The Dragon Arrows
Tall Tales from a Gnome's Perspective
The Stars of a Tinker
Loud metallic banging could be heard emanating from a small shop in the gnomish village of Tannan.
Glim paused to admire the progress on his latest creation, a door lock re-engineered with a rotating cog that would turn over, pinch, and snap a lockpick that entered the keyhole. Over the years, Glim had become a fine Tinker. He enjoyed pioneering new engineering methods, some with great success and others, utter failures. For a moment he recalled his youth, when his parent gifted him his first set of tools. How excited and anxious he was to get started!
The young gnome was generally happy in life. He had become fluent in his trade and enjoyed relative peace. Despite this, something still churned in his heart. He yearned for more. Glim knew, from stories he had heard, that magnificent feats of construction were being built all over Faerun. He wanted to see these works of art. How could he explain a flight of fancy to his family and fellow villagers though? Tannan needed Glim, or so he thought.
After several more days of incessant thought, the wanderlust had become overbearing and Glim sought the town sage for advice.
Farbis obtained the title of “Elder” or “Sage” because of the recent passing of Calgim. A wise Gnome, the small hamlet respected him because of his lifelong work ethic and sincere ability to problem solve. Although standing just over three feet tall, Farbis made up for his short, pudgy stature with superior intellect.
Glim arrived at Farbis’ home to find his door ajar. He peeked in and saw him at a desk, quill in hand.
“Come in Glim.”
Glim walked over to a chair near Farbis and looked at him.
“You may sit, son.”
Although quite the prankster, Glim would not dare to humiliate Farbis. Besides his parents, Farbis was the only other gnome in the village that was off limits for jokes and misbehavior. Glim sat down and patiently waited for Farbis to finish writing.
“Something troubles you Glim?” Farbis asked, his eyes not diverting from his book.
“Master Farbis, I am quite happy with my life here in Tannan. I enjoy my work and am surrounded by family and friends…”
“Well. Have you lived your entire life here in Tannan?”
Farbis put his quill down and turned to Glim.
“Well Glim, I was born in Tannan and Tannan has always been my home. But you see, that doesn’t mean I have spent every day of my life here. I have traveled to distant lands, long before you were born, but, no matter where I have been, I lived in Tannan. Does that make sense?” he asked with a wink and a smile.
“Hmm, yes, I understand.”
Farbis returned to his writing. A moment of silence went by, Farbis looking over his eyeglasses and not turning from his book, asked, “So…where would you like to go?”
“I want to see some of the mechanical masterpieces Faerun has to offer. Learn new things, seek new challenges. But I’m afraid of leaving the village, my parents.”
“Are you afraid of leaving your parents or of being somewhere new?”
After a moment of thought, he responded, “I guess the latter.”
“Mm hmm, that is what I gathered.” Farbis now put his quill in the jar, completely faced Glim, and gave him his full attention.
“Glim, I have been watching you closely since you were a child. You were always a step smarter than the other children. You always seemed to solve puzzles in an unconventional manner. You were a perfect fit to become a Tinker!”
Glim beamed. To receive such lavish praise from Farbis!
“However, there is more.”
Now Glim became confused and anxious to hear what Farbis had to say next. He leaned in.
“I knew this day would come, I just didn’t expect it so soon. I knew you would seek a new path in your life, and I am not necessarily referring to your career as an engineer.”
Farbis slowly stood, walked over to the door, and shut it. He then turned to Glim. With a motion and a few words, the room grew dim and a ball of light appeared to float above Farbis’ open palm. Farbis then tossed the ball of light upwards where it broke apart in to a thousand stars on the ceiling. Glim stared, awestruck.
He continued, “Glim, we all have our own fate to seek. The Gods above lay out a pattern for us, however, it is up to us to seize upon opportunities and make our destinies a reality. I have seen your stars, Glim. You are destined to be a master Tinker, yes. You have the potential to invent things that can change the world, but, you also have another gift. Something that has been hiding within you, dormant, for all of these years. Do you trust me?”
Still in shock, Glim quietly nodded.
“If you would like to take the next step in discovering your fate, you will need to leave Tannan. Your journey will take you to faraway lands. You will meet some fantastic people and some frightening adversaries. Through the trials and tribulations, you will become what the great Garl and Nebelun have envisioned. But, you must take that first step. Is this something you would like to do?”
Glim’s heart pounded. Faraway lands? Traveling alone? What is this other gift? Oh and, Farbis practices magic!?
With slight hesitation, Glim responded, “Will I ever see Tannan again?”
“Whether you see Tannan again is entirely up to you. Tannan will always be here for you. Your journey is yours to master though. If you would like, you can stay here the rest of your life and we can forget this conversation ever happened.”
Confidence anew, Glim proclaimed, “Yes, I want to chase my stars.”
With a smile, Farbis clasped his hand in to a fist. The stars disappeared and the room refilled with light. He then concluded, “Good, your first destination is Neverwinter!”
City of Skilled Hands
Breaking the news to his parents was difficult for young Glim. They were reluctant at first to let him go, however, after a private conversation with Farbis, they understood and wished him well. A tenday later, he gained a ride with a merchant caravan bound for the coast.
The group of wagons traveled along the river Mirar until reaching Luskan and then headed south along the coastline towards Neverwinter. The journey was slow and fairly uneventful. When one wagon’s wheel coupler failed, Glim was there to fashion a splint from a pint mug, a carving knife, and some thin rope. His tinker skills became very useful to the travellers.
Despite a few mishaps here and there such as these, Glim quite enjoyed the time with the traveling merchants. He could see himself enjoying a similar life selling his inventions, traveling, and experiencing new and foreign civilizations. Glim also spent a lot of time thinking about what Farbis had told him during the days leading up to this departure.
“Once in Neverwinter, find the Moonstone Mask tavern and ask the barkeep for Mandrel root.”
“What is Farbis getting me into?” he wondered, half excited and half frightened. Despite the fear, Glim trusted Farbis and that he was looking out for what was best. Still he wondered.
“You also have another gift.”
The caravan crested a hill and the large, looming gates of Neverwinter lie in the distance. A feast for a Tinker’s eyes. The Jewel of the North! The City of Skilled Hands!
Neverwinter was renowned for its artisan guilds. The city breathed innovation and technological beauty. Amongst these treasures, three stood out though. The Dolphin, The Winged Wyvern, and The Sleeping Dragon. These were the names given to three massive bridges that covered waterways that entered and exited the city. The bridges were built by master craftsman and each represented its own namesake. For example, The Winged Wyvern bridge literally had huge, decorative wings that sprouted from its sides.
Glim pondered some more. “Could Farbis be sending me to join one of these renown guilds?”
Upon entering the city gates, the first order of business was locating the Mask. Receiving directions from a local mead peddler, Glim collected his bearings and strode towards the tavern.
Walking through Neverwinter’s districts, Glim’s mouth lay agape. Each building held some sort of artistic appeal and the streets seethed with energy. All manners of life bustled around him giving passersby much to take in. The city was breathtaking for a small, village gnome’s eyes.
Turning a corner, Glim faced the Mask. A large tavern, the Moonstone Mask held its ground firmly between two even larger buildings. Glim had only heard stories of this legendary establishment and now he was about to enter it. Oh what adventures wait!
The Moonstone Mask
Mid-day light beamed in through adjacent windows as Glim entered the fabled tavern. Burning wood from strategically located fireplaces fought to cleanse the slightly dank odor within. Customers occupied about half of the tables and barstools as barmaids scurried about fetching ale and hand pies. After taking a deep breath, Glim slowly walked towards the bar, absorbing the atmosphere.
The inn held quite an eclectic mix of visitors. Glim had met many interesting people while living in Tannan. These were mainly travelers and adventurers coming from Luskan through to Mirabar. So although no stranger to other races, he had not seen them all in one place at the same time. Despite their differences, most got along, some could be overheard in heated debates over family origins and historical stereotypes. Glim noticed a few scantily clad female humans fluttering about whispering in some of the patron’s ears. He wondered their agenda. He also noticed the number of gnomes present. Only a few, whose eyebrows seem to rise when Glim entered.
Taking a seat at the end of the bar, Glim remembered what Farbis had told him.
“…ask the barkeep for Mandrel root”
“What can I get for you?”
“Ummm. Uhh. I just got in to town….,” Glim stammered.
“You don’t say,” the barkeeper replied sarcastically.
“..so what would your recommendation be?” Glim asked.
“Well, your kind seems to be in favor of the Darndarr, warmed up.”
“Sure, I will have that. Darndarr, warmed up, yeah.”
The barkeep chuckled a bit, turned, and then moved to another area of the bar to begin his preparation. Glim, now slightly flushed, took a long look around; mainly to see if anyone had overheard his debacle. Satisfied with the corresponding lack of attention, he spun back around to see a small earthenware jug in front of him. Looking, he spotted the barkeep at the far end of the bar now taking an order from an elven fellow.
Glim noticed this to be the same type of container that resided on the gnome’s table across the room. He slowly uncorked his jug and inhaled deeply. The concoction smelled of a typical beer but with more of a biting scent on top. No stranger to ales, Glim took a hearty swallow.
Glim felt his nose tingle. The beer had a great nutty flavor, a little heavy, but very manageable. What grabbed him though was the after taste. It pierced the aromatic body and slightly resembled the smell of lamp oil. He was strangely drawn to it. He also noticed the liquid held a cool temperature, not “warmed up” at all.
After several more minutes of imbibing his refreshment, the barkeep returned.
“Yes, but, I noticed this is not warmed up at all. It is rather cool to the touch,” Glim inquired, trying to sound more knowledgeable this time around.
The barkeep took a moment to stare at Glim dumbfounded, shook his head, and then stepped away to make the next drink.
A dwarf, about the size of an ox cart, spun on his stool and faced Glim.
“Lad, you new to the big city?”
“Yes I am, is it that obvious?” Glim noticed the massive two-handed maul at this side.
After a throttled laugh, the dwarf continued, “Well boy, when a drink is ‘warmed up’ is it not ‘heated’ up.”
Glim sat confused, glancing at the barkeep still at work preparing his next drink.
“You see, ‘warmed up’ means the ale has an added little… ‘kick’ to it. Make sense?”
“What kind of… ‘kick?’”
“A grain liquor of sorts usually. Ha! You are truly green! Well met gnome! Fargrim is my name!”
“I am Glim. Pleasure to meet a friendly face Fargrim!”
The two shook hands briefly as the second drink arrived. Glim looked up at the barkeep.
“So is this one….warmed up?”
“The barkeep smiled, “Yeah this one is nice and warmed up. You could even say, it is hot.”
Uncorked, Glim took a huge swallow. Fire immediately erupted from his nostrils. His grayish-white hair stood on end as his eyes bulged from their sockets. The barkeep, watching intently, doubled over in laughter. Glim, not one to be made a fool of (after all, he was the master of pranks in Tannan), stood on his barstool and locked eyes with the tavernmaster. A duel of sorts. Now he had the hushed attention of those around him. He looked at the jar, trembled slightly, muttered a quick prayer, and then tilted the bottom towards the sky. After a few moments of fervent gulping, he lifted the jar away and threw it, smashing it to dust against the stone floor. Glim’s head was a ball of molten lava. It resembled a summer-ripened Gorge tomato. He ripped off an obscenely impressive belch that echoed against the nearby walls, daring those in the immediate vicinity like a dragon protecting its roost. After a moment of silence, screams of laughter and applause roared from his new, unmet friends. He even garnered a few claps and a smile from the barkeep.
“Truly the heart of an adventurer!,” Fargrim proclaimed.
The bartender walked over once again.
“Dare I ask…..another?”
Fargrim quickly interrupted, “I will have what he is having, ha!” and then turned to converse with his party.
Glim, only now beginning to return to a normal shade of color, motioned the attendant closer.
“I have heard of a strange drink, a cider, warmed up a little with….Mandrel root?”
In a hushed tone he replied, “Don’t leave.” Then slyly followed up with, “…you got it! Coming right up!” Passersby took this time to walk by and clasp Glim on the shoulder, thanking him for the free entertainment.
The barkeep disappeared in to the storage room for a few songs then reappeared with a sturdy silver pint. He returned to his station behind the bar handing the foamy drink to the curious gnome.
“This one is on the house. Savor it though, you may not want to go bottoms up again….or maybe you do?” he mentioned with a wink.
The beverage passed the smell test, so Glim took a sip. The drink seemed bland. Not nearly as flavorful as the Darndarr. Of course, Glim could not smell much of anything after that last jug of hell he endured. So he drank and thought about what he was told.
“…you may not want to go bottoms up again…or maybe you do?”
The elixir soothed his scorched tongue and coated his throat. It went down much easier than the last drink. After another moment of thought he glanced over at the server. He then continued his glance slowly about the great room. When Glim felt confident his recent fame had waned, he turned over the mug and looked at its bottom. Scrawled there, was a word, “Storeroom.”
Glim pushed his empty mug away, dropped a few coins on the bar, and casually walked towards the door the barkeep had entered earlier. Once there, he waited a moment, and then slipped in, undetected.
A voice arose from the shadows, announcing another presence, “Glim I presume?”
Of Wizards and Wonder
Glim crept further in to the dark storeroom.
“That’s it boy, come closer,” the voice beckoned. “I know of Master Farbis. You have nothing to fear. I am here because he wanted me to be here, for you.”
“If I have nothing to fear, show yourself,” Glim replied.
A shadow slowly stepped forward in to the dim light. The older man was taller than Glim, however, short by human’s standards, no doubt a side effect of his advanced age. He bore rich purple robes with gold lining and a white scarf, delicately sewn with orange embroidery. In his right hand, a gnarled white staff that stretched like an old elm branch. And at the end, the branch grew around a glowing golden orb, much like a wooden claw clenching the sun.
“Are you…with the artisan guilds?” Glim asked, already knowing the answer.
“I’m afraid not. I have been told you are quite the tinker though. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I am here for another purpose. My name is Merick and I am an emissary from the College of the Arts. The same college your Master Farbis attended years ago. Farbis sees in you the same potential that someone once saw in him. For his exceptional success at the school, he was granted permission to extend a single invite to a new student. He chose you.”
The onslaught of information was overwhelming. Glim did not know whether to speak, or listen further, or to run. The combination of a liquor-filled belly and these new revelations proved too much. Glim promptly ran to an empty barrel expelling everything his stomach was carrying.
Amused, Merick stepped closer to Glim and whispered, “Do you accept our invitation young Gnome?”
Glim, with a sickly frown, looked up at the messenger and gravely nodded.
“Very well. Let us be off!” Merick closed his eyes, put a hand on Glim’s shoulder, and began speaking a chant. As he spoke, the golden orb grew brighter, completely lighting the room. After a few moments, he reopened his eyes, gave Glim a wink, and the two disappeared.
A few minutes later the innkeeper entered the storeroom and noticed the silent emptiness. He smiled while placing a freshly cleaned, sturdy, pint up on the top shelf.
A blink of time flashed and when Glim opened his eyes, Merick and he were standing within a stone courtyard surrounded by topiaries, manicured grass, and benches. In front of him loomed an attached building, extremely large, ornately constructed, and several stories tall. The building held secure thanks to bolstered towers on each corner, of which, also comprised of extremely delicate attention to detail. Behind the two, a thick iron gate stood guard over the courtyard.
Glim, startled from his brief journey, jumped.
“How? Where? What happened? Are we ok?”
“Sure we are!” Merick mused humorously. “I cast a spell which transported us from the tavern to here. We are at the College. Much faster than walking, wouldn’t you agree? I believe that answers all of your questions young gnome.”
Glim spun slowly, silently, consuming the incredible craftsmanship of the structures, ever so excited to be unto his new journey.
“Will I be able to…transport like that?” Glim wondered.
“Well, that all depends on you Glim. It takes many years of study and discipline to master the winds of magic. Some Wizards spend lifetimes trying to discover one specific spell.” Merick began motioning his fingers and a glowing butterfly appeared, much to the gnome’s delight. It fluttered and flapped its wings, exposing beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow. The old sage passed his fingers through the butterfly and it lazily faded away. “Other magic can be learned quickly, and once learned, requires no further study. So the choice is yours, but, I have the feeling you are the type interested in the nuts and bolts of life, yes?”
“You know me all too well Master Merick. You mentioned that Wizards will spend lifetimes researching one specific spell they are trying to accomplish. Don’t you mean their lifetime?”
Merick smiled. “Quite perceptive Glim. No, I meant lifetimes,” he corrected, with added emphasis. “Nuts and bolts. Yes, you will do fine here,” he concluded with a laugh.
The revelation sent Glim’s imagination racing.
The two began walking towards huge, iron-banded, oaken doors that braced the entrance to the school. Above the doors, scribed in the stone arch, read “University Magicka.”
Once they reached the doors, Merick looked down at Glim once more. “Your life is about to change. I am excited for you.” With that, the two entered in to the main hall.
Upon entering the massive foyer, Glim was taken aback. Races of all size and shapes buzzed about tending to their daily prerogatives. An adolescent Elf could be see walking with her hands behind her back and a large book floating in front of her, pages turning on command. Across the hall was a human boy prancing about, a glowing, magical cat chasing him. In an adjacent sitting room, a slender man, with horns protruding from his forehead, played a lute much to the delight of others singing along. Amongst the students, faculty could be seen moving to and fro, occasionally taking a moment to size up Glim as they passed.
“Classes have been concluded for the day. Students are allowed free time after class to study, practice, take care of chores, or relax. Although not in the classroom, professors still observe how students spend their free time. So be careful when you believe no one is watching. The pupils come from all different backgrounds. Some of them are the pride of their families for being chosen to attend such a school while others were cast out of their homes because misunderstanding parents believed their child to be cursed. Treat lightly when discussing your history with others. People here get along, but, that doesn’t mean disagreements don’t surface from time to time.”
Merick and Glim continued walking until they reached a large desk filled with many books and a gruff Halfling busy scribbling with a quill, not bothering to look up. Merick motioned for Glim to step up on the box, a standing area for shorter folks.
“Ahem, Ander, we have a new guest.”
The Halfling stopped his writing and looked up over his glasses at the Gnome.
“Is that right? So boy, what is your name and who is your sponsor?”
“My name is Glim Beren and my sponsor is Farbis Wandfritz.”
The Halfling, sounding agitated, began flying through books to locate the name.
“Ah yes, Farbis Wandfritz, here is he is….and….Glim Beren..got it.”
Glim wondered when Farbis added his name. Was it when he was younger? Did he somehow do it magically once he set out on his trip to Neverwinter?
“Well, Apprentice Glim, you will be in the East wing, third room. Finn here will show you the way.”
Apprentice? Glim held back a sly grin. He then turned and next to him stood the horned musician from earlier. Glim had never met such a being before but trusted he was of no danger. Looking up over his other shoulder, he saw his guide.
“Thank you Merick. You have been more than generous in helping me. Will I see you in the classroom?”
“Unfortunately, my days of teaching are no more, Apprentice Glim. You will see me here and there around the school though, and I will always be available for advice.”
After ending the conversation, the sage spun around and began walking back towards the courtyard.
Glim turned to face his new companion. He so badly wanted to reach out and touch his horns, but alas, he refrained. Hopping down from the box, he followed his roommate to their quarters.
The Infernal Poet
Glim became fast friends with his horned roommate. Finn had arrived at the school a few weeks prior to Glim and awaited a classmate in order to begin his studies. University rules stated that classes could only begin when a certain number of new students were present. Glim was the final student necessary for the small group to get started.
Finn was an interesting fellow. A little younger than Glim, comparatively, he represented a rather rare race of being. A Tiefling. These horned people also grew tails. Quite frankly, they resembled devils. Because of this, Tieflings found themselves often ostracized by uneducated commoners. Furthermore, Finn had become accustomed to this and had created methods (speaking in different accents, using disguises, etc.) in which to blend in to society without being noticed. However, at the University, he was free to be himself. No racial prejudice was present, only fellow students learning a craft.
Glim, being a Gnome, could identify with the prejudice though. The two developed a natural affinity towards each other. Besides, Finn was an incredible storyteller, musician, and poet. By far the most entertaining of roommates at the school.
Classes began slowly with students learning magical fundamentals including arcane history, collecting components and learning their uses, and the ethical use of magic within society. Glim and Finn ached for real magical practice, thusly, this period of instruction, although necessary, brought boredom. And with boredom comes mischief.
One morning Finn awoke to find Glim writing in his journal.
“Long night? I didn’t hear you come in until after curfew. Where were you sneaking around? You are going to get caught you know?” Glim inquired.
Finn sat up, gave a big stretch, and yawned so long his jawbones cracked.
“Even on days with no class Glim feverishly writes the day away. For your information, I went and borrowed something. Something you may be interested in.”
Glim put down his quill and turned to look at Finn with a raised eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
“I just happened to be walking by Dr. Ledbetter’s laboratory. So I decided to take a look around. Turns out, he had too many invisibility potions.” Grinning ear to ear, Finn reached under his bed and pulled out two small vials containing smoky green liquid, each with a cork stopper.
Glim leaped from his chair and grabbed one of the concoctions. “Whoa! What happens when he finds the vials missing?”
“I thought of that. I replaced these two vials with my own. Only mine were filled with green-dyed water enchanted with an illusion spell to provide the smoke.”
“You are truly devious Finn. What will we do with these?”
“Whatever we want, however, be forewarned, the effect has a time limit. So whatever we do, we must do it quickly.”
Glim and Finn sat in history class towards the end of another laborious lecture. While they began packing up their books, Chancellor Paendra abruptly walked in to the classroom and asked Professor Lister if they could meet after class. Lumpkin agreed.
Glim glanced over at his fiendish friend and tapped his robe, indicating the hidden vial beneath. Finn nodded in agreement and tapped his own chest.
A few moments later class was dismissed and student began exiting in to the hallway.
Both of the young mischievous students crept in to the open area and waited for the other students to move on. Once the coast was clear, the two young spellcasters uncorked their vials and drank the cloudy liquid. It tasted stale and resembled a thickness to syrup.
Glim looked at Finn and could still see him. He shrugged and wondered, “Maybe it was a faulty batch?” With that, Finn began to fade away in to the ether. As did Glim. Another minute passed and the two had disappeared. Glim felt a nudge on his shoulder and knew Finn was still out there.
Suppressing a giggle, the young men crept back in to the classroom and caught the closing remarks of the two wizard’s conversation.
“….in either case it must be investigated,” claimed Chancellor Paendra.
“Understood,” replied Professor Lister. “I assume you are taking the normal precautions to secure your quarters? The banned library?”
Finn looked over at his diminutive friend and noticed his moustache beginning to reappear. Glim could see Finn’s tail fading back in to view. Both quickly hurried out of the room.
Within seconds, the spies began reappearing in full. They immediately looked at each other, overflowing with excitement and raced off to their room.
The Forbidden Library
It was a warm summer day in the gnomish hamlet of Tannan. Glim and Wolt had finished their work and now lie at Den’s Creek amongst nature, pipes filled with tabac in hand. Conversation was light and carefree. Topics ranged from rumors to jokes to philosophical “expertise.” Glim felt elated to be home with his friend.
After a few moments of silence, Glim glanced over to where Wolt lay but did not see him. He lazily rose up to look around, but again, Wolt was nowhere to be seen. Glim called out Wolt’s name. No response. He called louder, nothing. Glim stood and began to walk towards the creek. He noticed the cattails growing around him; some began wrapping around his legs, restricting his movement. Now Glim cried out for Wolt. The weeds had completely constricted Glim dragging him back to the ground. As he fought for freedom, the fuzzy cattail ends began feverishly rubbing his face, tickling his nose.
Glim’s eyes shot open to see a Tiefling’s tail flapping in his face.
“Glim, relax, it’s just me, Finn. Boy, you must have been having some dream, ha!”
Reality set in and Glim wiped the sweat from his brow.
“It is time.”
Finn slowly opened the door, peering out in to the hallway, Glim close behind. After confirming what he saw, Finn looked back at Glim. “Clear,” he whispered. The two crept out to the east, leaving their sleeping quarters. As they moved, they used statues and niches to remain hidden. The Tiefling was rather adept at keeping quiet and moving gracefully, much more so than the Rock Gnome.
A fluttering sound could be heard coming from the west. The two dove behind a stack of wooden crates just in time to see the night watchman, a glowing owl familiar, fly past, searching for anything strange. Once the spirit had turned the corner ahead, the miscreants resumed their mission. The Chancellor had been away from school on city business for several days. The two wondered who was tonight’s babysitter on duty, looking through the familiar’s eyes?
As Finn came to the next corner, he looked around to see the owl already at the far end of the adjacent hallway, making it’s next round. The housing floor of the school resembled a large square. Stairwells on the east and west end allowed access to the other levels both above and below. This meant the owl would eventually be coming back, so urgency was now a priority. The two looked at each other and broke in to a sprint, reaching the stairs, and bounding to the floor above.
The two waited patiently on the stairwell, looking for another sentry. None appeared, so, they slowly walked in to the opening. About halfway down the hallway, they came to the Chancellor’s door. The door was locked, although no magic emanated from it. Glim, wise to mechanical locks, took a closer look in the keyhole.
“Good news, it’s a standard drop latch. You see, there is a hammer that drops in to a carved opening and….”
Finn pushed Glim out of the way, producing a set of picks from his waistband. He smiled and said, “Time is of the essence, Tinker.”
After a few precise movements, the latch cleared and with a loud “pop,” the door had unlocked. The two scurried in to the room and shut the door behind them quietly.
The Chancellor’s room was wonderful. Tapestries hung from the wall. A grand wooden desk sat, littered with interesting artifacts, scrolls, and books. Bottles contained strange looking plants of the likes Glim had never seen before. Above the desk, a magnificent map of the Sword Coast dominated the wall. Out of all of the organized chaos, one thing stood out. A quill was left in a full inkpot. Poor practice for any wizard, let alone, the Chancellor. It seemed as if Chancellor Paendra left in a hurry. The business requiring his attention must have been of great importance. Finn immediately went to work feeling the walls and searching the floors. The trigger had to be somewhere.
After several minutes of investigation, Finn remarked.
“Ah ha! I think I have something Glim. Come here quickly.”
Glim left his search and marched over.
“See the pattern of stones here on the wall? Does anything look out of place to you?”
Glim studied the area but didn’t quite see anything. “I’m not sure,” Glim answered.
Finn pointed at one stone in particular. “Of course! I see it now.” The grain of one stone traveled up and down rather than side to side like the others. “This stone did not come from the same source as the others when this room was built.”
“Precisely,” Finn proclaimed in approval. “I didn’t see or feel any traps attached to it, but you should still stand back.” Glim moved back to the opposite wall and then Finn pushed the stone in.
The stone gave quite easily, clicking when it hit its absolute limit of travel. After a second of nothingness, a faint glowing image began to appear, floating in the air. As it came in to clarity, the two could obviously see it was a skull. Then it began to speak.
“To those who wish to enter, a riddle you will find, answer incorrectly, a warrant you have signed.”
The two petrified thieves stared at each other. Then the apparition continued.
I have rivers without water
Forests without trees
Mountains without rocks
Towns without houses
The two began to think out loud. As they brainstormed, Glim glanced around the room. His eye caught the scrolls lying on the desk beside them, then the tapestries. The bottles of eerie plants mocked him as he began to panic. The skull repeated.
I have rivers without water
Forests without trees
Mountains without rocks
Towns without houses
Glim’s eyes traveled above the desk to see the huge lingering map. That’s it! A map! He looked over at Finn who was busy rubbing his chin with his tail.
“Finn, the answer is a map!”
With this declaration, the skull began to glow and then spoke, “_Entrance is granted_.” The stone wall opened to reveal a secret chamber beyond. Glim and Finn stepped in to the opening and were immediately surrounded by shelves of books. Dozens, if not hundreds, of banned tomes sat at their disposal.
Glim started on the bottom shelf making his way through the books, reading the bindings. Such fascinating titles!
The Great War of the Dusklands
Origins of Orcish Endeavors
Unscrupulous Uses for Nightshade
Just to name a few. Glim could spend years going through this private library and if he had his way, he probably would. But he was in search of a specific topic; these others would have to wait for another time.
Finn interrupted the search. “Glim, remember, we can only take one each.” They each brought a “dummy” book to replace the one to be borrowed. “We can’t risk the Chancellor noticing anything out of place.” Glim nodded, agreeing. Finn had located his treasure, a book of outlawed music and hymns written during a time of revolution in some far off land. After a few more minutes of searching, Glim saw something interesting.
A black, leather bound book sat on the end cap of one shelf. No title showing. The gold script on the cover described its contents:
Necromancy: A Lesson in Magical Animation
Glim giggled with excitement. He grabbed a book from the floor and filled the void left on the shelf. He then shoved his captured book in to this shirt. “Let’s go!”
Finn smiled and shook his head. As they left the library, the floating skull began to fade from existence as the wall closed shut.
Finn carefully locked the door to the room on the way out and the two snuck back to their dorm. Upon returning, the Bard placed the songbook under his mattress and jumped in to bed, excited by the evening’s events. Glim on the other hand lit a candle and opened up his black book to the first page.
A wise gnome sat comfortably at a small table inside an empty Bugbear’s Folly. A tattered, black, leather-bound book sat before him. In Neverwinter, reading this book in public would draw unwanted attention, but here in Phandalin, most were none the wiser. He randomly glanced down at the text below while drawing long pulls from his pipe.
Animation: Breathing life to an expired being and thusly bringing that life form back to the mortal plane of existence, to act on its own, or, under the control of the spell caster.
As the Wizard watched his wispy rings lift in to the air and dissipate, he pondered. This proved an interesting concept, however, what if similar magics could be used to inject life in to a non-life form, thusly bringing that man-made object to life?
This idea intrigued Glim.
“Master Glim, another ale?” asked the young maiden.
Glim looked up, slightly startled. “Eh, might as well!”
“Of course,” the gnome confirmed with a wink and a smile.
Glim’s eyes followed the maiden as she went on her way, fetching the order. They eventually came to rest on a hung suit of plate armor in a distant corner. Another one of Toblen’s trophies. He laughed as his imagination began to churn. After a moment, the Tinker’s chuckle turned to an anxious smirk and his eyes filled with wonder.
When the maiden returned all that remained was a single silver piece, for her trouble.
Strange Yet Familiar
A soft glow emanated from the windows of the quaint caravan. Only those without home or without scruple remained on the streets at this hour.
In an instant an owl appeared frantically flapping its wings as if it had been interrupted mid-flight on some other plane.
“Hello, old friend!”
The familiar immediately welcomed its master with a call of its own. Hoot looked like any other owl, however, its eyes glowed a mystical blue, depicting its supernatural spirit. Glim tossed a piece of dried meat to the bird that in turn caught it and swallowed in one motion
Hoot flitted about the cabin as Glim opened books at his desk. The young wizard admired the stout bird. For many lonely miles of travel, Hoot represented Glim’s only friend. The diminutive mage regretted dismissing the bird so candidly once he came in to the company of fellow adventurers. Glim had much to learn from Hoot.
Throughout the night Glim’s eyes bounced from his spellbook over to the black tome, as if trying to solve some arcane puzzle. He thought about the magic and components involved in summoning his trustworthy pet. Glim recognized some similar theory between materializing his familiar and animating a lifeless subject as prescribed in the dark text.
With a gesture a ghostly hand appeared in front of Glim. Another motion and the hand floated to a nearby bookshelf where it retrieved a notebook. The gnome’s mind raced with thoughts. How do we summon the hand? What similarities does the hand share with the owl?
Glim began to think out loud.
“The hand arrives from another plane, ethereal to be exact. The hand obeys my commands, but is otherwise inanimate. Although Hoot obeys me, he acts on his own as a sentient being. Also, when I initially used the brazier months ago to summon Hoot, I chose an owl. I could have easily chosen some other Feywild beast to aid me. What of those other beings and spirits residing in other planes? Could I choose them as I see fit?
Furthermore, if I can harness the magical aptitude to bring other, specific, spirits in to our material plane, yet in their native planar form, why couldn’t I call a non-specific entity to possess an inanimate object here on Toril? Say, the suit of armor hanging in the Folly? Or Silver’s paintbrush? Or this notebook?”
Glim glanced down at the book on his lap.
Extraplanar Experiences: A Memoir
Glim stared at a tiny flame dancing in his small iron stove. The flame infinitely changed shape, it was dynamic, it consumed, it had energy, and it lived. Does this make the fire….sentient?
“Let us not get too far ahead of ourselves Glim,” the conjurer muttered as he opened the cover.