Acindor the Human Fighter, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, and Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin, Nellson Williams the red Tiefling Artificer with a robotic left arm and his steel defender gorilla Cupcake, Shelby the Rakshasa Sorcerer, Lightfingers the Elf Rogue, Pigsnot the Elf Fighter, and Eondul the Human Wizard awoke from their fitful rest in the LIBRARY of the TEMPLE OF WANJO.
Dumplin Ages the Halfling Barbarian and her devils dogs had disappeared again when they entered the portal from Obscurus’ MANSION. It also appeared that Nikolas the brass Dragonborn and Shelby had wandered off to explore before the others rose from their rest.
For Acindor, Nathan and Meldor, it seemed like ages since they’d been here. The recent deaths of long time companions Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Shield Knight of Baldnoggin and Odin Thunderhammer the Dwarf Fighter still stung. Especially since the room stank of death. The rotting corpse of Katnip Everdeen the Elf Fighter was slung upon a raised platform in the center of the LIBRARY, looking very much like a sacrificial victim. And how much had the remaining members of Adventure Inc sacrificed to get this far? And yet CAERULEUM’s Water Portal to FARRAGO remained unopened.
They quickly explored their surroundings. Along the north end of the LIBRARY, they found the oily remains of a slain Ipsimus along with the body of Bofril Greybender the Dwarf Fighter. Acindor stared at his former body, recalling that this was actually his second death in the TEMPLE OF WANJO.
He decided the newer members of their party needed to know how deadly this place could be. ”We’ve been here before,” he announced. ”This is the TEMPLE OF WANJO. It is a place filled with traps and perils. Watch yourself.
They encountered an elderly human librarian, who seemed not to realize that the TEMPLE OF WANJO had been shattered and abandoned during the cataclysm that occurred on CAERULEUM when the first star fell in accordance with the Starkiller Prophecy. Instead, he referred to a bustling staff that seemed to indicate his mind had slipped into another time. The veteran members of the party were wary of him, mostly because they hadn’t encountered him in their previous adventures. Where exactly had this old timer been hiding all this time? Still, he claimed to know the way out. It was almost as if he’d picked the route out of Meldor’s mind. They simply needed to head east to the EXAMINATION ROOM and then head south through the TOMB OF THE OLD GUARD and the HALL OF POISON DARTS to arrive at the underground WAR’TODE ENCAMPMENT just outside the TEMPLE, where they would find the Water Portal that Canon had charged them with opening.
Dumplin Ages entered the LIBRARY through the STORAGE ROOM door, rejoining the party before they set out.
Exiting the LIBRARY in single file, the party made their way to the EXAMINATION ROOM. They noted shuffling footprints in the dust that had settled on the floor. They seemed to be coming from and heading back toward the north to the stairwell that led to the TEMPLE PRISONS. Kudac felt a great unease as he looked in that direction.
Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of the Mad God Moriarty found himself in the EXAMINATION ROOM in the TEMPLE OF WANJO on CAERULEUM. A massive hole in the ceiling testified to the power of his Janusian Blessing the last time he was here. He could see the remains of the entry to the PRISONER CELLS but the GUARDROOM now littered the EXAMINATION ROOM as rubble.
It took him a moment to orient himself. His adventures had taken him farther than his former comrades would ever suspect. His armor was certainly more weathered, but as a long-lived elf there was no visible sign in his features that he’d been gone for 13 years on a quest to defeat Isfet the avatar of Apophis in a dreamscape that mirrored much of the Seven Worlds, but differed in so many strange ways. He did not ultimately defeat Isfet, but he did take a trophy from his adversary, the hand of Isfet. More importantly, he freed Isfet’s divine prisoner, Zephyr the lost member of the Aeon, missing since the first star fell in accordance with the Starkiller Prophecy. Furthermore, he’d learned Apophis’ greatest weakness, though he had already forgotten what it was. The memories of his adventures were fading with the Dream. He forced himself to concentrate on the here and now. The TEMPLE OF WANJO was no place to sit idly in rumination. He’d find a magical means of recovering the memories if it came to it. But first he needed to get out of the TEMPLE.
He found it significant that he awakened on the same slab where he’d first awakened as Davroar Hollysword. ”All hail Moriarty!” he said as he rose to his feet.
Remembering that a Star Sapphire had been in the possession of Cullos Crowbane the Human Wizard, slain and half-buried in the cataclysm caused by Davroar’s Janusian Blessing, he began searching the body. The sound of a large group of people approaching caused him to take up a defensive position in the Northeast corner of the room near Cullos’ body. To his chagrin, he remembered that a secret door lay buried behind the rubble. Davroar ducked behind some rubble in case the party was hostile.
He did not recognize the party that entered the door: a frail old human librarian and Nellson the Elf Artificer and his robot gorilla.
“What are you hiding for? Come out of that corner,” the librarian urged. “No point in hiding from me.”
Davroar felt a check in his spirit. He recognized the seductive purr in the disguised rakshasa’s voice, having encountered others of Shelby’s species within Isfet’s Dream. He stood to his feet, drew his mace, and declared, ”Stop where you are! We have no business. We have no interactions of any kind, and we have no agreement. I’ve encountered your kind before.”
“No agreement. Between me and between whom? Who have you no agreement with?” Shelby asked.
”With you or your kind we’ll have no further words. Choose your next carefully.”
”Fine, fine. If that’s the way you wish. There will be next time. There are others. Mind you, simply being aware of an agreement, makes you part of an agreement.”
Davroar sniffed. ”I am aware of nothing and everything.”
“The known and the unknown. Riddle me this, young man: You still hide in the corner. What do you hide from? Are you hiding from me? Or are you hiding from yourself?
Well, That Escalated Quickly
The faux librarian stepped out out of the doorway, so that Nellson and Cupcake, Eondul and Lightfingers could enter the room. While Davroar assessed the newcomers, the disguised rakshasa moved to stand directly across from him.
With a view of the rakshasa’s overwhelming forces and his back to a corner and a corpse, Davroar became very defensive. ”Speak your purpose!”
Nellson blinked. ”I’m not sure what our purpose is,” he admitted. ”I just got here.”
The rakshasa moved closer to Davroar as more of the rakshasa’s comrades entered the room, including two familiar faces: Nathan Garney and Meldor Ironforge. He did not see Acindor in the doorway behind the others, but Acindor saw him.
”Meldor, Nathan, what is this?” Davroar asked his former friends. ”What is your purpose?”
While they considered how to answer him, he added, ”You know what I hold in reserve. Tell me now what is going on or I will unleash that which you do not wish!”
The disguised rakshasa pointed to a rip in the fabric of Davroar’s robe and his dented armor. ”I can fix that for you.” Davroar took a step back as the faux librarian stepped even closer than before.
“Do you want me to fix your armor?” Shelby asked.
“I will make no agreements with you,” the cleric said. ”Step closer and Moriarty’s vengeance will be unleashed.”
“I can fix your armor. You need not agree. You simply need to say you’d like to have your armor fixed.”
Davroar felt the seductive pull of the rakshasa’s words. He sheathed his mace, feeling that he could trust the kind librarian’s offer. Suddenly, he felt the displeasure of Moriarty and realized the disguised sorcerer was trying to magically charm him!
Davroar drew a chaos potion and a boomstick out of his pack and began chanting a Janusian Blessing. Alarmed at the sudden escalation, the veteran adventurers readied themselves to beat a hasty retreat. The rakshasa lunged at Davroar. With his back against the wall, there was nowhere for Davroar to escape. At the touch of the rakshasa’s staff, Davroar vanished.
Davroar’s old comrades stared at the spot he’d been standing in with outrage and shock. Then their accusing gazes turned to the “librarian.”
”He will be back in one minute.”
Meldor frowned. ”He used a banishment spell,” he told his friends. ”He speaks the truth.”
They considered this. On the one hand, the “librarian” had made their friend disappear. On the other hand, they’d seen the chaos Davroar was about to unleash. The question was what to do when Davroar reappeared.
The Tale of Acindor
Still back in the LIBRARY, Kudac scanned the shelves idly. A certain book caught his attention. The spine read The Tale of Acindor. Curious as to whether it pertained to his comrade, he flipped it open to a page that related their recent adventurers in Obscurus’ LIBRARY. When he read his own name, he felt unease. Who could’ve written down events that had just happened and bound them in a book? He snapped the book shut when he spied the word Canon. Canon was the goddess of history and patron of libraries. The near infinitely mirrored forms of her chief avatar, Kronos Pantoptes the Chronicler, continually recorded the variant histories of the Seven Worlds as they occurred.
The book popped back open and flipped forward a few pages where Acindor was seeing Davroar in the EXAMINATION ROOM for the first time since he’d gone missing in Obscurus’ RELIQUARY. He read the part where Shelby in disguise touched Davroiar with his staff and made him disappear. The right-hand page
Kudac shut the book and put it back on the shelf.
Kudac heard s fluttering sound, as if a cyclone of paper were forming benear infinitely mirrored forming wrap around him and drag him back to the thing that was forming – which soon coalesced into an origami version of a bookwyrm.
”What are you doing?” the origami bookwyrm asked.
“I was, um, investigating,” the half-orc cleric said.
”You’re not investigating,” the bookwyrm said. ”You’re running from the truth. You can’t hide from this.”
Abruptly, the bookwyrm released him and the items it was formed off tumbled and fluttered to the floor. Except The Tale of Acindor, which leapt up into Kudac’s hands.
It was obvious that Canon wanted him to read more of this book. Even so, Kudac was wary of what the book might say, so he placed it in his pack unread. It struggled in his pack until he punched it, whereupon it ceased its struggles.
The Dangers of Magical Literacy Redux
Meanwhile Lightfingers noticed a heap of books, fallen from the jailer’s bookshelf of confiscated prisoner items when Davroar’s Janusian Blessing had caused the room to spill down into the EXAMINATION ROOM. He sorted through them, realizing some of them might be valuable. The first one turned out to be a mimic as evidence by the fact that it growled in its sleep. He wisely left that one alone.
The next one seemed more promising. He snatched it up and opened it to examine it. Upon reading its words, he became disoriented and found himself sucked into the book, staring out at the worlds from behind the print! To his dismay, no one seemed to have noticed his predicament.
Realizing that things were likely only going to escalate when Davroar returned, Eondul screamed, ”Run for your lives!” Everyone except Shelby, Pigsnot, and Eondul himself felt their flight-or-flight response magically triggered by the wizard’s natural born panic.
Dumplin Ages was stunned by the sudden retreat and stood rooted to where she stood. Kudac heard the warning and found himself readying spells and weapons for a fight. Everyone else ran.
Inside the book, Lightfingers realized that some of the book’s words seemed to conceal a physical lock he might be able to pick from the inside.
The book in Kudac’s pack broke free and flipped open to a page where Kudac read how he and his friends largely either froze up or ran out of the room in sponse to Eondul’s panic. Once more, the right-hand page quivered as if trying to turn itself. Kudac slammed the book shut and called out to Nells to see if Cupcake might help keep the book closed. As they worked out the specifics, the page turned.
Kudac prayed to Baldnoggin to give him the strength to resist the book’s temptation. Even so, he read the words and became aware of a chain of events that filled his soul with horror, even as he couldn’t help but admire the level of chaos it produced. That’s when he noticed the words trying to crawl off the page and try to attach themselves to his metal jaw. He felt his jaws locking up for a brief moment until Baldnoggin finally answered with a shielding spell that repelled the accursed words.
Dumplin shook off her magical shellshock and mounted one of her devil dogs, urging it to join the others in the LIBRARY.
Still trying to sort out what had transpired in the EXAMINATION ROOM, Acindor grabbed Eondul by his robes and yelled, “What’s going on??”
“Death!’ Eondul replied, eyes wide.
Realizing nothing here was safe, Dumplin made her way toward the door and vanished again.
Lightfingers managed to pick the lock and was immediately ejected from his magical prison. He found himself alone in the EXAMINATION ROOM with the disguised rakshasa.
The Toll of the Dead
For his part, Davroar was none too pleased to find himself banished to TIAMAT’S LAIR.
Realizing he’d been banished and would return to where he came from in a mere minute, he formed a hasty plan. He realized the rakshasa was likely preparing to harm, kill or entrap him. Accordingly, he made his preparations. He cast mislead, timing it where he became invisible and his magical double appeared in his place when the banishment ended.
Shelby the disguised rakshasa cast a spell to trap Davroar within a five-foot water bottle he created for just such a purpose. He placed the oversized container in the exact spot in which Davroar was to return from his banishment.
Undeterred by his previous encounter with a magical book, Lightfingers picked up another nearby. This one looked like it might be bound in human or orc skin. It certainly didn’t invite one to open it. Yet open it he did. The thief was immediately grabbed by a bony hand which erupted from the book. He felt its chill necrotic touch leeching the life out of him. He threw the book down in desperation, but it was too late.
Everyone heard the gong which sounded from the necromancer’s book. The room’s temperature noticeably dropped. From above them on the next floor, a green glowing fog began sifting through the prison bars, cascading down through the hole in the ceiling like a nightmarish waterfall. Thirteen times the gong rang forth in total.
This broke the false librarian’s concentration, causing the rakshasa to revert back to his true form. Fortunately, no one but his servant Lightfingers was around to see it.
In the LIBRARY, Acindor’s symbiotic arm transformed into a sword, warning him that danger was imminent.
Unexpectedly, Davroar reappeared beside the rakshasa’s trap, displaced by the banishment spell’s caveat that the place to which the subject returned must be unoccupied. Davroar immediately began casting a spell. Shelby reacted instantly, attempting to punch Davroar in the mouth. His fist punched through the illusionary double of Davroar, causing him to overreach. He fell forward and crashed to the ground.
Realizing he’d been deceived, the rakshasa cast detect thoughts and discovered that Davroar laughing at his tumble before invisibly escaping toward the LIBRARY, hoping to find a place to regroup.
Next: Session #38 – Deddumlir