Wartenn's Kingmaker

The Party Pt. 2

From the Journal of High Ruler Nymka of the Shrikehold,

Nah, just kidding. =You should be. You’re not strong enough to hold what you have.= First, Waythe, it’s not mine [And it won’t be. You are weak], Quiet. It is ours, and at least at this point it belongs to all of us. The future is uncertain, especially with us just starting out. That being said, like hell if I’d be taking any rulership advice from either of you. You would either have me light everything on fire =FIRE!= sigh, yes, fire. Or, devote so much to military that everyone would starve [Proper culling of the weak]. Shut it, Gnout.

OK, everyone, cut out of the conversation for a moment. It was an interesting party. I wasn’t really used to the political maneuvering, until I realized that it was just the standard street haggling with fancier clothes, scents more obnoxious than the gutter, and more pretension. Most everyone was anxious to get their piece in, advancing their own agendas. Fortunately, most of them were relatively in line with ours. The Pharsmans were concerned with what they always are. So many people shouting, both internal and externally, that we don’t want undead in our nation, with no patience for me to agree with them. I still have the obligation of establishing Nethys’ position on the situation. The important piece is that…Nethys doesn’t give a rat’s ass what is done with magic, so long as it is used. I’m free to adjudicate what magics are and aren’t allowed from a theological stance, but that the church has no official position. FOOLISHNESS! You gave away your greatest advantage! First, I said quiet. Second, tell that to your turncoat bone golems. Whatever happened to them, anyway? I don’t want to talk about it.

There were others that…I’ll admit, I’m not sure why they were there. The one joker who just wanted to take over the area before we even started with military forces, or the one that wanted us to just cede any ruins over to her (though, to be fair, she was Winter). Lots of little notes on the overall decisions made, but overall I think we came out ahead.

Of course, the biggest thing was figuring out who was gonna run this thing, at least in theory. I tried to look at things objectively when I put myself forward for the position of rulership, though I fully recognize that this is a collaboration. I’m very rarely, if ever, going to be making decisions by myself. OK, to be fair, I can’t make any decisions by myself! I’m already a committee.

That being said…it is weird. I came into this group looking to forward the advance of magic in the area for Nethys, and to counter any potential cults and major threats that may be in the area. I suppose my position as ruler is just as effective in this case BETTER, but I was thinking at best I would be starting a little temple out in the wilds. This is more than I was expecting, and I only hope that I am up to the challenge. You will be.

The new charter member – not so sure on him yet, but he appears to be solid, competent. Hell, more than competent. He’s fully aware of his capabilities, knows how far they extend, what may happen in the future, and what challenges there may be. Looks a bit like Tralg in the eyes, though that could just be me feeling guilty about Tralg’s passing. Naming the capital Tralg was a good idea…though may not be the BEST thing. Still need to think that over a bit more as to how I’ll vote on that. Most definitely a memorial, maybe even a holiday for him.

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Episode IX

The party held by the mayor of Restov came to an end. All told, the party had collected support from or made deals with all but four factions (Church of Abadar, Jerribeth, House Surtova, and the One-Eyed Witch).

Agreements were made regarding who would nominally be in charge of our kingdom, and a name was decided on (The Shrikehold).

Now, while we have legal claim to the land between Oleg’s Trading Post and Mivon, we are actually in control of nothing more than the ground we walk. Next week, we aim to fix that, as we take over the northern coast of the Tuskwater for the capital city of The Shrikehold.

I’m sure that whole “ancient evil fey coming back” thing in the area won’t bite us in the ass.

At all.

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Episode VIII
A new beginning

From the Secret Journals of Kargan Ulron:

How many times must I lose my son?

It’s been a long time since I wrote in this journal. I haven’t opened this book since before I first crossed the border into Brevoy. That last time, a little over ten years ago, was the last time I thought he, they, were dead. This time, though, I think it might be for the last time, until we meet again on Gorum’s Final Field.

Let me explain, to myself I guess, if no one else, as I don’t expect anyone else to read this.

In the ten years since I received what I thought was news of the defeat at Touvette, where I thought Krensa had been slain, I wandered from the River Kingdoms into Brevoy, taking first a job with the Royal Guard just before the Royal Family disappeared, then taking gold from every Great House in Brevoy, from killing Lamashtu cultists for the Medyved to my most recent position, pirate-hunting and body-guard duties for the Lodovka. The Lodovka are decent masters, Lord Kozek especially is a cunning old bastard of whom I have grown very fond. Almost half-orc in his own way. Which, indirectly brings me to where I am today.

Today, I am in Restov. Kozek’s adopted great-nephew Darius, who I once helped escort to a swordlord Academy (for all the good THAT did…), and a bit of a holy terror in his own way, had been chosen for that Aldori thing into the Stolen Lands. Didn’t think much of it at the time, after all, its been tried before and, well, if anything had ever come of it, they wouldn’t still be the Stolen Lands, would they? But one thing drew my eye when I looked over the charter, a name, scrawled, barely letters at all, almost like Orcish pictograms, ‘Tralg’.

Tralg. The last Tralg I knew was Krensa’s father, old Tralg the Ironfist, my first weapons teacher. And I started to wonder. Of course Krensa would have named our boy, the boy I barely knew existed, after her late father. I put the thought aside, I mean, the name means ‘Strength’ in Orcish, there’s probably lots of half-orcs named Tralg. Sure.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think about it in the weeks that followed. Of course I did. But I got on with my job. After all, Captain Hightower thought he had a lead on those oyster smugglers off the northwest cliffs. Real ‘Fate of the Realm’ stuff. Prick.

I’d also be lying if I said we weren’t all kind of surprised when word came up from the the Green Belt that Dare, sorry Master Darius, and the crew with him had taken out the Stag Lord, the local bandit chieftain. Well, maybe not Lord Kozek, never seen him look surprised at anything. Never beaten him at cards, either. So there’s no telling what he was really thinking. Never is.

What I was thinking? I was thinking that if Master Dare and his party had been recalled to Restov to be awarded formal control of the Green Belt would bring this Tralg up to Brevoy where I could meet him in person. The whole thing was a circus. By killing the local bandit chief, they already control that area, but by ‘granting’ it to them, the Swordlords provide the illusion of power over them. The usual nonsense. Let the Houses and other power players a chance to bid for a piece of these new players, like scavengers around a fresh kill.

I shouldn’t be judging them. I was the same. I wanted something from those kids and I was going to Restov to get it. However, what I wanted was to meet this ‘Tralg’, to meet, I hoped, my son. So when Lord Kozek chose his second-cousin Petrov to go down and represent the Lodovka in Restov, I volunteered my squad to lead the security detail.

I knew the whole of that group would be in Restov. Including this ‘Tralg’. I wanted to meet him. Wanted to look him in the eye.

But you don’t always get what you want. It turned out that this Tralg, he’d fallen in battle against the Stag Lord. Died with his axe in the man, delivering the killing blow. I have no more proof he’s mine and Krensa’s boy than I did when I first read the name.

But he died doing Gorum’s work, killing his enemy. It was how my father died. How Krensa’s father, the first Tralg died, and likely how I’m going to go. And that is what a son of the line of Ulron would do.

Restov was what I expected. Young Dare and his remaining companions showed up and immediately got down to horse-trading. They’re an unusual lot. Back in Winterbreak, Dare stood out, the black sheep of the family. In this company… well, let’s just say he’s in good company.

There’s one of old Gorev’s brood, seems bright enough, if a little more, well, ‘Medyved’ than the rest of them. He’s one of the casters, I think. The other, Nymka, is a catman who is either more than commonly stoned or actually mad. Cleric of one of the magical gods, I think. Then there’s the halfling, Hamond. Wolf-rider, fighting man. Seems a likely enough sort.

Not a bad crew. I think. And with their defeat of the Stag Lord, they’re garnishing even more attention than when Maegor Varn came back. Side note, look him up, he might be a useful man to know.

They’ve been cutting deals with the Great Houses, avoiding, I’ve noticed the Surtova. Smart move. I wonder which of them thought of that. The Churches of Abadar, Gorum, Erestil. I’ve been keeping an eye on them. Some independents, like Lady Vallara and some others.

Of course, so have I.

For the first time in a decade, I want something more than to get into another fight and collect my pay. I want to go south. I want to find out if Tralg was my Tralg. But if I’m honest that’s not the only reason I want to go south.

And all this thinking about Kresna and our son has got me remembering something else. Remembering who I really am. I was always meant for more than this. I am an Ulron, perhaps the last. I am the Skywound. I have a destiny.

So I’ve been cutting some deals of my own. If I’m to go south with these lads, it’s not to be as their serving man, It’ll be as an equal. But for that to happen, I need to be added to the charter and to accomplish that, I’ll need patrons. I think I’ve got some pretty solid support. Petrov Lodovka, Mischa Medyved, old Ratibor the Shatterer.

Still, might want to approach some of the swordlords, Mivon, Restov, the Aldori academy. Might be useful if…

Hold on, I think I see Dare headed towards the swordlords, and he’s smiling. Do not see that ending well…

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Episode VII

We made it to the Stag Lord’s keep. Tricked him to send off half of his bandits to Muvon. Won over some of the local fae, who invis’ed all but Darius. Made it into the keep, where the Stag Lord attempted to kill Darius with his pet owlbear. This turned sideways when combat began. Stag Lord and most of the men remaining are deceased, including the owlbear, at the cost of Tralg’s life.

Finished mapping the rest of the Greenbelt, gave the Stag Lord’s body to Nettle in the Shrike River, then headed back to Oleg’s, where a missive awaited the party.

We were to go to Restov ASAP.

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Episode VI

Desna 5 – We traveled south through previously explored territory. No major incidents. Third attempt at harnessing the lightning spirit in the area failed; still need to find the right name.

Desna 6 – Entered new territory near the Shrike river. Encountered gnome traders heading to Oleg’s. Messed up staves, couldn’t decide if they were supposed to be metal with wooden additions, or wooden with metal additions. Entirely useless; such inconsistency in construction throws off the natural energies. The booming we heard later was most likely the sound of the staves malfunctioning when they were needed; now regret not sharing my concerns with the gnomes when I had the chance.

Found Nettle’s Crossing; entirely collapsed. Maybe if any of the gnomes survived, they could assist in rebuilding this crossing. Oh, and some sort of cursed undead (probably goes by Nettle) wants to see the Stag Lord’s body thrown into the water at the crossing and it will let us rebuild the crossing. Entirely fair. We didn’t have a plan yet for the body, and as interesting as it would be to pull a Grand Duchess Syrinae-Gaill and mail the Stag Lord’s body back to his next of kin in sausage form, it would take entirely too long to pull off. Realistically, the body would probably be decaying by the time we even figured out where his next of kin are. Also, if the Grand Duchess found out that I tried and failed to replicate one of her renowned torments, she would probably turn my family into stirges. Or worse. Oh, and I’m not sure the rest of my company would appreciate the gesture. They seem weirded out by me already.

Desna 7 – We found kobolds in the hills near the Shrike river, west of Nettle’s crossing. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any underground tunnels to the southern side of the river. Fortunately, they seemed to like us well enough, and could be of some use when we begin to… exploit the area. Only need to clear out some mites.

Desna 8 – Made it to the big sycamore with the mite tunnels underneath. Turns out we weren’t dealing with any sort of dire insect, but the pathetic wild fey. I think the insect would have put up a fight. Problem solved.

Desna 9 – We returned with a kobold prisoner that the mites had taken, a statue of some sort of importance, and some coins. The kobolds invited us in to their caves. Note: caves of later interest.

The kobold shaman/high priest objected to our presence. The chieftain defended us. Nymka and I decided to play a trick on the high priest. High priest responded by outing the fact that the tribe’s patron was a joke. A few moments later, the high priest was dead, the kobolds offered us his stuff, and we left on good terms with what was left of the tribe.

Desna 10 – found intersection of Thorn and Shrike rivers. Getting closer to Stag Lord’s hall. Met Rhea the warg. She seemed impressed by Hammond’s hunting skills. Took one of Darius’s bad wanted posters for the Stag Lord and nailed it to a tree near the intersection. Unlikely that the Stag Lord’s men will miss it. Also found thornberries.

Desna 11 – Explored area north of the intersection. Found two-headed goat statue again. Not impressed.

Desna 12 – another two-headed goat statue! Very concerned now. Was this area home to a large Lamashtu cult, or does the two-headed goat signify something else? Some local demonic cult of the Greenbelt? Could this creature be sponsoring the Stag Lord? Questions to ponder.

We found a ford on the southern Thorn river and crossed over. Checking last part of the western bank of the Thorn tomorrow.

Desna 13 – Today is a day that I will remember forever. Every 13th of Desna, for as long as I live, shall be celebrated by me and my kin.

Today, I met Squirrel-Fucker.

His cabin, on the western embankment of the Thorn and Shrike intersection, served as the farthest point south our group wanted to go without a plan of attack for the Stag Lord’s hall, and after introducing ourselves to Squirrel-Fucker, we began our travel north to Oleg’s.

Desna 14 – Ran out of feed for the animals today. note: 200 lbs of feed covers 10 days of exploration and travel. Had to graze my horse and mule with everyone else now.

Desna 15 – Stopped by Boken’s with thornberries. Received a discount on potions for the next month. When I attempted to examine the construct in his garden again, he chased me away with his walking stick.

Returned to Oleg’s. Restocking and drawing up plans for clearing out the Stag Lord.

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Episode V

I’m trying to look back on the past few days as I write this down, so my memory might be a bit fuzzy [You’re a bit fuzzy] Hush, so are you now (-haha!-). It has been raining from deluge to random showers to traveling through marsh to so humid you have to chew the air before you swallow it. Any paper would be destroyed as I try to write on it, so I’ve had to wait until we returned to Oleg’s to get any of this down. (Could have carved it in stone) I didn’t want to weigh down the horses with stone tablets (#You have a shitty horse#) So you’ve said in the past.

Anyway, it was an interesting few days. We fought a bear – it was painful (Should have left him alone) Maybe, but beside the point now. Besides, it was good meat [MEAT!] Yes, meat. Costin did…Costin things. We also encountered a few boggards near the river, however they got away into the river prior to encountering them. More on them later (%Boggards aren’t SO bad%) (#How so?#) (%Unique skeletal structure%) (<sigh>).
One area that had a couple major points of interest. First, we hit a rock formation that looked like an owl. Mage thought it “meant something.” Of course, everything means something to him. (&He is a bit touched, but sometimes he does see things that others miss&) (He needs to be touched a bit more…in the head…with a club…with spikes…and…) That’s enough. We all get the point. We then found an overgrown statue of Erastil and the remains of what we think was once a hunting lodge. We did some hunting, offered up a bit of a ritual, and our weapons have been…more effective since then. A nice minor blessing from a nice, minor deity (~BE NICE~). I…huh. So we finally broke through that communication barrier? (~…~) Or not. (~DIFFICULT~). Got it. We’ll keep working at it.
After that, we ran into a couple griggs, but we made nice with them, gave them some food and fun respect, and moved on. By the way, thanks for the tips on the fey encounters we’ve hit so far Aepha (!No problem!!). Are they dangerous? Not really (!) but they can cause major problems. Besides, much more useful to have them as allies than as enemies. Good scouts, know the terrain, maybe even cause problems for Staglord’s men.

After a couple days of finishing scouting the west-ish side of the river, we forded it once the rain had lessened. Ran across a few of the Staglord’s men. Engaged in conversation with them while posing as more bandits…seriously, how stupid and ineffective is their codeword system anyway? (pretty bad. What they need to do is implement a surface codeword system that is actually nothing, a ruse. Use some sort of rudimentary thieves cant during the exchange of words with the actual pass that is for a long period of time. Sure, it can be infiltrated as well, but the additional ruse would have made your lives…our lives…whatever…more difficult) You’re probably right, but I’m not about to give them that tip (quite right).

Anyway, we started riding and talking, mage was acting more nutty than usual…how did I end up not the crazy one in the group, anyway? (You’re not crazy) Maybe not technically, but I do hear voices, and talk to them, and take advice from them. Most people would call that crazy (true). Sure, he was playing it up, acting a part…but I’m not sure how much he was really exaggerating, really. Talked to a gladiator once, who said the way to play to the crowd was to just amplify your own personality…so there is that. Anyway, talked to them, they knew nothing, we killed them.

Ran into a scrag under a bridge in the middle of nowhere. I really need to look into the reality warping aspects of the fey. We shape reality through the physical, the intellectual, the spiritual, but they fey can warp it by their mere presence at times. (/hehe/) Sure warped Costin’s head, that’s for sure. The scrag…killed it.

We then hit a marshy area, and had an…interesting…encounter with a boggard named Goruum. After some initial unpleasantness [Should have eaten his liver] with him and his slurk [Should have eaten his liver] {What is with you and livers? You’re starting to sound like Costin} […nevermind.] we made nice. He apparently had some problems with his previous…tribe? Group? Whatever. Told him about the boggards we saw the previous day, and he said he would take care of it. Gave us a bit of his shinies to go take care of Tuskgutter.

Finally we found Tuskgutter. He’s a big pig. (^You can be a big pig too^) You keep saying that. I don’t get it. We killed him, bagged him, drug him back to Oleg’s. Turned things in for their reward, which will be incoming. Told Jhod about the Erastil stuff we found, and informed him of the dead unicorn and the corruption surrounding it. We heard speculation that there may be a war between Summer factions in the area over turf (!That’s not good!) No kidding.

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Episode IV
The Journal of Darius, Part II

The Greenbelt Expedition Continues. We spent an extra day recovering at Oleg’s from our epic battle. We ordered some new equipment and sold off some of our loot from the bandits. I won the toss for a spiffy new chain shirt, and I ordered a nice new buckler to match it.

We also questioned our bandit prisoners. One of them seemed to know Tralg, and Tralg got pretty upset. It sounds like our friend may have a little more history with the Stag Lord’s merry band than he lets on. We’ll need to dig into that a little more before we go too much farther. If he’s the former bandit leader that got kicked out when the Stag Lord moved in or if he was a trusted captain that betrayed the bandit “lord”, I would like to know sooner rather than later.

I had hoped that we might be able to reform the bandits. The whole “Bandits should be executed” law seems to be a little harsh. But Tralg lobbied pretty hard for them to be executed. I’m trying to not think that he’s trying to hide something.

In other news, I made some great new wanted posters for the Stag Lord that I wanted to post around. They were really funny…. I drew him as a weredeer and put a really low bounty on him. Unfortunately, my companions can sometimes be ninnies and they threw a big fuss about “announcing our presence” and “catching him by surprise” and other things. I try to be patient with them. I understand that many of them are a little fragile. But it ruins the fun if we just skulk around the wilderness all the time.

We finished exploring the area around the bandit camp and found the ford. We crossed over and killed the “mean bear” that was a cursed cleric of Erastil that went a little crazy in his exile. Once the bear was killed, the temple and the environs around it reverted back to normal.

We explored the source of the skunk river and found the hot spring the fey told us about. It was guarded by three of the biggest frogs I ever saw. They tried to eat Hamond.

We explored some more land. In the week since we left Oleg’s, we have once again found 0 people. Good or bad. We did kill some more boars and found some evidence of previous attempts at civilization. There was a crumbling hill that contained something that may be a resource.

In the southwestern-most corner of our charter, something bad is happening. There is evidence of corruption in the land and something killed a unicorn and stole its horn without touching it. I’m eager to avenge this murder, but we were unable to uncover any leads on who did it, how they did it, and why. Rest assured, we are not done yet.

We found another river crossing at the Skunk River that was being guarded by 3 of the tatzelwyrms. It had rained nonstop all day, so the river was a bit deeper than normal. It was a fierce fight but we won the day and claimed the ford.

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Episode III

Report of the scout Tralg of the Greenbelt Expedition.

“Day 17. Rained. Hard. Found a cave. Big spider already in it. Killed it. They found the bones of one of the Stag Lord’s Men. Armor. Map. Nice sword, good steel. Darius (the city-boy) didn’t want it. Didn’t want it for damned near 20 minutes.

Day 18. Plains. Found Horses. Didn’t kill them.

Day 19. Found a well and an old tree. Costin, the fey-touched one, said it was safe. Stuck to beer that night.

Day 20. Found a lizard in a tree. Tried to eat me. Killed it. Also found the tree in the dead guy’s map. Had a cache there. Took it.

Day 21. Hamond, the halfling, trained my horse to fight. Good. Found a shrine to Lamashtu. Did what needed doing. With a hammer. It healed. Hit it with the hammer again. The mage, Costin, had the right idea. Also found… never mind. Nothing else. Nope.

Day 22. Heavy fog. Couldn’t see shit. Went with Nymka, that’s the cat guy and Darius. Found the local camp of the Stag Lord’s boys. Waited.

Day 23. Hit the bandit camp. Got made. Got mad. Charged in. ‘Axe-lady’ was there. She put me down. Don’t know what happened after that. But we seemed to have killed the shit out of them. Took two prisoners back to the Levetons. Darius didn’t go down. I did. Might not have to take that one home in a haversack after all. Maybe."

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Episode II
The Further Adventures of Darius Lodovka and His Companions

When I signed up for this quest, I was prepared for days of endless adventure. With brigands around every corner and damsels in distress in every town.

We have had some interesting encounters to be sure. But the only “civilization” that we have seen is the trading post. And one isolated cabin that belongs to a creepy guy named Boken. We came upon Boken’s hut while exploring, and he’s apparently into crafting potions and elixers. He’s not so much into social interactions. I’m pretty sure that he’s a witch, and he gives me the wiggins when I’m near him. My last relationship with a witch ended badly, and I’m not anxious to form any kind of friendship with this one. While I am a shapeshifter, I prefer to limit my shapes to my natural form and my human one. My new companions seem to have no such reservations.

We’ve explored a pretty big chunk of the lands that we have been assigned to. The number of towns and cities we’ve discovered? 0. The number of beautiful young maidens we’ve seen? Also 0. Despite these disappointments, my companions are quite entertaining. There’s the free halfling and his pet wolf. Or maybe the wolf and his servant the halfling. I’m not sure. There’s also a cleric with a personality crisis. Remember the game we played as children called Siren’s Throne? It seems to be kind of like that, except when the music stopped everyone threw themselves into the throne at the same time. The throne in this case just happens to be our cleric. He apparently has some fey personalities. Possibly a necromancer. We aren’t totally sure. But he argues with himself often.

Our other spellcaster claims to have been abducted by fey for a decade. He has some really strange powers – including the power to heal.

Then there’s the half-orc that is far too serious for his own good. He’s also very serious about his killing. He needs to learn to lighten up a little.

Anyway, my companions make travel entertaining enough.

We met a couple of fey – a grig and a pseudodragon – and we befriended them. They had killed a hunter for crossing them, but it sounds like he kind of had it coming. They seemed to enjoy the fact that I’m hiding my true form from those I’m traveling with.

I also have an owlbear claw now. Why do I have an owlbear claw? Because an owlbear attacked us and tried to crush me in its most unwelcome embrace. My companions managed to take it down before it broke all of my ribs. But I’m keeping a claw for my trouble.

The fey were able to give us a lot of information. We know where another bandit camp is, where we can find the corrupted temple that has a “mean bear” guardian, and the location of a warm spring.

There’s a lot of wilderness – primarily plains with a little bit of forest. We had an opportunity to take down four wild boars, which left us with some really delicious bacon.

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Episode 1
Off to a trippy start

The party arrived at the trading post on the border of the Stolen Lands (run by Oleg and Svetlana Leveton) the evening before a certain bandit lord’s henchthings were due to arrive for tax collection. As most of the party was convinced that keeping the one place they could sell their loot open for business was important, they decided to ambush the collectors the next day. This went surprisingly well, all things considered.

Afterwards, the party collected information from the surviving collector on his patron, the Stag Lord. They also unlocked two side quests, one dealing with collecting moonradishes and the other hunting down a dangerous set of pork chops.

Rather than head straight for the Stag Lord’s outpost, the party moved west to secure the nearby territories in order to root out any surprises. One surprise, a patch of moonradishes with a group of intoxicated kobolds, also came out to the party’s advantage as they convinced the kobolds to head to a “larger patch” of moonradishes farther to the northwest, while the party loaded up on moonsugar- er, moonradishes for Svetlana.

The party cleared out a few more square miles of territory, including taking out a giant centipede, and returned to the trading post to turn in the gather quest. Upon arrival, they discovered that Brevoy had sent some guards, led by Kesten Garess and Jhod Kavken, to help secure the trading post against further extortion.

Costin’s footnotes:

No brownies encountered. Found three stones in perfect triangle in the Moonradish patch, though. Good sign; means someone’s watching. Maybe they’ll talk soon.

Giant centipede didn’t want to talk. Apparently an actual centipede! Very confusing.

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