Chapter 11: The Alliance to End all Alliances
Fireseek, CY 614
18th Fireseek, CY 614: [65 days]. . . . . . . Finally the water stopped pouring, though a major lake had been created. Emerging from the mist and vapor churning up from the turbid dark waters was a long skiff propelled along the water’s surface by a gaunt hooded dark figure. As it approached an almost palpable aura of menace preceded him. “What have you done to my river????” its deep throated voice demanded to know.Charon, Boatman of the River Styx, faced them, and he was NOT a happy camper.
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt stood aside the River Styxx, having returned from the Wells of Darkness in a rather different way- the redirection of the river itself! They saw a grey cloaked boatman poling towards them, his extremely dark face hidden by the cowls. As he neared he shouted at them, “What have you done to my river?” It was then that they realized who he was – Charon the boatman guardian for this famous river. It did seem some explanations and apologies were in order. Once this was done he invited them aboard the skiff and they were all swept up and through a rift into the depths of the lower planes.
Charon admitted that he, too, was an enemy of Demogorgon. He reiterated the advice of the Lady of Debased Eros, that they should recruit an army of his enemies. He suggested they start with the Witch Queen Iggwilv as he was one of the few who knew where she was. The FIVE also knew that they had come into possession of missing copy of the Demonomicon which should be of great interest to her. Charon told them where to find her, took them to the Sea Wyvern, and blessed their boat so that it would have free passage in the depths and all aboard would have protection from the elements of the depths while on board.
19th Fireseek, CY 614 : Iggwilv’s Landing
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt, after some rough times with some Stygian Linnorms and three of Iggwilv’s Arcanaloth Accolytes, managed to eventually gain an audience with Iggwilv. And after some bribery that did not include the Demonomicon and the agreement that each would ‘owe her a favor’ she agreed to help them. She furnished them with a list of potential allies who might be willing to join their alliance against Demorgogon. As they already had Charon, she suggested attempting to enlist Orcus, Gwynharwyf, Malcanthet, Obox-ob, and Bagromar. The FIVE would set out to contact each of these in that order to enlist their aid. As the rested for the night, they knew they had 64 days to fulfill their agreement with Ahazu.
22nd Fireseek, CY 614:
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesand traveled to Thanatos in Lachrymisa to contact Orcus. He showed some interest but wanted to test the mettle of The FIVE so Byrker had to do battle, mano a mano against ‘one’ of Orcus minions – the two headed death giant Lestra and Orbenet. Once Byrker handily dispensed with the beast, Orcus joined the alliance. He promised to muster his armies and have them ready to do battle in two weeks time.
26th Fireseek, CY 514: The Court of Stars
After a return visit with Iggwilv, Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt proceeded to the realm of the eladrin where they first had to tolerate Sir Andros Fearnaught when they were ‘rescued’ by Celeste who took them before Queen Morel. The Queen and Gwynharwyf were very interested in the undertaking especially when they heard the part about the Shadow Pearls. But, as always it seemed, there was a test first. Queen Morel explained that in the World of Ash there dwelled a foul tempered wyrm named Redfang who had razed eladrin holdings and had fatted upon ‘her children.’ She asked them to slay the beast and then return one of the stars from his belly. Upon their return they would be taken to the Fountain of Beauty to seal the alliance. The FIVE proceeded to Yggdrasil, the World of Ash, to deal with Redfang.
The FIVE found themselves in a woods, a very strange and mystical woods, with many unidentifiable aromas. At times their heads were spinning with visions of nymphs, satyrs and other mythical creatures. Finally they emerged onto what they realized was a huge moss-covered root with a cavern leading off from it. Perhaps suffering from the ‘effects’ of the woods Byrker first called out a greeting and then forged forward into the cavern. They soon found themselves approaching, and in battle with, an immense linorm – Redfang, Gnawer in Darkness. He appeared to be a huge dragon, wingless with two heads and no hind legs. In the epic battle which followed, they somehow managed to fell the giant beast. Byrker, much to Kaywen’s dismay, took as much of the meat as he could from the wyrm, planning to make it the ‘special’ at his tavern back in Farshore. Kaywen shrunk what was left of the beast, quite a lot actually, planning to offer it to the Well as a fulfillment of their bargain with Ahazu. While they were gutting the beast they did discover and free a star, fulfilling their obligation to Queen Morel.
27th Fireseek, CY 514: The Court of Stars
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt found the court in the throes of a great celebration as news of their success had proceeded them. Gwynharwyf led them to the Fountain of Beauty where they were encouraged to drink. As a result they began to resemble eladrin and would have benefits to their appearance for a week.
2nd Ready’ing, CY 416: Shendilavri
After another return to Iggwilv, Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt headed to where they could find Malcanthet. They went there to bargain for the legendary Tuerny’s Iron Flask which Iggwilv suggested they would need. They found Malcanthet’s court to be rather revealing as they had to be naked to appear before her. When she tried to use her wiles on Byrker the knight was able, thanks to Kaywen’s protections, resist. So she agreed to hand over the flask if they would find and bring to her one of her Radiant Sisters who was missing. Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt went to Crimson’s chapel where they battled her Peloran Heretics [vampire monks] and eventually subdued her. Upon their return to Malcanthet’s court they watched as Crimson was welcomed by the other 12 Sisters as the ripped her to shreds. Hmm, an opening in the court? Anyway, Malcanthet handed over the Iron Flask.
6th Ready’ing, CY 416: Iggwilv’s Mansion
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt returned with the flask and awaited further direction. When Iggwilv tried to advise and help Kaywen with the flask, he stubbornly refused. “OK, then have it your way.” But there were something very ominous in her words. She told them of their next ‘quest’ that of freeing the Aspect of Obox-Ob from where it was imprisoned and getting it into the Flask so they would have this outsider to command at some later date.
9th Ready’ing, CY 416: Feedgut in the Blood Shallows
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt traveled to the Blood Shallows on the 81st layer of the Abyss where the aspect had been imprisoned. Using various magics they determined that the aspect was likely below ground inside the storage hut in the main encampment. Having, again refused Iggwilv’s help when she offered a scroll of freedom, and again getting her displeasure, hmm, they had contacted the Mercanes and bought one instead. They passwalled into the camp and snuck into the storage hut, read the scroll and watched as all Hades broke loose. They quickly fled to watch the carnage as the Aspect began laying waste to the camp. And then Gorgant, the Two Faced, an aspect of Demogorgon appeared and began doing battle with Obox-Ob. Again they watched until Gorgant summoned a marilith to help him. At that point, fearing that their aspect might not survive, they entered the fray on its side. When they had defeated Gorgant, the marilith took flight and Kaywen quickly and successfully drafted the aspect of Obox-Ob into the Flask of Tuerny.
13th Ready’ing CY 416: First Mountain Camp, Pazunia
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt, having conferred with Iggwilv once more, headed to Pazunia where they hoped to get the alliance of General Bogromar, a clone of Hethradiah, one of Demogorgon’s heads. They hatched a plan which called for Kevrey, yes folks, Kevrey to attempt to bluff Bogromar that they were mercenaries and were on his side, having already met with his brother Aameul and were now favoring Hethradiah.
The plan actually seemed to be working as they gained entry to the camp where they were directed to the Balor, Dingoslag, who was the camp director. He agreed to take them to Bagromar. But, well, what a surprise, after leading them to an open area he turned on them! They soon found themselves in a battle with the balor and many, many, did I say many?, other demons gathered around and cheered Dingoslag on. But, as the FIVE gradually gained the upper hand they tenor of the crowd changed and they became the favorites. When Dingolslag died, and exploded, and they survived the explosion, they found themselves with a clear path to the main tent.
Inside they found two nalfeshnees and several glabrezuz as servants who watched their every move. General Bagromar appeared as a one headed Demogorgon – baboon head, tentacles, the mix of scaly and furred skin. He seemed busy with some map and dictation. Suddenly he looked up at them and beckoned them nearer. “Yes, yes. You’re the ones who just murdered Dingoslad. What do you want from me?” In spite of the fact that Kaywen first, and eventually each of them realized they were in a zone of truth, they decided to proceed with the bluff story. Needless to say, Kevrey had spoken maybe two lies in his very uncertain and unconvincing style, before Bagromor began questioning the story. Since Kevrey had little in the way of truth to offer things began to seem bleak . . . until Byrker spoke. He began to speak in his naturally inclined truthful manner. The more Kaywen and Aely tried to shut him up the more he spoke. Styvesandt noticed that many, very many demons, were gathering outside the tent as if they were being summoned in some way. Somehow Byrker’s words were gaining favor with Bagromar. Byrker continued to outline, well give away the details of their plan and the alliances they had made. He offered the letter from Iggwilv, again against the wishes of Kaywen and Aely, he told of their alliance with Orcus. He also mention the friendship of the Eladrin, But, since too many days had gone by they no longer resembled elves so Bagromor was doubtful. And then Byrker pulled out a steak. Not just any steak but a dragon steak he had made from Redfang. “We slew this dragon at their request.”
Bagromor raised an eyebrow and sniffed. Unknown to all but a few of his closest friends, he was a hidden gourmet and he began eating and enjoying the offering. Bagromor admitted that his brother had resisted the consolidation of their armies and that he was not getting the respect he felt he deserved for his successes in the Blood War. “But, what can be done?” he asked whipping his mouth with one of his dretch scribes. It was at this time that both Aely and Kaywen began to realize that Byrker was getting somewhere so Kaywen mention the Flask and Obox-Ob. He even offered to open it at which point Bagromor back away. Byrker decided to push his luck and be as diplomatic as possible, asking General Bagromor to consider an alliance of some sort. The rest of the party shook their heads in agreement, except for Styvesandt who was still counting demons outside, “1,345,276, uh, 1,345277, uh, 1,345278. . .”
Bagromar spoke, “I can give you props for Iggwilv’s letter, and that Flask certainly gained my attention. Your story about Orcus might have some truth to it. Hmm,” and then his reasoning was interrupted by a giant and very satisfactory belch!. “That was the best dragon steak I have ever had. Looking forward to some more of it.” As he stood, Styvesandt noted that the demons outside the tent were dispersing. “Consider it done. Now leave, before Common sense returns.”
And they did!
15th Ready’ing, CY 416: Farshore
Aely, Byrker, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Styvesandt returned home to their colony to begin the final preparations for what would prove to be a one chance, succeed or fail, live or die effort. They knew they would have one, and one chance only, to get their loose and erratic group of allies to somehow coordinate and attack against one of the greatest foes, the mighty Demogorgon. If they failed the Shadow Pearls which were already spread around the world of Greyhawk would be unleashed and nothing could be done about it.
They would have a few weeks to organize themselves and then convene the War Council of their allies to finalize plans for the assault on Gaping Maw.