Thursday, September 1, 2022

Company of the White Oak - Sessions 57-58

 Session 57

Goodmonth 25, 622 CY

City of Greyhawk

Old City

“Aye, I’ve been there…” Torsten said. The man looked to be 30, though Niall Brightflame understood this human was even younger. It was with a trembling hand that Torsten picked up his leather flask for another drink. “The Temple of the Latter Day Elder Gods. We believed it was ripe pickings, since everyone’s attention had been on Castle Greyhawk these past two years.

“Our first clue that this would not be easy was just upon mounting the steps to the temple. Day suddenly became night. My companions, all inexperienced, broke ranks and fled just as I was reaching the top of the steps. I called back to them and tried to rally them, but that was when I noticed the …things in the sky. They had wings, but they had little shape to them and were shaped like no bird or other animal I can name. Instead of following the others, I retreated indoors, through the temple doors. The room inside seemed impossibly big, but had no exits. I had no choice but to retreat back out into the starry night…with those …things swooping down after me…”

No sum of money could convince him to guide Niall and the Company of the White Oak to the Temple. But he did give good directions…

Goodmonth 26, 622 CY
The Village of Nameless

Nameless was a minor fiefdom on the north side of the private hunting grounds of the Oligarchs. It was four miles south of the Temple of the Latter Day Elder Gods, the closest civilization came to the old ruins. Only five Companions - Reed Underbough, Percy, Niall Brightflame, Bowie Laughingbottle, and Leif Thunderbeard - and their henchpeople, Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fadagoria, Halfdan, and Gremlar Blackstone - and two mules left Nameless bound for the Temple.

There was barely a discernable trail leading to the Temple, and the vegetation grew tall and lush so close to the Temple’s walls that they might have missed it had they not been looking for it. The Temple was a step pyramid, only three tiers, each twenty feet tall, with one ramp of steps leading up the west side to a pair of large, heavy double doors on the top tier. The stone was very old and worn smooth.

First they circled wide around the Temple, as Torsten had never seen the east side of the Temple, but they found no other entrances that way, even when the elves moved around the walls slowly, hoping to detect a secret door.

They formed up into ranks and started ascending the steps. As they did, the sun began quickly moving through the sky, setting just as the front rank reached the top tier. As they stepped up to the double doors, the sun set. Everyone paused to watch the sky for monsters, but none appeared.

The doors were hard to open - Lief and Niall, their two strongest members, had to work together to pull them open. Inside was a room that seemed the exact size of the entire top tier - which should have been impossible, because it appeared to have thick walls, but they had expected this too, thanks to Torsten. The room was empty except for three brass pillars that ran from floor to ceiling, spaced out between the north and south walls. Since the pillars were 8’ wide, there were only gaps in between to reach the other side.

Cautiously, the thieves Reed and Ambrosio went in to search the room. As Reed touched the first pillar, a brass door appeared in the side of it. One by one, they made a door appear in each. These doors opened easily onto hollow tubes going down, with only ladders bolted to the north wall of each tube. The ladders seemed to have been made piecemeal out of various metals, but looked sturdy. To be cautious, only one tube was chanced, and to be extra careful, everyone descending the tube did so with rope tied around them. This turned out to be a good thing because about half of the Companions had trouble with reaching the too-distant ladder and would have fallen 30’ to the floor below. The mules were left behind and unguarded.

As some were still descending the ladder, the front ranks checked out the room below. All three brass pipes descended into this room, with doors in their south sides. In the northeast and southeast corners were piles of old, dusty tools. Three doors led elsewhere in the middle tier of the Temple. Since they were here to find Vask’s undead form and lay it to rest - and retrieve his two powerful magic weapons at the same time - Muelara cast ESP and Locate Object to help them find their objectives. Neither spell initially gave them any clues, so they started with east.

To the east was a long north-south corridor and a side passage east, but they went south, turned a corner west, and another corner south, and went through a door through which Muelara detected animal thoughts. Here were six giant wasps buzzing around a large brass cage, huge dead beetle carcasses, and what appeared to be a stone birdbath. One Sleep spell later, there were no giant wasps flying around, and they were all promptly killed - save one, which Reed wanted badly to extract its poison sac from. Not being an expert on giant wasp anatomy, Reed almost poisoned himself and gave up on the idea. Luckily, poison sacs were not the only treasure in the room. Inside the locked cage (and locked cages were no obstacle to a thief of Reed’s experience) were a couple thousand loose coins of gold and silver, a pair of gems, a jeweled torc, and an old ceramic flask holding liquid. The sweet-smelling goo in the “birdbath” was left alone.

There were sentient thoughts coming from behind the northeast door, and a heard sound like something scraping across stone, so the Companions barged in an old, ruined bedroom with nothing left but three beds in it. Peeking under one of the dust ruffles, they saw glowing red eyes staring back at them. Then the beds were cast aside as three wights rose up to attack. Percy quickly turned them and chased them into the corner. He explained that everyone would get a chance to hurl a missile weapon at the cornered wights, but that would break the turn and they could then fight back. The missile attacks were devastatingly effective, though, leaving little to mop up when the wights retaliated. Under each bed was a gold mask that the wights must have once worn.

Heading south, Leif was about to bust down the next door when he heard a voice in his head that said “Run! Run away!” Leif was freaked out, but convinced to ignore this as a trick. They found behind the door a nearly identical room with another three wights hiding under beds. They tried the same tactic, but this time one of the wights, wearing a ceremonial helmet, was able to take a lot of damage and nearly drained somebody before it was destroyed. Further, under one of the beds was a trapdoor that led down. Opening it, they found what looked like a large empty pit. They considered going down to search it for secret doors, but decided to explore the rest of this level first.

Around the corner to the east was a short dead end passage with a silver statue there. The statue was of a macabre being - semi-humanoid, and yet only part-crow, part-rat, and part-vulture. Leif was strong enough to pivot the statue alone, and Leif and Niall working in tandem were able to scoot it over to the side, but they found nothing concealed behind or beneath it.

Leaving it alone, they went back north, then east, and then found themselves in another long north-south passage. Through an archway to the south they saw a small empty room with a door opposite the archway. As Leif opened the false door - a balista bolt flew down the corridor from the north and stabbed Leif’s own brand-new hench-dwarf Gremlar in the back - and Gremlar fell down, dying.

Gremlar was moved into the empty room while Percy began invoking a cure spell. While everyone was waiting for the spell to take effect, a monster appeared in the corridor that looked just like the silver statue (only black now instead of silver). Muelara bravely moved up to the archway and blocked it with a Protection from Evil spell cast on herself, and the spell repulsed the monster as it charged her. Then missile fire repulsed the monster and it turned around the corner from which it, and the Company, had come. Once the cure spell had Gremlar recovering, Reed snuck out past Muelara and sneaked quietly past the monster. Niall was now hearing a voice in his head telling him not to try anything, for he would surely fail. Niall tried to talk to the voice in his head, but it did not work. Ignoring it, he joined the other fighters charge more noisily out towards it. The monster was meleed from both sides and backstabbed by Reed, ending its existence.

With the Company recovered, they headed north, found a secret panel with a concealed balista mounted in it (which they disabled), and then backtracked to a west side passage - indeed, the very passage they had seen from the opposite direction after coming out of the first room. There were two side doors down this passage. Behind one of them was a ruined bedroom where everything was so rotted that it fell apart when prodded by Leif’s spear. Behind the other one was another ruined bedroom, but in this case the bed was crushed under a 4’ wide statue of a toad made of riveted steel plates. It could be seen through its open mouth that it appeared to be hollow, but it also animated and attacked. It withstood six hits from the Companions, and bit Reed for a light wound, before it was destroyed and fell into pieces. Niall took the pieces with the toad’s eyes to go on his shield.

Heading west and then north of the first room, they came to the end of the corridor to the north, where there were three pewter urns, and a door nearby to the east. Searching the urns, they found one held sand and the other two were empty. They carefully poured out all the sand, but found no treasure concealed within. Behind the door they found a small room holding nothing but three more identical urns, but these were all full of green, slimy algae. The voices harassing Leif and Niall were now, instead of urging them to run away or to give up, were trying to convince them to investigate these urns. They did not fall for it, and everyone left them undisturbed.

Backtracking to a side passage west, they found a door to the north through which Muelara sensed lonely thoughts (casting Protection from Evil had disrupted her Locate Object spell, but her ESP spell was still going). Since the thoughts did not appear hostile, they decided to take a different tact and knocked on the door. A woman’s voice urged them to come in. Curious, they found the door opened onto a small room that held a tree -- what appeared to be a living tree, growing into the walls and ceiling of the room, and growing out of loose charcoal, sulfur, and salt -- all quite impossible. Out of a hollow space in the tree stepped a beautiful woman who had called to them through the door. She told them how she and her sisters were bound to this room to help achieve balance in this temple. They seemed aware that monsters of chaos were running rampant through the temple, but she speculated there might be some champion of law down here for balance as well. The Company was ready to push on, but the woman tried to use some magic to make Bowie stay with her, and a second woman emerged from the hollow to try and bewitch Percy, but they both resisted and everyone left.

Percy cast his own Locate Object spell to replace Muelara’s lost one.

Moving further west, they found a large storeroom with nothing of value left in it, though they were careful to check through the sacks of rotten food.

Taking winding passages south, past the first room, they found a door that led to stairs going down. This more clearly led to the bottom tier than the trapdoor had, but they still resisted going down. Their map showed a little space to the east, and they even knew of a door that likely led into a room there. They were right, but all they found was a moldering bedroom, this time with a dead bugbear inside. The bugbear’s sack held some modest treasure.

Niall checked his map and found this level was twice the size as it had appeared to be outside.

And then they backtracked to the stairs and went down. Everyone felt some unease down here, but none moreso than Halfdan and Gremlar, who were going berserk. They became so obsessed with leaving the temple by any means necessary that they were willing to fight their way past the others, and had to be incapacitated with Percy’s Hold Person spell.

Just east of the bottom of the stairs were double doors in the north wall. When Reed listened at the doors he heard many voices chanting. Some debate followed about what to do here. If it was a large room, perhaps they would not risk the encounter.

It was a large room, the largest yet. Inside were 15 men, kneeling prostrate while chanting, in front of one man facing them, cross-legged. A Sleep spell was cast into the room - and did absolutely nothing. The man spotted them, called out to them, and welcomed them. Niall was willing to interact with the man, but only from the safety of the entrance. He let the stranger in the room know they were looking for a particular undead and described what he looked like in life. The stranger said he had seen who they were looking for and would lead them to it, but only after they had finished their ceremony. When asked about the purpose of the ceremony, it was to achieve balance. When invited again to wait inside, the Companions balked and said they would wait outside, with the doors closed. Not trusting a word they had just heard, they barred the double doors and tried to slip away back upstairs.

However -

The stranger from the room appeared behind them in the hallway and began casting a spell. While everyone else was freaked out and continued fleeing up the stairs, Reed stayed behind and disrupted the spell’s casting with a lucky crossbow shot. The stranger reacted by turning into a large bat and flying straight at Reed. Reed joined in the retreat, but even with his magic leaping boots the bat outpaced him and bit him. Though drained of some energy, Reed was able to produce his bag of garlic and herbs and used it to fend off the vampire long enough to leap up the stairs and join the others as they fled back to the ladders. Now Niall protected their rears, swabbing the doorways with garlic to try to ward the vampire off from following them up.

When Gremlar and Halfdan came out of Percy’s spell, they were humbly apologetic and had no idea what had come over them. Climbing the ladders, they found their mules were still waiting for them. Exiting the temple, they found it was the middle of the night, but they fled down the steps before they could encounter any flying things.

Session 58

Harvester 10, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk
Tower of the Striped Mage

The Mage had agreed to meet with Percy and Runeflinger and a servant brought them to his study, where the Mage (Rodrigo, the former Striped Mage’s chief apprentice) sat with his crystal ball.

“You want me to check for the location of your lost friend again,” the Mage said. “You brought the gold?”

A sack of 300 gold was sat in front of him. The servant began counting it. “Let us begin…” the Mage said, and he peered into his crystal ball.

“No wonder you have not been able to find him…this man Vask, or the man you once knew as Vask…his undead form has left the Temple of the Latter Day Elder Gods. It has been changed by the temple…it is now a wraith, no longer a wight. It now wanders the ruins outside Castle Greyhawk.”

“Can you be more specific?” Runeflinger asked.

The Striped Mage gave him a hard stare. “It’s a crystal ball, not an encyclopedia. This audience is ended.”

Harvester 11, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

Reed Underbough, Percy, Runeflinger, Bowie Laughingbottle, and Leif Thunderbeard returned to their old stomping grounds with their henchmen, Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fadagoria, Guardia, and Gremlar Blackstone in tow. Actually, while everyone else walked, the hobbits Reed and Ambrosio were riding armored dire wolves, an extravagant purchase Reed had made since they all last adventured together.

Very little of the terrain surrounding the castle had ever been explored. The closest ruins to the castle were the two outposts at the foot of the drawbridge - two small, squat towers that had housed orcs long ago and been abandoned ever since. Vask was not to be found there.

The drawbridge of the castle was up and Reed spoke the magic command word to lower it. The courtyard looked deserted, as usual. Of course, they were not expecting to find Vask inside, so they stayed out.

They had previously spent some time north of the castle, following the creek through the woods, and that was where they had found the wraith that had been Father Langdon. Was there some property to the creek that drew their old teammates to it? Runeflinger thought it was worth investigating. They spent a few hours searching the woods, but turned up no ruins in that direction.

Returning to the castle, Reed decided to hop up onto the curtain wall and circle its perimeter, for a better view. Everyone else followed on the far side of the moat, with Reed calling down to them if he saw anything. As they went counter-clockwise around the castle, Reed heard some rocks falling somewhere inside the castle grounds as he was crossing the west side of the curtain wall. Although wary, he continued.

At the castle’s southwest corner, Reed spotted something about a mile to the southwest that no one in the Company had ever seen before - what looked like an old ruined fort on top of a hill. Could that be where Vask was? It was decided that a mile away was not a ruin near the castle, so they moved on.

Continuing east along the south side of the castle, they spotted something else of which most of them were unaware - there were the ruins of what looked like a village at the foot of the castle’s hill, almost touching its southeast corner (Haruspex Niv had talked several times about a well at this location that supposedly led deep into the dungeons, but few still-living members of the Company had ever been there with him). Most of the village was nothing more than stone foundations spread out for a half-mile, but there were some intact walls and a few mostly intact structures (only the ones made of stone; the wood-timbered structures were all rotted away). And it was now that Muelara’s already-cast Locate Object spell detected Vask’s magic javelin. Now they were able to head straight towards him, where Vask appeared to be lurking in the shade of a half-intact roof. But then Vask rose up from under some rocks near Runeflinger and attacked with surprise! Only Runeflinger’s magic armor spared him from harm. And despite the benefit of a surprise attack, Vask did not last any longer against the Company than their other undead fallen teammates had. Vask, though, came with quite a windfall - as the wraith disintegrated into a handful of dust, Vask’s magic battle axe, javelin, helmet, and two potions fell to the ground.

That afternoon they spent back in the Village of Hawfair Green, burying Vask’s ashes next to the others and singing his praises. That evening, they were dividing up his magic items, with Leif getting the axe, Arlin the javelin, and Runeflinger the helmet.

Harvester 12, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

Having had a little taste of the castle again, the Company was ready to go back today. The third dungeon level beckoned. More specifically, the unopenable doors on the third level beckoned, and a Knock spell or two might reveal hidden treasure.

The easiest route to the third dungeon level remained the black dragon’s lair, which had remained empty. The first area in the dungeon proper was the gnoll lair, the one that had an unopenable cell door, behind which they saw an ivory box the size of a small crate. Some of them had been excited about this since the last expedition down here when it was discovered, and Bowie reminded everyone of the “box prophecy” they were told involved the White Oak Company. Runeflinger reminded everyone that if it was a magical door, the spell would only open one door, but if it was mechanically locked, the spell would open many in this area.


Mechanisms within this vault-like cell door slid back and it opened, as did the other three doors in the room. All of the others led to places they had already been, so they focused on just going behind the cell door and approaching the ivory box. Just not too closely. Reed and Ambrosio checked it for traps and found none. Just to be extra careful, they took the time to tie rope to the lid, pound an iron spike into the wall, loop the rope over the spike, and then pull down to raise the lid up from a distance (Percy was consulted, always being good at this kind of engineering). It worked and…nothing happened. Cautiously approaching the open box, Reed found - dust. It was full of dust. Though, not just any dust, but colored dust, some of it sparkly. There were, in fact, four different colors of dust in the box.

Some debate followed about what to do. Did they dare carry the box with them? What would happen if magical dust mixed? It was decided to carefully remove all the sand from each color and place them in four separate sacks. And then Leif still had to carry the empty box in front of him.

They headed south from there to another pair of doors they had decided to skip going through last time. Then, Muelara had sensed thoughts that seemed to be coming from intelligent undead behind the double doors. This time they felt confident they could handle them. Leif sat down the box and pushed open the stuck doors. It turned out to be an unusually large room, considering the only decoration was a chest chained to the back wall of the room. But guarding it were three wraiths!

Percy was quick with the turning and wraiths were no challenge for a bishop to turn. Once they were in the corner of the room, Reed and Percy decided to combine two previously successful techniques. Percy would hold them at bay while everyone softened them up with missile fire and then, when that ended the turning, Muelara would cast Protection from Evil on herself in the doorway so none of them could get past her, and all the missile-flingers would rush to get behind her in the corridor. Runeflinger cast Invisibility on himself (his previously successful technique). The missile fire, fired from nearly everyone standing in a half-circle behind them, weakened all the wraiths, but did not destroy any of them. Everyone fled back past Muelara as she started casting the spell - but there was one problem with this plan: the wraiths moved faster! So they also wound up on the hallway side of the Protection from Evil, and continued attacking the Company. Although initially terrified, the Company quickly realized they could run back into the room, now trapping the wraiths in the hallway, the opposite of how they originally planned it. But this revision of the plan did not come without penalties -- Reed was energy drained, and Guardia and Reed’s dire wolf mount were killed outright by the wraiths.

Once safely ensconced in the room, missile fire recommenced at the wraiths and finished them off, but not before Muelara received a nasty arrow in the back, accidentally, from Leif.

Now they could finally address the chained chest in the room, but Reed found it was trapped. Working together, the Companions figured out how to circumvent triggering the trap and got the lid open and found - the chest was completely empty.

Disappointed, but ready to move on, they went back out into the long north-south hallway and took the side door west that led to the dwarves’ break room on this floor. It was once more full of dwarves, helping themselves to what looked like ale from a barrel, and they impatiently tolerated the Company cutting through their room.

To the west, Reed led them to a small chapel they had skipped before that had an ogre and two bugbears trying to worship a statue of Erythnul, god of monsters. One Sleep spell later, the Companions were picking up gold pieces off of each of them, plus a few gems.

Moving further west again, Reed led them to the pair of unopenable doors and the remaining Knock spell was cast. The spell not only opened both doors, but ten doors linking eight 10’ x 10’ empty rooms. The Companions moved through each room, looking for secret doors, but found nothing.

Around the corner to the south, Reed knew of another door that had previously resisted opening - but this door was still not open, despite having been in spell range. They marked this as something to come back to next time.

Further south and around another corner to the east was the last long east-west hall Reed had mapped last time. They had tried no doors at the far end last time. Would they be open now? No…but then it turned out they had already strayed out of range. Muelara, using her Helm of Telepathy now instead of ESP spells, detected monster thoughts from behind the south door, but the Company’s interest turned to the north door when, from outside it, they all heard a loud, mocking laugh, followed by a man’s voice booming “I know a secret…!” in the Common Tongue. Intrigued, everyone urged Leif to bash open the door.

Behind it was a short parallel corridor that turned south up ahead, but only after passing under a series of murder holes in the ceiling. There were glimpses of movement above the murder holes. Charm Person was cast up through the holes, trying to target what was moving, but it did not work when their hiding opponent was ordered to come down. Reed watched the holes, entranced, noticing that whatever was up there was repeating the same movements.

The solution seemed obvious to Reed - the monsters above were serving as a distraction so the monsters to the south could sneak attack them, or were being reinforced now by the monsters above. So he turned everybody around and they headed through the door to the south - where gnolls were waiting to ambush them with halberd and battle axes. But there were only four gnolls and the Company made short work of them. The gnolls had some gold, but not a lot, and this whole expedition into the dungeon was turning out to be rather cash-pour, other than the ivory box.

Pressing on (and giving up on the monsters above the murder holes), the Company returned north and continued north, finding themselves at a large chamber almost entirely filled with a pool of water. The pool could be seen to continue into a chamber to the south through a large archway (with no dry path through). Floating in the middle of the pool was a giant sculpture, seemingly made of yellow rubber, and abstractly depicting a chicken or duck.

Runeflinger, still invisible, advised everyone leave, convinced this was a giant’s bathtub. Reed reminded Ambrosio that he had the Ring of Water Walking Reed had given his hench-hobbit. Ambrosio took off the ring and asked if anyone wanted to borrow it. Leif volunteered; he walked out onto the water while wearing the ring and disappeared through the archway.

Leif saw that the chamber was more of a natural cavern with dry shore to the west and southeast. On the southeast beach was a chest surrounded by three dead bodies. Wary, Leif fired an arrow into one and then all three of them silently clambered to their feet. He could see their ashen features and glowing red eyes from here. They stepped into the water and disappeared from view.

When Leif ran back to the others, Percy recognized the description as wights and he calmly borrowed the ring next. He went into the chamber to the south and was ready to turn the wights, but he saw no sign of them - until he spotted them floating up to attack him from underneath! He turned them in time, but since he was directly above them, all he could do was make them turn downwards and try to scratch their way through the cavern floor 15’ underwater. He shouted back to the others that he was basically at an impasse with the wights and, with both sides shouting back and forth to each other, they came up with a plan. It would not involve the floating statue -- Reed wanted nothing else to do with statues, remembering the amber golem! Reed and Ambrosio climbed the walls of the chamber and cavern until they reached the unprotected shore. They found no traps on the chest, and found it was full of gold! They emptied the contents into every sack they had left, carried them across to the rest of the Company, and then went back and refilled the sacks with the rest of the gold. By the time they returned, Percy joined them, gave the ring back, and they all fled with their loot before the turning would expire.

But they had not fled back the way they came. They went north, and Reed was overjoyed when they found the green dragon's lair -- the map fragments now matched up! Then they went further east. They came across a room full of bones and the reek of death, with dead gnolls pinned to the walls with big spikes. Muelara detected animals behind the east door and a monster behind the north door. They went for the monster - and found their first troll (the first troll any of these adventurers had seen -- Haruspex Niv and some others of the old guard had ran from a troll a long, long time ago)! The troll was not hard to beat, but it was hard to keep down. While they were searching its mound of coins (all silver pieces!), the troll they thought they had killed already started to get up and Percy had to smash it back down. Then, disturbed by how it wouldn’t stay dead, they lucked onto the idea of burning its remains.

Now, weighted down with considerable treasure, they finally backtracked the way they had come. The dwarves were in better spirits now in their break room, having thoroughly enjoyed the spirits they’d been drinking. They invited Lief to stay with them, but he went back with the Company instead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Company of the White Oak - Sessions 55-56

Session 55

Reaping 26, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

It was shaping up to be a hot summer and Reed Underbough, Percy, Eirenden, and Leif Thunderbeard were talking about going on a short, easy expedition somewhere and where that might be - when Haruspex Niv showed up. This shocked everyone because Niv’s name had been on the list of members allegedly killed by the Iron Workers Guild. Haruspex explained that he saw the thieves coming and faked his own death to elude them, and had been lying low since. 

Should they seek revenge against the Iron Workers Guild? No trip into the sewers, where the guild operated out of, had ever gone well for them. And with Lord Ellis gone, the Iron Workers had no reason to keep going after them. Besides, Reed had a suggestion that soon tantalized all of them. With Niv’s magical firepower…maybe they could finally take out that dragon Eirenden had discovered under Castle Greyhawk…

The idea seemed to have a good risk:reward ratio, since they had killed a dragon easily before, and dragons were known to hoard lots of treasure. But they were few in number and ready to hedge their bets any way they could. Eirenden sought information about this dragon he had seen. It was a black dragon, and he paid to learn that they breathed acid in a long line, about as far as a javelin could be thrown. Acid was not something they could defend against…except to keep lots of targets between them…

Reaping 27, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

With the rapidity that came with the promise of lots of gold, the Company had assembled a group of 12 archers and 8 light foot infantry, including Krillin, Patroneous, and Joe, and a medium named Aerik Fenn. These were not henchmen, but hirelings paid in advance, with the promise of a big bonus later. They were told that the Company was going under Castle Greyhawk to retrieve a treasure hoard - but they were careful not to mention that they had to kill a dragon first.  

Reaping 28, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

Having breezed through the Village of Hawfair Green, the Company and their retinue made their way for the lonely castle - but bypassed the upper works and allowed Eirenden to show them the entrance to the dragon lair he and his original party had found on their only foray here. 

There, on the east slope of the bill on which Castle Greyhawk stood, was rubble from some long-lost outbuilding, mixed with loose rocks and dirt. A long time ago they had dug the rubble away and revealed the tunnel to the dragon lair, but now it was all filled in again. The Company put their new hirelings to work clearing the rubble away, and Eirenden and Leif pitched in to display their magically-enhanced and naturally prodigious (respectively) strength. Eventually they had cleared a path they could all use - but making so much noise that the Company did not want to use it. Rather, they ordered everyone to withdraw for the night, hoping to take the dragon more by surprise in the morning. 

That night everyone camped outside around the Leaping Trout Tavern in Hawfair Green. There was much merriment, for the hirelings assumed they were only resting before digging up treasure in the morning. The Companions noticed that Krillin had no official leadership role, but he was more charismatic than the other hirelings and many looked up to him. Aerik Fenn stuck close to the Company, while Eirenden took a liking to Patroneous. Eirenden was thinking about taking him on as a henchman, if Patroneous survived the morning.

Goodmonth 1, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

The next morning they all returned to the tunnel and the hirelings were sent in first. The Companions were so far behind that they didn’t even see what was going on when combat started up in the front ranks. It turned out, the dragon had added two goblin sentries to the tunnel since Eirenden was last here, and the hirelings had noisily killed them. Should they return to Hawfair Green and come back still another day? No, they were this close - they would press on. 

And they did - until the front ranks reached the edge of the dragon’s cavern. The pile of treasure was right there in front of them, but there was no sign of the dragon. The cavern smelled like dragon, though, and this was suddenly putting some fear into the hirelings. Many of them were balking at going inside, or angry that they had not been warned about what could be guarding the treasure. The Companions huddled and discussed what to do about this troublemaker, Krillin, who seemed to be leading the others towards mutiny.

Aerik Fenn, unaware of these deliberations, saw what was going on and was concerned that Krillan’s actions would keep his fellow mercenaries from ever being hired again.To remedy the situation, Aerik cast Charm Person on Krillin to get him to stay and convince the others to stay. Ultimately, this worked, though it also took a bribe, the promise that the hirelings would get a greater treasure share. Only one hireling, Joe, refused to go in and kept trying to convince the others not to. Reed led Joe back towards the surface, on the pretense of having a talk with him, but then Reed backstabbed Joe, killed him, and hid the body.

As soon as the Companions went inside - that was when the dragon showed up from a side cavern. The dragon spat acid and it killed six hirelings instantly. The Companions loosed missile weapons at the dragon with ridiculous accuracy, and Haruspex Niv’s lightning bolt from his wand was super-effective. The dragon was killed before it could get in a second attack.

The treasure pile was large and spread out, some of it in sacks and the rest just loose on the floor, and took a long time to count. It proved to easily be one of the largest treasure hauls the Company had ever recovered. It even included what appeared to be a wand and a rod. To the Companions’ chagrin, enough of the hirelings survived that the Company had to give them an entire equal share of the treasure to split between them - and even that was looking like it would come to about 300 gold per man!

Searching the two caverns further, they found a tunnel leading west that would take them deeper under the castle. But to which level? Even Leif, a dwarf, was having trouble guessing. Everyone was curious to see where it led, but the hirelings who had stopped being useful as dragon fodder were now a liability that needed to be dumped back into civilization. They would lead the men back again to Hawfair Green to celebrate (and with a dragon head and body parts to prove the tales they would tell!) and pretend the expedition was over, but then head back into the dungeons the next morning. But first…they had enough experience with Charm Person to know that Krillin had been charmed, and they assumed Aerik Fenn had done so because he was willing to betray his comrades-in-arms for the good of the Company, and so he was offered full membership.

It was the most chaotic the Company of the White Oak, which had once solidly leaned towards lawfulness, had ever been. Percy, the last champion of Law in the company, had been present the whole time, but things were either done behind his back or he turned a blind eye to them.

Goodmonth 2, 622 CY

Castle Greyhawk

Reed, Percy, Haruspex, Eirenden, Leif, and Aerik returned to the dragon’s lair, but this time with only their loyal henchmen Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fadagoria, and new henchman Patroneous. Reed, now recognized as their most experienced member, both led the company and attempted to map the dungeon as they went. And in the dungeon proper they now seemed to be, for the rough tunnel soon gave way to smoothly carved 10’ x 10’ corridors that seemed very familiar in design. 

They soon came to a door, and Muelara’s ESP spell revealed sentient beings on the other side. Those beings turned out to be six gnolls, who were no match for the Company and quickly wiped out. Their treasure was a paltry sum of silver and gold pieces, but what else they guarded were two cell doors. One led into an ordinary, and empty, cell, but through the bars of the other door’s window they could see an ivory box sitting alone in the cell. No matter what they tried to get the door open, it all failed. Frustrated, the Company moved on. 

From here they could have moved south, but instead they backtracked east and planned to take a passage they had skipped to get to the gnoll lair. When they reached that fresh corridor, they were confronted by a spectral figure floating quickly towards them. Percy, recognizing it for either a wraith or a spectre, turned it and the thing sped away from them. The Company followed. It was a long slanted passage that was taking them down and around, and eventually took them to a door. But now they chickened out, fearing that more wraiths and spectres were on the other side, and they headed back up.

Now they went back and took that passage south. At its far south end was a pair of double doors and, behind these, Muelara detected the wailing thoughts of those wishing they had stayed dead. Again the Company blanched and took another way, this time a side door to the west. The first little room on the other side was empty, but the next contained a group of dwarves, eight in number, all workers of the Greyhawk Construction Company. Their leader (or perhaps just the most talkative one) was Brynja. For small bribes, the dwarves relayed small pieces of information. Yes, this was dungeon level 3. They described the layout of the corridors to the west of this room (they were particularly proud of the “square roundabouts,” which they seemed to have had some hand in constructing). The Company tried to intimidate the dwarves into giving up more information by telling them how they had slain a dragon. When the dwarves seemed unimpressed and even got all sarcastic about it, the plan backfired and the Company became intimidated. 

Despite having had the area described to them, Reed had trouble mapping the corridors to the west and travel was slowed. They ignored corridors to the north and south and continued west. Behind a door, Muelara detected sentient thoughts worshiping something evil. Still intimidated, the Company decided to avoid it and went around the room to the south. 

Further west, they found two side-by-side doors to the north. The first door opened onto a 10’x10’ room with doors to the north and east (the east door obviously led into the area behind the neighboring door). But neither of these doors could be opened by any means. More unopenable doors! They left, but then thought they would try the other door. That also led into a 10’ x 10’ room with a door to the north and to the west - but they could not open those doors either. Frustrated, they gave up and continued exploring west.

Soon they came around a corner to the south and discovered yet another door they could not open! They mapped some more corridors after this, but were so frustrated by the riddle of the unopenable doors that they left, vowing to come back some day after acquiring a Knock spell…



Session 56

Goodmonth 9, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

A week had passed and some significant events had occurred during downtime. Reed had the New Thieves Guild’s best forgers on forging a letter of transferral from Lord Ellis to the Company of the White Oak for the letters of credit in his name the Company had pilfered. And it worked - the Bank of Greyhawk believed the letter without even testing it - and the Companions who raided Lord Ellis’ manor found themselves 9,000 gold pieces richer.

Reed and his henchman Ambrosio had been looking into the situation at Mannering Manor.

Lord Ellis’ magic items had been mostly distributed, but there was still some bitter contention over his magic plate armor, with both Niall and Leif having equal claims to it (and the armor was magically able to scale to both their sizes).

With these circumstances fresh in mind, the Companions Reed Underbough, Percy, Haruspex Niv, Eirenden, Niall Brightflame, Runeflinger, and Aerik Fenn gathered to discuss what should be their next priority. Reed tried once more to make a case for the Company raiding Lord Mannering’s manor, but Reed had miscalculated greed being a motivator for adventurers still flush from a dragon’s hoard. Without any evidence of wrongdoing on young Lord Mannering’s part, or proof of mismanagement of his estate, the others were not having it.

Niall favored returning to Castle Greyhawk, and reminded everyone that Prospero had told them long ago that the items they needed to stop The Adversary were hidden under Castle Greyhawk. But he also had another idea. He recalled how John Grond, Father Langdon, and the other “old guard” of the Company had been turned undead and attacked the Company at Castle Greyhawk a few months back. Percy had turned them all and they fled, never to be seen again. But they were still out there, somewhere, and might still have all their old magic items in their possession…

This idea appealed to everyone, both laying their old friends to rest, and reacquiring lost magic items. But how to find them…?

The idea came to them to hire a wizard who could scry the location for them. Prospero was the wizard they knew best, but he was a difficult man to get in touch with. But there was another wizard, the Striped Mage, who they had dealings with in the past, though it had been quite some time.

Goodmonth 10, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

The Striped Mage was intrigued by the idea and, for 1,000 gold, volunteered to track them down. And he did, though they were not together, as the Company might have thought. Indeed, they seemed to be scattered all over the place! Rom Riverbluff’s body was somewhere near Hawfair Green. Father Langdon was in the wilds north of Castle Greyhawk. John Grond was wandering the first dungeon level of Castle Greyhawk. Vask was somewhere in the Temple of the Latter Day Elder Gods.

Goodmonth 11, 622 CY
The Village of Hawfair Green

When the Company of the White Oak was spotted in Hawfair Green, it usually meant they were heading to Castle Greyhawk. People began showing up at once to see them before heading out to the castle, but were shocked when the Company showed up this time with questions. Why yes, there had been strange going-ons lately - farm animals going missing and found later, eaten. Everyone assumed it was a monster loose from the castle, though they did not usually stray this far to the main road. Many people had information on where the monster had struck last, much of it conflicting, but eventually one farmer was able to show where the monster had last feasted on one of his cows.

With a Locate Object spell focusing on Rom's magic shield, they tried to search the area - and got lucky, for the cow-killer was still nearby, lurking in a grove of trees. It was, in fact, Rom Riverbluff, now a wight. A wight that did not last long at all against the combined might of the still-living Company of the White Oak. Why would an undead Rom be feasting on livestock? Various guesses were made, but ultimately it did not matter. What mattered was, what to do with Rom’s remains? It was decided to cremate them on a pyre, during a ceremony Percy would officiate, and then they would retire to the Leaping Trout Tavern to toast to Rom’s memory and, from those who knew him, share stories.

Goodmonth 12, 622 CY
The wilds north of Castle Greyhawk

The Company had never veered off the side road to Castle Greyhawk before on its north side. They found some low hills, lots of trees, and a long creek. Again, they used Locate Object to detect Langdon's prayerbook, but this time it took a lot of searching, well north of the castle, before they tracked down where the wraith that was once Father Langdon was hiding. Father Langdon lasted no longer against the Company than Rom had. When Langdon’s wraith form was destroyed, some of Langdon’s former possessions dropped to the ground in corporal form, including his old prayerbook. Of Langdon himself, only enough ash remained to half-fill a flask. There was not even enough left here to give Langdon the funeral Rom was given. But as close as they were to Castle Greyhawk, and what remained of John Grond, they were uninterested in retreating to Hawfair Green to do any toasting.

The upper works of Castle Greyhawk seemed abandoned until they stopped at the Shrine to Boccob and found a lowly adept manning it alone. He was very glad for company/protection, and not at all interested in going into the dungeons.

The Company decided to use the old trapdoor entrance to the dungeon, something they had not bothered with in a long time. They found the door had a big crack in it now, as if someone had tried to break it, but it still worked, and still led down to a mostly deserted first level. But they did know where they could find some people, or more specifically, some elves. So they headed to the grand spiral staircase.

En route, Niall wondered if they should not dispose of the large weasels on this level, as they passed their lair, but no one else was interested. Haruspex, indeed, was rather nostalgic about the weasels and told everyone of his first adventure down here, two years ago, and how the weasels had saved them from berserkers.

There were always elves guarding the staircase and today was no exception - except there was only one elf, and he was a nervous sentry. Some of his brethren had been slain of late by a wraith wandering this level. The wraith had last been seen to the south.

The party’s map of this level covered some of the south; it showed that two paths split off directly south of here; one to the southeast and one to the southwest, but the southwest path was through a secret door. Surely the elf would have mentioned a secret door if it was relevant? The Company went southeast. They followed a long north-south tunnel for as long as they could, passing several doors, until an ESP spell detected thoughts behind a door. Scared thoughts. Instead of breaking in, Niall just knocked.

It was humans on the other side of the door, but they were not interested in coming out; they knew of the fearful wraith wandering this level. They were not interested in joining the fight against the wraith either.

The Company pressed on, finding another door through which Reed heard a deep, grumbling voice muttering. It sure sounded like John Grond! The Company spent a lot of time planning an ambush for John. Niall, with invisibility cast on him, was going to pound on the door and call to John to coax out his old friend. The Company would be way down the corridor to the north. Reed would be lurking in a 5’ wide side passage that John would need to pass to reach them and Reed would leap out and backstab the wraith.

The problem was, it was not the ogrish John Grond behind the door, but a real ogre! The ogre came out to investigate, charged at the party, and went down in three hits.

The ogre had no treasure on it, but it had a sack of 300 gold pieces back in its room. The room had wooden pillars and, more intriguing, little creatures rolling around on the floor that vaguely resembled goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins. Had this been a daycare for the dungeon? Eirenden was curious if Haruspex knew any mages in the city doing research on monster spawn, to test if nature or nurture made them evil. But no one was really interested in trying to trap and transport these feral little creatures and ultimately the Company decided to just abandon them here.

Moving on, the Company decided to ignore the east door in the room and try the 5’ wide side passage Reed had used earlier. This turned into a larger corridor and doubled back to a room on the opposite side of the door they had just ignored a short time ago; this room had a pool in the middle of the room surrounded by bones. Since there was obviously no wraith here, the Company avoided the pool and backtracked the way they had come. This time choosing a 5’ wide side passage east, they found a long north-south corridor that was 5’ wide to the north and 10’ wide to the south. Pursuing the wraith south, they hit a T-intersection, went east down another narrow passage which turned north, and here they found a series of connected rooms manned by humans and hobgoblins working together.

Armed with glaives, these foes fell quickly to the Company’s smaller, faster weapons - though the Company took two humans prisoner. These men, human and hobgoblin alike, had nothing more than some electrum pieces between them, but they had something more useful - information. They had seen the wraith and were willing to lead the Company to where they saw it in exchange for their freedom.

The Company followed them and wound up backtracking almost to where they had started - with the prisoners saying the wraith was heading towards the corner where the Company knew a secret door to be. Niall was fit to be tied - why had the elf sentry not mentioned this hours ago?!

Locate Object was cast. They headed through the secret door. They went through a normal door, through a side passage, and found themselves at a new room, one of this level’s museum-like rooms. Four stuffed ducks were on display on pedestals, similar to another room they had found a long time ago with a stuffed albatross on display in it. Only this time, they knew John Grond's magic sword was nearby.

Like the others, this wraith failed to last an entire minute in combat with them. Like Langdon, there was a half-flask’s worth of ash to recover. And John Grond’s magic sword clanged to the floor. Aligned with chaos, the Companions were careful to pick it up without touching it directly, and put it in a sack. It would fetch them a tidy sum, if Percy’s church paid them for the chance to destroy it..

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Company of the White Oak Campaign - Sessions 53-54

 Session 53

Reaping 10, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

Auspiciously, on the very night before the Sword & Spear Inn was due to open, a small group of Company of the White Oak members -- Reed Underbough, Percy, Eirenden, and Niall Brightflame -- were meeting with Leif Thunderbeard, brother of the recently deceased member Sprig. Leif wanted revenge. 

Everyone else was…not so sure about that. They had all had great trouble finding any of the Company members to recruit for this planning session, and without more firepower they were very hesitant to go back to Gaxmoor.

The next most pressing thing on their agenda seemed to be going after Peter. They knew where Peter was; he was staying at that small manor house in the High Quarter, apparently guarded by a rotating group of up to eight fighting men, including the dragon-riding knight they had encountered once at Castle Greyhawk. No one was particularly concerned about the dragon rider…unless he somehow could fit the dragon in his house? There was a lot of concern over that one. Reed also advanced the theory that, if Peter was a “lord of vampires,” then he was probably a vampire himself and they would need to be ready to fight a vampire again. They eventually all agreed that they did not actually know Peter was a vampire, though.

Meanwhile, Ambrosio, Reed’s hench-hobbit, had spent the last week scoping the place out. There was no set pattern to when the fighters came and went, but sometimes they did leave alone or in pairs to local businesses, like the High Tower Tavern. Eirenden had hung out by the manor house, circling around outside it and looking for secret doors, but was chased off by a guard and did not risk returning alone. 

Reaping 11, 622 CY

City of Greyhawk

All of the people at the previous night’s meeting, including the henchmen Muelara and Arlin, joined Ambrosio in casing the manor house, and it paid off with a break that was too good to pass up. A lone fighter - a man in platemail armor - left the house and was heading to the High Tower Tavern. Muelara approached him while disguised by a Change Self spell to look like a human male. She said she had a business proposition for this man, based on his reputation. He was immediately suspicious and told Muelara to get lost. When she offered to pay him 500 gold just to hear her proposition, he became much more interested. In an alley that was being watched by Ambrosio from the shadows and Reed from a roof overhead, Muelara cast Charm Person on the man and made him into her best friend.

The best friend, who’s name was Bolero, worked for the owner of the manor house, Lord Ellis. All sitting together at the tavern, Muelara was able to coax Bolero into revealing all he knew. He and his fellow retainers, eight in number, had all been house guards for Ellis. It had always been boring work, but lately they had an additional charge, watching Lord Ellis, houseguest, Peter. Could Bolero take them on a tour of the house? Here, even for his “best friend,” Bolero blanched. Ellis would fire him, at best, maybe kill him…but for his best friend, he would take them at least as far as into the courtyard.

The main entrance to the manor was inside a walled off courtyard that the building itself circled in a C (or U, depending on how you were looking at it) shape. There were shuttered windows to either side and a door at the far end, with a small fountain and planters flanking it in the middle of the courtyard. There was also a guard stationed in the far corner who shooed them all out, telling Bolero he was in trouble for this. And here they were separated from Bolero, as he went inside.

The Company did exit into the street, but from Muelara cast a Sleep spell into the courtyard, dropping the one guard. Now they all moved back into the courtyard, stripped him, tied him up, and left him in a dark corner (while hiding all his gear in a planter).

There were enough gaps in the shutters to see the building inside - the east windows opened onto a long north-south corridor and the west windows opened into a large, mostly empty room. They had a key to the front door, thanks to searching the guard. Actually, they had three keys. Reed tried one at random -- and a bell started ringing inside, and acid squirted out of the keyhole! Reed tumbled away, missing most of the acid. Leif tried to bash the door down, but bounced off of the solid door. The second key unlocked the door, and stopped the bell from ringing. 

The front foyer was barely more than a small landing at the bottom of two sets of stairs heading up to the upper floor. By now, the front entrance had a few defenders, but they were little more than a delay for the more accomplished Companions. Niall, fought his way past the defenders and bounded straight for the upper floor -- where he was promptly face-to-face with Lord Ellis himself, bedecked in elaborate plate armor, and holding a sword in front of him. Lord Ellis tried to play the Law Card, announcing that he could have them all put to death for just trespassing. 

Meulara, seeing Niall in danger at the top of the stairs, cast Sleep up there -- which did not affect Lord Ellis at all, but put Niall to sleep! 

Percy began casting Hold Person, catching Lord Ellis just as the man bent down, grabbed Niall, and started dragging him away.

With the guards at the front entrance dispatched, everyone headed up the stairs to find out Niall’s fate, only to find that Lord Ellis had only resisted the Hold Person spell for seconds, and was slumped to the ground now, paralyzed, right next to Niall’s sleeping form.

Lord Ellis was stripped down to his gambeson and tied up from head to toe with rope. What to do with him now? While debating what to do, a fourth guard advanced from the west door. He quickly saw what had gone down -- and retreated. Reed and Niall raced each other in hot pursuit, both reaching the guard as he tried to hide in a side room along the west end of the second floor. 

Eirenden stayed behind to guard Ellis. When Ellis came out of the paralysis he tried to struggle to get free, but Eirenden put a boot to his neck and warned him about what would happen if he tried further.

That guard was racing to Bolero for backup, unaware that Bolero was already turned and on their side. Alone, the guard was easily defeated and tied up. They now had nearly as many prisoners as they had dead guards around the front entrance, but they still had no idea where to find Peter. Until someone thought to ask Bolero.

“Sure, his room is on the east end of the building.”

It was suggested that they should do some searching for treasure, in a manor that surely had plenty of treasure in it, but the fear was that Peter might escape if they did not keep after him. On the way to the east end, Bolero gave Lord Ellis a wide berth, despite being pinned to the floor, bound from head to foot and gagged. The east end of the upstairs floor was one long north-south hallway with three doors off of it. Muelara used ESP to determine which doors had anyone behind them and which one of those held Peter (the door with someone terrified behind it). They took out the remaining guard first, then cast a Sleep spell into Peter’s room to see if it worked. And it did.

When they woke Peter up, he insisted that he had been abducted by these people. He had been allowed to leave the building (which was how he was spotted outside), but his life was supposedly in danger if he moved out of view of the building. ESP was not a perfect lie detector, but his thoughts seemed to match up with what he was saying.

So what to do with him? Well, first, now that they had him, it was time to ransack the house. The far northwest room on the upper floor was Ellis’ master bedroom, and this contained a chest with a good stash of loot, though most of his money was being held in the Bank of Greyhawk and there were just letters of credit for it here. The real “wealth” here was the wealth of evidence -- Ellis had written correspondence with the Iron Workers Guild, who he had paid to kill off the Company of the White Oak -- and some names were crossed off a list of their roster already. Now it became frighteningly clear why it had been impossible to contact some of their members lately. 

Further, there was correspondence with the Horned Society, and an almost equally disturbing discussion of how they would divide up the Domain of Greyhawk once an already-assumed takeover of the city had happened. There were no clues in the text as to how they thought that would happen, though.

There were a few loose ends, like the rest of the staff. They found noncombatant staff hiding back down on the ground floor and chased them all out. Bolero was allowed to leave with the rest of the staff, but not before revealing to them that one remaining guard was in the cellars, guarding a grate to the sewers, which doubled as an entrance representatives of the Iron Workers Guild sometimes used to enter. The remaining loose end had been about Lord Ellis’ missing red dragon. It had not been in the house, but everyone was curious to know if it was somehow in the cellars. There was also a barn outside, but this held Ellis’ pet griffon. 

Curious, the Company went down to investigate, defeated the one guard, found the grate but no dragon, and added some expensive wine bottles to their booty. In looting the house, they drew the line at carrying out furniture. Besides, a plan was formulating amongst the Companions to try to gain ownership of this manor, in exchange for Lord Ellis and the evidence against him.

Later, the Company transported Peter out of the city and called for Prospero, as they had learned from Vask to do, and announced they had Peter. Shortly, three lammasu materialized in the air above them and descended, and then Prospero teleported into their midst. Prospero pointed his staff like it was a dangerous weapon and told Peter to get down on the ground. Everyone, particularly Percy, was eager to hear Prospero’s case against Peter, but the evidence that Peter was an agent of The Adversary seemed circumstantial. The lammasu interjected, saying that the danger posed by The Adversary was so great that extreme measures were called for, but Niall made a case for them delaying to gather more evidence. The lammasu would not listen to this advice unless Percy agreed with it, which he did. Once the lammasu were convinced, Propsero was outvoted and the lamassu took Peter into their custody, making him disappear with them. Prospero turned into a pegasus and left by flying away.

Reaping 17, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

Almost a week later, the Company of the White Oak was quietly summoned to the private trial of Lord Ellis. The jury was the Directing Council of Oligarchs themselves. The evidence against Ellis was airtight. In return for securing it, the Council dropped all consideration of charging the Companions with breaking and entering and manslaughter, and further awarded them free use of the upper floor of the manor (they had their own plans for the ground floor).

Session 54

Reaping 19, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk
Shield & Spear Inn

Reed Underbough was anxious to find out when the New Thieves Guild was going to produce the proper paperwork from the guild’s forgers to transfer the 9,000 gold from Lord Ellis’ letters of credit to the Company of the White Oak. Today, though, they had another matter to discuss. 

Reed, Runeflinger, and Niall Brightflame - three of the remaining members of the Company of the White Oak - had been sought out by a medium named Norfolk. Norfolk had come into some money - 200 gold pieces’ worth - and was willing to pay the Company to give him a tour of the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk so he could experience being an adventurer himself. In truth, Niall had recently been thinking about how Prospero had told them the magic they needed to defeat The Adversary was under Castle Greyhawk. This was something they needed to start looking for again, even if capturing Peter had somehow thrown a wrench in The Adversary’s plans.

Reaping 20, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

Reed, Runeflinger, and Niall had hired Brother Vincent to come with again, because they were not sure until the last minute if Percy could join them or not (he did). Accompanying them were their henchmen, Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fadagoria, the hireling Brother Vincent, and their hirer, Norfolk. There were still unresolved issues of magic item distribution from the raid on Lord Ellis’ manor, but these were temporarily handled by those coming today being allowed to “borrow” as yet unclaimed items.

The drawbridge was down, the upper works seemed deserted, and the Chapel of Boccob was empty. Vincent delayed them while he undertook long, elaborate prayers in the chapel, but eventually they got him moving. Norfolk had brought his own mule and planned to bring it into the dungeon. The Company’s cart and mules were gone, lost to the gnolls of Gaxmoor, but Reed had replacements stored at a stable in Greyhawk left over from the expedition he once led to the Ruins of Lord Robilar’s Castle. The mules and cart, with no one hired to guard them, were just going to be left in the stables here at the castle, hoping for the best.

The Company was planning on exploring more of level 2 of the dungeon today, so they went down the stairs inside the tower adjoining the keep, and cut through corridors on level 1 until they reached the grand spiral staircase that went down multiple levels. Two elves were guarding the stairwell, and though they kept their distance from the Company, the elves of the dungeon and the elves of the Company shared a solemn salute to each other.

Down they descended to the west-facing corridor that led off the second floor landing. They headed straight for the trebuchet room (still speculating about why a trebuchet was assembled down here) where dwarves of the Greyhawk Construction Company had been found on break before. Sure enough, two dwarves were in here, resting on the trebuchet. The dwarves responded favorably to Norfolk gushing about the Dwarven Tongue, in Dwarven, and told them how they had been busy reinstalling doors because the gnolls on this level had been breaking down a lot of doors lately. Where were the gnolls? Lately they had been claiming the east end of the dungeon level. This surprised the mappers, as they had long assumed the stairwell marked the east end of the dungeon level. This level was larger than they knew!

The dwarves even pointed to the northeast door in their room as the fastest route to the gnolls. The route through maze-like corridors took them east and south, into an area that Reed had once explored before, but they went past that area further east and came, next to a room with an unfinished wooden staircase to the ceiling, but then ESP detected sentient thoughts from behind the next door to the east. Behind it they found, at last, their first encounter with six gnolls. One Sleep spell and some hacking later, there were no gnolls. The gnolls had no treasure between them, but this seemed like a random patrol of them anyway.

This area was a junction of west- and south-heading corridors. Heading south, ESP sensed more sentient thoughts nearby, but the Company ignored them and continued south into a chamber that was the scene of a battle. Gnolls and orcs, stripped of their valuables, were lying dead on the floor, either killed by each other or by others with weapons. Reed found an old blood trail that led south, but they lost the trail.

Where they found themselves was near a door through which they sensed more sentient thoughts - this time frightened thoughts. They found a small group of human bandits had barricaded themselves in here and, after some initial suspicion of the Company, let them in as potential allies. They had been sent down here by the Master of the First Level some time ago (presumedly, before the Company had killed him) as part of an exchange of forces with the monsters down here, but the monsters were too wild, too leaderless for these bandits’ liking. The Companions took pity on the pathetic bandits and the bandits bribed them with half their treasure, 100 gold pieces, to lead them to safety. So they all backtracked to the central staircase so the bandits could go up. Before leaving, they were encouraged to head straight for Hawfair Green and go straight. They winked before heading up.

The dwarves were gone from their room (as they were when the Companions came through with the bandits), so the Companions cut quickly through their room and explored some new side passages, first heading south, where they found two secret doors both leading into the kitchen of the Chefs of the Gilded Spoons, which Reed had visited before. This time there were seven chefs busy cooking in here and they were quick to shoo the Company out. 

Showing no interest in what the chefs were cooking, they headed east again, which led to a door where they detected animal thoughts. On the other side, they just found a huge lizard lounging in the room, surrounded by rocks and sand. One sleep spell and some hacking later, there was a dead lizard in the room. The Company found no treasure, but they did find a secret door. And behind that secret door was a similar room -- with two giant lizards in it! Another Sleep spell dropped those two just as easily. The lizards were killed with minimum damage to their skins, as the plan was to take all three back to the cart and have them skinned back in town.

A door from the secret room led back east towards the sentient thoughts they had skipped over earlier. That turned out to be a gnoll lair, though the Company almost missed it again because they were becoming aggravated with discrepancies in their maps. This was a barracks housing six more gnolls, easily disposed of, but they had no treasure just like the last group. Niall postulated that this had to do with how there were no leaders on this level, that the leaders had made off with all their treasure.

Striking out north, the Company found a room full of webs and 13 large spiders - but burning the webs and throwing yet another Sleep spell into the room made short work of those too. There was no treasure here - no good treasure so far, but no challenges so far either. And then the next room happened.

It looked to be a laboratory, with alchemical glassware on a workbench and three flasks sitting out at the front of it. Runeflinger, Niall, and Norfolk went inside to investigate - and disappeared. Another teleportation trap!

The rest of the Company tried to move on without them, but Reed struggled hard to map without Niall there to help him, and the others only watched instead of helping. Very slowly, they circled the west side of the teleporter lab and were mapping an east-west corridor with many options when they saw a light coming from the east.


The three teleported knew something was up when they saw no one else at the entrance, and there were now six flasks on the workbench instead of three. After taking the flasks, they came up with what seemed like a strategy for getting back to the others: stick to corridors (empty corridors, not the garage-strewn ones they found at first to the north) and avoid doors. In this way they wound up taking a long, narrow corridor south and then a much longer corridor west, before it turned north and then flipped back east again. And then they hit the pit trap. Niall made a near-perfect landing in the pit, luckily missing the spikes at the bottom, but a door opened above the pit trap and orcs harassed him with spears. Niall climbed out of the pit and fired arrows at them until they shut the door. But the pit appeared to be a major obstacle. 

Meanwhile, the larger half of the Company met the source of the approaching light -- a human in armor, carrying a lantern and an incense burner with him. This man identified himself as Father Earnest, a vicar, whose task it was to bless all the dead in the dungeon so they did not rise as undead. Reed tried very hard to persuade Earnest to come with them through the teleporter lab, but he insisted he had stayed alive this long in the dungeon by not teleporting. He was willing to give the Company directions back to the exit from this dungeon level from here, telling them to use the room to the west of the teleporter lab, but to beware of a pit trap.

The room to the west had a gong and a chest in it. Everyone wisely ignored the gong and focused on the chest. Reed detected traps on the handles on the sides of the chest - they were sticky somehow, like glue, and had anyone tried to lift the chest their hands would likely have been stuck fast. But the chest could be opened safely, and inside were gold-encrusted cups, bracers, and scabbards. They were all packed into sacks, and the Company would have left then, except that Reed was convinced the pit trap must be in this room and kept searching for it. Percy pointed out that Earnest had said to watch out for the pit trap after mentioning this room, but had not said the trap was in the room, so it likely was behind the west exit.

There turned out to be more windy corridor behind the west door, and at one turn tight of the corridor there was a brass lever in the outside corner. Reed took the time to tie rope to it and pull it from a safe distance, revealing the pit trap they had been warned about. Reed climbed around the wall to the lever to reclose the pit trap and everyone crossed safely over it. They found themselves approaching an east-west corridor that looked familiar to Percy, and he led them back west to the dwarves’ break room. 

Meanwhile, the three displaced Companions were doing a lot of backtracking, finally returning to the teleport lab to see if it would teleport them again. It did for Runeflinger and Niall…but not Norfolk. However, their patience in waiting for him to appear was rewarded 10 minutes later when Norfolk succeeded in getting himself teleported like the others. From here, Niall had a near-perfect map to follow back to the dwarves’ break room, stopping to drag the lizard carcasses with them. En route, they encountered just a single undead skeleton, which Niall tore apart with his magic sickle in sweet release of his frustrations. 

The Companions were reunited at the grand spiral staircase, and returned to the surface with only Niall injured at all. 

Later, they would discover that their greatest source of loot in this expedition came from those three giant lizards - they all had gold and gems in their gullets. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Company of the White Oak Campaign - Sessions 51 & 52

 Session 51

Reed Underbough’s prospects had only improved since coming back to the City of Greyhawk. Blodgett, head of the New Thieves Guild, had only seen his approval of Reed rise as Reed ambitiously continued to oversee construction of his tower-based inn. “You really remind me of myself,” Blodgett said one day. “We may be the little guys, but we’re tough, and we can grab this city by the horns and throw it to the ground and…well, let’s not belabor a poor metaphor, shall we? What I’m trying to say is…I want you to be my right hand man. The public face of the guild, as it were. We’ll have to upgrade your income, though…what say the guild moves you up a social class?” To which Reed immediately agreed. The new role seemed to come with no new responsibilities…so far.

Reed did approach Haruspex Niv about trying to find out where his errant henchman Peter had gotten off to, and what mischief he might be causing. While Haruspex agreed that sounded important, he was not prepared to leave his studies to explore it himself, but gave Reed his blessings to kill Peter. 

Percy has easily adjusted from the comforts of his inn to the comforts of the church-provided bishop’s house. Although he shares it with another bishop, the design of the building is like a duplex, so Percy has as much privacy as he wishes. But the new digs have done little to keep him safe - less than a month after that attempted break-in at the inn, Percy survived an assassination attempt, where someone shot him with a crossbow bolt, from a concealed location at long range, while he was out for a stroll. It was a light wound, and so far an annoying inconvenience. 

Six weeks ago, Niall Brightflame was attacked by brazen thieves on a city street in broad daylight, lightly injured, but they got away with all the money he was carrying -- 10% of his accumulated wealth. Niall gave chase, but they lost him in the nearby market. Since then, Niall was lying low, hoping to catch the thieves who did this to him, but when that failed he approached the Company of the White Oak about working with them again.

The three of them met up at Reed’s place to discuss what to do about these issues. Of everything on their plate, attempting to assassinate a bishop -- and the Company’s only still-active cleric -- seemed the most serious pressing issue. Percy was even prepared to make use of Reed’s questionable contacts to find more information, and put up 150 gold to fund an investigation.

Days later, Reed returned with 30 gold unspent and a satisfying lead -- the Iron Workers Guild - their old enemies -- were behind the attacks on Percy, but on commission from someone else. That someone else owned a small manorhouse in the High Quarter of the city, one which, when Reed spied on it, had fighting men routinely coming and going from it. The owner, though, remained unknown.

Wealsun 15, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

The issue before the three Companions was, should they now do something about this? Their numbers were low for any major challenge. And where was the profit in taking out these men after Percy? The lost city, on the other hand…there was still the promise of 1,000 gold in return for a finished map. How hard could that be, as long as they avoided that huge bear…?

They decided to go, but needed more help, as too many Companions were occupied elsewhere. Luckily, Old Man Herv had a recommendation. He had recently run into a dwarf named Sprig Thunderbeard who was a veteran figher, looking to become an adventurer. Sprig bragged about his strength and there was precedent for the Company extending full membership to people who displayed great physical strength. Niall also possessed prodigious strength, so the elf agreed to meet this dwarf and throw down with him. The two grappled for a long time and, in the end, Niall had to concede that Sprig was even stronger than he. Full membership was his!

Lastly, Niall used some free time, and his contact with Haruspex Niv, to access the Grand Library of Greyhawk. Here he did some reading up on the lost city. This city, known as the Lost City of the Elders, had once been located at the southern edge of the Domain of Greyhawk, but had vanished -- all of it -- about 60 years ago. It was not the first time the city had vanished; it had a tendency to disappear and reappear in different locations. The Elders were the Ur-Flan, the first humans to live in this region. 

Wealsun 16, 622 CY
Cairn Hills

Reed, Percy, Niall, and Sprig started out, with their henchmen Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fandagoria, and the hirelings Bella and Everard. Niall was decked out on a brand new warhorse and rode ahead frequently to scout. Although he hills were alive with wild animal fauna, none of it proved dangerous to the Company. And so…

Wealsun 17, 622 CY
The Waterfall

It was late when they found the waterfall. Did they want to explore the lost city at night? The answer was a resounding no. Watches were set up for the night…

Wealsun 18, 622 CY
The Lost City of the Elders

This time, before heading into the city, the Company checked out the rows of buildings on the south side of the courtyard. There was little to explore, but at the far end of the rows was a cluster of buildings within the remnants of its own privacy wall - an inn? Sprig deemed the building to look unsafe, so they decided not to investigate it.

Nearby was the eastern gate to the city. The towers here showed battle damage and the gates between them had been long ago wrecked down. But beyond that point…the road just inside was in immaculate condition, as if just laid down! 

Muellara cast ESP and they moved from building to building so she could try to sense thoughts from inside. They did not get far - not even to the plaza at the end of the street - when she sensed the thoughts of a sentient mind that was watching them.

Reed leaped up to the roof with his magic boots, but not before a small creature also hobbit-sized started racing across the rooftop away from him. The creature had red eyes, but otherwise appeared to be made of stone, though still wearing regular leather armor over that stone-like skin. It leapt to a second rooftop, then jumped over the back of the building. Reed pursued across the slanted tile roofs, producing rope, and intended to lasso the creature. But he was not fast enough before the creature vanished from view. Approaching the back of the second building, Reed was able to see the sentry was now joining a crowd of similar creatures, all armed, gathered around a collection of tents. 

Reed returned to the rest of the Company and told them what he saw. They walked around the small buildings, found the campsite of these small, weird creatures, and approached openly. The Company wanted allies here in this strange city, and thought these small creatures might want allies as well. They did not seem to; they swarmed around and encircled the Company, threatening them with spears. After a short standoff in which the Companions tried every language they knew to communicate with them, Niall had enough and drawing his weapon initiated combat. It did not go well for the little monsters, who were weak enough that both Niall and Arlin could sweep through with their attacks. Soon, two dozen of these monsters were dead.

Looting the tents, there was little in the way of treasure - except for, incongruously, a traveling spellbook. The Company was quick to snatch up this rare prize!

Shortly thereafter, they heard a booming voice coming from the south. Moving around a building and outdoor statue, they spotted an amphitheater surrounded by trees. On the stage of the outdoor auditorium was a giant - literally, a bigger humanoid than the tallest ogre they had ever seen by two full feet. It had black skin and a red beard and it was clearly calling out to them in a booming voice, though they did not understand the language. 

The Companions shrugged and left, which was apparently not the reaction the giant was hoping for. Angered, the giant came after them. The Companions moved quickly around a building and then tried to duck into its entrance. Muelara’s ESP detected angry thoughts approaching them, from above. The giant was coming over the roof towards them! Sure enough, the giant appeared at the edge of the roof, but the last of the Companions were inside the building by now. It proved an uninteresting building, gutted and long-since looted, but the giant was either unwilling or unable to follow them in. 

Searching the building, they found nothing of interest except for a stone coffer. Everyone was cautious about traps and the coffer was opened at a distance after tying rope around the lid and pulling it from around a corner. It was found to contain…1,000 silver pieces. Being treasure-poor, the Companions decided to take the silver, and maybe the coffer itself would be worth something too. As they were transporting it to the cart, they found out how right they were, for a beautifully intricate mosaic incorporating ornamental stones was hidden on the bottom of the coffer. 

After securing the coffer on the cart, and sensing no thoughts outside, the Companions trepidatiously reemerged into the light of day. Indeed, it appeared the giant had given up on them and gone away. 

The Companions headed southwest and then west, following this main road as it seemed to wind clockwise through the city. Niall, in particular, cautioned everyone from doing too much exploring and concentrating on just getting the map done. Percy, though, was curious about a statue of a weasel perched atop a box. When he investigated it, the top of the box sprang open, tossing the weasel statue into the air, and it landed hard on Arlin. 

But that was not the worst of it, as a hideous, tentacled monster, its body resembling a gigantic centipede, crawled out of the box. As fearsome as it looked, though, it was easily felled by a Sleep spell, and soon its head fell off as well, after some deliberate chopping. Searching the pit concealed under the statue’s base, where the monster had crawled out of, they found a dead body covered in slime. Feeling around the body at a safe distance with 10’ poles, they uncovered a silver ring. Niall used his magic sickle to retrieve the ring without touching the slime. Although the ring looked valuable, the Companions vowed to examine no further statues. 

Much further down the road, indeed, in the southwest part of the city now, Muelara detected sentient thoughts again, coming from inside one of the buildings. It seemed like a sizable force was marshaling to come out, and the Companions did not particularly want to deal with more sizable forces. They decided to detour back and go north, up a side road that ran past what looked like a chapel. 

As they passed the chapel, they heard what sounded like children crying from inside. This seemed like a trap and everyone was very leery, but they ultimately investigated anyway. All signs of religious iconography had been scraped away from the building long ago and only the shape of the structure suggested what it might have once been. By now Muelara’s ESP spell had expired, so they would have no clues before entering what was waiting for them. 

They strode through the front doors anyway. What they found was horrific - human women and children chained to the walls, and eight orcs terrorizing them with cat-o-nine-tails. 

Those orcs did not live very long. Luckily they had keys on them! 

The women and children were unshackled, but attempts to communicate with them were meeting with failure; the women spoke some strange dialect. Niall tried the Elven Tongue, which had undergone much fewer permutations over the centuries. Success! Two of the women spoke Elven, and now they could relate their story. The City of Gaxmoor had been a peaceful one until, months ago, an army of monsters laid siege to it. The outer city fell quickly, but as far as they knew humanity still held the inner city. 

Plans to double back and lead the women and children safely out of the city were kiboshed when they returned to the main road and spotted a sizable force of orcs and ogres assembling in the street to the west. The Company’s spellcasters were low on spells, and the goal was to keep the women and children out of combat. Fleeing east and outrunning the orcs seemed too chancy, so they doubled back again, this time heading north towards the gates to the inner city. 

The gates of the inner city had been breached some time ago and were no longer manned by anyone. The inner city seemed deserted. The Company quickly discerned that, if there were any humans left here, they must be barricaded in somewhere. An office building nearby showed evidence of having withstood a siege. The Company approached it and urged the women to call inside. 

Men responded! Barriers were cleared and fighting men in familiar armor (the Company had seen men like these in the hills outside the city after their last expedition here) let everyone in. There were some reunions between the men, women, and children, but everyone was happy to see each other even if they were not family. Here, a few of the men also spoke Elven and were able to continue the story.  When the gates of the inner city were breached, the imperial soldiers fell back towards the palace, but were cut off and had to hole up here, where they had been holding out for weeks. It was a spacious building, with room to accommodate all of them, as well as the Company’s cart and animals.

Percy had his traveling prayerbook; he could prepare some of his spells again. If they could get through the night and rest, maybe they could push their way out of the city. 

The monsters were not ready to let them have that restful night. Six ogres, the same ones they had seen marshaling in the outer city, it seemed, had decided to end the stalemate at this office building that night. What they had not counted on was the Company emerging on an upper balcony and pelting them with blistering missile fire, while distracting the ogres on their flank with a remaining Phantasmal Forces spell of elven archers. It took some time to wear down the ogres, but they did eventually retreat. 

Everyone braced for the ogres to come back with reinforcements, but to everyone’s surprise that never happened. The sun rose to a new day.

Wealsun 19, 622 CY
The Lost City of the Elders
The Inner City

The imperial soldiers were not interested in leaving. They even paid the Companions to lead the women and children to safety. But Niall gave an impassioned speech about how their home was their people, not their city. He convinced all but two to come with them. 

The plan today was no different -- push through the city as fast as possible and try to get out. But the inner city was not empty this morning -- nearly four dozen gibbering gnolls stood between them and freedom on the open streets, as the monsters patrolled. The Company had never had trouble defeating gnolls before, but had never met them in such numbers. The soldiers and the Companions were able to push through, but at great loss. Niall was pulled down off his new warhorse and his horse was slain. Bella, everyone’s favorite carter, was slain. The cart and mules were lost, including the stone coffer secured to the cart. Five imperial soldiers, five of the women, and - worse - seven of the children were pulled down by the gnolls’ superior numbers before everyone else was able to pull through to freedom.  

Session 52

Wealsun 26, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

It had just been one week since fleeing the Lost City of Gaxmoor; those members had been back to the city for just days, but already they was discussion about going back.

The conversation was between Reed Underbough, Runeflinger, Eirenden, and the newest member, Sprig Thunderbeard - the first time an entirely non-human contingent of the Company had decided to take action together. To Reed, the task seemed simple: Elysande had hired them to produce a map of the city. The imperial soldiers (of who’s empire? The Companions had never bothered to ask) had said that a complete map of the city could likely be found in the palace. If they went in fast, and found the map fast, they could be in and out of the palace before the giant’s forces could be mustered against them.

The elves had alternatives. 

Eirenden had been saving this, but he finally told the Company of what he had run from on his first foray to Castle Greyhawk - a black dragon, in a hidden cave around the side of the hill on which the castle stood. Surely his new companions were powerful enough to take a dragon?

Runeflinger had news of yet another job offer - this time from the wizard Prospero. Prospero had contacted Runeflinger to remind him that he was increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of Peter. The whereabouts of Haruspex Niv’s former henchman could not be detected by any divination spell or scrying. Prospero was offering a 250 gp reward for Peter alive -- 500 gold for him dead. 

Reed was initially enthused about this offer of quicker cash, but as the four Companions went back and forth over this, the idea of returning to Gaxmoor won out.

Wealsun 28, 622 CY

Reed, Runeflinger, Eirenden, and Sprig had returned, along with some familiar retainers - Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Eirenden’s new henchmen Lautre, and Brother Vincent was rehired to come with, so they would have a cleric. A team of eight was one of their smallest in a long time. Would it be enough? 

This time, they decided to take a look over the hills at the city before entering, but they found something very strange when they ascended to the top of the hills -- ahead, where they should have seen the city sprawling out below them, they saw only more, taller hills. This was less surprising to the elves; Runeflinger explained how fairy realms were well known to the elves, and it seemed likely this city existed in one.
Having learned that their only way in was behind the waterfall, they went through again, finding the city unchanged from last time. Again, there were no guards or sentries at the far eastern courtyard -- but this time they did spy armored figures moving from the city’s west gate into the outer ruins, indeed, towards the ruined inn. From here, they could not tell if these were monstrous humanoids or humans - so rather than take chances they avoided them.

They almost did not, but before going into the city they did decide to stop at the bushes above the canal and collect more of the magic berries there. After that, they entered the city through the gap in the eastern outer wall. They avoided the fireballed manor. They found unguarded stables, occupied by horses. Here, they paused and debated if they should take the horses. The question was, whose horses were they, and if they belonged to the monster or the humans? If they were the humans’ horses, they did not want to lose the humans as allies. It was decided, not only to leave the horses alone, but to avoid the humans as well. 

Which worked for only the next few minutes, when they came to another building within sight of the northeast gate into the inner city. There were human archers up on the roof, and these humans were not wearing the livery of the imperial soldiers. Unfortunately, these humans did not speak Elven, or simply chose not to reveal they did. The building they guarded smelled like a brewery, and likely was a brewery. The archers even gestured for the Companions to come in and drink. Though the archers were not hostile, they did begin trying to warn the Companions away as they began to move away towards the gate to the inner city. After more attempts to communicate with the archers, the Companions believed the warnings were because the gate was guarded. 

Luckily, there was another way in, for they could see a ruined gap in the east wall of the inner wall, as there had been with the outer wall -- only this time the inner wall was mounted on a 10’ tall steep mound. The Companions began climbing up, but before they reached the top of the mound - they saw eight gnolls staring down at them from above. The fight was initially tricky, while the Companions were climbing, but when they reached the gnolls the fight was soon over. The gnolls had even, conveniently, been playing a game of pitching coins into a pile and there was ready treasure to collect, though it did not come to much. Their chainmail seemed in good shape, so they started stripping the armor off the gnolls. 

They were halfway done when another gnoll patrol came around a building within sight, this one led by a bugbear. One Sleep spell later, there were not many gnolls left, but two of them did manage to get away, fleeing towards one of the palaces. 

As the Companions looked around, they realized there were actually two buildings in the inner city that were palaces -- the governor’s palace and the royal guest palace (both had been mentioned by the imperial soldiers). Which one would have the map? Unsure, they opted not to follow the gnolls, as they would surely be raising an alert in there, and they settled on the other palace. First they killed the sleeping monsters and looted the bodies for coins, having learned their lesson not to spend too long stripping corpses in case another patrol turned up first.

The main entrance to the Governor’s Palace had a towering, ornate portico lined with caryatid columns and topped with gargoyles. This entrance looked dangerous, so they circled around and found a portico back entrance almost as grand, but missing the statuary. When Muelara attempted to detect thoughts inside, she sensed sentient thoughts - thoughts that had already been alerted to the Companions’ presence. As she “listened” longer, it became clear they were planning an ambush inside the back entrance.

The Companions conferred. There was, as Reed pointed out, no evidence from the thoughts if they were human or monster, as the spell could not discern the difference. Was the palace held by humans, who would not attack when they saw who the Companions were? Or was it held by monsters, who would attempt the ambush, already foiled by this spell? The double doors at the rear of the building, inside the portico, were wide open, inviting them into the ambush. The Companions decided to risk it. They went in, three abreast, ready for melee.

And found five ogres waiting for them. Again, the combat was swift and brutal - but this time in the monsters’ favor. Lautre went down in the fighting early, dying slowly. Reed went into the shadows. Runeflinger went to his go-to for survival, invisibility. Two ogres doubled up on Sprig, one knocking him down, and the other bashing his head in with a morningstar. Of the remaining Companions, Eirenden was seriously injured. Their morale broken, the Companions went into full retreat, leaving the dead and dying behind to the victorious ogres. 

Not in their finest hour, the remaining Companions ran to hide behind the rubble around the gap in the inner curtain wall. They watched to see if the ogres would pursue, which they did, albeit slowly, still celebrating their victory with wicked gleefulness. Rather than push their chances further, the Companions abandoned the inner city. 

In the shade of the stables, Brother Vincent healed Eirenden. Should they stay in the city to rest? No, that seemed too dangerous; it was time to abandon the city altogether. If Sprig and Lautre were to be avenged, plus all the people slain last time, it would need to come another day.

Richfest 3, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk    

The city was in the full swing of Richfest festivities, but the Companions who returned from Gaxmoor were not feeling it. Many were licking their wounds, but Reed, looking to find something that would give them an easier victory and restore the Company’s morale, spent some money on trying to locate Peter, putting out there Peter’s description and a bounty on information of his whereabouts. And he got a response pretty quickly.

Peter was staying with the fighters in the manor house, the ones who had hired the Iron Workers Guild to kill Percy.