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Author Topic: grimoire of Ar-Ashaad bin Rashid  (Read 2776 times)
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« on: August 10, 2006, 01:05:32 PM »

The Grimoire of Ar-Ashaad bin Rashid

(author: Darth_Yoder)

Darolan Arkaman was a rune wizard living in the Sarcosan Empire during the early Second Age. While the young wizard was a remarkable talent, he was born of the Asara caste and was amazingly modest – even shy. This lack of presence all but assured that Darolan would never gain acclaim or advance very far within the ranks of Al Fenzah. For years, Darolan quietly perfected his runecraft, creating magical inscriptions of not only amazing power, but stunning beauty.

After 12 years within the order, Darolan’s request for promotion from Guild Librarian Third Class to Guild Librarian Second Class was denied for the fourth time in as many years. It was at some point during this period that Darolan’s sleep became increasingly troubled by dark whispers.

As the months went by, the whispers began to manifest even during his waking hours. Fearing that he perhaps suffered from demonic possession or madness, Darolan kept this fact to himself lest he be cast out a sheol.

In time, Darolan became accustomed to the voice and even took to speaking with it. Those around him grew wary, but discounted the behavior as merely part of the reclusive young mage’s odd nature. But that was soon to change…

The mages of Al Fenzah awoke one morning to find the head librarian slumped across his private desk – the contents of his skull dashed across several open books. Of the many priceless treasures littering the chamber, the only missing item was an ancient tome of inestimable value and immense power - the Grimoire of Ar-Ashaad bin Rashid.

Only a handful in the order had been permitted to examine the book and only under the close supervision of their peers. Such precautions were necessary, for the Grimoire was the translation of an even more ancient work rumored to date from the Elder times. Within its pages, the Grimoire contained detailed instructions to summon and bind forces of terrible power. More importantly, the ancient brass pages contained thousands of true names belonging to creatures beyond the mortal realm. Armed with this information a wizard could command immensely powerful beings without fear of losing control.

Such knowledge was too dangerous for the mortal world. Beyond a few senior members, almost none knew of the book’s existence – let alone its presence in the library. But now the Grimoire and one of the order’s own mages were missing. Guild Librarian Third Class Darolan Arkaman was nowhere to be found.

Though Darolan’s actions seemed to be those of a madman, the runemage had meticulously constructed his plans over the course of two years. By the time those of his order found Master Librarian Jufahl’s body, Darolan was already aboard the merchant vessel Jezabel bound for the new colonies in Eredane. With naught else to do, the mage sequestered himself in his cabin and poured over the Grimoire’s ancient pages.

Four weeks later, an Imperial Ketch sailing from Hallisport spotted a vessel adrift and half burnt out. The boarding party immediately realized that pirates weren’t to blame for the attack on the ship and her crew. All that was missing from the ship’s manifest were three sea trunks and a single small launch. Of the bodies not much could be said. So little remained intact, as to make an accounting nearly impossible.

Darolan realized that word of the Jezabel’s fate would eventually reach the ears of his order and that they would spare no effort to hunt him down and recover the Grimoire. Guided by the Whispers, Darolan made his way through the unfamiliar streets and alleys of Hallisport until he came to a small curio shop. As promised, the young mage found the proprietor surprisingly eager to help him. In a just a few days, Darolan and a small band of followers set out from the city and headed north into the barbarian lands where Imperial soldiers were embroiled in a bloody campaign to pacify the Dorn.

Slowly the caravan snaked its way north. And as it did, Darolan’s followers grew in number and signs of Sarcosan civilization became a rarer sight. Finally the band numbering some hundred souls turned east and made its way through the foothills and into the steep Kaladrun Mountains. The group labored for days to move its heavy wagons up miles of steep mountain trail, until at long last Darolan Arkaman came to gaze upon the vale where the Whispers had driven him since leaving the familiar walls of Al Fenzah.

Darolan and his followers quickly enslaved the hard-scrabble Dornish clan inhabiting the valley and pressed the wretches into service. Over a period of nearly ten years, the valley was mined for materials and slowly changed into a dark and brooding place, shunned by animals and men alike. What few materials could not be extracted from the vale were delivered by occasional visits from shiftless southern traders who asked no questions and left with fat pockets.

In the high cliffs overlooking the vale, Darolan’s slaves enlarged a series of natural caves and created a massive underground retreat for their new master and his allies. Once completed, the darkmen – as the Dorn called them – seldom emerged, save to meet traders bearing an occasional shipment of rare herbs, special equipment, or tear-streaked and broken slaves.

Years passed, but Darolan did not spend his time idly. In addition to plumbing the Grimoire for its dark secrets, the wizard learned the art of skin craft from the local Dorn. Combined with his talent for rune magic and knowledge of the Grimoire, Darolan embarked on an ambitious project that would render him more powerful than any who might pursue him.

Using demons summoned, trapped, and bound to his will, Darolan planned to permanently infuse himself with demonic power that would render him nearly invulnerable and grant his body immortality. The intricate process took years to complete, as he enlaid every inch of his skin with tattoos of interwoven wards, sigils, and true names from the Grimoire of Ar-Ashaad bin Rashid.

But Darolan made a serious error. The Grimoire in which he'd placed his trust was but a translated copy of an even more ancient text from the Darghuul ages. Within its pages, the author – whether intentionally or not – had riddled the work with several errors. As Darolan prepared to bind the last of the demons to his flesh, several of them made a bid to seize control of the wizard. A mighty battle ensued between Darolan and creatures, during which many of the wizard's loyal servants were slain or driven howling with madness deep into the lair. The battle proved inconclusive and the demons fled Darolan's laboratory to feast on those trapped within the underground stronghold.

Only one of Darolan's apprentices managed to escape the orgy of death and mayhem by activating the lair's outer protective wards and sealing the great vault entrance behind him with one of three magical keys. This servant fled to the local Dornish community where he declared the people free and established himself as the local headman. His descendants have continued to serve the sheltered community as channelers and keepers of the key.

Thus, has Darolan Arkaman been a prisoner in a trap of his own making for the last several hundred years. Those parts of his body not enfused with demonic energies have long since died, rotted, and decayed, leaving him a horrible mismatch of working parts, but no less dangerous for it.
Logged

"Il n'est pas besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre ni de réussir pour persévérer" - Devise de la famille d'Orange
smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 01:06:13 PM »

And now for some DM notes:

• The events of Darolan’s seduction by the Whisper occur around the year 360 SA. In my campaign, Izrador seduced Darolan into stealing the Grimoire and drove him to build the lair to keep it safe. The Dark God knew that such a tome could be a powerful tool for his conquest of the good nations, but an equally powerful weapon if employed against him and his servants. Since he was too weak to seize control of the tome, he chose to secret it away until a time when it was needed. Events will now be set into motion that will lead to the Grimoire's remergence. What he hasn't counted on is the heroes. Will they have the stones to disrupt his carefully lain plans? We'll find out.

• The Whisper heard by Darolan could be many things, including genuine madness, eldritch magic emanating from Grimoire, or Izrador himself. In my campaign it will probably be Izrador since this fits in better with where I plan to take things.

• Darolan’s lair is extremely dangerous. Not only must the PCs learn of its existence and then find it, but they must somehow gain control to the key opening the Great Vault and then defeat the fixed defenses and traps lain centuries ago, along with a mixture of Fell, Demons, and Darolan himself. And that’s assuming there’s no Legate on their trail – which of course there will be. 

• Darolan has lived trapped and cut off from the outside world for the last several centuries. In that time no one has ever found his lair. Using his knowledge of Rune Magic, the wizard worked a series of powerful wards through the outer walls which prevent scrying or detection of any kind. Additionally, the wards activated by Darolan’s panicked apprentice have created a barrier through which no Outsider may pass. Since Darolan is at least partially infused with demonic energies, this unfortunately includes him. One of the nice campaign rewards – should the PCs see the opportunity – is a base in the Kaladrun mountains which is physically hidden and magically protected vs. detection by the Shadow’s servants.

• One other bonus… there is an Abjuration Power Nexus located within Darolan’s lair.

• The Grimoire itself is less dangerous and unbalancing than you might suppose. The book was transcribed by a wizard driven mad by too much understanding of the Elder things. Ar-ashaad bin Rashid’s copy of the Darghuul text include a number of errors that make using the Grimoire extremely dangerous. On top of that, many of the demons and devils originally named within its pages have since been destroyed or cut off from the world of men by The Veil. In short, only someone with immense power and knowledge (The Witch Queen, a Night King, or Izrador) could safely use it.

• Should the PCs recover the tome and return it to the Witch Queen’s court, the Grimoire will provide her with a powerful tool to neutralize many of Izrador’s most powerful servants and purchase her people precious time. Given her experience with the demonic seduction of her consort, it seems unlikely that the Queen would actually use the tome to summon and bind demons.

• Obviously the actual discovery of Darolan’s lair and recovery of the Grimoire should be major campaign events, achieved only after gallons of sweat, tears, and blood have been spilled. My next post will be a rough outline of the clues leading them to Darolan in my campaign.
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2006, 01:07:17 PM »

For now, here's how the Grimoire gets pulled back into current events:

The Elven Court learned of the Grimoire of Ar-Ashaad bin Rashid's existance from records recovered forty years ago. In that time, elven spies have been instructed to keep vigilant for any hint of the ancient tome's location.

Ten years ago, one of the Witch Queen's spies gained access to the Library of a Greater Legate in Theros Obsidia by taking the man's ambitious young subordinate (Legate Mohaad) as her lover. Since she knew there was no way to conceal her true goal, Silonia fed Mohaad stories of the tome's power and led him to believe she sought it in order to elevate his position and secure herself a place of power and comfort.

Over several months, Silonia began to piece together a slender trail of information which she kept to herself, while pointing Mohaad's attention to areas of research less likely to bear fruit.

Unfortunately, Silonia's treachery was revealed by Mohaad's Astriax just before she could escape to report her theory to the elven court. After weeks of torture, the elven spy was finally broken and told Mohaad that a copy of her report had been hidden away where elven couriers might find it. Fearing that others might question Silonia and learn of his part in her treachery, the Legate sealed her fate.

The chase was on! But the elves had too great a head start. If he would have any chance of capturing the couriers, Mohaad would need vast resources only available through his master. This created additional dangers, for Greater Legate Ganeaus would surely anihilate the young Legate if he learned Mohaad had allowed an elven spy to gain access to his library.

Mohaad created a careful story and reported to Greater Legate Ganeaus that the library had been compromised by elven spies who even now fled the Shadow's lands. Word was sent out to cast a net for the spies and Mohaad was personally charged by Ganeaus with their capture, under pain of death.

After weeks of hunting, the couriers were intercepted just short of their homeland by the young Baron of Graison and a patrol of his Lancers. Before any others could arrive to examine the courier's missives, the Baron secreted away one of the messages. Though he could not read elvish, anything important enough to cause such a hunt would surely be a valuable bargaining chip someday.
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2006, 01:08:13 PM »

And so it is, that the Baron has kept Silonia's last report in his possession for the last ten years:

My Queen,

I have uncovered information that may lead us to the location of Darolan Arkaman’s retreat and that which we seek. After combing through Greater Legate Ganeaus' libraries, I finally found a volume of ancient criminal records from the Sarcosan colonial period. Because the Empire made enormous financial demands on its colonies, careful records were kept of all business transactions and smuggling was a crime punishable by sen dresh farini. I don’t understand the context, but literally translated from Old Colonial it means “fate of the old kings”.

Operating on our limited knowledge of Arkaman, I narrowed my search to those smugglers convicted for operating in the Kaladrun region and north of Kardoling. My efforts were well rewarded.

The inventory records of a smuggler named Safi Balzan included a horde of items that would be of particular use to a wizard interested in abjuration magic. What was of greater interest was the fact that the merchant’s travel ledgers bore no record indicating delivery of these items - a fact no doubt used to establish his guilt. At the time of Balzan’s conviction, the area where he operated was relatively unknown to most Sarcosans and very few reliable maps existed that would have enabled them to investigate the matter further. Of the settlements mentioned in Balzan's records only a handful were recorded in contemporary maps.

Fortunately, I was able to skim ahead 300 years in the cartography section and recover several regional maps dating from the Sarcosan campaigns leading up to the foundation of Erenland. Of the many settlements mentioned in Balzan’s transaction ledger, only six appear on no maps whatsoever - hardly surprising given the number of isolated settlements and hidden dwarven holds dotting the region.

Of those I have eliminated two as active dwarf holds known to us through other records. That leaves only four remaining which I cannot account for:

Thrane – I've found mention of a Dornish Clan named Thrane. They appear to be a minor branch of House Chander, cast out as debtors and driven into the mountains during the Second Age.

Khorric – A dwarven name, possibly tied to Clan Khorloc or Clan Korric. Clan Khorloc is known to have surviving members in the besieged city of Cardolan. Clan Korric has not been heard from since the end of the Third Age, when they were known to inhabit Drumlen.

Drogendale – Drogen is a dwarven name, but it is unusual for their folk to add 'dale' as a suffix. Drogen was the name of an ancient dwarven deity – a smith of some kind. It was also the name attributed to a dwarven hero from the Second Age who was laid to rest somewhere in the southern Kaladrun range.

Gilden Hall – This is perhaps the most vexing, since both dwarves and Dornish are inclined to refer to their dwellings as "Halls". Gilden is of no particular import and could be attributed to either language. As the ledger is in Sarcosan, it offers no clue one way or the other.

It is in one of these locations that I believe Arkaman constructed his hidden retreat. Unfortunately, without additional information it will be nearly impossible to locate the settlements, if indeed they still exist.

If you are reading this it is likely because something has prevented me from reporting to you in person. In order to maintain secrecy, I have destroyed both my research notes and those of the Legate Mohaad. However, even this will not keep the Legates off our trail forever. Given sufficient time, even the humans will find the same clues I pieced together. It is therefore vital that we move quickly to locate and explore these four sites before the Shadow’s agents learn of their existance.

My relationship with Legate Mohaad has provided the access I've needed to his master's libraries, but it has come at a terrible personal cost. It is with a grim heart that I confide a great shame. In order to protect my cover and earn the Legate's trust, I have not only defiled myself, but perpetrated vile offenses against innocents – even some of our own people. I ask that you forgive me these terrible acts and pray that this information proves worth the price I and others have paid. May my wretched soul join the Great Whisper, ere it serve our people’s will.

Your faithful servant,

~ Silonia
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