Things don’t always go as planned. But they do go as the flow of history allows.
At the top two levels of Obscurus’ magical LIBRARY, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Sheild Knight of Baldnoggin, Acindor the Human Fighter, Odin Thunderhammer the Dwarf Fighter, Dumplin Ages the Halfling Barbarian and her devils dogs, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, and Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin had thus far successfully fought a running battle against the Red Circle, the most feared assassins in the Seven Worlds. They had been aided greatly by the seven foot tall, 460 pound Rakshasa Sorcerer who’d until recently been posing as I-am-not the Kobold Wizard; however, the sorcerer had also taken a book for himself which had been revealed by Everly to be the key to their way out on the top floor.
While they had successfully managed to kill one of the assassins and grievously wound their tortle spellcaster, the tortle had nonetheless managed to introduce a gelatinous cube and black tentacles into the conflict. There was also a ratipede in play, a mutated monster that looked like an over-sized cross between a rat and a centipede.
Things escalated quickly.
Dumplin Ages ordered her devil dogs to attack the obviously weakened tortle. The tortle was already out of his mind from the pain of his wounds, from watching his comrade die and from watching his attempt at vengeance result in only friendly fire. He had the presence of mind to use his staff to redirect the first devil dog, but as before the second one managed to latch on with one of its sets of unforgiving jaws. He lost… so much blood as Dumplin’ pet savaged him. Knowing he was dying, he began chanting dark magic, a final act of vengeance meant to take his enemies with him.
The tortle exploded.
The fireball that erupted from him affected everything within twenty feet of him. One of his War’tode companions was instantly vaporized. The stout devil dogs were heavily injured but they emerged from the blast bloodied but whole. Nathan Garney and Acindor were within the blast but raw instinct, blind luck and the will of the gods allowed them to survive the blast with burns and bruises. Meldor was hit much harder. He laid on the floor amid the rubble knowing he was only inches from death! Dumplin, Kudac, the rakshasa, the ratipede and the remaining members of the Red Circle were outside the blast range.
But Weddumlir Aleshield and Odin Thunderhammer were instantly vaporized. Only Wedd’s god-blessed sureshield remained to mark the spot where he’d stood.
Dumplin looked up from the devastation with genuine surprise. After she’d commanded her dogs to attack the tortle, she’d spotted a pretty blue rock with star pattern on its face. She’d been busy examining it when the blast occurred. Frankly, her idle curiosity probably saved her life. She was dismayed to see how bloodied her dogs were!
Kudac was briefly stunned by the sudden loss of their Dwarven friends but he also realized they weren’t out of the fight yet. Two more members of the Red Circle, the ratipede and the gelatinous cube were still in their way. And he wasn’t sure about the rakshasa’s intentions. He prayed a desperatel prayer to Baldnoggin and watched a healing wind move over his comrades, even the death dogs. Meldor was a bloody mess but was able to get to his feet. Seeing that his injuries were still bad, Nathan uttered a prayer for an extra dose of healing for Meldor.
The rakshasa was fed up with the Red Circle’s disruption of his plans. He commanded the charmed ratipede on the floor below to eat the War’tode assassins.
Both proved too spry for the mutated monster. The first used his grapnel shooter to zip up to the fourth floor beside the rakshasa. I-am-not took a swipe at him with his tiger claws but the creature somersaulted away. The other War’tode used his own grapnel shooter to join his comrade.
The LIBRARY itself had sustained major damage. Small fires dotted the blast zone and much of the shelves and furniture were askew or broken. And this wasn’t an ordinary LIBRARY. It was a magical LIBRARY where many things which were alive, animated, cursed, or enchanted existed alongside the ordinary. Within the blast zone, they could hear whining, screams, guttural noises, curses and chanting from the tortured times, animated furniture and mimics. The air itself began to warp and shimmer with wild magic with increasing evidence of instability.
Amid the chaos, Acindor spotted a book that kept turning into a sword and back. While it was near the gelatinous cube, he decided it was worth the risk. He made a dash toward the changing artifact and grabbed the sword by the hilt. Strange glowing letters began oozing from the hilt and crawled hastily up his arm. A moment later, his arm had been replaced from the elbow by a long chitinous sword. The jelly monster took a swipe at the fighter with a sticky pseudopod, but he backpedaled out of its reach.
Spotting their fallen comrades sureshield, Nathan Garney picked it up and placed the holy artifact in his pack for safekeeping. It took him a moment to realize that the sureshield’s forcefully was no longer active and no longer held the gelatinous cube at bay.
Before he could warn the others, the gelatinous cube surged forward to engulf Acindor, Nathan and Meldor. The first two were able to get out of its grasp but Meldor, only recently healed from his injuries, found himself inside the jelly monster. He was surprised to find that the experience was painless even though he could see the jelly’s acidic properties already eating away at his skin and clothes.
The War’tode nearest the rakshasa whipped out a pepper box and unloaded it on him. While the rakshasa’ s ears were still ringing from the pistol shot, the ratipede scurried up the elevator shaft and lunged at the War’todes, heedless of the rakshasa in its way. The rakshasa tried to avoid being trampled, but was not entirely successful. The War’todes were much better at avoiding its attack.
The air snapped as the magical energies in the room came to a head. Everything in the blast range of the tortle wizard’s post Morten curse was sucked toward its epicenter as the magical forces imploded. Acindor, Nathan, Dumplin’s death dogs and the gelatinous cube (with Meldor still inside) felt the pull. One of the death dogs passed completely through the jelly as it sailed through the air. Moments later, the gelatinous cube exploded, leaving Meldor dazed and confused, but grateful to be alive.
A moment later, he found himself tumbling end over end as the implosion reversed itself. Acindor’s new symbiotic sword arm crackled with electricity and covered both Nathan and himself in a magical forcefield that protected them from the blast.
Even amid the confusion, they heard yelling and screaming. Lightfingers the Elf Rogue, Nellson Williams the red Tiefling Artificer with a robotic left arm and his steel defender gorilla Cupcake, Nikolas the brass Dragonborn Fighter, Pigsnot the Elf Fighter, and Eondul the Human Wizard were hurled out of a rift in reality that sealed itself up moments later.
The ratipede took stock of these reinforcements and retreated in the face of overwhelming odds. The last remnants of the Red Circle also attempted to flee with their grapnel guns. The rakshasa clawed one of the War’todes before it could escape. It died as its comrade fled. The rakshasa began eating the War’tode as it considered the newcomers.
A brief round of introductions revealed that the newcomers were not enemies and were just as confused by their presence in Obscurus’ LIBRARY as anyone else. In fact, all they knew is that they weren’t where they were supposed to be and they were in the wrong bodies.
As they were getting acquainted, they felt a rumbling. Before they knew it, a four-story tall worm erupted from the floor below. “Enough!” the silver worm thundered in a voice that seemed somehow too proper for the grotesque form. Four eyestalks surrounding a a toothsome maw stared at Meldor specifically. In the center of the worm’s head was something that looked like a golden mask. The mask – a mask that looked very much like the one Obscurus wore – was doing the speaking. “Enough!” it repeated. “This is a LIBRARY. What do you think you’re doing?”
The creature introduced itself as the goddess Canon, known more widely as the Great Bookwyrm. She was the goddess of history and prophecy, of libraries and mysteries, and, in addition to her disapproval of the treatment of her library, she was concerned with the flow of history. She stressed that she cared only that history continued and that Shadofar did not win, for then both the Seven Worlds and all memory of its deeds and peoples would be likewise erased. She also noted that the rakshasa’s presence in the flow of history was the only thing that was different about this iteration of history. She knew all of their identities, including their previous lives and including that the rakshasa’s true name was Shelby. She openly stated that she did not agree to any contract with the rakshasa and advised the others to follow suit, which they did. Lastly, they were charged with opening the Water Portal on Caeruleum and noted that Dumplin Ages had a star sapphire in her possession necessary to complete the task. She sternly warned the rakshasa not to betray them before the Portal was opened and instructed Shelby to place the book he’d taken off the pedestal back where it belonged. When he hesitated, she warned him that if she swallowed him, he was cease to exist even from memory. Shelby complied.
The Great Bookwyrm snaked its head down to Meldor and instructed him to hop inside. When he did so, she transported him up to the top level. Following her command, he picked up the book and told him to walk through the empty doorway. As he did so, he realized that another LIBRARY was appearing through the doorway and not just any LIBRARY.
In fact, they were returning to the TEMPLE OF WANJO!
Hoping to leave the Red Circle far behind them, Nathan said a prayer to Everly which removed the accursed tracking tattoo from himself.