Greyhawk CY576

Glory and Spoils to the Victors!
2nd of Brewfest, 576

You did it! The Black Dragon is dead and you all managed to escape with your hides intact, well Dronnik is a bit singed, but nothing a little healing cannot cure.

As you look back over the last few months, or at least the parts that you remember, it has been a crazy series of bloody battles and skirmishes, an ancient abandoned Dwarven stronghold, fierce Minotaurs and massive underground caves. At the end a huge, dead Black dragon was killed and the treasure it coveted and protected became yours.

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The last several days in Stonesend have been welcome to your aching and tired bodies (and minds) and now with the week long Brewfest Holiday wrapping up you all know it is time to move on as you have all discussed, although the longer delay to partake in the entire week of festivities may have been a bit too much.

Oh well…live and learn, next stop Gryrax!

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What Lurks Ahead
23rd of Harvester, 576

The heavy smell of decomposition overwhelms your senses but the deep, acidic tinge to the air is what truly makes the hair on your neck stand up. You think you know what lurks ahead, but the uncertainty of exactly how things will play out is what has got your collective stomachs tied up in knots.

The dark, massive and abandoned halls of Azadmere are a silent and lonely reminder of the once glorious Dwarven stronghold that now reek of the fur of the massive Minotuars and the acidic bile that the Black Dragon carries with it wherever it goes. This stronghold once must have held thousands of hard working and hard drinking peoples that never imagined that the fate of these halls would become at which now lies all around you.

At this point there is really nothing left to do except press on together one more time, glad in knowing you are surrounded by friends.

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War is Hell
16th thru 20th of Harvester, 576

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As the puff of smoke from the vanishing Mage disappears you hear the sounds of armor and weapons jostling, the sounds of men and women speaking in hushed tones, and the smells of campfires, weapon oil and anticipation emitting through the flaps of your tent.

As you all take a quick peak outside you see the mass of soldiers all around you in the war camp of the Ulek Combined Army, as it has been dubbed.

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Awakening
15th of Harvester, 576

Within the swimming black you see faint images and hear distant sounds but nothing seems real and always at a distance of your senses. Only flashes of dreams or nightmares or other actions that transcend your own will and spirit. There are sounds of faint laughter in the echoing darkness, these sounds are interrupted by screams that seem even closer. But are they your sounds or are they being made by something or someone else? Then the sounds of metal on metal, more screams, but this time of pain and death, then a pause and a blurred vision of mountains and valleys and battlements, but none that you have ever seen. This state of shadowy, unfeeling non-reality seems to continue on and on… but even within this “world” time is of no meaning.

And then it hits you like a hammer to the stomach…LIGHT! EMOTIONS! LIFE!! Cool, dry air burns your throats as you take heaving gasps of air in and out, in and out. Tears stream from your eyes, from the coughing caused by the dryness in your throats, caused by the stinging light burning your eyes and making it almost painful to keep them open and caused by joy, the joy of knowing you are alive.

As the tears subside and your breathing becomes more normal you see that you are in some sort of large tent with five cots in it and a small brazier giving off heat in the center of the temporary structure. The lantern that hangs from a hook on the tent pole in the center of the room sheds enough light to show that you are surrounded by your friends, all together still, but also standing there is a hunched and grey bearded old man, wizened by countless years, dressed in a deep blue robe of very high quality and holding a gnarled and knotted staff in his left hand. The old man looks tired and worn, like all of the weight of the world has been on his shoulders for a very long time.

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Suddenly you hear a high-pitching squeak come from Half-Pint as you try to recollect some memory of this old man, and as you look over to the smiling face of Filvan, words trying to come out of his mouth over the squeaking giggles, the old man cuts him off with a stern look, “Not a peep out of that gnome mouth of your Filvan!” the old man states curtly, “I will hopefully answer your questions, my old student, as well as the questions your new friends may have for me soon enough, but for now you must all keep your traps shut and listen very carefully.”

The old man clears his throat and continues, “I am Onoculus and if you couldn’t already guess I am Filvan’s former mentor, and NO, I am not dead! Now…it has been over four months since you saw that pitch black comet streak across the evening sky and you are no longer in Stonesend. The comet was an evil portent of things to come, and those things have and are coming, but I believe it was more than that, I believe it was a vile, evil being returning in some form here to Oerth. This evil is known by many names but the true name, the proper name is Tharazdun.” The old wizard pauses a moment to take off his hat and light a short stemmed pipe he just pulled from a pocket in his robe, “I am aware of what you five did, I have maintained a close eye on my short apprentice; actually I have done more than that, I have been able to see what you all have seen ever since you first set your eyes on that oily, amoeba-like form and it seemed to you all as if the black tendrils pierced deep into your minds. That corruption of the Evil One now knows who you are, where you are and much, much more. As soon as the form made it’s attack on your minds I was able to shield your minds from the most harsh affects of the corruption and to cause enough interference to make it harder to know where you are and what you are doing.”

The wizard pauses again, takes a drag off the pipe, “Then came the night that the comet crossed the sky…because of the shrieking pain you were all attacked with, yes it was an attack on your minds and spirits by the Evil One, and the link that I had created I too was paralyzed, but for a brief moment, but then I had to act!” Another short drag off the pipe, “So when your minds went black and it seemed as if you were in a shadowy, unreal world, it was me. I was able to, with some help, create a link between myself and each of you and in that time you were simply put, only functioning beings on the most basic of levels. Since that night that I took control you have all been soldiers in a series of battles against the evil creatures that awoke and became almost frenzied with the passing of the comet. The first battle was a large attack on Stonesend itself, which was easily repelled due to the chaos of all of the evil forces that came together is too much haste. But now you march in an army of forces from the Ulek States and beyond on the largest encampment of evil humanoids that is left in the region, that is where we stand now.”

“Now,” the wizard snaps, “do you have any questions?” Your minds all flow with every thought that comes to your mind, the wizard attempting to answer each quick fired question as fast as he can when finally he yells, “ENOUGH!”

“I must leave now, but one last thing before I go I need each of you to take one of these amulets and where it at all times. This amulet will protect you from the continue mental attacks and probing that the Evil One will continue with until he has killed you all. I have also been able to get similar amulets to all of your loved ones whose lives are also in danger from the Evil One due to their relationship with you. For now you must complete the job in front of you, but it is nearing an end, and when it is over I will be in contact again, but only when the time is right.” The old wizard looks less old and hunched now, as if years of wear and worry have been shed in a matter of moments. He looks at each of you and smirks before saying, “You all see each other as you truly are, but others will see you differently. Not to worry it is a simple charm that can easily be removed, but for the time being I must keep all of you as well hidden as I can to keep you all alive. Stay safe and be well. And once you have ended this threat I urge you all to join me in Greyhawk City.” And with that he disappears in a flash.

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Of Evil Yet to Come
8th Flocktime, 576

The smells of food from the kitchen, ale pouring from the tap (and spilling on the tables and floor) and the wood burning in the huge stone fireplace is a welcome comfort to you all. The past few days in Stonesend have been a wonderful reprieve and rest, and honestly, none of you want it to end right now. Maybe that is why you have all been a bit quiet when the question, “What should we do next?”, comes up… and it always comes up. Unfortunately, so is the nut brown ale from Keoland you all have been drinking.

“Ugh, time to switch to whiskey anyway.”, sighs Nana Moob, as you all agree with a smirk and a nod just as the bard on the small stage kicks into a roaring rendition of “Teldarn the Drunk”.

Several minutes later the song finishes up just as you finish your third round of whiskey shots, when you all hear a commotion coming from outside the Inn. As you exit the warm confines of your temporary home you notice that the street outside the Inn is filled with people milling about, muttering to themselves or the person standing near them staring up into the early evening sky. You all look up to see what everyone is looking at and you see it…

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A massive, black object streaking across the heavens that seems to pulsate with a dark and evil energy as it moves. As you stand there in the middle of the street, captivated by the heartbeat like pulse you all suddenly are all overwhelmed by a brain-splitting shriek that brings tears to your eyes and knocks you to the ground as you all tightly wrap your hands over your ears, hoping to block this horrible sound from your wavering minds. As the sound continues for what seems like an eternity you are able to look up for long enough to see that no other person in the street seems to be on the ground and clutching their heads as you all are. What is this terrible thing you think, why is it doing this to me?

Suddenly all goes black…

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A New Beginning
26th of Planting, 576

A great sense of relief and accomplishment settles over all of you after the events of the last few days have come to a close.

You defeated the evil cult, drove the leader away and once he was gone, had an easy time dispatching of the few remaining cultists. After searching through the remaining portions of the underground temple you head back through the mines and decide to set up camp in the living quarters area of Grimnar’s mine before you head back to Axegrind to check on Grimnar and how his recovery is going.

But what is next? What is this cult and who is their leader? What evil power do they represent? Where did their leader flee to?

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Symbol
25th of Planting, 576

Here is an image of the symbol you saw represented all over the hall of the temple within the art of the tapestries.

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Shivers
25th of Planting, 576

It has only been a few hours since you saw it, but the image of the object is burnt into your mind and pulsing, amorphous orb of blackness sends shivers down your spine.

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At least tonight you can sleep in a soft, warm bed at the Axegrind Inn.

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The Return
23rd of Planting, 576

After a quick trip to Axgrind and back over the last day you now stand at the face of the entrance to the cave where the horrors begun just a few days ago.

You all quickly move into the entrance to the mines and the portion that you are more familiar with since it had been your makeshift living quarters when you were here with Grimnar those first few days.

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Gruesome Discovery
18th of Planting, 576

As you all stagger back down the long, stone passageway you all are still horrified by the evil that men can commit. Was this done in the name of some evil God? Was it done out of some twisted notion of pleasure? Or both? The tortures that were carried out on Grimnar were probably more than most others could even hope to handle, thank the gods for the dwarf being as tough as nails, but the other dwarves were not so lucky. The only solace is the idea that they are now in a better place and better they are dead then alive while the ghoul was chewing on their flesh.

You continue down the passage carrying the broken body of Grimnar as he passes from consciousness to unconsciousness, knowing that you have little time to get to a much safer place. The healing that Filvan and Garrett were able to preform will keep the old dwarf alive long enough for you to make it to Axegrind, but then what? You all assume that there are more cultists, if that is what they are, hidden in the passageways and rooms of this buried and hidden sanctum, will they pursue you? Part of you hopes they will so you can wipe any semblance of this group from the face of Oerth.

AS you make it back to the large cave room where you had set up your living quarters you quickly pull all of our possessions together and prepare the wagon and hitch the mules to it so Grimnar can have a more comfortable ride to Axegrind. You figure if you push it you can make it there in the next 6 hours or so.

Time to move.

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