Kingmaker

28 November, 2010

How would youngish (50 or so) elven females swear? I don’t know. I’ll just go with “generically”

Michael,

Who in gods’ name decided to let Larien wander off to our kingdom – or dukedom, or whatever the blazes it is – on his own? He’s what – thirty? Barely more than a child, I could name a dozen human peasants older and with more commonsense. I have just discovered that he has spent the past week earning himself free drinks at every bar within ten miles telling tales of my little indiscretions back at Restov. We are trying to run a kingdom, here! People depend on us for their safety and prosperity and here’s an idiot relative of mine undermining it all. I’m absolutely mortified.

In all fairness, it’s been rather an education and I owe father the apology that I didn’t have the experience to give him before. I better understand, now, the effect that my own rather childish and silly behaviour had on other people. I think I’ve discovered why humans are so mature so quickly. It’s not age that makes an adult: it’s responsibility.

But that doesn’t mean Larien is forgiven. I’ve had a chat to him and I don’t think he listened to a word of it. Well this is how it’s to be: the families can exile whoever they wish, but while we welcome trade and settlement by the folk, Freedonia is not a dumping-ground for every fool and/or malcontent south of the river. We’ll round ’em up, put them all on a wagon and ship them all back home if it comes to that. Larien will be first, if he doesn’t shape up, and good riddance.

Having said that, I suppose I should give you the usual rundown of events.


We made camp away from the tower and prepared spells for the morrow. Next day we went straight back to the tower and commenced with plan A. Morgana brought down the force barrier around the silver material, then his lordship began smacking at the runes to damage them physically, and Morgana fired another Dispel Magic. It worked perfectly [some nice rolls] and the sliver liquid started draining out onto the floor – quite a bit of it actually – pooling around the base of the obelisk and tracing out the old runes. After a bit of this, a human (or something) emerged from the stone.

We held off attacking. He stretched and walked about dazed for a moment or two (as you would, I suppose) and began speaking. Some sort of magical or supernatural effect was in play: he was speaking a language that none of us recognised, but we all understood his meaning perfectly. There were some tense moments, but luckily no-one broke and started hostilities. There was a great deal of chat – as far as I can make out, he had been in that stone for a thousand years or so. Grandfather’s time, maybe earlier! It seems he was a disciple of “The Unbroken Way” – a monkish order that traces its origin back to the first gith to rebel against the illithid.

And a great deal of lt;dr besides. Module designers: please stop giving DM’s big indigestible chunks of colour text to read out.

The upshot of it all is that the island was a monastery, and he intends to re-establish it. We are quite happy for him to do so, even in the absence of any explicit treaty or fealty – realistically, if this human really was taught by gith and survived being locked in stone for a thousand years with his sanity intact, then if he wants to build an abbey, an abbey will be built. Anyway: Rainor seems quite taken with him [Brett wants to go Zen Archer]. I suppose we should negotiate some sort of “freedonian law stops here” deal, perhaps designating the mere as a shared fishing zone.

In any case. Having dealt with that, we went back to the work of clearing the worst of the wildlife from the area.


The marshals – the Sootscale kobolds (and my aren’t there a lot of them these days! It’s what happens when you don’t cull them. Not that I’m shapist, or anything.) – had reported troll activity to the west and south. We investigated the site of their most recent battle. A lot of alchemical fire scorchmarks and not a few bodies. We headed south, toll hunting.

On the way, we came to an area of forest suspiciously short of larger game, and with giant lizard tracks here and there. We eventually came to a copse that looked like it might be the lair of this giant lizard. While discussing what to do, we were swooped by a forest dragon.

Well – drake. Still: not to be taken lightly. His lordship engaged it on the ground. I have my bow, but I rely on precision and have to get in fairly close. It was a bit of a melee – the thing came after me at one point. Everyone hacked away at it, but I scored the killing blow with a Scorching Ray.

Kill steal! Crit + sneak attack with a Scorching Ray makes … ooh: one, two, three … 10d6 fire damage. Yow! 35 points of damage, on average, nearly as much as Jope does in a single round!

The drake had one or two items, including a rather threadbare but serviceable hunter’s cloak [Elves of course don’t call ’em “cloaks of elvenkind”], which I have been after for some time. Oh, and there was a reward for the thing’s head. Seems everytime we sally forth, we return with more severed heads. His Lordship thinks that he can turn its hide into some armour.


A little further to the south again, we found some sort of large animal lair. Something needing to be cleaned out before the are could be settled, anyway. I sent down my Dancing Lights and definitely stirred something up. I went in – my belt gives me darkvision and some dwarvish instinct for stone. His Lordship came down as well, and preceded me into a cavern – neatly stepping around a bit that opened at his feet.

Rainor followed, and was first to notice a pair of eyes right behind His Lordship and call the alert. And it was on. I cast Scorching Ray … but completely mixed up the second shaping ward. It backfired badly – I’m still seeing pretty coloured lights.

[Rolled a 1, a 1 to conform the fumble, and a 2. We use GameMastery crit fumble cards. A fumble that bad makes it DM’s choice. 3 wisdom damage, on a character that has a wisdom of 8. Ouch. We don’t have any Lesser Restoration or opportunity for bed rest.]

Anyway. The fight proceeded regardless, and despite everything I managed to get in the killing shot with the bow. [Two kill-steals in one session! W00T!] Turned out the thing was a mutated crocidlyid. Nasty. No loot to speak of.


Well, after wandering about for days we finally found a couple of trolls. They very nearly got the drop on us, but I think we saw them first. Unfortunately, they attacked from the rear. Instead of doing the sensible thing and running behind the fighters, I cast blur. I was promptly attacked and grappled. I cast grease to escape – drawing on the family magic – and got away, although the thing swiped me as I got out of range. Damned near knocked me unconscious [1 hp].

Switch’s bonded item is a family signet ring. As she is currently disgraced, she wears the stone reversed. Under pathfinder rules, your bonded item once per day allows you to cast any one spell you know without preparing it. The flexibility this gives has been crucial on a number of occasions.

While this was happening, my comrades had done a great deal of damage to these two things and knocked them unconcious, but they just kept regenerating. I had prepared the Acid Splash cantrip, as it is one of the few spells I know that will damage a troll. I found that even though it’s a small amount of damage, by placing the shot I could get good results. Eventually Morgana and her Flaming Sphere and I with my Acid Splash – with of course Rainor and His Lordship keeping the trolls disabled – managed to dispatch these two trolls.

I prepared Acid Splash because I knew we were after trolls. t was at the table that I realised that it was ranged touch, and so Switch would do sneak attack damage. Dave clarified that yes, if you sneak attack with energy damage then the damage type is the same as that of the attack. So Morgana is doing 5d6 fire (2nd level spell) and Switch 2-and-a-half d6 acid per round with a cantrip. Switch could have done a flaming sphere as well, but I wanted to keep something in reserve. As per last week – this character is starting to come together. 3 kills out of four, if you include the kill-steals 🙂 .

So, we eventually defeated two trolls which we believe are not as big as the troublesome ones. It’s a great worry how difficult it was to do. We are going to have to rethink tactics. I would love a wand of scorching ray. A wand of Flame Arrow would be good too – the spell is beyond my abilities at present – but it would cost thousands.

Anyway.

With fondness, as always,
Your sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


Fun with anti-semitism

28 November, 2010

So, I was watching a Seinfeld ad.

For Australians who don’t get it – lord knows, it took me ages to work it out – Seinfeld is about New York jewry. A whole bunch of the humour is cultural references. Seems a swag of european jewry emigrated to America last century, and kind of stayed in the first town they came to. Not so many came here, which is why we can miss it.

Anyway. Those guys are white. Look at ’em! Lilly-white, the lot of ’em.

Which raises some fun questions. Semites are brownish. The only way you wind up with white semites is interbreeding with caucasians. Now … for centuries, jews were an underclass in europe. So, here are the two possibilities:

  1. For centuries, white european women were slavering for jewish “shmuck” and marrying jewish men
  2. For centuries, jewish women were doing what they had to to keep body and soul together (or just being raped by the landlord), and passing off the bastards as jews.

Call me silly, but I’ll go for option two.

Now … this does raise awkward questions with respect to the fact that Jehovah made his promise to Abraham and his sons. The problem being that none of these white yiddish-speaking people in europe are sons of Abraham. If he were to have a say in the matter, he’d be like “That’s no son/daughter of mine.”

Get it? The central problem causing the Israel/Palestinian conflict – the ancestral claim of the jews on that land – is void under its own terms. If it is the word of Jehovah that cedes that land to the sons of Abraham, then by that very criterion today’s so-called “jews” are ineligible, because Jehovah only counts the sons-of-sons.

Who is entitled to the land, then, according to Jehovah? Well … I suppose the population that stayed in motherfreaking Israel, aka ‘Palestine’, when the romans scattered the sons of Abraham across the world. No wonder these faux sons of Abraham hate the palestinians. Calling today’s “jews” ‘jews’ is like calling american negroes ‘negroes’.

Speaking of antisemitism: have you ever noticed how much the caricature of the arab “terrorist” – the hooked nose, the beady eyes – resembles the 1930’s german propaganda poster of the jew?


Kingmaker

24 November, 2010

Brett is back with us this week, and we were able to proceed with some more storyline

We had some discussion as to what to do next. We decided that it would be best to deal with the lizardmen encamped around the lake to our south, and then perhaps to investigate that tower in the centre of the lake – the subject of Rainor’s vision quest.

So we set off to the encampment. We were ambushed by some lizardmen sentries and took one as prisoner (glossing over a number of unpleasant details), and he told us – well – everything we needed to know, really. The lizardman village was on an island in the swamp, surrounded by a palisade. We considered options, and eventually decided to use my extremely precious scroll of Fly (I had not been able to transcribe it into my spellbook, yet – it was a little beyond me). We would enlarge His Lordship, cast Fly on him, and he and the witch would carry everyone over the defenses.

Well, a Fly spell does not a skilled flyer make. We landed roughly, but all together and in one piece. “Take us to our leader!”, said His Lordship – in very bad draconic – and the leader came out. And ordered his warriors: “Kill them!”.

Well, that took care of a number of moral ambiguities that I had been a trifle uncomfortable about. The chief was a giant, and beat up His Lordship rather badly. He would have shrugged off Morgana’s blindness spell, and so I Glitterdusted him. It took two goes.

In retrospect, our tactics were wrong. Rainor was focussing on the Lizardmen mobbing him, and I was shooting at the now-blind chief. But even blinded, I couldn’t get through his armour. What we ought to have done is have Rainor ignoring the Lizardmen around him – I should have gone in with my rapier or just shot them – and concentrate on the chief. Worked more as a team.

We won anyway. The warriors having been defeated, the rest of the village took flight. Except for Timmy.

I should explain. Two years ago, before this whole “Kingdom” business, there was a poster up at Olegs, offering a reward for anyone who could find a lost boy named Timmy. Well, we – we never really got around to it, you know? And gave him up for dead.

Well, Timmy was in the crocodile pit – by which I mean minding the crocodiles. We captured him and have returned him to his parents, who were surprisingly good about it. Everyone seems very happy that we “rescued” the boy, except perhaps the boy himself. Frankly, I don’t think it will end well. It might be a wise move to see if we can attach him to the sootscales – he could become an amazing ally, or a real problem.

Oh well. On to the tower, which we have left alone for too long.


The lizardman chief had some sort of fey or elemental with him that shot lightning. When he died, that elemental shot off towards the tower. Forewarned, Rainor and I prepared as many Resist Energy spells as we could. Five between us – enough for everyone. Rainor’s spells would not last as long as mine, but I had prepared a few scrolls a while ago and still had them, so we were set. I gave one scroll to Rainor and two to Morgana.

We landed on the island midmorning. Apart from the tower itself, there were some ruined outbuildings – just outlines on the ground. We approached the tower with all caution, but there was nothing happening.

The building itself was some sort of structure extending into the sky surrounded at the base by a two-level building, with a broad stone walkway/steps leading up.

Inside was really quite extraordinary. A stone obelisk of some sort. Mainly grey-white, but blackened towards the tip as if it had been burned. There were several layers of writing – the inside of the walls, engraved into a circle around the base of the obelisk, and a band of writing on the obelisk itself.

The band of writing on the obelisk itself was most curious – an etched inscription al done in one continuous stroke, along which some sort of silvery liquid flowed. The whole was encased in some sort of force effect or other protective – we could not touch it.

The band of writing engraved into the floor had been defaced, and what was written on the walls appeared to be graffiti. None of us could read any of it, although the writing on the floor seemed to be lawful in nature, and that on the obelisk itself chaotic. The magic auras were abjuration and conjuration – an odd mix. But we could make nothing more of any of it.

Investigating the floor below this – viewing platform, I suppose – we found braces and structural supports that could possibly be damaged.

We decided to wait until midnight. Our Resist Energy spells would run out, of course, but I could meditate and prepare them again before then, sometime near the end of first watch. We made camp outside.



I’m really quite pleased about the role my character played here. The trick to playing a wizard is that you must scribe scrolls. You have a lot of variety, but not many slots. A spell that you know but cannot cast when you need it is pointless. The solution is scrolls and wands. It’s expensive … but then again, you are not spending cash on armour and weapons like a fighter has to.

My favourite moment of play is “Oh – I got a spell for that”. I don’t mind that my character is a “mechanic”, is one spell level behind and somewhat dependent on items. She scribed the scrolls herself, after all, and low-level spells can be very, very handy in surprising ways. It’s correct for a rogue to be a “bag ‘o tricks” character. Morgan likes being artillery, so it all works out nicely.

In short – the character is starting to work. This could very easily have resulted in deaths without my character preparing those three scrolls.

Wish there was a way to scribe scrolls more cheaply but meh: we can’t allow wizards to have infinite spells, any more than we can hand out 2nd-ed vorpal weapons. I will start crafting wands, definitely – Resist Energy is a case in point. Our party of five will burn through five castings – seven if we do the animal companions. Wands are a must-have for spells that you need lots of, for one-per-person buffs. Morgana can take Craft Wondrous Item. It’s a pre-req for Craft Construct, which Morgan is inexplicably keen on.

At dusk, things started happening. The obelisk became active, and two of those lightning motes appeared. They attacked. Those three scrolls came in very, very handy. I can just manage to cast a spell without preparing it (bonded item), and so I protected His Lordship. Mogana gave her scrolls to Rainor (Protection from Energy is a little foreign to her, and she decided to to risk miscasting it), and Rainor protected everyone else except His Lordship’s shieldbearer, whom we advised to get down.

With that protection, the motes were only a nuisance – except for the sheildbearer, who was fried terribly. We burned 225gp worth of scrolls, and worth every penny. We couldn’t hit these things – they were just too fast. I didn’t even bother. I went into the building to see the obelisk for myself.

It was – quite extraordinary. Pulsing and carrying on. I really, really couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Morgana joined me, and eventually we puzzled it out. The stone trapped some sort of entity, which was being used to open a portal to the negative material plane. To deal with it, we had to deal with that band of writing around it – but it was protected by that force effect, and we had no way to deal with it.

So we ran outside, and told everyone to run for it. After we got a way from the tower, the motes stopped pursuing us.

In retrospect, it’s somewhat clearer now. The writing around the base of the monolith was from the same time as the thing itself. At some time in the past it was attacked, burned, and bound by a chaotic enemy. Hence the graffiti, the defacement of the original writing, and the bindings. There is still something there, and it is being bound to summon these motes and who knows what else.

It’s a simple matter to deal with freeing the thing. Morgana can prepare a Dispel Magic (it’s a little beyond me at present). That will dampen the force long enough for us to physically chisel and damage that inscription around which the silver liquid flows. Maybe simply blocking the flow for a few moments will be enough. But should we? Is the power in the stone being forced to bring forward creatures from the negative material plane, or is it being kept from doing so?

Option two is to damage the foundations of the building, perhaps toppling or breaking the stone.


Kingmaker

15 November, 2010

Michael,

Well, Rainor is lucky to be alive. Really. Even with the aid of magic, it will take him a week or two to recover from the blood loss. I mean, the rest of us are all luckyy to be alive, too. I escaped without a scratch – but only because the fighters were up front taking the brunt of it all. Rainor’s wolf companion saved the lot of us.

We have started to explore the south, a rather more dangerous area than the areas we have pacified already. Last week, we found an old-style fort. One of ours. You know the ones? Central tower, and a smaller tower at each point of the compass? A relic of grander days. If we proceed with this idea of one city each, perhaps I might claim dibbs on it.

Of course, we had to investigate and clear it. Pretty much straight away we were attacked – they almost cut His Lordship in two by dropping the old portcullis on him, he just managed to dodge aside – winding up alone on the inside of the keep. I used one of my new spells “Expeditious excavation” to dig out some of the dirt under it so we could get inside and join him.

We were being attacked by some sort of elemental or fey – fey, I think – moving too fast to easily be seen. Some of us attempted to engage it, although Morgana was the one who finally downed it with a sleep spell of some kind.

In the inner tower, his lordship found a trap on the stairs, and called me to disable it. I got caught by it – a spray of narcotic perfume, an attack designed to weaken the will. But I managed to spike the thing after a bit.

Meanwhile, everyone was investigating the other towers. One was full of rats, and Morgana dealt with that with a fireball – I know that much. Noisy. Two of the others I am not so certain about.

The fourth tower was home to [the elvish name for] an assassin vine, and there was something else in there as well. Morgana and I used Flaming Spheres on the vine (which allow you to attack without getting to close), His Lordship used his morning star, and Rainor shot the thing, and we brought it down. The other thing inside – another fey, think – Morgana blinded.

And that left the inner tower and its now-disabled staircase.

Rainor and I … actually, I think I went up first, then His Lordship’s shieldbearer followed. Upstairs there was a a room and a fey had taken up residence! I was so happy – you know part of the reason I went along with this whole business was to see some of the fey. She began to do this dance thing, and it was entrancing – I couldn’t pull my eyes away. Morgana came upstairs and she reacted similarly.

Then Rainor, all of us just watching the dance. When she started clawing and biting at Rainor’s neck, when the blood began to flow – it all seemed so natural and right. Sensuous and wild and, well, fey. There was some sort of fight downstairs, but finally his lordship came up and began to watch, too. All of us simply entranced while this thing was killing Rainor, and was going to go on to kill each of us, too.

Finally, Rainor lost so much blood that he could no longer stand and he collapsed. [It was doing Con and Str damage. Luckily for us all, Rainor ran out of Str first.]. That broke his trance, and he whistled for his wolf companion. The wolf came up the stairs and attacked the thing, tripping it over. And that broke the trance over the rest of us. Without the ensorcelment of its dance we were a match for it, and killed it – although it still took a bit of doing.

It was a damn near thing. If it wasn’t for the wolf, we would all be just another set of corpses fed to the rats downstairs. We looted the place – a couple of rather nice antiques from the [insert elvish word here] period, I think. And then we came back to the castle to recuperate.

It was a very, very close thing indeed. But, we are still alive and that’s what counts.

Until next I write,
Your sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


Prometheus replies

13 November, 2010

And so, at the agora, a public trial of one Prometheus: a stranger, a wanderer, who had gone about saying that he had the secret of lightning, to put it in a bottle and make it serve the purposes of man.

A trial for blasphemy. For sacrilege. For making of himself a threat to public safety. Public safety? Indeed. The Thunderer – Zeus himself – would avenge his name and the affront to his dignity and smite the whole city, if he were not silenced. His talk of catching and keeping the sacred lightning, his arrant hubris, was a threat to the life of every man of Athens. A capital crime.

With witnesses and evidence undeniable the case against Prometheus was made. Finally, it came his turn to make reply. He rose from his seat, turned to address the crowd, and answered them thus:

“Men of Athens, you accuse me today of blasphemy, of sacrilege. My words I will not deny, nor retract. Yes, I have the secret of the thunderbolt. Yes, you can harness it as a man harnesses an ox, for any purpose you should desire. Yes, with the simplest of devices affixed to your home you need nevermore fear the thunderbolt of Zeus. All of these things I have said. All are true.

“You have charged me with blasphemy. I am neither surprised nor dismayed: for men have always said such things. I ask: what know you of blasphemy? Of sacrilege? Who are you judge such matters?

“Hear this story:”


In the beginning, men were strong and shaggy, and lived without writing, or farming, or any contrivance of civilisation. They were fierce and brave, but were not without fear, for they feared three things above all. They feared the darkness, and they feared the destroyer.

The darkness lived in caves and in deep forest. Each night, Apollo (whose name they did not know) would depart, and the darkness would emerge from its hiding places. It would bring cold, and the hunter, and the crawling thing, and it would take the sight from man, and make him helpless.

The destroyer came rarely, but was very terrible. The sound of him! The smell of him, carried on the wind! He would sweep across the land, and all that lived would flee. Those who did not, or could not, the destroyer would consume, leaving only dead bones black and brittle.

Things would have remained forever thus, but for this: The Destroyer hated the Darkness, and The Darkness hated The Destroyer.

One day the destroyer came to a man – not in his full power, but small, the size of a fist – and spoke to him, saying: “You know me: I am the destroyer, the eater of all that lives. Hear me! Ally yourself with me, and I will keep the dark at bay. ” But the man was frightened, and ran.

Again and again the destroyer made his offer, to this man or that, until one day he approached a man unusual among his kind. He was wise, and answered the destroyer, saying “Tell me more. What more do you offer? What price must I pay? And how can I be sure you will not slay me?”

The destroyer answered him, saying “Keep me with you always, take me into your home. Feed me and tend me. I will keep the dark and the cold from you and your house. The hunter will not dare to approach me. My breath shall keep the creeping thing from you. Make for me a bed on which to lay, and I will not harm you or yours- I swear it. This also I offer: share your meat with me. The fat of it, and the marrow of the bones shall be mine. In return, I will change the flesh of it, and clean it, and make it soft and sweet. Here beside me lies some meat I have changed. Try it!

The man was hungry, for his hunt had not succeeded. He smelled the meat that had been changed, and tasted it, and it was fragrant and soft and sweet as the destroyer had promised. He considered the bargain offered him and decided to accept, and so he stretched out his hand and took with him the branch on which the destroyer stood. How they wailed when he arrived back at home! “He has brought the destroyer among us!”, they cried, “Slay him!” They ran at him, but he held the destroyer in his hand, and they could not approach him for fear.

And so the man and his children kept the destroyer among them always. They made a bed for it, and fed it, and shared their meat with it. They learned to give to it earth to change it into bright metal, with which they made axes to cut down the forests where the darkness and the hunter lived. They spread across all the land.

The destroyer did not keep his oath. As often as he could, he would escape from his bed, and he would grow great and slay and consume. But man had grow smaller and weaker – if wiser – and could no longer eat meat which had not been changed, nor keep back the hunter without weapons of bright metal. He could no longer live without the destroyer by his side always. He was bound by his ancient bargain, and so matters stand today.


“Men of Athens: you speak to me of sacrilege, of blasphemy. But what do I see in that lamp by the door? What lies slumbering in your hearth? He is here! He is here! The hater of life! The consumer, the ravager, the destroyer! You speak to me of sacrelige, when you have taken the great monster into your home, and share your meat with him, and teach your children to care for him, and keep him with them always. But always he hungers for all life, and to escapes his bed and consume. Never has he kept his oath, and you know this, but keep him with you nevertheless.

“I have not spoken of the Gods. Nor have I spoken of the third thing that men feared. With the Gods, men made another bargain, to ward them against this last thing. For more than the darkness, more even than the destroyer, men feared one another. In this, they were wise. Is it not in your hearts now to slay me?

The men of Athens considered the words of Prometheus, who offered them the secret of the thunderbolt. They spoke no word, but exchanged glances with one another, and nodded in agreement, and rose from their seats, and howling, fell upon him and tore him to pieces.


Humans – Homo sapiens – craves cooked meat. Most people do not thrive on a vegetarian diet. We need meat, and not just meat, but cooked meat. Think about that: the need to use fire is genetic – it’s in our DNA. It’s as necessary to us as our gut bacteria.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus offered the gods their choice of the fat or the meat for the sacrifice, and the gods chose the fat. But I think it goes back even further than that. Consider act of sacrifice as an archetype. It’s essence is this: you give something up, and it is given back to you – maybe not as much as what you gave up – but what you get back is changed. It is made holy.

Prior to the Gods, there was fire. These religious ideas – of sacrifice, of transformation – came from the greatest and most important discovery … ever, really. The discovery that makes us specifically human. The day we learned to cook.


Work related posts have been moved.

9 November, 2010

My work and computing related posts are now at

If you have come here from a work-related perspective (computing, semweb, bioinformatics, math). Perhaps you could go there right now and not read the gory personal stuff here.

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Kingmaker

7 November, 2010

Oops – skipped a week. I’ll try to remember what happened

Michael,
It’s an absolute whirl of activity – I shouldn’t have left it so long to write to you. We explored almost all of the lands to our north. To the northwest we found this statue of Erastil (or something), and just to the south of that we found a suspicious looking pool with a dead unicorn nearby. No ordinary unicorn, either – I think it was some sort of avatar of the forest. We decided to explore south and east – heading towards Melanae’s grove, and we met this dryad, who asked us to deal with a “Scythe Tree”. We did – a difficult fight, but we managed it.

We went back to the dryad – she was very grateful – and then to Melanae’s grove, but she had already headed off to the castle. We caught up with her there, and she was terribly shocked and distressed. I’d like to know more, but I’m not sure how to ask.

What else? Some settlers came south to set up house in the forest. Melanae insists on having veto on activity in there, but, well – it was a bit beyond our immediate territory. Never mind, though, we have annexed it, and extended Fort Tuskwater. We have also built a cathedral! It looks … a tad lonely, all but itself, but the bishop isn’t complaining. We have built some improvements at Oleg’s – quite the little township.

The money is positively rolling in. I’m a little worried that we haven’t spent a lot on defences, seeing as we know for certain that we have – not to put to fine a point on it – enemies. The kingdom (sorry, barony) is getting a little difficult to manage.

Oh! How could I forget to mention! We had a bit of a problem with a cult of some human goddess who tends to attract certain women – let’s just say it’s the goddess of poisoning your husband. We put a stop to it hard: I pulled everyone off their normal duties and set them to tracking down these people, and we found that they had set up shop in a barn in one of the farms outside the city. We surrounded it with a cordon of Kundal’s finest and went in. Morgana and I Glitterdusted most of them, but the priestess/ringleader was not affected by our spells. Apart from turning all sparkly. But no matter – Rainor had some human bane arrows and she was dead in a trice. The cultists that tried to escape were killed by his Lordship and/or caught by the cordon. (Actually, his lordship tripped a few of the blinded ones). There was this magical book thingy, which Morgana, his Lordship’s shield-bearer, and I dealt with – but it turned out to be nothing of real magical power- it was just for show.

Really, it all went about as well as it could possibly go. The cultists were stealing and sacrificing babies: the whole lot of ’em were executed, but in a open and legal fashion, after a trial with a “jury” (a bit of an innovation, that – His Lordship is very progressive). We didn’t torture people or fiddle about, nothing to distres the commons, it was just a clean, surgical strike. The shrine in the barn had blood everywhere – there was no question of their guilt.

I have decided not to fire Firthak. The man is just so incompetent and stupid that he is absolutely invaluable. People up to no good expect to be spied on, so it makes sense to give them someone to keep an eye on, someone easy to evade.

As for me (how long has it been since I mentioned anything personal!) my studies are not progressing in any orthodox fashion, but rather well in their own way. I am certain that I can combine the things I have learned by simply surviving our various fights with magic. [We leveled up. Switch is now Rog3/Wiz3 and qualifies for Arcane Trickster]. It’s a matter of … well, it’s difficult to describe. But it can be done. With respect to more orthodox matters, I think I will put some effort into learning to construct wands. I’ve been scribing scrolls, but it’s just so expensive! I have been using certain spells over and over, it just makes sense to take the time and money to make a wand.

In any event. Freedonia is, well, beginning to feel like home. I have not forgotten our forest, but for now there is just so much to do!

Your sister,
Seldrynn.