The Undiscovered Country

An Ordinary Morning in Mwynglawdd-Orllewin

The altar was laid out exactly as specified in the Llyfr, measurements precise to the milfed. Moreg had always insisted on it. She wasn’t among those filing into the Sereneglwys this morning, but the elder priest’s health made that almost impossible these days.

As the last of the congregation shuffled in to the stone pews, Carreg sensed unease. To see an elder at death’s door was a rare and unsettling occurrence. Dwarvenkind society is a well-oiled machine, and Moreg’s gear meshed with so many parts of it.

Carreg clasped her hands and muttered a command in infernal, dimming the patches of algae around the room to a dull glow. Another word, and the intricate mechanism of the serentalflwr whirred into life. It cast a bright white point on the hemispherical ceiling, just above and to the left of the altar.

“Star of the morning, guide us.”

later

“Followers of the Authority believe that He is justice. No. Justice is balance. Justice is scales, with the Authority on one side and our Lord on the other. There is no night without the morning, no morning without the night. While it is true the Authority is the arbiter, even his followers concede the Lord is who reads our Ledgers. Never forget that.”

later

The second case came that morning. Owain had ceased work at the rock face. That afternoon, Ifanna froze while pouring a crucible. By the night shift, all of Mwynglawdd-Orllewin had stopped in place.

Except for one.

later

Carreg knelt by Moreg’s bed. The elder’s ashen grey face— not the pallor of death, but the solid unwavering grey of cast iron— took on the greenish glow of the algae. She brushed away a tear. No good to start breaking down now. No. I’m a dwarf. Dwarves fix things.

“I can fix this.”

“Just give me time, mother."

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Gnome to prepare

Wullie looked down at his fiance as she slept with her head resting on his chest. He smiled, stroking her hair softly. It had been a hard couple of weeks since Hamish had left him, but his beloved Queen had done everything she could to support him. With the comradeship of the Undying Force and the kind words of people in the citadel, the pain of his loss was beginning to ebb. He would always miss his brother and remember their adventures, but he could now envisage a time when he could think of Hamish without the horror of his death overshadowing the good times they’d had.

Of course the sadness that Hamish wouldn’t be with him for the new good times would remain forever. Wullie tried to swallow the wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him again. Hamish wouldn’t be there for what should be the happiest time in Wullie’s life….nor for his farewell to bachelorhood party. By all rights Hamish should’ve been the main organiser of his farewell party and the best gnome at his wedding, but………he sighed, there was no point tormenting himself.

The organisation of the wedding was taking a lot of their time now. It had been a very long time since there had been a royal wedding and the citadel needed something to celebrate, so the decision had been made that it should be a big event. Wullie didn’t mind either way – a big ceremony or small, so long as he could marry his Queen. He suspected she was likewise minded, especially after having to sit through hours of discussion about how the guests at the wedding feast should be seated. Two more weeks and it would all be ready – a few days later and they would finally be bound together.

Two weeks – he should speak to Dipsy and Corporal Skeleton to see how his farewell party arrangements were getting on. The Undying Force had been determined that in Hamish’s absence it was their responsibility to give Wullie a good farewell. He’d left them a few nights ago having a lengthy argument about which tavern they should start in and just how many daisy chains would be required for all the revelers. From a conversation with his beloved, she had witnessed a not dissimilar conversation with her courtiers, who had promised to arrange her farewell party. Wullie smiled fondly, Dipsy had expressed concern that the Queen wouldn’t have anyone who could provide her with daisy chains and had given Hamish a couple to pass on for the courtiers to study. He’d kept one and draped it on his love’s hair when they’d retired to their private quarters. Their simple beauty had complemented her own radiance and he had once again been speechless at his good fortune.

Tomorrow he would spend a little time in his little workshop, making some gifts for his friends as a thank you for their efforts in helping him prepare for his wedding (and everything else). He already had an idea what he would make for each of them. Then there was his wedding present for his fiance – that would take a bit more time, but he had a little over two weeks left which would be fine. He found great satisfaction in making things, especially now he was effectively retired from active duty in the Undying Force.

His mind drifted…..he wondered what had happened to the brave group that had headed to the Tomb of Horror. Nothing had been heard from them recently, but equally…nothing seemed to have changed to suggest they had yet failed in their task. Perhaps they would succeed and be able to celebrate their success at his wedding. He would like to meet the lovely Elf that had written all that music again, but maybe it would be too painful a celebration for her. He would’ve liked to introduce her to his Queen though. Oh well – only time would tell if they would succeed in their endeavors, but he truly hoped luck would be on their side for all their sakes.

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Season 5 Session 3

Emerging from the metal tower after a much-needed rest, the party are greeted by No Name, arriving late after dealing with some pressing business. (Speculation that this involved intimate relations with Captain Jonathan remains unconfirmed.)

After much discussion, the decision is eventually made to investigate further down the main corridor before going into the side passage that was previously hidden behind the fresco.

The party proceeds in the established cautious approach – skeletons, followed by mage hands with poles, followed by the party itself. Along the way, Mortimer manages finally to piece together the message inscribed in the painting, which turns out to be a lengthy, bombastic verse giving cryptic clues to the dangers in the Tomb framed by general abuse aimed at anyone who reads it. There is a division within the party as to how to approach this information, with Mortimer and Carreg in particular keen to decipher the verse for guidance, while Anarië remains sceptical on the grounds that the message may just as easily be disinformation.

At the end of the corridor is an archway with a curtain of grey mist, framed by three coloured globes, and a demon face sculpture whose mouth is a pure black circle. Pressing the coloured globes in sequence quickly banishes the mist, revealing a corridor beyond, but when two skeletons are sent through to investigate they vanish on entering the arch. A skeleton sent into the black mouth also disappears, appearing to be drawn swiftly in with a crunch of compression. Mortimer can sense that the skeletons that went into the arch still exist, though their location is unknown, but the one that went into the devil mouth appears lost for good.

Hoping that the secret corridor may provide a less hazardous way into the Tomb, the party moves back up the corridor. A number of ten foot poles lashed together provide a bridge over the pit in front of the door, and the party quickly moves down a short corridor to a door.

Behind the door is a room containing a living gargoyle! It doesn’t last long, destroyed by the party’s magical blasts before it can so much as advance towards them. Amongst the gargoyle’s remains is a necklace of ten blue jewels, which Anarië puts safely into a sack with a mage hand. Apart from this, the room appears empty – but Carreg’s dwarvish upbringing allows her to spot two secret doors.

Behind the first door is a small room whose walls are covered with an array of little holes. It transpires that entry into the room triggers metal darts that fly from the holes to the occupant. Mortimer surrounds himself with a shield of skeletons, while he and Carreg progress through this room through another secret door into a series of similar rooms, each featuring the same holes in the walls and more secret doors whose mechanisms Carreg proves adept at understanding. As their route through these rooms curves round, Lubash rushes through the hail of darts to join them.

Meanwhile, Rima grabs a handful of metal darts to use in her magic, before she, Anarië and No Name open the second secret door and explore within. This turns out to be a tedious exploration – a series of empty rooms culminating in a blank wall – only enlivened by a running debate over Anarië’s insouciant classism and No Name’s defiant lack of class.

Going back and rejoining their colleagues, the elf ladies are in time to go with them into a chamber that promises to be the end of this slow crawl through tiny, trap-ridden rooms.

Taking stock, they decide to return to the metal tower for a rest before continuing their exploration.

Deaths so far: 0 (not counting skeletons)

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The adventures friend
10ft poles r us

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Roll the Bones

Mortimer rose at the same time as his dwarven friend, the party having returned once again to their magically summoned tower, at the entrance to the tomb.

Just before dawn’s light broke over the horizon Mortimer was awoken by a newly bound skeletal servant, one of three that remained. It was dawn, he had duties to perform.

Mortimer met Carrig heading up the stair to the roof. The two comrades nodded to each other and the slightly taller of the pair smiled at the realisation she would have company in her morning devotions.

The gnomes rituals however had moved on, his infernal was spoken with a dialect a thousand years removed from her own, and he frequently mixed it with eXestential. When the familiar moment for knives to be drawn came upon the pair;

“Blood of the willing, leave me”

The smaller of the two caught his blood in a bowl full of ground bone, he mixed it with his blade until it was a pink powder.

Those watching saw he attended to his ivory-bone cohorts with the mixture, muttering prayers of mending to the dead gods, for surely they would grant him the power he sought to grant to them, to repair their dead essences and make them whole again, for had they not promised this? Raised Asmodeus from his dead state to an undeath the god would now have them restore him from?

But his prayers came to naught, his devotions brought no fresh unlife to the broken bones of his soldiers who had protected him from the foul traps. For indeed these were soldiers, true they were not gnomes, but how could they not be considered “undying” they served at the will of their Corporal.

Fine, if the dead-gods wouldn’t leaned him their divine aid in this particular endeavour, he had plenty of his own dark arcane power to call upon! Enough damage could be done to his soldiers to break the spell and cause them to fall, but a pile of bones was all he needed to get them back on their feet. Too many good gnomes had fallen already, he wasn’t about to see his latest recruits wasted!

As the dwarf left the rooftop confused, the Gnome thought he spied another face at the entrance to the battlements, one unburdened by the need for 8 hours of sleep… did the grieving elf observe his spells? Did she have some desire on learning the ways of the arcane, or maybe the necromantic? She had indeed suffered a terrible loss, she wouldn’t be the first to come to him for an alternative to death.

But Mortimer was left on the ramparts for the moment, in thought.

They had the riddle of the tomb, they had a way in, fraught with vicious traps, there was a teleporter that seemed to send them to random deep places in the tomb, indeed he had two soldiers still to rescue. However their method was sound, and as much as he distrusted the next most powerful magic user in the group, (because apparently she just did things at will, stupidly reckless, no proper function calling, bet she didn’t even do proper mental garbage collection of ethereal floating pointers), he at least knew she shared his sense of caution, and liberal use of mage hand.

It was morning, the figure doned his new breastplate, before covering it with his blue/black robes. He picked up an infantry shield he’d borrowed from the town and daubed in blood with a modified version of Asmodeus’s star on it, surrounded by necromantic markup. He took up his captured glass-staff in one hand and his 10’ pole made of fused femurs in the other, and looked across the group.

“Once more unto the tomb, my friends, once more?”

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A Modern Marvel of Machinery

Highly-redundant traps. Mechanisms still functioning with 500 years of uptime. Counterweighted trapdoors. Fifty-ton rock walls sliding into place smoother than most tavern doors.

This tomb is Dwarf-engineered.

Three adjacent pit traps. Each one only takes one-third the load. Maintenance becomes much easier: far less chance of catastrophic failure on each individual trap, and the chances of two failures? Infinitesimal. Should one fail, the other two still function just fine. Built-in redundancy employed to deadly effect.

Trapdoors that only open when weighed down with the full mass of a human being. Only triggering on its intended targets: few false positives, few false negatives. Dwarven precision at its finest.

This machinery is extremely well-preserved. It works just as it did when it rolled out of the artificery five hundred years ago. Oh, the preservation magic in this place probably has some small part in it. But can such magic keep hinges lubricated? Counterweights still perfectly balanced? Springs poised and coiled? Metal free from fatigue and oxidisation? This tomb was built to last.

I’m no engineer. But I am a Dwarf. We know our work when we see it. We can see the ingenuity behind it. We all have the same analytical mindset.

Seeing this tomb at work has got my wheels turning. What secrets of engineering does it hold? What advances have been made in the centuries between our times?

I’m going to find out. When I return to my colony, we’re going to replicate it.

And then we’ll win the war.

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Season 5 Session 2

The expedition to the Tomb of Horrors begins. In Hommlet, Mortimer, Lubash, Anarië, Jack, Rima and Carreg equip themselves with ten foot poles, beasts of burden potions of healing and whatever other arms, armaments and supplies they can get their hands on in this small town.

The journey to the location marked on the map takes a week, and leads the group into remote, desolate territory. A solitary hill stands at the designated place, topped with standing stones. Evidently the tomb is within.

Circling the hill, they find that the southern end is a cliff face with a ledge above it. Mortimer sends one of his walking skeletons to stand at various places on the ledge, carrying a heavy rock, to no great effect. Jack runs his hand all along the cliff face, searching for magical influence. He finds none. An attempt by Carreg to use Mortimer’s levitation spell to float into the air and punt herself across the hilltop with a ten foot pole proves inconclusive.

Eventually Anarië suggests a systematic survey of the hill, using the skeletons to prod into the surface at regular intervals with ten foot poles. The cliff face is the first are surveyed, revealing three door-like depressions in the vertical surface. Anarië insists on a thorough survey of the entire hilltop before proceeding, causing much grumbling from Mortimer. The survey takes a day and turns up no further entrances. Mortimer manages to avoid saying “I told you so” for several seconds.

The skeletons dig open the three depressions, excavating the entrances to three corridors. The left corridor has a high, disordered-looking ceiling and ends in a door, the right is short and leads to a double door, and the centre corridor leads off into the darkness.

Anarië sends a ten foot pole wielded by a Mage hand into the left corridor, poking and prodding at the floor, walls and ceiling. The ceiling promptly collapses, filling the corridor with rubble.

A similar exploration of the right-hand corridor has little effect, but when Mortimer sends a skeleton to open one of the doors, this prompts a wall to move across the corridor, cutting off the doors.

There is only the centre corridor left. It has various grotesque frescoes along the wall, and a snaking red tiled path along the floor. This all looks very suspicious. The party rope themselves together with ten feet of slack between them in case of sudden falls, and establish that they will send Mage Hands with poles ahead first to probe the surfaces, then skeletons with rocks, then finally the party themselves.

Attention initially focuses on the small metal box affixed to the wall some way down the corridor. Mortimer sends a skeleton to investigate, but it appears the box is empty.

Skeletons also travel up and down the near part of the corridor, investigating whether it is safer to walk on or off the red path. One skeleton, sent farther down into the darkened end of the corridor with a torch, is seen to suddenly fall out of sight as if falling down a trap. Another skeleton sets off a trap in the near part of the corridor, despite this area having been prodded already by pole-in-Mage-Hand. The skeleton is retrieved, having fallen into a ten-foot deep pit of spikes, the smear of strange fluid on its bones indicating that the spikes are coated with deadly poison. The party decide to shorten the slack on their ropes to five feet.

Examining the pit trap, Anarië figures out that the mechanism will reliably trigger if stepped on by someone of normal weight (or a boulder-carrying skeleton), but will only trigger two times in three if prodded with a pole.

The party moves in as far as the small box. Jack immediately senses illusion magic within it, which Mortimer dispels to reveal a vertical lever inside the box. The party move far to one side before Mortimer uses one of his undead hands to operate the lever, which proves just as well when the lever operates a pit trap directly in front of the box opening into a thirty foot drop.

Investigation of the frescoes reveals that there is a message contained therein, although it would probably be necessary to read all the way to the end of the corridor to discern its meaning. Rima is more interested in the realistic depiction of a prison door with monstrous hands gripping the barred window. Knocking the walls with poles reveals that there is indeed a hollow space behind this door. After much inconclusive discussion of how to batter the door down, standing as it does in front of a thirty foot pit, Anarië cuts to the chase by blasting the fresco with firebolts until the wall behind is revealed, then blasting that too, assisted by Jack’s Eldritch Blast, until the wall gives way to reveal a corridor.

Deciding it is time to rest before venturing further in, the party walks back out of the corridor. Rima produces a small metal cube which transforms into a two-story fortified metal tower, positioned with the door facing into the Tomb. Everyone spends the night in the tower, recuperating from their exertions.

Our heroes have explored fifty feet into the Tomb of Horrors. None are dead thus far.

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Gnome To Rest Eternal

Wullie lined the remaining members of the Undying Force along the road from Master Burn’s tower and had them salute as the group heading to the tomb left. It was their due when they were going to such a place on behalf of them all. He wished they could do more. Once they were out of sight, he ordered his troops back into formation and marched them back into the tower. They had another duty to perform now.

Leaving his comrades to get their gear together, Wullie went in search of Master Burn. On finding him, he gave a respectful salute and asked for a moment of his time.

“Sir, I respectfully request your assistance. I must travel with my comrades, back to the Citadel, to bury my brother and brief my Queen on what has been happening. Could you send us back? In return, if there is anything you require or if you need urgent assistance, just send me a message and if it is within mine or my Queen’s power, we will help.” Wullie expressed seriously & sincerely. “You are welcome at the Citadel anytime. My Queen would be honoured to meet you and your consort, but I fear she cannot come here herself.”

Wullie took a deep breath as he finished his speech, hoping it was ok and he hadn’t missed anything out. Master Burn gave a nod of acknowledgement.

“I’ll help you return.” he agreed. “Your brother died with honour, defending this place. We will be eternally grateful. You are welcome here anytime.”

Within the hour, Her Majesty’s Undying Force were amassed around the perimeter of Master Burn’s teleportation circle. Wullie stepped gingerly into the centre as the portal to the Citadel throne room opened, saluted Master Burn and stepped through. On the other side, he moved swiftly to the edge of the circle, turned to face the portal and stood to attention. One by one the first half of the Undying Force came through and took up a waiting position on the other side. Slowly, feet first, the lifeless body of Hamish Nackle, with silver trombone, was passed through the portal into the arms of the waiting soldiers. Once he was through, his four bearers marched to the edge of the circle where Wullie waited. Lastly, the remaining four members of the Undying Force crossed through the portal and joined their comrades. As the portal closed a lone piper, stood by the Queen and her retinue, sounded out a lament. Wullie, leading the Undying Force, marched across the throne room, stopping at the foot of the steps that led to the throne and saluted.

“Your Majesty.” he began, “We have much to report that couldn’t be done other than in person, but as you know, one of your loyal officers was taken in defense of others and we therefore ask for preparations to be made for a full military funeral as is his due”.

The Queen took a step forward and took a moment to compose herself. “Scout, you can be reassured – Officer Hamish Nackle will be honoured for his bravery and loyalty. He shall be buried with full military honours in three days time. All in the citadel will mourn him and remember his exploits.” She took a breath and continued. “My loyal Undying Force – take your comrade down to the royal crypt where he can rest until everything is arranged.”

She watched as the five that could saluted once more and marched out, her fiance in the lead. He was back and safe – he had kept his promise, but to lose his beloved brother, that was a hard price. So many of Wullie’s kin had died over the centuries, it was heartbreaking. She wished there was something she could do, but other than keep her people in the citadel, her options were limited. Perhaps Wullie would have some news to report back once his brother had been laid to rest.


The funeral was large and impressive. The streets were lined with citizens as the funeral cortege moved from the Guildhall, where Hamish had lain in state, to the Palace. Wullie reckoned at least half the citadel had visited the Guildhall on the day Hamish had lain there. He’d been surprised and humbled by their veneration of his brother. It wasn’t just the fans of the Undying Force either, though they had been most attentive, but ordinary folks too. They all seemed genuinely moved at the loss of another of their Gnomes, another of their own. Wullie had never realised how much their citadel family cared.

Wullie felt overwhelmed, but with the support of his fiance and his comrades, he was holding himself together. He concentrated on marching, leading the Undying Force and the cart with his brother’s coffin. A group of pipers followed, playing military marches, and behind them were the Queen and her retinue, who’d insisted on joining the cortege. When they got to the palace they would be welcomed by an elderly Gnome, who’d insisted on performing the burial ceremony. The pipers would switch to military laments, before a lone trombonist would play the taps. Hamish would then be entombed in the royal crypt, alongside other military heroes, his battered battle trombone lain on the stone atop him.

Wullie fought to keep his composure. It would be a long day, but Hamish would’ve appreciated the efforts, particularly the huge wake the Undying Force had arranged for later. In fact – if there was any part that Hamish would’ve hated to miss it would be the drinking later. Wullie made a mental note to get Dipsy to help him in a rendition of Hamish’s favourite drinking songs. Thinking about it, he should also speak to the citadel royal bard – get him to record the songs in his books….there weren’t many of them left now, it would be sad if they were lost with the last of the Gnomes.

They were almost at the Palace now. Just a little further, a little longer….and they would be in the crypt again. There was a new inscription down there now though, above the place where Hamish would lie, along with a crest showing a dragon rampant next to a trombone.

For those that went before,
With honour and with grace,
Another comes to join you,
A casualty of war.

A Gnome with trombone roar,
Like others of his race,
Has said a last adieu,
While fighting in the corps.

Loyal to the oath he swore,
And eager for the chase,
A hero of the lengthy war,
Sleep the eternal rest.

A tear slipped from Wullie’s eye – he was going to miss his brother.

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In Hell
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Last Rite of the Day

Mortimer was silent, for the first time in months he had no wise ass remark to make… this… was great magic.

He watched the Elven bard turn a steel cube into a fortress and he was, impressed, no other word for it.

He didn’t find the idea of music being used for magic too crazy, music was ultimately just a series of patterns and control phrases, just like eXML music had it’s own rules and syntax that could be used to shape the container and the energy of the spell. That didn’t mean he understood it, or trusted bards… far too cheerful in general. Still he was surprised to find he felt for the loss Rema had suffered, enough so that he realised suggesting he could put the whole thing almost right with the addition of a little practical necromancy, might not have gone down so well. Instead he made sure her wife would remain as she had known her in life as in death, and let it be. Everyone had strange cultures about the dead, but he hated to see a body just… go to waste.

Mortimer chose the battlements as a place to get away from it all. The trancing elves creeped him out, and he had things to take care of. Cutting a sliver of skin, pricking his thumb, and adding a dash of bone dust to a pestle from his alchemist’s kit. He ground the previous into a thick pink paste, using it to scribe a simple XML tag on the inside spines of each of his skeletal servants. Instantly they snapped to attention. The small man used prestidigitation to clean his soldiers to an ivory shine, and refresh their scraps of armour.

“They might not have liked them last night, but fall in a few more traps for us, and they’ll realise, magic is about correct use of material components, not politics and ideals.”

His ritual done Mortimer sat down against a wall and picked up Master Burns spell book, for a moment he just held it. Master Burns had figured out a way to give, what Mortimer could only describe as “read permission” on other wizard spell books… he’d never known anyone manipulate Markup so quickly and with such finess, truly Master Burns was a magical master limited only by the age he had lived in!

He wondered to himself, for a moment, if the only thing that stopped any master of the arcane arts from becoming a king of all he surveys are the events and limitations of the world he is born into.

Then he looked over at the entrance to the tomb their tower now protected… inside potentially stood all the secrets to extended and immortal life Mortimer had ever wanted. Bonus, ironically it probably contained everything they needed to stop their collective enemy. Which of course was why they had summoned warriors from all parts of space and time… He wondered for a moment if he should feel sorry for the halfling, he’d know what power was required for magic over that distance, hell, he was a necromancer, he knew the thaumic energy in a mortal soul. Truth was he cared not, that was how Ashen Door agents protected the Citadel, they made the choices of when to wield arcane powers the Queen and Councils might not be able to stomach, for the greater good.

He looked back towards the temple. They knew the in, the rest was a lethal surprise. Laid down for them by a wizard not unlike himself. To protect his greatest secret, how to extend life and cheat death. Perhaps, even, mortimer dared to wonder, contain the dark wizard himself, the whole tomb perhaps a focus for some power, as the water wheel had been in the cave, perhaps with enough power to finally cheat death?

He looked at the book for a moment:

“How’d he get a frikkin’ beholder in der anywayz ah?!”

In this tomb were traps devised by a mind more devious and experienced than mortimer’s. Not at all clouded with friendship and remorse, he had necromancy so unique that necromancers of Mortimer’s generation were basically rediscovering it as they went along.

“He has an advantage on me in every respect, I got nuttin’ I…”

The gnome looked passed the book to his own hand, a small cut was healing from a week or so earlier when the dwarf had shown him something truly odd… how to pray.

“He didn’t have that… didn’t think he needed dat…”

Mortimer set about describing a summoning circuit on the roof, a double circle, it was always best to use protection. He had his unwavering servants surround his ritual and placed himself in the center, but in the dead of night he did not pray, for no gods lived to pray too… he sought to commune with the dead.

The flicker of the candels played over a grey world, beyond the circles the world was still dark midnight colour, but here, there was only grey, and, lute wallpaper? Was that a soft toy?… this is what happened when musicians messed with the powers arcana!

Dust swirled from the fresh, immaculate, roof of the tower, they took the form of a humanoid, devoid of detail or feature, the merest hint described by the hollowness in the swirling grey sands. The figure moved over, and as it came closer to a spot inside the circle the absence of swirling sands described the shape of a lectern, and a book.

“You can put that down, you’ll not be needin’ it.”

Mortimer stalked around the circle, around the void that suggested the dead god.

“Y’know where we are don’tcha? – you can feel it…”, “Y’know who, what, we’re up against on some level too? I’m guessing when we brought you back into this world in this time you sorta got extra info,forward and back, it’s not like them schmucks starting being animate again right?” He guestured to his skeletal guardians

The little man held up the index finger on his four-fingered hand.

“No need to chip in, I’m not here to pray to you for guidance, I’m actually not here to talk to you really, I’m here to ask you for one thing and I’ll tell you why: In there is the power to bring Asmodeus back to this world… In there is the secrets or objectives our enemies wish to use to finally gain total control of both lands. ‘There’ was constructed by a being that is more cunning, more clever, more devious, and powerful that myself or any in my party, maybe in this land.”

He paced, once again holding up a finger to the void that shaped a figure.

“I have nothing to use against this being and his tomb, I’m one of the most studied scholars of history, religion and magic in the Citadel, in the West, but I suspect he has me beat even on that score. BUT!”

A rye smile crept across the squat face of the gnome, between the frame of his pointed white goatee.

“I know something he didn’t… He KNOWS the gods are dead, he KNOWS they have been dead and gone for hundreds of years, but I know, they are not. Not any more, never really. 3rd law of Enochian Dynamics, even divine power can’t be destroyed, only changed in state.

He knew the gods are dead, I know, one of the gods, is undead…”

He held up a hand again.

“He had the intellect, the cunning, the necromancy, but he never had the divine, because the gods are dead.”

The little man walked into the swirling grey sands and looked up at the void.

“As the first Cleric of the Dead Gods I call upon you to lend divine favour to our quest, aid us in our holy mission.”

The void of a man remained unmoved.

“I know you have gleaned something from the worship of the bearded one, it might be the only ace that Acererak did not hold.”

He stepped back… the void of a man looked at him for a moment, lifted the void of a book from the void of a lectern and looked it over, then he put it down and brushed some dirt from the absence of a shoulder.

A golden grain blew through the turbulence and floated in a curve toward the pint-sized master of the undead. It settled in his hand and the towers darkened ramparts returned to view.

Mortimer felt in himself a confidence and warmth, a connection to a power that was not the cold of the grave, and a purpose, a sure sense of… a purpose that wasn’t careful, wasn’t what he had cautiously planned, so this was zeal? It would get one killed, this then was how the gods played dice?

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