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Post by Winterhawk99 »


What are words to you if you walk the forest? Animals don’t talk like we do, but still they are basicly the same – survivors or prey. They know not of honor and duty, nor faith or ideologies. But they do know hunger, lust, pain and fear. And they do know life, as they know death.

How can I explain the difference between the hunter and the hunted, between existence and death. At the end of the day it boils down to the element of initiative, the set up and the kill. The difference that decides who lives to see another day.

I know honor, as a survivor and as a hunter. I honor the skills that make me survive.
And I know faith, for I can trust the darkness to hide me in the deep shadows, offering initiative, and the setup for a quick kill.

Everybody can walk down a common road. Your goal is in your mind. Often the road is so obvious that you don’t even notice it.
Where the road dwindles, most people will know how to follow the narrow path further on. It is still quite obvious to the eye, but you notice the change and your awareness heightens.
The subtleties of tracking are beyond most people. Your awareness is not only focused on spotting the trail itself. At some point the obvious and subtle merge into an understanding of what has happened, and what will come.

I had an understanding with the Moon watchers. Their druidic Circle watched over the forest from its inner dark depths to the borders of civilization. They let me share part of their ground. In return they would ask me to act as eye from time to time.
I proved myself to them, and with time they let me share more.

The Spider Queen was a force to be reckoned with. I suspect that she had some kind of link to the Underdark, because on some occasions I saw gigantic spider tracks that had a different, almost humanoid smell. That made me think of the stories I had heard about driders.
The Queens ambition led to a conflict with the druids. The Moon watchers sent me to gather information. From personal experience I learned the power of poisons, and I watched others succumb to the force of a tight web.

In the ongoing conflict with the Spider Queen, the Circle faced a major threat. Bjorn, one of the most trusted druids had become a servant of the Queen. He most probably had acted as double agent for some time before the Circle found out. They asked me to neutralize the threat and secure the leak.
Bjorn is a big man with long blond hair. He had a reputation as a great shadow warrior of the Moon watchers Circle. He is most fearsome when he takes the shape of a huge bear. His massive shape dwarfs the largest grizzly and his fur is strikingly fair colored. His paws ram like sledgehammers and cut deep with razor sharp claws. His jaws can crush the trunk of a young tree. He was a great warrior. But the Spider Queen had swayed his mind, and now he was the enemy.
He is easy to spot, huge and fair in both his forms. But nevertheless he was hard to track down. One night I spotted Bjorn by accident, near the heart of the forest, while he was busy eating a boar he had killed. I hid behind a log and watched him eat the pig, blood covering the fur on his head and paws and dripping down from his mouth.

I followed him for a couple of days and managed to stay unseen. I kept distance, but the track was fresh and easy to follow. I could not leave to alarm the Circle, so I had to wait for an opportunity to pacify the huge bear on my own.
The third night I lost the track. We had come to an unfamiliar part of the forest. I searched thoroughly, but could not find the trail. I thought of every possible reason, even if he could have flown away. But there was no sign, subtle or obvious that pointed in any direction.
I decided to go back to where the trail ended. But no matter how hard I tried I could not find the way back.
It was only the next day that I realized that I no longer was in the forest of the Moon watchers.

In fact it was a completely different forest. Only later I realized that I in some devious way had been teleported to the realm of Sierra Na.
Here are many others that can tell similar stories, as if they were harvested from all walks of life for some obscure reason.

I have tried to become one with the land in this new place and have travelled the wilderness, and from time to time I visit a local outpost run by some dwarves. There is also a witch that offers her magical concoctions. But most interestingly there is a lady that has offered me rewards for hunting down several local clan leaders. I don’t care what her motives are. She pays well, and it is my line of work.

I’ve been around quite a bit and discovered a city run by lesser dragons. I get this uneasy feeling among them, and I don’t understand how anybody can live in a city. Still I find myself coming back over and over. The trade is good and the coins make it easier to fill my belly. I have also got my hands on some equipment that makes life in the forest easier.
I have met some promising contacts, people that understand what I have to offer as tracker and hunter. People that value secrecy and silence. I don’t know if I will bother to mention all those brain dead people whose company I have to suffer when I now and again visit the outpost and the dwarves place

I went on an expedition to the south with some companions. We stumbled across an exiled faction of dragonkin led by a fellow that titled himself baron. As far as I can judge it is a rogue encampment. But he had many others there, dragonkin that I know have important positions in the city of Morzelmore. He wanted to recruit us for different tasks and offered us some enchanted arrows to show his good will. We agreed to keep in touch. I need to know more about his friends and enemies, before I become too deeply involved in his business.

South of the pine forest lies a castle, or should I say a keep. It has its name after the paladin deity Haakon. I’m afraid my curiosity was stronger than my caution, when I went there with a band of adventurers whose minds were set on freeing the keep of monstrous creatures. The killing part went fine, except from an incident where a cold monster damaged my leathers. What puzzled me was the preoccupation the others showed, trying to explore an old paladin initiation ritual in a chamber filled with hovering swords. But at the end of the day, we had killed some, looted some and pocketed a fine reward, so I don’t complain.

I walked the northern forest, not far from where undead walk. I stumbled across 3 dead dragonkin. At first sight they looked like Morzelmore guards, but on closer inspection it was clear that they were well equipped scouts or agents. The papers I found on them confirmed that and linked them to the Cunning Claw. They were planning to get hold of a certain orb, a weapon they planned to use against their enemies.
There was mention of some invaders that camped near Randoms temple. The claw evidently wanted to kill them all. They also wanted to expel all offworlders from Morzelmore and obviously saw Sanser, Lord Valarios and certain merchant factions as a threat since they made friends among the offworlders.

While examining the bodies and their belongings, I was approached by a strange person, who claimed that I had killed the dragonkin. His name was Thistos, a magician. Suddenly we were attacked by more claw agents. I managed to neutralize the claw despite them having the initiative and the element of surprise. Thistos was badly wounded, but his wounds stabilized so he didn’t bleed to death. Even then he kept accusing me of killing the agents, but not with the same intensity as before.

As we stood there over the dead claw agents a dwarf approached us. He told us he was from a group of humans and dwarves that had returned to this land that they left 500 years ago to form a colony in the west. They had fought their way through Rock Point. 200 survivors had now set up camp along the road. The dwarf was one of the scouts they had sent out to find any signs of civilization. We agreed to follow him to see their leaders.

They needed to find a place to live, a place that could support 200 people. I told them that they would have problems approaching Morzelmore with the Claw wanting to slaughter them, and told them about the orb the claw was seeking. I offered them to try to find the orb before the claw did, and they were willing to pay for that service.
I knew I couldn’t trust Thistos. He was going to tell them of places to go, ruining my business with finding the orb, so I had to give him the look to stop him.

The search for the orb had not been successful. Then one day a dragonkin, dressed as a Morzelmore guard came running by the rangers outpost from the lake, he shouted “offworlders” and ran towards the part of the woods where gnoll bandits keep attacking innocent travellers.
Leigh, Arryk, Merago and I followed in his steps and found his body drenched in blood, with gnolls arguing among themselves over the loot. The gnolls attacked us when we approached. After a quick bloodshed we examined the dragonkin. He seemed to be another Claw agent. He had some interesting papers on him, a map of the north and some text mentioning an Orb of Ultimate Destruction, and a wall with runes.
We decided to follow the map to the north. This was the best lead so far, and it wouldn’t hurt to bring backup if we were attacked along the road. Somewhere near the fey canyon Arrik left us, but the rest of us managed to fight our way past giants, fey and ice spiders and finally reached the tribelands. We rested up in their outpost before going east.
We entered a small cave and suddenly we were attacked by a group of Claws. They were a lot tougher than the ones I had encountered before, but after a long fight we managed to kill them all. The cave was full of different books, but we found no mention of orbs when skimming the titles.

We entered a valley with three mage towers. We only found one mage, a lich, and he was willing to deal with us.
He was willing to give us the Orb of Ultimate Destruction for a price. He wanted Merago and me to show up later to do him a favour. That was a reasonable price, so we agreed on that. I carried the orb.
Thistos showed up while we were dealing with the lich. I really wonder what he is up to, not to mention how he found us.

I went to the colonist camp together with Merago to collect our reward. I had the Orb of Ultimate destruction in my possession. We had saved the colonists from being wiped out by the claw, and now they owed us their lives or an equivalent amount in gold or rare and valuable artefacts.
When we got there the leaders told us they wanted to go to Haakons keep. They seemed to have forgotten about the orb all together. When the question of the orb finally was brought up, they didn’t believe I had it, and then they didn’t believe it was for real and had the power it said. They wanted to check for themselves. I didn’t want to hand over such a valuable artefact to strangers like them, but agreed to let their mage inspect it in a neutral place, under security precautions.
After that was done, they wanted to purchase the orb. They were not willing to pay anything unless they also got the orb. That made me angry and I threatened to sell the orb to the Claw if they wouldn’t see reason, but that I wouldn’t do that if I got my well deserved reward. They accused me of blackmail and refused any further contact.

I had to think everything over again. The colonists saw us as blackmailers and would not pay. Did I really want to go to the claw with the orb? Probably I would be dead the moment I parted with it, so that was not a good idea. And did I want to destroy the colonists as revenge, spending all the power of the orb with no gain? No!

If we couldn’t make this work on our own, we would need allies. But who? And how could I best benefit from the intimidating power I now possessed in that Orb?
Merago wanted to go to Sanser. Sanser was one of the enemies of the Claw. But I knew Sanser had friends, influential friends…
I decided we had to go and see the Baron.

We went to see Baron BB to gather information and to find a possible ally. We understood each other and formed a plan:
Follow the colonists to the keep
Spread rumours among the Claw that the colonists were close to acquiring the orb, force the Claw to action and pull them out in the open, possibly attacking the keep
Attack and crush the Claw in their exposed position, if necessary by using the Orb of Ultimate Destruction
Taking over their activity in Morzelmore
We also planned to recruit rogues and other talented people to our cause and to join our new guild.

Knowing that the colonists didn’t trust me anymore, I stayed hidden while Merago and Thistos offered to guide them to Haakons keep. Only I knew the way to Haakons keep, so we had to find a way that I could stay hidden and Merago could still follow me. We had found an orb searching artefact on one of the elite Claws we had killed. I still had the orb and let Merago use the device to track me all the way to the keep.

We have defeated the Claw. It didn’t go exactly as we had planned, but the end result is what we wanted. I have accepted the Baron as our guild leader, for now. He is well connected within the city and connections are what we need now to apply our power with subtlety. We have shared the city between us. I have run of the government district. I will need to recruit some trustworthy messengers and collectors to take care of the security of the people. The Baron wanted me to use the Dark wanderer, but I’m afraid he is more brawn than brains.

Most of all I will need to gather intelligence and get the right connections in the right places.
And I have not been forced to play my best card yet!

I met these two clerics, a teacher and her pupil. The teacher had this extremely patronizing attitude, addressing me as "son" and "child" all the time. I told her to stop, but she explained that it was right of her to do so, giving me a lecture on metaphysics, the essence of magic and why Mystra was the goddess above all else. Even threatening her didn't help. She even claimed that the powers I recieve is the work of Mystra.

In the end I simply left. She is obviously completely in the dark about the secrets of the Mistress. It's probably better that way.

The spirit led me to an abandoned cave, well not quite abandoned. As I entered I was immediatly attacked by several grand spiders, some of which I know from the deep forest of the Circle. I managed to deflect the attacks and pacified them with some well placed stabs from my blades.
I soon cleared the place out, killing what was left of the spiders. I kept their glands for later use.

The place was indeed an abandoned residence. Perhaps the spiders were the offspring from the pets of the former owner. I think I will keep a pet spider here too. There is plenty of room here and a spider or two will keep the place free from rodents and bugs. Perhaps this will count as living in Morzelmore, the place must be right underneath the city. I should be ok with the Baron now.

Story Written by Mick Dagger
CTP team member
Chief cook and bottle washer for Harvest Moon

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