The Abduction of Thrommel - Part I Prelude to Circus
Date: Sat, May 22, 2004
Topic: Stories & Fiction

My Greyhawk campaign started in 560 CY and we are now at the end of 573 CY. Not only did the PC’s experience the abduction of Prince Thrommel as a “campaign event”, they were standing next to him when it happened! Given that Thrommel’s abduction still generates interest among Greyhawkers, I thought some of you might like to read how it all played out in my campaign.

This Part I sets up the political situation just prior to the abduction. Part II (the Circus) describes the actual abduction itself. Subsequent parts will describe how the PC’s are attempting to figure just what happened.

Footnotes explain the non-canon parts of my campaign and detail background knowledge on PC’s and NPC’s.

This post contains a SPOILER to some of the events in “The Jingling Mordo Circus”, a module from Dungeon Magazine Issue #7.

The Abduction of Thrommel - We were there! Part I Prelude to Circus
By: kirt
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

8 Wealson, CY 573
The general purpose of the Summer Conference of Allied Nations is to coordinate military policy among Furyondy, the Shield Lands, and Veluna. The three nations seek to combine their defenses against the dangers threatening them. Each nation faces strong opponents. Veluna is menaced by Ket and the Gran March. Furyondy faces Iuz [1], and both Furyondy and the Shield Lands border the Horned Society. The Shield Lands are also raided by the Bandit Kingdoms. Once a year representatives from the royalty, nobility, knightly orders, and clergy of the three countries meet to discuss further cooperation.

This year’s talks are being held outside the City of Verbobonc, in the palace of the Viscount. The main hall of the palace has been converted into a great assembly, with seating for all of the delegates and a raised platform in the center to address the assembly.

Previous year’s meetings have done much to foster the defense of the three allies. Troops have been removed from the common borders of the three nations, allowing them to be relocated to more dangerous frontiers. Strategic information is shared among the allies. Furyondy and Veluna have better coordinated their efforts against river bandits on the Velverdyva, and Furyondy and the Shield Lands have done the same against the pirates of the Nyr Dyv.

This year’s meeting has a more ambitious focus. Furyondy is formally requesting the assistance of the other nations in an offensive strike against Izlen. This is the plan of Crown Prince Thrommel, through his position as Commander of the Furyondy Royal Army, as well as heir to the throne of Furyondy. After the introductions and formalities, Thrommel outlines his vision to the assembled delegates.

Izlen is a stronghold commanding the mouth of the Dulsi River, where it empties into the Whystil. The Old One has a ramshackle fortification there, centered on a sorcerous structure known as the Tower of Fear [2]. As Thrommel explains it, Izlen is the main launching point for Iuzian troops entering the Vesve. It, and a nearby port town, are also the base of operations for Iuzian ships in the Western Whystil. Thus, the site is of immense strategic importance to Iuz, yet it is so far from Dorakaa that it is entirely responsible for its own defense. In the previous two years, Furyondian forces (including elves from the Vesve) have rolled back the Iuzian troops near Izlen, so that an assault on the stronghold itself is now possible. It is Thrommel’s hope at this conference to get the Alliance Nations to agree to the capture of Izlen.

When Thrommel states this goal outright, there is a murmur of protest throughout the general assembly. No one is surprised by the announcement itself - most had heard rumors of it long before they left their homelands. But the directness of Thrommel’s speech, the lack of the usual diplomatic flattery and obfuscation, are unexpected.

Thrommel waits briefly for the murmurs to subside. He counters, “I am aware that this is unprecedented. I know that this august body is a defensive alliance, and I am calling for offensive action. But please, noble sirs, hear me out.”

He pauses again, waiting for the full attention of all. “This is not conquest for which I call. This is not occupation of land - no fiefs will come from this, not for Furyondy or other nations. This is a pre-emptive defense. This is a call for one strike, one blow, that will make us all safer.”

“The capture of Izlen, and the taking of its fortification as our own, will be of immense utility. If we hold this point, the Old One will be unable to supply his armies in the Vesve. He will be forced to withdraw thousands of troops. His ability to menace settlements along the Whystil coast will be crippled. The Vesve will be immediately safer. Furyondy troops now in the Vesve could then be used as scouts in Ket or the Bandit Lands.”

“If we hold Izlen, the Old One’s ships must sail from Dorakaa. His ability to act effectively in the western Whystil will be greatly reduced. Crockport will be safer from both land and sea. Furyondy naval forces now defending that city could be moved to the Veng River, to counter the Horned Society.”

“There is even the hope of weakening two of our enemies. If we take Izlen, if we hold it strongly, the Old One will be unable to advance in the west. If he yearns for conquest, he will have nowhere to advance but east - and this could bleed the Horned Society. We know that the Old One is no friend of the Hierarchs, and that they have fought in the past.”

“This is what I am suggesting - a bold strike that will improve the defenses of all of our lands.”

Thrommel remains on the floor, but opens it to others. A Shield Lands Lord is recognized. “Even if we agree to this,” he objects, “there is no way it could be organized before winter. There are thousands of vermin in Izlen, and we are already in Wealson.”

Thrommel replies. “I do not intend to take Izlen itself this summer. This summer, I would occupy the land on the western side of the river, on the high ground overlooking the fortifications. If we can take that, and hold it against whatever the Old One sends, then we will build our own fortifications there and have a base for a future assault. Because we will be fighting on even ground, we will not need numerical superiority. I will be requesting a few companies of pikemen from Veluna and two companies of heavy foot from the Shield Lands, plus whatever knights are willing to volunteer. Furyondy can supply the rest. By next summer we can have gathered all the men and machines necessary to take Izlen itself.”

After this, many speak. Kristianna [3] listens while the Grand Master [4] comments on the speakers. Most make vague statements of support without clear details, or offer hope for the alliance while claiming a “concern for consensus”. The Grand Master explains, “There are many who will oppose this - but few who would do so openly. At this point, no one wants to commit. The opposition is waiting for a leader to emerge. If someone steps forward, they can rally behind him...or blame him if they are unsuccessful. If no one is willing to publicly oppose Thrommel, he will have his way and the opposition will only grumble. But if someone emerges, this assembly will be polarized, and we will see a contest.”

After listening until the speeches become monotonous repetitions, Kris asks the Grand Master, “Why is this necessary? This conference is a defensive alliance. If Thrommel needs men, he has the Royal Army. He can require the service of Furyondy nobles as their Prince and of Velunese nobles as their Provost. Why is he asking this here?”

The Grand Master replies, “Thrommel can ask his father to command the service of Furyondy nobles. But by custom, their troops will serve for only forty days unpaid - after that, he has to pay them. Forty days is enough for this summer’s work, but not for a long siege next summer.”

“The position of Provost is purely defensive. Under the authority of the Archcleric, the Provost may require the service of any armed layman in Veluna - but they may not leave Velunese soil. To get a single slinger to leave Veluna is beyond the power of the Provost. Offensive deployment requires the Archcleric to declare a Crusade. Hazan would be loathe to do that unless the cause was already popular among the nobles.”

“I expect that this summer’s work is a trial, a test. Can Thrommel can unite the nobles, get them to support his plan willingly, without compulsion? Will the attack be successful? If so, then next year he will be likely to get money from his father to pay the Furyondy nobles and a Crusader Banner from the Archcleric to command the Velunese nobles. At least, that is my interpretation.”

Kris thanks the Grand Master for his wisdom, and returns to listening to the speeches.

9 Wealson
The next morning, Kris comes early to the assembly hall and watches the delegates arrive. Today they are more careful about choosing their seats - and there is much whispering and finger pointing as they go about it. Kris guesses that the Grand Master’s prediction has been met - a challenger to Thrommel has appeared, and the nobles are aligning their seats to be nearer to their respective champion. Based on her hunch, Kris decides that many Furyondy nobles support Thrommel, principally those from the north and east of Furyondy. The majority of Shield Lands delegates are in his camp as well. The remainder of the Shield Landers seems uncommitted - they are sitting in the buffer zone between the two sides of the hall. The unknown challenger seems to command the sympathies of most Velunese nobles and clergymen, as well as of a number of powerful nobles from south and west Furyondy. The geographic split in Furyondy makes sense to Kris. The north and west of Furyondy are the lands most in danger from Iuz and the Horned Society, while the south and east are safer. Also, the south and east border with Veluna, and share its official faith [5].

The day starts with the back-and-forth skirmishing of the day before, although it is more clear now where the sympathies of each speaker lie. Still, there is an air of vagueness and anticipation, a waiting for the challengers to face each other before anyone fully commits. Most of the speakers have been Lords and Knights - minor nobles of little importance. When a Furyondy Duke rises, the hall falls quiet. The man is Duke Hubert of Morray - a staunch supporter of the King and a paladin known informally as “The Hammer of Cuthbert” [6]. As befitting a paladin, his words are brief but forceful.

“His Pious Majesty, King Belvor IV...” (Hubert pauses as the assembled lords chorus the required “Gods save the King!” at the mention of Belvor’s name) “...sends His greetings to this august body, and His regrets than he cannot join it due to other pressing affairs. However, His Majesty has charged me with communicating His wishes. After considering to the opinions so far presented, His Majesty expresses his complete support for Prince Thrommel’s plan. His Majesty further exhorts the noble lords present to see the wisdom in the plan, and judge it with an eye toward our collective future.” Hubert seats himself, and the room is briefly abuzz.

“That was a clear move to end this discussing,” whispers the Grand Master to Kris. “The opposition has to respond now or not at all.”

Moments later, a man rises from the other side of the hall, and the room fills with voices. The man makes no effort to quiet the assembly, but stands proudly erect, as if to display himself to the lords. Thrommel regards him coolly from the opposite end of the hall. Kris studies the man as the chatter continues. He is tall and well proportioned, fair of face and noble in bearing. Kris’ keen elven eyes see a softness about his hands, and a limpness in his shoulders - although fit and healthy, the man is no warrior, but a pampered palace lord. Oddly, he wears no heraldic emblems, not even on his jeweled scabbard. The sword is too long for one of his reach, and she doubts he has used it much, nor the equally jeweled dagger on his other hip. His facial hair is short and neatly trimmed, in the manner of Velunians and those Furyondians who favor Pholtus. Indeed, he had been sitting between a Velunian lord and a Pholtusian priest. The man smiles slightly, but there is a curl to his lip and a glint in his eye that Kris has seen before in wolves on a hunt. The Grand Master whispers a title and name to Kristianna...“Don Rodrigo.” [7]

Rodrigo eventually turns his head and looks about the hall. With his gaze, he gathers up the attention of the lords and the room slowly grows quiet. Only then does he walk to the stage, prolonging the silence further.

“Friends, noble lords, holy fathers,” he begins at last. “No man among us doubts the integrity of the King of Furyondy. No man doubts his honor, or his concern for the people of this alliance. Should any here voice such a challenge, my sword would be the first to answer. We all respect the pronouncement so capably delivered by his Grace, Duke Hubert.”

“Yet I see that some of you do doubt His Majesty’s perspective on issues regarding the judgment of His...son.” There are gasps on Thrommel’s side of the room when the strange emphasis is given to the word “son”, and the Prince’s eyes blaze. Then there are sniggers from some Velunians, as Rodrigo’s slight sinks in. Although he is Crown Prince, it is no secret that Thrommel is a bastard child, the son of Belvor and an unmarried Velunese noblewoman. Of course, this is never mentioned in public, and Rodrigo’s mere hinting of it is clearly an insult and a challenge.

Rodrigo continues. “To the proud eyes of a father, this plan may appear without fault. But it is our duty, my lords, to examine it without such fatherly pride - to look at whether it is truly in the interest of our lands, and not just in the interests of its maker.”

“This plan certainly has much to recommend it...if you happen to be a paladin sworn to the destruction of the Old One. While we heard talk of how this will benefit us all, it is clear that its goal is not our benefit, but to gain a staging ground for the invasion of the Old One’s lands. This plan is not about defense - it is the first step in an undeclared war!”

“Let us examine carefully its supposed “benefits”, not with the eyes of a father, but with our own eyes. We are expected to believe that elves and woodsmen, grateful for our liberation of their forest, will trek to distant Ket or the Bandit Lands to return our service? De veras? My lords, we remember too well elven “gratitude”, and how our trust in them served us in the Quagflow. Indeed, how it continues to serve us in that regard.” [8]

Kris is grateful for her dark complexion, for none in the room can tell that her face is ablaze. The Grand Master betrays no sign of emotion, despite the myriad gazes currently fixed on them, and his steely eyes suggest to Kris that she do the same.

Rodrigo continues. “We are further asked to believe that with Crockport secure, the sailing ships of the Furyondy Navy there will suddenly become river barges for service on the Veng. And that this will somehow benefit us all, and not just the handful of Furyondian lords whose lands adjoin the Veng.”

Rodrigo speaks well and forcefully. There is a growing chorus of support for him in the hall. When he pauses, some nobles shout “Hear, hear” or “Oyez, Oyez”.

“But let us say that these miracles do come to pass. What then? Believe you that this is the end of the plan? That this King and his son will rest content? It is clear, my lords, this is only the first step. What is at stake here is a war that would empty our lands of men for the sole purpose of emptying the northlands of vermin. This plan provokes that war - it longs for that conflict. It is our duty as stewards of men to look to our people, not to seek their destruction!”

The assembly hall resounds with cries, both for and against Rodrigo. Many shout out “What would you do?” or “What is your plan?”

Rodrigo smiles triumphantly. “I say to you, let us support this plan...for now. This summer’s work, taking and holding a position on our side of the Dulsi, is a valid goal. That will protect the coast, and that is enough. We have lost many brave men in the past few years fighting over this strip of land, and a fort that could keep the Old One to his side of the Dulsi would mean that those lives were not shed in vain.”

“But I say also, let us be clear that we have no wish to attack Izlen itself, and no wish to invade the lands of the Old One. Let us vote now for a resolution re-affirming our commitment to defense, not conquest. Let us say no to this mad scheme of bleeding our nations to satisfy the personal vendetta of a paladin. Let him fulfill his oath as a man - and not use our men to spare himself the risks he fears!”

There is a collective gasp from the assembled lords, and then silence as all eyes fix on Thrommel. To question one’s parentage is insulting, but to call a man afraid in front of such a multitude is unpardonable. Thrommel’s jaw is clenched, and he grabs one of his gauntlets from his belt, lifts it over his head. His arm strains, and he is at the point of throwing the gauntlet in front of Rodrigo. Kris sees the raised arm in a fraction of a second that lingers in eternity. Finally, the arm lowers. Thrommel carefully tucks the glove back into his belt. He then strides slowly, heavily, to the center of the stage.

“It is no secret that I have sworn an oath to defeat the Old One. That is my personal oath, as a paladin. But I stand before you now not as a paladin. Not even as Prince or Provost do I here stand. Today I am but a humble servant to my King, a faithful penitent to my Archcleric, and a loyal friend to my eastern neighbors of the Holy Shield. As these things, I tell you that my plan is sound, and is for the benefit of all. I would see the Old One fall, but I do not seek to use this assembly for that end.” Thrommel’s voice strains, and he whispers cryptically, “When I enter Dorakaa, I will be alone, with neither friend nor ally beside me.” Then he takes a breath, and announces to all, “You have heard my plan. I have need of your men. Do as your hearts dictate.” Without a glance at Rodrigo, he walks crisply off the stage and out of the hall.

As soon as Thrommel has left, Kris makes bold to stand and be recognized, but the hall is filled with voices. The Grand Master arches an eyebrow, but makes no move to restrain her. Kris weaves her way through seats and vaults nimbly to the stage. Lacking the patience to wait for attention, she shouts “Honored Lords!” and most fall silent. Many of the Velunians are startled by the sudden appearance of a drow on the stage, and whisper “Abomination” or “Pholtus preserve us” as they cross themselves. [9]

“Honored Lords,” Kristianna begins again. “I had not thought to speak to you. I am not one for fancy halls and formal speeches. But I have just seen something I cannot abide. I have seen the most valiant, honorable man of this assembly, the Crown Prince of Furyondy, driven from this hall by insults. Rather than spill the blood of this insolent lord (she sneers the word as she gestures to Rodrigo), our hope has retired, and has taken his wisdom and guidance with him.”

“It may be easy for you southern lords, used to safety and comfort, to treat these talks as entertainment, as a political game. But I say to you that it is not! This alliance is an alliance of necessity, for if we do not put aside our differences we will all be overrun. I have heard that some of you do not even believe that the Old One exists; you may think he is the invention of some superstitious orc shaman. But I know different. I have seen trolls calling forth mystic powers in the Old One’s name. I have spent the last four years fighting in the Vesve, killing gnolls and seeing my comrades killed by them, killing bugbears and seeing my comrades killed by them, and killing ogres and seeing my comrades killed by them. We are poor and we live in constant danger. You may mock my existence as crude and uncivilized, but you do so at your own peril. For what I live now will come to you! If you do not act now and take sword against this foe, it will be but a short time before you live as we do. His Royal Highness Prince Thrommel sees this. He is a man of vision, and he sacrifices much for you, whether you see it or not. It is time you ceased your games and acted as men. His Highness is more of a leader than many of you deserve - I can only pray that you become worthy of him.” And then, without a look behind her, Kris storms from the room.

Kris hears footsteps behind her as she leaves and a voice calling her name, but she does not deign to look back until she has left the hall and the doors have closed behind her. Then she turns to see if she is followed. A man emerges, still rushing to catch her. Kris recognizes him, though she does not know his name. She has seen him often in the company of Thrommel - he is a steward or chamberlain or some other highly-placed servant. She tries to relax as he approaches, to still the blood pounding in her ears so as to hear him.

When he reaches her, he bows deeply. Kris curtly returns the favor. “My Lord the Prince would have been heartened to hear your defense of him. I know it comes from your heart,” he begins. Kris nods. “Unfortunately, he did not stay that long. I have word from the stable that he has taken his steed and left. I fear that he has left too hastily, in a foul mood. It is good for no one if he is away too long. Heavens know what lies Rodrigo will spin in his absence. I pray you, Lady Knight, to accompany him. You need not steer him back here, but I am sure your presence will cheer him so that his return is sooner than it would otherwise be.”

Kris considers the request. There is little good she can do here - she has exhausted her eloquence, but has temper to spare. The Grand Master surely can handle anything in her absence. “I will see if he will have my company,” she says simply, and the man offers many thanks.

She goes first to her room to get her flying carpet, and then to the stables. The stable boy indicates that Thrommel left through the main gate, so that is where Kris goes next. His trail is easy to follow on the dirt road leading down to Verbobonc - it is the only shod horse track leading away from the palace, when all other traffic since daybreak has been arriving. She rides prone on the carpet, as if on her stomach in bed, with her head over the edge to follow the trail and the carpet scarcely a foot above the ground. It will hurt her neck to do this for long, but she judges that he is going at an easy canter, and she can catch him. Around a bend in the road Kris can see the path leading all the way down to Verbobonc City, on the river. Verbobonc is a beautiful city, by human standards, and Kris pauses to gaze upon it. Clean, orderly, with beautiful architecture inspired by the many races living harmoniously therein. Immediately outside the city wall are verdant fields, green with corn, gold with wheat, and silver with barley at this time of early summer. Kris tries to remember the last time she was here...was it when they sold the demon-banishing horn to the City Council? But no, that was another body, another lifetime.

Returning from her reverie to follow again the trail, she finds that it departs from the road and enters the grassy fields, headed west. Here the horse has slowed and the trail meanders as if Thrommel has given him free rein. Kris imagines the Prince lost in thought and not wishing to be interrupted, and she hesitates a moment. Still, his steward has probably served for years and should know the Prince’s mind. She accelerates the carpet as the huge warhorse has cut a swath through the grass that she could follow blindfolded. A few minutes later, over two hills and across a brook, and she has caught sight of him. Indeed, his reins hang limp and the horse walks of its own accord, while the Prince gazes at everything and nothing in particular. Kris slows and angles her flight so as to approach him from the side. The horse must have caught her scent, for it turns by itself to place her in front. Thrommel stiffens for a second, as one hand goes to his sword while the other shields his eyes from the sun. Then he recognizes her and his posture relaxes.

“Hail and well met, Lady Kristianna,” he says, with more than a hint of suspicion in his voice.

Kris glides to a halt in front of him, adjusting her altitude so that she rides slightly below him, in deference. “Hail, Royal Highness,” she says simply.

“What business brings you out in these fields? A delegate ought to be in the assembly,” he says, with a full note of irony in his voice.

“Indeed, Royal Highness.” Kris decides to venture a jest. “But I chanced to see the luncheon menu and found it too rich for my taste. I hope to catch a few coneys and return to the hall before anyone notices.” Thrommel smiles broadly, but the smile quickly passes. His eyes demand more. Kris continues contritely, “Your Royal Highness’ steward suggested that I might have the great honor of accompanying Your Royal Highness in Your Royal Highness’...excursion.”

“Ah, Jasper,” Thrommel sighs. “That man sees assassins behind every bush. He probably sent you out here to protect me from the hares and badgers. Oh well, now as you’re here, you might as well come with me.”

“Thank you, Royal Highness.”

“And enough of the Royal Highness, please. We are not in court, my Lady. You may call me Sir Thrommel.”

“As you wish, Sir Thrommel.”

They ride for a while in silence. Now that Kris has achieved the goal of finding the Prince, she feels her ire at his treatment in the hall returning. “My Lord,” she ventures, “I imagine that your oaths as a paladin forbid you from challenging so easy a mark as that scoundrel Rodrigo, but I am incensed. It would be a great honor and pleasure for me if I could challenge him in your stead.”

Thrommel laughs wryly. “No, that will not be required of you, though I thank you for the offer, my Lady. I must admit he vexes me, and I have no idea what to do about it. The situation would be much simpler were he not my brother.”

Kris’ carpet stops and she stares, dumbfounded, at the Prince. “Your brother?” she manages.

Thrommel’s laugh is heartier this time. “Why yes, my Lady, didn’t you know? You would do well to know your opponents before you speak so lightly of challenging them!” He pauses a moment, choosing his words. “Don Rodrigo’s mother was my father’s first wife, and the Queen of Furyondy for a time. When Rodrigo was but two, his mother was exiled for treason and he with her. He has grown up in Veluna as a nobleman with no lands, the son of a queen with no kingdom. I do not blame him for hating me, for I have the place that he considers rightfully his. It is in part for my father’s sake that I do not challenge him for his insults.”

“And the other part?”

“The Pholtusian Church does not admit divorce. While the Archcleric accepted the exile of Rodrigo’s mother, he refused to annul Belvor’s marriage to her. Thus, many in Veluna still consider his mother to be the rightful Queen of Furyondy. And, although I am older than he, many in Veluna consider Rodrigo the rightful heir to the throne of Furyondy.”

Kris ponders this. “Sir Thrommel, if I may be so bold, you are yourself a paladin of the Brilliant One.” [10]


“Do you consider yourself the rightful heir to the throne of Furyondy?”

“As a loyal follower of the Archcleric, I have to believe that Pholtus considers my father still married to Rodrigo’s mother. Thus, I am bound to treat him as a brother, to the best of my ability, and I suffer his attacks with as much patience as I can muster. But I believe it is the right of every king to choose his own successor. Belvor has chosen me, and I will not see Rodrigo quit me of that.”

They ride for a while more in silence. “My Lord,” Kris begins, “what did you mean when you said you would enter Dorakaa alone?”

“Excuse me? When did I say that?”

“At the end of your speech on the assembly floor. You said something about entering Dorakaa alone, without friends. I may have misheard, was barely a whisper.”

“Did I? I must have been rather worked up, for I do not recall saying that.”

They ride for a while, and Kris gets the feeling that Thrommel is assessing her, trying to decide if he can trust her. She knows that her Mind Blank helm prevents his paladin ability to sense good and evil, and figures that that must disturb him. Finally he reaches a decision. “Ten years ago I became a full Paladin. I spent the vigil before my investiture alone, locked in the Tower of Hope at the palace in New Chendyl. I prayed to Pholtus to give me the strength to face the Old One. I was young then, but I feared that I would be old before I would have a chance to face him directly. I was not terribly welcome in Veluna, and most of my father’s court worshipped Cuthbert. I felt that I needed more assistance if I was to confront the Old One in my lifetime. At the vespers bell I called out to Pholtus for an answer, I asked him whom I might find as an ally. He answered me with that phrase you heard... “When you enter Dorakaa, you will be alone, with neither friend nor ally beside you.” That phrase has haunted me ever since.”

After a few more minutes, Thrommel turns to Kris. “Now, my Lady, I have some questions of my own.”

“Yes, my Lord?”

“Lady Roweena tells me that the elves have been particularly non-committal about their participation in this summer’s plans ever since your Spring Convocation.” [11]

“Yes, Sir Thrommel. Some of those present were uncomfortable with some of the potential ramifications of an attack on Izlen.” Kris tries to keep her voice even. She has no wish to reveal to Thrommel her non-aggression pact with Iuz, and certainly not in the present situation. [12]

“Dame Kristianna, you were at the assembly. You saw how tenuous our position is with the Velunians. I cannot afford to have undue losses this summer. I need scouts, good scouts, and I need archers. If our men walk into an orcish ambush it will be the end of Velunese support and the end of any hope of taking Izlen.”

“My Lord, I know that.” Kris tries her most sincere tone. “The truth is, I wish I could tell you what is going on. But I cannot. In honesty, the Green Shafts will be scouting the land around Izlen. [13] They will make sure there is no enemy advance from the Vesve, but they will not leave the forest. Elves of the Vesve will not be participating in the action this summer. I humbly beseech your forgiveness for my silence.”

“And how am I to have my scouts?” the Prince queries, with real anger building in his voice.

“We are currently in negotiation with other elves from many lands...the Ule’ek, Celene, others. We have every hope of having foreign elven scouts for your Highness, for the Alliance.” Kris replies reassuringly. She prays there is no trace in her voice of the very real doubt she feels.

“Dame Kristianna, have I not entered into secret negotiation to get you Perrender troops for the defense of Quaalsten?”

“You have, my Lord.”

“And have I not allowed the people of the Timeless Tree to dissolve their formal relationship with Furyondy?”

“You have, my Lord.”

“And have I not, unbeknownst to any but my father, allowed the Green Shafts to become nearly autonomous, reporting only to Roweena about what they intend to do?”

“You have, my Lord.”

“Then by the Blinding Light, I had better have some scouts two months hence! I don’t care if you get them from Erilhi-Cinlu, I had blinding well better have them!”

Kris makes a precipitous decision. Here is a human man, truly risking everything that he has, for the elves. Screw the deal with Iuz. “My Lord, if we do not find foreign elves, the troops of my House will be proud to serve as your scouts. And in Corellon’s name, I will be leading them.”

Thrommel assesses her silently, his anger dissipated by her oath. Then he questions her cagily, “My Lady, you are a subject of the Crown, like it or not. You realize that I could turn around right now and order your Grand Master to have you tell me just what your precious elven secret is.”

Kris thinks she detects a hint of irony in his tone. “Actually, my Lord, you cannot do that. Only His Majesty has the power to give a direct order to my Grand Master.”

The Prince laughs. “You are right about that, my Lady. Good. Then you had better hope you have this situation resolved before I next see my father.”

“I do so hope, my Lord,” Kris smiles. As they crest the next hill, her attention is immediately drawn to the valley below. It is filled with tents and pavilions, and crowds of people and animals. She thinks at first that it is a military encampment, but sees no glint of armor, hears laughter in the place of ringing anvils. “What is that?” she asks.

“That, my Lady, is the Jingling Mordo Circus [14]. By all accounts, one of the best in the Flanaess. Jasper suggested that I pass the afternoon here to forget the taunts of my half-brother. Truth to tell, I had no heart for it and did not plan to go until you showed up. But now I find I would appreciate your company there. Let us pass lightly a few hours.”

Kris thinks it odd that his steward suggested he come here. Had not the man told her he did not know where the Prince was going? “My Lord, I have a bad feeling about this.”

Thrommel laughs again. “Why Dame Kristianna, from what I hear you have slain at least four dragons and have stood against a charge of twenty trolls. Are you scared of a few caged animals and some buffoons in grease paint? Let us go, now!”

The two of them ride down the long slope to the river bottom where the circus is. Outside the entrance, the Prince approaches a group of four soldiers in Furyondian Royal Livery. “Here now, Jasper has sent some of my men ahead for us.” He dismounts easily and hands his reins to one of the men, while the other three bow deeply. “Stay here, old friend,” he says to his mount, and then offers Kris his arm to dismount from her carpet. Kris accepts his gallantry and decides to leave her carpet with his men. One does not walk around a circus with the Crown Prince of Furyondy and a rolled-up carpet slung over one’s shoulder.

As Kris waits in the admission line with the Prince, she spots her old friend Carnail Bethel in line at the ticket wagon. [15]

Footnotes to Part I

NOTE: If you are a player in my campaign, you are NOT ALLOWED to read these footnotes.

[1] According to canon, Iuz was released from Castle Greyhawk in c. 570 CY. However, my campaign began in CY 560 and I wanted Iuz to be a major focus of the campaign. Thus, I moved the dates of his capture, release, and related things back by one century (captured CY 405, released, CY 470).

By CY 573 in my campaign Iuz has been “out” for quite some time. Immediately upon his release he was preoccupied with searching for his mother, ascending to godhood, and consolidating his hold on his shattered nation. After that, he invaded the Vevse. Thus, for my world in 573 CY, Iuz has been menacing Furyondy for a generation or so. This change in dates also allowed me to justify Iuz’s role in the construction of the Temple of Elemental Evil, a troublesome canon contradiction.

Those who use canon dates must resolve both Iuz’s participation and the construction of the Temple and how, less than three years after his release, he was able to capture and imprison Prince Thrommel.

[2] Although the map in Iuz the Evil makes Izlen look distant from the Dulsi, the text (p. 30) makes it clear that the site is guarding the ford. The Tower of Fear is my invention, and I may post a description of it later.

[3] Kristianna is one of the two focal PC’s in my campaign. She is a female elven ranger. The ranger part follows first edition rules with the exception that she is elven. She is a Knight of the Hart of the High Forest and holds the rank of House Mistress. She has dedicated her life to ridding the Vesve of the forces of Iuz. At the time these events took place, she was a 12th level.

[4] In my campaign, a Grand Master is the head of the Knights of the Hart of the High Forest. You can read more about him in my Canonfire articles on the History of the Knights of the Hart. He sponsored the induction of Kristianna into the Knights and serves as her mentor.

[5] At the time my campaign began (1987), there was no canon source for the religion of Hazan and Veluna, though it has subsequently become Rao. In my campaign, Veluna is run by the Pholtusian Church, in a manner similar to the Pale. Most of the common folk
of Furyondy follow Pholtus as well, though the nobles in the north and west favor Heironeous and the cityfolk everywhere St. Cuthbert.

[6] Duke Hubert and the Duchy of Morray are from my campaign, where I detailed Furyondy before the release of the Marklands. The closest canon analogy would likely be the Counties of Crystalreach or Kalinstren.

[7] In my campaign I use English names and titles in Furyondy and Spanish names and titles in Veluna. The long struggle between Furyondy and Veluna over whether the countries should unite or maintain their separation, and the struggle for power between Pholtusians vs. Cuthbertine and Heironeouns, is modeled after the similar struggle between England and Spain and Protestants and Catholics.

[8] Here Rodrigo is alluding to the fact that many elves assisted the people of the Quagflow in their rebellion against Velunese and Furyondian occupation. See my article on Canonfire on the History of the Knights of the Hart.

[9] The PC Kristianna began her life as Lorgan, a human male Perrender. Lorgan attained 11th level as a ranger and ruled a frontier Barony in the Sepia Uplands. Lorgan was charged with treason for using spies and other clandestine methods to involve Perrenland in the Alliance of Furyondy, Veluna, and the Shield Lands. He chose trial by combat, but lost his life to the Grand Voorman’s Champion. The party of PC’s took his body to a druid and had it reincarnated. I rolled “elf” on the standard random table and “female” and “drow” on my own subtables. This was just before the party entered the Vault of the Drow to undertake Q1, Queen of the Demonweb pits. The presence of a female drow in the party greatly aided them in the adventure, and we all took the random rolls to be a sign of favor from Corellon. After defeating Lloth, the female drow took the name of “Kristianna” and sought admission to the High Forest Knights of the Hart. Her status as a drow PC continues to shock and scare NPC’s.

[10] To my knowledge, there is no canon reference as to just which god Thrommel served as paladin. If Canon Hazan is a priest of Rao, then Thrommel is likely a follower of St. Cuthbert. In my campaign, he is a paladin of Pholtus.

[11] Roweena is Lady Marshal of the Vesve, as per her description in Isle of the Ape. In my campaign, the King of Furyondy appoints this position. The kings of Furyondy have considered themselves the rulers of Vesve since Ferrond made itself independent of the Great Kingdom. The elves have a different perspective. The Lord or Lady Marshal acts as a liaison, attempting to persuade the elves to follow the wishes of “their king”. The Spring Convocation is a meeting of elven nobility held yearly to discuss policy matters.

[12] From her first appearance as a Knight of the Hart, Kristianna won many victories against Iuz in the Vesve and killed hundreds of gnolls and dozens of trolls and ogres. Iuz offered her a slow, staged pull-out of all his forces from the Vesve in return for a pledge from all the elves of no further offensive actions. The elven nobles accepted this, but Kris cannot make the deal known to any non-humans because of political concerns. At the same time, Kris has been negotiating with Thrommel to secure more independence for the elves in return for less reliance on Furyondy troops for their defense. Kris’ ultimate goal is a Vesve free of both Iuz and Furyondy.

[13] In my campaign, the Green Shafts are a body of highly trained elven irregulars nominally in service to the Lord or Lady Marshal of the Vesve.

[14] This circus, the agent of the Prince’s capture, is taken from Dungeon No. 7.

[15] Carnail is the other focal PC of my campaign. She is a human female fighter from Perrenland, 13th level at this point. Carnail has the only Mirror of Mental Prowess known to exist in my campaign. Among other things, she uses it to run a delivery service for people willing to pay high fees for the instant, guaranteed delivery of things like magic items. On the day in question she was contracted to deliver rare perishable spell components to Max Mordo, the circus owner, who then suggested she explore the circus. After the Prince’s disappearance, described in Part II, Kris and Carnail come to realize that they were both set up to be near the Prince when he was captured, so as to implicate them in the act by whomever is really behind it.

The Abduction of Thrommel - We were there! Part II: The Circus

This article comes from Canonfire!

The URL for this story is: