Forced to leave their fallen in the charge of some wounded Household Regiment soldiers, the party bade the men take Zonkle and Louis to the temple of Rao. Exhausted from their struggles they pushed on to their section of the west wall, accepting what first aid could be given from Redwolf’s field hospital. Sir Derryian and his new men, the Shield Lander exiles, had acquitted themselves well and had all but repelled the assault by the time that the Band of Seven Songs reached their posts. It would appear that the major push against the west wall on this occasion was south of the gatehouse and the wall took heavy damage and casualties there instead. As the false dawn settled the brave defenders on the wall pressed on and the enemy fell back from the walls. The sun finally broke across the horizon, the enemy retreated to their camps and the brave folk of Chendl realised that they would live to fight another day.
The tally of the Darknight Disaster was costly. 719 civilians and refugees slain and 1242 defenders fallen to shadows and wall assaults by skeletons and orcs. Many of the fallen were veterans, men that Furyondy can ill afford to lose. The east wall must be reinforced as two thirds of their defenders did not survive Darknight. The renowned Master Illusionist, Zonkle Knacklesack was slain along with his friend, the sagely Louis d’Vitae. Numerous pockets of undead continue to plague the eastern city, taking many clerics away from the wall where they are sorely needed. Although the Greater Boneheart Mage Vayne has been vanquished for now, it would appear that the plans of Commander Xenvelen were successful as the morale of the besieged folk of the capital is at an all-time low. It appears that he sent clerics and mages only into the city along with a handful of shadows under cover of dimension door and invisibility spells, using the undead to create havoc and spawn further shadows.
The Band of Seven Songs immediately began making preparations to have their companions resurrected. Visiting the Temple of Rao, Rendar met the Ambassador of Veluna, Victus Gellain, who seemed to be in an agitated state. Canon Avras Vendenn informed them that he had already communed with Rao and been informed that Louis d’Vitae could not be resurrected. Their god had other plans for the priest. After discreet inquiries, it was revealed that of all the priests of Furyondy only Lord Priest Garaeth Heldenster had the power to return Zonkle to life and even then the Master Illusionist would be diminished. Rendar announced that he had contacts in the church of Boccob in Greyhawk City, having been resurrected there himself by Patriarch Ravel Dasinder a number of years previously. The only catch would be that a truly extraordinary diamond would have to be consumed in the spell and the assistance of the Patriarch of Boccob always came with strings attached.
Cae called upon the assistance of Zonkle’s good friend Ringlerun the Mage, who agreed to teleport the party to Greyhawk City. Preparations were made and Rendar, Cae, Avras and Ralston left for the Free City with the corpse of Zonkle. The River Quarter in High Summer was particularly fragrant with the stench of rotting fish and sweat. Avras and Cae were introduced to the extortionate gate tax, freesword tax and even a cargo tax to transport the body of poor Zonkle into the Free City. Cae’s mithril armour drew attention as they moved through the city and numerous ill-aspected characters appeared to be following the party by the time they made it to Zonkel’s house in Clerkburg. His old friend and business partner, Leren o’ the Duchy, had made preparations to buy the diamond from the Guild of Jewellers and Gemcutters and was forced to call in more favours to ensure a wizardly escort to the Temple of Boccob the next day.
In testament to Zonkle’s reputation or perhaps Leren’s influence, an escort of no less than 12 wizards waited in front of the house at dawn the next morning. Among them were the famed Otiluke, President of the Socirty of the Magi and Jallarzi Sallavarian, a known friend of the Archmagi Tenser and Kieren Jallucian. The thieves of Greyhawk melted away into the city.
Rendar’s friend Altamaic the Calm waited for the party at the Temple. He had organised an interview with the Patriarch, who had just 11 minutes to spare the Band. Altamaic had always felt beholden to the Band for helping him to return the Mad God’s Key to the temple, and let the party know what the Patriarch would like to hear to gain his endorsement for the resurrection. Unfortunately Cae let this inside knowledge slip in the interview, thus earning Altamaic the censure of the Patriarch.
Ravel Dasinder conducted the lengthy and intricate resurrection spell as soon as Zonkle’s corpse was prepared. As the party and Ringlerun looked on, the massive diamond over the gnome’s heart seemed to grow indistinct and sank into his chest. The Master Illsuionist had spent a harrowing, interminable time “in a dark place where indecipherable yet malicious whispers and cruel laughter were all around while agonising shooting pains spread through his limbs and a terrible thirst took hold of him”. Abruptly the All-Seeing Eye of Boccob pierced the gloom and bathed the illusionist in it’s awful, cold light. Zonkle had the impression that he was falling through the planes of existence and then finally, woke with a gasp and a shuddering sigh.
The Patriarch of Boccob took the shaken Zonkle into the catacombs beneath the temple, where he was shown an enormous, detailed map of the Oerik. The Flanaess was in trouble, with great welts of red, purple and black energy encroaching from the north, northeast and east. Pockets of white, blue and grey existed in the middle of ther map, corresponding to the nations of Furyondy, Veluna, Nyrond, the Iron League and the Sheldomar states. Some of these directly clashed with the darkness and appeared to be flickering and receding in the face of the war. Other areas were calm and untroubled, such as the lands of the Greyhawk plain and the Urnst states. Ravel claimed that these last areas were at peace because they were in balance, and the wars engulfing the rest of the lands threatened to throw out the balance permanenly. He further explained that if this were to happen, the results could be disastrous on a cosmic scale as the world of Oerth was like a lynchpin ensuring the balance of the Great Wheel!
While Zonkle attempted to absorb these revelations, Ravel calmly asked exactly what the gnome would be prepared to do to uphold this balance, for such was the true price of his resurrection. He also coldly explained that it was well within his power to put Zonkle back where Boccob had found him. The wizard replied that in fighting the Old One he was already upholding the balance. Ravel said that he agreed, but to succeed in such an endeavour in the long term the gnome must be committed to neutrality, not weal, and that the church of Boccob would call upon the gnome at times in the future to do some things that he might find disagreeable or in direct contravention of his morality. He may even be called upon to perform an act that he might deem to be evil! Such was the will of the Lords of the Balance, and such was the price of his continued life.
Upon weighing his (lack of) options, Zonkle agreed, and he and the Patriarch left the wondrous map and rejoined the party. There the gnome was welcomed joyously by Rendar, Cae, Avras and Ringlerun. Thanks and offerings were given to the All-Seeing Eye, and they returned to Clerkburg. Leren too was overjoyed at the return of his friend and business partner, for he had some bad news to tell.
Find out next week!