Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 8

At about midday on Earthday, the 27th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard exited the cave known as the Wizard’s Mouth, in the volcanic mountain called White Plume Mountain, where they had just a short while before defeated the False Keraptis known as Spatterdock and rescued Nicholas’ brother Echab. With them were an evil sphinx named Sapho and a woman calling herself Snarla, whom the band believed to be a werewolf. Having already made deals with both Sapho and Snarla to let them go, they announced to the two of them that they were now free to go as they might choose. Kieranen however, issued a stern warning to Snarla that they would not be so kind to her a second time if they were to run afoul of her in the future. Sapho then took the opportunity and flew away. Snarla, on the other hand, had little choice but to remain with the band for a while longer as they made their way down the mountain side to the more easily traversed foothills.

Now moving at a slower pace than before, due to Gildor’s difficulty in keeping up with his companions after losing his wings of flying, it took a couple of hours for the band to reach the base of the mountain. Once having done so though, they turned to Snarla and said their goodbyes to her, making it clear to her that they wanted her to part ways with the band and not follow them to their base camp at Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket. Snarla took the hint and turned west towards the village of Ringland, while the band resumed their journey to the south. A couple of hours later, they arrived at Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket without incident and with no encounters along the way. There they were pleased to find their guide Otus and Gildor’s companion Sonda along with their mounts all in good health and doing well. Otus told them that they had seen small bands of gnolls passing nearby the cave but did not appear to take any notice of the cave. Still, there was some cause for concern.

The band then explained to Otus and Sonda that although they had successfully rescued Echab, there was much more that now had to be done inside White Plume Mountain due to the growing threat of the False Kerapti, not to mention the danger placed upon Gildor and Echab because of it. So it was decided, despite his great desire to accompany the band back into the mountain, that Echab should remain at the cave with Otus and Sonda to provide further support for them, as well as to keep him out of further harm’s way.

First however, the band would need to retreat back to Greyhawk city to take care of a few matters, such as the healing of Dravos and the mending of several magic items, as well as to seek the advice of the Circle of Eight on how they might proceed with the matters taking place inside White Plume Mountain. With this objective in mind, several members of the band climbed into Nero’s portable hole, and Nero teleported them to Greyhawk.

Upon their arrival at Nero’s tower just north of the city, they met with Book and a couple of their henchmen and explained the situation to them. Kieranen, Nicholas and Dravos then immediately set out for the Temple of St. Cuthbert as it was nearing dusk and they wanted to get inside the city before the city gates closed. At the temple then, they met with their good friend, the High Priestess Eritai Kaan-Ipzirel. They introduced Dravos to her, as he had joined the band after their last meeting with Eritai, and explained to Eritai about his recent health problems. They then worked out a deal with her to have all of Dravos’ lost life energy restored and acquired a few curative potions and scrolls, in exchange for a sizable donation to the church and a few minor magic items. By the time this was done, it was late in the evening. So the three of them went to spend the night at Kieranen’s house. Meanwhile, Nero and Gildor spent the evening at Nero’s tower mending the band’s damaged magic items.

The following morning, on Freeday the 28th day of Flocktime, the band, with Book included, all met up again at Kieranen’s house and discussed their plans. Nero also paid a visit to the Wizard’s Guild to check on things there. When they were ready, Book teleported everyone to Magepoint, where they met once again with Tenser’s henchman Cymria. Cymria however told them that she had not received any message from them as they had hoped, and they then realized the magical bird with the message would probably not be arriving for almost another two days. She also told them that Tenser was out of town and could not be contacted. So they asked her if there was another member of the Circle that she could contact and she used her magic mirror to locate Otto.

Otto was, as might be expected, busy eating at a table somewhere inside what appeared to be the dinning hall of a castle. The band stepped through the portal created by the magic mirror, which of course startled Otto a bit, and introduced themselves once again. They then explained their situation to Otto and asked for any advice that he might have. Otto, in turn, told the band to continue investigating the matter, which included the further questioning of the efreeti Nix, and if he appeared to be telling the truth about the means of putting an end the threat, to do as Nix said on the assumption that it would be easier to deal with one evil wizard than a multitude of them. With this advice, the band stepped back through the portal and returned to Magepoint. They then asked Cymria one more time for the use of her magic mirror, so they could quickly return to Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket where Otus, Sonda and Echab were waiting for them. With Cymria’s permission then, the band was soon back at the cave and making plans on their next course of action. Following a brief discussion, they decided to go in search of the trident Wave, since they were already outside the mountain, and set out immediately.

Their first stop was the abandoned village of Plague Fields. It took them a couple of hours to reach Plague Fields, at which point Book used his magic to turn invisible and fly over the village and scout out the area. As before, he spotted a number of gnolls which had obviously taken up residence inside the crumbling palisade.

After Book reported his findings to his companions, Nicholas led the charge towards the village while Nero led the magical assault on the gnolls with a forceball spell. It did not take long for the few remaining gnolls that did not die in the first few explosions to turn tail and run leaving the village completely abandoned once again. Book however, decided to capture one of the fleeing gnolls by casting a domination spell on it. With this spell he was able to force the gnoll to turn around, come back to them and answer their questions, though it did not do so willingly. While Book was interrogating the gnoll, other members of the band were searching the ruins of the village and sweeping it with detect magic spells. After about an hour or so, they were convinced that the trident Wave was not to be found in the village. They then decided to burn what remained of the village to the ground so that it could no longer be used by humanoids and bandits as a base of operations. Book then commanded the gnoll to meet them at the ruins of Castle Mukos, and the band set out west along the trail to Ringland.

They arrived at the village of Ringland later that afternoon, but turned directly north without stopping, and continued along a trail that headed in the direction of Castle Mukos. The tail however, faded away to nothing after a few miles and sometime later the band eventually stopped to set up camp about a mile south of the castle ruins.

That evening Book cast a secure shelter spell and the band was able to rest in a fairly safe building. Still, they kept a watch, and later on that night they were approached by four large ogres. Gildor woke everyone up, though it proved to be unnecessary, as the ogres were quickly killed by a fireball from Nero and an arrow from Nicholas.

The next morning, on Starday, the 1st day of Wealsun, Book realized that his dominated gnoll was now gone. So the band resumed their trek to Castle Mukos and began searching the ruins there. Nicholas used a spell and was able to determine that there was some kind of unusual creatures living beneath the tower of the castle. They searched the other ruins first however, and when they turned up nothing, they focused their attention on the tower. There they discovered a narrow moss-lined tunnel that slopped steeply into the ground below. Realizing that the creatures lived in that tunnel the band ventured into the tunnel one at a time. Most members of the band were invisible and the two mages were able to fly into the tunnel, but the others had to try and climb down the slippery passage.

As a result, Gildor and Dravos lost their footing and slid right out into the middle of the cave at the bottom of the tunnel. When they did, out stepped a dozen meenlocks and a wave of fear swept over the band causing some of the band members to cower in fear. Some of the meenlocks then attacked those few who were visible and managed to paralyze a couple members of the band. Seeing this, Book cast a wall of force spell, cutting off most of the meenlocks from the band. Since meenlocks are able to teleport though, this would have held them back for only a moment or two. But before the meenlocks were able to move beyond the wall, Nero, who overheard Book casting the wall of force spell and saw its effect on the meenlocks, cast another forceball spell.

The forceball filled the entire area where he and the majority of the meenlocks were, killing all of the meenlocks on that side of the wall, but causing damage to himself as well. Then, before any of the few remaining meenlocks could teleport away, the other members of the band were able to pounce on them and kill them.

The fear and the paralyzation soon passed and within a minute or two the band was able to look around for any signs of the trident or the gnomes who were supposed to have hidden it. They found no signs of either but did discover a nice magical shield. After a thorough search and finally being satisfied that the trident was not to be found at Castle Mukos, the band set out for the last place mentioned by Nix where the gnomes might have taken the weapon – a place called Thingizzard’s Hut.

According to local legend, and from what Dravos had heard about her, Thingizzard was said to be an ancient witch, the Witch of the Fens, so old in fact that she was living in the swamp when Keraptis first moved into White Plume Mountain some thirteen hundred years before. A white-haired old crone of a woman, she was said to be fond of brewing potions, had mysterious spell-like abilities of great power, and was supposedly the being responsible for creating the bog mummies that inhabited the swamp. But little else was known about her.

The band crossed over the Yellow Flow River, skirted around the south side of the swamp while staying north of the mountain, and, late in the afternoon, arrived at the edge of the swamp closest to where they believed her hut to be. Nero then cast a fly spell and flew over the swamp until he spotted what he believed to be Thingizzard’s Hut laying about three miles into the swamp and directly north of them. Realizing that the horses would not be able to travel through the swamp very easily, they left the horses behind with Nicholas’ wolf Whistler guarding them, and set off on foot.

Their rate of travel was greatly slowed at this point and gradually it began to dawn on them that it would take some time to travel the three miles through the swamp. But this was only the beginning of their concerns, as they soon came upon a patch of quicksand that had to be skirted around. Then, after about an hour of traveling into the swamp, they were approached by four more bog mummies which emerged from behind the nearby moss-covered trees. Nero blasted them with a fireball, and though none of them managed to dodge out of harm’s way, they did not burn very well either due to the dampness of their bloated bodies. Gildor, however, blew one to pieces with a searing light spell and Book slowed one down with a slow spell. Eventually, the band was able to take all four of the bog mummies down without allowing any of them to strike them. But by this point, it was becoming quite apparent that the skies overhead were growing cloudy and dark and it looked as though a rainstorm, or worse, was headed their way.

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