Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess
Part One - Chapter Sixteen: The Unexpected Twists of Fate
It was shortly before midnight, on Freeday, the 28th day of Harvester, in the Common Year of 580, when the Company of the Green Dragon made their second assault on the hook horrors in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, this time with much more success than on their initial attempt. After killing twenty-three of the huge monsters, there was a pause in the battle. So the band took a moment then to heal up using their wands of healing, as all of their healing spells had by this time been expended. But the break in the battle did not last for long. As Brom was about to do some more scouting about invisibly, ten more of the hook horrors came charging towards them from two passageways. Among these were the hook horrors that had previously been wounded in the first battle, as well as what appeared to be the leaders of the tribe judging by their size. Despite the heavy losses these creatures had already suffered they continued to throw themselves into the fray with wild abandon. Any place else, this reckless behavior might have been seen as very uncharacteristic. But in the ruins of the War Tower, where the very air was fraught with the tension brought on by the struggles between Vaprak and Nerull, it was becoming commonplace. Still, in the case of the hook horrors, there seemed to be something more to it than mere tension. For the hook horrors appeared to be frantic, almost hysterical with rage. This went beyond even the slaughter they had recently been dealt at the hands of the Company of the Green Dragon. It seemed that something else even more disturbing had gotten the hook horrors into such a frenzy. Using much of the same tactics as earlier, the band was able to kill most of the hook horrors, though not without receiving some injuries in return. The last of the hook horrors, presumably the tribe’s leader, Zeke polymorphed into a harmless, albeit aggressive, rabbit using a wand recently acquired from the Shapechengers. Although the rabbit appeared to retain the mind of a hook horror, Brom was able to pounce on it and stuff it into an empty sack, which prompted more than a few jokes, not to mention a few suggestions on what they might do with such a vicious rabbit. With the last of the hook horrors apparently defeated, the band was again in need of rest and healing. So, as before, the band retreated to the dining hall where they had stayed previously with no difficulties. It was about half past nine the next morning, on Starday, the 1st of Brewfest, when the band was ready to continue on. Brom scouted ahead invisibly as usual, and when he came to the first hook horror cavern he was surprised to find ten zombies roaming about in the cave. Shouting out a warning to his companions, he then moved further into the caves, knowing full well that they would dispatch the zombies with ease. As expected, Corvyn waded into the zombies and began cutting them down with broad sweeps of his greatsword. Then Kelgor stepped up behind him and sent out a wave of positive energy which nearly destroyed any zombies remaining. After taking down the last of these zombies, the band moved into the chamber containing twelve more zombies and twelve skeletons that Brom had discovered previously. Here again, Corvyn quickly carved a path into the midst of the undead and Kelgor followed him in. Two waves of positive energy then destroyed all but one zombie, which was then quickly cut down. As his companions were busy destroying the mindless undead, Brom snuck even further into the hook horror’s caves, and there began to find clues as to what had caused the hook horrors such distress. Several of the hook horrors had been killed by something very big using only its claws and teeth, and whatever it was, it had to be very formidable to have done such damage. Thoughts of the monster unleashed by Vaprak came to mind, but the claw marks were different and this attack on the hook horrors had been much more recent. After passing through a few of the cavern chambers, Brom noted the sound of his companions battling the undead had come to a stop. So he doubled back and met up with them again, and there he described what he had found. But instead of turning back in the direction of the hook horrors’ lair, the band decided instead to follow another natural passageway that led in the opposite direction. This passageway snaked around and came to a couple of intersections. At the first intersection, Brom, again scouting ahead, left a mark for his companions, and headed in the direction from which he could hear the sound of water flowing. At the next intersection, just prior to reaching the underground stream, Brom spotted a section of ceiling that was unusually black and large. Concerned that this might be something dangerous, he waited a safe distance for his companions. When Tadwin saw it, he suspected it might be a black pudding or some other similar underground menace. So the band, realizing that weapons would probably not be the best means of dealing with such a creature, prepared to attack it with fire. They launched a few fire spells at it but unfortunately they did not anticipate its’ ability to leap from the ceiling and it suddenly pounced and landed on Tadwin. The creature’s acidic touch burned Tadwin, but thanks to Tadwin’s ring of freedom of movement, the creature was not able to grapple him, and it quickly slid off onto the floor of the passageway. Using spells, alchemical fire, and burning oil, the band continued to attack it. The black pudding only managed to get one more attack, striking Brom with a pseudopod, burning him and causing damage to some of his equipment, before it finally succumbed to the flames. After healing up a bit, the band continued on and found the underground stream which, as the band had earlier been informed, was a source of food and water for the ogre-kin. Large fish of some kind could be seen swimming about in the stream. On the opposite side of the stream was a collapsed passageway that did not appear to be worth the effort to try and clear as it looked as if it had been created by a large burrowing creature, perhaps whatever it was that had attacked the hook horrors. The upper end of the stream emerged from a completely water-filled tunnel. So without any means of breathing under water, travel in that direction would have been very risky. In the opposite direction, the stream came to a waterfall that dropped hundreds of feet and well beyond any light source the band had. It did travel in the direction of the other two towers, but without any means flying, or safely scaling the slippery rock wall, travel in that direction would also be very risky. So the band turned back and continued to explore the winding natural passageways. Eventually, Brom came upon a cave occupied by almost a dozen giant frogs the size of large dogs. Because Brom was once again invisible and moving silently, the giant frogs did not detect his presence and Brom decided it was not worth the group’s effort to fight them. He then doubled back and told his companions about the giant frogs, and they agreed with him. Bypassing the cave with the giant frogs, the band’s only other apparent option was to return to the caves where the hook horrors had laired. Back in these caves, the rest of the band got a look at what Brom had already seen, the hook horrors that had recently been killed by something other than the band. From here they continued on past the point at which Brom had turned back, and came to a cavern that had clearly served, until very recently, as the hook horror’s hatchery. All of it had been destroyed and what remained of the hook horror’s offspring was scattered about like it had been struck by a tremendous storm. This was clearly what had upset the hook horror’s so much. But whatever had caused this devastation, the band could only guess – that is, until they moved about half way into the cave. Then suddenly it all became too obvious, as a huge monster suddenly emerged from a recently carved passageway on the far side of the chamber. Larger than anything the band had ever seen before, this monstrosity had enormous claws and teeth and somewhat resembled a shark with four legs and a tough natural armor over most of its body. Corvyn rushed up to the monster and began hacking away at it and Kelgor soon followed, while the other members of the band repositioned themselves or took defensive measures. The monster, a living, breathing killing machine known as a bulette, then struck back and tore savagely into Corvyn, wounding him badly. But the band fought on, though they did little to slow it down. It was at this point then, when band suffered their first major loss. For the bulette came at Corvyn again, and this time it tore him to shreds, nearly ripping his body in two. But the bulette did not stop there. After callously tossing Corvyn’s dead body aside it then leaped through the air and landed on Zeke, where it began tearing into him. The bulette was now on the verge of killing yet another member of the band. But fortunately, by this point, the bulette was badly wounded itself. So before it could take its second victim, Kelgor ran up behind the beast and landed the killing blow that finally put an end to the monster. When the battle was over, only then did the band realize that there was nothing that could be done for Corvyn, except to try and have him raised from the dead. So they healed up those they could, and took a look around to see if there was anything worth taking. In a nearby cave, they found a bit of treasure which had apparently been stashed away by the hook horrors. They also looked down the tunnel from which the bulette had emerged and found that it connected up to the lift room that they had seen previously from above. It was not occupied by anyone and there was another lift that could be lowered to the level below. But clearly, now was not the time to explore any further. Instead, they carried Corvyn’s body back to the dining hall where the band’s henchmen were waiting on them. There they rested another eight hours or so until about half past seven in the evening, to insure they were prepared for the trek back to the city. During this time, they polymorphed the owlbear they had befriended into a dog in order to make it easier to take into the city. They then used a levitate spell to get Corvyn’s body up the elevator shaft and Ashba created a magical floating disc on which to carry his body back to the city. Any treasure the band had found on this excursion into the ruins was easily concealed in their magical backpacks, so none of it was given to the dwarves who guarded the tower. It was an uneventful trip back to the city and they arrived there at about half past one in the morning of Sunday, the 2nd day of Brewfest. They had to enter the city through the Cargo Gate, due to the lateness of the hour, and from there headed immediately to the pawnshop. Following a night of rest, the band’s first task for the day was to try and find someone who could raise Corvyn from the dead. There were a number of people they knew who could do it – for a hefty fee. But they hit upon the idea of asking the Chief Constable, Derider Fanshen if she would do it for free, considering the favors the band had recently done, such as uncovering the plans for an invasion of Greyhawk. So, at about half past eleven, the band set out for the Grand Citadel where they soon got an audience with the constable. Derider, perhaps the most charitable member of the Directing Oligarchy, agreed to do it, provided the band paid for the material component of the spell. Unfortunately, they would need to return the next day, as she did not have the proper spell currently prepared. After speaking with Derider, the band, using Tadwin’s henchman Nikki as a contact, went to the gladiatorial arena known as the Pit and spoke with the manager of the Pit, Pietain Morvannis. Zeke then made a deal with him and sold their polymorphed hook horror/rabbit for 8,000 gp, most of which would be used to pay Derider for the casting of spells to bring Corvyn back to life. With this bit of business done, and now that he was experienced enough to do it, the band wanted Kelgor to cast speak with dead spells on the corpses of the members of the Shapechangers, to see if they could discover who the fourth member of the group was, and to learn the whereabouts of the lair of the drow in the group, Clannair Blackshadow. So the band visited the Common Crypt in the Thieves’ Quarter where the bodies were held and there Kelgor attempted to speak with the spirits of Clannair and Tarnek McGloogan. Unfortunately, neither spell worked. So they would have to return in a week to make another attempt. Over the next several days, the band continued to take care of personal matters, while Brom and Tadwin spent much of their time studying. On Moonday the 3rd, Derider was able to bring Corvyn back to life and followed this up with a spell that would help to restore his health. That same day, Kelgor cast a speak with dead spell on the corpse of the wizard Harral and again met with no success. During this time, the owlbear, which by now not only looked like a dog but had begun acting like one, was given to the pawnshop’s clerk Emery to take care of. And Tadwin began scrying on Hieronymous Spune and found him wandering about in a swamp somewhere. Also, much to the band’s delight, Derider Fanshen announced to the band that the Directing Oligarchy had decided to award ownership of the pawnshop to the band as a reward for informing them of the invasion plans on the city. On Sunday, the 2nd day of Patchwall, Kelgor made two more attempts with speak with dead spells. The first one, cast on the corpse of Tarnek, finally worked. Unfortunately, Tarnek’s spirit could not provide them with the answers they sought. However, the spell on Clannair worked as well, and this time they got the answers they were looking for. The band then learned that Clannair’s lair was hidden somewhere in the Lord’s Tomb, which was where the wealthy citizens of Greyhawk were buried. It was also rumored to be guarded by powerful undead. As for the fourth member of the Shapechangers, according to Clannair, it was none other than Imogen Gellett, the barmaid at the Green Dragon Inn. This was a bit of a shock to Tadwin, who had taken a liking to Imogen and did not want to believe it. To make matters worse, Tadwin was even more dumbfounded when Kelgor suggested that Imogen may have been the person responsible for stealing Tadwin’s money pouch.