Tales of the Wanderers

Idle Hands Make Mischief
Oerth (21st of Readying, 593 CY)

After the meeting of the newly-formed group and the decision to follow the piece of the device that was being taken eastward, everyone split up to prepare for the journey. Tegric took Demil to a room in the Axe & Hammer, and told the kender to stay in the room until Tegric returned from his preparations.

Of course, trying to keep a kender out of trouble is well-nigh impossible. Especially when you leave said kender alone.

Demil sat in the room for almost a half hour after Tegric left. It was one of the longest half hours of the kender’s life. When he could stand it no more, Demil leapt up from the bed he was sitting on, gathered up his many pouches and his backpack, and went down to the inn’s common room. He asked the dwarf Gorm, who was lounging at a table and eating a hearty breakfast, where one could procure some new clothes. The dwarf grunted something about the general store and waved in a vague direction before returning with gusto to his meal. Unperturbed, the kender went out into the mild spring morning, navigating the main street of Guldenberg, which was filled with children playing and adults going about their daily lives.

Once in the general store, Demil asked the proprietor if he had any clothes that would fit him. The proprietor was skeptical, but when into a back room to search. At that moment, a hand came down on the kender’s shoulder, and Demil turned to see Shaan, the younger brother of the warrior Paedrik, standing behind him. Shaan smiled down on the kender, and asked Demil to come talk outside. The young man led the kender to the fountain in the town square, and began to talk in veritable circles around Demil.

Soon, the kender found himself agreeing to accompany Shaan on a mysterious excursion. They traveled out of Guldenberg, bearing south. Almost a mile outside of the village, they came to a stand of trees. Shaan then told the kender that he had played here often as a child, and had long ago discovered a strange, circular stone beneath the trees. He took Demil to the stone, which was almost three feet in diameter and seemed to cover a hole in the earth. Shaan had never tinkered with the three dials set into the stone, but for some reason the arrival of the kender had given him the courage to do so. For what better time to be bold than when a traveler from another world came into one’s life? All the better when that traveler is one skilled in matters roguish.

Together, the pair were able to decipher the mystery of the dials, and the stone slid open, revealing a dark descent into the earth. They lit torches and descended. They found a single corridor leading off into darkness, made of well-fashioned stone similar to the lair beneath Barik’s dwelling. Clearly, there was some connection…

Moving cautiously down the corridor, Shaan spotted several trapped stones on the floor, saving the kender multiple times from stepping on said stones. It became apparent that the two’s roguish skills were complimentary: the kender being more skilled at opening locks and disarming traps, the human better at finding traps.

When they came to a large stone door that barred their way, the kender began to tinker with it. His efforts seemed ill-fated at first, as his actions caused a ten-foot section of the floor behind them to collapse! But he was eventually able to open the door, which slid up into the ceiling. Moving onward, they came to a T-shaped intersection, from which stared a small, demonic face carved into the stone with large green gems for eyes. Deciding not to meddle with the face, however tempted they were by the gems, they went down the left-hand branch of the corridor.

The corridor was lined with rows of wooden, iron-banded doors on either side. Their investigations of the first two doors yielded a small storage room filled with rotting rags, and a trapped door that they were not able to open successfully (their attempt to disarm the trap merely set off said trap, and simultaneously ruined the door’s lock, jamming it shut). Digging through the rags, they found a meager stock of gold coins.

Moving on to the next set of doors, they opened one to discover a small dining chamber, with plates, goblets, and silverware set on a large table and decaying tapestries on the walls. There were three cabinets in the room as well, to which the two gave their attentions.

As they rummaged through the cabinets, Demil noticed something out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see a strange human figure seated at the head of the table…a figure that had not been there when they entered the chamber. He became instantly fascinated, and moved toward the figure. The kender noticed as he approached that the “person” was all grey in color, and he also noticed with shock and delight that he could see through the figure. Demil was, of course, not at all afraid.

The kender called out to Shaan, who, upon turning around, became instantly agitated at the sight of the figure. The human rogue began to back away toward the door of the chamber, urgently calling to the kender to do the same. Demil, disappointed, obliged. Once they were out in the hallway beyond, Shaan insisted that they leave the underground complex immediately. Demil was perplexed and a bit frustrated at their explorations being cut short, but went along at the human’s insistence.

In Shaan’s haste to leave, he failed to notice another trapped stone in the floor. The human stepped on the stone, and the pair heard the sound of grinding stone above them. Not looking up to see what had been activated, they ran headlong toward the exit. Behind them, they could hear something pursuing them rapidly, its footfalls sounding strangely metallic. As they approached the massive stone door they had opened, they turned to see a cougar-sized creature that seemed to be made all of some golden metal. Indeed, the thing resembled a large cat, albeit a stylized one. Its eyes were giant green gems, similar to what they had seen in the demonic stone face.

They frantically searched for a way to shut the stone door as the creature loped toward them. Demil managed to find the way to lower the door, but it began to descend agonizingly slowly. Shaan threw a dagger at the thing, but the spinning blade merely glanced off the creature’s metallic hide. Then the kender used the sling on his hoopak to shoot a stone down the throat of the metallic cat, causing it to collapse and slide to a stop on the other side of the door as it finally slammed shut.

Coming to the ten-foot-wide pit their earlier actions had opened, Shaan volunteered to attempt a running leap over the pit. He barely succeeded in the attempt, clinging to the edge of the other side of the precipice. Pulling himself up slowly, he managed to pull himself out of the pit, then threw a rope across the chasm for Demil. Once both were on the other side, they hastened to the exit. Just before they reached it, they inadvertently activated another trap, causing more sections of the floor behind them to collapse rapidly. They ran for their lives toward the hand-holds that led back up to the surface, and made it just in time. They hauled themselves up and out, grateful to be out beneath the trees and sky again. The stone circle over the entrance closed again, and the pair made their slow and shaken way back to Guldenberg.

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A Gathering of Wanderers
Oerth (20th - 21st of Readying, 593 CY)

…the gargoyle bore down on Tegric and Demil from above, but the two were able to avoid the attack. As they ran on through the night-shrouded village, the screaming of the gargoyle caused villagers to look out from their homes, and shouts of horror and shock rang out through the streets. As Tegric and Demil made their way toward St. Cuthbert’s temple, they passed Rory’s home, and Tegric’s fellow blacksmith shouted at them, asking what was the matter. Tegric skirted the question, insisting that they had to get to the temple. Rory looked concerned and suspicious, a reaction that Tegric and Demil would encounter again and again from others throughout the night. As for the kender, Rory was the first to be startled by Demil’s appearance, and was also the first to refer to him as “a skinny halfling,” much to the kender’s confusion and chagrin.

As they arrived at the town square, they came within sight of the village’s sole inn, the Axe & Hammer. At that moment, Tegric’s uncle Argus, a captain of the men-at-arms belonging to the temple, burst out of the inn’s common room, along with four of his men. The captain and his men were somewhat inebriated, but they were coherent enough to recognize the threat to the village. Argus spotted his nephew and confronted him, asking him if he knew anything of what was happening. When Tegric avoided the topic and insisted that he be allowed to continue on to the temple, Argus made comment on his ongoing distrust of Barik, but allowed Tegric and Demil to move on…after expressing confusion at the appearance of the kender, of course.

Once at the temple, they met with Kerin, one of Tegric’s acquaintances from his youth. Amidst the confusion of clerics rushing through the temple in response to the gargoyle attack, Kerin (now a follower of St. Cuthbert) took them to a small healing chamber, and with the help of another young cleric named Tam, tended to Tegric and Demil’s wounds. After talking a bit with Kerin, and Tam catching the kender toying with a small marble statue of St. Cuthbert, Tegric and Demil decided to head back out to see how the fight against the gargoyle was progressing.

Out in the village square, they found Argus and his men standing around the dead body of the gargoyle. Argus was now in a wonderful mood, and he suggested that Tegric and Demil join him and his men for a round of celebratory drinks at the Axe & Hammer. As they approached the inn, Bero Pickheart, one of the proprietors of the inn, came trundling out in the midst of strapping on his armor, determined to join the fray that was already over. The dejected dwarf turned and slunk back into the inn’s common room, and was heckled by Gorm Stonebinder, the other dwarven proprietor of the inn. Argus called for ale, and Bero’s niece Bera brought the round. The kender, in the meantime, procured several pouches of coins from unsuspecting patrons, including one of the men-at-arms…with the intent of returning them later, of course.

Before the group could begin their celebrations, however, the door to the inn burst open and Barik stumbled in, raving about how someone had stolen something. Tegric rushed to help, and the wizard gasped something about the mysterious device that had summoned the kender and the other horrors now plaguing his underground lair. Tegric, Argus, and the majority of the men-at-arms decided to bring Barik to the temple, and Tegric ordered the kender to stay in the inn.

Once back at the temple and delivering Barik to the tender mercies of Kerin and Tam, Argus confronted Tegric, demanding to know what he knew about Barik and what was happening in the village. Tegric told his uncle about the device that Barik had been tinkering with, but didn’t reveal the existence of the lair. Argus became enraged, saying that he knew that the old man was bound to bring calamity down on Guldenberg. The two argued for a time, and Argus then stormed off to ensure that his men were prepared for further occurrences of attacks on the village.

Meanwhile, at the inn, three merchants came down from the rooms to have a meal in the common room. As one of the merchants passed Demil, the kender “acquired” one of the merchant’s pouches…and the merchant noticed the acquisition. He began raving aloud about the “little thief,” and demanded that the kender be arrested. The one remaining man-at-arms in the common room stood up to grab Demil, but the kender made a hasty exit and decided to head to the temple, in order to have the protection of Tegric.

At the temple, Tegric and Kerin were watching over Barik, who was still unconscious. The blacksmith and the cleric also spoke a bit, and Kerin revealed that Anton, and good friend of Tegric’s, had returned to Guldenberg after two years in Safeton, a town to the south. Kerin suggested that they ask Anton for assistance in the matter of the device, as he was an aspiring magic-user. They were interrupted by the arrival of Demil, and the kender’s pleas for protection. Kerin took the opportunity to find Anton, who was staying in the temple.

Anton and Tegric had a warm reunion, but the two old friends were interrupted by the return of Argus. Tegric’s uncle was accompanied by Paedrik, a childhood rival of Tegric who had become one of St. Cuthbert’s men-at-arms. It was then that Barik regained consciousness, and began urgently proclaiming that someone or something had come to his home to steal the device. Thus the full tale of the wizard’s secret lair and the events of the night before became known to all. Barik described his attackers as no more than “shadows.” When asked where the device had come from, Barik revealed that a nameless merchant had sold it to him for a pittance several months before. The merchant had told Barik that he was traveling from the Bright Desert on his way to the city of Greyhawk.

Then, before Barik slipped once again into unconsciousness, he produced a piece of the device from his robes. It was the crystal sphere, which had originally been cradled in the center of three pieces of curved golden metal. These three segments of the device were gone. Anton took the device, and began to study it. As Argus began to rage again about the meddling of wizards and the safety of the village, Anton exclaimed that there was a small point of light drifting inside the crystal. He surmised that the point of light might indicate the location of the missing pieces of the device. If that was indeed the case, he would need some more time to study the sphere to determine if he could use it to pinpoint the location. This led to discussion of whether or not it would be wise to make immediate plans to pursue the stolen pieces. The group decided to get some rest for the evening and reconvene the next day at the Axe & Hammer.

The next morning, Tegric, Demil, Kerin, and Anton went to the inn. There they met with Paedrik and his brother Shaan. Anton revealed that he had determined how to use the crystal sphere to track the missing pieces of the device, but added that a further complication had arisen: instead of one pinpoint of light in the sphere, there were now three. This led him to believe that the pieces had been separated and were being carried in three different directions. One piece seemed to be heading toward the northwest in the direction of the Gnarley Forest. The second was heading to the southwest, deeper into the Wild Coast. The third was heading toward the northeast, in the direction of Hardby, the Abbor-Alz, and perhaps the Bright Desert beyond.

The group ultimately decided that the piece headed toward Hardby was in the most jeopardy, as Barik had said that the device had most likely come from the Bright Desert. The desert had for almost a decade been under the control of the powerful archmage Rary, who had betrayed Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight at the end of the Greyhawk Wars. The thought of the piece falling into Rary’s hands was a great concern. The group decided to send messengers to Safeton and Narwell, since both of those towns were located on the paths of the other two shards. The hope was that the garrisons of those towns could be made aware of the search for the pieces, and could perhaps assist in their recovery.

Having decided on their course, they agreed to provision themselves, prepare for the journey, and leave the next morning. Argus, meanwhile, would remain vigilant, watching the entrance to the lair. Barik had placed wards and other spells over the entrance, but it was not known how long they would hold. As for Barik himself, Kerin had beseeched Guldenberg’s High Priest of St. Cuthbert, Father Aquiles, to give the old wizard sanctuary.

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A Kender Steps Onto Oerth...
Krynn (Early Autumn, 353 AC) / Oerth (20th of Readying, 593 CY)

To you who read this: what follows is an account of true events, to which I was privy through eldritch methods that I shall not set down here.

I’ll tell you a tale that begins with a kender. What is a kender, you ask? Well, they are a diminutive folk, of a size with halflings, but less given to girth and prone to unconsciously making off with other’s possessions. Suffice to say they are a small part of our vast cosmos, but still as vital as the most ancient of great wyrms. This particular kender, a young man named Demil Thissledown, left the home of the kender (called, of course, Kendermore) on the world of Krynn one bright Autumn morning. He succumbed to the Wanderlust that most kender are afflicted with during their lifetimes. Never heard of Krynn, have you? All you need know for the nonce is that it is one world among many, and yet, like kender, no less significant than any other.

But let us return to Demil Thissledown. It was 353 years after the great Cataclysm that had rent Krynn asunder, and just one year after the devastating War of the Lance. One of the legendary Heroes of the Lance was a kender named Tasslehoff Burrfoot. And like most young kender at that time, Demil wanted to be just like Tasslehoff. That meant journeying out into the wide world in search of adventure. Little did Demil know that he was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures a kender could experience. As the young man strode on, he saw a beautiful blue light form before him on the road. Fascinated of course by this singular occurence, Demil stepped forward eagerly…

And was pulled by means arcane to the world of Oerth, another not insignificant sphere in the universe. He appeared in the Common Year 593 in the secret underground lair of one Barik, a wizard and alchemist of middling abilities in the small village of Guldenberg. Barik, you see, had recently acquired a mysterious device, a working of glass and steel of unknown purpose. The old man had asked his young friend, Tegric the blacksmith, to witness the activation of the device, in case anything untoward happened. Tegric was no less interesting than Demil when it comes to this tale, but this will become apparent as the story unfolds…

Barik, having only deciphered a scant portion of the device’s function, decided to press ahead with his experiments regardless. Yet another instance of mortal man’s curiosity outstripping wisdom. The activation of the device under Barik’s unskilled hands caused the light that drew Demil to Oerth to appear on Krynn. It also created a flash that knocked out both Barik and Tegric, and summoned all manner of vile creatures to the wizard’s underground retreat. The chambers beneath the wizard’s house were many centuries old (indeed, even Barik himself did not know their origin), and no one else in the small town of Guldenberg knew of their existence. Barik was glad to keep it that way, as the folk of the town were suspicious of wizardry in general, and the lair afforded Barik a place to work unseen.

Tegric and Demil both awoke in the dark chamber where Barik activated the device in the lair beneath Guldenberg. They were confused at the sight of each other at first. Tegric took a moment to check on Barik, who was unconscious but alive. Demil, in true kender fashion, was already rummaging around the chamber, which served as a laboratory for the wizard and thus full of curiosities. In other words, a place that you would not want a kender to enter for any reason!

Tegric was able to gain Demil’s attention long enough to convince the kender that they should attempt to exit the lair with Barik. As they proceeded into the hallway beyond the laboratory, they heard faint sounds as if many small feet were moving about. They then encountered a small group of kobolds, which they dispatched quickly. Tegric knew something was amiss, and hastened to carry the still senseless Barik out of the lair, with Demil in tow.

Exiting the place was a harrowing experience. They were attacked and pursued by ghouls, and were forced to flee from those they did not slay. And they were hindered by the constant yammering and general foolishness of the kender, which served to slow their progress (at one point, young Demil managed to shoot himself in the foot with a bullet from the sling of his hoopak staff, a weapon-tool created by his race). When they neared the lair’s sole means of entrance and egress, Barik came awake once again, just in time to help Tegric and Demil fend off an attack by a demonic beast with horns, thick grey skin, and bat-like wings that Barik identified as a gargoyle. They were successful in defeating it, and hastily exited the lair.

Barik was fearful for a horrible moment when he thought that they had left the device in the depths of the lair, but to everyone’s great relief (including Demil’s) the kender had pocketed the item. The kender gave the device to Barik, who then insisted that Tegric and Demil proceed to the temple of St. Cuthbert and have their wounds tended to, while the wizard attempted to banish the creatures he had inadvertently summoned. On the subject of returning Demil to his own world, the wizard was clearly baffled.

On their way to the temple, the unlikely pair attempted to talk more of the strange events of the evening. They surmised that the kender had been pulled from his own world by the device, and they also began to learn more about each other when a terrible scream sounded from above. They looked up in horror to see another gargoyle swooping down on them from the night sky…

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