Klaus von Schrek, the self-proclaimed "Wizard of Beer," sprang from his imprisonment in early July to once again terrorize Ashbury with his madness. Local adventurers had previously encountered Klaus when he tried to perform some unusual curse upon the Fenmarch brewery of his arch-rivals, the Neumachts. With a mysterious magical book called the Heineken Grimoire, celestial caster Klaus attempted to ruin the waters in the brewery, making the beer undrinkable--perhaps in a matter similar to the recent curse that was laden upon Ashbury's alcoholic beverages by the ale aspect Bach. Klaus was prevented from completing his quest by the distractions of a group of adventurers, and the ritual went awry, sending Klaus through some sort of elemental vortex.
Apparently, the influx of magical energy on the other side of the vortex fed the book which--as Sorceress Shalizar later discovered--housed the spirit of fabled Blackstonian Dragon Mage Heineken.
Klaus admitted that the book absorbed the magical energy and had attempted to take over his mind. He stated that he had been dragged to the plane of Pandemonium and had gained great powers there through the book. His personality was obviously splintered as his body was periodically taken over by Heineken.
With an entourage of various alcohol constructs, he then managed to enter Faerieland. There he drained magical energy from the fey, becoming more powerful day by day. Even the fey's magic seemed useless against him. Klaus/Heineken then slew Oberon, King of the fey, causing Oberon's wife Queen Titania and the remnants of her court to flee to Ashbury.
"All we know about the fey tells us that one cannot enter their plane without being led there by a resident of that plane," stated noted expert Kris Ostinwich of the Bardic College. "Either Klaus was lying, had new powers we are unaware of, or one of the fey was a traitor. As to why Titania came here, it is probably because with the rifts that have been opened due to Avar Lychus, Ashbury was the easiest escape route to our plane." Others reported that all of the beings came through the faerie gate that had been placed in town by Petal the fey (or at least a gate looking similar) and that the gate never appeared twice in the same place. It was also pointed out that Petal fought by Klaus' side continually, even against her own Queen, until Klaus was defeated, at which point she claimed she had been forced to help him.
Klaus was soon to follow behind the Queen, but attacks by the people of Ashbury seemed mostly useless, as Klaus absorbed whatever spells were cast at him and took no damage from magically enchanted blades. The people of Ashbury noticed however that Dispel Magic spells wounded him. Klaus left before anything could be done to defeat him, but not before demanding that Ashbury issue an apology to him. In a move of unprecedented cooperation and selfless concern for the people of Ashbury, the city's most powerful spellcasters present, including Sorceress Shalizar, Sir Justice, and Kelial Vardik, all vowed to memorize as many Dispel Magic spells as possible for the next day.
This disturbance in the planes caused by Klaus was so great that an assembly of the Magistarium representing the various Planes then arrived to argue over what should be done. Among them were aspects of Law, Chaos, Life and Death. A fight soon broke out between the aspects, with a majority of the citizens of Ashbury supporting Chrystatarius, a Life "Elemental" of the Vital Senate. The Death and Chaos beings were slain. However, the city's triumph was short-lived as Klaus arrived soon thereafter and slew Chrystatarius. He then went to the Law "Elemental," a being named Rigel who had visited Ashbury just weeks previously, and grabbing him, drained him of all the celestial magics within, killing the being in the process.
The tale of the faerie gate and its powerful guardians--known by some as the "Fey Police"--is a story unto itself. Six of these guardians were spotted in Ashbury. They were Ted the Enchanter, who beat all comers in games of chess and then forced them to fight each other; "The Hag," an old crone who stole people's names; a Leprechaun named Paddy O'Dell who challenged people to solve his riddles; the Jabberwock, a powerful cow-like beast who could only be harmed by blades with vorpal coatings; The Deathwatcher, a spirit-like form who demanded to see a townsperson die; and Ruxpin, the so-called "Super-Pooka."
Meanwhile, during the periods where Klaus was absent, Queen Titania decided that she needed to find a replacement for her dead husband and decided to marry a mortal in order to promote harmony between the two "species." With her leaf-clad follower Puck she chose Finn the gypsy, and the two were wed the next day.
The opening of the Fey Gate also allowed a large group of dark fey to examine our Plane. Dark Fey Prince Lord Leafbane saw his chance to destroy Queen Titania and assume the Fey Throne himself but was continually beaten back by brave adventurers who surrounded the Queen. Large groups of brownies also entered through the Gate, charming and waylaying the hapless citizens of Ashbury, and especially attacking Squire Radric while saying "We love you, Radric." Other strange beasties wandered through the night, their howls heard through the city. Reports of missing children the next day caused many parents to wail in grief.
To complicate matters further, a lizardman sorcerer of great power (who was apparently named Hssthark) also arrived in Ashbury. He claimed to be Heineken's ancient enemy from centuries earlier in Blackstone, and was cursed to wander the face of Tyrra in various humanoid forms until his nemesis Heineken was dead. Hssthark wanted the Grimoire so that he could destroy Heineken's spirit and thus be able to die himself (or so he claimed). He and his minions attacked the city relentlessly in an attempt to regain the book.
Klaus then returned and was eventually defeated by a myriad of Dispel Magic spells thrown at him. The book was returned to Hssthark who left with it for parts unknown. The defeat of Klaus allowed the magic within him to return to faerieland, freeing Oberon's spirit to resurrect and then arrive in Ashbury. He berated his wife for taking a mortal husband and claimed that the marriage was negated. He took his wife and prepared to leave but was attacked by Lord Leafbane and his army of dark fey. With the city's help, the dark fey were defeated, and King Oberon thanked the humans. Then, with a brief farewell speech from Puck, the faeries departed, taking the Gate with them.
A rebel Blackstonian warrior of the "Order of the Storm" attacked the good citizens of Ashbury recently, but he and his army were defeated in a massive battle which left many dead, including Sir Thyren Vardik, one of the Duchess' Paladins.
The warrior, named Field Marshal Victor von Danzig, had arrived in Ashbury chasing a Blackstonian citizen named Julius von Wikkheiser.
Julius and his wife Ghisela had arrived seeking "political asylum." He stated that in Blackstone, radical elements of the von Danzig noble house had moved against the von Wikkheisers who were all revealed to be biata after the celestial change in 591. Some believe that the action was less about the race of the von Wikkheisers but more about the various political power games that constantly exist in Blackstone. Victor had apparently built upon the mistrust many have of biata and had used that mistrust to infiltrate and build his own power base.
Victor had followed Julius all the way from Blackstone with his army close behind. Julius, a relative of the Duchess' squire Wilhelm Neumacht, had arrived in Ashbury hoping his relative would help him. Wilhelm was unfortunately on vacation in Evendarr with the Duchess and most of her court. Barons Thomas Grey and Bryan Nordenn took Julius and Ghisela under their protection and tried to negotiate with Victor, but the livid Field Marshal could see Julius, the object of his long maniacal hunt, and he gave the order to attack!
Luckily, Victor's anger sabotaged his tactics; rather than ordering his contingent of sixty soldiers to deploy a battle line and attack simultaneously, each of his four companies attacked individually from column formation as they arrived on the scene, throwing themselves piecemeal against Ashbury's valiant defenses.
Victor's hatred also led to his defeat as his attempt to kill all biata in sight (including Sir Thyren) made him disregard his defenses. Victor was killed in the battle soon after.
Although Kelial ran through town offering 20 gold for a Life spell for Sir Thyren, none were to be found, and Kelial was forced to perform the resurrection on his fellow biata. Although the resurrection was not perfect, it was successful and Sir Thyren left the Guild as healthy as he had ever been. He would not say how many deaths he has had, but it is believed that he had previously suffered deaths in the Barbarian wars over 20 years ago. The County of Blackstone has since reported that Field Marshal Victor was captured, removed of his title, and Obliterated for his act of treason since he had no authority to use the Sturm Knights in that manner. Julius and his wife have returned to Blackstone but are certain that there will be more encounters in their future.
Reports indicate that the magical sword once owned by Her Grace Duchess Mara and lost by Baron Thomas has been seen in the hands of a lizardman in Mishrak Fens.
The recent death of lizardman king Mishrak has apparently left a power struggle for control of the monsters, and unconfirmed reports indicate that the lizardman known as Rigel has been the primary beneficiary of his father's timely death. Rigel's brother Rysa is also said to be rallying his supporters to counter that claim.
"This is a good time to do some spy work, find out what's going on, and get my sword back!" said the Duchess.
She has authorized her Paladin Sir Angus Grimsby to organize groups of adventurers to infiltrate verious places in the lizardmen's underground lair in search of information. When asked about this, he said "Let's just hope that that stupid idiotic newspaper doesn't report this, thus warning the lizardmen."
Citizens in the towns of Hampstead and Bloodstone, happy over a strong economy, safe streets, and competent management, have held separate celebrations in honor of their liege lords recently. In fact, they have even had local artisans craft and erect statues to honor them.
Baron Bryan's statue decorates Marketplace Square in Bloodstone and Sir Angus McEwen's statue (done in a tasteful green stone) is on display in a public park in Hampstead.
by Cleo Smith
Baron Thomas refuses to deny the rumors surrounding his infamous name, although he does admit "I like elves; I prefer humans." He also reports that he has four gypsies in his court. What a busy Baron.
According to a recent poll, the Baron of Blythedale also rates as the number one behind in Ashbury, while Baron Morgan rated only a distant seventh. "How do you think I became a Baron?" Baron Thomas said, smiling. Tied for a close second place were Squire Bretton Moore and Sir Angus Grimsby. Third went to Squire Radric, fourth to Sir Tsubatai and fifth place to Squire Wilhelm Neumacht (better take a look now before he gets hitched in the fall). Sixth and seventh place went to Baron Morgan and Sir Justice, in spite of Justice's shaking his booty in the tavern. (Lord) Aloryn Runeweaver rated eighth. Blade: I'm sorry to say that Baron Thomas rated higher than the barbarian brothers. My condolences to Grandin the elf who would have been on the list if he'd worn pants instead of those voluminous robes. (If you don't believe me, go and take a look.)
I was going to do a political analysis of Ashbury this issue, but I might want to come back to the city some day.
Instead, here are a few people who are contact points between different factions in town: Sir Justice, Squire Kelial, Elias Triphammer, Necros, Derek Dreamweaver, Squire Hanson, and Isabella Nault. They all hold constant and unswerving allegiance to only one person. They'd all make excellent traveling companions for each other as long as no one turns their back.
The Merchants' Guild has a lot more support than anyone's willing to admit to themselves. Conversely, the baronies seem to lose a little ground each day. (Some of us regular citizens say the most appalling things when they're not around.) If you want to talk to Baron Bryan, go to his number one first. If you want to talk to Baron Thomas, make an appointment. If it's Baron Morgan, just yell. Talking to Baroness Laurelin doesn't seem to require a special procedure - just have respect.
Both Baron Bryan and Lord Aloryn have had their titles returned, by the way.
As far as some other groups in town: The Shield of Vandemor looks self-reliant and self-contained except for that orc thing with the McEwens. The gypsies are split into several factions, and a lot of them are touchy about each other. The Mist Wood Rangers and The Company can be considered a loss, since they both seem to have been devoured by the Royal Army. Lastly, the Town Guardsmen (or should I say Town Guardsman since lately I can only ever find one) is a brave man going it alone. I suspect if he starts getting too much in the way he could get in (more) trouble.
Remember: If you can't say something nice about someone, come sit by me.
ALORYN, MASON, and all else concerned: I will be returning to Ashbury quite soon. Look me up. - Truxton.
POEMS FOR ALL OCCASIONS! Reasonable rates. Love sonnets a specialty. See Turlough the Bard.
MOURNA: My love, I miss you! Please come back to me; it's been too long.
THE ASHBURY COMMONERS' GUILD can be found in the Dragon's Flagon tavern or in the Gypsy's home. Alchemy, armor, weapons, potions, scrolls, adventuring supplies and services. Cheapest prices in town. We also buy for our stock and pay the best. We are extremely honest, with people you can trust.
ROSEMARY AND GWENDOLYN: I seek an audience with the both of you on neutral ground. Please contact me - Kelial Vardik.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about joining The Fist, contact Baron Bryan.
RESEARCH DONE. Legal representation and advice. Scrolls read, potions and elixirs identified, items evaluated. Quentin Dunbury, Ashbury Solicitors' Guild.
SIR ANGUS: Don't worry, the tests came back negative. - J.H.
ASHBURY REGISTRY OF TEACHERS. Referrrals for a wide range of skills. Discretion assured. Teachers: get students without spending all your time recruiting. See Prof. Turlough Kuranes at the Dragon's Flagon.
THE ASHBURY MAGES' GUILD would like to congratulate the following new Apprentices: Jericho, Company of the Midnight Sun; Marcos Kinnear, Checkmate