Chornalth Adventures - Liga

RQ Evening 13
Trolls and lurkers and rancors, oh my! ...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

We picked up where we left off last week, at the entrance to a valley guarded by gnomes. After explaining their presence to the sentries, they were permitted passage to the valley. As they progressed downwards, Murray stubbed his toe and was told by the gnomish chirugeons that he would require several days of bed rest before continuing onwards. That night, Nikolai and Kendradell huddled with the gnomish graybeards, seeking more information on Tsojcanth, Iggwilv, and the black ziggurat of Marcus’ vision, and were saddened to learn that while the gnomes knew of Iggwilv’s cavern, they knew nothing of the ziggurat the party spoke of. They did say, however, that Iggwilv was obsessed with knowledge, so her libraries might contain information concerning such an edifice, if it indeed existed within these mountains. They also offered the services of a guide to the cave that was once the seat of Iggwilv’s power.

Not wanting to waste any more time, they set out the next morning, and soon stood before the fanged cavern Iggwilv had once called home. Dracon’s wolf familiar was left behind to guard the horses, as the party ventured down into the depths. When they finally reached the chamber at the end of the stair, they found a cavern with six exits, guarded by six distorted carvings. Talking to these carvings seemed to produce no effect (“Hello?” “Hi Face!”, etc.) though an attempt at fetching out one of the gems they could see glimmering at the back of one of the mouths cost them a perfectly good stick.

The first tunnel they explored twisted around and about, and the party was fine until they brought a lit torch into a room that was currently a nesting area for hundreds of bats. Once the barrage of panicked animals came to an end, a troll appeared at the mouth of a side passage, called out to his fellows, and soon engaged the party in melee.

In the course of this melee, both Sabian and Nikolai were sorely injured, but the party gave as good as they got, Tarqualan turning one of the trolls into a giant mackerel, while the others hacked the rest into shreds. The bodies were soon dragged into a side chamber and burned, while the party searched their lair for treasure. While most of their horde was useless junk, several items proved to bear some enchantment, and were distributed through the party.

The next tunnel explored proved to curve and twist sharply upwards, and sounds like chisels and a strange twittering laughter could be heard from the stairs above. Sabian’s attempts at sneaking up on the creatures ahead only served to alert them to his presence, so he rejoined the group and they began to approach the miners up ahead.

About halfway up the stair, a lone creature stood before them, looking for all the world to be a brown skinned heavily wrinkled human baby the size of a small elf. Though it spoke in a language none of the party comprehended, Kendradell found that she could understand (and be understood) by it perfectly. It told the party that they would progress no further upon the stair, and that he and his kind had no wish to deal with them in any fashion. (At one point during the conversation, several members of the group witnessed what appeared to be an eye open on its left shoulder (in one of the wrinkles of flesh)). Questioning this being (who called itself Blufgaruut, and identified his people as the Mirinogire) they learned that the “old woman” who had brought them here was long since gone, and that the faces in the place they had left could guide them along their way. (Kendradell’s sudden language skill was uniformly attributed to the necklace she had claimed from the troll’s lair).

So they returned to the chamber they had just left, and finally began asking the faces questions, which was rewarded by each face claiming “I guard the only way!”. Since each face looked towards the center of the room, trapdoors were searched for, and some discussion was held about the possibility that the faces themselves serving as some sort of portal, but in the end the group continued it’s counterclockwise search of the tunnels.

Eventually their explorations led them to another room with a face in the far wall, but when approached it revealed that it was connected to a large body comprised of clay and began flailing away at Marcus, who had been first to enter. He promptly buried his ax deep within the golem’s body, but even his magically enhanced strength was insufficient to pull it free once more. The rest of the group’s efforts soon brought it down (though it was the lightning cast by the ax trapped within the golem’s body that finally slew it. Tarqualan’s keen eyesight spotted a dagger compressed into the foot of the golem, which he kept for later examination.

Elsewhere in the same caverns, Nikolai and Marcus nearly became lunch for a Lurker, but eventually their explorations led them to yet another cavern full of bats, where a small tunnel several feet off the ground brought the sound of running water. Investigation of this tunnel revealed the underground river, and a small beach just slightly upriver from their current position.

Dracon used his magic to fly across the river, and while pounding an iron piton into the wall near the beach (to moor a rope to, so the others could cross) his hammer fell suddenly silent, as a large creature (which I described as resembling the Rancor from Star Wars) grabbed him and tried to rip off his head. Quick thinking (and good rolls) allowed him to escape the creature which held him, teleporting him back to the ledge where most of the party sat wondering what was happening. As the rancor stepped into the river, several members of the group loosed arrows (which only made it mad) and when last we saw our intrepid band, they were gathered in the bat cave, watching the steely claws of the beast rake deep furrows into the stone on their side of the tunnel…

Until next week…

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RQ Evening 12
Comin' round the mountain...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf (oerid/high) initiate of Heironeous (Rel Mord)
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief (Greyhawk City);
and introducing: Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

We rejoined our band in Perrenland, where they had journeyed seeking more information on Tsojcanth, Iggwilv, and the ruins of a ziggurat somewhere in the mountains nearby. Shortly after their arrival, Kaganost, while looking at the snow capped mountains and remembering the winter snows, elected to return south alone, and damn the consequences.

While saddened by their friend’s departure, the party soon located a knowledgeable mountain guide, a dwarf by the name of Flemin Rockabee, who also happened to be the uncle of the guide who had been hired by Ka’antos, Flavius, and their companions a month before. On the night before they were due to depart for the mountains, a high elf who gave his name as Baronet Tarqualan of the Vesve introduced himself to them, seeking to join with them. It seemed that the masked party they sought had recently passed through the elven lands ruled by his father, and were wanted for a variety of crimes against nature, property, and elven life.

And so the next morning (1st of Flocktime) the newly reinforced group set out for the Yatils, and soon passed between the Clatspurs and reached a trail that led into the interior of the southern part of the range. Following the trail markings blazed by Flemin’s nephew, the group made good time, though on their second night they were ambushed by a pack of wolves led by a werewolf; most of the wolves fled the battle, however, as they were not quite hungry enough to die for their meal (the werewolf was not so fortunate, receiving special attention from Marcus’ enchanted axe).

The next day found them facing a fork in the trail ahead, and the marks indicated that Ka’antos’ party had indeed followed it. Several hours later the party narrowly detected a small group of trolls lying in ambush on the trail ahead, though Sabian’s attempt at determining the exact nature of their assailants nearly cost him his life. Once defeated, the trolls small lair revealed a large sack stuffed with hides, misc. equipment, several gems and a dagger. Further evaluation of the booty revealed that the dagger and two of the gems were magical in nature, and these were quickly farmed out among the group.

Eventually they reached the end of the trail they were following, where lie a large cave with several blackened corpses lying outside, and even more within. It would seem that the group they were trailing had made short work of the main troll lair, and had moved on…

Once they had backtracked to the original fork, they began to see fewer and fewer of Flemin’s nephew’s trail marks, indicating that he was likely not being permitted to leave them as often as he would like. Other forks in the trail showed signs of Having been carefully swept of tracks, forcing the group to explore in a somewhat haphazard fashion.

Eventually the party entered a large valley, and were stopped by a pair of gnome sentries. In the distance, signs of a small community could be seen…

… and so ends another night…

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RQ Evening 11
The hunted become the hunters ...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief (Greyhawk City), and finally;
and introducing Marcus, half-elf (oerid/high) initiate of Heironeous (Rel Mord)

When last we left our intrepid band, they were enjoying the hospitality of Nikolai’s uncle, staying in that worthy’s manor outside Seltaren in the Duchy of Umst. One morning, a few days after the feast, Nikolai’s uncle Danushan summoned him from his bed quite early, with disturbing news.

Several days before the arrival of Nikolai and his friends, a man and two servants bearing a letter from Nikolai’s cousin Sascha in Verbobonc had presented themselves at Danu’s gates. The gentleman, a sorcerer and obvious sage who called himself Ka’antos, bore several interesting scrolls detailing the early days of the Suloise in the Sheldomar region, and as such had been accepted as an entertaining and learned guest under Danu’s roof. Early this morning, however, Ka’antos, his two associates, and Flavius had been seen riding out the gates of the manor like the Host itself pursued them!

Danu could not say for certain whether Flavius was in Ka’antos’ company willingly or unwillingly, but he thought it odd and possibly ominous that Flavius, so recently unmasked by Danu’s magic as a servant of Darkon, would choose to flee in the company of what, Danu was ashamed to admit, was a largely unknown quantity. The most telling description Danu could offer of Ka’antos (and his servants) was that all of them had apparently taken vows requiring them to hide their faces (which, for sorcerers, is not that strange, as vows go…)

Over breakfast Nikolai related this information to his companions, who quickly reached the consensus that Flavius and his new companions must be caught up to and at least questioned regarding their strange behavior. While in the midst of the meal, a stranger arrived, claiming to be Flavius’ brother Marcus, an initiate of Heironeous who had been guided there by visions of the evil acts his brother was guilty of. He quickly agreed to join the group in pursuing his brother, but it was soon discovered that before their flight, the saddles and tack of both the party and the household had all been sabotaged, requiring Nikolai and Dracon to spend half the day traveling to town and securing undamaged equipment.

By the time the party finally began following Flavius and Ka’antos, they had a solid lead of nearly half a day on them. The group was forced to delay slightly longer by an invisible sneak thief in the inn they chose for the night, who originally tried to enter the room Milik and Kalik shared, but wound up fleeing out the window of Dracon’s room

(Dracon was the first to open a door in the hall where the party’s rooms were located). A search of the grounds succeeded in locating only the cloak their unseen assailant had employed, which had been doused along the hem with rabbit urine to provide a scent that could be easily discarded.

The next day saw further delays, as the party lost time following the wrong forks in the road, etc., but eventually the party returned to the city of Leukish where they learned that Flavius and his companions had last been seen the day before, riding their strange black horses out across the waters of the Nyr Dyv itself!

While waiting for a boat, Marcus consulted the priest who maintained the Justicar’s temple in town, and secured the use of a Divination to determine Flavius’ destination. The vision he was shown revealed a ruined black ziggurat surrounded by mountains, which seemed to lie to the northwest. Drawing the connection between the ruin in Marcus’ vision and the crypt they had so recently explored, they sought a sage in town whose expertise ran to the ancient Flan, but found him murdered in his (ransacked) tower.

After giving the local authorities a day or so to gather what evidence they could from the tower, the party secured permission to search it for themselves, in the hopes that whomever had searched it and killed the sage (named Leek) might have missed something. Though it took several hours and many translation spells cast by Dracon, they eventually found half of a torn copy of the ‘Diaries of Tsojcanth’, a name Kendradell recognized from her studies as being linked to Tharizdun and the black ziggurat temples. During their search, however, Murray uncovered a fell volume of warm black leather, inscribed with a silver sickle design. After perusing it for awhile, he declared himself the book’s protector, as it was too dangerous to allow to fall into ‘unworthy hands’.

Sensing that the book had some control over their friend, they eventually managed to convince him to allow them to take it to the local temple of Delleb (a temple which Leek himself had belonged to), and they soon managed to both break Murray’s obsession with the book and destroy it. The next day the party paid a vastly inflated fare (their reputation on the lake preceded them) and soon reached the isle of Admundfort.

Their stay on Admundfort was brief and uneventful, and the only news that might have pertained to their quarry concerned the finding of an abandoned barge off the coast of the Shield Lands several days prior. The party was soon at sail again, making landfall in Whillip soon thereafter.

Once in Whillip they consulted with numerous priests and sages, trying to leam more of Tsojcanth and Tharizdun, the possible location of the ruin they sought, and in the process learned the name and bits of the legend of Iggwilv, as well. Eventually the group decided to journey to Perrenland to seek more ‘local’ information, though they first had to detour south towards the Gnarley, so that Dracon could participate in Obad Hai’s holiday on the 4th of Growfest (577, for anyone who’s counting).

The evening ended with the group’s arrival in Perrenland, where they learned that Flavius and his party had last been seen in the region nearly a month before…

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RQ Evening 10
Rocking the boat...

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Flavius, half-elven (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kendradell, female half-elf (Suloise/high) bard & initiate of Lydia (Keoland)
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer <absent>
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard. <absent>
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor.
Sabian, gnome thief (Greyhawk City)

We left our intrepid band hotfooting it out of the city of Greyhawk, planning to converge on the halfling community of Fadadia several miles northwest of the city. While there, Kalik waited for the celebrations sacred to Avoreen on the 11th of Readying, during which he planned to take the initiation test.

Though taking longer than any of the other two applicants, Kalik finally emerged a full initiate, and was vested with two silvered short-swords, a plain suit of chain-mail, and a royal blue cloak. After spending a few more days in the village, the group grew restless and decided that in lieu of a better plan, they would seek passage east across the Nyr Dyv to the Duchy of Umst. Before they departed, however, a wandering minstrel known to the locals as Tobias passed through town, bringing news of his travels near Perrenland, and of a sighting of the fabled Sword of Nogre, currently in the possession of an ogre chieftain much sought after by the dwarves among the Yatils.

(Nogre was a halfling initiate of Avoreen who earned distinction in the Battle of Emridy Meadows, and was said to have taken the sword that bears his name from a powerful and evil foe – though untainted by evil, the sword itself possessed many mystical powers, and soon became almost as famous as Nogre himself.)

The party elected to seek passage across the Nyr Dyv by way of Dyvers, and they were soon aboard a broad lake-barge and headed east. About six days out, a storm blew across the lake, and on the morning of the seventh day, one of the infamous lake serpents surfaced and attacked the ship they were aboard, seeking to sink it and pick the crew and passengers (the party) off at it’s leisure.

While most of the group were visibly above decks aiding in the fight against the beast, Sabian chose to remain below and rifle through the crew’s possessions, and secreted his ill-gotten goods both on his person and beneath a loose board between the deck of their quarters and the bilges below.

Meanwhile, up on deck, the crew and the rest of the party hurl weapons and spells against the scaly beast, and at one point several crew members and Kendradell are thrown overboard, but are quickly rescued by Flavius, Kalik, and several other members of the crew. Dracon eventually manages to command the beast to end its attack and return to whatever depths it usually haunts, leaving the crew to repair the damage done to the ship and resume their course east.

It quickly becomes apparent to the party, though, that the mood of the ship has changed. The crew who had been friendly in the past were suddenly cold and hostile, and the quality of food served the passengers begins to resemble something scraped from the hull. Nikolai questions the captain of the boat concerning this treatment, and is made aware of the thefts that have occurred – Nikolai quickly confronts his companions with this knowledge and demands that whoever the thief is, that the stolen goods be returned.

Seeking to direct attention away from himself, Sabian secretes one of the larger baubles (a scrimshaw carving) in Murray’s pack, barely hidden. Murray soon detects the addition to his belongings, and returns the carving to the captain, and submits to a search of his person and belongings. Thus convinced of Murray’s innocence, he is soon visited by Flavius, who makes an offer of recompense for the lost belongings, but Flavius eventually leaves to renew the plea to his companions for their return. On his way back to the hold, he is accosted by two sailors who perform a thorough search of his person, which they follow by tossing the section of the hold where the party has been residing.

They soon find the loose board beneath Sabian’s piled belongings, and a search of Sabian finds even more. At the captain’s command, he is bound, stripped, and keelhauled, and after his bleeding body is dropped to the deck, the crew thereafter ignores his existence. Sabian rides out the bulk of the journey sharing rations with the rest of his companions. Any attempts to settle the matter of truth by means of magic are voted down among the group, though tempers flare on the subject for the rest of the journey.

Once they make landfall in the Duchy, Nikolai invites the party to take advantage of his uncle’s manor outside of Seltaren, where they are warmly greeted and treated to a magnificent feast. While residing at the manor, Nikolai questions his uncle concerning the mercenary captain known as Elias, and learns that he is from the Shield Lands to the north, reputedly a follower of Hextor in years past, though rumors say he is now apostate and perhaps revering some new deity.

Also during their stay, Dracon searches out a nearby shrine to Obad Hai, and takes the vows of an initiate in that faith (mostly on the grounds of his mother’s membership therein).

And so we leave yet another evening behind, until next week….

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RQ Evening 09
Between a rock and a hard place ...

576 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Flavius, half-elven (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kendradell, female half-elf (Suloise/high) bard & initiate of Lydia (Keoland)
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer <absent>
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard. <absent>
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor.

We left our merry band preparing to open the secret door in the crypt they were exploring, and they did so, revealing another stretch of corridor ending in a door much like the others they had encountered. But as Dracon entered this chamber to magically translate the riddle it asked, he felt an unfamiliar tingling in his fingers and toes, and seemed unable to cast any spells within the hall. Upon further experimentation, it was determined that some anti-magical force guarded this hallway, so Dracon was forced to recast his translation spell and listen to the door’s riddle from the far end of the hall.

“Walks in the wind
Runs in the rain
Makes dry oceans in the sun
Counts time, stops clocks
Swallows kingdoms, gnaws rocks.”

Though they had to work to gather it, they soon procured some sand and placed it in the hands of the carving, which parted, revealing the next chamber. (I will admit at this point that I forgot to bring the map I had drawn of this place with me to the game, so I was acting purely on memory…)

The next chamber contained six chests and numerous urns and vases sealed with lead. While searching the chests for traps, Flavius was struck by a poison needle, which seriously sapped his CON and left him very weak. Healing was applied, but was mostly ineffective. Meanwhile, Kalik, attempting to lift one of the chests, triggered a trap meant for just such an eventuality, and was nicked by a scything blade from the base of the chest.

In the end, they managed to open one of the chests, and found that it was nearly full of heavy gold bars bearing what Kendradell believed were ancient Flannae numerals. While the rest of the group searched this room, Flavius wandered out towards the entrance, only to see several pairs of boots, some much too large to be those of men, standing around the outside of the hole they’d come down.

After alerting the rest of the party to their presence, Dracon quickly re-established contact with his wolf familiar as soon as he ventured past the dead-magic zone. The wolf quickly told him that many folk were about, and that he and Kendradell’s hunting cat had fled at their approach, not being able to reach their masters for some unknown reason.

Feeling weak (and perhaps a bit suicidal)* Flavius engaged the warriors above in conversation, actually inviting them to come down and “get them”. Soon, two human soldiers and an ogre were making their way down the halls of the crypt, as the rest of the party tried to form a defensive position from one of the stone tables in the room that had once held ghouls and the human-skin book.

Dracon made himself and Kaganost invisible, and while Kaganost tried peppering the oncoming foes with arrows, Dracon attempted a rear attack on one of the humans. The human possessed great skill with his sword, however, great enough to strike two heavy blows against Dracon, nearly crippling him. Milik used his sorcery to erode the ogre’s armor, which finally opened him up to the arrows of Kalik and Kaganost, as well as Murray’s magical flame arrows.

As the enemy drew ever closer to the group’s “last stand” position behind the table, Dracon finally struck a blow that crippled his opponent, and as the final soldier reached the table, Nikolai called upon him to surrender, to which he replied that it was he who should be accepting their surrender, not vice versa – and his next act was to drive his sword down through Nikolai’s shoulder, nearly to his groin.

Though the rest of the group soon managed to overcome him, it required one of Kendradell’s most powerful spells to heal poor Nikolai of his wound, as the rest of the group debated on what to do before more of the troops above could enter the crypt – these soldiers had nearly overrun them.

A search of the last room they’d entered revealed another secret door, which revealed yet another corridor and another riddling door, which asked: (thanks, Rasgon!)

“Common as mud
More vital than blood
Coin of demons and demiurges
It can’t be found in any purse
Invariably soiled
A burden, a curse.
After a life of toil
Released by dirges.”

This one held them stumped for awhile, as conversations with Dracon’s wolf above revealed that the other ogres accompanying the men above were felling trees, presumably to help smoke the party out of their hidey-hole. When they finally guessed the answer, they tried propping one of their bleeding foes against the door and finishing him, hoping that releasing his his soul in such a manner would satisfy the door, but to no avail.

Not wishing to surrender one of their bound spirits to the door, they chose instead to use magic to force it open, but doing so triggered the release of several of what the party decided were shadows within the next chamber – things were obviously not getting any better, and were rapidly getting worse.

While several members of the group fled towards the only exit they knew, Kaganost and Dracon quickly re-closed the door they’d opened, and then went to join them. Rather than setting the trees they’d felled alight, the ogres were closing off the exit with them – Kalik attempted to buy their freedom with the gold they’d discovered in the crypt, but another member of the party (which one escapes me) mentioned the shadows they’d found, which made the soldiers above (more of Capt. Elias’ Black Rook company, BTW) laugh and wager that the party had earned the fate they could expect to receive.

It was at about this time that Flavius, whose initiation to Darkon is known to the players but not to their characters, elected to (quietly) call upon his new deity for deliverance, and was heard. A darkness descended upon the scene above, and then there was only silence.

When Kalik climbed the rope they’d originally descended, and found that the stout wooden boles blocking their exit now crumbled away at the slightest touch – and when he reached the surface, the bodies of the mercenaries all lay frost-rimed and obviously long-dead about the scene. The grass, the trees, even the horses all seemed to have aged decades, perhaps centuries in the span of seconds, in a circle roughly 30 yards in diameter around the hole they had entered. Nikolai wondered at such an occurrence (time and aging being among his own god’s prevue), and took careful notes concerning the conditions and obvious effects of whatever had just happened.

Each member of the party carried with them a bar or two of gold, as their horses were now but bones and the cart they’d brought along with them to haul treasure was rickety at best. On the way back to Hardby, they espied what they thought must be Capt. Elias himself and a troop of his followers riding hard towards the city, but there was little they could do except try to blend in with the populace once they arrived (as if any group containing a wemic was likely to achieve this….)

Nikolai reported the strange temporal manifestations he’d seen to the temple of Lendor in Hardby, and was quietly ushered into an audience with an elderly priest, who filled him in on the story of Darkon and his birth to the avatars of Lendor and Istus before the Twin Cataclysms (all of this is entirely IMC, of course – YGMV). He was told to watch his companions, until he was sure of which among them served the Dark Son….

After several nights in the city, as they awaited river transport back to Greyhawk, a gnome came up to them in the inn they were staying at and notified them that the men several tables away were discussing how best to finish them off. Again, Flavius, in a fit of pique, decided to send these men a round of drinks, and through the barmaid managed to arrange a meeting between themselves and Capt. Elias’ forces a few miles outside of town at 10 the next morning. Naturally, they and the gnome (who seemed anxious for company, and was planning to return to Greyhawk anyway) all boarded the ferry at 6 AM and sailed north to Greyhawk, though at least one of their fellow passengers seemed quite familiar to various members of the group.

Once back in Greyhawk, the party fell to training and shopping. Flavius took the book they’d found in the crypt to the leader of his new faith’s hidden temple in the City, and was well rewarded for his find. Chancellor Y (as his high priest was called) then bade him to complete a mission of import, namely the slaying of a young girl who lived in a village a few miles outside of the city (actually, the lovely young woman Flavius was sent to kill was the only woman he was destined to ever truly love – her death both removed a possible impediment to Flavius’ loyalty, and bound him even closer to the cult by his action). By means of reward, Chancellor Y agreed to accept Flavius as his apprentice in sorcery….

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Sabian, the gnome they’d befriended in Hardby was notified by his superiors in the Slayer’s Guild that the people he’d been traveling with had recently acquired a rather high price on their heads, and that while the guild would not accept a commission against one of their own (namely himself), the contractor (whose name was given as Elias) would doubtless attempt to contract his demise with those assassins who did not belong to the guild (all of these contracts were being paid for, BTW, with bars of gold remarkably similar to the ones the party had secured from the one chest they’d managed to open….)

Confiding this knowledge with Kalik, Sabian and the party began a rapid withdrawal from the city, not wishing to test themselves against the Slayer’s Guild (who had already slain their companion Ivan with frightening ease….)

And so ends another night of intrigue…

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RQ Evening 08
Down the rabbit hole...

576 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Flavius, half-elven (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)
Ivan, Suloise follower of Norebo, psionicist, and appraiser of quality goods (Duchy of Umst);
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kendradell, female half-elf (Suloise/high) bard & initiate of Lydia (Keoland)
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer <absent>
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard. <absent>
and introducing Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor (brother to Ivan, now deceased).

As the evening began, the party was beginning it’s preparations to return to the site of the barrow their now deceased companion Ivan uncovered back in Episode 3. Several days before leaving the city, however, several important events occurred.

First, Murray the nalshavel visited Flavius’ mother, (an elven wizardess based in the city) and apprenticed himself to her. He also had her Polymorph him into a human.

Flavius, meanwhile, visited the temple of Darkon that his father helped found in the city, and became an initiate in his faith (having a parent in the cult was about the only means he could enter it, having neither the skills nor the talents to be recruited normally).

And finally, about three days before the party was due to leave the city, a gentleman appeared in the Green Dragon Inn asking questions about their companion Ivan – it was soon revealed that Nikolai, his brother, had received notice of his death and had come to make certain of it. Rounds were made of the Temple of Norebo, Melisande’s apartment, and Ivan’s other haunts, and in the end Nikolai agreed to join forces with his brother’s former companions. Ivan had finally come to the bad end everyone in the family had predicted he’d come to.

Riding out of the city was uneventful enough, and the road was friendly for the better part of a week as they made their way south again. About a hundred miles from Hardby they met three men-at-arms on the road, claiming to be agents of the Gynarch of Hardby, demanding a toll for further travel along the road. While most of the group prepared to fight, Nikolai paid the toll demanded of them all and they rode past unmolested.

Another day’s riding brought them to the scene of the first bandit attack they witnessed, and a few hours searching brought them once more to the hole in the ground they had found. As the party descended into the hole, they took notice of the two most obvious features, the doors that led east and west, respectively. The eastern valve appeared to be sealed with faintly glowing runes, while the west showed a heavy bas-relief of a man with his hands out before him at chest level, as if carrying or preparing to accept some boon. They also noticed for the first time the murals that decorated the walls to each side.

The murals depicted the birth of a young boy (of Flan descent) and the subsequent death of his parents (cause unknown). After the death of his parents, the people of his village lead him to a black zigguraut, where he is taken inside to live. The western door, when studied, seems to bear writing in an unknown tongue – when approached, the relief of the man speaks (again, in an unknown tongue). Dracon uses his magic to understand this speech, and discovers that the carving asks a riddle.

“Weight in my belly,
Trees on my back,
Nails in my ribs,
Feet I do lack.”

The party quickly solves the riddle, but answering the carving seems to have little effect. At first, Dracon tries crafting a boat out of leather, and Nikolai one out of cloth (each having skills in leatherwork and tailoring, respectively) but eventually Dracon simply uses his magic to unlock the doors, and they pass within to the second chamber.

The second chamber is much the same as the first, featuring another western door with the waiting man, and more murals along the other walls. These depict the life of the child within the walls of the zigguraut, where he worships a god wreathed in darkness. As Dracon and Milik make their way towards the second carving, a pit opens beneath them, dropping Dracon within and down upon the spikes that line the floor (Milik nimbly leaps aside). Once Dracon has been hauled back up and healed, the door riddles them thus:

“It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.”

Figuring that it was the incorrect magic they used on the previous door that sprung the trap, this time they use Dracon’s mysticism to create darkness in the hands of the carving, which then smiles and parts down the middle, permitting entrance to the third chamber.

This chamber is like the prior two, but a loaded ballista manned by two skeletons stands ready to fire – Flavius uses the ring he claimed from the wild haired dwarf they’d slain at the necromancer’s cave to command them, and finds that they obey. He has them walk all about the floor to trip any trapdoors that might lie underneath, while the rest of the party studies the murals here.

The third set of murals depict the young man/adolescent as he comes of age, and is made a priest of the dark god of the zigguraut. Upon his ordination, he begins to cast a second shadow, and in the final scene he bends his knee to what must be a lich bearing the regalia of kingship.

When finally approached, the third relief riddles thus:

“Three lives have I.
Gentle enough to soothe the skin,
Light enough to caress the sky
Hard enough to crack rocks.”

Once the party empties some water from their skins into his hands, he smiles and parts to reveal the fourth chamber. Like the previous three, the murals here depict the same man as a lull adult, wearing the black and mauve robes of what can only be a full priest. His service to the lich is long and arduous, at one point he is seen before a great ruined city, from which zombies, ghouls and skeletons issue, bearing out the freshly dead to be reanimated in his master’s cause. The carving in this room riddles the party thus:

“I am the part of the bird
that is not in the sky,
Who can drown in the ocean
and yet remain dry.
A last vestige of man
that refuses to die.”

This riddle is answered by having one of their number stand in front of a lantern, thus casting his shadow over the upraised hands of the carving. Again, the carving smiles and parts, revealing what seems to be the final chamber in the crypt.

This chamber stand four times as wide as the hall in which they’ve traveled, and within are six stone tables upon which six corpses lie.Flavius sends the skeletons in first, and as they approach the bodies on the tables those bodies rise up and quickly dash the skeletons to pieces. As the ghouls begin their chilling howl, several members of the party fall prey to the fear it inspires and flee, returning in the next round certain that all is lost.

Even with half the group stricken, the battle with the ghouls is short. As the party explores the chamber, however, Flavius notices some ichor from each of the bodies running towards a central point between them, and in an effort to keep them from their final meeting, Nikolai pours oil upon that spot and Flavius lights it. When the trickles all do meet at the center, there is a hissing sound, but the rising steam takes a manlike shape and then bursts into flame!

Kaganost recognizes the spirit as a wraith, which centers it’s attention on Kendradell, who, weakened by her call to Lydia in last week’s session, is easily the weakest prey. As she flees before it, the rest of the party strike at it in passing, but it is Murray (who had run before the ghouls had a chance to howl, and had only begun to think of returning) who strikes the final blow against the fell spirit.

As the group searches this chamber for hidden exits, Flavius finds beneath one of the stone tables a stone box, within which lies a book bound in human skin (likely Flan, from the rich copper color of it). Upon the cover of the book lies a strange symbol, two darkness runes embossed over two diametrically opposed chaos runes – the symbol of Tharizdun, Kendradell realizes at last.

We closed the evening as the group finally located what must be the secret door in the western wall of this room…

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RQ Evening 07
This town ain't big enough...

It is the 1st of Planting, 576 CY

Our cast of characters…

Lucian (NPC) human initiate and junior Knight of Pelor;
Dracon, human Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Flavius, half-elven (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)
Ivan, Suloise follower of Norebo, psionicist, and appraiser of quality goods (Duchy of Umst);
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer <absent>
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard. <absent>
and introducing Kendradell, female half-elf (Suloise/high) bard & initiate of Lydia (Keoland)

This week began with the questioning of the two prisoners they’d taken at the foot of the stairs. One was ‘made an example of’ and the other, even after seeing this, declared that he feared the necromancer (a she, they learned) in charge of the cavern more than he did the party – so the bound and gagged him and left him under a pile of corpses in one of the rooms.

They took the right hand hall at the end of the hallway they’d just fought in, and discovered that it turned after several paces, eventually ending in a large iron-barred door, that looked like it might be a prison area. While the invisible members of the party scouted the other doors in the hall, Ivan and Kenradell remained at the turn and watched their backs. While Flavius and Kalik tried picking the lock to the prison, Ivan felt a tapping on his shoulder, and turned to see the soldiers they’d recently killed (now zombies) standing right behind him.

Ivan proceeded to run down the hallway screaming, and ran into one of the side doors (which happened to be the messhall for the soldiers stationed there). Soon the party found itself trapped at the end of the hall, facing a almost a half-dozen zombies, a dozen soldiers, and a figure that they had every reason to believe was the lady necromancer. Meanwhile, Flavius managed to free the hostages and the two <missing> party members they sought.

Facing overwhelming odds, Kendradell elected to call upon her goddess, Lydia, for salvation (divine intervention). After a few moments, a sweet, high pitched song escaped her lips, and the movements of the enemy slowed until they stopped altogether. Taking their cue, the rest of the party evacuated the premises, (Kalik taking a moment to fire several arrows point blank at the necromancer, hoping that when time resumed for her they would strike true and slay her).

The party then rode quickly to Hardby, where they contacted Lord Henway’s merchant house and delivered his son & daughter-in-law to safety. Lucien, his current mission complete, bid the party farewell, as they were planning to make their way north again to Greyhawk.

Murray, who had lost all of his disguise paraphernalia while captured, was forced to remain outside the city, hiding in the hills. After a few days he began noticing the soldiers they had fled from combing the area looking for traces of him, but he managed to elude them and eventually slip between two patrols to make his way back to the edge of the city. Once reunited, the party elected to take a barge upriver to Greyhawk rather than chance meeting the soldiers along the roads.

Once in Greyhawk again, Ivan chose to seek sanctuary in the Temple of Norebo there, as he did not wish to chance another meeting with the assassin, Rufus. Kalik attempted to track either Rufus or Melisande to their domicile, but could only find Melisande’s apartments. One night, about three days after returning to the city, Rufus and several toughs fought their way into the Temple and shot Ivan with a poisoned crossbow bolt. This time, without ready aid, Ivan succumbed to the poison and died lying across his bed.

Later that evening, Kalik tried getting information out of Melisande concerning Rufus’ whereabouts, but she hit him with a frying pan, claiming that she was no longer “in the business, and even when I was, I didn’t do midgets!”. After Kalik was knocked off the stairs by the ex-doxy, Murray, who had accompanied him, tried impersonating an Officer of the Watch, but she was not fooled – she called for the Watch herself, and they quickly arrived. Murray talked his way out of gaol, and made a hasty retreat back to the Green Dragon.

The latter half of the evening involved the group training and contemplating revenge against Rufus, finally decided to return to the site of the hole Ivan had fallen into earlier in their journeys,as well as following the map Flavius and Kenradell’s group had been in possession of.

And thus ends another chapter in our saga…

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RQ Evening 06
Into the thick of things

It is the 1st of Planting, 576 CY

Our cast of characters…

Lucian (NPC) human initiate and junior Knight of Pelor;
Dracon, human Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Flavius, half-elven (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)
Ivan, Suloise follower of Norebo, psionicist, and appraiser of quality goods (Duchy of Umst);
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer <absent>
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard. <absent>
and introducing Kendradell, female half-elf (Suloise/high) bard & initiate of Lydia (Keoland)

This week began shortly after the release of last year’s prisoners, when the group heard a far off (feminine) scream, followed by a sort of hissing roar, and the sounds of combat in the distance. Investigating the source of the disturbance first revealed fear-maddened horses in flight, and soon they came upon a clearing where some sort of large dragon-like creature was embroiled in combat with a number of soldiers bearing shields with the Black Rook device. Though it displayed no breath weapon, it was laying about itself with teeth and it’s barbed tail.

The group elected to watch the battle rather than participate, and while looking for the source of the scream they’d heard, Flavius spotted a former companion of his, namely Kendradell (who had disappeared in the battle in which he’d been captured) tied to one of the fallen horses. Her rescue was affected without aiding the Black Rook soldiery, to their surprise and dismay. The ‘dragon’ then sank it’s claws into the much-lightened horse, and leapt away with it into the sky.

Introductions were made, and while arguing over their eventual course of action, the group ran afoul of a patrol of armed and armored skeletons, who managed a round or two of arrow fire before being cut down. The only notable event in this exchange was Ivan’s dodging of an arrow from horseback, resulting in a nasty fall (from horseback).

The group eventually reached the hill that contained the cave they figured was their eventual goal, and in the process of scouting for other entrances discovered four ‘chimneys’ rising from the hill emitting a pale blue-white smoke, and the egress of some underground spring on the north face of the hill. Dracon initially sent a crow into the cave to scout, but it’s report was fragmentary and colored by its dislike for being inside. While searching for a rat or racoon (it being late winter/early spring <1st>), Dracon ran afoul of a bear emerging from its sleep to forage, and wasn’t quick enough in his spell-casting to control it, and received a nasty paw swipe before finally getting it under control.

Drawn by Dracon’s wolf familiar’s barking, the rest of the group came in on the end of this, and Flavius injured the bear with a pilum before it was made clear that the bear was friendly, now. The bear was healed, and although there was some discussion of sending the bear into the cave to wreak havoc, eventually it was decided that Kalik would be made invisible and sent within to scout instead.

Unlike Dracon’s previous invisibility spells, the one he placed on Kalik was of superior quality (critical casting roll) and of seemingly unknown duration. Kalik’s foray into the cave revealed two bored human guards at the entrance, a pair of extensive dormitories for troops (several of which were playing cards in one of the rooms), a lower level (with a guard at the*end of one hall), and down another corridor, a strange white-haired dwarf apparently commanding a work-group of skeletons. Not knowing how long he had left, Kalik made his exit.

Outside, the group finally decided that a few more invisibility spells would allow them to overcome the guards on the door and make their way inside. Thus equipped, they did so and after investigating the now-empty barracks, sought out the dwarf and quickly dispatched him. Kendradell’s lore revealed that the strange dwarf was either a duergar or a derro (she couldn’t be certain which), either of which made the psionically aware Ivan more than a little nervous.

Venturing downstairs, the group attempted to overcome the guard on duty there, but did not dispatch him quickly enough. He raised the alarm, and soon the hallway was a mass of visible and invisible combatants, flying missiles, and spells. The sudden appearance of a large fire elemental (Lucien’s) helped wipe out an undead patrol that was coming to the aid of the mercenaries, and Dracon showed great valor in slaying another of the strange dwarves who came out of a side chamber and engulfed him flames.

As the battle at the foot of the stairs came to a close, so did another evening….

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RQ Evening 05
That's Gotta Hurt!

576 CY

Lucian (NPC) human initiate and junior Knight of Pelor;
Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai, Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Ivan, Suloise follower of Norebo, psionicist, and appraiser of quality goods (Duchy of Umst);
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer (he wasn’t always a halfling, though…)(Duchy of Umst/Nyrond);
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard,
Torias, avariel apprentice shaman (Hawk Totem)
and Introducing Flavius, half-elf (Oerid/high) warrior (Rel Mord)

The evening began with the cleanup from the ambush the party had enacted upon the bandits sent out to scout their position. Lucian, upon being appraised of the one rider’s heading east sent Murray “on an errand” (the player didn’t show, and nobody had a copy of his character sheet) and sent Torias to locate the rider and his probable destination.

Torias quickly located the bandit, and an envenomed hand crossbow bolt sent the bandit’s mount crashing to the ground, throwing the rider and breaking his neck. Torias then landed, and after several attempts managed to heal the dying bandit enough to question him. The bandit named his group’s leader as Leroy, and their overall master as ‘the Dark One’, said to dwell in a cavern complex at the end of the road. Torias soon had learned all he desired from his stricken prisoner, and hastened him on his way to Nerull’s embrace.

The party soon came upon Torias and his roadkill, and more reconnaissance revealed a wooden watchtower rising above the hills and trees several miles further down the road. The group decided to leave the road and skirt the edge of the watchtower’s field of view. While marching across the forest floor near it’s base, the group was struck by a flurry of arrows, and they took cover among the nearby trees.

Milik’s sorcery soon revealed two of their tormentors by using a blast of wind to blow away their cover, but the deadly rain of arrows kept most of the group pinned. About the time the group noticed that they could no longer see Lucien, one of the archers got a lucky shot against Torias (who had been flying, to have a better view) and basically put the arrow through one of his eye-sockets (critical hit, max damage rolled, and Torias was already wounded), dropping him out of the battle.

About the same time Lucien reappeared behind the archers wielding a flaming sword, the archers began firing on the party’s horses, and those who had not already bolted from the clearing ripped free of their owners and took off into the trees. One of the archers was soon slain by Lucien, another sorely wounded by return archery and spells, while their leader turned to face Lucien in swordplay.

The rest of the group, following Lucien’s lead, began advancing on the archers, though Ivan took off after his horse and donkey (receiving a solid kick from the donkey for his trouble). The tide turned, and the group soon had three prisoners (whom Lucien accepted both surrender and parole from) and they set about looting the fallen for what supplies and wealth they possessed.

Among the soldier’s horses, they found a bound and gagged half-elf of Oeridian/high olven blood, who gave his name as Flavius, (enter: Flavius Philipus, half-elven warrior, formerly of Rel Mord, new character taking the place of Torias). Flavius was the only survivor of a group out Cairn-tipping, who had run afoul of this band of mercenaries earlier that same day, several miles to the south.

After Flavius dealt out to the surviving prisoners treatment equal to what he had received at their hands, the group set to questioning them, learning that they belonged to a company of mercenaries serving under a Captain Elias, who in turn was working for ‘the mage’ whose base of operations was a nearby cave (presumably the same one that the bandit they’d slain earlier spoke of). The mercenaries professed to have never heard of ’the Dark One’, but freely admitted that they disliked remaining in or very near the cavern complex, because it made all of them distinctly uneasy. (The mercenaries, BTW, all shared the same device on their shields, that of a Black Rook on a brown field).

The next dawn the mercenaries were released with horses, as they had accepted a commission from Kalik to deliver a message to Greyhawk City, (the terms of their parole would not allow them to rejoin their Captain’s forces until after the group had completed their forays).

…and so ends another evening, and begins a three week hiatus until after the new year…

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RQ Evening 04
A Hunting We Shall Go...

576 CY

Lucian (NPC) human initiate and junior Knight of Pelor;
Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai, Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Ivan, Suloise follower of Norebo, psionicist, and appraiser of quality goods (Duchy of Umst);
Kaganost, wemic apprentice shaman, originally from Hepmonaland;
Kalik, halfling initiate-in-training of Avoreen (Duchy of Umst);
Milik, halfling sorcerer (he wasn’t always a halfling, though…)(Duchy of Umst/Nyrond);
Murray, nalshavel orc, wizard,
Torias, avariel apprentice shaman (Hawk Totem)

We rejoin our intrepid band somewhere in the Cairn Hills, as they track a group of bandits towards their lair, to liberate the son and daughter-in-law of a wealthy Greyhawk merchant prince. After their encounter with the hillside tomb (marked for later exploration) and it’s guardian, they set off on the trail of the bandits into the hills.

After about a half day’s journey into the wilderness, the trail of the bandits split into four smaller trails, each leading basically east, but widening north-south. The party chose to follow the more easterly of the east-south routes, and by nightfall came upon the spot where the bandits had met up with some other group (presumably allies) who had been awaiting their return. The spoor at the campsite indicated ogres, so it came as little surprise when a group of three ogres burst upon their campsite in the pre-dawn hours. Alerted by the noise the ogres had made approaching the camp, the party was ready for them and made short work of them through archery and spellcraft before they even entered the camp proper; a search of the bodies recovered a few coins and the knowledge that at least some of the trade goods the bandits were stealing were being put to use to make decent clothing for their bestial allies.

Fairly certain that the group they were trailing were aware of their presence, the group decided to angle their way south, hoping to either pick up the trail of the southernmost group of bandits or to parallel their current quarry until they thought it safe to resume directly tracking them.
By mid afternoon they had acquired the southern bandit’s trail, and aerial surveillance by Torias revealed that the group they were now following would soon rendezvous with a small wooden fort set in a clearing, possibly a way station or supply point for their operations. The balance of the day was spent deciding upon the course of action they would take, which amounted to Ivan riding out and distracting the guards along the wall while Milik used both spells and stealth to slip over the walls and take the measure of the place.

While Ivan traded insults with the guards, Milik slipped within and cut the tethers for the assembled horses, then set the straw of their barn aflame with his magic. In the ensuing confusion (in which he was nearly trampled by the frightened horses), he slipped within the common room frequented by the bandits and slew the six who had already succumbed to their ale by applying his dagger to their throats. He managed to slip away again unnoticed in the riot outside, back to the treeline where his companions awaited…

The following dawn, Torias spotted seven riders leave the fort, one heading east while the remaining six began scrutinizing the woods near where the party had been encamped. Kalik worked with the others in planning an ambush for their searchers, which was successful in short order. A search of the bodies revealed no further clues as to the nature or lair of the bandits, though coin and weapons were taken by the party for their own use.

…and so ends another evening…

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