We have finally arrived at the one year anniversary since we founded New Hope. A meeting was called for all of New Hope’s appointed council, with the exception of Marshal Poog who insisted that exterior patrols required his personal attention. I understand his desire to be on the front lines, but routine patrols are something that leaders are not required to handle personally. I will speak with him later on this matter.
The events of New Hope’s first year were discussed. But the bigger announcement was the revelation that I was engaged to the Elven Princess, Aerith Edasseril, sister to Queen Telandia Edasseril of the Elven Kingdom of Kyonin. There was some reservation about the announcement, however. Concerns about the Elven Queen and possible ulterior motives were brought up, but I reminded everyone that we were still a fledgling nation and we were without an formal allies who would lend military support. Allying ourselves with the Elves to the south would do well to secure our southern borders, in addition to our northern borders (which we share with Brevoy).
What’s more, Aerith and I have actually fallen in love since we had first met. This marriage arrangement is not exclusively in the interest of political maneuvering – we want to be together in personal union. Aerith intends to bring a group of Elven mages to come stay in New Hope, as well as her own personal guard. If more of her kin wish to come live in our fair nation, then so be it. Admittedly, I had hoped that more of her Elf kin would be open to living with us but their xenophobia is more prevalent than I realized. I wonder how many of her people will come to the wedding celebration..
Towards the end of the council meeting, Poog burst through all beaten and bloodied. I rushed to his side, muttering a prayer to Iomedae to help me heal my good goblin friend. When he recovered, Poog announced that his patrol was ambushed by a group of Trolls while scouting towards the south. Not wasting any time, my core group of friends made immediate preparations to find these Trolls. We would leave in two days.
Before we left, however, Zirul and Bosco introduced a rather reserved fellow who went by the moniker “Jam”. Zirul had been actively recruiting for his spy network and felt that Jam would be a fine addition to his retinue. He and Bosco recommended that our Troll hunt would be a fine opportunity for Jam to prove his worth, and for Zirul to test his skill. Since both Zirul and Bosco vouched for Jam, I took it at their word and agreed that Jam come with us.
A Scarecrow’s Hut…
Our first day out, Jam and Zirul encountered a hut. It was evident that someone still inhabited the hut but was not presently home. Jam had picked the lock of the door, though. I asked, “Did either you attempt knocking first?” to which Jam and Zirul looked at each other, and then to me but procured no logical explanation to such an obvious approach when trying to determine if someone was home.
It was at this point that Bosco decided to examine a nearby pool of water (we were in a swamp after all), when all of a sudden the scarecrow who was serving as the hut’s silent guardian, sprang to life and attacked Bosco unawares. The idea of a living scarecrow seemed to haunt Bosco as he was clearly shaken throughout the entire encounter. The combined might of the five of us prevailed and soon enough the scarecrow lay scattered on the swamp.
Not wishing to disturb the hut any further, I wrote on the door using a piece of chalk, advising the owner of who we were who had stopped by, and where we could be found. I’m sure that whomever this hermit is, once he or she came home and saw the scarecrow’s remains littered about, would wonder who would do such a thing, and why their door was unlocked. Seeing no other reason to being in the area, I suggested we move on, much to the chagrin of Zirul and more interestingly, Jam. I hope that Jam doesn’t turn out to be a simple thief whose primary pleasure in life is to rob people when they are away.
The next day we came upon a tower which seemed to be isolated on an island in the middle of the lake adjoining our nation city. It seemed a peculiar thing, but we did not have the present capabilities with which to examine the tower up close and personal. Seeing as it was rather late in the day, we decided to make camp next to the lake with the tower in clear view from our campsite.
I took the first watch. As I was reflecting on the year’s events, I saw in the horizon a glowing ball of energy coming from the tower. As it floated closer to me, I detected a strong aura of evil present in this ball of energy. Furthermore, there was a rather sinister looking skull that could clearly be seen from the floating ball’s center mass as it approached closer still. I decided that this was some sort of evil spirit and immediately roused my companions to prepare for battle with a vengeful spirit.
As we prepared for battle, it seemed that my companions had all abandoned me. They had all simply vanished. And what’s worse, the ball of energy seemed to have vanished too. Still being able to detect an evil presence, I did not let my guard down. My hunch proved true as the ball of energy suddenly appeared in front of me right out of thin air, and shocked with with a very painful electrical charge. I took a swung at it, calling upon the name of Iomedae, but the electric pain must have had lingering effects as I nearly dropped my sword.
Receiving another electrical shock and still missing on a blow that would easily fell an Ogre, I decided that I was clearly outmatched. This was confirmed as Zirul yelled for me to run, which I did, Zirul covering my escape in a hail of arrows singing past me and somehow hitting the ghost. I had only been on the run for a minute when I suddenly saw Jam easily catch up to me (I do wear full plate armor) with the ghost quickly gaining ground on him. If he couldn’t outpace this ghost, there was no way I could. I decided to make a final stand so that my companions could at, the very least, escape. I stopped running and turned around.
The energy ball zapped me a couple more times, but I was able to heal myself enough to offset the pain, all the while finally being able to strike true and inflict some pain unto this ghost-energy ball thing. My companions also decided to make a final stand with me as it was clear none of us could outrun this thing. Finally gather ourselves and coordinating our attacks, we were able to dispatch of this evil spirit. This was something I would rather not fight any time soon.
A “Druid” and his Oak Tree…
After our encounter with the vengeful spirit, we then came upon a rather large oak tree that was currently inhabited by a druid and his large mountain lion companion. Like the energy ball from the night before, I sense a very prominent evil emanating from this outwardly friendly druid. What was most peculiar was that Ganon attempted to speak to this druid in a language unknown to us all, even the supposed druid. We then began communicating in the Elven tongue and this ‘druid’ did not appreciate this.
While we discussed, in Elven, our next best course of action, Bosco went into the druid’s oak tree home for some tea and biscuits, albeit unbeknownst to all of us. Moments later we heard Bosco shriek in pain and we immediately sprang to action. The druid’s feline companion stood guard, but we made quick work of it. I charged into the abode of the ‘druid’ and after a few bouts of smiting him, the ‘druid’ had had enough and decided to make his escape by tumbling past all of us, going through the front door, and leaping away – but not before Zirul placed a few well shot arrows into his back.
Going through his possessions, we were able to recover a very nice and magical set of leather armor for Ganon as well as a ring for our new companion, Jam. We also acquired a treasure map that would lead us to a magical crossbow of some sort.
Unable to figure out where to go next, we decided to head back to New Hope. Poog had originally told us all that the trolls that attacked him were directly south of our city, but Zirul had, for some reason, taken us on a steady western route. I found this to be most curious as to why Zirul would lead us west when our quarry was directly south, according to Poog. Granted, trolls are not known for staying in any one particular location, I still found it odd that we were heading west when we should have been looking to the south. Maybe Zirul has his own agenda to fulfill? It was at this point, I decided we should head back to our city and rest and regroup.
Upon returning, we were immediately greeted by Svetlana. Sveltlana informed us that there had been two murders – a young farm boy at one of our farms and a young farm girl from the city proper. Both had been attacked at night and had wounds that indicated a wild animal to be the culprit.
We decided to investigate the matter further by meeting with the parents of the young girl, who happened to live within the confines of our city. Upon meeting the father of the poor, unfortunate girl, Bosco thought it would be best to compensate the family with 1 gold to cover funeral expenses. I thought this to be rather low, but Zirul interjected and insisted on seeing the body of the girl. When we inspected the poor girl’s corpse, Zirul looked as if he were trying to determine the cause of death. He didn’t seem to be making any progress so I decided to take a look myself and was able to determine that this girl had suffered the wounds similar to a large wolf – or werewolf, based on the descriptions we had received and my own personal knowledge of lycanthropes. The girl was also missing one of her ears.
As we left, I handed the father a platinum and a couple extra gold coins to help cover funeral expenses. He was more than grateful. As we traveled our road towards the farm where the other victim was found, we found that the tracks were wolf-like going towards a copse of forest trees, and then human heading towards our city! It was at this point that I realized we had focused entirely too much on commerce and industry development and not nearly enough on security. To have a werewolf simply coming and going at its leisure within our nation was a clear indicator that our defense was far too soft. If a single werewolf can come and go as it please, what about an army of ogres, trolls, or even goblins and kobolds? Our citizenry are entirely too vulnerable to such attacks. We need to beef up security.
A New Ally…?
Heading back towards our town, we went to the town hall to inquire about someone who seemed out of place and visiting our town. As it turned out, the innkeeper at our town hall (we do need a proper inn so we don’t have to use our town hall to serve as one) revealed that there was a traveler who had been staying at our city recently. He was from one of the nearby barbarian tribes. He carried a large axe and was rather large in stature. We asked for the key to his room and upon inspection of the barbarian’s room, we found a severed ear with an earring under the bed. It was clear that this ear belonged to the girl who had been murdered recently.
We then sought out this person. It was Ganon and Bosco who found this barbarian first as he was in an alley drinking himself away. And it was only midday. When I showed up on scene (Warden Kesten and a group of 10 guards in tow), I demanded that the barbarians cease and desist his actions and that he immediately submit and come with me. When he refused initially, I told him of the ear we had found under his bed. He then broke down and spoke of nightmares that he had been having and that his drinking was his way of alleviating those nightmares.
It became clear that he was the culprit behind the murders but he showed remorse for his actions and was willing to atone for his heinous crimes. I could detect an air of evil around the barbarian. Kundal was his name. And he wasn’t completely evil – he was just prone to it due to his curse of lycanthropy.
We sought out our resident cleric, Jhod. Aurora could not help him, but advised us that Jhod may. And Jhod was more than able to lift the curse of lycanthropy from the poor Kundal. Kundal, his curse of being a werewolf completely removed, was now indebted to us. I told him that in order to attone for his crimes, he must help see to the burial of the girl and boy that he murdered during his werewolf state. He would also assist in Jhod in all other matters, but this was more so that Jhod could keep an eye on him.
Kundal readily agreed to all of this and offered me his great axe as thanks. I gave him my silver greatsword in return, that he may fend off any possible lycanthropes who might be a threat to him, or anyone, in the near future. Finally, I told him that I would send for him in a couple of months. Kundal has clear martial prowess and it would be better served elsewhere once he had atoned for his sins. He has to prove himself first, however.
Securing New Hope…
In the next few months, we re-adopted a posture of security. We put to construction buildings focused to promote our nation’s security from within. We built an Office of the City Guard so that Kesten and his guardsmen would have a place with which they could focus exclusively on the security of the city of New Hope without being distracted by exterior, military affairs when he and his men were housed in the barracks.
We also built a jail to house criminals. We don’t typically have a problem with criminals as of yet, but we need a place for Kesten and his men to house them. When we first dealt with Kundal, my first instinct was to lock him up so that we had a place to secure him while we figured out what to do with him. At the time we did not have a jail, and imprisoning him in a house seemed like a very ineffective way of securing someone prone to transforming into a werewolf – a creature likely to easily break out of house. A jail, by its very nature, is ten times more secure.
A smith was the last thing that we built. Our army is small, but it is growing. Furthermore, the guards that augment our army is are increasing in number, so I needed a structure that would enable me to produce weapons and armor en masse. And I would also need more smiths to help me outfit our soldiers and guards. A smith would enable me to do all of this.
Walls and such are going to be the next considerations. It may seem like we are taking a very paranoid posture, but it is necessary as we are, as I’ve said several times before, A BUFFER for Brevoy and also Kyonin. We need to be able to withstand an attack before we build structures focused on commerce and industry. And with groups of trolls still at large in the south, large tribes of lizardmen to the west, and several untold hazards and dangers all around New Hope, security must be of primary import.
I am more than willing to take on this role of making the executive position for such a posture. My years of training to be a Knight of Iomedae, as well as a soldier in her majesty’s army for so many years, has taught me the importance of military might.
A nation cannot have economic and industrial power without military power to protect those interests.