Witch Queen of Perrenland

Kirk and Aaron were just two travelers hoping to find adventure in Greyhawk’s most notorious drinking establishment. Little could they have known that adventure would find them just a few feet from the Green Dragon. Joined by the mysterious and tight-lipped merchant Rarsirrien, a female thief, and a disgraced Paladin, they become caught up in a plot to thwart the infamous and evil Iggwilv from obtaining the secret to immortality. To do so, they must breach the magically protected borders of the secretive Valley of the Mage. If they succeed, they will have to find Iggwilv’s agents while avoiding detection by the most powerful spell caster on the continent. Discovery will mean capture and death, and failure will mean the loss of countless lives to Iggwilv’s cruel experiments. But in the Valley of the Mage, not everything, nor everyone, is as it appears. Along the way, our heroes will have to confront the demons of their past and a few in the present. If they succeed, their reward will be freedom, fame, and the riches that come from it.

Iggwilv

Iggwilv

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As she walked down the long corridor, she stopped in front of a large, polished silver mirror and studied her reflection. Her hair was now jet black instead of the blonde of her youth. Her skin was paler now as well, but she had few wrinkles for a woman of her advanced years. She turned to her profile. Her slim figure was firm in all the right places. She was what most men would have called attractive. She had used a variety of tricks and spells to stall the passage of time. Considering that she was over three hundred years old, she appeared as a human woman in her early forties. Soon, if all went as planned, she would have no more need for such tricks to extend her life. She would not need to fear death. She caught her reflection’s wry, evil smile. In her youth, she had been Tasha. She preferred her current title, Witch Queen.

Likewise, in planning for this task, Iggwilv had spared no skill, spell, or divination to locate four unsuspecting souls to bend to her will. She needed at least four powerful spell casters for her plan to have any chance of success. She knew the wizard in the Valley was extremely powerful. He had time, and powerful allies, on his side to allow him to explore and perfect his magic. Finding four powerful necromancers was no challenge, and finding four gullible men willing to do her bidding was even less of a challenge. Finding that combination was the challenge. It was a man’s world, or so men liked to believe. Iggwilv had learned long ago that most men had a significant weakness that any woman could exploit. To prevent the knowledge of that weakness from becoming widely known, men perpetuated the myth that women were somehow weaker and less intelligent to help mitigate that threat. Through customs and laws, they managed to keep women powerless. She, however, had mastered the arts of flirtation and seduction. She had mastered the art of sexual exploitation and manipulation so well she had even been able to control and manipulate one of the most powerful beings of the Abyss, the demon Graz’zt. She had used her seduction skills to get powerful men, whether sorcerers, barbarians, or powerful monsters, to do her bidding in hopes of taking her to their beds. So four mortal male necromancers were no match for her in any way. She had appealed to all their base male instincts, greed, fame, and lust.

She allowed herself a moment of satisfaction. She had sent the four along with a small support contingent of half-orcs and gnomes to try and find a way into the Vale of the Mage. As insurance, she had sent several assassins to trail them in case anyone started having delusions of grandeur. She also had spies in Verbobonc, Ket, and even Greyhawk to keep tabs on what matters of import were being discussed at the highest levels of each court. She didn’t believe this plot would go unnoticed for a moment and wanted to keep tabs on who would react and how. In truth, she didn’t honestly believe these four had a chance of defeating the Mage on their own though she did think they had a decent chance of at least getting to him. But then she didn’t need them to succeed only to draw him out, and then when the moment was right, she would have what she wanted.

She reached to her chest and clutched the small silver amulet which hung around her neck. She had singled out the one necromancer in whom she had seen the most potential. She had seduced him with her charm and promises of power and knowledge. “We will share his knowledge, and with it, you will rule the Vale, and I shall have my triumphant return as Queen of Perrenland,” she had promised him. After their night together, she had given him an amulet identical to the one she now wore. “When you are in range, and he is distracted, place this amulet behind him. When exposed to magic, it begins feeding off the energy of the magic user, weakening him. Then you will be able to attack, but you must stay out of its range; it will also feed off your energy.” She smiled; Blackspell had accepted her gift and all she had promised without question. Men were so easily controlled.

“My Queen,” the large half-orc bowed low before her as he interrupted her train of thought.

“What?” Her tone betrayed her annoyance at having her train of thought disrupted.

Detecting her tone and to avoid further annoying his mistress, he began delivering his message quickly. “Our spies in Greyhawk have informed us that the Margrave of Bisel is in the city.”

“Hmm.” She did some mental calculations in her head. She knew her little group would have to travel through Bisel to reach the Valley of the Mage. She assumed that they could do so quietly and pass undetected. If the Margrave was in Greyhawk and her party was detected, he would not be immediately available to direct a response.

On the other hand, he could be in Greyhawk for different reasons if they had been detected and he had not elected to engage them. Perhaps to alert others or seek advice or reinforcements. There was one person she knew would be able to help Bisel, one of the few creatures that had ever survived an encounter with her before. She needed to know for sure.

“Do we still have our brotherly assets in the city?”

“We do, my queen.”

“Make contact. Have them keep an eye on him. While they’re at it, have them keep an eye on my old friend. If he meets with anyone, make sure they have an unfortunate accident soon after. Have them deal with my old friend while they’re there. That should send a clear message to my dear Walgar not to meddle.”

“Yes, my queen.” With that, her captain withdrew and went back down the passage, down a flight of stairs, and into a large hall. A tall, thin, bald human wearing a scarlet-colored monk’s robe was waiting.

“My mistress has a message for our friends.”

The scarlet figure turned and followed the half-orc out of the hall.

Iggwilv walked to the end of the hallway and stood before a large black and red tapestry depicting the visage of the demigod Iuz, her son. Then she stepped forward, passed through the illusion, and entered her private sitting room. The room was lit with torches and candles, the walls lined with bookshelves full of spell books, scrolls, and other volumes of history and lore, including her Demonomicons. In one corner, near the lone window, was a small round table with what appeared to the casual observer as an ordinary crystal ball on an obsidian pedestal and a high-backed, red velvet upholstered chair. She sat and allowed herself to sink into its well-worn padding while putting her feet on the matching ottoman.

“You will not be able to breach his defenses.”

Iggwilv smiled. She had missed her former mentor and lover. She spoke softly, “After all this time, you underestimate me still.” She reached for a small silver goblet that had appeared on the table. She took a small sip and admired her reflection on its silver surface. “Besides, I don’t need to breach his defenses. Once those fools have managed to access his keep, there will be enough magic power to activate my little gift and provide a gateway for me to travel through. After that, they need only distract him for a few minutes and then….” She snapped her fingers, leaned back, and closed her eyes. “What remains to be seen is if they are smart and powerful enough to make it to the Valley. For that, I may need to provide a small distraction.” She opened her eyes. “Perhaps dear Walgar might be of some use, after all.” She will have him watched to see who he meets.

She had too many questions and needed answers. She would have to wait and see what her allies in the Scarlet Brotherhood could find out. In the meantime, she had other tasks that needed her more immediate attention. She needed more up-to-date information from the Vale. Patrols and lookout posts, in addition to powerful spells, guarded the Valley’s entrance, and while she was confident she could break or disrupt them, that would alert the Mage.

“I need someone to watch the entrance; perhaps some lucky Valley creature will wander out. Perhaps there is someone who still owes me a favor that can help….” There was no answer. She glanced around her empty room and sighed, “Some things never change.”

D A STEMPNAKOWSKI

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