Kingmaker in Eberron

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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Book 2 Chapter 15 - Culture Clash

Kingmaker Adventure Log
Book 2 Chapter 15 – Culture Clash
Stisshak, guardian god of the Lizardfolk tribe of Vesket, had been outed for what it truly was – an aberration of nature. A Will-O-Wisp.

The terrifying lizard skull, wreathed in green flames disappeared and reappeared in a moment cackling madly as lightning sparked forth from its mouth nearly frying Dox in an instant.

The lizardfolk village erupted into a battleground as those who had sided with their king and our heroes tried to hold off the attacking forces still loyal to their tribal god. Fires were set. Hunting lizards and crocodiles attacked one another as brother fought brother.

Alanea stuck by the wounded King Vesket, providing some healing as best she could while at the same time casting Heroism on as many of her friends as she could. Even while protecting Vesket she continued trying to find out just what was going on – how long this imposter had been manipulating the tribe.

The Lizard King could only look at the scaleless outsider with sad eyes. “This is perhaps the saddest of all of this. You still do not understand…that is our god. He has been guiding us for over 400 years.” Even with the barest bits of information they had been given regarding this society it made the pieces fall into place. A Will-O-Wisp feeds on fear…this creature, calling itself “Stisshak” came to this tribe so long ago and declared itself one of their guardian ancestor spirits. Anytime the tribe started growing too large or too self-sustaining suddenly there was a call to war or a cleansing of nearby land that always resulted in death and worship.

Stisshak had grown strong through the centuries by this subtle manipulation. And no one in the party knew quite how to tackle this angry ‘god’. It could apparently disappear and reappear seemingly at will…and while both Eleanor and Boudreaux (who had turned into a huge sized Allosaurus) could track the creature with their scent they couldn’t do so reliably and couldn’t pinpoint its location without being right next to it.

It was becoming a slow war of attrition. Stisshak was faster, seemingly immune to magic (such as Faerie Fire which they tried to use to locate it), and could strike from anywhere. The defense of the greater portion of the lizardfolk tribe, the fact that Stisshak could only hunt one person at a time, and the use of Communal Resist Energy – Electricity helped turn the tide in their favor – however it was the foul mouth of Dox that truly managed to change the battle.

With the combined Plot Twist Cards of Festering Insult, Erratic Behavior, and Tranquil Moment the changeling bard managed to strike a nerve with the aberration. Using the language of Aklo, the natural language of aberrations, Dox caused Stisshak to fly into a rage at her use of “Not ending a sentence with a preposition” and began hurling insults one after another…
“I’ll kill you! Kill you all! Before you infect me with your legs!”
“You disgusting mutation of a beautiful creature! Like the result of an irradiated third cousin fucked by a dog!”

Once its focus was placed solely on Dox the creature’s tactics became sloppy. Not caring that it was suddenly grappled in the mouth of an Allosaurus, or caught in a net by Ogg, it continued trying to murder the changeling bard who had created multiple copies of herself via Mirror Image as the one defense she had left against this creature. Finally, the creature was chomped into pieces by Boudreaux’s jaws.

The fighting stopped. The fires died down. The noise settled into the quiet sounds of the distant night. Lucius finished making his way to the second largest mud-hut in the village, finding the young red-headed Tyg Tannerson once again tied up to a torture device. The young boy was cut loose but clearly in shock.
Vesket spoke up to break the silence… “Perhaps it would be best for you and your kind to leave now. Take the child with you. We have some…things we need to sort out.” Vesket gave the group his personal trident…a symbol of the change their tribe was undergoing. “Take the offerings we placed for our fallen god. There are few things as damning as chains that one willingly puts on. But no more.”

Within eight hours the small island of lizardfolk’s entire culture had been uprooted, killed, and buried. As they made their way back to the capital of Waterview with the young boy in tow, Alanea could not help but think of her diplomatic battle with the troll Hargulka.

“Your presence here will damage the native cultures. Destroy their heritage. Leave this place.”

What started as a friendly wave across the river to an unknown village toppled everything that had guided their history for the past 400 years.

XP GAINED!
3120XP Per Character!

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Book 2 Chapter 14 - Guardian Gods
Guardian Gods

Aka “Show me your Honor!”

When we last left our heroes they had negotiated entry into a small island kingdom of lizardfolk and discovered a captured human child strapped to a reed branch and buried up to his neck in a pit of mud. Realizing they were in a delicate situation, the group politely enquired as to the status of the child and the reason why he was here. The lizardfolk guards noted that indeed there was a non-drow scaleless child here and the he was chosen by their god to undergo trials.

“And uh…how long has he been undergoing these trials? And what have they been like?”

Oh, just a couple days or so. The lizardfolk told the tales of the trials of the young boy…there was the one where he was held upside down above hungry monitor lizards until he passed out…there was the one where he was forced to find his way through a swampy sea of reeds while avoiding crocodiles…

“And uh…how long does your god plan on testing the boy?” The lizardfolk shrugged. That was for their god to decide. As long as their king, Vesket received word from their god the trials would continue.

“We would be greatly interested in a meeting with your king…” They had been respectul guests so far, willing to leave their weapons outside the village, using diplomacy rather than brow beating and they didn’t immediately try to kill any of the lizardfolk after discovering a young scaleless child screaming its lungs off. A meeting with their ruler seemed the least they could do. Some of the lizardfolk guards emptied out a nearby mud hut of its resident family asking them to vacate the premises for a couple hours while they entertained some guests. A family of lizardfolk complete with a youngling bowed and graciously left for a bit so our heroes could have a place to wait for an audience with the king.

A pair of lizardfolk guards stayed with the group, tossing some small lizards on spits above the family firepit to get some food going. Not ones to bow out from trying the local cuisine the offer of sharing some of their Gur’kash meat was met with great approval…a simple glance at the state of the lizardfolk island kingdom was enough to realize they didn’t seem to have any kind of grazing animals or even any kind of farming techniques. Various symbols adorned the shoulders of the lizardfolk ‘braves’ that monitored the safety of the village, which Ogg recognized as similar to a system of medals or soldier ranks like a military would have (Profession Soldier for the win!) while Alanea recognized that these very symbols were similar to the symbolism sometimes used by the Sovereign Host deity Dol Dorn, god of Strength and honorable combat (Knowledge Religion!). This was not the first time our heroes had encountered strange offshoots of religious practices once believed to have been exclusively a part of Khorvaire…after all the Temple of the Elk they had found had language written in ancient Giant worshipping the deity of the hunt Balinor.

If nothing else this discovery regarding the lizardfolk culture reinforced the notion that they were a warrior-like honorable society that valued strength and proper forms of warfare, which meant they were unlikely to try and do something sneaky behind their backs. At the same time it was rather curious why they would be torturing a human child…from a warriors standpoint – or a warrior society anyway it made a few decent points. Where you find one outsider, especially a child, there are bound to be others. The lizardfolk had admitted to running into Drow on occasion and it didn’t sound amiable. One way to test how ‘strong’ the outsider could be would be to see the extent their young ones could go to. But still something wasn’t right about this.

One other remarkable aspect of their culture was the treatment of the deceased. The lizardfolk valued the strength of other warriors but once deceased well…meat was meat. There were no burial cairns in the small lizardfolk community.

Dox, for her part being a precocious troublemaker periodically kept changing her appearance in front of the lizardfolk causing no end to the confusion as to just what was going on…with the lizardfolk trying to keep up a polite diplomatic position and not insult their guests by asking just what the deal was.

About an hour into their shared meal the group was finally brought into the largest mud bowl in the village with ornate bits of bone and animal hide ornately decorating the outside of it. A pair of lizard skulls had been fashioned into spears crossing one another over the top of the door. Sitting atop a throne of mud and bones was a nine foot tall imposing lizardfolk wearing an impressive array of clan-tattoos adorning his scales. Introducing himself as King Vesket of the kingdom of Lizardfolk he welcomed these outsiders to his lands and wished to negotiate peaceful trade with these strangers in a strange land.

Getting to the point of the matter Vesket didn’t seem to be the type to dance around the large-sized mammal in the room.

“Ah…the young child. It is true we have been testing him. Our guardian god has seen fit to see the merit of this young (he paused) …boy? While I regret that someone of your kind has lost one of their young, I cannot go against the wisdom of our god. Xen’drik is a harsh land, and our younglings are taught at a young age to wander off alone is to invite all manner of peril. It is unfortunate that your kind has yet to learn this lesson – but it is one you should take to heart. The parents of the child should be publically punished for letting their spawn out of their sight.”

As a king, Vesket was responsible for the welfare of his people but also to act as royalty should – and in this case it meant not bowing and scraping to outsiders despite the matter in question being a child of another race. Ogg and Alanea cooked up a plan however…after all if the desire of their guardian god was to test the abilities of these outsiders, perhaps a grown warrior would do even better as a substitute. Ogg, who spoke perfect Draconic (dropping his usual ‘stupid speech’ act…which is rather hard to pull off in a language such as draconic anyways) asked if Vesket would consult his guardian god to see if a grown warrior – perhaps even the mightiest warrior of these new outsiders could be suitable as an exchange for the child.

Vesket nodded…it was a gamble, but they are a warrior culture. He would have to commune with their god to see if it would be an acceptable answer but one he would be able to accept. The group adjourned for a short time while Vesket communed with the spirits…coming back to the group a short time later with an answer.

“Stitsshak, our guardian god has agreed to your proposal. A battle of honor shall take place between two champions to determine the worth of your kind.” Ogg stepped forth.
“Gather your weapons and your courage, for it is I King Vesket that shall be your opponent. Be warned that you represent your people. If you yield, you yield for all of your kind. If you are slain however your defeat is yours alone.”

Alanea: So…basically what’s going on…?
Ogg: If I give up the fight I surrender for all of us. If I die, it’s just my loss.
Alanea: Oh…well then.

Ogg gathered his scimitar from his collection of weapons and readied himself for the battle to come.
There didn’t seem to be anyone with magical prowess in the entire tribe but having buff spells cast on Ogg was against the Cavalier’s personal sense of honor if not completely against the spirit of this duel. Boudreaux however was having none of it and cast a Barkskin on Ogg (Ogg for his part rolled his Will Save against the spell but still failed. His character Flaw came into play though since he was against the spell being cast – causing him to be Shaken for 1 hour)

Dox however was completely fine with using her Bardic Music to help him out – and with her Song of the Heart her Inspire Courage was an impressive 3/3.

Vesket brought forth his large trident and the battle started!

While the lizard king was larger than Ogg, the half-orc was faster! Closing the distance and landing a deadly blow with his first strike. Vesket retorted with leaning his body into the scimitars blade, twirling the Trident around, boldly declaring his combat ability and making strikes against the challenger to display his prowess. This proved to be Vesket’s undoing…Ogg declared “Less talk, more fight!” landing two more solid blows against the king. This was…quickly not going how Vesket expected.
(If you act like a Samurai, the dice treat you like a Samurai!)
Recognizing that his opponent had lost a lot of blood the only thing that prevented a killing blow to the lizard king was Ogg pulling back on his strength (not using Power Attack for that round)

In less than half a minute the greatest warrior of their tribe, and their kind had been defeated by an outsider almost effortlessly. The tribe was deathly silent. Alanea approached the body of the king to determine he was still breathing…casting a healing spell upon him to make him conscious.

“That…was unexpected. I admit defeat.”

A burst of green fire appeared in the sky with a large lizard skeleton bathed in it. This was the guardian god of the tribe – the great Stisshak! The lizard skull (which was the size of a full grown man) called for the death of these outsiders! Alanea recognized this thing…it was no god at all! This was a Will-O-Wisp! And a huge one at that!

The librarian adventurer called out the guardian god for the fake that it was…that for all of its bragging they had already won the duel honorably. The tribe was frozen in decision. Half of them seemed to be going for their weapons to obey their god while the other half were rallying to the side of their wounded king and the honor of these outsiders.

“Fine then…I shall prove the strength of the gods! The strength of Stisshak the guardian spirit of the Lizardfolk tribe of Vesket!” Battle was once again joined! The lizardfolk tribe erupted into battle, with ¾ of the tribe on the side of our heroes against the last ¼ who were still loyal to their guardian god.

Next time on Kingmaker…a Light in the Darkness!

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Book 2 Chapter 13 - Random Rabble Rousing

After resting at the spiraling marble tower for the evening and packing things up in the morning, our group of Boudreaux, Ogg, Alanea, Lucius, and Dox were once again ready to continue exploring the wilderness of their new homeland. They had yet to run into the rumored ‘Forest Drake’ that was said to be somewhere in the southern Narlmarches forest, and really who knows what other weird things might be out here? This is Xen’drik after all.

Our travelers headed southeast from the marble tower and further into the forest, coming across a solid 1/4 mile or so of the local area that seemed to be covered in spider webs throughout the forest canopy. Lucius had Aurum take the long way around to get a look at this part of the forest from the air to get another perspective…after a half hour or so the man-sized bird returned and thanks to Lucius’ Mark of Handling he used his Speak with Animals to discover that the webs were indeed visible from the tops of the trees.

It was at about this time that our heroes noticed that it looked like there was some kind of gray ash beginning to fall through the forest. Lucius, and Dox however realized there was something else going on here…this wasn’t some kind of “natural” (natural for Xen’drik anyways) phenomenon. The tiny motes flowing through the air were actually tiny spiders each clinging to a small thread of webbing. The wind had picked up moments earlier and it seemed as if dozens if not hundreds of tiny spiders were now flowing through the forest – and that meant trouble for our heroes!

As if in response to the tiny spiders having found food, four man-sized spiders quickly started climbing their way towards the group and battle was joined! Albeit without Ogg or Alanea even realizing it for the surprise round! There were spiders…spiders everywhere! Inside Ogg’s helmet, crawling over his warhorse, hiding in the thick arm hair of Boudreaux, absolutely everywhere. And they were biting! While this would be a hazard capable of heralding the doom for a group of unwary travelers the Ruling Council of Valdrik would need a stronger opponent than these vermin to be a serious threat. (Oh the difference that is made between Level 1 and Level 6 characters)

Some Flaming Spheres from Boudreaux and a Fire Trap from Lucius made quick work of the Spider Swarms while the rest made quick work of the man-sized spiders, and all without managing to set the forest on fire. With the threat dealt with the webbing in the forest should slowly degrade on its own and return to normal…time to continue heading east from here!

But as they do…we find ourselves traveling back in time a number of days, shortly after our current group of explorers left Waterview. Septim Garess had called for a meeting of the other half of the Ruling Council of Valdrik to bring some items to their attention. A couple of requests by the townsfolk had made their way to different ruling members respectively which should be assessed and dealt with…and thus they reviewed the new quests they had been given.

(Quests Received! Shamblesap, Where’s Tig?, That Damn Turtle!, I Swear I’m Sober, and A Lady’s Desire)
Book 2 Quests

There was also other issue that had started up a couple days ago…a newcomer in town that had started having public speeches about the state of Valdrik in general, and it wasn’t all good things. In fact it seemed to be questioning the decisions of the leadership of the country which while not illegal was causing some trouble with the general populace. The man’s name is Grigori Tulsa a somewhat heavyset man in moderately fine clothing.

Cassie: Hmm…well we’ve been fairly accepting of all kinds so far. Why don’t we send him an invitation to the castle to air his grievances directly to us?

The others agreed save for Korin who wanted nothing to do with this rabble-rouser causing problems in his town. A letter was penned by Valerie the CEO herself inviting Grigori to come and speak with them. A return letter was received the next day politely declining the request. Valerie decided it was time to walk amongst the people again and try to catch one of these speeches to see just what was going on. Tarvis arranged to have some of his spy network spread out enough to guarantee he would have someone that could catch the next speech but decided not to make a personal appearance.

It wasn’t too long while Valerie was out and about that a small crowd had begun gathering outside a nearby tavern where a heavy set man that matched Grigori’s description stood atop a couple of wooden boxes that had been pressed together to being speaking to the crowd. “Thank you citizens for listening to the humble yet troubling words of Grigori.” spoke the man.
“I wish to continue my discussion today on the dangerous choices of the ruling council of this wonderful country of Val’drik…and how over half of the ruling government decides to go galivanting off into the wilderness heedless of the important roles they are supposed to be heading within the kingdom itself! While yes it is true they are managing to still ensure their duties are fulfilled…for how long can they keep such a gamble going? If they were to fall prey to The Traveler’s Curse and get lost in the wilds? Or killed by bandits, monsters, or worse and never found again?” There were murmers of agreement amongst the crowd…it did seem sometimes stupidly dangerous to send out the rulers of a kingdom to go exploring…
Grigori held up a hand to the crowd, clasping a letter in it. “I have here a letter written by the ruling council themselves inviting me to join them in their newly created grand castle…but I was forced to politely decline! The voice of dissenting opinion should not be given the chance to be silenced, regardless of how polite the invitation! It is here that the words of Grigori belong…among the people!” There were a few cheers at the mans skill of swaying the crowd and even Valerie had to admit there were a few good points the man was making. But she was here to observe, not to make a spectacle…she was even speaking softly with an older woman next to her, a mother she had met a few times out in the farmlands of the kingdom. Her son had been injured in some foolhardy attempt at a new game the youth in town were playing – Gur’kash tipping. The fool boy had injured his leg running through a field in the middle of the night but should be back in the fields by the end of the week.

“Hey! Lady Valerie is right here!” Shouted someone next to her in the crowd. The people around Valerie parted to reveal her presence in the crowd. Grigori noted her presence with a pleasant smile. The man didn’t seem phased at all to be speaking ill of the country and ‘caught’ red handed doing it. While it wasn’t illegal, it was still in poor taste.

Valerie waved to the crowd and re-emphasized the council’s desire to take the troubles of its citizenry seriously and wanted to once again offer not only a meeting with Grigori but that any of the citizens here could accompany him to a public room within the castle to share their troubles with Valerie and the others.
“I must once again politely decline Lady Valerie” said the orator “I cannot risk the opportunity to be spirited away into another room of the castle…while the kindness of some members of the Council are publicly known there are also many citizens that could speak of the temper of Valdrik’s head Accountant.”

Somewhere in the back of the crowd two metal objects tinked together in agreement.

“And should I step out alone for but a moment and fall prey to subterfuge the ruling Councilor of the kingdom is a publicly known Changeling. While Lady Dox has been forthright in her nature the same can not be said for all members of her race.” Valdrik has been a fairly egalitarian society so far, and yet there are still the murmurs of racism…a distrust of changelings as thieves and liars, and deceptive by their very nature.

It seemed this was not a matter that was going to be resolved with a simple request for peaceful understanding. It was time for a debate. Valerie and Grigori battled with words, each scoring two victories over one another but each step towards victory was not gained easily (Even with Valerie’s Rogue Talent that allowed her to roll two d20s for a Diplomacy check twice a day at this point, Val’s player had to use the Plot Twist Card – Black Mark to give Grigori a -20 on one of his Diplomacy checks, specifically his statement about Changelings). Grigori’s accusations hit home with many of the villagers regarding the dangerous aspects of Xen’drik. The creature known as ‘Wolf’ that was sentenced to death only a few months ago was a wild beast…and who is to say that such a dangerous creature would never have come to this place if the Dragonmarked Houses had not tried to bring civilization to Xen’drik in the first place? That the encroaching kingdom on its territory may have forced its hand.

Valerie retorted. The council was doing the best they could, and while yes the Dragonmarked Houses initially funded the expedition all of the people in this kingdom (or as far as folks know anyways) were not forced to come here. They came to this strange new land knowing it would be full of opportunities, but also dangerous. This is Xen’drik, the Stolen Lands, the Untamed Lands, the birthplace of the Elven Race, remnants of the ancient Giant Civilization…and by the Twelve it will be protected.

While Valerie was countering his argument Grigori could barely take his eyes off of her. She was a master orator – there was rarely a person living or dead that he had encountered in his life that could match him in an argument. (It was at this point that Boudreaux’s player decided to complicate the situation by playing the Plot Twist Card – Lust on Grigori…towards Valerie). The orator found himself unable to meet his rival’s eyes (And yes there were “I Hope Senpai Notices Me” jokes around the table) acknowledging that she had made some points that Grigori was going to have to consider and calmly excused himself from the public eye. Things seemed resolved at least temporarily.

AND NOW WE RETURN TO OUR HEROES IN THE WILDERNESS
Once again we join Lucius, Dox, Alanea, Ogg, and Boudreaux as they traveled into a swampy portion of the Narlmarches forest. At a particularly swampy part the discover that the river parts around a small island barely 150 feet in diameter…surrounded by a ten foot high palisade with sharp wooden spikes pointing outward with a single wooden entrance on the eastern side of the island. The tops of small mud huts could be seen just above the palisade with a bit of smoke rising up from the inside of the island.
As the group passed by they could hear the distinct voice of a child, a human child screaming. It wasn’t the kind of screaming you would hear from someone being hurt but it was the kind of screaming you’d hear from being scared.

Seeing a couple of Lizardfolk waiting on top of the palisade near the one gateway into the island, Ogg called out to them in perfectly accented draconic – dropping his usual façade of monosyllabic speech. “Hello! Do you hear that screaming?”
The two lizardfolk guards waved from the island. “Yes of course. Are you friendly?”
Ogg: “Yes! Though we are concerned, is that a human child making that noise?”
The lizardfolk cringed in acknowledgement, as if they weren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of having a human child in their midst but they weren’t willing to give it up either.

Ogg: “Can we come visit? We would like to speak with you!”
Lizardfolk 1: “As long as you leave your weapons outside the village, you are welcome to come inside.”

The group agreed, leaving the various animals on the shore of the river as well as the majority of their weapons. Dox made a sleight of hand check to slip a Sap inside her dress in the hopes it won’t be noticed…

Boudreaux: “Donkeyxote, you’re in charge until we get back.”
dramatic closeup of Donkeyxote with a solemn nod

The river was calm enough that the group could swim across…Ogg not making a big deal of his swimming across in his Full Plate. Once at the front gate the two guards seemed satisfied with their lack of weapons and opened the door. Inside was a small collection of mud huts with a single leather flap covering the entrance to each one, a small hole built into the top of each mud hut where smoke slowly filtered out. Lizardfolk families traveled about the small village…there were young lizardfolk here as well. There were maybe 30-40 of them in all but it would be hard to get an exact count just from the entrance.

The source of the screams became apparent as the groups focus was brought towards the very center of the village. Tied to a wooden staff and buried up to his shoulders in a mud pit was a young red-headed human child screaming his lungs out. This could quickly become very complicated….

Clashing Cultures…next time on Kingmaker!

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Book 2 Chapter 12 - You! I wanna take you to a Fae Bar!

With the deadly Scythe Tree menace defeated for good, our group continued following their treasure map created from the deceased Big Bad Wolf. It was still leading to someplace around here…after traveling around a bit they finally came upon the end of the treasure map – a ring of mushrooms in a perfect circle.

Alanea and Boudreaux realized what this was. A fairy circle. These kinds of things happen on occasion but are almost never permanent…this one however seemed to be. Occasionally the plane of Thelanis and the plane of Eberron have a physical overlap that manifests in the form of a fairy ring or a fairy mound. The mushrooms in this sense have grown in the exact same position in the exact same pattern on both Eberron and Thelanis which has resulted in a stable portal. If you walk into the circle you’ll travel to Thelanis and vice versa. This particular portal since it was stable would grow back even if you chopped the mushrooms down. It would take burning down the local area to destroy this portal.

As the group was discussing what to do about this discovery a small sized critter with a pickaxe and a red cap came wandering out of the portal, paused as it realized it was not alone and slowly stepped back inside the portal…

Boudreaux, Ogg, Lucius, and Dox decided to travel through the portal. Alanea didn’t want to chance getting lost in the realm of the Fae so opted to stay on the other side just in case…besides, the animals in the group refused to enter the portal. Somethin about it just wasn’t right to them. So someone should stay behind to tend to them. Ogg stepped forward first and spotted a huge tree growing into the twilight sky off in the distance with glowing lights on the inside…was that a wooden door on the outside too?

Finding the door open the group made their way inside to discover a bar room made of the inside of the tree. Stairs leading higher into the tree led to rooms for rent, and there was even a bathroom. Walking up to the bar they met the owner and bartender of the establishment, a talking Raven. It flittered back and forth picking out bottles and pouring drinks for the varied customers of the fae speakeasy while a dryad waitress named Doris did most of the delivering of the drinks.

Thelanis, being a realm of the fae dealt with different ideas of currency than on Eberron. Eating food or drink didn’t bind you to the land or curse you in some way, however everything still had to be ‘paid’ for through some kind of barter or trade. This usually took the form of giving some kind of banter as the currency but other items are possible as well. Emotional responses, memories, even parts of a soul are up for grabs if the price is right. A couple jokes were given to get some drinks while the group tried to find out some information out the original Big Bad Wolf…unfortunately though the Raven could only say that if the original had been around these parts his Inn wouldn’t be. Makes it hard to run a business if a primal force of nature would be eating round these parts. You could ask the monkeys, they might know more…after all they like to gossip a lot.
At some point the red capped small creature stepped out of a nearby room labeled “W.C” once again pausing after realizing the large people were not only here again but in the bar…slowly stepping back inside the bathroom and closing the door behind him.

The group seemed satisfied with that answer for now and didn’t want to spend too much time exploring Thelanis…after all every day spent here would be equal to a week’s time back on Eberron. Bidding the Raven good night they headed back to the portal, once again the red capped creature froze in place having apparently gotten stuck in the window trying to escape the bathroom, frantically pushing itself back inside the bathroom after being spotted. The group then met back up with Alanea.

Deciding to continue exploring, after all according to the map locations they traded with Jubilost Narthropple there’s some kind of abandoned keep near here. Following the signs on their map the group could see the top of a large white tower off in the distance…but as they continued trying to make their ways there something strange was happening. Everytime they stopped to gain their bearings the tower always seemed off in the distance. Boudreaux was the group’s tracker and guide through the forest, but Lucius is no slouch in that department either. Checking after Boudreaux’s directions Lucius began noticing something strange. Where signs seemed a bit obvious regarding what direction to take to get to the tower, Boudreaux’s sight seemed to glaze over the bits of evidence and focus on something misleading instead. Lucius began pointing this out periodically and finally the group became oriented once more. Whatever this tower was…there seemed to be some natural defense against finding this place as if the very surrounding area didn’t want it to be found. Having figured out that there was a defense of some kind allowed the group to finally reach the abandoned keep.

The clearing within the forest was a strange area. That much was evident even just from arriving. The ‘abandoned keep’ appeared to be a giant tower approximately 140 feet tall made of spiraling white marble that led to a single point at the top. To the left of the tower was a great chasm in the earth as if two mighty hands had torn out a part of the land itself…even stranger this appeared to be the beginning of the expansive river that led to their own kingdom – and it was flowing backwards out of the chasm as if gravity had decided to say “fuck it” and let the river do its own thing.

To the right of the tower was a well that still contained crystal clear water. Lucius sidled on up and took a drink…and immediately dropped to the ground asleep.

MEANWHILE…Somewhere in Khorvaire…
One of the Vadalis family heirs, a younger cousin to Lucius was traveling across the vast ranch on a beast that had never been seen before. It was a prized beast and would be the talk of the year, if not the decade among the Vadalis heirs. It was here that Lucius found himself. “Lucius? What are you doing here? A might strange to find you on the ranch…but I’m headin towards a chocolate waterfall full of strawberries. Wanna come along?”

“WOULD I!” But everything went white before he made it there…

Lucius’ eyes opened up. He was on the floor…apparently out cold for a good ten minutes or so. The others were gathered around him. Dox had already changed into a prince and laid a smacker onto the sleeping ranger to try the ol “Prince kissing the sleeping Princess” thing. Apparently the water in this well has some lingering potent magical properties in it. Dox immediately tried a dose as well, slumped to the ground for a few minutes and then woke up. Apparently she didn’t have an experience like Lucius did. Weird.

Anyways, on to the tower!

The white spiral of the tower was about twenty feet across at the base and slowly narrowed all the way up to the top until it was only about ten feet across. Ogg decided to leave his horse at the bottom since it would make turning around a little awkward…and horses don’t really do backwards walking that well. The entire building was smooth leading up to a single point at the top. A metal grate about the size of a manhole cover rested atop the tower. As they inspected it they unwittingly set off a defensive trap! A Fire Trap to be specific! Fire exploded out from the cover as a voice bellowed out in the Giant language “Beware! Leave this place!” and other general threats and warnings about the tower. A little bit of fire was not enough to dissuade our heroes from attempting to unlock whatever this thing was.

Lucius gathered his thieves tools, steeled himself against the flames, received some magical Guidance from Boudreaux and some Heroism from Alanea (along with two Plot Twist Cards to provide a total +10 bonus to his Disable Device checks – Epiphany and All in the Details respectively). After being burned multiple times he finally managed to succeed at raising the cover from the top of the tower.

Peeking into the hole they had uncovered the group could see a blue light somewhere down in the utter darkness of the inside of the tower. Whatever the light was coming from had a slow hum coming from it and seemed to grow and fade in a timed pattern, but nothing else seemed visible. Lucius and Dox volunteered to take a closer look inside the tower…but even with the combined rope of the party reaching an impressive 250 feet, it was still not enough to reach the glowy blue thing below them. That distance alone proved to our heroes that not only was this place incredibly big – the building actually continued underground of its current location. Whether this was by design or some accident buried this place was uncertain. Using the rope they had as a hand hold Lucius and Dox (with the help of some spider climb spells from Boudreaux) quickly went down to the end of the rope to try and get a better look at their surroundings. While Dox had no method of increased vision in the dark, Lucius was able to concentrate and call upon the various animals he had studied over his years of training with House Vadalis to grant himself Sight Beyond Sight! (Thundercats theme cue) to gain Low-Light Vision temporarily.

Reaching the bottom of the rope they figured out a few more things about this place. The thing that was glowing below was a column of solid silver covered in arcane writing at least 30 feet across. They still couldn’t see the bottom floor of this place. The two paused in the darkness, dangling from the thin rope…was that…skittering? Was something moving out there in the darkness? Yeah time to climb back up. After reporting the new information Boudreaux decided to take one last look through this place, transforming into a hawk and scoping the place out. The Silver Cylinder they discovered was about another 200 feet tall and finally reached the bottom floor of this place, making the entire height of the tower a staggering 530 feet tall (approximately) and well below ground level. Boudreaux did indeed spot a large metallic scorpion that was scampering across the marble walls but thanks to his speed and size could outmaneuver it enough that as long as he was flying it was unlikely to be a problem. On the bottom level there was the outline of damaged massive double-doors that probably served as the main entrance to whatever originally built this place, as well as human-sized alcoves built into the walls covered by an opaque covering to hide whatever was inside.

Flying back outside the group made the consensus that they currently do not have the means to properly analyze or excavate whatever the hell this place is…and if they sealed the top of the tower again they’d have to go through the effort to unlock it again…but if they leave it unlocked and something else comes along they’d be able to get in. Deciding to leave it unlocked for the time being the group camped over by the fountain before continuing their exploration in the morning….but not before trying out the magical well water just one more time.

Dox took a drink and once again passed out, finding herself backstage at a lavish theater. Exploring the actors area she discovered the once other person in this area – none other than artist, actor, writer, and pop-star extraordinaire Basilia Baxton! Attempting to contain her inevitable fan-girl outburst Dox introduced herself and bantered for a while with her idol.

“Oh you’re Dox! I’ve gotten your letters. I was actually just working on my reply you know. I’ll be heading to an airship port soon to meet up with House Cannith representatives to head towards Xen’drik.”

Basilia for her part was surprised there was another behind the curtain. She was usually alone at her makeup table before making her appearance on stage but…hey since you’re here anyway, why not pick out an outfit and we can do a duet together? About halfway through their duet everything went white once again and Dox woke up…

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Book 2 Chapter 11 - Expansion and Talking Trees

With the departure of Hargulka and his retinue of trolls, Chief Sootscale slowly slid down his makeshift throne as all of the tension seemed to ease out of him. Arranging for both diplomatic envoys to arrive at the same time in order to force the two to sort things out was risky business but ultimately paid off. Not only would the Sootscales be granted citizenship in the kingdom of Valdrik but be given access to things like proper health care, readily available food sources, and modern comforts like beds.

With the diplomatic issues resolved Chief Sootscale invited our heroes to partake of the birthing ceremony. Within the birthing chamber lay dozens of kobold eggs that over the course of the celebration began hatching. Delicious food was served and toasts were made to the uniting of the two tribes for a more beneficial future.

Upon their next Kingdom turn the two bits of map that belonged to the Sootscale clan were officially added to the domain of Valdrik – the landmark of the Old Sycamore (formerly inhabited by Mites) and the abundant silver mines of the Sootscale homeland (a working Silver Mine that counts as a Resource). Sootscale himself was given the title of Viceroy of all Kobolds. Within the two areas under the control of the kobolds, Sootscale would still have primary authority over local laws. After having a meeting of the ruling council, these are the following rules they decided upon regarding the Sootscales.

1. Chief Sootscale would henceforth be known as Viceroy Sootscale of the kobold territories, with the territories of the Old Sycamore and the Silver Mines being granted to Sootscale and his clan as lands belonging to the position of “Viceroy”.
2. Any issues of crime and punishment would be handled by the local magistrate within the kobold territories (either Sootscale himself or someone appointed by him) however people may appeal to the Director of the Interior.
3. Viceroy Sootscale may attend and speak at council meetings though he does not have a vote in ruling matters.
4. Dox will be the direct contact for Viceroy Sootscale outside of council meetings.

A month passed to integrate a small portion of kobolds into the population of Waterview. Their kingdom had grown from a small village into a large town – just on the verge of transforming into a proper city. There was still the matter of tracking down wherever the Big Bad Wolf was hiding, which was likely connected in some way to the treasure map they had created from one of the wolves skin. The group of Boudreaux, Ogg, Alanea, Lucius and Dox decided to head out into the wilderness west of Waterview to begin exploring the area, add new explored territories to their map, all the while following the created treasure map from the fallen afflicted Big Bad Wolf.

Following the path west, and then southwest into the territory that was said to contain a terrible tree monster thanks to the information they traded from the Narthropple Expedition. After exploring the area they discovered the very forest hollow they had been informed about, and all but Dox had been able to pick out the foreboding large tree blending in with the rest of the tall trees. What passed for ‘branches’ were actually four large wooden tendrils with sharp blades blending into the canopy. Alanea and Lucius had heard a little bit about this creature but it was considerably rare. The official term was “Scythe Tree” and it was known to be an intelligent albeit malicious tree capable of understanding both Treant and Sylvan. The other bits of information they had gleamed was a particular weakness to fire and that the tree itself could uproot itself and move under its own power.

While they were discussing what to do about this particular creature…the tree in question was slowly crawling closer in the background of the scene, pausing every time someone looked back at it. However again only Dox was fooled by the ploy and Ogg called out to the creature in Sylvan to attempt to deal peacefully with it. The Scythe Tree paused. It had never run into food that talks before. Well, food that it understood anyway. While Ogg attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution – that the Scythe Tree could remain here unmolested if it agreed to not eat anything that could speak.

The Scythe Tree on the other hand could not turn down the opportunity to cut up food whose screams it could actually understand. Battle was joined!

Despite the menacing scythes of the tree it became clear it was horribly outmatched. Between the combination of Boudreaux’s multiple flaming spheres forcing it move around the hollow, Ogg’s powerful lance charges aboard his faithful warhorse, and the powerful bardic music of Dox made quick work of the Scythe Tree leaving it a burning mess. Checking the local area they discovered a number of small treasures under the soil where the Scythe Tree had originally been sitting and added that to their treasure hoard.

Continuing to explore the local area…next time on Kingmaker!

XP Gained!
3 Hexes Explored – 600xp
Scythe Tree – 3600xp
Kingdom Size exceeding 10 Hexes – 3000xp
Three Filled Districts – 2000xp

Total for each character: 1840xp each.
Level 6 Reached!

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Book 2 Chapter 10 - Stormreach and Kobolds

Some time passes in the kingdom of Valdrik. Dox, Alanea, Boudreaux, and Lucius decide to travel to Stormreach while they had some downtime between running their kingdom. Boudreaux and Alanea teamed up to hit the books at the various (albeit somewhat small) libraries around Stormreach – hoping to learn more about this “Big Bad Wolf” before deciding upon any kind of permanent solution.

While the libraries of Stormreach contained a horrible mishmash of various collected texts from across the world that were either donated or requested to be added over the years which made concentrated research rather difficult. There were a few things that the two were able to narrow down at least. There are mentions of a ‘Wolf’ character in the stories of many ancient cultures – so if this is all pointing to the same creature then it is some kind of Unique Fae that has existed possibly as long as civilizations have.

There were also slight notable characteristics that differentiated whatever this thing created as opposed to regular lycanthropy…standard werewolves in this case, only gain their supernatural toughness (Damage Reduction in this case) when in either their animal or hybrid forms. “Big Bad Wolves” however have this toughness all the time. (This linking to a flashback where Lucius, in his attempt to intimidate their captive ‘Wolf’ smacked him in the face with a saw but did not hurt him at all)

The native plane of existence for the Big Bad Wolf is most likely Thelanis – otherwise known as The First World, and realm of the Fae and primal forces of nature. This clue also pointed out another connection. ‘Wolf’ didn’t look over a man in his early 30s, and yet claimed to have come from a place in Aundair that was destroyed over 50 years ago. If ‘Wolf’ had crossed over to Thelanis at some point, the time difference made sense. For every day you spend on Thelanis, a week passes on Eberron, and depending on where you enter and exit between the two planes of existence could also explain how he managed to travel across the ocean from Khorvaire to Xen’drik.

Due to the unique nature of this creature it was most likely to ‘big’ in a spiritual sense to actually cross over between Thelanis and Eberron in any normal means, and even if it could it was unlikely to be anything permanent. While there was no known way to kill this creature (not with the resources on hand anyway) it did seem like it would be possible to banish this creature if it ever crossed over, or to perform some kind of ritual to keep it from crossing over much in a similar means of ritually summoning a ghost or powerful outsider and ‘exorcising’ it to prevent it from coming back to Eberron.

MEANWHILE…
Lucius d’Vadalis wanted to check in with the House Vadalis enclave in Stormreach. Popular belief was that there was no Vadalis enclave in Stormreach, and that’s the way the House wants it. While technically outside the city limits of Stormreach, Vadalis in truth most likely had the largest enclave in Xen’drik. The enclave is a sprawling ranch known as Blackbriar after the black colored vines that formed the outside walls of the area. Created by a Vadalis druid sometime during the Last War the unique vines that surround the ranch are rumored to be able to grow and shrink based on the whims of the enclave headmaster and didn’t take kindly to uninvited guests.

Tyris d’Vadalis is the current leader of the ranch and met with Lucius after finishing some of his chores around the enclave. A sharp looking man in his late 20s, Tyris had unfortunately not heard about this “Big Bad Wolf” before but was definitely interested in anything that created something resembling lycanthropy. And you say you have someone that has been ‘cured’ of this disease in your kingdom? House Vadalis would definitely be interested in studying this phenomenon. Could you get us a sample of its blood at least? Lucius nodded, yeah that was probably doable.

Speaking of working for the House, were there any unique animals of Xen’drik that they were looking for? Lucius was in a rather advantageous position to keep an eye out for some. Tyris seemed more than willing to provide a list of some rather elusive creatures the House had a definite interest in. While they preferred them alive, dead would also be acceptable in the capture of these animals. Descriptions and sketches on the level of a National Geographic were given to Lucius to bring back to Valdrik with him.

1. Old Silverclaws is a 20 foot tall gorilla with an extra set of arms. His fur is a shining silver which accents his black face and enormous hands. The beast’s otherwise impressive coat is marred with thousands of scars, a legacy of countless battles. Rumor has it he lost an arm about five years ago to a fire giant’s axe before tearing it limb from limb.
2. Lurking Two-Maws A hulking thunderlizard (T-Rex) whose most terrifying attribute is the yawning circle of bristling fangs at the center of her chest, which is surrounded by a morass of grasping tentacles. Survivors of her attacks testify that she can scoop up a dozen men at a time, stuffing one after the other into her razored chest-maw.
3. Glimmerdoom a creature with no physical picture to go by, Glimmerdoom appears to be a large scaly creature that somehow reflects not only magic but light itself.
4. Dream Serpent a coiled up snake that bears a strange pattern of glistening silver scales down the length of its back and easily as big as a horse. It supposedly has a hallucinogenic poison and is capable of forcing its victims to sleep with its gaze.
5. Tentacle Spider a spider-thing the size of a man with fang-filled jaws and four tentacles surrounding its head. The only pictures they’ve managed to recover of these things have been mid-feeding on some poor corpse.
6. Til’xin Bird a red-feathered hummingbird that moves supernaturally fast. They’ve only managed to get pictures of these birds from having mages concentratin slow spells in bird feeding areas.
7. Fernian Firepeppers Rare plants that typically grow only on the burning plains tied to Fernia, but gourmands across Khorvaire covet them for their exquisite flavor and strength.
8. Gurk’ash A thick-skinned beast that resembles a bison with the hide of a rhinoceros. Traveling in herds, this creature appears to have been warped by the lingering magic of Xen’drik causing its milk and meat to decompose supernaturally slow.

With list in tow Lucius spent the next few days exploring Xen’drik and catching some tawdry Burlesque shows with Dox before the group headed back to Valdrik.

MEANWHILE…
Dox wanted to hit the theater scene. It had been a while since she had gotten back to Stormreach since accepting her new position in Valdrik. Sure she was the official Councilor and had increased her fame from creating new contacts for the kingdom as well as promoting the country but there was something about the nightlife of Stormreach that just can’t be found anywhere else.

Dox found her mentor, Karklos ir’Ilsir the playwright that had taken her in and taught her to act, sing, and dance her way to fame and fortune (and a few other things along the path of her adventuring career). A fairly (in)famous playwright that became an overnight sensation after the production of his play Throne of Angels opened to rave reviews in Breland. The fame and fortune made Karklos more bold – pressing the issues of the times and creating political undertones in his future works. Who Mourns? Caused his exile from Breland. His next play after finding a new home in Aundair, Wine, Magic, and Moonlight opened with descriptions of the debauchery of “Queen Arielana’s” exiled son “Jurianos”…which promptly got him exiled. And so on and so forth until he wound up on the shores of Xen’drik.
Still a beloved actor and playwright Karklos has become known for randomly participating in his own productions on occasion – regardless of the gender of the role.

Dox arranged for free tickets to both a burlesque show and a classy
show to get the entire Stormreach Theater experience.
Dox pulled a few strings for Lucius and Eleanor – going so far as getting a private booth for the two of them complete with binoculars and guides to the plays. This of course, led to the scene of Lucius and Eleanor viewing the play through tiny binoculars and periodically discussing the events on stage via Lucius’ use of speak with animals from his dragonmark.
Eleanor: “I do not quite understand. The female and the male should solidify their relationship by killing and consuming the beta male. Why do they not quickly go for the throat and celebrate?”
Lucius: “Relathionships are…complicated.”

After everyone concluded their business they traveled back to Valdrik. A month later it was finally time to gather up the original members of the expedition to meet up with Chief Sootscale to celebrate their birthing ceremony and discuss diplomatic solutions regarding their two lands.

Alanea, Tarvis, Korin, Valerie and Sidney traveled to the Sootscale caverns and were met positively by the guards. They were quickly shown inside, taking the time to disarm all the local traps before being greeted by Chief Sootscale himself.
Sootscale: “I’m glad you could make it. We’re looking forward to seeing the birth of the next generation of Sootscales, and to see just what path our clan will travel towards the future.”

And with that Sootscale took a seat on his throne, and for the first time our heroes became aware of the other group in the room. The larger group in the room. A group of trolls in fact. The leader, or at least the one in front carried himself a little straighter than the others and wore a rather fashionable bow tie. Other notable trolls include one covered entirely by rock, and a two headed giant.

Sootscale: “I have been approached by another group who have a similar proposal. In this manner I can provide both of you a chance to talk about your desires for an alliance.”

The leader of the trolls stepped forward, as did Alanea.
“I am known as Alanea of Valdrik.” She introduced herself.
“And I am known as Hargulka.” Replied the troll leader in a very gentlemanly and elegant fashion not typically associated with trolls. After a pause he continued “I do not have a last name in my culture.”

Alanea shook her head. “In this regard, I am Alanea of Valdrik because Valdrik is the country that I come from. It is the land I represent.” She gestured again towards Hargulka for him to respond.

“Ah, then in this instance you may refer to me as Hargulka of Xen’drik.” Laying his claim for the entire continent. “For you see, as the true inheritor of the giant civilization the right to rule this land is mine by blood.”

And with that the fate of the Sootscale clan began! A battle of Diplomacy as Hargulka and Alanea (assisted by Valerie) debated over whether or not the Sootscales would have a better life staying as they are or integrating themselves into the society of Valdrik.

Hargulka’s arguments emphasized the nobility of the Kobold race, how they may be the littlest dragons but their culture would be tainted or even lost – tantamount to cultural genocide if they were to integrate with these ‘scaleless ones’ in the kingdom of Valdrik. Introducing technological or sociological ideas that the kobolds are not culturally prepared to understand and accept would irrevocably change who they are – and would ultimately damage their progress as a species. Even the so called technology of Valdrik, nay of all humanoid races is merely based off the leftovers – the merest hints of power and technology gleamed from the picked over ruins of the giant civilization.

Alanea countered on each point that all races are welcomed equally and will be treated fairly in the kingdom of Valdrik. The Sootscale Kobolds have already had their culture changed from what ‘it should be’ since they have already made contact with other species and occasionally even trade goods and services. And no one would be forcing any other culture or religion upon any other citizen of Valdrik so long as they obey the rules of the country.

The debate went on for a good half hour before Chief Sootscale raised his hand and declared that the representatives of Valdrik have made their point and made it well. The path of the Sootscale kobolds would walk the path of the scale-less ones rather than ally themselves with Hargulka and his followers. While Hargulka was not pleased with this result he still bowed graciously, thanking Sootscale for the opportunity to debate his points and left with his retinue in tow – but not before leaving a warning.

“We may have met peacefully here, but I cannot promise the same should we meet again in the open. Your kind are not welcome here. Leave Xen’drik to its rightful inheritors – or be prepared for the consequences.”

XP Gained – 550xp Each

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