It’s good to be back in Grinadier. There are still dangers, to be sure, but here we know what most of them are. We also have powerful allies in the government and in the church. Still, I think most of my relief is just being home. Fallham, I have learned, is no longer my home. There are constant reminders there of my past life and a few old friends, but I guess I have moved on. I think that living in such a degenerate and corrupt place also took a toll on me. Grinadier certainly has issues, but here the prevailing undercurrent is one of law, order and stability; the pillars of my faith.
We are each taking some time to train and reflect on all that has happened. There was a lot, so it will likely take a few weeks to process it all. I began by visiting my old mentor, Gemedes. I no longer tell him everything, and in his wisdom, he doesn’t ask many questions. He understands that my current work requires a certain level of secrecy. It also seems that, despite the difference in our ages, that he is treating me more as a peer than a student. Perhaps more fascinating is that I am beginning to see him as an equal as well.
I spent most of the morning chatting with old friends. It was especially pleasant to catch up with Master Darius. He always seemed like such a hard man when I was under his care, but seeing him now with fresh eyes working with his new students I see that he is simply pushing them to excel.
“Sweat today so that tomorrow you won’t bleed.”
That always seemed so abstract before. Now I understand it so much better. The church here is quite prosperous, but I tithed nonetheless. “The giving is as much for ourselves as it is for the church.”
Perhaps, but in the future I will look for other, poorer places to return my blessings.
I received some strange promptings during my prayers today. Perhaps it was simple reflection upon what Westin said the other day, but I had a very clear vision of speaking with an elderly and noble dwarf.
We received a visitor today from Earl Bowman. He was inviting us to attend his daughter’s wedding three days hence. I was hesitant to accept as the Earl of the South may be involved in these plots against Earl Summers, and we know that the assassin, Pat, works on his behalf. Perhaps this was an attempt to draw us out. Westin didn’t seem to think anything of it, however, so we accepted.
Well, that was an exciting wedding. Lily Bowman was a lovely bride, but the real excitement came during the reception. The Earl was assassinated. Perhaps it is a coincidence that Pat was seen shortly before Stewart was murdered. Jalen sidled up and casually pointed her out. She didn’t seem to notice either of us.
No one saw the assassin either. Likely, he or she was simply invisible. The most curious thing, however, was that the dagger evaporated after the deed. Many were on hand, and there was a lot of chaos, but I was able to get close and see the blade. As it was pulled out of the Earl’s back it simply vanished in a small cloud of vapor. This means that his son, Radley, will take his place. I hate to say that I predicted this, but it was not a complete surprise. From the letter, it would seem that the Earl of the South may be in play as well. Perhaps the enemy is simply hedging their bets. If they have two earls in their pocket then it increases their chances of a successful coup later.
Westin grilled us all for almost an hour, trying to get the details. I get the sense that he had another set of eyes in place as well but either wanted to see what we’d tell him, or else, learn what the other might be holding back.
We all are starting to feel restless again. It’s nice being home, but after a month it starts to feel boring. We sat down with Westin again to discuss going after the dagger mentioned in the letter, the ‘Dark Devour’.
Everyone agreed that we needed more information before we blindly wandered into Mortimer’s tower. Westin was able to provide us with some useful history. Apparently, Mortimer was a gnome sorcerer/adventurer who made a name for himself along with his group, the Heroes of Redwall. In addition to Mortimer, the Heroes consisted of a Barbarian named Krawl, a Dwarf named Onyx, a Falakian warrior named Sabra, and a cleric of Belin named Jichan. Of these, only the Dwarf was known to still be alive. If anyone would have information about Mortimer, it would be a fellow adventurer. Apparently he still lives nearby in the underground Dwarven city of Rengar.
After a nice long break it was good to get back in the saddle again. Rengar is about a week away. We were only a few hours outside the city, however, when we were ambushed by a group of Stone Giants. They had chosen a spot along a switchback in the road that looked directly down on the lower section we were on. From our perspective, they were almost directly above us on a cliff. Fortunately, between my brother, Tanka’s deadly arrows and Nuan Shu’s deadly blade, the giants were felled quickly. Several of us had been struck by rocks in the beginning, but once Nuan Shu engaged them on the cliff, Tanka was free to fire at will.
The giants had obviously been in this location for a while as there was evidence of looted caravans among their possessions. The gems and valuable furs we gathered will go a long way toward equipping us in the future.
We reached Rengar today. A large, ornate door was built directly into the side of a cliff at the end of a short box canyon. The guards there were very polite when we asked for an audience with Onyx. Two of them led us inside a short ways into a cozy side chamber that was set up for meetings like this one. The room was only small in comparison to the grand promenade that continued further into the city below.
We enjoyed refreshments and a cozy fire while we waited for Onyx. I was not entirely surprised to recognize him from my vision a few weeks ago. Despite being well over 100 years old, his back was straight and he still seemed quite capable. He also had an air of wisdom and nobility. Onyx welcomed us and gladly answered our questions about Mortimer. His, apparently, was a sad tale. The Gnomish sorcerer had sacrificed much in preparing for the final battle in what would come to be known as the 2nd War of the Heavens. The Heroes had realized early on that the sheer numbers of demons and devils would overwhelm the defenders and so sought to raise additional armies for the fight. Krawl had returned to his tribes and united them under his rule in order to bring their strength. Onyx had made his case to the Dwarves and secured their help in the alliance. Sabra had gone oversea to Falack and returned with an army from the South. Apparently she had helped to place a Prince in power in order to secure his aid. Mortimer, meanwhile, turned to the dead. He embraced an avatar of Chelos named Kathan and learned the dark arts of necromancy. In the process, he gave up his mother and a large part of himself. However, his undead forces apparently turned the tide of the war and led to victory for the allies. But then, after the war, he was shunned for his new affiliations and secluded himself in the tower that now bears his name.
We also mentioned the need to use the Library, well, Faelyn kept interrupting to bring it up, I should say. However, if Onyx felt any irritation towards our Elven Wizard, I couldn’t detect it. Onyx promised to use his considerable influence to grant us access if we were successful in putting to rest the ghost of his old friend. As that was our goal anyway, it seemed easy to promise.
How does one defeat a ghost, however?
Onyx did have some useful information about ghosts. He explained that it is rare for someone to remain after death, and that only a great injustice will usually cause such an event. He went on to tell us that powers greater than ours would be needed to defeat such a creature, but that a ghost could be ‘put to rest’ if the perceived injustice were rectified.
None of us were certain what Mortimer would have felt the injustice was, however. But we did understand that it was critical that we guess correctly, or the whole thing would backfire. We didn’t want to be speaking to a ghost when it decided that it didn’t like us.
So we all took a short break while I prayed. In my divinations, Diakris made it clear that Mortimer desired fame and recognition for his deeds.
I shared my revelation with the others. If Mortimer had lived out the rest of his days isolated in a remote tower then he must not have received that glory. Also, as we recalled the history of the war, Mortimer’s contributions were largely overlooked in the official versions. Perhaps we could play to that, to explain that his contributions were not forgotten. Onyx agreed that this was an important aspect of Mortimer’s character, and would need to be taken into account.
It was my brother, however, that suggested that we write a book. “History is written in books”, he said unexpectedly. The more we thought about it, the better it sounded. A written account would allow us to carefully construct the narrative that we wanted and would also be clear evidence that we were serious about reversing the wrongs that had been done to Mortimer when his sacrifices were forgotten.
Onyx was able to find us to an accomplished local writer who was able to weave our ideas into a compelling story. Felspar had published several historical books and was able to give our account the tone and gravitas we wanted.
We’ll likely be here for a few days at least, so a suite of guest rooms near the entrance of the city were made available to us. Additionally several younger Dwarves were left to ensure that our needs were met and to guide us around the parts of the city where we were permitted. I am amazed at the hospitality and courtesy that the Dwarves have shown us. My preconceptions of Dwarves as miserly and untrusting seem to be misplaced.
We spoke to Felspar this morning and explained the direction that would need to be a recurring theme in the book was that Mortimer had made a noble sacrifice in order to destroy a great evil. Onyx was also on hand for much of the day as we explained the ‘forgotten’ history that he would be writing. It was a great help to have Onyx there as he was able to remember many of the events. After taking notes all morning, Felspar asked to be excused to begin working.
We met with Felspar again this morning and looked at the outline he had prepared from yesterday’s notes. We deliberated over a few points but agreed that the basic outline was good. He took our critique and started working. I have to admire the work ethic I’m seeing from these Dwarves.
After lunch, a friendly young lass stopped by and offered to give us a tour. Rengar is amazing. In a way, it reminds me of the temple of Andura. The scale and the attention to detail is incredible. But, where the temple was all flowing lines and soaring heights, Rengar is order and perfectly straight lines.
Felspar finished his work today. As I read the final version I felt that Mortimer’s contributions were definitely accounted for now. Some of the language seemed a bit over the top, but Onyx disagreed. He knew Mortimer best and felt that the Gnome would revel in such flowery attention, so we let it go. Now let’s pray that it works. Onyx saw us off, also wishing us the best and renewing his promise to get us into the library if we were successful.
We arrived back in Grinadier around mid day. We spent most of the rest of the day shopping. We sold the loot from the giants and bought provisions for the trip. We hope to leave in the morning for Mortimer’s tower.
We headed out at first light as planned. The weather is pleasant. It’s warm, but the altitude helps ensure that it doesn’t get too hot in the afternoon. Today’s ride was uneventful. It is getting a little chilly at night. Thankfully Faelyn is able to make our campsites comfortable with his magic.
We arrived at the tower today. It took more than 2 weeks, but there were no serious problems along the way. Now that we’re here however, the building doesn’t look anything like a tower. It’s short and squat, though solidly built.
As we approached the front door, a magic mouth bid us welcome in a pleasant voice.
“Welcome to the tower of the great wizard, Mortimer. Mortimer is on the top level. Say hello to the other guests”, it intoned.
For some reason, we were all more unnerved by that than if something sinister had greeted us.
Inside the fun began.
The front door was unlocked and untrapped. Within was a large open area with rooms in each corner and a spiral stair in the middle. We also heard the sound of a well played harpsichord. As we rounded the corner to see where the music was coming from, we saw a ghoul look up from his playing and charge at us. Each of the dark doors also spewed forth another ghoul. Fortunately, they were easily overcome. It was at this point that we noticed that the spiral stair did not actually pierce the ceiling, but rather ended abruptly. The darkness coming from each room entrance was absolute and radiated dark and evil magic. It was decided that we probably had to overcome something in one or more of the rooms in order to proceed past this first level, so Tanka volunteered to make the attempt. Fortunately, we tied a rope to him before he entered, because no sooner did he disappear into the room than he collapsed.
We had to drag him back out. Fortunately, he was still alive, merely drained and unconscious. I was able to recoup what he had lost, but this left us with another quandary. How do we proceed?
It was then that Jalen mentioned the harpsichord. Perhaps there was some magic tied to that. Faelyn checked, and indeed the instrument was enchanted. None of us were musicians, but Jalen volunteered to try to play the music that was in the stand. It was entitled, “The Great Wizard, Mortimer”.
After a few sour notes, the rooms spewed out more ghouls.
Eventually we was able to play a decent rendition of the music and this caused an opening to appear in the ceiling above the stairway.
We climbed up into a similar room above. Again the stair continued up into an unbroken ceiling. This was surprising, since, from the outside, it appeared that the building was only 2 floor high. This level contained a number of skeletons, one of which was recounting a liturgy on Mortimer’s greatness. The head skeleton was a difficult foe, but eventually he was defeated along with the others. His armor was powerfully enchanted.
Once Jalen recited the text that the skeleton had been reading, the opening appeared and we were able to continue up.
The 3rd floor was like an art museum. Numerous statues and paintings of Mortimer were on display. All of them depicted a larger than life-sized gnome that seemed to ooze power. The stairwell continued to spiral upward into a solid ceiling.
This level contained spectres, however. It was here that I stopped to cast Death Ward for the first time. However, I was unable to keep up with the spectres and they did their damage before we killed them. Looking around we noticed a single painting of Mortimer that had been started, but wasn’t complete. Based on the lower levels we decided that we’d have to finish the painting in order to proceed. After some missteps that drew another spectre into the room, Tanka completed the painting and the ceiling opened for us.
It was dark above, but we could hear a gnome casting spells.
I called out for Mortimer, trying to explain why we were here, but the casting continued.
Eventually the darkness vanished and we could see that we were in the top level of the tower. The ceiling was vaulted and the stairs had ended. However, 3 vampires were waiting for us. The first 2 were likely thralls and they fell quickly to sword and divine wrath. The other, however, was a sorcerer and put up a challenging fight. In the end, we hurt it enough that it retreated to it’s dark room in the corner. We dared not try to follow. Instead, while Nuan Shu and I guarded the entrance, the others searched the room. Mortimer was not here, but the path had ended. We must have missed something.
Sure enough, a concealed door was soon discovered that led up and out…outside the walls of the ‘tower’. Clearly there was something extra dimensional going on here.
At the top of the straight stairwell we found another door. Beyond that was Mortimer’s madness.
A dozen or more incarnations of Mortimer floated in the room. They laughed, they joked, they jumped around…then they asked why we had come. I explained that we were seeking to correct the history that had ignored Mortimer and gave him the book. The minutes stretched on as he read. His laughter turned to weeping. When he finished the book, it floated to the ground and Mortimer’s copies began to disappear. Eventually we were left alone in the room.