Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-02, by Brian Lamprecht

Young Geoffite rangers in love, Ansgar and Bryn, visit Hochoch’s “shambles” to replenish their supplies. A pickpocket brushes up against Bryn and makes off through the crowd before she can even put eyes on the rascal. Reaching for her purse, she finds it’s still at her belt, but in her pocket, she discovers a mysterious note that says, “Your assistance is needed most quickly on a matter of the utmost secrecy. Meet tonight. eight bells at the cemetery. To leave town you should be preparing. Ask the groundsman for Claudious Faeronicus. For country’s sake don’t dishonor us.”

The note is signed by “The Cat.”

Puzzled by the message, Ansgar and Bryn make their way back to the Two Tents where they find Boots awaiting them with the dog. “Look what I found in my pocket!” the young ranger declares, producing an identical note. Bryn seeks some advice from their grey-elf companion Gundoriel. No, he received no note. No, he has never heard of “The Cat.” Yes, he agrees to accompany the rangers to the cemetery.

Arriving just before eight bells, the rangers see an elderly gnome pulling the cemetery gate closed for the night and locking it with a chain. Speaking in gnomish couplets, he explains that Claudious Faeronicus died in the siege of Gorna, but his remains were carried here interred in the cemetery here in Hochoch. He tells the rangers where to find the monument they seek, but he refuses to let them enter the cemetery that night, telling them to return in the morning when the gate reopens. After the gnome leaves, Ansgar goes over the fence. An illusory gnome at the monument appears and speaks by glamour, “My name is Silas, now breaking the silence. Your duke and your country have need; best that you make good speed. One of our spies we sent north to make an alliance well-worth. He’s two days overdue, that’s why we need you!” The illusion instructs the rangers to find a map inside a nearby hollow tree designating the location of three safehouses at which the missing agent might be found, but there is the possibility that the safehouses have been compromised by a traitor within the ranks of the organization. The illusory gnome explains, “I need some worthy fellows, you see, unknown to the rest of my conspiracy, to infiltrate conquered lands and recover this agent wherever he stands. Also information he might be carry before the whole affair gets buried!” They are to return what information they recover to the hollow tree in the cemetery.

Bryn persuades Gundoriel to accompany them, assuming that she does so by means of her charismatic allure, but the elf has motives of his own. They set off for giant lands that very night.

After travelling most of the night, the party finds a clearing in the woods and prepares to camp. Gads! They discover a wretched ettercap and giant spider or two in the trees. These they slay and recover a magical sword among carnage. By morning, they continue into the contested lands, beyond the safety of the forts. They have not gone far down a particular ravine when the sound of giants voices and heavy tromp of booted feet warn them to take cover. They hide away as best they can, all except the elf, who stands perfectly still beside the way. Four hill giants pass them by, very nearly treading upon Gundoriel, but never noticing him.

It’s late afternoon when they reach the first safehouse, a small barn outside the burnt shell of a manor, but it doesn’t look safe. A pillar of flame comes down from the sky on the opposite side of the barn. A handful of orcs and a war ogre scamper around the corner of barn, scattering quickly away from a dark robed human. The man in the robe orders the orcs and ogre to enter the barn, then he turns and vanishes into the trees. The rangers cautiously approach. They discover the smoked and burnt remains of another ogre. They realize the orcs and ogre have been sent into the safehouse to lay in ambush. The rangers slay an orc stationed to guard. Inside the barn; they discover an open trap door. The orcs and ogre are waiting in ambush in the concealed chamber below the barn. A battle ensues, and the rangers and grey elf slay the humanoids with help from their viscous wardog, Fang. It’s a difficult fight. After the combat, the rangers search the safehouse dugout. Bryn discovers a well-worn leatherbound book in the safehouse titled Flora and Fauna: From the Realstream to the Crystalmists.

The morning is spent following game trails deeper into Oytwood. Making good time, the party soon hears the sound of rushing water. The river is near. Breaking out from under the forest’s heavy canopy onto the banks of the Javan, they notice a few wild deer eyeing them warily as they drink from the river downstream. While the party is contemplating how to cross the river, a hunting troop of Oytwood elves announces their presence, led by Taran, a grey elf ranger. Gundoriel is known to them, and he speaks with the hunters, vouching for the humans. The elves agree to assist the party by lending them canoes to cross the river. By midafternoon, the rangers arrive in an ancient section of the Oytwood where trees tower hundreds of feet and the width of the trunks at the base measure five men shoulder-to-shoulder. Bryn identifies a hidden hollowed tree with help from her new book. The rangers find recent orc and ogre tracks around the suspicious tree. Behind a mossy curtain, they discover two grimlocks ready to ambush. Grimlocks! They quickly slay the grimlocks. No problem.

The day after, the party presses on toward the third safehouse, travelling northwest, trying to stick to cover whenever possible. By mid-afternoon, the trees become thin and sparse, and the countryside hillier. They leave the Oytwood behind and enter the borders of the great heath that fills the center of Gyruff.

Gundoriel reminds them they are no longer in the contested lands where elves patrol and fight the giants. They have entered lands wholly controlled by giants.

Late in the day, they find the wrecked remains of an old croft. Between the remnants of two broken down structures they locate the opening of the well they are seeking—the third safehouse. Bryn descends into the well and finds a passage in the wall leading to a small hidden room: a stool, a bedroll, a lantern, and a bowl containing three strange stones surrounded by some blackish powder. One of the arrows is wrapped in a piece of parchment with the following message:

Something after me sneaks since I left the Barrier Peaks. I take another route down. I return to the Stark Mounds. I’ll keep the map with me, but if I don’t bring it to thee, the location is a day and half beyond the sages we spoke of before I was gone. Potential for alliance is great, we only need bide time and wait. – The Rat

Ansgar tests the strange stones clicking them together and discovers the explosive property of thunderstones.

The party returns to the safety of Hochoch and places the information they found in the hollow tree at the cemetery. More than a week later, Bryn awakens from a powerful dream of giants fleeing west, pursued by a powerful force from the north. As she contemplates the meaning of her dream, she catches a glimpse of a gnomish figure peering through her window, or perhaps that too was part of her dream.

Visit the Geoff page for more from the Liberation of Geoff.

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