Uktar 1, 1508: The party split up for three months to pursue independent projects. They planned to reunite at Baron Elrich's housewarming at Castle Wraithstone at Midsummer celebration, when the repairs and refurbishment should have been completed. Elrich, Calvin, and Gunter immediately headed back for Bywater, while Liet and Elsinor remained in the Crown City for a time.
Uktar 8, 1508, Whipblade: Elrich and Calvin, who had swiftly returned to Bywater at the conclusion of the tourney, received invitations to journey to Abberwyvern, Fharo's new barony. Fharo, formerly of the Miscreants adventuring company, now styled himself Baron Ryan Hamfast. The pair boarded a boat and sailed down the Greyflood into the South Sea, where their ship passed the spectre ship of Urdogen the Red plundering a merchant cog. The captain wisely avoided the encounter.
Uktar 15, 1508: The boat carrying Elrich and Calvin made landfall at Conna and the two set out on the Southroad. They were waylaid by a faction-ridden mercenary company and soon were engaged in mortal combat with a dark adventuring band. Elrich's arm was severed by a strange weapon known as a whipblade. Later, he let an evil priest graft a dead arm onto his body so that he might gain revenge. This he did, slaying the adventurers and taking the blade, which he gave to Calvin, but though he soon severed the dead arm, this was not good enough for the Nuadans. The two quickly returned to Bywater where Anaximander claimed that Nuada had failed to grant the powerful regeneration spell to the knight until he had cleansed himself of the foul necromantic stain. So the one-armed knight sallied forth toward Abberwyvern a second time.
Uktar 29, 1508, Illithid of Abberwyvern: Fharo, Liet, the Nuadan Inquisitor Captain Greylin, and master archer on the Endurance, Khoresh, also journeyed to Abberwyvern, the seaside village on the border of Dunador and Balar which Fharo had just been awarded as his barony. They had planned on waiting for Elrich, but the knight inexplicably didn't arrive (given his mercenary and severed arm problems) so the adventurers proceeded on their own. Unfortunately, the villagers were disappearing in the night, but after a long and convoluted investigation of the mystery, the band eventually tracked the threat to a sect of Loviatar worshippers led by a powerful mind-flayer priestess named Malisha. The band was nearly slain in a battle in the sect's temple, but managed to prevail, driving Malisha away even as she swore she would follow them to the ends of Arik to gain revenge. The resident cleric of Pholtus, Abane, helped cure them.
Feast of the Moon, 1508: The party recuperated at Abberwyvern’s Shady Dragon Inn, run by the hearty fighter Nansen and some thugs - all very skilled in brawling. For the first few days, the adventurers were challenged and for the most part pummeled by Nansen and his men, though they eventually won his respect. Having heard that Elrich was indeed coming this time, the band waited for his arrival. Fharo went on an extended tour of his lands with his constable, a capable ranger by the name of Wellis Andreman. Elsinor, tiring of Elrich's tardiness, also left for several weeks to hone his stalking skills, made all the more difficult by the fact that Malisha's worshipers had stripped the area of game.
Nightal 21, 1508, Ghost of Abberwyvern: When Calvin and Elrich did arrive, they first entered the abandoned manor house, thinking Fharo was in residence there. They soon found it to be haunted by the ghost of Hieronymous Antonovitch Smitchkopf, an infamous Cortalish Fire Wizard who had himself died in the manor after slaying the rightful lord. The two encountered the ghost, and by a stroke of amazing luck, Elrich managed to turn it, though the pair then thought it prudent to leave and find their comrades.
Nightal 21, 1508: The next day the united adventurers; Liet, Calvin, Greylin, Elrich, and Khoresh entered the manor house and began exploring. The ghost harried them, occasionally possessing an adventurer, Calvin being his favorite, and attacking the band. When finally cornered in his tower room, the ghost materialized and lunged for the only conscious target without a protection from evil spell up; Liet. He aged the dragon master 40 years in a stroke, but was soon felled by the rest of the adventurers. The band took with them Flicker, the flametongue sword of the previous lord, whose spirit had willed it to them. Thus was Abberwyvern pacified. The party then did some relaxing in this pleasant seaside village; even Greywolf, Kliff, and Hernando of the Miscreants were summoned for that they might enjoy some relaxation.
Yuletide, 1508, Killing Tree: In fact they did enjoy some quality time away from combat, and celebrated Yuletide in peace until early evening. Wellis Andreman, Abberwyvern's constable, informed the large band at the Shady Dragon Inn that five halflings had disappeared not long ago exploring the Killing Tree. Accompanied by the noted elven mage Fingon of Thingol & Company, the group promptly headed out to the glade where the huge tree stood. Suddenly, a sphere of force appeared around them and halflings on flying shields swooped down. A huge choking creeper plant then descended, sparking a long and hard battle. Meanwhile, Calvin crawled inside a door in the tree and climbed up the hollow interior. The three halflings attacked him, but he eventually downed them all. Later, two halflings had feigned death flew outside only to be cut down in a flurry of blows by the berserk Kliff. Kliff charged into the tree and jumped down the shaft 80 feet into darkness; the rest followed more slowly. The berserker was frantically looking for something to slay in the underground chamber half-filled with water. Then, the roots around him suddenly attacked. Kliff fought off the tentacles successfully for a time, lopping a number of them off--yet there was an intelligence behind the wooden limbs--they soon started grabbing for Imringdrangq, and wrested it away. By now, the rest of the party was wading into the chamber. Elsinor had a nasty run-in with a spear trap that impaled him as he climbed down. Soon a huge melee ensued in the underground deathtrap--Kliff, Greywolf, and Elsinor were being pulled to their doom, and even Elrich, who, floating on the water with his magic ring, and struggling to keep Kliff from being dragged under with his one arm--was knocked unconscious.
In desperation and because of the exhortations of his comrades, the elven mage Fingon cast cone of cold into the water at the creature's body, but did not know it was magic resistant. Kliff and Greywolf were entrapped in ice. At least most of the creature's tentacles were also entrapped. At this point, Kliff awoke from the paralysis inflicted by the creature and cut at the remaining tentacles in his icy tomb. Fingon then teleported outside with Elsinor's nearly-dead body--unfortunately he teleported low and both were instantly slain. With the creature's free tentacles finally dead, Greylin pounded furiously at the ice until he freed Greywolf, who, it appeared, had bled to death. He continued on to Kliff, who was under seven feet of ice, only to find that he had suffocated - yet in his last moments he had slain the last tentacles around him. The despondent cleric then examined the bodies, and cast death's door on Greywolf, figuring that perhaps the cold had staved off the blood loss that had apparently killed the dwarf. Indeed, when he cast a healing spell on Greywolf, it worked--he had survived--but at what price? True, the dwarf was preserved by the cold, but it had scarred him--the experience left him more susceptible to cold. The party dragged quite a hoard from the tree, including an obscure Huler Rod of Curing, a battle axe +1 that glows in the presence of magic, a ring of telekinesis (25 lb.), an amulet of proof against detection and location, three eyes of accuracy, some potions and money. The clerics raised the slain halflings (who had been charmed by the Darktentacles, for so is the creature called). Greywolf, pitying them, did it for free, Elrich too charged little, but Greylin charged the typical price. Fingon (being an elf) was later resurrected by High Patriarch Stephen Menote of Tyr, while Elsinor and Kliff were raised by their compatriots. Gondal was loathe to raise Kliff, as he was then preparing scrolls and items for the spring campaigning against the Cortals.
Later Elsinor left for Arden and traded with Amstard the Artificer his suit of studded leather +3 and dozens of exceptional arrows for a ring of protection +2. After their deadly sojourn in Abberwyvern, the adventurers split to the four winds to deal with personal business.
Hammer 5, 1508, Other World: A few nights after the Killing Tree incident, Greylin, Liet, Hernando, Elsinor, and a warlock illusionist named Malron, who were all staying at Abberwyvern's infamous Shady Dragon Inn, were visited and assembled by an extremely powerful being. A solar of Tyr claimed he needed them to travel into another world and rescue a pair of good adventurers. In this nether world, Bane had triumphed, and the worshippers of the good gods (all were called by different names) were few. The warlock Malron seemed engrossed in a mental struggle then entire time; he later revealed he was fighting the will of his master, the Demon-Lord Goap, whose dark power was strong here. Yet though Greylin distrusted the warlock and his strange mental illusions, Malron proved a steadfast ally. The party searched this realm and eventually found where the captured paladin and cleric the Solar had told them to rescue were imprisoned. After a tough battle with some devils, the motley band prevailed. When they returned to the gate, they found most of the good refugees from this world were slain before the portal, evidently betrayed. Only a wizard named Klaus von Rothenberg survived and escaped back to Arik. Hernando confessed to having dealings with the drow in this land of evil, though he claimed he didn't know they would slay the innocents. Greylin promptly took Hernando into custody and began torturing him in the dungeons of the Nuadan temple in Bywater. News of this travel to another world brought disbelief from most of the Nuadans, who believed that Grund is the only world in the universe. Some postulated that the entire encounter was a mass illusion created by the power of the solar, or even some fell creature trying to deceive the adventurers. Others thought the band may have been transported to Ulwarth, the dark continent on the opposite side of Grund where evil is thought to hold sway. In any case these last adventurers in Abberwyvern healed up and moved on, most heading back to Bywater.
Hammer 7, 1508: At this point Fharo finally returned from an extensive tour of his lands to Abberwyvern village--only to find all the adventurers had left! He sent a note to his comrades saying how sorry he was for not being there when the fighting was taking place, and also warned that the grave of the slain ghost Hieronymous Antonovitch Smitchkopf had been dug up and his bones taken, for purposes unknown.
Midwinter, 1508, Wererats: Back in Bywater amid the Midwinter festivities, the Archmage Gondal contacted Black Arrow, Elsinor, Elrich, and Greylin. He had something of a lycanthrope problem; a band of Mask-worshipping wererats had taken up residence under the College of War Wizardry. Soon the band headed into the sewers, accompanied by the wizard recently rescued from the nether world they had encountered in Abberwyvern, Klaus von Rothenberg. They were soon beset by wererat archers using poisoned arrows. This proved rather difficult as the wererats remained in the darkness, attacking in a guerilla fashion. Rather than tarry, the band decided to press on to the temple. As they entered, Black Arrow and Elsinor were affected by a confusion spell, and things looked bleak. There were dozens of wererats and hidden behind them, a mage and a cleric. Elrich soon dispelled the confusion (and a pair of Black Arrow's potions) and the tide turned. Elsinor was nearly slain, but Greylin's teleporting right behind the spell-casters diverted their attention. Meanwhile, Klaus cast an effective lightning bolt while Black Arrow slew every wererat that approached him. Indeed, the lycanthrope hunter's ring of free action served him well that day, warding off a hold, slow, and even the grasp of an Evard's Black Tentacle.
Seeing their minions dead, the priest and cleric surrendered. Greylin immediately questioned one of them, and when he was done, Black Arrow slew it. The other told of a werewolf leader, Lord Stef Ranken, who dwelled in the woods to the south. Greylin prevented Black Arrow from slaying the creature, but later, he fired a single arrow into it. The Inquisitor-Captain revived the creature with spells, to the lycanthrope hunter's disgust. He intended to bring it back for interrogation, but Black Arrow had other ideas.
Alturiak 3, 1509: Black Arrow contacted Calvin, who was just finishing his training. The lycanthrope hunter had learned from Greylin that Hernando was imprisoned and appealed to Calvin to save his fellow thief. When this didn't work, he reminded him that Bywater’s Shadow Guild would probably offer a high reward for the rescue of one of their high council. Black Arrow also offered Calvin a thousand nobles to slay the werewolf Greylin had taken captive earlier. Thus in one stroke, he would slay another lycanthrope and save his former comrade, with no risk to himself. Calvin prepared himself to break into the very Temple of Nuada itself.
Alturiak 8, 1508, Stef Ranken: The band of Black Arrow, Greylin, Elsinor, Elrich, and the silent Klaus (who had oddly disappeared during the battle) set off to the south. Each night, a daemon attacked and fled. When the band reached the supposed area of the werewolf lord, they found a cottage with a female ranger. Elrich began by insulting her. Later that night he was drained by a floating head, the same happened the next night. The band suspected the woman and broke in upon her, casting all manner of undead affecting spells to no avail. Forced to apologize, the party headed out.
Alturiak 30, 1508: The band saw a cloud giant and some humans; Black Arrow immediately recognized them as lycanthropes. The weregiant had a very bad time of it, as Elsinor the giant killer and Black Arrow the lycanthrope hunter felled it with gleeful ease. Black Arrow then started firing his bow Wolf's Bane at the were-creatures, as the rest of the band engaged the daemon that had harried them earlier. Unfortunately, the ranger was blinded by a gem of brilliance one of them had. Nevertheless, he waded in and started cutting the creatures down. The rest of the band was hard-pressed, but soon slew the creature. After the battle, Black Arrow administered belladonna to himself and Greylin, but soon found he had contracted lycanthropy. Apparently, when the daemon had attacked a few days ago, his very touch had carried the disease. The lycanthrope hunter was mildly perturbed--this being the third time it had happened to him in his career--and decided to travel to Jaroo, a hierophant druid living in his home village of Logan’s Way, to perform the ritual needed to remove the curse.
Ches 1, 1508: However, the band's rest was disturbed by a dog-headed creature, Lord Stef Ranken himself. He explained that the werewolves worshipped him, but he cared not for them. In fact, he said that if the party would destroy an evil being who had a magic flask of his, he would cure their maladies (Black Arrow's lycanthropy, Elrich's draining by the undead head). The party agreed and set up an ambush for the creature. When it emerged from its cave, Black Arrow and Elsinor pelted it with arrows while the rest charged. Black Arrow was set upon by an ancient brass dragon, which he correctly deduced was an illusion; he soon slew it. Meanwhile, Elsinor slew the being, a dog-like creature. Greylin went in and retrieved the flask. The band later returned it to Stef Ranken, who thanked the party for slaying the creature that had stolen the magical iron flask. He laughed as he explained the party had just slain a moon dog, a great creature of good, after which he teleported away. The clerics, immediately seeing their folly in trusting a daemon, struggled for excuses, saying that they never actually got into combat.
Ches 16, 1508, Rescuing Hernando: The band traveled to Logan’s Way to see Jaroo, an old friend of Black Arrow's, who removed the lycanthropy for a mere 10,000 nobles. The raised moon dog, Dante Algondostomyr III, berated the band in perfect Southron for attacking him, and nearly summoned a rust monster to destroy Elsinor's weapons. He chided Black Arrow for not knowing better and charged him a deed for penance. He would join with the moon dog to slay all the gathered werewolves in the area. Black Arrow cheerfully left, while the rest of the party, appalled at what they had done, marched back to Bywater.
Meanwhile, Calvin set to rescue Hernando, having been told by Black Arrow he was being held in the Nuadan House of the Silver Hand in Bywater. He found that Ravenscar, head of the Shadow Guild, was indeed willing to pay much for the thief's return (mostly because of Hernando's items) but would not provide him with any Guild thief assistance lest the Nuadans descend upon the Guild. So, Calvin sought his own assistance, contacting some friends of his, and ended up with Corsair, a half-elven fighter/thief (smuggler) from Alcester. Corsair was adept at making quick plans, but rarely thought them out fully. The pair's first attempt to capture and extract information from a priest failed as they fled the scene. The two rogues later charmed an inquisitor and accompanied him as honored guests into the temple, where they learned much of the layout of the place. They decided to make their attempt during the great ceremony when power in the Duchy of Anorien was transferred from the Regent, Grand Marshal Anaximander, back to Duke Duncan (he had been away campaigning in the Civil War for the past few years).
Ches 24, 1508: Several days later, the pair of thieves enacted their daring rescue attempt. Corsair used dust of illusion to appear as Inquisitor-Captain Greylin Lofalkin, and had Calvin bound and taken into the Temple. Acting brusque and official, Corsair-Greylin registered Calvin, but was dismayed when the priests took his items; as this was a standard procedure for prisoners, there was little he could do, though Calvin cursed him during the rest of the break-in for it. The only problem was that the guards would not divulge the location of Hernando, saying only that he was in the same cell, he hadn't been moved, etc. The two found the wererat and led him to the torture chamber, when the chief inquisitor, a cambion (half-demon - purportedly "good") entered and via telepathy, deduced that the two were impostors. They traded blows for a minute or two and then ran in terror, using dust of disappearance to escape to the item repository. There Calvin slew a wizard and retrieved his items (along with a strange healing ring and a potion or two) while Corsair held off five elite guards. Corsair was mortally wounded, but Calvin, after casting darkness in the room, gave him a potion of healing. The two then used polymorph magicks and escaped.
Ches 25, 1509: The mission was not quite a success, but it was profitable in items and bragging rights As it happened, Ravenscar was forced to wish Hernando back, though he charged quite a fair price for the return of the newest member of the Shadow Guild Council. Hernando owed a great debt to Ravenscar, and pledged to fulfill it as soon as possible.
The thieves set out to ruin the reputation of the Anorien Inquisition by exposing the fact that the Inquisitors employed a cambion demon to do their questioning. A great scandal soon broke out, as Duke Duncan ordered the Inquisition dungeons be searched, and soon found evidence of several excesses, including the use of torture by some Inquisitors. Backed by the Church of Tyr, which was wary of the Inquisitor’s usurping of their right as justices of the land, Duke Duncan forced the end of the Inquisition, as Grand Marshal Anaximander accepted full responsibility for the excesses and stepped down in favor of his brother Anaximenes. What followed were dozens of trials of ex-Inquisitors, many of whom were executed. Even many innocents were imprisoned on trumped-up charges, such as the Miscreants’ Inquisitor Captain Greylin, sent away to serve a five year sentence for allegedly violating a priestess of Lathandra, though the case had clearly been blown out of proportion. The smoke of the pyres as the Inquisitors burned at the stake rose over Bywater for days.
Tarsakh 15, 1509, Skullport: Hernando, Kliff, and Khoresh met for a house-seeking foray to that infamous port beneath Bywater, Undermountain's dreaded Skullport. The three were accosted by Magooan the Pirate, the famous swashbuckling freedom fighter who plies the mighty Greyflood plundering Duke Duncan’s ships. He first demanded plunder, but then softened and decided to take the trio to Undermountain in his sloop, the Liberator. He also offered Khoresh, who was obviously a seasoned sailor and archer, a position in his crew should he so desire.
Tarsakh 16, 1509: Once in town, the mysterious floating skulls that maintain law and order within town charged Khoresh with the job of vanquishing the Ghost of Taglath Gap within two days. Accepting this warily, the trio checked at the Skullport Island Registry to see if their apartment was ready, only to find that a bunch of extra-planar squatters were there. The party met Drake, capable human ally of the red dragon Brazzamel. Together they slew a crimson death, and killed the six electrified suits of armor--shockers--inhabiting their new apartment. It was a nasty fight, as the beings threw chain lightnings and even when hit by weapons conducted electricity to their attackers. On the next day, walking by the edge of town, Khoresh heard an enchanting song about death and compulsively followed it into the caves. He came upon a bard playing a lute, who promptly whirled around and attacked, screaming about how mortals are so fascinated with death and that he would sate their curiosity. The ghost was peculiar in that he seemed solid and not decayed, save for a single bloody hole in his forehead. Kliff was mesmerized by the spectacle for a time, but later summoned enough strength to attack the creature. Only powerful magic weapons could harm the creature, and soon the band had so wounded the being that it seemed he must dissipate, but he did not! All told, the band hacked at it enough times to kill a normal ghost several times over, yet it had no apparent effect. Both Khoresh and Hernando received vicious permanent scars and were drained of their karmic strength (-1 Charisma). In the end, Kliff put a mirror to the thing's face and made it confront its own death, which it vehemently denied. This sight drove it into the cavern walls howling.
Kliff began walking back to Skullport with his comrades' bodies slung over his shoulders, but was accosted by a beholder (apparently, Misker the Pirate Tyrant is not the only beholder active in Skullport) by the name of Uthh. He claimed that he was the new master of Taglath Gap, and charged a "toll," Khoresh's minor protection ring. Kliff was unhappy about this, but saw little alternative.
The trio was healed by priests of Mask and went to Drake's to enlist his aid in laying the ghost to rest permanently. Clad in a robe, he opened the door to his apartment irritably--within, in his bed, was a softly moaning mind flayer, her tentacles tied together above her head. The party apologized for their intrusion, and soon the pair, Drake and Halzunthra were briefed on the ghost problem. Since the bard was
evidently slain by a mind flayer 30 years ago, Halzunthra suggested that the trio ask the local illithid high priestess of Loviatar, Mistress of Pain. The band declined, but asked Halzunthra to accompany them, thinking that the sight of the bard's slayer (all mind flayers look the same) might prove his weakness. This they did, and surprisingly enough, the bard was mesmerized by the illithid, crouching in the corner, but seemingly unable to phase through. The party then attacked the ghost, and though it put up some resistance, soon dispelled it. On the way back, Drake and Halzunthra bid their farewell and the trio came upon four crimson deaths feasting on some goblins. They avoided these and returned to their apartment.
Tarsakh 17, 1509: The next night they joined Magooan on the Liberator and sailed out of Skullport. Khoresh decided to sign on with the famous pirate captain, and was appointed Master Gunner, just as he had been on the Endurance. After some magic scrying, however, Magooan found that Khoresh was evil, and he expressed concern over this. He explained that he would seek out a certain helm that would allow him to choose the ethos that best suited him. Khoresh of course declined, saying he was happy as he was; Magooan simply nodded knowingly and smiled to himself.
Tarsakh 28 1509, Baslor's Deception: Greylin had spent the weeks since returning from Abberwyvern deep in prayer, but his worship was soon cut short. The Nuadans warned Greylin of an increase in humanoid attacks on the Cruth frontier and sent him off for those goblin-infested mountains. Likewise, Black Arrow, who was not far away, was attacked by a werebat in the night, and followed as it fled--also toward the Cruth. Hernando also had been ordered by Ravenscar to obtain a certain two-headed flail from a gnoll-chieftain in the area. The three met at one of the northern Cruth passes, though Hernando appeared as Cruellish, a strange gnoll female thief who no one really trusted. The trio decided to press onward, and soon met a Taran wizard, Baslor Despande, who wore a cloth over his face. The three were initially suspicious of him, but decided a wizard could be useful in the upcoming trials. They came upon the gnoll village (apparently, this particular tribe had been mysteriously attacking others, provoking many battles in the Cruth, and there were only a few dozen gnolls left.) Cruellish went ahead invisibly to scout. A big gnoll chieftain spotted her, and used his two-headed flail to fire a ray of paralysis which stopped Cruellish in her tracks. The gnolls stripped and raped Cruellish--actually Hernando covered by illusion--while the others launched an attack. Together they slew many creatures; Black Arrow and the wizard Despande had a contest, who could kill the most gnolls. The wizard's score was inflated after he cast the initial fireball, but Black Arrow soon surpassed and beat him by two in the end. Greylin meanwhile pushed forward into the threshold of the main hut, rather inconveniently blocking the lane of fire. After getting a couple accidental arrows in his back, he sensibly moved to the side. The band stormed the hut, only to see the gnoll jump down a trap door and escape. Black Arrow and Greylin climbed down a long shaft, only to have a fireball dropped on them from above by the treacherous wizard Baslor Despande. The blast nearly ruined the lycanthrope hunter's armor; only the power of its enchantment saved it. The two moved out of sight and down the tunnel, which ran into a dead end. After searching in vain for a secret door, they climbed back up and released Cruellish, retrieving a small amount of treasure. On the way out, the three found the gnoll-leader's body, along with the flail, which Cruellish took.
The trio retreated out of the mountains and stayed at a small farmhouse. In the night, Cruellish (egged on by the intelligent evil weapon) left. The next morning Black Arrow tracked the gnoll, but the pair soon tired of following the trail and headed back to the Cruth (Cruellish later attacked the farmhouse they had stayed at, slaying the family there, and wrote in their blood, "Greylin fails again!"). The other two met up with a very strong dwarven warrior, Davon, who decided to join them. The trio ran into several minotaurs fighting peasants, but the latter were dead when they arrived on the scene. The minotaur shaman claimed that the peasants had been wildly attacking them for some reason, and that they had merely defended themselves. Black Arrow of course asked about werebats, and found that the minotaurs used them as scouts. It maddened him that the creature would not elaborate, so he challenged him to single combat, not necessarily to the death, to obtain more information. The minotaur launched into a tirade about how human adventurers always think they have the right to kill humanoids, etc, and declined the challenge. Black Arrow then called his mother a gnoll, which got the minotaur angry, and promptly slain. Having learned nothing, the band went to explore more of the Cruth passes. Six hill giants soon attacked with boulders; launching quite an onslaught. Black Arrow's magic longbow shots and Davon's shots from his heavy crossbow of speed dropped one immediately, but too many of their boulders were hitting. Surprisingly, Greylin's flamestrike failed to work on the leader. Greylin then put up a wall of force from his ring and the adventurers healed themselves. They resumed combat in melee, and though severely wounded, won the fight. As it happened, the hill giant leader wore an amulet of magic resistance 15%.
Tarsakh 29, 1509: Early the next morning, in the midst of healing, the cave they were resting in was fireballed. Black Arrow, still wounded from the previous day's encounter, fell bleeding. The other two charged outside after the invisible mage, surely Baslor Despande. They soon located the mage, hiding behind a rock, and started advancing, until incoming spells forced them to take cover. Greylin flew up toward him and was hit with flesh to stone. The dwarf and the lycanthrope hunter then unknowingly fired at a projected image of the mage, as he no doubt flew off invisibly elsewhere. The two remaining warriors were frustrated, and returned Greylin's stone body to Castle Bracilot. While waiting for him to be returned to normal, Black Arrow and Davon decided on a test of marksmanship to determine who should get the prized amulet. Both were quite skilled and the first contest was a tie, but Black Arrow convincingly won the second, and the amulet. Greylin was revived and took as his share most of the money. The three decided that in a month they would return.
Mirtul 22, 1509, Lost Village: When Greylin returned to Bywater he was immediately sent out by the Nuadans to reestablish contact with a village in central Anorien, Thornewood by name. He was joined by two adventurers he had met in Bywater, a Huler illusionist by the name of Beazul, and a Minoan invoker/cleric of Shinare by the name of Maurikas. On the way they encountered some fire drakes and fire falcons, creatures apparently sent into Anorien by the Fire Wizards of the Cortalish Empire to spread terror. To make a long story short, the Thornewood kept changing to one of four guises, a mage village, a cleric village, a fighter village, and the real Thornewood, battered by an earthquake. Davion, a mage of some power, had summoned three great adventurers, a mage, cleric, and fighter to search the world for arcane secrets. But while they were gone, he found a ring of wishes and thought out an elaborate wish that would give him great arcane knowledge. Unfortunately, the adventurers returned, laden with magic scrolls and tomes just as he was uttering his wish. Davion exclaimed, "Give me all you've got!", and so they did. Davion's personality became split, absorbing aspects of the three adventurers. Thornewood likewise changed, assuming one of the four identities every ten minutes.
Davion finally confronted the three newcomers when he feared they were learning too much of his situation; forcing them to fight doubles of themselves. Greylin, Beazul, and Maurikas barely prevailed. Soon after, they attacked Davion himself, and Greylin was nearly slain by a finger of death. However, the trio had earlier convinced the cleric in Thornewood that Davion was occupying her mind, and she used the ring of wishes to separate from him, only to be slain by one of Davion's disintegrate spells. The ring, however, survived, and lay where it fell as Greylin advanced upon the wizard. Maurikas teleported to its location, but ended up 10' too low and was instantly slain. Beazul soon got the ring and, against Greylin's shouts, wished they were all back in Bywater. Thus the two had Maurikas raised and told the Gondal of what had transpired. The Archmage of Bywater muttered something about trying out "that meteor swarm spell" and teleported off to deal with the situation. It was later found out that he slew Davion, released the two remaining adventurers, and claimed the lion's share of the magic they had retrieved for himself.
Kythorn 15, 1509, Finding "Justice": Greywolf was dispatched by the priesthood of Tyr to recover an ancient artifact supposedly lost when the Cortals stormed a castle where a high priest of Tyr was staying many years earlier. Greywolf was accompanied by Kliff and the Huler illusionist Beazul. The three traveled to the Cortalish frontier in Sylmarch, not far from Houndstooth village. They were attacked by many humanoids, including trolls and giants. Yet the band eventually traveled to the ruined castle, attacked by a pesky, invisible ogre magi the whole time. The trio found a secret cavern underneath the castle, and after several easily defeated encounters, found the resting place of the High Priest of Tyr slain so long ago. The artifact they sought was gone, but Greywolf did retrieve "Justice," a magic saber once wielded by the former High Priest. Greywolf of course retrieved the bones of the fallen priest and returned them for proper burial.
The three then traveled to Baron Elrich's fief, Castle Wraithstone, for his Midsummer ennoblement. Here were assembled many of the Baron's adventuring companions, gathered together for the official granting of the land to the new Baron.
Flamerule 16, 1509, Rakshasa Lord: Many came to Wraithstone for the ceremony, but among the first were Black Arrow--who respected Elrich ever since he slew a mighty loup-garou werewolf single-handedly at Rockburgh two years earlier. Also there were Black Arrow’s new comrade Dante the moon dog, the cleric/mage Maurikas--who had made Black Arrow's acquaintance on the way to Wraithstone and decided to drop in on the celebration--and Gileus, a mighty dwarven warrior who had played a prominent role in the Battle of Wyrm's Gap, fighting alongside the Baron. As the ceremony was not to begin for another week, they decided to help the Baron by investigating an outlying hamlet from which a messenger had not returned. As there is no dearth of humanoids in the foothills of the Barrier Peaks, they expected a weak, but numerous foe--they were mistaken.
Flamerule 17, 1509: The small valley where the hamlet lay was perfect in all respects. Yet there was a large stone manor where there had been none before. The trio questioned the locals about the manor and they replied that they loved the new lord, but knew naught of him. Evidently, some sort of mass charm had been employed and resolved to play along and meet the new lord. They had Dante stay behind, but when a peasant later tried to tie him up, he threw a dancing lights to frighten him away. Unfortunately, this merely brought down the attention of the lord's servant, who escorted all four into the manor.
Within, they met with the lord, who had a Huler look to him. He managed to subtly charm Maurikas, and had his servant lead him to a room. Dante, suspecting what had happened, followed, as association with a moon dog for half an hour removes charms. With Maurikas and Dante gone, the lord calmly stated he would slay the others. At this point, Gileus leapt into combat swinging his axe, while Black Arrow started firing arrows. The initial onslaught wounded the lord, but he soon hit Gileus with his sword. While the wound was minor, a minute later, using the energy he had drained from the dwarf, his sword glowed. The strange runes of soldiers on his blade came to life as human-sized warriors and leapt to attack. Maurikas, Dante, and the servant joined to the fray. The lord was casting spells now, so Black Arrow hit the creature with an anti-magic arrow, giving the others time to dispatch the summoned warriors. The warriors were quite fearsome, and some had magic blades, but disappeared when slain.
By then, the lord, who revealed himself as none other than a rakshasa maharajah, ripped the arrow free, and began spell casting. His cone of cold slew the valiant dwarf Gileus, but left Black Arrow untouched thanks to his amulet; the moon dog likewise took no damage. Maurikas was off to the side and thus suffered no damage, but all his spells proved ineffectual. Black Arrow continued to fire at the creature, wounding it to half of its strength, when eight animated statues entered the room. Had this not occurred, perhaps it would have been the creature's end, as it could not cast spells through the hail of arrows now directed at it. But with the new attackers, the odds were hopeless. At this point, Dante went ethereal, taking Black Arrow, Maurikas, and Gileus' body along with him. The band headed back to Wraithstone to tell the Baron of what had transpired; the Rakshasa Maharajah had said that this was his vacation home, and that he cared not whose land it was on.
Flamerule 19, 1509, Rakshas's Deception: When the group returned to Castle Wraithstone, Baron Elrich was furious that some extra-planar squatter had occupied one of his villages. He sent a summons to his friends and companions in the Miscreants and Bywater Six to help end this menace. He also requested aid from the Knights of the Silver Hand and, in his role as secular lord, the Army of Southold. Soon an army six hundred strong was massed at Wraithstone, ready to face this invasion of Southold and indeed the very Prime Material Plane. The night before this happened, the great adventurers shared a common dream, sent via spell to dissuade their endeavors by the Rakshasa Maharajah. It depicted the death of all the adventurers and the slaughter of their army. In brief, that terrible nightmare went something like this:
Aerial servants attacked initially, snatching Baron Elrich, Calvin, Gunter, Liet, and Elsinor, slaying them all. The rest of the adventurers nonetheless set off for the manor, part going ethereal, part walking in visibly. The ethereal group was ambushed by a 40 foot tall extra-planar creature which attacked and fled, going from plane-to-plane with a speed impossible in real life--yet this was all a dream. The party continued in and fought several rakshasas, and slew two of them, pursuing a third. Then there was a fight with the leader himself, who put an anti-magic shell around himself so none could harm him. Kliff, Black Arrow, and the dwarf Gileus finally managed to disarm him of his dreaded sword, and this was put in the portable hole. Yet when the Maharajah moved outside, the giant creature appeared behind Black Arrow and slew him. Meanwhile, inside, Beazul was slain by the multiple fireballs the rakshasas within were throwing. The battle raged, and soon Gileus and Greylin fell prey to the massive damage spells being thrown. By now the cat-statues were dead. Even Dante retreated to his home plane to get help when two jann pursued him on the ethereal plane. But in the dream at least, help did not come soon enough. The creature, who had been severely wounded by Kliff and Greywolf's onslaught then threw a cubic gate in front of him--the two were instantly transported to the demi-plane of the Rakshasa, and a hundred of these creatures feasted on their corpses. As the Rakshasa Maharajah left the Prime, the "vacation home" did as it was created to do--it destroyed itself. The ceiling collapsed on the hapless Maurikas, pinning him under tons of rock an instant before he got his teleport spell off. But the dream did not end here--it then showed the Maharajah and legions of Rakshasa pour into the Prime through the Cubic Gate and massacring the assembled army. With this image of bloodshed, the adventurers mercifully woke up.
Flamerule 20, 1509: The adventurers rose with grim thoughts the next day, but decided to march nonetheless. Their massive host soon arrived at the valley, only to see plumes of smoke and devastation. The peasants were destroying the manor, and burning its contents. They spoke of two dozen majestic, dark dogs who came into town under the light of the full moon the night before, and attacked the manor. They heard the sounds of combat and then, the most beautiful sound any of them had ever heard. It was the baying of twenty moon dogs, the absolute purity and beauty of which has the power to drive extra-planar evil creatures back to their own nightmarish worlds in screaming agony, similar to destroying their physical forms on the Prime Material Plane. Thus was the Rakshasa Maharajah vanquished. True, in 666 days he could return, but with the welcome given to him on his latest trip, the band suspected he’d choose his vacation site more carefully next time. Apparently, Dante had left to get his fellow moon dogs to help in ridding Arik of this extra-planar menace.
Midsummer, 1509: With the crisis over, Baron Elrich held a great feast in Castle Wraithstone. Soon after, many of the gathered adventurers left. Black Arrow headed for the Cortalish Empire, to investigate reports of enhanced lycanthropes being bred by Vecna. Gileus headed back to Rockhome, Maurikas to Dunthrane, and Beazul back to Bywater. The Knights of the Silver Hand returned to Bracilot, while the Southolder troops waited in case there were further rakshasa problems. Only the Bywater Six remained, and spent a week relaxing.
Eleasias 8, 1509, Dargaard Keep: Soon there was word of an army marching on Castle Wraithstone. It was a massive host of undead led by none other than Lord Soth, Master of Deathknights. The vast army surrounded the castle and brought up siege engines. Elrich told Gunter “I told you so”—referring to the incident the previous year in this castle when Gunter claimed he had single-handedly slain the deathknight with a single blow from Deepchill. As he parlayed to the defenders in the castle, Lord Soth explained that he had sent an illusion to dissuade the Bywater Six and the Third and First Bywater Expeditionary Armies then assembled nearby in the closing days of the Civil War from attacking in strength. Now that the armies and their adventuring allies were gone, he would destroy the famed "Six" and nullify the false prophecy of his own doom. The Master of Deathknights left Sir Cyrik (who as a deathknight had been reformed despite his destruction in the Temple of Bane under Bywater years earlier) and three skeletal knights to preside over the siege, which he predicted would be over within a week. Soth himself returned to Dargaard keep to let the siege do its work. Things looked grim for Elrich’s new fief.
The Bywater Six decided they must infiltrate their way out of the castle, sneak into Soth’s Daargard Keep three days’ forced march away, and destroy the deathknight before Wraithstone fell, leaving them perhaps four days to accomplish their mission in Daargard.
Eleasias 11, 1509: The band easily infiltrated the siege lines of undead surrounding Wraithstone, and made their way into the mountains and to the great citadel. It stood on the edge of the mountains along a great chasm, and its central tower had nine levels ascending to the peak. The adventurers sneaked by the outer guardians, but were confronted on the bridge to the Keep by none other than Caius Vipsanius Agrippa, former Invoker of the Intrepid Paragon. Agrippa had been captured by Victor von Drakov, Patriarch of Vampires nearly three years ago. The Vampire lord transformed Agrippa into one of his own kind and took his magic items, but when the Intrepid Paragon destroyed Drakov, Agrippa was able to flee. He traveled to Lord Soth, but had little loyalty, as he was now free-willed. In fact, he negotiated with his former comrades to allow them to enter Dargaard Keep for a considerable horde of magic items. He took these and fled, leaving Lord Soth to his fate.
The adventurers faced every manner of undead within, trying Elrich's turing abilities to the limit and beyond; spectres, vampires, ghouls, skeletal warriors, and still they came. Near the summit of the Keep's great tower, they met a Crypt Thing, who randomly teleported the adventurers to separate parts of the Keep. It was only with great difficulty that the three groups of individuals found their way back and continued their ascent.
Eleasias 15, 1509, Facing Lord Soth: At the summit was Lord Soth's throne room, and there he sat, waiting for the heroes, deathknight lieutenants at his side. The room was decorated as it had been 15 centuries before, when the Cataclysm came, even to the scorched floor and ashes where his beloved had died to Soth's evil, a reminder to torment him. Indeed, he joined the fight seemingly aware and welcoming his own doom as a release. Yet the battle was fierce, with Liet slain and several other members downed by the Master of Deathknights' fireballs and minions. Yet Gunter Duplicis was protected from the gouts of flame by the Talisman of Hulgar, just as the prophecy foretold, and soon both champions were teetering from their duel; the next blow landed would decide the battle. Gunter brought Deepchill crashing down into the undead abomiantion's helm, and the malevolent lights which served as his eyes faded, and the armor collapsed to the ground. The sword yelled a victory cry, for Lord Soth was dead, and with him, his minions faded away.
They had not time to wait, for Dargaard Keep was swiftly going to join its master in destruction, as geat rips appeared in it. The band fled just as the ancient keep slid down the chasm and into legend. For the great bard Anson Adams exclaimed that he would pen a great epic, Six Against Dargaard, to celebrate the great deed. The quest they had pursued for years, almost back to the formation of their adventuring party, was at an end.
But there was little time to celebrate, for arriving back at Elrich's fief, they discovered that the legendary beast the Tarrasque had destroyed Castle Wraithstone, briefly summoned in some powerful ritual by Lord Soth before his own destruction. Baron Elrich resolved to rebuild the castle just as it was, and the band continued on the long road to Bywater, their old home, not breathing easy until they were back at their own quarters at Blaskor's Retreat. They were congratlated by all and sundry, from Gondal, Eskahelion,to Duke Duncan and even Eltan of the Flaming Fist. And after the celebrations, they enjoyed a well-earned respite for battle for a time.
It was after that great triumph over their longtime nemisis that the Bywater Six decided to merge with their fellow adventurers in th Miscreants. They called themselves the Intrepid Paragon.
Go to next part, Bywater Six Stats (final, 2nd Edition)
Continue the story under the Intrepid Paragon Summary section