It was a chamber suite unlike any the group had ever seen before. Though there were the usual bookshelves crammed with books and scrolls and typical office furniture laid out around the room, it was unusual in other ways.
Its primary inhabitant was a professor like no other. He was a Dwarven inventor and archeologist of ancient antiquities. With those credentials came the strange contraptions that and tinkering that adorned tables and hung from the ceiling. Ancient tomes sat in glass cases. Carvings in various stones told of lost civilizations and legends of long ago. In some ways it was no surprise that this particular individual would have some knowledge of the scrolls and the goings on in the world revolving around them.
Berwyn the Carver leaned against the cherry wood frame of the entrance to the great study before him. He had one of his blades out and was using it to clean his nails. He kept one ear toward the door and the other toward the conversation at the center of the room. Lord Orin stood by one of the windows peering past the slightly pulled curtain his right hand held. He still didn’t like being in this big city, there was too many places for enemies to hide, even though Brother Thomas made a good point that it had many places for them to hide as well. Still he kept watch in case they had been followed. Outside he saw students and teachers crossing the great commons area that was at the heart of the university.
In the center of the room seated comfortably on plush furniture sat Brother Thomas, Halfgrim, and a dwarf of unusual style and character. He wore beige billowy pants, a midnight blue floor length jacket over a white shirt, and a leathery apron with numerous pockets and loops and hooks. All kinds of tools, gizmos, and gadgets covered his apron to the point that he looked like a machine himself. He had a pair of spectacles on his face that had several eyes pieces of varying sizes and tinted glass. They seemed to move on their own when he tilted his head in certain directions, the eye pieces switching up and down.
“So, you are friends of Father Tillman? All the way from Helmcross? Yes?” He was jovial and too energetic for Lord Orin’s taste. He could tell though that Halfgrim was enjoying himself. He was smiling with his mouth wide open and looking around at the others.
Brother Thomas was amused by the dwarf but he knew they had limited time, “Yes we are, Father Tillman is the head priest at Helmcross and in service to Lord Orin Greystoke and his family.” He motioned to Orin by the window as he spoke.
“Greystoke, you say? Ah yes, there has been a Greystoke on the throne of Helmcross for a great many generations.” The dwarf mused as he grabbed hold of one of the monocle glasses on his face and gazed over at Lord Orin. “If I remember correctly, I met your grandfather once, Lord Orin. Oh about a hundred years ago we met when I was passing through Helmcross on my way to the Royal City of Othar for a lecture.” He smiled as he watched Lord Orin jerk his head at the mention of his grandfather.
“Lord Beramon Greystoke was a wise ruler back then and a good man.” Lord Orin responded as he adjusted his position to take in the group more.
“That’s right, Lord Beramon Greystoke, a good man indeed.” He smiled toward the great man before turning back to Brother Thomas. “Now how may I help you gentlemen? Is Father Tillman seeking information on something in particular? Or do you seek something for yourselves?” He continually smiled as he talked to them. Next to him sat a strange version of a tea pot, with several glass beakers and tubes running along the length of the table. Several beakers had different leaves in boiling water that swished and swirled through the tubes and ending in a great brass kettle.
“Tea, anyone?” The kettle spout began to whistle as he reached for a platter with several small white cups. Brother Thomas and Halfgrim both nodded as several cups were poured and passed around. Hudmo Grimbolt looked toward Lord Orin and his brother Berwyn as he raised a cup towards them. “Gentlemen?”
Both shook their heads no and then bowed in thanks for the offering. Lord Orin returned to watching out the window and Berwyn went back to his grooming.
“So now that the pleasantries have been dealt with, how may I be of assistance?” Hudmo set down his tea cup and clasped his hands together as he leaned forward in his chair.
Brother Thomas took another sip of his tea before setting down his cup. “Quite delicious master Dwarf, thank you for your kindness.” He rubbed his hands on his robes to get some feeling in them before continuing, “We have come on a mission of great importance, one that started in Helmcross and will lead us across the width and length of Anoria.” He looked at Halfgrim and then the others as he talked. He knew the Dwarf before him was the one Father Tillman spoke of and the one mentioned in the scrolls. But seeing this strange Dwarf before him, his mind held a few doubts and so he sided on caution.
“A mission of great importance you say? Hrumph! Everyone seems to be on a mission of ‘Great Importance’ these days,” he snickered, “what makes yours any different?” Hudmo reached into a side pocket on his apron and pulled out a copper pipe with gears and sockets along its length. He twisted a switch several times clockwise before reaching into another pocket and pulling out a pouch of leaves.
Halfgrim watched curiously as he too had pulled out his own pipe. Hudmo smiled at the other dwarf and offered his pouch of leaves. Halfgrim nodded a thank you as he added the leaves to his own pipe. Hudmo leaned over to a little rod that extended from the tea kettle, its tip glowing red. He pushed the leaf filled end against the rod until they started to smolder. He then reached over for Halfgrim’s pipe and did the same before passing it back.
The both smirked at one another as they began puffing on their pipes. Brother Thomas shook his head at the customs of Dwarves for he knew their time was precious. However, they had to concede to this professor’s whims until they had the other scroll.
“Master Grimbolt, I understand your concern about our mission being some foolish whims of treasure seekers, but I assure you we have come here on real business.” Brother Thomas leaned back as he pulled out a cloth to cover his mouth from the wisps of smoke that lingered in the air.
“Well now Brother Thomas there is indeed some things in this world that are indeed important and some that are not.” He nodded in agreement. “Now what is so important that I have been pulled from my classes and my inventions? Hmmm?”
Brother Thomas looked to Lord Orin for acknowledgement to proceed. “Go ahead, Brother Thomas, it is why we are here, and the scroll mentions him by name and description.” Lord Orin stepped forward a few paces, his arms crossed. The others nodded in agreement as Brother Thomas turned back to the Dwarf.
“Scroll? What scroll do you mean?” His interest finally peaked by this seemingly boring meeting. He took a few puffs on his pipe, the gears on the side turning quietly in an orderly fashion.
The priest dug around in his robes until he found an ivory tube with golden caps adorning both ends. Runes looked like they had been precisely burned image by image by a fire so intense one would be surprised it had burned right through. The tube split down one side to open and kept shut by an elaborate jeweled seal. Three rings divided at third intervals by rubies, diamonds, and emeralds adorned the top of the seal. Its center had an image of a dragon chasing an eagle around a circle. The center of the circle was a triangle with three spheres at its points.
Brother Thomas turned the three rings until a combination unlocked the scroll case. As the priest held the tube in his hands, he slipped his fingers along the edge to slowly open seam. Pure white light began to pour out of the seam, a light so bright that even a little a bit was blinding.
Hudmo had jumped to his feet and was reaching across the space toward Brother Thomas. “Do not open that here…” he looked around for moment, the other people in the room had all jumped to defensive positions at his outburst, “…not now, anyways.” He sat back down, visibly shaking as he pulled out a blue satin cloth from another pocket on his apron. Sweat was profusely beading down his face as he tried to wipe it off.
“Where…where did you get that?” He stuttered as he wrung out the cloth and began wiping again. He had a stern but worried look on his face as his eyes never left the scroll case.
Brother Thomas resealed the lock and slid the scroll case back into his robes. He looked at Lord Orin for a moment, silently conversing with one another.
We are on the right track, if he is this upset. He didn’t deny or try to hide that he knew what it was as soon as I started to open the case. Brother Thomas thought as he looked at Lord Orin.
Lord Orin seemed to think the same thing because he nodded for the priest to continue. “So you know what this is, and why we are here then?”
Hudmo looked around cautiously, especially at the windows and doors, “I know what it is, but did you get a hold of it?” He looked like he was being cautious but they could tell he was somewhat frustrated as well.
“Like we said before, we are here on a mission from Father Tillman. He was the one who gave us the scroll and told us to find you.” Brother Thomas was getting a little agitated by the Dwarf’s accusations and the blatant waste of time. “The Shadowlords have arisen and are already attacking key places. They are gathering forces in other places and they are looking for,” he pulled the scroll case out one more time, slightly agitated, “THIS!” He stared for a long moment at the Dwarf, he knew he should be calmer, but he was completely stripped of his calm by this Dwarf’s actions.
A great warmth washed over him, and all his anger faded away. He closed his eyes and bowed his head in shame. “Forgive me, Father…” Brother Thomas whispered to himself.
Thomas, you are better than this…
Hudmo is only being cautious, for he carries a great burden…
A glow surrounded Brother Thomas as he spoke silently with Eschua; the others sat quietly and watched.
Control your anger, don’t let it control you…
He is my servant and I have place a terrible responsibility on his shoulders for many years…
“Yes, my Lord,” Brother Thomas whispered and then looked up at Hudmo as the warmth began to slip away, taking his anger with it.
Remember, everyone has a place…
And a purpose…
“I will, Father,” a hand clasped on his shoulder. He placed his hand on Lord Orin’s hand and looked up at him.
“Are you ok my friend?” Lord Orin stared down at Brother Thomas with concern. They had been through a lot of things over the years and nothing has shaken his calm before like now has.
“I will be fine my friend,” he patted Lord Orin’s hand to reassure him, “I promise.” He looked back at Hudmo and composed himself before continuing their conversation. “I apologize for my temperament, but these are perilous times and we have to find all the scrolls before the Shadowlords do. And if they get the scrolls first,” He took a breath, his lungs burning from first the smoke fumes and now the stress of the conversation, “Darkness will reign.”
Hudmo had settled down as well, “I am sorry for my actions, but I have to be sure. Especially as you have said that the Shadowlords are searching for it as well.” He leaned back into his chair and relaxed a little bit. He picked up his pipe once more and did his best to allow the aroma to calm his nerves. He drank in the smoke through his nose and consumed the toxins from the leaves. He knew it was bad for his health but after was has been revealed he didn’t care right now.
Tristan had to go through the Registrar’s office before entering the city, which had taken too long. The crowds had been horrendous coming into the city and the city officials took a long time going through each new visitor. The one good thing was that they had a map of the great city that you could buy for 25 copper pieces. He looked at it now as he stood near a street vendor grabbing a bite to eat.
The lower level was broken up into several districts: The seaport and warehouses on the west side, the university to the north side, and the hospitality districts wrapping around the other sides of the lower city. With the university on the north side of the city, that meant that Tristan had to walk through the entire city to get to it. With Ferasi’s ship on the way that meant he had to hurry and find the fastest way possible across.
The street vendor was a towering seven foot tall man with ebony skin and a shaved head. He had faded red tattoos of various runes and animals across his upper body that he kept free of clothes. His lower half was covered in billowy satin blue pants with a red leather sash for a belt. At his sides were 2 strange weapons. Both had ivory short handles, but the blades were shaped like 4-pointed stars.
Tristan finished his meal and wiped his hands on his vest, “A fine meal, Mr.…?”
“Kothar, and thank you for the compliment,” the vendor stood watching the streets as people passed by. Every now and then he reached down to turn skewers of meat and vegetables over a clay pot that had coals simmering inside. The aroma wafting off the food made Tristan’s mouth water once more, even though he had just eaten. A savory honey dipped meat rubbed all over with peppers, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and then roasted until the meat began to fall off the skewers. Yes, Tristan had indeed picked the right vendor for lunch.
“Well, again, thank you Kothar. That was a fine meal,” He gave back his wooden plate and took a long draw from the wineskin that had come with the meal. The wine went down coolly on his throat and then he felt the slightest hint of fire and something sweet. He was surprised that he recognized the wine, something special that came into the Sanctuary from time to time.
“Kassima Wine? Is it Kassima Wine from down in the Whispering Sands?” Tristan licked his lips as he thought it over.
The ebony man smiled, “Yes, indeed it is Kassima Wine. Made in Sidon, my home town.” He pointed to himself and then toward the southwest. “How did you know that wine? You have had it before?” His eyes were wide with joy that someone knew something about his homeland.
“Yes I have had it before, in the Sanctuary of Nemalia. It is a place a long ways away from here on the Southern Reach.” He pointed out toward the east, at the mountain range far beyond the Firestone Range.
“Yes, yes. I know of it.” He said excitedly, “my brother, Halisham, make the journey every year. Perhaps you know him?” For a man his size he seemed too joyful, unless maybe he is like that when it came to his family.
“Yes actually I do remember him.” He raised his hand next to his shoulder, “About this tall? Long black hair braided down to his chest?”
Kothar nodded emphatically, “Yes, yes, that is him, and he has a large tattoo of a Sandworm on his back.” The vendor tried to explain with his hands.
Tristan remembered the tattoo well. It was the most detailed drawing of the great beasts of the desert he had ever seen.
“I remember it well; Halisham is a good man and a fair merchant.” Tristan grabbed his gear and prepared to leave. “I was wondering Kothar, if you could help me.”
Kothar dealt with a customer before turning back to Tristan, “If I can I would be happy to help.” In a show of respect he raised his fist to his chest and gave a quick sort bow. “How may I be of servi…”
A fireball erupted in mid air as an airship was consumed by flame and smoke. It tilted back and forth as its crew tried to keep it afloat but it was no good. Groaning under the pressure it listed hard toward the left before dipping violently as it fell like a rock. It plunged toward them until it disappeared behind the rooftops as Tristan and Kothar were greeted by an earthquake. The ground shook from the proximity of the impact and the buildings swayed from the force. Pillar of black clouds shot toward the sky like a geyser.
Overhead the sounds of thunderous cannon fire echoed off the great rock pillars that held the second level of the city high above them. Tristan and Kothar watched as the massive airship pummeled 2 other airships with its broadside cannons. The airship on the port side must have taken a direct hit to its power core, for the next second it imploded before shattering into a thousand splinters.
The explosion caught 2 more ships nearby, causing major damage but they managed to stay airborne. The ships pulled away as fast as they could, trying to stay out of range of the attacking cannons. The ship on the starboard side wasn’t fairing much better. Half of its sails were damaged and smoke could be seen pouring out of several places.
“Eschu’ la ma…” Kothar whispered as he watched the destruction.
“Father of mercy, indeed…” Tristan translated as he saw several crew members rain down on the city rooftops below. He bowed his head and said a quick prayer to Eschua for the lost souls. “Kraxus…Ferasi…” He said barely above a whisper in a mixture of anger and sadness. “Ferasi, don’t do this, please…” He pleaded to the wind.
The streets were in turmoil at this point. People ran for cover or to find help.
Others simple just ran.
Carts were overturned, animals broke free and people were trampled over. Warning bells ringing through the city barely could be heard over the battle.
Just then a young woman came running through the crowd. Her ebony skin was darker than Kothar’s and she had long charcoal hair that swung in a braided length down to her waist. She wore simple red dyed leather pants with a white silken blouse. Instead of the star blades like Kothar’s, she carried 2 coiled whips that seemed familiar to Tristan.
“Brother are you well?” She was wrapped up in his arms in a great hug that lifted her off the ground.
“I am well, sister. Are you?” Kothar se her down and looked her over. Tristan noticed ash on her blouse and she had a few bruises on her arms and left cheek.
“You have been in a fire or near one,” Tristan said as he walked over to the siblings. “Are you hurt at all? I have some supplies with me.”
“I am fine, and yes, I was near the crashed airship…” She looked questioningly at her brother.
“My deepest apologies,” said Kothar; he turned to indicate his sister, “This is my sister, Mish’ka. Mish’ka this is…” his face reddened a little, “forgive me, I did not get your name.”
“Tristan, Tristan Taurel,” he bowed…
Tristan fell into a roll and then spun around to see what happened. The ship finally exploded on the port side. The whole section was missing as it turned slowly clockwise and dipping further down. Tristan could see inside the ship as cargo, cannons, and crew members slid out of the hole and plummeted toward the city. Even from where they stood Tristan could hear their dying screams.
His heart sank when he saw what happened next. The ship began picking up speed as it fell toward the city. Kraxus continued to rain death on the ship as it fell, ripping the last of the sails to shreds. The Kraxus fired right through the deck; its wooden flooring erupting as a fault line tore through the ship. The energy of the core showed emerald green as it blasted through several sections of the ship.
Mish’ka gasped, “It’s headed this way!” she pointed toward the ship as she began to back away. Tristan and Kothar saw that she was right and both backed slowly up as well.
“I believe introductions are over Kothar,” they turned to run through the crowds that were stampeding down the main street. The ship bore down on them as it loomed over the buildings behind them. The creaking wood and groaning metal echoed through the streets like a wounded beast.
They ran down a side street to get away from the crowds as a shadow covered the rooftops above them. They all looked up in time to see the ship crash into the buildings behind them. Windows shattered, raining glass down onto the cobbled streets before them. The impact of the ship’s hull launched the debris of 2 shattered buildings into the air. The shockwave knocked people down and threw carts and materials spinning and crashing down the streets and through homes.
“Run!” Tristan yelled.
“Don’t stop! Don’t look back!”
They darted down another alley as a wave of flames washed down the street they were on from the collapsed power core. The flames and debris splashed against the side of the building like water and came rushing after them.
The 3 of them raced down the alley bathed in heat and sweating profusely as they came to another alleyway. They made their way down several more streets and alleys until they were away from the devastation. Tristan, Mish’ka, and Kothar step into another square almost half way across the city. The second level now overshadowed them as they looked around.
Kraxus was now battling 3 military airships over the gates Tristan had first come through. One airship had already taken a beating and had slowly limped away from the reach of Kraxus’ cannons. The other 2 were damaged but still attacking Kraxus from both sides. Kraxus had a few damaged spots and several scorch marks but otherwise it was unscathed. Its 40 cannons blasted away at the 2 ships with wild abandon. Those that missed pummeled into the buildings below. Several homes and shops lay in ruins; their smoking remains a testament to the firepower of the airship above.
They stood in the shadows of an empty café trying to catch their breath and check for any injuries. “Why is the Kraxus suddenly attacking the city? It hasn’t been seen in this area for almost a year.” Kothar shook his head as he stared at the battle above. Even from there the smell of burnt cedar and pine wafted through the streets. Other smells of cooked flesh and cloth mingled with numerous other aromas threatened to overwhelm their senses.
“That would…most likely…be my fault,” Tristan huffed and breathed deeply as he steadied himself.
Mish’ka and Kothar turned and stared, mouths dropping. Mish’ka recovered first, “Why would the Kraxus let alone, Captain Scarlet Ferasi be after one man? Why risk attacking Abydos, for just…one…man?”
Tristan crossed his arms as he looked up at the battle. He thought for a moment on how to proceed.
How can I trust them with? He asked himself.
He shook his head at his own folly.
If there is no trust then how do we stand strong to fight back? How can we hope to prevail if we don’t stand together?
The windows rattled in front of Lord Orin, startling him as he watched the university residents walking through the commons area. Glass clinked and clattered from the distant thunder on Hudmo’s serving tray.
“What in the…” Halfgrim slipped from his seat as another rumble shook the building.
Berwyn stood straight, staring into nothing as he strained his ears as he listened to the distant noises. Other sounds could be heard now, including raised voices in the hallway and the sounds of people rushing down the halls.
“There’s a commotion outside,” Orin said as he pulled back the curtains a bit. “Some people are running away while others are pointing toward the south.”
Several more thumps preceded more jolts in the room. A couple of books teetered on the edge of the shelves before crashing down to the floor in random piles. A tall wine glass tipped over and now rolled back and forth as its momentum began to slow.
Brother Thomas leaned forward on the couch and bowed his head as he whispered, “Father above, if it’s your will, open my eyes to the world around us.”
Hudmo listened intently as the priest continued, “Guide my vision so that I may see friend and foe.”
Visions began to swiftly pass by his mind’s eye, lasting just long enough for him to glance at each scene.
“What is it Thomas? What do you see?” Orin moved over to the center of the room and leaned on the back of the couch.
Halfgrim sat in silence listening for Brother Thomas’ reply. He had seen his friend before perform this little ritual, and if Eschua answered it was a very helpful tool.
Brother Thomas winced in pain, “Blood running across cobbled streets…flames raging across buildings.” A look of dread passed over his face, “People falling from the sky to their deaths…Destruction and fire raining down from above.”
“Destruction and fire from above?” Halfgrim pondered aloud, “People falling from the sky?” He looked quizzically toward Hudmo who was deep in thought.
The dwarf professor looked out the windows and saw people pointing toward the skies to the south. He frowned as he listened to the thundering sounds and felt the room shake again.
“It’s an airship attacking other airships and the city as well.” He shook his head in sadness as he closed his eyes, listening to the battle outside.
Brother Thomas winced as more visions washed over him, “A lethal beauty…death on wings.”
Hudmo leaned forward as he listened to the priest, while puffing quietly on his pipe.
“Serpents of fire…”
“A…” he abruptly stopped. He leaned forward as if looking in great detail at something.
Hudmo almost dropped his pipe. He stared into the face of Brother Thomas and saw that his eyes were rolled back into his head. He reached toward the priest with his right hand stretched out.
Thomas teetered on the edge of his seat as if about to fall.
“Brother Thomas? Are you…”
Don’t touch him!” Lord Orin put his hand out in warning. “Not when he is like this. His mind will be ripped apart in different directions if you do.”
Hudmo recoiled his hand and sat back. He nodded an understanding to Lord Orin and then began to ponder the new visions. He thought them over…
Serpents of fire? Death on wings?
Suddenly Brother Thomas cried out in pain, “Malak’s Leviathan has come!!”
To answer that, several booms nearby the university followed his cry and shook the very foundations of the building.
Hudmo jumped to his stubby feet, dropping his pipe without a thought about it. “Kraxus! It has to be the Kraxus. Only that beast is captained by a woman of terrible beauty.” He ran to one of the shelves that was labeled ‘Past Events’ in a brass plaque. 4 bookcases were dedicated to scroll upon scroll of the last 100 years of history.
He zipped along the shelf until, “A ha! I found it!” He pulled a fairly new scroll of the shelf; its tan paper only slightly wrinkled. Untying the cream colored ribbon that wrapped around it, he unfurled the scroll across the table where they sat.
Berwyn stayed near the door but turned some of his focus on the professor. Halfgrim leaned in close, studying the scroll’s contents as Hudmo skimmed through it.
“Crop statistics…Obituaries…” Halfgrim glanced at Berwyn with a smirk as Hudmo continued his rambling. Lord Orin kept a watchful eye on Brother Thomas who still looked like he was in a catatonic state of mind.
“Here we go,” Hudmo held the scroll in one hand and leaned back in his chair. “The Kraxus over the years has plagued airship lanes and has even harassed our great city a few times. But nothing like this…” He raised his hand toward the thundering bombardment beyond. “The captain…” He looked at the scroll for a second, “Ferasi has even been seen in the city on several occasions, and each time there has been a body or two left in her wake.” Hudmo lowered the scroll and adjusted his glasses as he turned his gaze toward Lord Orin.
“She is someone not to underestimate, my lord. I saw her once out there, at the commons area, confronting a former lover.”
Halfgrim coughed in surprise.
“Yes, it seems she takes on many lovers, especially since they all end up dead at one point or another.”
“Sounds like a keeper, professor,” Berwyn chided with a slight smirk. “What happened to the guy?”
Hudmo winced at the thought, “Well, she is famous for her two chain whips that are serrated on all sides, so…” He shrugged his shoulders innocently.
“Yeah, no need for details Hudmo.” Lord Orin raised a hand up in defense.
“What are ‘death on wings’ and ‘serpents of fire’ mean? I am guessing draconic in origin but how can she get her hands on them?” Halfgrim asked as he took the scroll from Hudmo and returned it to the shelf. He lingered over some of the titles as he waited for the other dwarf to answer.
“You are right, master Axethrower, they are referring to Drakes.” Hudmo held onto one side of his glasses as he spoke.
Berwyn winced at the though, for he knew they are some of the nastiest and deadliest creatures in Anoria.
“Reports have been coming in saying the Kraxus houses at least 6 of the beasts, including one ridden by Ferasi herself.”
“She rides the blasted beasts? And her favorite weapons are chain whips?” Halfgrim glanced at Berwyn with a smile, “sounds like your kind of gal, my friend.”
Berwyn smiled, teeth bared, and fingering his blade as he winked at Halfgrim.
Brother Thomas moaned and swayed back and forth before speaking, “The eagle and the dragon is here…” He grabbed his forehead in pain as Lord Orin put a hand on his shoulder to steady him.
“The eagle and the dragon are here…” This time he said it with more fervor. Brother Thomas’ eyes rolled back into place as he gathered himself up and patted Orin’s hand, “Thank you friend, I am fine now.” Brother Thomas bowed his head for a moment. The pain was almost unbearable and there were still images lingering in his head. “What was the last thing I said? What was the last vision?” His head was splitting but he mentally began to go through exercises to dull the pain.
“”It was, ‘the eagle and the dragon is here,’ Brother Thomas,” Halfgrim chimed in after he saw Lord Orin nod at him to answer. “Do you know what that means?”
Lord Orin pulled out a wineskin and handed it over; Brother Thomas took it enthusiastically for his throat was dry as a desert. It was a side effect, like the headache, of the visions he received from Eschua. He drank long and deeply for a moment, allowing the cool liquid to quench his throat and help dull the headache a bit.
“It means, my Dwarven friend, that the last member of our party is here in the city.” He gave back the wineskin and nodded a thank you to Lord Orin. “It means that Tristan Taurel will be here soon and we can continue our journey.”
Halfgrim was a bit confused, “Why is this Tristan fellow, sent by Father Alban, referred to in that way?”
Hudmo got up just then and headed towards a small ashen grey metal door behind his desk. “It means that the man, Tristan, holds the key to the scrolls and the gateway,” he touched a blood red gem embedded in the center of the door surrounded by several others. He tapped several of them in a sequence and repeated it 3 more times. Each time he turned a ring that encompassed the gems; first one way and then the other. Gears cranked, whirled, and clicked as they turned through their routine maneuvers. Finally there was a pop and a hiss as the door slid back. Hudmo reached in and felt around until he found what he was looking for. Standing up he turned around holding a brass cylinder with both ends rounded like a ball. It was no more than 6 inches long and there was a sequence of gems imbedded into one side. A brass crescent wrapped around Hudmo’s fingers where he held onto it; giving it the look of a dull blade.
“What in Anoria is that thing?” Halfgrim asked wide-eyed as he stared at the contraption.
Brother Thomas smiled, “That would be a key, Halfgrim.” He folded his robes about him as he stood, feeling a chill all of a sudden.
“I thought we came for a scroll? Not a key,” the dwarf folded his arms in a know-it-all fashion.
“My dear Halfgrim, we did indeed come for a scroll but it is in a vault that that key goes to,” the priest turned to Hudmo for acknowledgement.
“Indeed it does, but in order to get the scroll we need the talisman you friend,” Hudmo looked to the priest, “Tristan is it? Has in his possession.”
Brother Thomas walked over to Berwyn by the door and beckoned for Halfgrim to follow, “Berwyn I need you two to find the child and Tristan. The rendezvous was at the university entrance,” Lord Orin cam over then, “once you have them Lina can take you to the vaults,” He pointed to Lord Orin, “where we will be getting the scroll.”
Berwyn and Halfgrim gathered up their things and said their goodbyes to the others. After that Berwyn took the lead as he and Halfgrim slipped out the door and into the crowded halls. The battle seemed to have moved off toward the east a bit. The thunderclaps of cannon fire was now only a dull thudding as they made their way through the university.