Kingmaker Adventure Path

24th of Arodus, 4711

We returned to Dhunmoor. A crowd had gathered in the central courtyard. A well groomed man, adorned in silks inlaid with gold trim, addressed the crowd. His voice washed over them.

As we approached, his words reached out to us. He spoke of the misdeeds of our pasts, the shadows of our history. He spoke of neglect for our people. I slipped through the crowd to the man’s rear, when I heard Katara address the man. His double-talk riled Katara to anger. Nix began to speak of our deeds to aid the people as I continued to move unnoticed through the crowd. The man twisted every argument, drawing outrage from the crowd. Wade threatened the man, which he used to draw sympathy from those around. He then turned his speech towards me, of my absence from the capitol, of the name I went by prior to the establishment of Nicenia, of my sins that brought so much death to those I loved and held dear, of those I failed to protect.

“If you have offense with me, then let us discuss them." As I placed my hands on the man’s shoulders, he quivered under my grip.

“Ah, I see you decided to attend after all," he proclaimed, confidently hiding the nerves I loosened. “And just how do you intend to save these people from the retribution that took your tribe? Will you hide in your castle? Will you let them die like so many before?” His words sank deep.

“I have paid dearly for my sins and found atonement in these lands. I patrol the lands and the wilds. I rest among nature and not behind stone and mortar.” I spoke solemnly.

The man continued to twist our words and incite the crowd. Nix attempted to coerce the man to leave, but he refused, proclaiming, “I am the voice of the people! If I am silenced so easily, then who will stand up for their needs?”

Here, Katara steped forward. “Sir, you are hereby under arrest, under the authority of Baroness Katara Hakoda, for misleading the good people of Nicenia, and inciting civil unrest. Warden Akiros Ismort, take this man into custody and confiscate his belongings. Make sure he is fed and generally cared for. A formal trial shall be set before the ruling council at the rising of the next moon.” Katara spoke with an authority I had not noticed before.

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23rd of Arodus, 4711

We continued exploring the lands surrounding this side of the Tuskwater, when a rider quickly approached. He bore the sigil of Dhunmoor.

Baroness Hakoda,” he started with excitement, “your presence is required in Dhunmoor. A man is causing unrest among the people. Councilor Leveton fears that if you do not deal with this swiftly, revolt may occur.”

“Ride to Svetlana. Inform her that we are heading back with all haste.”

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19th of Arodus, 4711

After spending a full moon’s cycle in Dhunmoor tending to matters or our kingdom, we ventured back into the wilderness.

Katara led us to an area consulting a vellum drawing. She said we missed something in one of the areas we explored. Amidst a cluster of mossy rocks was an opening in the earth. From here it is unknown if this cave is a natural occurrence or carved.

As we entered, hundreds of high-pitched squeaks filled the air as a mass of small bats surged forth, swarming us as we entered the mouth of the cave. Alas, we found ourselves ill-equipped to combat such a threat. Torches managed to disperse the pesky creatures enough to allow us passage.

The corridor opened up into a large, eight-sided chamber. Grotesque carvings in four of the walls appeared to breathe as we entered the room, as a light mists rolled out of their carved mouths. Fog swirled around our feet. My arms felt heavy. Katara coughed. Nix searched frantically for a way to stop the mist from filling the chamber. Wade disappeared into the mist. Was Wade whistling? The mist broke and began to disperse. When the fog cleared, Wade was leaned up against one of the walls. That man proves most useful at the oddest of times.

I opened the door to the right of the cave entrance. Bones, clasping rust-pitted axes and clad in yellowed, leather cuirasses, laid atop stone slabs.

“Nothing in here but the dead.” as I turned towards the opposite wall.

The words had barely left me lips when Katara yelled, “They’re MOVING!”

One of them struck me before I could even turn back around. The bone-men seemed resistant to the hacking of my axe, but still I persisted with little effect. Wade’s bolts seemed to pass right through these abominations. Nix’s explosive admixtures proved invaluable as they the walking skeletons from their parts. Focused on the undead before us, a door creaked open behind us. More undead swarmed in behind us. Katara’s sphere of water held some off as she managed to block on doorway for a time. Beaten and bruised, the last skeleton shattered to the floor. We collected ourselves and ventured through the final door.

A massive skeleton of near seven feet laid upon a huge stone slab. Crude wall paintings depicted a man wielding an axe against the fey creatures of lore. The paintings showed the man standing triumphant of all that opposed him. The leather crowned skeleton rose to attack with the full rage depicted on the wall. Weakened from the prior battle, we hefted all we had left at the undead king. The giant skeleton fell dropping its axe at my feet. Picking it up, this weapon holds great power, even in its broken condition.

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18th of Erastus, 4711

We returned to Dhunmoor. My outriders informed me of slaughtered cattle at a farm some miles from the city. As protector of the wilderness of our kingdom, I must attend to such reports. I informed the others that I was going to investigate the farm and would reunite with them later in the day. They agreed and we bid each other farewell.

It was early afternoon by the time I reached the farm. Cattle laid butchered in the fields. I walked up to the house and heard noise coming from the barn. I opened the door to find an aging man with salt and pepper hair at work shuffling bales of hay. He started slightly at the sight of me, but I wished him well and informed him who I was. “Sir, is all well?” I asked.

“Pah! Is all well?! No! I’ve lost most my cattle, and I fear I may be next. And if I survive the night, I may not survive the season. I’ve lost my cattle, my livelihood!" He shook his frail head. “Why have the gods spited me?”

“May I investigate the carcasses as to find the cause or of where the creature might have come from?” I wish this man to know I am here to help.

“Do what you must, but I can already tell you it was wolves did it.” the man said solemnly.

Each cow showed marks of a large beast, indeed like the fangs of a wolf. Fresh tracks litter the area, that resemble a worg or at the least a very large wolf. A single set of tracks led to a thick of trees. No tracks left the thicket. Could the creature still be in there? It is unwise go it alone. If need be. I shall return with the others.

“Sir, I have tracked a creature to a thick of woods not far from your farm. I shall return with aid to hunt the beast.” I informed him.

“Yea, yea… If I’m even still alive by then.” the man said lighting a pipe. “Go, do what you must.”

“You may accompany me to the capital. You will be protected there.” I offered.

“No, my place is here. Should I die, at least I’ll die fighting and not hiding like a coward,” he replied.

It was near nightfall when I returned to Dhunmoor. The others informed me of people found dead within the city. Two nights ago, a young serving girl from our inn named Saki was found dead, having been killed on the way home from her shift at the inn. And last night, a young shepherd boy named Bevin was killed on his way into town from tending his flock all day. Both young and both innocent. My first thoughts of suspicions float to Darkie, but then I remember my findings from earlier that day. Could the attacker be the same creature from the farm? How could this go unnoticed?

We alert Akiros to our findings and we scrounge together what few men we can to bolster the night watch (which has not been much more than the sellswords Kesten brought with him to Oleg’s upon his arrival to the Stolen Lands).

As we stand watch, Wade notices a hulking figure skulking into town. He alerts us with a whistle disguised as a bird call. We converge on his position and find the figure about to pounce on his prey: a merchant busily tending his wares.

Wade released a bolt from his position on the roof, which buried deep into the soft of its shoulder. The beast let out a roaring howl. I emerged to draw the beast’s attention from the woman. It looked like a man covered in fur with the head of a wolf. I have heard of these creatures, men cursed with a disease that causes them to transform under the light of the full moon. A terrible curse and the man may not have been in control of his actions, but I could not consider that in the heat of battle.

The creature fell before me. The beast transformed into a man as the disease withdrew from his body. I brought his body to Jhod for consecration of the corpse and to perform funeral rights. Jhod seemed apprehensive at the sight of this werewolf, but he agreed to help. Has he had an encounter with these beasts before?

Jhod worked through the night to make sure that disease did not revive the man. Should Jhod need aid, I also stayed the night with him. Before rejoining the others, a small coin pouch containing twenty-five platinum was left in the donation box with instruction that farmer Jenkins had lost several head of cattle to the man-beast that now laid in the our castle’s makeshift mortuary.

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16th of Erastus, 4711

We left the forest and came upon a hut. Katara rang a bell at the gate. A white haired woman answered. Though she seemed hesitant and hard of hearing, Katara’s honeyed words persuaded her that we were neither bandits nor monsters. She invited us in.

Katara, Nix, and Wade entered. I pardoned myself to tend the horses. The woman seemed agreeable to this.

After tending to the horses I entered the hut and Katara introduced the woman as her dear friend Elga Verniex and informed me that she was coming with us to Dhunmoor. I was leery, but I trust Katara’s judgment.

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15th of Erastus, 4711

A crazed hermit and his puma attacked us. I know not why. The man’s crazed ramblings were incoherent to our understanding. I killed the cat, but took no joy in killing a man out of his mind. Katara remembered Bokken saying something about a crazy brother. Could this be him? Maybe when return to the north of the Greenbelt, we can take the tarnished locket we found on him.

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14th of Erastus, 4711

We have decided to explore while we look for the trolls. A pair of bears crossed our path. Fiercely territorial, the pair attempted to scare us off. I stood my ground. I have not had a good hunt of my favorite prey for some time. It was Katara that shot the final arrow to slay the second bear. She giggled, and I could do little but laugh with her. I collected the pelts and meat, before we continued on.

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13th of Erastus 4711

Tiressia presented Katara with the six carved wooden coins depicting an adult tree. She told us the words to say and warned us care in placing them.

“Once the words are spoken and the magics released, the trees will not be able to be moved.” Tiressia warned.

We bid our dryad friend farewell and made for Melianse. I hope that she has not come to harm or that Corax has not grown impatient.

Corax paced. His men sat near their axes out away from the waters. They had been preparing the trees for transport. I do not blame them for not wanting to waste good harvested wood, especially once we replace the ones they cut down.

“What took you so long?” Corax demanded.

“Hold your tongue, before I remove it.” Wade threatened. “It is because of you that we are even in this predicament.”

Corax spit, but held his curses to mere grumblings. Nix consulted Melianse in the placement of the tokens. Once positioned, Nix bade Melianse to speak the words over the first token. She complied and as the last syllable cleared her lips, the token trembled and absorbed into the ground. A tiny stem with a leaf protruded from the earth. Before our eyes, the plant formed into a large and sturdy tree in just a matter of moments. Katara, Nix, Wade and I each took a tree and spoke the words. As before, from each token sprang forth a large and sturdy tree. One token left.

“Melianse, you started this gift of life, it is only fitting that you complete the process. Will you speak the final words?” Nix offered.

Deep in thought, “No, not I. Him!” Melianse point at Corax. “He started this by invading my glade and cutting down my trees. Make him do it. Make him say the words.”

“I ain’t doing no such thing, nor can any of you make me.” Corax spouted.

“We’re better than you.” Wade retorted. “Each of us, individually, are better than you. If we all were to strike you at once, your head would explode. Say the words.”

“Oh, alright! I’ll do it!” Corax conceded.

Corax spoke the words as everyone watched with great expectation. The tree grew, throwing Corax back. Embarrassed and humiliated, Corax picked up his axe.

“It’s done. You’ve got your trees and had your laughs. Now give me my me!” Corax demanded.

Melianse kept her word and released the men from her hold over them.

“And now what about me?” Corax asked. “What about my men and our business? We have families to feed and debts to pay! Where shall I mine more lumber?”

Katara stroked her chin for a moment and said, “There is an unsettled grove of coachwood trees just a few miles north of here. You have my permission to finish your lumbering there.”

“And who are you to give me orders, wench?”

“I am Katara Hakoda, the baroness of Nicenia, and your employer.”

Corax became white as a phantom as he realized who we were. Trying to maintain his gruff demeanor, Corax turned and shouted to his fellow loggers. “Load ‘em up, boys! We’re behind schedule as it is!” And they were soon gone.

Melianse allowed us refuge for our troubles and even shared her pool with Katara. She enjoys the water. It makes her feel alive. She seems connected to the water. She is beautiful, the way the water glistens off her skin, the smile the cool freshness gives her. I must control these feelings. She reminds me so much of White Swan. I must not think of my sister in such a manner.

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12th of Erastus 4711

We came into a vibrant area surrounding a large oak. A beautiful woman, with flesh of wood and hair as leaves and blossoms, sat weeping at the edge of a small pool. I know of these creatures. Dryad as they are known in the common tongue, tenders of the wood.

“I recognize you.” she said. “Your heart is of the wilderness. The trees talk of your deeds. You are a protector and a friend of nature and the creatures within. You take only what you need and pray to the old gods. Spirit Elk they call you. I am in need of your help.”

I have not been known to creatures before. “Yes, I am he of who you speak. We are looking for a druid in this area. Do you know of him?”

“I am Tiressia. I believe I am who you seek.” the dryad proclaimed.

“Madam of the wood, we are in great need of tree feather tokens.” Nix explained.

“I have what you seek, but I need a favor of you in return.” she added. “I will give them to you only upon completion of this task.”

“What is it you need, that we might fulfill all we have set out to do?” Nix asked.

“There is an evil spirit in the form of a tree to the south. It is recklessly destroying the forest and I fear it may soon turn its gaze towards this grove or the glade of Melianse.” Her voice waivered.

“On the word of Nix Holystone and the rulers of Nicenia, we shall overcome this threat and return.” Nix proclaimed.

We left Tiressia and head south as instructed. Trees littered the ground, ripped through from the roots. The sky darkens. Lightning flashes across the sky. Ill omen bestows this day.

The forest looks sick, as if a plague has befallen the land. A twisted tree, bearing a long deep scar and dark, blackened roots must have been hit by a bolt from the heavens. There is a faint creak in the air between the roars of thunder. I know these sounds and dismount, axes at the ready. My friends make similar preparations.

Even with warning, the evil spirit we are in search of, slipped our notice. The scarred tree stirred and creaked with each movement. It lunged at us, lashing out with its scythe-like branches. It connected with me, opening me up. Pain wrecks my body. Fear overtakes Katara’s eyes. Flames burst on the creature as Nix throws his volatile mixtures. Bolts seem to do no effect as Wade consistently connected with his crossbow.

Axes were made for cutting down trees and I have two of them! I swing on the tree, each axe cutting deep into it. Flames burst overhead, spreading to the limbs above. The rain does nothing towards putting out the fires. I keep the evil spirit’s focus on me, for as long as I stand, so shall those I fight for. So shall Katara.

Between fire and axe, the tree fell. Katara, Nix, and Wade took their share of the spoils, while I tended my wounds. On a time limit, we returned to Tiressia, where she allowed us shelter and rest.

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11th of Erastus 4711

We continued west. The shade of the forest has done us great favor in blocking the stifling heat that has come about amid the summer months. I pray that Erastus brings forth a bountiful harvest. Shouts break my concentration. The forest forests contain all manners of wild creatures and I should be more aware.

Loggers are in the area.

They have selected well the trees they have chosen to cut. We quicken pace to aid what may have beset these men. The forest opens up to a glade containing a small pool. Trees lay on the ground around the pool and two loggers stand in the edge of the waters guarding a small, green-skinned creature with hair the color of seaweed and decorated with shells. Its head barely peeked the water. An excited lumberjack, full of swagger, cursed at the creature to release his men or he would kill it. Seeing our presence, the creature rose in the waters revealing a female form.

“You have intruded into my realm and cut down my trees. Many of which were close friends. I will not release your men until the trees you have murdered have been replaced.” the nixie spoke softly, but her voice carried with authority and purpose.

“You there!” the logger addressed us. “You look more than capable. Help me kill this creature so my men and I can go back to harvest this rich wood.”

“Calm yourselves.” Katara stated. “I’m sure we can come to an understanding.”

“Who are you? Where are you from?” I demanded of the man.

“Me? I’m Corax, lumberjack from Dhunmoor. Now are you going to help me or not!?” the man stated.

“Why not replant trees for each that you cut down, so the forest may keep in balance?” I asked.

“That would add unnecessary time to our business and the new trees would not be ready for harvest for many years to come.” Corax retorted.

“My little fey friend, what is your name?” Katara asked politely.

“I am Melianse and this is my glade. I have known many of these trees since they were sapling. I have cared and tended them, until this brute came and chopped them down.” the creature explained.

“How may we help rectify this slight against you?” Katara inquired.

“I want a new tree for each one cut down. All six they cut down! And not saplings either. A druid to the west may know of something to aid you.” Melianse was clear in her demands.

“Very well, and upon us doing this for you, you will release these wayward men?”

“Yes. As long as they intend me no harm and leave my lands.” She added.

“You hear that Corax? We will save your men if you leave this area of the woods. If you don’t, I’m very good at tracking. I will find you. I will not be nice. Do you understand me?” I stated solemnly.

“Yea, yea big man, I hears ya. But I have a demand as well. You have three days on we take our men back by force and this creature.”

Demands noted, we did not stick around to rest. We had our task set before us. We traveled further west as instructed, but nightfall halted our advance. There are horrors out there during the day to risk the shadows of night.

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