17th of Pharast, 4713
As I shiver in this god-forsaken cold, under this god-forsaken Sycamore tree, I ask my self – again – what possesed me to follow these… adventurers… out into the middle of the Stolen Lands. Perhaps smeday I will note down that ill-fated night, when the Swordlords’ representative got me good and drunk and sold me on following this “Wild Bunch” to see if they needed the services of an excellent steward. Well, it was mighty fine mushroom ale, and I said yes, and now I’m here.
And it is damnably cold.
I arrived at Oleg’s Outpost some two weeks ago, after a brutal ride from Restov. THe Outpost, as you might guess, was a pit – one of those ramshackle roadhouses reclaimed and rebuild out of an older abandoned fort so popular amongst bandits or retired adventurers. Well, Oleg and his wife were neither, and yet had encountered both in their allarmingly recent past. Apparently a band of bandits had been shaking them down for the last three or four months, and my soon to be employers had just done the couple a favor and made a proper example out of the most recent would-be “tax” collectors. Oleg was quite happy for the help – he’d requested aid from Restov some time ago, and had initially thought the motley band of heroes were the soldiers he’d requested. Well, they weren’t, but they id the job just fine, leaving the bandits’ heads on stakes along the nearby road. Captain Garess and his men – the actual guardsmen sent by the City of the Swordlords – were actually a little disappointed they’d missed the fight when our company arrived.
The saviors were not in residence when we arrived. They had spared one of the bandits – he had repented, so they say, and was willing to lead them to where the rest were camped out, so they’d all taken off with him to catch the bandit gang and make them pay. Something about recovering Oleg’s wife Svetlana’s wedding ring may have been mentioned, and him offering a big fat reward in store credit too. My traveling companions settled in: Captain Garess set about nailing up several wanted posters (rewards for Sneeg, the Stag Lord, and Bandits in general – though he alluded to the fact that the band of adventurers had likely killed and made enough of an example with the parade of heads leading up to the Outpost as to have earned the last reward), as well as a reward for settling growing concerns over recent Kobold incursions, peaceably or no. This so inspired Oleg as to post few reward posters of his own, though moe for trophies to put up on the walls: tatzelwurm heads and Tuskgutter’s tusks seem to have particularly caught his interest. Myself, I spent the day or so before the bands’ return playing “King of the Stump” with Jacobi, a porter who had also recently arrived looking for work.
Well, the company returned, and I persuaded them to take me and Jacobi on. Their Wizard, Tim, is far less uncivilized than he apears to be, being the principle voice in favor of my hiring. As it turned out they had spent the two days they were gone exploring out to the edge of the Narlmarches, where they had found a band of sleeping Kobolds in a Moonradish patch. Having been asked to gather some for Svetlana for a… private matter… they had considered slaughtering the bunch, but instead managed to restrain their baser urges and negotiated a trade of a basket of the mystical radishes for their spare horse (which the Kobolds intimated wuld make a nice feast for their tribe).
I suppose I should pause and discuss these rugged heroes who had answered the Swordlords’ call for explorers. While I can’t quite recall what they called themselves (“Dragon…” something… Dragoneyes? No, that’s not it…) I have since been referring to them as the “Wild Bunch” for their seemingly rough nature. Ah well, uncivilized though they may be, they have the good graces to be my employers. They are currently as follows:
- Tim – Quiet and soft spoken, but as rugged as the rest of them, he is surprisingly a wizard of no small power.
- Dorn – A Kellish barbarian with a big sword, a lot of muscle, and almost no fear.
- Deus – I hesitate to say, but I suspect he is the bastard son of a certain high-ranked member of the Sertovan family who’ mistress was something… other than human. Rumor has it he’s not right in the head, and given the way he talks, I may yet agree.
- Focus – the creepiest elf I think I’ve ever met, hidden as he is in his dark robes. Definitely has something wrong with his skin, much as he tries to hide it under his robes.
- Grautha – a half-orc wandering preacher of Pharasma, she has a slight preoccupation with making sure the rest of us are “right with the goddess of death before we go.”
- Guunth Pale-dragon – a well meaning, and seemingly noble and just (if a tad dim-witted) half-orc Cavalier of the Order of Pale-Dragons. His horse, Sabre, may be smarter than he is.
- Khazooie – a queer bird, literally. A Breegul from the forests of Restov, rather rare as I understand, and this one is an outcast from his (her?) tribe as I understand it. Usually in the company of Banjo, an Eidolon in the shape of a wierd-looking bipedal riding-bear.
- Gel’nock – the repentant bandit, a half-orc with shifty eyes.
- Elf-with-no-name – he actually has a name, starts with C I believe, but its’ elvish and hard to pronounce. Damn fine shot with a bow though, or so I am told.
Well, that is the company. Most of them went off to escort a caravan back to Restov, while I followed Tim, Khazooie and Dorn for the next week, fighting wild boars and giant spiders, ran from trolls and looted hidden catches of buried treasure. We did meet Bokken, a somewhat crazy hermit living some miles east of the Outpost, who offered to make the company some potions if they could only bring him some Fangberries. He also mentioned some nonsense about having an evil twin brother who also lives as a hermit, somewheres to the south.
It was good to be back at Oleg’s after that, but we didn’t stick around long. Meeting briefly the new arrivals at the Outpost (Anza the Jay, a local hunter, Naleska, a very companionable Varisian, Father Jhod, a traveling priest of Eristil, and a recently returned Deus), we heard a story about an abandoned Temple (a lost holy site dedicated to the Elk god) before setting out again, this time joined again by Deus (who was close to wearing out his welcome, given his infatuation with Svetana). Naleska has also attached herself to our expedition, offering her healing and spellcasting services along with her “charms.” She has her own wagon, and is willing to give Javobi a ride as well.
This bring us to this last (relatively) uneventful week, the highlights of which must have been the tragic haunt we encountered at Nettle’s Landing; none other than Davik Nettles himself, the former watchman of the (former) bridge, apparently a victim of the Stag Lord himself. This Stag Lord, we’ve come to hear, considers himself king of all the bandits here in the stolen lands, and is a nasty peace of work. Davik stated we’d best toss his body in the river, if we ever wish to cross.
Which brings us to today, when we came across this bloody tree. A hundred feet tall, a least You can see it for miles, and according to Tim it’s infested with Mites (the nasty little faerie kind, not the nasty little bug kind). He, Deus, Dorn & Khazooie made a foray, coming back injured, having apparently met some resistance in the way of Mites and a truly exceptional specimen of centipede. While they were down there they rescued MikMek, last survivor of a band of Kobolds who had come to retrieve a stolen holy statue from their hated enemies. In the interim of their first foray we were found by Grautha and Focus, who had tracked us down to let us know the rest of the company had made it bak to Olegs. With Tim and Khazooie both suffering acute attacks of claustrophobia, it was agreed that Grautha & Focus would take their place, and the four went back down with MikMek to finish the job.
They have returned triumphant! After fighting their way through a Centipede Hatchery and a truly atrocious horde of the little blue meanies (the leader of which was riding a giant tick! Imagine!) they have managed to return with both statue and loot besides. Now we discuss plans for escorting the little Kobold back to his tribe, the Sootscales, where he promises rewards, and the company hopes to barter some sort of alliance with the little scaled monsters.
Well, I do hope it’s a tad warmer where they live. It’s too damned cold!