28th of Pharasma (March) 4710 AR
The battle is still in full fight mode as the mysterious figure who aided them retreats along the upper walkway, while the Mason, Tobias, and Finch finish off the owlbear. Yuvitza is frustrated with her difficulties shooting upwards, and Foosa yowls as he snaps his jaws onto the tattooed dagger throwing man just around the corner- only to be kicked off, and stabbed, before the man also disappears.
Blades in hand, Tobias howls with orcish ferocity as he scales the poles supporting the raised sentry platforms, and hauls himself up, ignoring arrows to lay waste to one of the archers. The second is dispatched by Finch, whom Vitrius launches up like a shot put to clear the upper levels. Then, and only then, does the team experience a brief moment of respite, where what limited healing resources are used and as a whole marginally becoming patched up.
Snarling, Vitrius begins to interrogate the simpleton as to the location of The Stag Lord, and ‘the Amulet’. Stuttering, Auchs manages to point off in the direction of the Stag Lord’s room, but doesn’t seem to know about any special amulet- he’s got a silver stag amulet, too, after all. Getting what information he wanted, Vitrius surprises everyone present by stabbing Auchs viciously, and then proceeding to stomp his head in a show of rage. Yuvitza is particularly displeased.
Rallying together again, they explore the rest of the fort by heading to the first stairwell and rising atop the ruined tower, using the walkways to get a better view and see if any other bandits await them from on high- apparently, none. The fort is eerily quiet in that following two minutes after the first wave of the battle, and no figures present themselves. On the far side of the walkway, Finch stops everyone for a moment, hearing the sound of moving figures beneath them, where they believe the Stag Lord’s chambers to be. They act immediately- jumping down to the ground level, with Vitrius and Yuvitza taking hard landings, and certainly blowing any chance of particular surprise, before standing to arms in a doorway that reveals a fully armored and half dressed Kressel, whirling to face them. She growls, and behind her they see the silhouette of the sly tattooed man and who can only be the Stag Lord himself, drawing his bow.
The battle begins quickly, with proclamations that no quarter will be given, and from Vitrius that the Stag will hand over the Amulet draped about his neck immediately. Kressel is immediately set upon by Finch who has a score to settle, and Tobias. They whittle away at her as arrows are exchanged with the Stag Lord who has no trouble with Yuvitza’s suddenly entangling roots springing from beneath his feet; an archer has no fear of being forced to use range only.
Kressel struggles to retreat amidst the roots, not envying her front line position against so many foes at once, and is the first to fall as the battle pushes inwards. Dovan is next to take a significant beating as they are pushed back step by step towards the center of the tower, and is reduced to a bloodied state from the party’s tactics. Vitrius offers but one reprieve- flee now, and never return, or die. With the only he and his Lord left to battle five, Dovan shows his level of loyalty and flees- but not before taking a nearly fatal arrow to the back from the Stag Lord’s own hand. Alone and outnumbered, Stag manages to fell Mason in battle and severely weaken the rest of the party. Uncharacteristically, Vitrius uses the last charge of the flaming wand they picked up a few days ago in the mage’s cache and tries to fry the Stag Lord… simultaneously nearly killing Mason and endangering the rest of his party in the tight cluster around the Stag at the same time. In the end despite his might, the Lord dies in battle, in the center of his tower, the center of his power base, and takes with his death the heart of the organized crime of the bandits in the Greenbelt.
Everyone breathes great sighs of relief, and tends to what matters to them most just then: Tobias smirks and checks out the Stag’s assembled gear, removing his helmet and seeing the Lord’s acid-scarred face for the first time. Vitrius’s first act was to snatch the evil looking Stag amulet from the fallen Lord and huddle in the corner, clutching it to his breast almost feverishly. Finch heads back to Kressel’s bleeding, dying, and unconscious body, and “returns the axe she borrowed” to the woman it came from, showing that actually stabbing Finch in the back could see her doing the same to your head. Yuvitza tends to the unconscious Mason’s wounds, ensuring that he is not to die, even though he saw a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Calmly, Vitrius rises from his corner, and approaches behind Tobias, whom has just put on the Stag Lord’s helm to gain some new perspective. This is cut short as Vitrius suddenly attacks Tobias, stabbing him down in a blaze of betrayal. Everyone is shocked, most notably Finch, who stares in amazement as her most trusted friend and protector screams that the rest of the group is against them, and urges her to fight at his side! The melee that follows if pitched and frightful as the weakened group can scarcely stave him off- Finch pleading for him to stop, but taking no action except to play a music box she found earlier, in the hope that music would stop the savage beast. It does not. Mason still lies fallen, and Yuvitza soon joins him, with one last directive to Foosa to find the man who had aided them earlier… leaving Tobias and Vitrius to battle as equals in strength. Despite his renewed vigor, Tobias’s double blades find the dark paladin more powerfully, and lands a near killing blow. Vitrius collapses, and Finch cries out to stop fighting- her pleas ignored then, but not now by Tobias.
At her protector’s side, she begs Vitrius to answer why he betrayed them, what is happening, with the rising suspicion that it must be this Amulet he took that has changed him so- clearly, to have such a sudden rise in rage against his own teammates, it must be an outside influence. Vitrius rises to her, begging her closer, and silently slips her dagger from her pocket while telling her, “It was all lies. None of it was real! None of it!” Finch barely has time to cry, “But I love you!” before Vitrius commits suicide, goring his own neck with Finch’s dagger rather than become captured. Finch goes numb, and the mood is black as Akiros Ismort rounds the rear doorway behind Foosa, rubbing his bumped head (sapped unconscious by right-hand-man Dovan earlier on), and asking why that guy just killed himself.
Using the last of his healing potions, Akiros helps Mason and Yuvitza to consciousness, and explains that he was a bandit himself who grew weary of the pointless violence and bleak life in the Greenbelt. Without purpose, he looked to strike back at the Stag Lord, but on his own could not have hoped to have accomplished anything. When the party struck, he knew it was his as well, and regrets that he was so easily ambushed by Dovan before the fight against the Stag Lord proper. He asks them, who is their leader? Of the remaining four, Finch woodenly replies that it is her who heads this band. Heading outside in the dark to retrieve the steeds, she returns with the obedient horses- but when Pookie sees the fallen body of her master, the mare shakes her head and breaks away, clopping into the night.
29th of Pharasma (March) 4710 AR
Tales are swapped as darkness falls, and the gates of Stag Fort are drawn closed- the party too weak to do anything else but hunker down for the night and fall into a coma until late the next morning, where Yuvitza’s and Mason’s curative magics help immensely with the tending of cuts, scrapes, and deep bruises. The mood is not notably improved, as Vitrius’s untouched corpse leaves a particularly bleak reminder of what their victory cost, and what mystery remains, not knowing what happened to the mind of who they thought friend. Tobias handles the devilish stag amulet, and does not appear to immediately turn to evil himself, pocketing it with a promise not to wear it until they can find someone better to study the item for them and let them know it’s purpose and role in Vitrius’ betrayal. Mason recalls the priestess of Erastil (Joan Khavken) whom he encountered back at Oleg’s as a possible source of knowledge, and everyone agrees that they will soon enough have to explore the forest to the west to find her (as she is purportedly searching for a lost temple there). Other things need come first though, such as the burying of the dead.
The bandits themselves are buried just outside the fort along the wall, with a painted warning being slammed up on the gate as a temporary measure to any returning bandits that Stag Fort is closed for business. The Stag Lord’s head is removed as Finch recalls they had made a promise to one Davik Nettles concerning his killer’s remains and the returning thereof. Throughout this, a careful accounting of the contents of the Fort with Akiros’ help is performed- there is much stolen loot here for the party to plunder, the vast majority of which will be unable to ever properly be returned, with the possible exception of a certain amount to Oleg who would be delighted to have his sale goods back.
The majority of these goods, however, were not in the Fort but below it- Tobias having discovered the hidden cellar door in the pig roasting room, leading down to the mounds of coins, chests, furs, and gear that have been amassed. Before Akiros can warn them however, they are set upon by Nurgrah, the Stag Lord’s father in wolverine form- apparently, he is a somewhat mad druid, explaining his shape changing abilities, and when told about his son’s death, retreats from battle against the stone wall… hisses with anger, and magically melds into the earth to escape. Mason is impressed, and wishes he could do that.
30th of Pharasma (March) 4710 AR
Getting another night’s rest after the accounting and burial activities of the previous day, the party saddles up to ride out, with Vitrius’s body over one of the bandit’s pack horses, and none of his equipment taken- except for one. Finch removes the charter they received in Restov, and now bears it in her pack. They invite Akiros to come with them, and he declines for the moment, saying that it is instead more valuable that he stay in the Fort and guard it’s stolen wealth so that in a week’s time the party may be able to send transport from Oleg’s to retrieve it’s treasures- the sheer amount of loot impossible to carry in pockets and on their horses. Akiros asks if they trust him to do so, and they accede that they do, and he seems relieved to have some measure of it despite his past. Waving at them, he locks the doors behind them as they depart.
31st of Pharasma (March) 4710 AR
The party encounters the speaking dead once more at the old broken ferry, and Davik Nettles gets what he asked for- the head of the Stag Lord, whose scarred visage melds into water as they hand it over to the animated corpse, as does he, becoming one with the river as his spirit is put to rest. On the river’s edge, his magical ranseur remains, a reward to the group for staying true to their promise. With Finch in the lead, they trot off towards Oleg’s, the four of them to begin a new chapter with the end of the old- a place to bury the dead, and get on with the business of living- or staying alive.
MEANWHILE IN RESTOV…
An arcane agent arrives before Count Rocca Marina in his quarters, pouring a glass of wine and reading a letter in the other hand. He bids Saarthal to sit, and though wine is refused, the Count has no problem offering him a finely sieved glass of pure, freshest water instead. The letter comes from Vitrius, whose last incident at Oleg’s had him sending the Count a report, but instead was apparently a message to the effect of “It was all a lie. None of it is real. Your minions are now dead,” which is understandably of concern to the good Count who wants to protect his investment. He has thus summoned the wizard Saarthal who he had worked with before to enter the Greenbelt, locate the chartered party, and show a letter of marque and a copy of the letter Vitrius wrote to the other group members before “mutinying” with their aid, to overcome the turncoat paladin. This is of course if they are all alive. If they are not and he is, then the wizard is to use whatever means necessary to end Vitrius’ life. If he is already slain, then he is charged to aid whomever now leads the band accomplish their chartered goals, a statement which draws Saarthal’s brow. Surely the Count would like his own man to lead the party again? The Count assures him no, that it is better for the will of the people and particularly the loyalty of the chartered group that that not come to pass- for now, anyways.
Though the Count has assured him his own agents are already searching for Godfred Lambert and his associates (who seem to have left town in haste), Saarthal requests to check in on the matter personally before heading out on a provided steed. The Count accedes, and bids him well on his way to Oleg’s in the Greenbelt.
REWARDS AND LOOTS
1800XP for the defeat of Stag Fort, and completing a number of quests!
(Everyone has 5000XP- Congratulations on level 3!)
The Stag Lord’s Gear
Lots of Treasure, Gems, Trade Goods
“Bitch! You’ve shot at me 6 times!”
“The Staglord was not… staggered…”
“What’s your AC?” “One… million!”
“If you can’t take one in the butt and keep running then you’re not a soldier…”
“You can have your axe back…”
“Just say panties!!”
“Hush, you’re dead now.”
“Right up your alley, waffles!”