Annals of Aldamere

Shultze Gungmarra's dream

As is often true, amorous feelings conjure fleeting images of the past for Gungmarra. Die Shultze recalls a time before the burdens she bore could be seen so readily in her bearing and visage. Like most, her mind hearkens back to an earlier self, the earlier self, beholden to present circumstances, demanding explanation. “How did it come to this?!”

It begins with his face. A handsome, young man’s face, lit up with kindness and just a hint of mischief; exaggerated by the intensity of a young woman’s adoration and love. Overwhelming, Feverish intensity, flashes appear of dalliances in the woods and the garden, thoughts of marriage – everything would change for her! His voice in the dark calling “Marra, Marra” in passion, the lightness of his touch and her giddiness at being “chosen”. Fervent, desperate belief in her chances at a happy life, a better life fade into a stark image of him, Traugott Raubenschwartz, armored and mounted, riding off to war. Overwhelming, the feeling of drowning, terror of him dying, being maimed, finding another woman. For a moment we are alone with her realization: “I will never escape father!”

“He came back wrong!” screamed into our mind! Raubenschwartz the romantic, Raubenschwartz the idealist, who promised marriage, despite the disparity of their births, despite his Mother’s wishes. He was the young lord, he would make her his bride. GONE! In his place was a broken man, an angry man, a man filled with loathing for his station and his former self. At first he sought solace in her, but she could not provide it. Her dreams were still those of a young woman. He was her prince and he would save her from everything by making her his bride, his princess. Where before he saw her love, now he saw only greed, of using him to gain station, of her family’s reputation. Flashes of grief, pain, memories of weeping, nude, on the cold stone floor of his chamber as he looked upon her with disdain. Her swollen cheek the smallest part of the pain that overtook her hope and drowned it forever. A final sundering of love.

She would become what he accused her of. Her family was wealthy and sought to improve their own station through her marriage. Flashes of conversation with an ugly, fat, bearded old man, his blouse stained as he licks his fingers free of grease. Her father. He speaks of “marriageable age” and “making the most of our claim.” Her family seeking to be, once more, noble in name as well as money. She bent to father’s will.

For a “young women with ambition”, there were parties. Her beauty was her family’s only hope at rising once more amongst the ranks of the quality. Reeling through her mind; an endless series of balls and courtly dancing, of jewels and jealousy. She dressed like one of them but was not. Her gown and carefully taught manners were no shield for the cruelty of those who saw themselves above her, who would not even deign to elevate her to the level of rival.

She remembers an invitation, sealed with the crest of Freiherr Vornhard von Heftig, the winged truncheon. Her father opened it, as he did all her correspondence. We feel her trepidation at the thought of the Baron and his secluded estate and the rumors of the fêtes held there, of parties lasting weeks and unexplained disappearances. She remembers clearly her father’s face lit up with joy and greed. “Finally,” said he, “our time has come.” For a moment she let herself believe it might be true, that all those nights dancing and pretending at happiness might come to an end, that the Baron’s approval would lead to courtship and marriage, and she could finally rest.

Castle von Heftig looms in her memory. A foreboding dark gray edifice, shrouded in gloom. Within it’s walls she would become lost. She seems helpless but to relive these memories.

The grand ball began as they do. Nobles entering as late as they might dare and being grandly announced to those in attendance, their various titles growing increasingly elaborate as time wears on. Then dancing, dining, conversation and drink. More drink and stronger than she was accustomed. Everything blurs after. A whirlwind of pretty, painted faces, talking and laughing and then leering. Their painted visages becoming somehow savage and feral. A vague air of menace permeates the house and she realizes she is locked in with these creatures! They’re all around her, eating each other, rutting, screaming, tearing each other apart in their frenzy! The floor is thick with their blood and …fluids. All thoughts of bettering herself disappear and she flees, desperately searching for a quiet room to escape them. She finds a tiny room with a small table, some overstuffed chairs and bookshelves lining the walls as well as a dressing screen and behind it, a small bed. She sleeps there for a time.

She is awoken by their grunts and screams. Peering from behind the screen, her fear keeping her quiet, she sees them again as they are, the drugged drink having passed from her. A group, three men and two women are engaged in something other than love atop the small table and chairs in the room. There is passion, there is ecstasy and there is pain and blood. Her mind cannot reconcile the things they do with what she knows of intimacy. After it is over, the two women and the youngest of the men left the room in peace, apparently pleased with what had transpired. She recognized them from some of the parties she had attended, but couldn’t quite recall their names. The other two men, she certainly knew. The eldest was the baron himself, imposing and mysterious in dark velvet. The younger man is Ritter Welfrich Luftzugger, a knight who had acquitted himself well in the war but terribly as a lord. He was a bit of a laughing stock when he was out of sword range of his peers. He did not seem funny at the moment as he slowly dressed, wiping languidly at the splatters of someone else’s blood covering his chest and neck.

Baron von Heftig pours them both a brandy and the two men begin to talk quietly, conspiratorially. Marra cannot make out much, something about “land counting for nothing,” “perversion of tradition,” “no appreciation for the way things are meant to be done” and “east… helping to take back what was always ours.” The baron, seemingly growing bored by this, glances away from Luftzugger and toward the screen. Marra stumbles backward in shock, gasping and making quite a clamor in her haste. A grinning Baron von Heftig rounds the corner. “We have ourselves a little spy, Welfrich. Little in every way. This is the lovely common girl I was telling you about. Her father has such aspirations for her beauty, trifling though it is. He has tirelessly campaigned to have her invited to one of my little parties. After seeing her at Heinrich’s quaint affair, I decided to humor the vulgar man’s request. Sadly though, she has been missing all evening. I had so hoped to get to know her. It seems I will get my chance." Quick as lightning, his hand darts into his robes and produces a cruel looking cudgel. As she is brained by it she can’t help thinking how very much it resembles his family crest.

She awakes to a panorama. The forests and hills surrounding his estate spread out before her as far as the eye can see. She becomes aware of many things at once. The cold stone pressed against her breast and the view tells her that she is bound by her wrists to the stone railing of a balcony at the top of the highest tower of the estate. She is naked and she is not alone. She is being entered, invaded by a vicious presence behind her. It goes about it’s business almost silently for what seems like years; the occasional grunt the only reminder that this is being done to her by another person, not some silent embodiment of the stone to which she is so cruelly bound. She quietly weeps as it happens and tries to imagine herself down amongst the trees in a carriage, riding for home.

After it is finished her bonds are cut and she is wheeled about to see the baron, wearing the same velvet robes, leering at her triumphantly. “You should have known your place here, little Marra. You should have understood why someone like you would be invited here. You were to entertain, to serve, to worship at the feet of your betters that you might emerge from this improved like the little butterfly. Instead you skulked about like a common thief and spied upon the only person kind enough to entertain your family’s vulgar grasping. Had you played your roll, you could have left here with my good word and married, perhaps, some lowly, landless Ritter. Your children would have been titled, your name lifted from the common muck of your grandfather’s folly. Instead you have listened to secrets not meant for you, now what do you think will happen?”

Weeping, Marra pleads, claims ignorance of the conversation, says she has been punished enough, and swears never to speak of any of it again. His amusement only seems to increase. “Punished? You have been given a gift, you have been touched by one graced with nobility and you call it punishment? It is sad indeed that your family has hung all their pathetic hopes upon such a mewling wretch. You are right about one thing though, little caterpillar, you will never speak of it to any one, ever. Now fly, if you can!” In one fluid movement he charges forward, reaching down to grasp her by her ankles and standing and as he does lifting her up and over the railing. She falls, conscious the whole time. She feels it as her neck strikes the wing of a stone cherub on the way down, shattering in a unbearable crack. She feels it as her belly is impaled on the upturned branches of a gnarled old ironwood. Only after she suffers these does oblivion come.

She awakens, sometime later, to the warmth of another’s embrace. Panic comes, but quickly dissipates. Her senses soothed by the motherly presence that surrounds her. She feels soft linen beneath her cheek and smells sweet wildflowers, smells of childhood, of safety. She turns to see a face not unlike her own mother before her passing, wise and full of care and kindness, but also sad. She begins to cry and is startled by the sounds she makes, deeper and fuller and somehow stronger than she was before. The woman hushes her, “Time for weeping is done sweet child, innocence is fled. There can be none of that for those such as us. I am Aud, some might call me Saint Aud, but they would be wrong. I care for my own, and never has there been one more deserving of my care, little Gungmarra.” Her full name, for the first time since her mother’s passing she hears her full name!

Gungmarra feels the truth in her words and begins to feel the changes wrought in her own body. Desperate to know what has become of her and why she isn’t dead she flails herself up from Aud’s lap and staggers through a break in the trees toward the sound of water – a stream running into a tiny pond. She sinks to her knees at the shore, gasping. She is wholly changed, where before she was wispy and frail she is now stout and barrel shaped and completely enormous. Her skin is thick and gnarled like the Oak that impaled her, nowhere so much as her belly. She scarcely appears female. Her head is cocked at a strange angle, her neck bent away from the center of her now massive form. It gives her a look of constant skepticism. At seeing her own appearance in the stream she is so overcome with joy she begins to weep. “Now they will all stay away… And if they do not, I will make them.”

“Most will stay away,” says Aud from behind her, “but not all. A great time of change for you will be heralded by one such as will not. It will show great interest in you and you will know the time for revenge, if you still desire it, will be upon you. It is good that you see these gifts for what they are, Gungmarra. Use them well and you can make a good life for yourself, apart from all of this misery.” As St. Aud’s voice fades amongst the trees, she feels the truth in them and for the first time since her love’s betrayal, she feels hope.

Aud’s voice, almost imperceptible, drifts through the branches one last time, “…also avoid rabbits, they’re cute and can be delicious, but it’s never worth it. Never… worth… it…” Gungmarra blinks in confusion and sets off into the forest.

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Thorne's field notes - 2/25/15

Two different styles of handwriting on the page:

Chezza

Erasmus

Following the tainted groundwater to it’s eventual destination, we discovered a filth-laden bowl surrounded by a copse of dead trees. It should surprise no one to discover that this is where the Beast-men had chosen to go to ground.
Beasts seem to have affinity for, or remarkable capacity to disregard foulness. Possible instinctive behavior? Akin to hunting dogs/wolves cloaking scent by rolling in found rot. Found corpse of initial Goat-man hanging from tree – crudely, partially flayed. Punishment for leading us to them? Sacrifice to deity to aid their escape? Possibly both. Discovered various “nests”, tangles of rags and furs where they sleep. Located Shaman’s area of camp – discovered 4 items in a bundle:

  1. Scuffed tin flask – liquid inside: Sharp, mint – once made someone angry.
  2. Decorative copper disk w/ leather strap – possibly amulet or arm accessory.
  3. Hollow Gourd w/ stopper – Mixing vessel containing poison.
  4. Leather wallet cont. organic paste – beginnings of crude poultice.

Spirit detected lurking near the terminus of senses. General feeling of seething rage. Possibly one of the Goat-men. Most likely the Shaman. Our act stealing his mana could inspire unquiet spirit manifestation.
From his perspective, It was essentially rape followed by murder. We stole what made him special and then dispatched him with no greater difficulty than a child would present. I would be “unquiet” as well, were I he.

Gabriel led us from the charming shit-lake highlands into a forested lowland area. Ahead we beheld a charming cacophony: the sounds of what we presumed was one of the last remaining Goat-men shrieking in agony. It was rather cathartic after the day’s slog.
Screams a mix of caprine and hominid vocalizations. After investigating tracks, Gabriel believes some form of giant captured a Goat-man and slaughtered, possibly ate. G scouts ahead, encounters the creature. Apparently a Hill troll. 10 ft. tall, extremely hirsute hominid, walks with a hunch, enlarged cranium w/ bulbous, protruding nose and comparatively long arms. Presumably utilizes smell to hunt prey which includes other, smaller bipeds. Adorned with wooden nostril piercing and rough bison pelt – very stained. We chose to distance ourselves from it. Pity.

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Nothing like being woken up by narrowly being missed by a fucking bolder. The damned troll found us despite the cold camp. Still, we relish the opportunity to observe the supernatural any time it is presented. I’m not convinced that trolls qualify, but Chezza is quite chuffed by it all.
The creature initiated it’s attempt to capture us with a bolder toss. Appears to be preferred method of attack. It may have assembled a pile of stones before initiating conflict. When confronted at close range, switched from throwing to attempting to batter us with held stones. It possessed language, although none of us speak it. It knew a smattering of Hrond, enough to threaten and cajole. Creature initiated flight after receiving grievous injuries. Land speed was such that giving chase would have been imprudent. It did not return.

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The Wild Goat Chase
Ser Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel

Having taken a moment to recover and search the bodies of the leader, shaman, and the other goatkin felled in the clearing, the party pressed on to find the source of the stench. It was the goatkin camp that that two fleeing goatkin had quickly tossed as they retreated further down the valley. Calling it a camp is a bit generous since it was essentially a sewer with some bedding in it. The shaman’s bedding, however, turned up some strange items of interest to our Chirurg: a tin flask of some minty liquid, a stoppered gourd with some foul perhaps poison, a leather bundle with some herbal paste, and a cloth bundle with a strange copper relic. The camp also contained the tortured and desecrated remains of the goatkin we had tracked to the outskirts of Albugang, perhaps being made an example of for having revealed their presence.

Setting fire the remains of the camp, the party retreated up to the ridge above the valley for a cold night at least away from the filth of the brimstone spring and the haunting spirits by the lake. Some shade was in the area, perhaps the spirit of the goatkin shaman, but it never made itself known to any but Thorne and Gretta.

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The next morning, Gabriel and the hound Borz picked up the trail of the fleeing goatkin which lead deeper into the valley. After a full days tracking, a hill troll awaiting game killed one of the goatkin while the other fleed for it’s miserable life. Backing up a bit for the night, the hill troll came up on the party to try to quickly dispatch a helpless victim, but was greeted with torches and missile fire, The troll was able to escape into the darkness, but had been thoroughly discouraged by the lack of an easy meal. The skirmish did leave Ser Marcel’s armor in poor shape, and Olis was quite annoyed at being unable to put the beast down for good.

Once again picking up the trail of the remaining goatkin, the party followed it as it meandered with seemingly little purpose of direction—perhaps because it lacked any kind of guideance with it’s tactical and spiritual leaders dead. Rather than continue the seemingly fruitless pursuit of the lone creature, the party set off in the direction of the local village of Winnownorg.

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Thorne's field notes from 2/17/15
Charl and the Beast-men

02/18

Two separate styles of handwriting on the page.
Regular = Erasmus
Italics = Chezza

“Charl”
We met a curious “priest” called Charl. According to my fellows, Charl presented as female on their previous meeting and male during my conversation. “He” hides “his” face and most of his body in robes. Charl is very forthcoming and agreeable to my curiosity about “his” condition. Claims to be cursed by witch’s death curse. He claims to have suffered from this malady since well before I was born. He seems to understand the nature of our unique condition and even offered to “cure” it. We assured him it was ideal. Subject Possesses protean qualities – changes form randomly yet retains personality if not vocal characteristics. Time in form is indeterminate. Shifts in anatomy include specific environmental adaptations of near-human bipeds such as aquatic “merfolk”. Happened when near native habitat of said creatures. Possible Therianthrope but claims no mental command of ability. Mastery over “curse” possible with mental exploration and conditioning? If time permits, would like to return and explore more thoroughly.

Of note:
Despite Hearing entire conversation btwn. group and Charl, Marcel believes them two separate entities – further evidence of mental occlusion from ring event. Must study further.

Beast-men

Said to serve “3 gods”.
Ragnaglar – god of madness
Malia – god of disease
Thedd – god of rape and mother/father of beasts

According to Charl, any animal a beast-man mates with will bear it’s offspring. Offspring often has characteristics of both parent beast-man and other parent. Also capable of having offspring just amongst themselves. Would be of interest to discover how many disparate genetic “sources” could be combined into one entity.

We Travel back through the bowl containing the “haunted” island and curious ruins through the cleft to the East. Companions have a dread of all things Easterly – “evil” “unnatural”. We Haven’t traveled further East than home. Monstrous things are said to come from there.

Must try and steer travels in that direction – further opportunity to study anomalous events and entities. On downslope from bowl ground we enter a copse of dead trees – appear to have been killed by disease. Ground is saturated, water is brackish – appears to be coming from somewhere ups lope. Gabriel investigates, finds a sulfurous stream trickling from the rock. Prob. killed trees. Detect a foul stench from further East. The dog discovers a mutilated corpse hanging from a tree, tied with a rope. Curious, why is it there?

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Malodorous scent was musk from a group of goat-men who ambushed group. Capable of using tools, weapons. Employed bows and spears – both roughly crafted, assume by their hands. Lead by physically imposing specimen. Excellent with bow. Also by Shaman, utilizing minor eldritch abilities. All specimens quite resilient. Shaman possessed “mana” – was able to siphon. Internal anatomy of goat-men consistent with aspects of both caprine and hominid anatomy – apparently a harmonious amalgamation of such. Would be interested to study physiological effects on “victim-parent” of beast-man offspring. Also to observe offspring brought to term and birthing process.

You are alone in that, sweet sister. The group seemed rather organized. Their leader continuously barking orders and reacting to our tactics quite intelligently. In the end, we won because we overpowered them, not because of superior intellect or tactics. I’m aware these creatures are called evil and reviled by the folk of Albugang but remain as of yet unconvinced. They seem a comparatively primitive, rather aggressive, highly adaptable humanoid race. I am in no hurry to murder more of them. It would be of great interest to observe their behavior when not interacting with outsiders. Do they build structures? Are they nomadic or do they have a village of some sort? How do they organize outside of these hunting parties? It was mentioned by Charl that they are rumored to have some sort of King. What are their religious practices when worshiping their three gods? Much remains to be learned of these creatures.

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The Carcass in the Clearing
Ser Marcel, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel

In the morning before setting off from Albugang, Gretta and Thorne spent some time discussing the Mysteries of the Fourth Wall with Priest Charl, who turns out to have been afflicted with some witch’s death curse forever to change form. The slight woman of the day before was no longer to be found, and instead a middle-aged man of some girth greeted us for the planned services. It took Ser Marcel some time to catch up with the odd happenings, although he brushed it off as some further queerness of the village that was of no matter.

Setting off on the trail of the beast man (known to the locals as ‘goatkin’) in the company of the hound, Barlz, the party retraced their path once again back to lake with it’s queer ruins, and camped in the eaves of the forest before crossing the eastern gap. Stories of the goatkin’s dark trio of gods of madness, disease, and rape made for uneasy sleep, although the group did take care to rest far from the restless spirits closer to the water.

Crossing into a valley on the other side, Thorne noted some strange scent—perhaps the one that the hound was tracking—and Gabriel found a sulfurous spring which had been poisoning the forest in that area. Scouting carefully further into the blighted wood, the party came upon the disturbing sight of some animal hung up in the tree. The strangeness of the sight distracted most everyone as they were set upon by a band of these goatskin. A fierce fight that staggered Ser numerous times ended with the slaying of the leader, a shaman, and one of the lesser goatskin while a few others slipped off back to their camp. Barlz proved a fierce fighter but was grievously wounded by the leader and saved by Gabriel’s healers kit.

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The Bovine and the Beast
Olis, Marcel, Gabriel, Gretta

The tracks discovered by Olis appeared to be those of a lone beast man, something that our woodwarde has not seen before—in point of fact, the woodwarde had run into a number of previously legendary things on his travels with Ser Mercel, and was wanting to return to his home sooner than later. The group followed the trail towards the lake, with Gretta trailing a bit distracted by another chunk of nearby Worlstone.

After arriving on the edge of the lake, the beast turned away and headed away towards the village of Albugang. Since that lay more than a day away, the group headed around the lake to an area of thick reeds revealing the location of a submerged and broken road leading out to the island. With the night falling, the Knight’s entourage set camp and watch to look for signs of brigands out on the lake.

By the wee hours of the morning, it was clear that there were no force of a robber baron hidden in the area, but that it was an unquieted, haunted place leaving Gretta particularly uncomfortable. Strange lights on the island demanded to be checked out, so on the morn the group forded across the shallows. Gretta, perhaps still shaken from a difficult night, fell deftly into the chilly waters. Gabriel was able to quickly recover her from get her safely to the island, and set up a warming fire quickly.

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Exploring the island, Ser disturbed the rest of some apparition which took umbrage to his rearrangement of the ruins—themselves seemingly slightly better preserved than those on the shore, and made of more Worlstone which Gretta felt may have been chosen for it’s warding properties. With the power of the word of Thesme and the might of Ser’s arm, the spirit was dispersed and the group departed the island lest they rouse more restless spirits.

Having found no signs of brigands at either of our first two leads, Ser decided to track down the beast man should it be a sign of some further trouble, or—as those in Ubratsweiler indicated—some sure sign of heresy. Travelling some ways through the woods, we discovered an agitated crofter concerned over his even more agitated livestock. Tracks indicated that the beast man likely stayed a night in the barn engaging in some unspeakable abuse. Taking our leave of the farmer, the tracks lead off again to a bramble which the group flushed the creature out of with our approach. Gabriel was able to wound it, but it’s swift inhuman legs made a chase fruitless.

Having pushed it back away towards the lake, the group headed on to the village of Albugang, which turned out to be little more than a crossroads in the center of far flung farms. Greeted by Elder Matriz, Ser and his men were taken to an ancient amphitheater that served as the local kirche, looked over by Priest Sharl.

After some discussion with the Elder and the Priest, it was decided that Ser would track down the beast man to see if it was in fact a scout for some larger force—the village had some history with invitations from these creatures previously—in exchange for Sharl’s divining more about his mission and the location of the robber baron’s men. The woodwarde was dispatched to return home, and preparations were made to set off again after services of Thesme were rendered.

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Fell woods, dark caves, and burning lakes
Ser Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel

Ser Marcel stood first watch from Compline bell to midnight, while the rest of his companions bedded down in the adjoining room. At midnight, Gabriel relieved him, but given they were in a well-kept inn he did so mostly to humor his lord. He dutiful kept his post, passing the hours refreshing his memory of lesser-known Solaren chants until Gretta took over around Nocturns. Somewhere in the early hours, Thorne returned from die Schultze’s tender embraces looking rather worn for wear.

At daybreak, the woodwarde arrived to speak with Ser, and proposed three likely locations in the area where a band of brigands might hold up. While mapping out the locations, Thorne shared what seemed a preternatural understanding of the local vassal lords who could be considered suspects in the matter of the Robber Baron: Lord Rabenschwitzer also known as “The Black Crow”, an embittered Knight return from the Chumac Cruades; Van Heftzig; and Baron Luftzeiger.

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After some discussion, the woodwarde was employed as a local guide to bring us to the nearest locale, the “Haunted Hermitage”. There was some initial skepticism that it was merely a local superstition—given that hermits by their nature are often viewed with equal part reverence and fear—, yet Ser and his entourage quickly gathered forage. Having a quick stop at the Kirche for prayers, our scholars found the name of Von Heftzig in the records and made a few notes about his lineage and age. Shortly thereafter, they set off by way of a local game trail.

Having left the mounts behind in Ansloh. the travel was harsh but making good progress until deep in the forest the woodwarde spotted a Wood Golem near the path. Gabriel and the woodwarde advised to backtrack and give the erratic and dangerous creature a wide-berth. A hasty fording of the river lead to a chilly night along the river before pressing on the next day to arrive at the foot of the cliffs where the hermitage was to be found.

Having climbed for some hours to the cave, it was quickly apparent that it was not home to brigands or even a hermit, but it was certainly home to something unseen and malevolent. There were no particular clues within the cave save for disturbing writing in Old Hrondene at the rear. The party wasted no time in starting their decent, and found the likely remains of the old hermit tossed down the hillside—be it by accident, some fell deed, or in a moment of clarity seeking to escape the horrors of possession. Olis thought to gather what he could to be interred with some propriety and reverent words by Gabriel, a restless night passed quickly and far too quietly. Thorne and Gretta went to some lengths to insist we stay close to the campfire while they lit candles and scribbled in the dirt much of the evening.

As early as could be mustered, Ser and his companions decided to strike north to investigate the ruins near a lake that could be a promising and fortified hideout for brigands. The terrain was known to the woodwarde, but not commonly travelled save to visit a village across the pass. Passing up a chance to hunt a boar, the group crested the ridge to see the lake settled in a valley set within a ring of mountains and filled with a heavy range of forest. Towards the base of the ridge, there were the remains of many foundations of houses abandoned long ago. With some investigation, it seemed that the down-slope side of the stones seemed to bare signs of some great conflagration.

Olis spotted the tracks of some strange unknown beast as well, leading deeper into the forest towards the lake and it’s islands…

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A tale of fay forests, stout wood, and strong women
Ser Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel

Before continuing on from the village of Ubrutswellen, Ser Marcel and his entourage made note of the odd stonemasonry in the Inn’s basement where there seemed a mysterious connection between the whorlstone of Ser’s ring, a few odd bricks, and a Relic of Saint Abinu known as the Marlstone. Then making a dutiful stop at the Kirche, the party paid heed to a sermon on the Virtues of Hermitage—save Olis who looked to the safety of the mounts and his sanity. In the midst of the delivery of the Word, Thorne’s and Pater Heino’s interest was drawn to some disturbance in the priest’s residence, and upon the conclusion of the service Ser was encouraged to make haste. After a brief and earnest discussion of the matter while making preparations for the road, Gabriel clarified that the issue was of no further concern lest we pry into the mans’ privates… er.. private matters. Invocations of Saint Cialis the Stout where perhaps heard in the distance as Ser and his men left for Ansloh.

The travel on the lonely road was uneventful, with Gabriel urging them beyond an area of the forest that appeared to be under some blessing be it of Saint Eamon, a fay lord, or merely a strangeness in the woods.

Arriving at Ansloh, the village proved to be a prosperous center well positioned and industrious, boasting a fine lumber mill and related craftsfolk. The local inn, the Wulf and Stäg, was a shrine to the recent Crusade against the Jahesse established by a retired knight, a former Ser Kelvic. Warmly greeted, Ser Marcel seemed a little harried and interested in turning in for the night and making an early day of it. The battle-worn innkeep and die Schultze Gunmarra—a force of nature herself—conferred what was known of the brigand’s attacks, particularly their targeting of several key shipments of coin for the local paymaster.

Ser Marcel and most of rest of the party turned in with the plan of leaving upon the morn to visit a local woodwarde, Ernel, at his cabin in the hopes of learning the local places in the rough lands that a Robber Baron might hide his bounty and his men. Ser was concerned that some local agents of the Robber Baron would likely make an attempt on his person that night, so a watch was set as a precaution. It was thus that Thorne was last seen in the company of die Schultze who was keen on making the best of the evening—Gretta on the other hand slept quite soundly.

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The warmest inn in winter
Olis, Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Gretta

With the return of “His Nibbs”, the Knight Marcel’s men had been found to have not been entirely idle in his absence by having dealt with some bandits on the road. Ser Knight was promptly paid the bounty of 10 silver pfennigs a head for their efforts—after all, such sum of coin would only cause trouble if given to a gaggle of commoners without their lord about to keep them in line.

While preparing to embark upon a new errant mission for the Bishop to put down bandits harassing pilgrims on the road from Onslo to Röttes, the party spoke to a number of individuals about town. Not much of direct relevance was discovered of the Robber Baron in question, but they did hear rumors of the Tarn Helm, a magic object of note in the area for which the Luger Bank offered a reward.

In an unrelated matter, a glover in Hätmandorf wanted Ser to settle some minor Guild matter elsewhere in Leislau which did not strike him as proper Knight Errant business—despite some fierce desire in our erstwhile librarian for the fine wares on display.

On the morn, the Knight and his entourage set off on the road to Onslo. The travel was uneventful save a brief encounter with “Fay Forest Trolls” which turned out to be bison.

Arriving at the village of Ubrutswellen putting up for the night at the Inn, the party spent the evening listening to fine music, ginning up the prejudices of the locals, and examining the strange Idol of Central Heating.

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