What was once a bedroom has been transformed into a chamber of horrors. Old blood has matted the carpet into a thin film that crunches beneath your feet. Dull blades and needles protrude from the surface of a desk, where they were apparently stuck for safekeeping. A wooden bed frame leans against the wall at an angle; chained to it, dangling by his chafed and bloody wrists, is what appears to be a dwarf with hair and beard of writhing flame! Despite its touch, the wood of the frame shows no evidence of burning. You suddenly realize, the Caretaker is no Dwarf but instead an Azer. A grand celestial being created as a result of the Giants Enslavement of Dwarves so long ago.
He eyes are fixed forward and he is in a near catatonic state.
Khort steps forward and examines the the bindings.
He tries to rouse the man. “Caretaker. We wish to free you. Are you awake? Can you tell us who put you here, or how to help you escape?”
I don’t think he’s in any condition to answer us, brother. Let’s get him down from that… thing, first. Here, give him this (hands Kort a heal potion).
“Agreed, friend.” Khort takes the healing potion and, to the best of his ability, helps the bound man to drink it while (presumably) our rogue tries to undo his shackles with Sam.
“Be careful, comrades, his beard and hair are fire. We don’t want to harm ourselves while tending to the needs of this tortured one,” says Dunedin. “An Azer as the Caretaker. His race has endured such suffering. He should not have been subjected to any more. Those vile trolls.”
You can see that while his hair and beard are made of fire, they do not seem to be burning the bed to which he is chained.
As you speak to him, you can see that he is completely catatonic. He does not even seem to know you are in the room. The potion you feed him does heal his physical ones, but it does not affect his mental ones. Something else will have to be tried to heal those.
The manacles that chain him to the bed are secure and well made. Someone with some skill in such an area will need to attempt to free him from them. [Someone can roll for Gothe if you wish]
“I know very little of the ways to heal a mind, though I do know much of being shackled.” A dark look comes over Khort’s face. “Perhaps we can find his spirit?”
Khort turns to Dunedin. “Do you have any spells, friend Eladrin?”
Gothe pulls out his lock picks and deftly opens the manacles. Freed, the Caretaker continues to lay on his bed – catatonic.
“It is possible that the hag put him under a spell. Hags. Trolls. Constructs.” Dunedin wonders. He seems distracted as he says this, as if his mind is in the fey.
Boreas strides over to the bed frame with puzzlement across his face. Studying the wood bed frame, with his knowledge of nature, he struggles to see any significance, or conjure any recollection of this type of wood. He then looks to the caretaker with sadness in his eyes, and places his massive hands on the distraught creature’s head. Closing his eyes and concentrating his healing energy, the others notice some massive shift in energy around the two, like a cold, energetic breeze passed through the room.
Dunedin studies the Azer and can tell that he is not affected by any sort of magical spell.
Boreas inspects the bed and sees that it appears to be made of simple wood. As he inspects the Azer, he realizes that the magical flames that constitute his hair and beard gives off no heat. Using techniques taught to him by his tribal Shamans, Boreas ascertains that a Remove Affliction spell could bring the Caretaker’s mind from the tortured cell it currently resides in, as could some more healing techniques coupled with trying to talk him out of it reinforced with Moradins teachings.
Khort reaches into his brain to find studies of Moradin, as recalled from his time stuck in the maze with nothing to do but read.
Sink quietly asks if the Azer has ever read Oprah’s Tome Guild selection “The Secret” as it is an essential read on the power of consciousness.
Kort’s words do not seem to ring true for a being do devoted to the teachings of Moradin. Sink’s however, seem catch somewhere in his fragile psyche. The Caretakers eyes seem to move, every so slightly towards the nightstand next to the bed. Sink opens the lone drawn and pulls out and worn and well red copy of “The Secret”. Sink opens the book and begins to read passages to the Azer for the next 15min.
(Kort’s skill check failed. You still need two more successes, one must be with Heal.)
Inspired by Kort’s sincerity, Dunedin leans in close to the Caretaker and whispers, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."
Religion check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178015/
Forgetting that he is not a healer, and perhaps a bit drunk from the words of The Secret, Dunedin continues his mouthing of useless words. He says to the Caretaker in the quietest of voices, “It was a wise man who said, ‘The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin.’”
Healing check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178017/
Content at having tried his best, Dunedin heads a darkened corner of the room to squat.
(SOMEONE DO SOMETHING SOON BEFORE I ‘roll’ AGAIN)
The words of Moradin ring false when spoken by an Eladrin. The Caretaker remains on the brink of insanity and complete mental break down, until, Dunedin is able to dig deep into his past and recall some parables his mother used to heal the mental anguish caused at the hands of Dunedin’s childhood tormentors who incessantly teased the young Wizard for his many feminine traits – peeing while squatting being only one of many.
After 15min of soothing conversation, the fire in the Caretakers eyes being to burn once again.
(One more check. So far, an hour has passed.)
Wild, forgotten memories are stoked at the sight of the smoldering fire in the Caretaker’s eyes. Dunedin closes his eyes and mind to his immediate surroundings. He concentrates his thoughts on the bed on which the Caretaker rests.
A voice stirs within Dunedin. Quiet at first. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” He pictures, once more his mother. " — and Moradin will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Moradin, and the Moradinfor the body."
Arcana check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178178/
A lone tear rolls down Dunedin’s eye. What thoughts are these that have awoken in him. An Azer, his mother, and Moradin.
Sam eyes the Caretaker, speaking hesitantly; “You are an Azer. You are strong, fierce like the fire reflected on your visage! No matter what has happened here, you can overcome it.”
((Diplomacy, which I’m sure is inadequate: http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178205/ ))
Dunedin begins to tell tales of his mother, her amber hair and her gentle touch. Samhain jumps in and recounts tales of the Azure’s heritage but it is no use.
It is as if Dunedin is in a faraway place As he continues talking quietly to the Caretaker. The stories begin to take a turn. The heroes look on in shock as Dunedin waxes on about his mother and his upbringing in a way that can only be described as erotic.
The Azer begins to stir. Slowly at first his head begins to move side to side. He attempts to mouth words but his throat is too dry and his mouth filled with blood. “No…… no….” he rasps. His head rolls from one side to the other as he gains strength: “Please….. no more. I can’t take….. hearing these tales any longer…. for I fear I will vomit.”
Pulled from his innermost thoughts, Dunedin turns to Sam. “The Azer is strong. Oh, would that I could be as strong.” He moves back to the darkened corner and stands like a strong Eladrin.
The Azer blinks once, and when he looks at you again, his eyes are clear—or rather, they appear to burn with an inner fire that they lacked earlier. He speaks in heavily accented Common. “You have my thanks, strangers. You should not be here, but as you are—and as I needed you—I will take this to be Moradin’s will. I know not who these creatures were, who invaded my home and dealt so cruelly with me, but I know their intentions! I heard them plan! They seek to attack the city of Overlook, from both without and—through my temple—within! Even though the latter has been thwarted, the former might yet lie ahead; Overlook, and indeed Elsir Vale, might suffer greatly. But tell me, who are these villains? Do you know? Tell me all that has happened, please.”
Khort describes their encounter with the trolls and the construct, and their varying adventures exploring the caves and fighting their way to the Azer.
“You say that the temple entrance to Overlook has been thwarted… but from where will the external threat come?”
“I can only guess that the external threat will come from the area around Overlook. I’ve heard them discuss the use of mercenaries from some other realm that have been slowly ferried to this plane. They wait in the wilderness surrounding Overlook for their orders to attack.”
He slowly shakes his head sadly
“I knew that the tall one wanted me to turn over stewardship of the temple to him,” he says. “I fear that, in my pain, I might indeed have granted him control over some of the constructs, but I denied him any more than that. I . . . I fear that when you awoke me from my stupor, the portals were instantly unbarred. He has likely fled already. But at least I can swiftly return you to Overlook the same way.”
“I realize time is short,” he tells you, “and that you must hurry back to warn the people of Overlook. Nevertheless, I must ask you . . . can you spare an hour, and perhaps a bit of your hard-won gains, to aid me with one final task? After the blood that was shed here, I must perform a ritual to re-consecrate the temple to Moradin. I cannot do it alone, and if you do not aid me, I will have to walk several miles through the mountains to find assistance at Bordrin’s Watch. Perhaps this sounds to you like the ramblings of an old fool, but I believe fully that Moradin will smile upon us for doing so.”
He looks to the Incunabulum Primeval Dunedin caries on his back. “I see you recovered that ancient tomb. I thank you; it is a very rare and important book.”
Khort bows. “We would love to help you with your ritual, but it is, I would suppose, highly dependent on how close the attack is. Will they have made their move by the time we finish, or do we have some time?”
“I cannot say how much time until the attack, for I do not know”
“Enough time is left for us to help the Caretaker, Khort, if he can port us to Overlook as he says,” Sam pipes in. “Caretaker, did you perhaps hear anything of who these creatures worked for? I suspect the forces in the vale are those of Sarshan, a Shadar-kai mercenary captain of no small renown. Are there any names you can give us, who may be organizing all these dark forces? As for your ritual, what would you have us do?”
“I believe they called the hooded figure General Zithiruun but I am afraid I hear no other names than that, friend.” the Caretaker says.
“The ritual requires your assistance and a quantity of precious metals. Gold and Platinum, if I recall” he says, his hair and beard blazing with renewed vigor. He walks across the room to a small bookshelf and reaches behind it, pulling out a dusty and worn book. “I’d have to walk all the way to Bordin’s Watch to get the materials and help I need if it weren’t for your help.”
Flipping through the pages, he stops. “Ahh, here it is. A ritual to once again consecrate this area and strengthen its ties to Moradin. Looks like it will require 500pg worth of precious metals. Do ye happen to have such a quantity?”
“I would advise we help this man. Do we agree?”
“Caretaker, sir,” says Dunedin, “I will do anything that I can to help you with this ritual. I do suggest that as few of us as need to remain do so while the others venture on to defend Overlook. I will make arrangements to join the party after we have completed the ritual.”
“Sir,” Dunedin continues, “I fear I must interrupt as something is weighing on me. It is the Incunabulum Primeval. We were asked by High Priest Durkik Forgeheart of Overlook to seek out the Incunabulum Primeval. What is the nature of this tome? Can we trust handing it over to even the High Priest?”
Sam catches himself rubbing the first two fingertips of his left hand with that thumb as he thinks, swirling sparks and drops of acid forming and dissipating at the motion, an unconscious habit he seems to have developed since his most recent near-death. Shaking his hand as if it were numb, he snaps out of his reverie and says, “Our androgynous friend may be correct, as usual, and about both points. If this tome is so highly desired by our enemies, this General, then perhaps there is a safer place for it than even Durkik’s temple. After all, even he fell under the influences the priests of Overlook recently suffered. I’ve no wish to offend Moradin if this book is a sacred text of your religion, but mayhap my companions and I should squirrel it away somewhere only we know of. We should, of course, leave clues for you should we fall in the coming war. A necessary risk, I think.”
“Now, then, how many of us need to stay to assist? I believe we may have…” Sam does a quick tally in his head… “<ahem>, procured the necessary, er, quantity of components during our cleansing of this temple. That is, if simple gold coins will suffice?”
“While I would love to send some of you back to Overlook, I’ll require all of you to help me with the ritual. No knowledge of rituals is required, just the ability to follow instructions.”
“With regard to the Incunabulum Primeval, Durkik’s hands are the only hands I would entrust the tome to. It makes me uneasy knowing you have got the book, for it is the most ancient and coveted tome on Moradin. It is the books of highest power to followers of Moradin and in the hands of Durkik is it capable of great things. I know not why the Fey sought the book but without a heart devoted to Moradin they would have little use for the book.”
“Very well, we shall deliver the Incunabulum to Durkik, then. Now, what do you need us to do to re-consecrate the temple?”
With the scroll in hand, the Caretaker leads you all out to the central room with the large area of circular glass. He begins to scrawl out a series of intricate runes using the precious metals on the glass and directs each of you to stand at different places on the glass surface. He then stands atop the higher, central platform and begins to chant in a soft voice. As he chants, his voice begins to build until he is nearly yelling the last few verses – then the stops. For just an instant, as the last echoes of the rite fade away, the entire room grows ever so slightly warmer, as though heated from within by the fires of a small forge. The faint chime of hammers on steel reverberates from all around you, and then once more there is silence. The Caretaker collapses to one knee in exhaustion before standing tall once again. “There, the rite is complete.” he says proudly.
He quickly takes you all back to the entrance camber where you first entered Mountainroot. “The portal are once again active. “Thank you all, and may Moradin’s favor look down on you and Overlook, for I fear you will need it.”
You step through the portal and find yourselves back in the Stone Anvil. You arrive to find a welcoming committee of dwarven soldiers awaiting your return. “The Council of Elders needs to speak with you immediately,” the squad’s commander tells the Heroes. “Please come with me.”
Through the streets of Overlook and the gates of the mighty Caer Overlook, the soldiers escort you, until finally you have reached the imposing doors of the High Hall. Standing on the dais in the center of the chamber are three of the Council’s five members, as well as several more soldiers and High Priest Durkik Forgeheart. Upon seeing you, Great Elder Morgoff Stonefirst waves at you, not to speak to them from below, but to join them upon the dais!
Once on the dais, he says: “I was hoping to wait until all our members were present,” he tells you without preamble, “but we’ve still not heard from Elders Itrika Mountainhome or Olman Sledgemore— they are, presumably, occupied with other duties and our messengers haven’t reached them to tell them of this emergency conclave—and we’ve no more time to wait.
High Ancestor Durkik, as well as several other citizens, such as Priestess Lavinya, have told us a bit of what’s been happening our city. But I’m given to understand that you can tell us far more. Please, what’s going on? Is Overlook in danger?”
Khort scowls. “You must rally your best troops and prepare for an imminent invasion from another plane of existence. Sarshan, it would seem, has succeeded on one front in preparing to decimate Overlook.”
“Any attack from another plane? No such portals exist in Overlook. And if one did, it surely would not be big enough to marshal an entire army through it.” Elder Stonefist says.
“While I know of your efforts to aid in the attack on Bordin’s watch, I am afraid that the Council has not been kept entirely up to speed on all that you have learned. Please, summarize for me the nature of this threat.”
Sam steps up, his expression clearly showing he isn’t in the mood for pomp and deference, despite the regard he holds for the Elders. "You misunderstand, Elder. Sarshan is not moving his forces from the Shadowfell directly into Overlook. Rather, he has been marshaling them in the wilderness surrounding the city, waiting for his orders to strike. Someone has been orchestrating the downfall of Overlook, using several methods and tactics to weaken our defenses and ensure their success.
“First, it was the antagonization of the orcs, with weapons and promises of easy victory. It was then we learned of Sarshan and his experiments in breeding creatures spawned of Chaos. I am certain they will be back, and probably with larger friends. Trolls. Ogres perhaps. Next, a naga Queen set up shop in a lost dwarven mine, deep in the desert, a mine with open rifts to the Plane Below, imbuing the ore with the very essence of Chaos. Then gnolls ran rampant through the Vale, kidnapping both commoners and town leaders to enhance the anarchy, using them for both food and fuel to open portals to various planes, primarily Chaos of course, but I think they may also have been attempting to summon their own Demon God from the Abyss. Gnolls deserve far more credit than we give them for, in both ingenuity and cunning. Coupled with the mental assault, possession if you will, of the priests of the city recently, and the desecration of the Temple of Moradin we just cleansed, the evidence is very, VERY clear…
“There is a concerted effort to obtain resources for weapons, to harness the forces of Chaos, to entice the more savage races into channeling their natural tendencies into attacking Overlook… all for the purpose of sowing Chaos, in order to seize Chaos itself. Tell me, Elder, what do you know of the legend of The Keeper of Chaos? No? Then perhaps you should all pay very close attention to what we are telling you. Overlook and the Vale MUST mobilize for war, now! You may think you are ready, but you are not. Do you truly believe that all the recent events in Overlook and the Vale are mere coincidence? Tell us, does the name General Zithiruun mean anything to you?”
Boreas moves behind his suddenly outspoken little friend, in a menacing posture, sending the clear message that anything Sam says is guaranteed by his massive frame. Under his breath, and to himself he mutters, “Stoopid elder, save his hide then he asks US for money…..”