Queenmaker

MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #7
Fireday, 4 Pharast, 4716AR

Continued our wanderings today, continuing east but looping back in a northerly direction (A4). We did not find overly much at first, but we eventually came upon an enormous spider (I have been informed it is called a “trapdoor” spider by the locals) we had to dispatch. My companions were quick to rush in to engage it in hand to hand combat, and I made a noble gesture that also proved a tactical error. While I rushed in to provide the spider with a more tempting target, I also fired off an ineffectual bullet from my sling before doing so. In the future, I should play to my strengths and rush in and then lay in wait to grapple such a creature. I paid for my error when the spider bit me, and I found that its bite was venomous, sapping me of my strength. The weakness will likely linger for a few days, ensuring that the lesson hard earned is well learned.

Upon searching the spider’s nest, we found that we were not the first creatures to run afoul of it. Its trap-doored pit contained the remains of several unfortunate travelers. One was a bandit who wore a silver stag badge like the ones we previously encountered. His other treasures included a dagger and a few coins, but more interestingly, a scrap of map. As to what it leads to, we can only guess, but it depicts a cache or hidden location somewhere in the vicinity of a solitary hill with a single claw-like tree on it, and we shall keep our eyes peeled.

The wolf came back again this evening during my watch, and I again indulged him with some of our nearly inedible trail rations (he clearly does not agree).

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #6
Oathday, 3 Pharast, 4716AR

Headed southeast today. We did not find much in the grasslands (A3), though we cannot shake the feeling that something in the wilderness (or perhaps the wilderness itself) is watching us.

Upon resting for the evening, a hungry wolf came upon our camp during my watch. Not sure if he was what had been watching us during the day. I tossed him a couple of our trail rations (I am happy to be forbidden from eating them, as they do not seem especially appetizing), and he went away after literally wolfing them down.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #5
Wealday, 2 Pharast, 4716AR

We took to the road today, heading out directly to the southwest of Oleg’s trading post (A2), an area of mixed grasslands and woods. I find myself in a peculiar bind – the company has elected me to serve as quartermaster and exchequer of our little band, tallying the treasures we find and dividing them equitably. We intend to treat consumables as collective property, and any other found item a member of the group wishes to claim has its sale value counted into their share of our proceeds. I must be sure to check and recheck my figures, as figures come surely but not easily to my mind. As proof that economics remain an inscrutable mystery to me, Svetlana and Oleg rewarded us with 50 gold crowns for saving their business in its entirety. Now, she sends us forth to look for a basket of radishes, for which she will pay 250 gold crowns. I feel my head begin to hurt, and not the good ache that comes from smashing it against bricks or stone to toughen it.

We came upon the radishes in question relatively quickly. Some kobolds had gotten their first. They proved easily defeated, particularly given that the little gluttons had gorged themselves on the spicy vegetables by the time we arrived. We thrashed them soundly but did no permanent damage, as one of our other errands is to either subdue or befriend a local tribe of kobolds which has recently become more rapacious. As none of my companions spoke draconic, I was forced to use my slate to communicate with the little creatures, eventually getting across that we would take the lion’s share of the radishes, but that they could keep their own share and head home. I also asked if they needed any help with anything, and tried to determine which way they were going. Not sure they understood entirely, and they demurred any offer of aid, but I think they were heading south.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #4
Toilday, 1 Pharast, 4716AR

In the end, I was not the least bit surprised. The bandits panicked and tried to bolt as soon as they realized the situation. Falayna guided my strikes, and I was able to grab the leader of the quartet right out of his saddle. He surprised me by managing to break free, but I quickly re-established my grasp, rendering him unconscious. My companions likewise proved successful in capturing the rest of the bandits. The other bandits called him “Happs,” and he was most resistant to questioning, necessitating the use of less gentle means of encouragement. He was particularly resistant to pain, and was not forthcoming with information, even after I put him through the wall of the stables and hyperextended his elbow. Such a show of force did loosen the tongues of his compatriots somewhat. While we gained relatively little from him, his companions “Lea,” “Filch” and “Janice” volunteered that their smaller camp as well as this “Stag” bandit lord’s main camp lay in a southerly direction. The smaller camp is likewise where we are apt to find the contemptable Kressle, along with perhaps seven other highwaymen. One might say that we also got the satisfaction of putting fear into their hearts before they met their earned fates. But what accomplishment is that when the foe is a coward?

As our writs authorize us to act as official purveyors of justice, each man was presented with the choice of death by the rope or death by the sword. Lea, Filch and Janice all chose the rope, while Happs chose the sword. Afterward Oleg strung their bodies from his towers as a warning to any other bandits in the area. It seems possible that this will invite retribution from the rest of the gang, especially since Happs was apparently Kressle’s lover. But we shall continue our protection of the trading post, and seek to drive them off and follow them back to their lair should they come looking for revenge.

Following this business, we commandeered the horses of the executed bandits. We spent the rest of the day exploring and mapping out the area immediately around the trading post (A1). It is a relatively clear, open area, with few immediate dangers. It should serve us well as a base of operations for some of our initial forays out into the Greenbelt.

Upon returning from the day’s labors, we found that a man named Kesten had arrived at the Trading Post. He gave Garess as his clan name – alas, I know little of the politics of this realm, and my more local companions were also not familiar with the man. His bearing and gloomy demeanor seem all too familiar to me, and I would name him a man of action and martial training, who likely bears some dishonor in his past. I know full well from experience that such a blot can be overcome, and honor regained, but the original act can never be expunged. Should he be receptive of it, I will try to provide counsel in the ways a shamed warrior can regain their self-respect and find new purpose.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #3
Moonday, 28 Calistril, 4716AR

After four remarkably uneventful days on the road, we have arrived at Oleg’s. Oleg is, as it turns out, the owner. He and his wife Svetlana immediately assumed that we had been sent by the authorities in Rostov in response to their requests for help. While it is not impossible that this is so, we were not personally aware of the situation beforehand. It seems their trading post has become regular prey for some particularly cruel local bandits. In addition to stealing furs, gold and other trading goods from the couple, the bandits have also threatened Oleg with the loss of an appendage and threatened Svetlana with rape – in addition to shamelessly stealing her wedding band, an item I would see retrieved along with the rest of the couple’s goods. While the Order preaches that all crimes may be forgiven by Falayna, among my Shoanti brethren the thief who preys on their own people remains the lowest of the low.

As both husband and wife seem a goodly sort (though he is perhaps a little too stubbornly macho for his own good), not to mention the fact that it comports with our charter, we have agreed to help them. Apparently the bandits are a large and somewhat organized group. A particularly cruel woman named Kressle seems the worst of the lot, though the group’s leader is apparently a mystery man who uses a Stag as his symbol. According to Svetlana and Oleg, the bandits are apt to return in the morning for a fresh “tribute” from the couple. Since such cruelty and tactics also speak to cowardice, we will lay an ambush, and then close the trap upon them when they go for the bait of easy plunder. Perhaps they will prove me wrong and some of these bandits will seek to die an honorable warrior’s death in combat, but I will not be holding my breath. In the meantime Svetlana and Oleg have offered us shelter and food in exchange for our aid. They have thus far been understanding of my vows, even to the point of the lady of the house sharing her kitchen with me so that I could prepare my own food.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #2
Wealday, 24 Calistril, 4716AR

I have my writ from the Lord Mayor of Restov, granting me authority in the name of the regent of this Kingdom of Brevoy. I find it odd to swear an oath and pledge to serve a ruler that I have never looked in the eye, but I trust in the guidance of my Order. Should I find a great soul, I hope that she (or he) will keep this Truth in mind: the law binds us to obey, but the heart leads us to love the law. Whether Quah, Regent, Baron or whatever other title they may use, a ruler who seeks to secure the loyalty of others should always take care to be seen by those same people, for it is the only way to truly be known. The loyalty of affinity was ever strongest.

I have also met my fellow sworn companions on this quest. They are an odd bunch. Doubtless they would say the same about me, whether because of my size, coloration, or the behaviors required by my vows. As for whether they will be true Cousins, or merely Tshameks? Only time will tell.

As I find myself often saying lately, it has been over 50 years since I last saw a goblin. And now I have met one who would be my companion in arms. The small creature whimsically goes by the name of “Ce Me No.” I intend to keep both weather eyes on the little one, as the goblins have worked long and hard to acquire their reputation. Still, the fact that he has sworn himself in support of our charge suggests that he is atypical as goblins go. That said, he does have very light fingers, and is rather fascinated by fire. He also has that ironic and impractical skull shape for which goblins are infamous.

Also among my companions is a holy shaman of nature named Nishi. A “druid” as the locals insist on naming it. In theory, we two have similar perspectives. Hailing from the Mwangi Expanse, his people were likewise set upon by the power of the Chelish, with both of our peoples driven into the lands the colonizer deemed less desirable or hospitable. So too we are both outsiders among our own people. In as much as the good earth touched my birth in some way, it seems as though the underworld imprinted upon hers. I have not yet decided whether that is ominous or not. She claims to follow the teachings of Erastil, so I am loath to think the worst, but one can never be certain.

She also travels about with a lizard of considerable size (and considerably sized teeth and claws). I am uncertain whether “Dean” refers to the species, or whether she is sentimental enough to name it. She claims that it is still young, and apt to grow larger. She also claims that her will and its will are as one, and as such, the lizard will reliably fight for our cause. I shall wait and see. If the lizard proves itself a brave and capable ally, well and good. If not, I look forward to re-enacting a story of a legendary bestial archon who knew exactly how to wrestle such creatures when they proved incorrigible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-f5iMDXvcA

My third and final companion is a relative local by the name of Morrigan. As she tells it, she is a minor Brevic noble of sorts, linked to a clan called Medvyed, one of the seven great “houses” of this land. Houses are somewhat like clans, but the fit is an awkward one. Of the outlanders I have met on this trip so far, she is the first I would consider fit to potentially play the role of a “great soul” in any sort of prophecy. She has grace and charm which might well make it easier for her to win the love of a country one individual at a time. She is also apparently born with magic in her blood. Mostly simple tricks so far, but one could see such power growing with time. Finally, she seems to have a combination of kindness and toughness of spirit – a sense of what is good, but a willingness to do what is “necessary.” With both the guidance of Falayna and the protection of one of the members of her sworn Order, such a sensibility might well make for an admirable Quah-leh.

It is rumored that our Brevic hosts may yet issue a fifth writ. If so, I will also try to get a sense of any additional companions who join us.

Tomorrow we will head west on for the Greenbelt, a journey of roughly 100 miles. On foot, it should take us roughly four days to reach a trading post named for someone called “Oleg.” This represents the central point on the northern boundary of our charter, stretching 60 miles to the south, and another 36 miles in both easterly and westerly directions. We are charged not only with exploring and mapping the area, but also with bringing order to it, by way of opposing banditry and other unlawful behavior we might encounter. Banditry in particular is called out as meriting a quick death by the rope or by the sword – certainly a quicker and kinder fate than such a crime would meet at the hands of my people.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET SWORN INITIATE OF FALAYNA’S SACRED MARTIAL SISTERHOOD OF TETORI
Entry #1: Sunday, 21 Calistril, 4716AR

Teleportation is a wonder. Upsetting to the stomach, but a wonder. I will meditate upon its mysteries in the coming days. The Abbess teaches that those who walk in the path of Falayna long and faithfully can begin to enact this power upon themselves. If it be Falayna’s will, I hope she will guide me as I seek to walk this path.

While I did not fear to test my courage on a long journey through the Orcish lands east of the Kodar Mountains, or travel between the corruption of the World Wound and the misty horror of Ustalav, or even face the metal monsters found in the lands west of Brevoy, I cannot deny that both the time and the risk involved would have put my sacred mission in danger. The prophecy says that I must seek out, protect and shepherd a great soul who will bring harmony and unity to these lands. In service of so important a mission, the monastery is right to bear the expense needed to get me to Brevoy as quickly as possible. So too, I can justify briefly putting up with the touch of some finger-wiggling Brevic wizard who stank of pesh and parchment mites.

I find myself in Restov, and await a writ which will give me authority in these lands. It has been a full fifty years since I left the monastery. It is strange to be outside it. I miss its sights and sounds, its spaces, its routines. Most of all I miss my sisters. I suspect that in time they will even miss the bruises I regularly gave them in sparring practice. Though they be painful, such bruises are the holy mark of Falayna, sacred be her name.

At first I tried to stay at a local inn. But the expense was excessive, and the people were unpleasant. So I have sought out a quiet stable instead. It has also been fifty years since I was around horses. I have missed their scent and calming presence more than I realized.

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