An Evil Cult to Remove
Freedom of religion doesn't apply to murderous cults

Gozran 11
We’ve built more housing in Tatzlford to encourage people to settle there. We’ve also finished up our shiny new dwarven brewery in Isenfell and the owners have assured us that they’ll have brews we can be quite proud of in no time at all. They’re certainly proud of their work! We also claimed the land that the mite’s sycamore tree stands on and put in more farmland and a road. Our population is up to around nine thousand now, which isn’t bad for our fledgling kingdom, I think.

However, on to the bad news…

In a council meeting a few days ago, Jhod brought up some disturbing news that he’d heard that a cult to Gairona (a portfolio of hatred, spite and extortion, and apparently staking people to the walls of their own homes and torturing them before burning out said home…) was operating in our city. While we may be tolerant of other good-aligned religions and even some neutral ones, we’re not keen to allow evil ones free reign here. Gairona’s worshipers tend to be adulterous wives, spurned women and embittered prostitutes (and us without a brothel!), so we set Garess’ men to find likely candidates who may either be cult members or willing to infiltrate the cult for us.

Our first target was a street beggar who used to be a prostitute and is now rather bitter. She was interested in a “job” when Jiro met with her, but we told her she’d have to endure some magical testing before she was considered suitable. Inside a Zone of Truth we asked her if she was a worshiper of Gairona and she responded affirmatively before she realized it. Unfortunately, she wasn’t so forthcoming after that, and since we doubted she’d turn on her cult, we let her go, intending to follow her. However, she was found dead the next day due to a dagger wound in the back, though no dagger was found where she was killed. As Gairona’s spiritual weapon would manifest as a dagger it’s quite possible there’s not even a real dagger to be found.

We chose our next suspect, a former merchant’s wife who seemed out to ruin her ex-husband, but it turned out that she was working completely within the law if not completely ethically, and he rather deserved it. However, while that lead didn’t work out, Jiro was approached by a midwife who introduced herself as Nydia and says that she wishes to talk to him about the cult of Gairona! She claims that she picks up a lot of gossip in her line of work and she’s heard that Gunda, the wife of one of our city guards, has been having marital problems and saying hateful and violent things that she’ll do to him.

We didn’t find her doing anything suspicious when we had her followed, but Nydia again contacted Jiro and informed him that a contact of hers, who worked at a shop specializing in acquiring rare goods, had received a package for Gunda containing a root called kingsleep, which is quite poisonous! We called in the guardsman to the castle for his safety, but didn’t tell him that we thought his wife might be trying to kill him. She came looking for him, bringing a sandwich made with the root, which we assured her would be delivered to him. We then told him about the poison and he was shocked. He’d not been aware she had any reason to poison him, and their only argument was that she wanted to start a family and he wasn’t sure he was ready. In any case, we kept him in the castle and went to tell her the next day that he was dead, wanting to see her reaction, and then hopefully to follow her when she went to her fellow cult members to report her success. However, she seemed quite upset at his death and the team Jiro set to watching her dwelling didn’t see her leave, nor anyone enter for a couple of days, so he and Ilona went back to check on her. They found that apparently she’d attempted to kill herself, and hadn’t succeeded! After bringing her back to the castle and healing her, the story came out that she thought the root was an aphrodisiac and had been trying to alchemically encourage her husband in her aspirations to become a mother… With that sorted out we revealed that her husband wasn’t dead after all, and set them both up in a really nice room at the castle for the duration of the investigation. I’m guessing she’ll get her way with him before too long!

After that episode, it was obvious that either the midwife was lying, or her contact at the shop was. It made no sense for her to intentionally get a poisonous root for someone wishing an aphrodisiac unless she was also confused as to its use, but if that were the case then she wouldn’t have given a warning to the midwife about it. Nydia found Jiro again, and once they were talking in a more private place (which Jiro had staked out with one of his sneaky sorts earlier) she wanted to know what had happened to the couple. Jiro told her that they were both dead. She expresses shock, Jiro expresses his concerns about her contact, and she agrees to introduce him. I can only assume he was feeling invincible at the time as none of us even knew he was gone…

He proceeds to follow her to the shop where the shopkeeper tells Nydia that Lizbet is down in the cellar. And Jiro merrily traipses down the steps with her after seeing no sign of cult symbols at the shop. Once in the cellar it’s a different story though as there’s Gairona’s holy symbol painted garishly on the wall of the storeroom. And as he turns to leave he finds Nydia bolting the door behind him. Turns out he’d found his cleric of Gairona, she’d been with him the whole time! After a brief struggle, they subdued him and moved him to another of their hideouts.

But first, let’s go back to how we found out what was going on…

Jiro’s tail came running into the castle saying he’d gone into the basement of a shop and not returned. He led us back there, but by then they had already left. We returned to the castle to plot the location and retrieval of our wayward Spymaster when we were apprised of a peasant wishing an audience. A peasant openly wearing Gairona’s holy symbol! She demanded that we erect a temple to Gairona in the city or Jiro would be killed. We followed her to the town center (we had already planned to start trying to locate him from there by using a Locate Object spell I’d had memorized) where she utterly failed to sway the townsfolk to the wonders of of a goddess of spite, hatred and extortion. In fact, she failed so badly that they chased her all the way out of the city! I got a direction from my spell and we managed to track Jiro to a house near our new brewery. There we were beset by crazy cultists wielding daggers, but with little to no combat training they were no match for us. Once Jiro was released we showed him where the cultist had fled the city and had him try to track her. He lost her trail, but not before Seamus noticed us and was able to help him out a bit.

Her trail led into a hill near our city, one which contained an underground temple to Gairona, who knew? After dispatching many an undead, including a wight, we faced off against the high priestess herself, the so-called midwife, and we were victorious, though not without some struggles as she managed to magically convince Jiro to fight on her side and Eran and I were run quite ragged trying to keep Ilona alive with both the priestess and Jiro beating on her! And then we all went home to celebrate with cake and to let our guardsman and his wife know it was safe to return home.

Our One Year Anniversary Adventuring!
Though we're not really adventuring as much anymore...

Pharast 19
And we’ve got town number two for our growing kingdom! We founded Tatzlford this month and built some housing and and a nice bridge across the nearby river. We built some more roads, founded another farm and commissioned a park in our capital (but not run by druids as they’re all crazy…).

The Bad Bard
Or is he a good bard?

Calistril 23
We started hearing some rumors of a charismatic and skilled orator visiting our outlying farms and settlements and speaking about us. A few days after that he showed up in Isenfell (our capital), so we went out to see what the fuss was about. He’s apparently a comic who seems to specialize in character assassination as he was making all sorts of claims about our decadent rule and other excesses that we certainly don’t aspire to. He’s a rather portly “gentleman” named Grigory and seems to get his kicks from making fun of us in general and in specifics. If anyone speaks up attempting to counter his points he turns his attention to them and starts telling spurious (but amusing, at least to the crowd) tales about them, completely undermining their credibility.

How to undermine his campaign to undermine us? To start with, we had one of Jiro’s sneaky sorts check out his room while he was orating, to discover only that he had a large sum of money, but with coins minted in many lands. No incriminating documents were to be found, sadly. Jiro staked out the inn to watch his man work and that day the bard’s tales consisted of poking fun of Jiro watching his populace. He clearly has his own information gathering sources inside the city. Eran decided to take the direct approach, so we trooped up onto the impromptu stage and engaged in some verbal sparring. You win some you lose some, and that’s how the next few days went while Jiro worked with his network to dig up more dirt on Grigory.

He did discover Grigory was visiting our merchants, buying small trinkets, and then making a big deal about how he was supporting our economy while the rulers did not. Ilona attempted some countermeasures by essentially doing the same thing with other merchants. We did find he’d commissioned a wagon for food and booze in a few days time which we decided to keep an eye on. When that was ready he left the city (making sure “his admirers” knew he was going, presumably fearing we might “remove” him as a threat while on the road) taking a couple local lads as supposed bodyguards from wild creatures. If he really feared we would kill him on the road he surely doesn’t understand us and our appreciation for law like he pretends he does…

Anyway, Seamus and Jiro were set to following him and his wagon, and once we determined he was heading for where our loggers were clearing ground for Tatzlford we set out to beat them there (horses just carrying people being much faster than horses pulling a laden wagon). Once there we talked up the bard’s coming and celebrated with them when he got there. He did not look happy that we’d figured out his game plan! However, while the lumberjacks were getting drunk and happy off the beverages he’d brought, one of them started beating Grigory with a chair. When we intervened, he claimed that we’d promised him money to do so! In the near riot that ensued, the annoying bard slipped out of camp, and once a good distance away, summoned a magical steed and high-tailed it back to the capital. We brought his erstwhile bodyguards with us as well as the man who accused us of paying him to beat up Grigory and headed there ourselves.

By the time we got back, we found out he had ridden into town claiming to have been beset by us on the road and had been lucky to have escaped. Some of the populace took him in and have been hiding him from our “retribution.” When questioning the logger we found he’d just had a strong feeling that if he beat Grigory we’d pay him money, but he had no recollection of talking to any of us personally, and unfortunately, also no recollection of Grigory getting him alone to give him such a suggestion magically (at least that’s what we’re assuming since we certainly requested no such action from him). Eran, Ilona and I go back to our daily orations in the bard’s stead and he no longer comes out to resume “his side of the story.” After several days without word of his whereabouts we were ready to just let the dust settle and move on, but then received a caller, a woman who’d been helping conceal the bard, but had some doubts about his stories about us and wanted us to talk peaceably with the bard to resolve things. She directed us to a farmhouse where he’d been receiving food each day, but by the time we got there, he had already left. We’ll have to assume we’ve foiled his destabilization plans for now, but I don’t think there’s much else we can do without knowing who hired him (as I really doubt he was doing this on his own).

A Festival of Love
All the drunken debauchery you could desire

Calistril 3
We’ve begun our first crown-sponsored festival, with plenty of strong ale and food provided by us. It’ll probably take us a week to clean up afterward, but the people seem to be having so much fun! In celebration, we unveiled a brand new tavern. We’ve already had a small group of dwarves offer to start work on a brewery, now that we have a fine place to serve their handiwork.

We’ve put in another sawmill and built a road to the giant statue of Erastil, which is a very nice landmark. I’m sure Jhod will want to fix up that area too once he has some time free, perhaps in few years at this rate…

A Brand New Year
Even in winter we keep expanding

Abadius 13
It’s a pretty cold winter, but we have a very hardy people in this area. Even now they’re preparing the forest area around the tatzlwyrm’s river so that the new settlement can be built. We expect it’ll take a few months to finish that as the area it pretty heavily wooded (and covered in snow!). We put up a sawmill to take advantage of all of the wood we’re generating while clearing it and back in the capitol we’re building a jail. The city guard shouldn’t have to haul every petty criminal they find back to the castle dungeons, we’ll save those for those who’ve committed more serious crimes, political prisoners, or siblings who think practical jokes while meditating for my deity’s holy days are funny (you know who you are!).

Takes One to Know One
A bit of detective work to shake things up

Kuthona 23
It’s been a busy month. We’ve reassigned work crews to start clearing toward the Rezbin’s new settlement, reportedly to be called Tatzlford once created. We’ve erected a town hall where Khismia can have less formal meetings with our subjects, and we’ve continued to put up more housing to hold all the new people who’ve been settling here.

That’s all just the regular day-to-day stuff of ruling now. What really made the last couple days interesting was a bit of a werewolf problem. Seamus approached us for a private audience and said there had been several killings, and from his own experience, they had been done by another werewolf. His opinion was that this is a newly infected lycanthrope who most likely has no idea what he’s doing, or even that he’s now a werewolf.

Not having a cleric of sufficient level to cleanse lycanthropy, we instead drew straws to see who had to go see if Bokken had any of the herb Wolfsbane. Khismia lost, and immediately headed north with a sigh. Wolfsbane would allow us to cure the lycanthrope, but only if we had him in hand.

Garess and his city guards found us a likely suspect, a tribesman staying at our new inn, so we went to investigate. According to Vekkel, Koondal (the tribesman) leaves during the day and comes back each night looking very worn out, proceeds to drink himself to insensibility and then repeats that the next day. Nothing like getting our own hands dirty, so Ilona decides to take a direct approach when he comes in that evening. Koondal turns out to be a giant of a man, a barbarian by the looks of it, with a great axe strapped across his back. He did indeed look quite tired, but he ordered his usual drink, and taking Ilona for a barmaid, started propositioning her. I admire my sister’s restraint and glib tongue as she soon talked him down from taking her back to his room and was companionably drinking with him while pumping him for information. He’d gotten bit by a wolf in the forest a few days ago and since then he’d been having strange dreams of death and rage. As he continues talking and drinking, he gets more and more antsy, eventually running out of the inn. Seamus had pointed out that the full moon was approaching when talking to us earlier, so we followed him and weren’t really surprised to round a corner and find him in a partially shape-shifted state. Unfortunately, he was still a barbarian at his core, and he drew his great axe and flew into a berserker rage. After a bit of a drawn-out scuffle (as we were trying to incapacitate him, not kill him), we managed to knock him out, but not before he’d bit Jiro. We hauled him back to the castle and locked him and Jiro in separate cells (in case Jiro went all werewolf-y as well), and good thing we did as they both turned into their were forms when the moon came up.

Long story short, when Khismia returned with the wolfsbane, it was to find a resigned barbarian and Jiro locked in cells, awaiting the time when we’d poison them to try and cure their disease!
With a bit of magical bolstering, both of them were cured of their lycanthropy and didn’t take any serious harm from the wolfsbane as poison. Once our barbarian friend was feeling more himself, we explained what he’d done as a werewolf. Having finally just had his first restful night since being bit he believed us at last (before he’d had no recollection of his violent deeds, thinking them to be merely dreams) and offered his magical armor to pay restitution to his victim’s families and his magical weapon to us in thanks for curing him. We brought up the idea of him working with Seamus to patrol the wilderness areas of our kingdom and he was enthused with that plan. He wasn’t that comfortable in cities anyway, and was glad to put his combat skills to use for us.

More Expansion
Our longest road yet

Neth 9
Today a couple asked for an audience, which we granted. Their names are Loi and Latricia Rezbin, and, until recently, they were merchants in Rostland. They would like to set up a new town in our kingdom, in the area where the tatzlwyrm used to live, as there’s a nice ford there for trade. They are requesting support from the crown in the form of clearing the site and building roads to it. We’re in agreement that this seems a reasonable thing to do, especially as we will complete the road connecting our city to Oleg’s trading post and the South Rostland Road any day now. With that trading route well established, branching out is only logical. To encourage trade and travelers, we have also begun work on a lovely new inn, Tuskgutter’s Fall, which Vekkel Benzen will run. He thinks it’s a good profession for a retired hunter, and it probably is in this area full of trappers and hunters.

A Work of Beauty
The Arts flourish

Lamashan 20
I’ve just returned from the main smithy in town. The head blacksmith, working with an artisan friend of his, feeling inspired by the new wealth of gold recovered from our gold mine, has created a truly beautiful statue of Erastil. Jhod was overcome with emotion and only hopes to build a splendid enough temple to his deity that the statue can have a worthy place to inspire others from.

In more mundane events, the new gold mine seems to have fixed the drain on our economy and we now seem stable, even rapidly expanding as we are. This month we commissioned a new Library for our city. Breela assures us it will draw scholars from other lands, and hopes that one day we may also add some kind of center for magical learning alongside it. For now, she’ll have to be content with just a library.

It's Mine, All Mine!
Or we added a mine, fine...

Rova 17
Our mine is now claimed and the foreman says it’ll be no time at all until it’s adding to our economy. He suggested that a foundry would be wise to process the raw ore, so Eran sent out the orders for the workmen to get started on that today. It should be finished well before the first load of ore arrives with the help of our bard and Lyre of Building. If only we knew of a Lyre of Mining, hmmm…

Takes a Lot of Money to Run a Kingdom
Hope we don't need another loan

Rova 13
Our funds are getting kind of low from building roads and new infrastructure. We really need a new source of income, and soon. We already took a loan from Restov when founding our kingdom and need to continue to pay that lest they come to collect. We should be able to open our new gold mine soon though, the road crews are nearly there and the foreman headed out with his men to start doing whatever it is they do to get a new mine going. I expect we’ll hear back from them in a few days.


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