The Abduction of Thrommel - Part V: A Summons From the King
Date: Thu, February 10, 2005
Topic: Stories & Fiction
In this episode, Carnail and Kris travel to Chendyl, where they meet the other heroes who will be undertaking the mission to Dorakaa in search of the missing prince. They are briefed by King Belvor and his wizard Karzalin, and begin their journey to Iuz.
The Abduction of Thrommel – We were there! Part V: A Summons From the King
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
WARNING: This episode contains SPOILERS from WGR6 The City of Skulls (1)
Szeka Carnail Bethel - fighter, human female from Perrenland
Dame Lady Kristianna - ranger, drow female Elven Knight of the Hart
22 Wealsun 573
Carnail waits in Teela’s tower. The morning drags on and she becomes anxious, fearful that Kris’ training has been delayed. Finally Kris appears.
“Can we go now?” Carnail asks rhetorically, and then conjures up a picture of New Chendyl in the mirror. After choosing an emergence point that will not be noticed, they step through the mirror into the city. The two women walk to the Royal Palace. They have never been to the palace, but the straight, wide streets and elegant, planned design of Chendyl make it easy to find. After they announce themselves, they are rapidly ushered in and taken to a small, belowground conference chamber to await “a personal audience with the King.” Also there are a number of other heroes, some known to them, some not.
The first one to greet them is Rowena Silverbrow, a stunning auburn-haired beauty, a human ranger, and Furyondy’s Lady Marshall of the Vesve (2). Carnail had noticed her at the Summer Alliance Conference she went to last year, but they have never met. Kris knows her well as they often work together in the Vevse, and introduces her to Carnail.
The next one who greets them is a human man. He introduces himself as Kendrel Hammend, a Furyondian, and a priest of Trithereon The Summoner (3). He says that his under priests have told him of the kindness of the Liberators (as Kris calls the members of her house of the Knights of the Hart), and how they protected a group of Tritherite pilgrims making their way through the Knight Tracts of Furyondy (4). He says it is an honor to meet Kris, and that he looks forward to working with her. He says that he has heard many stories about Carnail, and that anyone who can irritate the Pholtuns so much must be a pretty decent type. He is glad to have her with them as well.
Third is a human illusionist named Carlenna Pentrast (3). She is also Furyondian. Her introduction is respectful, but short. She doesn’t seem interested in making friends, just in getting on to the task at hand. By now it is obvious to Kris and Carnail that the other heroes here know that they have been summoned to undertake an important mission for the King, but they have no idea what it is.
Fourth is a half-elven woman. By her own account she is a Druid-Mage, though she does not mention whom her divine patron is. She seems friendly enough, but is rather concerned about the mission, and seems worried. She calls herself Lerrell Shaerless (3).
The final hero present is a male gray elf. He fails to introduce himself, to either Kris or Carnail, but just nods his head in their direction as a minimal sign of respect. Kris has seen him at various Vesve Spring Convocations (where the important elven political leaders hold discussions), but they have never spoken. Rowena whispers to Kris that his name is Kirshar Endorell (3). He makes no attempt to interact with either Kris or Carnail (5).
After all the heroes assembled have had the chance to speak briefly to one another, two Royal Guardsmen come into the chamber. “Kneel before the King,” they command, and they hear the echo of approaching footsteps.
Those present, the two guards included, drop to one knee and bow their heads. A lone man strides into the chamber - His Pious Majesty, King Belvor IV. The room instantly fills with his presence. He is a commanding figure, this man, the monarch of the largest country in the western Flanaess and reputedly a high level paladin of St. Cuthbert (6). For a second he surveys the room, and then orders his guards to leave. They stand, bow, and retreat. After their footsteps have faded in the distance, he speaks to the heroes. “Arise. Arise and look upon us, for each of you is fit to stand before a king.”
As the heroes stand, the king looks them deeply in the eyes and nods regally, starting with Rowena. She bows deeply, and the rest of the assemblage follows her lead. King Belvor is a tall, muscular man in his early fifties. Only his worn face attests to his age as the rest of his body is in prime fighting trim. He wastes no time in his speaking.
“Worthies, you are doubtless in wonder of why we have summoned you here. The truth is, we must needs ask of your help. We have a mission to be performed, and only ones such as yourselves can do it. There is a great feat to be accomplished, and the fate of our nation hangs in the balance.”
“You should know, what we are about to tell you is in the strictest confidence. So much so that, regrettably, we cannot accept your word on the matter. If at any point you decide to refuse our request, you may leave - but you will not be allowed to retain any memory of this encounter. It will be easier to do this sooner, as you will know less.”
As if in response to his words, a robed man enters the room from the other doorway, the same one the heroes came in. His face is saturnine and quiet, with dark hair and flame colored robes. The King pauses, but no one expresses their intention of leaving. He then continues speaking.
“Doubtless you know of the disappearance of High Steward Jasper and his replacement by a doppelganger. Some of you were even at the Conference when it happened. You know as well that our son, Prince Thrommel, has removed himself from the public eye until we can ascertain whether there have been any more such replacements.” (7)
The heroes nod their agreement, although Kris and Carnail exchange sidelong glances, for they know the king is not being truthful.
“That is the official story, and to state anything but that in public is treason, by our own edict. But you are in a private audience with us. The truth is that Prince Thrommel has disappeared, and we do not know where he is. We fear for his safety, and we fear for our kingdom.”
The heroes look surprised and alarmed, especially Rowena. Although largely independent, technically she owes fealty to the prince. Kris and Carnail wonder if they are supposed to feign looks of surprise as well. It seems as though the king is covering for them, and may not mention their role in the disappearance of the prince. If they are going to work with these people, it is better that the others don’t know of their involvement. If they suspect the two women in Thrommel’s abduction, the obvious conclusion is that the group is being led into a trap in Dorakaa.
“We have no certain knowledge of who has taken the Prince, or why, or where he is. Divinations on the subject are confused.” The King nods at the robed man. “The most obvious suspect is the Old One, and some circumstantial evidence points this way. We are told that some of the magic surrounding Thrommel’s disappearance was Chaotic Evil.” The robed man nods his assent, and his eyes lock briefly with Carnail and Kris, then look away. (7)
“We do not know where our son is. But we will do everything in our power to find him. That includes sending a group of heroes to the accursed city of Dorakaa to look for him.”
At this, there are gasps from the heroes. Carnail and Kris are more prepared to feign surprise this time. “That is the reason we have asked you here. That is the mission we contemplate. If you do not accept, please say so now and you will know no more.”
There is a long pause, and several of the heroes seem conflicted, but in the end all remain. The king finally introduces the robed man. “This is Master Karzalin, our Court Wizard. He will outline the plan.”
Karzalin takes a second pointed at each of the seven heroes present. His gaze is considerably more critical than that of the king. “It is an assumption that the Old One has taken His Royal Highness the Prince, and an assumption that he is in Dorakaa. We have no hard evidence to justify either assumption. However, the mere possibility makes this mission necessary.”
“If His Royal Highness is in Dorakaa, there are only two places secure enough to hold him. The Palace of the Old One, and the City Dungeons.”
“And the Grand Cathedral?” interjects the gray elf Kirshar.
Karzalin frowns at the interruption. “The cathedral is imposing. Steeped in evil. But it is a church, not a prison. Entry and exit would be easy - not the kind of place to hold prisoners,” he concludes irately. Then, with a tone that brooks no further interruptions, he continues.
“If His Royal Highness is in the Palace, we have no hope. You would not get him out and, most likely, you would join him in captivity. If he is in the Prison, however, there is a chance. A small, powerful, and magically equipped party should be able to penetrate the prison and at least bring back a record of his presence. That is your task; find him, find word of him, or find proof that he is not there.”
“If he is there, he is well hidden and protected. As His Pious Majesty has said, divination has been unsuccessful in locating the Prince. We have tried. You will be searching cell by cell.”
“As far as arriving at the city, teleportation and planar travel would be obvious methods of entering Dorakaa without the tedious and dangerous alternative of attempting cross-country travel. Unfortunately, it appears that the structures of the planar nexuses close to Dorakaa are unpredictable. We know that the Old One has a gate to the Abyss within his city, and the operation of that gate appears to distort planar structures within ten leagues of the area.”
“Thus, in order to reach Dorakaa, we suggest that you plane shift to a location some twenty miles distant and then reach the city under cover of darkness by overland travel. That will mean some forced marching, of course. In order to accomplish this, plane shift scrolls and potions of vitality will be among the items we will equip you with for this mission. When returning from Dorakaa, you will need to make some distance way from the city before risking a plane shift spell for escape purposes. Once you are a safe distance away, in any direction, you can flee by means of the scroll.”
The wizard advances to the table in the center of the chamber and draws forth a bag from his robes. He opens the bag and pours its contents on to the table. Scrolls and potions come out by the dozen, along with a staff, several packets of magical dust, and other such items. He metes them out to the seven heroes, naming each item in turn. Carnail and Kris each receive two potions of healing, two potions of extra-healing, and a potion of vitality, potion of flying, potion of invisibility, potion of super-heroism, potion of fire giant strength, and a potion of invisibility. Carnail also takes a rope of entanglement and Kris takes three packets of dust of disappearance.
The priest Kendrel receives five separate scrolls, each with a plane shift spell. Karzalin also gives him detailed maps of the terrain around Dorakaa, and together the two plan from where the party will be coming in. Karzalin indicates a little shack town on the shore of the Whyestil. According to the wizard, it has some wharves for ships to dock. It also, supposedly, has a sewer outlet that drains Dorakaa itself! Finally, the wizard produces a scrap of parchment with a series of interconnected lines. He claims it is a map of the sewer system beneath the city, and could be used to follow the outlet at the wharves all the way inside the city to the same block on which the City Prison sits. He says the map is a copy, and the original is several centuries old - made by an Elven Hart Knight, a shadow-warrior in the days when the Old One had vanished (8). Given that public works were not the Old One’s top priority after his return, it is possible that the map is still accurate.
Karzalin impresses upon the group the need for two key tactical elements: speed and deception. They will not have time to rest - they must make one long foray into and out of the city. The Old One’s servants are chaotic enough that they have few planned defenses, but if they are given the time to gather, they will be overwhelming in power and number. Disguise is essential to keep the defenders from knowing what is actually going on - it will give the party more time.
When Karzalin has explained all that he chooses to, and has answered a few spare questions, the assembled heroes all kneel and swear an oath before the king to do their utmost in the rescue attempt. Then Belvor leaves, and Karzalin conducts them, by way of a secret passage, to the rooms they will be using for the night. They will have a single night to rest and plan, and the next morning to pray for spells. The initial plane shift will take place on the morrow’s afternoon.
Carnail spends her time in meditation and weapons practice. There is little else she can do.
Besides studying and praying for spells, Kris is occupied with trying to disguise herself. She does not wish to be recognized while in Dorakaa, as this would certainly affect her secret non-aggression pact with Iuz. Instead of her usual “two-sword” style, she decides to take a single sword and her spiked buckler. This is a common style among drow, and less distinguishing. Her holy medallion of Corellon she can wear inside her clothes - she thinks he would agree with not displaying his symbol openly in Dorakaa. Her chain armor is typical of drow, so she will retain it. She asks Karzalin for a new set of clothes - boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak. He returns later with some black and silver garments - obviously taken from some fallen drow warrior - and tells her not to expose them to the sun.
The only conundrum is her mind blank hood. Teela made this for her, from the head of a stag. While the skull itself has been removed, the long pieces of neck skin act as a sort of leather aventail, but atop her head is a full rack of antlers. Teela actually made two hoods, one for Kris and one for Carnail. Carnail’s is made from a doe’s head and looks like a simple leather hood. Kris was proud to receive the antlered hood as a symbol of her Knightly Order, but she knows that there are few elves who wear anything like it. Wearing it would offer her great protection, but probably make her instantly recognizable. If she does not wear it, she leaves herself open to divination, scrying, ESP, and so forth. In the end, she decides to forsake its protection. There is no way she can disguise it from sight, and without it she is less likely to be recognized. Among the party, it is possible that only Carnail has similar protection. Since everyone in the group knows who she is, her identity could be revealed if any of them have their thoughts read, even if she had the hood on herself.
Wealsun is high summer, and sunset comes late in Chendyl, and later still north of the Whyestil. It is afternoon when the seven heroes, plus Karzalin, gather in a palace garden. The goal is to reach the lands of Iuz just as it is getting dark, so that they can travel through the night. Karzalin has estimated that if they leave now, using the plane shift scroll to enter the Ethereal Plane, they can travel towards Dorakaa and arrive just before sunset. The priest Kendrel has them join hands in a circle. Everyone faces inward except the priest, who faces out to guide them. The two heroes flanking him actually grab his long tunic sleeves so that his hands are free to read the plane shift scroll.
As the priest finishes the last lines of the scroll, Carnail and Kris feel a bodily jolt and queasiness in their stomachs. It is like using the rings of recall, but more pronounced. The world around them fades. The vague outlines of objects remain, but their color has drained away. A billowing fog obscures distant objects: there is no sunlight or shadow in view. There is no color and little contrast; everything is in dull tones of gray. All the sounds of the bustling palace have faded away, and there is the muffled quiet of a windless snowfall.
Kendrel shouts, and they hear his faint voice as if from far away. “We are in the Border Ethereal. We must stay together! If someone gets separated, we will soon lose them. You could even wander into the Deep Ethereal, from which it might be impossible to find you.” Then the priest begins walking, as if uphill. No surface, no land, supports his feet, yet they climb high into the colorless sky and the blurred outlines of the palace and Chendyl shrink beneath them. The party members keep a firm grip on each other’s hands, and on the priest’s sleeves, and follow as he leads. Soon there are not even vague outlines, and they travel through a featureless gray void. When Kris and Carnail get distracted, they find themselves twisting, turning at odd angles to the others, as if there were no “down”. It is only by focusing on the priest that they can maintain their common orientation.
They walk for what could be hours, or even days. There is no sense of time in this dismal gray landscape. They neither tire, nor hunger, nor thirst. The biggest challenge in this non-world is to stay focused; to not lose concentration and drift off in the midst of such deprived sensory input.
After walking on and on without opposition, they gradually begin to be aware of a change in the terrain. The “ground” becomes more slippery...it slides away beneath their feet. They can’t fall, but the individual twisting of each person increases and threatens to rip apart their joined hands. Further on, the effect continues but with occasional waves of force coming from the direction to which they travel. These “shock waves” could also dislodge their hands from one another. Finally, as these two effects become so pronounced as to slow their movement, they see color. Ahead of them, who knows how far, is a tiny spot of red light. As they approach, it pulses. Several seconds later, a wave of force like the wave of an ocean hits them, causing the female illusionist Carlenna to collapse. She loses her grip on her two flankers, but they manage to grab her robes before she is swept away.
Kendrel shouts, “That red patch is Dorakaa. This is as close as we can get. Prepare yourselves!” He removes a scroll from a tube and begins reading another plane shift spell. The runes on the scroll seem to glow, which may be how the priest is able to read them in this dull world without contrasts. This scroll will return them from the Border Ethereal to their world, they hope. Then Kendrel will have three scrolls left; two to come back the same way and one for emergencies and accidents.
As Kendrel reads, the world around them becomes clearer, more focused. It seems they will be appearing in an open field in the lands of Iuz, atop a down that looks out over the Whyestil Lake.
Warning: If you are a player in my campaign, you are not allowed to read these notes.
1. The City of Skulls details the attempted rescue of an important prisoner from a prison in Dorakaa. I used it nearly intact, aside from setting it much earlier (in 573 CY) and making the identity of the prisoner that of Prince Thrommel. My extensive quotes from the module are not intended to challenge copyright.
2. Stats and campaign info for Rowena can be found in WG6, Isle of the Ape, pg. 27, 28. Despite her level and importance, this seems to be her only appearance in canon (for example, it is her only listing in Zavoda’s Encyclopedia Greyhawkania). By the time of The Marklands, there was a different Lord Marshall of the Vesve, and we are left to wonder what has become of Rowena. Isle of the Ape lists her as a 16th level ranger, but I made her 14th to reflect the fact that this adventure is set earlier in time. She is an important NPC in my campaign and has had many interactions, both official and personal, with Kristianna, including a failed attempt at romance.
3. The other heroes are all taken from The City of Skulls. They are:
Kendrel Hammend, Pr 11, Trithereon
Carlenna Pentrast, Wiz (Ill) 12
Lerrell Shaerless, Dr / Ma 8/8, Obad-hai
Kirshar Endorell, Fi / Ma 8/8
4. The Knight Tracts is a region in my campaign, in the northwest of Furyondy, on the border of the Vesve. They are the exclusive province of the Furyondian Knights of the Hart. The publication of The Marklands made my conception canon-heretical. A description of the Knight Tracts used to be available at Kent Matthewson’s Codex of Greyhawk Web site, but as far as I know there is nowhere it is currently available on the Internet. A small quote from it is incorporated in another campaign’s adventure log at:
If you are interested, let me know that you want to see me post it on Canonfire!
5. As a gray elf, Kirshar has an intense hatred of drow. The only reason he suffers to be in a party with Kris is because she is a known and respected Knight of the Hart. But he refuses to speak to her, or have any dealings beyond those strictly necessary.
6. Canon indicates that King Belvor is a paladin of Heironeous (The Marklands, pg. 38). In my campaign, he follows St. Cuthbert.
7. See Part III of this series, The Chase.
8. In my campaign the dates for the imprisonment and release of Iuz are set about a century earlier than canon. The “shadow-warriors” were elves that used disguise to gather information and influence events after the imprisonment of Iuz. They will be referenced in Part 4 of my History of the Knights of the Hart series, whenever I get around to writing and posting that. Parts 1 to 3 are available on Canonfire!, but do not describe the shadow warriors.