Third Sunday at Eric and Chris'

Never Split the Party
...unless it seems like fun at the time.

After encountering the gnolls and goblins the previous evening, the part proceeded cautiously on the 12th of Wealsun. Travel through the wilderness was mostly uneventful, until they found themselves entangled in a thicket of viciously thorned, restrictive brush. Much of the party was able to make it through without serious injury, but there were some small injuries when thorns embedded themselves in flesh and broke off. Over the next few days, the thorn injuries would grow infected and present a minor inconvenience while they healed.

The 13th to 15th Wealsun proved to be easy traveling, ith the party making uncommonly rapid progress, but in the late morning of the 16th, the party triggered a swinging log trap that they easily avoided. Proceeding more cautiously, they found the site of a battle. The corpses of two cultists remained at the site, but there was no clear indication of who or what they had fought. Their injuries appeared to be cause by weapons, not creatures. 

Two clear paths led from the scene of the battle. One path, to the north west, seemed to be caused by injured individuals fleeing the scene, while the other path, to the north east, showed signs of human-sized creatures being dragged on the ground.

Kefrey's bow indicated she was to the north west, but the path to the north west indicated there was a lingering threat. The party was unable to decide which path was most urgent to follow, and determined to split up and follow each path for no more than one day, and meet back at the site of the battle.

Einarr, Kree, and Rardem departed in the direction Kefrey had gone, while Alina, Trastor, and Aelef took the north east path.

After a relatively short time, proceeding cautiously, Alina, Trastor, and Aelef arrived at a large, ancient tree with a tunnel entrance amongst it's twisted and gnarled roots. The drag marks  went down into the tunnel, so the party cautiously entered. The tunnel started out relatively small, forcing the party to crouch uncomfortably, but before too long, the passage widened and grew taller. The towering barbarian still had to stoop a bit, but the others were able to walk upright. After a time, the party encountered a small group of green-scaled kobolds, which they handily dispatched before proceeding on.

Gradually, the passage appeared to be more artificial and finished, until it opened out into a triangular chamber with an exit at each vertex. The room featured a number of bowl-shaped depressions, perhaps a foot in diameter and six inches deep in the floor. Scattered about on the floor were a few pieces of a hard, chalky, greenish stone. Each stone was uniform thickness, slightly curved as if part of a broken hemisphere sized to fit the depressions in the floor.

The party proceeded down the passage to the right from where they entered, and after a short time encountered a second small group of green-scaled kobolds, which they again quickly defeated, with two of the kobolds fleeing before the party. Chasing the kobolds, the party came to a secondary passage heading toward the surface, which the kobolds had clearly taken. wary of walking into a trap, the party was deliberating how best to proceed when they heard a terror-stricken scream of horror that suddenly cut off. Recognizing the scream likely came from a human throat, the party pelted headlong down the passage and into an oval-shaped room.

Enrobed kobolds stood around the perimeter of the room, motionless except for their chanting, facing a pool of water contained by a circular stone wall. On opposite sides of the knee-high wall, two bound cultists knelt, each with his upper body laid across the wall. One appeared to be dragged partly into the water, his body limp, his head submerged, and his blood spreading into the water. Enraged at this clear human sacrifice, Trastor cleaved the nearest kobold in two, but before anyone else could act, a reptilian head on a sinuous neck erupted from the pool, seizing the second cultist, snapping his neck and dragging him into the water.

Recognizing the draconic threat they faced, the party focused their efforts on the wyrmling. as they struggled with the evil creature, the kobolds continued chanting, taking no action to intervene. After defeating the dragon, the party turned, ready to sell their lives dearly, but were perplexed to see the kobolds quietly filing out of the room, their ritual clearly concluded. Recognizing that breaking the seeming truce would almost certainly lead to all of their deaths, our heroes remained alert and poised for battle, but made no further aggressive moves as the kobolds departed.

Confused, but determined not to miss this opportunity to recover what could only have been ill-gotten treasure, Alina and Aelef retrieved various items of value the kobolds had thrown in the pool as offerings to their now-deceased incipient lord, while Trastor set to removing the dragon's skin, perhaps for future use as a cloak. Maybe boots and a loincloth. Something cool, in any case.

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Good Deeds, Punished
aka - Nothing is as it seems

On the 10th of Wealson, the party arrived in Veluna (of which, Verbobonc owes fealty). Knowing their charge, they headed straight to the Temple of Cuthbert, where the priests quickly begin to triage Kendalk. Realizing the seriousness of the matter, the priests asked that the party return the next day for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

With Kendalk in good hands, the party sold off their extra gems, ate some stew, and made their way to the academy of Magic and Alchemy in hopes of identifying the strange egg that they had found in the care of the Owlbear.  Once there, Kree, always on the hunt for new knowledge and capability, purchased a Scroll of Comprehend Languages and a Scroll of Speaks with Animals, while Einarr sought expertise in natural magiks. An ancient, decrepit elf named Velmuss Tanavidal was presented and settled into a large armchair. "This not an Owlbear egg, wrong color and sound, it appears to be a Sapphire Dragon egg. Older than me, most likely, and no, I don't know how to hatch it, you'll need to consult a Sapphire Dragon for that, but that may be difficult given that they haven't been seen since their range of the South, centuries ago. This egg is incredibly rare, and expensive, you would be wise not to share its existence with others. Speaking of, can we keep it overnight for observation? We would like to record its details so there's a record of such an oddity."

The group agreed to leaving the egg for the night, but requested some rooms within the university. Velmuss quizzed each member of the party on Arcana, it's theory, and practice. Kefrey and Einarr, the only companions with correct answers, were offered room and board. Kefrey decided to come back later that night, while Einarr made the most of his time and met a Master of Alchemy who regaled him with valuable knowledge on the Hammer of Truth and various smithing techniques. 

The party found the The Silver Goldsmith Inn where they picked up some rooms. Trastor paid for some strange, and Aelef made back the cost of the Inn and more with his riveting kazoo performance. Alina watched the antics, amused, as Kefrey slipped out of the Inn. Kree, concerned and curious about her departure followed quietly. Kefrey, followed her instincts and easily found a gambling den where the rich and poor may rub elbows, and sometimes daggers. She quickly began to win at dice, but was truly watching the patrons for opportunity or curiosities. Kree, still unsure of her intentions made his presence known to her, but hung back unengaged. A rich, drunk and Dandy man entered the Den, stumbled to the roulette table and shrugged off requests by his female companion to leave the establishment. Kefrey observed 4 roguish characters scoping the Dandy man, and when one left, she became suspicious. Having lost a round of roulette, the Dandy man caved to his friend's request, and they left, followed by the remaining shadows.

Kefrey and Kree exited the Inn, but didn't see where the Dandy or his pursuers had gone. After splitting up and checking the local streets, Kefrey saw pushing and shoving down an alley and moved to assist, drawing the attention of the two attackers, the Dandy, and his companion. Kefrey told the noble to hand over his coin and spare himself. Undetected, one for pursuers stepped out of the shadows and hit Kefrey over the head with a morningstar, who in turn buried her rapier in his side and attempted to flee. The Dandy stood, unmolested, and cast Hold Person on Kefrey, successfully halting her departure and revealing the true intentions of the group. Kree, having found Kefrey as she was struck, attempted to overwhelm the mind of the Dandy attacker, but failed. The Dandy's companion pulled a bag over Kefrey's head, but in doing so, her amulet swung free showing the holy symbol of Iuz. Faced with the decision to engage the 6 cultists, and knowing his death would not save Kefrey, Kree ducked into an alley, transformed himself into a crone and fled back to the Inn to bring the full strength of the party to bear. 

With Trastor balls deep in hog, Aelef, Rardem, and Alina followed Kree to the scene of the crime, but Kefrey was not to be found. Rardem was able to ascertain that they were headed north, but little else. Knowing that the Priests of Cuthbert would want to know of a cultist insurrection, the Party made their way to the Temple and banged on the doors. Aelef managed to awake the Priest on call with his cymbals, and Kree convinced the Priest and his leadership of the seriousness of the matter. Senior leaders of the Temple welcomed them inside with news of their own. They believed they could remove the planar creature attached to Kendalk with a ritual, but it will require water from the Dulsi, a river on the western border of Iuz, that intersects several planes of existence. A quart would suffice, but the journey could take a month or two. To track Kefrey, the Priests asked for some of her equipment. The party decided to get some quick rest at the Inn, gather Trastor, Einarr, and the equipment and return to the Temple at the crack of dawn. 

The next morning (11 Wealsun), the Priests cast an enchantment on Kefrey's bow which would vibrate whenever it was pointing in her direction. Kree, the navigator, picked up the bow and spun. As luck would have it, her direction was close to the path needed to reach the Dulsi. With the direction set, the party made haste to Chendle and arrived on the 23rd of Wealsun, and then headed to North to Crockport by the 25th of Wealsun. Standing at the edge of the Whyestil lake, the bow pointed straight across a military blockade. Concerned that they would not be able to pursue on water, the party headed North along the Lake edge. 

After the first day of travel, Einarr, the vigilant,  heard yelping and knew immediately Gnolls were barring down on them. An arrow from the forest edge struck Aelef, and Rardem and Kree answered with their own ranged attacks. Aelef put two of the gnolls to sleep with a lullaby, while a Gnoll speared Alina. Trastor cut his head off. Rardem and Kree struck down another Gnoll, and Aelef exploded the head of the remaining Gnoll with a minor chord, followed by an epic cape twirl. 

As they searched for a place to camp, Kree saw a fire north of the party in a stand of trees. As they approached quietly, they saw 6 goblins… not fucking. On 3, Aelef played three of them to sleep, Kree decimated one with an Eldritch Blast, and Einarr lit one up with a Guiding bolt. With one Goblin tied to the tree, and Trastor decimating the sleeping goblins, Kree interrogated the survivor with promises of a clean death. The Goblins were from the Tribe of The Severed Ear, one of the largest affiliations and number in the thousands. They are associated with the Horned Society, and ranged outside their territory to find and kill elves known to these parts.

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Detours
aka - Weekend at Bernie's

In the little burg of Littleberg, Alina and Kree arrived unmolested and immediately made haste to any temple capable of triaging Kendalk and his affliction. The Temple of Cuthbert was such a place, but alas, his curse was beyond their abilities to heal. It was decided that Kendalk should be sent to Veluna, where Cuthbert Priests of sufficient training reside. Leaving Kendalk in the priests' care, Kree and Alina made substantial donations to the Temple and found a dive of an Inn to layup until the remainder of the party arrived. Having secured such a location, Alina set out to tend to deeds around town. Kree shadowed her as a familiar crone keeping an eye open for trouble. 
Alina's deeds spread goodwill, and also banked some much needed confirmation, Iuz is on the rise! While about town, Alina was interrupted by a group of evangelical prophesiers harking the Supremacy of Pholtus, the 'Theocracy of the Pale'. This day was the 1st of Wealsun, and for the those who follow Pholtus, the "Festiful of Blinding Light'. Such people were common several kingdoms away, so it was clear that the flock had wandered far from the shepard. It was also clear the flock were not welcome for the townsfolk began to harass and mob the religious sect. An argument broke out between the followers of Pholtus and the outspoken and a fight ensued. Seeing that it was clear the mob was not going to stop until there was blood, Alina and Kree interceded. Kree spoke into the minds of the religious, and in a divine voice rang, "This is not what I expect from mine followers". Alina grabbed a man who had just struck a follower of Pholtus and pushed him to the ground, standing over him, she persuaded the mob to 'Stop this madness'. With all parties calm (and rightfully confused), the remainder of the Adventures arrived.


After a quick huddle, it was determined that the cart and draft horses could be used to move Kendalk, and given his implied importance an additional attack on his person should be expected. The party visited the Temple to deliver new plans and draft horses with the intention to leave after visiting the elvish enclave otherwise known as elf town. There Einarr got to work fixing Trastor’s busted axe. Einarr took the opportunity to show the elfish smith the runes he had discovered on the gauntlets and collar of the abandoned Owlbear. The smith guessed it was the Elves of Celene who may have lost track of the creature “Sounds like an escaped guard animal’. The smith made promises to alert his contacts within the Kingdom to retrieve the beast before more damage was done. 


The party managed to leave for Veluna with cart, body, and Priest, Nalvar of Cuthbert. However, on the night of the 2nd of Wealsun, Einarr’s vigilant watch was interrupted by shadowy creatures who had surrounded the party, ‘Wake up ye shits!’ he yelled. Rardem put an arrow into the chest of one of the creatures who tumbled dead to their feet. Orc. Trastor and Kefrey buried javelin and arrow into orcs, while Alina bloodied her knuckles. One orc of considerable size and authority howled into Trastor’s face, ‘FLEE!!!’. Trastor, overcome by the Command, fled the camp, as Kree’s Eldritch energy erupted into the side of the demanding Orc and Kefrey’s blade sunk into its flesh. The Orc Chieftain turned and screamed in anger, ‘FLEE!!!’ at Kefrey who was also overcome by the magic. As Alina speared to death a nearby Orc soldier, Aelef played some dissonant notes which make the Chieftain’s ears bleed. The Chief turned and ran from the noise in his head, receiving a mighty blow from Einarr’s hammer on the way out. Einarr also managed to fling divine words at several folks, healing them of their wounds. Rardem brought down another Orc while Alina tried a flying kick at the fleeing Chief, but missed badly, rolling in the dirt, dazed. The Chief threw a spear at her prone body but missed. However, a spiritual, ghostly spear appeared above Alina and stabbed downward into her body. Aelef, having had enough of the fray, played a very VERY Minor Key, and the Chief’s head popped like a cyst. Aelef placed his boot on the Orc Chief’s chest and with dramatic flare, flipped his cape back over his shoulder for full affect. Found on the Chieftan, an Eye Of Gruumsh Holy Symbol. Also a deep red pouch with a fine silk lined interior. 


Hoping to make haste, the party scuffled the camp and carried on to the next camp site. When everyone had settled down, filled their stomachs, and laid up their equipment, a deep, creepy wave of powerful negative energy swept underneath their bodies leaving everyone but Alina, Aelef, and Kree in a state of fear and dismay. This feeling stayed with them, but thankfully had subsided upon their exhausted arrival to the Archclericy of Veluna.
 

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Dwarves sink, you crazy bastards!
Dwarves are crunchy and good with spicy tomato sauce...

(The continuing tale as told from the perspective of hammer of the gods, the one, the only, Einarr Forgehammer…)

As I searched the bodies of the cultists, and removed their red robes for potential use in infiltrating the Temple of Elemental Evil, I noticed that they had a tattoo of a red-shaded skull on the base of their necks. This is the symbol of Iuz, the demigod of pain, deceit and other evil things. He was involved with the original forces of the Temple.

We settled for the night, taking turns at the watch. During my watch in the middle of the night, I checked on Kendalk and noticed that his condition was rapidly deteriorating. His breathing was becoming more labored and his pulse thready. I relayed this to the others in the morning (27 Flocktime). On a hunch I investigated the back of Kendalk's neck in the location of the tattoos of the cultists. To my horror, I found a beetle in the shape of a skull with reddish highlights and 10 legs. Creepy.

We debated for what seemed like hours about what we should do. I swear that non-dwarves cannot make a damned decision ot save their lives. OUr choices boiled down to Labernum, the Gold County seat where Countess Kyoven Ryavelle ruled, which was a days ride to the north east or Littleberg, which was 2 days ride due north across the lowlands and through the forest.  My admittedly non-expert opinion was that it would be better to take the 2 days and avail Kendalk of the better services that would likely be in Littleberg, rather than risk not finding anyone to help in Labernum. We agreed that it would be best to send Kree and Alina with the horses, while we followed, albeit more slowly.

As we were getting camp broken, I noticed that there was rain coming…and more ominously that the river was fast rising. As with the discussion in procuring aid for Kendalk, the others in the party were wishy-washy on whether it was better to try to swim the enormously wide river and scale the cliffs of doom on the other side, versus the more sane path north across the  lowlands at a quick pace to the higher ground at the wood line, a mere 2 hours fast march. Taking control, and clearly stating that dwarves sink, we set out at a fast pace north towards safety, across what the ninnyie referred to as a "flood plain."  

Just after we started out, one of the party noticed humongous, spindly legged humanoid came out of the river to climb the bluffs that they had wanted to try. I was vindicated once again for my foresight and determination.

Using my determination, fortitude and incredible stamina to push the long-striding taller beings to maintain a soul-crushing pace to keep ahead of the rain across the swampy ground, we reached the woods safely in the early afternoon. As I suspected, the woods appeared to be above where a flood had reached for at least a century. We were on solid ground and safe. We quickly found a game trail in the woods and followed it as it was heading generally north.

Soon after we entered the woods I heard an owl-like hooting to the east of the party. Shortly after there was a matching hoot to the west. This repeated again, very suspicious. Soon after, and owl dropped a snake on Trastor. He screamed like a wee lass, throwing it off himself. It slithered off into the forest. We proceeded further along the trail and once again heard the ominous hooting of the owl pair, east then west. Again and owl dropped something on Trastor, once again eliciting a girlish scream. This time it was a weasel that scratched the back of his neck. Oh what a sight seeing him dancing around trying to get the wee rodent off his back. That barbarian fellow smacked him in the head trying to help. Being of smarter disposition, I urged everyone to get beneath the canopy of the trees, thus mitigating the ability for the flappy bastards to drop more critters on our collective heads. As I was doing this, I could swear, as is the wont of most dwarves, that I could hear laughter to the north.

Soon after the barbarian fellow gets clobbered with horse dung that was contained within a leaf. This was quickly followed by a hornet's nest, fully of stinging little beasties. They were mad as hell and started stinging him repeatedly. Calling upon Bleredd to aid in our time of need, I attempted to burn the little stingers with the sacred fire of the forge. However, the silly bugger moved at the wrong time and it was he who was burned, not the hornets. We quickly moved away from the nest, and again I heard the laughter. Calling out that this was not a laughing matter, and would ye please stop, we were then confronted by one of the wee faerie folk. She insisted that we were trespassing on her territory and insisted upon the donation of tribute. We all did so, as we were not in them mood to have a plague rained down upon us. She told us that next time she would appreciate honey if we wished to pass through her realm.

We were then able to make better time through the old growth forest. Farther north we noticed markings on a few of the trees. We thought that it looked like rut markings, but with coarse brown hair in the scrapes. Near one of the trees, as dark was soon approaching, I noticed there were old rotted boards and shingles, indicating that there was perhaps some shelter nearby for us to rest for the night. I soon found a barn that was partially collapsed, but with an area protected by the fallen roof that was dry and cozy inside. Within the enclosure, I found some old iron tools, which I sacked up for future use in the smithy. Wanting warm food and drink, I made a fire from the dry wood. 

During the night, again fortunately while on my watch, a frightful sound came rushing down the path towards our campsite. I knew this frightening sound be the howl of the fearsome owlbear. Yelling for the somnolent bastards to get their arses up, I fired blindly with me crossbow, trying to buy time for them to rouse. I hit it, of course, which only served to piss it off mightily. Waking faster than others, as ranger-types sleep lightly, Rardem adds his bow to the fight, hitting it with one of his two arrows. I fire again, but am bumped by one of the party members, which causes me some fear that I might hurt others instead of the owlie bear (that's my story, and I am sticking to it!). The odd thing that I notice, is that the owlbear has a spiked collar and old gauntlets on its arms. The tooling on them is old and scratched, but looks to be of excellent workmanship. 

Finally Barbie gets into the fight, with a massive swing…and a miss, but the bard makes it flee. My friend the rogue shoots it in the back. Of course, this pisses Owlie off again and it comes roaring back at us. Rardem shoots and misses, then fires again, hitting it. Barbie swings again, recovering his composure, and slices it cleanly with his greataxe, taking it down. The bard puts it to sleep and we drag it over and tie it to a tree. I investigate the scrollwork on the collar gauntlets, and notice that is elven work, but very old. I memorize the patterns so I can sketch them later. I talk the party into not killing it, as it was likely a trained owlbear and it was only protecting its territory. I believe it not to be evil and it would be wrong to just kill it. Soon after it wakes and takes a swing at me. I jumped nimbly out of the way and it injures itself badly. I call upon the blessing of Bleredd and heal this creature in need. I tell Trastor to try to talk to it in Elvish to see if it will respond to commands. It responds to his commands, but not mine. After telling it to "hold" it calms down. 

I decide then to investigate the area, knowing that we likely were close to its lair, and thus it was only trying to protect its territory and not just kill us for no good reason. I find that in the back of the barn, there is an entrance that looks like a lair. Aleff and I investigate the lair, finding a nest with 5 eggs in addition to a gnawed log that has some honeycomb remaining. I take the comb in case we run across the faerie again. There are also lots of rags, some broken barrels and other detritus. We find a nice silver service that is likely worth about 15 gold. Inspecting the eggs a little closer, 3 of them are brown, one is white, and one is white but with iridescent blue speckles, like sapphires. I take the special one, knowing that the owlbears do not exhibit object conservation. They will watch the nest if there are any eggs in it, but they will not notice if there are fewer than there were. I swear Aleff to silence, as the others will not like us leaving the eggs and the owlbear.  As we are looking in the nest, we find some gold, gems, and a skull with gold teeth. At least we got something out of this encounter.

We decide to leave the owlbear to its home, but not with out some moralizing about how it could kill others. I argue that it has lived here for a long while already and is likely to have belonged to the elves that previously lived in the area. I suggest that we can likely earn a reward by letting the elves know that it is alive and well and where it can be located. They acquiesce.

We continue our journey north to Littleberg (28 Flocktime), finally reached the edge of the forest, transitioning to high plains with rolling hills and tall grasses. As usual, Trastor draws unwanted attention when the ground erupts around him and insectoid limbs flail at him. He is slashed, grappled and then it spits acid at him, injuring him further. Trastor breaks free. Aleff attacks and misses, but his courage gives me inspiration.  The Mantis-creature grabs Kef, and I hit it with a bolt of lightning, allowing her to escape its clutches. Barbie swings his mighty axe, but only cleaves the air near it. Aleff mumbles something, but nothing appears to happen. Rardem enters the fight, missing as the mantis dodges, and then just barely nicking it with his followup shot. The Mantis stumbles while swing it claw at Rardem, a resounding crack coming from its now broken claw. I swing and miss, not anticipating it stumbling. Kef shoots and scores a hit, distracting it and allowing Trastor to cleave its thorax from the rest of its horrid body. With one mighty swing the fight is over. I heal both Kef and Barbie. 

That night around the campfire, I show them the egg and let them know that it was one of five. They kvetch and gnash their teeth, but done is done.The fire shows that the speckles are indeed real sapphires. I indicate that we should be able to sell the special egg for a tidy sum in Littleberg, but secretly hope that we it will hatch something special.

The following day (28 Flocktime) we traveled across more rolling plains, the tall grasses swaying gently in the sun. After a short rest around midday, there is an odd sound coming from around a hill in front os us. Suddenly we see a sheep stampeded coming towards us, herded by several dogs. Quickly following the sight of the sheep, Trastor sees a bouncy fin cutting through the turf. BULETTE RUN!!! he yells. Yes, there is a dreaded landshark quickly approaching. It scoops up a sheep whole right in front of us. We try to navigate out of the flock of sheep, but it like jumping across an alligator infested swamp on their backs. Trastor falls, dragging me down with him. Kef tries for the edge, but also takes a stumble with the little sheep bastards causing havoc. Rardem, being more nimble amongst the sheepies, gets out and fires at the landshark, hitting but causing little visible damage. I rear up roaring the battle cry of Bleredd and smite it a mighty blow with my greathammer, causing a crack in the armor of its leg. Everyone else is stunned by my prowess with the hammer and miss the target. In fear for its life from the holy wrath of a cleric of Bleredd, the bulette grasps me in its fearsome jaws and flings me about like a dog with a chew rag doll. It tosses my near lifeless body aside to confront the others. Kef, fearing for her lifelong friend hits it with an arrow, Rardem, in fear for his hide, misses with his shaking arms. Aleff mumbles something again, but nothing appears to happen. Barbie, fumbles his great axe and cracks the head.

Fortunately for the party, over the hill rides a knight in shining armor. At least it seemed to glint in the bright sunlight. He lowers his lance, drives his heels into the flanks of his steed, and skewers the landshark. The tremendous impact unseated him from his saddle. Seizing the opportunity, Kef again hits it with an arrow. Rardem, regaining some of his will, hits it, but only a glancing blow. Barbie swings at it ineffectually with his broken axe. Recovering his feet, the knight draws his magnificent sword, slashing twice, snicker snee, snicker snack. The landshark is launched back ten feet, falling dead in a peal of thunder. Of course, I witnessed none of this, being on deaths door.

The knight, one Destin by name, and an adherent of Pelor says "this is all his fault. His plan was not sufficient and he is abjectly sorry for the harm that has befallen us." He lays hands upon my lifeless form and heals me fully.

(Thus ends this installment of the adventures of Einarr and his supporting troupe…)

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The Chase
aka - Exhaustive hunting practice

With Note in hand, Alina and Kree left the home of the magistrate, Kree peered back through the ornate windows and spoke to Kendalk’s mind, “Do you need extraction from this place? A rescue perhaps?” Kendalk answered, “No”. A quick peek at the note revealed Kendalk instructing Helda to provide horses, provisions, and any additional aid that may be required. Kree, worried of danger shifted his form into that of a crone and shadowed Alina as the pair headed back into town to find their companions. 

Trastor, Einarr, Kefrey, and Aelef had since found a local favorite, the White Eel Inn. They had spent some time admiring the Duke’s palace, of ancient Elven construction, but figured they’d have a hard time affording room and board. However, At the White Eel Inn, Aelef’s performances drew much fanfare, and a fair amount of coin. As the party sat on the upper porch in their revels, they spotted Alina, and soon after, Kree, stepping into the moonlight. Reunited, the party took a much needed rest.

Heavy commotion woke the party on the 24th of Flocktime. Heavily armed guards poured through the streets, moving with purpose. Everyone grabbed their gear and headed outside to investigate. Kree yelled inquires to a passing cohort, and was instructed to go back inside as it was not safe on the streets. Curiosity and need drove the party to venture to the Fool and Mug hoping to speak with Helda. As they drew closer, a dense crowd made access difficult. Aelef asked a local what the fuss was all about, “They’ve caught a spy at the Fool and Mug”. Kree stepped aside and shifted into a crone, worried that his presence at the Manor the previous night may have gone noticed. The party followed the crone as they wove through the crowd hoping to get closer to Helda. They found her, but she was hanging dead from the sign of her establishment, a large mob was still present yelling threats. Alina overheard a guard yelling, “The Magistrate wouldn't have wanted this!!” as the authorities failed to calm the situation. Alina asked the guard, “What happened to the magistrate?”, “A suspected spy, Kendalk, may have murdered the magistrate and his staff” replied the guard.

With nervous glances, the party quickly made their way to the manor. Taking in the scene, Alina guessed that Kendalk was kidnapped, and that the kidnappers may have slaughtered the staff. Kree discreetly took the form of a guard and learnded that an old woman in a nearby building saw a group of men in Red Robes were seen fleeing the scene. Kefrey gained quick access to the old Woman to discover that “Kendalk’s Minions” had fled in the early morning in the direction of the northern ferry. Trying their best to be casual, the party skirted the edge of town and headed north to the ferry.

The ferry had already left. They stood on the docks and watched as it made its way to the Kingdom of Furyondy. Kefrey slipped into her old ways, and leaned on some nearby Urchins for information. Directed to ask at The Dart, the local tavern, the party quickly made friends, rubbing elbows, and bought rounds of drink. “A spy killed the magistrate”, “They forced their way in by knifepoint”, “Viscount Wilfrick is very mad”, “Furyondy spy”, “The Archbishop of Veluna is headed here to investigate”, “Horned Society Spy”, “1000 gold bounty for the return of Kendalk”, many tales were told, and very little was learned. As the party left the establishment, a cloaked man followed them out the door and leaned on the outside of the building with no signs of menace. 

Alina approached the returning ferry and negotiated passage and some thin men with shifty eyes and a wagon woke up to also board. As Alina did her best to get the party onto the boat, Kree spoke with the cloaked man who goes by the name of Rardam. His traveling cloak and a broad collar and wolf mantle look well traveled, his shortsword, quiver and bow, well used. Kree, looking for a guide in the shieldlands, negotiated a half stake and a spot by the fire. With the terms set, Rardam and Kree returned to the ferry, packed with merchants, armed groups and wagons.

The ferry was successful in crossing the Velverdyva to Reymend, a small town but strategic for trade between the two kingdoms. In Furyondy, Alina’s nobility was very useful and she used it to great effect with the local guards, “I’m Alina Schwegler of the Shieldlands, working under orders from the Ambassador of Furyondy to Greyhawk.” The guards recalled a passing wagon with red-cloaked men, but more memorable were the draft horses they used to pull the wagon, for oxen would have been more ‘appropriate’. The Duchy of the Reach largely reserves horses for Knights, and their festivities. The wagon, its red cloaks, and its horses were headed Northeast. As the party  marched on, more and more passersby confirmed a wagon pulled by draft horses. With the path set, the party hustled until sundown.

Away from the road, the party settled down for the night, which passed uneventfully until Alina’s watch. In the early morning of the 25th of Flocktime, Rardam up and ran from the camp, suspicious Alina followed, spear in hand, and kicked Einarr on the way out. As she left the light of the camp she saw a dark shape strike Rardam twice. She jumped to his aid, spearing the attacker, and kicked him hard enough in the head to knock him silly. He stood there confused, unsure why he had been attacked when Rardam struck. Back at the camp, Einarr sounded the alarm and everyone began to rise, he then followed Alina in time to hit the attacker with a column of radiant energy. The attacker fell to the ground unconscious and was easily recognized as one of the men they had encountered on the ferry that day. The remainder of the party rose in time to be hit with crossbow bolts from the darkness. Rardam circled to one of the attackers and killed him in one strike, Trastor hurled a javelin to no avail, but Einarr’s crossbow found a target. The remaining attackers paused to consider their actions, but Aelef lit them up with Fairy Fire, their outlines shimmered in the darkness. Kefrey paused, took aim, and put an arrow through one of them, driving the rest to flee for their lives. 

Aelef cured Rardam of his injuries as Einarr pulled bolts from Kree and closed his wounds in time to see the sunrise. The party set off to capture their quarry and after a few hours, Rardam heard horses approaching. Kefrey took to the cover of the woods, while Kree slipped into the from of an elderly statesman and waved them down. Two men on horseback galloped with 4 horses in tow and the party became conflicted about whether to take the horses by force. One man appeared to be a guard from Verbobonc, and the other a dangerous agent of some sort, commonly dressed. As they slowed to a halt, Kree learned they’re making their way North, but they offered little explanation, "Our business is our own", despite their recognition of Kendalk’s name and activity. As they changed saddles they scoffed at the idea of a bounty and continued onward. 

The party traveled with heads down on a forced march, determined to catch the Red Robes, until day turned to night and they were forced to camp at a tributary of the Velverdyva, the Att River. On morn of the 26th of Flocktime, the party immediately forded the river and traveled a distance to a fork in the road. East lies Stalmaer, and to the west Attstad. Einarr and Rardam determined that Attstad would be a more likely direction given the nature of the Red Robes and Attstad’s reputation. Under forced march, Kree, Aelef, and Kefrey experienced exhaustion. But, the effort was worth the sweat, the party approached a wagon, draft horses, campfire, and no one in sight.

Trastor, impatient from all the chasing, and lack of smashing, pulled open the wagon covering and was rewarded with a sword to the face. The blade’s curse dropped Trastor to the ground as Kefrey sent an arrow into the attacker and Alina’s spear ended his life. Kree found the mind of another would be attacker and injected dissonant whispers, forcing the red-cloak to flee in fear. When he ran to the front of the wagon, Alina took the opportunity to spear him, and as he jumped from the top of the wagon, Rardam was waiting, easily taking him down in his confused state.

Inside the wagon, they found Kendalk. Unconscious and under some form of curse. A curse that greatly exceeds the skills of the party to remove. 
 

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Rats on Land, Rats at Sea
aka - Time to get out of Dodge

All eyes turned in surprise as Trastor Silverkin, exclaimed, 'Those zombies can imbibe of my ornate phallus'. While his over-the-top behavior usually commanded attention, Trastor had been quite quiet since the journey from the Green Dragon Inn. Having found his voice, Trastor returned to his usual zeal for gems, pillaging and reminding Aelef of their intimate relationship(s). “If those rats are collecting gems, then let’s move our sweet asses to the treasure”, he commanded.

The tiny footprints had grown faint as the ink had run dry, but the path did led to a poorly constructed door with enough room at the bottom for vermin to come and go. After finding no signs of traps or lock, a natural staircase adorned with flagstone was discovered. Kefrey approached the roughly built trapdoor at the top of the steps, but, unfortunately raised alarm; small rat eyes peered down at the party and scampered away. Seizing the day, Trastor burst through the trapdoor to find a dimly lit room full of rats, several of unusual size. In the corner sat a character of rags and gems, unmoving.  Trastor’s ax felled a large rat, while a swarm covered Alina, but was unable to harm her. Shaking the swarm off, Alina sunk her spear into a large rat and then kicked it to death. Kefrey skewered the remaining ROUS as Einarr and Kree radiated the rat swarm. After a few more stabs, kicks and stomps, the rats dispersed leaving the riches behind.

A dead man sat in the corner of the room. It was clear that he had trained the rats to gather and rob this district of its shiny things, as the party found gems, coin, scrolls, jewelry and potions. Among the wealth was the necklace the Ambassador had charged the adventures with returning. Leaving the body behind, and gathering up the ROUS corpses, the group exited at ground level into a slum of an establishment, and quickly made their exit before drawing attention from the occupants. Stepping out into the bright light, everyone smelled of shit, blood and rodents. Thankfully, Aelef’s music was capable of ridding them of the filth they had accumulated on their journey into the sewers.

It was decided amongst the group (with the exception of Alina) that possession is eleven points in the law, and they say there are but twelve. After collecting bounty for the Rat corpses, Alina took the opportunity to confuse both the guards and her companions by giving a hefty gold donation to the law and order. As the party traveled North to the Ambassador’s, Alina, stopped at the Temple of Pelar to dispatch her remaining currency in a note to her monastery. Unburdened, she directed the party to the Ambassador’s mansion (embassy: still closed). The Ambassador was quite happy to see the necklace returned, but concerned about the report of zombies. He requested time to investigate and left the party with no better options than heading to the High Market to move some product.

Jewelry sales are a learning experience. Having no luck in the High market, the goods find purchase in the low market, while many of the gems find their way into Trastor’s braided body hair. For two days the party explores their interests and new found wealth. Einarr takes the opportunity to smith and teach, Kree visits the Grey College library to learn more of Celestian, and donate much of his riches in the pursuit of the Traveler. Trastor pursues knowledge at the whore house. Learning was had by all.

Aelef and Kefrey use the downtime to establish old connections and inquire after the Thieves Guild. However, they are accosted and held at knifepoint by unknown forces, “Don’t be spreading rumors of zombies in the sewers, or we take your lives.” The two walk away unharmed, but find no recourse with their attackers.

Having being summoned by the Ambassador, the party returns to the Mansion where they are drawn into a fine side-chamber and immediately scorned for not informing the Ambassador of the discovered loot. It would seem that much of the jewelry was traceable and the resale had drawn a lot of attention by the previous owners and potentially the law. However, it is being ‘handled’. It’s unclear what this means, but one thing is certain, the party must leave town. The Ambassador sits back and shares a tale:

Years ago, the village of Hommlet was a prosperous and happy village, as the reigning lord of the Viscounty taxed lightly. But eventually, evil came to the area. Some say it came west from Dyvers, others say it came from the forests bordering the Wild Coast, but either way, come it did. At first it was a few thieves or the odd group of bandits molesting the merchant caravans. Then it was small bands of humanoids—kobolds, goblins, that sort of thing—raiding flocks and herds. Local militia and foresters of the Waldgraf of Ostverk and Viscounty of Verbobonc checked, but did not stop, the spread of outlawry and evil.

A collection of hovels sprang up and their slovenly inhabitants formed the nucleus for the increasing troubles. A wicked cleric established a small chapel, but the folk of Hommlet tended to ignore this place, Nulb, even though it was but 6 miles distant. Its out-of-the-way position was
ideal for the fell purposes planned for this settlement, as was its position on a small river flowing into the Velverdyva. The thickets and marshes around Nulb became the lair and hiding place for bandits, brigands, and all sorts of evil men and monsters. The chapel grew into a stone temple as its faithful brought in their ill gotten tithes. Good folk were robbed, pillaged, enslaved, and worse.

In but three years, a grim and forbidding fortress surrounded the evil place, and swarms of creatures worshipped and worked their wickedness. The servants of the Temple of Elemental Evil oppressed Hommlet and the lands for leagues around. Commerce ceased, crops withered, and pestilence was abroad.

But the leaders of this cancer were full of hubris and, in their pride, sought to overthrow the good realms to the north, who were coming to the rescue of the land being crushed under the tyranny of the evil temple. Ten years ago, 569, a great battle was fought at Emridy Meadows. Human forces from Furyondy and Veluna came from the North, dwarves from the Lortmils and Gnomes from the Kron Hills came from the West, and Elves from Celene came from the south to join the exhausted warriors of Ostverk and Verbobonc. The battle pitched back and forth, but had turned decisively to the orcs, ogres, gnolls, and evil men of the Horde of Elemental Evil, when the elves of the Gnarley Forest suddenly arrived and poured volley after volley into the Horde's unprotected backline from the darkness of the forest. The forces of evil were routed and slaughtered. Unfortunately, Senten of Saint Cuthbert fell during the battle. He was the only member of the Greyhawk Citadel of Eight who came. When the Citadel was disbanded, those of us who lost loved ones in the battle felt little sorrow. We can only hope Mordenkainen's new Circle does better by us.

When the good people of Hommlet saw the ochre-robed men and humanoids fleeing south and west through their community, they rejoiced, for they knew the murderous oppressors had been defeated and driven from the field in panic. So great was the slaughter, so complete the victory of good, that the walled stronghold of the Temple of Elemental Evil fell within a fortnight, despite the aid of a terrible demon. The place was ruined and sealed against a further return of such abominations by powerful blessings and magic.

For four or five years, those looking for adventure, fame, and fortune traveled to Hommlet to clear the pitiful remnants of the Horde from the nearby forests and swamps. Some returned with great wealth, some with less, and some with nothing or not at all. But eventually it seemed that the purge was complete, and the steady stream of wealth that had flowed from the adventurers' pouches into the villagers' strongboxes dried up and life returned to normal.

But then, about a year ago, bandits began to ride the road again. The good folk of Hommlet sent word to the Viscount that the forces of evil might not have been entirely driven out.

“I need—Furyondy needs—to know what is happening there. We need to know what is happening there, and if we need to begin preparing to defend our southern border again. Of course, you will not be directly representing Furyondy, so it is probably best that you present yourselves as just an adventuring group, lest a misunderstanding ends in you being called spies… The village of Hommlet lies about 30 leagues (90 miles) travel south-southeast of Verbobonc, in the Viscounty of Verbobonc.

To get you to Hommlet, I have booked you passage on a ship which will travel up the Selentan to Nyr Dyv, and along the coast to Dyvers. After that you will need to find passage up the Velverdyva to Verbobonc. You leave tomorrow.”

The Ambassador hands a sealed letter and instructions to deliver the mail to Kendalk at the Fool and Mug tavern. There is promise of mounts, provisions, and shelter before beginning the journey to Hommlet. Kendalk can point the way through Etterboek and Cienega Valley for it is the most efficient, and possibly safest route to be traveled.

The party takes the evening to process their new mission, for this was the type of venture they had been in search of, but at what cost? Leaving Greyhawk under such conditions did not sit well with many in the party, but there was no choice in the matter. At the very least, the opportunity to serve Furydondy’s interests, and avoid backlash from Greyhawks’ circles was enticing enough to board the vessel to Dyvers.

5-6 days below the deck of a ship were spent as one might imagine, however, Aelef and others felt the need to know a bit more of the mission at hand, besides, Kree had already made a mess of their trip when trying to assist the crew. Using his dexterous hands, tools, and a bit of luck, Aelef opened the letter without breaking the wax seal. The letter read:

K-
The bearers make common cause with us. Grant unto them such provisions and conveyances as are deemed necessary to the Village of H- to determine the possible involvement or lack of Our Enemy Z-. This company does not know the possible significance to ourselves, F-, and indeed all of Oerth, but I am confident in their abilities. If, as I expect, they are up to the task and return to you with information that Z- is again at large, take them into confidence as to your mission, but not as to mine nor my identity. They can be connected to us but tenuously, yet in our profession, any connection is a danger. Treat them with courtesy, but not too warmly, and do not be observed spending overmuch time with them.
Procure mounts, provisions, weapons, and such as you deem necessary and reasonable, from general funds, and submit accounting for your expenses to C- in my name.
I cannot stress to you enough how vital your mission and position have become. If you are detected, evil forces will strive to interfere with your actions, inhibit your plans, and even harm your person. At this point, if my fears prove true, you are the center of our hopes to stem a rising tide of evil and chaos. Act with care and discretion, and assist these, our agents, with all speed.
In service to that which we hold dear,
E-S-,
Flocktime, 579

 

 

Upon arrival at Dyvers, Kreexote was able to secure additional passage to Verbobonc when he encountered a captain who had previously been a crewmate. Passage of this kind is not free, however, and the companions found themselves applying their talents to the aid of the ship and its crew. Kree helped navigate the shallow waters of the Velverdyva, Kefrey and Alina womanned the rigging, and Einarr repaired overworked hardware. While Aelef performed for all hands on deck, Trastor performed below. 

On the 23rd, after 7 long days of low wind, up a river, the party stepped ashore at the Riverport of Verbobonc. The crew was kind enough to point the party in the direction of the Fool and Mug Tavern, and with Trastor blowing kisses, the party bid them fair winds. It was early afternoon when Helda, the cook for the Fool and Mug answered the door. Inside, the party encountered an eerie sight, a tavern with no staff or patrons. Helda informed the surprised party that Kendalk had been arrested as a spy and had been hauled away without information as to the charges, or how long he may be imprisoned. Helda suggested that if we seek shelter and provisions, it would be best to find another Inn. 

Aelef, Trastor, Einarr, and Kefrey heed Helda’s advice and begin a search for new accommodations. However, Kree and Alina were not satisfied that the journey to Hommlet could be accomplished without the assistance of Kendalk. The two old friends inquire at the guard house, but discover that Kendalk hadn't been detained in the prison, instead he'd been held in a form of polite house arrest at the Magistrate’s house. A few knocks on the well kept Mansion door, and an older gentleman agreed to allow the two companions entry on account of Alina’s noble position within the Shieldlands. Inside they found Kendalk sitting quietly, reading a book. Hoping to speak with him unmolested, Kree whispered into his mind ‘Is it safe to speak openly’, ‘For now’ he replied out loud, after a shock at the intrusion. Unfortunately, the letter was in Aelef’s possession (for safe keeping), but Alina was able to convince Kendalk of the importance of the visit and of the parties needs. Kendalk offered very little, but told them to share a note with Helda, and she would see to their provisions. As the Magistrate descended the stairs, Alina slipped the note in her shirt and away from detection. With that the two bid the Magistrate and his guest goodnight, stepping back out into the cool air.
 

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Crossroads at Greyhawk
aka - Don't I know you from somewhere?

On the 8th of Flocktime, as the South Gate of Greyhawk opened for commerce, a small band of newcomers entered the city. They headed to the River District, and Green Dragon Inn in search of work, food, and lodging.  There they discovered the unusual low degree of separation amongst them. 

Earlier in the spring season, Kefrey, Einarr, and Aelef, had met up in Willip, in the Kingdom of Furyondy to apply their collective talents to new ventures. Kefrey and Aelef traced their relationship to early days traveling across Furyondy in service to the Thieves Guild, and Einarr had cured Kefrey of countless slashes, burns, stabbings, and general unpleasantness. Einarr's devotion to smithing, and the spreading of such knowledge is how he first met Kefrey. Her ability to secure fine materials at low cost was like thievery, and Einarr had found himself a patron.

Einarr had sent word ahead to a wayward friend, Kreexote, who had gone to sea in search of peace and meaning. His message found its destination, Kree was just outside Greyhawk, rubbing coppers by the docks, trying to keep his head down. Kree suggested that Einarr and his business partners make their way, because a city such as Greyhawk was rife with opportunity. Little did Kree know that his former master, and one-time friend, Alina, was searching for him as well.

Having spent the last 3 years in seclusion at a monastary, Alina was looking for a different kind of peace, the kind that comes from casting off material wealth and looking inward. She had had a vision of Kree's wanderings near Greyhawk and sped there to relieve her burden of guilt from many years ago.

Alina, of the wealthy and noble family, Schwegler, had at one time or another lifted her arms in defense of her families ancestral home, but the Orc raiding party she faced, those many years ago, was unlike any before. Einarr, a traveling smith, and common face at Schwegler Keep, also grabbed his hammer to defend civilization from brutality that day. As the raiders hit the wall, it was clear that the keep would be overrun. Alina, turned to an unlikely solution, she had heard rumors and even witnessed signs of the magical ability of Kreexote Crowseye, the household magister. She ordered that he unleash his power upon the horde and save her home. Kree, reluctantly did as he was told, but his magic was wild and uncontrolled, and with its release a powerful explosion struck the keep. The Orc fled, fearing such a show of power, but for the Schwegler's there was nothing left to defend. As the columns, walls, and battlements fell and burned, Einarr cured Kree of his horrible burns and turned to face Alina and her family. They bore down on Einarr and Kree, the former standing his ground, his great hammer over his head in defiance, and the latter, ashamed, confused, and lost, fled the scene.

All those years later, at the Green Dragon Inn, Alina looked Kree in the eye and apologized for ever ordering him to do something so dangerous and unknown. Aelef broke the tension when he threw his head back in a wild laugh, 'You burned her house down too???!!'  Alina had the opportunity to take responsibility for that order as well, when her young, percocious self had been playing at pyrotechnics with her childhood friend, the apprentice bard, Aelef.

Kreexote smiled at the irony, but gave no indication that he forgave himself for what had happened. Instead he bought everyone a round of ale, stew and lodging hoping to move from the past to the opportunities ahead of them.

The Innkeeper, Rickard, had overheard mention of Furyondy ventures, and suggested an audience with the Ambassador to the kingdom. With food in their bellies and a place to rest their belongings, the band traveled North to the Garden Quarter, only to find the Embassy closed. However, the lecherous, old, goof of an ambassador was spending his days in his personal residence, surrounded by his staff of young women whose attire did little to hide their beauty.

Kefrey took the opportunity to speak with her kinsman about how the crew may assist the ambassador with any of his troubles. He asked that the group find the necklace of his 'niece' which had fallen from his carriage when it was 'accidently' removed during their trip to a Theatre in the Old City. A very large rat, dark in color, with a white saddle marking had grabbed the expensive, and adorned necklace from the promenade to dash into the sewers and out of sight. Kreexote managed to piss off the old lech by asking why the embassy wasn't open and staffed, but luckily, the band had already been handed a mark of safe passage to carry out the Ambassador's wishes. Alina settled the old man with a touch, but got a hearty slap on the romp for the trouble.

The band banded and road in a fine carriage to the spot where the rat had made off with the goods. The Theatre didn't show signs of good taste, and clearly played to a particular crowd. Along the way, belongings were gathered from the Green Dragon Inn, while Kree insulted the good Ambassador's name again by asking the butler, Jamesir why the Embassy was closed. With a curt nod, the carriage rod off leaving the troupe over a sewer grate.

Einarr made quick work of the grate, and foot rungs aided their eight foot decent into darkness. Along the shaft, spikes had been driven into the wall, possibly creating a means for ascent by small animals. This sign of craft showed a potential relationship between rat and intelligence, and Alina tested this theory when she baited another rat into the open with a gold piece, only to quickly screwer it with her spear. The rat was collared with thin, red silk. Moving closer to where the rat had appeared, Aelef used his music to produce an illusionary necklace hoping to draw out another creature. Sure enough, a rat thief appeared, but was dumbfounded by the illusion. Kree used the Rat's pause to seize him in a magical hand and hold him aloft. Aelef doused the rat in ink, while Kree placed a silver piece in his mouth and then released the rodent. As planned, it scampered off, leading the crew to two T-sections and a cohort of the Sewerman Guild returning from hard labor. They shouted after the band that it was dangerous and foolish to go down those tunnels, but the rat was escaping! Turning another corner, Kree detected something moving in the dark, a stumbling, mindless zombie. The crew used the surprise opportunity to open fire with arrows, bolts, strange blasts, and searing hot columns from above.  The first zombie fell to Aelef's hand crossbow, and the second to a vicious strike by Alina's spear.

The floor and wall ahead showed signs of little inky footprints leading further into the darkness…

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

This campaign will start off in the Free City of Greyhawk, and at least early on will focus on the city and its environs. The campaign begins on the 8th of Flocktime, CY 579, for those familiar with (or curious about) the history of the Flanaess. Canon Greyhawk events beyond that date do not necessarily happen in our world.

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