Greyhawk

Ruins, Necklace, and an Invasion?

The day started out normal, with the air buzzing with thoughts of Needfest in everyone’s mind. D’Arcon was nowhere to be found and the priest of Farlanghan was busy in his faith’s chapel, tending to the road weary and exchanging stories about his travels. Simone and Erevis we’re busy appearing about town, merrily working out their backstory for their upcoming ploy.

Ranier Silverleaf was busy tending the druid’s circle and making new friends. An elven ranger had stumbled upon his very own Invitation in a box of Idani Whips at the Green Dragon Inn. Here, he heard tales of the mysterious fire that consumed the confectioners shop and decided to investigate. The druid came upon the ranger snooping around the Spelloyal ruin and sent his crow to find Leuwiss so the three could make plans and not sit idly by as the city came alive.

Leuwiss cheerfully became an impromptu tour guide, steering the trio away from the poor section of the city and getting them fitted for the approaching Winter Ball and gossiped about the Winter family, their philanthropic efforts and how they made their fortune in fur trade.

Somehow the trio ended up back at the Green Dragon Inn hoping for excitement when a group of seasoned adventurers came in swimming in coin, buying drinks and spreading some early Needfest cheer and generosity. The group overheard that the adventurers had just come from the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. It was decided that the three would travel aboard Leuwiss’ fantastic ship to the ruin and take their chances. They collected Echo for some muscle and took to the skies.

Unknown to the druid, mage and ranger – the ship contained two stowaways. The night previous, D’Arcon was busy setting Phase 1 of Simone’s plan: switching out the necklace Urden Winter wore around his neck for an exact copy. Urden Winter, a swordsman of dubious virtue and one of the two sons of Ralliman Winter, was an easy mark. Urden had a weakness for men, drink and gambling. D’Arcon played his part well, guided the drunkard to the quiet turtle ship docked at the wharf, and made the switch of the necklace after the drunken fool passed out. Sometime in the middle of the night, Urden woke with a start and snuck out of the ship while D’Arcon lightly slept.

Kel, the traveling priest, had just finished his long and fulfilling day at the chapel of Farlanghan and decided to walk the city at night. This is where Kel spied D’Arcon and Urden leaving the Wheel of Gold and tailed them. The priest, unsure of what was going on, snuck aboard the ship after the amorous pair to assure nothing bad was taking place. When nothing seemed out of the ordinary, Kel dozed off until mid-morning.

When Leuwiss was taking the druid and the ranger up the Selintan River, Kel and D’Arcon became aware that the ship was in motion. Kel and D’Arcon revealed themselves to the others. Apologies and introductions made, a course was set for the ruins of Castle Greyhawk.

The turtle ship was set down in a grassy field some short distance from the three decaying towers upon the hilltops that once was home to the mighty Zagyg. Now with a full party, Echo offered to stay behind and watch the ship. The towers, while abandoned, weren’t completely without life. As one of the most famous dungeons in all the land, it drew onlookers, adventurers, and the occasional sheepherder unafraid of its’ reputation.

The towers, while crumbling, were harder to gain access to their depths than one might imagine. After an hour, the ranger found a debris covered secret door that lead to a laboratory somewhere beneath the Tower of Zagyg.

The lab was the home to a mage and his kobold minions. The mage, unhappy with our intrusion, ordered us out. Silverleaf attacked the mage with biting insects and the cranky magician fled to the darkened halls below. The kobolds, larger than we had ever seen put up a good fight but were no match for the coordination of The Companions! While the equipment in the lab would net a hefty sum back in the city, the group opted to leave the fragile stuff behind. D’Arcon decided he’d try some of the food the mage was concocting for his kobolds and nearly poisoned himself. The mage left behind a notebook and diary that gave the group more information on this mage, coming from the Bandit Kingdoms to the north.

The mage blocked the door with a wall of ice, delaying us from continuing on. Quick thinking from the group prompted experimentation with the liquids in the beakers upon the ice wall and eventually we were through the temporary barrier!

The group descended the depths and came to some sort of living quarters, long abandoned by followers of Zagyg. A curious set of tapestries in a room told a narrative detailing three points in Zagyg’s long life. The first tapestry depicted Zagyg as The Lord Mayor of Greyhawk with cheering crowds. The second tapestry showed the man Zagyg near some mysterious device with him engulfed in energy. The third tapestry showed Zagyg flying up, arms extended to the heavens.

The group spent some time snooping around here until another passageway was found, bisected by a natural cavern filled with mud. The Companions fought valiantly against a neo-otyugh with Bo-Bo taking serious damage from a powerful bite and D’Acon hurled against a wall and winded. The beast was tough but fell to the ranger’s well-placed arrows blinding it and natural magic when the druid hurled acorns into the neo-otyugh’s gullet, impaling it upon a mighty oak tree that sprung from it’s rocky insides.

It’s death revealed 12 rough gemstones and a considerable treasure in electrum coin. Healing and conversation took place next. The group decided to press on, deeper into the depths. At the end of a long hall, voices could be heard.

A man, answering to Vayne and wearing Iuzian symbols upon his clothing, and a mysterious woman bickered about something while a hobgoblin stood near them listening. Apparently, the woman was insubordinate to Vayne and he was displeased with her. He wouldn’t tolerate it when he gloated that his “plans for invading Greyhawk would not stop. The invasion force of orcs was almost ready.” Vayne took leave and went further below while the woman went back to researching furiously in a library.

D’Arcon became invisible and decided to take a closer look. He saw she was making notes focusing on a collection of tomes penned by Zagyg himself where some machine was repeatedly referenced. Either because the woman was sharp or perhaps it was something else, she detected D’Arcon and nearly burned him to a cinder with a well placed, yet weak, lightning bolt. Quickly, the group made a hasty retreat with the druid sealing the passageway with rock.

Teamwork removed the tapestries found earlier and brought them to the turtle ship and back to Greyhawk. Some hours later, Leuwiss had run off to speak with some contacts about their discoveries. An emergency meeting of the oligarchy was convening and it seems The Companions would be interrogated within the hour. The group was being summoned to The Grand Citadel!

Decisions would need to be made by the group…

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Return to Greyhawk

While we ate and talked and took in the comforts of the Fortress of Unknown Depths, Simone and Erevis returned to Greyhawk ahead of us to prepare their little scheme. Simone has her eyes on some sort of statuette that is now in the hands of the Winter Estate, a petty “noble” in Greyhawk known for their philanthropy.

Leuwiss planned on the retrieval of the deed to the property his parents shop and several of their recipe books hidden in a secret compartment near the 2nd floor fireplace. More importantly, the group was to see what the priestess of Celestian that Tenser mentioned has to say about the notes taken from Rary’s followers and this coming midwinter prophesy.

All grim seriousness aside, it will soon be Needfest.

We flew most of the way down the Selintan River until we reach Zagyg’s Bridge and then sailed the rest of the course to the Wharf District and put down anchor. We arrived at the docks with minor problems and signed in the gate at the Foreign Quarter. It seems Leuwiss’ appearance frightens some of the locals and think he’s a vampire.

Durg, the large fighter, left our group to head toward the lower quarters of the city with a poster in hand. It seems he is going to try his hand in the fighting arena known as “The Pit”. Bloodraven, our monk, has decided that time at the temple of Zuoken shall do him some good.

D’Arcon made mention that he’d like to check in with his estate and make sure everything was running smooth, but here is where we have our first problem. The lights were on in the home but the help didn’t look familiar. The impatient and chaotic D’Arcon stormed up to the front door and demanded an audience with the person now inhabiting his home. Nobody expected to see the face of the dwarven tax collector, Dorshak Crane, descend the stairs.

Ignoring the two heavily armed guards at the door, D’Arcon brandished a dagger and threatened to slit the dwarf’s throat! Quickly, Leuwiss put a hand on D’Arcon to not only keep him from harms way, but in the hopes of gaining a clearer picture of what had transpired while we were away on our task for Tenser the Archmage.

It seems that Dorshak Crane, now at full mental faculty, was cured of his dementia and had resumed ownership of the estate! As D’Arcon cooled down a bit, we was able to find out that a cleric was sent at the behest of Lord Winter to cure him – the very man we are to take a tiger statue from in a 3 weeks time. And because he was no longer a threat to the general populace, Dorshak was released and was provided papers to reclaim his former estate. It seems somebody knowledgeable of Greyhawk City law exploited the 7 Year Residency loophole, barring anyone not living in Greyhawk for 7 years total from owning property, and had all the necessary paperwork ready for him to sign, thus kicking D’Arcon out of his home and onto the streets!

We thanked the dwarf for the information, retrieved the documents and books from the 2nd floor candy shop secret compartment with aid from D’Arcon and made our way to the Druid’s Gate where the elf and priest were likely waiting for us. It seems that Ranier Silverleaf, our elven druid companion, has made quick friends of the centaur and two druids who tend the stone circle. He has made some sort of makeshift shelter and workshop here. Kel, the priest of our group, was also in attendance, eager to meet with the Celestian priests up the hill at the Grey Observatory.

At the Grey Observatory, a joint venture between clerics of Celestian and the Grey College, we met with the priestess, Carol Sagaan. A mere glance at the notes the elf and priest had prepared had Carol sweeping us into her private chamber to talk quietly. While she knew that the solstice that was to take place this winter was significant, she was quite unaware of the other information and her face was ashen grey. She informed us that a gate would open and into our universe a great power would come forth. A power called The Spelljammer. She was able to describe the fabled manta ray shaped ship for us with a few frightening accounts of witnesses disappearing forever once they boarded it, for it contained a vast city that seemed to spring from it’s very back. She used some sort of magical ritual, pressing our book of notes against another blank book, enabling her to have an exact copy of it’s contents now in the pages of the blank tome. She informed us that the planets would all align opening a gate at the center of the Sisters, a constellation of 9 starlike objects, on the same night as the Winter Ball.

At “Lady Davenshire’s” manor, Simone’s persona claiming to be from Veluna, we regrouped with this information and shared it with our friends. While indeed grim, this information was taken into account and put aside for our next task as a group. Lady Davenshire, was attended by Erevis who acted as her consort and body guard. It was here that were informed of the Winter family, with Lady Davenshire opening the kitchen curtain where we could see the large estate cross the way. The two sons were noted, one with a penchant for gambling and attractive men with the other a petulant minor mage I know from my studies at the Wizard’s College. The daughter saw to the household needs of the Winter estate. The prize, a single tiger statuette with gemstone eyes, was our target. In the meantime, everyone was to assume roles at the estate as cover.

Simone described each person of note, tasking D’Arcon to befriend and seduce the gambling son with the purpose of replacing a necklace worn by him. This would gain us access to a vault high in the singular tower high above the estate. This would be where the tiger statuette would be located. Ranier voiced some concerns about gaining entrance, to which Lady Davenshire produced several fine forgeries of tickets for each one of us. She noted that these tickets were hidden in the remaining boxes of Idani Whips, bought before the fire at Leuwiss’ parent’s shop, and have caused quite a stir amongst the populace as everyone wants to be invited to this prestigious costume ball, so the guest list wouldn’t be checked closely as any person with a ticket would be admitted. Leuwiss was told that he would need several spells in high supply, namely Sleep and Dispel Magic. Erevis produced several potent sleeping potions and minor poisons that we were to introduce into the banquet food to cause a distraction so we could gain access to the upper levels.

While Simone stressed the need for no improvisation, Leuwiss confided in Ranier that he does feel that this is almost an invite for said actions by the companions. We would have exactly 3 weeks to make the switch of the necklace, plan our costumes, and attend the ball on the ill-fated Winter Solstice night.

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The Gem of Souls

As the group entered the room with the fancy metal room with seating, footfalls came fast down another corridor leading to the room we were all in. It was Erevis! Just as the doors were closing shut, Erevis flung the Amulet of Recall into the room and the priest of Fharlanghn, Kel, caught it. Along with the amulet was a note from Tenser:

“Without this amulet, you’d be unable to get back. Rary approaches and I take Echo, Simone, Erevis, and Durg back to the Fortress of Unknown Depths. Good luck my friends!”

With most of us finding a comfortable seat, except for the Celenese Druid who was slammed to the floor, we were overcome by a dizzy feeling and when the spots before our eyes cleared – a hole appeared in the ceiling where there wasn’t one before.

With D’Arcon help, we climbed up the shoot into a misty, airy room of unknown size where we Kel was promptly attacked by a hieracosphinx! The Celenese Druid reacted fast calling upon the mists and electrocuted the magical beast to a crisp with Bloodraven dealing a deathblow to the creatures brow. Scattered all over the floor were many coins from past victims and a few things were found that might be of more import.

Once we were done in this large cavernous and airy room, we ascended the spiral stairs far to the west. This was interrupted by an attack from 3 roosting lizardlike birds (pterosaurs). One was killed by The Druid while we made it quickly up to the top of the stairs, avoiding the other two flying beasts.

One this level, a thick forest covered everything from top to bottom, with only small paths winding it’s way to the other side. Here we were attacked by su-monsters. The druid’s carnivorous ape companion came to Kel’s rescue and make quick work of the beast. This also allowed us to pass through the jungle level without any more attacks from the su-monsters.

We came upon a clearing where a woman was singing and tending roses. Everyone smelled a trap and when the woman revealed she was a medusa, the druid acted to entangle her in her own deadly roses. Here the druid took a sample of the roses for some special arrows he would be constructing while the medusa slept (the rose thorns induced sleep) with a sack on her head that D’Arcon placed over her. The group bickered over whether to slay the medusa or to continue and when things became too heated, Leuwiss stepped in to remind everyone of the goal – The Gem of Souls.

The next level, was a sea of fire, with narrow stone paths and a fire giant at the other end ready to hurl boulders down upon our heads. D’Arcon made Leuwiss invisible so he could get in range of the fire giant to fling a spell at him. Unfortunately, a reverse gravity trap in the floor flung Leuwiss straight up into a hole in the ceiling! Quickly the group reacted as a boulder landed into the fiery sea sending and incendiary splash up and against the wall of the tower. The druid notched one of his new arrows and quickly put the giant to sleep. D’arcon rummaged through a sarcophagus filled with copper coin and found a fancy jeweled crown and a ring. With nothing more on this floor of interest, the group followed Leuwiss into the reverse gravity field.

On this level, the gravity was completely reversed and we all splashed down into what seemed to be a tropical sea. This whole level was covered by 15’ of sea, a sand island and coral reefs and inhabited by a large fish and a strange humanoid manta ray. This danger was mostly averted by Leuwiss casting a cone of cold spell, which created an ice bridge for the rest of the party to walk across to a clearing in the coral which had a strange door with a turnable wheel handle. The group hurried down into this passage and came out into a great domed room.

In the center of this room floated a large melon shaped blue-white gem that occasionally bathed the room in a blinding white light. Quickly the group spread out around the gem to approach it when disaster struck, or more accurately, a blast of white light. Leuwiss was the first to fall, bathed in a painful white blast and crumpled to the floor with a scream. A mixed bag of luck, Leuwiss was now completely without spells and he and his fox were now permanently bleached white. From the floor, Leuwiss called for the party to attack an invisible forcefield around the gem… and quickly!

Next, Bloodraven was hit and fell, but wasn’t as lucky. His soul was ripped out of his body and drawn into the swirling cavity within the Gem of Souls! The companions worked quickly and beat down the barrier and took the gem in hand. The druid asked that everyone grasp hands, grabbing the monk’s hand as well, and the priest activated the amulet and everyone went swirling through space and time back to the Fortress of the Unknown Depths.

Back in the safety of Tenser’s Fortress, we handed over the Gem of Souls and he restored Bloodraven back into his now fully bleached white corpse. Now alive and in his body, but visibly shaken, Bloodraven was eager to get some rest. Simone, Erevis, Echo, and Durg came into the common area to greet us while the druid and priest informed Tenser of the matter of a strange prophesy we stumbled upon earlier.

While Tenser could only give us scant information on what he could see, he directed us to a Priestess of Celestian at the Grey Observatory who could help us, named Carol. There we plan on dividing up the treasure and finding out more of what Simone and Erevis are planning. That night we ate at a feast provided by Tenser the Archmage and staying under his roof.

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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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