Heirs to the Silver General

The Information is Appreciated
(From the session of April 1st)

To Ragnar Olsson – Chief Officer of the Cheese Makers Guild of Ylir

Dearest Ragnar,

Thank you for your letter, and especially the information regarding Marcel’s father and his business holdings in Karmus. It is good to know that Marcel’s boasts regarding his father’s enterprise are not exaggerated. I must admit, it’s appealing to think of allying myself with someone whose father has a controlling interest in the dairy industry of Karmus, and yet, to accept his offer would be deceitful, for my life is dedicated to the Great Gouda, and I have no interest in producing an heir. I would marry if such ties in and of themselves would be beneficial to our household, but not to produce a child. And yet, I cannot lie that I have found his interest in the Most Pungent One very endearing. If ever I needed some good advice, the time is now. Ah well, for now I shall set the problem aside, for there are more pressing matters at hand.

My siblings and I have been keeping very busy, running about here and there, doing jobs and bringing honor to the name of Silverhawk. We have made much progress on rebuilding our keep and getting a real start on renewing our lands. All the while we’ve been adding to the gold we will need to keep our house in good order. We recently dispatched a band of orcs in a nearby keep. It was a most unusual experience. My sister Tia’s dead lover came to our assistance, casting an unnatural silence over us all to aid our passage, though it did not help cover the squeak of rusty door hinges which gave us away. The first group of orcs were alerted to our presence, but we managed to defeat them, thanks mostly to the prowess of Natsuko’s armor and Tia’s magic. We almost stumbled into another group of orcs in the courtyard, but managed to sneak back into the keep and bar the door. We fought once more, a pale orc who we presumed to be the leader, and two others. It was a tough battle, and my healing knowledge was put through its paces. In the end, Tia killed the leader and we prevailed. Sadly orcs never seem to possess much worth collecting after a battle, but we added a jagged longsword, six javelins, and a pouch with a hundred gold pieces to our belongings. After we threw the leader’s head on a javelin into the courtyard, the rest of the orc’s broke and ran. I don’t know if I will ever get used to the unsavouriness of battle, but sometimes such acts are necessary. Besides, Lord Botan paid us four hundred gold pieces for the job of clearing that keep, and I know our household will put it to good use.

We returned to our own keep to the unfortunate news of the passing of the queen. We had been planning on visiting her after we finished with the orcs, but alas we were too late. The title of queen has passed to her daughter, and we are planning to visit her strait away to pledge our allegiance and hopefully gain her favor. Though we have seen prosperous times as of late, I know our position is a precarious one and we can use all of the advantages we can get.

I will write to you again as soon as I am able, for now we ride to visit the new queen. Thank you as always for your wise words and friendship Ragnar, you are a stable figure in this ever shifting world.

Yours,

Marit Sommerfeldt of the House of the Silverhawk.

-

Great Gouda who art in heaven,
Cultured be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy curd be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily cheese.
And forgive us our unsavoryness,
As we forgive those who are unsavoury toward us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from unripeness.
For thine is the grated,
The pungent, and the holey,
For ever and ever.
Ferment.

-

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Lord Ivan's Catacombs
January 22, 2016

Katsuo is bored. So am I.

Days spent skulking around Badderan searching for who (or what) is making off with the weapons makers is not what either of us signed up for. We want to fight. We need to fight. As we approach Lord Ivan’s keepl for what we hope will be the last time, we can hardly wait.

We arrive as evening approaches, darkness being an excellent time to fight darkness, but Lord Ivan is not at home. His Master of House shows us to a sitting room and offers us refreshments. Tia and Aino plead their need to use the facilities with the plan of sneaking away from their escort. They tell us that they will search the keep for Lord Ivan, but we all know they’re just as likely to ‘explore’ a spare bedroom for half an hour or so. While they search, we wait, still accompanied by at least one servant at all times. Marit is still at the inn, pleading exhaustion at the lateness of the hour, so we indulge in the cheese with no guilt nor recrimination.

Aino and Tia return, having apparently actually searched the keep, and tell us that each hallway (including the one to the basement and the one that presumably leads to the Lord’s chambers) is manned by at least two guards and that there could be up to 100 guards massed in the courtyard. Though this likely has as much to do with the recent ‘beastmen’ attack as our suspicions regarding Lord Ivan, it thrills Katsuo and I. Finally, we can get to business!

Lord Ivan returns and we are invited into the sitting room of his chambers on the third floor. Slowly, we confront him with what we have learned, the dark shadows, how Lady Anna’s people have been taken too, the talisman we found in the shadowy figure that we dispatched… The more we talk, the more nervous the Lord looks, until Sterling’s final admonition hits and the Lord rises to his feet. He explains how he had hoped that our accusations would turn towards Lady Anna, how he had wanted to place suspicion on her. He fears the beastmen and thinks that we should all give in and accept our fate (he clearly hasn’t met a Silverhawk before). He carries himself differently and his eyes blaze. The door to the room locks with a click as he motions in a complicated and strange way and then there are four shadowy figures standing between us and him. Excellent.

The start of the battle happens almost too quickly to note. Lord Ivan fills the room with a fire that engulfs Aino and Sterling and poor Aino is hit by two of the shadow figures. Tia responds and the Lord disappears. Katsuo and I charge forward, swinging at the shadows, damaging one, as does Piotyr. Sterling sends an arrow into the fray. Then Tia’s lighting flares and takes out the rest of the figures.

Katsuo and I hide our disappointment as my siblings search the chambers. Lord Ivan has many books on morbid topics and there is silver scorched into the hardwood, but nothing of note. Aino picks the lock to his bedroom, but it very obviously hasn’t been slept in recently. She cannot pick the lock to the chamber door, but Sterling is successful after Piotyr’s attempt to break down the door only dislocates his shoulder.

We are met by the house guard, including the Master of House. When confronted by the evidence, the Master of House admits that Lord Ivan hasn’t been the same since he received a staff from a relative. He eventually agrees to let us into Lord Ivan’s basement bedroom.

The basement is ill-maintained and we find a tightly-locked door. Sterling attempts to pick it but triggers a trap dart that poisons him. He shakes it off and we continue. The corridor beyond the door is dusty and dark and with Piotyr checking for traps as we go, nobody else is injured. We proceed down the corridor into a small chamber. Our elven friends cannot see any heat but we hear the sound of moaning.

Upon lighting a torch, we see rows of decaying flesh that look suspiciously like the men we were paid to rescue advancing towards us. We recognize them as mooks, easy to kill on their own, but tricky in large groups.

Katsuo and I charge forward, killing one almost immediately. My siblings join us and, one or two at a time, we clear the mob. The mooks provide little in the way of sport, but it is enough to pacify Katsuo and we swing and slash with enthusiasm. When the mob is reduced by a little over half, though, the decimated flesh moulds together into a seething mass of limbs and heads. I pause, shocked and somewhat confused by the suddenness of the change but Katuso urges me forward.

It sees us and we smile. Pyotir quickly finds that the mass can do a lot more damage than the mooks could on their own but we charge bravely forward. Katsuo’s first attack is a miss, but my siblings, no doubt encouraged by our bravery, join the fray. As the battle rages, Katsuo and I are hit, but we draw our strength and continue the attack. Finally, with a mighty swipe of Katuso, the mass splits into a myriad of small pieces of flesh that rain down upon us.

The room cleared, we can see rows of crypts where the dead must have laid. We proceed down the corridor to another chamber with an altar in the centre, but that’s all that we can see because Lord Ivan is standing behind the altar, protected by four more shadowy figures. His eyes glow with a black light and he raises his staff, a twist of dark metal. We have come far enough, he says. Now, we must die.

Undeterred, Katsuo and I charge forward, attacking the shadowy figures that bar the path to our true target. They are larger than any we have encountered before and the Lord is still in control, directing the figures as his staff spews fire. Many of my siblings are injured but they concentrate their attacks on the Lord while Katsuo and Pyotir and I engage the wraiths, who are surprisingly tough. Lord Ivan is defeated by my siblings with their arrows and spells but his staff has a mind of its own and continues its attacks, eventually knocking Pyotir unconscious. Eventually, a barrage of spells weakens it and Sterling’s arrow destroys it. Once the staff melts into the floor, the wraiths disappear, to Katsuo’s chagrin.

The battle over, we summon the guards and the Master of House and quickly provide evidence of Lord Ivan’s ill doing. After some discussion, both Lord Ivan’s Master of House and Lady Anna honour their payment to House Silverhawk. Moreover, the king of Thermos sends us 1000 gold as a gift, his personal thanks, and an invitation to visit him at our leisure. Our reputation in Thermos is maintained and all in Baderan fear the name Silverhawk.

The job completed, my siblings and I turn our heads back to Resolute Manor. The gold that we earned today will do wonders for repairing and restoring our keep but, while Katsuo and I could both use a short rest, our souls still sing for adventure. Hopefully one will find us soon.

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No reply dear friend?
(From the session of January 8th)

To Ragnar Olsson – Chief Officer of the Cheese Makers Guild of Ylir

Dearest Ragnar,

When last I checked with Nazariy at our keep, there had been no reply from you. I hope this letter will find you well and that there will be a reply upon my return from our latest mission. In truth, there has not been much time to craft these letters between ministering to the poor and downtrodden of the lands, and uncovering dark plots, but it is worthwhile to communicate with one of my oldest friends. The practice grounds me and anchors me to a less chaotic world.

We have been called to Badderin by Lord Ivan to discover the plot behind missing workers in this region. We have done much talking and sneaking around, trying to learn all we can. I am pleased that my siblings aim to do all they can without first resorting to violence. However, I fear that it will yet come to that, for talking has gotten as all but nowhere, save to discover that we are mixed in some dark business.

I do not want to expose his part in our mission, lest he come to harm, but I trust that you will keep my tales secret. Our contact Nikolai, who works at the forge under Lord Ivan’s holdings, agreed to help us stage a ruse to flush out the attacker. Or kidnapper. Or murderer. Whatever or whomever is behind these disappearances. I was worried we would have to bribe him with half the gold we’ve been promised for this job, but we were able to appeal to his moral sensibilities. We offered gold as payment, but the amount was left unspecified.

We attempted to get hired on as guards in Lord Ivan’s house, so as to have an excuse to help escort workers between the forge and their lodgings. We figured we could cause a distraction and get Nikolai away from the group. Once on his own, he would much more likely be attacked or taken. Piotyr did his best to impress our skills upon the guards, flexing his substantial muscles to show what good hired arms we’d make, but puzzlingly they seemed not to consider this sufficient qualification. Natsuko explained our desire to be hired on, and we were directed to talk to the Master of Arms. It appeared our plan was falling into place, but we recognized the guards at Lord Ivan’s house, and if we recognized them, they would surely recognize us, and so the idea was abandoned. Thankfully we had a back up plan. It is times like this that I long for the straightforward simple days of cheese making, where not too much could go amiss.

Thankfully my sister Aino continues to impress me with her skills and craftiness. She fashioned a smoke bomb and orcish arrows for us to carry out a distraction. Perhaps if we could make people think that beast men were attacking, we could cause a panic, and then we could spirit Nikolai away amidst the chaos. While Natsuko and Aino laid in wait, Piotyr and I attempted to hide in an alleyway. Perhaps it was the sub par food we ate at the overpriced inn we’ve been staying at (we’ve been charged 12 gold just in the past couple of days!), a bad case of indigestion, but we seemed not at our most stealthy best. Still, we were able to carry out our plans unnoticed. Unnoticed until the critical moment.

First I blew my orc horn. I am glad I thought to take it with me so very long ago. It has come in handy. The guards escorting the forge workers stopped. But it was not enough to cause them to investigate. We set off the smoke bomb. The guards pulled their swords. Still no investigation. Piotyr let loose one of the orcish arrows. I fear he either needs a few more practice sessions with the crossbow, or else perhaps it was some acid reflux throwing off his aim, for the arrow sunk firmly into the breastplate of one of the guards. Thankfully the plate was thick and the guard unharmed. We must not kill unnecessarily. Still this seemed not enough to cause the guards to leave their charges and investigate. I decided to do the only thing I could think of and ran screaming toward the group, flailing my arms and yelling about the nonexistent beast attack, urging everyone to run for their lives. Finally, success. In the ensuing panic, one of the guards accidentally attacked me, but I was unscathed. Nikolai got away, and we regrouped a couple of alleys over.

Unfortunately at this point, militia were teeming in the streets, and who can blame them! They thought they were under attack by foul beast men. While I do not enjoy striking fear under the guise of those loathsome beings, it was a most effective ruse. When the panic subsided a couple of hours later, much closer to dawn, we enacted our true plan. Nikolai set off for home, with the rest of us following just out of sight. It suddenly became very cold for such a mild spring morning, and then a shadowy figure appeared and attacked Nikolai!

Though the creature seemed insubstantial, it seemed vulnerable to physical attacks. It gave us quite the fight, but my siblings and I managed to kill the creature. With Aino landing the final blow, the creature dissolved, and a talisman fell to the ground. I can tell that it has been surrounded by dark magic, as traces still cling to it, though it appears safe to handle. It is obviously the anchor for some sort of summoning spell, and since we’ve heard rumour of a shadowy figure seen in Lord Ivan’s home, we are beginning to suspect his involvement, though it does not make sense sine he hired us to find the perpetrator of these dark deeds.

We escorted Nikolai to his lodgings, and rested for a while at the inn. We have done our best to investigate Lord Ivan and this talisman, but have very little information to show for it. We tried to talk to Lord Ivan’s master of house, but he was most unhelpful. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear he was trying to keep us away. He certainly wouldn’t help us find cheaper lodgings. I fear we’ll have to spend all of what we may earn for this job at that overpriced place. No matter. We do the Great Gouda’s work by driving out darkness in this world.

The Lady Anna, who has also offered monetary compensation for uncovering this plot, was able to provide us with her uncle’s notes regarding Lord Ivan. Apparently the man didn’t have an especially high opinion of his lordship, something to do with his fatalistic moods regarding the war. The notes also indicated a fascination with ancient artifacts, but this is all we were able to discover. I fear we will have no choice but to confront Lord Ivan. If he is not responsible for the dark creature’s summoning, hopefully he will not turn to us with wrath.

I should send this letter as quickly as possible, for who knows what the morrow will bring. I have no doubt there will be battle, and in that at least I can be useful, for my siblings do not seem eager for me to put my ministerial skills into practice. I forgive their ignorance of the Great Gouda’s ways, and turn my attention to what is ahead. I do not fear death, for I have His protection, and the swift and sure swords of my siblings at my side. I will write again once we are safely home and this matter has been put to rest. Perhaps with part of the gold we may earn, I can convince my siblings to add our own dairy operations to the keep, though its restoration is obviously our top priority. I would be most grateful for your advice and guidance in that endeavour.

Yours,
Marit Sommerfeldt of the House of the Silverhawk.

-

Great Gouda who art in heaven,
Cultured be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy curd be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily cheese.
And forgive us our unsavoryness,
As we forgive those who are unsavoury toward us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from unripeness.
For thine is the grated,
The pungent, and the holey,
For ever and ever.
Ferment.

-

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Personal Entry

A private entry today, as I could use a break from my epic. Besides, it has been quiet since we returned to the Manor.

I expect there will be some excitement down the road. When we returned to the keep with Golshan, Nazarin was waiting for us. He had to shade his eyes against the sun, but his eyes narrowed when they fell on Golshan.

The two obviously new each other. A rather wicked smile, masquerading as sweet, wreathed Golshan’s face. Nazarin shook his head. “Should’ve burned that letter.”
With a laugh, Golshan called him a sweet old man, asking how he had been. He muttered something about how she ruins things. I thought immediately of Sterling’s memories of Golshan and mother sharing a tent, and couldn’t help but wonder if that had “ruined” something Nazarin had, or hoped to have had, with mother…

The clang of hammers and rasp of saws brought us back to the topic at hand. The carpenters were hard at work, and we had received two letters in our absence- one lucrative, and the other urgent. Nazarin also raised one eyebrow as he brought up sightings of goblins in the village.

We were quick to respond. Too quick, of course, and fooled no one. Piotyr tried to defer blame, while I said we had resettled them as long as they repair and maintain the village (Golshan laughing at me)… and Sterling stated they were our early warning system. Nazarin just shook his head, and handed us our letters.

One was a plea from a village, where a beast of some sort had destroyed most of their fields. It was from Karniss, and obviously drafted by the peasants. The second was from Lady Alexandra in Therma. Tradespeople important to the war were going missing- armourers, fletchers, and blacksmiths. She offered us 500 gold pieces to solve the problem, and another 500 to find the lost workers.

After some discussion, we decided to stop by the village on our way to Therma, and we would leave the next day. At that point Golshan intruded, saying that would leave tonight only to do her interviews. My siblings and I glanced at each other. I suspect only Tia and I were familiar with the workings of the Game of Beds.

Golshan holed up in one of the few rooms with standing walls and a stable roof. She was in and out a few times, returning the last time with a steaming kettle.

I climbed up into the rafters and settled next to a sizeable gap in the plaster. I couldn’t see much, but I could hear her humming clearly, so I made laid back along the beam and waited.

I must have dozed a bit, because I woke as a shower of dust fell on my face, dislodged by the door closing below. I covered my nose and held my breath to avert a sneeze.

Marrit’s voice floated back up to me. The questions Golshan asked were broad, but directed. I slipped down from my perch when my own turn came, and quietly climbed back up while Golshan waited for Piotyr to end his conversation with Nazarin about the catacombs and join her for tea.

Most of what my sibling’s said didn’t surprise me. Amuse me, at times, yes. But not surprising. Marrit, though she tries to be humble as becomes a servant of the cheese, still wished to be remembered for improving the lives of the common citizen. She did not seek marriage, but she also did not object.

Piotyr, as the head of our noble House, would marry for the family’s greater good and to carry on our line. He hoped for a strong woman, decisive, with a good reputation and connections… and child-bearing hips.

Natsuko’s answers did surprise me a little, mostly because of how similar they were to my own. She is quiet, even somewhat reclusive, spending much of her time talking to her sword. (My siblings seem to have their share of odd behaviours.) There were many differences, of course; she isn’t as… ‘free-spirited’ as I was. But she does not wish to now, valuing her independence as much as I value my own. If she were to marry, she would prefer an independent man who would join us or remain at the Manor. Her preferences in a mate differed markedly from my own, as she wanted someone with whom she was personally compatible. A person who was funny, steady, and competent. It’s odd, actually, that my siblings were so concerned about how their match might suit them, personally. Their concept of marriage, its purpose, and its value differs so much from my own.

Sterling has a bit of a checkered past… the implication being that he seduced women and visited brothels only as part of his ‘missions’. I wonder if he hasn’t had a personal relationship at some time in the past. As heir, he understood his duty; he would marry to help the family. His commitment to the family was expected, but I wasn’t aware of how strongly protective he was, and his willing to do anything, give up anything, to protect us.

As Tia entered the room, I found myself leaning hopefully towards the gap in the plaster. What would she say? How closely did her desires and plans match my own?
I was disappointed when all I heard was continuous flatulence. I sat back, annoyed. Obviously there was some magic involved here. Golshan must suspect someone was eavesdropping. I waited for a few minutes to see if the covering noises would stop, without luck. With a sigh, I swung down, and went in search of some of my siblings.

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From the pages of Piotyr's diary

Our last excursion has left me feeling a little uneasy. It will help to write this nonsense out.

Golshan wanted our help in stealing back a magical banner or something from Firuz. Apparently something had gone wrong in her attempts to marry off his “special” son so she ended up jobless and down one magical item. Stealing from him wasn’t a hard decision, I’m not particularly fond of Firuz. As long as we give at least some of the loot to the poor, I’m okay with it. Maybe I can get Marit to donate some cheese to an orphanage.

We headed out at night and Golshan led us through streets and dark alleys to what looked like a bricked up passage. It was decided that Natsuko and I would be the ones to knock it down. We both swung at the same time – she broke through the wall, while my swing barely cracked a brick! I tried to play it off as a practice swing but I don’t think anybody bought it. I should really practice with a war hammer or something. I dashed through the opening first, rather brazenly, in hopes that I could leave my shame behind. It didn’t do much good, the passage was pitch black so I had to come back out and let the elves lead. Possibly the least graceful thing I’ve done since I tried to negotiate with that kobold.

During the tedious and boring trip through the dark passage, Natsuko started teasing Aino and Tia about their friendship yet again. I get the distinct feeling that I’m missing some in-joke or something but I don’t want to play the fool and ask. Besides, it’s nice that they’ve become so close. When they get married off to nice, respectable noblemen and have families of their own they will be grateful for such a friendship.

We wound our way through that dark passage until we emerged into what looked like a dungeon. Golshan pointed us in the right direction and off we went, down the torch lit tunnels.

We came upon a prisoner chained to the wall and, despite my protestations, Aino gave the prisoner one of her sleeping potions. Soon after the prisoner had drunk the potion, they started to convulse and froth at the mouth and I think death followed after that. Gods bless that girl for trying to help but if anyone ever tries to drink one of Aino’s potions I will slap it out of their hand.

We continued on and, despite having to dodge a guard and disarm some traps, most of the path to our goal was uneventful. That is, until we came to the final chamber – there was a massive beast protecting our quarry. We started as we usually do with the swinging of swords and slinging of spells. 7 on 1, what could go wrong?

After I got in a failed swing or two and the others did their best, I was able to work my way around to the beasts blind side. I brought my blade down hard into the ugly thing and felt that satisfying sensation of blade cracking bone. I may have admired my swing a little too much, though. The beast turned its attention to me and I was in a terrible position after such an attack. With surprising speed it closed its jaws around my right thigh and for the second time that fight I felt bone crack. The beast flicked its jaws and threw me aside like a dog would a discarded toy.

My memory starts to get patchy at this point. I know there was a lot of blood and I remember someone screaming. The pain was horrible and I think I blacked out from it. Or perhaps it was the blood loss? Regardless, before losing consciousness I thought about the curse that father put on me. I thought about dying and rising again in undeath or passing to the afterlife and the loving arms of my god. Whatever happened, I was prepared for it.

But it was so uneventful. There was no bright light or heavenly choir. There were no necromantic horrors. Even though I was unconscious, it somehow feels as if it was a lonely experience. Where can I find the divine, if not at the borders of death?

I woke up shortly after the battle had finished with some healing from Marit. The beast had been felled, apparently by Natsuko and Sterling. What a wonderful sight to wake to, my siblings victorious and already sizing up the bounty. Perhaps I should spend less time ruminating on death and more time with my siblings. As long as they don’t make me drink any homemade potions.

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The Tale of the Silverhawk
Chapter 5: The Great Goblin Caper, Part II
(continued from my last entry, wherein we took the task of clearing away goblins and rescuing the Enslaved for coin)

I led the throng of malnourished serfs away from their besmirched town, and showed them the path to safety. Having fulfilled my duty to the downtrodden, I then left the villagers in safety and flew on the wings of song to rejoin my battling brethren. Meeting with them, we circled northward, around the village, where we spied a group of goblins returning with their enslaved villagers. The Enslaved were near broken from unyielding captivity and long labours, their backs bent under the burden of unripened crops.

Sterling the Strong rose rapidly to the challenge, casting aside his weapons so as to appear alone and vulnerable as he threw rocks and yelled at our enemies. Three goblins ventured forward while the rest beat hastily towards the village with their questionable bounty. Many of my siblings sallied forth to catch the retreating scourge; meanwhile Piotyr the Pious and I remained hidden to provide our brother aid in his confrontation. Our glorious trio attacked as one, Sterling the Strong falling back to retrieve his weapons. I sang the Song of Heroes as we were attacked in turn, and while Piotyr the Pious was injured, his valour rose superior. He smote one, killing it, even as Sterling the Strong’s own blood was spilt. I continued to sing, lending my strength to my brothers. (Even so, Sterling somehow managed to snap his bowstring… it was really quite unfortunate.) Piotyr the Pious’s blow landed true again, though not so true as to save me. The spear sank deep, rending my flesh, and as my Song faltered, the others paused. (My Lovely stumbled slightly, and nearly turned back… the fear in her eyes… well. She gave me the strength to continue, if only to reassure her she would not be left again.)

The strength of the Silverhawks filled me to overflowing and I sang a Song of Thunder and Death. One goblin fell beneath the onslaught as the other writhed in agony, and my final verse allowed me to lend power to Sterling the Strong’s final blow with his War Hammer. With that, the last moved no more.

Far ahead we could see the rest of our siblings engaging with the remaining Goblins in a great show of flashing blades, lustrous spells and righteous invocations. Sterling the Strong remained behind to query those we had rescued, while Piotyr the Pious and I ran forth to join our siblings in glorious battle. I stumbled, my heart bleeding and my eyes filling with tears as two of the Goblin spears found its mark. (My poor Lovely… if only I had been faster to join them! Or if I had gone with her from the start. From now on, no leaving each other’s side in battle!). The Stunning Sorceress’ fury rose at the steel twice cutting her flesh, and she called down the lightning from the skies and struck five together. Noble Natsuko raised her sword and sliced another asunder.

The battle raged on amidst mighty swords, faith purified javelins and scorching rays. The beasts’ blows failed to touch Noble Natsuko, but found their cursed way to Mystical Marit, and the Stunning Sorceress. More goblins streamed forth from the village, and were quickly dispatched by blade, javelin, scorching rays and orbs of chaos.

Such display cowed all who remained to question our Righteous Cause, but not quickly enough to avoid the Just Vengeance visited upon them. They were quickly searched for thieved goods, and unholy relics. Then, as one, the Silverhawks moved forth. Mystical Marit blew her orc horn, won in righteous battle. (Poor girl… the brutality of our chosen life often tries her. She lends a wonderful kindness to our adventures, but I worry that her mind is becoming less sound. And I wonder at just what Piotyr learned in that monastery of his… kill all the infants so that nothing survives to seek revenge? Make love, not war I say. Or better yet, make love after making war. I wonder if they would accept that as our new motto?)
Thus, they were subdued, and one walked forth from the town, waving a cloth of grimy white, and as he drew closer his missing ear became apparent. He spoke, in the broken language of a second tongue, and revealed the plight of his people. It was decided then we could not force them to their Death on the march to their own lands, and that while Mystical Marit healed the weak and dying young we sent Sterling the Strong and Piotyr the Pious to collect our wage. (There was quite the heated discussion about that, let me tell you! But despite Piotyr’s prejudices and Sterling’s practicality, the rest of us were unwilling to kill what were basically helpless families. Not that I would be too quick to trust a goblin, they are trying to survive and keep their own. Family is like that.)

Thus, we took them all, and some of the littlest rode with me upon the Stunning Sorceress’ steed, and I regaled them with lullabies of battle and victory as I surveyed the lands for danger on our way to our keep.

After they were settled within the village, and given instruction on repairs and cleanliness, we left to rejoin Sterling the Strong and Piotyr the Pious in the quest for a Carpenter and the meeting of Golshan. One was attained with worrisome ease, while the other offered a tantalizing quest…

… and so ends the tale. Until next time!

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Letter to an Old Friend

To Ragnar Olsson – Chief Officer of the Cheese Makers Guild of Ylir

Dearest Ragnar,

My apologies for the time that has lapsed since I last wrote you. My siblings and I have been increasingly busy as of late. As I write to you, we are travelling in the nearby lands of Dmar, on a twofold mission for both kingdom and family. We arrived bearing a letter from our late mother to deliver to one Golshan Agassi. Upon entering the capital, we quickly learned (through my adoptive brother Sterling’s unsavoury behaviour of bribery) that Golshan was recently fired by the lord we have come to aid, though she does still dwell in the city. We felt it best to complete our primary mission first, so as not to anger his lordship by seeking her out. At least not before receiving payment. We are a new noble house and we shall surely carry out many noble deeds, but first we require coin to build up our lands.

We stayed in an unremarkable but well kept inn our first night. I was glad of the roof over my head, though I’ll never afford a pack donkey if we keep spending so much on inns. As you remember from when my family was alive and well in Ylir, I have wanted one of those fine animals since first seeing the cheese porters carrying the products of our labour to the furthest reaches of the kingdom. But those were simpler days. I have not had time to think about cheese making in some time, though I carry the Great Gouda always, in my heart and at my side. I regret that my skills in battle have been needed more than my skills in spreading the word of the Great Aged One. Though I vow upon His Roundness, that at the end of this gruesome battle, I shall have a word with his lordship about the distressing lack of cheese in this kingdom and its inns.

We are to rescue villagers who have been terrorized by goblins. Above and beyond our mission to clear out the village, we have been promised extra coin for this service. Though his lordship angers me by calling the villagers his property, I have held my tongue. It is good to be of assistance to these poor wretched souls. I do it gladly. My siblings and I marched out immediately and found the village intact, though flying odd white linens, faded to a dingy grey. I feel it in my core, there is something amiss here. My brothers and sisters are quick to assure me that the only disturbance I feel comes from the existence of the goblins themselves, but I do not believe it. Though the presence of these minor beast men threatens to fill my heart with hate and my mind with painful memories and the half-faded smell of smoke, I know it is not my past, but rather divine dairy guidance that tells me, something is wrong here.

The goblins were overseeing villagers harvesting the fields. We set an ambush for them. And after a long hard fight we had slain the first ten goblins. As the last beast fell to my javelin of faith, we turned to the fleeing villagers and confirmed that it was indeed the beasts who ordered the white linens be put up and the villagers to prepare food for them. My siblings and I could see a couple of other work parties in the fields. We expected to pick them off easily one by one, but the second party was expecting us. While Aino led the villagers away from the fray, the rest of us charged into battle once more. We killed eight of the filthy monsters, but the other three fled. I ran after them, watching in horror as our one chance at staying unknown to the rest of the goblins sped away. Thank Gouda my sisters were faster than I. Natsuko and Tia slayed the remaining beasts before the rest of us could even catch our breath.

We rest now, before the next round of mayhem and blood. It is distasteful, and yet I trust in the Aged One’s plan for me in this life. I was led here, and this must be work He needs me to do. I trust also in the judgement of Mother, who deemed me worthy of these skills and of her care. I must go now. I will send this letter as soon as I am able, and eagerly await your reply. You have been my dearest friend through these troubled years. Though you were unable to take me in after the death of my parents, you have remained my one connection to my homeland since the priesthood cast me out. But no matter. I will roll ever onward. As He does.

Yours,

Marit Sommerfeldt of the House of the Silverhawk.

-

Great Gouda who art in heaven,
Cultured be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy curd be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily cheese.
And forgive us our unsavoryness,
As we forgive those who are unsavoury toward us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from unripeness.
For thine is the grated,
The pungent, and the holey,
For ever and ever.
Ferment.

-

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Little Village on the Plains

I guess we should be thankful that the village was still in relatively good shape, but it also had the drawback of attracting some unwanted guests. At least beastmen aren’t exactly known for farming, so the grasses and crops left to seed were tall enough to help give us some cover on our approach.

It must have been a while since any soldiers had been near, as there was only one lone sentry, who was easily dispatched without raising an alarm. We quickly dispatched another napping beast, and moved on to the next building, where we surprised a few more beasts, and then barricaded the door while we examined the structure. unfortunately we attracted the attention of what we assume was the chieftain and shaman of their tribe. The shaman cast some vile curse upon us, but it did not help him, as an arrow though the eye dispatched him fast.

We managed to take down another few beast from above, before the chief broke down the door. Thankfully Piotyr and Marit were downstairs, and held the rear while the rest of us joined the fray. The fight went well, and though the chief was strong, we had the advantage of training together.

Like many villages on the frontier, the homes are sturdy, built of stone, and fortified main floors, and though filthy with the presence of the beasts, once cleaned out they will make excellent places to stay while the keep is rebuilt. Though they will need a LOT of work.

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The Caves
July 10, 2015

"Run!"

I listen to the warning, dodging rocks that fall near me like fish from the sailor’s nets. My gear is heavy on my back, but I’ve fled like this before. It’s no big deal. We run back the way we came, my siblings and I, down the tunnel that led us here.

The strange beetle is dead, but its death throes have knocked the tunnel down around us. When the dust settles, we realize that our entrance has been destroyed. Fear hides at the corners of my mind, but Katsuo is in my hand. He calms me, as always. There is nothing to do but try the other tunnel, to the left of where our entrance into these strange caves had been. The tunnels had seemed so unremarkable at first, but I can see now that they are about the same size as the beetle. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen so many strange things during my life with Mother.

The tunnel takes us to a large cavern. I can see daylight and my heart leaps. There are cracks in the ceiling of the cavern, much like the ones we entered through. Better yet, I can reach them.

Embarrassingly, it takes a couple of tries.

“What, are you out of practice?”

I ignore how Katsuo laughs.

The ground starts to shake as I reach the top. I look. My siblings are as confused as I am.

And then another beetle emerges in a shower of rocks and we know.

I reach for Katsuo, who sings to join the fight, before realizing that we are too high. I could climb down, but I sense that I would miss most of the battle by climbing. To Katsuo’s dismay, I ignore his protests and pull out my bow instead. Unfortunately, I’m still too far away to do much good. I growl in frustration, but there’s nothing to be done and my siblings dispatch the monster just as a second arrives.

“Swing down. Fight!”

I reach for Kastuo.

But my siblings are climbing the rope and all we can do is rain arrows down upon the beetle until they have reached safety. The fight is below me, but my siblings are here. Safe. Daylight is mere steps away.

I hang my head and follow my siblings out into the air. One of them fumbles, gets caught in the crack, and must be pulled up. I barely even notice.

I spend the entire walk home apologizing to Katsuo. He ignores me.

At least until Naraziy tells us that two new jobs have arrived by carrier bird. We can defeat marauding beastmen in Damar or help deal with miners causing trouble in Malkus.

I whisper the news to him.

We smile.

Adventure.

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The Book of Silverhawk
The Book of Silverhawk

1. After the home of Silverhawk was cleansed of its wickedness, the champions learned of unclean beasts dwelling in their land

2. And they set out to cleanse their land of evil

3. To an abandoned village they did march, that they might slay the evil that rumour said dwelleth therein

4. And they did arrive at the village and beheld great ruin and decay upon it

5. Yet they did see great billows of smoke rising from a chimney and the tattered flag of a beast lord

6. And there was great deliberation betwixt the champions, and the valiant among them called for the beasts to be driven out of the house and slain

7. Yet cowardice had taken root in hearts and the valiant were outnumbered by the fearful and they shamefully turned away from their duty

8. And so they did march unto the abandoned mill with thoughts of conquest and cleaning the evil therein

9. The mill was closed to them but a mighty boot from the righteous paladin smote the door

10. And the door was smoted

11. They did search the mill and found it empty, not a morsel of evil was found

12. And it soon came to pass that the day expired and night took hold

13. And there was yet more deliberation betwixt the heroes over who of the them would stand watch at night

14. There was much talk of squish and being squished. And then they slept.

15. And upon the morn they did march to the hills of their land, in search of things to smite

16. And they found a great rock quarry

17. And near this quarry they beheld a great wound in the earth and the darkness that did dwell in that deep

18. In search of evil all but two champions descended into the chasm,

19. And the great righteous paladin said unto his companions, why was I left up here with the crazy cheese girl?

20. And there was no response

21. After they heard good tidings from their companions in the deep, the rest descended

22. And it came to pass that a great sound was heard by all and a great beetle beast did erupt from the rock

23. Arrow and arcane were loosed upon the beast and all did get in on the smiting action

24. And a righteous arrow did pierce the eye of the beast and slew it

25. And the cave did shake and wail as wall and roof began to crumble

26. And the champions did panic

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