Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chapter 9. Jun 23, 2005.

With our enemy routed and all the Books of Cython finally ours, we did not delay but set a fast pace back to the village to consult Taliesin’s former master, the Keeper of Lore, and to examine the books. Two days later we arrived and Taliesin and the Keeper immediately started to investigate our findings. It was quickly apparent to them that translating the books would take a great deal of time and that the content was of such a kind that it would be dangerous to stay in the village. Instead the Keeper suggested that we travel to a fortress near the edge of the forest a few days away, where we would be under the protection of many swords and spells. This was unanimously agreed upon. After a further two days traveling through the forest the Keeper suddenly declared that we had finally arrived, pointing to the trunk of a huge and ancient tree. A magically concealed gate opened up before our unbelieving eyes, leading into the elven tree fortress. Inside, we ascended up many stairs until we were quite near the top, where its captain, Thorontar, greeted us, before we were each given a room.

A whole month passed away at the fortress, while the Keeper aided by Taliesin worked on deciphering the trionic books. The work was to some extent slowed down by the arrival of an elder priest of Sehanine, who requested Taliesin’s presence. For two weeks the half-elf was therefore nowhere in sight, and we only later learned that he had spent this time in meditation, seeking direct communion with his deity in order to learn about the mystic union of the arcane and the divine. And true enough, there was something changed about him when he returned. As for the rest of us, Anarion tirelessly spent most of his days under the skilled tutelage of his teacher of old, Thanas, the renowned weaponmaster of the House Moonwhisper. Thanas arrived from the capital of Angharradhi along with a small retinue a few days after us and a party was soon after given in his honor. When not joining Anarion, Vorona spent his time in the forge, mending his damaged arms and armour. Lastly, Naxxar and Luke just enjoyed some well-earned rest and used the occasion to trade themselves to a few useful items: Naxxar a few healing wands and Luke a magic rapier.

Finally the translation was ready, and we all gathered in the meeting hall to discuss the Books of Cython. Taliesin carefully explained everything (see the extracts from his notebooks below) he and the Keeper had been able to find out about the Books, their author Maedhros Stargazer and about the Prophesy of the End of Days. When he was finished, it was obvious we needed to make an important decision about what to do with our newfound knowledge. In the end, it was decided to hand over the books to the elves, lest they be taken to the capital of Angharradhi for further studies and for protection. Two days later a trio of powerful wizards therefore arrived, including Milamber, to receive the books. Since both Thorontar and the Keeper vouched for them, we readily handed over the books along with our notes, still keeping a copy of the latter for ourselves.

Clearly our findings as well as our actions had won us great respect amongst the elves, because we were soon approached again – this time by the elder priest of Sehanine, who wanted to enlist our aid. Two months ago, he explained, an apprentice of his had joined a group of elven adventurers in the search for a minor relic lost some 200 years ago. The relic was a sacred cup of elven make called The Chalice of Twilight. Since their departure all contact with the group had been lost, and the priest feared the worst. Having spent a full month in the fortress, everyone (and Naxxar most of all) was happy to embark on a new quest, and without much further ado we agreed to search for the lost party. Leaving the safety of the forest behind us, we followed their trails north. As we approached the mountains, we fell into ambush from two gargantuan spiders. We slew both alas with great difficulty and withdrew from the scene of the battle weakened by spider poison. Taliesin took the worst hits of all and had to be carried; he lay unconscious for a full day before waking up, while the poison cursed through his body. When he finally awoke, he used his healing magic to recover his own strength and subsequently his mundane healing skills on the rest of us, helping to speed our recovery. A quick search of the surroundings revealed the spiders’ nest, where their most valuable treasure was discovered: a scepter decorated by bone and skull symbols, a Scepter of the Netherworld.

Another day had passed when suddenly we discovered smoke in the distance, probably a campfire. Approaching with the greatest of care, it turned out to be a group of ogres camping in front of the entrance to a large cave. It looked like they had been there for some time, because next to their campfire there was a huge pile of carcasses both from animals and humanoids. In order to find out what they were doing here and whether or not they knew anything about the elves, Vorona used his wand to disguise himself as a half-ogre and boldly walked closer to talk to them. Meanwhile, Luke, turned invisible by Taliesin, also sneaked closer, to watch Vorona’s back, while the rest of us kept out of sight. What happened next was as surprising as it was improbable. Since the ogres were reluctant to move out on Vorona’s command, he challenged their leader to a duel. Only the ogre leader turned out to be 17-foot mountain troll armed with a club the size of a small tree! And since the mountain troll was more than happy to accept the challenge, Vorona found himself facing this juggernaut in single combat. While physically no match for the creature, Vorona skillfully wield his strange magic, however, making the creature roll around in laughter before moving in to shower him with blows. Unfortunately, the giant’s wounds closed almost as fast as he could strike, and thus Vorona did not manage to finish him off before his spell expired. Free to act, the mountain troll dealt him a deafening clash that would have easily felled a lesser man. That was when Luke could hesitate no longer, and all of us quickly joined the fray too. Having been bought a breather, Vorona again cast his spell, which caused the troll once more to fall over in laughter. It was Luke, though, who impossibly finished him off with but a single stab from his dagger! With their leader fallen, the ogres were easily disposed off. Amongst the cadavers we subsequently found all the missing members of the adventuring party, including the apprentice; and Taliesin buried them all. The Chalice of Twilight we found on the mountain troll. With our search thus ended, we returned to the fortress to present the bad news of the sad demise of his brethren to the priest and to give him the cup. In return he presented each of us with a precious gift.

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