The Age of Worms

Session Twenty-Four

Moonday, 24 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

After much discussion of how to proceed, Athena flies off to purchase to lesser restoration scrolls and Scar-Eater studies the killer paintings some more. When Jane returns, both she and Archie notice that three more worms have disappeared from Archerus’ picture…perhaps one per hour since the last time they looked at it. If so, it will only be eight hours before the painting’s magic fails.

Godsday, 25 Ready’reat CY 595

At midnight, Jane meditates to regain her spells while the others visit Katarina Gertwright. She is suffering from a degenerative disease but is willing to answer their questions about Gauthfellow. “He’s not open to critique or other ideas.” She claims he has grown increasingly unstable over time, even throwing a tantrum at a recent opening, but also notes that she does not deal with him on a meaningful personal level. Of his work, she says his content is always fantastical; great landscapes, extraplanar, dark, vivid, oppressive – everything that is currently in vogue, like horrible monsters. His work is provocative and well-executed but without soul. He did not take kindly to her criticism. She claims he can afford to be his own patron as he is very wealthy. She doesn’t know anything about how an invisible stalker came to kill the messenger who delivered her painting.

The party uses some divination spells to determine whether or not they should attempt to enter the painting from Archerus’ studio. Meanwhile, Tyrrell strolls around the neighborhood and spots a sparkling silver coin marked with the Moonmeadow symbol and pockets it.

At 1:00 am, the party decides to uncover and enter the painting, where two more worms have gone missing. Upon grasping each other’s hands and stepping inside, they find themselves in a battle with a painted hag and two chain devils. The remaining worms are all screaming and banging their heads against the walls of the cavern. Finding the enemies resistant to his attacks, Archie tries to save one of the head-beating worms. He chooses wisely, and when the battle ends and the party is schlorked back to the vault, Archie finds himself clutching Endrik Archerus himself. It is 11 in the morning.

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Session Twenty-Three

Moonday, 24 Ready’reat CY 595

Archie leads the party to a resplendent manor house on the curve of Peacock Court whose driveway is lined with carriages. A party is in progress. Archie notes the change in footprints – the heavier set trails off, and the lighter set becomes heavier as if it took the other’s burden before approaching the house with the party…

One of the servants at the party informs them that a dainty fellow delivered one painting and then left in Lady Tillanda’s carriage with two more paintings in tow. Scouting the layout of the house itself they see that one side of it is actually a 2-story ballroom, and that is where all the guests are stuffed like sardines. The house belongs to Belfor Vittanis. Riddle tells the servants he believes everyone at the party is in grave danger, and Tyrrell convinces them of the seriousness of the claim. The party is admitted and heads for the ball room doors where Roddick the house castellan hears out their tale of killer paintings. They notice just in time that Vitannis is about to unveil the small painting at the far end of the room. Jane screams “Stop!” but cannot be heard over the unholy din of the party, and transforms into an eagle. Tyrrell runs through the crowd towards the dais screaming “Fire, fire, fire!” Riddle envelops Vittanis in binding winds. Finesse is clearly not the party’s strong suit. Unable to get into the crowd, Scar-Eater and Archie run outside the building, and Archie breaks a window. Everyone at the party now believes the house is under attack. Only Long Fist even attempts to control the situation through diplomacy, herding drunken party guests to the exits.

Some rushed intimidation and diplomacy later, Athena simply grabs the painting and flies out the window with it before it can be opened. But with the bouncers still approaching those inside, Scar-Eater sees little choice but to grapple Vittanis and order him to call off the bouncers so everything can be straightened out. Riddle is able to sweep in and calm things down, noting that Lady Tillanda may also be in danger. But Tillanda is still in attendance at the party, and claims the “Darius” was taking her carriage to Katarina Gertwright’s manor. Vittanis offers the party carriage drivers to follow after the delivery immediately, arriving just in time to witness the delivery boy being knocked to the ground by an invisible being at the gate of Number 14, Burgundywine Terrace. The party jumps out of the carriage. Flying overhead above the carriages, Athena transforms back into Jane and floats to the ground, casting faerie fire as she drifts, illuminating the invisible stalker with eerie gree mist, but the party is not able to stop it from killing Darius. Riddle attempts to speak with it, but before it disappears it will only tell him it was summoned to kill this person. After a thorough search of Finch’s body, they find a map of the Midnight’s Muddle district, showing the locations of where all the paintings were delivered that very day, as well as the words “Sandalwood Lane” on the back. The Crooked House was apparently the second stop on his rounds, so the party immediately set off for the first address on the list.

On the way, the party digs up their knowledge of the local art scene and realize they are headed to the home of Endrik Archerus, a popular local artist, on Blue Sapphire Avenue, and that another artist of recent reknown, Imron Gauthfellow, has a home on Sandalwood. They also know that Gauthfellow was a wizard in his adventuring days.

Upon arriving at Archerus’ home, the party is admitted by his servant Suzanna, who takes them to the top of the tower. No one is in the studio, but there is a new painting there, a hideous image of a hag on a warhorse and masses of worms. They discover a note amongst the vellum on the floor that suggests foul play. Magic radiates from many things in the room, including the painting. Suzanna recalls that the second delivery person may have been a half-orc. She reports that her master is private and unassumin, and that his other servant, Tharivol, had been working outside the house somewhere for the last several weeks. Riddle uses an augury spell to determine whether casting dispel magic on the painting would bring weal or woe, and the forces answer with a decisive “Woe.” Riddle covers the painting with a sheet as Archie notices that one of the worms that was in the painting when they entered is not there anymore. The party checks the room but finds nothing other than the tracks of a bare-footed humanoid walking towards the painting. The party takes the covered painting back to Vittanis’ house.
As they get out of the carriage, Archie checks to see if the tracks of the delviery person who was not Finch are still visible, and finds he is just able to make them out under the snow. Leaving the paintings in the carriage, the party takes off after the tracks. Forty-five minutes later they have reached the Greyhawk docks and a tavern called The Grunting Bunty. There is a big half-orc behind the bar and another ragged one that the barman refers to as “Pissface” at a table. Pikoh tells the party he was paid a gold piece to carry the paintings, and shows them where the paintings were stashed in an alley. Jane casts remove disease on him and the party writes him a letter of recommendation for Tarquin of The Crooked House before returning to Vittanis’ house.

Sergeant Jessup Gandling of the Greyhawk Watch offers the party 2,500 gp to investigate the matter of the killer paintings. The party attempts to find a connection between themselves and the other targets with little success, or to figure out if any of their enemies have ties to Greyhawk ( Shukak, Filge, the Ashborn, Smenk, or even Allustan or Lanod Neff).

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Session Twenty-Two

Earthday, 20 Ready’reat CY 595

Traveling to Greyhawk

Freeday, 21 Ready’reat CY 595

Traveling to Greyhawk, landing in the deep river valley where the City resides. The party spends the night with at a grove of druids, the Dawn Watchers, who have taken a vow of silence. Riddle still feels the need to stay outside. Long Fist exercises with his celestial hyaena. Marzena stares towards the City. There is a mammoth lightning storm to the north over the Nyr Div.

Starday, 22 Ready’reat CY 595

Riddle understands that he is on the cusp of bonding with the diadem and must stay out of doors or he will break it, so the party waits to continue to Greyhawk.

Moonday, 23 Ready’reat CY 595

The party wakes to find Riddle in a trance. With Kullen’s greataxe Facecleaver in his hands, he walks a in a 20’ wide circle, chanting phrases over and over in a language the rest of them don’t understand, until he finally raises the axe and is struck by lightning. When he comes to, he has changed – taller, more muscular, paler, almost blue. And the diadem is awake.

The ritual complete, the party moves on to Greyhawk, in the guise of poor peasants, with Fury carrying all of their valuables. They wait on line for hours and finally make it through without having to bribe anyway, but are noted (particularly Tyrrell) by priests of St. Cuthbert patrolling the entrance area and fondling their holy symbols.

The party proceeds to Eligos Manzorian’s house and are nearly turned away by the butler, Pollard. Eventually the party makes it through only to find he has little interest in helping Marzena and hasn’t read any of the letters Allustan sent regarding their earlier exploits. He casts detect thoughts on Marzena so he can figure out what she wants him to do about her plight, and eventually agrees to send her to Magepoint. He then attempts to dismiss the party without any further aid and Tyrrell makes a big, intimidating speech about the end of the world and people not wanting to help as if Eligos isn’t even there. Eligos seems to prefer this tactic to begging for help, so after grilling the party for more details (specifically things they did not tell Allustan), Eligos says he will look over the letters and see the party again in one week (the 3rd of Sunsebb).

The party secures rooms for a week at the Crooked House, in the neighborhood known as Midnight’s Muddle, making the acquaintance of Tarquin Shortstone XXIV. They note posters for the Champions Games coming upon the 12th of Sunsebb. They learn a bit about Loris Raknian, manager of the Games, and sneak a peak at Mayor Neff’s Letter of Introduction before heading back out to try to get an appointment with Foreign Minister Webb.

Moonday, 24 Ready’reat CY 595

Shopping, errands, and information gathering regarding getting an appointment with Ermaldon Webb. Riddle’s divination (“The soldier battles alone; the guardian’s weakness is his weakness; lash the tongue; flail not the sword; the written word will seal the deal”) gives the party some cryptic advice, but the party at least determines that Archie should go in by himself. Webb’s appointment secretary is a total prick but Archie manages to get an appointment for 9 am on the 27th and is instructed not to miss it. He promises not to and the party returns to the inn.

That evening the party receives word from that a package has arrived for them and they go down to the common room to check it out. Shortstone XXIV is on the bar with a large flat square package wrapped in brown paper. He says, “Your commission has arrived,” and tears open the package. The party gets a only a slimpse of the painting before it erupts and the room fills with two 15’ squelchy creatures with 8 tentacles each. The tentacled horrors manage to kill all the patrons and nearly Tarquin and Archie before they basically annihilate themselves through Riddle’s mark of doom. After some quick healing and discussion with the owner, they go outside in search of the fop and the crudely dressed man who dropped off the package 15 to 20 minutes before they came downstairs, and Archie quickly picks up the trail.

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Session Twenty-One

Freeday, 14 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

The party spends the night in their old hideout.

Starday, 15 Ready’reat CY 595

Athena scouts around town while Archie returns to talk to Trask at the garrison. Trask wants Archie to report everything to the Foreign Minister, Ermaldon Webb, and to also gather better intelligence. Though he doesn’t believe, as the lizardfolk do, that there is a plot against them, he is concerned about the level of truth in Illthain’s lies. Also, Trask asks Archie if he sees an opportunity to nudge the garrison reinforcements along to please follow up on it. Meanwhile, the rest of the party is discussing history and such when Long Fist says something that sparks a memory from Riddle about the ancient city of Kuluth-Mar and a possible connection to Kyuss.

The party checks up on Allustan who is up in the Whispering Cairn and find that he has been exploring obsessively to the detriment of his own health and well-being. After speaking with him for awhile and performing some augury spells, the party convinces him to rest until morning.

Sunday, 16 Ready’reat CY 595

Allustan takes the party into town for a meeting with Mayor Neff. He warns the party not to waste Webb’s time if they are not able to properly handle the treaty negotiations. The Mayor also promises that the party would not be accused of any crimes in Diamond Lake. They receive letter of introduction to Webb from the Mayor and another to Eligos from Allustan. Allustan also provides advice for getting around Greyhawk, noting Tarquin Shortstone, XXIV and the Crooked House, Elexia Tinge, Painted Man, Ph’xeris, Eligos’ estate, the Great Library, and the Great Hall. Riddle also tells Allustan that he suspects he is related to the Lands, and Allustan notes that the timing does not preclude such. Allustan also guesses that Icosiel could have been the first of the Land geneaology.

The party meets with Balabar Smenk at 3:00 pm and Smenk claims that as far as he is concerned, our business is through. Kullen¸ however, refuses to turn himself in as agreed and the party ends up disposing of him right there in Smenk’s office, despite many bystanders (some innocent and others…not) and a suggestion or two that the fight move outside.

Moonday, 17 Ready’reat – Godsday, 18 Ready’reat CY 595

Traveling to Greyhawk.

Waterday, 19 Ready’reat CY 595

On the road to Greyhawk, the party battles with trolls.

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Session Twenty

Earthday, 13 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

The party conducts a thorough search of the Keep but finds nothing. However, everyone takes a dagger in the event that the worms are encountered again (daggers being the best defense against a burrowing worm).

Archie makes a point to say that the party shouldn’t tell anyone they encounter what really happened to Ernst Walker. Dobrun Trent relates news of events in Diamond Lake, especially what’s going on with the ghost of Jierian Wierus.

The party decides to head back to Diamond Lake. Marzena wants to go to Greyhawk, and since the party is fairly confident they will end up there eventually, brings her along. She loans Riddle her ring of protection +1 and Archie her dagger +1. They camp for the night, and on Jane and Scar-Eater’s watch, fight a group of wolves and werewolves. Long Fist is injured but immune to lycanthropy.

Freeday, 14 Ready’reat CY 595

As the party moves towards town the encounter and fight a two-headed, boulder-throwing giant that absorbs spells when it isn’t just ignoring the effects. It seems to fighting alongside a messed up grizzly bear. During the fight, Riddle attempts to drink one of the potions the party recovered from Illthain’s chest, and swallows what he believes is a Kyuss worm! He manages to regurgitate it and warn the party about Illthain’s ill-gotten goods. After the battle the party studies the worm for more information.

The party arrives at Diamond Lake around 6:00 in the evening, and they head straight to the garrison to see Trask and Childramun. They learn of Dourstone’s suicide and the ensuing clamor over his property rights. The officers advise that the party take the lizardfolk treaty to the foreign minister in Greyhawk, and if they can get his goodwill on the matter, perhaps they might be able to mobilize into the swamps to investigate the hatcheries of other tribes.

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Session Nineteen
N-n-n-n-nineteen.

Waterday, 12 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

The party learns that the two new Spawn in the Keep are named Blake and Krinn. The party assesses their strength and makes a plan.

Earthday, 13 Ready’reat CY 595

Tyrrell and Archie are unnerved on their watch by the howling of wolves in the distance. It doesn’t take them long to discern that creatures inside the keep are waiting for the howling noises to move around, which makes them smarter than the average zombie. Indeed this proves true, as the party’s careful plan to lure them into the open is thrown out the window by the spawn’s refusing to play along! After eight brutal rounds of combat, that include Long Fist and Riddle digging burrowing Kyuss worms from their own bodies, the party takes down the spawn. After the battle, Jane discovers that Riddle seems to be suffering from a supernatural disease, possibly the onset of dimension. She removes disease from him and the party figures out what to do next.

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Session Eighteen

Godsday, 11 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

Thanks to alchemists fire and a body of the sun spell the party is just able to contain the worms and defeat the spawn they give rise to over the course of the battle. All in all, anywhere from 75 – 80% percent of the lizardfolk eggs are spared.

Archie immediately informs the party there is a Spawn of Kyuss trapped in the abandoned escape tunnel at Blackwall Keep, and that it’s been there for two years. Hishka notes that it’s a good thing it was down here to witness what happened, or the tribe would have blamed the party for both the worms and the loss of the eggs. Jane notices that Hishka looks ill, and determines it is in the initial stages of a rapid-onset disease, which they realize can be caused by another type of Kyuss worm, a “slow worm”, which sounds like the cause for the Spawn currently residing at Blackwall Keep. Archie asks Hishka why the lizardfolk attack the Keep unprovoked two years earlier, and it explains that Illthain told them human wizards had destroyed a generation of eggs with these worms, putting everything both the party and lizardfolk think they know to doubt. Illthain arrived on the heels of the destruction of the eggs. Illthain also treated privately with the battlemage who became the Spawn of Kyuss at the Keep, Ernst Walker.

The party spends the rest of the day either helping collapse Illthain’s entrance to the lair, helping evacuate the eggs from the hatchery, or treating Hishka with long term care.

Waterday, 12 Ready’reat CY 595

Tyrrell finds and loots the harpy nest in the lair, and Scar-Eater contemplates the Kyuss worms again to glean more information through his arcane knowledge. Jane checks the party for infestations, finding none, and then the lizardfolk tribe. One manifestation of the slow worms’ disease is found and removed.

Archie tells the whole story of Ernst Walker.

The party leaves the lair and sets out for Blackwall Keep. After four hours they stop to wake up Marzena. She is hysterical, of course, for some time, but later they are able to catch her up with events. The party continues on to the Keep and finds Dobrun Trent with his militia and most of the boys they left behind on the grounds, and the door barricaded shut. Trent informs the party they found the Spawn in the Keep and lost a few men trying to contain it. He also reports that there are now three of them barred behind the door.

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Session Seventeen

Moonday, 10 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

After the big fight, the party confers with Hishka to determine their next move. There is great concern over Illthain and what she might do upon learning of Shukak’s death, so the party decides to at least help Hishka gain control of the hatchery before they leave, so that Hishka might move the tribe to another lair. Archie and Tyrrell scout out the hatchery that night, noting Illthain’s egg, sitting amongst the many lizardfolk eggs, has been left under the guard of several kobolds that appear to have been touched by the same thing as Shukak, giving them a decidedly draconic appearance.

Godsday, 11 Ready’reat CY 595

The party sets off through the underwater passage to the hatchery, accompanied by Hishka and Sharsah, whom Hishka hopes with succeed Shukak, to drive off the kobolds.

A mere twenty-four seconds after Long Fist explodes out of the water with his blinding shield, the kobolds decide the fight is desperate enough to smash the dragon’s egg, causing thousands of glowing green Kyuss Worms to emerge into the water!

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Session Sixteen

Sunsday, 9 Ready’reat CY 595

On the road for several hours, having built a raft for Kushak. Several miles the first day through the swamps, after avoiding an encounter with a crocodile, and deciding to turn back before dark to avoid camping in or traveling through cockatrice territory.

Moonday, 10 Ready’reat CY 595

The party comes within a mile of the tribe lair by 4 pm, and solidifies the plan, which is immediately tested by the unforeseen presence of two harpy guards. However, the party deals with them most effectively and decides to drag them into the lair with them as a show of strength.
The party bullies their way into the throne room where all are gathered. They repeat their demands three times, first in Draconic, then in Druidic, then in Common. There is much debate, but then Shukak ends it by challenging any one of the party for control of the tribe. No one volunteers, so the king offers a five-on-five challenge the party cannot refuse. After defeating Shukak, Kotabas, and Shesht (along with two other warriors), the party makes a deal with Hishka to retrieve a written agreement from Greyhawk to stop the violence between humans and lizardfolk, and the human prisoners who still live are returned. Lieutenant Archie Forrest is dazed but generally all right, but Marzena’s hands have been cut off and her jaw shattered.

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Session Fifteen

Starday, 8 Ready’reat CY 595 (continued)

Jane is struck suddenly with a foreboding feeling that all may not be as it appears and appeals to the party to consider reviving and questioning the one lizardfolk who survived their approach.

Though it does little to change their minds about continuing to assault the lizardfolk surrounding the tower, the party learns that these lizardfolk are from the Twisted Branch and that they seek vengeance against all humans for the slaughter of an entire generation of lizardfolk 10 seasons ago. Their king, Shukak, leads them, along with a dragon named Illthain who aids them and guards their eggs. Eventually the lizardfolk hope to overtake Greyhawk itself. The tribe lives 23 miles due south, and have Marzena and others.

The party continues to assault the lizardfolk and eventually either kills or drives all of them away, capturing Kushak, leader of the assault.

The party investigates the Keep and questions those who survived the assault. In Marzena’s chambers, the party finds four ceramic jars filled with putrefying segmented Kyuss worms that appear to have been rotting for about 2 years. They also learned that she’d found some sort of lizardfolk burial ground in the swamps and seemed amped up about what she’d discovered there. Long Fist finds the signs of lizardfolk entering the lower area where they abducted Marzena, Lieutenant Forrest, and two soldiers, Wilkin and Kurt.

The party manacles Kushak and then revives him. He follows Shukak, who is their king. He claims they took the prisoners for food, labor, and/or sacrifice, back to their tribe. He tells the party they can find the tribe by following the dry places to the south and that they will see their trees and their nest. Oh and they should beware the dragon. When asked about the Kyuss worms, he flies into a rage claiming that wizards from Greyhawk brought the worms. Illthain has told them this. The worms ate their eggs, ate their young and then died (though this does not jibe with what the party knows about the worms). The burial grounds are deep in the swamp. The party decides to go and try to deal with the tribe and Illthain, as hopeless as that may seem, but plan to use this humbled leader to embark upon a diplomatic mission.

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