Enough Kingdom-building, Let's Kill Shit

After a year of everyone building structures, keeping the peace, and getting married* our intrepid adventurers are bored out of their skulls. Baron Melvin seeks out some Baronial bonding with Maegar Varn, the leader of Varnhold, but things seem to be amiss there. Melvin offers to help with their centaur problem but gets no response.

Meanwhile, civil war rages in Restov. Looks like Varnhold and Miravanot are on their own.

A fellow named Edrist Hanvaki (sp? My handwriting is terrible) has recently moved to Stagfall from Varnhold and his brother comes to visit him every month… until now. He asks Zot to find his brother so Zot sends a few of his men and a few of the kobolds out along the main road to look for the missing brother. Things take a turn for the spooky (or murdery) when the party sent out from Stagfall never returns.

Zot, Melvin, Ravena, and Miracelli decide to take matters into their own hands and set out for Varnhold. The road to Varnhold winds through a narrow mountain pass, the Tors of Levine. There is a tower in the pass, which Miracelli licks(despite the fact that she KNOWS SHE’S NOT SUPPOSED TO LICK THINGS). The tower is completely abandoned, so she calls the rest of the crew up to join her at the top.

The view from the tower is stunning… and very, very wrong. No creatures travel the road. No fires burn in the city of Varnhold, visible far below. The markets are empty, and generally the whole place has been Roanoaked.

The adventurers go ahead, despite (or because of) the fact that something creepy is afoot. They enter a village, then enter a house at random. A fire on the hearth had burned down to ash, leaving the pot of stew that sat upon it rotting. In all ways the house looks like someone could come back to it at any second, but It seems to be 2 or 3 weeks since another human (or elf or gnome or whatever) was in each structure.

The keener eared members of the group hear a massive, cranky boar in a pen nearby. The pen is filled with the carcassas of lesser pigs, which the boar has cannibalized. Zot tries to ask the boar where everyone went, which results (as these things often do) with Zot looking DELICIOUS. After much stabbing (on the boars part and our heroes’) the boar is vanquished and the gang decides to cross the shallow river that runs through the town. A Chuul (horrible lobster-man) bursts out of the water and grabs onto Melvin. He’s 42 feet from the shore in either direction, grappled, being chomped on, maybe gonna drown, and just when things look like they couldn’t get any worse….

…my notes end abruptly! It says 29 Magic Missiles left. That’s it. That’s the last line. I have no idea what happened with the Chuul, so I’m going to assume that we punched it’s face so hard that it exploded into four servings of perfectly cooked lobster thermidor with hero points for desert. Yum, thanks nice GM!

*Percentage of adventurers actually married may vary.

The Ballad of the Troll Killers

It was an unseasonably warm Lamashan night and the tavern was packed, but for the first time since it opened all of the conversations had stopped. No more doting on the beautiful new tavern building, no more idle observations about how the whole place seemed lighter and brighter since that nasty Grigory stopped slinking around. The large crowd has fallen silent, transfixed by the human bard, Gwendolyn.

Her first song of the night had been light and funny, “The Ballad of Bang-Bang Pistolfoot and The Monster Formerly Known as Hodag,” but then, when the song was over, beautiful Lily stood up from her table and shouted, “Sing one about Baron Melvin!” The crowd agreed, cheering, shouting for a song about their noble lord.

Gwendolyn paused, thinking for a second, before nodding in agreement.

“This is something I’ve been working on. It’s not finished, but it’s ‘The Ballad of the Troll Killers’. I hope you like it.”

The crowd did like it. At first they were struck silent, but soon the quick beat set people dancing. The men stomped and the women clapped to keep the time.

“Once in Stagfall was a man,
who set out with a simple plan,
to see the world
with two girls
and a little gnooome!
They were so far to rooooam!”

Gwendolyn paused to clap along, getting caught up in the merry beat. She smiled then began the next verse.

“But then you see they found a spot!
With the help of tiny Zot!
Full of trolls
or maybe gnolls
and things you’ve never seeeeen!
Oh how far they’ve beeeen!

“Now Restov says they sent him there.
But our lord goes anywhere!
Over hills
Founding mills
No matter what he’s tooold!
Making friends with the koboooolds!

“But this time there was some fear,
The outcome it was never clear,
So Ravena had to fly
So that she could spy
And saw a Dwarven caaaave!
She thought it was her graaaave!

But soon the team they all came up
And they fought hard while we did sup,
It was their plight
Upon that night
To battle all those troooools!
And steal off all their goooold!

So Zot he did hatch a plan,
They fought hard and never ran
Miracelli fought
Hard she shot
Arrows flahsed
In they dashed”
Gwendolyn gasped for air, then continued, her pace picking up.
“They had no fear,
Though trolls were near,
Trusting in their swoooords!
Oh how great our looooords!”

“You want to know what happened next?
Ravena she did cast a hex,
Zot’s gun flamed,
The trolls were tamed,
But that was just the staaaart!
Gwendolyn leaned over the stage, whispering conspiratorially to the audience-
“-Cover your ears!
Not for kids to hear!-”
Then she stood back up straight-
“It’s not for the weak of heaaaaart!”

“Trolls you see do not just die
To be rid of them you have to fry
Their skin and bones
Upon the stones
And leave them naught but flaaaaames!
Lest they come back the saaaame!”

“But Melvin he did make a spark,
And Ravena she did cast an arc,
Of shining fire-
I’m no liar
And the trolls they left for deaaaaad!
With a bullet through the heaaaaad!”

As our lords went further in,
Louder did become the din,
They never wavered
Lest they be savored
As a troll-hound’s snaaaack!
How wild was their attaaaaack!

You might think that they’re finished now,
But our lords they fought through somehow,
And soon they saw
Within the maw
The greatest troll of aaaaaall!
He was so soon to faaaaal!

Miracelli’s bow, Ravena’s hand,
Zot’s loud gun and Melvin’s band,
And mace of cold,
(Or so I’m told),
Made a mess of troll insiiiiiiides!
How nasty did he diiiiie!

And so among the grisly death,
Finally they did catch their breath,
And said “We’re done”,
And “That was fun”,
And then how they did reeeest!
Within the troll-lord’s neeeeest!

And now our lords you’ll find them home,
But you know that soon they’ll roam,
You’ll find them here-
buy them a beer
And hear them tell their taaaaales!
Our lords they’ll never faaaaail!

But as for me my song must end,
I hope you have enjoyed it, friend,
For it is true,
You never knew,
How much our lords have dooooone!
…and yet, they say it’s all in fun.”
With that, Gwendolyn winked at the table where Melvin, Zot, and Ravena sat. The crowed cheered, as much for their leaders as for the bard. Her words had woven a magical spell over the audience, but indeed, everything she said was true. Soon the crowd had lifted Baron Melvin up on their shoulders.

“Three cheers for Baron Melvin!” Someone shouted.
“Hip-hip-hooray!” The crowd shouted, holding him aloft, then lowering him to their shoulders again.
Skitter sighed audibly.
“Quiet, you.” Ravena snapped at her familiar, “I think someone’s about to buy me a beer. Or do you have a problem with that?”
The scarlet spider shook its head.
“Hip-hip-hooray!” The crowd shouted again, still holding their Baron aloft.
“Ha!” Zot laughed. “Looks like Melvin’s getting a little sea-sick up there!”
“Eh, that’s just a look he has.” Miracelli replied, dropping out of nowhere.
Zot and Ravena both yelped with shock.
“Where the hell did you come from?!” Ravena demanded, catching her breath.
“The ceiling. Where did you think I’ve been this whole time?” Miracelli said, seeming slightly offended.
“Just… just don’t sneak up on us like that!” Ravena exclaimed.
“That’s not a promise I can make. So you said other people are buying us things?” Miracelli smiled.
As if on cue, a barmaid sloshed four full mugs of ale onto the table.
“These are on the house.” She said. “Guess my boss took the bard to heart. Anyway, thanks, guys.”
“A TOAST!” The tavern-owner shouted. “TO HOW AWESOME YOU FOUR ARE!”
“To how awesome we are!” Miracelli squealed in agreement.
“Hip-hip-hooray!” The crowd shouted a final time, lowering Baron Melvin to the ground.
Finding his feet again, Melvin paused, then corrected the toasting group around him.
“No,” He said, “TO STAGFALL!”
“TO STAGFALL!” Was the resounding shout.

The end to the prior post because I didn't preview before posting.

Something went wrong with the last post and part of it was missing when posted. Please read that first then this one since I can’t seem to edit posts after the fact.

Anyway, we fight for a few more pages, some of the lizards seem to realize that their ancestors wouldn’t make them torture the boy, Melvin kills their king, Vesket, and everything seems cool until we hear a deep laughter from within a hut. It emerges and IT’S A FUCKING WILL O’ WISP OH NO WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE but instead of being a floating human skull it’s a floating lizard skull. He says, “Ah, that fear was delicious.”
Ravena shouts to the lizards that the wisp is a monster and not a revered ancestor, but the wisp shouts, “The Witch lies! She’s trying to mislead you!”
Ravena translates some good stuff Melvin says about their ancestors being noble and not like that and the Lizards seem to agree.

And that’s where we really left off.

Game of Oct. 30, 2012

Note: I didn’t bother making this more coherent or well-written- what follows is just a word-for-word transcription of my handwritten notes.

We camp.
There are fires in the lizard camp but nothing else.
The island is in the middle of the Murqe River.
Bordered on each side by swampy banks that effectively expand the width of the river.
We decide to swim across and then sneak in.
Everyone but Bill and Melvin struggles to make the swim. Ravena is like, “Screw this, I’m flying.” Miracelli starts to drown. Melvin throws her a rope.
We hear a boy screaming on the other side of the fence. He screams “No, don’t put me near the crocodiles again!”
Ravena flys over the wall and loops a rope up. Everyone goes over. Melvin is not very stealthy. Ravena, Miracelli and Zot head toward the northern hut where the boy’s screams are coming from.
A lizard person spots us. He shouts in Draconic, “Who are you?” Then tucks into his hut and shouts, “Arm up, men!”
Ravena suddenly feels like she’s being stung and bitten all over. She pulls it together well enough to try to negotiate for the boy’s release in Draconic. She is told that the boy belongs to Stisshak now.
Stisshak is one of their revered ancestors. They practice ancestor worship.
Ravena tries to beg them to let the boy go for his family and people’s sake. However, she is still swatting at herself and cursing in Elven. The lizards misinterpret that as “Fuck you” in Draconic.
The lizards brandish their weapons.
Miracelli attacks with her crossbow, Zot shoots, Melvin come charging out of where he’s been hiding. He hits the lizard leader and kills it.
The other three lizard people surround Melvin and attack but hie’s awesome.
s where we left off.

Games 23-27ish, or Girl Talk and Zombies

A knock on the door startled Ravena from her studies.
“Who is it?” She called out, already knowing the answer. Only a rogue would call at that hour.
“It’s Miracelli,” a muffled voice on the other side of the door replied.
“Come on in.”
“It’s locked.” Miracelli said poutily.
“And this is a problem for you?”
A moment later the door swung open. Miracelli entered the small room and plopped down on the bed.
“Go ahead.” Ravena rolled her eyes, “Make yourself at home.”
“So, what are you working on?” Miracelli asked, ignoring the other half-elf’s sarcasm.
“Going back over my notes on a spell Skitter’s been teaching me. It should be handy. She’s teaching me how to fly.”
“Oooo, you could snoop on so many people if you could fly!”
“That wasn’t something I had considered,” Ravena replied, “But yes, I suppose I could. I had cave and tower exploration more in mind. Like the haunted tower where we got our asses handed to us? Didn’t you wonder what was on the upper floors?”
“No,” Miricelli shook her head, “What had been the upper floors had collapsed onto the ground. I could see it all just fine without flying.”
“I dunno, I didn’t get a good sense of the place.” Ravena replied.
“That’s probably because there was a horrifying skull monster!” Miracelli squealed.
“It’s called a Will o’ Whisp. And that reminds me, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about licking things.”
“Zot licked the tower too!” Miracelli replied indignantly.
“Zot doing something doesn’t make it a good idea. That tower was clearly evil. I mean, it was covered in Aklo carvings! That’s the language of the old gods! You know, you don’t tend to listen to me much.” Ravena furrowed her brows, “You must be really bored right now.”
“I’m soooo bored.” Miracelli groaned. “Nothing interesting ever happens around here!”
“What about that Grigory guy? He was interesting.”
“He hasn’t done anything interesting in DAYS!” Miracelli moaned, “He just hangs out in the inn and sometimes in the market. And he’s asleep right now. He’s one of those people.”
“The kind who sleep?” Ravena asked.
“Normally I sleep, I just really want to be sure I have all of this right,” Ravena replied, gesturing at a pile of scrolls on her desk. “If only I had more books at my disposal…”
“You don’t need books! You’ve got Skitter!” Miracelli exclaimed.
“Speak of which, could you keep it down? She’s sleeping one off right now. She got into some of that strong stuff we sent the giant. And I do need books. Books are full of languages and histories and facts about monsters- they can be incredibly handy.”
“You don’t need to know anything about monsters except that they’re fun to stab!”
“And lick?”
“Hey,” Miracelli said, crossing her arms, “Last time we went exploring I didn’t lick anything, even though there were gnomes there and I’ve been led to believe that they’re delicious.”
“Their leader, Jubilost, didn’t look delicious.” Ravena replied.
“No, but it was funny how he thought Zot was our leader.”
“Zot could never be our leader. The Hat, on the other hand…”
“I wonder if it still talks to him.” Miracelli pondered.
“Yeah, listening to hats… that’s um, insane…” Ravena trailed off and then quickly changed the subject. “It was funny how those gnomes were trying to ford that river.”
“Yeah, fording a river- it’s so ‘next landmark 317 miles, Grandma has dysentery’.”
Ravena stared at Miracelli in confusion.
Miracelli shook her head. “I don’t get what I just referenced either.”
“Whatever. At least the gnomes helped us fill in our map.”
“Sure,” Miracelli replied, “But what good is a map if you don’t go the places on it?”
“This is true. I suppose you’re getting a little stir-crazy from not adventuring for a few days.” Ravena replied. “I think Zot is too. You know how his kind can be. Tomorrow let’s talk to Melvin about going out again.”
“I think Melvin’s still sick. He was sleeping like a log when I snuck into- I mean- walked by his room.”
“You snuck into…” Ravena smacked her forehead with her palm, “Why does everyone think I’m the creepy one?”
“What?” Miracelli demanded, “I wanted to check on him! He didn’t leave his room all day. He’s a baron, you know. People poison barons and stuff. I was being a nice friend.”
“A creepy friend. I need to sleep, but now I’m a little scared to.”
“So then don’t sleep and stay up and talk to me!” Miracelli suggested hopefully.
“No, I don’t think so. I need enough sleep for my spells to work.”
“Aw, nuts! You’re no fun. Before you go to sleep, can I ask you one thing?”
Ravena narrowed her eyes. “If you’re going to ask if you can lick me, then no.”
“I’m not going to lick you. You probably taste weird. No, it’s about someone else licking you, wink-wink-nudge-nudge.”
“What is it?” Ravena sighed with resignation.
“Are you married yet or what?”
“Akiros proposed to me at Archerfest. Prior to that I’d only consented to courtship.”
“Is that what you kids call it these days?” Miracelli winked.
“That’s it. Get out of my room.” Ravena stood up and pointed to the door.
Miracelli left giggling.
Ravena watched her go, then pushed her desk chair against her door.

And now an awkward switch from past to present tense!

The following day, Melvin and Zot are quick to agree that they could use some adventure.
“Are you at all worried that Grigory will slander us for heading out again?” Ravena asks.
“So what if he does?” Zot replies. “My men are keeping an eye on him.”
“So are mine!” Miracelli interjects. “Let’s go places.”
Since Melvin mostly feels better the four set off for the barrow tomb that Jubilost had marked on their map. He and his gnomes, the Narthropple expedition, hadn’t explored it further because they saw bats come out of it and Jubilost is no fan of winged mammals.
Our heroes arrive near the barrow at sunset and as they’re preparing dinner they see what the gnome was talking about: Hundreds of bats pour out of the cave, darkening the sky.
The following day they enter the tomb and try to stealthily sneak past the bats, but this fails when Melvin’s shield clanks against his armor. Zot kills a bat with his sword but sees that the swarm will not be diminished by stabbing alone, which is the kind of realization that makes Miracelli sad. Fortunately, Ravena is able to web most of them to the ceiling.
With the bats dispatched the group heads deeper into the tomb. The light of Miracelli’s lantern plays off rough but glimmering mosaics. They show people working tilling the earth and engaging in the mundane rituals of day-to-day town life. The images are almost comforting, but the next room they enter is anything but. A skeleton lies sprawled in the middle of the floor as four giant carved faces keep watch over it from each corner of the room. Hallways radiate in each of the cardinal directions from this octagonal room.
Miracelli chooses the hall to the south and calls back behind her that Ravena would love it. The décor is very “her”. There are six caskets propped against the wall, all with a skeleton standing inside of it. As Miracelli calls out to her comrade the skeletons awake from their long slumber, each drawing a sword.
If Miracelli was the cussing type, she would do it now.
Zot rushes in, firing a flare cartridge to blind the risen dead, but years of decay have stripped them of their eyeballs, making them impossible to blind. Fortunately, this same decay has made them weak and stupid. The group quickly dispatches them.
While Miracelli and Ravena scout for treasure, Melvin heads outside to check on the horses and Zot decides to poke around the octagonal room they just came through.
Suddenly, the carved faces on the wall come to life and try to ensnare him with some kind of magic fog tentacles. He finds himself too exhausted to fight. Miracelli and Ravena defend him, and when they’re done Zot passes out on the floor. Ravena pokes him and he jumps up jauntily, feeling refreshed.
In the room to the north the three who are still in the tomb (Melvin is still checking on the horses) find 300 pieces of copper, which is kind of a ridiculous amount to carry.
Finally, in the room due east of the main chamber they find a decayed, dead body sitting on a throne. He opens his eyes and shouts “Intruders!” in Hallit, which Ravena needlessly translates for the group.
Melvin returns just in time to wail on the zombie-like being with his mighty mace. The creature sucks energy out of Melvin, but Ravena shoots it with some really bitchin’ lightning bolts while Miracelli and Zot wisely shoot from a distance. The fight is difficult, but the monster (or wight, as the GM let slip) is no match for our mighty heroes! Yay! Adventure log finished 15 minutes before game time.

Game 22ish, Or The GM Almost Kills Us.

Kundal huddled naked in his prison cell, raving about what he had done.
“Calm down,” Zot told him. “You’re locked up. You can’t hurt anyone.”
“But, but I’m a monster! I’ve killed!” Kindal said, clawing at the bars.
“It won’t happen again,” Ravena reassured him, “We saw to that. Your lycanthropy has been cured.”
“How?” Kendil asked.
“We gave you a potion.” Ravena replied.
“Though I would like to keep Kandel to observe him until the next full moon.” Zot said.
“Indeed, how can we know that Kendul won’t change again?” Melvin asked.
Behind him, the imprisoned former werewolf tried to correct the pronunciation of his name, but his suggestions were mostly ignored. This might have bothered him, if he had anything left to lose. As it was, Kuhndahl was a nomadic Numarian who had lost his wife and two sons in a horrible wolf attack.
More important than his name or his past was what the future held for him. Initially Baron Melvin and Zot tossed around the idea of punishment, and both still favored keeping the man, but Ravena insisted that he was cured and should be free to go.
“Be that as it may,” said Melvin, “The townspeople are a superstitious lot. I’d like for Jhod to bless this man to give them further confirmation that the curse is lifted.”
Ravena stamped her foot and wiggled the tips of her hair in irritation. “Is my word not good enough?”
“Well, you know, Jhod is a respected religious figure-”
“I’m respected too, and I say Kundul is fine!” Ravena interrupted.
Finally the others relented and it was agreed that the barbarian would be sent to the farm where he killed the goatherd and decimated the flock to make reparations for what he had done.

The following day the foursome set out to investigate different reports of possibly supernatural wolf activity.
Prior to the establishment of Stagfall the adventurers had spotted huge wolf tracks to the southeast while surveying the area. More recently the Sootscale kobold patrols had reported encounters with the maker of those huge tracks, a worg named Howl of North Wind. The worg had told them in no uncertain terms that this land was his and that the settlers of Stagfall had no place there.
After riding for hours Zot, Ravena, Miracelli, and Melvin arrived at the wort’s cave.
“Come out!” Melvin commanded at the mouth of the cave, “We want to talk with you. We even brought a gnome for a snack!”
“I’m delicious and lean!” Zot agreed.
“You come in here.” The worg growled.
Ravena was remarking that they might have to go into the cave to fight it on its own turf when she saw the worg and three smaller wolves charging out of the cave toward them.
Zot was standing deliciously right in front of them, giving him a clear shot with an entangling cartridge from his gun. The worg and his followers were hit. In mere moments Melvin and Miracelli closed in, destroying the worg. The wolves were dispatched with equal ease.
After the battle Melvin decided that the worg’s pelt would make an epic baronly cape. He set about skinning the beast while Miracelli and Zot made their way into the cave looking for possible loot. In the very back of the cave they found what they were looking for in the form of a very, very dead guy with a lot of money on him.
Ravena was poking slowly into the cave behind them and overheard them talking about their spoils.
“What’s that?” she shouted in the echoing main chamber.
“Nothing!” Miracelli shouted back.
“That’s it, I’m coming after you,” Ravena replied, jumping off a small ledge and gently drifting to the ground.
“No need! Nothing interesting!” Miracelli was still shouting when the witch got to her.
“Were you seriously going to keep this from the rest of us?” Ravena said, indignantly turning to Zot.
“Why do I have to be so… nice?” The gnome sighed. “Lets give her a part.”
“Fine.” Miracelli agreed.
“Good.” Ravena said as she tucked the gold pieces into the pouch at her waist.
Back at the entrance of the cave Melvin was still skinning the worg.
“How was the cave?” He asked, “Anything interesting?”
His companions glanced at each other.
Finally, Ravena told him that Miracelli had found some money.
“That’s good.” Baron Melvin replied. As was often the case, his voice betrayed no strong emotion one way or another on the subject.
“I think,” Said Ravena, hoping to get him riled up, “That Miracelli was planning on keeping it to herself.”
“She does that sometimes,” the Baron shrugged. “I see no harm.”
Miracelli winked gleefully at Ravena.
“Well, what now?” Zot asked.
“I say we camp here for the night and do a bit more exploring tomorrow.” Melvin suggested as he wiped a trickle of sweat off his brow with the back of his hand.

The following day our heroes were fascinated by the giant piles of poop they found.
“I wonder what could have taken such giant dumps?” Miracelli mused.
“You just answered your own question.” Ravena replied. “Giants.”
The other half-elf’s eyes grew large. She kept an eye out for the massive men as they continued to ride, but none were to be found.
Fortunately, they did spot some rattlecap mushrooms.
“Perfect, Bill will love these!” Ravena exclaimed as she dismounted near the mud pit they grew around.
Bill whinnied in confusion.
“No, not you, the other Bill,” Melvin said, patting his horse’s head.
As Ravena began plucking mushrooms from the loamy earth the ground itself seemed to move under her. Suddenly, a terricolous emerged from the ground. The plant monster grabbed her in its horrible tentacles and held her tight- too tight for her to cast a spell to heal herself against the damage it was doing to her body.
The other three attempted to fight and free their friend, but the monster was too strong. A violent slap from the beast cracked Melvin’s strong centipede scale armor. The terricolous even tried to eat Zot because hey, everything wants to eat Zot.
Ravena fell unconscious and the monster gave up on squeezing her, believing the bloodied and broken elf to be dead. All outward indicators suggested she was, and none of her party had healing potions to offer- that is, if they could even get past the tentacles to where she lay. Her patron, Insanity, appeared to her in the dark.
“Oh, hi. Am I dead again?” Ravena asked.
“Save for a miracle, you will be.” Insanity replied. “But you’re good at miracles.”
“Are my friends being killed right now?”
“Most definitely. Especially Zot. Why does he have to be so delicious? Do you ever think about eating him?”
“No. That’s gross. You’re insane.” Ravena replied with a sneer.
“Righty-o. I am.” Insanity flashed a grin. “Speak of which, do you ever get the feeling that you’re at the mercy of someone, let’s just call him a GM for the sake of simplicity, and he’s laughing at you right now? Like maybe he’s what just killed you and he thinks that’s funny?”
“No, I don’t get that feeling. Isn’t it bad enough that I was just strangled by what looks like an angry vagina?”
“That makes it even funnier!” Insanity giggled. “Ooo, now that angry vagina is doing a number on Melvin. You know, I’m gonna go talk to Pharasma. Maybe she’ll let you go again. I really don’t want to lose you- you and your friends are too much fun to watch.”
Moments later Ravena found herself regaining consciousness. She was aware that she still had several broken bones, but the monster seemed to be faltering in its attacks and she was now free and able to heal. She saw that as the beast had thrashed around it had crushed most of the mushrooms they had come for in the first place.
“Stupid fucking mushrooms.” She swore.
“Stupid fucking mushrooms,” Miracelli agreed as she fought on, trying to miss the tightly grappled Zot in her attacks.
Finally, miraculously, despite the heavy wounds that the heroes suffered they vanquished the terricolous and Ravena was able to set about healing them.
“I can’t believe that angry vagina-looking thing almost bested us,” Melvin mused, sadly looking at his damaged breastplate.
“Nor can I,” Ravena sighed. “Sometimes these things are just insane.”

Game... 20-21Something? Or A Giant Turtle and a Werewolf.

“Look, I’m not against the brothel,” Ravena said, rising to lean across the table in the main room of the castle where the kingdom’s leaders were gathered.
“Well that’s weird,” Miracelli replied, standing to challenge her from across the oaken expanse, “Because you keep voting against it.”
“I only vote against it,”Ravena answered, “Because you want it to be a kobold brothel.”
“What?” Chief Sootscale glared, banging his small, three-fingered fist on the table, “You say kobold not pretty? We pretty!”
“Yes, yes, you’re pretty, I just would hate to see your women cheapened so.” Ravena replied diplomatically.
“We need diverse women- not just kobolds- for the brothel.” Melvin suggested.
Jhod furrowed his brow. “I feel that this is nothing we should encourage.”
“Aw, Jhod, you’re just being short-sighted.” Miracelli replied. “Think of the gold!”
“Think of the girls.” Jhod replied.
“I am!” Miracelli exclaimed.
“Well it’s clear we’re not getting anywhere on this subject.” Baron Melvin interceded. “Let’s call it a night, relax, and talk about more annexation tomorrow.”
“Or we could do something worthwhile.” Zot suggested.
“Are you suggesting that the roads, farms, houses and businesses we’ve built aren’t worthwhile?” Oleg asked.
“They are, but c’mon, we all know we’re bored. Let’s go do something! Take the giant turtle problem.”
“The giant turtle problem?” Ravena asked dubiously.
“Haven’t you seen the signs?” Miracelli asked. “Geez, you spend a lot of time in your room.”
“I have magical stuff to do.” Ravena replied as she sat back down. ”I had heard rumors of a huge worg and a hodag- I’m not completely out of the loop. By the by, Bill wants us to find some trollblood.”
“My horse wants you to find some trollblood?” Melvin raised an eyebrow.
“No, Bill Mansby, the alchemist. See,” Ravena said pointedly, “I am paying attention to the affairs of the kingdom.”
“Especially the affairs at the shrine?” Miracelli teased.
“Now, now, milady,” Jhod replied, “Ravena’s visits are always welcome.”
“Perhaps her jaunts out of town have made her miss the rumors of the turtle problem.” Melvin replied.
“Oh, you only know the affairs of town because you’ve been frequenting the makeshift inn’s bar!” Ravena replied, pausing before observing that the topic of conversation had turned to girls again.
“Are women not an integral part of our city?” Baron Melvin asked.
“They are.” Miracelli replied. “In fact, we’re probably the most important part of the city. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t funny when you gave the exotic woman a barbarian bracelet when she asked for an elven one.”
“They’re similar!” Melvin defended himself. “But how did you see that?”
“I’m good at my job.” Miracelli replied.
“And you smell gold exchanging hands from a mile away!”
“This is true.” Miracelli shrugged. “And what of it? Speak of which, I heard her telling you that there are elven ruins to the west. Do you think there might be treasure? That would be great!”
“I don’t know, but I suppose if we go I owe Lily a bracelet.” Melvin replied.
“Well that might be a matter for another day,” Zot suggested. “Tomorrow, let’s take out this giant turtle.”
The following day a fisherman ferried our heroes across the lake to his secret fishing hole. It looks more like a river than a lake, but other than that it’s very nice.
Zot takes off his armor and jumps deliciously into the water with just his sword and a rope.
A huge snapping turtle surfaces and noms on the gnome. The pond turns orange with gnome blood.
“Stop looking so delicious!” Ravena shouts from the shore.
“But I’m just so lean and meaty!” Zot shouts back.
Melvin is able to pull Zot out by the rope, but not before Miracelli is soundly disgusted by the amount of delicious gnome blood everywhere. She comes to, however, and delivers the final blows to the bastard turtle.
Zot insists on making turtle intestine jerky. As he does so he finds a lump in the turtle’s innards. Cutting it out he discovers a shiny gem, which excites Miracelli. Ravena immediately assesses that it’s a magical gem that calls forth a water elemental when crushed.
The group camps by the fishing hole overnight and is ferried back to town in the morning.
Because of the size of the group Arvin, the fisherman, has to make two trips. He delivers Zot to the shore first, where the gnome is immediately met by frantic members of his guard.
“Zot, sir!” One salutes breathlessly, “We have a situation on our hands.”
“What kind of situation? Spit it out.”
“A young maid was killed- her name was Saki- and so was a goatherd and some of his flock.”
“What could have done this?”
“We don’t know, it looks like a wolf.”
“No,” contradicts one of the other guards, “Not like any wolf I’ve ever seen.”
“He’s right,” Another guard interjects, “What was killed wasn’t eaten. It’s like it was killed just for the sake of killing.”
When the rest of the group have arrived on the shore Zot tells them the tale and suggests that they go to the cemetery to see the bodies being prepared for burial. Indeed, Sari and the goatherd look as though they’ve been torn apart by wolves.
“To the farm.” Baron Melvin proposes. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
As they crest a hill looking out on the plains north of town they see carrion birds circling over the farm. Zot’s keen tracking sense picks up on a set of large wolf-prints leading off to the east. He and Pilkies bolt ahead of their companions, hot on the trail of what is probably either a worg or dire wolf. They arrive at the spot where the wolf appears to have spent the night but are confounded to find bare human footprints fresh in the mud leading away from the circle of matted grass.
Severina rears and shies as they get close to the spot where Zot stands.
“Uh-oh,” Ravena says as she dismounts and examines the tracks, “This beyond magical. We’re not looking at a dire-wolf or even a worg. We’re looking at a werewolf.”
“Great.” Zot says sarcastically. “Well, time to go mace some silver bullets.”
“Good idea.” Melvin replies, “I’ll talk to the alchemist to see if he has a cure for werewolves laying around.”
“I’ll check with the Spyders. See if anyone’s been acting odd.” Miracelli announced.
“I’ll go with Melvin.” Ravena suggests as she mounts.
With that the foursome split up to be more effective.
At the herbalist’s shop Melvin and Ravena encounter Bill Mansby, who is not a horse but does look kind of horsey. He chews a lot of a mouth numbing herb, which causes his lips to fly around aimlessly when he talks.
Bill does indeed have a cure for lycanthropy, which he produces in a small vial from a dusty shelf.
“Wolfsbane,” Bill says, “That’s what makes it work. Rare stuff too. Expensive.”
“I see where you’re going with this.” Baron Melvin replies.
“Yeah. I want to give it to you, but a man’s gotta make a living here. I’m afraid it’ll be 500 gold.”
“Okay.” Melvin nods, “I can respect that. But how about I give you 300 gold now and then pay the difference in herbs later? How does that sound?”
“I dunno…” Bill says thoughtfully. “I think 500 gold is fair.”
“I understand.” Melvin replies, then makes his offer again.
“Well, there is one thing.” Bill suggests. “I’ll accept your terms if you can get me some black rattlecap mushrooms. They tend to grow around mud pits.”
“That’s reasonable.” Melvin assents, not realizing how difficult those mushrooms will be to procure.
Meanwhile, Miracelli checks in with her spyders.
One immediately comes forward, telling her that “neither victim had any enemies.”
“Um, I that’s not what I asked.” She replied tersely.
“I have something more useful”, one of them suggests. “There’s a man named Kundal who’s been acting odd. He spends most of his time drinking in the makeshift inn. He’s a tribesman from the north.”
“Excellent,” Miracelli rubs her hands together gleefully, “If you find him, follow him- stealthy-like.”
“Is there any other way to follow a person?” The spyder asks as she disappears out a window.
At this point Chief Sootscale reports to Melvin that his patrols have spotted a massive Worg to the southeast. Melvin tells them to double their patrols, just in case.
Meanwhile, Zot continues to craft silver bullets and Miracelli and Ravena meet up to stake out the inn.
Rafi, the innkeeper, says that Kundal doesn’t talk much and mainly keeps to himself.
Baron Melvin is totally missing out. While he’s busy going around instituting a curfew a bard named Gwendolyn is performing in the inn and she’s totally hot.
Miracelli decides to break into Kundals’ room. Ravena barely has time to survey the hall and tell her it’s a bad idea before the lock gives way and Miracelli waves the other half-elf into the room. A quick investigation reveals a gold earring with a chunk of ear still attached to it. They assume it belonged to Siri.
As night descends on the empty streets of Stagfall Miracelli and Zot ascend to the rooftops, leaving Melvin and Ravena on the ground below.
They spot the werewolf in a nearby alleyway, but the creature is too quick for them. It climbs to the wall next to Miracelli and hits her with his massive great ax.
Melvin decides that he’s too badass to stand by and let this happen, so he spurs Bill (the horse) into a charge then leaps at just the right moment to make a 20 foot jump and grab onto the werewolf. The two of them tumble off the roof.
The werewolf bites Melvin as they fall, but fortunately doesn’t pierce the armor.
The werewolf heals himself but Zot shoots it in the leg. The battle is intense, but Zot’s bullets wound and finally Ravena’s burning hands spell burns away his werewolf form, leaving a naked barbarian. Melvin pours Bill (the alchemist)‘s potion down the man’s throat before they take him and lock him up in the castle.

The First Full Year in Stagfall Draws to a Close

It was Abadius of 4712, and Baron Melvin was growing restless. A large map of the Stolen Lands was unfurled on the table in front of him, its unexplored parts taunting him. He knew that Zot, Ravena, and Miracelli felt the same way, but he also knew that their new job as leaders of Stagfall kept them busy.
As he was lost in thought a small but forceful knock came at the door.
“Come in!” He shouted, turning to greet Chief Sootscale as he entered.
“Baron Melvin!” The kobold exclaimed, making a hasty bow, “I have news!”
“And that is?”
“A proposal. My patrols, you see, we found another tribe!”
“Another tribe of kobolds? Within our lands?” Melvin asked with a cocked eyebrow.
“Yes sir! It is true! They’re the Browntooth kobolds,” Chief Sootscale said, shifting excitedly from one webbed foot to the other. “But we made truce! Like remember how you made truce with us? We made truce. They say they serve Baron Melvin like we do if you let them!”
After a moment’s thought Melvin nodded in assent. The Browntooth kobolds would be added to the kingdom’s defenses.
Time proved that the decision had been wise. The expanded kobold forces were a boon to the kingdom. When the leaders met a few weeks later it was inarguable that the forests were more secure. That, however, was not what had Miracelli giggling all through the meeting. Plans were made to annex the gold mine the original foursome had found while questing nearly a year prior.
Later, when the kingdom appears to be making no money Oleg becomes suspicious, but Miracelli enthusiastically investigates herself, ensuring that she is not the reason.
Finally, the month of Sarenith comes and with it the first year of Stagfall draws to a close. On the 10th the Day of Burning Blades comes. The priestesses of Sarenrae dance in their revealing outfits, showing a pleasant amount of side-boob and delighting Baron Melvin.

Romance, festivals, and everything else.

Erastus was a good month for all in the kingdom. Initially, Stagfall had felt a bit like Oleg’s- a small oasis on the edge of something fearsome and unpredictable- but as the summer solstice approached the settlers began to feel as if their city was truly home. Stagfall lacked the conveniences of Restov, but it had an able military, wise leaders, and clean, new buildings. The later were particularly novel to many settlers. Back in Restov new buildings were often only built after a fire. In the countryside farming humans could afford to have big families, but in the bigger cities when an old shoemaker or blacksmith died his eldest would take over the trade and its building, leaving their younger siblings with little. For this reason second and third-born sons were the first to respond to Restov’s call for settlers in the Stolen Lands. Many of the settlers of Stagfall proudly called themselves “third sons” regardless of gender and birth order as a symbol of their previously undervalued rank.
The populace was young, independent, and came from many different classes and races. Most were humans, but even the tradition-loving dwarves produced a few “third sons.” One swore he would open a smithy as soon as he was able but repaired the worker’s tired hammers and axes on his porch in the meantime. Others were half-elves, who regardless of birth order were always “third sons” to their families.
The human settlers proved to be well suited to construction and city protection, though some, like the blacksmith dwarf, had greater dreams. One human came with drawings in hand- instructions for proper mill construction.
“Soon,” Promised Baron Melvin, “All of these things will come to pass. Now that the castle is finished we can devote ourselves wholly to building comfortable houses for everyone. None of those filthy tenements some of you knew in Restov!”
At the start of Erastus spirits couldn’t be higher. Archerfest fell on the third and it was the most raucous one many had seen. In the spirit of the god Erastil it was a time for asking a girl’s father for her hand in marriage. “Third sons” and their female counterparts had no fathers to go through, which resulted in spontaneous proposals which were celebrated with much exhalation and ale. Jhod clapped his hands with delight as couples came to him, seeking his blessing in wedlock.
Underneath the high spirits something more sinister was brewing. In the month of Arodus what Miracelli and her newly christened “Spy-ders” had hoped was an isolated incident a month prior turned into a full-blown bandit problem.
Zot assumed that the problem could be fixed by increasing the patrols of his men. Unfortunately, his soldiers looked dubiously at the tiny, staghelmed gnome and wondered if he was joking. What the men needed was someone to rouse their patriotism, and Baron Melvin was just the person to do it. He called the populace into the courtyard of the castle and gave a speech from the steps.
Note to self: Ravena scrawled on the corner of a scroll, a meeting-place-hall-thing whatcha callit is probably a good thing to build for stuff like this… research it’s cost.
Ravena was never particularly good at calculation or organization so that note found itself quickly buried under the pile of notes and scrolls in her room. She had little time for reading anyway, as a healer her job was never done. She was always amazed by the clumsiness of humans. The places they managed to hit themselves with hammers… one would think that the alehouse had already been built!
Fortunately, the more graceful half-elves formed the base of Miracelli’s Spyders. A few humans fleshed out her crew, which also included a tiny female gnome who had the benefit of fitting into tight places but the detriment of having pink hair of a shade never found in nature.
It was in the month of Rova that a remarkable artist heard the calling of Erastil. He constructed a statue of Old Deadeye which was so lovely that it drew people from miles around. This boosted the kingdom’s economy as well as giving the populace a strong reminder that the kingdom itself bore the blessing of a god.
The favor of Erastil was a strange blessing for Stagfall to have. When the four adventurers met, neither Miracelli nor Zot had shown any interest in the machinations of the gods. Even Melvin was a fairly apathetic follower of Erastil. Ravena worshiped all things, aware of the presence of the gods all around them, respecting them, but truly following only her patron. Now the foursome found themselves leading a nation deeply steeped in the worship of Erastil. Zot even had a magical hat that told him to worship more.
For Ravena’s part, she still started the day the same way, waking before dawn to commune with Skitter and thus her patron, Insanity. She more fully understood the nature of the curse that blessed her. Though when Ravena had ascended Pharasma’s spire, Insanity had told her that their contract could be ended at any time, Ravena knew she would find it impossible. The pair’s fates were now hopelessly intertwined.
Nonetheless, one morning Ravena went to the new statue of Erastil, took to her knees, and prayed. The god was there, of that there could be no doubt. But now what to do with it? Erastil’s powers were so anathema to Insanity’s that the combination of the two made Ravena’s soul feel funny. She was attempting to grow comfortable with the contrast within herself when she was startled by a hand on her shoulder.
It was Jhod. Ravena apologized for not noticing him sooner.
“’Tis quite alright. It seems you’re as moved as I am.” The old priest observed.
“I… I wouldn’t say that.” Ravena replied as she rose, dusting off her black skirt. “You are, after all, the head priest. You know the god’s spirit better than any.”
“To think,” Jhod shook his head, “This time a year ago I was scraping by on the fringes, forsaken and lost.”
“Erastil understands. He forgives.” Ravena replied, gazing over Jhod’s shoulder to where Akiros was standing a polite distance away.
Miracelli suddenly appeared in Ravena’s line of sight directly in front of Akiros.
“How did you do that?” Ravena asked.
“A master does not reveal her secrets.” Miracelli winked.
But a master does, Ravena knew, tease a girl about marriage. Ravena struck before Miracelli could.
Miracelli argued that no such arrangements could be made until the kobold brothel is opened.
Jhod suddenly looked deeply annoyed and turned to leave without saying goodbye. Akiros shrugged helplessly and followed the older man.
“Did that not go as you had planned?” Miracelli said with a devilish smile.
“I have no plans.” Ravena replied then changed the subject. “Except how do we tell the boy kobolds from the girl ones? Also, it’s a dumb idea.”
“Well it’s hard to tell, so it’s even kinkier!” Miracelli exclaimed. “And it’s not a bad idea, it’s a FREAKING BRILLIANT idea!”
“Okay, we’ll leave that on the table,” Ravena lied.
The month of Lamashan began auspiciously enough, but then one of the Spyders reported to Miracelli the tragic case of a sick little boy. He seemed at death’s door but his father diligently cared for him, almost to the point of neglecting his service in the royal guard. The guard drug himself to work each day despite the sorrow that weighed upon him. Little did he know that his weariness was not the only thing causing him to falter on patrol. He had become infected with his son’s disease. Soon guards all over the city were falling ill. They took their own illnesses home, sickening the weaker members of the community. The very young and very old had little to protect them from the creeping green plague.
Zot’s men were quarantined, but for the little boy the city’s efforts came too late. A tiny coffin was crafted and carried to the newly built and blessed cemetery.
As the plague continued coffin production became sloppier in race against the clock.
Ravena was fighting the clock too. She ran from home to home, half-mad from sleep deprivation and magic overuse, laying her hands on each and every person she could find. Her hands glowed violet then white, cleansing what she could of the dread sickness. When her magic was exhausted, as it was every day, she patched up boils with blessed bandages. She had seen a contagion like this before and had her suspicions, but it wasn’t until one of the men by the newly founded mill noticed something odd. The lake- the very water upon which the city depended- was tainted.
Fortunately, through the whole city’s efforts the plague claimed its last victim and then showed its face no more. They were safe- at least for the time being.
Stagfall’s survivors had their confidence shaken, but they went back to their lives. New farms and roads were built. The farms and freshly minted miller assisted with internal food production, allowing the city to be less reliant on hunting and imported foods.
Still, no one said this would be easy, and if they had they were either lying, naive, or just plain drunk.
Even amidst the tough times the people of Stagfall had not forgotten their right to party, and Ascension Day is the finest excuse to party. It coincided with the first snow of the year, allowing for chilled kegs in the common areas outside and soul-warming spiced wines and ales inside the freshly constructed houses. No one got drunk enough to attempt the Test of the Starstone as the day’s honorary, Cayden Cailean, had, though Seamus, the blacksmithing dwarf kept threatening he would.
“Ha,” Zot laughed, “And they say Dwarves can handle their liquor! He’s hardly had 20 mugs!”
“Hush.” Melvin snapped. “If he hears you insulting him like that we’ve got a fight on our hands and that’s the LAST thing I want.”
“Indeed,” Svetlana agreed. She had been standing with them at the edge of the winter revelry in the open public area where houses and businesses would soon stand. “Now that things have calmed down after the plague the last thing we need are racial tensions within the city.”
Oleg danced through the crowds and over to where the group of leaders were standing.
“Oh, ho!” He exclaimed, “What have we here? No one dancing? No one with ale in hand? The fiddle’s playing, Svetlana, join me!”
She smiled at her exuberant husband and let him spin her into the thick of the dancers.
Suddenly, Zot became aware of a prickling feeling on the back of his neck. He whirled around to see the tiny pink gnome Spy-der sneaking up on him.
“Drat.” She said, looking shamefully at her snow-coverd feet, “Element of surprise lost.”
“What did you need the element of surprise for?” Zot asked.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hot-I mean Hat-I mean Zot… yes, I covered for that well… would you mind dancing with me? Everyone else is too tall.”
“The hat frowns upon dancing.” Zot replied.
“Oh… wow.” She said, turning her wide-eyed gaze to the staghelm’s empty eye sockets, “The um, thank you anyway, Mr. Zot-hat.”
A group of reveling kobolds tried to drag Melvin into the dance but he was resistant. Ravena strode over to him with Skitter perched on the edge of her ale mug.
“I’m sorry,” Ravena said the the kobolds, “But Melvin’s true love is Miracelli.”
Miracelli suddenly appeared next to her.
“Ack! Stop doing that!” Ravena exclaimed.
“Seriously, Ravena,” Miracelli sighed, “That joke hasn’t been funny in 6 months.”
“That joke was never funny.” Melvin corrected.
“Okay, fine. I promise. I won’t make it again. Anyway, Miracelli, I just saw some interesting behavior from a Spyder. Looks like she’s consented to Kestin’s courtship request.”
“Oh god not the gnome!” Miracelli gasped mockingly.
“No, that one has eyes for Zot.” Ravena laughed. “Wouldn’t that be cute, though? Just imagine how tiny their babies would be!”
“Well good luck to her,” Miracelli replied. “He’s married to that hat.”
“But what if the hat tells him to get married?” Ravena asked.
“Ha. Lets see if it asks him to court tonight.” Miracelli laughed.
“Not sure why we need two courtship holidays in a year.” Melvin remarked.
“Well Arrowfeast is for proposals. This is for courtship.” Ravena replied.
“That’s not what I meant. I know what they’re supposed to be for. These feasts were huge in my hometown. I just don’t understand the point.”
“The point is that it makes people happy, I suppose.” Ravena replied.
“Sooo, Ravena,” the spymaster cooed, fluttering her eyelashes, “Couldn’t help but notice Jhod and Akiros over there.”
“Yup. They’re there.” Ravena replied.
“And you’re here.” Miracelli said pointedly.
“Yup. I’m here.”
“Seriously?” The blonde half-elf pulled her hood back in exasperation, as if seeing her face more clearly would drive home the point. “I thought we’d worked this out already. Aren’t you two already dating or something? This is kind of ridiculous.”
“No, what’s kind of ridiculous is that you and Melvin aren’t together.”
“Still not funny.” Melvin interjected.
“Very not funny. Also, you promised,” Miracelli reminded her.
“Your mom promised.” Ravena replied.
“You’re not even making sense anymore. That’s it, we’re walking over there.” Miracelli said.
“That’s probably good,” Ravena replied. “I need somewhere to put this mug down. Skitter says she wants to take the Test of the Starstone, which-” The witch raised the mug to eye-level and began to yell at her familiar. “No! You’re not doing it. Don’t look at me like that.” Skitter and Ravena glared at each other for a moment before Ravena plucked the spider off the rim of the ale mug and put her in her hair. Ravena put the empty mug down beside one of the kegs then turned to Miracelli. “Did it ever occur to you that I have intimacy issues?”
“Yeah, so does he. That whole killing someone you love thing’ll do that.” Miracelli replied.
“Why does that not strike me as a problem?” Ravena replied.
“Probably because your soul is owned by pure, primal Insanity. Either that or you have weird standards. Probably both.”
“Probably both.” Ravena agreed.
The two half-elves stared at Akiros from several yards away for a moment before Jhod smacked his hand on Akiros’ back and said, “I thought you were going to ask to court her? What are you waiting for? The god is on your side!”
“I’m gonna be somewhere else for a minute.” Miracelli said and then vanished.
“How does she do that?” Ravena mused.
“Do what?” Akiros asked, coming up next to her.
“Oh! Um, hi. Yeah. Hi.” Ravena stuttered. “I mean hi. I mean-” Finally, a few moments too late lucidity returned to her. “Hi, I’m glad that you came to town for Ascension Day. And Jhod too. It warms my spirit to see both of you.”
“I feel likewise.” Akiros replied, his gray eyes meeting her brown ones.
The fiddler changed tunes. She played an old waltz and many of the dancers shifted from the center of the muddy yard to the snow-covered wooden kegs or cozy doorways of nearby houses. Some stayed, drifting beautifully in the steps of the formal dance.
Ravena looked mischievously at Akiros. “Well, Mr. Chivalrous Paladin, I’m fairly certain you would have been taught a courtly dance or two.”
“I forgot-” He began to protest.
Ravena interrupted, “It’s simple. One-two-three spin. You walk forward, I walk backward. C’mon, we talk while we dance!”
With that she took his hands in hers and began to dance. He did know the steps. Ravena laughed gleefully.
“Told you so!” She grinned.
“You are… very pretty when you let yourself be happy.” Akiros said hesitantly.
Ravena caught herself and replaced the grin with her trademark look of apathy, but she couldn’t maintain it.
Akiros smiled at her attempt.
“Your hands are quite rough,” Ravena observed, “Has Jhod been working you quite hard at the Shrine?”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had soft hands. I just don’t think you’ve held them for this long before. We spin now, right?”
“Yes,” Ravena replied as Akiros spun her around. Her big black boots tripped over a pair of kobolds who were attempting to mimic the dance. She fell onto what was either the boy or girl of the pair.
“Aw, you ruin dance!” The non-crushed kobold swore.
Ravena laughed, recognizing him at once. “Gar Gar! How are you?”
“Better when you off my girlfriend!”
Ravena helped the kobold girl to her feet and apologized in Draconic.
“Oh, we remember you!” The girl said. “Where Melvin?”
“Yeah! We wanna show Melvin how good I got with heavy chain things!”
“You mean your nun-chucks? Melvin’s um…” Ravena scanned the crowd. “Well he was over there. You can’t really miss him. He’s wearing a huge fur cape.”
“Why dance? Let’s see Melvin!” The girl kobold exclaimed, scampering off in no particular direction. Gar Gar chased after her.
“Your alliance with the kobolds is most unusual,” Akiros remarked.
“It is. Really, this whole thing is most unusual. The kingdom, the people… you.”
“I suppose of the many things I’ve been called, unusual is the least of them,” He replied.
“That’s not specifically what I meant, though you are unusual. What’s more peculiar is this moment right here. We’re dancing-”
Just as Ravena said that the music stopped. The human fiddler took a bow as a half-elf with pipes and a dwarf with two upturned empty barrels and two sticks took their places beside her. The dwarf began pounding a rhythm and the fiddler and flautist picked up the beat to a wild jig. Akiros looked at Ravena dubiously but she shouted over the music, “Try to keep up!”
The dancers crowded around thick. Even Melvin joined the fun, dancing simultaneously with a dozen happy kobolds. A circle formed. Partners were spun from man to man. Miracelli lifted Zot off the ground and tossed him in the air before spinning him off into a kobold’s arms. The pink gnome stuck out her tongue at Miracelli.
“I’ll dock your pay for that.” Miracelli joked.
“You can only do that if you can find me!” The gnome shouted, vanishing into the crowd.
Miracelli took a moment to be proud of her Spyder’s knack for going undetected. As long as no one asked her full name or why she was here (a deal many of the Spyders had) the gnome would serve Stagfall.
Back in the dance, a large circle had formed with partners flowing round in opposite directions. A carpenter picked Miracelli up and swung her into the arms of Kestin. Kestin politely handed her to Ravena. Ravena bowed to her new dance partner and kissed Miracelli’s hand. As she did so, Skitter crawled out of Ravena’s hair and up the sleeve of Miracelli’s coat. Miracelli was unsure what to do as the dance carried her away from Ravena, but Skitter seemed content to sit on her shoulder.
“A bit drunk, huh?” She whispered to Skitter.
“What, drunk ‘nuthin!” Exclaimed her new dance partner, Seamus the dwarf.
“No, silly, not you. The spider.”
“Spider?!” The dwarf gasped, quickly shoving Miracelli into the nearest man’s arms.
It was Akiros, who greeted her warmly. Their hands interlocked and Skitter took the opportunity to crawl from Miracelli’s shoulder and into Akiros’ hair.
Akiros froze.
“Is this…” He asked Miracelli, pointing at his head, “A good thing or a bad thing?”
“Depends. Is she biting you?”
“No. I mean ofyesow!” Akiros grabbed at his hair and pulled Skitter out.
The urge to crush the creature played through his mind briefly, but he pushed the thought aside. Although Skitter seemed hellbent on coming between him and the woman he loved, destroying her best friend would ruin his chances. But what to do? He took a step backward, out of the dance, and regarded the scarlet spider. Skitter was held by the body, futilely swinging her legs at him. He thought for another moment and then slowly, deliberately, placed the spider on top of his head.
“Do what you will, Skitter.” He whispered, stepping forward again into the dance.
Soon, Ravena was swung back into his arms.
“Have you seen Skitter?” she asked worriedly, “I saw her on Miracelli, but now I can’t find her.”
Akiros pointed to his head. Skitter was buried in his gray-brown hair, unsure of what to do.
“Skitter!” Ravena squealed, “Do you like him?” Then, after a pause. “You don’t? Not really? What, you bit him! You little bitch. But what, you gave up? He gave up? Akiros, you didn’t mind her biting you?”
“I have a bit of a welt swelling up, but I don’t mind. She’s your familiar. I will make peace with her.”
“And why,” Ravena smiled, “is that?”
Akiros swallowed hard. “Because this night I would like to ask for the right to court you.”
“You won that right the day you saved my life. I regret it has not been official sooner.” Ravena said, wrapping her arms around him. “And now, officially, you have until Archerfest to prove yourself.”
Ravena smiled. “You have presented yourself as an honorable gentleman, despite what may have come before. But we will follow the stupid human conventions. You have until Archerfest. You know what that means.”
“I know what that means,” Akiros replied, holding Ravena tightly. “I shall not do you wrong. I only wish that Erastus would come sooner.”
Ravena smiled. “It shall come soon enough.”

Game 17, Or the Kingdom Begins

Our heroes have experienced another pile of exciting experiences! Back in Restov Ioseph gave them 5,000 gold (not each- to split evenly among them, MIRACELLI). He also gives them the command to build a kingdom and money and settlers for building said kingdom. Aforementioned settlers are to be referred to as such in conversations with them, though the group likes calling them minions when they’re not around.

Flush with cash burning a hole in their respective pockets our heroes hit town to buy some awesome gear. Unfortunately, all the awesome gear is out of their price range and that’s just the awesome gear they can see. A shopkeeper won’t even let them into the back of his store on grounds of “seriously? No way can you afford this shit.”

That night the foursome finds a quiet booth in the corner of a local pub and settle in for some serious negotiations.

“Well, guys,” Melvin starts off, “What are we going to call this place?”
“MikMiksomethingorother!” Miricelli exclaims
“I dunno,” Ravena replies, suspiciously eying her ale. “Will settlers want to live in a place named after a kobold? Also, this beer is nowhere near as good as Svetlanas”
Skitter continued to drink from the rim, undeterred.
“Well not only that,” Zot replied, “But where are we going to put the capital. I think we should put it centrally in the part of the Stolen Lands that we’ve already explored.”
“Eh, I think it would be more convenient north of that.” Ravena weighed in.
“Actually,” Melvin said, unfurling the map he had been carrying with him, “Hear me out on this. The Stag Lord’s old fort would be perfect.”
“Yeah. People love living around zombies.” Ravena replied, voice dripping sarcasm.
“Actually, the zombies seem to be a finite resource,” Miricelli interjected. “We kill them all and we’ll be good.”
“Also,” Melvin continued, “Though the fort is pretty run down there are sound parts of the structure and the rest can be salvaged for building materials. That should cut the cost of building a castle in half. Besides, it’s close to a major body of water which is good for defense and trade. “
“You know, Mel,” Ravena conceded, “I thought that was a stupid idea, but I’m convinced. Does everyone else agree?”
The group toasted to the good idea and moved onto the next issue.
“Well what do we call this city?” Miricelli asked.
Ideas ranging from combinations of our names, things involving MikMik, and It’s My City Bitch are floated. In the end Zot suggests “Stagfall” which seems like a pretty good idea, though he’s willing to compromise with “Stagfall Bitch”.

Finally, the group agrees to discuss the matter further later.

Meanwhile, Melvin’s animal training skills have increased. He trains Delilah and Severina of the Nightfall not to fear combat.

With their business in Restov finished the group travels back to what are, for the time being, the Stolen Lands. They are met with the usual warmth and enthusiasm at Oleg’s trading post. There the ask Oleg and Svetlana to take a role in the kingdom’s government. Oleg, with his smart money sense, agrees to be treasurer while Svetlana, with the solid head she has on her shoulders, agrees to be councilor.

Much to his delight, Kestin’s interminable boredom is broken by the proposal that he become the kingdom’s new General.

After their time at Oleg’s they head south to recruit Chief Stootscale to be the Marshall. He and his kobolds will patrol the woods, maintaining order and generally being awesome little lizard men.

Speak of awesome little lizard men, Gar Gar now has nun-chucks.

After that they head to the temple of Aristil to meet up with Jhod and Akiros. Akiros makes Ravena forget how words work. Meanwhile, the rest discuss with Jhod the possibility of becoming the kingdom’s high priest. He is initially hesitant, but with Akiros around to watch the temple he says he feels comfortable leaving his shrine to help the city now and again. Akiros accepts a heavier burden- that of the royal executioner. It’s a messy job but someone’s gotta do it.

With their ministers secured, our heroes head to their soon-to-be castle to deal with the zombie problem. The gnarly piles of bones are dispatched easily, giving the group a chance to explore around the area of their new home.

Along the edge of the lake they encounter a hut with creepy symbols around it. A crow tells them to bugger off but they persist. Finally they see the old BelleDame- a creepy witch about whom bedtime stories are told to simultaneously warn and traumatize impressionable children. She tells them repeatedly to go away.

“Okay,” Melvin replies, “Just introducing ourselves. If you ever need a cup of sugar or anything, we’re over that way.”

After that they see some large wolf prints and what seems to be a ruined fort on an island in the lake. They also encounter the Gutrend river. It’s sparkling clear, slow, 450 ft across and very deep.

Town building begins. The castle is completed first, followed by a number of houses and a road. Two months pass. The Archer Feast is a joyous success, lifting the spirits of the populace, but the city is hemorrhaging money. Ravena decides that her role as diplomat is less important than the money they could gain from her becoming the city’s magister and crafting high-end items.

Things are peaceful in the city, but one night there is a reminder that the threat of bandits has not vanished. A couple of guys with Stag Lord medallions are spotted within the city. They steal 3 build points. Bastards.


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