Greyhawk

The Central Tower

Durg and Echo stood watch outside in case any new intruders might show their faces. The group pressed on to the northwest tower and wound down underneath the cobblestoned courtyard to a room containing an 8" crystal sphere. It was here that several of the group noticed that Erevis has slipped away as if forgetting something, notably Simone, who decided to trail him. Few could take their eyes off the crystal orb, which contained 4 smoky shapes, sitting upon a pedestal with 4 words in Common tongue.

Bloodraven, D’arcon and the Celenese druid began saying these words outloud and they group assembled, doing battle with a ice toad, an owlbear, a quick minotaur and the druid taming the carnivorous ape adding to his menagerie of a total of two, including the raven. The ape carried the chest of coins after being fed some food. D’arcon was quick to pounce on and pocket the now shrunken crystal ball.

A minor skirmish with a giant centipede, chasing away and looting another ogre magi, the group pressed on. Quickly, we tumbled upon another outpost manned by people employed by Rary, in one of the small empty rooms below. Two voices could be heard talking about calculations and the importance of such in regards to the Prophesy of the Singing Sisters. The Druid came up with the unconventional way of confronting the two scoundrels inside, by use of a Pyrotechnics spell. While the swordman quickly surrendered, it was apparent the spell caster teleported away to warn his master. This hurried the group along! Unfortunately many of the books and charts were ruined but we were able to find out that their group was also trying to figure out how to bypass the mysterious central room to the central Ghost Tower and ultimately the Gem of Souls as well as a place to study signs of the coming planetary conjunction. Bloodraven and D’arcon found a nice a desk set and wrote a note of warning on parchment, signed it, and addressed it Rary himself – pinning it on the back of the now unconscious mercenary!

The group wandered the halls below and found a room with burrowed tunnels, partially collapsing the room in. On the floor sat a large chest filled with 7000 gold, 4000 silver and the 3rd part to our mysterious key! Before it could be counted out an umber hulk burst forth from the walls attempting to sow confusion amongst the group. When it became apparent that this strong opponent would take some time to defeat, even with Bloodraven’s fists of fury, Leuwiss cast upon the hulk a Ray of Enfeeblement to slow and weaken it. The group gained the upper hand but it tried to flee. It was unsuccessful and perished under our withering attack. The hide of the hulk was salvaged, perhaps to cure it later. Leuwiss’ Wand of Magic Missiles ran out of charges.

The group decided to try the other tower and press through, reasoning that 4 towers would equal 4 parts to the key as the powerful mage, Gallap-Dreidel, probably teleported around to gain the four part key to gain access to his central tower.

Erevis and Simone returned telling us they’ve found a scroll on that illusionist in the employ of Iuz, tossing it to Leuwiss to look at. Leuwiss looked ashen as he read the proclamation aloud that Iuz must have penned himself. It was addressed to his entire Empire to bring him the Gem of Souls. The person to bring it to the Old One would win riches beyond his dreams and it would be used to create “The Ultimate Weapon”. This is when Leuwiss told us the proclamation was written on human skin! This must have bothered the rogues, as Simone and Erevis would be remaining with Durg and Echo to keep watch while we ventured below.

The northeastern tower was next, avoiding some scratching in some rooms that we decided held the undead and opting to pass through a seemingly simple beaded curtain. Except the curtain seemed to be some sort of magic trick. We poked and prodded at it, but it wouldn’t let us pass. Leuwiss stepped forward to dispel the strange magic, but it parted to reveal 4 angry bugbears. D’arcon exclaimed, “What is it with this guy and bugbears?!” and the group swung into action battling them down with spell and sword.

At the end of the long hall, the group came to a dead-end with 5 alcoves cut into the wall that were roughly human shape. Everyone entered one, with the elven druid staying behind. These alcoves spun around and moved a distance before depositing us out onto a life-sized game board with a statue at the other end. The tiles would light white for a correct move and red for a wrong move, much to Kel the priest’s dismay, being shocked by a small electric pulse. It took a minute to figure things out, with Bloodraven and Leuwiss as rooks and Kel as a knight. D’arcon, on the other hand, took his cape in hand and assumed the form of a bat and flew to the statue. He crawled onto the outstretched right hand, triggering a panel to open in the chest of the statue, revealing the final piece of the key!

This was the moment! The four pieces were joined and formed a square with round circles at each 90º angle. Again, we came to that strange metal wall. Metal made of the same material as the pieces of the key. I glowed brightly and when placed into the indentation of the same shape, a bright seem appeared in the wall running top to bottom. Soon, and unexpected, we were joined by a rather nervous looking elven druid who had been chased into the chess board room by nearly 25 hungry ghouls!

It silently opened to show a square room with seemingly brand new reclining chairs, eight in number, with four on each side facing the other four…

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Prophesy of the Singing Sisters

Erevis listened at the door outside the manticore den and decided to enter. Suddenly, D’arcon appeared but now human looking again. Thankfully Leuwiss was able to calm Erevis who was quick to draw his crossbow and D’arcon mumbled something about the Mage of the Valley (in regards to his kidnapping earlier) and that he’d explain everything later.

It seems we had stumbled onto a murder of several of Rary’s underlings, possibly at the hands of the Ogre Magi we defeated earlier. A makeshift research laboratory of sorts was stowed in this side room near the manticore den. The two bodies lie motionless, one in a chair and the other on the floor, with multiple stab wounds. A journal detailed some coming prophesy of the “Singing Sisters”, referring to a constellation called The Sisters, which will line up with planets on the Winter Solstice, as depicted by a charcoal drawing of the solar system on one of the walls. Leuwiss remarked that Tenser would need to see this information and the druid and the priest began meticulously copying and preserving everything in the room!

The elven druid gathered up the papers and journal and we made our way to the end of the corridor and came upon a strange, reflective metal door. Waist high, was an indentation of a square with circles at each 90º bend. The druid came to a conclusion that the one piece Leuwiss held was just part of a 4 part key and that we were at an impasse. We hiked our way out of the first tower dungeon and tried the southeastern tower next after we got some rest.

We camped out in the courtyard and watched in 3 shifts while the others studied, prayed and slept. On the 2nd watch, Kel spotted a menacing man coming up the path and woke Leuwiss to confirm his fears. Leuwiss performed a Know Alignment spell and revealed the approaching figure was an evil spellcaster. The group sprang into action, with the monk, Bloodraven, running up and punching the illusionist directly in the face! Erevis attempted to get a bead on the spellcaster with his crossbow but was usurped by the elven druid’s Pryotechnic spell which obscured the view. The monk continued to beat the singular evil spellcaster, now invisible. When the spellcaster was eventually subdued by the monk, the druid began to bind the spellcaster’s hands and gagged him. There was some back and forth and a cloak and dagger were forcibly removed from the illusionist. The druid then cut the spellcaster’s tongue in half making it nearly impossible to cast spells verbally and sent him screaming into the wilderness! The monk Bloodraven was shaken, but not nearly as disturbed as Leuwiss and Echo became.

Entering the next tower was similar to the first. The wandering priest, Kel, was very handy in turning some ghouls and setting the unfortunate undead to rest. Everis and Bloodraven took care to dispatch a giant centipede. Bloodraven and Leuwiss were able to dispel a magical illusion of a stone ball and pit. The entire group became hung up on a trapped room that seemed to teleport or conjure up a menagerie of monsters that would make Lord Henway of Greyhawk green with envy. Snakes, a rust monster, a giant lizard and a giant spider. Leuwiss was bitten and poisoned by one of the snakes, but the druid came out just fine in his tangle with another snake. Thankfully, the priest and druid saw to Leuwiss’ snake bite and was fine. Bloodraven, D’arcon, and Erevis were very good at protecting the group from most other harm. Evevis checked the various doors, listening and disarming trapped doors.

The entire group woke 16 bugbears from stasis, and as Leuwiss was in the rear of the group and D’arcon was paying more attention, he recalled the use of a web spell that Leuwiss had used on Luna when fighting the Green Witch. Leuwiss sprung into action and managed to kill the entire pack of flea-bitten bugbears in an orange web. On the other side of the room was a stone sarcophagus. Durg, Bloodraven and D’arcon lifted the lid to reveal mounds of copper and silver, four gems, and the 2nd part of our key!

The treasure was collected and the Celenese druid snapped the two metal pieces together to form a letter “L” and put them away for safe keeping. Kel made a rubbing with charcoal and a piece of parchment of the phrase written upon the sarcophagus lid. It was in some indecipherable ancient Flan dialect. The druid and the priest also saw to Bloodraven’s wounds.

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To The Ghost Tower

The journey to the tower had some rather unsettling events.

A storm forced us inside in the small village of Orz, with all of us seeking a warm place to wait it out. The one tavern in town was available, and those not out securing their boats or shutters were also seeking the dry safety of the hearth. The townsfolk told us there have been strange things happening recently and the storms have picked up as well. Tales of strange lights, sounds, and hearsay of a murder were tossed around by the people in the inn. Here we met up with two other adventurous types, an elven Druid from Celene and a contemplative priest of Fharlanghn, and they decided to join us. An hour or so passed, we packed up and followed the storm down the coast.

In Mega’s Landing, we witnessed the townsfolk out in their night clothes from the night before, stacking their belongings, walking in the muddy streets and muttering to themselves as if sleepwalking. Durg listened and became nervous when he heard some were saying “Gallap-Dredel”, the former owner of the Ghost Tower we sought. We spoke to the only person not under the mysterious spell, a priest of Pelor, too afraid to do much but watch the strange behavior. The priest insisted that his holy prayers were no match for what was going on. The elven Druid decided to start pinching people and this seemed to bring people back to their senses! Durg had the priest bless a cask of water for him, the monk spoke with the city leaders and was rewarded for saving the village from their mystery illness, the cleric said a prayer at his roadside chapel, and Everis seemed much too happy with whatever he found in the general store…

Everis and Simone rode ahead to scout, while the rest of us stuck close together. They reported back that a large area of burned out trees, possibly from a lightening strike, loaded with hundreds of ravens. The elven Druid spoke with one of the ravens trying to get some scouting information himself and we were warned of giants and “evil people” in the hills. Simone blindfolded Leuwiss and tied his mount to hers due to his irrational fear of birds, while the others rode passed the watchful beady eyes of the ravens. Once the raven and the Druid were done speaking, the flock swirled up, into the sky and toward the Bright Lands, causing Durg to curse and hurry our group up and over a treacherous mountain path toward our destination. While muttering to himself superstitiously, Durg misjudged the road, and one of the wheels broke. Durg beat some random metal together in his belongings to make due and away we went with a rather loud clanking noise from the wagon.

The mountain crested and leveled out more to the sea and across the plain to yet another craggy hill with our goal in sight. Upon this hill, was the unmistakeable four towered ruins of a keep with a ghostly apparition of the fabled tower flickering in the darkening sky. A huge white helix twirled above the tower and above the clouds. Leuwiss explained that these helixes only appear over points of great magic and, if the tales were to be believed, the Ghost Tower exists outside of time and space also giving it this shimmering appearance. D’arcon flew ahead to scout and reported back that the fort was in disrepair but easily accessed. The four towers had large metal doors with rusty locks on them. The main Ghost Tower seemed to have no doors or windows.

As we crossed the plain to this hill, a shadowy form appeared beside Durg. A man on a horse smiled, said hello, and began making small talk with Durg. This was but a ruse to get our attention diverted, as the real man behind the magic had already captured his prize. A magically stunned D’Arcon was quickly bundled away by another shadowy shape.

“I’ll return him,” said the shade and seemed to vanish into thin air.

“Jaran!” Leuwiss exclaimed, but it was too late.

The dark trickster Mage of the Valley had kidnapped D’Arcon! Here, Leuwiss explained a little bit of the background, history and the obsession the Mage has with D’Arcon and his seeming transformation into a being of pure shadow. Leuwiss tried to reassure everyone things were fine, but the group seemed to only be mildly satisfied with that answer.

We travelled up the mountain path to the ruined fort and gaining entrance to the cobblestone interior easily. The four crumbling towers and the walls were easy to gain access as the doors and some of the wall had collapsed from the eons of time. What interested some was the magical tower with no seeming entrance or windows. Erevis poked it with a lock pick to find himself jolted flat on his back. He cursed and stood up with little hurt but his pride.

Durg and Bloodraven decided that the doors to the towers could be knocked down with a little force. We chose the one to the southeast and gained entrance to the staircase that only allowed us to go down. Once everyone was sure it wasn’t trapped and indeed safe, we descended into the dark below and decided our marching order.

We battled a basilisk, an invisible Ogre Magi in close quarters and we were surprised by a manticore, taking some damage, but thanks to the quick healing of the Druid and cleric of Fharlanghn we were alright. Amongst the manticore’s filthy treasure and coin, we found a strange, flat piece of metal with a round circle on one end. Leuwiss pocketed this for safe keeping as the others thought it might be some sort of key. Durg happily put on the chain mail armor that managed to shine as if it were new. The rest of the treasure was put away to be divided later.

Everis listened outside a door we passed and we debated going inside.

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Beginnings in Magepoint

The Companions were having dinner and planning what to do next when several people wandered into the Hobbling Goblin Inn.

A monk (Bloodraven), a rogue (Everis), and a rather large swordsman (Durg) entered the common area and peacefully had their meals. Soon a squire or messenger announced to the adventurers in the inn to assemble at the causeway in one hour to be escorted across to Tenser’s fortress.

Once greeted and inside, Tenser informed us that agents of his had intercepted a shipment of lumber destined for the Empire of the Bright Lands. Hidden inside the caravan were maps and notes on a mysterious tower far to the south called The Ghost Tower of Inverness. Ultimately, the prized treasure, an artifact called The Gem of Souls, was mentioned heavily in the captured notebook and that this disguised caravan had planned to use this information to curry favor with the mage, Rary.

Tenser said it was our duty to retrieve the Gem of Souls at all costs and should not fall into the hands of Rary. Without waiting, we began our long journey south passed Greyhawk and Hardby to the southern Abbor-Alz Hills to this ghostly tower.

Along the way we avoided a large party of orcs camped not to far off the trail by creating a diversion of an illusory dragon attack, thanks to D’Arcon ’s wand of illusion. Several hours later we were stopped by some ill-prepared bandits. With expert teamwork, one bandit and mage in their group were slain, while our new monk friend, Bloodraven, bargained with the remaining brigand in a reversal of sorts.

“Your treasure our your life for attacking us.”

And with that bargain completed, the monk loosed the bandit of his pants and weapon and he was sent screaming into the night.

We mindfully circumvented the City of Greyhawk with The Companion’s recent trouble and, Erevis, our mysterious rogue’s urging that we keep our distance from the city for good measure. Soon we came upon a barge community of Rhennee who bargained with us for a trip down the Selintan River on a barge for a hefty sum which D’arcon gladly paid.

In the morning we awoke to find ourselves safely in the port city of Hardby, where Durg and Leuwiss sought out healing from the temple of Pelor. With everyone happy, fed, and well rested, we continued to move on our last leg of the journey to The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

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The Business of Revenge

“Fire!”

D’Arcon was looking out the eye windows of the turtle ship and turned to Leuwiss with a concerned look. Leuwiss looked ill from the helm of the magic ship.

“Greyhawk seems to have a large plume of smoke shooting miles into the sky!” D’Arcon exclaimed.

Leuwiss grabbed the armrests of the helm and urged the ship forward with all his energy. A great column of fire and smoke was indeed coming from the Artisan Quarter of our home city of Greyhawk.

“Leuwiss,” Echo was now also at the window, “there are many people on the fourth floor, the roof is open, and they are waving us in.”

Leuwiss spun the ship around, attempting a levitating landing, so as to not put any more weight on a structure that was most definitely compromised.

“Quickly, everyone to the back plank! Help everyone get aboard the ship while I maintain our position,” Leuwiss ordered.

Leuwiss’ family, Klive and worker gnomes boarded the turtle ship with only several handfuls of belongings. Leuwiss took the ship high and away from the conflagration. As we pulled away, the wooden structure buckled and fell in on itself leaving nothing but the burning column of scarlet fire and smoke! Here, Leuwiss’ mood had considerably darkened. Much to his companion’s unease, he began a heated discussion with his father, laced with profanity. This seemed to sway his family to intercede and we all devised a plan to fake their deaths and have them set up shop again in Magepoint, under the watchful eye of the townsfolk there. Also, Leuwiss demanded the family agree that the group should become autonomous and separate from them for their own safety.

With everyone put up at an inn in Magepoint, the Companions made their way to a point in the Selintan River and docked in the wharves. There was some investigating to do to find those responsible.

We decided a quick visit to Simone would turn up some ideas. Unfortunately, all this did turn up was a ransacked apartment and we clung to the hope that Simone escaped. With that hope in mind, we ventured out to several pubs she is known to frequent and eventually found her in a dark corner. It seems she managed to slink out a window before trouble came knocking and was hoping to run into us as she found out that there was a band of thugs looking out for all of us!

Simone informed us that a few hours ago, she received word that an unknown benefactor, of a non-guild sanctioned thieving band, is waiting in a warehouse. In order to gain compensation, the bandits had orders to burn the Spelloyal’s business to the ground via some self-destructing magical device and to capture or kill all of us!

Leuwiss informs Simone that his family is safe, but the building is destroyed, and we are using this tragedy as a ruse that they have all perished in the fire. Simone believes that it might be best if we leave the city until things die down, but she will need to retrieve some items from her apartment. We all agree to accompany her should there be a scuffle.

It takes all of five minutes for Simone to get her disguise kit, daggers, some papers and personal items… and to spot a mysterious figure a block away puffing on a pipe in a darkened doorway. D’Arcon, using his new gift from the Archmage Tenser, immediately takes the cloak in hand and transforms into a bat to do some reconnaissance. While this happens, Simone settles any fees to the proprietor of the Fat of the Hog, buying us time for D’Arcon to return.

D’Arcon observes the man puffing on the pipe in a form of Thieve’s Cant, signaling to three cloaked figures further down the road on a balcony. D’Arcon flies back to inform us that we are about to be ambushed and we devise a quick plan to divide and conquer our assailants. Echo, Bram and myself acted as bait, while D’arcon and Simone would attempt to sneak around to backstab and take out some of the other members of the gang.

All was not easy but we did get the upper hand eventually, even after more of the gang emerged from an alley surprising us and taking some damage. One after another, the crooks fell to the blades Simone, D’Arcon, Bram and Echo while Leuwiss used a charm spell to elicit information as to the whereabouts of the gang’s benefactor. With ease, we learned that a masked individual, acting alone, would give a chest bursting with gold to the gang for the deeds done. D’Arcon examined some of the coin given to the band of thieves to only find the mark of the Scarlet Brotherhood! Leuwiss flew into a rage…

D’arcon suggested he use his Wand of Illusion to make it appear that our new “friend” here has captured all of us, complete with shackles, bruises and additional cuts we did not suffer to gain the confidence of the diabolical Red Fiend. And then we would strike!

We made our way to the wharves and shuffled into the warehouse as actors in our plan. The doors were shut behind us, locking us in with the cloaked figure. He wore a golden mask to hide his features even though the hood would do just fine. He rose to greet the remaining thief and to make the exchange.

“Ah!” he said, “You’ve come to claim your reward for a job well done! As promised, here is your gold and you have the Kingdom of Shar’s gratitude. As for the rest of you, we set sail for the south and you’ll all serve as slaves.”

Instantly, his voice seemed all too familiar and Leuwiss remarked as such. He chuckled and removed his mask. It was none other than “The Father” who disappeared while we were in the thick of it in the Vesve!

“I told you I would be back!” The Father taunted.

Quickly, we dropped our charade! Echo made for a back entrance to close us in with The Father to assure he wouldn’t escape so easily this time. D’Arcon and Simone went in for the attack and The Father tumbled and leaped up onto a crate. Bram was offering a prayer to Beory while charging upon the devious monk, holding tightly to his golden scythe. Before our very eyes, Bram became a towering cave bear and set about making quick work of the father until he was nearly a bloodied and maimed pile of flesh.

Leuwiss noticed he still lived and gave the word to the other’s to make for the ship. Bram burst through the barred doors splintering the wood and allowing all to exit. D’arcon and Echo would take the coin to the ship. The monk’s death would be Leuwiss’ alone.

He began to weave the magic to call forth the largest fireball he could muster. Leuwiss watched as the monk’s eyes widened with horror as flames incinerated him and set the warehouse alight.

With a group of Night Watchmen paid off to forget they saw us, the faithful companions boarded the ship and set a course for a well-rested night in Magepoint.

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D'Arcon's Strange Return

Leuwiss gathered his traveller’s belongings and waited until his summons for the Companions could be delivered. Bram promptly arrived at 7 o’clock and Tokala fondly greeted the druid. Simone had some business to take care of, so she would not be joining us for our trip to Tenser’s fortress. We took the steam lift to the 4th floor where our ship proudly sat. Echo stood from the ballista deck giving us the thumbs up. We were stocked and loaded for the trip.

Because of the short distance, Leuwiss elected to helm the ship in the twilight sky out past Magepoint settling down into the Nyr Dyv and piloting in to dock via the waters so as to not frighten anyone with the Spelljamming vessle, Tortuga.

Upon arrival, we sent a young squire ahead, down the causeway, to alert Tenser of our appearance and to give the good mage time to prepare for guests. It’s how he prefers his meetings and we were in no position to argue these one way or another. In the meantime, we enjoyed a small drink at The Hobbling Goblin where we would wait for the squire’s return to escort us to Tenser’s keep.

After dark, many of the non-essential staff in Tenser’s employ return home to Magepoint while other’s are fully sheltered and needed at all times. The initial unease of the constant and growing loudness of a pervasive hum that radiates from the ancient fortress is something one might never get used to. Why it does this is a mystery to most.

We breezed through the gates into the pristine and well-swept cobblestone common area and we were greeted cordially by the mage, Tenser, in his trademark blue vestments.

“Welcome, friends!”

Tenser greeted everyone with equal and genuine enthusiasm. Even Bram, who he was meeting for the very first time. With pleasantries and small talk of our uneventful journey to his place out of the way, Tenser ushered us up the opulently decorated stairwell to his observation deck. Each of us took a seat and poured jasmine tea for one another.

“Friends,” Tenser began again,“You must know that I have tried my best, being a mage of competence. Your friend seems to be safe, hale, and most certainly himself. D’arcon?”

Tenser gestured and momentarily looked at the ground to avoid our surprised expressions and then scanned our faces again noting our surprise. From behind a blue folding dressing screen, stepped a cloven-hoofed, horned, facsimile of who we assumed to be D’Arcon!

“Again, let me assure you that this was an unforeseen complication in the cloning ritual. I must stress there was absolutely no way I would have known this outcome but I do know this: D’Arcon is unique.”

“Unique?” Leuwiss was clearly in shock otherwise he would have pointed out that we are all unique by definition.

“Let me elucidate,” Tenser cleared his throat and beckoned D’Arcon closer, “From extensive tests I ran on your… our friend… this is his true form.”

“True?” Echo stole the words out of everyone’s mouth.

Tenser continued, “The form you knew, the human form, was but a mask of magic. An enchanted chrysalis of great aptitude, which allowed him to travel freely amongst men. D’Arcon is of a magical birth that few beings that walk this planet can manage. He has no known race. From my calculations, trials and knowledge – my best educated guess is he is a plane-touched being. One of a kind.”

We stared in awed silence at our friend’s new appearance. None of us made a sound as D’Arcon approached our group and sat down on the chair meant for him.

“Hello,” D’Arcon spoke unsure of what more to do. Echo poured D’Arcon’s tea.

Tenser continued again, “As I said, few people with this amount of willpower could perform such a feat. Analysis of the magical tapestry that manifests itself before you, could only be the work of three, possibly four wizards…”

“Or witches.” D’Arcon interjected, “My coin is the hag, Black Agnes, had a hand in my creation.”

“Affirmative.” Tenser stated, “Perhaps it has something to do with your mother’s past. Perhaps it has something to do with a plan Black Agnes has for you.”

This last bit sent a chill down everyone’s spine. A plan? Of course, just what we need, more trouble in the Flanaess. A “plane-touched” covers everything from elemental beings to tanar’ri or cambions!

“The more I probed, measured, and tried to understand, the more murky D’Arcon’s past seemed to be. I hope this information is helpful,” Tenser was trying so hard to not offend our friend or make him feel alienated.

Tenser looked up at the ceiling of the great crystalline dome over our heads and exclaimed that it was time for us to go as he had some pressing engagements and that he would be in touch with us shortly about a possible mission. As we made our way out, Tenser passed Leuwiss a wooden box and gave him instructions to present it to D’Arcon on our way back to Greyhawk.

D’Arcon, confused by the gesture, opened the box to find a somewhat non-descript cloak and dark blue card bearing Tenser’s mark that said: “I tried. A special gift for a special friend.”

While this moment lifted D’Arcon’s spirits, Leuwiss’ were to get a lot darker.

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Hopping Mad

The morning broke like any other, except for the banging on the front door of the Confection Shop. It was two hours before we were to open the doors to the public!

Getting dressed as quick as he could, Leuwiss stormed down the stairs, past his family and down into the shop to see what was the matter. Outside, there was a motley assortment of characters lead by an old school friend of Leuwiss’, Sheeba of Ket, who was in a lively discussion with Bram the Druid. The poor soul was quicker on his feet than Leuwiss and was paying for it as the others started to pipe up about some pressing complaint.

It seems that there had been a wave of terror going through the Foreign Quarter: kidnappings, drive by shootings from carriages, and now a couple of fires set by a group of mysteriously cloaked females. The last one being a conflagration in Sheeba’s own shop. The Foreign Quarter watch was rouse especially with Richfest two weeks away. Celene and Luna waxing high in the sky does bring out some interesting behavior.

We took the names, addresses and names of businesses affected by these attacks and found no common correlation amongst them other than the attacks happened at dawn or dusk. Our next step was to examine the arrowheads of some of the darts and arrows slung at our neighbors. Sheeba had done some preliminary testing on the poisons that some of these were dipped in and found the poison to have a base ingredient only found native to the Vast Swamp.

After getting the Companions together, we darted here and there through the Foreign Quarter. Poking our noses in at the Silver Dragon Inn for a late breakfast our questions turned up nothing we hadn’t already heard so we decided to move on to the Foreign Quarter guard house. We learned of a covered wagon and a horse had been used to attack the dwarven translator at dusk a week ago and was still in custody.

A quick sweep of the wagon floor turned up a strange muddy footprint. Bram inquired about the ownership of the wagon and horse and found it to be stolen from a family who lived in the Thief’s Quarter. It was just caught up in paperwork and was going to be returned to the owners later that day. We requested to do this ourselves and the guards obliged us. Bram then used his ability to commune with the horse and found out some more information as to where we might want to look intently for our band of terrorists.

After returning the wagon and horse to the rightful owners, we were offered a tip to put word in with the Beggar’s Union and did just that. It was now mid-afternoon and soon we were directed from one beggar to another and met a contact in front of The Pit. The besmirched man with no teeth informed us, after some gold passed his hand, that we might want to look down Water Street which did dovetail nicely with the information Bram got from the horse.

We decided our best bet would be the abandoned bath house. It was at the very end of the street and was boarded up tight… or so we thought. A boarded doorway had the appearance of being nailed shut, but on further investigation we noticed the iron nails to be snipped off and resting gently in the wood to make for an easy and silent entrance.

The bath house wasn’t in bad shape, as it had been abandoned 20 years ago. The ceiling and floors did creek, but with a little cleaning the place could run nicely again, as Bram noted. The main reception area split off into two halves: one for women and one for men. All that remained in the front was a desk and a large statue of two people bathing.

We decided that the woman’s bath might yield results. Bram had a hunch and it bore fruit. In the ladies changing area the floor was befouled with the same muddy amphibious footprints we found in the wagon. Not only that, several of the cloaks had mud caked on the inside of them, and we knew we had the right place.

What we hadn’t planned on was the next room to be so thoroughly dense with steam so thick, it made seeing anything more than 5 feet an impossibility. The formerly clean pool was now filled with the same silty mud which was heated by some means at the bottom. We grew cautious. Bram silently signaled that he saw several eyes peering at us from the muddy pool.

Before we could act, the room sprung to life. Frog-women leapt up and into the mists pulling Echo into the pool. We wouldn’t hear from him until later in the encounter. He later told us that he wrestled his way out of the amphibian’s grasp only to bump into various treasure on the floor of the pool.

Several of the frog creatures shot arrows at Leuwiss, hitting him in the shoulder and leg and he volleyed with some Magic Missiles. Bram dodged some of the attacks and went about creating a thicket of dangerous thorns across most of the pool, preventing them from escaping and sealing their doom.

A man, horribly disfigured with frog-like features, burst forth from another room and shouted a string of curses upon us and then commanded his army of amphibians to attack. The man, we assumed to be the ringleader of these horrible attacks in the Foreign Quarter, quickly found he was no match for us and we destroyed the 3 remaining frog-women. Bram called out to Beory and the weather changed and the ground shook! Suddenly a giant eagle swooped in and came to Leuwiss’ rescue, plucking two of the disgusting creatures up and away.

The man drank down a potion and jumped high over our heads to the large archways. He cackled and shook his fist, promising the “return of Great Wastrian prophet, Heironymous Spune and an army of deadly amphibians!” And with that, he drank another vial of liquid and flew away into the sunset.

Upon searching the room in which he burst forth, we found several cityfolk who had been kidnapped by this gang and set them free. They were told it was safe to exit the building and leave, as we were going to make sure the bath house contained no more threats. Bram added a bag of coin to the treasure Echo would dredge from the bottom of the woman’s pool.

In the men’s baths, we took on 4 extremely aggressive and hungry toads and won. Bram and I were hurt but not too badly as we emerged victorious.

With the day saved and another problem vanquished, the good people who hired us made arrangements to purchase the bath house and award it to Bram. Bram then turned it over to the local Druid’s circle with the hope of converting it into a natural retreat devoted to Beory and home within the bustling city for those of the Old Faith.

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Tenser, A Favor?

We landed in the Nyr Dyv and piloted the ship in over water as to not alarm the residents of Magepoint, with the dire need to see the archmage Tenser. With formalities made and clearance to approach gained, we walked a mile to the Fortress of Unknown Depths along the causeway carrying the remains of D’arcon to plead with the busy archmage to grant us favor.

It seemed we had exhausted our connections in the City of Greyhawk as no one was able or willing to help. With five days left on the spell binding D’arcon to his remains, we had to work fast to find a palatable option we could all stomach.

We waited inside the pale blue walls of the complex, watching people in the armory and blacksmith hammer away on items of great need, workers processed food stuff, and a contingency of dwarves entered the main tower for an audience with the archmage before us. So we had to wait.

An hour passed and we were greeted on the steps by the man, Tenser, himself, bidding the dwarven party good travels. Immediately, Tenser could see we were under a great deal of stress. We wore it on our faces. The good wizard ushered us inside to talk privately.

We explained what had happened and he listened intently to every bit of the tale, asking questions here and there to get the full story. His face, most kind and serious, thought silently for a few minutes with his hand on his chin. He then offered a us deal.

If we agreed to go on to do a complex ritual over the remains of D’arcon called cloning. This involved a cubic foot of… living material, arcane equipment and four months time. We are to return then and, most likely, perform some important mission for Tenser in the future.

Echo, Bram, and Leuwiss all agreed to that condition. Tenser, being incredibly busy had to take leave and attend to some more pressing matters and we prepared for our trip back to Greyhawk.

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Liga's Light Casts A Shadow
Our first failure

Before we could formulate a plan on how to shoo away the encampment of the Scarlet Sign, D’arcon marched forward and down the slope to take on the obstacles. With four monks, three thieves, and two frightening ape-like creatures in cages off to the side, we were quickly subdued and forces to march headlong into the darkness of the crypt that supposedly held this mythical bow. While fighting these vile men, we were aided by a druid of half-elven decent, called Bram. It seemed he’d been tailing us for some time trying to figure out if we were a threat, but instead found us “interesting”, heroically came to our aid and ended up captured as well.

The leader of this band of Scarlet villains, “The Father”, instructed us to descend many steps with our hands tied behind our backs. Down we stepped under the forested hillock until we came to a large landing. Upon stepping on the floor, two large braziers lit! The room was wide, tall, all quarried and dug of the same local earth and stone we’d seen here and there on the forest floor. Ahead of us stood two 9’ tall statues of Flan origin, depicting great warriors, flanking a rickety rope bridge across a deep abyss. As we approached, the statues sprung to life! Here, our Flan guides we had fled the chamber, clambering up the stairs and to freedom. Nobody said not a word.

Two of the ape-like creatures became rather agitated and pounced on one of the stone warriors and plummeted to their deaths just past the light’s edge, over the lip and into the inky darkness of a ravine. The other stone golem burst through our ranks, splintering the group, and killing two of the monks. Echo, D’arcon and several of the monks repeatedly dodged or fought the golem while Leuwiss instructed our new druid friend to stand back-to-back with him. Leuwiss used the strange golden blade strapped under his robe to cut our bindings and instructed Bram to quickly set Leuwiss free. Once Bram grasped the blade, it had a visible sparkle and sheen that it did not possess before!

Bram made quick work of the golem’s leg, but unfortunately the activity has stirred the anger of a giant wasps nest that clung to a wall. One of the monks was stung, paralyzed and taken into the hive and others were flying angrily about as this left the rickety bridge to cross over the cavernous depths below it. Bram dashed toward the remaining stone golem and a great pulse of invisible magic was felt in the room just as his golden scythe, sliced through the golems leg, sending the golem sprawled out onto the stone floor of the crypt. Bram later revealed the mysterious blade we’ve been carrying around with us the entire time was one of the fabled magical 5 blades that were part of starting The Greyhawk Wars – Greenswaithe!

Bram bounded for the others, managing to free Echo but D’arcon made a mad dash for the bridge. Echo covered the rest of us and we too made our way to the bridge hitting back the giant wasp swarm that darted overhead. “The Father” headed the group off, making it first onto the bridge with a thief, taking a moment to turn and wave at us, the scoundrel! Istus almost turned fate once again in our favor, when several wasps set upon the two but they were dodged and they set off ahead.

That left us behind, yet to cross the chasm and deal with very angry wasps. Echo and Bram covered us yet again, with D’arcon scrambling beneath on the reverse side of the wooden planks with his Boots of Spiderclimbing at one point to avoid the large insects, and we reached the other side. The twosome were now only steps ahead of us, just beyond the row of Flan totem animal statues that faced a wide flight of stoney stairs leading further down into the growing darkness.

The lowly thief from the Scarlet Brotherhood, in his hasty decent, stepped on a pressure plate which set off a trap. Bursting forth from one of the mouths of the totem animals was a thick stream of goop, hitting him square in the back. The entire group stood at the top of the stairs in horror as we watched the thief’s cry dissolve with him within seconds into a puddle of green bile.

The Father” turned to us stepping backwards as he spoke, “This isn’t the last you’ve heard from The Father!” With that, he spun his cloak around his and disappeared into a small blast of light!

It took us nearly an hour to test each stone, noting and repeating the correct path to take us to safety, deciding on taking the right door instead of the left at the base of the stairs. D’arcon took the lead, with the group not far behind, indicating there was a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Sadly, for D’arcon this light was a devious trap into which he walked. It might be more accurate to note that this illusion of a room with a glowing orb in it was nothing more than a disguised 5 foot square panel with many, many brass blades that reduced D’arcon to a sluice of blood and guts, draining into a shallow pit below. The only items salvaged from the attack was D’arcon’s Wand of Illusion.

It took some work, but we carefully wrapped up D’arcon’s remains and set him aside. The group, reeling from this sudden shock, soldiered on to the other corridor we didn’t choose. Upon pressing a pressure plate for this remaining corridor, Echo noted that this long corridor was now being swept by swinging blades as if on a great axel holding many pendulums of death. Pulling myself together, Leuwiss decided to take the lead to show the others how to gain access to the other side and hopefully to safety.

Leuwiss figured, by observation, each blade had a timing as if they kept time for an instrument or perhaps something clockwork, but on a grand scale. Thankfully, the companions paid close attention to the timing of their steps with only minor close calls being Echo and Bram taking sharp slices in a narrow escape through a rather treacherous series of 3 blades.

On the other side was a great dark chamber containing a well of dim yet shimmering light as it’s only illumination. No exits appeared to be noticeable, so we began to search the room for clues as to what we were supposed to do. Bram noticed lettering in the darkness upon the broadest wall and urged Leuwiss to look by the light of a torch.

Leuwiss stated this was clearly an ancient Flan word puzzle! The carved words told a story resulting a clue spelled out in meaning “Great Soul” which we now had to figure out what that meant in relation to the well of light. Echo said he could see a large mirrored surface at the bottom of the well, so we investigated further. By their very nature, mirrors reflect, so Leuwiss looked skyward and noticed another mirror on the ceiling tilted slightly toward the wall with the Flan writing. Bram and Leuwiss began to think of what a “Great Soul” might do and we determined that, given the task at hand, a great soul might sacrifice something by throwing it into the well.

Quickly we did an inventory of our items and decided to toss a coin into the well. When we did, we realized that the light pulsed for but a second! Bram said that we should perhaps throw something of value into the well. Leuwiss loosened the large topaz from my staff and lobbed it carefully into the well, knowing the appraisal of the gem to be valued over 5000 gold coins in Greyhawk, especially since he just had it enchanted with a Continual Light spell.

The well’s light began to grow and brighten as had been hoped! The beam of light bounced from mirror to mirror, bathing the entire room in a bright orange-white light, forcing us all to shield our eyes for fear of going blind. This light was followed by a high pitched whistle, a comforting heat, and the sound of the wall with the writing crumbling into non-existance. When the beam subsided in strength, we uncovered our eyes to see the beam bouncing now through the wall to another series of mirrors and working it’s way deeper into the dark below. At once, a sound of a great flame being ignited could be heard echoing up from the chamber below.

Carefully we crept down another set of rough hewn stairs that probably hadn’t been walked on for 2000 years. Below, on a great and final landing we witnessed a huge column of living fire. It addressed us as we approached asking if any of us was “worthy of being the hero to claim the light.” We bantered and wondered who might take the elemental creatures challenge in our diminished group. Leuwiss muttered to himself that this was something silly that D’arcon might try, when Echo stepped up to accept the mantle of the hero.

The great cylinder of fire opened, like a curtain, and beckoned echo to enter. A few short moments later, Echo was cast out roughly and unconscious against the stones behind us! Leuwiss thought of offering D’arcon up and Bram argued this might be incredibly unwise if we are to see if we can save our friend from “the sleep that never ends”.

As if on cue, we found ourselves not alone, but in the presence of our current employer and the rescued half-elven Bard that spent many years trapped in the form of a bluebird. The Mage of the Valley quickly held up his hand and held us firm with sorcery! He did an inventory of our group, clucked his tongue, removing a glass vial and dropper from a pocket drawing up a vial of D’arcon’s blood!

“I’ll need the blood of this one to complete my ritual. A shame, really. I grew fond of him too, even if only initially for the spell component. Go on,” the Mage urged the bard forward to claim the mantle of the hero.

Tannis looked at us sheepishly, or was it with panicked worry, and stepped gingerly into the parted fire emerging wild-eyed and in firm grasp of the most beautiful bow I’d ever laid eyes on.

“Come, Tannis. I’ll need you and the bow to return with me back to the Vale. It holds the final secret I desire.” And with that, he touched the bard on shoulder, glaring at us, “Goodbye.”

And with that, they both vanished nearly as quickly as they had appeared. We had failed our final mission for the mercurial Mage.

With the Hold spell released and now alone, we gathered up D’arcon’s remains in his ruined robes and out into the sunlight of Vesve tree canopy. Our guides waited for us outside, telling us they planned on waiting two more days before abandoning us to our fates. Here we hiked for two days where we came to an elven encampment where D’arcon’s body was blessed by a cleric, binding his spirit to his body. This, of course, came with a warning that we had 7 days to get the help he’d need or there would be “consequences dire” for our friend and all of us.

Upon returning to our ship, we found my eager sister and a new Wolf Nomad encampment now set up outside of our ship. No doubt, this was of her doing, explaining later to me that it was for “her protection”. A knife so small, yet so sharp were her words.

We paid our guides well, thanked them, handed out some sweets as gratitude, and prepared our flying ship while giving Bram a tour of the vessel before taking off for home in Greyhawk. Bram decided this would be wonderful and decided to come along. His company certainly brightened my thoughts, though they were quickly steered into what we might do to yet save our friend, D’arcon, from his currently sticky fate.

The following day, we made a trip to Tenser’s Fortress of the Unknown Depths to ask the mage to perform a mighty spell to resurrect our friend, D’arcon.

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Into The Vesve

Before we ventured to obtain a magical bow for the Mage of the Valley, we decided an overnight stop in the city of Greyhawk was needed to drop off the agreed upon portions of treasure gained and check on any matters personal that needed to be tended.

A petulant elf, claiming to be an envoy from the Ambassador to Celene, approached us before we could enter the candy store or D’arcon’s now finished domicile, but we quickly shoo’d him away. With D’arcon’s home fully repaired, he set about arranging to have it painted and redecorated, choosing plants for his garden and artisans to make long-lasting, quality furniture.

In the candy shop, a mysterious series of incidents took place in our absence. Two of the warehouse cats were found dead, apparently bludgeoned to death. Several of the gnomes have either fallen ill or have abandoned their posts at work. Klive had found some tampering with some of the steam-run equipment and had it quickly repaired, but there was a strange matter of several batches of candy were befouled by some unknown manner. The Spelloyal family has gone on to hire mercenaries to guard the place at night as they ramped up production of the Idani Whips for the Midsummer Festival week.

After all business was taken care of we left once again under the cover of darkness with a ship stocked with supplies and plotted a course to the Sepia Uplands. This way, we were on the other side of the Vesve forest, away from the forces of Iuz and more likely to run into friendly people who might serve as guides to our destination.

D’arcon, Echo, Leuwiss and Tokala sat down to dinner prepared by Leuwiss’ sister, Marjolaine, and then retired to various corners to study books and the maps. Before we could really settle down for the night we became aware of a rapping on the outside hull of the ship. It seems that our ship had attracted some of the Wolf Nomads and became very curious.

We greeted these folk and invited them in. We talked for a bit and inquired if we could have two guides, paid of course. After the haggling was over we shared food and agreed to set out first thing in the morning.

When dawn broke, we had breakfast and entered into the lush, dark canopy of the Vesve led by our Flan guides. There was some talk by our guides of “The Velvet Queen” who has taken over a large part of the northern part of the forest. We were entertained by the tale until we entered a mossy basin and were attacked by Needlemen. The plant creatures continued to pepper our guides and ourselves with the stinging needles and we had to act fast. Leuwiss maneuvered himself around the slow moving creatures and in an act of desperation, lobbed a great ball of fire into the large grouping of them. The group quickly picked the stragglers off and our guides put out the flame damage before Leuwiss set the Vesve alight.

The second day of travel brought us into the path of some gnome tomb raiders carrying a gold idol. D’arcon decided he’d have fun with them and scared them out of their treasure. Echo and Leuwiss admonished D’arcon for this act. We also attracted the curiosity of some giant crows, but they left us alone. Later that night, a large group of kobolds with a Scarlet monk captive happened by. We scattered the kobolds and questioned the monk, leaving the bastard tied to a tree where orcs could find him.

The third day was rather uneventful until a large group of bandits tried to bully us out of our belongings and treasure. They managed to take the gold Flan idol but we bluffed our way out of a sticky situation with some seemingly “powerful” magics. The dolts left with the idol and we were unharmed, thanks to some ingenuity, a protection spell and some flashy cantrips!

Before the end of the third night, we found the entrance to the Flan catacomb we sought but unfortunately a small band of the Scarlet menace were camped out in the front, along with two rather terrifying primates.

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