Monthly Archives: February 2014

SOW Chapter16: Dodging the Law

Dodging
the Law


Tumbling effortlessly to the ground carried by the magic of his winged-boots,
Hagrid lands on his feet only to be quickly surrounded by the guards of the
Bright Watch. They are led by a solid, sturdy looking man, wearing heavy armor
that is adorned with insignia that announces his service to Erathis, the Goddess
of Civilization.  
 


 



“I am Huron Saberlain, Captain of the Bright Guard, and Exalted Servant of the
Goddess Erathis; you will please explain the meaning of this intrusion now!”



 


Hagrid stumbles over his words, grasping for an answer he says simply:



“They call me Hagrid.”


 



(Whispers amidst the patrol, some less kind than others suggest the goliath
might be a simpleton).


 



“Whatever the case giant, your case most unusual; it requires the review of
Guild Master, Steelgate, you will accompany us to him directly … Follow me
giant, we shall take you to him now!”



 


Elsewhere in the Methion, Yu Gnuf and Finellior had also seen the brilliant
light that had preceded the ambush, and they too had spotted the flying tower
that still hovered above the marketplace marking the point of the ambush.
Knowing what this particular tower meant, they wasted no time moving in that
direction while sticking to the alleyways that surrounded the market square. As
they close in on location, conflict renews as a flight angels from the Whitebell
Tower arrive and give chase to Vani, Bilgamesh and Rikar.  

 




 



After launching their attack upon the seals protecting the Arrow of Fate, the
peacekeeping forces of Hestavar had scrambled hoping to apprehend the
“violent criminals.” Once alerted by
the goodly shopkeeper at the book ship within the University Chapel, exalted
patrols had begun to sweep the streets along with flights of angels supplied by
Bastion of the Whitebell Tower, even now they searched the skies for signs of
trouble all of which had made moving about the city a difficult prospect, and
had forced the party to divide in an attempt to avoid further confrontation with
the authorities. Unfortunately for Klarn’s defenders the ambush had ruined any
chance of that.



 



“Do hurry it up giant, even if you are slow of mind, with your gate you should
move faster!”


suggest the watchman following Hagrid.



 

“Let
him be, we are not far, and I would take his measure, be he man or giant, he
has, but one life to live, and he may yet chose to live it righteously. He will
have his final judgment soon enough … Now listen giant, you have, but one
opportunity to prove yourself out, as base animal or as one who might servant to
a greater cause … I would suggest you be on your best behavior when we reach
Master Steelgate.”



suggests the captain.


 



“Who is Master Steelgate?”

asks Hagrid.


 



“He is one of Erathis’s most faithful servants. He is a Master Craftsman, and
all the guilds of Methion answer to him, but he answers only to Erathis
herself.”   



 


In the air about the market place and on the rooftops above the battle between
Pelor’s angels and the party begins to play out, and in every confrontation
Klarn’s defender find themselves over-matched, and quickly forced to retreat.
Rikar creates a cloud of darkness, using it to mask his departure as he abandons
the thundering tower and leaps to the rooftops below. As more angels close in on
Vani the sorcerer teleports deeper into the market to the edge of the main
square, not far from both Finellior and Yu Gnuf, but Vani hadn’t spotted them
yet. Below him dozens of stalls and carts catered to the tide of citizens
browsing or just passing through. More of Erathis’s exalted soldiery were on
patrol there and they began clearing the square as the group that had captured
Hagrid approached, but there was still about three dozen civilians meandering in
the square as Vani arrived on one of the rooftops above. Quickly he notices that
the Symbol of Erathis lied below worked into the flagstones of the square.
Bilgamesh was faring less well, the most powerful of the angels was pursuing him
and it was faster than Bilgamesh’s griffon mount; making matters worse, this
angel was accompanied with a small group of lesser angels. Bilgamesh turned and
fired, piercing the nearest of his pursuers, and the angel vanished only to
reappear directly in front of him nearly causing him to crash and the armed with
a flaming sword, grievously injures the elf with one swipe of the fiery blade.
For a moment, Bilgamesh sways causing the griffon to dive, and quickly
recovering he sails over the center of the market square adding to the concern
of the crowd.


 

Hagrid
reacts suddenly shifting his form to something resembling a giant wolverine;
immediately he attacks the captain, and the captain withdraws, avoiding the
attack with some deft maneuvering of his own. The watchmen behind the goliath
slam into the wolverine knocking Hagrid to the ground. From his vantage point
upon the roof, Vani finds that has a clear line of sight to Hagrid and drops an
elemental storm atop friend carefully placing the goliath in eye of the storm
protecting him, but forcing the Bright Guard to retreat a few steps back. In the
square proper,


the those members of the Bright Guard stationed there come to a full stop just
short of the symbol itself, and a moment later, the massive symbol of Erathis
pulses once with a brilliant blue light. When it recedes, an elderly dwarf
wearing finely-manufactured plate armor and carrying an equally well-crafted
hammer appears. His eyes pass over the square, and he turns to Vani with a grim
expression and says:


 



“Before you push off on such dangerous waters, t’would be wise to review your
course, wee one … Now get down from there so we can talk!”



 


Vani pays the dwarf no heed, and rather casts another spell, Avatars of Chaos,
creating four duplicates of himself that pop into existence throughout the
market. Yu Gnuf takes advantage of the distraction and glides forward through
the air approaching the dwarf and says:


 



“Master Dwarf, please allow me to introduce myself and my friends … I think
there’s been a misunderstanding …”



 


As he does Bilgamesh spins and fires upon those patrolling the square and Vani
again blasts the guards attacking Hagrid and second time dropping most of the
goliath’s opponents. They fade away as they fall. With only the captain and his
two main watchmen remaining Hagrid lunges catching and quickly dispatching the
captain, he fades away too. The watchmen throw themselves upon the giant
wolverine and pin him to the ground. Seeing the carnage, the dwarf takes one
step towards Yu Gnuf, and buries his shield in the librarian’s gut bending him
over and then sweeping the air with the same shield hurls Yu Gnuf to the ground.
Standing over the librarian he says: 


 



 All the way back in year 1, people
belonged to no-one and you didn’t stand a chance son … If your plans were
undone.”



 


He holds his massive hammer high in the air with one arm and it releases a crack
of thunder the rips through the air destroying one of the Vani’s duplicates and
continues:



 



“We were bred for community, to be builders of society — but here in this
Present Day — You are a million generations removed from expectations of being
who you really ought to be!”



 


The dwarf waves his hammer in a circle over his head and then points to Yu Gnuf;
as one the guards surround and start beating Yu Gnuf senseless, seconds later
the step away leaving the unconscious librarian in the center of the plaza
square. Bilgamesh launches two arrows, both of them anticipated and blocked by
the dwarf and the angels begin to close on the elf yet again. Still unseen,
Rikar teleports and hits the watchman harrying Hagrid, freeing up the goliath
enough to escape and finish his final attacker. He like those guards previously
defeated, he does not bleed or fall, but rather he fades away as if he were
never there. Without pausing Rikar races toward the square and Hagrid follows,
still cloaked in the form of a giant wolverine.


 


As they approach, the dwarf yells:


 



“I am Goran Steelgate, Master Craftsman, and Guild Master of the Methion …
Before you push off into this doom, turn your head just once more — and make
your peace with everyone. Think about what you’ve done, and if you choose to
stay away, you’ll live another day to do the things you should have done!”



 


Hagrid passes Rikar and leaps’ charging at Goran … Expecting this, the dwarf
moves while shielding himself, Hagrid slides past and lands hard with a thud,
the dwarf answers his charge with a telling blow from his hammer that dazes
Hagrid. Just behind the goliath Rikar spins and slices his way through a
half-dozen patrolman cutting the number of the dwarf’s supporters by half.
Hidden behind the awning of another rooftop a second Vani opens up blasting the
other side of Goran’s support, and another half-dozen patrollers vanish leaving
Goran alone in the market square with Rikar, dazed Hagrid, and the fallen Yu
Gnuf.


 


Hidden in an alley, Fin begins singing loudly, brilliantly, spinning a song sung
with perfectly pitch, enchantingly, fueling his allies with the healing magic of
song. Suddenly, Yu Gnuf wakes, Hagrid recovers, and both Bilgamesh and Rikar are
healed; moreover, the enchantment spreads and spins, circling about Goran
forming an aura of power that Fin knew would aid his fellows … Just like he had
against Sarshan so long ago; the bard knew his spell would end the dwarf, but
Goran didn’t relent. Instead he called out to the open air:


 



“To me my fellows let us bring the weight of civilization itself upon the heads
of these interlopers!”


 

Two
creatures, archons loyal to Goran appear at the edge of the plaza giving courage
to the huddles masses, and as a group they advance on the mortal heroes of
Klarn, but even with these creatures and the citizens of the Methion bravely
adding to his defense of the square, Goran begins to falter even as the last of
the angels fall to Bilgamesh’s arrows and Vani’s magic. At his every turn the
heroes attack the dwarf until their attacks wear heavy upon him, and he shouts: 


 



“You’re going to spiral in your own emptiness, until you learn to pray for a
sign that those of greater mind have written you into this play. And now, if you
still feel you must cross this geared and gilded line, let the stony ground
crack beneath you as you embrace your life, as rabbits on the run, silver drops
collecting in the corners of your eyes, shining



on your setting sun, cause soon you’ll find this story’s too damn real in this
present tense. I hope it’s worth the cost, lads, cause now’s the time to see if
you got what it’s going to take to see your plans through.”


 


The ground splits and trembles, the remaining civilians break and run, as the
earth quakes and all once the earthmote that houses the Methion begins to shake
violently, climaxed as the ground opens beneath the dwarf and swallows Goran.


 


Quickly, Bilgamesh lands in the emptied square and shouts out to Vani, calling
the halfling to join him upon the griffon. Rikar states, quite obviously,
“We need to hide ourselves!”


      


Yu Gnuf responds, “I have the map to
Guionne’s safe houses.” 



 



“Is there one near the harbor, where the Whitebell tower lies?”


asks Fin.


 



“What does it matter?”


asks Hagrid … “It doesn’t matter, not
really.”
Confirms Yu Gnuf … “But
yes, one of them is near the lagoon, and another is in The Salts.”



 


Hagrid withdraws a small metallic cube from a pouch, tosses it to the ground and
it expands revealing it’s true shape, that of a githyanki forged astral skiff;
not as beautiful as those created in Hestavar, but unlike those, this skiff was
outfitted with armor. Escorted by Bilgamesh and Vani the party retreats once
more into the painted sky of the Bright City.


 


 


 


 

 

 

SOW Chapter16: Legacy of Io – The Sealed Library

The Sealed Library

Rather
than defend her seal with angelic steel as Pelor chose to do, Ioun hid hers away
within the Sealed Library, a marvelous construction which is itself hidden in
the fabric of the domain. Within its confines, trusted scholars have long worked
on sensitive projects for their lady while standing vigil over the seal. The
open and well lit interior seems at odds with its cloistered nature, but the
structure of the place is designed to promote contemplation while fostering
research and advancement. The vast shelves could never contain the sheer
quantity of lore required by the scholars ensconced within the library. They are
tied through ancient ritual to every library that welcomes Ioun’s presence.
Books slip from the world and beyond to stock the shelves of the library before
shifting back when no one is watching.



 



Entrances to this Sealed Library are hidden throughout the Bright City, allowing
the scholars to move about and gather whatever they might need for their work.
Dead ends to back alleys behind alchemist’s shops and spare rooms in rare book
seller’s stores are the places the adventurers need to search and this must be
completed without arousing any extra unwanted suspicion.



 



Having discovered that Ioun has secreted her seal away within a Sealed Library,
a structure that is itself hidden within the very fabric of Hestavar, giving
allowance to only a the few trusted scholars and other devotees of the goddess,
those specifically tasked with conducting here sensitive research, were
typically ever granted access to this wondrous study hall; the party sets out to
gain entry. It is relatively common knowledge within the Bright City that any
number of doorways lead to and from the library, doors designed to enabling
these scholars to move about the city and collect whatever materials they might
need, but only these few who have earned the full confidence of Ioun and who
could be fully trusted not to reveal what they knew were ever granted access,
and still it was one of these hidden doorways that the party would have to find
in order to breach the library and if successful, to break the seal within.




 



But before they can start, Rikar discovers that his Mask of Familiar Betrayal is
missing. Exquisitely crafted from nearly paper-thin marble and bound in a
delicate golden frame, Rikar had been using the magical mask to disguise himself
in public places. Most often he had appeared as Kas, the Bloody-handed betrayer
of Vecna, but the mask allowed him to appear as an exact likeness of one of the
target creature’s friend’s, allies, loved ones or any inconspicuous person with
a short range of roughly 15’ feet. The drow had come to depend on the mask’s
magic for various acts of subterfuge. Instead of the mask Rikar finds a
hand-written not from Bingus (see above) … Anything but amused, Rikar stares
outward in disbelief utterly certain that the mask could not have been taken
from him. Slack-jawed he stands looking about with urgent cause, and he begins
rummaging through his belonging. Finellior asks,
“Rikar, what are you doing?”



 



The drow ranger crumples the parchment scroll and throws it at the bard
shouting, “THIS IS YOUR FAULT, YOU
SHOULD HAVE LET ME KILL HIM!”



 



Fin moves to help, and Rikar sneers,
“Stay away, all of you … You’re no better than he. Anyone who steals from me
should be prepared to lose more than their hand.”



 

After
better than an hour’s search, Rikar begins to accept that the mask is truly
gone. Pensively, thoughts of dread vengeance fill his awaking mind, as he
considers this latest betrayal, and he begins to doubt that Bingus had acted
alone. As he looks at the other gathered in the room, it is Rikar’s hunter’s
stare they see looking back at them; the stare of a cornered beast, the death’s
head stare of a cold-blooded killer.  



 



Eventually the groups leaves the Methion Arms and Vani initiates the search
effort by introducing his friends to a tavern called Andarman’s Taproom where
the halfling sorcerer adopts the guise of a cloistered scholar, and starts
things off by buying a few cheap ales for his fellow scholars at the tavern
which leads to a long afternoon of discrete eavesdropping and even more ale
while Vani begins to connect tidbits of information as he listens to their
stories trying to deduce some of the areas within the Bright City these same
scholars frequented. As the sagely-folk take, Vani idly wonders if any of the
stories he was being forced to listen to were actually true; occasionally he
tosses in a few innocent-seeming statement about his own imagined field of
research and occasionally he tries asking about a few particularly rare arcane
ingredients from a list provided by Yu Gnuf, but Vani usually slaughters the
names of the ingredients in question, and the plan backfires as often as not,
but from time-to-time they question do lead the conversations in the directions
Vani hoped, and in the end he comes away with a location, an admittedly obvious
one at that, the University Chapel in Kerith-Ald and the group heads in that
direction.



 



When they arrive, Rikar begins to spy about the university grounds
surreptitiously following groups of scholars hoping they might inadvertently
lead him to a portal, failing that, his efforts still bring the party a little
closer to their goal, specifically to a book shop not far from the university’s
chapel. Within this bookstore they find a number of backrooms, private reading
chambers, studies, and a privy chamber. Rikar was sure at least one scholar he
had been watching had disappeared within one of these chambers, but given the
configuration of the halls that accessed the chambers he couldn’t be sure which
chamber his mark might have disappeared from.



 



Armed with this information Yu Gnuf approaches the shop owner and tried to draw
him into a conversation about Ioun’s sealed library until it becomes obvious to
the master librarian that the man both knew about the portal and that he wasn’t
going to volunteer any information about its whereabouts. So Vani approaches the
man and makes it very clear that they really weren’t ‘asking’ and then looking
his most maniacal, the halfling sorcerer points out Rikar and pointing out the
ranger’s missing hand he says, “You know
he cut off his own hand just to prove a point, imagine what he’ll do to you if
you don’t tell us what we need to know?”



 



With a forced grin the man directs them to the proper chamber.



 

The
scholars working within the Sealed Library don’t ever expect anyone to barge
through their hidden doorways, least of all a band of heavily armed insurgents,
regardless, brilliant as they are, they were always prepared for trouble. Those
present today had all had long careers as spell-casters in their previous mortal
existence that coupled with their exalted lack of fear meant they would not be
going down without a fight.



 



As the party suddenly appears within the sealed library two of its researchers,
are high on the sliding ladders searching the shelves for material, these
happening to be those nearest the entry portal as the group arrives; a third
researcher stands talking to one of two academics present, the academics being
even more wizened scholars than the researchers, they were tasked with the
oversight of the sealed library. In total five scholarly intellectuals greet the
party as they enter Ioun’s library, and they were all exalted, and they were
some of the brightest minds to be found anywhere in existence. While surprised
by the invading adventurers, they react instantly, and without hesitation quite
prepared to eject any would be invaders.



 



With a flash of light, Finellior, Rikar, Yu Gnuf, Vani, and Bilgamesh find
themselves in what appears to be a well-lit and well-appointed library. Still
outside, in the book shop, alone Hagrid keeps watch. Within the sealed library,
the travelers find a smattering of solid wood tables and plush chairs scattered
about within the surprisingly tight confines of Ioun’s Sealed Library; it is a
single chamber dominated by a mirror-still reflecting pool and massive shelves
that sweep around the entirety of the room reaching from floor to the ceiling
some 40 feet above. Already utilizing the library, they find five
scholarly-looking individuals, two set high upon ladders near their point of
entry, they are busily working the selves, and the three others all arrayed on
the far end of the chamber. They all look towards the new arrivals with a look
of astonishment, but their shock wears off instantly, replaced by a look of
sudden recognition and immediately they begin grabbing for implements kept near
at hand and one wizened goat-faced sage says:



 



“I am certain that the Headmaster is not expecting you as he already engaged.
You should leave now … While you still can.”


 



Without another word being uttered a battle breaks out. Yu Gnuf rises, floating
in to the air as he approaches the closest highest scholar, but with but one
pull of his arm, the sage in gone, sliding quickly on his latter across the room
to the far side of the chamber, his ladder guided by a rail set in the floor.
Another researcher, the one standing between the two seated academics on the far
side of the room, launches a prism of light across the chamber that explodes in
the middle of the party washing them in a brilliant multi-colored burst of
arcane lightening that strikes with crippling power. Stunned Finellior sprawls
upon the floor; Vani teleports escaping the blast, both Rikar and Bilgamesh
weather the blast better than Fin, but both still have to endure the initial
blast of lightning, and the enduring malaise of the spell, like a poisoning the
spells aftereffects still threatened to render them unconscious. Rikar begins to
move across the chamber, and Bilgamesh cocks two arrows and fires at the second
of the two ladder-born scholars; the scholar raises his hand in a defensive
shielding maneuver magically batting the first of the two arrows away but the
second arrow grazes the scholar’s hand use to grip the ladder causing to nearly
fall, he stumbles, recovers and jerks at the shelving sending his ladder siding
across the hall with him still dangling awkwardly upon to ladder.



 



Vani casts his avatar spell creating a posse of duplicates to engage the
library’s defenders. Both Yu Gnuf and Rikar near the far end of the chamber,
each in their own fashion, but before either can make their way across, the two
seated academics rise and both target the more dangerous looking drow, both
uttering a single devastating unfathomable word that resonates with enough power
to stop Rikar dead in his tracks, the raw power of the words nearly kill Rikar,
but Yu Gnuf reacts immediately and manipulating both time and space around the
drow he blunts the impact of their attacks. More arrows fly, joined by the
magical arsenal of Vani’s sorcery … the scholars begin to fallback as they are
picked off, one-by-one. The researchers respond with blasts of their own, which
combine to create a sparkling cloud of cinder that covers the portal side of the
chamber and then explodes setting Bilgamesh and Finellior ablaze. Patting out
the flames, Bilgamesh rushes to the still stunned bard to help put out the
flames; quickly, he grabs Finellior and drags him to the shallow reflecting pool
depositing the bard within it to douse the flames. 
        



 



The remaining researchers continue blasting away while trying to use the sliding
ladders to keep out of reach, but soon it becomes clear that they are fighting a
losing battle. As the scholars are defeated, they don’t die or fall, but rather
they fade away occasionally leaving behind a few of their belongings to mark
their passing. The library’s academics move about to keeping Rikar a bay just
long enough for Yu Gnuf to make it to the heavy elaborate doubled doors on the
far side of the chamber, as Klarn’s master librarian reaches for the handle the
massive doors swing open revealing to headmaster’s chamber beyond, a
well-furnished office used by the person appointed as Headmaster by Ioun
herself, tasked with the oversight her library.



 

On
the other side of the supremely thick doors of the study, Headmaster Elminster,
the Sage of Shadowdale, was already irritated having been interrupted in the
middle of an in-depth discussion with Granosos, a unique sphinx otherwise known
as the Cheshire cat, a most recent addition to bizarre pocket dimension known as
Dungeonland.  



 



In the doorway, Yu Gnuf sees a distinguished-looking, elderly mans with a very
strong hawkish nose standing and smoking a pipe; at his side a large
emaciated-looking, feline creature with a mean demeanor crouches slightly behind
the sage, the cat sporting a huge, maniacal grin as it stares eye-to-eye with Yu
Gnuf, even while crouched on a lower steps, its eyes timelessly shimmering with
the depth of ages. It briefly studies Yu Gnuf, licking its lips and then
adopting a wretched yet accepting expression it says:



 



“Seek and ye shall find, they say, but have you noticed, it is rare indeed when
they say what you’ll find?”



 



The elderly man’s expression is gruff, reflecting his annoyance; he puffs out a
cloud of bluish-green smoke and taps out the pipe as Yu Gnuf notices the Seal of
Ioun on the far wall behind them,  flanked
in-between twin statues of a hooded woman. The Headmaster’s speaks:

File:Elminster rom.JPG



“I am Elminster of Shadowdale, called by some the Old Sage, and called far worse
things by others. I’ve walked these realms for over a thousand years. Yet, I am
still very far from the oldest, wisest, or mightiest of beings, still I’ve
well-worn boots—and that is truth, but I doubt ye have come here for the long
history of my deeds, and regardless ye’ll find out soon enough less ye depart
from my presence without further delay, or I assure ye you’ll know precisely
what I stand for and who I am! Given that hasn’t happened yet. ye still have
time to consider if ye know exactly what ye stand for … Such knowledge is a rare
and priceless thing indeed.”



 


Yu Gnuf stares wide-eyed at the mage, knowing the legendary Headmaster by
reputation alone, having never foreseen this encounter. He stutters awed,
eventually announcing:


 



 “We are visitors of Klarn, here on a
mission for Bahamut.”


 



“Somehow I doubt that, the King of Dragons is no more, but life, and living has
little or no meaning other than what we give it anyhow. I wish a few more of ye
would give more, Bahamut as much as any. Regardless, I’ve found there are only
two precious things on earth: the first is love; the second, a long way behind
that, is intelligence. From the sound of it, you are lacking at least the
latter, if not both, and regardless ye are not welcome here, but I thought I’d
already made that clear!”



 


With a thought and a small puff Elminster hurls Yu Gnuf backwards with his
innate arcane power and force of will, the librarian resists reducing the impact
of Elminster’s power, but still flies backward uncontrollably and lands on his
back between Elminster and the reflecting pool. Vani attacks sending a blast of
fiery acid, infused with power drawn from the essence of his own arcane blood at
Elminster, but the wizard vanishes somehow swapping positions with Bilgamesh who
is hit by the full force of Vani’s attack. Rikar reacts spinning towards the
wizard who was now situated where Bilgamesh had been, but before he can advance
Elminster waves his hand saying:
“Size of a mouse!”
 


 


Instantly overwhelmed by magical energies Rikar spasms and shrinks taking on the
form of a tiny brown mouse, and with another subtle gesture, a mere flick of his
wrist, the power engulfing Rikar leaps from the drow to Bilgamesh, who like
Rikar before him also transforms into a mouse, only he is a gray one. Elminster
grins an quotes a poem:



 



WEE, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beastie,



O what a panic’s in thy breastie!



Thou need na start awa sae hasty,



Wi’ bickerin’ brattle!



I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee  
        



Wi’ murd’rin’ pattle!



 



“But a mouse is just a mouse for all that!”



 


The huge cat launches itself up the stairs and into the library … Without
hesitating further, recovered at last Finellior rushes through the portal to
summon Hagrid!


 

“Did
someone say mouse?  Ah there you are
… Abandon all hope little ones!”



“A new law reins here now; I’m afraid it’s going to be very rough justice all
around, best to be on your guard.”



 


Before anyone can react, the cat leaps to the center of the library and catches
the gray mouse that was Bilgamesh in his mouth. Yu Gnuf floats off the ground
and shifts time and space again causing Elminster vanishes and reappearing
within the headmaster’s office which breaks the great wizard’s line-of-sight to
the interior of the library; quick Yu Gnuf pursues the famed wizard by flying
into the office as he chases after Elminster. Finellior reappears with Hagrid at
the library’s entrance. With Bilgamesh still in his mouth the cat pounces on one
of the four remaining Vanis; it disappears unceremoniously leaving three
versions of the sorcerer, within the chamber and one squeaky brown mouse
scampering as the cat skids across the floor giving chase. With its mouth still
full the cat seats and stares as if appraising the new arrivals. And through
clenched teeth it asks Hagrid:


 

“You’ve
look like you’ve a bit of an attitude, for one visiting a temple of knowledge,
curious and willing to learn, are you?”



 



“Then answer me this … Why is a raven like a writing desk?”


 

Dazed
by the cat’s inane question, Hagrid cuts off his charge suddenly feeling
impelled to come up with an answer.


 


Recovering from Elminster’s spell, Bilgamesh begins to swell within the cat’s
mouth and the cat coughs the elf up like a hairball. Coated in spit, and lying
on the library’s floor Bilgamesh begins to shake the cobwebs from his mind, and
spouts out an esoteric answer he had heard to the cat’s riddle:



“Poe wrote upon both!”


 



“Very good …



but on the other hand maybe it’s because there is a ‘b’ in both and an ‘n’ in
neither.”


Bilgamesh’s answer helps Hagrid recover long enough to attack the cat, but his
blade whistles through the air and passes through the cat’s body harmlessly as
the feline takes on an ethereal aspect and floats effortlessly into the air.
Rikar also recovers returning to natural form, and races down the short flight
of stairs that leads into the headmaster’s office; within he finds Yu Gnuf and
Elminster who had been sparring with other using a variety of arcane attacks
none of which had had much effect on the other. As Rikar joins them Yu Gnuf is
hovering high above Elminster’s head, but just as the drow enters the wizard
telekinetically drags Yu Gnuf to the ground; using the distraction of Rikar’s
entry to his advantage, Rikar closes and attacks striking with both Kas’s blade
and his own crescent-bladed hand. Elminster sidesteps Rikar’s blade, but the
drow traps him with the bladed-hand and pulls him in tight pinioning the wizard
between the deadly blade and his own body. Elminster explodes with power that
engulfs the entire south side of his office and throws both Rikar and Yu Gnuf
across the room and setting Rikar ablaze in the process. Conveniently Yu Gnuf
lands near Ioun’s Seal and races to examine its defenses while simultaneously
healing Rikar who was rolling on the ground behind him trying to extinguish the
flames.


Back in the main chamber the cat comments and asks another question:



“Bravery and I are not on intimate terms, my natural curiosity has always been
tempered with caution.



Thus, I’ve lived long, but now, ignoring any instinct to flee or fib,



I will speak the truth without regard to consequence, your courage deserves no
less … You have only to answer this.”



 



“Your frustrations are my toys, your rage my delight, you tantrum and cry at my
expense; you are now and always will be my puppet … Who am I?”



 


Once again Hagrid is stymied, and this time he is joined by Bilgamesh, who also
has no quick answer … The cat roars triumphantly with thunderous power that
throws both of them clears across the library deafening them. They crash at
Finellior’s feet, and the bard yells:



“Wrath! The answer is our answer!”

“Humility
bard, only the insane equate pain with success!”


No longer confused Hagrid and Bilgamesh recover and attack throwing the Cheshire
cat into a fast retreat; Bilgamesh’s first arrows drive deep into the cat’s
flesh, it quickly recover and the second volley flies through the cat’s ghostly
form. Fin turns his attention to his injured allies using the magic of his song
to heal both Bilgamesh and Hagrid.


In the office Rikar crawls across the floor and slashes desperately at the
wizard, but Elminster parries his attack with his own longsword and bats Rikar
with the backside of his thunderstroke sword; it explodes with enough thunderous
power to hurl Rikar away, and this time Elminster follows after him showering
the drow in fire issued from the wizard’s fanned out left hand,
 the erupting fire washing over the drow
lighting on fire a second time, as Rikar starts to burn Elminster withdraws and
gestures widely with his arm launching several motes of magical energy appear
floating in each corner of the small office and begin blasting Yu Gnuf with
blasts of lightning, magical force, thunder and fire.



“Ye, I, and all gathered here now, are most obviously dangerous. Should ye then
be destroyed out of hand because of what you might do? Nay! It is the right and
the doom of all creatures that live to do as they will; it is why I doth frown
so at those who charm often, or in frivolous cause. Not even the gods of
Hestavar take it unto themselves to wantonly control ye or me so tightly that we
cannot walk or speak or breathe save at another’s bidding! It is their will that
we may be free to do as we may. Slay a foe, sure, or defend thyself against
raiders such as ye, to be certain, but to strike down one who might menace thee
… To my way of thinking that is as monstrous as the act of the usurper who would
slay all babies in a land, for fear of a rightful heir someday rising against
him! So be thankful, I’ll not be removing your freewill, though truthfully I
could! Instead, I offer ye one last chance to flee while ye still can most
foolish mortals!”



“Alas, only the savage regards the endurance of pain as a measure of worth.”


Says the cat, as it leaps through the portal and disappears. In the office Yu
Gnuf speeds Rikar’s healing, and says,
“We must defeat Elminster to break the seal, it is protected by his presence
here; we should try to drive him from the office!”


Still prone, Rikar advances again crawling with singularly determination towards
the wizard, Elminster withdraws further, still facing the drow and renews his
assault once again raining down fire upon the drow as he retreats back stepping
up the stairs. From within the main library, Bilgamesh seizes opportunity
quickly placing two arrows in the wizard’s back strike with almost impossible
focus and accuracy enough to pierce through even Elminster’s magical defenses;
having bloodied the wizard, Bilgamesh redraws and firing again launching two
more arrows in a second volley, adding to his attack. Exasperated Elminster
yells:
“Damn you!”
and Bilgamesh,
freezes magically petrified by the wizard’s
vitriol. Yu Gnuf flanks Elminster approaching him from the rear hoping for
advantage while Elminster’s attention is drawn to Bilgamesh, but Elminster is
ready, and the most famous wizard of Faerûn swings his cane backwards behind
himself with fierce intent catching Yu Gnuf on the chin dazing the librarian,
and then spinning, quickly buckles Klarn’s librarian over with a second quick
jab of the cane to Yu Gnuf’s gut, but this allows Hagrid to charge and he pounds
into the wizard, knocking Elminster back down the stairs hard upon the floor of
the office. In an instant Rikar is on him stabbing viciously with his bladed
hand. Bilgamesh joins Hagrid at the offices entrance, and takes his time aiming
firing with each brief opening while Elminster and Rikar roll across the floor.
Still talking, during the chaos of the struggle, the strong wizard says:



“Methinks one shouldst take what is given when proffered by an elf. For ye all
have secrets aplenty as well ye should, and I’ve learned not to pry ye too hard.
While inquisitiveness tis often admired, rude investigation never is, and I’d
rather crack the shell of a dragon turtle with my own teeth than find myself at
odds with a slighted elf such as ye! … And for now, I think my time here has run
its course!”


Suddenly, without warning Elminster stops resisting, and failing resistance
Rikar’s bladed hand drives deep through Elminster’s ribcage and the wizard fades
away, his spectacles falling away from the wizard’s face as he vanishes; they
ring out as they strike the office floor heralding the thunderous boom as Ioun’s
seal splits down the center with a quaking crack the brings the conflict to a
sudden end.


 

After the battle the following treasures are gathered:
   


 



Eyes of Charming – Level 26 Rare



These silver spectacles let you either assert subtle influence on others, or
force them to do your bidding.



Level 26 – 1,125,000 gp



Property



You gain a +6 item bonus to Bluff checks and Diplomacy checks.
    



http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/symbol/Z3a.gif
Attack
Power (Charm) 

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/symbol/x.gif
 Daily
(Standard Action)



Attack: Ranged 5 (one creature); the eyes’ level + 5 vs. Will



Hit: The target is dominated (save ends). The target is not aware that you used
this power against it



 



20 astral diamonds



 



6 Tempest Whetstones – Level 20+ Uncommon



This unfinished iron whetstone lends your weapon a spark.



Level 20   5,000 gold pieces  
Consumable: Whetstones  
Power (Lightning) – Consumable (Minor Action)



Touch this whetstone to a melee or ranged weapon you hold. Until the end of the
encounter, any successful attack with the weapon deals an extra 4 lightning
damage to each enemy within 2 squares of the target; the target of the attack
does not take this damage.



 



Potion of Recovery – Level 25 Common



This mighty potion uses your own stamina to restore your hit points and to help
you shrug off harm.



Consumable: Potion   25,000
gold pieces   Power –
Consumable (Minor Action)



Drink the potion and spend a healing surge. Instead of the hit points you would
normally regain, you regain 50 hit points and make a saving throw against each
effect on you that a save can end.



 



120 pp



 



Potion of Recovery – Level 25 Common



This mighty potion uses your own stamina to restore your hit points and to help
you shrug off harm.



Consumable: Potion   25,000
gold pieces   Power –
Consumable (Minor Action)



Drink the potion and spend a healing surge. Instead of the hit points you would
normally regain, you regain 50 hit points and make a saving throw against each
effect on you that a save can end.



 



Potion of Resistance – Level 24



The color and smell of this potion varies with the protection it provides.



Level 24 – 21,000 gold pieces  
Consumable: Potion   Power –
Consumable (Minor Action)



Drink this potion and spend a healing surge. You do not gain hit points as
normal. Instead, gain resist 15 to damage of a specific type until the end of
the encounter. The damage type (acid, cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, poison,
psychic, or thunder) is determined when the potion is created. Only one potion
of resistance can be in effect on you at once.



 



Six clear diamonds that glow with inner light (15,000 gold pieces each)


 


Hestavar Alerted



 



The attack upon Ioun’s Sealed Library stirs the Bright Guard and its allied
angelic forces into action. Bands of exalted having already taken to the streets
with flights of angels searching from the air above, a fact that is only too
obvious as Klarn’s heroes exit the book shop. Horns sound and the chase is on as
the peacekeeping forces of Hestavar scramble to apprehend the
‘violent criminals’. Alerted, the
exalted patrols begin sweeping the university’s streets near the book shop a as
the angels watch from above. Seeing no way around it the party splits-up intent
on meeting up together back their room at the Methion Arms which meant going to
back to that earthmote in mercantile district known as Methion, perhaps the most
diverse and cosmopolitan area of the Bright City, and the home of one of the
greatest markets to be found anywhere. It’s only true rival being the bazaar in
the City of Brass, and while artisans of Hestavar might grudgingly concede that
the arms traded in the efreet bazaar were more destructive, they were always
quick to point out that the markets of Methion are unequaled for weapons of more
refined sophistication.



 

The
earthmote is also home to the majority of the exalted houses dedicated to
Erathis, those involved in Hestavar’s Game of Making. Thousands of merchants
plied their trade there each and every day, but even amongst this diversity the
party members stand out especially as they beginning spotting each other and
regrouping. Such is the case when Rikar, Bilgamesh, Hagrid and Vani are found
and ambushed.



 



Having reentered the Methion, the four allies having temporarily lost their
tails gather amid the back alleys of a concentration of mercantile emporiums,
guildhalls, and artisan workshops, never guessing that here amidst the great
estates of exalted houses, the intrigues were about to prove as convoluted and
dangerous as any they’d encountered!



 



In the Game of Making’s the stakes often ran high, and at times, even here in
Hestavar, competition turned violent, but even the death held now fear, as least
among the exalted craftsperson or thinker, for whom ‘death’ caused but the loss
of a week and one day of work. In rare cases when the stakes are particularly
high, entire houses, workshops, guilds, and even schools of study were known to
break out into open war. Still, of course, theft and violence were firmly
frowned upon in the Bright City, and nowhere more so than by the defenders of
the Methion, these exalted of Erathis. When pressed, they could place powerful
edicts in effect that served to discouraging malfeasance of any sort within the
Methion. Any mortal should keep that in mind and understand that most of the
exalted saw themselves as vastly superior to even the most powerful mortals
within Hestavar.  



 



Suddenly, the Celestia tower appears overhead and immediately the travelers find
themselves surrounded by a brilliant corona of light that pulsates in waves
around them cutting off any view of the streets beyond the small square in which
they had hid themselves, and this same wall of light cuts off the small block
from the defenders of the Methion acting as an impenetrable, blinding wall of
force. Within the trap, the traveler see fast twin glints of silver descending
together  from the tower and rapidly
disappearing on the rooftops above, while Hagrid notices something crouching low
on one of the nearby rooftops and hears the faint rasping of steel being drawn
echoing from nearby alleyways, the sounds of an ambush and quickly warns the
others!



 



R
ikar
yells out, “This is your fault, all
of you, Fin was right along … Don’t you get it, we are the villains here, not
they! We are all still doing Vecna’s bidding, and he is watching through that
thing on your hand and laughing at us. We have just destroyed Ioun’s Seal; the
goddess who is Vecna’s greatest antagonist. I will have no further part of this
folly; you all are on your own!”


 

Rikar
moves to retreat, but suddenly realizes what Hagrid already knew, they were
surrounded. Devil legionnaires had somehow infiltrated the nearby alleyways and
cutoff any easy escape, as he moves they begin to flood in, while still more
watch from the surrounding rooftops, and then a hulking pit fiend leaps off the
tower and takes charge of the forces as it too descends from the tower!


 


The drow’s frustration mounts,
“Behold, Hell’s fury has been unleashed! Is this not everything Finellior warned
us about?”


The pit fiend gestures and violently, irresistibly, a legionnaire flies helpless
through the air towards the party and explode in a massive ball of fire that
immerses the party in flame. Once again Vani saves himself by teleporting away,
he escapes the pit fiend’s attack, taking a position on the rooftops above, and
from this higher vantage point he sees two silvery half-dragons poised below
himself but still above his other allies on rooftops situated closer to the
party than the one that held the halfling sorcerer. Both Rikar and Bilgamesh
dart away in opposite directions fleeing from the flames. The half-dragons
vanish from the rooftops appearing on either side of Hagrid and strike the
goliath with brilliantly glowing longswords, before Hagrid can respond they
vanish again and reappear on the rooftops above. Both of the elves find their
retreats cut short by the legionnaires.


 


Vani begins blasting any opponent he can see, this time he holds back nothing …
The halfling becomes the epicenter of an explosion of arcane power, and Vani’s
sheer power was second to known, no other mortal from Klarn he had ever met
could match him, Ishtar’s halfling apprentice was gifted with power like no
other!


 


He begins by throwing several bursts of thunder, each striking with terrifying
force amid the groups of legionnaires, the power of these blasts hurl the
legionnaires about as if they were toys causes them to burst into flames and
vanish, and he follows this attack by summoning huge stalagmites of ice, one on
either rooftop holding a half-dragon and a third upon the pit fiend itself; the
roofs collapse under the weight of the stalagmites dropping the half-dragons and
burying them in a huge shower of ice shards; the pit fiend is knocked aside, and
temporally cutoff from Hagrid by the icy barrier.


 


Separated from the others, and any other foes Hagrid calls out,



“I am here you cowards come for me if you will!”


as he withdraws from the ice stalagmite set between him and the pit fiend.


 


Bilgamesh and Rikar finish the few surviving legionnaires, out of the ten that
had started the attack only two had survived the first few seconds of battle,
and they find own ends in the two elves; Rikar to the alley south of Hagrid, and
to Bilgamesh in the alleyway north of the goliath. Bilgamesh pierces his with an
arrow through the neck, and summons his griffon. Rikar destroys the last
legionnaire with Kas’s sword, and disappears utilizing his ring of invisibility.


 


The half-dragons escape their icy tombs teleporting out of the messes created by
Vani, one moves to pursue the halfling while the other renews his attack upon
the goliath, as it attacks and says,
“GIVE US THE VILE GNOME AND YOU CAN LEAVE, RESIST US AT YOUR PERIL!” 
  


 


Vani flees again teleporting as the half-dragon closes and burst with the purest
of radiances, light so powerful it destroys the upper floor of the tower that
had been sheltering Vani.


 

The
pit fiend erupts in bellowing flame that blasts the ice stalagmite into a
million tiny shards that fall like hail upon Hagrid. It shouts orders in its own
diabolic tongue, and then two new devils appear on either side of Hagrid and the
pit fiend vanishes. One stabs the goliath as the other casts a shadowy net upon
the goliath.


 


Vani
blasts his pursuer out of existence and surveys the battle once more from the
rooftops, he see nothing of the pit fiend or Rikar, just the two human-sized
devils battling Hagrid, and Bilgamesh for the first time upon his griffon …
Bedazzled by the griffon, and wistfully wishing his manticore alley were there,
the halfling watches as the elf picks off the remaining half-dragon with his bow
firing from astride the griffon with an expert’s grace. 


 


As a group, Klarn’s heroes turn their attention to the two devils confronting
Hagrid. The devils continue to stab or net the goliath in turn, but every time
they successfully net the goliath he manages to get free quickly ripping their
shadow nets off. Bilgamesh begins peppering them with arrows, and Vani hit them
with spells, but the devil are fast and their armor is strong; they ignore the
attacks maintaining their singular focus upon the goliath. Then lightning
suddenly explodes from the top of the tower, and Bilgamesh commands his griffon
to gain enough altitude to allow a view of the top the tower. Vani finally
dispatches one of Hagrid’s adversaries, but still finally trap within the net of
the second devil, both the devil and goliath disappear.


 


 


 


Having
risen above the tower Bilgamesh sees Rikar standing atop the roof of tower
within the control circle inscribed there as the devil arrives with Hagrid
secured within it net. Rikar takes one step forward and lifts the devil into the
air on the point of his bladed arm. The devil bursts into flames and disappears.
Then Rikar reaches down with his free hand and begins to help Hagrid to his
feet, but then with one deft maneuver buries his foot in the goliath’s
midsection and boots him off the tower. Hagrid’s winged boots react immediately
flutter frantically and slowly the goliath’s descent as he falls to the ground,
on the tower above Rikar shouts,



“Stay off My tower!”



 


As the last devil is destroyed, the screening wall of light fades, opening the
square to the vast market beyond which is abuzz with activity. Immediately, a
captain and a pair of watchmen rush in, and closing on Hagrid as he crashes to
the ground, other member of the Bright Guard close in from all sides. As the
defenders of the Methion detain Hagrid, others close in on Vani and a host of
Pelor’s angels move on Rikar and Bilgamesh in the sky above. The sturdy looking
captain approaches Hagrid and says:


 



“I am Huron Saberlain, Captain of the Bright Guard, and Exalted Servant of the
Goddess Erathis; you will please explain the meaning of this intrusion now!”


 


Elsewhere in the Methion, Yu Gnuf and Finellior had seen the brilliant light
that had formed the screening wall of force that had trapped their friends, and
too, they had also seen the tower hovering above the marketplace; knowing well
what that meant, and it drew them like moths to a flame; they too had closed in
on location, and had been near enough to witness Rikar’s dismissal of Hagrid
from the tower.