KingMaker: Rise of the Dawn Lords

Growth of the City-State, 2nd Month of Winter, Turn 6

In the icy days of high winter, Freehold expands into the plains where we found the Gold Mine.
Our trade road is extended to the Mine, and work on developing the mine is started!

In the city itself, a new Shop District is built, improving the growing economy,
and raising the Base Purchase Value to 3000gp.

Mal goes off on an emissary trek, and manages through Diplomacy to provide a +16 to next month’s Economy roll!
(5BPs worth of high level drinking!)

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Winter is Here...
Season 2, Episode 2

2nd Month of Winter:

Freehold has laid claim to the Gold Mine enroute to Oleg’s,
but there has been rumor of new menace in that area,
so we gather, and go forth to purge and pacify!

Villi finds spoor of large wolves, FAR larger than normal than any wolf should be…
We set up an ambush, planning to catch the creatures by surprise,
for we think they are Winter Wolves, and evil as well as intelligent.
The heavy hitters (Villi, Somar, Senestra) head out to attack the 5 wolves we had tracked
to a small hillock, with Chloe and Alastrina in rear support.

All to no avail! Two further Winter Wolves spring on our rear party just as Villi leads the attack on the “5” we knew of…
Chloe is laid low by foul frosty breath attacks,
(luckily falling beneath the snow and out of sight of the Wolves)
In the ensuing melee, Villi kills 2 wolves, Somar kills 2 and also drives 1 off, and Senestra kills a further beast,
only one Winter Wolf remains alive to flee our attack.

The Mines are secured, and we leave the mining crew and road builders to their tasks, as we head home for rest and recuperation.

3rd Month of Winter

While resting and planning our next exploration and land claim,
we learn of a creature to the SouthWest, beleived to be a Hag,
that has been attacking and killing lonely travelers and children of the area.

We scout along the Western shore of Lake Tuskwater,
and find a small Hut with surrounding scarecrows,
evidently the lair of the Hag.

Chloe is angry and looking for a quick attack,
but calmer heads prevail,
and we approach as a diplomatic parley…
Much saber rattling and posturing ensues,
but we learn that this creature, Elga Verniax,
is NOT a Hag, and NOT evil!
She swears she has not attacked any children,
and wishes only to be left alone…
She agrees to a deal, whereby we agree to protect her claim and request,
while she promises to harm no citizen of Freehold, and to assist us as she can against the Trolls to the West.
She also asks our assistance to retrieve some mushrooms from the eastern shore of Tuskwater, that happen to be guarded by a Lockjaw Turtle.
(another Quest!) and promisses us assistance with scrying in payment.

We also identify the Crow familiar of Tartuk, the kobold(nee Gnome) sorcerer,
and warn Elga of his evil plans.

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I write again.

I have begun to embrace my time in the forest, with Erastil’s guidance. But something has happened. I feel… different. My anger has always been there, a guide and a focus for me, but now there’s a strange… hunger. I am more comfortable than ever in the forests, and my senses have gotten sharper. I see more easily in the moonlight than ever I had before, and I can smell the rut on a woman… This must be part of the sign of favour… But it is troubling. I have strange dreams, where I run in the night, and hunt. Where I call to my brothers and sisters and sing a song of unity and the chase, though I have no brothers, and my sisters were no hunters… I glory in the blood taste when I bring down my prey, and once, when I had this dream, I awoke deep in the forest, with blood on my lips, and a full belly. I am… not afraid, but cautious. Could this mean that my prayers are being despised? I must consult Jod…

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The City State Grows

Over the month of early winter, the City State of Freehold expanded along the Skunk River into WoodsEdge, building a road from the capital into the woods, where a Sawmill was founded to assist in the harvest of wood from the NarlMarches Forest.

While exploring the territory, our Adventurers found Troll Spore! Tracks of 4 of the fould beasts were raiding in our new territory! We follow the tracks and plan for an ambush on the trolls, who seem to be hunting a small group of settlers.
We try to launch the attack before the trolls can attack the settlers, but the evil marauders are able to attack the settler’s camp just before we attack them from behind.
A bloody and fierce battle ensues, with Villi attacking close in, while the archers rain death into the hulking beasts, and Chloe’s summoned Earth Elementals keep the trolls pinned.
Alas, all the settlers were killed before we could stop the trolls, but Senestra finds one small 6 year old girl still alive, and brings her back to the camp.
After burning the trolls, and burying the fallen settlers, we head back to Freehold, with a new ward.

In the cold of Midwinter, the CityState expands up the Thorn River to the rapids where the old rope bridge had been. A road is laid along the eastern shore of the Thorn.

In the depths of the cold of winter, a plague strikes Freehold, and the populace is shaken, production falls while the people sequester themselves, and a quarantine is enplaced. The disease passes, but the effects still linger.

To help calm the populace and provide a respite from the depths of winters chill, a Brewery is also built in Freehold!

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I write.
I write.

I have a time to write a note. I have learned this much from Mal. I am glad that the Stag Lord fell – he slaughtered and slaved. This is not bad, but he did this for his wealth, and not for honour, or revenge. He came close to sending me to my father. My friends kept me alive. Eslauren is a woman worth having children on. We got our revenge by destroying his men, destroying his wealth, and assaulting his fortress. Finally, we took his head, and he fell beneath our blades and spells. This is good as we took fame, and plunder from him, we took his fortress and are making it our own.

Gorum knows my strength – he gave it to me to use. He did not prepare me for death, which came too close to taking me. Eslauren says Shelyn would shield me, and sing me to the other side, and give me sweetness for all time. But if I do not take these things with my strength, then what sweetness would they be for me? How could I enjoy these things? Erastil, the Lord of the Forests and Hunt – he understands the need for strength and for the struggle to take that which one would have. And yet, he understands the need to protect the young and weak lest their destruction cause ruination for nature and it’s balance. I shall enjoy all of them – Gorum’s strength in battle, Shelyn’s love of the fruits of pleasure, but shall also call on Erastil for the right of defense of the weak and helpless. It will be so.

We have brought back from death Krato, now called Kratina – she was returned to us by Erastil’s grace in a stronger form, and one well worth siring children on. They would be strong, and smart. I will consider this.

Upon the death of the Stag Lord, I appear to have been gifted by the gods with something that I do not understand, but it appears to be a mark of their favour. I shall go into the forest and look for a sign. But then, perhaps this IS the sign. It must be so. I call upon the name of Gerd, my father, for guidance. And I shall devote myself to the creation of this new place. This freehold.

May the gods and my father guide me.

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Continuing Somar's Story

CHAPTER 3

I remember some pretty horrific times during training. People with weaker minds simply don’t make it. I felt slightly remorseful about them not making it. I certainly had my fair share of hardships. I felt myself sink into daydream.
“I’ve told you that you killing them is much more important than the target living.” The instructor assassin scolded me. His stony glare bore into my 10 year old mind. I stared back wide eyed. His stare did not let up. He tossed me a wooden sword from a small group leaned up against the stone wall. I caught it, and snapped into a ready position. My eyes scanned the room and the instructor for any advantages I’d have. He disappeared. I tensed, and looked around frantically. A wooden blade hit the side of my head with a loud thunk. I winced and involuntarily put my hand up to feel for any injury. The wooden blade made another appearance, this time hitting my hand with a crack. I grit my teeth, but let out a yelp. A cold iron blade was at my throat. “Dead.” The instructors voice said in monotone. I looked at my hand. It was bloodied, but I don’t think they cared. I reacted fast. My short ten year old legs kicked the instructor where it’d hurt, then my hands grabbed the wooden practice sword. I brought it down with a loud crack.

Sleep is a place of dreams and nightmares. I don’t mind my nightmares, but sometimes they get to me.

_I felt like I was being dragged. I opened my eyes, and saw my parents being dragged too. I screamed.

“No! Not this again!” I managed before a sick feeling caught me. A vile taste infected my tongue, and I wrinkled my nose in disgust. I struggled against the people holding me, and unsheathed my dagger. I kicked the man’s legs from under him. He fell with a loud thud. The people dragging my parents turned around. I quickly lifted the man on the ground’s head and slit his throat. A disgusting grey liquid came out. Revolted I backed up, and stabbed the man behind me.

He blocked with his sword. I rolled under the slash that he aimed for my head. The dust from the cracks of the cobble stone road welled up by our dodging, shuffling and attacking. I stabbed him in the throat and let his body fall into the murky water. The other man ran. I pulled my knife from it’s sheath and threw it, hitting the man in the neck. I walked towards my parents, who were standing by the water looking at the waves.

“Mom. Dad. You ok?” I asked worriedly. Their silence was long.

“You were too late S’mar.” My father said in a deep,quiet whisper using his nickname for me.

“Huh?” I said surprised at the response. I crouched down beside him, watching his and my mother’s feet float in the water. My mother turned to me. I screamed, and got to my feet, drawing my dagger.

Her hair hung in wet clumps, her face was hollow and moldy. Her eyes were missing, eaten by fish. My father’s face turned to me, his face in a similar state. Their skeletal hands grabbed me with inhuman speed. My mother grabbed my dagger, and my father grabbed me, dragging me to the water and throwing me onto the cobblestone ground. I kicked, but it felt like kicking some sticks. My father did not even wince.

“You shouldn’t play with knives S’mar. You might cut yourself.” My mother said in a dry vicious tone, one that in reality I’d never hear out of her.

“It’s time to sleep S’mar.” My father said in a menacing tone, then forced my head underwater. I held my breath before he’d done it, and found fear soon choking me in my throat.

“Mmmmm! Mmmm!” I screamed, struggling as I felt breath leave my lungs, air going to the surface in large bubbles, and water entering my lungs. I tried to cough it up, but only more entered. I felt weakened, drained of energy. I felt the rest of me hit the water. I sunk for a little, unable to comprehend what had happened, then tried to swim. No matter how far I swan, the setting sun got farther and farther.

“Wake up idjeet!” Someone yelled in the far corners of what remained of my conciseness.
_
I woke up to a very angry Vincent.

“You fucking idjeet!” He screamed, returning to a strange accent had faded, but thickened when he was angered.

“I was asleep. What did I do?” I asked, rubbing my eyes to try to erase what my mind had spun in sleep.

“You kept fucking screaming and writhing.” He said in annoyance. I sighed in apology.

“Sorry. It was a nightmare.” I yawned, and got up.

“Must be a real scary one if yer screaming so fuckin loud.” He scoffed his accent now thick. I shrugged.

“Ok, I’m sorry. It’s night anyway, so you have to wake up.” I reasoned. He rolled his eyes.
“Sorry I’m tired.” He apologized, his accent fading. I sighed in relief.

“Well, I’m starving I said, as I got up. He rolled his eyes, and curled up again. I sighed, and threw on my cloak, and walked out. I looked up at the bright moon in the midst of the inky sky. Tonight is rather uneventful.

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Somar's Story

I’m not sure why I’m writing this story down at all. Maybe when I die, and we all die sooner or later, I want someone to know how I became who I am.

I don’t enjoy reliving the past……so, let’s be done with this quickly.

PROLOGUE

“Mom! Dad!” I scream as the figures drag them away in ropes. My small 7 year old’s body was being held back by large adult’s
hands. Tears streamed down my face, as the person lifted me, tied me with rough, itchy ropes, and took me along with them. I
heard my parents sob and beg for them to spare me. The thieves took us to the river. Their eyes were full of greed, and
held no sorrow or pity. We were dragged to the river. The cobblestone road was cracked, and loose stones made dust rise up.
I coughed as the dust flew in my face. My mother sobbed, her long black hair sticking to her face, and my father’s curses
rang loud, his short black hair stuck together with sweat.
“No, not our son!” My mother cried, and was shoved into a cage that was floating in the water. Her blue eyes showed
fear, and sadness. My father was thrown into another. His grey eyes held rage, and sorrow.
“Mom! Dad!” I cried, struggling against the man holding me back. Their eyes showed no pity behind the blank masks. They began
to tie large stones to the cages. Two large men held the cages up.
“The money, this is what happens when you don’t pay taxes on our plane.” A man said, and the men released the cages. My mother’s cries,
and my father’s curses haunt me. The cages drifted to the very bottom, small bubbles trailing after them.
“Mom! Dad! No!” I screamed,struggling against the man holding me back. He let me go. I stumbled over to the water of the river.
I couldn’t see anything in the murky depths. It smelt of sewage. I felt sick, and scared. I heard a sword being drawn from it’s
sheath. I looked at the sound’s direction, wide eyed. I tried to scramble away, but a short, stocky man caught me. A tall,
broad man swung the sword at me. I screamed a short, quiet curse, then closed my eyes, expecting pain to come shortly after.
I heard the clatter of metal on stone, and felt the hands holding me slacken. I pushed the man away, and my hands came away
bloodied by his blood. An arrow was in his throat. A knife was in the man wielding the sword’s back. I ran, being pushed
around by the panicking thieves. I rushed to the man’s body with the knife in it, took the knife, and cut the ropes
binding my hands together. Another man came at me with a dagger. I quickly threw the knife at him, hoping it’ll hit. I must’ve
had the devil’s luck back then, because it hit.
Something’s seemed a blur. Death rained from the skies in the form of arrows. Soon I was surrounded by bodies. I saw dark
figures in the trees for a brief second, then nothing. Silence filled the air. A hand grabbed my shoulder. My first reaction
was to stab backwards, but it was blocked, and the knife I’d scavenged was lost. I then looked behind. There was a man, a
black mask on his face, and his clothes were mottled black and grey. The trousers were tight, but seemed easy to move in. He
had a black and grey tunic on and a cowled cloak, and a pair of black gloves. I looked at him in shock.
“T-thank you s-sir.” I managed to get out. He crouched down beside me. I think I was in shock still.
“Child, would you like to live with my family now? I made a promise to your mother and father a few years ago, that if anything happens I’d take you in.” He said quietly. His voice was quite low. I looked at him.
“I-I would.” I answered. What would’ve happened if I didn’t accept? What would I be like now? I ask myself the sometimes.

Training was arduous, mentally and physically. I’d spend long, cold dark nights scouting. I’d memorize every countries
geographical feature. I’d be given an easy kill assignment, and had to be done within a time limit. I’d memorize every
poisonous plant and every poison’s effect. Stealth missions were the easiest. During that period of time, I don’t think I held
much of a conversation. To be told, the foresty mountains I trained in were alway so quiet. It felt like making even the
slightest noise would have a horrific outcome. To tell the truth, not everyone that went there ever come to the guild. They either died or came out alive.
I heard my name being called. I sit up straight on my bed. My musings always take me far away from the time present. My
room was simple. Stone floors, stone walls, two beds, one for me and one for my roommate, a chair and a table, and the only
reason I’d be having a roommate was from a recent collapse in the northern tunnels where a couple rooms where. I happened
to be unlucky and was given a roommate. It was always cool, but I never really complained. We were underground after all.
“Somar, can I come in? Or do you have someone else in there.” The voice said again. I rolled my eyes, and recognized it as
my roommate, Vincent.
“Yes, you can come in.” I said, combing a hand through my black hair. His head of red hair peeped into the room,
then he walked in. Vincent was stocky, but he was also quite tall. I was lean, and slightly muscular. We were quite opposite.
His brown eyes looked the room over.
“You have a target. Father wanted me to give you this. It’s just some information.” He said, plopping down beside me, and
handing me an an envelope. I opened it and quickly read it over.
Kill Duke Kelmford. The client hiring you is Lady Ames, report to her at sunrise in Birch Song Garden. Duke Kelmford should
be in the area currently.
I went over to the table, grabbed the candle, and lit the paper on fire.
“Well, see you around.” Vincent said. I put on my cloak and mask, and nodded. Tonight Duke Kelmford will die.

CHAPTER 1

I opened the door to the guild, and slipped out. I grabbed one if the horses that grazed in a fenced
in area around a pond, and sent it on a gallop to the city. It panted heavily, and I could smell the
musty scent of sweat and fur. After 12 years of training, I’d improved on stamina, strength, vision
and hearing from when I was seven. I was nineteen then. I could make out a steeple tower of the
town. I rode the horse along a dusty path for around ten more minutes. When I’d reached the
bright lantern lit streets of the town, I tied the reins to a tree that was just in the shadows of the
forest. The horse snorted, and began to graze. I rolled my eyes, and brought the cowl of my cloak
over my head. I looked around, my excellent vision picking out where the rich made their homes, and where the not so
fortunate stayed. I climbed up the tree, and leapt onto a roof. I hit it hard and rolled to prevent any damage. The roofs
weren’t as bright as the streets, in fact I doubt anyone could see me at all. I leapt from rooftop to rooftop. I eventually
reached a church roof, slightly tilted. I leapt on, and slipped slightly. I could hear the footsteps of the town’s guard patrolling
the streets. I quickly gripped the ends of the roof, then pulled myself up. Being on this plane meant that even I had to
obey the laws of gravity, though gravity is more myth than fact now.
I walked silently to the very tip of the roof, and looked around. My ears pricked for any noise, my eyes focused for any
person out at this unholy hour.
“Oh, Duke Kelmford you are such a gent.” A voice giggled, a high pitched laugh that hurt my sensitive hearing. I grimaced.
“Ah, Sylves you are such a beauty.” A man, who I assumed was my target flirted.
“Ah, but what would Duchess Kelmford think?” The woman mocked. I heard a low chuckle.
“Ah, Sylves my dear, she’ll never find out.” The target chuckled. I looked down, and saw a tall man arm in arm with a young
woman. I followed them closely. The target opened a door to a large estate, and held it open for the woman. She giggled and
walked in. I followed them inside. The interior was large. It had many statues, pillars, fountains, and many other kinds of
furnishing, perfect. Many candles, and lanterns were lit, casting large shadows off the furnishing. That’s the cause for many
targets downfall. They have too many large furnishings, and many lights. This causes many pockets of darkness, and many
hiding places. Not to brag, but us Fetchlings are the masters of stealth, so it’s rather difficult to spot us until its too late. I heard
the pair walk up the stairs.
“But where are the servants?” The woman asked, leaning her head against his shoulder. My target chuckled.
“I allowed them the night off dearest.” He answered. I leaned against the wall beside the staircase. A statue had made a large
blotch of darkness there. I was quiet snug there.
“oh how kind of you.” She said adoringly. This was sickening. I spun my dagger in one hand, watching them climb the
staircase. When they’d reached the top and turned the corner, I silently ran up the stairs, and to the hiding spot provided by a
small couch. When they’d passed through a door to a bedroom, I found it best to go outside and climb through the window. I
waited for the noises to stop, and the snoring to start. They definitely had wine, I could smell it. The door opened, and I saw
the woman slip out. I opened the window, and climbed in. The target reached over to the other side of the bed.
“Sylves you there?” He mumbled. I chose this time to act. I unsheathed my dagger, just as his eyes began to adjust to the low
lighting.

-Duke’s pov- I looked at the face I thought was Sylves’s. It had similar eyes, but held a sharp intelligence and coldness in it’s steely blue depths. A dagger came down at my throat before I could scream. Something warm ran down my neck before a darkness, much more frightening than the darkness of sleep took over.

THE FOLLOWING DAY

-Lady Ames Pov- I sat on a bench in front of a swan pond in Birch Song Garden. The day was warm, and so was my dark blue dress, so I began to fan myself with a folding fan. A dark figure stepped out of the shadow of a tall willow tree. It seemed to be almost morphed with the shadow, and it shocked me. The dark figure sat beside me, a leg crossed over another. It was the assassin I’d hired.
“You must be Lady Ames.” He said, his voice quiet and muffled slightly by the mask. I could only see two steely blue eyes, looking at me.
" You must be the assassin." I said politely. He gave a calculating look. “I am.” He said quietly. A warm wind began, and blew the petals of some red roses loose. They scattered on the ground like blood drops.
“Why do you hide your face?” I asked inquisitively. He was quiet for a long time. His eyes had become distant, glazed over. I wonder what he was thinking.
“In this world, you can never truly trust someone.” Was his reply. His eyes had become sharp and calculating again. I pulled a large bag out of my hand bag. It was full of gold.
“Here’s your payment.” I said, handing him the bag. His gloved hand took it, and opened it. His eyes looked it over, then he closed it, and pocketed it. His eyes stared directly into mine.
“You remind me of someone.” He said quietly, his eyes soft, distant and sad, but was replaced with a bitter look. He got up, and removed his mask.
“I’ve been told to show my face more frequently to prove the rumors wrong. Guess I’d better get started.” He said looking at me with a cold smile. His face was something that shocked me. I’ve heard rumors of their faces being scared, mutilated, and deformed. The Fetchling’s face was normal, handsome even. He had sharp features, sharp down turned eyes, thin lips that curled up into a small smirk, and dark straight long hair, that nearly covered his eyes.
“Hmmm, and yes, we don’t sell our souls to demons or do dark magic.” He said, and put the mask back on. His eyes were sharp and calculating.
“Speak of this to anyone, and you’ll be the next target. Understand?” He said coldly, and his dagger was in his hand, being spun. I gulped.
“Y-yes.” I stammered, and got up,eyeing the dagger. He nodded, and disappeared into the shadow of the willow again,but as he walked past I could barely make out his shape.
Later that day back at the guild.
That woman reminded me of this girl from training. She’s dead now though. I stare at the rocky ceiling of my room, spinning my dagger. Day time reveals what’s hidden. It’s not my time to work.

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The Founding of Freehold

Upon receipt of proof of the Stag Lord’s death,
Brevoy sends a messenger with papers confirming our right to found a new State in the GreenBelt lands.
Caravans soon follow, with settlers, material for construction, and a large safe box with funds to help start the first settlement.

We lead the caravans to the Old Keep on the shores of Tuskwater Lake,
and found the first settlement, Freehold, there.

The Republic of Freehold is founded!
A neutral good city-state.

Duties, positions, and titles are discussed and appointed to the various characters of our group,

Ruler-Premier Es’Lauren
Councilor Chloe
General Villi
Grand Diplomat Mal
“Heir” Kashikoi
High Priest Abarsis (Pharasma)
Magister Finn
Marshal Senestra
Royal Enforcer Alastrina
Spymaster Somar
Treasurer Kratina
Warden Arianrod

The Old Keep is rebuilt as a Castle, and the surrounding lands are soon cleared and prepared for settlement.
Within the Village, several housing areas are built, along with an Inn, and a Mill along the river.
Several families start farms in the immediate area as well.
We expand our territory, and lay claim to the lands along the Shrike River upriver to the lands around Sootscale’s Tribe and the Old Oak Top Silver Mine
A road is built along the northern shore of the Shrike River, with a Bridge at the ford where the Thorn River joins the Shrike, and ends at the Oak Top Silver Mine, which is re-opened, improved, and mining begun by the Kobolds.

We are also approached by a famous sculptor from Brevoy, who gifts us with a Monument Sculpture of the Death of the Stag Lord.,
and a group of more settlers wishes to start a settlement at the site of the Tatzlewurm’s lair, bringing that area into our claim and protection.

An auspicious start for the Republic of Freehold!

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Big Battle at the Stag Lord's Keep

The attack is plannned out!
Our Kobold allies will attack the Keep from the North, to draw off as many bandits as possible,
Durring the battle we will sneak across the craggy approaches from the west,
using scrolls of “hide from undead” to avoid the undead guardians/alarms.
We will then storm the Keep and take out the Stag Lord!

The plan works wonderfully, as the kobolds, after a rather ineffectual missile exchange, charge in using dirty tricks and slaughter the bandits to the man!
(Go Kobolds!)

We are able to infiltrate to the walls of the keep,
where multiple buff spells are thrown,
then over the walls!!

Most of the party makes it up and over, except Chloe who is invisible and starts around to the gate,
but Villi makes a heroic and dashing leap from the walls to the inner keep, attacking a group of archers who were preparing to pelt the party.

Chloe’s earth elementals run rampage amongst the soon pulped Bandits,
while a fire elemental starts burning the walls to distract more of the bandit bravos.

A massive rolling swarm melee ensues, as the useful party members deal death by the round, and Es’Lauren tries to make it over the walls.
Bandits, archers, and an OwlBear continue their attack on the party.
Villi continues his running battle on the inner keep’s battlements, cutting down another group of archers, and then finds the Stag Lord himself!
Villi lets out a battle cry that even our civilized characters recognize as a “Got Him!!” yell,
and enters combat with the Stag Lord, as the rest of the party tries to get in to help him.

Es’Lauren manages to get close enough to see the Stag Lord, and manages to cast Doom on him,
hoping to keep Villi alive for a few rounds more, untill the remainder of the fighters arive.
She also manages to cast Command-Drop, causing the Stag Lord to drop his bow, saving Villi from more magic arrow mayhem.
Finn adds in a hex, further lowering the Stag Lords saves, which allows Es’Lauren to cast Hold Person successfully!
Villi and hackers league recognize the advantage, and all start hacking on the Stag Lord, who fails his save again on the following round, and is Held Person (Hold Personed?) for the final round. as the Hackers League reduce the Stag Lord to a dieing hulk…
as he expires, the Stag Lord moans a lament that he will now never again see the Godess who started him on this path.

The Earth Elementals go downstairs in the inner keep, and find an old decrepit druid, the Stag Lords father, who is quickly converted to blood pudding.

The great nemesis of the green belt is felled, and while standing over him, some of the same mystic mythic power we have seen before flows from the Stag Lords dead body into the canoptic jar held by Villi.

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Kashikoi's Book of Secrets, Entry 3

Hello book.

ATTACKED!

Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you like that. But everyone, except me, was ATTACKED last night! The crazy guy with antlers sent them. He’s so troublesome.

Anyway, all of those bad nasty people got their comeuppance. I was outside, practicing being sneaky—being sneaky is important!—and that’s when they were sneaky themselves and struck!

But, you see, they weren’t sneaky enough! This is why I must put in that extra effort to be extra super sneaky. Sneakiness = shenanigan success.

But that isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about, book. My life has been so full of changes! First the butt thing, and now this!

Let me tell you about it.

So, I was outside, right, covering myself with dirt and grass. You really have to concentrate on it. Be the dirt. Be the grass. Come to know its essence, become one with it. What is it like to be grass, book? Not something you think of everyday, is it? It’s important, though! Say to yourself, book, “I am grass.” Say it with me, “I am grass.”

No? Ok. Suit yourself. Just don’t come crying to me when someone comes looking for toilet paper and uses your pages because you weren’t sneaky enough. You should practice saying it. “Sneaky, hidey, I am the table.” Try it. It just might save you from some indignity.

Anyway, so I was out there, doing my sneaky thing, and then the squirrel came back! You know, the one who tells me secrets? I fed him some more nuts, and he said, “Follow me! I have something to show you!”

So I went, and it was really weird. You know how everything around here is flat plains, right? Well, as I followed him, things started to look really hazy, like when you wake up in the morning and have to rub your eyes with your paws, because everything is blurry and bleary. Hm. You’re right. I guess books don’t have that problem.

I started to see a shining path. It was incandescent with silver, gold, and prismatic colors. If I shook my head, it’d disappear, but that made the little squirrel mad at me, and he’d bark. So, I just shrugged my shoulders and went with it.

Sometimes you just got to go with it, book—see where life takes you. That’s adventure!

So, anyway, we walk the winding path this way and that (I could swear some of those angles were impossible, but whatever), and I notice that the sky looks very strange. It’s like those northern lights they tell you about, but it’s the whole sky! The stars were different, brighter, more colorful, in different places. Odd. It made my fur bristle.

In the distance was a little mound. And on the mound there was a ring of little, brightly colored mushrooms of all kinds. Short squat ones, tall skinny ones, round ones, conical ones. Ones that zig-zagged. But the most amazing thing was that inside the circle it was very, very hazy and blurry and bright. There was a fire in the middle, and movement all around, like fireflies or something.

Well, the closer we got, the bigger it got, and before you know it, we were in some kind of dark wood. A huge bonfire blazed in a clearing, with tables around with all kinds of strange dishes and drinks. Crystal pitchers filled with something that looked like liquid light that danced and burned violet and blue.

Beautiful people danced around the fire, lithe, pale, and smiling. The air was alive with merriment. My kind of place.

The squirrel was gone, and a maiden dressed in a golden white gown appeared before me, as if out of nowhere, out of breath, and planted a big kiss on my cheek. She looked me in the eyes—her eyes were a wild purple that promised passionate madness, perhaps death. She laughed at me and ran off.

I walked cautiously toward the revelers. Once they saw me, their smiles broadened, and they called me by name!

Well, I cannot say I remember much after that. As I walked towards them (I couldn’t stop my legs), I felt as if I had been struck dumb. My memory of events following is patchy, like dreams are. You can remember this part and that part, and you aren’t always sure if you are remembering it correctly, and sometimes you remember what happened after before what came before. Linearity is abused and causality goes all amuck. I love it.

Anyway, what I do remember is being handed a goblet by one of the maidens, she told me it was the most fiery, delicious drink that would ever pass my lips. It was the one who had kissed me. And her look was more crazed, almost desperate with impulse.

They toasted me and bid me to drink. And I’ll admit this to you, book, because I trust you, at that point I was suddenly very, very scared. What scared me? Who knows? But my knees went weak, my fur bristled, and I almost started to pant. Something in me told me to throw the goblet down and run away. But the people were so friendly, and they had raised their glasses and were all chanting, “Drink! Drink! Drink!”

So I said, “What the hell?” and I did.

At first it tasted like a most delicious, strong wine. It was hot. It burned. As it touched my tongue, its flavor hit me like a drug. My senses reeled. I cannot describe it. It was the most wild, crazy, delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.

I found it racing down my throat almost as if it were a living thing.

As I was drinking, unable to stop until the goblet was empty, I realized I knew this flavor or something like it. Blood. I think I was drinking a wine somehow made out of some kind of blood.

It made me feel very warm, and everything became suddenly clear. I can still see the goblet falling from my hands, toward the ground, in slow motion, rotating as it fell. It hit the ground in silence, bouncing once, twice, before it rolled and was still upon the verdant grass.

The raised their hands and cheered for me. I couldn’t hear them, only my slow, pounding heartbeat. I can remember little else. Faces, dancing, food I had never tasted before. More, different, wine.

I felt something very old and forgotten stir in me. I was somehow one, the same, with these people.

I woke up outside of Oleg’s, the taste of strange blood still in my mouth.

As I looked around me, the world looked different. Colors shine more brightly, shapes and sounds dance with a clarity so alive that it almost hurts.

Things move which shouldn’t. The world is suddenly more magical, and I feel as if I am more a part of that magic than I ever was. What mischief!

I understand that the world is much more pliable than once I thought it was… of course, I’ve always thought life was a kind of dance and very changeable. All foxes with any sense do. But now I see it in a new way. It’s hard to describe.

But, whatever it is, I am much more magical than before, and can do things. Such fun tricks! So watch out, book.

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