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 Scrolls of Gladsheim

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PostSubject: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:54 pm

Where we preserve those bygone posts we have brought from beyond, incase they become pertinent again.
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PostSubject: Re: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:32 pm

The Story So Far:

Lac’Nala, called Lac by his friends, is a half-elf (Dunedain), half-human Ranger who already lived a full life and suffered great loss before his travels take him to a human village where a fire-wielding drow named Verin threatens the local druids with utter destruction. Moved always to defend the good and right, Lac takes up arms against Verin, and his journey brings him into contact with a mysterious cloaked stranger who aids him against a company of orcs. After the encounter, the stranger continues to follow Lac from a distance.

Lac, disturbed by the appearance of such evil forces in the lands of men, is all the more grateful for the help of the cloaked stranger. But what is Verin after, and what does the appearance of these dark forces mean? When Lac’s party is attacked again, the mysterious cloaked guardian is also injured and Lac discovers that their protector is also a drow—a powerful priestess of the Spider Goddess, Lolth.

The drow priestess, Ssinjin (Jin), also wishes to kill Verin, for he is none other than her blood brother and the murderer of her mother and sisters. Verin, empowered by a collection of stolen magical rings, is seeking to overthrow the balance of rule in the matriarchal drow society and become supreme ruler. Jin is driven by revenge so strong she is even willing to join forces with the half-elf surface-dweller, Lac.

As Jin travels with Lac, his unfailing goodness continued to astonish her, and slowly she comes to learn that the ways of those who dwell in the light are not as feeble as she once thought. These realizations, along with her failed struggles to vanquish her brother, lead Jin on a path that causes Lolth to abandon her. In parting, the drow goddess leaves Jin with a wound that will not heal.

After facing Verin and his hordes, Lac and Jin recuperate in the human village where Lac’s quest first began. While there, Jin goes on a dream journey where she discovers a new goddess to serve, Eilistraee. Meanwhile, Lac comes to believe that the appearing orcs, as well as Verin’s plots, are signs of a still greater and older darkness, reawakened after an age of silence.

Believing he can find resources and aid in his old homeland of Oron-D-Narr, Lac decides to take Jin, who is still hunted by her brother, on a journey that will bring them over the mountains to a place still safe-guarded against evil. But before they reach the mountains, they encounter an unusual pig that can write in the dirt with its nose. Lac puzzles out the pig’s message, and as instructed by the animal, gave it a kiss.

An enchantment falls away to reveal a human wizard’s apprentice, Alrick. Alrick quickly explains who he is and offers to help Lac and Jin in exchange for rescuing him from the curse. They bring him along, and in the evening Alrick tells the tale of how an evil sorceress named Sirax put the curse on him when she failed to rob his master of a powerful crystal artifact called the Deamathir.

Lac recognizes the name of the artifact, and knows that other related crystals have begun to reappear. According to the legend, these crystals of power can come together to open the way to the greatest evil or good, depending on the heart of the one who gathers the crystals. More worried than ever, Lac insists that Alrick continue to journey with them, thinking that the destroyed deamathir may now somehow reside in Alrick.

As the companions camp in a grotto beside a waterfall, just below the mountains bordering Oron-D-Narr, a stranger appears falling lightly from a tree. The stranger introduces himself as Tiphereth, a Deithir who explains that he comes from a world beside their world, which he calls Arkauld, and which Alrick identifies as the Faerie World. Tiphereth further explains that a dark power threatens his world and he has come here to find its source and destroy it before greater harm can befall his homeland.

Lac invites Tiphereth to join their party, but before they can enjoy more than a cup of tea together, Lac senses an evil presence drawing near to their campsite. As Lac and Jin debate a course of action, Tiphereth seizes Alrick’s arm and transfers one of his moving tattoos, called Talisquetry, to Alrick’s person and bids him speak words of binding.

Astonished and suddenly fearful of Tiphereth, whose visage has become void and demonic, Alrick boldly calls forth the most powerful binding he can think of, using both the magic of his dead master, Fylendorf, and of the sorceress Sirax against Tiphereth. Instead of binding the Faerie in servitude, the spell sunders his being and leaves nothing more than a withered husk of sand and crumbling stone.

Lac and Jin step forward, but it appears that Tiphereth’s condition is beyond anyone’s repair until Jin’s goddess speaks to her. Drawing power from both Lac and Alrick, Jin revives Tiphereth’s flesh and opens a gateway for him to be reborn into their world. In the same moment, the goddess causes Jin’s cursed wound to mend.

After Tiphereth returns in angelic light, it is clear he remembers nothing of his demise. But there is little time to discuss the matter, for the darkness draws nearer and the companions must flee up the mountain…
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PostSubject: Re: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:47 am

For future reference, I preserve Alrick's Tale. Part I:



The drow’s openness to the idea of letting Alrick prepare a meal for the elves was the closest thing to an admission of acceptance she’d given, and Alrick smiled before she added, “Too bad we won’t have some tasty pork for a change.” That caused him an involuntary shudder.

“I insist on cooking dinner,” he managed to say a moment later, after a hard swallow. “It’s the least I can do.”

He was then all too happy to accept Lac’s generous offerings of soap and a change of clothes and take himself out of the stone shelter for a bath. He walked far enough away from the mouth of the cavern to be out of direct view, pebbles crunching underfoot, and undressed. Thanks to the admirable power of the curse, he transformed with his clothing and immediate possessions—the items he now shucked from his body—but when he was a pig, there was no visible evidence of this and it was as if he walked around naked. So being naked in actuality now was almost more comfortable to him than moving with the constant restriction of clothes clinging to his form. With a satisfied sigh, he slipped into the water.

When finished with his bath—did ever a rocky pond feel so luxurious?—he returned to the shelter below the outcropping, sodden hair clinging to his head. The wolves who had joined them in the den gave him a moment’s pause, but he knew some rangers acquired such friends and followers. He was very glad he wasn’t a pig anymore, or they probably wouldn’t have gotten along very well. As it was, residual pig instincts told him to steer clear of the lupines.

“I found some wild lemongrass outside,” he told his new companions, “and I’m sure I can manage something for dinner with what you already have.” So saying, he looked over their supplies and asked Lac if it was permissible to use certain ingredients before beginning. With the hodgepodge of ingredients they had, it made sense to Alrick to make lemongrass soup.

He filled the cook pot with fresh, falling water from outside the grotto and set it over the fire to warm, then began preparing the ingredients. The trick with lemongrass soup was to use restraint. It had a delicate flavor that was to be cherished, not overwhelmed by zealous cookery. The soup’s aroma would go well with the grain-hearty bread they had, he thought.

As Alrick prepared the soup, he couldn’t help but remember the last time he’d made soup. How long ago had it been, now…?

* * *

Apprentice Alrick cut a few slices of celery, enjoying the crisp sound of the knife slicing through the pale green fibers. He threw the celery slices into the steaming soup pot and began to peel a carrot. He didn’t mind cooking; in fact, he insisted on preparing the evening meal every day. Part of him was afraid that the job would loose all that he found special in it the moment anyone else ordered him to cook—so he never gave Fylendorf or the other apprentices the chance to order him. He always took the task upon himself.

At night when they all sat around the table, the pale-bearded wizard and his three apprentices, Alrick enjoyed watching them put the food he made into their mouths. His work sustained them. After all, conjured food could never compare to the real thing. In this way, he felt he contributed something.

Alrick sighed and dumped the carrots into the broth. You could make the juiciest beef bourguignon or richest pork bone soup, but the fact was you weren’t working magic. And if Alrick was really going to stare Truth in the eyes, he would have to admit that he wasn’t a great chef so much as a satisfactory cook.

He wasn’t particularly good at anything.

But Alrick was too old to feel sorry for himself anymore, so he made up his mind to cook and be the master of Fylendorf’s kitchen, if nothing else. He may not have been as skilled with a cleaver and cream as the king’s premier chefs, but he was the best in Fylendorf’s cave. That would have to be good enough for Alrick.

‘Good enough for Alrick.’ That was something the other apprentices murmured far more often than he liked. Whenever one of his spells went awry and he called a flock of birds instead of the clouds, or when nothing happened at all, that’s what they said. Worse, on the much-rarer occasions when one of their own spells produced a less than satisfactory puff of smoke or sizzle of lights, they snickered and said, ‘Well, it’s good enough for Alrick.’

Alrick shook his head and dismissed these thoughts, stirring his soup and smelling the savory vapors rising from the cauldron. The kitchen was no place for miserable thoughts. When you cook, you must have a clear mind or you will fail to achieve the right technique.

Fylendorf’s kitchen was near the front of the cave. This was contrary to most houses, but Fylendorf didn’t live in a house. Some wizards did, and many more lived in towers, but Fylendorf lived in a cave. It was a very cozy cave, and the wizard had lived in it for so long that it stopped resembling a conventional cave many years ago.

In some places the floors were covered with waxed wood and colorful carpets; in other places, polished flagstones fit together in a glossy gridlock. Ceramic bowls dangled from the ceiling and clung to the walls, brimming with enchanted fires that shed warm, golden light but never smoked. Every available space was crammed with the tools of wizardry: books, scrolls, bells, mirrors, candles, wands, rods, crystal balls, animal skulls, pentacles, goblets, curious blades and jewels that glowed from within, and still more books and scrolls. Things were often lost because sometimes the rooms decided to move, or a new one appeared, or an old one disappeared (though they always came back to visit), and there were simply too many things for anyone to keep track of. This also caused people to get lost sometimes, and one always had to be careful when walking into the next chamber in case it decided to lead to the astral realm, for instance, instead of the broom closet.

The exception was the kitchen, which Alrick took a certain pride in keeping tidy. There was little of magic in the kitchen, save for the occasional herbs suspended and drying from the ceiling, or the rare potion needing to be made in large enough quantity to demand the open fire pit, so the room tended to behave itself.

The kitchen was situated at the front of the cave in order to make use of a natural chimney that curved and twisted through the meat of Mount Mynebeorg, allowing an ordinary fire to be built in the pit that dominated the culinary space. Even now, orange flames licked the belly of a hanging cauldron, causing the soup inside to seethe and send sumptuous scents of stewing spices snaking through the chambers, and possibly into the astral realm.

Alrick shooed a massive tabby cat away from the pantry and fished out a bulb of garlic. He could hear Fylendorf’s warm tones complimenting one of the other apprentices on a task well-executed. They were probably almost done with the lesson, which meant they would all be hungry soon. As he peeled the papery skin off a garlic clove, he dutifully trudged once more through thoughts on his own studies for the week.

He was still trying to master
sight—the technique of letting one’s vision leave the confines of the physical eyes, lifting away for a moment to see all around, as if from a bird’s perspective—something any novice should be able to execute before progressing to more complex magic. And Alrick should have mastered this long ago. He was not only the longest-standing apprentice to Fylendorf, he was at the age when most apprentices were ready to leave their masters and seek employment with a lord or to live in service to a town.

Years had passed since Alrick first began to suspect that Fylendorf made a mistake in taking him as an apprentice, though Fylendorf always insisted there could be no mistake. “Do not doubt your destiny, my boy,” the aged wizard often said. “Do so and you doubt me, for I saw the celestial nimbus emanate from you and the influences of moon and stars hanging in mystic veils o’er your path. You have a great purpose, Alrick. I knew it from the first day I tested you.”

Though Alrick was a young child who could barely speak in complete sentences then, he still remembered the day Fylendorf chose him: What a bone-piercing sense of joy and fear entwined! When wizards came through the towns of men to seek apprentices, parents often volunteered their auxiliary sons in hopes their family could have the honor and distinction of producing a wizard. Alrick was one of these auxiliary sons, and more surprisingly, one of the rare few who were actually accepted. A wizard would not take an apprentice unless he saw magical potential in the boy, and even then he would not take the boy unless what he saw complimented his own magical philosophy.

But giving a son into the service of wizardry came with a price. While families received something from the wizard—usually money or a symbolic gift—they were unable to see their child again until he completed his studies, which often meant they never saw him again. For the path of wizardy demanded an early start as well as total dedication, and over the years, students lost memories and emotional ties to their childhood homes. When Fylendorf chose him, Alrick didn’t understand half of what was going on, but he knew he was headed somewhere so grand it brought tears to his parents’ eyes, somewhere so far away he would not see them again for a long, long time.

Now he barely remembered the color of his parents' hair, the length of their forms, and he wondered if he’d lost all that for nothing. Over his early years of study, he progressed in the normal fashion, proved an avid mind for simple cantrips and scholarly research, but when he was fourteen or so, he hit a plateau that no one could explain. Years went by, and while he continued to study those pursuits which demanded no magical power, his spell casting never improved. Lately, even Fylendorf lacked a little of his old conviction, letting a worried furrow creep into his wizened brow as he amended his words: “You have a great purpose, Alrick. I only hope I will get to see it.”

That was hardly encouraging.

So Alrick cooked, as he was doing now. He threw in a dash of wine and the soup was almost done. He could hear rustles and thumps of the others getting ready for dinner and an owl calling soft queries through the dusky forest outside the cave. While he waited, stirring the soup with one hand, Alrick drew from his robes the bottle-sized faceted crystal Fylendorf had loaned him. The crystal was shiny as glass but its melon-green color was smoky and dull most of the time. When Alrick was struggling with his practice of the
sight spell, Fylendorf gave him the crystal and asked him to try using it to focus his spell.

The first time Alrick tried using
sight while holding the crystal, the crystal kindled with lucid light, the green color deepening and becoming something beautiful, like the freshness of growing things, and he was able to see all around—with incredible detail compared to the average wizard’s sight. He could look into any tiny nook in the cave, even into another apprentice’s pocket where he counted five copper coins; he could also look into the bird’s nest above the cave and zoom through the forest to the setting sun and follow the great star over the brim of the earth to wherever it was headed. The sensation made him so dizzy he had to pull away and break the spell in clumsy fashion.

Fylendorf found the whole incident very interesting, though Alrick couldn’t imagine what was so special about it. Everyone knew that using magical items in spell casting could enhance many effects, and the fact remained that he couldn’t cast the spell on his own. Still Fylendorf told him to keep the crystal. “Keep it safe,” the old wizard told him, “no matter what. And keep this a secret between us, hm?”

Alrick was skeptical, but he was no dummy. The wise man must have had his reasons for giving him the crystal. Perhaps he thought it would help him to learn what he could not learn on his own? Fylendorf refused to say more, “for I dare not, yet,” so in his free time, Alrick tried to research the item in Fylendorf’s vast and rather disorganized library, but he couldn’t find anything that quite fit the description of his crystal. The closest he found was a legend among elves and dwarves of several crystals of power attuned to the elemental forces of the earth, highly magical and scattered across the lands to prevent their ever coming together. The way the stones were described, highly polished and faceted like gems, seemed to match the crystal’s appearance, but he doubted this crystal was really one of those ancient artifacts. Why would Fylendorf give him, a mere apprentice—and not a very good one—such a powerful item?

It hardly mattered anyway, because he never got anything more out of the crystal no matter what he tried. He still could not use his
sight, and the gorgeous light never stirred in the crystal again.

Now as he held it next to his cook pot, the glossy surface of the stone fogged in the steam from the soup and he rubbed it dry on his sleeve.

Now that was odd. Was it his imagination, or did he just see a flicker of light in the crystal’s depths? On a whim, he attempted to enter the state of concentration required to use wizard’s
sight.

At once, he saw the kitchen as if from outside himself. In fact, he could see himself standing there, and Fylendorf too, before a woman with flaming red hair filled the scene, blocking everything else out. He saw the crystal within the crystal, burning so bright, painfully bright. The light flared to such intensity Alrick had to close his eyes and jerk the crystal away.

The magic in the room snapped like a worn lute string and went slack, and Alrick was left with the cold nugget of a bad feeling lying in his gut. The crystal—when he dared to peek at it again—was once more dark and smoky.


* * *

Alrick added the last few ingredients, carefully sniffing his lemongrass concoction. The only way to be sure it was seasoned correctly was to taste the broth, and he hoped the elves wouldn’t mind if he sipped from the pot. He blew on the spoon and took a delicate slurp. He added a dash of salt and some pounded peppercorns, and was satisfied. It seemed he could still keep some things straight after all those years as a pig.

And the swill he used to eat!

Well, he was really going to enjoy this soup.

“Soup’s on, my friends,” he told the elves, smiling at the cliché phrase. He ladled the soup into the small wooden traveling bowls Lac provided and added two slices of bread on the side, which he had toasted over the fire.

As they ate, he reflected how strange it was that neither of his companions seemed curious as to how he came to be a pig. Perhaps they didn’t really care—what was one man-turned-pig to elves on a quest? No doubt they had seen stranger things in their day. But he decided to mention something about it anyway.

“It’s a bit strange to have the use of my hands for all these tasks again, and certainly for eating,” he told them. “I plan on appreciating my humanness as much as possible this time.” He took a few bites and then went on. “This isn’t the first time I’ve returned to my natural state after falling under the pig curse, you know—but I hope it’s the last.”
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PostSubject: Re: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:48 am

Alrick's Tale Part II:



Alrick actually smiled at Jin’s suggestions of how he might have become a pig. “It was a woman who transformed me, yes—but not my lover!” Here he shivered in horror. “And believe me, she did want to kill me, but…well. Perhaps, as with most things, it is best to begin at the beginning.”

Alrick’s gaze drifted over the evening shadows and the warm, smoky air of their grotto shelter. As he wove his tale, the images of those bygone days appeared before his eyes as if it all happened just yesterday.

“I was preparing dinner for Wizard Fylendorf and the other apprentices, as I did every night…”

* * *
When Fylendorf and the other two apprentices, Eglemore and Hal, entered the kitchen, Alrick tried to tell Fylendorf about the strange vision bestowed by the crystal, but Fylendorf gave him no chance to speak.

“I fear there is no time for dinner, Alrick, for the tools of darkness have moved sooner than I thought possible.” The aged wizard was out of breath, as though he’d just completed a strenuous spell. He gestured with a spotted and wrinkled had towards the door from which he’d come, where a shimmer of blue light peeped at the edges of the door. “Go now and take the crystal; the way has been prepared.”

“What!?” Alrick cried. What Fylendorf said was so unprecidented he could barely understand the words.

Eglemore and Hal looked equally perplexed, gape-mouthed and furrow-browed.

“Protect the crystal with your life, Alrick, for it must not fall into the wrong hands!” The tail end of Fylendorf’s words choked off in a muffled groan of pain. The very air suddenly sizzled with magical potential.

“Wizard Fylendorf!” exclaimed Eglemore, reaching for the old man’s elbow, though the wizard brushed him off.

In the same instant, the front doors burst open with a throb of magical tension and there, swirled by a wind in the door, stood a woman with flame-red hair. She might have been very beautiful if not for the cruel line of her mouth and inhuman coldness in her eyes. It was the same woman the crystal had shown Alrick.




Apprentice Eglemore took it upon himself to deal with the unexpected situation. “The Wizard Fylendorf isn’t seeing anyone—” was all the unfortunate apprentice had time to say before the red-headed woman thrust a hand at him. Her eyes surged with the glow of wicked power.

The astonished Eglemore’s posture froze and his skin turned gray. Tiny flecks and flakes crusted his surface and it was clear that he had turned to stone.

“Surrender the Deamathir!” the woman demanded in a voice that crackled with barely-restrained energy. “Do so and I will free your apprentice and leave you unharmed.”

“It is already gone, Sirax!” Fylendorf answered, and pushed Alrick towards the inner door.

“You’re a terrible liar, Fylendorf,” Sirax replied with haughty amusement. “Pouya!” She called and the winds swirled, taking for a moment a fey, human-like form. “Find the Deamathir and bring it to me,” she ordered the windy spirit.




Even as she spoke, Alrick was scrambling to the door. He didn’t understand quite what was happening, but two bits of information he’d gathered were enough for him: One, Deamathir was the ancient Elven name for the crystals of power, of which he’d wondered if his own specimen was one. Two, the red-haired woman’s name was Sirax, the name of an infamous sorceress who was reputedly at least as old as Fylendorf, though the woman in the doorway hardly looked it.

As Sirax’s airy servant blasted through the room, spouting up papers and herbs and making the pantry doors clap, Fylendorf hurled forth a misty barrier to block further entry.

In the blink of an eye, Sirax sent a spear of fire bolting at Fylendorf, and the two engaged in a stalemate struggle of magic against magic, their hair and clothes fluttering in fields of opposing energy.

As Alrick threw open the door that was supposed to lead deeper into the cave, he saw a rippling portal of blue magic hovering mirror-like in the center of the room beyond. He paused for only a split second, but in that instant, a brisk wind shot through his clothes. The weight of the crystal spilled up out of his pocket and there the melon-colored gem glimmered for a moment in suspension before plummeting towards the floorboards. Alrick snatched at empty air.

The smoky green crystal skittered across the floor like a bar of wet soap, Alrick diving after it with the winds still swirling around him. At the same moment, Fylendorf and Sirax turned their attention from their spells to the glistening object.

Alrick’s hand clasped the cold crystal just as Sirax fired a lethal hex at him. But Fylendorf’s nimble hands spun a protective web around Alrick, deflecting Sirax’s attack. The sorceress’s spell, a crackling whip of energy, impacted Fyledorf’s protection, making the strands of his spell blacken and wither.

Alrick had the crystal, but before he could scramble to his feet and flee, Sirax turned her attack from Alrick to the crystal, attempting to pry it from his hands with the scorching might of a magical tendril.

At the touch of her magic, the crystal flared, sending beams of light through the cracks in Alrick’s fingers. He could feel Sirax’s magic under his hands, writhing like a nest of termites. The crystal was slipping from his grip and he could not pull it free! He gave a strangled cry of protest.

Fylendorf would not let Sirax have the Deamathir, however, and delivered from his fingertips a frosty blast of power meant to free the crystal from the grasps of the sorceress’s spell. But when the crystal received the touch of the good wizard’s magic, coupled with the sorceress’s dark power, a high pitched whine filled the room and all three, Fylendorf, Sirax and Alrick with the crystal in his hands, found themselves caught as surely as a boat under a lightning bolt, in a circuit of energy, pinioned and shivering. The loop of magic could not be broken; it was so much stronger than any of the individuals trembling in the force.

Alrick had never felt of sixth of such magical power in all his life. Every hair stood out on his body and his vision was consumed in raging light. He thought his heart would burst and his bones jangle together into fragments. Through it all, he was dimly aware of Fylendorf’s ragged moan and Sirax’s scream. It was the crystal’s power. Somehow he knew; it was the crystal.

Apprentice Hal, the only cognizant one left in the room, threw himself at Sirax, attempting to knock her from the circuit, thinking she was the cause. But even as the apprentice collided with her super-charged form, the power coursing through Sirax’s body overwhelmed him, and Hal burst into magical radiance, vanishing from the earth and leaving not but a scatter of ashes behind—such was the power.

Such was the power that the crystal itself shattered.

A small galaxy of scintillating fragments ruptured between Alrick’s hands with the most astonishing sound of tinkling chimes. He felt Fylendorf’s protecting magic wash over him, leaving the confines of the crystal and transferring into his hands, down his arms, washing his center with a cool and deep wisdom, like an ancient river flowing into his being.

Mingled with Fylendorf’s magic came a murky and twisted force, repellent to Fylendorf’s energy, yet not strong enough to dispel it. Alrick shuddered as the dark energy snaked into his soul, and knew it was Sirax’s magic.

All fell still in the sundered kitchen but for the last shimmering fragments of the crystal splashing around Alrick like confetti. Fylendorf, heaving breaths, had fallen to the floor, and Sirax sprawled in what looked like agony against the chopping block. “My magic…!” she rasped. Her red, red hair was fading to gray and her beauty falling into wrinkles and ruin, as if she were aging rapidly. She raised a shaking, claw-like finger at Alrick. “You…!” she gasped.

The sorceress struggled to grasp the last threads of her magic before it all flowed into Alrick, the way a cut-down soldier tries to stuff his innards back in. With a pluck on the strands of power, she would weave doom, cutting free Alrick’s soul from his body!

But Fylendorf sent the last of his strength down the river of power into Alrick, a pulse of pure white light that dissolved Sirax’s last spell into a black fly that buzzed through the room, circling stupidly, before it fizzled out. “You must live...!” Fylendorf managed to say, but the energy he produced had been the last in his soul, and the aged wizard slumped to the floor.

Alrick climbed shakily to his feet, glitter from the decimated crystal sloughing from his clothes. His vision had returned and he could see now—see Fylendorf’s still form and the glaring sorceress, a withered husk with eyes full of spite. But though his eyes functioned once more, the power—impossible power!—the light and the darkness crashed and swirled inside him in an endless storm. It was all he could do to string one thought together, and that thought was,
Run!

But Sirax was not as disabled as she appeared, and with sudden speed, the sorceress—emptied of her own magic—drew a wand of power from her hanging robes, lashing at Alrick where he tottered. With the last ounce of her will, Sirax used her wand’s power to spin a hex on Alrick. “You are a pig!” she crowed. “A pig! No magic shall unweave this curse—not but true love’s kiss may break it, or a pig you shall forever be!”

Perhaps the transformation was a blessing in disguise, for as the pig’s form took Alrick’s body, it also suppressed the raging magic in his man’s mind and heart, such quantity of magic that otherwise threatened to drive him from his senses. Shivering from pain and confusion, the terrified pig who had been Alrick turned and fled into the back of the cave, leaping through the porthole…


* * *
(Cont...)
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PostSubject: Re: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:49 am

(Cont. from above)

“After that,” Alrick told his companions in the grotto, “I wandered the wilderness for a long time. Fyldendorf’s porthole sent me far across the woods outside of Mount Mynebeorg, to the opposite banks of the River Cwic.”

“The first people I encountered were a group of traveling performers. In fear that they, too, would see me as a tasty meal, I was quick to demonstrate with a few tricks that I was no ordinary pig. Unfortunately, they never thought or believed that I could really be a man, for the hedge mage who traveled with the troupe could detect no magic about me, let alone break the curse. So they conceded that I must have been a very cleverly trained creature. In any case, they found it more profitable to keep me alive than to eat me, and I soon became a part of their traveling show.

“I only half-remembered the words of Sirax’s curse, so confused was I by the magic delivered into my by the crystal…but I remembered enough that I began to despair that the curse would never be broken. The life of a traveling show pig seemed the best I could hope for, and though the repetition of the same mindless tricks began to wear on me, I made the most of my new existence, and the days began to fly by like so many grains of sand in the wind.

“I don’t know how long exactly I remained with the troupe—sometimes as a pig, the self-conscious and reasoning part of my brain seemed to recede, like the shore beneath the rising tide of porcine interest and experience—but it was long enough for the old leader of the troupe to pass away and for his son to take over and become gray-haired. And as the old members disappeared and the young ones became old, I slowly became aware of myself as Alrick again. I’m not sure what triggered this surfacing, if there was a trigger, but it may have been the way a young girl-child of the tribe treated me.

“Perhaps this child was aware of something unusual in me, for she began to talk to me as if I were a person. She saved food for me and brought it out to my cage after the others had retired. Unfortunately, neither she nor the other members of the tribe possessed reading and writing, or I might have explained to her my true story.

“In any case, the more my memories and my identity returned to me, the more the confines of my wagon prison and the tedious performance routines—always the same facile tricks!—chafed at me. I wondered what had happened to Fylendorf and his apprentices, and to the wicked Sirax, and I longed to return to Mount Mynebeorg.

“Then one night, the little girl who had befriended me came along with her bright ribbons, which she liked to tie around my neck, only this time, she also had the key to my cell. She said, ‘I’m going to let you out so we can play. Promise not to run away, okay?’ I nodded and she pried open the lock.

“As soon as the barred hatch swung open and I saw the clear space before of me, I leapt. My little hooves touched the ground and I ran just as fast as I’d run from Sirax, the poor child calling after me. I regret having deceived her, for I owe her my freedom, but it would have been for naught if I’d stayed.

“Again I wandered; though this time I had something to search for. Only by lucky snatches of conversation caught in passing, and by pondering the occasional traveler’s signpost was I able to at last discover my location and from there make my way back to the sacred mountain over many, many days.

“Snow was falling for the second time since I’d left the circus when I finally scrambled up the front steps to Fylendorf’s cave. What I found was only a dusty memory of what once lived there. From my dim pig’s eyes I looked up at the statue of my fellow apprentice, Eglemore, still trapped in stone, expression exactly as surprised as when Sirax’s magic touched him years ago. The ashes of Hal were no doubt still mixed among the crumbling scraps of paper and moldering furnishings. The place where I remembered Fylendorf having fallen now was strewn with a cipher of bones, scattered by foraging animals. Of Sirax there was no sign. The edges of walls and doorstops seemed to be melting, collapsing into each other, and I realized that the magic that once kept Fylendorf’s cave alive was withering.

“From these clues, I pieced together a little more of what must have happened. The Sorceress Sirax had been seeking to gather the Deamathir, either for her own selfish advancement or for a greater, darker purpose. Whatever the case, her search led her at last to Fylendorf’s door. But the Good Wizard would never surrender an artifact of power to a depraved heart, and sought to make me—for reasons he never explained—the guardian of this particular crystal. Perhaps the brilliance of his scheme was that I was the least likely place to hide it.

“Whatever Fylendorf knew of the matter is lost forever. All I can be certain of is that he gave his magic to protect the Deamathir, and at the very last, when all that was the Deamathir passed through me, he gave his life for mine. Because of his deeds, his magic now lived in me. I did not realize this until I stood there in the good wizard’s cave, after how many years…I know not.

“The other side of the coin, of course, was that the Deamathir had also pulled Sirax’s magic from her as surely as a turnip is pulled to the root. Their opposing forces, Fylendorf’s and Sirax’s still slithered inside me, just above the surface of my pig’s mind, so to speak. And when I thought hard, I felt that magic there. The feeling was like tottering along the precarious brim of a sucking black ocean.

“But now as I stood in the cave, another thought came to me. Had Sirax realized all of this in the moment, and turned me into a pig in order to preserve the power, with the hopes of prying it from me later? The thought was like a harpy’s shadow falling over my back and I was certain she would now reappear and make good on my fears.

“I fled again into the forest, and I again I wandered. But now I fear this tale has taken much longer to tell than I expected. How could I know?—for I have never told it before.” Here Alrick paused and looked at his long-empty soup bowl, dried and grown cold. He furrowed into the shadows cupped there. “There is a good deal more to tell, but I will try to make it more succinct.

“I told you that this is not the first time I have become a man again after living as a pig. Well, at this point in my wanderings, I still had little hope of ever breaking Sirax’s hex, but happenstance and doubtlessly a flaw in Sirax’s spell, allowed me a brief return to my true state.

“Living in the wilderness had many hardships for me. Not only is a pig a tasty prize for men and beasts alike, but finding enough to eat was often a challenge. In spring I sniffed my way to scrumptious truffles, in summer I found edible plants, nuts and berries, and in autumn the fields of men are filled with delectable roots and squash. But winter was hard on me. And one winter, when I was particularly thin and weary, a swineherd and his charges happened upon me. Lacking the will to resist, I allowed the swineherd to take charge of me and was happily rewarded with a pile of tasty scraps, all that I could eat.

“Like many people, the swineherd soon came to notice that I behaved differently from the other pigs. This was perhaps in part because, after my survival needs had been met, I came to realize that my life in the herd might easily come to an end roasting on a spit, and I thus took pains to distinguish myself to the swineherd.

“I do not even know that kindly old man’s name! But it is thanks to him that I discovered the method of breaking my curse. For my tactics succeeded; the swineherd noticed me and eventually took me out of the herd altogether. He put a collar on my neck, and called me ‘Mayor Pig,’ though just ‘Mayor' for short, and treated me much as men treat their favorite hounds. He let me live in his humble cottage, fed me from a dish and gave me a bed of my own to sleep in. No one lived in the cottage but we two, for the old man was alone in the world.

“And one evening, the old man was moved to bestow a good-night kiss upon my head.

“I do not know if Sirax, in her weakened state, failed to weave the curse as intended, or if perhaps the magic had simply grown old, or been unraveling under the force of the magic inside me, but whatever the case, the old man’s kiss to my head was enough to break the hex. My surprise was at least as great at the old man’s. He had bent to give his pig a kiss on the head, but there before him stood a man.

“He staggered back and I might have been concerned he would die from the shock, but that I myself was in great pain from the transformation, so caught unawares.

“’What Deviltry is this!?’ cried my former master.

“I sort of oinked and coughed at the same time, unable to do more. I was very slow to realize that I was a man again, like one waking from a cavernous dream. I lay on my side and stared at my hands. I expected by now to be ancient and wizened, more so than Fylendorf himself, but my hands looked exactly as I remembered them.

“The poor old swineherd, my benefactor, was too much disturbed and ran from his own house. I do not know what became of him, though I hope he lived—still lives, perhaps—happily, despite the strangeness I visited upon him that night. When I was able to move again, crawling, staggering, at last walking on legs that felt made of rubber, I went out into the night, joyous and terrified. How would I live now that I was a man?

“Well, I told you I would make this short, but it seems I have failed. Suffice it to say, that after some thought and testing of my new self, I discovered that my magic was much greater now than I had ever dreamed possible, though using it was strange, like trying to recall a foreign language one hasn’t spoken for decades.” Alrick smirked at Lac. “And with my newfound power, I decided that the first thing I would do was break the curse on poor Eglemore, and perhaps save Fylendorf’s cave.

“A couple of months later, I found the sacred cave in Mount Mynebeorg for the third and last time. It was difficult to enter, for the mouth was deteriorating, as was everything inside. Luckily, the cavern holding Eglemore was still intact, for it was the kitchen and the most natural part of the cave. After probing at Sirax’s handiwork, I discovered it a very tough nut indeed, but I was not to be deterred. Such magic as I had seething inside me, I was sure I could unravel her weavings, especially now that so much time had passed and the threads of the spell were weakening.

“I called into the minutest fibers of my being and drew up every spark of curative magic I could remember, holding in my mind the image of Eglemore, warm-blooded, moving and alive with color. However, as soon as the great magic passed through the walls of my being and graced Eglemore’s stony form, I felt an unexpected backlash snapping and popping along my skin.

“When the light peeled away, Eglemore stumbled forward, alive and well again—though rather confused—and I found myself a pig once more. As Eglemore exclaimed, ‘What on earth? What magic is this?’ my attempts to explain came out as a squeal. Elgemore stared at me. ‘What are you?’ he cried. ‘No natural pig, I’ll warrant!’

“Eglemore’s fear and confusion frightened and confused me. He was always a bit rash, and my reasoning part told me he might do something to me I would regret before he figured out what had happened. On top of that, my pig senses demanded flight, so I regret to say that is precisely what I did. I turned and wriggled out of the cave, leaving the baffled Eglemore alone in the ruins of a life he would never be able to reclaim. Did I do him any kindness with my magic? I know not. I have never been back since.

“And I do not know why I became a pig again, either. Was it because I touched Sirax’s magic? Was it because, due to the unstable nature of the hex, this curse of mine was never truly broken? I do not know, and I do not know if I will remain a man this time, either—though, I certainly hope so.”

Alrick flashed a smile at his two Elven companions, and took his bowl and some of the utensils to rinse at the mouth of the grotto.

“Anyway, that is the bulk of my tale. I think that last transformation happened roughly four years ago, although it could have been seven. And then I met you,” he finished, glancing over his shoulder to give the companions a measured look.
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PostSubject: Re: Scrolls of Gladsheim   Wed May 06, 2009 3:54 pm

THE LOST SEEING STONES & CRYSTALS OF POWER


Lac, listened to Alrick’s story as he starred into the fire. When Alrick mentioned the green crystal, Deamathir, Lac’s attention was drawn closer to what Alrick was saying. “This crystal was one of the lost power / seeing stones of the ancient world. Lost in the age before the time of the alliance of man and elves, at the end of the last Dark Wars, when the Dark Lord was banished to the abyss.” Lac thought to himself “There were six stones of power and seeing, each held a crystal of immense power within them. At the time of the defeat of the Dark Lord they were secreted away and hidden through out the free lands.

When all six were brought together, they wielded a power that had the potential to either plummet the world into darkness where evil ruled or lift it to the heights of enlightenment and peace.”

Lac starred deeper into the fire as he remembered his lessons from his childhood. He remembered the wizard Radagast instructing him in many things. A vision of Lac as a child sitting with Radagast by the banks of the river Ginglith as the wizard told him of the stones and of a seventh crystal and stone that had been conjured by the Dark Lord to control the other six. This last lost stone held the power, when brought together with the other six to seal the world to an eternity of darkness. Before Lac had left Oron_D_Narr there were rumors that the seventh stone had been found. The Dark Lord seeks it relentlessly.

“Could the crystal, Deamathir, have been destroyed? Or could the wizard Fylendorf , have hidden it magically with or within Alrick? If Alrick did in fact still hold Deamathir and was not aware of it, his protection was crucial. Destiny had drawn Ssinjin, Alrick and Lac together, that was a certainty.” these questions and thoughts filled Lac’s mind.


Lac glanced at his two companions and for a but brief moment his face showed the passage of time, the weariness all his travels and battles and strain of his destiny. His gaze then returned to the flames of the fire, as Alrick finished his tale.
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