Prophecies in the Sands
The scroll found in COR5-11 Dark Deceit on Bright Sands held the following prophetic passages:
“A time will come to pass when evil will once again hold sway over the land. Three stars and crescent Luna will mark it.
Be it known those who write these words shall not live to meet those who carry the words. Only the worthy shall carry forth these words at the pre-ordained time.
There shall come a time when a gift will be granted to man. A dark crown with a dark gift will be wrought.
A curse shall befall the land and it shall wither like skin stretched across a rock. The poison of men shall scurry under the harsh sun. Only the shadow within the crown can restore the parched land.
For all, the crown must be destroyed.
Another passage reads:
“Seek out a living thing of Sulm; protected by the sleeping tower.
Seek out a Sulmite weapon of unholy wrath; forgotten in faded Utaa.
Seek out an Itarian weapon of holy glow, lying in drowned Sennerae.
Seek out the purest star metal and the prison of souls; locked within the herald of great sorrow.
Seek out the crown, bring it forth and unmake it.
The unmaking must happen. The unmaking must be. The unmaking shall bring salvation.”
At the seat of darkness will be the ending.
For two years, bands of adventurers crisscrossed the burning dunes of the Bright Lands on an epic quest to uncover the items required to unmake the Scorpion Crown. Their adventures took them into the darkest ruins of ancient Sulm, Itar’s watery grave, and even back to the days of the decadent sorcerer kings of old. Some of these brave souls worked to further the plans of Rary, the so-called traitor, seeing in his schemes a higher purpose than mere hubris or lust for power. The vast majority, however, perceiving the festering darkness of his soul, sought to stymie his schemes, lending their swordarms to the virtuous lady-paladin, Karistyne, herself a loyal servant of the puissant archmage Tenser.
What Has Gone Before
Ultimately, in Blight on Bright Sands, Rary’s attempt to gain the items he needed to destroy the Scorpion Crown failed. Bands of meddling adventurers in the employ of the paladin Karistyne, thwarted Rary’s attempts to recover the items required to unmake the Scorpion Crown. The rest of this article presents the outcome of several of the adventures in the Blight on Bright Sands arc. In the interests of brevity, minor campaign consequences are not listed.
In COR5-11 Dark Deceit on Bright Sands the PCs discovered an ancient prophecy inscribed upon a scroll crafted from the skin of a gold dragon. The scroll seemed to speak of a time when the Scorpion Crown would be unmade.
In COR5-17 Time’s Tide on Bright Sands adventurers, using a portal located in the Tower of Sleep, traveled back to the last days of wicked Sulm to recover the Last Flower of Sulm. While there, they also rescued Ulma, a princess of Sulm and the keeper of the Last Flower of Sulm.
Adventurers following clues found in CORS5-02 Mines of the Eye sought and found the forgotten road to Azak-Zil (in COR5-20 Phantoms on Bright Sands). Shortly afterwards (in CORS6-02 Pits of Azak-Zil) many bands of adventurers, mercenaries and opportunists descended on the pits to gain control of the thinaun hidden therein. The undead lurking in the mines killed many of the brave and foolish and while neither side prevailed, both gained a portion of the precious metal.
During COR6-09 Beneath the Bright Sands adventurers recovered a scimitar of evil aspect and great power – the Bane of Itar – from the ruins of Sulm’s fallen capital, Utaa. After retrieving the weapon, the PCs returned it to Karistyne for safekeeping.
In COR6-13 Tears for Bright Sands adventurers searched the sunken ruins of Sennarae, capital of Itar, Sulm’s greatest enemy. There they uncovered the powerful good-aligned warhammer Goggorddu. After retrieving the weapon, the PCs returned it to Karistyne for safekeeping.
These two great weapons were finally destroyed deep below the festering ruins of Darkbridge Temple (COR6-16 Dominion over Bright Sands), denying Rary the ability to complete his ritual of unmaking. After the two weapons were destroyed, those loyal to Tenser returned to civilization to celebrate their success believing the affair over.
In the meantime, however, Rary has also been busy with political machinations. In early 597 uncertainty clouded the free city of Hardby’s true allegiance. While allied with her far more prosperous neighbor since the Greyhawk Wars the failing health of its Despotrix, Ilena Norbelos, led some to believe that Hardby would soon voluntarily enter the Empire of the Bright Sands. Adventurers working for Karistyne forestalled such events, however, when they provided a potion which kept the ailing Despotrix alive long enough to participate in a crucial vote. Days later she died, and was replaced by Deirdre Longland a strong proponent of alliance with Greyhawk. For now, Hardby stayed beyond Rary’s influence.
As soon became evident, though, thwarting the schemes of one of the Oerth’s most powerful wizards is not without risk. The following year, Karistyne was kidnapped and carried away to the near-mythical City of Brass. While Rary’s involvement was never proved, many observers are sure that he nefarious archmage was behind the paladin’s disappearance. Her kidnapping, while ultimately thwarted, was a reminder that while Rary had been defeated, he had not been rendered powerless and that he still ruled the Bright Empire with an iron fist. His resurgence caused many to wonder what new schemes the wizard was concocting secure in his impregnable tower in the Brass Hills.
Rise of the Ancients
Of course, after his defeat, Rary does not simply give up. He is too clever and too determined for that and he has too many allies yet loyal to his cause. Almost unmatched upon the face of the Oerth in terms of sheer magical power and knowledge he is convinced of the necessity of his scheme. He alone has the might, the command of ancient lore and rituals, and the will to carry through this most necessary of tasks.
Rary’s machinations continue in Rise of the Ancients a three-part core plot arc taking place in the Empire of the Bright Sands. Rise of the Ancients comprises COR8-05 Pyre of the Righteous, COR8-08 Ruins of Slumber and COR8-11 Restoration and Empire.