The Flame of Time

Those Who Enslave, are Enslaved Themselves

With no leads on the location of Sir Jeffers, the party had no choice but to continue forward. They walked the streets of Raven’s Pointe, listening to the calls of traders. Some called for rides north, some south. Some calls implied they were heading to a certain location and were willing to take travelers for a fee.

But, by fate or happenstance, the wind carried one cry to their ears above all: “Headed to Kraggenmoor!”

The group approached the young man who had called for them, he was clad the simple and practical garb of a man who had many miles ahead of him. His frame was bent under the burden of a heavy traveling sack with pots, pans, spoons and other cooking utensils sticking out of every crevice and falling along the ground behind him. He was holding a giant winter cloak as well.

“Hullo friends, you lot have the look of ones whose feet have known the burdens of many miles. The name’s Jimithy Banderwidth and I just so happen to be heading north to Kragenmoor. I know the way, but, alas, I have not the means to get there. Perchance are you heading northward?” The young man said, with a wink and a smile.

“We are. In fact we are headed for Kraggenmoor as well.” Said Leomourn.

“Excellent! I am ready whenever you all are.”

Amalyn let out a sigh of consternation, “It is mighty presumptuous of you, boy, to assume we are ready to accept your suspiciously fortuitous offer.”

Jimithy, with a hearty laugh and a slap of the knee, turned towards the haughty elf, “Well if you can find anyone else in this town that can guide you through the frozen wastes of the north feel free to make use of their services.”

With little choice the party headed north with their newfound companion leading the way. While traveling they learned that the young Jimithy had made his living as a cook at the local Six Moon’s Tavern in Raven’s Pointe. Recently the Duke of Kraggenmoor had the good fortune to have eaten a meal there while visiting and, being so impressed, had immediately offered Jimithy a job as his own personal cooko the cook. The DukeMarius Wolfsbane offered Jimithy a job as his personal cook.

During the journey Jimithy offered to cook the group of adventurers a warm meal as payment for taking him with them. The party relaxed and unwound around the fire. The young cook prepared a grand stew, and ran off into the darkness with a torch looking for “wild spices” and “sprouts.”

As dinner was served Leomourn sniffed his bowl of stew suspiciously. “I’m not usually in the habit of eating mysterious stews,” he grumbled, never taking his eyes off Jimithy.

“I c-c-can assure you, Sir Stalkingwolf, that my cooking is of the finest quality,” stammered the nervous young chef.

Rolling his eyes, Delgen placed a reassuring hand on Leomourn’s shoulder. “Allow me to bless your meal, dear boy,” he said, “That way we can all be sure that no ill fortune will befall this sumptuous banquet.”

“Sure cleric, but I must tell you my simple mind casts a fear of magic that holds true,” replied Jimithy.

“‘Tis no magic, friend, just a simple prayer to our all-father Moradin in thanks for such a nutrious and, I’m sure, delicious meal,” said the dwarf as he surreptitiously evoked the magic of a purification spell over the food.

The party ate heartily, being exhausted after their arduous journey. However, they soon noticed that the food lacked the scrumptious flavor that would be expected from a meal prepared by a famed cook. Indeed, upon closer inspection, the stew was little more than random weeds and grass that were just floating in the pot over the fire and in their bowls. Unfortunately, before anyone could protest their vision started to blur and fade into darkness.

They all felt their limbs go limp as they slowly slumped to the ground. Stew flowed freely on the dirt, skulls cracked on stone, and in their last waking moments they saw a ghastly sight: Jimithy began to cackle, though not in the voice that they had previously heard. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his arms fell limp at his sides. A dark form appeared in his chest, the shape gradually increased in size and formed what appeared to be the head of an anthropomorphic yak. At last Jimithy’s body joined the others on the ground leaving only the cackling Yak-Beast standing.

The full form of this monster triumphantly stood over the helpless bodies of his newest victims. Delgen was the only one in the party to recognize this creature: a beast that lived on the surface of the southern mountainous region of Rienland, but to no avail as the entire party were now drugged by natural herbs. A form of sedation known only to the bovine Yak Folk, a form of sedation that even purifying magic cannot prevent.

Consciousness came in fleeting visions. Images of the real world entered the somnolence. Vistas of slavery and manual labour. They were drugged and made to break rocks and dig into the earth.

Unknown days and months wore on without change. It was Delgen whose mind first pierced the drug-induced haze. Unfortunately, though his indomitable will made him the first aware of his surroundings, he was still unable to regain control of his physical form. He would rouse from his stupor and then be administered a foul white viscous liquid by his captors, once again pulling the veil of oblivion over his dwarven eyes.

Until one day.

“You’ve been given a rare chance, boy. Not many have the opportunity to rise from slave to master.”

“I thank you, kind sir. I shall not fail,” said a second apprehensive voice.

The voices sounded to Delgen as if they were miles away. Slaves, thougt Delgen, a white-hot fury building in his mind, We have been made slaves.

“Listen, boy, for these are the most important words you will ever hear. Give them all two doses every morning, or they will revolt! Give all the dwarves three doses, for they are stout-hearted and have an iron stomach,” growled a voice that carried the unmistakable guttural accent of one of the yak-folk.

“Yes, kind sir.” Said the second, smaller voice as the distinct clopping sound of cloven hooves gradually faded into the distance. Delgen’s mind fought to communicate with his body, but all seemed lost. However, he heard the cautious footsteps of the second individual approaching him.

“Okay, it was two doses for everyone and three for the dwarves. Or was it two for the dwarves and one for everyone else? Come on Jameson, you don’t want to mess it up, you just earned your freedom!”

With quivering hands the nervous elf poured two vials of black ichor down the sturdy dwarf’s throat. As the hours wore on Delgen gradually felt sensation return to his body. He was free.

Delgen liberated himself from the bonds of his cell, immediately formulating a plan to free himself and his compatriots from their predicament. The young elf servant had been administering a bitter black concoction to the prisoners, but Delgen noticed several other vials on the lad’s belt that filled with a white elixir. With his years of experience Delgen deduced that the white vials could be an antitoxin. Fortunately, Delgen found that their yak slavers were so confident in their potions that the slave quarters had no locks or security to speak of, the poison fed to them was enough to ensure that there was never an escape.

A white-hot fury rose deep within the Dwarf’s belly. The very idea of being enslaved nearly drove him into an uncontrollable fury. It was only with utmost self-control that Delgen prevented himself from running rampant through the slaver’s facilities.

Spending the whole night in prayer to his God, Delgen was fortuitous enough to snatch a vial of anti-toxin from his new guard. That he night left his room and gave the antitoxin to his fellow thief, and explaining the situation, asked Darella to try to purloin more antitoxins off the guards the next day, since she would be better suited to do so. Delgen said that it was lucky that he even pinched the first off without alerting the young elf guard.

Over the next few days the dwarf and rogue managed to steal enough anti-toxins to liberate their comrades and calculated their situation and their method of escape. They decided to act as if under the toxin’s effect, while secretly spitting out the filth as the guards looked away. They saw that they were enslaved amongst fellow elves, dwarves, men, myconids and various other creatures under the earth. They saw that the yak folk who had brought them here had taken the amulet from Amarella’s neck, gaining control of Bernard, and often amused themselves by throwing rocks at the construct denting his metal and pushing him around, all the while laughing.

A careful reconnaissance by Darella and Amalyn revealed that there relatively few guards compared to the number of slaves employed. In addition to the Yak Folk they had already seen they spotted drow archers clambering along the walls of the camp mounted upon riding lizards. The two also noticed that every day, around midday, all the guards abandoned their posts, disappearing into the camp’s main building for at least an hour. The party used these daily absences to scour the camp for supplies and weapons. Darella broke into the guards’ barracks and got some weapons, not finding all of their gear, but finding a flaming longsword.

There was either a natural or magical cloud cover over this encampment, which it was they were unsure of but they did notice it was dark enough at all times that all these guards and slaves were not blinded during the day. But the party decided to attack at night when the guards were deep asleep.

Under cover of darkness the party charged out of the slave quarters. Amalyn and Leomourn fired a barrage of arrows, permanently silencing the drow sentries. Next, with a swift prayer Delgen created a zone of silence around the guards’ barracks, allowing the party to quickly dispatch the slumbering slavers within. As blades glinted in candlelight and blood fell upon the guards’ bed clothes Amarella took the necklace back from the yak guard after she drove the light sword into his chest. She was reunited with Bernard once again.

Kicking in the doors of the encampment’s headquarters the party was greeted by a disturbing sight: a large demonic statue made of cold, black iron with three figures laying prostrate at its feet in bizarre reverence. The figures stood, revealing themselves as foul denizens of the Underdark. Two Durzagon, the cursed spawn of dwarf and demon from the underdark stood flanking a drider priest. After a fierce battle the three zealots were felled and, upon a thorough search of the room, the party noticed a cage in the corner beside the statue.

Approaching the cage they found a small figure inside. It was a small hooded creature lacking a substantive form, appearing merely to be a floating cloak over shadow. Its eyes peered intently from under its hood, seemingly reflecting a light from deep within the cowl.

“What strange devilry is this?” pondered Amarella.

At the sound of her voice the creature stirred in its cage. “I am a memorist,” croaked a dry and haggard whisper.

“A what?” Leomourn asked.

“I know things, I feel things. I can see the history of something, see the events that happened around it with but a touch. I felt the skulls you brought with you in the chest,” the creature said.

“Why are you in this cage?” asked Amarella.

With great effort the odd creature continued to speak, “They are using me to find some treasure — some mysterious stone buried deep within the earth. But whatever this strange strone is, I can feel it has been the cause of many deaths, including mine,” the memorist suddenly sat up, casting its gaze over the party with great interest. “They have forced me to overexert myself. I shall continue to fade and soon I will be no more. But perhaps I can still do some good with my time. I sense that your memories have been damaged. I can feel the scarring on the surface of your mind, protecting you from the pain of the past. I can heal that wound if you would like.”

“You speak the truth, little gremlin. There is much about my past that I cannot remember. I would welcome the truth,” said Leomourn, knowing that there was certain memories that were foggy if even there. The others looked at each other and nodded.

“Then touch me and I will heal you.” The group closed in on the creature and touched the dark cloth that enveloped the insubstantial creature, it felt like the robe was just hanging in the air.

All of their eyes closed and they received their Lost Memories.

After the rush of sensation and emotion had faded they opened their eyes, finding nothing left of the mysterious creature save for the robes laying in a heap on the floor of its cage.

Everyone stood in silence, contemplating the strange events that had just come to pass. Suddenly that silence was broken by the piercing sound of metal grinding on metal. Behind them the hideous statue that had loomed ominously began creaking to life.

Delgen came to the conclusion that this vile statue must be a true specimen of the fabled Rogue Eidolon. These evil constructs were thought of to be made and worshiped by dark beings deep underground. As a gift, a vile god or goddess would send down a piece of his or her own being and animate the statue, either to guard against nonbelievers or to send aid or guidance.

With some effort the party broke the spell that animated this evil statue and walked out of the guard building victoriously…or so they assumed…



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