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? 

Continue reading “The Chronicler’s Final Tale “

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.

Continue reading “End of War”

Iggwilv Tribute Video

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Greyhawk video!

Here’s my second attempt at a video featuring a montage of Iggwilv-Tasha artwork, both published and fan-generated, set to David Bowie’s “Putting out Fire.” This revision has artwork from the fantastic Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. To learn more about the backstory of Tasha, her mother Baba Yaga, her sister Elena the Fair, and how Tasha became Iggwilv, the mother of Iuz, read the Mother of Witches cycle.


Don’t be a fonkin! Follow Greyhawkstories.com.

Quest for the Vault of Daoud

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Mother of Witches: Part Five

Thomas Kelly

“At first glance, it seemed a featureless, endless plain, not that anyone would wish to even glance at it in the first place.” The meaningless color of the sky over the unending and undulating landscape looked like the delusions of a fever-induced dream. The wind gibbered, chittered, screeched, screamed, and wailed. The putrescence of the ever-rotting world of puss and popping tumors assaulted the senses in waves. Her eyes watered; her senses reeled, and she asked herself, “Have I this time gone too far?” How far has she gone? Into the lower realms of the Abyss seeking a merciless fiend, a warrior of the Blood War, a restless unforgiven spirit of Oerth.

Interview with a Hezrou

“Six centuries since I have been named by the likes of flesh and blood,” the belching hezrou reflected as it tore the twitching limbs from the torso of a lesser tanar’ri. It carried out its grizzly task like one accustomed to his handiwork, like the skilled hands of a fisherman cleaning a fish. His victim, an enormous scorpion with the screeching head of a hag, spit and squealed with pain. The hezrou warrior tossed the legless wriggling body aside and turned his full attention to the woman that stood before him. “By which deviltry didst thou findeth me, and what wouldst thou have of me?” the beast spoke an ancient dialect of Old Oeridian. A heavy perspiration of stinking liquid moistened the abomination’s naked skin as if the effort of dismembering his foe had induced a heavy sweat. Nearly a half-ton of leering toad towered over the slight frame of the dark-haired girl. The nightmare beast peeled back its hideous lips to reveal rows of spiked teeth. It might have easily snatched the girl up and swallowed her whole. Or so it seemed.

“Not easily!” Tasha answered the question. She recoiled at the maleficent odor of the sticky goo slicking the creature’s unholy flesh. She forced herself to swallow lest she wretch and lose her bearing in the presence of the fiend. “My quest for Your Ruthlessness began in my own personal tower on the outskirts of Lopolla where I applied myself to learn the lore of that land.”

“Twas named Hlupallu in my day,” the hezrou swatted a vrock from the air, crumpling it against the stones. He crushed the writhing bird beneath his massive toady foot. Giant baby-faced maggots wriggled up from the ground to feast on the ichory flesh.

“Indeed. The same,” Tasha continued undistracted by the gooey carnage at her feet. “In the course of my studies, I came upon mention of a magnificent treasure vault, not-long concealed, containing wondrous magics once collected by the wandering mendicant, Daoud of Tusmit.”

“Never heard of him,” the hezrou feigned disinterest.

“But I have heard much, for much there is to hear! I would, if I may contrive it, pilfer all the baubles that one-time pasha possessed.”

“What’s that to me?” the toad-fiend croaked, but she had now piqued his interest.

Continue reading “Quest for the Vault of Daoud”

Oerth Journal 34 Review

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I’ll just say it right away. This is a fantastic issue of Oerth Journal. Five out of five wizards! More than any other issue of Oerth Journal that I remember reading, this issue has strong narrative content and memorable stories in article after article. No longer just backgrounds for the setting, Oerth Journal is telling the stories of Greyhawk, and that’s what Greyhawkstories.com is all about.

Hot Cover Art

First thing you notice about Oerth Journal 34 is the beautiful cover. It depicts a young Iggwilv, from when she still went by the name Hura, looting the treasure vault of Daoud. This picture is near and dear to me because it’s a commission the talented Greyhawk artist LadyLoth did for Greyhawkstories about a year ago. Her work exceeded my expectations. I’m really pleased to see that the piece made the cover the journal in conjunction with my story about Iggwilv’s quest for the Vault of Daoud. The timing accords well with the recent release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, but that was by design.

Continue reading “Oerth Journal 34 Review”

Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!

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Thomas Kelly

Not ashamed to admit I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. How could I not?

Iggwilv, the notorious witch of Greyhawk, was originally a girl by the name of Natasha the Dark, raised alongside her sister Elena the Fair in the dancing hut of Baba Yaga. That little piece of information fueled my imagination and sent me on a mission to create tales from Natasha’s girlhood, providing Greyhawk’s most infamous witch with some backstory. As a fan of Russian folk tales, I cast the Natasha tales in the same style as the source material, mimicking and borrowing heavily from Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga and her daughters. You can read my small and still-growing collection of Tasha stories here: Iggwilv Mother of Witches

If it’s not clear to you already, “Tasha” is just the diminutive form of the name Natasha. And speaking of nomenclature, it should be obvious to everyone that “Baby Yoda” is really just a clever cipher for the old witch of Russian folklore.

BABy YodA = BABa YagA

Well, maybe not. But it looks suspiciously similar to me.

Continue reading “Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!”

Something Wicked

The Hateful Wars: Prelude

Thomas Kelly

Something wicked flickered into view. It flashed and pulsed in bursts of flame, smoke, and light that leapt up from the burning coals in the scryer’s pot. Gretyll, the eldest of the three sisters and most powerful of the three, cast another handful of smoke-raising herb onto the hot coals as Hedvyg, the youngest of the three sisters, completed the recitation of the incantation. Gunhyld, the middling sister and ever the excitable of the three, cackled and keaked, “I can see her! It’s working! I see the face of a human woman!”

“Fonkin! Be silent!” Gretyll scolded. She tossed on a third handful of smoke-raising herb and the figure formed more fully in the haze—a woman beautiful by any standard, even in the eyes of the dwarf sisters. The lovely form seemed to be made of smoke and flame, yet somehow, almost solid and corporeal. Flowing dark hair undulated and writhed as if alive in motion with the rising heat from the burning coals, and imperious lips hardened into a sneer. Those lips moved in concert with a voice that came as if from beyond Oerth, “Kneel before me.” Continue reading “Something Wicked”

Behind the Throne of Iuz

Gary Gygax

Iuz’s greatest fear is not a paladin of Pelor or the Cudgel of Cuthbert or any heroes of good. He fears his mom teaming up with his girlfriend. In the Greyhawk novel Artifact of Evil, Gary Gygax narrates a comical encounter between Iuz, his mother Iggwilv, and his girlfriend Zuggtmoy. It starts when the dark lord’s orgasmic scrying device becomes a portal that lets the two of them into his private palace:

The oily liquid in the massive [scrying] pool erupted in a geyser that struck the ceiling almost twenty feet above its surface. As the droplets pattered down throughout the room, a pair of women appeared. Before Iuz’s startled gaze stood Iggwilv, his mother, and Zuggtmoy, Demoness Lady of Fungi. Between them, grasped by both, was the Second Key! Continue reading “Behind the Throne of Iuz”

Iggwilv’s Quest in the Temple of Elemental Evil

Gary Gygax

In Artifact of Evil, Gary Gygax summarizes an important chapter in the career of “Iggwilv, the Mother of Evil.” She races against a band of adventurers on a quest in the depths of the Temple of Elemental Evil. Iggwilv is there on a mission to win the loyalty of a powerful new ally: Zuggtmoy. The Fiend of Fungus, after all, is more-or-less her daughter-in-law.

Here’s how Gygax told the tale:

At the northern edge of the Kron Hills, where the fringe of the great Gnarley Forest sent no more of its briars and oaks toward the setting sun, stand the ruins of a large building. Once active, the place is now generally shunned, for another battle was fought near it and its builders slain or gone in defeat. The place is, of course, the Temple of Elemental Evil – its ruin, rather – as any local serf or peasant farm-boy from the neighborhood could tell you. Other than an occasional group of adventurous explorers seeking forgotten treasure, nobody goes to the temple. Bad, evil things haunt the place still. Continue reading “Iggwilv’s Quest in the Temple of Elemental Evil”

Artifact of Evil

Hot on the heels of my review of Gary Gygax‘s first novel, Saga of Old City, we come to the second in the series (and the last published by TSR), Artifact of Evil, published in 1986.

This book has a very different feel than its predecessor, even though the action takes place only a few months after the end of the first. Where Saga of Old City was episodic, with no real plot threading throughout it other than chronicling Gord’s early adventures, Artifact of Evil has a definite plot. The forces of Evil are searching for a powerful artifact that can be used to loose the evil god Tharizdun from his prison, thus bringing doom to the world unless they can be stopped. Continue reading “Artifact of Evil”