Wait, So We're *Supposed* to Conquer the Whole Area? We Would've Done It Anyway.

Not so Mighty After All
Wherein Many Mites Are Murdered

Day 34 took the party to the Old Sycamore, where they fought through a whole mess of mites. Eventually they ran across one riding a giant tick, but they killed him and his mount, so…yeah. Dead mites. Also, dead giant centipedes and a dead giant whiptail centipede. Actually, the last big fight with the giant whiptail centipede, now capitalized for awesomeness, involved making McStubbs into an untouchable bundle of beard, beer, and bludgeoning knuckles. Kressle nearly died, but when the dust cleared, the party was victorious and Lunath healed everyone.

The party found a kobold named Mikmek, rescued him, and after learning a bit of the conflict between his tribe and the mites (mostly about a kobold religious statue that the party found in the Mite Lair), they went with Mikmek to the Sootscale Caverns. After meeting with Chief Sootscale, they attacked the shaman Tartuk, defeating him and questioning him. He explained that he was actually a gnome that was killed and reincarnated as a kobold, and he was trying to get all of the kobolds slain, and was also sacrificing them one at a time to a fictitious god. The party was impresssed with Tartuk’s nefarious accomplishments, but he seemed to have a death wish and no interest in, well, anything, so they let Chief Sootscale kill him.

Chief Sootscale swore fealty to the group, for whenever they might have need it, and was left to rebuild the strength of his tribe after the problems Tartuk created.

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Wow, You Guys Saw It, Too?

The party began the 27th day of their expedition with the goal of exploring the northeast portion of the Greenbelt. After a few uneventful days mapping terrain, they found a hut with an odd potion-maker named Bokken inside. While talking to him, (Bokken asked the party to find some fangberries for potions) a shambling mound attacked Kahless’s eidolon, who was waiting outside.

The eidolon drew the shambling mound away, and the party ran outside to fight it, eventually defeating it without suffering any casualties, despite some grievous wounds. After Bokken gratefully gave the parties several potions for their defense of his house (although he was initially surprised that the battle wasn’t all in his head), the party left and continued on their way.

The party found and killed six more bandits, also locating a forgotten cache under a Claw-Shaped Tree that matched the treasure mapped they found on a dead bandit in the Spider’s Nest. Inside the cache were some trinkets, a wand, and a mostly-damaged spellbook.

The party currently waits to continue exploring, now 33 days into their expedition.

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A Cripple Cured and Clear Countryside

Day 23 of the Greenbelt expedition continued after the fight against the tatzlwyrm. Nearby, they found a pair of ruined buildings serving as a makeshift pen for a slurk named Ubagub. A moment later, they met a boggard named Garuum. After exhausting Garuum’s limited knowledge of common, Kahless managed to persuade him to seek treatment for his mangled hand from the cleric at the Temple of the Elk. The party camped for the night at his Boggard Lair, then headed to the temple, got Garuum the treatment his hand needed, and continued exploring, one ally richer.

They explored most of the northwest of the Greenbelt, encountering and killing four boars, two giant frogs (at a Sulfuric Pond surrounded by hot springs), and another boar.

They also encountered a Barbarian Cairn. They dug up the corpse of a barbarian who was once a minor chieftain among the Tiger Lords that once ruled the land. They found a ring depicting an eel and a frog locked in a tangle, which turned out to be a ring of swimming.

Back in the forest, they ran across a dead trapper, crushed under his own deadfall of logs. They took his axe and continued north, running across a Trapped Glade, which they thoroughly cleared of bear traps.

All in all, 13 days passed as they explored and eventually returned to Oleg’s Trading Post.

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A Spider! Squish it!
Or: Mongols Do It on Horseback

The party returned to Oleg’s Trading Post after fighting the kobolds. After smoothing out things between Kressle and Svetlana Leveton, the party met Kesten Garess and his small band of mercenaries. With Kesten available to defend the trading post, the party decided to keep Kressle with them.

Also at the trading post was Jhod Kavken, who asked them to find the abandoned Temple of the Elk. After resting up, the party headed out to continue exploring, starting their 11th day in the Greenbelt

They found a circle of discarded animal and human bones, at the center of which was a trapdoor spider, who attacked McStubbs with a dangerous bite before retreating to its trapdoor. McStubbs decided to stand on the door to the spider’s lair in an effort to restrict the spider’s ability to attack again, only his weight collapsed the door and he and the spider tumbled to the bottom, further injuring the dwarven monk. While the rest of the party looked on helplessly, McStubbs grappled and pummeled the spider into submission. At the bottom of the Spider’s Nest, they found several dead bodies including a bandit with a Stag Lord Amulet and a treasure map.

After camping, the party found themselves attacked by a large group of wolves. McStubbs was on watch and quickly alerted the group, who mounted horses and fled. Eventually realizing that wolves had no ranged attacks, the group used slings, crossbow bolts fired with magic, and shuriken all from horseback to slay the wolves before returning to camp.

As they continued exploring, they encountered an Elk that was quickly dispatched by Kahless’s eidolon. Due to Kressle’s sharp eyes, they found a gold mine that they may later be able to exploit. She also warned them that a rickety bridge would likely not support the weight of their horses, and guided them to a river crossing further south. Their crossing was delayed slightly, as they encountered a shambling mound when they camped, but Lunath’s identification gave them just enough warning to escape on horseback. Eventually, they returned and collected their abandoned equipment, continuing on.

After crossing the river and setting up camp, the group found themselves visited by a group of grigs, who mostly were surprised to find McStubbs, who had managed to spot one of their kind earlier. He managed the feat again, waking his companions to entertain the grigs with stories of their adventures.

As the party entered the forest on the return trip, they found Tuskgutter’s Lair, the home of the boar that had become a local legend. Tuskgutter proved no match for the party, despite felling Kahless’s eidolon in a single blow. McStubbs proved too elusive a target, and he and Kressle finished Tuskgutter off safely.

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Trust is a Funny Thing
Wherein a Bond is Forged by Executions

The party decided to interrogate Kressle at the Thorn River Camp where they captured her. Considering that was the main benefit of capturing her in the first place, it was a little predictable. She explained that the Stag Lord runs all the bandit activity within the Greenbelt. She also outlined a basic plan for attacking the Stag Lord’s camp, which largely hangs on a passphrase to get into the fort on the northeast shore on Tuskwater (“By the Bloody Bones of St. Gilmorg, who wants to know?”) and knowing that delivering a bunch of the Stag Lord’s favorite alcohol (a case of 8 bottles now conveniently in the party’s possession) will result, very shortly, in a very drunk Stag Lord.

Kressle reminded the party that there were another four bandits out hunting, and helped the group come up with a plan for ambush. After ordering the four bandits to surrender (after aiding in the creation of an appropriate ambush scenario), and after the party tied up the four bandits, Kressle executed each one at the party’s request. She and McStubbs then spent the evening chatting over some beer. The party decided to leave her hands bound (and legs partially bound for a restricted stride, except when on horseback) for the foreseeable future.

They also learned that a bunch of trinkets, likely including Svetlana’s wedding ring, was stolen from the camp by a group of mites that dwell somewhere nearby.

At any rate, they eventually went on to explore the area immediately around the Thorn River Camp, running across a group of grigs, which only [[:duralagos | Duralagos]] could see, which he had to describe to Lunath to identify. After a quick bit of conversation where the party convinced the grigs that they were not the bandits who’d been in the area (and in fact had disposed of the bandits), they parted peacefully.

The party then moved on, exploring an adjacent tract of land, where they found some kobolds who were napping amid a clearing full of radishes. They caught the kobolds unaware, and quickly slaughtered the lot, then collected the radishes, which matched the description Svetlana Leveton had given when she asked for some.

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Arrival at the Stolen Lands
Wherein the lives of many bandits are cut short

The party of Duralagos, Lunath, McStubbs, and Kahless arrive at Oleg’s Trading Post with a charter to explore the Stolen Lands. Oleg Leveton and his wife, Svetlana Leveton let the adventurers know about bandit activity in the area.

In fact…some bandits were expected the next day.

The bandits came to collect protection money. Since Oleg and his wife could not fight off a group of bandits by themselves, they sent word to Restov that they needed assistance in protecting their trading post from bandits.

When the bandits arrived, they unwittingly walked into an ambush, and were swiftly and utterly defeated. Happs Bydon, the leader of this small group of bandits, was knocked unconscious by McStubbs, revived, interrogated, executed for the crime of banditry, and finally hung alongside the other bandits on the wooden palisade protecting the trading post.

After learning about a handful of bounties for various denizens and creatures of the Stolen Lands, as well as requests from Oleg and Svetlana for specific items (Svetlana’s wedding ring and some rare radishes, respectively)

With instructions provided by Happs and following the bandits’ trail, the adventurers had a fairly uneventful trip on the way to the Thorn Ford bandit camp. After a bit of failed stealth, the party wiped out all the bandits (save the leader, Kressle, whom McStubbs tied up mid-combat with the sash on his robes, continuing his streak of capturing bandit leaders alive). This was a much more eventful fight as the adventurers took arrow after arrow from the bandits, and only Lunath’s healing kept McStubbs and Kahless from ending the fight lying on the ground with potentially fatal wounds.

What will happen with Kressle? How many bandits are left in the Stolen Lands? Will the GM just get pissed off and kill the entire party capriciously? Find out next time…

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