(15th September 2009 - 22nd December 2009)
Originally from the Olshay range, Veng'stross arrived at the city of van Myrid too late to take part in the siege and battle. None the less he joined Medrina, Streng, Scalpel the Shinjiak martial artist and the priest Badal Chaining to fly on the back of Hamroth to the edge of the Gundrik forest to engage the last Elenorian army. In the fighting both he and Scalpel were killed almost immediately.
What happened next was remarkable. The thief Streng used the Key of Zalun to walk onto the Paths of the Dead and intercept both men's souls on their way to Limbo. Finding a way back he returned both souls to their bodies - and Scalpel and Veng'stross lived again, to find that Hamroth the Glaennyn had slain the entire Elenorian force. In the days following this, both discovered that they had been fundamentally changed. They were now immortal, and able to shift at will into the Paths of the Dead. They also had earned the emnity of all the Gods of Greyhawk and their priests, who were unwilling to let mortals have access to the levers of life and death.
He and Scalpel met Mandrend, a fellow immortal who warned them of how unpopular they were with the universe, and taught them better control of the shifting ability. Despite this warning, they were captured by Malakar while theoporting to Aldegarde to try and save Illeum Runesabre from being killed the void bomb he'd absorbed. Makalar tried to persaude them to murder the child Arviel, who was Illeum's only hope of survival. Still conflicted, the party headed for Limbo.
They were attacked several times on their journey, once by Keldrik Shadowfall, one of Illyanth's greatest generals, from whom Medrina and Veng'stross looted two powerful katanas. Veng'stross took Talkharus, a sword of sharpness made by Illyanth herself, and Medrina the Blade of the Moon, created by Andurien Willowstar herself.
On arrival in Limbo, they were greeted by Arviel who now revealed himself to be Hoqar, Lord of Limbo, a masquerade intended to save Illeum. Setting off back, they met G-Lest the Malakarian priest who slew Arviel/Hoqar with Malakarian Dark Fire and escaped. Veng'stross vowed to kill him one day. G-Lest then declared very public support of Queen Leandra, against the wishes of his own Archpriest and probably Malakar as well. He then played a master-stroke in proposing marriage to her, something she was very inclined to accept. It became clear, though, that he would have to choose between Malakar and Leandra.
Meanwhile, Streng ventured alone into Illyanth's demon-haunted palace to locate and rescue Willowstar, escaping with the aid of Hamroth by the skin of their teeth. On her return to Aldegarde, she healed Runesabre. Illeum then warned Leandra that if she married G-Lest the Malakarian priest, he, Illeum would kill G-Lest. The priest's response to this was to renounce his faith, burn his robes, and commit himself to Leandra's cause.
Illeum suggested now was the best time to attack Illyanth, and the party duly set off for her palace. Invading with immense care, the party placed the immortals on the Paths of the Dead to guard against attack from there, and it was there that the mad demon queen made her first move, attacking Medrina, Scalpel and Veng'stross. Medrina shifted back instantly, Scalpel attacked once and followed suit, but Veng'stross was an orc and orcs are stubborn and aggressive. He stood and fought, expecting to lose; but the Queen was weakened by the damage the Void and Streng's sling bullet had done her, and the orc's Double Strike went home, Talkharus slicing the mad queen in half. Her soul escaped, seeking a new host body, but Streng struck it with a Fireball and Illeum siezed it with a Trap the Soul.
Leandra was crowned and proclaimed G-Lest her consort; Veng'stross and the others watched the ex-priest carefully. Suspicions were lessened over subsequent days as several attempts by Malakarian assassins to kill him were barely foiled.
Reflecting over his art, Veng'stross asked of the queen a place to found an academy of the sword, following more closely the spirit of Ishtar the Sword Goddess than other sword cultists had before. After some research, he named it the Rihaj after the ancient schools of her day, and began to collect students, seeking for the spark of greatness in rich and poor rather than taking rich dilettantes. The first of all was a young man named Avelar, who had great natural potential. Exponents of the art of kenjutsu began to arrive, attracted by the legend of the slayer of Illyanth.
Some while later, Leandra set off on a royal progress of her kingdom, to bind it to her in the aftermath of the war, and the party accompanied her. Along the way they met the Darklander sword-saint Red Sun, who declared his desire also to join the Rihaj and accompanied them. Regular Malakarian attacks punctuated the trip, which rapidly became an excersise in survival rather than politics. Finally, two slain assassins yielded a pile of magical items, including a Ring of Regeneration, which G-Lest siezed, put on and would not relinquish, despite Medrina's telling him that it was a Malakarian trap. He was challenged again to discard it, and refused by going Invisible - at which point Veng'stross lightning drew on him and he, Scalpel and Badal Chaining fought G-Lest and killed him.
Leandra ordered the ring to be replaced to save her lover but it had disappeared - stolen imperceptibly by the thief Streng. G-Lest was gone, and his funeral was an occasion of mixed feelings. The next day, two strange demons appeared and - after an initial fight - announced they were seeking one Zepharina the Shadowmaker, and believed this to be Medrina. They served a demon called Sprawl apparently imprisoned by Ileum and wanted to enlist the party to free him. Nobody believed them and they were killed.
This section is quoted almost directly from Chappie's logs - couldn't have put it better myself...
Next morning they came upon a small village called Aglost on the edge of the great Myrid Plain. An abandoned shrine to Jarik existed and Badal Chaining tended to it at once. In the stables was a run down horse with great spiritual significance. Once a great beast it seemed to have lost the will to live. Veng could sense it just wanted to die.
Sir Manjar confronts Veng'stross and Madrina
Madrina cast ESP and sensed the horse couldn't get the idea of a great silver clad knight out of its head. After a night in the tavern spent in the hospitality of Palland they headed out to a hill where they discovered a small hut. Outside the hut was a set of glorious silver armour, not the garb of a religious paladin, this was the armour of a long forgotten people.
The Middenheimer greeted them in his underwear. A depressed, depressing man who called himself Sir Manjar; "I am the last true Midden Knight," he declared. It turned out he was almost suicidal because he heard his own horse talk. Sir Manjar was rude and – in most cases – downright racist towards Veng‘stross. It was clear that the Middenheimer had no time or tolerance for orcs.
Red Sun calmed the heated situation after the two squared up to each other. He persuaded the knight that Veng'stross really was the master of the Rihaj but the knight was not convinced. Madrina then got him to go to the tavern. Badal Chaining turned the knight’s ideology on it’s head with harsh words. In an impassioned speech he showed the last Middenheim knight the error of his words, the futility of his racist beliefs and the worth of not only the Rihaj but of Veng‘stross as a leader.
Humbled by the cutting words from the high priest the knight falls at Veng’stross' feet and begged for forgiveness. Veng ordered him to return to the Rihaj (not wanting the irritating man in his company) and prepare to train the students in mounted combat. Next day Sir Manjar, fully armed and resplendent in his plate mail, his horse similarly armoured, rode off west towards the Rihaj and his new life.
Veng'stross and Scalpel consider the Voiderflies
The next day, attacked by Elenorians, Scalpel and Veng’stross used the Paths of the Dead to sneak right into the Elenorians' camp and massacre them with a combination of whirlwind attack and unarmed skill. The sole survivor, Len, was questioned and then bound to serve Veng’stross for a year and day - after which he'd be offered training in the Rihaj if he wanted it. One of his most useful warnings was to beware the Black Wings, butterflies that apparently killed without trace. Two days later, intercepting a carter smuggling dead bodies led them to the Void-witch Bassattra, who believed herself to hate Malakar while being his puppet. The perception of this led Veng’stross to inadvisedly attack her, a move which cost him not only Talkharus but his own katana Morgenstern. It was left to Red Sun to kill the witch. Medrina generously lent Veng’stross her own plain but functional katana.
Reaching Junction Town, yet another Malakarian assassin attacked them, and his body yielded a magical poisoned shortsword - a venomblade. Streng took it, but was unwilling to consider using it.
The beginning of the end was their meeting with the archdemon Mardrak. This demon, once in charge of Illyanth's palace security, insisted that he should have been freed by her death, but had not - and that her soul was trapped in Veng’stross' body. Persauded that this was not the case, he decided to travel with the party to seek answers. Equipped with no magical weapons that could harm him, and deprived of the magic of Medrina and Badal who had remained in Junction Town, they couldn't refuse, and so he joined the progress. Of course, it was all a ruse. Overnight, he took control of the entire honour guard of Bretonians and Myrrids and turned them on the party without any warning. Veng’stross was the first to die and Scalpel the only survivor of the disaster that followed.