Gyruff (Grand Duchy of Geoff)

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

Dandelion.jpg

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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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Mazer's Log

Before I get started, some of the good stuff we have been helping Gyruff with has really paid off. At first I was giving this adventuring life a go just for some music inspiration, meeting some exotic women, and a little fame. But wow Man! Here that guy Gareth we rescued from the Gran March is ruling a recent liberated Arweth and offered an insta-upgrade to nobility for his pals that helped him out. Well, I was all over that faster than I could strum the old lute and tip one back so now I am referred as Baronet Mazer Raxxam of Fort Resolve! Bam! Now I’m hotter than ever, a Baronet, very inspired musician, very famous, and most important of all…the chicks just can’t get enough of ole Mazer here.

Well I met a new group of adventures for our next task in Hochoch. Unlike the last adventure, unfortunately this group is a sausage fest. I’m okay with it though, things have been working out. Oh yeah, Baroness Jagr was here too. The only female in the group. Just between you and me I catch her looking my direction all the time so “it” will eventually happen but she needs to take a number. Mazer don’t need no clinging vines!

So our goal was to rescue some High Mage guy called Pebblebutt…or bottom. See a bunch of these super mages are gone and we need to get some back to Gyruff because of a minor power vacuum there. I heard that a Green Dragon was collecting mages in gems or something. Creepy, needs a new hobby. Well we are planning on visiting all the known places that the recently DEAD green scale-sack of a looser was at as well as where places Pebblebutt was living. I gave a real big sigh because THAT sounded like a long trip to me…and it was. 33 days in all!

Ready, set, go! Right off the line we get asked by associates of Arglwyth Alvestar to assist in inspecting some cargo on the DTC longboat. He received a sending warning him that Mr. DEAD Scale-sack more or less planted a big black scour bomb on this boat due to leave. When it would sail past Ravonnar, which is also mystery how they do that too by the way, and that energy got to it, I guess that would feed the black scour and make it grow and grow and grow some more and would not stop growing so that it was bad for pretty much everyone and the land. We tested the entire cargo load and most of the barrels onboard were all contaminated with black scour. We got those off and stored them securely in Caer Dwr Gwyldy…yeah don’t ask me to pronounce it…with Gareth’s approval. Those barrels have some company because there was a 100 or so Gran March prisoners there too. Well, for that helping we received greatly discounted boat fare to travel a really long way to Tenwalls. Everything was going great and boring on that ride when during the night one of our darkvision night-watch spotted a longboat sneaking up behind us. It was later identified as a Keoish boat with a black sail, no lights, and muffled oarlocks so they were very quiet. I’ll be honest, for a moment there it didn’t look good for us. My hair was flowingly perfect and the last thing I wanted to do was take a swim. Their whole deck was filled with archers and they were only 60’ behind us so this was going to hurt. We were just under sail power. They were rowing and under sail. So I burst into action and started picking off oars on one side of their boat with my wand of magic missiles. I was then going to moon them with my perfect bare backside when they started going for a ride off course in circles but the REAL hero of the night thought “moon” too in a different way and decided to act! (Suspenseful musical interlude….) That Druid in our group Aoth decided to carve that boat full a new one! He put down a moonbeam right in front of their boat and that moonbeam tore right through those poor sucking peg-leg pirates. Better yet, he brought it back and forth on deck like a spotlight of destruction. I almost felt sorry for them after Moonbeam (that’s what I call him now) “signed his name across their heart”…hey, that sounds like e new song! Yeah, they turned away pretty quickly from us after that and we made it to Tenwalls.

After a brief stay in Tenwalls (those people are so happy by the way…I think I could get in trouble there), we headed for Moundgnomery for any clues as to Pebblebutt’s location. Well I’ll admit something to you. Mazer is good at looking good, playing the lute & singing, drinking, partying with the ladies, burning down baddies, you know all the important stuff. Not so good at remembering the layout of dark dungeons of Moundgnomery when I was just there recently to rescue prisoners to support by buddy Dandelion. Kind of took a while. I also gazed into that evil corrupted temple AGAIN with my magic glasses and froze and saw more terrifying and disturbing things. Great… My face was absolutely burning & stinging red because my own “friends” were selling tickets to slap my face a new one to snap me out of it. Is that how you treat artwork!!? Really!? Well, Jagr was enjoying that activity a bit too much because she just loves to touch me. Hmmmm…try to deny it! Long story short, we got to exploring Moundgnomery and found no clues. All we found was a bunch of stupid Kobolds now worshiping Essvaress and their pile of copper pieces and rotting headless DEAD green scale-sack of a looser. Not to go away empty handed, we decided to take some dragon scales to make something with in the future. It was disgusting work…but how often does one come across an evil dragon that’s not trying to eat you? (Dungeon crawl musical interlude….)

So our next tip was leading us to Richmound where a bunch of happy-go lucky Gnomes live, as well as a residence of Pebblebutt. On the way we ran into some undead (wights and zombies) at the Stark Mounds. My MazerBeams™ made a special appearance for those dead-sack balls and they won’t be bothering anyone again. Well this hike ended a bit short because just inside the Stark Mounds a bunch of real grumpy, militant, and hostile Gnomes riding wardog mastiffs surrounded us and told us to turn back. Someone called The Commisar (which sounded like a song I have been writing called Der Kommissar) ordered all their lands closed to the “likes of you”. Did I mention Gnomes are to be happy go-lucky? Not anymore because these guys almost attacked us without provocation! Luckily the group has me on board because I persuaded them not to arrest or kill us…because they sure wanted to. Geez, lighten up Gnomies! Their heraldry was white/light grey with a golden gnome guy. Needless to say we diverted from that lead really quickly based on the warm welcome received. On to tip number three. (Hike-on musical interlude….)

Ugggg, this was getting to be a really long trip. Now to Gorna where Pebblebutt resided and to talk to the rotting headless DEAD green scale-sack of a loser’s former associate Essvaress. He joined the good guys during the big battle with the Brenin so was made the Minister of Education for Gyruff. We thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit more with him since he was in direct contact with Mr. Dead Green Problems. So we arrive at the former High Mages residence and are greeted by a life-size statue of Magnus Burkan. What the %#*&^! Last time anyone saw him he was flying up to attack a cloud castle….I guess it didn’t work out well. Being the polite people we are we knocked on the door. Some guy and a real hottie of body woman answered the door. He was rude, full of himself, and threatening. She was a real quiet-type looker if I didn’t already say that but couldn’t see her face because of a hood. He claimed to be Gleap’ster Gyruff’s new High Mage and told us we can’t come in, to quit bothering him, and go away. If we didn’t we would end up like Burkan! Jerk! Well, I couldn’t get anywhere with him…really wanted to with quiet & curvy Sweet Temptation standing there then suddenly Evendur got all cocky and said he’ll come in anyway. He thinks he is all hot stuff because of some cursed ring he can’t get off his finger that makes him immune to all magic. Well they let him buy and then shut the door. A sew seconds later Gleap’ster opened the door again and was mad because how he was going to move the life-size now stone statue of Evendur out of his house. Zoinks! Denied once again and now down a party member. Quickly leaving the scene to talk with Essvaress I glanced back at my future silent curvy Sweet Temptation and thought I saw her hair move, like it had a mind of its own snakes hair. Okay, Mazer really dodged an stone-arrow there. I heard life-size stone statue Evendur is now with Burkan outside and a bird made a nest on his immune to magic head. Sorry Dude. We got to find a way to bring Burkan back and if there is time, the other guy too.

The visit with Gyruff’s new Minister of Education went better. At first I was a bit concerned having a private discussion with a Green Dragon since they have not been getting good press lately but Bookwurm Essvaress was pretty cool and just loved to talk about everything, even when not asked about anything. Out of nowhere he just lets us know of some really big secret meeting of the nobility of Gyruff and not to say anything to anyone. Sure Dude. We ran down a litany of questions regarding rotting headless DEAD green scale-sack of a looser and the Keep at Storm Mountain came up a number of times in his answers which to me means…well I was not quite sure what it meant but we decided that that was our next destination on our grand tour of Gyruff. I hope that secret meeting goes well and I am very concerned that rotting headless DEAD green scale-sack of a looser was visiting quite regularly the Keep at Storm Mountain where my buddy Prince Rhys, his Brat Pack, and a whole bunch of guards (and one particularly hot female super guard that just couldn’t get enough of ole Mazer) were stationed. I do hope everyone is okay. (Suspenseful musical interlude….)

Luckily for everyone this was my third trip to this Keep place at Storm Mountain so it was a much better traveling experience than the dark tunnels of Moundgnomery and my perfect face being slapped silly. Well we got there and the place was as quiet and still as the first time. Not good. Not a person in sight. We entered the courtyard, nothing and no one. We searched the first floor, nothing and no one. Everything was neat, clean, and orderly so far. We searched the second floor, nothing and no one. WAIT!!! See there was this hanging tapestry of animals that radiated magic that opened into some kind of extra-planar library room. We were all over that on our last visit. Should I try it again? Could anything be in there? “Let’s do it again” is something Mazer always hears from the ladies so…let’s do it again animal tapestry! I remembered how to activate it, which is our little secret, and we all went in. Well, another empty room with books and a desk. We searched the whole room and in the desk was a huge iron key and a dozen black silk cloths, one of which was magical. Sweet! We got outta that extra-planer space and the magical silk cloth was a damn portable hole!!! Schwing! When we opened up the portable hole we found rotting headless DEAD green scale-sack of a loser’s hoard and most importantly the Crown w/ gems containing four of Gyruff’s Mages! Mr. Pebblebutt was there plus three more. Essvaress would have been proud of those math skills. We then searched the lower level cellar of the Keep, nothing and no one. Unfortunately we had to briefly look at the evil well area yuck! The big iron key we found opened that sealed door and we quickly and sadly saw that there were no survivors here at the keep on Storm Mountain. Lost here were some really good and cool people. It put a somber feeling on everyone even though we accomplished our goal in a mere 30 days. We decided to head back to Gorna for some much needed rest and to figure out what to do with these Mages in gems in a Crown. Another three days to Gorna put us at a grand total of 33 days on this quest! Perhaps I can apprentice with the Minister of Education with my impressive and repeating math skills! Later – Mazer

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Xilvyre's Remedy for a Giant

We got news that Colwyn had come to the Brenin’s council meeting and blown up himself and much of the council. The Brenin briefly survived, until a cleric of Lydia unknowingly cured him. The Brenin and about a dozen other people coughed up blood filled with black chunks (apparently black scour) and died instantly. Only Alena and Harrison remain of the Brenin’s council.

A group of us decided that we needed to heal Gruka so the giants’ would have a friendly leader. I talked with Aurora, since the straffern was in her father’s cantrev. She shared some information on the plant. Morrick, Dandelion, Yuldra, Pookie and I set out for Hocholve by road through Daufforth. Before we got to Daufforth, we were accosted by two Gran March knights. They targeted Morrick and then Dandelion, so we ladies had to defeat them. We managed to defeat them both and so brought their bodies to Daufforth and Fort Honour. Yuldra was able to speak with the horses and discovered that many knights are based in a cave not far from Daufforth. The citizens of Daufforth were glad that two more knights were dead, but it is only a small portion of the ones who are attacking. Of the 120 or so knights who were stationed at Fort Honour, only about 60 have been captured or killed. The people of Daufforth were holding out fairly well and gave us each war horses. Morrick had a pony and Pookie rode with Yuldra, so we were all mounted. We decided to cut cross county and avoid the roads. We saw a patrol of four knights at a distance, but outran them. When we got close to the Dim, we could see shadows moving there.

We got to the Javan and some startled fishermen got us across. Apparently the shadows do not cross the river because of the positive energy from upstream. Once in Hocholve, we asked to see Arglwyth Eridan. He was most helpful and allowed us access to his laboratory and library. Aurora had told me about Nanarome Estelin, a elf from Highfolk who was investigating straffern. We found her journal and a letter she had written her brother in Eridan’s library. The local priestess accompanied us into the Dim to find her grave and her laboratory. We decided to dig up her body and those of the rangers who were buried with her, but we did not find any additional clues. We were accosted by shadows on the way to the lab and a group of six darklings on the way back. We managed to defeat both groups, but several people were hit. We found some biospheres with preserved straffern in the lab, but nothing else useful. The darklings had a potion of daylight, which we believe would cure Gruka based on Nanarome’s notes. Straffern can not live in daylight. We were accosted by the shadows of Nanarome and the rangers just before we returned to Hocholve. Apparently everyone and everything who dies here returns as a shadow unless buried in hallowed ground.

We sent a message to Gruka, informing him that we had a potential cure. He agreed to meet us in Midwood. When we arrived, the cloud castle was hovering above town. A cloud giant came down and brought us up to the cloud castle. Gruka agreed to try the cure, which worked. I asked about Burkan and was shown his statue. We were also introduced to Gleep Wurp and his wife, Margaret. Margaret always wears a hood, but it slipped once and I caught a glimpse of snakes in her hair. Gleep is blind, so apparently he is not bothered by the fact that his wife is a medusa. We convinced Gleep to come back to Gorna, as the Magi are missing and the high mage position is open. Gleep also brought the statue of Burkan back to Gorna with him. Since he clearly did not want my help, I returned to Hochoch. There I met Uaithne, a Flan from Arweth who showed some arcane ability. I convinced him to apprentice to me and I would mentor him in sorcery. He also played the flute, so we could make our way by playing in taverns across Gyruff.

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Xilvyre's Underground Ways
The end of Sssarung

Dandelion asked Rhyzzat, Mazer, Morrick, Benton, myself and a gnome ranger, Biglee H. Za’Boom to help him with a mission. He needed to find the entrance to Moundgnomery, make his way in, and hopefully release some captives, or at least find out the disposition of these captives. Of course we agreed to go with him, even though it would be dangerous. He had the best directions through the old hill giant steading, so we went that way. When we got to the steading, we met Tunottoo, an elf monk whose monastery had been burned down by Sssarung. Since we were going to recover captives from Sssarung, Tunottoo agreed to accompany us. We entered the decaying steading to find clear tracks of the captives leading through the kitchens and down to the lower level. Mazer had glasses of detect magic and got fascinated by an evil temple. Once we roused him from his trance, we quickly passed by the temple and down another level. Once we got down a few levels, Biglee turned into a green dragon, Sssarung, and started playing hide and seek with us.

Not long after that, we ran into the Brenin and Wolf Pack 36. Wolf Pack 36 consists of Lord Dimitri ab Rancar, Darius ap Aedan, William Lea, Hoskuld, Strongswing Wheatbinder and Dandelion’s parents, Nicole Fairweather and Mordelin Larendin. Dandelion’s mother was not surprised to see us and I think she had been leaving directions for us. Dandelion’s father, on the other hand, was most surprised and displeased. The couple had an intense, although brief, conversation almost out of ear shot. Once we told the Brenin about Sssarung, he rushed off to meet him in battle, with Wolf Pack 36 close behind. We were asked to continue down and rescue some prisoners.

Continuing on, we found a red dragon, which Dandelion assured us was an illusion and expected. We heard voices coming from a wall on the other side of the dragon and concluded that they were the people we had been sent to help. Mazer also found a trap with the dragon. Since we did not have anyone able to dispel the trap, Ben decided to disarm it the hard way. It was quite impressive. There was a brilliant explosion of fire. Ben staggered a little and kept going, even though his hair was on fire. Mazer noted that the trap was rearming, so Ben quickly let the people over to our side of the trap. Ben healed those who needed it, including himself, then we needed a way out. I scouted ahead back the way we came with the rest following behind. I arrived just in time to see the Brenin cut off Sssarung’s head with his sword, Dusk.

Apparently it was quite a battle, with Essvaress, the younger green dragon, making an alliance with the Brenin. Apparently the Brenin promised Essvaress a seat on the council and a room at the palace. Nicole and the others shared that Sssarung had apparently been behind a lot of the ill that has befallen Gyruff. He had posed as the Eagle, Pebblebottom, Bran’s scribe and others to cause mischief. Inelda Botkin had posed as servants to infect people with the black scour taint. She had also been present at the birth of Prince Shaun and had killed Princess Kialla. Sssarung also called Inelda dear departed, which supports the thought that Maga Eldoran killed Inelda at the castle. Sssarung had also bragged that he had encouraged Emyr to stage a coup in Arweth to incite a war between Gyruff and Gran March. He was also working in the Keep of Storm Mountain and the Well and was working with an evil book. He bragged that all three of the Brenin’s children were dead or soon would be. Inelda had hired the Obsidian Blades and they knew where Shaun was hidden. Sssarung was also behind the disappearance of the Magi. There is much to do to undo all that Sssarung did and some things cannot be undone.

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Gelwen's Sounding the Call
Assessing Arweth

On Wealsun 4, Count Gareth of Arweth asked for heroes to assess the troops and villages of Arweth. Aurora, Ben, Kosef, Osiris and I answered the call. Hochoch has a population of 5500 with 40 town guard remaining, 67 archers and 8 acolytes of St Cuthbert, Pelor, Allitur and Ehlonna. I have been working with the two acolytes of Ehlonna to reestablish things here and they can continue while I am gone. Count Gareth decreed that every able bodied adult (male and female) in Arweth must serve 40 days a year and 4 hours each Sunday training (without pay) as commoner militia. The commoners need 10 days of initial training to become proficient with one weapon and those days count against that 40 days. First we assessed the commanders of the provincial troops. We decided that Cymorth Asoth ap Brundil would be the army commander and Braichdyn Andan ap Arendil would be the second in command and trainer of elite troops. Ben and Aurora felt that Asoth would make the better Cymorth as he is hard-nosed and would be better for discipline. The town guard and existing archers can start training the commoners. Each person can only train 15 people and only in something the trainer is skilled at, so that limits the number of people of exceptional ability who can be trained.

Next we headed to Newbridge, about 6 miles away. The town was in good shape, with supplies and weapons and most of the people remaining. They still had 90 archers and 80 spearmen and one acolyte of Merrika. They also had 100 Gran March soldiers and craftsmen held prisoners. Of the prisoners, 5 wanted to stay in Arweth under Gareth. The remainder we marched back to Hochoch to be imprisoned there. Of the 350 people remaining in Newbridge, 2 were picked by Osiris and 12 by Kosef for special training. We set up a town council with the cleric, one archer, one spearman and one agricultural person. The town asked for clerics, especially of light to fight off the shadows from the Dim. We will try. We stayed for a week and a half training everyone in either the bow or the spear so they could defend themselves.

Things were not as good in Fort Integrity. The Gran March forces had taken everything possible with them when they left. The 550 survivors were starving and wearing only rags. We brought the survivors and 6 ballista back to Newbridge. One teacher had remained in Fort Integrity, who we introduced to Rhyzzat for training. We made the teacher in charge of the town council in Newbridge. We spent another week and a half training the survivors in either ballista, bow or the spear. Osiris and Kosef found some more exceptional people they could train. Ben also found one person he could train as an acolyte. We kept the sending stone to report in to Count Gareth.

We next traveled to Daufforth and Fort Honour. We met 2 knights with bull tabards on the road from Commandant Baronet Charging Bull Knight Commander Montgommery Sebastian Neheli former 62nd Bull calvary regiment. We managed to capture one and drive the other off. Those calvary are tough advisories. An acolyte of Merrika had taken over leadership of the area and 660 people remained. They were in fine shape with 22 archers and 8 spearmen remaining of the provincial troops. I found one person who was suitable to be trained as an acolyte. Unfortunately they are plagued with raids by knights, of whom 15 to 25 are unaccounted for. The second day we were there, a group of 9 knights approached down the road. We decided to put 200 troops into Fort Honour, as many as it would hold. Osaris and I went to the fort as well. The remaining people all got behind the wall of the manor house. The nine knights were repulsed from the manor house and 21 knights attacked the fort and were also repelled. My birthday passed as we continued to train the commoners in warfare.

We next traveled to Fort Resolve. 350 people remained here, including a priest of Mayheine and 2 acolytes, 80 spearmen and 90 archers. They are also plagued by knights of the cougar calvary. We spent time here as well training the people.

We next traveled to Fort Loyalty. It was burned to the ground, apparently by the Oytwood elves who saw no difference between the Gran March troops and the provincial troops. I can somewhat understand their bitterness against the Gran March, who have no respect for the forest and the land. But I mourn the Flan who would have been good citizens of Arweth. I did recover the sending stone.

We met a patrol of elves on the way to Garrin’s Field. They have been hunting the knights that remain in Arweth. The war between the elves and Gran March has not abated. When Ben mentioned the knights near Fort Resolve and Fort Honour, the elves headed north to find them. It is an uneasy alliance for now between Arweth and the elves. We need to make sure Arweth learns to respect the forest and the elves for all to be well between them.

Fort Diligence and Garrin’s Field are doing fine. The patrols of elves make them nervous, but the town has not been attacked. We found more apprentices for Rhyzzat and one each for Ben and myself. This country needs more clerics, especially of the Old Faith. The town has about 1100 citizens, including 110 archers. A temple to Pholtus had been started, so the villagers are continuing, even though they have no clergy. Maybe we can use it for another god when we find clergy. We found someone of above average intelligence, so we left him in charge of the town. We spent more time training and finally returned to Hochhoch after about 8 weeks of travel.

We found 14 people in Hochoch suitable to be trained as acolytes. We send 4 to the Priest of Mayheine in exchange for his current acolytes being sent to Newbridge to help against the Dim. Ben and I now each have 7 acolytes and 8 heavy infantry we are training in the use of armor and weapons. I can train my soldiers in the use of the longsword and chainmail. My days are busy with training and the teachings of Ehlonna. When I can, I teach the people more of the ways of Ehlonna and the respect for the land. Goodmonth will be starting soon and then the crops will be harvested. Hopefully the peace lasts that long and Arweth can heal.

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