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The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords – PART TWO
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Recap: Heroes from afar, even other worlds, have come to the Halls of the Thane, most via the wizard Tizun Thane's portal-mirrors. The courageous heroes defeat invading hordes of the goblin king - but discover that the surrounding province of Ulek has been insidiously infiltrated. It is now ruled by traitorous thralls of East Ulek – not a benevolent 'economic community', but secretly an orcish empire of evil!

However, hope remains: the
Fierce Axe - the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords! It has the power to unite the Dwarven folk, and bring them all together against their foes. The demonic Abomination of Diirinka has been manifesting, a sure sign the Axe is abroad – but in enemy hands. The hands of Goblin-King Akhil GreatAxe...

--------------------

ORIGOL CRITICIZES FARADIN'S COMBAT STYLE

You must have noticed, Captain! His fighting-style was wrong, like a rank amateur who'd never wielded axe afore!” ranted Origol the dwarf priest, Lord Faradin's spiritual advisor. “He did nothing to the gobbo king - just stood there! But for my axe-cast, and that explosion, Faradin would now be dead and the battle lost! Afore that, aye, he bested many gobboes – but not with his axe. Many fled, went mad or just fell, dead. It was more like... like magic!” The priest's face was by now a deep red.
“Axe-Father, Lord Faradin killed many goblinz, put more to flight, and defeated their king.”, Corith Rune-Axe replied, in defence of his Lord. “Has he mayhap gained more powers from ze Father of Battle, or ze Mirrors? If you azk, he muzt tell
you, straight away, Your Graze...”.
“Well, perhaps...” says Origol, calming slightly. “Yes, indeed I will. Follow me, Captain!” and he marches out, Corith falling-in right behind.

The two find the dwarf-lord in the Hall of Mirrors, as so often lately, heavy with incense. Priest Origol immediately demands to know what powers Faradin used to defeat the goblins.
“It is well you ask so directly.” says Faradin Thane, fixing Origol with steely gaze. “You are most valuable, Origol – the
Final Key, I gather – and must not be... lost.”
“I, er... what?” Origol starts to reply, suddenly concerned, instinctively reaching for the holy symbol medallion round his neck. But from behind Corith strongly seizes his arm.
A strange look fills Faradin's face: “
Yamanu-ilma, I command you! Take this dwarf and keep it safe from all harm!he intones. At once Origol is slammed by an intense blast of wind, from no visible source, incense smoke swirling around. Lifted and pounded seemingly by the air itself, Origol fades... “Return to me its harness, gear – and beard.continues Faradin Thane. And the priest is gone.

The dwarven Thane continues an eldritch chant for hours over Origol's snow-packed field plate armour, clump of light brown hair inside, while Captain Corith guards the doors outside. At long last Faradin Thane emerges – followed by a lumbering Origol. Then the dwarf-lord makes a pronouncement to the gathered residents of the Halls.
“His Noble Grace Axe-Father Origol has performed a holy ritual which formally and irrevocably confirms myself, in the person of your Lord Faradin, as the Chosen One of Clanggedin Silverbeard, Father of Battle. This has granted new miraculous powers to myself, but has cost His Noble Grace much spiritual effort. He is therefore not to be overly taxed or unnecessarily disturbed. As I am now the holy avatar of your god, my orders are to be obeyed without question. Anyone expressing doubt of my judgement is guilty of blasphemy and any of you hearing such must immediately cut down the blasphemer or be damned. Now return to your duties.
Dismissed.”

--------------------

SIC TRANSIT CLAUDIA NOVA

“That sounds perfickly within reason and Dwarven law!” says Captain Grmok as the crowd disperses. But many are not so sure and depart nervous and fearful, yet close-mouthed. Self-reliant enchantress Claudia Nova is certain, however – and determined to leave the Halls as soon as possible.

Later that night she surreptitiously returns to the Mirror Hall doors. Though barred and locked, by Thane's order, they are no barrier to 'Mistress Knocker'. Once inside the dusty chamber she goes directly to the large mirror opposite and pulls off its covering tapestry, which falls with a dull thump billowing dust all around. Already wearing the travel-ring of her own make, the mirror shows to her sight a scene of far-away Kendra, in Keoland – home!

Then she spots something odd nearby: a 'hole' in the swirling dust – shaped as a diminutive manikin... a shade-image, lurking like a shadow. Mistress Nova gasps and leaps for the mirror. The dust-shape jerks; Faradin Thane appears in its place, completing a mystical pass – and the mirror-scene blazes with sudden fiery lava. Claudia twists backward, madly trying to stop herself, mid-transition; her ring explodes in green lightning. To normal sight, the mirror shows naught but the dusty room, as ever. But now also reflects half the would-be traveller, oddly bisected by its surface, right hip to left temple. It leaves a bloody trail as she slips down the glass, eyes flicking and part-mouth flapping. The carcass slumps to the floor, spilling giblets and gore, arm and charred hand flopping backward. Her eyes stop and stare upward, lifeless.

The dwarven Thane's cold grey eyes glint like sparks of sword steel, mouth twisted in evil amusement. “Enchantment wrought less craftily than mine own, mayhap. Now with all thyself, forgotten in the silent worlds of death. Yet thou canst let others learn: Her skeleton will lie in the chamber forever.” And he utters a strange high-pitched cruel laugh.

--------------------

THE FORTIFICATION OF FOGHOLLOW

Victorious general, Sword-Lord Zelinus, is carried shoulder-high (about 3ft) around the town of Foghollow by grateful dwarven soldiery. But the ceremony is melancholy, not joyous as before, due to the many dwarves lost. Often they stop as Zel invokes holy healing to the most seriously injured, and speaks words of respect over the honoured fallen.

Before long, atop a hill west of town, the body of intended-bride Runa Morklist is found with those of her honour-guard – horribly drained of life, as were victims of the Abomination in battle. Her father, clan-head Starag Morklist immediately initiates extended mourning with ritual weeping. The Morklists march slowly away southwest, carrying their dead home to their hold. Intended-groom Durrl Filwhyr tries to join them but is turned away with threatening glares and growls: the feud continues. He pauses briefly, then begins briskly giving orders for other burials – and fortification.

Pragmatic deals are swiftly struck, and outer-lying dwarven homes pulled down – the stone blocks carried and used to fill gaps between those closer-in. By dark, a squat wall has begun rising along the new north edge of town. Masons in charge ask Zelinus what form the chapel to his goddess should take; jewellers ask how she wears her hair.

Within the week all is completed.

-------------------

A NOBLE LORD'S EXILE & FLIGHT FROM THE HALLS

Noble Lord Guthwin of Huric finally returns to the Halls, weary and disconsolate, bearing grievous tidings: the fall of one paladin, one kingdom – one civilization. Riding his equally-weary steed Lightning through the portal-mirror, he notes with dread the horrific remains of Mistress Claudia left to rot. He is at once on guard. Evil has preceded him.

Hearing from the mirror-hall door-guard of the battle won, his relief is short-lived. A brief exchange with that odd mage, Zapp, redoubles the Air-Priest's concerns as they hurry to hear the Divine Faradin Thane's latest pronouncement in the throne room. “What news of Cantabria, Father?” “Lost, to Evil. What of these Halls?” “Likewise.” Quickly asking the Lord of Sky & Air for guidance, he enters.

“...forever. A lesson to spies who wouldst leave without my permission.” the Thane concludes, to fearful silence from the gathered stony-faced dwarves. Flanking the oversized throne, his Captain and Priest lead forced applause. It dies at once as Guthwin boldly steps forth to bow.
“Your Divine Magnificence,” he begins, “I would have such leave. I am no spy but, dutiful to Mighty Ukko, must depart to consecrate a place for his worship. These Halls are not suitably purified, as those sworn to do so have not yet
got around to it.”, glancing sidelong at Sword-Father Clave – who immediately flares. “Why you jumped-up little...!the Sif-ite snarls, before etiquette masters his temper.

The Thane is amused. “Very well, priest. You have Our leave to depart. Take what you need.”
“Your Magnanimous Divinity is most generous,” Guthwin replies. “With goblin hordes abroad I will need guards. I will take these mercenaries...” he says, sweeping a hand to include all those who previously served Makhan, “...and gift Your Divine Presence with
four thousand silver pieces in return...”, which tremendous sum brings gasps from Cantabrians present, “...and I do swear to return with them to defeat any evil forces threatening these Halls.” This brings an excited babble of approval from the crowd – but stony silence from the throne.
The Thane is not amused. His cold grey eyes glare like sparks off steel. “Go, priest. Go
now.”

Leading a column of happily-marching heavily-armed dwarven troops, Noble Lord Guthwin of Huric finally rides out of the Halls, but now with weariness dispelled by determination – to defeat Evil.

-

With all eyes on the Air-Priest's retinue departing from the Hall's front door, no-one sees the flight of three others from a back window, covered by magical protection, non-detection and invisibility...

-------------------

THE NEWS AT THRUNCH

“...slaughtered by religious extremists, whose leader – a human fanatic called 'Lord Zell' – is believed to be thrall of an other-world war-demon.” sang Corky Snobbin of the Bardic Brothers Company, to the crowd gathered outside Thrunch City Hall. “The general responsible has been relieved of his command.” the wild-eyed bald dwarf continues.
“It's not all bad news, though. Here on the podium with me is Mayor Cluggin, our Secondary Minister, to say a few words...”

“I agree with Corky,” says Cluggin. “Lessons will be learned. To head-up an Inquiry, I have already recruited the militarily-experienced Commissioner Aliz Kleinkey (for a very reasonable 'Golden Hello'). His Inquiry will be very swift, thorough-going and cost-effective – barely more than 3... er, 5 Gold Forges per citizen – and will show conclusively that this Government's reforms need to go further. Now our state is the modern
United Provinces of Ulek, no longer an outdated 'Principality', more old regiments must be replaced by the new Army Reserve, better-suited to tackle this sort of banditry in the modern post-Hateful world of the peaceful Economic Ulek Union. I am working hard to ensure these reforms are implemented straight away!”

“Thank you, Secondary Minister. And now more Good News...!” chirrups Snobbin. “His Serene Highness, Prince Olinstaad has commanded work on the new 'Highway of Speed To' East Ulek start immediately!” He pauses for cheers - but hurries on to fill the silence. “Primary Minister Kamrin said 'It'll cost only 100 Gold Forges per citizen – what a bargain!'. In further announcements, our tireless P.M. has also
pinky-swear promised to hold a referendum, which some stupid, wrong and noisy citizens seem to want, with the simple question 'Should our Provinces be United?'. Don't we all hope those silly-billies now finally shut up!” he japes.

Then, winding-up: “And in local headlines: Economic Boom looms as eager migrant workers march in; Magical Drones tested to monitor intolerant citizens; Apprentice Loans sold to Scarlet Brotherhood charity; Over-occupancy evictions ease housing crisis; Active Citizens Network recruitment makes swift progress.”
“Now for a special announcement by long-time Bardic Brotherhood Company treasure, Easterna Rantson.” the baldy Snobbin concludes, smirking at a private joke, “
And finally, Easterna...?

And finally, Corky...” the curly-bearded dwarf-crone smirks in reply, then instantly turns serious: “All the years I knew Jimeuz Vile was a demonic monster, in the heart of our Company, I wished there had been a law forcing me to tell someone.” she confides to the crowd. “I hope there soon will be.” she adds, looking sidelong at the departing Cluggin, who adopts a serious expression and nods as if caring. “Until then, in readiness...” the elderly dwarf-woman continues, brightening “...my organization – 'Evil-Line' – is expanding to hear reports of any sort of evil-doing. Not just baby-eating, but all forms of cannibalism – even of old folk! We want to hear about any signs of demonocracy, like intolerance, to help stamp it out. So, please, if you see anything like that... DON'T TELL ANYONE! Except my special friends at Evil-Line, or in the Bardic Brothers Company or your local street's Active Citizen Representative. Remember, tittle-tattling to others could be slander: a crime carrying a heavy fine. That would be a shame when you only want to help, and be a model citizen. Just like everyone else in your street - unless, of course, you know different? Good Night!”

And the crowd disperse as their beloved dwarven granny-figure grins and waves from the podium, to reassuringly familiar strains of Corky Snobbin's troubadour horn...

-------------------

CEREMONY IN FOGHOLLOW

Noble Lord Guthwin rides up to Foghollow's makeshift town gates leading the dwarven mercenaries, now marching not-so happily. On the trail from the Halls they had discovered the remains of many Thrunchian dwarves, and given them what decent burials they could. Swathes of the retreating goblin hordes indicated they combined and went West, towards Thrunch.

Soldiers from the now-combined 38th & 99th Thrunch recount how traitor-general Kleinkey had ordered two other regiments from his 'Peace Force', the 5th and 71st, northward to the Halls – to suffer the ill fate of ambush by Red Orcs from Goblin-king Akhil's army, it appears. The heaps of orc dead found near the site by the dwarf-merc scouts are some consolation but not much.

However, the mood soon brightens. Makhan joyfully greets his Mercenary band and priest Guthwin addresses him: “Master Flint, I hereby formally relinquish these troops back to your command. Though I do so on the understanding you will allow them to return with myself to liberate the Thane Halls from Evil, as I am so sworn. The terrible and insidious nature of said Evil I must discuss with you privately and at length... er, are you listening?”

But it's clear Makhan is not listening. Determinedly greeting his way through clamouring ranks, he reaches Scout Gimlis hiding at the rear. He takes her hands and whispers in her ear. She nods, now smiling. Makhan turns to his onlooking troops: “An' my first order is this –
Carry my Bride to the Temple! At the double!Huge cheers erupt from the gathered mercs as deeply-blushing Gimlis is hoisted aloft. Through the town gates, Makhan leads the quick-marching procession straight to the temple of Berronar...

When there, Filwhyr-clan matriarch Cliara firmly ushers Gimlis to a side-room, despite Makhan's protests. He is forced to wait, but Curate Durrl embraces him, and hands him two silver rings; then they wait together in knowing silence. Meanwhile mage-mayor Sharwynd and the elves Geradil, Quidderil and newly-arrived Evalin and Arnumielle, rush around to magic-up suitable decorations under direction of dwarven High Priestess Arlinna; Evalin looks hard at Makhan, then makes a mystical pass that smartens him slightly.

After a minute or two, wizened matriarch Cliara re-emerges but all eyes turn to her most splendid companion - garbed in flowing white dress of finest fabric and furs, ceremonial full helm adorned with jewels, and modest bouquet of spring flowers.
Makhan stares. The gathered congregation falls suddenly silent, watching the bride glide gracefully toward the altar on their left, hardly any noticing the groom stumbling along on their right. There, before High and handmaiden Priestesses, twin rings are goddess-blessed and given, and vows exchanged – once Makhan, agape and dumb-struck at Gimlis' beauty on opening her visor, finally recovers his voice. As the celebrations go on late into the night, in a palatial pavilion of silk which appears on the town square and amidst somewhat unusual melodramatic fireworks from the elves, he can only look into her eyes and say “I do”.

-------------------

SEVEN KEYS TO CLANGGEDIN'S SEAT

After the departure of Mage Zapp from the Halls, the Thane takes inventory. He finds the Wish Ring empty, in a small chest with some beruned papers and five rods: gold, silver and 3 other metals. The simulacrum of dwarf-priest Origol is summoned to his presence, and commanded to divulge related memories it retains from the original.

“Lord Faradin used the last Wish,” intones pseudo-Origol, “... to bring him the keys of Clanggedin's Seat – our second greatest dwarven city, centuries lost. Those rods are five of the keys. With those keys, he hoped to unseal the city and restore that dwarven kingdom. However, Origol... I...” the creature hesitates, “... felt obliged to tell Faradin the truth.”

“What truth?”, the Thane asks.

“There is no city.” replies his creation. “Clanggedin's Seat was sealed a thousand years ago when sore-pressed by the giants' invasion, which also destroyed the human kingdom of Cantabria. When the giants were defeated and fled from the land, dwarven priests came from the other cities to unseal it. The rituals are well-known. However nothing happened. It was found the city was gone - lost forever. This is the hidden truth which Thingol, Sage-Priest of Dumathoin reported to Origol... me... in Faradin's absence, years ago.”

Hidden truth?”, presses the Thane.

The permanent loss of an entire city would be a terrible blow to the spirit of dwarven folk.” the imitation continues. “Tales were told it would open only to the Chosen One, or to the Fierce Axe, or some such – so the hope of the people would live on. Over generations, the truth suppressed, even its location was forgotten. Some now even believe it was closed due to economy, not enemy assault. In a similar way, Origol... I... withheld some of Thingol's report from Faradin. Until recently, when he wished for the keys - and received those rods.”

The simulacrum pauses, then: “I... Origol... had been right to withhold that knowledge. Once Lord Faradin learned the truth, a great weariness came upon him. As he put it, 'a strangeness and longing beyond life's longings'. And soon after, he went to the mirrors of Tizun Thane – your mirrors, my master.” Suddenly angered, the Thane orders his creation back to its quarters.

-------------------

A FESTIVE WISH

“Dem wasps wuzz
baad!”, grumbles N'Grunnj Half-ogre, as he and the elven mages recover from their 'firework display' after the dwarf wedding. “Felt like they wuzz tryna suck uzz brainz out!”
“We are
so lucky to have you with us - you're virtually invulnerable to such attacks, Grunjy.” replies Arnumielle Starshadow, swishing her fine gold hair and knowingly widening her violet, slanted eyes at the others as N'Grunnj looks shyly away.
“Lucky the wasps were vulnerable to our fire spells, like normal ones,” says Evalin, the diminutive half-elven magician formerly known as Mage Jack Zapp. “Or they might have spoiled the celebrations.”
“They were not natural creatures.” adds Geradil Courana, druid-elf of the Hepmona jungles, “Created by foul unnatural sorcery, for sure!”
“Sir Geradil, not
all 'sorcery' as you call it, is foul or unnatural-”, Evalin begins to object, but...
“What does it matter, anyway?” interrupts Quidderil Lightfinger, the filcher-mage. “Speaking of
powerful magic though, shouldn't we slip back to the Halls and pick up that Wish-ring? Better not leave that in the possession of Faradin, or whatever sort of fiend he's become now!” (At this Arnumielle shifts awkwardly, Geradil notes).
“No point. No magic left in it.” replies Evalin. “Sorry to disappoint you but my detection was clear. I saw the discharged ring in a chest with some faintly-magic rods. My guess is Faradin – the
real one – couldn't resist using the ring and wished for the 'keys' he needed to unseal that dwarf-city under his Hold. The keys are rods, just like that – hang on, I copied the details...”

Evalin's short search produces a sheet of parchment showing details of the key-stones and the caverns.

“It's an interesting problem, but perhaps academic now.” he continues, as the curious elves gather round to look - and the half-ogre momentarily glances.
“Each key-stone pedestal is numbered and has a slot for a key-rod and three runes. Chambers 2 and 3 of the six have not yet been found so far. Wish I knew their runes! The top ones are simple pictoglyphs indicating one of the six dwarf gods. The other runes are more interesting, of a type I've never seen before...”
What?blurts Geradil, in disbelief. “You really don't recognise them? They must be the most well-known runes on Oerth!”

And through the night, with their guilefully cunning inhuman intellects, the elves ruthlessly deduce and decipher the runes...

-

Geradil names the runes unknown (to Cantabrians) and Evalin recalls the metals of the 5 rods (Gold, Silver, Platinum, Iron, Steel), so the party can identify them. (Runes known thus far). Then Geradil lists other Greyhawk runes, so the party can try to work out what the remaining runes may be. (Runes of Greyhawk).

From the shadows, previously unnoticed grey elf Findecano Arcamenel suggests Truth, Trickery & Copper: Berronar Truesilver being the dwarf goddess' full name; Abbathor being of nefarious repute, and copper being the other monetary metal.

However the others are unconvinced. "But there was no copper rod with the others. Faradin apparently Wished for the keys, yet only received five. Why?" wonders Mage Evalin, and War-priest Grokhoin also demurs: "Not 'nefarious'! Though somewhat obsessive, the Trove Lord is a loyal member of the Morndinsamman, Moradin's divine family. His followers are steadfast allies against enemies of dwarfkind. Abbathor's dedicated priests would not ascribe Trickery to him - nor claim for him so lowly a metal as copper, I'd warrant."

-

Elf warrior-mage Kayentelva, from the far ancient world of Ghinor, makes a suggestion: “I know I'm not really a part of this but I'll guess. Would the rune for Berronar be house as in the safety of home (is a house?), the rune for Abbathor be Darkness and the metal be Electrum?”

"Home!" exclaims dwarf-priest Grokhoin, "Yes, of course that must be it - what better principle for our beloved hearth goddess?" he says, to much nodding and general approval from all dwarves present. "But noble Abbathor is not associated with darkness..."
"...and electrum still wouldn't explain the missing rod..." interrupts Evalin, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

-

The War-Priest declaims the continuing denigration of one of his pantheon. “I will not hear more of this! Noble Abbathor is loyal to Moradin. Over him, the All-Father chose the Silent Keeper Dumathoin as Protector of the Mountain Dwarves - and Abbathor has remained true, despite himself greatly coveting that honour. Blood is thicker than water!”

At that, Evalin leaps suddenly up. “I have it!” he exclaims. “The Wish did not bring Faradin a sixth 'metal' - because it was already in his... possession. The slot is vertical, about a pint in volume. Oh – and did I mention - the tunnel to the Abbathor chamber is guarded by vampires...?”, he grins and looks around at the gathered party-members, as if all were now made quite plain.

Is the 'metal' blood and the rune honour?” replies Kayentelva. Evalin keeps smiling and looks to the dwarven high priest – as do all.

“Ah, Honour – of course! How fitting.” pronounces Grokhoin, “Aye, and Blood – metallic and most valuable, that which binds us together! How vital the unusual insights of Lord Abbathor can be...”

Under Geradil's guidance, Evalin sketches-in the final runes; that for blood being represented by the sigil more commonly called Death: Clanggedin's Seat – Runes of Opening.

-------------------

RETURN TO THE TOMB OF HORRORS

The wide-gaping mouth of the great green devil-face opened onto a Promethean city of slender towers, thrusting up from an impenetrable abyss of darkness, spread out below an ominous skyscape of roiling black clouds, periodically limned with silent electrical discharges of unimaginable magnitude. Most party members had already gone through and dropped to an intersection of the thin bridges connecting nearby towers. However, the instant his metal hand reached in, the Sphere snapped back to absolute blackness and Ferric was immediately sucked into the void.

In that last moment myriad thoughts flashed through his brilliant, but wasted, mind: a lifetime of decadent wickedness, a career of mocking betrayal, nudging heroes into failure and irrelevance. Then finally, when that pious paladin's quest could be delayed no longer, he was ordered to go too – and ensure no interference with Lord Acererak's plans or the Dark Intrusion.

Sword-Lord Zelinus and brave companions had ridden back to the Thane's Halls, to destroy the demonic Shadow Dancers.
'Fools', Ferric sneered.
Sword-Father Clave, after long devotions and detailed divinations, announced “Our Divine Lady has revealed to me how to open the way. It's necessary to use of the two now-reunited halves of the Amulet of the Void and the dusty remains, or 'form', of the dread demi-lich. We must...”
'Windbag', thought the half-elf.
Then Ferric had breezed in and hurled his backpack onto the table, sending items carefully placed there flying. “Yes, yes, yes – it's obvious.” he interrupted, “Touch the amulet to the green face, sprinkle lich-dust over us, and pop through. Simples! Stop wasting time, let's go.” Clave had scowled, but nodded confirmation.
'Oh witty me!', the mage congratulated himself.
After passing through the mirror, excavating the Tomb mound, and carefully traversing the lurid trap-laden corridor, they had reached the green devil-face. Touching the amulet to this frame turned the infamous mouth-sphere into a portal onto the dark, cloudy actinic-lit city of towers.
'Moil – accursed by Orcus', he recalled, 'Way-station to the Fortress of Conclusion'.
Lich-dust scattered over all, they jumped one-by-one. Pretty Arnumielle said “A kiss for luck”, embraced Ferric passionately, removed a hair-strand from his dandy finery with a cantrip, and asked “Do you want to live forever...?” as she rolled backward through the mouth-portal with a seductive wink.
'Clever girl', Ferric now realises - too late.

So he followed her
[WISx5(50%):51 – Fail], sucked into the most notorious Sphere of nothingness. As the multiverse-hole ends his existence, Ferric feels Clave's grasp [WISx5(90%):96 – Fail; DEXx2(30%):17 - Success], an instinctively brave but vain and suicidal rescue bid. 'At least that ####### do-gooder goes with me...', then - Annihilation. Gone and utterly destroyed.

-------------------

KNOWLEDGE FROM THE TOMB

Their way blocked by the Tomb of Horrors' great green devil-face and its infamous black 'mouth', would-be questers return home. Elf warrior-mage Kayen Telva carefully brings the hawk familiar of the iron-limbed half-elf whose surprise annihilation thwarted their mission. Wotsisname (Ironic Ferrous-arm?) will have no further need of it, for certain.

Back in Foghollow, Mage Evalin is persuaded to perform the ritual bonding the bird as familiar to Kayentelva. “I thought you had a familiar already – that other hawk?” Evalin had protested. “No, that's Dray – he just hangs around. He's a paladin, you know.” Kayentelva replied. Mage Evalin looked quizzically from one to the other, then, shrugging, stoked-up the brazier of herbs and began the lengthy incantations. After many hours, the bond is made.

In following days Kayentelva is pleased to discover, as he had hoped, the hawk retains memory of some of its former master's spells:
Charm Person, Mending, Continual Light, and Wizard Eye. Charm he already knows, and he comes to understand the others after considering them for 3 days, 5 days and, astoundingly, just 1 day respectively! Thus he is somewhat reconciled with others of his repertoire seemingly not functioning on this plane, leaving him with: (1st) Sleep, Unseen Servant, Magic Missile, Light, Feather Fall, Detect Magic/Identify, Charm Person, Mending; (2nd) Invisibility, Stinking Cloud, Web, Continual Light; (3rd) Dispell Magic, Fire Ball; and now (4th) Wizard Eye. Fifteen spells – comfortably encompassed by his intellect and fetish-bow, without even recourse to the mental capacity of his new familiar (with whom paladin-hawk Dray converses quite amicably).

However, he is disturbed to discover other knowledge the bird has retained from its ex-master, whom it thinks of not as Ferric but as
Angarauko'Iron Devil', in elvish. Kayentelva is unfamiliar with the persons and places involved, so discusses these memories at length with Mage Evalin, whose home-world they concern. And Evalin is indeed most concerned.

-------------------

FOR YOU, THE QUEST IS OVER

Some heroes did not ride back from Foghollow with Zelinus, but made their way on foot. Sir Geradil Courana, Drac Ular the Archer,
Dan the Dwarf, Absinthé the Bardess and Schikell Jayess follow a forest trail, keeping off the main track to avoid goblin troops, as suggested by the cunning grey elf Findecano.

A chill grey mist descends, and the going becomes difficult. Before long the mist lifts again and air warms, considerably, however the foliage becomes denser and wet underfoot. Fortunately though, after a seeming age, the ground gradually rises and the heroes find themselves passing through relatively sparse pine forest once more.

Then, through a gap in the trees, they catch sight of a tall steep hill that rises to a prominent fang of rock...


-------------------


To Be Continued - in “Return to the Glitterhame”...