Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! - Chapter 10
By the end of the day, on Sunday, the 23rd day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, the Righteous Vanguard had acquired the Sword of Kas and had repulsed an attack from a large band of ogres that were led by three priests of Iuz, one of whom was Beryn Talkin, whom they managed to capture alive. While being questioned by the band, Beryn tried to convince them that they could work together in an effort to defeat Vecna.

Some members of the band, Nero in particular, believed there might be some merit in what the priest of Iuz had to say, for it seemed that Vecna was far too powerful for the band to defeat without the aid of someone as powerful as Iuz, even with the Sword of Kas in their possession. The seemingly prophetic dreams of Alavarius, over the past few weeks, also appeared to support the idea that Iuz would somehow play a role in the struggles against Vecna.

In his recurring dreams, Alavarius had seen visions of a large scraggly wolf, which seemed to be associated with a grinning skull and a falcon, chasing after him through an ancient forest. Assuming that Alavarius and his companions had interpreted these dreams correctly, the wolf represented Iuz and the ancient forest represented the past. In these dreams, Alavarius encountered a band of strangers which killed the falcon, and there was very little doubt that the band of strangers was the Righteous Vanguard. Eventually, in these dreams, the wolf gradually fell behind and seemingly out of the picture and Alavarius found himself in a much younger forest, which probably represented the present. But soon there appeared another threat. This time it was a giant snake, which was thought to symbolize Vecna, and it too seamed to chase after Alavarius.

However, during the recent purification rites, while Alavarius was hallucinating and experiencing strange visions, he was once again transported into the midst of that darkened forest and forced to flee from the giant snake. Then suddenly the forest came to an end and Alavarius found himself standing at the edge of a sheer precipice, teetering at the brink of destruction with no place to turn. Behind him, the giant snake closed in on him, cutting off any pathway back into the forest. Slowly the giant snake advanced towards him, and there seemed to be no chance for Alavarius to escape. Then Alavarius remembered how the falcon, in an earlier dream, called out for the wolf to come to her aid. So Alavarius did the same, and soon the giant wolf appeared. Upon seeing the giant snake it attacked and the two giant beasts engaged in a ferocious battle. With, the snake and the wolf now caught up in an epic struggle, and with their attentions no longer focused on Alavarius, he suddenly remembered the wings on his back. Somehow, he had forgotten about his wings, but now he spread them and flew up high in the sky, far, far away from any danger.

This most recent vision by Alavarius seemed to suggest that Iuz could be useful in defeating Vecna. And it was partly because of this that Nero was in favor of allying the band, at least temporarily, with the priests of Iuz. But Nicholas had not forgotten the struggles that the band had gone through two years before in the City of Greyhawk against the Falcon and her Cult of Iuz, and he would have no part in any alliance with Iuz. He pointed out some of the atrocities that Iuz and his followers had done and reminded everyone that Iuz could not be trusted. The band debated the issue for some time. But eventually, Kieranen and Dravos likewise came to agree strongly with Nicholas. Kieranen believed they should kill all the priests of Vecna, while Dravos suggested that they let Beryn go so he could tell other followers of Vecna that the Righteous Vanguard had the Sword of Kas, in the hopes that they would leave the gnomes of Osnabrolt alone. But after further debate, it was agreed by most members of the band, that Iuz and his followers would soon learn that the Righteous Vanguard had the Sword of Kas, whether or not they spared the lives of any priests. And so it was decided by the band, though it was not a unanimous decision, that the priest of Iuz would be executed. Kieranen, who was the most vocal member in favor of this course of action, had no qualms about doing what he felt needed to be done, and saw to it that the grizzly task was accomplished.

Nero was not happy about the group’s decision, but realizing he was out-voted, he went along with it. Still, it is often considered by numerous sages since that time, that this was the point at which Nero seriously began to contemplate the betrayal of his companions. Whether or not this is true, we may never know for sure. But we can be fairly certain that Nero was greatly tempted by Vecna’s offer of power as a reward, for he had suggested more than once the idea of using this power to defeat Vecna. And, as we shall see, there would soon be other indications that Nero’s companions were beginning to have some concerns about whether or not they could trust Nero in return.

With all the priests of Iuz now dead, the band took some time to heal up any injuries, both on themselves as well as the gnomes of Osnabrolt. Then they resumed their feast while they examined some of the magic items recovered from the bodies of the priests. It was not much longer after that that the band decided to turn in for the night, for the past couple of days had been long and trying.

On the following morning, Moonday, the 24th, the band awoke feeling much more rested and ready to press on with their objective to return to Greyhawk and prepare for their journey to Tovag Baragu. Initially, it was their plan to use more wind walk spells, which would make their return trip to Greyhawk less than a day. But before setting out, they were met by a pleasant surprise when Cymria of Celadon suddenly appeared before them. The elven female, who had been a henchman of the mage Tenser, greeted the band and said she had been trying to locate them for days using Tenser’s magical mirror. Finally, it appeared, she had succeeded and she offered the band a quick trip back to Magepoint. From there it would only take a couple of hours to reach Greyhawk.

The band, of course, accepted Cymria’s offer and soon found themselves in Magepoint. There, Cymria told the band that, over the past few weeks, she had had no real success in finding any information on the whereabouts of the Circle of Eight. So the band told her that they had done much better in their efforts and filled her in on almost everything that had occurred with them since they last saw her. When they were done with this they asked her if they might make use of the magical mirror in order to make their journey to Tovag Baragu a much shorter one. She agreed to this, and the band used Alavarius’ wind walk spells to make it to Greyhawk.

That afternoon, the Righteous Vanguard spent their time gathering a few supplies and making plans for their encounter with Vecna in Tovag Baragu. Once again, the band debated for a while about what to do when they met with Vecna. Some wanted to attack him on first sight, making sure that the band was well prepared before doing so and hoping that things like the Sword of Kas would give them an advantage. Others remembered how easily they were awestruck by the mere presence of Vecna and believed that it would be foolish to try and attack him without knowing for certain they had an advantage. Alavarius then reminded the band about the purple gem he had been given by Ravel Dasinder, believing it to have been a gift from Boccob. He also reminded them of the mysterious prophecy which said:

Two titans embraced, locked before a ring
Then the stone is sundered and forth the powers bring
Upon the sign the bearer must decide
To call upon the powers and cast them both aside

By now, the band believed they had figured out most of the verses. The stone, they agreed, referred to the purple gem and when it was sundered, or broken, it would bring forth the powers from within the gem. “Upon the sign the bearer must decide” meant that the bearer of the gem must decide when to use the gem and that he would be given a sign. “To call upon the powers” seemed to indicate the powers within the ring, though it could also be a reference to other powers, such as the gods, for example. “And cast them both aside” was a bit vague. It could have meant to cast both titans aside, to cast both the titans and the ring aside, to cast two powers aside, to cast the stone and the powers aside or to cast two of something else aside. But the way it was worded seemed to indicate that it meant to cast both titans aside. The question then remained – what were the “Two titans embraced, locked before a ring”, and what was the sign? Recently, the band had begun to suspect that the two titans referred to Vecna and Iuz. But the rest they could only guess at.

While the band was making preparations in Greyhawk, they paid a visit to Ravel Dasinder, the High Patriarch of Boccob, and told him everything they had learned since they last saw him, and asked for any advice he might have.

Upon hearing some of the band’s proposed ideas, Ravel told them that without some sort of divine aid, they had very little chance of affecting Vecna with their magic and even with the Sword of Kas there was little chance they could strike him in combat. So, if for some reason, Vecna chose not to attack back, they would still have a very difficult time trying to defeat him. But it seemed very unlikely that Vecna would not attack back, and Ravel suggested that Vecna was powerful enough to destroy the entire band with a single wave of his hand! This, of course, was very discouraging for the band to hear, and a feeling of hopelessness began to take root in the hearts and minds of the Righteous Vanguard. But despite this, Ravel tried to give them hope by his faith in Boccob, feeling certain that the god of magic and foresight surely knew what Vecna was up to and had a plan to stop him. This however, was not as comforting to the band as Ravel might have thought, for the band was also aware that Boccob was often referred to as Boccob, The Uncaring, and cryptic tales of prophecy that they read not long ago about the death of Magic brought about by the Incomplete Man, did not exactly inspire a sense of hope.

Nero also spoke with Kieren Jalucian at the Guild of Wizardry and they paid a visit to the Greyhawk dragon Sturtevant. But neither of them was able to offer much advice that Ravel had not already given them. Kieranen however, took Sturtevant aside at one point and spoke to him in private. Concerned that he might not be able to place much trust in Nero when the situation became critical, he asked Sturtevant if he might have something that would help to protect him from Nero’s magic. So Sturtevant sold him a protection scroll that would negate all magic around him. Other members of the band likewise took certain precautions to protect themselves should Nero turn against them.

Once the band was satisfied that they had done all the preparations they could, they flew back to Magepoint where they spent the night in Cymria’s home and came up with a plan of action.

On the following morning, Godsday, the 25th, after preparing for the day, the band used

Tenser’s magical mirror to see if they could locate Tovag Baragu. At first the band had no success. So they tied to scry on an area not far from the ancient Stone Circles and eventually located a place about 10 miles from the site. This was an area known as the Dry Steppes and consisted of vast stretches of prairie where rainfall was scarce and few rivers flowed. Once the area was well watered and fertile, forming the homelands of the Baklunish Padishahs and Sultans, but it was destroyed by the Invoked Devastation in the war with the Suloise. Here, in the central portion of the steppes the land was still pleasant and rich, and it was rumored to be home to large hordes of Baklunish nomads that still roamed the area under the rulership of various khans. But from what the band could see through the mirror, the fearsome tribes of the steppes, so often mentioned in explorers’ texts, were strangely absent. So the band, seeing no visible threats anywhere nearby, stepped through the portal formed by the magic mirror and entered a distant land where the air was uncomfortably hot and dry.

At this point, the band used various means, both magical and non-magical, to fly over the land in the direction of Tovag Baragu. For most of the way, they encountered no obstacles and no signs of intelligent life. But when they got to about 3 miles away from the Stone Circles they came upon hundreds of Baklunish tribesmen. These nomads had camped around the Stone Circles completely surrounding them on all sides except where they touched the salt flats on the southwest side where a large lake once existed.

Unsure of how to proceed from here, the band decided to land, so as not to draw a lot of attention to themselves, and approached the nomads. When they drew near to the nomads, Nero and Alavarius tried to greet them in a friendly manner. But the nomads did not respond other than to glare at them with stone cold expressions and step to one side, is if the band had been expected. Realizing they would probably not get much information from the nomads, the band continued to walk towards the Stone Circles and as they passed by, the nomads parted and made no effort to challenge them. Instead, whole families looked toward Tovag Baragu, expectantly waiting for something. The area was strangely quiet with only occasional whinnies from the nomads’ horses breaking the silence.

When the band got to within 1,000 yards of the Stone Circles, they saw a figure standing at the very center of the rings. It appeared to be human and it sometimes moved to one of the arches only to resume its position at the center of the ruin. At 500 yards, the band was reasonably certain that the figure was Turim Varostak, the manifestation of Vecna. But at this point, he gave no indication of having seen the band. The air shimmered between several of the arches. Shadowy movements could be seen through these, but it was impossible to make out any details.

At 100 yards, the band was certain that the figure was Turim, and unlike the old sailor they knew before, this Turim, while once-again one-legged, was very energetic and vital. He no longer stooped and moved about the center of the circle with speed and grace. But he still gave no indication that he had noticed the band’s arrival, as he was busily engaged in some other activity. Between the arches, more detail was now evident. There were five different scenes visible. Three showed moving figures, one of them a large mass of bodies. The fourth was black with shimmering spots of light. The fifth scene was a greasy dull gray, unrelieved by any features save an occasional change in hue.

At this point, the band stopped and made their final plans. Despite the desire to try and take him by surprise and attack him, something that was deemed as a hopeless plan of action, they decided to approach him and speak with him and see if Vecna would indeed reward them with power that they could hopefully use against him. But just to be on the safe side, they decided to cast several preparatory spells on themselves now and even came up with a contingency plan if they decided to run. All the while, Kieranen was carrying the Sword of Kas, and he could feel the sword’s powerful desire to destroy Vecna. So he kept it ready should it be needed.

When the band felt they were as ready as they could be, they continued to approach the Stone Circles. The outer most ring was about 900 feet in diameter, so as they stepped up next to the outer ring, they were about 450 feet away from Turim. There was a sort paved roadway leading to the center of the rings which the band followed along, and as they passed by the first ring of the circle, some members of the band seemed to become aware of a subtle shift in their surroundings. But looking about they could see nothing different either within the circle or outside. As the band drew closer to Turim and the center of the rings, they could make out some of the details of the five scenes that appeared within the arches as if they were windows looking out into other worlds.

The scene nearest to them and to their right seemed to show the strange land of an empire of a much older age. The people there dressed in clothing that had long since been outdated, with garments that at the time were seen only in tomb paintings and ancient statues. Racially the people had an appearance of ancient Keolanders, before the influx of the Suloise. Other clues also seemed to support the antiquity of the scene such as chariots, bronze weapons, and strange races mingled with the predominant Flan.

The second scene, moving counter-clockwise from there, showed a city that was grim and filthy. The streets were filled with goblins and orcs. Skulls seemed to the predominant motif in architecture and decoration. To Alavarius, this scene looked much like how he envisioned the capital city of Iuz, Dorakaa, to be.

The third scene showed another city of ancient design, lit by the moons, stars and torchlight. It rose up over the shore of a gently lapping lake. Ships bobbed along the shore and occasionally flying creatures moved across the sky. From its architectural style and its position by the lake, Alavarius presumed this scene to be showing the former capital of the great Baklunish empire which once stood in the exact spot where the Stone Circles were now located before the Invoked Devastation destroyed it.

The fourth scene, which was only now becoming more visible as the band approached, showed the remains of an ancient palace, now shattered and broken. The destruction could only have occurred just moments before, since rubble was still crumbling away and people were running in confusion. Even in its destruction, the palace looked both majestic and corrupt. The fifth scene, which was just to the left of the band as they approached, looked out over a gray and gloomy expanse. At first it appeared featureless, but upon closer inspection, the dim outline of a massive skull could be seen in the distance.

In all there were five rings of the Stone Circles, each set around the others in a concentric pattern. And as the band continued to approach and pass through each of these rings, Turim still appeared to ignore the presence of the band as it now became obvious that he was actively engage in some ritual and somehow manipulating these windows that looked into these other worlds.

By now, the Sword of Kas was practically screaming within the mind of Kieranen to destroy Vecna, and it was all Kieranen could do to keep from going berserk and running at Turim to take a swing at him. To increase its chance for success, the sword revealed to Kieranen some of its abilities, which included increasing his strength and casting a shield spell around him, which it did. Kieranen had also discovered by this point, that the Sword of Kas was a bloodthirsty sword and it had been far too long since it last fed. Though Kieranen fought the sword with every last once of willpower he had, while at the same time trying not let his companions become aware of the struggle he was going through, some of his companions began to notice the strained look on his face and the bead of sweat running down the side of his face. Kieranen realized that eventually his willpower would give out on him and at that point the sword would take control of him – it was only a question of when.

However, when the band had passed through four of the rings and got to within 60 feet of Turim, Kieranen felt his strength suddenly returned to normal, though the Sword of Kas still urged him on. The band continued moving towards Turim and about 40 feet from him the band reached the fifth and inner most ring. Here they paused, certain that Turim had to be aware of their presence by now. But still the manifestation of Vecna chose to ignore them, and instead seemed to be concentrating on one of the five scenes set around him. The band waited for a moment expecting Turim to stop what he was doing and address them – but he never did. So, after a moment of awkward silence, Nero finally spoke up and said, “Turim, or shall I call you Vecna? We have come to collect our promised reward. You told us that you would make us great and powerful over all of the Flanaess.”

At this point, Turim did stop what he was doing, and turned towards the band to speak to them. But before he got a word out, Kieranen suddenly let out a scream, raised up the Sword of Kas and charged at Turim. But Turim seemed somehow to be expecting this and when Kieranen reached him and before he could swing his sword, Turim lurched towards the elf, reached out his hand and touched him. Kiernan instantly went ridged and fell to the ground paralyzed, while the Sword of Kas slipped from his grasp. Then Turim quickly shot a menacing look at the rest of the band and a familiar wave of awe washed over them leaving them dazed and unable to act. Realizing the futility of trying to fight a being that powerful, the rest of the band just stood there in stunned silence.

But, ignoring the elven warrior that now lay sprawled on the ground at his feet, Turim spoke up and said, “So you have decided to accept my offer. I promised to reward you and I will.” Turim then paused with an evil smile on his face. “I will make any one of you my right hand, my voice on Oerth. Soon, when my worshipers step through from the past, I will be the greatest of all gods. Istus, Incabulos, and the others will be nothing next to Vecna. Join me and you will be more powerful than you can imagine. If you want this, all you need do is one simple thing. Kill your friends. Do this and ultimate power is yours.”

Nero responded by saying, “But you promised to reward us all.”

To which, Turim answered, “I made no such promise. Do you think you can haggle with one as powerful as I? You have heard my offer. Now you must decide whether or not to accept it.”

Nero then glanced at his companions, and for just a moment, looked as if he was seriously considering taking Turim up on his offer. Nicholas and Dravos then shot Nero a very stern look and almost in unison responded by telling Turim that he can take his offer and go to hell with it. So Turim looked at Nero once again as if to ask him for his final answer. And though it took longer for Nero to respond, he shook his head and said, “No deal. I too must decline your offer.”

“That is unfortunate,” Turim said. “In that case, I no longer have any need for you. And since you have refused me, it is you who can now join Kas in eternal hell!” And with that, Turim waved his hand and suddenly the Righteous Vanguard, along with the Sword of Kas, was hurled through one of the windows, which in reality was a portal to another world. It was the gray and gloomy realm with the massive skull in the distance.

Do not despair. There is more to come.

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Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! - Chapter 9
Early in the day, on Freeday, the 21st day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, after being question by the Provost of the City, Rollo Augustin, about the recent difficulties with the Cult of Vecna, the Righteous Vanguard set out from the city of Verbobanc and headed into the Kron Hills. Fortunately, earlier that morning, while preparing for their journey, it had been realized by the band that without the horses they had bought only the day before and then left behind at the Rock Powder Inn, and with the slow rate of travel of their guide, the gnome Vargannos Ache-Feet, who intended to wear plate armor on the journey, it would take them as long as two weeks to reach the village of Osnabrolt if they traveled by foot. Because of this, an alternate means of travel was looked for, and Alavarius realized he could cast a couple of wind walk spells and have the party in Osnabrolt by that afternoon!

So the spells were cast, and the band, including their guide and followers, was transformed into clouds of vapor that could whisk over valleys and hills at an astounding rate of speed. Doing this also insured that they could avoid any trouble along the way from people and monsters who might wish to do them harm. However, it also meant that they would not be able to gather any information from other travelers along the roads. But the benefits of traveling in this way seemed well worth it.

In just a couple of hours, the band managed to skirt along a main road going southwest, about 80 miles into the Kron Hills, and then turned south along a trail for another 30 miles or so, until they approached the village of Osnabrolt, deep in the foothills of the Lortmil Mountains. As they approached the gnome village however, they began to notice more and more traffic along the narrowing trail, going to and from the village and mostly consisting of gnomes and dwarves. This seemed very unusual, particularly to the band’s guide, Vargannos. Because of this, Vargannos stopped a few hundred yards from the village and indicated to the band that they should do the same. Alavarius dismissed the wind walk spells so the band could communicate, not only to others, but to themselves as well. Vargannos then pointed out to the band the unusual circumstances and it was noted that the gnomes traveling into Osnabrolt were carrying tools, fresh bread, clothing, lumber, milk and other supplies, while those who were leaving looked more like refugees.

Vargannos asked some of these gnomes what was happening, while Nero, the only member of the band who spoke the gnome language, listened on. They were told that something powerful and terrible had swept through the little warren, murdering the inhabitants and destroying the homes. This something, perhaps a human, came through the village only a few weeks before.

News of the disaster did not reach the outside world until about a week before the band’s arrival, as it took that long for the survivors to dig their way out of the ruins. Since then, Osnabrolt’s neighbors had been pitching in to help rebuild the community. But, from the looks of it, these were terrible times indeed for the small village of gnomes. As the band then continued towards the village on foot, every group of gnomes they passed by seemed to eye them with suspicion and as they drew near, they could see a column of smoke rising from the ruins just ahead.

Upon arriving at the village, it was clear to the band that a powerful force had struck there. The warrens, a group of underground tunnels and homes, were shattered. The village had originally been built into a huge mound with windows and doors peeking out of the bushes and sod at various points. Now however, roofs were collapsed in some areas, blown completely away in others. Jagged cracks showed where the walls had split. Most of the survivors had moved up from underground and were now living in a temporary tent village. Some distance away was a huge funeral pyre, where the less fortunate were put to rest. Gnome guards stood ready at all points around the site, watchful for wild animals and humanoid raiders.

As the band entered the village, the gnomes in the tent village eyed them sullenly. Children hid behind their mothers and fathers with fear in their eyes. But before the band got too close to the refugee camp, a group of gnome guards drew up in rank, blocking the path before them. Other guards moved around to the flanks and rear. Then one of the gnomes stepped forward and asked them in Common to state their business. Vargannos spoke up then, and in the gnome language, told them that he had led this band of adventurers to Osnabrolt in the hopes of doing business with them, but upon seeing the village, were now more interested in offering their assistance. Nero spoke to the gnome as well, who introduced himself as Maldo, leader of the guards, after Nero introduced himself as the merchant, Sir Omrey, and the band as the Righteous Vanguard.

Nero, despite the recent change in attitude he had undergone over the past year or so, towards aiding others, seemed to be genuinely moved by the current plight of the gnomes and did his best to convince Maldo that the band only wanted to help the gnomes. Either that, or Nero surmised that by assisting the gnomes in any way possible, something worthwhile could be gained in return. Alavarius likewise seemed unusually eager to assist the gnomes, though it was in his nature to want to heal others, and asked immediately about tending to those who were injured.

With these persuasive offers of aid, Maldo soon relented and allowed the band to enter the encampment. Alavarius was then shown to a triage where all the wounded had been taken, while Maldo escorted the others to see the leader of the community, an old female gnome whom all the gnomes in Osnabrolt referred to as Old Gudrune.

Upon meeting Old Gudrune, it soon became apparent that she had suffered a broken hip in the disaster, but she refused any clerical aid until she was convinced that all the other gnomes in the community had been healed of their injuries. The matriarch was confined to a straw pallet under a simple tent. Her brother, almost as old as she was, sat nearby brushing away the flies when she grew too weak to care for herself. Often she drifted in and out of consciousness – but fortunately at this time she was awake. Nero spoke with her for a while as Nicholas, Dravos and Kieranen went on to help the gnomes in moving some of the fallen debris and setting up more shelters. Nero, still posing as Sir Omrey, told Old Gudrune that he had originally come to Osnabrolt to look into tomb building and inquired about a certain tomb, built a hundred years ago, that he believed to be nearby.

At the mention of this tomb, Old Gudrune’s expression changed and the other gnomes nearby exchanged wary glances with one another. It was evident that the gnomes knew about the tomb that Nero spoke of. Old Gudrune told Nero that another group of humans, fitting the description of the Circle of Eight, had passed through the village a few weeks before, shortly before the disaster struck the village, and asked about the same tomb. Gudrune apologized, but because of this, and for the sake of Osnabrolt, she refused to tell Nero anything about the tomb, believing it would lead to further troubles for the village. This was despite the fact that Nero tried to convince her that the threat was over because they had wiped out the cult and its leader who were responsible for the disaster.

When Nero then spoke to the rest of the band and told them that the gnome matriarch would not tell them anything about the tomb, Nicholas suggested they go out immediately and look on their own for the tomb. Nicholas had never been a very patient man to begin with, more often preferring to fight that to talk and rarely willing to wait around for anything. But ever since drawing his first card from the Deck of Destinies, which increased his strength but made him even less charismatic than he already was, it seemed that his priorities had also changed. Here again was another example of his willingness to go against authority figures like Old Gudrune and simply do as he pleased – so long as it served the cause of good. (Nicholas’ alignment has officially been changed from lawful good to neutral good).

Fortunately, other members of the band cautioned against making any rash decisions and instead encouraged their companions to be patient. When they involved Vargannos in on the discussion (more or less, since he was never fully informed about the band’s recent exploits or their current objectives) he reminded the band about the story that he had told them, concerning the sword that they believed to be the Sword of Kas. Vargannos, then offered to see if he could learn anything more about this legend, hoping the gnomes of Osnabrolt would be more willing to open up to him since he too was a gnome. This proved to be very helpful, as Vargannos was soon able to learn, after talking with some of his fellow gnomes, a very important part of the legend that he had not previously been aware of.

According to local tradition, the gnomes of Osnabrolt were charged with the duty to guard the sword “until the needy came to the lame for aid.” This description seemed to fit the present circumstances. So Nero and the band went and spoke once more with Old Gudrune and tried to convince her that the time had come, and that he and the Righteous Vanguard were the needy as described in the legend. The matriarch allowed that this might be true, but was reluctant to end the duty with which she and the village had been charged. The gnomes of Osnabrolt believed the mysterious guest in the legend to have been some malevolent god and they were fearful of displeasing him. But she told the band that she would take some time and consider what they were suggesting. Some time then passed and the day drew to a close as the band continued to do what they could to aid the gnomes.

Then, as the band was gathered near the center of the encampment and preparing to share an evening meal with the gnomes, a gnome dame approached them and presented them with a small mourning dove hatchling. “We found this,” the gnome said, and set the scrawny bird at the group’s feet. She then backed away and said nothing more, as if waiting to see what the band would do. Each member of the band looked at each other, somewhat puzzled by the gnome’s behavior. But Dravos quickly caught on and reached down to pick up the bird. He then asked the gnome where she found the bird, and she took him to the exact spot not far away. Dravos then looked around, and as he had suspected, spotted a bird’s nest about 100’ above in a tree. By now, some members of the band had noticed that several of the gnomes in the village were casually observing them, though they tried not to be too obvious about it. Realizing that what they did at this point might be very important in the eyes of the gnomes, Dravos thought about how he might return the bird to its nest. But Alavarius volunteered to fly up and put the bird back, since it would be a very simple task for him. So Dravos gave him the bird, and Alavarius soon had the hatchling back in its nest. As soon as this was done however, the mother bird flew in and began to attack Alavarius. So he cast a spell which had a very calming effect on the mother bird. Then he flew back down to the ground.

At the sight of this, many of the gnomes who had been watching were clearly pleased by the band’s actions, and not long afterwards, the band was again summoned to go and speak with Old Gudrune. Once they were back in the presence of Gudrune, she thanked them for their kindness, especially for the hatchling, implying that the incident with the hatchling had actually been a test, which the band had passed quite well. She then continued, saying, “After careful consideration, I believe it is prudent to take you to our sacred treasure.” Obviously, this was a solemn occasion for the gnomes, for, if Gudrune was right, it meant the fulfillment of a prophecy and their release from a task that had lasted for centuries. The band was then told that before they could be shown to the sacred chamber where the treasure lay, they had to endure the purification rites and holy rituals that the gnomes had devised over the years. These preparations, they were told, would take a couple of days and they would begin in the morning.

Naturally, the band was not pleased to learn that they would be delayed at least two more days, nor did any of them look forward to undergoing any sort of ceremonial ritual. But, try as they might, there did not seem to be any way of talking the gnomes out of it nor any way of shortening it. They did however, press once more to be allowed to look for the tomb that Nero had mentioned, and this time, Gudrune finally relented.

So that evening, after being given some general directions, the band set out in search of the tomb. About an hour later, shortly before sundown, they finally found it. It appeared much as Cymria had described it from her vision, and it did not look as if it had been disturbed in weeks. Of course, the band was very cautious in investigating the burial mound. But eventually they came to the conclusion that there was no longer any real threat inside the tomb. Unfortunately, they also found no bodies, no magic items and very little evidence that the Circle of Eight had even been there. They did find that the final chamber in the tomb was still filled with the decaying grave goods that had been interred with Halmadar the Cruel. But despite the fact that some of these items were worth quite a bit monetarily, they decided not to take anything, believing that these things may be cursed. So with empty hands and very little information gained at the tomb, the band returned to Osnabrolt, where they soon tried to get some rest in preparation for the ordeal that awaited them on the following day.

The next morning, on Starday, the 22nd day of Reaping, before beginning the gnomes’ rituals, Alavarius cast enough heroes’ feast spells to feed the entire village, which the gnomes were very grateful for. Soon afterwards, the gnomes then started putting the Righteous Vanguard through their purification rites, which, ironically, began with 24 hours of fasting. During this time, each band member was only allowed water in small sips. They were also required to bath several times, as the gnomes furiously scoured them with pumice-like stones. They were also forced to remove all magic items and clothing and had to stitch together simple tunics or loin cloths from tent cloth. At first, all the members of the band went along with this, though they grumbled about it a lot. But when told to remove all magic items, Nero refused to do so, knowing that his disguise would be revealed and his protections against divination spells would cease. He was told that if he did not go through with the ritual he would not be allowed inside the sacred chamber – but this did not make him change his mind. So Nero sat by and watched his companions proceed with the ritual. They were not the only ones to undergo the ritual however, as Maldo decided to join them, so he could accompany them inside the ritual chamber.

After 24 hours of fasting, the band had to purge their bodies by sweating. The gnomes had thrown together a simple sweat lodge, built a fire, and had been heating stones for the previous 12 hours. At dawn, on the morning of Sunday, the 23rd, the band, all but Nero, and Maldo were placed naked inside the lodge, which was very cramped, especially for Dravos.

Inside the lodge was a pit filled with heated rocks, over which water was poured, creating clouds of steam. All through the day, water and hot rocks were added, keeping the lodge tortuously hot. There they had to stay for 14 hours until the sun went down. As the day wore on, some members of the band began to feel the effects of heat and hunger and started to hallucinate. These hallucinations were minor at first, such as sounds, voices and apparitions seen at the periphery of vision. Gradually the hallucinations became more extreme. They seemed to have conversations with talking worms, got advice from birds, the sweat lodge opened up and they flew through the sky, and they even saw and talked with ancestors. Some members of the band also saw a vision of an old warrior that told them to find his sword, as with it they might find a way to defeat Vecna. Initially, only the hardiest members of the band, such as Nicholas and Kieranen, managed to avoid having these hallucinations. But eventually, even they began to see things. Worse still, some members of the band began to pass out from exhaustion. By the end of the 14 hour period, only Nicholas managed to remain conscious throughout. But when it was finally over, all of them were exhausted from the ordeal.

At sundown, the band and Maldo were taken from the lodge and dressed in their “new clothing”. Each of them was then christened with a new name, including Maldo. Dravos was given the name Mushroom Mountain, Nicholus was given the name Bull Ogre, Alavarius was given the name Swimming Bird, Kieranen was given the name Ancient Warrior, and Maldo, due to a vision he had, was given the name Dog Man. With these new names, each of the band members (except Nero who was no longer included in the rituals) was also adopted into the Osnabrolt clan and declared honorary gnomes. Now, at last, the Righteous Vanguard would be allowed to enter the sacred hall.

Still in a state of fatigue and exhaustion, the group was led in a procession to the hall, and again, for the gnomes, it was a solemn affair. Leading the way was Old Gudrune, carried on a pallet. Behind her came Maldo carrying a torch, while the band fell in behind him, who in turn were followed by many other gnomes carrying torches. Some members of the band were still hallucinating at this point and having some difficulty distinguishing what was real from what was not real. But the procession picked its way through the rubble until it finally arrived at an old, age-stained door, set in the side of a nearby hill. Nero meanwhile, had turned invisible and was following along to keep an eye on things. From her pallet, which had been set beside the door, Gudrune then nodded to the band and spoke in Common, “If I had not been so infirm, I too, would join you. Now, I give you over to my son, Maldo. He is your guide from here.” And with a tired wave of her hand, Gudrune ordered Maldo to open the door.

For all its build up, the scared hall of Osnabrolt was a pretty plain affair. Pulling the stiff door open, Maldo led the group into a large, unfurnished chamber, which was little more than a hollowed-out cavern.

The floor and walls of the sacred hall were bare dirt, the ceiling supported by a framework of beams and braces. A few roots dangled from the ceiling. There were no furnishings, decorations, or even trash. It was nothing but a barren room.

“This is where it happened,” Maldo said, indicating the room. Then he stepped to one side allowing the band members a better view. There was no sign of a sword, and at this point, Maldo looked to the Righteous Vanguard as if expecting them to know what to do. But, apparently like Maldo, none of the band members had any real idea of what to do. So they asked him about the sword and he pointed at the floor and said, “He plunged it into the ground there, burying it deep into the earth.” Not knowing what else to do, Dravos then began to brush some of the dirt away from the center of the floor to see if he could find any sign of the sword. But about that time, everyone heard a faint rumbling noise that seemed to be coming from under their feet. Some of the group were not sure if they were hallucinating this sound or not. But the noise grew louder, and the dirt at the center of the floor began to tremble, bouncing up and down as if it sat on the skin of a drum. Suddenly, the dirt flew upward, hit by something from below. There was a glint of metal and then more. Before the eyes of the Righteous Vanguard, a uniquely wrought sword rose up out of the ground – the Sword of Kas!

It was a huge sword with a blade six feet in length and a hilt two feet long, making the entire weapon eight feet in length! The blade had been forged in the flame or water style, with both edges rippled with iridescent undulations. A vein of magically hardened gold formed the center spine and its hilt was wrapped in red leather, flecked with gold. The guards were fashioned from polished pieces of unicorn horn and the pommel was a leering, bearded face, designed to form a small basket at the bottom of the hilt.

Nicholas was the first to reach out and touch the sword, but it shocked him pretty severely. So Kieranen touched it and he too was shocked by it. Other members of the band likewise touched it, all with the same shocking result. So Nicholas tried again. This time the sword did not shock him, so he grabbed the sword and instantly realized that it was much less difficult to wield than it appeared to be. Then Nicholas’ mind was suddenly filled with images, the strongest of which gave a sensation of bonding between him and the sword. The other predominant image was that of Vecna and it became clear that the sword had a burning desire to find and destroy the arch-lich.

Realizing that such a powerful weapon would have a great conflict with his intelligent war hammer whelm, Nicholas handed the sword over to Kieranen instead. Fortunately, it did not shock the elf either the second time he touched it, and he too had images enter his mind and a sense of bonding with the sword. Kieranen quickly felt as if he and the sword belonged together and the sword seemed filled with the power to eradicate the corrupt fiend, Vecna. The sword also seemed to sense the direction of Vecna and whether or not he was near or far. At this point, Vecna seemed to be very far away to the southwest, quite possibly at Tovag Baragu.

With the appearance of the Sword of Kas, Maldo and all the gnomes assumed that the prophecy had been fulfilled, and because of this, a great feast was quickly prepared in their honor. So, despite the fact that most members of the Righteous Vanguard were still fatigued and exhausted and still did not have on them anything but the makeshift clothes they had made, they were encouraged to participate in this feast. To do otherwise would clearly have been a major insult to the gnomes who wished to honor them, and at the time, it seemed that there was not any real danger in doing as the gnomes had wished. But a short ways into the feast, they suddenly discovered that danger was a lot closer than they had thought.

As the band and about a dozen of the gnomes were gathered around a campfire and enjoying the feast, a large band of ogres came storming out of the darkness around them and attacked. Fortunately, unlike his companions, Nero was fully equipped and well rested. So he immediately began blasting the onrushing ogres with his spells, killing many of them before they were able to engage in combat. Most members of the Righteous Vanguard, realizing that they had very little with which to fight, retreated towards the tents where their possessions were. Even Kieranen, who still had the Sword of Kas on him, retreated, leaving the gnomes behind to face the ogres that were now rushing into the camp. Then enemy spells like a fireball and a web spell began to strike those that retreated and a confusion spell was centered on the gnomes that were still in the camp. Dravos and Alavarius did what they could to even the odds and cast spells that would remove the effects of their fatigue and exhaustion.

Initially, the battle looked bad for the gnomes and the Righteous Vanguard. But the fact that Nero did not participate in the gnome’s rituals turned out to be a great boon, as he quickly turned the tide of the battle with his powerful spells. Soon, the ogres were on the verge of being completely eliminated and the enemy spellcasters were left with no choice but to retreat. The Righteous Vanguard however, was not about to let the spellcasters get away though, as several of them used various means to pursue them. It did not take long for them to track down two fleeing priests and kill them. But a third one they recognized and managed to take him alive. It was none other than Beryn Talkin, the Rhenee they had seen several times on the barge and then again in the City of Verbobanc. They were surprised to discover however, that these were not priests of Vecna, but rather priests of Iuz.

The band brought him back to the camp, used their usual methods to question him, and learned that the priests had been sent to acquire the Sword of Kas. Beryn also claimed that Iuz was not their enemy and tried to make a deal with the band, saying that they could work together against Vecna. Some members of the band, of course, had no desire to work with Iuz and wanted to kill the priest. But others saw a connection between Beryn’s proposal and certain prophetic dreams that Alavarius had been having, and believed that some kind of an alliance with Iuz might be crucial in defeating Vecna.

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Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! - Chapter 8
It was just after midnight, in the earliest minutes of Earthday, the 20th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, when the Righteous Vanguard was led into an ambush in a rock quarry about 13 miles to the southwest of the city of Verbobanc, and where they also, less than a minute later, had killed all but two of the attacking cultists. One of the two cultists that did not die that night, a spellcaster that none of the band’s members ever saw, but whose presence was felt by the few spells it cast, apparently fled the scene when the ambush quickly turned against the cultists. But the other of the two, one of the Blood of Venca and the last of the cultists to go down, the band managed to capture alive and, later on, question him about the cult’s activities.

But first, the band looked about the quarry and checked the bodies of their enemies for any magic items or other things of interest, while Alavarius tended to injuries. One item of curiosity was that Turim, the old man with the wooden leg, had somehow remained completely unharmed throughout the entire fight. In fact, despite his apparent handicaps, he proved to be quite capable with a cutlass, and managed to defend himself very handily. When asked how he managed to avoid being unharmed by the fireball that engulfed them, he claimed it had something to do with a magic ring that he wore. But when Nero cast a detect magic spell in the area, he could detect no magic on the old man. This led some members of the band to become suspicious of Turim. Some members of the band, such as Alavarius, even went so far as to ponder the idea, as far-fetched as it may have sounded, that Turim was actually the Whispered One, the real Lord Vecna in disguise!

After the band had gathered anything of value from the dead bodies of the cultists, Alavarius cast a detect thoughts spell and they began to question the captured fighter. He, of course, did not want to answer any questions. But simply asking certain questions was enough to make him think about the answers and therefore provide Alavarius with a good deal of information. In this way the band learned that the half-elf Oaklin had deliberately led the band into an ambush. But most importantly, they learned that the cult’s secret hideout was in the basement of the Scythe and Sheaf Inn.

With this information, the band returned to the nearby Rock Powder Inn, where they informed the innkeeper that the quarry was now safe and that the trouble had been caused by a group of bandits, all of which were now dead or captured. Then, despite the rainy conditions and the late hour of the night, the band escorted their captured cultist all the way back to Verbobanc, where they turned him over to the city guards. Then, because they did not want to take the risk of going to their rooms at the Scythe and Sheaf Inn, they returned to Kron Hall to get some rest.

The next morning, the band slept until about 10 o’clock. When they did finally get ready for the day, the first thing they did was to go to the palace and report to Sir Alfentrask, as they had been instructed to, and told him most of what had taken place on the previous night. However, when asked if they knew where the cult was located, they told Sir Alfentrask that they suspected it might be in the basement of the Red Don Inn. This they did because they did not want the city guards to risk their lives in an attack on the cult’s hideout, knowing full well that many good men could die in the process. The band, acting as they were so often accustomed to, also tried to maintain control on the investigation and any assault on the cult, rather than turning things over to the local authorities, which was understandable as they had done all the work in the investigation so far. But, clearly, Sir Alfentrask saw things differently from his perspective, and believed the band had over-stepped their bounds and were treading on toes in a case where they had no jurisdiction. As a result, a bit of a conflict arose, and Sir Alfentrask was forced to exert his authority, telling the band that he would gather a small force of men and at 3 o’clock, and that they would do a thorough investigation of the Red Don Inn. He told the band that they were welcome to join him and his men, but made it clear that he would be in charge of the operation. The band agreed to this. Then they told Sir Alfentrask that needed to do some more information gathering and left the palace.

The band, now realizing that they had only a short while before the city guards would storm into an inn where they knew the cult was not located, and encouraged by Turim who seemed very eager to battle the cult, decided to go ahead and make a raid into the basement of the Scythe and Sheaf. So they immediately set out for the east side of the city where the inn was located. Once there, Alavarius did some reconnaissance with an arcane eye spell and a clairvoyance spell, which, despite the recent difficulties with divination spells, managed to work as hoped. With this, they located a secret passageway that led away from the basement. Into this secret passageway the band transported themselves using a dimension door and Dravos’ dimensional hop ability. Then quietly, they moved down the passageway towards a chamber where they could hear chanting.

Nero, using an invisibility spell to conceal himself, was the first to peak around a corner and see a large chamber filled with more than sixty cultists, all of which chanted, “Hail, Lord Vecna!” over and over, as if Vecna himself was there among them. All but one of the cultists had their backs to the entrance, and all but a few wore ordinary clothes but with green tabards emblazoned with the cult’s symbol. Five of them however, were dressed in rich robes of green and red. Four of these five faced a make-shift altar, while the fifth one stood on the far side of the altar facing the rest of the congregation. His face was hidden in the shadows of his robes. Nero, making use of a message spell, informed his companions of what he saw. Then a quick battle plan was devised and several preparatory spells were cast.

When the band was ready, Alavarius cast an aiding spell. Then Nero stepped into the chamber and began the attack by quickly launching two cones of force directly at the center of the group of cultists, making sure to catch those around the altar in the process. To the band’s relief, this killed all the cultists within the cone’s paths except those at the altar. Dravos then moved into the room and positioned himself for his first attack. He was followed by Nicholas and Kieranen. As he moved into the room, Nicholas threw his hammer Whelm at one of the robed figures at the altar, and while he did not know it at the time, he struck in the back, Her Most Sublime Excellency and the Heart of Vecna, or Most High Priest of Vecna, Diraq Malcinex.

Before any of the cultists could react, Nero struck again with two more cones of force, each directed to the sides of the chamber and again killing all the cultists except those who were fortunate enough to be standing on the far sides of pillars. Dravos then stepped up and attacked the nearest of the robed figures. Again unknown to him at the time, this was Mondiss, the Thought of Vecna and the cleric/wizard who had fled from the rock quarry on the previous night. Dravos’ attacks combined with the two cones of force were enough to kill him. But it was then that some of the cultists were finally able to react. One of the robed figures turned and revealed itself to be another incarnation of the Eye, the humanoid figure with the giant eyeball in place of a head. Dravos could not help but momentarily meet its gaze. And when he did, Dravos’ life force was immediately sucked out of his body and into the Eye. To everyone’s horror, Dravos’ body suddenly collapsed in a heap. Seeing what it had just done to his companion, Nicholas turned and attacked the Eye, severely wounding it. Kieranen then finished it off and turned to attack the Heart of Vecna, killing her as well. But at that point, one of the few remaining robed figures turned, revealing itself to be a Hand, or a humanoid with a giant hand in place of a head, and attacked Kieranen. It only managed to hit him once with its many sword attacks. But its grasping giant hand did manage to grab Kieranen by the head. Fortunately, Alavarius remembered the words of pain that were written on a piece of paper and found in the possession of a cleric in Greyhawk. These magical words had been intended to keep the Hand under control. So Alavarius read aloud one of the words on the paper, which caused severe pain in the Hand and forced him to release Kieranen.

It was then that the last of the robed cultists, the one on the far side of the altar, finally revealed itself. As it threw off its hood, the band could see a withered old man with one eye that appeared very different from the other. He threw up both hands and the band saw that his hands did not match either. From the description given to them by Tenser’s henchman Cymria, the band now recognized Halmadar the Cruel and the possessor of the Eye and Hand of Vecna – all except Nero that is, because upon seeing the creature known as the Eye, Nero had closed his eyes and refused to look at it. Halmadar now raised his left hand and with it, made a fist, clearly expecting a magical effect to occur. But to Halamadar’s apparent surprise, nothing happened.

Perhaps even more surprising was what happened next. Turim entered the chamber at that point, his peg-leg thumped across the carpeted floor as he strode past the bodies of the fallen cultists as well as those who still remained in the battle. As he did so, a wave of invisible and yet immense power seemed to flow from him, causing nearly everyone in the room to become awestruck. “Fool!” Turim bellowed at Halmadar, his voice far stronger than ever before. “You thought you could claim the power of Vecna with the mere Eye and Hand? I will not be usurped by a worm like you.” And with that, Turim grabbed Halmadar by the throat in a vice-like grip.

Nicholas and Kieranen, two of the very few that did not become overwhelmed with awe, continued to fight on and with their combined efforts, managed to kill the Hand. But no one else in the room stirred, all their attention now focused on Turim as he grasped Halmadar in an unbreakable hold. Turim then reached up with his other hand and ripped the left eye from Halmadar’s skull. Then he did the same to Halamadar’s left hand. As soon as this happened, Halmadar’s body rapidly decayed and crumbled into a pile of shattered bones and dust.

Suddenly, Turim’s appearance changed. His peg-leg vanished and his whole body was restored, with the Eye and the Hand of Vecna becoming a part of him. He now seemed stronger than before, more vital. Triumphantly he then turned towards the Righteous Vanguard and spoke. “Know my allies, that I am the true Vecna. Thanks to your aid, I shall reign supreme in the heavens.” He then made a move as if he intended to destroy the band with one wave of his hand – but then he stopped. “No,” he said upon reflection. “I will not kill you. Let it be said that Vecna is a generous god. Indeed, because you have been such faithful servants, whether you were so knowingly or not, I will make you great and powerful over all of the Flanaess. Come to Tovag Baragu and collect your reward!” And with that, Vecna, formerly known to the band as Turim, vanished, teleporting away.

With Vecna now gone the battle was over. Only ten of the cultists remained and they were no threat to the band as they were still left in a stupor of awe and amazement. And fortunately, with the death of the Eye, Dravos’ life force had returned to his body and he was now able to pick himself up off the floor. So the band gathered up the ten cultists while the bodies of the fallen were examined for magic items and anything else of value. Any injuries the band had were also healed.

Then the band talked briefly about what had just occurred. It seemed that the idea of Turim being Vecna was perhaps, not so far-fetched after all. As for Tovag Baragu, Alavarius explained to the rest of the band that it was the sight of some ancient ruins in what was once the Baklunish Empire before the Invoked Devastation destroyed it. It was said to have powerful mysterious magical properties to it. But it was also more than a month’s journey away by horseback. Each member of the band seemed to agree at this point that somehow, they needed to find a way to get to Tovag Baragu – but exactly why each member wanted to go was perhaps not entirely clear.

First, however, they needed to wrap things up in Verbobanc. And the first thing they needed to do was to stop Sir Alfentrask from raiding the Red Don Inn. So Nero and Kieranen went to the palace, just as he was gathering his men, and explained to him that they had been attacked by cultists at the Scythe and Sheaf and that they had subsequently discovered the cultist’s hideout in the basement there. Sir Alfentrask then took his men and followed Nero and Kieranen back to the Scythe and Sheaf. There they arrested the ten cultists as well as the innkeeper and closed up the inn so the guards could further investigate it. Sir Alfentrask asked the band more questions and eventually sent them on their way.

The band then went to the Temple of St. Cuthbert where they spoke to Bishop Haufren. He too asked the band many questions about their recent events. When the band was finally done answering questions, they returned to Kron Hall. At this point, they were still planning on going to Tovag Baragu as soon as possible. But when they got to Kron Hall, something happened that changed their minds. Waiting for them at Kron Hall was the gnome guide Vargannos Ache-Feet. He wanted to ask them if they had decided yet when they wanted to go to Osnabrolt. By now, the band had dismissed the idea of going to Osnabrolt, believing that it was no longer all that important. But then Alavarius remembered that he had sensed that Vargannos had an interesting tale about Osnabrolt that none of them had ever asked him about. So they asked Vargannos about this and he told them a tale about a man who visited the gnome village a very long time before and had convinced them to hide a powerful sword and to keep it a secret. After listening to Vargannos’ tale, they realized that the sword in the tale might possibly be the Sword of Kas, which was used in the battle that originally caused Vecna’s downfall. Thinking that this sword might be of use to the band, they decided to go to Osnabrolt after all. It also occurred to Nero that, as far as they knew, the bodies of the Circle of Eight had never been recovered, and this also needed to be looked into.

Before leaving Verbobanc however, there was one more thing that the band wanted to do – and that was to hunt down the hale-elf Oaklin and make him pay for leading them into an ambush. It did not take long for the band to track him down. Dravos and Nero were the first to catch up with him and they wanted to punish him themselves. But when Alavarius caught up to them, he immediately alerted Nicholas and Kieranen who showed up quickly and insisted that he be turned over to the authorities after answering a few questions. This was done, much to the disappointment of Nero and Dravos, and the band called it a night.

On the following day, Freeday the 21st, before the band could set out, they were summoned once again to the palace where once again they had to answer a series of questions, this time from the Provost of the City, Rollo Augustin. After answering his questions, the Righteous Vanguard, swearing never again to set foot in Verbobanc, headed out with their guide into the Kron Hills and on their way to Osnabrolt.

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Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! - Chapter 8
It was just after midnight, in the earliest minutes of Earthday, the 20th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, when the Righteous Vanguard was led into an ambush in a rock quarry about 13 miles to the southwest of the city of Verbobanc, and where they also, less than a minute later, had killed all but two of the attacking cultists. One of the two cultists that did not die that night, a spellcaster that none of the band’s members ever saw, but whose presence was felt by the few spells it cast, apparently fled the scene when the ambush quickly turned against the cultists. But the other of the two, one of the Blood of Venca and the last of the cultists to go down, the band managed to capture alive and, later on, question him about the cult’s activities. But first, the band looked about the quarry and checked the bodies of their enemies for any magic items or other things of interest, while Alavarius tended to injuries. One item of curiosity was that Turim, the old man with the wooden leg, had somehow remained completely unharmed throughout the entire fight. In fact, despite his apparent handicaps, he proved to be quite capable with a cutlass, and managed to defend him very handily. When asked how he managed to avoid being unharmed by the fireball that engulfed them, he claimed it had something to do with a magic ring that he wore. But when Nero cast a detect magic spell in the area, he could detect no magic on the old man. This led some members of the band to become suspicious of Turim. Some members of the band, such as Alavarius, even went so far as to ponder the idea, as far-fetched as it may have sounded, that Turim was actually the Whispered One, the real Lord Vecna in disguise! After the band had gathered anything of value from the dead bodies of the cultists, Alavarius cast a detect thoughts spell and they began to question the captured fighter. He, of course, did not want to answer any questions. But simply asking certain questions was enough to make him think about the answers and therefore provide Alavarius with a good deal of information. In this way the band learned that the half-elf Oaklin had deliberately led the band into an ambush. But most importantly, they learned that the cult’s secret hideout was in the basement of the Scythe and Sheaf Inn. With this information, the band returned to the nearby Rock Powder Inn, where they informed the innkeeper that the quarry was now safe and that the trouble had been caused by a group of bandits, all of which were now dead or captured. Then, despite the rainy conditions and the late hour of the night, the band escorted their captured cultist all the way back to Verbobanc, where they turned him over to the city guards. Then, because they did not want to take the risk of going to their rooms at the Scythe and Sheaf Inn, they returned to Kron Hall to get some rest. The next morning, the band slept until about 10 o’clock. When they did finally get ready for the day, the first thing they did was to go to the palace and report to Sir Alfentrask, as they had been instructed to, and told him most of what had taken place on the previous night. However, when asked if they knew where the cult was located, they told Sir Alfentrask that they suspected it might be in the basement of the Red Don Inn. This they did because they did not want the city guards to risk their lives in an attack on the cult’s hideout, knowing full well that many good men could die in the process. The band, acting as they were so often accustomed to, also tried to maintain control on the investigation and any assault on the cult, rather than turning things over to the local authorities, which was understandable as they had done all the work in the investigation so far. But, clearly, Sir Alfentrask saw things differently from his perspective, and believed the band had over-stepped their bounds and were treading on toes in a case where they had no jurisdiction. As a result, a bit of a conflict arose, and Sir Alfentrask was forced to exert his authority, telling the band that he would gather a small force of men and at 3 o’clock, and that they would do a thorough investigation of the Red Don Inn. He told the band that they were welcome to join him and his men, but made it clear that he would be in charge of the operation. The band agreed to this. Then they told Sir Alfentrask that needed to do some more information gathering and left the palace. The band, now realizing that they had only a short while before the city guards would storm into an inn where they knew the cult was not located, and encouraged by Turim who seemed very eager to battle the cult, decided to go ahead and make a raid into the basement of the Scythe and Sheaf. So they immediately set out for the east side of the city where the inn was located. Once there, Alavarius did some reconnaissance with an arcane eye spell and a clairvoyance spell, which, despite the recent difficulties with divination spells, managed to work as hoped. With this, they located a secret passageway that led away from the basement. Into this secret passageway the band transported themselves using a dimension door and Dravos’ dimensional hop ability. Then quietly, they moved down the passageway towards a chamber where they could hear chanting. Nero, using an invisibility spell to conceal himself, was the first to peak around a corner and see a large chamber filled with more than sixty cultists, all of which chanted, “Hail, Lord Vecna!” over and over, as if Vecna himself was there among them. All but one of the cultists had their backs to the entrance, and all but a few wore ordinary clothes but with green tabards emblazoned with the cult’s symbol. Five of them however, were dressed in rich robes of green and red. Four of these five faced a make-shift altar, while the fifth one stood on the far side of the altar facing the rest of the congregation. His face was hidden in the shadows of his robes. Nero, making use of a message spell, informed his companions of what he saw. Then a quick battle plan was devised and several preparatory spells were cast. When the band was ready, Alavarius cast an aiding spell. Then Nero stepped into the chamber and began the attack by quickly launching two cones of force directly at the center of the group of cultists, making sure to catch those around the altar in the process. To the band’s relief, this killed all the cultists within the cone’s paths except those at the altar. Dravos then moved into the room and positioned himself for his first attack. He was followed by Nicholas and Kieranen. As he moved into the room, Nicholas threw his hammer Whelm at one of the robed figures at the altar, and while he did not know it at the time, he struck in the back, Her Most Sublime Excellency and the Heart of Vecna, or Most High Priest of Vecna, Diraq Malcinex. Before any of the cultists could react, Nero struck again with two more cones of force, each directed to the sides of the chamber and again killing all the cultists except those who were fortunate enough to be standing on the far sides of pillars. Dravos then stepped up and attacked the nearest of the robed figures. Again unknown to him at the time, this was Mondiss, the Thought of Vecna and the cleric/wizard who had fled from the rock quarry on the previous night. Dravos’ attacks combined with the two cones of force were enough to kill him. But it was then that some of the cultists were finally able to react. One of the robed figures turned and revealed itself to be another incarnation of the Eye, the humanoid figure with the giant eyeball in place of a head. Dravos could not help but momentarily meet its gaze. And when he did, Dravos’ life force was immediately sucked out of his body and into the Eye. To everyone’s horror, Dravos’ body suddenly collapsed in a heap. Seeing what it had just done to his companion, Nicholas turned and attacked the Eye, severely wounding it. Kieranen then finished it off and turned to attack the Heart of Vecna, killing her as well. But at that point, one of the few remaining robed figures turned, revealing itself to be a Hand, or a humanoid with a giant hand in place of a head, and attacked Kieranen. It only managed to hit him once with its many sword attacks. But its grasping giant hand did manage to grab Kieranen by the head. Fortunately, Alavarius remembered the words of pain that were written on a piece of paper and found in the possession of a cleric in Greyhawk. These magical words had been intended to keep the Hand under control. So Alavarius read aloud one of the words on the paper, which caused severe pain in the Hand and forced him to release Kieranen. It was then that the last of the robed cultists, the one on the far side of the altar, finally revealed itself. As it threw off its hood, the band could see a withered old man with one eye that appeared very different from the other. He threw up both hands and the band saw that his hands did not match either. From the description given to them by Tenser’s henchman Cymria, the band now recognized Halmadar the Cruel and the possessor of the Eye and Hand of Vecna – all except Nero that is, because upon seeing the creature known as the Eye, Nero had closed his eyes and refused to look at it. Halmadar now raised his left hand and with it, made a fist, clearly expecting a magical effect to occur. But to Halamadar’s apparent surprise, nothing happened. Perhaps even more surprising was what happened next. Turim entered the chamber at that point, his peg-leg thumped across the carpeted floor as he strode past the bodies of the fallen cultists as well as those who still remained in the battle. As he did so, a wave of invisible and yet immense power seemed to flow from him, causing nearly everyone in the room to become awestruck. “Fool!” Turim bellowed at Halmadar, his voice far stronger than ever before. “You thought you could claim the power of Vecna with the mere Eye and Hand? I will not be usurped by a worm like you.” And with that, Turim grabbed Halmadar by the throat in a vice-like grip. Nicholas and Kieranen, two of the very few that did not become overwhelmed with awe, continued to fight on and with their combined efforts, managed to kill the Hand. But no one else in the room stirred, all their attention now focused on Turim as he grasped Halmadar in an unbreakable hold. Turim then reached up with his other hand and ripped the left eye from Halmadar’s skull. Then he did the same to Halamadar’s left hand. As soon as this happened, Halmadar’s body rapidly decayed and crumbled into a pile of shattered bones and dust. Suddenly, Turim’s appearance changed. His peg-leg vanished and his whole body was restored, with the Eye and the Hand of Vecna becoming a part of him. He now seemed stronger than before, more vital. Triumphantly he then turned towards the Righteous Vanguard and spoke. “Know my allies, that I am the true Vecna. Thanks to your aid, I shall reign supreme in the heavens.” He then made a move as if he intended to destroy the band with one wave of his hand – but then he stopped. “No,” he said upon reflection. “I will not kill you. Let it be said that Vecna is a generous god. Indeed, because you have been such faithful servants, whether you were so knowingly or not, I will make you great and powerful over all of the Flanaess. Come to Tovag Baragu and collect your reward!” And with that, Vecna, formerly known to the band as Turim, vanished, teleporting away. With Vecna now gone the battle was over. Only ten of the cultists remained and they were no threat to the band as they were still left in a stupor of awe and amazement. And fortunately, with the death of the Eye, Dravos’ life force had returned to his body and he was now able to pick himself up off the floor. So the band gathered up the ten cultists while the bodies of the fallen were examined for magic items and anything else of value. Any injuries the band had were also healed. Then the band talked briefly about what had just occurred. It seemed that the idea of Turim being Vecna was perhaps, not so far-fetched after all. As for Tovag Baragu, Alavarius explained to the rest of the band that it was the sight of some ancient ruins in what was once the Baklunish Empire before the Invoked Devastation destroyed it. It was said to have powerful mysterious magical properties to it. But it was also more than a month’s journey away by horseback. Each member of the band seemed to agree at this point that somehow, they needed to find a way to get to Tovag Baragu – but exactly why each member wanted to go was perhaps not entirely clear. First, however, they needed to wrap things up in Verbobanc. And the first thing they needed to do was to stop Sir Alfentrask from raiding the Red Don Inn. So Nero and Kieranen went to the palace, just as he was gathering his men, and explained to him that they had been attacked by cultists at the Scythe and Sheaf and that they had subsequently discovered the cultist’s hideout in the basement there. Sir Alfentrask then took his men and followed Nero and Kieranen back to the Scythe and Sheaf. There they arrested the ten cultists as well as the innkeeper and closed up the inn so the guards could further investigate it. Sir Alfentrask asked the band more questions and eventually sent them on their way. The band then went to the Temple of St. Cuthbert where they spoke to Bishop Haufren. He too asked the band many questions about their recent events. When the band was finally done answering questions, they returned to Kron Hall. At this point, they were still planning on going to Tovag Baragu as soon as possible. But when they got to Kron Hall, something happened that changed their minds. Waiting for them at Kron Hall was the gnome guide Vargannos Ache-Feet. He wanted to ask them if they had decided yet when they wanted to go to Osnabrolt. By now, the band had dismissed the idea of going to Osnabrolt, believing that it was no longer all that important. But then Alavarius remembered that he had sensed that Vargannos had an interesting tale about Osnabrolt that none of them had ever asked him about. So they asked Vargannos about this and he told them a tale about a man who visited the gnome village a very long time before and had convinced them to hide a powerful sword and to keep it a secret. After listening to Vargannos’ tale, they realized that the sword in the tale might possibly be the Sword of Kas, which was used in the battle that originally caused Vecna’s downfall. Thinking that this sword might be of use to the band, they decided to go to Osnabrolt after all. It also occurred to Nero that, as far as they knew, the bodies of the Circle of Eight had never been recovered, and this also needed to be looked into. Before leaving Verbobanc however, there was one more thing that the band wanted to do – and that was to hunt down the hale-elf Oaklin and make him pay for leading them into an ambush. It did not take long for the band to track him down. Dravos and Nero were the first to catch up with him and they wanted to punish him themselves. But when Alavarius caught up to them, he immediately alerted Nicholas and Kieranen who showed up quickly and insisted that he be turned over to the authorities after answering a few questions. This was done, much to the disappointment of Nero and Dravos, and the band called it a night. On the following day, Freeday the 21st, before the band could set out, they were summoned once again to the palace where once again they had to answer a series of questions, this time from the Provost of the City, Rollo Augustin. After answering his questions, the Righteous Vanguard, swearing never again to set foot in Verbobanc, headed out with their guide into the Kron Hills and on their way to Osnabrolt.
View
Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 7

By the evening of their first day in Verbobanc, on Godsday, the 18th day of Reaping, in
the Common Year of 581, the Righteous Vanguard had made a number of contacts in the
Gnomeburg section of the city and had visited a number of places elsewhere in the city,
listening for rumors of any strange occurrences.
After gathering back together at Kron Hall, the band, including Turim, the old Rhennee
who had recently joined up with them, decided to have some dinner at the Red Don Inn,
a place that Kieranen knew of where the food was particularly good. As they were having
their dinner, they discussed what information they had gathered so far, and made plans for
the rest of the evening. Towards the end of their dinner, however, a drunk at a nearby table
picked a fight with Nicholas. So Nicholas met the drunk just outside the inn and quickly
knocked the drunk out with one solid punch, then nonchalantly rejoined his companions
back inside the inn. A short while later, just before leaving the inn, Nero, still disguised as
the wealthy merchant, Sir Omrey, asked the innkeeper several questions about the Cult of
Vecna. But the innkeeper claimed to know nothing about it and suggested they go look in
some of the less reputable places within the city.
So the group, at this point, split up. Alavarius wanted to spend some time at a bookstore,
called Bethan’s Books, to see if he could find any useful information. Turim they sent off
to the wharves to see if he could pick up any information from the Rhennee who might
be gathered there. The rest of the band all went to a tavern near the warehouses on the
southwestern corner of the city, called the Hanged Man.
Unfortunately, despite spending the entire evening at the bookstore, Alavarius was
unable to find any information that the band did not already have. But some progress was
made at the Hanged Man. Early on, they became aware of a group of men at one table who
were playing cards and gambling. One of the card players, a man by the name of Raypen,
seemed to be particularly skilled at the game and quickly amassed a sizable pile of coins in
front of him. Eventually, most of the players began to drop out of the game, which caused
Raypen to ask around the tavern if anyone else wanted to join in on the game. Nero, who
at this point was back in his disguise as Diur Daton, since he did not want to appear to be
too wealthy in such as dive as this tavern, volunteered to join in. They played for a couple
of hours and by then, Nero appeared to be doing quite well. But, in addition to being good
at bluffing other people, he was also particularly skilled at observing others and sensing
when they were bluffing. So Nero was aware that Raypen cheated from time to time, and
he also realized that Raypen was trying to set him up for a big score. But Nero had a plan
of his own, and so he played along with Raypen.

When it finally came time for Raypen to make his big score, by dealing what looked to
be a winning hand to Nero and then raising the stakes incredibly high, Nero went all in.
It was no surprise to him when suddenly Raypen produced a hand that somehow beat his
seemingly unbeatable hand. So Nero let Raypen make his big score. But before leaving the
table, he very subtly let Raypen know that he had cheated and that he wished to speak to
him in private. A short while later, Nero spoke with Raypen in private and threatened to
expose him unless he provided Nero with some information. When Raypen agreed to his
terms, Nero asked him some questions about the Cult of Vecna. Raypen told him that he
knew nothing about the cult, but promised to do some asking around of his own. Nero
agreed to this and the two set an appointment to meet again at the Hanged Man at about 8
o’clock on the following night.
While all of this was going on, Nicholas was hanging out near the front door of the
tavern, observing everything. As he was doing so, he noticed a half-elf nearby who
seemed to be doing the same thing. Eventually, the half-elf struck up a conversation with
Nicholas and introduced himself as Oaklin. Oaklin was a short and scrawny individual who
appeared to fit right in with the seamier side of town. But it soon became apparent that
he was also very knowledgeable about the city and pretty much everything that occurred
in it. Apparently realizing that Nicholas and his companions were from out of town and
trying to gather some information, he offered to show Nicholas and his friends around
town – for a price. Nicholas, deciding he would rather talk to Oaklin in private, made
arrangements to meet with Oaklin in a nearby alley, and a short while later the two of them
were doing just that.
At this point, Nicholas began asking questions about the Cult of Vecna. As usual,
Oaklin told him that he knew nothing about the cult, but assured Nicholas that he could
find someone who could at least provide him some rumors about it – again for a price.
He talked Nicholas into giving him a hundred gold piece gem, and said he would return
in a couple of hours. At that point, if he had any good information, he would give it to
Nicholas for another one hundred gold pieces. Oaklin then left and Nicholas returned to
the tavern to tell the others what had just happened. Nero was certain that Nicholas had
just lost a hundred gold pieces and that Oaklin would not return. But a couple of hours
later, Oaklin was back. Again they met in a nearby alley and Oaklin told Nicholas that
he had heard a rumor about where they might find the cult. As agreed upon, Nicholas
gave him another one hundred gold piece gem, and Oaklin told him about some unusual
occurrences that were happening about 13 miles to the southwest of the city, saying that
they might indicate the presence of a cult. He also drew a rough map for Nicholas, telling
him how to get to the place as well as to a nearby country inn that might also provide them
with some clues. With this information, the four companions then decided to call it a night
and returned to Kron Hall, where they met up again with Alavarius and Turim, who told
them they were unable to learn anything new.

That night, several members of the band stayed up late, in anticipation of a plan they
had proposed, of going out to the place described by Oaklin late at night the next night.
As a result, these same band members slept in late the following morning. But around
10 o’clock the next morning, on Waterday the 19th, seven members of city guards known
as Gentlemen of the Watch, showed up at Kron Hall with an order for the Righteous
Vanguard to come with them to the palace of the viscount for questioning. After getting
dressed, the band then went with the guards to the palace, where they met the Right
Honorable Sir Alfentrask, knight bannerette of the Viscount of Verbobanc’s Mounted
Borderers. He then brought the band before the Provost of the City, His Prominence
Rollo Augustin. There the magistrate asked the band about their business in town and
about why they were asking around about the Cult of Vecna. Apparently, Turim had been
even less discrete than the others about asking around for information on the Cult of
Vecna. Fortunately, Nero, once again posing as Sir Omrey, made sure to address everyone
by their proper titles and spoke for the group, telling the magistrate that certain members
of his extended family had become involved with the cult and that he and his companions
had come to Verbobanc to put a stop to it. He also told him some of the information
they had gathered which led them to Verbobanc and that they intended to investigate
the unusual activity southwest of the city. Rollo seemed pleased with Nero’s answers, but
insisted that they keep him informed of everything they learned, using Sir Alfentrask as
their contact. With this, the band was allowed to go on their way.
They soon after returned to Kron Hall, where some members of the band went back
to bed. At about 1 o’clock though, as previously arranged, the gnome merchant, Andisarr
Silver-Bags returned to Kron Hall and spoke with Nero. Unfortunately, he was not able to
provide Nero with any more new information. Then, just before 2 o’clock, Nero, Dravos
and Kieranen went to the Church of St. Cuthbert for their appointed audience with Bishop
Haufren. Bishop Haufren was a much more agreeable man to talk with than the Provost,
but he asked many of the same questions once the band told him they were seeking the
Cult of Vecna. But one piece of advice that the Bishop gave them was to stay at the Scythe
and Sheaf Inn, which he said was well suited to adventuring types and which he hinted
might be a good source of information.
With this information, the band decided to follow the Bishop’s advice, and relocated
to the Scythe and Sheaf Inn. On the way there however, they noticed that once again, it
appeared they were being followed by someone, though this person they did not recognize.
When they then tried to lead this person into an alley where they could easily ambush him,
he seemed to disappear. At the Scythe and Sheaf they got a couple of rooms, and then they
went back out into the city to take care of other chores. Dravos, for example, bought four
horses to be used by some of their group on their late night trip into the countryside, while
others dealt with other details or hung around the inn.

Later that evening, shortly after the sun went down, the band returned to the Hanged
Man, where Nero met up with Raypen again. But Raypen told him he could not pick up
any information about the Cult of Vecna. So the band, at this point, began their trip into
the country.
After about two and a half hours, the band arrived at the inn mentioned by Oaklin,
which was called the Rock Powder Inn. It was about 11:30 at this point and a light rain
had begun to fall. So the band rented a couple of rooms and sat in the taproom to see if
they could hear any rumors. The inn was run by a half-elf named Grammo Saxinus and
his wife and daughter. They spoke to the innkeeper a bit and he confirmed the rumor
that animals had been killed recently at a nearby limestone quarry, but did not believe the
rumor that monsters were responsible. In the taproom were a couple of local farmers, and
while they were sitting there, another young farmer came in from the rain very excited and
breathless. His conversation with the other farmers was easily overheard by the band, as he
spoke about seeing a large puddle of blood on a nearby trail and saw lights coming from
the quarry. Realizing that now would be the best time for them to investigate the quarry,
despite the light rain and the darkness, the band decided to head out immediately.
A short while later, they came across the puddle of blood mentioned by the farmer and
headed off the trail and into the woods. Nicholas scouted out ahead, and after clearing a
ridge and coming to the edge of the woods, he spotted a cemetery and beyond that the
lights coming from the quarry. Using a message spell to keep in touch with Nero, Nicholas
stealthily skirted around the cemetery, which he eventually realized was occupied by a few
dozen animated skeletons, and crept closer to the quarry. The rest of the band, meanwhile,
flew or used a dimension door spell to make their way to a wooded area near the opposite
side of the quarry. When they got close enough to see into the quarry, they saw what
appeared to be a dozen people dressed in robes, holding torches and chanting. They stood
around a blood-stained altar on which lay the carcass of a freshly killed deer and beyond
which stood another figure dressed in green and red robes. Due to the darkness, the rain
and the wind that whipped about at their robes, it was not readily apparent that each of
the figures was standing unnaturally still. So the band gathered in the wooded area by the
quarry and devised a plan of attack.
Most of the group would be using a dimension door spell to appear nearby the apparent
cultists while Alavarius would fly in and Dravos would have to use stealth and his
dimensional hopping ability to get there. Doing their best to time out their plans, the band
began the attack. After appearing behind some boulders at the bottom of the quarry, Nero
was the first to strike. He cast a black tentacles spell and quickly followed it up with a
fireball. To his, and everyone else’s surprise, these attacks completely destroyed what had
appeared to be the cultists, but which now obviously had only been scarecrows dressed in
robes. Suddenly the band realized they had been led into an ambush.

Before anyone else had a chance to do much, a fireball then came out of nowhere and
struck the group. Then Nicholas and Kieranen fell victim to a confusion spell. This was
particularly bad news because both of them had had their fighting abilities greatly enhanced
by magic and either one of them had the potential of killing anyone of their companions
in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, Nicholas was not initially adversely affected by the
confusion spell and he was, for the moment, able to act normally. Kieranen, however,
turned to attack Nicholas, but thanks in part to his cloak of displacement, which rarely
ever seemed to be of much benefit, Kieranen was unable to hit Nicholas. A vampiric mist
however, appeared at about that time and attacked Kieranen, draining some of his health
in the process. Then several cultists, both the Blood of Vecna and the Fingers of Vecna,
emerged from behind some nearby rocks and charged at the band, as Nero was hit by a
dispel magic spell which took down some of his magic.
The situation for the band at this point did not look good. But just as suddenly as
the cultists attacked, the tide of the battle then turned against them. Nero pivoted and
launched in rapid succession, two very powerful fireballs in the general vicinity of where he
believed the two attacking wizards, or Teeth of Vecna to be, and struck with both, killing
both of the wizards in one blow. Then Alavarius cast a spell and removed the confusion
spell on both Nicholas and Kieranen, insuring that they would not cause any harm to their
companions. The vampiric mist was then easily destroyed. And the Blood and Fingers
of Vecna, proved, once again, to be no match against the Righteous Vanguard in their
magically enhanced state. They too were quickly cut down soon afterwards.
Somewhere else however, there was another spellcaster, the one who had cast the dispel
magic spell. Apparently this spellcaster was a cleric of some sort, for it cast a flamestrike
spell on the band. Then, when the band made every effort to locate this hidden spellcaster,
they could not find it. Eventually it became evident that this spellcaster must have fled the
scene once it realized that there was no hope of winning the battle.
The Blood of Vecna, however, fought to the last man, until the only man left standing
was captured and taken alive.

View
Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 6

It was on Earthday, the 13th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, when the
Righteous Vanguard, aboard a barge called the Gilfar and on their way to the city of
Verbobanc, entered the Velverdyva River. For the past six days, since leaving the Free City
of Greyhawk, the band had been traveling on the barge, and by this point, they had gotten
to know some members of the Rhennee which comprised the crew of the barge.
Perhaps, the most memorable of these, and most well-liked by the band, was the old
man Turim Varostak, who had a wooden right leg that he referred to as Old Timber-Toe.
Despite his obvious age, his stooped posture and the crutch that he had to rely on, he
always seemed to have a sprightly and cheerful disposition, though his humor was rather
macabre. He loved to tell stories which often contradicted one another and at various
times he would spill out some curious bit of seemingly useless trivia, which made him an
interesting person to listen to. In addition to Turim, there was Ragnar, with his crooked
teeth and his homely appearance, who, unlike many of his Rhennee kin, seemed to go
out of his way to get people to like him. These, and several other members of the crew,
gradually got to the point where they would even invite some members of the band to join
them in a game of dice. And it eventually became evident that many of the Rhennee began
to look up to the band and were impressed with their fighting skills and their magical
abilities.
Still, there were also those among the crew that refused to show any kind of friendly
gesture and remained indifferent towards the band as they were clearly biased against
anyone who was not Rhennee. Nevertheless, there was not a man on board the barge who
was not glad to have the Righteous Vanguard at their side whenever the barge was attacked
by outside forces. Such was the case on the seventh day of the voyage, as the barge drew
near to the Gnarely Forest.
It was late in the afternoon, when a column of smoke was spotted up ahead of the barge
and coming from the vicinity of the river. Alavarius and Nero both flew up to get a better
look, and as the barge got even closer, Alavarius sent an arcane eye out to scout ahead.
They found what appeared to have been a barge that was largely submerged near one shore
of the river and what remained above the water was now on fire. Nearby, they spotted a
woman lying face down and floating on a piece of drift wood. Nero and Alavaruis flew
on out to check on the woman whom they discovered was still alive. So Nero brought
her back to the barge while Alavaruis dove under the water to look for other lost crew
members of the sunken barge. But, oddly enough, he found no other bodies. Nor did he
find any sign of where they might have gone to.

Nero used a heal spell from his ring of spell storing on the woman and she was soon
conscious and talking to the band and the crew of the barge. She said her name was
Shaladrynn and that she and her crew had been attacked by another renegade band of
Rhennee. When asked what might have happened to the other people on her barge,
she claimed that she had been unconscious and did not know what happened to them.
Alavarius then became suspicious of her. So he cast a detect thoughts spell and began
to question her more thoroughly. Eventually, it became clear that she was not telling the
truth, and when the woman realized that they were not going to believe her, she suddenly
transformed into her true self, that of a green hag, turned invisible, and tried to escape
by diving overboard. But the band fired upon her with spells and missile weapons as she
swam away from the barge. Then Nero hit her with a feeblemind spell and they were
able to capture her. They then brought her back to the barge, and, with the aid of Nero’s
headband to raise her intelligence a bit, they questioned her some more. They soon came
to the conclusion that she had no connection with the Cult of Vecna, so a debate was
started on what to do with her. Nero and Alavarius were in favor of setting her free, now
that she was effectively rendered harmless. But the rest of the band, as well as Captain
Andros Jagosnich and most of his crew disagreed and wanted her executed. So, with the
majority in favor of it, the green hag was killed and her body was dumped into the river.
Then the barge continued on its way.
On the following day, while the barge was making its way up the river as it snaked
through the Gnarely Forest, it was attacked again by almost a dozen scrags, or water trolls,
that suddenly emerged from the river on both sides of the barge. Several of the scrags were
quickly taken out by Nero as he blasted them with a powerful cone of force. This however
caused the barge to rock severely, knocking most members of the band and the barge’s
crew off their feet. But it also shook lose some of the scrags as they tried to clamber over
the sides of the barge. As the barge began to settle back down, and everyone tried to regain
their feet, the scrags came over the sides of the barge in force. At this point, it became a
chaotic melee as the crew was no match against the scrags and the band tried desperately
to save them and take down the scrags, using various means of fire and acid to keep them
from regenerating. Eventually, all the scrags were killed, but not before two more members
of the crew had died. So, after all injuries were healed, two more Rhennee bodies were
buried in the river, so to speak.
From this point on, the barge had no more hostile encounters, and two days later, late in
the evening of Moonday, the 17th day of Reaping, the barge finally arrived at Verbobanc.
But because it was now after sundown, the band, with the captain’s permission, decided
to stay one more night on the barge before venturing into the city. So it was not until the
morning of Godsday, the 18th, that the band headed from the wharves outside the city
walls, and into the city proper.

As he had been promised by the band, the old man Turim accompanied the band into
the city, though fortunately he did not slow them down too much. Realizing the emphasis
that the people of Verbobanc placed on titles, and how they looked down upon the
Rhennee, Nero had decided to change his disguise to that of a wealthy merchant, and when
asked at the city gates for his name, he told the guards there that he was Sir Osirin Omrey,
Lord of the Seven Rods, 2nd Heir to the Throne of Nehamus, Holder of the Sacred Chalice
of Wreeks. Though the guards did not understand what any of this meant, they seemed
impressed and let the rest of the band enter believing them to be sir Omrey’s bodyguards
and associates.
The first thing they wanted to do upon entering the city was to visit Gnomeburg where
all the gnomes lived. Since Kieranen was familiar with the city, he was easily able to guide
the band in the right direction, and soon they were entering Kron Hall, which was the only
inn in Gnomeburg capable of accommodating some of the larger folks, though Dravos
found it to be extremely cramped and had to constantly duck down to keep his head from
hitting the ceiling. Here, the band met Miral Cutterfro, the independent-minded, good
and gracious gnome hostess and owner of Kron Hall. After the band had ordered some
breakfast, Nero, again introducing himself as Sir Omrey, asked Miral if she knew anyone
from the village of Osnabrolt, saying that he had heard that they were well-known for
making fine tombs and that he wished to do some business there. Miral however was a bit
puzzled by this because, as she then explained to Sir Omrey, she had heard that Osnabrolt
had fallen on hard times for the past several decades. But, if it would be of any benefit to
the gnomes of Osnabrolt, she was more than willing to direct any business their way and
offered to introduce Sir Omrey to some gnomes who could be of more assistance to him.
The first of these was Vargannos Ache-Feet, who, for a fee, could guide him to Osnabrolt.
The second was a gnome merchant by the name of Andisarr Silver-Bags who might be
willing to do business with him. Nero agreed to this, and Miral sent two of her four sons
off to find the two gnomes. A short while later, they both returned, saying that Vargannos
would come to the inn at noon, and that Andisarr would come at one o’clock. So Nero
decided to wait around until then, and Kieranen would keep him company. Nicholas,
Dravos and Turim, meanwhile, decided to spend the day walking about in the city to see
what else they might discover.
So, for the majority of the day, Nicholas, Dravos and Turim visited numerous taverns,
of which the city has many, as well as other establishments that caught their eyes, such as
The Rusty Nail Tavern, The Red Don Inn, The Player’s Inn, The Molten Spigot Tavern,
the Shrine to Farlanghn, Nib’s Importers, Veera’s Voluptuous Maiden’s Tavern, and
the Bristling Hedgehog Tavern, just to name a few. In all of these places, they casually
asked about any unusual or strange occurrences that have happened recently, but did not
mention the Cult of Vecna. And in every place, with the one exception of divination spells
that did not work, they picked up no helpful rumors.

However, as they were walking around the city, they made it a point to watch their
backs for anyone who might be trailing them. Early in the afternoon, they noticed that
they had seen, on a couple of instances, one member of the crew of the Gilfar nearby and
thought that he might be following them – though it could have been just by coincidence.
This particular crew member was named Beryn and they remembered that he had kept
to himself during most of the voyage because he had only recently been hired on by
the captain and was not well known by the rest of the crew. He was a tall, muscular and
handsome Rhennee who clearly spent much of his time outdoors as evidenced by his
tanned skin. Having noticed his presence the second time, Nicholas, Dravos and Turim
decided to see if they could lose him in the streets of the city and they appeared to have
succeeded, for they never saw him again for the rest of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Nero and Kieranen, met with Vargannos Ache-Feet at noon. He told them
that for a fee of 100 gold pieces he would guide them to Osnabrolt. When asked why it
would be so expensive the gnome told them it is rough and dangerous territory and that
he was very capable of defending himself should trouble arise. Vargannos also seemed to
know some interesting facts and legends about the local gnome communities, including
Osnabrolt, though he was not pressed on this. Nero, still posing as Sir Omrey, did however
give Vargonnos a 20 gold piece deposit, telling him they would need his services in about
2 or 3 days. Vargannos agreed to this asking only that they give him about a day’s notice
once they had decided when they wanted to leave.
A short while later, at about one o’clock, Nero and Kieranen met with Andisarr Silver-
Bags. Again, Nero, posing as Sir Omrey, spoke with him about doing some possible
business in Osnabrolt as well as other gnome communities, though he did not get into
any specifics. Then he showed Andisarr the symbol of the Cult of Vecna and asked him if
he recognized it. Andisarr said he did not recognize it. So Nero told him what it was and
explained that he was trying to find the cult. He told him that it was a threat to the gnomes
as well as to all good folks. Then he gave the symbol, plus 100 gold pieces, to Andisarr and
asked him to ask around for any information on the cult. Andisarr then told him he would
let Nero know if he found out anything, and left.
Nero and Kieranen then got directions to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, where they hoped
to speak with His Holiness, the Bishop Haufren of St. Cuthbert. But upon arriving at the
temple, he was told that the bishop was too busy to see him, and no amount of persuasion
or bluffing could convince the lesser priests to let him see the bishop. The best that he
could do was to schedule an appointment to see the bishop at 2 o’clock on the following
day. They then returned to Kron Hall.

View
Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 5

It was on the evening of Freeday, the 7th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581,
when the Righteous Vanguard was ambushed for the second time by the Cult of Vecna.
Soon afterwards, the band learned, from interrogating Almarth the Halt, a member of the
cult whom they had captured in the ambush, that Yagos Slevak was also a member of the
cult. Because of this, Nero, who was posing as a Rhennee named Aejiri, had to make other
arrangements with Avrel Riskar about hiring a barge to take them to Verbobanc.
Once this was done, Kieranen and Nicholas escorted Almarth to the Grand Citadel while
Nero, Dravos and Alavarius went in search of Yagos Slevak, knowing full well that he
would probably not survive the night. Not wishing to interfere with the Rhennee justice
that would likely bring Yagos’ life to an end, they did however want to recover his body
afterwards, if at all possible, so that Alavarius could perhaps learn some things from it on
the following day with a speak with dead spell.
To this purpose, Dravos headed to the River Rat Inn, where Yagos was known to
frequent, while Nero and Alavarius headed for the wharves. As expected, Dravos was the
first to find Yagos while he was having drinks at the River Rat. So he slipped back out
of the inn and watched from a nearby rooftop. Quite some time was then spent, as they
waited for something to happen. In fact, Kieranen and Nicholas had already returned to
Kieranen’s house from the Citadel long before anything else took place. But finally, at
around 11 o’clock, two and a half hours later, Dravos watched as Yagos left the River Rat
and headed for the Cargo Gate.
Dravos followed along, trying to remain unobserved, and as Yagos passed through
the Cargo Gate he was noticed by Nero and Alavarius who were not far away. But as
Yagos made his way to the wharves, four other Rhennee stepped out of the shadows and
approached him in a seemingly friendly manner. They called out his name and invited
him to join them in a drink. However, to a perceptive observer, it would have been fairly
obvious that the invitation to Yagos made him quite nervous, for the four men that
approached him were not known to be allies of his. Still, Yagos went with the four men
to one of the barges docked at the wharves and entered the cabin. Meanwhile, Dravos
continued to observe from a distance, while Nero, using a fly spell and an invisibility spell,
remained close by, and Alavarius, using his underwater abilities, observed the entire affair
from under the water. For about an hour then, the four Rhennee plied more and more
alcohol into Yagos, making him a great deal more intoxicated than he already was. Then,
at about midnight, they took him to the side of the barge, dropped him into the water, and
held him under until he drowned.

Once they were certain that Yagos was dead, they removed any valuables from his body,
tied some weights to it, and dropped it back into the water where they assumed his body
would stay. But, unknown to the four Rhennee, Alavarius had observed it all. And after
the body of Yagos had floated down to the bottom of the river, Alavarius swam down,
cut lose the weights, and pulled the body to the far shore of the river. There he dragged it
into some nearby bushes. Then he flew up high above the river and signaled to Nero and
Dravos that he had recovered the body. A short while later, the three of them took the
body into one of the rooms of their underground stronghold. At this point, it was very late
at night, so they each found places in the stronghold where they could rest and went to
sleep.
At about 6 in the morning of Starday the 8th, Nero awoke and went to the wharves to
meet with Andros Jagosnich, the captain of the barge called the Gilfar, where he explained
to him that he and his companions had been up late the night before and would not be
ready to set out until around 11 o’clock. Then he returned to the stronghold and got some
more rest. At about 9, Nero, Dravos and Alavarius got up and began preparing for the day.
Nicholas, who had also slept in his underground forest in the stronghold, had by this time,
already gotten up and went to meet with Kieranen at his house in the city. There they had
to wait for the others to arrive.
The others, meanwhile, once Alavarius had prepared his spells for the day, cast a speak
with dead spell on the body of Yagos. Unfortunately, the spirit of Yagos was not very
cooperative and did not provide a lot of information. But it told them that the Cult of
Vecna in Verbobanc was not inside a building and that he had intended to take them to a
tavern called the Hanged Man – but here Alavarius sensed that the spirit of Yagos was not
being truthful. So, with this plan not working out as well as they had hoped, they took the
body to the forest above the stronghold and buried it there. Then they went into the city
where they joined up with Kieranen and Nicholas.
A short while later, the band was boarding the Gilfar and setting off up the Selintan
River, on their way to Verbobanc. In order to increase their rate of travel, Nero summoned
a few water and air elementals to help push the barge along. But these did not last for
very long and did not make a big difference by the end of the day. So, on the following
day, and every day thereafter while they were on the barge, Alavarius prayed for and cast a
control weather spell. This spell would last the entire day and ended up tripling their rate of
movement by ensuring that the wind would always be at their backs.
By midway through the second day, on Sunday the 9th, they had already reached the
Nyr Dyv and were well on their way across it by the end of the day. However, by late
afternoon, they were already into the deep waters of the Nyr Dyv and it was at this point
that Alavaruis first experienced the consequences of drawing the sea card from the Deck
of Destinies.

It was then that the barge was attacked by a giant squid that pulled several members of
the barge’s crew overboard. Most of those that were not crushed by the squid’s strangling
tentacles were then drowned as they were pulled under. Even the Righteous Vanguard had
some difficulty in fighting the monster as it stayed under water and the band was hesitant
to enter the water. The one member of the band who did enter the water to fight it, that
being Alavarius, soon found himself the main target of the squid’s attacks. He was quickly
grappled by the squid and then drawn towards it as he was being strangled. Then, just
seconds before the squid was about to bite him with its terrible beak, which likely would
have been the end of Alavarius, he was rescued by Nero who dove into the water and cast
a dimension door spell on Alavarius and himself, sending the two of them a couple of
hundred feet into the air. Soon afterwards though, they managed to kill the squid, and even
rescued one of the crewmen which had somehow survived.
All in all, four of the barge’s sailors and one of the barge’s guards died in the attack.
Alavarius recovered the bodies and they had a quick burial at sea. Then, for days
afterwards, squid was one of the main sources of food for those on the barge.
As the voyage across the Nyr Dyv continued, the Righteous Vanguard began to get to
know some members of the crew, who, at first did not speak to them much and were not
particularly friendly to them. Nero, who remained disguised as a Rhennee named Aejiri,
was able to get past some of the questions put his way, such as why he did not speak the
Rhennee tongue, by claiming he was not raised among the Rhennee. Eventually, some
members of the crew even became friendly with the band, such as Ragnar, who offered
Nero assistance if he should have any troubles. Then there was Turim Varostak, a feisty
old man with a wooden leg that he called “Old Timber-Toe”. As it turned out, Turim had
apparently had a run-in many years before with the Cult of Vecna, which he said had cost
him his leg, and when he learned that the band was in search of the cult, asked if he could
join them in their search so that he could be of some assistance. The band agreed to this,
though there appeared to be some concern that he might get in their way or possibly slow
them down.
During the night, a few days later, the barge was attacked again, this time by a dozen
water-bloated zombie sailors that climbed up on to the barge. But they were nowhere near
as difficult to defeat as the giant squid, and after a brief struggle, all the zombies were killed
with no casualties to the barge’s crew.
Then by the end of the 6th day, on Earthday, the 13th day of Reaping, the Gilfar had
sailed across the southwestern corner of the Nyr Dyv, and was entering the Velverdyva
River.

View
Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 4

By the end of Earthday, the 6th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, the
Righteous Vanguard had learned a great deal about what the Circle of Eight was
investigating when they were apparently killed, including the fact that they believed that
the Eye and the Hand of Vecna had something to do with all the divination spells that had
been going awry, as well as the ominous signs of warning about the future of Greyhawk. In
fact, it was almost certainly the Eye and the Hand of Vecna, wielded by a warlord named
Halmadar the Cruel, which was largely responsible for the deaths of the Circle of Eight. By
this point, the Righteous Vanguard had also learned much about the Cult of Vecna, which
was also somehow connected to recent events, and which appeared to be working against
them.
With all the information they had gathered, from various libraries and temples, to certain
people in the River Quarter and at the wharves, the band decided to spend the rest of the
evening devising plans and creating strategies for combating the growing evil that they
might eventually confront. But one thing appeared certain at this point – to learn much
more, they would need to travel to either Verbobanc or the Kron Hills and continue their
investigations there. And so, before leaving Greyhawk, a list of supplies was created that
they might need to carry-out the plans they had devised, including a few magic items that
they would look for.
On the following day then, Freeday the 7th, the band set out to gather the supplies they
had put on their list. Their first stop was at Sturtevant’s mansion. Sturtevant had been
a resident of Greyhawk for longer than anyone really knew and a good friend of the
Righteous Vanguard for a couple of years, having been of great aid to the band during
the expulsion of the Spurned Cult of Iuz. The more long-standing members of the band
also knew that Sturtevant had a sizable collection of magic items. So they went to him
first to see if he might have any of the magic items they sought after. They found that,
while Sturtevant did have several nice magic items he was willing to sell, he did not have
what they were looking for. However, Sturtevant did decide it was time to let the newer
members of the Righteous Vanguard, Alavarius and Dravos, in on their little secret
– which was the fact that Sturtevant was actually a Greyhawk dragon. The band also
discussed with him their current line of investigation. But Sturtevant was unable to add any
information on the subject to what they already knew.
With this done, Nero and Maximo went to the Guild of Wizardry to see what magic
items they might have for sale, while the rest of the band went on to buy some of the more
mundane items on their list.

At the Guild, Nero was again disappointed that they did not have any of the items he
was looking for. However, they did have a couple of items he was interested in. One of
these items was a Well of Many Worlds, for which Nero had to sell a few magic items in
order to afford. The other item was a Tome of Leadership and Influence, which Nero
talked Kondradis Bubka into holding for him.
Once Nero was finished at the Wizard’s Guild, he met up with his companions again
and they gathered the rest of the items on their list, which included several tower shields
that they hoped would be an effective defense against a silence spell. These, along with a
number of other items, they loaded into Nero’s portable hole.
With this done, Nero, now disguised as a Rhennee and calling himself Aejiri, went to the
wharves to speak with the Rhennee noble, Avrel Riskar. On the previous day, Nero had
received a message at the Whistling Fish Inn for him, as Aejiri, to go and see the Rhennee
noble. So, following the instructions on the note, Nero went to the wharves, found the
right barge, which was guarded by several more Rhennee, and was soon ushered into the
cabin on the barge, where he introduced himself to Avrel. The Rhennee noble questioned
Nero on how he knew about their problems with the cult and how he was able to leave
a message for him in his cabin, to which Nero admitted that not only was he an arcane
spellcaster but also that he was not actually a Rhennee. But he assured Avrel that he was
an enemy of the Cult of the Seeing Hand, as the Rhennee called it, and that he intended to
seek them out in Verbobanc and put an end to the cult. Avrel appeared to be convinced
of Nero’s intentions and asked how Nero planned to travel to Verbobanc. Nero then told
him that he had booked passage on a barge owned by Yagos Slevak. At the mention of the
name of Yagos Slevak, Avrel showed a definite look of concern as he glanced at the other
Rhennee there in the cabin. When Nero asked about this, he was told that Yagos had a
poor reputation and was not well-liked among most of the Rhennee. But Nero told Avrel
that he was not going to concern himself with any rivalries between various clans of the
Rhennee. So, with that, Avrel wished him good luck, and Nero went on his way.
Soon afterwards, Nero met back up with his companions at the Cargo Gate and they
headed into the River Quarter on their way to Kieranen’s home. Partly because they knew
they would be setting out on a barge in the morning, they all decided to stay at Kieranen’s
house instead of Nero’s Tower as it was much closer to the wharves.
But along the way, at about half an hour before sundown, they were suddenly ambushed.
Fortunately, several members of the band reacted very quickly and were able to act before
they were actually attacked. Most of the attackers were either the Blood of Vecna or the
Fingers of Vecna, which are fighters and rogues in the cult of Vecna. But one of the
attackers was recognized as a regular patron at the River Rat, a Rhennee by the name of
Almarth the Halt. Another one of the attackers was a Memory, or lesser priest, of Vecna,
whom the band had heard of, named Ofdar.

Nero was among the first to act in the battle and with a fly spell that was already active,
he flew up and cast a black tentacles spell which caught in its clutches several of the
attackers. Following this, most of the band attacked with weapons and magic missile spells
while the cultists closed in on them. Almarth the Halt used a chime of interruption to try
and disrupt the band’s spellcasting. But it had virtually no effect on the band. The priest
meanwhile, cast a flamestrike spell which hit Nero, Maximo and Nicholas’ wolf Whistler.
But the attackers were unable to get much more than this accomplished as they were hit
with another black tentacles spell and Almarth was grappled and pinned to the ground by
Dravos and his whip dagger. The priest was then disintegrated by Nero and the battle came
to an end soon afterwards.
With Almarth now captured and all the other attackers dead, Alavarius tended to injuries
while the bodies were searched. A few magic items were found, several of the cult’s
symbols and, in the pile of dust which was all that remained of the priest, a curious note
with what appeared to be command words on it. The City Watch began showing up after
a few minutes, and the band explained to them what had happened. They convinced the
City Watch to let them question Almarth before turning him over. Then they took him to
Kieranen’s house where they began an interrogation.
While Alavarius had a detect thoughts spell going, Nero did the questioning. Fortunately,
the detect thoughts spell was one of the few divination spells that still seemed to be
working, so they were able to learn some good information. One of the most important
things they learned was that Yagos Slevak was also a member of the cult. Realizing this,
the band wanted to kill Yagos. But it then occurred to them that killing Yagos might cause
problems with other Rhennee. So Nero decided to return to the wharves and speak again
to Avrel Riskar.
A short while later, Nero was telling Avrel that Yagos was a member of the cult. Avrel
told him that he had tried to warn Nero, and said that he would take care of Yagos, which
almost certainly meant that Yagos would be dead by sunrise. Nero then told Avrel that he
would no longer have anyone to take him and his companions to Verbobanc and asked if
he could help him. Avrel agreed to do so and told him to be at the wharves in the morning
with his companions, and to look for the barge called the Gilfar. He would have the
captain of the barge, Andros Yagosnich and his crew, take them to Verbobanc.
With these new arrangements made, Nero returned to Kieranen’s house and told his
companions what he had discussed with Avrel.

View
Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 3

It was on Godsday, the 4th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, when the
Righteous Vanguard was attacked by the Cult of Vecna at the Roc and Oliphant tavern.
And so, on the following morning, Waterday the 5th, the band resumed the gathering of
information in order to better understand what they were dealing with. Alavarius cast a
spell on everyone which would, for that day, allow them to read all the languages that
Alavarius knew. Then, while Alavarius stayed behind at Nero’s Tower to do some reading,
the others headed into the city.
Nero and Maximo first went to the Guild of Wizardry, where Nero spoke to Kieren
Jalucian, the Master of the Guild. Nero decided it was time that he revealed his true
identity to the Guild Master in order to better convey the other news that he had to
give to him, which was the death of Jallarzi Sallavarian, whom Kieren had recently been
romantically involved with. Naturally, Kieren was saddened by the news, but he told Nero
all that he knew about the Circle of Eight’s most recent mission, which wasn’t much.
Following this, and for most of the day, Nero and Maximo spent their time in the library at
the Wizard’s Guild reading books.
Nicholas, Dravos, and Kieranen, meanwhile, returned to Grey College and spoke to the
students there whom they had paid to read a number of books and do reports on. Most
of the students said that they would need more time to finish reading the books. But they
could at least give them a general idea of what the books were about. Later, they ventured
into the River Quarter and spent much of the day just carousing about, looking for clues
and listening for rumors. They also spoke to some of the guards at a Guildstation of the
Nightwatchmen and asked them about the Cult of Vecna and any areas of the city that
might provide clues to the whereabouts of the cult.
Towards the end of the day, all except Alavarius, who was still at Nero’s Tower, decided
to pay a visit to the River Rat Inn in the River Quarter. While his companions were
occupying a table in the tavern, Nero in his usual disguise as Diur Daton, entered and
approached the bar asking to speak with the tavern’s owner, Zalkan Sooth. He then tried
to bribe Zalkan into giving him information about the Cult of Vecna. Zalkan claimed to
know nothing about the cult, but Nero suspected otherwise. So Nero left the tavern and
cast an invisibility spell on himself. He then went back inside and crept back behind the bar
into the hallway leading to Zalkan’s office. By this time, Zalkan was back in his office going
over some inventory records but had left his door unlocked. So Nero slowly opened the
door and quietly stepped inside. Zalkan however, noticed the door being opened and called
out for whoever it was to show himself.

Nero remained quiet though, hoping to fool the innkeeper. Zalkan got up then, closed
the door and looked around the room suspiciously. Not seeing or hearing anything, he
returned to his desk and resumed looking at his records. After a little bit, Nero, wanting
a better look at the papers on Zalkan’s desk, crept closer and inadvertently stepped on a
floorboard that creaked. At the sound of this, Zalkan, now obviously convinced that he
was not alone, demanded that whoever was in the room with him to show himself. When
Nero did not, Zalkan got up in a hurry, opened the door and marched out into the tavern
where he told a few of the Rhennee regulars there to accompany him.
Nero meanwhile, quickly closed the door and wedged it shut. Then he began grabbing
books and notes in the innkeeper’s office, hoping he could find something within them
that he could use to bribe the innkeeper into telling him more information. He then cast
a dimension door spell and left the inn. When Zalkan finally managed to get back into his
office, he saw that his books and notes were gone. Now, obviously quite upset, he stormed
back into the tavern and up to the table where Nero’s companions were sitting. Zalkan,
who was not to be taken as a fool and had certain information gathering connections of
his own, clearly suspected that this, so-called, Diur Daton had something to do with what
had just occurred. So he asked the band, in a very demanding tone, where their companion
was. The band answered truthfully that they did not know where he was, though they
almost certainly were aware that he had been the cause of some mischief. Since Zalkan
could not be sure if his suspicions were correct, he let the band be.
Sometime later, Kieranen, Nicholas, and Dravos left the River Rat and, soon after, met
up with Nero, now carrying a stack of books and papers. As they made their way back
to Nero’s Tower, he explained to them what he had done. Then, back at Nero’s Tower,
Alavarius was updated on the day’s events.
A short while later, with the sun having set some time before, the band wanted to go
back into the city again and do some more nosing around in the River Quarter, now that
the city’s nightlife was in full swing. As the rest of the band made their way to the Cargo
Gate and into the River Quarter, Alavarius flew invisibly over the wharves where the
Rhennee barges were gathered and then over the length of the River Quarter. As he did
so, he had a locate object spell going in the hopes of detecting at least a few of the symbols
they had previously found on the Blood of Vecna. But to his surprise, he detected none
at all. When he then met back up with the rest of the band he found that his locate object
spell did not even detect the symbols they had, which led Alavarius to the conclusion that
the recent difficulty with divination spells was getting worse.
With the group now in the River Quarter again, they began moving through some of the
areas known to be typically busy with nightlife and rampant with crime. Here, in the seamy
and rough part of town they passed by numerous drunks and gamblers who mingled freely
with prostitutes, bully-boys, thieves and fencers. Constables broke up suspicious crowds
while people were getting mugged in the next alley.

At one point, they witnessed a mugging in a dark alley and chased after the thief, only to
lose him in a derelict building where a group of bums sat around a fireplace. Some of the
band members questioned the bums, but could not find the thief among them, nor could
they get sufficient information from them to continue chasing after the thief. Eventually
giving up in this area, the band moved into another neighborhood near the River Rat.
At this point, Alavarius flew up to the nearby city wall and observed from there, while
Nicholas and Kieranen stood out at the edge of the brightly lit main road that passed in
front of the River Rat. Dravos meanwhile, dimensionally hopped to the roof of some
buildings behind the River Rat, sticking to the shadows, while Nero flew overhead invisibly
nearby. Here they hoped to eavesdrop on passers-by, and eventually, by doing so, they
finally picked up on some information that was of some use to them.
Three Rhennee had gathered in a dark alley and they were overheard to be saying
something about some recent business among the Rhennee that they did not care for. They
agreed that this business must be brought to the attention of someone named Avrel and
that he would decide what needed to be done. When the three Rhennee split up, two of
them headed towards the Cargo Gate as the other one headed in the opposite direction.
Nero followed the two going towards the Cargo Gate and used a message spell to tell
Kieranen and Nicholas to follow along. Alavarius joined up with Kieranen and Nicholas
at that point, but along the way, the three of them lost track of the two Rhennee. Nero
however was able to follow them all the way to the wharves.
Dravos, meanwhile, followed the lone Rhennee that had gone away from the Cargo
Gate and dimensionally hopped to a point just ahead of him so he could stop the Rhennee
and ask him a few questions. Dravos then asked him about the Cult of Vecna and the
Rhennee shied away from him, muttering charms to ward off evil. Clearly not wanting
to be seen talking about it, the Rhennee eventually told him that the Cult of the Seeing
Hand, as he called it, was an evil group that was not active around there, but that it was
sometimes found around Velverdyva Bay on the Nyr Dyv. He had also heard of the Eye
and the Hand (the monsters) from tales they used to scare children, though he believed
the monsters truly existed. He suggested that if Dravos wanted to learn more about the
cult, he should go to Dyvers or Verbobanc. He also mentioned something about some old
wizards nosing around the waterfront in recent weeks, which may have been a reference
to the Circle of Eight. Finally, he told Dravos that there was a Rhennee by the name of
Yagos Slevak who was often found at the River Rat, who might know more about the cult.
Dravos thanked the Rhennee for the information with a nice monetary sum and let him go
on his way.
Meanwhile, at the wharves, Nero followed the other two Rhennee to a heavily guarded
barge. But magically flying and invisible, Nero had no difficulty landing on the barge near
the barge’s cabin where he could listen in on the conversation that was going on inside the
cabin.

Inside the cabin, the two Rhennee, and several others, were speaking with an elderly
Rhennee, perhaps 60 or 70 years old. This, as Nero would eventually learn, was Avrel
Riskar, a very prominent and respected Rhennee noble with a large following and more
than half a dozen barges under his command. Avrel listened for some time as the other
Rhennee voiced their opinions about the Cult of the Seeing Hand and its recent attempts
to exert its power over certain, less reputable members of the Rhennee clans. When the
other Rhennee were finished speaking, Avrel pronounced the Cult of the Seeing Hand to
be an evil influence that threatened to tarnish the honor of the Rhennee people, and that
its spread among the Rhennee must therefore be stopped. In conclusion, he told his people
that he would think the matter over and eventually come to a decision on what steps
should be taken to end the spread of the cult. Most of the Rhennee then left the cabin and
made their way back to the wharves or to other barges.
After hearing and seeing all of this, Nero wrote a quick note on a piece of paper, and
when he saw an opportunity, entered the barge’s cabin using a dimension door spell
and while invisible, left the note in a place where he knew Avrel would find it. The note
said simply, that he knew of his clan’s troubles with the Cult of the Seeing Hand, that he
wanted to help, and that if Avrel was interested, he should leave a message for Aejiri at the
Whistling Fish. Then Nero went back and met up with his companions.
Once everyone was updated on what Dravos and Nero had recently learned, some of
them were anxious for a return visit to the River Rat to see if they could find Yagos Slevak.
Nero, of course, would have to don a different disguise to avoid any trouble with Zalkan
Sooth. So Nero, now dressed as a member of the Rhennee, entered the tavern and soon
spotted Yagos whom he had actually seen there before on a few previous visits. Yagos, a
slightly-built, quivering, oily little sycophant of a human being, who was not particularly
well-liked by anyone, was sitting alone as he often did. So Nero approached him, sat down
and introduced himself, giving an appropriate alias name and clan. Then he asked Yagos
about the Cult of the Seeing Hand. Checking around to make sure the conversation was
not being overheard by any others, Yagos told Nero that he had stumbled across a group
of cultists only a few months before in Verbobanc. In fact, he claimed to know where the
cultist’s hideout was but was very reluctant to return to Verbobanc for fear of the cult.
Still, for the right price, he could be persuaded to take someone there on his barge and
show them where the cult was. So Nero gave him a decent deposit and booked Yagos to
take himself, four or five companions and a large wolf to Verbobanc, and to set out two
mornings from then.
As Nero was taking care of this business, Alavarius, who was sitting at the bar, was being
harassed by several Rhennee who made fun of him for his large bird-like wings. This, along
with occasional odd stares and comments was something that Alavarius had had to put up
with for the previous nine months, ever since he acquired his wings, though by now, he
was growing accustomed to it and didn’t let it bother him.

Once Nero was done talking with Yagos, the band left the River Rat. But before heading
home, Nero paid a visit to the Whistling Fish Inn, where he spoke to Gruenab, the pint-
sized hill giant (who, at nine feet, still towered over Nero). Gruenab was an old friend of
the Righteous Vanguard whom they had met when they first arrived in Greyhawk. But
over the years, with all that had happened during that time, they had grown distant and
even if Nero were not in disguise he might not have recognized him. Nero told Gruenab
that his name was Aejiri, which Gruenab remembered as being the name of the monk
who was once a member of the Righteous Vanguard, and asked if Gruenab could accept
messages there for him for a fair price. Gruenab agreed to do so, and the band, with their
business in the River Quarter now finished, returned to Nero’s Tower.
The next day, on Earthday, the 6th day of Reaping, the Righteous Vanguard continued
their information gathering. Nero went through the books and papers that he had taken
from the River Rat and found nothing with which to blackmail Zalkan Sooth. So he paid
a delivery boy to take them back to Zalkan Sooth. Then, he and Maximo returned to the
Wizard’s Guild to do some more reading. Alavarius likewise did some more reading. And
Nicholas and Dravos returned to Grey College where they were able to get their reports
from the students. Later on, Kieranen and Dravos both paid a visit to the Temple of St.
Cuthbert and the Temple of Fharlanghn, where they bought some healing potions and
asked about the Cult of Vecna.
At the end of the day, Nero returned to the Whistling Fish and found that a message had
been left for Aejiri. It simply said for him to find the barge called the Gilfar at the wharves
and for him to ask to speak to Avrel. Everyone then gathered at Nero’s Tower and they
discussed what they had learned so far, including what was found in each of the books they
had looked into. This is what they found:
In The Beasts of Humanity, Nero read about the abilities of the monsters known as the
Eye and the Hand. In the The Dragon-Scale Tome, he also read about 20 known artifacts,
including the Eye and the Hand of Vecna and that it was probably buried with Halmadar
the Cruel about a century before. And in The Chronicle of Secret Times, Nero read about the
cruelty of the Whispered One, Lord Vecna, and how, perhaps a thousand years before, or
so, he was brought down by his lieutenant Kas, who wielded a powerful sword that Vecna
had made for him. It also listed some of the known powers of the Eye and the Hand of
Vecna and even speculated on how they might be destroyed.
From the books at Grey College, Nicholas and Dravos learned, from Gnomicspheris, about
a tomb the gnomes built in the Kron Hills and were sworn to keep a secret. From The True
Relation of the Nyr Dyv and the Surrounding Lands, they learned about the approximate location
of the Tomb of Halmadar and copied a map of the Kron Hills. From A History, they
learned about the expulsion of the Cult of Vecna from Greyhawk in the city’s early years.
And from Imaginary Landscapes, they heard a confusing and bizarre tale of prophecy about
the death of Magic which is caused by the Incomplete Man.

Alavarius, meanwhile, learned from The Book of Stone, about the internment of Halmadar
the Cruel in the Kron Hills. And in The Poems of Thalac Jiwo, he read a prophetic poem that
tells of a time when sight pales, the key will turn in the locked gates of Time, and the halls
of heaven will hail a new king. In general, Thalac’s description of things to come did not
sound good.

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Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 2

It was on Moonday, the 3rd day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581, when Cymria
of Celedon told the Righteous Vanguard about her vision of the deaths of the Circle of
Eight. And it was the following morning, Godsday the 4th, when the band went with
Cymria to the Temple of Boccob in the City of Greyhawk. There, it was their intention to
speak with the High Patriarch, Ravel Dasinder, to see if he could locate Mordenkainen and
to tell him about Cymria’s vision. However, due to it being Godsday, they were delayed
in their efforts by the morning’s sermons, which had just begun as the band arrived. The
band, therefore, was forced to wait and sit for an hour while listening to priests go on and
on about dark and trying times ahead.
Curiously enough, but perhaps not entirely by coincidence, this morning’s sermons
seemed very fitting and possibly even prophetic, considering the prevailing mood of those
in attendance and the news that the band came to deliver. And while it was not unheard of
for lesser members of the temple’s clergy to perform the morning’s sermons, the absence
of Ravel Dasinder from the entire proceedings was duly noted by all and even a cause for
some concern by many, particularly when taking into account some of the recent rumors
that were now being passed about among various groups of spellcasters. Alavarius also
noted that, while the House of Boccob was never one of the more popular centers of
worship within the city, it’s followers being limited for the most part to arcane spellcasters
who rarely if ever attended regular sermons, there were quite a few more people in
attendance on this day than was typical. When Alavarius asked around a bit on why this
was, he was told that a number of spellcasters had recently noticed that divination spells
seemed to be failing with a greater frequency than usual and that, more and more, they
were becoming concerned about this.
When the morning’s sermons were finally over, and the band finally had the opportunity
to ask one of the lesser clerics to speak with Ravel Dasinder, they were told that he was
very busy and did not wish to be disturbed. So the band told the cleric they had very
important information to share with Ravel concerning Mordenkainen and the Circle of
Eight. When the cleric then relayed this to Ravel, suddenly the band was quickly being
ushered into the Patriarch’s private chambers. There, they greeted Ravel, but it was
immediately apparent that he had heavy thoughts on his mind as well. Despite this, he
asked the band about their purpose and Cymria then described to him, in great detail, her
vision. When she was done, Ravel asked her numerous questions, many of which Cymria
could not understand for what purpose, and she began to grow frustrated with what she
thought were the pointless questions of a senile old man.

Nevertheless, Ravel Dasinder eventually ended his interrogation and seemed to be
satisfied that Cymria had spoken the truth – at least she was convinced that the Circle of
Eight was dead. So the band told him they needed to get in contact with Mordenkainen
and make sure that he was aware of the Circle’s demise. Ravel agreed and told the band
that he did have the means to contact Mordenkainen. But first, he wanted to share with the
band what had happened to him that morning.
He then told them that when he awoke that morning, he had a sort of riddle, or perhaps
a prophecy of some sort, running through his head. So he wrote it down on a piece of
paper. A short while later, when he entered the worship hall of the temple, he found,
lying upon the altar, a strange purple gemstone that, as Alavarius later confirmed, radiated
a tremendous amount of magical, perhaps even divine, power. None of the clerics in
the temple could explain where it came from or how it got there – but Ravel came to
the conclusion that it was a gift from Boccob, who is not only the god of magic, but of
foresight as well. Ravel explained that, since finding the gemstone, he had been trying to
cast divination spells trying to learn more – but with no success. He did however decide
that the gemstone, which he believed to be somehow connected to the riddle, was best
kept in the hands of the Righteous Vanguard, as he was convinced that they would be the
ones who could best put them to good use. And so he gave the gemstone and the riddle to
Alavarius. The riddle went like this:

Two titans embraced, locked before a ring
When the stone is sundered, forth the powers bring
Upon the sign the bearer must decide
To call upon the powers and cast them both aside

Some time was spent puzzling over the riddle, and while they had some theories on
what the later parts might mean, they could not figure out the meaning of the first line.
All they could do was to hope that, in time, its meaning would become apparent. With the
gemstone and the riddle now in the possession of the Righteous Vanguard, Ravel Dasinder
told the band to meet him that night at a tavern called the Roc and Oliphant at seven
o’clock. There, they would contact Mordenkainen and inform him of all they had learned.
The band agreed and went on their way.
Shortly after leaving the Temple of Boccob, the band decided to do some information
gathering and try to determine where the Circle of Eight had been killed. This they would
do by basically following in the footsteps of the Circle and learning what kind of research
they had been doing over the past few months. Some of the obvious places to start looking
would be the various libraries in the City of Greyhawk, as well as Tenser’s Castle. Cymria
was not comfortable with taking the Righteous Vanguard to Tenser’s Castle. So she parted
ways with the band at this point and went to the castle alone.

The band, meanwhile, split up into three groups and headed for the libraries. Nero, of
course, in his disguise as Diur Daton, went with Maximo to the Guild of Wizardry. There
he spoke to the guild’s librarian, Jawal Severnain, who, along with Ravel Dasinder, was one
of the few people to whom he had by now revealed his true identity. As usual, Jawal was
very busy with work of his own and did not have much time to deal with Nero’s inquiries,
until Nero explained to him that it concerned the Circle of Eight and their possible
disappearance. Jawal then told Nero to return in a couple of hours and he would give him
a list of books that the Circle of Eight had looked at over the past few months.
At the same time, Dravos and Nicholas went to look in the libraries of Grey College.
There they were able to pay several college students to look through the various libraries, a
dozen in all, to see which books had been looked at by the Circle of Eight. Once they had
gotten a list of books from the students, they picked out ones that looked promising and
again paid the students to go through them and make book reports. They told the students
they would return the next day for these reports.
Meanwhile, Alavarius and Kieranen went to the Great Library of Greyhawk. There they
learned that, although both were members of the library, they would not be allowed access
to the records of who had looked at the books. So the two of them went to speak with
Constable Derider Fanshen at the Grand Citadel and asked her for a warrant to examine
the library’s records. She agreed to provide them with the warrant on the condition that
Kieranen return and explain to her as soon as possible, what this was all about. With the
warrant then, the two returned to the library and went through the records, finding that
only Otiluke had visited the library recently and had only looked at two books. Alavarius
skimmed through both of these books.
The first one, entitled The Poems of Thalac Jiwo, was a series of poems that were thought to
be prophetic. Unfortunately, it would take a more thorough examination to find anything
useful in it. The second book, called the Book of Stone, described the internment of a man
by the name of Halmadar the Cruel in a burial mound in a place called Flann-aerich,
which Alavarius later realized was the Kron Hills. This certainly appeared to be important
information, but again, would probably warrant a more thorough examination.
Later in the day, Nero and Maximo returned to the Wizard’s Guild and received the list
of books from Jawal. The first one was a massive tome that Mordenkainen had looked
at, and was of a particular interest to Nero because it was written by an ancestor about
his ancestors. It was called The Chronicle of Secret Times, and was a long and detailed history
of the Neheli family of the Suel. Nero skimmed through it and found that the most
interesting part was the first few chapters which talked about the struggles between the
Whispered One, Lord Vecna and his lieutenant, Kas. The next two books on the list were
looked at by Rary, and were called The Beasts of Humanity and The Dragon-Scale Tome. But,
unfortunately, they were both written in Old Oeridian and could not be read by either
Nero or Maximo.

The last book on the list however, was examined by Jallarzi and it was actually a small
broadside called Treatise on the Practices of Hidden Ones. It was small enough for Nero to
read in its entirety and it described, in very alarmist terms, several vile and wicked cults,
including the Cult of Iuz, of which Nero was already very familiar, and the Cult of Vecna.
By the time Nero was finished reading this, it was time for he and Maximo to meet the
others at the Roc and the Oliphant. Dravos and Nicholas had gone on ahead to the tavern
early, while Kieranen and Alavarius first went to the Temple of Boccob, to escort Ravel
Dasinder to the tavern. However when they got to the temple, they learned that Ravel had
already left the temple a couple of hours before. So they went on ahead to the tavern.
The Roc and Oliphant was located in Clerkberg not far from Grey College and was a
favorite hangout for many of the students. Already at seven o’clock, the place was quite
busy with revelers drinking and singing songs. Fortunately, by the time the others arrived,
Dravos and Nicholas had already claimed a table in the far corner of the main room. But
no one had yet seen any sign of Ravel Dasinder. The band was just about to see if they
could move into one of the private rooms, when the door to a nearby private room opened
up, and there stood the Patriarch of Boccob. He waved the group over and they grabbed
their drinks and joined him in what was known as the garden room, as it had two bay
windows overlooking a garden.
After the band greeted Ravel and took their seats around the table, Ravel produced
a ring which he slid onto his finger and began concentrating. Soon, a projected image
of Mordenkainen appeared in the chair opposite Ravel. The illusionary wizard looked
around the room and back at Ravel and said, “You have learned something?” Ravel
told Mordenkainen that the Righteous Vanguard had some bad news. Then he let Nero
describe the vision that Cymria had. When Nero was done, Mordenkainen asked a few
questions and they discussed what everyone had learned.
Mordenkainen told the band that about six months before, a number of wizards had
noticed that certain divination spells had been failing and that he had directed the Circle
of Eight to investigate the matter. He also helped to confirm what the band by now had
already suspected – that the Circle of Eight had apparently been killed by someone that
wielded both the Eye and the Hand of Vecna, which were two very powerful and infamous
artifacts. He proposed a few theories on what might be the cause of the failing divinations
and how they might be linked to the Eye and the Hand of Vecna. Then he encouraged
the Righteous Vanguard to continue investigating the matter while he did the same from
where he was at. He advised the band to do a thorough job of gathering information and
offered a few suggestions on this, in addition to the libraries. He also said that from time
to time he would look in on them and that if they needed to contact him they should talk
with either, Ravel Dasinder or Kieren Jalucian, Master of the Wizard’s Guild. Finally, he
asked them to inform Kieren of Jallarzi’s death, as the two of them had been romantically
involved. Then his projected image disappeared.

With the image of Mordenkainen now gone, the band sat and reflected for a moment on
everything that was said. Then suddenly and without warning, the bay windows shattered
as a bizarre looking creature came crashing through. From the tops of its shoulders down
the creature appeared to be a normal, albeit rather large and stocky, human. But instead of
a normal human head, it had a giant hand in its place. This strange creature, later referred
to as the hand creature or simply, the Hand, landed on the table and threw two daggers at
Kieranen. Then it drew two long swords from its back and pounced on him. Six fighters
with long swords and red dye on their faces, otherwise known as the Blood of Vecna,
quickly followed in behind the Hand.
Dravos was among the first members of the Righteous Vanguard to react, pulling out
his magical whip dagger, and laid a couple of nasty cuts into the backside of the Hand
while Nicholas turned and attacked one of the six fighters climbing through the window.
Nero used a spell to turn invisible and slipped past the six fighters, through the broken
window and out into the garden. There he launched a spell at the Hand but barely missed
it. Maximo meanwhile, cast a spell of his own which created a chaotic display of fireworks
that resembled miniature dragons and caused further confusion. Ravel Dasinder however,
mentioned something about warning the temple and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
By this point, the Hand had grabbed on to Kieranen with its giant hand and began
draining strength from him while it made several deep cuts into Kieranen with its long
swords. Kieranen, still sitting in his chair, had not even had time to react yet and already he
was on the verge of dying. He struggled to break free of the Hand while Alavarius tried to
heal his wounds.
Nero, meanwhile, was now out in the garden and just about to launch another spell at
the Hand, when he noticed another bizarre looking creature standing in the corner of the
garden. Like the Hand, this one appeared to be a normal human from the shoulders down,
though it was tall and slim, and instead of a normal head it had a giant eyeball in its place.
Nero turned to it and launched his spell at it instead. Then he was surprised when the
creature, known as the Eye, and despite Nero’s invisibility and his amulet of proof versus
detection and location, produced a two-handed sword and struck him.
Back inside the tavern, Dravos continued to punish the Hand with his whip daggers, and
with the aid of his companions. As a result it was one of the first attackers to fall. Soon
the other fighters, obviously dismayed at how quickly the Hand was taken down, began
looking to retreat, though some of them were dropping as well. Then the Eye tried to use
its powers to suck the soul out of Nero’s body, though he was able to resist it. Nero then
struck it with a disintegrate spell, which did not kill it, though it did severely wound it.
By this point, only three of the fighters remained and they took off running and darted
around a corner of the building. But Dravos proved to have superior speed and easily
caught up to them. Here, now that the odds appeared to be back in favor of the fighters,
they stopped to attack Dravos once again.

But the fighters had a difficult time trying to hit Dravos. The Eye took off at this point
as well. But before it could get away from Nero, he struck it with another disintegrate spell
and this time the creature was reduced to a pile of dust. Then, as Dravos took down one
of the three remaining fighters, Nero trapped them in a black tentacles spell. Immediately
following this, Dravos managed to paralyze one of the fighters with his dagger and the
other one was killed. So Nero dismissed the black tentacles and the sole remaining fighter
was taken alive.
Once the battle was over, the owner of the tavern opened the door to the garden room
to see what all the commotion was about, and was surprised to find the windows smashed,
and a few dead men including one with a hand for a head. The righteous Vanguard
offered to pay for any damages and began questioning some of the other patrons in the
tavern, having overheard that there were a few men in the main room who appeared to be
preparing to join in on the fight, but then suddenly changed their minds and left.
After healing some injuries, Alavarius cast a detect thoughts spell while Nero questioned
the captured member of the Blood of Vecna. The captured fighter was very defiant and
clearly a fanatical follower of Vecna, often saying things like: he was not afraid of dying as
he was assured a glorious afterlife, and his death would only hasten the arrival of Vecna.
Still, Nero’s questions forced him to think about things and Alavarius could read his mind.
So they were able to gather some valuable information, such as the fact that there were
four more Bloods of Vecna in the main room led by a lesser priest of Vecna, or Memory
of Vecna, by the name of Ofdar. They also learned that many of the followers of Vecna
were Rhenee who often hung out in the River Quarter, including places like the River Rat
inn, or lived on barges in the river. In addition to this, each Blood of Vecna also wore
a small pendent of a hand with an eye in its palm, which could be useful in identifying
members of the Cult of Vecna.
As the Righteous Vanguard was questioning the Blood of Vecna and other patrons of
the tavern, several members of the City Watch arrived and began asking questions of their
own. The band explained to them what had happened and due to their standing within
the city, as well as the guards’ familiarity with Kieranen, their word was accepted by the
City Watch. When they were done with interrogating the Blood of Vecna, the City Watch
arrested him and escorted him off to the prison blockhouse inside the Grand Citadel. The
Righteous Vanguard meanwhile, went to their homes to try and get some rest, for they
knew that on the following day, there was a lot of information that needed to be gathered,
and a lot of questions that needed to be answered.

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