The Legacy of Heroes

The Beckoned


After slaying the erinyes, the party realizes they’re 2/3 the way to their destination, westward towards Gorsend. Cleaning up the mess, Vetnik goes to the convent noticing that Moira has been away. Moira hears Vetnik approaching and steels herself. When seeing him, she loosens up.

“Look what this has wrought. Why? I don’t understand!”
“You’re asking questions that men have asked for many years. This is war.”
“These women sought nothing but to express their faith and they paid with their lives.”
“Is that not what devotion is?”
“Does it make it worth it?”

“I’m letting my father down!”
“You’re letting neither of your fathers down. These are experiences we grow from. Life isn’t easy.”

The pair hug and Vetnik comforts her before excusing Moira. She asks Vetnik for his shield to break the ground.

She returns to the party to tell the others that all inside are dead. Grunt comments “How many holes do they need?”
“How can you be so insensitive?”

Trisoll and Moira speak in private.

The unseen servants help to drag the bodies out and push the dirt out of the holes. Moira says a prayer to both Cortox and Cuthbert. The party scans the convent for signs of a ritual that might have summoned the erinyes. Grum finds a secret panel via his gem of seeing that opens up to a consecrated altar for the Lolth. Vetnik and Grum have a moment.

“Maybe it’s another clue.”

Vetnik smashes the altar furiously, annoyed that the creature of myth is making a return to their lives.

Trisoll and Moira return in better spirits. Once hearing of Lolth’s altar, Trisoll urges that the convent be burned to the ground. Before burning, Grum finds a pair of fancy gems: 2 crimson garnets. Grum gives them over to Lyssa per their agreement. The party leaves and Lyssa casts Wall of Fire inside the convent, setting it ablaze.

While the church burns, Vetnik notices Moloko circling above and heads northwest. He points it out to Grum and Grum & Grunt lead the pack.

Vetnik asks if Trisoll is ok. “Yeah. I’m not happy about seeing Moira seeing like this. She’s the best one of us.”
“Thank you for talking with her.”

Grum locks onto Moloko and the party rides in its direction. The first hour back on the road, the party sees a trio of men fleeing from a small path off the main road to the main road with shovels, picks, and sacks.

“What d’ya make of that?” Grunt
“We’ll talk to the cavalier about this.” Grum says, waving Vetnik over.

The trio of men pay no mind to the party and try to zip past them.

“What do you want?”
“What’re you running from?” Ve
“None of your business!”
“What’re you up to?” Mo

Both knights spy the equipment of graverobbers. Vetnik rides after them and yanks the leader by the collar.

“If I put you down it’ll be to smash you back into the ground.”

The men drop their gear and empty their pockets.

“We didn’t get anything!”

Vetnik tosses him to the ground while Thom slips away to investigate down the smaller path. He finds at the center of a medium sized glade a freshly built mausoleum. As Thom checks it he sees several desiccated corpses dressed in rags emerge from the mausoleum to tend to the grounds, polishing the stone and trimming the grass. Thom continues to watch as they light the lanterns in front and once done with their duties, all but two return to the crypt while the rest stand guard.

After not hearing from Thom, Grum/Grunt sneak off to find him. As Grum moves, he crunches a branch beneath his feet, which tickles Grunt. Both melt into the shadows and come upon Thom’s vantage point. The brothers call out to each to other in secret. They triangulate and meet up and Thom explains to them what he saw. Thom asks the thieves to stay while he reports to the group.

The party moves into the brush on horseback. The thieves and the dead can hear them, but do nothing. Vetnik spots shield of heraldry and deduces the mausoleum belongs to a minor Lord. Thom uses local history and deduces it to belong to House Bathis and that the tomb belongs to Ogar Bathis. The Bathis family is rumored to have been involved in cult activity but it was never confirmed.

Lyssa attempts to throw a rock at the tomb but fails. Lyssa tries a second time and it hits the door. The dead do not react but the door slides open and two servants come out and scrub the scuff off the door before returning inside.

Thom invisibly heads towards the door. He picks up no further clues about the tomb. Standing inches away from the door. Neither corpse guard takes notice of him. One is a human, the other an elf. Thom pushes the door open with his longbow with little resistance. Both servants turn to the center and say, in dry husky voices, command Thom to stop. Thom tries to climb up the mausoleum and sees the corpses draw their old, rusted weapons. Thom jumps down and climbs up a nearby tree. He sees them return to their original formation, weapons sheathed.

Vetnik and Trisoll confront the guards. Trisoll tries to turn and finds that his turn undead doesn’t work on them. The party decides to leave the mausoleum, leaving the Crypt Servants to tend to their master’s tomb.

Second hour the party comes across two stone giants who have just killed cattle from a nearby farm and are dragging back to their lair. Thom opens up by drumming to hit, buffing the party. The pair of giants rushes the party with cattle corpse in hand. Vetnik rides towards them and slashes each of them with his longsword. Grum sends forth two arrows into one of the giants; first makes it but second doesn’t. Thom moves into striking range while drumming for the party to hit. As he drums, the giants attack. Vetnik is bludgeoned by one of the giants with a cattle’s corpse. The second giant picks up a giant bolder and hurls it at Grum, Grunt and Moira. Grum and Moira are both hit.

“Why are we doing this again?!” Grunt shouts.

Moira dusts herself off and charges at one of the giants, unleashing two blows against it. The first cuts but with the second, Starstrike causes major bleeding via hacking at his right leg. Trisoll runs forward and rushes to heal Grum. From the back of the party, Lyssa casts Phantasmal Killer on the unwounded giant. Grunt fires off two bolts from Hank, first misses but the second lands.

After healing Grum for a bit, Trisoll blesses the entirety of the party. The giants attack a second time. The first giant clubs Vetnik again with his cattle corpse but Moira just barely evades her attacker. Vetnik picks himself up off the ground and rushes to both of the giants again, cutting one of the giant’s injured legs. Moira sees Vetnik’s opponent weakened and charges at it. The first attack misses but slays with a second blow. From the back of the party, Lyssa watches a shadowy figure slash into the second giant and the party watches as the giant shrieks and falls to the ground, dead of fright.

Thom sends his familiar Spitfire to scout ahead in the direction of the giant’s lair. He returns to Thom and clucks the coordinates of the giant’s cave. Before they depart, Lyssa searches the corpses of the slain giants and collects 1000gp and 3 gems (precious aquamarine, fancy jet black gem, precious amber) on the male she’s killed. Finding nothing on the female giant, Lyssa carves out one of her eyes for later use in rituals. Trisoll heals Vetnik twice but is unable to recover all of his Hp.

Thom approached Lyssa as she finished rifling raiding the corpse she had psychically slain. He watched her unseen, for a moment, as she pocketed the trio of precious gems.


The bard’s disembodied voice rattled the eager Lyssa. She darted her eyes around looking for some trace of her companion.

“You know the rules.”
“Yes, but it was my kill! Take the coin, just let me keep the gems.”
“You know we make most of our coin from finding gemstones. You don’t even have enough of your share to cover what these would fetch us.”
“You don’t know what I’ve got saved!”

“Fine, but at least let me have a cut from the jet stone when we return to Greyhawk.”

“I’ve never seen you take it like that before!” Moira remarked to Vetnik.

Moira comes over and shows concern over Vetnik’s condition. Vetnik shrugs it off but thanks Moira anyway for her concern before getting back on his horse. Thom scouts ahead with Grum and Grunt but not before casting strength over he and his brother. Inside the cave they see two infant giants writhing in a nest. Grunt goes takes the lead, pulls out his broadsword, and cuts the throats of the infant giants.

“They would’ve just died a slower death,” Grunt remarks, wiping the blood from his sword.

Thom and Grum find more gold (x3000) and 7 gems (XXXXXX) as well as a shield (Thom identifies it as +3 shield, which he gifts to Vetnik.) Moira carries both Starstrike and Blade’s Bane (her father’s shield).

The third hour of the ride is uneventful. They see Moloko circling above and watch him dive down through a standalone portal. The party finds themselves in an open clearing. They see Moloko dive down and past them and fade away into the horizon. They get close and they can feel something repel them. Suddenly the feeling begins to subside and they see a shimmering. Behind the veil they see on the perimeter several witches and warlocks maintaining a master spell.

They enter the village, which is humble — almost primitive — in nature. They see witches, warlocks and their familiars. In the center is a grander, more oval hut. The people are at first very surprised and backs off from the party. Moloko flies slowly and perches himself in front of the elongated hut. Vetnik walks up the small hill and sees attendants at either side of the hut. They allow the party to pass and inside and see a congress of 12 witches, a central figure with a figure beside her whose stature dwarfs even Vetnik’s.

The party is weirded out as to why they’ve been called to the hidden coven, headed by the eccentric Dablova. She tells them that she is an old friend of their parents’ and has been watching them since childhood. She offers them her special calmative (Serenity) which all but Lyssa enjoy – Grunt believes he’s even slick enough to sneak some into his waterskin – as well as potent healing for all those struck down by the giants on the way to Grynoth. After lounging about and enjoying the bohemian ambience, they continue to question why they were asked here.

Dablova excuses all in the party except Moira (much to rest of the party’s confusion) with whom she shares a vision she had of her twin brother. She tells her that she saw her brother Barth as a man, clad in black ebon armor atop an unfamiliar lizard mount. Around him were armies of Elves with skin of gold, alabaster, and sable wielding weapons of wood and stone. Wherever he was had an aura of evil to it that she could not discern the source of. She doesn’t reveal that she is her birth mother but instead gives Moira a scroll case with a small medallion attached to the end of it. Inside, she reveals, is a powerful Magic Jar scroll (lvl 14) that she must keep safe and use only if necessary: either in trapping Kr’zzt’s essence or trapping Barth’s soul in order to purify it before putting it back into his body. She excuses Moira to join with the rest of the party and together they take in the rest of the village, enjoying a fresh bath and some time to take in the mysterious Grynoth. Moira relays her talk with Dablova to the twins and Vetnik while Trisoll and Lyssa tour the grounds, remarking how intimidated they are by the new and different ways they see magic being applied.

As the party is away, Dablova has a moment with her familiar. She reveals to him that she did not reveal her full identity to Moira as there are more pressing matters on her daughter’s mind that she must to focus on without the distraction of revelation, but when the time is right, she will reveal herself to her. She then communes with the spirits using a vision spell. Dablova sacrifices her only two artifacts from raising the Steelshaper children and asks them two questions: where is Barth and what is the best way to get to him? The spirits take her offerings and return with two answers: a place called Kellagha on the other side of the world that is accessible via the Hellmouth in Blackmoor.

Once the party returns, Dablova shares her revelations with the party (without mentioning what went into getting them.) For their difficult journey, each member of the party is rewarded with special oils and potions:

All: Ointment of Flying (allows user to fly for 24 hours, 1 application)
Thom: Potion of Polymorph Self, free spell from Dablova’s spell book (undecided), 2 seeds for Gourd of Travel
Grum: Potion of Speed
Vetnik: Potion of Heroism (Super-Heroism if he’s above level 10)
Moira: Potion of Stone Giant Strength, Lvl 14 Scroll for Magic Jar + Phylactery (in secret)
Trisoll: Potion of Plant Control
Grunt: Potion of Climbing
Lyssa: Oil of Etherealness, Lvl 14 Scroll of (undecided)

After gifting the party with their potions and spells, Dablova offers a hut to them for the evening or to teleport them directly back to Greyhawk should they wish. The party agrees to stay the night in relative safety and relaxation, enjoying more food and Serenity and taking in the culture.

Happy are the Faithful


Moira sat up in her bed with her face a mess of sweat and panicked tears, her legs curled and pressed to her chest. She looked through the thin, silken drapes of her bedroom window to the sky and watched as it brightened from its deepest blue into fading indigo. The bleeding of dawn washed over and soothed her back into the waking world.

“Daddy,” she whispered to herself.

Once the rising of the sun shocked her back into reality, Moira quickly opened herself and leaped off her bed. She rushed out of her bedroom down the hall towards her father’s room, where even behind the closed door, she could hear him draw nasally snore after snore. She paused at his door and rested both her knuckles and brow gently against it. A flash of early childhood memory flooded her vision: she remembered her and her twin brother rushing in early in the morning as children to wake both of their fathers. Despite his buttoned-up disposition, Moira remembered that Vortis always welcomed her and her brother into their bed with half-hearted reluctance and, eventually, a smile. Moira lifted her head up off the door, took a deep breath, and knocked firmly but calmly upon her father’s bedroom door

Moira could hear her father stirring and grumbling in his bed behind the door. She knocked once more and called out to him. “Father?” Moira asked, knocking a bit harder for a third time.
“M—Moira?” Vortis asked, wiping away the sleep from his face.
“Yes, father. I need to speak with you. Please.” Moira pleaded with a cracking voice.
“Come in,” Vortis replied as he sat up in his bed. Moira tried her best to wipe the last remnants of tears from her cheeks. She opened her father’s door and made sure to keep to the threshold, far away enough from her father as to not incite fatherly panic in him.
“Moira, what’s the matter?”
Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t help from shrinking before him. The sight of his daughter’s shaken state – her puffy, red eyes, flushed cheeks and sweat-drenched hair – shook Vortis out of whatever lethargy remained. “I need to speak with you and my uncles at once!”
“Certainly. I’ll send word to Tic-Toc to meet us at Pimpleton Manor at once, but Moira, what– “
Moira rushed into the unlit bedroom and threw her arms around him. She buried her head next to his and whispered frantic things in his ears. As Vortis listened his expression morphed from sleepy-eyed concern to shock.

Moira reveals that not only was it a memory, but that it also absolves her father Drayden of guilt. Lyks reveals he suspects it has something to do with an old adversary: Kr’zzt.

Later in the morning as the party gather to have their communal breakfast, they are also told of Moira’s recalled memory. A scratching at a nearby window interrupts their discussion and, when Lyks goes to check on it, he sees an old white barn owl. Lyks begins to speak to the owl through birdlike clicks and hoots and after a few moments, the owl flies off. Lyks reveals that the owl is named Moloko and that it belongs to an old friend of his. He continues on to say that this old friend has summoned the party to specific coordinates in Furyondy. With Lyks’ urging, the party agrees to leave in a day’s time.

At the University of Magic, Lyssa goes to see Ebeviria for the first time since the trial. She finds the Mage’s Guild in complete disarray. According to Ebeviria, a fragment of the Eye of Null shattered in the process of attempted destruction and pierced headmaster Glarius Gladstone’s skull. Now, all senior Mages are jockeying for his seat.

Before hitting the road, Lyks sits the party down for a crash course on all things Kr’zzt. He gives them tips on protecting themselves and their homes and also warns them of the kind of power he has (possession, mind control, invulnerability, etc.)

The following day, the party set off towards Furyondy, according to the coordinates. They cross the Nyr Dyv and enter the port town of Willip. They find its citizens a mix from shanghaied seadogs to affluent captains and trade barons. Grum, Grunt and Thom put forth a gentleman’s wager after seeing its dock area overrun by careless, drunken navymen. The trio lurk the taverns looking to see who can steal the most expensive haul. Vetnik and Trisoll follow behind, eager to enjoy a drunk or two, while Moira and Lyssa stay behind with the horses.

For their first heist, the pair of thieves comes across a drunken, belligerent sailor and they manage to steal the bulk of his coin. Thom manages to cut what he assumes to be a hefty coinsack only to find that its contents are lacking. Grum and Grunt head to a second tavern and Grum picks out a startlingly handsome (and richly adorned) sailor:

“Pardon me sir, but did you serve on the Sea Slicer?”
“No, but I wish I had.” Grum replied with a smirk before taking a seat across from the decorated sailor.
The sailor twisted the end of his mustache between his bejeweled fingers and smiled back. “Likewise. I feel like we would have had a great time serving her together.”
“Well, no sense in not enjoying each other’s company now. How about a drink?”
The sailor leaned back in his chair and welcomed Grum to his table. As Grum sat down, the sailor snapped his fingers to summon a nearby barmaid – making sure not to take his eyes away from the thief.

The sailor introduces himself as Cerus Margen and tells Grum about his early life as a farmhand who escaped to the navy after leaving a strict, unaccepting father. Grum begins to feel sympathetic. Cerus likes that Grum is more refined than the rough trade on the seas. Grunt follows Grum inside and sits down in an empty bench near the men’s table. Cerus proposes that they take a change of scenery and Grum agrees to it. Cerus excuses himself for a moment and while he’s gone, Grum and Grunt quickly outline a new plan for robbing the sailor.

At the bathhouse, Cerus took it upon himself to treat he and his new friend “Cerul” to a private bath. Grum coolly indulged in Cerus’ request for intimacy and together they were led past the public baths to the private rooms. The disinterested attendant gathered together fresh towels and ladled the hot coals with a fresh splash of water. The attendant quickly excused himself and left the pair to enjoy in the steaming warmth of the room.

Both men carried an attraction to each other that was hard to contain but it seemed both men were experts at not showing their hands too early. However, as both men disrobed and set their things aside, their eagerness was more than apparent. Grum lead Cerus to the tepid pool before bunching up both he and Cerus’ things in a pile on a bench near the door. Grum was careful to place the jewels he could on the very top of the pile before placing his own cloak over it as to keep from being completely obvious. Grum slinked over to the pool behind Cerus. The sailor reclined against Grum as he slowly but firmly began to press his hands across his shoulders. Cerus wriggled in delight, surprised and delighted by Grum’s skillful fingers.

“Mmmm! This was much needed, dear Cerul!”

While Grum continued to work Cerus’ shoulders, he looked over to the door and saw a shadow appear underneath it. Grum kept his eyes fixed on the door watched as it creaked open. Fearing the sound of the old wooden door might alert Cerus, Grum quickly and intensely leaned down and pressed his mouth against the sailor’s ear. Grunt continued to slowly open the door an inch or two more, just enough to slip inside the steamy room. Grum fired a side-eyed glance at his charge as he lapped up his sailor’s ear and neck – an unspoken signal to hurry and leave the men to their enjoyment. Grunt scooped quickly surveyed the room and noticed a pile of clothes topped with Grum’s jet-black cloak. He leaned down and noticed beneath it a smaller pile gathered underneath it. Grum furrowed his brow at Grunt; Grunt quickly scooped up his master’s cloak and the contents bundled within. With the haul in hand, Grunt quickly slipped out of the room and closed the door as quietly as possible as Grum’s hands continued down past Cerus’ work-hardened torso into the warm water of the pool.

With the boys off gallivanting from tavern to tavern, Moira and Lyssa continued to wait with the groups’ goods and horses in relative silence. Lyssa was deep in arcane study, impervious it seemed to the boisterous distractions of the docks. Moira shared her time between watching both her companion and the drunks mingle and chase after one another. As the hour neared its end, Moira watched as navymen and catfish alike slipped into taverns and alleyways to revel away from prying eyes. With the streets before them nearly empty, Moira took the quiet time as an opportunity to speak with Lyssa as she had promised. She moved towards the bench Lyssa was quietly sitting at and sat beside her. Lyssa did nothing to acknowledge her and continued to murmur passages to herself. Without provocation, Moira began simply and softly:

“Why did you do it?”

Lyssa’s mouth froze in mid-recital. Her jaw tensed as she struggled to process the forwardness of Moira’s question. Without looking up from her spell book, she replied pointedly. “You know exactly why I did what I did. I kept it from you because it had nothing to do with you. With any of you.”
“We could have helped you,” Moira urged, inching closer to Lyssa. “We could have found justice for you and Violetta"
“I…” Lyssa began before stopping herself. She sighed as she both struggled to find the right response as well keep her temper at bay. After a moment, Lyssa began again with a less pointed tone, “I did not mean to do… what I did. I thought if I could see him, I might be able to understand why… how someone like him could live the life he lived while we worked tirelessly for his gain. Things just…”
“I understand,” Moira said as she placed a comforting hand on Lyssa’s shoulder. “I believe you when you say it wasn’t your intent. What you took was vengeance and vengeance is not the way. Had we been able to address the issue within the law we may have been able to embarrass the Cerzan family. Nothing is more important to those types than their damn social status. The younger Cerzan seemed sensitive to your plight as well. Perhaps an opportunity lost—“
“It doesn’t matter now,” Lyssa said, cutting Moira off and slamming her book shut. “I made him a martyr and reminded my mother of what she feared in me.”
“Your mother has grown into a more devoted acolyte than even myself I fear. Her newfound faith has given her the infinite capacity to love, and to forgive. She no longer fears you Lyssa. You are her only true tether to this world.”
“She may be able to forgive, but she won’t ever forget. No one in Greyhawk will. Not her, nor you, nor Lyks. No one. What good a tether am I if she constantly fears I’ll snap?” Lyssa sat up off the bench and stormed towards her horse. Moira remained seated, watching as Lyssa struggled to put her spell book back into her saddlebag.

“That may indeed be true. The knowledge of your heritage becoming public is more than troublesome but nothing proves true intent more than action.” Moira stayed seated on the bench and did her best to maintain a calm and compassionate tone. She continued to urge, “show the people of Greyhawk that you are not your grandfather’s daughter. That you are your own woman and yes, you can make mistakes but you can also make amends.”
Lyssa stopped rifling through her sack and twisted herself back around to face Moira in frustration. “What if I can’t?”
“For the death of one man, a man who made his way on the backs of others? I’d say the debt is not beyond your reach. I don’t condone what you did, but I understand. We are allies now and always Lyssa. I choose not to judge you as it is not my place to do so.”
“The worst part of this is… it was all me.” Lyssa replied in a low, desperate voice.
“Your anger doesn’t make you a monster. We are all capable of failing to act in the appropriate way. Sometimes you just get it wrong—“ Moira retorted, holding back a similar desperation.
Lyssa looked at Moira curiously. She could tell something intense was bubbling just beneath the surface. “What do you mean?”
“I… I saw my brother drifting away and I didn’t speak up, I should have seen what was to come! I have also failed Lyssa… and yet I choose to stand against that failure and if given the chance to do the right thing, I will always endeavor to do so.”
Lyssa was captivated by this leaking vulnerability, despite Moira’s best efforts to keep up appearances. She could hear the trembling in Moira’s voice as she spoke briefly of her brother. Before Lyssa could pry deeper, she heard the rustling of armor and familiar jovial laughter approach them. Almost instantly, Moira stiffened up, straightened her shoulders a bit and put back up her veneer of confidence to welcome Vetnik and Trisoll back from their bar hopping. Lyssa let Moira have a moment with the boys and watched her greet Vetnik with a soft kiss on his cheek and oblige Trisoll’s ramblings with an almost believable enthusiasm.

Thom soon returns with a brilliant blue cloak inlayed with a pattern of four metal stars. Lyssa offers to cast detect magic over it and uncovers that the cloak itself is unremarkable, but the stars its embroidered with radiate powerful magic. Several minutes later, Grunt sneaks back to join the group with jewelry and without Grum. He shows off his haul but Thom wonders where his brother is. Grunt tells the party that Grum is at the baths and may be a while. While waiting on Grum, Thom memorizes and casts identify over the stolen garment and finds out that it’s a cloak of the stars!

After finishing an intense session, Grum and Cerus prepare to check out from the bathhouse but not before Cerus finds out his items have been taken. Grum gives him false consolation that seems to woo Cerus. They part ways and before meeting back with the rest of the party, Grunt stops at the bazaar where he buys and sends Cerus flowers and a new fire opal ring.

After leaving Willip, the party travel along a tributary deeper into Furyondy…

As the party continued down the quiet woodland road, the clusters of trees began to thin as they neared the tributary that cut through it. Near one particular clearing, they could hear the rustling of stumbling steps against fallen leaves and grass. Suddenly, Grum spied a shape unsteadily moving through the forest. He pulled his horse to a halt – a signal to the others to do the same – and watched as the figure emerged. In the distance he saw it: a young woman of tall and slender frame drabbed completely in white robes embroidered with the symbol of the cudgel. A more disturbing detail troubled Grum though. The robes, as well as the hands and face, of the mysterious woman were covered in what appeared to be fresh blood.

She appeared to be without weapons of her own. The party watched from the safety of the main road as she stumbled down towards the riverbank as if in a daze. From what Grum could tell the woman bore no wounds of her own either but he could not be certain from the road. He waved to Grunt and the pair slid down from their horses to get a closer look while the others waited and watched. The pair of thieves took opposite sides as they sneaked down towards the riverbank, both careful in each step as not to alert her. Grum was first to reach her and once behind her he lingered there in the shade of nearby trees. As he waited, he could hear the woman mutter something over and over to herself as she scrubbed her hands clean in the silty water.

“Such a waste. Such a waste.”

Neither her voice nor her washing could be described as panicked though. Rather, there was a languid quality to both. He motioned to Grunt to move back up to the main road. Grunt obliged and sneaked off ahead of his master. Grum stood and watched her for a few moments more before following Grunt. Watched and waited for some kind of change in demeanor from the woman. Whatever daze this woman was in seemed to disturb Grum even more now that he’d seen it up close.

Back on the road, Grum reported his findings to the others.

“Is this woman in any kind of danger? Does she need assistance?” M
“She doesn’t seem to be in her right mind.” Grum
“She could need our help. Vetnik?” M
“It’s possible but—“ Grum
“Moira and I will go check it out, the rest of you stay in reserve.” Vet
“Well what if she’s the one who did something bad?” Gr
“Well, she could be just another one of those… seers. Like the one we met outside of Blackmoor.” Ve
“Oh, you mean like that insane haruspex who assaulted me? Have fun.” Lys

Vetnik and Moira ride down to the tributary and as they near the woman, the sound of their horses and clanging metal armor alerts the woman to their presence. She stops washing her hands in the river and turns to greet the knights.

“You seem quite distraught,” Vetnik commented.
“I am. A madness came over my poor sisters!” The woman replied as she stood to reveal the magnitude of the filth that soiled her once crisp, white robes.
“Your sisters?” Vetnik continued.
“Yes, yes. We are all acolytes, humble billets in His service. We have a convent just down this path.”
“Who do you serve?”
Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel.”
“Is this the blood of your sisters?”
“It is,” the woman revealed before hanging her head in mourning. After taking a moment to compose herself, she looked up to Moira and extended her hand to her. “Paladin, will you come and help me consecrate them, my sisters?”
“Yes, of course.” Moira replied without hesitation, taking the woman’s still-damp hand into hers. The woman’s face collapsed in an expression of desperate relief. She turned to Vetnik once more.
“And you cavalier? You are strong! Will you help me lay my sisters to rest, help me to bury them?”
“Yes,” Vetnik answered back, briefly glancing at Moira. “Absolutely, but you must tell us about this madness that overcame your sisters.”
The woman’s mouth tightened as she nodded her head obligingly. She let go of Moira’s hand and began to lead the party down the beaten path that ran along the river and deeper into the woods. The forest had an eerie calm to it, accented by sparse sound of leaves crushed beneath the party’s feet and the droning chirp of insects.
“We have worshipped together for years in peace but not too long ago their passion for Saint Cuthbert seemed to wane out of nowhere. They no longer did their duties with the same amount of devotion and vigor they once had. They seemed to care more about their own vain desires. Then—“ the woman cut herself off from speaking further as they continued deeper down the trail.
“Then what?” Vetnik asked. The woman said nothing at first as if trying to concentrate on the path ahead. With the main road further enough behind them and no longer visible, she continued.
“They began to say things. Things about me! Vicious, wicked lies!”
Vetnik noticed the woman’s temperament turn increasingly more erratic as she continued on about the events leading up to the death of her sisters. He softly jerked his reigns and steered his horse ahead of Moira’s at the very front of the pack.
“Sounds cruel to me.”
“It was! They were! The most awful things were said too.”
“How much further is the convent?”
“Just right up the road. Anyway, their true intentions soon began to show and I knew they were conspiring against me!”
“How did they die?”

Just as Vetnik asked his question, the woman stopped at what appeared to be the end of the path. There the party could see the open yard in front of a humble convent surrounded by trees. In the yard there lay a single wooden totem, a carving of a man’s arm holding the cudgel of St. Cuthbert upright. Now it lay in a patch of untamed grass. The air was crisp and as the breeze blew through, it carried with it the scent of recent death.
“They were murdered,” the woman flatly said with her back turned to the party.
“How do you know they were murdered?” Vetnik asked as he slyly slid his hand down towards the guard of his longsword. Moira watched Vetnik and knew something was afoot. She motioned to those in the party behind her to ready themselves before she carefully began to slide down off her mount. The woman’s throat began to hum with a low buzzing sound like a chorus of locusts. She spoke once more, her voice now cold and accented by the strange cacophonous sounds. “Because…” Vetnik and Moira took sudden notice of the woman’s back. Her torso began to jerk and torque while her limbs and head remained perfectly still. “Because I fucking killed them myself!”

The woman whipped her head around and the party watched as her long brown hair coiled together and quickly hardened into a crown of twisting, pointed horns. Massive wings covered in deep crimson feathers exploded from her back and tore away her blood-and-mud soaked robes to reveal a statuesque nude body covered in rows of ever-emerging spines, spikes, and wiry feathers. Despite these changes, the creature’s face still carried the beauty and allure of a comely human. Moira’s studies in the church had taught her legends of such disturbing and lascivious creatures. Rumored to be fallen angels themselves, what stood before them was a lesser demon of a most ancient order.

Erinyes!” Moira snarled as she prepared to charge the demon.

Before she drew her blade, Trisoll pushed his ways towards the front line behind Moira and Vetnik.

“In Trithereon’s name, I cast you back into the Abyss,” Trisoll commanded with the holy triskelion of his patron raised high into the air for all to see!

Despite this bravado, Trisoll felt no blessing surge from the medallion down through his body. The erinyes cackled at the priest’s empty commands but Moira was quick to silence her. Moira drew Starstrike and swiftly dragged the blade across the erinyes’ belly. The winged beast fluttered back just enough to avoid the blade’s deepest cut and she looked to Moira, her fanged jaw clinched together as her lips twisted from demented smile to offended grimace. In return, the erinyes flapped her mighty crimson wings and released a gust of wind that blew throughout the yard and past the party. The gust kicked up loose dirt and leaves but more sinister than that was the spell the gust carried. Vetnik and Moira turned to see Trisoll’s expression descend into absolute fright. He quickly tucked his holy symbol back under his tunic and clawed his way past the knights and away from the convent. As they watched Trisoll flee, the party also watched as Lyssa spurred her horse into action to retreat away from the clearing. Vetnik’s hair began to stand on end and he shuttered as he felt a sudden presence press against his mind. He drew his sword and spun back around to see the erinyes’ gaze focused squarely on him. He furrowed his brow and watched as the erinyes began to furrow hers in concentration. Vetnik’s barbarian mind proved to be not such a simple place. Moments later, the erinyes felt herself expelled from inside of his head. The erinyes screeched in disgust, offended that a mere mortal could resist her charm. Vetnik stared the fiend down with a smirk that only seemed to anger the fiend more. Before the erinyes could strike out at the knight, a duo of thin, silver rays of light zipped across the yard towards them. The erinyes flapped its winged and swatted away the rays that, once hit, fell to the ground as two long silver arrows. The erinyes looked back to see Grunt sitting atop his horse with his mysterious longbow drawn. He began to pull his arm back and she watched as thin wisps of glowing silver mercury came together to form not only the string but also the arrows themselves!

Vetnik rushed the seemingly distracted demon on horseback but found that the erinyes was not only more alert than he anticipated, but that she was also most nimble. Despite his strength and speed Vetnik struggled to get a beat on her as she almost mockingly leaped out of range. Vetnik jumped down off of his horse and just as she stepped into range, Grum jumped into action bearing both Lyn and Slå: the lightning strike daggers! Grum slashed at the erinyes with Lyn and watched with amazement as she bended back and ducked beneath his swing effortlessly. Little did the demon realize that Grum had stunning reflexes of his own! Before rising back upright, Grum lifted Slå into the air and drove the electrically-charged blade deep into her left thigh. The erinyes shot straight back up and met face-to-mask with the thief, whose blade sizzled as it sent jolts of electric energy through the stab wound. Grum quickly withdrew his blade and tumbled backwards to escape her and watched as ink-black blood slowly ebbed from the wound down her leg. With the erinyes wounded and distracted, Moira took a chance and brought Starstrike down upon the very same leg Grum had pierced. Her blade collided with the erinyes’ scaly thigh upon the very wound Grum had left. Moira struggled to tear the blade out of the erinyes’ leg and watched as the fiend wailed while tearing its own leg from the sword. Before the erinyes could attack Moira, another round of Grunt’s radiant arrows zipped through the air in rapid succession. The first of the arrows completely missed but the second found a home and lodged itself in the bulky tendon of her wing. Thom leaped in once more with his silver-edged katana and slashed furiously at her, but the erinyes shrugged off the bard’s attacks with a flap of her wounded wing. Just as Thom prepared himself for a second attack, he watched as the erinyes spread her wings wide open to face Moira, woman to woman. Even Thom marveled at the sight, but only briefly, when the look he saw in the demon’s eyes shook him. The erinyes’ fiery eyes were suddenly flooded with a blackness that Thom himself recalled.

“Moira, look away!” Thom cried out.

Moira turned to Vetnik and gone were her pristine amber eyes, replaced by orbs of black void. As the paladin drew her blade, ready to charge her barbarian companion, the erinyes’ body quickly dissolved from sight. Thom knew this trick all to well as he often played it himself. With a single, confident wave of his hand, an arc of shimmering golden particles appeared in the air above those battling in front of him. He clenched his fist and watched as the golden arc shattered into millions of tiny specks of glitterdust. The sparkling particles rained down upon Moira and Vetnik, and outlined the invisible fiend. The party watched as Moira staggered back, wildly rubbing her face with one hand while doing her best to balance Starstrike with the other. Before Vetnik could reach out for Moira, he saw the shape of the erinyes covered in glitterdust. He watched as she flapped her wings in a vain attempt to blow the golden dust off of her body and away from the battlefield. Vetnik quickly maneuvered around the blinded Moira and, with his longsword drawn, he swiped at the gold-speckled shape. With the first swing he could feel the blade drag and cut against the erinyes’ flesh but it was with the second where he felt his blade sink deep into the unseen thickness of the demon’s body. Vetnik watched the glittering silhouette of the erinyes struggle to pull her body from off of the end of his blade. He quickly glanced at Moira and saw her continue to struggle to regain her sight while swinging Starstrike flimsily and frantically like some cornered beast. With one mighty thrust, Vetnik ripped his sword up through the torso of the wounded demon. As his blade tore through the erinyes’ shoulder, her bifurcated body instantly returned to the visible plane with a geyser of thick, black demon’s blood. Her corpse dropped to the ground, motionless and still covered in golden glitter.

Lyssa and Trisoll stopped in their respective tracks and felt sudden relief from the fear that plagued them. Both of their minds were calm once again. They turned around and looked at each other before looking down the path to the yard of the convent where the others remained. The demon’s fear spell had left them both in quite a state, so much so that the pair realized they were almost back to the main road! Lyssa grumbled and motioned for Trisoll to ride back together to join the others on her horse. Vetnik shook what blood he could off of his sword and spit in disgust at the erinyes’ wretched body. He looked around and saw the Black brothers and Grunt putting away their weapons as well. He then sheathed his blade before rushing to Moira’s side. As he placed his hand upon her shoulder, she snatched her arm away and continued to wipe her face more frantically than before. Vetnik stood back and watched Moira stumble towards the convent’s front doors. It was clear she was overwhelmed and as her companion, knew when he needed to back away. She had not only failed to slay the erinyes, but became its servant in attempting to do so. Though enslaved only briefly, the erinyes’ charm had slithered and burrowed its way through every private avenue in her mind and left behind an unholy, stagnant black trail that Moira found difficult to shake. Moira drug her sword against the beaten dirt path leading up to the doors of the convent. Her back remained turned to the others as she moved closer to the convent, her eyes red with irritation from the glitterdust. The others gathered themselves together and watched Moira stumble ahead. Though the erinyes had been slain, the aura of evil it left behind clung to the the convent grounds that felt like tiny pins shooting up Moira’s nervous system. Moira pushed the chantry door open without prior warning; in her heart, she already knew what was waiting for her behind the doors of the hallowed building. Death waited in all of its grizzly and uncompromising detail. Scattered on the floor and in between the pews were the bodies of nine of Cuthbert’s faithful daughters. Trails of blood from each body made chaotic and unreasonable designs from the floorboards, up the walls, all the way up to the ceiling of the chantry. Moira stood in the doorway and began to buckle under the weight of not only the horrid sights before her, but also the events leading up to her journey to Furyondy. To contain herself, she quickly clasped her gauntleted hand over her mouth as tears began to flood her quivering cheeks. She did her best to steady her panicked breathing but could no longer contain herself as she’d been trained to do. Her body was limp and made no effort to move aside as a pair of unseen servants summoned by Thom pushed past her to tend to the dead.

“We… we avenged you sisters,” Moira began to pray, sobbing through her rites. “May… may… Cortox… may He guide you safely from this plane and may Cuthbert welcome you to his kingdom with open and loving arms.”



Lyssa petitions to keep the gems found in their raids in exchange for a reduced share of the loot.

Dagger (3) – Lyssa
Wooden scale armor (human/half elf) – Trisoll
Hammer (
2) – sell
Sword (1 longsword) – Grunt
Extremely lightweight platemail (
2 Elven plate mail) – Grum
Sword (4 longsword) – Vetnik
Full plate armor (
1) – Moira

As Thom relearns his identify spells, Kling-taa returns in Halfling form and informs them that he claims the coin as his own and that everything else is there’s to keep. Moira recalls that copper dragons are notoriously greedy dragons.

Lyssa raids the corpse of the blue dragon. She sees the heart has been torn out and is resting several yards away, dissolving in a bubbling pool of cooling acid. Lyssa searches for the blue dragon’s lightning gullet but it’s been destroyed by Kling-taa. She collects a couple scales, a piece of tongue, wing leather, and dragon’s blood. She asks Moira to help hack away the great horn on the dragon’s skull. As Moira saws off the horn, she looks at Lyssa and requests: “When things are calm, let us talk.”

Kling-taa transforms into a stone giant and scoops up all the coin he can. As he leaves the cave, he calls back and tells them “Know that you have a friend in Kling-taa.” Grunt hacks away at the corpse of a wyrmling to use its hide in the making of a helmet and blue dragon leather armor. Thom culls teeth and claws for use in making arrows and edge weapons.

Back in Casaille, Lyks and Burbis find themselves at the Cerzan compound. Lyks commands Burbis to scout ahead, much to his surprise. Burbis obliges, casting invisibility over himself and leaves. Burbis breaks into the compound and scopes out the first level of the house and moves upstairs on the second level. Downstairs, Lyks sees the reflection of shimmering lights. Lyks takes bird form and sees its Burbis casting a dancing lights spell to distract a group of guards. Lyks sees servants here and there coming and going about the compound. He hangs out hovering and after a few moments he sees Violetta leaving the compound with a basket of laundry. Burbis whispers to Lyks to come down.
“Violetta is here with the other servant girls, and four guards with three members of the Cerzan family (1 female 2 males).

Lyks returns to human, visible form and knocks on the front door. A servant girl answers.
“How may I help you?”
“May I speak with your masters, Lord Cerzan?”
“Who shall I announce you as?”
“Zemilay Lyks.”

The servant welcomes him inside after a few moments. He sees Violetta moving through the house among other servant girls. She is lost in her duties and completely ignores Zemilay. Lyks is led upstairs to Lord Corben’s quarters. The office is an example in luxury.

“Welcome to my home, Zemilay Lyks.”
“Good to meet you.”
“Likewise, such an accomplished man. I know very little of what’s transpired here.”
“I am here to inquire about procuring one of your servants.”
“I see. The one involved with the passing of my father?”
“As I understand, she has remanded herself into our family’s keep under her own will. Is that correct? You understand, I’ve lost a father here but I have also gained great wealth. So… appeal to me in some other way. Why should I grant this woman her freedom?”
“Name your price.”
“Do you offer a boon?”
“A boon paid by me is a most substantial thing. So, how can I help you?”
“I believe there is a way you can help me, if we can make the extraction of said servant in secret.”

Violetta is brought in. She is shocked to see Zemilay here.

“My show of good faith. Now, Mr. Baggleton, shall we discuss of this intrigue?”

“Why did you come for me? “
“Don’t worry, you’re safe. Trust me.”
“I can’t leave without the other girls. They’re my converts.”
“What makes you think we’re leaving without the other girls.”

Burbis finishes outlining his illusion for torturing Violetta for public spectacle. He finds the act distasteful but will do it because Lyks asks.

Violetta pleas for the release of the other girls. As they speak, Burbis puts Corben under a charm spell. Lyks motions to her to rush and get the other women. Burbis has tricked Corben into believing he’s been given a tremendous amount of money for all of the women. After a minute, Lyssa’s mother returns to the office with the other servant girls.

“You have to trust me and we have to move fast. Come, quickly!”

They shuffle out of the house. Lyks leaves his sack of pp and commands Burbis to cloak them in invisibility. Burbis throws down a bag of lead and casts fool’s gold over it. “We were never here!” Burbis whispers mischievously to Lord Corben before the pair leave to meet with the other women outside of the compound.

Lyks unfurls the magic rug much to the servant girls’ horror. “You have 10 seconds to decide. Come!”

The women cloister onto the magic rug with Violetta reassuring the women that they’ll be all right. Lyks throws sleep dust over them, knocking them out as he and Burbis lead the carpet into the air.

Back in the cave, they decide how to get out of Dagger Rock. Thom casts Spider Climb over Trisoll, who loves the effect, and skitters up the walls with Thom.
“Stop fooling around and get up there!” Vetnik yells up to Tris. Lyssa meets the boys at the surface using a dimension door. She hands off one of the scales to Thom who uses it as part of a pully system. After about 40 minutes, they’re at the mouth of the cave together. Outside, Thom and Lyssa’s familiars wait with their horses.

Lyks returns to Greyhawk and drops the former servants and Violetta off at the church. Violetta thanks him and promises them sanctuary. “Cortox’s blessing to you, Zemilay Lyks.”
Back at home, Lyks finds George on the floor drunk, his eyes red with tears.
“Did Mellisandre finally break up with you?”
“No… she’s dead!”
“Tell me what happened.” Lyks asks, picking him off the ground.
“Someone killed her. Where was she found?”
“Her house.”
“I… I never forget…her blood! Without her, no more potions for me. I’ll wither and die.”
“We’re going to get you to bed.”
“I want to die!”
Burbis looks crestfallen and puts his hat to his heart and watched Lyks cart George to his bedroom.

Burbis and Lyks visit Mellisandre’s home and find the words scrawled in blood: I NEVER FORGET. Burbis scraps a bit of blood onto a piece of cloth and places it into his satchel.
“Go see Xanti. Ask her to scry. I will be in touch with her, but I must visit the church of Beory.”

Lyks goes to the church of Beory to commune with the spirits in Greyhawk with 6 other priests of the church. Their prayers are strong but they feel powerful attempts to block them from divinating. Through a crack in the psychic block, Lyks gleans a familiar and wicked energy but he can’t quite place its origin. Zemilay rushes back to Pimpleton, where Xanti does as she’s asked and consults her crystal ball. “I felt something blocking—“
“You have to leave,” he says to her coldly.
“No… Nonono, I cannot! Not again!” Xanti protests, sobbing into her husband’s chest.
“You must!” Zemilay replies, trying to keep his stoic front.
“What about our boy?”
“He is a man now and makes his own decisions and can protect himself. But you… I have to protect.”
Xanti throws her arms around Lyks and sobs her love for him. Tearfully, Lyks puts his hand on her head and channels the image he scried. Xanti gets goosebumps as the dark sensations course from his brain to hers.
“You must go. Leave your crystal ball here.”
Xanti looks up and Zemilay wipes away the tears from her cheek. She leaves her scrying room to begin packing up her things. Once alone, Lyks looks upon her crystal ball and with his might staff, smashes the orb.

Lyks returns to his study where Burbis sneakily follows. Lyks sits at his desk and after riling through one of the locked drawers, he retrieves a small vial with a piece of burned, black flesh. Burbis covers his mouth in horror, knowing the frightful source of the skin.

Back in the Bright Lands, the party saddles up and sets out back to the Celadon Forest and Thorn’s Circle. Their journey through the desert is uneventful as they enter into the Gnatmarsh and deeper into the sylvan wood of the Celadon Forest. In the wood, Grum spies at least six Owlbears trudging their way.

Grunt slips off his horse and tucks into the shadows. He aims Hank for one of the Owlbears and sticks a bolt into its backside. Thom unleashes burning hands upon another of the owlbears, setting its feathery hide ablaze. It also sets nearby brush on fire and retreats from the pack. Grum shoots into the owlbear that Grunt attacked and in turn it tries to escape. Vetnik rushes into the pack and cuts into one of the owlbears. Trisoll blesses the party (all except for Grunt and Lyssa, who lie just outside the range of the blessing.) The owlbears take the offense and rush the party. One of the owlbears slash into Grum, hacking into his left leg. Another lunges at Grunt and claws into him. Two of the owlbears rush Vetnik; Vetnik dodges the first completely but the falls into the second’s slashing claws. Moira rushes to Grum’s aid and quickly lays hands upon his gored leg. Unable to get a clear view of any of the owlbears, Lyssa struggles to direct a row of magic missiles and as such releases two of them with weakened intensity.

Two of the owlbears leaves immediately. A second lashes out at Grum, who continues to bleed out. Moira struggles to protect and heal Grum and fend off the owlbear. Grunt’s owlbear continues to slash into him. The pair of owlbears on Vetnik continue to slash into him. Moira slashes into Grum’s attacker and sticks it just enough to slay it. Grunt aims his blade for the owlbear’s soft belly but misses. With his attacker slayed, Grum quickly binds his wounded leg to stop the bleeding. Vetnik swings and cuts into both his attackers. Lyssa attempts to cast telekinesis but instead is flooded by a wild surge. Suddenly, she sees nothing in front of her. Behind her see hears the sounds of battle. She turns around to see her companions fending off the owlbears (she was turned 180degrees). Thom drums while Trisoll rushes in to heal Grum futher.
Grum supports Vetnik by firing a pair of arrows into the owlbear engaged in battle with him. Both attempts miss. Trusting the Vetnik can handle himself, Moira bolts towards Grunt’s attacker and stabs it in the back with Starstrike. Despite the blow, the owlbear gets one last strike, causing Grunt to black out from the attack.
“I need aid!” Moira cries out.
Before Vetnik can react, his attacker swipes at him again. Thom rushes up to Grum and the pair fire off arrows back to back. Trisoll runs around to Grunt and blesses him with a heal prayer, bringing him back from the brink. Full of frustration, Lyssa casts telekinesis successfully on the owlbear attacking Vetnik and flings it 300 ft away from the cavalier. Vetnik nods thank you and rushes across the field and stabs into the last owlbear and fells it. Its corpse slumps down beside Grunt, Trisoll and Moira. Trisoll staggers back to his feet and gives a second healing blessing to Grum. Thom pats Grum on the back and reups his armor spell.

They forgo camp to ride straight to Thorn’s Circle. Melinore greets them after 2 days where she asks Beory’s blessing to heal Grum and Grunt (and Vetnik, though he’s reluctant.) “Thank you, m’lady.” He says with a stiff upper lip.
Melinore shows them back to the Ways of the World, where Trisoll opens up the portal with his ring. Vetnik steps in first followed by Grunt. Grum and Thom follow. Trisoll follows. Before stepping through, Moira places her hand on Lyssa’s shoulder and guides her through. Moira is the last to enter and together they are back in Greyhawk inside the Church of Beory.

“We should go back to the manor and check on Lyks.” Moira suggests.

After a 20 minute walk, they’re greeted by a tearful Xanti. She looks at Trisoll. “Mother, what’s wrong?”
She grabs him and holds him. Vetnik steps through and heads to see Lyks in the study. Moira follows then the Black bros, Lyssa and Grunt.

Lyks sits everyone down, his disposition even more abrasive than usual. He and Xanti enter the study, both emotional.

“Where is George?” Moira.
“George has taken a leave of absence.” Zemilay. “George’s lover, Mellisandre has passed.”
“That’s awful. Poor George.”
“It was no accident. It was murder.”
“Who?” Thom. “Was this a guild attack? How was she killed?”
“Her throat was slit and a message was left in her blood.”
“She was an accomplished mage. How could—“
“A long time ago she helped us. I promised her safety, but it was a promise I apparently could not keep.”
Moira draws a sharp breath. Vetnik grabs her hand and squeezes it.
“Kr’zzt is coming for us.”
“What was the message that was left in her home?” Lyssa
“I never forget.” Lyks

“Is that why mother has to leave?” Tri
“Yes. I’d send you away too but you’re too stubborn.” Zem
“Well, father. We’ll end this. Once and for all. No more living in fear, for any of us!” Trisoll says with false bravado.

“Lyks, my father still has his jaw. It’s how I know of his story.”
“Contact your father. We must keep the last remains of him safe.”
“Do we have a plan?” Th
“I’ve been slowly ruminating plans for years and years—“
“Kr’zzt killed my grandfather.” Moira says tearfully. “I know the stories. We have to stop him! We have to find my brother and redeem him! We have to find Barth.”
“Trust nothing and no one.”
“I have to go see my father!”

The party parts ways. Vetnik stays with Trisoll at the manor. As the party begins to part ways, Lyssa pulls Zemilay aside and asks about Violetta. He tells her that Violetta is safe at the church.
“What may I do for you at this hour?”
“Violetta, is she here?”
“Sister Violetta is resting. “

The attendant welcomes her inside and Violetta comes. “Your friends are wonderful. Not just me but my new sisters as well. I’m so happy you’re not imprisoned. I know … I understand why you did what you did and you’ll find forgiveness in the next life. I have certainly already forgiven you. It is not my place to judge.”
“But do you think what I did was wrong.”
“Yes. But as my daughter, I love you unconditionally.”
Lyssa awkwardly says goodbye to her mother and leaves her at the church.

Later that night, Moira has an all too vivid night terror, a dream of the five original children stumbling upon a small silver disc. The disc is the source of a luminescent rip in the fabric of space. Moria’s brother Barth lets curiosity get the better of him and bravely steps forward, disappearing in a flash of light. Young Moira charges after her brother, calling out his name, followed by the rest of the children. There on a twisted plateau she sees a wizard. A furious battle is underway between the mage and a shadowed foe. The movement of the children distracts the thaumaturge and he turns away from his opponent to shout a warning. The warning is cut short however as a mammoth fireball immolates the wizard. The children, consumed by terror, dash towards the portal they entered. Barth hurries the Black twins, Trisoll and his sister through the shimmering tear in the air before finally making his way through. He pauses as he exits and looks back, his gaze meeting that of the unknown nemesis. Barth’s eyes grow wide as he cannonballs through the rift and hits the ground in a barrel roll before righting himself. The other children are a small distance away and the young Steelshaper takes this unseen opportunity to snatch up the silver disc from the meadow and secret it away in a small pouch.

Moira slowly realizes her dream is actually a recalled memory. She starts to think back to the times Barth seemed distant after that, distracted even. The bond of siblings never the same going forward. The pieces begin to fall into place as Moira feels an unspeakable thought take purchase in her body’s center, her muscles beginning to spasm in horrific realization. Her brother’s imaginary friend “Zee zee” could only be their parents’ most formidable foe, the one who had vowed their utter destruction. Kr’zzt, the dread drow wizard was the one guiding him into the darkness.

Bolt from the Blue


It had been a week since the city of Greyhawk was abuzz with the trial of Lyssa of Bayerton and the murder of one of the city’s patriarchs: Lord Seron of House Cerzan. Despite this though, life went on in the city. Lyssa had heeded the advice of her friends and mentors and kept to herself. She withdrew herself from Greyhawk by day, only occasionally venturing out under the cover of night for lonesome walks through the city, careful to avoid the judgmental glare of fellow townsfolk. Elswhere, her mother, Violetta, was well on her way to Casaille to serve her sentence as indentured servant to the Cerzans at their lumber trading post a week’s time away from Greyhawk. Despite her growing power, Lyssa heeded the initial advice of her companions to wait and let cooler heads prevail. Any reckless action taken upon the affluent house to retrieve her mother would certainly be scrutinized and bring even more pressure down upon not only Lyssa but her friends and their dealings as well. So, she waited, occasionally gazing into her hand-me-down crystal ball, unable to focus enough to dissect the murky visions of things that were, are, and have yet to be.

The party had not been together in total since the trial. A certain hesitation seemed to hover over them as a whole, and so, they divided their time among their own pursuits. Most of the party had sanctuaries and secret lairs to build and kept themselves distracted accordingly. Moira had noticed a certain lack of morale among her own workers since Violetta’s departure, something she too seemed affected by. Trisoll spent the week building his own sanctuary in the woods among his animal helpers, and while he appreciated their help and companionship, it did make him pine for the camaraderie of his humanoid friends. Despite having a more intimate companion in Melina, Thom felt the itch of adventure nag at him once more. That itch was only irritated further by the rumors that seemed cross he and Melina’s paths over the week. One in particular piqued his interest: it told of a treasure trove in a land recently visited, the Bright Lands. There, in a carved out cave called Dagger Rock, there was said to be old Blue Dragon that guarded a modest yet potent hoard of treasures!

After a week’s time the party rendezvoused at Pimpleton Manor to partake in a family style meal as they’d done many a time in the months they’d spent together. Those in the party who lived elsewhere poured into the house one by one, greeted by Vetnik and Burbis. Moira entered, greeting the ice barbarian with a soft and quick kiss upon the cheek. Grunt and Grum entered both reeking of a hard day’s work, having both spent the day toiling in the marsh land digging out the last of the earth for Grum’s bunker. Once almost entirely assembled, the party caught up with each other over tea and light-hearted conversation. The last to enter was Lyssa, who’d made good use of her ability to teleport as to avoid facing the people of Greyhawk. The reception to greet the introverted mage was much the same as it had always been, and for the first time in a week, Lyssa felt the warmth of something familiar. In the kitchen, George baked and boiled the night away on yet another one of his infamously elaborate dinners.

Xanti and Burbis (to a much lesser extent) set the table while Zemilay hobbled from out of his study to greet his younger charges. As the party gathered in the dining room, Grum pulled Lyssa aside.

“I just wanted to let you know I got word about your mother.”
Lyssa looked to him, silently furrowing her brow in tense anticipation.
“I sent Marit and a couple of scouts to follow her caravan to Casaille. It looks like she’s safe. She’s being treated well, well fed. She’s even converted most of the servant girls to Cortox if you can believe it.”
“I can,” she replied, her eyes darting back and forth between him and the others. “What else?”
“She… she is working though. The Cerzans have not spared her that.”
Lyssa’s sighed as she wiped the hair away from her face. She held onto Grum’s arm for a moment, a show of unspoken thanks before lumbering to her seat at the dining table.

Lyssa and Grum entered the dining room as Thom held court with the others about a couple of salacious rumors circulating through the seedier currents of town. “The town’s apparently overrun by orcs! More intriguing than that though is what I heard lurks back in the Bright Lands.”
“Weren’t we just there?”
“Correct, brother! However, deeper in the desert there’s a small cave called Dagger Rock.

“I have to go to Casaille,” Lyssa interjected. “I’m not asking any of you to come with me. This is just something I have to do.”

She asks the others not to come, but Grum insists.

Zemilay reveals that he is willing to purchase her back.

“What if what they want is?”
“Everyone has a price.”

A week after the trial, the party gather themselves together for another adventure. They organize a partnership with Raven’s Claw contacts to check on the town overrun by orcs while they prepare to head back to the Bright Lands to find Dagger Rock.

“Vetnik, send word to whomever you can from Raven’s Claw and tell them of the orc infestation in (VILLAGE NAME). The rest of us will ride to the Bright Lands. Lyssa, come with us. I can guarantee there’s no better vent of frustration than the chance to slay a dragon.”

Lyks and Burbis travel to Casaille to pay for Violetta’s freedom, taking to the air via Snowflake with platinum and a magic rug. 800pp.

The rest of the party sets off to visit the Bright Lands. Trisoll finds a Way of the World in the Celadon Forest, north of the desert lands. They take the Way from the Church of Beory to Thorn Circle, 5 days ride from the desert.

The emerge and are met by a gorgeous Elven attendant whose taken aback by the lack of a druid. She stands guard as Trisoll and the others emerge, but she relaxes seeing his dopey posture and gait.

“Hello stranger, who are you to come through the great Thorn Circle?”
“Humble students of Grandmaster Zemilay Lyks.”
“Druid of Greyhawk?”
“He’s my dad!”
She smiles and nods at him. “You must be a wonderful man. I am Melinore Silverleaf. The Council of the Thorn is not in congress at this time, but please feel free to use the grounds to your need. The lands are bountiful.”
Thom tries to woo Melinore but she seems unimpressed and is more taken with Trisoll.

She calls her horse, a unicorn named Selern to accompany the party safely to the edge of the forest. Thom continues to flirt, which she is more taken with. After racing to the edge of the forest, a woman’s shriek cuts through the calm of the forest. Vetnik rides ahead with the others following after.

“Sir knight! My child was taken by a goblin. He was taken into the cave, but I dare not enter.”

The company takes marching order into the cave with the knights at the front. The cave is moist, humid and damp. Moss and fungus run rampant. As they wave their torches, they see the glistening of green slime dangling from the ceiling across from them. Thom approaches and casts Burning Hands over it. Melinore sets her staff ablaze while Grum searches for traps and finds/dismantles a crude spear trap. Thom and Melinore work to burn it from the cave wall.

Moira takes the lead and rushes further into the cave. She spies a decline, and asks Grum and Grunt to scout ahead. Clinging inside, they travel deeper and encounter a nest of giant centipedes. Melinore casts Repel Insects. Further past the corridor, they hear the sound of a crying boy followed by metal scraping against metal and the mawing of a goblin. Grum moves forward but he kicks a rock, taking the attention of the knife-wielding goblin. Grum steps out of the shadows and leaps to attack, but misses just barely. Before the goblin can retaliate, Vetnik steps in and cuts him down with his longsword. Melinore gives Vetnik the child and together they leave the cave.

After handing off the child, Melinore leads the team to the edge of the woods. As the lush green fade to dusty, arid lands, Thom calls out to nature in search of a Familiar of his own. In the desert, he finds a buzzard, and names it Spitfire. A half a days travel in the desert, they hear a struggle between a group of beings. Grum and Grunt scout ahead silently. Over the hill they see a brilliant copper metallic Dragon being bound by orcs and bugbears trying to subdue it. Grum leaps in with Lyn and sticks a bugbear. While he dies, Grunt jams his short sword into a nearby bugbear – while not killing it, severly wounds it.

Vetnik charges in on horseback and finishes Grunt’s attack and follows up with a shield bash to a nearby orc. With one bugbear remaining, the orcs take action. The dragon urges freedom! Moira slays the last bugbear and calls out to the orcs: “Your masters are dead! You will follow if you stay!” Grum attempts to take an orc down but falls to the cracked earth. Despite this fumble, the orcs flee the battlefield.

Copper dragon Kling-taa shrinks down into the form of a handsome Halfling with copper eyes.

Down in the cave, the scouts and Kling-taa navigate through the carved out tunnels. They stumble upon an Otyugh digging through dragon shit. Grum quickly draws his longbow and while his first arrow misses, the second destroys its right leg. Thom leaps down with his Wakashazi and kitana in hand but both miss. Lyssa swings behind the Otyugh and immolates it with a burst of Burning Hands. As the beasts cries out in pain, Trisoll casts Spikestone and turns the earth beneath the beast into jagged spears of stone. Kling-ta turns the ceiling above into mud and rains wet earth on top of it.

Before moving on, Trisoll prays for Protection from Lightning and bestows the blessing on Vetnik. Lyssa casts Chaos Shield on herself. Thom enchants his katana blade and casts strength over himself and his brother. He casts invisibility on Grunt and together the party moves on to the chamber of the blue dragon.

Grum peeks inside the blue dragon’s chamber. A voice calls out to warn them but they see nothing.

Suddenly, those with exposed hair in the party could feel it begin to stand on end. The air in the chamber sizzled with electric energy, causing the flesh of the party to tingle. Vetnik quickly unsheathed his shield and together they stood, back-to-back, ready for the creature lurking in the darkness. Trisoll gripped his holy symbol tight to his chest and began to pray to Trithereon. As Trisoll uttered the final word in his incantation, his body was swathed in an invisible cloak of bravery. It was at that very same moment when those in the party could hear the buzzing of electricity echo through the chamber. Vetnik turned and could see a faint blue glow at the end of the chamber, but before he could react, the blue glow bolted straight towards them with a terrifying screech. The party braved themselves as a fearsome sight emerged out of the darkness and into their torchlight.

The beast was long and covered in rows and rows of shimmering blue scales. Crowned with a horn that resembled a small mountaintop charged with a bolt of lightning, its head and neck were covered in spiked, scaly ridges that crackled with static energy. This was a blue dragon of legend, and judging by its size and brilliant scaly decorations, this beast in particular was quite aged. The party rallied behind Vetnik as the blue dragon reared its scaly face. As it opened its mouth to reveal jaws laced with massive fangs, Vetnik could see the same crackling blue glow fill the blue dragon’s throat.
“Get behind me!” Vetnik called out to his friends out as the blue dragon arched its neck back. From behind the safety of his shield, Vetnik watched as the skin beneath the scales of the blue dragon’s throat burned blue as it flooded with electrical energy. The blue dragon released its terrifying breath of pure lightning with a great and horrifying roar! The once-dark chamber lit up with the blue glow of his breath. The party gathered behind Vetnik as best as they could, but the overwhelming power of the dragon’s lightning breath splintered off his shield and rained down around them, burning and striking them wherever possible. Grum quickly drew his daggers, Lyn and Slå, and raised them carefully into the air in hopes of attracting some of the dragon’s electrical breath. His gambit paid off as veins of lightning coursed into the blades, charging them up beyond capacity.
“Aghhhhh!” Grum howled as the daggers burned with electricity, heating the metal almost to the point of injury.
Vetnik gritted his teeth as his shield absorbed the brunt of the blast. He and Trisoll thanked Trithereon silently and separately for having blessed him with a well-timed protection against lightning.

Kling-taa steps forward and shifts back into his dragon form and physically begins to tear into the dragon. Vetnik gets his bearings and cuts into it with his longsword but misses. As Kling-taa moves the blue dragon out of the way, he reveals a blue dragon brood that begins to rush the party. Trisoll is the first to get shocked by the hatchling but he saves. Grum is the second target but he is less fortunate. Vetnik is the third attacked but takes little damage. Grunt stumbles back to his feet, breaks his invisibility and tries to fire from Hank; first misses and the second barely lands. Lyssa watched as her companions fought off the wyrmlings while Kling-taa continued to struggle in claw-to-tooth combat against the roaring blue dragon. Lyssa began to gesture with her hands and focused on the ribbons of mystical energies floating throughout the cave. With a wave of her hand, Lyssa summoned into being a writhing aura of magical energy that snaked from her hands towards the blue dragon. She watched as the ribbon of energy coiled around the massive dragon’s body and flickered, changing the very field of possibility around the beast. Despite its movements, the blue dragon couldn’t seem to shake the ribbon of energy. Lyssa had successfully hexed her first dragon! Trisoll casts Pyrotechnics over the torches in the party and blinds two of the hatchlings. Thom rushes in to take on the blue dragon and stabs him with his katana for 9. Moira finishes off the round by swiping at a hatchling but misses.

Lyssa continued to focus her magicks on the giant blue dragon. She honed in on the ribbon of unlucky energy coiling around the dragon and with a sudden flick of her wrists, she watched as the ribbon tightened itself around the body of the blue dragon and washed over him, engulfing him in an aura of paralyzation. Kling-taa was quite familiar with the effects of a hold monster spell and took the opportunity to sink his jaws into the throat of his held opponent. The blue dragon was barely able to wince as Kling-taa tore into his neck, shredding through lapis-colored scales and drawing blood that seemed to have a faint, electrical glow coursing through it.

Trisoll casts a blessing over the party, followed by a couple more bolts from Grunt. He attacks and his first arrow lands. His second attack misses and he stumbles. While the other two wyrmlings writhe blindly, the third lunges at Grunt and breathes its lightning breathe on him, almost killing him. A second wyrmling bites into Vetnik while the third claws at Trisoll, tearing into his torso. Thom continues to hack into the paralyzed blue dragon. Grum saves Grunt from a wyrmling, firing four arrows into it and slaying it. Seeing the paralyzed blue dragon, Vetnik rushes in to aid Thom. Moira continues to fight off the wyrmling and fends off Trisoll’s attacker, the first swing misses but the second cuts through its torso, disemboweling it.

Thom continues to hack into the blue dragon. Moira looks to Vetnik for direction, and he points her to the blue dragon. She charges at it but misses at first. The second strike pierces it. Lyssa fires a Lance of Disruption at both the hatchling and big blue. The wyrmling saves but the dragon cannot. Grunt slays the final wyrmling. Thom continues to slash at the dragon and is joined by both Grum and Vetnik. Grum is the first of the party to slay the dragon with a final arrow.

No longer held by Lyssa’s spell, the blue dragon’s battle-ravaged body buckled lifelessly to the ground, kicking up dirt and shaking the earth beneath the party’s feet. Kling-taa stood over the blue dragon’s body and let out a deep, throaty howl that echoed through every one of the caverns inside Dagger Rock. The party looked on as Kling-taa leaned his head down and began to lap up the still-warm blood of the fallen dragon with his long, coppery tongue.

“Everything,” Thom began cutting through the solemn silence, “every scale, every tooth, anything!” With their blades drawn, he and Lyssa moved towards the corpse of the blue dragon. Kling-taa lifted his head up and huffed as they sauntered forward.
“What are you doing?” the copper dragon asked, wiping the blood from his mouth. Thom paused and looked up at Kling-taa while Lyssa continued to move forward. “Show our fallen opponent some respect!” Lyssa straddled the gored throat of the blue dragon but paused as Thom and the copper dragon continued to speak.
“My apologies, Kling-taa. We mean no disrespect. If anything, we’d hate to let any piece of him go to waste!”
“Your attitude towards scavenging this pitiful corpse is quite unnerving.”
“We’re no different from the hyena or the vulture,” Thom began to reason. “His body’s no use to him now, we may as well put it to more… noble applications.”
Grum stepped forward, his weapons sheathed, and interjected in support of his brother. “Well to be honest Kling-taa, his body’s worth quite a lot to us. But, if you wish us to give you a moment, it’s the least we can do. We would never wish to disrespect either of you!”
Kling-taa scratched his scaly chin and pondered for a moment. “Very well. Allow me to commit his body to the grave. Then, after I have beseeched Cronepsis’ parting judgement, will it be yours to do with as you like.”
“Of course. Do what you need to do, my companions and I will search the rest of the cave while you pay your respects.” Thom and Grum concede to Kling-taa’s wishes and together they and Lyssa leave the body of the blue dragon to sack the chamber.

Meanwhile, Moira looked over her party and saw one of them not present at the body of the blue dragon. Moira looked back and was startled when she saw her companion Grunt slumped against the side of the chamber. Moira broke away from the rest of the party and kneeled beside him.
“By Cortox, you’re hurt!”
“You’re perceptive,” Grunt joked back with a strained, scratchy voice.
Moira looked his body over and noticed the burns covering his skin and garb. Most atrocious of these burns is the one covering his face and neck, dealt to him by a wyrmlings’ vicious lightning breath. She slowly lifted his singed hood up over his head to reveal the patchwork of red and white blisters decorating his swollen face. Moira removed her gauntlets and placed her soft, milky hands upon the weeping wounds of his face and neck. She closed her eyes and softly began to pray for Cortox’s healing blessing. Even in the bowels of Dagger Rock, her pleas were answered. Grunt could slowly feel the fiery nerves of his face begin to calm as they regenerated underneath his flesh. The smoky aftertaste of dragon’s breath left his throat and lungs as the tight blistering flesh of his face and neck began to shrink and heal. Moira lifted her hands and, while burns and blisters still remained, Cortox had bestowed onto him a month’s worth of mending in only a minute’s time.

Trial and Errors


Upon returning to Greyhawk with the fallen assassin G’aldem M’lek in custody, the gate masters wave the party inside and heartily greet them. In the city square, they’re greeted with a different reception: a group of sixteen City Guard, four of whom are armed with strange metal rods with polished, clear orbs atop them. A familiar face steps to the front, the Captain of the Guard Garyn Waller:

“Lyssa of Bayerton. You are commanded to come with us. You are wanted for your connection in the murder of Lord Soren of House Cerzan.”

The party quickly surveys each other with shocked expressions.

“What did you do, Lyssa?!” Moira asks with wide and worried eyes. Lyssa looks back at her with concern.

Vetnik urges Captain Waller to reveal what grounds they have to charge his companion with such a heinous act. Captain Waller gives him a copy of the subpoena, signed off by both the Magistrate of Greyhawk, Certrian Gorven, as well as a priest from the church of St. Cuthbert, Garvin Bortheus, who also conducted an official scrying at the behest of both the city and House Cerzan. His divinations revealed details about her presence in his home at the time of his death.

As the guards approach to detain Lyssa, Thom began to protest on her behalf. He also used this time to get close enough to Lyssa, and with his Gourd of Travel in one hand he took hold of her arm with his other. Instead of the pair instantly teleporting away, the party as well as the guards, watched as one of the orbs of the staves flickered with a brilliant cyan light. Thom shook his gourd and noticed that all the seeds inside were accounted for. Before either could react, the guards rushed the party and tore Lyssa down from off of her horse and began to quickly bind her hands with rope. As she struggled and spat at the guards, Thom slipped through them and jumped to her side. Lyssa looked back to her companions (namely Moira) and silently pleaded for aid. Moira’s face was a study in disappointment, but despite her expression, calls down to her friends. “I will tell of your good deeds!”

For his interference, Thom is also apprehended. As a guard attempts to bind his hands, Thom uses a technique taught to him by his parents to twist his arms in such a subtle way that it prevents knots from being tied as tight as they ought to be. The party watches as the guards begin to drag Lyssa and Thom off. Captain Waller leaves Vetnik with a copy of the warrant and follows the rest of his company to the jails. On the way, Lyssa intentionally stumbles and falls to the ground. On the ground, she tries to tap into a spell but before she can release the magical energy, a second stave flares. The guards quickly swarm her, yank her up, and rush her to the jails. In the chaos, Thom uses the opportunity to pilfer a key from a nearby guard’s belt (unsure of what it unlocks).

“Until further notice, I am her counsel,” Thom informs Captain Waller.
“And you want to stay in a cell?”
“Well, until I get better counsel than myself.”

As Thom speaks to the Captain, Lyssa is quickly ushered off into a solitary cell made especially for those with magical abilities.

They free Thom, and he agrees to go counsel her alone.
“Do you have royal blood?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I know your father is a little harder to pin down, but does your mother come from any noble stock?”
“I mean… she. We are Ygranere.”
“I’ll press for trial by combat. Until then, disavow any wrongdoing. If that fails, we’ll improvise.” Thom discreetly palms Lyssa the key he lifted from the guard and takes his leave.

Outside, Grunt slips away from the rest of the party to inspect the jail in search of possible entrances and exits unknown to others. While he searches, Xoston probes the party from Greyhawk for their thoughts.
“Is your companion some kind of murderer?” Xoston asks.
“Honestly, I’m not sure.” Vetnik.
“Hm. Better she didn’t accept the badge of Raven’s Claw if she is. I am sorry to leave you in this terrible state but Boromis and I must be off with G’aldem to fulfill our contract. We can have shares delivered to a place of your choosing.” Xoston gives Vetnik a hearty and (hopefully) comforting handshake. He turns to bid the rest of the party goodbye and sees them in a less than hospitable state. He simply nods at them, giving them silent thanks. “Your names will be mentioned to the nobles of the region. Do we mention your companions name in light of this delicate matter?”
“Withhold it for now,” Grum commands.
“Is she going to get her share?” Vetnik asks, to which Xoston nods his head.
“Then withhold her name.”

Outside, Moira is sad. Vetnik urges them to go talk to Zemilay and Xanti Lyks, “maybe she can scry herself?”
“I’m going to consult a higher power. We will meet in the morning, to attend Lyssa’s arraignment.” Moira kisses him goodbye and with a heavy heart parts ways. Thom waits at the jail overnight to keep tabs on Lyssa’s detainment

At the Manor, Vetnik and Trisoll discuss the issue at hand.
“I hope it’s not what they said it was.”
“Me too.”
“My mom should be able to help us out if my dad can’t.”
“Nice new armor btw.”

They come home to find only Lyks, Xanti is out. Burbis greets them buzzing in his own annoying way. Trisoll calms him down.
“Remember when we used to practice listening, Burbis?” Tri
Trisoll occupies Burbis while Vetnik pushes ahead to see Zemilay in his study. Inside, he’s enjoying a drink with George. George stands and formally greets.
“It’s ok. Burbis let us in.”
“Bless you for taking his attention away from us!”
“Not to be rude, George, I am here on serious matter.”
“Well, then I will excuse myself.”
“No need, I appreciate your candor, George.” Ze “What’s going on? It’s rare of you to come to me like this.”
Vetnik explains the abridged version of the charges brought against Lyssa.
“She shouldn’t be too long, Master Talthraudii.” Geo
“Who was murdered?” Ze
“Lord Seron of House Cerzan. It all matches up with a timeline.”
Zemilay and Vetnik wait for Xanti for an hour and sees the look on the men’s faces. “What troubles you, my love?”
Vetnik and Zem informs her. “What can I do to help?”
“See what you can scry.”
Xanti goes off to her private scrying chamber in the nude and gleans quite a level of detail: time frame, place of murder, the murder itself. She struggles getting the time frame but sees the murder in vivid detail. She relays the detail to Zemilay and Vetnik. The pair of men go to the jail in the wee hours of the morning.

Grum waits with Thom and imagines what it’s like to cut loose like Lyssa. Thom, Grum, Grunt do both surveillance and protection.

Lyssa sits in solitary, mulling over her actions.

Zemilay is allowed audience. Vetnik + 3 guards. Lyssa hears the tap of Zem’s staff and Vetnik. Lyssa is quiet, only telling Lyks “I thought I was doing good.”

As the pair of men leave, Lyssa skids her stolen key across the floor. Vetnik picks it up and the pair head to Vortis’. First attempt to knock, no answer. Second attempt is answered by an agitated Vortis. “Oh, Vetnik! Why am I being awakened?” Vetnik hands him a cask of wine.
“Last year’s vintage was better, but thank you.”
“I’ll take that into consideration.”
“What does this key do?”
“How did you get this key? Did Lyssa manage to get this off a city guard? They need better training. It’s a door key, not a cuff key. There are several—why am I telling you this?”
Vortis asks Vetnik to leave the key, no questions asked. Vetnik denies his requests and says he’s going to give it to Moira. Vetnik bows and leaves for the church of Cortox. He leaves to have a drink at the Friendly Strangers. Though the cabaret is done, the bar is still open with Tic Toc working the room. He tells stories of the Heroes of Greyhawk, including Isygrad. He’s sullen, hearing tales of their heroism contrasted with the flaws of his own groups.

In the morning, the party meets at the court to see Lyssa’s arraignment. All of the party attend. Moira seeks out Vetnik for his strength and together they sit towards the front. Grunt sits on his own, unnoticed, while Trisoll sits in the back. The twins sit together. All spot throughout the crowd Cerzan family members, aristocrats. Violetta is in attendance as well, opposite the aisle from Moira. Zemilay stands in the back with Trisoll.

The magistrate enters and announces the case. The Cerzans puff up at the mention of themselves. Eldon testifies and recounts his encounter with Lyssa and Blackrazor. A priest of St. Cuthbert (Garven Bortheis) testifies against Lyssa after scrying.

Thom takes the stand as Lyssa’s counsel. “Is that all you have?” He pleads that her magic is Wild in nature, her intention might not have been to kill him! The crowd is not still swayed completely – though such a compelling and unique argument goes documented nonetheless!

The Cerzans take the stand next. Corbin, the new head of the family is too busy. The 2nd son, Stanak, gives a aristocratic yet charismatic speech about the loss of his father. “When I have wretched the estate from my brother’s control, I will do all in my power to ruin your house, witch!” Brianna takes one look at Lyssa and spits at her feet. Grigor steps up and addresses Stanak and argues his ability to better handle the estate. Catrin takes the stand and she looks at Lyssa and says “My father was everything to me! I hate you, I hate you for what you have done!” Lucien comes to Lyssa, dejected and sighing. “Why did you have to kill my father? I would have worked to change it had you only come to me.” Eldon cannot attend tending to Bayerton. He sends a letter detailing her aggression but also gives her props for retrieving wave. “Though she is possessed by a temper most dangerous, she did come through on her promise.” The youngest daughter, Loraleen, carrying a small toddler, unable to look at Lyssa. “My father… every feast day he would bring me treats from Jelee Rolls. We would spend every Sunday together… I don’t know how I’m going to get through.”
“Why did you kill my granddaddy?!” the toddler whines.

“Objection!” Thom cries out. “This isn’t a court case, this is a sentencing! Nothing has been prove yet!”

“Who is here to speak on the behalf of the accused?” magistrate asks. Moira and Grum stand up at the same time. Trisoll steps forward from the back wall. Grum slides down, seeing the crowd’s reaction to Moira.

“I have known Lyssa of Bayerton for many months. I have seen a woman possessed of an anger and a leaning towards evil. It disturbed me but I reached out to her. I have seen her turn from that path.”

Moira’s charisma shifts the morale only slightly, neutralizing the crowd.

Violetta steps up. “I will speak on Lyssa of Bayerton’s behalf, for I am her mother.” She speaks of her neglected childhood and dour economic conditions. “A person of purity and goodness could never come from that. She has shown true growth. Cortox knows she has a great destiny ahead of you,” she says sobbing. She turns to Lyssa, emotionally shattered and begins to move towards her before being ushered away. “I beg you to forgive me!” she pleads. “I beg you!”

Trisoll moves forward but thinks better of it, then sits down. As he does, Vetnik rises. “I am Vetnik Talthraudii, Grand Knight and Earl of Granrud. I am here to speak on behalf of Lyssa of Bayerton. I was personally very suspicious of her when I first met her. As a nobleman, I request a certain amount of respect from those in my company. I stand for honor and nobility, and the company I keep must carry out these qualities as well, and despite whatever setbacks we may have had in the beginning, she has shown herself worthy to fight alongside. I hope you take what I’ve said into consideration.”

Grum stands and introduces himself as an “adventurer and traveler.” He narrates the times she’s put herself in peril for good.

Zemilay urges Trisoll to speak up and as a result, he gives an incensed speech on her behalf. “You guys, she’s my friend! She’s good, you’ll see.”

Old man Zemilay approaches the stand and delivers a speech on his charge. He pleads that she was a victim of “circumstances beyond her control.” He calls upon Lucien to also reconsider the wages and fairness their family deal out. “I have done much for this city.” The crowd reacts positively, knowing his deeds and the deeds of his company.

The magistrate takes recess to consider the testimony provided. Violetta comes to Lyssa to comfort her. “Everything will be alright, I swear!”

“Lyssa of Bayerton. I find you guilty. However, based upon the words of your companions and the words of Zemilay Lyks. I am willing to take your sentence down to life imprisonment.” The court erupts in a series of boos, cheers, and gasps.

Violetta offers herself up as token slave. Lyssa protests but Violetta willingly gives herself to the Cerzan family. Lyssa watches helplessly as the Cerzans cart her mother away, now a slave, while Moira urges Lyssa to come back to the Manor with them.

“Next time, there’s a spell called “Non-detect”. Try using that.” Thom whispers to Lyssa
“Next time, I won’t be so sloppy.” Lyssa replies through gritted teeth as she watches the Cerzan carts roll away back to Greyhawk Heights.

Lyks transforms into a small bird and trails the Cerzan caravan. He finds out she is being sent to work at the lumber operation in Dafflewood in the Velver Dyver River. Lyks flies back to Greyhawk and broadcasts Violetta’s whereabouts to Lyssa.

To vent steam, Grum suggests the party go find the man who defiled his mother’s street sign. Moira rejects the notion of revenge, which angers Grum. Vetnik convinces her to come along and safeguard from any serious harm, relying more on a prank than true vengeance. Grunt continues to joke about removing the bounty hunter’s hands.

Thom polymorphs and sneaks up to Carrin the Stalker’s home as a snake. He leads the party, scouting ahead. He is in the process of making ransom notes and together, the twins hatch a plan: Thom will slither in while Grum casts ventriloquism, giving the serpent a menacing voice. “I know what you did” he hisses. Carrin freaks out as Thom slithers through his legs then transforms into a Naga. Carrin bolts to the door, but Vetnik presses his weight against the door to keep it barred. “The sign!”
“What… what sign?!”
“The sign in Newhope. Clean it!”
“Ok, ok!”
Thom shapeshifts into a fly and buzzes out a nearby window. Grum chuckles watching the old bounty hunter whimpering. The twins chuckle as the bounty hunter scrambles to get cleaning supplies. Humiliated, the party saunter back to Pimpleton Manor.

Back at the manor, Lyssa meets Zemilay to discuss the whereabouts of Violetta. George escorts her to the study. Lyssa enters to find maps laying out on the table. He goes right into it and gives her coordinates how far away her mother will be after tonight. Zemilay tells Lyssa she’s set to leave in the morning. In a huff, Lyssa tries to leave to go get her mother, but Zemilay pleads with her to stop and think rationally. She turns to him with burning red eyes and Zemilay quickly uses Mind Read on her and finds she only vengeance on the brain. In an effort to cap it, Zemilay casts Emotion over her. She’s overcome by his spell and she calms down, feeling strangle optimistic all of a sudden.

Moira is impressed with the way Grum cooled himself.
“Well, a lot of it is just pomp. I’d never do it.” Grum reveals.
“Well, you scared the mess out of him and that was good enough.” Vetnik congratulates.

Moira asks Zemilay about how they plan to save Violetta from slavery. Thom expresses concern that the Cerzans will know it was they that freed her. Moira suggests they use Lucien as an ally. Thom and Grum are adamant about freeing Violetta then breaking the family apart. Trisoll asks Grum to make arrangements for smuggling Violetta goods. He in turn contacts Marit to help with the smuggling, and she delegates it to her scouts.

Thom hears a rumor about Dagger Rock, a small mountain in the Bright Lands which serves as a lair for a Blue Dragon. Two weeks travel. He also gets wind of a town overrun by an orc army.



Detouring from the main road back to Greyhawk, the party takes the pair of surviving women back to their home villiage, a small hamlet called Pek. They find out the women are named Aulis Grainkeeper (skinny, missing leg) and Geria Plowshare (stout) but are not forthcoming about much else. Upon arriving in Pek, they see a village made up of impoverished farm folk living among the 10 or so huts. The villagers greet the party and are in awe of the mounted warriors. They quietly mourn the loss of a third woman and even more subtly rejoice over the return of the other girls. The village elder,Ligren Foxtrapper, thanks the party for bringing the girls back but as they are a poor people, they cannot offer more than the servitude of the former captives — as is the way of their people.

“We didn’t do this to gain slaves!” Lyssa disputes.

Foxtrapper tries to express to the party that giving them the women is their way of paying back whatever debt, despite the consequences. Aulis is obedient to the will of the elder, while Geria voices that she doesn’t want to leave. In turn, the villagers immediately begin to shun Geria. Fearing no other option, she agrees to go with the party. Moira and Thom hatch a plan to turn the Pekian’s customs and Moira urges the village to keep the girls as slaves, serving in their name to better Pek. The elder, however, doesn’t fall for their ruse and asks them to take the women back with them. While Lyssa isn’t shy about telling the elder of Pek off about his backwards, piggish token of gratitude, Thom and Moira agree to sponsor the women when they return to Greyhawk. Thom even assures to Lyssa that their positions in Greyhawk will be duly compensated, though it does little to cool Lyssa’s heated disposition. Before leaving, Vetnik wrangles a horse for the women to share and together, they leave Pek for the road back to Greyhawk.

Near the city limits, Moira reveals her doubts about the church to Vetnik, but that she remains loyal to Cortox. She also reveals a fear of excommunication and being stripped of her paladinship. On the way back, they see another group of 30 rats that scurry off the road when they pass on horseback. At the city gates, the party checks in and prepares to escort Thom to see Bardmaster Lactile Furlo. Thom gets word that bardschool is being held at the Salty Sea Dog Inn. The party follows Thom, all except for Lyssa, who dips off to go to her apartment (still visibly withdrawn and frustrated by the encounter in Pek.)

At the Salty Sea Dog, the clientele is as grizzled as the inn itself: dark, dingy, belligerent dock workers and barflies mingle with “catfish” (unattractive, dock whores). One brazen patron is even brave/foolish enough to pick a fight with Grunt, who in turn responds with a head butt, knocking the unsuspecting patron out in a single blow. Thom heads to the backroom to see a class of 10. The soloist’s song is described as “perfectly adequate” by Bardmaster Furlo.

Lactile greets the trio of bards (Thom, Chan, and Pelar) and is told that Thom is the victor of his quest. Inspecting the Gourd of Travel, Lactile congratulates Thom openly, calling him “My. Master. Student”. While most of the other students react with disdain and disappointment, a few are brave enough to openly congratulate Thom. Over a glass of wine in the house, Thom recounts the details of their expedition to Lactile, who uses whatever opportunity he can during the discussion to dismiss the other students’ talents.

Back at her apartment, Lyssa consults the Eye of Modius in a heated state. The Eye opens up to reveal details about the Cerzan patriarch, Lord Soren. She gets exceeding details of his current health and opulently decorated manor in Greyhawk Heights. In a fit of impulse, she teleports instantly into his bedroom (a first manifestation of this particular spell power!) There, she quietly looks over his finery, waiting and brewing.

Back at the Salty Sea Dog, Lactile continues to praise Thom, berating his students to be just as good. Having all the wine and praise he can take, Thom leads the others out of the Salty Sea Dog Inn. As they pass Elsa’s House of Comfort, Vetnik hears a familiar voice call out to him: “Well, well, barbarian! What’s this? No wonder I haven’t seen you.” It is the scantily armored warrioress, Aris, and she approaches the party, laying into Vetnik and his choice of virtuous companion.
“I am warriorborn, woman!” Moira says, stepping to the bawdy warrior.
“You’re both going to calm yourselves, you’re both embarrassing me,” Vetnik barks at the feuding women (much to the amusement of the others in the party.) Moira concedes and stands down, and though Aris is still heated, she too backs off. After Aris stomps away, the party agrees to meet later at Pimpleton Manor. Moira takes the Pek women to the Church of Cortox to see what help she can get them, despite having avoided her duties for quite some time. Grunt heads back to his apartment while Trisoll and the Black brothers follow Vetnik back to the Manor.

Later in the evening, Soren Cerzan returns to his bedroom to find Lyssa lightly pilfering through the surface objects adorning his dresser. Before he can call down for help, Lyssa charms him and commands him to sit and listen to her. She reveals she is one of many families from Bayerton who were workers on his lands and confronts him about the lavish lifestyle he and his family lead while the villagers of Bayerton toil for little pay and live in squalor.
“They have earned their right to exist,” the remorseless lord tells Lyssa. Driven by blinding rage, Lyssa blankets the room in a powerful cloudkill spell, instantly killing the lord. In a panic, she teleports back to her home to sleeplessly mull over her reckless actions.

On the way to his home, a gnome stops Grunt and begs him for coin. Grunt says “no”, to which the gnome offers a bag of beans. Grunt is unwavering and yells at the gnome to get lost! The gnome flees to bother another villager, who falls for his con.

At the Manor, Vetnik receives a notice that his new suit of armor will be ready at dawn. Thom gets a letter from Cirilli Finla, the young girl who helped in freeing Orlane from the stranglehold of the Naga, Explictica Defilus. She writes to say hello and thank him again for freeing her. She also tells Thom the peculiar way she’s been revered in her hometown. Orlanians have taken to asking her to touch them to bless and heal them, even going so far as to ask for locks of her hair (which Cirlli has seemingly obliged, but jokes that “I’m beginning to look like a boy”.) Later in the evening, Trisoll struggles to wake himself from an intensely horrific nightmare! Vetnik rushes in hearing his friend’s panicked cries and wakes him. Vetnik gets Trisoll water while he collects himself. He later explains to Vetnik the vision he saw: a child and a wizard, followed by the death of the wizard and a murderous creature chasing after the child. Then he realizes there were other children, and wonders if he should consult his mother.

In the morning, Vetnik returns to Pimpleton Manor in a finely crafted suit of grey iron armor. Grum chortles and fawns over him mockingly. “Oh, lookit you!” Moira genuinely compliments him and asks why he acquired it. “Why grey?”
“I’ll tell you later,” he says with a wink .“It’s a tradition actually. Now that I am no longer a knight bachelor, I no longer need to wear black. As a knight, I am now able to don the grey armor of my people. I hope some day to be able to don the white armor though.”
Moira smiles, though she has a feeling that the white armor would mean Vetnik returning to icy Granrud.

During breakfast, Moira tells the party that the church has charged her to find the secret Cortoxian priest from the Games, but tells them she refused the task. She also tells the Black brothers that someone has defaced their mother’s street sign with the word TRAITOR. “They’ll wipe it clean with their bloody stumps!” Grum swears. Later, a visitor arrives for them: Xoston Wilcryn and his dwarven associate from Blackmoor, Boromis Runforge. The gnome reveals that his associate is looking for an assassin from Horndurn named G’aldem M’lek, who slew their friend and fellow Raven’s Claw, Galather Eldrin. The Black brothers and Grunt head to the Thieves’ Guild to find info on the assassin while Vetnik and Moira agree to put their ears to the ground at local Inns, beginning with the Wretched Eye. Trisoll forgoes doing recon and chooses to spend some time with his mother for reasons known only to him and Vetnik.

Still holed up in her apartment, Lyssa consults her Eye and sees a vision of the City Guard coming at night to confront her at her home. Unsure of what to do, she continues researching through the different texts in her home in hopes of finding magic to safeguard herself.

Moira and Vetnik stand out like sore thumbs at the Inn of the Wretched Eye. Moira asks of the patrons “Which one of you scums are willing to give up some information for some money?” The patrons look the naïve paladin up and down, but before they can “escort” her out, Vetnik cools the scene by buying a table of men some drinks. Moira quickly strong-arms them into revealing their knowledge of the Horndurnian asssassin. They reveal they’ve only briefly seen M’lek and have heard rumors of him heading to the port town of Dyvers. The pair of knights pay the men with coin and drink, which raises a few of the patrons’ eyebrows. In return, the men quietly ask the knights to escort them to the front door.
“We’ll walk you home if you like?” Moira says without a hint of sarcasm.
“Hahaha… no!” One of the men responds. The knights do as asked and watch as the small group of men break off from each other and flee.

As Lyssa quietly researches, a note slips under her door. It is notice from Ebeviria, letting her know that Glarius has left with the Eye of Null and is said to be traveling to the Dry Steppes beyond the Crystalmist Mountains. She references the various maps in her apartment and finds out just how far he’s planning on going.

Grum gets word of who vandalized his mother’s street post. It appears to be a former business owner, a bounty hunter named Carrin Stalker, who once operated out of what was once known as Blood Alley, but was bounced out due to his mother’s gentrification of the area. The others gather their information together and get ready to head to Dyvers. The company votes to head there on horseback for four days travel, with Xoston and Boromis accompanying them. Trisoll goes to pick up Lyssa and finds her more eager to travel than usual, but is commanded by her not to pry.

The ride is uneventful for the first half of travel, but on the 3rd day they come across a procession of 11 shambling figures in red robes, silent and shoeless with cracked and bloodied feet. Trisoll refuses to speak with them this time as they been rather intimidating the last time he attempted to strike up conversation with them. The party continues onwards, and the next day they arrive at Dyvers, which could best be described as a city-sized Salty Sea Dog Inn. Once finished with registration, Boromis departs and searches for info alone, agreeing to meet at the Dragon’s Eye Tavern in four hours’ time. They stake another tavern out to listen in on villagers. Thom casts comprehend languages upon himself to listen in on foreigners. The rest of the party go to a local inn called Jorton’s Mist to set up. Moira and Vetnik hang back while the others bar hop. Alone, Moira expresses deeper concern for the former priests of Celestian who have such violent reactions towards the new reign of Cortox. She also opens up about her brother for the first time to Vetnik and her growing desire to find him. Vetnik suggests that an alternative way of finding him using an object of his. Moira seems eager to pursue that idea, but is timid to ask Lyssa to help (“I fear she’s cross with me.”) Vetnik says he understands that Lyssa thinks he’s taking Moira away from her, but Moira wishes that she would try to understand their new relationship and be open for discussion about it.

At the Green Door Tavern, the party stakes out for info. Humans, half orcs, and dwarves drink together. Thom and Grum hear whispers but Grunt can’t make them out. Thom hears nothing of value but Grum hears word of a foreigner in strange robes getting supplies. With the info, they head to another bar called The Wyvern, which is a little more refined than the last bar. Only Thom can discern more info. He hears that the character has been hanging out in Hook Rows.

The party meets back at Dragon’s Eye as planned and Boromis tells the party that the assassin is said to be lurking in a specific block in the Hook Rows area. Xoston suggests to make the knights of the party invisible. Vetnik agrees to hold Moira’s hand while Trisoll figures out how to silence their metal footsteps. Xoston hangs back with Trisoll and Lyssa while Thom goes invisible as well. Grum and Grunt scout ahead, hiding in shadows, while Boromis uses a grappling hook (a Blackmoorian invention) to scale the rooftops.

On the 4th hour of patrol, the party hears a small explosion on the rooftops. Boromis yells down that he’s fired a shot at him. Thom uses his Ring of Flying to take to the air, calling down the assassin’s coordinates, and the party chases after him. Lyssa dimension doors and cuts G’aldem off. Thom attempts to cast a charm on him but it fails. As G’aldem begins to scale the wall of a nearby building up to the roof, Lyssa attempts to suspend him with a levitate spell but he proves too quick and evades it. Thom watches and continues to call out coordinates as G’aldem bolts from rooftop to rooftop with catlike agility. Grum jumps up to climb walls but can’t get his footing. Grunt tries to scale the walls too but he slides down. The thieves take notice of the sappy, cheap wooden siding on the building and together they scurry to find a better way up. Trisoll reaches out to the local birds and contacts a sparrow to pursue the assassin. Now out of the veil of invisibility and hovering in the air, Thom draws his bow to fire a pair of arrows. The first of the arrows miss by a mile, but the second pierces the escaping assassin through his right leg, exploding through his knee and felling him to the ground of the roof. Lyssa dimension doors up to his body and disarms G’aldem. He says nothing as she finds and takes a curved blade and 3 smoke pellets, which she gives to Thom — who in turn gives them to Grum.
“Should’ve just gave in to my charm,” Thom jokes.
Lyssa attempts to place him under a suggestion spell but he is resistant to it. Xoston summons a horde of Shadow Monsters to menace him into talking but even those do little to faze him. Boromis holds the assassin’s own blade at his throat and threatens to open his neck up with it if he doesn’t speak. Moira steps in toe calm the frustrated dwarf while Vetnik tears G’aldem’s cowl off and reveals a mouth sewn shut. Vetnik cuts G’aldem’s mouth open with his longsword. As Moira lays hands on the assassin to heal him, Vetnik opens his mouth to reveal neither teeth nor tongue. Vetnik blows a bag of dust and puts G’aldem to sleep.

The party restrains the sleeping assassin and Vetnik puts him on the back of his horse to take with them back to Greyhawk. The first couple days back are uneventful. Vetnik keeps the silent assassin comatose with daily doses of dust on their journey back home. On the third day back to Greyhawk, a huge shadow covers the ground. They look up and see an enormous bird fly over: the legendary giant Roc. Though in awe, they keep the ride moving as to not get the bird’s attention. Thom sketches it in his journal of beastly encounters. The 4th day, the party passes a trade caravan as they pass through the city gates.



The party reconvenes at Pimpleton Manor after defending Greyhawk from the ambush of giants. Back at the manor, Vetnik reveals that his desire to go home is only stipulated by whether or not his father deems him worthy to return. In a rare moment of vulnerability, he expresses a distance he’s felt from the group (aside from Trisoll), that they’ve merely been together as adventurers and not as friends.

Two weeks go by and the party individually sets out to begin production on many newly laid plans. Many of them finally receive the plots of land and materials as promised by the noblility of Greyhawk to begin constructing their own strongholds and sancturaries. Even Lyssa is signed over as the legal owner of the ruins of Castle Greyhawk in a proceeding that, had it not been for the influence of the Barton Woodley would’ve been a lengthy process.

While Thom staffs a construction crew for his stronghold-to-be, he continues his forging. He forges a katana blade over 2 weeks, a Damascus blade of silver and steel that is as balanced as it is sharp. He also does research at public library, cross-referencing the monsters they’ve encountered with lore and public record for increased awareness. He also sends out his new acolyte, Melina, to investigate and bring back 3 true things about town a day. He also attends a late class with Bardmaster Lactile Furlo, attended by only himself, his friend Chan, and a third student. Furlo sets upon them a quest for a fabled item to be found in the arid Bright Lands that will test their medal as not only Bards but as adventurers. Thom extends the courtesy to accompany him, but only Chan takes him up on the offer. The third, a stranger, rejects his offer and sets out on her own. Furlo shares with each of them the coordinates of the item but little else beyond that.

On the opposite side of town in the neighboring marshes, Grum builds out a quaint B&B complete with a network of hidden passages as well as an underground fortress underneath. Production hits a block over the two weeks when trying to excavate the earth for his dungeon. He also keeps tabs on the ladies of the Red Nails for the new head of the Thieves Guild, Thurman Dietrich. He discovers that while many of the Red Nails have sided with the new order, some have not taken to the power shift. He sends word to Marit Loyalar (the assassin from the Red Nails who turned against Nystra Greythrush) that two of companions are plotting against her: the scout Winnie and the founder of the Red Nails, Thery Megaria.

Still feeling despondent about being taken from his homeland, Grunt makes half-hearted attempts at creating a new place for himself in Greyhawk. He buys a house with his gold but spends his time in it decorating it with booby traps and trash. At night, he creeps the city looking for things to steal. He trolls Greyhawk Heights, scaling the city from above and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, picking his marks according to their wealth and their benevolence (or lack thereof). On one particular evening, he attempts to loot the home of a wealthy and cruel nobleman in Greyhawk but ends up spending more gold on the caper than he’s able to walk away with.

Lyssa spends time spying on the Cerzan family, and finds out that the six of the eight brothers are scattered all over Greyhawk. House Cerzan is occupied by its old and reclusive Lord, as well as servants and guards, and he is visited regularly by Lord Cerzan’s sons and grandchild. In a moment of moral dilemma, she visits the Church of Cortox to speak with her mother, Violetta. There the two embrace as never they have before, and Lyssa asks for her mother’s counsel on dealing with evil in their own land. Violetta says that her daughter must do as she has done for months, and vanquish evil. Unbeknownst to Violetta, Lyssa’s fractured mind takes this as a blessing of sorts to deal out punishment to the Cerzan family. She also continues her studies with Ebeviria and spends her downtime researching the visions she had of Castle Greyhawk with the lore written about the fabled place. Ebeviria reveals that she has agents attending to watch the destruction the Eye of Null, which Glarius is attending himself.

Moira enlists parishioners of the church of Cortox to help in building her sanctuary in Cortox’s honor. Trisoll takes a different path however. As his patron god values individuality, he is resolved to build his sanctuary without the help of other humans. With a deep connection to nature, he employs the help of local wildlife to help where possible.

Vetnik sends a letter off to Granrud, asking for his father’s blessing to return. As he waits, Moira finally confesses her adoration for him. She cites seeing him with Aris as a source of her hesitation. Vetnik reveals though that it may be too late for them as he has already requested to return to his kingdom. Vetnik also reveals his longstanding feelings for the paladin with a gentleman’s kiss.

At the end of two weeks, Vetnik’s correspondence is returned with a denial from his father. “The title of your order is of little consequence to me, you show you are ready when you have done great deeds. Not with great titles.” His denial is sent with a care package of dusts and native treats prepared by his mother. Though disappointed, having Moira at his side comforts him. The party meets at Pimpleton Manor for their weekly dinner and finds both Vetnik and Moira together as an open couple. While the others react in a celebratory fashion, Lyssa is unable to process it and excuses herself. In a display of rare sentimentality, Zemilay Lyks offers his help in constructing his son’s sanctuary. Lyks also offers to help Grum magically by moving and shaping earth to help create the thief’s dungeon. When confronted by Lyks, Lyssa is mum on all matters and remains closed off, both where it concerns Moira and Vetnik’s blossoming relationship as well as what she’s been up to for the past two weeks since the attack.

Thom reveals he has been charged with a quest by his Bardmaster to find an enchanted item in the arid Bright Lands — a challenge set forth to him and two other students. After being informed that companions are permitted to help get the bards there, Trisoll immediately jumps at the chance to go on the adventure. Still soured from her last pilgrimage to convert heathens, Moira forgoes her duty to the church to tag along with the others. As a side, Lyssa opens up to the party and reveals that the Eye of Null is slated for destruction and that Glarius will be in attendance, which engenders Lyks with little optimism.

Fearing a third student is already on the way to the Bright Lands, Thom organizes the party together to ride the next morning. Chan is a man of his word and tags along with Thom and the others. The ride is uneventful at first until reaching the Neen River. Thom begins discussion by figuring out he and Lyssa would be able to distribute flight and levitation spells amongst the party and their horses. As he works to figure the equation out, Lyssa exhibits a new ability: using a piece of hemp and a shard of bark from a nearby tree, she uses her magic to create the components into a wooden bridge. Movement is slow once entering the Mist Marshes as they trudge through wet and foggy peatlands. On the second day in the Mist Marshes, Grunt and Thom spy a group of thirteen strange, mantislike creatures the size of men, scouting the swamp with armed with spears. From his studies in the great library of Greyhawk, he informs the others that they are in fact Thri-Kreen. Their alien jaws click and whistle to each other, echoing strange insectoid sounds through the marsh. Thom casts a comprehend languages spell on himself and discerns that they aren’t hostile. The party sheaths their weapons and continues onwards past the Thri-Kreen. “I smell elf! Sweet elf meat!” One of the Thri-Kreen clicks to another. Grum and Thom quicken their pace and continue to lead the rest of the party further away from the patrol. As sun sets over the Mist Marsh, Thom uses Leomund’s Tiny Hut to create a safe camp area for he and the others until sunrise. At dawn the party sets out to ride again, but Vetnik feels a fever begin to worm its way into his system. Throughout the morning, Vetnik feels progressively worse, culminating in a show of clammy skin, pallid complexion and profuse vomiting. “Stop!” Moira commands the party. Moira sees him in pain and while he tries to put on a tough front, she lays her hands upon him, healing him of his mysterious ailment. She wipes a bit of vomit from his beard and smiles before returning to her mount.

The party makes it out of the Mist Marsh and continues across the plains in the Duchy of Urnst. Vetnik takes the lead with the Black brothers and spurs the horses to a quicker pace. As they ride closer towards the deserts of the Bright Lands, the grass of the plains thin and dry. In a patch of open land, they spy the corpse of a man whose body has been picked at by a family of 18 rats, his flesh buzzing with flies. After a couple more days they finally make it to the northern reaches of the Bright Lands, a dry and flat desert land. The heat of the desert lands especially hinders Moira and Vetnik, both of whom sweat heavily in the bulky armor. Vetnik does his best to think of his own frozen wasteland in an effort to mentally cool himself down. On the afternoon of the second day the party sees the first signs of possible life in the desert: a small village made up of five small dirt yurts. “Should we see if they have water?” Grum asks the others.
“If we need water, I can make some. We should keep moving,” Trisoll replies, seeing no signs of villagers occupying the huts.

On the third and final day, Grum comes upon a series of tracks leading towards the entrance of a cave. They hop off their horses and Grum reveals that the tracks probably belong to a female. They tether their horses and head inside, following the tracks. Inside, there are a series of stone steps that come to two halls, with footsteps taking down the right path. They take the opposite path and head through the corridor that ends after several yards at a door. Grum finds the door trapped but deftly removes it: a mechanism that was set to trigger a guillotine-like blade to cut into the first to enter. Thom listens for noise, and after hearing nothing, they pass through the unlocked door and a circular room made of smooth sandstone decorated with only three large brass rings attached to the wall. Thom inspects them closer and finds small brass plates behind each of the rungs. Chan approaches and spots a very small musical register barely carved into the rung. Thom and Chan look at all three of the rings and find that the trio together creates some kind of song. “Well, this is a challenge,” Thom begins to Chan. He flips a coin and both bards call their sides; the coin falls in Thom’s favor. Thom takes his drums out and plays a beat similar to the structure laid out on the rung. Nothing happens. Chan takes the rung in the middle, looks at it, and instead of using his drum, he begins to hammer a beat out using the rung and its backing plate. Suddenly, a loud mechanical click echoes through the chamber.
“Good work,” Thom compliments, “finish it off!” Chan eagerly moves to the first rung and hammers out the beat and a second click sounds. Chan rushes to the third and finishes the song on the brass rung. A third click sounds followed by the slow sound of earth scraping against earth. The wall swivels open to reveal another corridor!

Thom ushers Grum and Grunt to scout ahead. They come upon another fork, with each path capped by a closed door. Thom checks the left door for noise first and hears the faint sound of metal clanging together. After finding no traps, Grum unlocks the door and together they enter. Inside they see a chandelier of long brass hollow tubes hanging from the ceiling, bouncing off each other in a cacophony of noise. They also notice the perimeter of the walls are lined with vents blowing out warm air which seems to keep the tubes in chaotic motion. Unsure of what to make of it, the Black brothers head to the right door. There, Thom hears the strange sound of wood against metal. Grum checks for traps and finds a panel with keys barring the lock. His fingers prove too nimble for the panel and Grum pulls it out, revealing a trap mechanism, which he pockets for later use. They open the door and find in the middle of the room a pipe organ and a wooden wheel operating an intricate network of gears that pushed foot pedals and keys, creating constant dissonant sound. Thom notices the gears pushing the pedals can be manipulated for different melodic effect. Thom extends Chan the courtesy to try solving the puzzle first since he solved the first. Chan inspects the intricate gears for a moment and begins to move gears into position. At first, his selections make for a harmonious melody. His third move pushes the song out of tune, which causes the door to slam shut and the already humid room to heat up. Vetnik and Moira rush to the door as Lyssa casts a knock spell upon it while Grum and Thom gather around Chan to return to the gears back to their initial places. Vetnik pushes the door open just as Thom puts the final gear back in its place, causing the room to instantly cool down. “It’s your turn,” Chan says to Thom as he tries to calm himself. Thom follows Chan’s first couple of moves and puts the gears and pedals in their desired position. Acknowledging Chan’s misstep, Thom selects a different pedal and continues the song. He successfully finishes the song, which causes a small secret panel to open up into another corridor.

Thom and Grum duck into the small corridor first to check the door. Behind it, Thom hears a wheezing sound, a gasping creature. Grum also finds a trap on the door – a tuning fork – and behind the door, the see the bloodied body of a woman laying and gasping for life. Thom rushes in and discovers it’s the third student from his class. “Trisoll!” Thom calls out. The cleric rushes in without hesitation and embraces her, restoring a bit of life to her.
“What happened to you?” Thom asks as Trisoll releases her from his healing hug.
“Stones… they crushed me. This… this is the wrong path,” she chokes. “There is only death here.”
“Do you feel any better?” Trisoll asks.
“Yes, thank you. I… I can feel my body… my strength slowly returning. Please, if you have any rations, I must leave!” she pleads.
Thom hands her a sack of his own rations before continuing to console her. “We have a small camp set up outside of the entrance to the cave. Take my water, go there and wait for us.”
“Thank you! My name is Pelar, I will wait for your return!” she says graciously as he and Trisoll help her to her feet. She quickly limps out of the corridor and back to the front of the cave.

The party continues down the corridor, stepping over blood-soaked sand and making their way to another closed door. As Thom approaches, he can hear the faint sound of three drums, banging out an ancient beat. Grum jumps in to unlock the door, but for some unknown reason, the lock doesn’t seem to give despite his best attempts. Grum takes a step back to take a look at the door with his gem of seeing and finds the door sealed with a third, unseen mechanism. Upon hearing this, Thom takes the lead and rushes back to the room of chimes. Chan quickly runs after him, followed by the others. They make their way back to the room, where the vents continue to blow the pipes together. Thom quickly surveys the vents and finds that each of the vents are dug out at particular angles despite the common holes they share. “It is another song,” Chan remarks, looking up at the pipes from beneath them. Thom moves closer and the two see that the track the pipes are suspended from is indeed like that of sheet music, with each cluster of pipes forming notes. Chan moves to one of the vents and closes it off with his hand, which causes one of the pipes to swing less chaotically.
“It’s like a woodwind,” Thom notices, counting the holes on the wall. Thom closes another vent shut and notices that the tone of the chimes changes. The party watches as the pair of bards race about the room, racing the figure out the secret melody. While they begin strong together, Chan’s nerves get the best of him. Thom takes it upon himself to begin stuffing rags and refuse into vents until finding the right notes. Once closed off, the chimes swing together to create an echoing harmony. “Let’s go see what’s behind that door,” Thom says to Chan before rushing back to the last locked room.

Upon entering the corridor, Thom finds the door slightly ajar and the beat of three drummers booming throughout. He enters and finds waiting for him three identical drummers each playing a separate but unified beat of ancient origin. He notices their bodies seem to billow and move when hitting the drums, as if their arms were made of air itself. All three speak in unison: “One of us is real, the others are false. Play the rhythm of the one who is true and the prize will be yours.” Thom takes a moment to listen to each of the beats. At first, it seems as if they’re playing in perfect harmony, but after taking a few more moments to listen intently, he notices something. When striking the drum, the center drummer’s body remains solid and doesn’t vibrate the way the other two do. Thom slowly pulls out his drums, stares the center drummer down, and begins to hammer out the beat right along with him. After a few measures, the pair of drummers flanking the center hit their final beat in unison and then disappear into pillars of swirling air! The center drummer bangs his last beat and causes his drum to disappear in a puff of vapor. As he approaches Thom, the party watches the drummer’s legs turn into a vortex of cloudy vapor. He bows to honor Thom and extends his hand outwards. Where the left drummer stood, a stone stand appears in its place, with a smooth, dried gourd resting atop it. Thom bows respectfully and as he rises, the drummer disappears in a similar pillar of air as the other drummers had before. Thom moves to the stone stand. He lifts up the gourd and hears the rattle of seeds inside. Recalling tales passed down from bard to bard, he realizes that this is no ordinary gourd but a Gourd of Travel, a means by which a bard and his companion may travel to any known place, but is limited to the seeds within. Grum inspects the gourd with his brother with his Gem of Seeing and finds ten seeds inside. “Congratulations,” Chan says to Thom, patting him on the back. “You are the master student.”
“That’s right he is!” Grunt jeers.

The party follows the path out of the cave back to their camp. There they find Pelar with the horses, sipping on Thom’s waterskin. “Thank you again, Thom Drum. My hubris got the better of me. I was not ready for such a quest.”
“You will be. It’s all a part of the lifestyle.” Thom gifts Pelar a horse and together they head back home. They travel the desert and the Duchy with little event. Vetnik is especially grateful to be out of such arid conditions. The first day back in the Mist Marshes, the party encounters a group of three unkempt men sloughing through the marsh. The trio waves the party down with friendly (and gapped) smiles. “Ahoy travelers! Where ya off to?”
“Back home,” Thom answers politely. “Yourselves?”
“Oh us? Just heading back home to cook our catch. A fantastic feast, with enough left over for the entire season! Care to join us? Looks like you all haven’t had a warm-cooked meal in a while!”
Before Lyssa can express her doubts, Thom agrees to ride with them. They follow behind the trio deeper and deeper into the marsh. The stagnant scent of humid swamp air suddenly begins to merge with that of cooked flesh, but not of any animal they can immediately recall. Closing in on their camp, the party sees nine other men of similar dishevelment, all camped out around the roast. Grunt takes a whiff of the air and takes a closer look at what’s roasting on the long spit. “Looks they aren’t cooking pig.”
“What do you—“ Moira begins before seeing the corpse roasting on the men’s spit: the blackened body of a slender human. “YOU FIENDS!” Moira cries out as she unsheathes Starstrike. The trio turns to the party confused by their anger.
“What’s the matter, milady?” one of the men asks.
Moira jumps down off her horse and stabs at the men with her blade, felling one of them. Vetnik immediately rushes in on horseback and cuts a second man down, followed by delivering a crushing blow to another with his shield. The other men at the fire rush in to help their men just as Grunt draws out his trusty bow, “Hank”. He pulls the ethereal string back and in his fingers forms a pair of arrows, both of which are released with fantastic accuracy, killing two more of the cannibals. Lyssa gallops forward and unleashes a wave of fire from her burning hands, incinerating three more men. Fearing for their lives, the four remaining men do their best to flee into the fog-covered swamp. Before they can get too far, Thom gallops after them and cuts into another man with his katana. Grum stays back and fires a pair of arrows into the remaining men. One falls dead to the peat but the second arrow misses and disappears into the fog.
“Last ones yours,” Vetnik remarks to Trisoll. He turns and sees the cleric concentrating, eyes closed.
“Don’t worry, they won’t get away.”
After a few minutes, the party hears the sound of hooves racing towards the camp. In the distance they spy a centaur charging towards the men, drawing his bow and a pair of arrows. The first arrow shoots through the right knee of the first man, shattering it and causing him to fall and die from shock. The second gets an arrow in the hand and while caught off guard, Vetnik rushes up to deliver the killing cut.

With the cannibal party dispatched, Trisoll bows to the centaur before he disappears back into the foggy marsh. Grunt climbs down off his horse and just two clicks away from the camp, they find a pair of young women tied to a tree, their heads covered in old, soiled sacks. He notices that one of the women’s legs have been severed, served to the previous party as food no doubt. “Moira, Trisoll, we’ve got survivors!” he yells out before removing their hoods. They find their mouths bound and gagged, and though the initial sight of the hooded Grunt seems to terrify them, Moira’s gleaning presence calms them. “It’s alright, we are here to help!” Moira and Trisoll lay hands and hugs upon both women and do their best to restore life to them, though they’re unable to restore the one woman’s leg. The party takes a detour from the road back to Greyhawk to take the pair of women back to their village.

Negotiation Tactics


Unable to cope with the crippling agoraphobia, Thom gives Vetnik hammer. Vetnik beats back the magical fear and agrees to carry Whelm the rest of the way. The party makes it back to Alhaster w/o incident and agree to get accommodations at a local inn for the evening before sailing back to Greyhawk. Thom gives the eight extra men a bonus of 50gp from his own cut of the loot as a tip, and together they make their way to the local tavern.

“After all of this, I could use a good body to help keep my bed warm tonight,” Thom quips to which Vetnik chuckles to himself.

They come upon the tavern and find it a bustling scene. A few of the men take their gold and go in search of company to hire. Thom, enjoying the game too much to settle on a whore, chats up the men while scouting for a woman of his own. His eyes meet with a human woman with cherry red hair and a milky, spotless face. He excuses himself from the table and approaches her. Before he can reach her, she begins to slink his way smiling seductively, a slight snaggletooth revealed behind her lips (which only seems to pique Thom’s interest more.)

“Care for a drink?” he asks her smoothly. Without word or hesitation, she leans herself in close to him, presenting herself eyes and cleavage first. She uttered not a word and replied by grabbing at the crotch of his pants. Thom, appreciating her forwardness, brought her in closer and wrapped his arm around her shoulders and the pair left the rowdiness of the bar behind them for more intimate games upstairs.

Vetnik stayed downstairs to enjoy a pint of ale calmly among his companions. He watched the locals and his hirelings mingle and schmooze. Trisoll sat across from him, a cup of water in one hand with a stein of mead in the other. Moira and Lyssa sat beside him, sipping on cups of water.

“It’s too bad your friend isn’t here, eh Vetnik?” Moira said looking up from the table, breaking her stoic silence.
“Oh why is that? Do you enjoy her company as well?” Vetnik replied dryly, sipping on his ale. Moira seemed stunned and returned quietly to her water. Lyssa scoffed at his boorish reply and excused herself from the table. She began to wander into the back area near the gamblers. Just as she entered, her attention (as well as the others’) was diverted to a commotion from the back of the bar. Suddenly, they watched as a mountain of a man drug two quarreling men towards the exit of the bar, their heads under each of his arms. Before tossing them, he bashed the head of one man against the wooden casing and knocked the other’s head into the now-wounded head of the other man. The bouncer spat out the door and stomped back towards the bar, where those who watched cheered at the vicious sight and continued to drink.

Grum enjoyed a glass of wine to himself at the bar, keeping watch over his friends while also enjoying a bit of withdrawn introspective time to himself. He watches as one of his hirelings gets too rowdy and begins to bump into other patrons. Fearing for the man’s safety at the hands of the brutish bouncer, Grum quickly gets a cup of water and hands it to his traveling companion.
“I… I’m jus’ havin’ fun yea…” the drunk began to apologize to Grum.
“We all are, we all are,” Grum replied, putting the cup into his hireling’s hand and bringing it to his mouth to both get him to drink and to silence him. Vetnik stepped away from Moira and approached the men and agreed to escort the hireling to his room.

Lyssa looked over the gamblers, their pipe and cigarette smoke creating a cloud of smog that hovered in the room. She watched as they played dice games, shells, various card games, and chess. Lyssa zeroed in on a large, sweaty fat man with pipe dangling out of his mouth filled with rotted teeth. Beside him stood a contrast in size, a gaunt man in clothes too big for his size and too regal for his station (though stained and torn from wear.) She sauntered up to his table just as another man walked away from his table, seemingly in defeat.

“Taking bets?” she asked.
“Of course we are, lass. Three-Dragon Ante’s the game. You put your coin down, I’ll put mine down, and we all handle the outcome like big boys and girls, yeah?”
Lyssa slid into the empty seat across from the man. “I’m big girl.”
“And I’m a big man,” the sleazy gambler replied, grinning his horrid teeth. Lyssa bowed her head to conceal her eyes. She fumbled through her sack of gold and as she did, she closed her eyes and began to focus on the chaotic energies surrounding the fat man. Once she could feel the spell take hold of her victim, she lifted her head and set down 100gp. The pair played through their first hands, dealt by the fat man, and in turn she won 350gp from him.
“Heheheh, beginner’s luck. Eh, lass? You in for more?”
Lyssa reached into her sack of gold and put up her winnings plus another 100gp. The fat man took a deep puff of his pipe and looked over his cards. His smile broke as he surveyed them. Lyssa remained stone-faced as she revealed her hand. The fat man huffed as he tossed his useless hand against the table.
“I’m out! This table just got too rich for my blood, lass. At this rate, I’ll be losing my shirt!” the fat man said as he struggled to get himself up out of his seat.
“Boo hoo,” Lyssa jeered deadpan, scraping the coin over to her.
The fat man froze and stared her down. “Alright then, you wanna fucking go again you little trollop, we can go again!” The man yanked at his skinny companion’s blouse and whispered viciously into his ear. Lyssa tapped the toe of her boot against the pedestal of the table impatiently. Finally, the skinny man nervously emptied out his leather sack of all his gold., 1120gp! The skinny man nervously watched as his fat friend pushed in half of the pile and dealt both hands. Lyssa barely glanced at her cards before setting them down. The fat man’s face went ghost pale and struggled to show his hand. The skinny man scooped up the rest of his coin feverishly while the fat man yelled and called foul on Lyssa. His cries fell on deaf ears though and she picked up the rest of her winnings and headed back to the other half of the bar to rejoin the others. Passing Grum, who had watched the last hand take place from the doorway, he joked to her: “Shame, really. Had he been the least bit handsome, I might have made myself available to sooth his shattered ego.”

As the bar hours dwindled to closing, the party drifted off to their rooms one by one to sleep (all except Thom, who was kept awake by his insatiable companion, Melina.) In the morning, his companion watched as Thom intently as he studied his forms and sketched in his journal. She lay sprawled across his bed covered only in ringlets of plum-red hair and sunlight while he did his morning rituals, content to just be in his company. A sudden and hearty knock interrupted their quiet, peaceful morning.
“Thom?” Moira called out from the other side. The bard quickly took up his lady’s midnight blue cloak and draped it hurriedly over his nudity.
“Yes, Moira!” he said cracking the door open.
“I’ve secured a vessel for us back to Greyhawk, it will be ready within the hour.”
“Fantastic! Then I shall see you at the docks then,” he said, shooing her away. Thom quickly shut the door, threw off the robe and tossed it back to Melina before he began to gather his things.
“Do you have to leave so soon?” she mewed.
“I do, I must go to Greyhawk—“ he said, unable to cut himself off before revealing his destination.
“Greyhawk?” Melina asked, her sapphire eyes lighting up as she draped herself in the equally brilliant blue robe of hers. “Is that where you’re heading? I’ve always wanted to see Greyhawk!”
As Thom buckled the belt of his trousers, an idea crossed his mind. Thom fancied himself a perceptive judge of character, and her admiration for him seemed nothing but genuine. He reached into his sack and pulled out a gold coin. Looking her in the eyes, and flipped a coin her way. Thom watched as Melina reached out and snatched the coin out of the air, all without taking her eyes off of him. The pair smiled at each other before colliding for another, passionate kiss. “Let’s go to Greyhawk!”

Melina escorted Thom to the nearest general store to replenish supplies. After getting rations and equipment together, the pair made their way to the docks where they met with Moira and the others.
“Taking your pleasure with business?” Vetnik asked Thom very briskly.
“This is Melina,” Thom replied, addressing all in his party. “She is my charge.”
“New student, eh?” Trisoll nudged Thom in brotherly gest.
“Amongst other things,” Thom winked.
“Well done!” Trisoll laughed before Vetnik ushered him away. Melina looked to Thom, still optimistic and quite accustom to the playful ways of boys.
“If you’re all done gawking over Thom’s latest concubine,” Lyssa grumbled before boarding the ship.

Halfway through the ride back to Greyhawk across the Nyr Dyv, one of the hirelings spies a lightshow in the water.
“Look!” he called out, “below the water!”
The party – save for Lyssa, who’s lack of sea legs kept her nauseated and clinging to the center of the ship – rushed to see. The hireling pointed out a strange sight beneath the surface: a series of large globes of light that slowly trailed alongside the path of the boat.
“Let’s keep an eye on it, but nothing more.” Grum suggested. The party watched as the lights continued to float beneath the water until they dispersed and fluttered away behind the boat. After a few days of uneventful sailing, the party could spy the shores of Greyhawk in the distance. Their vision was obscured though by the sudden presence of a fog bank that hovered on the horizon.
“No, no, no!” Grum moaned as he whipped out his gem of seeing. The crystal revealed the truth about the nature of the fog. It was no bank of fog at all but rather a horde of buzzing insects humming above the surface of the water. “If any one has anything to get us past this, now’s the time to do it!”
Lyssa gathered up her nerve and with a rumbling stomach, she rushed to the bow of the ship. She opened her hand and summoned a torrent of wind and funnel straight through the throng of buzzing and stinging insects. The ship continued to sail towards the shores of Greyhawk but despite Lyssa’s best efforts, the swarm continued to advance!
Trisoll raced up to Lyssa’s side and stretched his hand out as she had hers. His eyes disappeared into a haze of faint white glow. “I suggest anyone who wishes not to get bitten come up the bow!”
The party quickly secured their horses beneath deck, gathered what weapons they could and crowded up behind both Trisoll and Lyssa. As the ship drifted towards the swarm, they watched as the insects zipped and buzzed at them with hungry fury, snipping with their alien jaws and stabbing with their barbed tails. The swarm fluttered around the party but found themselves stopped by an invisible barrier conjured by Trisoll. Repelled and frustrated, the insects moved on from their seemingly impenetrable prey. The party watched as the insects buzzed around the rest of the ship, and after finding nothing else on deck worth defiling, fluttered off into the distance behind them in search of an easier meal. The last hour was smooth sailing as they pulled into the docks of Greyhawk.

The party unloaded at the docks and discussed how the trade off for the items should take place.
“Do we want to set up a meeting with them?” Thom asked while the hirelings unloaded the horses and chests at the cargo gate.
“We ought to go to them, ourselves” Grum suggested. “Better business.”
“Why don’t we have them come to us?” Lyssa interjected
“Where do you suggest we meet them then? Pimpleton Manor?” Thom asked.
“We should deliver the goods.” Moira reasoned. “Perhaps there’s a third party venue?”
“What about that Friendly Strangers place over in Newhope?” Lyssa asked.
“Yeah, what about your mom’s place?” Trisoll followed up.
“Well, we have access to the VIP room” Grum
“And if something goes wrong, we always have Tic Toc to help us”

Moira sends word to the collector’s that they have returned and they wish to handle the trade off at Friendly Strangers post haste. Even now, Grunt can feel the buzz of Blackrazor’s hungry hum gnawing at the inside of his mind. Together, they made their way to Friendly Strangers and the Black brothers arranged to have a private room set up, ready for the meeting with Greyhawk’s most affluent. The party entered the cabaret during its afternoon matinee, where Tic Toc had already taken the stage to warm the crowd up with his unique brand of charismatic banter. The party is escorted to the back, where attendants prepare the room by lighting incense and lanterns and filling the buffet with assorted food and drink. The party waits for about an hour for the first of the collector’s to show.
“What do we even want from them?” Trisoll posed to his companions.
“Well, whatever it is it had better be individual to us.” Grum argues.
“Not necessarily. I mean, we could pull our resources together for strongholds, lands—“ Thom begins to reason.
“I don’t know, Thom. I mean, I kind of like having my own wish!” Trisoll rebuttals.
“What about you, Lyssa?” Thom asks the mage.
“I… I honestly don’t know yet.”
Before Vetnik could answer the bard, a knock came at the door followed by an attendant. “Master Black, you have a vistor,” the attendant announced before holding the door open for the first guest. “Captain Giltok.”
Moira and Vetnik stand promptly while Lyssa and Grunt meander up as the captain enters. He is an old dwarf, bald with a full and long beard of coarse silver hair. His uniform is decorated with an array of medals of Honor and valor. One in particular speaks to his time as Guard Captain of Greyhawk! Moira bows before the aged warrior as he limps in with his attendant.
“A second pair of visitors, from House Woodley: Barton and his daughter, Matrice.” The party remained standing as the rich Woodleys entered, both of dark features and garbed in rich, deep outfits appropriate of a family of their wealth and privilege. Those in the party with social graces bowed politely before the collectors, and noticing Vetnik decorated armor, responded accordingly – all except Matrice Woodley, whose father urged her to be more respectful.
“Master Black, a third visitor is here to see your party.”
“Who is it?” Thom answered back.
“Lord Eldon, sir,” the attendant replied, “of House Cerzan.”
All of sudden Lyssa seemed to tense up as Eldon Cerzan entered the room. She did little to hide her discomfort with his presence, though the room was dimly lit.
“Shall we begin then?” Thom said, ushering both parties over to a long empty table.

Captain Giltok spoke first, “I am Jardan Giltok, former Guard Captain of this fair city. So you have retrieved Whelm for me?”
Vetnik pulls it out and places it upon the table.
“Oh, I thought I’d never see it again. I cannot thank you enough, kind sir. Whelm belonged Beldak Tenandin who fell at the Battle of the Black Deep and I have held it ever since. This is a very special weapon for my family and I. I thank you good sir knight, and your companions, for returning it safely.”
As Captain Giltok took the hammer up from the table into his hands, Thom approached with Wave in his.
“Ah yes!” Lord Eldon exclaimed, taking the trident into his hands. “My gift to the temple of the great Poseidon, built to honor him just outside of Bayerton. Safe! I cannot thank you enough, bard. I cannot believe we all are here, truly you are all great warriors!”
Before the Woodleys could approach and before Grunt could unburden himself of Blackrazor, Lyssa whispered to him. “Give me the sword.” He barely looked to the mage and without resistance, passed the sword to her before stepping back and taking a seat, scabbard and all.
Blackrazor’s ego spiked as she as she took the blade into her hand. “Yesss mistress, you will feed me! I hunger! Long days at sea without anything to eat!”
“Hello, I am Barton Woodley and I am here for Blackrazor—“ the socialite began before noticing he was addressing Lyssa alone. “Matrice, darling, these brave people were kind enough to bring your sword back.”
Matrice stayed seated in her chair, rolling her eyes at the tedious exchange. “I told you, I want the Amulet of the Planes! I don’t care about this stupid sword any more. Daddy it’s beautiful, not like that tired old sword. I can’t wear a sword around my neck!”
“Cortox take me.” Barton moaned to himself.

Lyssa approached the table with Blackrazor in hand and faced Barton Woodley. Before he could continue to address Lyssa, she drew the blade out of its embroidered scabbard, turned to Eldon Cerzan who stood in between the captain and the socialite, and lifted up the shimmering black sword.
“You!” Lyssa said, her glare as pointed as him as the blade in her hand.
“I beg… I beg your pardon,” Eldon began to stammer, confused by the now-hostile exchange. Moira stepped forward and planted herself directly behind Lyssa, ready to tame the mercurial mage should anything start to go awry. The rest of the party was now on alert, ready for the worst but hoping for the best. Lyssa kept her eyes on Eldon Cerzan though, and without taking them away, she slammed the sword down upon the thick wooden table. The crashing sound seemed to shake Eldon but only for a moment.
“You do not recognize me, do you Lord Eldon?” Lyssa asked.
“N-n-no, should I?” he replied with increasing composure.
“Of course you don’t. I only toiled away on your farms in Bayerton, my family and I for more than two decades.”
“Ah, you mean my father’s lands.” Eldon replied, trying to deflect Lyssa’s aggression. “For which I know he’s always been tremendously thankful, now, if you could please just put the sword on the—“
“What are you offering us for these items? All of you?” Lyssa barked, the ego of Blackrazor weaving through her mind like a hissing black snake.
“Wh-what is it you all seek? I mean you have all completed your tasks quite… completely.” Eldon continued to stammer. “However, Barton—“
“Look, my lady, if it’s the blade you desire, we can discuss a price. Frankly, my daughter has lost interest in the thing, and I have no attachment to it beyond its worth.”
“Daddy, can we leave now?” Matrice whined.
“No! This is business,” her father scolded in return. He returned his attention to the party before him. “You all have completed the request of the contract and retrieved all three items. Now, what is it you wish to gain from us?”

Lyssa stepped back, Blackrazor still in hand and allowed her companions to take the floor. Thom was first to speak and most eager to do so. “For starters, I would like land and a stronghold!”
“Are we to build this stronghold for you?” Barton asked.
“Or give me the funds and the materials for it.”
“I believe I can assist with this,” Eldon began, “I have a parcel of land you might find suitable. One of my trading companies will supply you will all the stone you need. The men to construct this stronghold of yours, however, that is up to you. I will provide the materials and the land alone.” With a snap of his fingers, Eldon’s attendant rushed up to his side. After a few whispered words from Eldon to his attendant, Eldon turned back to Thom with a slight smile across his face. “You will have the land signed over to you before sundown.” Thom took Eldon’s hand and shook it heartily. “Grum?”
“Same thing, I suppose.”
Lord Eldon looked hesitant at first and returned to the hushed conversation between he and his attendant. His attendant paused and pulled a map from out of his coat and unfurled it onto the table. On it was a elegantly penned map of Greyhawk and its bordering lands (including Bayerton in Furyondy.) Eldon and his assistant surveyed the map quickly and marked off a dark spot of land opposite of Thom’s plot. “Yes, that seems doable. There is a parcel of land available to you in these marshes over here. They will require a bit more development, but again, the materials will be at your disposal and are yours to do with as you like.”
Grum takes Eldon’s hands and shakes just as his brother did. “Grunt, what do you require?”
“Ruby slippers,” the gloomy scout grumbled from behind the Black brothers.
“If its jeweled footwear y’seek—“ Captain Giltok began, confused by the hooded man’s queer request.
“Excuse my companion, captain,” Grum began to apologize, “he’s not quite used to these sorts of exchanges, yet.”
“Then perhaps some kind of favor from the Guild of Mages, perhaps?” Barton suggested.
“No! No magic. No money either,” Grunt more boisterously replied. He continued to mutter under his breath, “What good is being rich in a world I don’t want to be in any way?”
“Well boy, if it’s not land nor magic you require, what is it you seek? Money? A new weapon to take Blackrazor’s place?” Barton replied impatiently.
Grunt took a pause at the prospect of a new weapon. While he hated having Blackrazor’s influence in his head, the blade’s power was unmistakable. Barton took notice and whispered to his attendant briefly before excusing him.
“There is a longbow in my possession called (INSERT BOW NAME). It is free of ego and its aim is always true. The make of it is adamantine steel yet light as a feather. You won’t find a better bow outside of Enstad this I guarantee. My attendant will have it for you very soon.”

Moira stepped forward and requested a parcel of land from any of the men who could donate it to her. “Something as close to Greyhawk as possible, my lords.”
“I’m sure there’s something I can spare in the southern outskirts of the city,” Barton informed. “Again, what you do with it is your lot to determine. I’m sure Lord Eldon and I can come together to figure out how to divvy up materials.”
“Understood, my lord. Cortox’s blessing to you,” Moira said, bowing her head in gratitude.
Trisoll approached the table and as he did, he casually rested his hand upon Lyssa’s shoulder. “Well, sirs,” he began before realizing whose space he was encroaching upon. Taking his hand back, he leaned over towards the map and looked over the lands marked off for his companions. “There,” he pointed at a spot marked off in Woodley territory to the northeast.
“So it’s land you seek as well?” Barton asked bluntly as he pulled the map away from the unceremonious cleric.
“Yeah, well. I figure it’s time to really get a sanctuary together. I mean, Trithereon—“
“Yes, very good,” Barton continued, interrupting the cleric. “And what about you,” he asked exasperated by the stream of requests and Matrice’s waning patience. “What do you, my lady?”
“I want my home, and I know between your three powerful houses, you’ll be able to give it to me.”
“You want your home?” Lord Eldon asked before stepping back to hand the floor back to Barton.
“Yes, I want what is rightfully mine.”
“And what is rightfully yours?”
“Castle Greyhawk.”
The three men took a brief pause and looked to each other before looking back at her. Unable to contain themselves, they burst into a chorus of nervous laughter. “Oh, if we had the means to explore that massive ruin, it would have been done long ago!” Captain Giltok said, his weathered cheeks rosy with hearty laughter. “The dangers that lie within the castle of the madman, there’s no — that is beyond even our reach and power!”
“Well, you could give it to her as is,” Thom reasoned.
“I believe it belongs to no one!” Barton replied.
“It belongs to me,” Lyssa revealed, stifling the men’s laughter.
“I beg your pardon, my lady?” Barton asked. “It belongs to you? That was the ruinous castle of Zagyg the Mad, dear girl!”
“It is my birthright!”
“Is this true?” Thom asked Lyssa, knowing of the rumored, sordid history of the ruins of Castle Greyhawk through prose and verse penned by famous bards and storytellers. She was unresponsive though and continued to stare Barton and Eldon down.
“We cannot do that as we do not possess those lands. Those lands belong to whatever foul things dwell in it now.” Barton began. Suddenly, realizing Blackrazor was still under her hand, he continued. “What we can do though is make sure that Greyhawk recognizes you as its legal owner. Do with that what you will, but the ruins will be your responsibility.”
“Fine,” Lyssa said before releasing Blackrazor from her hand and sliding it casually across the table to Barton.

“And what of you, good sir knight?” Captain Giltok asked the silent cavalier. “What is it you seek from us?”
“I wish to go home,” he replied coldly. The party’s head whipped to face the cavalier in shock. Even Lyssa jerked her head around, confused by the knight’s request.
“Vetnik?” Moira asked, shaken by his request.
“It’s time for me to go home,” he said, hesitant to face his companions.
“Malarkey!” Thom cried out. “Vetnik, you came here to represent your nation, you can’t leave now! Trade, exploration, education… your people know how to be themselves, but you have an opportunity to bring something back to them!”
“My people need me. My family needs me.”
“We need you,” Moira pleaded, taking his hand into hers.
While the display of affection had always seemed to make Lyssa uncomfortable, she too spoke up for the prince to stay. “Ugh, why don’t you just ask these men if they have something that can send you to and form?
Vetnik looked up at Lyssa with frustration across his face. As the party did their best to reason through the stubbornness of the cold prince, the collectors quietly gathered their things and prepared to leave the party to bicker with each other. Matrice was quickest to the door and Barton’s attendant hastened to keep up with her. Barter sighed and picked up Blackrazor, placing it back into its scabbard as he sauntered after his daughter. Lord Eldon seemed dubious to leave, but seeing Lyssa preoccupied with Vetnik and the others, quickly rolled up his map and stepped hastily towards the exit, using Barton as a human shield of sorts. Captain Giltok was last to leave, and as he did, he had no bones about interrupting the party’s discussion. He patted the cavalier on his gauntlet and nodded up to him.
“Yes, well, it appears ye got more thinking to do, good sir knight. When you figure out what it is you really want, come visit me. I won’t be hard to find.”

Before Captain Giltok could leave the private room, the sound of a war horn echoed outside. The party stopped their squabbling and froze, listening for the sound of more horns. The cabaret came to a standstill, as patrons and performers alike waited as well. Indeed, only moments later, a second horn sounded across town, followed by a third and a forth from opposite directions. Vetnik turned and rushed to the door. “Pardon me, captain,” he excused himself as he passed the aged Dwarf.
“By all means,” he said as he stepped aside and made way for the rest of the party.
Outside of the cabaret, Vetnik untethered his stallion and watched as the city guard and militiamen poured out of the Grand Citadel and rushed towards the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. Archers and siege weapon operators rushed towards up the hill to the ruins of Castle Greyhawk while warriors on horseback raced and emptied out of the Cargo Gate nearby. Over the war horns, Vetnik could only hear one creature mentioned: “GIANTS!” He hopped upon his steed but before making their way to the Cargo Gate, Moira reached out and tugged at his boot.
“One last glory before you go?”
“One last time.” The pair nodded at each other and Moira climbed up onto the horse. She wrapped her arms around his waist and together they rode off, fast as they could to the city gate.

As Thom and the rest of the party emptied out of the cabaret, he saw the current Guard Captain, Garyn Waller, leading a squad of men on horseback towards the gate.
“Guard Captain!” Thom called out, “What’s going on?”
“Giants are on their way down the Cairn Hills! Hill and Stone alike, working in tandem!” Guard Captain Waller shouted back before catching up with his men.
Thom and his companions shuttered as what might have provoked them. It was no time to be introspective though; war was racing towards the city wall! Thom rubbed the empty groove of his ring and as he did the space of the groove flickered with dim, white light. Suddenly, Thom lifted himself straight up into the air and took flight! Flying high above the town, he made his way towards Castle Greyhawk, where beyond it, he saw more than a dozen large bodies rushing towards the city from the hills. Thom himself was all too familiar with the make of the oafish Hill Giants, but this had been his first encounter with the legendary Stone Giants. They were taller and more athletic, with mottled grey skin that made it look as if the mountains themselves had taken shape. In their hands, the Giants wielded boulders and tree trunks banded together to make extraordinarily thick clubs. Thom raced towards the Cargo Gate and watched as others took flight: mages from the University wielding all manner of spells, magical wands and staves.

Another man all too familiar with the veracity of Giants was Zemilay Lyks. From Pimpleton Manor, he and his family could hear the war horns sound, followed by the clamor of warriors and screaming of civilians, capped by the sound of rocks crashing against the city walls. He urged Burbis, George, and his darling wife Xanti to take shelter beneath the house. They did as they were told and hid in the cellar. Lyks limped out of his house and just as he descended down the steps, two sights took his attention. The first was a spell cast on the house by none other than Burbis Baggleton, which transformed the manor into a ruined husk. Immediately after, he watched as a particularly large boulder crashed against one of the towers of Castle Greyhawk and slid down back into the Selitan River. He put his fingers to his lips and let out a boisterous whistle and only moments later, his faithful Pegasus, Snowflake, galloped to the druid’s side. Snowflake leaned down and allowed for easier access for the hobbled druid, and together they flew as fast as they could to Castle Greyhawk.

Lyssa and Grum rushed to Castle Greyhawk to take position with the archers. Grum did his best to hone his ears on the chaos of the city, but could not yet discern why the Giants were ambushing. Before he could depart the cabaret, Grunt was stopped by a vaguely familiar man: Barton’s attendant, who cradled a large object wrapped in silk embroidered with the crest of House Woodley. “Sir!”
“What now?”
“Sir the bow you requested. (INSERT NAME HERE)!”
Grunt unwrapped the bow and tossed the silk to the ground (to which the attendant quickly reached down and folded it back up for later use.) Grunt quickly surveyed the ornate thing; he had yet to possess anything so finely crafted, but something irregular stuck out to him. “Where’s the bloody string?!”
“I know only little about (INSERT NAME HERE), but this bow possesses an invisible string that materializes only after your arrows are nocked.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Grunt said, pushing the nervous attendant aside before catching up with the others at Castle Greyhawk.

Grum broke away from Lyssa, who continued onwards up the ruins of Castle Greyhawk where a squad of archers readied themselves for battle. On the way out of the Cargo Gate, Grum spotted his teacher and recently appointed head of the Thieves Guild, Thurman Dietrien, leading a band of thieves with bows and blades in hand. “Thurman! Do you know what brought these ugly bastards down from the hills?”
“Rumor has it, the hallowed tombs were sacked by thieves from Greyhawk. Nystra’s doings, no doubt! Who else would have been foolish enough to rob the giant dead?”
Grum’s stomach sunk as he ran alongside his teacher. “Yeah.”
As the thieves raced out of the city, they watched as rocks and debris crashed down upon the first wave of warriors. Clerics from every good-natured church rushed the battlefield, dragging back the injured to heal and taking the bodies of the dead to be buried appropriately. Up on the hill, Lyssa stood on high and watched as the cadre of giants raced closer and closer towards the city, bashing and stomping those standing in their way. As the archers took up their bows, she called out to them. “Archers, ready your arrows,” she shouted with fiery red eyes. The captain of the archers gave her once glance and supported her call to arms. “Ready, men!” The twenty archers at her side did as commanded and as they nocked their bows back, their arrowheads burst into magical flame simultaneously. “Steady!” she continued as she watched the giants barrel closer and closer.

Down on the ground, Trisoll made his way towards the front line and began to call upon Trithereon once more. A shimmering mist of teal green emanated from Trisoll’s body and wafted around the soldiers from Greyhawk, bestowing upon them a cloak of bravery.

Lyks and Snowflake hovered in the air over the battlefield. Lyks concentrated on a section of debris set ablaze by a mage’s fireball and as the blurry haze of heat sizzled in the palm of his hand, the flame began to take shape. At first it appeared as a serpent of pure flame that slithered out of the debris, but as Lyks continued to concentrate, the coil of flame lurched upright before flaming, humanlike arms burst from the sides, followed by a leg and then a second. Between the armies of Greyhawk and the rushing Giants stood an imposing and scorching sight: an elemental being of pure fire! The creature lumbered towards the giants leaving scorched earth with every step. The arms of the elemental became more fluid and serpentlike with every striking blow. Giants howled as the fire elemental’s fiery hands slashed across their barely-covered skin and set fire to the wood of their makeshift clubs. The giants barely had time to get the bearings when all of a sudden, a large sword of glowing, crystal blue energy materialized in the center of the battlefield. It hovered vertically only for a moment before the blade surged and spawned seven more blades of a similar make. The vertical blades began to spin together slowly at first, but before the giants could approach or back away, the blades dropped in unison to a horizontal position. The cries of the giants echoed throughout the battlefield as the whirling blade barrier hacked into those unwise enough to be in its path. Giantblood flowed down through the singed grass of the hill towards the Cargo Gate as the armies of Greyhawk cheered. Lyks looked around and could only see a single priest floating in the air below him, seemingly controlling the blade barrier from afar. The blade barrier disappeared and the giants charged towards the city with bloody fury. Both giants and Greyhawkians marched and fell, with all manner of attack zipping through the air: everything from boulders and tree trunks ripped from the earth to fireballs and lightning bolts cast down from mages.

Settling with another band of archers, Grunt spent a few moments observing the giants attacking the city. His eyes were fixed on a vocal Stone giant dressed in furs and leathers and decorated in white earth clay. This was most certainly their chieftain. Feeling ambitious, Grunt took up (INSERT NAME HERE) and held it just as he would any other longbow. It’s weight was remarkable though, and as he began to nock back an arrow, the air swirled around his finger tips and a thin, mercury-like string began to appear, stretching the length of the bow. “Let’s see what you can do,” he grumbled to himself before firing. He drew back effortlessly and fired; the arrow zipped across the battlefield with unparalleled speed. The shock of the bow’s range startled even the cynical scout. While the arrow traveled far, his inexperience with the weapon did little to help his form as he watched it fly out of range of the chieftain, who bellowed at the sight of the arrow zipping by. Mere seconds later, a voice from the level above Grunt called out. It was Lyssa: “FIRE!” A wave of flaming arrows was then set loose into the sky and Grunt watched as the arrows rained down upon the giants, boring themselves into their bodies. The siege weapons followed and catapulted jagged rock and flaming refuse down onto the giant hordes. As the chieftain continued to bark at his charges to avoid the onslaught of projectiles launched at them by the armies of Greyhawk, Grum took his place on the wall and aimed his arrows. The chieftain proved nimble once more, jerking his head out of the path of Grum’s arrows.

Vetnik and Moira made it onto the battlefield as both giant and man continued to have it out. Moira leaped off the back of the horse while Vetnik continued to ride. “By Cortox!” Moira cried out as she cut low with Starstrike in hand. Vetnik charged at the same Stone Giant with sword and shield and with their combined strength, fell the tall beast. As the giant collapsed to the ground, Vetnik rode up beside the paladin, their faces both flush with the passion of battle. Moira looked up at him and smiled and without word, he extended his arm to her. She leaped back onto his steed and together they continued on. Back at Castle Greyhawk, the archers loosed a second wave of arrows. Whether it was the number of giants being thinned or the lack of fire attached to them, the archers were less successful in their hits the second time around. The giants mobilized and took up the rocks and debris launched at them by the siege weapons and turned their artillery against them. Despite their thinning ranks, the giants pushed forward. The various clergy even took casualties of their own while attending to the wounded and the dead. In an effort to protect the armies of his city, Lyks conjured a hallucinatory forest between the giants and Greyhawk. Trisoll concentrated on the creatures dwelling beneath the earth and the armies watched as all manner of legged and squirming insect burrowed out of the ground in countless numbers to inch their way up the legs of the giants. The armies hacked and slashed at the giants, who now struggled to keep their footing thanks to the combination of father and son. Meanwhile, Grunt kept his eyes on the chieftain and continued to fire. While the bow still proved something of a challenge to wield at first, Grunt quickly began to warm to it. His second shot proved more effective as he watched it fly across the field and into the clavicle of the chieftain. He ripped the arrow out of his neck and growled for his men to double up!

While in midair, Thom drew his Kettle of Drumming! While cradling the kettle under his arm, he began to beat upon the side of the artifact. A strange, metallic sound echoed across the battlefield. The giants clasped their ears shut with their hands, unable to bear the sound of the Thom’s beat. So offended by the sound, the stone giant chieftain took up a nearby boulder and flung it at the flying bard. Before he could move out of range, the boulder collided into Thom and sent he and his kettle careening back towards the earth. A hill giant takes similar actions by launching his boulder towards the ruins of Castle Greyhawk towards the tower occupied by Grunt and Lyssa. The heavy rock collided into the crowds of archers, crushing a number of them – including Grunt! Lyssa too felt the effects of the crash, which shook her team of archers from below. Lyssa stumbled to the floor and watched as the last of the giants continued to mow down the armies of Greyhawk. Filled with rage, Grum unleashed two more arrows at the now laughing stone giant chieftain, but his rage proved to be his undoing as the arrows flew aimlessly and missed. While the archers staggered back to their feet to prepare a third round of arrows, Lyssa took notice Grum and Grunt’s attack on the chieftain. Once in her sights, she quickly armed herself with her longbow and nocked a single arrow. Using the focus and breathing techniques taught to her by the Black brothers, she calmed herself and steadied her aim. With a soft exhale, she released the arrow and watched as it descended down onto the battlefield. The chieftain watched the arrow zip from the tower and before he could react, Lyssa’s arrow burrowed into the eye of painted chieftain with such fury that it shot out of the back of his skull, raining flesh, blood and brain matter down upon the ground. The chieftain sunk to his knees and collapsed onto the ground to the sound of Greyhawkians cheering all around.

From above, Lyks called down to the Hill Giants still standing: “YOUR CHIEFTAIN HAS FALLEN! SURRENDER NOW WHILE YOU STILL HAVE LIVES LEFT TO SAVE!” The last few giants took a pause and turned to each other then at the gore of their fallen chieftain. An eerie moment of calm descended upon the battlefield accompanied by heavy grey clouds that blocked out the remaining sun. The moment was short-lived. The giants banded together and let out a series of chilling war cries, beating their chests and taking up arms before rushing the city wall. Together they flung boulders, tree parts and even the corpses of fallen Greyhawkians back at the opposing armies, destroying a good portion of siege weapons as well as warriors. One stone giant tore off the arm of a fallen giant and launched it to a squad of archers like a horrid javelin, decimating their ranks. Wasting no more time, Grum fired off two more arrows, sticking and felling one of the few remaining hill giants. The grey clouds darkened and began to rumble with the sound of thunder. Lyks extended his staff away from himself, out towards the sky and with a war cry of his own, cast down a lightning bolt from the clouds that traveled through his gnarled wooden staff and down upon the battlefield, electrifying a remaining stone giant. Back down on the ground, Thom staggered back up to his feet and cast burning hands on a nearby giant, immolating it. Grunt got on his feet as well as launched a pair of arrows into a lumbering hill giant, both of which pierced deep into its flesh and fell it. Moira wildly slashed at another hill giant, cutting at its knees and shins. Unable to stand anymore, the giant buckled to the ground. Before it could call out for help, Moira drove Starstrike deep into the eye of the giant, slaying it for good.
“Can your lady do that?” Moira quipped to Vetnik. Feeling renewed with vigor, the last few archers banded together to unleash another wave of arrows into the giants. Those manning the siege weapons were not so lucky, as one catapult wielding flaming debris exploded, lowering the city’s defense. The mages continued to conjure the most powerful spells at their disposal while elementals of fire and air swirled and stomped wildly across the battlefield. The clergymen and women struggled to secure the soldiers, but did what they could as lightning continued to crackle above. Seeing the last few giants fend off the attacks from the armies of Greyhawk, Lyssa’s patience reached a tipping point. Whether it was bloodlust or wild surge, she unleashed a massive fireball down upon them that exploded with a great amber glow that engulfed those still left standing.

Those who did not fall quickly wised up and began their retreat, leaving behind the smoking and bloodied bodies of the fallen. Lyks helped to calm the skies, dismissed the fire elemental he had conjured, and descended down onto the battlefield. It was there that he found his dear friend Thom limping across the field. The bard was a bloodied and bruised mess. Lyks climbed down off of Snowflake and hobbled towards.
“Dear boy!” Lyks called out, rushing as quickly as he could. Thom picked up his pace as well, excited to see his old friend. The pair embraced in a gentlemanly hug and held tight to each other. As they embraced, Zemilay Lyks began to channel the very essence of the earth beneath them. Veins of glowing green energy inched their way up out of the earth and surrounded the pair, dissolving into Thom’s battered body. He could feel the broken bones inside snap back together; the torn sinew of muscles rethread itself; and the gashes that marred his face seal shut. “Thank you, Master Lyks!”
“Next time, try not to get hit by a giant’s boulder.”

Grum, Grunt and the other thieves armed with bows continued to fire off arrows at the defeated giants, cheering and laughing as they landed. Vetnik and Moira watched together as the last of the giants crossed the horizon. Together they tended to their wounded, helping the clerics to take them off the field before running into Trisoll, who spent his time healing those in need. The clouds now fully parted, Lyssa opened a dimension door – much to the awe of the surviving archers – and through it they could see the blasted head of the stone giant chieftain. She stepped through and the door disappeared. On the other side, she spent some time looking over the body of the chieftain for relics. “Surely,” she thought to herself, “he’d have something just as useful as the enchanted belt she’d taken off the hill giant chieftain.” Alas, she found nothing but bloodied garments and weapons too large for her to wield. She looked around, and seeing no one in sight, began to dig into the still-warm corpse of the chieftain in search of components for spells and potions. While Vetnik helped a nearby cleric cart off an injured soldier, Moira looked to the sky and the setting sun. She turned back to Vetnik, the sun sparkling off his armor, and spun him around. Without announcement, she quickly pulled his face close to hers and planted a warm and passionate kiss upon his lips. She pulled back quickly and the pair looked into each other’s eyes, and lingered there for a moment. The sun danced across their faces, glistening from sweat and stained with giant’s blood, their eyes swelling with a gamut of emotions. The cheering of men and the sound of horns break their moment and the separate to see a mix of triumph and mourning among the Greyhawkians.

On her way back towards the city, Lyssa passed both Vetnik and Moira, who both seemed quite solemn as they walked side by side. Passing Vetnik, Lyssa remarked one last thing: “Where else would you be able to slay giants?”

The party all agree to convene at Pimpleton Manor to celebrate their victory and see Vetnik off should he truly decide to leave. Beforehand, Thom goes to the library to do a quick round of research while Lyssa returns home to drop off items and consult the Eye of Modius about what lurks in Castle Greyhawk. A wave of vivid images flood her mind: three ruined towers, level upon level upon level of, horrors, traps and fiends. The idea that so very much evil and reward could be so very close all this time is staggering. More than 25 separate levels flash by in an instant. A few takeaways; a being whose form is naught but swirling light, Umber Hulks standing over an impressive treasure, a dead human laying face down only feet away from a portal, a straw bed filled with maggots, a 6 foot pyramid of packed earth, a stone drawbridge with glowing chains, a circle of runes surrounded by white incense sticks in deep purple sconces, a dozen female giants and their spawn and lastly, an aged red dragon before the vision becomes too much.

Where There is Light


“Are you my champion?” the sentient trident asked Grunt telepathically. Grunt rolled his eyes as he carried Wave out of the refuse of bones back to the party. Though the trident had spoken with him, he could feel a separate force compelling him to another in his party.
“Here,” he said, showing off the bronze trident to his companions. The party took a moment to look over the strange and delicate details of the object: on side of the trident, an elegantly carved octopus entangled itself around and through the forks and came together to frame the carved face of a bearded man, also cast from bronze. Grunt held the trident for all to see, but he could feel the strange force guiding it towards Thom. The men met eyes (or what Thom could make of eyes underneath Grunt’s oversized cowl) and as Thom took Wave into his hand, a sudden and calming sensation washed over him. The scent of salty sea air wafted into his nose as Wave began to download its history into him.
“My champion!” Wave exclaimed as it revealed its power to Thom. The artifact was made in honor of the sea god Poseidon and was even imbued with the sea god’s holy blessing. Just as Whelm seemed to hone Thom’s senses to the precious metals that surrounded him, Wave also had a similar effect. Thom’s brain tingled with jolts of psychic energy as Wave connected him to the feeble minds of the water-dwelling creatures still in the mountain. From the mindless cave fish that swam through the suspended water wall around them to the final glint of life in the giant crab before completely dying.

“They like finding me as much as I like finding them!” Thom smiled as he belted the trident to his back. The electricity in Thom’s mind stopped as he removed his hand from Wave and severed his connection to the aquatic life forms that remained.
“Looks like we got what we came here for. What say you all about making sure there’s nothing else left for us here in the mountain?”
“I say we got what we came here for and now it’s time to go,” Lyssa answered.
“I’m all for getting more coin,” Grunt began, “but if we go back, what’s not to say that someone or something hasn’t reset the traps we’ve disarmed or summoned a bigger pain in the ass to take us out?”
“All we need to do is figure out how to get through that turnstile,” Moira began to reason.
“And if it’s a dead end, or worse?” Lyssa
The party backtracked out of the crab’s cave, shutting the trio of heavy-duty metal doors shut behind them before cutting around the pool of the slain kelpies. They filed out into the corridor and continued south back towards the hall of the Gynosphinx. The party entered and found the beast still perched on her dais facing the main entrance.

They exit back south, closing doors behind them, and head through the kelpie’s chamber. They go to cross the pool. Thom lays out more rope and they make it across the drained pool. They pass through the hall of former green slime through the flesh golem room back to the turnstile. They pass through the turnstile w/o incident, Grum leading them through. They enter southwards and Grum spies a door at the end. They dop and Thom hears the sound of steam. Moira doesn’t detect anything evil behind the door. They enter onto a stone platform and see a large natural cave. The floor is 50’ below a pool of boiling mud. Lyssa takes the rope while Thom keeps time on the mud and she flies over the platforms. As she ties it off, hot mud splashes against the rope. Grunt crosses w/o incident, impressing Grum with his agility. While Grum climbs, the geyser erupts off rhythm. He flips off the rope and grabs it once the geyser calms. The warriors and Trisoll cross safely. Thom is last, having kept rhythm for the entire party. As Thom climbs across he falls but grabs onto the slimy chain of the platform and clings to it. He climbs up to the chain back to the rope and makes his way across.

They collect the rope and approach a door. No noise, no traps or locks. Grum opens into a 50’ corridor with a door at the end, normal yet swollen by the humid cave air. Grum offers to open it and he pops it open with a bit of strain. Suspended from the ceiling are 9 silver glass globes. They enter and the door slams shut behind them (Lyssa), the keyhole and door knob now gone. The brothers and Grunt search the room for some kind of trap mechanism or secret exit. Thom uses Whelm to detect anything of wealth in the room. He feels gems very close by while Grum and Grunt try to pry open the lock but discover that there is no keyhole to be picked! Vetnik charges the door but the seemingly frail wooden door is like concrete when attacked. Grum looks for the gems

“Does that mean there’s gems in these globes?” Tri
“Grum, use your gem!” Lys

Grum inspects the globes and finds inside of them a key and some other object inside. Lyssa takes a moment to consult the Eye of Modius to see if she can discern the way out. The message is cold and vague at first but she finds out that not all of the globes hold treasures – some hold peril!

“Well, we could rest. I assume if nothing can escape, then nothing can get in.”
“Good idea. Lyssa, can you see about opening a dimension door out of here?”
“I’ll have to study for a little bit, but I can try.”

While Lyssa relearns her spells, Grum inspects a couple of the globes. The first he can hear the sound of glass against glass. The second is heavier. He and Vetnik go back to the first and Vet tries to cut the cord, but finds the cord impenetrable. He smashes the globe and glass gems and a key rain down. Thom discerns that inauthenticity by hovering Whelm over it. When he picks up the key, a keyhole appears on the door. Grum moves on to a third globe which is lighter. He hears the key jingle against other metal. Lyssa tries to dimension door out but the spell is blocked. Vetnik smashes a second globe open and sees a ring and key fall out. Thom discerns that the ring is a charged ring of flying. He slips it onto his finger. Vetnik shatters a third globe and finds a wand and a third key. Thom discloses that the wand is a wand of paralyzation. Vetnik smashes another globe and out falls a vial of liquid, which both he and Thom are quick to catch. Thom discovers the vial full of mercury, a potion of silver dragon control.

Trisoll takes the key from the fake gem globe, tries to open door with it but it fails. Grunt pulls out Blackrazor and he detects his party members before approaching another globe. He detects no soul.

“Well, at least there’s not a dragon in there.”

Trisoll checks a second key, from the potion globe, but doesn’t unlock. He uses the key with the wand but again, nothing happens. He tries the forth, with the ring of flying, and finds it’s also false. Vetnik smashes a globe in the center of the room and as a result releases three Shadows. Moira tries to turn them but fails miserably. They set their sights on her. Grum strikes with Slå and delivers a mighty blow. Thom incinerates the other two. Grunt fires two arrows at the final one but both miss. Vetnik strikes with a longsword and fells it. Among their remains, they leave a pool of 300 lead pieces. Trisoll rushes and takes the shadows’ key and attempts to use it but it also proves useless. Vetnik smashes another globe and out falls a ring and another key. The speaks to the telepathically. While the others argue over the powerful ring, Lyssa takes the key from the globe and successfully unlocks the door. Thom rolls between himself and Trisoll for the ring, which Trisoll wins. Grunt lusts after it but Trisoll quickly puts it on. He goes in and out of visibility.

Thom contains the ooze with a cube of force c/o Wave.

Thom uses his ring to fly across, Lyssa flies herself across and casts levitate on Grum, pulling him forward. Thom casts fly on Moira and Vetnik who carry Grunt and Trisoll respectively. At the turnstile, Vetnik and Grum try to turn it but fail. Grunt attempts and forces it open. They head out towards the Sphinx and are stopped by an invisible object. A voice calls out to them:

“Not thinking of leaving, are you?” asked a desiccated voice that echoed through the Gynosphinix’s chamber. The sphinx looked up and softly shuddered to itself before climbing down off of her stone dais as fast as her aged body could. The party watched the sphinx lurch into a corridor; now alone with only a row of flickering torches lining the walls of the chamber, the voice continued to speak. “You have been so entertaining, I just could not think of letting you go, especially with those little collector’s items of mine. And since you have eliminated all of my guardians, why, you will simply have to stay… to take their places.” The party drew their weapons and clamored close around each other as the hoarse voice let out an echoing cackle. “I will have to ask you to leave all of your ridiculous weapons behind and let Nix and Nox escort you to the Indoctrination Center.” The flickering torches that lined the walls of the Gynosphinx’s chamber erupted into small geysers of flame as the crunch of heavy, lumbering feet against the stone corridor sounded. The scent of burning coal and smoke began to fill the hall but the party looked all around them, down into the shadowy corridor, and struggled to find a source. “I will be most disappointed if you cause me any trouble and Nix and Nox have to eliminate you. Do not worry – you will like it here.” The voice let out one last despicable laugh and as his voice echoed away, two figures began to emerge out of the dark corridor. The pair were identical in nearly every way, from their muscled bodies covered in cracked and spiked rust-colored flesh to the series of ebon horns decorating their heads like crowns, their brows furrowed and framed glowing ember eyes as they set sights upon the party. Fully emerged from the darkness, they dwarfed all in the party (including Moira and Vetnik), towering over them at 12’ feet tall each! They looked down upon the party and as they grinned, the party could see a burning amber glow behind their pristine rows of fanged teeth.

Vetnik braved the pair of djinn first as he broke from circle, cutting into Nix with his longsword. His blade drew not blood but thick, liquid magma that slowly seeped from the wound before cauterizing itself and sealing itself shut. Nix’s grin turned to grimace as he let out a ferocious war cry. Terrified, Trisoll moved towards the back of the party and began to pray to Trithereon for protection from the magical fires of the Efreet. While Trisoll prayed, Grum pulled Lyn and Slå from their holsters and swiped at the roaring Efreeti with his electric blades. Unfortunately, Grum’s swiftness made for sloppy technique as Nix casually dodged his blades. Grunt, meanwhile, could feel the energy of both Efreet vibrating towards him, a vibration that did not go unnoticed by Blackrazor.
“Yessss!” its sinister voice buzzed through Grunt’s brain. Drawing the blade, Grunt’s eyes disappeared into glossy black voids through which he could make out the vibrations of life energy more clearly. His blood pumping rapidly, he swung at Nox with all of his might but he too proved to be as nimble as his brother.
“By Cortox, I banish you devils!” Moira called out as she charged past Vetnik and Grunt, Starstrike glistening in her hands. She drove the blade as hard as she could into the belly of the Efreeti, and once more piping hot magma began to spill from the wound down upon the blade. Moira stared down the djinn, their eyes intensely meeting as Moira held the blade in place.
“Look out!” Thom called out to Moira. She turned around and watched him rush forward carrying the hammer, Whelm, in both hands. In one fluid movement, Moira yanked Starstrike from Nix’s belly and before the enchanted magma could ebb out and seal his wound shut, Thom brought the Dwarven hammer down upon the ground. Moira leaped behind Thom and watched as the collision between Whelm and the stone ground released a wave of clear energy that immersed the Efreet, bowling them over with such unexpected force that all in the party marveled at it. Nix and Nox cowered, stunned by the shockwave. Moira and the others noticed that Nix’s wound continued to bleed and drip to the ground, sizzling upon contact. Lyssa watched as the firey djinn struggled to compose themselves for a moment, thinking of what to do to further subdue them. Then it hit her: the wand of frost Thom rescued from the lair of the giant crab! She drew the wand, gripping the thin, wooden handle in her hand, and pointed the wand towards the stunned djinn. The air began to cool down and become crisp as the crystal tip of the wand began to swell with glowing vapors of icy silver. Before the Efreet could come to, she released the ray of icy cold and watched it zipped between her companions. As the ray shot through the air, the ground beneath it began to freeze. The ray expanded into a conical shape and blanketed the Efreet in cold, silver light. Just as the cone of cold overcame the Efreet, the floor beneath them erupted in a cluster of large stalagmites of ice that speared their frost-covered bodies.

Grum rushed the second Efreeti, Nox with Lyn and Slå still drawn. He leaped over the line of frozen earth that cut down the center of the chamber using his momentum and his agility, scaled up the side of the wall past Nox, and landed back-to-back with the Efreeti. Like a stinging bee, Grum stabbed at Nox with Lyn without taking the time to turn around. He instead relied on the shriek of the Efreeti to deliver the good news of a successful – and electric – backstab! Grum spun around and just as he was about to let Slå get a turn, he watched as the Efreet exploded into black, smoky gaseous forms. Thom knew that in this form, the Efreet would be a hard and unpredictable target to hit. He began to drum and watched them swirl and torpedo through the party.
“No!” Lyssa grumbled between gritted teeth. As her eyes surged with raging magical intensity, the party could feel a breeze quickly begin to swell behind them. In mere seconds, the breeze turned into a torrent of powerful wind that violently whipped through the chamber down the corridor leading towards the exit. The Efreet’s ethereal forms were no match for the gusts of wind conjured by Lyssa as they struggled to keep themselves together. “RUN!” Lyssa shouted from the back of the party. The party did as was commanded and ran with the winds towards the exit of the mountain. Lyssa manned the back of the party, armed with her wand of frost, and concentrated on keeping the winds swirling in the Gynosphinx’s chamber long enough to keep the Efreet out of suspension. Guided by the winds, the party ran as fast as they could out of the chamber towards the stone spiral staircase, and out of the depths of the mountain.

The party emerged out of White Plume Mountain and was greeted by a clear and sunny afternoon sky. Lyssa’s winds escaped out of the mountain and fluttered into the open air. The party took a moment to pause and catch their own breaths, having narrowly escaped what could have been an excruciating fate. They had survived the seemingly endless and varied threats that had fell so many others before them. Despite this, a sudden sense of dread began to take hold of Thom. His stomach dropped as he looked out into the wide-open world before him. The flatlands covered in dismal moors and tangled thickets began to conjure strange, unformed fears in the usually adventurous bard.
“Thom!” Grum called out to his fear-frozen brother, “Camp’s only a couple miles away. Come on!”
Thom shivered at the thought of going any further, but with his brother staring him down waiting for him, he took a deep, deep breath and slowly walked to meet with the others. Grum patted his brother on the back and could feel the muscles tense up as he did so. “Are you alright, brother?”
“Mmhm,” Thom replied quietly with pursed lips and eyes that darted to the ground below.
“Do you want me to stay back here with you? Grunt can—“
Thom shook his head swiftly, keeping his eyes downwards. Grum suspected something was amiss, but also knew better than to pry where it concerned his brother. He shrugged and rushed back up to the front of the party to meet with Grunt and together the thieves lead the party down the beaten path back towards camp.

The breeze was crisp and cut through the stagnant humidity that clung to them inside the mountain. After a couple hours, they returned to base camp where the hired company of men waited. All horses and equipment were well accounted for and the men were more than eager to help the party to divide their findings between the various chests and sacks brought along. They marveled silently at the strange artifacts the party had in tow, from the elegantly embroidered scabbard that housed Blackrazor to the trident Wave, which seemed to sparkle with a cool blue-violet iridescence when lit by the sun. The party also took mental note of Thom’s disposition; before entering the cave, he had been jovial, entertaining all in the party with song and musings. Now, he seemed shaken and reserved. One of the hired men approached Thom with a small chest inlayed with velvet and down cushion.
“The hammer, sir?”
“I’ll carry it, it’s… I’m fine!” Thom’s hands trembled as he waved the man away briskly. He buried his face into his horse’s side for a moment and channeled an old breathing technique that always did the trick when stricken with such bouts of anxiety. After a few counts of controlled breathing, Thom steeled himself and climbed atop his horse. With their carts filled and the parties all present and accounted for, Grum and Grunt led the caravan down the road to the Cairn Hills back to Alhaster. Thom stayed towards the back of the party with Lyssa and watched as White Plume Mountain shrunk in the distance. It’s mysterious dove-white geyser still shooting into the air as if nothing had happened.

In the first hour en route to Alhaster, Grum spotted a group walking down the road towards them in the distance. As they came into focus, Grum began to make them out. The trio was made up of an old mage in typical mage’s garb of dusty green robes and a floppy hat; a thief of slender build dressed in fitted leather armor; a cleric in airy robes of blue and white with a large, golden holy symbol of some unknown god suspended from an equally garish golden chain; and a knight in shimmering armor decorated with ornate etchings and filigree.
“Hello fellow adventurers!” the fighter called out to Grum as their parties neared each other.
“Hello!” Grum replied with as much fake cheer as he could muster, “looks like you boys are heading to the mountain?”
“Yes! We are fine adventurers on a quest to White Plume Mountain!” he replied with saccharine enthusiasm. Behind him, his company could not help but to chuckle. Still smiling, the fighter quickly waved his hand at his companions behind him, attempting to quiet them. “Yes, as I said we are fine adventurers on a quest to fetch the treasures that lay in wait for us inside the mountain!”
“What treasure?” Vetnik snorted with suspicion.
“Well, whatever treasure we can find in the mountain!”
“Were you hired?” Thom asked.
“No, no, no,” the fighter began, brushing off the notion. “No good sir, we are, um, we come seeking glory and the gold that will surely accompany it!”
The company behind him continued to chortle. The fighter quickly whipped his head around and quietly hissed to his men, “Quiet!”
“What are you all giggling about?” Grum asked.
“Oh, never mind them good sirs and, er, ladies,” the fighter pleaded, “they are but children!”
“Yes, rather rude children,” Vetnik remarked.
“Oh, and who are you?” the thief fired back.
“We should be on our way!” the fighter interjected, trying to usher his men onwards. “Good day to you all then!”
Lyssa chuckled while Grum and Vetnik watched the men carry on past them. “Good day to you! Safe travels,” Trisoll said, warmly waving them goodbye.
“Safe travels to you as well,” the fighter yelled back as he struggled to push his indignant men along with him.
“Say hello to Nix and Nox for us!” Grunt shouted down to them. The fighter nervously waved back before facing forward and bickering with his party.
Trisoll turned to Vetnik and laughed to himself. “Well, they seemed nice!”
“They seemed rather infantile,” Moira pondered.
“Ha. They won’t be that way for too much longer,” Grunt replied in his deadpan way.
“Seems like their going to learn their lesson the hard way,” Thom grumbled from behind. The party looked back and could see him still in strange discomfort. The party calmed themselves and resumed their ride.

The party from Greyhawk ride further towards the Shield Lands until after a couple of hours they see a lifelike human statue off the road. Grum looks at it with his Gem and sees that it’s actually a petrified man. Further down they see a second one, looking in the same direction. Grum leaps off his horse and scouts ahead. He sees a cave in the distance following the eyeline of the cave. He sees a creature exit the cave and makes eye contact with Grum. It is a Basilisk. Grum closes its eyes just in time to avoid its petrifying gaze. The Basilisk runs towards the party. Trisoll attempts to cast a light spell on the beast’s eyes and suddenly a flash of light covers its face. Moira rushes the blinded beast with Starstrike followed by Grunt, who covers his face with his hood and fires off an arrow into its hide. Vetnik stabs at it successfully followed by Grum with an axe and sword. Grum misses with his sword and as he attempts to strike with his axe, he swings and hits Vetnik in the face. Lyssa roasts the beast with burning hands. Thom approaches to burn it for extra measure, but Lyssa stops him and harvests the Basilisk’s gullet. Thom spies the beast’s cave and lets out a visible sigh of relief. He pushes past his brother and runs into the cave where his anxiety suddenly disappears. Inside, he finds 3000 gp strewn about the creature’s cave.


With the flesh golem, now called “Nine” (after the number carved into his patchwork chest) in tow, the company made their way safely across the chamber of golems through an exit that emptied into a dark passageway. At the end of the passage, Grum came upon a small flight of stairs heading upwards. “I’ll scout ahead!” he informed the others. He motioned to his student, Grunt, to accompany him and the pair sneaked up the stairs to a dry corridor. At the end of the corridor stood a rusted metal turnstile. Grum examined it and did his best to turn it, but the metal thing remained unmoved. Grunt stepped up and attempted to turn it, but even he was no match for it. Grum whistled down to the others that it was safe to come up. Vetnik tried his might at turning the metal, but even his strength seemed to be no match. Lyssa, despite her strength now magically matching Vetnik’s own, kept quiet and together they returned back down the stairs.

The party ventured south through another passage, following their pair of scouts through the dark, stone corridor that ended with another door. While observing the door and listening for sounds behind it, Thom noticed something peculiar about its condition. Its wood was old and thick yet covered in small holes that seemed to burrow all the way through. The holes themselves were small though, smaller than keyholes. Grum slid a lockpick into one and slid it out to test the depth.

“Airholes for something?” Grunt muttered beside Grum. While the stealthier of the bunch surveyed the door, Moira concentrated on the area around her and as she honed in on the door, her stomach began to sink.

“There is evil behind that door!”

She turned to Lyssa, who in turn shot her an almost offended glance back. “What? It’s not me!”
“No! Do you recall seeing this place in your visions back in the Magi’s chamber?”
“Oh. No, this doesn’t look familiar to me at all.”
“Whatever you men decide to do,” Moira began, “I will stand beside you. But tread carefully.”
“Gather ‘round. I can conceal us if we stick together.” Thom informed while preparing to intone invisibility. The party did as was asked and the Black brothers opened the door.

“Forward!” Thom commanded Nine. The imposing and terrifying-looking flesh golem lumbered ahead into the impenetrable dark of the room with a unique gait. Inside the room, all the party could see was black, pitch and impenetrable. They watched Nine step into the darkness and watched it swallow him completely. All they could hear was the sound of his mismatched feet dragging against the ground. Lyssa stood by and concentrated on the darkness in the room. Despite her concentration, the magical darkness proved too potent to dispel. Suddenly, the party heard a groan cut through the black.

“Aughhhh,” Nine cried out. The party stood and listened as the flesh golem’s feet staggered and stumbled around in the darkness. Grum quickly lifted his Gem of Seeing that hung like a medallion around his neck and brought it to his eye. Gifted with magical vision, he hastily darted his eye around the room until it finally honed in on a pair of bodies struggling in the black. A thin humanoid was perched atop Nine’s torso and wrapped its feet and hands around the golem’s waist and neck. Grum watched as the spindly feral creature tore into Nine’s throat in search of blood.

Vampire,” Grum whispered to the others with a lump in his throat. While his father and mother had only encountered them briefly decades ago in the decaying village of Skorane, this was the first time the party had encountered such a fiend. Grum watched as Nine struggled in vain to release himself from the throws of the bedraggled vampire, who resisted all of Nine’s attempts to yank him away. Instead, the vampire lapped at Nine’s wounded neck in disappointment, spitting up the crude life fluids that flowed through Nine’s veins.

“Hold this,” Grum ordered Grunt, handing him the Gem of Seeing. He quickly drew his bow and set his arrow blaze on Moira’s nearby torch. He motioned to Grunt to hold the Gem to his eye as he drew his bow back and fired off a flaming arrow into the darkness. Through the gem, Grum watched the arrow disappear into the darkness and zip past the pair of undead creatures warring inside. Now visible and vulnerable to the vampire, Grum quickly rushed to pull more arrows.

“Do vampires like fire?” Lyssa asked the others still in the veil of invisibility.
“Not one bit,” Thom replied.
“Good,” Lyssa said as her eyes surged. Balling her hand together she began to conjure a fireball. Without hesitation, Lyssa revealed herself from the veil as she launched a flaming orb into the darkness. Though the fireball was potent, the darkness was still unyielding. She concentrated on the fireball and with tightening of her fist she commanded it to explode inside. There was no fiery glow, but the party could feel the heat from the explosion within the room, followed immediately by the pained hissing of the vampire. As the vampire howled in burning pain, the passageway behind the party began to fill with the faint sound of the tiny, clawed feet. The sound began to escalate though with every hiss the vampire made, its cries summoning something dreadful no doubt. Trisoll turned around and listened intently to the swarm skittering up the rear. With a sniff of his nose and a keen ear, he determined just what was rushing them.

“Rats!” Trisoll cried out over the sound of the approaching vermin stampede, “and it sounds like it’s a lot of them!”
“Well, do something about it!” Vetnik shouted back.
Trisoll closed his eyes and began to concentrate, attempting to tap into the open minds of the creatures dwelling within the mountain. Reaching out into the mental spaces throughout the mountain, he honed in on a family of five large frogs (not unlike his amphibian companion Mugwump!)

While Trisoll dispatched the giant frogs to deal with the stampeding rodent army of the vampire, the vampire began to creep out of the darkness towards Grum, Lyssa, and the others, whose salty scent was all it could make of them. Its taught, pallid skin was covered in patches of bubbling char, but the vampire seemed unphased as it lurched towards the party with hunger in its sunken, milky eyes. The vampire screeched at the party once more before emerging fully from out of the darkness. Thom in turn revealed himself as well, a small glowing ball of fire radiating in his palm. The bard cast the fiery orb from his hand and watched as it zipped between Lyssa and Grum and collided into the vampire’s body. The impact let loose a burst of explosive fire that engulfed the vampire and thrust it back into the darkness. Grunt watched through the Gem of Seeing as the vampire’s flaming body crashed into Nine, immolating both creatures to their true deaths.

“I suppose I’ve been learning from you as well,” Thom said with a smirk to Lyssa, patting her on the shoulder with a warm hand.

The party stood together, visible to each other and any one who might be lurking in the passages of the mountain. They looked into the room, and while no noise could be heard, the darkness that filled the vampire’s chamber remained. The smell of burned flesh lingered through the chamber and leaked out into the hall. Ever curious, Thom looked to Grum’s thin rod and cast a globe of light upon the tip and together the Black brothers lead the party into the dark. They stayed close to each other and together they poked about the room. Grunt was the first to find treasures: while digging around what seemed to be the vampire’s old wooden coffin, he stumbled upon a niche filled with dusty, untouched treasures: a leather sack filled with a pair of potions (one a crystal white liquid with a flash of blue-violet shimmering throughout, the other an opaque acid green color) and an aged paper scroll. While he handed them off to Thom for inspection, Grum joined his charge to inspect the treasures concealed by the coffin. He came upon a pile of six leather sacks, inside which he found thousands of pieces of silver and gold! Grum gathered together the loot while Thom informed the others of Grunt’s findings. The scroll, it turned out, contained a trio of spells: magic mouth, dispel magic, and an advanced spell to conjure monsters. The pair of vials were revealed to be a potion of ESP and, even more rare, a potion of black dragon control. Beneath the pile of leather sacks, Grum found a large and heavy object wrapped in soiled rags. As he unwrapped it, he immediately began to recognize the object and it’s origins. It was indeed a Dwarven hammer, crafted in the most skillful manner. Its finish was patinaed metal with golden details and its weight was most impressive.

“I found something,” Grum announced.
“More gold, brother?” Thom asked.
“Not quite,” Grum replied as he lifted the hammer with two hands into the sphere of light. The inlay gold panels reflected the magical light of Thom’s spell across the others. The details on the hammer were almost too ornate to be Dwarven, but Lyssa stepped forward to dispel any doubts they may have had.
“This is it,” she began, “this is the second object, Whelm!”
As Grum held the hammer in his hands, a strange compulsion began to sink in. He looked to his brother and without word passed the golden hammer over to Thom. “It wants you to have it,” Grum whispered as he handed the hammer over. Thom shot his brother a wary look but took the hammer into his hands all the same. Just as he fired his brother the suspicious glance, Thom became overcome with an almost electromagnetic wave of energy that seemed to bounce from off of him and around the room. He immediately had a mental invoice for all of the riches in the room, from the recently recovered 10,000 pieces of silver and 9,000 pieces of gold to the precious gems found earlier in the pit of Qesnef the Ogre Magi. Thom looked at the hammer in his hand and smiled.

Surrounded by the safety of the dark and unburdened by Whelm, Grum surveyed the rest of the room with the help of his Gem of Seeing. Aside the scattered bones of vermin and men, he found nothing else. Thom burned his invisibility over the party and together they took time to rest and rejuvenate. Grunt took the first hours watch and kept to himself, wondering if he’d hear from the damned Blackrazor blade again. Lyssa took the second watch and used the brief calm to sit and consult the Eye of Modius. Closing her eyes, she sought to know more about the room itself. The orb swelled with glowing green smoke and soon Lyssa was overcome with the history of their vampiric attacker: once called Ctenmiir, the vampire that dwelled here was cursed to wait out his days in a trance, unable to move and feed unless disturbed by intruders. It was only through the curiosity of intruders that Ctenmiir was able to wake from his rotting sleep, and once he finished draining the life force from his victims, he was cursed to return to stasis to continue the cycle anew. Moira, Vetnik, Trisoll, and the Black brothers took their turns after, keeping watch in the safety of the silent chamber. Thom took his watch as an opportunity to catch up on all that he’d seen under the veil of his light spell, documenting all the new and bizarre creatures that not even his father had seen! The silence, however, did not remain as Vetnik took a second lengthier watch. While the others slept and Vetnik himself cleaned his blade, he could hear a commotion in the distance. The low grunts and growls were familiar to him; out beyond the darkness he heard a pair of Bugbears snarling at each other, their heavy feet slowing as they neared the vampire’s chamber. Vetnik gripped his longsword in his hand firmly but waited and listened. He could hear their throaty groans quiet and cautious as they passed the chamber. Vetnik listened as they continued on their way, and while the creatures were known to be simple, they seemed at least smart enough to stay clear of a hungry vampire’s resting place.

Having rested for several hours, the party gathered their things and quickly rushed out of the dark chamber and back towards the center, to the hall of the Gynosphinx. The Gynosphinx barely lifted her head as they made their way out of one passageway down into another. Just twenty feet down the corridor, the company came upon the edge of yet another large pool of water. This water was murkier than the water encountered at the previous pool though. Grum whipped out his bow and fired an arrow down into the water. Seeing the arrow cut through the water without incident, Grum retrieved his pole and began to poke around towards the bottom of the pool. After a couple stabs, Grum noticed that the pole had struck something circular and thick. Grum jerked his pole around and while the object remained motionless, he could tell it was something of substantial substance.

“I suppose I should take a closer look,” Grunt bemoaned as Grum continued to inspect the strange heavy mass caught on the end of his pole. The scout tossed off his cloak, sheathed his weapons and dove in. He proved to be quite the swimmer as he jettisoned to the bottom of the dim pool. As he reached the bottom, Grunt followed the length of Grum’s rod down where it was caught between the spokes of a large, muck-encrusted steel valve. Grunt quickly took hold of the valve and did his best to turn it but the rusted metal proved to be more than he could handle. Grunt quickly shot back to the surface to inform the others and moments later, Grunt resurfaced drawing a hearty breath of air as he emerged.

“There’s a large metal valve down there, I’m not strong enough to turn it,” Grunt relayed as he bobbed in the middle of the pool.
“Don’t dry yourself off just yet,” Thom said as he kneeled down and reached out his hand to Grunt. Grunt took it and just as soon as he did, he could feel a jolt of power surge through the sinewy fibers of his being. His muscles twitched and flexed and he instantly feel a rush of power course through him. “Try it again,” Thom remarked as he stood. Grunt felt the adrenaline pumping through him and quickly dove back down to the valve. “He’s not going to be able to do it on his own. Vetnik, can you…?”
Vetnik shrugged in compliance and quickly removed the bulk of his armor and weaponry. Though not terribly familiar with the sport of swimming, having grown up in a frozen wasteland much of his life, Vetnik put on a brave face and forced himself down into the murky waters to meet Grunt. Grunt, seeing the ice barbarian struggle to stay under, quickly swam up and helped guide him down to the valve. Once there, Grunt and Vetnik hastily took opposite sides of the valve and with all of their combined might, forced the wheel to slowly turn. As the valve ground against the bracket that contained it, Grunt spotted a pipe buried in the wall of the pool. More importantly, with every turn of the valve, the grate on the end of the pipe began to slowly open and drain out the water from the pool. Vetnik gritted his teeth and continued to jerk the valve ‘round, and after several rotations the pipe in the wall was fully open and the water quickly flowed out of the pool into parts unknown. From the dry edge of the pool, Thom and the others watched the water level lower. As the water sunk below Vetnik and Grunt’s heads, the pair gasped for air while rotating the valve with almost mechanical unity. The drainpipe fully opened, the men stepped away from the valve and watched as the silty water flow into the pipe, revealing a muddy open cavern. Thom kneeled at the edge and scanned the pool and the contents therein. At first the pool appeared to be smooth and deliberate but as he scanned,

Thom tossed down a set of ropes and he led the party down into the mire. As he scaled down the slippery walls of the pool, Thom scanned the room and noticed a recessed area in the center of the bottom of the pit: a perfect square in the midst of a crude and jagged floor.

“Grum! Vetnik,” Thom called down, “Check the center of the floor. I think I spy something!”

Vetnik trudged across the sludge-covered floor and with heavy, booted feet he began to kick the mud aside and stomp against the ground. As his boot neared the center, the sound of banging metal echoed throughout the corridor. Thom secured a rope to the edge and leapt across the pool to the other side and secured a second rope. Together on each side the members of the party scaled down the precariously smooth walls.

“Do you think that door was made to let something in,” Grunt began as he crouched at the edge of the pool, “or to keep something out?”
“Sometimes a door that requires the strength of two warriors to open is sealed shut for a reason,” Moira replied standing beside him.

As Vetnik finished revealing the old metal panel at the base of the pit, Grum stepped in to check for traps. Finding neither traps nor locks, Grum carefully opened the panel up, which revealed a dark tunnel with metal rungs hammered into the sides. Grum knelt down and poked hovered his head over the opening. In the bowels of the unlit tunnel, Grum could hear something faint and sporadic. He cautiously lowered his head further down towards the sounds. The muffled sounds seemed to calm. He bent down further into the hole and as his ears passed the entrance, the sharp pitch of screams rang from below!


Grum yanked his head out of the hole and fell backwards into the mud. The screams from below were now louder and more panicked than before. Grum recoiled from the opening, shaken by the sounds that now echoed throughout the corridor.

Thom stopped dead in his tracks and shuddered. “What kind of nightmares are down there?”
“Between whatever is lurking down the rest of the corridor and the nightmare we know is waiting for us down there, I say we head down the rest of the corridor,” Grunt interjected.

As the others climbed down one side and up the other, Thom closed the metal panel in the center of the pit. Taking out a piece of chalk from his art supply satchel, he scrawled across its surface: BEWARE! Thom secured the ropes for their eventual return and together the party continued onward down the corridor that emptied out into a chamber. In the center of the chamber laid yet another pool, one that had drained enough to reveal two paths, a small flight of steps on the far wall, and a deeper pool in the center which oddly clear water. Clear, except for the pile of deep green seaweed that floated at the water’s surface. Grum and Grunt lead the party inside and as the men approached the pool, the cluster of seaweed appeared to move on its own accord. The bundle was pulled under the water but as it resurfaced, a shape seemed to writhe out from underneath it. Grunt watched as the seaweed slipped down the shape and revealed the supple, milky flesh of a nude woman. The seaweed mixed with her jet dark hair as it dripped down her breasts like black veins. Her neck wriggled with serpentine fluidity as she turned to see the men standing at the edge of the pool. While Grum seemed more perplexed by the woman slithering seductively in the center of the pool, Grunt was positively enchanted! Without word he stepped into the pool and began to paddle out towards her.

“Grunt,” the thief called out, “come back here!”

Grunt was deaf to his master’s pleas. Instead, his gaze was fixed on her opalescent eyes as he paddled like an eager dog towards her. She slowly began to drift away from him, drawing him further and further out. As she floated from him, the bundle of seaweed reappeared and made haste towards Grunt. The siren cooed as the tendrils of kelp sprang into action. Like the tentacles of a squid, the seaweed lashed out at Grunt and quickly began to bind his arms, feet, neck, and even began to make their way down his throat.

“Grunt!” Moira called out to her bewitched friend. She rushed up the side of the pool, unsheathed Starstrike, and with all of her might did her best to strike the fiend. Her balance was unsteady though as she stabbed at the creature and she missed. Vetnik drew his blade and rushed towards the pool; before jumping in, Trisoll reached out to Vetnik and placed his hand upon his armored shoulder while uttering a brief prayer to Trithereon.
“The water will be solid to your step,” Trisoll proclaimed! Vetnik patted his friend’s arm as a show of thanks before leaping onto the water. As he landed, Vetnik realized that Trisoll was true to his word. The cavalier dashed across the surface of the water towards the slithering enchantress as if he were gliding across solid stone. Vetnik approached and before stabbing into her, noticed that below the water, the woman had in fact dissolved into squirming seaweed.
“Release him," Vetnik commanded as he stabbed into her! His sword pierced her flesh and the creature let out a gurgled howl. Vetnik withdrew his blade and watched as the wound leaked not red blood, but algae-filled water and saw the cut flesh wriggle into tattered seaweed. This was no ordinary temptress, this was a creature of legend: a kelpie!

Thom unleashed his Kettle of Drumming. He flipped it over and began to bang out a defiant beat that only seemed to anger the kelpie more. In response, she violently pulled Grunt down before the water; the party watched him struggle to reach out and touch the kelpie in vain. As water filled his throat, a second bundle of seaweed emerged from the depths of the pool. Vetnik, still standing on the surface of the water, stepped back as a second kelpie burst forth from the bundle. She fixed her sights on the ice barbarian, but his mettle proved to be ironlike against her sorcery. Vetnik fired back with a devilish grin. “You’ll have to do better than that, witch!”

Grum donned his bow and fired a pair of arrows, but the kelpies proved to be too nimble in the water. Trisoll jumped into the water and swam towards the submerged Grunt. He dove under and grabbed his companion by the shoulder. He mentally recited a second small prayer and suddenly Grunt could feel air return to his lungs despite still being held under water. Trisoll returned to the surface and found himself face to face with a very angry kelpie! The kelpie’s angered cries turned to shrieks of pain as Vetnik cut into her two more times, shredding off more and more pieces of kelp-like sinew. Grum fired off two more arrows in support of Vetnik, but the kelpie dove under the water and disappeared from sight. The second kelpie whipped her head around and focused her charm on Thom. He let his kettle fall to the ground and in his daze rushed towards the creature, diving into the pool and swimming as hard as he could to meet her.

“Oh, enough of this,” Lyssa grumbled. She stepped forward and with a wave of her hand she yanked her dazed friend out of the water with a levitation spell. The force of her spell proved too strong for both the tendrils of seaweed and Thom’s crazed desire to meet a watery end. He struggled and reached out to the kelpie, but the more he struggled, the further away he seemed to float. Trisoll capitalized on the confusion of the kelpie as he called out for Trithereon’s blessing: “Trithereon, hold the demon at bay!” As Trisoll uttered the final word of his prayer, the kelpie’s seaweed tendrils fell back into the water. Her body was frozen in time, with only her watery breath escaping her throat in a muted gurgle of sound.

Vetnik spun around and slashed into the bound kelpie. Her mouth suspended in mid snarl, her ribbons of kelplike flesh and algae-filled blood ebbed into the pool around her. Trisoll swam towards the held kelpie, whipped out his shillelagh and cracked her against the head — which only seemed to summon more furious hissing from the slimy thing. Grum fired off yet another arrow, which zipped past and grazed the beast’s milk-white cheek. While the others launched their simultaneous attack on the remaining kelpie, Grunt could feel his senses come back together. His heart and his head rushing with a mix of adrenaline and anger, Grunt swam towards the remaining kelpie and swung at it with his crudely-spiked club. His anger only served to make his attack sloppy though as he missed her, creating a large splash of water. Lyssa’s lifted her arm straight forward and she began to channel her own frustration into the palm of her hand. Currents of scarlet energy coursed down her arm, gathered into her hand and as the energy pushed beyond the capacity of her control, she released it in the form of five glowing magic missiles. The missiles streaked through the air and collided into the kelpie with explosive efficacy. Like cannonballs into the hull of a battle-ravaged ship, the kelpie’s skin burst into a flurry of water and seaweed with every missile hit. After all five hit their target, all that remained was a steaming pile of green algae that floated and spread across the surface of the water.

Grunt let out a mutter of anger as he hastily reached down to the mysterious black blade hooked to his belt. “You’re hungry, yeah? Let’s get you fed!” Grunt drew Blackrazor from its obsidian-embroided scabbard and as he did so, he could hear the sword yowl in anticipation, “Yessss! Feed me!” While wielding the sword in his hand, he could feel the vibrations of every living being in the room. Only one life mattered to him though: that of his former slaver! “FEED! WE MUST FEED!” Blackrazor cried out inside his head. “FEED! WE HUNGER! WE MUST FEED!” His anger only seemed to fuel the blade’s desire for death. The pearlescent shimmer in Blackrazor flickered and flashed, a physical manifestation of its increasing hunger no doubt. Grunt raced through the water in pursuit of the fleeing kelpie, the voice of Blackrazor almost deafening as he swam. “FEED ME! FEED ME!! FEED MEEE!!!” Before the kelpie could seize him with her seaweed tentacles, Grunt gored the creature with Blackrazor. He buried the blade deep into her belly and he watched as she struggled to pull herself off the blade. Grunt watched as she thrashed and screamed before unraveling into ribbons of seaweed until her body came undone and her remains floated down to the bottom of the pool. The twinkling pearl in Blackrazor slowly began to die down, as did its calls to feast. “Yesss…. Yesss…” While the voice of Blackrazor subsided, Grunt felt revitalized. He lifted Blackrazor to his eye line and watched as the vicious innards of the slain kelpie swirled around the blade and seeped into it. Grunt was puzzled at first, but his attention returned when off in the distance he spotted pieces of gold, a necklace encrusted with emeralds and rubies, and chainmail armor scattered across the floor of an underwater alcove. He swam down, gathered up the riches and quickly raced back to the surface where Vetnik was waiting, crouched on top of the water ready for the scout to resurface.

“Good work,” Vetnik said as he helped the scout out of the water.
“Did you see it,” Grunt asked with unusual vigor. “I killed the soggy bitch!”
Lyssa glared at Grunt with a disapproving glance and looked down to see Blackrazor in his shaky grasp. “If we’re all done here then—“
“Um, not quite!” Thom interjected, still dangling in the air above the pool. With both kelpies slain, his mind was his own again and he was eager to move ahead. “Lyssa, is there some way you can get me over to those steps across the room?” Lyssa stepped down into the side of the pool, glaring at Grunt as she passed him, whipping her cape away from him as to not get it soiled by the newcomer. As she approached, Thom began to float back down towards the pool. Lyssa reached her hand up and placed her hand upon his ankle. Thom felt a warmth stem from his ankle and travel up his leg then into his belly. The bubble of force in his gut that seemed to keep him suspended in the air burst as the warm sensation hit. Thom’s entire body seemed to tingle and suddenly he was overcome with weightlessness. “There. You can fly now,” Lyssa dryly revealed. She released his ankle and sauntered back onto dry land.

“Brilliant!” Thom cheered to himself. He turned to face the steps at the opposite side of the room and took a deep breath before thrusting himself towards the steps. Thom’s stomach bubbled with excitement as he flew above the pool across the room. He ascended over the wet stone steps without touching them until he came to the top of the staircase. Much to his surprise, the smooth slabs of stone blocks emptied into a spinning metal cylinder. Thom drifted towards it and as he approached it he was able to discern more details about the strange, spinning tube. It spun counter clockwise and made little noise, which was strange given the surroundings and its apparent age. The inside of the tube featured alternating spiraling stripes of chipped white and black paint that, despite their age, still had a dizzying effect. Thom gently brushed his fingers upon the inside and wiped away an oily film from the inside. He brought his fingers closer to his face to inspect the substance and beyond the grime clinging to his fingertips, he could smell the overwhelming scent of combustible oil. This made Thom cautious, but his curiosity was piqued nonetheless. Still hovering off the ground, he pushed himself through the spinning tube and slowly drifted through it. He shielded his eyes as best as he could from the whirring spiral. As he flew towards the center of the 10’ long tube, he noticed the flickering of a small flame at the end of it. Before Thom could move any further down the tube, the source of the flame came into focus. It was no mere torch or candle, but a flaming arrow. The archer released the flaming arrow into the tube and though Thom attempted dodge it, he soon realized the archer’s intent was not to pierce but to burn! The arrow zipped past Thom and struck the black-painted inside of the tube and set the line ablaze!

“Ssssss! Aghh!” Encircled by flame, Thom cowered in mid-air and did what he could to shield himself from the searing heat. Steeling himself, he pushed through the center of the tube with a single thrust, he torpedoed through the center of the flame tube and emptied out onto the other side. He tumbled to the ground and as he rose to his feet he spotted a thick wooden door being slammed shut further down the corridor. Thom ran to catch up but it seemed as if it was too late. Thom could hear the metal locks from behind jam into place. He stood back and placed his hand upon the door. In seconds, he was able to force the locks that barred him entry to retract. He kicked through the door with all of his force and drew out his Horn of Fog. Before Thom could press the reed of the horn to his lips, the scraggly guard slashed at him with his longsword Undeterred by the attack, Thom blew into the mouthpiece of his horn with all the breath he could muster and in return, released a thick bank of fog that filled the entirety of the chamber. The rest of the party stood to attention at the sound of Thom’s horn.

“He’s in trouble!” Grum cried out.
“Stay here, we’ll help him!” Vetnik replied.
“Wait!” Trisoll called out before draping his arms over Vetnik, Moira and Grunt in a huddle. “I can get the three of you through the tube.” He bowed his head and pleaded to his holy patron once more: “Trithereon, I beseech thee! Guide my friends, let them walk through the flames!” Trisoll lifted his head and slapped Vetnik and Grunt on their backs, “you’re good now! Don’t he scared, just run right through it!”

Vetnik lead the charge to support Thom as he raced across the surface of the pool; Moira led Grunt up the side of the chamber and together they successfully waded to the staircase where they followed Vetnik into the spiraling tube. The trio of warriors did their best to maintain their balance, wobbling as they rushed through. The flames in the tunnel continued to burn but neither of them seemed fazed. Instead, they emptied out onto the other side and together they unsheathed their swords.

The fog released by Thom’s horn engulfed the attacker’s chamber and the men within. Thom drew his trusted wakashazi blade and, despite his inability to see, honed his other senses with a precision that would have made his mother proud! He carefully stepped through the fog and moved towards the sounds of the guard: the slow scrap of a boot against the floor, the rustle of chainmail, his quivering breath. Thom lifted his blade and slashed through the fog bank and as he did, he heard something thin and metallic fall to the ground and a man cry out, “Snarla, help m—AHHH!” Thom cut the man’s cry short with a second swipe of his blade. Thom stood back and he could see the bloodied body of a guard fall to the ground beside him.
“No! Burket!” a second voice cried out from across the foggy chamber. Just as Thom turned to the sound of the woman’s voice, a trio of glowing violet missiles zipped through the fog and burst as they collided into Thom.
Thom staggered back and watched as the fog began to part to reveal a scantily-clad woman standing in a doorway across from him, one hand smoking from a magic missile spell, the other holding a leather-bound tome. Before the blade could retaliate, his companions poured into the room. Grunt lunged at the sorceress and swiped with his club. Vetnik immediately followed him, slashing her across the torso. The sorceress clutched her bleeding chest and began to recoil as Moira rushed up to attack. Moira pulled her sword from her scabbard but as she went to bring it down upon the sorceress, she noticed a startling change in the woman’s eyes. The lattice of blood vessels burst and drowned her eyes in a deep red hue. The sorceress began to foam at the mouth and as she bore her teeth, Moira could see that they were no longer flat and even but sharp and fanglike. Moira took a step back and watched in a mix of fear and awe as coarse brown hair erupted from the sorceress’ bare flesh. She tore away her silken costume, threw down her tome and let out a deep, guttural howl and revealed a body covered completely in mottled brown fur. From underneath the fur, her flexed into extreme tensions before expanding and bulking up her frame. Moira and the others watched as the sorceress’ very body began to lengthen by way self-breaking bones. The cacophony of bones reshaping and animalistic screaming echoed throughout the chamber. Right before their very eyes, the party witnessed their very first werewolf transformation.

“By Cortox,” Moira cried out as she cut into the large beast! The werewolf yelped as Starstrike opened her flesh.

Before the beast could get its bearings, Vetnik drove his sword into her side. The werewolf let out one last final howl and, while impaled on his blade, Vetnik watched as the werewolf turned to him and began to slowly return to her human form. Before she could return to full humanity, Vetnik yanked his sword out of her side and watched as her misshapen body fell to the ground, her blood pooling out onto what appeared to be a lavishly woven runner.

Thom scooped up the sorceress’ tome and went to go alert the others. “It’s all clear up here!”
Grum lead Lyssa and Trisoll along the side of the pool and together they traversed the steps and spinning corridor to meet with the others. Upon their arrival they were met with a grizzly sight of two slain bodies – only one and a half of them human!
“What happened here? Did you have all the fun without us?” Grum jibed.
“If your idea of fun is dealing with what appeared to be a werewolf,” Vetnik replied as he wiped down his blade before sheathing it.

The party searched the bodies and the chamber they laid in but found nothing of value. Together as a whole, they continued onward, stepping over the half-woman, half-wolf corpse that lay motionless in the door way. Each member of the party had their own reactions, from curious and compassionate to callous. They followed the blood-soaked runner into the next chamber and what they found was a stark contrast to the chamber before. Inside, the room was ornate and delicate, covered in finely woven rugs embroidered with arabesque patterns; erotic tapestries and shimmering covered the walls, while an intricately crafted mosaic of a summer sky and fleecy clouds decorated the ceiling. A large, luxurious bed occupied the northeast corner of the room, its surface covered in pelts, silks, and plush pillows and cushions of every size. Beside it was a buffet of sweetmeats, cakes, and other delicious-looking comestibles. In the corner opposite was an oak chest bound in brass. Grunt pulled up beside the buffet and began to look over the untouched delicacies.
“Careful there, Grunt,” Grum warned as he put his Gem of Seeing to his eye. Through it, the illusion of the room was undone: the room was sparse and dank, just as the other chambers they visited before. The bed so opulently decorated was little more than an old straw tick, and the buffet that Grunt buzzed around was filled not with finery but with meager iron rations. Grunt tossed his the no-longer delicious treat back into the pile and saddled up beside Grum to watch as his master went to work on the chest – the only authentic piece in the room! Grum searched the lock for traps, for which there appeared to be none. The lock itself was surprisingly easy to crack as well. However, just as Grum flung the lid open, the chest itself dissolved into a billowing cloud of unsightly pallid yellow. The cloud itself was thick but not as dense as fog, but its scent was wretched! Grum and Grunt jumped to their face, covered their faces, and together they began to usher the party out of the room away from the stinking cloud. Most of the party seemed to have enough of a tolerance for the scent, except for Trisoll, who buckled under the putrid haze and fell to his knees retching. Vetnik held his breath and carried the nauseated cleric under his arm until all were out of the chamber safely.
“What… what was that?!” Trisoll asked, wiping away bile from his beard.
“Stinking cloud spell,” Lyssa replied. “A useful distraction against those with weaker constitutions.”

Grum looked back into the room and saw that the yellow cloud had nearly evaporated. He and Grunt ducked back inside where, in place of the chest, there laid a pile of treasures: electrum and gold as well as a series of seven precious gemstones! Grum quickly scooped them up before leaving, and together they made their way back down towards the spinning corridor. With the slick oil having all been burned away, they traversed it calmly and without incident. Grum lead them out of the cylinder and they continued down an unexplored passage, away from the kelpie’s pool. Before getting too far, the party was halted by a pair of thick, metal doors. The Black brothers inspected them and found no signs of tampering nor heard any suspicious noises behind them. They appeared to be flanged in such a way though that they overlapped the doorjambs and could only be opened away from them. The brothers pushed them up and lead the party down another 10’ feet until they were stopped by a similar pair of large metal doors. The brothers repeated their door-opening procedure and were met with the same inactivity. They threw them open and continued onwards for another 10’ feet and came upon, much to their chagrin, two more metal doors. Grum sighed as he checked for traps once more. Just as the procession of metal doors was beginning to feel tedious, Thom put his finger to his lips (a sign to his brother to silence his unsubtle groaning.) Behind it, he could hear the distant echo of burbling water. He motioned to his brother and the others to keep quiet and to take position. Grunt swiftly moved up beside his master while Thom stepped away and allowed them to push the door open.

The thieves opened the door and clung to the sides of the corridor, cloaking themselves in the shadows. What the found was more bizarre than they could have ever imagine. The path led into a sunken stone ledge that projected over a lake of boiling hot water filled with red-hot rocks. They watched the water boil and bubble up from below and flow alongside them. Their eyes followed the bubbles upwards above their heads where they saw even more water suspended in midair. The pair could feel the heat emanating from the walls of water and were careful to avoid coming into contact. Neither thief could have ever fathomed the strangeness they were bearing witness to. Grum signaled down to the others to enter as he and Grunt continued to slink down the sides of the path. Trisoll marveled at strange water walls bubbling beside him. He gently reached out his hand, pressed it against the walls and immediately he felt the intense warmth from behind it. Stranger still, the water walls were bound by some strange, clear film that felt thin to the touch. Dangerously thin.

Grum and Grunt followed the path and about 30’ feet down, saw it empty into a dome surrounded by the boiling water walls. In the center was an alien structure, what appeared to be a mountain of smoothed, speckled rust-colored rock. The thieves slowly approached slowly approached dome but as they closed in on it, Grunt suddenly began to feel shaky and groggy. Wincing his eyes as he stepped, he failed to notice the small pile of rocks in his path. As he kicked into them, a few of the rocks tumbled down the path into the dome. The men froze in place and waited for any sign of disturbance. As the rocks crashed against the base of the strange mountain, the party could feel the earth beneath them begin to tremble.
“Oh no,” Lyssa muttered, remembering the vision she had previously.
Grunt’s eyes widened and watched as the slab slowly began to rise up off the ground to reveal a bed of bones followed by series of spindly, armored legs. Wiry antennae and eyestalks stood erect as a pair of large, armored claws (one of which bore a bracelet of hammered copper) slowly stretched out the width of the dome and pushed the rest of its body up off the ground. The mountain was no mountain, but the carapace of a gargantuan crab!
”Shame I didn’t have the foresight to bring a brick of butter!” Thom joked as he drew his weapon.
“I believe it should go without saying, but no fireballs!” Trisoll yelled.

Its size notwithstanding, the crab appeared to move nimbly and with purpose. It was careful to avoid to the thin membrane of the dome keeping the boiling water at bay as it charged towards the party. Grum reached around to the back of his belt and unsheathed his pair of twin daggers, Lyn and Slå. He charged at the crab and with two strikes to its arm segments. Grunt marveled at not only Grum’s skill, but the weapons themselves (which he had yet to see in action!) With every piercing blow, the blade let loose sparks of electric energy. To Grunt, it looked as if Grum was wielding small lightning bolts in his hand! Knowing the importance of precision, Lyssa raised her hand and cast a series of glowing red magic missiles that flew down into the cavern and exploded upon contact. Vetnik charged down the path with his longsword drawn and swung at the crab, chopping at its legs. Trisoll stepped forward with closed eyes and hands raised, whispering a plea to Trithereon. The others watched as the air around him seemed bend and swirl between his hands, like gathering mists of luminous vapor. Trisoll opened his eyes, now glowing white with power, and as he did the mists between his hands snapped and formed into the shape of a ghostly hammer. He turned his palms out and directed the hammer towards the crab, where it crashed against its face. Instead of charging at the crab, however, Grunt had a different gamble in mind.
“Oi! Crab!” Grunt shouted as he drew Blackrazor, the blade hissing in his head as he did so. “Take another step and I tear this wall open!”
Moira’s eyes widened with shock. “NO!" She drew her longsword and rushed the giant crustacean, slicing it across the creature’s underside. The crab ignored the strike by the paladin and scuttled towards Grunt. With one claw he swiped at the scout, but missed; with its second attempt, the crab grabbed at Grunt with its pincher and flung him away from the wall. Thom knew drastic measures now needed to be taken. He rubbed his hands together and concentrated on their speed and after a few rubs he clapped them together and released a wave of energy that all in the party could feel but not see. The party stared down the crab, the pupils of their eyes sparkling with magical haste.

“In Trithereon’s name, I bless thee!” Trisoll cried out, casting a blessing over the party.
Grunt once more felt the surge of hunger when wielding Blackrazor, but the haste spell cast upon him sent his adrenaline into overdrive. He swung the black blade wildly at the crab, but the crab proved too nimble for even Blackrazor’s hunger. Vetnik continued to chop and slice into the crab with an unprecedented frenzy. As Vetnik prepared to delivered a forth blow to the crab, Thom pulled him out of the way and together they watched as the crab stumbled and collapsed to the ground in defeat. Vetnik tossed his sword to the ground and did his best to calm himself.
“For a moment there, I thought you might end up hacking at the walls in here!” Thom jeered. Vetnik let out a light chuckle while trying to catch his breath. Grum and Grunt sheathed their blades and ran down to the clearing, where buried in the bones of adventurers past, they saw a gleaming trident of bronze lying amongst the human rubble. Grunt lifted the trident out of the waste while Grum raided the chest for its contents: sacks of gold and precious gems, a ring, a wand, and a large polished garnet. As Grunt inspected the trident, Wave, another voice began to echo in his mind:
“Are you my champion?”
“Oh, great.”