Darkwave Tales: Kingmaker

Huggin' Trees

A couple days after setting out once again, the small group of misadventurers happened upon an off altercation. A small group of loggers were being held at bay by two of their own who had been charmed by a Nereid, a beautiful fey creature living in the nearby river. Once the adventurers made their presence known, a discussion ensued, which quickly devolved into a shouting match between the leader of the loggers and the fey. The loggers were tasked with harvesting cloudtops, the fey took umbrage with the wanton destruction of the massive, old trees in her demesne. After hearing the bickering for a short while, a decision was made: the woodsmen had to be killed.

The battle was swift and brutal, and soon all the ax-wielding interlopers had been slain. To express her gratitude for the task rendered, the nereid promised to serve as an informant of the activities in the woods, provided the adventurers could find a way to restore or replace the trees. She suggested that they talk to a dryad and her satyr consort nearby for a solution.

The following day the group found the dryad’s grove, and discovered her weeping into a pond. she revealed to them that an evil tree called a scythe tree was terrorizing the forest around here, and she feared that it would soon find her grove and slay her as well, for a scythe tree has a particular fondness for dryad trees. If they could but slay the scythe tree, she would happily give them all the magical gear she had accumulated. They agreed and the dryad gave them instructions on how to find the vile plant.

Locating the scythe tree proved to be trivial, thanks to Byzalte’s talents and the dryad’s directions. The tree was quickly dispatched, and the unlikely hero of that swift battle was Sterling, Byzalte’s boarish companion. By rushing in and distracting the scythe tree he allowed Tolixan and Byzalte to close in un-scythed and chop down the tree. Byzalte did take a slash for his troubles, but the tree fell soon afterwards.

Upon returning to the dryad with news, and proof, of the evil tree’s demise, the overjoyed dryad followed through on her promise, gifting all of her magical possessions on the group, and agreeing to keep them informed on activities in this region.

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Gnomebody loves you

The months since the carnival passed on, the kingdom quickly returning to some semblance of order. Tolixan was put into place as steward of the nascent barony, but the dramatic loss of Trajana so early in the barony’s youth caused ripples of doubt about the kingdom’s viability to spread. Grimm moved into position as the Magister, replacing Stehlen. The kingdom’s economy took a slight hit during this transition, the iron fist of the previous magister having been replaced by the chaotic meanderings of the goblin, and there was initially a fair measure of trepidation on having a goblin placed in such a high position of power. This too soon settled down to mild unease as the populace learned that Grimm has no desire to mold the kingdom into a more chaotic state. They even learned to ignore the odd explosions and smells that occasionally came from the castle.

Representatives from a tiny mountain kingdom called Sezmar approached the leaders of the barony with a deal: Trade between the two nations, food for ore, to be magically transported. After some discussion an accord was reached and the deal struck. The lead envoy, a man named Salvar, oversaw the transaction.

Soon after the establishment of the embassy, the barony celebrated the end of its somewhat troubled first year. Directions from the swordlords of Restov arrived via courier, congratulations on the accomplishments to date and instructions to continue exploration and expansion in the area. The leaders of the barony suited up once more and set off to explore, accompanied by the Sezmarian Salvar and an odd creature known as Morpheus that Byzalte had met.

Shortly after setting out, the group came across a band of gnomes in distress. They had recently fended off an attack from some kobolds, but one of their wagons had been pulled by the frightened ponies into the middle of the river and was in danger of being washed away. The group leveraged their abilities and extracted the wagon from danger. The leader of the expedition introduced himself as Jubilost Narthopple and after some discussion he grudgingly admitted that he was creating a map of the area. Further discussion ensued, with the chaotic gnome haranguing the straight-laced Salvar enough that the human challenged the gnome to a duel at dawn, despite the fact that the details of the map had already been secured for a price.

The duel commenced at dawn, but it was hardly a match. The gnome completely and utterly humiliated Salvar, beating him to within an inch of his life before declaring himself the victor. In an uncharacteristic show of evil generosity, Byzalte offered to donate a cask of cursed ale to the gnomes so they could celebrate their leader’s absolute triumph over the cocky cleric. Over half of the gnomes fell victim to the dryad’s brew and began to root themselves in place. Jubilost and a few of his cadre that avoided this fate instead fell victim to Phuralq’s slumber and were slaughtered as they lay helpless. The leaders claimed the equipment of the fallen gnomes as their own and returned to their city to turn what they could not use into something more suitable.

In the city, judicious application of power netted a good return for the gnomes trade goods. Morpheus, however, nearly got the group tossed out of the weapons shop before Byzalte managed to convince the proprietor that it would be much less expensive to take the deal than otherwise. Flush with cash, the group decided to spend a few days enhancing their equipment magically before setting out once more.

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Send in the clowns

The defeat of Prig and the Cold Rider was bitter-sweet to say the least. Trajana was rapidly becoming a tree thanks to a dryad’s suggestion to drink a magical brew, and as Stehlen attempted to capitalize on her predicament, she blasted him for his efforts. The fairgoers, released from the Cold Rider’s illusion, realized with horror what they had really been participating in. Shock and panic set in, overshadowing the regicide being committed. Throngs of terrified people crowded the exits, trampling each other in their haste to leave.

In all, 430 people were slaughtered in the carnival, and many more were thoroughly traumatized by the events. The thorpe of South River, the site of the carnival, and the surrounding farms were completely abandoned. Many individual farms in the kingdom were left without occupants as the remnants of the families move away from the massacre.

The leadership, struggling with the severe disruption brought about by the regicide, are able to restore order to the kingdom through a Herculean effort on their part, preventing a mass exodus by the kingdom populous. The tavern, Jugs ‘n’ Such, stood vacant for a short while as the owner had perished, but with the blessing of the rulers a new proprietor claimed the tavern. The squatters that had moved in were granted the ability to claim a vacant house. The sudden labor shortage was mostly filled by these same vagrants.

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Carnevil: From Lackluster to Hellbound in Mab's Handbasket.

Festivities been going out with mad bashes and the usual merriment. The troupe’s decision to split meant soaking more of the carnival’s events as well as possible murder when trouble brews their way.

Trajana’s desire for more women meant the brothel tent was her first priority; despite being ruler- the fees for breasts was one of many obstacles in her quest for haremhood. But alas, her trigger finger caused more harm than good resulting in the death of the pimp and maybe hindrance in her attempt to do some good in her chaotic life. But hey, free loot and a thankful redhead was the reward from her usual takes of bloodlust.

Stelhen and Phuralq’s means of excitement was an ice maze. Seems simple enough for the two intellectuals to solve the shifting puzzle. A bit of a rendition of a classic mythology with the twist of moving walls and faux Minotaur roaming about. And with calm minds and psychic precognition conquered the feat, even without the use the fabled golden thread that would make even the Gods nod their head at such an accomplishment.

Byzalte’s meaning of fun indicated hanging around people of his own kind. The Freak Menagerie was an ideal place of those with defects and unusual talents. And the healthy wager of a date with the fat lady seemed like a good idea for an arm wrestle. Though victorious, The stone man still insists on bringing a cask of cheap ale as means of a good match among freakish friends. Retrieving the ale was no problem, though the locals were less than willing to let a so-called “postman” go. But a beerstein to the jaw was more than enough to quell the growing mob down.

Tolixan wandered about- never the idea of “fun” has ever crossed his mind. The carnival itself seemed rather alien to the Wilder. And the thought itself left him mostly occupied as he watched peasants attempting to test their strength vainly on the windmill. But for once in his life a smile lifted on his face as he continued to watch each civilian falling into the dirt as the roars of laughter enveloped him in the spirited audience.

But among the merriment, an invisible power seeped into the fair. The first of omens came to Byzalte in form of a fox child. Handing him a handaxe and vague instructions of a master outside the grounds with terrible news. Not taking a chance, the Bastard took heed and begin searching his friends who were currently occupying at the sculpture event. Stelhen was busy adding bloody hues to his ice devil with the Illithid critiquing his work.

Byzalte, slightly buzzed from his rounds with the Menagerie slurred his explanation towards the two. Stehlen was too deep in his work, but Phuralq- having doubts, insisted that Byzalte test the axe’s credibility on one of the many blocks of ice littering the frozen lake. As he smashed his weapon on the fresh ice- a scream came from the maze. Instinctively, Both casters immediately set aside the contest to investigate. Leaving Byzalte to in a attempt to find the Kitsune child, but found something even more macabre at the Biggy Piggy.

A closer look within the tent revealed absolute horror. People transforming into swines by the half-pig humanoid followed by a gnome with frozen blood for both hair and beard. The bloody fey insisted that he eats some freshly made meat pie. But even Grimm himself can make the obvious connection between the pig people and the tainted pastry. No second thoughts needed as Byzalte pied the evil little man and stumbled out screaming:

“Biggy Piggy is people!”

Upon stumbling out, the once bashing fair turned into an oblivious blood fest. Eyeball lollies in the hands of children, the once clear ice sculptures now clouded with a faint tinge of red with peasants frozen in screamless agony. Chiselers in trances unaware of murder as they continue to pound away at skull matter and cartilage. Human corpses littered the walls in ornaments with their guts and viscera strewed about like bloody streamers as their bright crimson innards hanged and glistened from the torches yellow glow.

For once in his seventy years of living. Byzalte felt sick and the alcohol wasn’t assisting in keeping his stomach from spewing out its contents. He runs back to backs to the party now assembled near the maze’s entrance and shout the current horror that was happening behind him. This time, more blood-soaked gnomes appeared along with the swinomancer bringing with them an attempt to stop the party from interfering with their inhumane plans.

The fight was tough, but the handaxe was a complete blessing in bypassing the gnomes’ icy skins. With carnage still going about around them, they all agree in meeting with this mysterious being who seldom assisted the party without her presence.

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Barony of Al'Thor, Sixth Month, Lamashan 21 to Neth 20

The bad weather that plagued the barony at the end of Rova and through the middle of Lamashan abates, allowing the harvests to resume. The barony expands to its northern limit, encompasing Oleg’s Trading Post and the surrounding lands. Extra resources and effort are put into completing extending the road from the gold mine up to the trading post before the cold weather sets in.

During the construction of the road some of the workers discover the moon radish patch in the woods nearby. Being the enterprising types and seeing the value of the radishes, they gather up folks and funds and set off into the woods to stake their claim. A farm is established near the radish patch and cultivation of the root begins in earnest.

Word of the radishes spreads quickly and people begin to flock towards the woods, each seeking their own claim on the resources therein. Even decrees and threats of punishment fail to stem the tide, and the heavy-handed punishments that are levied only serve to increase the unrest spreading through the citizenry.

A jail is built to help contain the influx of law-breakers and rabble-rousers that this land rush brought in. In the end, the only real solution is to begin the construction of some farms nearby, offering the land and fortune-seekers a safer, closer place to live and work.

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Barony of Al'Thor, Fifth Month, Rova 21 to Lamashan 20

Rain and thunderstorms dominate this month, dropping the temperature fairly dramatically. Unfortunately the rains also manage to destroy a good portion of the grain crops harvested and drying. Must and mold pervade the harvest, completely ruining much of it. Fortunately the management of the barony to this point means that the pinch of hunger will not be felt by the citizenry, though the stores for winter may be a bit leaner for it.

The kingdom continues its expansion towards Oleg’s Trading Post by claiming an area locally known as Spidernest Plain. A road is constructed past the gold mine, greatly easing passage through the hills in the area. Growth in Tytos slows a bit as no new housing or building projects are announced. The population is slowly transitioning from a labor force to a more manufacturing and craft base. Most of the smiths, carpenters, wainwrights, tailors, and cobblers work out of their homes or tents. The tent city itself, though shrinking somewhat, has begun taking on a more permanent, slum-like appearance.

Farms are established around the Old Sycamore with some of the farmers who are more open to a relationship with the sootscale kobolds living there. The kobolds themselves are intensely interested in how the farming works, and a couple even decide to try it for themselves, with limited success.

On Lamashan 10 the execution of the arsonist and mass-murderer Grady Holmes takes place. Much of the kingdom gathers to watch the event, eager to see the vile murderer get his final reward. Beginning at sunset and continuing for 8 hours, Stehlen and Amalasuintha chant esoteric rhythms, making ritualistic cuts into the condemned man’s flesh. The crowd does not thin in the least, even growing as those from further afield arrive to watch the ritual execution. As the ritual draws on, the ebb and flow of planer energy can be felt throughout the area, heightening the mob’s anticipation.

Finally the duo’s chants rise to a crescendo, punctuated by a bolt of lightning in the overcast sky overhead. Stehlen places a large ruby on the condemned man’s bloody chest and presses on it. The gemstone sinks into the flesh and the murderer bursts into flames, howling in agony. He writhes there for almost a half minute before slumping against his bonds, a charred husk. The assembled crowd gasps as a pair of claws tear through the smoldering rib cage. A hellhound breaks through the dead man’s flesh, emerging to stand before the frightened audience. The devil dog growls menacingly at the crowd before padding over to sit between Amalasuintha and Stehlen.

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Barony of Al'Thor, Fourth Month, Arodus 21 to Rova 20

It is hot and humid, some days oppressively so. The frequent rainstorms have turned into infrequent thunderstorms, and those sometimes only made the humidity even worse! The area around the Gold Mine is claimed by the barony, slowly extending their reach towards Oleg’s. A road connecting to the Old Sycamore connects the growing kobold population to the capital, resulting in an increase of kobolds seen in the town proper. Slowly the sight of the small allies is becoming more familiar, but every so often trouble follows after them during their visits.

In response to the growing issues related to prostitution, a solution is proposed by the queen: build a brothel. The citizens respond to this decree with resounding enthusiasm, and soon the working girls in the town have a better place than a muddy tent on which to conduct their business.

The feud between the logging companies does not cool after the punishments handed out. If anything it grows as Cecil seeks retribution for his assault, and restitution for the loss of his employee. The situation once more comes to a head when an arsonist owned by Cecil sets fire to a hamlet, killing nine people, including Brandt.

The fate of the arsonist is obvious, even called for by the barony citizens: execution. Stehlen postpones the execution with a brusque explanation that it’s not the right time. Amalasuintha soothes the agitated citizenry who are demanding the arsonist’s blood, assuring them that the man will die on the next new moon, Lamashan 10. Mollified, and glad that the feud is finally over, the general unrest that had dogged the barony for the past couple months finally begins to die down.

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Rumble in the Jungle, Part II

Despite the very public punishments metted out earlier, the feud between the two logging companies does not abate. They continued to clash outside the barony’s expanding borders, and the severity of the encounters continued to escalate. Both sides began to lose workers to the increasingly lethal conflict.

Cecil pursues restitution for his lost employee, and retribution for the further abuse he suffered. He had approached the leaders of the barony about both matters, only to be informed that in the case of the restitution, because the murdered man was only an employee and not property or a family member, there was no legal recourse. As for the abuse, the trail had gone cold and unless he wished to finance the investigation himself or new evidence surfaced there was nothing further that could be done.

Brandt decided to remove himself from the logging business after losing a couple of his men to some traps in a marked glade, weary of the conflict and fearing for the safety of his men in the forest. Instead, he set up a small processing point just north of the River Crossing bridge, on the edge of the Crossing hamlet. Loggers would no longer need to completely process their logs in the woods, they just needed to mark them and then send them down the river. His men would catch the logs jsut before Crossing, pull them from the river, and finish processing them into lumber. He was soon processing a large volume of lumber, large enough that he had begun construction of a sawmill at the site.

Almost a month after the first murder, the conflict once again visited itself upon the barony. During the night a fire started in a shed holding near the mill, and from there it spread along a carefully laid path of oil to the mill and to a neighboring house there Brandt had moved his family. They never had a chance. Brandt, his wife, and four children perished in the fire. The fire spread to two of the neighboring houses before someone awoke and was able to get one of the houses cleared. The other house burned too hot and fast, killing a husband and wife there. The only survivor of that fire was a small boy who managed to climb out a window in time.

The few people who dwelt in the hamlet formed a bucket brigade to combat the fire, but they were too few to do much. All but one of the buildings in the hamlet succumbed to the fires, and one more person was killed when a barn collapsed.

An investigation revealed the accelerant that was used to destroy the three initial buildings, clearly demonstrating that it was an act of arson. Not only that, it was done in such a deliberate manner that the person who set it was familiar with such things already. Grady Holmes, an indentured servant belonging to Cecil, was a convicted arsonist from Brevoy. He quickly became the focus of the investigation. Akiros requested magical aid at this point, and Amalasuintha reluctantly revealed that she had a ritual that may produce the answers he sought, though it came at a high cost to the caster.

Her ritual augury was performed successfully and the summoned devil implicated Grady in the arson. Grady was formally charged with the crime of arson and nine counts of murder. Grady’s interrogation, performed by Tolixan and Akiros, indicated that Grady was acting alone, and without direction from anyone. However, Grady was not owned by Cecil at the time of the first incidents, only arriving in the barony himself last week, according to records acquired from Cecil. Cecil, of course, claims complete innocence, that he had no idea that Grady was going to do this. Indeed, with the removal of Brandt as a competitor, he had decided to stop the feud as well. This line struck Akiros as not exactly true, Cecil was not being as forthcoming as he appeared.

This brings forth the question; Is the owner of a slave or indentured servant liable for the actions of his property? This Forum Post may be used for discussion

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Barony of Al'Thor, Third Month, Erastus 21 to Arodus 20

Weather is hot through the end of Erastus and cools off a bit. Rain and thunderstorms roll through every 3 – 4 days, much to the delight of the farmers. The crown extended their claim to the Old Sycamore, an action which the kobolds of the Sootscale tribe greeted with boisterous acclaim. Farms continued to take old in the area surrounding Tytos, and additional farms were funded by the kingdom’s coffers. These farms continued expanding up the river, toward the crossing. A small hamlet, unofficially called ‘Crossing’ has sprung up at the bridge at the confluence of the river. Additional housing is constructed in the growing town, allowing more people to move out of the tent city into more permanent lodging.

The first serious test of the kingdom’s laws and judgement happened during this time as a feud between rival logging concerns escalated into murder. The murderer, Trisken, is apprehended easily, and his employer, Brandt, implicated in the murder. The judgement from Traja, the self-styled Queen, was declared to be Death for the murderer and 40 lashes for Brandt.

For the execution and punishment a large post, shaped from one of the trees that sparked the feud, was sunk into the ground in town. At Stehlen’s insistance the execution was to take place on Arodus 11, during the new moon. All of the town was encouraged to come and watch the execution, to help instill upon the m the consequences of such actions. First came the flogging of Brandt. Akiros read aloud his crimes, which included conspiricy and murder-by-proxy, at which time Tolixan began to flog the bare back of the accused. Amalasuintha, Stehlen, and Traja stand by as, over the next half hour, Tolixan mets out the punishment of 40 lashes. Time and time again spells are invoked to heal Brandt as he is rendered unconscious by the lash, bringing him back to consciousness only to be mercilessly driven back under. Blood runs in rivlets down his back by the end of the ordeal and he is hauled away, unconscious, to recover naturally.

Trisken is brought forth next and is bound to the blood-spattered post. Stehlen begins a ritual of summoning, chanting and slicing the condemned man, carving unholy symbols into his victim’s flesh. Unfortunately he carves too deeply, killing the prisoner before his time and unleashing a fiery backlash that scorches and sears the conjurer’s flesh despite his infernal protections.

Cecil, the employer of the murdered man, is discovered in the middle of the tent city later that week, severely beaten and robbed, with ‘Thief’ carved into his flesh, much like was done to his murdered employee. This time there were no witnesses, and no trail to follow to the perpetrators. After a weeks of searching, the local constablry, consisting of Akiros, Tolixan, and Byzalte, cease their investigations.

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Rumble in the Jungle

Hostilities between two rival logging companies have erupted, resulting in the deaths of one of the logging foremen. Cecil Berevont is the son of an aristocrat with a great sense of entitlement and little common sense. When word of the new barony and the prisoner ‘sale’ spread, he borrowed funds to purchase a dozen prisoners and hire a couple guards. One of the guards was a gruff woodsman named Carter James. He suggested that the slaves (he has no qualms about telling things the way the are) be used to cut lumber for sale, an idea that Cecil quickly accepted.

Upon arriving in the Narlmarches they quickly set to work harvesting lumber for transport. Carter discovered a better stand of trees further in, and though the site was previously marked as claimed, he set the men to work on the stand. Brandt Selman, the owner of a logging interest and one of the first to arrive at the barony, discovered the incursion when he arrived with his crew to cut down the stand. There was a scuffle and Carter ended up driving off Brandt and his men by force, claiming the stand for themselves. Brandt would not accept this theft, and paid one of his less scrupulous woodsmen, a rat-faced woodcutter named Trisken, to take care of Carter. About a week after the incident, Carter was found hanging naked from a tree near the edge of town with his throat cut and the word ‘thief’ rudely carved into his chest.

The details of the incident and the parties involved are easy to discover, it is a small town after all. Cecil is demanding restitution for the death of his foreman, Brandt is demanding payment for the harvesting of ‘his’ trees. Deacon currently has Trisken chained in an unfinished room in the castle with Tolixan guarding him until his fate can be determined. His guilt is fairly evident, his blood-stained clothes were discovered, his knife matches the wounds exactly, and witnesses put him near Carter’s tent the night he was killed.

Cecil is a newcomer to the barony and is fairly abrasive. As the son of a prominent aristocrat he feels that everyone else is beneath him, including the commoners who call themselves the leaders of this mud pit of a barony. He treats his indentured servants as slaves, giving them only the barest of essentials to survive and working them to exhaustion. His guards, including the late Carter James, were hard taskmasters, driving their charges through fear and intimidation. Most of the indentured servant’s crimes in Brevoy were relatively minor offenses, outstanding debts, vandalism, failure to cooperate with authorities, and a couple charges of treason against the crown. None had a sentence of longer than a year, though the two charged with treason were to be incarcerated for a year and then expelled from the country.

Brandt has been around since before founding. He was in the wagon train that was initially led down from Olegs and trees that he and his crew have harvested can be found in most of the buildings in town. He works right alongside his men and pays them a more than fair wage.

This Forum Post may be used for discussion

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