Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Six: Loose Ends – Chapter 8

It was late at night, in the earliest hours of Godsday, the 4th day of Coldeven, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard began their assault on the mage Bronwynn in her tower just north of the City of Greyhawk. Almost a minute later, Bronwynn and her puppet henchman, known as the Jester, were badly wounded and forced to flee using magical means to make their escape. However, most members of the band knew they could not have gone far and were soon in hot pursuit.

But despite this fact, all was not well with every member of the band. For in addition to the adventurers being split up, and some of them with serious injuries, there were a couple of band members who found themselves in life threatening situations. Nicholas, for example, had been left all alone on the third floor in a state of magical confusion, very badly wounded and facing two huge earth elementals with only a smaller earth elemental to aid him. And Gildor was in an even worse predicament as he was now in a locked room on the second floor facing a huge stone golem that threatened to crush him with its next attack. To make matters worse, Nero had just fallen victim to a symbol of pain spell that was set off as he entered the kitchen door on the first floor, causing him great suffering and considerable distraction.

But not even this was the end of their troubles at the present time. For as Kieranen, Nero and Aejiri entered the kitchen, a dozen knives of various shapes and sizes, hung upon the kitchen racks, began to animate and attack them. Kieranen and Nero managed to run past the flying knives before they could get to them. But Aejiri was forced to dodge or bat aside the whirling blades, which proved to be more of a nuisance than a real threat.

Kieranen and Nero meanwhile ran down the stairs to the basement, where Nero cast a light spell to reveal a square room with one door on the opposite wall and four suits of armor standing at the sides. After pausing for a moment to assess the situation, Kieranen slowly advanced into the room with great hesitation, as Aejiri caught up to them, leaving the animated knives behind. When Kieranen reached the half-way point across the room, the four suits of armor, much as anticipated, suddenly came to life, drawing weapons as they began to move menacingly towards the elf.

Meanwhile, up on the third floor, Nicholas continued to take a beating from the earth elementals, but to his great fortune, was soon granted a timely dose of good luck as he first, while still in a state of bewilderment, lashed out at one of the elementals and struck it several times, then stumbled off balance, causing one of the elementals to miss its mark badly and strike the other elemental, which had already been sorely wounded. The errant strike took down the second earth elemental leaving just one more to deal with.

Following this, Nicholas’ confused mind finally cleared up enough to enable him to attack the remaining earth elemental. Moments later the confusion spell wore off altogether and the earth elemental, with its time on this plane now at an end, vanished in a puff of smoke. The smaller earth elemental, summoned by Gildor, likewise vanished soon afterwards. Nicholas then realizing what had just occurred, though he could not know what was currently happening down below him, quaffed a healing potion and ran downstairs to join his companions.

As all of this was playing out elsewhere, Gildor was in a grim struggle to save his own life while his companions were completely unaware of just how dire his situation truly was. He managed to dodge one blow from the stone golem, but was struck by another, bringing him that much closer to a grizzly demise. In desperation, Gildor tried to duck and run past the stone golem and was struck again in the process. But fortunately it was not enough to knock him unconscious and with a final surge of determination, Gildor hurled himself at a nearby window which shattered with the impact, allowing the gnome warrior-cleric to fall from the second floor to the ground below. Once again the gnome was fortunate that the fall did not do him in, but merely knocked the wind out of him. So as quick as he could, he got back up, cast a healing spell on himself, and then dove through another window on the first floor in an effort to catch up with his companions.

Meanwhile, in the basement below, Kieranen and Aejiri were forced to battle the animated suits of armor, which much like the kitchen knives above, did not prove to be much of a threat to the two adventurers who were so difficult to hit. But despite their ineffectiveness as worthy combatants, it seems the animated suits of armor did provide Bronwynn some much needed time in which to prepare for her final confrontation with her determined adversaries. Kieranen and Aejiri were about to try and burst through the door on the far side of the room, until Nero spotted another symbol of pain above the door and advised them not to. Instead, Nero cast a couple of spells which unlocked the doors and then opened them from a distance, apparently in the hopes that this would allow them to fight what lay beyond without passing through the doorway.

But the band was rather dismayed when they saw what awaited them in the room beyond, which appeared to be a well equipped workshop for building things out of metal and included a forge, several large tables and a wide variety of tools. In addition to these things, there were four large, humanoid constructs of unusual appearance, made of a bluish metal and beyond them towards the back of the room stood several mirrored images of Bronwynn surrounded by a faintly shimmering sphere of some kind.

Almost as soon as the doors opened up, one of the humanoid constructs, another form of golem they later discovered, launched a wave of force at Kieranen, knocking him backwards and flat on his back. Bronwynn immediately followed up this attack by casting a spell and launched a devastating fireball into the room where Kieranen, Aejiri and Nero were standing.

With Bronwynn making use of an ability to maximize the power of her spell, the heat from her fireball was so intense that it literally melted what remained of the animated suits of armor and very nearly killed Kieranen. Fortunately, Aejiri somehow managed to escape any harm from the spell by dodging to the side while Nero was partially protected from fire. Gildor had only made it to the top of the stairs leading into the basement at this point, and was therefore busy dodging kitchen knives, and Nicholas was still on his way down from the third floor. So neither of them was caught in the fireball. As soon as the smoke from the fireball cleared however, Bronwynn cast another spell which caused black tentacles to spring up from the floor and attempt to grapple with anything that came near.

By now, Nero, now realizing the power of the enemy spell caster, began suggesting that they make a hasty retreat. But others, such as Aejiri, who continued to act as he had done in the past, were not so ready to give up just yet. On the other hand, he was just as equally hesitant to enter the room that lay ahead of him and, for a moment, found himself struggling with indecision. Meanwhile, Kieranen became the victim of numerous force wave attacks from the golems, which continued to knock him back every time he got up eventually throwing him back against the stairs and other hard surfaces, which gradually began to take a toll on him. Gildor did what he could to heal his companions, but was understandably hesitant to enter the room where the black tentacles were.

Finally, Aejiri decided it was time for him to perform a desperate act of his own, despite the apparent risks involved. Making a mad dash through the doorway and, somehow dodging past all four of the golems, and shrugging off any harmful effects of the symbol of pain, he ran up to Bronwynn and grabbed her, despite the many mirror images intended to confuse her attackers. Bronwynn, no doubt caught off guard by the monk’s ability to get past her defenses, struggled in vain as Aejiri dragged her from the protective sphere that surrounded her. Nevertheless, she still managed to blast Aejiri with a magic missile spell as he pulled her towards the other room where the black tentacles continued to grab at anything that came within reach. Aejiri’s plan almost succeeded too. Even the Jester, as badly wounded as he was and probably knowing that any attack from him would ruin his invisibility, tried to save her with a sneak attack on Aejiri. But Aejiri was protected from such attacks by his cloak of displacement. When Aejiri got close to the doorway however, one of the golems, which had tried in vain to strike the monk as it dragged its master along, used one of its force wave attacks to knock back everything around it, including Aejiri and Bronwynn. Bronwynn was protected from any harm by her stone skin spell while at the same time Aejiri lost his hold on the mage.

Bronwynn was then able to regain her feet and run back to her magical globe of invulnerability while the golems focused many of their attacks on the monk in an effort to keep him down and away from the mage. At this point, it seemed that the Righteous Vanguard was back to square one. But following a cone of cold spell from Bronwynn, it also began to look as though the mage was now running low on spells.

By now, Nicholas had arrived on the scene, and seeing what was happening, decided to use his collar of shape changing and assume the form of an earth elemental, which would allow him to travel underground. Using this method, he managed to get past most of Bronwynn’s defenses and emerge from the ground behind her.

At about this same time, Nero, going on a hunch about the nature of the force golems, cast a magic missile spell at one of them and was delighted to see that not only did it affect the golem, it actually caused more damage than expected. So he focused on taking down the golems with his magic missile spells. With some aid from his companions, they managed to destroy two of the four golems.

Once Nicholas began attacking Bronwynn from close range, she was forced to focus her attention on him. Though still protected by mirror images and a stone skin spell, she gradually began to receive injuries again and was not able to pay close attention to the battle elsewhere. Suddenly she found herself surrounded by several members of the band who had managed to get past the golems. It seems certain that at this point she had to have been seriously considering fleeing once again and it was later discovered that she had the means to at least make the attempt, for she still carried her Locket of the Crow, which she apparently used to escape the first time she faced the Righteous Vanguard. There is also the curious fact that, at this point in her career, she was rumored to always have a contingency spell placed upon her that would automatically cast another stone skin spell on her when the first one ran out.

But it appears that Bronwynn never got the chance to flee at this point, nor did her contingency spell ever go off, because Kieranen using his oathblade, Or’Shadi, which was now sworn to kill her, struck true despite her mirror images, and struck with such a vicious blow that it took her down despite her stone skin spell. This was now was the second major villain in a row brought low by the elven blade of justice and its wielder Kieranen, and just the beginning of the legends of the gifted swordsman and his remarkable weapon.

Once the mage Bronwynn had fallen, and Kieranen had made certain she was dead, Nero turned to the two remaining force golems and, sensing an intelligence in them not normally found in golems, was able to convince them to stop attacking. In fact, in a fairly short time, with his super-human, magically enhanced charisma, Nero was even able to charm the golems into serving him.

The Jester however, which was quite distraught over the death of its master, was captured and eventually turned over to the City Watch for interrogation and further studies.

Once the battle was over, the band tended to their wounds and began examining the body of Bronwynn and the Jester for any items of value, confiscating any that were found to be magical. One of these items was discovered to be an extra-dimensional space known as a portable hole. In a nearby room hidden behind a secret door, they also found a stash of art objects that clearly appeared to be loot recently stolen from the wealthy.

Following a thorough search of the basement, the band then moved on to the third floor where they found a journal, a stash of coins and gems and a few other notes and articles that were helpful in piecing together what Bronwynn had been up to in the past couple of years. While in the bedchamber on the third floor, they created a hole in the floor that led down into a library on the second floor. There they found all of Bronwynn’s spellbooks and all of the research she had done over the years on golems, constructs and other animated objects, plus a number of spells she had developed on her own for such purposes. Included in this material were a set of special commands that could be used, as Nero soon realized, to take control of the stone golem and information on how to repair the damage done to it.

By the time all of this was discovered, it was fast approaching dawn. So the band took the time to get some rest. Later in the day, once they had recovered from their late night activities, the band took the portable hole, now carrying all of the stolen art objects, and returned to the city. They immediately went to the Citadel and spoke with Derider Fanshen, telling her what had happened and turning over the Jester and all of the art objects. The magic items found they kept for themselves as none of the items reported as stolen were described as being magical. It was also the band’s intention to return to Bronwynn’s tower and retrieve the golems, as well as the library there and anything else they might want to take.

Upon closing this chapter in the grand history of the Righteous Vanguard, I would like to add a few notes on the mage Bronwynn, who proved to be yet another worthy adversary for our band of adventurers. It seems that during her time in Dyvers and a number of other cities where she briefly employed her unique scheme of burglary by animated puppet, she was able to come into a great deal of wealth, much of it in the form of magical items which can often fetch a high price in a city like Greyhawk. It also appears that during this time she came into possession of a magical tome of stone golem construction, which enabled her to build the stone golem in her tower before she was powerful enough to do it on her own. It also appears that this book was the inspiration behind her research into other golems such as the force golem. And following the quick demise of her puppet force at the hands of the Righteous Vanguard in Dyvers, it seems that she had decided to turn her attention to animated constructs that were more capable of defending her and themselves. Perhaps this is the reason she chose to stay and fight, where as before she would have run at the first sign of trouble. Unlike with her simple puppets of wood and cloth, which could be animated with a single spell of her creation, so much of her time, money and effort had gone into creating her golems that she could not simply turn away from them as she had before. And after all, this time her creations were meant to defend her.

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Czarn

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