Jun 18, 2017

7th Day of Wealsun, CY 579 (Hunting Xenous Zenpor)

After both Jarrus and Sir Gerard selected squires, and the ceremony to celebrate Asanther's life was complete, the party returned to the City of Greyhawk to prepare what they could before completing the quest that Asanther set out for them - to find and destroy the evil mage Xenous Zenpor. So while Jarrus and Gerard fitted their new squires with armor and weapons, Sarril was back at the Guild of Wizardry library, doing some research, as well as picking up some new 4th level spells.

Sarril was able to find a few facts about the wizard. Primarily that she was incredibly vain about her looks, and obsessed with spells and artifacts related to longevity. She was also an evil wizard who was briefly a member of the guild, but was kicked out when she displayed a desire to seek artifacts of power for her own selfish reasons, and did not give back to the guild. She was last heard from when she went seeking the Codex of the Infinite Planes - an ancient and powerful artifact rumored to last be in possession of Zagyg Yragerne. Xenous went into the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and was never heard from again.

Based on what they learned from the guild, and what Asanther told them about Xenous current location, the party deduced that Xenous was likely trapped in a demi-plane, and looking for a way out, which the party might provide if they are not careful. Jarrus suggested leaving her there, though Sir Gerard insisted that destroying her is the best course of action. The party agreed, but wanted to spend one more day staking out Zorbo's House of Fun, learning everything they could before going in. And so, that evening, Jarrus and Pontus sat across from the building, having drinks, deep inside the Thieve's Quarter, watching the activity within the fun house.
Zorbo's House of Fun

Though the building was closed at night, they did observe a few men in bright yellow robes with purple trim beneath their cloaks enter the building. Instead of the regular silver coin, they used a gold coin in the slot outside the door. Figuring this to be the information they needed, Jarrus and Pontus returned to the Silver Dragon Inn to report what they found to the rest of the party. The next day, the 7th Day of Wealsun, the party headed to Zorbo's House of Fun to see what they could find.

The party placed five gold coins in the slot outside the door, one for each of them, and then stepped inside. Although they came in not long after another group of people, they found themselves alone in a large, round room with a single door on the opposite side from where they entered. The floor contained a spiral pattern of alternating purple and yellow, and was very obviously not level. The furniture had one set of legs longer than the other to
even it out. The ceiling was divided by a pattern resembling a double lightning bolt (or as one player remarked, a "Charlie Brown" symbol). A man was in the room wearing bright yellow robes with purple trim, and wearing an unrecognized holy symbol resembling the ceiling pattern. He introduced himself as Abbot Kormath Burrsten, and welcomed the party to the "House of Zagyg the Great." This took Sarril by surprise, "did you say Zagyg?"

"Oh yes," replied the abbot. "It was the great Zagyg himself who built this wonderful place, and the maze beyond. But didn't you put a gold coin in the slot? That is why you are here." The party took the opportunity to question the abbot about his faith in Zagyg and this place, trying to get any clues they could about Xenous. Unfortunately, the abbot didn't seem entire sane, and the conversation was difficult, but they did learn that beyond the other door was something called the "Maze of Zagyg" which is a demi-plane where the followers of Zagyg believe he hid many items of great power. The party learned that many have entered the maze, but none have ever returned, at which point the part asked the abbot how one might return. He sold them a crystal for 10,000 gold pieces that he said would return them to the prime material plane when broken. He said that while they are welcome to take anything they find if they should have need of it, he would like anything they do not need to be returned to the House of Zagyg, that it may be put on display. The party agreed, then entered the doorway.

They found themselves in a long hallway with doors on either side. Sarril recognized the place from a dream he once had, and he knew better than to open any of the doors. As the party walked forward, the hallways stretched longer and longer, making the end further and further away. They then decided to walk backward instead, which seemed to compress the hallway. They continued this until the end of the hallway, which was covered in a swirling mist, came to meet them. One by one, they jumped through the mist, until they were all floating weightlessly with mist blocking their view in every direction. They could not move normally in this place, but they found they could "will" themselves in any direction with a thought. Sir Gerard then asked Asanther to use her powers to locate Xenous, and he then moved in that direction while the rest of the party followed. Eventually, the maze came into view, and it seemed to be the size of a mountain range. The entrance was marked with the face of a harlequin, and they move right to it.

Finding their way through the maze proved challenging, and nearly impossible to map properly, given that it was made up entirely of curved walls. The party spent many hours wandering and retracing their steps before Sarril pulled out some parchment and ink and started to draw a map. Occasionally, the party would come upon a round room in the maze and be presented with a challenge. The first challenge was being attacked by 24 Crimson Claws, which were hiding behind a floating dead body.
While the claws were low hit die creatures, they had magic resistance, and the sheer numbers of them meant they were wearing down Sir Gerard slowly. Finally, remembering that Sir Gerard had a ring of fire resistance on (or maybe he didn't remember, and did it anyway), Jarrus poured flaming oil all over Sir Gerard and lit him on fire. This caused the claws to scatter, and eventually die of their wounds after a few rounds.

The next encounter was with another dead body, this one of a priestess in similar yellow robes of Zagyg with the same holy symbol. In this room was also a phantom, which replayed the scene of her death over and over again on a loop. The woman came face to face with am apparition, which caused her to be strangled to death. The phantom forced several party members, including Sir Gerard, to flee in terror. This was the first time Gerard realized that his normal divine aura that cancels the effects of fear was not working here in this place. After looting the body of some scrolls and a silver mirror, the party moved on, with the scared members closing their eyes and being led through the room by those who had made their saves.

The third encounter was with the apparition that killed the priestess. Lucky for the party members that it attacked, they were able to make their saves to avoid instant death. It turns out the mirror, pointed at the apparition, would have forced it to flee, but no one thought of that, and so they killed it the old fashioned way.

The final encounter before they reached their destination at the center of the maze was with five terithrans. Terithrans are ugly beasts from the astral plane that have some pretty significant abilities, including being able to use a Power Word Stun at will. But Sarril heard them speaking up ahead in a strange language and decided to use the Tongues scroll he found earlier to listen to their conversation. After learning that they had already lost ten of their group to a "thing" in the center of the maze, and that they wanted whatever was inside a box in that room, Sarril was able to speak to them make a deal. If the terithrans would let the party pass, they would take care of the problem in the room and give the terithrans the box. Or at least, he would have negotiated something like that, except that mid-discussion, Sir Gerard pulled a "Leeroy Jenkins" and rushed into the room, sword in hand, to attack the box.

Gerard's Boots of Striding and Springing were not effective in this mist through which they were floating. As such, he didn't close the distance before the box opened, and four 16 hit dice elementals (one of each type) were summoned into the room. Sir Gerard found that he needed to take care of these elementals before he could get to the box. During this time, Asanther began to converse with the voice of Xenous Zenpor. Asanther telling Xenous that she has become more powerful and will finish in death, what she could not do in life. Xenous responded that she, too, has become more powerful in death, and that Asanther could not possibly comprehend the power she now wields. The next round, Pontus and Jarrus showed up to assist, and started make progress on wearing down the elementals. Pontus drank a full Potion of Fire Breath and unleashed it on the elementals, and Sir Gerard (who lost a few items as a result). It took a few rounds to kill the elementals, and during this time, the box opened and more spellpower was sent forth, including a Cone of Cold and a few more spells. Recognizing that he could not sustain any more damage, Sarril ran out of the room to get away from whatever the box was going to unleash next.

As soon as the elementals were out of the way, Sir Gerard rushed forward and struck the box with his sword. As he looked down into the box just before contact, he saw the disembodied face of a beautiful woman. As the sword came in contact with the box, there was a tremendous explosion which blew all of the party members in the room back against the mist walls. Everyone in the room took severe damage and lost a limb. But perhaps worst of all for Sir Gerard, the sword was destroyed, along with the Face of Xenous, leaving behind only an empty box in the room, which the terithrans were more than happy to take possession of. Only Sarril came out unscathed, as he has ran out of the room before the explosion took place.

After stabilizing the party as best he could, Sarril broke the crystal he had purchased from the abbot and the party found themselves, still sans limbs, inside the House of Zagyg. The abbot seemed surprised that they had returned, since no one ever has, though, they didn't return in one piece. The abbot suggested they find a priest to get an ointment or something for those wounds, or find the fabled Well of All Heals that is supposed to restore anything. Either way.

Jun 4, 2017

24th Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (wherein Sir Gerard gets a sword)

After some morning preparations, the party met back up with Luapan, who was off visiting his fellow clerics of Celestian at a nearby observatory in the Abbor Alz. The party shared with him what had happened in the city over the last couple of days, including the circumstances of Pontus' death, and Luapan, in turn, shared what he learned of Wastri, the Hopping Prophet, who seems to have established a large cult following far to the north in the Cold Marshes. Just another thing for the party to investigate at some later time, if they so choose.

After confirming directions to the Hamlet of Jakkarton, Sir Gerard led the party out of the City of Greyhawk, carrying the dead body of Pontus across his horse. About 20 miles east of the city, near the head of the Ery river, the party came across the a set of stone buildings that they knew to be the monastery of Heironeous, just outside of the Hamlet of Jakkarton. The party rode their horses down a small, seldom used path which led down to the buildings and a young woman came out to greet them. She introduced herself as Tythis, cleric of Heironeous. Sir Gerard introduced himself and the party, and explained the reason they had come. Tythis stabled their horses and invited them inside the temple to wait as she summoned Asanther.

A few minutes later, the door opens. An elderly woman enters, a woman whose right arm is missing at the shoulder. Her face is framed by a luxurious cascade of black and silver hair that falls to the small of her back. She wears a deep blue robe trimmed in silver. She is missing her right arm. She smiles gravely, a brilliant smile that radiates an aura of trust and understanding. Her movements, however, are weary. She nods, and moves slowly toward a covered chair.

Sir Gerard greeted Asanther and introduced himself and the party. He explained that Heironeous guided him to this temple in order that he may resurrect their fallen comrade. He then began to regale Asanther with tales of Pontus bravery and heroics - of how he rescued Prince Thrommel and helped destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil. He believes that Heironeous is not finished with Pontus in this world, and he needs to be brought back to continue his destiny.

Asanther explained that while only Heironeous' will can bring back Pontus, she was not strong enough to cast the necessary spell either way. She did, however, have one Raise Dead scroll in her possession that was provided to her by the high priests in Chendl. It is her only scroll, and the local Burgomaster is expecting that she will use it on him if the time should come that he has need of it. It is one of the few ways that she has to keep him in check, as he is otherwise a cruel tyrant to his peasants who rely on her for their protection. Because he is the lord of the land here, she is forbidden from taking any direct action against him, and so she helps the peasants as best she can. But she now knows that Heironeous himself sent the party to her aid on a quest, and she cannot deny his will. She stated if Sir Gerard and his companions would assist her in a mission, that she will use the scroll on Pontus.

“Mine is a tale of hardship and of joy; now of little importance." she said "As I have grown older I have also grown wiser. Many are my regrets, and few the deeds of which I am still proud. There is something I must do before I die. Years ago, I entrusted a very powerful magical item to a dear friend of mine. I must retrieve the item before I die . . . if I do not . . . the land may suffer and evil may fall upon the people I hold dear. Will you please help me?”

 Without any discussion with the party, Sir Gerard bowed to one knee and swore his sword to her service. Asanther then continued “There is a magical lake three days’ journey from here. The man who resides there is whom I seek. I will gladly pay you for your time with what little gold I own. Also perhaps, I shall entrust you with an item of great importance, if you are worthy.”

Sir Gerard insisted that no payment will be necessary, as it is his duty to assist her on her mission.
Asanther then prepared Pontus' body for the Raise Dead ritual, and read the scroll. After a few moments, Pontus opened his eyes heaved a breath of life. Asanther then performed some ritual healing magics on the now living Pontus to assist in restoring his body. As it was getting late, Asanther made rooms for the party to stay overnight, and prepared a simple meal for them.

Over dinner, she said “We should leave first thing in the morning. My only concerns are my lack of youth, and the possibility that I might meet resistance attempting to leave this area. Junus Jakkar, the local burgomaster, has ordered me to remain at this shrine. He fears that my departure, even for a day or two, could affect his field laborers. He is a greedy and insensitive man who fears too much. The land and its people are the most important things in my life. Even if I were to leave for a short time I would return. Janus thinks only of his fat belly. Forgive me if I speak ill of him, but he often bullies the people who work so hard to put food on his plate.”

The next morning (25th day of Flocktime), the part headed out on horseback with Asanther. The way out led through the hamlet. Asanther warned that the burgomaster's may try to stop them, and she would prefer to avoid violence. Sure enough, 10 armed and armored guards were blocking the road ahead. "Halt in the name of the burgomaster, Junus Jakkar!" one of them shouted. "Leave the good priestess with us and go quietly and no one will get hurt. Otherwise we will take her from you by force." Sir Gerard attempted to negotiate his way through the impasse, but their orders were clear. They moved in for the attack, but Sarril and Luapan were ready with Hold Person spells. The first round held about half of them, while the Sir Gerard, Jarrus and Pontus defended and did not attack. The second round, all but 1 were held, and the last guard ran away.

As they exited town, something invisible grabbed Asanther and started dragging her away. Recognizing that this was a summoned creature of some sort, Luapan cast a Dispel Magic, which succeeded, breaking the summoning charm and sending the creature away. The party then rode away on their mission, stopping after about 8 hours to let Asanther rest. Popping up the Daern's Instant Fortress, the party and their horses were able to rest inside, completely impervious to danger. They listened to some howling wolves for a while, but they eventually dispersed. And so the three-day journey continued uneventful like this.

On the evening of the second night, as the party made camp, Asanther revealed some more of her story. “The time has come,” Ansanther speaks in a voice little above a whisper, “to tell you of the wonders of the Lake of Mist. The lake is small but protected but powerful magics and surrounded by a thick mist. It can not be found on any map, But can be found with this. . .” So saying, Ansanther revealed a small, clear glass ball that was half filled with water. She continues, “Ilkif the mage once gave me this device. It will lead us to the lake through the magical mist.” As she held the item in her hand the water defied gravity and slide up the inside of the sphere. Smiling, Ansanther said, “Ilkif was always so clever. The water shows us the direction in which the lake lies. Beware though, for the mist is thick, and we must pass through it quickly, as fell things are known to live within. Lastly, beyond the mist at the edge of the lake stands the guardian. Fear not, it has never stopped me in the past.”

The next morning (28th day of Flocktime), the party continued on the road, which led into a forest. Thick mist began to surround them, and grew thicker to the point that they could only see 10 feet in any direction. They realized they could go no further with their horses, so setup the Instant Fortress and placed the horses inside, before shrinking it back down to a cube. As the party continued through the mist, shadows could be seen in the mist 20 feet out. Low to the ground and long, there were no less than 12 shadows circling them as they walked. An occasional howling could be heard. The party ignored the shadows and continued to follow the water in the glass sphere, eventually leaving the trail and arriving on the shore of a lake. The mist cleared, and they could see, suspended in the air above the center of the lake, an enormous, opaque sphere. Standing at the water's edge was a stone statue next to a brass gong. The statue struck the gong with its fist, causing a reverberation across the water. The statue then turned toward the party, raised its fists, and moved in for the attack.

"Please, tell the golem why we are here. Ilkif will hear you," pleaded Asanther in a whisper. Sir Gerard spoke to the golem, telling it that the party was escorting Asanther and that she seeks the mage, Ilkif, but the golem did not respond. It attacked first with a "slow" spell on the party, which everyone successfully saved against. Hiding behind the golem was the pixie, Snotme, who fired sleep
arrows but could not hit (the party did not notice the pixie). The party was soon in full melee, with Jarrus and Pontus attacking the golem while Sir Gerard, whose weapon was ineffective, attempted to position himself between the golem and the others.

The pixie then cast one of the few spells it had that could be effective, "Otto's Irresistable Dance," on Pontus. This took Pontus out of the fight for the next couple of rounds while the rest of the party whacked at the golem like a pi├▒ata. With the incredible damage Jarrus is dealing out with two attacks per round, the golem didn't last long, and crumbled into pieces. Snotme, the pixie, flew to a safe location and, as the party started to approach the lake, yelled out "I wouldn't go in there if I were you! There is a big, bad, terrible monster in that lake. It will eat you up, yep, swallow you whole it will."

Ignoring the pixie, the party went to the water's edge where Asanther placed the glass sphere into the water. The sphere grew large and a door opened on the side. The party stepped inside the sphere, and
began walking as the sphere rolled across the lake surface. They reached the underside of the larger sphere, and rose up, merging into a foyer, at which point the glass bubble they were in expanded again until it merged with the larger sphere around them, placing them inside Ilkif's very strange home. The furniture was made of an opalescent substance that resembled soap bubbles, and was clearly not of this world. The upper levels of the sphere were transparent from the inside, giving a beautiful view of the lake.

As Asanther began calling for Ilkif, she feared something was wrong when she received no response. The party led her up to the third level, where they heard a faint moaning coming from behind a door. Everyone rushed in to find a man lying in bed, fevered and delirious, and possibly dying. Asanther rushed to his side  “Ilkif, my poor Ilkif. . .”, she cries. She then turned to the party and said “Please leave us alone for a time. I will do all
in my power to help or comfort him as I can. Please, our time together may be short. I also suggest that you rest, since we all know that we are safe here.”

The party decided to hang out in the main living area, as well as raid the kitchen for food. A few hours later, they heard a loud explosion come from behind the door which shook the sphere severely. Using his newly acquired Boots of Striding and Springing, Sir Gerard rushed through the door and bounded up the stairs through an open trapdoor. The room above looks like it was once a magical workshop, but was now engulfed in multi-colored flames. In the center of the room, resting on top of a burning tome, was a beautiful, glowing sword. To the right and left of the sword were the bodies of
Ansanther and Ilkif. Ilkifs left hand resting on the burning book, his right wrapped around Ansanther. Asanther lied still. Her right hand on the pommel of the shining sword.

Sir Gerard picked up the sword, and immediately knew what it was. A +5 Holy Avenger. But more than that, the sword contained the soul of Asanther, who spoke to Sir Gerard, explaining to him that it was her final wish that she be placed within the sword before she died so that she may continue to do the will of Heironeous and fight evil. She also explained that her most pressing mission is to finish a quest that she had previously failed - to kill an evil mage by the name of Xenous Zenpour. When she
was a paladin, she and her party attempted this feat and failed, with all of the members of her party being killed and she losing her arm. She had been waiting for one worthy enough to succeed where she could not, and she knows that Sir Gerard is the one.

As the party was surveying the damage, the sphere around them started to collapse and break apart. The quickly ran down the stairs and the floor beneath them fell away. Everyone grabbed onto to alien-looking furniture as they were dumped into the water. The furniture floated, allowing them to paddle to shore. As they had just been earlier discussing the need to furnish the inside of the Instant Fortress, the party decided this was the perfect opportunity and set up the fortress and placed the furniture inside before continuing. Using Pontus' outdoor tracking skills, they were able to find their way back out of the mist, recover the horses and be on their way. Since they did not have Asanther slowing them down, they were able to make it back to the Hamlet of Jakkarton in just two days, arriving the afternoon of 2nd day of Wealsun.

Back in the Hamlet there was pandemonium, as the villagers, believing their beloved priestess had been kidnapped or murdered by the party, were quickly turning into an angry mob. The burgomaster came out of his manor house along with his mage, Mercres and many guards. The burgomaster demanded justice for the kidnapping and murder of his citizen. Sir Gerard then pulled out the holy avenger sword, which spoke to the crowd in Asanther's voice, assuring them that this was her plan and the party had done a noble deed in assisting her in her dying wish. The crowd then split in two, with half of the people praising the party and getting angry at the burgomaster for his misdeeds, and the other half suspicious. The guards were afraid to act, knowing from experience the superior strength of the party, and it seemed things were at an impasse. Tythis came running up the road to see what was going on and grew concerned about the whereabouts of Asanther (as the party would soon learn that Asanther was her mother - a secret they kept to avoid the shame associated with a paladin failing her vows). Sir Gerard was able to sway the rest of the crowd to the party's side in a persuasive speech, which then turned the crowd, as well as most of the guards, against the burgomaster. Soon they were chanting for the death of Junus Jakkar, for all of the horrible treatments he had inflicted on them. Possibly not wanting to be strung-up by association, Mercres cast a spell and turned Junus Jakkar into a slug, after which he was quickly squashed to death by the citizens.

Recognizing a power vacuum, Sir Gerard insisted that law and order must prevail in the absence of the local lord and asked the villagers to elect a new leader. They gathered together and asked Tythis to be their new leader, which she cautiously agreed to. Sir Gerard then realized he will need to stay for a few days to make sure the transition of power takes place smoothly. He would help Tythis prepare for a ceremony to honor the life of her mother. During their conversation with Tythis, she expressed that she never knew her father, whom the party was able to guess must have been Ilkif. They told her all that they knew of him and Luapan gave her the burned spellbook - the only thing they had of his to give her and honor his memory (well, except for all of the furniture they crammed into the fortress, but that didn't occur to anyone at the moment). Sir Gerard and Pontus then remained in the hamlet while the rest of the party went to Greyhawk to get supplies.

While in Greyhawk, Jarrus was able to pick-up his completed full-plate armor, which he realized he
Janziduur, Priestess of Tritherion
now needs assistance with, so he advertised for a contest in the hamlet of Jakkarton to take place the following day in order to select his squire. He also visited the Temple of Tritherion, and realized he aligned very well with the teachings of this deity, and shared a lot in common with the priestess, with whom he bonded. She helped him spread the word of the contest for his squire.

After collecting some more goods in the city and taking care of other personal business, the next morning (3rd day of Wealsun), Jarrus, Sarril and Luapan rode back to Jakkarton to help setup for the ceremony. Several young men, and a few young women from Greyhawk and from the hamlet arrived to test themselves for the honor of being Jarrus' squire. It seems Jarrus (and the party) has started to develop a reputation, and many people would find it an honor to be associated with him. The contest was held and Jarrus selected a girl by the name Tonya for the prestigious job of being his squire. After seeing this, Sir Gerard decided that he will also test the candidates, to see if any might qualify to become his squire - though he has his own criteria used to judge.

And so we left it, on the 3rd Day of Wealsun, 579CY, one day before the ceremony to honor Asanther. Will Sir Gerard find his squire amongst the many hopefuls?