Campaign Journal Book Six
Table of Contents
Chapter One-- Ransoming the Stone
Chapter Two-- The Lord of Envy
Chapter Three-- Combat and Carnage in Orland City
Chapter Four-- Death and Rebirth
Chapter Five-- A Life of Evil
Chapter Six--Wizard Isle and the Demise of an Arch-Wizard
Primary Characters-- the Lords of the West
Lord Payn Ack-Arthur, a weathered outdoorsman. The strong, silent type, Payn's conscience will not let him rest if his sword is inactive while danger threatens his homeland; Payn was recently named a Lord of Dragonspur, and he commands his own regiment.
Former War Jarl Malcall Grimson, a powerful barbarian. Malcall is a ravager and a berserker who dismays people by his manners and appearance. Originally his goal was only to fight and collect "souvenirs"; lately, he has come to care for the fate of the Liberated Kingdoms. He recently became War Jarl of his people, then renounced it.
Lord Valanduil of House Cirana, a noble elf and a Lord of Gloralion. His life's doom was to seek the Elven artifact called the Stone of Silence, which he recently recovered then lost. He now fights to regain it and return it to his people and to stop evil in general.
Captain Galadwen of House Arduval, a lovely Elven women and an accomplished operative and ranking Shadow Walker. Her Lord Leanorfin has commanded her to lend her considerable archery and stealth skills to the Lords of the West as they fight evil with the eventual goal of destroying the Lord of Anger.
Selador of House Rolomin, an elven Shadow Walker cleric. He has joined the Lords of the West on the request of his captain, Lady Galadwen. He is an elf of great faith and determination.
Marshall Ada of the Church of Heshtail, a comely but serious young woman. A cleric of Heshtail, Ada believes that she is on a mission from her god to help Kelerak and her church by aiding the Lords of the West. She recently recovered her long-lost brother, then pursued him into the occupied East. She was enchanted, but has recovered.
Lord Bartarius of Dragonspur, a powerful Northman from Outelion and one of the new Lords of the Spur. Plagued by inner demons, Bartarius always attempts to forward the cause of Good, but often gives himself over to bloodlust. Bartarius currently leads the Spurite army on behalf of General Elmore and Lord Naglor.
Tharivol of House Meliane, an aloof Elven cleric. Charged by the Elvenking with helping his friend Valanduil in his quest for the Stone of Silence, Tharivol eventually returned to his own people.
Fundin Northammer, a cautious Dwarven cleric who is no longer with the group. He aided them greatly, however, when the Lord of Envy attacked Dragonspur by bringing a force of dwarves to help, and he continues to aid Dragonspur.
Rolindor Ack-Turpin, a battle mage and experienced tactician. Fleeing from the Ranulph Barony, which Afej recently conquered, Rolindor hoped to use the group to free his homeland. He currently serves as head of the Dragonspur battlemage college under Lord Yedus.
Dralin Ironshield, a powerful and greedy Dwarven cleric who is currently seeking the legendary Dwarf-hold Liferock in order to restore the Dwarves to their former glory. His whereabouts are unknown.
Tili Deepdelver, a powerful Dwarven warrior, fell defending the heroes during their attack on the Winged One. He lies in a hallowed cairn deep beneath the Hilly Crags.
Belshrum Stoneaxe, a berserk and freakish Dwarven warrior, Belshrum's fondest wish was to die in battle. His wish was granted when he fell during the group's exploration of Karn Keller.
Ragnor Ack-Rohan, a half-elven cleric/mage. Ragnor was a no-nonsense, pragmatic type who got the job done. He seemed closer in heritage to his human rather than his Elven ancestors in this respect. Ragnor heroically fell trying to keep secrets about the Stone of Silence from falling into enemy hands.
Gilbert Ack-Keler, a devastatingly powerful professional soldier, was the quintessential warrior. Gilbert aided the group out of loyalty to his city, East-of-Sky, and to Baron Oliver, whom he viewed as a grandfather. He returned to East-of-Sky when it was attacked by Afej and there fell in mortal combat defending his beloved city.
Ansgar Lodeson, a northern barbarian cleric. He has joined the Lords of the West out of a desire to serve Malcall, whom he sees as the greatest fighter and thus the Jarl in all the world most worthy of his service.
Note: The events of this book occur after 8170, the year in which the rest of the articles on the site are set, and thus they are not canonical. They need not have happened in your game, and in fact it is recommended that you do not use them.
Chapter One-- Ransoming the Stone
Unexpectedly, three Anarians show up at Malcall's farmstead, offering him their service. Two of them are fighting men named Thorgrimm and Thorvid Heinrekkson, and one is a cleric of Edmund Stephenwolf named Ansgar Lodeson. Malcall takes them into his service. Meanwhile, Valanduil goes to visit Ada in the Church of Heshtail to discuss her "prisoner," her brother Walter. Ada tells Valanduil that she believes this is indeed her brother, and she tells him that apparently Walter was abducted by the Lord of Lust and sold into slavery in Farland. He became a gladiator and eventually joined the Eye. Ada says that she believes Walter can be redeemed from evil and turned back to goodness. She proposes to take Walter to her parents' home to see if their presence can sway him. Soon she leaves for her village. Payn and Valanduil then go to Naglor and, through diplomacy, manage to get the King to agree to return the Stone to the Elves if the latter promise to use the Stone to defend Kelerak and to provide armed elves if needed. Arranging Malcall and several Spur Elites to guard Yedus, the two travel to the Belendale where they meet Galadwen. The three go to Elvenking Baranwe and present him with the proposed treaty. Baranwe agrees to it, but adds that they should make it even more significant by making it the start of a league of the two kingdoms. He will sign it if Kelerak will also pledge to commit troops to defend the elves if needed. Taking the revised treaty back to Kelerak, the heroes present it to Naglor, who signs it. This is a historic day indeed. All that remains is to recover the Stone from Yedus.
The Lords of the West go to Yedus' room in the Spur Fortress to ask him for the artifact. Surprisingly Yedus has guessed their plan and he is ready for them. When Payn asks for the Stone, he uses his magic to escape from the fortress and flee. The heroes lose his trail and began searching the city for him. Eventually they return to speak to Naglor and ask him if he knows where Yedus might have gone. He tells them that Yedus has a mistress named Eva in the south of the city. As they are conferencing with the King, simultaneously in burst from different directions a disheveled older man and a bloodied Kelerak soldier. The latter informs Naglor that Stone Ford is being attacked by a small group of individuals dressed in heavy armor and wearing red and black liveries with a red lion on them. The heroes guess that these are Wrath's personal protectors, the Crimson Lion Guard. By description, they also surmise that Khadufel is with them. The old man in his turn breathlessly tells them that he is Roger, father of Ada and Walter. He says that Walter half a day ago stole a horse and headed towards Stone Ford. Ada took another horse and pursued him; he asks that the heroes go after Ada, who apparently is walking into an ambush. The Lords of the West are faced with a moral dilemma: help Ada or go after Yedus. It is an agonizing choice, but, reasoning that Ada is very capable, they choose to pursue Yedus and the Stone.
|26th of Kalt, 8172 F.R.|
Heading to Eva's house, they find evidence that Yedus has taken a horse and headed south at breakneck speed, although Eva refuses to tell them where he is going. Turning her over to the guard, the heroes set off on Yedus' trail, sending Malcall ahead with his boots of speed to catch Yedus. Running incredibly quickly the northerner does indeed manage to catch up to Yedus as he is entering the town of Ford, which sits at the border of Kelerak and Orland. Malcall decides to trail Yedus rather than to assault him, but he is thrown into a cell by the guards of Ford, who mistake him for a bandit. He loses valuable hours as Yedus, with a fresh horse, heads south while he waits in the jail. Eventually the heroes reach Ford and free Malcall. They pursue Yedus south but have trouble making up the lost time. Soon, however, they come upon evidence of a battle-the charred corpses of Orcs. Payn is distressed to find tracks that reveal that some orcs got away. Fearing the worst, they press on. Their fears, however, are realized a few miles up the road when they find the remains of another battle, but this time it looks like there was an ambush. Yedus' tracks do not continue on, and Payn finds the gnawed bones of his horse. Despondent and fearing that the Stone has fallen into enemy hands, the heroes follow the tracks of what looks to be gnolls. Soon they meet a party of the beasts and learn from them-before dispatching them-that Yedus has been taken to an Orlandish outpost several miles down the road. They also learn that the outpost is guarded by Night Giants (which they have never heard of) and that a "Big Boss" is there. They move forward and assault the outpost. Employing a plan created by the crafty elf, they easily dispatch the giants, but then they are assaulted by another giant, an orc mage, and a strange creature bathed in inky darkness. The spells of Valanduil quickly dominate the orc, and the other Lords of the West dispatch the lead giant. The mysterious creature surrenders. It soon reveals itself as the Mind Flayer Koorlsh, who they know to be the Lord of Envy's viceroy. The creature says that , having slain the hapless Yedus, it possesses the Stone and has hidden it in a secret place. Koorlsh informs the heroes that he will trade the Stone for a task that the heroes must perform. He says that Garlgax, like all powerful Drow, was required to be tested by Salystra, the Demon Serpent Goddess when he reached a certain power level. Garlgax, however, refused to submit to the test, and he has been protected from the power of the Serpent Goddess by the power of the Dark God Vornoth channeled through an item called The Symbol. This holy symbol of Vornoth, Koorlsh tells the heroes, has been hidden in a heavily trapped and guarded tomb. No one knows where the tomb is, but Koorlsh says he has recently uncovered this information. He says that if the holy symbol is destroyed, the wrath of the Demon Serpent Goddess will fall on Garlgax, destroying him and removing him from Farland. Only when they destroy this holy symbol, says Koorlsh, will he tell the heroes where he has hidden the Stone of Silence. The heroes pause to contemplate this new turn of events.
Chapter Two-- The Lord of Envy
Valanduil is very reluctant to believe the duplicitous creature and indeed catches him in several lies. The elf is also loath to give the Mind Flayer total power over the doings of the party, and begins to argue with Koorlsh, driving a hard bargain and actually threatening the creature with death. In the face of these threats, the evil Viceroy distracts the heroes and uses his mental powers to teleport away. Despondent, the heroes travel up the road and camp, but in the dead of the night they detect an orc running up the road from the south. Capturing him, they find he is a messenger for Koorlsh. The missive he bears tells the heroes of the location of the tomb and tells them that they no longer have any bargaining power-they must destroy the Symbol or they will never get the Stone back. Reasoning that they have little choice, they decide to undertake the task. First, though, they use Valanduil's magic to travel to Stone Ford to find news of Ada. Arriving at the place, they find that Spur Elite soldiers sent by Naglor have arrived and taken control of the Ford. The men report that it doesn't appear that there was any invasion; instead, it seems that some kind of a strike force was sent. This news is born out when Galadwen uses her powers to speak to the plants and trees of the area, which report that Ada was captured alive after a battle with a group that matches the description of the Lord of Wrath's Crimson Lion Guard and led by someone who is likely the wizard Khadufel. Grieving, the heroes return to Orland.
The next day they travel to the hidden tomb and find it just where the evil Koorlsh said it would be. They breach the tomb and find that it is indeed small but dangerous. They fight several guardians and overcome many traps, including some decoy artifacts. Nonetheless, they manage to smash all the possible Symbols, and do in fact destroy the correct one-and they soon find out why the Illithid would not trade the Stone for the Symbol. Apparently, anyone who destroys the symbol gives the Demon Serpent Goddess power over them or else attracts her attention, for upon breaking the item they find themselves plane-shifted to a place of great evil. It can only be the Abyss. There they find themselves in a large circular chamber, the walls and floor of which are made from a strong, non-sticky webbing. To the side of the room is a tall male drow elf, looking very surprised. He is dressed like a cleric, and he wears around his neck an item which can only be the Amulet of Evernight. They have finally met Garlgax, the Lord of Envy. In the center of the room, on a satin couch raised on a dais, is a figure exuding palpable might the like of which they have never felt before. It is a female drow elf, beautiful of face and form, but somehow emitting cold hatred and death from every pore. The figure rises and walks toward them like lust and hatred personified, her hips swaying with every step. As she walks, for a second a giant, hideous serpent seems to take the place of the woman, but when they blink, she is back, and they doubt their senses and perhaps their sanity. She introduces herself as Salystra, the Demon Serpent Goddess of the Drow and speaks to both groups by name. She explains that Garlgax has managed to avoid her test thus far, but with the Symbol destroyed, she is now free to make him run her gauntlet. Sarcastically she thanks the companions, but tells them she knows that they too have recently thwarted her will by destroying the plans of House Alevax in the Drow City. For that reason, they must also be a part of the test. They each must undertake certain challenges, and the last to finish will suffer the Goddess' wrath. At these words, Garlgax, with a desperate look in his eye, sprints for a door in the side of the chamber where he is to take his tests. Again feeling helpless, the Lords of the West head to a passage in the other side of the room where their tests await.
|28th of Kalt, 8172 F.R.|
The Demon Goddess' gauntlet proves to be hell. Each hero has to prove his or her worth; Galadwen must sneak unnoticed across a room guarded by a foul abomination, Valanduil must use his knowledge of magic to open an invulnerable door, Malcall must use his superhuman jumping ability to cross an electrified floor, and Payn must command an illusory army to win a battle against terrible odds-in fact, the skirmish is actually the Battle of Orland City, where the Lord of Envy conquered the kingdom some 400 years ago. They also end up facing tests that exploit their weakness, and after having used much of their resources in the tomb, they have a hard time of it, but through sheer courage and determination they eventually make it through the gauntlet and emerge again, bloodied and weary, into the center chamber. The Goddess' satin couch is there, but neither the Goddess nor the Lord of Envy is present. The companions pause to catch their breath, relieved that they seem to have completed the test before Garlgax but wondering what is to come.
Soon Garlgax bursts into the room, haggard and out of breath. The wall of force is still up, and thus the heroes have time to converse with the deadly Lord. He tells them that he believes none of them will get out alive. He also tells them that Koorlsh tricked them into killing Garlgax so he can steal the Amulet of Evernight to mount an Illithid invasion on the surface world, a devastating proposition. Valanduil tricks the Lord of Envy into wasting some of his strength by trying to dispel the wall, and then suddenly the Demon Serpent Goddess appears in the room, her presence announced by a sickening wave of evil. They party knows that the goddess may not let them go, so they agree to do a favor for her if she releases them. She tells them to take the Amulet of Evernight from Garlgax's corpse and dispose of it by throwing it in the depths of the Lake of the Sky. The heroes, having little choice, agree. The Demon Goddess then transforms Garlgax into a Drasp, since he lost the contest, and then she lowers the wall. It is fight or be killed. Drasp Garlgax attacks ferociously, and the battle is tenuous for a time. The heroes despair of defeating the transformed deadly Lord, as he clings to the ceiling, out of the reach of the warriors. Malcall, however, jumps up and grapples the snake creature, dragging him down into the reach of the remaining Lords of the West, who with blade and spell put paid to his evil reign. They are amazed that they have slain another Lord of Sin! It is a fateful day. Collecting his belongings, including the Amulet of Evernight, they jump through the portal back to Farland.
Arriving in the Tomb of Envy, the companions prepare to leave. It seems, however, that Koorlsh is indeed waiting for them, with five Gnoll warriors. The heroes barricade themselves into a backroom, but Koorlsh assaults them full force, trying to take the Amulet. He unleashes a mental attack on all the Lords of the West, trying to mind blast them and dominate them alternately. He pulls out all the stops, but to no avail-the heroes have learned to resist his constant assaults and, cutting down his soldiers, they capture Koorlsh and knock him unconscious. They then use Valanduil's magic to take him back to Kelerak and incarcerate him in a cell that is warded against magic and mental powers with an eye to interrogating him to recover the Stone of Silence. For the first time in a long time, the heroes are hopeful-it seems a whole new vista has opened before them.
The companions set about interrogating the creature, letting him know in no uncertain terms that his life depends on giving them truthful information. They strike a deal with the creature that they will release him if he cooperates fully. Koorlsh tells them where he has hidden the Stone-in his room in the tunnels below the Palace in Orland City. He tells them that most of the tunnels are warded against teleportation magic, but he tells them a place that they can magically travel to that is not far from his lair. Unfortunately the way to his home is guarded by several constructs, some golems, and some powerful mercenaries hired by the Lord of Envy, which Koorlsh has recently set to guard his room, since the Stone is there. Then the beast tells them of the location of Envy's treasure room, as well as the things guarding it, for when they have recovered the Stone from the lair.
Wasting no time, the group teleports to the spot, and soon battle is fiercely joined! The heroes fight for every foot on their way to Koorlsh's lair. They manage to dispatch the constructs and golems, but the mercenaries give them more trouble. Still, by dint of sheer determination they finally slay these guardians as well and make their way into Koorlsh's dwelling. Searching in the spot that the illithid designated, they find a small bundle wrapped in a black velvet cloth. Unwrapping it they see-the Stone of Silence! At long last. Wasting no time, Valanduil magically transports the group to the Summervale, where the Stone will be safe.
Chapter Three-- Combat and Carnage in Orland City
While in the Hidden City, the companions give the Stone into King Baranwe's keeping so that he may safeguard it until Valanduil has time to study it. They tell the Elvenking about the Amulet of Evernight, and Baranwe recommends that they destroy its magic before throwing it into the Lake of the Sky. Knowing that the Demon Serpent Goddess is likely to be very angry at such an arrangement, they nonetheless agree to it and give the Amulet also to Baranwe so that he can guard it, since they have a year to dispose of it. Then using Valanduil's powerful magics, they travel back to the crypts below Orland City in order to recover the treasure of Garlgax, the Lord of Envy.
|4th of Nelt, 8172 F.R.|
Arriving there, the heroes take special measures to protect themselves against the trap that they know guards the secret door into the treasure room. Galadwen locates the door and eventually disarms the trap, and they enter to face the powerful demon that they know lies in wait. The hideous outsider does indeed appear and battle is joined, but Malcall and the other Lords of the West put paid to it. As they are preparing to assess the treasure, though, they hear the sounds of persons approaching. The remainder of the mercenaries appears, apparently seeking the treasure themselves. They seem quite powerful, and soon the two groups clash in fierce battle. The mercenaries prove to be even more powerful than they at first looked, and Ansgar, in a panic, seals the door to the treasure chamber with a wall of stone. This is a problem, however, as the room is warded against teleportation and there is no way out. The companions take the two-hour breather space in which they are trapped to itemize the treasure, but their work is interrupted by the return of the mercenaries, who disintegrate the wall of stone and renew their attack. And quite a battle it is: it goes back and forth for some time, and the heroes manage to dispatch the warriors among the mercenaries, but the cleric manages to strike Malcall down with a spell, killing him. In a rage, the remaining Lords of the West slay the rest of the mercenaries and end the battle. Then they go and recover the Orlandish slaves they freed last time they were in the catacombs and hole up in Koorlsh's lair again for the night. The next morning they return with the ex-slaves to Dragonspur City, to decide what to do about the deceased Malcall and what to do next.
Galadwen goes ahead to the Summervale and arranges to have one of the most powerful clerics in the hidden city raise Malcall from the dead without any loss of strength. While she does this, Valanduil interrogates the captured Koorlsh, learning that there is another who is likely to step into the power gap in Orland City left by the death of the Lord of envy, assuming control of his armies. This individual is a half-orc named Visandus. He is the leader of The Hounds, the group of elite slave-hunters and rangers in service to the Lord of Envy. This, then, is the next target. Valanduil also learns that Visandus is holding a human Lord named Sando Torland prisoner for attempting to start a rebellion in Orland. The heroes reason that perhaps they can use this Sando as an Orlandish contact to undertake a liberation of the entire Kingdom.
Using the elf's magic, the other Lords of the West arrive in the Summervale, and in a glorious ceremony, Malcall is raised from the land of the living. The heroes then take the opportunity to get some much needed rest and to have some of their magical items enhanced. After more than two weeks, they are finally ready for their next quest. Gathering at Galadwen's family's house, the Lords of the West teleport directly outside the mansion of Visandus in Orland City, the location of which Valanduil had learned from Koorlsh. They find, however, that their delay has been costly: Visandus has apparently assumed nominal leadership of the city, and he has employed a force of powerful Oluk Orc guards to protect his mansion. The heroes attack the orcs, who put up a stiff resistance, yet the Lords of the West prevail in the battle. They then infiltrate mansion, where they soon find themselves in a pitched battle with the Hounds in the mansion. Visandus, who was not present, arrives home in mid-battle and joins the fight, making it all the more perilous. In fact he has with him several abominations: Wolf Spiders, lupine arachnids. Yet through sheer courage and might, the companions prevail and manage to slay all of the evil creatures present, including Visandus. They take possession of his mansion, convincing an Oluk orc guard named Gorug to serve them, and begin planning the liberation of the city.
Speaking to the liberated Lord Sando, and to their new ally Gorug, the heroes find out the names of all the other major evil Lords and personages of the city and begin making plans for an ambush. Valanduil forges a note ostensibly from Visandus, calling all of the Lords of the City to his mansion. The Lords of the West divide the evil lords into two groups, one slated to arrive in the morning and one in the evening. When these hapless creatures do indeed appear at the mansion, the heroes make short work of them; they attack them from ambush and slay them mercilessly. With all of the leadership of the city slain, the companions turn to Lord Sando to drum up a group of rebels to provide support for the liberation of the city, which they plan next. After a week Sando has gathered fifty compatriots. The heroes arm the rebels, and then they break all but two of the bridges into the city, guard the bridges, and begin a systematic purge of all the orcs and other dark folk in the city. For two weeks the heroes take small groups of rebels through the city, where they search house by house, slaying any evil creature they find. They are careful to make certain that one of the Lords of the West accompanies each group of rebels. After approximately two weeks of this gritty work, great progress has been made: the numbers of the rebels have swelled, and most orcs have been destroyed. Still, there is some troubling news: guards report that some small, deformed flying red lizards have been sighted. The Lords of the West fear that these are spies for the Lord of Greed. Still, they can't be certain. Finally something more pleasant draws their attention: they must return to Dragonspur City for the wedding of Payn to Lady Virginia Arundel.
Returning to Dragonspur City, the heroes attend the lovely wedding, held in the church of Bestra. Even King Naglor is in attendance, and it is a glorious event. The heroes then pass a restful two weeks in their respective homes. Periodically Valanduil uses magic to contact Lord Sando, and at the end of the second week he receives word that there is trouble. Sando requests the presence of the Lords of the West right away. Using their magical powers of transport, the heroes once again travel to Orland City.
Upon arrival, they are told that a group of heavily armored trolls has attacked Andalia, a small town to the East of Orland City. The companions ride out right away, hoping to save human lives. Upon reaching the town in half a day's time, they find it indeed under assault by giant, gray-skinned war trolls, heavily armored and armed. The trolls bear a strange red and black insignia. Although they are a bit taken aback by the ferocity of the beasts at first, they soon regain the upper hand and manage to slay the things-all except their leader, whom they leave alive for questioning. The lead troll explains in his broken language that the force was the vanguard for the lieutenants of the Lord of Greed himself, who has been awakened. The troll states that he was ordered to attack human towns until the Lords of the West were drawn out. The lieutenants of the Deadly Lord are on the heels of the trolls, he explains, and they seek to capture the Lords of the West.
The heroes are surprised and horrified by the news that the Lord of Greed is active, but the lieutenants must be dealt with right away, as magic indicates that they are very close. The troll, as his final act before the heroes dispatch him, tells them that the lieutenants are half fire giant half red dragon abominations, bred by the Lord of Greed with his own blood to serve him. Using this knowledge, the heroes set up an ambush for the creatures, and their ruse is wildly successful-they take the five lieutenants by surprise. Although the fire giant-half dragons put up a fierce fight, they are soon slain, except for one. Their leader, Torm, manages to escape the fight, flying off on his huge wings. Disappointed at his escape, the Lords of the West destroy the bodies of the fire giants that remain and contemplate their next move.
Chapter Four-- Death and Rebirth
They travel back to Orland City, whereupon they decide that they have some much needed business to take care of. They take a two week rest, each seeing loved ones or taking care of personal duties, and then meet back in Orland City. Upon arriving, Lord Payn has amazing news: the unmarried, childless King Naglor, in a shrewd political maneuver, has offered to adopt Payn so that he or his child will become King of Kelerak upon Naglor's death. Naglor reasons that with the Lords of the West supporting Payn, any potential civil wars will be averted and the kingdom will remain strong and unified. Payn has agreed, he informs them, and the adoption ceremony is in three months. The Lords of the West are gladdened by the news, and they decide to try to solidify the political future of Orland as well. They devise a plan, masterminded by Valanduil, to set up a ruling council of Orland. The council is to be made up of Five Orlanders and the four Lords of the West. Lord Sando is to head the council. The heroes hold a ceremony in Orland City, now cleansed of dark folk, to make the council official.
Next the companions decide that it is long past time that they attempt to rescue their friend Ada from the clutches of the evil Khadufel the Southerner. The party knows full well that this could be their most dangerous mission yet; it could in fact be deadly. Nevertheless, they decide to undertake it. Using knowledge of the city obtained by Valanduil's magic and from Orlandish merchants, the heroes teleport to the Siligian Bay in the ominous Far City itself. Arriving in the huge teeming metropolis, the Lords of the West are amazed by the sheer size of the place-the largest city on the continent. Its streets are packed at all times with humans and dark folk; huge tenements tower over the street, blocking the sun, and battalions of hobgoblin legionnaires patrol the streets. All of this is overlooked by the Dominium Hill upon which sits the foreboding Palace of Wrath, crowned by the huge Flamespire. An undying, evil red flame shines from this high tower at all times. Yet presented with this spectacle, the heroes, disguised as orcs, press on to the house of Khadufel, although they are almost discovered.
Finally, however, they make it and invade the house. They meet armed resistance, yet they eventually fight their way down to the basement. There they met their worst fear-Khadufel and his guards, as well as Ada and her brother Walter, all arrayed against them. Somehow Khadufel has managed to turn the priest of goodness to the ways of Darkness. Vicious battle is joined, and the tides of war rage. It seems the archmage is trying to capture, rather than kill the heroes, yet his efforts are frustrated at every turn by the Lords of the West. Khadufel manages to temporarily banish Malcall to an extradimensional space, trap Payn in a force cage, and sequester Galadwen and Valanduil behind a wall of force. Ansgar he kills outright. Yet Valanduil uses his powerful magic to allow the latter three Lords of the West to escape to confront the evil mage one more time. Panicking, Khadufel uses his last powerful spell to strike down the three heroes, killing them with their own worst fear. They fall to the floor, dead. A few moments later, Malcall appears, but by now the Emperor's own troops, the Crimson Lion Guard, have arrived, and they take Malcall captive, promising him his life.
Malcall is completely disarmed and stripped of all magic items and taken before the Emperor, the Lord of Wrath. Khadufel asks that Malcall be turned over to his custody, but the Emperor denies the request. Malcall is then paraded around the streets in heavy chains and a cage, in order to raise the moral of the Lord of Wrath's troops. He is questioned about the whereabouts of the Stone of Silence and about the military readiness of the freed kingdoms, but his lack of real knowledge about any of these subjects severely irritates Emperor Nabarus, whereupon he switches personalities (as he is wont to do in moments of anger or stress), becoming Emperor Bakahul. Lord Bakahul orders Malcall's public execution, which is immediately carried out and Malcall is killed. The Lords of the West are thus all now dead. The source of anger removed, the hideous and powerful Emperor Bakahul becomes Emperor Nabarus once again. Khadufel then goes before Nabarus and asks as a reward that he be given Malcall's body and whatever of Malcall's items that the Emperor sees fit. Feeling generous and recognizing the amazing deed that the Southerner has done for him, the Lord of Wrath, Emperor of Farland, grants Khadufel's request. Khadufel assures the Emperor that he will completely destroy Malcall's body, as he claims he has done with the bodies of the other Lords of the West, which had always remained in his custody. The Emperor tells Khadufel that it is extremely important that the Lords of the West be destroyed forever. Khadufel assures him it would be so. Thus the Lords of the West seem to have met their fate...
But it is not the end. It turns out that Khadufel was lying. He kept the bodies, and using his powerful and clandestine allies in the Far City, has them all raised in order to serve him. He uses the spell Amnesia to wipe their memories clean. Teams of Bards are then hired to implant false memories in the minds of all of the Lords of the West. These memories convince the former Lords of the West that they have always worked for Khadufel, that he is their friend, and that they owe him everything. Khadufel's plot is apparently to create a fighting force to rival the Crimson Lion Guard, one which will do his bidding. He is confident that Amnesia and false memories will work on the former Lords of the West, as it seemingly worked so well on Ada.
And indeed it does seem to be working. Valanduil is given the identity of Zonagh the Righteous, an evil elf mage who has forsaken his race. Payn becomes Baal the Thunderer, a former orc slave and professional killer. Malcall becomes Ottar the Fury, a lying murderer who kills on a whim, and Galadwen becomes Vana the Black Widow, a spider-cloaked former Shadow Walker banished from the Elven lands for trying to steal a powerful artifact. Convinced that they owe all to the mage, the former Lords of the West agree to undertake the evil tasks that the Southerner sets before them. Their first mission, Khadufel explains, is to travel to his home of Budum-ishi, on the Northern part of the continent of Eruna, and talk to a merchant contact of the mage's. It seems that this merchant has requested Khadufel's help in clearing the danger from this trade route, for much goods and money has already been stolen from passing caravans. The companions are to destroy whatever is menacing the trade route-and recover the money for Khadufel, impressing on the merchant that he is to accept this decision for his own good.
The party embarks on this, their first mission as the "evil" henchmen of Khadufel. Khadufel assigns an evil oluk cleric Borug to their group to aid them. Boarding a slave galley, "Night Wind," they undertake a journey of over a month as they sail South down the Straights of Gor. Part way through their journey, however, Zonagh the Righteous diverts the ship as they pass Wizard Isle. The sailors have spoken of the place as containing ancient, cursed ruins, and the greed of the now selfish elf draws him to explore the island. He and the rest of the companions land on the beach of Wizard Isle and trek to the ruins. There Zonagh uses his powerful magic to uncover the real truth of the legends. It seems this island was once the home of the archmage Seldorius and the Cadre of the Wise.
|8th of Cabos, 8172 F.R.|
Their greed whetted further, the antiheroes invade the ruins. Therein they encounter several extremely dangerous demons, but after a short battle they dispatch them, recovering several items. They decide, however, that they had better finish their current mission before exploring the ruins further. They reboard the ship for the remainder of their journey. Finally, after many, many days at sea, they sail up the river Ishi, and finally enter the small and ancient city of Budum-ishi. Built in a fertile river-valley, the city is populated with men with light brown skin. The community is old indeed, as evinced by the many ruins dotting its landscape. It apparently once held sway over a civilization that encompassed the entire area in which it lies. Now this ancient place and the smaller town of Sefu-ishi are all that is left. The people of Budum-ishi revere their ancestors and build for them great tombs and monuments, sacrificing many slaves by walling them up alive within the crypts. They worship gods with the heads of animals, the Lord of whom they call Vornok-ka. The place is under the sway of the Dweller, and orcs freely walk the streets. Disembarking, the companions set about finding the merchant.
Chapter Five-- A Life of Evil
Although they are shocked and disgusted to find that the people of Budum-ishi use the dead as slaves, they proceed to ask around for the merchant. After a few well-placed queries, the companions find the merchant Chasisi. They intimidate him into doing their bidding, telling him that Khadufel will solve problems, but that he will take all of the money and goods for himself. Chasisi has no choice but to agree. While waiting in the city they send gifts to important personages on behalf of Khadufel; one of these people is Lord Abasi, the leader of the Circle of Eternal Thrall. They pay him their respects. Then they find out from Chasisi the route that the missing caravans usually take, and they set off into the burning desert of the southlands.
They encounter a difficult sand storm, but through the survival skills of Baal, they survive it unharmed. Eventually they come to an oasis in the desert, an ancient marker near which stand several tall cacti. There they camp, but during the night they hear movement. It seems that one of the Cacti is actually a treant, a good guardian of the oasis. Zonnagh the Righteous picks a fight with the creature and cuts it down, although Vana the Black Widow is inexplicably quite upset by this act and the two almost come to blows. Before they can fight, however, the group is attacked by a group of fire giants. After a short battle, the anti-heroes dispatch the monsters and then follow their spore back to a cave in the desert. There they find a large cave and several more of the giants. They set about killing these as well, but the battle is interrupted by a strange creature-an evil jinni of the desert. They attack this creature as well, and after before too long that creature surrenders. It asks to parlay with the companions. It seems that the jinni has been summoned by a Lord in Budum-ishi: Lord Abasi. He commanded the jinn to gather treasure for him, treasure that rightly belongs to those in the city with whom he deals. The jinni tells the group that if they free him by slaying Abasi, he will grant them one wish. The anti-heroes agree. They gather up the treasure from the waylayed caravans, which they find in the cave, and return to Budum-ishi.
|6th of Dekkos, 8172 F.R.|
There, with Chasisi's reluctant help, they rent an entire inn. They invite Lord Abasi to a banquet in his honor, asking him to come with only a small escort. The necromancer agrees, but it seems he is wily. When he shows up at the appointed time, he has more than a small escort, and the undead are in his train. Immediately battle is joined, and it is a fierce fight, but the Lord of the Circle of Eternal Thrall has never faced foes like these, and before he can flee he is cut down. The companions destroy his body, then return to the jinni for their wish. Because of the amnesia spell cast on them, and the new memories implanted by Khadufel, the heroes believe themselves to be evil, but internally they are not, and this conflict manifests itself as external nausea when they commit an evil act. They thus wish to know the cause of this nausea. The jinni tells them that it is mental, and that they are of two natures. Puzzled by this message, they cast their own spell to commune with the gods, but the answers they receive are hardly more helpful. Disappointed, they return to Chasisi's, gather the captured treasure, and travel via Zonnagh's magic back to the abode of khadufel.
Chapter Six-- Wizard Isle and the Demise of an Arch-Wizard
Once home, the companions inform their master that they have accomplished the mission he has set for them, and Khadufel is pleased. Then, their interest piqued by the brief encounters they had when they ventured into Wizard Isle, they ask Khadufel what he knows of the island. Khadufel tells them that it was once the home of Seldorius, a famous archmage of old. He says that a powerful demon named Pestilence invaded the stronghold, and although he was once rebuffed, he eventually managed to destroy Seldorius and his allies. The fortress has lain in ruins ever since. This information jibes with what Zonnagh had discovered using his magic. Their appetite for treasure whetted by these legends, the anti-heroes ask their master for permission to invade the ruins of Wizard Isle. Khadufel agrees, stipulating that they must bring him back a substantial piece of treasure. The heroes agree and prepare to leave the city. First, though, they ask Khadufel to do what he can to discover why they feel ill every time they fight a creature that is not evil. Khadufel tells them he will investigate this, and the companions set off.
Using the elf's magic, they travel instantaneously to the volcanic island. They head into the ruins and discover the dungeons below the ruined castle are fully intact and filled with all manner of demons and undead. Strangely, these creatures all seem to be working towards a similar goal, as if they are controlled by a master. Yet the anti-heroes manage to slay all of the fell creatures, and they discover a staircase to a lower level. Wounded, they decide to venture down on the morrow, and they return to the surface to camp near the ruins of the castle. During the night, however, they are attacked by more vicious demons, powerful Vrocks, who demand to know on behalf of Pestilence why the group has invaded the mighty demon's domain. They now have indication that Pestilence yet lives and rules the underground complex. Fighting off the demons, they move their camp.
The next day they travel into the lower level, skillfully bypassing a deadly trap on the stair. They begin to explore the bottom level, encountering some fearful undead creatures that temporarily drain their life force. This set-back causes the heroes to retreat back to their camp. On the way up, though, though, they encounter stiff resistance from many demons, and their progress is jeopardized when a 12-foot tall monstrosity, cloaked in flames and reeking of disease, advances on them. The creature, obviously the archdemon Pestilence, appears to want to parlay with them, but they choose to escape-narrowly. They use Zonnagh's magic to flee hundreds of miles away to a safe location.
When they have recovered their strength, they choose to confront the fearsome demon head-on, and they return to the lower level of the complex, invading Pestilence's personal sanctum. There they see a strange swirling pool of mists, which magical runes label the "Mists of Time." They then attack Pestilence, but he proves too much for them, stunning and disarming them all. Strangely, he does not kill them. He declares that since they appear to worship the Walker-in-Darkness, they are his allies. Pestilence explains that he was tasked many centuries ago by the Dweller in the Wintervale to capture and unlock the secrets of the artifact called the Mists of Time. He did gain control of the pool, but he has not been able to unlock the secrets. He tells the companions that he believes the secret lies in the complex somewhere, and he tells them that they are to find it and bring it to him. He keeps their valuable magical weapons as collateral. Having no choice, the companions begin an exhaustive search of the complex. They find some clues, which lead them to a hidden page in one of the books in Seldorius' ancient library. The page contains a spell called Summon Time Door, which will allow anyone entering the Mists of Time to return to his present time once the Mists have taken him into the past. Magic of magics! It seems the pool is some sort of time travel device. The companions are loathe to turn the secret over to the foul Pestilence, however, for something tells them that doing so would be wrong. They mull their options...
|11th of Dekkos, 8172 F.R.|
They eventually decide on another full frontal attack on Pestilence and his minions, but this time they will be prepared. They prep themselves for the battle and enter the inner sanctum, wasting no time in employing their famous tactic-a blitzkrieg attack. The battle is difficult, but eventually through sheer determination, they prevail, although they are severely wounded. Yet they have two major set-backs-Baal is knocked into the mysterious, magical pool of the Mists of Time, and when Pestilence is slain, his body unleashes a devastating wave of energy. The energy catches the wounded Zonnagh and slays the elf. Yet the remaining anti-heroes have little time to morn, for they have to determine what has happened to Baal. After investigating by dropping a rope and then a note into the swirling mists, they determine that Baal is alive but cannot return. Even more strange, a voice is calling him from some distance, and it is referring to him as Lord Payn! He does not know what to make of it. Eventually the rest of the group joins Baal inside the mists, carrying the corpse of Zonnagh. They find themselves in a misty cavern. Following the winding tunnel toward the voice, they come across a strange, old man who identifies himself as Seldorius of Farland. This name is the same as that of a legendary arch-mage, and indeed the figure says he is that arch-mage. He explains that the Mists of Time is an artifact that exists outside of the flow of time, and for this reason he has not aged. He also tells the surprised anti-heroes that they are in fact heroes: the former Lords of the West. He explains their situation and that they have been enchanted by Khadufel. Although they are in disbelief, he makes a deal with them: he promises that he will bring Valanduil back from the dead if they let him use his magic to reveal their true identity. They agree, and he is as good as his word. Soon the elf is alive and as strong as ever, but there is an added surprise-he remembers his true identity as Valanduil. And with Valanduil's help, the rest of the group is soon convinced to submit themselves to Seldorius' ministrations; soon they all remember their past, and they remember the evil deeds they did while under Khadufel's amnesia. They are distraught. Seldorius, however, gives them two tasks: to slay their orc cleric, an agent of Khadufel, and to bring the dungeon down on top of the Mists of Time, burying it under tons of rock. He explains that the Dweller in the Vale may know of Pestilence's death and may already be dispatching minions to take control of the artifact Mists. They agree to both tasks, and quickly dispatch the orc, fulfilling the first duty.
To fulfill the second duty, they realize that they will need a cleric to use his powers to cause an earthquake. Galadwen says she knows of several Shadow Walker clerics that may have that power, and thus they travel on the wings of Valanduil's magic back to Gloralion. There, after some hasty explanations and requests, they acquire the services of the Shadow Walker cleric Selador of House Rolomin. This tall, dark cleric is a man of faith and of duty. He agrees to obey the orders of his captain, Lady Galadwen, and return into the jaws of death with the heroes. Thus they travel hastily back to Wizard Isle and use his prayers to summon the power of Tal-Allustiel the Elflord to collapse the dungeon, forever burying the Mists of Time. Then they decide to finish what the started-to recover Ada and perhaps put an end to Khadufel's evil.
They teleport to the Southerner's mansion and catch the powerful mage unaware, nearly slaying him. They also manage to free Ada from the mage's spell, but the wily Khadufel is not that easily slain. He brings into play his cunning backup plan. He removes himself from harm's way and informs the heroes that he has taken hostage Lady Virginia, Payn's wife. He demands that the companions surrender if they wish to save her from torture and death. Payn insists that they follow his commands, but the others, particularly Valanduil and Galadwen refuse. In frustration, Valanduil launches a huge ball of fire into the depths of Khadufel's mansion, turning it into a raging inferno. Khadufel snarls in anger and shouts, "You have sealed the fate of Lady Virgina, fool!" He then disappears. Not knowing what else to do, Valanduil transports the Lords of the West back to the Summervale to begin planning the unlikely rescue of Lady Virginia.
The Lords of the West use powerful magic to locate Lady Virginia. They find that she is in a guild house's basement in the city of Cromae in Farland. They know that it is a trap. Valanduil communicates with the evil wizard magically, asking him what he wants as ransom for Payn's wife. Khadufel replies that the heroes must kill the Lord of Wrath. Valanduil reasons that Khadufel's lie that he killed the Lords of the West will soon be found out by the Captain of the Lords of Sin and that the mage's back is against the wall. This will be a deadly battle, for the elf knows Khadufel is bent on killing them. They know they had better take the time to prepare carefully.
While preparing, they also decide to find out what has transpired in the world during their absence. They meet with Leanorfin and find out some dire news. They learn that some of the Lord of Anger's legions are massing in the Fortress City of Sum, perhaps preparing for an invasion of Kelerak. They also learned that the Lord of Greed himself has attacked and burned the town of Andelia in Orland. He has sent word that the kingdom is to be surrendered to the Emperor's Eighth legion or the burnings will continue. Finally, they learn of a disturning event in Dragonspur City. Lord Lovelace has revolted from the rule of King Naglor. He has holed up in Wyvernia and is attempting to mass an army loyal only to himself. This is a problem for Naglor, for a large portion of his troops are still in Western Kelerak. Afraid that Naglor will not be able to contend with a possible invasion from the east when his troops are watching the barbarian forces in Dessingrove, Valanduil, Payn, and Malcall magically go to Dessingrove to meet with Brand, the leader of the troops. They extract a promise that the barbarians will not fight against the forces of Kelerak if a dark army invades the kingdom. They even get a promise that the barbarians will help. While in the town, Malcall goes to visit his wife and child, who have fled to Dessingrove on contingency orders from Malcall. He enjoys his time there, but it is lamentably short, for Khadufel awaits.
Returning to the Belendale, the heroes finish their preparation and magically journey to the guild house. They clear the civilians from the house and travel down to the basement. There they meet an ogre and several orcs, even one cleric. Yet they dispatch these weak minions easily. It seems Khadufel's resources are running thin. Then they find the invisible Khadufel himself, and the battle is joined. They try to corner him in an antimagic field, but the wily and cunning mage tricks them into dropping the field. Fiercely the heroes fight their arch enemy. Spells flash and glare, with lightning and fire scorching flesh and stone. Swords sweep and slash, and arrows are nocked and loosed. Yet luck favors the heroes this time. And when the smoke clears, the heroes, although badly injured, have slain the powerful Khadufel the Southerner. At long last, this, their most persistent enemy, is dead. They breathe a sigh of relief and look for Virginia. And they find her, but she is a sorry sight. It seems that Khadufel has chopped off her hand as punishment for Valanduil burning down his house. Hearing warning horns, the companions take Virginia and the body of Khadufel and teleport to the genie cave in the desert, where they burn and dispose of the body of the mage once and for all. Then they atone for the sin of killing the good treant while they were evil, and finally they take the maimed Virginia back to the Belendale, where she is healed in flesh if not in spirit.
|17th of Dekkos, 8172 F.R.|
Leaving Lady Virginia in the Summervale, the heroes travel back to Wizard Isle to finish collapsing the structure. And they have come in the knick of time, it seems, for arriving just after them is a minion of the Dweller in the Vale itself: a gigantic statue of a female orc constructed of white stone. Yet this statue moves, and it is a fierce combatant. After a tough fight, however, they destroy the construct and bury the Mists of Time once and for all under many tons of earth. They then return to the Belendale to discuss future plans.