Finally able to write once again in this journal of mine! Between bandits, bears, fay, frogs, boggards, kobolds, undead ferrymen, smash mace first-ask questions later clerics, wheat obsessed rogues, and almost scarily powerful elven witches, I have been amiss in recording my adventures. We find ourselves camped near an old fort along the banks of the river that runs the edge of the southern forests. Rumor has it bandits inhabit the fort, and they greeted us with many a volley of arrows. Yuri set out to determine if their defenses are weak at any point, and he returned with…decent news.
It seems as though dark magic is at work at this fort. Yuri discovered one area which is not patrolled by the human residents of the fort, mainly because it is guarded by the once-human residents of the fort. Black and foul these undead creatures were that arose to attack my comrades and I when we approached the rear palisade, but the holy magic of Gretta and Iomedae’s divine grace allowed us to make short work of the damned sentries while Yuri and Inari scaled the palisade. I heard a bit of a yelp as someone sat on the business end of a spike, but aside from that and grave ichor on my armor, we made it within the fort proper with nary a scratch.
We hunkered down in the dark…not the most noble of things to do for a warrior of light, but an entirely pragmatic one. From counting the arrows launched at us we knew we were facing at least a dozen bowmen. Yuri took off to scout the fort area. He returned what felt hours later, but the moon showed to only be a few moments. A guard in the nearest hut was all that stood between us and some concealment from prying eyes. Yuri unsheathed his blade and performed his dark deed, but certainly no better than this scoundrel deserved. The two women and I remained in this first hut, eyes and ears straining to hear the results of Yuri’s next task, and with a sigh of relief the rogue returned with blades yet again bloodied. A narrow escape this time however, as he was forced to play the role of his most recent victim to satisfy the curiosity of a not so drunk watchman.
Yuri told us of a typical bandit scene; drunken degenerates enjoying ill gotten gains. He was particularly interested in three bandits that seemed to be alpha dogs amongst the ragged pack; a svelte rogue such as himself, a club wielding brute, and a man wearing a horned crest which could only be the Stag Lord himself. Many more bandits were enjoying the revelry, as well as a caged beast that was none to happy about it’s predicament. While my blood sang to wade into combat cooler minds prevailed and a plot was formed to isolate the Stag Lord from his compatriots. While I was none too happy about Inari playing the sacrificial maiden… even I can see her beauty and the desire she holds over men. And there is always the bone deep conviction I will do unholy things to any who touch her.
As quiet as scale mail wearing mice can be, we carefully snuck into the Stag Lord’s bedchambers. I remember all too fondly from my militia days that even the hardiest of drinkers soon succumbs to the siren call of sound sleep. With Inari on the Stag Lord’s bed, the rest of us hid in the shadows. We did not wait for long. With many a grunt and stumble, he made his way to the bed, and quickly flopped upon Inari! While I am remiss in admitting the actions of a drunken bandit took me so off guard, that is exactly what happened. The fight began in earnest once the gravity of his situation penetrated his drunken stupor.
Time and time again the Stag Lord and I traded blows, our armor soaking most of the damage. Rhythmic chanting erupted from Gretta as she sang her battle cry and bolstered her allies. Yuri impressed me yet again with his cat like reflexes and other worldly nimbleness. And Inari, my own dark goddess…the power she holds over her fellow mortals is…disturbing. We fought the Stag Lord and soon the rogue and brute as they arrived…but a curious thing happened. Another man whom Yuri had not mentioned to us held back the rest of the bandits. The fight was tough, but we prevailed…and found ourselves staring at bristling arrows.
This new man, Akiros as he named himself, held the bandits fast, and explained to us his disdain for the Stag Lord and his actions. Akiros and the remaining bandits joined forces with us to put down the raging owlbear that remained in the cage, and even though the beast broke free from his confinement, this fight was soon over.
Once the last blood had been shed, Akiros told us of his past; a fallen paladin of Erastil, with a story full of tragedy. And yet, one also of redemption, as Akiros agreed to man the fort and protect these lands for our charter in exchange for supplies and men. He told us of one final trial to securing the fort… a mad druid living in the dank walkways below the fort. The father of the Stag Lord himself. A bit of trickery afforded us a night’s rest, and come the dawn we four companions braved the dark crypts of the the fort.
Knowing our foe, I led the way into the crypts. Our exploration was rewarded immediately by mad laughter and a summoned giant ant. I stepped forth to battle the creature, and was caught off guard as the druid disappeared into the wall! That was a little trick Heket had never pulled from her dark tomes… but then again, Heket rarely dabbled in little tricks. Yuri sprung forth to surprise attack the druid when he returned, and return he did. With a maneuver that belied his “mad” title, the druid attacked Inari, recognizing her for the greatest threat. A swarm of spiders erupted over my sister who swatted ineffectually at them. With all my martial prowess, there was nothing I could do for her, and proceeded to kill the ant blocking my way to the druid. Ah, but Inari rarely finds herself in a situation that she cannot overcome. As evil and conniving as Heket was, she did prepare her daughter well for situations most mothers could not comprehend. With a flick of the wrist, Inari burned the swarm to cinders and lashed back at the druid with her own magic.
The ant a congealing pool of viscera and exoskeleton at my feet, I ran forth to engage the druid. With Yuri at his back, the druid became enraged and morphed into a giant badger. At this point, the druid’s audacity at hurting Inari outweighed any surprise I had left at his parlor tricks, and we made short work of him. Once returned to the surface, we took time to gather our supplies, the body of the Stag Lord, bid Akiros farewell and rode toward the fallen ferryman to fulfill a promise made. The Ferryman rewarded our group with a ran-sear once we unceremoniously dumped the Stag Lord’s corpse into the river. What fresh hells await the Stag Lord I do not know…but I do know all is deserved.
We returned to Oleg’s outpost and collected our reward for the death of the Stag Lord and his band of miscreants. Oleg and his wife were thrilled at the prospect of a bandit free forest and had high hopes of trading unmolested with the trappers and rangers in the area. Our group headed to Restov to resupply and procure more suitable gear for our adventures to come. While one great evil in our charter lands had been overcome, surely the Stag Lord will only be the first…and the least.