The Iron Ring

When the scales fall from eyes. (unfinished)

A betrayal so deep, so profound, that it would make the Gods weep. My time as a mercenary lead me to the arms and beds of many a fine woman of the night. The Shimmering Grotto of Antioch was no different. Many fine women, of many shapes, races, and sizes, offered their caring services to hard working men like myself. But it was all a lie, a lie that haunts me to this day…

Mayor Devon was always a bit strange. He often went on rants about this weird little purple haired man named Gerald who we had to be careful for, as if we hadnt faced greater dangers like a minotaur or a cyclops. Well our next mission would elucidate much about Gerald, and of our mad Mayor Devon. The town was having trouble with bandits attacking merchant caravans, so much so that we were employed by the Iron Ring themselves to figure out who these bandits were and to put an end to their raids. 

We decided to escort a caravan departing the city of Antioch to see if we could goad the raiders into attacking us, a more prepared and alert party than your typical merchant guards. It worked, much to our chagrin. The attackers moved like shadows. They were quick and vicious. The battle was fierce, our fiercest yet. As the attackers were struck down, they left behind nothing but masks. These were no mere bandits, but some sort of demonic or magical influence at work. The caravan was protected successfully, and we set off to find the source of these attackers. After asking the Caravaneers 

 

 

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Cyclops Slayers

Ill be honest, I know Ive said before that the details of this journal may be a bit mixed up due to my dutiful worship of Cayden, but the following is mostly a retelling from what Fizz and Kestren told me. Namtar was still upset about the whole horn thing. How does he expect to "transcend" when he holds grudges over little things like that? Anyway, I hope I got most of this right…

We killed a cyclops, by shooting a ballista into its eye. We took the ballista home with us.

I think that about sums that up.

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Blossoms and Drinking Horns

The Gods are capricious. They make demands, and usually offer little in the form of rewards. Except for Cayden, of course! A man turned God who shows us true warriors the way. But the other Gods are oft unreliable, and they always seem to ask for incredible sacrifices or bravery in return for secretive rewards. Shelyn, the goddess of art, beauty, and music required our assistance. As a man who appreciates beauty and music, especially when mixed with a hearty ale and the beauty is a voluptuous woman, I knew what we had to do next…

The town board still had plenty of work to be done. Among those, the town mystic needed help acquiring Ambrosia to offer to the Goddess Shelyn, in exchange for our work we were promised weapon enchantments. I may have been in a bit of a drunken stupor when we approached the kind woman, but the image of a flaming longsword was irresistible and so we set off to pick some flowers. I think thats what Ambrosia is, anyway.

Oh, and the woman said something about the town being cursed by someone or something named Baphomet. Who comes up with these names anyway? Cayden is a simple man, with simple desires. Would that all the Gods be such, life would be so much easier. I wonder what the town did to be cursed by a Baphomet. Is a Baphomet a thing? A God? A demon? Whatever the case, we were to find out shortly.

We approached the town carefully, as we were unsure what to expect. I believe the mystic warned us the town was cursed some 300 years ago, and had been abandoned ever since. Much to our surprise, however, the town seemed to be not entirely abandoned. Someone, or something, had constructed a giant hedge maze. And everyone knows what you find in hedge mazes! Fair maidens, usually. At least in the one hedgemaze I went to, but to be fair that was when I was tasked with escorting a noble to some garden party, so not entirely the same situation.

I digress. Kestran, the simple farmboy that he is, had the bright idea of sketching out the hedgemaze from our superior vantage point. This made finding our way through the maze  relatively easy. As we reached the center, the sense of dread we experienced upon first viewing the town grew deeper and more profound. We were not alone in this maze, and we found that out pretty quickly. 

A minotaur came from somewhere, it was hard to see in that maze. It was a mighty beast, with an equally mighty weapon. The battle was intense, but we triumphed. As was customary from my mercenary days, I felt it appropriate to claim a trophy of my kill. Namtar did not like this very much, but I was set on turning this mighty beasts horn into a fine drinking horn to better honor Cayden. For a holy man, Namtar seems rather ignorant of Cayden and his worshippers, preferring to go on about his masters perfect transcendence and blah blah blah.

We returned to town once again triumphant, though I dont think Namtar ever let go of the horn thing. Says the minotaur was once a human who was just cursed, but it sure just looked like a giant, angry bull to me. As I suspected, the horn seemed to carry some magical properties, and the mystic helped me turn it into a Tankard of the Drunken Hero, the perfect way to worship and bless the mighty Cayden Cailean! I suspect the others got some enchantments appropriate to them, but I promptly put my new drinking horn to use and so I couldnt tell you what they were, as I dont really remember. Cheers!

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Dam Barbarians!

The order might be a bit confused, as I spent a majority of my time in Antioch worshipping Cayden as any good Cailenite should. Needless to say, our next outing got pretty wet…

We returned to town victorious, with Tane rewarding my hard work with some of his Dragons Breath ale. Thats mostly why I dont remember exactly how we got here. Namtar had to go read some books, or some such thing. Im not sure Fizz is even real most of the time, so I cant account for his whereabouts. I think the farmboy was training his pup. Mayor Devon made us aware of an issue with the local water supply, and since water is a crucial ingredient for ale, and ale being necessary for the worship of Cayden, I made haste to inform the group of our next mission. We were to restore the towns water supply, and to do that we had to first uncover what went wrong.

It doesnt take a tracker to know that every river has a source. We followed the river in the hopes of discovering what went wrong. It didnt take long to discover the river had been dammed. Why, or by whom, we wouldnt discover until we began our efforts at dismantling the dam. As we began considering our options, the sound of footsteps and screaming grew louder. 

Barbarians. Stinking, raving, barbarians attacked us, and presumably set up the dam. We tried to reason with them, for about a minute, but theres no reasoning with barbarians. The battle was joined. They were dispatched with general ease, and looting their bodies led to the discovery of a scroll of delayed fireball. Why barbarians would have a scroll of anything was a bit strange, as Im fairly sure they couldn't read. Hell, I only learned myself because of a misinterpreted order during the War of Unification that ended embarrassingly me for my squad.

Regardless, Namtar used the scroll to blow the dam wide open, sending fresh water streaming back towards the town once again. Mostly fresh water, I cant remember if we moved those barbarian corpses out of the path of the river or not….

Oh well. 

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Wolves, ale, and fence posts.

My trip to Antioch was rather uneventful. If theres one thing the Ring Army has been relatively good at, its making life boring. I hope Im not wasting my time coming here, but its not like there are many other options open to men like me…

The Sower's Bounty was the inn I had been told of, where all sorts of jobs were posted for those looking to be noticed by the lieutenants and generals of the ring. From what I remember, it was run by a man named Tane Mot and his wife Zamra, or Samara, or something. That dragons breath drink he had makes things a bit fuzzy. This is where I met my fellow adventurers, though I hesitate to really call them that. Ones an elven farmboy, Kestren (what kind of name is that? Elves…) the other a monk or cleric or some kind of holy man, Namtar (again, these strange names…) and the other is…interesting. He's a gnome named Fizzbang…Fizzpop…I forget, we just call him Fizz. Beyond that, I couldnt tell you what he is or does. Sometimes he yells at me and then I suddenly start hitting people harder. I like to think its because he just infuriates me,  but he claims it to be some kind of magic. But then some days hes the greatest thief ever. I try not to think about it too much.

Anyway, Tane needed help with some wolves who were eating his sheep. My new companions and I took the opportunity to help the old man, because of his amazing ale (though Namtar would say its because its the right thing to do) and we set ourselves to the task. Luckily, the farmboy is a halfway decent tracker, and was able to lead us to the wolves den. On the way there, a pig ate some of my stuff, because, well, bad luck or some such thing. Who wouldnt have heard a pig coming? Its not like pigs are silent. Anyway, right, we found the den.

As we approached the den, we heard a song playing in the air. It was quite entrancing, and Im not a man for song and dance unless theres a sufficient amount of alcohol involved. We approached the den, entered to find some pups. We were approached by what I would guess was a female druid. She informed us that the reason her pack had been hunting Tanes sheep was because poachers had driven them away from their ancestral forest hunting grounds. We came to a deal that she and her pack would leave Tanes sheep if we dealt with the poachers for them. She identified them on our map and we set off.

We came across the poacher camp a day or twos march away. I can understand men hunt and skin to support themselves and their families, but these men were especially cruel. Thanks to some of Fizz's trickery, we were able to draw enough of the men out and deal with them that a frontal attack was entirely possible. We captured their leader, killed the rest, freed the game they had trapped, including a wolf pup that would later become Kestrans companion, and made off with their ill gotten gains. We brought their leader back to the druid woman, and offered him to her for their own vengeance. We received some personal emblems that would let other packs know we are welcomed kin, and some that would serve as protection for Tanes sheep.

We returned with the good news, and I helped the old man install his fence out of the goodness of my heart. This was our first successful adventure, one of many to come!

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Time has lost all meaning...
Thanks to the ale, of course!

Its been ages since I've opened this thing up…what feels like ages anyway. I remember the last time being towards the end of the unification wars…I thought it important to document our resistance against the armies of the Iron Ring, led by King Rysen. Well, our depends on who was paying me at the time. I swore I was done with the mercenary life, but now here I am with these fools – pleasant enough fools, working and killing for coin once again. The song of clashing steel is just irresistible, and the blessed ale of Cayden Cailean keeps the darkest memories at bay. Now, instead of documenting the resistance, I suppose I ought to document the rise of the Recently Licensed Adventurers, in case we do something actually important enough people might want to read about it. I doubt it. Though that gnome might do something stupid enough that people will want to read about it, so theres that.

So heres how I remember it beginning…

Life in the forests of Teutoberg had grown dull. Nothing really compared to the clash of steel, the smell and taste of blood and dirt in the air. I was never very good at this whole domestic life thing. Decades spent as a mercenary meant I never bothered taking up a wife, as there were plenty of women who loved my war stories in each town or fortress we visited. Or perhaps it was the coin, either way, no good woman who would ever settle for a mercenary, and truth be told I didn't care for the family life either. Its been a few years since the Iron Ring and King Agnar Rysen has established itself as the dominant force of the land. No one, nothing, is free from their grasp or oversight.

I have no love for the man or the empire, but since their victories, well, mercenary work wasnt exactly in high demand, unless you wanted to be a personal bodyguard to one noble or another, neither of which I had an interest in. Stupid blue bloods are intolerable, and truth be told, they don't seem to need much protection these days anyway. I was always good at taking orders, but from men I respected, men who knew what it was like to fight, not some fat noble or baroness who was born with everything and wanted for nothing. Word was that men like me, former soldiers, could find work on jobs boards, and that this one small town in particular was good for men looking to enter the Ring and make a name for themselves, hopefully get noticed by some higher ups. Everyone knew the military life was the best way to gain status in this new world, and so I left my forest cabin in Teutoberg and headed for this small city of Antioch…

 

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