Gurthar's Eldest Sister

Gurthark as a Boy


Gurthark grew up as a quiet little boy, but trouble seemed to follow him. He had always been bossed around. First by his mother, then by his eldest sister, and even when Gurthark grew to manhood, he was given grief, especially by Mirik the Lean, his avaricious brother-in-law. Although Mirik's opinion of Gurthark was distastefully low, he was merciful enough to grant him a lowly position in his merchantile firm. All the bossing about gave Gurthark the constant feeling that someone, somewhere was on the verge of telling him what to do. Gurthark found his consolation in the wealth he slowly amassed, a nest egg ensuring his independence.

Gurthark's last task was carrying a wagon-load of silk coverlets to Mirik's Accardi merchantile store in the south (c. 957-966 GUE). The pleasant countryside made Gurthark forget his cares. One thing that made the trip particularly enjoyable was the passenger Mirik had taken on, a beautiful young woman named Acia, who was journeying to the bedside of her ailing grandmother. He was envious of the scout named Ryker who had been hired to protect the goods. They also picked up two more passengers, the famous magician Frobwit the Fair and his apprentice Dirinthrax.  Gurthark was honored to have Frobwit sit beside him.

One night the caravan pitched camp near the boundaries of Egreth Forest. Ryker, having detected something about the campsite, left to investigate. It was the young woman Lia, in the guise of a boy named Lim. Ryker permitted him to join the caravan in exchange for tending to the donkeys. Gurthark, who was in charge of the caravan, was outraged that Ryker attempted to bring on anyone he pleased. Yet Gurthark passively muttered something about Mirik not minding.

That night, Frobwit was awakened by an anguished scream even louder this his snores. For Radnor, wishing to apprehend the Amulet of Egreth, sent a troop of night gaunts to abduct Acia whom they presumed had the jewel (she had in fact dropped it almost immediately after stealing it from Lia). Dirinthrax, who had went after Acia in the form of a bird, was also missing. And Ryker was knocked out cold, much to Gurthark’s distaste.

Ryker was determined to rescue the beautiful maiden. When Gurthark was hesitant to accompany them, Frobwit augured the outcome of the mission, understanding that fabulous would come to the one who saved Acia. He felt he could never add enough riches to his cache. This was the only reason that altered Gurthark’s decision to stay behind, although as they set off for the castle, he was torn between the riches ahead and the cozy campfire left behind. Lia was commissioned to stay before to watch the goods and guard the secluded campsite.

On their journey towards the castle, they spied a group of night gaunts heading straight toward them. Frobwit, intending to transform the slimy creatures into a clump of bozberry bushes instead transformed himself along with Ryker and Gurthark into them. As bozberry bushes are the night gaunts favorite food, the trio was nearly consumed, but the creatures were drawn away by their orders. Afterward the companions reverted to their human forms.

The first task of entering Egreth Castle involved crossing the expansive moat. Ryker fashioned a sturdy oar by severing the branch of a tree. Frobwit conjured up a boat from the trunk of an old oak tree, which was little more than a large bucket. They climbed into the ridiculous boat and crossed the moat to the castle. The trio reached the embankment safe and sound; no one seemed to have noticed them.

Frobwit attempted to use a levitation spell to reach an upper window, but ended up floating too high and instead clung to one of the crenellations. Ryker and the terrified Gurthark climbed up to the window using a rope which Frobwit threw down to them. They left Frobwit to tackle with the roof.

Egreth Castle was dark and gloomy, too dark and miserable for Gurthark. Ryker suggested that they split up to search. Gurthark was not thrilled with Ryker’s plan, but drowning in anxiety, he took the lower floors while Ryker proceeded to check the towers. Frobwit’s prediction of wealth for the rescuer of Acia was the only thing that kept him from running right back to the campsite.

Eventually Gurthark came to the Egreth treasury. Within lay riches beyond his wildest dreams. Like a child let loose in a toy store, he could not decide what he wanted. He picked up treasure after treasure, draping himself with jewels, filling his arms with golden goblets and bags of coins until he was so weighted down with plunder that he could hardly move. Painfully, he rid himself of all but a pocketful of jewels and a golden goblet. Then he left to find Ryker and Frobwit.

Rounding a corner in the dank corridors, he was startled to see Acia apprehended by a troll. Tossing a gold goblet, the beast was felled by Gurthark’s unusually-luck throw in the head. While discussing on how to escape from the castle, a strange vapor enfolded around Acia, imprisoning her in a bubble. It began to drift away.

Gurthark halfheartedly wandered about, searching for Acia. His path led him back to the treasure room. Little did the man no, but the crystal ball he discovered there was actually the prison for the evil magician Radnor, who in the meantime, had had his essence trapped inside by Frobwit. Elsewhere in the castle, Thorman the Red-beard restored Egreth to its former glory. In the process, the treasure room was magically renovated. The crystal ball sought to escape from his grasp. As Gurthark lunged for the crystal ball, he found himself caught up in a fantastic whirlwind. He was pulled into the main vault of the castle where the treasures were returned to the ornate chests that had once held them. Before leaving, Gurthark helped himself to a sack of treasure and placed the crystal ball in the sack beside the riches.

The man suddenly felt some sort of magic working on him. Bewildered, Gurthark was reunited with his friends in the throne room. His companions had defeated Radnor, saved Acia, and learned that Dirinthrax was the rightful heir of Egreth.

The small caravan continued on its way from Egreth, leaving behind two of their number Dirinthrax and Lia, as the new rulers of Egreth. The other members of the caravan were unaware that Gurthark’s crystal ball was the same one which they had imprisoned Radnor within. The sorcerer’s malevolent force, concentrated in this small sphere, would burst out in fits of rage, wreaking havoc upon those around him. There was a series of seven evils which had been prophesied to emit from the orb.

The witch Moog, who was seeking to have Radnor’s crystal ball in her possession, desired to lead the caravan towards Pheebor. Incanting a road sign changing spell, she altered the nearest sign to read “Borphee” instead of “Pheebor.” Although Ryker suspected the sign was incorrect, they were deceived into trekking the road towards Pheebor.

Later that day, the first peril commenced—an eerie light emanated from the ball, fabricating a flock of giant corbies from nowhere. One snatched Frobwit out of the wagon, carrying him far away. Ryker bravely fought off the winged aggressors with his long bow. They searched for Frobwit but were unable to determine his whereabouts.

The caravan resumed its journey, travelling through the night and into the next morning, when the second peril of the crystal ball caused Acia to suddenly grow desperately ill. Her conscious quickly slipped away. Ryker had seen the strange pallor before and knew that some deadly magic had caused the illness. The only thing that could save her was the magical gumpwort fungus. He left for the nearby mesa where he knew it was located.

While Ryker was away, the next of Radnor’s curses set fire to the silken coverlets in the wagon which Gurthark was taking to market. He managed to put out the fire, but more than half the cargo was destroyed. The man grew terribly fretful.

When Ryker returned to the campsite where Gurthark and Acia were, the gumpwort fungi swiftly did its work and Acia was brought back to consciousness. Once she was better the caravan departed. As dawn broken, they turned down an overgrown path heading southeast. By mid-morning the travelers had reached the shore of the great Borphee River. The ferryman was Ryker’s uncle, Ozark. They set sail on his boat for Accardi-by-the-Sea.

Gurthark relaxed in the warm sunshine by doing a little fishing, when a sea serpent caught hold of his line, pulling him into the dark waters of the river. He held his breath as the monster dragged him far downstream. He was yanked forward as the serpent came to an abrupt halt. In a final, desperate attempt at survival, Gurthark blinded the beast by kicking it forcefully in the eyes with both feet. Fleeing the wounded monster, he was caught up in the swift undercurrent.

An immense, hairy objected loomed before him. It was the body of the lum ox, the same beast which Ryker had killed in order to gain the gumpfort fungus. Gurthark clambered up it, gasping for breath. Suddenly a strange fog followed across the river. A fantastic boat carrying the elfin princess Myla materialized out of the fog. She had been sent by her father to find someone who could defeat the cyclops which had been threatening the Elfin Kingdom. He had never seen a woman as beautiful as Myla; her sweet smile was incomparable. At Egreth Castle, Gurthark had experienced bravery and courage for the first time in his life. Here, an equally unfamiliar emotion swept through him.

The elfin and human communications were limited by the language barriers (she only spoke in the elfin tongue), and Myla assumed that Gurthark had been the one to have slain the lum ox. Sensing him to be a great warrior, her invitations to vanquish the cyclops were mistaken by Gurthark as an offer to take him to shore. At her gestured bidding, Gurthark wrenched off the lum ox's ivory horns then accepted a ride.

Unknown to Gurthark, but Myla brought him to the Kingdom of the Elves where after great battles, and much hardship, it was free from peril. The details of this event are wanting, but many seasons passed before Gurthark saw his friends again. There is heavy speculation that Myla, being a virgin of marriageable age, found this man worthy enough to have her hand in marriage.