[Inscribed in Dwarvish Runes, but with the Nogese word structure, in the cramped, anal script of a shopkeep or draftsman.]
YR 1362, Late Summer. The Bitter Blade, New Phlan
I am not one for dates, as I do not wish to write every day. Paper is precious and I am lazy. But some things are meant for reflection. Even if incriminating. For if you can read this script I am most likely dead or I have risen to become more powerful than the need for meditation on my early musings. Ah, but where to begin. Today I ran into Aram. The fool seems to think he knows where the bones of Duvanku are buried and has assembled a party of idiots to locate them. That is folly. Even though his religion is meant to stay the apocalypse, doesn’t mean they should seek out the keys and relics to do so.
Especially since Manos wishes to raise this dead god. Manos’ hate for the living is so great he wishes to unmake existence. Shame that I like existing. I must confess some interest in how events in Hillsfar has led to an ascension of sorts with Aram’s living “God”. Perhaps this power could be diverted to another mortal frame… my own. For now, I will tag along and play useful to Aram’s band. It has already proven fruitful, as he has fetched a spellbook and journal from a budding wizard named Donovan. I read it today. Mostly drivel. The author’s desire for building a new path of magic is misguided. What does one have to gain? Power is already in established paths. Better to find an obscure one already built than wasting your years on possibly fruitless research. The author also had a penchant for distractions such as pornography. I’ve seen better in mage’s shelves in Hillsfar. Really? Who’d want to boff a paladin? There’s probably rules & prayers involved. The most interesting part of it was Donovan’s love of portals & conjuration. The bit on blood, torture and sacrifice too. This I deem worth reading. I already feed one undying spirit life’s blood, best to know all I can about it, eh?
Torgo has been obsessed over fruit today. Calm down, bat! I’m sure that Thrall will bring something for you. He reacted well to that fear rune. He does deserve a treat.
Also Aram & Company were responsible for connecting me to Professor Swipe. The psion-thief has unlocked some potential I did not know was within me. I can now move things with my mind and even try controlling other’s frames. I believe it is best I do not advertise these abilities. I do not know the locals well enough to know if these powers are considered verboten. I am sure they will be useful in the future. I hope that some day I can teach others at this Hall. It would be a good cover for my continuing research. Coin needs to be be accumulated to eat. Right, Torgo?
And that brings me to this Professor Manabu. Quite the fascinating man. He is of schooling beyond me. I hope he proves to be a font of knowledge that I may drain. He can cast balls of fire, whereas I can only spell linear flames. Perhaps we will be able to dig up some secrets in the Valhingen Graveyard.
“My expertise is with the humanoids—orcs, goblins, and ogres—dwelling in the old city,” Manabu says. “I can tell you they avoid the graveyard, and have since the city last burned. I can’t tell you anything about what might be there now, but I do know that Valhingen Cemetery has been on that same spot since the city’s original founding in the year 367. A thousand years worth of corpses have been laid to rest in that place. Conservative estimates claim that at least a hundred thousand bodies have been laid to rest there, though I’d wager it’s several times more than that…”“A wise man would find a way to put those bodies to use,” He grins. “But, that is my time, I must get to my class. I keep office hours at the Bitter Blade during the Middle Watch. You can find me then if you want to chat more…”
Manabu might be lacking in some knowledge, however. He claims that Phlan was founded in 367! Manos himself has verified that the city was founded 4,000 years ago. Was I lied to? Or was it a test of my own esoteric studies? Or is Manabu too attached to learning about the unpure races? This is probably the case. Dirty orc kin. Some ogres were useful.
What I remember from Manos’ summoning earlier.
“Shortly after the rise of Myth Drannor,” the voice says, “the half-brother of the Coronal, our own king, came here. A small shipping port it was, impermanent, nothing. Where there was nothing, two cities were built, this one on the north shore, yours on the south, so that we might trade with the elves. Deep beneath the cities, in the waters that fed them, we placed the first two of the created, so that we might control the inhabitants. They contaminated the water and bewitched the mind and made the populace complacent. Easily ruled. Oozing, lurking, immortal things. Still there even now, I would suspect. You…”
“Time is short. What gift would you have for the morrow?”
The two Elder beings tainting the river are also of interest. The Nog were strong here and definitely profited from Myth Drannor. Which means ancient magics and artifacts may be buried in this ancient city still. Interesting Manos’ use of the term, Coronal. Even in modern elf speak, this word means, King. But the Nog were thought to be human. Perhaps there was Elven blood in the Necromancer Kings? This warrants investigation. I will find a sacrifice worthy of a stronger session with Manos on the morrow. For the moment, I am going to nap before my meeting with Wizard Manabu.
Continued… So I was awakened to find Embry and Aram requesting my assistance. Apparently, Durell picked a fight with a washerwoman, a young giant and a bunch of Red Hand tabarded orcs. He paid for it with a crushed skull and they were asking for my help. Well, the nonhumans definitely deserved a beating or worse. So we make to leave for the gates and we bump into Valerius Martialis Nerva of all people. Seems trying to leave Hillsfar only made more of Hillsfar visit, eh? So we head to the Market even though we were told Matteo was across from the Soup Kitchen. Go figure. The group Aram assembled is quite daft. Good to hide behind, but as I found out against the bugbears, shitty at detecting flankers. I fucked up. But at least that strange druid, doo-dad, Thrall had my back. Although he seemed angry about how we started a fight to begin with. Druids. He wouldn’t last 3 minutes in Hillsfar, I kid not. I had to let out a burst of malevolence when I came to. Market was on a verge of riot.
I briefly had a chance to speak with the dead bugbear. Learned nothing because of another one of Aram’s blunders. I am honestly stunned he’s still alive at his age. We finally made our way to Matteo’s. He claims the orcs are nice guys. He’s a slow feck. I memorized his mark though, and I should be able to tell who carries his blades if we kill any more filth he’s supplied. I fear possible insurrection. The mind numbing curse on this city has been lifted and there will be a psychic back lash at some point. I made an order for cold iron daggers. He used some words to make excuses for being slow and shitty at his job. I did get a sweet crowbar out of the deal. After following his directions to the library, we came across a statue that is most likely from a petrified adventurer. I bravely retreated to learn more before attempting the Library.
So we got back and I forced myself to socially bond with the Crusader… Uh, Sven. He’s okay for a dimwit. I also learned a bit watching Old Man’s Bones… a combination of dice and pick up sticks originally from Phlan. Seems fun, but I can’t stand gambling. Nuns seem to like it though. I also learned that the clergy will be of little use reversing petrification. I watched an execution with those nuns later this evening. So much more interesting than arena combat. I liked the behir. Lightning is a neat way to kill someone.
I did get to meet Professor Manabu again. Like most other wizards, he’s stubborn, full of himself and never thinks he’s wrong. I am the same. I sucked up to him and watched him drink himself into a choking fit. I’d like to think that was Manos’ doing, for the heresay concerning the Nogian Empire. He either does not want me to know the truth, or wants to suppress it’s memory. If that’s the case, I will keep my friend’s near. I did learn some more about ritual calcification and it’s magical reversal. Sadly, the spell is of the 6th Circle and very few known mages can cast it… at least in this region. It is good to know that we will most likely face basilisks. While I am not happy to hear of their commonality, at least we will be able to properly prepare a defense… something Aram usually forgets to do. I am to commune with Manos on the morrow. I will ask him who the Last King of Deckon Thar was. This should help in matters concerning Manabu in the future. I will make a point of visiting him with the other though.
“HAH! The Noga Empire? It’s a children’s story, a fairy tale, not even worthy to be called a myth. Just the result of a bad translation of Kazerabet’s Ars Necromantia by that blo-hard Lhaeo.” The old wizard shakes his head and blows a raspberry, “I don’t care if you’ve got bloody Elminster himself in your pocket, if you believe that there was a Noga Empire, you’re a bloody idiot. Phlan was founded in the year 367 as a trading post between the ogre kingdom of Kur-Tharsu and the elves of Myth Drannor.”
He empties another glass of whiskey, and laughs loudly. “As to unpetrifying someone. That is a spell of the 6th order. Which, so far as I know, should be beyond the capabilities of any mage in Phlan, except perhaps the Marquis, assuming the rumors about his power are true, or maybe the Sorcerer of the Isle, assuming the rumors of his murder by the Marquis are untrue…”
“Of course, I have access to books with the spells you seek, and, if you take my class, would be happy to let you copy them, on the off chance that you can find a mage capable of casting them.”
“Hah!” The old mage shakes his head, “You’re right barmy. Now Nog was founded by a half-elf? And Coronal Irithyl’s brother no less? And more than 4000 years before the Coronal Eltargrim opened the city to Humans? Next you’re going to tell me that you believe all that nonsense about Deckon Thar having been built by the Nogese instead of the Kur-Tharsu…” he almost spit-takes.
“And a Noga language?” He laughs even more, then empties another glass, “Another example Lhaeo’s idiocy. The child just didn’t know that Auld Tharian could be transliterated to Ogrish heiroglyphs and thought it was an entirely new language. Hah! And to say you’re fluent in it…”
“Whatever spirit you think you’ve got tucked away must be quite the jester…”
He laughs until he is out of breath. “Alright, let’s assume, just for laughs, that your ghost actually knows something and is’t just pulling your chain for his own amusement. Ask him who the last king of Deckon Thar was…”
The old wizard finishes the last of the bottle and stands up, “What? No. Cockatrices are really quite rare in this region, you’ll find Basilisks are much more common, especially in the ruins…”
Speaking of trust, the plain, blurry faced woman that shared the common room at the Blade tonight may have been using the same dweomer I possess. From the Path of the Black Road. Either a fellow wizard or assassin. If it’s not an item bestowing this boon, it means she is at least equal strength as me… and might definitely be stronger. Perhaps she is the rogue we are looking for in our adventures. Anyways, time to sleep. Torgo is already napping on my pillow.