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Voyage to Zeçy

[Tuesday, December 08, 1998]

Griflet's Report: “I saw strange things on the Blessed Isle.”

SETTING SAIL - Worm (17th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

The elves of Sibilan seem slightly less despairing after your speech. Leaving them with the supplies you brought, you head for the Port of the Swan-Ships to make ready the boat. The elven sailors salute you as you board. Kellin suppresses a giggle. By dawn, you are underway to the Isle of Zeçy.

ATTACK OF THE FIRE WIZARDS - Butterfly (18th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

The waters of the Sea of the East are blue and clear. Your Swan-ship rides the waves beneath a clear spring sky. Windwood watches at the foc'sle, you are at the helm at the stern, listening to the roar of the sea and the flap and creak of the sails. On the deck below you see Kellin and his knight friend Griff chatting and laughing. Several elven sailors - still somewhat awkward (sailing is a little practiced art among modern elves, and most of their few nautical experts perished during the Nightmare) clamber up and down the rigging. You are making good speed; by your calculations you should reach the Isle of Zeçy by tomorrow evening.

Something makes you scan the horizon. Behind you on the horizon is a thin line of dark green - the Lankhmar Continent and the forest. There! From the direction of the sorcerer town of Moorsh you see a tiny ship. Before you can call out a warning however, a huge sheet of flame appears right in the path of your ship! You desperately spin the wheel but the swan-ship ploughs straight through the conflagration. You dive to the deck and the heat takes your breath away as the flames pass over you.

Small fires are burning on the deck, the crew are scurrying back and forth dousing them with buckets of water. No one seems seriously hurt, though the ship has been singed. Behind you the flames still burn in the air above the water. Sorcery? Chaotic forces? Some kind of bizarre natural phenomenon? Above you flaps a confused, squawking seabird.

You glance at the ship on the horizon. Windwood hands you a spyglass and through it you can see the ship slightly closer. It is heading in your direction. It has black sails and you can see three black-robed figures standing near the prow. The ship makes you uneasy; you think it would be a good idea with your inexperienced crew to avoid it.

The seabird gives another squawk and suddenly you look up suspiciously. The bird is circling your ship, watching with eyes you suddenly know are not its own. Carefully, you pull an arrow out of you quiver and unshoulder Coryon's Bow. You shoot the bird and it drops to the deck, just as another blast of flame washes over the swan-ship, igniting ropes and rails. Sorcery it is, then, probably from the ship to stern.

You know the swan-ship is a good vessel, but it can't take much more of this. “Full speed away from that vessel!” you command. Elven sailors go running for the rigging. Kellin and Griff join you at the stern. Arborius runs up from below, unshouldering his bow.

Your efforts to outrun the ship are not successful. You watch grimly as the black ship grows larger. Either their ship is faster or you have simply been out-sailed. You're trying to tack around to get some more wind in your sails, but the ship is not moving fast enough. The black ship approaches. “Get down!” you yell as yet another burst of flame engulfs the swan-ship, its gleaming white timbers now covered with black soot and cinders. But the black ship keeps coming. When it reaches bowshot range, you and Arborius begin to blacken the sky between the two vessels. Cutthroats plunge screaming into the sea with blood foaming from their necks. You aim an arrow at one of the black-robed figures chanting in the prow; he screams and gurgles with an arrow in his heart; the other two stop chanting and drop down behind the cover of the figurehead. Four more pirates are dropped by your and Arborius' arrows. The black ship doesn't get any closer, it is already turning and fleeing. In anger you let fly a few more arrows; a pirate drops from the crow's nest to the deck. But the enemy ship is fast and efficient; you know you can't catch it. Soon it vanishes beyond the horizon and you are once more alone on the evening sea.

LEONORE'S REPORT - Mouse (19th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

Your ship was quite badly damaged by the fire-wizard attack, but there's not much which can be done until the ship is beached and repaired. In the meantime, as your voyage to Zeçy continues, you speak with Leonore who has at your instruction been reading the Book of Three.

“It is a hugely important work, Griflet. Of course I haven't finished absorbing all of its knowledge in just two days, but I have made a start. I think I've found some information which may help us…and some which may not.”

“It is well known that at the Battle of Sorrows the Quarmallians dealt King Celedril a mortal wound. That much is true, but what I did not know before is that the King did not die from that wound. Why, you ask? How? I asked the same questions. The secrets were in the Book. At the battle, the Quarmallian hate-sorcerers summoned a foul Demon, an evil mirror-twin of Celedril from another plane. The demon and Celedril slew each other, but their souls could not both exist in this world. Both Celedril and the demon were caught in Limbo in the body of the King, which did not live, nor did it wholly die.”

“Celedril's kin, Imric and Coryon, knew that there could be no peace for their father until his soul vanquished the evil one within. They placed Celedril's body in his Tower, and Coryon sealed it with mighty magics that the demon should not escape. Then Coryon and Imric declared the Blessed Isle forbidden land. They razed the city of their long childhood. Then they took their Law-stones and left Zeçy, following the leys to establish their own settlements and carry vengeance to the Quarmallians who had done this deed. So there was no peace for the People, either, until the end of the war, which the Book does not document.”

“But when Imric and Coryon and their kin left the Isle, it was not completely abandoned. The old King's Guard, wild with grief and rage at having failed in their duty, swore by the lords of Law never to leave the Isle. They gave up their House and their place in Elven society. They swore that they or their ancestors would kill anyone, man, beast or elf who dared to set foot on the Isle again. They became the Wild Elves and they dropped out of Elven history except in legend.”

“So what this means, Griflet, is that chances are the King, or something pretending to be the King, might still be there, even after all of these years. Also, that the Wild Elves or their descendants might also be there. It was a long time ago, but an Oath of Law is not something anyone takes lightly.”

Leonore's talk of the Wild Elves - and the sorcerous fires of yesterday's sea-battle - brings back memories of your adventuring companion of three years ago, Lorathon Shadowblade, who perished in Calumny's flames. While at the time you cared little for Elven society, who was in it or out of it, now you realise that he was a figure out of history, one of the Wild Elves of Zeçy. What was he doing away from the isle? Perhaps, like the mainland elves, there were always misfits, adventurers and wanderers who didn't fit with the edicts and structures of society. You smile to yourself. Perhaps he was one of those. Lorathon was friendly, but his brethren on the Isle, if they exist, may not share his genial demeanour.

Leonore is looking at you. “Griflet” he says, “I've also been examining the Icon of the Dragon - very cautiously of course. That red rock it is made of is very like the description of Coryon's Law Stone which he took with him from Zeçy. The Law Stones were the foundation stones of the towers of Tovilyis, Imric's Hold and Zeçy. They made the Great Triangle of Law. Griflet, I think the Icon is made of the same material! My instruments gave me nonsensical reading, but that's what I think. If it's true, well, it could be very powerful…or very dangerous.”

THE ISLE OF ZECY - Evening, Mouse (19th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

After your conversation with Leonore you head below decks for a quick nap in your hammock. When you awaken and re-emerge on deck in the pinkish dusk light you see the darkly forested Isle of Zeçy dead ahead. Between it and the mainland foam the waters of a dangerous strait known as the Snarlwash. You call for all hands on deck, and steer the ship around the island, navigating the Snarlwash carefully. There are several beaches upon which a landing could be made in the longboat. You, Arborius, Griff, Kellin, Windwood and Leonore pile into the boat (you with the Icon of the Dragon) and Griff rows with strong, steady strokes toward the shore. As you wade through the surf, dragging the heavy boat, Griff turns to you.

“Griflet, my eyes are not elven-eyes. I fear I might hamper you more than I'd help, though my sword belongs by the side of Kellin and yourself. Maybe I should remain here and guard the boat?” You pause for a moment, then nod. You'd been considering the problem yourself. This way, your party need carry no light and can move swiftly.

HUNTED - Night of the Mouse (19th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

The moon casts weird shadows on the forest floor as your band moves cautiously among the ancient trees. Your welcoming committee is not long in coming. You hear a distant chilling howl which sounds half-man, half-animal. Lorathon used to make such a noise before he charged into battle. These elves will be well trained and will know the terrain; a head on fight would be foolish. On instinct, you lead your band straight towards where you heard the howl, figuring the Wild Elves might howl where they don't have the numbers, sort of like your own Battle Language. More howls erupt from the dark forest around. You change course, and again. Your team follows you as quietly as they can; you can tell they're tiring, especially Leonore, though he gives no sign.

For several hours you lead your team in circles. Stopping, starting, doubling back, trying to confuse your opponent and lead him astray. You leave false trails, listen to his movements, move on. You think you've fooled them, evaded them. Then, in the grey predawn light, you emerge from the forest to look down on the vast moss-covered ruins of Zeçy. And all Hell breaks loose.

AMONG THE RUINS - Dawn, Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

A patrol of tattooed Wild Elves spot you and throw their spears, hooting wildly. In the pale light you hear other hoots and howls from deeper into the forest. You volley arrows at the Elves; Arborius and Kellin do the same, as you move around the edge of the wide clearing, not knowing if another patrol might not emerge from behind or to the side.

“There, Griflet, there's Celedril's tower!” shouts Leonore, then grunts with surprise as a spear pierces his body, stains his tunic red.

The last of the Wild Elves drops with an arrowshaft protruding from between his eyes, but you know there will be more of them. You are bleeding from a minor wound to your arm. You bind it quickly, then run and jump over green stones and low walls, your band straggling behind you, Kellin supporting the semi-conscious Leonore. The ruins are vast; it might be possible to hide there, at least until Leonore is able to walk.

Eventually, you and your team sink down behind the remnants of a large building. The cool green walls rise unevenly to touch the blue sky above. You immediately see to Leonore's wounds, while Kellin and Arborius keep a cautious lookout. Leonore's wound is deep, but not fatal. He recovers consciousness and winces with pain. Windwood stands by wide-eyed.

Kellin comes up to you. “I say Griflet, If we're going to enter that tower,” he gestures to the spire of moss-green which rises above the silent ruins not too far away, “then this might be the best chance we've got. I mean, otherwise we might have to retreat, you know.” He pauses. “I do hope that Griff's all right.”

CELEDRIL'S TOWER - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

At first there seems to be no way into the three-sided tower, covered like every other structure or half-structure in these ruins with lush green moss. There are no visible doors or windows; the tower rises smooth and green into the sky. Then Leonore, bandaged and out of breath, points with his crystal-tipped staff to a hole in the ground where some paving stones have crumbled. “That way leads within,” he wheezes.

Exploring, you find yourself in a small room of white marble, with no apparent exits. Light filters down from the open air above. A small cube of stone near the north wall has the following inscription in old Elvish:

CELEDRIL

Father supreme and fair of face
And soul, in triumph slain
When mirror'd evil came apace.
Let here his heart remain.
You put your hand on the north wall and it becomes translucent. You see an archway with a corridor filled with white hazy light. The others have scrambled down now.

“What are you looking at?” asks Kellin from the pile of collapsed stone. You take your hand from the wall and the archway fades again. You replace your hand and can see the archway again. But the others don't see it themselves until they crowd around and put their own hands on the white stone wall.

From the ruins above you hear the distant howls of Wild Elves; they are getting closer. You suspect that it will only be a matter of time before they find you. Whatever the dangers within the elven tower, you and your band might be safer inside and together than out here. But the tower could be a trap and a prison - Leonore hinted as much, in which case you might all be doomed if you enter. With such a choice of unpalatable fates you shrug and step into the haze, followed by your band, one by one.

THE BLOODY CHAMBER - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

As you enter the corridor, the white haze surrounds you. You feel light and light-headed, uncertain of direction. Each step you take seems to carry you a great distance. You walk in this way for what seems like some time. Eventually you step out of the haze into a round vaulted chamber of red stone, lit by a light which seems to have no source. A spiral staircase winds up to the ceiling. Your companions emerge behind you from the white archway.

“What is this place?” asks Kellin, half to himself.

You caution him to silence, then lead the way quietly up the stairs. You find yourself in a round, domed chamber, bright and airy from the light of six enormous archways spaced evenly around the walls of the chamber. Visible through five of these portals is the sea. You smell the salt and hear the roar of the waves. Then you realise that each archway looks out on a different ocean. That one there is the characteristic pale blue-green of the Sea of the East, those two might be the Inner Sea and the cold blue-grey Outer Sea; you're not sure about the others. The other archway is filled with white haze.

“Running water,” mutters Leonore “in many cases proof against enchantment…”

You step through the white archway and find yourself in another domed room, lit by three huge archways. The left arch looks out on a white city on a plain, the pennants of Coryon fluttering in the breeze. Tovilyis? But Tovilyis is in ruins, its master long dead. The right arch surveys Imric's jagged tower, also surrounded by ruins. Behind you the green tower of Zeçy gleams in the sunlight. The walls and floor of this room are crusted with brown dried blood. In the centre of the room is a throne, slick and red with fresh blood. On the throne is a pale gaunt elf dressed in gold and silver brocade also soaked with blood. One pale hand holds his breast, where blood seeps slowly from an open wound. His green eyes flick open, eyes full of pain and…madness?

The elf lurches to his feet, a twisted smile on his face. In a gentle voice which does not match his tone he says, “Visitors! Oho, it has been a long time. Welcome to my tomb, my prison…and yours!” He laughs. Then his smile fades. “Die, weakling! You'll die too, do you think I care?” He suddenly seems devoid of energy; he sinks down on the throne, clutching his chest wound. “My heart…it hurts to see…ruins everywhere I look. Do you bring me good news? I must warn you! There is darkness” he gestures weakly “here. I am not…what I appear. I shall enjoy watching you die.” He smiles, then points at you. “The Law Stone! What have you done to it? Blasphemer to taint with Chaos a true Thing of Law…aha, artfully done, fool. Artfully done. Well, can't you speak? What have you to say to your King?”
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