East of Winter

Law and Order
The Fugitive

Dear Dream Journal,

Marble columns, austere architecture, pervasive repetition and consistent formatting.  Remidon really gets how to administer a criminal justice system.

The council of the arch magi had brought my brother, Imildrak, to trial for his crimes against humanity.  First they brought an expert witness on the stand who explained how evil acts shift the cosmic balance of good and evil gods.  Both I and Milton gave what I consider to be a fair account of Imildrak's deeds.  I got a little heated on the stand and revealed that a massive orc army was amassing at the eastern edge of Remidon.  I called loudly for an execution by orc.  My advice fell on deaf ears and I was dragged off of the stand whilst shouting and gesticulating.  "Yes he's a monster, but he's OUR MONSTER!!!"  Couldn't they see how a final act of redemption would be good for both the world and my brother's immortal soul?

None of the testimony that I gave was as damning as what Imildrak said about himself.  Revealing the number of bodies he has raised to be in the hundreds.  He also talked about 15 children he raised.  I had assumed those were adult goblins…Nature never was my strong suit.

The judge was extremely lenient and sentenced Imildrak to a paltry 3 years in prison.  A blink of an elven eye.  I thought this was a huge win for him.  He was apparently less enthusiastic about the outcome and he made his escape with a Dimension Door spell. 

I was extremely disappointed with Remidonian security and decided to take matters into my own hands.  I convinced the counsel to name me as the chief inquisitor in charge of bringing in Imildrak.  They assigned 7 bounty hunters to this task.  They placed a sizable bounty on Imildrak's head as well.  I ported the bounty hunters with me back to Cradle.  Skulk also accompanied us, but he disappeared before the orcs showed up for round 2.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I didn't think Imildrak would be able to make it back to Cradle as quickly as I had.  So you can imagine my surprise when I saw his Raven familiar, Quoth.  He bore a note for me asking for protection and promising to subject himself to the brand.  Those terms seemed reasonable, however, the specifics needed to be discussed.  I sent Quoth back with a letter asking Imildrak to parlay with me in Cradle so that we could come to terms.  We are brothers after all, there is no reason we couldn't settle this with a reasonable discussion instead of a world shaking magical apocalypse. 

Imildrak arrived at dusk, he was at the head of a column of undead.  The bounty hunters wanted to immediately attack my brother, but I had invited him here to talk in good faith.  It took some convincing but I got them to stand down…for the time being.

I told Imildrak that I could offer him protection if he subjected himself to the brand.  However, I have to bring him back to Remidon for the brand.  It isn't something I can cast myself….yet.  I also informed him that he would be talking to Jubilya again as part of the council's terms.  They want to rehabilitate him…or at least try, which is a noble goal.  I do not believe that my brother is beyond redemption.  He seemed less than enthusiastic about going to Remidon, we were exploring meeting at Duke Norway's instead when we were interrupted by the army of 1000 orcs.  Night had fallen, the raid had resumed.

A heavy fog descended over the whole town.  Manticore riders swooped down around town hall.  An army of undead orcs knocked on the front gates.  The assault on the front was a ruse, as we shifted forces to meet the assault the back gate was blown off the hinges by a crude explosive.  Wave after wave of orcish infantry spilled through the gate.

Runt and I had both summoned elementals which were critical to the town's defense.  Nocturne joined the fray with her potent magics.  Abaraxia and the bounty hunters held the orcs at the wall.  Imildrak commanded his undead hoard to defend the city.  After slinging many of his spells he transformed into a T-Rex and started eating orcs coming over the wall until his concentration was eventually broken.

The orcs had necromantic magics that allowed them to control the undead that Imildrak had summoned.  They turned a group of them on Abaraxia, but that didn't end well for the un-teds.

I discovered some sneaky orc rangers looting the temple.  I chased them about on my flying disc whilst hurling firebolts and insults at them until I could retrieve my monogrammed towels.  The orc hoard was being held back by my wall of fire in front of the sundered gate.  The fire has gone out now and the night is dark and full of terrors.  I write these words during a brief lull in the attack.  The air is electric with anticipation.  The calm before the storm.

Armed with many of my spells, a full compliment of 7 bounty hunters, and my stoned elemental I stand in anticipation of the brewing maelstrom.  Let them come.

Though I wander through the endless night I shall fear no evil for the light of Rhollor is with me.  The righteous shall be preserved, the wicked shall be cleansed.

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The siege of Cradle
The night of 1000 Orcs

Dear Dream Journal,

I had just arrived back in Cradle from a lackluster excursion into Barkhampstead.  It was dusk.  i was preparing myself for Imildrak's trial, which would take place the following morning.  It began with the beating of wings.  Manticore riders swooped down from the sky and dropped torches on the town.  Orcish ash rangers infiltrated the town and doused our beacon fires.  The battle of 1000 orcs had begun.

Zanath and Fenris proved very effective shooting the manticores from the sky.  The orcish Sky Riders fell to earth like rotten apples in a windstorm.  Fenris moved to the sewers to help save the citizens.  Zanath moved to save his lumber mill from the flames.

Glim and his guards proved effective.  The guards seemed ill equipped but they fought well.  They certainly were proficient with the scorpion siege weapon.  I'm not sure if it was good training or white knuckled desperation that guided their hands.  

Amastacia lurked about and tossed a few half hearted cantrips about.  She can kindle a fire, but there is no fire kindled in her heart.  Until she gives herself to the flame I fear that her magic will not blossom to it's potential.

Esmerelda on the other hand was dropping hot fireballs on regiments of orcs like a world ending meteor shower of righteous fury.  She shows great promise.  If only she would venture forth from town more.  Her talents are wasted tending bar.

Umbriel fought bravely.  I swear I saw him fall off the side of a building, doesn't he have wings?  He ended up getting surrounded and severely beaten by a gang of orcs, although he tenaciously pulled through.  He was forced to withdraw after his resources were expended.

There was a strange bard who played piano during the siege.  I've never seen him around town before.  He didn't seem keen on sticking his neck out to help us.  Rode his horse off during the fight.  Probably a spy.

Runt pulled out all of the stops for this fight.  He transformed himself into a holy being of pure fire and laid waste to the orcish hordes.  I like him much better in elemental form and hope he spends more of his time on fire.

Abaraxia leapt off of a roof onto a flying manticore.  She succeeded in unsaddling the Sky Rider as the manticore flew higher.  Luckily I was there to cast feather fall to get her back down safely.  Together Abaraxia and I held the town hall and defended the citizens within.  Surrounded by a shield of fire I goaded the orcs into engaging me.  I was cut and beaten and bruised severely.  The pain was exquisite. 

Wave after wave of orcs came at the city.  The defenders were being worn down and driven into the sewers.  The orcs had followed them underground and the fight raged on through the night.  I had rained down the fires of judgment until the point of exhaustion.  I needed to regroup, and I had an important obligation half a world away.  With a snap of my fingers I was checking into a ritzy hotel in the capitol.  The sheets were of a sinfully decadent thread count and the food was a little too rich for my taste. 

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A New Wolf Joins the Hunt.

Finnian stands waiting on edge of the tourney ground. His Cousin Mara and an odd but very pretty blue skinned female named Karen climbed up to sit in the stands, the two young ladies seem occupied in conversation. He just hopes his nervousness didn't show, the Lord Norway's Master of the Hunt, Lord Sander Borja over looked the group of eager young squires all excited just to be able to watch this event. Finnian almost wished he could be just another one of those squires. Sense completing his training and joining his Cousins in the field he learned a lot. His eyes are now open to the many dangers the East holds. While he felt better prepared for this test then he ever believed possible, he just didn't see how adding three letter to the front of his name was going to do much to aid the brave adventurers he was looking to fight besides. 

It's funny how something you wanted your whole life, simply became another detail in the faces of new knowledge and Greater understanding. Then Borgia began speaking welcoming all the knights, and challenging the new Class of Winterwolves to prove themselves in the Three tests. The Legs of the Wolf, The Fang of the Wolf, and Running with the Pack.  

Though the exact forms of the test varied from year to year, the three tests all required the newly rising Winterwolves to prove fitness of body and mind, fitness in combat, and fitness to fight besides allies.  In truth Jelder and Mara had taught him before he had ever gone on an adventure, but knowing something and proving something were very different things. 

He was selected to go first in the Legs of the Wolf. The contest to catch a winter hare with ones bare hands before it escaped into the forest.  After doffing his platemail, Finn waited for Borgia release the white rabbit, Finn dashed after like a shot, surging ahead in a straight line sprint. He turned and quickly grabbed the bunny as it tried to run past him. He watch the 4 other contestants cheering and sympathizing when the final rabbit escaped.

Next the test of the Fang.   First facing a younger Knight of the order Finn, re-armored advanced wait for the combatant to close the distance. Then they carefully exchanged blows. Finn went back and forth for couple exchanges before hitting him across the belly and pushing him down to the ground. After the first melee, the other knights took there turn with mixed results. 

The second melee was against the famous swashbuckler of the Winterwolves. Though his skill was great he could not over come Finn's stubborn attack. As that combat drew to a close the contest was interrupted by the Lord Norways other henchman. Who was proud to exclaim how the Order of the Winterwolf has gone soft and his sent his man to test Finn. This opponent was polearm master using a spear and shield. 

His opening attack was devastating critical blow from his large steel shield, that luckly for Finn the effect was greatly negated by his Adamantine Platemail. Though ringing note from this shield was nearly deafening to whole crowd. The battle was hot and heavy and Finally drove Finn in a real fighting mode. Surging forward he stuck him down with four power great sword strikes, and demonstration of the Great Weapon Mastery. 

The second trial complete the ceremony was nearly disrupted as the Newly arrival Lord's attempt to redirect the tractional pack test of hunting a Winterwolf with the news the town was under attack from Gnolls. But bravely or maybe just because he was to much of a try hard, Finn suggest they complete both missions. 

Thrilled with this answer the various knights set out, companions in tow. Mara sat easily on her mule despite Finns repeated attempts to buy her a nice war horse, and Bubbles the Horse seemed ether skittish or maybe just his rider Karen was. They traveled back towards town about 6-8 hour journey though the snow and wind.  Just at the edge of the farms around town the Gnolls sprang their ambush. One large gnoll with an Axe sprang from the trees and attacked Mara and Finn fairly ineffectually. Then a larger one with claws and teeth sake its teeth into Finn. Finally two archers revealed themselves sending arrows into Finn and blue skinned Sorceress. 

Always Alter Finn acted during their surprise attack and struck at the Gnoll with the axe but failed strike true being at some disadvantage. In the next instant thing began to get bloody as arrows continued to be shot at the parties brave sorceress. With help from arrow from Mara, Finn finished the axe carrying Gnoll and yelled his Battle cry "Rally to Ravenfray" as he fell back trying in vain to shield the Sorceress, as she cast a spell a flew into cover behind a nearby tree.  After another fierce exchange of blows the last gnoll in melee was finished and the archers were defeated by Mara and the Mysterious Sorceress Karen. Deciding to camp where they were to rest and recover, they started a large Fire and picked watches.

As the Witching hour began the hair on the back of Finn's neck prickled. An unearthly howl spread into camp. A strange pack of wolves raced through the very trees. Before Finn could even yell wake the beasts were upon them. Running the very air after a exchanging blows with Finn. Hovering over the camp fire.  Finn dumped gift from Cicada Song to him. An oil etherlness, and struck once more at the ghost wolves. Their green ectoplasmic bodies seeming howl and bite in all directions. Karen was nearly killed before she could awake, but bravely recovered and flew into a superior attack position. Mara shot magic arrows into the beast, and Finn struck with all his might and freshly oiled blade into the heart of the pack. Quickly they dispersed leaving one behind asking them to avenge the death of this pack from the hands of Gnolls. Having some small experience with Ghosts from his time with the giants Finn readily agreed. Putting such a foe to rest was certainly their business. 

The rest of the night past peacefully, and they set out once more, but quickly found the remains of the gnolls and as luck or fate would have it, they currently in discussion with a Winterwolf. Well prepared this time, Mara and Karen struck with magical swiftness. Destroying most of the gnolls, before Finn could even close the distance with the foe beasts. He arrived barely in time to strike down a deeply wounded Gnoll, and then slew the Winterwolf, with a mighty blow to it's neck. 

Quest completed they gathered up their rather grizzly trophies and set out to find Borgia. Upon Showing their proof of success the order compensated the brave adventuresses for their time, and were proud to Knight, Sir Finnian Ravenfray of the Order of the Winterwolf. As the ceremony concluded an exhausted rider stumbled into the camp exclaiming the Orcs were attacking the town. 

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye
The Town Criers Call

The town criers call forth the news each day at dawn.  This is how information traveled in the feudal age.  Bards were social media and the local paper all combined into one.  On the morning of the second day of the new year, this was the news that rang out across the Kingdom of Remidon.

Be it known that the elf known as Imildrak Il'Mahkeem, formerly a Knight of Solaris, has been found guilty of grave robbery, resisting arrest, obstruction of the King's justice, and practicing in illegal, black magics.  He stands stripped of his lands and titles, owing restitution to the crown, and an outlaw of justice.  It falls to all of the King's subjects to aid in seeing justice meted out to this criminal. 

If you provide aid to the good King's agents in apprehending this man then you shall be compensated in the amount of 500 gold pieces.  If you apprehend him your reward shall be 5,000 gold pieces.  Anyone found aiding him shall suffer the same penalty as he.  That penalty includes restitution, imprisonment of no fewer than three years, and a branding of the Mark of Death. 

This decree is rendered on behalf of King Hecaton IV, ruler of the Kingdom of Remidon, protector of the Hillfolk, and commander of the Dragon Guard on this day, the second of Quantawhuir in the one thousand four hundred and seventieth year since the crowning of King Georje I, Slayer of Rothilhug the Red. 

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A Word of Caution

To those among my fellow adventures that it may concern. 

At some point I do hope to develop a coherent report concerning my time as an Adventurer, but it seems unnecessary at the moment.  Upon completion of Kali's quest and after getting her family and some her village to safety. A quest I was truly proud to be a part of my vanity requires me to add. Jelder and I returned to finish whomever or whatever was in charge of that gathering horde.  We arrived to find creature in question was already dead. But at least one very powerful caster remained. When we confronted him, he animated the many corpses from the previous night's fighting, and then opened what I believe is called a Gate Spell. Please understand that my knowledge is such areas is extremely limited. Jelder and I killed the remaining bug bear chieftains and eventually dispatched the undead despite their repeated reanimation. Then as it seemed clear something was about to come through the gate, we took cover to see what would come through. A large Demon, with massive pincers and a set of smaller "Human" sized arms stepped through. Though we both had sustained serious injury battling the undead for so long Jelder never hesitated, and he charged the beast from behind, unwilling to allow a demon free run in our world. I attacked with him, and though it was very close run thing, we managed to cut down the creature. Though I have fought some dangerous foes sense becoming an adventurer, never have I seen something that could create a gate spell. So be warned my fellow adventurers, something has stirred some very dangerous foes.

 

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Kindle the Light, Shelter the Light, Preserve the Light, Be the Light
Leading others towards redemption

Dear Meriarder, thank you for taking the chance and making me your first ever Paladin.  I hope to spread joy, love, and redemption in your name.

Dear Abby, thank you for mentioning your mentioning your mentor.  I've made you some relaxing tea.

Dear Sir Kedrum, thanks for beating me up.  I hope you find a reason to smile soon.  Don't forget, redemption is possible.

Dear Jelder, thanks for being the best friend ever!

Dear Finn, thanks for tagging along.

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Dispatches from the Edge
message for Cradlishians ... Cradlings? Whatever

This is Heimdall. He is primarily a friendly falcon, but he will nip at you if you do not feed him. He also will not leave until he is fed. It is his way. It's best to just give him what he wants.

I send him to you with news from the waters of Remidon. Mostly the news is that there is no news. We have yet to come across the reanimated hydra or the beast's head. This is a very boring mission. Despite the mind-numbing boredom, my crew and I shall continue to patrol the waters for the duration of the month.

Do not forget to feed Heimdall. It is in your best interest to do this. If you do not present him with a food option, he will seek one out on his own. He prefers eyes.

Good day.

-Fenriss, Admiral of Solaris

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Was told there was a Hydra. Was told there were slavers.
The day the hornets nest was kicked.

Mara here.  I've only been at this area for a little while, having fled an oppressive marriage vent mother to see how well the adventuring life goes as Cousin Jelder seems to be doing a lot of good.  Up until my most recent adventure, I thought I had been acclemating well. I mean I had no issues with talking cats or being shrunk to mouse size.  Then I overheard a group talking about a hydra head amd since hydras are dangerous (and i wanted to see fellow Archer Fenriss in battle) I followed along.  It was quuckly determined that this alleged hydra head that may or may not exists could not be located.  So we stopped at pier town and the uber religious makes we want to learn ice spells elf Al mentioned slavers.  Everyone seemed to say yeah there is an army of Orc slavers, lets get them.  I naively believed that we would go slay a bunch of slavers, free some slaves and loot the dead slavers to recoop any expenses spent and get rent money.  There were orcs there, I give the group that much credit.  I'm not sure if they were slavers as i saw no slaves.  Also, all we really did was get teleported by Al, go into a tower, only clesr 2 levels, then run away via teleport after Al made the executive decision that we needed to flee.  So we didn't kill confirmed slavers but we did kill just enough orcs to make them real mad.  Apparently that is what goes for being good and righteous in the frontier.  We should probably fortify Cradle for an upcoming orc army invasion.

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Tactical Sex Dungeon
Imaginary Zombie Hydra

Dear Dream Journal,

Aby and I investigated the missing hydra head that was stolen by Xele'tora from the Lodge of the Bear.  We discovered that it was not resurrected as some undead hydra monstrosity as we had feared.  It is in all likelihood being used as a spell component by Abaraxia's bitch mother, but there isn't anything we can do about it.  We visited the pier, Fenriss has her navy…which seemed to appear out of nowhere.  She seems to be enjoying the company of her seamen.

We decided to focus on a problem that we could actually deal with so we ported to Barkhampstead.  We assaulted the manticore tower and discovered a bunch of orc druids in scorpion form being milked for their poison.  We shut down the tactical sex dungeon and set fire to the building.  The gonging alarm sound seemed to originate from this tower.

Sir Milton, Fenriss and…I think there was a human but they all look alike…anyway they proved themselves to be greedy mercenaries and not at all invested in the holy quest of ridding the marches of monsters.  I have given them a black mark in my book of foul deeds and will be sure to watch them for more suspicious activity.

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Newly Arrived and already saving a Princess.
(With a Little Help)

Having freshly arrived in Cradle, Brave Blade Ander, had the good fortune to Stumble upon several Heroic adventures setting out to save a blacksmith whom for reasons only confused big folk favored, was off making House calls, in some dangerous country side. Setting forth these brave souls drove a lovely wagon off into the wilderness to the last known position of said Blacksmith.  After a couple brief skirmishes, in which Brave Blade Ander, bravely stayed well back and mocked the our foolish foes party discovered the wagon of our missing blacksmith. In the wagon they discovered a magical blade of light, which our brave heroes trust to Blade Ander as he seemed most fit wield such a weapon. After that they Layed to rest the Blacksmith's brave bodyguard whom had been killed by most cowardly poison. The Party soon followed the trail of the attackers. Laying into the Foes the brave Fighters and Paladin with aid from Ander's new improved sword skills,  soon slew the enemies taking on alive to question. Finding the path to the most villainous lair, our epic Heroes set out once more praying they would be in time to save the blacksmith whom they had discovered was rumored to be a natural daughter of the King. 

The Vile Varmint in question turned out to be a terribly mustached Human, with a shield that constantly made faces at the party. Bravely Abby freed the Princess, while the fighters faced off against  a spiritual weapon. After the melee ensued blows were exchanged, and the enemy was struck down, though the body disappeared before the blow sinister was struck. 

On the way back to town the braver heroes rid the world of a land shark. A good time was had by all, and a great deal coin was made. Now Ander must complete his first song, how I rescued the Princess with some help. What rhymes with princess? 

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