WORK IN PROGRESS…
In the week spent traveling back to Greyhawk, Lyssa’s mind was locked in a continuous storm of processing what effect winning The Games really had on her. The roars of adulating crowds and the three faces of humiliated opponents defeated in duels still swirled in her head at a rapid, blurry pace. Entering her apartment, she did her best to steel her mind as she inspected her home. Nothing appeared to have been taken this time, nothing of major significance anyway. Everything she could recall with two sets of memories seemed to be as it was. Both Wizard Locks at the front door and available window appeared to have held over the past couple weeks. Lyssa continued to settle in, stashing her winnings in a nearby chest and stripping herself most of her daggers. Setting them down on a nightstand near her bed, she noticed the Eye of Modius still resting in its serpentine stand. She sat on the edge of her bed and stared at the smoky black orb for a moment. In that moment, the tornado of thoughts began to settle and images started to slow down and crystallize. “Mother,” she pondered, “what would you even think of me, knowing where I’m at and how far I have come?”
She reached down, touched the orb and, upon placing her fingertips upon the Eye, triggered the same flickering glow as it always had in her presence. Lyssa brought the Eye close to her face and stared intently into it. The curiosity of her mother’s condition seemed to take precedent over any other thoughts in her head. Softly, her eyelids shut and fluttered as she sunk into meditation. A blurry vision began to come into focus. It was Violetta, not as she was but as she could be. Aged, pallid, shivering in her sleep under thin and mottled blankets. Lyssa reached deeper into the vision, doing her best to control the view. As she began to pull the frame of the vision out, she could see that this room was not one she was familiar with. It was small, undecorated and windowless, with a single candle burning on an end table. She strained to investigate but managed to pull out of frame more. Outside, a modest wooden building stood in an unlit hamlet. Surrounding it were thickets of trees, vast and rich, with no sign of river or lake. Wherever her mother was — or could be — seemed isolated. Suddenly, her concentration broke and she was whipped back into the present. Her eyes opened to reveal an empty, black orb resting in her palms, her body seated in her own room with the candles still flickering, having ebbed a few drips more of wax. Lyssa placed the orb back in its stand and began to resume her bedtime ritual. Still seated, she drew the last of her blades from behind her belt: the red-bladed dagger from Athas, which she had yet to use in combat. She examined it in the dim glow of the candlelit room, watching the flickering flames distort and dance through the transparent red blade. Breathing in, she closed her eyes and once more began an attempt to tap into the second stream of memories resting in her brain. She clutched the dagger close to her chest as a dizzying wave of sensation washed over her. It was as if in a single breath the space she occupied had been turned on its side. The air filled with a pungent funk that recalled life back on the farms in Bayerton. She could feel the gravity of the room shift as something rigid and flat pressed against her back. She began to feel wiry, thin fabric float up her legs and across her breasts, covering her hands and the dagger held within. Overwhelmed with the sudden sensory changes, Lyssa pulled herself out from her meditation only to find that she was locked in no ordinary vision. She opened her eyes and surveyed her now horizontal body, covered in a thin, mottled set of blankets. She tore the rags from off of her body and sat upright and found herself at the edge of an aged, wooden cot. The room was not her apartment, but smaller. Much smaller, and much less decorated, bearing no windows. All of this was somewhat familiar though.
”Where am I?” Lyssa whispered to herself as she turned to see an end table beside the bed. On it rested a single melted candle with flame long extinguished.
Little did Lyssa know, dawn had come and gone and morning was well in its stride. It was at that early hour where the Black brothers were up and already quite active. In the early morning hours before breakfast, the pair made good on the lessons given to them by their bandit mother. While Thom dug spots throughout their yard, Grum carefully arranged a series of small traps around the house, ones he’d collected over his weeks of traveling and adventuring. Holes dug and traps set, the brothers began the task of divvying up their riches between the secret stashes. Grum did the work of hiding the riches, while Thom kept a log of the various hiding spots in and around the home. A bit of coin in a hole here, some gold in a small, poison dart-rigged chest there. They had learned well from their mother and father in the ways of protecting themselves and their valuables.
”What did you end up scoring last night at the bazaar?” Grum asked as he readied himself for a morning out.
Thom finished fastening his cloak around his neck and revealed a small, velvet sack. ”Just a few things for mother.” He untied the sack and revealed a set of fine crafted glass vials, each filled with a milky pale cerulean liquid. ”Elixirs of Youth. I figure these gifts will keep both mum and the old man happy!”
Grum winced at his brother’s innuendo and continued to finish readying himself in silence. Draped in their darkly colored cloaks, both brothers checked themselves one last time and made sure they were armed properly and all the traps in the house were set. Satisfied, the pair made their way to Pimpleton Manor for another communal breakfast.
At the manor, Vetnik was last to wake – not so much a result of a hearty night spent drinking, but rather an exhausted body and mind. He trotted down the steps still dressed in his evening clothes, his ashy blonde hair a tussled mess. To his surprise, a full breakfast table was already set with the Lyks family already gathered around. Zemilay sat at the head of the table enjoying his meal, with his hand in his wife, Xanti’s, who sat to his right sipping on tea. To Zemilay’s left was his son, Trisoll, whose back and head curved and slumped down towards his untouched breakfast plate. Burbis sat beside him, picking at his food with his legs dangling off the edge of his seat like an excited child.
”Gnomefriend!” Burbis cried out as Vetnik entered.
Trisoll lifted his stone-heavy head up and shot Burbis a pained look before turning to his handsome (if not a bit disheveled) friend. ”Vet,” Trisoll groaned with a smile, ”pull up a chair, you’re just in time.”
Vetnik complied and sat beside Xanti, who greeted the young prince with a kiss to his cheek.
”I trust you got much needed rest after your victory party, Vetnik?” Zemilay said, mouth still filled with chewed pork belly.
”Yessir,” Vetnik replied as George set down a plate of food before him.
“We’re all loaded now, pop,” Trisoll interjected, raising his cup of ale in commemoration! ”We did pretty awesome.”
“Not much as you. We all won 2000p. Except for Moira. We won the games!”
Zemilay sips his tea.
“Dad, why do I have to fish for your approval?”
“Don’t make this awkward. What’s the plan today?”
“I think it’s time to set up for another expedition.” Th
“No time to waste.” Gr
“Follow up on some leads, see who needs rescuing. I feel the need to explore!”
“Agreed! having all this money and success had made me feel pretty confident. Those Raven dudes get it. Seeking out gold and enrichment, as long as its done in the service of good.” Tri
“Without disrupting the balance of things.”
“Well if its political unrest you seek…”
“No! I’d rather find a dusty tomb or sunken treasure.” Th
“I’ve not been doing anything too exciting.”
“I know what you two were doing and it was gross.”
“It’s your mother. I’ve seen the women you keep company with.”
“I don’t bring them home!”
“Eat your breakfast that George made for you.”
“Fine. It’s good, George… real good.”
“Where are the ladies?” Tori
“Yeah. I’d like to see what they’re up to before we leave.”
“Well, we’ll check on Moira you and me (Vetnik).”
“I’d rather not.”
“C’mon! We’ll check on her and you go check on Lyssa.”
At the Steelshaper home, Vortis answers.
“I heard about your victory. Very proud of you. Moira’s pride is hurt, but in body she’ll be fine. Don’t worry about her.”
“Is she home?”
“No, she’s at church. She mentioned something about cloistering herself for some time. I’m uncertain.”
“I assume she’ll come back here, please let her know we stopped by.”
“You can visit her at the church. I see the way you look at her. Go talk to her.”
“Very well then, sir. I’ll see you soon.”
“Very good. And when you return, we’ll arrange some time for smithing.”
Vortis doesn’t care much for Trisoll’s buffoonery and doesn’t address him directly. Trisoll keeps his mouth shut.
The Black bros. head towards Modius’ apartment. They knock upon the door and hear no answer. “Lyssa, it’s the black brothers.”
He hears a muffled female voice from behind the door.
“Um… “ Thom leans into the door to listen. He unfortunately can’t make it out. Grum leans in to listen as well, but the door proves too thick.
They turn to each other puzzled. Thom summons his unseen servant to open the door, but it is unable due to the wizard lock. Suddenly, there’s banging upon the door on the other side. Thom stands back and casts dispel magic over the door but he fails against Modius’ powerful magic. “Lyssa!” Thom calls out, which the only response is only more muffled panic and banging.
“If that’s Lyssa, it doesn’t sounds like she’s having a good time.”
Thom and Grum look around but see no scratches or sign of invasion. Grum writes a note “Are you ok” and slides it under the door. After 2 minutes, the note is pushed back out and written in blood, a reply: “GET ME OUT”
Grum hurriedly works on finding possible traps while Thom cooks up a knock spell. Grum finds no trap and concludes it’s the effect of the spell on the door. Thom intones the knock spell and the door swings open a bit. Suddenly, a stranger rushes out of the door with a bloody hand runs past down the stairs. Thom draws his blade while Grum chases after the mystery woman. “Get back here lady!”
“No! Don’t make me go back!” the woman replies hysterically.
“Whatever happened, running in the street isn’t going to help. Come back with us and we’ll figure this out.”
“NO NO YOU CANT TAKE ME BACK!”
The patrol sees Grum running after the hysterical woman.
“Hey! What’s going on here?”
“Oh, my grandmother. She’s touched and has fled the house, I’m trying to get her back!”
The patrolman looks Grum over. Thom approaches, having heard every word. Using his acting abilities, he flawlessly executes a lie. “Sir, our poor grandmother is ill and we have to get her.”
The patrolman offers to apprehend her. “This is awful, we’ll help you of course! May the Gods be more fortunate to us as we get to her age.”
“Grum, find the woman and I’ll go get the others to bring back to the apartment.”
Lyssa, meanwhile, finds herself on a straw mattress in a filthy room. Lyssa stands, red dagger at her side, and makes her way to the door. She pushes the door open and she sees a path lead out to a declining set of stairs. Peering over the banister, she sees a pig of a man dressed in a white, mottled tunic, hawk a loogie sit in front of a desk. Lyssa creeps against the wall and casts Wraithform and sneaks behind him. On his desk, she sees a ledger with her mother’s name scribbled on it. She materializes and takes him by the head, placing her dagger against
“What is this place? Where am I?”
“What… what do you mean…”
“Keep it down!”
“Who are you?”
“I’m asking questions. Now tell me where am I?”
“More descriptive please.”
“The Brown Tusk.”
“Where is that at.”
Driving her blade closer to his throat.
“How far away is that from Greyhawk?”
“About a month’s travel away.”
“30 Days travel, give or take.”
“That name, Violetta. What was she doing here?”
“This is an inn… I don’t understand.”
“Talk and I rip your spine out.”
“You’re in for it now!”
A man enters. “Gimme a room!” The fat man motions, leaning his head. “I’ll give you a room if you help me out with something.”
“What do you need? I have coin, I don’t need to do you any favors!”
“I’ve got a knife in my back. Get rid of her and you get it for free.”
The fat man spins and turns to face Lyssa. Lyssa drops her dagger and casts scare over the room. The men are terrified and begin to scream. Urchins peer out of the room while others who are disinterested close their doors.
Lyssa searches him and finds nothing. In the desk she finds 56gp. She robs the unarmed man and takes 11sp. Lyssa dashes out of the inn and finds herself in a strange, small village.
Back in Greyhawk, Grum spots Violetta looking around trying to run to a city gate. He sneaks up on her with silent ease, hiding in the shade, and glides behind her and attempts to knock her in the head with the hilt of his dagger. She moves just at the moment Grum strikes and sees Grum. Screaming, she runs towards the gate away from Grum. Grum looks around and sees the coast is clear and throws a rock at her and knocks her against the head, felling her. Grum picks her up, dumps her against his shoulder.
“Is everything ok?”
“She’s fine. She just took a tumble.”
“Does she need medical attention.”
“Yeah. Take her to the church of Beory to see the druids.”
The patrol takes her off his hands and watches as they carry her away.
Back at Lyssa’s apartment, the door is once more shut. Thom heads to Pimpleton manor.
Vetnik and Trisoll head to Temple Cortex. Vetnik knocks, a low-level acolyte answers. Nodding, Vetnik answers “Is Moira Steelshaper around?”
“I dont’ believe we have a priest by that name?”
“She’s a paladin.”
“The one with golden hair? Oh yes, she’s here. Deep in prayer in the moment.”
“Is there somewhere that I can wait?”
“Absolutely. In the meantime, would you like to hear about the grace of Cortex.”
Vetnik nods to Trisoll and excuses him back to the manor.
At the manor, Thom finds Trisoll.
“Lyssa might be in trouble. I had to break in, temporarily. A screaming old woman came out and Grum’s looking for her. Lyssa is nowhere to be found.”
“I can understand her not wanting to answer my summons, but if she ever found her property tampered with she’d let me have it.”
“This sounds weird even for Lyssa. I’ll head back to see Vetnik know and hopefully Moira will be free too. Before I go, I’ll head back to see dad.”
“i know Lyssa isn’t your fave, but I think she’s missing.”
“What did she do now?”
“There was someone inside, some crazy old lady came running out. Lyssa wasn’t there.”
“Where is she?”
“We’ll find the woman. In the meantime, my love Xanti, can you help?”
“You want me to scry for the young lady?”
Xanti reaches out but finds too much interference. Something happened, something is disrupting her ability to reach her. “I’m sorry, my love. I can’t find her. I’ll try later.”
“Y’know. I bet when Lyssa doesn’t show up for her lesson, Ebeviria will find her in like two seconds. That lady is nuts!”
“You go find the others, I will find Ebeviria. Now… go!”
Thom sends Trisoll to bring everyone together. “There’s something keeping my mom from finding her, but Lyssa’s teacher is going to go nuts when she doesn’t show for lessons.”
At Temple Cortox, an acolyte comes to visit Vetnik. “A Trisoll is here to see you.”
In the foyer, Trisoll unloads their plan to find Lyssa. As they make their exit, Moira leaves her prayers.
“My friends, I hear that you have been waiting during my prayers. What can I do for you?”
“I’m unfortunately not here for better news. We have to get back to the manor.”
“Allow me to armor up, I’ll be there shortly.”
At the mansion, all except Lyssa and Lyks.
In Scorn, Lyssa finds herself among a seamy town with an oppressive criminal element. The people are poor and down-trodden. The air is oppressive. No one looks like they’re above a pauper. Lyssa finds herself at a trading post filled with ill-quality food and furs. A brothel with low-whores. No tavern. Looking to the signs, she sees signs for Fort Hendrix (NW), Sable Watch (N), Fort Scaguud (E) and Flechschreider (SW), Rookroost (SE, larger sign). She makes her way to the trading post.
“What d’you want?”
“Do you know of any transports that leave this little hamlet.”
“Hahaha! Transport? Did you not come on horse?”
“No quite. Are there
“Can I get a horse?”
“Steal one. Don’t recommend it. They’ll cut your hand off they will!”
Lyssa charms him for 3-4 weeks.
“You want to help me right?”
“Get me a horse!”
He returns with a horse, gaunt and ill-fed.
“You don’t like him?”
“No. You should get me the best horse.”
He steals the best horse.
“You gotta get out it.”
“Give me any coin and food I can carry. 57sp.”
Lyssa flees Scorn, and heads to Rookroost.
At the Uni.
“Zemilay Lyks, I recall you visiting the college.”
“I was hoping to speak with Ebeviria.”
“Ebeviria Ysmari? Do you want to go tell her yourself.”
“my name is not to be mentioned.”
“Of course. No one I recall in my old age.”
At her door, an acolyte answers Lyks’ knock.
“WHO IS IT?”
“SPIT IT OUT!”
“It’s Zemilay Lyks.”
“Why do I know… ah, of course. Send him in.”
Carthus roars as Lyks enters. Upon seeing Lyks, he calms himself and lies down.
“You do have a way with the animals. He’s usually more spirited. What can I do?”
“Lyssa is missing, and we do not know where she is. I was hoping there’s something you could do something.”
“Am I not doing enough for this lost waif?”
“I don’t know. I was merely trying to locate her and retrieve her.”
“Well, if she is not capable enough to bring herself back to the city in time for her next lesson, then she is banned. I expect her return in a week’s time.”
“Very well. Good day, milady. A joy to see Carthus, quite a handsome beast.”
“He enjoys you too. Good day.”
On the way out, an acolyte stops Lyks. He hands an envelope to him, sealed with the wax seal of Glarius Gladstone. Opening, he sees instructions for a favor. They have pinpointed the location of the anti-magic orb and they need it retrieved post haste. It’s somewhere in Blackmoor. Lyks tucks it in his robe.
At the house, Lyks finds the kids readying themselves. Xanti looks up from the ball “Lyssa flees Scorn!”
“Where is the woman in question?”
“She was taken to the Church of Beory.” Gr
“Ok… why? I mean, what about mom’s thing?”
“I’m going to see what we can do here.”
“We should head to the great library to see if they have anything on this Scorn.”
At Modius’ apartment, the Black brothers meet with Vetnik and Moira. The knights gussy themselves up and head to the jail.
“What do you think?”
“I think you’ll do just find.”
Thom and Grum remain at the apartment to investigate.
At the jail, a gentleman keeps watch of Violetta.
“Hark! What can I do for you this evening?”
“Hello. Someone, a friend’s grandmother whose old and unwell, is here. Can we speak with her?”
The guard is like putty in her hands. “Sure, of course… what’s her name?”
“Oh, I don’t know her name. I’m looking for a friend. She looks (description.)
“I found her, you wanna come back and talk to her.”
“What’s your name?”
Vetnik pushes past. “Moira Steelshaper, yours?”
“Thanks for everything.”
“What do you want?”
Emitting calm, he approaches. “I’m here to help.”
“What do… don’t take me back!”
“That place! I was in Scorn…I was away… I got away!”
“Got away from where? There are people here who can help. Get me out so I can run away, please!”
“I have an idea. Will you listen and cooperate? You’re not going to run away from me…”
“YOU’RE GOING TO TAKE ME BACK!”
“What’s going on down there?”
Moira wraps her arm around him. “I dunno, I should check it out.”
“Good sir, can we let her out?”
“No, no… she has to stand before the magistrate first?”
“She has dementia.”
“That’s not my call. I have to ask you all to leave. this was a bad idea. Please.”
Moira turns to leave. “Sir, I have to insist!” the guard says, edging Vetnik out.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Of course sir, but you have to go. This never happened.”
“We need to charm him and get the lock open.”
“They both need to be charmed. She’s mad!”
At the apartment, they reveal their failure.
“You want us to get the woman?”
“Or get information from her. I don’t feel good about breaking in.”
“We’re trying to help her!”
“What about your father, Moira? He’s close to the guard.”
“I could ask my dad. He could help.” Mo
Thom climbs the walls of the apartment exterior. Inside, he peers inside and sees nothing.
“I don’t see anyone. Just a lot of mess. Looks like the woman was trapped. Obviously Lyssa isn’t here.”
“Maybe her magic flubbed again?”
“Does she bear a resemblance at all to Lyssa?” Gr
Vetnik: “There is some resemblance, from what I could see in the cell.”
“Is Scorn a place. The woman didn’t want to go back there.”
“We have to find out where this Scorn place is?”
“To the Great library!”
At the library, they find a map that shows them the location is a month’s travel away. “Let’s see if we my dad found anything out from Lyssa’s teacher.”
“We should hit the bazaar and the guild up for haste and teleportation scrolls.” Th
“I don’t have much coin.” Mo
“Fine. Whoever won more at the games will pay more.” Th
At the guild, they’re awarded a scroll with 5 spells: Teleport w/o Error, Mass Invisibility, Monster Summon III, Sending, Massmorph.
Thom burns the Sending spell immediately, sending a message to Lyssa:
“We are coming to get you by horseback using magic to hasten our journey then teleporting back use your magic to help us. Your Friends!”
Lyssa, an hour outside of Scorn, hears Thom’s voice in her head. She stops off right by a riverbank. She sets up camp. She makes an herbalism check and finds Valarian Root. As darkness falls, she sets up a campfire and has her dinner.
“Ebeviria was no help, but that was to be expected. However, there was a letter I received.”
“Well, we have a plan,” Thom said, doing his best to reassure his mentor. ”We bought a scroll at the University with a series of spells that should hopefully have us there and back in no time.”
“Well, you had better pray to Boccob they work in your favor then. The Director of the Mages’ Guild has called in his boon. He has found a location for the Anti-Magic Orb, and he expects you all to be in Blackmoor within a week’s time.”
Trisoll stepped forward, placing his hands upon his father and Thom’s shoulders, ”Between the spells we just bought and our own skills, we’re more than capable—“
“You also have to return with Lyssa in a week if she’s to maintain her studies with Ebeviria.” Zemilay said, cutting his son off mid-sentence with a stonefaced glare. The party’s confidence was visibly shifted in that moment as they each wondered how they’d even make it all across the Flanaess in seven days.
”This will not be as easy as you presume it to be. This will require all of your cunning! Luckily for you, I may be able to get you to the Bandit Kingdoms much quicker than you all would be able to.”
The young adventurers collectively released a soft sigh of relief as Zemilay led them to the Church of Beory.
The party made their way to the center of the Church of Beory, where Her Great Tree stood and continued to flourish. All in its presence were dwarfed by its sheer immensity; during the day, clerics and parishioners alike would gather at her massive roots and go about their business, but all was quiet in the temple at night. Lantern light cast delicate silhouettes against the tree while brilliantly embroidered silk banner hung still in the breezeless clearing. Zemilay led the awed party to one particular alcove adjoining the Great Tree.
”This is but one of the Ways of the World. This will lead you to the Circle of Bones in the Fellreev Forest nestled between Scorn and Rookroost.” Zemilay informed them as they filled the alcove. The alcove was empty, save for unlit lanterns and a green silk banner with runes embroidered across it.
”Ways of the World?” Moira asked, her attention still divided between Lyks and the splendor of the temple.
”One of Beory’s many gifts: a means of traveling across the realm through sacred rifts she has made accessible to only her most devoted.” Zemilay took a moment and caressed the bark of the tree. The party could see on his finger a large, silver ring carved with similar runes as the banners in the church, and topped with a large emerald orb that glowed with psychedelic green light as he touched the tree. Zemilay lowered his hand and quietly turned towards his son. He wrapped his weathered hand around his other and quickly slid the large ring off. ”Take it,” he said, pulling Trisoll’s hand closer to him and placing the ring in his palm.
”Father, thank you,” Trisoll said as he embraced Zemilay. ”Wait,” he said, breaking from the sentimental moment, ”how do I use it? What do I do?”
”Simply put your hand to the tree. Touch it, intone the words, and Beory will take care of the rest.”
Trisoll slowly spun the ring around his finger, making sure to inspect each rune thoroughly. Zemilay stepped aside and ushered his son towards the tree before standing back with arms crossed. Trisoll gently placed his hand on the tree, leaned in and began to whisper the call to Beory. The party looked on and saw a majestic sight beyond the mere glowing of Trisoll’s ring: as Trisoll continued to recite the words, they could see the same green glow flow through the cracks and crevices of the bark, from above and below. With the final incantation made, Trisoll stepped back and watched the streams of the green energy collide. Like some strange flower, the glow caused the bark of the tree to blossom open, creating a gate and bended itself down to the floor, creating a walkway. Trisoll stood by his father in a daze; his father’s description of the Ways had never done the reality any justice. Thom quickly pulled out his journal and pen and took down a quick sketch of the Way before approaching.
”I’ll go in first,” Thom volunteered, bewitched with journal in hand.
As he stepped onto the wooden ramp, Zemilay gently grabbed at the eager bard. ”Be careful. You’re heading into the Bandit Kingdoms and they’ve not been the same since Dorakka fell.”
Thom nodded at Zemilay and took the first step through the Way. Setting foot through the gate, his boot fell down against a much different terrain: dry plains. Strange terrain for a forest, Thom wondered to himself as his whole body passed through.
The Circle of Bones was right, but even in his vivid imagination didn’t prepare Thom for the sight that awaited him. Beneath him was a plot of marred land, dry and peppered with spots of dried grass. In the dirt he saw large circles long dug into the earth: charts for the cycles of the Sun and stars. Surrounding the circular plot of land there stood a row of large spires. Thom squinted to focus and began to discern the details of the spires. They were not stone structures, but appeared to be made of endless bones fused together with crude earthen binder, bones that ranged in size and shape, from gnome to giant! He rushed to quickly sketch the circle as best he could while the rest of his companions emptied into the darkly lit clearing.
At the edge of the circle, a dark robed figure stood watch at the three of the largest spires. A fourth figure stepped out of the darkness and began to make his way towards the party.
One approaches, an intense yet graceful Druid named Corvus Felmark. Vetnik approaches in full regalia.
Druid of the Northern Reaches, Corvus Felmark, mans the Way of the World in the Fellreeve Forest. A Stonehenge-like structure that lies in the Bandit Kingdoms.
“Welcome, Corvus Felmark.”
“Good to meet u.”
“What brings u here?”
“We’re heading to Rookroost, unfortunately. We need to retrieve a party member.”
“How do you travel this way?”
“Ah, druid of Greyhawk.”
“I’m his son!”
Corvus cocks and glares.
“He is his son, and has been given permission by his father.”
“It explains your passage. This is a small refuge for a wood that is not welcome to your kind. Elves, you’d do well to hide your ears. Outside of the forest, expect to find Bugbears, trolls, and giants. if your friend is out there, I will pray for them. Where do you seek her?”
“How did she come there?”
“That’s what we’re here to find out!” Ve
“A magical mishap” Th
“Sadly, I can spare no men. My three Ovaes maintain the glamours that hide this place from those who wish us ill.”
Oak and ash trees. Inscribed in the earth are sun and moon charts. “This megalith replaced the great tree that once stood. 10 years ago, the dark elves…The Drow invaded and burned it to the ground. If it is RR you seek, know this: it is a large walled city. It’s prospered since Iuz’s fall to Lolth, the leader has killed all who could oppose him. It’s humans, orcs, half-orcs, and Drow. Take great care to hide your ears, they will do you no favors. It is the City on the Hill, refer to it as such and perhaps you can get by. Enter it at your own risk.”
“Gather round, friends.” Th beckons. The abide and cloaks them in a field of invisibility. “If we had to rent a barge, I suggest we make it on foot.”
“The paladin and the cavalier, do not fly your colors. It’ll only bring you cover.” Corv
Moira looks stunned. “I don’t know if I can do that.”
“If you try, it will mean imprisonment and death.”
“Thanks for the advice,” Vet
Corvus and his Ovaes offer fresh fruit and give the party a crude map. Thom summons a 10ft radius of invisibility and the party heads out on foot. The sky above is cloudy, but the day is warm. They make it to the river bank with no encounters. Casts Invisibility on Grum as the focus.
At the riverbank, Thom uses his pole in conjunction with his levitate and hooks a rope from one tree to another. Both Moira and Vetnik have removed their armor.
“I feel naked without my armor.” M
“Oh c’mon we do it all the time!” Th
Grum, goes across the river first with no issue. Tris jumps in and attempts. The first check he falls into the water. Carried by the current, he begins to doggy paddle back towards the bank. Vetnik reaches down to the river and grabs Trisoll and hoists him out, carting him along with him.
“We can’t both climb on this.”
Vetnik goes back and he waits as Tris successfully climbs across the rope again. Vetnik stands aside and lets Moira climb. As she makes halfway down the robe, a shipping vessel heads down the river.
“Vetnik! Get on the rope!”
“No, it’ll break!”
The vessel passes and the rope holds barely. Moira successfully makes the rest of the trip and calls out to Vetnik again. “Hurry!” In the middle of the rope, Vetnik falls into the river. He begins to paddle and he sees the vessel nearing him. He looks up and jumps out of the water, mad grabbing for the rope. He pulls himself by the rope, his legs being hit by the currents. He powers through and sinks onto the bank. The vessel passes just as he gets onto land.
“I was so worried about you.” Mo
Vetnik smiles silently and plays it cool.
Lyssa wakes up in the middle of the night, with three badgers rifling through her things. Unsatisfied by the lack of findings, they begin to snip at her.
Lyssa flash fries two of the badgers. Terrified, the 3rd badger flees. After awhile, she attempts to sleep and she sees, in the distance, a slow-moving massive tree slowly moving through the forest. She watches and sees that it is walking like a bipedal creature (a treant.) As dawn approaches, Lyssa is exhausted and sleeps. In the morning, she wakes to find herself. She feels vulnerable, having passed out. Antsy and awake, she gets back on her horse and continue towards Rookroost. About 10 miles out from her camp, she feels a sharp pinch at her neck. She reaches and pulls a small dart out. She darts her head around and sees nothing. As a response, she conjures a fog cloud around her. Suddenly, she finds herself unable to move. Dropping out of the trees, a half orc holding a trident and a net. He walks through the fog. “If it isn’t our horse thief? Not much to look at. I bet you’d fetch a better price in Rookroost. Sell you to Gotox the Slaver. How’s that sound? Oh wait, you can’t talk.” He throws a net over her and carts her through the fog down the road towards Rookroost.
Nearing Scorn, the party run into 3 barking jackals. As they approach, they think better of their lives and scamper off. Clearing the woods, they see a city (sparse and dirty). It is Scorn, poor and filthy. Villagers toil and daze off in drunken dazes.
“Should we step outside the veil?” Th
“I’ll come out, see what’s what?” Tris. “What about you, Thom?”
“No, I’m fine here. Their less than favorable attitude towards half elves. You humans are welcome to by all means”
“No, this town is radiating evil.”
“Guys, help me out if you see me in need!”
“I’ll help out with my sword.” Vet
“So… who should I talk to?”
Trisoll leads them into town while the others stay veiled. The town is in a stupor, nothing seems to have happened. No real sense of Lyssa or sight of her. Guards, however, are posted in the streets. “Anyone care to join me up here?” Tri
“I will” Vet
“You sure, you sure you can contain yourself if you see some bad shit go down?”
“Better than you being alone.”
“Just keep your bones ready. Come, we’ll check and see if there’s a bar around. I remember a place called the Black Tusk Inn…”
The others shadow him as he heads towards the Inn. “I’ll make an excuse as you guys hurry inside.”
Tris tucks his symbol under her tunic and enters. He trips and drops a few coppers. He kneels down to scoop them up and keeps the door propped open. One of the scrubs in the inn rushes in to grab at his coin.
“Hey, those are my—“
“You lost them!”
“Fine, keep them. I don’t care.”
Tris approaches the fat man. “Hey!”
“What d’you want?”
“I’m looking for someone who might’ve stayed here. She (describe) Lyssa. Did she do something to you?”
“Why… do you wanna find her?”
“Because… I wanna cut her head off. I’m here to exact my revenge!”
“I believe I have seen her. She left me and another guest in quite the state when she left. I don’t know where she was from, but she didn’t seem to know where she was. She casts some sort of spell on me, took my gold. Bring me an ear, I’ll pay you 50gp!”
“Sure! I’ll bring you both!”
Trios convinces the innkeeper of his fake hatred.
“Where next? Where would she go?” Tr
“If she knew where South was, she’d head there.” Th
“If she knew where she was.” Ve
“I say we keep looking through town. She’s a memorable character, I doubt she’d leave town in a quiet manner.” Th
After a time, the Hold spell dispels and movement returns to Lyssa. “Don’t even think about it. I’m ready for you.”
“You want a conversation? I don’t really engage, but it’s been a tiresome day.”
She intones Wratihform and rematerializes on the road. Half-orc Coback Ogudar spins around. He casts Suggestion over her and beckons to her: “Cooperate with me!” She can’t fight.
“Let’s just walk together.”
Trisoll, after meditating on a way to get to Lyssa, casts Messenger while in Scorn. A raven answers his telepathic call. He whispers something to the bird and it flies off. “I let her know we’re coming, that we’re heading towards Rookroost. If we don’t find her on the road, we’ll find her there.”
They continue through town and see no mounts for sale. “I can try finding some wild horses in the woods if you guys can wait for a bit?”
“Sure, we’ll keep close to Grum and wait for you here.” Trisoll leaves and fails his first attempt at finding horses, but as he continues his search comes upon a stampede running through the woods. They belonged to an army who had seemingly lost a battle nearby, and through the woods the horses fled.
In the meantime, the raven catches up with Lyssa. Flittering around her, it churns. She understands the message from Trisoll.
“I can track some of the horses for us. Vetnik, I hope you assist. Grum, scout ahead! Careful not to scare them, they could cause a stampede.” At the edge of town in the woods, the party sees the troop of horses breaking from their military training and slowly wilding out. Trisoll focuses to effect and calm the troop of horses. He begins, speaking to them, while Vetnik approaches to keep the herd calm.
“Hello! We mean you no harm. Please don’t run. We are friends, good!”
The horses are excited by the sight of the cleric. They trot closer. “Friends, we are your riders?”
“Riders gone, riders fall.”
“Help us? Make us your riders?”
Vetnik steps up with apples in his hands. They see him and are receptive, eager to eat.
“Other friend. There are more of us. Please, we need your help!” He pleads, tapping his staff on the ground to count. Out of the 21 horses, 6 approach in saddles. Trisoll and Vetnik step out of the clearing with prepared horses.
“Let’s go get Lyssa!”
The horses are OK with them riding. Grum hands his horse an apple after mounting. “They’re friends now, they can understand me. Like Mugwump back in the Marshes.”
“Ride fast, alright?” Tri to horse.
Off in the distance, Lyssa sees the sun begin to set behind the clouds. She can see mild torchlight. The forest gives way to the hills, and nestled between two hills is a crudely walled city. “We’ve arrived.”
“We’re going to visit a friend of mine now.”
“Of course, a friend.”
He leads Lyssa into the city.
The party comes out of the woods and sees Lyssa pass through the city gates.
“I think that’s Lyssa!” Gr “She’s walking there with someone.”
Thom casts Mass Invisibility over the party and they charge into the city after Lyssa. “Attack and the spell is undone. We go in, take her back with as little fuss as possible.
“By Cortex, how big do you think that city is?” Mo
Grum and Thom tie ropes to each other and climb the city walls. They succesffully make it and tug 3 times, alerting them to climb. Trisoll and Moira are first climb. Vetnik is last and everyone makes it. The Blacks undo their ropes, and still invisible, they see a population of humans peppered with orcs/half orcs and a few Drow. It is the first time any of the party has seen Drow. They pass a few taverns, a square filled with ravens, one called the Dirty Dog, for humans. Lastly, they see The Dragon’s Bite, appears to be for more well-healed clientele. The affluent are flanked by bodyguards. Thom makes his way towards the largest structure in town. It is not recognizable to him. Vetnik does though: “It’s a temple to Hextor, the evil god of War.”
Them hustles to climb while Grum is more lax in his approach. Thom falls from his attempt. Thom attempts a second time, but falls a second time. “This wall be cursed!” Thom rebounds and makes it up. Grum falls the first time as well. His second attempt fails as well. Bruised, he climbs after his brother. He nears the top but falls just as he reaches the top, crashing down on the ground.
Thom scans the crowd and spots Lyssa moving beside a half-orc. The stranger talks to some big dude flanked with two smaller goons. They are hill giants and an ogre. They are standing out in front of an open-air market. “Ravens, the market!” Thom calls out below. Everyone on foot follows Thom’s “Raven” bird calls and they all rush to the market. There they see coffin-like cells dangling from gallows, holding human slaves. Thom leaps down from rooftop to rooftop. He leaps to the next and tucks and rolls. Perched at the edge of the roof, he listens in to their conversation. He here’s the half-orc hagling over a price for Lyssa, who stands in submission. “5 gold!”
“3!” He barks back looking her over.
“Fine, fair enough! This man is going to take you, I’ll be back later. Wait here for me.”
Lyssa is escorted to a cage and locked inside, all the way in the back of the market.
“Everyone touch Lyssa, Ravens!” Thom calls out.
The group invisibly marches to the cage and surrounds her cage.
“Grum, open the door!”
Grum complies and cracks open the cage door. It opens and closes automatically. “Corbok?”
“Lyssa! We’re here to rescue you.”
“I don’t need rescuing, I’m here with a friend.”
Thom reads the spell and as he reads the last word of the spell, Grum grabs onto Lyssa and together the party is zapped back to Greyhawk in the living room of Pimpleton Manor, where the three men of the house are enjoying some men’s only time with coffee and smoke in the parlor.
“By Beory!” Zem
“Oh my!” George
The trio are interrupted by a flash.
“Master Lyks, Lyssa is under some kind of hex.” Th
Lyssa and Thom banter back and forth as Zemilay inspects her. Thom pries, trying to get a better understanding of the logic of the spell she was put under.
“What do you mean slavery?”
“How did I get back here? What happened!?”
“I believe the person placed a Suggestion into her mind” Zemilay interjects. He closes his eyes, hovers his hands around her head and cleanses her mind of the suggestion. Lyssa suddenly snaps back to reality, remembering all but confused nonetheless.
Then get to it, old man!
“I believe he put a spell on you. Was there anything that he said”
Lyssa I believe that this per
We had to free someone from your home!
I was, but just the eye.
I think your magic effected the switched places with the person found n your apart.
I don’t know. Come with me, I’ll take you to the jails to speak with her. We don’t know who she is but maybe you do.
“we gotta see this” Th
“I’ll run ahead and speak with my father, make sure everything is arranged.” Mo rides ahead. Vortis contacts the jails and arranges a meeting room with no attending guards.
At the jail, Moira is given the key to the cell and leads Lyks and Lyssa and the others to the holding cell. She unlocks the door and inside, cowering inside the cell is Violetta. She sees Lyssa. “NO NO WHY ARE YOU HERE! SET ME FREE!”
Lyssa stands. “Do you recognize this woman?” Lyks
“Who is she?”
The party stands in hushed shocked.
“How do you want—“ Zem
Even Zemilay knows when to pick his battles and leads the group out of the jails. Moira, on being the last to leave, turns and asks Lyssa. “Are you sure you don’t want any of us here?”
“Yes, you, please. Just… wait outside.”
“Nooo!” as Lyssa approaches.
“What are you doing here?” Lys
“I don’t know but I blame you!”
“How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know I don’t know. A few days. What do you want, why am I here? You don’t need me anymore. Just like your father. Once he was done, I was done!”
“What am I to you then?”
“Something from my loins?”
“There was no love…”
“Love?! Hahaha! Your father only cared for where I came from. Nothing more!”
“What do you mean, where do you come from?”
“Who are we… who am I?”
“My father was Zagyg, the Mad,” She mutters to herself. “You are Yragerne!”
“What’s so special about you?”
“Nothing, only what the blood of my ancestry could provide. You see that ruinous castle, built by the mad mage. That is your grandfather, foolish one. You are the combination of the Yragerne/Modius bloodlines!”
“What do you want now?”
“Freedom! Freedom from this place, freedom from you!”
Lyssa approaches and corners Violetta, who with no place to go, buries her face and curls up into a ball in the corner of the cell. Lyssa yanks her mother up by the hair and casts charm over her. She is charmed, for 2 weeks. “Let’s go home, mother.”
“Where is home?”
“You’ve been there before.” Lyssa leads the docile old woman out of the cell.
“You sure about this, Lyssa. I don’t think she knows what she’s doing.”
“Don’t worry. I do.”
Lyssa leads Violetta out of the prison. Before leaving, a guard stops her. Lyssa suggests he turn a blind eye and he obeys. Lyssa and Moira escort a charmed Violetta back to Lyssa’s apartment. “You all go on ahead. Thank you… for getting me back home.” Lys to everyone else.
“Are you sure you’re going to be ok.” Mo
“It’s been a mad few days, but I’ll be fine.”
“Lyssa, will you mother be fine with you?”
“She’s not harmless.”
“Lyssa, promise me: you will not shed any blood!”
“I promise. Again, thank you. You helped keep my head level.”
Sitting on the steps leading up into Pimpleton Manor, Trisoll, Vetnik and the Black brothers sat and waited for the rest of their party to return. For a moment, all was silent except the chirping of nighttime bugs and the occasional, far away banter between city folk.
”Man,” Trisoll began, the first to break the silence, ”did you guys see Lyssa back there at the jails? I mean, I’ve seen her pissed but this was something else!” The boys said not a word in reply but merely sighed in agreement, their eyes still fixed onto the stars. Trisoll continued: ”Do you all think she’s going to be alright?”
Thom turned around and looked up at Trisoll, who sat reclined against the steps above him, ”you think Lyssa would actually harm her own mother? Or worse?”
Vetnik’s armor rattled together as he stood and picked his helmet up and cupped it beneath his arm. ”Whatever has happened between Lyssa and her mother has no doubt been happening for a long time. She doesn’t want our help in this, and I say we stay out of it unless she asks us.”
Behind Vetnik stirred the sound of another set of armor clanging against the cobblestone path. Vetnik turned and saw Moira rushing towards the steps. Those resting on the steps sat to attention as she approached.
”How did it go?” Vetnik asked.
_”I am not sure,” Moira replied before taking a pause. The others leaned in closer, curious for more. ”Lyssa swore to me that there would be no bloodshed. I think that she will be all-right, the two of them just need some time together. Hopefully to mend.”
The Black brother stood together and began to make their way to the road to call it a night. Trisoll stood too, brushing the dust from the stone steps from his bottom and legs. It was a bittersweet end to the night for all, but the rest it seemed was out of their hands. Before leaving the courtyard, Thom paused at the gate and turned to Moira. ”Did you bother to mention Ebeviria to her?”
”Oh no, I—“
”No worries,” Trisoll interjected, ”I’ll get the message sent to her.” Trisoll clasped his hands around his mouth and his friends watched as he let loose a strange birdcall unlike any they had heard before. In a matter of moments, a large black raven dove down from the sky and rested itself on Trisoll’s hand. Trisoll leaned in and whispered something quiet and unknown to the rest of the party before setting the raven off on its own. ”There!”
Both mother and daughter entered Modius’ apartment in a daze. Upon entering, Lyssa noticed across the room a raven pecking furiously at the glass window. Lyssa waved her hand, knocked the window open and allowed the raven to flutter in. The raven entered and rested on Lyssa’s shoulder (something that might have provoked a reaction once, but not this evening.) There was something engaging about the bird’s incessant cawing, and as Lyssa leaned in to listen, she could hear its true voice speak: ”Ebeviria wishes to see you.” Before Lyssa could engage the messenger in return, the raven leaped off her shoulder and fled back into the night.
”What is it, my child?” Violetta asked vacantly. Lyssa’s jaw clinched as she turned to see her mother standing the parlor, her lips taught as they formed a charm-manufactured smile. Lyssa looked to her mother’s left and without word knocked the nearby pantry door open. ”Lyssa?”
”Get in,” Lyssa commanded in a low, cold tone.
”Of course, my child,” Violetta replied, obliging her daughter though slightly perplexed by her request. Lyssa moved in closer and watched as her mother inspected the sparsely decorated shelves stocked with little more than old bags and jars of grains and beans. ”What’s all this then?” Lyssa remained silent as she watched her mother. ”Is this where I’m to sleep tonight?” Violetta mused with a slight chuckle. Again, Lyssa said nothing and kept her eyes on her mother. Violetta turned to Lyssa, an expression of concern falling across her face.
She said, approaching the mage, ”My child, what’s the matter?”
Before Violetta could step back into the light of the parlor, her placid expression froze. Her lips trembled as she looked upon her daughter standing in the doorway. ”No—,“ Violetta muttered through petrified lips. Fear quickly began to twist Violetta’s expression, whose tired eyes were locked with her daughter’s glowing ones. ”No, no, no, what have you done! Let me go! Let me go!” Violetta cried out as she rushed to make an exit. Lyssa’s eyes flared again and Violetta was suddenly overcome with a violent fear. ”AIIIIEEEEE!!!” She threw herself to the floor and buried her heads between her thighs while clawing at her scalp, as if to tear away the unclean visions that her daughter was filling her head with. She continued to cry out and wail for mercy, but Lyssa was deaf to her mother’s pleas. Without making a move, Lyssa’s eyes flared one last time and the door swung and locked itself up.
Lyssa wandered away from the closet and let the fury of her mother’s panicked pounding and clawing at the wooden door fade into bizarre murmurs. Her heart was low and her body stood disassociated from her mind. Silently in the middle of her father’s parlor she surveyed the room and all the relics contained within. She was a child once more, buried under the evening’s revelations and unable to find the strength to lift the weight of them off. Lyssa looked once more to the dark orb resting by her bed and floated towards it. Pressing her fingertips to it, it glowed and visions began as they often did. Immediately she was hit with feelings of sweltering heat. The sound of metal gnashing against metal ringed in her ears as she struggled to see through plumes of dark smoke. For a moment she could see glimpses of fire pits and dwarves covered in soot and sweat, all of who rushed to construct strange, foreign metal objects the likes of which Lyssa had never seen. The labor of Dwarves was no business of hers though, not now any way.
Lyssa did her best to drive her thoughts from the smog-covered landscape to more personal visions. She concentrated and immediately her mind was tugged through time and memory to a place more familiar: her apartment. She was now at her father’s desk surrounded by tomes and papers. Moving her hand into frame, she could see she was no longer herself but a man, her father. She struggled to hold the vision, and watched her father’s hands excitedly rifle through the books and scribble notes onto a number of scrolls. Names like “Zagyg” and “Ygradere” and “Bayerton” littered the pages as Modius continued to research. Feeling seemed to return to Lyssa’s body as the connection to her father’s memory deepened. She clutched the orb close to her chest as tear after tear slid past her thin, brown eyelashes down her freckled cheek. Lyssa was overwhelmed as Modius’ ambition was revealed in total. A final glimpse from the past was gleaned: an aged scroll with the ornate drawing of a family tree. “YGRADERE”, it read across the top; Modius, quill in hand, quickly trailed the roots past Zagyg and those who came before to another name: Violetta. Just as Modius scribbled his signature in an empty branch next to hers, the vision ended. As if rising out of a violent tide, Lyssa opened her eyes and inhaled to catch her breath, the tears on her cheeks evaporating into small trails of flame as she did so. Lyssa continued to stand in silence as the noise of the real world returned to full volume.