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    Postfest II: Two From the Marklands
    Posted on Wed, April 07, 2004 by Farcluun
    wavescrest writes "Two locales of interest within the Marklands are detailed herein, for use in a Greyhawk campaign set around 591 CY.

    What lies beneath the city of Mowbrenn? Fiendish cultists that seek to overthrow the young count, thieves and vagabonds, adventurers in search of the unknown. What is the story of the twin mounds upon which Mowbrenn city is founded?

    Pilgrim's Gate - the only city within the Pale to allow unbelievers in. However, not all who enter leave as unbelievers. Who are the people incarcerated within the Vigilatory, and why do they only leave as wide-eyed zealots of Pholtus?

    Two From the Marklands
    By: wavescrest
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The Brennreth Lal

    Once-proud upon the greater of two verdant earthen hills is the Nyrondal city of Mowbrenn. Lush and verdant, these twin mounds were settled on by the Nehrondi in the days before the Battle of a Fortnights Length, before being given to the House Huldane of the Black Mark, to which Count Cunal and his father Blackmar belong. The city lies upon the larger of the two mounds, whilst a small community and trading outpost lies upon the lesser mound, with a shanty town of refuges from the wars an all-too permanent addition.

    The Flan of the region called the two mounds the Mother’s Wealth. The displaced Tenh scholar Sekkar of Redspan claims a Flan city once stood named Brenneth Lal, or in common tongue the Sleeping Earth. The name Mowbrenn comes from an Oeridian corruption of “Moundbrenn” or “Mound Brenneth” which the Flan called the twin mounds upon which Mowbrenn was founded. He asserts that in time of antiquity Olve and the local Flan, named the Brennan, lived together in Brenneth Lal, until a mystic from the east corrupted the Brennan lord of the city. The Olven warden (whose lands were where Barren Keep now stands) was forced to go to war with his corrupted brother. The mystic revelled in the slaughter, sending the armies into a beserk fury. What transpired between the Olve, the Brennan lord and the Ur-mystic was untold by Sekkar, save that the blasphemous Ur incurred Beory’s wrath and the charnel house of Brenneth Lal was buried as the verdant and fertile Oerth itself rose to consume the city, forming the barrow upon which Mowbrenn lies. As a counterpoint to this act Sekkar claims Beory robbed the area around what is now Barren Keep of any Brenneth Lal. When the Oeridian Nehrondi came the Flan had fallen to barbarism but remembered the stories and shunned the mounds.

    The common thought among the learned and wise of Nyrond is that Sekkar’s tale is nothing more than a fanciful fable, though the Sagacious Society has remained silent on the issue. The construction of Barren Keep is clearly not of Olven design, direct intervention by the Oerth Mother has never been documented (and such things are almost unheard of on the Flanaess), and some clergy of Beory find the assertion that the Oerth Mother would desecrate the lands of Barren Keep an affront.

    Regardless of Sekkard’s story there is a network of tunnels and passages beneath Mowbrenn that form an undercity. This has attracted its fair share of treasure-seekers and would-be explorers as well as providing discrete access for the less reputable of the city. It was in the dank and narrow fetid corridors of this subterranean metropolis that the Dellebian paladin Marquel (LG human male Pal 9) came to prominence with his discovery of “a vast and unwalked necropolis of old beneath the centre of the undercity”. He concluded that the tomb must be Suloise in origin, for the Flan clearly lacked the skill and civilization to bury their dead on shelves that slowed the decaying ravages of time Alas his explorations in 580 CY were cut short by other duties to King Archbold III, but he spoke of row upon row of Flan entombed within the depths and centre of the barrow.

    Sadly the Greyhawk Wars prevented any further meaningful incursions into the Flan tombs, and it was forgotten for a time save by thieves and malcontents. In recent times a Blood Cult led by a malefic and fiend-trafficing priest of Hextor has began holding unspeakable ceremonies in the upper-reaches of the city. Stalking the upper recesses of the Undercity with impunity to young Baron Cunal’s edicts the Blooded One (as Quaralanth now styles himself, keeping his true identity secret) and his demented cult harvest the life’s blood of the common folk for whatever dire purposes and the black-hearted masters he serves. Even with the Count and King Lynwerd’s compassionate and wise reformations there still remain the dispossessed and desperate who are all too willing to fill the rust-red bowls of the Blooded One at the secret courts he holds within the City in exchange for a silver shield or copper common. Of late a small majority of these donors have been Tenh refugees.

    The Blooded One was gifted a demonic ally by his master in the wake of Lynwerd’s ascension to the throne in Fireseek 586 CY. However its arrival coincided with the day of the Flight of the Fiends and the arriving tanar’ri was banished – or so it seemed to the Blooded One. Its body was in fact gone, but something remained – a presence, or formless intangible evil that began to reassert itself. It could not touch initially, but it hungered, and it could eat. At first it fed off the corpses of rats, taking their harvested flesh as its own until it resembled an other-worldly and hellish mockery of its prey. Little remains of the tanar’ri’s intelligence, only primal instinct, a soul of irredeemable evil and an unquenched thirst for blood. So far it has only preyed on those among Mowbrenn’s magsmen (the local thieves) and derelicts living below the city. It instinctively knows somehow not to harm the blood cult.

    What the Blooded One seeks to do with the human blood he has amassed is unknown, and perhaps unconscionable, but worse yet is the fact that the prayers and ritual blood-letting beneath Mowbrenn have began to awaken something buried deep within the barrows beneath the mound. Something old, that was long buried after it corrupted the Brennan.

    Pilgrim’s Gate

    North of troubled Mowbrenn and Midmeadow lies the Palish fortress-town of Pilgrim’s Gate, ever vigilant of the southern border and the land the Council of Nine covet. The laws of the Pale, ever since the dark days of the Greyhawk Wars, prevent heathens who do not walk the One True Path from travelling without a guide through the failing fields of the lands and the streets of their cities. Save for Pilgrim’s Gate – the one city in the Theocracy of the Pale where those who do not worship Pholtus are truly welcomed.

    Most of Pilgrim’s Gate is occupied by the Vigilatory, an enormous pure white tower that reaches the sky like a gleaming pearl. From here at night can be heard the almost demented praises of the faithful and the faint sobbing of the damned, the poor degenerate heretics that the Church Militant and Knights Templar have found preaching heathen and heretical ways throughout Pholtus’s land. From misguided clergy of Pholtus from Tenh and the Shield Lands who preached contrary to the Pieseticals of the Pale, to the infamous Arranoth the Black (NE human Clr7 – Incabulous) the head of cult of Incabulous that was rooted out from a Wintershiven slaughterhouse in 579 CY, the Vigilatory has no end of unwilling residents. Rumours speak that Grand Templar Ivanic Temzien (LN human Clr14 – Pholtus) once ordered a room prepared for King Archbold III and that he had orchestrated an attempt to “rescue” Archbold from his heathen court and bring him to Pilgrim’s Gate that he might learn to better govern Nyrond. Sadly Ivanic’s plans had been spoiled by the king’s stroke and a civil war between his sons Lynwerd and Sewardnt.

    Not all occupants within the Vigilatory are here by order of the Council of Nine, the Church Militant (or sometimes the Valorous League from Nyrond, who have deposited many an enemy here). Some voluntarily cloister themselves away, seeking to learn of Pholtus’s mysteries and hide from the growing darkness within Stonehold and Iuz’s regions. Such individuals sing out with hoarse voices from their cells, forsaking food and drink save for sacred silverwater that flows from a fountain in the center of the city. Some are from foreign lands and are waiting for the day when the administrator of Pilgrim’s Gate, Shining Paragon Lassernwyrd (LN human Clr12 - Pholtus) will put them to the Question and prove that they are truly worthy of citizenship in the Pale, and that they may walk freely within Pholtus’s realm.

    Exactly what deeds are worked within the Vigilatory, and in the Dawn Camps of the western and northern borders, are uncertain but the most hardened heathen who spends at least five or so years emerges from their ‘retreat’ with a fervour to Pholtus that overrides any other dominant personality traits they once held. Some are even released into the communities at large, finding homes in Hawkburgh, Hatherleigh and Stradsett.

    Outside of the Vigilatory, within the shining white walls that glow with divine light are buildings built upon the brow of what is known as Heretic’s Hill, which surrounds the Vigilatory. Heretic’s Hill is for those who do not seek the wisdom of Pholtus, but rather a respite from the darkness in the lands outside Pholtus’s blessed domain. Here Palish compassion is demonstrated in the food and drink, eternal vigil and constant hymn-singing that the Sisters of the White Veil convey to the refugees, begging them to give into Pholtus and lock themselves in the Vigilatory, that they may learn his mysteries.

    DM’s Notes:

    Pilgrim’s Gate makes an excellent intrigue and dungeon-based adventuring site within the Theocracy of the Pale. PCs who have made an enemy of the Church or the Valorous League of Nyrond might find themselves incarcerated in here, allowing the Dungeon Master to roleplay arduous and torturous experiences at the hand of Shining Paragon Lassernwyrd and his compassionless staff, both magical and mundane.

    On the other hand the PCs may wish to rescue a friend from the white halls of the Pilgrim’s Gate. This is a far more arduous task given the fortifications and the mistrust of the Palish border guards, not to mention finding the right heathen from the Vigilatory’s veritable cornucopia of inmates.

    Lastly – if the PCs seek passage through the Pale, Pilgrim’s Gate is where they must make their case. It is possible to come to some agreement with Shining Paragon Lassernwyrd and the Council of Nine if the PCs seek treasures within the Rakers or travel westwards to war with Iuz. In this case, the roleplaying opportunities with the fanatical Sisters of the White Veil, who would go to great lengths to convert foreign bands of travellers.

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    Re: Two From the Marklands (Score: 1)
    by Abysslin ( on Wed, April 07, 2004
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    Your teaser was pretty good, it drew my interest rather quickly for only being a few lines long!

    I really enjoyed Pilgrim's Gate. It had some fresh ideas that led me off on other possibilities and tangents. A good read, indeed.

    Re: Two From the Marklands (Score: 1)
    by cwslyclgh on Wed, April 07, 2004
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    Very nice, both of them... I like the way you handled the classic D&D immage of a city built on top of a massive dungeon with Brennreth Lal. Pilgims gate reminds me of why I dislike the Pale ;)

    Re: Two From the Marklands (Score: 1)
    by Argon on Sat, April 10, 2004
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    I enjoyed your article greatly, it was well written and displays alot of information in such a confined space. The same story written by myself may have taken many more pages. You also seem to have my idea of what the Pale is truly all about!

    Re: Two From the Marklands (Score: 1)
    by Muscles on Thu, September 09, 2004
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    Hey wavecrest,

    Good article, I envision the Pale as a bunch of spanish inquisitioners. You carry this theme nicely. The undercity of brenreth lal is intriging as well. Good job.


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