Kingmaker - As the Ravens Gather

Concerning the Beldame's Request

With an exasperated sigh, Yorick put the Swamp Witch’s letter down and put his fingers to his temples. Among the rafters above, the shadow ravens had begun rustling and squawking, causing him to peer up into the darkness. When had that started? When had his illusion, a thing to designed to give the people something to chatter about, to help the legend of the Baron of Narlmarch grow, when had it taken on a life of its own? He probably should be more concerned about this development, but who the hell has time?

The young baron had expected the Beldame to leap at the chance to Magister. She clearly craved respect; surely the position would bring her that! But here before him sat not a gracious acceptance but rather a haughty missive demanding that he go rooting around in a mushroom patch. “Across the Tuskwater from my domain”? What does that even mean? It could be outside her picket fence for all Yorick knew.

He stood up quickly. There were loud shrieks the sounds of flapping wings from the shadows above. Where the hell was Brother Zero? He would know where this place was.

“Boy!” the baron shouted. Zebert caming running up. “Ask the Lord Treasurer if he would meet me in the dining hall.”

Zebert turned white and began shuffling from foot to foot.

“Well?” Yorick growled.

“Of course, sir, your Baron-ness sir,” the boy said, tossing his head to remove his long bangs from his eyes. “It’s just that . . . the Lord Dwarf Treasurer Inquisitor is counting the kingdom’s funds . . . he really hates to be interrupted, Sir Baron. Last time I went in there, he threw a tome at me, sir. It was bigger than my head, your baronship.” The boy thought for a minute. “It was bigger than his head,” he muttered.

“Zebert!” Yorick roared.

“Yes sir, your Baronial majestic-ness!” the boy squeeked, and fled from the room.

Yorick sighed again, rubbing his temples with his fingertips. Perhaps Yorick could reconsider this ‘baron’ thing. Corben might make a lovely baron. The shadow raven’s piercing shriek from over his head set Yorick off into a fit of laughter.

A "HOT" summer night

Corbin, Baron Yurick, and Brother Zero, randomly find themselves in the same tavern after a long day in Meerover. The three noble men share a tankard of ale each and enjoy the end of the day,

Corbin “When are we going to be heading out next?”

Zero “I have at least two weeks of journals to go over so not for a bit.”

Some of the shine in Corbins eyes dims and he looks in his stein, then he shifts his gaze to the Baron.

Baron Yurick “Sorry Corbin I’m backed up a good two weeks with judgments, hearings and other things of the such.”

Corbin looking completely defeated lowers his head and sloshes the ale around in his stein.

The nobles sit for a few mores minutes listen to the bustle in the tavern and talking to random towns folk that approach. Then an eerie silence falls over the tavern, the noblemen being ever aware of there surroundings notice the instant tension in the tavern and look around.

Baron Yurick starts a coughing fit and has to spit his ale back into his stein

Brother Zero “By Abadar, that sight will be etched in my minds eye forever” he grumbles and averts his eyes in disgust

Corbin stares at the doorway his mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water his eyes slightly glazed, as he stares at what he considers a vision of beauty. He pats Baron Yurick on the back until he stops sputtering

Corbin “Aye that is a vision i wont soon forget either” a lustful tone in his voice.

In the doorway stands Karrah, Her flat face all made up and her tusk polished to a yellow shine. Wearing what can only be described as lonsheray, her enormous bosom very nearly completely exposed, bristly hair poking out, over, and threw the thin veil she covered herself with. Her midriff bare with patches of hair exposing not a happy trail, but a happy jungle. And to top it all off legs as hairy as a she wolf.

Corbin stands up drunkenly and staggers love sick towards his fiancee, the crowd looking on in terror, Karrah reached out and picked him up a foot in the air so they were eye to eye, and planted a kiss on him. People could be heard puking in the background, then Karrah bodily dragged Corbin out of the tavern.

Baron Yurick “its a good thing he slapped my back i was choking on my vomit”

Brother Zero slammed his stein on the table “He didnt pay for the twelve steins of ale he drank”

Baron Yurick" well you can try to pry him away from Karrah if you’d like"

Brother Zero flopped down in his chair muttering something about a “she beast”

Markoa wondered into the tavern not a minute later pale and slightly green, he saw his friends and took a seat next to them

Markoa “You guys wouldn’t BELIEVE what I just saw”

Then looking into the eyes of his friends and seeing Corbins empty stein dis-guarded on the Table, and the eerie silence in the tavern Markoa realized he wasn’t the only one going to have nightmares tonight

Erastus 4711

The hot summer sun beamed in the soft blue sky shining down on the city of Meeroever. The city was a riot of color and activity as the people of the Narlmarches enjoyed their first festival. Streamers and banners stirred in the cooling breezes that swept over the city from the Tuskwater and from the Narlmarch Forest. The city had never been so full of people and Warden Ismort couldn’t believe that so many people lived in the area. Farmers driving wagons and herds of the best their farms could produce moved into the corrals and booths erected just outside the city.

Every peddler, tinkerer and trader from Restov to Mivon seemed to be there shouting about deals and wares in the marketplace. In the town square he sat upon his horse with a few of his senior guard around him watching the crowds move from one point of interest to another. It amazed Akiros that this many people lived in the backwoods. He, of course knew how many people lived in Meeroever and Olegton and even Tatzlford but he never appreciated how many had moved into Narlmarch but didn’t live on the Zebulon. Akiros looked at the large group of halflings that had gathered to admire the Baron’s new council table carved by a local halfling woodworker. He had a man watching it after it drew a lot of speculation over who would sit at the hickory table and if they were all equal in rulership. Akiros knew better. Yorick ruled but Zero and Markoa held a great deal of influence and were as much a part of the rulership of the barony as Yorick. Akiros made sure to have guards escorting all three of them as surreptitiously as possible when they were within the barony but they were gone so often that it proved difficult to ensure that the lords of the land were safe. Indeed, Markoa often ducked his retinue as a matter of habit when he was within the city.

Tatzlford Erastus 4711

The northern winds of Erastus were hot off the plains of Numeria and Brevoy rippling off the tops of the thick foliage of the Narlmarch Forest and shaking the growth along its northwestern border practically out of the ground. The heat that it brought quickly dried the earth and picked up a fine dust from the grasslands that erased small creeks and streams from existence. The winds assaulted the great forest with cloudless days of hot sun or sudden violent thunderstorms but under the canopy in the dark cathedrals of wood they were reduced to cool breezes and a susurrus of agitated leaves.

March of the Trolls

King Vesket lay in the holy mound to Gorum. His body was obviously broken and blood still seeped from some of his wounds. The Third of his consorts crouched near him using her knowledge of healing to try to keep him alive while the Second and the Fourth huddled near representing the last of the king’s mates. The holy mound was also filled with many of the other warriors of the tribe who had managed to stay alive through the fight. The rest of the tribe, females and young as well as a few males, still able to move were attempting to fix one of the other mounds so that the tribe had someplace to sleep. Fires still smoldered in some of the tents where, in desperation, the tribe had ignited their own living quarters hoping to drive the attackers away. The lizardfolk village was awash in bodies and blood of its own people, its walls torn open in a few places where the invaders had smashed through. Had the Lord in Iron not sent a miracle Third of the harem was sure that the tribe would have been destroyed. King Vesket had adopted the Lord in Iron as his people’s deity after a human priest had brought the power of the Lord to their village driving out the false ancestor. In the weeks that followed the king had prayed to the Lord in Iron and received visions and re-sanctified the holy mound to Gorum. It was when one of the young had found the mighty human sword in the river that Vesket had known that the Lord in Iron accepted the tribe. The Third had known when the rampaging beasts had faced Vesket himself and she had seen the sword suddenly become clean and full moon bright shining within the holy mound. Vesket had become, to her sight, armored with blood red armor and his trident erupted with fire. It was she who had ordered the females and young to torch the village except for the holy mound. She’d had to kill the First consort but Third knew that the Lord in Iron appreciated her strength. The battl;e had been terrible and many, warriors and tribes people, had died and all of the eggs had been destroyed by the Two-Head but they would build again in Gorum’s name with herself Third. No, not Third, Seetha the First and Only and she would be the speaker for Gorum for she felt his power within her, and her people would be strong again.

Night Air

Yorick sat in the entrance to his tent, staring at the campfire. Zero and Corben sat bickering; he could see their faces lit by the flames. Both the dwarf and the priest had been drinking for some time, but only Corben’s voice slurred. Clearly dwarves could hold their liquor. Markoa was off in the woods somewhere, slinking around. Yorick peered down at his own cup, but he did not drink.

Last night he had had the dream again. On black feathered wings, he caught the wind, soaring across the sky. Far below him, a figure on horseback galloped across a featureless plain. With a shrill cry, Yorick plunged down through the air, closer and closer to the figure. It was a warrior in heavy armor wearing the crimson cloak of the Brevoyan Guard. Yorick flew closer and closer until finally the figure turned it’s hood face up toward him.
Every night for the last month, the dream had ended at that moment, with Yorick waking up before he could see the rider’s face. But last night was different. Last night, as Yorick circled above on outstretched wings, the soldier threw back her hood revealing long blond hair and a familiar pair of brown eyes. It was Lizvetta. She looked up at him and spoke his name, and Yorick had reared up out of sleep with a gasp.

The Upside

The guards moved around the castle, patrolling once again in the night air. While things seemed quiet, there had been news of trolls. If the Baron and the other lords left the castle, then patrolling would become more tense still.

For now, though, Portis and Gim were totalling up a list of complaints, as generations of soldiers had done before them. “That thing makes SUCH an unholy racket. It’s unnerving” says Gim, as he moves across the courtyard toward the front gate.

“It’s worse than that, it’s LOUD. When that beast howls, you can hear it for miles. I’m surprised we haven’t gotten complaints from Olegton, I’m sure they can hear the damned thing” states Portis.

“I’m sure it’s a lot quieter when you’ve got a fine pair of legs wrapped around your ears” quipped Gim. “Maybe someday we’ll get some leave. Till then.” With a snap, Gim shuts the padlock on the front gate, and the chains that reinforce the stout wooden palisade. With the gates closed, Olegton seems farther away.

“For now, though, we’ve got that beast to deal with. While I’m no fan of howling, have you heard the thing eat? It’s horrible. I saw it eat an entire turkey in two bites.” claims Portis.

“Eating’s not the problem.” states Gim. “It’s all got to come out the other end. It’s getting to smell worse than that bird-bear thing. And the size! That’s just not right” stated the guard, as they begin climbing the steps to the top of the wall to continue their patrol. From the wall, the guards had an excellent view of the courtyard and the surrounding forest.

And that is when the great wolf came into view, bounding along far faster than a man could run, even while entangled within some sort of leather net. A rope trailed behind the great beast as it ran, and at the end of that rope was a bedraggled dwarf, dragging in the dirt behind the creature. Few spoke the dwarf’s guttural language, but the tone suggested a series of curses upon the wolf’s ancestors. As the guards watched, the wolf leaped over a fallen tree, and then ran onward. The dwarf hit the tree with a thud, and the wolf slowed for just a second before the tree gave way with a crack. Then the wolf and dwarf were gone, deep within the cover of the trees.

“You know, I’m starting to get used to that thing all the same” grinned Gim “It’s got an upside.”

At The Drunken Stag

Markoa slams the empty tankard on the bench, then orders another ale shouting. “To Corbin, the bravest companion a man could have!” Shouts of “Here, here!” and “Gorum bless him!” are heard throughout the common room. “Fuckin’ trolls,” he mumbles into his newly filled mug. He feels some of his hatred boil at the thought of the monstrosities. Should have studied them more instead of the stupid fey. Fuck them too!

“What!” he snaps as a shady, somewhat bug-eyed man taps his shoulder. Gremlin, sneaky bastard.

“Sir,” the spy says. “Correspondence from Brevory and Tatzleford. Also, on the road I spied more signs of Bydon. Another arrow.” Markoa snatches the proffered shaft and grips it in both hands. “Mother fucker!” The arrow snaps. “I’m gonna get that sucker. Dirty mother…” He stops and breathes for a few seconds.

“Thank you, Gremlin. You do good work. I need you to gather some discreet fellows and head to these coordinates.” Markoa’s hand is steady as he scrawls numbers and symbols down on piece of parchment that seemed to magically appear under his pen. Gremlin is that good. “There is a ton of shit work down there, and I’m sorry. You will be paid time-and-a-half for this, but it has to remain a secret. There are a ton of supplies to be brought back, and the place needs to be cleaned out. I’d send shit-heads, but this place needs to remain a secret. You’ll need someone who can cast the spells Prestidigitation and Mage Hand.


“Trust me. Prestidigitation and Mage Hand. Also, here is a list of some unusual supplies…” Gremlin accepts the list and scans it.

“Soap, sir? When you said cleaned out, I thought you meant…”

“Yes, soap. I said it was a shit assignment. And I meant literally cleaned out, but I need people I can trust on it. Not some castle servants or probationers. Here is something else.” Markoa pulls out a chit and scribbles a list and some numbers.

“Thank you, sir!” an excited Gremlin takes the chit for several months worth of benefits from the brothel up in Olegton. “Don’t worry. I’ll have your most dependable and trustworthy on this.”

“You will get a month off after this one. I was there and know how bad it will be. Get to it.”

“Yes, sir.” Gremlin pockets the papers and rushes out of the tavern, seeking out the right men for this job. Markoa grimaces at his empty mug. If I keep this up, I’ll be as bad as Corbin. He smiles and orders another.

The Most Dangerous Foe is the One You Cannot Fight

The ride back to Meeroever on the small fishing vessel was, for Markoa, hell. The small craft wasn’t designed for all of them plus their horses, the sacks of treasure and the corpses and trophies of trolls, forest drake and the grim sadness that they were hauling back to town. The smells of fish and corpses plus the rocking from the unsettled water was beginning to take their toll on Markoa. He had awoken from their rest in the watchtower feeling poor and as the day progressed he’d felt worse and worse. He had grown weak, uncoordinated and he had not slept last night from the aches and shooting pains in his lower torso where the damned trollhounds had locked their jaws onto him and had tried to rip him in two. It had been embarrassing. Well, frightening and embarrassing that the two beasts had come so close to killing him like a rabbit caught by hounds. Still, Corbin had died and Markoa hadn’t made too much of a fuss over himself in light of the passing of his friend besides Zero had looked at the wound and was keeping an eye on it.

The Cost of a Soul

Brother Zero trudged up to his quarters in Castle Stag. Zero felt the stiffness in his limbs and chest that were the hallmark of being healed but it was more than that, Corbin had died, badly. Zero had thought Corbin would have pulled through after escaping what seemed like sure death earlier in the dwarven watchtower but seeing his friend ripped apart by the rock troll was sobering. The ride back in the fisherman’s boat had been terrible with the bodies of Corbin and Kundal lying in their respective sacks, Markoa sick, Regik nauseas, the smell and the oppressive humidity that washed over the Narlmarch and Kamelands just made everything worse. The last thing Zero wanted was to talk with anyone; however, a servant had informed him that a Abadarian priest had been waiting the last few days for an audience with him. Abadar knew that bringing civilization to a wilderness like this was dangerous; that people would die and Zero knew that the danger only became worse, not less with each settler and settlement that he carved out of the Stolen Lands. Zero would shoulder the sacrifices; he had to, every market bringing food, every patrolled road that safeguarded travelers, every institution that ensured that the people coming to the barony could live a good life would be a step towards the goal. Zero just wasn’t always sure that he felt that the road he was on had an end.

Zero entered his rooms and found the man standing by his desk. Zero paused and sized the man up. He was young, Taldan, with short dark hair that clung at the sweaty ends to his skin and hazel eyes that were cocksure and betrayed a hint of annoyance. The Abadarian priest was dressed in a simple but expensive white silk robe with gold thread embroidery on the fringe belted with black leather and gold studs. The gold key of Abadar hung around his neck on a gold chain and the young man held a few books and a travelling writing kit in his hands. The presentation was supposed to evoke wealthy restraint, the boy was obviously a noble’s son, but the humidity robbed the youth of his poise as the silk clung and stuck unflatteringly. Zero took a breath and closed the door behind him entering with a bow to the priest.

“Treasurer-Inquisitor Brother Zero, may the wealth of Abadar’s blessings enrich you. I am Johten, Teller-Acolyte of the Grand Temple Vault of New Stetven sent by the Holy Exchequer Markus Orlovsky, First Judge and Royal Treasurer to his Royal Highness, holder of the Dragonscale Throne, King Noleski Surtova. I have been sent to audit your progress here and record the accounts of your achievements in the name of the Master of the First Vault.”

Zero looked at the young man and nodded as he settled into his chair and filled a couple of goblets with wine poured from a chilled brass ewer. He offered one to the appreciative man and unlocked his desk drawer to retrieve his own copies of Order of Numbers, Abadar’s holy book, and the accounting ledgers he used to keep track of the barony’s funds and resources as well as scraps and pens. He then pointed a chair out to the priest and raised his goblet.

“To the glory of Abadar…” he toasted and Zero took a deep drink, silently thanking the servants for their foresight, as the priest echoed him and enjoyed the cold beverage.

The two men went over the books together and discussed the concerns and accolades from the Brevan church for hours. The Holy Exchequer had expressed a desire for Zero to give thought to raising a temple vault or church court in Narlmarch to hasten the divine presence of Abadar. In time the priest noted the dwarf’s demeanor and begged for some time to check his figures and continue in a day or so, offering his condolences and services to the inquisitor as he exited Zero’s chambers. Zero could see that the young man was very capable with sums but Zero accepted the gesture and promised himself to give the boy more regard. It troubled Zero that the Exchequer himself was involved but the audit seemed to come more from the church than from the Dragonscale Throne and Zero had been clear with the Holy Vault in regard to his goals and aims so it wasn’t that they knew but that they had sent an auditor. What was going on in Brevoy he wondered? Zero pulled a bell rope and politely asked the answering servant for a bath to be drawn. He would think on this while he had a chance before Yorick’s council meeting in the morning where, no doubt, he would be handed many more issues to add more concerns.


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