Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

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.

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