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Context: Letter sent by the Fire Wizard--first encountered by the band at Fharo's barony as a ghost, later raised (by the band's old nemisis Janus, "the Benefector," though this only became evdent at the last). At the Ffenargh in the Drentmoors, they skimished. Here he tried to establish his frienship with the band.

To those who call themselves the Intrepid Paragon,

Midsummer 1510

It is I, your friend Vladimir Antonivich Smitchkoff (known to some of you as Hieronymous Bosco, former ghost of Abberwyvern Manor). I must say you were quite a challenge - the enchanted rod carried by the dwarf is quite powerful. The irony of our conflict is that I had no intention of slaying you. I merely wished to test you, to provide a challenge and thus cull any weaker members of your band. You see, my new Lord has a great plan for your band, that you may fulfil your destiny. He discovered your potential while observing the Miscreants fight, and has followed their adventures with interest ever since. This Benefactor we share foresaw the merge with the Bywater Six, and subtly aided that band's development. I too owe a great debt to this powerful being, for He gave me back my life.

You see, He was watching that day in Abberwyvern when several of you defeated my (rather weak) ghost. His minions, of which he has many, unearthed my body, and I was soon resurrected from the dead. However, I was at first ungrateful, especially because of His views about the "Balance" of the world. Thus I left for home, my beloved Gos, the city of deceit and great power which you know as the capital of the mighty Cortalish Empire. Alas, my old rivals, the great Arch Fire Wizards Malec Keth, Forest, and Belten as well as the liches Xozyin and Pomeranian were against me, and convinced the Whispered One to send me to this stinking Ffenargh to prove myself. I knew I would face some test of my loyalty, as I had fled the intrigues of Gos over a decade ago to hide in Abberwyvern.

Well, seeing these swamp yokels would never put aside their petty isolationism and aid the Empire (and knowing full well that failure meant death back in Gos), I contacted Him again. He promised to take me in as the chief lieutenant in His great master cause, whose plan was set into motion decades ago in a place both very far and yet very near to here. Of course, I shall have to keep a Mind Blank spell cloaking me for the rest of my days, lest the Whispered One or my ample Cortal rivals discover me. You were quite fortunate I had not yet memorized that powerful spell, or your attempts at beguiling, potent though they were, would have been for nought.

You are probably wondering about how I avoided your charm; it was quite simple actually. After initially being charmed, I proceeded to cast all my defensive spells to prepare for the battle raging outside. One of them, a certain Iron Mind protected me from your item. Its quite a useful spell actually, in a limited fashion (unlike the infinitely more powerful Mind Blank, Iron Mind merely lasts for an hour rather than a day, and has no protection against scrying devices and wish-magic).

I must say its been nice meeting you face to face again, though your original bull-headed tactic of charging my room with a mere two warriors was foolish (and would have been fatal if not for the charm). Its a pity poor Nikita Yakovlevich Ymov was slain, I'll have to find another Fire Apprentice to complete my Circle. Yet this is easily done; good-bye for now you who call yourselves "the Intrepid Paragon." I and my Lord will be watching you (though I am certain you will not do likewise to us). As for myself, I have an appointment with a cloud giant.

Your Faithful Comrade,

Arch Fire Wizard Vladimir Antonovich Smitchkoff

 

Context: Letter sent from Colstan Rhuul to his Banite superior, in the early days of the Disjunction plan, in order to launch attacks to disrupt Southold's reaction to the plan. Rhuul was to set up base in Dieg Manor, which the Intrepid Paragon later stormed.

To Dread Master Zulkir of Anorien
From Colstan Rhuul, Submaster of Anorien
Tarsakh 1, 1511

The plan progresses admirably. The neighbors have become a bit suspicious of late, but no action has been taken. Perhaps I should have sweated more information about from that merchant pig about his
personal habits, rather than merely his business secrets before disposing of him. It has been difficult, but I have maintained my identity, even under questioning at Dory's. Both myself and our agent there, Therkle,
agree that the best time to attack would be at midnight on a weekend, when most of Bywater's rich and powerful are drunk and in one room. An attack at such an hour would also forestall any response and create the maximum terror and confusion.

Still, I must have more information -- when is the great disturbance to come, a month, or even a year from now? My hired assassins should arrive by Mirtul and I will have trouble keeping the mercenaries occupied past Higharvestide. I must say however, that Carlan Dieg's trade empire, rivaled in Bywater by only that of the Sashenstar family, generates quite a profit. Such sums should keep the mercenaries quiet for several months at least. They have also proven sufficient to lure the many assassins from the Masters of the Bountiful Hunt here. As per your request, I enclose a roster of the forces at Dieg Manor on the following page.

In my analysis, the main opposition comes from five quarters. First are the adventuring companies, currently the Intrepid Paragon and the Deep Delvers are the only organized groups in town -- the former could be difficult, though I have defeated them before. Second is the Church of Nuada; while most of the clerics are at war, the few who remain are quite powerful. Nevertheless, Anaximenes is not his brother - if faced with utter chaos, he will merely strike out blindly and in an uncoordinated manner. The ducal guards also pose a threat, though a small one due to their numbers. The College of War Wizardry would also be a dangerous threat. Unlike the battle-crazed Nuadans, I expect Gondal would marshal his forces, creating a bastion from which to launch magic sallies. However, the paramount problem is the one battalion of 200 Flaming Fist troops always stationed in Bywater. It is imperative that we strike when their leaders, Eltan, Moruene, and Scar are absent, which they usually are.

I say again., I need more information on the nature of the "disturbance" we are supposed to take advantage of. Surely the Spidered Throne can reveal more to us, for, as you know, Greater Divination has
failed. Is there to be some great offensive? Some great magic invocation? Why is the Whispered One loathe to reveal any useful information to we, Bane's most faithful? I feel as if some great plan is afoot, and we are being left in the dark, as pawns in a great game of Lanceboard. You'd think they could spare a Fire Wizard or two also; Lanthalim just isn't as bold as he was before Gondal slew him. Nevertheless, Dread Master, you have my word that I shall uphold my duty, and prepare for the coming day.

Bane be praised,
Colstan Rhuul
Submaster of Anorien
Roster of Banite Agents in Dieg Manor

Mercenaries
Therkle (also doubles as merchant spy at Dory's) and 7 men-at-arms
Parsel and 13 men-at-arms
Daedalus, 2 lieutenants, and 16 brigand spearmen, 7 brigand archers

Assassins
Hyrmie (spy in thieves' guild)
Barton and Larton, compatriots of Kalathan
20 Masters of the Bountiful Hunt led by Suriel (expected by Mirtul)

Clerics of Bane
Myself (Colstan Rhuul, Submaster of Anorien)
Molug, Deputy Submaster of Anorien
Underpriests: Hefus, Karrok, Jamboo

Creatures
Earth Monolith (summoned and restrained with great difficulty by Lanthalim)
Dracolisk
Two-headed troll
25 juju zombies (send more prisoners for conversion by Slay Living)
Rex, the savage war dog
enough bones to create 250+ skeletons on demand

Other Possible Assets to be Recruited
Avareene and her Snatch-Band
Swords of Montinelle adventuring company
Blacktalons Mercenary Company
Drow and other evil individuals in Skullport
Other creatures, preferably trolls, from the nearby Trollhattens

Context: The reply by Rhuul's superior after Dieg Manor fell, attaching the Lich Pomeranian to Rhuul and ordering them to pursue the Intrepid Paragon.

To Colstan Rhuul, Submaster of Anorien
From Zulkir, Dread Master of Anorien

Kythorn 1, 1511

I read your scouting report with great interest. So, the Intrepid Paragon have returned. I have sent this information back to Darkhold Keep, and they have dispatched Pomeranian to serve under you for the coming days. I had a difficult time persuading the High Dread Master that we should retain control of this operation, but he relented in the end. The fact that you have crossed swords with several of the former-Bywater Six and are intimately familiar with Anorien won him over. I would beware of Pomeranian though, his desire to recover his damnable Pipes of Doom is greater than his dedication to Bane, I fear.

Gos also agreed with your questions about the Emperor. He has been absent from the Spidered Throne for months now, though his elite personal guard have tried to conceal that fact. I believe what we of the Priesthood of Bane have always feared has come to pass; the Emperor has turned on his master and patron, Bane, and is making a bid for power, likely full godhood, himself. As you know, ever since his ascendance to demigod and uneasy oaths of fealty to Bane after the First Cortalish War, we of the priesthood of Bane have been wary for this day. While we succeeded in subverting his Cult in the Empire to the worship of Bane many years ago, it flourishes in many other lands. We believe he may be using their support as a springboard to catapult himself into godhood.

However, by our accounts, their numbers are too few -- he will need many more worshippers. I believe we can safely assume he is responsible for the Great Disjunction between the Heavens and Grund. Perhaps he intends to give the mortals of Grund no other choice but to worship him? I do not know. Whatever his machinations, the Emperor must be stopped at all costs. Once I have word that you have accomplished this task, the High Dread Master shall usurp the throne of the Cortalish Empire, and at long last institute a true Banite theocracy. The political arrangements will be difficult, most likely we will have to arrange a triumvirate with the army and Fire Wizards -- but we shall hold the true power -- as it should be. We shall also use the hordes of reinforcements that Vecna has been keeping away from the fighting with the Southrons -- his foolish policy shall end at long last.

Once again, Rhuul, you must succeed at all costs. Follow the Intrepid Paragon, as they seem to have some inkling as to what Vecna's plot is about. If you can discover what information they have acquired, then you may speedily dispatch them with Pomeranian's aid, but be wary, such servants of Bane as Lord Soth, Master of Deathknights and Count Victor von Drakov, Patriarch of Vampires, have fallen before them. Retrieving their information or any items that might be useful against Vecna must take precedence. Do not fight to the death -- if you must, distasteful as it is, you are authorized to make a truce with the Intrepid Paragon to defeat our common enemy, the Whispered One. Use whatever means necessary to foil Vecna's treacherous plot.

Bane be praised,

Zulkir
Dread Master of Anorien

 

Context: Letter from Gondal asking the band to investigate Dieg Manor, while he left to investigate Halamader's Tomb (the false Vecna) where he and the entire Conclave of Wizards would meet their deaths.

To the Company of the Intrepid Paragon,

On the First Day of Tarsakh, 1511

I have a task for you (or for whomever remains of your band, for I am told they have scattered to the four winds during the winter.). I obtained permission from Duke Duncan to "task" you with my little request. As I believe you all carry a title of nobility or at least a commission, you are obliged to follow these instructions. You must forgive my brusqueness, but matters of great import have arisen and demand my immediate attention; I could not run the risk of your refusal. After all, with the Lucky Seven travelling again in Hule, and the Knights of the Lyre on some secret mission for the King, my only recourse besides your band would be the Deep Delvers, who, though they have gained a good deal of experience, lack wisdom and respect.

I would send Liet with you if I did not have to leave myself. An ancient evil beckons me, indeed, the entire Conclave of Wizards, to the North. I fear it has something to do with the prophecy of the Hexad you imparted to me earlier, and with the sayings of Shalfrey the Sage. Whatever comes of this, it is on a grand scale, affecting the magic of all of Arik, and perhaps Grund itself. Greater Divination magics
have ceased altogether, I have heard reports of other aberrations, but this is the only one confirmed.

For this reason, it was common informers, rather than magicks, that told me of some strange goings on in the Merchant Quarter of Bywater. A certain prominent trader of the Merchant's League, Carlan Dieg, has been acting quite strangely of late. Investigate his manor, discreetly. I fear something evil is afoot.

Once this business has been attended to, please come see me one week hence, when my disagreeable errand should be over. Good luck.

Archmage Gondal the Great
Protector of Bywater and Southold
Member of the Conclave of Wizards
Headmaster of the College of War Wizardry
Slayer of the Demon Lord Drak Venal, etc, etc.

Context: Letter from Gondal after his death, asking to continue to quest against the Disjunction.

To the Company of the Intrepid Paragon,

On the Seventh Day of Tarsakh, 1511

If you are reading this, it means that I, and the rest of the Conclave of Wizards are no more. I hesitate to put any of my suspicions on parchment, lest they fall into the wrong hands, for I do assure you, there are many agent of evil who would give much to know of these events. I will say this; our errand had to do with the location of the artifacts known as the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Moreover, we are not the only forces seeking those items of power.

These are intertwined with the Night of Evil, foretold in the prophecy of the Hexad you imparted to me earlier. Alas, that fell night may well soon come to pass, despite the efforts of Shalfrey and numerous others. Inform Bigby of what has transpired, discreetly if possible. Then you face a choice;
either live out your few remaining months in peace or take up our grim work. Do not choose lightly, for to work against this Night of Evil is to oppose the very gods. I can say no more.

As for myself, fear not; Archmages of my stature never truely die. Besides, there will be
a multitude of others, perhaps your band included, who shall perish in the trials to come.
Steel yourselves until we meet again!

Archmage Gondal the Great
Protector of Bywater and Southold
Member of the Conclave of Wizards
Headmaster of the College of War Wizardry
Slayer of the Demon Lord Drak Venal, etc.

 

 

Fire Wizard Vladimir Antonovich Smitchkoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colstan Rhuul of Bane

Colstan Rhuul of Bane

Carlan Dieg's Manor

Carlan Dieg's Manor

Dieg Basement/Caverns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Wizard Lich Pomeranian

The Lich Pomeranian Returns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archmage Gondal the Great

Archmage Gondal the Great

 

 

 

 

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