The Legacy of Heroes

"Underneath inverted Ziggurat"


In the chamber of the dead ghouls, they find a staircase leading further. Thom casts identify and finds the enchantment is specific to a ghoul and was cast on these amulets. The amulets themselves are crude in their make, crafted with slagged metal and rotted leather.

Thom takes a moment to empty himself of metal except for a dagger, placed in his deeppockets spell. He takes a leather bag and keeps a second dagger inside. Dressed in only his small cloak and undergarments, he dashes down the path with the leather sack dangling from his hand. As he dashes through, he feels mild discomfort. 50 ft down the hall, the dagger burns through the leather sack and falls to the ground. Its blade is red hot. He finishes his run and finishes unscathed. He watches the dagger glow and bake. He reaches into his deeppocket and as his hand passes through, he feels no heat from the dagger. He pulls it out and tests its temperature, finds it cool to the touch. He puts the dagger back inside and dashes back to his company, dodging the searingly hot dagger in his path.

He returns to the party, redresses and advises, “Let’s go forward!” They follow Grum and Grunt down the staircase. At the base of the stairs is another door. Thom listens in an hears nothing. Grum finds the door untrapped and unlocked. Grum creaks it open and finds a room, ceilings 17feet high. Inside are two pits horizontal pits. Grum peers down and finds the first filled with rusted, edged metal. Grum lets them know about the pits.

“There doesn’t appear to be any other sort of trap?” Mo
“Doesn’t appear to be.”

At the far end Lyssa believes she’s a door at the far north wall, beyond the second pit.

“Of course there is.” Gr

Grum looks around for something to throw and Lyssa offers him up a ghoul’s amulet. He throws it across the pit and as it soon as it lands on the floor across, they watch as the amulet skitters off down into the second pit.

“Maybe the floor is frictionless?” Grunt notes.

Lyssa attempts to cast fly on herself but is unable to cast. Her power doesn’t feel dampened, but rather, something else seemed to cancel it.

“Perhaps Moira and I could toss one of you across the room?” Vetnik semi-jokingly ponders.

Grum bundles up his rope and tosses it across with all his might. As it reaches the other side, it appears to pass through the wall. He pulls it back to their side and looks perplexed.

“What it you tie the rope off to one of your arrows?”

Grum does as suggested and shoots. His first attempt barely makes it across the first pit. The second zips through the illusionary wall across the pits and seems to hit something on the other side. The arrow falls and the party discuss what to do.

Lyssa takes out her longbow, takes Grum’s rope arrow and without word, fires off the arrow a third time. It zips through the wall and after a second, the arrow seems to stick. Lyssa sheathes her longbow.

Thom spider crawls across the wall and slinks over the pits. On the other side, he passes his hand through the wall. He finds the walls equally frictionless. Vetnik throws his spear up into the ceiling and the weapon bounces off.

Vetnik offers his shield in an attempt to surf the space between the pits. Grum steps in, citing his superior agility. They tie a second rope to the shield. He leaps and catches the shield and lands with a rocky launch. He leaps off as he reaches the edge of the second pit and sticks his landing. As he walks to the edge of the illusionary wall, he puts himself through it, face first. He only sees the real end of the hall and Lyssa’s arrow. Moira launches the rope across and Grum ties it off. Trisoll, Moira, and Vetnik make it across with ease. Grunt struggles to make it across the rope but he manages nonetheless. Thom and Lyssa follow, traversing it with ease.

Thom and Grum finds no traps or noise behind the door. It is unlocked. Grum tips it open and inside he finds another hallway that splits in two opposite directions. The head North and find a door down 30ft. Thom hears the sound of running water behind it. The door is also untrapped and unlocked. Grum leads them inside and sees a stream coursing through the room, suspended in mid air. There is a row of 6 cayaks against the wall without paddles. Lyssa pierces the water with a dagger and watches as only a couple drops fall through. She watches and marvels at the cavefish swimming through the current. Thom steps over and attempts to catch a fish but misses.

“What do we think?” Th

Moira shares Grunt lack of enthusiasm, while Trisoll is dazzled by it.

“Perhaps we should avoid the magical body of water.” Mo
“The fact that this is even being considered as an option!” Grunt

The party decides to double back to the Southern pass. Down 60ft there’s a door. Thom hears a mélange of faint noises. No voices, just strange, curious noises. Grum checks for traps and a lock and

“Do you we want to go inside?” Th
“It’s this or the river of no return.”

Thom leads them inside and finds a terraced room, steps leading down into a chamber. Each step is made of a glass-enclosed cages filled with strange, terrifying creatures. Giant crayfish, sea lions, giant scorpions, and winged-clipped Manticores. As soon they enter, the room starts buzzing with the sounds of hunger. The Manticores’ tails thrash but their tail spikes are out of range. Grum looks through his Wizard Eye and finds that everything is real.

“I should have taken my chances at the river of no return!” Grunt

“Inverted ziggeraut. The steps… Blackrazor may be here!” Lys
Thom stands on his hands to see if the room changes in any capacity. Thom looks down and sees a door in the Manticore pit.

The party banter back and forth about what to do when Lyssa brazenly steps forward and conjures a flame arrow. Only a single Manticore fires a tail spine and shoots one off. It shoots forward and hits Lyssa, but as it does, it breaks against her stone hard skin. Lyssa responds by conjuring a flame arrow above her attacker and raining it down on him. It howls in pain but continues standing its ground.

“Get back, Lyssa!” Thom cries out before sending a Fireball down into the pit.

Vetnik launches a spear with a rope tied to the ceiling above the Manticores and it sticks. Trisoll blesses the party while Grum fires off a couple arrows that stick into them. Lyssa rains down a series of minute meteors. Grunt dodges the first spine but the second Manticore sends a series of them flying into Grunt. Moira cries out and rushes over and lays hands upon him, yanking the spines out as she prays. Grum isn’t quick enough to dodge three spikes from a third Manticore.

“Owww!” Grum yelps.

Thom tosses a fireball down into the pit and while it explodes, it does so modestly. The first and second Manticore are immolated immediately. The third one remains, shaking off the fire.

Feeling renewed by Moira’s blessed touch, Grunt stands and fires off two arrows at the last standing Manticore. The first misses but the second lands deep into the beast. Thom follows suit with his longbow and fires two arrows, only the first hits. The Manticore falls to the ground in a vain attempt to pull out the arrow. Manticore whips its tail violently and flings a series of barbs at Vetnik, all of which bounce off of his armor. Grum fires off with his bow and it tears through its belly, felling it.

Thom and Grunt climb up the walls up to the first rope. Together they set up a quick-and-dirty pully system. As Thom goes to climb back, he slips and he falls into the sea lion pit. They immediately shoot through the water and charge at Thom.

“Stop them!” Vetnik urges Trisoll.
“I don’t know if I can!” he replies while trying to cast Hold Animal.

Grum leaps towards the Sea Lion pit. He dives into the water, past the Crayfish and Scorpions. He paddles up beside his brother. Looking from above, Grunt attempts to swing the ropes to Thom. He manages it and the brothers grab on just as Grunt jumps from the ceiling, using his weight to pull the bar up and out of the Sea Lion pit.

All in the base of the pit, the perform DOP on the single door in the pit. Thom hears nothing; Grum however finds the door trapped to the nines.

“I’m glad we took so much effort to get down here.” Grunt says, massaging his once wounded leg.
“I mean, it wasn’t like there was a pack of Manticores guarding it.” Grum jokes back. He leans in and expertly disarms the door. He finds it connected to a vibration device that would’ve surely shattered the glass caging the creatures. Thom spots a safe and Grum verifies its validity. Grum finds the chest trapped as well. In his attempt to remove, he finds it was also a vibration device. Grum pops it open and finds 6000sp and a piece of jewlelry. Despite not knowing its history, the brothers know a valuable piece when they see it.

The door opens into a hallway beneath the ziggurat and stops at another door. Behind it, Thom hears the sound of a hitch pitched voice screaming in the distance, like a small boy’s voice. Grum pops the door open and they find a luxurious room, a floor strewn with carpets and a hookah. A small cage with a caged, fat Halfling sits in the corner.

“Help! I’ve been imprisoned.”
“What’s with the hookah?”
“I don’t know.”
“What is this room?”
“His lair!”

Lyssa whips out her projectile dagger as the Halfling breaks through the cage, turning into an Orge Magi. She immediately shoots the Magi in the thigh, the blade tearing through its flesh and crippling him. The Magi screams out and falls to the carpeted ground. He rubs a ring on his hand with bloody hands and summons a series of Mirror Images.

Moira swings at the Mirrors but misses. Thom drums for bonus; Vetnik swings by misses. Grunt swings at the Magi by the cage and slashes at it with a short sword but misses. Trisoll’s eyes go white as he floods the room with wasps out of nowhere. They engulf the room and swarm the Mirror Images of the Magi. Grum whips out his Gem of Seeing and points out the real Magi.

Vetnik swings at the Magi twice with fury and his slays the Magi. Thom and Lyssa raid his corpse together. He finds two rings, a +3 ring of protection and a Ring of Mirror Images. Grum checks for traps before he and Grunt sack the room. Moira stands watch.
“We are looking for artifacts. Us sacking the room is a necessity.” Vet to Mo
“Guys, I think I found something.” Trisoll says, leading them to a king’s ransom of treasure as well as a black obsidian blade.

“This must be Blackrazor.” Lyssa remarks.
“Wizard, come claim me!” The sword cries out to her. She steps forward but Thom tugs her aside.

Thom recognizes the scale mail as a cursed item: Armor of Vulnerability.

Lyssa looks into the Eye and gets a vision of the Magi, taking guard, muttering about losing a bet about having to guard the treasure for 1001 years. Lyssa concentrates, trying to reveal to her what awaits them at the end of the river. Lyssa soons finds herself assaulted by a flood of images: platforms suspended by chains; a giant crab; a nude woman with seaweed for legs. Lyssa recites her visions as she experiences them. She finally discerns more details about Blackrazor: it eats positive life energy.

Grum suggests the go through the Sphinx’s chamber again, but knowing it will require Lyssa to teleport their armor across. They wait as they recharge spells and head out.

They all scale out of the ziggurat with ease. Across the frictionless room, they begin to cross. Grunt slips and almost falls but just as soon grabs the rope, his toes scratching at the frictionless floor. Lyssa attempts to cross but slips and falls before crossing the first pit, falling back.

One the way back, they come upon the the Gynosphix still sitting in the middle.

“Oh. Hello.”
“Oh, hello!” Grum replies.

The go through the hall NE and encounter a green slime. “Use fire!” Moira cries out. Trisoll responds by producing flame, surrounding the slime in fire. The slime returns the attack by almost enveloping him, but he misses. Grunt lights his club on fire with his torch and he swings at it, but misses. Lyssa manipulates the fire from his club to leap and attack using a fireflow spell. Grum spends his turn making a torch from a tear of a fabric. Vetnik thrusts his torch into the slime and singes it. Moira attempts to do the same and burns it as well! Thom casts Burning Hands over the slime and beats it back. The slime lashes out thrusts it gelatinous body at Thom but falls short. Grunt tries to club the slime but misses again. Thom unleashes a second round of Burning Hands and causes it to retreat after being immolated.

70ft down is another door. No noise, no traps, no locks. Inside are five flesh golems lining each wall, each carved with a number in its chest.

“Nine!” Thom cries out.

In the Shadow of White Plume Mountain


Vetnik has another run in with the exotic and bawdy Aris. At a date, she gives him guff about being too stuffy.

“Every time I see you, you’re in armor.”
“I’m nobility, I have to carry myself as such in public.”
“Oh? Barbarians have nobles, do they?”
“Well, I’m no mere peasant.”
“I can tell you’re an educated man. Not great with the fairer sex though.”

“What are we up to tonight?”
“I am sure you have something fun planned?”
“Leave it to me? Fine.”

Aris takes Vetnik to the bathhouse and she rents a private chamber. He bathes her, washing away her violet tribal markings. In the middle of their bathing.

“We awaken every day without knowing if another one will come tomorrow.”

She takes him to the House of Comfort and asks him to select a playmate as a dare. The pair take their pick of a lady and have their share of her.

Upon leaving the House of Comfort, Vetnik and Aris run into Moira. Moira is clearly stunned by the pair of them. Aris, seeing the tension, decides to exploit it by clinging and fawning over Vetnik. Moira excuses herself and heads back home.

“Wait, she looks a lot like the slag!”
“The blonde, the night we met. Tall, blonde, busty, like your paladin friend.”
“I suppose, I mean—“
“Ew, you have a type!”

Later in the week, the crew meet together at Pimpleton Manor for the first time together since Moira’s return. Upon her return, the party finds out that Norrin adores her but she keeps him at a distance. She seems moved, having dealt with even more death.

“Why do they choose the sword?” Moira laments.

At Pimpleton Manor, three pieces of mail arrive. One for Thom (a musical composition, an ode to him from Tabys Minwin). The second is for Vetnik from Isrygrad, with info about Lyn and Slå. He reveals that the words are ancient for “Lightning” and “Strike”. They were born in a lightning storm, and so it will take that to renew their power. He closes it with “Your mother, Teela, misses you and your letters are great comfort for her.”

The third arrives separately and is a copy of a letter sent from an unnamed benefactor who has tasked Zemilay’s heroes with a charge. Zem gets a copy of the letter that reads:

“Search ye far or search ye near
You’ll find no trace of the three
Unless you follow instructions clear
For the weapons abide with me.

North past forest, farm and furrow
You must go to the feathered mound
Then down away from the sun you’ll borrow
Forget life, forget light, forget sound.

To rescue Wave, you must do battle
With the beast in the Boiling Bubble
Cost cavern vast, where chain links rattle
Lies Whelm, past water-spouts double.

Blackrazor yet remains to be won
Underneath inverted Ziggurat.
That garnered, think not that you’re done
For now you’ll find you are caught

I care not, former owner brave
What heroes you seek to hire
Though mighty, I’ll make each one my slave
Or send him to the life.”

Signed with the symbol of Keraptis: a sigil featuring a single letter K encircled in snakes.

The collectors whose items have been stolen have spared considerable expense on deciphering the letter. They discern the “feathered mound” is the White Plume Mountains in the Shield Lands. The party decide to sail the Nyr Dyv to the Shield Lands, once the site of a huge battle their parents were embroiled with.

Lyssa visits the church of Cortox and is greeted by an acolyte — the same she charmed before. She is immediately granted audience however.

They take a vessel from Greyhawk to Alhaster in the Shield Lands across the Nyr Dyv. Alhaster is an orderly, well kept port town. Lyssa is visibly upset by the travel, having never traveled by water before, she experiences onset symptoms of sea-sickness. Upon leaving the Selitan River, they find a large grouping of sea weed that they have to avoid. The trip otherwise is uneventful.

After two weeks on water, they pull into Alahaster. They find out that White Plume Mountain is three days travel. The party + four hired men ride to the Mountain. They see the volcanic hill jutting up from the horizon, seeing the white geyser continuosly being spit up from the top of the mountain.

On the first day to the mountain, they come across a clean shaven man wandering down the path away from the mountain. As they ride by, he waves his hand. Thom waves back. “Beware the mountain!” he calls back.
“Cryptic, much?” Grunt replies under his breath.
“It’s always your choice.” The man responds.
“Yeah, this guy gets it!” Trisoll replies.
Lyssa cracks wise about to Trisoll about the traveler being Trithereon. The man looks back at Trisoll and his eyes widen. The man wanders away and Trisoll is pensive the rest of the ride.

They rest and wake at the foot of the mountain. Grum and Grunt take the leads and check out ahead. They scout the base of the mountain and at the south slope they find a “breathing cave”. They find a trap door and descend a spiral staircase downwards into the earth.

They come upon an aged Gynosphinx much to their surprise as none in the party have ever seen one in the flesh before. Thom offers up Lyssa to answer the creature’s riddle. When it is asked, Grum is actually the one to answer from the back, despite being ready to shoot off an arrow if things go awry. The Gynosphinx allows them to pass into another corridor. They enter and find a 10ft gap filled with water. Still invisible, Thom swims under to investigate and finds nothing. He and the others successfully leap across the drake, except for Moira and Grunt. Seeing Moira sink in her armor, Grunt goes to her and the two wrap around each other until Thom throws a rope out to them. They make it back up safely.

They come upon another corridor, this one filled with copper plates lining the wall. Grum goes first and as he passes, he feels the metal he’s equipped with heat up every 10 feet. He backs off and allows Thom to investigate. He strips himself of his metal weapons and armor and finds no ill effect. He goes back, retrieves an arrow, and walks the path again and finds the arrowhead gets red-hot at the end of the path. Together they try to figure out a way to get across. Lyssa offers up a solution: imbued with super-strength (as strong as Vetnik), she offers to take the crew’s metal in sacks and teleport across the hall via a dimension door. The crew disarms and disrobes, fills Lyssa’s sacks, and she hoists the bags onto her shoulders and before their eyes creates a small rift through which they are able to see themselves in the distance. Less steps through and disappears, reappearing on the other side. The others race down the copper-plated hall and quickly redress themselves.

On the opposite side, they find a staircase. Grum detects a secret door on the SE corner. Thom hears the faint sound of noise behind, shambling against cement. Grum finds no traps nor that the door is locked. Before opening the door, Grunt asks what could be behind the door. “Wait, what’s behind there? Why are we going towards it?”
“Could be Shamblers?” Thom remarks. “The undead?”
Grum pulls Grunt aside and the pair hide in shadows together. Thom opens the door and Vetnik sees a group of ghouls. Trisoll and Moira step forward and call upon their gods to turn the undead. The party notice that the medallions around their neck glows and they are unaffected. The ghouls turn around and begin to advance. Grunt leaps out and attempts to club a ghoul; he swings and just barely misses. Lyssa calls out to Grunt to move and releases a wave of chaos magic. She kills four with a wave of scarlet energy but as the energy dissipates, she falls to the ground asleep. Vetnik rushes over her and kills a fifth ghoul. Grum swings his axe and his longsword but misses with both. A ghoul reaches out to Vetnik but he yanks himself out of harm’s way. A second reaches out and grabs at Moira and rakes her with his claws, slashing between her breast plate and stomach plate, tearing through her flesh and spilling blood down her stomach. She collapses to the ground and is paralyzed by ghoul’s paralyzing touch. Grunt looks panicked at the sight of his fallen friend. The third ghoul slashes at Grum but misses. Thom stays back and drums up some energy. Trisoll rushes up and does his best to heal Moira but only manages to stop the bleeding.

Grunt strikes out to defend his fallen friend with his club but misses. Vetnik slashes at two opposing ghouls and fells the both of them. Thom breaks his invisibility, draws his katana and wakashazi blade and charges at the last ghoul, cutting its arm off and felling it as well. Moira begins to come to after a couple minutes, wincing in pain from the still-open gash. They wait until Lyssa wakes up in a chamber littered with the dead. Thom takes their necklaces. Lyssa helps him pocket them.

A Call to Arms


Over the course of the month, all in the party study dutifully from their manuals. Even the stranger, now known as Grunt, has a desire to train, and is taken out by Zemilay and Grum into nature to study the ways of the scout.

Moira goes with a cache of lesser paladins and squires (including Norrin) on a holy mission.

Trisoll spends the month with his mother and father. In private, he reveals to them that he was a terrified little boy lucky to have come back from death. He wasn’t ready to perish. He’s happy that they’re a family again. He also spends time with Burbis, his friend since childhood.

Lyssa splits her month between training with Thom and using the long bow and working with Ebeviria to craft a new spell in addition to learning pre-existing ones from her mistress’ tome. Lyssa accepts a boon in favor of learning how to channel her chaos magic in a wave but the task has yet to be revealed to her.

Vetting spends much of his month between Pimpleton Manor and courting a new intrigue: the assertive warrior Aris.

After a couple weeks, Thom gets a lead on his thieving clone. He rolls up invisibly and grabs him.

“Oh no!” he cries, the glamor falling from his face.
Thom tries to charm him but finds that the thief is a full-blooded elf.
“Why did you use my face?”
“I swear, I didn’t know it was your face I was wearing!”
“How did you come about it then? Elaborate disguise? Magic?”
“I can’t divulge… it was magic, but—“
“Who are you?”
“It was for me, but… I’m a member of the thieves’ guild. I have a quota to make!”
“If you want me to keep my mouth shut, you keep yours shut. I want you back here in a couple hours.”
“I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
“If you don’t return, I will kill you.”
The elf furrows his brow. “Hm. Very well then.”
“Two hours.”

The pair return, Thom with Grunt and Grum in tow.
“Two hours, I’m here to listen.”
Grum steps forward and explains what’s happening between him, Thuman, and the Red Nails. “There’s a plot to unseat Nystra.”
‘How do you feel about that?”
“I mean… I wouldn’t oppose —“
“To the guild or change in general.”
“The guild’s been good to me, but change can be good too. Red Nails though, they’re feisty buggers.”
“Protect Thurman and you won’t be turned in, and you’ll be taken care of. At worst, you’ll know when to leave Greyhawk.”
“Throw in some coin, and I can make this deal a lot sweeter for all of us.”
“You wanna know how I got your face? I contacted the Red Nails. A red-headed lass, Magaria, their leader. She cast it for me, and I’m guessing she didn’t choose your face by accident. Seems to me like she’s trying to draw out some tension.”
Thom tips him. “Stick with the Brothers Black.”
“Alright. I’ll be in touch.”

Thurman contacts Grum, letting him knows its finally time to confront Nystra and that he needs him at his side as a show of solidarity. “Things could get ugly.” Grum takes Grunt to the Guild to meet with Thurman and his confidants. They enter the great hall, and see Nystra seated on her throne flanked by five of the Red Nails. Thurman stands and accuses Nystra for embezzling, to which the guild reacts viciously.
“Order! How dare you make such accusations!”
“Your leadership is weak. You allowed this skinny guard inside the guild, to search for what? Now we’re supposed to live under the thumb of the City Mayor Cragin?
“I will not tolerate this insubordinance! Nails, remove these men!”
Thurman snaps and men stand to defy Nystra and the Red Nails.

Grum shouts out the Asteria, “Do your worst, quim!”

Thurman’s allies take the first hit and lash out at Nystra’s audience. In the first wave of violence, lots of Nystra’s followers find themselves on the sharp end of the sword. The hooded scout lunges at Grum with her longsword and slashes his arm (-5). Grum retaliates with a double hit of the axe and sword; he misses with the axe but catches her with his sword. Thurman steps forward and kicks over into a rolling spin, vaulting himself into Nystra’s throne area. He pulls out a pair of daggers but she is nimble enough to dodge him. Nester’s loyal strike back and begin to cut down Thurman’s army. Nystra turns her tail to run. Grum coats Grunt into his first battle, where misses with his first attack with a short sword.

The Red Nails charge forward. Magaria creates an illusion of a band playing in the rafters above. The green robes scout attempts to strike at Grum with her longsword but he back steps quickly enough. Thurman lunges at Nystra and attempts to subdue her and sticks her with his venomous dagger.
“I paid a lot of money for this venom, Nystra!”
As Nystra cries out in pain, Marit slides up behind Nystra and sticks her in the back with her own dagger. “You better have that evidence, Thurman!”
“Don’t worry, I have your gold too.”
“Marit, why!”
“I know the truth, Nystra.”
Thurman leaves to go work on the locked door to her personal chambers.
Nystra’s loyalists moral falls and they succumb to Thuman’s men’s blades. Grunt swings at a random loyalist with his short sword and fails to stick again. Nystra, in her agony, slips a ring on her finger and disappears from sight.
“Thurman, she’s gone!”
“Marit, if that venom is worth the coin we paid for it, it shouldn’t matter. She won’t get far.”
Grum hacks at the scout with his axe. “Mercy!” she cries out, throwing her sword aside. Grum points his blade at her throat and keeps her subdued.

Thurman breaks into Nystra’s chamber. Rifling through her files, he charges back out hoisting the evidence into the air. “I have the proof! Behold, Nystra did not care for you but for herself!”
the crowd stops fighting and immediately grants him attention.

Marks of Maturity


From a thicket of green shrubs resting at the edge of the Cairn Hills, the party of adventurers (plus a tagalong stranger cloaked in leather armor and a threadbare green cloak) emerged. Looking down the hill, they could see the main road, and farther down, the iron gates of Greyhawk. The late morning trip from Favilla’s enchanted briar felt as if it took only a moment, but as they exited they noticed evening was well on its way, its violet clouds streaking across the clear, dimming sky. They pulled their horses through and made haste towards the city gates. Vetnik charged ahead with the Eye of Null still in his possession as to keep distance between it and the magic users of the party (more specifically Lyssa.) Grum lead the others behind; the stranger awkwardly held tight around Moira’s waist as they rode together towards Greyhawk.

As he passed through the old iron gates, the stranger was mum. Slowing her pace, Moira looked back and saw her new companion taking in the sights of the city with a hindered expression, almost as if keeping at bay a mix of awe and fear. He observed that, even as the sun fell, Greyhawk thrived. Lantern lighters filled the streets and tended to the rows of lamps that weaved through the city as the windows of taverns, inns, and after-hours shops lit up and erupted with all manner of human life.

“Weapons have to be registered by the city guard,” Moira began to inform her companion, “at the Grand Citadel.”
The stranger looked down at his crudely-made club. He was silent, but Moira could tell he was becoming uneasy. “Do not worry. If there are any fees for registering them, I am more than happy to take those on,” she said with a reassuring smile. The stranger looked up and tightened his mouth as if to keep from smiling.

Vetnik waited for the others near Woodley Fountain. He watched them trot in through the Highway Gate and watched as Moira and the stranger broke off from the others to head into the Grand Citadel. As they closed in on Vetnik, Lyssa suddenly hopped down from her horse and handed the reigns over to Trisoll.

“I… I have to return home!”
“If there’s any one who should be present for the delivery of the Eye, it should be you,” Trisoll urged, confused while taking the horse up beside him.
“Of course, but I—“
“We can also wait. I mean, I could use a shower!”
“Yes, then I’ll meet you at Pimpleton Manor!”
“What’s so important?” Thom asked.
“My mother’s… she’s waiting for me!” Lyssa revealed as she began inching away.
“By all means then,” Trisoll replied, “let us not hold you any longer.”
The party watched her racewalk back towards her apartment. Trisoll took careful notice of her peculiar disposition, but wasn’t opposed to getting in some rest and relaxation before having to face the higher ups at the University of Magic.

With an hour to spare before delivery of the anti-magic orb, the party decided to break away from each other to get in some more personal pursuits. Grum rode off and headed to the the Great Hall of the Thieves’ Guild, while his brother Thom broke away and rode to the Guild Halls. While the twins took their leaves, Moira and the stranger emerged from the Grand Citadel and quickly met with Vetnik and Trisoll at the fountain.

Meanwhile, Vetnik has the eye and takes it back to Pimpleton Manor. “Come with me?” to Trisoll.
“I’m actually gonna go talk to Lyssa.”
“Good luck, my friend! haha.”
“No, it’s not like that.”

“I am duty bound to tell the Cortox of Morrigan’s demise. I should have been able to show her the truth.”
Stranger tells Vetnik. “You have a manor?”
“It’s where we stay. I’ll tell you a story.” He says to the apprehensive stranger.
“Vetnik is the finest of men, he’ll take care of you” Moira says calming the stranger. “You’re truly with friends.”

“It’s not my manor, but owned by our parents.”
“We’re meeting one of the original adventurers, Zemilay Lyks. Trial’s father.”
“Oh. Ok. Is he like Trisoll?”
“No, quite the opposite. Any who, he’ll be able to accommodate with him. You know, my father has a similar background as you. He was taken from our home and brought here, it’s how he met Zemilay. He helped him adjust, helped him in the city to become a hero. It’s what I;m here to do, become a great man.”
Stranger is quiet while digesting the information. “People are ready to stab each other.”
“We do what we can to protect each other.”
“I’ll need to learn to protect myself.”

The Great Hall of the Thieves’ Guild was a cloaked in secrecy as it usually was. The small, square windows that peppered its drab exterior remained tinted, while a single steel door served as the only visible entrance into the guild. Grum tethered his horse to a nearby post and knocked in the usual, secret pattern upon the rusty door. After a moment, a small grate at eye level swung open and a disembodied voice called out from the darkness behind it.

“What d’ya want?!”

Grum leaned his face towards the metal grille and shot the bodiless voice a smug look. The grate slammed shut and Grum relaxed as he heard the sound of heavy-duty locks tick and clunk from behind. The door slowly opened and the familiar, gruff doorman stood crossed armed at the side. Grum sauntered and made his way towards the basement steps.
“Thurman in?” Grum asked before heading downstairs. The doorman silently nodded, his cantankerous expression unyielding. “Thanks.”

Grum descended the smooth concrete staircase without making a sound and slipped into Thurman’s chamber with ghostly grace. In the center of the room he saw his elvish mentor kneeled over another young ward. Thurman kneeled in close to his student and watched as the young thief made attempts at picking open a locked chest. Despite the stealthiness of Grum’s boots, Thurman was never one to keep his back unwatched for too long. Thurman glanced back and saw Grum standing in the doorway. He motioned to Grum to wait and returned to guiding his young student through the finer points of lock picking. Thurman gently guided the boy’s hands and directed his thin fingers over the student’s own. He spoke his instructions softly, explaining the intricacies of the such a device.

“One must rush only if his life depends on it. Find your rhythm, the rest will fall into place.”

The student nervously jerked his lock pick and a small ping echoed through the room. The student hung his head and sighed in frustration. The practice chest had taken another casualty: the young student’s thin, metal pick. The student pocketed his one and half picks and lifted the chest. Thurman guided him towards the door while Grum watched, his arms folded in mild amusement.

“Come back again next week, we’ll try some again,” Thuman said as he took the chest from the boy and guided him out of his chamber.

“Have you come for a lesson?”
“Not exactly,” Grum replied, unfolding his arms as he neared his tutor. “I have come with personal information.”
“Hm. Perhaps a change of venue is in order.”

Thurman draped himself in his hooded cloak and together they left the Great Hall in a calm, easy manner. Grum followed Thurman across Newhope District and into a small dive called The Wretched Eye. They settled at a small table in the middle of a crowded area of the bar where they sat across from each other posing as friendly patrons. After their drinks arrived, Grum took a single sip before retrieving a small piece of charcoal from his pocket. On a napkin, he began to scribble — his eyes still observing the crowd around him between words.

“There’s a plot against you,” read the note upon the napkin.
Thurman was taken aback but made good effort not to show his discomfort. “We should…” he whispered as he nonchalantly crumbled the napkin onto his lap.
“Go somewhere else?” Grim joked.
“When we part, we go separate ways. Meet me soon at the Nymph & Satyr.” Thurman said, tucking the folded napkin into his belt before throwing down a piece of silver for his barely-touched drink. Grum waited after his departure. He finished his own drink, picked up the silver left behind by Thurman, and made his way towards the bar to pay their tab before heading out. He folded his arms across the bar and waited for the barkeep to accept his money. The couple standing next to him slid their coin across the bar and shuffled away. Waiting, another figure entered his periphery.

Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap went the sound of nails impatiently rapping against the wood of the bar. Grum gave a side glance and could see the delicate hands of a woman. As he focused on her incessant rapping, he took special notice of her finger tips. Hunter green polish on the pointer, blood red on the middle, and the same green lacquer of the rest. He silently sighed to himself as he turned to greet her: Asteria Silverkin.

“So. I see you two met. Get anything out of him?”
“No information from him. I was out of town. Patience will prevail, m’lady.”
“I know you were,” she nodded with a smirk.
Grum smiled back and pushed a silver piece towards her for a drink. “On me.”
Asteria pursed her lips and straightened up her stance. “We’ll be watching.”
“Remind me not to try and buy you a drink again!” Grum huffed before sauntering out. Asteria reclined back against the bar and watched him disappear onto the streets. A moment later, the barkeep returned and looked around baffled. “Oi!” Asteria, it seemed, had vanished, and with her the coin left behind by Grum and the patrons.

Grum headed north towards the Nymph & Satyr Tavern. Along the way, his half-elven ears perked at the sound of footsteps mimicking his own. His thieves intuition was buzzing — he was surely being followed! Spotting a small alcove built into the side of a nearby building, Grum slipped out of the stream of pedestrians and into the shadows. Leaning out just enough to survey the alleyway, he watched for any suspicious characters. Suddenly, his eyes met the eyes of another. A young woman, a stranger clad in dark leather armor with long, crow-black hair. He quickly looked her body up and down and as he did so, he caught a glance of her fingertips, each one of them painted in a very familiar sanguine hue.
“Cunts,” Grum groaned to himself.
Realizing his cover had been blown, he stared the mystery women down from across the alcove. He smirked and in response she smiled and wiggled her red-painted fingertips against her thigh. Her body tensed up as if ready to move. With a wink of his eye, Grum quickly bolted from the alcove and rushed down the alley towards the Inn. His stalker pushed through the wandering passerbys and stayed focused on him. Grum briefly glanced back and watched as the stalker disappeared from his line of sight. Grum paused for a moment and glanced down the alley. Seeing no sight of his stalker, he sprinted off back towards The Nymph & Satyr Tavern.

Grum slowed his pace as he neared the infamous pub. Before reaching the front steps, he caught the movement of a silhouette out of the corner of his eye. He spun around and saw her standing there plain as day: his shadowy, red-nailed stalker. Grum quickly turned back towards the front of the Inn and as fast as he could, yanked a small glass vial of milky white liquid from his belt. In one seemingly fluid motion, Grum popped the cork to the vial, guzzled down the liquid contents, and chucked the empty vial at the mystery woman’s feet. As the vial smashed and shattered against the ground, Grum’s body exploded into a cloud of thick, white smoke. The woman buried her face into the bend of her arm, fearing the worst from the strange white smoke. The cloud quickly dissipated and began to thin as it floated into the air. The woman lowered her arm to find Grum gone, seemingly vanished. Little did the stalker realize, the vial Grum had ingested was a Potion of Gaseous Form and that the cloud of vapors swirling in the air above her was actually him!

Grum hovered in the air and slowly billowed behind the woman, who quickly rushed from the street to an alley between the tavern and the brewery next door. Grum watched in his new, insubstantial form as the dark-haired woman met up with another woman. Adorned with copper-colored hair and clad in similarly dark leather armor with fingers decorated in similar red nails, Grum watched as the two of women briefly discuss BEFORE RED HEAD CASTS TELEPORT

Grim filters into the pub via a cracked window and floats looking for Thurmin. As he floats, he surveys the bar and finds him in a backroom, back against the wall. He blends in with the pipe smoke. He filters into the cubby and destabilizes right in front him.

“Are you a spell caster?”
“No, just fortunate enough to be in posession of a few good potions.”
“Secrets upon secrets.”
“Maybe a few.”
“Did you ditch your tail?”
“Yes, at least the one I know about.”
“Me as well. I had one on my tail as well, but she disappeared.”

Grim reveals half of the gold coin that Averia paid as a deposit on his
“I would’ve thought my life worth more haha. Thank you, it’s obvious the Red Nails are on to me.”
“This is serious.”
“Of course. I’ll have to rally more sympathetic members to our cause. Fair warning, this may come with bloodshed.”
“High stakes for everyone it seems. The better of assistance I can be.”

They return to the Guild in a show of solidarity.

George answers the door at Pimpleton Manor and finds Vetnik with a vagabond in tow.

“Ah, another nom de plume.” George wisecracks.

George guides them in and serves the both of them a couple mugs of ale. “one for you… stranger? Dwarfsod? Tea?”
“Just get him some ale.”
“Two mugs of ale then.”

Vetnik takes the stranger to the study. Burbis and Lyks are inside, while Xanti is away at market. Lyks is being “entertained” by a plodding story about a porcupine who lost his spines. Burris buzzes around both of them as he lets them in. He pokes and prods at the stranger, tugging at his cloak.

Vetnik sets the fur-wrapped Eye onto the table and takes a seat from across Lyks.

“Leave him be, Burbis. Sit!”

Burris scuttles back to Lyks’ side and smokes a bit of his pipe. The stranger declines and continues to stand.

“This is the Eye.”
“Where is everyone?”
Vetnik fills in as much as he knows. “We’ll be meeting back here to take the orb back to the Uni.”

Vetnik looks at Lyks.
“You have something else to say so say it.”
Vetnik folds his hands and sighs. “There was an incident. Both Lyssa… and your son died.”
Vetnik explains what happened. “But they’re alive now. We got help in Blackmoor from a Gnomish church.”
“How are they? How is he?”
“Well. I don’t know how well Lyssa is taking it but I can never really tell how well she’s taking anything. Trisoll seems to be fine but we won’t really know until you speak with him.”

Zemilay beckons to stranger. “Who is this?”
“We met him oddly enough the same way you met my father.”
“Oh. Picking strangers off the street.”
“Well, Moira.” Vetnik fills him in. “If there is room for him to stay.”
“Well, if you’re vouching for him.”
“He seems like a good man who just needs a bit of help.”
“And Moira can second that?”

George delivers the drinks and the stranger reveals the scant details. His home was lost to him and he was in the woods outside Blackmoor. He snuck into Blackmoor, stealing food to eat. “Moira was the one who stuck up for me, I don’t know why.”
“She has a way of seeing good in others.” Ve
“Are you both sure? I don’t have much nor do I need much.”
“Well, then you shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Enjoy your beer.” Ze
Stranger sits and reluctantly begins to relax.

George shows the stranger to a room and he stays in for the night.

Vetnik leaves after Stranger leaves, politely excusing himself. “I’m sorry I had to be the bearer of bad news. I feel I’d let you down, trying to protect your son.”
“THere’s a lot of love in there behind that icy exterior.”
Vetnik chuckles and excuses himself, taking the orb with him. He heads out to The Nymph & Satyr Tavern to see if Sera is there.

Vetnik finds Sera enjoying the company of another man at the Nymph & Satyr. When she swings around she spots him and pauses. Vetnik smiles and walks to the bar. As he passes, she breaks from her date.

“Where’ve you been, sir knight? I’ve had some cold nights.”
“Somehow I doubt that.”
“Well, after a time…”
“Listen, your heart may be cold but mine is hot, and fast. I can’t wait around.”
“I understand. Go be able. Let your smile continue to light up the world.”
“I will. You’re a good man, Vetnik T.” she says, kissing him on the cheek. She rushes back to the other side of the bar.

In the bar, a lonely woman sits at a nearby table. “Tough luck, soldier.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I saw what happened.”
“You don’t know the whole story.”
“I know enough of it. Come, have a seat.”
She extends her hand to shake his. “Aris’ the name” She is clearly a warrior with masculine swagger. “Sit down, warrior. Let’s talk troubles of the heart.”
“Not really a trouble.”
“Nonesense! Barkeep, shots! I hope you like the hard stuff.”
“Of course. I love the hard stuff.”
Ari chuckled before downing her shot.
Vetnik playfully carries her on his shoulder out of the bar.

Thom heads to the Sages Guild. Because it’s so late in the evening, only adepts are available and are beyond their comprehension. “They have grave consequences if read by the wrong person. Come back in the morning, the masters should be awake.”

On his way out he runs into Chan, the drummer of his class. “Thom! Hello, I have not seen you for lessons for not some time.”
“I’ve been on a quest, just returned tonight.”
“Do you have some time right now, to discuss technique? Would you care for a drink?”
Together they head to the Inn of the Welcome Wench. It’s a busy evening full of merriment. They take a table and Chan gushes over Thom’s unique technique.
Thom sees himself looking back over him and meets eyes with Chan. “What just happened?” Together they head out and do their best to track the doppelgänger. Chan beats a rhythm that bolsters their speed and they shorten the distance. 18ft away, they hear “HALT! That’s him! That’s the man who stole my jewels!”
A run of guards rush the pair of drummers.
“Sorry, Chan!” Thom says as he cloaks himself in an invisibility spell.
“Where did he go?!” Panic ensues as they subdue Chan, who pleads innocence. The old royal woman continues to bark at the police. Thom continues to tail his doppelgänger. The doppelgänger seems to run at an alarmingly quick speed and bounces up the walls of nearby buildings and disappears from sight. Thom returns to the scene and finds Chan quiet even with threat of imprisonment. “He took my jewels, I saw him with my own two eyes!”
Thom casts charm from the veil of invisibility. He comes around the corner and returns to visibility, hands up. The woman is still barking “There he is!”
“Oh dear lady, I’d never steal from a beautiful noblewoman such as yourself.”
“Oh. Oh dear, perhaps he didn’t do it!”
“Tell me more about this person who did it?”
The guard captain steps forth. He escorts Thom to Vortis’.

“Thom, Garyn, what’s going on?”
“Terribly sorry for the inconvenience, sir. Can you confirm the identity of this man.”
“Yes, of course. Thom Drum. Why do you need to know?”
“Someone stole some riches from Miss Waller.”
“Gary, no. He has no need.. you have the wrong man.”
“Does he have a twin?”
“Yes, only with black haired, but neither of these boys would do anything like this. If I am wrong, come drag me off to prison! Now let me go back to sleep.”
“I’m sorry sir, it’s still quite early—“
“I’m an old man and I need my rest.” Virtues slams the door shut.

Lyssa hurries back to her apartment. She finds nothing has been changed, pantry is still locked. She unlocks the pantry and swings it open. It reveals nothing, empty but she sees on the inside the claw marks and dried blood of her mother’s fingers. Drawing her dagger, she surveys the apartment. She sees a layer of dust but nothing else. She consults the Eye of Modius and as she brushes it, green mists start to swirl inside. She concentrates and finds there’s some resistance in accessing it. Strange. She focuses and soon they begin to part and she sees Violetta in the pantry, growing more and more frantic over time. She scratches at the door and bangs, screaming for Lyssa and Cortox to save her. Her body grows weak, dehydration and hunger pains make her hits against the door weaker and weaker. Lyssa watches as Violetta’s last muttered breath is used to curse Modius. She watches her begin to die and feels her body’s energy fade just as her mother’s did, and as she draws final shallow breaths, she calls out to Modius. “I beseech you,” she calls out through dehydrated lips. In a flash of light, she’s taken away. The Eye “closes” and she sits staring blankly into the orb, her hands trembling as she feels her energy slowly return. A mix of emotions stir within her. Needing to know more, she touches the Eye again and accesses it more immediately. Though the vision is more hazy this time, she finds out her mother still walking the Prime Material in Greyhawk at the Church of Cortox! She releases the Eye and rushes out the door to head to the Church of Cortox.

“Have you seen a woman here, an old woman. She looks something like me.”
“Yes, perhaps Sister Ygradnere? May I announce you?”
Lyssa pushes past the greeter acolyte and as he protests her entering, she charms him. “I insist, milady! Please, stop—“
“Take me to Sister Ygradnere,” Lyssa commands while charming the young acolyte.
“Yes, of course. She resides inside in the monestary.”

She is lead to a series of chambers beyond the altar room. “Stay out here.” Lyssa commands the acolyte. She enters and sees a woman dressed in opalescent violet ceremonial robes staring out into the evening sky. Long, thick silvery hair cascades down her back. She turns as Lyssa enters and its revealed to be Violetta. No longer the crone she left her as, she is a vital older woman now. The lines in her face remain, but the madness in her eyes has been replaced with a softness.

“Daughter!” She rushes, newly calm eyes welling up. She embraces Lyssa. “I’m so sorry. My mind… it wasn’t me. I’m sorry, I love you.”
“What happened?”
“In my moments of terror and as I lay dying… I’m sorry, but my mind was broken. Your father… I cursed him, but I found it in my heart to forgive! He gave me Cortox’s blessing and he healed my mind. He brought me here. I will do whatever it takes to make it right. I’m so sorry.”
Lyssa backs out of her mother’s embrace. “What do you mean ‘his blessing’? After all these years—“
“Yes, your father. He… he knows he was wrong. His ascendence has given him perspective. He regrets using us as tools. That is why he healed my mind, so that we may heal what happened between us.”
“Because he can’t do that himself.”
“No. He is no longer of this plane.”
“Just like the son of a bitch,” Lyssa whispers to herself. “Good that you’re… alright. I’m going… to go.”
“I understand. We’ll never speak of our last meeting again. It’s a new day for us.”
“You have my love. And the love of Cortox.”
Lyssa shakes her head. She knows of Cortox’s power, but resents her father only stepping in at death’s door. Her breath starts to quicken. “I guess I can find you here then.”
“Yes. Find me here, but in your own time. It took me time to accept my own station, but my heart is now open to loving again. The jumbled madness of my mind is settled for the first time—“
“What did he do to you? Not now, but… then. What am I?”
“He came to Bayerton seeking the heirs to Ygranere. He found me and seduced me, charmed me into loving him. He took me and for a moment I almost thought there was a chance for happiness. But, by the time I birthed you, he had already found a new way to his goal. If he hadn’t found that path though…”
“You were made to serve as a vessel for him. A vessel made of both his blood and from the bloodline of Ygranere.
Lyssa stood silent, stunned and seemingly heart-broken.
“Your great-grandfather Zagyg built the great castle in Greyhawk, the one now in ruins. He was a man of omnipotent power, and your father knew that. He lusted for power!”
“If he hadn’t found those other plans, I would not have been me?!”
“Yes. He sees the error of his ways, and did this to try and atone.”
“Hindsight is always clearest. I have to go!”
“I understand. Go with my love.”

Lyssa rushes out of the Church and ducks into an alley between the Church and Friendly Strangers. She succumbs to a panic attack. She takes a few minutes to gather herself before rushing off back towards her apartment. Before getting there, she is intercepted by Trisoll.

“Lyssa!” he calls out. “Are you ok? You look white—”
“What time is it?” she asks in a flustered panic.
“I’m not sure.”
“How long has it been? Is it time to return to the Manor?”
“Almost, but Lyssa. Are you alright?”
“Ok, well… I’ll see you at the manor.”
“Lyssa, I—“
“What? What do you want?!”
“No, you seem… it can wait for a better time.“
“What do you want?! There won’t ever be a ‘good enough’ time.”
“About what happened at Castle Mosshold. I’m not angry. Trithereon gave the choice to be there, and gave me the choice to stand by your side. I know the risk, the dangers. I don’t blame you. You’re still my friend. That’s it. I don’t hate you for what happened.”
“I’m sorry about what happened back there,” Lyssa responds, disarmed by his kindness.
“Like I said, Trithereon gave me a choice, and that choice was to be there for you. No hard feelings. I’ll see you back at the Manor.” Trisoll smiles at Lyssa and walks back towards home.

Back at the manor, the party gathers together one by one. The twins and Trisoll are first to arrive, where Thom tells Grum about his thieving clone.
“I ran into Lyssa. Not a shock, but she’s really upset but not in an angry way. Maybe, don’t be a dick to her.”
“What, she forgot to leave water out for her mother?” Thom jokes.
Moira comes. “I informed them of the heathen paladin. The church may have something for me. I don’t want to drag you into this, but I might have to take a small sabbatical for the church. A holy mission.”
“Watch out for heathen priests!” Th
“I’ve also taken on a student. The young man who brought Starstrike back home to me, Norrin.”
“What do you mean you’re leaving?” Lyssa enters and interrupts.
“I’m tutoring a young knight, who brought back my father’s sword—“
“No, holy mission?”
“More heathen priests are out there, and they may require a holy mission of me that will take me away for some time.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I have duty to the church.”
“What about us?”
“This is my calling. If you choose not to accompany me, I’ll take a band of knights with me.”
“Who are we fighting?” Th
“Oh no. I’m just seeking out heathen priests.”
“This is rdiculous. You don’t think there are other paladins who can do this instead of you?! You’re not a missionary.”
“I am in some ways, and if they can’t be reasoned with then there is always the sword.”
“Why are you being so cold about this?”
“It’s hard. I don’t want to leave your sides, I don’t! But the church—“
“Fuck the church!”
“Lyssa, that is blasphemy.”
“What are you going to do, stick me with your blade?”
Vetnik enters. “Who wants to take this eye back to the Uni?”
“Good idea, Vetnik. Let’s get this fucking orb out of our hair. Thom, walk with me. Bring the Tomes.”
“Vetnik, do you mind if I walk with you?” Mo

“Fuckin’ Moira.”
“Yeah. I can’t explain it. I really can’t. I’m not a godless man, in fact my goddess is rather alluring. But the idea of conversion. It’s like trying to change the spots on a frog. There’s no logic.”
Lyssa continues to mutter about Moira, but let’s him know he’ll ask Ebeviria about the Tomes.
“You trust her?”
“I don’t know.”
“Heh. I trust you not to give them to her.”
“I promise I won’t.”

Trisoll walks with Grum, who keeps his own dealing private between himself and his brother. “You and your brothers with your secrets. I hope they don’t get you killed someday.”
“Just have my back is all I ask.”
“Trisoll always has your back!” he remarks, slapping the thief’s back.

Moira walks, sullen and quiet, hurt by Lyssa’s blasphemy. “Seeing anybody?”
“I spent an evening with an entertaining young woman, but business got in the way. We all have things that keep us preoccupied.”
Moira sighs. She feels like her religion is a burden for the first time. She remains silent the rest of the way.

Lyssa is let in without issue. Lyssa confirms that the party following her are legit.
“Are you here for anyone in particular?”
“I need to speak with Ebeviria.”
He trembles at the sound of her name. “Do you want to come with?”
“I don’t like calling on her by myself.”
“I’ll just go myself.”
“Oh, bless you!”

Vetnik arrives after. “I am here to see Glarius Gladstone.”
“Your name?”
“Vetnik Talthraudii.”
A few moments later Vetnik and the others are hurriedly ushered into main hall to meet Glarius. He looks upon him.
“You’re missing someone. Where is our student?”
“She is seeing Ebeviria. She also doesn’t wish to be around the orb.”
“None of us do. How does she conclude that that is more important?” He opens a portal and calls out to Ebeviria. “Tell your student that she is to come to my chamber at once!” She bristles at being barked at. “Of course,” she says before dispelling the portal.

Lyssa knocks on Ebeviria’s door and she is allowed entrance. She steps in and tells Thom to wait outside. Ebeviria steps up, while Carthis yawns and remains beside her throne. “I see you’ve returned, Lyssa!”
“Yes. I just wanted to let you know I was back.”
“I assume this means you acquired the eye?”
“In so many words.”
Ebeviria perks up. “Glarius demands your attention. If you please, go visit him first!” Lyssa cocks her head at the sound of her mistress’ politeness. “Tend to Glarius, we’ll speak afterwards.”

Thom and Lyssa hustle to the great hall. “How good of you to join us. Now, I can feel my powers at an ebb, so I assume you have good news for me?” He says with a smile.
Vetnik begins to reveal the orb. Lyssa reaches out to hand the orb over herself, brimming with a strange confidence. Vetnik steers it away and approaches, but before getting too close, Glarius summons attendants.

“Take this to the Black Zone in the courtyard.” They abide and cart the orb off to the dead magic area. “My thanks to all of you! I’m glad I didn’t have to expend any of the college’s resources. Consider the boon paid.”

“What do you plan on doing with the orb?” Lyssa asks.
“Your pardon? Our plans for the orb… are too sensitive to share. Rest assured, it will be dealt with appropriately.”
“We risked out lives. Some of us lost our lives. We—“
“Your sacrifice is noted, dear girl. However, I will not be questioned again on this. We have been planning to deal with this for quite some time. Good day to you… all of you.”
Lyssa storms out to see Ebeviria. Thom follows with Tomes in hand.

“Did we get a bonus?”
“Why not?”
“Because it was a boon. The boon’s been paid, we did their dirty work.”
“They tell you what they’re going to do?”
“They’re keeping it in the Black Zone.”
“Are they trying to get rid of it or harness its power?”
“I don’t know but we should keep an eye on it.”

The pair enter Ebeviria’s chamber. Thom is startled by her beauty. “You look quite beautiful when you’re angry” he says making a pass. Carthis grumbles as Ebeviria rolls her eyes. Thom feels like it could’ve gone either way.
“Lyssa. What is this favor that the guild can do for you?”
Lyssa waves Thom over and he opens his pockets. Lyssa takes a tome out and presents it to Ebeviria. Both watch as Ebeviria almost salivates at the sight of them. Her eyes light up.
“Where did you come by these?!”
Thom whispers to Lyssa. As he does, Carthis roars loudly.
“What does she know about the Eye’s intent?” he asks her
Lyssa is too spooked by Carthis and waves Thom off. “We found them in Castle Mosshold. Same place we found the Eye.”
“What you have here are tomes of incredible magical power. Each one is very specialized, and can only be read by someone who’s pursuit matches the book itself. For instance, this Manual of Stealthy Pilfering is meant for the eyes of a thief only. They impart incredible knowledge of a given craft. It can make thieves more skilled, warriors more deadly—“
“A mage more powerful?”
Ebeviria waves her comment off.
“Thom, can you excuse us?” Lyssa asks, giving Thom back the thieves’ tome. Thom excuses himself but listens at the door for their conversation.

“Yes, Lyssa?”
“Some things happened back there that I can’t explain. I… died back there.”
“In Mosshold?”
“I see. And your companions found it within their reason to restore you to life. Consider yourself lucky.”
“Something else happened. I can’t explain it but I tried casting a spell and it surged, but all of a sudden it didn’t. I was… I was back before it all happened.”
Ebeviria is intrigued. She leans in wanting to know more. “Hmm. Next time we meet, tell me more about that episode. Perhaps we can tap into it, and perhaps even gain control over it. Those tomes, by the way… that is literally a king’s ransom.”
“Of gold or magic?”
“What use would one have who doesn’t follow the intended pursuit?”
“They would cause great harm.”
“Thank you for meeting with me.”
“Thank you for the favor that you and your companions have returned the Eye to the guild.”
“What does Glarius have planned for the Eye?”
“To harness or destroy it? I hope it’s the latter.”
“If it’s the former?”
“Well. We’ll see.”

Lyssa takes her leave and meets back with Thom. “How’d that go?”
“There’s a lot of power here in these books. You said you’d be able to get some info in the morning?”
“Yeah, at the Sages Guild”
“Why pay some old man to read these when we can read these ourselves! You’re skilled, you can magically identify them. If anything, I have an incredible magical library at my disposal. I can help research where I can.”
“Hm. There’s a thought.” Thom says with a smile.

The pair rendezvous with the rest of the group outside of the Uni.
“Any luck?” Tri
“No bonus.” Thom.
“When we left. They were super nice to us! We’ve probably curried favor with them.”
“Well, turns out our books are quite the find. Seems that each book can unlock powers within a specific area of pursuit.”
“Thom, let’s take them back to my place.”
“Alright, let’s go!” Trisoll
“I don’t think she’s inviting all of us.” Vet
“Oh. Well, um… have fun!” Trisoll
“Trisoll, come on. Let’s head back to the manor.”
“Yeah! I’ve craving some sweets, mayhaps some fried pastries…”
“I’ll come back with you all if you don’t mind.” Moira.
“What about you, Grum?” Vet
“Yeah, I’ll come with you.”

Grum finds that the Manor is being kept under watch by a small elven woman in a cloak. In response, he heads to the Night Bazaar to find Bayzox. The goblin merchant offers him a trio of traps: sleep, paralyze, and deathly poison. “Bayzox thanks you for business!” He returns and lets the others know he’s adding some security to the manor. Zemilay responds in turn by agreeing to cast some wards of his own in the morning.

Thom and Lyssa leave and spend the evening together, eating the last wheel of cheese and drinking ale (Thom only) while identifying the tomes.
“If Moira is in fact going to leave, I…”
“Well, we have a couple options. Talk her out of it or perhaps set up a little show so she gets it done and out of the way.”
“You mean fake a heathen conversion?”
“Yeah! What are you thinking?”
“I just… don’t want to die again. I cannot always rely on her, or rely on my magic which I still cannot control the way I want to. Maybe… maybe you can teach me a weapon? Perhaps the longbow?”
“Your mother and father, you’ve told me they’re well traveled. Do they know of anyone whose ever been resurrected?”
“Yes. My father, and one of his companions.”
“How did they take it?”
“Well, my father seemed to take it all in stride. The price of being a hero and all that.”
“And the other?”
“He didn’t like talking about her much. From what I remember, things didn’t end well.” Thom hands Lyssa the Librum of Gainful Conjuration and she begins reading it while he stays up identifying. “I don’t trust the Guild by the way. Keep your eyes and ears open.”
“I don’t blame you.”
“Well, if worse comes to worse, you think you and your brother might be up for a heist?”
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

See Through


Head north and find the door free of traps and noise. Grum pushes the warped wooden door in and reveals a hallway. Grum leads them east to a door and Thom hears the sound of mecha-zombies clanking behind the door.

“I think we have more undead contraptions!”
“Should we fight them?”
“I think so.”

Grum finds a trap on the door and locked. Grum tries and succeeds in disarming a trap, set to trigger something unseen and unfamiliar to him. Grum works to unlock the dual tumblr lock but misses and breaks his pick.

“I can unlock the door, “ Lyssa to Thom.
Trisoll blesses the party as Lyssa casts a Knock spell on the door. The spell takes and the lock is undone; the door creaks open.

Grum sneaks a glance and sees six mecha-zombies protecting a silver coffer. Grum informs them and Thom sneaks into the room to begin drumming. Grum wants to lead with a backstab but Lyssa offers a more offensive move. Lyssa throws the door open and shoots a fireball into the crowd, which explodes and breaks up their congress. Grum lands one back stab on a mecha-zombie with a longsword and slays it with a second gouging stab.

They lumber towards the door and Vetnik is first after Grum to greet them. He slays a burning one, and Moira strikes a second with Starstrike. Grum continues to stab at the undead. Thom quickly whips out his drums and drums for +1 to hit. Gelfradur steps up with an axe but misses. Trisoll whacks one zombie with his shillelagh and bashes the skull of the mecha-zombie in, all in the name of Trithereon, with ferocious strength. Even he is surprised by the savagery of the attack, but sees the mecha-zombie is still twitching on the ground. One zombie swipes at Moira but misses. A second attacks Vetnik and misses as well. A third attacks the scale-mailed Gelfradur with two clubbing fists. Gelfradur staggers, his already injured body barely hanging on as coughs up blood! Lyssa goes to stab Moira’s attacker but misses.

Trisoll, boosted by Trithereon’s strength and feeling renewed post-resurrection, hits an injured mecha-zombie and brings it down. The last two mecha-zombies fight the party to the end. The first attacks Vetnik and pummel him with two blows. The second mecha-zombie lunges at Gelfradur, grabbing his right hand and shattering the bones within with his gear-powered grip. He falls to the ground, cradling his arm and shivering from shock. Vetnik cuts into his attacker twice and fells it. Moira swings at the last remaining zombie but he proves too nimble at first, but she sticks him in the neck and cuts it down. The throat squirts out black fluid and all are fallen.

Grum checks the silver coffer and finds it trapped and locked. Grum isn’t adept enough with the trap and he triggers it. A Cone of Cold blasts from the chest and sends out a wave of freezing energy, leaving the floor covered in frost and spikes of ice. Lyssa, Vetnik, Moira, Trisoll, and Grum are all hit while Thom and Gelfradur prove agile enough to dodge it. Lyssa’s Brooch of Shielding absorbs half of the damage, but Trisoll struggles to fight off the cold. He gathers those caught in the spell’s blast around him and casts healing prayers upon himself, Gelfradur and Grum, bringing them both back from the brink.

“Bar…bar the door, I’ll… I’ll learn more s…spells!” Trisoll urges. Vetnik drapes his chilled friend in his cloak. He spends thirty minutes thawing out and meditating on more healing spells, which he bestows upon himself before paying special attention to Gelfradur and later Moira. Grum drinks of his potion of healing and revives himself.

Grum goes back to the chest while everyone rests and cracks the chest open. It’s full of eight large tomes. Thom picks a book up at random and finds a ‘Manual of Stealthy Pilfering’. Lyssa is curious and inspects the chest as well but sees only embossed leather covers, each of a different shade and different pattern etched into them (though uniform in size.) Beyond that, she is unable to discern their nature or origin. Thom doesn’t discover the identity of the second book but the third book is a ‘Book of Exalted Deeds’. He misses the 4/5/6 but finds the 7th to be a ‘Manual of Righteous Warfare’. He discovers the last book to be a ‘Manual of Natural Tactics’. He casts identify over the 2nd book and uncovers it as a ‘Manual of Puissant Arms’. Thom waits 30 minutes and casts Identify over the remaining books: ‘Labrum of Gainful Cojuration’, a ‘Book of Leaves’, and a ‘Manual of Chivalrous Intent’.

“I still would’ve preferred gold.” Grum
“Don’t worry, we can still sell them.” Thom says as he places them safely into his deep pockets. “Knuckle draggers, you wanna carry this coffer?”
“I’m not here for wealth!” Moira
Vetnik steps in and crams the coffer into his bag of holding. “Done!”

They wait for Thom to relearn more effective spells before unbarring the door and continuing onwards. As Grum moves through the hall, he detects a secret door leading back into the demon statue room. He passes on it and continues to another door. Thom hears a strange, droning sound humming behind the door. Grum finds the door unlocked but trapped, and disarms with skill. He follows the trap leading to a jet above them. Thom peers through the keyhole and sees a comely humanoid female with wings and sharply-pointed eyebrows. She, an Alu-Fiend, locks her black eyes with Thom (despite his invisiblility!) He breaks his invisibility shield and jabs Trisoll in his gut with his wakashazi blade. Trisoll wretches in pain and recoils from his companion while the others surround the enchanted bard.

Vetnik reaches out to grapple him by the shoulders but misses. Moira tries to tackle him to the ground but he proves too nimble. Trisoll focuses on Thom and attempts to counter-charm but the demoness’ charm proves too strong. Lyssa, still charmed by Thom, steps between he and the knights.
“Lyssa, stand aside, he is bewitched!” Trisoll cries out.
Gelfradur looks to the Vetnik as to what to do.
“He’s not in his right mind!” Vetnik cries out to the dwarf.

Gelfradur rushes into Thom’s legs, tackling him to the ground and grapples him successfully. Grum sees his brother afflicted and pins him down, doing his best to shake him out of the charm. Thom struggles at first but is overcome with rage-filled strength amplified by the demon’s charm.

Lyssa kicks at Gelfradur but he continues to seize Thom up in his grappling hold. Trisoll struggles to tap into Thom’s mind and fails once more, and feels himself being pushed out by a demonic presence. Vetnik stands back while Moira pleads with Lyssa to help in taking Thom’s mind back. Gelfradur keeps Thom pinned down and tightens his hold on him. Suddenly, the door swings open and in the doorway stands the winged creature. Grum continues to plead and finally Thom frees himself of the Alu-Fiend’s charm. Gelfradur relaxes his hold and together they stand just as the winged fiend emerges from the chamber.

She points at Grum and commands him to drop his weapon and he immediately does so. Gelfradur leaps up calling out to a Dwarven god of the North and swings at the devil but misses. Vetnik draws his sword and rushes the blade into her, cutting her left arm from her body. The Alu-Field hisses in excruciating pain and shock as her black blood gushes from the hole. Thom comes to his senses and closes his eye to summon a monster. From down the hall, three of the Dretch appear and enter the fray to begin attacking the Alu-Field. Trisoll watches and blesses the party while Moira calls out to Cortox, inspired by Vetnik, but misses. Grum comes to his feet and instead of fetching his blade, he draws his bow and releases a pair of bolts, but both bounce off her flesh. Lyssa fires off a minute meteor and as the bolt explodes against the Alu-Fiend, Lyssa charges the winged beast with her Red Athis Dagger. When the blade pierces the demon’s flesh, she howls as her form dissipates and is immediately torn away from the current plane of existence.

In the Alu-Fiend’s throne room, an orb glowing with black violet energy resting on an ornate velvet pillow. Lyssa panics and runs out of the room, feeling her connection to magical energies being stifled.

“This must be the orb! If Lyssa’s running in terror, it must be affecting her in some way," Moira exclaims before running to catch up with Moira. "Vetnik, grab the orb!”

“Is that the orb?” Moira asks Lyssa, who’s slumped against the hall
“Yes. Yes it has to be!”
“I realize you feel helpless. I understand why you’re scared, but I’m here to make sure you get back safely.”
“I can feel it spreading, like it’s coming closer! How can you say you’ll protect me?”

Vetnik scoops up the orb into a rough sack while Thom inspects the pillow and the rest of the room. He finds the relic of another unfortunate adventurer: a ring! He inspects it and finds it to be a Ring of Warmth.

“I’m going to go back and tell them we’re going ahead. Wait here!” Moira says before handing her Starstrike. "Hold onto this!”

Moira tells the others they’re traveling ahead so they can stay away from the influence of the orb. Grum agrees to go with them and the trio make their way back out of the castle.
“Wanna clean this place out?” Thom asks the party.
“What’s most important has been accomplished. Let’s go.” Moira lays hands on Trisoll and heals his stomach wound before going back to Lyssa.

Vetnik, Trisoll, and Thom keep them in their view but far enough away to keep the orb from Lyssa. Thom, in the meantime, also feels his magical abilities waning but is less anxious about it (considering them to be secondary skills to his skills as a blade!) As they leave, Lyssa feels Thom’s charm spell effects have all disappeared. Grum leads the ladies through the castle back up through the courtyard. Grum leads them up through the ruins and they return to an undisturbed campsite.

On the way back to Blackmoor, Grum spies a quartet of hunters. He and the ladies pass by them without encounter. By the time the others come up the rear, they’re gone. They soon find themselves back outside the gates of Blackmoor. The gates open and they pass the Hall of Halls and head towards The Fetch. As they approach, they see a man hassled by Dwarves guards. Dressed in a dark cloak and strange leather armor with forester’s breeches, he pleads with them in vain. Moira takes notice.
“Looks like trouble.”
“It’s none of our concern, let’s go!”
“He’s clearly in distress!” Moira walks over to the Dwarven guards.
“This man appeared from nowhere, we can’t communicate with him. We’re taking him away.”
“It’s not a crime that he cannot speak with you! I think you owe this man a fair.”
“Can you speak?"

Lyssa stomps off back towards tThe Fetch. Moira greets the others who enter into town after them, and pleads with Trisoll to facilitate communication between the mystery man and the guards. He asks Trithereon for the power to understand each other.
“What are you doing here? What is your business?!”
“I don’t know what I’m doing here!”
“This is supposed to be an acceptable answer, human?”
Vetnik walks up. “Gentlemen, perhaps we should give this gentleman a moment to get his barring?”
“This man is a thief!”
“What was the value of the food in question?”
“I’ll pay it.”
“Four silvers!”
Vetnik hands him four silvers.
“This is a fine reparation, but it doesn’t change the nature of his crime.”
“He’s clearly hungry! He didn’t steal for gain!”
Vetnik signs off on the stranger with his full royal trial. “There is a matter of the fine.”
“You let them go and we’ll discuss it.”

The stranger reveals he came from a lifetime of living in the woods.
“From this region?” Thom asks
“Obviously this was a mix up.” Vetnik comments, remembering Lyssa’s own mix up.
“All men have the right to eat. No one should be punished for their hunger.” Moira says sympathetically.
“Want some cheese?” Thom offers.

“I am Knightearl Vetnik Talthraudii of Grandrud, son of Isrygrad Talthraudii, Archduke of Granrud!”
“I am Moira Steelshaper.”
“I am Thom Drum”
“Grum Giantslayer, hello!”
“Do you have shelter or coin?” Moira asks the stranger.
“We’ve just come from a great adventure, we have coin a plenty. I couldn’t sleep with myself knowing a man was out there suffering. Allow me to pay for a room for you.”
“No, I insist.”
“Vetnik, please! This is my only reason for keeping coin. Good sir, there’s a room at The Fetch. Come!”
“I was actually more interested in going back home.”
“Where is home?”
“Not sure where I am in relation.”
‘What’s the last thing you remember?” Grum asks.
“All I know is that this isn’t where I’m from. I woke up in an unfamiliar area and came here.”
“Why’d you leave it.”
“Sooner or later I had to find something to eat!”
“Are you a farmer or city person?”
“City person.”
“What kind of city? We’re happy to find where you came from?”
The stranger warms to Moira, who’s radiance is overwhelming. He reveals that he was able to sneak into the city past the war wheels.
“Friend, what is your name? We’ve given you ours?” Grum asks
“I… I’m not comfortable with sharing that just yet.”
“It’s ok. I don’t see any darkness in you.” Moira remarks.
“We can respect that.” the Black brothers agree.
Moira explains to the stranger about Lyssa. “Though ill-tempered, she has a good heart. Don’t take what she says to heart too much.”
“Fair enough.”
They pass The Dark Below, a subterranean tavern. He sees a gnome ghetto buzzing, and the comprehend language spells grants him knowledge (though they speak so quickly he can barely understand them.)

Grum paces through the city and sees little commotion. Because the city is steam and mechanically powered, the town seems quiet. One stranger he passes sees his power phase out but as they pass, he rejoices with dancing lights as the orb passes by.

“Vetnik and I are going to go fetch a couple pints of ale and meet at the fountain.”

She presses gold coins into the stranger’s gloved hand before checking on Lyssa. “This should be more than enough to keep you safe for awhile.” He looks over them and realizes they are from an unfamiliar territory. Grum goes for a drink and before he can offer one to the stranger, he goes to the innkeeper to get a room. Thom practices his forms and does his sketching and research before retiring.

Moira visits Lyssa. “I just wanted to let you know Vetnik is going to stay elsewhere with the Eye until morning. You’re safe for the night. You’ve nothing to worry about."

Lyssa pleads with Moira to stay. She agrees and the two sit silently on Lyssa’s bed together until Lyssa finally crumbles and weeps in her friend’s lap, revealing to her that “she’s made a terrible mistake” and that she has to get home soon! She soon passes out in Moira’s lap and Moira dozes off shortly after.

In the morning, the stranger is the first to wake, having passed out in his small chair facing the door. The others awaken and together they plot how to return to Greyhawk in a timely fashion with the orb in tow. Trisoll proposes that they appeal to the grand druidess, Favilla Moonstone, to see if she can’t grant them passage by other means. Thom, being the most charismatic (second only to Moira) and least dogmatic of the group, offers to woo her with a poem celebrating the old faith. Lyssa pleads with Moira to suppress her need to preach the word of Cortox in favor of helping to win over Favilla with her natural, charming personality — all for the sake of returning home sooner.

Moira and Thom both successfully make their case to the druidess, who is both impressed by Thom’s lyricism and Moira’s natural charisma. She agrees to send them back to Greyhawk via a spell enabling her to create portals through her enchanted briar patch. So won over by Thom and Moira, she agrees to let all pass despite her personal disliking towards certain members of the party (Lyssa and Trisoll in particular.) The cloaked stranger decides to tag along, staying close to Moira — an unspoken show of appreciation for her earlier generosity.

Favilla opens the briar patch up to them and they each pass through. Both Thom and Lyssa feel their connectivity to the magic energies begin to thin with each second near Vetnik and the orb, which makes Lyssa especially anxious. They pass through the briar and step out of a patch of bushes a couple miles outside of Greyhawk.

Spoiled on Second Chances


Lyssa stepped away from the locked wooden doors, staring at her hands and questioning what went wrong – having not felt her Knock spell connect. Behind her, the others kept their hands at their weapons and their eyes on Lyssa.
Thom hissed at Lyssa from behind, his tone especially panicked after hearing the Abyssal voices in congress behind the door:

“Hazahem mem do retinadas!”

Lyssa and the others slowly turned their heads ‘round and stared at Thom, confused by the words leaving his lips. He continued, “Kellidem oddoso ritty tat?”

“Yummo pop noreiga?” Moira leaned in to Thom, perplexed by his words.
“Supremidom massimae?!” Thom replied, just as confused.
“Ecki dimb odomom!” Vetnik whispered at the both of them. Lyssa surveyed her hands and continued to listen to the gibberish being whispered between them.
“Vullyie sow tak tum!”
“Rapudodoo dodedically!” The party continued to talk at each other in words indecipherable to one another, pointing to their mouths and then to Lyssa.

“Oeriousal loper! Vecniad darthanium! Yolo por werde!!” Lyssa hissed back, just as full of gibberish as the others.

While they couldn’t understand each other, each of their individual messages seemed to make sense to those who uttered them. Thom and Grum became more and more agitated, not only by their inability to speak to one another but by the still-present possibility of demons stepping out at any moment. Vetnik said little and instead stepped away to steel his frustration while Moira stepped between Lyssa and the others, trying to reason while uttering the same mad word-waste as the others. Lyssa was visibly overcome by the whole ordeal. While she couldn’t understand them, their frustration and accusatory tones were clear as crystal. Lyssa bowed her head and covered her face. Closing her eyes, she concentrated hard on what she had inadvertently done, tracing the steps backwards to the moment of approaching the locked wooden doors. Suddenly, the waves of gibberish stopped and gave way to silence; she no longer felt her hands across her face but against cool, hard wood. She opened her eyes and, to her shock, she found herself back at the doors. She jumped away from them and stared at the room in wonder for a moment.

“Lyssa,” Thom whispered from behind her, still cloaked in Invisibility! The clarity of his words shocked her back to reality, and she quickly turned to see he and the rest of her party still positioned to draw weapons. “What are you doing?!”
“I… you can,” Lyssa stammered, understanding Thom’s common words. “What just happened?”
“What do you mean ‘what just happened’? I just told you I heard something Abyssal behind those doors and you decided to go to them!”
Lyssa looked down and surveyed her hands once more, feeling the heat of magic cooling in her palms.
“Can we keeping going?” Thom asked, tense with urgency. He tapped his brother and Grum lead the others away. Moira turned back and silently beckoned to Lyssa to follow. Lyssa gave one last look to the doors and wondered what it was lurked behind them, but more importantly, how exactly she returned to this moment.

Grum and Thom scouted ahead, each of them stealthy in their own ways. Each would whistle a quick and precisely pitched note – a sign that the coast was clear. Grum kept himself ahead of his brother while Thom waited to ensure the others kept up without issue. The halls of the lower levels of Castle Mosshold were winding and dark, silent except for the clattering of heavy armor pieces rustling together as Vetnik and Moira marched throughout. Grum and Thom passed down a whistle every thirty or so feet and the others did their best to keep pace.

While Thom waited at the bend of another identical hall for the others, Grum tip-toed down the stone path, gliding across on Elven made boots that made not a noise as a stepped. The boots, however, did little to help him as he stepped down upon a particular stone panel. His toes landed and pressed upon it and suddenly he felt the weight of his step depress the panel into the floor. Too caught up in his speed to react, his next step was a leap down into a deep, dark pit that cut the walkway in two.
“Oof!” he cried out as he tumbled down onto the hard stone.
Vetnik raised his torch to see what lied down the hall but saw nothing. Thom’s keener Half-Elf vision yielded more detail in the darkness, but he too saw no sign of his brother.

Thom lead the others carefully down the hall as he passed through, he too felt the trigger panel in the floor (though this time, it was still lowered into the ground.) A half-foot or so in front of him, he could hear something scraping in vain against stone.
“A little help here!” Grum called out from below. Thom and Vetnik stepped forward in the light of the torch they saw the other Black brother standing at the base of a ten-foot pit. Its walls were smooth and undecorated, but as Vetnik passed his torch deeper into the pit, he could see the shine of old grease clinging to the walls. Vetnik passed his torch to Thom, kneeled down and reached into the pit.
“Grab my hand,” Vetnik urged, lowering his torso down into the pit. Grum squatted and with all of the force left in his legs, he leaped upwards and grabbed onto the cavalier’s thick, armored arms! Vetnik braced himself and with one mighty and effortless tug, pulled he and his companion upwards out of the pit and back with the others.
“Ought to be more careful next time, brother,” Thom jeered.
“This is a fine mess we’re in now,” Grum said, surveying the pit and the path beyond. “How do we want to get across?”
“Maybe Vetnik could just throw us all across,” Trisoll joked, slapping the noble knight’s back in good humor.
Grum offered a more practical approach: “That, or we can just jump. It’s not too far a leap.”
“Well, just be careful not to fall in again,” Thom continued to playfully taunt his brother. “We don’t want to exhaust the knight!”
Grum gave his brother a sardonic glance before stepping away from the edge of the pit. He stretched and bent his legs like a seasoned athlete and sprinted towards the pit, leaping into the air a half-foot away from the edge. He threw his arms forward as he thrust himself across the pit opening onto the other side.
“There, that was easy!” Grum said, catching his breath.
“Stand back!” Thom called out, his disembodied voice echoing through the hall. Grum and the others backed themselves against the wall, unsure of where exactly Thom was, and waited. The sound of running footsteps signaled his attempt and a moment later, the sound of his boots landing against the stone signaled that his attempt to cross was successful. Trisoll underhanded his shillelagh across the pit into Grum’s arms and he aped the movements of his acrobatic friends. He rushed towards the edge of the pit and leaped just as he had seen them do, though less graceful than the twins. Trisoll cleared the opened and tumbled onto the other side, stumbling a bit as he landed.

“You should go first,” Moira whispered to Vetnik. “If I fall, at least I know you’ll be able to help me back up.”
“What if I fall?” Vetnik replied with a bit of a wink before stepping back.

He took his place just as the others before him and exhaled. He bent down and rushed towards the edge. His nostrils flared as he charged, and like a black armored bull, he leaped across the pit with a deep, throaty grunt. His boots collided against the ground and the metal of his armor rattled and echoed even more. He exhaled once more, letting out a slight sigh of relief. Moira had a similar hesitation as Vetnik as she too was the only other member of the party encumbered with heavy metal armor. She was visibly relieved though when he crossed without incident and did her best to mimic his success. While Moira got into position, Lyssa’s impatience took precedent and without warning she rushed towards the pit with all the physical energy she could muster. Moira watched, somewhat surprised, as Lyssa cleared the open =pit and landed onto the other side with a grace no one in the party had quite seen before. Moira did her best to not let it deter her and finally began her journey across the pit. She charged ahead, her eyes focused on her friends watching and waiting for her on the other side. Her determination got the better of her and her friends only seemed to serve as a distraction. She shot off into the air but it was a moment too soon. Moira could feel her form loosen in mid air as she reached out her arms in a vain attempt to grab hold of something. The fingertips of her gauntlet scraped the edge of the pit and dragged down the wall before she completely fell upon her back, landing right where Grum had been just several minutes before. Moira rose to her foot and watched from below as the others scrambled together to retrieve her. Grum lent Vetnik a rope while Trisoll kneeled down at the edge and whispered down to her words of reassurance. Together, Grum and Vetnik threw the rope down into the pit and slid it into Moira’s hands. She tugged at it and began to pull herself up, defying the added challenge of hefty armor and her boots slipping with every step against the greased walls. Vetnik braced himself and with another mighty tug, he yanked her out of the depths. Trisoll made a pale attempt to guide her into the cavalier’s arms but soon realized she was already safe back onto even ground.

“Thank you,” she began. “All of you,” she immediately qualified in a very diplomatic way.

Together again, Grum continued to lead his brother and the rest of his party down the winding halls of the keep – this time being more cautious in his steps. After several more identical halls, he and Thom emptied into a chamber. Though the hall continued across the chamber, right in front of them stood a tall, solitary door. This door was quite different than the others: where the others had been crafted with finer wood and more elaborate brassware carved in nautical forms, this door was utilitarian in its make, crafted from thicker wood and bound in riveted bands of iron. The brothers followed their door opening procedure; Thom listened for noises inside and heard nothing, while Grum found no traps but did find the door to locked shut. Thom guided the others into the chamber as Grum studiously took to the lock with lockpicking kit. Just as the party finished filing into the chamber, Grum stepped back from the door and admired his successfully picked lock.
“Is there anything inside?” Lyssa asked from the back of pack.
Grum kneeled down and pressed his face close to the unblocked keyhole. In the light of the torches lit inside, he spotted two things: the strange silhouette of a tall statue, but more importantly, a large chest sitting in front of it. Eager to unearth something worthwhile on this trip, Grum slowly opened the door and stepped inside. Indeed, there was no one visible in the room but him. His eyes immediately honed in on the chest: the large trunk was carved from fine, polished wood and wrapped in tentacles of brilliant silver filigree that sparkled under the light of the torches. A strange and pristine sight for a palace long abandoned he thought to himself. His eyes moved from the chest upwards to the statue. On a large, ornately carved stone podium there were two figures he could make out, carved from ebony-colored marble. The first at the base was of a man, splayed out on his back with a face staring towards the entrance in wretched agony. His eyes followed the source of the stone man’s torment – a thin pitchfork forged from black, rusted metal – up to a second, more abstract figure. Its body seemed to be wrapped in tendrils and drapery, though two clawed hands shot through and held the pitchfork in place. At the top of the statue, from a lengthy and gaunt neck, rested a head but turned backwards and faceless from what Grum could see. Grum inched forward to take a closer look and just as he took a second step, the statue’s head spun around and stared straight at Grum. Its demonic visage chilled Grum: its features were sunken and defined, its skin the same ebony colored stoneflesh that seemed so taught, it pulled away from its mouth to reveal a smile of perfectly lined marble fangs and a shining silver tongue, like that of a serpent. His stomach dropped at the sudden fright and he quickly backed up towards the safety of the exit! He stared into the sculpted eyes of the demon, carved from amber marble with veins that traveled the socket to cheek down into the mouth.

“Hahahahahaha!” The demon head let out a dry and throaty cackle, mocking Grum in at least four different pitches as to confuse and unnerve him even more.

Moira immediately sensed the presence of something dark and twisted and pushed ahead to support Grum. Lyssa too sensed a darker power inside and followed right behind Moira. Vetnik stood guard outside and as Trisoll stepped into the room, Thom snuck inside behind them. While they gawked at the statue, he climbed the walls, up beyond the torches onto the stone archway of the door. He looked around the room and he too saw nothing else within except the statue and chest. He did, at his height however, see what decorated the room above the torches. Drawn in rust red pigment were unfamiliar sigils — Abyssal in nature no doubt! He kept his cool though and continued to observe, ready to leap in at a sign of danger.

“Wait,” Moira said as she stepped forward, “you can speak?”
The statue said nothing.
Moira raised her hand in front of her and took another couple steps. “What are you?”
The statue remained silent.
“Speak, demon! Whatever you are, I can still feel you in here!”
The statue stayed as it was. Moira lowered her arm and stared at the demon dead stone eyes. She wondered for a moment if Grum had heard anything at all, or if something was interfering with her divine intuition.
“Come,” Lyssa said to Moira with a hint of disappointment. “Grum, why don’t you pick the chest open and—“
“I… know… you…” the same cacophonous voice began. Lyssa and the others looked up and just as she did, the sound of stone grinding against stone echoed in the chamber as the demon head swiveled quickly at the base of its skull and fixed its amber gaze on her and Moira. Lyssa turned from Moira and moved slowly towards the statue. Grum took the opposite approach and immediately returned outside to wait with Vetnik to watch from a safe distance.
“What do you mean you know me?” Lyssa asked.
“I… know what you seek!”
Lyssa turned to the others still waiting in the room, all of who kept their eyes fixed on the statue staring at Lyssa. “Leave us.”
“Are you mad?!” Moira cried out.
“Lys, I don’t think it’s wise to even entertain… whatever this is, let alone leave you two together in here by yourselves!” Trisoll added.
“Lyssa, this room is filled with evil. We must continue on!”

“I… was… sent here…” the voices answered.
“By whom?”
“By… someone… you know…”
“Someone… from… the University…”
“Ebevira? Was it her?”
The statue paused before answering back.

“What are you?”
“I… was once… like you…”
“How? Were you a student?”
“Lyssa, come. Please!”
“Were you a student of Ebeviria’s?”
The statue continued to pause while Moira and Trisoll did their best to urge their companion away from the speaking statue.

“Lys, we have to keep moving! Don’t listen to whatever that thing tells you!”
“How did you end up here?”
“Lyssa, please!”
“As punishment or to guide me?”
“Lyssa, we have to—“
“What do you know about the Eye of Null? Is it still here?”
“In… the tallest… tower…”
“Is it guarded?”
“Who guards it?”
“Nooo one…”
“No one? What do you mean ‘no one’? What guards the tower?!”
The statue said nothing back. It continued to smile as the torchlight sparkled of its tongue. Lyssa was taken aback for a moment, confused.
“Where did you say the Eye was?”
“The… Western dungeons…”
“Lys, this isn’t good, we have to get out!”
“Lyssa, do not trust this creature’s words. He has been sent here to deceive!”
“Where is the Eye now?”
“Waiting… in… the courtyard…”
“Do you believe us now, Lyssa?” Moira said, calling out to the stubborn mage. Lyssa continued to stare into the face of the marble demon. The silver tongue twinkled in the light. Silver twinkled below as well, from the serpentine filigree of the large chest that rested at the base of the statue.
“The chest! It’s in the chest!” Lyssa proclaimed confidently. The marble demon would confuse her no longer! She raised her arm and her hand sparkled with scarlet energy as she cast a Knock spell over the chest.
“Lyssa, no!” Moira cried out.

The silver tendrils surrounding the locked swung apart and the lid of the chest shot open. As Lyssa’s eyes returned to normal, a sinking feeling fell deep in her gut. A loud hiss echoed through the chamber, but not from the mouth of the demon statue but from the chest itself. Giant plumes of thick, acrid gas emptied out of the chest and engulfed Lyssa as they billowed towards the door.

Seeing the gas escape the chest, Thom flipped down from the archway and back out into the hall where Vetnik and his brother waited. Grum stood by and watched as Moira and Trisoll did their best to outrun the rapid surge of gas filling the room. Soon their bodies were engulfed just as Lyssa’s had been and, seeing no other option, Grum quickly slammed the door shut! A mass of desiccated voices laughed riotously from behind the door. Vetnik, Grum, and the unseen Thom watched and waited for some harbinger of good news. The last echo of laughter sounded and together they stood in silence and in shock.

The faint sound of coughing followed from behind the door. The trio of men could hear the sound of metal armor shuffling towards the door. Grum mustered up the bravery to approach, but before he could open the door, Moira defiantly swung it open. Her eyes and nostrils red with irritation and wet with tears and snot, she coughed as she entered the cleaner air of the outside chamber. Under each arm was the motionless body of a companion. Unable to continue, she sunk down to her knees and continued to gasp for air, releasing Trisoll and Lyssa from her grasp. Their bodies rolled onto the floor, limp and unmoving. The trio felt helpless as they circled around their companions. Moira steadied herself, taking in the sweet-by-comparison dungeon air. She lifted her head up from the ground and turned to see Lyssa to her right: her thin mouth stayed parted while her deep, brown eyes looked upwards into nothing. She spun her head to the left and saw a similar sight: Trisoll on his belly, his motionless cheek pressed down onto the cold stone floor, his ashy blonde hair covering unblinking blue eyes. Vetnik kneeled down, removed his gauntlet, and pressed his fingers to Trisoll’s throat. He closed his eyes and sighed as he turned his friend over onto his back.
“No! No, no, no, no…” Moira chanted to herself as the tears continued to flow down her cheek. She covered her face and recited a prayer to Cortox through trembling lips. The Black brothers stood back and remained quiet and in shock. Grum kneeled down and did what he could to quietly console Moira while Vetnik lifted the body of his fallen friend into his arms in a stoic and dignified manner.

Group leaves Castle Mosshold, Morrigan lets them pass and watches them leave saddened by their loss.

Group returns to camp to find the hut undisturbed, but one of the snares has gone off. Moira prepares both bodies and wraps them to preserve them. They agree to come back only after they’re able to revive their fallen friends.

They make the trip back to Blackmoor without incident. They find a Gnomish temple who agrees to raise them for a hefty amount of gold. Trisoll is resurrected first and is delighted to be back with his friends, having returned from the grave with renewed vigor. Unable to pay for her own resurrection, Moira pays for Lyssa to be resurrected (as part of her oath) and Lyssa is brought back to life. Her reaction is very different, one of traumatic rebirth. For the first time, she floods Moira with vulnerability.

The party tells Trisoll and Lyssa they want to go back and finish the quest for the Eye of Null. Trisoll is agreeable, but Lyssa is understandably frightened to go back. She agrees she will ride with them to the Mosshold but will not return to the castle.

Once back in Mosshold, they set up camp as usual. Lyssa continues to protest going back inside, so Thom does the only thing he knows he can do to snap her out: casts a Charm spell over her, lasting three days. Together again, the party re-enters Castle Mosshold. In there, they find the body of Morrigan Shearwood, who has seemingly slit her own throat on her once-sacred sword. Thom and Grum sack the room and find __________________.

They return to the lower levels. In the first room they access, they find a fivesome of Dretch. Lowly, speechless demons who put up little fight. In the next chamber they spy a trio of Ogres roasting pieces of a man’s corpse over an open flame, while they feed a pet Giant Boar leftover limbs. In the corner, a grizzled dwarf waits tied up in the corner. They party agrees to an ambush and they enter in full force. Trisoll’s telepathic mastery over animals comes in handy as he uses his connection with the Giant Boar against the Ogres. While the party battles it out, Thom rescues the dwarf.

The party fells the ogres. While the others grill the Dwarf about who is he is and how he ended up in Castle Mosshold, Lyssa searches the bodies of the Ogres while retrieving her projectile blade. Among the dead she finds FOUR GEMS, X amount of coin, a scroll covered in X amount of spells, levels 1-4, as well as chainmail for the dwarf.

Kingdom of Silent Voices


Thom awoke to find a note from his fling for the evening, Tabys Minwyn thanking him for his special brand of hospitality. He folded it up, tucked it into his journal, and took his leave of the Comeback Inn after the departure of. Thom gathered his things and as he departed, he noticed the tense and almost-somber vibe of the Inn. His drums and art supplies under arm, he wandered through the lobby of the Comeback Inn and saw no guests, only Inn staff and armored guards mulling about concerned with matters discussed in hushed tones. Thom, having already paid for his stay, passed through the foyer and exited back onto the streets of Blackmoor, where its citizens spoke of the strange colored lights in the sky above the Inn. He hurried back to The Fetch for the night and waited to meet with his companions in the morning.

Vetnik was first to rise, as he was often to known to do. In the dining area, he took samplings of both the dwarven and gnomish eats (the former of which suited him more.) Grum woke next and hit the floor to do a quick exercise regiment. He headed downstairs and spotted Vetnik enjoying a pair of plates.
“How’s the food?”
“Not too bad. I got a bit of each, feel free to enjoy some. These Dwarves portions are too large for one man.”
Grim nibbled at the Gnomish cuisine, appreciating the leanness and earthiness. “This is far more complex than I would’ve imagined.”
Trios comes down, refreshed and well-rested, having stayed in and called it an early evening after checking in at The Fetch.
“You seem chipper!” Gr
“Yea! I’m eager to get this over with, to get back home.” Tr
“As long as you’re feeling better.”
“You’re fine. I don’t worry about you at all. And I mean that in the best way possible.”
“Thank you, Grum! Means a lot to me!”

Trios takes a portion of Vetnik’s large, Dwarven meal and the two enjoy together. Thom heads down next and joins the guys for breakfast. Vetnik waves to the staff for more food and drink. Grum asks for Dwarfsod (Oerth’s version of coffee.) After enjoying a brief nibble, Thom excuses himself and steps outside and sneaks between the Inn and guard station to practice his forms. While Thom is away, Moira comes downstairs with an expression of defeat.
“Good morning, boys. How are you? Sleep well?”
“After a round of drinks I did.” Vet says, welcoming her to the table. “Please, sit. Have something to eat.”
“Thank you.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing, just…”
“C’mere, sit here!” Gr
Moira does so and confesses it’s Lyssa (yet again.) The trio of boys nod knowingly.
“Here, take a sip” Grum hands her some Dwarfsod.
“Ooh! It really has a kick!”
“Yeah, that’ll get your mind off of it.”
“I dunno, seems a little too strong for me.”
“It’s an acquired taste, honey. Let’s leave it at one sip for you today.”
“Has anyone seen Lyssa yet?”
They all shake their head no.
“We ought to check her room then.”
“Perhaps we wait a little while longer. Lest we ‘offend’ her.”

15 minutes later, Lyssa wakes from a good night’s sleep. Something burned out of her from that moment in the Comeback Inn. She comes downstairs and sees her group, among the tallest in the inn. She saunters to the table and sits at the head of the table, eyeing Moira.
“Hey Lyssa, how’d you sleep?” Trio
“Fantastic,” she says eyeing Moira. Moira doesn’t acknowledge and continues nibbling on her food. “What do we have to eat here?”
“Dwarven and Gnomish cuisine.”
Lyssa noticeably perks up at the sight of Gnomish food and takes a plate of it, enjoying it.

“Vetting, any thoughts as to what we should do today?” Mo
“Nothing yet.”
“We should discuss potential destinations and investigate from there.”
“Where, there’s Mosshold, the last known location for the Eye. One of the things that’s concerning there is this fallen Paladin of Celestial. I just… don’t understand though.”
“Don’t understand what?”
“Why she would cling to this obviously false shard of a religion. Why she still devotes her life to such a… lie.”
Lyssa looks up from her meal visibly rolls her eyes then continues eating, while Vetnik sighs aloud.
“Well, her beliefs are real to her.” Gr “Everyone has a different reality.”
“We all have our weaknesses. I’m sure why this Paladin fell has something to do with that weakness.” Th says returning to the dining room.
“Moss hold is only a day away then. Shall we ride?” Mo
“As long as you’ve got more of that cheese and ale packed!” Trio
“Of course! Let us make haste then!” Th

They stand up and, as they head to the door, Lyssa cuts past Moira and slams her portion of silver down on the table. Moira averts a direct gaze and heads out with the others, avoiding Lyssa. Outside, they mount their steeds and head towards the Western gate. As they open, they watch in wonder as the black iron gates open mechanically, gears spinning and puffs of smoke spurting out. They pass and head into the wilderness across dry, grassy shrubs. In the distance, they see a town in disrepair. Its stone and wooden structures covered in layers of unruly ivy. Where Blackmoor’s grounds were mostly earth and cobblestone, the native plants have wildly grown and collapsed the entire city. They ride through a lot of nothing, the sound of hooves against grasses and plants the only thing that sound beyond wildlife scurrying through the brush. Entering Mosshold, they see the occasional human. They conceal themselves behind fallen structures and shield their children. Deeper into town, more and more humans can be spotted but they keep to their alcoves and thresholds. No sight of children playing, no free range animals, no sounds of a community. They are hushed and those that don’t immediately rush and seal themselves off into their homes watch in silence.

At the center of town, the party sees Inns, trading posts and other buildings are seen boarded up and broken down. Castle Mosshold waits behind them all, its silhouette imposing but its structure just as abandoned. Only three corner towers stand, the forth and front most tower having been destroyed taking with it the nearby parapet walkways and turrets. Through the rubble, shards of brilliantly colored stained glass shoot up alongside weeds, rotted wood, and the decay of finery like tapestries and upholstered furniture. Nearing the Castle, Lyssa extends her hand and tries to detect magic, but her radar picks up nothing.
“This place is void of magic,” Lyssa informs.
While Lyssa scans the area, Thom places his hand upon his shoulder and intones himself in an aura of Strength magic.
“You guys, the townsfolk here are watching you cast spells and are freaking out.” Grum whispers to the pair. Lyssa and Thom look around and confirm their feared reactions. Not wanting confrontation, the party picks up their pace and head towards the castle at double the pace.

Once in the shadow of the castle, they park next to a thicket of old, untrimmed trees. They notice no guards and no visible sight of activity around or within the castle. Ravens circle above and fly out of view while, behind them, the townsfolk cautiously step back out of their homes and leer from afar. Together, they strategize as to what to do while searching the castle, Thom takes a seat in the shade and begins to concentrate on relearning his magics.
“Well, why we wait, we can set snares around the carts and make sure that these sketchy townsfolk don’t take off with our goods!” Gr
Grim gets to work on setting a series of snares in a ring around their stuff. Lyssa watches Grum lay them out in his quiet and efficient way and asks Grum to show her how to lay them, which he obliges. The two set up traps while Thom steeps himself into his spell book; Moira stands guard, keeping an eye on the leering townspeople while Vetnik and Trisoll wrangle the horses and keep them calm. The daylight fades into early evening, the setting sun changing the blue sky to golden red. After all the snares were laid, Thom stepped in and cast a field of Invisibility over himself while Vetnik and Trisoll concealed the goods in netting and tied the horses off to nearby trees. Grum showed Lyssa where the trigger mechanism for the snares was and covered it with grass before the pair returned to the rest of the party. Over the past few hours, Vetnik and Trisoll debated on how best to enter the castle. Once all together, it was decided that the Black brothers would enter by climbing up the mountain of debris into the castle, scouting ahead beforehand. The twins obliged; Grum scaled the rubble with cat like grace but it was his brother who struggled, twisting his ankle in such a way that it prevented from allowing him to meet his brother’s speed. The brothers treaded carefully across the rubble of the ruining tower into the damaged parapet walkway and quickly dashed towards the keep. Making their way down to the bailey, they saw only more decay and disrepair. A fountain in the center stood filled not with fresh flowing water but with mud and dying plants, the stone figure in the center so concealed by veins of ivy that its original form was too far beyond recognition.

Inside, Grum and Thom wandered, detecting no noise, and successfully busted open the first door in sight and entered into a sacked guard armory. Dust and cobweb-covered weapons and pieces of armor littered the room. To the north, four chambers. To the east, another door. In the middle between the two was a grand spiral staircase descending down below the earth. Thom approached the first door to the east and detected no noise. Grum stepped up and found the door unlocked. With his dagger, Grum poked the door open. In the dark, Grum could see rows of cots scattered throughout. On a table, flies buzzed over rotting food stuffs. Grum entered and sacked the room, but found nothing. Only lingering ephemera: a quill here, a quilt there. Grum exited the room and as he exited he, saw his brother’s ear against a chamber door. He pressed his finger to his lips as Grum approached.
“I hear a maiden, sounds like she’s talking to someone but no one is responding.” Thom whispered.
Grim kneeled down and peered through the keyhole. Inside, he spied a lone woman decked out in unpolished silver armor sitting in a dusty, damaged throne. She cradles a large, imposing broadsword in her lap while she wearily makes pleas to Celestian. She is beautiful but solemn looking; the fading light from outside shining through the large glass windows sparkled upon the brooch holding her soiled velvet cape closed: the holy symbol of Celestian!
“Stay here,” Thom ordered his brother before darting off. Across the broken stone and weeds of the bailey, Thom hurried back the dilapidated tower. Sliding down the makeshift rockslide, Thom snuck upon his party members and informed them of all they saw inside.

“Looks like we’ve discovered a blonde, Paladin muttering to herself inside.” Thom whispers to Vetnik.
“Undoubtedly the fallen Paladin of Celestian.” Vet
“I’m going to go back inside and attempt to open the proctillus, I’ll return shortly!”
The party hears Thom’s hurried footsteps rush away and in the distance, hears him climb back up through the rubble. The rest gather at the front gates waiting for their companion.

“What do you all think we ought to do with this Paladin when we find her?” Vet
“Well,” Moira begins, “we can ask her for her help. I’ll talk to her, show hr Cortex’s way and—“
“Yeah, Moira, you don’t wanna push anything on her. It’s… her choice!” Trio
“I don’t think she’s in the best place mentally.” Vet
“Yeah, it might not be the best idea.” Tris
“What about you, Lyssa? Any ideas?” Vet
“No.” Less says, not even looking up from cleaning her nails with a dagger.
“Everybody believes in different things. Trios doesn’t believe in the same things as you.”
“Well, Trisoll is… cute. But misguided.” Moira says uncomfortably. Trisoll scowls, almost offended.
“So, those who don’t believe in Cortex are misguided? That’s a shame.”
“It’s… it’s ok. Cortex doesn’t require you’re obedience. It’s true, and I can tell this paladin this!” Moira says, while Lyssa chuckles.
“Moira, I really wouldn’t recommend it.” Trisoll pleads once more.

Their debate is cut short by the creaking of the iron from broken stone. The gates rise and the party looks around, wondering how the gates are rising. They scrape against the stone and metal, sounding across the Castle. “Hurry!” Thom whispers. With daylight waning, Moira and Vetnik light their torches and following the sound of footsteps left by Thom.

Meanwhile, the sound of the gates rising echoes through the quiet castle. Grum watches as the paladin sits up and looks around the chamber. As the gate hits it hilt, the paladin takes her broadsword into her hand and cautiously stands and approaches the doors. Grim quickly goes flush against the nearby wall, hiding in the shadows, as the paladin throws open the doors.

“Who goes there?! Who’s out there?! Leave me be… the ghosts… no… the voices… NO! Show yourself!” the paladin cries out into the chamber, her voice echoing. The faint glow of torchlight approaches and the paladin swings around and positions herself.
“Anyone want to show themselves?” Lyssa jeers. “Thom?”
“I’m not showing myself!” Thom hisses back.
Moira leads the party into the chamber, torch in one hand, the other raised in a show of peace, and there they see the defensive paladin standing ready to strike. Her eyes glow in the torch light with a madness.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?! Speak, ghosts!”

The party looks to each other confused. Suddenly, Lyssa forcefully pushes Trisoll out from behind Moira towards the front. The paladin points her blade, despite seeing the golden triskelion of Trithereon embroidered across his tunic.
“Hello! We.. I don’t mean any harm. Um…”
“Why are you here?! To rob me? I have nothing for you, not even a soul to take!”
“Can we talk, is that alright? What is your name?”
“I am Morrigan Shearwood! Why do you wish to talk? I told you I have nothing! I have…” The paladin’s defensive tone weakens to soft murmuring. She relaxes her blade and sinks to the floor. “I have nothing.”
Trios cautiously approaches, palms forward. “It’s alright, I don’t want anything from you besides a moment of your time. Please, you’re among friends.” Trisoll notices her hand still upon her broadsword. “May I come a little closer?”
As Trisoll steps forward, the sullen paladin’s grip tightens around the handle of her blade as she slowly drags it up from the ground. “No,no,no! I’ll sit over here!” Trios says, retreating, sitting cross-legged on the floor across from her. The paladin says nothing and keeps her head down.

“What do you mean you have nothing. It looks like you’re a paladin?”
“No more… no more. I have been forsaken.”

Moira is itching to step forward and looks to Vetnik. Vetnik shakes his head no.

“I don’t hear Celestian’s voice anymore. It’s all gone. I have nothing. The Eye…I was supposed to guard it with my life. I… I… My men, I sent them to their deaths! I did not know! And now I am cursed!”

Grum steps out of the shadows and leers behind the paladin. He waves to Moira to step forward. She does. “Hello?”

The paladin looks up and tenses up once again.

“I mean you no harm, Morrigan. I am Moira Steelshaper, a Paladin of Cortox.”
“Cortox? That symbol you wear, Paladin. The stars, what do they mean?!!”
“Cortox is the lord of all, sister. And his love encompasses the stars.”
“No…no that was influence of my god! Celestian has forsaken me! Is it not enough for the taunts, the whispers at night! Have you come to taunt and torment me, witch, with words from this false god!” Morrigan stands and takes the defensive, putting her sword between Trisoll and Moira and herself.

Vetnik approaches, his hands up as well. “Morrigan, please.” Morrigan swings and points her blade at the cavalier. “My lady, Celestian… when did you lose touch with him?”
Morrgian locks eyes with Vetnik and her hands tremble with the blade in them. “The Reunification (DATE).”
Trisoll stands and takes a similarly passive stance. “This doesn’t have to get crazy, maybe we can help you get answers!”
“Yes sister,” Moira interjects, “once you realize the power and grace of Cortox, he will be able to grant you any answers you seek!”
The party as a whole turn their eyes towards Moira in unspoken frustration. Morrigan’s trembles no more, angered by the utterance of Cortex’s name, and in a furious rage she approaches Moira. “HERETIC!” She cries out at Moira. Grum leaps forward with bow and arrows drawn. Morrigan looks back and forward frantically. “Torment me longer, cruel spirits!” she hisses, taking pause.
“Calm yourself,” Lyssa says stepping forward. Her eyes flash and immediately, Morrigan sinks back into a stupor. “Sheathe your blade,” Lyssa commands, though Morrigan is unresponsive at first. “Sheathe your blade!” Lyssa barks, less patient. Morrigan tosses her blade aside and stumbles around until squatting back down against the stone floor.
“Take the blade, take the blade!” Grum cries out to Trisoll.
Trios rushes up and reaches out to grab the blade. Picking it up with both hands, he looks at her (the weight of the blade a bit of a shock to Trisoll) and asks if it’s alright that he takes it from her. Morrigan is unresponsive.
“It’ll be fine.” Lyssa says to him. “Stand paladin!” Morrigan reluctantly does as she’s told. “What keeps you here?”
“I am cursed to be here.” she mutters.
Grum relaxes his bow and places his hand upon Morrigan’s plated shoulder as if to comfort her. “You do not have to stay cursed. Come with us, we can help you.”
“I wish that were true. So many others have died. Men and women in my charge…” she responds, her voice cracking
“Is it because of the Eye?” Vet
Morrigan says nothing, only looking to Vetnik with a hangdog expression.
“Where is the Eye now?” Lyssa asks sternly.
“Below. Beneath the castle, inaccessible to me.”
“Why inaccessible to you?” Vet
“What lies beneath the castle?” Lys
“Then you come, fight with us.”
“I cannot! I am cursed, not to enter, not to leave. At night, I hear voices taunting my cowardice.”
“Who are these voices?”
“I don’t know?”
“Is it your own voice?” Gr
“No, no… sometimes my own voice is my only comfort.”
“We are friends are we not?”
“Yes, of course!” Mor responds to Lys.
“Then you come with us.”
“I cannot! I cannot go down there, please!” Morrigan pleads, nearing the staircase.
“Come, I’ll tell you a story,” Vetnik says as he guides her along.
“I told you, I cannot! The curse, the demon below!”
“There’s a demon?!” Thom cries out
“Morrigan, I implore you. You don’t wish for your dear friend to come into harm, do you?” Lys says. Morrigan blinks and shakes her head, awakening from Lyssa’s charm. She sees Lyssa, her eyes aglow and pushes Vetnik aside. “You dare enchant me, witch! Sending me to my doom? Where is my blade!?” Morrigan looks around and sees Trisoll cradling it in his arms. Realizing she’s outnumbered, she runs across the room to a corner. “I will fend you all off, all of you with my bare hands if I must!”

“Let me tell you a story, a tale of Celestian my father once told me,” Vetnik says, once more trying to pacify the paladin. “would you like to hear it?” Morrigan slightly relaxes at the sound of Celestian’s name, her fists still trembling. “At first I didn’t believe in him, as a boy. I couldn’t fathom how so many people believed in gods like Celestian. In my kingdom, deities were not so revered. My father though, he told me the tale of how Celestian became a part of Cortox and how—“
Morrigan resumes her defensive stance, confusion washing her face. “Lies.” she whispers, “now stay away from me! Go to your doom if you must, but leave me be! And leave my sword behind, cleric, so help me Celestian…”
Trisoll around for approval from his party, unsure of what to do. Trisoll looks to Grum, unsure of what to do. Vetnik steps back and approaches Trisoll, reaching for the sword. Morrigan attempts to rush forward in the same direction, but before she can get too far, Lyssa waves her hand and slams her against the wave telekinetically suspending her up into the air. “Enough of this!” Morrigan swings and kicks but is too far up off the ground to hit.

Grum steps forward and pats Lyssa on the shoulder. “Steady her if you don’t mind?” he whispers.
“No, no you cannot!” Moira cries out. Before she can stop Grum, he fires an arrow into her. “No, Grum! This is terrible!”
“AGHHHH!” Morrigan cries out.
“I told you to watch it.” Gr
“A tad dramatic, no?” Lys
“Look, Moira, I’ll take care of her wounds. Less, keep her up there.”
“We shouldn’t do that kind of stuff!” Mo
“No, honey. You shouldn’t do that stuff!” Gr to Mo.
Thom, invisible, mocks Moira. “The true God commands you to relax!”
Grum and Lyssa chuckle while Vetnik sighs and moves past them towards the stairs. Trios reaches up to pull the arrow out but cannot reach. Morrigan passes out from exhaustion and pain.
“This is cruel.” Moira groans. “Lyssa, please bring her down?”
“No, the Hell with that! Keep her up there!” Thom interjects.
Lyssa shrugs at Moira and shoots her a cocky sneer. Moira’s frustration increases. “Please! Trisoll, Grum!”
Trisoll winces and gives up trying to reach her. Grum sheathes his bow and heads towards the staircase. “She’ll be fine there. Who knows, perhaps she’ll find Cortox’s grace while she’s up there!”
Trisoll sheepishly passes by Moira and follows Grum towards the stairs. Moira looks back to Lyssa one last time, who immediately turns her back and follows the others. “You head to your doom!” Morrigan moans to Moira, who sighs in disappointment before meeting up with the others.

The party descend the grand, stone staircase that leads into the bowels of Castle Mosshold. At the foot of the steps, they find Vetnik waiting for them. Grum leads Thom westward down a long, dark hall while the rest of the party wait with torches in hand. They continue South down it before coming up a doorway. Grum rushes back to the party while his brother listens for noises. Behind the door, he hears the whirring and clicking of mechanics (much like the machinations he heard ringing throughout Blackmoor.) Grum returns with the others and together the Blacks find that the door is untrapped and unlocked. Grum slowly cracks the door open and peers in and find a hall of horrors: shuffling behind the door are a series of five figures. Their bodies are a patchwork of various dead fleshes, their limbs and joints hinged together with strange, bronze gears and pistons. In unison, their heads swivel and turn towards the door and their jaws let loose a tinny groan! Just as Grum closes the door behind him, he looks up to the ceiling above the mechanical zombies and sees a strange, gelatinous blob of yellow ochre dripping and writhing. Grum rushes to try and lock the door with his lock picking skills but fails.
“Well, time to run now!” Gr
“What’s wrong?” Mo
“Well, the mechanical zombies—“ Gr
“Zombies?!” Tri
“Yes, behind this door, let’s go!” Gr
The door is pounded into splinters and the zombies burst through, the scraping of unlubricated gears echoing against the cold stone walls. Thom whips his drum out and begins to bang a beat out under the veil of invisibility, bestowing a charm to the party. Moira steps forward and rushes the zombies pouring out into the hall with her longsword.
“Out of the way!” Lyssa cries out to Moira who’s busy cutting down a zombie. She summons a small glowing orb of fire and concentrates on sending it through the throng of zombies. The glowing orb grows and grows until reaching the middle of the zombie crowd, where it reaches full blossom and explodes, setting fire to both the zombies. The jelly drips down its yellow ochre goo onto the zombies who continue to rage forward. Grum rushes forward with Lyn and Slå and jams them into one of the undead machinations; the daggers surge with cyan blue energy and the party watches as the zombie lights up from within, sparks of electricity bouncing off the metal pieces causing them to slag and fuse to the corpse skin. When Grum pulls them out, the blue glow is gone — much to Grum’s disappointment. Trisoll, spying the slagging metal caused by Grum’s electric blades, decides to stand back and concentrate on the metal lining their bodies. The mecha-zombies keep rushing forward, taking aggressive interest in Moira. They crash down upon her with blind fury, throwing their mechanically-enhanced limbs into her, knocking her around. Moira is able to parry one of the zombies by knocking the gears in its arm out of place! Vetnik fends off a zombie but is clubbed by one.

The zombies break through the frontline of defenders (Moira, Vetnik, and Grum) and set their sights on the others. One clubs Grum while another falls to the ground stunned while Grum tears its loosely-hinged arm off. A second mecha-zombie attempts to strike Grum but the half-elf is nimble and dart out of the way, causing the zombie to fall stunned to the ground. Grum pauses and takes notice of the metal parts of his attackers: he sees them begin to sear and burn; he turns back to see Trisoll’s eyes closed and hand extended, heating up with glowing heat energy. Vetnik is far too caught up in the throws of battle and, as he swings his longsword, his shoulder piece becomes unhinged and interrupts his blow. Lyssa pays special attention to the stunned mecha-zombies and casts burning hands over them but she struggles to conjure more intense flames. Moira takes two swings at the mecha-zombies and only manages to make one. Thom continues to drum and rushes past the combat into the next hall, through the dripping tendrils of ochre jelly. Inside, he sees gold littering the floor of the room. Trisoll’s lowers his searing red hand and opens his eyes; glazed over and white, he utters the blessing of Trithereon:

“To thine own self be true!”

With renewed vigor, Vetnik charges at a standing zombie but misses. A nearby zombie swings at Lyssa, but misses twice. The second charges after Moira and bashes her in the skull with its armor-plated fist. Lyssa, seeing Moira exhausted from the abuse at the hands of the mecha-zombies, creates an invisible shield around her! Thom watches from the safety of the next room, invisible and continuing to pound away at his drums (in a nearby corner, he spots a carved ivory coffer). Grum drops Lyn and Slå and draws his longsword, but as he pulls it out he slips and falls to one knee, wildly slicing into Trisoll! Trisoll shrieks out in agony as Grum cuts through his leg. Moira cuts at a zombie and watches as the metal parts of the creature continue to heat up until red hot, causing one of the fallen zombies to slag and stop moving. Trisoll limps over to Moira and places his hands upon her, healing what wounds of hers he can.

Steeled, Moira slices twice at a mecha-zombie and cuts it down to shreds. It collapses to the ground and writhes, the gears and pistons making up for movement. A badly burned zombie rises from the ground but Vetnik swings around and jams his longsword into him, knocking it back with a mighty blow. Grum takes on the most mobile of the zombies and cuts into it with both a longsword and handaxe, bringing it to the brink of true death. Thom sneaks back past through the dripping jelly and yanks out an important gear of one of the zombies, causing it to collapse. The last two standing zombies attempt to strike Thom and Trisoll but both miss. Lyssa pulls a random dagger from her holster and pulls out the red glass blade from Athas, jamming it into the zombie. As the blade pierces the zombie’s skull, a sudden wave of intense warmth fills the two rooms. She pulls the blade out and sees sweat begin to collect on everyone’s brows — especially on Vetnik and Moira, who become visibly more uncomfortable. Vetnik swings and misses the first but he fells the second shambling machination. Moira sees the last one standing and cuts it down.

In the next room, the party sees puss-like dripping goo slowly drip down from the ceiling and slither to the ground. It collects into a pile and as it reconstitutes, Lyssa steps forward and blasts it with another wave of burning hands. The ochre jelly recoils and does its best to crawl away from the jet of fire.
“Does anyone know anything about these kinds of creatures?!” Moira cries out.
“Don’t let it touch you!” Vetnik replies.
Seeing the adverse reaction to Lyssa’s burning hands, both Vetnik and Moira pick up their torches and jab at the jelly with them. Grum passes his arrowtip through Vetnik’s torch and shoots a flaming arrow into the ooze. Together, they watch as it explodes into a mess of semi-transparent yellow tendrils that melt into the cracks of the floor. Once dissolved, the party enter the room and scoop up the found gold in the now-empty room. Thom picks up the ivory coffer looks it over: a battle scene is carved into it, with locks and hinges made of gold, but realizes it alone is not worth much. With no traps on the hinge, Thom cautiously opens and finds nothing inside. He pockets it and together the party continue West.

They find the door not trapped nor locked. Swinging it open, Grum sees only a long, dark hallway. He scouts ahead by himself, his half-elf eyes finding the the end of the hall splitting off into three directions, each of which are unlit and continue on. He whistles for them to meet up at the bend. They continue on together, Grum at the front and head North. They continue down the winding hall until coming upon a great, wooden door. Thom hears nothing, Grum however finds traps on the door. He successfully removes the trigger mechanism, but is unsure of its make or effect. He finds the door unlocked and he presses it open. In the center of the room, he sees a rotting corpse in leather armor, its hand outstretched. As he opens the door more and the other empty in, they see a pattern drawn in sand in the center of the room: a giant pentagram. Grum inspects the corpse and finds a small locket around its neck. He pops it open and sees the portrait of a beautiful, young brunette in simple robing. Lyssa inspects the pentagram and feels the ruddy-colored sand between her fingers. She looks over at the corpse and sees that the hand of corpse has broken through the mystic symbol.
“May Cortox guide you,” Moira whispers over the corpse. She stands and looks around the bare, undecorated room. Evil still vibrates throughout the room, which causes Moira to shudder. “Come, we should move on.”
Grum pockets the locket and leads the party down another long hallway westwards out of the ritual room. Just ahead, he sees the hall break off in opposite directions. They turn left and see a door at the end; the brothers make their checks on it and, as Thom presses his ears against the wood. Beyond the footsteps, he hears a series of voices speaking in foreign tongues. He concentrates and casts Comprehend Languages, and as the spell takes hold, he realizes the origin much to his shock. He almost immediately recoils, feeling his mind swell with horrid voices from the Abyss.
“No, no, no, no!” he mutters to himself, shaking his head as he heads away from the door.
“What? What is it?” Moira asks trying to calm him, Grum approaching attempting to do the same.
“What’s in there?” Lys
“I’m not going in there! I’ll drum out here, but I am not going in there!” Tho
“What did you hear?”
“There’s some intense evil behind that door!” Moira confirms, feeling the demonic presences.
As Moira and Grum do their best to calm the frantic Thom, Lyssa approaches the grand wooden doors and holds her palms to them. Her eyes flaring with chaos energy, she channels the energy through her hands and attempts to cast Knock. Suddenly, the energy is send recoiling back up through her arms and the chaos energy leaves her eyes. Lyssa steps back and looks at her hands and then the door. She turns to the others and as she opens her mouth to speak, the others stare back at her confused.



Vetnik and Thom were the first to wake in the lavishly decorated Comeback Inn. Looking out from his room, the blue conical gas lamps that illuminated the streets of Blackmoor Town had been extinguished. The sun lit the smoky haze of sky across town, creating a surreal horizon.
“Good morn’!” Thom greeted Vetnik as they mutually exited their rooms. “What’re the plans for the day?”
“We still have more traveling to do.”
“Seen any of the others yet?”
“No, not yet.”
“Very well then, I’m going to scout out some breakfast! Care to join me?”
“In a moment. I’m going to wait for the others to wake,” Vetnik says before returning to his room. He looks out across the Blackmoor Town once more, taking special interest in the strange mechanics that seem to permeate the bustling town.

Thom headed downstairs and was slowly hit with the fragrant scents of luxurious foodstuffs. In all his travels and his days spent as both a sovereign’s child and as an extended member of the Lyks family, none of the breakfast scents he’d encountered rivaled these! The menu was curated with a selection of foods as pricey as they were revered for their deliciousness. From the menu, Thom selected the modest spread and sat among the other patrons who all shared a similarly quiet enthusiasm for the food.

Lyssa’s wakeup was much more base in contrast. Dwarven cuisine filled the entirety of the hotel. Mutton and beer-boiled root vegetables were on the menu. Lyssa armed herself and sauntered downstairs. Before leaving, Lyssa approached the front desk where an unfamiliar Dwarf made his post.
“Can I help ya, lass?”
“Um, yes. There was another man here who checked me in last night.”
“Aye, he’s the nightman. He won’t be in until the evening.”
“I see,” Lyssa said, struggling to fabricate a story.
“Anything you want me to pass along?”
“No, just let him know I’ll be keeping my room indefinitely.”
“Very well, and what name should I give him?”
Lyssa paused once more, realizing the misstep of last night’s spell. “Just let him know the room on the third floor will be occupied.”
“Alright,” the innkeeper began, puzzled by her evasive answers. “It’d be easier to just give him the name in the leger.”
“No… I’ll just come back later!” Lyssa responded in a contained fluster before heading out of the inn.

Outside, Lyssa passed the guard house packed with humans and dwarves. Nearing the Comeback Inn, she spotted a large stone fountain. Upon further inspection, she noticed sitting atop the pillar in the middle of the fountain was a symbol. The symbol, she observed, was made of three large bones woven together with metal wire; the symbol of the Unlooked For, Ralishaz, god of misfortune and insanity. Relief and worry crossed her mind looking at both the fountain and the Inn: relief that she’d not stayed but worry for those that did.

Grum awoke and, as he exited his room, ran into Vetnik who was readying himself to meet with the other Black brother.
“Good morning, Grum. Your brother is downstairs having from what I can smell a most delicious breakfast.”
“Oh perfect, are you—“
“I’m going to wait for the others to wake, but I’ll meet you down there.”
Grum patted the cavalier on his shoulder and went on his way to meet with his brother. Soon after, Moira exited her room and both warriors stood in the hall, across from each other, their eyes locked for a moment. Vetnik smiled and Moira smiled back.
“Oh, good morning Vetnik. Where is everyone?” Moira said, bunching her robe across her chest.
“Grum and Thom are downstairs having some breakfast and I was going to go make sure Trisoll was still alive.”
Moira chuckled. “I’m surprised I slept so long. These past few weeks have taken a lot more out of me then I expected.”
“We have to rest whenever we can. Sleep is precious.”
Moira nodded in agreement. “Well, I—“
“I’m going to go make sure Trisoll—“
“Of course.” Moira turned and began to make her way downstairs, but not before smiling back at Vetnik one more time. Vetnik watched, suspended briefly by her charm, before heading to find the last of his companions: Trisoll.

Vetnik casually made his way down to the last room in the hall. He opened the door to find the sinewy, nude body of Trisoll, face down, his booted feet dangling off the edge and covered in little else than morning light. Vetnik averted his eyes as he approached. He bent down, picked up his faded teal tunic and tossed it across his naked body. Vetnik approached Trisoll, gently kicking his booted foot.
“Grrr” the cleric growled, his voice muffled by dense, down-stuffed pillows. Unsatisfied with his response, Vetnik quickly yanked at his leg from the ankle.
“Duh…da…dad, stop… get George to get me some tea…”
“Trisoll!” Vetnik barked.
“I’m up! I’m up!” Trisoll mumbled, lifting his shaggy head from the pillows. He turned around to see Vetnik standing over him and his tunic draped over the back of his body. Slight embarrassment crossed his face but the tangle of brown hair masked it. “Give me a minute!”
“I’m sure the kitchen has something for your hangover.”
“Can I meet you downstairs?”
“Of course,” Vetnik replied with a smirk. He left the cleric to compose himself and soon joined the twins and Moira for a richly curated morning meal.

Lyssa continued through the town, the morning crowds passing to and fro through the city streets. The sound of metal on metal filled the air at every turn. One of the more remarkable sights was what appeared to be a long, rectangular building. While its outside was smooth and undecorated, large rod-iron glass windows made for more detailed viewing. Down the middle was an open-air hall that cut through the center of the structure and opened out to the opposite end. As Lyssa closed in on the building, the commotion of metallic noises was coupled with heated academic discussions. On one side, blackened iron mannequins lined the walls and ranged in size from human to dwarf to gnome, their frames covered in armors in a variety of metals. On the opposite end, Lyssa spied a room filled with tradesmen barking back and forth at one another over some unknown project. Men waved around parchments with strange, intricate drawings of blades on them. Above them and on the walls were even more strange weapons: axes, swords, daggers, dirks, and hammers crafted from similar metals and featuring similar mechanical componentry. The noise and smoky air were all a bit much for Lyssa, but she was curious despite the aural pollutants.

Just across the way was a more familiar site: a bazaar! Approaching it, she felt a void of magical energy at every turn. In place of magical items, she found crude baubles, gear-powered trinkets, and hearty meats and vegetables that reminded her of the stagnant scents of The Fetch. Gnomes made up most of the vendor count, whose stout tables were covered in exotic metal items whose aesthetic echoed the armor and weapons she spied back at the hall. Lyssa approached a booth decorated with daggers and manned by a solitary Gnome. The weapons on display were more traditional in their make, which was an odd contrast to many of the vendors Lyssa passed.
“You need weapon?” the Gnome asked in a rushed voice. “You need dagger?”
“What… else do you have?” Lyssa replied.
“I show you something very special,” the Gnome said, reaching underneath the table. A moment later, he returned to sight with an armored case, which he set before her. He opened and revealed its contents: a pair of daggers affixed with the ever-present gears and crude mechanical flourishes found in Blackmoor. The Gnome lifted the first one up out of the case with remarkably clean hands; its handle was made of brass, with small gears in place of quillion with each gear tethered to thin, brass chains that disappeared into the blade’s handle. “You watch!” he requested with excitement. He clicked a small notch in the handle, which activated the gears and, much to Lyssa’s surprise, the blade extended to the length of the dirk blade! The Gnome flipped the switch once more and the blade quickly returned to its original length.
“What about the other one?” Lyssa asked, eyeing the other dagger.
“You pass? You don’t like?”
“I’m just keeping my options open,” Lyssa responded with a slight smirk. The Gnome smiled back as he excitedly pulled the other dagger from the case. “You see, you like!”
The dagger itself was similar in make to the other, but instead of geared crossguard there were two small tanks. He aimed the blade with one hand at a well-worn wooden dartboard hanging amidst the more common blades. He pressed the tanks and with a slight click, the dagger blade shot out of its handle and into the target. Lyssa’s eyes lit up even more, intrigued by these designs.
“How much for both?”
“Hurm,” the Gnome began to ponder as he pulled the blade out from the target. He stood before her and secured the blade back into the handle. “150 gold!”
Lyssa leaned in, her eyes locked on his. As she gazed into his eyes and did her best to tap into his mind with a charm spell, she could feel another force blocking the connection. The Gnome sighed and quickly placed the projectile dagger back into the case and hurriedly locked and hid the case from sight. “I no sell!” he said, coming back up from beneath the table. He wiggled his tiny digits in front of her face and, around his stubby middle finger, he flashed a thick silver ring embossed with protection runes. “No charm, no buy!” he proclaimed, stepping down from the table and returning back to his chair. “Hogin no one’s lackey!” he called out, staring her down with crossed arms.
“You’re no fun,” Lyssa replied, and with her attempt to acquire exotic blades failed, she made her way back towards The Fetch.

Before leaving, she came upon another booth manned by a stout and hair Dwarf. Behind him were jars of strange of what appeared to be various dirts and ground minerals, none of which bore labels. Some were singular in color while others sparkled in the sunshine. The Dwarf approached a visibly curious Lyssa. “Galabin Earthfoot’s the name! What can I do fer ya?” he called out to her with a smile.
“I’m not so sure,” Lyssa replied struggling to figure out what the strange earthen components were, “what are you selling?”
“Have a look here,” he said, waving her in closer. She watched as he reached into a nearby jar filled with a marbled mixture of crystal-white dust and carbon black dirt. He tossed a handful across his anvil, picked up a nearby hammer, and as the hammer smashed against the dirt-covered metal, a series of sparks shot up like fireworks, flashing and popping into the air.
“I’m more in the market for potions or poisons. Have any of those?”
“’fraid not.”
“Well, can you tell me what they do?” she asked, continuing to decipher the Dwarven nomenclature with no success.
“They all have different effects. Some when mixed together, some when used with other things,” he said, continuing to smile. “Mined straight from the World Wound these are!”
“I can’t buy anything without knowing what it does!”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I am my own sense of adventure.”
“I’m not a gambling woman, at least not with my coin.” With that Lyssa, turned away and left the cheery Dwarf to his dirts. As she turned around, her step was interrupted by yet another weird, mechanical sight: a gnome sitting atop a horse-carriage, tugging at levers and twisting at gears. “Watch it!” he cried out to her as he adjusted the gears and began to roll away, swiveling in reverse. Lyssa stood there in the street and watched as other similar carts made their way through the morning crowds of people filling the streets.
Grum sat with his brother and Moira in the dining area of the Comeback Inn. Between them were a dozen plates crafted of the finest china, each of them adorned with small tastings of foods from all over the realm — from Furyondy to the Wild Coast to the tropical Olman Islands. Meats, seafoods, fruits, all exceptionally fresh (especially considering the distance many of the ingredients traveled!) Thom and Moira sipped on tea and nibbled on their more modest breakfasts, watching their companion indulge with chilidlike gluttony. Trisoll and Vetnik were the last to join and in doing so, Trisoll stumbled into frame, his hair still a shaggy mess and his eyes puffy and dark from what could have only been yet another night of indulgence.
“I take it you all went to sleep last night?” Trisoll groggily asked.
“Indeed,” Thom replied with a devilish smile.
Trisoll shuffled to the seat nearest him, next to Moira, and placed his arms onto the available tabletop, cradling his head between them.
“Some of us, yes,” Vetnik jeered, taking a seat across from Moira, who once again greeted him with a familiar smile.
“Ha! I didn’t even make it further than The Dark Below. That’ll teach me to challenge Dwarves in drinking again.”
Trisoll lifted his head and loudly sniffed at the air wafting from Grum’s direction. “Whoa, what is that?”
Grum took a moment and looked at Trisoll, his mouth half-full with Ahlissian blood sausage. “He ordered from the tasting menu,” Moira interjected, allowing her friend to finish his bite.
“I know what I’m having,” Trisoll exclaimed, waving over the Innkeeper.

As Lyssa continued back towards The Fetch, her curiosity for the foreign kingdom’s mechanical intricacies dictated her pace and her path. Passing the human ghettos and various Dwarven food sellers, she continued across to the other end of the large, hollow building. On one end, she could see bards tuning their instruments and collaborating on written verses, all of which were of little interest to her. The space opposite was another matter: walls decorated in large parchments with almost indecipherable mechanical drawings. While Lyssa had some experience in the creation and assembly of common modes of transport, these designs were unlike anything she’d ever seen before. Horse-less carts, boats that appeared to move without need of rowers, and even carriages with wing-like appendages! The men and women inside all seemed to deep into their work, drafting more designs and comparing and debating different components. In the distance she spotted another curious sight. At the base of the mountains were masses of man-made caves, some with modest entrances, others with more intricate entryways carved with Dwarven idols and runes. While the city was filled with much in the way of exciting new technology to gawk at, there was a coldness to it all. She realized, as she continued back towards The Fetch, that that coldness was a lack of magic, and that for a town so big and having walked a good chunk of it, there was no University or Mages’ Guild to be found.

Grum and Trisoll had finished their breakfasts and all felt ready to take on Blackmoor Town with renewed energy (especially Trisoll!) Together, they began to tackle the day’s mission: find out as much as they can about the Eye of Null.
“We’re going to have to chase some leads,” Trisoll joked. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get much out of anyone beyond Dwarven limericks at The Dark Below.”
“Well, now’s as good a time as any to go out and see what Blackmoor Town has to offer!” Thom declared, putting his coin down for his share of the stay. The others followed suit – Vetnik putting in for both he and Trisoll, who despite claims of not having lost all of his money during the prior evening’s binge, seemed to come up short when it came time to pay.

After being “escorted” from the Inn, the party continued through Blackmoor Town, which had become even busier since Lyssa began wandering about. The first landmark to catch their eyes was the fountain to Ralishaz, which stirred a quiet range of reactions in the party (from Thom’s curiosity to Moira’s worry.) Beyond that, Trisoll was the first to notice a circular structure in the center of town. It stood out like an organic oddity in a city filled with brass and iron. Its walls were an exoskeleton of wooden branches and vines that webbed between stone pillars, twisted and manipulated directly from the earth. Underneath the vines were runes carved into the stone. As Trisoll approached, he began to realize that runes were unknown to him.
Trisoll approached the structure, blatant confusion covering his face. He began to mutter to himself, “Druidic circle? I could’ve just asked father about a Way of the World here.”
“Maybe there’s a reason why he didn’t?” Vetnik chimed in.
“Hold on, I’ve got questions,” Trisoll said, breaking away from the rest of the party. Vetnik tailed him inside while the others waited.
Inside, the sun beamed in through the old branches and created light patterns across every surface of the circle. The runes and decorations continued to perplex Trisoll, all of which seemed foreign to him. A cool breeze blew through the circle and, as if appearing from nothing, a figure stepped out to greet them. She stood tall and stoic, with long blonde hair billowing in the breeze. Her face was decorated in red clay paint that seemed to bleed into her hair, while thin vines slid and clung to her body like tiny serpents moving across her milky skin.
“Hello, I am Favilla Moonspring. I am the Keeper of this Circle. What can I do for you today, visitor?”
“Yes, um, so this is a Druidic Circle. Why isn’t this one of the Ways of the World?
“How do you know of the Ways of the World?”
“Oh, my father is a druid!”
“Your father?”
Vetnik rubbed his brow in frustration over his friend’s less than courteous tone. “Zemilay Lyks, milady.”
Favilla approached the pair closer, the vines slithering with every move. “Oh? A Beoryian druid, yes?”
“Yes,” the pair replied, both sort of transfixed by both the allure of the druidess and the peculiarity of the living plants adorning her body.
“You see, this is a Druidic Circle of the Old Faith. Our connection to the realm is much different than those of his kind. Blackmoor is a town nearly bereft of magic, so things like that do not function here.”
“Thank you, milady,” Vetnik says tipping his head to her, “we shant disturb you any more.”
“Very well. Tell your father Favilla Moonspring,” the druidess takes a pause before turning to Vetnik, “Better yet, good sir knight, let Zemilay Lyks that Favilla Moonspring sends her warmest regards.”
While Vetnik bows to the druidess, Trisoll does so too with a defeated pout across his face.

Trisoll and Vet reemerge, Trisoll feeling humiliated.
“She said there’s no magic here.”
“We could have gotten more, but Trisoll’s approach was less than tactful.”
“Here’s the thing, we have something to go on! Look at it that way. Just because we’re not detecting any magic, doesn’t mean there isn’t any.” Gr
Moira is first to notice Lyssa off in the distance. “Lyssa!”
“How was your stay? Did you find an Inn?”
“Opposite end of the Comeback.”
“It was enough. It wasn’t a magical prison.”
“Prison?! Lyssa, it one of was the most beautiful lodges I’ve ever stayed in. It was amazing!”
“Yea, ok… I’m glad you all had a great time.”
“Next time, just pay up front. It’ll feel less like a prison.” Th
“Next time, don’t expect me to stay in a place I can’t leave out of on my own accord.”
Trom laughs. “Fair enough. Find anything on your walk?”
“Yes, a bazaar on the edge of town. Odd machines everywhere, stuff I’ve never seen. There were some kind of smithing classes in the middle of town though, but I haven’t found a Mages’ Guild.”
“No mages’ guild?” Tri
“None that I could find. Nor were there any traces of magical components at the bazaar. Just strange trinkets and dirt from the World’s Wound, whatever that is. As far as I can tell, there’s not much here in the way of magic.”
“Should we keep scouting then?” Vet
“Maybe you guys can go back and ask the druid?” Gr
“Not me, she made me feel like shit.” Tri
“Well that happens some times.” Th
“I told her who my dad was, and she didn’t even care.” Tr
“Maybe she didn’t!” Th
Trisoll pauses and grumbles to himself. Lyssa sniffs in Trisoll’s direction. “Perhaps it’s because you still reak of Dwarven ale?”
Trisoll tries to casually sniff at his tunic, questioning whether or not he does.
“What’s this about splitting up?” Lys
“Well, I wanted to go see if there’s any legend masters in the city.” Th
“There seemed to be a barding class taking place down across town.” Lys
“Who’s going with me?” Th
“Well, I’m definitely not going to see Favilla Moonspring again!” Tri
“Fine, I’ll go,” Vetnik says stomping off.
The Blacks and Trisoll make their way towards the hall. Lyssa waits and sees Moira begin to head towards the circle, so Lyssa follows behind.

On the way to the hall, Trisoll and Thom banter about Trisoll’s perceived nature. Trisoll pouts but not in an overbearing way. “I get it they don’t like me.”
“Who doesn’t like you?”
“So what?”
“Well, that’s how I feel.”
“Listen, our father was a politician in one of the largest free cities in the realm. Half the town on a good day hated him. It’s their opinion and it will be with them when they leave, do bring it with you.”
“You’re right, why should I bother caring! Wise advise, Thom!” Trisoll smiles and jokes about the importance of the druidess (or lack thereof for him.)
The bros and Trisoll enter the hall and see a class/performance in session. They notice a great deal of Halflings watching, more than they’ve seen out in the streets.
On the largest stage, a small gnomish woman of astoundingly delicate beauty plays her fiddle with hypnotic expertise. She is a master bard, one who Thom is clearly astounded by. She wraps the performance with a talk on her technique, which inspires Thom and gleans new insight into compositional theory. Another gnome greets Thom. “Welcome to the Bard College!”
“Greetings! I’m actually looking for someone who might have some information about an artifact for me. The Eye of Null?”
“Eye of Null? I know no such object, but perhaps Mistress Midwin might?”
The gnome goes to fetch her and she returns. “Hello, I’m Taddis Midwin. I am head instructor here at the bard school. I hear you’re seeking information on an artifact?”
“Yes, the Eye of Null. It’s an enigma to me and my companions.”
She strokes her chin. “Hurm, why is it you seek it?”
“The University of Magic in Greyhawk, they’ve sent us to recover information on it.”
“I’ve heard of them even up here. They’re a great and powerful guild. What interest could they possibly have in it?”
“We do not know.”
“It’s for them to know and us to find out,” Grum jokes.
“I see you’re a bard yourself?”
“Yes, the drums.”
“I’d love to see an example of your skill.” Thom drums a positive, upbeat tune. Lighthearted but not racous. Taddwin leans in.
“I like that you kept it light and pleasant. That pleases me.”
“We aren’t in the heat of battle!”
“You’re funny. Would you like to get a drink? I’m concluded here with my lessons—”
“Um… mayhaps.”
“If you’d like to join me for one now.”
“Potentially. I would like to know the Eye of Null a little more.”
“I’d be happy to discuss it with you.”
“Well, grab some of your cohorts and we can all mingle and discuss it over drinks.”
“There’s no need to bring all these other people with.”
“Um…” Thom stumbles over his words. “There’s things I must attend to, but come see me this evening at The Comeback Inn. Ask for Thomas Drum.”
She smiles. “I will.”
Trisoll and Grum just watched, wide-eyed. “It’s like we weren’t even here.” Tri
“Why is it Vetnik and Thom have no problem, but Trisoll the nice guy!”
“Lightning strikes at random, friend. But keep trying. Games of the heart are best fought actively.”
“I’ve never bedded a gnome before!”
“Well, definitely report back, brother” Gr
The boys head out of the bard college and peruse the hall. They see similar weapons to ones found by Lyssa in the bazaar being crafted and tested on. They see similar innovations happening in the armory and mechanics classes.

At the Druids, Vetnik, Lyssa, and Moira visit Favilla once more. She appears exasperated by Vetnik’s return. “My time is short, sir.”
“My apologies, milady. I had a couple questions regarding what you said earlier.”
“Very well. You were thoughtful enough to not bring back your brutish companion. Your questions?”
Moira bristles at Favilla’s shade towards her friend, Trisoll. Lyssa observes, thinking the druidess is uptight and unapproachable.
“I was wondering why is the city is so lacking in magic?”
“Two reasons. The Egg of Coot in the NW, the forces of the egg… the egg itself comes from evil, primordial magics.”
“What’s inside the egg? Lys
“The egg is pure evil. A being from the Outer Planes.”
“What being?” Lys
“That I cannot say. Legend has it it’s an orb, an obelisk of flesh with hateful, gaping mouths.”
“How far away is it?” Vet
“8 miles. There is also Mosshole, that likewise exhibits no signs of magic. Yet, it’s no by Blackmoor’s intention.”
“What is Blackmoor using to keep magic at bay?” Lys
“Blackmoor needs nothing, what with Hell’s Heart open.”
“What is Hell’s Heart?” Lys
“I thought you said you had only a few questions” Favilla snaps at Vetnik.
“He had a few questions, I have more” Lyssa snaps back. Vetnik approaches, trying to block Lyssa from view.
“Perhaps we can compensate you for your time and thoughtful insight?”
“Perhaps a donation then. Say, 50gp.”
“More about Hell’s Heart.” Lys
“It is a hole through to the hollow earth and beyond. The Dwarves and Gnomes have carved it through!”
“So, how does that effect the magic though?”
“There are a number of energies that conflict with each other and—” Favilla looks the trio over and switches her train of thought. “Where did you three stay when you came to town. You’re not from here but you’re obviously well-rested.”
“The Comeback Inn,” Vet
“The Fetch.” Lys
“I don’t trust a staying in a place with that kind of oppressive magic.”
“Funny you say that. The basement of the Comeback Inn was once the home to a hole in time and space, a rift in reality if you will. It’s been highly unstable since The Reunification of Cortox.”
Moira’s eyes widen. “How long has it been there?”
“Since before this town was built.”
“What do you mean by unstable?” Lys
“It’s hard to explain, there’s a chaos that swirls around it.”
“What about that fountain up by the Inn, devoted to Ralishaz?” Lys
“That? That’s merely a sight for tourists, a wishing well.”
“Seems to me like a tribute to a god of madness would be some kind of significance to consider?” Mo
“There’s no temple to him here.”
“There may be cults.” Lys
“They would not escape my gaze. I have eyes and ears all over this city. The rift is something much older, much more primordial.”
“What about the Eye of Null. What do you know of that?” Lys
“Only that it is an item of legend known to dampen magics.”
“I would think someone with such a wide reach and their ear so firmly pressed to the ground would have more than heresay?”
“My concerns are not yours, mage. An orb that cancels that magic of your kind is insignificant to me. Now, if we were to carry on this conversation perhaps a larger donation is in order.”
“Not if you don’t have anymore information.”
“Pardon me?”
Vetnik steps between them with more authority. “Fair enough. We will be on our way, thank you for what information you’ve been able to provide.”
Lyssa rolls her eyes at the druidess and turns away, muttering under her breath as she heads towards the exit. “What are we to expect from some robeless tart?”
Favilla cocks her head and lifts her arm. As she does, the vines slowly slithering across her body quickly concentrate and gather around her extended arm, forming a gauntlet with extended claws. Suddenly, the dry earth bursts forth beneath and behind Lyssa and five whipping roots burst forth and grab at her legs. They constrict her into place.
“Please, stop! My apologies,” Vetnik pleads.
“You have not offended me, sir knight.”
“I’m sorry for my companion’s behavior. It reflects upon me—“
“Indeed it does reflect upon you. I would expect a man of your station to associate with those with more… decorum.” Favilla responds, undoing the mass of roots entangling Lyssa. The vines around her arm disperse back all over her body.
“Sadly, milady, it seems you’re committed to your post and are unavailable to accompany me.” Vetnik says, ushering Moira and Lyssa out of the Circle.
“Hmph, charmer.” Favilla responds with disdain.

The Blacks and Trisoll finish up at the hall to find the others. Trisoll looks for a bird to call and spots on in the sky. He tries to connect with it telepathically, but as it gets closer, he realizes it’s a mechanical bird. His reaction is one of outrage. “Why would you even make something like that? What does it even do?! Does it shit molten metal?”
“I don’t know, but what would Tic Toc think if he heard you talking like that?”
Trisoll looks shamed once again. “Oh, you’re absolutely right! I don’t give you enough credit for being the voice of reason! You’re a gentleman of wisdom.”
“We just need to get you to Ilsa’s House of Comfort when we get back.”
“I just need to get out of here. The aridness, the smoke; I’m so used to the fresh forest air, this is really getting me down.”
The brothers and Trisoll meet up with the others. Vetnik fills them in on what transpired at the Circle. “At least she thought I was a charmer.”
“I don’t think she really meant—“ Mo
“I know, Moira.”
“Yeah, I advise next time you both let the more charismatic of the three speak first next time.” Th
“Oh I’m sorry, was the druidess not nice to either of you? Surprise!”
“Well, at least we got a little more information about what’s going on in this town.” Vet
“Yeah, well that’s nothing compared to what went down at the Bard college. Thom totally got picked up by the professor there, this Gnomish woman.” Tri
“Size matters not!” Thom jokes.
“At any rate, did you all find anything out?” Mo
“Not much, but we did find the hall that Lyssa spoke of. A whole series of colleges devoted to creating strange devices and armor, even weapons!” Th
“Yeah, well those weapons will cost you an arm and a leg at the bazaar.” Lys
“What else did you all find out?” Tri
“Well, the druidess did speak of certain areas to the North. Legends of an egg containing an ancient evil, a village devoid of magic, and Hell’s Heart.” Vet
“What is Hell’s Heart?” Tri
“A hole, dug by the dwarves and gnomes who live here. It goes straight through into ‘the hollow earth and beyond’.” Ve
“Whoa? A hollow earth?” Tri
“And beyond. I’m as perplexed as the rest of you.” Vet
“What… how is that even possible? Where does that even go?” Tr
“Considering the Inn you’ve been staying at is built on top of an interdimensional rift, I’d say that there’s a lot that’s possible here in Blackmoor.” Lys
“Whoa… and we’re staying there?” Tri
“It was the last thing standing after the Great War, whatever magic is there has sustained and protected that hotel.” Vet
“Well, it is a beautiful place.” Tri

They all visit bazaar together. Lyssa shapeshifts into a halfling (a previously unseen ability). Trisoll is able to haggle the previously spurned dagger dealer down to a reasonable price for the projectile blade. Thom finds a mechanical radial bow that fires 3 bolts that covers a 13ft wave and Thom tries to haggle but fails. Trisoll succeeds and Thom walks away with it.

Newly armed, Thom breaks away from the party to drill the gnomish bard teacher for information at The Comeback Inn. Trisoll and Vetnik visit the Dark Below to listen in on the patrons and enjoy some drinks of their own (Trisoll moreso than Vetnik.) Lyssa, Moira, Grum head to the post overlooking Hell’s Heart at Moira’s behest. Lyssa breaks them in with magic and Moira steps in to ease the guards. While they wait, Lyssa floats down towards the hole into the earth and enters it. She comes out feeling residual magical energy clinging to her and her items.

Thom woos the bard teacher up to a private room and loosens her up with wine and fineries. The bard teacher also sees Thom’s art supplies out. He gets her to pose for him and they talk and she reveals that the Eye of Null can permanently wipe magic from an area away, last seen in Mosshold — a once bustling seaport now in ruins now under the protection of a fallen paladin of Celestian. After talk of business, the two remain in his room for more intimate relations.

Trisoll and Vetnik find little in the way of useful info at The Dark Below and they visit the eatery across the street. There, Trisoll meets a lovely and naive Dwarven waitress.

Vetnik leaves the eatery and as he’s walking, a large flash of colored lights and loud crashing sound booms through the town in the direction of the Comeback Inn. Vetnik rushes over there and finds Moira, Lyssa, and Grum. While they watch the chaos of people surrounding the Inn, Vetnik begins to argue with Lyssa about going in to find out what happened; Vetnik urges them to go inside while Lyssa is vocally against it. Suddenly, during their banter, Lyssa begins to experience an uncontrollable fit of contradiction. Compelled, she enters the Inn and makes a bee line straight for the basement. Vetnik rushes in to catch up with her. Down in the basement, Vetnik sees Lyssa approach a wall in the basement now flashing with light and waves of energy. Lyssa moves to it, hands forward, and as she puts her hands through it the bloody runes drawn on by I’rak’ul reappear and burn with red energy. Suddenly, the pair are knocked off their feet and come to to a scorched basement, no light, and no bloody runes. The Innkeeper drags them upstairs for interrogation, which neither of them are willing to engage in. Both are kicked out and reunited with the party (sans Thom) they head to The Fetch.

At The Fetch, Lyssa attempts to get free rooms for all but Moira protests her trickery. Lyssa argues you with her to keep her coin but finally Vetnik snaps at both of them and offers to pay himself. Moira stomps away; Lyssa tells Vetnik to stop being a “white knight” and follows her. Vetnik pays for their rooms and shares a drink with the charmed Innkeeper. Upstairs, Lyssa confronts Moira. Lyssa feels that she’s not hurting the Innkeeper by charming him, but Moira disagrees with her logic and still finds her approach to be dangerous. Lyssa goes in for a low blow and tells Moira that she hasn’t been the same since Vetnik took her out at the Games and that she ought not to be wrapped up in the prince so much. She claims her heart is making her weaker and weaker.
“You and your valor are beginning to bore and exhaust me.”
“Fine, Lyssa. No one is good enough for you, no one can love you.” Moira says, steeling herself from tears. Lyssa sees this vulnerability and leans in.
“You swore an oath to protect me some time ago, but the way things are going, it looks like I’m not the one who needs to be protected.”

Alone in the North


In the morning, Lyssa wakes and knock spells the door open. “Come out, old woman.”
Violetta steps out with an eerie look of calm. “Yes, Lyssa?”
“You are to stay here while I’m away.” Lyssa commands.
“I can’t do that Lyssa. I must go to the church of Cortox.” She replies in a collected voice.
Lyssa attempts to charm spell her but her mother beats it. “You want to stay here.” Violetta slightly smiles in victory. “My place is with Cortox.” Lyssa rushes her mother and grabs her by the throat. “I would take you to see him myself, crone!” Violetta doesn’t fight back despite being choked.
“I’ll ask you one more time, what business do you have there?”
“Oh dear daughter, you will never know the peace I know,” she replies choking.
Lyssa releases her mother and in a rage, drops a scare spell successfully. She throws Violetta back into the pantry and she cowers and shrieks before her daughter, but also prays in a foreign language. “Shut up!” Lyssa shouts in frustration as she seals the door back shut. Realizing the daylight outside, she gathers her things and rushes over to Pimpleton Manor for breakfast.

George greets Lyssa. “Ah, Mistress the others are already seated at the table. Please join us.”
Lyssa shuffles in, visibly exhausted. Vetnik looks to Moira for a reaction and sees she has a concerned expression. “Are you ok, Lyssa?”
“It was a long night.”
“A long night doing what?” Th
“Dealing with things, between my mother and I.” Lys
“What have you done this time?” Thom asks in a joking manner.
Lyssa glares back at him, unamused.
“Is she still alive?!” Th
“Oh no, Lys. You didn’t—“ Tri
“Can we please just eat?” Lys

“I’ll break the ice. Are we heading somewhere, do we have somewhere to be? Didn’t you have something for us dad?” Tri
“Yes, but I’m waiting for this turmoil at my breakfast table to pass.” Ze
“Oh, Lyssa? She’s fine. Thom’s just poking fun.” Tr
“The day she’s fine is the day I can go back to my grove. In the meantime, your destination is Blackmoor.” Ze
Trisoll runs off and returns with a map to Blackmoor. “It’s as north as north can be, except for the Land of Black Ice! Vet, have you heard of this place?”
“Yes, I know of it. It’s straight across the Barren Wastes.” Ve
Lyssa looks to the group without a clue as to what they’re talking about. “Wait, where are you going?”
“Where are we going? Remember back at the University of Magic that favor we owed in return for for you know who because of you know what? They called it in. So, I suppose we’re going to fetch some Anti-Magic Orb. “ Tr
“Anti-Magic Orb?! What help am I going to be?” Lys
“I don’t know, your sharp tongue?” Vet
Lyssa looks to Vetnik, confused and unnerved by his comments. “Pardon?”
“Yes, you can just berate anyone we come across to death.”
“I have studies to tend to. Enjoy your breakfast.” Lyssa says, trying to excuse herself from the discussion.
“That’s right, run off. No thanks for bringing you back or for keeping your mother safe.” Vetnik continues. Under his breath he mutters, “the gods only know what you’re putting her through up there.”
Lyssa is immediately caught off guard. She looks to Moira, who sits awkwardly silent. “I don’t have to listen to this, nor do I have to go on some quest to chase down something that will only put me at even greater risk—“
“We’re duty bound to uphold our end of the deal.” Trisoll reminds her.
“I have to talk to Ebeviria before I agree—“
“Well, we have to meet at the University later. We can meet you there after your studies.” Moira says in an even tone. Lyssa scowls at Vetnik and Trisoll then turns to Moira with hurt in her eyes. Moira looks back, unable to keep her eyes locked. Lyssa leaves feeling deafeated and heads to the University. s

Shortly after Lyssa leaves Vetnik finishes his meal and he and Trisoll quietly make their way to the Nymph and Satyr. He bids the brothers, the Lyks and Moira an even farewell (which slightly puzzles Moira, who finds his platonic tone strange.) The tavern stands beside the House of Comfort. It is a newer structure, very decadent and posh, and unusually active for the early afternoon hours.
“Let’s go get a drunk! Some elven wine?” Tr
“I say you take it easy, lest I take you home over my shoulder.” Ve
“Hahaha I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll stick with ale.”
“Lot of ladies. Oh, speaking of which.” He points her out.
“Stop pointing!”
“I thought you were a barbarian, jeez.”
Two different girls have their eyes on Vetnik from the bar. Both women are tall, one hot redhead and a hotter brunette. The brunette steps away from the bar and approaches their booth.
“You look to be a man of class. My name is Penelope.”
“What are you drinking?” Ve
“Nothing at the moment.” Penelope replies, danging her empty mug.
“Let’s amend that.” Ve

Trisoll wanders off and works the room himself but none of the women appeal to him romantically. Only female friends are there. Penelope is loosened and uncouth towards Vetnik as she continues to drink.
“Well, my dear, let’s fetch you another drink. I’m going to talk to a lady.”
“Excuse me?!”
“A lady, I said. Have a good afternoon.”
“Fine! I’ll take that drink though.” Penelope barks, slurring her order. Vetnik leaves a gold piece on the bar for the tab and walks away to find Trisoll. He finds him kissing a husky, homely woman. As he scans the crowd, he sees an almost perfect woman: a tall buxom blonde that resembles Moira, except with blue eyes instead of green. He walks by and watches the men fawn over her. He fires her a look and she glances back. She follows him through the crowd.
“Hello, who are you?”
“You’re very… tall. Hahaha. I am Knight Bachelor Vetnik Talthraudii, of Granrud. And you are, milady?”
“Serek Millner of Greyhawk.”
“I couldn’t help but notice you.”
“Likewise. You’re quite handsome.”
“I don’t hear that often. Thank you.”
“I hear that kind of shite from guys all the time. Look, I’m into you and from what I can gather, the feeling is mutual. Shall we?”
“Very well then. Where are you?”
“Greyhawk Heights.”
The two leave and get it on at her mansion. As he leaves, he’s all smiles. He certainly walks away feeling an intense physical connection but is interested to explore her beyond her body.

Meanwhile, Lyssa visits the University and is given free passage without signing in. She heads into the guild and to Ebeviria’s chamber. The door is closed, and one of her acolytes answers as she knocks.
“Can I help you?”
“Can you let Ebeviria know that Lyssa’s here?”
Ebeviria’s voice calls out from deep in the chamber. “You fool, why is she waiting? Open the door!” The acolyte does as he’s told and ushers Lyssa in. Ebeviria waves him off and he quietly leaves, tugging the chamber door shut gently behind him.

Ebeviria stands, while Carthus remains at the side of her sovereign chair. “Ah yes, so glad to see you, butterfly. So good of you to make it back.”
“Yes, yes I am back.”
“You sound dissatisfied?”
“You knew I was gone?”
“I did.”
“Why did you… help me? Why didn’t you get me back?”
“Excuse me?”
“It’s just that… you are powerful, and I thought that…”
“You thought me some sort of ‘grandmarm’ to you, is that it? You misunderstand our relationship. You are my student, my subordinate.” Ebeviria saunters back to her chair, almost disgusted by the notion of being anything more than teacher. “Now, fetch me tea leaves! Not the kind of divining either!”
“As you wish,” Lyssa says, bowing her head to hide her disappointment, “mistress.”

Lyssa leaves the campus and heads to the bazaar. With little knowledge of fine teas, she stops at the first booth she finds and asks what she can get for 10 silver. Several minutes later, Lyssa returns with a box of Amedio Black. Her returning puts a bit of a smile on Ebeviria’s face. “You are always subservient to another,” she tells Lyssa while taking the box of tea. “The task was not to fetch me tea leaves, but to be able to bury your pride for a moment.” Ebeviria gently lifts Lyssa’s head up and looks her face over. She waves a couple fingers over her face and the teacher’s red glowing wizard mark appears before evaporating. “Now, what can I do for you, butterfly?’
“I’ve been asked to accompany my ‘friends’ to Blackmoor to pay off some boon that was owed to the University.”
“Oh yes, I recall.”
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to be of help. If this orb is as dangerous to magic users as I’ve been told, why am I even being sent?”
“The University is not able to place you any closer, so your skills with come in handy in the interim. Besides, the orb only has a radius of limited effect.”
“Then why don’t mages who are more powerful and capable than myself go to retrieve it?”
“Like whom?”
“Glarius? Or even you! I mean, you have the power to—”
“Butterfly, our efforts are better spent here at the school. That is why we have you all. Now, if there’s nothing else?”
“No, mistress,” Lyssa says as she approaches Cathus. Ebeviria watches as Lyssa kneels before him, and instead of growling he is receptive to her affection. Despite his usual grizzly demeanor, he seems at peace. Before leaving, Lyssa pulls out a parchment, “I’ve been meaning to give this to you as well. I’ve been looking into spellcraft and…”
Ebeviria looks it over for a moment and tells Lyssa she’ll see what she can do, to consider it something to look forward to once she returns with the Anti-Magic Orb.

Grum heads to the Thieves Guild and it appears as though his tutor is not there. He is stopped by someone else though: Asteria Silverkit.
“You never look at me, why is that (fake name from The Games)?”
“Good to see you made it back whole, Asteria.”
“Ah, well well if it isn’t the big winner. Congrats. What brings you here, I figured you’d be bathing in your riches.”
“There’s only so much time in the day to bathe in gold. I still have other things to do. For instance, I have to visit my tutor.”
“Oh, who is it you study under?”
“Thurman Dietrien.”
Asteria’s eyes narrow as his name is revealed. “Thurman eh?”
“I sense some tension?.”
“Shall we take a walk?”
Grum agrees and takes her arm. The pair stroll down through Newhope arm in arm, giving the illusion of a leisurely couple. “Let me ask you about Thurman. Has he expressed any displeasure with the current regime?”
“Interesting question, leads to many of my own. Truth be told though, when he and I study together he has only opened up to me as much as our tutoring is needed. Unfotunately, it’s not a personal lesson.”
“Well then, let me offer you this with your utmost discretion?”
“Of course.”
“I’m not sure I believe you.”
“Well, madam, believe what you want.”
“Hmm mmm.” She hums and beckons Grum off the main road. Confident they’re alone, she reveals. “There’s a conspiracy to dethrone Nystra Greythrush. My sisters and I aim to keep things as they are, as they should be. I notice you aren’t taken by feminine wiles, I feel like we could use a very specific man with your specific set of skills and peculiar taste.”
“What makes you think—”
“Nystra has her suspicions. Thurman has been known to meet with individuals who are interested in fulfilling this coup to unseat the Siegemistress. The politics of the guild is where the real money is made. We aim to root out those who seek change. Let me ask you, if Thurman says anything to you, will you come back to us?”
“Spy on him?”
“No, conduct business as always. No more or less than you already do. If he tips his hand to you, you should tip your hand to us.” She flashes her red nail, the signature of her girl gang The Red Nails.
“How can I trust you?”
“I think this will sway you more than trust.” She says handing him a sack of coin. “Plenty more if things remain as is.” Grum balances in the palm of his hand and finds its weight quite agreeable.
“I feel like we’ve got a good connection you and I.”
“I thought we would.”
“I’ll be in touch.” The pair part ways

At the bazaar, Thom shops for equipment: torches, lanterns, climbing gear, ropes, meal and rations for man and animal, and most importantly, 5 gallons of ale and wheels of cheese to trade

Thom is first to meet Lyssa. “Do much do you know about.”
“There’s a reason the higher mages aren’t going and we are.”

“More tactical spells
Moira approaches, Lyssa is upset that she didn’t stick up for her.

Grum shows up next, a little stressed.
“Why so glum, Grum.”
Grum pulls him aside and reveals the details.
“I dunno who I support or if I support any of them. Am I putting myself in danger if I chose a side?”
“Sounds like I need to get more info.”

“Is everything ok, Lyssa.”
“The only person in that room I expected to stand up for me was completely.”
“I know that you can speak for yourself, but you I would defend yourself.”
“I expected more consideration from you.”
“Forget I mentioned it.”
“I’m sorry.”

Trisoll waits outside of Greyhawk heights and claps on Vetnik’s arrival.
“Stop clapping, its embarrassing.”
“Did you have a good time?”
“Could’ve been better. How about you.Do you remember her name?”
“Yes! I don’t wear this finery for my health.”

The Mages give them a crude map and inform them they can be sent no further than the Cold Marches. The wizards begin to intone the mass teleport spell and in a moment’s time they find themselves in a wet, cold marsh. It’s a bizarre mix of frigid air and humidity. Vetnik is unaffected but the others, including Moira, are shivering. He throws Lyssa and Moira a set of furs. Moira thanks him while Lyssa glares, but accepts the pelt regardless. Grum leads the party through the Marsh along the guide of the map, northeast where the general sense is. Behind them is an immense silhouette of a town.

Grum struggles to find his bearings and ends up slightly off the trail. Suddenly, Vetnik hears horses in the distance. “About four horses, heavy and kicking up quite a bit of earth.”

Thom focuses and casts TINY HUT around the party, much to the surprise of everyone. Suddenly, the temp gets a lot more even. The riders look puzzle as they approach, grizzled wolf nomads.
“Wolf Nomads!”
“How do we handle this, Thom?”
“We have two options. Go around, which they won’t like. Or show them who we are and beat them down.”
Vetnik and Moira head up the front while Trisoll preps a spell. “We can do this” Mo to Vet.
They spin around on tbeir horses. “Who are you, what are you doing here?”
“I am Earl of Granrud of House Talthraudii.”
“You ride too close to Eru Tovar.”
“We do not mean to disturb anyone.”
“Hahaha! Is that a woman in armor! Is this your bodyguard, great prince!”
“I don’t need any one to guard me.”
“I think you look weak to us.”
“Come to my face and say that.”
“Katak says you’re weak.”
Vetnik attempts to slap and hits. Katak punches him back! The pair spar in fisticuffs. Vetnik lands another punch but Katak misses. Vetnik hits him again but Katak fires back but misses. Vetnik laughs and enrages the nomad. Vetnik goes low and bashes him in the left leg and fells the barbarian. “You win, Vetnik Talthraudii!”
“You got bested by a Northman, hahaha!” they jeer.
“You stay out of Eru Tovar!” he yells and rides away. Moira stands back, impressed.
“Well handled. How did you know the others wouldn’t attack.”
“There’s a code to hand-to-hand with barbarians.”
“I didn’t think barbarians had a code. You pique my interest.”

Grum continues to plot the course on the crude map. A few hours later, they see a tribe of swamp tribesman poking around in the swamp. They are outnumbered by at least double. They charge the party, with a chieftain in a frog mask. They are covered in makeshift armor made of lizard skins stitched together. Thom fires off an arrow and both make their target: the frog masked chief! The first hits him square in the chest that causes major bleeding, the other in the right arm which forces him to drop his staff. It breaks as it falls to the ground as he falls dead to the ground.
“Impressive, Thom” Vet
They are shaken but continue on! Lyssa drops a scare spell and causes 6 of them to drop in fear. Trisoll holds and watches. Grum draws his bow and fires off a pair of arrows and kills off two more swampmen. Moira rushes in on horseback and cuts him down. Vetnik rides after and kills a third with his longsword. A swamp man slashes at Lyssa (twice) and Moira but both miss. A forth takes a spear jab to the side. A fifth swampman attacks Thom, stabbing him in the right leg with a spear and draw lots of blood. Lyssa is stuck by a spear and take a bit of a hit.

Trisoll casts HEAT METAL on two of the swampmen, which causes their iron spears to heat up and heat their hands. Lyssa attempts to cast Burning Hands upon her assailants but it appears that the spell fizzles (at least in her mind). Vetnik cuts at two, misses first but destroys the second. Grum draws two more arrows and fires, killing both targets. Moira swings twice and kills both of her opponents. Thom swings with his blade and kills his attacker. The last two swampmen, still standing, flee back into the swamps.
“You want me to stop them?” Tri
“It’s up to you?” Vet

They see the 6 men and Moira begins to tie them up.
“That’s a waste of rope.” Lyssa says as she goes to inspect the corpse of the Frog masked mage. She detects no further magic on the broken staff or the corpse, but she sees that his bones have been broken and sinew cut and reshaped into more frog-like limbs. Lyssa takes the medicinal herbs found on his body and returns to the rest of the party. They leave the swampmen tied up and are back on their way.

Several hours later, they see a very large castle in the distance. Thom quips as it comes into focus. “That looks like Ram’s Horn Castle. This means we’re west of the map, and we’re off the path!” As they continue to ride, they hear a booming voice call out: “No further! Halt! Visitors are not welcome.”
“We come bearing cheeses and spirits!”
“Lord Ferin has no need for cheese.”
“But he hasn’t tried these cheeses!”
“I would try these cheeses.” A crossbow-bearing guard steps out of the wood and approaches the party on the road. “Cheese, eh?”
“We’re travelers sir, I think we’re off our path. Here, try some of our cheese.”
The guard accepts and he really likes it. “This is quite good! My lord has no need for cheese, but my men on the otherhand… I might be able to look the other way.”
“Blackmoor” Vet
“Blackmoor town? You’re a little west. Head that way, find it.”
Thom gives 2 wheels. “Quite generous. In that case, beware the veil of the bite.”
“What is that?”
“A scar in the world.”
“Would you mind being less cryptic?”
“There is much treasure as there is danger to be found there.”

The party departs and heads east. Grum takes the lead again, and on their way he spots with his eagle eye perception a strange sight: a figure seated on the marsh ground and the carcass of a fox. Upon closer inspection, he sees the figure’s face is covered with a gauze-like mask decorated with antlers streamed with feathers. He digs through the still-warm body of the fox, the guts and blood of the animal spilling onto the cold earth.
“Did you say anything to him?”
“I don’t know if he saw me. Whatever he was doing looked… unpleasant.” Gr
The man appears 3 feet away with the same dead fox.

“I’rak’ul dath thoom…”

Thom casts Comprehend Language and listens in on the mysterious figure.

“The Veil of the Bite is your doom.” Thom repeats back to the party in translation.

“The Veil of the Bite is your doom. Feed the chaos. Past Glendor through the Gloomfields you will seek Blackmoor Town.”

“What do you want from us?” Gr
The strange figure looks up from his fox carcass and speaks in common through his Gaussian death mask.
“I want nothing. You do the bidding of chaos already.”
“What do you mean by that?” Lys
“Hahaha you should know, Bride of Chaos! I see you!”
“Do you want some cheese?” Thom jokes.
The strange man pauses from exploring the innards of the dead beast and sniffs at the wheel. He scoffs: “This offends me!”
“Sorry, I’m just trying to be a little chaotic. I have ale if you prefer.” Thom opens a jug and allows the strange man to sniff.
He turns and the feathers brustle slightly as he moves, almost like extensions of his body.

Thom presents him with the gallon. He shakes it and pops it open. He gags at the smell. “You try to poison us!”
“No, no, no! We’re only trying to pass through the marsh in peace!”
“The Veil waits for you!”
“What is your purpose in telling us this?”
“You will know soon enough. Chaos has seen what’s
“Leave us be!” Lyssa commands.
The man disappears and reappears behind Lyssa, gutted fox in all. Lyssa approaches and attempts to grab his bloody hand. His hand draws on her face with the blood.
“What are you doing?!” Moira rushes in.
“Do not interrupt!” the strange man orders as he traces tribal symbols across Lyssa’s face and down her neck.
Lyssa is petrified and Moira leaps in and her hands pass right through his arm. Lyssa casts blink and he tags along! Lyssa’s hands flame up but the flames pass through him. His hands continue to trace down her face and neck. “It is complete.”

He steps away.
“What have you done?”
“I have cast spell protecting the Bride of Chaos. You will see. It is done.”
He vanishes, dissipating into immaterial nothingness, leaving behind only his feathers which fall to the ground.

“What did he mean, Bride of Chaos?” Mo
“I… I don’t know.” Lys

All are speechless. Even Trisoll is silent. “Are you alright, Lyssa?” Th
“Are you ok to travel? I would love to get out of here as quickly as possible” Mo
“Yes, let’s.” She replies to Moira, picking up a couple feathers.
“You sure about that, Lys?” Th

Grum leads them out of the clearing and they head to Blackmoor. On the second day out, they hear Trisoll cry out, “Mugwump!”
As they get closer, they realize it isn’t his beloved giant frog but another. Thom begins by pounding his war drums with the butt of his swords. Moira looks to Trisoll as she runs towards it with a sword. He hesitates but she charges and slices into it. It croaks as she slices its neck open.

A third giant frog leaps onto the scene. Trisoll feels guilty and casts charm animal, which succeeds. “You’ll be…”
“You don’t have to name every frog you charm, Trisoll.” Mo
“He’ll be called Kerbit.”
A few hours later on the edge of the swamp, the air itself is poisonous and their lungs feel tight. A haze surrounds them with a smell of smoke and fire. A mile out from Blackmoor Town they first notice outside the gates is 2 enormous wheels with a dome of glass sitting on top with 2 large metal spokes. Grum spies in the glass sees dwarves sitting in there moving the levers. Lyssa too pieces together her vision and her present. Beyond the walls of the city, blue flamed gaslamps line the city streets.
“Let’s tread confidently” Th
As the party rides up, one of the enormous wheels diverts and rolls over to the party. The glass hatch opens and a dwarf calls out. “Ahoy oi, what can we do fer ya? You seek passage to Blackmoor?”
A dwarf comes down and casts a spell. He glances at Lyssa. “You! You behave yourself here in Blackmoor! The rest of you are free to go?”
“Your name?” Vet
“My station is all that matters.”
“Vetnik, thanks for your help.”
The dwarf climbs back in the wheel.
Vetnik looks at Moira, who’s flabbergasted by the awesome wheels.

As they approach, the gates swing open and reveal a city unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. Humans, dwarves, and gnomes occupy the city. They all operate and work on natural gas machines, pumping out plumes of smog to operate the machinery of the city. There’s a central tavern in town where a lot of activity takes place. Thom watches as people enter but no one exits. A visitor approaches and pulls another person out, who escapes with an expression of wonder on his face. Lyssa stops and watches the activity. The others stop as well and they peruse the building’s grounds. Thom hears them talk of the Inn Between the Worlds. Thom looks up and sees a sign “The Comeback Inn.”
A man ushers the party in. “Welcome to enter. No hostilities are allowed inside, the magics insure to that. When the bill is paid in full, you’ll be allowed to leave.”

The inn is brand new, in pristine condition. Unlike the rest of the town, it is fragrant and beautiful, perfectly kept and clean. They enter into a foyer that empties into the inn. It’s a gorgeous building, posh and of exceptional quality. It is bustling with business. After a few minutes, a man approaches. “I am the propeitor. My name is Fredigar Crips. Welcome to the Comeback Inn, what brings you here?”
“Hopefully procure some rooms.” Vet
“I can offer you the most exceptional rooms in all the Flanaess.” Fred “Follow, I’ll tell you a bit of the Inn.”
“I spared no expense in crafting this place, the Inn Between the Worlds. Great care to populate it with great magics. One spell insures the larder is always full and that the casks never go dry, and are replenished every night at midnight. For those of you who desire, you cannot casts spells within the walls. You are not allowed to leave under your own power. Only once your bill is paid in full may you leave.”
Lyssa attempts to leave but ends up magically trapped in the foyer.
Fred waives at the bartender and suddenly an arm yanks Lyssa in back with her friends.
“Well, let’s give them coin.” Vet
“How about we don’t stay here?” Lys
Thom struggles to recall about the inn but only vaguely recalls the “Inn Between the Worlds.”
Vetnik recalls tales of the Comeback Inn, it’s survival through the Blackmoor Inn. It was the only building that survived the last war. “I feel pretty safe here.”
“You don’t feel safe here?” Mo
“No! I don’t feel like being extorted to leave.”
“You don’t have to stay here if you don’t like” Vet.
Fred snaps his fingers and she is released from the bondage of the hotel.
Lyssa is alone on the streets of Blackmoor while the others take rooms.

The others explore their rooms, which are posh and decadent. Moira and Trisoll are in awe, but the Black Bros. and Vetnik are more familiar with luxury.

Lyssa finds herself on the streets populated by majority of dwarves and gnomes. She wanders looking for a place to stay. She ends up at another inn called the Fetch, with a sign bearing a dog holding a stick in its mouth. Inside, she finds it of average quality and very dwarven in natures. Cozy but without flourishes.
“Hello, traveler?”
“Do you have any rooms available?”
“Of course. We have them for 3 and 5 gold.”
“What do you have for free?”
“Finest room.”
A porter escorts her to the finest room, which is still pretty average. The bed is of average size.



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.”
“Loaded, huh?”
“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.”
“Very!” Vet

“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.”
“Sure.” Th

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.”
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?”
“An inn.”
“More descriptive please.”
“The Brown Tusk.”
“Where is that at.”
“You don’t—“
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!”
“I’m going!”

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?”
“Of course!”
“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.”
“It’ll do.”
“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.
“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.”
“Thank you!”
“What’s your name?”
Vetnik pushes past. “Moira Steelshaper, yours?”
“Thanks for everything.”

Vetnik approaches.
“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…”
“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?”
“Zemilay Lyks.”
“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?”
“Scorn” Th
“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.”
“Oh, great.”
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.”
“Very well.”
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
“Gnomefriends!” Burbis
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.

Whats going
Let me
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

Shut up!
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.
What person?
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?”
“My mother.”
The party stands in hushed shocked.
“How do you want—“ Zem
“Get out.”
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?”
“My blood!”
“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.