The Queen's River

Belog's Journal - The Tale of Sheriff George Grimble

It was a dark and stormy night. We were hunkered down for the night in the Green Briar Inn. Janus Grimble was there, glowering at us once again. I decided that he looked thirsty and ordered an ale for him.

Once again he refused. Before the ale could be returned to our table and be put to good use, Drogo Raveknott, local ne’er do well, grabbed the mug and quaffed it down.

I was about to object, but he offered to tell the tale of Sheriff George Grimble, Janus’s father who is now a disgraced spirit haunting the ruins of the abandoned Little Bear Inn. A new story is well worth the cost of a mug of ale.

Years ago, before the terrible orc raid, Sheriff George Grimble was dispatched to Concord by Lord Roderick Aurendel along with four diplomats and six bodyguards to Concord with a plea (and significant funds) for assistance against a predicted orc invasion (Corwyl had already declined to aide them). They were tasked with riding straight through but were forced to stop at the Little Bear Inn.

There they encountered Lord Illidris, a high elven diplomat. what happened after that is speculative, but Gellir and several other Briarton survivors arrived at the Inn and discovered George and his retinue, apparently drunk, with no memory of the last several
days. They executed all of them for desertion. George’s decapitated body was hung in a cage and left to rot.

George’s spirit, and those of his followers will not stay quiet. The inn stands abandoned.

While Drogo’s delivery of the story was rudimentary, the content of the story was fascinating. We knew we couldn’t leave a mystery like this unexplored, especially one so close to our doorstep.

We contemplated waiting until the storm passed to investigate, but there was no way I could wait that long. We considered waiting until the morning, since it was most of a day’s journey to the inn, but doing so might cause us to miss the arrival of Lieutenant Dol Rok to answer questions of his involvement with the theft of elvish heartwood. I don’t want to miss that. We set out immediately.

Earlier that night, Brash, Selly and I had a clan meeting. We wanted to express our appreciation to Squib for all the assistance he had rendered to the clan, and the best way I knew to do so was to declare him as murkhûn – shield brother. We explained this to him on the journey. He was characteristically gracious and humble in his acceptance.

Upon our arrival at the inn, Bron and Fin offered to reconnoiter the perimeter, and I agreed that they should. While they were doing so I examined the corpse displayed near the entrance. It was in a gibbet, and significantly more robust that I expected a fifteen year old corpse to be.

While I was contemplating this revelation, Bron returned from his perimeter reconnaissance and the corpse of Sheriff George Grimble suddenly began to emit such a blue streak of Elvish expletives the air almost seemed to shimmer in its wake.

Fin had returned by this point, and attempted to assuage George, but merely redirected his ire. The stream of Elvish invectives continued unabated at Fin. We decided that we should investigate the interior of the inn.

Murkhûn Squib took the lead entering the inn, and as the rest of us followed we were swarmed by bats. While we were defending ourselves, some sort of Brachipposideros also joined the melee.

I began the song of heroes and engaged the dire bat with bolts of arcane force. The others concentrated their attacks upon the dire bat as well, and it soon attempted to flee. Sully used his beard to entangle the beast and prevent its escape. The normal bats did flee while we dispatched the beast.

A survey of the large entrance room revealed a series of nooses above the bar, and a large number of bones scattered about. We gathered the bones, so that we could bury them. We decided to finish the collection of the remains before we started digging, since it was so rainy out.

We headed up the stairs to explore the upper level of the inn. While we were still on the stairs, two groups of skeletons attacked us. The bones we had just collected downstairs comprising one group, and another set at the top of the stairs.

These skeletons seemed intent on killing us in the same way their lives had ended, they each wielded a spectral noose and used it to strangle their foes: us.

Once again, I performed the song of heroes, and this time I blended in a battle chant to assist my allies in extricating themselves from the nooses their attackers entangled them with. I successfully enabled Murkhûn Squib do exactly that.

Suddenly a surge of holy light erupted from Selly and engulfed the skeletons before him. Two of the skeletons disintegrated utterly. I was so dazzled by the display that the group of skeletons behind me were able to successfully lasso me with their nooses.

We were able to dispatch more and more of the skeletons, I luckily had filled the bladder of the bagpipes at the beginning of the song of heroes, so I was able to continue it whilst being strangled. I had to use my axe to dispatch my foes, and disentangle myself from their nooses.

Unfortunately, there were just too many nooses for me to extricate myself entirely, and I wavered in and out of consciousness. My persistence was distracting enough to allow my allies to finish the others and while no one was unscathed we were all standing at the end of the battle.

We searched the upstairs and found an attaché containing Sheriff George Grimble’s original orders. As we exited the inn, George became supremely agitated, throwing himself against the bars and lunging for the attaché. I lowered his cage and released him. While I did so the skeletons we had just dispatched existed the inn as a team of spectral
horses arrived, which they then mounted.

While they waited, George frantically motioned to us to follow him and he led us to a nearby forest where the coin he’d been entrusted with was sealed in the bark of a tree. One axe blow and it all came pouring out. We collected it as George mounted his steed and with a cry of “For Briarton!” he and his retinue raced off towards Corwyl faster than any mundane horse could hope to match, much less a group of weary dwarves on foot.

Belog's Journal - Wake Island Excursion

The morning started most oddly, neither Selly nor Bronn were anywhere to be found, and Consul and Lady Aerith were also absent, I hope they have a good story to tell when they return. As I was eating my breakfast and reading a fascinating narrative on the discovery of
thaumaturgical entanglement, Squib arrived and asked for assistance, we went to the tanner to see if Stron was available, luckily he was.

It seems that renowned philosopher and mystic Lady Halsekka has decided to sequester herself on one of the wake islands for a meditative retreat. unbeknownst to her, the Koru behemoths’ migration is unseasonable early and there is danger of flooding for those islands. We must locate her and evacuate her to safety.

The only ship available on such short notice was the Ladyslipper – Captain Archibald Bletch’s vessel. He was amenable to assisting our mission, and his presence and comments were tolerable. Barely.

Our first stop was an island called “The Boot.” It is hard to imagine why the island was named this, the shape is certainly not evocative of a boot, and no one seems to know the origin of the name.

We set out searching the Boot for clues of habitation, we found an ancient cutlass and a shoe with some ancient metatarsals (probably human), shortly after these artifacts were discovered, I noticed a lone over-sized Formicidae scouting about. Unsure if it had seen us and was attempting to bring reinforcements, I unleashed a bolt of arcane force at it. Unfortunately I didn’t kill it outright and it was able to release a cloud of pheromones to alert the colony.

The ground nearby began to shake, and immediately erupted with a swarm of angry insects with one particular specimen slightly larger than the others, with a distended abdomen. This insect immediately sprayed some sort of goo onto Squib and Stron, but the discharge fell short of my position. I began the Song Of Heroes to inspire my companions and attempted to crush the insects climbing on me without hurting myself. Ston extricated himself from the swarm and fired arrow after arrow into the mass, Squib speared a few, but was overwhelmed by their numbers and they attempted to drag his unconscious form into their tunnel.

It took a few attempts, but I was able to disengage from my foes and use a potion to revive Squib before he was dragged into the nest. We finished off the rest and returned to the ship.

We continued our search of the islands, Spider Point and Critterisle were small enough for us to determine that Lady Halsekka was not there without having to disembark. We continued on to Follyrock with only minor delays.

Upon approach to Follyrock, we saw that there was an elegant elven vessel that had been pulled up onto the beach. We examined it – the mast had been snapped and there was a warning written on the hull in goblin letters: “Go Away!”

We surreptitiously approached the structure on a slight rise from the beach, and saw another goblin sign: “claimed in the name of the Queen!” We were able to see that there was a small group of goblins inside, scurrying about at the direction of what was obviously their Queen. I snuck a bit closer and was able to cast Charm on her before we were detected. Then I backed out and announced our presence by knocking at the entrance.

They were surprised to see us, and many of the goblins began to ready weapons, but the Queen ordered them to stand down and greeted us warmly. We asked her about Lady Halsekka and were informed that she had been sentenced to Ghouldoom as punishment, and we were forbidden from interfering with that judgement. We assured her that we had no intention of doing so and that we were going to return to our home.

The Queen demanded gifts before we departed: Squib presented a cutlass (the one we had found on the Boot), the goblins were impressed. Stron presented a tanning knife, but unfortunately it had been damaged and the goblins became agitated. It fell to me to sooth their mood, and I knew only one thing would suffice, though I was loath to part with it: The puppet in my likeness that Genevieve the Fair had crafted.

The Queen was overjoyed and we bid our farewells. Upon arriving at the beach, we pushed the elven craft back into the water and attached a tow rope to bring it with us. The goblins became quite upset, but by the time they arrived at the beach, we were underway.

Upon arrival at Ghouldoom island we learned that we would need to wade ashore or risk beaching our ship. We waded ashore, upon climbing up onto the beach we immediately learned that it is always twilight on Ghouldoom island, while we were puzzling out this phenomenon, a swarm of dire rats attacked. Squib attempted to dissuade them, but their
hunger won out. We were able to fend them off without too much difficulty.

We traveled to a lone pine tree a short distance from the shore, and located Lady Halsekka part way up. Unfortunately, there were a number of ghouls milling about in the vicinity, one who refused to identify himself told us to leave, and when we refused rush to attack us. We
were able to defeat the ghouls, but not permanently, I’m sure they will return before long. We escorted Lady Halsekka to the Ladyslipper, and while Captain Bletch made numerous inappropriate comments on the voyage back to Briarton he did at least attempt to do so out of earshot. Undoubtedly Lady Halsekka heard them, but she graciously ignored him. We arrived without incident. Lady Halsekka confided in me that she believes my presence on Ghouldoom was no coincidence and is instead a portent. She alluded to a prophecy of a dwarven hero arriving to avert certain doom. Previously it was believed to be <<local>>, but Lady Halsekka seems to think I am the hero of legend. Time will tell.

Belog's Journal - Forgefoot Funny Business

My cousins and I were enjoying breakfast with Squib at the Greenbriar Inn, when a extraordinarily well dressed Grippli(?) entered and galumphed over to our table. He introduced himself as Fin’iquentil and appeared to know Squib. Lady Aerith had yet to join us, perhaps she was feeling unwell.

While we were introducing ourselves and getting acquainted, a commotion arose outside. We rushed to investigate. Outside numerous citizens were clamoring about an invasion at Stumptooth’s Farm on the edge of town. Janos Grimble was there and followed us to the farm.

Upon our arrival it became evident that the farm has been infested by over-sized insects of the Formicidae family. They has already attacked the livestock, severely injuring at least one bull. The others engaged them in battle while I unlimbered by instrument. One of the insects bit me while I was distracted, but I was able to take a step back and began to play. We were able to exterminate the infestation with minor effort.

The townsfolk celebrated our victory with a feast, a wandering minstrel, named “Genevieve the Fair” performed a puppet show of the battle. While her musical performance was somewhat lacking, I must compliment her on her ability to rapidly manufacture quality puppets of reasonable facsimiles of our small band! Bronn has grown quite attached to his likeness and several of the towns children have their favorites as well. Janos Grimble was there.

During the festivities, the Imperial navy cruiser (HMS?) Axiom arrived and the crew disembarked. Several joined the festivities, and I was shocked to see a Forgefoot among them. We simultaneously noticed each other – he immediately turned and left. Good riddance.

After the show, while eating lunch, I noticed that Fin and Squib had departed, but they returned before we had finished. They obliquely mentioned that there was a need to locate contraband in town – obviously they’d had a meeting with Lady Elwindil. We put our heads together to compose a list of local scoundrels and swindlers. It’s a short list:

Cyna Ethed – Halfling thief, runs local thieves gang.
Drogo Raveknott – local ne’er do well.
Duncan Sentry – demontouched fence/smuggler/grafter/gentleman.
Archibald Blech – human fence/smuggler/wretched boor.

We began our investigation at the Queen’s Cove inn. Ameiko Kaijitsu, the owner was shockingly unwelcoming when we arrived, but a little sweet talking warmed her disposition. Archibald Blech was sleeping in the corner when we arrived, but soon woke and asked about our “pretty cleric” – I sent him to Selly. While I kept Ameiko occupied, Fin located Duncan and questioned him. For some reason Duncan wished to hold a contest of log hopping – a local variation of Birling. Bronn, Stron, Selly and Fin all lined up to compete. Selly and Bronn each wagered their puppet likenesses against their performances. Selly asked for my surreptitious assistance, and I was happy to provide it. While I was able to significantly enhance Selly’s performance, it was not enough to overcome Fin’s natural aptitude, but he won Bronn’s puppet at least. Janos Grimble was there.

After the contest, Duncan suggested that a search of Leurora’s Mercantile Emporium would be lucrative. Once again, I provided the distraction. My initial plan was to haggle over the worth of the finely wrought sword that the kobold leader of the tree poachers had formerly possessed, but upon entering the emporium it was obvious that Leurora was in the process of producing knockoff puppets of the Cragshaper clan. In fact, it was a single puppet of the three of us. We instead discussed the nuances of using someone’s likeness without express permission. While she was distracted Fin, Squib and Stron searched the back rooms.

I was still citing precedent when Squib entered the front door of the emporium. I informed Leurora that we would continue the discussion in the future and exited with Squib. He let us know our quarry was no longer at the emporium, and that we should return to the Greenbriar. We saw Janos Grimble on the way. When we arrived Drogo was there, requesting our assistance. He wanted us to scare off some creditors who were shaking him down for additional money after he’d already paid. At least that was his story. I had my doubts.

In the alley between the inn and the stable, there was a small group:

Kurdle, a gnome alchemist.
Ustob a half-giant lass.
Lady Garol an elf swordswoman
Belitz a silent human.

Kurdle informed us that they were bounty hunters and that Drogo was wanted in <place> and that they were going to take him in for the reward. Drogo had offered to pay them more to let him go but had not yet done so. Neither group seemed interested in playing Drogo’s game of “let’s you and him fight”, so when Kurdle suggested a series of contests, I accepted.

The first contest was of Strength: Bronn and Ustob would alternate attempting to hoist the hay-lift with increasingly heavier loads until one of them failed. Bronn insisted that if he won Selly return his puppet. Selly reluctantly agreed. The first few attempts were trivial for both of them, but then I noticed that Bronn was having some difficulty – so I intervened with a improvised knock spell. Bronn won the contest and retrieved his beloved puppet.

The second contest was Speed: Stron and Lady Garol would duel until one had been tapped with the blade three times. I loaned my Ironwood axe to him for the contest, its light weight and superlative balance would aid him greatly. Kurdle insisted on inspecting the axe, and used it was a pretense to spray a powder on Stron. Before I could object the contest had begun. I began to devise stratagems to counter whatever deleterious effect the power would have upon Stron, but whatever the effect was it was too slight to impair him: He won.

After easily wining the first two contests, Kurdle admitted defeat and did not even attempt to match wits with me in the third contest. Clearly his boasts of wit and wisdom have some merit. He and his group left town. Janos Grimble was there.

Drogo informed us that there was to be a secret auction aboard the Axiom this evening – hosted by Make Sieg Forgefoot. Of course. When we had initially been compiling our list of scoundrels Selly had suggested that we just confront the Forgefoot, but I thought that was just Argumentum ad Consequentiam and said we should probably perform a rigorous investigation. Maybe next time we’ll just follow our instincts.

We headed to the docks and embarked a longboat to ferry us to the ship. During the trip, I told several anecdotes embarrassing to the Forgefoot clan, the crew took quite a liking to them and to us. We learned that the captain, while well liked, was more bureaucrat than sailor, and relied heavily upon his first mate to run the ship. We needed to separate them. It was decided to inform the captain of the auction and the need for discretion.

In order to shut down the auction and retrieve the contraband, Fin instructed the captain that he needed to speak to him privately. While waiting, The rest of us began to sample the refreshments and hors d’oeuvres set out for guests. Shortly after we had begun to sample the delicacies, Forgefoot arrived, spoiling my appetite. He was furious. He demanded we be evicted from the ship, immediately. I stalled him by informing him that we were there at the captain’s invitation. He turned for the cabin door, and while Stron interposed himself, Selly admonished him that insubordination and dereliction of duty reflected poorly on one’s clan. He stopped being furious, skipped livid and went straight to apoplectic. He had just begun a tirade when the cabin opened and the captain stepped out.

The captain informed Forgefoot that all non-crew were to be evicted from the ship (present company exempted) and a search for contraband was to be conducted. Cyna, Duncan, (Drogo?) and Archibald were soon escorted above deck and off the ship. Duncan expressed dismay that we caught up to him so fast.

A search below decks yielded several samples of rare elven woods, and two caged animals, in the first a Bunni-oid, in the second was a creature I had thought mere fable: a mandh nâr lapattë, or in plain Khuzdul – Luck Bunny. It became immediately obvious what Fin had been hiding from us, but not why. We were helping him, at some point we were going to successfully locate the quarry and learn its particulars.

No Matter. We collected the contraband and returned it to Lady Elwindil using a covered wagon. When we arrived at her residence, Janos Grimble was there. Fin and Squib went in alone while the rest of us returned to the Greenbriar and resumed our supper.

Belog's Journal - The Dragonne

Dragonne.jpgWe followed the trail left by the dragged lumber, an elf lass has joined us, but it seems that Stron has decided to remain with the barge.

While we followed the trail, we recounted what we know about ogres, they’re large, they aren’t terrifically bright, but they do speak and can be reasoned with. We wonder if there is a way to lure/bribe the ogre into abandoning his alliance with the kobolds.

We must have been too focused upon our plans for the ogre, for we were ambushed by a dire bear. It has definitely already been in battle recently as evidenced by the kobold javelins embedded in its hide.

Neither we nor the bear were particular vested in the conflict, except cousin Lomac (who actually bit the bear!) so that when the bear attempted to flee, we let it. There were some kobolds that attempted to capitalize on our engagement with the bear to harry us, but a well timed magic missile dissuaded them. I also needed to save Selly using his own magic with a technique I read about, but never had a chance to try.

We resumed following the trail, and soon came to a clearing with a wooden tower used as a lookout post. Selly suggested it as a good place to camp for the night, and trusting to his judgement, we set up watches and settled in for the night. I was awoken by a sharp pain to my ear to discover that oversized ants were literally crawling all over us.

It took quite a while, and we each needed to help one another, but we were able to exterminate the ants, even the enormous one that showed up halfway through our battle, although that one merely fled. I was able to collect one of the oversized ants that while dead was not too terribly damaged. I will attempt to make a sketch for these journals, I must devise a way to clearly denote the scale.

We finally found the end of the trail, and it turned out to be a primitive sawmill. The ogre was there, but it had been killed by a creature I was initially unable to identify, it was certainly not a dragon, nor a manticore, nor a chimera, it wasn’t until the battle was over that I realized it was a dragonne.

Initially we wanted to find a hidden spot to observe the creature, but when we approached our chosen location, we learned there were already kobolds hiding there. They attempted to drive us away, but instead I began the song of heroes, alerting the creature to our presence and attracting it to our location.

The creatures roar upon arriving at our location was enough the cause several of the kobolds to feint dead away. During the battle that ensued, the same group of kobolds that attempted to ambush us during the bear fight tried their luck again, but after witnessing the dragonne get cleaved in twain by Aerith, they fled, once again. In a spectacular display of divine magic, Selly was also able to completely destroy the kobold that appeared to be in charge of the group hiding from the dragonne.

It is quite odd that a dragonne would be in this climate. They are traditionally desert dwellers, as are their dragon and lion progenitors. This matter will require some investigation, but that will have to wait.

After an examination of the kobolds and the mill, we have discovered several account ledgers detailing the poaching operation, and implicating a certain Orc. We returned to Briarton, but aside from some minor kobold skirmishes and another ant incident (the less said, the better) we arrived safe and sound.

We met with Captain Falandar who was so excited by our news, and evidence that he requested our assistance in leading the recovery team to salvage the remaining lumber. Our return with the liberated lumber was met with sincere gratitude and Lord Roderick Arunel of Briarton insisted on rewarding us with elf-made weapons. I have accepted an Ironwood Handaxe of Protection. While its artistry is passable, I feel that it will serve much better as a symbol of my status within these elf controlled areas, especially if I am to remain here for the foreseeable future.

Belog's Journal

It was suggested that I keep a journal of my adventures while working on my dissertation. I have decided that I shall.

Father insisted that I not travel alone, I have acquiesced for Mother’s sake. Cousin Sellywud shall join me on my journey, and truth be told, it will be comforting to have a familiar face around. He insists on carrying my heavier supplies, and I am wont to let him, he’s much more suited to the task than I am.

Upon our arrival at the embarkation docks, we encountered cousin <name>. He seems more well traveled than we, and we appear to have lifted his spirits with our presence.

In addition to several elves also traveling with use there was a Twygzog who appeared to be quite friendly with them, I surreptitiously collected some spores he was ejecting. I have read of a beer recipe that employs Eukaryotic catalysts and am anxious to see what results I can get with these.

Once we were underway I was quite glad I had my books, as there was nothing to do but watch the monotonous greenery slide by. I did notice that one of the barge crew was also a dwarf, albeit quite tall. Stron Guardsmanseemed to take a particular interest in our mundane conversations, presumably he has little chance to converse in Khuzdul.

Suddenly there was a rather boisterous disagreement between one of the Elves and the Bargemaster. Apparently there was a nuisance of Kobolds in the river, poaching lumber, and the Elves were rather indignant and demanding intervention on the part of the Bargemaster.

Selly was quite anxious to intervene, no doubt due to the boredom of river travel. I concurred and we were swiftly in command of the barge and intercepting the Kobalds.

The Twygzog, who’s name is Squib, charged at the Kobolds and I noticed he would need to maintain a precarious balance upon the logs in the river. I began to play an old Birling song I recalled:

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk
I’m a lumberjack: no time to talk
Buzzsaw loud and flannel warm, I’ve kicked around
since I was born

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother
you stay on the logs, stay on the logs
Fell the lumber breakin’ and everybody shakin’
And we stay on the logs, stay on the logs
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stay on the logs, stay on the logs
Ah, ha, ha, ha stay on the logs.

Once we had engaged the Kobolds and dispatched a few, they fled. Squib followed the tracks they had been making and determined that something large – An Ogre or possibly a Giant – has been helping them drag the lumber father inland. We have decided to investigate, but first we must return the Barge to the Bargemaster in the condition we borrowed it. It’s only polite.

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