84 Flags On the Beach

It Begins, Market Day, and Taking Leave
44th-46th of Spring

In a grand meeting room in the dungeons beneath Duke Jargrin Markavia’s palace in Nahrain, the 5 leaders on whose sound judgement the lives of hundreds including the very duke himself would depend were brought together for the first time:

  • Sir Travith the Garrulous, recently knighted and a rising star at court and in the army. His reputation as an officer and the duke’s faith in him made him an obvious pick for a leader.
  • The lady Malika Hangale, a soldier but more importantly a member of the extremely rich and influential Hangale merchant family. Obviously so influential and important a group deserved a representative on the expedition.
  • Katro Vanivis, a simpler commoner from the wild frontiers of the duchy. He was the only soldier in the area known to be a highly skilled woodsman and available on short notice, the Duke believed his practical experience with living in the wilderness would be invaluable.
  • Fenris Niehran, the son of an extremely powerful, wealthy, and influential nobleman who rules the distant town of High Mill. He was included to placate this important vassal of the Duke.
  • And Count Levelar Vlalrey, an old man recently ennobled on account of his great wealth and perhaps a political service to the duchy. Why he in particular was chosen as one of the 5 leaders remains to be seen.

After introducing themselves and signing the lengthy contract that establishes what their legal standing will be as they go out and settle a distant land for the duke, they were brought the expeditionary funds: 65,000 gold with which to purchase what they pleased. After lengthy- and sometimes less than collegial discussion they decided on what to buy at last.

The remainder of the evening was spent purchasing those supplies.

The next day likewise from dawn to dusk was spent frantically running out purchasing and ordering vast quantities of goods of all descriptions. By evening it was clear that the expedition would have everything it needed and be ready to leave the next morning.

By the 46th, news has reached the expedition that the weather in the north is unseasonably warm and the snow in the mountains is melting faster than expected. That means the enemy armies encamped on the other side will break through all the sooner and the expedition must make haste.

Fortunately, they are ready to go and leave that morning with little fanfare and not even a sendoff from the duke.

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The Voyage, the Voyagers, and First Blood
47th-61st of Spring

The seas of Ethlan are impossible to sail. Fortunately the Winter Wind does not sail, it flies by means of strange and foreign magic. Exactly how the duke came by such a thing is probably best not asked; even the captain, a man by the name of Nailoar who was given the position for his magical skill has no idea about its provenance, how it works, or -most worrisomely – where it’s going.

It was a harrowing journey. One man, a farmer named Lorin, even died, falling over the edge of the ship after having a bit too much grog to drink on the 55th. Besides of course the knowledge that there was no guarantee any of them would survive, the voyagers suffer from cramped living space, scant rations of bad food, cabin fever, spoiled water supplies, the terrible stench from so many people and animals living in such close proximity, and tremendous heat that grew day by day

Being Wreshtans, the voyagers are an extremely suspicious and guarded lot. No doubt there are many spies or worse among them and so they keep their heads down and try not to draw attention. A few people stand out though. The first is a man who calls himself ‘Ashkantir.’ No one has seen so much as an inch of him because he always wears a black, hooded robe that reaches down to his boots. Beneath the hood he wears a hideous mask of a snarling, red demon apparently at all times. By the sound of him, he may have chainmail on underneath and he’s clearly a warrior from the rare longbow on his back and curved sword at his side. Second is a friendlier soul by the name of Metaxas. Although he keeps to himself, he’s talkative and open enough on the rare occasions anyone speaks to him. These are particularly rare because he is obviously both a foreigner from his deep brown skin and red hair- neither of which are found in Wresht- and a mage of some sort from his iron-bound spellbook.

The ship flies roughly east-southeast for just under 14 days, out of any sight of land for most of that time. It is very swift and can fly by day or night as long as there is no land to avoid (apparently flying over land would destroy it), so by rough estimate it may have traveled upwards of 5000 miles from Markavia before land is again spotted at sunset on the 59th. The are far, far beyond known lands and presumably well to the south of the only known continent.

At Captain Nailar’s direction, the Winter Wind navigated around what proved to be a sizable archipelago for most of two days and on the 61st he called the expeditionary leaders together to decide where to settle. After much deliberation and even some squabbling as well as giving a name (Grahlt) to the archipelago and others to the major islands, they ultimately decided to settle on a large bay on the northeastern side of newly named Nucleith.

The landing is chaotic and disorganized and supplies and people are scattered about on the beach in the dark. It finishes a few hours before dawn and the Winter Wind departs unceremoniously, the colonists now have no way to communicate with the outside world or receive help of any kind for the next month or so.

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The End of the Beginning
62nd-63rd of Spring

Everyone wakes late on the 62nd to find it an extremely hot and humid day, no one is accustomed to what seems to be the normal weather in Grahlt. Eventually Sir Travith is able to get the weaponry back together and organized while Malika Hangale had most of the spoiled water thrown out and replaced with fresh water from the nearby and newly named Lorin River. Katro was unable to verify for sure whether the water is safe, but there’s little alternative for the presence. Those who don’t trust it drink some of the dwindling grog supplies.

In the afternoon, Sir Travith organizes an expeditionary source to try to find the highlands they saw from the boat and were considering as a better site for the colony than the current beachside area. He, Malika, Fenris, and two soldiers named Mem and Ahlan set out along the river in hopes it will led them to higher ground.

Count Levelar Vlalrey was left in charge back at the base camp.

The trek is grueling, the underbrush is so thick that Katro has to try to cut through it with their swords. Mosquitos and heat and the frustrating pace take a toll on everyone. There is talk of turning back and trying the journey in stages, particularly when it’s realized that they don’t have enough supplies.

An uneasy but uneventful night passes. The next day there is again talk of returning to camp, but Fenris Niehan overruled it and forced everyone onward for a few more hours despite on and off rainstorms. Before there could be any sort of mutiny, he was vindicated as the party finally broke free of the jungle and began climbing the steep but less densely forested hills. By noon they had crested the highest ridge and were taking stock of their surroundings. At that moment, Mem shouted that he had found something. Following the sound, the rest of the expedition discovered a small set of ruins in a secluded glen. This land is inhabited!

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Trouble in Paradise
63rd-64th of Spring

The expeditionary party had found the ruins of Chanmony with somewhat unfortunate timing. There weren’t enough hours of daylight left to return, but there were still enough left that just sitting around would be a waste. That however was more or less what they did. They investigated the well and found it at least superficially trustworthy, though no one drank of it. Others in the group noticed that the surviving stele held a precisely located mirror that seemed designed to reflect the light of the noonday sun onto the cistern pool. There was speculation about whether it might be part of a timekeeping device or some sort of religious artifact. Eventually Katro went to hunt in the woods (he survived an attack by a large jungle cat and brought it back to eat and glimpsed a little creature he dubbed a Green Deer). While he was gone a vast flock of cawing crows overflew the camp and spooked the other explorers, Malika and Sir Travith the Garrulous then again climbed the nearby ridge and surveyed the surrounding lands.
In their makeshift camp the reunited explorers managed to cook the cat despite poorly timed rains. However, its meat was grey and proved to taste absolutely terrible. They thus named the creature an Ashcat.
After another poor night’s sleep they then set out back to Nemarka, it was a grueling journey for they were already worn down and the heat was even more oppressive than before. What’s more, the stalwart Ahlan was struck down by some sort of foul creature (A black and slithering thing big as a snake but that apparently drank his blood like a leech) although they didn’t get a good look at the escaping animal they dubbed it a Snakeleech. Carrying Ahlan and a heatstruck (and sorrowful) Mem and Malika, they eventually staggered back into camp. Fenris Niehran had slipped off to go before them and apparently prepare the way, for when they arrived they found a welcome welcome waiting.
The doctor, one Alenin, did his best to care for Ahlan and Mem but the former soon perished. While surveying the now much more orderly campsite and talking to the inhabitants, the party learned that Ashkantir and Count Levelar Vlalrey were to duel at sundown. Apprehensive, they joined many of the others in watching. It proved to be quite a spectacle: although the count seemed at first to be winning, Ashkantir bested him only to surrender instead.

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A Breathing Space
65th of Spring

The next morning the expeditionary leaders organized everyone to begin work clearing out and cutting down the bushes and trees on a planned 10 mile path up to the highlands they scouted. The work was exhausting and slow in the hot sun; at the end of the day only about half a mile had been traveled and it was not a very wide path.

Ahlan, having died the previous night, was quietly buried. Mem would be distraught, but he was apparently unconscious and still recuperating from his adventure the days before.

Other notable incidents included a raid by several dozen small, nimble, thieving mammals about the size of cats but with even longer tails and the ability to jump and climb very quickly indeed. The creatures, which made off with some food, were tentatively dubbed ‘Little Lorins.’

Ashkantir asked Count Levelar Vlalrey to take him on as a pupil and the aged count agreed.

After work ended, the expeditionary leaders- with the exception of Fenris Niehran gathered all the settlers together and addressed them about possibly changing the work schedule to avoid the hottest parts of the day. The reception to this was lukewarm at best and discussion shifted to why the great road was even being built in the first place. As tensions mounted and people argued over whether food, defenses, or building a proper residence for Duke Markavia when he arrived should be the priority, a man named Mayglin shouted ‘Damn the [duke’s] house and damn the Duke!’ For his crime against the state Count Levelar Vlalrey pointed out he could be put in the stocks for a day or executed if this was his second offense, but ultimately waived the punishment entirely in light of there not being any stocks around to use. In the end though, it was decided that building the road wasn’t worth the effort and thus the settlers would stay at Nemarka and start building it up properly the next day.

Malika, Sir Travith, and Katro all found their tents had been gone through, though nothing had been taken. Sir Travith in fact nearly caught whoever or whatever had been in his.

That night, Count Levelar Vlalrey held a secret meeting with Malika Hangale, Sir Travith, and Katro Vanivis. He discussed with them that the Duke probably had dangerous enemies in the camp who they should be on guard against, and then also suggested that another and longer expedition into the jungle be taken to find whoever made the ancient ruins and whether they are friend or foe.

Having annoyed one another with barbs about armor and fighting skill all day, Malika Hangale and Sir Travith the Garrulous fought each other in an ill-tempered duel shortly thereafter. Both were very badly injured.

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Welcome to the Jungle
66th-70th of Spring

While the colonists set about making their now official settlement site into a home, Lady Malika Hangale and Sir Travith the Garrulous were confined to their beds for two whole days as they slowly recovered from the wounds they’d dealt one another.

On the morning of the 68th they were well enough to go forward with the expedition they had planned in the meantime: a 9 day round trip into the jungle and the unknown out beyond the hills they’d found to see out Grahltian civilization or find what it had left behind.
Specifically they were to stop once again at the small ruin of Chanmony and then from there go onward to another site Sir Travith thought he’d seen from the hilltop. They’d either find that city inhabited or take some time to explore the ruins and then return. The group traveled fairly light and there was much shuffling of gear to optimize their packs.

For several days the rains had ceased and the weather had become if anything even sunnier and hotter. This hampered the journey up the River Lorin, as did mysterious attacks from several animals such as the ferocious Ashcat. Still the explorers pushed on. They reached Chanmony, spent the night there, and the next morning got their bearings and set out toward what looked like it might very well be an inhabited city.

Meanwhile Ashkantir set out with the four remaining soldiers who were well enough to go (Mem is still grief-stricken) to clear the nearby woods of Ashcats and other perils.

The next day proved an unpleasant one. The heat wave continued, they no longer had a river to follow and thus were low on water, and they had to fight off horrible giant spiders. They went to bed on the night of the 69th parched and tired but early the next morning were fortunate enough to stumble across the stream they had been looking for. Joyously, they named it the River Katar.

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The Long March
70th of Spring (Continued)

The expedition followed the newly dubbed River Katar downstream in hopes it would lead them to the lake they had seen the long-sought city by. This proved to take only a few hours in which they were attacked by two large, reptilian river beasts before they reached the shores of the murky lake. It turned out the city was nearly on the other side though and the terrain between was some of the swampiest and hardest they’d yet faced.

Eventually the group stumbled upon what proved to be outlying ruins of the abandoned city. Having found its outer moat they stopped to consider how to get across.

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A Deathly Rubicon
70th of Spring (Continued)

Although they were suspicious of the strangely lifeless moat, Malika urged that the expedition not look for another way across in the interest of saving time. With Count Levelar Vlalrey preparing a rope for them to climb, they swam the clear waters.
This proved a nearly fatal mistake. The moat was cursed or otherwise supernaturally dangerous and drained the heat and life out of anyone in it rapidly- explaining why nothing was growing in it. Katro Vanivis nearly died before he was able to climb out and the water’s taint also weakened the healing wand the party had brought along severely.
With sundown upon them, the expedition decided to make camp without looking around further.
During the middle of the night they were attacked by a strange monster, seemingly an animated skeleton filled with serpents. All save Malika who spent most of the fight putting on her armor were nearly killed.

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First Contact
71st of Spring

After completing their watches late that morning, the expedition became aware they were being watched. The newcomer was a man such as they’d never seen before, small and grey and dressed in bizarre clothes. After some tense greetings and it becoming clear that he couldn’t speak their language, Malika and Katro and Sir Travith went elsewhere to try to find another way into/out of the city while Count Levelar Vlalrey apparently tried to find a way to communicate with the odd man.
As they returned from finding the ruins where there had once been a bridge, they heard shouting and found that the newcomer had crossed into the city but been injured by the moat. As the Wreshtans debated amongst themselves what to do with him, a gigantic monster of bone suddenly loomed into view!

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Expeditious Retreat
71st of Spring (Continued) - 74th of Spring

Eluding the giant bone monstrousity, the explorers made their way out of the city with a few mishaps and then made their way back to camp.

It took three days and was as exhausting as the first half of the trip, but just as strangely as they had begun the animal attacks stopped. They were replaced by a just as dangerous enemy: illness. Count Levelar and Katr Vanivis came down with fevers and other symptoms and even Malika and Sir Travith didn’t feel entirely well. Katro had the worst of it though, whatever he’d caught gradually destroyed his vision. By the time they bedraggled group reached base camp, they had to lead him instead.

With all the other leaders gone, Fenris Niehran had had to assume control of everything and was apparently none too glad of all the added work. He’d continued to have the nearby trees cleared and had nearly finished making a stockade around Nemarka. Ashkantir had gone out with all the soldiers some days back to clear the woods of animals, but returned alone on the 72nd saying they had all been killed.

Late at night on the 74th the expedition leaders returned with Ovroc the strange native to Nemarka.

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