Nyonia - Pauci Fortis

Arrival in Nemora Ater
Khashi's Journal

I couldn’t wait to get off of that gods forsaken barge.

I didn’t know what I was getting in to when I agreed to sign on as a laborer for this barge. My only previous experience with a boat had been the ship that brought me over from the Empire of Oran. Once I got used to the motion and got past the sea sickness, the journey on the ship wasn’t so bad. At least I had lots of room to roam about with plenty of cool, fresh ocean air and I never had to go anywhere near the actual water. I enjoyed climbing to the upper reaches of the masts and just watching the horizon. At night I would sleep on the open deck, under the stars. All in all, not a bad journey.

Foolish me, thinking that this barge would be similar. Instead it was a hell that could have only been dreamed up by Morgath himself. The barge plodded along down that river at a maddeningly slow pace. It was hot and muggy and at times there were so many mosquitoes that it looked like we were passing through a fog bank. I lost count of the number of times that we had to get in to the river to push and pull that stupid barge when it would get hung up on a particularly shallow spot. (And there is NOTHING that makes a Koori grumpier than having to get in to dirty, nasty, muddy water). It seems that our merchant Obadiah Milinthus had loaded down that barge with so much cargo that it was riding lower in the water than it should. He is lucky that it didn’t sink and dump his precious cargo in to those dirty, nasty waters! It would have served him right!

And the smell… gods above, I can’t describe the smell. We were surrounded by water and yet those disgusting humans couldn’t be bothered to bathe even ONCE. Even as dirty as that river water was, it had to have been better than wallowing in their own filth! I don’t think I will ever get the stink of those humans out of my nostrils!

I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at Nemora Ater. It was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. Really nothing more than a small farming village in the middle of nowhere. The others that were accompanying the barge fled for land almost as quickly as I did. I guess that they were as sick of the barge as I was. I considered heading to the inn with some of the others, but decided that I needed some time alone in the woods to regain my center first. I saw Ulgaden Chinbat walking away, and briefly considered asking him to join me. It wasn’t often that I encountered a fellow Koori this far from home. But then I remembered how stand-offish he had been during our weeks on the barge and decided that I would rather be alone.

It didn’t take me long to find a cool clean stream, and for the first time in weeks I felt clean again. The woods were surprisingly full of game, and it took me almost no time to track and kill a deer. I decided to eat my fill of raw meat – a pleasure that I don’t often get to indulge now that I am in the land of man. The sight of somebody eating their meat raw (the way Larani intended) seems to offend most men (and especially their women). So I have learned to eat most of my meals lightly cooked.

I quickly field dressed the deer and took the remaining meat back in to town with me. As I walked in to town, I asked one of the townsfolk to direct me towards the inn. He was surprisingly nonchalant about encountering a Koori. I have grown used to being stared at, and sometimes even feared by men who are not familiar with Koori. This man informed me that one of the inns in town even had a Koori for a cook. I didn’t even have to think twice about which inn to choose.

When I got to the inn, I circled around back to the kitchen, where I spoke to Tosudan, the Koori cook. He was a bit simple, but friendly. He gladly agreed to store my deer meat in the inn’s pantry, and even offered to cook it for me in the Koori style. In following Koori customs, I offered to share the fresh deer meat with him.

I spent the night at the inn. They offered a surprisingly good ale, better than any I have had since leaving home. Apparently it appealed to Ulgadan as well. He drank himself in to an embarrassing drunken mess, and seemed to be upset about something. I briefly thought about going over to see if he was alright, but then one of his fellow guards from the barge joined him and let Ulgadan cry on his shoulder.

The next morning, I took pity on my poor hungover fellow Koori and asked Tosudan to bring Ulgadan some fresh deer meat for his breakfast. That seemed to cheer Ulgadan up and for the first time he actually seemed to be a bit friendlier. But for some reason, Maximus, the fellow guard that had been consoling Ulgadan the night before seemed to be keeping his distance from him this morning. They almost seemed to be uncomfortable in each other’s presence. It wasn’t any of my business what occurred between the two of them after I went to bed, so I didn’t ask. After breakfast, Ulgadan, Maximus Decimus Meridius and I decided to bond as warriors do – with blood, sweat and violence. We found the town guard’s training area and did some sparring. A young Ainu girl (Akatsuki) with her own katana and wakizashi was watching us with interest but declined our invite to join us.

About then, things took a turn for the worse.. and the weird. Obidiah, the merchant who had hired us to work on the barge got himself in to a bit of trouble. The whole thing was confusing, but apparently Obidia had caught his wife in a compromising position with Varas, one of the local merchants (and the leader of the town council). Obidia almost killed Varas, and even injured his own wife. Even more confusing, Varas was an old friend of the couple… and apparently gay. Something about the whole deal seemed suspicious, and myself and a few of the other people who had worked for Obidia on the barge started to nose around to see if we could figure out what was up. We quickly figured out that the wine that they had been drinking had been drugged with something, and there was an odd candle giving off an intoxicating odor.

There was a young, dark skinned girl named Morwenna amongst the townspeople. I don’t think she was a native, but I am not sure how she came about being here. Anyway, she has a strange form of magic that I have only heard stories of. She used a small doll to summon a creature that healed Varas and saved his life. She then summoned a spirit wolf that told her what kind of magic was used on Obidiah, his wife and Varas. The wine had been spiked with a love potion, and the candle was some kind of enchantment to incite rage. Varas was still unconscious and Obidiah’s wife was too distraught to be of much help.

We tried to investigate more around town but weren’t able to find out much more. We did notice that we were being watched as we moved about town, and it appeared that a Wangai named Muin seemed to be in the middle of all of this far too much to be coincidence.

The next day, Varas finally regained consciousness. His first words were to tell us to rush to the warehouse where he had been attacked, but didn’t want to tell us why. When we got there, we discovered that the guards who had been posted had been poisoned. We checked inside the warehouse and discovered a hidden room that had been opened and ransacked of it’s contents. When we reported this back to Varas, he informed us that the hidden room had been where the funds of the entire town had been stored. We quickly figured out that it had been Muin who had “robbed the bank”, and that the altercation between Varas and Obidia had been setup as a distraction so that Muin could gain access to the warehouse. Varas was distraught – the loss of the entire town’s funds would destroy the town.

We looked around town for Muin but he was long gone. We thought that he had left by the same barge that brought us to town, but that turned out to be a dead end. Morwenna remembered seeing the tracks of a large group of men leaving the trail outside of town. A couple of us went to check it out and confirmed that it was the trail of Muin. We gathered the rest of our ragtag group and set out on the trail after Muin.

View
Hunting a Wangai
Khashi's Journal

By the Gods, I swear since I left the Empire of Oran, I have wasted more than half of my life waiting on men. Why must it always take them so long to do ANYTHING? Are they NEVER in a hurry?

When we decided to set out to track down Muin and bring him to justice, I expected us to grab our gear and be on the trail in a matter of minutes. I should have known better. They each had to pack enough gear to be on the road for a month. And they each had to bring a HORSE!! Now normally, I would be in favor of anything that would help them to travel a little faster, but they loaded down those animals with so much gear that they traveled slower than if they had walked. And they brought TENTS!! Can you believe that?? TENTS!!! Do they not understand the joy of sleeping under the open stars? I’m surprised that they didn’t want to bring servants!

We let Varas and Obadiah Milinthus know that we were going after Muin, and we FINALLY set out on the trail after him. Of course, by now he had an extra half day’s lead on us. Ulgaden Chinbat and myself could have caught Muin in under a day, but traveling at the speed of the rest of the group, it would take us several days to overtake Muin and his group.

For the most part the trail was pretty easy to follow. Muin had a large number of men with him, so he left a pretty obvious trail. We passed by a farm where a young human was selling some sort of fruit punch. It turned out to be half rotted. I spit mine out, but some of the others insisted on drinking it. They paid for it later when they puked their guts up on the side of the road. But at least the human boy confirmed that we were only a day behind Muin’s group.

Why do the humans insist on eating those disgusting dried rations when the woods are teeming with game? While we traveled, I kept an eye out for fresh meat. While I was securing us a goat, the rest of the party encountered a group of wood cutters. While traveling back to rejoin the party, I found the remains of the wood cutters and signs of 5 large humanoids. Morwenna tells me that they are ogres. I wanted to venture in to the woods and eliminate this threat, but the others convinced me that nothing could be done to save the wood cutters, and that the ogres would pose a deadly threat to our group. Reluctantly I agreed to continue on after Muin.

Muin must have figured out that we were getting close. He tried to mark a false trail, making it look like they had left the main trail and ventured off deeper in to the woods. It slowed us down for a few minutes as we followed the false trail, but we quickly figured out Muin’s ruse and returned to the true trail.

We decided to hang back behind Muin until nightfall so that we would have the advantage of darkness when we attacked. But at mid-day, we heard shouts and the sounds of battle ahead. I ran ahead to scout out the situation and saw a large number of bandits assaulting a merchant’s wagon. We weren’t sure at that point if the bandits were Muin’s men, but we couldn’t allow these innocent travelers to be slaughtered so we quickly charged to their rescue.

When we arrived on the scene, the bandits had subdued the merchants and their guards. There were nearly 20 men surrounding the wagon. Standing in the wagon was one of the largest humans I have seen in my time in the land of men. Maximus told me later that he was one of the men from Hammeh, the Realm of Frost. I bet he was as miserable in this accursed swamp land as I was! Back behind the wagon was a man who stunk of evil Olduwan magic. He had a contingency of bandits guarding him.

This was the first time that I had seen my compatriots in battle. I had briefly sparred with Ulgaden Chinbat and Maximus Decimus Meridius, but you never truly get a feel for your companions abilities until you see them in a real battle.

Things got confusing, so I am going to do my best to recall everything that happened.

Morwenna threw down one of her dolls, and a large gruesome humanoid appeared. She called it an ogre, like what had killed the wood cutters back on the trail. I lost sight of what happened to Morwenna after that. She stepped in to a glimmering portal and that was the last I saw of her until after the battle had ended. After being struck by a crossbow bolt from one of the bandits, the ogre let out a horrendous roar and charged the bandit, nearly cutting him in half with his giant sword.

Ulgaden Chinbat drew his crystal swords and charged a group of bandits that were attempting to flank us in the woods. I saw the flash of his blades in the sun and saw the bandits before him fall.

Maximus Decimus Meridius and Akatsuki charged in to combat on Maximus’ horse. Maximus dropped Akatsuki in front of a couple of bandits and her blades became a blur as she cut down the bandits in front of her. Maximus continued his charge, taking the battle to the large man in the wagon. He struck him with several mighty blows, but the large man would not fall.

I moved up to take on one of the bandits, when I became aware of something MUCH more important. There had always been something about Maximus that didn’t seem right, and it finally dawned on me why his presence unnerved me so. I realized that during his service in the war, he had slaughtered many innocent women and children!!! Suddenly, Muin, the stolen silver, the bandits… none of that mattered. I could not allow Maximus to live another day!! I would put an end to his days of murdering the innocent!!

I leaped on to the wagon, and swung to remove Maximus’ head from his shoulders. For a second, I thought that my crystal club had bounced harmlessly off of his shield, but then I saw Maximus fall from his horse to the ground, bleeding from a mortal wound. I guess my blow had been true after all! Not another innocent life would fall to his foul hand!

From here, things got a bit confusing. Somehow, there was a strange man playing a flute. Maximus’ horse charged towards the Olduwan witch, leaping over the bandits guarding him. The Olduwan fell to the ground as if struck by several mighty blows… and it was as if I awoke from a dream. I realized that the Olduwan had messed with my head, telling me lies about Maximus. Luckily Maximus’ apparent death had been another trick of the Olduwan, and I had not killed him as I thought. By the Gods, I hate mind twisting magic!

Several of the bandits had fled, but we secured the rest of them, along with the Hammeh man. The Olduwan witch was dead, cut nearly in half. His strange winged lizard started to feed on his flesh. I moved to eliminate it, but the others stopped me, telling me that it would return to the wild after it had fed on it’s former master.

There was no sign of Muin. He had apparently fled during the fight. We were able to recover the stolen silver however. It had been too heavy for Muin to carry and he had had to leave it behind.

The merchants were very grateful for our assistance and rewarded us with some silver. There was a guard’s tower at the nearby river crossing, so we accompanied the merchants and the captured bandits to the tower. The guards at the tower took the bandits in to custody, and based on the word of the merchents, had them shipped off to labor in the mines. We took Hallisin, the Hammeh warrior, back to Nemora Ater with us so that he could answer to Varas for his crimes.

Unfortunately, during our journey back, Hallisin was able to overcome Morwenna on her watch, and escaped. We discussed chasing after him, but decided that a lone man in the woods, especially such a stranger to these lands, would not survive long.

We returned to Nemora Ater and returned the silver to Varas. He was very grateful and rewarded us with more silver, and the use of a deserted house in the village for us to stay in. With our testimony as to the Olduwan witch, Obadiah Milinthus’s name was cleared and he was released.

I am not sure where my travels will take me from here. While we were dealing with this problem, the barge that I arrived on had continued on it’s journey. I can’t say that I am sad to have missed its departure. I would be happy living the rest of my days without ever setting another paw on a barge. For now I am stranded here in Nemora Ater. But that is a problem for tomorrow. I just remembered that the inn serves that wonderful ale.

View
Love Potion and a Magical Candle

As part of a cerdded o gwmpas a journal must be kept. The journal will be used as a reference for the country investigated in case the shaman who went has forgotten part of what happened or has died. It had started out a normal week. The farm family and I had gone into village to sell vegetables, chickens and some eggs. A caravan had recently arrived by barge and I saw the Ainu again, but that was normal. I went to my usually haunt for a meal and then went back to the farm with the family.

The next day they didn’t need any help, so I went out to the woods. I enjoy being in the woods. I feel closer to the spirits out there. While I was walking along the trail I found some human tracks that came out of the forest and on to the path. There were also tracks from the path into the forest. I was thinking about investigating the tracks when I heard the bell start to ring. The family only rings the bell when there is an emergency. I get back to the farm and there are some guards from the village. One of them says, “We hear you can heal.” I say that the statement is true. Another guard says that someone has been seriously injured in the village.

We went down to the village. We went to a spice store. Outside the store there was a crowd, in the store there were some guards, some of the people from the caravan that just arrived (including two Koori and a human), the merchant (Obadiah) who ran said caravan, his wife and the leader of the village council, Varas. Varas was lying on the ground with the village doctor looking at him. The doctor looked at me and said. “What can you do?”

I replied, “More than you, probably.” The doctor looked slightly offended, but that was of minor concern. I put one of my kachinas down. All of a sudden a figure appeared with waist length black hair and black beard that come down to mid chest. It was dressed in a white cape that only exposed its right hand. In the right hand it held an evergreen bough and on the cape there were rainclouds. I heard gasps as people realized that I am a shaman. The figure reached a hand down to Varas and touched his wound. The wound healed and then the doctor really looked offended and put off. One of the Koori was standing near the merchant’s wife.

He said, “Miss this woman is injured too. Could you heal her as well?” He seemed really concern about the wife and the merchant’s children. I am not sure whether there is a common trait of Koori, but the other Koori didn’t seem to concern about the wife and children. I looked at the wound and it didn’t seem too fatal, I told the Koori this. He didn’t seem too happy, but accepted it.

The Koori then started talking to the second in charge that something was off about the wine and candle. He thought it could be magic. Hearing this I walked over and said that only the Oldwun used candles for their magic. I then took out another kachina, a spirit wolf. This one could follow magic I used it to see where the person who carried these items went. I dismissed the wolf when the path went out of the village, to the south. I went back to some of the places the wolf went. When I asked the owners if any of their customers had been acting strange they said that a Wangai, Muin, had been. I then went to the herbalist, because one of the Wangai’s habits is smoking a pipe. The herbalist was from my land. When she asked why I was asking about Muin I told her that I was studying his culture.

The next day I went to the inn that I knew had a Koori cook. It seemed like the best place to look for Koori’s who were new to village. The Koori seemed to know Obadiah personally and they had come on the barge with him. It would make sense that they had done some investigation on their own. I wanted to pool our information to see if we had a culprit. Especially since Oldwun would use candles as foci and the Oldwun had spells to control people’s feelings. When I walked into the inn I found the two Koori sitting with the human that had been in the spice shop. I introduce myself. The human introduces himself as Maximus Decimus Meridius. The Koori who wanted me to heal the merchant’s wife introduces himself as Khashi. The other Koori was silent.

“And your name is?” I asked him.

“What’s it to you?” He asked in reply.

“Something to call you besides other Koori.” I said.

Ulgaden.” He said.

I was about to ask what they had found when the Ainu I had seen around village came in so the introductions began; only she ignored Ulgaden when he didn’t give her his name. Her name was Akatsuki. When we piled our information we deduced that Muin had planted the wine and candle. In the wine was a love potion and the candle was a foci for an Oldwun mage to make Obadiah attack Varas. We learned that Varas was awake. When we got there he insisted that someone went to his shop. I however had one very important question: Who lit the candle? Varas said, “What candle.” Bloody Wangai and curse their ability to sneak around without being seen. Maximus and Khashi came with me to the store. The guards that had been posted were poisoned. We look around and went into Varas’s office. There we discovered that there was a secret chamber behind a cupboard. There was an overwhelming smell of smoke from a pipe.

We went back to Varas and I asked, “What was behind the cupboard?”

Varas and the second in charge looked at each other. It turns out that behind the cupboard was the village bank. Many of the wealthier residents of the village would leave money in the bank for safe keeping. The sum is around 3,000 silver and if not recovered could destroy the village. I mentioned the tracks I had seen north of the village. It turned out that when Khashi and I looked at them and the group followed the trail, Muin had been working with some other people to steal the money. We now had the trail and we will be setting out soon.

View
Who is the Gargun master?
Khashi's Journal

After our adventure chasing down that stupid Wangai, getting back the town’s money and clearing Obadiah‘s name, I spent a couple of days just wandering around Nemora Ater. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. While we were off traipsing through the woods, the barge that I rode in to town had left without me. Not that I was especially heartbroken over this fact. I would be perfectly happy never riding another barge for the rest of my days. But it DID leave me with the dilemma of what I was going to do next.

Just as I was about to head out of town on my own, I was approached by Ulgaden. He brought word from Obadiah of a job offer. Obadiah was worried that there might be more trouble ahead and was looking for additional guards for his caravan. I didn’t have any better options, and the thought of traveling with my new friends was certainly more appealing than taking my chances on my own.

If I had known how painfully slow this caravan was going to travel, I might have given Obadiah a different answer. I had thought that the barge was slow… that was nothing compared to the snail’s pace that an ox pulling a wagon travels! There were days that we stopped and I could look back and still see last night’s campsite.

The days on the road were long and boring. We encountered a camp of goat-men that seemed to be peaceful. Obidiah traded them some trinkets for permission to travel through their lands. We also found an place on the path where strange mirrors had been placed on both sides of the trail. After some inspection, it did not appear to be anything dangerous. I took a matched pair of mirrors for later inspection. Just to be safe, I wrapped them securely and placed them deep within my pack. If any sorcerer is to try and use them to scry on me, all that they will see is darkness.

We stopped for a night at the small village that had grown up around one of the guard towers along the trail. The soldiers there warned us that many of the farms in the direction that we were headed had been raided, and all of the people taken away. They had increased the patrols of soldiers, but have not been able to catch any sign of whoever is behind these raids.

As we neared the first destination along Obidiah’s route, we came across the camp of one of the patrols of soldiers. The camp was deserted, and there were signs of a fight, and signs that the soldiers had been drug off by their attackers. I followed their trail in to the woods for a while, long enough to determine their likely destination – there was a “sparkling” in the distance of the woods that they were headed towards.

When we reached Parvus Termeric Arbustum, I immediately went to the soldier’s barracks to report the missing soldiers. The first man I spoke to was rather rude and didn’t seem to really care that his soldiers were missing. But a short time later, his superior (Captain Capolius) sought me out at the inn. I repeated my story, and he seemed concerned but didn’t seem to be too interested in rescuing his men.

We were later summoned by Captain Capolius, and he asked us to go in to the woods to try and determine who or what had taken his soldiers. It seems that he was short handed and couldn’t spare the men to do the job themselves. After a brief discussion, my friends and I agreed to go and see what we could learn.

We ventured in to the woods and came across a small hunting party of humanoid creatures that I had never seen before. Morwenna informed us that they were Garguns. This news seemed to cause great concern to Maximus. He told us tales of the Gargun sending forth great swarms of soldiers that would decimate anything in their path. We decided to ambush the hunting party to try and learn what we could from them.

The battle was short and vicious. We surprised the Gargun and cut them down before they had a chance to defend themselves. One of them attempted to flee, and Morwenna summoned a nasty swarm of bees and wasps upon the poor creature. It ran in to the woods, with the swarm trailing him. She went after him and brought back his body… it looked as though he died a very painful death.

Three of the Gargun were still alive, so we split them up so that we could question them. Maximus, Ulgadan and I each interrogated one. Between us, we learned that they had about 50 Gargun in their camp, and that they were being led by an Easterling “master” called Heldir. They were kidnapping the farmers and soldiers under the orders of Heldir. They told us that Heldir would take the men in to his “glass house” where he would do something to “change” them. The Gargun weren’t exactly sure what he was changing them in to.. only that no men ever came back out of the glass house alive.

We decided to take the captured Gargun back to Captain Capolius as evidence of the Gargun threat, and so that he could question them further. Plus, I had told the Gargun that I questioned that I would not kill him. I would not go back on my word…but I also could not set him free to warn his fellow Gargun.

View
Scouting the Gargun outpost
Khashi's Journal

We returned to Parvus Turmeric Arbustum with our Gargun prisoners. Captain Capolius didn’t seem to be very interested in interrogating them. He assumed that we had already gotten any useful information out of them. I think he assumed that we are more skilled at interrogation than we are. We told him everything that we had learned and told him to do whatever he wanted with the Gargun prisoners. We then headed back in to the wilderness to see what else we could learn. Captain Capolius said that he was going to send out word of the Gargun problem and ask for the nearby towers to send additional soldiers. He also insisted on sending 10 of his own soldiers with us to help. I would have rather that we continued on with just our own group, but Maximus insisted that we would need the help. I was sure that they would just slow us down.

We also discovered that Obadiah had sold his business to a relative of his, which means that we have a new boss. The new boss is Junia, an older Easterling woman with a bit of an attitude. For some reason she decided to accompany us in to the wilderness. I fear that we may all be unemployed soon if the Gargun are as tough as Maximus seems to think that they are. A battle is no place for a business woman, and I am not sure that we can protect her if things turn ugly.

We headed back to the spot where we had ambushed the Gargun hunting party. I was curious as to whether the Gargun had discovered that their hunting party had been taken. We found signs of another hunting party that had discovered the remains of their fellow Gargun, and had immediately headed back towards the Gargun camp. However it appeared that the bodies had been fed on by the local wildlife, which will hopefully mask the true cause of their deaths.

Ulgaden and I scouted on ahead while the others trailed behind just out of sight, with our 10 soldiers bringing up the rear. We encountered another Gargun hunting/scouting party and easily dispatched them. By my count, this brings their remaining numbers down to only 40 Gargun. We had a bit of a disagreement among our group as to whether we should kill any Gargun that we encounter, and reduce their numbers… or if we should try to avoid any altercations and hide our presence as long as possible. Ulgaden and I were of the opinion that we should cut their numbers at every opportunity. Maximus was afraid that if the Gargun became aware of us, they would hunt us in force and we would be overwhelmed. He wanted to wait for the arrival of the 30 soldiers that Captain Capolius promised to send. Ulgaden and I were underwhelmed by that idea. We were in agreement that our party could handle this problem on our own.

We encountered our first guard post as we got closer to the Gargun camp. Ulgaden and I positioned ourselves in the trees above them and laid in wait until the rest of the group came within sight. We then dropped down on the 3 Gargun guards and easily cut them down. Maximus was furious at us for killing the guards. We simply pointed out that the Gargun numbers were down to only 37 remaining. At this rate, there won’t be any Gargun left to defend Heldir!! Important note, it appears that Junia isn’t as helpless as she appeared in town. She at least knows a few defensive spells. Morwenna also pulled out a new magic doll – this one was an ogre that could shoot a bow. There is much more to this young woman than it appears at first.

We finally reached the Gargun camp. It was enclosed by a wall of thorns, and contained some fields and pens of pigs. Who would have suspected that Gargun were farmers?!? We also saw the large stone building with the glass dome that we suspected was where we would find Heldir and the people that he had kidnapped.

We scouted around the camp and saw that there was a cliff overlooking the camp where we could get a better view. While climbing up there, I was spotted by a Gargun scout. However, before he could react, he was riddled with arrows and darts from my companions. I swung up on to the cliff to finish him off. By my count, the Gargun are down to 36!

From the top of the cliff, we were able to get a better view over the camp. We were also able to see in to the glass dome. There was some kind of giant plant creature in there… and several of the captured men strung up, covered in some kind of fungus. It looked like the plant creature was feeding on them or something. We need to rescue those people… hopefully that fungus growing on them can be cured.

View
Destruction of the Gargun outpost
Khashi's Journal

We spent some time on the cliff overlooking the gargun outpost, watching the camp and learning as much as we could about them. One thing we quickly learned was that there were MANY more gargun in the camp than the gargun we had questioned had told us. It was possible that they deliberately lied to us, but it was more likely that the stupid creatures just couldn’t count. Ulgadent and I were still confident that we could take the additional gargun, but Maximus was concerned that we would be overrun and insisted that we be more cautious.

We worked out a simple plan. Morwenna transformed herself in to a tiny bird and flew back to our original camp to gather the soldiers that Captain Capolius had sent with us. I ran far to the northeast of the outpost and lit several large signal fires, to draw as many of the gargun away from their outpost as we could. Then I circled back around to meet with the rest of our group on the cliff.

We tried to sneak in to the outpost through their back door, but were spotted as we entered the hidden hole in the wall of thorns. It worked out though, as we quickly cut down the handful of gargun that came to stop us. We cleared the outlying area of gargun without too much trouble, leaving only the large stone building with the glass dome.

Morwenna sent her ogre through the front door first, which was a good thing as there were a half a dozen gargun waiting inside to ambush us. Once we discovered their presence, it was a simple matter for us to eliminate them. We quickly worked our way through the building, finding most of it empty.

We did find where some of the captured people were being kept. Most of them were injured but none were in immediate danger. We also found several women who had barricaded themselves in the kitchen. We told them to stay where it was safe, while we located Heldir and eliminated him. We promised them that when it was safe, we would return them to their families. We also discovered quite a few books and herbs that Junia told us were valuable. We told her that we would help her gather them before we left.

We had cleared all areas of the building except for the area directly beneath the glass dome. We had yet to encounter Heldir and expected him to be in this final room. Instead we found two large tree creatures that seemed to be feeding on the infected prisoners that were strung up along the walls. The walking trees turned out to be more bark than bite, and we quickly cut them down. There was still no sign of Heldir.

We used the bodies of the trees as ladders to climb up and bring down the sick people that had been strung up. Unfortunately, all but one of them were too far gone with the sickness that had been inflicted upon them. We also found a tunnel that Heldir had escaped through. We tried to follow him, but he had used his foul magic to hide his trail.

Before leaving the outpost, we searched it for signs of the queen and her nest. We discovered that the nest had been underneath the first building that we had burned during our initial battle, and that the queen and the eggs had perished in the fire.

We gathered up all of the people who had been captured by the gargun and returned them to town. Captain Capolius said he would send his soldiers to wipe out the handful of gargun that we had left alive.

View
I Choose Blue
Khashi's Journal

We stayed in Parvus Turmeric Arbustum for a few more days after we returned the people that had been captured by the gargun. The towns people treated us like heroes, and spent several days celebrating. But Junia had a schedule to keep, so the caravan set back out on the road towards our next destination. We learned that we would be arriving there just as an annual celebration would be occurring.

We had several fairly uneventful days on the road before we reached the next town. Turmeric Arbustum was a larger village than any of the others we had visited so far in these lands. When we reached the town, we quickly noticed that the town was divided amongst two factions. Most of the houses and businesses were flying banners of either red or blue. The town was overrun with seedy looking characters, most of whom were also wearing some type of red or blue markings. We received some rather ominous warnings about the town having “two bosses”.

We decided to look around a bit before we committed to where we would be staying. Junia found a neutral spot outside of town to store the caravan wagons. Ulgaden and I did a quick scouting of the three inns that we had to choose from. The first inn was flying the colors of red, and we received some rather hostile looks and comments from scum who were hanging around it. The second inn was flying the colors of blue, and the men around it didn’t look any more friendly. The third inn seemed to be neutral, so we claimed the few remaining rooms that were available.

Junia conducted her business with representatives from both the Red and Blue factions. I did my best to keep an eye on her, just in case any trouble broke out. I figured that it was as much my duty to guard HER as it was her caravan. She also found a lead on where to sell the rare herbs that we had picked up in Heldir’s lair.

The next day, Junia and Morwenna headed out of town to meet with the buyers for the herbs. We offered to accompany them, but they insisted that they would be perfectly safe. So Maximus, Ulgaden and I decided to check out the local celebration and see about participating in some of the competitions.

We expected the competitions to be in good fun, but they very quickly turned deadly serious.

Ulgaden entered the combat competition, and even before he faced his first opponent, he encountered somebody that he had a past connection to. One of the other men in the competition was Kelus Riga, who was the son of the patriarch of the Red gang. Kelus was also the reigning champion, undefeated for many years. But the thing that drew our attention was his hat – Kelus was wearing a hat with a band made from the skin of a Koori. The sight angered me, but I could tell that Ulgaden was filled with a rage unlike any I had ever seen in him before. Ulgaden challenged Kelus, wagering his crystal blades against Kelus’ hat. It was a tough fight, but Ulgaden managed to defeat Kelus and claimed the hat as his prize. He had to be reminded that this was a non-lethal fight or he would have killed Kelus.

It was only after the fight was over that Ulgaden told me his story. That Kelus was one of the men who had murdered his mate, and was wearing her skin as a trophy. My answer to Ulgaden was simple – “When are we going to kill him?” We spoke in Koori to prevent anybody from overhearing us, and made our plans that we would not leave town without making Kelus pay for his crimes with his life. Maximus could tell that we were planning something, and cautioned us several times that we should not make trouble in the town – that it would hinder Junia’s future business.

I was surprised to hear a familiar voice calling out my name. I turned to see my brother Surtak on the other side of the combat field. Of course he was wearing red and wielding the crystal sword of our grandfather. He called me a coward and bragged to his followers that he would kill me. He ordered the combat field to be cleared and challenged me to meet him. Filled with rage, of course I accepted.

I turned to one of the Blue gang members behind me and asked to borrow his blue scarf. I tied it around my arm. I had chosen my side. If my brother had aligned himself with the Red, then I would fight on the side of the Blue. Before I stepped on to the battle field, I turned to Ulgaden and Maximus and told them “No matter what happens to ME, that Koori MUST die”. They didn’t understand why, but they agreed.

Despite my rage, I knew that I had to be cautious and fight smart. Surtak was a powerful, dangerous Koori and one of the best fighters that I had ever seen. He could very easily kill me with a single blow from our grandfather’s sword. My only advantage was that he was overconfident and still viewed me as the little brother that was no challenge to him. I would prove to him that I had grown up.

I allowed him to make the first strike. As expected, it was a powerful overhead strike that would have cut me in half if it had landed. But I anticipated it, and easily knocked it aside with my batons. This also left Surtak exposed, and I quickly struck him twice with the tip of my batons – once in the kidneys and once in the throat. He wasn’t expecting such a furious attack, and they left him surprised and stunned. Gasping and clutching at his throat, he dropped to his knees, and then fell on his face. I had gotten lucky, and was not about to give him a chance to recover.

I picked up our grandfather’s sword with my tail and flipped it back to Maximus and asked him to guard it for me. I then turned to Surtak with my claws bared. I intended to end his miserable life and make him pay for everything that he had done. A wall of his Red companions surged forward towards me. I looked behind me and saw that an equal number of men in Blue was stepping forward to face them. Although they didn’t yet know me, at this moment in time, I was the Blue’s chosen champion.

I raised my claw, ready to rip out Surtak’s throat. His eyes fluttered open and he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He told me that one of my cubs was still alive, that he had stolen my youngest, rather than kill him. He told me that if I killed him, that the cub would die. I hesitated, unsure of whether I should believe him… but there was too much at risk. I couldn’t take the chance.

With a final roar of rage, I used my claw to slice open his cheek… a mark to remind him of our encounter. In exchange for his life, I made him promise to return my cub to me. I released him, and surrounded by his men, he slunk away in defeat.

I knew that I had gotten lucky and caught him off guard this time. The next time we fight, he will be prepared and will not take me so lightly. I may not survive the next encounter, but I swear that one way or another, my brother will die.

View
Day 36
Ravinia's Journal

It has been thirty-six days since I received the first letter. Now I have found the fifth, and heard that my father and brother may both be alive. This still leaves me even more mysteries: why did they leave, if they left willingly, and why did they stay away? Collecting creatures for a circus, as that storyteller said? I admit the thought angers me, but I know too much of the sorts of magic that can change a person to be willing to blame them yet. I will discover the root of all of this.

I have signed on to guard a caravan. It is strange finding myself a sword-for-hire, but they will pay and cover my travel expenses, and I must be practical. There is one of the cat people here, and I find that I am very wary of him. I have heard of their hair-trigger tempers and volatile natures, and do not intend to let any of his kind surprise me.

I must figure out what this map and these riddles mean. I know I will, given enough time to think on them.

View
Following the Trail

Ahh…to be on a horse again. If only it were on the plains of my homeland, instead of through the forest, but I have many cultures to study. Besides Obidiah and his family (the culture I originally chose to study), I have two Koori and a Maurya to study as well.
A note on the Koori, they seem especially restless almost like they wish they were going faster. Haven’t they learned from their travels that humans tend to be slower than Koori and someone from the army (oh I did my research before I left) can’t travel fast because their horses are not designed for that and they carry so much stuff.
The trail isn’t too hard to follow, I mean how can they hide the trail of twenty people carrying 3,000 silver? It was good to interact with the natives out of a town setting. I have some good questions to ask. For example, is it custom to offer bad fruit juices on the side of the road to travelers? The boy selling the juices did say we were about a day behind and they had taken a lot of juice with them. This was evident by a huge barrel being smashed a little ways down the road. I guess they found out the juice wasn’t so good.
After Khashi does a little scouting ahead he comes back with word that a party of humans had been killed by huge hominoids. When the rest of us arrived at the scene I informed the group that ogres had attacked the party. Khashi wanted to try and rescue them, but I informed him that the humans were probably dead and we could get lost or worse killed as well. Khashi seems concerned with helping the innocent. I have determined from my study of Ulgaden, that this is not a Koori trait, but seems that caring for innocents is more to do with who Khashi is as a person than as a natural trait.
To throw us off Muin, or someone in his group, created a false trail. We followed it for a while, but we eventually got back on the right trail. It put us a little behind, but we still were making significant progress.
We were planning on ambushing Muin and his men, but when heard the sounds of combat ahead, we knew we could no longer wait. We charged into battle, or Maximus and Atasuki did on Maximus’ horse. Ulgaden and Kashi began to engage opponents on foot. I summoned my Nataska and then spirit walked away. I was not getting anywhere close to combat. I began to spirit walk in a wide circle, doing my best to avoid any guards. When I felt safe enough to spirit walk closer to the battle I saw Khashi attacking Maximus. Now that was not what I expected. When I looked around I saw the Oldwun Mage. The man I had been looking for. He most have created a spell to make Kashi turn against Maximus. I set up my Kokopelli to create the illusion thatMaximus was dying. That way the two of them can finish doing more important things, like dealing with the mage. Maximus on his horse still, charges over the wall of guards and attacks the mage killing him in one blow. The guards were either injured, dead or have run away thanks to my Nataska, Ulgaden, Kashi and Atasuki. Maximus did attack some of the guards before the whole mishap with Maximus and Kashi.
Since the mage was dead, his familiar began to eat him. The others made a move to kill it, but I told them not to since after it had its fill of its former master’s flesh it would leave and return to the wild. A little down the trail we found the money all scattered around. We collected as much as we could. We found no sign of Muin, but that was to be expected. We took all the guards that were still alive with us to the nearest guard post. At the guard post we left all the guards except for the guard that was from the Realm of Frost and seemed to be second in charge. On the way back to Nemora Ater, (On my watch, no less. A thousand curses to who ever gave this man both strength and wits, people who are evil should only have one of those.) the guard attack me and ran away. Most likely the man would get killed by something that lived in the woods, or would get lost and die in the woods. We returned to Nemora Ater and gave the money back. The people were so thankful and also a little surprised to see us. I guess people don’t keep their promises around here. Strange.
I did not mention that I had summoned the Kokopelli, or that I had sprit walked. I don’t know how the rest of the party would react. They seemed okay with me summoning Angak and Kweo, but those were helpful where as these might make them afraid of me.

View
Putting Turmeric Arbustum behind us
Khashi's Journal

It has been many weeks since I have updated my journal. The things that I have learned have turned my life upside down and I needed some time to process everything. I thought that I was alone in this world, that my entire family was gone forever. But now I know that this is not true. Dalan, my youngest son, is still alive.

After I defeated my brother, Ulgaden and I made a pact. We would not leave town without killing Kelus Riga. As much as I wanted to add the death of my brother to this promise, until I knew the truth about my son, I had to let him live.

There were some changes made to our little band of adventurers. It was decided that Obadiah would go on ahead with the caravan, and that Maximus would accompany him. The rest of us would stay behind to protect Junia, taking a longer side journey to pick up more cargo, and meet up with the rest of the caravan later. To replace Maximus, Junia hired Ravinia, a mercenary who was not affiliated with either of the factions in town. Ravinia seems quiet, but capable.

Ulgaden left town to perform the Koori burial rites on the remains of his mate. This is a very personal and private ceremony so I wished him well but did not intrude.

I met with Castis Tofilo, the leader of the Blue faction and discussed my situation with my brother. He filled in some missing information about my brother’s actions since he came to town and confirmed that Surtak had been accompanied by a child when he arrived in town. He gave me my first real lead – that my brother had been traveling with a circus, and a female Koori, and that when the circus left town, the female Koori and the child went with it.

We were warned that the Riga clan were planning to retaliate against us for our humiliation of Kelus and my brother. We decided that it would be best if we set up camp outside of town. But they were determined to have their revenge and attacked us in the middle of the night. It did not go well for them.

Being the cowards that they are, of course they struck us in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for them, Koori are creatures of the night, and we heard them tromping through the darkness like a herd of buffalo. And as further proof that the Gods smile upon us, Ulgaden had returned hours before, so we were at full strength.

To their credit, they did come in full force, with a large number of warriors, and a powerful wizard, as well as my brother Surtak and Kelus Riga.

My overconfidence led me to make what could have been a fatal mistake. They had a band of a dozen archers who were raining arrows down upon our camp. I charged them to force them to put down their bows and defend themselves. That is when the wizard revealed himself, raising a mighty wall of stone to cut me off from the rest of my companions. This is also when my brother revealed himself, attacking me from the darkness. He had planned to isolate me from my companions, forcing me to fight him and the dozen archers alone. Luckily, the wizard had underestimated how quick a Koori is on his feet, and placed the wall so that one end of it was close enough for me to reach. I was able to duck around the wall, actually using it for protection from the archers and drawing my brother to where he would be forced to fight me alone in the kind of fight my brother hates – a fair one.

Ulgaden charged forward, when Kelus Riga revealed himself in the darkness, attempting to attack Ulgaden by surprise. Once again, the humans underestimated the quickness of the Koori, and his ambush of Ulgaden failed. They locked in a deadly battle, but I was too busy trying to stay alive to make note of the details. I have seen Ulgaden in battle and had faith that he would overcome Kelus.

As I expected, my fight with my brother was much tougher this time. He had covered himself from head to toe in solid armor, leaving no weaknesses for me to exploit. Since I had taken our Grandfather’s greatsword from him, he had switched to a broadsword and shield, making him even harder to hit. I was forced to fight a much more defensive fight, but finally got in a lucky shot that felled him.

Meanwhile, Ulgaden had quickly dispatched Kelus, and was taking the time to remove his head – ensuring that he would never take another innocent life. Morwenna, Ravinia and Junia had dispatched the archers and the rest of our ambushers, and were closing in on the wizard. I quickly joined them, and when he realized that he was outnumbered and alone, the wizard surrendered. He traded his life, and the life of his men for what information he could give us. There wasn’t actually much to tell that we didn’t already know (that he had been hired by Masus Riga to murder us), but it gave us the definitive proof that we needed. We also learned that Masus had sent the majority of his forces after us, leaving Turmeric Arbustum heavily weighted towards Castis Tofilo’s Blue forces.

Once again I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with my brother. He agreed to answer my questions, in exchange for my word not to kill him. Reluctantly, I agreed. Junia used one of her spells to ensure that he didn’t lie to me, and I gathered as much information from him as I could. I was able to learn for certain that my son does still live, and that Castis’ information was correct – that he was with Surtak’s mate with a traveling circus.

If my brother thought that I was going to set him free again, he was sorely mistaken. I had promised him his life, not his freedom. With Ulgaden at my side, I escorted him back to Turmeric Arbustum, to ask Castis Tofilo to find a deep, dark hole to put him in.

When we reached Turmeric Arbustum, we learned that a war had broken out. With Masus Riga sending the majority of his thugs to try and kill us, he left himself underpowered, and Castis Tofilo had taken advantage of the situation, taking control of the town.

In exchange for the help that we had given him in taking over the town, Castis Tofilo agreed to imprison my brother. When my son is safe in my arms again, I will return to give my brother the death that he deserves.

Castis was also able to give me some more information. He had managed to find a flyer for the traveling circus that Surtak had arrived with, and that his mate and my son were currently traveling with. Unfortunately there is no way to find their current location. The best that I can do is to meet them in Lecia, where they will go to camp for the winter.

Before we left town, Ulgaden and I had planned to kill Masus Riga for his attempt to murder ourselves and our friends, but Castis warned us that Masus had barricaded himself in his home with a large number of mercenaries to protect him, and that it would be suicide for us to attempt to get to him tonight. He also warned us that Masus would not forget the damage we had done to his clan, and that we had murdered his son, and that he would send assassins after us. We agreed to leave town without killing Masus, but agreed between ourselves that we would come back some day and finish the job.

Ulgaden had one final act of revenge against Kelus Riga. By stealing a portion of his mate’s body, Kelus had prevented her from entering the afterlife. He thought it only fair that Kelus suffer the same fate. He dismembered Kelus’ body, and vowed to scatter the pieces in remote places, so that Kelus’ soul would never rest. I agreed to help him in this quest.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.