Greyhawk

Vedra's Horn - Part 2
Killing a Dragon

Vedra appeared in true form before the party and bit and slashed at the Ranger in a rage.

Quickly, the group sprang into action. Leuwiss and the Ranger distracted the old, white dragon (Vedra) while D’Arcon ran up the wall and onto the ceiling of the large stone room with his magic boots. Leuwiss cast a Ray of Enfeeblement at the dragon to make it weaker while the Ranger readied and fumbled with his arrows.

Leuwiss prepared a Web spell creating a mass of orange webbing while Echo sliced into the trapped dragon as it howled in pain. With the dragon trapped, D’arcon pounced upon the back of the dragon and drove a dagger into it’s flesh trying to force it to submit. The dragon tried to beg for her freedom, offering up the location of her sought after horn. Leuwiss was not convinced that she would not set about hurting us while we looked about, ordered the party to quickly set about killing her for her treachery.

D’arcon supervised the slicing and dicing of the various useful bits of the dragon flesh, making the Ranger do most of the dirty work so that Leuwiss and D’arcon could divide up the treasure in the treasure room. With everything taking several hours, hauling the treasure and dragon hide and various spell components out, we were confronted by several of Vedra’s handmaidens – strange pale dwarves.

When all threats were removed and we could come and go to and from our ship we made it back to the Mage of the Valley’s castle with Vedra’s horn. This pleased and surprised the Mage that we were able to retrieve it and healed our wounds, especially D’arcon’s badly hurt legs and the Ranger’s cuts and bites. Having had enough of our party, the Ranger has decided to take his leave of our group and not wanting any further help from us, like a journey in the ship back to the city of Greyhawk.

The Mage informed us that there was one last task that needed to be accomplished. Being much to busy preparing… something… he told us we must gain possession of an ancient bow used to fight Vecna long ago. The item, possibly Flan in origin, was a powerful weapon and it somehow held the last puzzle piece for whatever the Mage was researching. The Shadow Sages have provided our party with a map of the location of the bow called “Liga’s Light” at the Mage’s behest.

Not only must we travel to the deep, dark and dangerous Vesve Forest, but we must also race against two other competing groups. One party from the Scarlet Brotherhood and another group coming from the Empire of Iuz.

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Vedra's Horn - Part 1

The Shadow Sages marked on our map the approximate location of some sort of prison which was said to hold this mysterious “Vedra’s Horn”. Not having much more information than that, we weren’t quite sure what our objective was. Armed only the knowledge that “a horn in a magical mountain prison” was within a “large stone depression on the side of a mountain” that needed to be found, was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Past the tree line we found a place to set down the ship. It took a day of searching and a conversation with a tribe of Aarakocra to locate the large stone-paved circle a mile north of their nesting grounds. As their leader said, a 50 foot circle laid long long ago in a flat area on the mountainside finally showed itself to us. The Ranger remarked that the flora around the place was minimal because of the elevation, but noted that the native mosses didn’t grow on the stones. More alarming still, the center, plug-shaped door had relatively new hinges and were well oiled.

We stepped into a large room with a stone statue head that beamed a sickly green light onto us and uttered a curse upon our heads, then fell silent. We shrugged it off as there were no real immediate effects.

The next “room” we stumbled into had the look and appearance of a raucous tavern. After 4 days and several tries by Leuwiss to snap the party out of it and to their senses, D’arcon and then the Ranger were pulled from this illusory death trap considerably physically weaker.

Heading away from this place, the party came to a room with many old mouldering tapestries. The tapestry room hid several passageways from view, including a hideout of a fugitive thief. He had piles of random things in a cleared out room at the end of a winding hall filled with warning booby traps to alert him he had visitors. He took us by surprise but we were able to subdue him and he bargained for his life. He’d escaped from the Vale and had a few things of value, but D’arcon took a chest of gems and hid it in another room to take later.

After a long series of winding halls, strange noises, and twisting back and forth, we came to what we falsely believed to be the room with our prize, the Horn of Vedra, sitting on a raised pedestal, displaying it triumphantly for all the see. D’arcon scaled the wall with his magic slippers where he thought he could pluck it from it’s resting spot safely, having earlier fallen into a pit. Instead, the thieving illusionist was nearly crushed to death by an upward movement, pinning his legs and smashing the “horn” to pieces!

Hurt badly, D’arcon was partially healed by the Ranger’s only healing potion. Leuwiss determined that the “horn” was made of plaster and was not the horn we were looking for. We began our search again.

We twisted and turned, getting seriously lost in the complex and came to a portal of sorts. A white mist swirled in the open archway. Though seamless, we all passed through without incident and came to a hall of statues. These statues were from a time long since past, judging by the clothing worn and artistic interpretation, Leuwiss stated. D’arcon fixed on a woman statue with two small children, dusting off a plaque that lamented their loss. This statuary was to make somebody remember the past. Their past.

D’arcon said that a thick wire under the base of the statue could be seen, but he had a hard time figuring out just how and what the mechanism was to trigger it. Thirty minutes passed before he pushed down on the outstretched arms of the female figure, causing the statue to slide to the side revealing a dark staircase downward.

The stairs opened into a room filled with riches beyond our wildest dreams! Gold, electrum, statues, clothing, and extravagant personal grooming items were littered about in a neat fashion. D’arcon fell backwards into a mound of coin as if he had practiced the move inside his head for as long as he could remember. Leuwiss’ eyes went immediately to a incredibly red robe but remarked that there was not a horn to be seen.

While everyone went about going over the items in this room, we failed to notice a woman in white gowns appear at the foot of the stairs.

“I see you’ve found my riches,” she stated coldly. Her long ice-white hair, parted in the middle and her cheekbones were sharp and looked lightly brushed with pale blue cosmetics.

D’arcon tested her patience by dropping a platinum filigreed statue of a griffon. While she only seemed mildly perturbed by this apparent act of clumsiness, she beckoned us to rescue her from this prison that held her and her “handmaidens”. This was the fabled Vedra. After several rounds of questioning from us, she grew very impatient and we foolishly followed her to a room that held the key to her escape. When Leuwiss stated that “we weren’t here for this side trek,” she led us into a trapped room where we were almost covered in ice by an apparition of a dragon’s head. We abandoned Vedra’s cause and went back to the treasure room we found earlier.

This made Vedra VERY angry.

When she appeared again in the doorway to her treasure trove, she revealed herself to be a massive and ancient white dragon!

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Kingdom For A Song
The companions liberate a songbird from Celene

After a brief by the mysterious Council of Shade about a song bird that must be brought back alive from an inn in Celene, The Bluebird, we set off for the Faerie Kingdom of Celene. Seemingly, a simple task at first glance, this turned into anything but.

We set down several miles outside of the capitol, Enstad, and hiked into it’s wide gardens, farmland which eventually gave way to majestic rock, trees, and buildings that seemed to grow organically into it’s current forms and blend with it’s surroundings. Signing into the city with relative ease, we made our way to the Bluebird Inn.

D’arcon made little time between our arrival to the establishment and the interrogation and began to ask questions about the bird that the inn was so aptly named. Not only did he gather that the bird would be moved and brought before Queen Yolande to “brighten her spirits”, but the line of questioning drew suspicion and before we knew it we’d have an entire city, if not nation, pursuing us.

As the city guards were summoned, D’arcon flew into action creating chaos where none existed moments before. Quickly he cast a sphere of darkness, thrust a bird cage into Leuwiss’ hands and made him invisible.

“Run!”

As the barkeep swung wildly into the darkness with a sword and with people now in utter panic, pouring out of the bar and into the streets, D’arcon, Echo, and the Ranger joined the crowds, each going their separate way. Being invisible, Leuwiss had no problem slipping out of the city walls and back to the ship. When one hour became four or more, Leuwiss knew something had befallen the rest of the crew.

Tokala, Leuwiss’ faithful fox familiar, was instructed to infiltrate the city and track the companions down. D’arcon later relayed to Leuwiss, the crafty fox swiped keys to the gaol tower where they were all held and they made a dangerous escape, setting many other prisoners free as well until a mob was formed and overtook the gaol by sheer numbers. The bird, it seems, had the “magical ability” to lighten the moods of others, something that those who surrounded the isolationist Queen saw as a way to move forward and get past the death of her beloved consort many, many generations ago. Upon Tokala’s return and the feeling relayed to him by my fox, and given past actions by the crew, Leuwiss took to the skies.

His sister, Marjolaine, proving to be more of a help than anyone ever might have thought imaginable, cried from the ballista deck, “There! Starboard! And there! Portside!”

Tokala and Marjolaine struggled and dropped the anchor with some difficulty. Everyone understood, this would be their means of escape. D’arcon was first to be picked up. Echo and the Ranger, running from knights on horseback, were picked up after Leuwiss swung the anchor through a grouping of the knights in pursuit, knocking them like pins stood on their ends. Being of keen mind, all clambered up the rope and reeled it in.

“We’ve got company! To the ballistas!” Leuwiss ordered.

Celenese Knights on hippogryphs came for us. D’arcon, in a moment of conscience, questioned whether we should harm them and Leuwiss explained he just needed bought time to reorient the direction and purpose of the ship. They came at us and flung arrows at the ship. An airborne knight struck D’arcon in the shoulder as another circled around and attempted to land on the ship. A ballista round was spent and whizzed by two of the Knights while Echo helped reload the ballista with D’arcon. The ranger took out one hippogyphs mounted with a knight. Leuwiss signaled, via his sister, that we would be headed to wildspace. Everyone held on tight as we bucked the unsure footing of the knight and his steed attempting to board, sending both cartwheeling off the sides of the rounded tortoise-shaped roof.

Safely far into Oerth’s atmosphere, D’arcon began to explain that he thought the bird wasn’t a bird at all, but something intelligent. D’arcon demonstrated his hunch by asking the “bird” yes or no answerable questions. Astonished by this discovery, Leuwiss decided return back down and into Greyhawk after nightfall.

“We’ll need Simone,” Leuwiss said as we walked along the 4th floor of the Spelloyal candy shop. Out into the streets we marched, over to The Fat of the Hog where Simone resided in the apartment there. Simone, startled, answered the door in full armor and knives drawn. She’d been training, she explained, and D’arcon burst into her apartment with the bird in a cage.

“You brought me a bird,” She dead-paned sarcastically, “How thoughtful.”

D’arcon quickly explained that we stole the bird from an inn, in Celene, and he has strong reason to suspect that the bird was a person. Being completely business, Simone said she’d be back in an hour with help. She had a favor to call in to a priest of St. Cuthbert.

In the hour that came, Simone was back. And in her company, a dozy-eyed old coot who I assumed was a cleric. He asked us to be quiet as he donned a cap and a holy symbol and asked for a curse to be lifted. Motes of light appeared around the bird and soon there stood a young grey elf man who, no more than 20 human years of age!

The cleric quickly wrapped his cloak around the elven man’s modesty and muttered at us under his breath. Simone exchanged the cloak for a set of clothes as they were both roughly the same size. The elf began an outpouring of thanks to all of us. Simone quickly wrapped up the business with the cleric on the side with some agreed understanding.

The elf, Tanniske, explained that a hag witch, Black Agnes, turned him and his adventuring companions into animals and sold them off. Some were dinner for her cat. Leuwiss rudely jumped ahead and guessed he was a bard, due to his storytelling and he confirmed this to be true. D’arcon asked him if he knew of a song. A song that not many people might know and he confirmed that, yes, indeed he had. We informed him that he had to sing it for a great mage, which considering his recent state, he didn’t seem to mind.

And off we went, returning to the Valley of the Mage to collect on our rewards.

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Audience With The Mage

After 3 days of being cooped up in our own quarters, due to none of us wanting to be followed everywhere around the village of Moonhollow, we were somewhat happy to get the rap on the door at the rear of our ship.

Leuwiss opened the door to see Nyeru Darkspring and two guards. After he made some rather pointed comments about the wait, the sudden arrival of our hosts brought everyone out of their chosen rooms into the meeting area, including a very peculiar choice for Echo to appear as a woman.

It was explained to us that we had come during the monthly tribute to the Mage and that it was most fortuitus that The First Protector has finally convinced The Exalted One to extend that invite to us as well. Nyeru Darkspring offered to guide Leuwiss, basically instructing him to follow the headwaters of the Javan River. After 30 minutes, we came to a mist filled clearing and large lake and when the mists momentarily broke, what we saw was breathtaking. Not only did the Javan River flow out to the Azure Sea, it also flowed back deep under the mountain, into a mouth of a gargantuan cave into the fabled Underdark! As we slowly approached this lake a series of waterfalls cascaded down the face of the mountain, but around a strange outcropping of rock. Upon this, stood a dark citadel, with one main tower, a walled garden and some interesting outlying structures. We were instructed to land on this large flat structure where we were greeted by more guards and a female drow.

The First Protector, Tysiln San, stood with a large grouping of ominous looking black robed guards. Nyeru Darkspring waved at her from the ballista deck and she, in turn, waved back to approve our landing. Cordial as our greeting was, Leuwiss and the drow exchanged odd stares.

“Welcome to Evershadow!” Tysiln San introduced herself as if she was a seasoned diplomat. With the pleasantries over, we were escorted to the “Guest Tower” through the lush walled garden. People were here and there in utterly secure states of being, lounging on grass fields, admiring the flora, or walking the pathways under the misty atmosphere. As guests of honor, we’d be inhabiting the top floor, with the rest of the Vale’s Honorable Citizens chosen from the best of the best to give the required monthly gift to Mage would be staying on floors below. Food, wine, soft bedding, and that nagging feeling that we were being watched came complimentary of the staff.

The stay overnight was pleasant and in the morning we rose to a breakfast brought to our room, washed, helped into our garments, and told to follow the stairs to the garden until lunch. This was a rather prestigious honor for the citizens here and everyone dressed the part to which we followed suit. The garden was a twilight paradise with glowing mounds of fungus from the Underdark next to shady trees, showy flowers, and dotted with fountains, benches, and pathways. If the parkland wasn’t varied enough, the crowd invited filled in the rest of the gaps. Halflings talked with elves, elves of different types traded pleasant conversation with dwarves, and even an efreeti freely mingled amongst the garden guests. There were even humanoid creatures that defied our knowledge, and while all so different, everyone seemed to strive for the common good and livelihoods herein.

When the luncheon banquet bell rang, everyone filed orderly into the Guest Tower to a joining bridge to the Main Tower and marched through two large doors depicting the Mage and the First Protector facing each other. From behind these doors rose a pink marble staircase which contrasted sharply from the moss colored stonework of the exterior that ascended to a grand hall, now currently filled with tables with a raised platform at the far end. On this platform was a high-backed purple chair which sat a man with a mound of dark curls.

We were to be seated near The Exalted One, no more than a stone’s throw distance. He nodded in acknowledgement to us as we took our seats. A meal was served in grand style and while the atmosphere was festive, it was also subdued. Everything in this land seemed to happily play it’s part, flirting with it’s counterpoint. Nothing too bright, too loud, and everything dark had it’s light.

Hours were spent feasting while a pre-drawn lottery determined which group from this or that village would present it’s gift. Sculpture and art of all types, weaponry, fine horses, exotic birds, and magical items were brought before The Exalted One. Most things were greeted with a weak smile and a nod and only when The Exalted One was really impressed would he ask questions or request a story as to how the gift came to be. At the end of the procession, The Exalted One chose his favorite giving the winner an amazing piece of jewelry.

When this was all finalized, a large black panther entered the hall and approached the dais and changed into a man! This man seemed to deliver pleasing news to the Mage and then he was approached by Nyeru Darkspring and given some information that please him even more. When the Mage stood, he walked over to us to inform us that our tasks were to be given.

“The Shadow Sages request an audience with your group. Would you follow me, please.” It was here and several occasions after, The Exalted One would cough silently into a dark colored handkerchief.

Ahead of us and across the hall stood a single, large, reinforced wooden door. Nyeru opened the door for The Exalted One, the First Protector and ushered us inside. This hemispherical room’s walls were clad in exotic wood stained the deepest darkest black and rose high above our heads to form ornate benches in which sat 12 mysterious and dark individuals. While one could make out the sex of these people, nothing more could be discerned due to the fact that their hoods only showed their eyes.

In front of us was a small, sturdy table draped with a black cloth and golden tassels around it’s edging. A being in the middle extended his arm with his palm facing this table. Upon it appeared a deck of ivory plaques or cards.

“Who will cut the deck?”

D’Arcon volunteered for this duty quickly, cutting the deck and placing the cut portion on top of the other half. He was then instructed to pull three cards. After he had done so, the remaining deck disappeared. He then turned these three cards over.

A blue bird. A white horn. A red bow with no string.

“Your first task is to liberate a bird from the elvish city of Enstad from an Inn – your easiest task. Second, you must penetrate a magically sealed prison south of here to bring us Vedra’s Horn. With these two items, we can unlock the location of the third item, a magical bow called Liga’s Light. These tasks must be done in order.”

D’Arcon later scoffed at this “parlor trick” of these 3 tasks and questioned how “unknown” they actually were. Leuwiss had to concur as this was done to distract from the real trick which was quite unknown to all of us.

What we did find curious was occasionally The Exalted One would cough silently into a dark handkerchief.

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Who's Laughing?

Our celebration in the elven village was short-lived. From the tree line came the most unearthly laugh, a deep guttural warbling. Suddenly the villagers scattered and ran to their homes. D’Arcon grabbed the arm of an valley elf, named Vandal, who explained we were all about to be attacked by gnolls.

Three, seven foot tall dog-faced furies sprung forth from the undergrowth all wielding bardiches in single hand! Quickly we struck first, D’arcon with an illusion of an angry red dragon from his new wand and Leuwiss, with a ray of enfeeblement. The Rhennee ranger fumbled for arrows as Echo stepped in to critically injure the enfeebled gnoll as the other two yelled to their troop hiding in the tree line to retreat into the mountains. Echo turned triumpantly away from the slumped pile of hyena fur with a small sack of coinage in his hand.

We stayed the night in the village with Legrand at the idani orchard while D’arcon had a tryst with the elf, Vandal, while permission was sought to bring the ship into the valley.

We were then given permission to pilot our ship in next to the village so that meant we had to hike back to where we had landed at the mouth of the valley. Halfway into the journey our passage was impeded by a large, carnivorous ape. It charged at Echo and he dodged. The thing beat the ground and bellowed and pounced on D’arcon, biting and clawing at him. Everyone sprung into action with swords, magic missiles, and arrows and put the raging thing down. D’arcon was badly wounded and the ranger bound his wounds.

Very little happened until we reached Tortuga, aside from being followed by the “Tree People” – a lost tribe of humans who inhabit the treetops in the valley. They just watched us return to our ship. Leuwiss’ disappointment came when we boarded to find his sister ,Marjolaine, a stow-away, gleefully making breakfast. After some very stern words and making her understand she’s probably been reported missing and given our little escapade with the Scarlet Brotherhood before we left Greyhawk, the Spelloyals were probably beside themselves.

After breakfast, we piloted the ship to the elven village and landed in the lake nearby. We loaded the idani fruit into cargo with help from the elves, made payment, and were approached again by First Captain Darkspring. He offered that if we were interested in performing some unknown tasks to be discussed when we returned, we’d be rewarded. D’arcon opted to stay behind while we took our cargo up and then down again into Greyhawk City.

Upon return to the Valley, we knew several things. The Scarlet Brotherhood were “gone” but Simone was working her contacts to find more information out, fears grew in Greyhawk with violent attacks on the rise and people beginning to whisper wildly about the state of affairs there, and D’arcon was extremely uneasy about anything we did or said. Upon our return we were instructed to land at another larger town called Moonhollow, deeper in the valley. This is where they had moved D’arcon for questioning.

D’arcon and Leuwiss had a very lively, yet quiet debate in the corner of an inn in Moonhollow where Leuwiss was enlightened to the various methods in which information was quickly passed to those in power in the Vale. D’arcon seemed somehow less happy about the idea of coming to the Vale. During questioning, he met this mysterious “First Protector”, a drow named, Tysiln San. She insisted on doing the interrogation herself. It seemed they had searched our ship when we were making our way into the Vale, took samples of our hair from our beds, and nearly had Vandal executed for letting D’arcon know casually about the Vale’s defenses while making pillow talk.

Also, because of the trouble we caused in Greyhawk, Leuwiss’ parents have asked him to also look after his sister. It seems the two warehouse cats were poisoned and several batches of candy were tainted with something and had to be disposed of immediately. This was in a period of 48 hours. Leuwiss has reluctantly taken his 8 year old sister on as a cabin boy, for all intents and purposes, at the behest of the Spelloyals.

After a few drinks at the inn and getting paranoid, we decided that it might be safer to talk amongst ourselves inside the confines of the turtle ship. In the relative privacy of the ship D’arcon let us know that the powers within the Vale were giving us time to talk. While Leuwiss was insistent that the Vale was a benevolent dictatorship, pointing to the high literacy rate and study of art, D’arcon felt that while they did promise to reward us with various things, including some vital information to D’arcon’s birth, he worried that we might find our lives snuffed out if we fell out of favor.

This idea in D’arcon’s head was only further fueled by how long we’ve waited in Moonhollow for word from our taskmasters, now on day two, causing the companions to get a little twitchy.

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Idani Orchard
Things were not what the seemed...

The elven village was tucked between the Barrier Peaks and a large lake. When we came to the village, we were greeted and we had to yet again show the official note of permission to be there. The village elder, an old female Valley elf, told us that the orchard we sought was to the north of the village a ways.

Suspicious eyes watched as we walked through town and came upon the manor. Finester Farm, was really nothing more than a two story log home. Large as it was it was surrounded by a great barricade of pointed logs to keep wandering creatures away from the home.

The place seemed quiet. That was until we approached the front door and heard somebody talking loudly, so we knocked. The talking stopped. We knocked again and somebody peered out the window. There was a note in a box next to the door that looked as if it had been in the elements for weeks. Abruptly, the double doors swung wide and a very distraught human male answered the door while five eerie elves stood clustered behind him.

We stated we’d come for the idani contract and hoped they’d be of some assistance. The elf family invited us in to eat and I spoke with them as to what our intentions were. Suddenly, D’arcon excused himself to the water closet feigning illness and immediately Leuwiss began to wonder what he had noticed that he had clearly not.

Food was spread out before us in a feast and we were all about to dig in when D’arcon appeared on the second floor balcony yelling, “Don’t eat anything!”

Our hosts were not amused.

I thought quickly on my feet and followed D’arcon’s lead, claiming we were all feeling a bit under the weather due to some bad food we had previously eaten. It wasn’t soon thereafter, a fight ensued between the family and our party.

Without provocation, D’arcon had made two sharp thrusts at the seated head of the family! Before anyone could speak as to what the meaning of this was, the family of elves moved in unison, sliding their chairs back and stood to begin the fight.

While nobody was looking, it seems the remaining human servant slipped a makeshift note into D’arcon’s pocket which he read in the water closet, alerting him that we were all in grave danger if we stayed. D’arcon decided he’d rescue this man from the clutches of what used to be a sweet and loving family up until 3 weeks ago.

After much of the food and furniture were overturned in the fight, the 5 doppelgängers were nothing more than pools of mercurial liquid oozing into the floorboards, we were thanked by the man for rescuing him from certain death. Much to my surprise we were given 500 pieces of gold and a diamond of great value.

The human servant, Legrand, informed us that three weeks ago the eldest son uncovered a strange stone in the walled garden in the back that was used to grow food for the household. The stone was lifted with ease and the elf descended below. Two days later, he reappeared and began acting strangely. One by one, the family were incapacitated late at night in some way and dragged below into the cave complex and replaced by a doppelgänger.

We were heralded as heroes by the locals in the elven village when we exited the manse. Though both D’arcon and Leuwiss spied a man dressed similarly to Nyeru Darkspring skirting the edges of the jubilant crowd, observing, and then quickly disappearing as quickly as he had came.

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Up, And Away!
To the Valley of the Mage

Leuwiss sent letters out to the Companions instructing them to meet at the Golden Pheonix in the Garden Quarter for dinner to celebrate before taking off. There was literally nothing Leuwiss could glean from colleagues or from Greyhawk’s great library doing research about the Valley of the Mage. The only thing Leuwiss could find was a basic map with barely anything marked on it and what was marked on it was cryptic at best.

Dinner went less celebratory than Leuwiss had hoped. Dinner and drink were flowing freely, on his coin, when we were interrupted by a delivery of what seemed to be nice gesture. A single bottle of wine, of a Celene vintage, made from hyacinth flowers sent from a “gentleman” from the private dining room. Through a wooden screen sat several local businessmen and the man that came into Leuwiss’ father’s shop and the ambassador from the Scarlet Sign! And they were laughing at us.

This whole time – the “pirates”, the misleading about town, the strange gemstone flower, the diversion out of town – everything was to run us about. But why?

Before Leuwiss could formulate any sort of idea of how to react, D’arcon marched over to them and created a huge scene. Threats were exchanged, but since the Pact of Greyhawk was no longer deemed valid, our adversaries were leaving town. This may be only partially true given who they were seated with. They were up to something and we were leaving for who knows how long.

We excused ourselves before we were asked to leave, something Leuwiss had to remind D’arcon of, and that we were members of the community and we were representing my family’s interests and he was to start acting like it. Back at the shop, everyone had gathered a trunk of their belongings, picked their rooms onboard the ship and we left under cover of darkness as requested by the Oligarchy since Leuwiss’ last trip away seemed to upset many people in the city. Needless to say, that day Leuwiss travelled alone to meet with Tenser caused the shop to sell out of most of it’s candy!

With the rooftop opened and the sky spread with sparkling constellations on this clear night, Leuwiss explained some of the nature of piloting a ship, the planets in our solar system and how this related to the Prime Material Plane and the other planes, speed of travel, and when Leuwiss felt that get too dry for everyone we told stories of what we’d been doing over the break.

But we had a message to deliver before we left Greyhawk and Leuwiss enlisted D’arcon in driving that message home. As we flew out of the 4th story, Leuwiss steered the ship over to the Shar Ambassador’s home and instructed D’arcon to fling the lit bottle of highly flammable liquor through the window of his home and took straight up into the sky. Good luck explaining that one to the Oligarchy!

The Rhenee Ranger, Echo, and D’arcon climbed up onto the Ballista Deck to marvel at Greyspace and the stars for a few moments when Leuwiss told them we were now far above Oerth. It was truly amazing.

Eventually they stepped down the ladder back into the bridge room and Leuwiss began our descent back to the surface, but neatly on the far side of the Flanaess, just a few short miles outside the Valley we planned to visit.

Our trip in was rather uneventful, save for a near confrontation with a large bear foraging and the pit we all nearly fell into. Having never seen a coconut tree before, D’arcon pointed out that might be something Leuwiss would want to take back with us. When we approached the tree, 3 large purple globes fell to the ground with a great splash and stench causing us all to double over in our own sick.

Soon we were surrounded by at least 20 valley elves with bows drawn and ready. Quickly we produced the official invite and we were marched to a peculiar guard tower where we were held overnight as “guests”. While we were well fed and cared for, we were also listened to and spied upon.

In any case, we were pleasant and D’arcon moped that we weren’t greeted by the Mage himself. Instead we got to talk to many elves, gnomes, a human druid and finally to some higher level flunky named Nyeru Darkspring. He was very short with us and all business, conveying regret that somebody called “The First Protector” would not be visiting on this day. Nyeru swept into the room, explained where the idani orchard was and how no contact has been made with the family that runs it for over two weeks and swept out of the room, only stopping to mark on our map where it was and he was gone.

As instructed we left in the morning and hiked our way northwest, deeper into the valley heeding the words of the land by not stealing anything or causing harm to the inhabitants. Fierce animals and the like were game but we didn’t stumble into any of these.

We followed the Javan river and came to a rocky outcropping where tiny men with cloven hooves burst forth from the dense undergrowth. A friendly sort, the clan Exalted, named for the protector of the valley, watched us closely until they could see we were not a threat. When we convinced them that we were friendly, they demanded stories from all of us. Before we knew it a spontaneous celebration broke out! Dancing, drinks, food were provided and a safe place to stay for the night. The korred clan explained to D’arcon in more detail as to the nature of the Exalted One and how busy he was.

In the morning, we woke to leftover fruit and meat, packed, thanked our hosts and continued onward. The Rhennee ranger talked with Echo on our march, as Leuwiss’ familiar, Tokala the fox, D’arcon and Leuwiss followed a path farther northwest coming across some abandoned huts and startling some antelope. The smell of jasmine hung heavy in the air. It’s no wonder the Black One chose this marvelous place to live.

Ahead was another small river that emptied into a lake. And near this lake was an elven village where that also contained the idani orchard.

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Surprise Direction

Back in Greyhawk, our group of adventurers see an ominous and shadowlike being enter the candy store. Quickly everyone files into the shop in pursuit. This being drops a strange note with a symbol on the front desk that Leuwiss recognizes as the symbol for the Mage of the Valley.

Left behind is an official invitation from the Black One himself to come to the Vale and renew the severely lapsed, one-time yearly idani fruit contract. Quickly, a spirited conversation between all the companions rang out discussing all things that they new about the Vale, the mystery Mage himself and how would we plan to get there?

That’s when Carter called the family together to reveal the big surprise on the not-so “secret” 4th floor. In the steam-powered lift, it was explained that three generations ago Leuwiss’ grandfather was a spice merchant. He travelled in a boat. A turtle shaped boat that has been hidden in the attic since then. With some new paint and alterations, the surprise was readied. The ship, Tortuga, is at the top of the Spelloyal’s Candy shop.

With invitation in hand, the adventurers are about to set out.

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The Crystal Spire

We came to a clearing where workers tended a valley where grapes were grown. D’arcon quickly noticed that they were all once human or humanoid but were now all greenish and more like plants than their former selves. Thankfully they ignored us and went about their tasks in the fields.

Nestled in the valley was a small cottage where we found some personal affects of a woman who came here many, many years ago. A sword and some elfin chainmail sat here unused. D’arcon discovered the woman’s diary and it covered her arrival here and promptly ended when a green comet crashed through the roof of the greenhouse roughly 90 years ago. In the false bottom of a closet were 4 healing potions we both needed. After finding nothing more of value, we travelled down to a small lake the surrounded the Spire.

The Crystal Spire was grown, either by great magics or occurred here naturally when Gleph settled upon this place. Magnificent archways, balconies and grand windows dotted it’s surface as it stretched hight into the sky. The place was a maze of staircases and rooms, most of them locked to us.

Growing very tired of this we paused to catch our breath. It was then, behind a set of doors, we heard a rustling. D’arcon picked the lock and we entered what must have been the living quarters for the odd wizard we woke from the island. D’arcon went about looking for valuables and Leuwiss poured over some books. Light curtains obscured a balcony just beyond a large down bed, a dressing screen, and a large armoire.

D’arcon discovered the badly wounded and unconscious Gleph inside the armoire. While Leuwiss placed Gleph in his bed, D’arcon found a robe and a wand. Leuwiss didn’t say anything as he had already taken a book and slipped it in next to the crystal that Leuwiss was sure held Echo’s life essence. D’arcon and Leuwiss wandered out onto the balcony and discovered an infant treant in a large half-barrel pot on the balcony amongst some flowers. It warned us of the Green Witch directly above and set about tending to Gleph’s wounds and we beat a hasty retreat up the stairs.

The passageway to the top of the tower was covered in thick vines and leaves, similar to a pumpkin patch, but only much, much more monstrous. An open archway revealed an open sky observation deck covered in foliage, three human sized pods on the floor and everything seemed to be emanating from a great green cyst that had attached itself to the wall. In the pods, we found a human male, a dwarf, and our companion Simone!

Before we could celebrate, the Green Witch appeared from the vines and commanded the vegetation to seal us in. D’arcon set about freeing the captives and Leuwiss quickly covered by distracting the Green Witch with a flurry of magic missiles from my wand. The Witch hit D’arcon with a sleep spell which had no effect and he set about digging away at the large cyst. This infuriated the Witch and she flung a slow spell at him. A Ray of Enfeeblement had no affect on her and she advanced with some rather nasty spells of her own. Just as she was upon us, Leuwiss covered her in a web spell, immobilizing her.

With the slow spell wearing off, D’arcon and Leuwiss set about smashing this huge egg-shaped emerald. It took many blows to the gem while the Witch looked on in horror, but it finally broke into a million pieces and the Green Witch was consumed in a column of vile green flame! The plants she controlled began to wither and die.

From the other side of the vegetation was a rather hale and affable Gleph and his small treant companion! Before D’arcon could explain his theft, the kind wizard told him to keep the wand and robe as payment for ridding his domain of the vile witch and the deadly artifact. In addition, Gleph agreed to open a gate to take us back to the cave entrance back on Oerth. We wished him the best, stepped through the gate, and met the druid and fighter companion camped outside of the caves.

With our treasure on our backs and experience under our belts, we made our way back to the bustling metropolis of Greyhawk.

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The Grand Greenhouse

We stood, regained our composure and decided where we’d set off first as the expanse of the Grand Greenhouse generated a fog preventing us to actually see the farthest end. Even though we could hear the waterfall that came from a large hole in the side of the greenhouse, there was an annoying clanging.

Before setting out we found the source of the sound and found several dwarves standing around 100 foot square pit with many clockwork gears protruding from it. Apparently, there was a creature in below the gear box that would need to be dispatched and the dwarves would tell answer any questions to the best of their ability once we had done so.

The “grunter” turned out to be a rust monster that had burrowed it’s way up from below. We descended a staircase of stone to the bottom of the pit to see that one of the gears was badly damaged. At the top of the hill we appeared on, there was a tower that housed a cord and a vehicle. Far into the distance on the other side of the greenhouse was a larger tower and these gears were some sort of clockwork device that enabled a vehicle to travel from one tower to the other, via the thick cord. In the ensuing melee, Simone lost one dagger on the thing and we set upon it as it feasted on the particles. Once it was destroyed we returned to question the dwarves.

A witch now lived in the tower on the other side of the greenhouse. She had eyes and ears everywhere and the dwarves were very twitchy about telling us why they feared her so much. Their original master, Gleph, hadn’t been seen in decades and they feared that the “Green Witch” was somehow to blame. Other than that, we were told the village elder or storyteller could relate the rest of the tale to us if we liked. When asked how we would return home, they were puzzled and decided the witch probably held the key to this problem.

We soon set off away from the dwarven workers and decided to steer clear of the village. All manner of large flora and fauna lived here, including many things we’ve never even imagined or heard of in our travels though there were more mundane encounters. For instance, we were able to shoo away a giant porcupine and a rather aggressive wild boar. What we didn’t count on was in a large clearing up ahead.

The clearing had several picked over bones and two desiccated dead bodies facing a hole in the ground. We decided we’d carefully circumvent the area but we alerted the inhabitants of the warren in the earth. From the ground floated bright red orbs, three feet around and with 6 eyestalks and three-fingered arms, eight in number! These horrible monsters attacked us and attached themselves to our backs trying to scratch and drain us of blood. When we struck them with a blade, they’d explode, further harming us. One of the bodies was of a druid in the same sect as Kevkas which we retrieved a rather bizarre scimitar.

While we hiked the wooded path, we periodically felt that we were being observed, and we hastened our journey until we came to a great lake that bisected the greenhouse. We could spy an island in the mist, halfway between us and the shore on the other side. It was covered in trees buy occasionally we could see a glint of something metal on the island. Without thinking much about what might be in the lake D’arcon once again, stripped down to swim across as none of us wanted to attempt it nor could Simone swim.

What surely should have been D’arcon’s watery grave, he managed to escape the maw of a giant goldfish and reached his destination. We could see him on the island and then he disappeared in the mists and foliage. Then a great flash of lightning told us he had triggered a trap! Leuwiss dove in and swam, but was bitten in the leg by the great fish, which hampered his ability to get there quickly and was tossed about the lakes surface as Leuwiss was almost food for the thing.

The remaining party trekked along the beach to the village and convinced a man with a boat to take them to the island to find out what had happened. On the island, Leuwiss found a very badly hurt D’arcon in front of a large laughing head of an idol. Inside the mouth was a very well preserved wizard we’ve come to recognize as Gleph. Luckily for D’arcon, Leuwiss saved his life with a potion he had taken with us in case of an unfortunate situation.

D’arcon decided that he wanted to search the body but before doing so, Gleph awakened and demanded to know what was going on! It seems we had disturbed his slumber as he was traveling the Astral Plane. We quickly explained how we came to be here and as soon as we mentioned a witch who had taken up residence in the tower, he teleported away.

Soon we were joined by our other companions who hired a boatman, who eventually took us to the other shore. The boatman told us an unlikely tale that 3 generations ago, the Green Witch rode a giant comet from the sky and landed here. In the distance there was a loud explosion and some otherworldly noises coming from the obscured distance, which lit up the outline of a twisted horn that pointed into the sky.

We hurried and set off toward the commotion, but were promptly harried by minions of the Green Witch. When the tower was in sight, we could see a figure on a balcony point at us. She sent 4 flying humanoid beings toward us to stall us and when we destroyed those, we were surrounded by dangerous vines with eyeballs on the ends. These proved to be very difficult to combat.

Simone, Echo and Leuwiss were all knocked out and dragged off. Leuwiss was saved by D’arcon from being pulled into the earth. It seems that our companions were less lucky. Simone was gone and Echo was utterly destroyed, leaving behind a large crystal that pulsed with life with the symbol of the archmage Tenser etched into it! Leuwiss tucked this away, balanced himself and we hurried to the Crystal Spire where we would surely find this witch.

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