Gyruff (Grand Duchy of Geoff)

Mazer's Journal: Girlfriends, Mystery, and Changing Hearts & Minds in Gran March (Volume 1)

I was looking forward to our next adventure because I got to hang with my old super-buddies after a really long break from them. The good Dwarf Cleric-Brewmaster Morrik and Dandelion “D” the Bard who happens to be my talented counterpart in the famous 2 Lutes for Love. Insta-Headache & Pookie were there too…ahem.

So everyone knows by now that most of us helped Arweth (formerly of Gyruff) pull away from Gran March control and now is considered independent under the rule of our Buddy Gareth. I was one of many friends appointed to Baronet status in Arweth to rule a particular area to secure & financially stabilize Arweth. So far all has been running smooth and good for me at Fort Resolve.

That’s when life usually sends harsh remainders, sometimes without warning, that things can get pretty rough and ugly if you don’t watch out. Yeah…so the Gran March is going through kind of a political thing which is hard for me to explain because it’s real boring. Their existing ruler blah blah blah really long name ending in Neholin has not been doing anything about Arweth. Just letting us alone which is the way it should be Man! Some in the Gran March don’t like that stance which to them appears weak and want to “No Confidence” vote him out and get a new ruler in there. Perhaps one that will come back to Arweth and flatten us silly and maybe Gyruff too if they feel like it with their strong military might. Apparently he is just not as hot as I am because I would be in that position indefinitely. I mean come on…just look at me, right? I ooze confidence Baby! Okay, so our goal was to travel to the Gran March’s capital city and change hearts & minds to favor the existing ruler or those candidates with a more…non-destructive attitude towards Arweth and Gyruff. We also had some research on where the Houses of Gran March stood on that topic. I was really pumped too because we had our best social, talking, convincing, motivating personnel on this one. And if any of these Marchers were hot chicks…well let’s just say D and I will also will be “improving relations” between our two Kingdoms as well! Oh yeah, Bam!!!

We began our journey at New Midwood and started the journey East. Unlike the boating life, traveling by land tends to lead to encounters, which it did. Figures. We stumbled onto a couple of Gran March or Knights of the Watch mounted knights…fully armored and ready to skewer the barbarians of Arweth. Some of these loser knight-sacks didn’t leave Arweth and don’t recognize the transfer of power that took place. What the $@*^!? Well these guys were really hurting because I guess they have slaves do everything for them: cook, clean, take care of the horse, probably wipe their @$$, etc. and without that forced labor support network…big helpless losers! But they can still fight which makes them dangerous. Since the knight-sacks couldn’t hear or see anything in those plume-ridden thick helmets, they did not notice us. We thought about just leaving them be but knew they would cause trouble for someone else. D approached to talk with them while we stayed out of sight. It turns out they were sick too with God knows what and hunting for barbarian ruffians to vanquish! D commenced verbally tearing them a new one on their appearance, condition of equipment, wellbeing of their horses, etc. I almost…almost felt sorry for them due to the verbal lashing. Well, after they had enough of a tear-down by D they decided to move on. That is when Insta-Headache stood up and announced herself as a ruffian. Let the games begin! They charged and we attacked. At least before the end of these knight-sacks they got to witness and experience the full force and glory of MazerBeams™. I did take a bit of damage for once but Mazer can take a hit or two just fine. Just don’t touch the face. Ended up with a newly acquired and fully armored war horse too. Sweet!

We arrived in Hochoch where our buddy Gareth resided. I was a bit surprised to find the town turning a bit more to the shady side. Crime, gambling, drinking, paid companionship were the main activities now with really competitive prices for almost anything else. As people of high important status we found the classiest establishment to stay at for the night which was very crowded. After we were all set-up and the night-life started, D and I played our 2 Lutes for Love set for all to enjoy, which they did. As always…nailed it! After, we did what we do equally as best…mingle and schmooze. Turns out a lot of big family names from Keoland are hanging out in Hochoch investing in businesses and real estate. Soon after commencing the mingle & schmooze activities of course D & I both land very hot and very rich girlfriends for the night. Bam…survey says…Blondes! Bing! D had some hot Rhola chick infatuated with him…Domitianus I think. A real looker. Ole Mazer here landed a very hot Neheli chick with a real kick ‘in figure! Nasicai was her name. Even Insta-Headache found suitable female companionship and Pookie was just going to rob someone I guess. She needs a new hobby. Buddy Morrik pounded the endless drinks. Didn’t take long for us all to be invited upstairs. D & I retired for the night with our hot and exotic ladies not to be seen until morning. Morrik hit the private bar lounge upstairs. Turns out Insta-Headache rolled a big bad snake-eyes because a scream soon lashed out from their room. Her female companion turned out to be a real frick’in vampire and it got in a couple nasty bloody melee hits on her too. There was quite a commotion when Morrik…even without spilling his drink (impressive) did his cleric thing and turned the undead vamp-sack and it hatefully went out through a window. Bad karmas a bitch, isn’t it Insta-Headache? It’s good that I don’t know anything about vampires through, umm, yeah…nothing at all.

Turns out there is a real kept-quiet secret here in Hochoch…they have a vampire problem. Wonderful. Add that to the enormous to-do list but we had to get moving. Down the road we went and into Gran March territory. Traveled through a bunch of smaller towns on the way to the capital named Hookhill, City of the Lance. Turns out the closer you get to Hookhill…the more politically gossipy…and I mean gossipy the towns get and more information you can pick up. Whether its accurate information or not remains to be seen. One reoccurring gossipy story we heard was about blah blah blah really long name ending in Asterran Ocedrius of House Dorth who is also a candidate is devastated by the recent lost his son and wants to bring him back from the dead soooo bad that he has begun worshiping the Whispered One, drinking, keeps to himself, etc. Yikes, that’s not good! Well we rode on, listened, and arrived safely at Hookhill.

The City of the Lance is a pretty cool place with many people, very detailed, and organized. We rode around to assess the outskirts of the city first and then inside the walls to the different Wards. We decided to find a place to stay and found The Royal Dragon Inn was great establishment that suited our wealthy tastes. Morrik suggested a tavern we could go visit, the Mead & Miel Tavern. D & I usually let him pick the tavern since there usually is an absence of dwarven women around. Well D and I decided to repeat and give this Gran March city a real show for a change! 2 Lutes for Love was ALL NEW for them and nailed it…again. They loved us! How can you not, right? We could barely get off the stage when we were both grabbed by hot attractive women! Time to double-down on our Girlfriend tour. Schwing! Okay…sometimes Mazer gets a bit jealous when D lands a better prospect than I do. This was one of those times. The daughter of the current leader of Gran March was in attendance and picked up D! Tallia Neholin had it all. Looks, wealth, looks, power, looks, tough as nails, looks, etc. and D got an instant “IN” and possible influence with the current rulers family. Wow. They soon disappeared into the night and were not see until morning. Way to go D! Ole’ Mazer here did well for himself too but it turns out I was the “prey” this time and caught the eye of Lady Ogiva Valon, wife of blah blah blah really long name ending in Valon. Winner! Another house we can possibly influence. Well I got a quick invitation back to her place because her hubby only cares about money and does not pay attention to her. Quite a pity because she is real hot and intelligent! Never had that combo before, huh? She is middle aged but…Mazer don’t discriminate like that because in addition to her being rich, hot, and smart, an experienced woman can sometimes teach a young Mazer here a thing or two. I was great as always, she was too, I learned stuff, repeated improved performance, and in the morning was invited back WHENEVER the hell I wanted to! Hey, it’s Me! She let me know that she has great influence over her husband because she is the one with the money. We only just arrived and already could possibly influence two Gran March houses. I wonder if tomorrow night was going to be this enjoyable and fun?

No…no it wasn’t. That’s when the mystery and violence started up in Hookhill. (Suspenseful musical interlude on the Lute…) Working on Volume 2. Mazer

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Light for the Dim

Light for the Dim – Reaping 617
I brought my trainees to New Midwood as I heard that Aurora and Benton were looking for companions to find a cure for the shadows in the Dim. The cantrev leaders had just finished a council meeting to discuss the government of Gyruff in the wake of the death of the Brenin. Benton also brought his trainees and we were joined by Mazer, Jagr, Dentrak, Dasut, and Gabonzo. Mazer asked Aurora to arrange a meeting with Eridan, as he had some news for the new Regent. Mazer then gave him the crown of wizards with 4 gems and told him about finding it in Sssarung’s hoard.

Jagr was sporting a huge blue diamond ring. She is all aflutter about her engagement to Prince Rhys. She said she fell instantly in love the prince when she gazed into his eyes.

Yuldra had been telling people that another source of positive energy exists upriver from Hocholve which could be used to help with the shadows in the Dim Forest. Aurora verified that the shadows are not known to cross the river and that there are flakes of radiant energy in the Javan.

We decided to head to Hocholve and then upriver until we found the source of the radiant energy. Aurora purchased a lead lined chest in preparation and we set off. We met some elves who questioned our sanity, but they allowed us to pass. We spent the first night in the Elvish town of Enderyn. I met Adwen merch Lyneth of Order of the Shining Beacons. I also stocked up on some things for our journey upriver, including a rowboat. Several others purchased a keel boat, so we could all ride.

We saw many things on the banks of the river, including friendly elves and unfriendly, dark-skinned elves. We also were attacked by what Aurora said were darklings from the plane of shadow. They blew up when killed. If we stayed in the middle of the river, we were out of range of most things. We saw some old boats on the west bank near the abandoned town of Mithrond. Shadows followed us along the bank on both sides, but did not come into the water. We also saw schools of illustran, a fey creature which looked like fish swimming through the air. The shadows and illustran fought. It took about 8 bites from illustran for a shadow to die, but only one hit from a shadow for an illustran to die. The illustran also turned into shadows when they died, as Aurora said that most things do.

We found a spot with spider webs across the river. When Gabonzo and Mazer started burning the webs, several large spiders and some swarms of small spiders approached. Jagr was able to calm them down and we were able to pass without incident. After many days, we began to feel slightly drunk and the animals and plants became deformed.

Just as the river split, we saw three ruins of huts on the west bank. The skeletons we found looked like they had died many years ago from bludgeoning or puncturing wounds. Two of the huts had six gallon sized jars each. Benton threw a rock at one and they all exploded in flames. That would explain the wounds we saw on the skeletons. Mazer had a portable hole, so he and Gabonzo put the jars in the hole using mage hand. In the third hut we found a chest with three spellbooks. Mazer also put these into the hole.

The radiant flakes were on the east fork of the river, so we took that direction. Once we tried to leave the boat and continue on the path, but attacks by assassin vines and palms dropping stink bombs forces us back to the boat. We had to leave the boat at the bottom of the waterfall. At the top we came to a clearing with a pool of mud, a pool of water, a pool of fire and a pool of air. Benton decided to try walking through. When he got close to the pool of water, a water weird apparated and tried to attack him. He retreated and it gradually receded. We then walked a path between the pools and were fine.

The drunk feeling disappeared, along with most of the animals. Aurora explained how to survive exposure to the radiant energy, so we took precautions.

Soon we reached a large mountain lake. Mazer determined that the radiant energy was coming from the middle of the lake. Dasut, Aurora, Mazer and I rowed toward the middle of the lake, but we could not get to the center. Being underwater seemed to help, but not enough. Most of the lake seems to be about 180 feet deep, but the object seems to be only 30 feet down on a raised part in the center.

We encountered Yuldra and Pookie in the Magic Glade on our way back to the keel boat and stopped to chat. Yuldra wanted the radiant energy source for the cult of Lydia, so we left her to her quest.

We decided to experiment with the flakes of radiant energy. They were difficult to collect and lost their power quickly when removed from the water. But the shadows did not like them.

Ben had an idea on how to retrieve the radiant energy source and it worked. We put the source in the lead chest and then took the Illustrious back downriver.

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Tempest of Seasons

Tempest of Seasons – Goodmonth 617
I returned to Trehalwyn to meet up with Aoth again. We both agree that Caswallon needs to be stopped, although we are not sure how. Grigor has been dipped in the cauldron by Caswallon and is now his friend, so can not be trusted.

Most of the town of Trehalwyn was sitting near the cauldron. Andras and his entourage was there as well. Caswallon was dipping most of the people in the cauldron as a ritual baptism. Aurora convinced Andras Dryadson to not use physician’s cauldron, thankfully. He would have lost his fey half, which seems a shame.

I heard that the druids were congregating in Avon Fyn and that Caswallon had challenged the entire circle. I think we need to find another way to stop Caswallon, so I went with Uaithne, Aurora, Aoth, Grigor, Tornado, Osaris, Thia and Kosef to find Cavern of Echos. Ivan had told me that Caswallon had gotten the tenets of Llewellyn there and how to find it. Aoth and Aurora agreed that we should go.

After a 5 day hike across country, we left Gyruff’s borders and traveled to Loring Wood in the next valley in search of the Cavern of Echoes. The rangers kept us on course and kept us feed. Grigor was killing many animals and saving teeth or other parts, including a lynx and a deer. No one wanted the lynx for food, so his wolf ate it.

We found a cairn with a small basin-like depression at the top, filled with water. The cairn had some weathered druidic runes on it. The three runes that Aoth could read said danger, memory and immortality, so we decided not to drink the water. Someone also found a double-wide right glove with the monogram L and a lyre in the leaves, which I determined were magical. Tornado tried to play the lyre, but broke the string instead. It later mended on its own after I played it. Tornado did take the glove. When I play a Flan tune on the lyre, Aoth noticed flitting movements in the trees around us. Osaris put out treats, including brandy, fresh fish and cat toys. Grigor’s wolf snapped up the fish, even though she had just hunted and eaten. Soon a psuedodragon appeared. The rest of us backed off while Osaris called it by name. Soon Osaris had a new friend who would follow, although the pseudodragon was shy with the rest of us.

The next morning we continued on and soon found the small town of Klukwan. The townsfolk were Flan with bright, gaudy clothes, mostly plaids. Everyone was welcome, although Tornado received some strange glances.
The village elder, Garth Strongarm, was quite friendly and willing to talk. The cairn we found the previous day is called the forbidden pool because drinking from it makes you immortal, but you go mad and lose your memory. Garth knew Caswallon during the war, as they survived the giants together, but he won’t talk about him much. He did tell us that Caswallon was a reasonable man and a druid of Obad Hai and learned the tenets of Llewellyn from the Voice of the Dead. Mikana Farsighted is the village witch, who we could visit at our own risk. Eveyd the Mad Druid is consulted for his wisdom and healing skills and can be found by following his voice in the marsh. I made offerings in the Old Faith Temple. I also made arrangements to leave Uaithne here as we continued. Garth gave us directions to the Cavern of Echoes, but warned us away from Llewellyn’s tomb in Dolmen Moor, saying the dead do not rest well.

While we were talking to Garth, 11 men in red and black livery with a panther rode up and started taking what they wanted. They tried to exact a toll from us also, but Aoth and Aurora persuaded them that it was in their best interest to leave us alone. Thia had given them a bottle of perfume, but that is all they got.

We left Klukwan and continued to Goat Hallow and the Cavern of Echoes. The path between the river and the mountain was narrow, but we pressed on. We soon heard a chant and saw an old half-elf. He spoke a spell and the trees attacked and picked up Osaris and Grigor. Aoth spoke to Eveyd in druidic and he agreed to let us go, as long as we were not seeking the wheel of time. Eveyd was upset the Loring was still searching for the wheel. Aoth assured him we were not and we continued on our way.

The climb grew quite sheer. We were glad of the climbing gear lent to us by Garth Strongarm. Then Aoth turned to a giant spider and helped us up into the cavern. Deeper inside the cavern was a shimmering barrier, which was a barrier to some creatures. All of us were allowed through except Tornado. Aoth found a tall harp of darkwood with intricate ivory inlays yellowed by the passage of centuries.

When we talked with the harp, it told us it was the Voice of the Dead and knew what those who have died knew. There are more than three tenets of Llewellyn. Purity of Body, Purity of Tradition and Purity of Vision; these were the guiding stars of a great leader of men and ruler beloved of the Oerth-Mother at the height of his glory. Patience of Hand, Patience of Heart and Patience of Thought; these were the wisdom of a great man in his elder years, as he watched all that he had built wither and die under the folly of lesser men. Those who followed, and who became Voices in the darkness in their turn, did not heed his words, and Beory turned Her face away from Her children. The voice also told us of the kings of Pellham and of Vecna. Aoth asked to bring the Voice to Gyruff and it agreed as this was a time of great need.

The Voice also told us of a prophecy, of the wheel of time and Bazel and the Seven Daughters (stars) and a dead king rising and the sundered earth spewing forth its dregs. Grigor said Vecna three times, causing a torrential rain. We had to find another way across the river. While searching for another path, we stumbled upon and woke the titan wizard Dagda. He offered us the tears of Beory if we answered three riddles. I answered the first riddle incorrectly and was sucked into the rock called Dagda. Luckily for me, Aurora had the correct answer to that riddle and the other two as well. As soon as she gave the correct answer, Dagda spit me back out. Dagda then wept the tears of Beory and we each collected a vial. The dose can bring back one willing soul, no matter how long dead. Maybe I can get Princess Caitlynn back.

We next crossed a field of fey flowers and an awakened willow, both of which granted passage for a song. I really like this lyre. My playing so far has been good with it. We saw a group of 9 humonoids on mountain ponies a ways off. When we got to their tracks, Grigor determined that it was a group of humans and half orcs. They weren’t wearing the livery of Lord Krell. We might need to speak with him before we leave this area to determine if he is a tyrant or a protector of the people.

We reached a stone circle in the woods. Some of the circles had lintels across them and it looked like all had at one time. A stone obelisk stood in the center of the circle, topped by a crystal. Aoth could read the crystals and the moonbeams from the two moons pointed at Bazel and the seven daughters. The beams were six widths of the glove, which was the glove of Loring the Lost, one of the kings of Pellham. He had drunk from the forbidden pool and was roaming the land, looking for the wheel of time. So now is one of the possible times of the prophesy, but the constellations are in this position every 40 years. I am not sure what is the next step of our quest to stop Caswallon. We need to persevere.

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Light of the Dim

Our group met in Hocholve. Benton, Dasut, Garbonzo (G-Bean), Aurora, Jagr, Dentrak, Gelwen, and most importantly…ahem, myself all met to assist the Dim Forest and all friendlies contained within by getting rid of some pesky undead shadow-sacks that thought it was okay to contaminate the entire forest like roaches. That’s what we do. We help people.

The first order of business was for me to get rid of this PRICELESS Crown of Wizards that I have been hanging onto since our trip to the Keep of Storm Mountain. Let me tell ya, want to know what makes one start looking over their shoulder? Try being the keeper of a super-magic priceless crown with the souls of four of Gyruff’s Super Mages! I have to admit that my attention started to deviate from gawking at beautiful women that wanted a piece of ole Mazer here for who the heck was going to club, stab, rip, slash, etc. me and take this thing. I also started holding it up in front of my head to see what I would look like in a mirror. By the way…I looked damn impressive without even messing up my hair! So eventually Mazer comes around and will normally do the right thing. See, Gyruff’s new Regent, Arglwyth Eridan was here in town so he agreed to meet with us and I presented the Wizard Crown to him. If anyone can figure how to get those four Super Mages out of there its him. Regent Eridan accepted the Crown…target now off of me…and more importantly he got to meet Baronet Mazer Raxxam. I could tell Regent Eridan was most impressed.

So onto the official business of helping people. Normally our adventures are filled with danger, suspense, puzzles, and the such to a very excessive degree. Well this one had some of that but all within normal levels which was a relief for a change. From Hocholve we started the hike up to Enderyn, an Elven city within the Dim. There were rumors of a possible energy source up here somewhere similar to what is going on around Tenwalls and Ravonnar. The undead don’t like that magical tickle-finger effect from that energy and stay clear, way clear. That sounded like a good thing to investigate. There was a rather wide trail within the forest, absent of trees on each side for a really good distance as to make travel safe from those shadow-sack roaches. It really worked well and a Elven patrol from Enderyn met up with us and questioned our business here in the Dim. After we told them what we were planning to do, they decided to play nice and escort us safely up the trail to Enderyn. Got there without incident…sweet!

Elves are good people but pretty much behave themselves so no one got into trouble here. We had a good time that night and I played some music for all. There were also these glowing Fey flying fish called Illusern that came out at night to help light things up around the city to keep the shadow-sacks at bay. Those were really cool to watch. They inspired me and I started roughing out a new song about them. We were warned that the path to Derelion was very dangerous and that we should not make the hike. Also, there have been magic emitting specks of “stuff” flowing down the Javan river for a while now thus leading us to believe there was something up river. Well, the next moring we bought some supplies including a big lead-lined chest, holy water, and some marbles with continual light cast on them. We also decided to forgo the dangerous path to Derelion and head up the Javan River. For that we need a boat. We needed to also upgrade the boat to a ship so we could fit all of our group and cargo too…so ended up with a Elven keel ship. The five of us that found the headless dead green scale-sack of a loser’s dragon hoard had some extra coin so we split an expensive price for that keel ship by 1/5 each. Everyone else mooched off of us. At least Gelwen bought a rowboat for emergency purposes that we pulled along. When one buys a big ship it should be named properly so we dedicated it to those famous friendly flying Fey fish and called her the Illustrious. Most appropriate. We never broke anything to christen her due to time constraints so we will have to have a grand ship party later.

Ok, I am starting to like this boating life. It really limits the amount of loser freaks that can wait behind a tree, rock, and hill to try and rob and/or kill you. This was very smooth sailing, pardon the pun. We had a few navigational errors and ran aground once but this was a new skillset to us all and we did our best. Too bad Moonbeam was not on this voyage but he would have been disappointed because no need for moonbeams to carve a new-one for peg-leg pirate sacks on this trip. We posted night watch shifts with our keen-eyed members. We did notice many sets of glowing eyes in the forest following our boat up river. One thing that happened during the night we observed a school of glowing flying Fey Illusern attacked those shadow-sack roaches that were mirroring us. They ripped the shadows to shreds like piranha. Once in a while an Illusern fell to shadow attacks. Then we saw the dead Illusern eventually arise as flying shadow-sack Illusern. The good glowing Fey Illusern had the strength in numbers though. I wonder if some of the Illusern would agree to fly around the Two Lutes for Love Tavern while D and I play our set? I can only imagine the possibilities with those Fey friends, but I heard the Fey can be tricky and cause problems too, not that know about any recent Fey problems…or anything…How are you? We did set out little bits of food and drink on the boat for any other Fey that remained hidden to us.

Up around Derelion there was a bunch of webs from giant spiders woven across the river. Me and G-Bean acted like firebolt shooting machines and cleared a path for us to travel by. Some of those bid-daddy spiders came out but Jagr talked them down somehow with her ranger-beast talk voodoo. Or perhaps the spiders were just memorized by her oversized very expensive blue-diamond of an engagement ring she waves around for all to see! But that’s another story for a later date. Well, needless to say we traveled a really, really long time and safely too. Actually went up into the Valley of the Mage! Investigated a blown-up burnt village and found some containers filled with strange material that…blows-up of course. I guess it’s a bit hazardous. Following the magic emitting specks of “stuff” in the water directed us through a couple turn choices…also the vegetation started to be very thick and we had that good feeling again like you do getting near Tenwalls. Sweet! There WAS another source up here too! Eventually we had to stop the Illustrious by a waterfall. We observed at night where an unnatural glowing was emanating from, got our bearings, and decided to head out by foot in the morning. So it was then Aurora let Mazer and the others who did not know in on a well-kept secret on how to survive the positive energy once we started getting closer to it. Let’s just say I had a hard time believing it at first but Aurora was a straight shooter most of the time so I complied with the plan. Mazer does like to have fun and party, act a bit silly…but I do keep my word and my mouth will remain closed on this topic.

On the hike to the source some mean-greenie vines attacked us and there were these trees that would drop fruit when vibrations were near that blew-up into some nauseous sickening gas. Nasty! After taking out the vines, we swung around those trees at the water’s edge. Some weird rock men-things formed in the distance and were grumbling, growling, like talking I guess but none of us had the means to understand what they were saying. Sorry hard-rock men, later. We then passed through an area of elemental pools which was really weird. Creatures would slowly form in the pool if you got to close and would eventually attack. So we waited for our water test pool subject to un-form then we just hatefully walked single file through the area with no incident. Then the moment had arrived! We came to a big lake that was glowing, and lakes don’t normally do that. The source of the energy was of course right in the middle of the darn lake. We thought it would be a good idea to use the rowboat & lead chest to get out to the center of the lake and assess the situation. Sounding great so far! Three of us started rowing out. The energy effects started to get greater and greater and soon realized that we couldn’t get any closer unless we put ourselves at great risk! We could see that the source was approximately 10-12’ under water on top of underwater mound. We then realized we were missing a key item which was some kind of water breathing spell. The energy effects would be much less under water too. Arragh! So close to completing our goal BUT we did navigate and locate a possible cure for the Dim Forest’s shadow-sack roach problem as well as a means to grow back a bunch of trees very quickly. Some of us will have to return and re-equip properly to complete this quest and obtain the positive energy source to help the Dim. After the frustration of being so close to success went away, we all realized that we did complete a giant leap forward to a problem that has been plaguing the Dim Forest for 30+ years. Almost there Elf friends! Another month or two and hopefully your troubles are over and Two Lutes for Love will book a tour coming soon to a tavern near you! Later – Mazer

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Learning to Cook the Cure
A.K.A. Traditional Frying Pan, Progressive Fire

A.K.A. Traditional Frying Pan, Progressive Fire
A.K.A. It’s the Ways of the World and you know it…

There was still this little problem of the Blackscour taint. A few of us had talked to Lord Eridan and he promised the use of a fully stocked laboratory to perform research and we had a copy of Rhodri’s notes from the last time the Blackscour was cured. Those notes were a little confusing but we figured with a little experimentation we could figure something out.

So off we were to try to cook the cure.

We had all of the ingredients needed from various locations but some were not as fresh as others. Still, we had some time and equipment so we went to work.

There were several variables and we weren’t sure of the amount of some of the ingredients, so we decided that we’d do several various mixtures concurrently to see what variables were most important. Morrick did most of the cooking since he seemed to have the best skill in Medicine but we all pitched in.

Morrick was very precise on the first batch, managing to determine what some of the key points were. We even had a semi-viable (but inconsistent) cure on the first batch.

One thing we determined was that the mushrooms weren’t fresh and that had a big impact on potency. The mushrooms, found underground, were only good for a couple days, so we’d have to head toward the mountains and the dwarven holds.

As we were preparing to leave we came across a sight in the market. A mage was yelling crazy things and randomly casting spells! At first it seemed harmless until he cast a couple powerful evocations. I tried charming him and reading his mind, but neither yielded any results.

Finally we decided to let the barbarian just tackle the mage, and that worked well. He was quickly restrained and moved to a secure location. Seems that he had contracted the madness that was said to be infecting mages in Keoland. But the Keolish Wizard school was miles away, so why was he here?

Talking to guards and townsfolk indicated he was the apprentice of a powerful mage who came from Keoland supposedly to study the Blackscour taint. Seeing as both Blackscour and this madness seemed to be Fey-based diseases we expected that he was probably really trying to find out about the madness disease.

We were told that the Wizard went south to do more research at the source. So south we went and found the town somewhat scorched. Apparently the Wizard had gone crazy and started casting spells everywhere and was eventually put down. The room he had rented had a lot of damage but we found some notes. Not much there and it seemed to get more confused as it went, becoming completely incomprehensible at the end.

Too bad, it would have been nice to have some additional research to help us out.

So it was off to the Dwarves and possibly the Isle of Rhun to get more information and gather some mushrooms.

Westward ho!

Travel was fairly easy here and we made quick time toward the town of Groesffordd. But before arriving we came across Llannerch; a monastery now dedicated to Rao, a good of peace and tranquility. Though not one of the classic Old Faith gods, it was within the Gyri pantheon.

What we found was disturbing.

All of the monks that we found were dead. Slaughtered by weapons. The footprints and other evidence in the area revealed 20-25 horses and armored men. The number nearly exactly matched the guard of Caswallon and Lord Dryadson, who had just passed through the area. Seeing as they had just declared their independence from Gyruff and their rather extremist views, we definitely felt we knew who the murderers were. But this was in Rhwyng yr Coed, not Dryadson’s cantrev of Gwyrth Bryn.

In Groesffordd they knew nothing about the killings. They had seen Dryadson and Caswallon with their guards pass through, but they did not stop. We warned the town that Gwyrth Bryn had separated from Gyruff and was taking a very harsh stance. And being the settlement closest to that border they may face a very unfriendly neighbor.

We cautiously headed in the Gwyrth Bryn and soon came upon Trehalwyn. The town was walled with a wooden palisade and not very inviting.

They challenged us at the gate, asking what deeds we had performed that warranted entry into their town.

Naturally I gave them some half-truth about being on a pilgrimage to the Isle of Rhun to get in closer touch with the Old Faith. They bought it and eventually we all got in.

We had heard that there was a new priest of Pelor in town so thought that we might visit. There was also a wasting disease afflicting the town (the priest of Pelor had come to help with that). The town blamed this on all of the non-Flan that had come through the area on their way to the Isle of Rhun during various noble confirmations.

The disease seemed to be affecting mostly those that were of non-Flan origin or at least part-non-Flan.

Before we could look around or try to talk to anyone a large woman wearing furs came and asked us to follow her. She was apparently Caswallon’s daughter. She and some guards escorted us to the Breyr’s mansion and seated us at a table with Caswallon.

It seemed there was no choice in the matter.

Caswallon greeted us and we ate with him as he explained what he needed from us. He had heard that some magical Cauldron that had not been seen for 1000 years was now hidden in the Ways of the World. And we were going to go get it for him.

Hmmm, ok…last I’d heard the Ways of the World were the interdimensional travel paths that had been corrupted and were now inhabited by all sorts of nasty things. Not really in my comfort zone really.

But off we went to find some magic Cauldron for the crazy Druid.

As we stepped out of the magical portal into the Ways of the World things were much different than I’d heard. But then again, apparently the Ways can be different every time they are accessed. And with the corruption of the ways and various creatures within, they have changed even more.

We were on what appeared to be the top of a round tower that was buried to our level in snow and ice. The entire landscape seemed to be similarly covered and visibility was limited by a cold fog.

We hiked down the path with our Ranger keeping watch of where we were going. After a short while we came upon a widening. To one side was a gigantic skeleton, pinned to the mountainous wall with an equally gigantic spear. In the center of the area was a large ice block that showed a frozen battle scene. We also noted some human-sized skeletons near the block of ice, each seemingly killed by a bunch of small arrows.

Expecting trouble we spread out and approached cautiously.

Suddenly a large number of blue-skinned goblins jumped up out of the snow with shortbows in hand and the battle began.

We were quickly cutting down there number but there were a lot of them, and the small arrows were starting to take their toll. A couple of us had to back down the path to get cover in order to be less inviting targets.

We were able to overwhelm them eventually and even managed to capture their leader.

Upon interrogation we found that he was the “king” of the cold-type goblins that had moved into the Ways and were living here. They had a “magical” cookpot that they used that sounded suspiciously like the cauldron we were looking for. Since the “king” was sufficiently cowed, we decided that rather than fighting all of the rest of the goblins we’d use him as a hostage.

However, I don’t trust goblins as far as I can throw them (which isn’t very far even though they’re small) and I expected that as soon as we go to their base he would run away and tell his people to attack. So I came up with a clever bluff. I took my ink and pen and wrote a fancy-looking glyph on his neck. I told him that one word from me would make it explode, killing him.

He bought into it and was now terrified. He definitely wasn’t going to run off and tell his people to attack.

We followed him to their cavern lair and he commanded his people to bring out the cauldron. We quickly packaged it up in our portable hole and headed to the exit. Fortunately we were quick enough that the ways of the world had not changed and we could easily find our way back.

We were transported back, and presented the cauldron to Caswellon. He proceeded to do some mumbo-jumbo for a while (I think he was attuning to the magical cauldron) and then called forth for the people with the wasting disease.

The first was a young girl, barely breathing and too weak to approach on her own. She was a rare sight in this town; blond hair and blue eyes tagged her as more likely a Seloise.

Caswellon took her, and submerged in to the cauldron (that had heated water in it now). After an uncomfortably long time he re-emerged. The young girl seemed completely cured and in perfect health. She was also now brown-haired and clearly of Flan descent.

Not only did the cauldron cure any disease – including the recent spate of difficult to cure ailments – but it forced the cured to change race to Flan. This fed into Caswellon’s racist views and would give him further ability to sway people to his way.

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Spooky Shadows and Stabby Things!
A.K.A. Things Dandelion Hates

Spooky Shadows and Stabby Things!
A.K.A. Things Dandelion Hates
A.K.A. Making Gruka Aaaaaaalll Better!

Sometimes I get myself into places and situations that are just not right for me. I’m a happy Bard who likes towns and taverns full of lusty, lonely ladies. Throw in the occasional dash of daring deeds, some fine wine and food, and I’m good.

I don’t ask for that much.

But then I find myself hiking across the newly liberated Arweth. The newly appointed leader of the giants, Gruka Duk, had been exposed to some poisonous plant in the Dim forest and we had been tasked with finding out more information, and possibly a cure. We’d heard that someone in Midwood or Hochlove might have more information for us. So we were hoping to talk to Argwyth Eridan who had been living and ruling at the edge of the Dim forest for many years.

It was Morick, Xilvyre, Yuldra, and I wandering the rugged land.

Unfortunately the Dim Forest was still home to many undead and other nasty things, especially shadows. Lots and lots of shadows.

Not really where I wanted to be, but Gruka needed help, so off we went.

As we traveled we noted a rather odd sight; two knights riding fully armored warhorses. And they appeared to be wearing the colors and patterns of the Gran March.

We gave a greeting and they indicated that we were not welcome here, that it was still Gran March territory.

Perhaps they had not heard that there was a transfer of power?

So we noted that Governor Neumann had transferred power to the rightful heir, and Gran March soldiers had been recalled.

They indicated that this was coerced and not recognized by them.

Uh oh.

In short order they charged. Two mounted Gran March knights were not to be taken lightly! They ran down Morick in a single charge and he lay on the ground bleeding (though his dwarven constitution quickly staunched the bleeding and he stabilized).

I floated into the air with a spell. Thinking that their charge was over and they were less dangerous I lowered myself down damaging one of them with a spell.

Last thing I remembered was getting stabbed by a lance and kicked in the head by the warhorse!

When I awoke Xilvre was wrapping me with a bandage and Yuldra was running off to catch the horses.

They had defeated the knights and managed to stop my bleeding.

“Ouch, next time I stay up in the air.”

After a brief rest, Yuldra returned with the horses. They were fine, noble beasts, though loyal to their riders. But Yuldra could speak to them and learned that there were more Gran March soldiers holed up in a cave somewhere nearby. This was disturbing news but did explain why the people were staying close to their town walls or the keeps.

We continued along the way and noted further knights; a trio who seemed to be moving parallel to us. Knowing how tough they could be we avoided them and moved away.

Soon we came upon the river and could see Hoclove on the other side. There was no bridge here and it was getting close to dusk. Some fishermen in a well-lit boat noticed us and seemed surprised that we were out this late near the forest. They ferried us across and got us into Hoclove before night fell, explaining that nasty things came out of the forest at night.

The town had constant bright lights surrounding it to keep the shadows and other things from the Dim Forest at bay.

We rested and spoke with the Arglwyth of Dwyr (the Cantrev we were in), Eridan Shadowblade. I hadn’t met him before but had heard that he could be difficult. We found him welcoming and helpful, providing whatever resources we needed including access to a laboratory and library.

We did some research on this plant that may have been the cause of Gruka’s (and other giants) problems. Straffern was a small flowering plant that emitted spores that would mix with giant’s sweat and quickly invade the body, causing illness, unconsciousness, and eventually death. It could not be transplanted or cultivated by any known means, and it died when exposed to sunlight. There was also rumor that it was of Fey origin.

Much of the research on the Straffern had been done by an Elvish scholar while captured by the giant forces. Non-giant types held her in the forest and made her work on a cure. Apparently her original laboratory was nearby and may still hold some notes and materials.

Great, that meant a foray into a dark forest filled with shadows and other nasty things.

Eridan assigned us a guide; a cleric who had made trips into the forest before and was basically in charge of the defenses of the town (defenses against the shadows).

We estimated about an hour to get to the location so we started in the late morning, even though none of the light actually shone through into the forest floor. Still, we figured daytime would be our best bet.

For a while things seemed to go ok. Sure, it was spooky and dark, but we were making good time. Suddenly the shadows nearby seemed to come to life and we were attacked by the denizens of the Dim.

They struck quickly and hit hard, raking us with their shadowy claws and sapping strength with every hit. We struggled with them but fortunately Morick invoked the power of his god and sent them scattering back into the forest. We hustled on our way, trying to get some distance before they recovered.

Though we chased them off they soon returned to attempt to finish us off. Fortunately our guide was also a cleric (and fairly powerful) so when he invoked his god he slayed most of the shadows, and the remainder we managed to make short work of.

When we were just about at our destination we were set upon by a strange group of dark Fey. Not only did they have vicious weapon attacks, they also died in a burst of fire or flash of light! The one interesting items we found on them was a potion that seemed to glow brightly; basically a potion that simulated the daylight spell. We postulated that this was likely made from the extract of another Fey creature that we’d heard inhabited the Dim. They appeared as glowing fish-like creatures that swam through the air. Apparently these dark Fey captured these light Fey and extracted their essence to make these potions.

We finally made it to the ruined laboratory and searched through the remains. There were some further notes on the Straffern as well as several globes that held examples of the small plants in stasis. Though the notes did not directly point to a cure, it did imply that the Straffern spores (as well as the plant) could be destroyed by light. Putting the two together we realized that if this potion would create “light” throughout the drinker, that this would likely cure anyone infected by the Straffern spores.

With this knowledge in hand we made our way back toward Hoclove and out of the forest. Fortunately our return trip was less eventful and we made it back to town without incident.

Soon a sending was made and the Cloud Giant castle appeared overhead. We were brought up to the castle and directly to Gruka. We all hoped we were right about our findings as he drank the potion. The effect was almost immediate as he was purged of the Straffern spores very quickly.

With that taken care of, and the thanks of Gruka in our pocket, we took a look at what else was at the cloud castle.

We noted a very life-like statue of former Magus Burkan – and were pretty sure someone wouldn’t make a statue of him looking afraid. So this was likely Burkan turned to stone.

Former Magus Gleep Wurp was also there with his wife. Gleep Wurp, the former Magus of Conjuration, was blind and his wife a Medusa. That pretty much sealed the fact that Burkan had come to visit and was turned to stone.

We tried to question Gleep Wurp about his past with Gyruff and what had happened with Burkan but he refused to answer those questions.

When he heard that most of the Gyri magi were gone he immediately packed up and headed to Gorna. Somehow I think that maybe he doesn’t have the best interest of Gyruff in mind.

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Gretta's Side of the Story
Bad Boys Indeed!

It has been a hard year so far. Mom and Dad were slain in their bed by assassins, but fortunately a group of heroes was staying at the house and kept the villains from getting away. Princess Caitlyn is dead, as is her father the Brenin and most of the Brenin’s Council. Many other nobles are dead or dying easily enough. Now Gretta and many other nobles are sick with this Blackscour Taint, made worse by the very healing magic used to try to cure it.

The Brenin had recognized Gretta’s claim to Ffrwythlon Dol right before he died, but she can’t get confirmed by the Druids until they name an Archdruid for the proclamation. Until that confirmation is done, Gretta has limited control over the cantrev, the militia, government and taxes. All that can be put off is being put off, but decisions need to be made and Gretta, as candidate for leadership, has the best claim to authority. Speaking of which, with the Brenin and his court gone, the nobility and candidates for nobility are called to Hocholve for a secret meeting. This is likely to be a stuffy affair, where Gretta will be sidelined to watch and not speak.

Once in Hocholve, some of the other nobility and the Minister of Health were secretly meeting amongst themselves, leaving a bored Gretta to wander the village. Music flowed out of the single tavern and Gretta found herself naturally drawn to it. A fairly famous bard, Dandelion, one of the Two Lutes for Love was there. He may not be as attractive as Mazer Raxxam, his partner, but he seems to have more spirit. A few of the tunes were funny and a bit suggestive. Gretta couldn’t help but blush at some of his more crude references, but she wasn’t the only woman who did. The finale was good and Dandelion bought a round for the entire house at the end. (Well, ordered it. Gretta noticed that it was a wealthy woman from the audience who actually paid the bill.)

The music ended, there was little to do but drink and talk. Dandelion, it seems, enjoys the former but is full of the latter. Llwis, one of Gretta’s guards, was getting a little jealous and possessive, so she had to stomp on his foot and send him out to check on the horses. It was a mistake to roll in the hay with Llwis last summer, but Gretta was incredibly bored and he was fun, in his own way. Now, things have grown uncomfortable between them as Llwis is now under Gretta, not the other way around that summer. “Never get involved with someone you may be leading.” Gretta now wishes she had followed that advice.

Not that the conversation wasn’t stimulating, but Gretta was looking for a little action. Arglwyth Emyr was so drunk that he was colliding with walls, but the bard Dandelion looked suitably sober. As soon as he had put his master to bed, Gretta grabbed Dandelion. The night was late and the bed was cold, so she asked the rumored womanizer to join her for the evening. At first feigning surprise and innocence like Y’hann the visiting bard from last winter, the slack-jawed drooling look on his face and obvious growing interest told her that the nightgown was effective. Soon he was stumbling over himself both physically and verbally. It was cute, but she felt it better to shut him up and give him something else to do.
Dandelion opened with a backrub like Phillipe, the minstrel from Keoland. That must be a standard opening move for them down there. It was pleasant and did help limber up her muscles, so perhaps that was time well spent. – Although not as long on endurance as Flan men, or as mighty as Oeridians, this Suloise seemed to have a quicker wit than most and he was warm.

The morning was filled with a little awkwardness, where she could sense his nervousness. For a bard, you would think that he would have a lot more experience getting through the morning, but she decided not to let on and feigned sleep a while longer and hugged him closer. He chose a tickling approach up her arm to get her attention, “Good morning sunshine. I think it is time for us to get up and get ready for the important meeting today.”
Gretta was reluctant to face the chilled morning air and was feeling a little playful, “Can’t we just lie here like this all day?”

“Well, besides the somewhat awkward position that would put us in, I’m sure we’d be missed.” He said as he slid off of the bed and started gathering his things. He was not big and muscular like many Gyri men but he was undeniably handsome.

Gretta looked him over. He had some promise, she thought to herself as she presented him a hair ribbon with a hint of her scent upon it. “We must do this again some time! Will you come visit and play for me in Ffrwythlon Dol?”

“My Lady, I will make it one of my favorite stops.”

In hindsight, she should have insisted he finish dressing before going into the hall, but who cares about pesky gossip anyway?

That day, the meeting was moved to New Midwood and it was several hours of travel compounded with staying overnight in another new town. Llwis was again trying to get close, something that Gretta knew she would have to beat down, but that would have to wait until after this trip or she knew he wouldn’t concentrate on his work. Gretta always seemed to get sore muscles from horseback riding. Walking was more natural to her, but seemed unseemly in noble company.
-
Unable to find a more suitable companion, Gretta looked up Dandelion, who was playing in a tavern near the river. It was another enjoyable set, but she was going to have enough chatter the next day in the noble council. Although she only caught a taste of the politics in Hocholve, there are clearly unresolved issues between Llwyres Ffiona and Llwyres Rhian. By certain quirks of fate and love, Llwyres Ffiona was a hard-core traditionalist married to a Gyri Knight of the Watch; whereas Llwyres Rhian was a moderate married to Yrlan, a hard-core traditionalist ranger. Gretta heard that the chaotic and impulsive Brenin Rhys ap Colwyn had, himself, married a strict and ordered paladin princess of Keoland. Love in Gyruff apparently proves that opposites attract.

So, as Dandelion finished up his set and prepared to woo the women of the crowd, Gretta seized an opportunity. She sent Llwis once again to tend the horses and bid her other guardsmen to buy a round of drinks while she and Dandelion slipped off to her room. With the initial awkwardness behind them, he could focus more on his performance and showed some improvement, which proved he could be trained, unlike one-move Gustav.

By morning, she had worked the soreness of her muscles from the ride and was ready to start the day. Taking a tip from a local, she took a quick dip in the cool mist-covered river to refresh. The early morning insects were out, providing a feast for the fish, and the fog provided ample cover, should anyone wander by. Gretta was sure she saw tiny sparkles in the water, like tiny flecks of gold that would disappear in an instant. The brisk water was bracing, but she felt great after drying off and getting dressed.

This was going to be a long and challenging meeting. – - And it was.
--
It has been nearly six weeks since the noble council and things are still not settled. Gretta realizes that she must have gotten sick in New Midwood. She knew she had contracted Blackscour Taint from the same villain who poisoned her parents, so there can be no magical healing. She must overcome this disease on her own. Though not very debilitating, she was violently ill each dawn and could not stand even the smell of cooked meat or fat within the longhouse in The Lea. Her people, being understanding, instead move all the cooking and meals to the Tavern-on-the-Green.

Proximity to the Oytwood has certain benefits and Gretta’s people bartered for fresh fruits and vegetables for her to sup upon. Breads were good too, especially a particular confection produced by the baker’s son, Yosef, a strapping and eager young lad that Gretta remembered well. This illness with the Blackscour Taint proved quite inconvenient and lingering for many weeks, though there was an upside, as her courses did not run. Still, the illnesses must be dealt with and soon, because she wanted to be as well as possible before her Druidic trials.

Dandelion
Gretta Lea

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Dandelion – Interludes
“Hey there bard boy.” Or “They dig the bad boys!”

Dandelion – Interludes:

“Hey there bard boy.” Or “They dig the bad boys!”

Interlude:

There had been way too much time on the road recently. The trip from Gorna to Hocholve had been thankfully uneventful and Dandelion just wanted to relax and have a few drinks.

The tavern in Hoclove was nothing special but after a few drinks Dandelion decided to liven things up with a few songs. The crowd included a few of the nobles coming into town for the big meeting. Of course Emyr was there; he’s not one to miss a chance to party. And Benton, his spiritual advisor, was there as well. Ullich the half-orc sat in the corner looking a bit bored. I had caught up with him a bit earlier since I had traveled with him on his pilgrimage to the Isle of Rhun.

Besides that Gretta Lea and a couple others were sitting around looking tired and stressed about the meeting to come.

Dandelion played a few songs – classic Gyric folk tunes – and got the crowd singing along. Then he went on with a few tunes that were both funny and a bit suggestive getting blushes from Gretta and a few of the other women. He finished by buying a round of drinks for the entire place and leading a toast to Gyruff.

He ended up with a tray of drinks and sat at a table include Gretta and a few of her personal guard. They eyed Dandelion with mistrust as he made jokes and toasts. Gretta was trying to seem stern like the warrior woman she was, but Dandelion could see she was actually enjoying herself.

By the end of the night Benton and Dandelion were all but carrying Emyr up to his room. After pouring him into his fine bed Dandelion wandered back down toward where the servants, advisors, and guards were staying, singing quietly to himself. Hardly fitting lodging but it would have to do.

He hadn’t even gotten to the stairs when a door suddenly swung open next him. An arm grabbed him by the collar and pulled him firmly into the room. He let out a little ‘eek!’ as he was pushed against the wall and soft lips pressed against his.

“You left me alone with those boring guards! Do you not find me attractive?”

The voice was Gretta’s. She stepped back and swung the door shut. Her hair was lose from the braid now and that, and the nightgown she wore gave her a much more feminine look.

“Um, I…uh, well yeah. You are very attractive.” Dandelion gulped, still a little surprised and uncharacteristically at a bit of a loss for words.

“But yet you just wandered off to take care of Emyr without even looking back at me. Your reputation would have suggested otherwise.” She turned and took a few steps away, her long hair cascading down her back.

“Well, I don’t know what you’ve heard but I’m not…”

“Oh come now!” She interrupted. “You are an unapologetic womanizer!” She turned back and waggled her finger at him before again turning her back. “And you didn’t even make a play at me!”

Dandelion sighed. Gretta was not going to let him fool her in the slightest. She was a sharp one and offended.

“Ok, ok. You are a noble lady, and Arglwyth; young, beautiful, and important. You are helping shape the future of Gyruff. I’m a Bard. Sure, I’m very good at what I do, but there are certain social norms that even I tend to not break.”

“I intimidate men because I can beat most of them at swordplay.” She pouted. “I am a WOMAN though.”

“Yes, yes you are.” Dandelion smiled as he put his hands on her shoulders and gently rubbed.

The first rays of sunlight peeked through the windows causing Dandelion to stir. The soft shape wrapped in his arm was still fast asleep. Her fair hair spilled onto his chest as she slept peacefully.

Oh, what have I done? He thought to himself. She is a noble, there are going to be expectations and repercussions from this! Calm down; you’ve faced a dragon, fought knights, and survived the undead in the Dim, you can handle this. And worst of all…I really like her! Oh Dandelion, what have you gotten yourself into?

Dandelion slowly stretched and tried to gently extricate himself from Gretta’s clutched. Without even waking up she hugged him closer. Though not big, she was a lot stronger than she looked.

He sighed and then ran his fingers down her arm. Her eyes fluttered open.

“Good morning sunshine. I think it is time for us to get up and get ready for the important meeting today.”

“Can’t I just lie here like this all day?”

“Well, besides the somewhat awkward position that would put us in, I’m sure we’d be missed.” He said as he slid off of the bed and started gathering his things. He was not big and muscular like many Gyri men but he was undeniably handsome.

Gretta looked him over. “We must do this again some time! Will you come visit and play for me in Ffrwythlon Dol?”

“My Lady, I will make it one of my favorite stops.”

Dandelion
Gretta Lea

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Xilvyre's New Flan Purity

I heard that Eridan had prepared a lab in New Midwood for heroes who could prepare the cure for blackscour taint. Uaithne and I made our way there. We found Kosef, Osiris, Thia, Morrick, Grigor, Tornado, Aoth, Dandelion, Yuldra and Pookie there. The cantrev leaders were meeting to discuss the government of the country since the death of the Brennin and most of his council. Eridan was elected Regent, so that was good news. He seems level headed. I think Yuldra went to see her father, Janos, as she was gone a lot and knew some about the council meeting when she returned.

Aoth and I had Rhodri’s recipe for a cure and our best translation. We used the lab Eridan had provided in the castle of New Midwood and tested recipes. We tried things with and without frog eggs and with and without holly leaves. Dandelion kept copious notes and Morrick and Aoth checked the cure on vials of blackscour water. First we cut the rat’s tail root and mushrooms with a copper knife, but that did not work well. A glass shard worked much better. The mushrooms were too mushy, so did not have the right effect. Apparently that is why Rhodri brewed the cure in Moradinath Mor, because the iron bloom mushrooms grow there and need to be fresh (only a day or two old and with snail slime).

Yuldra believes that the black scour taint, the wasting disease in Gwryn Bryn, the wizard plague from Keoland and the staffern are all caused by the fey Queens. There are four fey queens and four plagues, so that makes some sense. All fey curses have a specific weakness which when found will end the curse.

We were discussing this when we heard a commotion in the market place. A man wearing Wizard Academy robes was sounding mad was randomly attacking people in the square. I tried to speak with him to no avail. Dandelion tried to read his thoughts, but he only got gibberish and the man’s name, Grigor. Kosef restrained him and the guards approached and we took Grigor to the dungeon. Kosef then started showing signs of the disease, wanting to chase unicorns. We believe Grigor is suffering from the wizard’s plague, which likes victims who specialize in arcane magic and who are Nehili. Kosef is neither of these, so it must affect others also and spread through touch. We warned the guards not to touch Grigor and left. Apparently he is the apprentice of a wizard who recently arrived in Prennffryth to study the black scour taint.

Yuldra decided not to accompany us when we went to Prennffryth to find the wizard. The guards had killed the wizard the day before when he started attacking people and burned his room at the inn. His apprentice, Grigor, had escaped. Most of his notes were burned, but he was looking for a connection between blackscour taint and wizard plague. The plague had started in Niola Dra about 6 weeks ago when someone had come to the academy with a wooden puzzle box. Dandelion admitted that he had sold the puzzle box he got from an imp who was posing as Neumann’s scribe to a wizard from Niola Dra. It must have been fey cursed to cause the wizard plague. Unfortunately, the wizards had decided to scatter to find a cure, spreading the plague.

Since we were in Prennffryth, we decide to have Tornado check the well, which he found unchanged from 5 months ago.

We headed west to find fresh mushrooms. We debated asking the giant eagles to bring us some, but decided they would feel summoned and would not like that. They are proud and must be treated with respect.

We stopped at several towns on our way west. We reached Llanerch on the border of Rhwng yr Coed and Gwyrth Bryn on the second or third evening. The monastery to Rao outside town was too quiet, so we investigated. We found the monks, who were of mixed race, murdered about two days before. Grigor and Osiris found tracks indicating about 20 horses had come and about 25 horses had left. We found about 15 beds and 10 murdered monks. When we asked in town, they said that about 5 monks had left with Caswallon and Andras when they rode through about 2 days ago.

The next town we came to was Trehalwyn, the town of Caswallon the Green. It is rumored that he found the tomb of Llywellyn the druid king during the war with the giants. Caswallon had discovered the Path of Purity from Obad Hai and become very traditional. The town did not want to let us in unless we could justify why we should be admitted in Flan. Dandelion and I both speak Flan and had decided to disguise ourselves as Flan before we came within eye-shot of the town. Dandelion bluffed well and eventually convinced the guard to let everyone into town. We were met by Maelan merch Caswallon. Everyone in town was wearing the old style Flan garb, which I don’t remember from either on the way to or from the Isle of Rhun. The town from the outside seems somewhat in ruins, but is not from inside the walls.

Aoth went to meet with the druid’s circle while we were negotiating entrance into town. As a cleric of Ehlonna, he was almost acceptable. He was not a druid of Obad Hai and not Flan, so that was two strikes against him. The cleric of Ehlonna who was part of the circle had been sacrificed a few months ago because he was too moderate.

The town, and Gwyrth Bryn in general, has been stricken with wasting disease. It started a few months ago, when outsiders passed through town. A cleric of Pelor has come to town to research the disease. The disease seems to affect only those who are not pure Flan.

Maelan took us to meet her father, who had foreseen our coming. At supper, Caswallon asked us to do him the boon of retrieving the physician’s cauldron from the ways of the world in exchange for a boon from him. Once we accepted, he proposed a ceremony with a boar to give us luck in finding the cauldron, an ancient artifact which an arch druid can use to cure disease. Caswallon slew the boar in the dining chamber and collected the blood in a cup. He asked us all to drink deeply or at least touch the cup to our lips as it would help in our quest. I managed to swallow some. Thia had trouble and could only touch the cup to her lips, but that was enough to satisfy Caswallon. Aoth explained that the ritual imparted the boar’s spirit to us as a guide to the Ways of the World and the cauldron. Caswallon warned us that the ways were cold and led us to the druids circle. He said we only need return to the spot where we entered and say the name of the Brenin three times and they would reopen the ways to let us out.

We entered into the Ways of the World and found ourselves on top of a tower with only one path available through the ice. Visibility was reduced to 60 feet because of the fog. After a few twists and turns we found ourselves in a clearing. Inside the clearing was a huge block of ice with grass and flowers and a cauldron of gold and shiny swords inside. Outside were some humans slain with crude weapons. Some were tempted, but cooler heads recognized the trap. We quickly moved to go around the ice, but were ambushed by a couple dozen ice goblins with crude weapons. Thia and Dandelion were wounded enough that they needed to pull back after each downing some of the goblins. I was afraid that I would have to pull back also, but Morrick healed me from afar. Morrick and Aoth the brown bear cornered the leader and captured him, quickly ending the fight. The remaining goblins ran away. When questioned, the goblin leader reluctantly admitted that the tribe had a large soup pot. Dandelion drew a “magical rune” on the back of the leader’s neck and threatened to blow it up if we were double crossed. The goblin leader then led us back to the tribe and had them give us the soup pot. It took 12 goblins to roll it out to us. It detected as magical, so we concluded that it was the Physician’s cauldron. The cauldron was huge, weighing 1400 pounds and holding 900 gallons of liquid. Luckily Dandelion had a portable hole, so we could bring the cauldron back easily. I wanted to linger in the Ways to rest, but Morrick reminded me that the Ways are too dangerous and we wanted to leave as soon as possible.

We got back to the tower and said Rhys’ name three times to no avail. Then we said Llywellyn’s name and immediately exited the Ways. The whole town was waiting for us. Caswallon spent about an hour with the cauldron while people formed a bucket brigade and filled the cauldron. The water was heated to boiling and Caswallon was ready. A small blond-haired girl was so sick with the wasting disease she was carried by her mother. Caswallon asked if she wanted to be purified and she replied she did. Caswallon stepped into the boiling water and the mother handed him the child. Caswallon then lowered himself and the child into the water. When they reemerged, the girl was perfectly healthy and pure Flan.

I will speak with the cleric of Pelor in town to see what he has on the wasting disease, then I want to go see Andras Dryadson and see what is happening with him.

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Dandelion’s Moundgnomery Visit
aka Howdy Mom and Dad! or Seeing the Brenin in Action.

Scene: Dandelion as an old man walks into the center of a small Gyri village. A group of children rush to greet him, shouting his name, welcoming him, and hugging him. He hands out treats to the youngsters as they swarm him, dragging him toward the large fire pit in the center of town.

Adults have noticed and they start coming out of their houses and fields toward the center of town as well. Dandelion gives a wink to a few of the ladies and they blush. Even in his old age he is well known for certain…habits.

The children drag him into a seat by the fire that is now being stoked by some townsfolk. Young and old have gathered and started to sit down around the fire. Someone hands Dandelion a large mug of apple wine.

“Tell us a story! Tell us a story!” the children chant in unison. The older kids and adults try not to look too excited but even they are anticipating Dandelion’s story.

“Ok, ok! Everyone sit down like good kids.”
The children quickly settle into a semi-circle in front of Dandlion and one raises his hand.
“Tell us about tricking the giants! Or the grawn march in Hochoch!”
Another speaks up.
“No, tell us about the Aberglain again!”
“We want one with monsters, and battles, and beautiful princesses!”

“Just relax; I’ve got a special treat for you today. This is a story I rarely tell and has dragons, and knights, and sorcerers, and even, the Brenin Rhys!”

“It was just after the Battle for Aberglain. I’d gotten the information from an evil doppelganger that my parents had been captured by the terrible Sssarung the Ambitious!

So naturally I had to go to their rescue! I gathered a crew of adventurers with me that included my friends Ben, Morrick, Xilvyre, and the amazing Mazer. We also added a gnome ranger named Biglee (one of the Za’boom clan) hoping he’d know how to get into Moundgnomery.

We traveled uneventfully to the area and decided that the old steading of the Hill Giants might be a good way in. We had some old notes from some adventurers that had previously come up from Moundgnomery into the steading.

As we approached we met up with a Monk, Tunottoo, who’s monastery had been recently destroyed by a terrible dragon. So he happily joined us when we mentioned that this same dragon may be the target of our quest. Well, not so much the dragon himself but taking his stuff and freeing his prisoners.

The steading was in pretty bad shape; overgrown and clearly not kept up. However, there were clear tracks and signs that someone was still using this as a campsite on the way in and out of the underground area. Garbage, stacked logs, fire pits, and other such things made it clear that this was a resting point before heading down into the dungeons below.

We made a point to stay on the well-traveled path, and that was pretty clear and easy to follow. We had a goal here and straying off of the path would only distract us from that.

The path seemed to match up with the spotty instructions we had received from others that had travelled this route. That helped us even further as we noted landmarks along the way confirming our route.

When were well underground we noted a gnome statue with some strange runes. They were an arcane message to me from my mother warning me of the dangers of the dragon and kobold allies. It was a bit cryptic though; was she warning me off or guiding me.

Turns out she knew me too well.

We continued along some stone arches over a deep chasm and onto the other side where the natural caverns were changing into worked stone. There were clear signs where people had traveled, including store rooms and well-used doors. So we followed these and avoided the cobweb and dust-filled corridors.

I noted two other arcane messages from my mom, Nicole, which only I could read. Each seemed to indicate an increasing level of danger but also that perhaps her and my father were not actually captives. This confused me a bit but we pressed on.

There had been a bit of banter between the members of the group along the way, but more and more we were noticing the Gnome was not really…gnome-like. I pressed him on it a couple times but he just shrugged it off, saying that he was just a quite type.

Then we found the final message from my mom. It seemed that perhaps we might have Sssarung in disguise, in our midst. Great!

So we pushed the Gnome a bit more and he must have known the jig was up. He transformed into Sssarung and gave us the count of ten to run. He was just playing with us, enjoying the chase before he devoured us in the end.

We chose to see if we could lose him in the narrow corridors where he would have to squeeze to get through. Of course he was blocking the way up so we were just running deeper into his lair.

It was only a short distance before we came upon a group of humans. Very, very familiar humans…

My parents, some of their friends (who I had considered aunts and uncles growing up) and one addition to the group; a regal-looking gentleman – Rhys, the Brenin!!!

We halted and had a quick conversation. My mother hugged me, apologizing for making me “bait” and asking which one the dragon was. Well the dragon had already revealed himself so we told them where he was.

This is where the real excitement started, but we stayed out of the way, knowing that we’d only be a distraction. So I had to paraphrase the fight against the dragon using eye witness accounts.

The Dragon Battle:

After a few quick spells the party broke up to hit the dragon from multiple sides. Besides the Brenin the party included Nicole, Mordelin, Dimitri, Strongswing, Hoskuld, Darius, and William Lea.

Rhys stepped into the room and Sssarung’s eyes got big. He had a chance to get his revenge on the Brenin (for whatever it was he wanted revenge)!

Combat started quickly and Rhys tore some scales off of the dragon with his spiked chain while the dragon failed with his tail, claws, and teeth, barely scratching the nimble Brenin.

The rest of the team moved into position but some were shaken by the sight of the mighty dragon. Thorny masses burst from the ground, damaging several with the spikes and the ground itself wrapped around the Brenin, holding him in place. Sssarung took advantage of this and beat down on him with claw, tail, and tooth.

The others finally started to add some damage to the mix with weapon and spell while the Brenin broke free of the earthen grasp.

Sssarung boasted and taunted the Brenin, claiming he had arranged the death of his wife and children as well as the ruin of Gyruff. Then breathed poisonous gas upon several of the collected heroes.

Fortunately a spell of poison resistance protected them partially (and Rhys wears a ring that protects him completely). The heroes returned attacks; clearly starting to wear down the mighty dragon. Gaping holes in the scaly armor had appeared, leaking the dragon’s lifeblood.

But Sssarung had more tricks, and polymorphed into a huge black dragon, removing all traces of wounds. The heroes shuddered at this transformation, fearing that they did not have the time or firepower to cut down another form. But Nicole had the solution and dispelled the transformation, returning Sssarung to his wounded Green Dragon form!

Angered he struck the Brenin with a powerful flurry of blows, causing him to stagger, but he kept coming back, ripping scales from Sssarung with the spiked chain, drawing blood.

Down the hallway came a noise; another, smaller Green Dragon burst in with the Brenin’s Griffon Guard in tow.

Esvaress, the adopted son of Sssarung was joining the fight but there was still some question about whose side he was on.

As Sssarung berated the younger dragon Rhys used a friendlier tactic and convinced Esvaress to join the heroes. Esvaress slashed at Sssarung as the other heroes piled on! The end was clearly near for Sssarung but he stopped and begged for mercy.

All present were surprised when the Brenin, clearly not his old self, tore into Sssarung yelling something about his suffering and killing his wife and how he could possibly expect mercy.

Then, as Sssarung lay there bleeding, barely alive, Rhys drew Dusk out and neatly cut off the head of the dragon. And that was the end of Sssarung the Ambitious.

The Rescue:

We had traveled farther down into the depths to help the poor slaves. We came across a magical trap that could not be disabled but Ben bravely bolted through getting blasted by a large ball of fire. Though a bit toasty he survived and was quickly healed by Morrick.

We noted that the trap was resetting so quickly gathered up the weak and wounded slaves and ushered them back up the stairs. We heard the battle raging as we approached, and sent Xilvyre to investigate.

The scene was one of carnage; The Brenin, wounded and bleeding, was just bringing Dusk down on the neck of the felled dragon Sssarung. Another Green Dragon, Esvaress was there along with the Brenin’s personal guard (who the dragon had apparently brought along with him to help Rhys).

The other heroes were all wounded to some degree but none the worse for wear and were cleaning up the battle site.

Several of them came to help the poor captives that we’d just freed, who were generally dirty, malnourished, and unhealthy.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The scene returns to Dandelion sitting at the fire surrounded by the entire town.

“And that was the end of the threat of Sssarung the Ambitious. But even after death his nasty deeds and followers had long-ranging impact on Gyruff!”

He sits back and takes a long slow sip of wine.

“Tell us more, tell us more!” The children shout nearly in unison. Even many of the adults seem anxious to hear more of the tale.

“Oh, I don’t know. There were a lot of exciting things that happened soon after that. Killing and coups, murder and weddings, monsters and nobles…”

He seems about to go into another story when a beautiful voice seems to almost sing out of the darkness.

“Dandelion, it is getting late, and I don’t want the bed to be cold.”

Dandelion sits up straight and a smile crosses his face.

“It seems like a special someone has said it is past bedtime for me. So further stories will have to wait until tomorrow. So put out treats for the Fey and get off to bed. There’ll be chores for you in the morning.”

He sends the children off to their parents and all are pretending to be characters in his story.

He stretches and rubs his back, then starts softly playing his lute as he walks slowly out of the firelight. There, a shapely female figure stands, barely visible in the shadows.

“Your timing is impeccable as always my love.” He says to the figure.

“As usual, I’ve gotten the messages to the right people and taken care of all of the business while you were goofing around telling tales.” She retorts in a playful manner, finishing with; “Well, there is one more bit of business we have to attend to…” As they walk off into the night.

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