Godsday, 25 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)
The party spends the rest of the day trying to work out a plan. They also discover that Tyrrell is being scryed upon, so they lay down a false plan for the scryer’s benefit. Riddle’s divination about Gauthfellow’s home reveals, “All entrances are sealed or trapped. Your target is below. He hides now within his art. Be not distracted by his duplicates. Prepare for constructs and summoned minions.” The party also manages to dredge up some lost memories about elven artists who gave up their souls in exchange for hidden knowledge from their art. When they finally returned to this world they were shadowy undead remnants of themselves, able to teleport from painting to painting and step in and out of artwork. They are forever hungry to reclaim their morta life and take over the bodies of those who approach them. This sounds right up Gauthfellow’s alley.
Waterday, 26 Ready’reat CY 595
Jane’s attempt to scry Gauthfellow works. In a pool of water in a Greyhawk park, she sees a painting of Gauthfellow in a 20’ x 20’ stone room. Immediately in front of the painting is a 12’ tall metal, stone, and wood Shield Guardian (a construct). Another of Riddle’s divinations reveals, “Below the pantry lies a ladder. Avoid the pressure plate in the armory and go below again,” so the party decides they will approach from the back door, after midnight on the 28th.
Earthday, 27 Ready’reat CY 595
(The following session occurred within the time frame of Session 25, but actually occurred via email after the session)
At 9:00 am, Archie is ushered into the office of Ermaldon Webb. “Welcome, soldier. I understand you have information for me from our eastern protectorates. Something more than Trask’s reports have covered. My ear is yours. For the next five minutes, at least.”
Archie: “Yes, sir. Thank you for your time. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. My name is Lieutenant Archibald Forrest, until recently stationed at Blackwall Keep. In fact, I was raised there by Geoffron Forrest, a tracker in service to Greyhawk. I was fifteen when Geoffron passed, and I assumed his position and swore service to the city of Greyhawk. I spent my life guarding the northern borders of the Mistmarsh Swamp, learning military disciplines as well as the ways of the wild.
“You may have heard about the recent lizardfolk uprising in the area, as well as the specific attack on Blackwall itself. In short, I am here to ask for a written treaty for the cessation of all hostilities against the lizardfolk. We have spoken with a representative of the lizardfolk who is gathering support for agreeing to such a treaty. I also have an introduction letter here from the Mayor of Diamond Lake, whom I understand you are familiar with?”
Webb: “Ah, Neff. Yes. Still surrounding himself with underaged female assistants, I assume. Well, it’s good to learn that the Mayor of Diamond Lake finds value in this notion of a treaty.
“So, let me get this straight, Lieutenant Forrest: you were taken prisoner by the lizardfolk, and in exchange for your life you promised a cessation of hostilities against your captors? A promise you had no authority to make? These creatures started the hostilities, without provocation. These creatures eat our people, Lieutenant Forrest. These creaturesd honor nothing but their own base instincts. There is no such thing as a ‘treaty’ with creatures such as these. I’m sure you did and said whatever you could to survive your captivity, young man, but you would have been wise to keep the words you said when begging for your life to yourself. You would have been wise not to trouble the Foreign Minister with them.”
Archie: “Begging your pardon, Minister, I was indeed taken prisoner by the lizardfolk, but I did not barter for my release. I was assisted in escape by a party who were searching for survivors of the Blackwall Keep attack. Together, we defeated the tribe’s chief, an altered lizardfolk. Upon his defeat, we learned that the lizardfolk were misled to believe that wizards from Greyhawk were responsible for introducing a plague that eliminated an entire generation of lizardfolk young. Through this deceit, their leader Shukak incited them to attack human settlements. Upon his defeat we were able to ascertain this and convince them that humans were not responsible for the decimation of their young. Believe me, Minister, I have no love for the lizardfolk whatsoever. But nor would I revel in their destruction, if it was undeserved.” Archie then astounds the Minister with a key piece of information about the lizardfolk, namely that the written word is somehow mystical to them, and the only acceptable form of a treaty.
Webb: “You say you bear the lizardfolk no love, yet here you are making an appeal on their behalf. There must be more to this story than has yet to cross your lips. You have my ear, young man. You carry yourself well and I believe you think you’re doing the right thing. But I need more information. Why should we not see to the slaughter of these creatures now to prevent future atrocity? If they were so easily duped into believing lies about about us before, what’s to prevent that from happening in the future? You’ve convinced me they’d honor a written treaty. Fine, and well. But what happens when the next smooth-speaking ‘altered’ Lizardman convinces them that we’ve broken the treaty? Has the death of this Shukak changed so much in their tribal structure? Should not wait for their atrocities to cease fully before bending over for them?”
Archie: “Sir, the plague that annihilated the lizardfolk spawn was instigated by a black dragon named Illthain. It was Illthain who altered Shukak as well as a party of kobolds. It seems the purpose of this was to cause a war between the lizardfolk and the human settlements as a distaction, so that Illthain may act on her plan without interference from Greyhawk.
“The plague is also deadly to humans, sir. In fact, there is evidence that no race (excepting of course Illthain’s herself) has any immunity to it.
“We have convinced the lizardfolk to withdraw into their own territory for the time being. Until we can get the treaty to them for their signature.” Webb asks for more specific information about the plague, the dragon, and her plans. Archie replies, “We know the dragon is the one who infected the lizardfolk young and we know that she told the lizardfolk that it was the work of Greyhawk wizards. As to the nature of the plague itself, it kills humans rapidly, entering in through the skin. It has a very rapid gestation period. And humans who are infected can become excessively violent and mobile. It’s as if the plague wants to spread itself and uses the human host to do so.
“Also, there is a psychological matter as well. The infected radiate an aura of ‘oppressive fear,’ for lack of a better phrase. Just being in the vicinity of an infected person causes the mind to shut down, particularly if you are caught unexpected. My friends and I are still investigating the nature of this plague, though we are confident it has been contained in the area around Diamond Lake.”
Webb: “This entire situation sounds far more complicated than a simple treaty could resolve. If there are cultural issues, plague, and draconic interference at play here, a committee may have to be established to investigate this matter over the coming months. We should take some time to find the right priests and diplomats to research this situation.”
Archie: “Sir, I agree that more investigation is called for. My friends and I are willing to continue researching the problem ourselves. I believe the danger from the plague is far more pressing than anyone realizes. However, I do believe that the treaty is an important first step. If we can secure peace with the lizardfolk then that is one less thing to worry about. We don’t want to be in the middle of a plague crisis and then get flanked.”
Webb: “Unless I misunderstand you, it seems impossible to secure a reliable peace with the lizardfolk while the threat of the dragon still looms. Do the lizardfolk have the strength of will to stand up to it when it returns to continue its lies? Or do they have the strength to fight it? Unless the dragon were somehow removed from the equation, I don’t see what lasting good a treaty would offer. It sounds as though the dragon is their true leader, not whichever low-level functionary you dealt with.”
Archie: “Sir, the dragon’s deception and its attempt at genocide of the lizardfolk has been revealed. There is no alliance there anymore. My party has demonstrated good faith with them and have gained, if not their alliance, then at least their respoect and willingness to be open to the cessation of hostilities.
“In this situation, it benefits both parties to end the fighting. Neither us nor the lizardfolk should be waging a campaign against each other while trying to deal with an evil dragon and a plague.
“They may not be able to fight but they can certainly hide from it. The lizardfolk have the benefit of being able to withdraw and isolate themselves. Which they are willing to do. They are willing to stick to their territories if we stick to ours.
“We need to be able to control this situation to prevent the spread of this plague. It is a danger to every living creature. And if we are able to broker a treaty we can let the lizardfolk go back to worrying about themselves, and we can take care of our people.”
Webb: “I see. But if the dragon and this disease are now a greater threat, and the lizardfolk are going into hiding, as you say, is the treaty even necessary? Shouldn’t we be focusing our energies on bringing this dragon to justice? And what qualifications foes your party have to investigate contagious disease?”
Archie: “The treaty is as much for their protection as for ours. If the lizardfolk are attacked by humans, all bets are off. Also there is the fact that the lizardfolk are going to be around long after we get this dragon and plague under control. All we are offering is an end to hostilities. We are not conceding anything. In the long run, we are securing peace farther down the line.
“We are currently pursuing leads as to the nature and cause of the disease. If we are able to ascertain where the dragon was able to create and unleash this plague, we hope to be able to find a cure or some way to combat it and heal the infected.”
Webb: “I see the wisdom in making a gesture, especially if the lizardfolk have had their opinion of us poisoned by an outside entity. And if it may save some lives in the region, I can see little harm here.
“I cannot allow a full-fledged treaty to be prepared without meeting these creatures face-to-face. Nor would I do so while the threat of this dragon still looms – it is too much of a wild card in these calculations.
“I may be willing to prepare an official cease fire document, something in writing, which seems to bear power over these creatures’ minds. But to secure a lasting treaty, steps must be taken. Definitive steps. Lasting steps. Securing the head of the dragon so I know for sure it’s influence is gone over the region…this may be enough to allow for an official state meeting with these creatures.
“Is this something you would be willing to undertake to see this through?”
Archie: “I think the cease fire is an important first step. I am willing to do what is necessary to ensure the safety of Greyhawk and its allie.” Archie clarifies that he will bring Webb the head of Illthain if Webb prepares the cease fire documents.
Webb: “Very good, lieutenant. Return here is a week and my assistant will have the paperwork prepared for you. Then, I hope to see you very soon. With scaly head in tow, and some new acid scars to grizzle up that boyish countenance. You are dismissed.” (We now return to your regularly scheduled Session 25, already in progress)
Freeday, 28 of Ready’reat CY 595
After midnight, the party approaches Gauthfellow’s house from the rear. Scar-Eater detects a riot of magical auras protecting the place, but Jane manages to dispel the two effects on the back door itself. However, they are spotted by a large mastiff and a battle ensues. Scar-Eater soon discovers that what they are fighting is not a dog at all, but some kind of illusioned hellish wolf hound. In addition to fighting the wolf, there are four painted servants waiting for them through the back door, as well as a roguish version of Gauthfellow himself. It’s a long fight, and a rough one.