I leaned back in my chair, smiling in satisfaction as the adventurer left the tavern, his tale of searching still fresh in my mind. It was intriguing, this hunt for antiquity. There are always those who seek such, for curiosity’s sake alone but I had a sense there was something more still. Here then, is the story of their quest.
It began, as so many do, in the heart of Waterdeep at the Great Fountain. An old elf walked the streets, looking for stalwart adventurers to aid her in a search. For Waterdeep is the town to find such, either as they pass through or make their homes within the walls of the City of Splendors.
In due time, the woman was found my an elven ranger, Llandrien by name. With him was his frequent companion and guildmate, the healer Iduna. This old woman, who seemed familiar with Llandrien, began to speak of a commission and a search. Other ears caught wind of the discussion, and soon a small gathering had formed around the Great Fountain where the old elf spoke. She asked the gathering to find her a book, a rare and ancient tome that was penned during the days of Netheril. What this book contained, she refused to say but she stressed the importance that it be found.
There were many, who were willing to take up this quest, their eyes aglow with the thought of adventure. The ranger gathered them about himself, dispatching one lone traveler to the south while the others gathered themselves. In short order, Llandrien had gathered a mighty group about him. Then the elven druid Aaernn began beseeching his patron for transport, and a shimmering well formed on the ground at her feet. The elven woman left, saying she would await word in her lair to the south as the company waded into the magical waters.
For Tiran had been the messenger who was sent ahead, and now he waited patiently as the magical well appeared and his companions stepped forth. They journeyed to speak with Ragefast about the book, for Ragefast was the master of the Great Library and surely would know of such a tome. The group disarmed and presented themselves to the keeper of the Library.
Ragefast received them, though he was in a surly mood. It seemed he didn’t like being reminded that there were tomes his library did not possess. Indeed, the Great Library of Baldur’s Gate had no tomes composed in the age of Netheril. Ragefast shrugged it off as a matter of security and value, and directed the companions to try a library that had a more active security. Their patron, the elven woman, had mentioned a citadel to the north and it was there they journeyed.
Once again, the magical transport abilities of Aaernn were employed to great effect, first gathering the companions at a crossing of the roads north of Waterdeep. Once again, Tiran was dispatched as a forerunner to find his way through the dark and twisted grove that shielded the Citadel from casual visitors. It was no effort for the ranger to pick his way though however, and after another of Aaernn’s magical pools the group stood at the gate to the Citadel.
There they faced an enchanted door, sealed with a command word and warded by a riddle. The group shouted and beat upon the door, hoping to draw the attention of the denizens and receive an audience with the Master of the Citadel. It was to no avail, for the only answer they received were the muffled sounds of explosions behind the mighty walls. It was during this time that they waited, that another companion joined the quest, and then still two more. They now numbered ten; Llandrien the Ranger, Iduna the Priestess, Talomis and Tiran fellow rangers. Larble the devout follower of Yondalla, Dyrax an eccentric elementalist from Waterdeep. Aaernn was the elven druid who transported the company with such facility. Mogr was a newcomer, a barbarian warrior hailing from the north. Tida was their enchanter, always ready to shield a companion with magic. Dwiblio, a spellhurler of mighty strength came to assist as well.
Together, the companions deciphered the riddle and were able to gain entry into the Citadel. Their turmoil did not end there, for they were faced with the daunting prospect of overcoming the Citadel guards in their quest to see the Master. Patrolling elementals and apprentices both assaulted the group as they climbed. Llandrien’s company tried to parlay with whichever wizards would listen, and were informed repeatedly that the only way to see the Master was to win their way to his study. It was with heavy hearts that the group continued their ascent, felling what foes that stood in their path and pleading with other apprentices to pass word to the Master of their presence. In due time, after many a battle, they stood on the landing outside the Master’s study with only the large golem Guardian barring their passage.
Again, the group tried words to win their way by but the golem was impassive. They assaulted it with blade and spell, hurling destruction onto its stone surface and reeling from its countering blows. Billows of gas issued forth from the golem’s mouth, and he hurled spells in an attempt to rebuff the group from winning past him. But even the Guardian fell before the might of the company gathered for this quest, and Llandrien gingerly picked the smoking key out from the rubble that remained of the Guardian before passing through the portal.
After they recovered from their assault on the guardian, the company strode boldly into the Master’s study. They had won past his challenges, although the blood staining their hands and armor left a foul sense on their souls. The Master was uncaring about the plight of his apprentices, shrugging off their deaths as better sooner than later. Although his attitude angered many in the group, they fought to keep a civil tongue as they interrogated this wizard about any visitors to his library.
He was able to give them a mixed blessing of news. He had indeed met another traveler looking for such a tome, though his library did not possess such. The Master was able to direct the companions southward, to where an ancient ruin lay and an old kingdom rested upon the desert sands. It was there, he said, that the other man looking for the tome had spoken of going. The companions despaired, for they were now in a race against one who knew already where to go and was there. They curtly thanked the Master for sharing the information, though they despised his practices regarding those pupils who came to study under him. Aaernn provided transportation free of the accursed tower for the Companions, and they settled in to wait while both Tiran and Dwiblio were dispatched southward to serve as anchors for another of Aaernn’s magical wells.
Dyrax entertained the Company with tales of his ancestor, another conjurer of great power. Their scouts were efficient, and it was not long before they were able to avail themselves of Aaernn’s moonwell to travel the length of a continent through a single step. The heat of the desert washed over the company, and to their south a massive sphinx gate rose overhead. Several more were recruited to the cause at this point as well – Daslar, another barbarian from the frozen north; Molor, a dwarf of uncommon stealthy persuasion and finally Vandic, another dwarf of no stealthy persuasion whatsoever and a guildmate of Llandrien.
Molor was familiar with the warrens of Nizari, for that was where the library they sought was. He slipped into the city, using his stealth and facility with locks to win his way past the gates and the hungry denizens of that unfortunate town. The group journeyed again through a moonwell to reach Molor’s side in the Nizari library. They looked on in despair at the wreckage of the shelves and contents, for it was obvious that they had been rifled through thoroughly. There was nothing to do but speak with the Vizier of the palace in an attempt to learn who had so thoroughly plundered the library.
He was an evil man, several of the party noticed immediately. His eyes studied everyone carefully, assessing their worth and usefulness to him. The Company spoke to him with courtesy, treating him fairly despite how his covetous eyes lingered on their magical items and wealth. The Vizier was reluctant to share information for no benefit, but again Molor’s familiarity with the region asserted itself. The Vizier’s drug habit was stroked and fed through a supply of Calimshite spice that Molor bore, and under the effects of the drug the Vizier proved to be much more cooperative.
He spoke of a frantic traveler who came to the city, petitioning to look through their library. The man paid very well for the privilege to bear one of the tomes out of the dusty stacks, and the Vizier willingly granted such privilege. When pressed about the origin of this man, all the Vizier could tell the Company was that the man spoke of being a collector, and spoke with a northern accent.
Disappointment welled up in the hearts of the Company again, for now they were not only trailing in the race and the hunt but their opponent had reached the goal and spirited it away. Despondent, they journeyed back to the Turning Point east of Waterdeep, where Tiran knew of a man who was quite enthusiastic about his own book collection. The collector was out however, his absence from his haunts a glaring mystery in the face of the search the Companions had pursued across the face of the continent. They sat, lost and uncertain about their path when an Oracle appeared overhead. She spoke a prophecy then, her aged voice strengthened by the might of her pronouncement. One week, she stated, one week from the day the search began and they would be able to locate their quarry. Their souls buoyed by the news, the Company separated for now linked by the promise of fulfilling their search.
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