A Strange Encounter
A stranger encountered?

Pharast 10
We were headed along the road deeper into Lord Varn’s territory when we saw two figures ahead, clearly waiting for us. They weren’t cyclops or centaurs, so we approached cautiously, but not with hostility. What we found waiting for us was a paladin of Iomedae, an aasimar named Evelyth and her companion, a female elf in monk initiate robes named Karaglen (she didn’t speak at all, I don’t know if she can’t, or just chose to let Evelyth do all the talking). She said she’d been waiting out here as she wished to speak privately with us. Once we’d made camp, she got down to why she was here. She’s sworn to the nation of Mendev, near the World Wound, as a crusader. The demons are swarming out of the Wound, attacked the capital and were repulsed, but the queen of Mendev has sent out emissaries to warn other nations of the danger. She requests permission to recruit in our lands for her crusade against the demons, which we allow. Once that is settled, she mentions that she’s felt a great evil rising in the mountains, which we assure her we’re already aware of (and fill her in on the disappearance of Varnhold and the cyclops’ warlord Vordecai) and were in fact heading out to investigate more. She asks if we’re heading deeper into the Tors that we look for a lost companion of Karaglen’s, named Amvaren, last known to live there. Evelyth gives us a scroll of sending to contact them should we happen upon her.

The Shady Side of Town
Thieves' Guild in Isenfell?

Pharast 6
To help prevent a recurrence of plagues in the future, Eran commissions a hospital in Isenfell. We also add a tavern to Olegton’s impressively growing environs (growing so quickly we had to add a bunch more housing). Garess had some interesting news this month – he says he’s pretty sure that there’s now a thieves’ guild operating in Isenfell, though he doesn’t have any names yet. After we go through our grand “hanging” of Grigory tomorrow for crimes against the state we’ll head back out to check out more cyclops’ movement.

Plague in Isenfell
Contained for now

Calistril 28
We arrived back in Isenfell tired, dirty, and wanting nothing more than baths and a soft bed only to find that while we’d been gone, the city had had some kind of plague outbreak. I’m surprised that Ahlissa hadn’t cast a Sending to retrieve us, but she said that they’d actually contained it pretty early and she hadn’t felt it was necessary this time. They have enough clerics in the temples in town, as well as skilled alchemists that a cure was created pretty early and distributed without much fuss. Seamus had already delivered the specifications for the curative draught to Olegton and Tatzlford in case of outbreaks there.

Breela Dead
Or is she?

Calistril 25
We’d headed back toward Isenfell today and were camped out quite snugly with Ilona and Jiro on watch when they failed to see some kind of amorphous blob thing with claws that flew in and attacked Breela. Hacking at it proved less effective than one might hope, and it continued to attack Breela as her struggles to get free grew weaker and weaker. Shortly after it started attacking her, she was dead, as far as I could tell. As she quit breathing, a dark mist rose from her body and was absorbed by the blob-creature. Oddly enough, once the others had hacked at it enough to make it expire, the mist floated back to Breela’s form and she started breathing again. Some kind of soul stealing creature? I haven’t heard of anything before, but I’ll remember to ask Jhod and Ahlissa when we get back. Maybe one of their temples has record of such a creature.

In the Mountains
More cyclops

Calistril 17
Once we got back to the foothills we started seeing cyclopian tracks again, and earlier today we saw another cyclops, only this time accompanied by a large group of hobgoblins. Something’s definitely afoot here. We decided not to engage them as the force was substantial.

We also found a very muddy boggy area which turned out to be the home of several animated mud beings. As they attacked us first, they ceased being animated shortly after that. Buried in the mud we also found a well-preserved body bearing the insignia of a Talden Cavalry Captain General. He would have been a member of the last wave who tried to settle the Greenbelt, approximately 200 years ago (hurray, all that schooling was good for something!). He had on his person an ancient platinum idol of a grinning skull. We buried his body and said some funeral rites. We also spotted a Roc flying east carrying what appeared to be an entire cow!

Bookkeeping and Festival
Perlivash and Ilona conspire

Calistril 9
This month we’ve built a jail and garrison in Tatzlford and a library and watchtower in Olegton. Very boring and ho-hum until it came to the love festival yesterday…

Little did I know, but Perlivash and Ilona had been plotting for this festival for weeks! Taking advantage of Grigory’s continued incarceration (and handiness at forgery), Ilona had him write up two letters, purportedly from Eran, professing his desire to spend the festival with the woman he could not stop thinking of. She then had Perlivash play invisible courier to slip those letters into Khismia and Lily’s rooms unseen. The letters asked each to meet Eran at the same time in his quarters, where she knew he’d be as she’d already delivered him a missive from his “tailor” asking him to review his wardrobe selections for the spring in his room. Oh my, you would have thought we’d been infested with banshees the way they screeched at each other, each thinking the other was simply there by happenstance and interfering with her own exclusive day with Eran. Meanwhile he stood there completely confused as to why his tailor was so late and why the women seemed to think he was to blame for something… If we were 60 years younger, Ilona probably could have looked forward to a month of bread and water from our parents for such a stunt, but, not knowing the source of his misery, all he did was finally yell at both Lily and Khismia to shut up and leave him alone and then locked himself in his room for the rest of the night. I only know of Ilona’s involvement as Perlivash had watched the whole thing invisible and couldn’t stop giggling the whole evening (and wasn’t exactly reticent to tell me why). I’ve not decided yet when I shall hold this over Ilona’s head for blackmail…

An Interesting Turn of Events
Grigory speaks

Abadius 15
After a quick clean-up from our journey, we met with Garess to find out what was going on. He told us that Grigory had just walked in and demanded to speak to the ruling council. Not wanting to let Grigory out of his sight, Garess had simply locked him in the dungeon and gone to the Calistrian temple right away. Grigory’s been down there ever since. Armed with very little more knowledge, we tramp down to the dungeon with a small contingent of guards and Garess himself (not wanting to miss having his curiosity satisfied) and open Grigory’s cell. He seems genuinely happy to see us (maybe most of a week in a cell will do that to even a former enemy) and says that he must retrieve something he hid before his incarceration. Even with his promise to come right back, we don’t really trust him, so it’s a nice little procession that follows him to his hiding place where he retrieves a sheaf of parchment, and then right back to the room we intend to interrogate him in. He agrees to be questioned under a Zone of Truth as long as we understand that he may refuse to answer questions about some of his past activities in our kingdom. Finding this arrangement agreeable, we proceed.

He begins by telling us that he’s been receiving orders from a contact in Fort Drelev (a ways northwest of Isenfell), but that his orders changed a few days ago from simple sowing discontent to an order to assassinate Oleg and Svetlana, which he refuses to do. He has no great love for anyone in our ruling council, it’s simply not something that he wishes to do in his line of work, so, knowing that he’d probably experience some unfortunate consequences if he simply refused, he instead would like to make a deal with us. In exchange for information about his contact in Fort Drelev as well as all the contacts he’s made in our fair city (malcontents willing to bring him information or perform minor tasks for him), he’d like his death to be faked and for us to simply allow him to leave and not come back. He speculates that his contact in Fort Drelev is actually working for others, perhaps Daggermark (angry at our refusal to relinquish the Gaulus family), Pitax, and maybe Mayvon (who may just want the land we now claim).

Lily thinks it’s a splendid idea, and gets to work plotting Grigory’s death with him, as well as getting the necessary information to subvert his spy network. We’ll keep his incarceration a secret as long as possible to have time to try and milk what information and supplies we can out of his contacts, then have a grand execution when it’s no longer plausible that he’s still “failing” to kill Oleg and Svetlana.

Oleg wishes immediate retribution on Fort Drelev (completely understandable, especially when Grigory indicated that they’d already known of Svetlana’s pregnancy when giving orders to kill her), but we calmed him down while assuring him that they would indeed be added to our list of “problems to deal with as soon as possible” right after tracking down the missing people of Varnhold. For now, assuming there may be back-up assassins when Grigory fails to complete the job, we’ve moved them both into the castle and mandated that no new staff may be hired until we’ve dealt with this little issue. If they’ve already got people in place in the castle then that won’t help, but Grigory didn’t know of any so far.

Mmmm, Eels
Perlivash is quite helpful

Abadius 13
After arriving at Lake Silverstep this morning we spent several hours while Jiro tried to fish up some of the elusive eels. Having little success, we took a lunch break while Perlivash wandered off to explore. He returned and asked me for a spell to let him move freely underwater and said he thought he’d found some water fey who might be willing to help us. After some time waiting for him to return, he came back and smugly announced that the fey would be happy to trade “metal implements” for a basket of eels. Having found several decent weapons that we had no intention of using, we agreed and made the exchange. Not knowing how much longer we’d be out here, I had memorized a bunch of spells to preserve the eels so they’d still be fresh when we got them back to town.

Turns out I needn’t have bothered as shortly after we headed onwards to explore more we got a sending from the Calistrian high priestess saying that Grigory had turned himself in and Garess was awaiting orders. Replying that we’d be back in 4 days, we headed back to Isenfell immediately.

The Biggest Fly Trap Ever!
And it's hungry

Abadius 11
We headed north from where we encountered the goblins and found a deep gully between three rivers with a rocky island in the center. The vegetation on the island was completely different from that of the area on the river banks, so we decided to head in for a closer look. The drop onto the island is about 40 feet down, so Jiro decides to just free climb it. However, when he’s about a third of the way down, the plant matter falls away from the island as a giant flytrap plant rears up and snatches him off the wall!

Khismia, always ready to split the party, casts a spell to teleport herself and her eidolon down to the island and gets swallowed by another plant head straightaway. At this point, vast numbers of flies start attacking those of us not being plant food, so Breela sets about her with fireballs. I quickly cast a spell to allow Ilona to fly and grab Eran to also teleport down to join Khismia’s struggling eidolon, leaving Breela to madly murder swarms of flies from her elevated vantage point. A third head bursts up from the island, this one snagging the eidolon while a fourth snaps at Ilona as she flies down to try and extricate one or another of our swallowed companions (it misses, hurray!). While the plant is distracted chewing on the eidolon and digesting Khismia and Jiro, Breela and Ilona continue their relentless attacks and eventually Jiro and Khismia manage to cut their way out as the plant slumps to the ground, lifeless. Figuring the island is pretty safe now, we decided to rest for the evening.

More Fey
But not the evil kind

Abadius 10
While exploring, we came upon a weirdly lush area of vegetation. The lushness was strange, obviously, since it’s currently the middle of winter, but even in spring or summer I think this place would have stood out as the plants don’t match the surrounding vegetation. There was no sign of magic, but we all felt like something was watching us and Perlivash said it smelt like fey. After noticing some plants moving without any trace of wind, Ilona addressed the presumed owner of the grove in Sylvan, expressing our desire to meet him or her, and our peaceful intentions. A strange creature, introducing herself not by name but only as a blodeuwedd (Perlivash later filled us in that these beings guard areas important to fey culture). She warned us that the “borders of the first world are thin here,” and while we were welcome to eat anything we liked from the grove, we shouldn’t linger lest we wander through them. Beautiful flowers sprouted wherever she walked, if only she’d like to move into our park in Isenfell…

She didn’t mind us asking questions, so we told her what we’d found in Varnhold, but she knew nothing about events that far from her grove. She was aware though that the cyclops were active again, coming out of their mountain lairs where they’ve been content to stay for years on end. Other fey lead them away from her grove. She believes Vordecai to be at fault for this as he was once an ancient cyclopian warlord. I don’t know how long cyclops live, but I’m guessing by the way she says “ancient” that we may be dealing with some form of undead cyclops, perhaps a spell caster assuming that annoying raven that keeps harassing Khismia is indeed a familiar. She showed us a crystal mine at the center of her grove where the barriers were especially thin. We stayed well away from it and gathered a good amount of ripe fruits and vegetables to supplement our trail food. Bidding the blodeuwedd a cordial farwell, we headed on our way.

As we get into the foothills, Jiro spots cyclops tracks, which we start to follow. Perlivash shows up with a crystal which is quite obviously from the mine we just left, but I figure that maybe she won’t mind if another fey takes her stuff? I hope so anyway… As we’re following the tracks, a gust of wind from the north brings with it a loud but distant roar. We head toward it, of course, and see smoke rising from a mountainside cave. As we get closer we’re surprised by a whole pack of goblins running away from the cave. Ilona manages to capture one to interrogate it and finds out that they had been working for hill giants in the cave when a cyclops showed up and killed them and started destroying the cavern. Knowing they were very much outclassed, and assuming they were next, the goblins fled in terror. Ilona released her goblin prisoner and allowed him to sprint off to join his companions while we continued toward the cave. Up ahead we could see a cyclops with a horn exit the cave and head off along the mountain range. Unfortunately, he’s much too far away for us to engage, so we just investigate the cave once we get to it. Inside we find all of the structures demolished and a large symbol of Vordecai (last seen in Ervil Pendrod’s notes back in Varnhold) scrawled on the wall, apparently in the blood of the slain hill giants. Finding nothing else of value there, we decided that camping far from the mountains would be prudent.


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