Rick's Hold

April 10

The party eventually got bored at the keep again what with all the STUFF they were doing, and so departed, heading for the location discovered by the cleric in the ancient Dwarven journal. The trip was plotted to be seven days in each direction. Most of the trip was rather pleasant and relatively uneventful. They even spent an evening with a neighbouring baron, where they enjoyed dinner and impolite conversation about the baron’s “many wives” (an invention of the bard’s story-telling skills).

The picnic was ruined by some rude displacer beasts which, after a quick scuffle, were defeated quite soundly. They were probably skinned and maybe even eaten a little. Who remembers these things? The bard remembers!

The rest of the trip was passed rather quickly from there, and the party reaching their destination. The location did indeed turn out to be a dwarven stronghold, and one of Gnarldan Steelshield to boot. The exterior of the dungeon was very impressive, with massive dwarven busts (HAHA, “busts!”) carved into either side of the worked stone entrance. There was also a broken statue of a female Dwarven warrior, and one of her boobies was still intact. The dwarves were unable to make it fit into their magical haversack….

Upon entering the dungeon, the group was immediately accosted by a swarm (a small swarm) of stirges. The bard swiftly and smartly lulled them to sleepiness with a lullaby, expecting the wizard to follow it up with a sleep spell, to which they would now be especially susceptible. The wizard however, obliviously blasted into the combat with magic missiles, destroying only one stirge at a time and allowing the thief to lose nearly all of his constitution and therefore nearly wither away and die.

Following the ‘fight’, the group regrouped and began to set up camp. Except then they decided not to, because that would be bad. Instead, they decided to investigate the area around the first room to determine if it would be safe to set up a camp inside for the horses.

April 3

The party looked into the territory of wild dire boars, gathered some supplies (all the nets in town!) and taking Takahiro to lead them, the group went boar hunting. After only 4 hours of travel, they found tracks, and not two hours later they had discovered a small herd of big pigs. After a brief discussion, the party cast several spells, rendering most of the group invisible and silent. These members then slowly moved towards to boars, while remaining grouped together so as to not lose touch with each other. The first attempt to charm one of the monstrous hogs failed miserably, only serving to gain the attention and anger of the wild boars.

The ridiculous combat only got worse from there. The party attempted to use non-lethal force at first, as their goal was to capture, not kill. Luckily, one of the few partially successful manoeuvres was a web spell that caught 3 of the 4 boars, although this hampered the paladin’s ability to charge. The rest of the party then tried to knock the behemoths unconscious. Unfortunately, this resulted in multiple failures to do anything useful, while the boars had no such problems and gored up all comers as best they could. Dimitri summoned his rhino in order to slow the boar’s advance, but only a few rounds later had to send it away as two boars tore into the poor pointy pig.

Soon resorting to lethal levels of violence to prevent further disaster, the group finally started to turn the fight around and began soundly defeating the boars. Only one of the four boars was accidentally killed, the other 3 ‘safely’ rendered unconscious. Dimitri, Elatoris and Takahiro returned to the keep to enlist aid in dragging 8000 lbs of pork back home.

While they were away, the rest of the party remained with the boars to guard their captives. During the night, a large unidentified creature approached from the cover of darkness. Hearing the thing coming, the party readied spells and waited. Upon seeing a large bear wander into the camp area, probably having been attracted by the smell of carrion, the wizard loosed his fireball directly at the beast. However, the wizard immediately realised his error, recognising the bear as not just a bear, but a werebear. Knowing werebears to be creatures of outstanding goodness, but often dangerous under a curse’s sway, Sarror passed on instructions to try to defeat the invader without killing it. After a brief scuffle, the werebear was defeated. The group tied it up and waited for morning. The army Dimitri brought from the keep arrived and escorted the 3 unconscious boars, one dead boar and the trussed up werebear back to their home base. On the way, the werebear returned to human form, and turned out to be none other than Vitaliy, the smith from the keep! He was completely unaware of his condition, but asked for his curse to be removed if at all possible. After a brief stint of research, the group prepared for a night of fun. Laying several spells onto the smith to aid the curse removal, they waited for the full moon to emerge, once again forcing a lycanthropic transformation. With the assistance of the group, Vitaliy was able to throw off the clutches of the curse of lycanthropy that had ailed him.

Aralo immediately began training a boar to ‘heel’, to increase safety. As captured wild animals do not make good ‘pets’, the group intends to breed and raise their own boars. Unfortunately, the 3 boars they captured all all male. Also, the problem of penning them arose; dire boars are massively strong, and the group is unsure if the bars of their dungeon will hold them.

The dead boar was cut and dressed, resulting in a vast quantity of meat. Dimitri took a bunch and went out among the farming families that fall under his knightly jurisdiction to hand it out as gifts. Irwin will also begin training a boar to ‘heel’, once he has finished a trick with the rust monster.

March 27

The party turned in the band of bad guy half-Orcs, led by their cleric of Vecna, to the Elven authorities and finished their various shopping errands and so forth. They then continued on their way to visit the Dwarves of Ilfern once more. After a short, very short, very very journey, they arrived. The paladins continued to buy most everything they can, from gems and iron to livestock (why not pigs they asked).

After a brief, very brief, very very brief stay, the party returned to the Elven settlement, and continued to shop. The Dwarves joined in the hiring this time, as the cleric wants to train mounts for his warriors. The wizard wholly supports this, as he intends to have some form of menagerie eventually. And so they hired two Elves, one to train warhorses specifically and another to train other things, whatever they may be. The group eventually got over their shopping spree and returned to the keep, where they divided up the small amount of treasure they’d won from their latest excursions.

Irwin, who had been staying at the keep, waiting to be paid, was hired on by the cleric and wizard to train the animals they intend to bring home. (They’re thinking war-boars, for riding on!) Finally, as it was the end of the month (August to be specific) they gathered the monthly incomes and taxes and payed all the workers and warriors, clerics and maids for their months labours.

Prepared, primed, disposed, arranged, and ready now, the party gets ready to capture wild dire boars and then undertake an expedition to the mountains accross the lake to discover a Dwarven settlement the cleric believes to be hidden there. This location has been pried from the coded journal discovered in the last Dwarven ruins, those belonging to the lost Dwarven clan of Gnarldan Steelshield.

March 20

Remaining in the Elven city for a few days longer, the party continued their various activities. The Dwarves continued their research, only briefly interrupted by an Elf wizard of some sort. After a few basic questions, the Elf, now seemingly satisfied (he was not at all satisfied), left them to their secretive research. By the end of the week in the Elven city, the Dwarves, mostly the cleric, had determined the location, or believed so at least, of another Dwarven settlement, either ruin or even town.

Nuati continued to search for resources to trade in other lands and purchased silk and several valuable Elven jewellery pieces.

The paladins attempted to question the half-Orc prisoner they had captured at the druid’s grove the day before. This yielded few results that the Dwarves know about — actually, nothing the Dwarves would understand at all, really. After a few charm spells, the prisoner spilt his guts about nearly everything Nuati wanted to know, except for the location of the evildoers’ hideout or temple.

While the half-Orc was being interrogated once more, the party (without the wizard, who was making a scroll) was attacked by a horde of yet more half-Orcs. Most of them were warriors, but they were led by a cleric, and the fight provided some entertainment. When the battle began to grow tedious and Dimitri started to get bored, he blew his horn of Valhalla (hadn’t used it in a couple days after all) and summoned a small horde of barbarians who got in everyone’s way but still helped to defeat the half-Orc threat. This group was led by a cleric of Vecna or something. How is this connected to the other prisoners they’ve taken?

March 18

The party, upon arriving at the Elven city, were immediately invited to dine with the king that evening. The party quickly split up in order to accomplish their own tasks. The paladin went to discuss purchasing wood for construction with whomever he could talk to and Nuati went to look into trade and purchasing trade goods, what fun!

The Dwarves went off on their own, joy! The cleric, for his own part, was completely distracted by the journal discovered in the Dwarven ruins, huzzah! He could not be taken away from it, though he was not drawn to violence when it was briefly removed from him (unlike with a curse). The wizard fed and assisted his brother in his research, so they cloistered themselves and the four Dwarven guards in a corner of the library and ignored everyone else. They were equally ignored by everyone else.

The party (led by Nuati) hired yet another Elf to keep at the keep, maybe he intends on breeding them, who knows? Nuati knows, that’s who. This one is a wizard-smith capable of crafting such wonderful things as boots and cloaks of Elvenkind. Approximately half the party could do with a set of those!

The two paladins went into the woods since it was Saturday, looking for the centaur druid to give him either a heart, a brain, or a rhinoceros. They took the thief and the horse with them, as well as Dmitri’s hireling wizard. While there, the druid detected that they had been followed. The Halfling sneaked up on the intruder to discover it was a sleeping half-Orc. He took away the spy’s double-axe and buried it, then returned to wake him up. Thus ensued a fight which the paladin Gil joined, and which ended with the lucky capture of the spying half-Orc. The Dwarves were attacked by a summoned fiendish constrictor, which was dealt with summarily. They then returned to town with their prisoner and, somehow, a rhinoceros? I think? It’s somewhere, this rhinoceros, although no one’s quite sure where that is.

Later, whilst most of the group was in a bar conducting interviews for their new steward, Dmitri detected evil from across the bar. Without delay or hesitation he and Gil launched themselves across the room and, after a brief scuffle in which many charm spells were cast and successfully saved against, the party members rendered their victim, a half-Orc assassin, unconscious. Taking him prisoner, the party was able to, with assistance of an old Elven guy they’d met previously, discern that their harassers were members of the Cult of the Minotaur Mage, probably attempting to retake a scroll tube the wizard has. The half-Orc was captured while in possession of a recently made journal (or notebook, if you will) with detailed notes on the the party and their doings, as well as their associates and their doings as well. All in all, mighty suspicious. The town guards showed up and took this prisoner away, but not the earlier prisoner, even though they were both in the tavern and both manacled with the party’s masterwork manacles. That was a bit odd. However, they kept the journal (or notebook, wink wink) to themselves for now.

March 14

After a night’s rest, the party decided to re-enter the caves to tackle those pesky undead wandering about. Heading directly for where they had seen the last undead in the dungeon, the party quickly encountered a couple of large cinderspawns. Though threatening in appearance, the ciinderspawns were unable to batter their way past the two paladins blocking their path and no party members were physically hurt much, but they lost some Charisma (oh noes! run!).

After eating the cinderspawns, the group continued to advance through the rooms that were empty except for all the stuff in them. The various spaces had many etched archaic dwarven carvings throughout, and the party discovered an old journal, also written in the same archaic dwarven. The wizard, seeing the journal as a piece of interest, began to attempt to decipher the ancient writings. Though Dwarven, the writing is so outdated that it is nearly impossible to read and understand.

The party cleared out all the undead and found a series of secret doors leading to rooms of notably increasing sliminess, ultimately leading to a room filled with several carrion crawlers.

Once again, with the paladins blocking the now-open doorway, the approaching beasties were unable to get to the other members of the party and with the whole party attacking the horde of abberations while they flailed mostly pointlessly at the well armoured holy knights, the carrion crawlers didn’t stand a chance. Within a few short rounds, the battle was ended and the carrion crawlers slain.

With the carrion crawlers defeated, the party had free reign of the dungeon and made sure to pillage the rooms effectively. Taking a sack of gold, a wand of cure moderate wounds and various other articles of loot, the party left the dungeon, heads held high and ready to continue on their way to visit their Elven neighbours.

Also, the wizard decided against hiring Takahiro as a permanent tracker because Ray is a cheapskate. He wanted 50g a month, which was just too much for the wizard to justify (as he rarely actually needs a tracker, useful and impressive though Takahiro may be). Instead, ‘Big Valuable’ was taken under the patronage of the Thief, Rumblebelly.

Although the wizard thinks the book is interesting and wants to read as much of it as possible, it’s actually the Dwarven CLERIC who is obsessed with decipher it and learn more. It appears to have something to do with the Dwarven hero, Gnarldan Steelshield (of the lost Steelshield clan).

March 6

Continuing through the dungeon, the party decided to folllow Nuati’s suggestion that they locate and deal with the Ettin’s band, who they had tracked here in the first place, before mindlessly attacking unrelated undead in the area. Getting Takahiro to track the ettin further into the caves so as to avoid other inhabitants (for which the paladin of Pelor paid him an extra 50 gold as danger pay), the group quickly descended upon the ettin’s lair.

While Nuati and Sarror escorted Takahiro back out of the caves, the rest of the party engaged a band of goblins, accompanied by a gnoll, all wearing decent armour too.
Dimitri leaped into the room sword-first, attempting to end the fight before it could begin. But much to his surprise, the attacks did not have the desired effect and not one enemy fell to his first blows.

Hearing a ruckus, Sarror turned back, leaving Nuati to make sure the tracker made it to safety. While the goblins and gnoll surrounded the battle-eager paladin of Pelor, cutting him off from the rest of the group, the ettin decided to make his/their appearance.
As the battle had commenced, the rogue had quietly been applying spells to his defences and now, seeing the ettin approaching, moved to the front. While the rogue stepped up, Sigafried sent off a grease spell, which the ettin slipped and fell in.

Pausing to cast a prayer spell and a shield of faith, the cleric stepped up beside the rogue to battle the giant.

The battle continued this way for a little while, with Gorin’s warriors shooting crossbows into the fray. Sarror returned to aid in felling the ettin (who tripped a second time in the same grease puddle by the way), but a second assailant could be heard in the room beyond.

As the paladin of Pelor struggled harder than he’d ever had to before to fell a gaggle of goblins (decent amour goes a long way!), the rest of the party engaged the new attacker from the next room, who turned out to be an arcane caster, probably a sorcerer, evil scum.

Given a few minutes to prepare himself while the ettin held off the party, the goblin sorcerer was well defended and ready for battle. Despite Gorin’s efforts to shield his warriors from the front of battle, the sorcerer struck down Reggran Flintspar (though “exploded”, or maybe even “popped” would be a more accurate description) with a lightning bolt that cut through the ranks of the party.

Before the sorcerer could do any more lethal damage to the party, the rest of the dwarves and group swarmed up and demolished him. And then looted him.

All the while, the paladins had continued to struggle and beat down the last remaining goblins, who had continued to prove their impressive resilience. With the last goblins finally hacked to death, the party looted all the bodies and the rooms nearby, healed their worst wounds quickly and retreated from the caves to rest.

The dwarves solemnly buried Reggran in his armour with both his dwarven waraxe and heavy crossbow beneath a small cairn. They then solemnly drank to his name and memory, as all good dwarves do.

Having brought a small number of pearls, the party, well Nuati, was able to identify the following among their loot: an Ioun stone of scarlet and blue that increases intelligence (which the wizard snatched immediately), a +3 short sword (now being used by Dimitri), a Necklace of Adaptation (taken by the bard Nuati) and a +2 chain shirt (pyjamas for Gil). They had also looted some 700 gold.

Having taken no prisoners, the party slept and rested overnight, preparing to continue their delve into the caves and tunnels on the morrow. The undead in the caves must have come from somewhere, and deeper in the caves seems like a likely place to begin looking. Plus there might be more loot.

February 27

After resting overnight, Takahiro led the party to a deep ravine, where Nuati spotted an eagle flying suspiciously un-eagle-like (and cawing like a crow) into a crevice somewhere at the bottom. After he eventually informed the rest of the poorly-sighted group of his observation, they made their way down to the bottom of the canyon, where they found that the crevice spotted earlier was in fact a worked tunnel complete with an obviously not-natural door.

After talking the dwarf out of fireballing the entrance, the party left Takahiro, Morgwais and the other horses outside the crevice, and then broke into the apparent bandit stronghold. They wandered a bit through a couple rooms before descending some stairs, whereupon they ran afoul of two Minotaur zombies and a skeleton undead thing, called a ‘spawn of Kyuss’.

The group quickly wounded, then immobilized the zombies, but had a slightly more difficult time with the spawn at first. Though it seemed weak and relatively defenceless, it threw a worm/grub at the halfling thief, which in turn tried to eat his brain. Some eventual assistance from the cleric cleared that menace up, and the rest of the party downed the spawn before it could do any more harm. That left the two motionless Minotaur zombies, which were sadly hard to knock down — even though they were surrounded and held. And hit by several dwarves. But still they could not dice up even one defenceless meat-bag.

Regardless, the paladins cleaned up the rest of the mess before the zombies could hurt anybody (well, anybody other than the cleric, so not anybody that mattered). Gathering no info or loot from their opponents, the party resumed wandering. A portcullis, a couple of empty rooms and a thief-swallowing pit trap later, the party opened a barred door to meet further undead, including more spawns of Kyuss.

While the undead looked no more menacing than the previous ones just dispatched, the spawn were able to get their worms into both the paladin Dimitri and the thief.

Knowing the danger, the cleric moved to aid his allies but several failed healing attempts resulted in the first worm eating into and through some of the halfling’s alleged grey matter. Though he employed a scroll of remove curse to get rid of the horrid thing (no longer wanting to rely on his apparently faulty healing skills) the grub did eat some brain. After successfully infecting the thief, the spawn moved its attention to the paladin of Pelor, who also received an unhealthy helping of brain-eating worm.

While the cleric tried and failed to help the thief, the paladin had a worm eat all the way to his brain while he continued to chop away at his foes. Then, upon it reaching vital brain matter, it began feasting on Dimitri’s most scarce resource: his intelligence. Realising his own danger, eventually, the paladin cured his own issue with a mighty blessing from his divine patron, though only after it diminished his already megre capacities. Hopefully both the halfling and the paladin will recover their brain stuff (they will, brains are regenerative in fact!).

Following the fight, the party healed their wounds a bit and collected themselves before moving on to the next room(s).

February 22

After a couple days in their keep, the party decided to renovate and add more buildings. After all, there were a good 40 more men to house (not to mention the housings for the current servants are already insufficient, which [along with insults from their dwarven employer] led to Jeremiah, the Butler, and a groom, some wonderful halfling, quit. Their loss).

While the building plans were paid for and finalised, the last of the men were outfitted as best as Rick’s Hold could afford to outfit them. The group also hired a full-time smith name Vitaliy to run the smithy they are adding to the keep premises.

Also, Gil Vihela suddenly realised he had gained a level without noticing it, so he upgraded himself accordingly.

After replacing the lost groom with a new one, and also hiring a new halfling (dime a dozen, aren’t they?), the party, led by Dimitri, decided to travel to the nearby kingdoms of elves and dwarves. The paladin and the bard hope to find resources, including horses, among the neighbouring demihuman realms as Rick’s Hold’s market left something to be desired. So, after returning home from a multi-month journey less than a week prior, the party apparently had wanderlust once again and took off upon a new adventure! Within three days, they ran into guards who informed them of raiders, composed of goblins and at least one ettin, that has passed by wreaking havoc recently, very recently.

The party aggressively took on the hunting of the creatures themselves. They briefly travelled to a nearby settlement to recruit a tracker to help them follow the retreating raiders. The tracker, though named Takahiro (his name means “Big Valuable”), has a strikingly similar accent to our monster tamer, Irwin, back at the keep.

Led by Big Valuable, the party was fast on the path of the raiders. Shortly into the journey, while they rested, the group was accosted by a roaming bulette. The huge, hungry beastie caught the majority of the group asleep, unarmed and armoured. Despite a few close calls, the party was able to put down the monster, using all the mighty weapons at their disposal, including a fireball, two searing lights and a lightning bolt. It was quite a light show! The forest burned brightly that night, probably. Or maybe not. We didn’t really get into that.

The party had Takahiro skin the monster, not knowing what else to do with it, and the wizard decided to hire him on permanently as their tracker. Once this was accomplished, the group went back to sleep with plans to continue on their way in the morning.

February 13

The party returned to Riverton, where they gathered the magical items they had ordered from Admaris, the old elf wizard. Taking their scrolls, potions and other [potted meat] valuables from the war campaign, the group returned to Rick’s Hold and their keep. On the way, Dimitri and Nuati each hired a wizard to assist in creating items for the group.

Upon returning to their keep, the group is greeted by a horde of civilians, all wanting to pledge allegiance to one member of the party or another. Dimitri was welcomed by 25+ warriors, the beginnings of a warband to say the least. More people came to join Nuati and his non-erotic band of elves. And, much to his brother’s surprise, the Cleric found 5 dwarven warriors wanting for his arrival to join his cause.

The party accepted all newcomers, paid them and outfitted them as best they could with their hoarded loot. In addition to warriors and wizards, the paladin of Pelor was granted a larger holding of land, and gained the patronage of 4 more farming families.

It was a time of accountancy and paperwork. Much joy was had by all!


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