Hawkes Bay Kingmaker

Meanwhile, back in Shrike City
A noble barbarian passes the time

Ah, Shrike City. Of all cities that I have conquered, founded and led, this is my favourite!

Women! Beer! Tales of greatness! Fights! This has them all.

I, Durz the mighty, have blessed this fine city with my might. My name has become famous and the people love me.

Khan, my friend and the one the people look to when I am away has just left again, to continue with the errand that will help make this place a little safer. The warrior Learion, with his pleasingly, ever larger, mighty sword leading from the fore, as I showed him many years ago, the elf, witty as ever, left with his usual parting words (I really must educate him some more…he does seem to keep getting friend and imbecile mixed up. Unless…imbecile is the elven word for mighty companion?! This must be it! I have mastered a new language. I shall be sure to greet him in kind when he returns), Oret of the mittens, little Io (I fear this one is shy…I keep buying him women and he looks confused each time at this great gift) and his father, the mighty paladin (and really, really uptight!) have all joined again.

The city has been in good hands while I was enjoying the local wenches and ale, but alas, it is time to rule again. The people of this fine city need my guidance and guidance they shall have!

Tomorrow, after the ale has worn off…

In the mean time, Oret has a sister! What a woman! She accepts NO coin, but I am sure that I will find the amount that releases her inhibitions. While I find that though, I have been putting in a good word for Learion. A mighty man with a fine choice in killing deserves a wench to come home to, and Ekho should be just such a wench. I have been filling her with tales of Learions glory in battle and bed with equal measure and she seems to enjoy these tales! Her face tells of her intetest, mouth agape with hunger and face red with delight…it is the tales of Learions bed exploits that seem to excite her the most!

I will bed her first so that Learion finds a compliant woman waiting for him. Only a good friend would do this, and I, Durz the mighty, am the BEST of friends!

But maybe tomorrow…my head hurts and the light is too bright…

Rest assured my friends, the mission your complete for me and my city is vital to its safety and you shall be well rewarded on your arrival home. Try to leave some of the killing for me and I shall see you in the Great Horde in the Sky once again.

A bear skin! I promised Oret a bear skin! I must get this to show his favour he has earnt in my company.

But, tomorrow. Ale, wenches and bed await right now…

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In which the yellow brick road gets a little bit muddy

With a destination in mind and directions available thanks to the map found at Fort Drelev, we made our way almost directly to where the barbarians should be situated.

Khan proved his worth again by scouting out the area from overhead. A hollow with a cave mouth in the depression, surrounded by tents and a number of barbarians proved the map correct.

Approaching the area, we had to back track a little and find a ford to cross the river, but as we approached, I hailed the camp. The response was simple, and sadly, violent. The guard in front immediately roared at us and charged, rather than letting us talk our way past.

Unfortunate for him really since he was cut down in moments. As he roared though, more barbarians rushed our position. I moved past the first few and engaged the bulk towards the back. Learion and Oret made their way through the barbarians who engaged them fairly quickly (with assistance from a magical buff from Io and Imajica) with brutal swings of a greatsword and a flurry of puches and kicks.

Khan used the weather to his advantage and provided covering fire in the form of lightning called down from the heavens.

The group that assailed me were ineffectual, but in turn, the sheer numbers arrayed against me made dispatching them difficult. While I was no real danger, this group was preventing me from getting to the prisoners I spied trapped in a wooden cage being guarded by two barbarians.

That said, one of the prisioners (all female humans) managed to grab a guard and choke him into submission and I called for help to deal with the other as he was making his way into the cage.

Imajica and Khan dealt with him through a combination of magics. Io also made his way over and dealt the final blow to the guard being choked.

The prisioners were pleased to be freed, but, pleading aside, we were not able to lead them away immediately. Some clever magic later and they were safely hidden for about ten hours, giving us time to get into the cave and stop whatever was happening in there.

We did briefly try to question the one remaining guard, but clearly he was unable to speak out tongue and we could not make ourselves understood. Based on his companions previous actions, I concluded that he was still a threat, and would only attack us again, or go for help and bring more to his aid. It was with a heavy heart that I ended his threat in the most direct route. Iomedae save my soul for the decision I have made this day.

With a limited timeframe, we made haste into the cave and were almost immediately greeted with carved passages and a chamber with three statues in it. The walls looked to be stained with blood possibly. Also in this chamber were three woman waiting for us. They were wearing religious symbols that imajica identified as the same cult that attempted to set up in Shrike City.

Again, I offered them a chance to live and leave the cave behind. They again, as appears to be the standard here, took the opportunity to attack. With reluctance, we moved to defend ourselves.

Three daemons appeared, summons by these witches foul magics, and assaulted with more magic from the women, we were in some peril. Some speedy slashing and martial arts saw two of the three daemons go down, but all I could focus on was the sight of my son, Io, falling to the floor, dying.

Khan was able to save him in time with a handy use of a wand, and Io also channeled Iomedae’s will and healing flowed through those near him. I moved closer and also called on Iomedae and her will leant healing to those near me as well.

Learion and Oret suddenly looked as though death could be held at bay and with renewed determination, we faced down the final daemon and the three witches. They will not be leaving here alive, foul blight against my god that they so obviously are.

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In which we search for the yellow brick road

With battle joined and a multitude of forces arrayed against us, Learion led from the front and showed offense is the best defence when dealing with these foes. A mighty giant was cut down brutally and quickly as he swung his greatsword.

Areas of magical interference were appearing as Khan and Imajica made life and movement difficult for the giants at ground level and Oret had disappeared up top of the towers, but less arrows were fired with each passing moment, so I can only assume that he was distracting them in some fashion.

The true threat to the giants however, was Learion. And realising this, they focused their massive clubs on him and brought him down. A few brutal blows had our battle leader on the ground and in dire need of help, or he risked death.

Io has proven himself before, but today, he really showed that as a battle healer, there is nothing more I can teach him. His faith in Iomedae was rewarded as he moved towards Learion and brough him back from the brink of death with a prayer and a touch. He kept moving so as to stay out of reach of the giants and was able to chanel Iomedaes power through himself and heal several of us, while keeping the giants away from the power of our Goddess.

Back on his feet, Learion followed my lead, and where my sword struck, leaving burning marks on giant flesh, the greatsword rent them asunder.

While we were dealing with the giants, Imajica dealt with another group of archers, Oret moved into yet another tower and dealt with the inhabitants there as well and Io distracted the last group for just long enough for us to finish the battle and capture a survivor.

During this time, Khan had been forced to retreat as the archers had focused on him primarily, seeing from their vantage point, his magic affecting the battle below. Luckily, he returned and was in better shape than before, thanks to judicious use of healing magic and avoiding the archers.

A thorough search of the towers turned up one remaing mercenary guard and the Lady Quintessa Maray, the same bard who had caused Learion to fall under sway of the vile confusion effect.

It turns out she had fled the earlier battle and had been hiding for nearly twenty four hours in her room, waiting for rescue. Once she was informed of what had gone down in Fort Drelev, she seemed to gravitate towards Khan. Perhaps she has something for men who weild political power? Regardless, she appears harmless now and sincere in her desire to be done with this place and assist us in our cause.

We have put Terrion Numesti in charge of Fort Drelev for now, with the blessing of all who we asked, most especially Satinder, as she seems to understand the people.

For now, our next move seems simple enough. Fort Drelev was taken over by Pitax as a means of diverting unwanted barbarian tribe attention from Pitax back to Fort Drelev. If we are to claim Fort Drelev as part of Elklund and ake it safe for all who would live here, then the barbarian tribes must be dealt with.

To that end, Imajica and Khan found a map to a place that seems to match the information we got from a dead barbarian back at Tatzlford. So we make plans to visit the tombs of a certain Armag the Twice Born.

Perhaps we can talk with these people as we did the centaurs of our lands…

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In which talk leads inevitably to battle

Drelev was questioned at great length by Imajica and we learnt a great deal about his dealings with Pitax. Once our curiousity was satisfied, Imajica teleported him back to our lands and had him incarcerated. This process took longer than usual however, and there were murmurs that Imajica may have fallen foul of something.

In time, Imajica returned, somewhat flustered. Apparently the control of magic this powerful can sometimes be fickle and he had managed to overshoot his destination.

It was decided that we needed to get inside the town proper and speak to Satine, as directed before we left. Since we are a group where subtlety is a somewhat underdeveloped skill, the direct approach through the town gates was deemed appropriate. So back through the tunnels and up the cliff (thanks to Khan and some handy magic assisting our climb) and to the front gates we marched.

The guards didn’t seem overly concerned as we approached and challenged our reason for arriving. A simple discussion resulting in us being merchants of some kind was suffice to allow us passage.

A walk through the town showed a number of things, such as a large amount of guard patrols, an abandoned temple and a stunning woman chatting easily to all and sundry.

In fact, she ushered us over and offered us time to take our ease at her establishment, but conversation quickly (for I felt little need of THAT sort of relaxation) turned to us arranging a meeting with the propietor, Satinder. Our luck held and we were talking to Satinder. A guesture of a long stemmed flower inserted into the provided ring and name (Kisandra) gave us the meeting we were after.

She proved happy to help and provided us a safe room to reside during our time here and a secret way in and out of her establishment. She was also able to get the goods we rescued back to the people who needed it most.

Or next course of action seemed to challenge us. Of course, this is where we fall back onto the tried and true method of going directly to the source of a problem. In this case, the giants and mercenaries were suggested by Satinder as the cause for most of the fear in the town.

As is our way, an immediate trip to the keep that we had previously been hiding in, this time from the front, was our destination. A little trick of magic, and Imajica had us through the gates before they realised what was going on.

Unfortunately, that was as far as we got before the alarm was raised and guards and giants started appearing from all over the place. Oret disappeared up the wall, Khan had flown over the keep and was out of sight, leaving Learion, Io, Imajica and I to face the oncoming tide.

With a prayer on the lips, the battle has joined!

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In which all hell doesn't break loose

In a dangerous position of Learion confused and trapped in an invisible cage with me, Io unconscious with Drelev threatening his life, a mage casting powerful spells and Oret alone standing against him, Khan outside, nowhere to be seen, Imajica around the corner, also trapped in the forcecage, things looked pretty grim.

Oret, however, changed the complexion of the battle by managing to cling onto the mage, forcing him to flee the battlefield, and Imajica managed to slip the forcecage and had Drelev under a magical compulsion of his own.

In a few short seconds, the battle turned in our favour. And Khan, it turns out, had also been busy. He had single handedly kept re-inforcements from flooding the room from across the barricades outside with all manner of spells and tricks of the weather.

Once the confusion had worn off Learion (thankfully before he started to try and kill me) and the cage disappeared, we had Drelev at our command. A minor miunderstanding almost caused a fight to break out between Drelev, Learion and myself, but imajica arrived back to ensure this was unnecessary. Apparently he had something else he had spotted and pursued.

Drelev was escorted down to the dungeons and relieved of most of his belongings, including the keyds to the jail cells. Imajica kept him safe while Learion, Khan and Oret investigated talk of a giant throwing rocks at our King.

I arrived in time to see the giant fall at Learions hands. Perhaps I should simply have stayed down with Imajica and Drelev since Learion, Oret and Khan appeared to have the situation completely under control. Iomedae is trying to teach me trust in those around me. I have much to learn.

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In which the back door leads to the front door

The return of Imajica prompted our moving out. This area appeared devoid of sentries, so we explored the remainder of the floor. Mostly empty, there was one locked room, but a quick foray by Imajica as an elemental showed this to be the city treasury. It appeared to have been cleaned out, possibly to pay the surrender to foreign powers.

The stairs led us to the ground floor, where there were two guards, mercenaries from the looks, facing away. Lack of a subtle plan led Learion and myself to charge them, followed by a blast of colour from Imajica. The easy target must have confused Learion, as his swing was wild. They were taken down quickly however, without any alarm being raised.

This level was uninhabited aside from the two guards. The exit was there along with a circular staircase leading up.

Moving up, after securing the ground floor, we immediately looked left and found what looked to be an office. Khan spotted a creature above the bookcase and as soon as it knew it was spotted, it fled towards the window, even though we tried to talk first. Another appeared and we were attacked, so we defended ourselves. A fair amount of noise was being made by them, but Learion silenced one almost immediately. The other expired shortly afterwards.

It turns out that Imajica knew the familiar dying would alert the master. This lent a sense of urgency as an alarm of some kind must have been raised. Imajica and Khan focused on the desk and found some notes while the rest of us rushed towards the other side door.

We need not have worried.

We interrupted dinner. All the remaining guards, along with the Lord Drelev himself. A gorgeous woman sat with him and Drelev calmly announced intruders and battle was joined.

Immediately I blocked the door, but the woman cast a spell past me, similar to the Umber Hulks gaze, affecting Learion. Luckily the rest of us shook off the affects. Io was forced to hold Learion in place after it was obvious he was confused (smashing himself in the face with the hilt of his own blade).

The large double doors also swung open, revealing the rest of the troops. Damn, I can’t block everything this way, but Oret was there. Suddenly, so too was Imajica, appearing from nowhere and a cloud billowed forth from him, several of the guards dropping immediately, contorting in death.

Oret slammed the doors shut, but Drelev forced them open, while at the same time, another man came down the stairs, demanding to know who killed his familiar. Looks like we found the mage. He immediately cast a variation of lightning bolt that i’ve never seen, slamming into Oret, Io Learion and myself. Io looked rocked and moved past a now stunned Learion to find himself some space.

All this time, Khan was moving round the outside of the tower, peering through the windows, and found a target for his flaming sphere. Unfortunately, he missed the woman fleeing out of the tower, but he kept enemies focused.

The cloud floated through the double doors and Io gasped, clutched his throat and flee, unconscious to the floor, thankfully still breathing. Drelev then moved forward, but the mage cast some form of barrier, trapping Learion, myself and Imajica inside, with Learion shaking off the hold person.

Drelev has Io at his mercy, and I’m trapped. Our only hope now is Oret taking out the mage, all by himself. If he can, we may salvage this situation.

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In which we sneak in the back door

After Khan found a concealed entrance in the cliff face, it was up Imajica to find a way to open it. His arcane arts assisted him here and the three of our party that were able to easily traverse down the cliff, Imajica, Khan and Oret, made there way into the cave after Imajica had done some rudimentary scouting and found very little to be alarmed about.

This left Io, Learian and me ontop of the cliff waiting for word. It was quiet and since we were only 30 feet above the entrance, we remained quiet as well.

It wasn’t until Imajica popped into existence next to us as an earth elemental that we were aware anything was really wrong. He then created a magical door to below and bid us assist the others, who were holding off some black puddings.

Forewarned that they split when hit with sharp weapons, I switched to my flail and Learion hefted his guisarme round the wrong way as though he was weildinging a quarterstaff, and Io blessed us with protection from acid, thanking the lady Iomedae for her aid once again.

Stepping through the portal, I was able to move through Khan and Oret, who were sensibly holding back, watching the beasts move through a plethora of magical defenses that Khan had cleverly laid in their way.

Stepping up, I asked Iomedae to bless my weapon with extra speed and swung heavily at the creature, bludgeoning it to death, and waiting for the next one to attack and move through the dangerous terrain. By the time each of them reached me, they were generally burned by the wall of flames they were moving through.

The second pudding that attacked tried a different tactic and grabbed me, enveloping me in it’s ooze. Luckily it was so badly damaged by this point that when I swung my flail to escape, it collapsed, dead. Deciding to heed the words of my liege, Khan, I retreated a step to force the next one to come further through the flames.

Unfortunately, it was still able to reach me and grabbed me as well. In this case, it was Learion, swinging his guisarme with fearsome skill, even though it was round the wrong way on purpose, and Oret, fists and feet flailing furiously that killed the creature and freed me.

The far end of the cave was blocked off by rusty iron bars, but a few good swings by Learion cleared our way and we tracked further inside. Following the natural passage, we stumbled upon a room hidden by a secret door where goods were stored and we liberated them. From there, Khan was able to spot (yet again) more secret doors. Choosing one almost at random, as we were directly below the tower, based on the musing of Imajica, we entered the prison cells.

The cell we arrived in was empty and unlocked, but across from us was one occupied cell. In it was a strong, older man, clearly having been left to suffer. As fortune would have it, we found Terrion Numesti, the father of the young woman (Kisandra Numesti) who had come seeking our help. Some of the equipment in the previous room was his, so we returned it to him and had Imajica teleport him back to his daughter.

We are just waiting on Imajica to return before we continue on our way.

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In which there be dragons

After successfully defending Tatzlford, it was decided that we would leave it in the capable care of the reinforcements from Shrike City.

This allowed us to venture forth and try and find the source of the attack. We had a good idea of where we were going and really only one option, as valiantly as he tried, young Io was not able to extract any useful information from one of the dead barbarians about there whereabouts.

Since this settlement we were heading towards was off our previously beaten tracks, we took it slowly, ensuring that each area was secured and safe before moving on. About a week into the trek, a sight to bring fear to even a strong man, flew into view.

A group of four fully grown black dragons appeared from overhead. This was a serious danger, and also a little unexpected. It is rare for something so powerful to survive without creating an issue for somebody somewhere, and yet, here were four of them together! While we hold ourselves accountable and consider ourselves very capable, this encounter, at a time when we were unprepared for it, was out of our league.

It was actually only through the sharp eyes of our King, Khan that we even had time to deal with the situation. The best idea at this time was to hide somehow, but with no cover around that could be reached in time, Imajica conjured his faithful rope trick and we were able to hide in plain sight, with Khan having transformed into an earth elemental and burrowing beneath the ground.

Even with the clever trick, one of the dragons found us, but rather than attacking blindly, it chose to torment us and left a sizzling pool of acid at the base of the rope. This could have spelt trouble, but Imajica would have been able to teleport us away should we have become trapped, and by the time we came back out of the portal, the acid had dissolved.

The dragons avoided for the time being, I promised myself I would ensure that these creatures could not darken our land once we had completed our quest to rid our kingdom of this threat of attack.

As it turned out, one of the dragons found us out in the open and with no choice but to fight, we readied ourselves. Imajica and Io covered us in defensive magics and as the battle moved on, offensive magics were added.

This time, having seen the group earlier, we were more prepared, and a solitary black dragon was within our reach. We traded blows, magic and threats, and our fearless monk threw himself at the beast, wrapping his arms around the neck and clinging on for dear life, tangling it up and assisting Learion and I in striking blows against it.

The dragon finally realised the folly of attacking us alone and attempted to retreat. This could have spelt disaster if it could return to the group it was part of and they would all hunt us down. Luckily Khan had an extremely long range spell that was able to finish it off before it could escape completely.

This is one less threat to our people taken care off, but there is still at least three more out there needing to dealt with at a later date.

We made it to our destination and the place looked fairly well fortified with walls stretching most of the way round. Rather than simply walk in the front entrance and announce ourselves (especially as we are fairly distinctive), we scouted for a rumoured back entrance and found a door some way from the town, built into the cliff face. It is here that we make our next decision…to enter a completely unknown tunnel or chance the front entrance after all.

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In which we battle for Tatzlford

Running a kingdom is hard work. Rewarding and fulfilling, but hard. Everybody needs something and I am happy to give of my time and self. Io is growing spiritually and physically as well. He has been asking if we can go on more adventures, but I feel that it is getting to a point where I am no longer the one to give him direction. He is closer to our god than I, I feel, and he will soon be giving me the advice.

Part of our duty however, is protecting our kingdom from threats. We received word that a neighbor is massing for an attack on Tatzlford. Thankfully, Imajica has delved deep into his arts and was able to teleport us around quickly saving us much time and allowing us to ready ourselves and the town earlier.

Io was unable to come with us as Imajica was able to take a limited number of people. It is a measure of my remaining learning and lack of faith that I was glad that Io would not have to face a pitched battle. I fear I have lots to still learn.

After facing down hordes in the forest, trolls were able to breach the defences and get into town. Being destructive brutes, they set to rampaging and destroying Tatzlford, so our determined group made our way to the heart of the fight and defended the town.

The trolls were monstrously huge! Thankfully, Learian seems to have developed some new skills with his magical blade and the the beasts fell like so much timber in a forest, and being trolls, they began regenerating, so Khan was able to destroy the bodies with some well placed fire. Praise be to the powers of the forest.

One of the monsters actually got past some defences and attacked Imajica. While I am sure now that he can handle himself, I did manage to divert one and goad it to attack me instead. Perhaps it is pride, but I feel that every hit I absorb is one less for others to take. I fear this kind of thinking will make me a act as a martyr, and Iomedae would frown on such behaviour.

Still, Oret proved his worthfulness again and took care of another stray troll, with wrestling no less! A brave soul indeed. I am sure that Imajica had something to do with the final troll simply ambling off after him like a friendly puppy as well. Strange, but that seems to describe the elf fairly well.

At this juncture, the town is currently safe and we must gather ourselves for the next move.

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No more Reindeer for Stag Lord

So there they were, a mishmash group of adventurers setting their individual gazes upon the Bastion of Bandit Badness. Ringed with natural barriers on most access points the only noticeable way in would be by frontal assault. Quandary was, to the manned gates or chance their luck with an alternative. ‘Lets go guys, fuck em up by frontal assault’ was one option ventured. ‘No go with subterfuge and trick them!’ was another. Or perhaps the side. Or by air. By sea? God lets go underground…‘I know charge em! The minds were changed so often that the poor casters had aneurisms trying to plan their spells for the big showdown.
One, at this point of proceedings, could not be blamed for contemplating what could’ve been if the intolerant self righteous Paladin hadn’t ripped out the captured bandits tongues with his sword. On the way of making him swallow it..
Anyhows the plan was hatched and given life like a disabled duckling. Under cover of night and spell made fog the party crept in from the flank. Eh this is to easy. Till the zombies showed up that is. Like on a walking dead show the walking dead closed in hungry for their prey. Meh easy pickings for the heroes. Cept they couldn’t see. Ah well details like that bring colour to an otherwise gloomy fight. Party members dead 0 ; Zombies slain = many.
Reaching the palisade the Elf casts his helpful rope spell and after the monk finished any chance of the bad guys impersonating ‘The Great Escape’ over the top they went. Picking off the rear guard one by one the group slowly arrive to an inevitable conclusion. The fight with the Stag Lord and his minions would be fought in earnest with neither side holding a clear advantage.
Entering the inner sanctums the final die are cast and a mighty, albeit very localized, battle ensues. The quickly learned druid blasts away a cylindrical arena of debris and the lowbies are silenced instantaneously. Leaving the Lord and his Lieutenants. Charging the rogue and preventing him loosing a ravaging owlbear leans the fight in our heroes favour. However some nasty sneaky ranged attacks from the Lord quickly wipe smug looks from their faces.
Luckily the party have the advantage of ‘Most Standout Magic in a Short Campaign’ nominations. So through magic healing, missiles and Bull Strength the group slowly batter down their opponents. Once one of them sees what is just and joins the fight against the bandits the end comes all to soon. The Stag Lord is no more..
As well as the new found loot, the party find themselves with a workable fortified base and the assistance of a fallen Paladin. One who is willing to atone for his past misdeeds and guard the newly reborn temple a close distance away. Luckily for Roache he accepts the offer for if his tendency to violate first and ask questions later came through the Elf was going to colour spray his ass. Which would have probably proven to be ineffective but at least there would be pretty rainbow in this otherwise gloomy night.
All that stands in their way of total loot freedom is a crazy old man in the dungeon below..

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