Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess

Part One - Chapter Fourteen: The Shapechangers

It was in the afternoon of Moonday, the 24th day of Harvester, in the Common Year of 580, when Tadwin of the Company of the Green Dragon heard from Elstar of the Champions of Valor, that two of Elstar’s companions had disappeared mysteriously, one each on the two previous nights and both following visits to the Green Dragon Inn. Tadwin then told Elstar that he and his band mates would visit the Green Dragon Inn that night to investigate the matter.

When Tadwin later on told his companions that he had offered to help the Champions of Valor with their latest dilemma, some of them were, to put it mildly, less than enthusiastic to aid any band associated with Valen Rowendale. But Tadwin told them he wanted to do it more as a favor to Elstar, whom he had come to regard as a friend. Tadwin was then able to convince the other band members to help in the matter and they were soon making plans to visit the Green Dragon Inn.

They also invited along their newly acquired friends whom they had rescued from the ruins on the previous day, as it would give them an opportunity to get better acquainted with them and discuss their future arrangements, for it had been decided by the band to accept them as henchmen. All seven of the recently rescued prisoners were very grateful to the band, both for their lives and for their freedom, and were eager to become a part of a band of adventurers for which they had a great deal of admiration. It took little time then for each of the seven newfound friends to decide which member of the band most interested them and to whom they wished to offer their services.

Jamis was a skilled archer, and though his fighting style differed greatly from Corvyn’s, he was drawn to the big burly warrior for his obvious skill in battle. Nikki, easily the most experienced of the seven, was an up and coming gladiator, familiar with the arena in Greyhawk known as the Pit, but also possessing some skill in the stealthier arts and certain knowledge of the Thieves’ Guild and their ways. He, on the other hand, was drawn to the band’s wizard Tadwin, whom he felt complimented his own abilities and whose powers he was very impressed with.

Ashba, the female elven wizard who specialized in evocation magic, was, much like Nikki, strangely drawn to a member of the band who was in some ways her opposite in skills, the rogue-alchemist Brom, most likely because his skills often complimented hers, but also because he had a mysterious dark side to him that she found oddly fascinating. The gnome illusionist Thiedge was easily charmed by the very charismatic sorcerer-oracle Zeke, who had a natural ability for magic for which he felt great envy. And finally, the three dwarven fighters, Bingo, Bongo and Bono were naturally drawn to Kelgor, who was not only a warrior himself, but also a spiritual leader of dwarves.

In addition to these seven, the band was joined by Ashba’s fiancé, an elven fighter by the name of Taylif. Taylif, it seemed, had not been among those who were captured by the ogre-kin in the ruins because Ashba, against Taylif’s advice and without his knowledge, had run off with a band of adventurers to seek treasure within the castle ruins. But Taylif was grateful to the band for her safe return and rewarded the band as she had claimed he would. Nevertheless, it now seemed apparent that Taylif felt compelled to keep a close eye on Ashba, though the band was uncertain, at this point, how he felt about her joining up with another band of adventurers.

Upon arriving at the Green Dragon Inn that evening, the band gathered around one table, while their new friends gathered around another one nearby. It appeared to be a typical night at the inn with the typical crowd shuffling in. The well-known bard Rohnam, whose popularity seemed to grow by the day, was providing some entertainment as usual, and the lovely young barmaid, Imogen, soon came around to offer them drinks. Shortly after their arrival, Rohnam took note of the band and announced to the crowd on hand that he had heard that the band had done a couple of very successful forays into the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and teasingly suggested that the band pick up the tab for the next round of drinks for everyone in the barroom, to which the crowd cheerfully responded in agreement. But while the bard’s suggestion was seemingly made in jest, and though the band reacted with polite stoicism, some even managing to display a playful grin and a nod to the bard, most members of the band did not care for the unsolicited proclamation of their recently acquired wealth. However, once it became obvious that the band was not about to follow through with the bard’s suggestion, the crowd soon appeared to forget the bard’s announcement and returned to their conversations and various other distractions.

After a while, Tadwin began asking a few familiar faces about the circumstances around the disappearances of Riordan and Rimian. He started with the proprietor of the inn, Ricard Damaris, once an adventurer himself and often a good source of information. Ricard told Tadwin that two nights before, when the Champions of Valor had visited the inn, Riordan the bard had stayed until closing time flirting with Imogen, whom he then apparently left with. On the following night, again with the Champions of Valor all present at the inn, with the exception of Riordan, Rimian the rogue investigator spoke with several people, asking about Riordan. The last person he was seen talking to was an elf wearing dark blue robes, a yellow scarf and a purple conical hat. The two of them left around midnight and hadn’t been seen since.

Tadwin then spoke with Rohnam and Imogen, both of whom confirmed everything that Ricard had told him. Imogen added that when she left with Riordan two nights before, he walked her to her home, which was at a boarding house known as the Black Orchid located in the Thieves’ Quarter. As was her usual routine, they had to exit the city through the Cargo Gate, walk around to the south side of the city, and re-enter the city through the Highway Gate, since the more direct route through the Black Gate was, of course, closed at that time of the night. She said that upon arriving at her home, Riordan left her at the front door of the boarding house and, to the best of her knowledge, walked home alone.

When Tadwin repeated to the rest of the band, some of the information he had gathered, Brom found the description of the elf to be interesting because he knew of a man with a goatee who lived across the hall from him in his boarding house, whom he had also seen on several occasions wearing identical clothes of the same exact mismatched colors. Because of this, this neighbor of Brom’s quickly became the focus of the band’s investigation. So, while Tadwin continued to gather information at the Green Dragon Inn, Brom headed to his home, which was at Mama Esther’s Bakery and Boarding House, also located in the Thieves’ Quarter. As it was still early in the night, Brom found that his neighbor was not at home and managed to pick the lock on his door. Once inside, Brom found a number of interesting clues.

He soon learned that the man’s name was Harral Shastri and judging by the books found in a bookshelf, which included a spellbook, Harral was apparently a wizard who specialized in transmutation magic. This, of course, could explain how Harral might make himself appear to be an elf. Brom also found a ledger with a list of names for people he had apparently done business with. One of the names that seemed to come up frequently was a business called Halric’s Exotic Pets. He also found a number of receipts and various other pieces of parchment that seemed to indicate that Harral spent much of his time visiting some of the finer establishments in the High Quarter and the Garden Quarter, such as the Wheel of Gold Gambling House, the exclusive Patricians’ Club and a luxury inn called the Golden Phoenix. Armed with this information, Brom returned to the Green Dragon Inn where he told his companions what he had found.

Tadwin and Zeke then decided to go and visit some of these places to see if they could find Harral and do some spying on him. Tadwin barrowed Brom’s ring of chameleon power and Zeke used his hat of disguise so they could change the appearance of their clothes and blend in better with the wealthier crowd. Their first stop was the Golden Phoenix, where Zeke used his powers of persuasion to learn a few things about Harral. But Harral was not currently at the inn, so they moved on to the Wheel of Gold Gambling House where they soon spotted him at one of the roulette wheels. They watched him for a while but never observed him doing anything worthy of note. Eventually, Harral decided it was time for him to leave the gambling hall, and as he did so Tadwin and Zeke followed him out. But shortly after leaving the gambling house, Harral disappeared behind a crowd of people and mysteriously vanished. Tadwin and Zeke searched diligently for him, even using a see invisibility spell, but could not find him. It became obvious then that Harral must have used some form of magic or possibly a well-concealed door to disappear. So Tadwin and Zeke returned to the Green Dragon Inn.

Meanwhile, at the Green Dragon Inn, those members of the band who had stayed there spotted another person they were familiar with. It was Malagrym, the gladiator they had once fought alongside at the Pit. Corvyn spoke to him briefly and Malagrym told him he was looking for a few men that might be interested in going with him into the Mistmarsh south of the city to see if they could capture a monster to sell to the Pit. He claimed to have a magical device that would make it relatively easy to transport a monster back to the city and said that he had heard rumors about unusually large monsters being seen in the swamps.

Realizing that the Pit would pay a handsome reward for the delivery of an unusually large monster, and that it was yet another excuse for the band to take a trip into the swamps, Corvyn told Malagrym he would suggest the idea to his band mates and that they would consider it. But despite the fact that they now had three fairly good reasons to visit the Mistmarsh, though none of them were all that pressing, the band was still more interested in returning to the castle ruins instead, and, for the time being, declined the offer made by Malagrym.

By the time Tadwin and Zeke returned to the Green Dragon Inn, it was very late at night. And so the band decided to call it a day. In lieu of taking the secret sewer passage into the Old City, since the Black Gate was now closed, Brom rented a room at the Green Dragon Inn and spent the night there.

On the following morning, Godsday the 25th, the band met up once again at the pawnshop and decided to pay a visit to Halric’s Exotic Pets store before going to their scheduled meeting with Constable Derider Fanshen. As crazy as it sounded, the band had come up with the notion that perhaps Harral Shastri was polymorphing the missing adventurers into exotic animals and selling them to the pet store.

At the pet store, the band saw many unusual pets for sale, none of which were very large. However, the most interesting characteristic about the pets was that some of them were revealed to be enchanted somehow when the band detected for magic. This seemed to confirm their suspicions about people who had been polymorphed. But before they could look into the matter much further, it was time for the band to make their way to the Grand Citadel.

A short while later, the band was being questioned by Constable Derider Fanshen who had cast a zone of truth spell to help determine whether or not they were being honest. It did not take long for Derider to come to the conclusion that the rightful owner of the pawnshop, Sennard Porbell, had indeed skipped town a couple of months before, just as the band had claimed he did. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the band had since then put a lot of their own money and effort into the business, according to law, the city had the right to claim the property for its own at this point, and to sell the property off to the highest bidder, which, on the other hand, could be the band members if they chose to take part in the bidding.

Either way, Derider tried to assure the band that they would be compensated for any money they put into the pawnshop. While the band was speaking with the constable, Zeke decided to bring up another matter, and took the opportunity to tell her about the information the band had learned concerning Sental Nurev, the Captain General of the Watch. Eventually it was revealed to Derider that Tadwin had cast a detect thoughts spell on the Captain General and discovered that his brother Sarek was being held prisoner by the rulers of Stoink, a city in the Bandit Kingdoms, and that Sental was being blackmailed into providing information about political decisions in, and the defense of, Greyhawk to an agent in the city by the name of Skandar Gundersson. Derider was clearly surprised to hear about this and cautioned the band that they were making a serious accusation about a well-regarded member of the Directing Oligarchy. Nevertheless, she thanked the band for the information and told them she would look into the matter herself.

In addition to this, the band told Derider all the information they had collected about the threat of invasion from Blackthorn, the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and Mistmarsh. They even agreed to loan to her the map and documents they had found so she could show them to the Directing Oligarchy. Once again, Derider thanked the band for the valuable information and let them go on their way.

With these matters dealt with, the band resumed their investigation into the missing members of the Champions of Valor, and Zeke’s next step was to purchase one of the enchanted pets, a colorful parrot, from the exotic pet store. He then took the bird back to the pawnshop where a successful dispel magic spell turned the parrot back into a very confused dwarf. The dwarf then told the band what he could recall about his most recent memories and about how he had been ambushed one night in a dark alleyway.

Armed with this information, Tadwin tracked down Elstar and told him everything the band had uncovered about the mystery of his missing friends. And at this point, the band seriously considered letting the remaining members of the Champions of Valor deal with the matter from that point on. Still, some members of the band were apparently not satisfied with the outcome as it currently stood and wanted to see the investigation through to a more satisfactory conclusion.

So the band came up with a plan and got their henchmen involved. Believing the wizard Harral Shastri to be the only real threat to them, the band decided to split themselves up into smaller groups of two or three and stake out several locations within the city that evening, in the hopes of spotting him and observing him. As it turned out, this plan did work to a certain degree, for one of the groups did manage to find Harral. Unfortunately, they ended up stumbling into a lot more than they had bargained for, or were prepared for.

Zeke, who was with his henchman, Thiedge, and one of the dwarves, Bingo, were scouting out the Wheel of Gold Gambling House, when they spotted Harral walking towards the gambling hall. Zeke immediately sent Thiedge and Bingo off to find some of the others while he continued to watch Harral. But Harral turned around and left the gambling hall almost immediately. So Zeke tried to get some of the gambling hall’s guards involved by making a scene and claiming that the wizard had robbed him. A couple of the guards chased after the wizard, who took off running. But then the wizard cast a spell and suddenly disappeared. When Zeke caught up to the area where Harral had vanished he then found himself being attacked by the wizard who reappeared and began casting spells at him. Zeke cast a few spells back at the wizard, such as a web spell. But neither spellcaster was able to affect the other until after a few spells had been cast, at which point, Zeke was suddenly transformed into a small and relatively harmless dog.

A few minutes later, Tadwin and Kelgor arrived at the scene, with Bingo trying to catch up. They quickly learned from nearby on-lookers that Zeke had been turned into a dog and that the wizard responsible had then grabbed the dog and once again disappeared. At this point, what had previously been an investigation to simply aid another band had now turned into a mission to rescue one of their own. Believing that Harral would probably return to his home in the Thieves’ Quarter, Tadwin and Kelgor quickly headed south through the city. Along the way they ran into Corvyn, Jamis, Thiedge, Bongo and Bono, and they briefly explained what had happened. Then Tadwin and Kelgor, who could move much faster than the others, ran on ahead, leaving Corvyn and the henchmen behind. A few minutes later, shortly after passing through the Garden Gate, Corvyn and the henchmen then found themselves under attack.

Once again, it was the wizard Harral Shastri. But this time it was discovered that Harral was not acting alone. The other attacker appeared to be a dark elf, and the two of them began casting spells at Corvyn and the henchmen. During the brief battle, Harral blasted them with a lightning bolt spell, which dropped Thiedge and badly wounded Corvyn, Bingo and Bono. Sensing that Corvyn, who took the brunt of the spell, was about to go down as well, Harral then used a wand to cast a magic missile spell and knocked him unconscious. The situation then looked very grim for the henchmen. But thankfully a number of city guards, drawn by the sound of the lightning bolt, began to arrive at the scene and the two enemy spellcasters were forced to flee.

Tadwin and Kelgor had heard the lightning bolt go off also and they quickly doubled back, arriving in time to tend to the wounded and dying. After Kelgor expended all his powers healing up the band’s injuries, the band then took their time gathering up the remaining members of the band and met up at Brom’s home in the boarding house. There, it appeared that Harral never did return to his home. In fact, after Brom snuck back into Harral’s room it was discovered that his spellbook was missing. So Brom contacted a number of his beggar friends and put the word out that he was looking for Harral. They then contacted Valen Rowendale and the Champions of Valor to let them know what had occurred. Realizing that Harral and his accomplice were far more powerful than the band could safely deal with, they wanted to get as many allies involved as they could. They also wanted to track down the two spellcasters that night if possible, while the two villains were low on spells.

About an hour or so later, Brom’s contacts came through with an important bit of information. Harral Shastri had been seen just a short while before, with another darkly dressed individual at a warehouse in the River Quarter. This warehouse was owned by a very imposing man by the name of Tarnek McGloogan. Tarnek, in addition to being a big and muscular brute, was also said to be an experienced adventurer who was known to have killed several giants in his career. If Tarnek was in league with Harral, and it was very likely that he was, this made them a very formidable group indeed. Unfortunately, almost nothing was known about the dark elf, which may have made him the most dangerous one of the bunch. Whatever the case, the band was glad to have any allies they could muster against them.

A short while later, the remaining members of the Company of the Green Dragon, their henchmen including Taylif, and the remaining members of the Champions of Valor, were all gathered outside Tarnek’s warehouse formulating a plan. Tadwin cast a clairvoyance spell and observed Harral, Tarnek and the drow talking together while nearby sat a small dog in a cage, which they assumed to be Zeke. After agreeing upon a plan, they all took their places outside the three obvious entrances into the warehouse and waited for the signal. Then they all busted in and attacked.

A silence spell cast by Caleb of the Champions helped to insure that the enemy spellcasters would not easily get a spell off. Their biggest threat then was Tarnek who wielded a magical greatsword and was quite deadly with it. Fortunately he was not able to get many swings with his sword before falling under the combined attacks of his enemies. Harral likewise was taken down fairly quickly as he was unable to get a spell off.

The dark elf was the last to fall, as he focused on trying to make an escape. But Brom and Ashba cut off his retreat by coming at him from the rear. Though he managed to move outside the silenced area, he too was unable to get a spell off without it being disrupted, and though his sword was coated with poison, it had no effect on Brom who had a high resistance to poisons. Like his two accomplices, the drow was eventually cornered and dropped by one of Brom’s deadly sneak attacks.

When the battle was over, Valen thanked the band for their assistance and told the band they could have all the spoils of the victory. Then he and his two band members departed to go in search of their missing companions. On the bodies of their fallen foes, the band found several magic items and a couple of spellbooks, one of which revealed the name of the dark elf to be Clannair Blackshadow. After gathering these items, and anything else of value found on them, they grabbed Zeke, still in the form of a small dog, and headed back to the pawnshop.

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