Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 7

Tenser's eyes had lit up at the mention of Endelar. She was the daughter of one of the richest artisans in the city and a gifted cartographer in her own right. The middle class was extremely powerful in Greyhawk these days, as so much of the money funneling in from the castle dungeons was going directly to goods and services, but perhaps none of the artisan class wore their newfound wealth like nobility as much as Endelar's family did.

In addition to being well-off, Endelar had the advantage of being quite attractive, and showed it off in the more revealing style of dress that Baklunish merchants from the far northwest had brought to the mid-Flanaess. Tenser was clearly smitten with her.

As he wandered from Ehlissa's shop, Tenser mentally went through a short list of places he knew to look for Endelar. She was not a worldly woman and barely ever stepped foot out of the Artisans Quarter...


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 6

The staff had grated on Tenser the hardest, as he retraced Mordenkainen's steps afterwards and could not believe Mord had thought to look for a secret door in that corner.  But as much as Tenser had wanted a Staff of Power -- and to have one first -- what had really changed the game was the influx of wealth coming back from the dungeons. Uncountable riches were coming back to the City of Greyhawk; no one had been aware that so much wealth had ever gone missing. The wealth was making people flock to the small city from all over the Flanaess.

More importantly, a lot of that wealth had fallen into the hands of Mordenkainen, Robilar, and Tenser, in about that order. Mordenkainen was the first to use those funds to start constructing a fortified castle, to the west, and then Robilar followed suite, constructing his castle to the south. Tenser felt obligated to do the same, having one built to the east -- though he was not quite sure what to use it for, other than to guard the money he had not already spent on the castle...


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 5

Tenser and Ehlissa shared a laugh over the pun.

"Ah, it's always fun talking to you," Tenser said. "You should rejoin our group. I'm sure if you tried adventuring again, you would like it."

"I've heard this before..." Ehlissa said, still sounding pleasant. "Now listen to this."

She spoke a magic word and a magical cantrip caused the bird she had been holding to break into a beautiful song, more complex than a songbird could normally do.

"Very nice," Tenser said. "But..."

"I'm very happy now with my birds." Ehlissa stood up and started walking the bird back to its cage. "There is no shortage of adventurers out there these days, looking to plunder the old castle. I'm sure one of them will amuse you."

There was an awkward pause, too long for Ehlissa's liking. When she glanced back, she saw Tenser had dropped his jovial facade and now looked tired, and older. She knew she had best change the subject back to something Tenser would enjoy talking about.




Friday, October 20, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 4

"A wall of ice. Amazing..." Ehlissa said, suitably impressed.

"Well...retrieved from one of the caches of spell books we found back up on the fifth dungeon level, not too long ago," Tenser said with pride. "I have to say, had I not been mapping so diligently, we never would have thought to check for secret doors there..."

"So, your story?" Ehlissa prompted.

"Ah, of course," Tenser said, slightly deflated. But he continued...




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 3

"How is Ayelerarch working out?" Ehlissa asked, still showing what seemed like genuine interest.

"Oh, he's great!" Tenser continued.

"Isn't he a paladin?"

"Well...that didn't turn out to be true. I think he tried to become one at some point, but couldn't qualify? I'm not sure how that works..." Tenser realized his thoughts were wandering and returned to the topic. "But he is a good man. Just the sort of adventuring companion Yrag always said I needed. The exact opposite of..."

"Robilar?" Ehlissa guessed. She could tell from Tenser's look that she was right. "I'm sorry. You were saying about the Jeweled Man?"

"Ah!  Yes. There we were..."


Friday, September 22, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 2

Ehlissa rushed to greet her old friend, and then she and Tenser exchanged a quick hug.

"Come in, make yourself at home!" Ehlissa said. "Here, let me clear off a place for you to sit. Shoo!" she said to a songbird on a stool.

"I did want to let you know I made it back safely," Tenser said as he checked the stool for any bird-created surprises that might have been left behind.

"I'm glad you did," Ehlissa said as she looked around for something for her to sit on. "You know I always worry about you going back to Castle Greyhawk. How is the old place?"

"Well, you know..." Tenser said, but he left it at that for the moment. He was never sure how much Ehlissa wanted to hear about the dungeon, so he would wait for her to prompt him further.






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ch. 5, Page 1

Time passed, healing wounds and moving people down the paths of their lives, drawing friends closer to or further from each other at every new turn.

Castle Greyhawk still beckoned in the wilderness near the City of Greyhawk, drawing adventurers from far and wide. Either systematically or by wild luck they slowly explored and mapped out every square inch of its famous dungeons, level by level, with new stairs always being found leading deeper and deeper into the bowels of Oerth. Many noted that the levels changed over time. Some found evidence of a mysteriously never-encountered construction company at work in the dungeons, but this mystery company never seemed to be able to keep far ahead of the relentless push to explore new areas.

Other forces were at work in the dungeons -- with so much loot coming and going, entrepreneurial forces took over choke points in the dungeon and tried to extort treasure from those coming back out. There was a clan of The Dwur -- dwarves -- controlling one, and a company of Olves -- elves -- guarding another, plus a giant guarding still a third.

Despite these challenges, Tenser continued to explore at Castle Greyhawk. He had grown greatly in power in the last year. His Wand of Paralyzing he had used on a white dragon back then was no longer his most powerful magic item. He had mastered spells now that he did not even know existed a year ago.

Tenser was often looking ahead to his next venture, but sometimes he was interested in looking back.

Tenser disliked Wayfarers Row. It was an old street, though not as old as some in the Old City, and it had stubbornly held onto its name despite the fact that no one could remember why it was called that. A better name would have been Magicians Row, as that is what the street had become. Here was a double row of shops where magic was for sale. The magicians were almost uniformly disillusioned former students of the Wizards College, men and women who had thought the mystic arts was an easy route to prosperity, found they had graduated heavily indebted to the college and with only a handful of parlor tricks to show for it. The smart, or lucky, ones had found ways to market what they knew to people who could afford no better.

So here was Rasche's Courtship Service, launched by a charm person spell, and Blume's Somnambulatorium was inspired by a sleep spell. These shop names were displayed on cheap plaques affixed to peeling plaster facades. To Tenser, Wayfarers Row represented the weak, ineffectual sort of people who had a lofty goal once, but did not try hard enough to attain it. He held them in a special sort of disdain, knowing that just a few miles away they could have sought adventure and found treasure enough to let them live like kings when they returned to the city.

There was only one reason Tenser kept coming back to Wayfarers Row and that was Ehlissa's Bird Shop. Halfway down the row of shops, on the right hand side, was one that sat a little taller and a little wider than the others. Its beams did not sag and its plaster was in better repair. It had a large shop window that stayed propped open all day and allowed people passing by to see a large cage full of songbirds of all colors. The cage was made from a fine, silvery, sturdy wire that had resisted more than one burglary attempt. It should have for the amount Tenser had helped pay for it -- since the wire was crafted from mithril and forged by the dwarves of the Cairn Hills. It had been a present for a dear friend...



Monday, July 31, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 34

Londlar's story seemed unfamiliar at first, for he patiently and slowly described levels of the dungeons under Castle Greyhawk that Ehlissa had never seen during her brief adventuring career. As more details came to light, though, she recognized this for what it was, and what she had always feared. It was the story everyone left at home dreaded to hear about their loved ones when they went away to adventure...


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 33

Ehlissa still felt the compulsion from the spell to leave, but she fought it for as long as she could. She had no idea if the Mage of the Tower woke up in time to save himself, or if Erac's Cousin had slain him. She had no idea if Erac's Cousin was coming this way to flee, or if he would reunite with his familiar out back and flee over the garden wall. She was, at the moment, only mildly concerned with all of those possibilities. There was just one person she had really hoped to learn about through all this...


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 32

"Go now. I'm ordering you!"

The words of Erac's Cousin rang in Ehlissa's ears and, compelled by his spell, she could not help but carry them out.

As she started to go, she hoped for some loophole that would allow her to obey her compulsion, yet stay...


Friday, June 16, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 31

Ehlissa struggled against the hand on her wrist. She wanted to kill the mage despite what she had been told to do because she knew it was in the best interest of Erac's Cousin if the old man died. That was how much she was under his spell, and deep down she knew it. She had never felt so powerless, but then...


Friday, June 2, 2017

Ch.4, Page 30


In the tower's foyer, the Mage's monk servant stopped bleeding out.

In the tower's garden, the Cousin's familiar started chewing through the plants that held him.

In the Mage's den, the Mage had a dream. It was not about the confrontation going on around him...

"Oh, I know how you wanted to use me," Ehlissa said.  "You played on my affection for your cousin, if he really is your cousin."

"Oh, he is. Or was. I have no doubt that this man you want spared probably sent my cousin to his death on some fool's errand. But this isn't even about revenge. Not really. It's about the wealth of magic this old fool has hoarded in his tower..."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 29

It was a simple spell with a quick casting time, but in those moments Ehlissa remembered her trainer, Bastro Felgosh, and his words of admonishment upon learning this spell for charming persons.

"The temptation will always be there to take advantage of others with such a spell as this," Felgosh had said with a wag of his plump finger, "The ability to charm others is potent -- but fallible. You may never know if it has taken hold on another's mind, until it is too late to avoid the consequences..."




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 28

Whatever spell was on the back door unlocked the door. Ehlissa opened it, went through, and quickly shut it on the other side, for she knew the familiar was still back there in the garden, struggling to free itself from the entangling vine.

From this back room, she could hear no indication of where Erac's Cousin was in the tower. He could be looting rooms upstairs at this moment...but if the spell's voice had been right and the Mage was in danger, then there was only one room Erac's Cousin could be in.

But, did Ehlissa dare confront him alone? She had only one spell remotely combat-related prepared. It would have been useless against the familiar, but against Erac's Cousin...maybe she had a chance...






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 27

The front door to the Tower of the Mage was still ajar when Erac's Cousin pushed it all the way open. The servant dressed like a monk was lying still on the foyer floor. Dispassionately, but still curious, Erac's Cousin crouched down and checked the body for signs of life.

Erac's Cousin turned his gaze away from his familiar's pursuit of Ehlissa. It was taking far too long to dispose of her, but at least it kept her out of his way. Provided the Mage did not recover, there should be no one left to stand in his way.

At the rear of the foyer began the curved corridor that circled the interior of the ground floor. Erac's Cousin took his time, checking doors as he went. He found two locked doors that Ehlissa had run past. Unlike her, he had a knocking spell prepared once in his own memory, and had it available twice more on scrolls. He was prepared for obstacles like that...but would delay using them as long as possible. Especially since there was an open doorway leading right into the Mage's ground floor study, with the Mage himself right there on the floor of it.

The Spanokian Root had done its job -- indeed, had done its job a little too well. Erac's Cousin had hoped that the Mage would at least stumble further away from the lit brazier after smelling the "potpourri," but the old fool had apparently just stood their inhaling until the drug put him right under. The fire in the brazier was still burning and the fumes from the burnt root were undoubtedly still in the air, making the Mage's body too dangerous to approach closely.

To amuse himself, Erac's Cousin looked around the room and checked the furnishings while he decided how next to proceed. As luck would have it, he found a small hand-washing basin with some water in it sitting on a shelf inside a cabinet. He took the basin out, walked as close as he dared to the brazier, and tossed the contents onto the fire. There was a loud ssssss  and more smoke billowed out from the brazier. He took a step back and watched while holding his breath.

It would be a minute or two still before he dared approach the Mage's sleeping body, so Erac's Cousin turned his gaze back through his familiar's eyes. He now saw that the hunt had moved outdoors since he last paid attention to it...


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 26

The giant spider tugged relentlessly on the garden door. Ehlissa pulled on the handle with all her might, but was losing ground and in danger of being pulled back into the tower. In moments, she would not be able to contain the monster.

In this, what she feared might be her final moments, she thought of the people she had gone to for help. Robilar. Rary. Yrag. All had failed to keep her from this moment in time. Tenser -- he might not even know she was ever in trouble.

But none of it was their fault. She had fallen for Erac all on her own, and had fallen into the schemes of Erac's Cousin only to find Erac. And now she was alone. She thought there was no one left to help her...




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 25

"Wait," Erac's Cousin said, and his familiar heard the voice in its mind. "Let me see those pages."

Erac's Cousin could see through his familiar's eyes and scanned the pages of the open book Ehlissa had thrown between her and his pet to buy her precious seconds to escape.

"Hmm...could this be The Chronicles of Keoland by Lord Kelvin Halmari?" Erac's Cousin mused to himself. "If it is the rare first edition, this alone could be worth the risks I've taken..."


Ehlissa had turned and followed the hallway north as it curved around the mage's office. There was a door on the left, but it seemed to be locked and she could not budge it. Up ahead, though, was a glass orb mounted to the wall with magic light inside it, and this light illuminated an open archway across from it in the north wall.

When she stepped into the room, the light winked out behind her. It had lasted long enough, at least, for her to see another door...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 24

Ehlissa's first instinct was to run, but she knew the dog that followed Erac's Cousin looked dangerous -- too dangerous to turn her back on -- and it would quickly free itself from under the curtain.

She glanced at the desk and noticed the open book. There might be something useful in there, she hoped. She just needed to buy herself a little bit of time to look through it. She looked around for something else to throw on top of the curtain and pin it down.  Something heavy...


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 23

The familiar of Erac's Cousin finished changing back into the form of a dog, as it wanted its sense of smell heightened for tracking. Almost immediately, it smelled Ehlissa. Without Ehlissa to follow, it would not have known where in the tower the Mage was...but with Ehlissa here, it would be easy to follow her scent straight to the Mage.


Ehlissa stood there for a moment, paralyzed by surprise. She had suspected there was something no good in the jar Erac's Cousin had given her, but she never expected to see the Mage collapse from it. Her first concern was that he was dead. Then her second concern was that he was dead and she had helped kill him.  Her third concern was that he was dead -- and she would be found with his body!

Ehlissa gathered her wits quickly and realized that she didn't actually know he was dead. He was lying very still, but from this angle, she could not tell if he was still breathing.

Drawing closer to the burnt incense in the brazier that took out the Mage would be foolhardy without some precaution. Luckily she had a handkerchief upon her person. As she covered her nose and mouth, she crept closer, hearing her own heart pounding in her chest. In fact, that might have been why she did not notice right away the soft padding of pawed feet in the hallway...


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 22

To the casual observer, Erac's Cousin appeared to be just standing idly, perhaps admiring the nearby garden. The smile on his face was far from one of contentedness, but a malevolent smirk of wicked satisfaction. And his thoughts did not even need to stray back very far to recall why he was satisfied...




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 21

Ehlissa lifted the small vase out of her purse. She had not had the chance to examine it, but she noticed now how light it felt. It was made of blue ceramic with decorative etchings all around it.

The Mage of the Tower was less interested in the vase than an excuse to draw closer to this charming young maiden. He barely paid attention to the markings on the vase, as his lecherous brain was busy trying to come up with a plan for exploiting this girl's desperate need for information from him...


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ch. 4, Page 20

The Tower Mage grabbed his hat; he always felt more important wearing his hat. And, if he was going to make a good impression on this charming young lass, he needed to look very important indeed.