Gathering of An Army

Seriously, Bandits
Session 32

From the logs of Gregor Dereling, dated Arodus 13th…

A group of soldiers from Newhold settlement wandered into our establishment just before gate closing this evening. They claimed to have dispatched of a dozen or more bandits on their travels here. Seeing how we have even been having issues tracking down this nuisance, so perhaps at the least they will provide us with a suitable enough track to our enemy that we will be able to take them out once and for all.

From the logs of Gregor Dereling, dated Arodus 15th…

Above even the highest of expectations, this group of rag-tag soldiers – accompanied by a small girl – were not only able to track down the bandits, but also able to dispatch of their leader and return many stolen goods back to us. Their leader, though lacking tact, was very impactful in their return, presenting a spear full of heads from the bandits. A cart full of grains, dry goods, and raw materials was returned to us, and we will be returning to their encampment to retrieve the goods that they were not able to bring back with them.

a generous sum of coin has been collected from the treasuries and tradesmen in the town who benefited greatly from the return of their materials so that we may provide them with a fund for their generous and commendable actions.

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Assisting Afar
Session 31

From the diary of Skittels, dated Arodus 9…

Dear diary,

I am hoping that all of this work I put into this amazing masterpiece of mechanika will not be in vane, though I do not know why I thought that four ex-soldiers would be able to scrounge up enough coin to pay for this magnificent appendage. However I do believe that I offered them a fair deal.

Recently, I have not heard notice from Prush in Derefeld. This is an issue since he is in possession of blueprints of my current work, along with many other prototypes currently in pre-development. If these were to fall into the wrong hands, I fear what could be devel Luckily, there is no other person who is capable of producing mechanika on such a scale as myself in these parts. The only one I’ve heard of that may even be capable of reading such artistry goes by the name of Hammerfoot, though I have only heard of his work from the eastern shores and not actually been able to lay my eyes upon any results of his profession.

Let us hope that my friend’s expedition is a successful one and that they will return safely with good news at hand.

From the personal journal of Warren Padilla, dated Arodus 12…

It’s been almost a month, and not only is Matthis still blabbering about the military and council, but now Shai and her lackeys have skipped town. Apparently, she was not the one that I could entrust with such a time sensitive matter. And while I would love to walk out there right now and slit that little fat bastard’s throat, any aggression from the army would surely only provoke the masses. We are almost assuredly royally fucked at this point.

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Progression
Session 30

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 8th of Serenith…

With the recent issue concerning our farmlands to the north and the eminent food shortage that will come of it, the council feels that it will be most beneficial to the settlement if we local a new land source for planting. To that end, I have decided to dispatch a handful of groups to the surrounding areas in search of fertile grounds. These groups will be assessed later today and will be assigned their territory by the following.

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 14th of Serenith…

Reports have come in from 4 groups that had been dispatched, two with positive results for clear land and samples for fertility. However one group has not yet returned, though the council is inclined to move ahead with the formation of new farmlands based on the current samples; the missing group at this point is presumed dead.

In other events, we have had recent disturbances in the town square and around the barracks this day and the last. The man inciting such rabble appears to be a man by the name of Jon Matthis; a baker within the settlement. Thus far, his attempts to dissuade the people from their current philosophical alignment has had only minor effect, though he does seem to be picking up sway within Newhold.

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 18th of Serenith…

The report from the final group arrived late last night, though with an incomplete map and no samples to speak of. They did chart a few rivers and what appears to be a rather angry ferret though. I requested that Specialist Pillman reimburse them for their troubles, though only for any possible foodstuffs or necessities that may have been used during their little expedition.

From the personal journal of Warren Padilla, dated Sarenith 18…

I do believe that our former oracle might finally come to some use. I have requested that she eliminate this Matthis fellow to ensure that no more resentment and hostility is built up against the military and the council. I hope that my trust has been placed properly and that she can solve this problem before it escalates.

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Freedom of Movement
Session 29

From the official journal of Major Lieutenant Harrold Trumble, dated the 1st of Sarenith…

Following their return to Newhold, the former guard unit of Shai has been offered a demotion, though from what 1st Gen. Padilla has told me they instead offered their resignation from the military. At this moment, her former guards have been released from our custody while the location of Shai is unknown. However, seeing how at this point there was no laws broken or harm done to any soldiers or citizens, her whereabouts or well being are inconsequential to us from this moment on.

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 1st of Sarenith…

After a brief discussion with McKeon, Ro’Dash, Barros, and Arfen, it has been decided that they will be leaving the ranks of the military to pursue their own endeavors within the settlement.

From the personal journal of Warren Padilla, dated Sarenith 1…

I’ve talked with the former guards of the former Oracle and decided that it could be beneficial to us all if they worked in a more unofficial and as-needed capacity. Their services will be called on whenever I don’t feel the need to put my own men at risk. I’ve offered them a relatively low stipend for their troubles, a measly 5 silver each per job, which will be kept off the books in an official capacity and simply marked down as a market expenditure. I’m certainly interested to see where this collaboration goes and precisely how long they’ll survive without the roof of the military over their heads.

From the personal journal of Warren Padilla, dated Sarenith 3…

The 1st chance for our little merc group popped up, when I sent them to scope out some possible issues with orcs in the western farmlands. Quite late in the night, they returned with literally the heads of their enemies, though instead of orcs they turned out to be hobbs. They also returned with a prisoner who is now being kept underneath the barracks for further interrogation. Ro’Dash has shown a particular interest in speaking with this goblin, and while I’m inclined to let him I’m also weary that he’ll feel a need to help those which he shares blood with. I’ll most definitely have an extra eye kept on him while this creature is settled in our custody.

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Running Away
Session 28

From the official journal of Rear Captain Ambrose Bair, dated the 12th of Desnus…

An incident involving the Oracle occurred today at the northern gates around noon time, according to privates Huff and Bowers. Not wanting to risk the “wrath of the Oracle” – as stated in their notes – they instead risked letting her leave the boundaries of Newhold, though taking some security in the fact that two of her litter guards were accompanying her. However, private Huff was ordered by one of said guards to locate and inform any of the Principle guards that he could, thus returning with the majority of said soldiers. In his notes, Bowers states that, after well over an hour, the Oracle did eventually return with Principles McKeon, Ro’Dash, and Barros. No further incident followed this.

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 13th of Desnus…

I have been informed by Cpt Bair that the Oracle and his principle guardians made an unscheduled departure from our settlement this afternoon, despite my rejections of such a journey by officer McKeon just one day prior. I have a general concept of where they may have traveled, however at this moment in time I do not have the manpower nor the will to send soldiers to rescue them from their own stupidity locate and return the Oracle to Newhold. However, I have been informed by Mj Lt Trumble that there will be severe repercussions for their actions, and apparently Cpt Peter and Thornhill are to be at the ready for their return.

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Bringing in Wealth
Session 27

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla, dated the 19th of Gozran…

I have received notice that we are to be expecting a rather sizable upcoming delivery. Master General Sarras has informed me that three of my units will be traveling south to the meeting post – headed by the goblin chief – in order to rendezvous with a large shipment of gold and other valuables. I have chosen sergeants Loyalar, Vortigern, and Cerberus as the best candidates for this mission, whom Sarras has signed off on. They will be notified and briefed on this assignment tomorrow morning and will be departing early the morning after.

From the personal journal of Sergeant Lucan Vortigern, dated Desnus 10…

Our victory was one somewhat hollow and ruinous. While we did succeed in meeting up with the shipment, we encountered an ambush of orcs on our return trip through the valleys. We hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them in several weeks, so our scout’s assumptions was that they had fled the area finally. Apparently though, this bounty was too good of a target to pass up. We lost many men in the attack – nearly all of my unit was killed, most of the light infantry, and Sergeant Cerberus was nearly slain. A handful of our soldiers showed great resolve – namely soldiers Ro’Dash and Arfen (whom has made me personally proud of her actions). From reports I have read, soldiers Barros and McKeon were also instrumental in saving the life of their commander.

Because of the heavy loses of troops and the need for redeployment within the units, I have been given command over a new principal infantry group consisting of these standout soldiers, whom will in turn be given priority missions to guard the Oracle during any missions or diplomatic journeys which take her beyond the walls of Newhold.

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New Lands & New Ties
Session 26

From the official journal of Master General Sarras dated Kuthona 28

A group had arrived to our city claiming to be allies. They were detained, and officers were sent to each one in an attempt to see if their intentions were true. In questioning, it came out that one is actually part of them – Private McKeon – was part of the original scouting expedition out of Pramaya that Command General Moren had thought to have been unsuccessful, while another appears to be the son of Major Lieutenant Trumble. It also appears that The Oracle had not in fact been lost to the Dark Army and was actually travelling with this group. The rest of them are foreign to our lands – one calling herself Fall Two appears to have a clan whom reside in the desert, while a gentleman by the name of Barregen says that he is from an entirely different continent from our own. I have decided that they are indeed trustworthy and they have been released, with precautions – especially where the orc is involved – for their safety and ours.

Next page, dated Abadius 02

After discussions with my generals and the council, we have determined that we should follow through with our initial plan of resettlement in the north, seeing how information that we have gathered from Ro’Dash, McKeon, and Trumble leads us to believe that the lands are much safer than the south and possibly offer a new start for the people of Skalderna. There are several citizens who have volunteered to be included in the journey, which is good as we will need all of the craftsmen and manual labor that we can get. The 3rd Legion will also accompany the caravan and act as the beginning of the new northern military. The plan for departure is begin within days, with the departure date scheduled for the 3rd of Calistril.

From the official journal of First General Warren Padilla dated Gozran 2

There have been reports of sheep having gone missing in the fields to the north. However, nothing has thus far been investigated as some of the hunters assure me that it is likely wolves or the like migrating north with the warming weather. However, I have slightly increased guard watches just in case.

Next page dated Gozran 5

I have been informed by a few guards that two citizens have gone missing, one being a sheppard and another a barmaid working at the King’s Tavern. I have ordered Captains Peter and Bair to dispatch a group of infantry, with the assistance and guide of a couple of scouts, to investigate this situation and offer a solution.

Next page dated Gozran 7

We have had nearly two months without any sinister actions in our settlement, however it appears that has now come to an end. The group sent to investigate the disappearances has discovered that the two citizens had indeed been killed; their bodies being found in the woods to the north-west of the settlement a ways off. What is odd though is that the murderer does not appear to be from within our own walls; the offended is some type of strange human-like creature. The body of the beast is being kept under lock and key currently, with more study being needed to determine exactly what it is.

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The Comatose Mind Awakens

Rusk stood looking through black bars made of a smoke like substance. Splayed across what seemed to be empty air is an image showing a great battle raging on. A giant skeletal serpent suddenly roars into view, but from an odd angle. It takes Rusk a moment to realize that Marian has just been hoisted up into the air by the serpent’s tail. He feels a slight tingle on his right shoulder. He knows this feeling well, it means Marian is hurt. He pays it little heed, mainly just scratches at the spot while continuing to view the lopsided combat. His friends are not doing well. They don’t seem to be hurting this beast all that much, not even with all their new weapons. Suddenly Rusk screams in pain as he falls to the ground. Glancing to his right, he sees two things. The first is that his right arm is now gone. The second, even more confusing sight, is Marian laying on his left side facing the wall and not moving. Rusk rushes over to check on him but he is nonresponsive. After trying unsuccessfully to wake him, Rusk does the only thing he can do, he sits down and waits. A few hours go by, Rusk believes, or it could be a few days, time goes by oddly here, before Marian stirs. Rusk must have been dozing because he looked away for just a moment and when he looked back Marian was laying on his back, clutching the stump where his right arm once was, and staring up at the ceiling.

Rusk jumps up and takes a step forward “Marian?! You’re awake! What are you doing here? How are both of us on the same side of the bars? What happened to our arm?”

Marian barely moves is head and somberly glances at Rusk out of the corner of his eye. “Rusk, please go away and leave me be. Can’t you see I’m useless now? I failed to protect you, again, and in that failure made it so I could never protect you again.”

Rusk has seen his surlier half like this before and knows when to back off. “Fine I’ll go away. But first you have to answer one question. What happened to our arm?”

Marian practically screams back, “The damn snake ripped it off!! I know you were watching so don’t act dumb.”

Rusk responds quietly, “I actually couldn’t see that happen, so no, I didn’t know that. No reason to be rude…. Ok so the snake ripped off our arm. But how are we both on this side of the bars?”

Marian closes his eyes. “You said one question, now go away.”

It was now Rusk’s turn to yell. “What do you mean go away?! We’ve never been on the same side before, why don’t you care about this?”
Not even bothering to respond, Marian rolls away to face the wall, successfully ending the conversation.

Over the next few days, Marian continued to stare into the void that surrounded their little island of reality. Never talking, barely even moving. Rusk wasn’t exactly productive either though. If he wasn’t sitting, rubbing his shoulder, and watching Marian, he was walking intricate geometric shapes in the ground. Occasionally he would glance up towards where he could usually see the real world, but each time he had to lower his head and keep walking. All that was there now was darkness. Each time this happened he would glance over at Marian inert form. After what must have been the hundredth time, Rusk didn’t just glance over at Marian, he ran over and kicked him. It wasn’t a soft kick meant to wake someone up. It was a full strength kick straight at the middle of Marian’s back. The reaction was instant. Marian shot to his feet and spun to face the threat. His left hand came up to accept the handle of the red two-handed hammer that his right hand should have formed, but there was nothing to grab. His right arm was gone. There would be no hammer forming. Marian’s eyes flicked from Rusk’s face, down to Rusk’s severed right shoulder, and on to his own severed right shoulder. And then it looked like all the substance went out of him as he crumpled to the ground. Rusk was sick of waiting though. Instead of walking away again, he took a step forward and kicked Marian in the head. Picking himself up off the ground, Marian once again turned to face Rusk. This time his face was contorted in rage.

“What the hell do you want from me? Are you excited to take advantage of my disability and finally beat me in a fight?!” he screams at Rusk.

Rusk shifts to put his own severed stump towards Marian. “What advantage?” he all but spits at Marian. Still talking, he slowly advances towards Marian. “I see two options here. We both sit here and do nothing but stare off into whatever surrounds us. Or,” he glances down at the stump, “we learn to deal with this.”

Marian’s face loses its rage, and actually takes on an intrigued look. “And how do you propose we do that?”

A smile appears on Rusks face. He has already won this battle. The hard part is over, what follows is just icing on the cake. He brings his left arm up, scrunches his face as sweat starts beading on his forehead, and causes a blue sword to slowly form in his left hand. “By learning to use this. It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary. Now, your turn.”

It didn’t take Marian long to follow suit, except his was a slightly smaller version of his red hammer. Once he formed it, his confidence seemed to return as well. They spent hours sparring. At first they looked like toddlers just learning how to use their limbs. The loss of a limb effected their balance, causing them to over stretch and tumble to the ground on more than one occasion. In the theater of the mind, sleep is not needed, so short rests were all they needed. By each break, their skill had clearly advanced. They had found their new center, could form their mindblades as easily as before, and had learned that footwork was even more important now.

They were in the middle of one of their sparring sessions, when Rusk suddenly ducked and caught Marian off guard with a spinning low kick followed immediately by a backhanded slash aimed right at his ribs. Marian knew he couldn’t get his hammer around in time, nor move out of the way in time, but as he heard the familiar metallic sound, he had to smile. Where Rusk’s sword should have struck his unprotected side, it instead struck strong black chainmail. Rusk was undeterred and spun back the other way to strike at the other side, only to find more chainmail. Marian, overconfident with the return of his armor, stepped forward into a wicked overhand chopping maneuver. Rusk’s defense was reactionary. He didn’t grow armor. Instead, he just wasn’t there anymore. Quicker than Marian could see, Rusk was moving sideways around the hammer and coming up behind Marian. Marian used his momentum to spin around into another strike, but all he saw was a blue blur as Rusk kept moving, following Marian’s spin. After spinning for a few more seconds, Marian fell forward into a roll, coming up on a knee facing back the way Rusk was standing. They both wore smiles. They took a quick rest, and then resumed their training with renewed vigor.

This training went on for many days. Both Rusk and Marian had lost count of just how long they had been there together. Both had found a new respect for the other. When Marian’s hammer suddenly dropped from his lifeless fingers, Rusk’s first reaction was to take advantage of the lapse in concentration. His second reaction was to hold back thinking it might be a trick, but upon further inspection of Marian’s face, especially his eyes, Rusk paused and looked over his shoulder. His own mindblade slipped from his fingers to dissipate before it reached the ground. The tunnel and window had reappeared. The window was hazy, they could barely make out anything, but the tunnel was very clear. Rusk looked at Marian. Marian returned the stare, and then flicked his eyes to the tunnel.

His voice was gravelly as he spoke, “Get going Rusk. It’s your turn now. You don’t need me to hold your hand anymore. Go be what neither of us has been for a lot longer than the snake attack, one whole person. It’s been an honor.” Marian suited actions to words, and raised his left hand.

With a smile on his face, and a slight tear in his eye, Rusk grasped Marian’s forearm in a tight embrace. “The honor is mine. I’m sorry it took me so long to see that. I’ll see you soon.” Still with a smile on his face, Rusk turned and started jogging down the tunnel. Marian watched him go for a few moments, then turned and headed back towards the bars of black smoke. He walked through the cage door and slowly sat down to rest and watch the window. As he saw the image sharpen, Marian spoke quietly “Go be what you’ve always been in my eyes. Goodbye my son.” A smile slowly spread across Marian’s face as his body faded into black smoke and was swept away by an unseen wind.

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Guess Who's Back
Session 25

From the journal of Barregen Cromwell

So far, we’ve made it back into the stinking, dank, dark tunnels of the mountain that we did so much to get out of in the first place. I cannot believe that we’re back in here after all this time. It’s been four days since we came back in and so far it’s exactly the same: tunnel, tunnel, more tunnel. Statues and flowers, then rocks. At least this time there doesn’t seem to be any more ogres.

Next page of the journal

Orcs. Fucking stupid orcs. Looks like these things spread out a bit since we came through here last. We came up on them at the start of night during a thunderstorm, which helped cover our approach a bit. Shai doused their torches and kept them busy looking for light, while we snuck up with Rusk taking the lead (Not sure how I feel about seeing him again). Problem was when Falltu got tripped up on the rocks and alerted the guards to our location and the honed in on us quick enough.

Luckily, Ro’Dash managed to talk them down from killing us to just letting us not pass through their territory. Unfortunately, as we found out later when we made our way to the other side of the valley, that they had also expanded their territory. Saying “fuck it” we hopped over the wall and made our way into what looked like a mining field – at least, that’s what I got from the excavation equipment that we came across. The watchman that we ran into didn’t feel like talking to us though when he tricked Ro’Dash into thinking that he was just going to let us go through, and instead ran off to the village.

Harman managed to find us a little cliff to hide on while the search party came through, and when they were far enough out of site we made our way to the cliffs that we originally used to pass over the village.

Oh, by the way. That was fun! Since we all almost fell to our deaths because Rusk slipped and nearly pulled the rest of us down with him. The rain made it slow going, but eventually we crossed. I have a feeling that we’re still not going to rest well tonight.

Next page of the journal

Right now, we’re campaing outside of the temple on the other side of the mountains. At least, what used to be the temple. The entire thing has been burned down to the foundation and apparently a bunch of goblins have taken up refuge it in. This Rip Nugget that the rest of them had been talking about seems to have led a little revolt and started making a new “castle” here. Good for them. Tomorrow, we start the trip down the mountain path and back to level land.

Next page of the journal

Falltu just lost her shit. Looks like losing her people has finally taken its toll on her and she snapped. We found her by the river balling her eyes out and crawling on her stomach into the water. She finally snapped out of it and started babbling about her people screaming and blood…. Who the hell knows. At any rate, we’re apparently taking a short cut and heading straight across their land to some capital city. Langen I think they called it. We’ll see.

From the records of Commander Rafe, dated 2nd day of Abadius in the year 176:

Today, a group of people came to the walls of Langen Castle. They had fought their way through the Bone Fields and managed to even kill a couple of the necromancers from what my watchmen say. Upon examination, it appears that at least three of them are from this region: I have my doubts about the female as she sporadically spoke an unknown dialect, and one of the males – after examination of the gear that he possessed – seems to have some unfamiliar equipment. Another was a female gnome, while the last was an unknown race, though he did seem to at least comprehend our language. They have been restrained and moved to isolated chambers until we can interrogate them on an individual basis. Follow up report to come.

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Heading Home
Session 24

From the journal of Barregen Cromwell

Sleeping in a bag on a stone floor isn’t exactly what I’d call comfort, but at least it’s better than the ground or a boat. These haven’t been the best several days of my life, but then again… they haven’t been the worst, either. They’ve given us a place to sleep, food, and drinks. Oh hell have they given us drinks.

I’ll tell you what: I’ll never look at a toad the same way again, that’s for damned sure. And it was enough that Shai woke up curled up with a kobold in her bed. Their children will be disgusting.

I’ve been spending the last few days crafting a new firearm; a musket. And while I spent time in the forge working on my own gear, the rest of the weirdos had commissioned the kobolds to make them some new gear. Harman managed to get some new armor that his weak bones can actually handle. Marian got a set of vembraces that he asked “could protect from goblins” because he apparently hates them that much. This turned out to be an idea that the smiths were interested in though, so they went with it.

Falltu really made out in the deal though. They crafted her an entire set of new armor, complete with this demon dragon lizard head helmet thing. She’s pretty crazy looking in it, to be honest. But, her simple mind was pleased with the results.

After we got set up with new equipment – packs, rope, rations, kits – and we got another day of rest behind us, it was time for the rest of the group to head back home. Me? It’s just another place to make some money.

In the meantime, we’re sitting about 100 paces away from the giant rotting corpse of a pincushion. Some place I figured that we’d…. I’d never thought that I’d return. But, I never try to say never.

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