Morganna Black (aka Silhouette) had just received an award and honor from the business association of Greyhawk for transforming the area formerly known as Blood Alley into a bustling business district now known as Newhope. She went back to her husband’s office where he was just finishing up the negotiation of a trade policy with a representative of the Shield Lands. They’re looking for a place to display the award when a gentle knock raps upon the office door. Mayor Black opens the door to see Zemilay Lyks along with his constant travelling companion, Burbis Baggleton, here to visit. He has with him gifts for the Blacks from Isrygrad. A schematic for an instrument native to Grahrud, both stringed and percussive, a book of sea shanties and a sample of dust that acts as a philter of persuasiveness. The foursome are catching up when Jackdaw makes his way into the chamber to see his master. Burbis squees with delight and starts playing with Jackdaw, who has learned to speak a little more effectively over the years, Suddenly Jackdaw’s eyes glaze over, the image of a starfield replacing them, and in a great deep and booming voice he bellows:
“The master’s eye has been stolen. Complete the circle. Return it to its proper place”
The message repeats and Jackdaw is released. The four start to work out the message. They believe “the master” refers not to the Mayor but Jackdaw’s former master, Modius.
Crunghin decides Drayden should be brought in on this and the three of them (Burbis stays behind to play with Jackdaw) make way the mayor’s residence where little Trisoll is playing with the Black twins as well as the Steelshaper twins. Both sets of twins are already showing signs of their future endeavors, Moira is a “paladin” while her brother Barth is a “knight” and a total “little gentleman” kind of child. The Black brothers run around and hide and “pickpocket” everyone while little Trisoll has decided that he’s “a Dragon” and runs around roaring at people and “breathing fire”. Trisoll looks up and sees his dad and runs to him. It’s a been a few years since they last saw each other and they have some sweet moments. They then gather up the Steelshaper twins and Trisoll after having servants put the Black brothers to bed and head over to the home of Xanti Lyks. Long parted husband and wife have a teary reunion even as Xanti knows that her husband is coming to tell her that he has a duty to fulfill. They part sweetly and the trio head to the Steelshaper’s to drop off the twins and recruit Drayden. Of course the reunion is an emotional one until Vortis who is initially happy to see all gathered (as happy as he’ll allow showing that is) says jokingly, “you better not be here to drag my husband away.” Lyks buries his face in his hand and Vortis knows. “Fine”, he assents. “Just bring him back in one piece, we’ve got two little ones to raise”.
The four depart and head to Modius’s apartment. Purchased by Mayor Black some time ago, the apartment has been guarded 24/7 since. They make their way into the apartment. It is covered in an inch of undisturbed dust. They make their way up the stairs and plain as day, they see an empty display case on a short table. No footprints to or from. They determine that the object gone missing is Modius’ Orb of Scrying. Puzzling over the disappearance, Lady Black suggests that they find a method of scrying themselves to seek the orb. They head back over to Lyks’ home to recruit Xanti for the actual scrying and then head to the Guild of Wizardry where the mayor asks for the favor of utilizing one of their orbs. The master of the college, Kieren Jalucian, agrees on the condition that the college be given consideration in its plan to annex some adjacent properties. The mayor gives his assurances and the party is ushered to the scrying chamber. Xanti peruses the half dozen orbs housed there, selects one and gets to the business of scrying. After but a few moments, her eyes snap open wide and she screams. Pulling her hands away from the orb, she is clearly shaken. She asks her husband if they can speak privately. Something looked back at her through the orb. Something powerful. Something evil. She asks Zemilay with tears in her eyes if he must go for their destination has been revealed: The Abyss itself! Xanti tells her husband that when he returns from the twisted hell of the Abyss he must leave Greyhawk and not return for her and their child’s sake. Whatever saw her would seek to harm them for their curiosity. Lyks nods his head in sorrowful affirmation and Xanti rushes from the college. Lyks explains what has just transpired and where they must got to seek the orb. The others offer their condolences and Drayden vows that if anything should happen to Lyks and/or Xanti, he would raise Trisoll as his very own. Lyks then decides to seek the help of Jor-Mak who he contacts psychically. Jor-Mak is finishing up with his new apprentice, a young lass named Jelee. The celestial ogre meets them at Pimpleton Manor where George greets them all and prepares tea and biscuits. Jor-Mak informs them that he can send them to the Abyss but cannot join them there. Jor-Mak asks them to clasp hands and he begins the psionic discipline required to plane shift them to the Ethereal. From there, Jor-Mak guides them to a representation of the outer planes and guides them to the descending spiral that is the Abyss.
Zemilay, Drayden, and the Blacks find themselves in a place that looks not too far from the plains outside the Gnarley Woods. Not at all hellish. Drayden is immediately suspicious as the entire plane radiates intense evil. The party concentrates on the empty vessel of the orb and sets of in an indeterminable direction. After they take their first few steps however, they feel a stinging sensation in their feet. The grass itself is burrowing into their armor and stinging them with poisonous barbs. The party all save and Drayden begins cutting the grass with his sword before moving forward. Soon a small glade of saplings comes into view and they pause. Again not trusting, Drayden slowly starts towards the glade and the saplings bend towards him as he walks. He backs off and the Blacks combine Burning Hands to engulf the small forest, charring the saplings which curl up like little crisped hands as they burn. When the glade has burned away a glorious and gleaming altar is revealed in the distance. Upon it, the orb! Lyks casts detect illusion and the glamour that camouflaged the area is dispelled. The orb sits upon an altar of rotten meat and bone, sinew and fat. As they draw closer a demonic presence is seen using the orb. This devil doesn’t even look up as 3 pillars of smoke appear in front of the party. When the smoke clears it is revealed to be twisted hate filled simulacrums of Modius, Reizhodd, and Lanthis Oakenshield who all shout accusatory things at the party before attacking. A fierce battle ensues with the party on the receiving end of a fireball from “Modius” and Lyks and Crunghin paralyzed by music that bellows forth from “Lanthis’” mouth. Luckily Morganna is quick on her feet and a hurried casting of Cloudkill takes out Lanthis and Reizhodd, who are revealed to be demons. With Lanthis down, the others are freed and Mayor Black unleashes Chain Lightning on Modius. The doppelganger takes a mighty blast from the bolt which arcs to the devil at the orb, striking him as well. The devil looks up momentarily from the orb and cackles. The horrific sound, not unlike a kitten run through a meat grinder, fills the party’s ears as the devil uses it’s innate power to make the party forget while he withdraws from the battle. Morganna then drops an Ice Storm on Modius while Lyks heads over to retrieve the orb. After some hesitation, Lyks grabs the orb to no ill effect. Drayden meanwhile, plunges into the Ice Storm no fucks given about taking damage himself and pins “Modius” to the ground with his Cortoxian sword, ending the fiend’s life. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” says the Paladin with no humor in his voice and certainly no pun intended. Mayor Black casts a limited Wish asking for him and his friends to be returned to the mayor’s home in safety. The spell takes effect and the four of them find themselves, as intended, in the Mayor’s residence along with (and quite unexpectedly) Jor-Mak, Vortis, Madryk Dorn, Tic-Toc and Isrygrad. (Dablova was protected from this by the same powerful magics that keep her coven hidden from the world) Apparently, Wish spells have to be very specific.
After some figuring out what has happened, it is decided that the Mayor will attempt to Wish the others home in the morning after he has recovered from the first spell and not at all surprisingly, Madryk suggests they break out some wine. Vortis complains that the children are alone so Crunghin sends some servants to watch over them, giving the old grump an opportunity for a night out. A good time is had by all and in the morn, as promised, Mayor Black sends Isrygrad and Madryk back to the frozen wastes and under the mountain respectively. Drayden says his farewells for now and the happy couple of he and Vortis head home. Lyks then grows somber knowing that he must leave his friends and family to ensure their safety, at least for now. After saying his goodbyes, he climbs on Snowflake’s back and flies off into the morning sky. The Blacks then make their way back to Modius’ where they replace the orb, which glows with a great bright white light as it is restored to its proper place before fading to a charcoal black and going cold. The Blacks then return to home to consider all that has happened. Mayor Black lights a pipe, leans back and exclaims, “Well, they said being mayor would be hell…”