The Kernan Campaign Chronicles: the City of She-Who-Waits
The tale begins on Fireday of Truth Week of Earth Season, Y.O.L. 2523, with the party ensconced at the Inn of the Waiting Eye. The party took out two large rooms. The Inn is the worst den of vile treachery in the City of She-Who-Waits (CoSWW), except for all the rest.
The CoSWW streets are filled with: morokanth, halflings, and some human-looking creatures. The party has also seen some demonic creatures and an occasional wraith. The sunlight is blocked from the CoSWW by a covering of the same obsidian-like substance the walls are made of. Some weird phosphorescent glowing balls light the streets. The party observed a "tender" pouring something that appeared to be blood into the base of one of these balls. It got noticeably brighter when the tender did this. There are Brothers of Balance (purple robes) here as well as more of the mind-flayers (wearing black robes with crimson sashes) and human warders (crimson robes with black belts). The architecture in the CoSWW is efficient and repetitive. Each block has a wall around it, and within the wall is a large, castle-like structure with five stories above ground and two below. There are open squares at regular intervals to include a common market. Slave coffles are common and just as often they disappear into the castle-like temples and government buildings.
The excitement begins when the party’s pockets are picked. There seem to be an unusual number of halflings in the Inn of the Waiting Eye. Bow, Issek, and Querya go out into the CoSWW to quietly scout it out. The scouts notice a mind-flayer watching them as they leave the Inn, and they "bump into" a halfling as they make their way around. The halfling’s name is Sitsi, and, after a few moments of persuasion by Bow, Sitsi gladly agrees to tell the scouts all he knows about the City. Sitsi also tells the scouts that the center of the thief's guild in town is the Inn of the Waiting Eye, and that the guild is run by his uncle Joe. Once Sitsi is set down, he runs off, never to be seen again. (Click here if you want to skip right to the action.)
The scouts do manage to find the following places of interest:
Naturally, this scene created a bit of a ruckus. The scouts dropped in Anaba's Soulfood Emporium for a few moments until the heat cooled off. They quickly then make their way back to the Inn of the Waiting Eye, where the rest of the party is holed-up.
Meanwhile, back at the Inn of the Waiting Eye, Gerald is itching to use his orb of insect control. So, he summons as many cockroaches as he possibly can over the next several hours. Corlis, Moth, Vochma, Larry-Ma, and Moe-Ma guard their money poaches a bit tighter. Gerald instructs the cockroaches that show up to "go eat She-Who-Waits." The cockroaches dutifully go out to perform the duty as best as possible. Gerald decided that, since all the dreams of She-Who-Waits had made her look like she had lots of legs, She-Who-Waits must be an insect! Impatient with the non-immediate response of his mission to the cockroaches, Gerald issues the strongest mental summons to She-Who-Waits possible using the orb of insect control.
The rest of the party at the Inn is quite taken aback when Gerald's eyes turn red and his teeth and ears begin to lengthen and become more pointed. Thinking quickly, the party members cut off Gerald's hand that was holding the orb of insect control. The orb changed form and became a winged creature which sped away.
At this point, the party realizes there will be trouble. They speed up to their rooms where they hole-up. Several of the dexterous members of the group including Bow and Querya scale the walls and set out a perimeter on the roof. Less than an hour later, Bow and Querya are surprised by a woman with daggers circling her head and a large great cat. The woman introduces herself as Elvyra and tells the party they are in grave danger. Elvyra convinces the party to flee the Inn of the Waiting Eye and run to the Inn of Bloody Scheckle just as the mindflayers and warders break into the Inn of the Waiting Eye. Demonic hounds are leading the warders and mindflayers. The proprietor of the Bloody Scheckle greets the party warmly as they interrupt the patrons' bloody feast at the main table. The party flees again with CoSWW authorities directly on their heels. Elvyra uses her witchcraft to slip the party away just as the warders and mindflayers break into the Inn below. Elvyra has the party stay in the giant bag of holding until they reach the pitch-black interior of the Temple of Rondo.
While in the Temple, Elvyra completes an all-night ritual where she enchants Issek's Runic Iron spear with the power to "kill She-Who-Waits" witch. After completing the ritual Elvyra departs and tells the party they must keep moving. As the party leaves the Temple, they are accosted by an Imp. The Imp informs the party that they must meet Tarkis and other members of his order outside the CoSWW on Godsday of Truth Week. The party explores the fronts of some of the other temples. Both Bow and Gerald enter the Temple of Ohlbrich. Bow and Gerald observe Mosi, a priest, give some halflings in front of them a draught to drink. About half of the group dies instantly while the lucky few enter a curtained room beyond. Bow and Gerald both elect to drink, and amazingly both survive. The two are met on the other side of the curtain by Haloke, who acts as a guide. Gerald and Bow are given the knowledge of how to find She-Who-Waits and how she might be defeated. The party leaves the strange but fruitful encounter at the Temple. As the party leaves, they see five demons, four Babau and one terrible Bebilith, are approaching them. Moth thinks quickly and transports the party to the ethereal plane. The demons quickly follow. Several of the party members flee while Corlis and a few others assume battle stances. Eventually the Bebilith carries Corlis away to the astral plane, where Corlis is able to finish the demonic beast off at great cost to himself, including his armor! The rest of the party members destroy or drive off the rest of the Babau.
Corlis has no hope of rejoining the party. So, he begins to wander the Astral plane. Eventually his heart rejoices as he spies none other than Gallard, the Vampire Lord and self-proclaimed friend of the party and Tarkis approaching him. Corlis' joy turns to horror though as Corlis sees Gallard strike what appears to be an invisible wall and Gallard is slowly roasted alive and turned to calcium dust. Corlis openly proclaims that if Gallard can perish here, what chance does Corlis and his band have? Just then Corlis hears the familiar tone of Tarkis' voice calling to Corlis. Corlis cautiously follows the voice and indeed finds Tarkis along with: the Tien (carrying an oddly glowing, green globe), Styles, Carastinian (carrying an oddly glowing, red orb), and many others of the Balance Cult. Corlis described his horror at seeing a powerful member of the noble and right destroyed! The Tien had pondered this for a moment when Carastinian interjected a single word, Linta. A hush fell over the group as the Tien explained that a trusted member of the Balance Cult, Linta, must have betrayed the Cult and had used the Cult's records to inscribe the True Names of the Cultists into a protective barrier around the outside of the CoSWW. Obviously, this protection extended into the Ethereal and Astral planes too. The Tien then told Corlis that the forces of Balance intended on sealing She-Who-Waits and her minions in a magical prison by setting her outside of Time and unable to affect the planes outside her magical prison. The Balance will not be able to enter the CoSWW, but they are creating a diversion with the nomads (thanks to the party's friend Grath) on the outside of the City while the Balance Cult completes its arcane ritual. The Tien and Carastinian ask Corlis to aid them, and Corlis pledges to do so. The Tien and Carastinian spend the entire night enchanting a small magical sphere. They tell Corlis that when it is broken, the sphere will provide the most complete non-magical detection, invisibility spell they can collectively muster to the breaker of the sphere. The Tien and Carastinian also tell Corlis that there are two dates of import from their collective scrying. A "transformation" will occur on Godsday of Disorder Week of Dark Season, and the dark will feast on Wildday of Fertility Week of Dark Season.
Meanwhile, back in the CoSWW, the party is keen on meeting the Godsday meeting time with Tarkis. Bow has the idea that the party could have lifekeeping cast on them and then kill themselves to be resurrected by the Tien on the outside. The other party members agree that it is just so crazy that it might work, and all readily do themselves in. They arrange to have Domona carry them out as deceased. She readily agrees, for a price.
The party agrees to be transported inside the gigantic bag of holding into the CoSWW while Issek will use the globe of non-detection to slip by the City's defenses. The plan works perfectly, and Issek brings the party to an empty castle-like building. The building was recently occupied, but the Githyanki who made their home here were all crucified. The party also discovers that the proprietors of Inn of the Waiting Eye (Helki) and the Inn of Bloody Scheckle (Orenda) were also crucified in a most grisly fashion.
The party stealthily goes to the Hall of Lords, the fortress of She-Who-Waits on Godsday of Disorder Week of Dark Season. Issek describes the scene he sees to the party, and all agree to wait and see what happens. Linta and the devil Vine are sitting on a circle of incredible intricacy and magical import. Around them is a circle of seven Wampheri, and thirteen each Morokanth and mindflayers. At the height of the ceremony, both Linta and Vine are transformed. Vine says, "I am a devil lord no longer. From today forward I will be known as Yandros, Lord of Chaos." Vine was quite angry at Linta and pointed at Linta saying, "you have betrayed me, and I will wreak my revenge!" Linta replied, "I will rule your old plane with the powers of a devil lord!" Yandros spat and disappeared.
The party felt it was bad to have waited after the fact, and they vowed to strike before any ritual was over on Wildday!
They party did find another room which they assumed contained She-Who-Waits, but they room was magically sealed.
The party returned on Wildday of Fertility Week of Dark Season. They found the same participants augmented by magical toads and the form of Yandros! As the barbarians attacked from the outside and the sun went still due to the Balance Cults ritual, the party struck, and Issek as able to drive the Runic Spear deep into She-Who-Waits. Just then, Yandros, who was actually Elvyra disguised as Yandros, struck She-Who-Waits with a withering barrage of magical fire. Simultaneously, Querya used her sunsword to shatter the crystal binding the CoSWW together, and the CoSWW was shattered.
The battle raged for a timeless period, but in the end, the CoSWW was destroyed, and all that was left on the prime material plane were corpses and some tiny, nearly unnoticed cockroaches …
The party was richly rewarded by both the Duke of Kernan and the King of Tumeria. Corlis was awarded a title of nobility, Baron of the Blackwater. Gerald was given the title of Court Baron and command of the Duke's troops in the Blackwater Barony. Querya was titled as a baronet and made mistress of a thief's guild. Cardhu was also titled as a baronet although he was not present at the ceremony. Vochma was made the head of the mage's guild for the Blackwater Barony, and Issek was made the head of the Merchant's guild for the Blackwater Barony. Bow was elevated to honorary member of the peerage for the Kingdom of Tumeria as he was not allowed by his Order to accept ranks from temporal powers.
To aid Corlis in recovering the Gem of Lopnel, King Halric made Corlis an ambassador to Far Point. If words prove insufficient, Corlis was given the power of a war Baron to raise and command troops.
While Corlis is gone, Baron Stewart has been installed in Corlis' place to run the Blackwater Barony.
So ended the first year of the Kernan campaign, Y.O.L. 2523, and there was much rejoicing!
Questions / Answers
Q1: Why would Elvyra disguise herself as Yandros, and why would Yandros allow such an affront?
A1: Yandros was very angry with She-Who-Waits. He actually suggested the ploy to Elvyra. Elvyra was angry at She-Who-Waits, because She-Who-Waits had left/betrayed Elvyra's grand-coven. By pretending to be Yandros, Elvyra was able to get close enough to strike.
Q2: Is Gallard really dead? How can that be? Wasn't he really ancient?
A2: Yes, Gallard died the True Death. Gallard was a member of the Balance Cult, and his True Name was inscribed on the wardings surrounding the CoSWW. He used the most potent magics he had access to to protect himself, but it was not enough. She-Who-Waits was no hedge wizard, and she had been preparing for this day for an Age. Gallard measured his time on Zhalindor from before the First Age of man, but his pride grew along with his knowledge. In the end, he proved incautious.
Q3: What happened to Misha, Neda, and Halima?
A3: The Tien showed the party that Misha, Neda, and Halima had been taken away to Starside. Apparently She-Who-Waits had planned on using the hostage party members as a bargaining chip, but this never came to pass as She-Who-Waits did not expect the attack by Issek with the Runic Spear. She was planning on bargaining with the party.
Q4: How come Issek was given the enchantment to harm She-Who-Waits? Wouldn't Gerald or Corlis have been a better choice?
A4: Corlis and Gerald were known to She-Who-Waits. She was enchanted via Wishes against attacks from them. Issek joined the party after She-Who-Waits gathered her intelligence. She suffered from an extra dose of pride as well.
Q5: So is this Elvyra person good or evil?
Q6: What was the deal with the CoSWW? What was She-Who-Waits planning on doing? Was she going to open a gateway to Starside like Lady Sernelia had planned earlier?
A6: It is probably best just to tell you the story of She-Who-Waits. The CoSWW was erected in a single night through She-Who-Waits command of Darkness. She-Who-Waits was one of the Wampheri who entered Zhalindor via the Circle of Stones. She-Who-Waits was found by Elvyra, and She-Who-Waits joined Elvyra's coven. She-Who-Waits served with Elvyra for many, many years, but eventually She-Who-Waits was tempted by desires for greater power than was possible serving as an apprentice for Elvyra. She-Who-Waits headed north to the Troll Lands and found one of the passages to the Underworld in the Citadel of Lead. She-Who-Waits learned much from the denizens of the Underworld about Darkness, and She-Who-Waits even held the RUNE of DARKNESS for a time. Fortunately, Acheron, Gallard and Linta, who were all members of the Balance Cult in good standing, took the RUNE from her. She-Who-Waits fled to the plane of Darkness and vowed to return only when she could claim Zhalindor as her own. She-Who-Waits determined that if she was ever going to claim this world for her own, she would have to defeat the Balance Cult. Linta thirsted for more power and gave She-Who-Waits a chance to do that. She-Who-Waits planned on turning Zhalindor into a place of eternal night just like Starside, but She-Who-Waits never intended on having an operational gate open between the two worlds. She-Who-Waits found herself filling with ripe Wampheri eggs, and she knew it was her destiny to seed Zhalindor. She-Who-Waits did not trust the Wampheri Lords on Starside; that was wise of her. She did open a gateway to deposit Misha, Neda, and Halima on Starside, but that was only to find a method to get the party out of her way. She-Who-Waits returned to the prime material plane with the aid of Linta. Linta, together with She-Who-Waits, found an arch-mage spell to cause eternal darkness on a world. It required the caster to view no light for a year, and then to enchant seven magical spears. Apparently this is how Starside was turned to darkness aeons ago. Once completed, the only way of bringing back light to the world is to shine sunlight on each of the seven spears.
Q7: So, if the party had failed, would Zhalindor be just like Starside now?
A7: No, the terrain is quite different … just kidding! No, the Balance Cult had its best and its brightest set the trap around the CoSWW. She-Who-Waits would have been trapped outside of Time for all eternity with her minions, but eventually only She-Who-Waits would have been left. Wampheri are like that.
Q8: What about Linta? How did he fall from the Balance Cult? Why would he leave the Cult?
A8: Linta was sent by the Cult to infiltrate and bring about the downfall of the Brothers of Balance. The rest must wait for the party's discovery if they so choose …
Q9: Why would King Halric put Baron Stewart in Corlis' place until Corlis returns from Farpoint?
A9: King Halric hates the party. King Halric was only nice to the Duke of Kernan and the party, because he had to be based on political expediency. The party embarrassed Baron Stewart less than a year ago with the help of the "Little People." Neither the King nor Baron Stewart have forgotten.
Q10: If the party had killed Gerald after the transformation was complete, would they have killed She-Who-Waits then and there?
A11: No, She-Who-Waits could not have physically manifested herself until after the ritual was complete. She sent an eidolon into Gerald. The party did the best they could under the circumstances.
Q11: What about those cockroaches?
A11: Mu-hu-ha-ha! There are many open plot threads in the Kernan campaign. Stay tuned for more exciting action!