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 and Fosden: Relationships to re-roll.
_Wjizzo, ___________________ : A clear benefit_
Eric Bloodhammer, Conflicted of Bahamut: A clear benefit and a benefit with complications.
Ramposh Vile Rune
Wjizzo and Lonnow emerged from the wagon to see Cram of the Thumpers pacing frenetically round the orc corpses on every side, his dripping fullblade still in his hands. “Six o’ them’re mine!” he boasted. “Come on! That’s the Rage of the Great Rabbit for you. I could do it again, you know.” He was the only one wounded in the encounter, but clearly there was nothing like red slaughter for helping one to shrug off one’s hurts.
Fosden was also in good spirits. “We’ve got a wagon we can call plunder, we’ve got nine dead orcs and their gear, and we’ve got ‘Gappy’ over there. Let’s turn this into a plan, so we can steal through Orc Town in broad daylight.”
Wjizzo cast his Charm Person spell on ‘Gappy’, who promptly gave him his name. “I’m Ramposh of the Vile Rune.” He explained that the Vile Rune orcs are the tribe that make up most of the orcs in Gardmore, the rest being reinforcements from other tribes of the Stonemarch mountains’ Bloodspear orc ‘nation’).
Ramposh remained hostile towards the group that just slaughtered his companions, Pumog and most of his ‘crew’, but wasn’t so much aggressive as he was fearful of them, especially Cram who hacked him up and Fosden who smacked him down. His one friend amongst these enemies, Wjizzo, explained that he has business in the wizard’s tower in the midst of the orc camps in the ruined Gardmore Village, and asked if he could help.
“All right, my friend, I’ll help you get there, if your crew don’t kill no one else who don’t ask for it. That place is a fucking blight.”
Once he was convinced that the spell had taken, Wjizzo took Ramposh aside and questioned him at some length while the others went about heaping the corpses of the orc slain into the back of the wagon, knowing that it had been the orcs’ practice to leave no sign of battle in any of their previous raids.
After a little while Wjizzo related to them that the orc chief, Bagrosh, held court with his ‘squeeze’, and his storm-shaman and warg-rider bodyguards, in the keep just inside the gatehouse, though apparently the door was guarded by an Ettin whose two heads never both slept at the same time. The rest of the force was divided into the ‘crews’ or ‘gangs’ who each kept their own watch-fire and were primarily loyal to their own leader, even if all they in turn owned Bagrosh to be the overall war-chief. The gatehouse was manned by a rotation of four of the tougher crews that each included an ogre, and they expected to get a cut of anything coming in through the gate that wasn’t from a major raid led by Bagrosh himself.
Lonnow Grent took his leave of them with hearty farewells on both sides, as he set out on the unenviable hike back up the King’s Road and home to Winterhaven. But the adventurers had an altogether different discomfort ahead of them. They organised themselves with Ramposh taking the reins of the wagon, Wjizzo just behind the canvas door-flap at his back, ready to whisper instructions or use a ‘Disguise Self’ magic if need be, and Cram – who spoke the Giantish tongue used by all the orcs of the Nentir Vale, including the Stonemarch – next to him in Pumog’s scale armour and the full-face helm of one of the other flail-warrior orcs. Should they be challenged, ‘Eric Bloodhammer’ was already known to some of the orcs in the camp as a mercenary, and Fosden was prepared with an identity as an amoral mercenary chaplain of Kord.
Wjizzo wondered aloud how they might avoid hostility with any orcs they might meet, and Ramposh and Fosden advised on what bribes of ale or coin might be appropriate in various circumstances.
And so, choosing to approach at daybreak when they knew the level of activity in the camp to subside, they approached the gatehouse into Gardmore Village.
In Through the Front Gate
They drove up under the watchful eyes of orcish archers on the towers to either side, and passed under the raised wooden portcullis into the gatehouse. The second portcullis on the way through into Gardmore was also up, as Ramposh had assured them it would be. But the battleaxe-wielding leader of the crew stepped in front of the horses and challenged in the Giantish tongue. “Who the fuck goes there?!”
“Yeah?!” echoed the ogre.
Ramposh was well-briefed. “It’s us, isn’t it? Pumog’s crew, with a captured wagonful o’ plunder,” Cram/Pumog tossed out an aleskin and two fistfuls of mixed coin without even lowering the tankard from which he was convincingly guzzling, accompanied by a chorus of supposedly orcish belches, drunken hiccups and guffaws from inside the wagon.
The orc-guards hesitated, somehow unconvinced.
“There yer go,” added Cram, but was still met only with a frosty glare.
A second orc at the leader’s shoulder muttered, “How do we know what they got back there?”
Eric felt the stand-off could only get worse. “What’s the hold up?” he called out in irritated tones., before thrusting his head out through the door flaps. “We’re on important business. Ah. I see you’re wondering about the eyepatch. Got it in the last scrap.”
“’Ere, Ginzle, it’s that dickhead mercenary!”
“In with Pumog? When did that happen? Your business sure as fuck ain’t more important than mine, Bloodhammer!” he snarled, putting a foot on the wagon, about to launch himself up there and have a go right away.
“Let us through, Ginzle,” growled Cram. “We’re exhausted. You boys’ve got your whack and you’ve got a skin of ale, and we’re getting back to our camp.” And he extended one booted foot to push the crew-leader back to sprawl on the floor amongst the coins.
Ramposh flicked the reins and the wagon rolled past as Ginzle just spat curses up at it. ‘Pumog’ seemed to escape his ire, but his cries followed the wagon as it progressed up the village road. “Eric fuckin’ Bloodhammer! You’d better stick like shit on the shoe of your new orc mates! ’Cos if we get you on yer own, we’ll put yer other fuckin’ eye out for yer!”
Eric yelled his own chorus of swearing as he stomped through to the back of the wagon, features contorted insanely as he bit a splintered chunk of wood from the tailgate and spat it in their direction as they continued with their hail of invective.
But they made no move to follow, and when more cries were voiced from the nearest camp to shut the bloody noise, the shouting match essentially faded away.
“It’s madness at Gardmore Abbey,” said Fosden to the others, looking askance at the big red-bearded fighter. “And it’s us who have brought the madness with us.”
Ramposh drove the wagon northwards up the road through the camps in the ruined village, reassuring Wjizzo that it was all right not to report in to Bagrosh in his Keep right away, as everyone knew he wouldn’t want to be woken at this time of day. Various orcs or their hangers-on cast incurious glances at the wagon passing through their midst, and the adventurers were painfully aware of just how many orcs there were on every side, if anything should go awry. They held their breaths when a pair of great warg-wolves came up to sniff the trundling wagon and snarl their distaste at its scent. But whether it was the orcish dead or the living elf and men that offended they never learned, as the wargs let the wagon pass on its way.
The Tower of the Archmage
And at length the unmolested wagon turned down a side-street and came to a rest around the back of the wizard’s tower. Wjizzo told Ramposh that if he stayed with the wagon and guarded it for them, he could expect to receive a portion of the ‘loot’ they would secure from the tower. Wjizzo’s companions were impressed with his grasp of the concepts most dear to mercenaries, raiders and orcs.
Ramposh whispered to the high-elf wizard, “Watch out, Wjizzo. Those two dragon-man statues outside the door to the tower are Gargoyle monsters. Any idiot who goes too close to them on his own, he gets grabbed and hauled inside. And none of them ever make it back out again.”
Gargoyles! Wjizzo had read of these. Though it was not widely known, gargoyles were creations of stone that possessed an acute affinity with the earth, and though blind when at rest in statue form, they could nevertheless sense the faintest movement through the ground.
The wizard’s tower brooded above the murky fog like a grey giant, the raucous calls of the ravens roosting in its spire echoing down to those on the ground. Wjizzo, giving it a wide berth, went around the front to survey the entrance and saw, between a pair of bird-dropping-covered statues of dragons, one door hanging from its hinges and the other a crumpled wreck.
The chill interior of the tower glowed with a flickering radiance. Faint tongues of fire glided along the stone floor and walls, crossing paths with webs of silver lightning that sparked and vanished; puddles of water formed on the floor to suddenly harden into ice and just as suddenly melt into stinking pools of acid. Several orcish carcases lay in sight within, ravaged by the elemental carnage.
Wjizzo proposed the plan that Cram, Fosden and Eric should approach as light-footedly as they might, to a point close by the entrance to the tower. Then he would show himself and draw the gargoyles forth, such that everyone else could gain the interior of the tower unharmed. He himself would Fey-step past the gargoyles and join his companions inside.
And this they did. But though Fosden and Cram kept their tread light, even they could feel Eric’s stomping footfalls through the ground.
The nearer of the gargoyles awoke, a red light coming into its stony eyes. It stomped one foot hard against the ground, and the eyes of the other lit up too.
“Hi! Over here!” cried Wjizzo valiantly.
The gargoyles scarcely paused, spreading their wings and launching towards the corner.
But when Eric Bloodhammer heard Wjizzo’s cry he joined it with his own familiar reaction to stealth situations. “Chaaarge!” Warhammer and stone beast clashed head-on, the head of the warhammer proving the harder, knocking the first gargoyle tumbling to the dirt. The second gargoyle plunged down upon him, Eric just managing to turn his thick shoulder-pauldrons into the path of its taloned feet. Cram dashed up to hack the tumbled one before it could rise, but the tortured scrape of steel on stone seemed to have done the monster little harm.
Wjizzo took a moment, calculating whether this was the moment to try a new spell technique that creates separate precisely-targeted bursts of force…