Session Report: January 10, 359

Vakharim Arias

From the Journal of Vakharim Arias, Eaglet of Aerdrie Faenya.

Mission: Send Yeenoghu back to the Abyss.

Maethor left my mother when she was pregnant with me, in order to prevent Yeenoghu from returning to our realm. 17 years later, Yeenoghu’s demons invaded the Aerie of the Snow Eagle, killing many of my friends, almost killing me, and ousting me from my home. When I escaped to Alquandola, I learned that Maethor had died in the Abyss at the hands of Yeenoghu’s forces, robbing me of any chance to meet him in this life. I was having a hard time not taking this mission personally.

I received a Whispering Wind on January 10, telling me that Kilur and I should travel to Pendant Estate. We answered this call, with Kilur generously paying my fare. We arrived, and the group began to prepare. Serapias Turbith was ingested, plans were devised, and rallying speeches were made. I traveled to Sir Hopa, and asked Maethor’s family if I could borrow his pendant. My lack of one was a liability during the Battle of the Muckery, and could have gotten Leandro killed. Maethor’s family obliged, and loaned me a few other items to help me get revenge against the monster that had taken his life.

When I returned, we began to make divinations. We learned that the Albino would not be at the Pit on the night of the next new moon, and that the Flesheater would not be at the Pit on the next Gnoll Holy Day.

I performed a divination of my own. I saw an albino gnoll named Barghu. He had charms and runes of defeated enemies, was clad in brown, feces-stained robes, and had a massive bastard sword strapped to his back. He coughed chunks of his own lungs out, but it did not seem to bother him. He could not feel pain. Barghu was not the first Exarch, and when he died, another would be transformed into the new Albino Exarch (known as the “White Knight” to the Gnolls). We hoped that we could defeat Yeenoghu before this happened. If not, we speculated that the new Albino would be weakened without Barghu’s charms and weapons. A magical circle was made to strengthen the power of the wizards, and we went to bed in anticipation of the tough fight ahead.

On the morning of the 15th, we called for a Navigator. He took Agmundr to the Gnoll settlement of Yilin, which was close to the salt flats where we had located the Exarch. Agmundr arrived at an Alkali temperate swamp, known as a muskeg. He saw shanties overtop the surface of the swamp, and cave entrances guarded by ogres. He used his pendant to return to us before he was seen, and we all teleported back. From there, Haruhisa used an air tunnel to get us closer to the Exarch’s location. Xochi attempted to use a divination to find the Exarch. After first failing to do so, and then accidentally casting a spell of Honesty on the Exarch, she finally divined his location: 70 miles South of where we were. Haruhisa teleported us near the area, but was unable to make it exactly, as he was not drawn to the Exarch personally. We were just over three miles away.

We didn’t have to slog too long before the Exarch found us. Xochi’s locate helped us, but we were unable to act before the Exarch unleashed upon us.

Uzo’s contingencies protected us from the initial assault, and Olias managed to reverse several of the Albino’s prayers back onto him. Negation rays destroyed our healing, three Chasme were summoned, and wounds opened up under our armour.

Our bard sounded a rallying call on his horn, and we all rose to our feet. This advantage was short-lived, as the elite Gnoll warriors (known as “Claws”) smashed into our line.

The battle was brutal. Chasme buried their proboscises into the chests of Haruhisa and Rarghsha, while the Claws easily fought off our assault. Blinking behind him, Xochi brought the Exarch to the ground, and a contingency cast under the magical circle prevented him from escaping. Victory looked within our grasp, until a Claw swung his arm blade and cut off Uzo’s head.

The Party looked on in horror. The Gnoll grinned, his smile fading as Kilur beheaded him. We fought on.

Angered by the death of our comrade, Leandro unleashed his own attack upon the Exarch, and attempted to turn the Albino’s bones to dust. The Albino, laughing, mocked Leandro by holding up his runes of protection that prevented him from being killed by prayers of death.

His cockiness turned to fear when he realized that his runes didn’t protect him from magic.

His body collapsed in on itself as he died. Bolstered by Leandro’s success, the Party began to turn the tide of battle. Chasme were banished and two more Gnolls were killed by Rarghsha and Dernaan. We had all but won.

In desperation, a Claw swung his armblade at Agmundr. The blade hit the Albornian in the neck, cutting through his runes of protection. Agmundr fell to the ground, beheaded.

Xochi and Olias immediately avenged the Albornian, slaying the Gnoll, while Leandro banished the last Claw. Olias cast a spell preventing anyone from teleporting to our location, and we went to save Uzo and Agmundr.

We took a Golden Fleece from the Herb Bag and placed it on Uzo. It attached his head and raised him from the dead. Uzo seemed to flinch every time he heard a noise, and was breathing heavily. We realized that he was suffering from a sort of panic or anxiety disorder. We had no time to deal with it, as we still had a fallen comrade.

Leandro asked one of his saints to raise Agmundr. The saint, upon realizing that Agmundr was a descendant of the Lady of the Snowmist, refused to help, and left. We had other options, but as we were about to try again, we remembered; Agmundr could not be raised from the dead. On a previous campaign, a collection of gods had saved several party members. Those party members could not be raised. We could not save our friend. Rarghsha called for his ancestors to help the Albornian, but they could not hear his answer. With heavy hearts, we returned to Pendant Estate.

The wake for Agmundr showed how much he had touched our lives. The man was inspiring, powerful, and a great friend to all. He was the first into battle, and you could see the fear in his enemies’ eyes when they saw him. He will be sorely missed. In Agmundr’s honour, we sacrificed the items that we had taken from the Albino and his Claws.

After the wake, a collection of Party members, led by Agmundr’s half-brother Magnus Audonson, teleported to Albornia with Agmundr’s remains. They were met by the Lady of the Snowmist, and a teenage boy who traveled behind her. After Magnus had relayed the details of Agmundr’s death to the Lady, she ordered the boy to represent her and Albornia in the Party. The boy seemed eager, and commented on the great items that he was inheriting. Magnus, grieving from the death of his brother and angered by his nephew’s comments, went to hit him. As soon as he raised his arm, however, the boy punched him in the side of the head, knocking him unconscious.

Impressed with the boy’s prowess in battle, the Party asked him his name.

“Aerik,” the boy said. “Aerik Agmundrson.”

Session Report: January 8, 359

Uzochokwe Chigozie Aboado

Location: Yeenoghu’s Realm
Dates: January 8th, 359 SF
Members Present: Callimor, Dernaan, Haruhisa, Laegrim, Magnus, Olias, Uzo, Vang, Zaos
Mission: Hunt for the Exarch

The Legend of Uzochokwe Chigozie Aboado

“Yeenoghu had sworn to make the Gnoll Lands great. But now the Wall was down. The Realm was vulnerable to a flood of immigrants from all over the world. The infamous Party of Pendant had arrived.”

“We were joined in the field by the elf prince Zaos and his sidekick Vang, the quarter-human. Uzo had though we had been a bit short on the elf front, and this restored much needed balance. The Wall had prevented one of our favorite tactics, Scry-and-Die. The process is simple, pick your target, scry where they are, teleport directly on top of them, and unleash hell. We decided that we would target one of Yeenoghu’s generals, and selected the albino gnoll known as the Exarch. There was some discussion as to the identity of the Exarch, as an albino gnoll shaman named Nezrebe had been slain twenty years earlier when the Veterans had interrupted Yeenoghu’s summoning ritual.”

“Olias sought clarity and sang of the Tapestries of Time. We were granted access to the Halls of Mandos, where the Tapestries woven by Vaire were safekept. The tapestries we viewed were of the foulest nature. Death, disease, rape, cannibalism, filth of all kinds. At the centre of each tapestry was an enormous albino gnoll. But it was clear that it was not the same gnoll in each tapestry, the face and body changed as the years rolled past. Three things remained constant: the gnoll was always albino (although often so stained and dirty as to be hard to tell), was clearly suffering from some kind of disease of the lungs, and always bore a great and terrible yellow sword – the name “Barghu” stayed with us. We speculated that the Exarch was not a single individual, but a position to which different gnolls were elevated as needed. The price of that high standing looked terrible indeed, Uzo can only assume that the power and status gained was sufficient recompense.”

“Conducting a successful scry-and-die is a beautiful thing. To the on the receiving end it less than ideal. The Exarch must have been alerted to our divination on him, and kindly saved us the trouble of locating him, by coming to us. Waves of negation, mass paralysis and mass deaths, and spell drainers rained down upon us. The exarch appeared in a cloud of flies, accompanied by a gnollish general and a spectral gnoll shaman. Five elite gnollish warriors, known as blades engaged us, while eleven gnollish archers of unusual size peppered us with arrows.”

“We were thrown onto our back foot, many party members dying, paralyzed or both. A colossal egg appeared and started to hatch. Those that could fought valiantly, but we were being overwhelmed. In desperation, the party fell back to the cave. There we located Agmundr, Leandro, Rargsha and Ziljian. It was good to see the big Viking, but there was no time for greetings. A door was opened back to the battlefield. Uzo charged through. Unfortunately, only one party member could pass through the door at a time. This led to a few tense moments until someone was able to do a mass teleport and bring everyone through at once. Reinforced, we took the fight to the Exarch. He was forced to teleport out with the gnollish general and the leader of the Blades. The rest of the gnolls and the newly-hatched ghouls were left to fight. Without supernatural aid, and with the party reinforced, they could not stand against us and were destroyed. The forearm blades of the Blades, from which they drew their name, were unusable to party members, but were of the highest quality. Several party members acquired the blades and planned to augment their personal weapons with them.”

“It was abundantly clear to us, based both on our encounter with the Exarch and Yeenoghu, that we were trespassers in this land. While we are capable of taking the fight to the enemy, while we were in the Realm, they were just as capable as bring the fight to us. We would have to be on constant guard.”

Session Report: January 8, 359

Rarghsha Rawk

Date: January 8, 359 S.F.

Members Present: Vakharim, Ziljian, Leandro, Rarghsha, Xochi, Kilur, Agmundr

Campaign: Banish Yeenoghu

Mission: “Fuckery in the Muckery”: Take down the Wall

Location: Yeenoghu’s Realm, Eastern Burned Lands

(Report # 3/13)

The appearance of Yeenoghu had shocked most of us, the brazenness of his direct intervention a novelty from a demon lord. With the large group we had assembled, certain party leaders (primarily Haruhisa, Callimor, and Magnus) indicated that we should split into two groups. So Vakharim, Leandro, Ziljian, Xochi, and I returned to the Cave on the morning of January 8, after enduring a restless night of lethal nightmares.
We waited for news from the other group as to what they were doing and what we ought to do in turn. While we waited, Kilur and Agmundr appeared, having heard of the gathering and eager to contribute. They were a most welcome addition to our small group.

A few hours later, Leandro received a whispering wind from Olias. Olias indicated that thanks to Callimor’s prayer to the Fates, they had learned some information about the Wall and how to take it down. There were two very holy sites of the gnolls, one called “the Pit” and the other called “the Muckery”. Although 2400 focus days had been put into the Wall by gnollish shamans, their devotion reinforced by the countless sacrifice of innocents, the Wall had a weakness. A single negation ray at each holy site would take it down. The other group indicated that they were going after the Pit, and suggested we should head for the Muckery. Their information indicated that the Muckery lay south of a gnoll city called Yeentar, which was somewhere along the northern coast of the gnoll lands.

We consulted the maps we had available in the Cave, but found no city marked on the north coast. We were somewhat at a loss on how to proceed until Haroch, who was nearby, let out a long low rumble, which eventually made sense as a word: “Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavigator”.

We considered the task before us and began brainstorming how we could accomplish our mission. We quickly realized that the other group had taken both the central pendant and the herb bag. The 7 of us were on our own, and we would not be receiving reinforcements once we began. Looking around, I became quite concerned with our healing situation. Agmundr generously offered up 150 000 cp for herbal healing, and I teleported to the Roman healing gardens while Leandro and Xochi circled up.
It was evening when I arrived at the Forum, and I gathered up the lifekeeping and some other consumable healing they had. Several useful herbs were unavailable, and the vendor indicated that an elf with white hair and a 2-handed sword had already been by. I’d missed Olias by mere hours.

Returning to the Cave via pendant, I found the magic users just about ready. A plan formed. We would see whether the navigator knew where Yeentar was, and if he did, we would teleport directly there. An odd rush of adrenaline filled me as I looked at the faces around me, and the hot head mentality took over full force.

I laid out the bold proposal. The other group had left us with little guidance, but we would not be deterred. We would teleport to Yeentar and call a bird to tell us where the Muckery was. Local wildlife would surely know of the Muckery, as the huge number of sacrifices the gnolls had made would have drawn carrion seekers for hundreds of miles around. We would fly to the Muckery and make a hit on it before the gnolls knew what was happening. With the element of surprise on our side, striking far up north while the other group slogged near Alvborg to the south, we would negate whatever looked like the main altar at the gnollish holy site. Our plan was to be back in the Cave slamming back beer before the other group could even get to their target!

The boldness of the plan energized our group. Young Vakharim agreed to the plan eagerly, exclaiming that this was the most Hot Head plan he’d ever been party to. We were ready.

With preparations complete, Leandro sent a whispering wind to a navigator, who appeared before us moments later: a pinkish bipedal creature with a curiously deformed head, surrounded by an odd clear shield and a swirl of spice mélange. He indicated that the gnolls did not have cities, only settlements, but that such a one known as Yeentar did indeed exist on the north coast. Kilur generously provided the navigator the required 40 000 cp, and Agmundr was teleported to the location. After getting his bearings, he immediately returned to us via pendant, and then teleported us all back.

We found ourselves on a rocky coastline, seagulls swirling in the air above us. Coastal cliffs towered off to the south-east, pockmarked with cave entrances. We estimated that some 1000 gnolls called this area home. Below the cliffs, a crude wharf system had been erected, whaling boats tied up.

Since we were so far to the north, the sunlight was still apparent, though it was later into the night. The others ducked down while I called out to the seagulls swirling overhead. They quickly began congregating on me, asking for food, food, food, food? It quickly became apparent that no information would be forthcoming from these animals.
Worried that the swarming seagulls would attract attention, we were quick to push off, avoiding the settled area as we headed south. When we were a safe distance away, we tried calling a bird again, this time a wiser creature: the raven. No ravens answered my call, but one alighted nearby in response to the winged shaman of Aerdrie. The raven solemnly told us that the gnolls would kill us if they caught us. He also indicated that the gnolls’ nearby killing grounds were well known to the carrion-eaters of the region, and that it lay some 60 miles to the south west, in some hills. The raven assured us we would smell the foul place before we saw it.

With this new knowledge, Leandro and I were able to pinpoint with relative confidence where Yeentar was on our map. Our mission was clearer than ever. Vakharim turned 6 of us into ravens, while Xochi made herself invisible and able to fly. We would strike the Muckery after a 3 hour flight.

The stench of the Muckery assailed our senses as we flew into the hills. It was quickly forgotten, however, as we got a visual on the gnollish holy site.

Huge clouds of flies buzzed in the air above the Muckery. Heaps of skulls and bones lay scattered about, the remains of thousands of sacrifices. Dozens of heads on pikes decorated the hillsides. Off to the side, a bone-encrusted cave entrance gaped wide. A shit pool with strange markings on the surrounding rocks lay to another side. But the main feature of the site was a large pyramidal structure in the center, upon which rested an altar with a bound female sacrifice, attended to by 3 elite gnoll holy warriors.
We observed the area for a few minutes, noting that the gnolls wandered about the holy site, an obvious pilgrimage destination. Two chasme were present, sitting at two different cooking fires with some gnolls, talking about matters that I quailed even to think about. A closer examination of the cooking fires revealed that humans were the evening’s dish, spun slowly on roasting spits. Some of the spitted humans had been beheaded. Others had not…  Most of the bodies we could see, those that still had recognizable features at least, seemed Danish, though some Slavic bodies were also in evidence. The conquest of Daneland had been gruesome.

A plan of attack quickly formed. We would land on one side of the holy site, ready to jump into motion once Leandro rockblasted the bone cave. We would take down the visible gnolls as quickly as possible, and those with negations would target the foul altar. Once that was done, Vakharim would take us back to the Cave with a teleport. With a surge of adrenaline, we launched into action, flying down through the clouds of flies that surrounded the loathsome site.

Leandro’s rock blast levelled the bone cave, and Xochi and I immediately jumped into one of the chasmes, knocking it to the ground. Ziljian assassinated several gnolls, and Kilur and Agmundr landed in front of others, only to have Leandro banish them before they could swing at them. The gnolls in the area stood stunned, looking about to determine the cause of the commotion. We continued with our momentum, banishing the chasme and killing more gnolls. Leandro let a poisonous cloud go at the central altar on the pyramid, killing several of the elite gnoll holy warriors. Some half-hearted shots came our way from some gnoll archers that had managed to rally, but they all flew wide. We had certainly taken the site by surprise.

Working with efficient purpose, most of the visible gnolls were taken out. I blinked to the top of the altar and sent a negation ray into the blood-stained stone, seeking to take out the Wall’s power source. While doing so, gnollish powers began to make an appearance on the field. Swirling green mists of “Ancestor Spirits” appeared, one permanently destroying the magic users’ scrolls, the other taking out the prayers or spells of casters. A large egg also manifested, its nefarious purpose not yet known.

With no way of knowing whether the negation had worked, the group seemed reluctant to leave. I called out that we had done what we came to do, and called for a teleport to take us away. We’d had success because we had the element of surprise. We would not be able to fight off the shaman and warrior contingents that would descend on us once they realized what was happening.

Vakharim yelled out that his teleport had been taken out by the green mist, while Leandro took a moment to fire a negation ray at the shit pool covered with strange markings. The nightmare we’d had the night before about Yeenoghu had featured a shit pool surrounded by strange markings, so the odd pool may well have been the target we sought.

In the interim, the large egg had hatched, and lurching ghouls began crawling out. To make matters worse, gnoll warriors had begun charging out from the rubble of the bone cave.

Kilur blinked to the entrance of the cave, determined to hold off the reinforcements. He could see a long line of gnolls stretching back into the depths. With them stood a shaman, speaking to a figure through a portal.

Xochi let off a number of powers, and began hammering into the ghouls with incredible force, blowing them to bits. We quickly realized that these ghouls were incredibly resilient, however, with around 500 hp each. Although their attacks were weak, their immense stamina meant they kept coming, each strike from their fingernails threatening paralysis. Off to the side, Vakharim succumbed to their onslaught, and fell helplessly to the ground, completely paralyzed.

The situation began to deteriorate. Three negation waves spread out from the bone cave, wiping out most party members’ current effects. More green mists appeared, as well as another ghoul egg. We needed to leave before it was too late.
Leandro transformed himself into a massive silver dragon, and poking his head over Kilur’s shoulder, blasted the inside of the bone cave with his icy breath. Xochi continued to sweep ghouls, the eggs themselves, and the green mist of the ancestor spirits.
“We can’t leave because we don’t know if we were successful in taking out the Wall” she called out.

Two ghouls had reached me, and I fought to hold them off as they tried to gnaw on my flesh. Parrying them off gave me a moment to act. We’d done the best we could, and had negated the obvious targets at the Muckery. We were standing on one of the gnolls’ most holy sites. There was nothing to be gained by staying but our own deaths. I called out once more that we had to leave immediately, and that I was going. Then I hit my pendant.

I waited in the Cave anxiously, hoping that I’d been able to lead enough by example and that I’d be joined soon by my comrades.
Thank the Ancestors, they came. Vakharim appeared first, wearing Leandro’s pendant. Leandro had gone over to the paralyzed Vakharim, and on realizing he didn’t have a pendant, had given up his own to get the half-elf to safety. Next Kilur appeared, having used a rune of teleportation. He reported that 5 shaman and dozens of gnoll warriors had just teleported in, and that several more green mists and ghoul eggs had also appeared. We waited anxiously.

Suddenly Agmundr, Leandro, and Ziljian appeared, brought by Agmundr’s mass teleport. Miraculously, both Ziljian and Leandro had failed to resist Agmundr’s unexpected prayer: this had likely saved their lives.

Session Report: January 8, 359

Dernaan Dark

Date: January 8, 359 S.F.

Members Present: Dernaan, Callimor, Haruhisa, Laegrim, Magnus, Olias, Uzo

Location: Yeenoghu’s Realm

Mission: Prepare to bring down the spiritual barrier

From the Diary of Dernaan Dark:

January 8, 359 (Report # 2/13)

Ziljian, Xochi, Vakharim, Leandro and Rarghsha all left to return to the cave and wait for any others that would seek to join our mission via our home base.

Almost immediately after their departure, we heard yelping coming towards us, seeing that Yeenoghu himself and several Gnolls teleported in and came towards us (was Yeenoghu real???). Olias cast Arduval’s Stardust, killing all the Gnolls, but Yeenoghu laughed as he easily resisted the spell, and swept us with his massive flail, causing great damage and sending us flying. I’d later learn from Olias (true site) that this was indeed the real Yeenoghu.

Uzo swung his mighty battle axe, aiming for Yeenoghu’s head, shouting a familiar “UZO!” as he did.  For a brief moment I cheered, it looked as though I saw Yeenoghu’s head come clean off.  But it must have been wishful thinking, as instead, I only saw a glyph on his armband temporarily glow and then quickly darken.  It must have been enough to scare him off, as he eventually teleported away after using much of our healing.

Several of us had been paralyzed by the sight of him, as well as his flail.  Olias told us of one of Markus’ teachings: “A man is but a product of his thoughts, believe you ca be free, and you will”.  I wanted to believe him, but I am skeptical to say the least, that I could free myself from the paralyzed hold of a Gnoll god, with words alone.

After catching our wits, I turned us to birds and we flew east for one hour.  During this journey of approximately 50 miles, the mountains slowly gave way to hills and we flew down into a valley on the border of the burned lands.  Only Olias could see the super natural barrier, as it looked like nothing to us, not the impenetrable and infinite stone wall that I had seen in my dream.

I forget how now (Olias mysticism perhaps?), but here we learned that 60 Gnoll shaman had prayed together for several months each, to erect this wall. And an almost infinite power of severs and negations would be required to bring down the wall.  We learned that there were two holy sites where the wall was created and a simple negation at these “weak” points could bring down the entire wall.  They consisted of places call “The Muckery” and “The Pit”.  We were able to physically pass through the wall, but could not scry any information from outside or inside of the barrier.  We were certain countless horrors must be occurring without our knowledge and the sooner we could bring the wall down, the better.  At noon, we sent a whispering wind to Leandro to pass on this information.

We debated what to do next.  We estimated that it could be upwards of 1000 miles to The Pit, so we decided we would need more information and that we should seek to capture some Gnolls in the area for interrogation. There were mountains to the north and hills to the south, we decided to continue to walk southeast. This afternoon, Magnus found some tracks that we followed.  One thing of note in this area was a LOT of flies.  Many, I’m sure, due to the dung, but they seemed to swarm, almost following us…

We lost the trail and the sun was beginning to set, so we decided to set up camp and rest for the night.  While setting up, we spotted a group of Gnolls, about to launch an ambush on us.  We released from storing and were able to drop many of them.  Their shaman remained and attempted their infamous prayer of turning blood to piss.  Thankfully it failed and the shaman was eventually silenced.  Magnus ego-whipped him, stunning him, giving us the time we needed to recover.  Callimor stabbed the shaman on the ground, ending his life.  We were able to finish off the remaining Gnolls, save one, which Uzo charmed with Laegrim’s wand.

We inquired about The Pit and found out it is situated just outside the city of Ynog, where there is a temple to Yeenoghu.  The Muckery was a filthy holy site and temple to Yeenoghu as well, located far north of us on the coast, just outside Yeentar. Ynog was 500 miles east of the settlement of Basash, which was 200 miles east of our current location.  There were two major Generals of Yeenoghu’s army, a priest known as the “flesh eater” and the “flayer”, as well as an albino warrior with spiritual power called the “Exarch”.

The Pit is a holy site that has an outdoor temple where, when the moon is blocked, great rituals happen.  The Muckery is a holy pilgrimage site, where all Gnolls are supposed to travel to at some point in their life.  We also learned that the flies watch the lands on behalf of Yeenoghu, so he would know where we were.

We asked about the closest settlements and found out that one named “Salij” was several days to the south, there was a stone fort to the east and a tribal pack one week’s journey to the north. We also learned some key information, that there were those who lived in the wastelands east and northeast of Ynog that oppose Yeenoghu.  These lands were supposedly haunted by Ghouls that ate Gnolls and the Gnolls were told to stay away from these lands.

Session Report: January 3, 359

Uzochokwe Chigozie Aboado

Location: Pendant Estate and Yeenoghu’s Realm
Dates: January 1st – January 7th, 359 SF
Members Present: Callimor, Dernaan, Haruhisa, Laegrim, Leandro, Magnus, Olias, Rargsha, Uzo, Vakharim, Xochi, Ziljian
Mission: Banish Yeenoghu – Preparation and first steps

The Legend of Uzochokwe Chigozie Aboado

“Every couple of years the party gathers in strength to achieve a grand objective. The slaying of a Ring Wraith. The banishment of a Demon Lord. A, umm, trek through the Abyss. Uzo has never joined such a venture, but now the time had finally come. The word had gone out, meet at Pendant Estate January 1st. The target, the odious and odorous God of Gnolls, Yeenoghu.”

“Uzo passed his time recuperating is the Ashanti lands. The return of Sironka Simu was a major even for Ghana, and the Asantehene had to be informed. Her people, the Maasai, had been absorbed into the Ashanti Empire almost a decade ago. Would her reappearance spark a revolt? Lead to the revival of the Order of the Butterfly? Yet another factor amongst countless others. On the appointed date, Uzo returned to Pendant Estate. Many others were gathered, but the Governor informed us that some members had gone Basilisk hunting and would not return for a couple more days.”

“After the false start, we were ready of January 3rd. Twelve members had gathered, with the word that more would join us in the coming days. Even with the coming struggle, there was much excitement in Pendant Estate. Old friends long unseen, new members never met. No less than three Rats. Differences were hashed out, or papered over depending on your perspective. But the comradery was strong, as was the unity of purpose.”

“It had been some years since we had last taken up against Yeenoghu and we needed fresh intelligence. Haruhisa used a whispering wind asking Drull the White to attend the meeting; within the hour the great mage had joined us. Drull advised that Yeenoghu had not been idle while we had been focussed on other matters. Yeenoghu’s main objective was to remain on our world and raise his people to greatness. To that end, a great spiritual wall now surrounded the Gnoll Territories, now called Yeenoghu’s Realm (the Realm). The wall prevented all forms of divination from being used on those in the Realm. Even if we entered the realm we would not be able to divine Yeenoghu or his servants as long as the wall stood. Even Drull could not penetrate the Wall.”

“Drull could tell us that the Realm consisted of sixty-six gnoll tribes, with a highly decentralized structure. There were many gnoll shaman in the Realm, but only a handful of temples. The priests wear dark brown robes, soaked in blood and filth and never cleaned. The new moon is their holy night. Most significantly, Daneland had fallen to the gnolls. Widespread slaughter and slavery had followed and was ongoing.”

“Drull’s focus suddenly shifted and words of power were spoken. ‘You have a spy in your midst.’ There was a scream from the back of the room. The Governor was on fire. Drull labelled the Governor as a servant of Yeenoghu, who had long been passing party strategy and movements to his patron. On Drull’s advise the Estate was locked down and all occupants were brought before the Jade Serpent. A further six spies were uncovered and executed. Olias used true sight to confirm that it was Drull before us, and we weren’t being further tricked.”

“After the ensuing bedlam settled, it was our turn to update Drull on our activities. Drull was intrigued by the release of Sironka Simu, calling her a great hero. He was even more intrigued by the news of the Githyanki and their plots at the bottom of the world. Little is known about this race that wanders behind stars and between worlds. Even less is know about what their goals are. With the exchange of information complete, Drull departed.”

“For three days the party discussed strategy. And drank. Some argued that, rather that strike out for the Realm, we should instead focus on getting our own house in order, setting protections upon the cave and Pendant Estate. In the end, the focus was kept on Yeenoghu. Dernaan prayed for information about the Wall. That night he dreamed he was in the mountains. Before him was as impossibly tall wall. No matter which way he turned, Dernaan could find no way past or through the wall.”

“On the third evening, Callimor prayed and numerous holy, Greek prostitutes appeared. An orgy ensued. Xochi declined to participate, and Haruhisa spent much of the time watching the other couplings while almost neglecting his own companion. In the morning all who had participated had numerous blessings bestowed by the goddess Venus. Thus fortified, we teleported to Daneland.”

“The location we had selected was a small village to the East of Alvborg; three years earlier the party had rested in a barn there, only to be ambushed by gnolls. There was no longer much village to speak of. Just some ruins. Also, numerous human heads on pikes. And two dozen gnolls. The ensuing battle had its dodgy moments, but was successful. It wasn’t so much rust, as party members learning how to best fight together in such a large group. All performed well, particularly Laegrim, who turned several gnolls into butterflies, and Haruhisa, who decapitated the gnoll shaman.”

“There was debate about whether to turn East, towards the Realm, or West to Alvborg and intelligence. We settled on heading North a short distance, to remove ourselves from the recent battle, and made camp. That night, Uzo dreamed. Uzo was walking through a narrow ravine. Jagged rock stretched far overhead. Smells of rotting flesh and excrement filled my nostrils. The rock was marked with crude drawings, violent and sexual in nature. Driven forward by a fell presence somewhere behind, Uzo began to run. The ravine opened, at its centre, a pool of feces. Emerging from the ravine came an enormous Gnoll with a three-headed flail. The Gnoll laughed and swung. Uzo awoke in his tent, dying. All around the camp there were screams and moans.”

“Callimor, Haruhisa, Leandro, Olias, Rargsha, Xochi and Ziljian had shared the dream. Each of us had faced Yeenoghu in our sleep. Several of us had awoken dying. Those who had resisted the death call were still shaken, and could not carry out any action with their usual proficiency. Nothing less was expected when dealing with a preeminent Demon Lord, but God this was going to be a long slog.”