The Deck of Many Things, book 2 p. 5
Wjizzo’s ancient ivory card named “Ruin” comes from a larger deck. There’s certainly a strange power in the card, and the magic of the Deck is surely greater than the magic of the individual cards.
Priest of the Eye, book 2 p. 6
Quoth Grundelmar in Fallcrest to Fosden: “Years ago, adventurers destroyed a cult of the Elder Elemental Eye but the leader, Vadin Cartwright, escaped. Well, the Sun Lord has spoken in my dreams to let me know that Cartwright is still a danger. He is dabbling with forces beyond mortal understanding that could be disastrous, and must be sought among the dead in old Gardmore Abbey.”
Quoth Pelor Sun-father: “The Temple is too high above you few.”
Peace with the Fey, book 2 p. 9
Lord Padraig of Winterhaven said: “Thanks for scouting the Abbey. Here’s 600 gp.
“The fey you describe living in these woods might be useful allies against the orcs and the best way to stop the raids. Find their leader and make peace with them, securing their cooperation.”
He had his scrivener draw up a document recognising Velfarren’s claim to the Feygrove, to be given to the Elf-knight if his claim is proven.
Establish a Claim, book 2 p. 13
The High Elf knight, Sir Berrian Velfarren, said: “My father had a hand in the establishment of this grove, and your Lord Padraig will recognise our rightful claim here if the proof of it can be demonstrated.”
Tower of the Archmage, book 2 p. 5
Valthrun the lorekeeper told you there is a tower in the village below the abbey, which he believes to be the location of The Winterbole Codex, a tome bound in white dragon scales, which he would very much like to get to read.
‘Icon Relationship’ Benefits pending
Cram: Re-roll Relationship dice again!
It would be great if we could tie a Cram benefit to The Winterbole Codex
Wjizzo, Something enigmatic in the Feywild: A clear benefit
Eric Bloodhammer, Conflicted of Bahamut: A clear benefit and a benefit with complications.
Fosden, chosen of Pelor: A benefit with complications.
Something on the Cards
Wjizzo heard a sound uncannily like the shuffling of playing cards. “Did you hear that?” he asked, receiving only curious looks from his companions, and then realised recognised it for an arcane manifestation.
And then he saw a strange formation of sourceless shadows in a corner of the chamber between two of Vandomar’s great blocks of ice, which he recognised for the projection of a card of the Deck of Many Things just as Vandomar saw it too and glared accusingly at his visitors.
“No!” shrieked the frozen archmage. “That’s different! Nothing is allowed to become different, I say!”
“We’re on,” Wjizzo muttered to the others, beginning to edge forward.
“What wizardry is this?” puzzled Eric, sizing up the situation.
Cram stepped forward to occupy the frozen archmage-creature’s attention, allowing Wjizzo to advance behind him. “Vandomar, Vandomar, we mean you no harm. But we are people of the living world, and we do mean to rejoin it.”
Vandomar peered at him. “You have the mark of Orcus upon you,” he croaked wonderingly, ignoring all else to focused his arcane senses on the barbarian before him. ”You must not die at any other hand—”
Cram talked on. “We have all had experiences with the Demon Prince of the Undead. We all care deeply about the people of the Abbey and would like to see them returned.”
“Yes! Oh yes,” agreed Vandomar, suddenly wistful. “But you must be preserved, that Orcus himself may gather you unto him!”
“Bahamut preserve us all,” said Fosden from behind the others.
And then Eric seemed to have figured it out. “Do it now!” he hollered to Wjizzo. “(The boy’s a genius.) CHARGE!”
Wjizzo disappeared from sight.
“Take them, my friends,” cried Vandomar, stretching out his arms and the globe-topped staff in his right hand. “Stop them!”
A moment later Wjizzo reappeared in the far corner of the chamber, standing upon the manifestation of the Donjon card, his gaze fixed upon the frozen Archmage.
“Fuck you, Vandomar,” spat Cram, raising his fullblade.
And Wjizzo wielded the power of the Donjon card. In a sharp percussion Vandomar disappeared and Wjizzo was hurled bodily forward, colliding with Cram and tumbling to the floor. Where he had been standing, the area around the manifestation of the Donjon card was filled with an ominous low-howling wind.
“What the fuck? Where’s he gone?”
“I’ve sent him back where he deserves to be,” gasped Wjizzo.
The Cold of the Grave
Icy vapours began to billow massively from the inert snow-shrouded forms upon Vandomar’s four tables in the centre of the chamber, plunging to the floor and wreathing Wjizzo, and everyone else’s feet and legs, in intense cold. The four things began to lurch upright.
“NYEARGHHH!” yelled Cram, giving vent to his fury as he hacked into the snowy figure rising before him. Heedless of the injury to itself, the thing lurched on into him with hands grabbing and grasping, leaching the living warmth from the barbarian and holding him within the floor-hugging vapour that sapped the power of movement from his legs.
Eric took aim and sank the point of his warhammer into the skull of another rising figure, right between its eyes. But the thing continued to rise and its pooling vapours struck his legs numb, and the horrified Eric recoiled into a back-stance, shield presented at full guard.
“By the power of the Sun vested in me,” Fosden intoned behind him, with rising intensity, “Abominations, I give ye back to death!” Holy golden sunlight burst blindingly from his medallion and utterly destroyed two of the four ice-mummified things, frost flashing away to wisps of steam, unliving flesh searing to smoke, and blackened bones tumbling to the floor.
Wjizzo leapt to his feet out of the freezing vapours hugging the floor and drew his longsword to join against Cram’s assailant, but failed to wound it as the chill still bit into his feet and legs. Cram himself paid no heed to the rising cold, eschewing the use of his feet and legs to concentrate on hewing strokes of his sword-arms. The mummified thing fell upon Wjizzo, bearing down through his guard and grasping him close to pour its eldritch chillth into his living flesh, even as Cram’s sword came down and crunched through several ribs.
Eric fared no better, finding no opening to add more than a graze to his already skull-punctured adversary. With a thrust of his shield he bought a moment in which to fall back and stand shoulder to shoulder with Fosden.
But the frozen corpse-thing used the moment to answer Fosden’s holy energy with a curse of its own, all but rooting the cleric to the spot before lurching in to clutch icily at Eric more viciously than ever. The cold conducted right through the steel plates of his armour, but Eric quick-thinkingly shrugged the creature’s grasp from his arm and neck to his chest where the padded arming-coat beneath his breastplate blocked half the chill.
Wjizzo thrust his casting orb right into the face of the mummy upon him, the bursting colours of his “_Imbre colorem!_” leaving it weakened and reeling. Cram seized the advantage to smite down on the undead thing, cleaving it from shoulder to waist, and was revitalised by his victory.
“Well done, over there!” cheered Eric, showing a war-leader’s encouragement of his troops. “Now get over here to our aid. Fosdick’s suffering – it’s a right saga.” He followed his words with a trenchant blow staggering the mummy before him.
Fosden sought to finish the thing, but his spear was ill-suited to such close quarters and tangled between his own ankles, causing him to pitch to the floor beneath the mummy’s billows of icy vapour.
“Man down! Man down! On me!” cried Eric.
But it was the mummy that fell upon him, inflicting its freezing power through both hands locked about his helm. Only the warmth of the quilted arming cap beneath it spared Eric from sinking into frigid unconsciousness.
With Cram still hollering his victory, Wjizzo span away across the chamber, grabbing up the Winterbole Codex with a magical thought and floating it along behind him as he stabbed at the mummy locked upon Eric.
Eric seized the moment of its distraction and felled it with a hammer-blow that broke its pierced skull into bony fragments. The headless corpse collapsed at his feet.
“By the power of Bloodhammer!” he crowed.
The chamber was theirs. Eric moved to one of the great blocks of ice encasing a Paladin. “For Bahamut!” he cried, and dealt the block a mighty blow of his warhammer that sent cracks crazing though the ice.
“Vandomar may yet make a way back into this world,” cautioned Wjizzo. “Cram, stand ready for him. Hold your sword right there in the space where he was when I banished him.”
Cram moved as Wjizzo directed. “Come on back, you bastard,” he snarled, keeping the rage pulsing through him.
Eric continued to lay into the block of ice as the others awaited Vandomar’s return, and in short order he shattered the Paladin free. Fosden came up as Eric hastened onward to the next block, but within moments pronounced the Paladin preserved in death, rather than preserved in life.
Wjizzo moved to search the Paladin’s body.
“He’s a Paladin!” Eric protested to him. And then:“Fosden, you’re the padre. Do the rite thing!”
“Take the tithe!” urged Wjizzo in reply.
Time dragged on with Vandomar failing to reappear. Wjizzo even began to think his sense of the Donjon card’s power must have been wrong, and that Vandomar might be banished to the extraplanar pocket-dimension forever. But then, with a second percussive report, Vandomar was back in the chamber, just alongside Cram’s waiting fullblade.
Wjizzo threw his full force into a massively-empowered Acid Arrow. Cram recoiled from the path of the very attack that had slain Varris, and Vandomar reacted just as fast, raising his staff to punch up a desperate shield of force. To Wjizzo’s shocked surprise it deflected the spell just wide, and Vandomar suffered no more than a few sizzling spatters of eldritch acid, whilst the main force of the spell burst a hole clear through the stone wall of the tower.
Cram had a new object for his unsubsided rage. “Welcome back,” he leered as he drew back his sword. “And give Orcus my love.” And with a ferocious howl he struck Vandomar’s upper chest, spraying up shattered icicles and sending him crashing back against the great block of ice behind him.
With a last glance at the Paladin killed by Vandomar’s twisted attempt at preservation, Eric turned to charge down the mage. “You bastard!” he spat plummily, with uncustomary profanity, battering his Vandomar’s staff aside with his shield and landing his warhammer in the creature’s side.
Staggered and harried by the intensity of the assaults upon him, the frozen mage raised a shimmering white halo of cold magic about his staff, thrusting it at Cram, but the barbarian did not give an inch.
And then before their eyes the air around Vandomar burst with a riot of dystopic colour as Wjizzo focused a perfect Colour Spray to bludgeon the senses of the undead thing and drop it lifeless to the floor.
”Did you feel it?” Wjizzo asked the others excitedly. “Two cards of The Deck brought into close proximity, and when Vandomar became hostile there was a ‘shuffling’ and one of them manifested its power! And the elements of chance were heightened all through the battle, and fell out in our favour!”
Cram’s rage subsided into jubilation at having battled through unnatural minions, climbed the tower of an evil wizard and slain him in the topmost chamber. It was a barbarian’s dream come true, blunted only slightly by the fact that a High Elf’s magic had struck the final knell.
“Well we had better luck here than before,” he growled, “when that Card of Ruin was more like a curse upon us that cost Varris his life. I still will not trust in these fickle magicks!”
“He’s right,” exclaimed Eric. “In case you missed it, your elements of chance fell steeply in favour of that cold-preserved thing attacking me as well and it damn’ well nearly did for me twice over!”
“Let’s grab anything that’s valuable, and get the hell out of this cold,” Cram said.
“Not yet,” said Eric. “We must extricate these worthy knights so that we can give them a decent burial.”
And the card,” added Wjizzo. Inches from where its manifestation has appeared upon the floor of the chamber, the Donjon card of the Deck of Many Things lay encased in the block of ice containing the apprentice whom Valdomar had named Rubor.
After hacking the ice away from the dead Paladins and wizard’s apprentices, they departed the icy chamber with bodies to bury, a second card of the Deck of Many Things, a Staff of Winter, a locket from about Vandomar’s neck, the Winterbole Codex, and a bundle of books and scrolls.
In the room at the foot of the stairwell, the elemental magics had dissipated upon Vandomar’s death. “Warped magic,” spat Cram. “The spirits will be glad that this place is back to being a normal part of the world.” And he went to guard the door.
The others sank onto the chairs and benches about the room, all except Eric who climbed back up the stairs to bring more bodies back down.
Fosden opened Vandomar’s locket and found within it a miniature painting of one “Elaida”, a raven-haired beauty in plate armour with the features of the incongruous female head that had been ‘preserved’ upon the torso of the flesh golem. “He sought to preserve his dead love,” Fosden mused, “but oh so misguided. And everything else here came of that. Vandomar fell because of love.”
“The past is passed,” snorted Eric. “The man was a fool, and paid the price more than a century ago.”
Wjizzo perused the Winterbole Codex. “This discusses magical lines of power running between this world and the Feywild, which relate in various ways to ‘the World Tree’ and something called ‘Whisperer’. And it discusses how the shamans of the Tigerclaw barbarians, followers of ‘Hunter of Winter’, have some way of channelling that power.”
The ‘Southern Artefact’ and the Watchtower
Amongst the scrolled papers of abstract notes on arcane formulae and magical rituals, one unbound manuscript stood out, containing Vandomar’s reflections on the events at fall of Gardmore Abbey. He recorded his conclusion, if not his reasons for reaching it, that a “Southern Artefact” in the Paladins’ possession was responsible for the Chaos unleashed on that fateful day.
Having survived the downfall of the Abbey, Vandomar was driven by duty to focus his attentions on one particular phenomenon, despite bemoaning the fact that he had all but lost his reason through an overwhelming loss that to him outweighed all the destruction of so many lives. Amongst his duties to the community of Gardmore had been the operation of various magical scrying devices in the lofty watchtower at the southern end of the site. He found himself no longer able to access the tower, which he reported to have been sequestered from the world in which it stood. He conjectured that, in marked contrast to its effects anywhere else in the Abbey, the Artefact had caused energies and paradigms of the ‘Far Realm’ to project into the tower through the arcane channels that lay open in the scrying devices located there.
His further researches concluded that the tower stood abstracted from the normal world by a ‘dimensional rift’, and locked in a bizarre condition of stasis. His notes continued beyond this point, but in a series of fevered tangents obsessed with attempting to create a retrospective stasis “in which she never died.”
Mission Accomplished. All take an Incremental Advance.