I've never seen Fenerath and Laern so excited. After defeating a party of evil travelers in the underdark we acquired a map from one of the captives that said our Elves would be very interested in it. Laern says the silver tree that is marked on the map was Solonar's (the power she draw her power from) great gift to Orth and that it has some magical properties which may be able to assist the party on our journeys. Many of the party members, including myself, thought continuing down into the underdark was still the best course of action until Bak Mei and Fenerath both made passionate speeches.
Bak Mei said "While unquestionably we should work to defeat Evil, part of our lot in life is also to search out great Good. Both are necessary. We have been seeking Evil for some time now and recently had very great success. My intuition says we should now respect those successes by not pushing directly for more. Instead, we should seek some enlightenment from the great Good presented to us on this map. Even if we do not find enlightenment and empowerment waiting at the end of the map, we will learn greater respect and deference with which to return to the fight against Evil."
"Never before have I presumed to warn this group of anything but this time I will ask you to remember: Never underestimate the importance of balance." Bak Mei then finished his speech with a deep bow.
Fenerath had commitments with the Knights of Luna before he could continue traveling with us but before he left he also made clear the importance of checking out the tree marked on the map. He said "Regarding the goals of our party, I must remind you all, fair companions, that this war we wage is being fought on two fronts. And while we continue to press our enemies in the sour, lightless world of the underdark, great battles are being fought above ground. The Dwarven and Human armies struggle to hold the tide of evil in check, and while the Knights of Luna fight alongside these noble allies, the Elven Crown remains neutral."
"As we have all learned of the nature of the map Laern found, let me illuminate the incredible potential it represents. I echo what Laern and Bak Mei have said regarding the possibility of our receiving immediate benefits in our current quest below the forests. Yet that is as the lake to the ocean when we consider what this discovery could mean to my fair People."
"If the Silver Tree of Solonar were discovered, especially by two representatives of the Knights of Luna, it would sing clear as an affirmation of the rightness of our course of action. The Knights of Luna could then make a case strengthened by a powerful Symbol given us by our Pantheon. This would almost certainly convince the Crown to ally with the Dwarven and Human armies until the slavering hordes of the southland were routed. And consider this---even if the Crown remained adamant in its longsighted neutrality, there would be many of my People who would join the ranks of Luna, swelling into companies of stalwart Elves who would aid our allies in the overland battle."
"Thus let me be clear in my argument: having any success in locating a Mystery of the First Order such as the luminous Silver Tree would bring not only benefit our immediate task in the underdark but also bring thousands of archers and lancers to the orcish fronts. Our course is as clear as birdsong on a windless winter day. To Victory!"
At this point Fenerath left on his task, Aengus returned to Greyhawk to supervise the construction of Gilliam's temple to Pelor, Laern went into the forest to improve his skills, and Pendecar used his magics to identify the latest batch of magic items we acquired. During this time a comrade of Aengus's, a priest of Celestian named Polarus plus a retainer, arrived and asked to join the party. We agreed and decided to search for the tree as soon an Laern returned. When he did Fenerath had not yet returned, Magnus said he had to have more time to study the new magic books with Cracklefur, and Polarus's retainer seemed to have a hard time getting acquainted with the local foods so they were all left behind as we took off for the tree.
On the way, the we were asked to pay a toll outside of Slagstand and even though there was some grumbling in the group, the toll was paid. Lord Slag is clearly bringing order to this area of the forest and even if we don't agree with the toll rates, only chaos comes from those that don't follow the path of law.
After reaching the Jewel River, we were ambushed at night by a bunch of bugbears and goblins while I was on watch. At the beginning of the fight I was knocked unconscious by a blow to my neck. From what I was told, Errant rushed to my side to heal me with the power given to him by the Draco-Paladine. During this healing process the stealthy bugbear that dropped me gave Errant a death blow that nearly removed his head. After the evil ones were killed or driven off I was able to teleport his body to Greyhawk, where party funds and Gilliam's good words helped pave the way for the church of Pelor to resurrect him. The church has informed us that they may not be able to do this again for our party....
Due to the short amount of time that Errant's soul was disconnected from his body he was able to recover quickly and I was able to teleport us back to the rest of the party. We continued on the path to the tree and soon after encountered a druid of Obad-hai, who spoke warningly but not very clearly. In the end, after much discussion between Laern and the druid, we were allowed to pass. The tree was eventually found, but while we waited for nightfall and the buds to come into blossom, three wraithlike undead emerged from the trunk and fought us. Laern and Bera was nearly killed and Bera seemed to have lost many of her fighting skills that she had learned after her last to two training trips. Pendecar then left for the Keep of the First Rock to inform the party members that had stayed behind of what had happened and of the exact location of the tree.
Laern seemed driven to get one of the blossoms from the tree and with the help of a magical fly spell, he was able to ascend to one of the branches. When he touched the blossom, he disappeared. Errant then organized the rest of us to follow Laern where ever he went. The act of touching the blossom activated a portal that takes one to an evil oriented plane that is only connected to the ethereal. This was gleaned from my inability to access the astral plane and from the damaged that occurred to me during that attempt. Everything that occurred there is only a fuzzy recollection, most likely caused by that damage and the distance from my home outer plane, but a certain ordered list of events does seem to stick out in my mind:
- The ascent and fall from the tree
- Dances with dead wolves
- Headaches with head hunting goblins and giant ringleader master
- The Inn of the Homefire's Hearth, by Ohtar and his wife, Nerdanel
- Meeting of Caranthir, the big evil vampirish elf (not Fenerath)
- Listening -- bard Revann Y'Chem/purchasing -- gnome Millakaxortom
- Band on the run
- Deck of many woes
- Band on the run, refrain number two
- The gnome gets a pile of gems
- Flight toward castle and the sleepless night
- Dryder, Dryder, where is the Dryder
- Glass golem paints party; Mists falls, Jean disappears
- Laern runs to tree, again!
- Wraithlike undead attack, again!
- As the wolf howls
- Berry, blossom, and book.
- Druid takes fruit and points us to more elves
The elvish village where I have penned this is a collection of camouflaged tents and wooden floored flats along the Jewel River that looks like they could be picked up and moved at a moments notice. Magnus' cloak must be of a strong magic since it to take a day for all the other elves to perceive his true form. They got a little excited when they finally notice his true form, but calmed down pretty quickly after an explanation of the realm of the Draco-Paladine by Errant. We are then told to stay near the village and not to wander out alone. I wonder why they worry about us so? None of the elves are in any way rude, and the food, wine, and song are exceptional, but no one goes out of there way to talk with us, and I never learn of any of their names.
The only community member I spend a lot of time with was a very friendly and beautiful half elf priestess of Hanali, the elvish goddess of love. She heals Bera and I with water poured from a shining silvery pitcher. Both of our massive scars to our heads go away and the problems with our minds are mostly restored to normal. Now I seem able to recollect what has occurred recently but activities at the other plane are still much of a mystery. Laern and Fenerath are pulled aside and talked with a couple of times, and Fenerath spends time alone with various people in the village that he seeks out, but it looks like our trek failed to convince the elvish upper hierarchy to ally with the Dwarven and Human armies.
We go back to underdark and meet a water elemental near the Grell Room. A Manta ray with a mage's powers. Both Angus and I are injured to near death.--We stay here and heal up. Bak Mei takes a fireball like thing in the chest and it does nothing to him...it's a chi something.
We again are attacked. Magnus and I are in chamber to the side of path. I then can't move anything while Magnus discovers that Quotoa priest in deep underwater almost across from chamber. This priest can cast spells underwater. I'm is released from paralyze after a new "sizzling" look is established. [Magnus set Bera on an electrically trapped wood raft] Once again we recuperate.
Angus tries to damn up some of the water with fortress, but it only makes a circle around him, so Magnus, Angus and I move stones to build a dam; the others keep guard. We are surprised by flying/levitating Illithid. Sev puts up intellect fortress. I hit tentacle fly twice with bow. He tells me to walk over the 30 ft drop fall and I do. In the meantime, Fenerrath's mind is numbed. Myst attacks Illithid for a scratch. I'm attacked by many Quotoa underwater. Magnus flies in to save me. Sev and Angus continue to fight the tentacle thing. Mist hits the Quotoa--a death blow! I pass out after much damage again; Magnus takes hits, but wins initiative and is a hero.
[While waiting for Errant to return] Sevitor, Bera, Fennorath and myself ... wisely made ourselves available to lord Keiv for any duties he saw fit. We were dispatched to perform a small errand. A Knight of the Heironian order was sent to a small hamlet two days ride north-east of the keep called Telemark. The long standing ruler of the town was a mage of ill repute. The town had two laws; No priests allowed and You must pay the taxes. Word came to Lord Keiv that the reigning Mage was dead and brigands were running the hamlet into the ground. He asked his friend, The Crimson Knight to go into Telemark and restore order. That was a month hence and not a word of or from the Crimson Knight.
We arrived in Telemark where we saw a large (~20 strong) group of "constables" loitering before the "City Hall"/tavern. We were met by the mayor who pointed out the long list of rules and taxes imposed on all comers. Outlawed were Magic and the standard list of crimes and everything and anything you could think of was heavily taxed. The mayor proceeded to tally our taxes which amounted to more than 300 gold pieces to stay in town overnight. This was not including lodging and stabling the mounts. I personally protested this apparent highway robbery and demanded we speak with the Crimson Knight immediately.
After an extended audience with the Crimson Knight we could not find anything illegal with the activities in Telemark. The laws were posted and advertised and the populace was pleased with the situation. We all thought it odd to have 20 plus constables for a small hamlet of 50 farmers, but this is the wild coast and there are Ork armies to the south. The justice dealt was severe and swift but the laws were clear.
Since we did not have the coin necessary for the taxation (it was the law after all) we parted Telemark and returned to the Keep with a note from The Crimson Knight. The Lord Crimson also asked if tools could be sent from the Keep to dismantle the large silver dome that the evil mage used as a research center and home for the past 20 years. After arriving at the Keep we conveyed our findings and delivered the writ to lord Keiv. Upon an adequate supper we expressed our desire to help the Crimson Knight with the dismantling of the foul mages lair. We were given the tools and wagon and were in route to Telemark when one of the "constables" approached from the small hamlet. With him he bore the sword and robes of the Crimson Knight.
Apparently the evil wizard was only in temporary indisposition whilst he transformed from a living state to a undead state. He rose from the silver dome flew out and dropped a meteor swarm, the highest level of magic in the school of invocation, on Lord Crimson. I am surprised that his sword survived.
We immediately brought this news back to the Keep, where Cracklefer advised that a potent Litch of such magics would be a costly drain on the Lord Keiv to deal with at this time. The Litch (Zohrn, I think) was after all interested in research and has done just that for the past 20 years.
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