Kingmaker - Vale of the Reaver

To Cormyr

To High Lorekeeper Telthaunt,

We spent six months after defeating the Stag Lord tying up loose ends in the Vale of the Reaver. At one point, we returned to Oleg’s only to see a great train of wagons awaiting us. Along with the wagons was Dannick Spellstorm, a contact of Virgil’s from the church of Mystra, and my old friend, Yasheira Jassan. With them was Dorn Evenwood, who was there to help protect the wagons. Erlkazar had sent us another charter, this one granting us right to create our kingdom, which is Olmarum. The wagons held settlers, gold, and material, all necessary to found our capital city, which we of course named Lyrilar.

We took our own counsel and needed to decide where to found our city. The primary choices were at Oleg’s, near the ruined temples of Torm and Mystra, and the Stag Lord’s fort. We chose the fort, because of its central location in the vale as well as for the fact that it was located along the Thornwash. We all knew it had the chance to be the great foundations of a castle.

It was two years before we adventured again. In that time, we spent it all growing our kingdom. We built buildings. We increased the land under our control. We founded the council for Olmarum. We voted Orla as our leader. Virgil was our magister. Jamven was our warden. And I was our spymaster. In those two years, only a few events stood out as long term issued for Olmarum. First were the Goblinsmashers. They were an adventuring group who had formed in Lyrilar, purportedly in our own image. When word was received that goblin activity was increasing in the Cloven Mountains, they went forth and didn’t come back until they had stopped (or so we thought) the Clawblood tribe. After that, however, they were only known for getting drunk and destroying some of the various buildings in the city. We finally grew tired of their antics, and I, as spymaster, planted rumors of increasing goblin activity again in the Cloven Mountains, which drew them out of the city and back into the mountains. But they didn’t return, which would return to haunt us.

Another incident had a horse gain sentience, becoming awakened as a druid is capable of doing. It wasn’t until years later we discovered who were responsible… The horse, Thyrsus, was operating a crime organization in Olmarum, out of the stables in the castle no less. My spy operations were the ones who discovered his activities. After some discussions with Thyrsus, we let him go with a small stable of mares so he could create his own little tribe of horses far away from Olmarum. Orla wasn’t happy about that set of circumstances, but was brought around by making her realize how odd it would be to execute a horse.

Finally, we learned just how quickly we came to the attention of the Zhentarim in Mintar. Not long before the second anniversary of the founding of Lyrilar, my agents found Zhent spy in our midst. We put her to trial, where the spy, Zarella Nightshade, fully admitted her activities, to include trying to poison the waters of the Thornwash, which were the city’s primary drinking water supply. Orla ordered her executed, and she was.

We were in a council meeting when Jamven and I noticed Virgil acting oddly, as if he wasn’t paying too much attention to what was being said. Suddenly, he stood up from his seat and walked out of the council chambers. Jamven followed him. He came back and told Orla and I that Virgil was heading to Cormyr of all places, and was going to the Academy to find someone to teleport him there. Also, if we wanted to come along, we should hurry up.

We caught up to him shortly after Virgil arrived at the Academy. Varen was waiting for us. We found ourselves teleported into a forest area. Virgil led the way for us, leading us to the ruins of an estate. Even as we tried to question him, he ignored us, searching for something. Soon enough, we discovered it was someone, not something, he was searching for. We came across a beautiful woman lying on the ground, her body drenched in blood that was pooling on the ground. Virgil called out to her, calling her “Navaereth,” then rushed to her. We pooled all of our healing together to help this woman, and she finally stabilized.

She said that she needed a few days to rest and recover, and Virgil promised to watch over her while she did. During those two days, Virgil told us his true story: that he was a noble of Cormry and that his family had been wiped out by a rival family for the rights to mines his family was operating. Further, Navaereth was a silver dragon, who had saved him from dire wolves or worgs when he was young! Virgil said he was the last son of his family, the Sygtriggs. When she woke up, Navaereth corroborated Virgil’s story, and said that she had come to pay respects to Virgil’s family when she had been attacked by someone wielding a dragonbane weapon. It meant that someone knew who she was, and that the enemies of the Sygtriggs must have thought her to be a protector of the family, and that they were trying to eliminate her.

Beyond that story, Orla didn’t believe Navaereth was a dragon. I will admit, I was skeptical as well, since I had never seen a dragon at all. But then she shapechanged. It was magnificent. It was the most beautiful thing I had seen. I think a small part of me came to love her that day, even with what had been going on between Yasheira and me (regardless of Orla’s activities to try and sway Yasheira against me). More so, however, I finally felt a greater calling. I wanted to help that dragon. I wanted to assist her in any way I could. So I called her away from the rest of the group, where I swore fealty to her and her causes, whatever they may be.

I knew the group would be spying on Navaereth and I, and I was right. Orla led the way, accusing me of trying to propose to the dragon. I suppose she was within her right, since I was on one knee in front of Navaereth. But she didn’t believe me when I told her that I had finally felt a calling, much as she had with Torm (which she still refused to acknowledge), and that Virgil had with Mystra. I told everyone I wanted to become a knight (so to speak) in service to Navaereth, but Orla just continued to insult my actions and what she felt were my true intentions. I finally stopped trying to change her mind.

After that, we were told by Navaereth that the dwarves who were loyal to Virgil’s family were still operating in the mines, though this time to stop the rival family, the Willibald’s from gaining a foothold in the mines. Seeing this as an opportunity to gather some information, we set out for the mines. Before we could get there though, we heard voices outside the mine entrance. A group of mercenaries were camped outside, and spoke of heading into the mines. Jamven and I hid ourselves while Virgil and Orla walked forward openly towards the mercenaries. As you can imagine, things didn’t go well. It was quickly determined that the mercenaries didn’t mean well, and we attacked.

We won the day, but at great cost. During the battle, Virgil had his sword arm cut off by the mercenary leader. He tried to muster a defense. I helped him by rushing forward and managed to disarm the leader. So Virgil grabbed the leader’s sword (with his other hand) to attack him. In return, the mercenary leader grabbed Virgil’s sword to attack him. However, Virgil’s sword (his bonded object!) broke against Virgil’s parry with the mercenary leader’s sword. Not long after, we finally killed the mercenary leader.

Armless, and without his bonded object, Virgil seemed quite depressed. We looted the bodies of the mercenaries, and discovered that the leader’s name was Estem Killwa, who was hired by someone named Savar Villag, to explore the mines and to halt anyone hindering the mining activities. Virgil, meanwhile, discovered that the mercenary’s sword was none other than Ilbratha, the Mistress of Battles, a fabled “Lost Sword of Cormyr.” Virgil told us that he could ask any number of favors in return for this sword to the crown, but he wanted to hold onto it for a little bit. We went back to his estate to recover.

Much against the pleas of Orla, Virgil wanted to go forward into the mines to meet the dwarves. So, we went in. We did find the dwarves, under the leadership of Thurg Firebeard. Just as Virgil was really beginning to explain things, a young dwarf interrupted things and said that the “Dark Ladies are coming.” He didn’t explain further. We found out soon enough what he meant though.

Walking into the caverns were drow females! First dragons, then drow! Apparently, a shadow dragon was attacking a drow community, and they came to ask the dwarves for assistance. Not long after this, we found out that Jamven was associated with this particular shadow dragon. It still hurts my mind to this day to try and explain that… But there it was. Jamven felt he had to help, and so did the dwarves. Even wounded as he was, Virgil wasn’t staying behind. Orla didn’t want him to, but Jamven and I both essentially said it was up to Virgil to decide.

As we went down further into the Underdark to the drow community, Orla just wouldn’t let go of what had gone on between Navaereth and I. She kept insulting me, to the point that Jamven and Virgil both spoke up in my behalf (and not the first time they had done so I may add). But she just wouldn’t let up. And after three years of it, I finally had enough. I finally vented all my frustrations at her assassination of my character (or lack thereof she would say). And as much as I knew it was a dangerous proposition, I said goodbye to my friends, and turned around, by myself, to try and find my own way out of the Underdark…

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Vanquishing the Stag Lord

To High Lorekeeper Telthaunt,

I guess it is time to update you again with another missive for our archives. I will regale you now with how we defeated the Stag Lord and created our kingdom of Olmarum.

We continued our exploration of the Vale of the Reaver east of the Stag Lord’s fort. We headed west towards the fort before heading to the northwest. Along the way, we met and spoke with some trappers, another sign of how remote the area was in a number of ways. We discovered many different river crossings while we explored. Some were easy; others were very dangerous, as I will write about.

We entered the southern expanse of the hilly area in the vale and discovered a moldering body underneath a tree. Virgil was very happy to discover a moldy spellbook as well as a wand. We chose to head northeast from there and discovered the lair of Ghurthak, a notorious half-ogre. He surprised us all be asking merely to be left alone. He knew his days on Faerun were numbered, and he just wanted to live them in peace. He gave us his prized weapon so we could finalize a quest that we had taken upon ourselves when first had come to Oleg’s.

Our explorations took us to the northwestern reaches of where our charter allowed us to explore. Continuing in the hills, we discovered a vein of gold, which excited us greatly. We also met up with some kobolds exploring the area. They were members of the Sootscale clan and gave us no problems. We returned to Oleg’s for a week before heading back out to discover the gold mine.

Heading west, Jamven led us to a peaceful pool along the Thornwash. A fey creature, a nixie he said, named Neeresa, asked for his help. He offered, entered the river, then we watched as she kissed him. We were wary but Jamven didn’t seem concerned. They both disappeared beneath the surface of the pool. A bit later, Jamven reappeared, happy that he had managed to find a treasure that Neeresa couldn’t reach. For some time afterwards, Jamven seemed to be in a very happy mood.

We followed the river south. Along the way, we met three grigs, named Pill, Poll, and Pull. They were flying to meet their cousin, Tyg-Titter-Tut. I think Virgil had a headache the moment we met them. Even if he didn’t, he did a little later on when we found the ruins of a city, or town. We were ambushed by a minotaur. The minotaur charged Virgil, and knocked him down. But the minotaur knocked himself senseless, and Virgil took advantage and killed him with an amazing strike.

We decided to explore the city. Virgil found a ruined temple to Mystra. Something terrible had happened inside, and the temple was in a serious state of disrepair. Virgil cast a simple cantrip to help clean the temple when he was assaulted by a vision. He never has told us exactly what the vision was, but it was enough for him to spend years of his life cleaning the temple, both in a physical as well as a spiritual manner. Virgil convinced us to stay one more day, and we did what we could to help clean up.

Our deaths were near when we found a rickety bridge further south. Orla tried to cross the bridge and failed, falling into the river. Virgil, finally showing his true feelings for Orla, disregarded his own life and jumped into the river to save her. I fell into the river trying to save Virgil, and ultimately did so. But Jamven had to go and save Orla. After that, we rested for a bit before heading back to Oleg’s one last time before going after the Stag Lord.
After we left Oleg’s that last time, we came across Nettle’s Crossing. Davik Nettle was an engineer from Erlkazar who had built a bridge over the river. Apparently the Stag Lord’s bandits tried to run him off, to no avail. So the Stag Lord had his bandits kill Nettle’s and toss his body into the river. However, Nettle rose as an undead, bent on getting revenge on the Stag Lord, which he did through us. As we approached the river, Nettle rose. When he realized we weren’t bandits, he asked us to bring him the body of the Stag Lord, so he knew that he was dead. We agreed. Though to be honest, if I think about it, that was an awful big stretch for us, to not have killed that undead creature outright.

We were then ready to approach the Stag Lord’s fort. Virgil, Orla and I disguised ourselves as bandits. We even went so far to buy a case of alcohol from Oleg so we could use it to bribe our way into the fort if necessary. Jamven was going to sneak through the grass around the fort to try and see if there was another way into the fort. But then zombies rose out of the ground and began chasing him. Some of the bandits saw Jamven running, and asked us to tackle the intruder. So I ran him down, which actually worked out well when we were allowed immediate entry into the fort because of Jamven.
The Stag Lord’s lieutenant, an Akiros Ismort, met us and chained Jamven up on the wall across from the caged area where the bandits had an owlbear named Beaky kept. The Stag Lord came out to receive our liquor, which he was very happy about. He took the liquor back to his room, and Akiros told us that he was going to be getting drunk, and would be so in an hour. Another bandit named Dovan met us then and took an immediate, and frightening, interest in Orla. He gave Orla a tour of the fort while Virgil and I walked around on our own for awhile. But then, when the time was right, I left Virgil behind and began getting involved in a gambling game with some of the bandits. Virgil took that time to sneak into the Stag Lord’s room, past Akiros, and assassinated the Stag Lord. Akiros saw this, seemed to make a decision (as Virgil told us), and tossed his amulet noting his fealty to the Stag Lord to the ground, renouncing him.

Then, we had to fight our way out. Not only was Dovan there, but some other brute warrior named Auchs, AND Kressle, the bandit leader who had operated the bandit’s camp in the Winterwood. But those three managed to escape while we fought our way though the bandits. By the time we were through with them, Dovan, Auchs and Kressle had found an escape path and were running away from the fort.

We discovered a secret door that led below the fort. There, along with what I thought at the time was an unbelievable amount of treasure, was some sort of crazy old man, whom we killed easily after he chose to attack us. Taking the Stag Lord’s helm for ourselves, we took his body to Nettle’s Crossing. Nettle himself rose up to take the body with him. After that, we decided to return to Oleg’s fort to rest, which we did, happy in the knowledge that we had finally defeated the Stag Lord…

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Episode 3 - Mites versus Kobolds

To High Lorekeeper Telthaunt,

I apologize for how long it has taken me to continue our story, but affairs of the state have sidetracked me. And by affairs of state, I do not mean what you may be thinking. At this stage of my life, it takes more than a pretty face to distract me from my duties.

Everyone saw me struck by the lightning meant for Orla. She and Virgil grabbed me and rushed me back to our quarters. Orla desperately tried to administer healing to me, but I pushed her out of the way, as all of the hair on my body was standing on end and I felt like I was going to explode. I ran back out of our quarters just as the storm was ending. I screamed in pain as I dropped to my knees, the rain pelting my body again. At the edge of my vision, as far as my pain would allow me to see, I saw Oleg and Svetlana looking at me, and Jamven, Orla and Virgil joined them in watching from inside our quarters. As my voice cracked from the constant screaming, I raised my arms to the heavens and released all of the pain in my body in a great blast of electricity, the bolt splitting the clouds above.

When the pain in my body and mind receded, I heard a voice that, over the years, I’ve only heard speak personally to me just a few times. It was the voice of the Lorebinder himself! He imparted to me the true knowledge of my heritage, something my father negated to tell me (which I decades later discovered he had his reasons for hiding from me). Great Oghma said that some time after my ancestors captured Calim and Memnon together (thus causing the creation of the desert of Calimshan), even with the knowledge of the dangers of the djinni, they summoned djinni to fight eye tyrants who threatened our ancestral homelands. And even more, they even mated with the djinni, introducing their bloodline into ours! I am not so far removed from the air and fire genasi of Calimshan. And, when I still think about it, not so far removed from the fey’ri that rose up out of the High Forest not long before I began adventuring.

My companions looked shocked at me (the pun is not intended) at what happened to me. But I explained to them as best I could what Oghma had told me. Virgil asked what it meant for my travels with them, and I told them that it gave me even more resolve to explore the Vale of the Reaver and the Thornwood and Winterwood, because now I knew so much more about my heritage and it had left me with more questions than answers. They seemed to be satisfied with that, even though Orla had a stern lecture for me about my desire to punch my father and have words with my mother about what I had found out. She even made me vow not to punch my father the next time I saw him. I found her attitude odd, but then she told me she was one of the Martyr’s Progeny, one of the children of those worshippers of Torm who sacrificed themselves to him when he fought Bane during the Time of Troubles. Suddenly her attitude made much more sense, and I apologized to her for my words. After that, we found our way back out into the Vale…

We began back in the forest, southeast of the bandit camp. Then we headed straight west. There, we found a dead unicorn near a swampy, marshy area. Its alicorn had been cut off from its head. We tried very hard to discover what had happened to it, but it took a very long time for us to find what caused its death. Near the dead unicorn, Jamven discovered a hunter tracking some prey, but spooked the animal. The hunter, Nallev, was very perturbed with Jamven, and the rest of us for that matter, not that I could say I blamed him. Then, one night, we ran from a will o’wisp that was trying to lure us into its lair! I’ve been scared of those creatures my entire life. And if I saw one now, I still would be! I don’t regret running away from it one bit.
We left the Winterwood behind us and headed northwest, back into the plains. That area was an absolute haven for boars, as we killed numerous boars during our time exploring that area. We then headed southwest, just west of the forest, then headed back northwest, where we found an old sycamore tree…

There, we found a mite lair. The tiny little creatures were more difficult to kill than you would think. Many of them escaped into the primary “room” of their lair to alert their leader. Their leader rode on the back of the most monstrous, hideous tick you can possibly think of. Orla and I disposed of the tick while Jamven and Virgil took care of the mites. When we were done with the battle, we found a few treasures and a map, as well as a list which only Orla could read (I must remind myself to ask where a paladin of Torm discovered how to read Undercommon). Orla read the list, which was an accounting of the treasure the mites possessed and how much a local tribe of kobolds possessed. With the map and treasure list in our possession, we continued on into the lair. Oh, and I almost forgot. We found a statue of a demon among the treasure in their lair. Virgil found that it was nonmagical, but we kept it nevertheless.

Well, I should say we would have continued on, but we heard someone begging for help just beyond the end of the corridor that we could see. We moved on and saw a dwarf held in webbing above a giant chasm covered in thick roots. Virgil tied a rope to Jamven and Jamven climbed out onto the roots, trying to reach the dwarf. He fell through, however. He would have most likely fell to the bottom of the chasm (and into the clacking jaws of what we were about to face), had it not been for Virgil’s foresight in tying a rope to Jamven.

Then we saw a frightening sight. A centipede that made the large tick seem tiny rose up through the root system to try and attack Jamven. Desperation led us on in the battle (and led the dwarf to climb down the roots to the bottom of the chasm), but we did manage to vanquish the centipede. Happy with ourselves, we made our way across the chasm and met with the dwarf. He said his name was Kevvan Emeraldagger, and had been exploring the area when the mites captured him. He didn’t know where any of his equipment was, but was anxious to find it. And as had become custom in that mite lair, we heard more high pitched squealing for help.

We, now including Kevvan amongst our number, moved again deeper into the lair and saw a kobold being tortured by a six mites. Two other kobolds were dead, hanging from roots on the walls of the cavern. It was obvious that they died of torture wounds. In short order the mites were dead. After we released him from his bindings, the kobold, Mikmek, thanked us profusely for saving him. Well, when I mean us, I really mean Virgil, whom Mikmek seemed to decide was our leader. Needless to say, but I do so anyway, Orla didn’t like this at all. Mikmek told us he had come to the mite lair to retrieve the statue, which had been stolen by the mites, but he and his companions had gotten captured instead. He practically begged us to take him and the statue back to the kobold’s lair and to his chief, Sootscale. Virgil, speaking for all of us, agreed.

After resting, we headed west of the sycamore tree. Early on the next day, Virgil discovered the decomposing body of a man in the plains. His garb declared him a wizard (or at least spellcaster) of some sort, and most importantly, so did the spellbook that Virgil found. It was titled, “The Codicil of Cold.” It was a book with a great deal of knowledge involving ice and cold spells. Though I feel there must have been something else that had drawn Virgil to cold spells prior to finding this book, it certainly was this book that set him on the path he walked the rest of his days. Bandits, whose numbers were quickly diminishing in the Vale, attacked us, but we were by now experienced enough that it was an easy battle.

Continuing further west, we fought the toughest creature we had faced up to that point: a troll. In just a few short seconds, it managed to nearly kill Kevvan. It also nearly killed Orla as well. But surprisingly, Mikmek was useful in the battle! He didn’t run. He even threw the dagger he had at the troll and hit it, and tossed a great deal of supportive thoughts our way and against the troll. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Mikmek had the makings of a bard… We were but a few seconds away from retreating from it as quickly as possible when I managed to get a lucky shot in and kill the beast. We all knew we were very lucky to survive the battle, so we headed up to Oleg’s to rest and recover.

There, Jamven tried to teach his bird a new trick, to no avail. Mainly we just all simply recovered from the road, the exhaustion, and the wounds we had incurred. Before long, a week had passed and we decided to continue on.

Heading back out, we found the kobold caverns in an old played out silver mine. As soon as we entered, we discovered a kobold named Nakpik guarding over a captured mite. It was rather obvious that the mite had been treated quite poorly. Nakpik asked Mikmek if he had retrieved the statue, which Mikmek gleefully replied he had. Then, however, an argument broke out as to whom to take the statue to. Mikmek restated his desire to take it to Chief Sootscale, while Nakpik wanted to take it to their shaman, Tartuk. The argument grew, nearly to blows, before Virgil (who was still holding the statue), decided to take it to the chief. Mikmek led us to the chief while Nakpik first tried to stop it, then ran to the shaman to alert him.

Chief Sootscale seemed ready to try and cut us down, then he saw how outnumbered he was. He, as politely as he could, asked if (or Mikmek if you prefer) we had found the statue. Virgil showed it to him and the chief got really excited. He started jumping up and down, muttering something about a curse. Virgil handed him the statue. The chief seemed torn as to what he should do. Then, to our surprise, he lifted the statue above his head and smashed it on the cavern floor, screaming that the curse was over. He looked at us and stated without hesitation that he intended to go kill the shaman, and we were either with him or against him. Virgil chose that we were with the chief…

It was apparent immediately that there wasn’t going to be a chance to parlay with Tartuk. Any chance we may have had was negated when Chief Sootscale immediately attacked Tartuk. Tartuk created a great deal of fear in Sootscale, who wanted to run away. We all surrounded Tartuk and quickly killed him, with Jamven’s companion killing the familiar of Tartuk.

We found a lot of treasure, most of which we left to the kobolds for their troubles with the mites and Tartuk. Tartuk, we discovered, was a gnome who had been killed while trying to surrender is village over to some ogres or some such monsters. The village felt sorry for him and his “noble” sacrifice, so they reincarnated him, and he turned into their mortal enemy, a kobold. He worked the rest of his life to destroying his gnome village, and that of any kobold tribes he could find. He would have succeeded with the Sootscales if we had not intervened. Virgil managed to get an agreement from Chief Sootscale that the kobolds would no longer cause problems in the Vale. With that in hand, we returned again to Oleg’s to rest, and to have him send word forth to Erlkazar that the kobold situation had been taken care of.

Leaving Oleg’s behind, we (still including Kevvan) headed southwest and finally met Bokken, the alchemist. We bought a few potions from him, and vowed to find the fangberries he so desired for his potions. He also asked us to try and find his brother, who apparently lived somewhere south of where we were.

Continuing southwest, we fought (well, primarily Orla) some sort of fey creature that possessed some amazing abilities to leap. However, he was still no patch for us either. Heading back northwest, we finally found the fangberries. Orla grabbed a great number of them, having to stop every so often to get rid of the spiders inhabiting the thicket.

Then, we headed northeast and finally found the old temple of Torm that Jhod Kavken had said may be out in the Vale. We had to kill a crazed bear, which after we killed him transformed into a man, who rapidly turned to dust. The pool near the temple cleared itself of the muck and algae that coated the water. Orla, who was pretty well injured by the bear, drank from the pool and was healed of her wounds. Satisfied that we had begun the work to restore the temple, we decided to return to Oleg’s yet again.

When we set out to finish our exploration of the Vale and to stop the Stag Lord once and for all, we did so without Kevvan, who decided to stay behind at Oleg’s and build himself a forge and smithy. Oleg was ecstatic by the news, since he could see even more money and prestige coming his way…

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Episode 2 - Discovering the Bandit Camp

To High Lorekeeper Telthaunt,

When we returned to Oleg’s, a few newcomers had arrived. The first we met was Keston Garess, a soldier from Erlkazar who had come with a few other soldiers. These were the men that Oleg and Svetlana had been waiting for when we arrived. The other man was a Jhod Kavken. He was a former priest of Torm who had received a vision that led him to believe that he could be redeemed in Torm’s eyes. However, he didn’t know how it could happen, so he asked Orla if she could look for any signs of Torm in the Vale.

During this time, Jamven had befriended (I believe he used the term “animal companion”) a falcon that flew over the trading post for a great deal longer than normal. We spent a few weeks at the trading post while he was trying to train his falcon. The soldier Garess spoke to Orla at this point and asked her if his troops could spar against us (being she, Virgil and myself) since they were getting tired of sparring against each other. She agreed that we would when we returned from our travels throughout the Vale.

We headed into the vale, going into the Winterwood again. Heading south of where Jamven found all of those traps, we discovered the body of a trapper, his body underneath what seemed to be a trap of his own making. Later we found out at Oleg’s that it was a man by the name of Breeg Orlivanch, who was disliked by nearly everyone he had the misfortune to grace with his presence. A few days later we would discover who was responsible for his death…

Deciding to stay in the forest, we headed further south. On that day, I was assaulted by a “rainstorm” of acorns. Jamven climbed a tree and saw large bird’s nest filled with a few more acorns in it, but nothing to indicate how they fell out of the nest. Later in the evening, Virgil was attacked by a tree limb that had been turned invisible. After massaging the pain from his head from being thwapped by the limb, he realized there were fey in the area. Not long after, we met Tyg-Titter-Tut, a grig, and Perlivash, as faerie dragon.

Perlivash was easily friendlier than Tyg. In particular, he came to have what seemed to me was a bit of a crush on Orla, who, for all of one’s typical belief of paladin’s being too dense to realize such things, was quick to play it up, getting Perlivash on our side. Tyg was much more reticent to like us, but Perlivash’s enthusiasm won her over.

Perlivash told us he was the one to kill Breeg Orlivanch, who was a bad man they both said. Then they told us of the “mean biggunses” further south. They told us enough, in their own special fey way, that the bandits in the area had a camp. They told how many there were and when we asked if they would help us, they both readily agreed.

It took a few days as we explored the lands south of Perlivash’s and Tyg’s lair, but we finally found the bandit’s camp. We hoped to ambush them, but they got the jump on us. And boy we were outnumbered. I was struck deaf by a thunderstone. Jamven and Orla waded into the camp to take the battle to the bandits. Orla took the great brunt of the bandit attacks, and nearly fell for her efforts. At the last moment I rushed to her side, trying to get the bandits to attack me while she had a chance to fall back and heal herself. Jamven again proved to be quite deadly with his bow. Virgil was effective as well. But even with all that, we were still outnumbered and in danger of losing the battle. Finally, Perlivash and Tyg appeared, making one of the bandits believe he was fighting some monster only he could see, and the other danced to a song only he could hear.

That ultimately turned the tide for us. However, we realized much later that we had allowed someone to escape, someone we didn’t ever see and only one of us heard as they left the camp. We left one of the bandits alive to deliver the Stag Lord’s alcohol stash. When questioning the bandit we left alive, he told us that the Stag Lord had a massive dependency on alcohol, and he would become more belligerent if he didn’t get his alcohol. Virgil warned him of ultimate death if he did anything other than return to the Stag Lord’s camp with the alcohol. The bandit finally told us that the camp was far to the west of the camp in the forest. After that we returned to Oleg’s so Orla could recover and Jamven could try and teach his falcon more tricks.
After a few more weeks at Oleg’s, we headed back down to finish exploring around the bandit camp and then headed west in the direction of where we were told the Stag Lord lived. Back out in the plains, we found a patch of moon radishes, which Svetlana wanted some of so she could make Oleg’s favorite soup. However, we had to fend off four very fat, happy kobolds that had been eating the moon radishes and had decided that the patch was their own.

Continuing west, we then found a statue of Torm which was still intact though overgrown with prairie grasses and clutching vines, though the lodge or whatever building had been near the statue was long gone. Virgil helped Orla clean the statue off. Then, Orla prayed in front of the statue and we were all given a boon from Torm. All of our weapons were given a particularly keen edge. For reasons I cannot recall, we then returned to Oleg’s again before we came back down here and continued west.

West of the statue of Torm, we found the den of the axebeak that Oleg has said he wanted a trophy of. In this battle, Virgil was particularly stout. He struck such a vicious final blow that he saved Jamven from near certain death while also pushing the body of the axebeak nearly 20 feet away from Jamven. I wished I could be that good in combat. Searching the area, we were rewarded with a great number of silver pieces, a few gems, a high quality spiked chain, and a map of the area helping us to explore the rest of the northern Vale. Maybe it was now that we returned to Oleg’s after killing the axebeak and before the found the treasure and not after discovering the statue, I can’t remember now all these years later… Regardless, we again went back to Oleg’s after we compiled all of the treasure that the axebeak had (and got the head of the axebeak for Oleg’s trophy).

And so it was that we returned to Oleg’s as a terrible thunderstorm began. We all knew it would be close to overtaking us as we arrived. With a quarter mile to go, we could barely hear Svetlana and Oleg yelling over the winds of the storm, begging us to hurry against the storm we could see right behind us. Roderick, Virgil’s mule, normally so slow of foot, became the quickest of all of us. Somehow, Jamven managed to grab onto one of the saddlebags on Roderick and let him drag him into the trading post ahead of us all. Virgil and I did our best to hurry Orla as much as we could, as we were terribly afraid of a lightning strike to her in her armor.

We did get through the doors of the trading post just as the storm overtook us. The three of us fell to the ground when we got inside we were so exhausted. The winds were terrible. I don’t believe I have ever seen anything like them. The rain pelted us. I had never known rain to be painful, but that rain was. The lightning was terrifying. We could see it lighting up the dark clouds above us as well as striking the hills in the distance. The thunder was constant, a sign, as my father told me as a child, of impending hail. Virgil got up first, rushing to get Roderick and guide him as best he could into the stables. Orla got up next, looking first to Virgil, then to me in silent thanks. I saw her reach out for me and then a bolt of lightning come down from the heavens. Pure adrenaline propelled me from lying down to getting up onto a knee and diving forward with my arms outstretched, pushing her out of the way and taking the lightning strike meant for her. That was the last thing I knew…

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Episode 1 - Arrival in the Vale

To High Lorekeeper Telthaunt,

You have asked me to relate (I prefer the word regale) to you the history of the path that led me to this fine country I find myself living in. If you don’t mind, I will tell this as a bard, including my thoughts and feelings, and not with a clinical precision you are accustomed to. I may not have ever come to utilize any of the more common bardic performances, but I’m still a storyteller at heart…

I found myself sitting in the Turtle’s Maw, a ramshackle tavern in the Docks District in Duhlnarim, Erlkazar. I had discovered that King Korox Morkann had issued charters to explore the regions south and east of the Erlkazaran borders. I grabbed a charter even before I had anyone to travel with me. You knew how I desired to explore the lands of my ancestors past, that of the Thornwood and the Winterwood, the last remnants of the green elf realm of Thearnytaar. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity, and I had an official charter to do so.

As I already mentioned, I was in the Turtle’s Maw. I had placed a number of parchments mentioning my desire for companions to explore what was once known as the Vale of the Reaver. I had been in the Turtle’s Maw for four days when finally some interesting prospects entered the tavern. They first talked to Burthan, the bartender. He had a peg leg and terrible scars on his right arm, which he always showed off by tearing the sleeves off of his shirts. He always claimed that he got the scars from fighting the dragon turtle of the Deepwash. I heard something Burthan said to the taller of the two prospects to the effect of pointing out the location of a brothel that catered to men (by men), and I chuckled lightly before affecting an air of nonchalance as they turned in my direction.

I first looked over the taller of the two prospects. He was human, and at the time I guessed he was of Chondathan blood. He was young, but not too young. I was uncertain what to think of him. He seemed to be “bookbright”, but also carried a nice longsword strapped to his back. His build didn’t scream wizard by any means.

The second was much smaller, a halfling in fact. To be honest, there was little to note about his appearance. He appeared to be a normal halfling by all accounts, though he did have a shortbow (no pun intended) across his back.

The human introduced himself as Virgil Firemane and the halfling as Jamven Mongothsbeard. After some discussion, Virgil said that he was a wizard and Jamven a ranger and that Jamven had been his guide from Cormyr, through the Western Heartlands, down through Amn then into Tethyr and finally into Erlkazar. As they both had talents I thought could be beneficial to the charter’s completion, I hired them immediately. Not long after they entered the Maw, another human entered. This one seemed crazed. Well, more like addle pated. Barmy the planar travelers who visit Sigil would say. I heard him ask Burthan for some zurg, a drug of sorts. When his inquiries didn’t pan out, he came to our table, having seen my advertisement for help with the charter.

He introduced himself as Simon Magus, a monk of Ilmater interested in alleviating the suffering of the world, if only by taking it all upon himself. His interest in zurg was that it would allow himself to physically take on more of said suffering. Knowing that the other three groups who had gained charters had already left to explore their areas, I decided against better judgment to agree to allow Simon to travel along with us.

After some alcohol-related humorous events (including Simon throwing Jamven towards the top of a stack of barrels, only to have Jamven miss catching the barrels and knocking himself unconscious), we found and got on the skiff of my old friend Jherek. The old ranger set sail along the shores of the Deepwash immediately. Along the way, both Simon and Jamven said they saw what appeared to be a small island with black, charred tree trunks on it in the Deepwash, before it submerged. Was it the dragon turtle? To this day, I don’t know.

On the third day out of Duhlnarim, we passed Saarlik. I decided to not tell them what it was exactly that was rumored to live (so to speak) within the ruins of that old city. And I still feel that it was the right choice, to this day. As we were about to make camp for the evening, Simon noticed someone standing along the shore of the Deepwash.

When I gazed upon what Simon saw, I saw a very attractive woman. She wore heavier armor, and was well-armed. Now, I’ve seen many attractive women in my time. Some of them wore armor like she did. Many wore more, shall we say, revealing modes of armor meant more to distract than protect. Most carried various types of weapons. But there was, even then, upon first sight of her, something else I hadn’t encountered before. When we first met, I felt, well, ready to be great I guess. I knew even then that I would follow this woman wherever she wanted to go. She just gave me this absolute sense of calm, of things being right. As time went by, this feeling grew and never wavered.

We all discovered that she apparently knew Simon from Barakmordin, the fortress temple in Tethyr. She also seemed to know of Simon’s rather heretical thinking. She introduced herself to us. Orla Shae. She claimed that she had received a vision from her god, Torm, which led her to the shore of the Deepwash. While you know I’m not a holy man, and I’m not one for believing in holy visions, I was a man who filled a charter desperate for a good sword arm. I did not doubt at all that she fit the bill perfectly.

The next day we sailed down the Wintercloak River as far as we needed to where Jherek let us off so we could start our overland journey to Oleg’s Trading Post on the far northern end of the Vale of the Reaver. It took us two days of uneventful travel to get to Oleg’s. When we got there, we found a middle-aged man working on repairing a roof of a building within the palisade walls. An attractive woman greeted us warmly.

As we quickly discovered, the man was Oleg and the woman was his wife, Svetlana. Immediately, she told us that they had sent word to Erlkazar, asking for help with bandits, and they hoped we were that help. They (meaning Svetlana, as Oleg seemed angered that we were not the requested help) asked us to help with the bandits, who were scheduled to arrive the following morning.
Svetlana informed us that the bandits had been arriving for three months now, on the first day of each month. Each time they took all the goods that Oleg and Svetlana had traded with the trappers and hunters of the area for. The first month, the bandits were led by a woman and a man. The woman seemed to be in charge and the man her second. They threatened first to cut off Oleg’s hand, then to take Svetlana back to their camp where she would have been “entertainment” for the bandits. Finally, they settled on taking Svetlana’s wedding ring, as “payment for leaving Oleg with two hands.” The next two months, the number of bandits coming to the trading post decreased each time, as it was obvious they thought that Oleg and Svetlana weren’t going to give them any trouble.

By that time I think everyone was of the same mind: to help Oleg and Svetlana. This included Simon, who I recall may have thought or said something about the bandits having zurg. Svetlana made us a hearty meal, including wine, and Oleg finished the roof on the building where we could stay while there. After the meal we prepared a plan we were going to implement in the morning. Jamven and I stood on the palisade walls with our bows at the ready. Virgil and Simon were manning the trading post doors, ready to close them soon as the bandits arrived. Orla was in the trading post storage area with the goods the bandits wanted. Oleg stood in the center, ready for their arrival.

On schedule, the bandits arrived, led by the lascivious man, the woman nowhere to be found. He led four other bandits. The lead bandit caught on to the probable trap quickly when he noticed Orla in the storage area and didn’t see Svetlana anywhere. In hindsight, had we tried to disguise Orla as Svetlana, the plan may have worked even better, though also in retrospect it didn’t matter.

The bandits went to attack, but we were ready. Jamven proved to be a great sniper. Simon, even with an injured shoulder, was able to vanquish one of the bandits. Orla faced off against the leader, who continually made crude comments to her through their battle. I managed to take out one of the bandits, and then ran to make sure that Oleg had escaped from battle without injury. It took longer than I thought it might, as we showed our battle inexperience, but we won the day. Oleg and Svetlana were so grateful. They gave us a few potions someone named Bokkun had made for them and told us that we could stay at the trading post as long as we wanted for free, food included! This last offer we made much use of in the days ahead…

On the body of the bandit leader, we found a silver amulet in the shape of a stag’s head on him. Little did we realize the import of this at the time. We all spent some time trying to discern some sort of meaning to it, from historical references, to arcane, to religious, but nothing seemed to fit. After resting for the rest of the day and night, we began our explorations of the Vale of the Reaver.

We took off the next morning, ready to explore. When I say we, I mean Orla, Virgil, Jamven and I. Simon had found some zurg on one of the bandits and was on some sort of drug-induced haze we couldn’t shake him from. We were riding the horses that we had obtained from the bandits, wanting to explore the land as quickly as possible. We discovered the error of our ways two days later when bandits ambushed us. None of our horses were trained for combat, so all were spooked as the arrows flew at us. Orla, Virgil and I all fell from our horses. Jamven (who had been riding sidesaddle after trying to ride his horse normally the first day, the poor halfling) was the only one to remain in the saddle. The bandits didn’t give us much trouble ultimately, and we continued exploring.

In the following days, we found a barbarian cairn which we chose not to rob, we fought a vicious monster that burrowed up out of the ground underneath me and then spit acid at me. I later came to realize was an ankheg. During that battle, Orla nearly died after Virgil chose to enlarge her. I don’t want to make it sound like there was some sort of cause and effect there, just stating what had happened. I’m merely glossing over most of the details of what happened, as most days were spent exploring and travelling and seeing a lot of nothing. But I will expand upon what we saw and did when I think it necessary.

After we returned to Oleg’s to recover from the ankheg attack, we received word from Erlkazar that they had heard of a Stag Lord, who was the bandit leader. Suddenly, the amulet we found on the bandit leader who came to Oleg’s (and another we found on the body of a bandit stuck in a spider’s nest which I killed with one of the best arrow shots of my life) made sense. We finally had the identity of the bandit leader. Now we just had to find him.

Towards the end of our first month of exploration, we finally decided to explore the far western reaches of the Winterwood. I told the group of the legend of the Green Sword, the powerful blade that appears at, as you know, varying times within the expanse of the wood. Within the Winterwood we found a large area rife with bear traps and wolf traps and, well frankly, traps of all kinds. It took an entire day, but Jamven managed to disable all the traps. I fear what would have happened had he not done so. We just needed to find out who was responsible for all the traps.

Finally, a second bandit ambush occurred while we were in the Winterwood. The bandits were easily vanquished. However, I nearly lost my life when Jamven accidentally shot an arrow at me and struck me deeply in my left lung while he was aiming at one of the bandits. If there were any one thing that made me realize just how deadly Jamven could be, it was getting struck by one of his arrows.

From there, we returned yet again to Oleg’s Trading Post, where we rested and then set off to explore yet more of the Vale of the Reaver, and ultimately, to find the Stag Lord…

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