DM: Neal
Players: Kage, Qarlynd, Mal, MrEd, Geokhan, BushelOfKittens

Observers: Rig, Valorean, Cade, Lysing, Tohil, Vraela (reporting)

The original intention of our excursion into the frontier was to escort and oversee the continued construction of the road extending West around the Lake of Songs and continuing Northwest toward Port Mirandia via the gap between the Whisper Woods / Sliver Grove and the mountains to their West. To that end, we only achieved a total of 12 miles of new road due to the distance from established settlements and loss of life from various incidents along the way. These incidents are the true interest of this report, involving diplomatic and arcane ramifications, respectively.

Firstly, the diplomatic incident involving members of our alleged allies, the Kuo-Toa of the Lake of Songs. While mutual assistance was given during the Deep One menace that threatened both our settlements and theirs; it appears that either the Kuo-Toa have changed policy in regards to Ruined Oak, or are incapable of policing their own members from acts of violence and banditry along the roadways of Ruined Oak. A warband of some 20 individuals attacked our group of protectors and road constructors from the Rotmoor River South of the Lake of Songs while we were passing over our established bridge, killing several of the workers in the first moments of their ambush. Several of us quickly self-identified as members of Ruined Oak, but they were very much delayed in ceasing their fire upon us, both magical and mundane, until we defended ourselves sufficiently to make them retreat when they began experiencing their own losses. This incident is concerning on numerous levels. Have our one-time allies decided to betray us in favor of looting our caravans? Do they instead hide behind our diplomatic ties as fair-weather friends, yet aspire to raid those within our lands and under our protection, with the temerity to use our own established roads and river crossings as ideal sites of banditry? Or perhaps the authorities of the Kuo-toa have lost control of substantial numbers of their people, who now turn to looting within our lands? In any case, I propose diplomatic discussions be demanded of the Kuo-toa to ascertain their motivations and the reasons for this heinous attack before more loss of life occurs.

A minor encounter regarding elemental binding also took place during our rest when making camp at a certain set of ruins, as a Fire Elemental manifested from our campfire during the midnight hours. Though not immediately confrontational, and in fact quite conversational once given additional fuel to consume, it conveyed a peculiar bit of knowledge. Apparently an individual known as the ‘Cold Queen’ bound the Fire Elemental to that place, though for what purpose I cannot say nor speculate upon with such limited information. It could prove worthy of future investigation, as elemental summoning and binding is a particularly fascinating branch of magical practice. I have marked the local map:

The final and most notable occurrence on our outing was the unearthing of an enchanted and jeweled skull, radiating necromantic energy. My study of the arcane and occult, complimented by the liberal use of Detect Magic, leads me to conclude that the skull we uncovered was either a failed prototype or now inactive* remnant of a reliquary of lichdom. The use of the term inactive may be less than fully accurate, given the significant residual mana and intact magical failsafes still imbuing the artifact. As mentioned, it exuded necromancy very strongly, producing one of the strongest mana signatures bound to a singular object that I have personally witnessed.

The relic in question, a presumed prototype or depleted reliquary for the purposes of lichdom

Additionally, the protective wards upon the relic appear to be particularly offensive and volatile. Attempts to further unearth and manipulate the skull with Mage Hand triggered a defensive blast, targeting the soul. While I was more than capable of avoiding its deleterious effects, soul magic in particular can be quite negative to one’s continued wellbeing; especially so in the case of this artifact as much perception of the intent of such a blast was to sever the connection between body and soul from those around it. While I did not sense a conscious intent behind the attack, as for example would more likely be the case with a soul dwelling within the reliquary and seeking a new host, it remains definitively dangerous. An attempt to emplace cautionary signage around its locale, likewise resulted in triggering another ward and causing localized tremors and fissures to erupt. Given the limited analytical and containment materials on hand, I sequestered the artifact with a maze of hedges, trees, and vines via Plant Growth such that others less prepared might not stumble about such a powerful artifact and succumb to any of its wards, or worse. With the proper preparations, I anticipate that research of the reliquary could provide unique research insights into a novel, if widely decried application of High Arcana. However, only experts in the field should even attempt such action, and I describe our preliminary findings here only to dissuade the brash and ignorant from knowingly or unknowingly suffering the wrath of a discarded, yet highly ensorcelled vestige. Those amateurish hedge-casters among you should avoid the location:

Vraela Songheart, Mage Adept
Katashaka Expedition
Curses, Herbology, and High Arcana Specialist