Toilday, 31 Desnus, 4716AR

Ce Me No is back on “lone watch” probation. If I have my way, he may never get off of it! Sure enough, we were ambushed during his watch. A mated pair of horrible flying lion creatures called manticores managed to sneak up on us in the middle of the night. They were strong and powerful enough foes in melee. Their ability to throw their tail spikes proved even more dangerous however, to say nothing of their ability to hover out of our reach. We were able to put one down while it was on the ground, but the other harassed us for an extended period of time before finally withdrawing. Our ranged attacks were not enough to bring it down, and we sorely missed the blasting powers of both Tōgg and our future Queen the sorceress during the struggle.

I fear we may not have seen the last of the creature either, and we shall need to be prepared in the future. One can only imagine what sorts of monstrous creatures await us down the line. Especially if the manticore replaces its dead mate with an even more horrific breeding partner. That said, no matter how horrific it or its mate or its offspring proves, if their faces remain punchable, then I shall do so. If they have ears, I shall tear them off. And if they have torsos, I will squeeze the life out of them. That said, perhaps we should begin to focus our attention on finding ways to pursue our foes through the air.

It required a considerable amount of healing magicks to patch all of us up after the battle. Not to mention the amount of magic that was expended during the fight. In the end we decided to return to Oleg’s to heal up and rest, and we will return to the area tomorrow given that the journey is relatively short.

Moonday, 30 Desnus, 4716AR

Spent another quiet night – apparently the types of creatures that sometimes plague us in the dark do not care to wander too close to haunted lands. Jhod and Sloth travelled with us for a bit before heading back south to the Temple of the Elk. We continued eastward in search of the great serpent’s lair. We arrived as night was falling, and have set up camp again so that we can be fully rested for our fight with the beast.

After his “strike” and continued griping, we have decided to allow Ce Me No to go back to standing watch with his tiger. I will take the first watch with Rabbi Lyon, and we shall see how it goes…

Sunday, 29 Desnus, 4716AR

Headed out this morning from the Temple of the Elk and arrived at the burial site of the dead warriors (A16) by late afternoon. Jhod brought Sloth along. I’m not sure of his suitability as a bodyguard in a crisis, but he is certainly large and imposing enough to keep some of the riff-raff away.

At first we saw no sign of the restless spirits, despite rediscovering the remains. It was only as night began to fall that they emerged. Jhod identified them as specters rather than mere restless ghosts. Whereas ghosts merely need some wrong in life to be righted or some unfinished task completed in order to find rest, specters are another sort. They were evil in life, and remain so in death, seeking to bring others to join them in their torment. They would not speak with the holy and righteous among us, but Ce Me No and Jeremiah were able to talk with them a bit. In life they were sellswords, and perished in a mutiny. They drew out the conversation long enough for us to withdraw.

Such creatures are powerless in sunlight and can be destroyed via magicks that bring the dead back to life. But such capabilities are currently beyond our ken, and we shall have to come back another day. In the meantime, we should make sure the locals know they should avoid the area at night. After leaving the area we have set up camp for the night, but we will surely sleep with one eye open!

Starday, 28 Desnus, 4716AR

Went back west to see Jhod again, who may be starting to think that we are like a bad copper. He agreed to accompany us tomorrow once he has said the appropriate prayers. He has not had any problems with Sloth. Yet.

In the meantime: rest, prayer, and training. Jhod laughed and made a comment about “gym, tan, laundry,” but again, I confess I don’t understand the joke. My skin is obsidian, not tan.

Fireday, 27 Desnus, 4716AR

A bit of a mystery has been solved, but another created. Jhod was able to speak with Sloth via magic, and so learned that the child’s family had been killed by trolls. Such a fact does lead me to grant the creature some sympathy, as well as my interest. Apparently the trolls are led by one called “Hargulka.” If such a dangerous creature is leading an organized band of killer trolls somewhere to the south, then that is enough to mark him and his followers for death in my sight. It may even be that the entire affair is a plus for “Sloth.” If he had been raised by his natural family, it is hard to believe that he would have become anything other than a monstrous killer like the rest of his kind. Perhaps being raised by Jhod will allow him a different destiny. That said, I have still let the priest know that if he has any problems with the young giant he should contact me directly and immediately for assistance. Mercy may make us feel ennobled, but we then bear responsibility for the future deeds of those granted mercy. I will see no innocents murdered by giants in the lands I am charged with bringing order to, and I will go to great lengths in Falayna’s service to keep that promise.

In the meantime we have headed back to Oleg’s, arriving in time to share evening meal with the others. The number of people at Oleg’s continues to increase. There is now even a family with a child. It seems he is quite the handful, and the color of his hair and the spots on his face are not something I’ve previously encountered among the Shoanti. But I am relatively certain that the rumors of such children having no souls or being related to half-vampires are nonsense. He carries a lizard with him besides. If his hell-raising reputation is to be believed, perhaps it is the first of many minions?

Even were I not restricted by my vows, I have little talent for small talk. My fellows have managed to uncover some interesting bits of news however. One rumor concerns a brooding hill giant roaming the southern grasslands. Apparently the creature is dangerous, but also a drunkard. Either way, it sounds like a problem in need of my preferred brand of solution. Hill giants are cruel and cunning despite their stupidity, and combined with their size and strength it makes them very dangerous. It will not do to have such a creature roaming the land if we mean for locals to set up farms and homesteads.

Another rumor involves a green dragon prowling the Narlmarches and eating all he encounters. One would hope this is overstated. For one thing, if he eats all he encounters, where would the story come from? In any case, we should scout out the area in the future – if it truly is a hungry dragon sowing carnage, we shall need to devise a way to either defeat it, drive it off, or “persuade” it to leave.

A third rumor involves a tribe of violent lizard folk living deep in the swamps to the south. They are said to be led by a king who claims to speak with the dead. Grim tidings, and perhaps linked to the necromantic death of the unicorn? Worth investigating in the future.

Finally, there is said to be an old tower on an island in a place called Candlemere. While the location is not familiar to us, the tower itself is said to be a site where the boundary between our world and another grows thin. The place is also said to be guarded by a deadly monster. Perhaps a conversation with the friendly fey will yield some insight into this. They may know the location of this “Candlemere,” or they may know the nature of the terror. Or both.

In the realm of less rumor-fueled quests, word has come down that there is a ferocious worg in the Kamelands. The locals call him Howl-of-the-North-Wind. The rulers of Brevoy have authorized a reward of some 1,200 gold crowns if we can kill him and put his remains on display. After our last encounter with worgs, the edict to dispatch an especially dangerous one is not an unwelcome one.

In the meantime, we have sent word up the chain of our triumph over the bandits, and have sold the remainder of the spoils to Oleg, yielding each of us close to 5,000 gold crowns. We also returned the body of Sneeg to Kesten. He would have preferred him alive, but is doubtless content to know that the bandit who robbed him has had his career permanently ended. It may take him some time to get us the pair of masterwork weapons he promised as a bounty, but we can afford to be patient. On the morrow we shall travel back to the temple of Erastil. None of the locals have any inkling of why the platoon of dead soldiers to the north have risen from their graves. Perhaps Jhod will be able to help us determine how to put them to rest. Afterwards, we shall see about seeking out the gigantic serpent.

Oathday, 26 Desnus, 4716AR

After another quiet night – save the snoring kettledrum sharing our campfire – we headed north and west back to the Temple of Erastil. It has proved a long but uneventful day. Jhod was glad to see us, but surprised by our “companion.” He has promised to pray in the morning for the appropriate magicks needed to fully communicate with Sloth. In the meantime, the temple offers a relatively safe place for us to spend the night, even with a potentially lethal child-giant in our company.

Wealday, 25 Desnus, 4716AR

Nothing disturbed us during the night – I half think the thawn’s snores scared everything away that might have wandered in. Finding him mostly healed up and relatively friendly, Rabbi Lyon patched up the rest of his wounds and then used magic to understand his speech. I had some pause on the subject, but untied him in order to hear what he had to say. Apparently the creature names itself “Sloth.” It has come up from somewhere in the south. It is still a child of its kind, and has been orphaned at some point in the recent past (its cries yesterday were apparently for its mother). It seems to have begun to imprint upon our company as a replacement family in the absence of others of its own kind.

It has won over the hearts of my companions, or at least their pity. I for one will continue to keep a close eye on him, as the tales of this sort go in two decidedly different directions:

However, it does not seem entirely right to kill what is still for all intents and purposes a child, even if lore teaches us that children of this kind are apt to slaughter large numbers of human children for fun once they grow into their own adulthood. My companions mean to bring him to Jhod to see if the priest will have some notion of what to do with him. A potentially heartwarming chance for redemption, but also a potential disaster waiting to happen…

In any case, with our new “child” in tow, we finished our explorations of our charter area. We went first to the northeast and found a herd of over a hundred head of elk (C17). Leaving them to their apparent mating season, we headed northwest and found more grassland and particularly vibrant sunflowers (C18). We have bedded down for the night, and I mean to sleep close to Sloth in order to guard against him proving to be other than he seems…

Toilday, 24 Desnus, 4716AR

The night proved mostly uneventful again. Seven little fey creatures traipsed by our camp during first watch. They seemed utterly consumed by their own games and merriment, and ignored Rabbi Lyon’s attempt to make friends.

We travelled southeast this morning, and had a decidedly… “odd” encounter. A strange sort of giant crossed our path, with exceptionally long fingernails and a face that seems too loose for its skull. I am told it’s called a “thawn,” and they are ordinarily cruel and evil creatures. Unable to communicate effectively with it, Jeremiah charged in but bungled the attack. Given my own attitude and past history with giants, I immediately put the creature into a grapple rather than watch my companions be eaten alive. To our surprise, the creature began crying piteously, and after some debate we decided to spare its life until we could figure out precisely was going on. I continued the hold until it slumped into unconsciousness, and then we loaded it into the wagon. This slowed us down considerably. It also means that the body of Falgrim Sneed that Kesten gets back will somewhat flattened. Somehow I doubt he’ll mind.

As it stands, the creature is snoring loudly while I write this (with the “on strike” Ce Me No doing the same by his side), and we shall see what more we learn on the morrow. The creature has a magic ring of some kind as a toe ring, and we shall see what becomes of that after we decide what to do with the giant.

Moonday, 23 Desnus, 4716AR

We passed a quiet night, though I ended up standing second watch alone. Apparently Ce Me No is “on strike” until we allow him to stand watch while paired with his tiger. I am leery of the idea given his past history, but we shall see.

We headed northeast and found a somewhat disturbing sight. The grounds on both sides of the river appeared to have been burnt out (C15). Whether by a natural fire or some unnatural source I cannot say. Whatever it was left no foul taints, as what was formerly grassland looks perfectly ripe for cultivation. We explored the area and found nothing else of particular interest.

Keeping the same watch schedule, though Ce Me No insists that means he’ll sleep all night.

Sunday, 22 Desnus, 4716AR

Yesterday proved rather eventful. After lengthy discussions, we have decided that the area on the northern edge of the Tuskwater would be an excellent location for a settlement. The crisscross of roads and rivers as well as the coast of the lake will likely make it an important intersection in the future. To this end, Morrigan and Tōgg travelled to the area to begin preparing it for settlement. The rest of us remained behind to finish clearing out the Stag Lord’s fortress. If restored to full repair, the fortress could be highly useful as a site for a garrison in the future.

An additional companion has also joined us, a farmer turned holy man of Erastil who calls himself Rabbi Lyon. His first name is apparently Daniel, which the others seem to find rather amusing. I confess I don’t understand the joke. Rabbi Lyon wants to help us in our efforts moving forward, so we have agreed to take him on to see how he fares.

The fallen paladin Akiros quickly found some work for us by explaining the hands beneath the ground. The Stag Lord’s fortress was previously the home of a foul temple to the god Gyronna. The zombies are almost certainly tied to that temple’s legacy. I know little and less of Gyronna or her faith, and what specifically caused the dead to become restless is unclear. But the bandits were clearly using them as an extra layer of defense. Akiros told us that he had seen at least nine of them at some point in the past, though it was possible there more. The walking dead should always be put to rest whenever possible. However, grappling them is always unpleasant and tricky given my vows. The combination of my fleshgem spikes and the leverage of my heirloom dan bong proved adequate to the task however.

Walking out into the contaminated earth, the zombies came in waves. First one, then another pair, and then a pair of quartets in order after that. The first zombie proved surprisingly slippery, and was able to escape my initial grapple. But after reapplying the hold, its head popped off rather like an overripe grape. Jeremiah’s mounted charge put one of the reinforcements down. Ce Me No and Alvor worked in tandem with cunningly planted daggers and polearm to pin the other down. But in the end, Rabbi Lyon and Alvor’s channeling proved most the effective. They were able to weaken several at once in the larger waves until it was easy enough to simply push them over. All in all a total of eleven zombies were put back to rest, at which point they stopped coming. Akiros declined to join us in the fight, which, if not a black mark against him, is at least a gray one. I do not trust him, and will have little reason to do so unless he demonstrates that he is actively working to atone for his past misdeeds, rather than simply leaving them behind.

Following the battle, we decided that Rabbi Lyon should attempt to consecrate the area the next morning after praying for spells. In the meantime we explored the rest of the area to ensure that it contained no more surprises. We bedded down in the fortress for a quiet night. Upon waking, Rabbi Lyon consecrated the area, and we loaded the Stag Lord and Falgrim Sneed’s bodies into the wagon.

We travelled northeast back towards Nell’s Crossing (C11), a name I think we intend to keep. We deposited the stripped body of the Stag Lord into the waters, and the body of Davik burst up to pull it down under with an angry urgency. Shortly after the bodies disappeared back below the water’s surface, the magic ranseur previously wielded by Davik’s corpse washed ashore. I would like to think that the poor man’s soul has now found some measure of peace.

Alvor took up the weapon, and we travelled southeast towards the edge of our charter area. The area proved mostly unremarkable – more prairie land filled with sunflowers (C14). Rabbi Lyon harvested plenty of the seeds, presumably for either roasting, planting, or both. Set up watches for this evening with Rabbi Lyon and Ce Me No’s tiger on first watch, Ce Me No and I on the second, and Jeremiah and Alvor on the third.


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