Campaign of the Month: January 2014

Greyhawk 937 CY: The Age of Steam

The City of Necromancers
Readying 23rd, 937CY

On the way to Hollowfaust, Eve sequestered herself away, cramming in the last moments she had before the Master’s Exam. I’d heard of the exam before. Most people actually interested in Hollowfaust have. Guildsmen looking to take the exam are expected to have knowledge capable of making them a master in any of Hollowfaust’s guilds. A task made harder as time goes by and knowledge grows. From what my Aunt Millie and cousin Sarah say, the average age of exam takers is 36 and failing the first time is not considered a bad thing. Eve is barely eighteen. I wonder where that puts her in Hollowfaust’s history?

She came out on deck when we approached the city, eyes gleaming and happy to see her home. And not for the first time, I wished that every citizen of Greyhawk City had just an ounce of the same pride that Hollowfaustians had for their home. It would solve quite a few problems.

The ship docked in the Second District, or Garden District, behind the main city. There was a group of people from customs to meet us specifically. We were given silver curfew tokens, which is quite a step up from the standard copper ones. It looked like a shinier version of the one Gavin VII carried when in Hollowfaust. Each were marked on the back with Grandmaster Baryoi’s name.

Mortekai wandered off to the First District while Belle, Vane, Bannik, and Delwin took up the offer of a tour from a guide. Eve went off in the company of a very attractive female half-elf who was waiting for her. I hailed a carriage to the Upperfaust to call on Aunt Millie and Sarah, who were excited to have me visit. After a bit of settling in, I went out for some shopping and met up with everyone at the Bone Market. Mortekai and Al were following up on the trade of animal parts attempting to pin down were Vayne was getting his supply. Parts have been hard to find lately and it seems like the Pomarj leadership is restricting the supply by reducing the amount of infighting among orcs. That’s a typical sign of marshaling warriors for a future strike outside the confines of the Pomarj. However, no one has actually heard of anyone coming to power there. Which means it isn’t just the supply of body parts that’s being restricted.

A member of the Black Guard came by after breakfast to escort me into the Underfaust. Sarah had prepared me a little for what I would see, since the description in the Journal is 300 years out of date, and I was still blown away. The tunnel leading down into the Underfaust was lined with shining, copper trees reaching up into the darkness. The tiny copper leaves on the trees moved gently on a breeze, chiming when they touched another leaf. Pocket gardens of plants enticed into growing underground under strange glowing lights appeared in every alcove. Every available wall space was carved or painted with incredible detail. An astonishing mural depicting the first flowering of the Ghost Quarter here. An ethereal carving of ghosts swirling through the air there. It was absolutely breath taking in its ever autumnal beauty.

It made the offices of the Grandmaster Baryoi look plain by comparison. Eve was already waiting in the office when the rest of us came in, a massive portfolio case leaning against the back of her chair. It was almost like seeing her for the first time. In Greyhawk City, she was plainly from Hollowfaust in the way she dressed. But here, she looked like a Guildsman and carried herself with the grace and dignity of her class. Her midnight blue coldweave coat gave off little bits of light picked up by the intricate silver embroidery covering it; skulls set in snowflakes.

The Grandmaster himself wore a hat of disguise, though it didn’t prevent the cold that liches exude. I suppose that what I saw was what he looked like in life. Which is a shame. He was rather attractive. While speaking, he walked around the room in a well worn path. Seriously, the carpet looked brand new and already there was a marked trail. Well, everyone has their teacup. But just like every other undead we’ve come across, when his path went by Eve, he would pause for a moment, hand resting on the back of her chair or her portfolio, and once even on her head, before moving on. Not once did Eve indicate that any of this was the least bit unusual.

Am I the only one noticing this?

After a short round of introductions, Master Baryoi expanded on Frederick Wolfsmith’s case file. The Talons of the Mother is a cult born from the ashes of the Sulm empire when Tiamat stood on the verge of victory and the God Pact was endangered. Bahamut met her on the field and brokered the deal we saw in the mural. Bahamut swore to leave Oerth at a specific time, giving Tiamat’s followers the chance to prove that humanity was as greedy and selfish as a dragon and deserved Tiamat’s rule. At this time, five chromatic dragons or their chosen would play a six way chess match against one human serving as hope for humanity. If that one person wins, he can bring Bahamut back. If he loses, well, that’s it for us.

Suddenly, the ‘Chess Lesson’ is a far more important event than just the new generation meeting our Great Ancestor.

The Talons of the Mother attempted to force the situation before its time by locating the chess set and attempting to destroy it. Jeremy Moonrise, Frederick Wolfsmith, Quinten Tarella, and Serena Hollis intercepted them and scattered the set so the cult would not have a chance to destroy it or manipulate the odds in their favor before the time was right. Master Baryoi indicated that after each destination for the pieces was chosen, the information was erased from his memory. The only one he knows of would also be the place hardest to access: Itar. The clues are in Frederick’s case notes, and those are hidden as well. But we do have a big clue. The Hollis’ are a Sevestrian family. Serena Hollis was a Sevestrian messenger during the time of Gavin VIII and IX. I know where to find her journals and notes.

Mortekai, who’d been unusually silent until this point, wanted to know why the chess set wasn’t just given to a metallic dragon or split between several.

That was when I wondered exactly what they were teaching people at Grey University. The assumption that any dragon, metallic or no, would give a rat’s ass about non-dragons is so stupid it’s dangerous. The idea that a dragon’s definition of good is anything like a human’s is laughable. And with Bahamut gone, how long before ‘good’ dragon hearts turn cold? At what point will humanity realize that dragons do not exist to be our very special friends?

I bid Eve good luck as she went off to her test and spent the afternoon writing out the report Addie should be writing for Chalk. Speak of the devil, I wondered what Addie is doing back in Greyhawk City. I hope she isn’t harassing Aestrella. The diva has the kind of clout to make life hard for Chalk’s little team.

I really wish I could talk to Gavin right now.

C.

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The Journal of Serena Hollis
The Fifth of Planting, 642 CY

The Journal of Serena Hollis

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I had not expected, a month ago, to be travelling up the mountain paths to the city of Necromancers. I had been in Hollowfaust before on business but not like this time. Never before was I about to see the sovereign council or any or its members. But this was a unique circumstance to say the least.

The only other time I visited the city I wondered what the first of the necromancers felt when they saw it. A city at the end of winding roads that had once seen trade and life, that sat mostly intact and occupied only by corpses or worse. Death mages from an empire violently dying coming to a dead city in a still world. Their unique skills were suited specifically to use the raw materials at hand to rebuild it into a home.

What gods did this band of Suel, who were fleeing the destruction of their empire, thank when they saw the massive walls that could protect them and their offspring for ages to come? But rumor had it that the city was changing. That the work of Master Kylie Evernight had brought a new expansion and the self support of farmable land to the city. Spring had come to the city of eternal Autumn.

In front of me on the ancient road was Jeremy Moonrise, a skilled but arrogant and sometimes insane member of the Hollowfaust Secret Police. Next to him on the winding path was his elegant brute of a bodyguard, Fredrick Wolfsmith. Each master necromancer was assigned a bodyguard called an Unfailing. The unfailing could use the innate magic in them and negative energy around them, to perform amazing feats of healing and damage. I have seen Frederick get his neck broken and just snap it back into place. That skill comes in handy when you have to protect someone who runs their mouth more than a professional marathoner runs their legs.

A little behind me was an illusionist and con artist named Quentin Tarella. With the full gambit of all colors and fashions at his illusionary disposal he chose, for obvious reasons of an undisclosed mental condition, to dress like the sunrise got sick on eggs and exploded. He was a virtual colorblind rainbow of golden hues that seemed to hang belligerently on his frame. For all that he is nice enough and honest. I have to admire his skill at deception as a craft since it is obviously not in his nature to desire it.

So it was into this company I found myself obligated while executing my duties. I am a messenger and mage in the employ of the Sevestrian family. That means that I take packages and messages from one place to another. I protect others who carry messages if there is some reason it needs to be someone else. The family I work for is considered by some to be a group of crime lords. That is a simplistic understanding that lacks context. They are involved in some concerns that are less than accepted. But they also possess many legitimate operations, including trading and merchant caravans. But the most important thing to remember about them is that they are one of the protectors of Greyhawk City. They love the city. Some say too much. All I know is they view the city as an ideal above all others and they are her servants. That defines them more than any other endeavor in the family history, because the business may change but the devotion to the Free City will never end.

A little over a week ago the family became involved with a project Mr. Moonrise had concerning a cult. It was interfering with our trade routes and had a personal relation to something the family god was involved in when he was alive. So I was dispatched to aid them in exposing the secret society, but we found that things went deeper. The group was just about to take possession of what seems to be an odd artifact chess set. The set is obviously magic and has room and pieces for players to play each of the flan tribes. So we are taking the set to Hollowfaust to see what the head of the secret police has to say about the matter.

The reluctant Lich, Master Baryoi, sat behind his desk and thought over the report. He kindly wore a hat of disguise to simulate his appearance from when he was alive. Baryoi was a unique being in many ways. He had been a mortal necromancer hundreds of years ago. By all reports he was a man committed to justice and the preservation of the city. He was one of the few people to see the corruption of two of the guilds.

But before he was able to do anything about it he was captured by the traitors and used in experiments. By the time the wheels he had set in motion brought about the discovery of the rot at the heart of the sovereign council, he had been turned into a lich as part of the experiments. The horrified Necromancers in charge made him head of one of the fallen guilds and he was put in charge of the law and secret police in Hollowfaust, as well as her external agents.

“I’ve been doing some research since your original message,” he began as he put the report down,”and it is both interesting and distressing.” He stood up and the eyes of Frederick and Jeremy followed him on a worn and well known route around the office.

It seems Baryoi was a creature of habit to a great extent. That was unsurprising, the undead are about habits. They are in a state that, no matter how long, is at odds with their own nature. Habits, little ones or big ones, are all they have to remember a time when things were different.

One of the Sevestrian aunts had an old tea cup that she often served tea in to a young admirer. She did this for years until her got up the courage to ask her to marry him. It turned out that the poor man died in an accident shortly after his marriage proposal was accepted. She always made two cups of tea, one in her cup and one in his, till the day she died.

Sometimes they still find two filled tea cups on her old kitchen table. The living and the dead are about habits. Habits keep them sane and are both a strength and a weakness. This pacing on a worn route, obvious by both my companions eyes and the carpet, was Baryoi’s teacup. Or at least one of them. And it was why the family now has a saying: “Everyone has their Teacup.” Everyone has a comfort. Everyone has a strength. Everyone has a weakness. Even Baryoi.

“It seems the history on this is very old," he said, while finally taking a chess piece and examining it. “We’ve interviewed some ancient Flan we could find and obtained some archaeology records. And the results are sobering. Long ago on the Plain of Spears when the Sulm slew the god of Itar…Vathris, the other gods came close to breaking the god pact.”

I leaned forward. Only some gods could be directly active in the world. The dragon and demihuman gods could, but within limits. Human gods could act through clerics as their main road. Gods who were ascended to hero or family god level could also interact more often since it was their home plane. The god pact kept everyone alive. It was there so all mortals were not crushed under the heels of giants as they squabbled about whatever it is cosmic entities squabbled about from time to time. I had never heard of a time when it seriously came close to breaking. And “finding” ancient Flan for those in Hollowfaust has an interesting connotation.

“Vathris was a god of technology and innovation. He promoted hope and learning. He came from the people as a mortal at first so he was allowed to be active in their defense to a point. But Tiamat went beyond what she was allowed by the pact. She not only aided the Sulm through the remains of her fallen empire, she actively showed up on the Plain of Spears and drove a spear through Vathris. It was then that only Rao kept the other human gods a bay from entering the fight.Bahamut arrived and brokered a deal.

The deal was that at some point in the time of the world he would leave. And people would have a short time to get him back. They would do this by gathering a chess set he made. It had all the tribes of the old Flan from the Bright Desert. Enough for one chromatic dragon type each, or a chosen champion that is not clear, to take an army and oppose one mortal player. The winner gets a wish from the dragon gods that can not be twisted or warped. If the chosen mortal wins they can prove the worth of humanity by calling Bahamut back to Oerth. In exchange Tiamat stopped her involvement with the war. If mortals prove greedy or selfish with the wish then Tiamat would be allowed to directly rule her empire again.

So this cult: The Talons of the Mother; was born from the remains of her empire. They sought the set and apparently after tens of thousands of years they just found it. Thier intent is to destroy it and prove the greed of humanity. Or to wait for whenever Bahamut leaves and play the game with their own person as the mortal. Whatever the path, they can not be allowed to have it. It must be hidden from them.”

We sat for awhile until Jeremy spoke. “So we can’t give it to the good dragons then.”

It wasn’t a question, and I was about to question it when Quentin said, “Why not? Gold dragon…very safe and with a vested interest to keep it for when daddy comes back.”

Jeremy shook his head. “People need to stop thinking of metallic dragons and good people. They are good dragons. But just as with people it is not the good or bad that should come first in the more powerful part of the nature. It is what they are. So they are not good dragons as much as they are dragons who are good.”

“And…now that the adjective police have informed me of my rights?” asked Quentin.

Jeremy continued, “Dragons are magical godlings concerned about…well concerned about Dragons. Except in rare cases, Bahamut being one, there is not a ton of sacrifice that would outweigh an ounce of self preservation. Even the good ones are self absorbed and greedy to a point. What happens when the source of that is gone? “Good” dragon hearts will run cold. With the possible exception of one or two…they will do anything to survive and become like their counterparts. Perhaps set up their own power to counter Tiamat rather than serve her, but they will not care for us.”

The room was silent and it was hard to doubt the truth of it, “So we hide it?” I asked.

“Not as a single piece,” said Frederick.

“Oh gods,” cried Jeremy, “Not making heroes put things together again.”

Baryoi smiled and it was sad to think of the man who was turned into a lich by traitors while he tried to protect the city. “Well, there are reasons it happens this way.” He sat down and looked at the floor in thought before raising his head. We will set an alarm on the board it can alert me when someone touches it. We find out where they got it and put it back. They’ll never think to go back. We make a false one to mislead them.”

“With you so far,” said Quentin.

“And our agents take the set, an army apiece and scatter them hidden in dangerous places so when it is time good proves its worth by finding them,”
“And by agents?” Quentin asked.

“Master Moonrise, his unfailing Sir Wolfsmith and whoever chooses to help them…you if you so choose. I have no ability to order you or Miss Hollins into danger.”

Quentin and I looked at each other. “I will have to ask,” I said, “but I know the Gavin’s wishes.”

Quentin nodded, “I’m in. It’s no worse than home.”

Baryoi looked serious, “Likely by the time Bahamut leaves I will be the only one in this room left. But it would not do to keep the information in my head. So after I know it, I will have it removed. Miss Hollins and Mr. Tarella it would be best if you help in some ways but are not told how to get to the locations or where they are specifically.”

We nodded.

“Jeremy and Frederick,” He turned to them, “You know what this means. You need to know all the details but you also need to, after death, to be put out of any reach of the cult or even Tiamat. You must never be captured or summoned after your death.”

The nodded in unison.

“For the city,” said Jeremy.

“For the city,” said Frederick.

I didn’t have time to ask out loud what idiocy they were somberly engaging in before Baryoi turned to me, “Miss Hollins, the family that employs you engages in secrets and likely will be involved in any massive threat to Greyhawk City.”

“Without question.”

“Then you can know the first location. Some information you leave with their records can be the first clue, Whatever you leave make sure they know that the Ataphad Islands hold more than the secrets of the Baklunish crowns.”

“Well,” I smiled, “I’ll just write that directly. I’m not given to spycraft.”

“Really,” he said with a smile, “And we can end here since I am not given to calling young ladies less than honest.”

“Good thing that,” I said, “seems we have some things to do anyway.”

So that is why this journal entry has the bookmark in it in the records. If that gets moved I am sure Fredericks story (which is how most of this will be passed along) will lead any Sevestrian worth the name to the family records from the messengers.

As we left I did flag Jeremy and Frederick down. “So what does this mean for you? What did he mean by that?”

Quentin caught up, “I wondered as well. Well I didn’t but it’s a good question.”

Jeremy stopped and looked at us. “When fausters die we serve the city. As parts. As help. As resources. We become undead in whatever capacity fits the need and in relation to the station we had in life. Some great ones are interred in the Underfaust, in the crypt so they can be consulted in times of great need. But all of us here have negative energy so in us it is easy hundreds of years later to summon us and talk with us.”

I pondered that for a moment. The crypt let them be accessible. Death made them accessible in undeath. “So if the crypt where those they want to consult stay accessible and even without that you could be called with a simple spell because of your affinity to death…what is the opposite of the crypt. How are you inaccessible?”

“I would hope,” he answered, “they find a way to keep us in the protection of a god. In Leara’s Twilight garden perhaps. But I am not sure if that violates the pact. I’m sure they will think of something other than the way I assume would be the easiest.”

I paused for a moment, still and silent as they moved on. I looked at Quentin, who also stopped. We moved. Quickly to catch up. “Which would be what,” I asked, “Destruction? Are you talking about destroying your souls? Total obliteration for all time?”

“Either way,” he said, “it is strange to us. You spend your lives avoiding death and even more so undeath but ultimately it is the easiest thing. Here we know we will walk around after death in Hollowfaust. Undeath to us is a way to serve those we love and the city we love.”

“And now you don’t get it. Now you just end…maybe even end forever?

“It seems.”

“Why would you ever do that?” I asked.

They looked at each other and Frederick shrugged. “What would you do for Greyhawk City. What would a Sevestrian do for the city?”

I had no answer. Well I had one, but not the one that I wanted.

“For the city,” Jeremy said, “everything for for the city.”

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How Obvious Can This Be?
Readying 21st, 937CY

Gavin, Michael, and Vicky were waiting for me when I got in. While I washed up and got ready to go down to dad’s office, I described what had happened. Placing the false report in front of Old Jonas worked. The men in the warehouse reacted immediately and called Gunther for instructions. After transferring the body parts from crates to bags, they loaded a wagon and high tailed it to the river. We followed via Braithwaite’s animated bag of corpse parts. We arrived in time to find the Fog Man taking out the Dronik workmen and engaging the low level demon running the operation in combat.

Addie, displaying an incredible inability to do anything other than be a member of the watch, tells the Fog Man and the demon that they are under arrest. In the momentary lapse of action, the Fog Man killed the demon and threw the body onto the barge loaded with body part bags. Mortekai raised the four Dronik goons as zombies to flank the Fog Man while the rest of the group closed on him. After a short scuffle, the Fog Man opened all the vents on his apparatus and dissipated. Eve and Mortekai indicated that whatever he was, necromancy was involved in some way.

We quickly retrieved the evidence from the stolen barge while Eve put out the fire on it caused by the demon’s blood. Addie, pissed that people had gotten away, said that she might impound the barge out of spite. An action I told her would not happen as the barge was stolen to begin with and the poor owner was already going to have to deal with getting demon stink off of it. Addie went back to the warehouse and found a map of the dig at Onnwal, an issue we knew about, but this time with a date that indicated tomorrow was the day they would move on the dig.

My siblings took the information in and, just for a moment, Gavin had that look our father has had on his face of late. The look none of us had seen since Vicky’s parents had died. After grabbing a tray with tea from the kitchen I went into dad’s office and gave him, Uncle Michael, and Aunt Kestrel the same run down. I must have fallen asleep at some point during the conversation because I didn’t remember going to bed when I woke up in the morning.

Vicky had my things ready to go so all I had to do was grab the breakfast in a bag Nessa had waiting for me in the kitchen. The group boarded Marin’s ship and we were at the dig by 9am. The area was quiet with a dome of force/protection against evil around the main tent. Spencer indicated that the dome was a magical item his father possessed. Once on the ground, Spencer and Taylor’s father, Vindar, brought us up to speed. A Frost barbarian woman led the raid of the dig. They knew what they were looking for and went directly into the entrance to the throne room.

We went down that way and found the traps had been meticulously dismantled, indicating that the raiders knew exactly what they were looking for. Of note, however, were the murals on the wall, indicating that Tiamat, on the verge of victory, met with Bahamut and then withdrew her forces. Whether this was the God Pact being enacted upon her or deal struck remains to be seen.

In the throne room, the sarcophagus was empty. A small chamber off the throne room had a chest, the lid of which was slammed so forcefully in anger that the lock on it was broken. Inside was a place for a strange, six sided chess board, but instead of the game board and pieces was a very old Hollowfaust Secret Police Badge. Following a secret exit from the throne room we came out to where the raiders had teleported away. While Mortekai worked on tracing the spell, an ethereal raven dropped a package for Eve.

Inside was the answer to the mysterious Secret Police Badge. It was a previously unknown casebook of Frederick Wolfsmith detailing the finding of an artifact six sided chess board. Included was a letter from the Reluctant Lich himself inviting the group to Hollowfaust to discuss the matter. Addie, in a display of what I hope was frustration and not a serious lack of mental capacity, was angry at what she termed the lack of leads. While she ignored the obvious, I had Eve read the casebook to me and copied it down in Oerdian. I made a second copy and wrote up the report Chalk should receive regarding the situation. Making a package of the casebook copy, the report, and a letter to my father, I took some comfort in knowing that I was going to put Theodolphus Chalk in the uncomfortable position of wishing that a Sevestrian worked for him.

It looks like I’m going to Hollowfaust. And it looks like I will have the distinction of being the third member of my family to see the Underfaust!

C.

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The Case of The Dragon’s Disciples

Journeyman Starfall,

Enclosed is a section of a lost casebook from the Unfailing Frederik Wolfsmith. It contains information relevant to your recent incident. Since this development is important and unexpected please return to Hollowfaust by Readying the twenty-third for your masters exam. Your companions are welcomed and some representation from them to discuss the contents of this letter is expected. As you can surmise this situation is directly related to your letter from Zagyg. We have information that will aid you in the pursuit of your quest. And, of course, it is time for your exam. You will be contacted concerning travel arrangements to return home.
Regards,
Baryoi

The Case of The Dragon’s Disciples

It was a little over five years after the Heroes of The Codex defeated Asmodeus that the lives of my master, myself and some of our friends became far more complex than we ever anticipated. I would hazard a guess that over time my master began to miss the practical jokes and casual derision of Master Evernight; even if just a little. It was not out of any untoward affection but out of a sense of crushing boredom. Indeed he was never overly tolerant of her jibe, but he did honestly find them creative and by extension eventful. It is hard to describe the slow growth of the supernatural peace that filled Oerth after the defeat of the lord of all devils. Poets and historians still struggle with it. The most accepted description was by a poet in the service to the Canon of Rao. He described it as:

“The growing recline of the sun into beautiful and peaceful twilight upon the well deserved sleep of all mortality for a short time. The entrance into a sweet dream after long millennia filled with the nightmares of Vecna, Iuz, the mad god and countless other waking horrors. A repose that, while not eternal might serve to refresh all people for greater challenges bent toward the ultimate triumph of good. A rest that should be not only enjoyed but praised as a gift from all good gods, earned by the hands of all mortal races.”

My master, never short on words, had a differing description.

“Booooooorrreeeedddddd.” He complained to me one day while dramatically lounging in the rooms of an inn in Chendle. “I have no idea why we are on such a simple assignment. This recent lull in anything interesting is like coffin nails being used as sewing needles to finish the stitches after a brain surgery done by a bevy of drunken gnomes with ice cream scoops. ”

“Master, you are one of the top agents of one of the most clandestine agencies in the world. But even we have assignments from time to time that are not…particularly adventurous.”

He spun from his reclining position and planted his feet on the floor with a loud thump. “Frederik, a walk with an old woman discussing her latest opinions of penmanship is not particularly adventurous. An evening with a soft spoken dwarf who makes napkin animals and does not drink is not particularly adventurous. But this…checking the undead resonance in Chendle a little over thirty years after Vecna turned the whole population undead, is busy work.”

I had to inwardly agree but could not do so outwardly. “Master,” I said, “Perhaps there are strange generational birth defects, odd plants…unforgiving nightmares of strange and dubious origin. You really have not even given this a chance.” There was some truth to my words. We were only just unpacking in our rooms at the inn.

He flopped back onto the bed and gazed at the ceiling. “There has been nothing lately. I feel like a journeyman sent to catalogue beetles that feed on zombie flesh and their coloration variances.”

“That,” I said, “is foolish.” I closed the drawer of the dresser after putting away my things, “As you well know Master Nightvale has been assigned that.”

“Ah,” he sighed, “Well Cecil has always been interested in odd things. Can’t we go harass Kylie in Greyhawk City.”

“Last time we did that master, you had stitches.”

“Yes,” he said as he rubbed the spot on his forehead, “I was unaware a pregnant woman could hit that hard.”

Our first perusal of Chendle showed some evidence of the tragedy of thirty years ago. Having your entire population turned into undead can be memorable. In particular since many of the current citizens had been part of Vecna’s undead legions. Scholars had been through Chendle many many times and most of what could be studied or written about the situation had already been set onto pages. There were residual nightmares, of the kind you would expect. Some odd birth issues and a predilection toward necromancy in the children of those who had been undead…but all that had been documented. I must admit I was confused at the assignment. We were normally assigned to threats, serious situations or missions to aid Hollowfaust masters and journeymen. Not third looks at research topics.

I could tell my masters attitude was not solely caused by boredom. He too was curious about the real nature of the assignment. But he had never handled not knowing something well. His frustration and boredom were symptoms of his greater worry concerning the actual nature of our assignment.

We were eating at a local inn, surrounded by volumes of studies into the nature of Chendle post Vecna. After consuming a lunch of melted cheese mixed with dark beer over toast, we sat in silence as we examined the existing material on the area. For my part I mainly organized the material in a manner that suited my master’s style. After nearly an hour of silence my master smiled.
“Well, it seems this is interesting.”

“Oh,” I asked, “has someone made an interesting observation?”

“Oh gods no,” he replied, “Not at all. It’s what they are not observing that is extremely interesting.” He spread out a series of papers. “This is a catalogue of those who have exhibited necromantic abilities since their parents, who were turned into undead and back, gave birth to them. Look at the range of abilities. Think of the guilds.”

I leaned over the papers and examined them. In Hollowfaust we have guilds. The guilds each cover some type of necromancy. Some area that is part of a greater whole. I quickly saw what my master meant. “Why is no one a medium or can speak to ghosts at all?”

“Close Frederik. The question is…why are they hiding the people who can talk to ghosts?”

We spent the rest of the day doing the normal case study work. In interviewing a man at the inn who seemed more open than most, the subject of talking to ghosts was broached.

He paused and bit his lip. He was an older man but still physically strong. Obviously of farmer or smith stock. The kind of man who aged like leather and got tougher over time. Perhaps my master gambled that he had enough of life in him to be daring. Perhaps he felt that there was a spark of unconditional honesty in the man. Perhaps he saw something inside of him that desired to get something out. Whatever it was, the question was having an effect.

“Where are you boys from?” He asked with downcast eyes and through clenched lips.

“Hollowfaust.” My master replied.

“Hollowfaust,” he said in mild shock, “The place in the mountains where the necromancers live. Were two of the Heroes of The Key came from and one of the Codex?”

“More than that comes from there but yes. I am a master necromancer of Hollowfaust and this is my bodyguard.”

The man raised his eyes and looked at me for a long time. “One of those men who can take blows that would kill anyone else. One of you is supposed to be able to beat five men.”

“Five at least…” my master smiled, “I’ve seen him do eight.”

I shook my head, “We are trained to do our jobs and protect the necromancers.”
“All necromancers,” he asked, “all people who can see things..do those things?”
I paused before I answered. It was a question often asked…do we protect all necromancers. We do and we don’t. I looked at him and saw that he wanted a specific answer. And I saw what my master saw that made him ask about the people who could see ghosts and where they were. I saw a man who had faced loss. He was part of the data because he had a daughter and son who could channel negative energy, he had another child who was listed as without powers. I looked at his carriage outside. Seats for a wife and two children and a driver. I looked at the bag he had from the general store, there were slight provisions for a family of four and not five.

“Are there necromancers here who need protecting?” I asked. “Where are those who can see ghosts?”

He turned his head and looked around the room and lowered his voice. He was making sure he was not observed as he answered us. “They take our children. The ones who can talk to the dead. Those are the ones they take.”
“Who takes them?” My master asked.

“They call themselves the Talons of The Mother.”

Jeremy paced the room. “He was afraid he would be heard. He was terrified.”
I agreed, “Master, if we are dealing with some secret society. Some large group of unknown size shouldn’t we sent for help.”

He stopped. “Some people deserve a rest Frederik. A rest from gods plans and loved ones in danger. Our associates have moved on and Hollowfaust is too far away to send help in time.”

I was baffled, “there is a timetable?”

“Oh yes. What do we know from our forlorn friend?”

I recounted the facts. “There is a cult or secret society called the Talons of The Mother. Highly placed in this city that takes the children who can see and talk to ghosts. They train them into the cult and use them for some purpose. The leadership of the city is involved, as are the main merchants who come into and out of the city. They rule by threat and fear. And they worship the dragon goddess Tiamat. When they use magic a symbol glows above their right eye in the shape of a draconic eye. There are other marks on the society members to designate rank and division.” I reflected and was sure that was all the information we had. “What in that gives us a time table.”

“You forgot,” my master said, “that they will take the newest children in three days.”

“Hard to forget what I never knew.”

“Three days from now is a holy day of Tiamat. A day when people are taken to her service. Given the man’s terror; terror as if something was imminent…I would say that is the day their children are harvested. Also given how he was looking, I would say the bartender is a member of the society. He would not talk when he was near.”

“So”, I said,” we have three days and no back up.”

“I wouldn’t say that Frederick. We just don’t have heroic help. Three days can be an eternity with the right messengers.” He rose and removed a vial from his luggage. An inky blackness writhed within it. It sought escape. It sought a purpose. My master opened the vial and it poured out onto the floor and rose to a vague human shape.

The thing looked at my master, “You have a message?” It asked in a hollow tone.

“Two actually.” He replied.

“I would need….payment.”

“Of course, trust me there will be plenty to choose from.”

It inhaled even though it did not have to breath. “Black hearts,” it said, “consumed by greed but weak and suffering.”

“Corn fed too!” My master cheerfully replied.

“I don’t care about corn.”

“All the worse for you…alright two messages as fast as you can.”

Three days later, just after twilight we sat, hidden, outside the inn that we guessed was the headquarters of the society. Some discreet investigation over the past days had revealed that most information, as well as illegal trade, flowed through the inn and the bartender. Records of the watch had indicated that there had not been a drunken fight, attempted robbery or someone not paying a bill at this inn in 30 years. We believed in miracle, but that record was one likely enforced through fear.

As we waited parents came with children. Slowly. Cautiously. Sadly. They entered the inn. We remained hidden. We saw some people bring something apparently valuable if the level of security around the package was a measure of worth. Eventually a large wagon turned the far corner and moved, with intent, toward the inn. In the wagon, which was designed to transport a large number of people, were five people. A driver, three men whose bearing and manner branded them thugs, and a man who was obviously in charge. He had an arrogance that preceded the wagon by half the street. There was a triumphant smile on his face as they stopped outside the inn and began to load the children who dutifully came out and tearfully climbed into the wagon.

My master stepped out of his concealment and I followed.

“Gentlemen!” He announced boldly. “I’m afraid I need to interrupt this years harvest to bring you this message from the City of Necromancers. We see this harvest of children as a violation of the treaty all people sign with the nation of not being an asshole. As such we kindly request you stop.”

The man in charge shook his head. When we were closer it was obvious he moved with a concealed grace. Perhaps a monk or some kind of acrobat or some kind of profession that required quickness. He kept shaking his head and looked directly at my master, “Two of you. You obviously knew we were coming since you were waiting. But two of you. How insulting.”

“Well,” my master replied, “You came with no one.”

“Perhaps the math studies in Hollowfaust are lacking. There are five counting me in the wagon alone. And three more in the inn. Not to mention the ones in the town.” He shook his head again. “This would be amusing if I was not here to also pick up something we have waited 13,000 years to retrieve. So please, do not be offended if I am not present for your death.” He motioned to the men on the wagon to handle us and headed toward the inn. He paused when no one moved. “That was an indication to kill them idiots.” He snarled.

Three of the men slowly vanished. They faded like shadows in the light. The driver remained. He pulled back his hood to reveal a wizened old man. “Right enough sir,” he said, “in a country drawl. “I suppose we did leave a few days ago with four of us. I supposed we even were all together up to the inn two stops ago. I would think that some horrible thing has drained them of their life and the nightmares that filled them.” He began to grow younger. “I also would guess..” he said with his voice becoming more cultured, “that what we have here were illusions made by a master illusionist who took the place of your trusted driver right after he got a message and instructions to do so. And maybe he…allowed the messenger who told him what was happening to eat your friends.” The now yellow clad dandy who stood on the wagon was known to us in a very personal way. Quinten Gabriel Tarella, an illusionist without peer, stood like a garish early silken sunrise atop the wagon.

The leader whistled for those in the inn to come out but it was greeted with a moments silence. The empty air was filled by a female voice who came out of the inn.

Hooded and bearing a ring with the symbol of the Sevestrian family, Serena Hollis stepped out into the street from the inn. She was cleaning a recently used short sword.

“And how did mr. Tarella know where to find you?” She asked, “Perhaps an unusual messenger told my employers that a cult had infiltrated local trade merchants and were engaging in human trafficking on our routes. And it was a simple matter for the Gavin to investigate some recent anomalies and find your recent point of departure and assist Mr. Tarella in infiltrating you merry band. The family has questions.”

He scowled. “I could care less about your insignificant little family. The great mother will rule forever now and there is nothing you can do about it. Death before I talk to you about my people.”

“Well,” my master chimed in, “death is not really the obstacle to your interrogation you might think it to be. In fact it’s breathing that makes it harder as far as I’m concerned. Look,” he said as he moved toward him, “you might make this easier on yourself and…whatever other cliche you are about to ignore applies.”

“And,” Serena added, “if you mother ruling is tied to this package that you had under such tight security; I would rethink your career choice.” She held up the large and heavy package that was recently escorted into the inn.

Quentin jumped down and took it from Serena. It dipped in his hands from the massive weight. “Dear gods…what’s in here buckles?”

The man moved forward and I quickly drew my sword and removed the leg below the right knee. He fell to the ground screaming. He composed himself. “It is the future. The endless reign of the mother!”

“And buckles,” Quentin said while shaking it, “obviously buckles.”

The tattoo of a dragons’ eye glowed above the man’s right eye. His leg healed enough that he could compose himself and pull himself up to his hands. “This is our town. You think you can get out of here alive.”

“I hazard it is a fair bet.” My master said.

“The mayor is ours. Many of the watch. The crime elements. Farmers. 30% of this city belongs to us. And it has been enough to hold, the capital of Furyondy, it in fear and obedience for 30 years. What makes you think you can escape.”
“Simple,” my master said, “I called my boss.”

At that moment a deeper darkness fell. And the dead of Chendle awoke to stand for the living grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren who were too terrified to stand for themselves.

“And the beautiful thing,” my master said, “is that they can see the little marks above your eyes. I’m assuming you all have them.”

Perhaps others would have handled it differently. I confess that to most people a hoard of undead eliminating large swaths of your city government and watch can be distressing. But to this day I have not seen any reports about the incident. The people of Chendle closed their doors and waited until it was over. A town wide conspiracy of silence had existed that cost them some of their children for over thirty years. For a moment these people were more like the citizens of Hollowfaust than I would have imagined. The dead had come to their defense and they did not fear them. Or at least they were far preferable to the Talons of The Mother.

Serena took the package from Quint and began checking it for traps. “Really Jeremy,” she said, “How you get along without our help is a mystery. You really need to understand that a pretty face will only get you so far.”

My master shrugged. “I discovered that long ago. It’s why I keep the damned thing in my pocket and only bring it out for emergencies.”

As they bantered I embraced Quint. “Too long.” I said.

He nodded in agreement. “You guys make me feel so much like i’m at home.”
“You spent most of our life on a plane that exists as a nightmare depository for the evil of the multiverse and sits as a lock atop the prison of the mad god.”
He sidestepped someone’s dead relative who was dragging a cultist behind him. “Yes…” he said as he watched the zombie drag the unconscious man into the distance. “Yes I did. So since we are all some kind of magic I guess i’ll be the first to mention that I think we all understand whatever is in that package is some kind of artifact.”

I nodded, “or powerful object at least.”

Serena opened it and began to hold up chess pieces. I was at a loss to fully identify what culture they represented. There was a Flannish look to them but there was something about them that was different from the Flan I knew.
My master pondered, “Ancient Flan. Not sure which tribe without closer inspection.”

Serena kept removing pieces until it was obvious there were more than two full sets of pieces for opposing players. We thought that perhaps it was so people had a choice until she removed the board. It was the oddest board I had ever seen. It was, by the loosest definition still a chess board. There was a vague indication that the normal rules applied. But it was large, far larger than the case which contained it. And rather than square it have a series of jutting angles that gave it six sides.

“Six sides.” I said.

“Six players?” Quint asked.

“Six ancient Flan tribes.” Added Serena.

“And five heads on Tiamat for each of the first evil draconic breeds.” Added my Master.

“You’re missing the six theme,” said Serena, “We were on a roll.”

He leaned forward and picked up a piece that was made of metal and worked in the most unusual fashion. The clothing was that of a garment sage and the shape and number indicated it was the bishop of one of the groups. “No evil dragon would handle this piece. The others have a resonance that they would. But the group that contains this is not made for evil hands.” He gathered together the pieces of that group. “Itar. Last hope for good in an ancient war against evil.”

Quint leaned against the side of the inn, “So what’s next?” he asked.

“Next,” my master said as he put the piece back, “we drop miss Hollins off where she wishes and head to Hollowfaust. We need to consult our superiors and keep this chess set safe. The council can decide.”

“Hold on bright eyes,” Serena cut in, “the Family has an interest in this. I’m staying with you until the answer is more than: Look at the historical chess set.”
“Fine, just remember Hollowfaust is not your average city. Quentin can deal with it because he grew up in less than ideal conditions. I have no doubt you are steeled against shock but be ready for a unique place.”

Serena shrugged, “I’ve been in worse places. At some point we should stop by Geoff. They have a spy network that has the best chance of know the details of this secret society. And, tied with your little vacation spot, the least chance of being infiltrated. I am thinking the country of dragon blooded kings is a but hard for them to infiltrate.”

“So,” I said, “Tomorrow morning in this spot?”

Everyone agreed and we went our ways. In the morning as we left I noticed something that made me think that the people of Chendle had finally understood something that we in the Faust have known forever. That those who have gone before can come back, and often…if given the chance it is for your protection. And they deserved to be thanked. As we left in the morning and passed the graveyards all of them were decorated with flowers and remembrances. All graves from king to pauper, those long remembered and long forgotten…all of them; were thanked.

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Letters to Eve
Readying 20, 937CY

Dear Eve,

After consulting with Master Baryoi and Lady Chander, you have been given preferential status for course selection. Since Journeymen Stonereap and Smithson have been ‘load sharing’ with you, they will be automatically enrolled in which ever classes you choose unless they state otherwise. Lady Chander has circled a few classes in red that would be of use to you. She also said that you will have a break when Master Erin Bloodsin gives her lecture series on unusual undead types on the Isle of Pearls and that you should come home for them. I have already enrolled you and the textbook is included with the course schedule.

Amenemseti will be back in Hollowfaust this Spring for his popular planar realms of the afterlife series. He has agreed to send you transcripts of the lectures though they will be in Besetian. Think of it as a good way to review Kemet college languages. He asks that you send him a few of the newer maps of Greyhawk City for his map collection.

Take care, child.
Allen Hlast


Dear Journeyman Starfall,

I will not repeat what I know Allen has written you.

I have marked the date of your exam on your new course calendar!

But you already knew that. Deep breaths! I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

Have Master Silverbreak review necromantic golem creation and disposal with you before the exam.

The next time you come home, stop by the Readers commissary for lunch. Be sure to have the afternoon free.

With Love,
Forsythia


Journeyman Starfall,

After reviewing your report, I have opened a case file and assigned Master Edmund Cyan and Journeyman Arianna Morningfury to research and document the unusual things you are encountering. Continue to send reports directly to me. As the situation escalates, which is very likely since it involves Zagyg, I will dispatch Journeyman Morningfury to Greyhawk City to support you from there.

Regards,
Baryoi

P.S. – If you happen to see the Mad Archmage, give him my thanks for the cupcakes.


Dearest Daughter,

I swear you’ll send me to the nearest medical lab with heart failure! I am happy you finally got to meet a Garment Sage. You’ve hoped to do so for quite some time. I know how you feel about Hollowfaust’s reputation being tarnished and I share your concern over the school, especially when you consider how this situation can put Hollowfaust in a very bad position. Master Djedefre of the Kemet college came to argue for its closure before the Council a week ago, but as of yet, we’ve not heard anything else about the issue.

While you hope your gift with undead can stem any problems, on that front I have no worries. You are an Undead Master. The dead cannot help but feel your call. You will need to watch that stray animations don’t end up just shambling around you. That tends to embarrass mages a lot.

Do not, I repeat, do not put yourself in unnecessary danger. You do not have an Unfailing to guard you and while I trust your judgement on this group that Zagyg has contracted, they are not of Hollowfaust.

Stay SAFE.

Love,
Dad


Dear Eve,

Check out this cool thing I found in Cremin & Creyoi! It’s called crochet. Someone in Greyhawk City came up with it as a faster way to make lace. It’s the newest thing and everyone has been trying it out. The box has an instruction book, a couple patterns, a hook, and some lace thread spools. I’ve been practicing and crocheted a little skull patch for you. You can sew it on the present Lucian sent that I know nothing about. Thank you for the new breathing scarf. It’s AMAZE!!!

Love,
Ivy


Dear Moonflower,

I apologize for not having written. I was sent off to Gorna for an assignment that was overly long. You arrived in Gorna just after I left for home. And to think I missed you by half a day! I know that you have been very worried about telling me about your trip to Zief. Do not be angry at your father. He did not tell me. Honestly, dearest, I’ve known longer than you have. In the box is the gift I commissioned when you left for Veluna.

Forever Yours,
Lucian


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Engagement
Readying 18, 937CY

The morning ride back to Greyhawk City was much more relaxed and allowed me to observe the scant crew of the Wild Endeavor. I was unable to identify the species of the first mate, Akilu. His skin is similar in coloration to the whales that breach off the coast of Komo-Mai. I made a sketch of him in the hopes that I could use it to identify his likely origins later. It’s a good excuse to spend time with Gavin at the library. The gnome, Stomp, hit me up with a one liner I hadn’t heard before, so points to him. The ships doctor, Penny, spent time looking everyone over. Once she was certain everyone was fine, she fell into a very gentle shyness similar to a deer in the woods. The bard, Roderick, is the first half-orc bard I’ve ever met. I would have liked to talk music with him, but Delwin was enjoying herself talking to him too much for me to even think of interrupting. He also lacks the edge of violence so many half-orcs have, though it seems more like he grew out of it. Lady Satoshi seemed to know Rotaesha, an aquatic elf. There was a winged elf in the crow’s nest. She left and came back a few times but did not come down to talk. The ship’s mage, Nirene, was observing everyone closely. Aleistar seems to have a bit of swish to him. He and Mortekai spoke for a bit. Something is up with him though. The moment Eve came on board, he oriented himself to her. While never actually staring, he always stood so she was just in his peripheral. If she left the deck, his body language changed considerably. I swear he was acting like the lich accountant. Next time I get the chance, I’ll ask Eve about it.

The Clearwaters came over in the afternoon to begin negotiating for my hand in marriage. While our mothers sat back to enjoy a nice cup of tea together, our fathers sat in the front parlor. After an hour of posturing, bargaining, boasting, and arguing, Grandpa told Andrew and I to grab our coats. He said he was taking us to the pastry shop two blocks over and that there’d better be a wedding date decided on when he got back.

At the shop, he told us some stories from the old days, including how he met my late Grandmother through the help of Meridian Gasgal. Known as “The Fine Old Bird,” Meridian was old when he was young and was a well respected woman in both society and among the families. When her brother-in-law killed her husband, Gavin XIV offered her shelter at the main house. She politely refused, had her troublesome brother-in-law disposed of, and took control of the family. During her time, the Gasgals moved toward more legitimate pursuits and began to build wealth again. When Gavin XV died she came by to offer condolences and was utterly dismayed to find that my grandfather was not married. While funeral arrangements were in full swing, Meridian took a fine tooth comb to the list of available young ladies in Greyhawk City. She arranged for my grandparents to meet after the final day of the funeral and the match was made soon after.

When he was done story telling, Grandpa gave us a little time to ourselves to go chat up Doreen behind the counter and we used it to exchange our engagement gifts. I gave him a pocket watch engraved with his favorite line from his favorite poem. He gave me a rose gold ring set with a large ruby and ringed with tiny little diamonds.

C.

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The Ship
Readying 18, 937 CY
Readying 18, 937 CY
Morning
Spent time on the Wild Endeavor, Marin’s ship. Eccentric crew. Half-orc bard seemed chatty with Delwin. Lady Satoshi spoke to the aquatic elf. Seemed familiar with one another. Mortekai pointed out that one of the crew seems vaguely vampiric. Edgar doesn’t seem to have much respect for parrots, but evidently wants “raven barding.” The ship has a rather exotic botanical garden growing through the middle of it. Many of the plants are apparently carnivorous. Note: Delwin keeps knock out poison on hand. Useful for keeping prisoners subdued.
Afternoon
Brought the general store owner to HQ. Seemed disinclined to talk. Chalk says the Grand Diva likely knows something but doesn’t think it’s worth her time to talk to us about it. Need to follow up with this. Started going through the general store records to see what had been smuggled into GHC. Mr. Hillman received our message that the archeological dig in Onnwal had been infiltrated. Told us to contact the Circle of Eight when we head out there. Algane spoke to his contacts and learned that someone has been purchasing an unusual number of “parts” of odd races. Proposed that we could advertise having some and sell ones with a tracing spell to see where they go. Good idea.
Night
Spoke to Old Jonas. Obviously has no idea what’s happened to him. Says that while he was nearly unconscious he remembered being somewhere that “smelled like a zoo” and heard voices speaking. Thought it sounded like criminals talking about “nefarious things.” No environmental noises, possibly a shielded lab. Had to be within two hours distance of where his accident occurred. Will investigate. Mortekai and Gurdy discovered that his piece of brain was replaced with a scrying apparatus. Seems he was put on record duty and has regular access to to reports of undercover agents for the Night Watch and the implant activates when he’s working with those specific reports. Bingo. Gurdy used her drone to trace the signal to a warehouse owned by the Dronik.
Reading 19, 937 CY
Morning
After discussion, no one is sure they can remove the scrying device without harming Jonas. Received permission from Cmdr to create a false report that agents will be going to the warehouse. Once Jonas has time to look at it, can put an amulet of non-detection on him to interrupt the scrying. We will be watching the warehouse to see what happens and also post guard on Jonas in case someone comes to investigate why his implant is no longer working.
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Off the Rails
Readying 17, 937 CY
Dear Dad,

This quest stuff is harder than I expected! Our group split up as soon as we got off the train so we could try to track down this Teivryn guy. The people who stayed in Greyhawk City said they’re pretty sure they found the guy who belongs to the piece of brain. Or, I guess the piece of brain belongs to him… Anyway. Old Jonas is supposed to be a really nice guy, and it’s terrible that he might have gotten wrapped up in all this. On the bright side, we got a paladin named Belle to help us!

So the town we went to investigate? Super crazy! There was a guy working at the general store who turned out to be part of a cult of Tiamat, and he’d been helping Teivryn replace everyone in the town. I kinda messed up and told him we knew what was going on. But then we found this invisible warehouse with a symbol of Dalt on it where all the kids were hiding. And there were clone tanks with clones of all the villagers! Plus there were more of those super strange mannequins that looked like the townspeople.

Also, Marin has a flying ship! It’s really, really cool with a great big garden growing through the middle of it.. And she’s not apparently an actual pirate? She works for Zagyg, so she’s a privateer. She and the others showed up in the ship to help us fight the weird mannequins. It was pretty neat, but a little bit scary too.

Once we beat up all the mannequins, the people’s clones came out of the warehouse and acted like nothing had happened. They seemed really confused by all the mannequin bits lying around. I guess Dalt was being kind and made them forget all that awful stuff. We also found some human looking mechanical servitors in the warehouse. They were super polite, but couldn’t really tell us much. They didn’t know who built them, only that they were supposed to take care of the children during all this. I wonder what they’ll do now? Maybe they could come to Greyhawk City with us.

The creeper general store owner spent a lot of time bragging about stuff and wouldn’t really tell us anything once we tied him up. Addy found his secret hideaway and a box full of coded messages and things. It looks like the cult people have spies in the dig going on in Onnwal. He says he wasn’t working for Teivryn or the Puppet Maker, either. I think we’re going to take him back to the city with us so the watch can really question him.

Oh yeah! He had a weird invisible tattoo above his eye that looked like a dragon’s eye or something. I wonder if all the cultists have one?

Love you!
Delwin
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The Shindig
Readying 16, 937 CY
Readying 16, 937 CY
Morning
Cmdr. Chalk informed me that the Royalty of Geoff want our taskforce and Zagyg’s recruits to act as security at a function this evening.
2:07 PM
Received a message that the Cmdr wanted to speak with me. Says he arranged a meeting with the Hand of Chance to see what they might know about Teivryn’s past activities. Rooftop across from messengers guild. Captured mutant ratman is very chatty, but doesn’t have anything useful so far.
6:02 PM
Hand says Lucas Thatch saw the Fog Man so she will be keeping an eye on him. Don’t like the sound of that. Has no really useful information about Teivryn. Recommends we check out the Last Stop, an inn in the river quarter that handles a lot of criminal trade. Things seem to have picked up there, and it’s a central location to the undercity. Also says there’s some sort of Baklunish vigilante running around. Asked me to let her know if we spot her.
8:06 PM
Party is at the Grand Opera. Nothing of note. Harrington tells us that he’s extending a line of credit through the church of Zilchus as a thank you for keeping the train incident from getting out of hand.
9:14 PM
Mortekai’s raven familiar, Edgar, swears he smells giant owls. Went outside to investigate. 5 giant Owl-dryder things drop down and start grabbing the watchmen providing security outside. Manage to deal with them. Baklunish vigilante shows up. Moves like a monk, but seems to have a genie servant. At least she’s not completely incompetent, but too flamboyant to be safe in this city. Catch two live, rest dead but could be studied.
Inside, four of the kitchen waitstaff are mind controlled by some kind of aboleth crossed with a trout. Kept the staff from harming anyone or being seriously injured. Mortekai found the “troutboleth” in a fish tank in the kitchen. Not able to tell exactly who brought it in, but Mortekai discovered that the target was the Grand Diva’s assistant. Will need to question both of them tomorrow.
10:27 PM
Between Edgar and Princess Millicent’s summoned griffon, we were able to track the owl-things back to the towers of Grey College in the College of Engineering Building. Towers are under construction, but not being worked on due to winter conditions. Find remnants of the owls’ meals. Mortekai will track down who the bones belonged to. Found a messaging lamp and a pack of papers written in code. Were gathering necromantic supplies and taking them to the entrance to the sewers. Gurdy was able to use her special goggles to spot what appears to be an air balloon hovering outside the city that was being used to send the messages.
11:18 PM
Balloon is empty, automated. Traps set to spook people away from the area. Find a box that was controlling the signal lamp. Has a piece of brain in it making it work. Mortekai learns that the brain came from a night-watchman from the Church of St. Cuthbert who is definitely still alive. Can blood match the person, but need to get close. Need to look for someone who was recently injured enough for Teivryn to get access to them and do the surgery.
Why this person? Who are they? Why let them live?
Why attack the grand diva’s assistant?
Where did the aboleth and dryders come from? And giant owls?
Where is Teivryn hiding? Is anyone helping him?
Need to find him soon. If he’s really that smart, he’ll go to ground soon.
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Vayne Resurrection
Readying 15th 937CY

I knew that there would be disturbance on the train. It was guaranteed. I was not expecting a supposedly dead Teivryn Vayne to use it as his personal notice to the Greyhawk City that he was still alive. And while his appearance has, so far, been suppressed, I ran into a situation that could be even worse: Addie didn’t know that Teivryn was her uncle. Her father was a good man, but he should have been way more forth coming with information about her family.

Back in Greyhawk City, I crunched the numbers on the final cost of the train vs. overland shipping with the accountants. They equal out, but that’s only because the train is new. Once the train has run long enough, the price to ship will drop, and so will the price for goods.

“Heart of the City” revealed his connection to all things Greyhawk by teleporting Amelia and me to the City Watch while in the middle of a conversation with Gavin. There I learned that Teivryn is likely working with a dragon. After Addie talked to the guild of messengers, a few of us took a jaunt into the sewers following the latest in a series of unusual packages and found a nest of Teivryn’s experiments. Once the Watch gets through with what they found, I’ll read the report Chalk hates giving my father.

After the sudden teleport and the ramping up of Teivryn’s involvement, Gavin moved me off the supply chain so I can concentrate on whatever Zagyg wants his little band of merry men to do.

C.

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