|Malthir Al Dagon|
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
I haven't said anything just yet. That can now be rectified.
"Baron, Balthus here was handed over to the Gnolls only a day ago by a caravan operating under the pseudonym Matthias Exports. Remember we found the tracks of a caravan seeking to avoid official attention? That must be them. They were headed to Swordhaven, possibly to take your citizens into unlaweful bondage. Their vehicles could and should be searched for captives on the basis of Balthus' testimony."
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
Reminder- the caravan was actually headed north through the Kamelands- which is to the east of Swordhaven. If anything, it was taking a rather remote route, perhaps even avoiding Swordhaven. On the bearing it was travelling when you saw it- it was more likely headed into Brevoy.
|Malthir Al Dagon|
The large, scarred Gorumite man moved over and clapped Casimir heartily on the shoulder as Stefan bowed and moved back to his seat.
Not to worry, that is not the nastiest duel Maseri has had this year... A trumped up Surtovan sod tried his luck back in Abadius. He had him on the floor, disarmed and with a blade to his throat in about the same time it took this duel to end.
Anything more from Casimir or is he leaving the estate? Malthir and co., I assume you meet up back at the Gnoll camp.
Casimir grinned sheepishly at the massive priest as he limped over and recovered Brightclaw.
"Thank you, Lord Orrik. I'm afraid I've been getting so used to using a combination of magic and trickery to augment my swordplay that I have quite forgotten that single combat with a superior opponent is another beast entirely. My skill with the blade alone will never match the likes of Lord Maseri, so in order to win anyway, I usually use my magic to compensate. My uncle taught me that, a long time ago."
Cas falls silent, as if the mention of his uncle triggers a distant memory.
"I will expect your agent to make contact when it is safe to do so without risking detection. Now, my lords, it has been an honor and a pleasure - well, mostly. If you will excuse me, I suddenly find that I have some urgent shopping that needs to be taken care off. I will be sure to look sufficiently dejected and upset as I exit."
Alex, Maladin has a point about the Kingdom stuff - do we have time for a raid on the castle where my uncle is held, and still be able to make it back in time?
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
You have most of the month so it depends on you. Even if your absent though, the kingdom can (in theory) manage with you, it would just be a more difficult month... Casimir feel free to fast forward to the Ocelot and a reunion with Kip and Kalev- the gate guard would give you directions.
"We did not leave the caravan far behind us, and it should be a simple matter to gain ground on them, even if we are mostly afoot." Fenna observes, looking at Malthir in what for her might be seen as either concern or curiosity.
As Casimir enters the Ocelot, Kip jumps up from his seat and rushes to greet him. Am I ever glad to see you! How did it go? Upon spying the fresh wound upon Cas' leg, Kip's brow furrows deeply...
And... three, two, one... everyone post! :)
Don't be shy... it is like riding a horse... ;)
Casimir has a perfect frown on his face as he gestures to his injured leg.
"That is....complicated. Let's just say the council were not exactly thrilled by what I had to tell them.
bluff roll to convey the meaning of "I'll explain later" to Kip and Kalev: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
I'm sorry Kip, I had hoped to make an excuse for you to roll a d20, but there is no sense motive roll for the intended recipient when using the bluff skill like that. On the other hand, now you get to make your own bluff check to reply, if you want. :-)
Kip shakes his head slightly at Casimir's words. I wasn't worried at all... I knew you would be fine. Kalev on the other hand, was a nevous wreck the whole time you were gone.
Bluff: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
Sit down and have something to eat or drink, if you need it, then we will head back to our Inn, and you can tell us all about your meeting.
Kalev smiles at Kip's bluster.
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
23rd Gozran, 4713
Inside Kardasholme, Council Room-
The remainder of the month had been quite a trial for the Guardians of the Greenbelt- but they held themselves proudly at the first council meeting since their daring raid and with several new friends in tow from their adventures in both the Kamelands and in Restov. Casimir took a few moments to reflect upon their latest excursion and then narrated the tale to the other Statkari.
Malthir, Kundal, Fenna, Ricter and Balthus and his men tracked the caravan north, abandoning the hunt for the Worg pack- although Fenna noted that the caravan and its entourage had put on a significant burst of speed shortly after the location Malthir had spoken to "Matthias". The Guardians gained ground on the caravan in the treacherous Kameland hills but their heavily laden horses conferred little advantage over the caravan on the open ground and they were unable to catch them before losing them in Restov.
Meanwhile Casimir, Kip, Kressle and Kalev went to ground for a couple of days at the advice of their contact from the Swordlord Council; a Rostlandic gentleman known as Lucius who assured them that Surtovan agents within the city were no doubt watching their every move. By the time they had gone to ground for a sufficient length of time to shake off watchers, the two parties had met one another in Restov. The group questioned, researched and gathered information; Ricter's particular interrogation techniques were crucial for getting information out of various lowlifes although he was forced to go incognito without his armour.
As unlikely as it appeared, it seemed the two missions were in accord with one another. The Lord who had gathered so much opposition to the Swordlords and had forced them to face a conflict on two fronts, Stonehouse, had been running slave operations through the Greenbelt for several years, abducting skilful individuals and making a fortune off selling them to a nefarious list of individuals, including the Kamelands worshippers of Kostchtchie.
The Guardians, Lucius and Balthus in tow, infiltrated the very heart of Stonehouse's demesne and launched a daring raid on his primary castle- Blackhearth. Although they reached a badly wounded Uncle Stanislaw without raising the alarm, the group was forced to cut their way through- Malthir, Balthus and Kalev acting as an immovable force and cutting down dozens of soldiers while Fenna, Kundal, Ricter and Kip tracked down the slaver "Matthias" and his men and after a difficult fight in which all suffered poisonous wounds, were victorious.
In the chaos, Stefan Maseri was teleported into the fray with twenty elite soldiers; the Swordlord's apparently having used their scrying efforts on Casimir and Lucius to gain a decent view of the internal castle in order to aim a teleport. Stefan and his elite took the castle from the inside and the Swordlord himself slew Stonehouse as the Guardians escaped. Once they reached Restov, they learnt that with the death of Stonehouse himself, most of the lords that had sworn fealty to him pledged themselves to Restov and the rebellion; the few that did not would surely be swiftly finished off. In a matter of days, Restov's northern frontier was secure and their position within the conflict of the civil war had grown far stronger. There was even talk of marching upon the capital, although the Orlovsky army to the north was slowly being forced to give ground to the invaders that had landed on their shore.
Uncle Stanislaw's rescue had been used by Herbert Orlowska in a brilliant strategy which had cut the head off the serpent; and as thanks to Kardas the diplomat/spymaster pledged the veteran spy Lucius to their cause. Disgusted by the Swordlord's use of his capture, Casimir's Uncle Stanislaw pledged himself and his formidable skills to Kardas. Balthus' men joined the militia and Balthus himself found a place in the military command structure. With the political climate and recent attacks on Kardas, each of the Guardians found themselves taking on lieutenants, apprentices, assistants and the like in order to more effectively manage the barony...
Run one kingdom turn in the IC (discuss in OOC, post full turn in IC) and then we'll move on to a new thread...
Meanwhile, in Varnhold...
Ilya had finally arrived with his Hellknight bodyguards keeping him safe on the roads. He noted that Varnhold itself was now a flourishing settlement although Varn himself appeared to be attempting to construct a single, very large settlement rather than found multiple cities. The Swordlord himself resided in a fine wooden keep and the town was painstakingly constructed; clearly an architect was working very hard to make the town a very fine one indeed.
Not long after his arrival, Ilya was immediately taken to see Varn himself, who had apparently just finished a sparring session. He invited Ilya into his private quarters to talk and seemed extremely warm and welcoming, receptive to what the diplomat had to say...
Ilya dismounts and quickly uses a prestidigitation to wick the dust and grime of travel from his clothes, face, and hair. He follows the footman who leads him to the presence of Maegar Varn. He bows deeply. "A thousand greetings and a thousand wishes of health and fortune upon your head, Lord Varn. As I am certain Your Lordship expected, I am Statkari Ilya Shukhov, Grand Diplomat of the Realm of Kardas." He rises from his bow and places a hand over his heart. "Allow me to extend to Your Lordship the greetings of the other Statkari, and most especially the personal congeniality and regards of Baron Dagon, Lord of Kardas and First Sword of Iomedae. Long may you both reign."
Having finished his introduction, he politely waits for Maegar Varn.
|Malthir Al Dagon|
Closing comments to chapter 2...
As Malthir looked from the battlements, his eyes kept drawing him north. They had just made it back from their adventure and one final manipulation from the Swordlords. In a way I guess they owed their little "adventure" to them for all of their support. He finally felt better, it had become evident through their battles that something was wrong, that something had happened with the destruction of the Altar. He had been cursed by the demon god and only powerful magics had removed it once they got back to the capital.
Now the looming war, the strife in his homeland and the refugees that kept streaming from Brevoy into Kardas pre-occupied his mind.
Malthir felt sorry for Fenna at that moment. She worked most days late into the night and even now he could see the light on in her tower room, going over plans to help the hundreds that arrived every day. He smiled to himself for a moment before thinking of the stark reality of it all...where would they all go???
Even at this hour he could see the fires from the tent city that was starting to take shape at Kardas' edge. Housing was being built as fast as they could, but not fast enough to keep pace with those that came with hope in their eyes of a future away from the war.
The militia and the Hellknights were also stretched thin. With so many mercenaries flowing through Kardas heading north, the Inns were filled to bursting. Mercenaries were not particulary good at staying out of trouble either, so armed militia were stationed in every in, to suppliment their normal guards. They had made it clear in the early days that their disruptions would not be tolerated and troublemakers would have their weapons taken, permamnently. That had quelled most of the troublemakers as mercenaries without weapons aren't much use. Crafty farmers, looking to make some extra gold, had worked with Fenna to offer their barns to them for a place to stay and a hot meal. It kept many of them out of the city as well as give them some much needed gold. It seemed that they fared well in this war...but did anyone really fare well in a war?
Kardas would soon be stretched thin. He looked over his shoulder to see Noleski standing there, his constant bodyguard and squire. His 6'5 hulking frame was hard to miss and he was not stealthy in the slightest...again he grinned, he would not change this for anything.
Tomorrow would bring new challenges but when he reflected on all they had accomplished in almost three years he beamed with pride for both his people and his friends who had made this all possible.
Vaysh arrived suddenly and slipped her arms through his. Her belly was swollen with child, another miracle would soon be with him...he looked forward to yet another challenge. He stared at her face, remarking how lucky he was before she yanked on his arm, Stop starring at me and come to bed you big oaf!....
The Baron of Varnhold returned Ilya's gracious bow with one no less formal, arms spread wide and with a welcoming smile. As always, Maegar acted as a paternalistic figure to Ilya as one of the Guardians, descending from his gaudy chair to pat Ilya fondly on the shoulder. Once the formalities and titles had been announced by his herald, Maegar Varn spoke to Ilya in a more private setting.
Ilya! You were sadly absent during my tour of Kardas; but I remember fondly the correspondence we had with one another a year or so ago. Your letters were exquisitely written and warmed this old warrior's heart- to think I had such fine neighbours! I truly am blessed. What news from Kardas? How fareth Lord Sirian?
Meanwhile at the end of chapter 2...
Fenna had listened patiently over her desk, resting a pale hand on a list of figures while nodding quietly as the young Miss Teskerton explained the difficulty of feeding so many refugees and mercenaries; even with the arrival of spring, the sudden influx of hungry mouths would no doubt strain the food supply until other arrangements could be made…
Even now, efforts were underway to provide the tools necessary for those refugees with the appropriate skills to begin to work the empty northerly fields of Kardas, and Corax was making final arrangements for an increase in production of fishing boats to further supplement the stores with the Tuskwater’s bounty.
It was only with Lily’s stifled yawn that the gnome councillor took note of the lateness of the hour, and cast a silvery-eyed glance out of her window. “I apologise for keeping you so late, dear.” she offered, “I’m sure you had more interesting things to do this evening than read over these reports yet again.”
“Don’t worry,” the young woman replied with a smile, “I didn’t have any plans tonight, with Ilya off on his official business.”
“Then instead, I will apologise for keeping him from you. But in any case, you should get yourself some rest, and we can finish this in the morning.”
Alone with her thoughts, Fenna cast another look over the papers on her desk before pushing herself to her feet and wandering over to the window to look out at the stars. And tonight there were so many; the countless hundreds in the sky reflected by the tiny lights of campfires sprawling from the northern edge of the city. The sight brought a rare smile to her lips, for she knew that despite the difficulties of settling them all, the arrival of these new Kardassians would lead the nation to new prosperity.
A hint of sadness touches Ilya's eyes and he drops his formality. "Maegar, I wish we could have exchanged more pleasantries before I was forced to bear you this news." He sighs, then spies a bottle of liquor sitting on a side table. He quietly pours a two glasses, then pauses as he puts the stopper back in the bottle. "Lord Sirian is dead." He takes his drink in one pull, grimacing against the acrid tang. "He and his party were waylaid and slaughtered on their journey south to Kardas. The Statkari recovered his body and were able to question it through divine contact. Some bestial goblin-kin, or something near to it, was the cause of his death." He turns around and offers Maegar the second glass. "We are still reeling from his untimely demise."
He spreads his hands. "We are, frustratingly, without much lead concerning his death. The news of such well-coordinated beast folk in the northern reaches was a surprise to us all. Have you heard of any such monstrous things organizing themselves?"
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
Also at the end of chapter 2...
Kip sat quietly atop the wall, hidden in the shadows cast off from the keep in the moonlight, eating the pie he had pilfered from the kitchen just moments ago. The cook was sure to be mad when she discovered it missing in the morning. He also knew he would be the prime suspect. He chuckled softly to himself as he enjoyed the pastry while using his hat to alter his appearance to that of a certain kobold he was fond of. Should Soots ever acquire a hat of his own, Kip would really be in trouble!
Even though his appetite had long since left him due to his magical ring's influence, and he required no nourishment of any kind, Kip had not let that stop him from enjoying all the tasty things he could abscond with from the larder. He looked down at his belly, disappointed to note that it was not growing as he had hoped. He would have to redouble his efforts in the future. He had the time to spare these days after all.
The ring had also removed his need of long hours wasted in sleep. He now spent most of his nights wandering the castle or researching the many things that interested him. Or, were of particular interest to the kingdom and its well being. He was also planning and plotting out his duties as Magister. He had come to the decision to build Kardas' first academy of the arcane arts in the branches of the Old Sycamore tree during his return from Brevoy. His heart and mind agreed that such a majestic place should be destined for more. His vision included an entire city contained within its mighty limbs. And this city would be quite unlike some of the others within Kardas, or the River Kingdoms for that matter. It would be a place where any and all manner of creatures could come, live, learn and peacefully exchange ideas. The only rule would be there are no rules, just be nice to everyone. Everyone would be expected to make sure that was the case. It would of course also be a place devoted to the pursuit of happiness. Yes, sandwiched in among the libraries and shops would be numerous taverns and the odd brothel or two. Kip was still Kip after all.
As Kip finished the pie, he set the pan down and reached into his pocket to retrieve his pipe. After methodically packing it with his favourite pipe weed, he lit it and leaned back against the wall to enjoy the spoils of his efforts. His mind flashed to the extraordinary events of the recent past. His arrival in Kardas as an eager new citizen. His rapid rise and his brash application to the Guardians. He thought of his friend Ilya, and how they almost came to blows that day, magically speaking of course.
He thought of the many good times with all of the Guardians and Statkari, but he could not help but dwell on some of the terrible things as well. Grigor the rabble rouser and his clutch of Gyrona worshipping allies. The owlbear attack. The death of the Nixie. The troll army's attack. The trip to Brevoy, the assault upon Castle Blackhearth and rescue of 'Uncle Stanni'. As Kip recalled these events, he did not despair, but rather, felt a keen sense of pride in the fact that not only had Kardas survived, it had excelled in the face of such opposition. And that he himself had had a hand in keeping the kingdom free and safe. Kip inhaled deeply before exhaling again in the cool night air, pledging that that would never change while he still drew breath.
As he relaxed and digested his late night snack, he practised blowing smoke rings. As he watched one sail higher and higher into the moonlit night sky, Kip's eye caught the light coming from Fenna's room. Seems he wasn't the only one up late. Again. A moment later, he heard Vaysh's sweet voice call out from higher up in the keep. Craning his neck, he caught sight of the Baron and his wife upon the battlements. A contented smile spread across his face. The baby would soon be here and Kip could hardly contain his excitement!
As they disappeared into the archway high above, Kip recited a prayer to Erastil and Pharasma each to look over the Baroness during her coming delivery. He then thumbed out his pipe and tossed it back into his trusty pack, jumping down from his perch without a sound. He suddenly desired to see if Kalev or Casimir were awake and willing to go out carousing. As he moved as quick and as quiet as a mouse towards Cas' room, he realized that Kressle would not likely see kindly to his late night visit. More so given his plan. He twisted in mid stride and changed direction for Kalev's quarters. Half way there he realized that Kalev was likely already asleep in preparation of an early rise, or just as likely, already out attending to his various duties.
He entertained the thought of seeking out Ricter for the briefest of moments before stifling a guffaw. Although he harboured no ill will towards the Hellknight, he did not know if the reverse was true. Kip was not even sure if Ricter was capable of enjoying himself. Kip pushed the memories of his belated birthday celebration in Northgreen from his mind. The less said about that the better he thought.
Resigned to return to his room, Kip made another correction to his route. He had spied some other tasty morsels in the kitchen earlier. He might as well get started on his new regimen tonight he mused with a twinkle in his eye and a lick of his lips.
A few minutes later, Kip slipped into his quarters and placed the sack of newly acquired goodies on his desk. He sat down upon Hargulka's charred skull, that he taken to use as a stool as he had promised and drummed his fingers upon the table top. After a moment, Kip plucked out a pen from its resting place and retrieved a sheaf of parchment. Dipping the quill into the ink, Kip tapped his chin with the feathered end. It had been some time since he had written his family...
Ilya was aware of our plans to resurrect Lord Sirian prior to his departure, and the Sending was sent and replied to before he left for Varnhold. Maegar indicated in his reply that he expected Lord Sirian to be returned to life, but neither Ilya nor Maegar have heard anything more than that and so confirmation of the act has not been forwarded to either. Oops. Our bad. :)
Here are the relevant links:
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
Is the interlude thread up? I can't find it if it is. Link? :)
|DM Alexander Kilcoyne|
Gotcha... And no worries, I was just wondering if I was missing something somewhere. :)
End of Chapter 2
...these episodes have made it clear that Kardas is every bit the stronghold of law it was forecast to be. Whilst it being developed with such whimsical goals as fairness and peace in mind it is bound and strengthened by well defined and properly enforced laws. Above all, it is an expression of the beliefs and personalities of the Guardians who have built it from nothing:
Baron Milthir's creed demands that he bear the full responsibilities of a head of state yet at the same time risk his life on a regular basis. His death, if irreversible, would cause dangerous instability in Kardas but he refuses to acknowledge this. I have not yet determined if this is due to a craving for martyrdom or a belief in his own invincibility. Whatever the reason, this irresponsible thirst for direct combat is the only real flaw in an otherwise supremely capable and effective ruler. Malthir has grand plans for his realm and he is methodically putting them into motion.
Thus far these plans are working perfectly. This is due in no small part to the continuing efforts of Councillor Fenna Thistleswade. She is more heavily involved in the direct running of Kardas than even Malthir himself, and is equally capable of efficient administration and potent leadership. She is as much a bastion of order in Kardas as Swordhaven Castle itself and I have not a single ill thing to say of her.
As the Baron's rule is aided by Fenna, it is protected by Kardas's Marshal Kalev and Spymaster Casimir. I have come to think of these two as two sides of a coin. One defends from the wrath of the wilderness, the other defends from the machinations of city states. In battle one dissects, the other devastates. They both know that their place is to be the tools of the Baron.
The only cause for concern amongst the leaders of Kardas is one Kip Bendybrook. He is an unrepentant force of chaos and all the more dangerous for being seen as 'easygoing' and 'friendly' by seemingly everyone he meets. His magical powers are actually drawn from a perverse union between halfling and fey somewhere in his ancestry, and he seems to delight in trying to draw my ire by reminding me of this. It's not entirely clear why he even holds office in Kardas. He is a relatively recent arrival just as I am, but unlike myself he represents no organization. He just showed up one day. Nonetheless he is held in high esteem by every member of the Statkari.
Baron Malthir has vowed to fight evil wherever it may be found. I hope he one day appreciates how simple this is compared with our own battle against chaos...
After spending most of an afternoon carefully recording events and comments in his report to the Lictor, Ricter finally sealed the envelope. A glance at the bulky hourglass on his desk showed he had twenty more minutes allocated to this task before his next duty. Judging that a short period of rest would improve his efficiency in the coming hour, the Hellknight moved over to the window.
It was a bright night, and it bought out the beauty of Swordhaven and the fields beyond. None of this really registered with Ricter, of course. He was surveying the area he had been assigned responsibility for. Mostly. There was a part of him - which would fade in time, as planned - that was taking in his new home.
Meanwhile, at the end of Chapter 2...
Cas, your move...
The sound of Stanislaw's voice brought Casimir's attention back to the small tower study where his uncle and he had relocated after Kressle expressed a desire to retire. Her duties usually started at dawn, and the two men had no intention of calling it a night yet.
Casimir glanced at the board and absently moved a piece, then turned his gaze back to the smoldering logs in the fireplace.
"Not much point, really. I've been reacting to your moves for the last twenty minutes. You know what I'm going to do as well as I do. You might as well move both our pieces."
His uncle took a swig from the crystal tumbler in his hand, then moved a piece of his own. "Come now, lad. Show me some spirit. It's no fun if you just let me chase you across the board like that," Stani said.
Casimir turned to regard his uncle. Even in the dim light from the fire, the scars from his latest ordeal were still clearly visible. There was only so much healing magic could do.
"I guess I have lost my taste for games lately. It seems that even when playing with friends, you can't be quite certain of who is really moving the pieces."
Stanislaw chuckled, but there was an edge to his mirth. "Ah, but it is precisely when you find yourself caught in the other player's plans that you must focus all your attention on the game. Otherwise, you forfit any chance of victory before the first move is made."
Casimir didn't answer, but instead got up and moved to the wall where a map of Brevoy hung next to the map of the Stolen Lands the Guardians discovered in the troll stronghold. Fresh notes had been scribbled on both maps, and letters and pieces of parchment were scattered across the desk by the window.
"I think it is time we adjusted out strategy, then," he said, clearly not talking about the game any more. "Seems like we are surrounded by players who think they can push us about as they please. Every time we eliminate a threat, two fresh ones appear. We have to find out who our opponents are, and what their game is. Even our "benefactors" in Restov think they can use us as pawns in their struggle with Surtova. If Kardas is ever going to grow strong and secure, we have to take back the initiative. Better pack away the game and pour yourself another glass, uncle. We have plans to make...