Gifts of the Fey

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THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Gifts of the Fey: The Fey Woods (Campaign Notes-SPOILERS by Thomas Kelly)

Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-03a, by Eric Menge and Sholom West

The Army of the Liberation needs rangers to escort some certain Geoff-folk from Hochoch to an olven village tucked away well within the Dim Forest. Ansgar, Bryn, and Boots volunteer for the assignment. They are eager to escape Hochoch for most any reason. A long, hungry winter and the dismal circumstances under which the refugees live have deflated their spirits. An adventure into that dark forest under the promise of spring seems like the cure. Gundoriel, their Grey Elf companion and priest of Correlon Larethian, expresses his reluctance to accompany them on account of rising tensions between the Woods of the Dim Forest and the Greys of Oytwood. Bryn plies him persuasively, “Who will look after us without you?”

The Negligent Nanny

The rangers complete their mission under the ever-night of those shadowed boughs and turn back toward Hochoch. A breath of spring warms the chill from their bones. The heavy crowned trees that give the Dim Forest its name allow little light to penetrate, but in patches, here and there as the trees thin near the edge, warm shafts of sunlight spill through, gladdening the heart. The snows have melted, the rains abated, and the song of birds, returning from southern lands, celebrates the warmer weather. Then comes another sound on the morning air—the sobs of a woman’s inconsolable weeping. Bryn’s vicious war dog, Fang, bounds ahead, and the party follows. They come across a peasant woman seated on the ground at the base of an old ipp tree, her arms wrapped about her knees, her face streaked with tears. Fang nuzzles her gently and whines sympathetically, startling the woman. She shrieks, leaps to her feet, stumbles back from the dog and looks wildly about, surprised to see the three rangers and a Grey Elf regarding her. Ansgar speaks first, “Soft now woman! Put away your tears. What misfortune makes you weep so piteously?”

The young woman, a girl called Alys, explains, “A nanny I am to a young lad called Dyvan. I fell asleep beneath this ipp, under some enchantment I reckon, and the boy wandered off and crossed the Laughing Brook where I dare not go.”

“Fortune is with you. We are hunters and trackers,” Ansgar boasts. “We’ll find your missing lad and return him to you quick enough.” These words console Alys, and she describes the boy, a six-year-old no taller than a halfling, head of curly dark brown hair, green of eyes. Bryn translates all this for Dunglorin who does not speak the common tongue of the Flanfolk.

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Grabford Falls

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Introduction to GRNC 2 – The Retaking of Grabford

A GREAT NORTHERN CRUSADE ADVENTURE from Greyhawkstories.com

Thomas Kelly

The Great Northern Crusade advances! Several months ago, Furyondian and Velunese forces, under the command of Grand Marshal Jemian, crossed the flare line and slammed into the armies of Old One. Fighting under the blessing of Heironeous and assisted by high-caliber magic from powerful mages such as Bigby, the vengeful crusaders made quick initial progress.

By Needfest (CY 586), cold weather, freezing rains, and deep snows hampered the army’s advance, but with Atroa’s warming smile and the promise of warmer weather, the campaign resumes in the spring. The Knights of the Hart have already taken control of the Bone Road west of Grabford and reached the Veng, driving a wedge between the occupied Furyondian cities of Grabford and Crockport. While the Furyondian navy sails out of Morsten to take control of Grabford harbor, the Lady Katarina Walworth and Count Artur Jakartai command the crusaders of the Holy Shielding to lay siege to the fallen capital of Crystalreach County.

The walls of Grabford and the battlements of the city’s forty towers hug the banks of the great Veng River where the the water widens into shallows impassable by large craft and heavy laden ships. Those heavier vessels must enter Grabford’s harbor and make their way through a marvelously engineered canal that snakes through the city before it passes out through the southern wall. Beyond the walls of the city, the canal rejoins the Veng half a mile downstream. Within Grabford, three impressive drawbridges span the canal, allowing even proud-masted sailing ships to pass through its city. The proud citizens of Grabford once enjoyed the sight of the river’s great sailing vessels and laden barges gliding gracefully past their streets, and they profited no small amount from their passage. King Belvor built strong city walls and forty towers, and he garrisoned a thousand of Furyondy’s finest soldiers to guard the strategically significant fords and protect the canal. For all these reasons, Grabford numbered among the proudest cities of the Kingdom, a necessary port of call for every trading vessel that sailed from Lake Whyestil to the Nyr Dyv.

Then came war. (CY 583)

The armies of the Old One descended into Furyondy, laid siege to Chendl, and conquered Crockport. The Furyondian Navy and all the merchant and cargo ships of Lake Whyestil fled the fall of the harbor town (Crockport). Abyssal bats and winged fiends pursued the mariners across the great lake like raging storms, driving ships upon the rocks or spilling them into the lake. Buffeted, burnt, and torn, only a few surviving vessels escaped down the Veng and passed through the canal at Grabford in disgrace. The good folk of the city watched with no small dimay as the tattered navy of Furyondy, and all those noblemen’s trading vessels too, passed through their city in haste. None dared stop at the docks or tarry long enough to drop anchor in the harbor.

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A Taste of the Lethe

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Eight

Thomas Kelly

“I beg you to accompany me on one last embassy to Enstad. The Fey Queen is to be honored for her victories. The Grand Court intends to invest her with the Mantle of the Blue Moon, raising her to the title ‘Lady Rhalta of All Elvenkind.’”

Bagbag snorted. “What did she do? Mope about on her faerie-flower throne while you did all the work. They should name you their queen.”

“Will you accompany me?” Kristryd ignored the old wizard’s bluster.

“We have come to a changing of the guard,” Bagbag mused philosophically. “One feels it. The wars are at an end. Kristryd is made queen over the mountains, her sons over Gilmorack and Dengar. Urgush is no more. Hroth is no more. Gilvgola and Furduch have fallen. In Tringlee, the Duke Gallowagn passes the Shining Crown of Lothromenoron to his son and takes his leave. In Keoland, Senestal II ascends to the Throne of the Lion. All things change, but not in Enstad. In Enstad, they heap more honors upon do-nothing Yolande.”

“‘Yes’ or ‘no,’ old dwarf,” Kristryd pressed. “Will you walk with me to Enstad this summer?”

“I am ever at your service, your majesty,” Bagbag said with a bow. “But why should the Queen of the Lortmil Mountains walk? You should be carried upon the wind or teleported by means of dweomer.”

“I prefer to forget my sorrows with a long walk, and I desire your company,” the queen said. “Just the two of us. We’ll leave Bamadar to look after affairs.”

The Way to Enstad

Bagbag agreed. He leaned heavily upon his sorcerous staff each limping step of the way. His old bones had refused to properly knit back together, even under the healing power of the Sacred Heart. But the trueheaded loremaster felt glad enough to enjoy the journey through the mountains with her once again. They went by way of the Celene Pass to Anyanes, just the two of them together, with no escorting guard or afterlings. In reward for all their labors to purge the mountains, they walked without fear of ambush. As they travelled, they reminisced over all that had befallen them and all they had endured during twelve years of war.

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The Chronicler’s Final Tale 

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By Carlos A.S. Lising

Edited by Thomas Kelly

They started to arrive at sunrise. One by one, each appeared in their own way. The first to arrive came as glittering sunlight and a cloud of glissando moonbeams, realizing themselves into shapes and forms as they pleased. The next, seven in number, strode forth from the verdant density of the timbers, offering nods of salutation and respect to those that arrived before them. In turn, they greeted five, rising from the ocean’s cresting waves. Four more, hailed later, brought forth on world’s winds. They all assembled before the great pavilion. Each one older than time itself, yet, none of those ancient ones could say who was responsible for the colonnade that stood at the foot of the mountain with it’s everlasting pillars of pristine white marble, run through by veins of silver and gold. Certainly the next seven, clambering from deep burrows and bearing gifts of baked goods and fresh cheeses, did not know. Neither did the thirteen from the west, pale skinned, proud, and imperious. And for all their profane knowledge, not even those knew who came riding upon dark pock-marked steeds or vile clouds of darkness, accompanied by the chittering laughter of the mad or the sighs of the damned. Still they came, one by one, gathering before the pavilion. Some stood beside mortal enemies or next to long-estranged kin—this one beside that one, even those antithetical one to the other as fire to ice, light to dark. None raised a weapon; none raised a voice. They came because each knew they must. They came to offer a first and a last word, each the same: respect.   

***

His conscious awareness surfaced as if from deep, dark waters, like one arising from non-existence, like one waking from a sound sleep, the way one sloughs off the soporific haze of a dreamless slumbering. Past the gossamer veil came the normal sense of confusion. Where am I? Why do I feel so cold? What time is it? 

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End of War

The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Seven

Thomas Kelly

End to the Hateful Wars

“You failed us. All this for nothing!” Hroth’s lieutenant moaned as he licked at his open wounds.

“Not for nothing, skitterfoot,” Hroth snarled. The grizzled warlord scratched at the hole in his head where his left ear had once been. Those half dozen that remained of his hobgoblins sat with him upon a mountain perch above the forlorn ruins of Grot Ugrat. As much as they desired to look again upon the altar of Maglubiyet, they dared not descend into the sacred valley.

“We just got our asses kicked. Again,” the lieutenant reminded the warlord.

“Shut your fanghole!” Hroth growled. “What do you know about survival, pissy pants? Strategy? Ever heard that word? We fought in the west so ten tribes could go east; slip into the lowlands; feed and breed. The day of vengeance will roll around.”

Flight to the Suss

On the other side of the mountains, the dragon’s share of the Lortmil tribes cascaded downsteepy like snowmelt flooding the gullies in the open-tide of spring. Elves of Celene and woodsman of Ulek fell back and fled before them all the way to the Mill of Altimira where they joined the advance posts of the Royal Army of Ulek and prepared to make a desperate stand. Fastaal Dothmar called up the reserves of Celene, for he supposed that goblins would next sack Courwood, cross the Jewel, and enter the Fey Kingdom. But Hroth deceived them all. Only a small feint of goblins and gnolls came to Courwood, and these fled before the elves and did not stand to fight. Rather they shrank away. So it was named “The Battle of Empty Blows.” Meantime, the rest of the great host turned south and crossed the Jewel near Treehome. The old Suss Forest seemed to swallow them whole, and they were seen no more.

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Into the Abyss

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Six

Thomas Kelly

Hedvyg lifted the dagger, poised to plunge it into the queen’s heart. The Dengar dwarves turned their grey-bearded faces away, unwilling to watch the sacrifice. Dame Thresstone took three steps backward toward the open door. She scarcely dared to breathe.

“Hedvyg! The book for the life of the queen!” Bagbag offered. He slammed the book shut. It closed with a clap like thunder. “Take it! I keep my oath.” He latched the brass clasps and dropped the heavy tome amidst a clutter of parchments, books, and candles strewn atop a wooden table. The magical devilshine in the room flickered and faded away. The eerie swirls of color disappeared, and the all the illuminations returned to those of normal light cast by candles and lamps. The summoners circle which, until then, had slowly revolved at the center of the floor, also faded away as if it had never been there.

Hedvyg laid the dagger down upon Kristryd’s chest. The blade rested upon the finely-crafted ringlets of the queen’s mithril shirt. Moving slowly and cautiously, never taking her eyes off Bagbag, the witch rose to her feet. The expression on her ancient face indicated that she expected treachery. She edged her way to the table and warily crept up on the brassbound book. She glanced at it only briefly, lest Bagbag take advantage of her distracted attention and utter a spell. “The book should have been mine from the start,” she sniffed. “Drelnza wanted me to have it, not Gretyll.”

“Yes,” Bagbag agreed. “It should have been from the start. And now it is.”

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Ceremonies

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Five

Thomas Kelly

“They fall back before us!” Bamadar roared. Jubilant and maddened with battle rage, he hacked his way forward into the thick press of goblins. Behind them the first light of morning already softened the dark sky. Kristryd risked a glance over her shoulder. Her eyes anxiously searched the dark silhouettes of turrets and towers until she espied a faint green light flickering and flashing in one of the high tower windows. Turning her attention back to the fight that boiled all around her, the queen’s eyes narrowed with concern. They had strayed too far from the protection of Hoch Dunglorin’s walls.

“Hold Bamadar! We dare not further! If they outflank us, we are cut off and the gates undefended,” she shouted. Her voice could not carry above the din of battle. I must signal them to fall back! Pushed along with the crush of the fight, she struggled to lift the horn of Celene to her lips. Before she could sound the note, a sudden eruption from the fight ahead abruptly reversed the forward momentum and sent Bamadar tumbling backwards and crashing into her. She fell to the ground with the heavily armored dwarf sprawled backward on top of her. As she disentangled herself, a mad blur in the darkness emerge from the goblin line. A half-score of hobgoblins pushed and shoved their way forward at impossible speed and with impossible strength. Charging like stallions, they passed by her as a rushing wind. So quickly they moved that eye could scarce follow their pace. They tossed aside goblins, orcs, dwarves, and gnomes that stood between them and the gatehouse. Before Kristryd could recover her feet, they were already leaping the makeshift wall the dwarves had placed across the entrance to the barbican. Bodies of dwarves went hurtling over the moat and cracked against the stone walls of the fort as if thrown by giants.

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Siege of Hoch Dunglorin

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Four

Thomas Kelly

Grey skies concealed the sun. A keen-eyed hawk, serving sentry duty in flight high above the fortress, screeched out urgent warning. Her sharp eyes focused on mounted wolves slinking down the pass. They scouted the defenses and circled about the elevation upon which the granite stones of Hoch Dunglorin rose. They drew closer, even braving the ascent, but their riders took care to steer the wargs well beyond the arrowshot of the dwarves upon walls. Darkness obscured the advance of the rest of the host except for the orange light of torches which seemed to extend all the distance up the canyon. Echoing out of the mountains came din of drums and horns. Shouts and war screams, no longer distant, announced the arrival of advance ranks. Presently came another sound to the ears of the soldiers listening from atop the battlements: the sound of singing. Heavy voices, chanting in unison, called off cadence. The hobgoblins had arrived.

Light in the Darkness

Before midnight, the assault began. The defenders heard crashing sounds like rocks striking rocks as they tumbled down an avalanche. The sharp eyes of the dwarves saw well enough in the darkness to discern orcs and goblins moving about, carrying heavy loads. Tall ogres drew near. They held aloft enormous shields to protect the workers from darts and arrows.

Tyren, the captain of the watch, called for light. The arch-clerics, Gilvgola and Father Furduch, invoked their goddesses to shed divine light and illuminate the area outside the walls at the point of assault. Sublime effulgence burst into being and exposed the contrivances of the goblins. The vermin stooped under loads gathered from their march—stones and rocks and whole trunks of trees. Some of these they piled up in embankments to reach the walls where the steepness allowed them. With the rest they filled the shallow moat that protected the easier approaches. Giants and ogres piled immense boulders against the walls.

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Comes the Trampling Host

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Three

Thomas Kelly

Gilvgola conducted coronation solemnities, sacrificed flocks and herds, and declared a sacred meal. The dwarves swore vows and took oaths to Kristryd in the presence of the Sacred Heart. The feasting went long into the night, and the dwarves lifted many bowls to their queen. Kristryd sat at the head of table with Thane Blackaxe at her right and grey-bearded, sorcerous old Bagbag at her left. Sullen-faced Dame Thresstone glowered dejectedly from her place at the women’s table, two steps lower than the table where Kristryd sat.

Reflections

As the night degenerated into bawdreaming songs of Hanseath and Wenta, Kristryd excused herself to the privacy of her room. She removed her silver-framed mirror from it’s velvet cloth wrap and spoke into her own reflection, “Hedvyg! Hear me!” The old witch’s face failed to materialize in the mirror, but Kristryd continued. “Hedvyg! I live and breathe! Mine is the sacred anvil of your fathers, and mine is the devilshine book. I am made queen of the mountains without your assistance. You have failed. I am prophecy fulfilled. You are nothing.”

The first faint glow of the new day began to brighten the sky. Kristryd found her way through the austere halls of Hoch Dunglorin to the chamber where the high elf Gallowagn stayed. She tapped softly on the door. Despite the hour, she knew the duke would not be sleeping.

“Does the Queen of the Lortmil Mountains request my audience?” Gallowagn asked with surprise as his servant showed her into his chambers. “Should I not rather request audience with her?” He stood to his feet and bent at the waist in a graceful bow.

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Hail, Kristryd

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Two

Thomas Kelly

“The messenger has returned,” Bamadar announced. He had to shout to make his voice heard above the thrumming of rain on the oiled skin canopy stretched over the pavilion.

“Step in, Bammer, and dry your beard,” the queen summoned. The soggy soldier lifted the heavy fabric of the door flap and stepped into the dimly-lit pavilion. He shook his head and shuddered his shoulders like a dog shakes itself dry. Turning his attention to the thane’s table, he bowed before the queen. Kristryd reclined next to trueheaded old Bagbag. Her son Pegli sat on her other side. No others were present. “Well, you look comfortable and dry!” Bamadar observed.

“Don’t leave the man standing in the rain,” the queen scolded.

Bamadar raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You would have him enter your pavillion?” he asked for clarification.

“Before he melts or floats away,” she insisted.

Bamadar shrugged and stepped back out into the rain. A moment later he returned with the messenger, an equally soggy traveler, shivering with the cold. He stooped to enter through the low-cut canvas door flap. As the traveler stood to his full height, Pegli leaped to his feet in astonished disbelief. “Mother! That’s an orcblood!” he stated the obvious in protest.

“I recognize him,” Bagbag observed with distaste. He narrowed his eyes and sized the man up. “Claimed to be a Duchyman and a vinter.”

 “Billy Locks of Gliddensbar, m’lords and lady,” the orcblood executed a quick bow toward the dwarves reclining at table. Somewhat self-consciously, he edged nearer to the hot coals burning on the open brazier at the center of the room. His pig-like eyes darted from face to face as he warmed himself. The glow of the hot coals burning cast a play of shadows which made his orcish features the more devilish.   

“Mr. Locks has proven himself a servant most reliable,” Kristryd offered in his defense.

“One of your horse-flesh traders?” Bagbag asked with a dismissive snort.

Kristryd ignored him and focused her attention on the half-orc. “Were you able to deliver my invitation?”

 Billy Locks nodded eagerly. “Yes, m’lady. That I did. Ol’ gundygut’s lonely ear went all atwitch with the news. He’ll take yer bait fer sure.”

“What’s this? With what have you baited the trap?” Bagbag asked.

“We are the bait,” the queen explained. She turned back to the half-orc, “How long before Hroth comes?”

“He’s gathered his headmen, and all the tribes too. They’ll be already on the march by now.”

“They won’t march in the rain,” Bagbag asserted.

“Oh, they’ll march in the rain, they will!” Billy Locks contradicted the wise loremaster. “Hroth’s promised plenty o’ spoils, and he tells them they’ll be wintering in Tringlee and Jurnre too.”

“Mother, what have you done?” Pegli asked wide-eyed and wary.

 “How many does Hroth bring to the field?” Kristryd asked the spy.

“All of them!” the half-orc promised.

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