It was in the evening of Starday, the 8th day of Sunsebb, in the Common Year of 580, when Kelgor left the Company of the Green Dragon. Following the dwarven cleric’s departure from the band, the rest of the band decided to take some time off and consider what they would do from this point on, and then make a decision on whether or not they would try to find someone to replace him. During this time, several members of the band learned new spells, or alchemical formulas, or just trained and improved upon their skills.
After a few days, while Zeke was strolling about the Low Market near the Artisan’s Quarter, he happened across a fortune-teller by the name of Maerrida whom he was acquainted with. Maerrida was a mysterious old Baklunish lady that Zeke did not know all that well, but who nevertheless had, on occasion, spoken to Zeke in mystic verses, sometimes while she was seemingly in a trance. Maerrida had often told Zeke in the past that Zeke was destined for greatness, but Zeke could never be sure if the lady was a true seer, just plain crazy or perhaps even a very convincing con artist. What he did know was that Maerrida would sometimes give him cryptic advise or mutter vague predictions about the future that, more often than not, appeared to come true.
On this particular day, Maerrida seemed to go into one of her trances while Zeke was stopping by to say hi. With a far-off stare in her eyes, she spoke in a mono-tone voice and uttered the phrases:
“The time draws near for the coming of night.
Be wary of shadows and seek the castle bright.”
After speaking the cryptic verses, Maerrida seemed to come back to what senses she had and Zeke knew from experience that it was useless to ask her what she meant by what she had said, for Maerrida would claim to be ignorant of having said anything at all. Zeke was curious about it though, so he paid a visit to the Great Library of Greyhawk in Clerkburg and used some of his considerable charm and clout as a hero of the people to convince the head librarian, Gratius Saghast, to do some research for him about any reference to “the coming of night” or a “castle bright.”
On the night of Starday, the 15th day of Sunsebb, and the seventh day since returning from the ruins, the band got together for drinks at the Green Dragon Inn. Most of them had spent the week studying or training hard and they felt it was time for a break. In addition, they needed to decide whether or not to try and replace Kelgor. By this time however, most of them had come to the decision that they would like to try making it without a fifth member, since Zeke and Brom had both become more skilled at healing injuries. And so it was agreed that, for the time being, there would only be four members of the Company of the Green Dragon.
That night, while they were at the Green Dragon Inn, the locally famous bard Rohnam was entertaining the crowd once again and he took the opportunity of the band’s appearance to premiere a new song he had written about the Company of the Green Dragon. It told the story of how the band had recently gone into the Mistmarsh to search for the Champions of Valor, how they defeated Heironymous Spune and a monstrous roper, and how they eliminated the threat of an army of giant lizardmen. The song was well received by the inn’s patrons, several of whom bought drinks for the band, and it helped to promote the fame and reputation of the band in the city.
Later on in the evening, while Rohnam was taking a break between sets, he approached the band, asked them if they liked the song, and then asked them if they were looking to find a replacement for Kelgor. Rohnam had obviously heard about Kelgor’s departure from the band and told them he was interested in joining up with them. He explained that he was an experienced adventurer himself and told them what he felt he could offer the band. But Zeke told him that they had not yet decided what they were going to do on the matter, even though they had, and said they would consider his offer.
The following day, on Sunday the 16th, Tadwin paid a visit to the Wizard’s Guild to look in the library for more spells. While he was there, he ran into an old friend of his from when he used to attend the University of Magical Arts, a young man named Harry. Harry suggested they have lunch together at the Savant, an old hangout of theirs in Clerkberg. While at lunch, they were reminiscing about old times when Harry changed the subject and mentioned that a friend of his had been missing for a few days, a fighter-type by the name of Elrath Oakenthews. Knowing that Tadwin was a specialist of divination magic, he asked Tadwin if he could look into investigating his whereabouts. Tadwin agreed to, but said it would have to be the next day, as he did not currently have the proper spells memorized for the day.
The next morning Tadwin met up with Harry, as agreed upon, and they walked to the boarding house in the Foreign Quarter where Elrath lived. Harry cast a spell to unlock the door and they looked about his room. Finding no real clues, Tadwin used a possession of Elrath’s to try and help him find Elrath with a scrying spell. Using the spell and a mirror, Tadwin was able to spy in on Elrath for several minutes.
As the two wizards observed, Elrath was currently in a small but comfortable room with four neat bunks, a writing desk, a common table, and a trunk at the foot of each bed. Elrath was seated on one of the beds with his plate mail, shield and battle axe nearby. With him were two other men. One of the other men sat quietly on another bed while he oiled and sharpened a pair of shortswords with a slightly sinister scowl on his face. The second man, who had a longbow and a longsword nearby, was speaking to Elrath and describing to him other people that he referred to as being in other groups. Some of these people, Elrath had apparently met just recently.
Among the people mentioned and described were a barbarian named Ulwar Giantkin, a self-centered and pushy half-elf woman named Sarina the Red, an ambitious dwarf named Thorik Halfaxe, an archer huntsman named Shevarin Arrowsong, a caravan guard named Tukares and an attractive and noble swordswoman named Daranal Trenn. The man speaking also mentioned another group of people he did not know very well, but he also mentioned someone named Kendel who seemed to be in charge of them all.
Harry was puzzled by all that he saw and heard, as he did not recognize any of the names or people, nor did he understand why Elrath would unexpectedly leave his possessions behind and find himself in such a situation. It did not appear that Elrath was being held a prisoner and yet something did not feel right. Perhaps most puzzling of all, and possibly an interesting clue as to his whereabouts, was the appearance of the walls of the room, which looked like very thick, green-tinted glass where sunlight filtered through.
With no other leads to follow in this mystery, Tadwin told Harry he would talk with his companions and ask them to help him with an investigation. For much of the day then, each member of the band went about their business as usual, as most of them were still involved in their training, studying and other personal matters. But that evening, they agreed to go bar-hopping and ask around for information.
Zeke, meanwhile, had spoken with Gratius Saghast at the Great Library during this time, and he had learned some things about the matters that he was looking into. Gratius told Zeke that while he was unable to find anything pertaining to the “coming of night”, he did find something on “the castle bright.”
He told Zeke that centuries ago, back in the time when the Mad Archmage Zagyg was Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, during the time when the city was still young and much of it was in the process of being built, including the city’s sewer system, there was another famous wizard by the name of Alarius. Alarius was of Suel ancestry and it was rumored even at that time that he was several hundred years old. Some even claimed he had come from the Suel Imperium, which of course collapsed a thousand years before following the Rain of Colorless Fire and the Twin Cataclysms. It was said that in the later days of Alarius’s presence in the city, he had begun to spend a great deal of time traveling to other planes of existence. The area around Greyhawk has always been rumored to be a nexus of gateways to other worlds, a fact that Zagyg is said to have taken advantage of as well when he built his famous castle.
According to records and reports at the Great Library, Alarius had discovered the gateway to a demi-plane that he became quite found of, though he always kept the location of this gateway a closely guarded secret, for he intended to retire there some day. To this end, it was said that he built, in this demi-plane, a magical castle out of crystal that became known as Prism Keep and was sometimes referred to as “the castle bright.” With the mysterious disappearance of Alarius however, many, many decades ago, any mention of his name, the demi-plane, or of Prism Keep has been largely forgotten.
Upon hearing from Tadwin the description of the room in which he had seen the missing warrior Elrath, Zeke told him and their companions what he had recently learned about Prism Keep, believing there could be a connection, though it seemed unlikely. That evening, the band got together and began visiting taverns near Elrath’s home, looking for possible clues.
They visited the Green Dragon Inn and spoke with a few people there including Rohnam who knew of Elrath. Then they went to the Black Dragon Inn and spoke with the proprietor Miklos Dare, and a few of his customers. In both places they learned that on the night before Elrath’s disappearance, he had been hanging out with a couple of men named Colm and Ogden. They also learned that Colm and Ogden had been seen with other fighter-types at these same places over the past few months. Most of these other warriors appeared to be recent arrivals in Greyhawk and they too were never seen again. One such newcomer apparently went by the name of Tukares.
Remembering that a caravan guard named Tukares was mentioned by the man speaking to Elrath when Tadwin scryed on him, Tadwin concluded that there must be a connection, and that this Colm and Ogden were that connection. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know much about the two mysterious warriors or where they lived. So, for the night, their investigation went no further.
But the following morning, Tadwin went to the Slum Quarter where he spoke with a few members of the Beggar’s Guild recommended to him by Brom. He hired them to gather any information they could on Colm and Ogden and said he would return the next day.
On the following afternoon, that of Waterday, the 19th day of Sunsebb, Tadwin returned to the Slum Quarter and spoke to the beggars. After paying their fee of five gold pieces, he learned that Colm and Ogden lived with two other men in a small two story house in the Thieves’ Quarter and that it was rumored that several fighter-types had been seen going into the house never to be seen again. The beggars showed Tadwin the house and went on their way. So Tadwin stayed at a distance and cast a clairvoyance spell just inside the front door. There he saw two men sitting in a living room area and talking. Tadwin then cast a clairaudience spell so he could listen in on their conversation. One of the men, who called the other one Colm, was asking if they were going out that night. The one named Colm responded by saying that Irinia was not looking for any more men, but that they might as well pay a visit to the Silver Dragon, obviously meaning the Silver Dragon Inn.
Unsure of what this all meant, Tadwin wanted to get a better look inside the house. So he went and spoke to his companions in the band and they devised a plan. That evening, at around seven o’clock or so, Corvyn and Zeke went to the Silver Dragon Inn to see if they could locate Colm and Ogden, based on their description, and to try and keep an eye on them.
Tadwin and Brom, meanwhile, went to the house in the Thieves’ Quarter. It did not appear that anyone was at home, so Brom turned invisible, picked the lock on the back door and entered. He quietly looked about noting every room on the first floor, including a set of stairs to the basement and a study. He then brought Tadwin into the house and, while Tadwin examined the study, Brom headed up to the second floor where he went from room to room.
To Brom’s surprise, two of the bedrooms upstairs were occupied by a couple of men asleep in beds. Neither of the men awoke however, and Brom was able to look about and find four more bedrooms, two of which were currently in use, and two that did not appear to be, though he did not take the time to thoroughly examine any of them.
Tadwin, on the other hand, did a quick examination of the study and found nothing of real interest except for many of the books on the bookshelf which were written in Sueloise and dealt with the history and geography of lands he had never heard of, such as Pariatus, Kelant, Sindur, Aldenoth, Emerdyn, Dakinend and Nyth. Curious about these places, he began grabbing some of the books until Brom came back downstairs and told him to put them back, not wishing to leave any evidence of intruders in the house.
Tadwin and Brom then looked inside the basement, which appeared to be completely unremarkable until Tadwin cast a spell to detect secret doors. Behind the stairs, Tadwin found a secret door and then a second one on the far side of the room. Brom checked the door using his goggles of minute seeing and discovered a glyph of warding on it, which he was able to remove. He then opened the secret door. It led to a short flight of stairs and another secret door, which then opened up into the city’s sewer system. Curiously enough, just across from the secret door was a small cave in the sewer wall from which Brom detected a faint bluish glow. Brom entered the cave and found lying on the floor, along with piles of debris, a multi-colored octagonal crystal five inches long and an inch and a half wide, with magical blue sigils glowing faintly across its surface. Brom could not read the writing on it and was afraid to touch it. So he turned back and got Tadwin to come and inspect it. Without picking it up, Tadwin was able to read half of the inscription, which said:
“Crystal key and door of light…”
Picking up the key and examining it, he saw that the other half of the inscription said:
“…Return me to my castle bright.”
Suspecting that this might be a key of some kind which would lead them to Prism Keep, the two decided it was time to bring Zeke and Corvyn to the house.
While Tadwin stayed behind, Brom exited the house invisibly and used an extract that allowed him to fly over the city and its walls to the Silver Dragon Inn. Zeke and Corvyn, meanwhile, had spotted two individuals that they believed to be Colm and Ogden, and had been keeping an eye on them. When Brom arrived at the Silver Dragon, he explained to Zeke and Corvyn what they had found and they headed back towards the house. They had to take the secret route through the sewer system in order to get past the Black Gate, which was now closed at this time of the night. So it was a while before they returned to the house in the Thieves’ Quarter.
When the three companions got to the house, Brom once again entered invisibly and stealthily. He looked about the kitchen and listened for any noises. Then, finding no sign of any disturbance, he motioned for Zeke and Corvyn to enter. But just as the two got inside, they heard the sound of movement upstairs and realized that someone was approaching. So the three of them quickly headed down the stairs to the basement and closed the door behind them. But despite their efforts to remain undetected, the man who had come down to the kitchen apparently heard them, though he seemed to think they were his companions who were at the Silver Dragon.
The man called out to Ogden asking if they had decided to return early from the tavern. Then he asked if they had gone into the basement to retrieve another keg. The band did not know how to respond, so they did not respond at all. Unfortunately, this only seemed to make the man suspicious, so he offered to come down and help. By the time the band realized they might have been able to bluff him, it was too late.
When the man came down the stairs, Brom took him by surprise and stabbed him in the back, quickly killing him. But despite the unexpected circumstances, Brom still wanted to try and cover the band’s tracks. So he pulled the body out into the sewer system and had Zeke cast a prestidigitation spell to clean up the blood. Brom then dragged the body further into the sewer system were it would not be easily found. He stopped however, when he reached a turn in the sewer tunnel and turned to see what appeared to be four zombies with brooms sweeping up trash. The zombies did not appear to notice Brom or at least they did not seem to mind him. So Brom left the body there and returned to his companions. He told them what he had seen and the band could only wonder if the Sewermen’s and Streetcleaner’s Union was secretly using zombies in their work force. Whatever the case, this was probably something they would have to investigate some other time. For now, they had more important matters to attend to.
With Tadwin now reunited with his bandmates, the four of them stepped into the side cave and looked around. On the wall near where the crystal had been found, they noticed a stone arch where a door might be, but there was no door – only a wall of stone. They then found a small octagonal-shaped depression at the center of this area, and realized the crystal would fit into it perfectly end-wise, much like a key would. So Tadwin inserted the crystal and spoke the phrase in Sueloise:
“Crystal key and door of light, Return me to my castle bright.”
Suddenly, the archway lit up with magical energy and a swirling wall of silvery mist appeared before the band. Believing this to be the gateway to Prism Keep, the band stepped into the portal, one at a time, and found themselves emerging in a silver glen of cloudstuff. In front of them, about a hundred yards away, they saw a glittering castle rising from the misty cloudbanks.
The castle was made from different types and colors of crystal. Razor-sharp edges, sheets of chiseled glass, and dark, smoky quartz combined with a weird alien beauty. Six great towers arose to spear-like points, each a different color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Directly ahead of them was a clear crystal gate centered between the yellow and green towers. Below them, their feet disappeared into a silvery mist.
As the band began to approach the castle, they noted that the unseen ground on which they walked felt firm and yet slightly spongy. Curious also was the fact that the horizon on all sides did not appear to be far away, as if they were high upon a large plateau. Looking behind them, they saw that the misty portal continued to swirl inside a similar stone archway for about a minute after the portal first opened. Then the mist disappeared, though the arch remained in its place. Once the gate was apparently closed, Tadwin noticed that the inscription on the crystal key had altered. It now read:
“Crystal key and door of light, Send me to the realm of might.”
Hopefully, this phrase would allow the band to return to their home. Now, however, they wanted to have a look at the castle. So they continued towards the crystal gate in front of them. But about halfway there, they saw two creatures quickly bounding through the mists and headed directly at them. The creatures appeared to be emaciated panthers with blue-black fur, six legs, and bodies that were nothing but muscle and bone. A pair of tentacles sprouted from their shoulders and ended in horny-ridged pads. These creatures were known as displacer beasts, and they were unusually large ones at that.
The displacer beasts attacked the band, and while they did not pose a serious threat to the band, the band did have some difficulty with them as the beasts had the ability to appear in places they were not. Thus they were very difficult to hit. As a result, the band received several injuries before they were able to defeat the creatures. One of the creatures they killed and the other Zeke polymorphed into a rabbit.
A short while later, the band was standing before what appeared to be the castle’s main gate. The doors were delicate curtains of clear crystal some twenty feet high, flanked by cascading sheets of dark, glittering glass. To their left and right, the yellow and green spires flanked the gate. However, they could see no handles, hinges or seams in the crystal gates, only a shining rune in the form of a sunburst, which Zeke recognized as the symbol of Alarius.
Assuming there must be a pass phrase or some kind of special procedure to follow in order to open the doors, the band tried several things short of trying to force the doors open. But nothing they tried had any effect on the doors. So they decided to look around and see if there was another way in.
Moving counter-clockwise, the band began to circle the castle and walked by both the green and then the blue spire. As they came around the blue spire, to what they believed to be the northeast corner of the castle, they saw that there was a patio of red crystal attached to the purple spire and a wall about four feet high that surrounded it. Looking over the wall, the band saw a door that appeared to open up into a space between the blue and purple spires. The band approached the patio hoping to gain access there. But as they got nearer, an awful stench greeted them and they saw heaps of ragged, broken furniture and ripped up, matted down pillows at the far end of the patio.
Then, just as they got to the wall, several roars suddenly split the air as two enraged creatures emerged from behind the debris. Both monsters had wings and the body and head of a lion. But each also had the head of a blue dragon and a black goat on either side of their feline heads. Some members of the band recognized the creatures from legends as chimeras.
Realizing the chimeras were about to attack, Brom ducked behind the wall to avoid their breath weapons. But one of the monsters flew over the wall and breathed out a lightning bolt aimed at both Brom and Corvyn. Still Brom managed to dodge out of the way. The other chimera was hit by one of Tadwin’s glitterdust spells and was momentarily blinded. Nevertheless, it too flew out over the wall, blindly breathed out a lightning bolt, and with some luck, managed to strike Tadwin with it. The band then closed in on one of the chimeras, and despite taking a few hits and bites from it, they were able to kill it. The second chimera Zeke again polymorphed into a rabbit.
After healing up their injuries, the band climbed over the wall and looked around. Searching through the chimeras’ lair they found many coins, a gem and a jeweled and magical hammer. Brom then took a look at the door and found that it was a superior lock. But despite the difficulty, he eventually managed to pick it. The band was then able to enter the castle through this back door.
Once inside, they found themselves in a large, open antechamber with a number of doors leading to other rooms. The floor was of polished marble, and elegant tapestries hung from the walls. Sunlight streamed in through the transparent crystal ceiling. Two suits of armor with battle axes in their mailed fists stood beside large, impressive double doors to the north.
As the band was considering which way to go from there, a door to the southwest opened up and in stepped a male half-elf dressed in chainmail, with a shield at his back and a mace at his side. The man was clearly startled by the band’s unexpected presence, but he recovered quickly and asked the band who they were and whether or not Irinia had sent for them. They tried to bluff him and told him that Irinia had indeed sent for them. But the man was clearly suspicious and asked why he was not informed. Reaching for his shield and mace the man slowly backed away, saying he would look into the matter. The man then realized that the band was about to attack him and he tried to make a run for it. He managed to open the door behind him and call out an alert for the guards before the band pounced on him and killed him.
The band quickly pulled his body back into the room and closed the door. While some members of the band began to prepare for an attack, others hastily examined the body of the man, finding that he had symbol on a chain around his neck that no one recognized. His chainmail and mace were both magical.
About a minute passed as the band cast preparatory spells on themselves and waited for the expected attack. Then they heard the sound of booted feet coming from beyond the door through which the man had entered. When the door opened up, they saw three men and a woman, all dressed for battle and standing in a great courtyard of misty gray glass, what appeared to be the center of the castle. The band immediately attacked and Tadwin cast a spell that created a spiked pit some forty feet deep. All but one of the men fell into the pit and were effectively taken out of the battle. Corvyn then came at the man and struck him with a mighty blow.
The lone man, realizing his dire situation called out to his companions, asking if they were okay. One of them he called by the name of Tukares, and when he did the band then realized that Tukares was the missing caravan guard they had heard about. In fact, all of their names sounded familiar to Tadwin. The lone man then attempted a desperate maneuver and tried to push Corvyn back into the pit. Clearly practiced at such a maneuver, he almost succeeded, managing to push Corvyn back several feet. But Corvyn was able to step to the side and avoided falling into the pit.
Though the lone man was clearly a very experienced fighter, he had little hope against all four members of the band and soon he was taken down. Unsure of what was really happening, however, the band quickly staunched the fallen warrior’s bleeding and kept him from dying.
Meanwhile, in the pit, some of the warriors there attempted to climb out. Two of these warriors were badly wounded in the effort and thereafter stopped trying. But the third warrior, an archer and huntsman by the name of Shevarin Arrowsong, managed to climb out of the pit. But upon doing so, he was struck by Corvyn and killed. When the band then tried to save his life, they found there was nothing they could do for him – he was already dead.
The band then had a brief moment to look around while they waited for Tadwin’s pit trap spell to expire. Beneath their feet, they now realized they were standing on a misty gray sheet of glass which they could see through. There they saw below them that the surrounding clouds had thinned to the point of transparency. And they could see a range of mountains, thousands of feet below them, slowly drifting by as if they were standing on thin air. It was a somewhat unnerving experience. Only now did the band come to realize that Prism Keep was suspended in a cloud high above a foreign landscape.
Looking about the courtyard, they saw that it was octagonal in shape and appeared to be about one hundred feet across. Several doors led into the castle from this central area. In the middle of the court was a smaller octagonal depression about seventy feet across. The crystal floor was a little darker in the depression. The purpose of the sunken area eluded the band, but there was a small pedestal of some kind in its exact center. A few comfortable benches, flowering plants in large urns, and pieces of statuary were scattered around the perimeter of the courtyard, but none within the sunken area.
Eventually, Tadwin’s spell wore off, and when it did, the two badly wounded warriors within it rose back up to the level of the courtyard. Now aware of their difficult situation, the man, Tukares, and the swordswoman, Daranal Trenn, resigned in defeat and surrendered to the band.