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Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:27 PM #1
Wizardru's Story Hour (updated 11/21)
For this board, it's Wizardru's Story Hour. But internally we call the campaign
The Savage Sword of Meepo
Didn't start that way of course, but it didn't take long before it was. Part way through the Forge of Fury if I recall. So on behalf of all the players, welcome to our story hour! You will find that all the characters and the DM post here so I've included their ENBoard names.
This story hour begins with a cast of first level characters and over the years you will see them grow to epic levels and beyond. We started the campaign when third edition first came out and it continues to this day and I can honsetly say it's the highlight of our week.
The cast of characters and history
These are some very brief introductions to the characters. Realize that each character here has seen years of development which is detailed in the stories. The purpose here is to just let you get to know them a little.
Scorch - male human wizard. He's reclusive, power hungry, likes to blast things, and perhaps slightly touched in the head. Rarely is something considered "acceptable" in his mind, be it the food, the bed, or anything else. Scorch started as a wizard, and over time progresses to seek further arcane power as a Mage of the Arcane Order and Archmage. (EN Board name: Scorch)
Dravot d'Chandagnac - male human cleric of Pelor (up the sun!) Dravot is the fourth son of a noble family in the kindgom of Ahlyssa and was sent off to the church. He joined the game part way into the Sunless citadel. In later adventures he becomes touched by undeath, and becomes one of the Shadowed of Pelor, a prestige class very similar to a Hunter of the Dead. In time he grows to become what may be Pelor's chosen servant on the Prime. (EN Board name: Dravot)
Valanthe - female human rogue. Valanthe grew up in Dyvers as an orphan with a questionable past. She has over time become less prone to the larcenous habits she began with. She eventually learns she is one of the Shadow touched, and is drawn into a web of events in the Shadow Plane. (EN Board Name: Valanthe the Sleepless)
Rackhir the Red Archer - male human fighter. A Frutzi barbarian from the northern lands, he is an expert with the bow. Quiet, bordering on brooding, but efficient and deadly in combat. He has little interest in negotiations or politics and truly lives only during battle.
Kayleigh Ladanna'al - female elven archer. Kayleigh Drake (among humans) is the first daughter of a minor noble in Celene. Her father does not agree with the Queen's isolationist policies. She is a veteran of the Hateful Wars against the orcs and still has a deep hatred of them and their ilk. She began as a fighter and over time learned she carried the spark of an Elven Champion - an Arcane Archer. The story is largely told from Kayleigh's perspective as entries in her journal. (EN Board name: Zad, your humble author)
Jozan Mornlight (later Aethramyr) - male elven paladin of Sehanine. He was found after the destruction of his village and raised by humans. Eventually he heard Sehanine's calling and became one of her chosen. He is brave, trustworthy, and has an odd fondness for kobolds. His mount is Crescent, a dire wolf that is none too subtle but incredibly effective. (EN Board Name: Aethramyr)
Bolo Brandybuck - male halfling/faux elf/etc. druid. Bolo starts as an agent of the druidic council and soon finds that he is suddenly the last remnants of that council. Bolo joins the group after several adventures have already passed so the new reader won't see him until a good ways in. After his first death he was reincarnated as an elf. (EN Board Name: Argent Silvermage)
And of course, the one and only....
[big round of applause]
Yes the little kobold that could. He became attatched to Jozan in the Sunless Citadel and has been along for the ride ever since. He cooks he cleans he polishes. He saves Scorch's life now and again. Kayleigh orignially couldn't stand him but has slowly moved towards indifference about the little guy. Most of the rest of the party doesn't seem to mind him. He's got character levels now, and his alignment has been slowly shifting as Jozan "shows him the way"
Up to date character stat blocks should be available in the Rogue's Gallery
The adventurers are in the employ of Lord Gelban, who is a wealthy merchant in Greyhawk. Lord Gelban retains several similar groups of adventurers for various purposes. The group is somewhat familiar with each other but these stories mark their first real adventures together.
Each reply will contain a seperate chapter generally speaking, and usually denotes one night's gaming activity. The majority of the text is journal entries from Kayleigh's journal. Other characters do contribute however, and their journal entries are noted.
Another Editor's Note:
I'm afraid we have finally had to bow to the forces of board mechanics. The thread was getting pretty big, what with having run so long. I finally broke down and pruned the thread, removing almost all the posts that were not directly part of the story.
It's not that I don't appreciate the feedback from all the readers; I truly do. A single hello or "Love the story" post is enough to make my whole day and I cherish each one. But there are limits to technology, and in order to make things easier on the boards and our hosts, as well as new readers, I've had to remove the posts up until the most recent ones. Please don't take this as an insult, and let me offer my thanks again for reading.
You can find a listing of a great many NPCs that have appeared throughout the campaign in this post here.
Last edited by Zad; Monday, 21st November, 2005 at 05:42 PM.
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Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:40 PM #2
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 1
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 1
The first module published for 3e and the first adventure for the group, as well as various introductory material. It should come as no surprise there are spoilers here.
These campaign writeups were being sent to the players long before there was a story hour. Included in most are some things for us, the players, to discuss before next session. You can see where our/my heads were at each time we played.
Experience: 100 each
The horses are going to be dead meat if we leave them up here alone.
I really like this adventure so far. It has some nice writing, good plot. The way of pulling the characters together is perfect - great for a new campaign - saves all that muss and fuss with a simple hook.
Good thing we have Grundel - we'd be pretty dumb to go out without a cleric. (Note for future readers: this is a joke. We didn’t have a cleric when we started and felt rather nervous about it. Fortunately Dravot joined the campaign soon.)
Tip of the hat and my thanks to Wizardru for DMing.
This Week's Adventure:
Through circumstances I’ll relate some other time, I’m currently in the employ of Lord Gelban, a powerful Lord in the free city of Greyhawk. Gelban retains many such adventurers to look after special interests of his, and more so in recent months.
Some several months ago, Lord Gelban's 15 year old daughter Ariadne, began slowly falling prey to an illness. At first the effects were slight, but grew in time. She continues to worsen, and will die shortly if a cure cannot be found. Lord Gelban has brought in a variety of clerics, healers, sages and wizards to see to her health, but none have been able to even determine the nature of the illness, let alone provide a cure. Lord Gelban loves his daughter dearly and has become increasingly desperate as she has worsened. He has put his considerable resources to the task of finding a cure for her.
In searching legend and lore for a cure, Lord Gelban heard tell of a magical fruit. This fruit is grown in the city of Oakhurst in the kingdom of Keoland to the southwest of Greyhawk. Once a year, this tiny hamlet sells one of these fruits, who's healing powers can only be described as miraculous. The time is fast approaching when this fruit is usually offered, so Lord Gelban has sent me and several other adventurers in his service to purchase the fruit. Armed with a letter of mark, we depart.
The group is sent by ship on the three day journey to the port city of Gradsul. The trip is uneventful, however it seems Scorch has little love of the sea. Or perhaps just a great love of leaning over the railing. Then again, Scorch has little love of anything so this can hardly be termed unusual. His constant cries of “Feh!” are amusing in their own way. He seems consumed by his arcane studies, and misses out on the simple wonder of a sunset.
Horses and gear are waiting for us in Gradsul, and we set off immediately for Oakhurst. There should be little difficulty in locating the hamlet as it lies at the end of the "New Road". There is a New Road and an Old Road. The New Road it seems has been in use for some two or three centuries, whereas the Old Road likely pre-dates humankind. I find it unusual for humans to think of something a few centuries old as still being “New” but perhaps proximity to Celene has an effect.
We had an uneventful week's ride and became more familiar with each other. Aside from some incompatibility between Scorch's horse and his hindquarters, and the associated grumping, the ride is quiet and peaceful.
An hour before reaching Oakhurst, we happen on an odd site. Five hundred yards off the road is clearly visible a stag. A large beast, it lies in the rye field unmoving. Closer examination reveals that it has been swarmed by some kind of small beast and drained of its blood. This is made more unusual by the absence of any tracks - in fact the area seems to have been swept to remove such tracks. As we examined the scene, they hear the sound of the wind rustling through the branches. This hardly seems unusual until they realize that there is no wind, and the nearest trees are quite a ways away. At this time, three small shapes seem to be quickly moving away through the rye. Rather than pursue, we chose to continue on their vital mission.
Oakhurst indeed seems to be everything our troop expected of it. Only about seven or eight buildings and a modest population of farmers and honest folk. We acquire lodgings and wash the dirt of the road from our boots, and our throats. Scorch concluded that the meal was "adequate." High praise indeed. A number of interesting rumors and local gossip are available in any tavern, and Oakhurst is no exception.
We first learned that the Mayor, Vurnar Leng, is the primary agent on behalf of the town when negotiating for the fruit. The local constable and the merchant Hercrule are key figures in this as well. The mayor can be found in the morning and we will need to wait until then. Hercrule is apparently the most prosperous and wealthy figure in town.
We also learn that this year's fruit has not yet been sold, for no obvious reason. There are actually two fruits - the red fruit heals. The white fruit is sold in the winter on some years and seems to be as deadly as the red fruit is miraculous. One cannot help but wonder if the white fruit might be involved in the sickness of Lord Gelban's daughter but there is no evidence to support this. The summer fruit typically sells for 1000 gp. The deadly winter fruit sells for some other price, which one can assume is significantly higher with a vastly different clientele.
Hercrule's twin children, along with a paladin and ranger they somehow recruited, were convinced they knew the whereabouts of the Sunless Citadel and went off to find it. They have not been heard from for the last week. The Citadel seems to be a local enigma filled with assorted horrors.
In the morning, we spoke to the Constable. A half-elven woman with a business-like demeanor, she informs us of when and where the mayor can be found, and emphasizes that any discussion should take place with both the Mayor and Hercrule. We also mentioned the discovery of the stag and it is of little surprise to the constable. The town has clearly had a number of such attacks recently but has little understanding of them.
Further information is revealed about the auction process. The Mayor and the others attract buyers through their respective contacts. Hercrule handles the interview and negotiation process. The constable maintains security and handles the physical sale. The final decision on the sale rests with these three, but Hercrule has the senior vote.
A short while later, the Mayor and Hercrule are found in the Mayor's house. After hearing of our mission, and verifying their credentials, an unsettling fact is revealed - they have no fruit this year.
The fruit is not grown but is in fact purchased from the goblins. The goblins have shut off negotiations this year and have been unreceptive to parley. A week ago, the children of Hercrule went off to the Sunless Citadel, where the goblins are apparently dwelling, to attempt to force the issue. They have not returned.
(Other details of note are that while the town has tried to cultivate the fruit, all attempts have failed. The bushes are stolen when they reach a certain size. The Mayor blames the goblins for this but that may not be the case. Also, the white fruit is sold each year also, but somewhat more discretely, as you would expect for such a commodity. Further, the price of the fruit is fixed at 1000 gp and is sold according to need rather than coin.)
The situation is clear - for us to succeed in their mission, we must follow the trail of Hercrule's children, find the goblins, and hopefully re-open negotiations. (Failing that they could forcefully acquire a fruit, but that will do the townsfolk little good.) In exchange for attempting this task, the town agrees that Lord Gelban may have his fruit if they succeed. Further, Hercrule will reward us for the return of her children's signet ring and definite knowledge of their fate.
After sending a message to Lord Gelban informing him of the situation, we made our preparations. Given the vague indication of where the twins went, we set off. With luck we could be there by nightfall.
Looking at the broader picture for a moment, there are some historical facts that seem to relate somehow. First, Keoland is not overly tolerant of wizards. While they don't mind individuals, they are very nervous about them forming any sort of group or society. Also, on the way to Oakhurst, there was a land feature called the Ashen Plain, a blighted area where nothing will grow. The calamity that may have caused this may coincide with the creation of the New Road, implying that perhaps something happened that caused the forming of the Ashen Plain and required you to go around it, hence a new road. Since disasters of that magnitude are either divine, natural, or magical, it may be that some kind of magical happening occurred and would explain all these phenomena. Whatever it may be, it seems to have faded from the memory of the short-lived humans that populate the area. Whether the Sunless Citadel is a key component of this happening or not remains to be seen.
We found a ravine just before nightfall. Starting at a modest size, it soon fell away until it became bottomless. At one area was a number of ruined pillars. The pillars were covered with crude graffiti in what seemed to be dwarven characters, while the stonework of the pillars themselves had carvings in Draconic. #Grundel observed that the grafitti was not dwarven but goblin, to the effect of "Wretch was here" and so on. The number of spent campfires seemed to indicate that it was a frequent campsite of someone, and goblins seemed most likely. Further the area looked as though it had been brushed of tracks much like the area near the stag.
Tied to one of the pillars was a knotted rope. Nearby was a somewhat fresher campfire. We suspected we had found the campsite of the twins, and the rope seemed to be a clear indication of their direction. We made camp for the night, being sure to pull up the rope to avoid a nasty surprise.
In the night, the group was attacked. Two small creatures, about the size of small dogs scuttled up in the darkness. They had the foul stench of evil and blood surrounded them. They could only be described as walking twigs, as though they were made of twigs but twisted to some foul purpose, with sharp claws and teeth of wood.
Jozan roused us all, and we quickly dispatched the wretched things with no injuries. At this point many things became clear -
1. These things were clearly what had attacked the stag, though likely a greater number. Since three shapes were seen in the rye, it would be at least three. Given their frailty, perhaps more, or perhaps the stag killed some of their number.
2. They do seem capable of bringing down a man, as reports in the town indicated.
3. The areas had not been brushed of tracks by someone covering something - more this was a natural effect of the passing of the twigs. Clearly the area the group camped in had seen these beasts often.
4. Examination of the bodies showed they seemed to be grown some how, and secreted a poison. Their ferocity and bloodlust, coupled with this poison, meant that they were not to be taken lightly.
5. As they were being examined, their bodies broke down, leaving hardly a trace.
This ended the adventure for now. Next week, into the ravine, and certain doom.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:41 PM #3
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 2
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 2
Loot: Valanthe has a list
Experience: unknown - Wizardru is computing.
This Week’s Adventure
When last we left the group, they were about to descend into the darkness on the rope.
However the attack of the Twigs from Hell (tm) left some concern in its wake. What of the horses? The amount of brushing on the ground made it clear that the twigs came by often. If the twigs could dispatch a stag to satisfy their bloodlust, surely they could do the same to horses. Rackhir volunteered to stay behind and guard the horses while the group made an initial reconnaissance of the depths below. [“Stay behind and guard the horses” translates directly to “couldn’t make it to the game this week”.]
Jozan, being valiant, volunteered to descend first, followed shortly by Valanthe. Unfortunately there were some large rodents waiting as he reached the end of the rope and landed on a rocky platform.
The rats were hungry and vicious and quickly bit Jozan into near unconsciousness. Fortunately the rest of the group scrambled down the rope and managed to come to his aid. The rats were killed, and Jozan used one of the potions to heal his serious wounds.
We then proceeded down a long series of stairways that descended to landings and then switched back multiple times. At the bottom was a small area and the entrance to what appeared to be a tower. A pit trap in front of the door was not well concealed enough to fool Valanthe and was easily defeated.
Inside the tower, there were two doors. There were also four dead goblins, including one pinned to the wall by a short spear. The bodies had been looted.
Inspection of the area by Valanthe revealed a secret door hidden in the wall. The door held a needle trap for the unwary. Behind it was a small room that seemed to be used for archers. There were three skeletons, clearly formerly archers, in disarray in the room. However upon having their rest disturbed they animated and came at us with fire in their eyes. We quickly dispatched them back to their graves and moved on. (Note to self: piercing does not work on skeletons, get a backup weapon)
A systematic exploration of the area began. An unusual stone door with a dragon carving was found, but not explored further. Another large room nearby held several interesting features.
1. Approximately 5 doors
2. A large fire pit
3. An altar covered in a green cloth
4. Several jade figurines
5. A cage, whose bars had been pried apart and the contents removed or escaped.
By far the most unfortunate of the room's contents, and the most pathetic, Meepo is a kobold. A cowering, pathetic, simpering kobold. The kind of kobold even other kobolds don't like, as we would come to learn. I didn’t need to learn anything however to take an immediate dislike to him.
Meepo apparently was the custodian of a small dragon of some sort, which the goblins had stolen (from the cage). Meepo was quite clearly in deep kobold doo doo because of this. It took only the slightest persuasion to induce Meepo to take us to see his leader.
We were cautiously received by the kobold queen (a spellcaster). Her numerous guards were quite edgy during the interview but were civil nonetheless (except, of course, to Meepo. I found this to be their most endearing trait.).
Our interview with the kobold queen was brief but enlightening. To summarize the relevant bits:
1. The kobolds were aware of the other party (of the children, ranger and paladin) coming through but had no interaction with them
2. The goblins had stolen the dragon from the kobolds. The kobolds were apparently going to rear this dragon and conquer things with it.
3. The goblins do not grow the fruit - they purchase it from "The Outcast" who, from the conversation, seems to be a bearded human or humanoid and is likely a spellcaster.
4. The kobolds want the dragon back
5. Meepo knows the back way to the grove, where the goblins are. (There was some suspicion that the queen was saying this simply to pawn the disgusting Meepo off onto us, where he would hopefully meet an unpleasant death. This however can likely be attributed to my cynicism and a general dislike for Meepo. Future events would reveal it to be both.)
We were careful to make no promises regarding the return of the dragon - it would clearly put us in conflict with the goblins. Further if the kobolds coveted it, then it may be questionable to return it to them, however hair-brained a scheme it seemed. Nonetheless the queen did offer rewards for its return.
Meepo's knowledge was limited. A different door from the dragon's room led towards 'the grove'. However Meepo's knowledge stopped on the far side of that door. Scorch had the foresight to leave chalk marks to indicate our path should Rackhir need to follow us.
The next area had several doors and a few chambers. There was clear evidence that the other party had passed this way. After a brief look around, we chose to follow the same path they had taken.
The pit traps in the next room had been discovered by our predecessors and spiked open. A door waited to the east. Upon her routine examination, Valanthe heard noises of creatures stirring. We deployed, ready for a fight and opened the door.
A fight was precisely what we found. Inside were three more dire rats and another larger rat. Her name was Guthash [ it was written on the inside of her shorts] and she was over six feet long, and apparently their mother.
Upon seeing the rats, waiting in ambush inside, I loosed my first shot. It pierced one of the rats and killed it instantly. Mother was quite distressed. Two more rats charged through the door, attempting to flank Valanthe and Jozan, arrayed at the doorway poised to strike. As the rats bolted past, they suffered at the blades of the door guards. (Memory getting blurry) Jozan slew the rat that circled him, and Valanthe nicked hers.
Guthash was distressed at the destruction of her children and leapt from the room. Again the guardians at the door had at her. I shot again and hurt Guthash severely and Jozan struck as she leapt past and felled her. With the death of Guthash, the last rat was slain. Only then was the grim magnitude of the situation made clear.
These rats apparently made a practice of ambushing people, and the party before us fell victim to this ploy. Inside was the dead body of what must have been the ranger. He was partially consumed but his equipment was intact. After the rats other ill-gotten gains were retrieved, we looked further. It seems that not only did the earlier group come this way, but that they retreated also, likely after the death of the ranger.
[ We were all learning 3e rules of course. However this is a case where we turned that whole new “Attack of opportunity” thing to our advantage.]
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:44 PM #4
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 3
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 3
Experience award was 346 per player (200pts for releasing Erky, 9 rats, 13 goblins.)
Casualties: The DM took 1 point of damage from a d4 of Sharpness.
Dylan joins the game.
He was there the whole time. Yeah. That's the ticket.
Dravot is nearly out of healing (3 pts left). Jozan's lay hands is spent iirc. And Scorch is down a spell. Overall this means our resources are thin. My guess is that it's just after lunch time in this day (Wizardru?) We know which door the goblin wanted to run out of. I suggest we secure the immediate area (door at the end of the hall near the sappers) and then grab the caltrops, throw them in front of the "escape door" and rest for the day. Erky used some healing on himself so he could probably use new spells too.
Recapping The Companions:
Jozan Mornlight, Elven Paladin (a.k.a. Jozan the Unlucky, Jozan the Clumsy)
Valanthe the Sleepless, Human Rogue
Rackhir the Red, Human Archer
Scorch, Human Wizard
Dravot d'Chandagnac, Human Cleric of Pelor (a.k.a. Dravot the Can’t Make a Spot Check to Save His Life)
Kayleigh, Elven Archer
This Week’s Adventure:
After the handy defeat of Guthash and her children, and an examination of her nest, it was apparent that we had chosen a dead end. We turned around to seek another avenue to the goblin lair. Passing the hallway with three doors on each side (only one of which had been examined earlier) we decided to be more thorough and examine each one. While beginning this examination, the contents of the various rooms burst forth - more rats.
A total of nine rats spilled forth from the small rooms. One of them took immediately to chewing on Jozan's leg, noting the hole in his armor made by his cousin. [ Apparently there was a memo distributed to the rats via a complicated air tube system. One Winslow the Rat had chewed a hole in Jozan’s armor earlier and had time to dispatch a memo alerting his fellows to the weakness.] Jozan and Valanthe were caught amidst the rats while Scorch and Kayleigh looked on in horror. [ It was either horror or indigestion, since the rations acquired in town were not the freshest. No one can say for sure which.] Fortunately, Rackhir and Dravot had finished securing the horses in a safe location and entered from the other end of the hall just in time to join the fray. [ “secured the horses” translating to “could make it to the game this week”]
A rat or two fell to the blows and arrows of the adventurers. But as the rats spilled into the hall, Scorch selected an enchantment appropriate to the occasion and quickly a magical sleep fell on the rats. All the remaining rats immediately fell into a deep slumber, and the group wasted no time in sending the rats to a more permanent form of sleep (a.k.a. the dirt nap).
Heading back to a previously unexamined door, the group concluded this must be the way to the goblins and indeed the way their predecessors passed. Since they passed this way, and they looked for traps, clearly this door was safe to open.
[ the one door we didn’t bother checking. Sigh]
Upon opening the door, we were greeted by several things:
1. A hallway, perhaps 8 feet wide extending about 20 feet.
2. At the end of the hall, a small wall, perhaps 3 feet high.
3. A mind numbing amount of caltrops, scattered most thoroughly along the floor of the hallway.
4. A very very loud bell, ringing merrily to signal our arrival.
In no time at all, two goblins appeared at the wall, javelins in hand. Clearly this was a carefully set up choke point, and we had just walked straight into it.
I concluded that perhaps the goblins could be reasoned with. We were, after all, only seeking a fruit, not goblin blood, and perhaps a deal could be reached.
The concept of 'goblins' and 'reason' however, were not two that could quickly be united, and the goblins simply waited.
Left with no other choice, we attacked. Fearing that the goblins would run for reinforcements, I entered the room in order to draw their fire, with the hopes that they would throw javelins at me (and hopefully miss), rather than be smart and run. Rackhir and I would pick off the goblins and move on.
While this plan had the merits of boldness, bravery, and daring, it did lack other minor elements, such as practicality, luck, and, one could argue, intelligence.
When I entered the room, the goblins did indeed throw javelins at me. I was nicked by one and avoided the other. Rackhir and I unfortunately had a fair bit of trouble hitting the goblins, crouched behind their little wall. I was able to seriously wound one goblin on my second shot by some miracle, and at that point the other goblin chose to run.
Under the theory "In for a penny, in for a pound" I charged through 10 feet of caltrops, leapt the wall, dodged the injured goblin and pursued the fleeing one, missing my shot. The rest of the party followed close behind me, picking their way through the caltrops. The goblin continued to run down a hallway, with me hot on his heels. Until I turned a corner that is and came into a room with six more goblins. At that point, prudence made a timely entrance into the fray, and I quickly retreated.
We were just crossing the first wall, and set up a choke point at the doorway of the hallway the fleeing goblin had run down. The new arrivals were readily dispatched as we were more prepared. This left two more goblin behind a similar 3 foot wall in the next room. Without the additional protection of the caltrops though, they also fell.
There were several doors from this area. The first one was locked, not that this was of much concern to Valanthe. Opening the door revealed a prison. [Given that is has been several paragraphs since a numbered list was discovered, one will be found here.]
1. There were some kobolds, tied to a spike in the floor. The kobolds were not keen on the notion of being released. They believed they would be ransomed, and if they were released, they would only be killed. Meepo made time in his busy schedule to taunt, tease, and urinate on the pathetic creatures.
2. A cage held a gnome by the name of Erky Timbers. The group released him and he was willing to join up with them and extract some revenge for his capture. He displayed obvious clerical talents. We armed him with what we had available.
3. Erky also revealed that until recently, the children and the paladin were held here. Apparently Tolgan, Sardan, and Sir Bradford were captured by the goblins, likely falling prey to the trap that the companions narrowly escaped. They were however taken below three days ago.
4. The human controlling the fruit is named Bellaq, and is an evil druid of some sort. [But wait, druids are neutral - yeah yeah. This leads to our discovery that druids can be other than true neutral in 3e.] It is he who lives in the Twilight Grove, an enchanted garden in which he cultivates the Gulthius Trees which bear the fruit. [Personally, he doesn't sound like the bargaining type, but hey, you never know.]
5. The goblins do not particularly work for Bellaq, but they also dare not cross him, and they do as he says. This creates an interesting question: why sell the fruit? Did the goblins steal fruit and sell it? Did they sell it on Bellaq's orders? If so, what did he need the gold for?
6. The prison held no sign of the dragon stolen from the kobolds.
Another door from the area led to a hallway with two more doors. The first opened onto a room of six goblin sappers. [Unfortunately these goblins were engrossed in a game of "Put your blank on blank's blank" and were taken unaware.] We quickly and quietly killed the goblins with little trouble. [Rackhir even rolled over a 3 for the first time in the evening, and was applauded mightily.] Only one was bold enough to attempt an escape, and received an arrow in his back for his troubles.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:45 PM #5
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 4
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 4
Notes for next time:
Then there's the issue of rest. We needed it before. We desperately need it now. The next course of action seems to be to climb down the tree and investigate what is surely the twilight grove. But the matter of where to rest is still a troubling one.
1. Outside of the goblin-controlled areas
2. At the first guard post
3. In the dragon's room
4. In the throne room
5. In the grove
We have wiped out three rooms of goblins, at least two of which were guard posts. Sooner or later the other goblins are going to notice. And they are probably not going to be happy. Examining the choices:
Choice 1: outside gobby areas - offers the best potential for some quiet rest but then we have to fight our way back into the goblin areas, which will likely be more heavily defended. Further such a fight would ruin some of the benefits of the rest we just got.
Choice 2: first guard post - almost guarantees a fight with more goblins. And they'll still know something is up from the other areas.
Choice 3: dragon room - we can lock ourselves in, and probably be safe for the night. We'd only have to slip from the dragon room to the throne room but that's still probably going to be tricky.
Choice 4: the throne room - when the goblins find out they have a lot of dead guards, where's the first place they'll go? We can try to barricade ourselves in, but if we do, they may break down the door. Also we still have to leave the citadel somehow, and that would imply going through the goblins.
Choice 5: the grove - a massive unknown, we could end up in more combat in our weakened state.
Some other choices include trying to wipe out all the goblins in the common room, or trying to intimidate them by barging in and dropping the dead body of their leader in their laps and telling them not to mess with us.
The interrogation of the shaman will answer a LOT of questions. Things I'm trying to remember to ask:
1. How many goblins are there?
2. How many in the common room?
3. Are they armed?
4. How often are the guards changed?
5. What will they do when they find the dead guards?
6. What will they do when they find out the chief is dead?
7. What's below? (defenses etc.)
8. How do you get down there?
9. Tell all she knows about Bellaq
10. Why did he want the people sent down?
11. Why sell the fruit?
12. Where does the fruit come from? (confirmation etc.) Has she seen the tree? How many fruit on it?
13. How big is the grove?
Probably more depending on what she says and other ideas. After we know some of this we can figure out where we can best rest.
We may be able to rig up some fire arrows for twig blights while we rest, and better fix Rackhir's bow.
This Week’s Adventure:
After the handy defeat of the goblin sappers, the heroes proceeded to the next door. A stout lock barred the door, but yielded to Valanthe's touch.
Inside were a number of unusual sights. A broken chain attached to a spike was in the center of the room. Various bits of broken furniture were scattered around. Several heads were crudely stuffed and mounted on the wall, showcasing such viscous beasts as rats, deer, and the ever-viscous cow. Clearly the great white hunter had a different standard in his accomplishments. Several parts of the room were also coated in ice.
Of most note was the baby white dragon lurking in the room. A true white dragon that could not have been more than a handful of years out of the egg, and apparently the captive of the kobolds formerly and now the goblins. It had been chained previously but was now free in the room.
We were hesitant to simply attack the baby beast. And of course Meepo was interested in its recapture. However the dragon, Calcrix had no such reservations and immediately turned its icy breath on the group. Fortunately most of the party was able to dodge out of the way.
A pitched but brief battle followed. The dragon did its best to lay us low, but the blows and arrows eventually brought it down. However, not before it deeply wounded Meepo. (Meepo's wounds were tended and he was placed in a safer area to be checked on later. Moving him would surely worsen his condition. One could debate the meaning of “worsen” in this context.)
During the exchange a wave of luck passed over Rackhir - all bad. His bow snapped in his hands. He charged in with his broadsword hoping it would fare better. After the fight, I was able to repair the bow temporarily.
During the fight we concluded that returning the dragon to the kobolds was not wise. White dragons are evil by nature. And returning the evil creature to the evil kobolds could serve no good purpose, and neither could setting it free. The dragon's death was probably for the best, and far easier to kill it at this young age than as an adult.
Scorch wasted no time in carving the icy corpse up into bits. He claimed that many pieces could be used for spell components and alchemy and would sell very well, but there was a light in his eyes as he set to his task that did not seem born of gold. The dragon had accumulated some small treasures and these were quickly added to our packs.
We were now quite exhausted. However after a great deal of discussion, we decided to press onward.
Both the dragon's chamber and the goblin guard post opened onto a long smoky hallway filled with columns and burning braziers. Four doors were along the western end. The western door had a great commotion coming from beyond, and it seemed clear that there were a great many goblins beyond, carousing and doing whatever goblins do.
The southern door revealed six goblin guards. We fell upon them and killed all six before they could raise an alarm. This small room led back towards kobold held territory, and it seemed clear that's what the goblins were guarding against.
The two northern doors joined together in a corridor. There was another door to the goblin noise, and one that led into a round room. Careful stealth let Valanthe determine what lay beyond...
Beyond was a large circular room, clearly the throne room for the goblins. This was made most clear by the presence of a crude throne. On the throne was a hobgoblin. Around the room were several goblin and hobgoblin guards. Next to the chief was a goblin spiritualist of some kind.
Two other notable things were visible: the first was a large hole in the middle of the room, sticking out of which was the top of a tree. The second was a small potted bush of some kind near the throne.
Having no fear for our lives, and, some would argue, no sense at all, we attacked. (First taking time to spike shut the nearby door to the goblin common area to at least slow down any reinforcements that might attempt to join.)
Immediately the bush revealed its true nature - no bush at all, it was a twig blight. This explained the tales of the villagers who attempted to grow the fruit. The seeds of the fruit do not yield trees, but instead grow twig blights. When they mature, they simply leave. The goblins were not stealing the bushes at all. The villagers were cultivating the menace that now stalks their livestock.
The goblins fell quickly, and the hobgoblin guards only slightly more troublesome. The goblin chief however was a formidable foe and was being supported by the goblin shaman. Indeed he almost ended Valanthe's days with a single blow. But as more guards fell to our persistent attacks, and more blades and bows were turned on the large hobgoblin, he drew his last breath and died.
The goblin shaman wisely surrendered before she met the same fate.
Most members of us were injured in the battle, and all of the groups spells were spent, save some minor cantrips.
On the goblin chief's finger was the signet ring described by Hercrule as worn by her children. The goblin shaman indicated that the while Bellaq had called for the three captives, the chief defied orders and slew one of the captives and took the ring. This was certainly Hercrule's son.
And it was late so we packed it in. I believe we ransacked the room for treasure. We still need to fully interrogate the goblin shaman.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:50 PM #6
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 5
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 5
Experience for the night was 300 each.
I pulled "Notes for next time" up to the top.
And here they are:
Notes for next time:
We should be able to wrap up the adventure in the next session according to Wizardru. This of course depends on how much more of the temple we want to explore after finding Bellaq. Personally, I'd be really embarrassed if I showed up at Gelban's place with a fruit a day after his daughter died, so I'd tend to be in favor of an expeditious retreat (although that stone door is tempting).
I'm concerned about Bellaq's greater plot. I'm hoping we can get him to expound upon that whole thing so we know we're not doing more harm than good by bringing a fruit to Gelban.
If the tree is such a source of evil, then we probably should destroy it assuming we can get the fruit we need.
Since most people's schedules will get hectic after t-day we probably want to try to get this wrapped up sooner rather than later. Expect a message from Wizardru soon.
This Week’s Adventure:
The adventurers, fresh from their pitched battle with the goblin chief, took stock of their situation. Clearly they were all tired and a rest was called for. But where could safety be found in the depths of the goblin lair? To better understand their plight, the group questioned the goblin shaman who surrendered to them. A great deal of information was revealed, as summarized:
1. There are approximately 60 goblins in the clan hall nearby, but only a dozen warriors. There are also hobgoblins in there.
2. The guard shifts are changed every 12 hours.
3. When asked what the goblins would do when the dead patrols are discovered, she said they may send for reinforcements or set more traps. If all else fails, they would retreat to the underdark. There is a way to the underdark from here and that is how the goblins initially came to this place.
4. When the chief is discovered dead, "The Hunter" would likely become chief.
5. She has never been below into the grove. The chief and hunter have been. Other goblins have but have not returned.
6. To get down, simply climb the vines clinging to the walls.
7. When asked about Bellaq, she said his power holds sway over the goblins. He has mastered the power of the tree. Neither he nor the goblins made the tree but he has found ways to use it. Bellaq's powers are greater than hers.
8. When asked why the prisoners were sent down, the group was told "for the tree".
9. I wanted to know why the goblins sold the fruit - it was because Bellaq wanted them to. However the goblins kept the proceeds. This forces one to wonder why Bellaq wanted the fruit sold? Did he know the villagers would try to grow their own fruit? Is there some hidden catch to the healing gift of the fruit? Bellaq's plot may reach further than we had suspected.
10. There is but one Gulthias tree in the grove.
11. There is no way out of the grove besides the underdark.
12. When asked why no fruit was sold this year, she did not know.
Lastly, the shaman was asked about the motives of the goblins. We had no wish to destroy all the goblins. We simply wanted a fruit and to leave. The net result of the conversation was that she had no ability to make deals, unless The Hunter and all the remaining hobgoblins were destroyed, in which case she could speak for the goblins and would allow the group to depart peacefully. (Of course, if we were trying to leave it would imply that we had killed The Hunter and Bellaq and would therefore be powerful enough not to be opposed in any case.)
After some discussion, we chose what they perceived as the least of the evils and dug in at the throne room for a long rest. After laying some primitive defenses, we set ourselves to rest. The decision turned out to be a wise one, or a lucky one, or perhaps both. Nothing disturbed us and at dawn, refreshed and recharged, we set out again.
Before resting, Valanthe took a quick peek into the grove to assess the situation. She saw an open area with several compost heaps and two cloaked figures working in the distance. After a long rest, the situation had not changed any.
We descended quickly and saw the two figures still working a bit away. A glowing fungus covered the walls providing dim illumination. Two twig blights in their bush state sat towards the middle of the room. About half the party had descended before our presence was noticed.
The two figures threw back their cloaks and revealed two skeletons, both of whom attacked with their shovels. The twig blights also converged.
Dravot called upon Pelor's radiance to banish the skeletons back to the darkness and they shattered at his feet. During the engagement, the makeshift repairs to Rackhir's bow gave way to the force of his strong pull, and the bow collapsed into uselessness. Undaunted, he drew his broadsword and entered the fray. Reading this section will trigger an automatic search-and-replace on your computer, and all occurrences of Rackhir the Red Archer will be replaced with either Rackhir the Unfortunate or Rackhir the Red Swordsman, as you see fit. The blights were also quickly destroyed, and none too soon, as a new force entered the fray.
From a nearby passage came what was surely The Hunter. No goblin nor hobgoblin, but a seven foot tall bugbear howled at the sight of the group. He commanded his "hounds" to attack - two dire rats.
Editor's note: Now, I could sit here and discuss how absolutely pathetic you have to be to take two rats, care for them, feed them, train them, and call them your "hounds". But I think it speaks for itself.
[At this exact moment, a skeletal hand rose out from one of the heaps of compost. It held a sign with an arrow. The sign said "Ballsag" and the arrow pointed at the bugbear. Two smaller hands also rose from the fetid depths holding signs that said "Grip" and "Fang" indicating the rats. How fortunate. ]
At this moment, Scorch turned to the rest of the party and said "Ball sack?!?" The great bugbear immediately lost any intimidation value he might have had, but at least he won initiative since the group was sniggering.
Ok, I'm fibbing a little.
I saw Ballsack come around the corner, and let an arrow fly. It struck soundly into his shoulder but the bugbear was unimpressed. Threatening to put me into the cook pot, he threw a javelin at me. It tore at my midsection but I was able to twist away from it enough to avoid it being fatal.
The bugbear was a formidable foe. But he was no match for our focused attacks. He attempted to heal himself with a potion during the fight but still fell to our onslaught. His hounds soon joined him.
Inspection of the area revealed a small cave that served as Ballsack's camp. From there was a twisting passage that the group believed led to the underdark. It may have been the smell of the deep earth that gave the clue. It may have been the hard rock that surely never knew the light of the sun. It may have been the still air, hiding secrets forgotten by the overworld. It may have been the sizable yet tasteful sign that said "To the Underdark - you must be at least this tall to ride this ride". Who can say for sure. But it was clear that this was not where their destiny lie - at least not today.
Among the many weapons on Ballsack's body and in his camp, there was a magical morningstar.
Another passage led to a corridor that had been shifted in the earthquake that had first swallowed the citadel. The last door led to six rooms of varying uses, several inhabited by goblins performing various menial tasks. Given that no goblins ever returned from here, it was assumed that these were Bellaq's slaves. Our group fell upon the goblins and met with little resistance.
In the last room was another door that led to some other area yet to be explored.
The last door led to six rooms of varying uses, several inhabited by goblins performing various menial tasks. Oddest among these rooms was one in which two goblins were keeping watch over a Dire Rat that had been changed in some way to resemble a Twig Blight, with part of it's body turned to wood. It did not look particularly happy about this turn of events, and was restrained.
Another oddity was the goblins making some type of alcohol, stomping things in a big vat with brewing casks nearby and some were repairing armor. Were they doing these things for the goblins above? Why weren't they doing it themselves? And if the goblins kept the money from the sale of the fruit, where is the cash? The chief didn't have it on him.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:54 PM #7
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 6
The Sunless Citade - Chapter 6
Experience for this session was a whopping 2457. This brought everyone up to 3rd level. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
While Wizardru had thought this would be the last session of the adventure, even a late night could not bring that to pass. We will need on more session to clean up. Personally, I'm out of town the weekend of the 17th, but I am available all through the holiday weekend. I doubt we'll need a late night to clean up.
Which brings us to:
Notes for next time:
We have won. We have a fruit before us and our enemy vanquished.
We are also a depleted group.
Scorch has suggested rest, and I tend to agree. We need to gain spells and lick our wounds before making our way out of here. There is of course the question of where to rest but I believe that there are a number of easily defensible rooms down here. Scorch suggested the cavern with the tree and that's an option, but personally sleeping under the shadow of that monstrosity. I believe we're all agreed that the tree should be destroyed. But burning it will likely produce a lot of smoke and we don't want to be nearby. I doubt the fire will spread much beyond the cavern, given the stone and packed earth nature of the place.
We also have two rescued hostages in our hands - Sharwyn and Sir Bradford. Neither will ever be quite themselves again. And we have the key to our quest - the fruit.
1. Rest and heal
2. Destroy the tree
We can then either explore more of the citadel or make our exit. Given that we have what we came for, and baggage besides (the ex-hostages) I suggest we exit through the front door, stage right. The goblins we will no doubt encounter at the top of the vines can likely be intimidated into moving aside. If not, if we take out the hobgoblins first, the goblins will likely rout when the hobbies are dead. Taking the hunter's head up with us may help our negotiating position
The only room that I'm still a little curious about is the intricate stone door near the entrance. We could check that out on our way.
Aside from that we also need to put Meepo back in kobold territory if the gobbies haven't found him. I don't think we need to converse with the queen specifically.
Once we are back at the village we can make for the coast and deliver the fruit to Gelban's messenger. We can then return to the citadel if we wish, but frankly I'll be glad to put this evil place behind us. We also need to issue a few warnings to the villagers and to Gelban regarding how this whole fruit thing works.
But we should be able to clean up, journey back and get our props from the boss without too much hassle next time.
This Week’s Adventure:
The tension hung thick in the air, like the sour odor of decay that permeated the grove. The companions knew they were closing in on their prey, and each one silently braced for what they knew would be a deadly confrontation.
Forging on from the goblin barracks, the group came into a large nursery. Along the walls were high boxes filled with earth and plants of various types being tended.
Due to careful scouting, we were able to take these gardeners by surprise and dispatched them without a struggle. One door nearby opened onto another similar room, containing similar attendants. A hasty ambush was prepared and the door opened. We hoped that the bugbears would rush the archers shooting at them, to be fallen upon by Valanthe and Jozan. Unfortunately, the bugbears were less than cooperative, having not received the memo detailing their involvement in the plan. They instead chose to stand firm and throw javelins, seriously wounding me in the process. With both the plan and patience failing, the group rushed the bugbears. This pair put up considerable more struggle than their counterparts. One made a bold play to escape but was cut down before it could reach any aide.
After the battle, two things became clear. First, that while the glowing lichen provided adequate light to see ones surroundings, it was not nearly enough to nurture all these plants. There had to be some other force tending to them. Second, that the bugbears were, in fact, syphilitic bugbears, accounting for their ferocity in battle.
An examination of another room revealed three skeletons, their glowing eyes burning with hatred of all things living. This was met with the comment of "Hm." by Valanthe, accompanied by a sense of the blase`. She retreated from the doorway allowing Dravot to open up a can of Pelor's wrath on them.
Moving on, another room is examined. This room seemed warm, and had several odd holes burrowed into the wall, but no man-sized exits. As the party decided to move on, the resident decided they should stay for dinner.
What's a Thoqqua? A vicious, burrowing creature possessed of great natural heat. It dove at Valanthe and fairly well ripped her leg right off. Fortunately being scorching hot, it cauterized the wound. We hastily fell back. Rackhir swung mightily at the beast and injured it fairly, but the heat exploded back on him and burned him severely. Fortunately we were able to direct sufficient attacks onto the beast from range to dispatch it. A monster such as this could have easily killed several of our number and we were glad to have survived as intact as we did.
Jozan was noticing an increasing sense of evil. A very tangible manifestation of malevolence lay somewhere ahead. A passageway forked and one side opened to a library. The other onto a room with a grand statue of a dragon with glowing eyes. A deep evil lurked behind the large statue.
A deep evil that did not waste its time lurking. In the blink of an eye, the shadow was behind the group, its malevolent wrath falling upon the cleric of Pelor, worshipper of that which it hates most. Dravot's will was insufficient to drive back the horror, but Jozan's sword suffered from no such difficulties.
Behind the statue a small cache was discovered, including two jars of alchemist's fire.
In front of the statue was a tile about three feet across. Inscribed on the inside edge was an invocation in draconic. I was standing on the tile while I examined it and spoke the words aloud and was immediately bathed in flame from the eyes of the statue. As the flame subsided, well, let us just say
I looooked mavelous. Simply maverlous.
And the statue fell dormant to replenish itself.
A thorough search of the library revealed some tomes of interest, although Scorch would like to examine it in more detail later.
Behind another nearby locked door the group found for more goblins. [At least that's what my notes say. It made so little an impression on me I can't even remember it happening. ]
Another hallway opened into a large, cavernous area. In this area were plants, trees, and bushes of various descriptions. Glowing lichen covered the walls. In the distance, behind some ruined walls, was a large tree, twisted and perverted by evil. Among the shrubbery, twig blights lurked in their dormant state.
Planning quickly, we attacked. I fired flaming arrows to draw in the nearby blights and the group dispatched them. In this way we took out two groups of nearby blights before attracting the attention of Bellaq.
The druid commanded the tree to "Bring them forth". The tree disgorged Sir Bradford and Sharwyn. They had an unnatural, woody look to their skin and stiff movements. They were clearly under his control. In the tree, a large frog lurked.
Bellaq demanded to know why the party had come. A brief parley followed. Bellaq offered a fruit if they would leave two of their number behind. All eyes fell on Erky and Meepo.
Well, not really. Just a thought.
During the discussions, Valanthe was slowly sneaking around the cavern to conduct a different type of negotiation with Bellaq.
Bellaq revealed that Vecna had commanded him to tend this tree, born when the stake used to kill a vampire was planted. He hinted at great plans soon to bear fruit. He gave the fruit to the goblins, knowing what they would do with it, making it seem as part of his plan. When he tired of speeches, he conjured a ball of flame and sent Bradford and Sharwyn to attack.
The battle raged for but minutes, but seemed like a lifetime. Bradford attacked Jozan, undaunted by my arrows in his chest. He shattered Jozan's sword with the magic in his blade, but could not strike a blow against a fellow paladin. Jozan was able to take the sword freely from Bradford, and used his healing touch to restore some of his humanity.
Twigs attacked and fell.
Quiet careful diligence paid off for Valanthe - she was able to maneuver behind Bellaq and deliver a massive strike. Bellaq howled in pain and outrage. The frog dove at Valanthe but missed and instead fell in a small hole and looked rather embarrassed.
Bellaq enchanted Valanthe and asked her to defend him. Clearly his pain and fury clouded his judgement and caused him to issue hasty orders to his new friend.
I then came into firing sight, and loosed a shaft at Bellaq, injuring him even more severely. At death's door, he tried to back away to some unknown escape. But this brought him into Rackhir's sights, and the final blow was struck. At that moment, Vecna's fury was unleashed on Bellaq's failure and his body was consumed in hellish fire.
It was late. Really really late. We passed on any cleanup til next time. The fight was over, the remaining twigs were considered 'dispatched' as was the frog.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:56 PM #8
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 7
The Sunless Citadel - Chapter 7
Experience this session: 500 pts
Wizardru has offered the ability to re-choose skills or feats you started with now that we all know how things work a little better. One time offer only.
All feats and new levels of spells will be unavailable until we return to Greyhawk and get a chance to train/study/meditate/pray/floss/whatever. HP and save and attack bonuses are in place though, as are skill points
Notes for next time:
Er, well, none really. We all of course are anticipating our return to Greyhawk and whatever rewards Lord Gelban may choose to bestow on us. From there what happens remains to be seen.
Phat L3wt: Of the items recovered from the Citadel most are being turned in for cash to be split up. Valanthe has the full list. From my memory we are not selling:
presumably some potions
presumably some scrolls
the magic flute
the masterwork dagger
the everburning torch and candle
Meepo (since nobody would buy him)
Possibly others - I'll leave this for Valanthe to follow up on.
This Week’s Adventure:
A difficult battle but one we handled well. Now that we've seemingly won, we took some time to rest and look around. We're all wounded and exhausted and none of the spellcasters have a cantrip left to them.
While we patched our wounds we took some time to look around in Bellaq's quarters and the general area, and the library.
Of particular note is an unholy symbol of Therizdun I discovered while looking around the tree. [Guess I better get that Greyhawk book.] The foul evil of this symbol was eventually undone by Dravot. But since Bellaq was a follower of Vecna, what was this symbol doing here and so strong? It was too fresh to have been a part of the original temple, and everything present indicates they worshipped dragons, not Therizdun.
And then there was the prize. Sitting ripe in the tree was one red fruit. I carefully secured it and prepared for its trip to Greyhawk. From the looks of the tree, there was another fruit harvested some time recently.
Jozan also took time to see to the ailments of the two freed victims of the tree. But theirs is a sickness of the soul, and only his healing touch could ease their troubled state. Even when Jozan had done as much as he could for them, they still were not as they once were, and likely never would be.
Valanthe, Scorch and Dravot completely ransacked the library. They apparently found something of some interest but for the most part we left these goods to be dealt with later.
After resting the night and healing a bit, we set forth to exit the Citadel. But the benefits of the fruit were far outweighed by the evil of the tree. We piled up kindling and brush around the tree, covered it all in oil and set it alight. We could hear the screaming of the tree penetrating the cavern, and sometimes still in our dreams.
We met no resistance until climbing up into the goblin throne room. We found the goblin shaman and her fellows, sitting on the floor in meditation. They clearly wanted no trouble from us and we passed through without incident.
This was the first time that some type of menace had looked at us and decided that we were too dangerous to anger. I found I rather enjoyed the feeling.
True to his word and faith, we (by that I mean Jozan) returned to check on Meepo. He had stabilized somewhat during his rest and he was healed further by Jozan. Meepo then declared his unfailing loyalty to Jozan by wrapping himself around Jozan's leg. Doubtless Meepo will serve faithfully. At least until he gets scared at which point all bets are off. I found him troublesome enough when he was only to be following on our heels for a short while - the prospect of him following Jozan indefinitely is unsettling to say the least. However I suppose it could be worse - he could be following me. Fortunately he seems somewhat intimidated by me. Of course, he's also intimidated by his own shadow so it becomes hard to tell.
While we were planning to exit the Citadel and return with our prize as quickly as possible, there were some alluring mysteries still within. We chose to investigate a door which they had not previously. The door was enchanted closed and had no obvious lock. The inscription on the door mentioned the channeling of energy to open the door, and Dravot once again called on Pelor to make his presence felt. The door opened and showed a small room with several sarcophagi. It wasn't long before several skeletons burst forth. What once caused fear was now insignificant compared to the other horrors the group had faced and they dispatched the skeletons with little effort. On an altar was a finely crafted dagger, an everburning candle, and a small, surely magical flute. The candle was attached to Meepo's helm that he might serve some useful purpose. The next time I need to fire burning arrows at twig blights, it should be much easier....
Deciding to bypass the kobolds altogether, we returned to the ornately carved stone door they had bypassed on their way into the Citadel. There was much anticipation about what might lie behind the door and tension mounted as Valanthe opened the lock.
The door opened to reveal a very small room with a rusty iron keg. The keg had several iron pipes leading in and out. This was quite a depressing sight. We were somewhat anxious about what lay behind such an ornate door, and excited about the interesting things that might be contained there in. A brewing keg and some pipework in a closet was not in the spectrum of our imaginings. Somewhat depressed by the limited contents of the room, we moved on.
Meepo, in his unending desire to serve, knew of our interest in the key that lay in the altar near the kobold queen. Meepo said that the key opened the door in the entry tower. We had forgotten completely about that door when we chose to follow the obvious trail of Bradford and his party. Presented with it now, we decided to examine the door.
It too was locked, but yielded to Valanthe. The room beyond however contained an enchanted door that resisted all efforts to open. With the key being the only way, we returned to the kobold queen. It took little effort to convince the queen to give us the key - she had no use for it anyway and if it secured our swift removal from her demesnes, so much the better. Again it was clear that the Queen was weighing her prospects, and that she did not like what she found in angering us. Further the key was a small price to pay to rid all Kobold-dom of the scourge that is Meepo.
The key opened the door easily and revealed a room with three darkened globes on pedestals on one wall, and one still glowing on the opposite wall. The music coming from this singing sparkling globe was quite disturbing to all. However it had a particular impact on the elves, who promptly were compelled to leave the room. Even with the sound muffled the compulsion was still strong. Jozan was ultimately able to bolster his will sufficiently to cross the room. I on the other hand could not bear the sound of that music and could not make it even a few steps into the room. I remained outside while they pressed on in what we hoped would be a brief investigation.
The group crossed through into an area with a pit at one end. Leading around the pit was a secret crawlspace. Beyond the pit was a quasit waiting to ambush the party. Thanks to the secret passage the tables were turned, and the quasit dispatched.
In this area was a large sarcophagus. Inscriptions indicated the entombment of a dragon priest who had committed some type of transgression and was therefore buried alive, however with full honors.
The group elected to remove the seals, and a hideous creature burst forth. This troll-like creature began to attack the group with zeal.
Fortunately due largely to a sound blow by Jozan, the beast was incapacitated. However even then its twisted flesh continued to regrow. The group burned the remains and moved on.
[While they were with the dragon priest, the kobolds apparently had a change of heart and attacked in force. They poured from the door and brought with them several ogres. (What they bribed these beasts with I cannot guess.) It took many arrows and several crippling sword blows, but I managed to drive them back single-handedly and guard the retreat for the group. I mentioned nothing of this when they emerged after dealing with the dragon priest - they seemed a bit disturbed by the creature and I had no wish to bother them further. ]
After all this, our curiosity ran thin and they departed the Citadel with no small sense of relief. This relief changed to concern when we found the horses, ready for them at the top of the rope. Since they had been secured a safe distance away, this meant someone had moved them in anticipation of the party's return. However being too tired to put much thought to the matter, and with no threat in evidence, we returned to Oakhurst.
Oakhurst was somewhat surprised to see us on the whole. We had entered the Citadel and returned to tell the tale, whereas the local expedition had met with an ill fate. Hercrule was pleased for our return, if sad of the tidings we brought. The signet ring of her son was returned to her and she rewarded us with 250 gold for their efforts on her behalf.
We also had a discussion with the mayor and constable regarding the threat of the twig blights and their true origin that they might better prepare for that threat. The mayor informed us that a member of the Silent Brotherhood awaited us in the tavern.
As we entered the tavern, they found spotting the brother to be a simple task - clad in white, with a veil over his eyes, painted with the image of a single eye, and sitting at a far table, he stood easily apart from the local population.
He invited us to rest after their ordeal and said he was present on Lord Gelban's behalf to return the fruit to him - the courier we were told would be present. He presented papers to the group confirming his identity which seemed to be in order. Frankly I doubt we had the strength to stop this single man, and if he wanted the fruit for his own purposes, I doubt he'd need to resort to forgery to accomplish it.
Lord Gelban's letter indicated that the brotherhood offered their services in this matter and had seen the portents of our success before it had happened.
We then proceeded to relate to him the true origin of the fruit, Bellaq, Vecna, and the symbol of Therizdun. Clearly this man knew much of the situation already, but there were certain elements, seemingly minor details to us, which seemed to clearly surprise him. He was taken aback by the unholy symbol. He also expressed some regret that his brethren had not more completely destroyed the tower and mentioned that it would be handled more permanently.
He also inquired if we found our horses in good order, answering the riddle of who left them for us.
After the discussions he placed the fruit in a small box with unknown enchantments on it, and left for his journey. The local folk seemed to pay him no mind, almost as if unaware of his presence. Even the din of the tavern seemed to soften for him and rose again after his departure. He urged us to take our well deserved rest and return to Lord Gelban when we were recovered.
After he left, I wondered if he had ever actually been there.
And now I sit, thinking about him and what he said. We've taken a few days in Oakhurst to celebrate and recover (from both the Citadel and the celebration) and we'll be leaving for Gradsul in the morning to sail back to Greyhawk. I've had some discussions with Scorch. I have had some magical talents that have manifested abruptly for many years but could never gain control of them. Scorch suggested that perhaps Lord Gelban could provide some type of help in this matter. Scorch is muttering frequently about research he'd like to complete, and I suspect that Jozan and Dravot will be pleased to return to a proper temple.
And still my thoughts go back to this Brother. He mentioned the possible involvement of the Scarlet Brotherhood. A name spoken infrequently and always in hushed tones. Indeed why were a force like the Silent Brotherhood even involved in a matter as simple as the sickness of Ariadne? For that matter, what caused her sickness in the first place? Lord Gelban may have uncovered that answer in our absence, not that I think it likely he would discuss it with minor servants such as us.
I'm left with the strange feeling that we have touched on some plan on a grand scale. Was this a minor matter with an obscure illness? Or was there some greater plan at work? Were we but ants moving in a field of giants playing some game beyond our understanding?
And more haunting, have we attracted their attention? The Silent Brother may have just come for the fruit to speed its delivery. Or was he also seeking to better understand us? The single eye on that painted veil seems to peer into one's heart, and I wonder what it may have been looking for.
In the end, I'm sure this will all be of no consequence and that the Brotherhood was simply doing a favor for Lord Gelban and we were simply part of the scenery. I suppose we will see as the years pass.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:58 PM #9
A Well Earned Rest - Chapter 1
A Well Earned Rest - Chapter 1
Wherein our heroes return to Greyhawk and find there is a deeper plot to Ariadne’s sickness.
Experience for this session was 850. 100 point bonus for Kayleigh.
Notes for next time:
An interesting mystery here. Rather than me repeating the same basic ideas, just read the last couple paragraphs.
This Week’s Adventure
After recovering our wits, we left Oakhurst behind us. The folk are nice enough, but I doubt any of us will be in a hurry to return. My human companions seem enamoured of Greyhawk and all it offers. Personally I find the place fascinating but I do occasionally miss the forests of home. We arrived in Gradsul without incident. During the time we reflected on our adventures, and I spent some time thinking of magics.
Gradsul was as we had left it – the last stop on a bad road. I arranged our return to Greyhawk on a ship that would depart in two days time. We took in the city’s sights but it had little to offer. Scorch spent most of the time in his room pouring over his books, while Jozan saw to Meepo’s re-education. At least Jozan bathed him and burned the rags he called clothes. Meepo does seem obedient if nothing else. Of course a lone kobold so far from home would not survive long. Then again, had Meepo remained at home, he probably wouldn’t have survived long either.
As we stood on the deck waiting to depart, a robed gentlemen arrived at the docks.
Arrived is something of an understatement. He appeared in the bay riding a massive wave of water, standing calmly atop it. Seemingly unaware of the interest he drew, he rode this wave into the bay and it stopped as it approached the docks. A massive pod of water reached out to the pier and froze in place forming a bridge of ice which the man walked calmly across. The water elemental then dispersed at an absent wave from him.
He was tall for a human – 6’2” with black hair and dark skin and carrying a staff of gnarled wood akin to driftwood, set with a large gemstone. His blue silks and cape flowed around him as he walked towards someone on the docks – likely the first person his gaze fell upon, and asked some questions. His inquiries led him from person to person until he arrived to speak to the captain of our ship.
He got into a heated discussion with the captain. Heated, at least, on the part of the captain – the man remained calm and in short order the captain gave in to whatever he wanted. The ship left shortly thereafter, the man standing on the forecastle looking backwards across the water.
Scorch, impressed by the man’s control of the elemental, and recognizing a clearly superior power, approached him and struck up a conversation. The man was none other than Drawmij. He had convinced the captain to make a small detour to pick up some cargo. Later I learned that some of my fellows were unaware of who stood on that deck. Drawmij – one of the Circle of Eight – the shadowy group of powerful mages that has worked for years to ensure stability in the Flanaess, creator of Drawmij’s Instant Summons, a powerful summoning spell, and a man of great consequence. He was polite, if not terribly outgoing, and was clearly focused on the matter at hand. Upon reflection, the ship seemed to be moving faster than the winds would normally dictate. It seemed that Drawmij was somehow speeding the journey.
It turns out a small detour to pick up some cargo was also something of an understatement. An hour or so after leaving port the ship stopped for no apparent reason. Out of the sea rose a beautiful fortress seemingly made of shell. It had towers and spans and the mid day sun gave the shell a pearlescent sheen, dancing with the water that it had simply arisen from. It was a breathtaking sight and one I will not soon forget. With the fortress appeared a dock and the ship drew along side it. Drawmij leapt off the ship and entered the place, and shortly thereafter the cargo appeared. Large crates on top of flying carpets that hovered just off the docks came to the side of the ship where they were loaded by crew into the cargo bay. I lost track of how many but there were at least a dozen. After it was loaded, Drawmij returned to the ship, and the fortress slipped silently back into the sea, leaving me to wonder if I had dreamt it all. Drawmij, content that the cargo was safe, went below decks and I rarely saw him for the rest of the trip.
On the sixth day we began to see the lands surrounding Greyhawk, passing Hardby on our right. The docks of Greyhawk reached down from the city proper like some misshapen appendage crawling with a life its own. Inspectors arrived to inspect the cargo and went below but after much noise and implied rousting they were run off the boat by Drawmij. As we were leaving the docks, I could see Drawmij emerging from the cargo hold, apparently undisturbed by the whole event.
Leaving the chaos behind us, we proceeded directly to Lord Gelban’s estate - a high manor house in the heart of Greyhawk. We were welcomed warmly by the guard captain Æthelweard and told that Ariadne was feeling much better and was now up and about. We awaited Lord Gelban in an antechamber who joined us shortly after concluding his business with a very old elven gentlemen. (Interestingly he bore no mark of rank or insignia of station.)
Lord Gelban was dressed in green silks with a circlet nearly lost in his brilliant blonde hair. He welcomed us, and was most grateful for our successful recovery of the fruit and our safe return in the face of such trying circumstances. We enlightened him on some of the more troubling aspects of the mission and I was relieved to see he had taken our warning and removed the seeds of the fruit to the safety of a glass vial. Ariadne was indeed feeling much better, having so far eaten two quarters of the fruit.
Lord Gelban was troubled by the unholy symbol of Therizdun. He was also interested in the doings of Drawmij on our return journey.
As a token of his thanks, he granted us each a boon. We withdrew and sorted out our business with his Steward, Nasir. I had given the matter much thought during our return. For some years now there was a magical talent within me. Odd things would happen at odd times, mostly strange lights and sounds. It didn’t take the elders long to realize it was me and then they laughed and all worry eased from their face. I had the ancient gift, they said, and someday might control it. In the meanwhile, I should simply let it develop as it may. Unlike most elven wizards, this talent would not be rushed by study or work, but blossomed on its own. Given the resources of our employer, I decided to ask if they could perhaps direct me. Nasir reacted as if this were a simple matter and arranged for my instruction from a page in Lord Gelban’s employ and further granted my request for a new bow of the finest elven craftsmanship. The others made similar requests for weapons and armor I believe but I am not privy to all their requests.
For the next few days we were largely separate. I spent my time in meditation and other unusual exercises. The elders were right – there was no forcing this gift – it was more a matter of learning to allow it to happen. (The night we spent in a drunken stupor was rather interesting, with odd lights everywhere. I’d relate more of it but I’m afraid I can’t remember too many details.) Scorch withdrew to his quarters in some other area of the city. He may lack grace but he is undeniably passionate about the Art. Dravot was in prayer at the Temple of Pelor. Apparently there is quite a bit of ritual that goes with his advancement beyond the novice rank. Jozan was also in temple, and spent time with Meepo teaching him the finer points of civilized life, such as not urinating in the corner. Valanthe and Rackhir were off in on their own errands but I must confess to having been too busy with my instructor to have noticed much else.
One thing we did make time for was to split up our discovered booty. We kept a few select items and sold the rest. For the time being, we kept the magic flute to investigate further. Upon some checking, Scorch and I learned it was possessed of necromantic magic and had some function that involved raising the dead. We knew that Jozan and Dravot would insist on it being destroyed if they learned of it, but this was likely a valuable item. We contacted Valanthe privately and she was able to sell the flute to one of her contacts for a sizable profit. Fortunately neither Jozan nor Dravot asked about the additional funds or the flute.
One evening, Dravot came storming into the estate making a commotion – he was gathering us up and heading for the manor house at the same time. He said he had a vision while deep in prayer –
In the vision, he saw two men. One was seated at a desk issuing orders to another man. The standing man reported that the Gulthias Prime had been destroyed by agents of Gelban’s and that the fruit had been used to heal his daughter. The seated man was very displeased at this news. He ordered the standing man to send a full hand to assassinate Gelban. When the other questioned it he said “Yes, all five.” He would also send the Dark Watcher. After the standing man had completed giving the orders, he was to kill himself for his failures. The man accepted this without question and left, while the man still seated clenched a dagger in silent rage. The dagger glowed and then melted in his hand, the molten metal forming the symbol of Therizdun on the desk.
Dravot was shaken by his vision, and consulted with his superior who believed it to be genuine. He rushed here to warn Lord Gelban. We found him in the garden with his daughter. Her hair was even more golden than his and she had much of her color back. Dravot relayed the contents of his vision to Lord Gelban in the hallway but it seems the vision was of what had been, not of what was.
For the assassins attacked.
The whereabouts of the guard was unknown. The only defense for Lord Gelban was us, hastily armed and unprepared. Five assassins leapt over the wall, armed with hand crossbows and morningstars. We wasted no time in taking the attack to them. Ariadne was in the garden 20 feet from us and we all moved to protect her as best we could. The bolts used by the assassins were clearly of some magical nature for a missed shot that hit a tree caused it to fade to a white color and crack. In the fight Ariadne was struck and fell unconscious but Valanthe managed to get her to Dravot. Lord Gelban worked a few magics, which was odd as that was not his reputation.
As the last assassin stood before us, paralyzed by Dravot, an unearthly transformation took place. He grew in size, twisting in shape to an unholy creature, the symbol of Therizdun burned onto his chest, pulsing with a dark glow. It wasted no time in using magic to call an oily black cloud over much of the field, damaging those within. I drew and fired a well placed shot but it seemed to shake it off with minimal effect – deflected by a slate-like skin. For my next shot I chose to use the magical arrow found in the Citadel – it had quite a bit more effect. This followed by a stout blow from Shatterspike and the attacks from the rest laid the beast low. The transformation reversed and the charred remains of the assassin was all that remained.
Ariadne was seriously injured but was easily healed once the situation was under control. Several guards had been killed by the entering assassins, and the guard was reinforced and sent out with more aggressive armament.
Valanthe mentioned that Ariadne seemed much heavier than she should have been for her size when she picked her up. This struck me as strange, as did the fact that the girl absorbed a lot more punishment than one would expect from a girl of her size. I’ve thought on this and had some private discussions with Scorch. A conclusion suggests itself but it’s too wild to even consider. It’s so far fetched I can’t even put it in writing. For now he and I will simply look around a bit more carefully.
I’m also left to ponder this desire to see Gelban dead. I say only ‘Gelban’ not out of lack of respect, but because I’m not sure who the target was. The men in the vision were surely of the Scarlet Brotherhood. And Dravot was clear and specific about when they said ‘Gelban’. I had assumed it meant Lord Gelban but the actions of the assassins seem to indicate that their target was in fact Ariadne. But why? What threat could this girl represent to them that they would so adamantly want her dead?
Another interesting detail is the mention of the ‘Gulthias Prime’. That kind of terminology would tend to imply that it was the first Gulthias tree, but is not the only one. The thought of a forest of those twisted trees was enough to keep me from resting that night.
I am also troubled by the source of Dravot’s vision. If it was sent by Pelor, why would Pelor be interested in Lord Gelban? Why would he choose to act through Dravot? Clearly the vision showed something that must have happened days prior, so why did Pelor choose to delay the vision giving us barely enough time to act on it? If the vision wasn’t from Pelor, what other power has an interest in Lord Gelban, and why did it choose to act through Dravot?
We are in the midst of someone’s dangerous game and must tread carefully to avoid becoming an incidental casualty. And Lord Gelban must determine the reason for these attacks and take steps to cut them off, otherwise sooner or later one will succeed.
Tuesday, 15th January, 2002, 12:59 PM #10
A Well Earned Rest - Chapter 2
A Well Earned Rest - Chapter 2
Experience for this session was 800. 100 point bonus for Scorch and Kayleigh for discerning Lord Gelban’s nature.
Notes for Next Time:
Pack your long johns, we’re heading north. We’re going to the Forge of Fury on Lord Gelban’s request and to get out of town for a while and let the heat die down. We have 10 days to prepare.
This Week’s Adventure:
After the assassination attempt, Lord Gelban requested that we remain on the estate. All of us stayed save Dravot whose temple duties would not permit it. We were milling about various areas of the estate, checking defenses and so on. I was on the wall discussing things with Captain Æthelweard when the gates flew open and a man barged angrily into the compound. I drew an arrow back and several others in the area also drew their weapons. Æthelweard was also readied himself at first, and then stood down when he saw who the intruder was. (Note that while I can say he stood down, I cannot say he ‘relaxed’ – merely his tension changed to a different type.) As the stranger was shouting “WHERE IS HE?!?”, the Captain put his hand on my shoulder and encouraged me to put away my arrow. I reluctantly did so. As more guards came into the area hearing the commotion, they saw the visitor, and immediately turned around and left the area, trying as hard as possible to be unnoticed in doing so. The visitor’s gaze fell upon Æthelweard and he demanded to know where Lord Gelban was, and Æthelweard told him he was in his suite. The visitor then stormed off to the manor house. Æthelweard moved to scurry off after him, but before I could go, asked him who this intruder was. He said only “Mordenkainen.”
The Circle of Eight are seen as a myth by some. And I have seen two of their number in the span of a week. Mordenkainen is the ninth wizard in the circle, and it’s founder and overseer. Clearly he knew of what came to pass here just now, and he was not pleased. But how did he know, and why didn’t he act? And why was he so angry about it. And why would a man so obviously learned not yet have come to appreciate the value of courtesy.
Scorch found me just after this and I told him Mordenkainen was on the grounds. We again discussed our growing suspicions. Until something was done, the Brotherhood would surely continue their assault until Ariadne was dead. We saw no choice but to face Lord Gelban with our questions in order to better understand the threat. Scorch went to speak with Lord Gelban while I remained on watch with the guards.
Now, as I come to write this, I’ve come to appreciate that this has not been the wisest decision of my life. Scorch is intelligent, and devoted to his art, however ‘tactful’ is not one of his qualities. I’ll make a note in the future to avoid such thing.
As Scorch arrived, he could easily hear Lord Gelban’s discussions with Mordenkainen. From the volume of their conversations, it’s no wonder that Iuz couldn’t hear them as well. Mordenkainen was clearly very mad and ranting about Gelban’s carelessness and he mentioned “the consequences if she is killed.” After hearing enough of this, Lord Gelban more calmly told Mordenkainen that he would not be spoken to this way in his own house, and that the welfare of his daughter was of a very high priority to him. Mordenkainen questioned the use of some of his agents – clearly meaning us – and Lord Gelban mentioned that he had researched them all quite extensively and that they are trustworthy. Lord Gelban then dismissed Mordenkainen, a move which annoyed Mordenkainen but further showed that Lord Gelban was not to be treated this way.
After Mordenkainen departed (by some type of teleportation), Scorch asked him about his nature. He was rather blunt about the matter, but Lord Gelban simply was disappointed in the incessant speed and lack of tact of the child races, and directed him to summon the rest of us immediately. (The implication of the order was somewhat lost on Scorch but he quickly realized he was to see to this matter himself and directly.)
After retrieving Dravot, Lord Gelban bade us sit and addressed us. He had a task for us. We were to . . . verify something. It was likely that his enemies and his daughters were moving to cause problems and something needed to be checked on. He again stated that he had researched us all thoroughly, even those of us with a more checkered past, and had determined that we were all trustworthy.
Beneath Castle Greyhawk, there is a chamber. Ariadne’s half brother is imprisoned there. We must determine that he is still safely bound. There are other extraplanar beings bound in this chamber – originally there were nine but now there were eight (Iuz of course had been released). We must not engage with any of the beings bound there – to do so would be perilous. And do not touch the stars. (He explained this no further and we assumed its meaning would be plain later.)
Lord Gelban gave us the last quarter of the fruit. The seeds had not yet been removed and we must do so before setting out. In the chamber in the castle is a being, as dark and shadowy as Ariadne is beautiful and light. He is bound there, and will have wounds on his chest. He will not be able to move or respond but will eat the fruit if it is placed in his mouth, at which point the wounds should disappear. He and Ariadne are linked – when she was ill and given some of the fruit, some was also given to this being. Now she has had more and he must have the rest to maintain the balance. If he is not there, or is not wounded, then he is at risk of becoming loose and we must report that.
As for Lord Gelban himself, Scorch and I were correct – he is indeed a gold dragon. He is called The Gilden among his own kind and leads a council of similar folk, including Nasir, a copper dragon, called The Cupric. Dragonkind it seems does not quite trust the folk of the world to see to its destiny and is making efforts to guide matters. Lord Gelban questioned our conclusion that only the Scarlet Brotherhood was at work here and it seems we may be in error – there may be more at work than just the brotherhood – the methods of the assassins do not seem consistent with their methods.
We must set out immediately for the castle – Lord Gelban cannot go himself. Apparently the protections of the chamber bar any who would be powerful enough to release those contained therein. (A wise precaution I suppose.) Lord Gelban gave us a key, and indicated that Mordenkainen would be waiting for us at the Castle.
We prepared quickly. While we gathered our weapons, Scorch removed the seeds from the fruit. [And rolled a 1 on the skill check. Disturbing indeed.] Once we were ready we headed through the city to the castle. There were few people on the street this time of night, and Valanthe spotted someone who seemed to be following us. As he was seen, he leapt to attack. He stated only that the Enlightened Cousin had declared our deaths. (This is a term of rank used by the Scarlet Brotherhood, and surely this monk seemed to be trained in many of their ways.) He leapt into the air and landed amongst us, stunning with his fists and striking blow after blow. Even surrounded we were hard pressed to put a weapon on him. Every arrow I sent his direction he knocked aside or simply twisted to avoid. However even this skilled man could not avoid our blades indefinitely and we slowly wore him down. He appeared to heal himself by sheer will alone and continued fighting. We began working in concert and eventually Valanthe scored a mortal blow. He lay near death and we debated keeping him alive for questioning. It was my belief, shared by others, that if he reached consciousness, he would kill himself to avoid questioning. So I simply dispatched him and we hurriedly moved on to the Castle.
Mordenkainen was there waiting and we told him of the ambush. He stated that he would deal with the body. He reiterated our purpose and the warning not to interact with the other beings. He said that there were three doors at the bottom of the stairs and that there was some degree of randomness and shifting about the place and there was no way to know what we would face on the other side of those doors. The guards escorted us as far as the top of the stairs and waited there for our return.
Three doors faced us – one of wood, one of steel and one of stone. For no apparent reason, Jozan and I seemed to favor the wooden door and on that one we used the key. It glowed blue and opened for us. On the other side was a rough hewn stone hallway. Jozan and I entered but when Valanthe tried, she was stunned and thrown back. At that point the humans all realized they had a preference for the steel door. The key was handed over and they opened that one and entered easily. Oddly the door opened onto the same hallway and once through we all stood together. We theorized that the stone door might be for those of dwarven descent but continued on our way.
We came to a small stone room with a huge glowing piece of malachite casting a green glow. The floor was tiled and clearly in disuse. Valanthe determined that every few feet the tiles were trapped and would give way. However as I examined it, I seemed to both agree and disagree – the floor was trapped but the spots she said were safe, I saw as unsafe. We both carefully tread on the areas we saw as safe, and we both seemed to be right. Indeed this place seemed to be the same yet different depending on the race of the person looking.
The next room had a pair of rope bridges crossing a chasm. We were beginning to understand the nature of these traps and Valanthe and I each looked for which one was real to us. Valanthe was able to stand on the left bridge, but neither seemed real to me. Jozan tested the floor however and found that while it seemed to be a deep chasm, we were able to walk on it. With this we all crossed the room.
The next room had a series of narrow beams criss-crossing it. One set was real to me and I set across it. The humans were able to walk on the floor this time. However the beams were slick and both Jozan and I lost our footing. Fortunately since the floor was solid to the humans they were able to assist us and we all crossed.
The next room was the chamber we sought. Around the edge were eight mirrors. Large patches of the floor were gone, replaced with the night sky. (The stars Lord Gelban warned us of.) In the center was a raised dais with a dark beast on it.
Scorch handed me the fruit and I braced myself and entered. I wasn’t a few feet into the room before I felt a tugging on my soul. I tried to resist it but I was drawn away. I found myself standing in a clearing in a forest. Nearby a figure sat on a rock in brightly colored leathers playing some kind of instrument. Instead of my armor, I was wearing a colorful dress and my bow was gone, though I still retained the piece of the fruit.
I hailed the figure on the rocks. He showed some interest and turned. He wore a mask, such as those in the theatre, of comedy and tragedy. The mask shifted with his mood as he spoke. I came slowly to realize that the figure before me was Olidamarra, who must be one of the others bound in this chamber. Lord Gelban had warned us not to interact with any of them, but it seems I had little choice.
Our conversation was strange and disquieting. Even when he spoke to me, he seemed distracted on other matters. When asked why I had come, I took a risk and spoke the truth – a being such as this would surely have seen through any deception anyway. He commented what a fine wine that fruit would make. I said something of the scarcity of the fruit now that the tree was gone, and he said that there were others and to simply seek the twig horrors. (Confirming our fears, if this creature is to be believed.) He commented that he had “uses for one such as me” and “would summon me again”. Some of his words made me think he was not completely bound here and that he still had influence in the mortal world. He then released me but I was so shaken that I could not move for several minutes.
To the rest of the group I was simply frozen in place and not responding. Valanthe entered the room but before she reached me, she too was drawn away. She found herself in a desert, a nomad in a turban walking nearby. He said he was the unsought one. (We later learned this is apparently one of the old Sule gods who is no longer worshipped.) He cautioned her to beware the Tripartate and any mortal who quests for it.
Eventually we were able to re-assert ourselves, or perhaps the powers that held us were simply no longer amused and let us go. I approached the dais and saw the dark beast bound and motionless. Scorch believed him to be a cambion – a half-demon creature. He was wounded on his chest, as we had been told to verify. I placed the fruit in his mouth and he slowly chewed and ate it. It seemed as though he did not wish it but was compelled by his binding – the juice even ran down his chin. The wounds on his chest disappeared after he ate the fruit and we were satisfied that all here was as it should be. Avoiding any further eye contact with the mirrors or the stars, we left quickly.
Our departure was uneventful. Upon exiting the castle, a small ball floated in the air, with a mirror-like shine to it. It saw us, examined us briefly, and then floated off. We shrugged it off and returned to the estate. There was no sign of a struggle at the street where we killed our would-be assassin.
Lord Gelban received us immediately. We reported the details of our trip. He seemed pleased at our report, and concerned by the attempt on our lives. He did know of the Tripartate and believed that Mordenkainen had placed the two known pieces in the hands of bitter rivals to keep them apart.
Lord Gelban offered his thanks for protecting his daughter and seeing to these other matters. He again displayed his generosity, gifting us each with 250 gold pieces, and an item suited to us. Valanthe received a finely crafted set of tools suited to her trade. Jozan received a holy symbol of his order of the finest silver. Dravot was presented with tools of his order, for practice amongst 'the shadowed'. Scorch was provided with a small box that he examines and jealously hoards, never allowing others to see. It bears the seal of the Abjurants, his guild. Rackhir and I each received five arrows of surpassing quality. I plan to study them carefully so that I may make more in the future.
After some reflection, Lord Gelban concluded that we should leave the city for a time. This would allow the situation to cool and the Scarlet Brotherhood to turn its attention elsewhere. He would be moving Ariadne to a safe location and therefore would be protected.
He would send us northward to seek out Glitterhame. An old friend – a dwarf – ran afoul of orcs and retreated to the Yatil mountains and made a fortress and enchanted weaponry to protect it. We are to find the forge and any remaining artifacts. He would like us to return with any swords and any useful documentation. We must journey northward and seek the Stone Tooth – a mountain of some kind I’m sure.
We all made ourselves ready. I finished my instruction. I was now able to control several small spells. I’m pleased by the spells I’ve learned but and somewhat inconvenienced by my armor. For now it’s a price I’m willing to bear.