Gyruff (Grand Duchy of Geoff)

The Temple of Howling Hatred

Ready’reat 618
I next found my way to the Wayward Inn and Tavern in Knight Rest. Bothan and Morrick had found some elvish books in the Temple of Howling Hatred, which they allowed Xilvyre and me to read. They were the property of Dara Algwynenn Kalinoth. She is Arglwyth Alvestar Glorandaal’s cousin and the head of the temple of Howling Hatred. The airhead is vain and believes herself entitled. The elemental prince Yan-C-Bin gives power to those who swear to serve him. He gave her wings and more powers. She changed her name to Aerisi Kalinoth and with Windharrow set up the Temple of Howling Hatred at Griffons’ Watch. El-Char the rune caster is staying at the temple and taking recruits to excavate a gem from Moundgnomery. Aerisi has one gem and the cult has 15 or so. She has hired Adran the assassin and recruited Ser Thurl Mersosska, a former Griffon Knight. Ser Thurl formed the Feathergale Society and trained recruits as griffon riders.

We also found some interesting notices posted at the tavern. One notice was Griffon Riding Lessons. 10,000 gp for a 4 month course. This explains why the parents of the nobles were not worried. They had set their children to learn griffon riding. Some other notices were want ads for a music director, musicians and a recruiter. My companions explained that those people had been killed on their visit to the Temple of Howling Hatred.

Osiris, Raylinn, Astra, Aoth, Tornado, Evendur, Cedric and I were discussing what to do when a finely dressed Elvish woman came in asking for help getting someone out of the well. Several of us went out to the well. We saw some small, clawed feet kicking at the bottom of the well. We lowered the bucket and pulled up a small exotic reptilian female. She said her name was Precieux d’Or and she was 3 years old. She came through multiple portals looking for Mommy and fell through a reflection to the well. Precieux and Mommy live on a plateau with birds and fish. Mommy is the size of a building and has wings. I suspect that she is Dandelion’s new flame Avatierria d’Or.

The elven woman and Precieux started to walk away, which I did not think was a good idea. I am suspecting that the elven woman is Dara or Aerisi and that she summoned Precieux her for some purpose. I followed the pair to stop them. Dara charmed Raylinn, who saw no problem with Dara caring for Precieux. Aoth convinced Precieux to come with him and Dara got away.

It so happens that Aoth is the brehyr of Knight’s Rest. We asked around and no elves live here. We then went to Aoth’s manor house and found the reason for that. A Knight of the Watch has been staying at the manor house for the last few months to keep an eye on the Oytwood Elves. I had forgotten that the Elves and the Knights were still at war. She encouraged the few elves in town to move.

In investigating the town, we found the animal trainer. He takes money from candidates for the griffon riding and sends them to Griffon’s Watch for the training. Tornado is actually considering trading his baby griffon for part of the payment to take the lessons. Even though it means joining the cult.

The next morning, we went through Knight’s Quarry and headed on our way to Moundgnomery. We decided to try to stop El Char from uncovering another gem. Dara appeared in a tree and cast a Mass Suggestion that we drop our weapons and go to Griffon’s Watch. Some of us were affected, but most resisted. She then cast Cloud Kill, which killed Precieux. As I revivified Precieux, my companions attacked Dara. She was quite wounded and so flew away.

This strengthened our resolve to go to Moundgnomery. We found the steading without difficulty. Aoth found tracks of about 100 people entering, but none leaving. Thanks to Aoth’s keen observation, we avoided a snake curled under the fallen door. We found guards and wards all over the entry. Someone had recently touched one and died. We followed the path where the dust was worn away and safely reached the basement. We found a block of 3 cells, each with about 20 humans each. They had the air mark, so they are probably cultists here to dig out the gem. Further on we found a set of white bones and then a set of bloody bones. From the three sets of teeth marks, it appeared that they were eaten by a carrion crawler.

We next found a chamber with scaffolding leading 130 feet down or so. Workers were excavating an obsidian gem. We engaged in a fight with the workers and their foreman. We even let the curious Precieux light the scaffolding on fire. I have taken on the responsibility of caring for her until I can find her mother, but her curiosity makes that a difficult task. I will need more diamonds for revivify. Unfortunately, El Char was not the foreman. We also fought some feathergale knights and some arcane casters. We managed to survive and left the steading.

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Navel of the Oerth

Patchwall 618
Dandelion and I were on a boat to Aberglain. We saw Dasut, Dentrack, G’zo, Eldren and Gleek on the docks. It looked like there had been a big fight. Then we were suddenly transported, ship and all, to the dry steppes, Tovag Baragu. We saw an area with many tall doorways. A blue dragon flew over and started to eat some of the other passengers, but Dasut assured us that we did not have time to help them. Then a column of dust indicating approaching creatures appeared on the horizon, causing the dragon to fly away. We needed to get elsewhere if the dragon was afraid.

The tall doorways, or portals, where arranged in circles. About half of them showed scenes of other places. About one in five of the outer portals were active. Some of the portals showed scenes on only one side. Dasut seemed unsure which portal to take, but he seemed to want to be here. We entered various portals trying to find what Dasut was looking for. We entered a stone room under a castle and returned to the ring. We entered a flooded area where aquatic mules approached, followed by an abolath. We entered a portal into a jungle world with dinosaurs. We entered a tundra area with three frost giants. We entered into a grassy area of plains at night, with a drum which seemed a signal and an encampment.

We next entered a stone room in a temple. The temple was to Wes Jas. Dasut declared them an enemy and attacked. The frost giants also followed us and attacked. In the conflict, Dasut was knocked unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he told us his tale. He had been possessed by the ghost of Ivar the Terrible. Ivar had gone to Aberglain to seek three relics, the hand and the eye of Vecna and the Sword of Kaz. He had found these items and came to Tovac Baragu to find Addetum to destroy them. But Gleek now had the items. Someone also mentioned that a mirror in Baba Yaga’s hut in the land of fey was tied to Princess Jagr’s mirror and could see what the mirror saw. A chimera and rider appeared outside the temple demanding the relics, so we left.

We returned to the plains, where a purple worm had been summoned. We then took a portal to a plateau. The area was a large highish pillar surrounded by sea. The plateau was the tropical home of sea birds. We found an “elven woman” named Avatierria d’Or, who made friends with Dandelion. He arranged for us to stay the night after a two hour negotiation which left him exhausted. Avatierria warned us to stay out of the sea and the cave at the bottom of the pillar.

The next morning we found a portal to a stone room, which we took to Adytum. We fought some gargoyles and Gleek started using the sword of Kaz as his weapon. We got Gleek to the chasm to throw in the relics to destroy them. Gleek instead ran back towards the portal. We chased him back through the mirror room. I glanced at the wall and the next thing I knew, I was back in Gorna.

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Raylinn letter home - Ready'reat 20
(I’m sure there’s a plan here somewhere…)

(I’m sure there’s a plan here somewhere…) October 20

Dear Father,

There are disturbing things happening on Oerth, I was with a group that had gone to the temple of Black Earth and collapsed tons of rock on an obelisk that was linked to the Chained God. I met up with another group on a mission to investigate the temple of Howling Hatred. Turns out that this temple is near a place called Griffon’s Watch. I travelled with Mazer, Aoth, Xylvarie, Evandur and Tornado. They were not a very talkative group, obviously working on a plan to slip into the temple and disrupt any evil brewing within.

We got to the base of Griffon’s watch without incident, but when we approached a farmstead we were set upon by a huge (flock/pride?) of griffons. Xylverie’s horse was taken down, I was able to use a hypnotic pattern to put most of the beasts into a trance. With most of the griffons entranced, I figured that we would be able to fend off the unaffected creatures and get away from the others before the spell released them.

Entering the tower of rock, we found some noble kids wasting away trying to prove themselves by not eating. It was like some kind of weird dare. We climbed up, and up, and even more up, but I toughed it out and made it up the chimney of stone. You would be proud. We encountered some guards, but I followed your advice and acted like I was supposed to be there, chastising them for not knowing who we are and being so disorganized. The guards gave us directions to Windharrow and let us pass. They did not, however, tell us about the elementals guarding the passage. We bravely fought off and defeated two air elementals wearing stone armor. The fighters fell, but I was able to save them before the elementals could deliver the finishing blow.

Moving along the passage, we camped along a shore of an underground lake as Aegis and Aoth, a druid in the form of a spider, scouted out the city and passages. After spending some time, a gong sounded calling everyone to some sort of gathering. Xylverie was in a fit about the front gates. (Maybe she has a fear of doors?) Despite her panic, we were able to just walk in and follow where the crowd was headed. More climbing, ugh, at least there were stairs this time.

On the way up, we occasionally saw people going down the hard way falling down the central shaft of the tower. This was the final straw that these were not good people. We ran up the rest of the stairs and used fireballs to eliminate the leaders of the ceremony and the man that was killing his musicians. I called to the people we just saved to flee and we will protect them. Well, apparently they didn’t hear me because they ran the wrong way and got some people to summon air elementals and a cloud of green death to attack us, even though we were saving THEM. I have to find some way to break the hold this cult has on people.

We had to run, but not before noticing that the waterfall was flowing over one of those black and purple obelisk things embedded into the wall. These are bad news.

More adventure awaits, give my love to mother.

Raylinn Fardale

+1 Story Award

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Dandelion the Bard; CY 618: Journal
Back in Baragu

Dandelion the Bard; CY 618: Journal
Back in Baragu
A.K.A. “Which way did he go, George?”
A.K.A. Ivar-y much just want to go home

Gelwyn (a lovely cleric of Elhonna) had convinced me to take a trip to Aberglain to see if we could help out with the difficulties going on there. Being a friendly and helpful sort (and a little heady after the victory in Battle of the Bards by Mazer and me in Hochoch) I thought it would be a good distraction.

It was good old Aberglain! An easy cruise down the river and a vacation hanging out with my buddy Emyr. What could possibly happen there?

Well, apparently something new…

As we approached there were clear signs of a battle; someone on a ship had taken lots of fire damage and the victors were trying to secure the still burning wreckage.

Nothing new around here I guess.

Then suddenly there was a flash and the boat we were on, along with a large area of water was dumped, unceremoniously, through a gate and into a large set of concentric stone rings.

That was a bit of a surprise, even for me.

You know, the kind of stone circles that the druids have and such. But these are all various doorways/gates to other places and times. And the outside circle is like a mile across. This set of stone rings is called Tovag Baragu or something like that – the Navel of the World.

Daust seems to know where he is going. Sort of…
He and his trainee monk are with us as well as a pair of sorcerers, Gleek (a gnome), and a Dragonborn rogue. A strange group to say the least.

So, we start around the circle and then head to the middle because we are looking for someplace called Adytinum[sp?].

Now I start to recall stories from the past about some heroes of Gyruff going to this place to find the other place having something to do with stopping the machinations of the Whispered One (big V).

Daust confirms this, that we are here to “destroy” certain evil artifacts.

Ok, I’m all-in on this.

While we are wandering around looking into these “gates” to try to find the right one, we see that a rather large dragon is now feasting on the crew of the ship we came in on. While in the other direction, a dust cloud is approaching, indicating some number of riders coming this way.

Fortunately, the dragon seems to get its fill and notices the incoming riders. It apparently doesn’t want to deal with the riders so grabs a few snacks (people) and off he (she?) flies.

Though it is good that the dragon has left, it does not look good if the dragon feared the riders.

The stories we remembered talked about Adytinum being underground and required going through several series of portals. We head to the middle ring, expecting that this is where the “important” gates are and hoping we can find our way from there.

We dawdle and waffle on what to do long enough that the riders are closing in. After a few tries, we start jumping from stone circle to stone circle in different locations (and possibly times). Each stone circle seems to be in a different environment; waist-deep water, tundra, jungle, plateau, grassy plains. Each also has its own denizens that tend to keep us moving.

The “water” ring has Aboleths and their mule minions (don’t ask), while the tundra has three frost giants. Each time we try to avoid and confrontation and we look for portals to interior spaces.

We find a castle in a gloomy realm, which I vaguely recognize from stories and so we quickly depart.

Eventually we come into a desert area inside a pyramid where evil clerics are performing some kind of service in front of a throng (over 100) followers.

Big surprise, but a fight breaks out.

We make fairly quick work of the priests, but a couple make it out to try to rally the followers (who are all armed). Before the throng of followers can do anything more than stand up to attack us the sorcerers throw down enough fireballs to burn up over half their number.

At this point I stepped up and told the remainder to stop their aggression before we destroyed them. And to give up the worship of their false god and find truth in Ehlona! I also suggested that maybe they should clean this place up a bit and change the décor because it was definitely not giving the positive vibe and good Fung-Shui that they needed to turn their lives around.

They were all really impressed and surrendered to us immediately. It may have had something to do with my speech but probably more to do with the sheer destructive power our sorcerers showed.

No sooner had we settled that than the trio of frost giants we thought we had left behind came storming in from behind us! Things got a little dangerous as they started clubbing us down but again the destructive power of fire continued to help us out. Soon they were dead and we were patching our wounds.

Daust, who had been knocked unconscious came back around and stated that he had been inhabited by “Ivar the Terrible”, a ghost necromancer who wanted nothing more than to thwart the Whispered One. Daust let us know that he had been carrying certain artifacts; the Hand and Eye of Vecna and the Sword of Kas. Ivar’s goal was to dispose of these in a chasm in Adytinum. When he was knocked out, Ivar was forced out of his body and he was now back in control of himself.

Now, of course, the items had been removed from Daust’s body, and Gleek the Gnome was nowhere to be seen. We were about to go search for the Gnome when a Chimera with a rider came flying in to attack us.

We just don’t get a break sometimes!

The fight was once again on and we started ripping into the Chimera and rider. The Gnome did appear finally, attacking the Chimera with the Sword of Kas. We were doing well until the dragon head breathed fire, burning several of our already wounded party members.

We finally finished off Chimera and rider and again healed our wounded from the edge of death. We were all low on spells and hurting pretty bad so we figured we’d make our exit from this place.

Wounded and without many resources we were searching for a location where we could get some rest. Soon we came upon a lush area on the top of a plateau that rose from a vast ocean. Exotic birds were among the living things and it seemed like a virtual paradise.

There was an elf woman who we spoke to. She was suspicious of us, and we of her, expecting that she was not revealing her true form.

But I talked to her a bit and convinced her that we meant no harm and were only looking for a place to rest. She allowed it and I talked with her for quite a while as we walked around the plateau. Apparently, she was Avatierria d’Or, the chosen guardian of this place and a champion of peace and tranquility.

Suffice to say that she was not showing us her true form but that was ok. We were fine resting here. And she made quite the impression on me (sigh…).

Though somehow, I ended up pretty tired after I “rested” with our host (go figure!).

In the morning we were up and moving again, searching for Adytinum. We soon found a location that seemed promising and stepped through. The area matched both what we knew about the entrance and our expectations (appropriate décor). Right down to the Ghasts in the next room that rushed us. Despite their stench and paralyzing filth, we managed to quickly slay them.

Moving forward we came across an oblong room full of fully armored men, some with the livery of the Gran March! This seemed odd until someone mentioned that a large contingent of knights had been converted to vampire spawn, and this may have been part of that group.

These guys were ready for the fireball barrage and countered some of them with readied dispel magics but we still had enough get through to quickly take them down. Their leader was tough but he fell eventually as well.

We walked into the next room and saw the giant chasm. A portion of a broken bridge that didn’t quite span the distance.

Here was our goal to dispose of the items.

And as we turned around we saw Gleek the Gnome trying to escape with a Dimension Door spell!!!

[To be continued…hopefully!!!]

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Raylinn Letters Home
18th day, 8th month (Goodmonth) of CY618

18th day of Goodmonth, CY618

Dearest Mother,

Know first and foremost that I am well and doing what I believe I was meant to do.

I was excited to be able to put Celestian’s gifts to practical use with the caravan instead of just practice in the courtyard. Aegis was happy to be able to spread his wings, the views he gave me were amazing. The excitement of leaving soon turned into monotony as we travelled to Axegard and spend days with the usual contacts, Bithran and Lestria send their regards and are happy to hear you and father are well. Uthrander let me handle some minor negotiations and seems impressed with the deal that I was able to work out for some bolts of silk from a trader at the docks.

Leaving Axegard, the stories and rumors of the ravaging west of the Sheldomar were not an exaggeration, the land is brown scrub and dead trees everywhere. Even scouting is boring, Aegis can fly for hours and the only thing moving is us.

Danica may finally be noticing that I am no sheltered child. She has been staying close to me for the entire trip so far, and has been enjoying when I send Aegis to ride on her shoulder. It is nice having her to talk to while the flat land rolls by, and Uthrander is soooo boring. Danica has been taking meals with me and even stayed close when it was time to make camp our first night out of the Duchy. I nearly confessed my feelings that I have had for her since she was hired last year to guard our merchant houses.

Breaking camp, I kept Aegis close so that I could talk with Danica. With the landscape so barren, the regular scouts would be able to see trouble coming from miles away. As the miles passed by, she told me stories of her adventures and battles against thieves and I impressed her by making rotted tree trunks explode with my eldritch blasts. Making camp our second night, we were perhaps too confident in our strength, and as most of us were bedding down a group of bandits attacked our camp. I helped to fend off our attackers with eldritch blasts and the fire of Celestian. One bandit avoided blades and spells and looked about to strike me down when Danica jumped in front of the blade. As she fell, I reached out, calling for her and was surprised to see her wounds close and she jumped up to impale the villain as he paused to savor my grief. I had pulled her back from the brink of death!

Having been through battle together, Danica recognized that I was capable and confessed that you had approached her to specifically keep an eye on me. That explained why she was always close by, not out of any feelings that she had, but because that is what she was hired to do. I am not a child that needs protection!

The next days through Nirdal and Dilwych passed in quiet as I frequently sent Aegis to scout the road and let myself get lost in thought. In the cities, I have been able to earn my place in the caravan getting some good prices for supplies

Leaving out of Dilwych, the land is starting to look more normal. Grass covers the hills and trees are green. Danica and I have not talked since the incident. On our second day out, Aegis spotted a band of orcs and goblins that lying in wait. I warned Uthrander of the ambush and we were ready for them. The goblins were cut down by ready arrows as they jumped from hiding and the orcs were met with walls of magic and steel. There were so many orcs and goblins, without advance warning, I shudder to think of how many would have been lost.

Getting closer to Gyruff and Ravonnar, the explosion of vegetation and wildlife that the rumors told of was sorely lacking. Sure, compared to the wastes from the undead march, the area is green and grown, but it just looks to be a normal forested area although some of the animals look a bit odd.

Watches were increased as we skirted along the Rushmoors. Word from Ravonnar was that lizardfolk would occasionally emerge from the swamp and prey on the unwary. We bypassed Tenwalls and trekked onward to Pelyth Cove. Travel went quietly, but we were on edge the entire time. If the information we received was correct, there was no way we would get to our destination without passing hostile areas. With Aegis scouting from the air, we were able to avoid bands of orcs on a few occasions and made camp on a rise with relative safety. During the night, we were attacked by lizardmen. Though we were not caught off-guard, everyone seemed to be taken aback by these creatures. They had butterfly wings, green fur (I swear it looked like grass), spines, strange colors, it was disturbing. The first few lizardfolk were defeated, but there were so many more. Inspired by seeing the butterfly wings on one of them, I cast an illusion of a swarm of colorful butterflies that mesmerized about a dozen of the creatures. I told them that were had nothing of value and if they continued the attack, they would likely all die. After releasing them from the effects of the spell, they took what allies they could and retreated back into the swamp. What was left of the fight was finished in short order.

After arriving in Pelyth Cove, the caravan contracted a ship to take us the rest of the way to Hochoch by river.

Coming up on the city was an experience, the city was larger than expected and had a nice look from the outside. Here is where I received the message from Celestian that I was to venture off on my own journey.

My adventure lies ahead

Your son,

Raylinn Fardale

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Brewfest 618

(Sorry this gets a little involved and lots of flavor, but if you are just skimming, skip to the 7th day.)

The events of Brewfest went, more or less, as expected, though many of the additional guards and militia were less than pleased at having to serve extra time during the largest festival in recent memory.

On the 1st of Brewfest, the wicker man was completed and set up on Longman Hill overlooking the festivities and Gorna. Celebrants wove sheaves of wheat into dolls and scarecrows. Though there were isolated reports of scarecrows coming to life, none have been captured.

A mighty feast was laid out celebrating the second (and final) harvest of the season. Llewellyn said a prayer of Thanks to the Old Gods for this bounty, though other faiths said prayers to their own deities. This first feast featured more grains and vegetables, representative of the day’s dedication. The harvest this year was not as plentiful as previous years, especially in the Downlands, but it will be more than sufficient for Gyruff’s needs and enough surplus to export to other lands.

The dwarven heavy metal group Mithrilbock performed for the huge grape stomp (and mosh pit) dance where over one hundred freshly washed skyclad participants gleefully pounded the grapes into pulp with their feet and bodies. Dwarven House DeepLager won first place in the brewing competition with a new draft called “Two Lutes Lager” with two stars on the label (in honor of their recent Battle of the Bands win in Hochoch). The Oytwood Elven green summer wine entitled “Ehlenestra’s Embrace” (Ehlenestra is the elvish name for the deity Ehlonna) won first place in the wine competition. A Stout Halfling brandy from The Lea entitled “Hair of the Dog” won first place, though there were complaints from the Keoish attendees as all Keoish Brandies are illegal and unable to participate in the competition. An untitled independent Flan Mead won first place in its competition. The Crown Prince showed remarkable fortitude by remaining sober throughout the hundreds of wines, beers, brandies and meads tasted and judged.

There were a few fights and at least half a dozen fatalities through the night, particularly along the main corridor from Miner Town, where the main celebration was being held, and Eagle’s Peak, the castle.

It was in the judging tent that the assassin first struck. The Crown Prince was struck by a small black poisoned dagger from someone in the crowd. The assailant then slipped away and disappeared in the crowd. Without missing a beat, the Princess gave orders to the royal guards, who immediately encircled the royals and rushed them across the bridge, into the city walls and up towards the castle. The assassin(s) made a few more attempts, was spotted climbing the second perimeter wall of the castle and driven off.

It is said that the ghost of Brenin Rhys ap Colwyn visited his son that night. The ghost possessed a guard and the two talked for hours into the night.

According to gossip among the castle staff, Llewellyn appeared within the castle for an audience. The Crown Prince had sent word of his attack and Llewellyn had come to check on him. According to the gossip, the discussion was tense and formal with a not very subtle subtext, but did not lead to violence or even raised voices. Llewellyn then returned to the festivities, while the royals remained in the castle protected by their guards.

In the morning, the assassin’s body was found dragged from the river with a few crossbow bolts and arrows. Animals had been at the body for several hours before it was discovered, so identification was deemed impossible.

On the 2nd of Brewfest, apples and other fruit were featured in the feast. There was cider pressing, apple bobbing, carmel apples, pies, cakes, torts and treats of all sorts for the judging, which the Crown Prince conducted fairly to the people’s satisfaction.

The Crown Prince came in 5th in the archery contest, bested by Cadofyth Darragh ap Broach, First Bow of the Longbowmen of Gyruff (1st place), the Princess Jagr (2nd place), Cymorth Sir Girais Longdraw of the Saethwri (3rd place) and a little gremlin named Mozu (4th place) who at first wanted to compete with playing cards of all things! – - There were guffaws that the Crown Prince would be bested by his wife, but she is an elven ranger specializing in archery.

The Lights of Lydia presided over the light-hearted dance at the end of the day.

The 3rd of Brewfest celebrates wrestling, strength and the hunt. Though the strongest, toughest and bravest of wrestlers faced off against beasts of ever increasing size and strength from boar, bear, bull, giant boar, cave bear, phase spider and winter wolf, one of the more comedic displays was the little gremlin Mozu (apparently from the Order of the Alchemist’s Stone) who defeated a large half-ogre after several minutes in the ring. The tenacious little guy kept jumping on the larger “man’s” back, dangling from his neck. Inevitably, the larger creature would pick up the smaller one and throw him across the ring, but the little guy would pop up and jump right back on him as if possessed. Eventually, the lack of air or blood flow to his head caused the larger and stronger, but slower creature to stumble and fall. Many fortunes were won and lost betting on that event!

Then it was time for a mortal recreation of The Wild Hunt. Llewellyn blessed Crown Prince Rhys’ hunting party and explained the symbolism. The size of the stag and his rack are associated directly with the upcoming prosperity and fertility offered by Obad Hai to The Land and by extension, the Brenin/Regent. Failure to return with a kill would indicate that the winter would be harsh and the country would be faced with hardship.

According to accounts whispered by some of the disgruntled guards, the hunting party came across the trail of a herd of deer heading southwest and the Princess proceeded to track them. The trail was then joined by a creature with hooves the size of dinner plates, a great portent should they bring the creature down. Suddenly, the hunting party came across the largest giant black stag any of the men had ever seen. The huge beast was at least eight feet to the shoulder and ten to twelve feet to the top of its mighty rack. Such a sighting is often taken as foreshadowing of an important event, such as the birth or coronation of a king. Legends tell of gods that take the form of a giant elk or stag when visiting the Material Plane. Many cultures believe that to hunt such creatures is to invite divine wrath, but considering the purpose of this ceremonial hunt, this is a powerful omen.

Unfortunately, most members of the hunting party were just regular royal guards not particularly prone to stealth and most were surprised or in awe as the giant black stag trumpeted a warning/challenge. Princess Jagr was first to act, unleashing two arrows with magic into the mighty creature. Crown Prince Rhys shot at the beast before sprinting to cover behind a tree, while the guards struggled to react. The beast charged the tightly packed group, killing one guard protecting the princess and throwing him effortlessly through the air. – - The Crown Prince Rhys popped out of hiding with a sneak attack upon the beast, now in a melee with most of the hunting party, but it was Princess Jagr who did the most damage and sunk the killing arrow deep within the beast’s flesh. Such was her quick thinking and reflexes that she now saved the entire hunting party from even more casualties. – - The more than one ton giant stag had to be field dressed to bring it home and the royal guards presented Princess Jagr with the rack and heart of the beast. [The Druids and Traditional adherents of the Old Faith later noted that no thanks was given to the beast or prayer of thanks to Obad Hai offered, but such is to be expected of a Crown Prince raised by his Keoish Princess mother. – - Many others upon hearing the story made many jokes about who has the “horns” in that family!]

Two Lutes for Love pack them in for the performance and dance celebrating an expected year of fertility and prosperity. Llewellyn personally blesses the performance and crowd, leading many of the traditional and ceremonial dances himself. The revelers get quite drunk and crazy (in a Woodstock Love Fest, non PG-13 sort of way).

The 4th of Brewfest celebrates the Equinox, when the dark grows longer than the light. The acorn is a symbol of strength and power. In the fall, these tiny yet hardy little nuggets drop from the oak trees to land on the ground. Most will be eaten by passing wildlife, but a few will survive to form a new tree in the spring. Because the acorn only appears on a fully mature oak, it is often considered a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time. It represents perseverance and hard work.

One thing that seems to tie together much of the ancient reverence for the oak tree is lightning… Lightning has often been associated with the gods walking among the mortal (Material) world. As the oak is generally one of the tallest trees in the forest, it is well known as the tree most prone to lightning strikes. Once struck, it will continue to thrive. The Druids believe that when mistletoe grew in an oak tree it was magical and sacred; that it had been placed there by a lightning strike and was therefore the most powerful of all the mistletoe that grew in the forest.

Llewellyn, clad in white, led a group of Traditional Old Faith druids, clergy and followers into the woods to harvest mistletoe with a golden sickle to use as divine focus for the evening’s rituals and all year long. Two white bulls are sacrificed as part of a religious ceremony culminating with the rendering of an elixir that was said to cure infertility and be an antidote to all poisons.

Rulers often wore crowns of oak leaves, as a symbol of their connection to the divine. After all, if one were a living god, personification of the god on earth, one had to look the part. Tonight was no exception. Leah Redoak, Watcher of Autumn, managed to affix the mighty rack of the giant black stag (obtained from the Princess and additional supports down to his shoulders to handle the weight) wrapped with a crown of oak leaves and a green mask of oak leaves representative of Obad Hai to Crown Prince Rhys, Regent of Gyruff, though he couldn’t turn his head in the rig. Short springy stilts are attached to make his legs look retrograde and hidden by furry wraps.

Llewellyn would play the role of Father Sun (Pelor). Valanthe the Appleblossum (Watcher of Summer) would take the role of the Harvest Queen, the Oerth Mother (Beory). Rhianeth the Cherryblossum (Watcher of Spring) would play Obad Hai’s rival, Ehlonna (Ehlenestra to the elves). Ehlanntra the Violetblossum (Watcher of Winter) would play the role of the Winter Queen (Raven Queen) approaching her season’s ascension. In addition to Crown Prince Rhys as adult Obad Hai, a child version would be played by Steffanus ap Heff (twelve year old son of Brehyr Heff the Longwool of Tywyll Cwrw in Rhychdir Rhos).

“Ffolk Yeah!” plays many lively traditional tunes, while various drum circle dances and crowd-interactive plays are performed illustrating stories of the Old Faith, in particular The Seasons. From white sheets representing the snows of winter, Ehlonna plants an acorn representing the seed of hope, new things and the rebirth of Obad Hai, which/who is watered with Beory’s tears and warmed by Pelor’s gaze. In summer, Obad Hai becomes a boy, playing, learning and growing into adulthood under Beory’s care. As the wheel turns to Autumn, Obad Hai becomes a man. Steffanus slips out as Crown Prince Rhys comes on as the adult Obad Hai in his huge horned rig and tries to prance around. (Balance is hard, but Rhys has an unnatural grace. It’s the weight of the horns that likely gave him the most trouble.) Finally, at the end of the season, the Raven Queen (as her aspect turns to Winter) hunts Obad Hai and in this version, knocks him unconscious with a kiss before killing him with an iron sickle. The blood from his chest looks so lifelike… – - The ever wary Princess Jagr determines that something is wrong and sends the guards to rescue the prince even as she lets loose a pair of arrows at the one playing the Raven/Winter Queen. The “Raven Queen” transforms into a giant monstrous spider larger than a horse and tries to flee with the unconscious and bleeding Crown Prince. Astra, another of the Crown Prince’s companions who is also of the Order of the Alchemist’s Stone, strikes the spider with magic missiles to avoid hitting the Crown Prince and drives her back into human form. More of Princess Jagr’s arrows embed themselves into the “Raven Queen”. The now bloodied woman then unleashes a firestorm, burning away the pursuing guards and creating a panic. Princess Jagr shoots her twice more. The woman looks ready to shape shift again when Astra brings her down with more of her powerful magic missiles. Only Astra and the Princess are brave enough to approach, though their conversation was overheard. “She’s still breathing. Should we arrest her for questioning?” Astra asks. <thunk> <thunk> as two arrows now fill the woman’s eye sockets. “No. She isn’t.” Princess Jagr exclaims. – - As the mask is removed, revealing the body of Maelan merch Caswallon, who had a giant black stag companion. – - Ehlanntra is later found wounded and unconscious, but alive.

The 5th of Brewfest is a time of somber reflection, meditation, giving thanks and sacrifice. Although many aspects of the Raven Queen are unpleasant, her role is critical to the circle of life. It is a time to remember those we’ve lost and thanks for that which we still have. More meat from the white bull sacrifice is thrown on a fire to thank the gods. Xilvyre performs a number of somber pieces and odes, much as she did in the Battle of the Bands.

The 6th of Brewfest is the celebration of balance. Log rolling, fencing, jousting and other competition of Dexterity and Balance are held with the Crown Prince reviewing, judging and recognizing the competitions and winners. For the final night of celebration, many of the decorations, including the wicker man, are burned as part of the close of the celebration. Sometime during the night, Dagda, a ten thousand foot tall primordial towering now over Longman Hill, arrived unnoticed.

The 7th of Brewfest is a time of cleanup and completing tasks before winter. All revelers are expected to help clean up and repair any damage from the celebration. Once that is completed, people return to their homes and/or places of work to maintain buildings and tools of their trade, putting away the summer things and bringing out the winter ones. It’s a time of finishing what was started.

Before dismissing the assembly, Llewellyn, his Druid Circle and the royals climb unto Dagda’s waiting hand, which is lifted above the people. In a public ceremony, Llewellyn proclaims himself Grand Druid of Oerth and Emperor of the newly restored Flan Empire of Pelham to usher in a new era of prosperity through the Traditional Old Ways and the Old Faith as the official state religion. – - Crown Prince Rhys ap Rhys kneels before Llewellyn and pledges his loyalty to him as a vassal.

Llewellyn places the torc of the Brenin around Rhys’ neck, exclaiming “Arise Rhys ap Rhys, Brenin of Gyruff! – - You are the hart whose blood may be needed to renew The Land. You have come to me willingly to shed your blood, if needed, in the service of our people. The fates of The Land and our people are intimately intertwined with your own. – - The Land is the Brenin; The Brenin is The Land.”

The Druid Circle begin to chant, which inspires the assembled lesser druids, bards and followers of the Old Faith to chant over and over again (until Llewellyn gestures for them to stop) ever increasing in volume and intensity “The Land is the Brenin; The Brenin is The Land.”

Llewellyn continues “May your reign be long and true to the people. Long live Gyruff and long live the empire of our people!”

(Applause)

Once the coronation ceremony is complete, Llewellyn himself takes to one knee and produces a beautifully crafted elvish ring. “In conclusion, I would like to ask the lovely and talented Xilvyre to become my wife and Empress of the new Great Empire of the Flan. – Will you honor me with accepting me as your husband?”

Xilvyre: “um…. Um… um… ah…” Then she swoons and must be revived…

View
Return to Temple of Black Earth

Harvester 618
Bothan, Raylin, Dandelion and Morrick wanted to return to the temple of Black Earth, so I joined them. Raylin had a pseudodragon Aegis who acted as his eyes. We scouted the area as we approached and found 2 dead bulettes with dueragar riders. From the damage done, they were probably killed by Maelan merch Caswallon’s stag.

The roof was patched from their entry last month, so we picked a different point of entry. Gleep’s room felt abandoned and the cells were empty. When we searched the library, Dandelion found some papers, which he took. They included maps of Durward in the Stark Mounds and Griffon’s Watch in the Oytwood. Other papers looked like battle plans for Griffon’s Watch.

One duergar was cleaning the stables after the patrol left, but he was soon dead. The guard tower was empty, as was the forger. The barracks were also empty, but the 16 beds had been slept in recently. The dining room smelled of a recent meal and two dueragar were doing dishes. We also found an ossuary, or a place for the bones of the dead, with a swirling pattern in the dust on the floor.

The next room smelled like a butcher shop. We found 4 human butchers butchering a human and a giant boar. We killed two butchers and captured the other two and imprisoned them in the cells in the room. They gave us a lot of information on the complex. Bones are left in the ossuary and taken by something. Kendra hired the butchers. The lowest level contains an obelisk that they are working to unearth. About a dozen miners plus 6 to 12 animal handlers were working on a lower level. The animal handlers were breeding bullettes and anhkegs. The leader was Helenray, a blind human fighter. Because of the large number of dark dwarves killed, they were not able to attack Griffon’s Watch.

The next room contained an ogre who operated the elevator to the lower levels. Dandelion befriended him also and got more information about the temple. We learned of a statue hall of those who would not join. There is also a forsaken tunnel which led to a dwarven stronghold but was closed off.

We sent the ogre off to the loo and followed the tunnel behind his seat to a forge with two dueragar. They were using material from the battle at Dersyth to make dueragar sized armor. Raylin sent Aegis to scout out the slide down. I am glad he did, because the slide ended over a stalagmite. We used rope and carefully descended to a large natural chamber. We followed a passage out and soon Bothan felt tremors in the earth. We were soon surrounded by two earth elementals. Bothan used the pick to make one his friend. We thereby quickly destroyed the second earth elemental. Bothan then sent the friendly earth elemental to destroy the bullette nursery.

We then quickly found the way down to the obelisk. We saw many symbols of the Elder Elemental Eye. We also found three humans, one of whom was blind, chanting around a column of mist. We determined that the mist was mist of insanity. We managed to kill the three. We then worked to collapse the area around the obelisk.

On the way out, we met two bullettes with riders. Raylin got one bullette and rider to ride north and keep going. We were then able to dispatch the other without much trouble. We had to kill the ogre elevator operator. We finished by finding the abbot’s quarters. We found a chamber with basilisks on the other side of the mist from the stairs. That explains the statues of non-believers. For now we will have to leave them, as we can not return them to flesh yet. Hopefully that stops the earth elementalists.

View
Battle of the Bands

Crown Prince Rhys ap Rhys as Count of Arweth has put the burned out Quivering Hills Companionship Hall up as the prize for a Battle of the Bands competition. Entry fee is 500 gp, which goes to the coffers of Hochoch. Three judges of talent have been selected from among the people of Hochoch, though the audience can cheer or jeer to influence a band’s score. Each band will be judged on three categories:
1) Musical Performance, including the clarity of music/vocals and overall (technical) music performance: 1 to 30 points.
2) Stage Performance, including stage presence, crowd interaction, appearance and personality: 1 to 30 points.
3) Crowd Applause, which the judges will gauge approval vs. disapproval: 1 to 40 points
The winner of each round plays off against the winner from another bracket until we get to the final two. Then the winner gets the building as a life estate.
The event is incredibly popular, increasing tourism spending for the whole town. Even the mighty Dagda (mountain sized primordial) comes to Hochoch to listen to the Battle of the Bands.
Bards Against Humanity goes first.
Six Orogs (orcs blessed with surprisingly keen intellect, strength and cunning) from Melgorn take the stage with more than a dozen humans. The Orogs are in crudely tanned black leathers with brutal looking instruments and weapons, while the humans are wearing primitive clothing with inferior weapons. As they begin playing heavy thrashing metal music, Into the Maelstorm, they enter into a mock combat with more than a dozen human warriors, defeating them easily and taking four human women performers captive.
Judges Ruling:
Musical Performance was good: 20 points
Stage Performance was a little confused and unclear: 14
The Crowd hated it and boo’ed, probably due to the theme: 5 points
FINAL SCORE, Bards Against Humanity: 39 points.

Xilvyre
Xilvyre steps onto the stage alone, wearing a rust tunic, a grey dancing skirt, black shoes and silver necklace of Ehlonna. This song “Hero of Gyruff” is my tribute to Father Benton, who died fighting a necromancer in this city not long ago.

Performance: 27
Stage Performance: 18
Crowd Applause: 22 [Previous reputation as firebomber of Hochoch offsets the content based on a beloved and martyred Hero of Hochoch.]
TOTAL SCORE: 67

Xilvyre wins this round of the competition and the Orogs go wild in fury, smashing the stage, attacking the judges and frenzying into the crowd. The Heroes of Hochoch defended the judges/citizens, arresting the Orogs and restoring order.

Nine Chain Males
The red chain devil Mezopiliosis steps onto the stage, playing a single chord on his infernal amplified Les Paul Lute to summon each of his eight fellow band members. They are introduced as Yahnny the Golden Fiddle Player, who belts out his introduction chords. Niccolo Paganini on the violin. Bobbie Johannson on a strange lute. Fredricko Mercurial on vocals with Johann Fausta backing him up. He then summons up a dwarven lute player, elven flutist and a half-orc drummer that he doesn’t introduce.
As Mezopiliosis struts the stage playing “Being Evil Has A Price” and flirting with the women present, piles of chains scattered about the stage begin rising like snakes being charmed. The chains dance and jingle to the music, embracing or caressing some of the women he flirts with.
Musical Performance: 26
Stage Performance: 22
Crowd Applause: 12 [Disadvantage for being a DEVIL, though he got a lot of applause from the women he charmed.]
TOTAL SCORE: 60

Lights of Lydia
Using magic and illusion, the stage transforms into a forest. Lydian Lindsey Silver begins playing her fiddle with four Lydian backup singer/dancers playing an old Flan tune. As they perform, they use more prestidigitation, dancing lights and illusions to convey the magic of the piece.
Musical Performance: 26
Stage Performace:
Crowd Applause: 19 [Playing in Flan and adapting to the natural aspect of their audience, despite being a foreign religion.]
TOTAL SCORE: 70

Winner: Lights of Lydia. – Judge Comment: “I guess being evil really does have a price!”

Mithrilbock
Illusions of the forest dissipate as five DeepLager Dwarves in armor get upon the stage with two lutes, a drummer, a hurdy gurdy and a singer. They thank the crowd for coming and offer free tankards of a new hardy dwarven Mithrilbock ale. (The drink is potent enough to intoxicate even dwarvish constitution.) While the drink is passed around, other dwarves light a bonfire before the stage. The haunting music of the dwarves makes one think of dwarven holds, deep under the mountain. The tune is To Erebor.

Musical Performance: 15
Stage Performance: 10 [Simple performance and the fire quickly becomes a hazard to the audience, especially with intoxicants.]
Crowd Applause: 23 [Advantage free beer!]
TOTAL SCORE: 48

Two Lutes For Love
And now ladies and gentlemen, it is the distinct pleasure of the management to present to you, the evening’s star attraction. Here they are back after their exclusive three year tour of Keoland, Sterich, and the City of Greyhawk. Won’t you welcome from Gyruff, the show band of Mazer and Dandelion…TWO LUTES FOR LOVE!!!!!

Mazer and Dandelion burst onto the stage for either side playing “Wish I had a Girl”.
During the performance, we start pointing out women (servers and others) and sing toward them. Then we come off the stage:
• Follow some of the servers around and pick out ladies to sing to
• Get with some of the guys and “buddy up with them” singing; “wish we had that girl” pointing out good looking women.
Basically, incorporating the crowd into our performance and having fun with them.
Musical Performance: 23
Stage Performance: 27
Crowd Applause: 28
Total Score (without using luck): 78
Two Lutes for Love moves on!

Ffolk Yeah!
Light and haunting pipe music fills the area as several large muscled Flan men raise and secure a maypole on stage and relight the fire in front of the stage. Several mostly unencumbered elvish, Flan and fey (nymph) dancers begin dancing (some in costume), while several Old Faith Bards take up a fiddle, hand drums, a shawm (double reed oboe-like instrument), flute, harp and carnyx to join the (satyr) pipes still off-stage. Magical lights flit through the audience with the faint sound of tiny bells. (Only the most observant notice small bundles of herbs are thrown in the fire, giving the billowing smoke a blue-grey haze and incense smell. Tiny arrows penetrate and dissolve into several members of the audience.) Love is in the air as two of the stage performers take the roles of the Old Faith Horned Lord and Lady in a very Traditional Ceremony slightly ahead of Brewfest. The judges seem almost beguiled by the performance of Walpurgisnacht.
Musical Performance: 30 (The judges are agog at the performance.)
Stage Performance: 23 (The judges apparently ignore the fire, which imposed disadvantage for a previous group.)
Crowd Applause: 33 (Advantage, Flan/Old Faith/Traditionally themed, those not cheering are typically “otherwise occupied”.)
TOTAL SCORE: 83

Twisted Sisters
(A much younger than you remember) Auntie Wormwood and her eight “sisters” come on stage and begin singing and dancing with some accompanying music apparently off-stage. The song is Paint It Black. As the performance heats up, they cast off layers of their costumes. Their haunting voices and hypnotic dancing mesmerize the crowd and the judges, who rush to the stage in a throng. It isn’t until someone shatters the illusion, exposing Auntie Wormwood as a Green Hag and her “sisters” as Harpies that the spell is broken.

Musical Performance: 30 (while charmed) 20 after being exposed
Stage Performance: 25 (while charmed) 15 after being exposed
Crowd Applause: 30 (while charmed) 7 after discovering how they were duped and the evilness of the Twisted Sisters
TOTAL SCORE: 85 downgraded to 42

The unmasking of the harpies and hag resulted in combat. As it is, the heroes and the town guard are able to defeat them like “Bards Against Humanity”, although many take significant wounds.
Ffolk Yeah! Advances to the next round.

ROUND 2:
Xilvyre vs. Lights of Lydia
Two Lutes for Love vs. Ffolk Yeah!

Xilvyre
Xilvyre will take the stage for her second number. Ode to Uthaine – to the tune of Wind beneath my wings.
Intro, “This is my ode to Uaithne ap Dilwyn, my traveling companion of less than one year who died defending this city this past Planting. He was born and grew up here in Hochoch.” I am wearing short, lyrical dance dress in juniper chiffon with a multi-tier skirt and dance shoes. My singing style is similar to Bette Middler’s Wind beneath my wings. While singing, I do a ballet style dance performance, including cartwheels.

As Xilvyre plays, the crowd feels more than hears, a booming harp accompaniment (Dagda) backing up her vocals. Birds, squirrels and other melodious natural creatures come to the stage. As she dances, bluebirds, painted buntings, ruby throated hummingbirds, canaries, meadowlarks, goldfinches, orioles, cardinals, scarlet tanagers and other colorful birds follow as if in a train of color. Mockingbirds, canaries, thrushes, insects and other creatures add their own melodies in harmony with Xilvyre’s voice. On the final chorus of “…wind beneath my wings…” a giant eagle, previously circling overhead in the dark, lands on stage and transforms into Llewellyn:

“People of Gyruff and Visitors to this Land:

“I stand before you as a man returned from the dead. The Oerth Mother Beory has returned me to life, so that I can show you the power of the Old Faith. Through parables and historical accounts as told by our bards, we learn of the past and our culture. Xilvyre is a bard, in heart and spirit, if not in training.

“We do not have the time and this is not the place to learn the full power and fulfillment of the Old Faith and Old Ways, but let me give you an example…”

With some incantations and gestures, Llewellyn holds up his hands and declares “Rise, Uthaine! – Come forth from the embrace of the Raven Queen!”

There is a deep rumble as the earth swells, bulges and then falls away from a burnt set of bones, now resting upon the stage. The burned and broken bones reattach and organize themselves into a skeleton. Internal organs begin to take shape within the skeleton. Then tendons and sinew form, followed by muscles. Finally layers of flesh and then hair form before your very eyes. “Uthaine! Awaken and serve your mistress once more!”

The newly formed body stirs and his eyes snap open as he awakes with a start: “Xilvyre, get down! He’s a mage!” Then, confused, he looks around and realizes he isn’t where he thought he was.

Llewellyn continues in a soothing voice, “That’s alright Uthaine. You served your mistress and your Crown Prince with distinction. We have returned you to the land of the living. I know you cannot remember or retell what has happened on the other side of the veil. I know, trust me, I know. But now we are called upon to witness to the people that we have returned and returned with a purpose. We shall spread the word of the Old Faith and our Traditional Old Ways. Welcome back, my brother!

Llewellyn’s voice gets louder, (magically) projecting throughout Hochoch: “Speaking of brothers, Crown Prince Rhys, if you are out there, remember that you are now promised to be the star of Gyruff’s Brewfest celebration. You shall have the lead role as the Horned Lord, Obad-Hai. Don’t forget and don’t let your people down!

“To all a good night, and the best of luck with the musical competition!”

Llewellyn then turns back into a giant eagle and flies up to Dagda, but they stay to hear the last rounds of the competition.

Xilvyre recovers from her surprise and takes Uaithne away to get clothing and to rest.

Musical Performance: 16 (Some of the judges didn’t agree that the harmonies of the birds and other animals were in tune…)
Stage Performance: 22 (Simon the Judge: “The harp-playing mountain [Dagda] wasn’t actually on-stage, so we rule he doesn’t count. Plus the purely magical resurrection, while impressive, was after the song was concluded and shall not be counted.” [Tough crowd])
Crowd Applause: 22 (Much of the audience was too surprised or awed to applaud.)
TOTAL SCORE: 60

Lights of Lydia
Shortly after the Lights of Lydia take the stage with beautiful magical glowing scenery, wardrobe and props, someone dispels the illusions, leaving the lead violinist, Lindsey Silver, alone in simple black garb with a single light from a stage brazier. Even the other Lydians were illusions, as it turns out. Apparently in acceptance of this, Lindsey begins to play alone. As she plays and dances, her shadow appears to take a life all its own and she goes with it. The song is Shadows.
Musical Performance: 20
Stage Performance: 27/11 (At first impressed, when the judges realized that she wasn’t using magical illusions, she must have been playing with an undead shadow)
Crowd Applause: 15 (Likewise initially impressed, the crowd grew fearful of the shadow)TOTAL FINAL SCORE: 46

Xilvyre goes to the final round!

Two Lutes for Love
We will play the instrumental, “Classical Gas”.
Dandelion comes out playing by himself with just a single light on him (bullseye lantern).
Then he pauses, and Mazer comes out playing with a light on him and Dandelion looks almost surprised.
We play the song almost in a dueling banjos sort of way.
Meanwhile, we use Prestidigitation, and Minor Illusion to show images of scenic areas of Gyruff including towns, castles, forests, cliffs, etc. And we just play the music, no lyrics. As we play we’ll go wandering around the crowd continuing to play with just the music and scenes from Gyruff.
Musical Performance: 27
Stage Performance: 20
Crowd Applause: 27

TOTAL SCORE: 74!

Ffolk Yeah!
Ffolk Yeah! “reads” the room and learns from the previous groups. Instead of relying on illusions and magic, they enlist several street performers to juggle and dance on stage with them, which is decorated like a common tavern scene. In addition to performing in Flan, their allies begin passing out free libations to the crowd.

Musical Performance: 24
Stage Performance: 17
Crowd Applause: 25

TOTAL SCORE: 66

WINNER: Two Lutes for Love

(Ffolk Yeah!, Two Lutes for Love, Xilvyre, and even Light(s) of Lydia are invited by Llewellyn to perform on various nights of the Brewfest celebration in Gorna next week. Happy Brewfest everyone!)

Xilvyre
Xilvyre> I was surprised at the backup I had in the last round. I am grateful to have Uthaine back. But I entered this contest to showcase my talent and would like to perform this last number by myself. I had a hard time choosing which number to sing for you. I have decided to sing May It Be

Xilvyre is wearing a lavender puffy shirt with a black girdle over a silver grey dancing skirt. I am playing Loring’s Lyre and singing. While singing, I will walking about the crowd with the skirt swishing and twirling.

Musical Performance: 27 (Good example)
Stage Performance: 15 (sedate performance)
Crowd Applause: 29 (Thematically sound and in align with the culture and attitude)

Total Score: 71

Two Lutes for Love
And now it comes down to this.
So yes, we are singing this in classic Flan.

Here is our set-up:

The stage is set up like a bar. It starts dark then lights shine down on Mazer and Dandelion who are at the bar, surrounded by empty mugs/glasses.
We turn to each other clank our mugs and down them.

Then we turn and start strumming on our lutes a little bit.
“For this one, we need all the ladies to come up on stage, and sing along!”

All of the ladies get invited up onto the stage and we all sing “Kiss me, I’m Sh1tfaced”

Even as the Two Lutes play, the magical effects of their lutes are repeated dispelled as are any enhance abilities, but the effects have little impact on their overall performance.

Musical Performance: 25
Stage Performance: 22 (though “Simon” snubs the “Common man approach”)
Crowd Applause: 30 (bonuses for lyrics, Flan, including the crowd participation and your other usual antics)

Total Score: 77

Swain the Hoar, Seneschal for Crown Prince Rhys ap Rhys in his role as Count of Arweth and Brehyr of Hochoch, hands the Prince the deed to the tavern to pronounce the winner (reminding him that the competition brought in 4000 gp and a great deal of tax income from the visitors to the city).

The people look to the Crown Prince to declare the winner and make a short speech…

View
Druid Circle

Harvester 618
I traveled to Oytmeet for the noble moot. I could not get near the castle, as it was overflowing with brehyri, but being in the town was excitement enough. Then Dandelion suggested the Aoth, Tornado, Everdur, Mazer and I find out why the druids could not or would not confirm nobles.

I had heard that Llewellyn had appointed a new druid circle, even though the Great Druid of the Western Region and the Grand Druid would not recognize him as Arch Druid of Gyruff or as the rightful heir to his body. In order to become arch druid of Gyruff, Llewelyn challenged first the Great Druid, Oeridian Ushome, and then the Grand Druid, Uthos Eldereye. Angry that they would not recognize him, he slew them.

The Grand Druid had warned (Lllewelyn thinks cursed) that the Druid Circle in Gyruff is unbalanced. Aside from Rhianeth the Cherryblossom, the other three were not blessed by Beory nor were they of enough experience. Also, three of the four druids were now of Ehlonna instead of balanced among the deities. Of course the circle is out of balance. Llewelyn is forcing things instead of being in harmony.

Llewelyn returned to find the circle in a trance-like state as they struggle to balance things. Llewelyn is not sure what to do to bring balance to the circle and to return to the favor of Beory. He is convinced he must sacrifice some one or many more on the fourth of Brewfest at the harvest festival to regain Beory’s favor. He wants Rhys to play Obad Hai and be sacrificed.

We took Mazer’s boat the Illustrious upriver to Dersyth, looking for Llewelyn or Maelyn merch Caswallon. Aoth stopped at the druid circles along the way. He met with Delyth Buckthorn at the Gloaming Glade near Hocholve. Aoth learned that Maelyn is working with the wereboars in the Crystal Mists. She is traveling from village to village recruiting them. The barrier to the undead is now in Derelion and in the river, so the undead now slowly cross the river.

We next traveled to Llenerch and the Trehalwyn. Aoth spoke with the druid of Obad Hai, who is still here. Maelyn is spreading the path of purity. She has unsavory allies, including the Lord of Pain, who can not be killed. We stopped in Dyffryn y Rheswm, where the monastery has been rebuilt and dedicated to Pelor.

We stopped in Dersyth, where the monastery is being rebuilt, along with the town. Aoth spoke to the druids here, who told him that Dagda has moved to Tjalf.

Those of us without Gyric mountain ponies borrowed them and we traveled to the lake. Mazer blew three blasts on the horn at the lake’s edge. Ellen de Ash came with the boat and took us to the Isles. She told us the nature is severely out of balance and the Circle is trying to put it back in balance. Everdur and Mazer did not see either Isle. Mazer tried to walk with me unto Kindler’s Isle, but fell into the water. Tornado and I could see the isle and went and talked with Gwydion of the Twained Elm and his pixie companion Dewdrop. He told us that the Druid Circle are on the Plane of Time trying to fix the gears of the seasons. We would need to collect magical notes on tuning forks from the standing stones to go to the Plane of Time. I asked The Raven Queen for my favor as knowledge of what we should do. I got a vision of the four druids trying to put the gears back in place. Gwydion does not see a good ending for Llewelyn, but offered no advice on that problem.

A soggy Mazer decided to spend his time putting out fey treats and singing fey songs. After a time, he attracted a pixie. She told him that the fey are not feeling welcome in Gyruff anymore and are drawing back to the Fading Lands, of which the Isle of Rhun is a part. She said that we need to get the Old Faith back and get people to honor the fey. She also told Mazer that Dagda has a harp which can be played to put the seasons back in order.

Aoth traveled to the Isle of Rhun and saw the druids of the circle. Druids here are keeping their bodies alive, but they can not last much longer. We decided to send an animal messenger to Dersyth to get a message to Prince Rhys. We wanted Rhys to meet us at Dagda’s home in Tjalf so Dagda could protect Rhys and defeat Llewelyn.

Aoth and Mazer made a deal with the giant eagles to take us to see Dagda. Aoth used his favor with Dagda to get Dagda to play the harp and put the seasons back in order. Aoth also talked to the harp, the Voice of the Dead, about Grellan. Grellan was driven, ruthless and the sneaky spymaster for Llewelyn. It is said that Grellan wanted to be the next king and had the idea of sacrificing Llewelyn to be the Green Man. Grellan died with Llewelyn and then did not get to be king.

Aoth then asked Dagda to help us with Llewelyn, but Dagda had already made an agreement with his friend Llewelyn to help bring back the Old Faith. Tornado and Evendur used their favors with Dagda to get him to agree not to kill any humanoids in helping Llewelyn.

We realized the Dagda would not protect Rhys from Llewelyn, so Mazer rode out to meet Rhys and get him to go away. Llewelyn soon came to Dagda. I tried to talk to him and convince him that sacrifice was not the way to win Beory back. In fact, he could not be Llewelyn and had to find a different path. But that all fell on deaf ears as he was committed to being Llewelyn now and would not change. When he was asking for advice several months ago, I advised him to be Llewelyn. But I did not think Beory would abandon Llewelyn and I did not realize he was not really Llewelyn, but rather Grellan reborn into hundreds of lives.

I did ask Llewelyn to take us the the Plane of Time. We saw that Dagda had indeed put the seasons back in order, as the gears were where they should be. The druids were no longer struggling with the gears, as they had been in my vision. But they were exhausted. They soon returned to the Isle of Rhun and we also returned to the Prime Material Plane.

Llewelyn is past the point of reason. He is set on being Arch Druid and set on regaining Beory’s favor. I do not believe either of these is possible. He also wants to forcibly return Gyruff to the Old Faith, making non-believers leave, either alive or dead. He has abandoned his earlier plan of just showing people the Way without force. I do not see a way this can end well for Llewelyn. He is proud and stiff-necked and will not accept a lesser role. He does not want to return to Grellan’s role of service to another. I also fear that Caitlyn is jealous that her brother still gets his life with a family and becoming Brenin while Caitlyn’s life is gone. Beory wanted Llewelyn back too much, as Llewelyn is gone to the Greenman and is not retrievable, even for Beory. Now Llewelyn is feeling abandoned and alone. Beory will not give this Llewelyn her favor, no matter what he does.

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I Like Big...Brains?...and I Cannot Lie??!

Hello there to all my Super Mazer fans! I am really digging not being balls-deep crazy any more. All the fun I had been missing out on was highly inexcusable. Come to think of it pardon me a sec…ahem…Ladies, I’ll catch you later because I need to keep all my fans informed, so show yourselves out and I’ll catch you Babes later tonight. Yep, your clothes are over there… Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, what’s up with me!

Flocktime 618.
I was still kick ‘in it in Hochoch as things are starting to look up for ole Mazer here. I met up with some of my good adventuring friends Princess Jagr, D-Track, Dasut & apprentice Yahnny, G-Zo, and Spectre at a local tavern to see what we were going to do next. POP! There was that creepy mirror over in the corner of the tavern that kept following Dasut around so that kind of joined our group too as default party member. Hey Buddy Dasut, not that I want to pick on you but your creepy mirror is right over there, again. See it? Just thought you should know. <wink> I passed him over a strong drink too. Poor Dasut was being constantly “haunted” one could say by that creepy cursed mirror. No matter what he does, it shows up somewhere as he moves about the town, in buildings, rooms, streets, wherever and is showing him unsettling weird stuff. I guess Dasut doesn’t like it too much. Ole Mazer would just give that mirror many “grand performances” with various female lady-friends all the time if it wanted to follow ME around and watch. Huh…wait…mirrors while I…do stuff…reflections I can see of…me…and my chicks…I may be on to something here…but I’ll think more on this later. (Sweet Reflections musical interlude on the Lute…)

While we were discussing the options of helping out Hochoch, a strange soothsayer lady entered the tavern and walked over to us. Marie de Graine was her name and hearing the rumors of the mirror, sought us out to offer advice on the mirror’s use and care. I usually never forget a face…especially female faces and I remember this soothsayer from somewhere. Oh yeah, she provided Mazer here his fortune back when we encountered the night-hunter sacks in Gorna, I think. She rattled off like 13 points of mirror rules to follow…which I lost interest around step 5 or so. Rules!? Who needs them. Hey, look at those attractive women over there! I tuned back in when Marie started to explain a Scrying Ritual with the mirror. Wow, that’s interesting. Will have to try it out and I hope care steps 6 through 13 didn’t deal with scrying. Well, in conversations with Marie de Graine and our group she referred Ole Mazer here as the “The Father” and Princess Jagr as “The Mother”. Hey, Fortune Honey why are you calling me “The Father”. She stated that I am the Father of Many! WHAT THE…!!? Yeah well, you did say my future was golden last time and then I hit balls-deep crazy and ate a bunch of dirt. Quack! I also asked why Princess Jagr is “The Mother”? Fortune Honey said Jagr was with Child! BOOM! Newsflash! I had to clear it for the record to all present that ole Mazer has N O T H I N G to do with Princess Jagr’s apparent situation. No, no way. If I did though…that would be one beautiful kid!

Well after Marie de Graine informed us with that mirror knowledge and some bonus jaw dropping news, she offered to do fortune readings for us with her magic cards. Princess Jagr, Dasut, and I all had a reading. Like before these were those magic cards with cool pictures. I drew the Charlatan, Rogue, Broken One, Myrmidon, and Ghost and got a semi-vague fortune, again. Some of the cards made sense but you can’t really believe any of this stuff, am I right?

Still wondering what to do next, we thought about trying out Dasut’s mirror with scrying. Some of our other adventuring friends mentioned that Judge Jia was recently seen fleeing with Mind Flayers or something and was presently unaccounted for. Well, that is one hot woman who also happened to be Hochoch’s High Judge. Let’s try looking her up to see if she is okay or in need of help. Buddy Dasut was convinced (my strong drink for him kicked in) to try and scry first for her since it’s his creepy mirror. After a few attempts he described a very odd perspective but saw Jia lying on a fancy bed most comfortably and…ahem, naked. The view out her window appeared to be on the second floor, showed a tree, and high stone wall. After ole Mazer here heard of Jia’s present situation, I was extremely motivated to check her out…I mean make sure she was okay. Yes! We decided to go to the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall as that was her place of business and near a walled section of Hochoch. Oh boy, this just keeps getting better! I fumbled to find my exclusive QHCH Gold Membership card…I mean, how did that get in my pocket!? I bet D-Track slipped in there as a joke. Sneaky rogue. Yeah…must be it. <wink> (Giddy-Up musical interlude on the Lute…)

Arriving at Quivering Hills it was decided that our stealthy types of D-Track, Dasut, Yahnny, and Spectre would find the window and sneak in to look for any information that maybe there while Princess Jagr, G-Zo, and I would go in front door style and live it up! Again Princess Jagr managed to manipulate the situation to get ole Mazer here alone, more or less, to herself. We all see it Honey and feel the vibes you have for me! Too bad you married my best friend. When entering it was the same old place with the attractive QH ladies and various visiting patrons. The Hostess with the Mostest greeted me and asked if I wanted my same room. I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head, what is she talking about guys?! Same room? I don’t know… I just told the Hostess I was here for a couple drinks and to see if I could solo perform most excellently for your guests & staff with permission from High Judge Jia of course. Princess Jagr and G-Zo stumbled around the joint most awkwardly. Geez. I had two drinks poured for me at the bar as the Hostess went upstairs to assumingly notify Jia and draw her out of the bedroom. Normally I want attractive women going INTO the bedroom with me but Mazer is on mission! It wasn’t long before I heard “Mazer!” from the top of the stairs. Whoa mamma. Did she look GOOOOD! She most elegantly made her way over to me and yes, the waiting second drink was most smoothly handed to her expertly and slick-like. Bam! After some initial conversation she invited me upstairs to her room of course for a…oh crap…Noooo…stay on main mission Mazer…stay on main mission… This was a sad day as I had to resist my normal guaran-damn-teed urges to simply just talk, and intellectually-like interact and stuff…NOT FAIR! Errrrr! After a bit of stalling and mentally having to undress her so my stealthy friends had time to search her room she then asked if we could have a private conversation in the basement regarding a potential business opportunity. Sweet! I thought this a bit strange as Jia was not really a dirty basement type of woman, but that got me even more excited! Yeah, yeah…lets discuss this in the basement. I quickly tipped back my drink and slammed the glass on the bar. BAM! Secondary personal mission back on! Ha HA! I followed her in back of QH and Jia opened the door to the basement as she was explaining that she wanted to open other QHCH’s in other cities and wanted to know if Two Lutes for Love would be interesting in partnering. Ole Mazer was all in baby and this sounded like a great idea. As we were walking down the stairs I started unbuttoning my shirt for the official seal-the-deal handshake, in the dirty basement! (Where’s that Damn Mirror When You Need It? musical interlude on the Lute…)

This was it and ole Mazer had waited a long time for some privacy with Jia. I could feel the mutual vibes in the semi-musty basement air as I gently pulled her close to me. Her arms wrapped around me as well. I heard a weird sloshing sound but I had more important things on my mind. She smelled so good and sweet…what?! I noticed Jia looking past me deeper into the basement for some reason. What could be hotter than ME!!? Hey, look at me. I’m right here Babe! Well, maybe there was a mirror after all. Fine, what are you looking at and what the hell is that sloshing sound!!? Well when I turned to look a metaphoric spike felt like it was driven into my skull & brain, followed by an intense splitting headache, and my muscles felt as if they were briefly electrified! Zzzaaappp! Sitting here in the basement was the largest Tentacled Brain-Sack in a pit of Ooze ole Mazer has ever seen! The only one I have ever seen. Yikes! Secondary personal mission back off! This thing almost took out sturdy Mazer here with ONE BIG psychic shot! OUCH!!!! Since I was barely hanging on to consciousness I ran up the stairs swaying, yelling, and grabbing my beautiful head “BIG BRAIN!!! BIG BRAIN!!! Mazer DOWN!!! Jia, let’s go! HELP!!!” (I Like Big…Brains…and I Cannot Lie!? musical interlude on the out-of-tune Lute…)

Well I was in really rough shape and rubbing blood from my nose and ears after barely making it up the stairs. Princess Jagr & G-Zo already showed up in the back to help Ole Mazer as they heard my “BIG BRAIN” screaming. I also heard the others from upstairs hastefully moving footfalls on the way to us. After we all were here together I received some stabilization healing magic from Princess Jagr…she just always has to be touching me. I explained what I had saw and…WAIT! Where is High Judge Jia!!? Is she here!!? Aww crap, she must still be downstairs. We have to rescue her guys! She’s HOT! Well I guess the others were more concerned that she was a High Judge above anything else and we went down the stairs to engage the largest Tentacled Brain-Sack in a pit of Ooze I have ever seen! I took a big whiff of my partially unbuttoned shirt that still contained the good sweet scent of Jia and that was all the motivation I needed! Ahhhhh. This Tentacled Brain-Sack was about to get personally acquainted with MazerBeams™ and MazerBalls™! (Time to Make a Difference! musical interlude on the Lute…)

We engaged the largest Tentacled Brain-Sack in a pit of Ooze. The rogues D-Track & Spectre would pop out of the shadows and fire ranged weapons and then disappear again in the shadows. Before Princess Jagr, Dasut, & apprentice Yahnny could go melee on that thing, G-Zo & I (from the stairs) both dropped a fireball in the area to soften that Brain-Sack up a bit. Take that buddy for mind-screwing ole Mazer here! Suddenly High Judge Jia jumped out from somewhere in the basement and attacked us…wait, WHAT? Come on Babe!! You were this close to your “Mazer Experience” too…$&^#!!! Jia started casting spells at us which started to draw some of the ranged rogue attacks and melee as well. I guess she was a thrall/under control of the Big Brain. BOOM! I dropped another MazerBall™ on that Tentacled Brain-Sack…Ha ha! Take my woman huh!!? POP! Dasut’s creepy mirror showed up in the basement…thanks default party member. Then Zzzaaappp! ANOTHER BIG psychic shot rattled my beautiful brain again and ole Mazer went down. When I came to Dasut and apprentice Yahnny had dragged me upstairs and rendered aid. Thanks Buds! Then ALL the QH ladies and visiting patrons stopped, turned, starred at us all unsettling like, then moved to attack. What the…more thralls!!! Half of the group was engaged upstairs and half in the basement. This is NOT GOOD. Do you know what else is not GOOD!!? G-Zo dropped another fireball on Tentacled Brain-Sack BUT this time the default party member (Creepy Mirror) was in the blast radius of the spell. Oh-No! That’s when a very big really creepy thing happened. Suddenly the mirror made a strange sound and glowed a bit and all caught within its reflection received an exact duplicate opposite gift of themselves which immediately began to attack the real version. Sorry Princess Jagr and it couldn’t happen to a better evil Tentacled Brain-Sack! (Wait!!! Two Princess Jagr’s?! Hmmmm…. musical interlude on the Lute…)

Basement level: our Rogues eventually dropped poor Hot Jia and pressed their sneaky attacks on the real Tentacled Brain-Sack. The double-downed Brain-Sack’s attacked each other. The double-downed Princess Jagr’s attacked each other. First Floor: Dasut, apprentice Yahnny, and I were finishing off the attacking QH ladies and visiting patrons. Geez. This is really messed up! We finished off our baddies and headed to the basement to help. When fast moving Dasut passed in front of the mirror on the way to the Tentacled Brain-Sacks, he disappeared! Okay, what else can go wrong? Stay away from the default party member guys…it’s really mad! Eventually one of the Princess Jagr’s shattered like glass as the real Jagr was victorious! YES! Soon after the real largest Tentacled Brain-Sack in a pit of Ooze fell over on the basement floor dead. We all then shot at, attacked, spelled the other one and it eventually shattered like glass! Boom! Okay, now where the hell did Dasut go!!? Oh, there he is right now standing in front of his creepy mirror. Hey Dasut, you okay? He kind of seemed confused and disoriented a bit but reassured us he was fine. We quickly had to get out of the QHCH as that many fireballs will do some damage to the structure AND the good memories ole Mazer has had at this establishment started to go up in flames. (A Sad Goodbye to the QHCH…it must have been Xilvyre Again! musical interlude on the Lute…)

The Hochoch Town Guard and Fire Brigade showed up to assist as we tended to our wounds outside. Dasut abruptly started walking away and I told apprentice Yahnny to keep an eye on him, let me know what’s going on, and follow him down the street. So did now-calmed down default party member creepy mirror. POP! The Hochoch Fire Brigade eventually got the fire out and the building was still standing but will need a lot of work to repair it. I wonder if my Best Friend Prince Rhys would let ole Mazer have it to open a Two Lutes for Love Tavern here in Hochoch? Will have to discuss this with him.

Apprentice Yahnny came back to me later that day very concerned about Dasut. Okay, take me to see him Yahnny. I had a conversation with Dasut to ask what’s up! At first he seemed very strange and not knowing his name, where his is, but after a while… Hey it’s all good Man! Dasut is himself again and there is nothing to be concerned about. Just was a bit shook up from the battle. That’s all I have to say about that! He also must have removed the curse of the Creepy Mirror later that day too because now it’s a partner with Princess Jagr and following her around.

Well, to inspire and give Hochoch a big community event Prince Rhys is hosting the Battle of the Bands competition and the prize is the burnt out old QHCH building. Dandelion & I are all over that and were the first to sign up but I heard the list of interested bands is growing. Stay tuned for the BEST Two Lutes for Love concert ever! What could go wrong at a fun joyful festival of many Hochoch citizens and some of the best bands around all gathered close together to enjoy themselves with music, drink, and laughter? YEAH……..Later! Mazer

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