Kingmaker in Eberron

Book 2 Chapter 25 - The Founding of Tatzlford

Kingdom Stats
Economy +44
Loyalty +38
Stability +41
Control DC: 40
Consumption – 0

Cities
Waterview (Capital) – Large Town
Tatzlford – Small Town

Army Created – (Placed in reserve)
The Valdrik FIrst
Large Size Army, Human Fighter 2
HP: 16
Offense Modifier: +3
Defense Value: 13
Speed: 1
Consumption: 1
Morale: +0

Commander: Ogg
Boons
Flexible Tactics
Bonus Tactic
Loyalty

Army Abilities
False Retreat

Quests Completed
A Lady’s Desire
Hunting the Beast
Troll Slaying
Tomb Treasure

In addition to finding an ancient giant artifact within the old burial cairn, there was also a section of the chambers for a number of ancient elven servants. Picking out a nice piece of elven pottery to bring back with them for Lily Teskertin.

It was once again time to return to the capital to discuss the goings on within the kingdom, share their experiences, and decide what to do next. Another month passed and Valdrik officially founded their second city – Tatzlford. After settling the events of running their kingdom there were three new arrivals within the city.

First was a proud hunter of the lizardfolk tribe they had encountered to the south named Grauk who has come to see what this new civilization is like and act as a representative of his tribe in service to the explorers and rangers under Boudreaux d’Tharashk.

Second was a halfling woman named Lissa d’Jorasco claiming to be a cleric of the sovereign host and personal assistant to Sidney Xavier d’Cannith back in Khorvaire. The gall that the other scions in House Cannith had…asking her to work on AIR CONDITIONERS and STREET LAMPS…completely wasting her talents!

Third was an official notification that there is a noble from Karrnath that was interested in visiting this ‘new kingdom’ and required a place in the castle with a healthy amount of darkness…what with being undead and all. The noble in question had not arrived yet but would be on their way soon…

One month was left until the end of the first year of the existence of Valdrik. One month until the Twelve would be visiting, along with other representatives and interested parties to visit this fledgling nation. Within that time the ruling council had at least one more job to take care of…Candlemere.

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Book 2 Chapter 24 - Glaive of the Darkest Depths

Fresh from their victory of breaking the curse on the Talonquake our heroes decided to continue exploring the eastern part of the Kamelands, following the map they had found underneath the remains of the Scythe so long ago.

The map took our explorers to a series of rolling plains in the Kamelands, and using the signs of the map quickly discovered what seemed to be an ancient burial cairn hidden within one of the nearby hills. It must have been sealed long ago yet the ever changing landscape slowly cracked open the burial mound…without the knowledge of what to look for a passerby would simply pass it by.

Stepping into the cave and striking a light caused thousands of bats to come streaming out of the entrance! Valerie made a ‘strategic retreat’ from the bats taking refuge behind some trees a few hundred feet away with Bastion swiftly following after.

Boudreaux and Sidney slowly dispatched the swarming bats while Cassie helped with some Alchemists Fire. Ogg decided to take refuge inside the cave itself but didn’t continue down the dark tunnels without his companions…the general was smarter than that.

After the bats had dispersed and Valerie shook off the terrible memories of being locked in the attic by her step-sister Roberta that happened to be full of bats, she returned to the rest of the party and the group headed inside. The writings and symbols on the walls of this cairn indicated it was a remnant of the ancient Giant empire, and that this was the resting place of a decorated military soldier – noting that “Their service was honored in this life and the next.”

There were traps against looters of course and a decaying skeleton lying on top of a pressure pad that would trigger not only strength-sapping mist but also acidic mist. Against Valerie and Sidney however the problem was easily solved. The side rooms had skeletal guardians in worn and rusted weapons and armor but these again proved little challenge to our heroes.

The final area of this chamber however is a different story. A large stone sarcophagus lay in the far area of a rectangular room. As Valerie approached it the lid flew off as an undead giant warrior rose to his feet. Bones flew into the room building undead guards to serve the undead warrior as he spoke out in giant that this tomb would remain undefiled…despite all that Valerie was rather focused on the rather tempting lever hidden within the now opened sarcophagus. Unable to help herself she quickly pulled the lever and with a rumble and shudder the back of the room seemed to almost unfold as a series of stairs appeared leading down into the darkness.

The giant warrior roared in anger at the mischievous half-elf, calling out in ancient giant “Not only is one of the slave race so disrespectful…but you have clearly been tainted by the enemy! You will die here!” Having gained the creature’s undivided attention (Valerie and Dox seem to have this in common) the rest of the group rushed in to try and defeat their adversaries.

The undead warrior wielded a broken greataxe and slammed into Valerie. Bastion quickly rushed to her aid with his shield and sacred abilities, causing another snarl from the giant. “You even use the tools of our enemy. Truly you have fallen far from your path elfling.” A warforged? A tool of the ‘enemy’? Interesting…

Despite its best attempts at cutting down the interloping half-elf and warforged it was destroyed and turned to dust…leaving only its weapon and armor behind. Upon careful inspection the greataxe itself was broken from age and wear…but it was still magical. And apparently the enchantment of Bane against Fey creatures was upon it. A curious circumstance, as this warrior would have been laid to rest not with the weapons he carried in life, but those that would suit him best to defending the site from looters.

Continuing down the revealed stairs led deeper and deeper into the earth with numerous traps, all of which were easily disarmed by Sidney and Valerie. Finally they arrived at a wall of black inky darkness covered in motes of starlight. Touching the wall left small ripples across the surface…it was a portal to somewhere but no idea where it would lead…not only that there were magical defenses placed on the wall. The first defense was to repel any undead that would get near it. The second defense was an exorcism effect that would attempt to expel any possessing forces. Oh not to mention passing through this portal would enact a teleportation effect to…well, wherever it goes.

Sidney strode forth through the portal and found himself in a square chamber…somewhere else. In the center of the room was a weapon, a Glaive to be precise that was placed lovingly on a pedestal easily sized for a giant to wield. Picking up the weapon it quickly resized itself to be wielded by a medium sized creature. Sidney attempted to analyze the properties of this clearly magical weapon and had to shield his eyes so he didn’t go blind from the sheer amount of magical power present in this glaive.

Boudreaux paused to think…he’d heard about something like this before…(His player handing over the Plot Twist Card – Beloved Tale which he had since first level) yeah that’s right, he’d heard some of the elven folklore from members of the House Phiarlan Shadow Circus that stopped by the Shadow Marches in his youth!

Long ago during the height of the giant empire there was a great conflict against a powerful enemy. This conflict was long and arduous, and it was the result of this conflict that allowed the elven people to rise up and gain their freedom. But that is another story. Four great and terrible weapons were created to help the giants against their enemies and this was one of them. This is the Glaive of the Darkest Depths an artifact of ancient Xen’drik and one of the four legendary weapons that make up the Destiny Arms!

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Book 2 Chapter 23 - She Who Sings With A Thousand Voices

Within Alanea’s personal lab the archaeologist adventurer had carefully placed the Ring of Protection that had belonged to the Stag Lord and more recently, Valerie d’Lyrandar. Forensic science was still in its early stages though there were already up and coming Inquisitives (mostly trained by her own House Medani) breaking previously cold cases by realizing previously ignored evidence.

Perhaps safely analyzing this single drop of blood that had been encased in the amber of the ring would be the evidence they need to figure out just who was pulling some of these strings behind the scenes. The amber was surgically opened and the drop of blood extracted into a vial. Now that she had access, Alanea opened up her notebook and cast Blood Biography. The spell was favored by Inquisitives though its typical use was to discover the identities of a John Doe, as if it was used on someone still living they possessed an innate opportunity to resist the magic.

(It was at this point that not only did Alanea’s player use the Plot Point Card – Revelation, but Tarvis’ player combined that with another Plot Point Card – Sudden Recollection to provide a +20 Insight Bonus on the next Knowledge skill check…)

As the drop of blood pooled onto her notepad to answer her questions something strange happened. Rather than simply writing out the basic information of “Who are you” and “What are you” the blood began forming line after line of names.

The Hollow Rose
Queen of Forgotten Time
Watcher of Dreams
She Who Sings With A Thousand Voices
The Lady of Silent Screams
Bride of Autumn Night
The Lost Grace
She the Lost
Maven of the Green
Mistress of Whispers

Almost as soon as they were written the page shuddered and folded in on itself quickly aging itself into dust like a weathered leaf in autumn.

Now that they had a clue, it was time to hit the books. Using her Research feat Alanea buried herself in all manner of books relating to the creatures of Thelanis, the First World. All these names could only point to some creature of Fae origin… (And being a Bard she used her Lore Master ability, combined the +20 Insight gave her a massive 56 on her Knowledge Nature check…)

The answer she came to was a paradox. All of these titles pointed to a powerful Fae, something on the level of the Big Bad Wolf if not more powerful – one of the Noble Fae. Rulers, for all intents and purposes, of the plane of Thelanis. But there were absolutely no references to any of these titles found in any official book on the Fae or other planes of existence. This creature was both a powerful Fae but at the same time it apparently did not exist at all. This creature, a living paradox and a mockery of what it means to be a Fae had apparently been granting boons to chosen people within the wilds of Xen’drik for a mysterious purpose.

The Stag Lord had been shown favor as an up and coming warrior that was gathering bandits to his banner, but the growth of his gang had slowed after finding himself diving deeper into the bottle.

Hargulka was gifted protection from Fire and had not only been gathering a number of trolls to create his own country but was far more intelligent than other trolls and based on his troop movements had been avoiding any local areas with a heavy fae population altogether – even at the expense of efficiency.

Then there was the third ring that had been intentionally designed as a cursed item. This Fae patron gave this ring (to either Hargulka directly or to the poor hobgoblin – the details are vague) with the intention of cursing the First Owlbear, Talonquake and cause it to seek out the closest civilization and destroy it.

Sidney mused at this information…perhaps this Fae was granting these gifts with an unforeseen price – one that would lead anyone astray that was trying to organize the wilds of Xen’drik. But what is this end goal? Does it even have one? The Big Bad Wolf was mysterious but more of a douche as far as the council was concerned…but let us table this information for now.

Perhaps there was someone more…local…who could give some more insight on the situation. That Old Beldame seemed like a fairly knowledgable curmudgeonly old woman. And she did seem to like them. Better bring more of those Black Rattlecap mushrooms as a bribe…er, gift. Yeah a gift.

The ruling council save for Cassie, Valerie, and Korin headed out to see the old woman…traveling down the mud-laden path that reached the old shack that was her home on the shores of the Tuskwater lake. Three children were in the distance hovering around the fence of the Old Beldame’s place apparently betting one another to ring the bell hanging from the iron gate.

Dox, ever the playful one shifted herself into a hag sneaking up behind the boy and giving her best creepy cackle which caused the boy to jump, and thus ring the bell at the same time – causing the Scarecrow guardian to belch fire from its pumpkin mouth as the three children ran off screaming back to town shouting “It’s true! It’s true! She is real!” All the while Dox’s smile only grew wider.

An old gravelly voice called from the inside of the hut as the door swung open. The Old Beldame invited them all in for tea (save for Eleanor whose recent growth into Large size forced her to poke her head in through the window) while discussing the nature of their recent kingdom growth. The Old Beldame wasn’t too happy that there were all these new fangled people walking be her home…caravans on occasion, even weary travelers in the night disturbing her peace! The nerve! What happened to some good old peace and quiet? Oh that old snapping turtle? Yes we’ve come to an arrangement so we’re doing fine.

A Fae Lord you say? No…can’t say these names are familiar to me…but I have dealt with powerful fae before. Be. Careful. You think it’s a coincidence these things started happening once you took root out here? Why do you think I live by myself? This place doesn’t like kingdoms. It doesn’t like large gatherings of people. From things like The Traveler’s Curse, and Xen’drik Madness this warped place repels large groups of people. And these…troublemakers, challengers to your throne…the Talonquake attack…these won’t stop. Growing stronger doesn’t make you safer – in face it’s just the opposite. The higher you rise, the more wide spread you become, the threats you face will only become greater. That’s simply the nature of power boy. It never changes.
With these ominous warnings the group thanked the old woman for her time and delicious tea and took their leave.

“That’s alright…it’s time for some afternoon reading anyways.”
The older woman bid the group farewell and shuffled into another room of her home, where a large black tome stood atop a pedestal sealed with a great lock that shook violently as if the book was trying to open itself. “Calm yourself, I know things are changing…”

Later that day…
It was time to deal with The Talonquake. The curse on the ring itself that had affected the creature would re-activate at some point in the future and the creature would return. As it so happened, Cassie had received a new divine gift in the ability to remove curses…but she would have to get close enough to touch the creature, and even then it was not a guarantee it would work.

Time to assemble a group to track it down and make sure Cassie could deliver the spell.

Tarvis, Korin and his new personal assistant the well-dressed Mikmek (from back in Book 1!) volunteered to head back to Hargulka’s lair with a caravan of wagons to retrieve the various materials gathered by the fallen Troll King.

Sidney, Ogg, and Boudreaux quickly signed on to help Cassie.

Valerie however was unsure of what to do. A warforged voice called out from behind her that made her jump. She was used to hearing the thunk-thunk-thunk of metallic steps…not the thud-thud-thud of heavy boots that this one wore.

It was Bastion her newly assigned bodyguard from House Cannith, who had a tray of food with him.

“You seem deep in thought Valerie. It is time for the second meal of the day as all flesh creatures require sustenance to continue functioning. I will join you for lunch.”

Sitting down at a table Valerie made awkward small talk with the strange warforged, who had a working mouth and seemed to be taking great…pleasure? Amusement? …at the act of ‘eating’ alongside her.

“So…do you actually have some sort of…stomach?” Inquired Alanea who had dropped by along with Sidney.

Bastion explained that he did not have a stomach and indeed could not actually taste food – no warforged was capable of that. However he hoped to learn more about what it meant to be alive by mimicking the acts of other living races and enjoying the same things they do as part of their daily routine. That seemed to explain the clothes as well. There was a special compartment added into his body that held onto the food he ‘ate’ and it required being emptied periodically as well as cleaned out to prevent any rotting or bacteria.

“You seem awfully fascinated with fleshy culture…”

“It’s true” the warforged explained in between sips of a fine wine “I began to understand that I was unlike other warforged back during the war. It was our first time on leave from the field and I found myself in a library, looking at a strange book. It was labeled “Everybody Poops”. I returned to my field commander with a five page paper explaining why the theory was incorrect.”

A pleasant lunch was had with Sidney still giving a curious stare at Valerie everytime she wasn’t looking. How had she warranted a letter, penned by THE Merrix d’Cannith no less? Finally, Bastion stood and gathered the empty plates. “It is important to get out and enjoy the weather on occasion. Leaving the city for a bit may be good for your health Valerie – therefore you shall accompany the Talonquake group and I shall come with you. Report to the field commander (Ogg) within a day. You may also have a dessert, but make sure it is no more than 6 ounces.”

Valerie huffed after the warforged left the room…she was the ruler of Valdrik! …she’d get a 7 ounce dessert! That’d show him!

Some days and miles of travel later…

The tracking skills of Boudreaux had analyzed multiple entries into the Talonquake’s lair. While Korin had managed to escape from the front entrance…there in fact was a back entrance on the opposite side of the hill that could lead into the ceiling of the area. Plans were made and debated as the back entrance was apparently home to thousands of spiders so…yeah not going in there. Finally Valerie had enough of waiting and with some Invisibility scrolls from Sidney the ruler scouted out the inside of the cave.

There were multiple smaller side paths in the cave that were traps…Valerie immediately recognized the large purple man-sized mushrooms called ‘Shriekers’ for their extremely loud annoying noise they make whenever something gets within a certain radius of it – leading it to have a symbiotic relationship with predators who have quickly learned the noise of a Shrieker means there is food nearby.

Straight ahead would be the only path. Taking Cassie by the hand they quietly made their way to the sleeping form of Talonquake. Now was the time.

Cassie concentrated…called upon her mysterious divine gifts and attempted to break the curse on this creature…with success! The sleeping earthquake would have its own mind from now on. Our heroes may have to deal with it again in the future but for now it could rest once more.

(As a personal note I want to congratulate my players for approaching a dangerous situation with patience and intelligence to determine their best way to take care of the problem – and they did. Without waking up Talonquake or running into any of the other dangers of its lair.)

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Book 2 Chapter 22 - Mysterious Benefactor

GM’s Note: Much of this session was spent leveling characters to 7th, after all the XP was calculated up from their previous sessions it came to a whopping 9120xp per character (counting for 5, not ten). This will also take some additional time on my part as many of the characters are picking up the Leadership feat and gaining Cohorts and Followers.

We will begin following our erstwhile Dwarven Companion who had tucked himself safely inside of the feathers of the Talonquake, keeping his stomach from emptying its contents from sheer force of will after the repeated lurching feelings he had over the course of its travel. Finally, after what seemed like days the creature lumbered into darkness and settled into the ground. Cautiously taking a look around Korin d’Kundarak, treasurer of Valdrik realized he was in a large cave of some sort, atop a slumbering Talonquake with a dozen or two extra owlbears simply wandering the local area. There was another great owlbear body in the cavern that had showed evidence of a struggle and death fairly recently. Korin decided it wasn’t worth checking what gender it was.

He also had absolutely no idea where he was.

Slowly and carefully Korin first attempted to remove or damage the metal band on Talonquake’s arm to little success, and then explored the local area discovering a dead body that looked awfully familiar…

It was that Hobgoblin mercenary, the one that was friends with the bandit that they had received a bounty for from Septim and the Coin Lords of Stormreach nearly a year ago. They had captured him and had sent him back to Stormreach to face justice, apparently to little effect. Well the poor sap was dead now. Taking his time to loot the dead hobgoblin of his personal affects (which included a multi-gemmed ring with a strand of hair entwined within it…this would be important later).

More importantly, was a map on the body! It not only clearly indicated his current location, but also had a giant red X on the location of Valdrik/Waterview. Managing to evade the local young owlbears, Korin dashed off into the forest and began his long trek back towards civilization. His meager training at surviving in the wilderness at least guaranteed that he wouldn’t go thirsty or hungry but it was still going to take him days to make sure he didn’t lose his way traveling across the plains, hills and forests.

MEANWHILE!

Our victorious heroes, slayers of Hargulka the Troll King arrived back at their home to find it recovering from a terrible battle. A section of housing and the local tavern had been completely destroyed by the attack (A successful Stability check had managed to reduce the damage to Two areas of the city, rather than 2d4 areas of the city.) The castle, while damaged, was still standing thanks to the quick thinking of our heroes. It would take ¼ of the build cost of the castle to re-build it to its former glory.

Stories were shared and as a ragged Korin managed to be picked up by some farmers and escorted back to the capital, the pieces of the puzzle were slowly analyzed to figure out just what had happened.

First off, it would seem that Hargulka’s “Ace in the Hole” for destroying Valdrik was indeed organizing the Talonquake’s attack on the town. The Troll King had made contact with someone with a shared hatred for the country and gave him the information to not only find the Talonquake but somehow place a mental compulsion on it – as well as go through the trouble of having a suit of Studded Leather Barding made for the monster.
Things didn’t end well for the hobgoblin though – and a letter was still on the body telling the hobgoblin to “take your revenge and satisfy both our desires.”

Sidney analyzed the equipment that Korin had brought back with him from the cave. Everything checked out, save for the ring (told you it would come up again). What would normally be a Ring of Animal Friendship was instead a Ring of Bestial Friendship and was a Cursed item. While it could charm magical beasts the effect would only last for a number of minutes. After that the affected creature would kill the wearer of the ring. Not only that, but a magical compulsion would be laid on the creature – an unnatural hatred for civilization that would make it seek out any bastions of modern living and utterly crush it into dust. Well that explained the strange behavior of the Talonquake during the attack on the town.

Cassie’s Dispel Magic had ended the compulsion – but from what Sidney could figure from the ring a curse like that was powerful and would not stay subdued for long. The Talonquake would return in time, compelled again to attack their city.

Now it was Dox’s turn to add to the mystery. The cursed Ring of Bestial Friendship had one notable feature – a single lock of green-ish hair entwined around it. This item had been intentionally created for a specific purpose, including being cursed. She had seen that same design recently – the Ring of Fire Resistance worn by Hargulka that she had cut off of his hand and then suddenly exploded! She was the only one close enough (besides Eleanor) to get a clear enough look at the piece of jewelry. Whoever had given Hargulka the ring had also made the ring to control Talonquake.

Now it was Valerie’s turn to add to the puzzle. There had been one more ring similar to this they had run across in their travels – and it was being worn by the leader of their country. It had previously belonged to the Stag Lord as a Ring of Protection with a simple strand of hair encased in amber around the metal. Sidney turned his trained eye to analyzing this item now and discovered it too had additional magical properties…
First off it allowed the creator of the ring to Scry on the bearer at any time. Any attempts made to discover or counter this ability would result in the ring exploding. Thankfully, there did not seem to be any wardings against removing the ring which Valerie did very cautiously.

At this point Alanea’s character played the Plot Point Card – Hidden Asset to reveal a bit of evidence that may give them clues as to the creator of the ring – there appeared to be a single drop of blood encased within the ring shaped like a red rose petal. It would take careful inspection and the use of a controlled lab but Alanea was fairly sure she could gain access to the drop of blood (for a planned use of her research spell Blood Biography) using a mix of modern science and medical tools. Take that ancient magic!

Three rings. All magical. All created by the same person. All given to people who had a claim on the Stolen Lands of Xen’drik and had been creating a region for themselves. Someone out there was creating these magic rings and handing them out to people. But for what purpose? And how long had this creator been scrying on the ruling council, if at all?

Thankfully there was some good news in all of this. A messenger from The Twelve arrived the same day bearing news of recent events. The Twelve had been made aware of the recent dangers of rising Troll activity and had placed an official bounty on putting a stop to this menace…which to the messenger’s surprise our heroes had already done so! The limitations of sending information back and forth from Stormreach were becoming more evident every day.

The messenger would send word back to Stormreach that the Trolls and their King had been defeated, and that The Twelve would be sending a reward of 2,000gp per member of the Ruling Council as well as additional support for their kingdom in the form of 10 BP to help their kingdom grow. It would take a week or two to arrive.

Finally, there was a letter for one Valerie d’Lyrandar. The messenger looked around the council chamber to locate the CEO, whom Alanea idly pointed out while not taking her attention away from the ring she was studying. The heavy bootsteps of the messenger moved over to Valerie and presented her with a letter.

“For Valerie d’Lyrandar CEO of the Kingdom of Valdrik.
It has come to our attention that the good people of Cannith West have not been doing their part to ensure the safety of the most important members of this blossoming community. It is with this in mind that we have contracted a bodyguard to begin serving you immediately. This man is a capable guardian that has taken this job of his own free will and it would be a great disservice to both House Cannith and his personal honor if you were to refuse.

Signed, Merrix d’Cannith”

Looking up from the letter to finally get a good look at the messenger Valerie realized there was something off about the boot steps of the man – and it became very clear why. The messenger who introduced himself as Bastion was a Warforged that was wearing clothing! A hat with a feather in it, a ruffled tunic and billowy pants complete with leather boots had muffled the traditional ka-chunk ka-chunk sound of a warforged’s heavy footsteps.
In addition to the manner of dress being odd for their race, Bastion seemed to have additional joints and grooves in his face that allowed for more expressive facial features even to the point of pointing his eyes in different directions and something that could be considered close to cheek bones. Curiouser and curiouser.

“I look forward to getting to know my charge better, and enjoy the three square meals a day required of proper nutrition complete with fruits, vegetables, and acceptable portions of protein.” With that Bastion excused himself to be given a proper place within the castle to be claimed as a room.

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Book 2 Chapter 21 - Talonquake

(GM’s Note. The attack on Valdrik/Waterview was something new to my experience as a GM. I did not want a straightforward combat with the creature – especially as it’s attempting to destroy the city. So I wanted to do something a bit different that also would give the players a chance to take an active role in defending their city.
To implement this I ignored the normal time for “Combat Rounds” to be much more fluid. They could decide where within the kingdom they wanted to be as well as what actions they wanted to take to help the city.)

A great roar/hoot bellowed across the city of Waterview. In moments the claws of the creature smashed into the castle – with a host of Owlbears climbing out of the fur and feathers and running inside to start running amok!

The members of the ruling council still within the city began to organize a counterattack as best they could. Korin rushing through the halls of the castle striking down Owlbears while Alanea was calling for an evacuation of the city with a simultaneous retreat to the inside walls of the castle.

Ogg rallied the troops of the castle to contain the dangers while making his way into the city proper – seeking the temple of the Silver Flame and their archers.

Sidney in the mean time had been making his way up to the top of the castle with a small team of siege engineers and had been firing arrow after massive arrow into the creature’s hide – to varying effect. Ever the inventor however Sidney had also summoned a Furtive Filcher homunculus that leapt onto the giant owlbear’s hide and had transferred a Heat Metal effect onto the armor of the creature. (Oh yes, I forgot to mention that someone had gone through the trouble of creating a massive Studded Leather Barding for the giant owlbear). This also revealed something rather curious – a large metal band around the creature’s left arm.

Cassie had setup a makeshift clinic inside the castle to begin tending to the wounded, which took up her time for the majority of the battle.
Cassie was the one who also realized just what this creature was – the legendary First Owlbear. The Talonquake. The walking natural disaster…able to appear and disappear without a trace while leaving only destruction in its wake. But why here? Why now?

Ogg traveled through town which also had Owlbears swarming through it and found the paladin Mirasandra already making the temple a safe-haven. Archers were placed along the roof doing their best to create safe opportunities for members of the town to make it inside. Collaborating quickly a group of archers following behind Ogg made a direct attack on the creature just as the top of the castle was buckling under the assault of the monster.

Ogg rode past the Talonquake, piercing its leg deeply with a spirited charge as he moved to the side of the creature. A group of silver flame archers met Ogg on the other side of the owlbear that was peppering it with arrows from a distance.
As the Talonquake turned to face its attackers that were trying to lead it away from the castle the creature paused…and slowly turned its head back towards the city despite the obvious threat Ogg and his forces presented. Both Ogg and Sidney realized a second piece of the puzzle at this point, that this creature was under some sort of mental compulsion to attack their city.

With a silent pop the giant owlbear vanished and suddenly reappeard in the middle of their city turning its wrath upon the buildings this time!

Our heroes, save for Cassie who was running her clinic before rushing off to the Silver Flame temple to see if there was a method of breaking enchantment available there, moved to the city proper as they tried to draw the Talonquakes ire away from the city and towards themselves. Precious barrels of ale were taken from Korin’s brewery and rolled down the hill to be smashed under foot and quickly set on fire providing a nice dose of hot foot for the creature.

All around them the familiar faces of people they had met fought throughout the town. Auchs was clubbing owlbears in the streets. Kobolds were leading owlbears into alleyways where they were quickly greeted with overwhelming numbers with pointy spears. Mirasandra was firing arrows and giving orders from atop the temple of the Silver Flame. Kundal the half-orc was wielding a battleaxe to provide more melee support for the traditional archers of the Flame.

The combined attacks of our heroes raised another great bellowing roar/hoot from Talonquake forced its pattern to change again. Raising its arms into the air the first owlbears feathers ruffled and stretched as massive wings spread down from its arms. The flap of its wings sent out powerful gusts of wind that sent people and debris rolling down the streets of Waterview.
(Yes, the First Owlbear can Fly.)

Korin by this point had managed to leap onto Talonquakes body and had been climbing up its body to get closer to that mysterious metal band the Furtive Filcher had found. Cassie had finally arrived at the Silver Flame church and managed to get a scroll of Dispel Magic from them. Rushing close enough to be within range of the spell as well as actually be able to see it (Oracle Curse and all) Cassie drew forth the divine magic within the spell and combined it with her own spiritual prowess before smashing any magical spells that had been placed on the Talonquake.

Talonquake paused as its wings slowed their flapping before landing once more on the ground with a great THUD that shook the ground. Another roar/hoot emitted from the beast as all of the Owlbears within the city stopped and turned to follow their leader. The creature turned and made another silent pop as it disappeared and reappeared within the forest and began lumbering back into the wilds of Xen’drik – the owlbears following swiftly after.

The immediate danger was gone…but the city was still in danger. The fires from the powerful ale of the brewery were spreading, buildings were in the process of collapsing, and many people were still injured and missing.

It wasn’t until a few days later that enough calm and peace had returned to the city that the other members of the ruling council realized they could not find Korin! He must still be…oh god he was still on the Talonquake when it left the city!

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Book 2 Chapter 20 - The Troll Who Would Be King

The troll forces, for all their might were proving to be no match for the martialed forces of the leaders of Valdrik. Our heroes struck down all the Trolls and their vicious hounds that dared cross their path.

Recalling their encounter with Hargulka during the diplomatic meet with the Sootscale kobolds, there were two other lieutenants serving the Troll King – Kargadd the Rock Troll and Nagrundi the Two Headed Troll.

As our heroes finished clearing out the weathered stone building of its guardians Tarvis discovered a hold that had been hollowed out from a stone wall leading further into the darkness of the hill itself – a tunnel but it was hard to determine if the hole had been dug from this side or if something had come through the hill and into this old stone building. Regardless the room was also full of barrels and chests of minor resources – farming implements, carpenters tools, tanned furs, things that would help in any growing community. While it would take several wagon loads to transport all this stuff, it would be of a great help to Valdrik’s people.

Nagrundi was found speaking to himself in a separate room that split off from the path through the hill…the two headed troll barely fit into his ‘room’ standing at a commanding 30 feet tall. Confounded by the invisible and trick playing Dox and finding the commanding words of Tarvis irritating, the two heads agreed that killing these intruders and adding their heads to his ‘magic circle’ (that was really just a circle on the ground surrounded by various heads that Nagrundi had collected).

Despite his prodigious strength – gouging handfuls of earth and rock from the ground as his claws attempted to kill the invaders, the combined might of our heroes silenced the two headed troll.

Kargadd suffered a similar fate – overwhelmed and outmaneuvered in the small area of the larder that the rock troll had claimed as his own. The rest of the trolls gathered had been killed or scattered to the winds…that only left one more challenge. Hargulka, the self declared ruler of Xen’drik and inheritor of the ancient Giant Empire.

With purpose the representatives of Valdrik marched into the throne room of the troll king. Standing upon his throne waiting for the invaders was Hargulka, a massive club slung over his shoulder. His throne carved from a massive tree, sitting atop a raised dais of stone boulders gave ample view of the various maps and charts lining the walls of the chamber.

“So you’ve finally arrived. And here, you will die. You are outmatched…and have given up your chance to leave this land peacefully. Let it begin.” Pulling his elegant tie forward Hargulka revealed small baubles attached to the strings. Plucking one off he tossed it into the crowd where it exploded into caustic acid over our heroes.

The battle had begun!

Eleanor, Boudreaux’s faithful southern belle allosaurus charged forward (after a Communal Resist Energy Acid from Boudreaux) and leapt upon the troll king. Hargulka only grinned. “My right to rule has been given to me by the very land itself. It has changed me, transformed me…made me a part of it.” Grabbing his own jaw and pulling it open…the maw unhinged and showed no sign of stopping. Hargulka’s body shimmered softly like a wave passing through a calm lake. Hargulka’s body was…malleable like an ooze of some sort given the shape of a troll. With his mouth widened his hands latched onto Eleanor and dragged her inside of his body where she floated in his semi-transparent flesh. While Eleanor was not slowly dissolving in the acidic body thanks to the Resist Energy she was unfortunately struggling to not drown in the sludgy fluid.

Lucius hung back at a safe distance and knocked his trusty Flaming Burst arrows that had already slain so many trolls today hoping for the same result. While the arrow did indeed find its mark the fire washed over the troll king harmlessly.

Hargulka raised his right hand revealing a glimmering ruby ring. A troll that was seemingly made of acid (and thus immune to it) with a Ring of Fire Resistance, no wonder they called him the King of Trolls! Revealing the source of his magical defense would prove to be his undoing however!

Hargulka smashed and clawed at Alanea and Tarvis wounding both badly while taking blasts of electricity and stabs with a rapier. Boudreaux spat both acid and rolled flames across the battlefield to little avail. Dox waited for the right moment – singing a battle hymn as she charged forward and sliced the Troll Kings finger off! (Using the Plot Twist Card – Broken to sever the trolls finger and destroy his Ring of Fire Resistance) Hargulka stared in disbelief moments before the ring exploded in mid air – burning both Hargulka and Dox in the resulting explosion!

“That…that was a gift! A gift acknowledging my right as king! I’M GOING TO ENJOY KILLING YOU ALL!” With his defense against fire gone and his rage heightened Dox braced herself for the possibility of death before Lucius whistled to gain the trolls attention.

“Ya’ll must not a graduated from Troll College…otherwise ya never woulda shown your hand.” Nocking an arrow and breathing out slowly Lucius fired – impaling the troll king to his own throne with the force of the blow.

Hargulka was dying.

Seemingly unable to hold his physical form the features of the troll king’s face began sliding out of place. The drowning Eleanor slid harmlessly out from the acidic insides and onto the stone floor of the throne room. Still the drooping maw of Hargulka forced a smile as his acidic form pussed and boiled and oozed into the ground and into his very own throne.

“You think you’ve won? No…you’ve already lost. Do you honestly think I would have left the fate of this land to be decided by a fist fight with you? It’s too late…” With a haunting smile the last features of the Troll King Hargulka melted into the wood of his throne – leaving naught but a burnt shadow to mark his passing.

Dox: That’s…that’s not good…we have to get home! Now!
Tarvis: It’s at least a four day ride back to town…whatever’s going on has already happened at this point.

Finally having a moment to survey the room Tarvis also realized that the maps that filled the throne room – they were troop movements. Battle plans. Areas with other small tribes or groups of people were noted – such as the Lizardfolk tribe by the river. The most curious thing however was that any area of the map that had a known fae presence was being completely avoided.

MEANWHILE…!

Sidney wandered the halls of his castle with pride and purpose. Class plans were coming along well and preparation flyers for the year end celebration had finally reached the acceptable level of cuteness (watermarked with a beloved picture of his daughter Deedee of course) when a couple of guards flagged the inventor over near one of the windows.

Guard 1: Sir can you take a look? We think there’s something strange going on outside but we can’t quite make out what it is – if anything.
Guard 2: I’m telling you I see something out there.

Curious, Sidney peered out the window and into the nearby forest. Indeed there seemed to be a shuffling of some kind off in the distance – a trees high branches shifting sending birds scattering. But there was no sensible pattern. There! Again! Some distance from the first disturbance another shifting of the trees. How could something so big move so suddenly and silently?

Before he could quite put the pieces there was a loud FOOM! And Sidney was face to face with the largest owl face he had ever seen in his life, a short few precious inches of glass separating them from one another.

What…the…hell…? An OWL!?

The face leaned back revealing a massive creature with the wings and face of an owl and the body of a bear. The creature hoot/roared and swung a massive talon at the castle! The window shattered from the sound of the creature’s cry as a poor guard Wilhelm screamed as a part of the castle went crashing to the ground.

Valdrik was under attack!

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Book 2 Chapter 19 - Greeting the Neighbors

The conversation with Grigori went about as well as expected, gaining some answers while leaving more questions. The rabble rouser was paid upfront (with a second payment awaiting completion) to sow dissent and chaos in the political landscape of Valdrik by speaking ill of the ruling council.

While Grigori couldn’t confirm who his employer was, since they acted through various agents, he is pretty damn sure it’s someone in the rulership of the ‘neighboring’ kingdom known as Fort Drelev off to the west of here. It was unclear as to whether someone would come to punish Grigori for failing in his mission after this change of heart but that would be another bridge to cross when the time comes…for now things are probably in the clear. It would take some time after all for word to make it back to Drelev that things were calming down…and even longer to determine that the political sabotage had stopped altogether.

Grigori was dismissed and granted permission to stay in Valdrik if he so chose. Now came the time to deal with the other issue. Akiros Ismort was called to see the council the next day who seemed to have little regard for the accusations of drunk and disorderly conduct…no one had been killed after all and not all of the fights had been started by Akiros. The more perceptive members of the council gleamed some information from their talk with him however, by observing his body language there were defining moments in his past that related to a relationship with someone and his personal relationship with Balinor, but those would be subjects for another time.

So, Akiros we’re going to go deal with some trolls. Could be diplomatic, could be physical. Want to come along?

Akiros: “Do I get paid more?”
Sure we can probably give you some extra pay. Maybe a % of whatever we find.
Akiros: “Deal.”

With that the group of Dox, Alanea, Lucius, Boudreaux, and Tarvis along with Akiros headed back out the next day to the location of Hargulka’s lair. The place was naturally hidden, if it weren’t for their insider information it would have been nearly impossible to spot. A simple path leading up a hillside with a shear drop on one side and a rough cliff face on the other were the only defining features of the area. At the top of the area the path turned inward and led to the opening of a great weathered stone building. What might have remained of a doorway had been torn open long ago, and the sounds of giant speak could be heard from inside.

Diplomatic attempts quickly broke down after calling out to the voices inside the stone building and declaring they were “coming to visit their neighbors to the south”. The troll guards quickly realized these were the folks that their lord Hargulka had met with regarding the sootscale kobolds a while back and had been given instructions of how to deal with them…

Trolls and their trollhounds were quickly dispatched however, not able to stand up to the might of the ruling council of Valdrik. Fire, arrows, teeth and blades quickly cut down the first wave of resistance and our heroes made their way deeper into the darkness…

Next time on Kingmaker! The Troll who would be King!

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Book 2 Chapter 18 - Trolls, Trolls Everywhere

Kingdom Stats – Turn 10
Size –
Loyalty –
Economy –
Stability -

Our heroes had returned to Waterview with their impressive loot in tow. An official counting was made and spread amongst the council.

Korin: I’m proud of everything you accomplished, and the impressive amount of information you brought back for the kingdom…but honestly…did you have to leave a note detailing who we are and where to find us?

There was a momentary quiet at the table. Well…it was the courteous thing to do right? And if something came looking for the treasure they would deal with that when the time came. In the meantime there was a blossoming kingdom to run.

Septim ran the council through the minutes and the goings on of the town…
1. the Kobolds were doing well and integration was slow but steady.
2. Munguk the Hill Giant has been staying near the tavern and brewery – working up a tidy bar tab that may become an issue of contention when it’s time to get him to pay up. The current plan is to have him repay that work at one of the sawmills, using his impressive strength to help with tree removal.
3. Akiros Ismort the ex-bandit and previous lieutenant to the Stag Lord has been getting in a number of drunken brawls lately. No one’s gotten seriously injured so far but the man can be a ticking time bomb. Something should be done about him.
4. The rabble rouser Grigori Tulsa was at it again…he stopped for a bit after the last time there was a public debate between him and Valerie, but was once again speaking out about the dangers of the ruling council running off against dangers in the unknown wilderness of Xen’drik.
5. While there hasn’t been any hostile action taken there have been sightings of trolls throughout the territory of Valdrik that has begun to make the general populace uneasy. Analysis of the sightings seems to be of a scouting nature…or it could be nothing.
6. There was still a number of places in the wilderness to check out…the treasure map they’d found pointing to a lonely barrow somewhere in the Kamelands, the weird white marble spire with the mechanical scorpion, and the rest of the unexplored wilderness.

The council debated and decided that there were two immediate issues that they would focus their efforts on – Grigori and heading back to Hargulka’s hideout to find out just what they’re up to out there. Everyone at the council knew that from their previous encounter with Grigori that the rotund debater had gone sweet on Valerie the leader of the country, except for Valerie herself. After some encouraging from the others they convinced Valerie to try and speak with him about what’s truly going on…

Boudreaux: The safe bet is that Hargulka hired this guy to come cause trouble for us…he did mention that he wanted us out of the country.

Tarvis decided to take some matters into his own hands while Grigori went on his next public speaking event to see if there was anything they could discover about the rabble rouser. Using an Unseen Servant to enter Grigori’s room while room service was changing the sheets, the Servant unlocked the window latch to allow Tarvis entry from the outside who then searched through the bard’s affects. The man apparently kept little personal affects…always traveling light it seemed perhaps in the event one needed to get out of town fast, but it also showed that the man was making no attempts to settle down any kind of roots in the new kingdom. A few sets of clothes, some potions, a couple of books on romantic poetry…hmmm…

Investigating the books unfortunately didn’t reveal any deep secrets save for a few scribbled over attempts at love poems.

MEANWHILE…

Valerie once again approached Grigori as he was finishing up one of his public speeches. The bard was surprised to see the CEO of the Council here once more and that she had apparently decided not to enter into a debate but rather listen to his concerns.

The two spoke briefly and agreed to have lunch together at the tavern to further discuss the current events of the kingdom, where once again Grigori – though with a touch of concern in his voice this time – once again mentioned that it was dangerous for the rulers of the council to go gallivanting off into danger.

Valerie spoke from her heart and as in so many times before it seemed to shine a light upon Grigori to touch upon his compassion for others. Grigori paused (as Alanea’s player handed over the Plot Twist Card – Changing Sides) and placed one hand on Valerie’s warforged hand.

“For someone that has already lost so much, you show such compassion and caring for others. Others that are violent or abrasive to you or your cause. I…I have hurt many people in my time Milady, my words have sowed dissent and anger and betrayal as I have moved from place to place – never staying long enough to see the results of my handiwork. But I cannot continue doing that. Not here, and not to you and your kingdom.”

Grigori stood and placed some gold coins on the table for lunch.

“I will not run, but if you wish me to leave the city I will. I will accept your invitation to see your council and answer any questions you might have.”

With that the rotund bard excused himself and left Valerie to her thoughts. Well, that was one problem down. With the figurative troll dealt with, that left only the literal trolls.

Next time on Kingmaker…questioning the rabble rouser!

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Book 2 Chapter 17 - A Cave of Wonders

An empty sack dropped from the sky into the middle of our heroes.

A voice called out in draconic from the forest “Pay passage and be on your way.”

A curious situation…but paying bribes for moving through someone’s land – especially when the kingdom builders didn’t consider this land to be owned by anyone. Ogg and Alanea attempted to parlay in Draconic with Dox periodically piping in via her own use of Tongues. No one in the group seemed keen on paying this Drake, especially with the fact that this creature had apparently been harassing travelers from their own kingdom.

The Drake continued its demand. “Pay for passage through this land, by order of the Lord of the Forest – Aeteperax!”

After one too many insults a ball of acid hurtled through the trees and exploded into Ogg’s chest…the acid washing off of the half-orc general thanks to Boudreaux’s Resist Energy, Mass. Ogg’s horse was another story. The Drake took off into the sky and into the distance but not before taking a few arrows to its body from our angry heroes.

Well now the situation had turned…and the druid led the way through the forest chasing down the Drake to its lair. The trail ended at the open mouth of a cave entrance covered by a waterfall. Once more a bag dropped from the sky amongst the explorers – this time containing a small number of items…some coins…a nice set of armor, a weapon and a magical cloak. The voice called out in draconic once more…

“Take it and leave this place.” Funny how quickly a shakedown had turned into a bribe.

Alanea and Ogg once more entered negotiations from beyond the waterfall. They would give the creature from the time it took them to finish lunch to decide if it wanted to leave this land or work out a deal. Boudreaux however was having none of that. His second Resist Energy, Mass would be over if they waited for an entire meal to be done…so rather than wait to give the creature a chance he stepped forward and through the waterfall.

Immediately upon stepping through the waterfall and into the cave the druid could take only a moment to realize that the cave was so much bigger than it seemed, and that there was an angry Drake leaping down from above him to try and take his head off.

Unfortunately for the Drake a single spirited charge from Ogg was enough to pierce its heart and slay the creature. Well, impatience definitely shortened the outcome of this situation. The cave seemed like a sprawling workshop or research station that hadn’t been used in at least a month. Whatever had been living here though was big. A full sized Orrery of the planes of existence was set up in one corner next to a gigantic painting that seemed to be embedded in the very wall of the cave, as if it had naturally formed there. The painting itself depicted a great red star falling from the heavens onto the lands of Xen’drik.

Aside from those two mysteries there were a number of small vegetable patches covering all seasons of planting and growth growing at the same time. And then there was the mountain of coins…gold…silver…copper…platinum and a not-so-insignificant smattering of magical weapons, armor and items. There were at least six other wooden chests completely filled with esoteric books from across the world covering all manner of subjects in the areas of Arcana, Geography, History, Planes and Religion. Two or three of these individual books would be the pride of any library in Khorvaire, and this was a veritable treasure trove of knowledge by itself. Rare books such as The Codex of the Ebon Depths, Grimoire of Impossible Secrets, Kargeth’s Blackest Encyclopedia and a few mentions of something called “The Dark Tapestry”.

Everything was taken, except for the Orrery which the group determined was too unwieldy to carry back to the kingdom. Not one to be terrible explorers since it seemed this area had been abandoned the group left a letter for anyone that would come back to this cave…indicating who they are and where their kingdom of Valdrik could be found.

Surely, this will not come back to haunt them.

XP Gained!
Quest – Where’s Tig? Complete
Quest – That Damn Turtle! Complete
Forest Drake defeated -

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Book 2 Chapter 16 - Heir to the ancient Empire

The Tannerson family was grateful to have their son back. The trek back to the capital of Waterview was a somber one, with both Boudreaux (reprising his role as the fluffy sheep) and Dox attempted to help shake the boy out of his PTSD state at the hands of the Lizardfolk tribe and their Will-O-Wisp god.

Taking a short time to rest back home, the group then headed out once more into the wilderness. Boudreaux, Tarvis, Alanea, Lucius, and Dox headed around to the eastern portion of the Tuskwater Lake to see if they could resolve this “Ol Crackjaw” problem of a cantankerous old turtle apparently taking up a good fishing spot.

Along the way the encountered more of the strangeness of Xen’drik…a small herd of Gur’kash were traveling the plains near the party and moved past a small hill only for a gigantic stinger bigger than the herd animal to lash out in an instant and pull one into the ‘hill’. Well…there was definitely something dangerous about that. Wouldn’t do to leave some unsuspecting travelers run into this thing.

Charging into battle the ‘hill’ shook off much of the grass and bushes that had been growing on top of its carapace as not one, but four stingers at the end of long tails raised into the air to menace our heroes. With the body of a humongous scorpion but no gnashing teeth or eyes where it should be, the eyes of the scorpion were under each of the stingers atop their respective tales. This creature was officially dubbed a Hydra Scorpion. Despite the multiple lashing stingers and claws the Hydra Scorpion was killed but not without trading a few good blows in itself.

From there the party rested once more and returned to the eastern shore of the Tuskwater – a place they realized they had already explored in fact. The “Super Fishing Hole” was tucked away underneath a small hill with a treacherous out-of-the-way path leading underneath it to a secluded portion of the lake. Boudreaux and Eleanor leapt into the water to meet with this turtle.

The water was murky below the surface and despite being a giant iguana creature through his Wild Shape ability Boudreaux and Eleanor failed to notice the man-sized snapping turtle latch onto his tail and bite down hard. Apparently not hard enough however as the chompers weren’t hard enough to actually draw blood from the druid. Thus began one of the more awkward conversations of our story, as Boudreaux slowly convinced the snapping turtle that it would be best to find food elsewhere otherwise who knows what could happen. You should head west from here, there’s an equally cantankerous old woman that could probably use some cantankerous company. And thus, the old turtle began heading towards the Old Beldame’s location on the opposite side of the Tuskwater…

Satisfied with the outcome our heroes continued south and west below the Tuskwater and came across a stumbling and drunken voice speaking out in the Giant language. Approaching carefully they discovered an honest to goodness Hill Giant stumbling through a forest clearing rambling to himself. The giant, whose name was Munguk told his sad story to the small peoples. Munguk had tried to join Hargulka’s kingdom, figuring that if they were the heir to the ancient giant empire than surely they would want an actual giant to be a part of this. Unfortunately they turned him down and told him to get lost…so the poor hill giant had been wandering the forest looking for booze, companionship, and a means to get even. In that order.

The ale that Lucius and Boudreaux had on hand was enough to peak Munguk’s interest…you have more booze? At a place with lots of smaller people? Interesting…but Munguk has to…work for booze? Not sure about that part. You promise to help Munguk find woman too? Well okay…Munguk like you tiny people. Munguk tired of being pawn…in great game of life.

To their surprise and perhaps a great oversight on Hargulka’s part, Munguk rummaged through his sack of random accoutrements and revealed a crudely made map of some of the nearby area…showing what looked like the location of Hargulka’s stronghold! Munguk departed and with this new information the group began heading towards the location of the self-proclaimed “Heir of Xen’drik” to find out just what they were up against.

Boudreaux became troubled as they were traversing the forest. For the past couple of hours there seemed to be an overbearing presence in the woods as if something were following them…and his hunch was confirmed as periodically the druid could spot a cold lizard eye staring at their group off in the distance, hiding amongst the natural foliage of the forest. They were being hunted by a Forest Drake.

And we will learn our heroes fate next time on Kingmaker…!

XP Gained!
2120XP Each!

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