Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 12

It was in the morning of Moonday, the 3rd day of Wealsun, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard ventured into the lava tubes that would eventually lead them to what was once known as the Indoctrination Center of White Plume Mountain. After having fought and defeated two creatures, later known as fungus hulks, the band continued their investigation of the lava tubes, which, as the band eventually discovered, created a huge network of fissures that formed a maze within the mountain. Most of these fissures were large enough for a human to walk through and mats of fungus coated the floors, walls and ceilings of these oppressively hot and moist passages. A scant few patches of this growth were weakly bioluminescent, providing a bit of light in these areas. But the vast majority of the fissures were dark.

Because of this, Nicholas and Book, both of whom were enhanced with magical darkvision, scouted out ahead of the rest of the band, which followed along using various magical light sources. Due to the maze-like quality of this network of fissures, the band used a number of means to help them make their way through the tunnels, such as taking advantage of Nicholas’ skill at tracking to determine the more commonly used tunnels, and placing marks on the walls at intersections to try and prevent them from getting lost. And whenever there was any question about which tunnel to take, they generally tried to stick to those tunnels leading downward, hoping these tunnels would eventually take them to the Indoctrination Center.

After approximately one and a half hours spent wandering through the lava tubes, at about half past nine, one of the tunnels finally came to an end at a door. They checked the door and found no traps, nor did it appear to be locked. But there was a flickering orange light coming from under the door and the door was very warm to the touch. So Nero cast an invisibility spell on the door knob, which allowed them to look through it and see what lay in the chamber beyond.

There, off to the left of them in a vast chamber, they saw scarlet light streaming through a set of thick crystal panes set into the west wall, which stained the white-tiled room blood-red. The crystal window looked out on a layer of thick, white mist rolling over an expanse of violently agitated magma. On a 10-foot high marble dais in the center of the chamber stood an iron observation chair, positioned to allow a perfect view of the fury beyond the window. Small leather straps attached to the arms and back of the chair gave silent evidence that not all viewers were willing to watch the spectacle. Near the door through which they looked was a 15-foot-diameter pit, from which a steady stream of white smoke rose up. And to the far, northern side of the chamber could be seen three more doors.

Seeing no occupants in the room, the band cautiously opened the door and stepped inside. But a few members of the band were momentarily taken in by the mesmerizing effect of the awe inspiring scene that lay beyond the window, and failed to take note of the threat that soon emerged from the smoking pit which lay to the right of them. Most members of the band however, watched in horror as an immense humanoid creature suddenly rose up and stepped out of the rising smoke. At eighteen feet in height, the creature towered above them and appeared to be made of glowing red coals covered with white-hot cinders. A wave of intense heat washed over the band as the burning humanoid stepped towards them with the obvious intent to attack.

Several members of the band fought back, but it soon became clear that the huge creature was unaffected by most magic, leading some members of the band to the conclusion that it was a golem of some kind. It struck with tremendous force and whenever it landed a blow, a shower of glowing cinders poured down on top of the recipient of the blow, threatening to burn the victim in the process. Fortunately though, the band had suspected that something like this might occur, and each of them had taken measures to magically protect themselves from fire before entering the room. Still the golem pounded on Nicholas despite the fact that he was immune to its fire damage. And to make matters worse, a second one of these burning golems began to emerge from the pit right behind the first one.

Gildor however, came up with an idea and reached into his backpack to find the decanter of endless water, which the band had recently acquired. He pointed it at the first golem and spoke the command word to release a geyser of water at it. As hoped, the water extinguished the fire around the golem and even slowed it down a bit, but it did no damage to the golem and ended up knocking Gildor on his ass as he tried to control the geyser. Kieranen, in turn, used his Crystal of the Eight to help keep the second golem at bay, and Book cast a haste spell, while Nicholas chopped away at the first golem and Ael threw bombs at it. Seeing as how the golems were so very difficult to harm, even though the first golem was taking heavy damage and was about to fall, Book called out to his companions to quickly move way from the golems so he could cast a wall of force and hold them off.

As the band was in the process of following Book’s direction however, the first golem uttered a terrible, magically enhanced cry which sent a wave of shivers through the band and caused Ael to run away in fear. Then, the dominated gnome Kabyle, under Book’s command, tried to run past the first golem and was crushed by the golem’s fist and killed. The feebleminded gnome Oasen however, who had been tied with a rope to Kieranen and was under his protection, managed to make it safely around the second golem. When all the members of the band then were well away from the golems, Book cast the wall of force spell, thereby cutting off the two golems, but also cutting off the entrance to the room through which they came. Meanwhile, at some point during the battle, a wall of fire had appeared on the far side of the room, but no one could determine its source.

Now, with a wall of force on one side of the room and a wall of fire on the other side, there was only one door left unobstructed to them, which was only visible to them as they approached the center of the oddly-shaped chamber. It was to this door that Dravos ran and began looking for traps.

At about the same time, Nero cast a dimension door spell and transported himself out into the lava tube just beyond where he expected Ael to have run to. When Ael then ran towards him, Nero tried to grab him but missed. So rather than chase after him, Nero cast a black tentacles spell which stopped him but also began to slowly strangle the life out of him. Unfortunately, at this point, there was nothing that Nero could do for Ael but wait for him to calm down and regained his composure.

Meanwhile, back in the chamber, the troubles continued for the rest of the band, as the second golem then let out a cry of its own, causing Book to panic just as Ael had. But since there was nowhere for Book to run to, he cast a dimension door spell as well, taking himself to the bottom of the spiral stairs that led out of the mountain. From there he continued to flee up the spiral stairs, only slowing down due to the exhaustion of climbing the stairs.

By this time, Dravos had discovered no traps on the one unobstructed door leading out of the chamber, so he opened it to reveal a passageway beyond. He was soon joined by Kieranen, Oasen, Gildor and Nicholas. But at the end of the short passageway, they saw another pit just like the one in the chamber, and out of it climbed two more burning golems. Not wanting to deal with these golems, Kieranen threw a bead of force down the passageway, landing so that, after exploding, it formed a sphere of force in the passageway and thus prevented the golems from approaching any closer.

Once more, the band appeared to be left with only one option – a single door that stood in the opposite wall of the passageway. After checking again for traps, they opened the door to reveal a room that appeared to serve as both a storage room and the quarters of two people. Standing in the center of the room were two drow, one a male and one a female, both with swords drawn and held out before them. The male drow spoke in common saying, “You are no allies of Keraptis, therefore you must die!” The male drow then stepped forward to attack with his sword, while the female drow moved in behind him to cast a magic missile spell. However, the male drow quickly discovered that he was out matched by his opposition and suffered several critical wounds, forcing him to hastily withdraw back into the room, where he stumbled and fell.

Seeing the male drow so badly wounded apparently had some kind of effect on the female drow, and without warning or any obvious reason, she screamed as her eyes rolled back in her head. Then she covered her face as she too fell to the ground. This in turn, caused the male drow to react in horror and apparently forget, for the time being, the threat that stood before him or the wounds that he had just received, his only concern being that of the condition of the female drow. He called out her name, Camille, and tried to drag himself towards her prone body.

Watching all of this occur before them with some confusion, Nicholas and Kieranen moved into the room and threatened to finish off both of the drow, when the male drow called out for them to wait, saying that he could make it worth their efforts to let them live. The male drow told them he could provide them with valuable information. So with weapons held at the ready, they told him he had better start talking. The drow, whose name was Wilde, told them that they had been working for Keraptis, the one that the band knew as Killjoy, and that their job was to gather food for the rest of Killjoy’s followers. However, due to what had just happened to the female drow, Camille, whom Wilde obviously had a strong affection for, it was clear to him now that both he and Camille were both doomed unless they put a stop to Killjoy’s plans – for it was obvious to him that Camille had just become subsumed. He told the band that he had suspected this might happen, but not until after he and Camille had been tricked into reading one of the Keraptis scrolls. Now, it was only a matter of time before he too would become subsumed and his only hope to save himself and Camille was to aid the band. He also told the band that he knew much of the way around this level of the complex and could provide them with further information.

Upon hearing all of this, the band agreed to spare the lives of the drow. Meanwhile, Gildor examined Camille and confirmed that she appeared to have become subsumed. So the band tied her up, as Gildor healed up many of the band’s injuries, including those of Wilde, who now offered to fight along side them. The band reluctantly agreed to let Wilde work with them, though he was issued a stern warning from Kieranen not to betray them. When this was settled the band turned their attention to other matters, such as returning to the large chamber and finishing off the golems there and then going after Killjoy whom Wilde claimed they could find beyond the wall of fire.

So the band, the larger portion of it that is, made their way back to the large chamber. As it just so happened, Nero, Ael and Book were also returning to the chamber at about this time, and when they learned that Killjoy could be found on the other side of the wall of fire, they became more interested in going there than in dealing with the golems. So they put up another wall of force to hold off the golems, as the duration of the first wall of force was about to come to an end.

With the band all protected from fire, the first one to venture beyond the wall of fire was Dravos. He quickly returned however, when he saw what waited them there. So Nero and Nicholas stepped through the wall of fire. There they saw a line of twenty-one subsumed gnomes and behind them stood a large bald man with tattoos on his head and a large two-handed sword that shown like a piece of the starry night sky. Assuming the bald man to be Killjoy, or one of his followers, as he appeared to have a magical globe around him to protect himself and some of the gnomes, Nero and Nicholas quickly realized they were about to be blasted simultaneously with as many as eight spells, and they understood why Dravos had retreated.

Fortunately, Nero proved to be quicker to react and let loose with a forceball spell, killing about half of the gnomes which stood outside of the sphere of protection. Following this however, the remaining gnomes and the bald headed man, who was indeed Killjoy, unleashed a wave of spells in return, including a black tentacles spell that caught a few members of the band, a cone of cold that blasted them and took down a portion of the wall of fire, a feeblemind spell that crippled Book, and what appeared to be a finger of death aimed at Nicholas who managed to avoid taking any mortal injury from it.

Following this, those members of the band who were able to, attacked back using whatever means they had at their disposal and the remaining gnomes were rapidly eliminated. Meanwhile, Ael threw bombs at the burning golem which had been badly damaged earlier, and managed to finally take it down.

Seeing that his gnomes would not last much longer, Killjoy assumed his true form, that of an efreeti, and, rather than retreating as he could have done easily, he chose instead to use his sword, which was of course, Blackrazor, to take the life of one of his subsumed gnomes. Doing so apparently granted the life force of the murdered gnome to Killjoy, making him even more powerful. But it proved to be a costly mistake for him, as the Righteous Vanguard then surrounded him and cut him down despite his added power. Even Wilde, one of Killjoy’s ex-followers, was able to strike the efreeti with his sword, thus gaining some measure of satisfaction on his former master, and for the time being, keeping his word as an ally to the band.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 11

On the evening of Sunday, the 2nd day of Wealsun, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard attacked the False Keraptis known as Nightfear. After having made their way through all the tricks and traps of Nightfear’s territory, and killing almost all of his forces who opposed them along the way, they finally came face to face with Nightfear in his personal headquarters. There, for the second time that day, they battled the gnome wizard who believed himself to be the true Keraptis. And for the second time that day, they had managed to get past Nightfear’s front line of defense and thwarted the trap that Nightfear had prepared for them. Now, with only a handful of gnolls on the far side of them, the only thing that separated four members of the Righteous Vanguard from Nightfear and his lieutenant Kabyle was a sphere of force that had been created by Ael when he tossed a bead of force at another group of gnolls, destroying them in the process.

Nicholas, Gildor, Book and Ael were currently caught in a passageway made slippery by an ice storm spell. But Ael quickly launched two more of his bombs at the gnolls to the south, killing them all, while his three companions prepared to use a dimension door spell to go after Nightfear. Meanwhile, in the room next door, Kieranen, Nero and Dravos killed the two remaining ogres that were attacking them. As this was happening, it appeared that Nightfear was busy doing what he could to prepare his only remaining forces, six gnome archers, to make a stand against his adversaries. But it soon became clear, that any attempt at a last stand at this point would be a hopeless cause. So Nightfear grabbed his lieutenant and teleported away to safety, while his gnome archers tried to escape through a nearby secret door.

Book, seeing that Nightfear had suddenly vanished, moved over to get a better look into the room where Nightfear had been, and spotted the fleeing gnome archers. So he cast a confusion spell in the area, causing several of the gnomes to begin behaving irrationally and eventually begin fighting each other. Most of these gnomes did not survive for much longer, but apparently, a couple of the gnomes somehow managed to escape.

Suddenly, with no enemies now in sight, the band began a hasty search for Nightfear, hoping he had not gone far. But they were hampered by the sphere of force as well as another wall of force that separated the two groups, which Nero discovered as he bumped into it. Using another dimension door spell, Book took the three who were with him and rejoined their companions. Then they all began searching the few rooms at the back of Nightfear’s headquarters. They did not find Nightfear, but they did find a few things of interest, including a letter written by Nightfear which proved that Nightfear had been in the process of spreading his hierarchical mind beyond the confines of the mountain.

The band spent a considerable amount of time searching the area, and it eventually became obvious that Nightfear was not going to be found anywhere nearby. In an effort to gather more information, Nero placed his magical headband on the head of the gnome wizard that Book had feebleminded earlier in the battle in order to increase the gnome’s intelligence so that he could answer the band’s questions. The gnome, whose name was Oasen, was able to provide some information, but did not know the whereabouts of Nightfear. Book even cast a locate object spell, hoping to locate the staff wielded by Nightfear’s lieutenant Kabyle, and turned up nothing. By this point, it was late in the evening, so the band decided to stop for the night and rest up in one of Nightfear’s rooms as it was well away from the more commonly patrolled areas of the complex and would be easily defended. In fact, it proved to be such an ideal location that the entire remainder of the night passed without incident.

Early on the following morning, Moonday, the 3rd day of Wealsun, the band decided to resume their search for Nightfear. So, dividing up into two groups once again, they used dimension door spells to return to one of the rooms near the entrance of the complex. There, Book cast another locate object spell and this time was successful in locating a staff nearby. As it turned out, the staff that he located appeared to be in one of the rooms that had once been the headquarters of Spatterdock.

It made sense that Nightfear might retreat into an area that had recently been cleared out by the band and was beyond the Sea of Boiling Mud. But the band wanted to scout the area out before venturing across the boiling mud. So they moved towards the area, stopping short of the cavern of mud, where Book cast an arcane eye spell and sent it across. As the arcane eye got about halfway across the boiling mud, Book was momentarily alarmed when an eruption of mud occurred and his arcane eye suddenly went blind. He then realized that the arcane eye had only been covered in mud and it was a simple matter of spinning the eye quickly enough to shake some of the mud off. The arcane eye then continued on across the sea of mud and searched the area on the far side, finding no sign of any guardians or traps.

The band then spent some time casting spells and preparing themselves for the battle to come in the hopes that they could eliminate Nightfear as quickly as possible. With that goal in mind, Gildor cast a dimensional anchor spell into Nero’s ring of spell storing in the hopes that he would have a better chance of using the spell to prevent Nightfear from escaping once again. When they felt they were ready, the band used dimension door spells to take them to the room just outside of the room where they believed Nightfear to be. There, Dravos quickly and quietly searched for traps on the door and finding none, he tried to open the door but found that it was locked. Realizing that Dravos’ attempt to open the door might have alerted the occupants within the room, Book cast a knock spell on the door. But it failed to work. So Nero cast a knock spell, which finally had the desired effect. With the door now unlocked, the rest of the band opened it and looked inside.

There, in what had once been Spatterdock’s quarters, was Nightfear and Kabyle. Kabyle was the first to react to the band’s intrusion into the room, and he turned to reach for his staff which leaned against a shelf in the far corner. But Ael struck him with one of his cold bombs, which momentarily stunned him and prevented him from reaching the staff. Then other members of the band rushed into the room and began attacking the gnomes, causing severe wounds to both of them, while Gildor summoned an extra-planar ally to fight for him. Unfortunately, because Nero had to cast the knock spell in order for the band to enter the room, he was not quick enough to cast the dimensional anchor spell on Nightfear. Nightfear, then realizing he would not get a second chance to save himself from certain death, used a magic device of his own and spoke a command word to make his escape. And so, for the third time in less than a day, Nightfear had teleported away, managing to keep himself alive so that he could fight another day.

But the same could not be said for his lieutenant Kabyle, who, having been defeated once already by the Righteous Vanguard and nearly died at their hands, knew perfectly well that to continue fighting them would certainly be the end for him. So, rather than pursue a hopeless cause, he chose instead to surrender to the band, whose initial reaction was unmistakably that of disappointment, not only because they would, for the time being, be denied the opportunity to kill either of the two gnomes, but also because they had allowed Nightfear to escape them yet again.

The band’s only consolations were that they had captured Kabyle and that Nightfear had left his spell book behind. A thorough search of the room produced nothing else of any use to them. So Book cast a domination spell on Kabyle and when he was certain that Kabyle was under his control, he forced Kabyle to read one of the Keraptis fireball scrolls, thereby making the gnome a more useful tool for him.

Now with two enemy gnomes under their control, one of which was still feebleminded and therefore of absolutely no threat to them, the band made their way back across the Sea of Boiling Mud and headed towards the entrance into the complex. A locate object spell cast in search of Nightfear’s unique appearing robes produced no results. And an augury spell cast by Gildor indicated that it would be of no benefit to look for Nightfear back at his quarters. So, assuming that Nightfear would eventually reappear at some point, the band was left with little choice but to move on to their next objective, which meant venturing into the next level below them.

With this goal in mind then, the band took the spiral stairs leading down to what they were led to believe would be the so-called Indoctrination Center, where they expected to find the False Keraptis known as Killjoy. At the bottom of the stairs however, they entered a long lava tube where they encountered two humanoid creatures made out of fungus. Fortunately though, they were able to defeat these creatures from a distance and not allow them attack back.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 10

It was in the early evening of Starday, the 1st day of Wealsun, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard killed Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, and her swamp guardians. Following her death, the band searched her and her hut for anything of value and identified any magic items and potions they found. When they were done it was well passed sundown. So rather than spend the night in her hut, or try to make it back to their mounts which waited for them at the edge of the swamp, they decided once again to make use of Book’s secure shelter spell and bed down for the night in a shelter that Book created next to the witch’s hut.

The night passed by uneventfully. So the following morning, on Sunday the 2nd, the band set out and headed back through the swamp to the place where they had left their mounts. To their great relief, they had no encounters along the way, and even more importantly, they found their mounts still in good health and in much the same condition as they had left them the day before. They then mounted up and rode south back to Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket. Their good fortune continued as they had no difficulties along the way, and they arrived at the cave later that afternoon, where Otus, Sonda and Echab were there waiting for them. The band explained to the three at the cave what had taken place during their absence, then set out on foot back to the entrance to White Plume Mountain known as the Wizard’s Mouth. A few hours later, again with no encounters along the way, the band arrived at the cave entrance. It was about 5 o’clock then when the band made their way inside the mountain.

As before, the band headed down the spiral stairs that were set at the rear of the cave. But this time, being concerned that the gnomes of the mountain might have a trap set up for them, they had Nicholas scout out ahead with no light source and using only his darkvision to guide the way. As they had half expected, the gnomes did indeed have a trap set up. But Nicholas failed to notice the trip wire that was placed higher up in the stairs than it had been previously…that is, until it was too late. Having already snapped the trip wire, with no noticeable effect, Nicholas returned to his companions, telling them what had occurred, and asked Dravos to look at the wire. But after examining the wire, Dravos determined that what ever purpose it had, it was already too late to do anything about it, for he believed it may have been placed there as part of an early warning system.

So the band proceeded on and entered the chamber at the bottom of the stairs. Just like the first time they ventured into this room, a small voice called out from behind a wall and told them to halt and identify themselves. This time, the band answered by saying that they were followers of the true Keraptis, a safe if not rather vague response.

The gnomes appeared to recognize their voices, as the band in return, recognized the voice of the gnome lieutenant Kabyle. The band also heard the sound of several gnomes whispering from behind the wall where the murder holes were. Then Kabyle spoke out again, telling them to wait there for a moment. Several moments then passed while the gnomes continued whispering among themselves. So the band, feeling a bit uneasy about the situation, then began calling out and asking questions of their own. But no one responded to them. Perhaps sensing that the gnomes were merely stalling for time, the band decided to continue on their way and started heading for the door to the east.

But they did not get far before another voice called out from behind the wall and told them to stop. This one they also recognized as the false Keraptis known as Nightfear. Nightfear then asked the band about their progress in acquiring any of the four weapons of power and as previously discussed the band responded with vague denials and half-truths, implying that they had not managed to collect any of the weapons just yet. Nightfear, however, clearly did not believe them, saying that he knew they had the hammer Whelm.

At this point, it began to appear as if the band was about to be attacked. But several members of the band somehow sensed it and were able to beat the gnomes to the punch. While some of the band members took defensive actions, Ael summoned a swarm of insects and sent them through the murder holes to attack the gnomes. This was soon followed by Book who cast a wall of fire spell just beyond the wall, which severely burned most of the gnomes but also destroyed the swarm of insects. Gildor followed this up with his fireball spell which he sent into the room beyond the murder holes. Most of the wall of fire did not last long however, as it was soon extinguished with some kind of frost spell. Then Nightfear cast two spells in quick succession. The first one, which Nero tried unsuccessfully to counter, was apparently a mind-affecting spell of some kind. But it had no effect on the band as each of the band members was able to fight off its power. The second spell was a black tentacles spell, which only had a limited effect on the band as those who were initially caught in it were soon able to escape it.

Book then cast a wall of force spell beyond the wall with the murder holes and with it effectively eliminated any further attacks from the gnomes. The gnomes then were left with only one way out of the room beyond the murder holes, and it was a relatively easy matter for the band to wade in and kill them all. Most of them died in the explosions from the bombs that Ael tossed into the room with great precision. But as the lesser gnomes were being eliminated, it gradually became apparent that Nightfear was no longer taking an active part in the battle. When all of the gnomes in the room had been killed, a thorough search of the place revealed that Nightfear and Kabyle were no where to be found and had more than likely magically fled from the room as soon as it became clear that the Righteous Vanguard had a decisive upper hand in the battle. Realizing that Nightfear now represented a greater threat to the band than any other entity within the complex and surmising that he was now considerably weakened, the band agreed to go after him and finish him off.

Believing that Nightfear would have probably retreated backed to his personal chambers beyond the lake of steam, the band realized they would have to deal with all of the traps along the way, as teleporting directly there would have been far too risky. Fortunately they recalled that they could avoid the first trapped corridor by taking a longer route through the area previously held by Spatterdock. So off in that direction they went. They did not get far however, before Dravos and Nicholas fell victim to a pit trap that they were not aware of despite having been over the area before. Nicholas managed to dodge to the side and avoided falling into the pit. But Dravos was not so lucky and ended up at the spike-lined bottom of the 30’ pit.

After retrieving Dravos from the pit and tending to his injuries, the band continued on and soon made it to the room where the fungus garden was growing. Upon entering this chamber, Nicholas spotted a gnome hiding out in the fungus garden 15 feet below them. The gnome timidly called out to the band asking them who they were. The band told the gnome to stand out in the open where they could see him more clearly and when the gnome complied, they noticed that the gnome had several mushroom like growths on his skin. The gnome told the band his name was Thallo and that it was his responsibility to tend to the fungus garden and produce the food for Spatterdock’s followers. But the gnome was clearly confused and kept asking the band where everyone was. Then he began to mutter something about fiber growth and cave humidity. Realizing that the gnome must have spent too much time alone in the fungus garden and wasn’t quite right in the head, they came to the conclusion that the gnome posed no real threat to them, even though Dravos sensed evil in him. The band was in a bit of a hurry, so they just left the gnome standing there and continued on their way.

Soon they made it to the secret door that led back into Nightfear’s territory. Nero tossed a couple of forceballs into the rooms where the gnolls served as guards and quickly eliminated that threat. Then the band moved on to the room where the pits and the slippery floor were. At this point, Nero cast a dimension door spell, bringing with him, Kieranen, Book and Gildor. Nero took them to a corridor on the far side of the trapped chamber. From there, Book cast a web spell on the five gnome guards stationed in a nearby room and Gildor cast a silence spell to prevent any spell casting from them. The gnomes were then easily killed and with that done, the four band members used the boards that were kept in that room to quickly fashion a bridge in the trapped room, thus allowing the rest of the band to join them.

Before moving on however, and while the band was still in the corridor, the secret door in that corridor opened up and out stepped Kuhlefaran, the human cleric of Boccob and member of the Resistance, whom they had met once before. She had apparently been watching through the peep hole and now wanted to know how the band’s efforts were going. As before, the band was in a bit of a hurry. So Nero, who was anxious to be rid of her, told her they had no success yet, but had no time to talk just then.

The band then quickly made their way to the southern edge of the lake of steam and piled into one of the boats there. With them, they brought along one of the gnome guards from the previous room, which they had spared and which Book had cast a domination spell on and was now in control of. They set out onto the lake and used one of the many jars of red liquid collected by Nero, pouring it into the lake to keep the kelp devils at bay. A short way out onto the lake, they spotted the two gnome archers on the west bank preparing to fire flaming arrows at them. But Nicholas solved this problem by casting a wind wall spell which completely rebuffed any arrows shot at them.

A short while later, the band arrived at the north eastern edge of the lake. After making a few preparations, they climbed out of the boat and cautiously proceeded towards the door to the east. Then, using his horn of fog, Kieranen created a cloud of fog to cover their advance and Book sent his dominated gnome ahead of them. Suddenly another cloud of fog appeared over the gnome and the next instant the gnome dropped dead. Then two balls of fire came out of the fog and exploded in the midst of the band, the first one being extremely powerful and causing severe injuries to the band. Already several members of the band were badly wounded and the cloud of poisonous fog was slowly advancing towards them. Book then grabbed Nicholas, Gildor and Ael and cast a dimension door spell, sending them to the passageway just beyond the door. Nero likewise cast a dimension door spell, taking with him Kieranen and Dravos. But unlike the previous four, Nero took himself and his two companions into the audience chamber just beyond the passageway.

Now with the band divided, each of the two groups found themselves faced off with different challenges. In the passageway, the group there was suddenly being attacked by gnolls from both directions. To the south was also a gnome which cast a magic missile spell at Ael that was absorbed by a magic ring he was wearing. And to the north was Nightfear, who cast a spell creating a magical sphere of protection around himself, and Kabyle, who used a staff to cast an ice storm over the four band members in the hallway. Book then hit the gnome spell caster to the south with a feeblemind spell as Ael blasted the gnolls to the north with a bead of force, which also created a globe of force that blocked the passageway. Gildor then channeled positive energy around himself, which healed up some of the injuries suffered by his companions.

Meanwhile, in the audience chamber, the three there were suddenly being attacked by four large ogres. Kieranen, Nero and Ael combined their efforts and managed to kill two of them.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 9

On the afternoon of Starday, the 1st day of Wealsun, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard entered the Great Swamp northwest of White Plume Mountain in search of a dwelling known as Thingizzard’s Hut. It was believed that Thingizzard, also known as the Witch of the Fens, was possibly in possession of the magical trident called Wave, which, according the efreeti Nix, the band needed in order to bring about the return of the true Keraptis, which, in turn, would put an end to the spread of the False Kerapti that threatened to erupt from the volcanic mountain. Having just defeated a small band of bog mummies about halfway to their destination inside the swamp, the band was resuming their trek through the murky waters and moss-covered trees, when the skies above them grew dark and cloudy, rumbling with the distant thunder. Before long, a light rain began to fall, making sure to soak any part of them that was not already thoroughly drenched with swamp water and dampening their spirits even further.

About an hour after their confrontation with the bog mummies, and with the rain still pouring down around them and the rumble of thunder now much closer than before, the band of adventurers finally came within view of the small ramshackle structure that Nero had seen earlier when he flew overhead to survey the area. It was a windowless hut perhaps only 20 feet on each side, built of twisted wood and reeds and shingled with peat. A solid but weathered door of iron bound wood and a small chimney at the center of the hut were the only visible means of access.

Seeing no signs of guardians or current inhabitants, and perhaps tempted with the desire to find any kind of shelter from the pouring rain and the approaching lightning, the band waded up to the small island in the swamp, on which the hut was situated, and moved towards the front door. There they knocked on the door and waited for a response, but got no answer. They knocked again, and still received no answer. They checked the door and found that it was locked. So Nero cast a knock spell and was immediately rewarded with the satisfying click of a lock being turned. .

But as they were about to open the door, several members of the band noticed a few short humanoid figures coming out of the surrounding swamp and approaching the hut. Upon closer examination, the approaching figures appeared to be those of gnomes that were very pale and bloated, much like the bog mummies they had battled earlier. Some members of the band, the spell casters, turned to launch explosive spells at the perceived threats that slowly encroached upon them, while those band members with missile weapons likewise attacked. While his companions were dealing with this, Dravos meanwhile, opened the door to the hut and crept inside.

Inside the hut, Dravos saw that it was divided into two rooms, the first of which was filled with hundreds of unusual items, including root bundles, flasks of colored liquid, and live swamp animals in cages, all hanging from the ceiling, while clay and glass vessels crowded shelves along the walls. A neatly arranged collection of tools lay upon a small worktable near a large iron cauldron at the center of the room and a curtain cordoned off another room where a mossy cot was placed. There was however, no sign of Thingizzard.

As Dravos looked about the interior of the hut, his companions continued to attack the slowly advancing bog mummies, which were soon joined by more of the undead creatures, most of which were man-sized and consequently faster moving. Gildor was able to confirm the undead status of the approaching creatures as he blasted several of them with a wave of positive energy. Gradually, the bog mummies were destroyed, but as they fell more of the undead creatures quickly appeared to take their places. And as the bog mummies drew nearer, a few members of the band became victims to the overwhelming sense of despair that emanated from the ancient undead.

Then, much to the band’s dismay, the bog mummies were joined by an ally far more threatening than all of them combined could ever hope to be. It was none other than the Witch of the Fens herself and it was clear that she took great offense at having her home broken into and her undead guardians attacked. Perhaps at some point, it may have been possible for the band to negotiate with the witch for possession of the trident that they sought. But if so, that point had now passed, as Thingizzard now apparently thought only of dealing a measure of punishment on those who had dared to enter her home uninvited and, unprovoked, destroyed her pet mummies.

She began her attack on the band by calling down from the sky a bolt of lightning that struck three members of the band which were gathered close together. Then she called up the most fearsome of her guardians, a humanoid construct made of swamp mud and sticks. It rose up from the murky waters, standing twice the height of a man, and moved as she commanded, towards the band with the single-minded purpose of destroying them. She then cast a spell and suddenly a shimmering cage of force barely visible sprung into being and threatened to trap several members of the band. Most of the band was able to dodge out of the way before the forcecage was fully formed. But Dravos and Gildor were not quick enough and became trapped within the cage.

Book and Nero attacked the witch with spells, but due to the witch’s resistance to magic, their spells had no effect on her. Dravos meanwhile cast a spell that enabled those of his companions who had fallen victim to the mummies despair to shake off their fear and rejoin in the battle. One of these was Kieranen, who had used his Crystal of the Eight to summon forth a disembodied hand to wield his sword, thus making it easier for him to reach his adversaries in the swampy terrain. With Kieranen back in the battle, he focused on taking down the remaining bog mummies. Nicholas however, was left with the difficult task of facing the bog golem, which chose him as his first opponent.

The bog golem, which suddenly began moving faster than one might expect for a creature its size, marched up to Nicholas and began pounding on him. Then it vomited forth a spray of mud that not only struck the ranger, but splashed into the nearby forcecage, creating a large area of very slippery mud that Gildor and Dravos also had to contend with.

As the battle raged on, Thingizzard continued to call down bolts of lightning as she cast spells. Soon, however, she charged in and attacked Kieranen with a wicked looking three-pronged dagger. Nero, at this point, tried to stop the witch by casting a black tentacles spell. Kieranen was able to avoid being grappled by the tentacles, while the witch was not. Unfortunately, the very next moment, Thingizzard then escaped the black tentacles by suddenly turning ethereal and disappearing from the battle.

For a short while then, the band was faced with only the bog golem and the bog mummies. Most of the bog mummies had been destroyed by this point and the few that remained would not be standing for much longer. The bog golem was likewise taking its share of the damage from the combined efforts of Nicholas and Ael, who was, as usual, launching a series of bombs at both the mummies and the golem. But Nicholas was, in turn, taking a severe beating from the bog golem and it soon became clear that he could not last much longer against the giant swamp creature. Gildor did what he could by channeling positive energy and healing up his companions and at one point managed to save Nicholas from certain death when the bog golem nearly crushed the life out of him. Nero finally had to rescue the fallen ranger with a risky maneuver where he rushed in, grabbed the ranger and used a dimension door to whisk the ranger and himself away to safety. The bog golem then turned to attack Kieranen, spewing forth another spray of slippery mud at the elven warrior, who took up the offensive on the giant construct and hacked away at it. Moments later, the bog golem was finally taken down by one more of Ael’s bombs.

At about the same time Thingizzard returned to the battle, now almost completely healed from any wounds she had received earlier. This time she appeared directly behind Book and struck him with her hand which placed upon him a curse that greatly lowered his intelligence. Despite Book’s lower intelligence, he was still a very capable spell caster, though his spells were now less difficult to resist. The witch then continued to attack the enchanter with her dagger and her wicked bite. Gildor however, managed to thwart the witch’s plans by casting a silence spell in the area, and prevented her from casting any spells. At about the same time, Kieranen sent his sword, still wielded by the disembodied hand, over to the witch and struck her with a mighty blow.

Thingizzard, now frustrated by her inability to cast any spells, made the decision to move beyond the silenced area. When she did however, she dropped her guard allowing those whom she backed away from the chance to get past her defenses. Her enemies then took full advantage of this opportunity and pounced on her with great effect. Thingizzard then stumbled just outside the silenced area, turned as if to cast a spell, and suddenly fell.

Upon seeing Thingizzard drop to the ground, the band was clearly elated, for it was indeed a very tough battle against an adversary who had managed to survive, according to legends, for more than 1300 years. But their victory was made all the more sweet, when they saw the witch’s three-pronged dagger suddenly grow and assume the shape of an ornate trident. It was in fact the trident called Wave, which the band had been in search of and it apparently had been disguised as a dagger by some enchantment placed upon it by the witch who had recently come into possession of it. Judging by the appearance of the first five bog mummies to arrive at the hut following the band, it would seem that the gnomes who were entrusted to hide the trident outside the mountain, had made it to the swamp, but had, at some point, run afoul of Thingizzard and soon after were added to her collection of bog mummies.

With the battle now over, the forcecage soon disappeared and Gildor could tend to the wounded. Even the curse placed on Book was removed with a remove curse potion and any disease caused by Thingizzard’s bite wise likewise remedied. As the injuries were being healed, other members of the band looked over the dead and gathered from them anything of value. Then the band crowded into Thingizzard’s Hut and searched it for anything of value, which included numerous magical potions obviously concocted by the witch. Ael spent some time then identifying the potions and separating those that would be beneficial to the band from those that would be harmful.

Soon the sun began to set and the swamp around them grew dark. So the band did what they could to make themselves comfortable, which included drying themselves off as much as possible. For tonight they would be spending the night inside the witch’s hut, while at the same time they would have to hope that their mounts, which were three miles away at the edge of the swamp, could make it through the night without harm.

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.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 7

Late in the morning of Earthday, the 27th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, after having been forced to retreat by a band of subsumed gnomes under the control of the False Keraptis known as Spatterdock, and then finding another route into the territory controlled by Spatterdock’s forces, the Righteous Vanguard managed to defeat the same group of subsumed gnomes with a decisive counterstrike and soon afterwards blasted their way through two more rooms also containing groups of subsumed gnomes. With a number of their spells still working to aid them, despite the fact that Kieranen and Nicholas were hampered by a slow spell, the band wanted make the most of the time still remaining on these spells, as well as take advantage of their sudden advancement deep into the heart of Spatterdock’s territory. So onward they pressed, throwing caution to the wind, and quickly followed a passageway leading north where they hoped to continue their recent success.

As they had expected, following the map given to them by Nicholas’ father Vaerdal, the passageway soon turned to the east and then again back to the south, where it then opened up into a large natural cavern that echoed with strange plopping and splattering noises. Here, the floor of the passageway came to an abrupt end at a ledge that loomed fifty feet over a vast sea of boiling mud. A thick, earthy odor wafted through the chamber as eruptions of mud periodically exploded from below and coated the walls and ceiling of the cavern in mud some one hundred feet above. Far across the cavern was another ledge and a passageway that led from it into the darkness beyond. In between the two ledges was a series of nine wooden disks each about four feet in diameter and suspended from a chain attached to the ceiling of the cavern. Obviously intended as a means to traverse across the sea of boiling mud, the mud-covered bridge of disks looked quite risky at the very least and that was without the threat of being struck by globs of boiling mud along the way.

The band quickly decided they would much prefer an alternate means of reaching the far ledge and came up with the plan of having Nero dimension door himself along with Kieranen, Nicholas and Dravos, while Ael would utilize a potion of flying and Gildor would use his wings of flying. Nero, Kieranen, Nicholas and Dravos were the first to reach the far ledge. But as soon as they appeared on the ledge, one of them spotted a symbol engraved upon the wall, which suddenly began to glow. A powerful wave of magical energy then passed through each of them, threatening to stun them all. Fortunately, each of them was able to fight off the magical effect and remained ready and alert. However, as they would soon discover, this was only the beginning of a barrage of magical attacks launched by Spatterdock and his last remaining dozen of subsumed gnomes, which had been there waiting for them.

Invisibly hidden at the far end of the passageway, Spatterdock, in the form of a halfling, and his gnomes suddenly appeared just as several spells were launched. Most of these spells though caused no harm to the band as they were able to fight off their effects. One such spell Kieranen was able to dodge out of the way of, as he was almost trapped within a sphere of magical force. One spell however, did have a devastating effect on the band as Nero fell victim to a feeblemind spell. Only his magical helm saved him from becoming almost completely mindless, though he was still only able to attack with his mace having no ability to cast spells or use magic items. Once Spatterdock’s first wave of spells had been launched, another creature appeared at his side as it too attacked the band. This creature was the vampire known as Ctenmiir, whom Nicholas’ father had encountered when he visited the mountain 20 years before. In the vampire’s possession was the magical hammer called Whelm. He threw the magical hammer at the band and fortunately missed his target. But the hammer then suddenly vanished and reappeared back in the hands of the vampire, ready to be thrown again for another attack. Meanwhile, as all of this was taking place, Gildor and Ael were flying across the cavern trying to dodge blobs of boiling mud as they shot up towards the ceiling.

With their enemies now clearly in sight, the Righteous Vanguard was then able to react to the sudden attack, some of whom took defensive measures, while others went on the offensive. In return, Spatterdock and his subsumed gnomes continued tossing spells at the band while Ctenmiir continued throwing the magical hammer at them. Fortunately for the band, none of their enemies’ attacks at this point were particularly effective. Then Gildor used his recently acquired spell-like ability to cast a fireball and managed to wipe out all of the subsumed gnomes in a single blow. Soon after this, Nero, being unable to do much of anything else, and his familiar Raaz, who realized that something was wrong with her master but did not know what, moved in with Dravos to attack their adversaries in hand-to-hand combat.

With the loss of his subsumed gnomes, the spell casting ability of Spatterdock was greatly diminished. But his next spell proved to be very effective in turning the tide of the battle in his favor, as he then threw up an invisible wall of force, cutting Nero and Dravos off from his companions. More importantly, the rest of the band was unable to affect the battle or come to the aid of Nero and Dravos who now had to face their two enemies alone. And with Nero and Raaz being only a minor threat to them, they focused their attacks on Dravos. It did not take long for Dravos to fall, having been drained of life energy by the vampire’s evil touch. Spatterdock and Ctenmiir then turned their attention to Nero.

But it was at about that time, when Ael made a desperate attempt at saving his newfound friends’ lives by concocting an elixir which would normally be beyond his ability, but which he had recently been studying. This elixir mimicked a spell known as a magic jar and it allowed him to place his life force within a gem from which he could then attempt to change places with another being.

His first two attempts at changing places with another being, which he tried on Spatterdock and Ctenmiir, were both unsuccessful. But his third attempt, which he made on Nero, met with success. Suddenly, Ael now found himself within the body of Nero, while Nero’s feebleminded psyche was trapped within a gem and cut off from Raaz, which panicked the poor familiar even further. It was Ael’s hope at this point, that he would be able to make use of an item or two on Nero’s body and somehow save him.

But before he got the opportunity to do so, Nicholas suddenly rose up out of the floor in the form of an earth elemental, which he was able to assume with the aid of his magical necklace. Nicholas also shined with the brightness of daylight, thanks to a spell cast upon him by Gildor before Nicholas made his way through the stone and beneath the wall of force. The light emanating from Nicholas was so intense in fact, that it caused the vampire Ctenmiir to quickly back away in utter distress. Nicholas then took advantage of the vampire’s vulnerability and, making great use of his Crystal of the Eight, cut the vampire down with a blinding series of devastating strikes. Suddenly the vampire was no more – reduced to a misty cloud of vapor that quickly wisped away under the crack of a nearby door.

In desperation, Spatterdock reverted to his actual form, that of an ogre mage, and cast a charm monster spell on Ael, now in the body of Nero. To his great relief, the spell actually worked on Ael, and he ordered Ael to defend him against the attacks of Nicholas. Ael then had no choice but to try and keep Nicholas from harming Spatterdock, both of whom he now perceived as trusted allies. So Ael grabbed on to Nicholas in the hopes that he could hold on to him. Spatterdock then cast a deep slumber spell on Nicholas and once again was very pleased when the ranger suddenly dozed off in the arms of Nero!

Looking around now, Spatterdock realized he was no longer in immediate danger. But the wall of force would not be up for much longer. So he told his newly acquired ally Ael to save his companion Dravos, whose unconscious body had been lying on the floor for some time now while his life blood slowly drained away. No doubt, Spatterdock believed Dravos would be of more use to him alive than dead, for he would need to create another batch of subsumed minds. Ael, quickly checked Dravos’ vital signs and seeing that he was still alive, though just barely, he rummaged around in Nero’s pockets and found a healing potion which he then administered to Dravos. It was enough to stop Dravos’ bleeding and keep him alive, but not enough for him to regain consciousness. Spatterdock then had Ael drag Dravos’ body back into an adjacent room while he carried Nicholas’ sleeping body and closed the door behind them.

Kieranen and Gildor meanwhile, were unable to get beyond the wall of force, and so were forced to watch in helplessness as their fellow band members were taken away. All they could do was to prepare themselves for when the wall of force finally came down, as it was now up to them to kill Spatterdock and save the lives of their companions. Fortunately, they did not have long to wait, though it almost certainly seemed long to them.

When the wall of force did finally come down, Kieranen and Gildor charged down the passageway and burst through the door where Spatterdock was waiting for them. The ogre mage then blasted them with one of his last remaining spells, a cone of cold, catching Gildor with a direct hit and destroying some of his possessions in the process, including his wings of flying. Ael, still under the influence of the charm spell, tried to hold Kieranen back, but was easily pushed aside. Kieranen, then using the full powers of his oath blade and all of his skills as a warrior, fell upon the ogre mage and with the aid of Gildor, quickly dropped him.

With the False Keraptis known as Spatterdock now dead, the charm spell on Ael came to an end, and Nicholas was awakened. They then retrieved Ael’s body from the passageway, and Ael resumed his proper place allowing Nero to return to his body. Dravos was healed up and regained consciousness. Then they cured Nero’s feeblemindedness with a rare heal all potion that Kieranen had been saving. Gildor continued to heal the party’s injuries while the rest of the band looked around in Spatterdock’s quarters. There they found a coffin in which they discovered the prone and virtually helpless form of the vampire Ctenmiir. Kieranen quickly fashioned a stake and drove it through the vampire’s chest as the sunlight still emanating from Nicholas’ body gradually burned the undead creature into a pile of ash.

Soon, all was back to normal for the band with the exception of Dravos who was still suffering from the negative energy attack of the vampire. Lying on the floor they found the hammer Whelm. So Nero opened up his portable hole and kicked the hammer into it, as nobody wanted to touch it. In Spatterdock’s quarters they also found some very valuable books as well as those magic items found on the ogre mage’s body including his huge great sword. They also found a collection of maps showing various parts of the mountain complex.

At this point, the band was seriously considering resting for a long time so they could regain spells. But it then occurred to them that it was still early in the day and that they had not found Nicholas’ brother Echab. Looking at one of the maps, they realized that there was only a small portion of Spatterdock’s territory where they had not been to yet, and it seemed very likely that they might find Echab there. However, it also meant that they would have to cross over the sea of boiling mud to get there. They looked through what items and spells they had remaining then and were able to come up with a plan to get them safely across. This time, Nero would dimension door himself and three others, while Nicholas would assume the form of an air elemental and another made use of a potion of gaseous form.

With this plan successfully completed, the band then made their way back to the second room where they had encountered a group of subsumed gnomes and took the passageway that led south. Soon they came to a small room that was empty save for a table and a few chairs. On the far side of the room was a door with an iron grill in it. They checked the door and found that it was magically locked.

So Nero cast a knock spell on it and unlocked it. When they opened the door they found five bodies hanging from wires that were attached to the ceiling. Appearing at first as if all the bodies were dead, they then realized that two of them were still alive and that one of them was Nicholas’ brother Echab. Naturally the two brothers were happy to see each other once again and there were many questions they had for each other. But first they had to unfasten the two living captives from the ceiling.

The other prisoner appeared to be a woman who had obviously been held captive much longer than Echab. She told them her name was Snarla and she appeared to think that Kieranen was somebody called Burket. She kept calling him by that name despite his insistence that he was not Burket. Dravos detected her alignment and found that she was chaotic evil, which he let his other companions secretly know.

Both Echab and Snarla had magical armbands welded on to their wrists and Echab explained to them that the armbands were put there to prevent them from using any magic or shape-changing abilities. Echab also told them that in the adjacent room was a sphinx who served as their jailer and torturer and encouraged the band to deal with her before leaving. So the band opened the door and was immediately introduced to the sphinx named Sapho, who appeared to be in poor condition herself. Upon discovering that Spatterdock was dead, Sapho genuinely seemed to be pleased and pleaded to the band that she was forced to torture the prisoners or be tortured herself. And despite the fact that Dravos detected her as being neutral evil, the band apparently had some sympathy towards her. The sphinx, which was very fond of riddles and convinced the band to answer one of her riddles, told them in secret that Snarla was actually a werewolf and provided a little more information about herself. She also removed the armband from Echab, though they refused to remove the armband from Snarla. In return, they agreed to let both Snarla and Sapho go free.

They also learned that, unfortunately, Echab had also read one of the partial imprint scrolls of Keraptis – the magic missile spell. So it was discovered that he was in the same predicament as Gildor, and it gave the band yet another reason for finding the means to stop the spreading influence of the False Kerapti.

The band agreed, at this point, that it was now time for them to go and retreat back to the city of Greyhawk where they could fix a number of problems and seek out the advice of the Circle of Eight. On their way out, the band passed through the territory of Nightfear once again and made sure to wear their armbands. They told the gnome Kabyle, who was aware that the band had attacked the forces of Spatterdock, that they still had not recovered any of the four weapons, despite the fact that they had wiped out Spatterdock and all of his forces. Telling them that they needed to tend to other matters such as the rescuing of their companion, they assured the gnomes that they would be returning and exited the mountain.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 6

On the morning of Earthday, the 27th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard, after having spent the night resting in a chamber deep within the interior complex of White Plume Mountain, began to prepare for their second day inside the mountain. Unfortunately, their rest had not gone completely undisturbed, and Nicholas and Dravos were both still paralyzed as the result of an attack from a particularly powerful ghoul, which snuck into the room through a secret door just a few hours before.

So the first item that Gildor had to attend to, after praying for spells, was to cast two of those spells on Nicholas and Dravos to remove their paralysis. Soon after this was accomplished, a patrol of gnomes loyal to the False Keraptis known as Nightfear, approached the band and told them the password for the day, which was ‘doorknob’, before moving on to spread the word to the rest of Nightfear’s followers.

As soon as the gnome patrol had passed, Nero addressed the band once again and spoke to them about a matter that he had evidently been pondering over during the night. It was now agreed by the band that their mission here was no longer just to rescue Nicholas’ brother Echab, but also to try and prevent the growth of the False Kerapti’s power before it spread beyond the mountain. According to Nix, the leader of the Resistance, the only way to do this was to gather all four of Keraptis’ enchanted weapons and use them to bring the real Keraptis back to the prime material plane. This was where Nero had his doubts, as he, like his companions, was not particularly enthusiastic, to put it mildly, about bringing the powerful wizard back to this world. So Nero put forth the proposal that the band should first concentrate on rescuing Echab, after which they should then teleport back to Magepoint or Greyhawk and consult the Circle of Eight to get their advice on how they should proceed. Nero’s companions were not entirely convinced that bringing the real Keraptis back was the only way to stop the False Kerapti, so they agreed with Nero’s proposal. But even if Nix had told them the truth, Gildor bravely announced that he would even consider sacrificing his own life if the only alternative was to bring the real Keraptis back.

With this proposal in mind, Nero, at the suggestion of Kieranen, wrote a note explaining the current situation inside White Plume Mountain and used his magical feather token of a bird to send the note to Tenser’s henchman Cymria in Magepoint. In the note Nero also added that they would visit them as soon as they had rescued Echab. So, having decided upon this course of action, the band then turned their attention to the more immediate task of rescuing Echab. Here again, they came up with a quick and simple plan, which they soon put into motion by heading in the direction of Spatterdock’s territory.

But, as we soon shall see, the band almost immediately encountered major difficulties with their plan and eventually even found themselves straying from their primary goal of rescuing Echab. From the room where they had spent the night, the band proceeded down the passageway that was lined on both sides by iron plates. When they got to the intersection leading off to Spatterdock’s territory, they removed their Nightfear armbands, while Nicholas and Dravos scouted ahead. Around the corner and some distance away they spotted a gathering of what appeared to be gnomes milling about, just as they had seen on the previous day. Moving stealthily and staying hidden in the shadows, the two scouts crept closer to get a better look, when suddenly a trap door opened up beneath Nicholas’ feet. Nicholas nimbly dodged to the side and caught himself at the edge of the pit, thus avoiding a nasty fall onto the spiked floor down below. But the trap doors made a loud clanging noise which clearly drew the attention of the gnomes at the end of the passageway.

These gnomes all called out as one and asked who was there and for whom did they work. Neither Nicholas nor Dravos gave any response, but instead remained perfectly silent and still perhaps believing the gnomes would quickly forget about the noise they had just heard. Obviously perceiving the noise as a threat of some kind, since no one made any attempt to negotiate with them, the gnomes suddenly unleashed a barrage of deadly spells aimed right at them and the area just beyond. A black tentacles spell, a cloudkill spell, a chain lightning and a fireball, all went off in quick succession, while at the same time a shimmering globe of protection went up around the gnomes.

Before they knew what was happening all members of the band were suddenly caught in a mass of tentacles, a choking fog and an explosion of magical energy. Clearly unprepared for such an onslaught of spells, the band immediately began calling out for a retreat. Nero managed to dispel the black tentacles, allowing everyone to fall back, then hastily launched a fireball of his own towards the gnomes. Unfortunately, due to the obscuring effect of the cloud around them, Nero could not be certain if his fireball had any effect on the gnomes, but he got the sense that it did not. To make matters worse, the band was forced to delay their retreat until the gnolls could disarm the trapped hallway, as some members of the band began to feel their metal items heating up. Once the trap was disarmed however, both the band and the gnolls were forced to move back well beyond the next couple of rooms in order to escape the advancing cloudkill spell. It clearly was not a good way to start the day.

But once the cloudkill had dissipated and after all of the band’s injuries were healed, they decided to take a different approach. Hoping that it would lead them in the right direction, they chose instead to go through the secret door where the ghoul had emerged from during the previous night. Just beyond the secret door, they discovered a room where several bodies had apparently been buried at one time. The bodies were no longer there, leading them to suspect that they belonged to the ghouls that once occupied the room.

From this room, they followed a large fissure that headed to the east and curved around until it eventually intersected with another passageway that once led to the boiling bubble room. The bulkhead doors that once sealed the chamber were now gone and it was obvious that the water had receded. So the band took a quick look in the large chamber where the giant crab had once guarded the trident Wave. Now there was only a ledge covered with bone shards and broken weaponry, beyond which lay a boiling lake of water. Here they discovered the tiny tracks of small creatures, but quickly moved back to the intersection to the south.

From here they continued following the fissure that led east but soon curved around to the south. At this point they came upon a passageway that had collapsed to the east and to the west. As they were nearing this area, an ogre approached them from the south, apparently curious and attracted by the band’s light sources. Upon seeing the band however, the ogre looked very uncertain and asked the band in crude common who they served. They band told the ogre that they did not serve Nightfear, but gave him no more than that. At that point, the ogre, clearly recognizing the fact that he was greatly outnumbered by a formidable looking force, suddenly lost its nerve and took off running back to the south. The band hastily pursued him, but fearful of blindly running into an ambush, they soon lost ground on the fleeing ogre.

Still they followed the obvious route taken by the ogre and made their through the fissure which continued south for a great distance and slowly descended in a gradual slope. Eventually the passageway turned back to the west and opened up into a large but empty chamber. On the far side of this chamber another crevice zigzagged at an even steeper angle downwards, then split into two passageways, one which leveled off and continued west, the other descending in an even steeper slope.

By this point, it should have been very obvious to the band that both of these passageways were leading well away from Spatterdock’s territory – and yet still they were tempted to continue on their present course, having now almost completely lost sight of the goal they had set for themselves just a short while before, which was to rescue Nicholas’ brother Echab. Fortunately, some small measure of common sense managed to spring forth from their easily distracted minds and they decided to retrace their path back to the intersection near the boiling lake chamber.

From here, they followed the passageway leading south, which at one time led to a room where kelpies once lived. It was obvious, as the band made their way down the passageway, that this was no longer the case. Dravos peeked into a side chamber along the way and was immediately attacked by some sort of mushroom-like creature that launched acidic spores at him. Fortunately, the spores only burned him a bit and did no further harm to him. So the band, seeing no point in investigating that room any further, moved on to the larger chamber to the south. Here, instead of a pool of water where kelpies might live, they found a garden of sorts where all manner of mushrooms and other fungi grew.

The floor of the chamber appeared to be about 15 feet below their level, save for a 10-foot wide walkway that curved around most of the western wall and ended at a door to the south. Taking up most of the chamber was a thick profusion of fungi, including puffballs, fronds, and toadstools. Uncertain of whether or not any of the fungus was harmful to them or if anything else was hidden in the thick growth down below, the band carefully tested and inspected the area until they were satisfied that the chamber presented no threats to them. Then they made their way to the southern door, having to leap over a ten-foot gap in the walkway along the way.

After safely reaching the door on the south side of the chamber, they realized that they were about to enter the room where the band of gnomes had been earlier, which had launched all those spells at them. Now, almost certain that those gnomes were a collection of subsumed minds through which Spatterdock could launch his spells, the band realized they could probably destroy them fairly easily as long as the could get the jump on them and not let them get any spells off. Still, they wanted to be very prepared in case things did not go as they hoped. So they, very quietly, cast a few spells on themselves and made certain other preparations. Then, when they felt they were ready, they crept up to the door while Nero slipped under the door in gaseous form and invisible.

Nero, seeing that the subsumed gnomes were still in the same position, launched a fireball at them easily destroying them all. But immediately following this, the sound of more gnomes could be heard on the far side of the eastern wall, which was lined with murder holes. Kieranen, having heard the fireball go off, threw open the door and ran to another door near the murder holes, which he also threw open. There, beyond that door, were nine more rather startled gnomes. Gildor then flew up behind Kieranen and cast a flamestrike spell into the room, instantly killing all nine gnomes.

The band still had a lot of time left on their preparatory spells at this point, and wanted to take advantage of it. So they quickly moved down the corridor leading further into Spatterdock’s territory and soon came to another room where nine more subsumed gnomes were waiting for them. Here again however, the band managed to get the jump on them and quickly downed them with their spells before the gnomes could attack back. Now on a decisive roll, the band continued on. Here they had a choice of either going north or going south. They chose to go north, realizing it would probably take them towards the most secure area of Spatterdock’s territory.

A short distance away, they came to another room, this one guarded by a flesh golem. Concerned that they would not be able to affect it with their spells the spellcasters backed off and let the warriors in the band take the lead. As they did so, a side door opened up and twelve more subsumed gnomes launched another wave of spells, including an ice storm, a lightning bolt that healed up some of the golem’s injuries while causing harm to the band, and a slow spell that Kieranen and Nicholas fell victim to. But Nero then took out the gnomes with a black tentacles spell and the golem was taken down soon afterwards.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 5

Shortly after entering White Plume Mountain, in the afternoon of Waterday, the 26th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard agreed, for the time being, to work with the gnomes who followed Nightfear, a creature that appeared to be one of four, so-called, ‘False Kerapti’ now vying for control of the complex hidden within the volcanic mountain. It was perhaps the band’s belief that it would serve them best initially, to negotiate with the gnomes under Nightfear in order to more easily gather information and even a possible ally, rather than to set out directly for the location where Nicholas’ brother Echab was believed to be held prisoner. They had been given directions that would lead them to Nightfear, as well as armbands and a password that would make it easier for them to move through the section of the complex held by Nightfear’s faction.

But as soon as the band left the room where they had struck their deal with the gnomes, Nero stopped the band so they could discuss in private exactly what their plans and objectives were at this point. It was quickly agreed among each of the band members that their only real goal inside White Plume Mountain was to rescue Echab, and that none of them had any interest in any of the four infamous weapons of power that were said to be located there. Though who can say with any real certainty what any of them were actually thinking and not revealing to their companions? Still, it was decided that the band, for whatever purpose, would follow the directions that the gnome lieutenant Kabyle had given them, and seek out their leader Nightfear.

To this end the band followed a corridor that led north where it soon opened on to a side tunnel that led to the east and quickly turned to the southeast. Dravos peered around the bend at this point and saw a large group of gnomes milling about some distance away. But it was decided that they should continue traveling north according to the directions given to them. However, they also noted that the corridor from here on was lined on both sides by strange metal plates that were mounted to the walls. Sensing a possible trap, the nature of which was possibly indicated by the notes given to them by Nicholas’ father, and drawn from when he visited the mountain some 20 years before, the band began calling out the password for the day, which was “footstool”, in the hopes that it would allow them to pass in safety.

After a short period, several gnolls appeared from around the corner at the far end of the passageway approximately 70 feet away. They seemed to peer towards the band with puzzled expressions for a brief moment and then nodded as if acknowledging them. One of them stepped back behind the corner and a metallic clank was soon heard, sounding as if a large lever had been thrown. One of the gnolls then waved at them to proceed.

Kieranen took the lead at this point and moved down the corridor alone and with caution. But he reached the far end without difficulty and when he arrived the gnolls there merely glared at him with a mixture of curiosity and distrust. Realizing that the gnolls had disarmed a trap in the corridor and that they had no intention of attacking, for they too wore the armbands of Nightfear, the remainder of the band quickly joined Kieranen at the far end of the corridor. One of the gnolls growled and sneered at Nicholas when the ranger gave the hated humanoid a dirty look. But this was as close as the two groups came to any violence between them and the band quickly moved on to a short flight of stairs on the far side of the room.

Once up the stairs and around a corner, they came to another door. Here they called out the password again and opened the door. The room beyond was long, relatively narrow and had two pits separating the floor into three sections with the middle section being incredibly slippery. After some cautious investigation, again using the notes they had been given as an aid, they realized that most magic would not work in the room and there was no way they could physically traverse the middle section of the room without falling into one of the pits, which they saw were full of rusty spikes. They did however discover that Gildor’s wings of flying worked normally in the room. So they resorted to an old trick of theirs and had everyone pile into Nero’s portable hole, which Gildor then flew with across to the far side of the room.

While the group was climbing out of the portable hole however, a door opened up nearby and out stepped several gnomes armed with drawn bows and arrows. The band quickly called out the password though and avoided any attack from the gnomes, who then asked the band why they had not called out the password sooner. After some discussion the band learned that the gnomes could not hear them from beyond the far door, and that if they had called out the password after entering the room, the gnomes would have used several long pieces of wood, which were stored in a nearby room, to quickly construct a bridge that would have spanned the two pits and the slippery section of the floor.

At this point however, none of this really mattered much, but it was good to know for future reference. So the band asked the gnomes more questions about what to expect in the various rooms beyond and were given some very useful advice concerning the next chamber which contained a large lake full of hot, steaming water. In this lake, according to the gnomes, were creatures that they called kelpie devils. These dangerous creatures could be avoided, the gnomes told them, by pouring a foul-smelling red liquid into the water which would act as a repellant. The band was told they could find a few jars of this liquid in each of the boats at the edge of the lake.

So the band moved on and soon came to the chamber where the lake was. There they found ten boats each capable of holding up to eight man-sized creatures. And just as they were told, each of these boats had a few jars of the red liquid. So Nero went through all ten boats and gathered up all but one jar in each of the boats for a total of more than a dozen.

Who can say why he gathered so much of the stuff, since it only took one jar per lake crossing to hold back the kelpie devils? But perhaps he was not aware of this at the time or maybe he had something devious in mind for the nasty red liquid. Whatever the case, the band piled into a boat and paddled across the lake without incident. On the far side of the lake, Nero gathered more jars of the red liquid from boats there, giving them a grand total of nearly 20 jars of the stuff!

After disembarking from the boat, the band immediately began calling out the password and they were soon met by several more gnomes and gnolls who opened a nearby door and allowed them to enter. Explaining that they had been sent by Kabyle to see Nightfear, the band was soon led into a sort-of audience chamber where they were finally introduced to the gnomes’ leader. Nighfear himself was a gnome wizard and appeared as an average-looking gnome albeit with a twisted smile and a demented gleam in his eyes. Clearly believing himself to be the ancient wizard Keraptis, he questioned the band on their purpose, who in turn explained to him that they had come to rescue a friend. As before, Nighfear offered to reward them with powerful magic if they would be willing to aid him in destroying the other False Kerapti. And as a sample of this powerful magic, he handed the group another scroll, this one with a fireball spell on it and told them that anyone, even a non-spellcaster, who read the scroll would be able to cast a fireball once per day as an innate ability. This awesome power was just too much for Gildor to pass up. So right then and there Gildor took the scroll and read it while the others continued negotiating with Nightfear.

In order for the band to prove their loyalty and commitment to him, Nightfear wanted the band to retrieve for him a powerful weapon that had been stolen from him. Nightfear then described to them the trident called Wave, of which the band was already vaguely familiar. Again apparently believing that allying themselves with Nightfear, or at least pretending to for the time being, would be to their advantage, the band agreed to retrieve the weapon for him. Before leaving him however, Nero conned Nightfear into giving them one more jar of the foul-smelling red liquid, though it still was not clear as to what purpose.

After leaving Nightfear and while rowing back across the lake of steaming water, the band once again discussed their options and objectives. And once again it was decided that they should go through with Nightfear’s mission, at least up to a point, if for no other reason than to gather more information. But they also agreed that they would not yet make the descision on whether or not to hand Wave over to Nightfear until they had actually acquired the weapon themselves. For now, they would infiltrate the territory presently controlled by the efreeti Nix and his band of rebels known as the Resistance. It was believed by Nightfear that they were responsible for the theft of Wave and that they now possessed it. The band however, saw this as an opportunity to learn a different perspective on the current situation within the mountain.

So, as directed by Nighfear, the band made their way to a third shore on the underground lake, where, again using the password, they came upon two more gnomes who were positioned to guard a secret door that led into the territory of the Resistance. The gnome guards showed the band the secret door and stepped back to allow the band to enter. Then, immediately after passing through the secret door and entering a narrow passageway, each of the band members removed their armbands and moved on with Dravos in the front looking for traps.

Moments later the band entered an area where a great deal of damage had been caused by cave-ins. Here they were suddenly greeted by a human female, average-looking in appearance but dressed in adventuring gear and carrying a flail. She asked the band their purpose and introduced herself as Kuhlefaran, a cleric of Boccob. The band again explained that they had come in search of a friend and gradually got around to telling her that they had been sent into that area by Nightfear though they did not truly serve him. Kuhlefaran was quick to believe their story and told them that they should speak with Nix. She offered to take them to Nix and without waiting for much of a response began guiding them through a rough crevice that led off to the south.

Soon they came to a huge chamber where the band came upon what was left of the inverted ziggurat that they had read about in their notes. Much of the place had been destroyed long ago and only the bones and outer shells remained of the monsters that once lived there. Kuhlefaran slowly led the band down the various levels of the ziggurat, each of which was ten feet high and difficult to descend, except for Gildor who was able to fly, to the central floor at the very bottom.

However, when Kuhlefaran and Gildor reached the bottom, they were both in for a big surprise as something very large and invisible suddenly attacked them. Fortunately, Dravos had a bag of dust of appearance which he tossed in the direction of the invisible monster, revealing a gigantic undead crab! The magic dust proved to be very helpful in this case making it easy for the band members to blast the monster with various spells and other very effective attack forms. So devastating were the band’s attacks in fact, that the undead crab never got another chance to attack beyond its first attacks.

When the monster was destroyed, Kuhlefaran insisted that it had not been there just a few hours before and claimed that one of the other False Kerapti must have placed it there. Some members of the band were hesitant to believe her, but whatever the case it seemed pretty evident that this was the crab that had once guarded the trident Wave in the boiling bubble room 20 years before.

After casting a curative on herself, Kuhlefaran continued leading the band down a set of stairs and through a tunnel where they came to a door with a metal grate in it. Kuhlefaran knocked on the door and she and the band were allowed to enter. Here the band briefly met the Resistance, which consisted of five gnomes, a human man and a woman, a male ogre and a crazy meenlock named Henri.

Having dealt with meenlocks before, the band was understandably not very trusting of this one. But Kuhlefaran quickly led the band on to another chamber where they finally came face-to-face with Nix. Nix appeared to be a large man with reddish-gold skin and tiny nubs on his forehead where horns might otherwise be. This was likely a disguise however, made to give him a less threatening appearance, for according to their notes, Nix was a member of an evil race of genies known as efreet. Despite his supposedly evil nature, Nix turned out to be a loquacious sort, conversing easily about the current happenings within White Plume Mountain and not unwilling to admit his true nature and form when confronted by the band. But then his motivations did not appear to be in conflict with those of the band’s either. Kuhlefaran told him what the band had told her and he asked them a few more questions about what they had seen so far, since entering the mountain. In return, Nix provided the band with a great deal of information, though they could not be certain if all of it was true.

According to Nix, the real Keraptis used the power of the four enchanted weapons to open a portal to a shadowy realm wherein he thought he might find eternal life. He had not returned since he stepped through it centuries before. Four beings currently claimed to be Keraptis, though all were imposters. To distinguish them, the Resistance had given them other names that seemed to fit their personalities: Nightfear, Spatterdock, Killjoy, and Mossmutter. Killjoy was Nix’s old friend Nox who had turned against him. All the False Kerapti wanted the four enchanted weapons of the original Keraptis – Nightfear claimed Wave, Spatterdock had Whelm, Killjoy had Blackrazor, and Mossmutter had Frostrazor. Nightfear, however, recently lost Wave to Resistance thieves, who then disappeared with the weapon. Nix also told the band that the False Kerapti acquired the personality, memories and abilities of the original wizard by memorizing a special scroll he referred to as a Keraptis or K: complete imprint spell. Because of this, each pretender headed a hierarchical mind that was far greater in power and scope than that of any normal being. He also warned that there were many partial imprint scrolls about as well, and that anyone who memorized one of these was doomed to become a subsumed mind under the control of one of the False Kerapti. Usually the process of reverting to a subsumed mind took a few months to occur, and he warned the group against reading any of these scrolls.

As Nix was telling the band about this, all members of the band gradually turned their heads towards Gildor, realizing that he had already read one of these scrolls, while Gildor in turn looked more and more like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Nix asked the band if they had acquired any of these scrolls yet and Nero claimed that they had only been given one, the K: magic missile scroll, which no one had read yet.

But the band asked Nix what could be done if someone were to read one of the scrolls and Nix told them that the only way to prevent that person from becoming a subsumed mind was to gather all four of the enchanted weapons and use them to bring the original Keraptis back to this plane. This, in fact, was what the Resistance was trying to do.

Nix told the band that unless the False Kerapti were stopped, their power would continue to grow, for they could create more partial imprint scrolls, which would lead to more and more subsumed minds. Eventually the threat would extend outside of White Plume Mountain, at which point it would spread like wildfire and be nearly impossible to contain, much less eliminate. This was apparently why people like Kuhlefaran had joined the Resistance, to somehow find a way to avert this disaster. And assuming all of this was true, the Righteous Vanguard now found they had two good reasons to aid the Resistance in their efforts: 1) to help prevent the disaster, and 2) to save Gildor from becoming a subsumed mind or worse. Unfortunately, according to Nix, this meant bringing the true Keraptis back to this plane of existence, which did not sit well with the band and appeared to be Nix’s real motivation, since he admitted his desire to work with his old master once again.

After learning all of this, the band asked to discuss the matter in private among themselves. They were then allowed to leave the room and talk things over, while Nix and Kuhleferan likewise did the same. The band decided that they had little choice at this point but to ally themselves with the Resistance, for there was now much more at stake than simply rescuing Nicholas’ brother. If Nix was telling the truth, it looked as if they were going to have to take on most of the mountain’s complex and acquire the four enchanted weapons – and even then their work would not be done.

So the band returned to talk to Nix and agreed to aid the Resistance. Nix in turn told them that they would need to begin gathering the weapons but that it didn’t necessarily matter in what order. He also told them that the gnomes who had stolen Wave were supposed to have hidden it in one of three places just outside the mountain: Plague Fields, Thingizzard’s Hut, or Castle Mukos. But the gnomes never returned, so he did not know where it was. From this bit of information though, the band was able to put together a possible scenario of what had happened to the gnomes: More than likely, after the gnomes left the mountain with Wave, the trident was stolen by the man that Echab had overheard talking about it in a tavern. The gnomes then went after Wave and stole it back. At this point, Echab followed the gnomes back to White Plume Mountain but lost track of them somewhere in the vicinity. Presumably the gnomes were then able to hide the weapon in one of the three designated places while Echab went in search of the gnomes inside the mountain. Echab however, was captured and for some unknown reason, the gnomes never returned to the mountain. Some of this was pure speculation of course, but it seemed to fit the facts at hand.

But rather than go after Wave, the band decided to go after Whelm first, which was supposedly in Spatterdock’s possession and also where Echab was thought to be held prisoner. Here they could possibly accomplish their first objective of rescuing Echab, thus saving him from further torment, but also gathering more reliable information while acquiring the magical hammer.

With this objective in mind, the band made their way back to Nightfear’s territory, making use of another secret door shown to them by Kuhlefaran. Once back in Nightfear’s territory, they donned their Nightfear armbands again and proceeded to the area where the gnomes were positioned to build the temporary bridge over the pits and the slippery floor. Here they got the gnomes to do just that, and before long they were entering the room where they had earlier encountered the gnolls.

It was at this point however, when the band suddenly became aware of how late in the day it was. So they decided to rest for the night in the room right next to the gnoll’s apparent quarters. Since the gnolls were supposed allies, and the only two other ways of entering the room, that the band was aware of, were protected by traps, they assumed that the room would be relatively safe from unwanted intrusions while they slept. Naturally they kept at least one person on guard duty at all times anyway, because nothing there was a sure thing.

Still, their slumber was interrupted twice during the night. The first time was only a gnome patrol working for Nightfear, who had been looking for the group and wanted to know their progress in their efforts to recover Wave from the Resistance. Nero told them that they did not think the Resistance had the trident and would be working on another lead after resting up. The gnomes accepted this and went off to report to Nightfear.

Several hours later though, an unobserved secret door opened up in the room and out stepped a ferocious ghoul. Most members of the band were quick to respond and jumped up to battle the undead monster. But it proved to be far tougher than the average ghoul and took a great deal of damage, both magical and otherwise, to bring it down. During the battle, both Dravos and Nicholas were paralyzed by the ghoul and there was nothing that could be done for them until the following morning.

It was only after that battle had come to an end, when the gnolls looked outside their door to see what all of the commotion was about. And seeing that the matter was now under control, they returned to their room, though a few of them snickered in obvious glee at seeing the ranger lying on the floor paralyzed.

The remainder of the night was uneventful.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 4

On the morning of Godsday, the 25th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard awoke about half a day’s ride from White Plume Mountain, which lay, clearly visible, to the northwest of them. Also about half a day’s ride away was the village of Ringland, which lay more to the west. They had left the city of Balmund approximately a day and a half before and until the previous night, when they were attacked during the night by a band of ogres, their journey had been relatively uneventful. They were now in some of the roughest territory of the Bandit Kingdoms however, and it was a near certainty that from here on out danger could be lurking with every step they would take.

After gathering their things and preparing for the day, the band set out once again and headed to the west where they soon came upon a trail. Following this trail to the west they arrived in the late morning, at a crude wooden bridge that spanned what was known as the Yellow Flow River. Here the banks of the river were tainted yellow due to the high sulfur content of the water which originated from White Plume Mountain, while the surrounding plant life was sparse, pale and sickly in appearance.

After crossing the bridge, the trail led the band north to the village of Ringland. As they drew nearer to the village and the volcanic mountain beyond, they could see that if one looked long enough into the huge plume of steam that issued forth from the mountain, they would eventually begin to see a face or even multiple faces within the cloud. Some members of the band chose to avoid looking at the cloud for this very reason, as the face tended to give one a rather uneasy feeling.

By mid-afternoon, the band arrived at the fortified village of Ringland. Home mostly to hunters and trappers, though a few frontier farmers and merchants lived there as well, the village was surrounded by a 10-foot tall log palisade, outside of which sheep, goats and other livestock freely grazed. Inside the wall lay a dozen buildings typical of a frontier village, made mostly of wood and a few reinforced with stone, such as the two guard towers that looked over the village and the surrounding land.

Guards at the front gate of the village stopped the band as they approached, and questioned them about their purpose for coming to Ringland, then chuckled among themselves when the band mentioned White Plume Mountain as if there were some inside joke shared between them. In an apparent continuation of this joke, they suggested the village’s only inn, the Ringland Inn, where they could get a decent meal, implying that it would likely be their last. Upon entering the village, the band saw, in addition to the inn, a general store, the Hunter’s Guild and what appeared to be a crude sort of wizard’s tower. They headed for the inn first.

As they approached the inn, a stable boy stepped out to greet them and offered to take their horses. Those who had horses, dismounted, grabbed their gear from their horses and allowed the boy to take the horses into the stables. But the boy was clearly a bit fearful of Nicholas’s giant wolf, Whistler, and Sonda’s riding-boar and neither Nicholas or Sonda did anything to alleviate his fears, but rather instructed their mounts to take shelter in the stables and guard over the horses.

The band then entered the inn and spoke to the proprietor, Sebastian Fauke. They rented a few rooms, ordered some dinner and asked the innkeeper a few questions for which they paid coin. Sebastian told them some of the same rumors they had already heard about White Plume, but also mentioned there had been a young man at the inn, about a week before, who fit the description of Nicholas’ brother Echab. He also told them that this young man had spoken to a man by the name of Otus Hilltopper, who is the guild master of the Hunter’s Guild.

The band wished to speak with this guild master, so they walked across the street to the Hunter’s Guild and were fortunate to find him there. Otus Hilltopper confirmed that he had talked to someone fitting the description of Echab and said that he had asked about White Plume and about any gnomes he might have seen. Otus claimed he had not seen any gnomes as of late, but added that if the band intended to go to White Plume Mountain he would be willing to guide them there and watch over their mounts for a fee. The band debated on whether or not to take up Otus’ offer and eventually agreed to do so. The band also asked about the apparent wizard’s tower and Otus told them that the local hedge-wizard, Monaric, lived there. The band was curious, so they went to pay the wizard a visit.

Monaric turned out to be a short little, white-haired, bearded man who claimed to have all kinds of information about White Plume Mountain, but would only reveal it for a hefty price. While the band was not willing to pay what he asked for concerning most of his information, a lot of which, if not all of which, they probably already had, Kieranen did pay the wizard a 100gp gem for the name of the ancient druid who had originally inhabited the mountain and was later defeated by Keraptis. His name was Aegwareth and he had been the protector of the Druid’s Fane deep in the heart of the mountain for decades. Feeling certain this bit of information was not worth the price paid for it, the band then returned to the inn and called it a day.

Early the next morning, on Waterday the 26th day of Flocktime, the band met up with Otus as they had agreed upon, and set out for White Plume Mountain. A couple of hours later they came upon a supposedly deserted village by the name of Plague Fields, which had once been the nearest inhabited village to the volcanic mountain until it was abandoned some fifteen years before, due to the poisoned groundwater that slowly killed off the village’s livestock and crops. However, as the band approached the wooden palisade that still surrounded the village they were fired upon by unseen assailants using bows and arrows.

Suspecting their attackers to be a rogue band of gnolls, which were common in this area, Nero cast a black tentacles spell inside the palisade, feeling confident that this one spell would be more than sufficient to keep them occupied, while the rest of the band rode on past the village. Their suspicions appeared to be confirmed by the sounds of hyena-like yelps and shouts that issued from beyond the wooden wall. Otus, on his way past, could not resist the opportunity to kill one of the gnolls that he spotted with his magical bow called Akala, of which he was so very proud.

Just past the village of Plague Fields, the band came upon the Yellow Flow River again, where Otus directed them to a place where it could be easily forded. After crossing the river, they skirted along its northern and eastern edge where it butted up against the foothills at the base of the mountain. A few hours later they arrived at a place called Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket. Here lay a series of buttes, bare except for a pale green covering of grassy vegetation, which vaguely resembled the head and shoulders of a supine hyena. In this unique formation was a large cave that gave the area its unusual name. Otus and Nicholas scouted the cave out for any inhabitants, and finding none, waved the rest of the band and their mounts to join them inside.

While they found no creatures occupying the cave they did however find evidence of recent occupation, including the ashes from a fire and a saddle bag hidden under a rock. Upon examining the saddle bag, Nicholas found a journal with his brother’s initials on it. Though the saddle bag must have been acquired somewhere along the way, it appeared almost certain, from the contents of the journal, that it had belonged to Echab. The last entry was dated about a week before and stated that the writer was about to enter the mountain.

It was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon when the band set out on foot from Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket, leaving behind their mounts with Sonda and Otus to watch over them. From there the band followed an obvious footpath that led north through a craggy ravine and up the southern side of the mountain. Halfway there they came upon four undead humanoids which appeared to be bog mummies. Nero slowed a couple of them down with another black tentacles spell while his companions did what they could to destroy them. Gildor managed to cause them damage by channeling positive energy through them, but they were fairly tough creatures and it took some effort to defeat them. During the battle, Dravos, who still had not yet fully recovered from his death a few days before, was struck by one of the bog mummies. Fortunately, the band had both a cure disease potion and a remove curse potion with which they were able to remove the mummy rot and continue on their way.

A short while later the band arrived at the cave mouth known as the Wizard’s Mouth, where a cloud of steam was emitted every thirty seconds, and took on the appearance of a traveler’s breath on a cold and crisp day. Here the band ducked under the steam and entered the cave mouth.

At the back of the cave they came to a hole that opened onto a 20’ square, vertical shaft that housed a spiral staircase made of rusted iron and chipped stone. Here the band descended some 100’ into the darkness below. At the base of the stairwell they came to a large chamber bearing signs of recent excavation. All along the southern wall were a series of murder holes. Dravos led the way and checked for traps as he did so. He found a trip wire at the very bottom and disabled it.

But as he stepped onto the floor of the chamber, a small voice called out from beyond the southern wall in the common tongue, “Stop where you are and give the password.” Dravos drank a potion with which he tried to read the thoughts of the speaker and got a confused jumble of half-sentences. But he was able to pick up something about working for ‘Spatterdock’. The voice called out to him again and asked, “Do you work for Spatterdock?” Hoping it might be of some help, Dravos answered the question with an affirmative, at which point, the voice shouted out, “Attack!”

Suddenly dozens of arrows began hurling out of the murder holes and the band was forced to react. Nicholas used his collar of shape-changing, took the form of an earth elemental, and moved into the narrow room beyond the southern wall, where he came face to face with 20 deranged gnomes. Ael summoned a swarm of insects and sent them through the murder holes, while Gildor lobbed a small fireball into the room from his necklace of fireballs. Nicholas, after being blasted by a magic missile spell, managed to take down the obvious leader of the 20 gnomes, and then convinced the others to surrender.

A sort of truce was called and Gildor channeled positive energy in the area, healing all of the gnomes and preventing any of them from dying. The band then gathered all of the gnomes in the chamber where they were at and the two groups began negotiating with each other. The leader of the gnomes, whose name was Kabyle, told the band that they were followers of the true Keraptis who had recently returned to White Plume Mountain in the form of a gnome, often referred to as Nightfear by his non-followers. He told the band that there were three others who also claimed to be Keraptis, but that they were false impersonators. Their names were Spatterdock, Killjoy and Mossmutter and he described as much as he knew about them. He also mentioned a fifth group of rebels who also opposed them.

After listening to Kabyle describe the current situation inside the mountain, the band discussed among themselves what they had learned and came to a few conclusions: 1) that it seemed apparent that all of these Kerapti were false impersonators, some of which were monsters that inhabited the mountain some 20 years before; 2) that Echab was being held prisoner by one of the other groups, most likely Spatterdock; and 3) that it would probably make things easier on them if they, for the time being, agreed to ally themselves with Nighfear’s group. So this they did. Kabyle then gave each member of the band an armband with their symbol on it, and gave the group the password for the day, and a scroll with a special magic missile spell on it. Then he told them where to report to their leader Nightfear.

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 3

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.


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