Queenmaker

MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #57
Wealday, 11 Desnus, 4716AR

Can’t write, covered in mud.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #56
Toilday, 10 Desnus, 4716AR

Resumed our explorations this morning, beginning a series of doglegs back to the east. Heading north first, we came upon an area of forest filled with a large number of white oaks (C3). I am told that these are considered sacred by various woodland faiths, so we should let Jhod know of them when next we pass by his temple. Additionally, we came upon a group of wild elk. Having as much meat as we could carry from the owlbear, the rest of the party refrained from trying to hunt them. They were beautiful to behold, and doubtless have a part to play in this wilderness.

Turning south and continuing east, we came upon a massive river (C4). While it had started as a trickle in the area where we fought the owlbear, it expands to a 500’ wide span here. At one point along the side of the river we came upon a massive 10’ tall and 15’ wide boulder that appeared at first to have been carved into the shape of a pair of monstrous statues meant to guard the river. As it turned out, they proved to have once been real creatures, the skeletal remains turned to stone by eons of time and pressure before nature re-exposed them. Certainly a landmark of note for the future, and we have bedded down in their shadow.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #55
Moonday, 9 Desnus, 4716AR

We were able to pick up the owlbear’s tracks easily enough, and followed it until we caught up with it. Indeed, it seemed to be waiting for us. It proved a dangerous foe, as even though I was able to grab it, it proved capable of breaking the hold and piercing my newly improved defenses. Eventually, we were able to overwhelm it as a group, and bring it down for good. After a few taps of our communal wand of healing I feel well enough, but I remain committed to improving my defenses to the point where this will not regularly recur against any but the deadliest of foes. I hope Falayna will grant me her strength in this endeavor. And I pray also that if today’s physical pain was meant as a penance for having enjoyed the ordeal with Morrigan entirely too much, she will accept my embrace of this punishment.

After killing the owlbear we dressed its carcass, beginning to fashion an elaborate headdress for Morrigan from its skull, feathers and fur. We then took our time exploring the rest of the area (C2). Beyond being heavily wooded, the only other encounter of note was a pair of grigs. They proved to be old friend of Tyg-Tittertut’s, which means that all three of them have fallen upon my chest listening to my heartbeat as I write this. There are many worse ways one could spend an evening I’m sure, and I will embrace the night as the blessing from Falayna it represents.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #54
Sunday, 8 Desnus, 4716AR

At last, we are free to resume our labors. Jhod was finally able to free Morrigan from her compulsion. The magicks proved powerful indeed, so we should probably double the warning signs so that others do not unwittingly fall under the compulsion. I am curious to learn who might have cast such spells, though I can hardly disagree with their intent. It is well and good for burial sites to remain as undisturbed and sacred as possible.

Since we would have had to backtrack considerably to resume our exploration in the same place, we instead opted to travel southwest through the woods. The deep woods at the southwest corner of our charter (C1) proved home to one mysterious thing of note. A giant boulder had been cracked in two – by what I cannot say. But the interior proved home to a considerable amount of quartz deposits. As such, we have made a note of the location, as a source of quartz could prove quite useful. We have made camp for the night, but have made note of the sound of some large and dangerous creature to the southeast. Morrigan informs us that the creature must be an owlbear. Based on her other knowledge regarding the danger posed by the animal, we mean to track and kill it in the morning.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #53
Starday, 7 Desnus, 4716AR

Alas, even after resting, Jhod is still unable to free Morrigan from her compulsion. Other than Tōgg having completed the enchantment of my cloak, there is little else to report beyond the fact that my current trial remains as before. I am torn between sin and service, praying even as I am beaten (albeit not very hard), and enjoying the entire affair entirely too much. I still do not understand the Sylvan tongue, but based on the angry (and I assume, foul) words being flung at me in her otherwise lovely voice, the sensation is not entirely unlike cleaning one’s posterior with fine silk.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #52
Fireday, 6 Desnus, 4716AR

After a welcome undisturbed night’s rest yesterday night, we headed due south. We traversed the eastern edge of area near the Sootscale tribe’s lair, making some final notes. We then arrived in an open prairie that was home to about 15 more wild horses (B16). Finding little else of note, we then back tracked to the west to check on the unexplored area there.

When we arrived, we found a great number of small mounds dotting the prairie (B17). The air itself seemed thick and somewhat strange. Though Tōgg and I were able to shake off whatever magical influence hangs about the place, Morrigan was not so fortunate. She immediately prostrated herself and began praying in the tongue sometimes used by Perlivash and Tyg-Tittertut. As it turns out, the area is a fey burial ground, and the magic placed on it is apparently powerful indeed. After putting up a sign in both Common and Goblin warning travelers to keep out out of respect, we attempted to leave. Morrigan would not hear of it, as the compulsion magicks had a strong grip on her. In the end, I had little choice but to grab hold of her, sling her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and begin carrying her towards Jhod’s temple. She kicked and fought the entire way, even expending her entire magical arsenal trying to get me to stop. Fortunately, my grip proved skilled enough to frustrate her, so in the end she could do little but pound her fists against my back and posterior. I am loathe to admit that I enjoyed it as much as I did, which is almost certainly much more than I should have.

When we finally arrived at the Temple it was nearly sunrise. After Jhod woke, we informed him of Morrigan’s plight. He did his best to free her from the compulsion, but his magicks proved inadequate. As such, we will have to wait here until tomorrow, when he can then make a second attempt. Tōgg in the meantime has agreed to enchant my travelling cloak with some protective dweoners. As for me, there is nothing I can do but use the time to pray, update this journal, and continue restraining Morrigan. I hope Falayna will not judge me too harshly for continuing to enjoy it far too much. Perhaps at least the fact that I am fasting during this ordeal will help offset the ignominy.

While I might end the slightly unseemly or even illicit grapple by incapacitating her, it seems likewise unseemly to intentionally injure one’s future sovereign. And since some might ask exactly how I have updated this journal if I need to continue grappling her? I confess, the press of my thighs has proved entirely equal to the task, and even now she continues to try to beat against my hips and stomach in a vain effort to free herself. And again, I am enjoying this way too much, and am heartily sorry for that fact.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #51
Wealday, 4 Desnus, 4716AR

Rested and refreshed, we set out southeast, heading back toward the Sootscale tribe’s lair. We stopped to explore the area to the northeast (B15), and found multiple waterfalls in the area. The largest was a spectacular sight, over 50’ in height. Doubtless we shall have to come up with a name for it. They proved somewhat hazardous to traverse, so we may want to take steps to make them safer for anyone who might move to the area. After we finished our explorations we set up camp for the evening.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #50
Sunday, 24 Gozran, 4716AR

Made it safely back to Oleg’s this morning. As ever, they seemed happy to see us. We had them send on a claim to the Swordlords in Brevoy regarding the bounty for curbing the local kobold unrest. The treasures of the mites and the cowardly “kobold” shaman proved lucrative. All told, we each netted 1,177 gold crows, five silver links and four copper bits. We intend to put our proceeds to good use. We intend to spend 9 days at Oleg’s, toughening ourselves with Kesten and having Tōgg craft – in particular he has gained the insight necessary to improve the magical bracers I am wearing. Afterwards we will head back out to try and go south and close out our explorations of the area assigned to us in our charter.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #49
Starday, 23 Gozran, 4716AR

We spent a peaceful night for once. The rest proved invaluable for what has been a busy day. We headed northeast, and the plains were marked by a single massive sickly sycamore, over 100 feet in height (B13). One particular find of note: near the tree I spotted a small rocky crag which the foliage had mostly concealed. I went down into the cave and found a large cache of glittering metal. Ce Me No and Tōgg confirmed my suspicion – we have stumbled upon a potentially rich vein of gold. We covered the area back up for now. We will try and turn it into a mine once we have finished mapping the region.

We continued on to the sycamore and examined it closely. The tree looked sickly, even close to death. A search of the roots revealed a hidden passage beneath them. Our friends the fey informed us that the tree was home to a large group of mites. They described the creatures as fellow pranksters, but less clever and more sadistic and sociopathic than themselves. Between that and the previous time mites attacked us in our sleep, we had a somewhat dim view of the creatures before we squeezed down into their lair.

Upon making our way in, we found the fey were spot on in their assessment. The place was filled with open latrines, as well as a collection of mites and giant centipedes feeding on a mixture of the effluence and raw kobold meat. Morrigan did her best to take a diplomatic tack to encourage the mites to relocate south out of charter area, even though such a move would have simply made them someone else’s problem. She spoke with their matriarch Quoggy, and tried to make nice by feeding one of the centipedes. She was poisoned and nearly lost some fingers in the attempt. She also pointed out that by using the area beneath the tree like an open sewer, the mites were likely to blame for the tree’s poor health. In that sense it was likely necessary for them to leave their home in order to save it.

However, their reluctance to go combined with the sound of them actively torturing something to death in the next room precipitated combat. The latter point also ensured that such combat was lethal in nature. In the end, forced but non-fatal relocation can actually feel more unsavory than giving someone a clean, quick and honorable death in combat. Happily, the mites and centipedes proved no match for us. I was able to spring over them to stop them from killing the creature they had hung up on their wall – a kobold.

The kobold introduced himself as Mikmek. He said that he was the sole survivor of a group of kobolds that had attacked the mites in order to reclaim a religious idol the mites had stolen. Seeing an opportunity for a peaceful accord with the kobolds, we took him along under our protection.

We cleared the rest of the lair out while searching for the idol. We encountered several more mites, and a couple of foes of note. One was an enormous centipede hiding at the bottom of a small chasm that we traversed. Morrigan was kind enough to cast what proved to be an invaluable protective spell on me as I stood at the choke point and the rest of the party got behind me. Ce Me No softened it up with several darts as Tōgg hurled magic energy at it, significantly weakening it by the time it reached the top of the chasm. Once it was up, I slipped inside its defenses and grappled and then pinned it.

The tactile experience was rather unpleasant, as the multitude of squirming legs were covered in filth, and I immediately felt the need for a bath. That need intensified as the combination of my new fleshgem spikes and Falayna answering my prayers to guide my strikes was vindicated. One really good squeeze was enough to pop the creature’s head clean off – though the triumph was marred by the sheer mess of its guts going everywhere. Ce Me No was likewise dismayed, as it made it impossible for him to effectively harvest its poison sacs.

Continuing upward, we came upon a final group of mites, with one riding upon a gigantic tick. Tōgg took down the majority of the mites by calling magical stones down on them, and we were then able to take down the tick as well, though its rider escaped us. With any luck, he will move as far south as his legs can carry him, and encourage any other mites he meets to follow him and steer clear of the Greenbelt. But we will keep an eye peeled in the event that he returns with a mind for vengeance.

We did finally find the idol, as well as a log of the “war” between the mites and the kobolds. It listed the assets held by each side. One particularly interesting bit was the fact that the mites reported the kobolds were in possession of a “shiny human ring.” We bound Morrigan’s earlier injuries, I changed my gore-covered robes, and with Mikmek in tow we headed east towards his people’s home (B14). The kobold lair confirmed the mite log’s account. The mites were outclassed in terms of numbers and weapons and wealth (though the kobolds do not necessarily attach the same values to the same objects as other humanoids might). Mikmek explained that the Sootscale Tribe was named for its chieftain, and they share his dark grey and black coloring, as well as a fondness for fishing… without a pole or net.

We found their lair inside a hillock surrounded by boulders. A sign indicates it was likely once a silver mine called “Oak Top.” We were “greeted” by one of the kobold sentries, who named himself Nakpik. I have no talent for understanding Draconic, and their Common was both limited and rough, but they were clearly overjoyed to see we had returned with their idol. We were swiftly ushered in to see Chief Sootscale, and he thanked us for “saving them from the curse.” Then, unexpectedly, he smashed the idol. He explained that there had been a power struggle between himself and their new shaman Tartook. Tartook had apparently convinced them all that they were cursed with some sort of affliction, and had used his magical powers to usurp the chieftain’s political power.

With the idol smashed, the shaman fled without a fight. Unsure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The Sootscale Tribe is now quite happy to make an accord with us following the ouster of the shaman and the successful end of their war with the mites. This fulfills one of the charges sent to us by the Swordlords in Restov. But it is possible that Tartook will now gather a few followers and attempt to make the same kind of trouble the tribe as a whole has been making. We shall have to wait and see. In the meantime, the Sootscales have made us a gift of the shaman’s treasures, and we are to be their honored guests this evening. I will say one thing for my dietary vows – they spare me from having to try and keep down some of the more… “exotic” cuisines offered by the creatures we sometimes treat with.

The treasures included multiple interesting items – fiery crossbow bolts, elvish boots, magical dust, a scroll which will allow Tōgg to bewitch himself or us with the power of flight, a powerful magic wand, a finely made sickle of cold iron (perhaps of interest to Nishi), and a set of bracers that greatly resemble the ones Tōgg recently made for me. We will sell or keep these items upon our return to Oleg’s tomorrow. However, the most interesting item in the cache was a plain brass wedding ring. I dearly hope it will turn out to be Svetlana’s, as its return would be a good deed particularly apt to make Falayana smile. One more thing to look forward to upon our return to Oleg’s in the morning.

Though it does beg a question. Svetlana’s ring was reportedly stolen by the bandits. Was the kobold shaman in league with the bandits on their raids? Was the tribe simply trading with them? Did they instead cross swords, with the kobolds claiming the ring as the spoils of victory? Or more troublingly, did something or someone else more powerful slay the bandits, with the kobolds simply collecting the ring via scavenging? The necromantic death of the unicorn, the presence of the great serpent in the northeast and the undead legion in the north are all cause for concern. By contrast, the boar Tuskgutter almost seems a quaint threat. The others suggest that there is some dark and powerful magic afoot in the land – and it may well be growing.

After our return to Oleg’s, we shall head back out to finish mapping our charter area. It still includes three more areas in the southeast, as well as a final twelve mile wide band at the south of the area we have already explored. The serpent and the undead legion in the north may be approaching a level of threat that we can handle at this point. But I suspect we shall save them for “last,” first finishing our mapping and hunting for bandits – particularly the “Sneeg” fellow who roughed up Kesten on his way in – as well as going after Tuskgutter. Perhaps our friends the fey may have a bit more information on where either of these foes can be found. Or perhaps the patrons in Oleg’s common room will be able to provide some useful information. Though of course, gossip and hearsay are somewhat suspect right off the bat, and gossip and hearsay from those who are “in their cups” are even more so. We shall see…

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #48
Fireday, 22 Gozran, 4716AR

I am pleased to report that I am lycanthropy free. Apparently my subconscious is still somewhat annoyed at Ce Me No for enjoying the implantation of my fleshgem spikes too much. After my body was wracked in the transformation, taking on the aspect of a large wolf, Jhod’s initial attempt to remove the curse failed. The wolf lurched to its feet, snapping at Ce Me No. Ce Me No was able to dodge to the side at the last possible second. The rest of the party was able to return me to unconsciousness with the application of magic missiles. Once I went down again, Jhod’s second attempt to remove the curse proved successful, and my body returned to its original form.

A good night’s rest, some healing, and an atonement spell left me feeling my old self. Still, in the future we will make sure to note the location of any growths of belladonna. The possibility of future lycanthrope encounters in the Green Belt cannot be ignored. A supply of the plant will make us better equipped to deal with the possible fallout. In the event others do suffer the affliction, I will volunteer my services to Jhod. Holding victims down firmly will allow Jhod to remove their curses without the threat of it being passed on to others.

Following this happy outcome, we resumed our explorations today. Nishi remained at the Temple of Erastil to help Jhod with his slow but steady efforts to refurbish the temple. We headed back in the direction of our encounter with the trolls, finishing our exploration of the area. Based on the multiple sightings of a unicorn between the two bridges, we have named the north bridge “Unicorn Bridge,” and the road between it and the southerly bridge “Unicorn Run.” The south we have dubbed “Morrigan’s Bridge” in her honor. The river that runs alongside the run is separate from the Phlox River. Tōgg has convinced us to name it The River Kwai. I do not recognize the name, and assume it must be a syllable of some mystic importance to his people. At the end of our explorations today, we have set up camp for the night near the bridge. We shall see if any more trolls wish to test our mettle this night…

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