.  With the exploration of the fort completed, the party sent a message to Oleg's detailing the defeat of the Stag Lord and asking him to relay the same to Karsten Lebeda.

From there the party set out to finish exploring the rest of the northern Greenbelt, while also making the trek back to Nettle's Crossing to bring the corpse of the Stag Lord to the guardian of the Shrike River.  When the reached the crossing, they rang the bell to get the attention of Davik Nettles who then rose from the waters and walked across the top of the river toward the party.  Vlad then informed Davik that they had killed the Stag Lord and proceeded to throw his corpse into the river.  Davik quickly grabbed the Stag Lord's body and pulled it under the water.  The party watched as the waters churned for about a minute, then as they calmed, Davik's magical ranseur washed up on shore, a gift from the undead guardian of the Shrike.

The party then headed west, into the Narlmarches to finish their exploration of the Northern Greenbelt.  For the most part, their exploration proved to be uneventful; however they did encounter a tatzlwyrm named Sithriss with whom they managed peaceful contact.  The party ultimately purchased a cold iron longsword from him and agreed to allow him to keep his home on the Skunk River free from any interference from the party or their subjects.  With their exploration of the northern Greenbelt complete, the party headed back to Oleg's to restock as well as to inform Kesten Garess of the fate of Falgrim Sneeg who had been killed during the fight at the Stag Lord' fort.

Waiting for the party when they arrived at Oleg's was a package from Restov containing the payment from the swordlords for the killing of the Stag Lord, as well as a summons to come back to Brevoy.  The party then made haste for the farm where they had first received their charter, just outside of Restov.  When they arrived they found that Maegar Varn was already there and on the following day Hannis Drelev arrived.  It seemed clear that the swordlords had summoned each of the groups that had been sent into the Stolen Lands.  As the second day wore on though Karsten seemed to grow increasingly nervous, finally relating to the party that he had yet to hear back from the Iron Wraiths, the group that had been sent the furthest away, out to near the border with Pitax

It was during dinner on the third day when everyone learned the fate of the Iron Wraiths. There was a commotion from outside and when those gathered inside went out to look they observed a large, metal carriage sporting two gunmen on the top and drawn by two horses.  Exiting the carriage and wearing a mysterious clockwork suit of armor was King Irovetti of Pitax.  He was carrying a metal shield bearing the symbol of the Iron Wraiths, which after barging into the dinner hall he threw down on the table, causing large cracks to form in the thick, wooden surface.  He proclaimed that there would be a reckoning for the audacity of the swordlords in sending spies to his border then promptly stormed out of the hall and got back in his carriage.

Visibly shaken by the sudden intrusion, Karsten decided that they might as well get down to business at that point.  He announced to those assembled that the swordlords were very pleased with their progress thus far and as such, they were handing out a new charter to each group.  This new charter granted each group the right to rule their particular section of the Stolen Lands.  He also informed the groups that the swordlords would be supporting each group with an initial shipment of supplies, laborers and settlers.  Privately, he then informed the party that while the swordlords had tried to keep their operations in the Stolen Lands quiet, things of this nature never stay truly secret and as a result, there were many in Restov who might be willing to bargain with the party to provide additional aid in the formation of their new nation.

The following day the party traveled to Restov where Karsten had set them up in the Flaming Wench Inn so that they could begin meeting with those who wished to deal with them during the formation of their new nation.  The party also took this opportunity to begin discusses each member's role in the new nation.  The party ultimately decided that Vlad would take on the role of ruler of the new nation.  After deciding on that, the party then began to meet with various representatives of assorted factions and noble houses.  By the end of the very long day, the party had met with several envoys of various interests and realized that they had only just touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. They concluded the day with the knowledge that there would be a lot of discussion, thought, negotiating, and meetings that they would have to go through just to get their new nation started.

A Lord No More

After spending a few days resting, shopping, and crafting items the party set back out into the Greenbelt.  The first stop was at the nest shared by Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut to bury Feldspar per his wishes.  Jhod traveled with them as they offered to escort him to the Temple of Erastil that the party had previously cleansed for him.  After burying Feldspar, the party continued on to the Temple and left Jhod there to start work on fully restoring it.  Jhod thanked them for the escort and their help in cleansing the area before the party continued their exploration.

A few days later the party came to a swampy clearing containing the ruins of two small buildings.  Living in this clearing was a single boggard and a giant slug-like creature that he called Slurk.  The party attempted to talk to him, but communication was difficult as the boggard only knew  a few words of common and nobody in the party knew boggard.  Mugwort did make somewhat of a connection with the boggard when he scrounged up some food for it to eat as it appeared to be hungry.  Although the party was unable to really communicate with the boggard, they did seem to at least leave on good terms and both groups went their separate ways. 

The party continued to explore and a couple days later came across a fifteen foot ivory statue of Erastil in the forest.  The statue appeared to have been there a long time and was covered in grime and droppings.  Cice was able to detect some transmutation magic coming from the statue but could not otherwise figure out what that magic was.  The party made note of where the statue was and its orientation to the south to see if it was pointing at anything in particular as they traveled further south.

As the party continued their exploration along the southern edge of the Northern Greenbelt, they came upon a foul smelling pond where a unicorn had been killed and its horn removed after death.  Joseph was able to use his skills as a healer to determine that the unicorn was blind when it died and that it had likely been killed by some sort of death effect.  Cice was also able to recall that powerful fey could sometimes "mark" a victim in such a way that it was repellent to natural life and that appeared to have happened in this case as well as none of the insects or other creatures in the area dared to approach the unicorn's corpse.  After much discussion, the party ultimately decided to drag the unicorn's body back to the statue of Erastil and see if the magic of the statue could do anything for it.  When the party returned to the statue, Vlad touched the unicorn's hoof to the statue and recited a prayer.  The statue, sensing Vlad's growing devotion to Erastil, then enchanted all the slashing and piercing weapons in the party, giving them all a very keen edge, though it seemed as though the enchantment would only last a week. 

With their weapons newly enchanted, the party decided they had best take advantage of the limited duration of the enchantment and make for the Stag Lord's fort.  It took the party almost four days to reach the fort as they had to travel through the Narlmarches, a dense forest, most of the way.  As they approached the fort, the party could see that the northern approach was a wide open field for three hundred feet with a dirt road approach the wooden gate.  The fort was surrounded by a wooden palisade fifteen feet high and the interior was comprised of an abandoned, and crumbling stone outpost of a previous age.  The eastern and western sides of the fort featured hills overlooking the outpost with only thirty feet of flat ground adjacent to the palisade.  On the southern edge was a steep cliff leading down to the Tuskwater Lake. 

The party opted to attempt subterfuge to try to gain entry to the fort.  They approached after Cice had prepared a silent image in the form of Kressle, the bandit leader that had been raiding Oleg's.  Unfortunately for the party, the bandit had previously recovered Kressle's remains and knew that the party was lying to them.  Additionally, it seems as though when Mugwort abandoned the Stag Lord, he became an enemy to the bandits.  As Mugwort attempted to find out more about what had happened to his family, Micka warped the wood of the gate, causing it to pop open and allowing access for the party. 

With that, the battle was on and the party faced the full wrath of the bandits of the fort.  Both sides initially traded blows back and forth before one of the bandits was quickly killed.  Shortly after that a bandit came running out from inside one of the buildings, an angry owlbear pursuing.  A few seconds after the battle started, the Stag Lord appeared at the back of the fort and climbed onto a walkway.  He pulled out a large bow and fired a couple of greenish-yellow streaks at Mugwort, dropping him unconscious as the half-orc's body was ravaged by acid and electricity.  Although the party was facing all of the bandits at once, it soon became clear that the tight quarters of the fort worked to the party's advantage as it was hard for the bandits to come fully to bear on the party.  Additionally, both Micka and Torm had summoned creatures to aid the party and those summoned allies proved to be quite damaging to the brigands.

The Stag Lord; however, proved to be quite deadly with his bow.  He knocked several party members unconscious during the battle as he continued to fire from atop a walkway out of the party's reach.  As things were starting to look grim for the party, one of the bandits snatched the Stag amulet from around his neck and threw it to the ground before turning on one of his fellow bandits and killing him.  This same bandit, Akiros, was soon able to convince another bandit, a huge giant of a man wielding a deadly club, to also stand down.  The tide turned soon after this and the Stag Lord was facing the party alone.  Though still deadly, he had run out of magic arrows and he could not produce enough attacks to counteract the numerous cuts and attacks he received in return.  After a long, drawn out battle, the Stag Lord was slain, his body falling off the walkway and the green glow emanating from his helm dying out. 

After the battle, the party discovered several magic items on the Stag Lord and when Cice could not identify the properties of the helm, Vlad opted to put it on himself.  After a few moments, his wounds visibly healed and he claimed to have seen a beautiful woman with long, flowing green hair.  He indicated that she said she needed his help and then said he liked the helm so much that he didn't want to take it off.  The party then took time to rest and recover while keeping an eye on the three surviving bandits (two of whom had apparently switched sides during the battle).

Making Allies and Finding Enemies

The party camped for the night outside of the Old Sycamore as they mourned the death of their friend Feldspar.  The next morning they discussed their options, either heading back to Oleg's or returning the statue to the Sootscale Kobolds.  In the end they decided that returning the statue was more urgent as Joseph could keep Feldspar's body fresh enough to be reincarnated at a later date when they returned to the trading post. 

As they traveled toward the Sootscale Caverns, the party soon heard the sounds of a battle up ahead.  Vlad sent his eagle ahead to scout out the scene and help inform the party of the situation.  His eagle was able to see a half orc fighting with two wolves, so the party decided to approach cautiously.  By the time the party arrived, the half orc had killed both wolves and was admiring his work. The party observed that the half orc was wearing an amulet of the Stag Lord and he admitted to working for the Stag Lord when he saw the same amulets on the party.  He introduced himself as Mugwort and claimed to be a scout for the Stag Lord.  He offered to travel with the party as they both continued to work toward meeting the Stag Lord's goals.  He did inform the party that the Stag Lord's fort was about one hundred miles from their current location.

Arriving back at the Sootscale Caverns, the party asked to be taken to Chief Sootscale.  They informed the Chief that they had the statue and he proposed that they work together to defeat Tartuk.  When the party agreed, the Chief lead the party to Tartuk's quarters, with several kobolds following along to see what would happen.  Upon seeing Tartuk, Joseph removed the statue of Old Sharptooth and smashed it to ground.  This enraged Tartuk and he ordered the kobolds to attack the defilers as he turned invisible and his pet flew at Vlad. 

Tartuk's pet tore into Vlad, nearly killing him, but fortunately for Vlad, Joseph was nearby and was able to heal him.  As the following kobolds started to attack the party, Chief Sootscale attacked Tartuk's pet.  Tartuk reappeared in time to launch a couple of magical missiles.  It was at this time that Cice told a really bad joke that caused most everyone to simply groan, however Tartuk found it to be absolutely hilarious and began rolling around on the ground in a huge fit of laughter.  Although Tartuk's pet was vicious, it could not withstand the might of the party on its own and Tartuk continued to roll around laughing until he was killed by the party.

After the fight, Chief Sootscale proposed that the kobolds and the party form an alliance and have peace between them, respecting each other's spaces.  As a sign of good will, he offered to let the party have some of the treasure that the kobolds had collected over the years (and which had been appropriated by Tartuk after he arrived). Although the party was interested in the Chief's mace, he was unwilling to part with that.

The party left the kobolds and continued to explore the Greenbelt as they looked for the fangberries that Bokken wanted.  The party soon located the Shrike River and followed it to the north looking for a crossing.  They did find a crossing that appeared to have once been a rope bridge that had since been partially destroyed. Mugwort rang the bell that offered to allow passage for five coppers only to see a soggy, undead humanoid rise from the waters of the river.  Davik Nettles informed the party that if they were with the Stag Lord then their lives were forfeit and that the blood toll could only be paid by throwing the Stag Lord's corpse into the river.  When the party told him they were not with the Stag Lord, despite carrying his amulets, he receded into the waters. 

The party continued their exploration over the next couple of weeks, exploring much of the region around the Sootscale caverns.  For the most part they did not encounter anything until they were ambushed by six bandits working for the Stag Lord.  Torm was nearly killed during the initial volley from the tree-perched archers, but once the party spotted them, they proved to be no match for the party.  A short while later, the party found a brush thylacine that was trapped in a pit.  Mugwort fell into the pit when he tried to help the creature and the hungry thylacine thought Mugwort was a snack.  Mugwort was able to escape the pit without killing the creature and then Micka befriended the creature and set it free. 

It was a couple of days later that the party finally located the fangberry patch and were able to collect more than enough fangberries for Bokken.  With their supplies running low, and the knowledge of the location of the Stag Lord's fort gained from the one surviving bandit, the party decided it was time to return to Oleg's to reprovision and prepare for the assault on the Stag Lord.  It took a few days to make the journey north, but the trip was otherwise uneventful.  The party asked Jhod to cast Speak With Dead on Feldspar to see if he wanted to be reincarnated or not.  Feldspar's soul told Jhod that he had accepted his fate and that he wished to remain at rest.  He did ask Jhod to be buried near where his friends Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut lived.

Alas Poor Feldspar, We Knew Him Well

After stocking up on supplies, the party resumed their exploration of the Greenbelt region of the Stolen Lands.  They headed east to visit Bokken and purchase a few potions before exploring the area around his little hut.  Much of the region surrounding Bokken's hut proved to be open plains with little in the way of trouble; however, as they traveled south they did run into a group of bandits operating under The Stag Lord.  The party began by pretending to be fellow bandits under the Stag Lord's leadership but Feldspar then moved to attack.  The fight with the bandits proved to be a brief, easy fight and half the bandits were dead as the other half surrendered.  The party took the surviving bandits captive and finished exploring the region, finidng the hidden stash referenced by the map found in the lair of the spider the party had fought several weeks ago.  The bandits were then taken back to Oleg's and turned over to the soldiers there. 

The party set back out and continued to explore to the south and east of Oleg's.  They encountered an ancient sycamore tree that Tyg indicated might be home to some mites, an evil race of fey creatures.  The party was looking for the mites because the captured bandits indicated that one of their bags of loot taken from Oleg's had been stolen by a group of small blue creatures.  When the party arrived at the sycamore tree, they found a narrow opening leading into and under the tree. The party waited outside the tree for a mite to exit and quickly subdued it.  Speaking with the mite prove difficult as nobody in the party spoke its language, but Micka was able to at least cast comprehend languages so he could understand the creature.  Using a series of gestures, Micka came to understand that the mites had Svetlana's ring at one time but that the ring had been stolen by a band of kobolds.  The mite seemed to think that the kobolds might be to the south of the mite lair, but was not sure.

As the party continued their exploration and search for Svetlana's ring, they located a heavily obscured cave opening.  Entering the cave, Micka soon found a promising gold vein in the walls of the cave.  The party marked the cave's location on their map and then did their best to heavily conceal its entrance in the hopes of being able to start up a mine at a later date.  Shortly after locating the mine, the party found the entrance to the kobold lair, a lair that was apparently once a silver mine.  Feldspar snuck into the lair and found a captured mite in a cage near the entrance, which he freed.  Feldspar continued to explore the entrance and soon found a pit trip that he easily jumped over.  The paryt began to follow Feldspar but stopped when they got to the pit trap.  Micka began to pound pitons into the wall before Torm eventually sent his eidolon to jump the pit as well.  Unfortunately for George, the eidolon, he did not jump as far as Feldspar and instead landed in the far pit trap, the one that Feldspar did not see, but had cleared anyway. 

It was at this time that a lone kobold approached Feldspar, only to be shot with an arrow.  The kobold protested that he only wanted to talk, so Feldspar healed him with his wand.  The kobold offered to lead the party into the lair in order to talk to their leader, Tartuk.  The party took the kobold's offer and was soon lead deep into the lair.  Along the way, more and more kobolds began to gather around them and one of them introduced himself as Chief Sootscale.  Chief Sootscale indicated that Tartuk was now leading the tribe but that he was not entirely happy with Tartuk's leadership. The party did eventually reach Tartuk where he indicated that he did indeed have the ring that they were looking for.  He told the party that if they retrieved the statue of their god from the mites, that he would then give the party the ring. 

With that, the party then returned to the Old Sycamore to try to recover the statue from the mites.  Joseph agreed to scout out the mite lair in his fox form in an effort to either locate Svetalana's ring or at least get a layout of the lair.  As he scouted the lair, Joseph was able to view several distinct areas and noted that the lair descended deep under the tree.  He observed what appeared to be some sort of workshop where two mites were playing a game of shooting caltrops into each other's mouths.  He also located an area that appeared to be a hatching ground for giant centipedes.  Finally, he was able to find a room where several mites were torturing a captive kobold.  Joseph backed out of the lair and informed the party of what he had found.

The party then descended into the lair beneath the tree, quickly killing the two mites in the workshop. They then went further down toward where the kobold was being tortured.  Again the torturers were easily killed and the kobold was rescued, though his three brethren that were previously tortured in the same room were already dead.  At the far end of the room was a chasm about ten feet wide and twenty feet deep.  There was a rope strung across the chasm that had several hand holds already tied into it, but Joseph opted to tie a second rope and jump across the chasm.  He then briefly scouted ahead and found several more mites arguing around a table on which was an ivory statue depicted a demon like creature.  Also in the room with the mites was a giant tick, roughly the size of a bugbear.  Joseph came back to the party and reported what he saw. 

Feldspar that crossed the chasm using the rope with the handholds, but that rope proved to be trapped as one of the handholds gave way and Feldspar began to fall.  Fortunately he was able to grab the second rope that was now tied across the chasm, but his fall did alert the denizen of the chasm, a giant centipede, which reached up and bit Feldspar, infecting him with its poison.  Feldspar was able to clamber across the chasm and the party soon killed the centipede.  Unfortunately for the party though, the fight with the centipede alerted the mites in the next area and one of the mites came charging in, mounted atop the giant tick.  That tick bit deep into Feldspar's leg, locking its teeth into his leg as it began to suck Feldspar's blood. 

The part sprung to action, with Joseph trying to help free Feldspar from the grappling tick and then healing him. Vlad crossed the chasm to fight the tick directly while the others worked on thinning the ranks of the mites.  Unfortunately Feldspar could not break free and the tick eventually sucked him dry, killing the poor ranger.  Cice was then finally able to get a powerful spell off that incapacitated the remaining mites and the tick was swiftly killed thereafter.  The party recovered the stolen statue and the meager treasure of the mites then took their treasures and Feldspar's body and retreated out of the lair.


A New Friend?

The party took a moment to catch their collective breaths and to prepare for whatever reincarnated from the severed hand that the necromancer had poured the Salve of the Second Chance on during the previous battle.  As the Salve completed its job on the hand, a tall, beautiful woman appeared.  Upon being interrogated by the party, she explained her name was Femiel and that she was a healer from the small village of Hooktun in the Hooktongue Slough.  She explained that she and her fellow villagers had lived a peaceful life of fishing and gathering in the tiny village until a large group of men bearing the symbol of Hannis Drelev attacked her village, slaughtering all who lived there.  Upon looking at the necromancer that had attacked the party, she identified him as Rilev, a fellow member of her village.

When pressed, Femiel indicated that she tried to respect all the gods and would tend to lean toward those deities that her fellow villagers revered most.  She did indicate though that she generally prayed to Erastil when she was in need of spells.  As she was being interrogated, Joseph was also reincarnated and came back as a kitsune.  After taking a moment to recover, he then consulted his harrow deck and determined that he should not trust Femiel for the cards warned him of a betrayal.  Femiel did; however, agree to journey with the party at least until they could get to a more civilized area. 

The party continued to investigate the ruins underneath the long abandoned town and soon came upon a locked room that contained a single skeleton inside.  Examination of the skeleton revealed a sealed scroll tube and that the skeleton appeared to have been dead for a long time, perhaps as long as a century.  When the tube was opened, the party found parchment containing writing in Kelish.  Cice was able to translate the writing and learned that it was an accounting of the final day of one Athis, Scribe of New Stetven.  Athis described that sometime during the night a number of devilish plants had been planted around his village and when the villagers awoke the next morning chaos and destruction ensued.  The plants attacked the villagers and to their horror, the stricken villagers soon turned into more plants.  Athis ran to the ruins beneath the village to seek refuge.

While hiding in the ruins beneath the village, Athis eventually heard an unfamiliar female voice speaking in Sylvan telling someone to "guard the orb until all the plants have died".  Athis would eventually try to investigate only to find a couple of starved looking dog like creatures that attacked him.  Athis fled to the tiny room and barricaded himself in only to soon realize that his wounds would not heal, meaning that he would soon die.  Just beyond that room the party found what appeared to have once been an office of sorts, with chewed and torn papers scatted all about.  Beneath the mess though was a locked iron box that contained numerous papers detailing the founding of the village of New Stetven, including the commissioning of the ever-burning brazier and the command word to turn the flame on and off.

The party was then attacked by a rat swarm which managed to infect Feldspar and Joseph with filth fever before being killed.  In the following days, Femiel would cure both Feldspar and Joseph of their filth fever.  As the party pressed further, they were attacked by a pair of dog like creatures that Cice was able to identify as Gaunt Hounds, magical fey beasts.  Femiel displayed a bit of her true power during the battle as she helped the party defeat the creatures with a couple of powerful spells.  Vlad was able to stabilize one of the hounds before it died but the other was killed outright by the powerful spell cast by Femiel. 

In the area containing the nests of the gaunt hounds, the party located a secret door that lead to a small chamber containing a crystal orb on a stone stand.  The orb was vaguely grayish in color and had some swirling mists inside of it.  It radiated evil and gave off a strong aura of fear.  Feldspar and Torm investigated the orb initially, with Torm touching it and becoming terrified, running all the way out of the ruins and through the clearing that once contained the village of New Stetven, stopping only when he reached the party's horses and was out of the range of the aura of fear.  Micka eventually decided that the orb was sufficiently evil that it could not be kept around and so smashed it with his new scythe taken from the body of Rilev.  As soon as the orb was smashed, the aura of fear that had been permeating the area vanished. 

The party camped for the night in the ruins of New Stetven then proceeded to spend the next several days exploring the surrounding areas.  For the most part, the party found a lot of open plains and forests and not much else.  In the Nortwest corner of the Greenbelt they did come across an old barbarian cairn that appeared to have been erected by the Tiger Lord barbarians.  The party dug out the rocks of the cairn and located the decayed remains of a warrior whose skull had been smashed in.  Also among the remains was a Ring of Swimming which the party took.  The party would also locate an area with a pair of ponds heated by sulfuric springs.  The warm water proved to be quite soothing and several members of the party took the opportunity to bathe in the warm waters.  Feldspar though was attacked by a giant frog but the party was able to easily kill the creature.  As the party's supplies began to run low, they decided to head back to Oleg's to restock and to sell some of the items they had acquired.  Feldspar got into an argument with Oleg over the price of the brazier but eventually the party was able to sell everything while also informing Jhod Kavken that they had cleansed the temple of Erastil that he had been looking for.  In thanks, Jhod offered to render free spell casting for the party provided they paid for any expensive material components.  Femiel also took her leave of the party at this time, but not before casting restorations on Joseph and Feldspar to cure them of the ills they still suffered from having been reincarnated.

Bushes and Skellies and Bears Oh My!

The party returned to Oleg's to see if he had any silvered weapons following their encounter with the werewolf.  Vlad received a letter from home when he got there and additionally, Jhod informed the party that Joseph was feeling better, at least sort of.  Joseph had finally been reincarnated but the process had turned him into a ratfolk.  The party reprovisioned and Vlad informed party that several of them had warrants out for their arrest but that Vlad's had been quashed thanks to his family's connections and resources. 

The party then set out in search of the Lost Temple.  Following the directions that Feldspar's friends had given them, the party was able to find the clearing in which the Temple of Erastil had once stood.  They found a pool in the center that was filled with algae infested water and the crumbled remains of a stone temple in front of a cliff face that had been carved into a huge symbol of Erathis.  As they were investigating the area, a large grizzly bear emerged and attacked the party.  The party was able to beat the bear down with ease but Feldspar and Micka both insisted that the bear not be killed.  With the bear unconscious the party made camp for the night and the following morning Micka was able to use a spell to speak with the bear.  Micka learned that the bear was once a druid who had long ago gone insane after the "monsters won".  The bear also made some reference to a town called New Sehir and then told Micka that he was tired and that he wished to finally be put to rest.  Following their conversation, Micka gave the bear his wish and the party looked on as the bear shifted into an elderly human man, then a skeleton, and finally crumbled to dust.  With the bear put to rest, the pool in the center of the clearing immediately became crystal clear and the party discovered that the pool had healing properties. 

The party then traveled northwest from there and a day and a half later came to a clearing in the thick forest that their mounts refused to enter.  Even Micka's and Vlad's animal companions refuse to enter the clearing.  The party decided to investigate the clearing and discovered what looked to be the remains of a long abandoned town.  In front of what appeared to be some sort of town hall was a brazier that was burning bright and a single bush with red flowers and deep green leaves.  Feldspar didn't trust the plant and so he shot the plant with an arrow.  The plant responded by shooting Feldspar with some thorns, causing him to start running.  Micka was hit soon after by the plant and also started to flee.  The rest of the party though was able to kill the plant, though both Feldspar and Micka complained that they did not feel as hearty as they had before.

The party once again rested for the night and then decided to explore the town further.  They soon found a stairway heading beneath the old town hall and decided to follow it down.  When they reached the bottom of the stairs they found an even older set of ruins that the town above had been built upon.  As they explored the tunnels beneath the town, they soon found an area guarded by four skeletons.  Feldspar became excited and immediately ran to attack, killing a skeleton in an instant as another retreated.  Joseph then turned the remaining skeletons and the party made short work of them. 

Following the skeleton that ran lead the party to a room with five more skeletons and beyond that a small chamber where it appeared a human had set up a lab of some sort.  The party fought through all the skeletons but soon found that the cleric in the far chamber was formidable.  He enabled his scythe to fly out and slice through Torm's eidolon and then return to his hand, knocking the eidolon out.  As the party closed on him though he began to channel negative energy into the party and soon Joseph, Vlad and Cice were all unconscious, with the party learning that Joseph had once again died.  Torm and Feldspar were able to kill the cleric and revive Cice and Vlad and the party soon surmised that the cleric was attempting to reincarnate somebody when he poured a salve on a severed hand.  Feldspar then took the hand and smeared as much of the salve onto Joseph as he could, hoping that the substance would work on his friend too. 

The Curious Case of Feldspar and His Marbles

Following the battle with the shambling mound, the party was able to limp back to Oleg's with the bodies of Feldspar and Joseph in tow.  Jhod told the party that he would be able to help them in the morning but that he needed to rest up and gather some resources first.  The following morning he began his preparations and produced a pair of scrolls of reincarnate, indicating that prior to finding the Church of Erastil he was a druid.  He soon began reciting from the scroll as he poured the oils over Feldspar's body and as the party watched, the dwarf began to grow and morph before their eyes.  It was not long before Feldspar opened his eyes only to discover that he was once again a human, although he didn't feel quite as hearty as he did before engaging the shambling mound.

Jhod then turned his attentions to Joseph and started reciting from the second scroll.  Unfortunately, as he performed the ritual something went awry and Joseph failed to wake up.  Jhod indicated that it seemed as though the scroll was working but that something appeared to hold the process up.  He informed the party that he would continue to monitor Joseph and conduct more research in an effort to determine what has gone wrong.  He assured the party though that he was confident that it was only a matter of time before the cleric came around. 

Around this time the party also encountered another traveler at Oleg's.  The human introduced himself as Torm and stated that he had heard there were adventurers that had been granted a charter of exploration in the region and that he was hoping to join up with them as he wishes to one day open up a business catering to adventurers, though this latter part he only said while out of earshot of Oleg.  Since Bob the Summoner had ridden off when the party got back to Oleg's (presumably south to the River Kingdoms), the party was only too happy to welcome another member to the party, especially given Joseph's current condition.  The party was equally happy when they learned that Torm was also a summoner, though Mika seemed less sure of Torm and his "unnatural" companion. 

As the party went to set off later that day, Joseph was still not better and Cice offered to stay behind and look after her friend while the party continued to explore the Greenbelt.  Their explorations started out simple enough but the first night when they were camping their tent collapsed during Feldspar's watch.  An examination of the area revealed that three of the tent pegs had been pulled from the ground but no tracks could be seen around the tent.  As the party began re-pitching the tent, Feldspar wandered out into the woods to try to figure out what happened.  Mika followed and soon observed Feldspar talking to himself.  Feldspar would claim that he was talking a beautiful, but invisible woman but Mika thought perhaps something was wrong with Feldspar and that he was suffering some sort of side effect from the reincarnation.

The rest of the night went uneventfully but as the party was exploring the following day Vlad had about a gallon of milk suddenly released on top of him.  Again nobody saw anything but Feldspar swore it must have been his friend.  It was at this time that the party began to think that maybe Feldspar had been reincarnated as a mage and that he was casting minor magic spells to mess with the party.  These relatively harmless incidents continued for the next couple of days and the party continued to blame Feldspar, but he continued to insist it was his friends (as he now claimed there were two).  The party insisted that Feldpar was going crazy, especially since he kept changing his description of his friends.  Feldspar finally insisted that "she was a beautiful lady and that he gave her his marbles!" 

As the party slept one night, they were attacked by a pair of pistol wielding bandits who shot Vlad while he was on watch.  Vlad was soon knocked out but the rest of the party was able to easily dispatch the bandits and then revive Vlad.  The party gathered the two pistols and the little bit of ammo that the bandits had left, and would later trade one of the pistols for a wand of cure light wounds.  When the party checked back in at Oleg's, Joseph was still out of it, but a package had arrived from Restov and with it a note from Karsten Lebeda instructing the party to bring the The Stag Lord to justice.  Also included was 1,000 gold pieces for their early success in fighting the bandits.

When the party set back out they traveled to the west and through a region that was littered with powerful bear traps.  They avoided most of them but accidentally set off a couple.  When they camped that night they were again attacked, this time by a werewolf.  As Feldspar lay bleeding on the ground after another bite from the lycanthrope, the werewolf suddenly fell over unconconscious.  Shortly after it was killed by Vlad, Perlivash revealed his presence and indicated that he had put the werewolf to sleep in order to help his friend Feldspar.  He also indicated that Tyg-Titter-Tut was nearby but that she wouldn't reveal herself because the rest of the party wasn't as nice as Feldspar.  Perlivash then told the party where they could find the Lost Temple and when Vlad gave Perlivash a gift of some dried meat, the faerie dragon told Vlad that he would end any pranks directed at Vlad. 

The next morning the party awoke to find that a severe cold front had moved in, dropping temperatures to below zero.  The cold front lasted several days and the party decided to shelter in their tent with a roaring fire going rather than risk traveling in the cold.  When the cold front finally passed, the party continued to explore with a focus on heading toward the location of the lost temple. 

Deathly Chill
The exploration begins . . .

The party picked up where they left off last time, beginning with an interrogation of the bandit Kressle.  Upon questioning the bandit, the party learned that there is a larger group of bandits in the area, under the leadership of The Stag Lord.  Kressle mentioned that there is a fort to the south where the Stag Lord lives and that all their spoils go to the fort and the bandits are then given their cut of the spoils after delivering them.  When questioned as to why she chose the bandit life, Kressle merely stated that people had always tried to take from her and she learned early on that if she didn't take back, she'd just be a victim.  Despite being given numerous opportunities, Kressle refused to repent for her crimes.  With a heavy snow falling, the party decided to take the boots from the bandits and tie them up in the tents for the night.

The next morning the party awoke to find that nearly five feet of snow had fallen over the past twelve hours.  They also discovered that all but two of the bandits had died during the night due to exposure.  The remaining bandits were Kressle and Sylvano Baggio.  With the snow having finally stopped falling, the party set off to return to Oleg's to report on their success and to turn over their captives.  Along the way though they questioned Sylvano and learned that he was much more accepting to rejecting the bandit life and trying to earn an honest living.  Sylvano also revelaed more information about the Stag Lord, stating that he was a cruel and brutal leader, but also a drunk.  Given his cooperation and his willingness to leave the bandit life behind him, the party decided that Sylvano would be spared and allowed to travel to Brevoy.  However, Kressle still refused to repent for her crimes and was thus, executed by Vlad Black after Joseph Lagrange consulted his harrow deck. 

After nearly two days of travel, the party finally returned to Oleg's with their one remaining bandit.  As they arrived they discovered that a group of mercenaries had arrived from Restov to serve as guards for Oleg, lead by Kesten Garess.  Kesten did inform the party that he was looking for a bandit by the name of Falgrim Sneeg.  He warned the party that Sneeg was dangerous but promised a reward should Sneeg be brought to justice.  The party also learned that Jhod Kavken, a priest of Erastil, had arrived at Oleg's.  Jhod then informed the party that he was searching for a lost temple to Erastil that was rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Stolen Lands

After resting up and trading with Oleg, the party went back out into the wild to start exploring the Greenbelt in earnest.  Early on, their explorations proved fairly easy, encountering a pair of worgs, but having little trouble dispatching them.  They then came across the ramshackle hut of Bokken.  They traded with Bokken and then learned that the hermit was on the lookout for fangberries.  From there they continued to travel south where they encountered the lair of a trap door spider that had clearly been very active in the area.  They were able to kill the spider and when they investigated its lair, Vlad found a cryptic map.


The party then circled back to Oleg's and reported what they had found before resting up and heading south again.  They traveled mostly due south from Oleg's, toward the area where they found the bandit camp.  Unfortunately for the party, as they traveled through the forest, they were ambushed by a shambling mound.  Joseph was killed almost instantly as he was grabbed by the giant plant and then squeezed to death.  The party rallied and tried to fight off the plant but soon Feldspar fell victim to the creature as well after he was slammed by the plant and knocked unconscious.  As the party fought on, they were at last able to slay the creature, but not before Feldspar succumbed to his injuries.  With sullen hearts, the party carefully loaded Joseph and Feldspar onto the horses and returned to Oleg's.