Northern Reaches

Ranger's Log 2
Stirling, Ranger's Log 2

After recuperating in town from the horrors of the night of the spiders, we survivors decided to hunt down a bear that had been attacking travelers on the road south of town. This seemed a task I was well-prepared for, but the fates seem to have a cruel path for me to follow.

Knowing that bears can be formidable foes, we recruited two Dwarves from the tavern. As can be typical of their kind, they were boastful and surly, with the cleric seeming particularly unintelligent, if doughty. My other companions seemed to agree with me that their rough ways would be tolerable if they could stand their ground against this man-eater bear.

We weren’t far outside of town when we came across the tracks of a cart that had been assaulted by bandits. With the fresh snow it was not difficult to see the tracks of the three archers as they attacked the cart, and to determine they had departed with the cart not more than an hour before we arrived.

With the writ for our reward for eliminating such bandits in hand, we continued along our original course at speed, in anticipation of overtaking the slowly-moving cart. When we spotted them in the distance, it was surprising to see that only two men were visible driving the cart, which was laden with coffins..

In our hasty attack, my arrows quickly felled the archers driving the cart, but I was shocked to turn and find Luth lying in the cart, stricken by a dagger in his neck. The elf Nostic summoned some sort of giant pig directly into the cart, obscuring my view of proceedings. We quickly learned the source of the dagger, as the Stag Lord himself burst from one of the coffins in a horrifying rage, causing the pig to disappear as he rose through it, reeling with drink even as he moved to attack our band.

Brave Nostic moved some distance away and began using his arts on the muscle-bound fiend, to some effect, as he dropped his weapons, as the Dwarven cleric took action that belied his stuporous expression, snatching away the Stag Lord’s sword before the villain recovered his senses.

The monstrous brigand shook off the unnatural effects as well as heavy axe and arrow strikes, rising to draw his own bow and struck Brave Nostic in the back even as the wizard looked to reconnoiter a position further away to attack from. The elf was felled almost immediately from the savage shot. The dwarves attempted to turn the combat in our favor, struggling hand-to-hand with the enormous villain even as Luth and Nostic lay bleeding. My arrows continued to strike home and the Stag Lord bled profusely, but he seemed unnaturally strong as he continued to fight, striking down those who would oppose him. As the cleric ran to assist our dying Elf, he too was struck by an arrow and went down. The Stag Lord then turned his attentions to me. A mighty draw on his bow loosed an arrow that grievously wounded me.

It is not without shame that I admit at this point I fled the field of battle, riding a short ways off before falling out of the saddle and crawling into the bushes like the wounded animal I was, leaving our last doughty dwarf locked in mortal combat with the Stag Lord, as our compatriots lay dead or dying around them.

Hours passed as I tended to my wound as best I could, gathering the strength to crawl back out of the bushes as the darkness and snow and cold closed in around me.

When I returned to the scene of the fray, I found the Dwarves had recovered and stoic Luth was again awake and alert. Nostic was cold and stiff. I learned that the Stag Lord, cruel fiend that he is, had nailed them into the coffins and left them to a cruel fate. He had underestimated the strength and resilience of the Dwarves, however, as the cleric had managed to recover from his wounds and smash his way free of the deadly confinement.

With night quickly approaching in the freezing cold, the danger was clear. We loaded those too injured to travel, as well as the feather-light corpse of dead Nostic, into the cart. Only my faithful horse remained to draw the sad load back to the safety of Oleg’s outpost. Another mission gone horribly awry, another companion slain. Do the gods intend for me to suffer forever? I refuse to lay down and die.

As we recovered, the Dwarves again demonstrated the indomitable spirit of their kind, quickly insisting that we resume our pursuit of the dread bear.

We set out again, exploring a unique geographical feature we had found earlier, finding a boar resting within, which allowed me to demonstrate the efficacy of my trap, as we trapped and killed the creature without undue trouble. We made an interesting discovery there, which I hesitate to document in too much detail.

Continuing towards the area of the bear attack, I spotted in the snow bare footprints of two men. From the stride and seeming imperiousness to the weather, it quickly became clear that the undead were once again walking in the area. We soon found the tracks of the bear, moving alongside the path followed by these zombies, leading into the cemetery.

The disturbingly purposeful tracks of the undead indicated a foul intelligence directing the soulless wights’ actions. I shudder to think what that could be, and hope my companions’ goals take me far from such evil.

Luckily, the bear’s tracks diverged from those of the shambling monstrosities. The creature had made its home in a large well-maintained sepulcher for the Boyars and their kind, a further deviation from normal behavior from its kind on top of the disturbed hibernation and attacks on humans. We prepared ourselves much as we had for the boar, with the trap armed but not staked to the ground, for fear that the hammering would disturb the beast. Luth volunteered himself to sneak in and try to espy the beast, but he had not so much as cracked the door to the tomb when the bear furiously bowled him over and tried to ram itself out of the door. The trap sprung closed on the creature’s paw with great ferocity and our Dwarves quickly slew the beast. Finally, we had actually accomplished something we had set out of town to achieve. Now only the arduous task of dragging the corpse back to town for our reward.

Before we left, some demonic curiosity drove us to follow the tracks of the zombies. Perhaps the creatures did not seem so frightening an idea in the bright light of mid-day. Not far from the bear’s home we found a second structure, this clearly for those of lower birth. Peeking inside once again, we found a grisly array of bodies piled one on top of the other in quite an unnatural manner. Fearing that we would be overwhelmed by the risen dead, we dragged the bear’s carcass in front of the door to trap them within it as the dwarven cleric drew upon the power of his god to cast them down.

Peering through cracks in the door as the cleric chanted, the creatures began to groan and writhe as they rotted before our eyes. Our cleric continued, and more of them simply fell apart, until finally he had exhausted himself, leaving the remaining bodies appearing as if they had been badly burned. As they clawed through the door and attempted to clamber out of their tomb again we hacked them apart. When they had all been brought down, the cleric and the monk agreed the bodies must be burned. Curiously we found that many of the bodies were elven, dressed for the woods and not this area. Perhaps it would be worth asking the local elves if they had heard about attacks on their kind. What dark force must be behind the purposeful actions of these foul creatures?

Back in town, I shudder to think what fate will put before me next.

Ranger's Log 1

Stirling, Ranger’s Log.

I’d returned to the edge of town to trade in the latest batch of wolf pelts after a hunt. Oleg’s trading post had the usual mix of hangers on, but my attention was drawn to two in particular. An odd pairing—the first was an elf, frail even by his people’s standards, in the robes that clearly identified him as a wizard, and he stood in stark contrast to his companion, a haggard looking human rippling with muscles he was clearly no stranger to combat, but went unarmed and unarmored. The severe callouses on his fists identified him as a fighting monk, of what sect I have no idea.

The two of them were pondering a longbow finer than any I have ever drawn. The monk, as is typical of his kind, showed no interest in using it, and the bow’s draw was laughably beyond the pitiful strength of the elf. I approached them, in hopes of a bargain price, but ended up riding with them to town. There the elf, Nostic, and his companion, Luth, met with a surprisingly well-armed priest in a run-down temple. This priest, Phillipe, promised reward in the form of a nice purse of gold if adventurers could venture into a monastary sunken into the Graidmere swamp and retrieve various documents of interest to his sect .

Tiring of hunting wolves, I offered to provide my knowledge of the area and woodcraft to this mis-matched pair in return for ownership of the longbow after an appropriate amount of service, and they accepted. I learned along the way that they had been traveling with a cavalier, but he had departed under mysterious circumstances. I did not inquire further.

We had not even traveled a day outside of the city when we came upon an upturned cart and the remains of a battle. It was clear to me that four brigands had fell upon a glass merchant and his mule, making off south with the mule and the glass while the merchant fled north. As I began explaining the meaning of the spoor to my companions, Nostic quickly demonstrated far more knowledge of tracking than I would expect from a Wizard. Nostic and Luth revealed they had license to collect bounties on any criminals in the area, and we quickly agreed to pursue the stolen goods and those that had taken it. Looks like I’m still hunting wolves.

We passed the group without being noticed and laid in wait for the Wizard’s signal, with tender-hearted Phillipe remaining behind to hold our mounts. Unbelievably, he was able to cause three of the brigands to fall asleep in mid-stride, with the donkey snoring away as well. The group’s leader was hit by my arrow but still managed to slip into the tall grasses. Luth’s keen eyes and martial skills quickly found and subdued the man. We questioned him and one of his underlings, learning that the palisade outpost in the distance was their aim, the current operating base of the Stag Lord, a menace and a villain with quite a bounty on his head, with our captive being one of his lieutenants. My companions and I are an insufficient force to overcome this stronghold and then men within, so we merely dispatched our captives, moved the bodies into a dale, and returned northwards towards the swamp, hoping to overtake the mule’s owner.

With night approaching and fearing reprisal should the bodies be discovered, we pitched a fire-less camp well off the road. Alas, it was an ill-fated night.

As I lay sleeping, Luth called out a warning. We had been set upon by a pair of mites, and far worse, they sat astride fell spiders. Combat had just begun when I felt the sting of the spider’s fangs and was mightily weakened by its venom, leaving me disoriented and fighting in a haze that rendered me seemingly unable to strike any opponent with my weapon. Luth was gravely weakened as well, as was Phillipe. Our Wizard spent the entire encounter cowering behind one of his illusions. Even as we struck down the spider that had bitten me, as well as its screeching rider, mighty Luth keeled over, but not before killing the second spider, leaving the final mite webbed to a carcass, screeching with rage.

I still shudder to think of the fate that befell noble Phillipe that night. Just as we looked to be on the verge of defeating our foes, the holy man succumbed to the spider’s poison and keeled over within reach of the final, horrible mite. The tiny abomination raised its weapon, a knife that wouldn’t be fit for even a small man to use at the supper table, and fell upon the prostrated priest. I never would have imagined such a tiny blade could strike such gruesome wounds, and I’m not sure that any amount of drink will wash the tiny abomination’s screech of victory from my mind.

After failing several times, either due to the poison or my own seething rage, I finally dispatched the mite with an arrow as it sat astride its dead mount. Luth quickly recovered his strength, and the group sat in silence around the slain holy man.

As I write, we return to the city of Karcau, our mission abandoned with the death of the priest, to lick our wounds. I can already hear the call of the tavern. I hope the spiraling blackness of drink will drive the spiders and their horrible riders from my mind forever.


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