Gendin’s Journal – Return of the Council of Rendelshod

a page from the journal of Gendin, son of Arissa and Temone of the dwarven Clan Gilderlo

The Return of the Council of Rendelshod

December, 1443 AWR

In the short span of time since the Council of Rendelshod returned from the depths of history, I have heard at least a dozen fantastic tales that speak of who they were, who they are, and how they got here. I write this entry to record the facts while it is fresh in my mind.

Before the year zero AWR, there was a loose confederation of individuals who adventured together. While history often calls them heroes, the reality is they were a bunch of misfits, oddballs, and criminals who managed to form a common cause.

Initially, that cause was adventuring for fun and profit. Assuming you don’t get killed, adventuring can be “fun” (depending on how one defines “fun”), and can pay extremely well. This loose group, that numbered roughly fifteen to eighteen people, did well. A few died in the course of events, but, well, adventuring can be very dangerous. If there is a large chunk of coin and valuable objects laying around, it stands to reason that something nasty owns or guards it. Overall, this group did well enough.

In 7918 ASNK (After the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms, the calendar in use before AWR), the mage Susafras was tasked by his god, Patah, to find and retrieve the Rod of Seven Parts. A war between the gods was brewing and Patah needed the Rod to control and limit the damage. In the original wars of Rendelshod, roughly half the gods were slain.

So Susafras and Company, including my great great and then some grandparents Thorin and Meselda (of no clan at that time) and their son Baldor, fought their way across seven worlds in the multiverse, finding each segment of the Rod and collecting them. Their final stop, after two years of travel, was the Castle Rendelshod, located in the northern part of the Grav-Lach Mountains. The castle had been abandoned since (literally) the year zero ASNK, a bit short of eight thousand years. From the day the Lords of Rendelshod faced the demon lord Jxtl and lost, no one had held the castle for more than two years, often much less.

This oddly matched company collected all the pieces of the Rod, and Susafras turned it over to Patah, who used the Rod to knock heads, kill a few gods who refused to stop, and squashed the war.  Then Patah broke the Rod into its components and scattered it back across the multiverse. The artifact was too dangerous even for a god to keep.

Some items are like that, and Patah was wise to recognize that.

In the aftermath, Susafras and his friends decided they liked the Castle Rendelshod, so they killed or drove out all the monsters inside. THAT tale is a story for another day.

Thorin located clanless dwarves to do repair work on the castle, although for a edifice that had stood vacant for nearly eight thousand years, it was in amazingly great condition. The group named themselves the Council of Rendelshod, in honor of the Lords who had led Trivana so many millennia ago, and continued their work of protecting Trivana from external enemies.

From a bunch of misfits, oddballs, and criminals they forged themselves into the most prominent fighting force in Trivana. They found a purpose to believe in, and became the protectors of Trivana.

A few years later, an exploring group from the Council found Teroip Stemtarp’s Cleaver in a crypt beneath a neighboring peak, within ten miles of the castle. A skeleton warrior appeared, wanting the blade. For reasons no one mentions, Susafras gave it the sword, and it promptly vanished.

A few weeks later they checked the crypt deep beneath Rendelshod, and found the skeleton warrior on one of eighteen stone biers, the sword held to his chest. It was protected by magical forces, as none could touch it.

The Council had explored the caverns beneath their castle and had found the biers, but at that time had no idea regarding their origin. The fact that there were eighteen led to speculation regarding the Lords of Rendelshod, but they could discover no historical documents that described the biers.

During the following two months, more and more skeleton warriors appeared on the remaining seventeen biers, until all eighteen were assembled. When the last appeared, they arose and traveled via gate to Jxtl’s demesne. The skeleton warriors, the cursed revenants that had been the Lords of Rendelshod, completed the task that led to their curse.

Jxtl made a fatal mistake — he produced an enemy his forces could not withstand. In his effort to ensure the Lords suffered for eternity, he made them incredibly powerful and all but impossible to destroy. He counted on his curse, that Stemtarp’s blade must be found first, to protect him, as he kept that blade when he scattered the others. He didn’t count on an adventuring thief stealing the blade from his treasure room, just a few short centuries later. Still, his curse was strong enough that it took Stemtarp eight thousand years to find his Cleaver. Long, but not eternal.

The Lords slaughtered Jxtl’s forces and destroyed his mortal form. The surviving thirteen Lords collected the Cleavers of their fallen comrades, and traveled back to the crypt below the Castle Rendelshod. With Jxtl dead, at least temporarily, his curse ended and they re-attained their mortal bodies.

The Lords deeded the Castle to the Council, although some did so grudgingly. They moved west, earning lands in Pahkia on the west coast. After Stemtarp was killed in battle, relations between the Lords, now called the Knights of Polaxis, and the Council deteriorated. This is detailed in other journal entries and I won’t expand upon it here.

During the following sixty years, the Council continued to expand their name with deed after deed. They made enemies in the process, and were constantly on guard against attack.

Thorin was, oddly, in the habit of sometimes traveling on his own. Regardless of his tight connections to his family and comrades within the Council, he maintained a sense of being a loner, something established in his childhood and one that diminished but never left him.

In 60 AWR Thorin disappeared and could not be found. No form of scrying magic could locate him, nor did contact with higher forces reveal anything regarding his whereabouts or condition. Most believed him dead.

In 62 AWR, Thorin’s Horn rang in the Castle Rendelshod.

Meselda had enchanted a horn for Thorin, one tied to his blood. Only he could invoke the magic of the horn and he could not be coerced or charmed into blowing it.

The horn opened a gate between Thorin’s location and the courtyard of the Castle, and sounded an alarm.

The available Council members quickly assembled and went to Thorin’s aid, stepping through the gate, which vanished after the last passed through.

Hours, days, weeks, months, and eventually years passed. The Council did not return. Eventually, they too were believed dead.

The Knights of Polaxis grew bold and approached the Castle with a large force. The remaining Council members, including the wizards Muur and Jed Vorta, realized they could not hold the Castle, so they evacuated their people though the caverns beneath the castle.

The Knights found a fully populated Castle and immediately laid siege. After two weeks and the loss of hundreds of men, they successfully scaled the outer wall and entered the courtyard.

They found nothing. The Castle was deserted. The fights to scale the wall had been against very clever, very powerful illusions, augmented with equally powerful magical traps. The attackers scaled the walls only when the magic powering those traps was expended.

Searching the Castle proved equally dangerous — magical traps abounded, and the caverns beneath the castle were filled with hostile life. A message sent back to Pahkia stated they lost five hundred men scaling the walls, and another two hundred searching the castle, and that the passage to the caverns was now blocked and guarded.

The Knights in charge chose to keep the Castle, installing one of their number as the baron. However, this effort was abandoned less than two years later, as the inhabitants were too terrified to stay.

Terrified of what? Accidents. Any time an action might result in an accident, it did result in an accident. Ladders slipped while being climbed, walkers got clumsy and fell down steps — unnecessary and unlikely accidents happened, regardless of precautions taken. Spell casters scanned the castle — there were no curses of any sort in place. No hidden creatures were found. Nothing. All appeared normal, except the frequency of accidents.

After a year of this, the craftsmen and servants started deserting, too terrified of the “cursed” castle to stay. Six months later the baron gave up as he had too few servants remaining, and no craftsmen at all.

Cementing the belief in the curse of the castle – while exiting the gate the last time the baron’s well trained warhorse threw him, breaking his back and leaving him crippled.

Over the centuries, other groups tried to inhabit the castle, and all fell prey to “the curse”.

The journals of Muur and Jed Vorta say nothing of any cursing they may have done. Jed Vorta specifically noted that he heard of the curse and had no idea where it came from, as neither he nor Muur did anything. He suspected there was no curse, just a few coincidences built up in the minds of the inhabitants.

The current Council is positive their members who remained behind when Thorin’s horn blew did nothing. There is no evidence of any curse.

I write this in my room at the Castle Rendelshod, my home the last four years. We have suffered no such problems or dangers. It may be that the Castle was waiting for its rightful inhabitants to return.

Who blew the horn that caused the Council to disappear?

That would be me, although at the time I had no expectation that I would summon the Council, nor that I could summon the Council.

In 1439 AWR, I led the companions who sought the Carnith Stone. During that quest, we passed by a Tower of Filhaze. These towers were created by the Archmage Filhaze to collect adventurers to clean up his worst mess. He was a tinkerer, always trying to create new and better life forms. Unfortunately, “new and better” rarely meant “peaceful” or “benign”.

In his home world, he created a terrible beast called The Ribine. This huge beast, supposedly over one hundred feet tall, ravaged the land, slept for centuries, then awoke to do it again. He could not destroy it. So he created towers in many worlds as tests to weed out the unfit. Reaching the top level of the tower took determination, brawn, magic, and intelligence. Most failed, either dying or leaving before reaching the goal.

The prize for reaching the top level of a tower? The surviving adventurers were catapulted through space to his homeland and forward in time to the next awakening of The Ribine. An untold number died trying to defeat the Ribine.

However, when the beast was finally slain by the levente Avatar, the magic of the towers faded, and they became normal structures.

During his travels, Thorin took refuge in one of Filhaze’s towers to escape a superior enemy force, and was sent forward in time 1,379 years. We found no explanation for this, as the magic of the towers sent the “victims” forward to the next awakening of The Ribine, which was less than a few centuries, and always to Filhaze’s homeland. Thorin remained in the same tower, and had no idea he had traveled in time until he exited to find himself in a pitched battle.

A Knight of Polaxis learned from an augury that an enemy would appear from that tower, and he had a company ready to destroy whatever came out of the tower. Assuming we were part of whatever enemy was going to appear, he attacked us.

The battle did not go the way the Knight envisioned. Thorin appeared from the Tower shortly after fighting commenced. Recognizing the standard of a Knight of Polaxis, he joined our side as it was against the Knight’s forces. The result was that he killed another Knight, broke another Cleaver, and joined our company. He was a great addition to our quest and his presence helped ensure our success.

At the conclusion of our quest, Thorin was believed killed when the Carnith Stone was “bounced” to a new location.

Prior to that, Thorin gave me his horn, which he had never used. With the Council long dead, he didn’t know what it would do if I blew it. We could not be certain it would do anything for anyone except him, although his wife was unsure if their son could invoke the magic. In any case, he told me to use it as a symbol to rebuild a new Council.

I later did exactly that — form a new Council. We cleared the Castle Rendelshod of monsters, and shortly thereafter were besieged by a goblinoid army. It was clear the castle would fall — we had taken ugly casualties and had too few numbers to hold the goblinoids off indefinitely. At that time I doubted any of the defenders would be alive by nightfall.

Being desperate with nothing to lose, I blew the horn. I am Thorin’s descendent along several bloodlines, so I hoped that it would raise the alarm that it was supposed to do. Our defenders were warned and I had hopes that the noise would at least delay the attackers while we evacuated our people into the caverns below the castle. Optimistically I hoped the alarm would scare them off long enough for us to escape.

So I blew the horn.

Nothing happened. No alarm was raised.

However, within a minute a light appeared on the bridge between the central and north towers — in that light appeared a small group of people — dwarves, humans, elves, half-elves, and a halfling. Initially they looked surprised, but recovered and set upon our attackers with more destructive magic than I thought possible. The invaders were swept from the walls and in the course of another minute, twenty percent of the entire goblinoid army was dead or dying. The routed remnants fled in panic, killing more of their own numbers in their stampede.

Our saviors? The Council of Rendelshod.

When I blew the horn, it sounded the alarm — in the distant past. The gate opened not between places, but between times.

Meselda, Susafras, Paprazzi, and Edine conducted many tests, but could find no reason the horn functioned as it did. Enchantment of an item that could open a gate between times was beyond Meselda’s abilities when she enchanted it. She and Susafras are unsure if either could successfully impose such an enchantment today.

Six months later Thorin was reunited with his family and companions, as he and Bel the woolabu escaped the explosion surrounding the Carnith Stone by traveling to another plane. It took him several years to make his way back to Trivana.

We have discussed it numerous times, and the one possibility is that passage through the Tower of Filhaze altered the horn. We don’t expect we’ll ever determine an exact answer.

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