Kingmaker - As the Ravens Gather

Kuthona 4711
Snow swirled around the legs of Topper Red as he stood in the middle of the Thorn River camp. The large drifts of snow obscured a great deal of the site but Topper recognized it regardless. It was now officially part of the barony and he was there to scout it for Yorick. He was also there because he had needed something to do. Winter meant that he saw little of Perlivash and none of Tyg-Titter-Tut and he felt very alone. Of course he could gather innumerable numbers of people around him when he wanted for whatever escapades he desired but since the incident with the Gyronnan witch he was a different man now. He knew that now, it had taken him a while and he had come close to killing himself but Perlivash had entertained him and kept him company and never really given him the opportunity to settle into the pain and horrors of what had befallen him.
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Neth 4711

Elder Hamish exited the brush line above his property and stopped to lean against a boulder. Snow and ice caked his furs and skins making him look like an emaciated bear awoken early. His old wolfhound friend Dirge stepped out next to him and lay down in the snow to escape some of the wind. Hard-by-the-Rapids looked as peaceful as it generally was to live in. Gray and white smoke rose from chimneys throughout the town to be caught in the wind and blown away. There weren’t many sounds to be heard or movement to be seen, it was too cold and the Kamelands threatened to dump more snow and turn even uglier before night fell. Hamish had been out doing some gathering before getting ready to hunker down in his cabin for a few days. He took this time to appreciate his small hamlet and thank Erastil that it remained a good village of people. They had just been informed that Meereover had officially claimed the area as its own. Their warden had ridden in with his men and made announcements like some popinjay, like he already owned the place. Hamish snorted out a sharp fog of breath at the memory that caused Dirge to look up in curiosity. That Ismort fellow had looked a bit shocked when Hamish had thrown a “poppycock” in his face and called a town meeting to discuss, pray and vote on the issue. It had been a long night of arguments and concerns but the consensus after the speeches and voting had been to join the Dukedom of Narlmarch as long as the Six River Freedoms were upheld; that no lordling would come changing things and that Erastil remained the god of Hardby. It had been a fair vote and Hamish had blessed it in the name of the Stag Lord but he also had doubts. The bigger these kingdoms and towns grew the more that the people who lived there were forgotten, the harder it was for folks to take care of their own; and that was before all the other vices entered into the picture. Right now Hardby was a good home with good folk but how soon before he wouldn’t recognize it, he thought.

Hamish looked down for a while more watching the specks of folk ending their day. Homes gathering some of their wood indoors, a group of children enjoying a last sled run before dark, a few men folk leaving and travelers entering The Rapids Tavern before the snow became too heavy. The constant low roar of the rapids and the occasional cry of a far off wolf was part of the town every evening. By the time Hamish had started for his cabin by the church and the communal fields it had already begun to grow dark.

Heph Baldinssonn took a deep breath and looked around his new weaponsmithy and released a gout of condensation into the freezing air but the young man took no heed. In fact the Ulfan youth stripped bare-chested and began to prepare the forge to be lit, reciting a prayer to Gorum with every shovel of coal or pump of the bellows so that in no time steam rose from his skin before smoke even rose from the coals. By the time sweat was pouring off his face and arms while heat and a flaring glow shimmered from the forge Heph was already pounding a purified piece of steel as he prayed to Gorum. As the dawn rose the completed sharpened blade was finished with prayers etched with Heph’s best work, and stained by the popped blisters in his hands. It was razor sharp and with a final prayer to the Lord in Iron Heph stood and embedded the dagger into the frame of the new building right in the central support beam over the forge. Heph’s body was soaked with sweat that caused his unruly braided shoulder-length reddish-blonde hair to stick to his face. His hairy chest heaved as he gasped for the cold air away from the forge and by the time he had redressed, buried the live coals in ash, and locked up his new store he had recovered and for the first time since immigrating to the River Kingdoms from Mendev on his own he felt sure about his future.

The militia marched down the main street of Meereover to the gates of Castle Stag when a pleased duke and a beaming proud general stood and waited. The militia looked homespun but they functioned perfectly and Corbin could tell that Korrah was satisfied as her unit marched and handled their weapons expertly. Corbin already knew from inspecting them that they could cause some real damage. It was the effect on the people of Meereover that made Yorick happy. He could hear the applause and see more and more of the populace came out into the brisk cold air on this feebly sunny day to watch as their first armed unit showed them a hint of what they were capable of. After the minimal damage caused by the enraged owlbear had been cleaned up it had been the militia that had patrolled the area and started a visit to all the villages connected by the Zebulon Pike displaying their ability and looking for issues to help with. They had ended here in Meereover to a display that the Duke hoped would inspire a sense of safety and the General hoped that it would be the beginning of a true army worthy of the blessing of Gorum.
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Heavy on the Brow

Pushing the stupid pot back from his forehead, Duke Yorick walked quickly up the stairs. Once out of view of his subjects, he removed the crown and rubbed at his temples. Why did it have to be so uncomfortable? Slade had explained that by their nature, crowns were front-heavy, but surely some more effective design had been worked out over the centuries.

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Spy vs Spy

The svelte Tian woman sits at her desk frowning over reports from her Shadows. “This doesn’t make any sense!” she exasperatedly breathes, massaging her temples with her delicate fingers. “Grigori can’t be in both Meeroever and Tatzlford at the same time.” Sigh. “The kobolds in the radish patches can’t be threatening to secede and join the fey. And this part about rumors of The Baron and The Witch?” She lowers her head to the desk and thumps it with her fist several times. “What the fuck is going on?”

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Conspiracy

Crack! The sound of the slap was loud enough to draw Prog’s attention outside to the windows high above him. Prog chuckled and moved along the wall patrol.

“Oww! Lizvetta, what was that for?” exclaimed Yorick rubbing his reddened face.

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Shiny Armor
Corbin woke up and hopped out of bed. Korrah was still asleep he had the day off, what to do what to do. He stretched his back pushing his large belly out and rubbed it then grabbed his loincloth and a clean set of clothes.
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And the mead flows freely.

“Oy!” Shep shouted to the barkeep. “Another and be quick about it!” A crooked grin parted the grime on his face as the cool mug of freshly brewed mead was placed in front of him. He slapped down a three pence and turned back to his friends who are deep in giddy gossip.

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The Message

30.Rova(September).4711

Sobovor finished cleaning Gorum’s Rage and laid the battleaxe on its cradle. He was used to the rush of battle lust that the axe generated when held so letting go of it only elicited a soft grunt from the old grizzled castellan. The venerable reaver turned to watch the servant unobtrusively removing the tray of the Duke’s barely touched mid-day supper. The Duke hadn’t eaten much and Domani was staring out of the window at the falling snows absentmindedly rubbing a parchment letter with his thumb.

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Dry land at last

Having made it back to the base camp, after ANOTHER trip in a boat, Slade is done. He finds himself a comfortable seat, and begins fishing for his pipe.

“You go ahead” he begins. “These old bones need a rest after that island. Shoulda known a boat trip would be a disaster.”

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“I’ll keep an eye on the camp. I got some thinkin’ to do anyway.”

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#+*{=}*#^ hammer!

Cradling his right hand close to his chest, Slade props up his feet and looks at the hammer.
“What do you think, Yorick? Found the hammer in an ancient dwarves ruin. Wrested it from the grasp of our ancient enemy, the goblins. Abadar’s teeth, I can’t stand them.”

Looking at the dwarf, the Baron considered. Slade had probably been thinking about this for a while. And in his usual taciturn way, Slade gave little indication of where he was headed “Yep, that’s a hammer all right.” said the younger man.

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