The Stag Lord

bandit lord that rules over the Greenbelt


The Stag Lord never had a name, for his father only called him “boy,” and then only when the old man demanded some sort of backbreaking chore or was looking for something to beat on. He never knew his mother and never knew a proper home—his father, being a roving and misanthropic druid, stayed on the road at all times, never sleeping in the same town more than 3 days in a row and usually camping out under the stars. Food was often scarce, especially as his father would only share after he’d eaten his fill, so the boy learned to hunt and steal. His father bruised and cut him, and so the boy learned to tend his own wounds. His father left him for death so many times, he came not to fear it. Eventually, the druid’s misanthropic ways forced him to abandon civilization or face persecution. And so he headed north into the Stolen Lands, bringing the boy with him. Times grew tougher for the boy, until the night when he had his Dream. In the Dream, a blindingly beautiful woman came to him and told him he was no longer a boy but a man, and she lay with him to prove her claim. After, she asked him why, if he was a man, he still deferred to his father’s brutality. She gave him a lock of her hair, and told him that the next time his father tried to beat him, he should fight back. When he woke, he assumed his Dream was nothing more, but then he saw that he still clutched the lock of hair his nocturnal visitor had gifted him. So when his father, drunk and angry, came at him that afternoon, the boy fought back and beat his father to within an inch of death. Then, with the only lessons he had been given—anger, spite, rage, vengeance, and greed—he became the leader. Yet for all his father’s cruelty, he never let the boy (now a man) die. And so the man kept his broken father with him, caring for him when he had the time, railing upon him when he had the urge, and generally keeping him just this side of death. Eventually, the man noticed that other bandits deferred to him when they met on the road, and so he sought others he could easily intimidate, weak-willed things that seemed drawn to his dominance. He lured drunks, petty thieves, and other spineless knaves into his service, and when they came upon the ruins of an ancient Iobarian tower on the north edge of the Tuskwater, the man realized he had found a place to call his own. Within the ruins, he found a grim helmet made of strange bone and graced with a stag’s antlers. He took the helm as his own, and from that point on his men knew him as the Stag Lord. In the months to come, the Stag Lord gathered more of the outcast and desperate to his side. He armed them and taught them how to hone their combat skills. And as they grew in number, he ordered them north toward Rostland to take what they willed—and as long as they returned every month to pay him his dues in gold and other wealth, they would never have to fear reprisal from their lord. In time, the Stag Lord hopes to build an army, perhaps one great enough that his Dream might return to him, whereupon he shall become a king and she his queen, and they will rule over the Stolen Lands as one.

From the three surviving bandits under Kressle’s command (who were eventually hung) regarding the Stag Lord:

“Our boss is a monster of a man. Calls himself the Stag Lord. He’s a deadeye with the bow, and I saw him crush a prisoner’s hand to mush in one fist. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen him without his creepy stag helmet on— some of my friends think he ain’t got no face under it, but not me—I think that creepy helm is his face!”

“It’s hard keeping track of who’s working for the boss, so we use a master phrase as a sort of password to get in to the fort on the northeast shore of the Tuskwater. Unless it’s been changed recently, the current phrase is, ‘By the Bloody Bones of St. Gilmorg, who wants to know?’ And no, I have no idea who ‘St. Gilmorg’ is.”

“The Stag Lord is a bloody drunk. All that booze under the platform’s for him. He’s half of what he used to be, and ain’t never been right in the head. A few weeks ago he punched my horse for spittin’ in the yard. Personally, I wouldn’t care if he dropped dead tomorrow, but even drunk out of his mind he’s still got a fair amount of fight to him.”

“The Stag Lord keeps a strange old man locked up in the basement. I suspect the old guy might actually be running the show, using the Stag Lord as a puppet, you know. I got a look into the old guy’s eyes once, and it terrified me. He ain’t someone I’d want to cross.”

The Stag Lord

Conquest of the Stolen Lands Finger_Steeple