WORK IN PROGRESS…
Moira and Vetnik waited silently in the temple of Cortox. She waited and watched, masking her concern with brave posturing for both Vetnik and their mutual adventurer, Lyssa. While this temple had made her feel safe all of her life, she couldn’t help but watch over the mage and feel helpless as Lyssa’s condition appeared to decline. Lyssa had arrived in Moira’s arms a limp, unconscious body, something else seemed to stir in her. Vetnik and Moira watched as her eyeballs rolled about wildly behind her thin, dewy lids that seemed fixed shut (no matter how violently her eyes rolled behind them.) Her body laid rigidly suspended in its pose, except for her fingers, which seemed to twitch and extend as if trying to reach out to someone.
“I don’t know what happened, I promised I’d help her,” Moira whispered to herself.
The attendant returned to the party waiting in the apse. Nervously, his eyes met Moira’s and waved her and the others to follow him. As Moira leaned down to pick up the catatonic mage, Vetnik stepped forward and placed his hand on her shoulder again. Moira stepped aside and obliged Vetnik’s chivalry. Taking Lyssa up into his arms, he followed Moira and the monk down the ambulatory into a vestry hidden behind the great altar. The party rushed deeper through the dimly lit halls, the lit lanterns cascading a series of candlelight-star patterns over their bodies. At the end of the hall was a large wooden door covered in another constellation of seven-pointed bronze stars. This was no mere constellation though, but one of the most potent sigils of Cortox himself — so Moira recognized. The monk banged on the door and just as quickly as the monk stepped back, it opened. Standing there to greet the party was an older man, bald and grey of beard. Moira’s steely pose crumbled at the sight of the man, dressed in the finest of Cortoxian vestments — luxe white and pale blue robes embroidered with metallic constellation sigils — she had turned to in many times of moral conflict.
”Your Divine Truth!”
The priest waved the attending monk away and he quickly obeyed, leaving the room to the four of them. ”My child,” he said in a soothing tone, taking Moira’s hands into his, ”I heard you needed our help. What troubles you?” This was indeed the reigning Architect Prime, Gemmen, longtime high priest of Greyhawk’s First Church of Cortox. He had long served as treasured friend and counsel to the Steelshaper family ever since his initiate days after leaving the Celestian faith.
Moira struggled as emotions began to bubble to the surface. _”My companion… I sense there’s an evil in her. Something is wrong and you were the only person I knew could help.”
Gemmen pulled away from Moira and waved them over to a nearby table. The slab of polished marble was inlayed with a moonstone surface. Draped over the opalescent panel were a series of shimmering white silks. Vetnik gently set Lyssa in the center of the table and stood back with Moira. The pair watched as Gemmen moved in closer to examine the case. He silently circled around the table and surveyed the effects of the trance on her physical body: her pulse, it seemed, had slowed considerably, while her body responded to no physical stimuli. He fingers continued to wretch and claw at the silks beneath. He moved in to examine the eyes when, as he peeled her lids open, a horrid manifestation waited for him. Shock twisted the high priest’s face as he watched the whites of her eyes flicker from milk to pitch colored, with the thin red veins webbed throughout surging with violent burst of red electricity. He closed her eyes and placed his hand upon her chest. Closing his eyes and whispering a sacred verse to himself, he held his holy symbol in his hand and sunk into a trance of his own. After a few moments of this quiet, peaceful meditation, Gemmen was startled back to reality. Quickly, he began to lift the thin white fabric off the table to cover and bind Lyssa.
”What…” Moira began to ask but stopped herself and waited for Gemmen to finish wrapping Lyssa’s body.
”You were correct, Moira,” Gemmen replied as he hastily finished draping the consecrated silk over Lyssa’s body. _”There is a presence in this one. Something inside that is not her.” Gemmen returned to Moira and took her hands once more, gripping them more firmly than before. _”I can extract whatever possesses her, but it will need to be contained. I cannot do that on my own. Gather whomever you can, we must take her to the Mage’s Guild at once!”
”I will go!” Vetnik interjected. Moira turned to her companion with a smile, her eyes keeping tears of worry and gratefulness at bay.
Vetnik nodded and gave Moira one last reassuring rub on her shoulder. He bowed to Gemmen before quickly taking his leave. Gemmen stepped away from Moira only for a moment and rung for his attendants, who arrived quickly and anxiously. ”Yes, Your Divine Truth?” the two boys asked in unison.
”Ready a cart for the girls and I, and bring a stretcher. Do so with a quickness!”
The pair of attendants bowed together and were off at his order, leaving Gemmen and Moira to watch over the motionless Lyssa.
Back at Pimpleton Manor, Zemilay Lyks stayed closed off from the others in his study. Seated just as he was when Moira and Lyssa left, he maintained his glare on the strange orb displayed before him.
The muted sounds of tiny knuckles gently rapping at the door pierced the weighted silence of the study. ”Yes?” Zemilay barked, keeping his eyes forward on the orb.
The door slowly creaked opened and a soft and fay voice called out. ”Gnomefriend Lyks, what’s wrong?” Finally, someone was able to snap Zemilay out of his own trance. ”Burbis,” he began as the small, bearded gnome approached.
”What troubles you, Gnomefriend?”
Zemilay took a pause and returned his eyes back to the orb. ”The thing that has kept me in solitude for all of these years, I believe, has found another way back into my life.”
”What do you mean?”
”The spell caster from Furyondy. She came into my home and I fear she brought something else here with her.”
”You don’t mean…”
Zemilay once more was silently fixated on the orb, leaving Burbis to tremble at what could have possibly been unleashed upon his beloved master’s house.
Vetnik bursts thru the front door of the manor. He informs the Druid and the twins of her possession.
“What trisoll got lucky?” Th
“Something demonic has taken hold of the girl.”
“I knew it.” Ze
“I knew that this would come back to haunt me. Where is she?” Ze
“Church of Cortox, Moira’s church!” Ve “We need to follow them to the Mage’s Guild.”
“We need to go quickly.” He beckons to Gibbs, the bear, to serve as his transport.
“Do you come or stay” Ze “I’ll leave Redscar here with you.”
“Oh good, we’ll stay and play while you’re away.” bb
“Send the birds for me if you need help, either one!” Ze
In Lyssa’s mind, memories of Modius’ mortal life. The time he spent adventuring up until his ascension. The vision ends with him witnessing the conjoining of Cortox and the chance to become his avatar. One last memory is imparted: shortly before the champions were summoned, she sees Modius binding a demon. One that curses his name and vows revenge!
On horse and bear back, they cart Lyssa to the door of the mage’s guild. Zem takes the wizard to task.
“Glarius, where is he?”
“Go fetch him now!”
Glarius isn’t arrogant, but very confident. He invites him into his glorious mage chambers. Brimming with magical items.
“I hate to intrude upon you.”
“I appreciate apology”
“She is possessed by a demon.”
“Is this the one you assigned to me? A demon child? lol”
“That’s why you were specifically requested.”
“What are these two doing here?” Gla at Mo/Gem.
“Me sir, I promise to protect her. I will take on any boon!”
“And the rest of you, do you wish to incur a sort of boon to defend her?”
Trisll watches Lyks step forward, and steps forward as well. So too does Vet.
“She is related to Modius” Lyks
“The mage’s guild will not provide service to two heretics.”
“After all I have done for this city, but this is not the city. Do not come to me and tell me that you are owed anything. The champions of the stars did nothing for the guild. With the exception of yourself and the Lord and lady Black. We are both men of reason.”
“I would be most gracious for your assistance. I will take on whatever debt need be paid.”
Gladius moves over to Lyssa and sees the scroll in her belt.
“There was a wizard who helped us on the road.”
Gladius reads it and smiles. “Uthar, eh? A wise man with a valuable gift. This will actually assist in the procedure we insist to cast here.”
Gladius casts over a mirror above them, beyond it the party is shown a beautiful woman intensely casting a spell over a table, crafting a magic item. In the background, a vicious lion with fiery fur.
“Edaveria, dear. Come attend to your prospective student. Friends of Lyssa only, you are to attend and only you.”
“Was anyone friend’s with Lyssa? Was she friends with us?” Th
They take Lyssa to the magic lab. Glarius and Gemmen work together to inspect her body. The twins stand back and watch, while Moira, Trisoll, and Vetnik watch while Gemmen paints symbols of Cortox on her body. As he prepares the body, the lab door bursts open and the woman from the vision saunters in followed by her lion. She looks down. “Hello, little butterfly? What’s wrong with you?”
“We’re here to perform an exorcism. I assume you’re here to do the binding.”
“Ugh, of course I’m here to do the binding.”
Gemmen finishes painting the symbols on him and intones a spell of Exorcism. He cants Forbiddance on the area. Zem comes behind him and places a reassuring hand on the priest’s shoulder.
While the exorcism begins, visions of grizzly Hell flash thru Lyssa. The visions are most terrifying, the crimes of the pit unfold. Suddnely, Lyssa’s body rises and jerks off the table. A demon presence emerges from her chest, from red mist to life. It immediately tries to plane shift away but is locked and trapped in the forbiddance. It does whatever it can to intimidate the party but fails to instill fear.
Edaveria incants a spell, “Back to the abyss, demon.” The demon is whipped from the plain, the portal explodes and the smell of metallic lightning struck earth fills the air.
Moira wakes Lyssa and feels a sense of peace. Moira hugs her dearly, Lyssa doesn’t fight back. Cowering, Lyks kneels to Lyssa and explains what happened. “Given all that you’ve been thru, this is going to be a hard story to follow. All of you. There was a time we had to go to Hell to fight a demon, Bolothamogg, after he took an orb that belonged to a friend, Modius. I always feared. Do you know Modius?”
“He is my father.”
“Who is Modius?” Th
“Well, back in the day, we didn’t know much about Modius.”
“Did you know this whole time?” Th
“No, but I suspected some connection.”
“So the demon had a vendetta and when he couldn’t find Modius he took Lyssa instead?”
“This demon also kept me from my wife.”
“I’ll have you know, dear.” Eb
“Who are you?” Ze
“I am Ebeviria Yzmari. So this is the child I am to tutor?”
“Will you handle her temper?” Ze
“I had months to plan this while you were gone.”
“Let us discuss this boon. Those of you who accepted, step forward. I am going to keep you in strict confidence, as you know. Since the white event, magic has been broken. Some areas where spells go wild, surges or even worse, not at all. These dead magic areas, you see why these are of concern. Especially when one has been concentrated into an orb. I need this anti-magic orb, I cannot send my men because I’m powerless to stop it.”
“Sounds scary” Gr “I don’t have any magic, so I don’t have much to worry about.”
“I accept on their behalf.”
“Very well then, good day to you.”
“I apologize that I had never known your existence. Modius was my friend for a long time and it pained me to see him leave. It’s why I keep his things as they were. I would love to take you to his apartment.”
Thom’s tutor – Lacte Furlow
“This apartment, all of it within is yours now.”
“Someone spoke to me. In the void.”
“What?” Zem reaches out to embrace Lyssa but she recoiled.
“The voice said the orb was the eye of Modius, and that it was my legacy.”
“The orb and everything in the apartment are now yours.”
Grum goes to see his mentor at the thieve’s guild.
“I’m here to see someone?”
The barred door swings open after a few moments waiting. He lets him in, pointing him down the hall.
“You’re all right!” Gr
Grum enters and sees a short, stocky man drinking beer. “You want a beer?”
“Thanks for your hospitality.”
“What brings you here?”
“I was sent here by Master Lyks.”
“Lyks told us you were coming a long time ago.”
“Oh, that’s news to me.”
“The reason the guild master asked me to tutor you, he said you wanted to be able to scrap instead of just pilfering.
“Good, let’s go visit the bazaar and make someone’s pockets a little lighter.”
“Great, I have no problem with that.”
The two men finish their beer and walk past the Church of Cortox and into the bazaar. Grum is going for a townsperson instead of a flashy tourist. Grum walks up, chatters up a guy for a moment and cuts off his pouch. He steals it finding 96 gp.
“None whatsoever. You made a good mark, and it paid off. Keep being smart like that. As far as swordplay, we can go back and duel. We’ll run through some drills and talk about compensation later. One hand takes the other, right? It’s nice to finally have a student with skill!”
“I appreciate it.”
“If you don’t have one yet, visit the quartermaster at the guild and we’ll set you up with a new lock pick set.”
Thom goes to the inn of the weeping willow, near the mansion. Inside, sitting in an alcove sits a 60 year old bard with 7 students. He sticks around to see the choir perform for him. The old man is harsh, as one student breaks down and cries at his critique.
A bartender asks “You want anything?”
“Sure, some dwarfsod. The whole kettle!”
“Yes, in fact!”
“Here’s your pot.”
“I’m Thom drum, you?”
“I’m Kom, this is my bar. Where were you when dwarves were getting stabbed?”
“It was in all places, elven land.”
“Enstad the wonderful and hospitable.”
“What? Anyone who’s escaped from those jails gets a beer on me!”
“Yep, got himself stuck in the Lort Mountains.”
“How did you find yourselves all the way out there?”
“Extended vacation, the wanderlust took hold.”
“If you’re an adventurer, check out the Barrow Hills. I hear there’s treasure to be found.”
“Cheers! I’ll see what I can find.”
He wraps up his conversation, the bard students are better as the list goes down. Their quality is better, the other drummer is not that great, but the flutist and lutist are the best of them. The drummer’s style is much different, not quite like a human from around Greyhawk. He looks more Tiger Nomad, and his drumming reflects that. The teacher gives gracious notes to the last 3 students at the belittlement of the other students.
Thom offers to show off his skills to the students. He makes it beat beautifully. The other drummer perks up when he hears familiar Tiger Nomad rhythms. _”Tok, what did you think?”
Tok silently approaches and begins to beat more confidently with stick, fingertips, and palms. Thom attempts to retaliate, but fails.
“And that, students, is how you burn.”
“Well played, Chann.”
“I hear you incurporating Northern influence in your drums.”
“I have the North in my blood. And, under my cloak.” Thom whips out his wakashazi.
“Interesting weapon for a bard. Your attempts at marrying styles is clumsy,but over time Master Furlow will teach you. I take no pride in your shame.”
“No shame for me, I’ve been beating them on the battlefield far too much.”
“Pleasure to meet you.”
Lyssa and Lyks head to Modius’ apartment, which is guarded by the Black family’s hired guards. “It’s fine, the door doesn’t open for anyone it’s not supposed to.”
Lyks brings Lyssa up the spiral staircase and to the dust covered flat.
Lyssa looks around and sees the lab and magic items and less dusty orb stand. Over a fireplace is a portrait of Modius, its eyes seem to follow them as they walk. She does her best to suppress the new sensations.
“Do you wish me to stay or go.”
“Then do be so kind as to show me out.”
Lyssa escorts Lyks down stairs and goes inside alone. The door opens upon her command. Once back inside alone, she surveys the the room and sees a trio of keepsakes. They remind her of Drayden, Vortis, and Lyks. Each keepsake is a token from each world visited.
The twins decide to stay in their own house inherited from their parents. At Modius’ apartment, Lyssa scans a wand she finds using detect magic. She senses the wand is still potent, beaming with divination spells. She finds no personal tomes but does find records of the different monsters he’s encountered.
The next afternoon, Thom goes to forge a wakashazi blade, steel base with a silver coating. to be made ready in 3 days time, using 250sp. Grum spends his day searching the bazaar for a new bow, but first, new garments to enhance his stealthiness.
“Friend come over. You look for sneak, I have… boots of elvenkind. 2000gp. These boots, elvenkind.”
Grum inspects them, and asks to try on boots. The dealer summons over a big lug to watch him. They fit perfectly. “You like, you buy?”
“I’ll think about it.”
Grum turns back around and realizes he has gems and tries to haggle.
“2000 for boots.”
“You like gems?”
“I love gems.”
“Take this, and 100 gp.”
“I don’t want semi-precious.” he points to 2 of the more precious gems. “I take these two, you take these boots.”
“Fair enough.” Exchange is complete!
Grum continues to look but none of the bows are in his current price range.
Vetnik and Moira head to Vortis’ house. “I think my dad really likes and respects you, as a cavalier.”
“Both of those mean a lot to me.”
“I’m happy to bring you to see him.”
The pair find Vortis as white as a sheet. “Moira, come inside.”
“Are you ok?” Ve
Vortis rests against the two of them and inside they see a young knight. “Lady Steelshaper. I am Norrin, I was there when your father fell. I was just a little boy. He saved my mom, my dad, my whole village. I caught him as he fell, he made me promise to come here after I when through my rites of manhood.”
He presents Vortis’ shield and Drayden’s sword. Vortis is beside himself with shock. “This means a lot to me, and Moira… and Barth, wherever is he is. You’ve traveled far, I offer you a stay in our home.”
“But Vortis, if you don’t feel up for it, I’m sure zen wouldn’t mind.”
“No! What he’s done for me.”
Moira and Norrin talk. Tearful, she thanks him for having something of her father’s. “I wish to train as a paladin of Cortox.”
“Abosultely I will take you to the church to receive training.”
Vortis presents Moira with her father’s holy sword. Vetnik watches in awe. Moira is overwhelmed and presses her body into her father’s for a moment. Moira calls it “Starstrike” in honor of her father.
In the evening, Moira escorts Norrin to the priesthood at the Church of Cortox. He’s in awe of her and fancies her. At Pimpleton manor, George prepares a dinner of gorgeous meats and root vegetables. Moira runs and embraces Lyssa as she is last to arrive. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend.”
“No, it’s alright. I’m just… trying to process the past 24 hours.”
Lyssa describes the time Lanthis got turned into a lute to Lyks. “It’s like I have two minds in one. I know everything and still have no answers.”
“You have help now. An apartment, a tutor.”
“You said back at the guild that I reminded you of him.”
“No, we didn’t get along but I always cared for him. He left and I lost someone I loved.”
“At least you got to meet him.”
Downstairs, Moira does her best to restrain her tearful enthusiasm to Thom’s entertainment. Zemilay enters.
“I thought I’d never see that again” Lyks
“That sword, it’s his old sword.”
“In honor of my father, I’m going to call it Starstrike.”
“That was a very special sword.”
“There’s other gods” Trissy
“May I have the orb?”
“Do you need it now or may I eat my dinner?”
“By all means, I’d hate to be rude.”
“Thanks for your permission.”
Thom talks about the treasure to be found in the Carin Hills, following the tip from the mage’s guild.
“Lys, how ya holding up?” Th
“I’m…….. I’m holding.”
It’s been a long day for all” Vet
“Not for me, I’m going out!” Tri
“Before you go, I want to speak with you.” Lyks
“I wanna find your mother.”
“You can’t. The demon—”
“It’s gone now!”
“OMG you’re right!”
“I’m going to go somewhere else.”
Trisoll goes to the church of Tritheron, and seeks to find a way to contact his mother and tell her to come home. Lyssa asks for the orb back and heads back to her apartment. The twins head to the Dripping Blade to find info. Thom puts the word out, tips on the Great Barrows for coin.
“It’s a grave site, for many, so don’t let it become yours. The Lord of Giantkind fell there. You’re definitely going to find Hill Giants there. That is sacred ground, and they’ll protect it with a vengeance. The other rumor is that there’s a curse on the barrows against treasure thieves. Whatever it is, it’s supposed to be bad.” The informant draws a thorough map of the barrows and tells him “The bones of giants provide the essence of creating potions of giant strength. Even they’re weapons can be forged into girdles of hill giant strength.”
Lyssa returns to Modius’ apartment. She places the glowing orb back in its pedestal and burns a hole into the face of the painting of Modius before retiring for the evening.
In the morning, Trisoll pulls Lyks aside. “She’s coming back!”
“Like a week.”
“While she’s gone, take snowflake and get her back.”
Lyks is warm for the first time and he hobbles to get Xanti. “Don’t let them kill each other.”
Meanwhile, Thom gets new horses, saddle bags, and a pack of guard dogs to ride alongside the horses. They plot their trek to the hills, a 4 days trek past the village of Elmshire (where Ix is most favored.)
The party was once more back on the road, and it felt as if very little had changed. Grum still continued to lead the pack up through the plains, per the directions given to him by his brother Thom, he casually sat atop his horse scribing little details in journal whenever he could. Trisoll marveled at the sensations of the open road: the smell of fresh grass unspoiled by the chaos of urban life. Vetnik and Moira rode side by side, upright and sturdy. Lyssa kept to the back of the party, quiet but riding with a strange sense of calm. Gone, it seemed, were the constant sighs of dissatisfaction. She seemed strangely at peace despite the bedlam of the past few days.
Out of a large thicket a nest of 11 large spiders that leap out of the bush. Thom begins to drum, changing the dynamic of the group and boosting their morale. Vetnik charges forward on his horse and stabs at the spiders. The first misses with his longsword, the second is stabbed with his spear. The spider dies. Moira charges ahead with her longsword and cuts the spider down. Grum fires a bolt from his horse, and kills the first spider. The second arrow slains another spider. Trisoll calls out to them that if the rest of spider flee, they will be left unharmed. The spiders reply in their native hiss that they shall not leave, and will feed on their blood! The spiders leap at Lyssa but are missed. The two spiders attack Vetnik but cannot pierce his armor. Same for Moira. Lyssa fires off a fireball and burns the two attacking spiders but also burns the paladin in the process. The spiders attack again, but only manage to bite at Trisoll. Trisoll staggers and falls victim to the venomous spider bite.
Moira rushes over to Trisoll and immediately tries to heal him but sadly only revives him slightly. Grum shoots at the spider that took a bite out of Trisoll and kills it. Vetnik swings wildly kills two of the spiders. Thom fires his arrows at the last two spiders but only kills one. Lyssa ends the last one with a series of magic missiles.
“I just need to cast a spell.” Tr
“You need to rest. Then you can cast.” ve
Trisoll rests and then casts cure light wounds on himself.