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
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
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
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
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.