Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess

Part Three - Chapter Twelve: The Hunt for the Black Bard and the Patriarch of Nerull

It was about midday, on Sunday, the 16th day of Readying, in the Common Year of 581, when the Company of the Green Dragon defeated the Cult of the Shriven Sickle. Unfortunately, both Rohnam and Andrade Mirrius managed to get away, at least for the time being.

Realizing that they could still be nearby, the band began an immediate search of the cult’s hideout. Beyond the black curtains, which hung behind the altar in the chapel, the band found a door. It opened into a room that initially appeared to be guarded by two men. But when these guards made no movements and did not react to the band’s sudden presence, the band realized that the guards were only illusions. This was confirmed by Diamond who still had a true seeing spell in effect.

There were two doors in this room. The band chose the one on the right. It led to another guard room with three more possible illusionary guards. One of them, however was dressed and armed differently, and when Diamond looked closely at him, he saw that this one, unlike the other two, was not an illusion. When Diamond pointed this out, the man immediately began to beg for mercy. The band, of course, disarmed him and under threat of violence, questioned him.

He told the band that he was the cult’s jailor, that there were three prisoners in the very next room, and that the quarters of the cult’s leaders could be found in the opposite direction. When the band opened the door to the next room, they found three prison cells, but they all appeared to be empty. That is until the band heard the voices of the cell’s occupants. The band then realized that an illusion of some kind had been placed on the room which made the cells only appear to be empty.

Tadwin came to the conclusion that a powerful illusion called a screen had been placed over much of the cult’s hideout. The spell’s main purpose was to trick any attempts to scry on an area with divination spells, but it was also effective against direct observation.

The band rescued the three prisoners, all of whom were wealthy merchants being held for ransom, and locked the jailor in one of the cells. They then turned back and headed in the opposite direction, hoping they might still be able to find Rohnam and Andrade. Keeping Diamond near the front of the band so he could identify any illusions, the band passed through a storage room, where illusionary crates and boxes helped to hide a secret door, and entered a hallway lined with doors and guarded by illusionary guards.

The first door on the left was a privy and the first door on the right was a study, but the remaining five doors turned out to be quarters, all of which were locked and some of which were trapped. While Brom was busy checking these doors and unlocking them, Zeke decided to summon the efreeti, Kallian, and have him search as well, hoping it would speed up the search. Kallian, being able to travel ethereally, disappeared and soon afterwards returned stating that he had found Rohnam nearby, but that he and Andrade had then teleported away.

From the looks of it, it appeared as if the two of them had teleported from the chapel into this area, where they quickly moved through some of the rooms grabbing certain valuables, then teleported away once again, this time out of the cult’s hideout and to who knew where. Realizing that the two were now probably far away, and out of the band’s reach, they began to take more time searching each of the quarters.

Judging from the various traps, furnishings, personal possessions and other tell-tale signs, it was fairly easy to determine to whom each of the rooms had previously belonged. Some had been rummaged through already, while others still had valuables to be collected. The first five rooms were those of Rohnam, Imogen, Grotnek, Jamir and Garyne.

At the end of the hall, was another secret door. But it appeared to be protected by another symbol spell. On the off chance that any attempt to identify it might set it off, Brom covered it up while the rest of the band waited at the other end of the hall. But despite his precautions, when Brom stepped through the secret door, the symbol above it apparently activated, though fortunately, Brom managed to resist its effects. Beyond the secret door, Brom saw a short passageway which ended at a room that was occupied by a statue which the band suspected might be an iron golem.

Not wishing to take the chance, and preferring to hold off for at least an hour to let the activated symbol expire, the band decided to search the other areas of the cult’s hideout. Returning to the chapel, they searched the side rooms where the guards and the lesser priests had been quartered, then moved on to another guard room, another privy, the dinning room, kitchen, pantry, and finally, the quarters of Grimtorr and Grolg. By the time they were done in these areas an hour had passed.

However, when they returned to the room that they suspected was guarded by an iron golem, it turned out instead to have been only another illusion. Beyond it were two doors that led to the quarters of Xanthi and Andrade. Both were magically trapped and locked, but Brom was able to deal with these obstacles. Inside these rooms, which were much more lavishly furnished (not to mention more gruesome and macabre), it was obvious that certain valuables had been hastily searched for and, no doubt, snatched up.

But there were also some things of value left behind, including what appeared to be a magic pendant that Xanthi could not wear due to the fact that she was already wearing a magic necklace. Later examination by Tadwin however, revealed it to be a cursed necklace of strangulation which would have led to an almost inescapable death had anyone placed it around his neck.

Beyond Xanthi’s room and behind a secret door, was another room with a permanent magic circle etched into the floor, most likely where Xanthi had summoned the daemon that the band had fought earlier. Beyond Andrade’s spacious quarters was a secret vault. But anything of value that had once been inside it was now gone.

With the hideout of the Cult of the Shriven Sickle thoroughly searched, the band grabbed the captured jailor and led the rescued merchants out of the lair and back to the streets of the city. The merchants then promised to reward the band for their rescue and went their separate ways, while the band escorted the jailor to the Citadel. At the Citadel, the band turned the cultist over to the City Watch and went to speak with Constable Fanshen. They told her all that had occurred at the cult’s hideout, and confirmed the fact that Andrade Mirrius was indeed the cult’s leader. But they warned her that the hideout was still not yet safe for the City Watch to enter.

Before dealing with that however, the band wanted to see if they could track down Rohnam and Andrade by visiting any buildings within the city that the two were known to frequent. Constable Fanshen did not know if Andrade had a regular home within the city, other than the hideout, but she wanted to accompany the band to the Pit to help question anyone there who might know more about Andrade and the cult.

At the Pit, Fanshen and the band questioned Pietain Morvannis, the manager of the Pit and Andrade’s number one man at the gladiatorial arena. But after speaking with him, it sounded as if Andrade kept his personal life very separate from his business at the Pit, and although he was aware of certain peculiarities about Andrade and his morbid fascination with death, it appeared as though Pietain knew nothing about the cult of Nerull. They spoke with a few of the gladiators as well, including their champion wrestler, Rashif Iqbal, and did a thorough search through Andrade’s office, which did not contain much in the way useful information, nor was it reportedly visited very often by Andrade. Nothing they found and no one they spoke to at the Pit seemed to offer any promising leads and no one could even say with any certainty that Andrade had a regular home in the city.

Eventually the band and Constable Fanshen made their way to the Green Dragon Inn. But there again, they could not come up with any useful information on where the two might have fled to. So, for the time being, they called off the search and decided instead to have Tadwin try to scry on them every day to see if that would produce any results.

In the meantime, the band led some of the City Watch into the sewers and to the cult’s hideout where they made sure everything was relatively safe. Then they turned the hideout over to the City Watch, allowing them to properly dispose of the bodies. According to Constable Fanshen, she also intended to have a wizard seal up both of the secret doors with walls of stone so that the hideout could not easily be used by anyone, or anything, else.

With no clues to go on and nothing more to do as far as the search for Rohnam and Andrade was concerned, the band took some time off to study and train, while they waited to see if anything came up. All the while, they tried to keep their guard up and do what they could to counter the damage that Rohnam had done to the band’s reputation.

To this end, the band made sure to check with any friends and acquaintances they had, to see if any of them were under the influence of any charms or mental control, even double checking some of them. Anyone found to be magically influenced in anyway were remedied. Zeke, meanwhile, used his undeniable charisma to dispel any malicious rumors about the band.

Three days after the defeat of the cult, on Waterday, the 19th day of Readying, Tadwin finally managed to locate Rohnam with a scrying spell – or so he thought. Using the spell, he could see both Rohnam and Andrade apparently resting on the side of a road under a shade tree. The surrounding terrain was unfamiliar, but Tadwin took the time to study it carefully enough to be able to teleport to it with a reasonable chance of success. Then he gathered the rest of the band as quickly as he could, which actually took some time since some of them were busy training in Greyhawk.

An hour or so later, after the band was fairly well prepared with magic, Tadwin teleported them to the location where he had seen Rohnam and Andrade. But there was no sign of them, nor could they find any evidence that the two had been there recently, such as footprints. Brom flew up invisibly and spotted a city far to the northwest next to a large river. So he flew off in that direction to scout around while the others looked around nearby. Quite some time was spent searching.

Eventually the four companions on the ground began to follow the road to the northwest and, after some time, came into contact with a scouting party of orcs who had started to track them. Instead of attacking each other, the band managed to intimidate the orcs enough to gather some information from them. They claimed to be part of the Blood Sucker tribe whose army was not far away, and they told the band that the nearby city was Molag, the capital city of the Horned Society. They also had seen nothing that resembled Rohnam and Andrade.

Sometime later, Brom returned to the band with much the same information and no news of Rohnam and Andrade. By now, Tadwin began to suspect that Andrade had used another screen spell to conceal their true location and that their trip to the Horned Society had been nothing but a wild goose chase. So, with some frustration, the band teleported back to Greyhawk. They decided instead to give up on the search for Rohnam and Andrade for the time being and just wait a few weeks until they could ask the efreeti, Kallian, to grant them a wish.

In the meantime, the band took some time off, did some training and studying, and tended to other personal matters. During this time, the band also began looking into buying a new building in the Artisan’s Quarter where they could open up a new pawn shop. And, at some point, Tadwin and Zeke paid another visit to the castle ruins, this time to speak with the elves at the Power Tower about seeing what magic items the priest’s and wizards might have to sell.

As on their first visit to the Power Tower, they spoke to the elven ranger Ruith, who took them to see the captain archer, Dhoelath, and the elven diviner, Nimlith. They, in turn, took them to the pyramids on the other side of the Power Tower, where they were soon greeted by one of the clerics of Boccob, whose name was Dormian. Dormian told them what magic items the wizard’s below currently had for sale and set up an appointment for them to return on the following day, just like they had done on the band’s first visit. Unlike on their first visit, however, Tadwin and Zeke actually showed up on the following day and kept their appointment.

Dormian met with them again just outside the pyramids and instructed them to follow him and walk through the pyramid wall. After doing so, the two were led from a short and narrow passageway into a stairwell that zig-zagged downwards about 50’ and ended at a wide hall. From there, the band was led down the hall, which also zig-zagged a bit, and through a locked door into a room with a door to the right. Past this door was another set of stairs which descended in a spiral another 25’ through a 15’ wide shaft with a hand rail set along the stairs. At the bottom was a short passageway that ended in a set of three circular alcoves, each of which contained an image of a grasping hand above a wooden disk with a curved line, all surrounded by a circle of runes. Tadwin and Zeke recognized the wooden disk as the symbol for Fharlanghn, the god of travel. Just to the right of the alcoves was a door and it was through this door that the two were led.

Beyond this door was a small library and as soon as the door was opened, a cozy fire burst to life in the room’s fireplace. In the center of the room, was a table and along one wall sat a desk and a chair. Dormian instructed the two to wait in this room while he went and retrieved one of the wizards. While they waited, Tadwin and Zeke browsed through the books on the shelves and saw that they contained, among other things, a very large selection of first level arcane spells.

After a while, Dormian returned with a companion who introduced himself as Leomund. Appearing much as one would expect for a famous arch-mage and member of the Ring of Five, with long white hair and beard, wearing blue robes and a conical hat decorated with stars, Tadwin and Zeke were, however, a bit surprised at how physically fit he seemed to be for someone of such advanced age. He seemed to be a pleasant enough fellow though, and had no problem with accepting items made of gold as part of the payment for the bracers of armor that Zeke bought from him. But as soon as the business was concluded, Leomund seemed eager to return to his business, whatever that might have been, and he quickly left. Dormian then escorted Tadwin and Zeke back to the surface and they soon after returned home.

Just over two weeks after the band’s fruitless excursion into the Horned Society, on Earthday, the 6th day of Coldeven, exactly a month after the last time they had Kallian grant them a wish, Zeke summoned the efreeti again. He then wished for Tadwin know precisely where Rohnam was currently located. Kallian told Tadwin then that Rohnam was on the 3rd underground level of the War Tower in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. The band complained that his answer was not very precise but by then the efreeti had already disappeared.

Still, it was precise enough for the band to narrow it down further with more divination spells. But, perhaps more importantly, it meant that Rohnam, and quite likely, Andrade, had made some kind of alliance with the duergar and possibly the derro. And who could tell what other nefarious plans these two had come up with?

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