Common Year 579

16. Along came a ranger
From 21 to 23 Planting, 579 CY

After arriving in Ringland, the party sought lodging in the Inn of the Shriveled Mushroom. There they met the half-elf ranger Hessa, who was also traveling to White Plume Mountain for reasons that she did not reveal. She had been trying to recruit adventurers for the journey, but no one in Ringland was willing to go. Zarra and Hessa saw something formidable in each other, so, with Devil Pancake’s assent, the ranger became the newest member of the party.

Hessa’s wilderness skills proved invaluable in locating the entrance to Keraptis’ lair near the base of White Plume Mountain. Navigating the lair was another matter. It was stocked with not just creatures and traps but also puzzles and tests of intelligence and character. Devil Pancake acquitted himself admirably in solving these and, as a reward, gained the service of one of Keraptis’ flesh golems.

The party acquired the hammer Whelm after a very difficult battle with a vampire. A series of flooded chambers with kelpie guardians might seem to point the way to the trident Wave, but if there is a way to lower the water, it has not yet been found.

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15. Across the Nyr Dyv
From 3 to 21 Planting, 579 CY

The party learned that the evil forces at work in the temple might have located three legendary weapons — the sword Blackrazor, the warhammer Whelm, and the trident Wave — in White Plume Mountain, an active volcano in the northern reaches of the realm, long rumored to be the home of the ancient wizard Keraptis.

To prevent the temple from acquiring these weapons, Zarra, Devil Pancake, and Uvogin set out for White Plume Mountain, while Father Dominco and Lancet du Laird left for Veluna to bring Canon Terjon to justice.

The first leg of the journey took the party to the city of Dyvers on the coast of Nyr Dvy, a freshwater lake the size of a sea. There they met Quinn, the captain of a trading barge. Captain Quinn agreed to convey the party by water to a smuggler’s landing near Admundfort, which would put them within a three-day march of Ringland, the closest settlement to White Plume Mountain.

Along the way, the party repelled two giant squids and faced a nightmarish undead pirate crew. Devil Pancake used fireballs to destroy a dozen pirate skeletons before the crew had even boarded, which they proceeded to do after ramming the barge. As Devil and Quinn fought off the attackers, Zarra warped the wood of the ghost ship’s hull and, for good measure, set the deck on fire. The ship promptly sank to the bottom of the lake. Yet the party recovered the pirates’ treasure by diving for it with the Cloak of the Manta Ray.

During the last leg of the journey, from the smuggler’s port to Ringland, the party overtook and destroyed a delegation of giants from the Temple of Elemental Evil. The party did not learn whether the delegation was coming to negotiate for the weapons or to take them by force, but they did find what appeared to be a gift or a tribute: a Deck of Many Things.

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14. Good news and bad news
From 1 to 3 Planting, 579 CY

Good news: In response to Father Dominco’s request, the Church of Rao in Veluna sent a High Inquisitor to Hommlet to investigate Canon Terjon’s indiscretions. The High Inquisitor paid good coin to stay at the Wretched Hen.

Bad news: The High Inquisitor was murdered in the night.

Good news: The party returned to Hommlet and correctly deduced the identity of the killer. Sir Richarde, a knight from the city of Greyhawk, committed the deed under the control of a succubus. The party drove the succubus out of the knight.

Bad news: The succubus then possessed Canon Terjon.

Good news: The party destroyed the succubus without killing either Canon Terjon or Sir Richarde. Canon Terjon repented and agreed to submit to the judgement of Veluna, while Father Dominco installed Calmert as the new priest of the Church of St. Cuthbert.

Bad news: The lower level of the Temple of Elemental Evil invited the party to enter. The party nearly died at the hands of a lamia.

Good news: The party found and defeated a powerful assassin and wizard.

Bad news: The assassin and wizard were worshippers of the Demon Queen of Spiders.

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13. Loose ends and a drunken dwarf
From 6 to 7 Growfest, 579 CY

The party cleared out the rest of the Temple of Elemental Evil — or as much of it as they could access. According to a bugbear, the lower levels of the temple are closed unless by invitation, suggesting that perhaps the demon imprisoned in the temple is not as restricted in her actions as the viscount’s agents might want to think.

Otis seems to believe that the legendary Slave Lords are perhaps more than a legend, and that they might have something to do with the reactivation of the temple. He said that Burne had gone out seeking information about these slavers, but he did not know when — or if — the warlock would return.

While these events transpired, the party’s dwarf remained behind at camp in a drunken stupor with his new friend, the pirate Jack.

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12. The chattering skulls of Prefect Alrrem
5 Growfest, 579 CY

While the much-missed Zarra and her raven Void gained proficiency with the poisons that Murfles made, the rest of the party descended into the temple to seek out and destroy the final priest. This they did, after an encounter with werewolves, self-professed angelic beings, and six talkative skulls in the Temple of Fire.

The ceremonial robes of the fire-temple’s priest, whose name, the party learned, was Prefect Alrrem, enabled Father Dominco to converse with the skulls — and inadvertently summon the temple guardians after refusing to provide the required sacrifice. The subsequent fight with the guardian salamanders was not as difficult as prior encounters, perhaps because the Temple of Fire has been significantly weakened since the Battle of Emridy Meadows and the exile of Lareth the Beautiful.

Buried in the coals of the sacrifice pit was an intelligent magic sword. The sword tried to become the property of Uvogin, but the party wisely intervened, fearing that the sword would possess their companion.

While freeing prisoners, the party met Countess Tillahi of Celene and her military attache. They explained that they had been captured and sold to the temple as eventual human sacrifices by the slave lords of the Wild Coast, a whispered name of terror and half-believed rumors that bears further investigation.

The countess promised to reward the party handsomely for freeing her, and she also asked if they knew of the whereabouts of Murfles. Murfles is the countess’ youngest daughter, but she was imprisoned for habitual theft. Eventually she escaped, perhaps to join the circus, or perhaps to become an adventurer. Justice demands that she finish out her sentence, according to the laws of Celene.

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11. When the elephant in the room is a kraken
From 2 to 5 Growfest, 579 CY

Canon Belsoming, evil high priest of the Temple of Water, is dead. His under-priest is dead. His other under-priest is now Zarra’s puppet. The Temple of Elemental Evil is falling.

And yet… and yet…

The party faced several difficult battles against one horrible monster after another, including a juggernaut and some drelb guardians, not to mention a kraken, from which the party fled. But is the kraken plotting with cold intelligence for a second encounter with the monster slayers, from which there will be no escape? It seems to possess strange powers of mind and a body made entirely of water. The water-temple worshipped it as a god. How can weapons hope to prevail?

And the Temple of Fire has yet to be found…

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10. The old bugbear trick
From 28 Coldeven to 2 Growfest, 579

While searching for both the Temple of Water and the Temple of Fire, the party instead encountered the bugbear soldiers in the employ of the Temple of Air. Several skirmishes with these creatures led the party to Prefect Kelno, high priest of the Temple of Air. The party fought a desperate battle against him, which was ultimately successful.

The remnant of the air-temple’s bugbears fell prey to Father Dominco’s strategizing, while the increasingly effective teamwork of all the companions is enabling Zarra to strike with precision from the shadows.

The party returned to Hommlet to replenish supplies and learned that one of their new barmaids has been paying for Canon Terjon’s religious instruction with certain personal favors. Father Dominico called Terjon out and sent word to Velnua for an official investigation.

To help the villagers forget about the grisly murders that had occurred at the Wretched Hen, Zarra put on an exclusive performance, and Uvogin and Devil Pancake reenacted the party’s adventures.

Revitalized, the party set out once more for the Temple of Elemental Evil.

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9. Trollhair
27 Coldeven, 579

The party put forth a sustained assault on the second level of Temple of Elemental Evil.

They slew many evil humanoids in the service of the Temple of Water—and Uvogin earned the name Trollhair from the temple’s terrified bugbear guards after he waded through their ranks wearing the hair of Oohlgrist, the hideous troll-wife queen. Despite steady progress, the party has not yet found the water temple’s altar or any of the evil clerics that serve it.

Careful exploration revealed that the Temple of Fire occupies the same level as the Temple of Water. The two sides do not appear to be in open conflict.

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8. Under new management
From 21 to 27 Coldeven, 579

The party fought bravely to rescue Goodwife Gundigoot, but the goodwife was already dead. She had been sacrificed in a terrible ritual to restore life to Larerth the Beautiful. But Father Dominco’s cleansing of the ruined moathouse prevented the ritual from completing in full, so that Lareth is now as hideous in appearance as he is depraved of soul. He has sworn to murder the false god Rao.

In the battle to escape the moathouse, Turuko, Zert, and the Trading Post merchants were slain, and Elmo’s militia was reinstalled. But when the party returned to the Inn of the Welcome Wench, Kobort murdered Ostler Gundigoot, the goodwife’s husband. Reluctant to slay Korbort, but knowing that it must be done, the party avenged the innkeeper and subsequently took up ownership of the inn. They renamed the Wretched Hen.

When the mayor appeared, asking difficult questions, Zarra bent her powers of persuasion upon him and put him entirely under her will. She also took Ostler’s seat on the Council of Elders.

The party returned to the Temple of Elemental Evil and found a number of captives. One of them, a gnome, tried to talk his way into the party, but Uvogin didn’t trust him and would have killed him preemptively if the party would have allowed it. The gnome fled, got lost in the maze of tunnels, died noisily by some zombies, rose again as a zombie himself, and was put to final rest by Uvogin’s axe.

The party also rescued three prisoners from the earth temple’s torturer. One of the prisoners admitted that he was a rapist, which led to Zarra exacting harsh — if fitting — retribution and instructing the party in the ways of the drow. The other two prisoners were aspiring prostitutes from Nulb. The party hired them to work at the Wretched Hen, but as serving maids, not as prostitutes, and Dominco introduced one of them to the Church of St. Cuthbert.

Pressing further into the temple, the party encountered Romag, High Priest of the Temple of Earth. Romag tried to bribe the party into murdering his rival, the High Priest of the Temple of Water. Uvogin beheaded him.

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7. Dust to dust
From 17 to 21 Coldeven, 579

The party found evidence of two cults operating in the Temple of Elemental Evil.

The first sacrifices living victims to the element of earth and appears to be the source of the ghasts and ghouls that the party has been fighting. The second, which worships the element of water, left a note for someone named Romag, commanding him to recognize the authority of the water temple or die horribly.

But the earth temple is not without power of its own, as Uvogin discovered to the near ruin of his friends. He tried to sacrifice himself on the altar of earth, hoping that it would open the bronze doors to hell, but it summoned an earth elemental instead. The party’s strength and ingenuity — and rope, and patience — were stretched to the limit to destroy the creature.

The party also rescued a group of humans who had been kidnapped by the earth temple’s ghouls. The party brought them safely to Hommlet and left them in the care of the Church of St. Cuthbert, but Hommlet was not as safe as anyone had hoped. While the party was away, the traitors Turuko, Zert, and the owners of the Trading Post captured Goodwife Gundigoot from the Inn of the Welcome Wench and dragged her bloody to the ruined moathouse, maybe alive, maybe dead.

The party converged on the moathouse, preparing for battle.

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