Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess
Part One - Chapter Six: Bath Time for the Hopping Prophet
It was on Earthday, the 28th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 580, when the Company of the Green Dragon discovered the dwarven gemcutter, Dorshak Krane, hiding out in a secret room in his attic, and soon afterwards, turned him over to the Jewelers and Gemcutters’ Guild. In the process, the band also stole from the dwarf a fortune in coins and gems and managed to appease the Thieves’ Guild by giving them a certain percentage of the stolen wealth. With the Thieves’ Guild now off their backs and more money in their pouches than they thought possible at this point, the band decided to take some time off to deal with a few personal matters and to enjoy some of their newfound wealth. But they realized that they needed to be cautious about how they spent their money, as most of it was actually in the form of amethysts which would look very suspicious if these gems suddenly turned up on the open market where certain guilds and the local authorities might become aware of their presence. Because of this, none of the amethysts were used to pay for anything bought by the band for quite some time. Initially, it was the band’s intention to take just a few days off. But on the second day, Corvyn came down with a severe case of filth fever, no doubt contracted during the band’s recent visit to the city’s sewer system. As a result, the band was forced to take a week off while Kelgor tended to him in his sick bed. But it allowed the other band members enough time to tend to several matters. Tadwin, for example was able to learn a few more spells and Brom spent much of the time in his alchemy lab brewing potions and learning more of his father’s craft. At the beginning of the week it had already been five days since Porbell, the owner of the pawnshop, had left town, if in fact that is what he actually did, and by then the band was beginning to suspect that he might not ever return. With this possibility in mind, the band started discussing what they might do if Porbell did not return, for they saw the pawnshop as being a potential base of operations for them as well as a place for them to sell unwanted magic items at a decent price. But, if they were going to do this, they realized they would need to put some money into the shop first. So they each chipped in a share of their wealth and went out and bought some items that they could turn around and sell to other customers. Obviously they were not going to make any money from this initially, and in fact they might even lose some money. But they needed to reestablish a customer base and have these people spread the word that Porbell’s Pawnshop was back in business. Once the band had restocked the shop with a respectable amount of quality inventory, their next task was to hire on a fulltime clerk to watch over the store when the band was away. So, during the remaining days they interviewed a number of potential employees, making sure to incorporate a few divination spells in the process, and eventually made the decision to hire on someone they felt they could trust. His name was Emery Grimshaw, he was a thin, balding man in his mid-thirties, and while he often appeared to have a soft-spoken and bookish demeanor, he had a keen eye for recognizing the value of things and could be a shrewd businessman. He also did not have any qualms with business transactions that might seem less than ethical, which suited the band just fine. The band offered to pay him the usual going rate for his employment, plus room and board, and they emptied out a room on the first floor for him in the pawnshop, while making sure to reserve the entire second floor for themselves. Kelgor also offered to pay for certain upgrades to make the pawnshop more secure than it had been previously, and the rest of the band pitched in for a heavy and well-locked strongbox to store the band’s extra wealth. As further precautions, the band began paying the Thieves’ Guild protection money and paid the Guild of the Nightwatchmen to guard the pawnshop at night. By the end of the week off, at which point Porbell still had not returned, it looked more and more as if he never would, and that all the time, effort and money put into the pawnshop by the band would indeed be well worth it. But the band was now so convinced that Porbell would not be coming back, that they had not given much thought to what they might do if Porbell suddenly and unexpectedly reappeared. Towards the end of the week, once Corvyn was feeling better, the band decided to pay a visit once again to the Green Dragon Inn to finally celebrate their recent good fortunes. Unfortunately, not all went as well as they had hoped. The evening started out well enough however, as they ran into several of the regulars that they had often before seen at the inn. In addition to Ricard Damaris, the inn’s proprietor, and Imogen Gellet, the lovely barmaid who typically waited on them, there was the bard Manhorr who by now had become a local favorite and was quite well-known in the River Quarter and parts beyond. Many other familiar faces, which shall go unnamed, were in attendance as well. But among these were the so-called Champions of Valor led by their rival Valen Rowendale. At one point, the band overheard a conversation concerning the most recent exploits of Valen’s gang which had accepted an assignment to guard the leader of a political party as he made his way around the city on his campaign stops. This leader was known as Hector the Marvelous Talking Goat and it seems he was running for a seat on the city council. As humorous as this may have sounded to the band, the story was made all the more amusing when it was revealed that, while touring the city, Hector the talking goat was kidnapped by an apprentice mage named Darred Hebbren and a sizable band of small humanoids known as tasloi. By all accounts, the tale was cause for much laughter as Valen and his men recounted their mad scramble to rescue the talking goat. Towards the end of the evening however, when the band went to pay their tab, Tadwin discovered that his money pouch was missing. He immediately cast a locate object spell on his money pouch and soon afterwards found it lying in the alleyway behind the inn. It was empty. Fortunately, Tadwin had made a point of leaving the majority of his wealth at the pawnshop, so he only lost about a hundred gold pieces in coins. On the following day, while talking to acquaintances at the Wizard’s Guild, Tadwin learned that other people had likewise had their money pouches stolen while visiting the Green Dragon Inn. It was finally on Starday, the 8th day of Goodmonth, when Corvyn’s health was fully restored and so it was on that day that the band dove into their next adventure. For the two previous weeks, the band had been hearing rumors about terrorist activity within the Foreign Quarter, which was attributed to the followers of Wastri, the Hopping Prophet. By the end of these two weeks, these terrorist activities had reached epidemic proportions, and despite a large contingent of the City Watch and the military being posted there, the terrorists had not been stopped. The authorities posted a 300 gp reward for the apprehension of the villains responsible. So the Company of the Green Dragon decided to look into the matter. The terrorist activities included drive-by shootings with poisoned arrows launched from stolen wagons and carts, arson attacks on local temples, and the kidnapping of local merchants. It was soon discovered that the terrorists were led by a man named Heironymous Spune, a cleric of Wastri, who demanded that the city authorities construct a magnificent temple dedicated to Wastri and the institution of a public holiday to honor the Hopping Prophet. All of this was thought to be Spune’s revenge on the people of the Free City of Greyhawk for their, or rather Zagig’s, imprisonment of his beloved Wastri in Greyhawk Castle many, many decades before. The band began their investigation by questioning various residents of the Foreign Quarter, who were most often the victims of Spune’s attacks due to the large number of demi-humans there and Wastri’s disliking for demi-humans. The band concentrated their questions on the victims and possible eye-witnesses to the attacks, but they could not find much in the way of patterns that the City Watch had not already looked into. One clue that they did have however, was that Spune’s accomplices appeared to be small, frog-like humanoids which probably preferred or even required a wet environment for much of their existence. The sewer system or the stream that ran through the city seemed like obvious places to look. But the band was not particularly anxious to return to the sewers and the City Watch had already scoured the areas around the stream. So the band decided to follow the advice of Zeke’s friend Daerok, and go and visit with the proprietor of the Black Dragon Inn, which was situated just outside the Foreign Quarter. According to rumors, Miklos Dare was the most knowledgeable man in town, at least when it came to rumors and odd facts about the city and its people. When they spoke to him and put forth the idea that the terrorists might be based in an abandoned building capable of sustaining aquatic life, somewhere in the Foreign Quarter, Miklos suggested they look into the old abandoned bathhouse located in the Foreign Quarter. This sounded like the perfect answer. So the band immediately set out for the bathhouse. By this time, it was about dusk and as the band made their way through the city streets, they found themselves becoming the targets of the next terrorist attack. A covered wagon suddenly came barreling around the corner and headed right for them. As the band did what they could to avoid being trampled by the speeding, horse-drawn wagon, half a dozen crossbow bolts flew out at them. The driver of the wagon, they clearly saw, appeared to be human – probably Heironymous Spune himself. But the beings in the back of the wagon did not look human, and the crossbow bolts were coated with a deadly poison. Unfortunately, the wagon and its passengers were gone before the band had a chance to follow them. But this did not concern them a great deal as it appeared the wagon was heading in the direction of the bathhouse. By the time the band got to the bathhouse, it was dark outside. So the band created a couple of light sources and cautiously entered. Inside the bathhouse, they were attacked by two of the frog-like humanoids which shot more poisoned bolts at them as they hid behind a statue. The band quickly killed them but not before they let out a warning cry. From there the band moved on through a changing room and into what was once the women’s bathing room. Inside this chamber was a large pool full of mud. Shortly after entering this chamber a dozen of the frog-like humanoids jumped out of the mud and attacked. These humanoids, which the band later learned were known as grung, used crossbows and spears. But fortunately, they had not been able to coat their weapons with poison, which was actually secreted from their own skin. The band retreated back through the changing room and into the entry hall where they were better able to control the number of monsters coming at them. Corvyn and Brom took the front line and used the narrow doorways to their advantage, while the others cast spells from the rear. However, unknown to Corvyn and Brom, the others soon found themselves being attacked from the direction of another changing room by four giant frogs, and Heironymous Spune himself. Tadwin did an effective job of hampering the grung with glittering dust spells and knocked the four giant frogs out with a color spray spell. But Spune followed this up with a silence spell that prevented any further spell casting by the band. This forced Kelgor into melee combat with Spune, while Zeke and Tadwin did what they could to dispatch the unconscious frogs. Eventually Spune’s allies were killed and Spune himself ran low on spells, so he turned and fled into what was once the men’s bathing chamber. Kelgor followed him into the bathing chamber, but Spune was nowhere in sight. The other members of the band soon joined Kelgor and they searched around for Spune. But they could not find him. A locate object spell cast by Tadwin then revealed that Spune had escaped through an upper window and that, most likely with the aid of some magic, he was hopping from rooftop to rooftop. The band wanted to pursue him, but quickly realized they would not be able to catch him. As a result, Heironymous Spune made his getaway and he was not seen or heard from again for a very long time. Back inside the bathhouse however, the band found five merchants that had been kidnapped and freed them. They also found a stash of treasure, including a silver statue of Wastri. A detect magic spell then revealed the presence of a few magic items in the pool of mud. So Brom and Corvyn swam about in the mud looking for these items. As they did so, they also located lots of coins, a couple of gems and two gold bracelets. While Brom eventually gave up on searching through the mud, Corvyn continued to do so for three hours. During this time, the five merchants went to the City Watch and reported to them the whereabouts of the terrorists’ hideout. So after a while, the City Watch arrived, including Inspector Brock. The band explained to them all that had taken place, including the fact that Spune had gotten away. Among the members of the City Watch was Corvyn’s old rival, Krieger, who was very amused at seeing Corvyn swimming around in the mud and could not pass up the opportunity to ridicule and laugh at him. Eventually, the band decided they had searched the bathhouse long enough. So they cleaned up as best they could and headed for home, all except Brom and Zeke who stayed at the Green Dragon Inn. The next day, the band donated all the copper coins they had found to the Beggar’s Guild. But since Heironymous Spune was never apprehended, the band was never awarded the 300 gp reward money. They were, however, allowed to keep everything else they found in the bathhouse. Following the adventure with the defeat of the terrorists, the band took eight days off to recuperate and do some more training and studying. Some members of the band needed the time to recover from the poisoned crossbows bolts that had been used against them. On Moonday, the 17th day of Goodmonth, the band then set out for their next adventure. They had heard from Kelgor a few weeks before, a rumor that he had heard from other dwarves at the Barge Inn, that there was a dungeon containing a host of fabulous treasures and a magical fountain that rejuvenates and heals somewhere underground in the Gnarley Forest. It was said to be guarded by a small army of monsters and that if one looked for them one would find the dungeon. This sounded like the kind of adventure that many in the band had dreamed about and with nothing else hindering them, they felt they were now ready for such a quest. Rather than ride their horses to the forest, they decided to take a barge down the Selintan River to the village of One Ford and head into the forest from there. The barge ride, because it could float downstream non-stop, was actually faster than riding horses. So, on the morning of the 19th, they arrived at One Ford. From here, the band made their way towards the village of Five Oaks, taking time to talk with people along the way, whom they had met on their previous visit to the area. Two days later, they arrived at the farmstead of Brannigan, whose family the band had rescued a few weeks before from hobgoblins. They gladly put the band up for the night, and the following day they continued on deeper into the forest. At about midday, they arrived at the village of Five Oaks. There they spent the remainder of the day, restocking supplies and talking to residents of the village about possible sightings of humanoids in the forest. By the end of the next day, they arrived at a farmstead just south of Lockswell’s Manor. And early the day after that, they arrived at Lockswell’s Manor. Lockswell’s Manor, the band had heard, was one of the oldest homesteads in the forest, having grown far beyond the humble beginnings as a woodsman’s cottage, and Lord Lockswell himself was regarded as one of the forest’s most capable rangers. So despite their early arrival at the property, the band felt it would be worth the time to spend the remainder of the day visiting with Lord Lockswell. Lord Lockswell, being a man of great patience and with a fine sense of humor, was very interested in listening to the band as they explained to him their desire to locate the mysterious dungeon in the forest. He told the band that he too felt a growing need to locate the dungeon and that despite the efforts of the Gnarley Forest Rangers, they had had no success. Lord Lockswell explained that he had inherited a great deal of responsibility over the residents of the forest and was usually a very busy man, so he had yet to personally lead a team of men in a search for the dungeon. Clearly, if the dungeon did in fact exist, it was very well concealed and its location was a very well-kept secret. But with the arrival of the Company of the Green Dragon, Lord Lockswell felt this was a good opportunity for him to become more directly involved in the search. So he agreed to go with the band on the following day and use his considerable knowledge and skills to aid them in locating the dungeon. In the meantime, Lord Lockswell introduced the band to his wife, Lady Lockswell, who was of noble blood from the City of Greyhawk and a very accomplished cleric of St. Cuthbert, as well has his family of five grown sons, two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren and a dozen servants. That evening, the band shared a large and very fine dinner with Lockswell and his family. The next morning, on Sunday, the 23rd day of Goodmonth, the Company of the Green Dragon, with Lord Lockswell leading them, the band set out from Lockswell’s Manor. By the end of the day, they had passed through two more farmsteads and arrived at the northern most farmstead on the forest trail. The next day, they set out to the southwest, deeper into the forest and away from any trails. Towards the end of that day, they encountered a band of 15 orcs, which they killed with little difficulty. All of these orcs had tattoos of black thorns, which gave the band their first indication of the name of the dungeon. Lord Lockswell was able to follow the tracks of these orcs which took them deeper into the forest and eventually into a much more dense area of woods. By midday, on the 25th, the band came upon a band of six ogres. Using a well-conceived plan of separating the ogres with an illusion of a unicorn and a combination of ambush tactics, incapacitating spells, and sneak attacks, the band was able to kill the ogres with surprising efficiency. Having dispatched the ogres, the band followed their tracks and soon came upon a very large yarpick thicket. The thorny growth of the thicket was penetrated by a low tunnel carved through the branches, which was concealed with a loose tangle of thorns. Had it not been for Lord Lockswell’s skill at tracking, the band would probably not had been able to find it. Being very cautious, the band made their way through the low tunnel, which the ogres probably had to crawl on hands and knees to get through, until they came upon the rim of a large hole in the ground about thirty feet across. Moss hung over the edge, onto a cracked limestone wall that lined the interior of a shaft, which dropped away to the limits of vision into an inky blackness that waited below. A rope ladder, made from tough vines and using the thickest of the yarpick thorns as rungs, hung down one side of the shaft and likewise disappeared into the darkness far below. At last it appeared, the band had discovered the entrance into the forest dungeon, which among those humanoids who knew of its existence, was known as Blackthorn.