It was on Waterday, the 19th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard defeated Grendel and his band of trolls, orcs and bugbears. When the battle was over and the bodies of the trolls were being consumed by either flame or acid, Gildor tended to the wounds of those who were injured, while others began gathering those things taken from the trolls’ bodies which appeared to be of any value. With any apparent threats now having been dealt with, there was only one immediate danger left with which to dispense. Nickolas then removed the necklace from around his neck, which had hung there for the past sixteen years, took one final look at the troll’s ear that dangled from it, and which now had begun to slowly grow, and tossed it into the fire where it too was destroyed along with the rest of Grendel’s burning remains.
A few minutes later, all was well with the band, save for the body of Dravos, which lay on the cave floor quite lifeless, with a gaping wound in its side and badly burned. But there was little that could be done for Dravos at this point. At best, Gildor would try his best to raise him from the dead on the following day.
With the obvious sounds of battle now clearly come to a peaceful silence, the dwarven slaves outside the cave gradually began to make their way inside. The helpful dwarf who called himself Bleryn was among them and he, like the other dwarves, was so thrilled at seeing the burning bodies of the trolls that he personally thanked each member of the band for freeing them from captivity. In fact, he was so impressed with Nero’s use of magic, despite the fact that he had never put much trust in arcane magic before, he swore to serve Nero in an effort to repay him for all he had done. .
From this point, the band went on to explore the remainder of the caves where they found six more dwarven slaves and seven human slaves. Most of these slaves were in bad shape, but their demeanor quickly improved when they realized they had been rescued. A few of the human slaves were just as grateful to the band as Bleryn, that they likewise felt compelled to offer to serve other band members with which they took an instant liking towards. Malowan, a novice ranger, offered his services to Kieranen, and Khlened, a young warrior, joined up with Nicholas. While on the following day, with the successful return of Dravos, an apprentice wizard by the name of Nemis took a liking towards him and offered to aid him in anyway that he could.
In addition to the slaves, a few more magic items were found along with a considerable stash of coins and gems. Once all the caves had been searched, the spellcasters of the band spent time identifying the properties of the newly acquired magic items, after which, the band then proceeded to divide up all the treasure.
As all of this took considerable time, it soon became clear that they would need to spend the night at the troll’s cave and begin making their journey back to town on the following day. This then gave the band some time to get to know some of the people they had rescued. And while they were doing so, Bleryn happened to mention the druid that the band had previously heard about, who had been trying to help the people of West Town and even managed to rescue some of the slaves. He told the band that Escalla the druid would be quite pleased that the trolls had been defeated. When Nicholas heard this, he suddenly became quite interested in hearing about this person named Escalla, but tried to act very nonchalant about it. His interest in this druid, as the other band members would soon discover, stemmed from the fact that his long-lost and presumably dead mother was named Escalla.
After a bit more prodding by Nicholas, Bleryn soon related the fact that the druid in question fit the description of Nicholas’ mother and that she had a son named Echab, which also fit the description of Nicholas’ long-lost brother. No doubt Nicholas should have been quite elated by this news, though oddly enough, from all accounts, he appeared to be rather under whelmed by the discovery that the mother and brother whom for the past sixteen years he had thought were dead, were in fact very much alive. But at least he asked Bleryn how he could contact Escalla and later on revealed to his companions who he suspected this woman to be.
On the following morning, Earthday, the 20th day of Flocktime, Gildor prayed for the proper spell and using a diamond found there at the troll’s cave, cast a raise dead spell on the body of Dravos and brought him back to life, although in a somewhat weakened state. A short while later, the Righteous Vanguard and all of the people they had rescued from the trolls were on their way back to West Town. Due to the poor condition of some of the ex-slaves, their rate of travel was slower than previously. But fortunately they encountered no other difficulties on the return trip. In fact, their luck held out that night and all the next day as they made it back to West Town late in the day on the 21st.
That evening, as the band was gathered at the local inn, their young guide Lhors entered the inn along with someone who Nicholas very much wished to see. It was of course his mother Escalla, who at first did not recognize Nicholas but seemed to find something familiar about him. Lhors introduced everyone and when Escalla realized that Nicholas was her long-lost son, she became quite emotional and overjoyed to see him. Naturally, the two of them had many questions for each other and they spent some time talking about what had happened sixteen years before and how they got separated. Then Escalla’s joy at seeing Nicholas suddenly turned once again to concern, as she told the band that Nicholas’ brother Echab had gone in search of a powerful weapon three weeks before and had not yet returned. Escalla was now very concerned about Echab, believing that she should have heard from him by this time. So she asked the band if they would go in search of him to which the band gladly agreed.
Escalla then told the band of how Echab had overheard a conversation three weeks before about a magical trident called Wave, which had been stolen from someone who was now seeking to regain it. Echab had come to the conclusion that this person was headed in the wrong direction and believed he would be able to track it down and take it from the thieves who had recently acquired it. He was able to deduce this because Wave was one of three weapons that his and Nicholas’ father had taken from White Plume Mountain 20 years before. A description of the suspected thieves, a small band of gnomes, and a symbol left behind by them, the letter K with snakes crawling over it, also matched up with what Echab knew of White Plume Mountain. After some discussion then, a plan of action was put together on how they might go about gathering information and discover the whereabouts of Nicholas’ lost brother, Echab.
On the following morning, Starday, the 22nd day of Flocktime, their first step was to teleport everyone to the home of Nicholas’ father, Vaerdal. This included Escalla as well as the band’s newly acquired henchmen, Bleryn, Malowan, Khlened, Nemis and Lhors who had offered to accompany Book. Many of these people had to crowd into Nero’s portable hole in order to teleport everyone in one trip. Escalla and Vaerdal of course were overwhelmed with joy when they were reunited despite Vaerdal’s recent crippling wound and the concerns over their missing son. After getting everyone caught up on what was now happening, Vaerdal and the dwarf, Dougan, told the band all they could remember about White Plume Mountain and Vaerdal gave the band a couple of maps along with some notes, just in case they should have to return to White Plume in order to locate Echab.
When the band had gathered all the information they felt they could at this place, they teleported to Greyhawk City, leaving Escalla behind with her husband. At Greyhawk, the band showed their new henchmen around a bit, then paid a visit to their old friend Sturtevant. They told him about their current mission and asked him if he had any information on White Plume Mountain. Fortunately, he did know quite a bit and was able to locate a good deal more information in his extensive library. After learning what they could about the history of White Plume, Gildor cast a commune spell, and they were able to learn even more, including the fact that Echab was a captive inside the mountain. On another important but unrelated topic, they also learned that there was nothing they could do to save their recently lost companion, Aejiri.
Now that the band knew they would have to venture inside White Plume Mountain, they were able to make further plans, and it was decided that the mission was too dangerous to bring their henchmen along. Only Gildor’s companion Sonda would be accompanying them and even she would stay behind outside the mountain to watch over the mounts they would have to buy. With this decision made, the band left instructions with their henchmen, packed all the adventuring gear that they thought they might need, and on the following morning, the 23rd of Flocktime, teleported to the village of Magepoint.
There at Magepoint, the band talked to Tenser’s henchman, Cymria of Celadon and asked if they might make use of Tenser’s mirror of mental prowess. Cymria contacted Tenser and got his approval to use the magical mirror to aid the band. So Dravos then used the mirror to locate an inn that he was familiar with in the city of Balmund, in the Great Lands of Reyhu, which was a part of the Bandit Kingdoms. The band at this point, said good bye for the time being, to Book who felt it was important that he stay behind and continue with some research he had been neglecting. The rest of the band then stepped through the portal created by the magic mirror and entered the city of Balmund. There, the band was soon able to buy four descent horses and all the necessary gear, and for the remainder of the day headed out in the direction of White Plume Mountain. Nicholas rode his wolf Whistler, which by now had grown to an immense size, Sonda rode her trained boar, Gildor used his wings of flying and the remaining four rode the just acquired horses.
Their first day of travel was relatively uneventful as was their first night camped out on the plains. But as they drew nearer to the mountain on their second day of travel, they began to see signs of a harsher terrain as well as small bands of humanoids.
That night, in the middle of the night, as they were camped out about half a day’s ride from White Plume, they were attacked by a band of six ogres. Despite a few minor difficulties the band was able to defeat their attackers without too many injuries. Though Gildor set a tree ablaze when he called down a flamestrike on a few of the ogres, which then had to be extinguished when the fight was over. No doubt the fire could be seen for miles around in the wide open plains. But with the damage already done, the band could only hope it would not be a sign for hard times to come.