IC Thread 1: Ch. 1, Stolen Land

Aleksandra Valyreth, Dilletante Swordswoman

Staggering a little from the clumsy way she recovered from her roll, Sandra checks herself on diving right into the trap door after the spider. Woah, little too hot-blooded there, Sandra, hold back! Glancing over at Raun swapping out for his spear, Sandra bounds over to mirror his position on the other side of the trap door, and holds her sword at the ready, just waiting for her moment.


Tallamor's magical grease coats the area around the spider's nest. The creature slips a few times on the slickness, but its multiple legs help keep it grasping the lip of the hole that constitutes its nest.
As Sandra bounds off to the opposite side of the nest, Raun shouts out, "Sandra, wait!"
But just as the words leave his mouth, the spider bursts forth from its nest, on the side opposite where most of the grease is. Unimpeded, the monster scuttles up to Sandra and bites her in the leg, before moving away from her with surprising agility. It avoids the nest this time, apparently disturbed by Tallamor's spell. Sandra's wound is shallow, but it burns with venom, and she can feel the poison sapping her strength.
Sergei has been waiting patiently to line up a clear shot; the spider was out of its nest, and away from any of his companions: perfect. He looses, and the arrow sinks deep into the spider's carapace. It flinches, one of its legs spasming out of control.
Raun moves up, slow in his heavy brigandine, but thanks to the reach of his spear, is able to attack. He stabs the monstrous spider in the joint between abdomen and head; a few final flails of its legs, and the spider lies dying, twitching involuntarily.

Raun finishes the creature off with a final lance to the brain. Catching her breath, Sandra fights off the lingering effects of the poison, little worse for the wear.
"Well fought," says Raun, "But you've got to be more careful, Sandra. If you would have stayed near me, I could have stabbed the monster before it reached us, potentially killing it before it could deliver another bite. No matter, though. The day is ours."

Sergei lights a torch and peers into the spider's nest; it's a web-lined shaft about 25 feet deep. The webbing, while sticky, allows the ranger to easily climb down and inspect the bottom of the nest for any wayward treasure. He finds the web-wrapped body of a dead bandit, and gives the corpse a thorough search. The bandit was carrying a short sword, a pouch with a handful of gold, and another of the silver stag amulets. He also finds lodged in his boot a rolled up parchment.

Climbing back out of the nest, Sergei shows the party the recovered items. The parchment is blank, save for a crude sketch of what appears to be a tree on a hill, with a red 'X' underneath it near the roots. The tree resembles a claw reaching for the sky. You don't know what to make of it, other than guessing that it might be a simple treasure map of some kind.

Aleksandra Valyreth, Dilletante Swordswoman

Sandra's cry of pain as the spider's fangs tear into her flesh is a high, piercing thing, but she recovers gamely enough, at least until the spider is dead. She washes out the wound as best she can, and lets the others deal with digging things out of the spider's nest, while she goes over and attempts to mount her horse as best she can, limping oddly.

Chuckling weakly, she says, "That'll learn me to just leap in, I guess. That map is kinda neat, I wouldn't mind heading out to look for hidden treasure... but I could do for a good night's sleep in a real bed, and some of Svetlana's venison stew."

"A successful foray, but the spider's venom worries me," says Sergei. "We are so near Oleg's it would be foolish not to return until you regain your strength, Sandra. I am for returning as well."

OOC: ...and I'll also replenish 1 used torch back at base camp in addition to the arrow.

The spider slain and victory secured, the party makes camp for the night, preparing to return to Oleg's on the morrow.

The night is brutal. A wave of humid air heralds a terrific thunderstorm in the middle of the night, the winds and rain nearly collapsing the tent and sending the horses into a panic. When the sun finally rises, none of you have gotten a wink of sleep or rest, you're soaked to the bone, and at the end of your frayed nerves.

You make your slow plod back to Oleg's through fields of churned mud. Finally, just before supper, you return to the trading post. Oleg, Svetlana, and the various other colorful characters you've met so far are happy to see you're safe and well, and you all make the most of a hot meal and the promise of a dry bed in the evening.

A newcomer has arrived at the trading post: a half-orc man accompanied by an apparently tame black bear. Quiet and somewhat reserved, Oleg nonetheless mentions that the stranger was asking about you and the nature of the Swordlord's charter, especially concerning the topic of bandits. No doubt he'll wish to speak with you concerning your successful ambush of the bandits a little over two weeks ago, and the mysterious silver stag amulets.

Sergei is leery of the big half-orc at first. Orcs are a dangerous lot, and the tales he's heard of half-breeds are not pleasant. Still, Oleg and Svetlana have allowed him and his bear (a bear!) into the post, so they must feel that he is no danger to anyone. Certainly Garess and his men would see him off quickly.

Sergei orders a pint of ale and walks over to the table where the newcomer sits. "Greetings," said Sergei, "I understand you have questions about my companions and I. My name is Sergei Ivanov, and together with my friends we are the law of the Greenbelt." He stressed the last point to see the big man's reaction. The Stag Lord's bandits could have spies, and must certainly count half orcs among their number.

Tallamor approaches the newcomer with apprehension. He smooths back his hair (it's getting far too long!) with one hand and places his meal on the table with the other. He looks the half-breed up and down, disconcerted by his size. The man is far too large, and, had he the slightest inclination, could likely rip the elven wizard limb from limb. Sergei's exchange, however, gives him confidence that, should the half-orc attack, he will likely go for the ranger first. He takes his seat, saying nothing but waiting and observing with the practiced patience of a politician.

The burly newcomer reminds you of something. Something large and pointy standing on the wrong end... Like an upturned stable.
It's as if the sculptor of his body had been hung-over and tried to prove to his friends how well he knew the proportions of a well-muscled man. He didn't. It was a good try, they agreed in the end, but a touch too big in the chest region, just a couple of hand widths, you know, and very blocky. Bad stone, they said.

Well, what is, is. His face, at least, is not unpleasant to look upon: a square jaw and a brow from his human parent make up for some of the blockiness in other compartments. Thankfully, a nose not a snout graces his face, as well as a mouth of average proportions with tiny fangs just barely visible. You're sure there's someone who'd find him attractive.
Probably in a swamp somewhere.

As the wagon rolled in and the trading post bustled, a pleasant expression made its way to Kadebor's face. Apparently he enjoys the steady hum of a bee nest that's been given a little shake. No doubt the bear at his side would heartily agree. His eyes follow the adventurers across the room, sizing them up. Wiry, and soaked to the bone. Three men. One bitch. No smell of fear, nor of defeat. Enough, let the spirits speak.

The half-orc removes a leather pouch from his belt and pours out a bunch of small bones with one swift movement. The fluidity of this act contrasts with his otherwise blocky movements. He must have done it hundreds if not thousands of times. He reads the omens as the bones clatter to a stop on the pine table. A large obstacle to overcome, success uncertain. Hearts both kind and greedy. Peace will come, but when? The spirits have spoken. He scoops the bones up and bags them just as some of the adventurers make their way to his table. Sasha at his left growls, but Kadebor quiets him with a soft-spoken word in a tongue foreign.

The only law Kadebor had ever known was that the strong take what the weak can not hold on to. Humans had other rules they called the law, he knew, that consisted of the crime and the appropriate punishment, but they did not always apply, for sometimes the criminal did not get punished, or maybe he was never found, or maybe someone had hit the criminal on the head till he was dead and it was the wrong punishment. Such thoughts cross Kadebor's mind when the serious man spoke.

Kadebor grunts to clear his voice and starts speaking in an uneven rumbling voice, which is littered with pauses.
"Your pack is small, yet you claim a large hunting ground. My pack is even smaller and I claim no hunting grounds. Thus we are not in conflict. Unless you want to take our skins. Then blood will decide." Kadebor waits for the challenge.

None offered, he continues: "There are other men, who would kill and hunt for fun, and who respect no boundaries. They too claim your hunting ground. I saw them and know them to be rabid. I must go and unlight their fire, but their voices rise in howls so loud that their numbers must be many. Yet, a smaller pack may still shatter the large pack by ripping out its heart. Such is the law of nature I have seen with my own eyes. I would invoke that law, but first I must see and know the heart." As he spoke on, the half-orc's features distorted into a truly terrifying visage and his voice grew heavy with passion.

Meanwhile, the black bear's head had found its way to the elf's lap, sniffing out something in his pocket. Noticing it, Kadebor manages to master his anger and let it go. A smile appears as he says: "Forgive Sasha, he is very curious about new smells. All is new to me here, except that which I already know, which is little." He seems thoughtful for a moment and then rumbles on: "Now I remember that I have not given you my name. It is Kadebor. Mr. Ivanov and you, whose name is not yet known, are welcome at my table. Others of your pack may come too."

He gives time for the others to gather to his table and when no-one else seems to be coming, he asks: "Tell me, do you know their heart? I must know, so that I could rip it out as sure as his pack ripped out the heart of Three Pines village." A slight pause to think. "Tell me also where I can find the heart. That too, I must know."

Aleksandra Valyreth, Dilletante Swordswoman

Sandra, weary from the poison though she is, can't help but look on this particular sight with a curious blend of emotions, a mix of trepidation, amusement, and a healthy dose of respect. Joining her comrades-at-arms in speaking with the impressive half-orc, she has to take a few moments to decipher what, exactly, the hell he's talking about.

After a few moments of silence, with more than a few curious looks at the bear, she says, "So... if I've got this straight... you're looking for help in rooting out the bandits that plague this area, right? It sounds like our interests align, at least so far as we know. We want them gone too." After a moment, she offers her hand out to the big man, adding somewhat ambiguously, "My name is Aleksandra Valyreth, but anybody who fights with me gets to call me Sandra."

Sergei sat patiently and listened to the stranger speak in his odd way. He's lived in the wilds a long time, that much is certain, he thought. He stared intently at the man, never turning away, watching for signs of deception. When he saw none, Sergei visibly relaxed.

When Kadebor finished speaking, Sergei replied, "My apologies, Kadebor, but it is dangerous to trust without consideration first. You are an imposing figure, but anyone that can befriend and speak with a bear must hold the respect of Erastil. Oh, and you may simply call me Sergei.

"I know not of this Three Pines Village, but I know of the type of men who would cause such suffering. I, too, was wronged by marauders, and I intend to make them pay a high price for their wickedness."

Sergei's weakness was his intense hatred of the evil ways of men, and sometimes it skewed his viewpoint. He knew this well, and yet in this man-beast he felt a kindred spirit in his desire for revenge. Will the others accept this Kadebor though? We know little of him, but I see he is a creature of the wild, a master of animals, and craves to right the wrongs of the wicked. He would be an asset in our mission.

He continued on. "We are here to explore these Stolen Lands, claim them for Brevoy, and bring justice to its inhabitants. Specifically, we seek a villain known as the Stag Lord, a bandit leader of renown in the Greenbelt. Have you heard of him?"

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